South Fremantle Power Station

I had to make an emergency trip to Garden island last week, fly in fly out, to help a client in WA which meant a trip from airport to Garden island Submarine base (where I stayed over 2 nights) then directly back again.

Of course, I always take the scenic route…

I was driving from Fremantle to Rockingham when I saw an old derelict power station off the road.

All the windows were knocked out, the whole thing grafittied over, right up to the top floor.

Grave signs warned of injury, death and severe financial penalties.

Oh, look, a hole in the security fence…

What’s a man to do?

 Here’s a warning, don’t break the law. I may be away for a while…..


Giving the bird to a guard who took this photo with (appropriately) my cellphone


That gesture earned me a spell in solitary confinement.

Next to me is a bucket…useful, as I still have to receive my camera memory card, which I swallowed as they arrested me.

Night times are lonely.


Hope to see you again…soon!

Fortunately, I managed to get out of jail quickly, and retrieved my memory card.

You can see the old power station on Google Earth at      32° 5’38.83″S     115°45’32.68″E

Or search for McTaggart Cove, North Coogee, WA, Australia.

Here are three images from the inside, from different halls.

In the first image you can see an opening in the wall, just to the left of the post left of centre.

Power Hall, 142x71cm Issue of 25. Canvas print on hardwood frame. USD1000

The second image was taken in the hall leading through from the opening.

The Ball Bearing, 203x102cm Issue of 25. Canvas print on hardwood frame. USD2075


Third picture in a section of the large hall right at the far end, where I discovered some great graffiti, and a large shiny ball-bearing which someone left behind.


Thanks to for the following historical information. This site is worth a visit.

Also see for a great description of what it feels like to stand in front of this abandoned building.

South Fremantle Power Station

Construction of the Power Station commenced in January, 1946. The South Fremantle site was chosen for its relatively close metropolitan population, its proximity to nearby railway facilities for the delivery of coal and the ease with which seawater could be utilised for the cooling system. The four boilers 1, 2, 3 & 4 of ‘A’ Station were fired up in January 1951; the first 25 MW turbo-alternator came on line in May 1951 prior to the official opening of the Power Station on 27 June 1951 by the Hon. David Brand, Minister for Electricity. In September 1951, the second 25 MW turbo alternator came on line. The No. 3 turbo alternator came on line in January 1954, and the No. 4 turbo alternator in December 1954. The power station was then complete with a total capacity of 100 MW.

Much of the plant was designed and manufactured in England, with skilled contractors were sent out from England to assemble the plant on site. The State Energy Commission encouraged the recruitment of staff by providing housing in the Hilton Park area, and the new suburb soon had many community amenities. A bus service from the Power Station to Hilton and Fremantle was provided for shift workers. Over 250 workers were employed at the power station during the 1950s.

In 1954, a major fire at South Fremantle in the coal conveyor from the crusher house caused structural damage and resulted in a switch to oil fuel for the boilers. In the mid 1970s the plant was converted back to coal, which fuelled the station until its closure in 1985. By the 1980s production of electricity at South Fremantle had become uneconomical. The interconnected grid then was supplying electricity from power stations with more up-to-date machinery and closer to the coal source at Collie, Bunbury, Kwinana and Muja.

In September 1985, the South Fremantle Power Station closed after 34 years service and its four chimney stacks were demolished.


19 Responses to “South Fremantle Power Station”

  1. Hi Barney,
    The images you shot at South Fremantle power station are magical and I wondered whether you were selling copies of the first of the three images you posted from inside the station? My partner and I have long had a fascination with this place and that image has really captured my imagination. Thank you

    • Hi Amanda

      One of my favourite spots in the world. Is it still standing and accessible? I happened to be driving by towards Garden Island when I saw this derelict building, only had a short time to explore it, was so magnificent inside that I managed to grab 300 frames before my memory card was full. Each of these large images requires about 40-60 frames at 20 Megapixels. I’d really like to revisit the unexplored areas inside and knowledge that it’s still standing would be great.

