Freo's View

IS THERE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE WHALERS TUNNEL?

 

 

Vandals have caused more than $ 10,000 damage to the small solar lights along the coastal path at Bathers Beach between Kidogo Arthouse and J Shed since they were installed.

The City of Fremantle stopped repairing the lights over the last 18 months because of the constant and excessive vandalism, but officers have put a request to Council to include in next financial year’s budget replacement lights mounted on tall poles.

Such lights were proposed before by officers but deemed not in keeping with the heritage character of Arthur’s Head, but already two taller lights have been installed just south of J Shed in the vicinity of the former whaling station.

I took photos of the vandalism on Monday morning.

Roel Loopers

LET’S GET REAL ABOUT WEST END ACTIVATION

I missed the Fremantle Council FPOL Committee meeting on Wednesday due to the Candidate Debate being at the same time, so could not observe myself what went on about Arthur’s Head.

What I hear is that that tired buzzword ‘activation’ was thrown around a lot and that Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt talked about a “Grand Vision” with substantial development, ideally in the form of a National Aboriginal Cultural Centre at the location where J Shed is at the moment.

The one major issue here is that such a building would probably cost $ 40-50 million, which Fremantle has not got, and staff cost and maintenance Fremantle cannot afford either, and…. the State Government wants to build the centre somewhere in Perth and Fremantle is not a preferred location unfortunately.

So should we risk $ 50,000 of ratepayers money on a feasibility study for an Aboriginal centre Fremantle can’t afford to build, manage and maintain, when there is hardly even a remote change that it would be approved and funded by the McGowan government?

Grand visions are great, but they need to be realistic and achievable if we are going to throw money at it.

Now let’s talk a bit about activation. First there was the idea for the Bathers Beach Art Precinct that was meant to activate the area, but did not, and galleries who tried it up on Arthur’s Head closed.  Only the Glen Cowans photograpy gallery established itself well. Now the residential cottages will become artist studios and that will do absolutely nothing to activate the area and attract more people there because the artist studios do not have to be open to the public.

Then Fremantle Council had the brilliant brain flash that a large tavern with an even larger live outdoor music venue would activate Arthur’s Head, against the wishes of the community. They proceeded anyway, to finally be told by the WA Planning Committee that it was inappropriate use of the area, after Sunset Events had wasted a lot of money and Council had managed to frustrate many Freo people. Who cares, we’ve got a grand vision!

To top it off Fremantle Council does not give a rat’s arse about the only place that actually activates Arthur’s Head 363 days a week, the Roundhouse. This major tourist attraction that gets 150,000 visitors a year has not received a single cent of Fremantle Council funding since I have been a volunteer there, which is nine years. But who cares about that tiny activation when one has a grand vision for the area. Maybe we should just demolish WA’s oldest public building and get on with an ever bigger grand vision of a twenty-story hotel on the site. Now that would activate the area.

If this is good governance, Mayor Brad Pettitt, Elected Members and Minister David Templeman than we might as well keep supporting unrealistic pipe dreams instead of supporting those who have put the hard yards in for twenty years without any help from the local, State and Federal governments. You have disrespectfully been taking the Roundhouse for granted for far too long!

You can’t see the activation of Arthur’s Head because you are blinded by your grand visions. Grow up! Mature! Inject some reality into your thought bubbles instead of talking nonsense.

Maintain Arthur’s Head better and make it more attractive. Support the Roundhouse volunteers financially and substantially, and market the old prison more and better. Get rid of the artist studios and offer tourism merchandise along Captain’s Lane, hold a monthly art&craft market on the A Class reserve at J Shed, include it in more festival events such at the Street Arts Festival, and PLEASE stop believing you need to build a monument to be remembered by. It’s not working.

Roel Loopers

 

MORE ART STUDIOS FOR ARTHUR’S HEAD

 

The Fremantle Bathers Beach Art Precinct will join the City’s Studio Program and the former Pilots Cottages will become home to multiple artists instead of art galleries.

