The History of Perth’s Port: Fremantle

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The city of Fremantle officially came into being in 1829 when the HMS Challenger arrived off the Western Australian cost and took possession of the land which was then named ‘New Holland’.

The city of Fremantle as we know it today holds many signposts of this significant European arrival through its historical buildings, entertainment venues and other cultural landmarks. This is what makes Fremantle such a unique place to reside in – as amongst the café culture, breweries on the water and famed weekend markets is a tangible history that is still reflected in its cityscape.

So, if you’re considering relocating to Fremantle, here are a few unique areas that showcase and pay tribute to the town’s fantastically rich history and origin.

 

The Footsteps of Convicts

One of the first buildings to dominate Fremantle’s early skyline was the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Fremantle Prison. Built by convicts in the 1850s, the Fremantle Prison incarcerated inmates for 136 years before its decommissioning in 1991. Now, the empty prison stands as a sobering reminder of a somewhat barbaric system of punishment that was active not too long ago.

The best way to get a sense of the enormity of the Prison’s impact on the city of Fremantle is to take a guided tour of it. The ‘Prison Day Tours’ serve to highlight a convict’s day-to-day duties and lifestyle, and also captures a few of the prison’s most iconic stories of escapes or escape attempts. For a truly unique Prison-going experience, the ‘Tunnels Tour’ allows visitors to explore the one kilometre underground portion of the Prison by foot and by boat – or for those seeking thrills, the ‘Torchlight Tour’ delves into the darker side of the prison’s history with a few spooks and scares along the way.

 

Celebrating the Artistic

One of Fremantle’s most iconic buildings is the Fremantle Arts Centre. Constructed by convicts in 1860, this neo-Gothic style building is one of Western Australia’s major arts organisations. For Perth’s art fanatics, the Centre hosts an innovative exhibition program each year that showcases a wide range of contemporary visual art by local, national and international artists. The FAC Print Award is an annual highlight on the calendar, awarding Australia’s premier prints and artists’ books with a prize pool of over $20,000 each year. If you’re keen to get your hands dirty with some artmaking of your own, the Centre also offers a range of ceramic, textile, drawing, jewellery-making, photography and painting courses – available for kids, teens and adults alike.

Another notable facet of the Fremantle Art Centre’s annual events program is its line-up of musicians. Over summer, free concerts are hosted by local or touring acts in a ‘Sunday Music’ series, and the building’s South Lawn is also the venue for big-name touring artists. Artists of note who have graced the Lawn include Paul Kelly, Elvis Costello, and recently, Billie Eilish.

 

Western Australia’s Oldest Building

The Round House at Arthurs Head was built in 1830 – and is Western Australia’s oldest standing building. Underneath the House is the Whaler’s Tunnel, the first underground engineering project in WA – so it’s safe to say, a walk through the tunnel or around the House’s peak is sure to immerse you in the historical magnitude of this building.

With sweeping views over the Fremantle skyline, the Round House today is a popular lookout or vantage spot for an equally impressive view of the ocean. Entry is by gold coin donation and there are plenty of opportunities for kids to get involved, with interactive exhibits about life and crime in the 1800s. Once you enter, you can also have a walk around the jail’s central courtyard, the central area joining all eight cells and the jailer’s living quarters.

 

Diving into Maritime History

Don’t let its modern exterior fool you – the Western Australian Maritime Museum contains some of the most incredible vessels in the state’s maritime history. Overlooking the picturesque Fremantle harbour, this world-famous Museum is home to Oberon-class submarine HMAS Ovens, Jon Sanders’ Parry Endeavour and many other iconic vessels.

Besides the vessels, the Museum also plays host to an array of significant artefacts, documents and photography that showcase the stories within Fremantle’s rich maritime history. Open daily, there is definitely something for the whole family at this eclectic museum that also showcases popular touring exhibitions such as Planet Shark and Brickman Cities (using the popular Lego bricks).

 

If you lived in Fremantle, all of this rich culture and history could be yours – and could be only metres away from your home. Our friendly team at ACTON Fremantle are located in Fremantle, and we offer a complete sales and property management service covering Fremantle, Palmyra, Bicton, and surrounding suburbs. Our award-winning sales and property investment professionals will help find you the best possible outcome. Want to know more? Give us a call on 6147 6655 or pay us a visit at 29 Queen Victoria Street, Fremantle.