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Bicton



1830


The Swan River Colony was declared by Charles Fremantle in April 1829, however, 
Bicton was not settled until 1830, when four land grants were given to John Hole Duffield, who had arrived on the Warrior in March 1830, Alfred Waylen, Joseph Cooper and William Hapgood. The area was named after the village of Bicton in East Devon, where Duffield had previously had an estate. Duffield planted the colony's first commercially-operating vineyard, comprising 5,700 vines, in 1845. His son, James Hole Duffield, and another worker, John Luff, died on 30 March 1860 after they were buried alive in what the Perth Gazette called "a lamentable accident" while attempting to sink a well on Duffield's property.

Prior to European settlement, the Beeliar subgroup of the indigenous Noongar people obtained food and drinking water from the river edges and open grassy areas. The sandbar at Point Walter was used as one of the few river crossing between the mouth of the river and The Narrows. The area around Point Walter was known as Dyoondalup in the local language, meaning "place of white sand", and featured in local creation myths. The area along the East Fremantle and Bicton foreshores, extending into Blackwall Reach, was called Quaada gabee [what language is this?], meaning "beautiful water", and included a number of freshwater springs.

The Bicton Racecourse was established in 1904 on land leased by the Higham family after the closure of the South Fremantle Racecourse. The course was closed in 1917 after the passing of the WA Racing Restrictions Act. The former racecourse was subdivided into suburban blocks in 1919, and the Castle Hill area, close to Point Walter, was subdivided in 1921 by Gold Estates.Further development occurred after the conclusion of the Second World War.




River Steamer Westralian at Point Walter 1915 




Bicton near Fremantle - a short history




The Swan River Colony was founded in 1829, then struggled for success throughout most of the nineteenth century. However, things began to change with the discovery of gold. As all Western Australian (WA) teachers know, the first discoveries occurred in the northern part of Western Australia in 1882. The subsequent discovery of gold at Coolgardie in 1892 and at nearby Kalgoorlie during the following year stimulated an unprecedented rush to Western Australia. In eastern Australia in the 1890s there was a severe economic depression, and for many men, the naive prospect of immediate wealth was too much to resist. There was also substantial immigration from the British Isles, southern Europe, the Americas and Asia. In the decade between 1890 and 1900 the non-Aboriginal population of Western Australia increased from about 48,500 to about 180,000 persons, and stimulated unprecedented economic growth. Coupled with this came a political and social transformation, and a burgeoning stability as increasing agricultural returns, particularly from wheat farming began to bolster those from gold.

Political power, which had long been in the hands of the old colonialists, inevitably began to be taken up by the ‘new’ settlers with their new ideas. Associated with this was the burgeoning strength of the working-class organisations which expected improvement in all areas. Thus fitted out with a new economic richness coinciding with the birth of Federation, the early 1900s became a time when most government departments and the Public Service were modernised.

A revolution in Western Australian teaching took place with the recruitment of senior well-qualified educators from outside the state who initiated a policy to provide free schooling to all children wherever there was developmental activity, which meant even in the remotest agricultural regions. Most schools were one-teacher affairs, and at the turn of the century only about five percent of the teachers had any formal training. It was a situation requiring urgent remedy, and a Teachers’ Training College commenced at Claremont in 1902. Initially, the minimum entrance age was fifteen and a half years for a three year course, but this was later raised to seventeen with a two year course and participation in a ‘monitor’ scheme, which was a means of cutting costs and introducing students to the practicalities of teaching in actual schools. Thus it was in this revolutionary climate that Bicton Primary School commenced in 1904.

Today Bicton is a riverside suburb just a few kilometers upstream from Fremantle.

The name Bicton was determined by the Duffield family who took up a land grant in 1831. The original Bicton is a village near Dover, England. By 1860 the Duffields had established a successful vineyard with 7,000 vines, but now there is no trace.

Knowledge of Aboriginal activity in the Bicton area during the first half of the nineteenth century is fragmentary. The original peoples who ranged over the entire southern side of the Swan-Canning estuary were identified as Booyalkalla. In 1837 they numbered less than 60 persons. The anthropological and archaeological record for Bicton is scant. This may be because freshwater wetlands were minimal. Nevertheless, cultural significance was probably attached to every major local feature, such as along the riverside environs at Blackwall Reach (Jenalup), and at Point Walter (Dyoondalup).