City staff conducted a trial period and believe there are benefits for Arthur’s Head, such as “an increase in the diversity of activation” and “a more dynamic precinct has been created”

This is of course self-serving bollocks as the art studios do not have to be open to the public, so one can hardly claim there is now a more dynamic precinct at Captain’s and Ms Trivett lanes, and while there might be diversity of use inside the buildings there is no diversity of activation outside and not much to attract visitors.

The marvelous and very popular Glen Cowans underwater photography gallery stands out as a beacon of professionalism, and at least the artists in the David Giles gallery open the doors, paint on the veranda and engage with the public.

The matter of the area being a ghost town at night is not addressed, so that will only get worse.

Fremantle Council has been wanting to activate Arthur’s Head for many years but fails to understand that artist studios which are closed to the public are not going to do that. It has also dismally failed to support the Roundhouse volunteers who run a major tourist attraction without receiving any funding at all from the City or the State.

The item is on the FPOL Committee agenda on Wednesday.

Roel Loopers

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PRAGMATISM REQUIRED FOR FREMANTLE ABORIGINAL CENTRE

 

 

Fremantle Council minutes that deal with J Shed must be reaching biblical proportions when one considers how often the art shed at Bathers Beach comes before Council and Council committees.

It is on again this Wednesday at the FPOL Committee where officers recommend not to engage in new lease negotiations with the current artists there but continue the existing leases, with a 12 month termination-of-lease clause because of Council’s desire to built an Aboriginal cultural centre in that location.

Perth is well overdue for a WA Aboriginal centre and it should be in Fremantle, but it is highly premature to not extend the artists’ leases as it will be many years, if at all, when such a centre will be built at Bathers Beach.

A Western Australian Aboriginal centre is well beyond the scope of the City of Fremantle and should be a State facility; financed, curated and managed by the WA Government.

It will require extensive and very lengthy consultation with our indigenous people from Wyndham to Albany and Fremantle to Kalgoorlie and beyond, so that is going to take years.

Then there should be an architecture competition for a remarkable and outstanding building, plus detailed curatorial work that will require years of research with the support of the WA Museum, Bernd Museum, WA’s Aboriginal people, historians, art experts, etc.

Once the historical, cultural and art content has been agreed on the design of the displays will need to be dealt with, and that won’t be done overnight either.

It will be brilliant to have a stunning Aboriginal centre at Bathers Beach, as Manjaree/Arthur’s Head is where the first contact between the British colonists and local indigenous people took place. It is also the location of the Roundhouse, WAs oldest remaining public building, and the location from where many Aboriginal men and boys were transported from to the horrible Quod prison on Wadjemup/Rottnest Island.

And if this becomes a State project Fremantle’s feasibility study might be superfluous as the State will have to go through a process first of identifying preferred locations for the new centre and decide if it will actually be in Fremantle, or Elizabeth Quay, Burswood, or elsewhere. That is not going to happen  in just a few years, so why not give the J Shed artists at least a two-year lease that can be extended by 12 months from thereon. It’s the realistic and pragmatic course to take.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE ABORIGINAL CENTRE A GREAT IDEA

 

I reported about a purpose-built Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Fremantle before, but it is important to start the conversation here in Freo and with the State Government, so I copy and past the entire media release I just received:

Aboriginal Centre

 

The City of Fremantle is pushing for the state government to build a major new Indigenous Cultural Centre adjacent to the Round House at Fremantle’s Arthur Head.

The original plans for Elizabeth Quay in Perth included an iconic Indigenous Cultural Centre but to date those plans have not progressed.

Mayor Brad Pettitt said Fremantle was the obvious choice to be home to Western Australia’s pre-eminent showcase for Aboriginal art and culture.

“The Manjaree site around Arthur Head and Bathers Beach is of tremendous cultural significance to the local Whadjuk Nyoongar people,” Mayor Pettitt said.

“As an important crossing point of the Derbarl Yerrigan – the Swan River – it was a meeting place, a trading place, a ceremonial place and a spiritual place.

