Fremantle Council will consider this Wednesday if they should start a six-months process for a Noongar ‘Eldership’ to come up with a concept for the Beach Street building at the East Street jetty, that will be vacated by DADAA soon.
The issue for me is that I hear that this time a different group of Noongars will be consulted than those who were involved with the Walyalup Centre and I believe that is a problem.
It seems to me that the City of Fremantle is putting the cart before the horse and have already decided on this one location, when there is not even a proper concept of what the local Aboriginal people want and need, and what they want might be better somewhere else.
I know Fremantle Council’s heart is in the right place but for me it smells a wee bit of patronising tokenism as the Wadjelas are generously offering a space that might not be suitable at all for the Noongars, as is the case with the present Walyalup Centre at Arthur Head, that has failed for many reasons that have yet all to be assessed.
Why not have a proper and inclusive process managed by the Aboriginal South West Land Council, instead of selectively including and excluding certain families in the decision-making for a new Aboriginal cultural community centre?
Why not find out first if the Noongar people want a community centre as a meeting place for themselves, or if they want a Noongar showcase for tourists that could generate income through the sale of art and events, or a combination of both.
Why restrict the Noongars to only the one location at Beach Street when maybe a nature-based location would be better for them in Booyeembarra Park or out of town. Maybe a bigger bush project where Fremantle collaborates with Cockburn could be an option?
To me it feels too much like dogooders wanting a feel-good process instead of a best-outcome based one where Noongar people will take on ownership of the new centre and manage and run it autonomously.
What we should want for our Whadjuk Noongar people is the very best cultural centre, not just any space that is available.
Local Noongar people created a moving end to the Fremantle Sculpture@Bathers show at Bathers Beach by setting fire at sunset to the Jarrah tree installation by Replants artist Bruce Abbott.
The heavy afternoon rain made the trees too wet to go up in blazing glory, but there was a stunning sunset, a rainbow and a lot of people interested in Noongar culture.
There was also a celebration of the Labor election win and the protection of the Beeliar Wetlands.
Come and celebrate the massive Labor win with great music from the Kimberley at the Fremantle Arts Centre from 2-4 pm.
Family Shoveller Band draw you into life in Bidyadanga, one of the largest Aboriginal communities in the Kimberley, with their joyous country, rock, ska and reggae party anthems.
First up are stories from deep in the Western Desert from the Irrunytju Band (WA).
And there is more Aboriginal culture at the Sculpture@Bathers show at 6 pm when the 35 Jarrah trees will be burnt by Replants artist Bruce Abbott and people of the Noongar community.
The future of the DADAA building at Beach Street opposite the East Street Jetty will not be known for at least half a year if the FPOL Committee of the City of Fremantle decides this Wednesday to allow an ‘Eldership’ of Noongar people to explore options for an Aboriginal cultural centre there that would replace the unsuccessful Walyalup centre at Arthur’s Head.
The agenda item seeks Council’s consideration to support a process by a local group of Noongar Elders to develop a proposal to enable them to be in a position to seek access via a lease to the 21 Beach Street, Fremantle site for their purposes.
It is proposed that the ‘Eldership’ be given adequate time by delaying an Expression of Interest process for the lease of the building for a period of up to six months and that the local group be empowered to undertake any necessary community engagement and work to develop a proposal for consideration.
City officers recommend that up to $20,000 be made available to the group to support that process, including for the use of consultants or resources that may be required.
I am very disappointing that Brendan Moore the City of Fremantle manager of the Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Arthur’s Head believes my criticism of the centre was directed at him.
I just bumped into him and he called me an arsehole and was extremely irate so it was not the right time to have a conversation with him about it.
But since my observations and criticsm of the centre were public on this blog I also want to stress again, as I have done previously, that my concerns are not with Brendan Moore but with the piecemeal handling and tokenism of Fremantle Council.
I have from the very beginning warned that the small pilot’s cottage was inappropriate for an Aboriginal centre and I questioned the lack of concept and focus of the centre.
Did the City want it to be an Aboriginal experience for overseas visitors or did they want it to be a community hub for our Noongar people? No one knows, so now they want to move the centre to the DADAA building at the East Street jetty without making it clear what they want to achieve. Brendan Moore is not to blame for that but Fremantle Councillors and Moore’s superiors are!
There is no doubt a huge challenge of getting local Aboriginal people working together because of the many family feuds and I can imagine Moore’s frustration about that as well.
Fremantle Council needs to stop feel-good tokenist gestures toward the Aboriginal people and put more substance into creating a true cultural centre, or even two. One for tourism and one a community meeting hub for Noongars.
None of my criticism was aimed at Brendan Moore and that is why I did not mention him by name before.
If Brendan feels I have personally attacked him I apologise for that as that was not at all my intention. I like Brendan. He is a good, professional and funny bloke. Kaya!
The annual BROOME TO BICTON concert with the famous Aboriginal Kimberley band Pigram Brothers is on again this Saturday February 18 from 4.30 pm.
It is at Quarantine Park just above the Bicton Bath on the Swan River.
Bring a picnic for this fun family events that will be held for the 15th time this year, so it has become a great tradition.
If the City of Fremantle is serious about an Aboriginal cultural centre in Fremantle it has to stop the tokenism and invest money and get expert advise on how to provide an Aboriginal experience for overseas visitors.
It is known from tourism surveys that many visitors complain about the lack of opportunities to meet Aboriginal people and engage with them and get to know more about their culture and history.
