I noticed this heritage sign near the Fremantle Prison yesterday and am wondering why duplicates of it are not placed around Fremantle, especially at historic Arthur Head and Western Australia’s oldest public building the Roundhouse.
It is disappointing that the owners of the Fremantle Markets pub have called it a day because of a steep 38 per cent rent increase by the Murdoch family who operate the markets. The pub was a bit of an iconic go-to destination for many Freo locals and regular visitors to the markets and it is a shame that the financial bottom line mattered more to the market operators than the pub’s historic tradition and community aspects.
The word greed is mentioned a few times on Facebook by disgruntled supporters of the pub and while every business has got the right to maximise profits they also have a corporate responsibility to the community. There is still huge resentment in some parts of the Fremantle community that the Murdochs were given the lease for the markets by the City of Fremantle and some people also resent the changes and modernisation of the historic markets.
I believe the markets have improved with a much better food hall, so it is a shame that the closure of the pub will see more negativity popping up.
Fremantle artist Ross Potter‘s latest exhibition As Is will open this Friday at the Moores Contemporary Art Space in Henry Street.
Ross’ detailed large graphite drawings of historic buildings explore the impact of the creative world on Freo’s heritage buildings and how they can transform a structure’s identity.
Ross works full-time out of the PSArt Space in Pakenham Street and his exhibition will be opened at 6 pm Friday November 13 by Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt. The show will be on display till November 22 from 10am to 4 pm daily.
It is always good when Fremantle receives positive media coverage but I do agree with former Fremantle Herald and now WA Today reporter Brendan Foster that the placing of Freo as one of the top ten tourism destinations in the world is flabbergasting, and so are some of the other top ten choices. Maybe the Looney, err, Lonely Planet judge enjoyed a bit too much of our great WA wine or readily available dope while here.
I love Freo, that’s why I moved here 25 years ago, and my love for this special city has only grown since, but so has my frustration. But is Fremantle a better tourist experience than Berlin, Rome, Barcelona, Prague, Bratislava, Vienna, Amsterdam, Split, Hvar, Paris, the Kimberley, Coral Bay, Hamburg, Vancouver, Leipzig, New York, Venice, Colombo, Bangkok, etc.etc? I think not.
But what Fremantle has to offer is special, our Street Art Festival, Blues&Roots, Festival Parade, Blessing of the Fleet, the Bathers Beach Sunset Food Markets and Growers Green Market, the working port, the Swan River and the Indian Ocean, to name just a few.
There is enough beauty and quirkiness that makes Freo unique. There is a lot of heritage, lifestyle and character underneath the superficial first impression of a tired uncared for city to make it work for me and many thousands of people who visit each year.
We have Bread in Common, Strange Company, Mojos, The Mantle, Little Creatures, Mrs Brown, Bib&Tucker, the Moore&Moore, PS Art Space, the Fremantle Arts Centre, great beaches to watch kite surfers, and we have that sameness comfort of too many Italian cafes. What we don’t have is cobblestones along High Street west and the Cappuccino Strip, although that would definitely slow down traffic and make the streets look a whole lot better than boring bitumen, and we only have one outstanding modern building in the Maritime Museum. And we have outdated and archaic drinking laws where it is illegal to have a romantic sunset glass of wine with your lover on the beach.
The majority of the over 100,000 a year visitors to the Roundhouse tell us guides how special and beautiful Fremantle is and they often compare it with boring Perth, so Freo does well in that comparison, but with all these kind of silly lists of most liveable, most attractive, best tourism cities, etc. it all comes down to personal taste, and that it is impossible to judge what the best tourist destination in the world is. Is wild water rafting in Africa less attractive than swimming with the whales at Coral Bay, is experiencing the silent beauty of the Bungles better than the great historic feel of ancient cities? Who would want to be a judge on that?
What Lonely Planet did is basically the same silliness as those who claim Australia is the best place on earth. There is not such a thing as the best place, or best person, best artist, as it is all very subjective and comes down to personal taste.
