Freo's View


Posted in arthur head, city of fremantle, heritage, historic, roundhouse, Uncategorized by freoview on May 29, 2018


Nan at Roundhouse


This is Nan Jackson who today appeared in the Fremantle Gazette and in a Facebook promotional video. Nan has been a volunteer tourist guide at the Fremantle Roundhouse for ten years and deserves to be applauded during National Volunteer Week and the Fremantle Heritage Festival.

Around 150,000 overseas and interstate visitors yearly visit the old building at Arthur’s Head. Many school groups visit to find out about the history of the former jail, so the guides are being kept busy, and Nan’s knowledge about the history of Fremantle is amazing..

The Roundhouse was built by free settlers, not convicts, who came to establish the Swan River Colony in 1829, and because of excessive drunkenness, stealing and disorderly behaviour it was decided in 1830 to build the small eight cell jail, which opened in January 1831.

Every day at 1pm the cannon on the gun deck that overlooks Bathers Bay is being fired by a visitor, who receives a certificate, and the time ball above the deck is lowered. The guides who are in charge of firing the cannon need a dangerous goods and a pyrotechnic license, and that costs the not for profit organisation quite a bit of money

It is quite remarkable that fewer than 30 mainly senior volunteers keep the Roundhouse open every day, but for two, of the year. Only on Good Friday and Christmas Day is the museum closed. Volunteers come from as far away as Darlington, Joondalup, Kelmscott and Rockingham, which shows the real dedication and love for the job of talking one on one with people from all over the world.

The Roundhouse guides are often the first port of call for tourists in Fremantle, so they point them to other attractions, the best cafes, fish&chips, bars, concerts, events, etc. and also give them tips for their travels through WA and Australia.

The building is also used for wedding photography, and it has housed night concerts, functions, theatre plays, movies, art exhibitions and other events, etc.

It is a constant battle to keep the Roundhouse open because of the limited guide numbers, as it is difficult to find new volunteers willing to spend a day a week at the old building from 10am to 3.30pm. It is a very positive experience. Most visitors tell the guides how much they love Fremantle and its character heritage buildings.

The Fremantle Volunteer Heritage Guides would love to have more volunteers, so go and have a chat with them!

Roel Loopers



Posted in city of fremantle, heritage, roundhouse, tourism, Uncategorized by freoview on March 23, 2018



The Fremantle Volunteer Heritage Guides, who look after WA’s oldest remaining public building the Roundhouse, are celebrating their 20th anniversary.

It is a remarkable effort and great service to the tourism industry that around forty mainly senior volunteers open the Roundhouse to the public every day of the year, rain or shine, and fire the cannon each day at 1pm. They only close on Good Friday and Christmas Day.

Guides come for their shift from as far as Darlington, Kelmscott, Joondalup and Rockingham and engage mainly on one on one basis with visitors, but also receive many large school group who get a tour.

I have been part of the FVHG for over seven years now and really love engaging with all the international and national visitors, who are 99.99% positive about Fremantle and WA.

FVHG are always looking for new volunteers willing to work for a day each week from 10am to 3.30pm so don’t stay at home and feel bored!

I took these photos while on duty yesterday. We had heaps of visitors from the Golden Princess cruise ship and others from all over the world, including six men from the port city of Gdansk in Poland.

FVHG are at the concept stage for new interpretative displays and it is going to cost a lot of money. We welcome sponsors very much so if you won Lotto on Thursday or win it tomorrow, just send us a big donation please! Thank you!!!

Roel Loopers



Posted in fremantle, roundhouse, tourism by freoview on February 18, 2016

What an absolutely brilliant, positive and interesting day we had at the Fremantle Roundhouse today! It is such a delight to talk with people from all over the world who all love Freo and have got nothing negative to say. Only a few might mention that it is expensive in WA.

Volunteering as tourguide at the state’s oldest public building really makes you appreciate people and how nice, funny and delightful most of them are.

We had school kids from the Manjimup area, groups from Malaysia and Brasil, many German, Dutch, French and Swiss people, and Chinese, Korean, Italian, Belgian, USA, Canadian, Japanese, Ukrainian, Kiwis, English, Scottish, Irish, Aussies from all over the country, and more from elsewhere.

If you are thinking of doing volunteer work, contact the Fremantle Volunteer Heritage Guides and bring international positivity into your life!

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle, heritage, roundhouse by freoview on September 1, 2015

The historic Fremantle Roundhouse is on the road to modernisation. The oldest public building in Western Australia has just embarked on an interpretive design project for new displays with a $ 17.440 grant from Lotterywest, supported with a grant of $ 5,000 from the City of Fremantle. The Fremantle Volunteer Heritage Guides who manage the building also put $ 5,000 of their money toward the process.

The new committee is keen to make the Roundhouse an even better experience for visitors and tourist guides and new office systems are being introduced for on-line bookings for schools, weddings and events.

We are contemplating introducing new uniforms, maybe some night-time openings in summer and improving our services to the tourist industry.

