Freo's View


Posted in fremantle by freoview on November 20, 2012

While I always try to be positive and look for common ground it is often difficult not to smirk about the City of Fremantle’s Fawlty Towers like performance where it appears common to put the cart before the horse and do things the wrong way around. Some City officers call it planning I understand.

Let us scrutinise recent hiccups and money wasting lack of coordination and planning.

We have been watching the far from perfect Old Port Project at Bathers Beach affecting the commercial viability of Kidogo Art House because of a dustbowl in front of the gallery. It looks like the gallery will close until a solution has been found and a new surface put down, ideally grass, but paving will do as well. New lights on the boardwalk and around the area are still not working, while the heavy wooden sun lounges created a public hazard, the wrong kind of rubbish bins were installed, etc.

At Arthur Head maintenance of the historic buildings has been a shambles for years and can be called pure neglect, to the point that sculptor Greg James initiated a community project of getting Colourific to paint the J Shed for free, worth an estimated $ 25,000.

The blanket approach by council to make an art hub out of Arthur Head met with huge resistants from existing tenants worried about eviction from the run down buildings and it now appears after trying to find a management team for the project it will be watered down and be managed internally by the City. If the project goes ahead as planned it will make a night time ghost town out of Arthur Head, which will see a rise in vandalism and anti-social behaviour on the hill.

The art hub idea finally forced council to get the heritage architect to have a look at the historic buildings and hey guess what, the City has now appointed a very expensive consultant to check out all the buildings and advise the city on what maintenance and renovations need to be done before they can go ahead with the art hub. Why can’t the heritage department do that? An expert told me the renovations are going to be in the millions, money that has not been budgeted for or allocated to the area. This is again a cart before the horse approach by Fremantle council.

Still at Arthur Head. Seating has been promised for the Round House area for a long time now, but nothing happened, so Glen Cowans took the initiative and put colourful tables and chairs next to his photography gallery where grateful tourists make eager use of them. Where are the ones the City promised?

Resurfacing of the Cappuccino Strip was a farce with pavers ripped out, to be replaced for only three days with bitumen, that was then ripped out to be replaces with pavers again. What a waste of money. Is that what Freo’s Basil Fawlty calls planning?

Every two years the City signs a Memorandum of Understanding with Notre Dame University but it does not see much action. Badly needed street activation is now going to a two year consideration period, so nothing will happen there for a years to come. Why have an MOU if it doesn’t achieve anything?

Planning Scheme Amendment 49 lacks vision and real planning with no traffic studies, no allocation of public open spaces, unrealistic plans for residential dwellings without car bays, and the also unrealistic dream that Freo will have lightrail in the foreseeable future. The latter won’t happen for another 20 years unless the City gets a private operator for it, which is highly unlikely for such a costly project.

While the city talks about the very good idea of reducing cars in the inner city, it is unwilling to close the Cappuccino Strip on weekends, or make it one way only to accommodate safer bike paths and better amenity for those using the alfresco areas of cafes along the strip.

Framing Freo artworks were removed from Kings Square after ten days because of safety and liability issues. Why wasn’t due diligence done before the project with the responsible officers checking if the works were suitable for the location? Why waste people’s time on a David Engwicht inspired project?

I could go on, as there are many more examples of mediocrity at the City’s administration, but unless the elected members bite the bullet and are brave enough to get rid of Basil, we will have to endure more bad and unacceptable Fawlty Towers kind of work from the city.

Maybe our only hope is that council amalgamations next year will improve the performance of the City of Fremantle. But voting Liberal to achieve that is not something I support.

Roel Loopers



Posted in fremantle by freoview on September 14, 2012

I am astonished about the negativity surrounding the proposal for a Saturday market at Fremantle‘s Bathers Beach I read on the Kidogo Art House Facebook page. The proposal comes from very professional and experienced market operators who have run the very well attended and loved Growers Green Sunday Market at South Fremantle Senior High School for quite some time.

So what are the issues according to Freo Ramble?

* Food stalls operating on black concrete are seen as a health hazard. Why? They could not operate on grass according to health regulations.

* Rubbish removal. Has not been a problem at Growers Green and is surely the responsibility of the market operators, so not an issue

* Crushed limestone whipped up by wind, affecting food. Food requires to be covered. Markets all over the world cope with wind, sand, etc. so why is this a problem at Bathers Beach?

