Missed Opportunity

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The vast and highly significant Police Precinct of over 7000 square metres at 45 Henderson Street, Fremantle, has been sold.

The asking price of $5.95 million plus GST gives freehold possession of seven buildings of varying age and importance, but includes the former heritage courthouse and heritage barracks, in a prime location near the World Heritage listed Fremantle Prison, King’s Square, and Fremantle Markets.

The sale at such a reasonable price was a missed opportunity, one that Fremantle Council should have grabbed with both arms.

Instead Fremantle Council are stuck in a disastrous business plan with the developer Sirona.

The Fremantle Society wrote to all members last week outlining serious concerns with the King’s Square Business Plan which basically sells $50 million of ratepayer assets to developer Sirona for $29 million. Then, council intends building a $50 million administration centre for the mayor, councillors, and officers in King’s Square, thus destroying King’s Square and turning it into a triangle. After all that, the ratepayers will be left with massive debt for decades.

The Fremantle Society is demanding accountability for such a flawed business plan. The plan was supposed to be the catalyst for revitalisation, but in effect, it has wasted millions of dollars and years of time. The mayor and councillors are directly responsible for the seriously flawed plan.

Under no circumstances should the business plan be extended after the May 10 end of agreement with Sirona.

A new vision is needed for the town centre.

The Fremantle Society is working with prominent architects and planners to present a better vision for King’s Square and the surrounding area, and that will be published in the next couple of weeks.

The vision sees King’s Square becoming a true civic square, better design and use outcomes for council owned Queensgate, and for example, better options for the Spicer site (the car park opposite the Henderson Street warders’ cottages that the council intends selling to Sirona) to give enhanced linkages between the Cappuccino Strip, Markets, Prison, Police Precinct, and King’s Square.

Fremantle deserves a town centre designed for the public good, not for developers’ greed.


The Yagan Memorial is an artwork created for the City of Swan to honour the memory of the Aboriginal Warrior Yagan, the son of Midgigoroo and Moyran. Nyoongar artists who created the art works for the Memorial Site are Sandra Hill and Peter Farmer. The art works for the Yagan Memorial Park were designed by Peter Framer, Kylie Ricks and Sandra Hill. Jenny Dawson of J SHED ART STUDIO (from Fremantle) assisted Sandra with the major story wall works. Working team members are Tracie Pushman, Laurel Nannup and Ellen McFetridge. Roman Antoniuk built the rammed earth walls and Peter Zuvela documented photographically the entire artwork process and participated in the installation all of the artworks on the walls.

The Memorial Park is situated at Lot 39 West Swan Road, Swan Valley, Australia.

Yagan was a very important representative of the Beeliar People which includes Walyalup (modern Fremantle, in some sources referred to as Manjaree – West End of Fremantle, Arthur Head). He was instrumental in trying to forge good working relations with the first white settlers of the Swan River Colony in Western Australia.

Entry Statement to the Site by Sandra Hill

The work has several rammed earth curved walls that were fabricated at the beginning of the pathway leading into the Memorial site. A feature is the visual timeline etched into clay tablets that meander along the full length of the walls. They are reminiscent of the Waugal moving in and out of the land as well as acting as a connecting feature for the Burial Site. The walls, gradually grade down until they disappear back into the earth.

The imagery tells the story of Yagan and his family, their alienation from the white people, the taking and fencing off of their traditional land, the killings and the payback, and the treacherous ambush of Yagan, Heegan and his party by the Keates brothers at the site in 1833. Wall one depicts the story of Yagan and his people from colonisation to his untimely and tragic death.

Sandra Hill is a visual artist and a Yorga of the Nyoongar (Nyungar) people of Australia (South West of Western Australia). She worked on a series of paintings that were taken to New York. She also worked with Jenny Dawson (Ceramic Artist) at the J Shed Art Studio to produce a large scale group of ceramic public artworks to be located at the memorial park that honour the memory of Yagan. The site was opened early in July 2010.

Tracie Pushman on Yagan
“The story of Yagan lives strongly in the hearts of the Nyungar people. Son of Midgigooroo and Moyran, Yagan was a great leader of the Jondarup Ballaruk clan moeities. In the early years of colonisation by the British, the strangers to the area of Beeliar (Fremantle-Perth area) were welcomed by the Indigenous people and seen as Djanga – returning spirits of the dead. As time went on, the increasing domination of the settler colony resulted in restrictions to land access for the custodians of the area, ultimately threatening their cultural wellbeing, and their relationship to country. Aboriginal resistance followed and Yagan will always be remembered for his intelligence, strength, courage and influence during this period of resistance.

