Freo's View


Posted in book, crime, fremantle, reading, western australia, writing by freoview on August 2, 2016



Fremantle author and Notre Dame University lecturer Leigh Straw is launching her latest book at the Orient Hotel today at 6.30. The Worst Woman in Sydney: The life and crimes of Kate Leigh is a fascinating book about one of Sydney’s leading crime figures in the 1900s.

Kate Leigh was only 155 cm tall but a larger than life figure feared by many. Sydney newspapers would write about her often as she was involved in prostitution, drugs, sly grog etc. Hence she was considered by police as the worst woman in Sydney.

There is also a Fremantle connection in the Kate Leigh story as she married Fremantle criminal Shiner Ryan in 1950, but because neither of them were willing to move to another state the marriage only lasted six months.

Come and listen to Leigh Straw tonight when she tells more about her book. I hope her crime fiction books will also be available at the event organised by New Edition bookshop as one of them plays out in Fremantle with murders all over the West End.

Roel Loopers


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 city of fremantle, local government by freoview on June 18, 2015

The big in size Economic Development Strategy draft plan 2015-2020 was a late item presented to the Strategic and General Services Committee of the City of Fremantle last night and I will need to spend more time reading it, but picked up a few things I’ll address now.

Retailers will be delighted that COF intends to spend $ 15,000 on an “Anti-begging strategy” and I hope whatever it is will be done with respect and humanity and a duty of care for those who really need community support.

We will be forking out $ 120,000 on “place activation” I thought place making had left the building many years ago when Freo regularly used to fly in self-proclaimed experts who told us all about lingering nodes and low hanging fruit, and community responsibility where we could make public art out of the hundreds of old bicycle frames we all have in our sheds.

Nothing much happened as far as COF action was concerned and Kings Square was never activated and it took years to get two seats for tourists near the Roundhouse. It was the Glen Cowans Photography Gallery which took the initiative and first put up colourful seats and tables on Arthur Head, and visitors to the historic hill have been keen to use them since.

Also on the agenda, and dare I say finally and very long-overdue, is $ 200,000 on way-finding and signage. The signs in Fremantle are an embarrassment and often confusing. In some areas there are too many signs in other spots, e.g. the Round House, J Shed, Bathers Beach, Maritime Museum there are none or hidden ones. There is also not numbered or coloured way-finding that leads visitors to all the ikonic sites in Fremantle, like tourist routes one sees in the country.

A masterplan for Princess May Park is a very good idea with all the development going on and soon to start in the east of the inner city, where the former Boys School is a jewel in the crown next to the very popular Clancy’s. The park has been under utilised for years and needs a decent facelift with seats and shade structures, and a public artwork or water feature.

To the “West End activation with UNDA” I can only say good luck, because Notre Dame University has shown it is not at all interested in the street level activation they keep signing off on every two years in the useless and not enforceable Memorandum Of Understanding with the City of Fremantle. Very little changes have been made to ‘blinds city’ where we have far too many wooden blinded large windows at street level, instead of active spaces used by the general public. As a big fan of UNDA I am disappointed that the organisations cares so little about their corporate responsibility to help activate the far west end of our city, that resembles a ghost town at night and during the long periods students are not on campus.

Buzz words like place making and lingering and increasing the visitors’ experience have been going around for a long time, but we have had very little action that has made a real impact in that regard, so the community and traders want to see real action and improvement, but we also need to be careful not to over regulate and make public initiative more difficult.

The COF should be very careful with the “Develop public market framework/guidelines be developed’ Markets like the Bathers Beach and Growers Green ones, have been great attractors for Fremantle and should be left alone, because the unfortunate reality has been that when administrators start stuffing around with these kind of initiatives they suck the energy out of it and make things so hard that the fun disappears and those involved just walk away from it and go to other cities that embrace their activities more.

Like all of these long term plans the proof will be in eating the pudding, so let’s wait and see how much will actually be implemented.

Roel Loopers


Posted in earthquake, fremantle, nepal by freoview on May 23, 2015

There was a good atmosphere in the Fremantle Notre Dame university Drillhall last evening with many people browsing through a large number of clothes brought in for the CLOTHES SWAP FOR NEPAL fundraiser organised by Acacia Armstrong.

I don’t know how many people attended and how much money was raised but there was also a silent auction of bicycles generously donated. There will be a few more of them at the Concert for Nepal on June 13, so book your tickets!

Roel Loopers



Posted in art by freoview on November 7, 2013

There is quite a gorgeous, is it young, naive, primitive? religious art installation in Fremantle‘s Cliff Street on the old heritage facade, used by a trillion of wedding photographers as a backdrop each year. The work by Julian Poon was commissioned by Notre Dame University for this year’s Fremantle Festival, and Vice Chancellor Mark Tannock was  delighted about the work when I photographed him with the artist.

