Frequently Asked Questions
Stop 1: CY O’Connor statue Collapse and expand this accordion
Artist: Pietro Porcelli
One of Western Australia’s finest examples of statuary, this bronze figure is of CY O’Connor, WA’s Chief Engineer, who was the genius creator of the Fremantle Inner Harbour. It was created by Fremantle sculptor Pietro Porcelli as a monument to WA’s Chief Engineer.
The whole monument stands 10 m tall and the statue itself is about 3.4 m tall. The statue is in bronze and cast in Naples, Italy, because Porcelli was not confident there was a foundry able to cast it in one piece in WA. The stone is local granite from Mahogany Creek in the Darling Range. All elements, apart from the statue itself, were manufactured in Fremantle. Dolphins at the corner are well-known symbols of the god Neptune and harbours themselves.
CY O’Connor is posed clutching plans for the harbour, with a determined expression. The sculpture is acknowledged as a wonderful likeness to the man. At the foot of the column are base reliefs of 40,mm depth, celebrating his main achievements: the harbour, railways and the Goldfields Water Supply.
Following the death of O’Connor by suicide at 58 near Robbs Jetty in March 1902, there was a push to create a memorial for him at the location of his first major project, Fremantle Harbour. The Fremantle Chamber of Commerce initially took on this project but later withdrew and it instead became a public subscription project.
A competition was held to select the winning submission from entries by sculptors from across the Commonwealth. Both first and second places were awarded to Porcelli in a blind selection.
From Bari on the Adriatic Sea in Italy, Porcelli was the leading sculptor in Western Australia. He had arrived in Australia at 8 years old with his fisherman father, later returning to Naples to study sculpture, then returning to WA to make a living at it.
During his time in Fremantle, Porcelli lived in Packenham St and had several studios over time in Fremantle. The studio where he created the O’Connor memorial was in Marine Terrace.
Other works by Porcelli include:
- statue of Alexander Forrest on the corner of Barrack St and St Georges Tce, Perth
- Maitland Brown Explorers’ Monument on the Esplanade park, Fremantle
- Peace memorial at the Midland railway workshops
- bust of WA’s first Premier Sir John Forrest in WA’s Parliament House
- Jewish War Memorial in Kings Park
- Victorian Shrine of Remembrance’s panels, in Melbourne
- War memorials in Kalgoorlie, Boulder, Victoria Park and West Leederville.
Porcelli died in 1943 and is buried at Karrakatta Cemetery.
Stop 2: Southern Crossing Collapse and expand this accordion
Artists: Tony Jones and Ben Jones
Southern Crossing, by renowned Perth sculptor Tony Jones and his son Ben, tells a poignant story of the typical migrant experience upon arriving at Victoria Quay.
The life-sized bronze work shows a man disembarking, with suitcase in hand and a symbolic ship tucked under his other arm. Ahead of him in his way stands the Australian native dog, the dingo, or ‘dwerda’. The two face off - a meeting of two worlds and cultures. His pensive look and the dingo’s wariness symbolise their common uncertainty.
The dingo has significance to Victoria Quay, with the majestic Cantonment Hill overlooking the place of the dingo or ‘dwerda’ spirit. Cantonment Hill is known to Noongar Whadjuk people as Dwerda Weelardinup.
The artwork includes a nearby passageway reminiscent of a ship’s gangway featuring the names of many passenger ships associated with Victoria Quay prior to the opening of the Fremantle Passenger Terminal in the early 1960s.
Tony Jones and son Ben were the creators of the well-known and loved Eliza statue in the Swan River, at the location of the former Crawley Baths, on Mounts Bay Road.
Southern Crossing was unveiled in 2002 as a partnership between Fremantle Ports, the City of Fremantle and the Artists Foundation of Western Australia, with funding support from the Mediterranean Shipping Company, P&O Ports, the Australia Council and Arts WA.
Stop 4: Historical vinyl wrap Collapse and expand this accordion
These historical photographic wraps installed by Fremantle Ports tell stories of Victoria Quay in the past. The eastern side is from State Library of Western Australia and is dated 1974. It shows port workers or ‘lumpers’ receiving bagged flour from rail wagons at C Shed for shipment on the cargo vessel Bordagain. The photo reflects the typical breakbulk handling operation seen in the port up until the 1970s before full containerisation/unitisation took hold.
The cargo sheds facilitated the handling of cargo through discharge/load and receival/delivery operations. Not all cargo, however, was handled through the sheds themselves with certain types of cargo being discharged or loaded directly into or out of rail wagons or motor vehicles. Cargo such as timber, new vehicles and heavy equipment was also discharged directly and stored on the stacking areas surrounding the sheds until such time delivery was made.
Vessels also utilised berths for repairs/lay-up/bunkers/stores and special visits.
The type of cargo handled at the berths/sheds included:
- bagged wheat (early days, before wheat-handling facilities were built on North Quay)
- sandalwood (early days)
- bagged flour
- cartons/pallets of fruit
- frozen meat (freezer)
- heavy lifts - dump trucks - locomotive
- scrap metal
- general break-bulk cargo.
