Fremantle Society newsletter, March 2008

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This page is a transcript of an edition of the Fremantle Society's newsletter, Fremantle. Its text is included here, despite being available in PDF and DjVu formats, to facilitate searching, and in order than the contents may be linked to other articles of interest on this website.

It is intended that the text below be a faithful transcription of the contents of this newsletter, and not corrected in any way. Where appropriate and possible both links to other information and higher-quality images have been provided.

← [[Fremantle Society newsletter, |]] | September 2008

The Fremantle Society, along with thousands of others, put in a strong submission against the proposed Three Harbours Policy of the Department of Planning & Infrastructure. The submission was put together under the auspices of Committee member David Hawks. We are not happy with any of the three scenarios, all of which threaten the integrity and amenity of Bathers Beach & South Beach. The idea of major expansion of recreational boating parking or stacking in Fremantle is not acceptable. And residential housing on the new breakwaters is also ridiculous in this time of global-warming and sea level rises.

The Save Freo Beaches alliance is to be congratulated on its campaign against which seems to have forced a rare back-down by the Planning Minister. The DPI is reconsidering, and is also looking at alternatives proposed by local architects Richard Longley and Andrew Sullivan. These are shown in the accompanying figures: The two presented the plans to a meeting with our Planing & Heritage Committee some weeks ago before they took them to the Minister. While the Committee did not ‘endorse’ the plans, the general view was that they are much preferable to the DPI scenarios, particularly in respect of protecting the beaches.

Ian Alexander, President

Image courtesy Andrew Sullivan


Cr Les Lauder
0408 409 900
Dr Ian Alexander
0403 767 869
Nicolas Gurr
0413 804 401
Cathy Hall
0407 086 300
Alessio Capelli
0411 153 370
Adele Carles
Dr Christine Mathieu
David Hawks
Dianne Davidson
Jean Tonkinson
Ron Davidson
Val Cousins
Helen McLeod


On behalf of the Members the Committee extends a warm welcome to the following New or returning Members of The Fremantle Society since our last report in FREMANTLE: R Malabar, B Pettitt, R Belben and D Whittington

Members Notice

At their 2007 AGM at B Shed Victoria Quay the members re-elected Dr Ian Alexander for a further term as President of The Fremantle Society. Treasurer, Secretary and Committee as listed on this page.


Society committees have been re-formed to more efficiently deal with Society business between monthly full Committee meetings. Current Committees and Members are:

Ian Alexander (Convenor)
Nicolas Gurr
David Hawks
Dianne Davidson
Kate House
Christine Mattieu ) Newsletter
Ron Davidson ) Co-Editors
Alessio Capelli
Adele Carles
Ron Davidson
Helen McLeod
Jean Tonkinson

The good news is unlike most of the above, you don’t have to belong to the Society Committee to participate. However, we do urgently need more members to help out. How about it?

In addition to participation in VICTORIA QUAY JOINT TASKFORCE the P&H Committee established a FREMANTLE PARK WORKING GROUP (see FREMANTLE Nov 07 p6 & this edition page 5) so if you have a passion for the place or you can help in any way please contact the President.


Please note that to ensure internet spammers are filtered out we have updated the Website to enable only those people who have registered a username and password to post messages to your Messageboard. So let us keep the community discussion going and continue to have your say. Please logon and register your username and password on the Messageboard Calling members with any website skills to consider giving the Website Committee some time to help us to keep your website relevant. Contact President:

Website Committee


The Fremantle Society’s response to the Three Harbours Proposal (the full text of which is available on the Society’s website), together with the several hundred others received but not by her own admission read by the Minister, appear nonetheless to have changed her mind.

While this might be considered a significant success, it does call into question the whole process and cost by which the proposals were produced in the first place.

Supposedly produced after prolonged consideration and consultation, the proposals so misjudged the response of those most affected by them they have been withdrawn purportedly to allow further community input and consultation.

While the Society is yet to respond to the two proposals currently being considered by the Minister, neither of which is considered by their authors (local architects Andrew Sullivan and Richard Longley) to be definitive, both address at least some of the concerns raised by the Society in its original response.

