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Fremantle Walks by David Hutchison, 2006.
This guide is intended be of use to residents as well as tourists. It is possible to walk the city in other ways; for example to pursue a particular theme in the history, such as a walk that includes all the buildings constructed by and for the Imperial Convict Establishment. A perceptive reader may be able to do this by adapting the guide to his or her own use.
The City of Fremantle's Municipal Heritage Inventory includes nearly four thousand entries. It is not possible within the limits of this guide to refer in detail to all of them, nor even to list them. The guide, therefore, treats in detail the three most important precincts of the city: the Inner Harbour, the West End Conservation Area (essentially the central business district) and Fremantle Prison. Some smaller heritage precincts and isolated buildings are also dealt with in some detail: for example, St Patrick's Basilica precinct, Monument Hill and the Fremantle Arts Centre. Even within these precincts, only details of selected buildings can be offered. Visitors may ﬁnd much of interest in other areas not described and the select bibliography will enable them to pursue specific interests in more detail. Most of the references in the bibliography can be consulted in the Fremantle City Library, especially in the Local History section.
High Street, looking east to the the Town Hall from the Round House.
The inner suburbs to the south and east, and North Fremantle contain many heritage-listed houses; some of them grand, some former worker's cottages, lovingly restored by their owners. Most Fremantle suburbs have active community groups which promote a community spirit and improvements in their neighbourhoods, including verge beautification, small parks and public art works.
The brief for the guide precludes most of the modern buildings in the city, therefore, few contemporary architects are mentioned as many of their buildings lie outside the precincts dealt with in detail. In particular, in the suburbs of Fremantle there are many heritage houses restored sensitively under their direction and many new houses designed by them, which, without imitation of the past, fit well into the context of older houses. A study of the work of contemporary Fremantle architects is overdue.
It is also beyond the scope of this publication — and the competence of the author — to describe the heritage of the Nyoongar people in detail, although there is a brief account of the people before white settlers arrived. A visitor, as well as a resident, should remember that the historic places described in this guide were once significant — in some cases, sacred — sites of Nyoongar people, who are still part of the present community. Tours led by Nyoongar guides are available.
Fremantle has been changing rapidly in recent years. Although great care has been taken to ensure up-to-date and accurate information, changes may occur after publication and the author and the publishers cannot accept responsibility for any resulting inaccuracies or omissions.
'The Heritage Wall', Stevens Street south of Fremantle Primary School. Designed by Diamando Koutsellis. Under her direction, the schoolchildren impressed designs in the mosaic tiles.
Fremantle is rapidly increasing in size and population, and the social life is not so divided as in Perth; there seems to be more geniality and not so much stiffness about the people. May Vivienne (1901)
But in the nineteenth century, places like Perth were ‘walking cities’ where people generally lived close to their workplaces. Some had horses or bicycles, but the vast majority of local travel was by walking. City and suburban architecture was experienced close-up and at a slow pace. Carvings and detail in good craftsmanship enhanced building exteriors and entrance spaces. David Dolan (2005), 7
Compared to the rich and complex aesthetic of wild country bequeathed by nineteenth-century Romanticism, Australians have no adequate discourse to conceive, describe and hence defend our apparently ordinary homes and suburbs from speculators and freeway builders. We have the words and feelings but not the rationalist context into which our expression of meaning can be understood by planners and assessors. Peter Read (1966), 196-7
Dedicated to Fremantle and to the many friends who share it with me and my wife, June.
A publication of this nature cannot be burdened with extensive footnotes. I acknowledge all the authors whose works are cited in the bibliography; often I agreed with them, occasionally they prompted me to adopt a different view, sometimes they opened up new lines of enquiry. I thank them all here. The authors of direct quotes are given in the text.
Any research into the history of Fremantle is made easier by the excellent Local History Collection of the City of Fremantle Library. I am grateful to Loretta O’Reilly and Allison Bauer, and to former librarians Larraine Stevens and Alison Gregg for their generous help.
A major source of information was Fremantle’s Municipal Heritage Inventory, complemented by the associated ‘blue files’ in the Local History Collection. Kristy Bizzaca also helped generously with checking data.
I am also grateful for the help of others: Jane Brisden of Fre-info answered my many questions patiently and efficiently; specific queries were answered by Agnieshka Kiera and Phil Thompson of the Fremantle City Council staff; Kerry Sanderson, Chief Executive Officer of Fremantle Ports; Michael Lefroy and Karen Major of the WA Maritime Museum; and Jamelia Gubgub and David Wallace.
I thank them all, although the responsibility for the contents of this guide remains mine.
David Hutchison was born in Perth, Western Australia in 1927 and lives in Fremantle. He is married and has a daughter and a son. He has degrees in civil engineering and in history, and a Diploma of Education. He taught physics, lectured in the history and philosophy of science and was an adult educator. In 1970 he became the ﬁrst Curator of History at the Western Australian Museum and was responsible For setting up the Fremantle History Museum. He is an Inaugural Honorary Fellow of the National Museum of Australia. He retired in 1985 to work as a museologist and heritage consultant. Publications include a book about the Benedictines of New Norcia, articles, essays, poetry and short fiction — his own and translations from Modern Greek — and botanical illustrations. A novella has been accepted for publication.
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