* There has been no consultation with surrounding businesses. Not good and that should have been done! I’d hope they would embrace it as it bring people to the area.

* The Old Port Project is far from completed. CoF is aware of the issues. They have been told by FICRA, this Freo’s View blog and the Fremantle Society, so things will hopefully be improved soon. But what has that got to do with a once a week Saturday market?

It is an occurring Fremantle problem that when people want to make things happen, others who always complain that nothing is happening, will be against it.

I believe a Bathers Beach market would be very good to start the revitalisation of the West End, something traders and residents have been asking for for years.

City Ward Councillor Rachel Pemberton has been very active and pro-active and does not deserve to be blamed for the Old Port Project imperfections. As a councillor she has only got one vote and she can not direct City officers to do any tasks, so the implied criticism of her by the Rambler is pretty unfair.

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle by freoview on September 12, 2012

The operators of the very successful Growers Green Market  have applied to the City of Fremantle for a license to operate a market at Bathers Beach near Kidogo Art House on Saturdays from 11 am to 6 pm to cater for residents and tourists.

The proposal is for a mix of an international food market and stalls selling clothing, art, furniture and other goods. Children’s entertainment will also be provided to make it a family fun day full of social activities and community participation.

I hope council will approve this proposal as it is a great idea and the West End is desperately in need of some activation. The Fremantle Doctor (the wind, not the blog!) could create havoc at times, but I am sure the experienced market people will have a solution for that.

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle by freoview on September 7, 2012

The foundation of the BATHERS BEACH ART PRECINCT a month ago was a very positive step by the artists to take their future in their own hands. Within days photographer Glen Cowans had created a website for the group while photographer Peter Zuvela started a Facebook page for the little art community in the most historic part of Fremantle.

I believe the blend of art, history and culture will do well for marketing the area as something unique, and the fact that it is straight at the only inner city beach is a huge plus.

There are many people who have lived in Fremanle for many years who still have not discovered Arthur Head, its historic buildings and artists like Glen Cowans, ceramist Jenny Dawson and her photographer partner Peter Zuvela, the wood working artists, sculptor Greg James and Joanna Robinson’s Kidogo Art House. Often these artists collaborate with indigenous and overseas artists, but they have flown a bit under the radar up to now.

Last night’s group meeting was full of creative forward looking ideas, getting involved with BID, printing DL flyers, etc. so one has to question why the City of Fremantle sees the need for a blanket approach of having outsiders managing the area. All Arthur Head needs is good maintenance of the heritage buildings, new and better signage linking the area to Victoria Quay and the Fishing Boat Harbour, a new road surface in front of J Shed and an upgrade of the beach front. All things the City has to do, so why pay good money to an arts management group? Making the Bathers Beach Art Precinct group their own BID might be a better idea, or letting the City of Fremantle BID group manage Arthur Head could be a better solution.

With the enthusiasm of the art practitioners there it will not take much to revitalise the area. As I have written before, a weekend market would be a good start , as would be the creation of a cafe, wine bar and function centre for weddings. KELP the winebar as Kidogo is still under consideration for re-opening and a night market in the Whalers Tunnel or Round House would be a fantastic initiative.

Soon J Shed will be painted for free by Colourific , so time for the City to throw some money at the place and make necessary improvements.

I hope the positive Bathers Beach Art Precint energy will colour off on the West End Traders group, who seem to lack energy and initiative to move things forwards. If they don’t hurry up High Street will be left behind once again.

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle by freoview on September 2, 2012

What a gorgeous day it was in Fremantle yesterday!

Have a great Father’s Day all you dads out there. Have fun with the kids!

Roel Loopers

click on photos to enlarge




Posted in fremantle by freoview on August 21, 2012

The City of Fremantle is inviting Expressions of Interest (EOI) from organisations, groups, or individuals for the management of Arthur Head as an arts precinct. The best way of finding out what is required is to go to the City’s website and do a search or call Marisa Spaziani at CoF.

The management of Arthur Head includes Kidogo Art House, all of Captain’s Lane and Mrs Trivet Lane, as well as the J Shed on Bathers Beach.

This project needs highly creative and professional people, not a mob of Sunday hobby painters looking for cheap studio spaces. We are hoping for markets, events, a cafe/bar/restaurant, fun, community involvement, tourist attraction, indigenous involvement.