All guides at the Roundhouse are volunteers and we need some more, so if anyone is interested come and introduce yourself  to us. We are open every day of the week from 10.30 am to 3.30 pm.Training is provided. It is one of the most relaxing and positive days to do a shift at the old jail and talk to people from all over the world. I can highly recommend it!

Roel Loopers

ROEL FOR FREO! Truly Independent.


Posted in fremantle, heritage, roundhouse by freoview on July 14, 2015

Roel Loopers at Roundhouse

I am not at all sure I needed more community commitment but I was yesterday unopposed elected as the President of the Roundhouse Fremantle Volunteer Heritage Guides at the AGM.

I am pretty busy already as Vice President of the Fremantle Society and writing this blog but one only lives once and should try to make a difference I believe.

The Fremantle Society has organised with Future Common for Notre Dame University history Professor Deborah Gare to talk this Wednesday July 15 at 1 pm at the teepee of the Winter Garden on the Esplanade about Mary Ann Friend, the first woman to paint Bathers Bay in 1829. It’s a free event and suitable for children, so have your lunch there while listening to this fascinating story.

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle, health&safety, roundhouse by freoview on February 17, 2015

The City of Fremantle has some serious health&safety and public liability worries at the Roundhouse that need to be urgently addressed before someone gets badly hurt. We know of three people who have fallen because parts of the path have broken off and made the surface dangerous, but there might well be more who did not report it. It’s only a matter of time till someone will break an ankle or arm.

Repairs should be a priority at the well-visited tourist destination that attracts hundreds of people every day. The Fremantle Volunteer Heritage Guides who look after the Roundhouse have reported the damage and danger to the COF several times.

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle, roundhouse, tourism by freoview on December 4, 2014

find 1 find 2

I am on my roster day as volunteer tourguide at the Fremantle Round House today. I have been a member of the Fremantle Volunteer Heritage Guides for over 4 years now and have also joined the committee.

They are relaxing Thursdays where I work with Nan, Faye and Steve and where we meet hundreds of international, national and local visitors. It is a lot of fun and a very positive experience because no one has anything bad to say about Freo. Tourists are amazed how well, and how much of our heritage we kept in Fremantle. They love the lifestyle, the weather, the beaches and the blue sky and most of them want to go to the Fishing Boat Harbour and many to Little Creatures.

Some just walk in for a quick look while others stay much longer an ask questions about Fremantle’s history and some are very interested in indigenous issues.

Nan, Faye and I have all traveled throughout Australia, so often we can give tips of where to go, what the best places are, or where to get a good feed.

The Guides are always looking for more volunteers. Less than 40 of us keep the Round House open every day of the year, but Good Friday and Christmas Day, no matter if it is stinking hot, or cold and wet. Last year more than 110,000 people came through the door and visited Western Australia’s oldest public building. We are the ones who activate Arthur Head and we are proud of that. At 1 pm every day we fire the cannon on the deck behind the Round House.

Here some photos of tourists I took yesterday. The couple in the left photo were looking for the Hougoumont Hotel in Bannister Street, so I pointed them in the right direction.

Roel Loopers



Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle by freoview on October 8, 2014

Round House 1



The Fremantle BATHERS BEACH ART PRECINCT  is one-year-old and has failed to do what it set out to do; activate the area. That only comes as a surprise to those naïve Councillors who came up with the flawed concept that artist studios would be huge attractors to the Freo community and tourists. They were never going to be and the small residential heritage Pilot’s Cottages were never going to attract top W.A. artists, simply because they are unsuitable and too dark for studios and too small for serious art galleries.

The BBAC is also always flawed because it tries to incorporate three significantly different areas. There is the top of Arthur Head at Captain’s Lane, the J Shed down at Bathers Beach, and Kidogo Arthouse at the Old Port Project. The historic significance of the area was ignored because some young Councillors decided it would be perfect for an arts precinct. It never was and never will be.

The only business that has worked up at Captain’s Lane is the Glen Cowans Photography Gallery, and one only has to walk in to see why. The place just oozes professionalism and class. This is as good a gallery as one can get in a tiny cottage, with great displays, furniture and outstanding photos, all printed and framed to very high quality. Wander next door though to the Wild Twig artist collective and one is in a different world. Yes, they try hard but they lack the style and class the Cowans gallery has.

Next door to that Mutima tried very hard and had a lovely gallery but their concept was bewildering because they also sold clothes. But at least they did have music and movie events that actually attracted new people to the area.

The Aboriginal Cultural Centre is also struggling to attract sufficient visitors’ numbers to warrant existence and I am not surprised about that. It was always just Wadjela-white people- patronising tokenism to put something as significant as our City’s indigenous centre in a shitty little residential cottage that formerly was the office of the harbour pilots. Our Nyoongar brothers and sisters deserve something much better and more prominent, in a better inner city location, and I feel sorry for the delightful Brendan Moore who is trying to make the Centre a success.

It shows how serious the City of Fremantle is about our Aboriginal Centre that the yearly funding for it is less than the money spent on the once a year four-hour Wardarnji Festival. Appalling!

