Installation of the artworks for the Sculpture@Bathers show on Fremantle’s Bathers Beach started this morning.
Eighty Western Australian sculptors will showcase their art from Saturday for two weeks all around the beach, on the boardwalk and inside Kidogo Arthouse.
Bureaucracy-like car salesmen, lawyers, politicians, Dutchmen, journalists, and Roel Loopers, to name just a few-has a bad reputation.
I know one should never generalise so let me declare that I have often dealt with excellent public servants at the City of Fremantle and all levels of government.
Why am I writing this? Because I thought there must be some reason and order within City of Fremantle madness I do not understand. It’s probably not the fault of an officer but of the system and lack of rules.
Yesterday the two new fire extinguishers in the Roundhouse were tested and the contractor told me the only other devise he needed to test at Arthur Head for CoF was the one in the Gunners Cottage, which is the office of the Roundhouse volunteers.
This means that none of the artist’s studios at Captain’s and Mrs Trivett lanes have fire extinguishers installed although some of them have highly flammable goods in them. I don’t know a painter who would not have turpentine in their studio.
It seems illogical to me that the Roundhouse, that is highly unlikely to ever catch fire, needs to have two fire extinguishers, but highly flammable artist’s studios in tiny residential cottages that are also open to the public don’t have any.
If a fire broke out in one of the cottages it could very easily and rapidly spread to the others along the lane and all that heritage would be gone.
One of the things I very much enjoy is showing people around Fremantle and a few of the hidden treasures they might not otherwise discover, so today I spent two hours with the lovely Italian Elisabetta and Matilda.
Matilda lives in Freo and runs the cute fashion boutique and Birkenstock outlet Creato a Mano at Marine Parade and her husband Roberto runs the equally cute Galleria D’Arte West End just a few metres awy, so go and check them out!
Elisabetta though lives in beautiful Rome, so hence the need for a guided tour.
The Roundhouse and Arthur Head had to be the starting point and soon we walked into Bruce from Replants who is setting up a tree installation on Bathers Beach for the Sculpture@Bathers show which starts on the 24th of this month.
The former long jetty and ocean pool and the mortuary and kerosine store were clearly a must and gave me the opportunity to talk about the horrendous Rottnest Island indigenous Quod prison.
From there we wandered into Notre Dame University territory. We had a few sneak peeks inside some of the gorgeous adaptive reuse heritage buildings, the beautiful library and also the stunning Aboriginal art collection of UNDA. I recommend anyone to take a guided tour of the campus on Friday morning which UNDA organises. Contact them to book it!
The flat where FBI boss J Edgar Hoover lived, which is now part of Kerry Hill architects in Mouat Street, is also largely unknown. Kerry Hill by the way designed the new City of Fremantle Civic Centre at Kings Square.
I showed my guests the PS Art Space and studios upstairs, the former Police Station at Victoria Quay and the historic artworks inside B Shed, even the toilets, and wandered around the Maritime Museum under the watchful eyes of a lone Nankeen heron.
The old submarine, the connection to Gallipoli and the migrant wall were a talking point for us that connected Freo to Europe.
From there past the J Shed art studios and back through the Whalers Tunnel for a nice iced coffee at my friends at Chalkys in the former Trams Building.
What is there not to love about Freo. So happy I live here!
If the City of Fremantle is serious about an Aboriginal cultural centre in Fremantle it has to stop the tokenism and invest money and get expert advise on how to provide an Aboriginal experience for overseas visitors.
It is known from tourism surveys that many visitors complain about the lack of opportunities to meet Aboriginal people and engage with them and get to know more about their culture and history.
I don’t like to say it, but I told you so when I still lived at Captain’s Lane that the Walyalup Centre in a tiny old cottage was never going to work. Even Councillor Rachel Pemberton said at the FPOL committee meeting this week that Councillors knew the cottage at Arthur Head would not be perfect but it was a case of better something than nothing.