      I have an upcoming exhibition of large canvases (see my website home page and I print these images in large size because there is a huge amount of detail which you can’t “immerse” yourself in unless you’re standing in front of a large canvas.
      I use a long-lasting pigmented inkset, Epson Ultrachrome K3, printed onto museum quality archival canvas which is free of optical brighteners, stretched over hardwood frames. The print has a protectivce klayere of varnish and comes with a 75 year unconditonal guarantee, but this does not cover poor handling. Please mount the print out of UV light, in a dry clean place and handle the canvas only with white cotton gloves because the oils in human skin contains acids which will damage the surface.

      I like to print 3 sizes and all the images are available in those sizes:
      142 x 71cm @ AUD 1,000
      203 x 102cm @ AUD 2,075
      280 x 140cm @ AUD 3,950
      This excludes shipping.
      I will send you an e-mail with these details, glad you like the images!
      Maybe you and your partner would like to accompany me when I visit next, company is good, but it’s at own risk!
      Regards, Barney

      • Hi Barney,
        Great to hear from you! You’ll be pleased to know the magnificent old power station is still standing. As far as I know it remains at the centre of a wrangle between the owners, the heritage authorities and various other stakeholders… I’d love to visit – have never been game enough to go inside. I look forward to reading your email. Warmest regards, Amanda

      • Hi Amanda

        A frisson of excitement…and fear…runs through me when I break into these vast derelict spaces and stand there all alone photographing them. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it! I believe that this space is occupied, which adds to the adrenalin. On top of that, taking these 360 degree panoramas is not a quick job. It requires choosing a spot, setting up my tripod, metering and testing the exposure, then capturing many images.

        If you live nearby or pass by again, could you check whether there is still access? There’s a very flash marina development going on next door, but if you drive down Robb Rd, turn into Caledonia Loop and park at the wharf at Chelydra Point you can walk north freely on the beach. There should be holes in the power station fence on the less exposed beach side around the bushes where the water oulet channel is. The Southern entrance is more exposed to view of the new development.
        Regards, Barney

  2. Getting in is a piece of cake.

  3. Have you been to the different floor levels of the building?

    • Hi Brandon
      Sorry, been away. No I haven’t been up there!
      Are they easily accessible?
      I’d like to get up there and into the office block.

  4. It’s all still easily accessible. Entry to the upper floors is through a window to the office area, to the left of the entry into the main area (as you look at the building from the outside). I went there yesterday to take some shots.

  5. Hi Barney,

    Bit of a regular at the power station. let me know if you’d like any advice on getting into the office block, its fairly easy to do, though i would keep your wits about you, and definately go with a partner, first time i was in there, a few transients had setup home and we walked directly into them upon entry through the offices, second time there were some guys doing a wall.

    Nothing to be scared of, but definately worth having a lookout. once you get to the upper levels, alot of the walkways and bridges tend to be a little iffy, some creak/crack as you walk them, others, such as the ladders to the upper outer balconies, unless you’re under 50Kg i’d pass up on, a lot of rust on them, and not worth the 20m+ drop!

    • Hi Barnaby
      I took a number of photographs in the big halls, haven’t been upstairs or in the offices yet as my memory card was full.
      If you’d like to visit the power station together for a photoshoot, let me know.
      I’m told that there are many areas which I haven’t been into.
      I really want to do a full photoshoot using new HDR techniques.
      Best regards, Barney

  6. This is a great place been a couple of time before but not got into the office part as I couldn’t find it. Certainly gets alot of interest. Hopefully heading there this weekend.

    Have taken some of my own shots here :

    • Thanks for the comments, cool site that you have, great photos!
      The power station is looking better all the time.
      I’m in Melbourne and love old derelict places, I happened on the South Fremantle Power Station purely by chance when driving by to Garden Island.

      As you may have seen, I like to make multi-frame mulit-exposure HDR panoramas. On that day my memory card ran out or else I would have taken more photos.

      Would you be keen to do a joint photoshoot? I have to make a trip to WA soon.
      It would be nice to expplore the offices and upper floors.

  7. A friend and I are actually going to try to explore today, the thrill should be fun…

    • Hi Michelle
      Hope you enjoyed it, send me some images please.
      I like to enter these derelict buildings before sunrise, you get a real thrill from the dark and spooky interior.
      Regards, Barney

  8. […] just something I love about this old power station. Check out here and here for some shots of the amazing interior (this graffitti at least should be protected) . So […]

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