Would you let someone house sit if they left your home in a mess? Surely not, but that is what the National Trust have been doing with the Royal George Hotel in George Street, East Fremantle. The National Trust is a government-funded organisation that has been established to look after historic buildings, but it is an utter disgrace that they are neglecting the beautiful old heritage building they have now had in their care for years.
Vandals have yet again forced open doors at ground level to gain access, with the real possibility that one day someone will light a fire in there and the building will go up in smoke.
The National Trust is good at taking on new buildings and the CEO is keen boasting about it, but in reality they haven’t got the capacity or money to look after all the buildings which are supposed to be in their care, hence a building like the Royal George has been vacant for years, and apart from boarding up the windows nothing much else has been done to restore the building to its former glory and make use of it.
The George once housed artist’s studios and art gallery and a Thai restaurant, but it is now an eyesore in very attractive George Street. It is a disgrace the National Trust should be ashamed about!
It is interesting how we see things differently. While some of us are excited to see a large crane in Fremantle and the prospect of new buildings and progress, others are worried that the new buildings will take away from Fremantle’s character because of their modern blandness.
I sit on the fence on this because I’d love to see 20 cranes in Fremantle in the next six months and lots of new building going up that will herald the change that Freo needs, but I detest mediocrity and the boring design of many modern buildings, while I love great and exceptional architecture that will become heritage of the future.
Procrastination is not an option, but neither should we accept mediocrity under the guise of progress. The balance has to be right and we should aim for perfection, because only the best will do to retain Fremantle’s uniqueness.
Recent articles in the Fremantle Gazette and Fremantle Herald, about the City of Fremantle not demanding an archaeological dig of the Mediterranean Shipping Company development site at 13 Cliff Street, need to be examined.
The City has a policy for this, but according to the director of planning there is not enough historic information to warrant a dig, because there was only a shed in that location. However historian Dr Shane Burke of Notre Dame University believes there could be significant historic artifacts there relating to the first settlers.
How did the City’s heritage and planning departments and UNDA come to such opposing conclusions when they presumably have the same historic facts available to base their views on, and would it not have been more prudent to have an archaeological survey of the site anyway, just in case?
Another question is why UNDA did not approach MSA directly and ask the property owners if they could do a dig for a limited time, prior to commencement of development. It is likely MSA want to be a good new corporate citizen in Fremantle and might have given the okay.
That leads to the point to suggest that the few remaining non-developed sites in the West End should all be checked for historic remnants, and that should be one of the requirements of the planning act, and not, as is the case at the moment, a seemingly useless policy that can be ignored at random.
The Pakenham carpark site, just sold by the City, is such case, but also the long-vacant carpark site on the corner of Cliff and High streets, next to the former Tram building and owned by UNDA, should be a priority for archaeological inspection.
I am wondering though why Fremantle Council makes policies they often ignore. What is the use of lengthy deliberations and consultation and creating new policy, when councillors and officers can ignore those same policies at will because they are not binding. It appears a huge waste of time, like MOUs, which are also not worth the paper they are written on.
Councils try to reinvent the wheel time and time again with new policies and new master plans, while ignoring existing ones. Why create them when they can’t be enforced and get bypassed so often? That does not appear to be excellent governance to me.
It’s Friday, Fremantle, so let me inspire you and recommend you beat the winter chill and have a mulled wine this eve in one of Fremantle’s pubs. Don’t overdo it though and don’t drive if you have a few too many, because life is precious.
Have a great weekend!
This photo somehow shows the essence of Fremantle; the heritage A and B sheds with the modern-and future heritage-Maritime Museum, the Indian Ocean, Swan river, and a young lady on a bike. All that around sunset pretty much sums up Freo’s lifestyle.
The uniqueness of place, which makes it so attractive to visitors and locals alike should never be underestimated. The brand Fremantle is a very strong one that needs to be nurtured, and can still be improved. I strongly believe that Freo has a very promising future ahead if we all promote the brand, instead of talking our city down.
