Tourism and tradies push

Simone McGurk and Josh Wilson say fixing up Freo’s Round House and Whalers Tunnel would be a great jobs boost for the tourism industry. Photo by Steve Grant.

FREMANTLE MP Simone McGurk says she’s ramped up her lobbying to get state funding to fix up Fremantle’s Round House and surrounds.

The state’s oldest building is in poor shape, with the render between its limestone blocks literally crumbling into dusty piles on the floor, while the Whalers Tunnel has been shrouded by scaffolding for more than two years.

While she’s in the McGowan government’s Cabinet, Ms McGurk said all she can really do is keep advocating for restoration funds, but says the need to boost the tourism sector and tradies has given her a powerful new argument.


“The Manjaree precinct and the Round House have a complex historical significance that goes back thousands of years,” Ms McGurk said.

“There is an opportunity now to ensure this site is safe and accessible as a significant place for gathering and reflection.

“An investment of this kind will support local tourism and work in the heritage trades, which are under pressure.”

Federal Labor MP Josh Wilson has joined her campaign and wants the Morrison government to pay more attention to heritage in its Covid recovery plans.

Mr Wilson said under the Rudd government’s GFC stimulus plan, Fremantle got $1.6 million to fix up the Princess May Building and $20 million which went into turning parts of the Fort Knox building into social housing.

Now he wants Fremantle Prison to get some attention.

“To coincide with the 10th anniversary of the World Heritage listing of Fremantle Prison, I have called on the Morrison government to provide matched funds to ensure that fundamental conservation challenges like rising dame and drainage can be addressed once and for all rather than expensively spot-fixed every few years.

“I am also working with the City of Fremantle to consider the merits of putting the Round House forward for national heritage listing, which would make it eligible to be considered for federal funding support.”

Mr Wilson said Australia was losing many of its specialised heritage tradies, and an investment in conservation could help to stem the losses.


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