Both however provide for a limited amount of infilling to cater to short-term residential accommodation which surely must remain problematic when rising sea levels are anticipated.

The Minister’s reported support for such accommodation flies in the face of her objection to any residential development on Victoria Quay purportedly for reasons of the risk presented by such a proposal.

What the whole exercise, which is by no means finished, appears to suggest is that major proposed developments, including the ING development on Victoria Quay, can be progressed, and in the case of the ING development, imposed on Fremantle despite widespread opposition.

While not anti-development, the Society remains opposed to developments which are not sympathetic to Fremantle’s special ambience and which significantly disadvantage its residents and retailers.

David Hawks

Image Courtesy Richard Longley

QUESTIONS ABOUT ‘New Flow of Advice’

An article appeared in the Fremantle Gazette under the above headline on 4 March 2008. The article reported that the Planning and Infrastructure Minister had agreed to ‘establish a specifically focused committee to provide strategic advice on future non-port properties’. What is meant by ‘non-port properties’? Presumably, like Victoria Quay, they are port properties no longer needed for port or other maritime activities.

How will the operation of this committee differ from the committee that produced the Three Harbours proposal? One problem of that committee was that its members were not allowed to report back to the bodies they represented until the deliberations had ended. The wider community was not represented on the committee. It was claimed that the committee consulted the community. However, this appears to have been more consultation with potential users of the facilities than with the many people who would be affected by those uses. The three proposals are now being reconsidered after strong criticisms from various community groups.

The new committee contains only one general community member; the others are the WA Planning Commission Chairman, the Fremantle Ports Chairman, the Mayor of Fremantle and the Executive Director of Tourism WA. The committee needs several representatives of other community groups. It also needs to consult the community of Fremantle widely and early to establish broad guidelines compatible with community wishes. Otherwise we will again see the community reacting to proposals on which they have not been consulted adequately.

Moreover, what impact will the committee’s ‘strategic advice’ have on future developments? Will their ‘advice’ have statutory power? The Waterfront Masterplan of 2000 was modified substantially after wide community discussion. It described itself as ‘a framework and statutory basis to guide and coordinate future development.’ Unfortunately it was not made a statutory document. The ING development proposed for Victoria Quay has been criticised for not complying with provisions of that Masterplan. Will the ‘strategic advice’ of the proposed committee suffer the same fate?

David Hutchison



With the WAPC conditional approval of the ING development on Victoria Quay you might have thought the battle against this unwanted and unsightly development was over for the community. Well, not quite!

ING has appealed against the conditions to the WA State Administrative Tribunal (SAT).

In your Committee’s view, the conditions do not substantially change the nature of the proposed commercial high-rise development. But they do require some worthwhile alterations to the design and layout of the development: the views through to the port are to be retained, at least from some viewpoints along High Street; the retail area is to be redesigned to provide more shops fronting the streets; more public access to the development is required; a viewing platform is to be provided; the car park is to be redesigned to allow future conversion to other uses; the City, the Government Architect Geoffrey London the Heritage Council and the Public Transport Authority are to be involved in redesign of the buildings and access to and from.

In a bid to be involved in the SAT hearing, the Fremantle Society, along with the Victoria Quay Taskforce has applied to SAT to make submissions to the Appeal and the Society has also requested to be ‘joined’ to the Appeal. If the latter request is successful we will get a ‘place at the table’ along with the developers and the City of Fremantle. This will enable us to keep a watch on proceedings and to try and ensure the conditions are strengthened rather than weakened. Otherwise we just hope SAT read and consider our submissions.


Delegates from the Fremantle Society met members of the resolute Art Deco Society at John Curtin’s Cottesloe home on Wednesday, March 12th. It was probably the first meeting between these two heritage warriors and was driven by the need to strengthen the State’s 1991 heritage laws. These laws are generally regarded as the weakest in Australia. We need new ones.

Our president Ian Alexander attended with Nicolas Gurr, Cathy Hall and Ron Davidson while Vyonne Geneve led for Art Deco.