“It was also the site where the first British colonists landed in 1829, and where thousands of Aboriginal people from across Western Australia were locked up in the Round House before being shipped to the notorious prison on Wadjemup – Rottnest Island.

“It would be a powerful statement of reconciliation to have a world-class Indigenous Cultural Centre built in a place of such significance for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal history in WA.

“The WA Maritime Museum on Victoria Quay is a fantastic facility, but at the moment it’s isolated from other heritage attractions in Fremantle like the Shipwreck Museum and the Round House.

“An Indigenous Cultural Centre at Arthur Head would help make that connection between the Maritime Museum and Bathers Beach and give that whole area the critical mass it needs to be a major tourism drawcard.

“The underlying principle of the Cultural Centre will be to create a place for living culture, which will not only mean interactive experiences for tourists but also a meaningful place for all Aboriginal people.”

Fremantle Council recently endorsed the concept of establishing an Indigenous Cultural Centre of state and local significance in Fremantle, with a focus on tourism, Aboriginal culture and heritage and being a place to experience Aboriginal cultural practices.

The concept was outlined in a visioning report prepared in consultation with the Aboriginal community and other key stakeholders.

The council agreed Arthur Head was the preferred location, subject to further investigation and community consultation.

The existing J Shed building on the site could be used as a temporary facility before being relocated to make way for a new purpose-built centre.

The council will give consideration to an allocation of $50,000 as part of the 2019/20 budget process to prepare a detailed feasibility study and business case for the centre.

Roel Loopers

GOVERNMENT FUNDING ESSENTIAL FOR HISTORIC ARTHUR’S HEAD

 

Arthur's Head

 

Good to see the Fremantle Herald dedicating the front page to the stabilisation issues at Arthur’s Head and preservation works required at the Roundhouse.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the State Government has taken one of our state’s most significant historic precincts and WA’s oldest public building for granted for far too long. Sure, the City has on occasions received a grant to do work there, but there really should be annual funding for the upkeep of the Roundhouse and surrounding cliff face and buildings.

It was uplifting how many visitors to the Roundhouse yesterday had seen the Today Tonight program on Channel Seven with none of them aware that there is no funding for the tourist destination, and that just 30 volunteers keep the building open 363 days a year on the smell of an oily rag, from the few visitors gold coin donations received.

In an ideal world the Roundhouse would have enough volunteers to do two three and a half hour shifts, so that the building can remain open two hours longer each day from 10am to 5pm, in line with the Shipwrecks and Maritime museums.

Annual funding and marketing support from the City of Fremantle is needed to support the popular building, and State and Federal funding is required to maintain Arthur’s Head as the significant historic site it is!

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE BEST LOCATION FOR ABORIGINAL CENTRE

 

“It is well beyond our capacity of funding” said Councillor Andrew Sullivan about the Council agenda item to do a $ 50.000 feasibility study for a Fremantle Aboriginal Cultural Centre at the preferred J Shed location at Bathers Beach.

And that is unfortunately the huge problem, because indications from the WA State Government are that they want to built the Aboriginal centre in Perth, ideally in Burswood, the electorate of Ben Wyatt, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and the Treasurer.

While I would absolutely love to have an Aboriginal Centre in Fremantle, and have been calling for it for many years, I believe it is unrealistic for the City of Fremantle to do a feasibility study before getting funding commitment from the State. Should we spend $ 50,000 of ratepayers money on what might only be a pipe dream that will never be realised because the State Government is so bloody Perth-centric?

If I were wealthy I would be very happy to donate my own money for an Aboriginal Centre in Freo because the story of our indigenous people needs to be told, and international tourists need to and want to have an Aboriginal experience.

Now how can we convince the Premier and Cabinet that Fremantle deserves another tourist attraction?

Roel Loopers

HERITAGE PRESERVATION IS NOT OPTIONAL BUT OUR DUTY

 

round house- arthur head

 

Fremantle’s Ordinary Council meeting this evening decided to try to get State and Federal funding for the stabilisation of historic Arthur’s Head. Estimated cost for the preservation work are $ 1.8 million, plus $ 500.000-1million for renovations to the Roundhouse.

