Why is the Round House important?

    As the earliest public building in Western Australia and our first gaol, the Round House is an extremely important heritage place that is central to key stories about the establishment of the Swan River Colony, the dispossession of the original inhabitants and the development of the Port of Fremantle.

    The Round House also has strong links to the Aboriginal Prison on Rottnest when it was used as a holding place for prisoners awaiting transportation and the Fremantle Gaol when it was used as a lock-up for ticket-of –leave men from the Convict Establishment.

    After being saved from demolition three times in the 1920s, the Round House is one of the first places in WA to be recognised as a historic site. Since the 1980s it has been vested in the City of Fremantle and since 1998 it and has been managed by the Fremantle Volunteer Heritage Guides who have opened it daily for visitors.

    What is this project?

    The City is planning to undertake the staged conservation of the Round House building fabric. The first stage involves the preparation of a Conservation Management Plan which will help us to understand all aspects of the building’s fabric and history. It will also develop a programme for future works to the building to repair the damage of time and to conserve and enhance its heritage significance.

    How is this report different to other reports?

    Unlike other reports that have looked at the entire Arthur Head Reserve, this report will focus on the Round House building, to give us the detailed information necessary to conserve a building of this significance.

    This report will build upon earlier work from the 1970s through to 1990s and incorporate new historic research, physical inspections by engineers and architects as well as input from archaeologists and materials conservationists.

    What about the Interpretation of the Round House?

    To give visitors a better understanding of the complex and fascinating history of the Round House the Fremantle Volunteer Heritage Guides have received a grant from Lotterywest to design interpretation for the place. The City of Fremantle has also made a contribution to this project. 

    The separate conservation and interpretation projects are being closely coordinated to enhance the visitor experience and understanding of the place – the conservation work will focus on caring for the physical building and the interpretation will tell the story of the place.