Brewery first step to quay revamp
A NEW microbrewery, tavern and restaurant at Victoria Quay will kick off the heritage precinct’s long-awaited redevelopment, helping transform it into Perth’s Darling Harbour, premier Mark McGowan has promised.
Mr McGowan joined ports minister Alannah MacTiernan, transport minister Rita Saffioti and local MLA Simone McGurk at A-Shed on Tuesday morning to announce brewer Gage Roads had been offered a 40-year lease of the 100-year-old building.
“To have Victoria Quay essentially as a dead zone is not the right use for it. We’ve got to have life and activity here; that’s what other cities around the world do, that’s what other cities around Australia do,” Mr McGowan said.
“The Gage Roads plan will see the heritage-listed goods shed transformed into a working micro-brewery, eatery, alfresco area, bar and cafe.
“In a challenging economic period, this is a major demonstration of confidence by a key player in the WA hospitality industry, that will generate jobs in both the construction and operational phases.”
Ms MacTiernan said she “couldn’t be happier” the Palmyra-based brewer had won the tender for the shed.
“Their heart is here in Fremantle and one of the things that made this especially good is that they have agreed to showcase beers and food from around WA, so this iconic spot here in Fremantle is really serving the state.”
Gage Roads chief operating officer Aaron Heary said a public venue had been a long-term goal.
“For 15 years we’ve been brewing beers just over the hill in Palmyra on the outskirts of Fremantle and for 15 years we’ve had a dream – and a lot of people have asked me – when is Gage Roads going to be open to the public.”
Mr Heary said the micro-brewery was expected to open in 12 months as an “innovation centre” for the company pushing out limited release specialty beers, and the hospitality venue would aim to create a family-friendly atmosphere.
He says it’s a bit of a home-coming for the company, which is named after the stretch of water outside the harbour’s heads.
“Those big doors and the font on the A-Shed, they actually inspired the design of our packaging, so that white box that you see on the front of the Single Fin [summer ale] that’s where that came from, so its coincidental that it’s come to this and we’ll be building our brewery here.”
When the Chook asked whether a huge tavern was a wise first choice for the quay given a coalition of healthcare professionals were already warning Freo was becoming a liquor hotspot, and homeless people dealing with alcoholism were ever-present on its streets, Ms McGurk deftly took the microphone to shield the premier from controversy.
“It’s a constant challenge for metropolitan hubs to look at vibrancy and activity, but also manage alcohol consumption, and we’ve been wanting to work with the council,” Ms McGurk said.
Lot to like
She pointed to the success of the Little Creatures brewery in attracting people to the broader Fishing Boat Harbour precinct, and said “there’s a lot to like about this proposal” before spruiking Gage Road’s use of WA grains in their brewing.
But Mr McGowan happily threw in his two cents when the opportunity arose.
“Obviously this project is not just a microbrewery; it’s also a restaurant, a cafe and a children’s playground, so it’s the sort of place that will be very family-friendly and a very exciting and fun place to go, and that’s what Fremantle is, that’s what Fremantle needs.
“It needs more activity and vibrancy, excitement, more venues and more attractions, and that’s what Western Australia needs.”
Mr McGowan said the state government would empty the shed and pay for upgrades to the 120-year-old foundations under the A-shed.
As part of a broader plan for the quay, the report which sparked the A-shed lease was also released this week.
It recommends short to medium-term opportunities at the wharf, including improving the entry from Cliff Street, fixing up the Passenger Terminal and track to Freo so they’re less bleak for cruise passengers, exploring a film industry hub, connecting the area to Bathers Beach, and improving the public realm with better seating, lighting, a playground, art, maritime trails and some shade.
A longer-term plan would have to look at further opportunities for a commercial precincts as well as upgrading the precinct around the train station.
By STEVE GRANT