Fremantle’s early years were filled with murder, mystery, hangings, convict shootings and other grisly events.
Thus it was with some trepidation that I attended the first of a series of three walking tours hosted by the incomparable journalist and Fremantle-researcher Carmelo Amalfi.
A former Deputy Chief of Staff at the West Australian newspaper, Carmelo is an authority on Fremantle’s early – and more recent – history, and the two-hour event did not disappoint.
He is also the owner of Streetwise media and publisher of the highly-popular independent ‘Freo Streetwise’ magazine and online publication.
Our tour began with a visit to the National Hotel in the heart of Fremantle where the view from the rooftop bar is absolutely sensational.
As we took in the sights, Carmelo explained how the National Hotel’s rooftop turret had been designed to line up exactly with the highest points of both the Town Hall and Monument Hill in the far distance.
And he was right, as when I took a look along the ‘line of sight’ from the top of the roof, they matched up exactly – proving Fremantle’s founding fathers certainly had an eye for accuracy!
However, even they could probably not have predicted the murder and mayhem that would take place in the City, particularly in its early years.
For example, there was the case of the town councillor shot in the face by a disgruntled publican at a children’s fancy dress party in the newly-opened Freo’ Town Hall in 1887.
Or the 15-year old convict boy hanged in public outside the Roundhouse in 1844 for the murder of his master’s son.
And not to forget the ‘mad Mayor’ who, soon after his appointment to Fremantle’s highest office in 1928, lost the plot and was found dead in a drain on the Esplanade after killing himself in a fit of depression.
The rambunctious Carmelo related all of these stories and more, with gusto and not a little macabre humour!
Finally, as we wandered around the last of the City’s crime sites – the famous Roundhouse – Carmelo told the macabre story of the young Danish sailor stabbed to death in a frenzied, sex-related attack by person or persons unknown in December 1963.
An unsolved ‘cold case’, this is the one I believe most intrigues Carmelo, and any information as to the possible whereabouts of the killer or killers would still be welcomed, he said.
Dead Man Walking tours continue on December 7,8 and 9, 2018 – and there may be further tours in the New Year depending on demand.
For further information contact Carmelo Amalfi at email@example.com
By Mike Peeters