Freo's View



In his desperation to get media exposure Fremantle Society President John Dowson has accused Curtin University Professor Peter Newman of defaming the society. This is about  a statement Newman gave the Sunday Times about community opposition to the Esplanade Youth Plaza skate park. This was done in context to the opposition in Cottesloe to the proposed skate park there.

Let me assure Peter Newman that as president of FS at the time of the EYP debate that I don’t feel defamed by him at all and neither will any of the committee members who were there at the time.

Dowson claims the action against the Fremantle skate park was done by FICRA and the Fremantle Society had no involvement, but that is once again Dowson re-writing history. Many people were not happy with putting the skate park on the grass of the Esplanade and suggested it should be an extension to the reserve on the Italian Club car park. I argued strongly for that in community meetings, addressed Council, had letters published in the newspapers and gave radio interviews. I even suggested that if the Italian Club car park was not good maybe the car park north of the reserve in front of the Shipwrecks Museum might be a suitable location for the skate park.

Dowson writes in his President’s Notes:

“Secondly, the campaign was run by FICRA (Fremantle Inner City Residents’ Association), not the Fremantle Society, who at the time were busy under President Roel Loopers focussed on QR codes and sending dirty socks to one of their members Premier Colin Barnett about the Warders Cottages (the Premier’s office received one pair of socks and didn’t respond, but did respond to the report presented by FICRA on the significance of the cottages, by visiting the Warders Cottages and allocating millions of dollars to have them fixed up).”

The Fremantle Society under my presidency had a big campaign at the Warders Cottages where one early and cold Saturday morning we knotted socks to the fences spelling out the word SHAME three times in large letters. That was reported on TV, in the print media and on radio. These were members of FS and FICRA and the wider community.

I have to apologise though to Mr Dowson for the trauma I caused him with the outrageous QR code project. It would have given the current anti-change, anti-development and anti-progress president sleepless nights of horror and agony that the Fremantle Society was embracing modernisation, innovation and new technologies with its Freopedia project, that would have created a virtual historic tour of Fremantle, where people could zoom in with their mobile phones on QR codes attached to buildings and significant sites and read the history about them via Wikipedia. After a promising start FS unfortunately did not proceed with it.

No matter how often John Dowson criticises my presidency and vice presidency of the Fremantle Society, I am happy with my achievements. FS under my leadership was inclusive, we had respectful dialogue with Fremantle Council instead of treating the democratically elected members as the enemies of the community. We collaborated with anyone who wanted to talk with us. I initiated the first contact with Notre Dame University and had a fantastic relationship for almost a decade with previous NDA Vice Chancellor Celia Hammond and many of the senior staff. I am proud of all my efforts to make a positive difference to the city I love.

John Dowson has a very special ability that no doubt would make him a class act in any circus. I have never met anyone anywhere in the world who can talk out of his arsehole while having his head stuck deep up it. ;>))

Roel Loopers


Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle society, local government, politics, Uncategorized by freoview on July 4, 2020


Fremantle Society president John Dowson is desperate to get some traction for the group that sadly has become irrelevant due to Dowson’s narrow-minded negativity and anti progress stands.

Last week Mister President proudly announced in the Fremantle Herald that the Society had started an art collection. Oops, the Pres had bought one single painting from a high school student, for about half the price it could have received, and he also commissioned the girl to do another painting of the old traffic bridge. Did the FS committee have a vote on starting the so-called art collection? I doubt it.

Now Dowson attacks me and several Fremantle Councillors about a tongue-in-cheek remark I made 3-4 weeks ago on Facebook about the reopening of the Ada Rose brothel, where I questioned how they could adhere to the Covid-19 social distancing rules.

Here some ‘highlights’ of the President’s latest email to Fremantle Society members.

The potty mouthed comments from some councillors, and hangers on like blogger Roel Loopers, need to be called out.

