Once full of brothels, Perth’s port city is down to just one: the Ada Rose
Over the course of its coloured history, Fremantle has been a melting pot of immigrants, sailors, wharfies, hippies, yuppies, and, naturally, sex workers. At one point Fremantle was littered with brothels, the colonial terraces of High Street servicing everyone from naval officers to a young DH Lawrence. South Fremantle once had a red light district running from the end of South Terrace all the way down to the long gone pier. But not these days.
These days the Ada Rose is Fremantle’s last brothel. For me, as a lifelong Freo boy, the Ada has been the only constant—besides the Pickled Fairy, the shop that sells fairy statuettes. In this way the brothel is the last link to a pre-America’s Cup Fremantle that I knew of from the collective memories of my family’s exaggerated mythopia. It’s the final link between the Fremantle of wool exports of yesteryear and today’s Fremantle of craft beers. And with this link comes questions: namely, why has the Ada Rose survived? And what happened to all the other brothels?