In my opinion it was also not going to work because of the wrong choice of personnel to manage the centre. The cultural centre needs someone who knows how to engage with tourists, who knows how to run an art gallery and who knows how to come up with and manage events. The Aboriginal liaison officer of the City of Fremantle is not that kind of person, no matter how likeable he is and how good he is at the job he was employed for. It is unfair to expect him to run the centre and it is not his failure but that of the administration who put him in charge. I am sure his job description when he applied for the position did not mention managing a cultural centre .
A totally different energy and knowledge base is needed to run a cultural centre than the one needed to liaise between a Wadjela administration and the Whadjuk Noongar community.
If the Walyalup Centre was to be moved it should be to the No 1 studio at J Shed that was wrongly and stupidly leased to Sunset Events to create a tavern and outdoor music centre.
If the Noongar community is not against a centre at Arthur Head this is the right location because it has a large outdoor area suitable for music and dance events and story telling, while the large space of J Shed allows for serious Aboriginal art exhibitions and events that might help fund the centre and even make it self-funding over time.
Wishy-Washy Fremantle City governance and inconsistencies are to blame for the mess the Bathers Beach Art Precinct is, because there is a serious lack of quality control and lack of a real concept for the area.
Up at Captain’s Lane the City has created a night-time ghost town that has attracted anti social behaviour (I told them so!), while it has created day-time mediocrity, with the exception of the excellent and professional Glen Cowans underwater photography.
The Walyalup centre could enhance the historic, cultural and art aspect of the area and tell the Noongar stories, and the impact of British settlement and about the connection of the area to the horrendous indigenous Rottnest Island Quod prison where so many Aboriginal men died.
To do that the City needs to go through a process of consultation, expert advise and contracting the right people to run a centre of significance that will attracts many thousands of visitors each year, help activate Arthur Head and will allow the proud Noongar history to be told by our first nation people. To continue as it is in any location will be a failure that the Noongar community does not deserve.
While the City of Fremantle has been contemplating how to activate historic Arthur’s Head, long time occupants are already doing it well and appropriately.
Yesterday we had a huge crowd at the Roundhouse for the Nyoongar smoking ceremony and for the last weeks we had sell-out performances inside the Roundhouse in the evenings for the Out of the Cave Fringe Festival show. See the photo above I took last night at 7.45 pm.
Great also that Glen Cowans opened his underwater photography gallery next to the Roundhouse early at 9 am yesterday during the smoking ceremony!
Down the road at J Shed the number 2, 3 and 4 galleries with Greg James, Janet Nixon, Jina Lee, Lesley Barret, Jenny Dawson, Peter Zuvela, Ross Potter and Ellen McCarthy are all involved in activation. Sculptures are on the reserve, exhibitions are organised, there are programs for school children during the holidays and a real engagement with the community.
Interesting that one Freo Councillor said to me yesterday that when the Roundhouse puts new displays up we need to acknowledge the Nyoongar people, and that is already planned. But we are waiting for the City to put power into the Roundhouse so we can start applying for grants and it would also be a very good idea for the City to allocate a substantial amount of money for that to support the volunteer organisation. We are looking after over 130,000 visitors a year, seven days a week and only close on Good Friday and Christmas Day, so we are a significant tourist destination.
At the smoking ceremony four of the elderly Roundhouse guides came in very early to support the event. Pretty bloody good I reckon, and two of them were on duty every night for the theatre performance!
Tomorrow, Saturday January 28 will be a very special community day in Fremantle that will celebrate our history and multiculturalism.
It starts of at 9.30 am at Arthur Head with a significant smoking ceremony by Nyoongar elders.
Two four hundred-year-old boomerangs from the South West will fly again from the hands of youngsters.
Aboriginal dancers and representatives will conduct smoking ceremonies in three locations – in the Round House, in front of the Round House and in the Bathers’ Beach area. Small ceremonial fires held within metal dishes will be positioned in three locations and manned by representatives.
