I am very disappointed and extremely annoyed to hear that Fremantle Council has yet again not budgeted to get power into the very popular Roundhouse tourists destination, so that the volunteer guides can move forward with their plans for new and modern displays.
It does not cost the City of Fremantle a cent to keep the Roundhouse open 363 days a year, as it is run by just 40 volunteers, who also open the historic building up after hours for weddings and event.
Fremantle Councillors constantly lament that they want to activate Arthur Head when the Roundhouse receives 130,000+ visitors a year, but they are not willing to support the tourism industry.
I am totally flabbergasted about that when Tourism WA keeps telling us that tourism is a huge growth industry.
It only needs $ 10,000 to run power into the cells for interactive displays, so that the guides can start to get the funding for the $ 200,000 project for which the professionally designed plans are ready.
I often criticise the lack of priorities at Fremantle Council that seems to always be able to find money for greeny projects, but when it comes to support one of the most visited tourist destinations in our city it just can’t be bothered.
No, let’s just donate another $ 14,000 for a tiny parklet in Wray Avenue that only a handful of people use, but stuff a volunteer organisation that looks after 130,000 tourists a year. It’s pathetic and I am disgusted!
Fremantle Council made the right decision a few weeks ago about the Aboriginal Cultural Centre. Instead of just handing the DADAA Beach Street building over to Noongar people and see if the centre would work better in a different location from the one it occupied at Arthur Head, Council decided it actually needed to find out first what our local indigenous people want and need.
I believe Council should take the same approach to the Bathers Beach Art Precinct concept because it has not been working as well as it could have.
First Council needs to be very clear if they really believe a tavern at J Shed is appropriate for the arts and heritage precinct, because the WA Planning Commission and State Administrative Tribunal both don’t believe a tavern is the appropriate use for the A-Class reserve.
The arts precinct idea is nice but it lacks an outcome-based concept. All we keep hearing from Council is that they want to activate the area, but that cannot be achieved by packing amateur artists into residential small cottages at Captain’s and Mrs Trivett Lane.
The only truly professional outfit on top of the hill has been the Glen Cowans Photography Gallery, most other attempts have been dismal failures up there.
Arthur Head is already well activated with 135,000 people visiting the Roundhouse annually. That deserves more support and more thought from the City of Fremantle on how it can promote that tourist attraction better, hold more evening events in the historic building and how we can better connect the precinct with Victoria Quay and the Fishing Boat Harbour.
J Shed has been working very well as an arts hub for many years, but professional artists are not performing circus animals and that is where the Bathers Beach Art Precinct fails and the concept is wrong. One cannot expect artists working on sculptures and ceramics to have their doors open to the public daily, as they simply do not have the time to engage with the public and interrupt their public art commissions. Even artists need to make a living!
The new Art in Freo gallery that took over the woodworkers No 4 studio works well and does children activities during school holidays, and holds events and classes, while Jenny Dawson and Greg James in the studios next door most of the time share their spaces with other international and Aboriginal artists.
Sunset Events ‘new’ proposal for the No 1 Studio is not very different at all from the one rejected by two state authorities and Fremantle Council. They have just given it a different name and now the tavern is supposed to be only a family restaurant with a tavern license with strong emphasis on culture and heritage. And pigs do fly.
Fact is that Sunset Events have only taken out the open air concerts part of their proposal and everything else is very much the same as it previously was, and was rejected.
Fact is also that nothing can stop Sunset Events from applying for so-called one-off events, such as large outdoor concerts on the reserve, and we all know that applicants often want to make changes once Council has approved a planning proposal.
So are we supposed to take Sunset Events’ word for it that the family restaurant won’t quickly change into a tavern with concerts when they realise the profit margin for a restaurant is too low for their investment? Yes pigs do fly indeed.
Fremantle Council needs to take the Arthur Head activation plans back to the drawing board, as they did with the Aboriginal Centre, and stop putting the cart before the horse. It needs careful consideration and more support for those who are already there, and much better quality control of who can lease the Pilots Cottages.
