History of Fishing Boat Harbour 900 689 Harbour Connect

History of Fishing Boat Harbour

When Western Australia’s early fishermen set out to bring home a haul for their families, they put themselves through long days, sleepless nights, backbreaking work and dangerous conditions. Those efforts succeeded in, creating an internationally respected modern industry and putting Fremantle on the worldwide map.

The ongoing growth of the harbour bears testament to the forward thinking of the industry in the area. 100 years ago, it was nothing more than a single jetty stretching out into the Indian Ocean, home to the original fish markets and the boats operating from Fremantle.

As the industry grew, Fremantle workers built the southern breakwater, provided waterfront land for industry use and constructed 120 pens to accommodate the growing number of fishing boats. This facility quickly became the major fishing and marine industry refit site in the state, with boats from as far north as Darwin and as far south as Esperance using the Harbour for their annual refits and surveys.

Learn more about the Harbour’s history with the interactive timeline below:

In 1982, construction of the boat lifting facility started, and just a year later Australia II won the Americas Cup, paving the way for Fremantle to host the 1987 cup event.

The following years included some major changes for the Harbour, including the construction of Challenger Harbour, sheet piled wharves, car parking, the building of fish receival depots and fuelling wharves for the fishing industry. Numerous iconic retail and food outlets including Kailis’ Seafood Cafe, Cicerello’s, the Mussel Bar, Joe’s Fish Shack and Char Char Bull also appeared during this time. 

Today, an homage to the perseverance and hardworking of the fishermen who sparked the development of what is now a billion-dollar industry can be found near the site of the original south jetty.  Fishermen and sons of fishermen led the project to install two life-size bronze sculptures of their forefathers, whilst twelve timber columns line the jetty, adorned with the names of the 608 fishermen who pioneered the industry at Fremantle.

These days, the Harbour has become a must-see destination for visiting tourists, and as Fremantle continues to evolve, the Fishing Boat Harbour will remain a vital part of what makes the city so special.  

We’d love to hear from you about how the 38 Mews Rd site could better enhance Fishing Boat Harbour for the current and next generations of locals and visitors. Check out the Your Ideas page here.