Ian advocated involving an increasing circle of local heritage groups and that this alliance should operate under the name Heritage Alliance. The meeting welcomed the name and the concept. Those present thought we faced a difficult task in generating passion for heritage in a development based state, particularly from the major media. Ron suggested papers like the Post should be approached about our project, The group will meet again in April and the Guildford Society will be there as well.

Fremantle Society members, advocating the grass roots approach, recalled how active the Society had been in the early 1990s generating interest in heritage legislation with street corner gatherings, bands and many meetings with strategically placed politicians and others. At that stage we had no State legislation for heritage protection.

Ron Davidson


Image courtesy Fremantle Library Local History Section

In the Nov 2007 edition of FREMANTLE the Fremantle Society’s advocacy of the Listing of Fremantle Park on the State Heritage Register of Heritage Places was announced. This was in the light of a 2007 threat of new development on the historic Park. We have since begun gathering supporting material and written to the City of Fremantle to seek their support for listing of the Park. A small ‘Taskforce’ has also been set up. Members of this group are currently lobbying Councillors, MPs and other on the matter, and your assistance would be most welcome. Contact Ian Alexander.

And come along to the Society’s Social at the Fremantle Bowling Club on Ellen Street on Friday April 4th @ 6.30pm where Fremantle Park will be the topic of a presentation from historian David Hutchison. David has turned up many interesting facts in his study and it is hoped that when the park's history is better known the threats to it will be more easily rebuffed. Food will be provided and drinks will be available at the club bar.

Editor’s Note: At time of going to the printers Fremantle City Council were scheduled to meet the Fremantle Bowling Club to discuss its future.


At a Special Meeting in early March, Council voted by the narrowest of margins (7 votes to 6), to grant an 18-year lease to the Murdoch family, the existing lessees. The decision was made under the threat of legal action from the current lessees and without the matter ever going out to tender. It came after eighteen months of Council procrastination over the lessees’ Business Plan and despite strong protests from many Markets stall-holders, an Electors’ Meeting vote to open up the markets lease for tender, and the election of some new Councillors who supported moves for a more democratic and open approach to this issue.

A major issue is that the fabulous Heritage building that comprises the Markets is in peril owing to neglect from the lessee and the Council. The Murdoch family have now offered to contribute $100 000 to upkeep over the new lease period. But this is a paltry sum given the needs and the apparent profitability of the Markets for the lessees. Deputy Mayor and former Fremantle Society President John Dowson told the Council that millions of dollars would be needed to properly carry out the Council’s Conservation Plan recently drawn up for the Markets.

In coming to this lease decision, Council did not give any serious consideration to a genuine offer from the respected National Trust of WA to set up an Independent Trust to run the markets and to make sure sufficient funds were reinvested to fully restore the buildings. The Mayor was particularly disparaging about the Trust: his attack appears to have been politically motivated and had little to do with the Markets issue. The National Trust has successfully set up Trusts for other Councils and organizations, and it certainly deserved the chance to put in a bid for a Trust to take the Markets lease.

Had the Council’s process been ethical and open, all offers could have been considered. As it is, apart from the existing lessees, no one was even given a chance to tender. The Council has bypassed the democratic path and has caved in to bullying tactics and threats of legal action from the current lessees.

The City’s heritage is the biggest loser. Council’s decision is short-sighted and unethical and it should be roundly condemned.

Ian Alexander


At a recent meeting the City of Fremantle voted narrowly in favour of a resolution to recommend to WAPC approval of a two-year extension for the construction by Pacific Hydro of an 8-turbine wind farm on Rous Head. If built, this will supply some of the Port’s heavy electrical power needs.

The last time this project was considered by Council in 2002, it was opposed by the Fremantle Society on grounds of its adverse visual impact on the City and the Heritage values of the Port. This time around, however, your Committee decided to review this position and approve the Port windfarm project, subject to membership feedback. See website:

What has changed since 2002? Measures to combat or offset climate change have become a more urgent imperative. Action to reduce greenhouse gases, as a Wind Farm of this scale will do, is now more important than ever. Your Committee regards this as crucial, and we also think that the wind farm’s visual impact will be ameliorated as the Port is already an industrial zone, comprising tall cranes, massive storage sheds, container stacks, etc.

