City of Fremantle

Place Number



Marine Terrace Fremantle

Location Details

Local Government




Construction Date

Constructed from 1902

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents
(no listings)

Heritage Council Decisions and Deliberations

Type Status Date Documents
(no listings)

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management
(no listings)

Statement of Significance

Esplanade Reserve and Norfolk Island Pine trees has aesthetic significance for its contribution to the streetscape, its landmark qualities and it contribution to the central Frementle area. It has historic significance as an example of the efforts of the Fremantle Council and the Public Works Department in countering sand drift and erosion from the sea, and in providing areas of public open space. The Reserve has social value, having been a popular venue for community events, celebrations and activities since the early twentieth century. There are a number of memorials in the Reserve, taking the form of traditional sculptures, a drinking fountain and trees. The Maitland Brown memorial (1913) was designed by prominent local sculpture, Pietro Porcelli. In 1994, an alternative interpretation of the memorial was added to remember the deaths of Aboriginal people at La Grange in the 1860s.

Physical Description

The Esplanade Reserve is a grassed and treed open space area located between the Esplanade and the railway line. It contains more than a hundred Norfolk Island Pine trees (Araucaria heterophylla). It is situated on reclaimed land. The reserve contains a 1907 commemorative water fountain, a memorial to Maitland Brown and three explorers, Panter, Harding and Goldwyer built in 1913, 1914 pump house and toilets, two memorial trees planted in 1973 with small bronze plaques in front of each tree describing the details, barbeque areas, a children’s play area, an old railway carriage used as a coffee shop, a 1980s permanent sculptural piece and 1980s toilets block. In 1994, an alternative interpretation of the memorial was added to remember the deaths of Aboriginal people at La Grange in the 1860s.