The ceremonies will be delivered in unified sequence across the three locations with the main ceremonial fire inside the Round House and a Ceremonial Progression of Aboriginal and General Community witnesses and participants together with the greater community led by Aboriginal elders out onto Bathers Beach.
Burning of Balga trees will take place on the grassed area in front of J Shed at 6.00pm.
And from 2 pm on the One Day In Freo event is at the Esplanade with family entertainment and from 4 pm on the great John Butler, Mama Kin and Dan Sultan will perform live from 4 pm.
It’s going to be a fantastic day to celebrate our diversity and sense of community and the huge contribution everyone has made to make Fremantle the very special and unique place it is.
The claim in the Fremantle Herald today by Fishing Boat Harbour traders that Australia Day was a big hit for Fremantle businesses is a very one-sided view of the reality. It’s more like a Donald Trump alternative facts statement.
The fish&chips traders in the FBH might have done very well when thousands of people came to Fremantle in the early evening to watch the fireworks, but during the day there was hardly anyone in the city centre because it was simply too hot, so many businesses did very little trade at all. We had only 114 visitors at the Roundhouse compared to over 1,400 two weeks ago.
No one is to blame for that and it is a shame the Freo Fiesta efforts were hampered by the hottest Australia Day in 79 years, but let’s not try to make a very average day look like it was an outstanding success because the Fishing Boat Harbour people organised it.
Also funny to read that the FBH traders have approached State Government to get $ 500,000 to install a shark net at Fremantle’s most underused beach where one rarely sees more than a handful of people in the ocean. No wonder the City of Fremantle is not keen about the idea, that I believe would be a waste of money.
But having said all that, I believe the City of Fremantle needs to become serious about the activation of Arthur’s Head and what better way to do that than activating the gorgeous inner city beach. More significant signs to promote the beach would also help.
Bathers Beach needs public toilets, showers at the northern end near J Shed and the extension of the boardwalk all the way to J Shed. Creating better connectivity between the Victoria Quay and the Fishing Boat Harbour and linking the Maritime Museum, Roundhouse and Shipwreck Museum would be very helpful.
The Whalers Tunnel also needs to remain open longer in the evenings so there is direct access from High Street for people to watch the sunset and the lit up cliff face there.
There are a lot better ways of spending half a million dollars on Bathers Beach than a shark net.
The FREO FIESTA is on today and all weekend, so check it out! More info on http://www.fremantlebid.com
My personal Australia Day is March 13, as it was a balmy day 35 years ago in 1982 when my German partner Brigitte and I arrived in Sydney for the biggest adventure of our life. A big contrast from the snow storm we had at our departure a day earlier at Nuremberg airport.
Soon we rented a sixth floor apartment with two large balconies at Bondi Junction and overlooked the stunning harbour, Opera House and Harbour Bridge, as well as the beaches.
The culture shock impact was reduced when we attended two months of language and culture classes at the Blackfriar school together with people from all over the world. We became friends with people from Iran, Austria, Indonesia, etc.
What stood out most for me in our new country was the multiculturalism, and of course the great blue sky and gorgeous weather.
My job as a infill photographer at the Sydney Morning Herald during the Brisbane Commonwealth Games was cancelled because there was a recession, so I ended up working as a kitchenhand and cook at a posh yacht club and waiter at a golf club.
Even work was all about multiculturalism. In the Rose Bay yacht club the manager was Dutch, the catering manager Czechoslovakian, the chef from Wales, the cooks French, while at the Chatswood golf club I worked for an Austrian chef and German manager.
After a year though I started as a freelance photographer working for designers, the Housing Commission of NSW and Rugby League Week magazine. Multiculturalism supported me again with an Iranian friend getting me the work at the Housing Commission while a designer who had migrated from Prague also gave me some assignments.
I was introduced to fish&chips, pies, cricket and cask wine and while test matches were boring I quite liked one day cricket. Now after 35 years in Australia you can’t get me away from the TV during a test match and Boxing Day is sacred for that. And of course I love Aussie Rules!
