Tag Archives: fremantle


Colin Nichol recalls Fremantle’s history of shark-proof swimming.

RECENT media announcements of “WA’s first shark barrier” on trial at Cockburn, overlooks the facts of history. Shark proof enclosures were constructed off a number of coastal and Swan River jetties in the Perth metropolitan area, including Cottesloe, South Fremantle and Fremantle with one at Busselton, during the 1920s and ‘30s.

As discussions continue over a sea bathing facility near Fremantle’s Bathers Beach, a reminder that little is new in that regard. Shark-proof Municipal Sea Baths were constructed at Fremantle in the 1890s near the Fish Markets between Long Jetty and South Jetty, but having been destroyed by heavy weather were demolished in 1917. The site is now Fishing Boat Harbour’s northern sea wall. On 3 February 1930, a deputation, including the president of the Fremantle Businessmen’s Association, “waited on” the Fremantle City Council in the council chambers to advocate the erection of swimming baths in the city. They pointed out that a 1926 referendum of ratepayers showed that the majority were in favour of the project.

It was felt that while South Beach was an excellent beach, it was too small to accommodate a large crowd and there was no provision for training facilities. Mayor 1919-23 and again 1926-51 Frank Gibson (later Sir Frank), said council was still paying off  interest and sinking fund on the earlier baths and thought that the cost of erecting new baths would be in the vicinity of £16,050 (at least $1,318,740). Perhaps that deputation’s plea may yet come to fruition, some 84-plus years on.

The South Beach shark proof swimming area, with its extensive onshore camping sites and splendid Hydrodrome building with accommodation for swimmers and visitors, opened in 1927. The fencing was a length of torpedo netting used in the English Channel during the Great War and annually dipped in bitumen for preservation. It was strung between two jetties and supported by approximately ten poles over which a promenade deck was constructed. A diving platform extended from the promenade. The enclosure, which was well lit for night use, remained into the 1950s. Only photographs and memories of school swimming classes remain. And sharks did occasionally get in.

Colin Nichol


This is a pretty awesome recognition for the FREMANTLE SOCIETY! At the Australia Day ceremony on the Fremantle Esplanade the FREMANTLE FOREVER campaign was awarded the Fremantle Community Group of the Year 2013 by Mayor Dr Brad Pettitt.

FREMANTLE FOREVER grew out of the SOCK IT COLIN campaign the Fremantle Society initiated and became a bi-partisan group of concerned citizens about the State Government’s intention to forcefully amalgamate the City of Fremantle with the City of Melville.

The very public campaign, that collected thousands of petition signatures, became a success when State Government announced that it would accept the alternative boundaries the City of Fremantle and Fremantle Forever had suggested.

Thank you to all the volunteers who worked so hard on getting signatures, design leaflets and advertisements, took photos, contacted the media, etc. etc. It shows that if the community works positively together, we do make a difference, and I am very proud of that!

Roel Loopers


ARTHUR HEAD-Fremantle and Walyalup Dreaming

Arthur Head in the West End of Fremantle has a rich history. It is now less than one tenth of its original size. With the arrival of the British in June 1829 the newcomers started changing its topography. Prior to the arrival of the Europeans the local Beeliar-Nyungar (Aboriginal) people called that part of the world Walyalup. The actual old West End of Fremantle town with Arthur Head area in some sources is referred to as Manjaree.

According to the National Trust of WA, Manjaree (Arthur Head) for the Beeliar-Nyungar people (sometimes also referred to as Bibbulmun) was an important meeting place and trading place. Tracks from the North and South converged in the Manjaree-Fremantle area. Arthur Head was also an important place for the Nyungar dreaming story ‘Walyalup Dreaming’.

The Walyalup Dreaming was first mentioned in writing in the 19 century by F. Armstrong who in 1836 wrote:

“They state, as a fact handed down to them from their ancestors, that Garden Island was formerly united to the main, and that the separation was caused, in some preternatural manner, by the Waugal” (F. Armstrong 1836).

Below is one of the versions:

“The Walyalup (Fremantle) Dreaming story tells of Yondock, an ancestral crocodile that travelled down from the north, causing floods and disturbances, creating Wadjemup (Rottnest Island), Gnooroolmayup (Carnec Island), Derbal Nara (Cockburn Sound) and flooding the Derbal Yaragan (Swan River) with salt water.

The Waagle or Rainbow Serpent, guardian of the fresh water, smells the salt and travels down the Derbal Yaragan (Swan River) to see what’s happening. With the advice from Woorriji (a lizard) from the Waagle cave in North Fremantle and strength gained from the freshwater spring at East Street Jetty, he fights the crocodile, bites off his tail and places the tail across the mouth of the river to prevent salt water coming up stream.The tail is secured with the hair from the armpits of the Waagle on the southern side of the river and with toenail from the crocodile on the north side of the river.