Working artists studios will never significantly activate the area, but professional art and craft galleries might. One also has to consider if selling tourism related goods would be a better option for the cottages because the markets in Fremantle are only open on weekends and many visitors to the area often ask for markets.
It is not going to do anyone any good to stubbornly hold on to the arts precinct idea when something else might just work much better.
Above all, let us not forget that Arthur Head is one of the most significant historic precincts in Western Australia, with the Roundhouse the oldest public building in the state.
Back to the drawing board and a think tank with artists, the tourism industry, etc. Freo Council!
Today is a sad historic day in Fremantle with the anniversary of the hanging of 15-year-old John Gavin in front of the Roundhouse 173 years ago on April 6, 1844.
Gavin was the first European settler to be executed in Western Australia.
He arrived here as a Parkhurst boy and was convicted of murdering the son of his employer 18-year-old George Pollard.
Gavin was a tiny boy only so that weights were attached to his body to make the execution more humane. He was buried in the dunes south of the Roundhouse but his remains have never been found.
I was called an arsehole because I dared to criticise the underperforming Fremantle Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Arthur Head.
But a picture tells a whole lot more than words. This is the ‘welcome to country’ visitors who walk past the now closed centre get, and I find that very embarrassing.
Come on City of Fremantle, surely this lack of care is not acceptable!
There was such an air of negativity at the Sunset Events community information session about new plans for J Shed at Bathers Beach that I left before the questions started, as the interruptions were annoying.
I walked away asking how one can create trust between parties when there is so much negativity. Honesty helps to achieve that, so why did Sunset Events director David Chitty in his presentation omitted to mention plans for a brewery, as well as the tavern, restaurant and picnic area he mentioned?
That is so silly and tactically so unwise because now the people who are already against it will think SE have got more to hide and other controversial plans they don’t want to mention.
That was really disappointing because I quite like the concept of an affordable family restaurant, with function space(s), a cultural program and creative director to implement it and a nice picnic area on the grass in front of the artists’ studios.
A 400 patron venue is not huge but is a tavern appropriate for the A-Class reserve? Not according to the state’s DAP and SAT.
I liked that David Chitty admitted the trial period had shown that what they initially wanted did not work for them and the community, and that could have been the start of positively moving forward together but PLEASE cut the bullshit!
The restaurant is going to serve female friendly meals that are not too blokey? You must be kidding! Are sausages phallic symbols?
Australian BBQ, local fresh produce and seafood, yes please. Generous serves to assist obesity, no thank you!
Fostering a progressive cultural program is paramount to the project. I don’t think so as a pub environment is just not suited for it. Film nights are great, especially outdoors but the northern end of Bathers Beach is very bloody windy, as we found out when we ran the Bathers Beach Sunset Food Market there. Ask the Kelp Bar how they struggle with the Freo Doctor.
I want something special at that end of Bathers Beach but am not sure that bookend pubs are the go, but I do actually like the idea of something like COAST at Port Beach that could well work at BB and I believe David Chitty could pull that off with the right chef and leaving all the bullshit and brewery stuff behind.
The Fremantle SCULPTURE@BATHERS exhibition is on at Bathers Beach for the next two weeks, so make sure to go and have a look.
It is the showcase for 85 Western Australian artists, so support our local creatives.
I specifically liked the sensual stone works by Jina Lee and Pascal Proteau, the colourful wind powered work on the groyne by Cameron Robbins and the forrest on the beach by Bruce Abbott.
Antony Muia is very much his own artist and the two pillars of coloured rocks and a pile of rocks inside a fenced-off space is fascinating, as are Muia’s challenging but beautiful paintings and prints he has been creating for years.
Peter Knight’s work is one of his best, and I always love the art Peter Dailey creates.
Also in my top list are the artworks by Ben Jones, Gordon Mitchell, Bjorn Rainer Adamson, Susan Flavell and Greg James.
Everyone will have their own favourites, so head for Bathers Beach!
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!