Freo's View





Fremantle Council has voted to formally request the state government contribute $500,000 towards urgent conservation works at one of Western Australia’s most important heritage sites.

Last night the council voted to commit $500,000 towards works to improve the safety of the severely eroded cliffs at Arthur Head – the site of the historic Round House – and called on the state government to match that commitment.

Over the past decade City of Fremantle ratepayers have spent more than $3.5 million on the management and maintenance of Arthur Head and the Round House, but the scope of the works now required to make the Arthur Head cliffs safe after decades of erosion goes above and beyond what would normally be expected of a local government.

Arthur Head and the Round House are owned by the state and are a place of great heritage significance so Fremantle Council and the Freo community believe that it is reasonable for the state government to share the cost of the urgent conservation works.

Mayor Brad Pettitt said “At a time when both the state and federal governments have declared their intent to support vital community projects with COVID-19 stimulus money, I am hopeful we will get the help we need to preserve this hugely important part of the state’s heritage.”

It has been a long and frustrating period for Fremantle. In March 2018 the City of Fremantle closed the Whalers Tunnel under the Round House and fenced off areas at the base of the cliffs in the historic Arthur Head Reserve after receiving advice that overhanging rock could be unstable and posed a safety risk.

The tunnel was reopened after the City erected temporary scaffolding at the western entrance to protect pedestrians in the event of a rock fall.

The City also commissioned geotechnical and heritage experts to carry out a comprehensive analysis of the condition of the cliffs and man-made walls at Arthur Head and make recommendations on how to limit further erosion and ensure public safety.

Those recommendations, including remedial works worth an estimated $1.8 million, were endorsed by Fremantle Council in April 2019.

The works subject to the $500,000 funding request to the state government include reinforcing the western entry to the Whalers Tunnel and the construction of a new rock fall canopy, and extending the retaining wall on the eastern side of Arthur Head near the railway line.

The Round House was the first permanent building built in the Swan River Colony and is the oldest public building still standing in Western Australia.

It was built as a jail and opened in 1831, with the Whalers Tunnel added in 1838.

Due to the exposed marine environment, vandalism and well-intentioned but damaging repairs carried out during previous decades the building now requires urgent conservation works.

Arthur Head was substantially quarried between the 1830s and 1960s, which reduced the size of the headland by 60 per cent and left the quarried cliff faces exposed to the harsh coastal environment.

In my opinion this is a MUST PROJECT for the State Government, that deserves to be prioritised. We don’t want to wait another six months to hear an announcement during the state election campaign, because that would delay the urgent repairs while the state is promoting Western Australians to explore their own state, and Freo would be on the wish list of many people.

Roel Loopers







Fremantle Council will be considering this evening to apply for state funding for remedial work at Arthur’s Head, so hat the unsightly temporary fences can be removed.

While the total costs for repairs of Arthur’s Head and the Roundhouse are close to $ 2,5 million, the City only wants to spend $ 1 million and do following work, while wanting an additional half a million for the Roundhouse:

To progress these works the City is considering a proposal to bundle the essential cliff and surround works to enable unsightly scaffolding and fencing to be removed to areas 1,4,7 and 8 which would value approximately $1,000,000 and seek 50% funding for this from the state government. The City is also seeking the amount of $540,000 from the state government to undertake the entire renewal works on the roundhouse.

Arthur’s Head has been a real mess for over two years now and that really is unacceptable for one of Western Australia’s most significant historic areas.

Roel Loopers



whalers tunnel


Walking around historic Arthur’s Head yesterday morning I was again appalled about the lack of care for one of Western Australia’s most significant historic precincts by the City of Fremantle and WA state government.

It is a shame that I don’t have the money to take them to court for Demolition by Neglect, because nothing has been done there now for two years, when all they did was erect ugly fences and built a very ugly temporary rockfall protection on the ocean side of it.

It looks absolutely awful, and now they’ll use Covid-19 as an excuse for not having money for repairs for another few years. It is heart breaking and absolutely unacceptable.

If there is a lawyer out there willing to do a pro bono job and take the state to court for failing to protect and preserve our heritage I would be eternally grateful.

We can’t allow this to continue, so maybe it is time for a protest sit in at the Roundhouse and shame the hell out of our politicians!

Roel Loopers





It is WA Day long weekend and the calls for an Aboriginal cultural centre are loud and clear. We want it, and ideally it will be built in Fremantle!!

But the neglect of historic Arthur’s Head and the expensive rented fences in the area really annoy me, but no one in Fremantle or Western Australia appears to care much about the awful neglect of one of WA’s most significant heritage precincts. It is a disgrace and the Western Australian government should hang their heads in shame about not caring!

What is also not acceptable is putting wrong information on tourist signs, such as this one at the entrance of the Whalers Tunnel, that claims that convict labour was used to build the tunnel.

The tunnel was built in 1837 and convicts only arrived in WA in 1850! What is probably meant is that prison labour from the Roundhouse jail was used to build the tunnel, but that is a different story.

Clean up this mess, Premier Mark McGowan. This is one of the most important public works you should push forward as a priority!

Roel Loopers





The news that the WA State Government wants to fast track major public works, such as the planned new Fremantle traffic bridge, are welcome, but Freo needs a lot more than that and some serious big picture thinking and spending from the McGowan Government.

Talks about the development of Victoria Quay and the Fremantle Council South Quay ideas have just been chatter and nothing has happened but a few plans here and there.

Some 15 years ago, or maybe even longer than that, I walked in a group with then Minister Alannah McTiernan from the Fremantle Ports building to the railway station and the media got told about the big plans for Philimore Street, a new railway court, and a much improved roundabout at Cliff Street, but alas, it was empty talk and no action. I hear this is again on the menu of the State Government, but will it ever eventuate?

