While many people in Fremantle and around the nation will celebrate New Year by drinking too much and taking our wealth and freedom for granted, it is good to think about a minor Australian problem that has been beaten up by political parties. I am talking about refugees.
Two articles in today’s West Australian newspaper show how different views distort facts in many ways and hence politicians get away with making Australia’s refugees ‘problem’ a huge one when based on international figures we have no worry in the world.
On page 11 of the West the headline screams “Record year for boat arrivals” and tells us that 278 boats with a total of 17,206 passengers and 385 crew arrived on our coast. We also know that at least over 300 people drowned at sea while trying to get to Australia. These are substantial figures, but are we being swamped by boat people?
Further inside the newspaper the headline of Daniel Hatch’s article reads “Show more compassion to those in need of help” Hatch put some basic facts to us to show how relatively few refugees Australia takes compared to other countries. While we take less than one refugee per 1000 head of our population, Sweden took more than eight, Germany more than seven, Canada nearly five and Britain almost four. Those numbers show there is absolutely no reason to panic and that Tony Abbott’s cries to stop the boats is mere political grand standing.
When we live in a great and prosperous country like Australia it is hard to imagine one has to flee ones country, hard to imagine to pack up the family and get on a leaky boat trying to find a better place and a future for ones children. It is hard to imagine war when one has never experienced it and it is hard not to be cynical and simply want to believe those who want to come here just do so to rort our welfare system.
The end of the year is an appropriate time to consider our priorities and not take what we’ve got for granted. It is time to consider that sharing our wealth is the human way of dealing with the world’s refugee crisis. It is unfair to think it is a problem other countries should deal with, especially since our economy is doing better than most. It’s time to show compassion Australia. Let’s make that our New Year’s resolution! Cheers.
I do not understand the world sometimes and have no idea why local government is so inflexible and remote from reality. Here in Fremantle the hospitality industry is as challenged as other retailers, with very popular cafes and restaurants like Great Melie, Ruocco’s, Poisson D’Or and Aubergine closing while other operators told me they made a loss in December. Knowing this I was quite shocked to hear the story of CHALKYS the new cafe that will open in early January at number 1 High Street just under the Round House.
Three young, energetic and creative Victorians want to make this place finally work. It has been a failure for many years. They painted the inside of the building with stunning large murals, bought brand new furniture and have got big plans for the place with a pop-up garden to create an inviting alfresco area in High Street. However their request to put an awning above the door and window has been rejected because the facade of the former Fremantle Municipal Tramways building is heritage listed. It’s a beautiful facade indeed but attached to one of the most awful buildings in the West End, built in the early eighties.
So what is wrong with a retractable awning that would take nothing away from the heritage facade because the ground level is only modern huge glass anyway. Awnings create a sense of ambiance as we see in Melbourne and European cities, so why not give the young operators support and help make their business a success by saying yes to an awning, instead of forcing them to put market umbrellas out to create shade for their customers. Common sense and flexibility is all that is needed.
Another year is gone and with more life behind than ahead of me I want to reflect on what has been the incredible journey of a shy young man born behind the tobacconist shop of my parents in a working class suburb in Hague, Netherlands.
It was a big step at 19 to move to Nuremberg in South Germany, but I had been offered a job that would make my hobby into my profession and so I became a press photographer at the Abendzeitung. What a great move it turned out to be and what a fantastic career choice. I have never regretted it.
I helped out when the local DPA (German Press Agency) photographer was on assignments or holidays and my photos were wired all over the world and appeared in all major German magazine. How proud was I to get a double spread in Stern magazine. It only happened once but it was very special and I got good money for it.
I followed the Bundesliga soccer competition and drove many long hours most weekends to places like Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt to capture the games of FC Nuremberg.
I photographed horrendous accidents, fires, murders, violent demonstrations, floods, etc. and will never forget the eerie mood when a aeroplane full of flowers crashed into a forest. In the middle of the night only lit by the lights of the emergency crews was the wreck of the plane surrounded by thousands of beautiful flowers. It was an amazing sight.
Taking photos of dress rehearsals of live theatre were assignments I loved and it taught me to learn to appreciate opera as well. Even now so many years later when I hear Cosi Fan Tuti do I remember that I took photos of it in the early 70s.
Thirteen years in this great and mad profession was enough and so I migrated to Sydney in March 1982 to find out Australia was in a recession and no one needed a photographer. Even the promised job to stand in as a shooter at the Sydney Morning Herald, while their photographers were at the Brisbane Commonwealth Games, came to nothing as they needed to save money.
So I ended up working as a kitchenhand, cook, waiter, and market researcher before deciding that I loved photography too much and started freelancing for builders, designers and the Housing Commission of NSW.
In late 1984 another move came and we moved to Perth, bought our first little brand new villa in Como and started Profile Photography. What a ride it has been!
The first job in the West was at Blina north of Derby for Canadian company Home Oil, the State Energy Commission liked my portfolio and so I became their photographer for many years. I shot assignments for architects, designers, advertising and PR agencies, property developers, the mining industry, tourism, etc.