1. Endorse the Arthur Head design and documentation package as detailed in the Arthur Head Cliff Stabilisation Final Report, provided in Attachment 1 of this report in the Finance, Policy, Operations and Legislation Committee Agenda (10 April 2019).
2. Request the City proceed with referring details of the proposed works to the relevant state government agencies under public works procedures and obtaining all necessary statutory approvals.
3. Request the City seek State and Federal funding in order to progress the required remediation projects.
4. Request the City investigate the impact of vibrations from trains to the topography and buildings at Arthur Head.

I believe this is not far-reaching enough as the City of Fremantle should lobby the State and Federal Governments for ongoing annual financial support to preserve one of Western Australia’s most significant historic precincts.

As French President Emannuel Marcon said yesterday after the Notre Dame cathedral fire “We owe is to our history to preserve it.” And as I said to the Elected Members today that is not optional but a duty we have.

I also pointed out that the Roundhouse is the only one of the four Fremantle museums: Shipwreck Museum, Maritime Museum and Fremantle Prison that does not get any funding, not from the City, not from the WA Government and not from the Federal Government. That is not fair and reasonable.

The oldest public building in Western Australia welcomes around 140.000 international and national visitors a year, but is managed by mainly senior volunteers. Just 30 of them keep the Roundhouse open 363 days a year and fire the 1pm cannon.

The Roundhouse needs and deserves much more support from the City of Fremantle and State Government and it needs to happen as a priority!

Roel Loopers

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TODAY TONIGHT FILMING ARTHUR’S HEAD NEGLECT

 

 

A team from Channel Seven-Today Tonight spent most of the morning in Fremantle to film a story about the neglect of historic Arthur’s Head and WAs oldest public building the Roundhouse.

They interviewed a structural engineer about stabilisation solutions for the rockfall problem and a Roundhouse tourguide about the historic significance of the area.

It will be screened tomorrow, Wednesday at 6.30pm so make sure to watch it, and hopefully WA State politicians will watch it as well and put their hands in their pockets and fund the essential maintenance and repairs as a priority.

Send an email to Heritage Minister David Templeman, Premier Mark McGowan, Tourism Minister Paul Papalia and Member for Fremantle Simone McGurk, and urge them to preserve one of Western Australia’s most significant historic precincts!

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE PORTS SPONSORS ROUNDHOUSE CANNON FIRE

 

cannon-fire

 

It is personally rewarding for me to see that my call for support for the Fremantle Roundhouse has not been just weeing in the wind, but that Fremantle Ports responded generously and are now official sponsors of the One O’Clock Cannon Fire at the Roundhouse.

That the Fremantle Ports sponsors WA’s oldest public building is special to me since I did 14 years of photography for the Ports, so I very much feel like being part of the crew there.

When I complained in a letter to the West Australian and on this Freo’s View blog a few months ago about lack of support for the Roundhouse Fremantle Ports contacted me and asked how they could support the Roundhouse heritage guides.

The gun deck overlooks the site of the first Fremantle port, the long jetty, and also the current port, so it is very much part of our maritime history.

The cannon was fired and the time ball lowered for the early mariners to adjust their clocks, so that the calculation of longitude would be precise. The Roundhouse volunteers fire the cannon 363 days of the year, unless inclement weather prevents it.

People can book the firing of the cannon on http://www.fremantleroundhouse.com.au and are given a certificate to show they were the honorary gunner of the day. I suggest we reprint the certificates with the Fremantle Ports logo on it.

As part of the Fremantle Ports sponsorship the Roundhouse volunteer guides will participate in this year’s Maritime Day on Victoria Quay. I’ll see you there!

I hope the State and Federal governments will now also financially assist with the Roundhouse maintenance and management and the much needed stabilisation of Arthur’s Head and the Whalers Tunnel.

Roel Loopers

 

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