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‘Don’t destroy it’ – the fight to save a slice of Freo history

Oliver Peterson
Article image for ‘Don’t destroy it’ – the fight to save a slice of Freo history

A former WA Premier is pleading for the historic 83-year-old Fremantle Traffic Bridge to be preserved and transformed into a tourist attraction.

No decision has been made on the timber crossing’s future – after the WA Government today revealed revised plans for new road and rail bridges to be built in between the old structures, to minimise the impact on the surrounding areas.

Former WA Premier, and Australian Heritage Council Chair, Dr Carmen Lawrence said on Perth LIVE, the old bridge is unique and should be saved in its entirety.

“The Premier’s right, it’s not fit for purpose for heavy trucks and cars anymore, no-one’s arguing with that, but you don’t need to destroy it in order to build a bridge beside it,” she told Oliver Peterson.

“I think they’re suggesting they’d leave a little stub at one end, but that’s what we’ve been doing in Perth forever. Leaving bits of buildings, facadism, you don’t know what it was, or what it was used for, and it doesn’t look right anymore, like the Barracks Arch.”

Construction on the new bridges due to start next year, and it’s projected to take 2 to 3 years to complete.

Dr Lawrence said there are plenty of examples of successful ‘Highline’ parks, including in New York City, which preserve the history by turning bridges into attractions.

“It sounds a bit grandiose, to compare ourselves to New York, but I really do think it’s possible,” she said.

“And it’s interesting that there are similar examples now in Melbourne and Sydney – taking old, industrial transport infrastructure and turning it into something that’s good for the community, good for tourism, the arts, greening spaces and just for leisure and relaxation.”

Press PLAY to hear Dr Carmen Lawrence’s full interview

Oliver Peterson