When council acolyte Roel Loopers discussed his penis on Facebook recently, several councillors joined in, with Councillor Sullivan making a comment that drew the Labour member for Beaconsfield Cr Fitzhardinge into making a comment, joking about a “double entendre.”

Arrogance and a dismissive attitude are too often heard.

You are right indeed, John Dowson, that arrogance and dismissive attitude are too often heard in Fremantle-from YOU! You treat our elected members with absolute disdain and disrespect. You engage in name-calling whenever someone like me has a different opinion from yours.

You don’t like the fact that I am trying to be fair and balanced on this blog and that I criticise Councillors when I believe they deserve it, and show my appreciation when I believe they have made the right calls. I also like to stick to the facts instead of distorting them.

Unlike you, John Dowson, I do not believe that replacing the Labor and Greens Councillors in Fremantle with Liberal party members will necessarily make for a better council, because I believe in balance and would love to see party politics removed from local government all together.

I am not an acolyte of Fremantle Council, but unashamedly a very big supporter of Fremantle, and I’ll do anything to try to make this gorgeous city and ever better place to live in, do business in, work in and visit. That includes embracing modern development in Fremantle, instead of wanting to stop change and progress at all cost, as John Dowson does.

I respect Fremantle’s Elected Members, because they have been democratically elected. They are not my mates. I do not socialise with them. I am not a member of a political party either. What about JD’s membership of the Liberal party and the friendship with former Premier Colin Barnett he liked to mention often? Which one of us is actually the acolyte, JD?

Roel Loopers



Fremantle Society president John Dowson has sent emails to the members that argue for the scrapping of the popular CAT bus in Fremantle. Dowson says the $ 800,000 a year for the bus service should go to the repairs of Arthur’s Head.

I am all for redirecting as much money as the City can afford to finally get the stabilisation work at historic Arthur’s Head done, but not at the cost of stopping the CAT bus service.

John Dowson writes that it is only an idea and not the position of the Fremantle Society committee, and that new South Fremantle Councillor Marija Vujcic is willing to put a motion to Council about it.

Dowson claims that Deputy Mayor Andrew Sullivan is also keen to scrap the CAT bus, but when I bumped into that South Fremantle Councillor, with appropriate social distancing, he said that was not the case.

The CAT bus is popular with local Freo people and tourists and a great way of connecting the CBD with South Fremantle, and for people to get to the Arts and Leisure centres.

I am all for keeping the CAT, but the financial situation of the City is precarious, so time will tell what savings need to be made, now that one of the major lines of income, parking fees and fines, has dried up because of the Covid-19 crisis.

Roel Loopers


It is really disappointing to read Fremantle Society president John Dowson’s rants that he emails to the members.

JD writes about the FPOL committee meeting and a question from the public “How, when and where were the Fremantle rate payers involved or included in the planning of a tavern design concept to be located in the cultural and civic centre?” the answer came back: “The City undertook a Kings Square Urban design strategy in 2012/2013 which was developed through community consultation.”

That is correct. I was at several community meetings, including a so-called Citizenship Jury about the Kings Square plans, as the then president of the Fremantle Society.

JD also attacks Council’s suggestion to rename Kings Square and change it to an Aboriginal name: When the suggestion comes to council this Wednesday to rename King’s Square after Midgegooroo, a cold blooded murderer whose execution was even cheered by some Aboriginal onlookers, council may reluctantly give the community a few weeks, but only to give their suggestions for a name change.

History tends to write its own reality, and I remember well that John Dowson some years back defended the reputation of Captain Fremantle in a letter to the Fremantle Herald, when claims were made Fremantle had been a rapist. JD said the case never went to court and Fremantle was never convicted of rape, so let the same fairness apply to Midgegooroo, who was accused of being a murderer, but he was never convicted of that alleged crime in a court of law either, so the Noongar elder was unlawfully murdered by white settlers.

