Captain James Stirling, a British naval officer, in command of the frigate HMS Success, originally set out to explore the Swan River area as an alternative site for a British settlement, as the settlement on Melville Island, in the Northern Territory, was failing. In 1829, after Stirling convinced the British Government to go ahead with the settlement, Captain Fremantle, on his ship H.M.S. Challenger, dropped anchor off the coast of Garden Island, sailed to Arthur’s Head near the mouth of the Swan River and took possession of the western part of the continent (New Holland) on behalf of the Crown. Fremantle annexed one million square miles of territory, calling it Western Australia. He was later joined by Captain James Stirling who arrived on the 2nd of June with 150 civilian settlers from England, on the ship Parmelia, to begin the Swan River Settlement. Captain Stirling became Lieutenant Governor Stirling and after ten weeks at the new settlement announced that a port town would be built at the mouth of the Swan River and the town would be named Fremantle after Captain Charles Howe Fremantle.
Things You May Not Know About Fremantle
Before the Fremantle Harbour was built, ships had to anchor offshore due to a rocky bar blocking the mouth of the Swan River . If it wasn’t for the ingenuity of C.Y. O’Connor , Albany may very well have become the Capital City of Western Australia.
On September, 1983 Australia II won the America’s Cup (ultimate yacht race), making Dennis Conner the first American in the races 132 year history to lose the Cup. It was a sad day for the New York Yacht Club but a joyous occasion for Fremantle as the ‘Cup’ headed down under for the first time ever.
In 1987, Fremantle handed back the America’s Cup to Dennis Conner, after his yacht, Stars & Stripes defeated Kookaburra II off the coast of Fremantle. It was some small consolation that Conner became the first man in history to win the cup back! Recently the New York Yacht Club has tried to discredit Ben Lexen’s winning design. I’ll keep you posted on the outcome!
The replica of the Dutch ship, Duyfken, is berthed in the Fremantle Fishing Boat harbour.