Esplanade Reserve was reclaimed from the sea c. 1900. The foreshore in this area of Fremantle originally followed the line of Marine Terrace. In 1831, two years after the Swan River Colony was founded, Henry Reveley built a stone jetty to provide the foundling colony with a port. In 1854, a second jetty (South Jetty) was built on the same site. This continued to be used until the 1870s and to the east of this was constructed the Commissariat stores (1860) by convicts. It was in this general area that the Esplanade Reserve was later created. Early building regulations in Fremantle allowed for the construction of buildings very close to the foreshore on Fitzgerald Terrace (now Marne Terrace). Winter storms caused considerable damage to the buildings (and in some cases demolition) and Council investigated ways of dealing with the problem. Convicts built a sea wall in a bid to resolve the problem, but still encroachment from the sea and sand drift persisted. In April 1889, the Governor approved the Fremantle Council’s proposal to vest the land between the Railway Fence and Beach Street in the Council for the purpose of making an Esplanade. However, it appears that little was done for the next few years. Discussion of the works required took place in 1896, but again, nothing happened. Finally, in 1902, the necessary lands were acquired. One of the private landholders was the Honourable Henry Briggs, and as the price he was asking for his land was considered too high, it was decided that reclamation should be contained between Mouat Street and South Street, not Douro Road as originally planned. The Public Works Department forwarded plans to the Fremantle Council in October 1902 and the work commenced soon after. During 1902 and 1903, a stone causeway was built and the area between the foreshore and causeway filled. Stone for the work came from the Rocky Bay quarries, where about 70 men worked for the purpose. An area of seven and a half acres was reclaimed. Both the Municipal Council and Public Works Department were involved in dealings to obtain the necessary land fill. Spoil from the Fort Arthur fortifications at Arthurs Head was used, along with stone from Rocky Bay and sand from Robbs Jetty. Manure from cattle ships was used as topsoil. The Council made repeated requests to the State government to have the reserve vested in the Municipality for recreation purposes (such as merry-go-rounds, shooting galleries and so on), and this eventually happened on 13 August 1904. Later that month, the Council accepted a tender from Messrs Tucker and Thompson to reticulate the reserve. In 1905, Fremantle Council agreed to give a 33 foot wide strip of land to the Department of Railways, provided that the railway line would be fenced off from the reserve. The Fremantle Council’s Ovals, Parks and Reserves Committee were responsible for the upkeep of the Esplanade Reserve. In 1906, the Committee resolved that all games (including cricket and football) be prohibited there. Regardless, the Esplanade Reserve was soon popular for a wide variety of recreational activities, and was also used for other public events, such as the Foundation Day ceremony, public meetings and speeches. By 1919, speakers had to get a permit from the Town Clerk in order to speak in the Oval on Sunday afternoons between 3 and 5pm. A bandstand was opened in April 1906. It was designed by J McNeece, the winner of the design competition. It was the site of many concerts and events. It was demolished in 1927. A water fountain memorial was erected in 1907. It was built to commemorate Major General Sir Hector McDonald, who was well respected in the British Army but while enroute to Paris to defend ‘an undisclosed act’ in March 1903, shot himself. The memorial was funded by the Caledonian Society and crafted by Stead Brothers. The Norfolk Island Pines were planted at the instigation of Councillor Frank Nicholas in 1908. Advice was provided by the Forests Department, Fremantle Horticultural Society, the Department of Agriculture and the Director of Government Gardens. A memorial to Maitland Brown and three explorers, Panter, Harding and Goldwyer, was built in 1913. The memorial commemorated the latter three men, who were killed by Aboriginals at Le Grange in 1864. Maitland Brown (a local Fremantle identity) led a party of seven to retrieve the bodies and during the expedition killed at least 20 Aboriginal people, including women and children. Brown was exalted on his return to Fremantle for avenging the deaths of the explorers. The memorial was commissioned by G. Julius Brockman and designed and made by prominent sculptor, Giacomo Pietro Porcelli. Brockman died before the memorial was completed and was commemorated on one of the four plaques. Maitland Brown was also immortalised on the memorial as a ‘pioneer pastoralist’ and ‘premier politician’. The following year (1914), the Public Works Department built a pump house and toilets opposite the Esplanade Hotel. Over the years, Esplanade Reserve continued to be the site of various community activities and events. In the 1970s, for example, Proclamation Day ceremonies were held there (as for many years it was supposed that Captain Fremantle had planted the flag claiming the western third of the continent at a spot in the middle of the reserve). Two memorial trees were planted in the reserve in 1973 – the first from TOCH member, Ted Caster from England and the second from Mrs T.A. Williams, a foundation member of the Fremantle Red Cross to commemorate Red Cross Day. There are small bronze plaques in front of each tree describing the details. However, by the 1970s, the reserve was badly in need of maintenance. In 1979, the City of Fremantle commenced a landscaping and beautification program. The works included reticulation of the lawns, paving and new shrubs and trees to provide a greener reserve. Barbeque areas and a children’s play area were added, and the lavatory facilities improved. In the same year, the Council accepted a proposal from Mr Hoger to put an old railway carriage in the reserve for use as a coffee shop. The converted railway carriage had been built at the Midland Railway Workshops in 1912 and had been in service for 60 years before being restored and located in the Esplanade Reserve. As part of Fremantle’s public art initiative, a permanent sculptural piece was added to the reserve in the 1980s. Other works in the 1980s (in time for the America’s Cup defence) included replacement of the park furniture and upgrading of the reticulation system. New toilets were built at the western end of the reserve. The America’s Cup Office allocated $215,000 to refurbish the park. The main focus of this work was the replacement of 35,000spm of lawn to allow visitors to freely enjoy the reserve. The Maitland Brown memorial was restored in 1993. The following year, a new plaque was added to the memorial to commemorate the Aboriginals that were killed at La Grange by Brown’s party. This reinterpretation of the past resulted from a research project at Murdoch University, with input from the local Aboriginal and white communities at La Grange. Known as twinning, it is the only known example of such reinterpretation of past commemorative efforts in Western Australia. Fremantle’s Esplanade Reserve continues to provide an important community venue, and is the venue of a number of cultural festivals, trade shows and so on. Approximately 100 of the Norfolk Island Pine trees (Araucaria heterophylla) in the Reserve have been classified by the National Trust of Australia (WA) for their landmark value, being a large group of trees informally planted in an urban park. The Esplanade Reserve was also identified in 'Fremantle's Landscape: A Study for the Municipal Inventory' as being of cultural heritage significance'. The historical notes above are based on research undertaken by Katarina Lesic, Kristen Lilly, Lisa Sturis and Robyn Wilton, Heritage Studies 213 students, Research in Cultural Heritage Unit, Curtin University of Technology, 2004.


High degree of integrity (original intent clear, current use compatible, high long term sustainability, restored). High degree of authenticity with much original fabric remaining. (These statements based on street survey only).


Condition assessed as good (assessed from streetscape survey only).


Name Type Year From Year To
Public Works Department Architect - -
Pietro Porcelli - Maitland Brown Memorial Architect - -

Place Type



Epoch General Specific
Original Use OTHER Other
Present Use PARK\RESERVE Park\Reserve

Historic Themes

General Specific
SOCIAL & CIVIC ACTIVITIES Community services & utilities

Creation Date

20 Jul 2011

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

22 Mar 2019


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