Fremantle Stuff > Fremantle Walks > Walk 1

Walk 1

From Fremantle Walks by David Hutchison, 2006, pp. 72-81. (See also facsimile version.)

The walking tour starts at the upstream (eastern) end of the quay. In 2005 there were plans to convert the western end of the quay into a new commercial precinct. The walk could be completed comfortably in an hour, but closer inspection of some of the features may extend it by another hour. This does not allow time for visiting the museums.

Passenger Terminal

Architects: Hobbs, Winning and Leighton.
Builder: A T Brine and Sons

Following World War ll, Fremantle was a primary ‘gateway’ for immigrants. A new passenger terminal became necessary to cope with the increased demand and the present building was constructed in 1960-62. It replaced two earlier transit sheds, F and G, which had been built to replace three original sheds, G, H and I.


The interior design of the building has a high level of joinery detailing and craft work, which demonstrate the value of Western Australian hardwoods. The western part (F Berth) is lined with wandoo and the eastern part (G Berth) with blackbutt. The parquetry floor of the entrance and G Berth is in Wandoo; that in F Berth is blackbutt. Interior walls are dressed partly with vertical jarrah battens.

There are four murals, designed and executed by the noted Western Australian artist Howard Taylor. The two in F Berth show birds and flowers of the state; the two in G Berth, trees and animals.

Passenger arrivals declined from the 1970s, due to the development of air travel. Cruise liners still berth at the terminal, and it is also used for exhibitions and other events.

In 2005 it was open to visitors only when cruise liners berthed there, or when there was a special event.


STS Leeuwin II at Victoria Quay

D Shed

This shed was erected in 1928-29, at the same time as E Shed. These two sheds replaced three earlier sheds, E, D and F. The simple form of construction of this and other sheds is complemented by a high standard of detailing for wharf architecture. Placed along the front of the quay the sheds have some aesthetic value and are visually significant in defining the interface between the river and the city. This is the oldest existing goods shed on the quay, having been built in 1903-04. It was extended in a westerly direction in 1912-13 to accommodate the largest interstate liners. The shed was widened in 1926-27, and its western end was reduced in length in 1985. As it is the only original shed (with modifications) to survive, it is a significant building. In 2005 it housed the office of Rottnest Express Ferries. There were plans to refurbish this building as part of the new commercial precinct.


Venus and Friends

Sculptor: Judith Forrest

On the quayside of the parking area between C and B Sheds, this sculpture consists of eight quirky figures of Venus and sea creatures, mounted on metal supports. It was commissioned by Fremantle Ports and unveiled in 2002.


Former Immigration Centre (Old Police Station)

On the back of the quay, opposite the space between B and C Sheds. The state appointed its first immigration officer, A O Neville, in 1906. An Immigration and Information Bureau was erected on Victoria Quay at the western end of where C Shed now stands. In 1912-15, to allow for extension to C Shed, it was moved to a site at the end of the overhead bridge, which provided access for pedestrians crossing to the Railway Station. In the 1920s, colonnades were added to the front of the building, and new waiting rooms were erected on the western side. Following the decline in immigration during the Depression, the signage was changed to read ‘Government Tourist Bureau’. During World War II, it served for military purposes and after the war, until 1947, it was used by the navy for the repatriation of Royal Navy personnel and war brides. Government officers, including the Tourism and Immigration Agent, then returned to the building, in preparation for the mass migration scheme. From 1947 to 1970 ships brought nearly two million immigrants to Australia from Britain, Europe and Commonwealth countries. The Tourist Information Bureau vacated the premises in August 1966.

In 2005 there were plans to refurbish this and adjacent buildings as part of the new commercial precinct.

