Arthur Head, a great view to the port and an equally stunning view over the beautiful west end of Fremantle. The laughter of children when they wave at passing container trains and say goodbye to cruise liners. Toys, cats and fish, family life, all destined to the past and to make way for business where visual artists will be asked to become performers for tourists.
No more barbeques and family dinners on the veranda, no more Australia Day celebrations and Heritage Festival events, no more community meeting place, a dark ghost town will replace the residential lights at night, life sucked out of evening vibrancy. Where pilots and families once lived people will create art, a tiny cottage will receive the grand name of indigenous art centre because tokenism is a good way of pretending one cares.
An arts hub when all that was needed is a cafe and retail outlet at J Shed, but those who have not experienced family life up on the historic hill don’t understand how special a place this is, and that it is all three gorgeous kids have ever known. On could not wish for better neighbours so those at South Beach will be blessed when Natalie, Michael, Sunni, Remy and Bodhi move there in a few months time. It will be an enormous loss to Arthur Head to see this family leave. Nostalgia.
The future of Fremantle’s Arthur Head is in the balance and gives the City the opportunity to create something special in the historic part of town. Artists have to renegotiate leases while non art and culture related businesses, residents and community groups will have to vacate the Pilot’s Cottages. While the process could be seen as something negative I believe if the City gets it right we might well have an additional attraction for visitors and residents.
Two stakeholders groups are working on spending $ 150,000 each on Bathers Beach and Arthur Head. This won’t be enough to get all done that needs to be done, but it is a start. A workshop on the development of Arthur Head with placemaking expert David Engwicht will also be held on site soon.
The City expects a certain performance level from the artists and does not want to enter into leases but only agreements and that is o.k. as long as these agreements also stipulate the performance expected of the City of Fremantle. It can’t be a one way agreement where artists do what the City expects them to do, while the City does not do maintenance and improvement to the area. The fact is that Arthur Head has been neglected by the City for years and it is time to now start spending serious money on upgrading the buildings, paths, beach, surface in front of J Shed, etc. If the agreements include all that and all stakeholders work together with a positive attitude, the area will be thriving in the near future to the benefit of all.
Mount Lawley is planning to introduce a Demolition By Neglect legislation in its Local Planning Scheme no 3 Amendment 27. “The purpose of these provisions is to prevent heritage buildings falling into disrepair and subsequently necessitating demolition”
This is a lead the City of Fremantle and other local governments and the state government should follow, to prevent what has been happening all over Western Australia. The neglected Woolstores building in Fremantle and the Guildford Hotel in Guildford are two examples of how owners let heritage buildings rot and fall into disrepair.
I urge Fremantle councillors to introduce a similar legislation!
I received a letter from the Department of Defence about the future of the historic Married Quarters Cottages near the Fremantle old traffic bridge and Army Museum. Defence wrote they are finalising the sale of the cottages to Defence Housing Australia(DHA) and once the sale is finalised and approved by parliament “renovations in a standard suitable for ADF personnel whilst protecting their heritage values” will be undertaken. The work will start in 2014 and DHA expects occupation of the heritage cottages by 2015.
It is good that the Fremantle Society pressure and that of Fremantle Labor MP Melissa Parke will finally see action to protect, renovate and make use of the cottages, but the time line is still very slow. Does it really have to take all of 2013 to finalise a contract between two government department?
We are still waiting for action by the Western Australian Department of Housing to get some action going on the neglected Warders Cottages in Henderson Street. It is a disgrace that there appears to be no urgency to resolve this. They are an eyesore in the centre of the city next to the popular Fremantle Markets and are falling apart. Why does it take over a year to decide to hand them to the National Trust or the City of Fremantle when quick fix promises are made on about everything as pork barreling exercises before the election? The Colin Barnett coalition government obviously cares little for our heritage but has got plenty of money to waste on a sports stadium, Elizabeth Quay, developing beaches, etc.
I decided to take photos of the Fremantle Australia Day fireworks at Arthur Head with one of the heritage Pilot’s cottages in the foreground as it was the last Australia Day where people lived on Arthur Head. After April 6 this year there will be no residents at Captain’s Lane as they will have to move out of their homes to make way for artist’s studios.
When one witnessed the special community atmosphere last night, with barbeques blazing, children playing and adults mingling, one realised what a special place this is and what a loss it will be to the area when people no longer live up here. The cottages will be dark and empty at night and the place will be a ghost town that will invite anti social behaviour and vandalism. The police never bothers to come up on the hill so who is going to look after the historic cottages?
I have not heard one person yet, but councillors, who support the eviction of residents from Arthur Head. It is sad this is going to happen soon and I am sad I will have to leave this very special and homely place.
I love Fremantle‘s working port. I love the coming and going of the large vessels, and sitting on the veranda of the old Pilot’s Cottage at Arthur Head one gets a great view day and night of the shipping movement in the harbour. C.Y O’Connor is the ‘harbour master’, as he oversees all the activity in Fremantle Port from his high vantage point. C.Y is the one who designed our port, so a very important man in the history of Western Australia.