I don’t like to say it, but I told you so when I still lived at Captain’s Lane that the Walyalup Centre in a tiny old cottage was never going to work. Even Councillor Rachel Pemberton said at the FPOL committee meeting this week that Councillors knew the cottage at Arthur Head would not be perfect but it was a case of better something than nothing.
In my opinion it was also not going to work because of the wrong choice of personnel to manage the centre. The cultural centre needs someone who knows how to engage with tourists, who knows how to run an art gallery and who knows how to come up with and manage events. The Aboriginal liaison officer of the City of Fremantle is not that kind of person, no matter how likeable he is and how good he is at the job he was employed for. It is unfair to expect him to run the centre and it is not his failure but that of the administration who put him in charge. I am sure his job description when he applied for the position did not mention managing a cultural centre .
A totally different energy and knowledge base is needed to run a cultural centre than the one needed to liaise between a Wadjela administration and the Whadjuk Noongar community.
If the Walyalup Centre was to be moved it should be to the No 1 studio at J Shed that was wrongly and stupidly leased to Sunset Events to create a tavern and outdoor music centre.
If the Noongar community is not against a centre at Arthur Head this is the right location because it has a large outdoor area suitable for music and dance events and story telling, while the large space of J Shed allows for serious Aboriginal art exhibitions and events that might help fund the centre and even make it self-funding over time.
Wishy-Washy Fremantle City governance and inconsistencies are to blame for the mess the Bathers Beach Art Precinct is, because there is a serious lack of quality control and lack of a real concept for the area.
Up at Captain’s Lane the City has created a night-time ghost town that has attracted anti social behaviour (I told them so!), while it has created day-time mediocrity, with the exception of the excellent and professional Glen Cowans underwater photography.
The Walyalup centre could enhance the historic, cultural and art aspect of the area and tell the Noongar stories, and the impact of British settlement and about the connection of the area to the horrendous indigenous Rottnest Island Quod prison where so many Aboriginal men died.
To do that the City needs to go through a process of consultation, expert advise and contracting the right people to run a centre of significance that will attracts many thousands of visitors each year, help activate Arthur Head and will allow the proud Noongar history to be told by our first nation people. To continue as it is in any location will be a failure that the Noongar community does not deserve.
Fremantle’s JAPINGKA GALLERY in High Street is having new exhibitions which will open tomorrow Friday the 10th of February at 6.30 pm.
In Gallery 1, Gunditjmara artist, Kurun Warun creates beautiful and striking paintings of his culture and environment, using colours that reflect natural resources and cultural body markings.
The Gunditjmara people hail from around Portland and Lake Condah regions in Victoria (between Warrnambool and Mount Gambier in the lake country to the west of Melbourne).
In Gallery 2, Tanami Desert Artists – Yuendumu & Nyirripi is an exceptional and varied exhibition of colour and stories by an acclaimed group of Warlpiri artists which is held in association with the Warlukurlangu Art Centre.
Warlpiri artists from Yuendumu in the very remote Tanami Desert were amongst the first community groups to take up the desert art movement that spread from Papunya. In fact the senior men of the community established a Museum for their cultural artefacts in 1971, at a similar time when the Papunya artists began to record the first stories painted on murals and then on boards.
The powerful artistic traditions from this remote Community (some 290 kilometres north east from Alice Springs) which were already established by artists such as both Maggie and Judy Watson Napangardi continue to grow and develop with the artists’ distinctive love of and use of colour a strong identifying element of their remarkable artistic tradition.
Both Exhibitions open 6.30pm Friday 10th February, and run daily until 29th March, 2017. Admission is Free. Japingka Gallery, 47 High Street Fremantle. Open 7 Days.
It is the last day of the first month of the new year and what a month it has been. It was the wettest January since 2010 and we had the hottest Australia Day since 1979.
We also had the most controversial Australia Day ever in Fremantle and the most inspiring Nyoongar smoking ceremony and One Day in Freo concert.
And we are witnessing one of the most distressing demolitions of pristine nature at the Beeliar Wetlands.
So here some golden oldies of rain to remind us all that we live in a unique place here in Freo!
While the City of Fremantle has been contemplating how to activate historic Arthur’s Head, long time occupants are already doing it well and appropriately.
Yesterday we had a huge crowd at the Roundhouse for the Nyoongar smoking ceremony and for the last weeks we had sell-out performances inside the Roundhouse in the evenings for the Out of the Cave Fringe Festival show. See the photo above I took last night at 7.45 pm.
Great also that Glen Cowans opened his underwater photography gallery next to the Roundhouse early at 9 am yesterday during the smoking ceremony!
Down the road at J Shed the number 2, 3 and 4 galleries with Greg James, Janet Nixon, Jina Lee, Lesley Barret, Jenny Dawson, Peter Zuvela, Ross Potter and Ellen McCarthy are all involved in activation. Sculptures are on the reserve, exhibitions are organised, there are programs for school children during the holidays and a real engagement with the community.
Interesting that one Freo Councillor said to me yesterday that when the Roundhouse puts new displays up we need to acknowledge the Nyoongar people, and that is already planned. But we are waiting for the City to put power into the Roundhouse so we can start applying for grants and it would also be a very good idea for the City to allocate a substantial amount of money for that to support the volunteer organisation. We are looking after over 130,000 visitors a year, seven days a week and only close on Good Friday and Christmas Day, so we are a significant tourist destination.
At the smoking ceremony four of the elderly Roundhouse guides came in very early to support the event. Pretty bloody good I reckon, and two of them were on duty every night for the theatre performance!