Mosmans' Colourful History
In 1904 George Markham was granted permission by the then Buckland Hill Road Board to build a jetty and boat house on the understanding the public were allowed to walk the jetty 24 hours a day.
For sure, without lighting, this made for some interesting midnight walks!
Back then there was no foreshore road access so customers came just by boat to picnic on the foreshore. As Mosman Bay grew in popularity as a place to visit, the buildings were expanded and the site passed through a succession of owners before Kevin and Roy Smith took over and operated as Smith's Boatshed until the 1970s.
The site fell into disrepair and was acquired by businessman Dallas Dempster, a central character of the 'WA Inc' era and famous for many developments around WA including the first licensed casino, Burswood.
Dallas, who was always one to think big, embarked on various development proposals over about ten years, most of which were not well received by local residents who feared an overbearing commercial use of the site.
Assisted by the old buildings burning down in March 1986, permission was granted for the current building by the WA authorities, that at that time controlled planning decisions on the Swan River, under the signature of the then Minister of Transport Julian Grill who was a key individual in the Brian Burke Government of the day.
The local Council and residents were dismayed that this decision had been made without their involvement and - with a 2,000 signature petition from residents in front of them - they consulted with their lawyers and in October 1986 passed a motion to deny land access to the site.
Dallas was not one to give in easily and he engaged the services of Multiplex founder John Roberts. Using an upturned swimming pool as a barge they brought all the building materials down the Swan River from the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club and constructed the building backwards - from the river to the shore!
The aptly named Mosman Bay Tearooms opened for business in September 1987 and a year later was operating in a tranquil atmosphere with virtually no opposition from residents.
With many of the 'WA inc' characters - Alan Bond, Laurie Connell, Denis Marshall to name but a few - as customers and users of the boat jetty, the place grew in popularity.
As this rapid era of expansion drew to a close and the fortunes of the key characters went into reverse, Warren Mead was brought in by Dallas Dempster to bring a more commercial angle to the restaurant site.
The site became known as 'Meads' and was considered ahead of its time in bringing fine dining to Perth. The restaurant went through a golden period and became renowned for fresh fish and oysters as a fantastic complement to the outstanding river location and stunning views.
For many different and interesting reasons - which have been the subject of many column inches in the local press - Warren Mead and his various companies fell into receivership in mid-2008. After a short period being operated by the receivers, the building and site were purchased by a locally-based family who over a ten month period completely refurbished the building and opened for business, in September 2009, under the new name of Mosmans - ready to embark on a fresh era of relaxed and unique dining on the river.
The restaurant has gone on to win many awards and accolades and was recently crowned Restaurant of the Year by the Restaurant & Catering Association.