Historic Fremantle Roundhouse, the oldest public building in Western Australia, is extremely popular with visitors from all over the world this week.
By 1.30 pm today, so after only three hours of being open, we already had over 900 visitors through the door. Yesterday they had well over 900 visitors and the day before just under 1,000 visitors.
Over 100 people watched the firing of the cannon today.
It is an amazing effort by the mainly elderly volunteer tour guides to keep the Roundhouse open every day of the year but for Christmas day and Good Friday.
Next year the Roundhouse will be part of the Fringe Festival with performances in the old gaol, so stay tuned.
The volunteer tour guides operate on donations from guests only so if there are corporate sponsors out there which would like to donate, don’t be shy and contact the Fremantle Volunteer Heritage Guides!
I went for a walk around Fremantle this afternoon only armed with a 300mm lens, just to keep my eye in. One can often become a bit lazy with all those zoom lenses around, so to force oneself to have a good look just with the one focal length lens is a good idea.
Here some of the photos I took. Click on the photos to enlarge them.
2016 has been a big year for Fremantle, so I want to reflect on the good, the bad, and the ugly.
A few things stand out for me and the first one is the national exposure of the Australia Day changes the City of Fremantle made. I believe it is positive that there is now a national debate if January 26 is the appropriate date to celebrate Australia.
The most positive change in Fremantle is seeing so many substantial building sites in the CBD after our city had been in the development desert for decades. The news that state government departments will be moving into Kings Square is huge for Fremantle and so are the Liv, Heirloom, Hilton Doubletree, Quest, Spotlight and other major developments. However, the most disappointing aspect of all the Fremantle development is the mediocrity of most buildings. It’s a shame that planning laws are not stronger and more specific in that regard.
A great win for the community was the rejection by the WA Planning Commission and the State Administrative Tribunal of the proposed tavern at J Shed, but Sunset Events still has a 25-year-lease so we’ll need to wait till July to see if they will take that up and what they will be proposing this time.
Not so positive is the attempt to make historic Arthur Head into the Bathers Beach Arts Precinct. The eviction of residents at Captain’s Lane has resulted in the verandas and backyards of the cottages being used by homeless people at night and most of he new artists studios have done little to activate the area, and neither has the Walyalup Aboriginal Centre which has been a costly failure.
Absolutely fantastic to see the historic Warders and Gunners cottages restored and people living in them again. It has been a long battle by Fremantle City and the community to stop the neglect and we finally got outstanding results.
Also great that historically significant Cantonment Hill will be developed into an attraction for locals and visitors and the old Signal Station being used again by Fremantle Sea Rescue.
Disappointing is the corporate greed of the Fremantle Dockers football club who are demanding a large million-dollar payout from the City of Fremantle to relinquish their long-term lease on Fremantle Oval.
Community negativity has been a disappointing feature of the year and social media is frequently showing the nasty face of keyboard heroes, who often are uninformed and make comments and judgements based on ignorance. I like a good debate and engaging with people who have different opinions, but the nastiness and name-calling is distasteful, unnecessary and inappropriate.
Good community consultation and information is still lacking and makes the interaction between Council and the community often negative. There is too much inconsistency and tokenism. Community engagement happens too late in the process where it inevitably becomes reactive and negative. That needs to improve!
There is no doubt that there is a lot of room for improvement, especially at the basic levels of city maintenance and cleaning, and WA Police need to do a whole lot better addressing the anti-social and crime issues in Fremantle.
The City of Fremantle also needs to start getting serious about the ageing population in Australia and our city and needs to find a better balance between youth interest and that of older people in town.
City expenditure is at a dangerous level and that has to become the number one priority in 2017 for Fremantle Council. There needs to be a more realistic financial approach to what the city can afford because it is following dangerously into the footsteps of the State Government of over-spending.
Fremantle needs to have a debate on what good development for our city is and how we can stop the glut of ugliness we are getting in the the city. The fact that Fremantle Council gets overruled by Joint Development Assessment Panels and State Administrative Tribunal is a worry as we need to retain the unique character of Freo because that is why tourists come here.
Tourism needs to be more appreciated and looked after with more than 60 cruiseliners visiting Freo this summer. The visitors’ numbers at the Roundhouse are significantly up this year, so we need to have more attractions to keep the tourists in town longer. I would like to see a real physical interpretation of the former Whaling Station at Bathers Beach and also a migrant museum.
A mere $ 10,000 for power into the Roundhouse so that a $ 200,000 new display project can be undertaken should be supported by Fremantle City. It’s the sum of money the City has given for a solar parklet in Wray Avenue that will not attract even 1% of the 135,000 visitors the Roundhouse gets.
The selection of candidates for the federal election was a bit of a farce with Liberal candidate Sherry Sufi pulling out, to be replaced by equally unknown Pierrette Kelly, while Labor engaged in the unnecessary and unfair humiliation of Chris Brown who was replaced by former Freo Deputy Mayor, and my preferred candidate, Josh Wilson. Josh is our new MP in Canberra.
A possible swap at McGabe Street in North Fremantle where parts would go to Mosman Park is interesting in the context of the failed local government reform. It looks to me like piecemeal governance.
The sale of Fremantle Port and the building of the Perth Freight Link will not eventuate should the Labor party form government after the March 2017 election, so it is disappointing that the Barnett government is fast tracking the Roe 8 Highway extension and the destruction of the wetlands instead of waiting for the election outcome.
Heritage protection remains critical and needs to remain a priority for Fremantle Council. It is not necessary to compromise heritage to appease developers. There are many other locations outside the West End that are better suited for higher density and building height. Community vigilance is essential to keep inappropriate development out of the inner city.
