Tourism precinct gets vital restoration funds
THE ugly scaffolding around Fremantle’s historic Arthur Head precinct is finally set to go, with the McGowan government committing $500,000 for emergency repairs.
Heritage minister David Templeman announced the funding as part of the WA government’s Covid-19 economic recovery package, during a visit to the old gaol earlier this week.
“The Round House is particularly significant because it is the oldest colonial building in WA and holds a place in people’s hearts,” Mr Templeman said.
“We are very pleased as part of the important Covid recovery strategy of the McGowan government, in partnership with the City of Fremantle, to undertake some important restoration of Arthur Head and the Whalers Tunnel.
“We thank the City of Fremantle for their half a million dollar contribution.
“They are the custodians, and their contribution helps make sure this iconic and special precinct is maintained to allow people to reflect on its history.”
Mr Templeman said WA’s closed borders were an opportunity to invest in the state’s tourism assets, particularly given the jobs that would be created.
“I understand that 100,000 people go through the Round House each year … that underlines its importance to WA,” he told the Herald.
Fremantle council has taken out a $500,000 loan from state Treasury to fund its contribution to the project, which mayor Brad Pettitt said will be just the first stage.
“We could not do this without the support of the state government,” Dr Pettitt said.
“Obviously we want to see the scaffolding come down and shore up the cliff faces, and improve the interface with the beach.”
Dr Pettitt said it was the first major investment in Arthur Head and the Round House in 15 years.
An updated rockfall canopy will be included in the works, as he says despite a chemical treatment that will turn the sandy cliff faces back into limestone rock, there will still be a rockfall risk.
“But people will not be confronted with a scaffolding eyesore.”
Dr Pettitt said the council also had “live” funding applications in with Lotteries to improve the interpretive side of the Round House, and the restoration would aid that by improving the power supply.
He said the stage 2 works would require similar funding, but were not so urgent.
WA’s Bicentenary is now less the 10 years away and Mr Templeman said the Arthur Head precinct would play a role in the celebrations, but mooted it wouldn’t all be about Captain Fremantle’s arrival.
“The government is very aware of the significance of the Bicentenary, but particularly that it’s not just about a point in time; it’s an acknowledgement of our deeper history that goes back tens of thousands of years; and as we prepare for that milestone it’s only part of our continuum,” Mr Templeman said.
By STEVE GRANT