Julian Poon won the Youth Award of the most prestigious Australian Christian art prize, the Mandorla Art Prize 2012, and in 2010 he was the youngest artist ever to exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition in London.

The work will stay up for about a year, so wedding photographers will now have an even more glorious and inspiring backdrop and many new couples might well see that as a blessing.

Roel Loopers

I received this correction from the City of Fremantle on Friday: The Julian Poon exhibition on Cliff Street was not commissioned by Notre Dame. The idea was developed by the artist with the City and commissioned by the City for the Fremantle Festival. Notre Dame was invited by the City to partner with us to present the work as part of the festival.


Posted in fremantle by freoview on January 31, 2013

The Western Australian state election on March 9 will decide who will govern this state for the next years and who will represent the people of Fremantle. Will independent Member for Fremantle  Adele Carles manage to get reelected or will Labor‘s Simone McGurk, the Liberal‘s Matthew Hanssen or Greens hopeful Andrew Sullivan win the seat?

Find out what the candidates stand for at the Fremantle Candidate Forum debate at Notre Dame University on February 26 from 6.30 pm. Chaired by ABC political reporter Peter Kennedy the evening promises to be a lively debate with passionate community participation.

Roel Loopers

Debate for State Seat_Debate


Posted in fremantle by freoview on December 20, 2012

Although she has not officially confirmed it, it appears Adele Carles, the independent Member for Fremantle in the Western Australian parliament, will contest the March election next year. Carles confirmed she will be attending an election forum on February 26 organised by the University of Notre Dame, the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce, the Fremantle Network and the Fremantle Society.

It will be an interesting election for the seat of Fremantle and I hope all candidates stick to the important issues and won’t engage in mud slinging about Carles’ personal life. My sentiment is that Adele should not put her three teenage daughters through the negativity of an election campaign she realistically can’t win without preferences and where the media is likely to focus on her past and the soap opera with W.A. Treasurer Troy Buswell.

I’ll keep you up to date about the election forum at UNDA where all Freo candidates will be invited to participate

Roel Loopers




Posted in fremantle by freoview on November 21, 2012

The Fremantle Chamber of Commerce and City of Fremantle Leaders Luncheon at the Esplanade Hotel today featured Notre Dame University’s charming Vice Chancellor Celia Hammond.

It was good to hear that UNDA has taken on suggestions to improve integration with the Fremantle community, improve street level activity, and that they will not move their sports science department with the Dockers should the footy club decide to relocate to Cockburn.

Professor Hammond also expressed interest for the university signing a long-term lease if a builder can be found to erect student accommodation, as UNDA do not have the funds to build themselves.

Celia also talked about introducing art in UNDA office windows, and commissioning Freo artists to do murals, have weekend concerts in the court yards, etc.

With the possibility of an additional 800 students the university would also like to establish lecture rooms and offices in other parts of Fremantle, not just the west end, which would also help street level activity.

It is good to see UNDA has realised it can do better in interacting with the general Fremantle community, so we might well see some positive changes in the near future.


Roel Loopers



Posted in fremantle by freoview on October 5, 2012

It was disappointing that not more people came to the lecture on Mary Ann Friend at the Notre Dame University last night. They missed out on an excellent and engaging presentation about the young woman and her husband Matthew by the delightful Associate Professor Deborah Gare.

Mary Ann Friend wrote a journal about her travels in which some of the earliest watercolour paintings of Fremantle are published. The diary will be on auction at Christies in London on October 10 and the Western Australian State Library would like to buy it.

It would be fantastic to have the journal in W.A. but whatever the outcome of the auction I hope Deborah Gare will write a book about Mary Ann and Matthew Friend and their time in the Swan River Colony.

Although only 30 people turned up it was nice to see two candidates for next year’s state election attending in Liberal Matthew Hanssen and Greens Andrew Sullivan.

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle by freoview on September 29, 2012

Mary Ann Friend arrived in Fremantle in 1830. The young woman wrote a rather quirky journal observing her fellow ship passengers and early settlers. She also painted the first impressions of the Swan River Colony in her diary. The diary will go on auction at Christies in London in the next two weeks.

The Fremantle Chamber of Commerce and the University of Notre Dame are holding an information evening about Mary Ann Friend this Thursday, October 4 from 6-8 pm at the Santa Maria Lecture Theatre in Mouat Street. It is a FREE EVENT with wine and nibbles.

One of the speakers will be UNDA historian Deborah Gare. I listened to her talking about Mary Ann Friend at Kidogo Arthouse some months ago and became an instant fan of her. Her love for history is infectious and she is such a great speaker that I was disappointed when she stopped. I am very much looking forward to hearing Deborah again on Thursday.

Come along and bring any spare cash you might like to donate to the Western Australian State Library so they can purchase the journal at the auction.

Roel Loopers


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