It is disappointing that the exciting development of the Mediterannean Shipping Company(MSC) site at 13 Cliff Street is now receiving criticism, because the City of Fremantle‘s Planning Department failed to make an archeological inspection of the carpark site a requirement of approving the new building. Notre Dame University would like to do an archeological search of the site, and approached the City last year, but without success. The Cliff Street area is where the very first settlers set up camp when they arrived here in 1829. A dig by UNDA at the old Fremantle Hotel, just opposite the development site, discovered items from the early 1830s.
I was informed two weeks ago by CoF Heritage Coordinator Alan Kelsall that he is writing a report on the site, so hopefully that will be released soon. As a matter of course though, and with a council policy on archeology already in place, one has to wonder why Council approved the development without demanding a heritage survey of the site. This could have been done straight after development approval, so that the building development would not be delayed. Fremantle’s heritage is one of our main assets, so it is bewildering that the existing archeology policy was not implemented.
I decided to give The Finishing Touch shop in Fremantle High Street a little hand with promoting their SALE, because I am not sure they got the message across with their minimalist attitude. (Only kidding).
There was a famous song in Germany in the 70s. It went something like “Genug ist nie genug, genug kann nie genuegen” I think the sign overkill on the windows shows that is also the philosophy of the Finishing Touch owners. Translation of the German text: Enough is not enough, enough can never be enough.
Good luck with the SALE, TFT . Check it out. They got art and mirrors, but also great historic photos of Freo!!
The Fremantle Round House is the oldest public building in Western Australia. It attracts more than 100,000 visitors a year to historic Arthur Head, and that is a significant contribution to our city. The tourist attraction would not be open if it wasn’t for the Fremantle Volunteer Heritage Guides who attend seven days a week from 10.30 am to 3.30 pm. They raise and lower the flags and fire the cannon each day at 1 pm. The only days the Round House is closed are Good Friday and Christmas Day.
Most Round House tour guides are retirees, but thankfully some younger people also enjoy having a chat with tourists and tell them about our city’s colourful history. They are people committed to opening the heritage building for overseas and interstate visitors and school groups, no matter how wet and cold, or hot it is.
The former goal opened in 1831, just two years after Captain Fremantle arrived here, and only had eight cells, of which there are four left. You can try out the stocks, or ring the curfew bell. Wander through the Whalers Tunnel to lovely Bathers Beach, and while up there, visit the art galleries and the Aboriginal Cultural Centre.
Firing the cannon is always done by a visitor, under the supervision of a guide with the permits to handle explosives, and the person who fires it receives a certificate.
The guides are always looking for more volunteers, especially those willing to have a great day chatting to tourists on weekends, so contact them if you enjoy people, history, and what always are very positive days, hearing how much visitors like Fremantle.
Fremantle’s West End is a great place to have coffee in some of the lovely cafes, do some shopping and support young designers, or just chill.
There are good things happening at Fremantle Arthur Head and the Bathers Beach Art Precinct. Kidogo Arthouse now has got nice large limestone pavers around the building and it looks so much better than the dirt. I wished the City of Fremantle had paved the entire dust bowl area there to make it look tidy and cared for.
The limestone cliffs below the Round House are being made safe, because the calcification of the cap/limestone rocks meant they were unstable and endangered people walking below them.
Even better news is that the entire cliff face at the beach side of Arthur Head will be lit up at night and the colours can be changed depending on demand and events. This will be a good continuation of the High Street coloured lights as an evening attraction to pull people to the West End. It will also enhance security to have the area lit up at night.
Bathers Beach is slowly becoming the attraction it should be, and it would be good if the City promoted the beach at the end of the beautiful heritage High Street as something special. Stencils on the footpaths, a good sign at Little High Street at the railway crossing there, and marketing Bathers Beach as a destination for visitors in tourism brochures, website, Facebook, etc. Pretty simple stuff really.
The City of Fremantle is looking for Aboriginal not for profit organisations or arts collectives to share space at the new Aboriginal Cultural Centre on Arthur Head. The maximum period for a license will be two years and collaboration with the centre and the Bathers Beach Art Precinct is required.
Rent will be negotiable, so if you have any queries contact Mike Pforr on 9432 9522, or send your Expression of Interest to the Community Development Directorate. PO Box 807. Fremantle 6959.
The Centre is in a former Pilot’s Cottage and just a few metres away from the historic Round House goal that attracts over 100,000 visitors each year.