The area where the school is located was originally known as Lower Bicton, and hosted a small rural farming community until 1917 when the first urban subdivision took place. Upper Bicton was naturally enough up the hill, westward of the school, and was the site of a horse racetrack. Meetings on were on Wednesdays and punters came from Fremantle via road and river ferry. But the land became too valuable and was subdivided in 1919. The outline of the Westbury/Yeoville Crescent loop and Birdwood Circus bear testimony on modern street maps to what once was.

In carving up Bicton, the estate agents of the time had started directing their marketing efforts at a more affluent clientele than they had for Palmyra, which had its first urban subdivision to cater to Fremantle’s increasing working class in 1903. The subdivisions inevitably brought about a rise in the number of children in the district.

But in its early days Bicton School was largely for the bare-footed kids who lived on the small local farms. Perhaps they were halcyon days? Farm animals such as horses, cows and poultry were the norm, as was an intimate knowledge of what fruit trees were in season in the district, and more importantly where they were.

Wood fires were the standard fuel for heating and cooking, and chopping wood was a daily task to be avoided by kids when possible. Inevitably with so much bushland still nearby, so was gathering more fuel in a wheelbarrow. There was never much money to spare, but everything that was fun for a kid was pretty much free anyway. Gings and gidgies were standard equipment for boys, and fish, crabs and prawns were still abundant in the nearby river. The cliffs and rocky outcrops of Point Walter and Blackwall Reach have been favourite haunts for generations.

The Bicton Swimming Club initiated the Bicton Baths in 1926. They are located on the site of an old jetty for an animal quarantine station which serviced the Fremantle port. The quarantine station occupied the area which is now parkland on the hill above the jertties. Bicton School has had a long connection with the Bicton Baths for swimming activities, but nowadays our pupils are bussed to a swimming pool in Fremantle. © 2004 P. Weaver




The Zephyr ferry to Rottnest 1950








Bicton Baths


Bicton Baths is a popular swimming location on the Swan River in Western Australia commonly used by prawn hunters, diving trainers, swimming lessons, sport, leisure and for annual events.

Formally known as Bicton River Jetty, and Jetty 1248, it is known to the local Aboriginal people, the Whadjuk Noongar people, as Kwoppa Kepa, meaning 'beautiful water' in Noongar.

Bicton Baths were initiated by the local Melville Amateur Swimming Club, a group who had previously utilised the jetty of the quarantine station jetty as a platform. In 1946 the Melville Water Polo Club was founded at the baths, a move which resulted in the Bicton Pool being built in 1979.

The baths themselves consist of a wooden U-shaped jetty which contains exit ladders. Bicton baths is located in a tidal gorge and is heavily influenced by ocean water inflow. It contains a variety of wildlife, including algae, anemones, crabs, dolphins, fish, nudibranchs, shrimp, sponges and starfish.[ 




Applecross camping 1920 







1935


The racecourse at Bicton operated around the same time as the one that was situated behind the Coogee Hotel, but unlike the Coogee racecourse it went on to become a major attraction until unregistered horse racing was outlawed in WA in 1917. Patrons of the races took a steam boat to the Bicton Jetty beside the oyster beds in the Swan River and walked to the races. This photograph gives a good idea of the size and scope of the Coogee racecourse, as they both served similar crowds and ran similar race programs. The Coogee racecourse operated between 1899 and 1904, and the first races were run at Bicton in 1904.








more on Army defence site: History Matilda bay   The Catalina





Blackwall reach






History: 


To the local Aborigines the Blackwall Reach/Point Walter area is known as Jenalup or Dyundalup. The most sacred part of the area is the cliffs along Blackwall Reach. In Aboriginal culture it was traditionally a place for women and children. Before white settlement the Beeliar family group (clan) occupied the area. The Beeliar clan is part of the Whadjuk, being one of the 14 language groups, which occupy the Nyungar region in the South-West of WA.

One of the many dreaming trails which run along the Swan River passed through the area now known as Point Walter and Blackwall Reach. The Swan River is highly significant to the Nyungar people, as, in the dreaming, the river was made by the Waugal rainbow serpent. The dreaming trail on the southern side of the river is the Yorga (women’s) trail and the men’s trail is found on the northern side. The sand bar, which stretches out from the point, is the connection between these two trails.

Blackwall Reach Reserve has been Crown land since the late 1800’s. Commander L. S. Dawson R. N. Admiralty Surveyor named the area Blackwall Reach in 1896 – probably after Blackwall Reach on theThames River near Greenwich. In the early 1900’s, the Melville Road Board (now Melville City Council) received complaints regarding the “neglected and unimproved state” of Point Walter. From 1907 to 1912, negotiations ensued with the Minister for Lands for the Melville Road Board to take control of the reserve.