J Shed at Bathers Beach has housed successful professional artists for over twenty years, so why was there suddenly the eagerness that sculptor Greg James and his artists in residence, and ceramic artist Jenny Dawson and her collaborating artists had to become performers, open to the public? These are professional business people who work throughout the year on public and private art projects worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, but that was not good enough for those who don’t understand the arts industry.

The main attractor at Arthur Head is the Round House, our State’s oldest public building. More than 110,000 people come through the door there every year.

It is kept open by less than 40 Fremantle Volunteer Heritage Guides, who have an office, lunchroom, kitchen and toilet in a small cottage at Mrs Trivett Lane. These mainly elderly volunteers open the Round House-hail or shine-363 days of the year from 10.30 to 3.30 and fire the cannon at 1 pm, but that is not good enough for the COF officers who have told them that to get a new lease on the cottage they will have to share it and one of the rooms of the cottage needs to be activated and opened to the public. Why?!

Before the Bathers Beach Art Precinct started there was 24/7 activation of the area. The Harbour pilots did their day and night shifts, the Crookes family kids brought friends home from Lance Holt school to play on the grass, the family had friends over and barbeques and engaged with passing tourists. Many overseas visitors were introduced by the kids to our local bush tucker when the lilly pilly were in abundance.

The Fremantle Society held their meetings, let other organizations use the cottage, created heritage festival events at Arthur Head, community Boche nights, Australia Day fireworks BBQ, etc. and I lived there as the care-taker, but they, like the Crookes family and Fremantle Port Pilots, were not good enough for the City of Fremantle. The area needed to be reactivated with artists studios, and what a flawed concept that is.

Where are the activation events of BBAP? Where is the art market, why is Wardarnji not held up there but at the Fremantle Arts Centre, why are the community Boche nights in collaboration with FICRA not re-introduced?

Instead of activation of the area we now have a nightly ghost town up there that attracts anti-social behaviour. Most cottages are only open from 11-5 Thursday to Sunday, the Aboriginal Centre is not open on weekends, and on weekdays only from 9am to noon. On the long Queens Birthday weekend only the highly professional Glen Cowans Photo Gallery was open on the Monday, and of course the Round House.

Activation does not happen, it has to be inspired and organised and real money has to be spent by the City of Fremantle to make it work. Why not have a pop-up bar one evening a week as they do in Lemon Lane in Claremont, for example.

The one summer event that really and highly activates the area is the Saturday Bathers Beach Sunset Food Markets. It attracts many thousands of people who are all loving it, and it is of course a private enterprise because at Freo Council they wait and see and do the same old, same old festivals each and every year, and none of these festivals embrace the west end of town with any significance.

I love art and I have been advocating for an indigenous centre in Freo for many years, but unfortunately the Bathers Beach Art Precinct is another one of Council’s  flawed ideas. And now the new silly idea is to put a live music venue and micro-brewery at J Shed. Yep, let’s ignore the heritage significance, yep, let’s ignore it is an art precinct, let’s now try an entertainment precinct instead. Do you have any more bright ideas, Freo-thought bubble-Council?

Roel Loopers

Disclosure: I am a volunteer guide at the Round House and also involved in the Bathers Beach Sunset Food Markets.


Posted in fremantle by freoview on August 24, 2014

Round House 1

The Fremantle Round House, the oldest public building in Western Australia now has its own blog!

The Round House was built as a jail and opened in January 1831. It took less than six months to build. Nowadays one can’t even get planning approval in that time.

The Round House blog is keen to get as much information as possible from all of you. Tell us anecdotes, did you get married there, have you got old photos, do you know of any celebrities who visited, movies and documentaries that were made at Arthur Head, etc. Let me know please by email;

Follow the Round House blog!


Roel Loopers



Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle by freoview on June 18, 2014

Round House 1 Round House 2

The Fremantle Round House is the oldest public building in Western Australia. It attracts more than 100,000 visitors a year to historic Arthur Head, and that is a significant contribution to our city. The tourist attraction would not be open if it wasn’t for the Fremantle Volunteer Heritage Guides who attend seven days a week from 10.30 am to 3.30 pm. They raise and lower the flags and fire the cannon each day at 1 pm. The only days the Round House is closed are Good Friday and Christmas Day.

Most Round House tour guides are retirees, but thankfully some younger people also enjoy having a chat with tourists and tell them about our city’s colourful history. They are people committed to opening the heritage building for overseas and interstate visitors and school groups, no matter how wet and cold, or hot it is.

The former goal opened in 1831, just two years after Captain Fremantle arrived here, and only had eight cells, of which there are four left. You can try out the stocks, or ring the curfew bell. Wander through the Whalers Tunnel to lovely Bathers Beach, and while up there, visit the art galleries and the Aboriginal Cultural Centre.

Firing the cannon is always done by a visitor, under the supervision of a guide with the permits to handle explosives, and the person who fires it receives a certificate.

The guides are always looking for more volunteers, especially those willing to have a great day chatting to tourists on weekends, so contact them if you enjoy people, history, and what always are very positive days, hearing how much visitors like Fremantle.

Fremantle’s West End is a great place to have coffee in some of the lovely cafes, do some shopping and support young designers, or just chill.

Roel Loopers


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