The rest of the crocodiles body remains as Meeandip (Garden Island) and dingoes watch from Cantonment Hill to make sure the spirit of the crocodile is not reunited with its tail. “

We can safely assume that the dreaming stories tell us of rising sea levels that happened 7000 years ago. Rottnest Island, Garden Island and Carnac Island were separated from the mainland back then. The rising sea level and then the separation of the islands from the land mass was all witnessed by the Aboriginal population.

A few years ago a documentary was made about the play Walyalup Dreaming. The ‘Making Walyalup Dreaming’ documentary explores how the play was created. For more information you can view a sample of this documentary here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9itXyRTL9c

The documentary features Trevor Ryan,  James Webb, Trevor Walley and Sandy McKendrick,  Produced and directed by Rodney Stratton.

Article written by Peter Zuvela
Microsoft Word - 10122-01 FINAL REPORT.doc


To the Society’s members and many friends — the Committee offers our best wishes for Christmas and the very best of health and good fortune for the year ahead.

2013 was a good year for Fremantle with a strong sense of progress in the air and with runs already on the board with the 2nd  take on Local Government boundaries being released (go Dockers and go Freo Forever! ) and the unveiling of the winning entry for the new civic building for the City.  We look forward to 2014 being a bumper year for our City and all its residents

Best wishes

Henty Farrar


As part of the Fremantle Heritage Festival the Fremantle Society presents ‘gnullar yowl koorl – our coming together … early interactions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia’ It is a free event so come along!  At Kidogo Arthouse, Bathers Beach, Fremantle on Sunday May 26, 11 am. Free lecture

Ingrid Cumming, CEO of Kart Koort Wiern consultancy in Perth will present a lecture that talks of some of the early interactions between the Nyungar and non-Indigenous people during the period of first contact in the Swan River, the conversations, interactions and issues that arose and how we can reflect upon this in modern day terms to promote mutual respect and recognition of the diversity of cultures within Fremantle.

Kart Koort Wiern does corporate awareness training, team building workshops, youth and school workshops and management training. It also does consultancy services. Your company can become a corporate member of Kart Koort Wiern. Website: www.kartkoortwiern.com

Kart Koort Wiern


Heritage Festival

National Trust of Australia (WA) – MARCH MEETING NEXT TUESDAY

Did you ever fancy yourself as Indian Jones? This month’s meeting takes us face to face with the intriguing world of archaeology and its growing role in historical research. In the past the archives were the historian’s second home, but now, the evidence uncovered in an archaeological dig can turn the archival record on its head. Scott Chisholm and his team will give us a special insight into the world of archaeology and tells us tales of recent discoveries and how they have helped us better understand Fremantle’s and indeed Western Australia’s, past.

The meeting is Tuesday 26 March and starts at 6.30pm at Terra Rosa, 346 South Terrace (cnr South Terrace and Scott St), South Fremantle. Looking forward to seeing you there.


A century ago, when The University of Western Australia first opened its doors to students, the general purposes of higher education seemed relatively clear in the public mind. But these days there is less certainty about the relevance of some cherished academic traditions. What distinctive role do universities still have, if any? What can the wider community reasonably expect universities to deliver?

What should be the relationship between universities and cultural institutions in the heritage and collections sector? This lecture will particularly discuss: the concept of educational heritage, and the real origins of the modern university; how to decide whether a field of knowledge belongs in higher education or not; the place of civic values in higher education;  the argument between cultural studies and cultural policy studies, and the potential of cultural heritage for resolving that argument; what the distinction between education and training should mean in the heritage field; why the values associated with museums and significant sites are inherently problematic; how a university that fosters studies in cultural heritage can fullfil an important part of its civic purpose.

Event Details

Date: 16 April 2013

Time: 6pm

Venue: Webb Lecture Theatre (G21),

Geography Building, UWA

Parking: P18 & P19, Fairway entrance 1

Cost: Free, but RSVP essential.

Book online


or RSVP to ias@uwa.edu.au or

6488 1340

Fremantle Heritage Festival 2013

The 2013 Fremantle Heritage Festival Opens 24th May!!

Programs out everywhere but if you have not seen it go to City of Fremantle Website, Festivals on Facebook and promises to be the best one yet.

Runs from Friday 24 May to Sunday 3 June.  The Fremantle Society and Fremantle History Society are delighted to be presenting 11 events.

For more information, please see the pages on: City of Fremantle – Heritage Festival

photo by Peter Zuvela



Fremantle Ports is to be congratulated for the thorough public consultation workshops and the excellent work by Kieran Wong and associates of CODA architects.