The Melville Road Board soon decided that land communication with Point Walter was essential since river steamers did not provide an adequate service and the road to Point Walter was “little better than a bush track”. In 1915 a tram service was established to Point Walter. It was not a successful operation. The service rarely showed a profit except in the summer months. The tram service did bring Point Walter to life, however. It became a popular picnic spot and restaurants and a dance floor were established.








Indigenous history


Before European settlement, the Point Walter area was inhabited by Indigenous Australians of the Beeliar people, who were part of the Whadjuk Noongars
They knew the area as Dyoondalup, meaning in the Noongar language "place of long flowing white hair" or "place of white sand". It was traditionally an area for women and children, but also served as a meeting point when the clan wanted to move to another part of the river. Women at Point Walter would meet with men swimming across from Mosman Park to the sandbar. This function of the sandbar for river crossings was a key feature of the site; Mosman Park, also a place for women and children, contained a rock believed to impregnate a woman within a few weeks of her touching it. To cross the river as a group, they would cut down a tree, and children would float across the river on the log, with the adults swimming alongside them.

Aboriginals would often practise controlled burning at the site, keeping the understory low, and flushing out game. During summer months, the site was a source of food and resources through its large variety of flora and fauna. Fishing was common, and fishing traps were used extensively.[2] Usage of the local flora included making string from the native wisteria (Hardenbergia comptoniana) and gum from the marri (Corymbia calophylla).
Early history

During his survey along the Swan River of suitable spots for settlement, James Stirling named Point Walter after Walter Stirling. Walter's relationship to James is disputed, with some sources claiming Walter was James' uncle, with others claiming he was his brother. In 1830, the land was acquired by settlers Lionel Lukin and Alfred Waylen.Waylen developed the land by building a villa in 1830, which later burnt down. In 1831 his land was extended by 700 acres (280 ha) to include part of his namesake suburb, Alfred Cove. The settlers were involved in skirmishes with the local Beeliar people; Waylen's house was burnt down in 1833,[6] and one of Waylen's labourers was speared to death after another labourer killed an Aboriginal for stealing potatoes. This, coupled with infertile soils, saw these early settlers departing; Waylen left for a land grant on Preston River, before returning two years later to establish a more successful property. During his time at Point Walter, Waylen constructed an inn known as The Halfway House due to its location between Perth and Fremantle. In 1837 he cut a canal through the sandbar, reducing the distance of a boat trip between Perth and Fremantle by about 2 miles (3.2 km),  and charged a toll for its use. In 1843, Samuel Caporn and his family settled at Point Walter and took over running The Halfway House, having emigrated to Australia the previous year. The Caporns moved away from Point Walter in the mid-1850s, because the canal was silted up.

The site became popular after the cutting of the canal, and was often used for crabbing, camping, swimming and picnicking. The only way to access the point was by boat, so a jetty was built. Point Walter's popularity led to the construction of two tea rooms and a timber bathing house to deal with ferries and yachting parties. Later, a limestone road was built, allowing access by horse-drawn carriages. The sources differ, but in either 1895 or 1907 the State Government purchased the land, declaring it a Class A reserve, and in 1912 the Melville Roads Board (now the Melville City Council was appointed to manage it. The reserve officially opened on 30 November 1914.






Point Walter





Point Walter foreshore, c. 1924

Before European settlement, the Point Walter area was inhabited by Indigenous Australians of the Beeliar people, who were part of the Whadjuk Noongars. They knew the area as Dyoondalup, meaning in the Noongar language "place of long flowing white hair" or "place of white sand".

It was traditionally an area for women and children, but also served as a meeting point when the clan wanted to move to another part of the river. Women at Point Walter would meet with men swimming across from Mosman Park to the sandbar. This function of the sandbar for river crossings was a key feature of the site; Mosman Park, also a place for women and children, contained a rock believed to impregnate a woman within a few weeks of her touching it. To cross the river as a group, they would cut down a tree, and children would float across the river on the log, with the adults swimming alongside them.

Aboriginals would often practise controlled burning at the site, keeping the understory low, and flushing out game. During summer months, the site was a source of food and resources through its large variety of flora and fauna. Fishing was common, and fishing traps were used extensively. Usage of the local flora included making string from the native wisteria (Hardenbergia comptoniana) and gum from the marri (Corymbia calophylla)
Early history







Wikimedia | © OpenStreetMap
Point Walter is a point on the Swan River in Western Australia.

