The background context of the Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour

Background Context

The Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour is located south of the existing Fremantle Port and Bathers Beach, and to the west of the Fremantle City Centre. The harbour is completely reclaimed, with the shoreline having shifted significantly westwards.

The Esplanade Park to the north-east of the harbour provides the largest green space within the Fremantle City centre and Bathers Beach, a popular recreation and tourist beach, frames the northern boundary of the harbour. Fremantle has some of Western Australia’s most important heritage buildings and places, to include the convict constructed Roundhouse building, and the West End Conservation Area comprising over 200 heritage listed buildings.

The fishing industry is still highly active and well represented within the FFBH and other existing marine industry includes the marine repair, supplies, and refurbishment operations. These marine and fishing operations add significantly to the feel of an authentic working harbour to underpin a unique tourism offering and several key hospitality operations in the harbour. The harbour also accommodates three recreational boat harbours.

Culture and History

The broader Fremantle region is known to Whadjuk Noongar (local indigenous) people as Walyalup. Walyalup incorporates the ocean, ocean foreshores, swamps, river mouth, river and land in between. It has social, spiritual, historic and aesthetic values that are further enhanced by its connectedness to other places in the South West region and beyond. Walyalup also holds historic significance for the association with the first Noongar sightings of the arrival of the British fleet at Fremantle.

Large areas were reclaimed to construct the original harbour infrastructure between 1830 and 1920s. The Fishing Boat Harbour development started with the construction of a single jetty in 1919, at the end of which was the original fish markets. The site had remained relatively unchanged for many years but saw unprecedented change with the arrival of the America’s Cup. Between 1969 and 1972 the first pens were constructed to house 120 fishing boats. Land was reclaimed in 1982 for the construction of the first stage of the boat lifting facility. Subsequent land reclamation and major harbour works was initiated by the Americas Cup defence in 1984/85.

Land Use

The Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour is vested with the Minister for Transport under the Marine and Harbours Act and is and managed by Department of Transport. It is one of Perth’s premier tourist destinations, offering entertainment, restaurants, tourist activities within a working harbour.
The harbour uses are arranged in four precincts:

  • Fishing Industry

The harbour had its origins as a fishing harbour and caters mostly to commercial fishing through commercial mooring and landside facilities. The harbour also accommodates ferry and charter services and the fuel wharf forms part of the Northern Breakwater Wharf.

  • Private Moorings

A significant portion of the harbour is dedicated to recreational boating, which is accommodated through private clubs and moorings. There are over 250 serviced public pens for recreational craft in the Fishing Industry precinct.
Public Waterfront
The Public Waterfront precinct represents the main tourism component of the harbour through serviced apartments, restaurants including a boutique brewery, recreation and other public spaces. The precinct also accommodates the Fremantle Fisherman’s Monument and the Bon Scott Statue.

  • Marine Industry

The harbour does not offer public maintenance facilities and maintenance services/slipway facilities are available from private businesses in the Marine Industry precinct.

The Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour covers an area of 33.7ha. Most of the land area is consumed by hardstand areas (car parks, roads, etc), which covers 76.5% of the harbour area. Building footprints cover approximately 18.5% of the harbour area and only 4.5% of the land is dedicated to landscaping and key public domain areas.