As a cultural warrior, Yagan was fearless and highly respected both by his own countrymen and those of the settlement led by Captain James Stirling. Yagan’s ability to bridge the cultural gap allowed the Nyungar people a voice for negotiation and a hope for cultural exchange. However, despite the friendships he had made with several families of importance and the infamy of his character, the Nyungar people continued to be dispossessed of land, marginalized and treated with cruelty. Because of his unusual position within the new society, Yagan was able to stand up for his people, which resulted in there being reward for his capture. Yagan was outlawed and on the 11th of July 1833, was shot dead for a reward of £30 by two young brothers whom he had previously befriended. Yagan’s Head was then cut from his body and sent to England.

The repatriation of Yagan’s remains had been a long and arduous journey, not being recovered until 1997 from a museum in Liverpool. Yagan is now finally able to be put to rest in his own country with the dignity and respect so deserved of this fallen warrior. “

No 7 yagan


Colin Nichol recalls Fremantle’s history of shark-proof swimming.

RECENT media announcements of “WA’s first shark barrier” on trial at Cockburn, overlooks the facts of history. Shark proof enclosures were constructed off a number of coastal and Swan River jetties in the Perth metropolitan area, including Cottesloe, South Fremantle and Fremantle with one at Busselton, during the 1920s and ‘30s.

As discussions continue over a sea bathing facility near Fremantle’s Bathers Beach, a reminder that little is new in that regard. Shark-proof Municipal Sea Baths were constructed at Fremantle in the 1890s near the Fish Markets between Long Jetty and South Jetty, but having been destroyed by heavy weather were demolished in 1917. The site is now Fishing Boat Harbour’s northern sea wall. On 3 February 1930, a deputation, including the president of the Fremantle Businessmen’s Association, “waited on” the Fremantle City Council in the council chambers to advocate the erection of swimming baths in the city. They pointed out that a 1926 referendum of ratepayers showed that the majority were in favour of the project.

It was felt that while South Beach was an excellent beach, it was too small to accommodate a large crowd and there was no provision for training facilities. Mayor 1919-23 and again 1926-51 Frank Gibson (later Sir Frank), said council was still paying off  interest and sinking fund on the earlier baths and thought that the cost of erecting new baths would be in the vicinity of £16,050 (at least $1,318,740). Perhaps that deputation’s plea may yet come to fruition, some 84-plus years on.

The South Beach shark proof swimming area, with its extensive onshore camping sites and splendid Hydrodrome building with accommodation for swimmers and visitors, opened in 1927. The fencing was a length of torpedo netting used in the English Channel during the Great War and annually dipped in bitumen for preservation. It was strung between two jetties and supported by approximately ten poles over which a promenade deck was constructed. A diving platform extended from the promenade. The enclosure, which was well lit for night use, remained into the 1950s. Only photographs and memories of school swimming classes remain. And sharks did occasionally get in.

Colin Nichol


The following are excerpts from the Society’s presentation to the Local Government Advisory Board:

The Fremantle Society, like the Mount Lawley Society, is a community group. At the offer/suggestion of Minister Simpson, the Fremantle Society makes this submission. The Fremantle Society is very concerned that the proposed merger  will have a very negative impact on Fremantle and the communities that make up this unique city location. The Society urges the Board to recommend boundary change that strengthens the integrity of Fremantle, builds its economy and enhances its unique character.

The Fremantle Society recognises the social and cultural values of a community are strength  by its cultural and built heritage and by the community’s involvement in its protection. The tangible and intangible benefits of an activated and engaged community are a more inclusive and protective society generally, which in turn engenders an enormous range of social benefits. The greater Fremantle area (inclusive of North Fremantle and East Fremantle) has such a community. A community with engaged individuals is the most valuable thing any local area can have or aspire to create. Our members from across the Fremantle area have, throughout the Society’s 40 years, been committed and engaged with the East Fremantle and Fremantle local governments as candidates for election, elected members, as active participants in community reference groups, Fremantle and East Fremantle Council’s working groups and advisory committees as well as social and sporting clubs and community associations around the City and the Town.

The right to speak and take part and determine local affairs is vital to the maintenance of local community and the right to the management of local affairs is vital to the strength and vitality of that local community.

The “growth serum” for the maintenance and growth

of a local community is participation in local affairs and identifying and belonging to “place”.

Fremantle is a location and a brand and an identifiable place. It is a city in the complexities it embraces and the diversity it spans. Fremantle is a place with two WAFL football teams and an AFL football team. Fremantle is a place where 50,00 fans gathered for the 2013 Grand Final. Fremantle is Western Australia’s port city and is internationally recognisable.

Fremantle can be made larger but it must be retained as an individual municipality. A larger independent City of Fremantle will have widespread elector support.