Suburb Spotlight: Hamilton Hill | The West Australian | Ralph Lauren

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Since the dawn of discovery

The historical suburb of Hamilton Hill, which neighbours South Fremantle, is full of rich history and a vibrant community culture.

Hamilton Hill was settled early in Western Australia’s colonial history with Captain George Robb arriving at Fremantle Harbour in 1830 to establish a farm, choosing a 2000-acre site from Hamilton Hill to North Lake.

“Many residents of Hamilton Hill today are descendants of pioneering families reaching as far back as 1830 when the area was first established as part of the Swan River Colony,” City of Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett said.

“Many early settlers in Hamilton Hill worked at the Robb Jetty and Anchorage abattoirs, while locals and visitors alike walked, rode horses or travelled in sulkies to picnic at Bibra Lake.”

Hamilton Hill also holds strong historical significance in journalism, with Charles Macfaull printing Swan River Colony’s first newspaper in the suburb, which would later become The West Australian.

Mr Howlett said the fertile soil made the area good for farming, with food production, dairy farming, orchards, vineyards and market gardens becoming big local industries in the early days.

“As a result it has several historic sites and buildings, including the Azelia Ley Homestead Museum on the former Manning family’s Davilak Estate, now Manning Park, and Hamilton Hill Memorial Hall which opened in 1925 and remains a focal gathering place, especially for annual Anzac and Remembrance Day ceremonies.”

Hamilton Hill Memorial Hall was funded by the community in memory of the men lost in WWI. Mr Howlett said wreaths were laid and the Fremantle Naval Band played to a huge crowd at its opening.

“You will also notice that many street signs in Hamilton Hill carry the red poppy insignia, a recognition of those named to honour the many who lost their lives in the world wars,” he said.

“Numerous Aboriginal sites are also known to exist in Hamilton Hill, and Manning Lake was known to the Aboriginal community as ‘devil’s lake’ possibly due to the mist that covers it at different times of the year.”

The modern day ‘Hami Hill’

“Hami Hill, as it is affectionately known among locals, is 5km from Fremantle, close to Cockburn’s CY O’Connor and Coogee beaches and on the coastal route to Rockingham and Mandurah,” Mr Howlett said.

“It boasts some of the oldest sporting clubs in the district and still offers larger-sized lots with homes and mature trees, while also contributing to urban infill opportunities.”

Mr Howlett said the leafy suburb, located 20km from the Perth CBD, had a great family and community feel with a population of about 11,000 residents.

“It is home to a very active, diverse, family-oriented community, and the Hamilton Hill Community Group boasts an enthusiastic membership and lots of events and activities to get involved with.”

Mr Howlett said the City of Cockburn spent $110,000 to upgrade Goodchild Park sporting field and recently completed the $340,000 project of new floodlights at the reserve with more upgrades on the way.

“This year the City of Cockburn is progressing the design of an upgrade and extension of the Goodchild Park clubrooms with construction planned to begin late 2021,” he said.

A great morning coffee and an Italian-style panini made with fresh sourdough is what you can expect at Kerry Street Pear Tree Cafe in Hamilton Hill.
Camera IconA great morning coffee and an Italian-style panini made with fresh sourdough is what you can expect at Kerry Street Pear Tree Cafe in Hamilton Hill. Credit: Supplied.

Linking up locals over fresh bread and coffee

A great morning coffee and an Italian-style panini made with fresh sourdough is what you can expect at Kerry Street Pear Tree Cafe in Hamilton Hill.

The cafe was opened in 2017 by Owner and Chef Ron Canty and his wife Asha upon returning to Perth from Europe.

“My wife is from here, and she had a lunch bar in the area before,” Mr Canty said. “We did a bit of travelling together and came back here as a family.

“Looking for a spot for something of our own, we came across the Pear Tree and the owner of the building was fixing it up – it was kind of derelict for around 10 years, so he was looking to put a business in there.

“We put our energy into this place and it kind of evolved organically over time.”

Mr Canty described the style of food as a blend of Australian cuisine with a strong Italian influence, which he said was very Fremantle and very local.

“Our signature thing would be the bacon and egg roll with our woodfired bread,” he said. “We spike up the oven every morning to about 500 degrees and we cook those spongy Italian paninis then we get going around 6am.

“Making those sandwiches with fresh bread first thing in the morning has been really popular.

“So it’s ended up being quite a homely, family-friendly, bright place with good-quality food and coffee at a fair price.”

Mr Canty described the locals of Hamilton Hill as a delightful community with a great artistic and creative vibe.

“We’re very lucky. It’s very different from Fremantle and my staff love it because we don’t get a lot of complaints, and a lot of people are just really happy that we’re there,” he said. “It’s a very arty and musical kind of area, often called the ‘musicians’ corner’ or ‘artists’ corner’, so we definitely embrace the music and the arts.

“The Bluegrass Jam that we have outside often has drop-in famous musicians that just have a little jam on Sunday morning, which is a really nice vibe and something special about this area.

Mr Canty said the cafe has made for a great community hub for locals to meet and socialise.

“A lot of neighbours say they’ve met somebody in the cafe that they’ve lived next door to for 10 years but never talked to before,” he said.

“So it’s definitely been a good way for people to create new friendships and link up – it’s been received very well.”

Pear Tree opens on Friday nights for pizza, which became quite popular during the height of the pandemic in 2020.

“Every Friday night, we’ve got a popular pizza night and we’re breaking into the heat-and-eat pizza market,” Mr Canty said. “Our heat-and-eat pizzas are going down to Esperance every week and across to Rottnest Island, north of the river and to some bottle shops like Como Liquor Store and Old Bridge Cellars and that’s gotten really popular.

“We’re just kind of balancing a little bit of everything at the moment, keeping the cafe busy and keeping up with demand for the pizzas and doing everything really well.”

Lou Raspa.
Camera IconLou Raspa. Credit: Supplied.

Evolving community with a mix of old and new

A suburb growing in stature and being touted as the ‘new South Fremantle’, Hamilton Hill is a popular area for many.

According to Raspa Property Group Director and Licensee Lou Raspa, young professional couples and young families are moving in and mixing with the suburb’s old money.

“There is a lot of urban renewal occurring with many professional couples moving into the area,” he said.

“The types of buyers who love Hamilton Hill are families with kids, professionals, singles and retirees.

“There are also many creative people moving in due to cheaper house prices.”

City of Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett said the large amount of school options in the area has made Hamilton Hill more desirable for families.

“In recent times, the area has experienced a resurgence of young families moving into the suburb. Fremantle Christian College, Port School, East Hamilton Hill Primary School, Phoenix Primary School, Kerry Street Community School and early learning centres offer diverse educational opportunities,” he said.

Mr Raspa, who is a veteran real estate agent in Hamilton Hill with about 30 years’ experience selling in the area, said there was a wide mix of home sizes and styles which were constantly evolving and being renovated.

“Hamilton Hill has a great mix of old and new housing,” he said. “New home builds and renovations of existing houses are frequent, so the housing stock is improving dramatically.

“Hamilton Hill performs very well and is a sought-after suburb due to its proximity to Fremantle.”

According to Mr Raspa, the main age group in Hamilton Hill is 30-39 year olds – households are predominantly couples without children.

“In general, people in Hamilton Hill work in a professional occupation,” he said.

Highlighting all the positives of the suburb, Mr Raspa said the mature wildlife and greenery in the area created a tranquil suburban atmosphere.

“Much of Hamilton Hill has underground power, and there are ocean views from several locations in the suburb,” he said.

“There’s good public transport, three primary schools, lots of parks and big blocks.

“Council tree planting schemes are increasing the leafy green feel and protected bush areas bring the most beautiful birds into suburban gardens.”

Mr Raspa notes Newmarket Hotel, Hamilton Hill Memorial Hall and Azelia Ley Homestead Museum as some of the standout landmarks for him in Hamilton Hill.

Hamilton Hill stats.
Camera IconHamilton Hill stats. Credit: REIWA.



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