Suburb spotlight – Fremantle

Greta Andrews-TaylorThe West Australian
Camera IconFremantle. Credit: City of Fremantle.

Historical charm revitalised

Fremantle Markets.
Camera IconFremantle Markets. Credit: City of Fremantle.

Rich in history and lifestyle opportunities, Fremantle is framed by the Swan River to the north and north-west, with the sparkling Indian Ocean to the west.

From its pristine beaches to its diverse restaurants and establishments, Fremantle offers options for everyone, whether it be for a day trip or long-term.

“Fremantle is wonderfully eclectic, layered, interesting and authentic,” City of Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt told West Real Estate.

“There’s that sense of being a diverse and interesting place. It’s on the beach, it’s on the river and it has heritage and a port as part of its background – it’s a pretty unique combination of things all in one place.”

Given the array of opportunities and convenience of the suburb, Dr Pettitt said Fremantle appealed to a wide range of people.

“This is from the young all the way through to older people, who want to live in a place where everything is in walking distance,” he said.

Fremantle is currently going through a period of revitalisation, according to Dr Pettitt, who said there was a lot going on in the way of development.

“The last pieces of the Kings Square Renewal Project are being constructed,” he said.

“This includes the government offices built by Sirona Capital and the FOMO retail concept. That retail will start to move in over the coming months.”

This is just the beginning of movement in Fremantle at the moment.

“We’re just finishing the Walyalup Civic Centre – a $270 million major urban redevelopment in the heart of Fremantle,” Dr Pettitt said.

“It’s had a major once-in-a-century makeover. For the first time in a generation, the upper floors have been reactivated as offices and new retail.”

Dr Pettitt also brought to light new venues, including The Old Synagogue and Freo.Social.

“There’s a whole range of new, really interesting establishments – often importantly using and adapting heritage buildings,” he said.

“There’s a range of these coming as well, like the old courthouse that’s going to be turned into a new bar.

“The Old Synagogue is back open for the first time in 30 years or more. Those sort of things are really nice to see, and hospitality venues springing off the back of those.”

Residential developments are also taking shape, with Social on Henry in Fremantle’s West End recently completed, according to Dr Pettitt.

“It is a really interesting development, using the old Fremantle Workers Social and Leisure Club building that was there and building on top of that in a clever way,” he said.

“Another one that is about to be under construction is Little Lane on Adelaide Street by Yolk Property Group and one by Match called M/27.

“All of these are at the heart of what we’re trying to do, which is to get people living and working in Fremantle.

“There’s a real sense of a lot of places coming back to life again.”

Growing through each generation

Camera IconCulley’s Credit: Supplied.

Established in 1925, Culley’s is a family-owned business which provides fresh goods daily using Western Australian products.

Founded by Edward and Alice Culley, the second generation to take over were their sons Ted and Dick Culley, before grandson Darrell Culley became the third generation to run the business with his friend Bob Wegner.

Culley’s is now in the hands of the latest generation, with great grandson Michael Culley running the business after he took over the role from his father Darrell in 2007.

A household name in Fremantle, Michael told West Real Estate the location held a lot of character, with some buildings from the 1800s still in place.

“It has retained a lot of its character and charm you don’t get from other places,” Michael said. “After 92 years trading out of the same location, we moved two doors down in High Street.

“We retained the original fans and pressed tin walls and placed the old safe doors and pictures throughout the tearooms to give that old-world charm but in a modern cafe.”

Michael said baked goods, including pies, pastries, sausage rolls, cakes and bread were all baked daily at Culley’s bakehouse.

“Baking out of our central bakehouse in Kardinya, we supply our five retail outlets produce daily,” he said. “We have cafes and lunch bars in O’Connor, Myaree and Bibra Lake. You can also buy everything fresh from the bakery in Kardinya.

“Through these outlets we provide both retail and catering requirements for our customers.

“We also have a wholesale department serving homemade pies, cakes and bread to many areas of the hospitality sector.”

According to Michael, the history attached to Culley’s is appreciated.

“Our dine-in customers have been coming to Culley’s for a long time, whereas the takeaway is made up of mainly locals who work in the area,” he said. “We are the oldest cafe in Fremantle and must be one of the oldest family-owned businesses in WA.

“There has never been a more important time than now to shop and support local businesses. The hospitality industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Culley’s in Fremantle is open 7.30am-3pm daily.

Multifaceted location attracts all walks of life

Hayden Groves.
Camera IconHayden Groves. Credit: Photography Project/Photography Project

If you are looking for a home with history and conveniences close by, buying or renting a home in Fremantle could be the answer for you.

dethridgeGROVES Real Estate Director and Principal Hayden Groves said there was a varied mix of property types available in Fremantle, from traditional to contemporary.

“There’s a diverse, eclectic mix of housing types, from historic semi-detached limestone cottages built in the Edwardian and Victorian eras, through to modern apartment buildings, delivering myriad choice for buyers and renters,” he said.

“Most of Fremantle was cottage-built, so there’s not a huge number of big, family homes on large lots available.”

The key drivers for people seeking to live in and around Fremantle are its beaches, the historic charm of its built form and cafes, according to Mr Groves.

“Rents are reasonably affordable, delivering a diversity amongst a community well celebrated and supported by a progressive local government,” he said.

Fremantle’s vibe can be described as relaxed and laid-back with a strong cafe and beach culture, according to Mr Groves.

“Locals regularly informally meet out walking their dogs or over coffee and breakfast in one of Freo’s many cafes,” he said. “It has great pubs, eateries and live music venues too.”

When it comes to property trends noticed over time, Mr Groves said an overall gentrification of Fremantle and its suburbs had occurred.

“Property values have risen and remained relatively high, pressuring affordability in high-demand areas close to the city centre,” he said.

“Fremantle has always enjoyed a strong local buyer base – buyers who are simply moving about within the existing area. This has protected the values of local real estate over time, enabling against-trend median house price movements in falling markets elsewhere across metropolitan Perth.”

The individualistic nature of Fremantle is one of the reasons Mr Groves predicted its property market would continue to prosper.

“Fremantle is likely to continue to outperform the majority of Perth’s suburbs due to its unique character and proximity to the river and beaches, as well as its cafe and entertainment culture,” he said.

“The strong local buyer base will continue to underpin the median prices of homes and apartments in the suburb.”

Mr Groves said to bring even greater vibrancy into the city centre particularly, Fremantle could benefit from more quality infill development.

“Economically, the city centre itself struggles due to the lack of residents that live in its heart,” he said. “More recently, there is a push to improve this situation, which is encouraging.”

Get the latest news from in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails