The city of Fremantle needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with new ideas for the failed Bathers Beach Art Precinct concept at historic Arthur Head. It was never a brilliant idea to try to make the historic Pilot’s Cottages into art studios/galleries as it was unlikely it would attract serious professional artists. The Glen Cowans photography gallery is the exception as the only professional outfit at Captain’s Lane, and the Walyalup Centre is basically closed because it has failed.
It is no good to now call for external operators to take over the Aboriginal centre because the COF lacks creativity and innovative new ideas. The tavern idea at J Shed was “applicant driven” by Sunset Events the COF told us, and in the Fremantle Herald today we read the City is fully expecting Sunset Events to take on the lease from July next year although Fremantle Council and the WAPC rejected the tavern and live outdoor music venue. Will we get another “applicant driven” loony out of scale proposal for the heritage precinct that residents, artists and heritage groups will have to fight, just because the City has run out of ideas? That is not good enough!
It is now time for the City to sit down with all the stakeholders before another unacceptable plan is proposed by Sunset Events, so we don’t have to continue the protests and negativity.
It is also time to properly acknowledge the extreme heritage significance and support the Roundhouse volunteers financially for new displays, as they attract over 120,000 visitors a year to the area, and it is time to show more respect for the long-established artists at J Shed who have been taken for granted by the City. They deserve a whole lot better than the my way or the highway attitude by the City of Fremantle!
What Arthur Head needs is improving the heritage features, proper landscaping of the J Shed A Class reserve, a sculpture park and playground, events organised by the COF and artists, a function centre for weddings and events, and a small cafe/bar with alfresco deck to enjoy historic Bathers Bay and the stunning sunsets over the Indian Ocean.
I am happy to be part of a small group to explore new options for Arthur Head. I have intimate knowledge of the area that I have visited daily for 20 years, I lived in one of the old Pilot Cottages for two and a half years, have exhibited there, curated shows, organised events and markets, taught photography, etc. and I have been a volunteer guide at the Roundhouse for eight years and I know every stone and every cave, and I know many of the local residents and small businesses, so talk to me!
Arthur Head is far too significant for Fremantle and Western Australia to just leave it to external organisations who want to make big bucks. We, the community and our elected members should be in charge of the future of one of our state’s most important historic precincts, and not wait for some applicant driven nonsense, so let’s sit down and talk because another backlash and more negativity will be even more divisive for our community!
I went to take some more photos of the demolition of the historic luffing crane on Victoria Quay this morning.
It’s a disappointing sight that is even more concerning when the excuse is that there is an identical crane next to the Maritime Museum, because a source at the museum tells me that the crane is a so-called State asset but the State does not supply the museum with funding to maintain it. This means we could hear the same story in a few years that for safety reasons the cranes at the Maritime Museum also have to be demolished.
I also hear the Maritime Museum suggested to Fremantle Ports to relocate the E Shed crane to a location near A Shed and the museum but that was rejected by Fremantle Ports.
I am sure this is all due to Fremantle Ports’ plans for the development of Victoria Quay and a hotel on the Challenger TAFE site near the South Mole.
When money talks heritage protection has no voice!
Maybe I am just a sentimental old fool but it makes me really sad to watch the demolition of the old luffing crane near the E Shed Markets on Victoria Quay in Fremantle.
It is outrageous that the crane was not offered for sale years ago when Fremantle Ports decided it was going to let it rot and not maintain it. The excuse that it now has to be demolished for safety reasons is rubbish. It could have been put in front of the Shipwreck Museum or at J Shed for example to add another attraction for tourists.
I am all for progress and have nothing against good change, but the disgraceful demolition by neglect in WA needs to stop, or we’ll soon see the old George Hotel in East Fremantle go down for “safety” reasons as well.
If we don’t respect our past we have no hope in hell creating a better future!
Work on the demolition of the old luffing crane next to the E Shed Markets in Fremantle Port will start this week and that is a real shame.
The Babcock and Wilcox crane is now beyond repair according to Fremantle Ports, and that is no surprise as they have neglected it and did not maintain it for years. Demolition by neglect is nothing new when it comes to the heritage of our state.