The idea that the Indian Pacific train journey could start and finish in Fremantle would be wonderful, but it would need much more than a very long platform to accommodate the tourist train. It would require serious planning for how to connect Victoria Quay and the Passenger Terminal with the Fremantle CBD, and it might just have to be something as big as what happened in Perth with the sinking of the railway line and creating a new precinct over the top of it…… and pigs do fly.

A new police station if Fremantle would be a nice start, but it needs to be done in context with the masterplan  Fremantle Council is creating for Fremantle Oval, and the realisation that the former Stan Riley site might not be the best location for it as it would not go well with the plans Fremantle City has for the oval precinct.

Another major public work the State Government needs to prioritise is the stabilisation work of Arthur’s Head and urgently needed maintenance work on the Roundhouse. Once the state and country’s borders are reopened tourism will be one of the major ways to help Freo back on its feet, but there is no money at local council level to do any major public works. The State Government and our local member Simone McGurk need to step up and start getting serious about supporting Fremantle. Talk alone is not good enough!

Roel Loopers



There is no doubt that the City of Fremantle is having a very difficult financial time with loss of revenue reportedly at $ 2 million a month, which would mean that if the current Covid-19 restrictions remain in place Fremantle would lose $ 12 million over the next six months and will need to drastically reduce expenditure. Freo City management have already done that on a small scale by reducing staff hours and staff numbers temporarily, but there are concerns that for some staff it might mean permanent loss of employment. Senior management and elected members also have taken a 20 per cent pay cut.

It will be extremely hard to prioritise where costs can be cut, and some of it will not be popular with the Fremantle community, but in these unprecedented times unpopular decisions will have to be made.

Word is out that Council might scrap the $ 800,000 per year CAT bus service and that would be very disappointing, but I have little doubt that especially the festivals, One Day Australia Day event, and major works, such as the traffic calming along South Terrace and Hampton Road, will be considered when the elected members discus how and where to save money. The planned new playground at Kings Square might also be cancelled or deferred.

It is of no help at all then when the Fremantle Society comes up with ludicrous suggestions, such as that the completion of the Walyalup Civic Centre at Kings Square should be deferred and the building should be made into an exhibition centre that would show the City of Fremantle art collection.

Does the Society even have a clue on how much money it would take to change the purpose built administration centre into a proper exhibition space? Do they really believe it is just a matter of not putting staff furniture in there and hang some pictures on walls? How naive and silly! And by the way, the Fremantle art collection is not all that flash, as I noticed when I was assigned to photograph most of it some twenty years ago. I asked the consultant curator then why the city had an art collection of which about 70 per cent is mediocre and of Sunday painter quality that is not worth exhibiting.

We do already have an outstanding Fremantle Arts Center that has great exhibitions, concerts and events, and some of the Freo art collection is regularly shown there in the gallery just past the reception desk.

The Fremantle Society president also suggests to redirect the $ 800,000, if the CAT gets stopped, to the repairs of Arthur’s Head, but the CAT would be scratched to save money, not to use it elsewhere.

Council and the administration can use all the help they can get to make good financial decisions, but simplistic and unrealistic demands are not helpful at all, so there is no hope in hell either that council rates will be reduced by 4%, as the Society president suggested.

Let’s stay calm and be realistic, and let’s not start a blame game about which past Council decisions might have been wrong. No one could even anticipate the global pandemic situation we are in, but we do need to learn from it and the City of Fremantle needs to put away money for unexpected changes in the economy. All it can do now is borrow more money, slash costs, because there is no way they can increase council rates from July. Businesses and property owners are struggling. We all are!

We all need to concentrate on the future and acknowledge that there are councils, such as Fremantle, which need and deserve financial support from the state and federal governments, or a lot of public works will not happen, and we could well lose our festivals and events for some years. That would be absolutely terrible!

Roel Loopers


Posted in art, bathers beach art precinct, city of fremantle, j shed, Uncategorized by freoview on April 11, 2020


bird bath


A beautiful and different bird bath out front of J Shed sculptor Greg James’ studio and art gallery.

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’s SCULPTURE AT BATHERS starts this evening with the official opening at Bathers Beach. There are some stunning works and I recommend people go and see it twice, at least once around sunset. There is plenty for children to like about the show as well, so make it a family trip!

The coastal path from Kidogo Arthouse to the Whalers Tunnel will all be lit up and so will be sections of the beach, but the $ 25,000 the City of Fremantle is reportedly spending on it might have been better spent on a light tower at the northern end of the beach near J Shed and light up the entire beach, because there are a lot of fences at Arthur’s Head to protect passers by from rockfall.

There is a rather quirky story with police involvement, etc. about someone trying to do creative lighting during the sculpture festival, but those involved are really nice people, so I won’t go there to protect their identity. It is very Freo and funny though, so you’ll all have to wait till I write my book in 2050. ; >)

I suggested to CoF a few months ago to spend money on creative hoardings on the fences and get rid of the ugliness while informing visitors about the history of the precinct, but that has not eventuated unfortunately.

I hope someone at the City had the foresight to instruct Wilson Security to keep the Whalers Tunnel open longer than 7pm during the great sculpture show.

UPDATE: I have just been informed by the SaB that the tunnel will remain open till 10pm during the exhibition. Great news!

Roel Loopers






The fenced off carpark below the Roundhouse now looks like this. Disgraceful!


I reported previously about the state of neglect at the fenced off carpark below the Fremantle historic Roundhouse tourist attraction (2nd photo), with weeds of a metre-high popping up, but now an idiot has thrown down a rubbish bin that belongs to 10 Captain’s Lane, and it looks even worse for all those who walk and cycle by.

Roel Loopers

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