I want Fremantle to be attractive to tourists, but I don’t want it to become one of the major tourist destinations in the world because tourism kills local character, as we can witness in Bali and all over the world. Freo is just Freo. Individual, unique, untidy, irreverent, far from perfect, very loveable and extremely annoying. It’s the place where I want to live till I die.
The temporary two-year live music events proposal at historic Arthur Head by Sunset Events depends very much on Fremantle Ports. The West Australian reports today that the organisers have met with Port management to iron out details and to see if FP would grant them access to Fleet Street for deliveries.
The latest info is that the first event planned is a two-day concert on the Australia Day long weekend on the 24th and 25th of January, so that would be a good test to see what works and what doesn’t, and how/if it will effect the West End of Fremantle with noise, parking and anti-social behaviour issues. There are also serious concerns about the effect live concerts could have on the tourist operation of the Roundhouse and on the many weekend weddings in the area.
I need to stress though that my concerns are not with Sunset Events, who are very good event organisers. I like the Blues&Roots and Laneway festivals and I hope the Drillhall-former Fly by Night- will become and outstanding music venue for Fremantle, but in my opinion Arthur Head is just not the right location for live outdoor concerts.
I still believe Fremantle Council made the wrong decision recommending approval of the project to the WA Planning Commission and I hope the proposal will be stopped by the WAPC because of the concerns of heritage groups, residents, Fremantle Ports and others. 76 out of 78 submissions to the City of Fremantle were against the proposal!
Fremantle’s Kidogo Arthouse at Bathers Beach has installed a large deck for outdoor events and functions and that comes as a bit of a surprise as we were waiting for toilets to be built to re-open the lovely Kelp Bar there.
I am not sure what plans owner Joanna Robinson has and if she is only going to apply for the occasional events liquor license, so time will tell. It is definitely a fantastic spot for small music events, wedings and to watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean.
I received information that Sunset Events has withdrawn its application for a liquor license for eight live outdoor concerts at Fremantle’s historic Arthur Head during the summer months. Instead it has applied for a one off event in January only, which is likely to be Australia Day.
This is a puzzling development and one can only assume the application withdrawal is because Fremantle Ports is strongly opposed to the idea of 1,000 people coming to concerts at Arthur Head and has rejected that Sunset Events use Fleet Street, which is the only access road to J Shed.
The temporary two-year events license granted by the City of Fremantle received strong opposition from heritage groups and local residents but Council approved it because it believes it will activate the west end of Fremantle.
It would be rather ironic if the only event by Sunset Event this summer would be on Australia Day when the west of the city is already packed with people for the fireworks and celebrations on the Esplanade anyway. A licensed and fenced-off concert would have a severe and negative impact on the celebrations as it would deny people access to one of the very popular vantage points at Bathers Beach and create more parking problems in the area.
The 12 events per year license would still need to be approved by the WA Planning Commission anyway so maybe it has now been put in the too hard basket by Sunset Events because of the Fremantle Ports access denial.
The Fremantle Esplanade Reserve has not looked this good for many years and the challenge for the City is now to keep it that way and don’t let the expensive surface upgrade be destroyed by too many large events.
It is also important to get the new Masterplan for the Esplanade right, and also the one for historic Princess May Park.
Connectivity and way finding are the buzz words that have substituted placemaking, and instead of looking well after our parks we are getting so called parklets with a few plants.
Planned paths through the Esplanade and Princess May should not be the cheap and common concrete ones but creative paving, maybe even some cobblestone at Pioneer Park?
I do understand that we all want to keep our green areas but I also accept that in our hot climate large grass areas are difficult to maintain and need a lot of water. There is a need for compromise and that should be more trees, more shade for people, more protection from the sun for grass, and trees and large bushes create a nicer overall amenity than just vast areas of lawn.
It did cost a hell of a lot of money to make the Esplanade look great again, so let’s see if it will be protected better or if the City of Fremantle just wasted ratepayers’ money by letting it be damaged again.