We hope members agree with this new view, but do let us know your views via the website or letters to the editor of this Newsletter.

Ian Alexander


Nominations for Places & People contributing to the rich Heritage of Fremantle are open until 7 May and for a range of Publications contributing to the History of Fremantle and East Fremantle until 1 May See City of Fremantle Festival website and click on “Heritage Festival” for all the details including Nomination Forms plus list of previous Award Winners. Or ask at FreInfo in Fremantle Library or the City’s Service & Info desk.


On the last day of February I watched the Mayor, Peter Tagliaferri, open renovations to the historic hairdressers’ shop at 33 Market St. Unfortunately, because of the Give Me Shelter concert there was no press coverage. A crowd of clients, family, the building’s owners and locals enjoyed a three-piece band with Plantagenet wines and nibbles.

Fifteen years ago Trish Macarlino (nee O’Leary) came into the building owned by the Biddles family. Seven years ago she began renovating the premises which originally opened as a barber shop in 1913. She aimed to bring it back to its former glory.

Twelve months ago she added the space previously occupied by the tobacconist to the barber’s area. At her own (considerable) expense and often with her own hands, she has lovingly restored the floors, panels etc such that the 100 year old barber chairs now take their place in gleaming but traditional surroundings.

Because she had the passion for the heritage value of the shop she brought it into the 21st century with faithful preservation of the past to complement the modern grooming requirements of men in particular

The old cinema part of the Princess Chambers is no longer with the Biddles family, descendants of Captain Biddles, master trawler out of Broome in the early twentieth century. The old Princess cinema behind is now used only as a warehouse but still has its dress-circle and projection box.

The Fremantle History Society will host an evening at the barbers Tuesday May 27th at 7pm as part of Fremantle Heritage Festival. Those attending will hear more of the story of the building and of its faithful restoration. It was a delightful evening which helped restore my enthusiasm for positive happenings about Fremantle in this depressing climate of inappropriate development such as the ING proposal for Victoria Quay

Valerie Cousins

The celebrated Cook and Bayly barber and tobacconist, at the corner of Market & Leake Sts has been restored, see story. (Image Courtesy Fremantle Library: Local History Collection).


"Like an Industrial Cathedral: the old South Fremantle Power Station." Fremantle Impressions p244. (Image by Sophie Van Der Leeden.)

Fremantle Society members have long advocated retention and sympathetic re-use of the old South Fremantle Power Station. I feared that heritage listing was about to be removed and the Robb Jetty site in the dunes sold as expensive real estate. I wrote letters to the usual suspects. Then a strange thing happened. The Department of Planning and Infrastructure called. They wanted to lead the department’s Structure Plan for development of the dune country near the powerhouse with a paragraph from my book Fremantle Impressions:

You are now riding through Fremantle’s back yard and against the wind. You always seem to have the wind in your face as the cycle track winds through the Spinifex-covered dunes. It’s a spectacular wild ride even though you are only three or four kilometres from the city. The crushed bodies of billions of sea urchins have coloured the sand an unexpected grey. Ahead is an industrial cathedral, the decommissioned South Fremantle Power Station… (page 245).

The DPI planner told me their aim was to protect this special character and the power station in particular. But there would also be some pain with 14,000 new people to come into the area.

DPI also wanted to show the land around Robb Jetty had a robust working class past: in the future it would not be all big expensive dwellings

He used another paragraph from Fremantle Impressions to support his argument in the Structure Plan:

Before Robb Jetty is built – and afterwards as a measure against Kimberley cattle tick – long horned bush bulls are pushed from their ship down a slippery ramp and forced to swim ashore. A character call ‘Wingie’ protects them from large tiger sharks which, if the one-armed rifleman is on song, will soon be boiled down for their oil at the nearby Shark Factory. (page 248)

It was all very flattering but I reserve judgment on the fate of Fremantle’s back yard. The structure plan will be released shortly for comment. Tell DPI what you think.

Ron Davidson