A and B Sheds

These sheds were rebuilt in 1925-26 to cope with increase in the size of vessels and the greater tonnage of cargo handled. When constructed they were of the latest design and included facilities such as electric hoists and improved ventilation for the storage of perishable goods. During the America’s Cup (1986-87) the Australian Broadcasting Corporation set up an outside broadcasting van at B Shed to coordinate radio coverage nationally. From 1987 the WA Maritime Museum exhibited boats in the shed until the new Maritime Museum was constructed. It is the only shed on the quay with surviving dormer roofs intersecting the main roof, which adds to its aesthetic quality.

In 2005 B Shed was occupied by the Motor Museum and the offices of the Leeuwin Ocean Adventure Foundation and Rottnest Ferries; A Shed housed a wooden boat workshop.

In 2022, A Shed was occupied by Gage Roads Brewery and tavern.

E Shed

This was remodelled at the same time as D Shed. It was moved to its present position in 1996, where it operates as a tourist-orientated market, including cafes and restaurants.

southern crossing

Sculpture: Southern Crossing

Sculptor: Tony Jones with collaborator Ben Jones

At the west end of E Shed. Installed in 2002, this work shows a migrant, suitcase in hand, at the foot of a gang plank being greeted by a dingo (Australian native dog). As with some other Fremantle sculptural works, such as the statue of Pietro Porcelli in Kings Square, this has a lively quality and, being set at ground level, relates immediately to passers-by. The project was supported by Mediterranean Shipping and P & O Ports.


Port Authority Building

Architects: Hobbs, Winning and Leighton.
Builder: A T Brine and Sons

This was built in 1963 so that the staff of the Fremantle Port Authority, then housed in eight separate buildings, could be brought together in one. The building is steel framed and was designed to obtain controlled natural lighting from the north and south. The roof over the ground floor is the only one of its kind in Australia. It is a folded roof pattern in pre-stressed concrete units in two spans, each of 20.1 metres, which provides continuous roof lighting together with air-conditioning ducts. A special feature is the use of tiling for both exterior wall finishing and interior wall decoration. The floor of the ground floor concourse is parquetry in jarrah and wandoo. At the western end of the concourse is a white mosaic wall feature, by Howard Taylor, symbolising the mythical Roman sea god Portunus. The Port Authority signal station was moved from Cantonment Hill to the top of this building.

C Y O‘Connor Memorial

Designer and sculptor: Pietro Porcelli
C.Y. O’Connor was a great civil engineer. His work is summarised in the ‘Brief History of the City’. He did not live to see all his projects completed. He was borne down by the pressure of work and attacks on him by some sections of the press and some politicians, particularly by their assertions that the Goldfields pipeline would fail. Early on the morning of 10 March 1902 he set out on his customary early morning horse ride along the beaches south of the port. He rode past South Beach along the shore, dismounted, waded into the sea and shot himself with a pistol. A metal sculpture [by Tony Jones], an outline of O’Connor’s figure, now stands in the sea where he committed suicide.

In 1907 the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce proposed that a memorial to O’Connor be erected in the town. A Memorial Committee was formed and gained state government support on a pound-for-pound basis. Local governments throughout the Goldfields and citizens contributed and a total of £1600 ($3200) was raised. An Australia-wide competition for the design was held and Porcelli's proposal was chosen as the best of seventeen entries. The statue was unveiled by the governor, His Excellency Sir Gerald Strickland, on 23 June 1911 in front of the then Harbour Trust Offices. It was moved to its present location in front of the Port Authority Building in 1974-75. The statue is set on a pedestal of Western Australian granite. There are four bronze dolphins at the base of the plinth and bronze panels illustrate O’Connor’s engineering achievements. In 2005, as a consequence of the changes to the entrance to the quay, it was proposed to move the statue again.


Sculpture of Two Children

Sculptors: Charles Smith and Joan Walsh-Smith

These two bronze figures, of a boy and a girl with their suitcases, are evocative of the bewilderment that child migrants must have felt on arrival. The sculpture is dedicated to British and Maltese children who ‘left their homelands to brave an unknown future in Western Australia’.