During his survey along the Swan River of suitable spots for settlement,  James Stirling named Point Walter after Walter Stirling. Walter's relationship to James is disputed, with some sources claiming Walter was James' uncle, with others claiming he was his brother.

 In 1830, the land was acquired by settlers Lionel Lukin and Alfred Waylen.  Waylen developed the land by building a villa in 1830, which later burnt down. In 1831 his land was extended by 700 acres (280 ha) to include part of his namesake suburb, Alfred Cove. The settlers were involved in skirmishes with the local Beeliar people; Waylen's house was burnt down in 1833,  and one of Waylen's labourers was speared to death after another labourer killed an Aboriginal for stealing potatoes. This, coupled with infertile soils, saw these early settlers departing; Waylen left for a land grant on Preston River, before returning two years later to establish a more successful property  During his time at Point Walter, Waylen constructed an inn known as The Halfway House due to its location between Perth and Fremantle. In 1837 he cut a canal through the sandbar, reducing the distance of a boat trip between Perth and Fremantle by about 2 miles (3.2 km),  and charged a toll for its use.  In 1843, Samuel Caporn and his family settled at Point Walter and took over running The Halfway House, having emigrated to Australia the previous year. The Caporns moved away from Point Walter in the mid-1850s, because the canal was 

The site became popular after the cutting of the canal, and was often used for crabbing, camping, swimming and picnicking. The only way to access the point was by boat, so a jetty was built. Point Walter's popularity led to the construction of two tea rooms and a timber bathing house to deal with ferries and yachting parties. Later, a limestone road was built, allowing access by horse-drawn carriages. The sources differ, but in either 1895 or 1907 the State Government purchased the land, declaring it a Class A reserve and in 1912 the Melville Roads Board (now the Melville City Council[nb 1])  was appointed to manage it. The reserve officially opened on 30 November 1914.




The canal at Point Walter continuously silted up, and the difficulty of upkeep led to the Caporns departing the site. After the Caporns had left the area, the local authorities did not engage in upkeep, and the canal fell into further disrepair. Steamers on the Swan River stopped using the sandbar's narrow and shallow canal, instead travelling the full distance around it. By the 1860s the canal was unused. A campaign by businessman George Randell, then controller of river traffic due to his ownership of a steamboat service, attempted to reopen the canal, but due to the cost of £2,000 it was not completed.  The lack of steamer traffic caused a drop in popularity for the tea rooms, and with the drop in patronage from the introduction of the Fremantle-Perth railway on 1 March 1881, Point Walter became a "quiet backwater"

In January 1923, to secure funding for the Point Walter memorial avenue, a three day carnival was held at Point Walter. By this time, the Melville Roads Board was receiving £100 a year for grounds maintenance, which was proving inadequate to keep the grounds in order.  A further decline in use was due to the increased use of ocean beaches by the public; as a result, control of the site was passed to the Parks and Gardens Board in 1929.  In 1914, a tramway was constructed between Canning Road and Point Walter, which was not considered a success as it rarely ran at a profit outside the summer months.  Despite this, the line was not closed down until 1939.  Further troubles came from the Depression of the 1930s, during which another drop in recreational use was experienced. World War II further decreased patronage, and Point Walter fell into a state of disrepair.


World War II to modern day

In 1941, the Melville Army Camp was constructed on the land and was used for training soldiers for waterborne warfare.  In 1947, the camp was converted to a migrant reception centre, which was operated until 1969 by the State Government and from 1969 until closure in mid-1971 by Commonwealth Hostels.  During the time the migrant reception centre was open, public opinion was that the majority of the migrants were communists, a situation that culminated in a 1950 piece in The West Australian addressing the issue and refuting the perception. The state of disrepair continued until November 1952 when the reserve was again put in the hands of the Melville Roads Board, which made several alterations to the site, including the removal of all old buildings, and the addition of new changing rooms, toilet facilities and a kiosk.  The Board also transported 30,000 tonnes (30,000 long tons; 33,000 short tons) of clean sand to Point Walter Beach to rectify erosion problems, including the exposure of many limestone boulders in Point Walter's shallows. In 1972 there were hopes that a bridge would be constructed between Point Walter and Point Resolution, but prohibitive costs and other problems meant that these hopes did not come to anything.


