Past-Present Fremantle Transformation into a Tourist hub

The Maritime Museum. photo by Author

Fremantle is a place that is rich with history (that trails of historical values) especially after acknowledging the list of 3000 heritage buildings [1]. While there are scenes of the Town Hall’s 19th century classical facades, a tourist will also stumble upon the scene of a modern Architecture landmark which is the Western Australian Maritime Museum.

Fremantle has been recognised as the best-preserved example of a 19th-century port streetscape in the world[2]. Heritage Minister Albert Jacob said “Fremantle’s West End is a rare example of a highly intact port city business district and is particularly notable for its impressive variety of gold boom era buildings. It includes former banks, pubs, hotels, warehouses, import-export businesses and shipping companies that speak to its maritime heritage”[3]. Yet, Fremantle has been able to support the local economy by providing 5000 jobs, and generating over $780 million per year in the tourism industry and cruise, generating more than $254 million recorded in the year 2014[4]. Although the scenario of preserved historical sites for tourism is not a new concept, the success of Fremantle’s transformation and their future plans is a new story to be heard.

Local communities, government council, and other stakeholders have all played a big role in maintaining Fremantle’s visual identity and Historical Values. In a recent example, local communities staged a protest against a construction plan to create a high-density development of 21-stories in the heritage area which breaches the council’s regulation of a 6-story height limit[4].

However, this doesn’t mean that all changes should be strongly opposed as government councils, also have to recognise the change in scenarios and plan for them. For example, while the traditional economic strength of Fremantle was the port-related industries, commerce, fishing, marine engineering, transportation and etc., the change in demographics in the area over the past 10 to 15 years has called for the need to come up with new strategies[5]. Hence, for the government’s industrial strategy, the goal is to celebrate the presence of the once strong industry, by programming Fremantle Festivities, establishing port Technologies and museum centers that reflected the industry’s rich history[6]. Meanwhile, industrial sites that aren’t going anywhere have been taken under consideration by improving their aesthetics through promoting vegetation.

The Fremantle has also faced problems whereby private stakeholders have pulled out of the area, leading to a blow in economic activities. For example, the relocation of the Fremantle Hospital’s emergency department to the Fiona Stanley Hospital has caused a significant downturn in retail activities for the area[7]. Also, the relocation of Fremantle’s Football Club to Cockburn has put pressure on their existing space and amenities which would be greatly underused. However, with support from the South and East Fremantle Football Club and the local communities, the government now has an urge to redevelop the oval into a premier community and sporting hub that can create jobs and a more lively place for tourists[8].

Fremantle Hostpital. Photo by Author
Fremantle Oval. Photo by Author

In conclusion, we can see that the success behind Fremantle wasn’t the planning genius of any one stakeholder, but rather, the in-cooperation of all government, public and private stakeholders in the area to create an environment that is lively, attractive but still carries the local identity that adds to the historically rich environment.

  1. “Fremantle Architecture.” Fremantle Architecture – Modern and Convict-built Architecture of Fremantle, Western Australia. Accessed March 23, 2019. https://www.fremantlewesternaustralia.com.au/fremantle-architecture.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Roberts, Leah. “East Fremantle: Protesters Gather at Royal George Hotel.” Community News Group. October 18, 2018. Accessed March 23, 2019. https://www.communitynews.com.au/fremantle-gazette/news/east-fremantle-protesters-gather-at-royal-george-hotel/.
  5. Fremantle Planning Strategy. Scheme No. 4. Fremantle Western, WA: City of Fremantle, 2001. Accessed March 23, 2019. https://www.fremantle.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/sharepointdocs/Fremantle planning strategy-C-000297.pdf.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Freo 2029 Transformation Moves. City of Fremantle. Accessed March 23, 2019. https://www.fremantle.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/Port City priorities_from oval to ocean document.pdf.
  8. Ibid.