Fremantle Festival: Come to the Fire

Published on October 24, 2018
Categories - Blog, Events, Homepage, Q&A, Read About

This year Fremantle Festival is a series of free events bringing people together in a celebration of community. Immerse yourself in the pageantry of the Blessing of the Fleet, discover the beauty of Australian Indigenous culture at Wardarnji, bring the family down to a blaze on the beach at Kraken and enjoy the sunset fires of Karla-k Koorling. Kira caught up with the new Manager of Culture and Arts at the City of Fremantle, Destry Puia, to find out more about this annual event, now in its 113th year!

Hi Destry, what are you most looking forward to at the Festival this year?

The start of Karla-k Koorling, Come to the Fire includes a chant about the significance of fire, I think it’ll be quite magical to hear as the sun sets. There will be over 20 fires across the Karla-k Koorling site with each fire playing host to diverse performances. I’ve had a sneak peek at some of the artists and I think the audience will have a lot of fun discovering who’s at each fire.

How was the concept for Karla-k Koorling conceived and developed?

Reflecting on the strengths of Fremantle led to the creation of this project. The event was inspired by the desire to bring people together in the elements, to create a space where celebration and conversation could take place. The location on the edge of the Indian Ocean in a busy working port is unique and informs Fremantle’s identity. The fires are to represent the change of the festival going forward and will feature prominently in our new winter festival next year.

What’s the best way to experience the Festival?

Spend time in our beautiful city – soak up the atmosphere and enjoy quality performances for free.

It’s incredible to think that the Festival has been running for 113 years (!). How has it changed over time?

A newspaper article from 1938 shows Fremantle Festival was held at South Beach and included canoe races, roller cycling championships, skipping and a freckles competition! Good festival programming evolves with time and reflects the people and sense of place in a moment in time. We’re just temporary guardians of Fremantle Festival and we’re careful to ensure it represents the diverse community that it celebrates. We have exciting plans for the future and can’t wait to see Fremantle Festival continue to evolve.

Fremantle has long been known for its sense of belonging and community. What is your favourite thing about Fremantle?
The people, the high-value placed on arts and culture and, after being in Melbourne, I really appreciate the sunset over the ocean in the west.

We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask you: where is your favourite local coffee spot in Freo?

As a relative newcomer to Fremantle, I’ve been seriously enjoying trying out a different coffee spot each day. The garden at Fremantle Arts Centre is particularly good in this spring weather (and you can check out the current exhibition while you’re there).


This year’s Fremantle Festival will be held over three days (26 October, 28 October & 3 November).

A highlight will be ‘Karla-k Koorling, Come to the Fire’, which will see the people of Fremantle gather around many fires at the Fremantle Port. At each fire, intimate performances will be hosted including song, spoken word, puppetry and dance.

The three-day festival format is a taste of what’s to come, with the Fremantle Festival set to move to the depths of winter in 2019, with a ten-day immersive experience of wild art and hidden treasures. Stay tuned for the full program, set to be announced in April next year.

Images courtesy City of Fremantle, with photos by Rachael Barrett.

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