John Dowson is clearly of the belief that if one repeats claims often enough they become reality: The ideological whitewash of traditions and heritage in Fremantle is scarily becoming more and more evident as the rebranding and neglect of heritage gathers pace. When the Fremantle Society was told several years ago that a Fremantle Council consultant had indicated the superb Moreton Bay fig trees in King’s Square had to go as they affected the sight lines to the new administration building, the speaker was not believed. The trees are now gone.

Fact is that the Moreton Bay fig trees at Kings Square were very sick and arborists from the eastern states and WA advised Fremantle Council that the trees were becoming a danger to the community, as big heavy branches had fallen down, so the removal of the trees had nothing to do with sight lines. Every effort was made to try to save them with soil injections, etc, but unfortunately that was not successful and hence they were removed. It was about community safety.

I hear that even some committee members of the Fremantle Society are not happy with the president, so the real danger is that the very important contribution the society has made to Fremantle over decades is now being eroded by a man whose main interest appears to be political council bashing. What a shame, because we need community groups such as the Fremantle Society to scrutinise what is going on in our city, but that has to be done with facts, fairness and balance, not polemic.

Roel Loopers




I hear the Fremantle Society has set up a sub-committee that will concentrate on lobbying and trying to get funding for the urgent repairs of Arthur’s Head, so good on them!

What Fremantle Council has been doing about it is pathetic and absolutely inadequate. The area is vested in the City, but they wash their hands off one of our state’s most significant historic and tourists areas and just wait to see if the state government, or anyone else, will cough up the $ 2 million needed. That is not good enough!

I have been told the action by the Fremantle Society will be bipartisan and trying to get as many people on board as possible, so I will be happy to promote anything the group will be doing in that regard.

I have a suspicion that the WA Labor government is not going to do anything about it until the next state election, but that is too far away.

Arthur’s Head has been looking awful for two years now with all the ugly fencing around it. The look at the Whalers Tunnel and the cliff face from Bathers Beach is a total eyesore, but it has been put in the too hard basket by Fremantle’s elected members. I find that extremely disappointing.

So go for it, Freo Society! Lobby politicians from all parties at state and federal level, look for grants, try to get financial support from the resources industries, etc. because Fremantle deserves better than having to accept a major problem that is not being addressed with the urgency it demands.

Roel Loopers




Fremantle Society president John Dowson is losing all his credibility when he sends these kind of nonsense messages and photos to FS members:

JD perspective

Australia Day Gone – Now Fremantle

Australia Day was cancelled without consultation.

Now, without consultation, the name Fremantle has been supplanted by Wanju Nidja Walyalup Whadjuk Boodja.

The sign above blocking the view of one of Australia’s most important heritage streets, High Street Fremantle, mentions Fremantle as an afterthought.

Mayor Brad Pettitt has been paid over $1 million already to be mayor of Fremantle, not another name that has not been discussed with the community.


Let us look at a more objective perspective, because the reality is that any face-level sign will block the view when one is very close to it, so below the photo I took of the same sign this Christmas morning.

A more objective perspective than John Dowson’s photo.


It is also remarkable that John Dowson must have discovered the Fremantle way-finding signs just now at the end of December 2019 when they were installed in June 2016, so three and a half years ago.

Dowson appears to have an issue with the Noongar message on the signs, and that is astounding for someone who has made his reputation on the protection of heritage. Would Dowson want the City of Fremantle to simply ignore the 40,000+ years of Whadjuk Noongar heritage and pretend it all just started in 1829 when European settlement started?

Roel Loopers




Predictably the Fremantle Society has lodged a submission with the City of Fremantle against the planning approval for a mixed use development of the Woolstores shopping centre site, as the FS  president shared with his members.

John Dowson argues that there is no need to rush the development of the site and that the City should take possession of the six shops near the corner of Elder Place and Queen Street, which was investigated by Fremantle Council last year, but no action taken.