The southern side has an almost-theatrical (but real) 1905 image of deckhands aboard a windjammer in this harbour, mending a sail. What a crew!
Such tall ships were regular callers to Fremantle in the early years of the port, through into the 1930s. They were hardworking vessels plying the oceans carrying both cargo and passengers. Cargo included dry goods, personal effects, wool, bagged wheat, and sandalwood. For the crew it was a harsh, dangerous working life. They faced atrocious conditions, including tyrannical captains, fierce winds, huge waves and icebergs in the Southern Ocean. The fear of mishap would always be on their minds as most could not swim. Going aloft in bad weather was a major risk, while the few lifeboats would prove useless in extreme weather and a fall from a yard usually meant either death on the deck below or no hope of rescue from the ocean. This terribly harsh working life is reflected and etched on the faces of the men in the photo displayed.
The third side facing Gage Roads Freo's beer garden is from 1933, showing a huge crowd greeting the P&O liner Strathaird on its arrival from Britain. Prior to the Fremantle Passenger Terminal being built, overseas passengers ships arrived at any of the different berths along Victoria Quay.
Strathaird was launched in 1931 and was a sister ship to Strathnaver. Three near sisters Strathmore, Strathallan and Stratheden entered service some years later. All five liners were the first P&O passenger ships to be painted all white complemented with buff-coloured funnels. They were affectionately known as the “White Sisters” or the “Straths”. They provided a Royal Mail Service between Britain and Australia.
Strathaird was the first P&O liner to operate a cruise from Australia in December 1932. All 5 sisters served as troopships during World War II, however, Strathallan was torpedoed and sunk in 1942. The remaining 4 liners went on to faithfully serve P&O up until the early 1960s.
The P&O and Orient Line liners were household names in their day and attracted large crowds to the wharf side when they visited the Port of Fremantle. In the photo, the passenger/cargo State Ship Koolinda is seen in the background at C Shed.
Stop 5: Gage Roads Grain Silo Collapse and expand this accordion
Artist: Andy Murphy
The grain silo of Gage Roads Freo reflects the frivolous nature of the easy Western Australian beach lifestyle, which the brewing company revels in. It is a riot of colour, waves, sun and fun.
Andy Murphy is an illustrative artist who works out of his studio in Northcote, Melbourne.
Andy mainly works in pen and ink but often delves into hand-painted signs, murals, sculptures and, on occasion, the odd cake decoration. He is heavily influenced by the world of skateboarding and its associated humour and imagery, in particular, skateboard graphics.
Andy also once illustrated the cover of SLAM Skateboarding - that’s a pretty big deal.
Stop 3: Venus & Friends Collapse and expand this accordion
Artist: Judith Forrest
To reflect Fremantle’s quirky nature, artist Judith Forrest was commissioned to capture the essence of all activities related to tourism, holiday, river and celebrated Rottnest Island activities.
The Venus & Friends art series is a collective of 8 different small painted steel and bronze sculptures. The sculptures consist of 8 whimsical figures of Venus and various sea creatures that are mounted atop existing metal supports.
This series runs along the quayside of O’Connor Landing between C and B sheds, where island holidaymakers depart, excited at the journey ahead.
The first instalment of the series starts with a piece commemorating the relationship between humans and wildlife in Fremantle. This sculpture, titled A free ride, shows a duck navigating for a rower at the bow of his boat.
Continuing down the series, the next creation is named A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. This piece once again celebrated one of the many activities to be done on Rottnest Island as a shark is seen to enjoy the cycle paths of the island.
At the bottom of the harbour parodies the gulf between business and leisure, as a businessman takes his briefcase on a snorkelling holiday.
As you move toward B Shed, the next piece is called Leda & the swan. This conveys the relationship between humans and the aquatic native life as a small drama is played out on the riverbank between and human and a swan.
The fifth piece, the series’ namesake creation Venus & Friends, exhibits a bather drying off and simultaneously admired by the occupants of Seal Island.
In a comical ode to the tourists who flock to the area, the next piece titled Not as cheap as chips, shows a seagull stealing a tourist's camera. How many times have gulls terrorised the tourists?
The next piece shows a small girl fully protected in floaties and sun hat playing in the shallows of Rottnest Island and is titled Safe from the sun and sea. What an idyllic family image on Rottnest Island.
The final piece is titled A Quokka goes for an eagle. This depicts the iconic marsupial known as a quokka, native to Rottnest Island, playing a round of golf on the island’s links.
Judith is a highly experienced and regarded Western Australian sculptor with public artworks around WA. Notable works include:
- On The Mend - Southwest Health Campus - Bunbury
- The Water Watchers - Town of Cambridge
- Unfolding Lives - Forgotten Australians Memorial
- Recent Images and Tower - Fiona Stanley Hospital
- Pieces of Lives - North Perth, Hyde Park.
