On the weekend, a friend remarked that Wray Avenue was the only avenue in Fremantle.
I had never thought about it before, but it’s true.
While there are a few in Whitegum Valley (Minilya, Yalgoo, Wongan etc.) and a couple in Beaconsfield (Fifth and Central), in the locality of Fremantle, Wray Avenue is the only road to be classified an avenue.
For me, an avenue conjures up images of a tree lined, main street. While this seems to be a common connotation, it’s origins apparently come from the French verb venir, meaning “to come”. This fits in with the typical role of an avenue road regularly used as a throughway.
While Wray Avenue certainly has trees along it now, tending to be (proudly) native in origin, this hasn’t always been the case.
Back in the 70s, the verge was set back much further and much of the current land used for landscaping was for parking cars.
Here are links to some photos from that time of houses on the corner of Wray Avenue and Brennan Street, further up at the now vacant shopfront that used to be the St Vincent de Paul’s store, and houses on the corner of Wray Avenue and Attfield Street.
I know a few people who have suggested widening Wray Avenue, either to allow better flow of traffic, add bike lanes or accommodate tramlines. I also worry that a conversion to underground power will mean trees have to be felled. Any return to the considerably balder verges of the past would be awful and likely be met with steely resistance.
Many of my neighbours are fiercely proud of the revegetation of Wray Avenue with native trees and the cringe at the idea. I’d actually like to see even more.
There’s so few trees on the streets of south-central Fremantle that they’re an important feature that should be recognised and retained.
Even the olive trees planted by the previous owner of the house next door (number 38) were much hated by my neighbours. One of them – the one in front of my house – was mysteriously chopped down a few years ago. I’m actually rather glad.