I could imagine this crane painted in great colours and the silhouette lit up at night with lots of small lights all along it making a great feature at the proposed new Victoria Quay development. A stunning artwork that would have stood out at night and during the day.
No one seems to have long-term vision for anything. On the hop and give it the chop is how this state is run. Very disappointing!
Fremantle is in for more Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with Sunset Events director David Chitty telling the Fremantle Herald that his company will challenge the refusal for a tavern and live outdoor music venue at J Shed on Bathers Beach by the WA Planning Commission at the State Administrative Tribunal.
Chitty admits though that it is unlikely they will win at SAT, but Sunset Events would then consider getting approval from the City of Fremantle for a scaled down version. One can assume this would be for the much lower patron numbers the City of Fremantle approved two years ago.
It looks like the Fremantle west end residents, heritage groups, Fremantle Ports and J Shed artists will have to continue their fight against this madness for a long while to come, and with the inconsistent decision-making record of Fremantle Council one cannot even start to guess the outcome. Playing Lotto is more predictable than Fremantle Council decisions.
I don’t know if the director responsible for the Fremantle Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre does not know what she is talking about or if she deliberately mislead Council and the community when she answered a question from a Councillor at the last Ordinary Council meeting about the changing opening hours of the centre at Arthur Head.
She claimed the opening times were only adjusted to reflect the seasonal program of the centre and that it would open 4-5 hours less a week, but that is not true. The centre used to be open Monday-Saturday 10 am to 2 pm, so 24 hours a week compared to just seven hours this week!
This sign on the door clearly shows the WACC is now only open for a mere 7 hours this week and less than nine hours next week, and not open at all on Fridays, Mondays or Sundays. It was not open today either.
The WACC is part of the Bathers Beach Art Precinct where artists are required to be open a minimum of 20 hours a week to help activate the area, but the WACC, that costs Fremantle ratepayer more than $ 160,000 a year, is open to the public for less than half of that time. If my maths are correct that means WACC is now only open a maximum of 416 hours a year at a cost of $ 385.00 per hour while offering no tourist service.
The WACC was closed all day today while the Roundhouse had a steady stream of visitors, including school groups, so no Aboriginal experience for those visitors today and none tomorrow either.
It is quite clear that the WACC in its present format is a failure and the COF should not put the ball in someone else’s court and hope an Aboriginal organisation will come up with a better concept. The City made the decision to put the WACC in the inappropriate small Pilot’s Cottage and now has to admit they were wrong and that the location does not work.
It is time to move on some of the highly paid administrators at COF who have no creative bone in their body, and get some new blood into the system and brilliant creative new ideas for the Bathers Beach Art Precinct. The same, same old boring s..t just does not work, and putting spin over it and telling Council and the public porkies is not on!
The ruling by the WA Planning Commission against a tavern and live outdoor music venue at J Shed should encourage the City of Fremantle and the local community to come together and find better ways of activating Arthur Head, as the changes made by the City have not been successful.
There have been very good ideas talked about for many years, so maybe it is time to listen to the resident artists at J Shed, the volunteer heritage guides at the Roundhouse and local residents.
One impressive way would be to extend the boardwalk from Kidogo Arthouse, the former kerosene store, to J Shed and create a historic walk with significant heritage signs about the whaling station, limestone quarry and Mews fishing industry, and link it with the Maritime Museum and the harbour where thousands of migrants arrived by ship. This would also make the connection from the present port to the historic long jetty ‘port’ just south of Kidogo.
Add to that a sculpture park and small children’s playground in front of J Shed and make the No 1 studio a cafe and art gallery with function availability for weddings, etc. A small alfresco deck to watch the Indian Ocean will no doubt attract locals and tourists alike.
It should also be contemplated if it is a viable move to relocate the Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre, but it would need to have a tourism priority with music and dancing for cruise ship passengers and the sale of Aboriginal art and craft and maybe even bushtucker.
When we talk about activating the area we should keep in mind that already 120,000 people a year come to visit the Roundhouse, so we need to offer them something else so they’ll linger longer. A combination of history and art, plus a small hospitality outlet will no doubt help the activation.