The Fremantle Society is excited about the opportunities the planned development of Victoria Quay (VQ) offer. This is a great chance to acknowledge the historic significance of the port and celebrate the importance of C.Y.O’Connor as one of Western Australia’s outstanding achievers for his role in building the harbour and the Perth to Kalgoorlie water pipeline.

A modern Victoria Quay gives us the opportunity to interact with the local Wadjuk indigenous people through a cultural centre where visitors can experience the culture and history of the traditional custodians, take part in story telling and music events, purchase art and sample bush tucker.

VQ should showcase the significance of the wharfs and the labour movement and should also show the extensive photographic historic collection Fremantle Ports has. A Migrant Museum telling the stories of the thousands who arrived on ships would also become an important attraction for any new development.

The Fremantle Society believes VQ should become a 24 hour destination for locals and visitors alike, so it is essential that the mix of office, leisure, retail, entertainment, tourism, parking facilities is carefully balanced and managed. A day time ‘village’ that becomes a night time ghost town is not acceptable and neither is a shopping centre like precinct.

Better and increased connectivity between VQ and the Fremantle CBD is a priority as is the connectivity between VQ and Bathers Beach/Fishing Boat Harbour.

VQ should not compete with what inner city Fremantle already offers, and what it will offer more off once Planning Scheme Amendment 49 becomes active, instead VQ should become exemplary in its difference, while blending in with the human scale Fremantle is loved for by tourists and residents. The quality of the space and its use need to be authentic. The tenancies need to be for real commercial purpose and any retail needs to be of a very high standard.

As a destination and attraction Fremantle Ports needs to encourage operators such as the people behind Little Creatures to develop unique, quality and authentic offerings on the wharf.

Buildings of different shapes that are reflective of the elements of the area, and of different heights are essential to make the area attractive, as are public open spaces, public roof gardens with harbour views, green spaces and ‘activity pockets’ for children.

Existing historic buildings need to be carefully integrated in any development and while relocation might be the easy option more creative solutions need to be encouraged to allow the buildings to remain as an historic cluster.

The lack of significant public green spaces in the inner city and in the vicinity of the port means that erecting buildings on historic Pioneer Park should not be considered, instead the park should become one of the major attractions of the area. The park has been under utilised predominantly because it is not very attractive. This can and should be improved as part of the VQ development.

The Fremantle Society believes an ‘Urban Scale’ approach to development at VQ is the best way forward to develop Fremantle. Building heights need to be varied so bland sameness is avoided. It would be prudent to vary building heights from 15 metres to 25 metres at maximum heights just below that of the Maritime Museum, which is 29 metres high. It is important not to ‘dwarf’ the heritage Railway Station with huge buildings overshadowing it.

The railway forecourt needs to be improved and become far more attractive than it is at present. This will require relocation of the bus port to the East and remodelling to improve the passenger to bus interface and the efficiency of the overall intermodal exchange. With this movement to the East the forecourt can become a meeting and relaxation place and present a proper entrance to Fremantle.

VQ has got it all; a working port is highly attractive. People love watching ships arrive and depart and they love watching sunsets. The close vicinity to the CBD and public transport makes it even more attractive to developers and retailers and those in the hospitality and tourism industries.

It is not hard to envisage VQ as a highly attractive very Freo destination with a great mix of culture, art, heritage, entertainment, retail and offices. It does however require creativity and restraint. There needs to be recognition in the lot layout and alignment, in building design and utilisation that the development is integrated into the CBD, and although new and to some extent an extension of the West End, it has the elements of Fremantle’s bold building design, albeit circa 2020, not 1880.

Fremantle Ports should resist the temptation of over development for financial gain. It is essential that development in the area absolutely acknowledges and embraces the sense of place of  Fremantle and its unique character and lifestyle.

The Fremantle Society is keen to see outstanding development of great architectural merit on Victoria Quay in the near future and we are offering Fremantle Ports to be part of the consultative process.

Roel Loopers




I have mentioned before here on the blog that Fremantle needs to carefully manage public open and green spaces, with all the expected future inner city development. Instead of planning a skate park on the Esplanade and suggesting to build on Pioneer Park Fremantle should increase the green spaces around the city. There should even be one on Victoria Quay once that gets developed.

A nationwide survey by the Nursery and Garden Industry of Australia shows that the Perth metropolitan area falls well below international standards for suburban green space with 51 percent of Perth residents living further than a five minutes walk away from a park.

The NGIA reports says that with increased population and urbanisation, developers and planners need to plan for more parks, trees and greenery. Of course more trees in streets would also help to expand the green lungs of our city.

Roel Loopers