1943 Army deployment  at Point Walter


Post-1972, the facilities were used by the Department of Education to house the Graylands Teachers College. In 1980, control of 6.5 hectares (16 acres) of the land that had previously been used for army training purposes was handed over to the Department of Sport and Recreation (DSR). In 1986 the DSR removed all remaining hostel buildings and spent a considerable sum developing the sport and recreational facilities seen today. The official reopening occurring on 26 September 1986. The facilities' first patrons were the members of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda – the Italian syndicate that participated in the Fremantle-hosted 1987 America's Cup. In 2005 the facilities were again refurbished with funding from the DSR Capital Works Program.  Today, all that remains of the army camp is a watch-house from 1941. Point Walter is currently managed by Melville Council.














Richmond



source

Formerly Richmond and now known as East Fremantle , the area saw The Castlemaine Brewery operating from 1896-1963.






Photo thanks to SLWA c1902- 1904. Looking from East Street Jetty now we see some impressive industrial structures. Businesses along the riverfront could be serviced from the water by barges. I’m suggesting the Brewery was constructed here due to many springs from the limestone cliffs under Bicton.








Speaking to Craig Bibra recently whose family did well from the gold rush of the 1890s and lived atop the limestone cliff serviced via Preston Point Road in a home built by Herbert Hoover just behind the brewery here. The brothers purchased a farm and hotels supplied by Castlemaine including The National in Fremantle. They decided to part ways with one taking the farm. 
The gold rush proved to be a bountiful one to publicans but unfortunately for the other brother , a ten year drought saw an end to his good fortune.






Photo with thanks to the late Jack Lorrimer.

Castlemaine sold their interests to The Swan Brewery in 1927. Swan subsequently closed the brewery, employing the majority of the workforce at the Perth operations.

The building was demolished using too much explosive which sent debris farther than planned hitting vehicles to allow the construction of the new Stirling Bridge.






We have a terrific view down from The Plympton Hotel over Canning Road, behind the Castlemaine Brewery past The Boatbuilders House along the banks of the Swan River and Bicton.

Something I learned this week was John Duffield ,who landed in 1830 aboard the Warrior took up one of 4 land grants of 500 acres in what becamse Bicton. By 1845, Duffield was operating the first commercial vineyard with 5700 vines but in 1860 tragedy struck when his son James and a labourer John Luff were buried alive while sinking a well on the property.

Regular ferry services visited the East Street and Point Walter jetties with a tram passing one and reaching the other at Point Walter Reserve from Fremantle from the 15th December 1915, simultaneously with its opening of the extension of the East line to Stock Road, Bicton. The opening of this route helped to develop Point Walter into a popular resort and place of entertainment. Along with the trams came electric lighting, and, soon afterwards, well patronised shops and restaurants. Entertainment at Point Walter included a band. There were also panoramic views of the Swan River, frequently dotted with the sails of racing yachts.






Photo with thanks to Richard Rigg.

Over time, increasing numbers of motor car owners chose to seek entertainment further away from Fremantle than Point Walter. As a result, the Point Walter resort fell into disrepair, and patronage on the Point Walter line declined. In 1939, the line was closed

After the closure of the South Fremantle racecourse, a course was established in Bicton in 1904 on land leased by the Highams closer to Point Walter. This course too closed due to the WA Racing Restrictions Act in 1917.







On the far left you can see what we know today as The Left Bank formerly the ‘Boatbuilder’s House’— thanks go to Fremantle Library for image no. LH004686

Bicton Baths survives today and was developed in 1926, initiated by the local Melville Amateur Swimming Club, which made good use of the existing animal quarantine station jetty as a swimming platform. The baths quickly became a very popular location for swimming lessons, races and later water polo.

After the end of the second World War, Bicton expanded quickly with new homes and families settling there in a suburb named after a village in Britain near East Devon.








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Event date / locationEvent typeTitle / summaryVenue / hostPublication link
2020.05 Point Walter new trail  Loop 1km Jenalup Beach  
2020.05 Kalamunda Nature trail  create trail page and tour Rocky Pool  
2020.05.16 South Perth Nature trail 3km loop create trail and tour page Milyu Nature Reserve  
2020.05.15 Gwelup 12km North of Perth Nature trail around lake 3km loop - create trail and tour page Lake Gwelup Reserve  
2020.05.11 Herdsman 8km N.West trail section of 8km radius  Herdsman Lake Regional Park  
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