Rave party the last straw – Freo Ports closes South Mole to campers

Yesterday morning Fremantle Ports closed South Mole following damage and graffiti, and a rave party there on Friday night that required police attendance.

Fremantle Ports reports quite an increase in the number of backpackers camping in vehicles on South Mole this year – more than in previous years. It has watched the numbers continually rise over summer, to the extent 25 to 35 vans a night have parked there overnight, every night. Almost all are young travellers, with many vehicles having eastern-states plates – so the thinking is, it’s not a homeless issue.

Beyond the Maritime Museum, vehicles can be see lining the road to South Mole in the recent early morning

Fremantle Shipping News has recently drawn attention to this problem, specifically with reference to the South Mole area, not once but twice.

As rubbish has increasingly been found thrown around the mole, graffiti proliferating, and complaints from fishermen about nowhere to park growing, tents erected and the toilets not respected, Fremantle Ports felt compelled to take action. Even Fremantle Ports own rubbish truck was unable to drive out to South Mole last week due to backpackers taking up the roadway.

Neil Stanbury, Manager Communications and Community at Fremantle Ports, has advised Fremantle Shipping News that Fremantle Ports will now assess the damage sustained and what the next steps should be. No timeframe has been set for re-opening. Mr Stanbury recognised that the closure was a ‘shame, because many others also enjoy visiting South Mole, to fish, watch the ships pass by, or as a stroll in the morning’.

Credit Jean Hudson

South Mole is an operational area owned, controlled and maintained by Fremantle Ports, but public access has always been permitted. Temporary closures are not entirely unusual, with North and South Mole each closed three to four times a year for repairs or maintenance, often after storms.

Mr Stanbury also said that comments from people around South Mole this morning have been supportive of Fremantle Ports’ actions. He added that Fremantle Ports understand backpackers want to camp cheaply and close to Fremantle and that they’re part of the tourism economy, but ‘South Mole isn’t the solution for accommodation and it certainly doesn’t have the amenities when it comes to public health and safety’.

In fact, it is a three-hour parking zone only which is patrolled. Signs clearly show camping is prohibited.

Notwithstanding all this, it appears at just before 5 pm today, a number of campers were parked near the locked gates in the no parking more than 3 hours area. We have requested comment from Fremantle Ports.

Fremantle Ports now advise –

While Fleet Street is the property of Fremantle Ports, the parking bays on the southern side of Fleet Street (the side closest to J Shed) are controlled by the City of Fremantle. Similarly, the gravel area facing Bather’s Bay just outside the South Mole gate are also the City’s responsibility.

One suspects then that would be campers setting up in the Fremantle Council controlled land are taking their chances. But as of tonight it appears no-one is camping on Fremantle Ports’ land.

We will now redirect our query to the City of Fremantle CEO for advice as to what action, if any, the City is taking or plans to take re illegal, overnight camping/parking in this area outside the gates.

Watch this space!


* By Michael Barker, Editor, Fremantle Shipping News, with additional photographs by Jean Hudson

** If you’d like to COMMENT on this or any of our stories, don’t hesitate to email our Editor.


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