As a relatively new and active member of the Fremantle Society I would like to give you my ideas of what the society should be, and hope this will trigger an on-line discussion on this blog, with members of the society, the general public, and city councilors and planners.
First I like to acknowledge the passion, commitment and hard work done since 1972 by present and past members of the society. Fremantle could have been an awful place if it wasn’t for you voluntarily taking on the custodianship of the city. You stood guard and succeeded in preserving so much of our beautiful heritage.
It has been a long time, and times have changed. We now have access to modern and very fast communication tools like the internet, where we can converse with people all over the world and in real time. No waiting for snail mail anymore. This gives us new opportunities, but also challenges, to reach a much wider audience for our ideas and passions.
The Fremantle Society has reacted to this with starting this FREO TRIBE blog, we have a FACEBOOK page, members Sam Wilson and Michael Adeane are working on modernising and expanding our website, and we’ll have the launch of the FREMANTLE FIGHTERS book, written by Ron and Dianne Davidson, on November 19 by Premier Colin Barnett at Deckchair Theatre.
All this indicates that this group wants to move on to become more pro-active, and change our image from being seen as negative, anti-development, and against everything.
I only speak for myself, but I believe development is essential for the vitality and future of Fremantle. The city needs an inspiration to move it into a new and exiting phase, with more and better public open spaces, like town squares, mixed, and cheaper, housing, quality retail outlets, small wine bars, better street scapes, etc.
The East End is in desperate need of revitalisation, the Princess May area near Clancys could become a wonderful community space, the Woolstores need to be developed urgently. I’d like to see a better connection to the train station, with the busport not hiding the beauty of it, and better direct access to Victoria Quay and the E-Shed Market, cafes, and the soon to open new ferry passenger terminal at the port, and King Square needs to become a real vibrant town square and meeting place.
I would like the society to come up with its own plans for the city, not just being reactive and put essential submissions to the council about new development. I do understand that this will be difficult to achieve for a group with very limited funds, as we would need experts to draw up plans, involve architects, etc.
But there are always solutions, and one of them could be to involve university students in that. Wouldn’t it be great if they embraced the concept of assisting the Fremantle Society in helping to make Fremantle a modern, vibrant place, where students can afford the rent and enliven our streets not only during uni hours but also in the evenings, and they too become a vital part of our city, not just day time visitors.
We should also start regular forums in cafes and other meeting places like Kulcha, and the society needs to take a greater part in events that happen in Fremantle. We need to lift our public profile by being out there and amongst the rest of our community, as we did with our strong presence and hard work at the Concert for Pakistan.
I have great hopes for Fremantle. We have a very inclusive mayor in Brad Pettitt and some good young councillors. I am convinced they will work hard on making Fremantle grow in a sustainable and modern way, with great respect for our heritage, and they are aware we are watching them closely.
Those who believe unlimited high-rise development is the way to go for Fremantle are in the wrong city. Our heritage is non negotiable and we will not compromise the beauty of it. Respect for Fremantle’s history, heritage, and unique lifestyle is the most essential ingredient for any development!