Welcome Walls

Architects: Cox Howlett and Bailey Woodland

An outdoor gallery of the Maritime Museum. These walls — an initiative of the Government of Western Australia — pay tribute to the immigrants from many lands and cultures who have made major contributions to the development of the state. The walls were completed in 2005. Migrants, or surviving relatives, were invited to apply to have their names engraved on the 152 stainless steel panels. Other names can still be registered for inclusion. A computer database, ‘Passages’, is accessible via terminals in the Maritime Museum. This is a dynamic, evolving information source including records of arrivals by sea and archival photographs of the ships and ports from whence they came, and of the people who stepped ashore on Victoria Quay.


Maritime Museum

Architects: Cox Howlett and Bailey Woodland

This museum opened in December 2002 and has already won several awards: Best New Tourist Development and top Significant Tourist Attraction (Western Australian Tourism Awards, 2003); Best Heritage and Cultural Tourism Attraction (Western Australian Tourism Awards, 2004); Australia’s Best New Tourism Development (Australian Tourism Awards, 2004). The building also won the top prize in the 2005 State Architecture Awards, Master Builders Association Awards and Engineering Excellence Awards, and a Fremantle Heritage Award.

The museum has six galleries devoted to particular themes: the Indian Ocean, Fremantle and the Swan River, Fishing (including whaling), Cargoes, Naval Defence and Boats (from a canoe to Australia II). The collection of boats includes two famous yachts: Australia II and Parry Endeavour. Australia II, with its revolutionary ‘winged keel’, won the America’s Cup in 1985. Parry Endeavour is the yacht in which the Western Australian sailor, Jon Sanders, circumnavigated the world three times, nonstop, on his own. He set the record of 657 days for a single solo voyage.

Fremantle South Slipway

Next to the museum, this slipway came into operation during World War II, in 1942. It serviced many Allied submarines and other navy vessels as well as merchant ships. Adjacent slipways were built in the late 19505, and the slipway remained in operation until the late 1990s. It now houses an Oberon-class submarine, HMAS Ovens, which was in service with the Royal Australian Navy for twenty-six years. After decommissioning in 1998 it was handed over to the WA Maritime Museum where it is displayed as a memorial to American, Australian, British and Dutch submariners who served from Fremantle during World War II.

Boom Defence Jetty

This projects seawards from the slipways and was part of the boom defence system, which was completed in December 1939 to defend the harbour during World War II.

Behind the Port Authority Building, in the area bounded by Slip Street and Fleet Street, there are harbour workshops, a fire station and aquaculture laboratories for Challenger TAFE College. There are also the buildings associated with the wartime boom defence.


boom defence

Boom Defence Buildings

Where Fleet Street veers left there is a group of buildings that were erected, during World War II, to provide support accommodation for the operation of the anti- submarine defence system at the entrance to the harbour. The large brick building was Boom Defence Building No. 2, which was used for making and repairing torpedo nets. During the America’s Cup Defence it was refurbished for use as a media centre. In the 1990s the building was converted for use by the Maritime Studies Department of Fremantle Technical and Further Education College. The smaller, two-storey, timber-framed building in front of it was the Navy Commander’s Residence. Behind this building is Boom Defence Building No. 1, a large brick building like Building No. 2. It was, at first, also used for the construction and repair of torpedo nets. After the war, it was used for general port-related activities.

J Shed

On the other side of Fleet Street. This was one of the transit sheds on Victoria Quay. It was moved here in 1968-69 to provide studio space for artists, and in 2005 housed studios for sculptors, including: Greg James; a ceramicist, Jenny Dawson; and the Fremantle School of Fine Furniture. Ii 2022, one of the units is occupied in 2022 by Korean sculptor Jina Lee.

In 2022 the state government promised $20mill for the revitalisation of Victoria Quay.

Garry Gillard | New: 9 January, 2019 | Now: 21 May, 2022