This series on Victoria Quay was unveiled in November 2002. For more information on Judith and her work, visit: https://www.judithforrestartworks.com.au/
Stop 6: Memorial to the Migrant Children Collapse and expand this accordion
Artists: Charles Smith and Joan Walsh-Smith
The two bronze figures commemorate the contribution made by British and Maltese girls and boys who left their countries as child migrants, for new lives in Western Australia. Sadly, many of those lives were filled with sadness and disruption.
The life-size bronze statue of a young boy and girl carrying all their worldly possessions in a small suitcase apiece serves as a perpetual reminder of the experiences of nearly 3,000 unaccompanied children who were shipped to Western Australia from Britain and Malta over a period spanning more than 50 years. The memorial to honour the memory, and the contribution to Western Australian society and history of former child migrants was launched on Human Rights Day (10 December) 2004 by the West Australian Minister for Community Development, the Honourable Sheila McHale.
Between 1947 and 1953, more than 3,200 children migrated to Australia under approved schemes. About 100 of them were Maltese while the remainder came from the United Kingdom. Other European countries were asked if they would like to participate in the child migration scheme but declined. Over 30 homes were approved by the Commonwealth for the housing of child migrants. Most of these were run by voluntary and religious organisations, many later shown to have allowed and, indeed, facilitate child abuse.
It was not government policy to provide homes specifically for migrant children; however, the government did contribute towards the capital expenditure incurred by these organisations in setting up suitable homes. Both the Commonwealth and State governments contributed towards running costs. The governments of the United Kingdom and Malta also paid maintenance for their children who had emigrated to approved institutions in Australia.
For more information on Smith Sculptors, you can visit: https://www.smithsculptors.com/
Stop 7: Jack – The Australian Sailor Monument Collapse and expand this accordion
Artists: Charles Smith and Joan Walsh-Smith
The Australian Sailor Monument aims to provide long overdue recognition for the sailors of Australia.
Award-winning artists Charles Smith and Joan Walsh-Smith were commissioned to design a suitable monument. Well known as the creators of the evocative and moving memorial to HMAS Sydney in Geraldton, they have imbued the same powerful emotion into the Australian Sailor Monument, an imposing bronze sculpture, which on its base stands 3.6 m high.
The centerpiece is a bronze sculpture of a young man in naval uniform taking his first steps up the gangway. The pose captures him looking back briefly at those gathered to say goodbye. Smiling and striding purposely into the unknown, raising a hand in a final gesture of farewell. A moment in time when the sea beckons and the safety of the shore is left behind.
Jack Tar was once a name synonymous with all sailors and the model used in this case is simply known as ‘Jack’. An early 1950s round-rig uniform and kitbag were discovered but as we have grown much larger in the intervening 60+ years finding someone with appropriate features and slim enough to fit into it presented a problem. Eventually a friend of the artists, whose day job is working as an engineer, was persuaded to don the uniform and became ‘Jack’.
The sculpture is stored here temporarily, while the foundation continues to source funding for its permanent home. Fremantle Ports has earmarked a site on Rous Head.
Charles Smith and Joan Walsh-Smith were also the creators of the previous sculpture, the Memorial to the Migrant Children, as well as the HMAS Sydney memorial on Mount Scott in Geraldton, a spectacular stainless-steel dome that expresses the loss and emptiness associated with the tragic death of 645 crew aboard the Sydney when it sank with no survivors during World War II in November 1941.
For more information on Smith Sculptors, you can visit: https://www.smithsculptors.com/
Stop 8: Greg James, J Shed Collapse and expand this accordion
The lawn fronting J Shed on the margins of Victoria Quay is where you can find sculptures by Greg James, whose studio is within the same old transit shed. Greg James is one of Western Australia's finest sculptors with over 25 years of experience who specialises in life-size bronze figures.
Greg is renowned for his iconic public artwork, including The Fishermen at Fishing Boat Harbour, where you can also see his figure of rock legend Bon Scott. In Walyalup Koort in the Fremantle CBD, you can see Pietro Porcelli sculpting a bust. Greg’s sculptures attest to his attention to detail and his ability to capture the essence of his subjects. His work is interactive and tactile, inviting participation from the public. His work celebrates the beauty and sensuality of the human form and explores concepts of the human condition.
His studio was founded in 1993 and can be found in J Shed, Fremantle, where the gallery displays local artists alongside his work. View a range of Greg’s collectable works from his loft gallery that overlooks the busy studio where his unique sculptures are created. Inspired by people, Greg continues to create works that focus on elements of the human condition.
Greg’s work can be found not only throughout Western Australia but also in galleries in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand. His work has also featured previously in Rome, Paris, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Hong Kong. Greg specialises in bronze, however, he also works with materials such as stone, marble, wood, Forton, aluminium and steel, and produces paintings and drawings using acrylics, charcoal, pencil, pastel, oil and watercolour.
"The essential inspiration for my work is people. Some of my work is concerned with the artistic representations of individuals and or events based on historical fact, while other works concentrate on interpretations of various elements of the human condition."
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