Roel Loopers

City of Fremantle is looking for creative people to make Arthur Head into Art Head


Posted in fremantle by freoview on August 6, 2012

The Fremantle BATHERS BEACH ART PRECINCT was established last Monday and already photographer Glen Cowans has put a website together for the group. It is still a work in progress while Glen is waiting for more photos and information, but check it out and bookmark it for future reference:

The art hub on the shore of the Indian Ocean has a lot of potential and is in dire need of revitalisation, so good on the artists for taking the initiative and creating the BBAP.

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle by freoview on August 3, 2012

The fences are finally gone around the Fremantle Old Port Project historic interpretation at Bathers Beach and it is definitely an improvement. There are showers and seats, there is grass and the boardwalk, while the mausoleum hut is still fenced off as the artwork inside is not ready.

The one thing I don’t like at all is the barren patch of gravel straight in front of the Kidogo Art House. It looks cheap, unfinished and awful and will create a dust bowl that will blow dust all over the artworks inside the galleries. The City of Fremantle has allocated quite a bit of money for Bathers Beach and Arthur Head, so hopefully the dust bowl can either become grass or some creative paving.

Roel Loopers



Posted in fremantle by freoview on June 29, 2012

Last evening at Kidogo Art House at Fremantle‘s Bathers Beach was very special. Kidogo had two experts talking about Mary Ann Friend, who probably painted the first impressions of Fremantle, the Swan River Colony, in 1830 and included them in her journal. The journal will be auctioned by Christies in London later this year and is expected to sell for a quarter of a million dollars.

The cosy gallery space was packed with people and the talks by Christies director Nicholas Lambourn and Notre Dame University historian Deborah Gare were fascinating, as they transferred us back in time to the lives of the early settlers. It was made even more special when the realisation came that the waves we heard breaking were the waves the early settlers would also have listened to while camping out near Bathers Beach.

Deborah Gare has the amazing talent of making history tangible. It was an absolute delight to listen to her, and walking away feeling we knew so much of Mary Ann Friend when we left the gallery. If your children are not interested in history or think it is boring, let them listen to Deborah for 15 minutes and they will change their mind.

Well done to Kidogo for organising this event. It was great!

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle by freoview on June 28, 2012

It was verbal high-fives all over at last evening’s City of Fremantle full council meeting, with everyone delighted about the announcement that the Department of Housing will move their offices to Fremantle. The officers involved in securing this coup definitely deserve praise.

Councillors alo praised the efforts by the CODA architect group on their plans for Kings Square, with Mayor Brad Pettitt calling it inspiring, while councillor Jon Strachan called it a fantastic outcome.

Of course much of what Kings Square will be depends on what the Sirona Capital development of the Myer and Queensgate buildings will look like. That will have a massive influence on the city square.

The proposal to seek expressions of interest to create an art hub at Arthur Head was also passed, but after some important amendments. I have no idea how committees and officers communicate, but going by last night it needs improvement. While the officer’s proposal calls for overall management of Arthur Head, including buildings,  councillors only intended it to be for the management of users and activities. That is a major difference! I don’t blame the officer at all, as this was obviously a case of bad communication from the Strategic Planning Committee. Officers are not mind readers councillors. Good to finally get the confirmation that Bathers Beach and Kidogo Art House are part of Arthur Head and included in the plans for the area.

An art hub at Arthur Head hey. There is already one there, called the J Shed. But why does Arthur Head not work? Because it has never been marketed as a destination by the City of Fremantle. New precinct signage that will be introduced later this year again fails to include Arthur Head as its own precinct and destination, and it is simply included in the West End precinct.

Signage to Arthur Head and the J Shed art hub have been bad, and so is signage linking tourist destinations. Visitors at the Maritime Museum have no directions on how to get to the Round House, while up at the Round House there are no signs to the Maritime, and Shipwreck Museums, the Fishing Boat Harbour, or Fremantle Prison.

The City is now proposing to make a theme park out of Arthur Head, where artists will interact with visitors. It’s a bit like the old village at Armadale approach, so let’s hope we won’t get people walking around in historical costumes, and blacksmith demonstrations on how to make horseshoes, and glass blowing, etc.

With a high influx of Chinese visitors expected in the next years, has CoF done a survey on what they would like to be offered in Fremantle? Cute art hub destinations are pretty much seventies stuff, so why does the city want modern forward looking development in the city centre, while going backward at Arthur Head?

Roel Loopers


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