The Society has many arguments against the development, and I too have heard some architects say the plans were disappointing, while others find it acceptable. I believe the development would be a huge improvement to the bland and boring building that is currently there, so that would be a big step forward to modernising that run-down part of Fremantle’s CBD, and for me that is a priority for our city.

Of course the plans could be different and better, and if we asked 25 architects we would get 25 different plans, and everyone of them would receive criticism from the public and other architects. That is the simple reality of life and anything creative. Someone else will always have another, maybe better, idea on how to improve our city.

For example, as a layman, I would have liked to see the corner of the building at Cantonment Street be rounded, to compliment the other corner and also the roundabout there, and there are no doubt many other ideas on how the plans could be improved, but too many cooks…..

I am more interested in the big picture and see the development in context with what is happening at Kings Square, the Little Lane residential development over the road, the proposed Hilton Doubletree hotel development, the Energy Museum development, a possible new use for the Adelaide Plaza next to the Basilica, and maybe a new hotel on the former Spicers site at William Street.

All these developments, once realised, will make that part of Fremantle much safer, and far more attractive and it will start creating the 24/7 economy and lifestyle that Fremantle needs, if our retailers and hospitality providers are going to survive.

We all want perfection and outstanding architecture, but that will not happen overnight. We need to accept that progress is slow and not always perfect, but the plans for the Woolstores are a big improvement for this significant site, and I hope they will be approved, and that Silverleaf Investments will commence with the construction very fast.

Roel Loopers


Posted in city of fremantle, democracy, election, fremantle society, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on September 12, 2019


The biggest surprise at this year’s Fremantle local council election is no doubt that Fremantle Society president John Dowson has nominated for City Ward and will do battle with incumbent Rachel Pemberton.

Dowson spent four years on Fremantle Council previously, so he knows the ropes of local government.

In a city that is going through a bit of a development boom Dowson’s negativity about most new buildings might not sit well with those in the community who believe change is good and necessary for Fremantle, but I have no doubt that the more conservative voters will see Dowson as a good alternative to the Green-leaning Pemberton.

Roel Loopers


Posted in april fools, city of fremantle, fremantle society, Uncategorized by freoview on April 1, 2019




I missed the Blessing of the Fools today to celebrate April Fools Day, so I publish a golden oldie I took a few years ago at Fremantle’s St John’s church.

I  also have to make a confession that my blog posts about the sale of the Hilton hotel site to Twiggy Forrest, the secret merger talks between Freo and East Freo councils, and the departure from Fremantle of Fremantle Society president John Dowson were all made up stories to celebrate the first day of April.

And I added the City of Fremantle’s funny April Fools about Freo Time and daylight saving.

It was all done in good fun, so I hope I fooled a few of you and that it gave you something to smile about!

Roel Loopers




It is not official yet, but I was told last night that shock waves are going through the Fremantle Society with their president John Downson indicating that he will soon be relocating permanently to England.

Dowson is said to be deeply frustrated that the Society has been unable to make an impact on Fremantle planning matters and bad architecture, and he is outraged about what he calls the incompetent Fremantle Council, planning department and State’s JDAP and SAT, which approve in Dowson’s opinion inappropriate buildings in our city.

The Fremantle Society committee is very worried that they might not be able to find anyone to replace John Dowson because it has been very difficult over the past years to find members willing to put their hat in the ring and take on an official function, hence FS has now members on committee who don’t live anywhere near Fremantle.

Already during the last two years Dowson has ran FS partly from London, where he bought an apartment in a new upmarket subway station development, and from cruise ships on which he lectures about Fremantle’s history.

I see John Dowson’s departure from Fremantle as a good opportunity for the Fremantle Society to consider how to make the group relevant again and less political and council-bashing. It needs to go with the times and rejuvenate and redevelop itself and not be anti change and anti development. I hope the group won’t falter and collapse in a heap because of the departure of its powerful president.

If the Brits can cope with Brexit and Dowson is another thing, but good luck to John Dowson, who has been very controversial but with his heart in the right place for Freo.

Roel Loopers



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