A Self-Guided Bike Tour of Freo’s Alternative History: “Demolished and Unbuilt”

Over the last couple of weekends as part of the Fremantle Heritage Festival I ran a free alternative history bike tour called “Demolished and Unbuilt”. It was lots of fun but I know many of you missed out as it was fully subscribed.

So I thought I would post the tour so that you can take you and your mates on a ride through Freo’s alternative futures if you are so inclined. It starts at the Rainbow and finishes at the Norfolk. Enjoy!

Fremantle’s 130 year old Town Hall new lease of life on 9 News

Woolstores in heritage win

At last night’s WA state heritage awards, Fremantle developments featured heavily in the shortlisted adaptive reuse projects from the MSC restoration to the commended Hillcrest in North Fremantle.

But there could only be one winner and well done to the Match and Sirona team on Heirloom Woolstores

Here is how The West reported it:

Woolstores in heritage win by Saturday, 27 May 2017


Three apartment blocks have been created within Fremantle’s woolstores.
Three apartment blocks have been created within Fremantle’s woolstores.

WA’s biggest residential redevelopment — the $70 million refurbishment of Fremantle’s derelict Dalgety woolstores — has been acclaimed as one of the State’s top heritage projects.

It won two categories in last night’s annual Heritage Council awards, less than a decade after there were calls for the 94-year-old building to be demolished.

Within the building’s brick shell, three apartment blocks have been created with 183 new units — some selling for as much as $1.4 million.

Award judges said the project heralded a new era for Fremantle.

They said the transformation was “testament to the dedication and financial commitment of its owners; extensive planning and collaboration with local, State and heritage authorities; flexibility and the use of innovative solutions”.

“The adaptive reuse … was a massive undertaking that required its owners to reach above and beyond to find innovative solutions to conserve and enhance original heritage fabric while satisfying building, safety and utility requirements, as well as customer expectations,” they said.

The woolstores were built between Queen Victoria and Beach streets in 1923 for £75,000. A floor was added in 1944.

From this floor, giant hoists (or “wool elevators”) were specially made to lift 160-240kg bales of wool from the basement.

As part of the restoration project, much of the original exposed brickwork, century-old jarrah beams and warehouse-style framed windows have been kept.

In fact, there has been minimal intervention to the structure of the four-storey building.

The wool stores project won the prestigious Gerry Gauntlett award for excellence in conservation and the adaptive reuse award.

Gallop House in Dalkeith and North Fremantle’s Hillcrest also received adaptive reuse commendations.

Other winners announced last night include Friends of Australian Rock Art, Engineering Heritage WA, the Shire of Murray, the Monsignor Hawes Heritage Centre in Geraldton and the Busselton Jetty Experience.

The Fremantle Town Hall is back in its original skin

Be there as we mark the completion of the Fremantle Town Hall external conservation, the most significant heritage project we’ve ever undertaken. Join us for this free event Friday 26 May 2017, 11:30am to 12 noon outside the Fremantle Town Hall. Part of the Fremantle Heritage Festival.

See the flag being raised onto the new flagpole on the refurbished tower for the first time in a decade, the town hall clock ceremonially restarted and the bells sound out after being silent for 12 months. This will be followed by a group photo outside the completed Town Hall to officially record this important event.

Also check out this great little article and the video on the clock below:




Vale Rusty Christensen

Rusty Christensen was a Fremantle legend and sadly passed away last week. Rusty was 89. I always enjoyed my chats over the years with Rusty and he would often tell me stories about my own Father’s exploits in his youth.

The Fremantle History Society said it especially well:

 “[Rusty’s] Fremantle provenance was impeccable. His grandfather sailed into Fremantle on a square rigger and started the family. Famous for the Bush Poets – those of us who were at the Pub Lunch at The Rose Hotel in North Fremantle will not forget his story telling talents. Fremantle history owes him a great debt. His memory was extraordinary, his love of sharing infectious and his humour and wit always ready. We will never see his likes again

Rusty’s funeral will be at the Fremantle Cemetery, West Chapel on Thursday 25 May at 2pm

For a taste of his legendary story telling here is an piece he did on Radio National some years ago:




America’s Cup 30th Anniversary Dinner

It is extraordinary to think that 30 years has passed since Fremantle’s defense of the America’s Cup. As part of the Fremantle Heritage Festival, there will a special event to mark this momentous event, that changed Fremantle and indeed, the entire Perth region forever. It will be a night of yachting fun and history at the WA Maritime Museum.

As part of a collaboration between The National Hotel and the WA Maritime Museum, speakers will include:

  • Brian Burke (1987 WA Premier),
  • John Longley (Australia II crew member and Bond team representative),
  • Peter Gilmour (Kookaburra III starting helmsman and tactician, WA sportsman of the year 1987) and more to be announced.

Tickets include: Three course dinner, wine and drinks and a live band and dancing to the finest hits of the eighties featuring “Some Like it Yacht”.


Fremantle Heritage Festival 2017 – 30 years on from the America’s Cup Defence

This year’s Fremantle Heritage Festival celebrates those who have created history and along the way made a lasting contribution to what Fremantle is today. Some of these contributions were planned, some accidental, but all worth reflecting on.

This year we will have a special focus on one of the biggest contributions to Fremantle’s modern history – the America’s Cup Defence of 1987.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 30 years since Fremantle took its place on the world stage to host the most prestigious sailing race of them all. Our port city underwent major redevelopment in the lead-up to the Cup in anticipation of the world’s media attention and influx of spectators.

Paying homage to the legendary race as part of this year’s festival, the National Hotel is teaming up with the WA Maritime Museum to present America’s Cup Defence 30th Anniversary Dinner – a night of tall tales, dinner and dancing at the WA Maritime Museum.

The WA Maritime Museum is also inviting people to share your photos from the event 30 years ago.

Fremantle’s legendary West End is again a huge focal point for the festival. Since the last Fremantle Heritage Festival, the entire West End has been included in the State Register of Heritage Places. This is a fantastic achievement which ensures Fremantle’s heritage buildings can be enjoyed by future generations. The festival is a great time to engage with this historic precinct by taking a tour of some of the beautifully restored buildings or by listening to sea shanties in the Whalers’ Tunnel.

There is of course plenty of other ways to engage with Fremantle’s heritage as part of the festival, from a murder mystery dinner at the Esplanade Hotel to a quiz about the history of beer at Little Creatures, classic rock and reggae bands at Mojo’s and an even an alternative history bike tour with me called Demolished and Unbuilt. As always there’s something for everyone.

Programs are out, so come along and help us make history while celebrating all we love about Fremantle past and present – May 26 to June 5.