In September 1985 we decided to move to Perth and start all over again. We crossed the country in our old Honda Civic and bought our very first property, a small brand new villa in Como, on our first weekend in the west.
We registered our photography business and started showing my portfolio, with mainly B&W press photos, as I had been working for newspapers, magazines and press agencies in Germany. Soon we got our first assignments; a shoot at Blina near Derby for an oil company, the State Energy Commission liked my work and so did designers, advertising agencies, architects, the mining and tourism industries, Fremantle Ports, and government departments.
I became the official photographer for the Legislative Council and the the Governor of WA Gordon Reid for some years and through that the official photographer during the visit of HRH Princess Ann and travelled with her to the Kimberley and Pilbarra. A photo album with my photos of that visit was presented to HRH by then Premier Brian Burke on her last day here.
Life was so good that we soon bought a beautiful Californian bungalow in Swanbourne that we later extended. We bought the house from well-known artist Ashley Jones and his wife Nina and decided to keep their tradition of an open house on Friday evenings, and we ended up getting to know a lot of people fast that way.
In the late 80s my partner wanted to open an art gallery and Artplace in the Old Theatre Lane in Claremont became our new adventure and a great success for Brigitte, but after 20 years of living together we decided in the early 90s to split up and I moved to Fremantle.
Although I had a great life while living in the Netherlands for 20 years and in Germany for 13, Fremantle is the love of my life, so I soon became involved with community groups, the Walyalup Reconciliation Group, Fremantle Society, Roundhouse volunteer guides, etc. and was awarded Fremantle Citizen of the Year 2012 by the WA Premier.
I love Fremantle because it is full of interesting, quirky, caring and creative people from all over the world, and because of the stunning historic West End. There is not a day that I don’t drive onto the South Mole to look at the harbour and Indian Ocean and my favourite West End cafes know that I drink double espressos.
My respect for Aboriginal culture and people started early when I met Michelle, an Injibandi woman, at the Japingka Gallery. We became good friends and I one of the babysitters for her sons Simon and Reuben. I have always felt at home with our indigenous people and on my spiritual 58,000 km, eight-month trip criss crossing Australia in the mid 1990s I often connected with them as they showed me their land and told me their stories without ever treating me as someone responsible for their plight.
Multiculturalism is something I embrace and like, even in my love life, with lovers from Germany, Canada, Australia, Serbia and Sri Lanka. The one thing I absolutely can’t tolerate is racism because I believe that most people from all cultures and religions are good people.
Through my involvement with markets I became friends with many of the Muslim stall holders. All decent, hard-working family people who don’t pose a threat to anyone.
Adapting to my new country was often challenging but it helps that I am interested in just about everything, and having an open mind and a love for people. I handed back my Dutch passport in 1985 when I became Australian and never have regretted it.
Australia is not the best country on earth, no country is, but it is a bloody good one and I am so happy and grateful I made the brave decision to migrate here. It’s one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life!
I’ll be enjoying Australia Day at the Roundhouse talking to people from all over the world telling them about the fascinating history of Fremantle.
Fremantle’s West End is buzzing with rumours that Sunset Events will propose a scaled-down version of the rejected tavern and outdoor music venue at J Shed on Bathers Beach. The music events organiser has a 25-year-lease for the number one studio there.
The proposal for the venue was rejected by the City of Fremantle, the WA Planning Commission and the State Administrative Tribunal, so only heaven knows why the SE directors are still trying for the same, but a bit smaller.
From my memory SAT and the WAPC rejected the proposal because a tavern and live music venue were deemed inappropriate for the A Class Reserve in one of our state’s most historic areas. The number of patrons was not the issue for the two state bodies, but a licensed pub and music venue was.
I have no doubt that should Sunset Events put a scaled-down proposal forward it will again be opposed by Fremantle community groups and end up again at WAPC and SAT. Common sense tells me that these bodies will not change their ruling just because Sunset Events is reducing the number of patrons.
A small bar/cafe and art gallery would be nice there, but anything bigger is not on.
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!