I had exhibitions in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Geraldton, Albany and Germany and sold my art photos to many companies.
I had the pleasure of shooting a series of posters for Shell on East Timor for a week, was the official photographer for Gordon Reid, the Governor of Western Australia and for the Legislative Assembly. I travelled for a week with Princess Ann of England as the official photographer and even had dinner at her table in the Kunnunura Hotel. Life was exciting with heaps of work, lots of money and a great lifestyle, so we moved to Swanbourne into a gorgeous Californian bungalow that we extended. The wine cellar was full with Cape Mentelle wines, a client who paid us with wine.
When I think back on all this and where I am now in Fremantle, a place I adore, I see a common thread and that is people. I absolutely love people, no matter how difficult, egotistic, quirky, and different they might be. From a shy young man I became a good communicator and outgoing person who cares about others and is willing to stand up and tries to make a difference. I have hardly ever had a bad experience in my life. I have never been hungry or homeless and I have never experienced war.
My life has been a bit like a dream really, meeting great people, seeing stunning places and doing what I love doing. Sooner or later it will all come to an end but I have little regrets and wished I could live on for another 60 years and meet more unique people.
At the end of 2012 it’s time to show appreciation for all the beautiful years I have had and thank life for having me. It’s been a mind blowing experience that everyone I met made special.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
After all the Fremantle bus stop art I have shown recently it is so good to see a home owner take pride in her own property and create a stunning work of public art. The mural is in Attflied Street on the corner of Wray Avenue and looks lovely.
Good to see more development proposals in the West End of Fremantle with an application for the development of a bar, restaurant, cafe at number 1 Pakenham Street near the corner of Phillimore Street. If all goes to plan that would be the third bar in Pakenham Street with Jarrahcorp on the corner of High Street also being transformed into a bar/cafe, and the bakery bar, put on hold for the time being, between High and Collie Street. They will all be welcome attractions for the West End of the CBD that is in dire need of revitalisation.
Just under the Round House at No 1 High Street 3 young Victorians are creating the arty espresso bar Chalkys, which will open in early January, and word is out that there is serious interest in creating a restaurant/cafe/bar in the most southern studio of J Shed on Bathers Beach.
Also on the cards is an Aboriginal Cultural Centre as part of the Arthur Head transformation into an art hub.
I want to wish everyone in Fremantle a very happy, relaxed and beautiful Christmas! It is very satisfying to live in a city with so many good, engaged, passionate, artistic, warm, and caring people. I love the constant calls to join good causes, as the sense of social justice is very high in our community. Freo is indeed a very special place, not just because it has stunning heritage buildings, but because it has some of the best people in the world. I love your smiles and your friendship. I even welcome your criticism as long as it is constructive and not nasty.
After 33 years of enjoying ice cold Christmas in Europe, I still need to get used to a hot Christmas here, even after 30 years in Australia. It’s just not the same without snow and ice, but I prefer it warm rather than cold.
I am not a big fan of over indulging at Christmas, but I love it for the reflective time it is. It is good to sit back and assess what one has done over the last 12 months and where we got things wrong. Even at my old age there is still a lot of room for improvement and I constantly work on becoming a better person, but what counts most is that I live in the city I love, in a community I adore, and that I am so glad I became a photographer and capture the beauty of life.
HAPPY CHRISTMAS. GELUKKIGE KERSTDAGEN. FROHE WEIHNACHTEN!
The massive wave of support I received since I resigned on Wednesday as president of The Fremantle Society has forced me to reconsider my position. It was a tsunami of goodwill that was heart warming.
More than 150 people made the effort to email, phone or text me to express they believe I did a good job as president in 2012. That was the kind of reassurance I needed to change my mind and now announce that I have decided to stay on as president of the Fremantle Society for another year.
It is my aim to refresh and rejuvenate the Society and set strategic positive goals for 2013. The committee will work hard to earn the respect of all stakeholders in our city, so they will take us serious and not ignore us as negative and irrelevant.
We will keep opposing inappropriate development in our city, but we will support progress and positive change. The Society will endeavour to be part of creating the solutions we need to make Fremantle an even better place.
The end of the world is not as bad as the Mayans thought, if I go by my experience. What a way to start the day to find a huge Christmas hamper at my door this morning. It was filled with a large ham, smoked salmon, breads, vegetables, cherries, cheese, sauce, etc. and to top this fantastic present off there also was a $ 100.00 gift card in it.
I have no idea who the generous Santa is, so this is my way of trying to reach him/her/them and tell them how extremely grateful I am for your generosity. You are special! Thank you so very much!!!!
Sculptor Toby Bell is trying to raise funds via crowd funding for his new 14 foot SCULPTURES BY THE SEA sculpture and has just started his kickstarter campaign. If you can spare a few dollars to help make Toby’s dream become a reality that would be great. Hopefully we’ll see it at Cottesloe beach mid next year.
Pass it on through your networks please