Steeped in History dating back to colonial times:
The Western Australian port city of Fremantle’s iconic National Hotel, originally built in 1903, show off their new $7 million refurbishment and is a captivating Cinderella story. The venue carries with it a rich history with the promise of its new feature built on the foundations of a long and chequered past.
The National first opened in 1887 and was demolished and rebuilt in 1903 in its current grand and opulent form. The First landlord William Conroy shot and murdered a town councillor outside the brand-new Fremantle Town Hall during the opening night event. He was the last man hanged in Perth Gaol and stories abound around this including a botched attempt at his execution. The National featured heavily in the history of the War Years – and there are stories of the deaths of brawling servicemen and other accidental deaths. Of the four fires over the years, the worst in 2007 almost wiped out half of the West End and a very bad one in 1975 destroyed the top floor.
A new owner, a new vision:
It was purchased by Karl Bullers, part-owner and CEO of The Carnegies Group in 2012 as a shell of a building after a devastating fire five years before. Having built the first rooftop bar in the Perth CBD,
The Destination Rooftop:
From the rooftop space, visitors can take in 360-degree panoramic views of the port city and can see as far out to Rottenest and Garden Islands. The rooftop was originally known as the ‘Widow’s Walk’ and from here mariners’ wives waited for their loved ones to return to port, looking for the lights of ships on the horizon beyond Victoria Quay.
The upper floor development includes building 12 luxury, individually styled heritage ensuite rooms spread over two floors. Six feature 3.5 metre ceilings and a private veranda and six are in the eaves of the building with Parisian style views over the rooftops of Fremantle – no two rooms are the same.
The bathroom vanities and wardrobes are made from Marri by local furniture maker Port Jarrah Furniture in High Street. All rooms feature Bergamotto soaps made from natural ingredients here in Fremantle and those with free-standing baths feature their bath bombs. Room prices range from $220 to $380 per night.
The Art features and rotating exhibits:
The four-storey staircase leading to the accommodation features an art gallery displaying rotating exhibitions by local artists, the first being appropriately titled “Local” that runs until January. Focusing on our WA spaces, how we live in them and how we relate to them the exhibition features the work of Jennifer Sulaj, Lizzie Marinko and Annette Orr.
You can visit the Staircase Gallery when attending a rooftop event or it is open to the public on Saturdays from 11am to 4pm and on Sundays from 12pm to 8pm. Private viewing can be made by prior arrangement. “Art will change every three months to ensure as many local artists as possible are given the opportunity to exhibit. Artists will be not charged a fee or commission to exhibit as the gallery is seen as another opportunity to showcase local talent to our patrons and guests,” Karl says.
Fremantle Essential Stops:
‘Freo’ is just 30 minutes from Perth City and sits at the mouth of the Swan River. It’s a place where music, the best of cafe cultures and art converge. It’s named about the British naval office who set up camp there and claimed possesion of it in the 1800s, Charles Howe Fremantle.
Beaches: Bathers Beach, Dog Beach, South Beach, preferred beaches for surfing here
Photo Credits: BM Photography, EA Given, Dfchannel Studio