I took this photo at 7 am today when I walked out of the cottage to go and grab a coffee.
Next Tuesday is the first stakeholders community consultation at the City of Fremantle on how to spend a large sum of money on the improvement of Arthur Head. This is very important for the revitalisation of the area. Ideally we’ll see the extension of the well liked boardwalk all the way to J Shed to create better connectivity between the Maritime Museum and Fishing Boat Harbour. Good signage is a must, as is lighting and showers at the northern end of Bathers Beach. The dust bowl in front of Kidogo Arthouse has to disappear and make way for an attractive surface that will be used by visitors.
The creation of an arts hub continues to be controversial with J Shed artists only being offered a 3 year lease and no option instead of a commercial lease of 5+5 years. I can see both sides to this. While long-term artists Greg James, Jenny Dawson and Peter Zuvela consider J Shed their commercial home and ideally would like to have a life-long lease, the City of Fremantle needs to be prudent and not been seen as favouring some artists over others. This however should have been made clear to the artists last year when it all went through the Strategic Planning Committee and full council. Mayor Brad Pettitt then was in support of offering the J Shed artists commercial leases, so why has that changed to only 3 years and no option after that? Yes sure, they can apply and will be judged on performance, but what performance criteria is council considering? Are they talking about commercial/financial performance, or about community involvement, events, etc? How would one judge the performance of Glen Cowans photography gallery for example, and what if Jenny Dawson does not create an exhibition space but continues to do what she does best and create beautiful public art. Are their performances then not good enough and should they be replaced with circus animal like artists who will constantly have their studios open so people can look over their shoulders while they are working on commissions? Three years is not a commercial lease and if council wants a revolving door policy for the studios at Arthur Head it will only get semi-professionals and Sunday painters. Not the kind of top artists who will attract international visitors to the area.
Does anyone at council really understand the arts industry? Does anyone know that good professional artists run small businesses and are not performers to the public, that they need to concentrate on making great work, instead of having to deal with the public and have their work flow interrupted by tourists? Art practitioners are not tourism outlets and it is wrong to expect them to become that, so that their performance will be judged to be adequate to remain in their studios.
I have one more serious concern and that is of individual councillors getting involved in the commercial contracts between the artists and the City. I think it is highly inappropriate for councillor Tim Grey-Smith to email artists that if “the commercial lease aspect is a deal breaker then in the politest possible way, I suggest a different location for the business in question might be prudent.” I wonder what the Local Government Act says about this kind of interference with the process.
While I strongly support the revitalisation of the West End and Arthur Head, I have grave fears council is creating a train wreck, created by righteousness and ignorance of the arts industry.
Hi, I am Hunter the best rat hunter on Arthur Head where I live in an old Pilot’s Cottage at Captain’s Lane. We are two houses away from the historic Round House prison, the oldest public building in Western Australia, so that is very special. The Crookes family who look after me so well have lived up here for 18 years. Natalie and Michael and their gorgeous children Sunni, Remy and Bodhi are the best people in the world and I also like the interaction with the tourists who constantly photograph me because they think I am cute.
I am very sad the City of Fremantle have told us we need to leave our home by April 6 because they want to make the heritage cottages up here into artist’s studios. They forget that we are what they call intangible heritage, the people and pets who make a place special.
On Australia Day we will be having a bit of a party when we watch the fireworks and we’ll have a bit of a cry as well because we are so sad we’ll have to leave this very special place.
The Fremantle Workers Social & Leisure Club is celebrating it’s first anniversary since re-opening next weekend. The Club was founded in 1914 but was closed for 8 months in 2011 and almost wound up. The doors were reopened in January 2012 thanks to the hard work and vision of President Don Whittington and some amazing volunteers. To their surprise, the re-opening attracted 300 people on a Sunday afternoon and the Club ran out of food and chairs. Members and guests danced all afternoon to well-known band Fossil Rock. Since then the Club has been managed by a dedicated group of committee members and volunteers, but they will be employing a part-time manager soon.
Next Sunday January 20th the Workers’ Club will celebrate the 1st anniversary of the Club re-opening, with Fossil Rock playing music to dance to once again from 1.30-5pm. The Club will be open from 11am and lunch can be bought from the Billy Clare Club Cafe from 12 noon to 2pm. Guests are very welcome providing they are signed in when they arrive
The Club is also holding a members’ sundowner on Friday 18th January to thank their sponsors and supporters, including Fremantle Community Bank, the Fremantle Herald and the City of Fremantle, who helped them reach this milestone. Following the sundowner there will be dancing to One Smoking Gun from 7pm and guests are welcome to go along to dance or enjoy a meal at the Cafe.
There has not been much development in the West End of Fremantle lately, so it will be interesting to see how sensitive to heritage the Mediterranean Shipping Company will be. If the bush drums are correct MSC bought the gorgeous building on the corner of Cliff and Phillimore streets and intend to develop the car park next to it.
The Cliff Street historic streetscape is one that can’t be compromised, so any new development there needs to be done with extreme sensitivity to the heritage aspects of the area.