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.


Fremantle ANZAC Day commemorative events 2017

Fremantle is a unique location to honour ANZAC Day as it was the last Australian experience many soldiers and sailors had before departing our shores to join the war effort overseas.

The day will commence with a traditional silent ANZAC Day Dawn Service at the Fremantle War Memorial, home to the plaques honouring the 849 Fremantle servicemen and women who failed to return from WW1.

It will conclude with the traditional ANZAC Day March through the streets of Fremantle and closing ceremony on the Esplanade Reserve.

Additional services and events will take place across Fremantle and North Fremantle throughout the day.

Event schedule (Tuesday 25 April 2017)

  • 5.50 am – Dawn service, Fremantle War Memorial, Monument Hill
  • 7.30 am – Breakfast on the Esplanade, Esplanade Reserve, Fremantle
  • 7.30 am – Free portrait photography booth, Esplanade Reserve
  • 9.00 am – North Fremantle service, Fallen Soldier Memorial,
    Cnr Queen Victoria St & Harvest Road, North Fremantle
  • 10.15 am – ANZAC Day March, Esplanade Reserve through Fremantle
  • 10.45 am – Closing ceremony, Esplanade Reserve

For information on all Fremantle ANZAC events and activities visit


Freo Town Hall’s New Look

You might have noticed the scaffolding coming down on the North side of the Fremantle Town Hall unveiling the renovated and de-painted building. I think it looks pretty special.

De-painting (not the technical term) might sound like an odd thing to do but interestingly the town hall was unpainted for most of its life from 1887 to 1965. And for good reason. The layers of paint were removed to both respect the original design intention to make the town hall look like a high-quality, finely detailed stone building as well as allow the walls of the building to breathe and absorb and expel moisture naturally as originally intended.

The $3.1 million exterior renovation project included restoring the external envelope of the building to conserve the existing heritage fabric and protect the interior from further deterioration;  the replacement of roof cladding, painting external timber and metalwork etc; increasing  the capacity of the historically undersized roof drainage system by enlarging gutters, downpipes and stormwater pipes and providing overflow points for extreme weather events and reinstating some decorative items in normally inaccessible areas. For example, cast iron finials to turrets, flag pole etc.

If you get to stop by the slow unveiling is worth a look.




$3.1m Fremantle Town Hall restorations nearing completion

With conservation works nearing completion, scaffolding will gradually be removed over the coming weeks to reveal the Fremantle Town Hall’s exterior in all its original splendour – much as it looked 130 years ago in 1887 when first unveiled.

The  $3.1m works—which began in May 2016 and were extended into this year after specialist contractors found additional critical restoration work was required—included major structural repairs, a new slate roof with improved drainage and the refurbishment of the clock, which was taken apart to be cleaned and serviced.

The town hall restoration project is the largest conservation project we’ve ever undertaken and is the first stage in the transformation of Kings Square.

Throughout the restoration we’ve been very careful to respect the original intention for the town hall to look like a high-quality, finely-detailed stone building. This has involved removing the external paint which has been slowly suffocating the town hall since the 1960s to reveal its unique stucco finish, with natural variations in colour and texture that form part of this.

The end result will see the town hall not only look like it did in 1887, but also function like it was intended to, with the walls being able to ‘breathe’ again for the first time in decades to absorb and then expel moisture and salt.

It may look a bit different than what we’re used to seeing in modern times, but up until 1965 this is what people would have known the town hall as looking like. By doing this vital work we’ve ensured the town hall will be around for the next 130 years and beyond for future generations to enjoy.

This is another key part of our commitment to conserving and sensitively adapting Fremantle’s heritage buildings to underpin our future as a vibrant 21st century city where heritage and modern buildings coexist and complement each other.

About the town hall restoration

Before current restorative works were undertaken it had been almost thirty years since the last major capital expenditure on the Fremantle Town Hall.

Since mid-2016 a large team of skilled stonemasons, plasterers, lead workers and slate roofers with specialist traditional skills have transformed the exterior of the town hall building using traditional building methods.

Key elements such as the roof cladding and drainage systems needed to be replaced urgently to protect the building from ongoing deterioration prevent the loss of culturally significant features and address concerns about public safety.

Gutters and downpipes were too small to cope with current extreme weather events and have led to ongoing damage to the interior of the building. These elements have all been enlarged.

There were also ongoing issues caused by inappropriate surface treatments and repairs to masonry elements carried out in the1950s–60s. At this time there was little understanding of best practice conservation which had unfortunately led to the ongoing deterioration of masonry, embedded steel and timbers and decorative stucco work in the town hall.

During the works, it was discovered some inaccessible parts of the building were in worse condition than expected and extra works were required. To prevent further deterioration of the building and to make use of scaffolding already in place for the current restoration works, it was more efficient and cost effective to complete these additional works now.