Help Us Help Arthur Head

Exciting Vision for Arthur Head

The photo above shows Fremantle Society committee member Agnieshka Kiera in full flight during a Fremantle Society meeting this week, whose main item of business was to get cracking on a positive vision for Arthur Head.

Arthur Head is in dire straits after years of neglect by Fremantle Council. The Round House only survives because of the amazing work done by an army of volunteers over many years.

Millions of dollars are needed for engineering works. The Round House needs quality maintenance and interpretation. Arthur Head needs better way-finding and lighting and interpretation. The Whalers Tunnel artefacts owned by the Museum were removed because Fremantle Council refused to maintain them. The archaeology of the whalers’ history has been vandalised and some removed by Sunset Events. The archaeology of the Power Station has not been done. The Maritime Heritage Trail (also known as the West End Trail) has been ignored by Council for ten years.

The vision being prepared will draw together themes and attributes of Arthur Head and Bathers Beach precinct, Round House, J Shed and the Maritime Heritage Trail.

Agnieshka had 25 years as Fremantle Council Heritage Architect, overseeing many important heritage projects, and in one five year period, raised $5.5 million in grants money.

She has handed over much of her work to the Society.

Any member with expertise or ideas is welcome to contribute.

The Fremantle Society is tapping into the expertise of its committee, members, and people we work with such as the WA Museum, the Fremantle History Society, and senior historians like Dr Bob Reece.

The committee is excited at the prospect of helping Arthur Head to have a well-funded future focussing on its many historical stories. Treasurer Adele Carles is organising a special event at which Agnieshka Kiera will launch the Vision, while Secretary Chris Williams is working through the many complex documents relating to Arthur Head.

There is very little money for heritage unfortunately, and very little interest in it, from local or state governments.

Fremantle Council have:

  • Abolished its heritage Committee
  • Abolished all funding for the Heritage Grants program
  • Abolished the annual Heritage Awards
  • Abolished the annual Local History Awards
  • Abolished the annual 1.25% of rates which since the year 2000 have gone into the heritage reserve fund.

AND, the State Government has just announced that ALL of the meagre pool of money available for heritage for a whole year is going to Fremantle Prison (who need $27 million but are only getting $3 million). So none of the owners of properties  listed by the Heritage Council in the West End or elsewhere will be able to apply for grants for a year.

Premier McGowan once said: “Heritage is not sexy.” He obviously has not been to Fremantle.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
10 October, 2019

0409 223622

Written and authorised by John Dowson, 12 Mouat Street, Fremantle, WA 6160

When Fighting Clowns, Always Go for the Juggler

Scandalous Neglect of Arthur Head

Six years ago the Fremantle Herald published this picture of Cr Tim Grey-Smith, Mayor Pettitt, and Cr Rachel Pemberton atop Arthur Head launching their idea for an “Arts Hub” at the state’s premier heritage site, Arthur Head.

The plan, of breath-taking immaturity, failed spectacularly, and has caused great distress to existing famous artists there like Greg James. As a metaphor for the derelict state of Arthur Head under this council, a $100,000 Greg James sculpture was last night stolen from the area.

Cr Grey-Smith, put into power in 2009 by Mayor Pettitt to get rid of the best councillor City Ward had had for years, Cr Les Lauder, is now apparently a senior policy advisor for a WA Labor Minister, while at the same time helping run former Labor politician George Gear’s campaign to oust Mayor Russell Aubrey in Melville. Apparently he has no money however, as recently the debt of $17,000 he owed council was waived. These deals for mates appear to be part and parcel of the current modus operandi.

Cr Pemberton, now running for a third term as City Ward councillor, is boasting of the great achievements of council in heritage matters, failing to mention that council has abolished the heritage reserve fund which used to get 1.25% of all rates, has abolished the heritage committee, the heritage grants fund, the annual heritage awards, and the local history awards.

In addition, under her watch, the iconic Arthur Head has deteriorated so badly that millions of dollars are urgently needed to fix it up.

The Fremantle Society has been asked by council to help raise money, as the government have inspected the ruinous state of the area and declined to help. The Fremantle Society is preparing a positive and progressive plan which pulls together the important themes and assets of the area.

Written and authorised by John Dowson, 12 Mouat Street, Fremantle WA 6160

0409 223622. 93352113 and

Ralph Hoare Slams Permanent Damage to Fremantle

Update to Revealing View Post

The above photo of Big Boxes in a small heritage town posted yesterday showing the current view from Fremantle’s National Hotel has brought scathing responses.

One resident:

“That photo is really depressing!”

A business owner:  “It is starting to make me feel sick & tired of this incompetent Regime & its antics ! And, 😤the waiver of debt to Ratepayer is totally unacceptable.”

Another resident:

“WHAAAAATTT! (Can we get our debts ‘forgiven?’)
Just when you think that they can’t get any worse!
Roll on the election counting!”

Prominent Fremantle architect and former President of the Fremantle Society Ralph Hoare writes:

‘A very clear but sad period of development that in 10 years or so has destroyed the essence of Fremantle that was renowned for its clear expression of its heritage past, and now this has now been tipped upside down under the current Mayor’s reign.”

If you agree with this assessment, please ensure you get as many City Ward voters to vote for John Dowson in the current election as you can. Some people like Councillor Sullivan, who lives in South Ward, have two votes in City Ward as well. Every vote counts.

Below is what was posted yesterday with the same image:

Your new Pettitt/Pemberton town centre.

Large incongruous boxes after 10 years of “Revitalisation.’

Your heritage town centre forever damaged.

Other councillors of course helped. Including Cr Grey Smith who owed council $17,000. But the mayor and Cr Pemberton have just voted to allow him not to pay the debt.

Other councillors of course helped.

Authorised and Printed by John Dowson, 12 Mouat Street, Fremantle, WA 6160


9335 2113   and 0409 22 3622

Lots of Big Boxes

National Hotel Revealing View

Your new Pettitt/Pemberton town centre.

Large incongruous boxes after ten years of “Revitalisation.’

Your heritage town centre forever damaged.

Other councillors of course helped. Including Cr Grey Smith who owed council $17,000. But the mayor and Cr Pemberton have just voted to allow him not to pay the debt.

Other councillors of course helped.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

Authorised and printed by John Dowson, 12 Mouat Street, Fremantle WA 6160

What the Voters are Saying

The above photo shows door-knocking in progress in one of Fremantle’s many pretty streets.

Ballot papers have arrived and people are urged to return them by October 14th.

In trying to see as many electors as possible it has been a sobering and concerning experience to find so much disquiet in the community, and often real anger with council about council’s ideologies and support for mediocre quality development.

People are also unhappy about council finances, with council having the lowest Financial Health Index of any metro council. People don’t want the Leisure Centre car park or Victoria Hall sold off.

Cr Pemberton tried to hose down the idea of the Leisure Centre Car Park sale but had to admit (Herald Sept 28) that she was unaware of council’s own current 10 year Plan, where it is listed for sale.

Council CEO (Herald letters October 5) and Cr Pemberton (her Facebook) have both issued detailed rebuttals to concerns about council finances, but they have raised more questions than answers.

In terms of Victoria Hall, a group called Spacemarket has just announced they have been handed the keys to the hall to run projects there, without it apparently having gone to council.

Look up their partners – they include Sirona and Yolk Property. Sirona we know well as council’s ‘partners’, and we know for example Sirona got council permission to build the ