Fremantle History Centre leaves its mark on new Freo.Social venue 

A historical photo from Fremantle History Centre’s collection has taken pride of place on a wall inside popular new music venue Freo.Social.

The 1895 building, originally an artillery drill hall, was recently renovated in collaboration with the National Trust and features a suite of interpretation artwork. Included in the artwork series is a historical photo of the Fremantle Volunteer Rifle Band believed to date back to 1886.

City of Fremantle Local History Engagement Officer Stewart Alger said the 1886 photo was sourced from Fremantle History Centre’s collection and recreated as a large-scale, floor-to-ceiling digital print on the ‘Situation Room’ wall in the venue.

“It’s an extraordinary photo, perhaps even one of the earliest photos we have on record of local Fremantle musicians,” Mr Alger said.

“While the Fremantle History Centre is dedicated to preserving and documenting Freo’s rich past, it’s also so important to make this history accessible to community and share these hidden treasures.

“We were thrilled to collaborate with Freo.Social’s social history curator on this innovative and contemporary way for sharing Fremantle’s history.”

The Fremantle Volunteer Rifle Rifle Band photo was donated to the Fremantle History Centre by Andrew Simmonds, who’s passionate about genealogy and came across the photo while researching and tracing his ancestors.

“Donors like Mr Simmonds play an important part in sharing stories about Fremantle’s history,” Mr Alger said.

“If you do have any historical photos, letters, records or memorabilia that have been passed down through the generations, we’d love to hear from you.

“We depend on these types of contributions from residents, business and organisations to help us keep the history of Fremantle alive for today’s generation and future generations to come.”

For more information about the Fremantle History Centre, visit the City’s website.

Triple 1 Three Brand and Communications Manager Sally Tucker, City of Fremantle Local History Engagement Officer Stewart Alger and Andrew Simmonds in the Situation Room at Freo.Social.

Demolished & Unbuilt: The Mayor’s Alternative Fremantle History Cycle Tour

As part of the Fremantle Hertiage Festival I will be once again running  an Alternative Fremantle History Cycle Tour called “Demolished & Unbuilt:”

Fremantle is a city of layers with thousands of individual planning choices shaping the unique place that it is today. Join Mayor Brad Pettitt on a bike tour exploring what could’ve been – the stories of the unbuilt and the historical saves. Be it the casino proposed for Victoria Quay in the 80s or the demolition of half of the West End’s High Street for a highway in the 70s, join the Mayor to muse, lament and celebrate Fremantle’s historical planning decisions. Meet under RAINBOW, bring your bike. The tour ends in the Fremantle CBD. Numbers strictly limited, bookings essential.

There are a couple of places left for the ride this Saturday (11 May 2019, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm) so if you are interested here’s where you can sign up:

Australian Heritage Festival in Freo

And if the City of Fremantle International Street Arts Festival wasn’t enough festival activity for you then there is also the month-long Australian Heritage Festival 2019 also kicking off tomorrow in Fremantle.

The City of Fremantle has hosted its own Heritage Festival for a number of years, and is thrilled to be part of the Australian Heritage Festival’s program this year.

The Australian Heritage Festival has 159 events registered in WA, and we are proud that 40 of them will be hosted in Fremantle.

In this year’s Fremantle program, you’ll find inspiring guided tours at WA’s only World Heritage-listed building Fremantle Prison, and plenty more across the city’s important heritage sites.

Collectors Weekend on 18-19 May is shaping up to be a fantastic addition, and of course, I’m pleased to be involved in the bike tour again where I’ll present stories of the unbuilt and historical saves across our city.”

Australian Heritage Festival 2019 runs from 18 April – 19 May. The theme this year is Connecting People, Places and the Past.

For more information about the festival’s events, visit the Australian Heritage Festival website.


Highlights include:


Collectors Weekend: Claudia Chan Shaw

Claudia Chan Shaw presents on the Art of Collecting. Claudia is widely known around Australia as co-host and present on ABC TV’s popular program Collectors and is a presenter on Eastside Radio 89.7FM.

Free (bookings required

WA Maritime Museum

Saturday 18 May, 11am


Fish Guts and All – The Return

The successful and colourful tour returns. Let’s dive deeper and explore the undercurrents that created the fishing industry in Freo. Where the fishermen and women mended and made their nets, processed their fish and refitted their boats. Street the streets and ride in style to places that used to be.

Wednesday 1 May – Friday 3 May, 2-4.30pm


Demolished and Unbuilt: The Mayor’s Alternative Fremantle History Cycle Tour

Returns after being sold out the last two years!

Fremantle is a city of layers with thousands of individual planning choices shaping the unique place that it is today. Join Mayor Brad Pettitt on a bike tour exploring what could’ve been – the stories of the unbuilt and the historical saves.

Free (bookings required:

Saturday 11 May, 2pm

Rainbow, 1 Canning Hway


Waalyalup Waarkiny

Art, craft workshops, storytelling and music performance. Wadjuk Nyoongar Richard Walley and family will deliver creative cultural workshops for children e.g. toolmaking and clay modelling. Children will get the opportunity to make a small tool using clay.


Fremantle Town Hall

Saturday 4 May

10.30 – 3pm


Fake News and False History: Peter Greste

Join us for the annual keynote address of the Fremantle Heritage Festival, delivered by the internationally renowned journalist Pete Greste. In this fascinating keynote address, Greste will explore the complex issues of truth and lies as it relates to our past, present and future.

Free (bookings required)

Tannock Hall, University of Notre Dame


Streamlined approvals to benefit West End property owners


Property owners in Fremantle’s historic West End will benefit from a streamlined approvals process for minor works on their buildings.

Under a new legislative framework approved this week, the City of Fremantle will now be able to approve minor works to heritage-listed buildings in the West End without needing to refer the proposal to the Heritage Council.

Cutting red-tape for property owners is another benefit of having the entire West End of Fremantle included on the State Register of Heritage Places.

The largely intact gold rush-era streetscapes in the West End are something that really make Fremantle special and differentiate the city from the rest of Perth. The City of Fremantle nominated the West End for inclusion on the State Register and worked very closely with the State Heritage Office and property owners for more than a year to make it happen.

It was always part of that plan to streamline the heritage assessment and approvals process to make it quicker and easier for West End property owners to look after their buildings and put them to good use.

The West End became the largest single place to be permanently included in the State Register of Heritage places in July 2017.

The Heritage Council’s Delegations Framework grants the City of Fremantle authority to assess minor or routine works to heritage buildings, in accordance with Section 11 of the Heritage of Western Australia Act 1990.

Proposals for moderate to major works to a heritage building will still be referred to the Heritage Council for advice and comment.

The heritage listing of the West End also gives property owners the opportunity to access state government funding through the Heritage Council of WA grants program.

Recipients in the latest round of heritage grants included St John’s Anglican Church in Kings Square and the commercial building at 3 Pakenham Street.

Is High Street in Fremantle WA’s most historically rich street?

The West Australian yesterday (Kent Acott

A nice way to start the year in Freo:

Is High Street in Fremantle WA’s most historically rich street?

You could mount a fairly strong argument that Fremantle’s High Street is the most historically important street in WA.

That is certainly the view of the port city’s mayor Brad Pettitt.

Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt on High Street looking east.
Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt on High Street looking east. Picture: Sharon Smith

“From a heritage perspective, the west end of High Street is probably the most significant street in WA, with the Round House — WA’s oldest public building — at one end and the magnificent Fremantle Town Hall — built in 1887 — at the other,” he said.

“It’s a wonderfully intact street at the centre of a wonderfully intact heritage precinct.

Fremantle Harbour, blasting, 1894.
Fremantle Harbour, blasting, 1894.Picture: State Library of WA

“In 2017, the entire west end of Fremantle became the largest single place to be permanently included in the State Register of Heritage Places thanks to its incredible collection of gold-rush-era buildings, which reflect the growing confidence and civic pride in WA at the turn of the century.

“Interestingly, the heritage streetscape along High Street that we all love today was only made possible through the demolition of dozens of buildings dating from the original settlement of Fremantle in 1829.

Construction of Victoria Quay, Fremantle Harbour, circa 1892-97.
Construction of Victoria Quay, Fremantle Harbour, circa 1892-97.Picture: State Library of WA

“In the context of the current renewal of the east end of Fremantle, it’s a reminder that Fremantle has always been a dynamic place, renewed and refreshed over time.

“It has been especially gratifying to see the adaptive reuse of these heritage buildings into a new range of interesting 21st century businesses and seeing this part of High Street come back to life.”

High Street, 1895.
High Street, 1895.Picture: State Library of WA

Of course, at Fremantle’s heart is its harbour.

In the early days of the settlement, shipping was served by a jetty that extended into the open sea from Bathers Beach.

High Street, 1890-1900.
High Street, 1890-1900.Picture: State Library of WA

In 1897, government engineer C.Y. O’Connor oversaw the deepening of the harbour and removed the limestone bar and sand shoals from its entrance — thus creating a serviceable port for commercial shipping.

The two moles were built to protect the harbour entrance and land was reclaimed to build quays and warehouses. The inner harbour was opened on May 4, 1897. The harbour’s basic structure and layout remain the same today.

Destination WA episode on Fremantle Tours

This Destination WA episode on Fremantle Tours is good fun and worth a look.

Fremantle Town Hall Restoration the Best in the Nation

The meticulous restoration of the historic Fremantle Town Hall has taken out a national construction industry award.

McCorkell Constructions, the City of Fremantle’s contractor on the $3.1 million project, won the ‘National Commercial Historical Restoration/Renovation’ award at the Master Builders Australia National Excellence in Construction awards on the weekend.

The 2018 MBA National Awards Dinner was held on Saturday at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

 The Town Hall restoration became eligible for the national awards after winning the state award in July. The project was also recognised with a WA Heritage Award earlier this year.

Everyone involved in the Town Hall project should be proud of their achievement.

The Town Hall is obviously a very important building for Fremantle and one that we all cherish. The level of skill and attention detail that was required to return the Town Hall to its original splendour was quite remarkable, so for the project to be recognised as the best historical restoration in Australia is a well-deserved reward.

The restoration of the 130-year-old Town Hall, which was completed in May 2017, was the largest heritage conservation project ever undertaken by the City of Fremantle.

It reinstated the building’s traditional appearance by stripping the paint off the walls to reveal the original stucco exterior, and also included reconstructing the slate roofs and refurbishing the historic clock.

A further $250,000 has been allocated to begin restoring the interior of the building.

The recent demolition of the adjoining 1960s City of Fremantle administration building has revealed the rear walls of the Town Hall for the first time in around 120 years.

City Heritage Officer Gena Binet said the original limestone on the east facing wall was in much better condition than anticipated.

“We could not conserve or inspect the rear walls of the Town Hall during our recent external conservation project because they were hidden by the old administration buildings,” Ms Binet said.

“We were concerned they may have been damaged when the 1960s building was built or that they may have been rendered with cement, which would have caused the stone to deteriorate.

“This part of the wall is like a time capsule recording how the building has changed over the years. You can see where new openings have been made and then blocked up, plus the scars of earlier structures like fire escape stairs.


“However, we are puzzled by one of the blocked up openings – the upper level one closest to the High Street Mall. It doesn’t seem to serve any purpose, so if anyone has any ideas why it’s there we’d love to hear from them.”