I love living in Fremantle and I love engaging with the community. It disappoints me that there is so much negativity in this great city and that so few people participate in the democratic local government process, and I hope that will change in 2017.
We all can make a positive difference to our city and be part of the solution when we respectfully engage with the Elected Members and CoF staff, and they with the community. That is my wish for the New Year. Have a very happy one!
We humans are a funny lot and I had to laugh out loud when I noticed all these cars parked along the Cappuccino Strip on Christmas Day.
It was not as if there was a shortage of parking bays in Fremantle as there was hardly anyone in town, but it must have been on the bucket list of some of those who went to Sandrino and Pizza Bella Roma for lunch to finally park on the strip.
While I respect everyone to believe in whatever god they want to believe in I always find it disappointing on Christmas Day that most cafes and restaurants close, because there are many people, myself included, who are not Christian and who just want to have a nice coffee and breakfast.
So my research this morning found that on the Cappuccino Strip only Ali Baba is open, and just below in the Piazza Exquise is also open.
No cafes open in South Fremantle, but Lenny the Ox in Wray Avenue is open and in East Freo the Seven Seeds on Marmion Street as well.
Did you know that the lady at Exquise makes all the pastries in house herself and I hear the food at Ali Baba is very good, great fish&chips as well I was told!
Have a great Christmas Day and relax because tomorrow the hectic of shopping and sales already starts again.
While there is public and political outrage about the proposed privatisation of Fremantle Port and Western Power the privatisation of Fremantle’s historic Bathers Beach is well under way.
The Bathers Beach House became the first hospitality venue in Australia that is allowed to sell alcohol on the beach, but today they simply extended the beach chair bar with tables and umbrellas for alfresco dining on the sand. That is not on!
How many events and functions will this hospitality operator now hold on our public beach and will they simply extend the alfresco area onto the beach during busy periods. Who then could stop Kidogo Arthouse/Kelp Bar from doing the same?
Who at the City of Fremantle signed the permission for BBH to set up tables on the beach? What are they charged for using OUR beach?
The Fremantle Inner City Residents Association-FICRA has joined the Fremantle Society in their criticism of City Ward Councillor Simon Naber.
The Society last month asked Naber to stand down, which he refused to do, and now FICRA in a letter in the Fremantle Herald says that “His attendance record is patchy and his record of effective advocacy totally non-existent.
As a mate of Simon Naber I too am disappointed with his performance at council where he rarely speaks at public meetings and if he does his opinions are shallow and appear not well-informed. For that reason I asked him last year if he would resign before the October election so I could stand for City Ward where sitting member Rachel Pemberton’s seat was contested, but he decided against doing that.
It is quite clear that Simon Naber, who is a really nice man and operates the very popular Moore&Moore cafe, is not passionate about and involved enough in Council business. At the two Notre Dame University community meetings about the proposed new building in High Street Naber was a noticeable absentee, although this is a huge issue for the inner city and the heritage preservation of the West End.
As a friend I suggest Simon should have a real hard look at himself and seriously question whether he is representing the inner city residents and businesses well enough, because most people in City Ward are very disappointment with his lack of commitment, some to the point where they have told me they also boycott Naber’s cafe.
Local government relies on passionate and well-informed community members to step up. If one does not have the time or passion to do that one is not the right person to be a Councillor.
Christmas is a time of reflection and hope and with so much madness going on in the world we need to remain hopeful that we will be able to turn the destruction of the earth and oceans around and that there will be a good future for the next generations.
Humans do have the ability to stand up in adversity and make necessary changes. We have survived natural disasters and wars all over the planet many times and we can do it again if sanity prevails and if our political leaders become true leaders instead of being power hungry egos only interested in winning the next election.
It is shocking to see the destruction of Aleppo and other places of war and the plight of all these innocent people. It violates my heart to see the idiocy of terrorism and attacks on families because some fanatical criminals believe the god they believe in is better than the gods of other people.
But I remain confident about the future because my own experience with people of all different cultures and religions all over the world has shown that the vast majority of people are good and caring people who are willing to embrace and support fellow humans in need.
We cannot give up hope during the tsunami of madness that is happening and that has made 2016 such a challenging year. We cannot blame all Muslims for the actions of a small group of sadistic criminals, as we do not blame all Catholics for those priests who have abused children. Hatred will not solve anything and neither does blaming all for the crimes of some.
We need to learn the lessons of the past and become more responsible in looking after our planet because the environmental destruction is relentless above and below ground. We are suffocating our oceans while destroying our forests, because we want more and more and more, and that is not sustainable.
Innovation technology will help us to become smarter but our relentless consumerism needs to be curtailed because the environment is suffering because of it.
We need more tolerance and less judgment in our world and more acceptance of diversity. Culture, religion and the colour of someone’s skin are not reasons to reject people and we need to assess every individual on its own merits. There are bad apples in every family, in every country, in every race, religion and culture, but we must keep in mind that most people are good and caring.
I love life because I love people. I love the irreverence, the intelligence, the quirkiness and the true warmth of people and I love it that we are all so different but also so much the same. A big black fella in Fitzroy Crossing summed it all up perfectly for me one night when he looked at me and said “Isn’t it amazing brother that we both have red blood and brown shit.”
Have a very Happy Christmas. Smile at and say G’day to a stranger. Believe in yourself and all of us that we can and will create a better future for all where the poor are less poor and the rich a bit less rich. True equality will only happen if we look after each other better.