The Roundhouse guides are also in the process of getting all new modern, interactive interpretive displays in the cells and power will be connected to the oldest public building in the state. That will create the opportunity of doing special night events and tours during the warmer months. That would help to activate the ghost town Arthur Head is at night at present and stop homeless people from invading the old Pilots Cottages.
The Pilots Cottages need another form of activation as the present occupants do very little to attract visitors to the area with their abstract paintings, so maybe it is time to let go off the art precinct idea up at Captain’s Lane and make it more of a tourist shopping destination, selling Freo T-shirts, craft, art and souvenirs, but ideally there should be 24/7 activity that discourages anti social behaviour at Arthur Head. The Glen Cowans underwater photo gallery is a highly visible and professional presence next to the Roundhouse and should be emulated to achieve high quality offerings to tourists and local Fremantle people.
I also still believe a Saturday morning art and craft market in front of J Shed would attract a lot of people, so let’s have a public debate about this, listen, learn, collaborate, create, and make Arthur Head THE go to part of Fremantle for visitors and locals. Together we can do it!
If there is one single thing at the City of Fremantle that annoys and frustrates me most it is the lack of consistency in decision making.
Yesterday I almost blew up when I was told the Roundhouse volunteer guides were informed the City has not allowed for $ 10,000 in this year’s budget to accommodate power supply to the Roundhouse, so that the $ 200,000 interpretive and interactive display project can get started and funding can be applied for from Lotterywest and elsewhere.
Last year the guides spent $ 30,000 on designers for the new displays and all would be ready to go but for the lack of electricity. ($ 20,000 came from Lotterywest, $ 5,000 from COF and $ 5,000 from the Guides).
If you want a solar parklet in Wray Avenue that lights up at night in a street no one frequents after dark because the cafes and shops are closed, the City has $ 20,000 readily available under its One Planet funding, the same if you want to grow mushrooms out of recycled coffee, or anything else that got the word sustainable, solar, wind, or green in its application..
The City is happy to put $ 200,000 a year in the Walyalup Centre at Arthur Head that has failed to attract many people and it is happy to subsidise Sunday painters in two cottages at Captain’s Lane, but one of the most highly visible and visited tourist destinations of Fremantle can’t secure a mere $ 10,000 to make a visit to the Roundhouse modern, interactive, multi-lingual and even more memorable.
We have heard for far too many years that the City of Fremantle wants to activate Arthur Head and the West End of Town, but the successful brand Roundhouse that gets over 120,000 visitors a year- we count every single one who enters!- can’t get a tiny bit of funding to put power inside. No worries though to accommodate an absolutely inappropriate tavern at J Shed, COF will grant your delivery trucks access through the historic Whalers Tunnel, or along the coastal tourist path at Bathers Beach, or even put a lift down Mrs Trivett Lane.
Fremantle City has no qualms constantly giving concessions, rent reductions, etc. to highly profitable events on the Esplanade, but a non for profit volunteer organisation that keeps the oldest public building in WA open every day of the year with mainly elderly volunteers, can get stuffed and wait a while, so that the costs will rise until the project becomes unaffordable.
So what if the heritage budget does not have the $ 10,000? It is not a heritage issue but a tourist one! Tourism is a huge industry in WA and the highest employer in the state, even above the mining industry, so give the Guides funding from the economic and marketing department budget, or whatever. Be flexible because we provide a service to visitors to Fremantle that costs the City next to nothing. The annual salary of one single director at COF would pay for the power and all the new displays, so maybe it’s time to do some pruning. It’s spring soon.
Sometimes I get so furious that I want to run into the Townhall, grab a few people, kick arse and yell GET YOUR BLOODY ACT TOGETHER AND YOUR PRIORITIES RIGHT!!!!
No criticism, just hoping the City of Fremantle will be able to repair these fences at the back of the historic Roundhouse asap as they are a public health hazard.
Hundreds of people, and a lot of the kids and school students, walk along this path every day. The rusty and sharp chicken wire has come detached from the wooden fences and sticks out and is dangerous to those who walk by.
Could we also see the return of a needle container as I yet again picked up a used drug needle just next to the public toilets at Arthur Head this morning. There used to be one of those safe needle containers on the wall of that toilet, but when I looked for it this morning it was no longer there.
Thanks you Freo City!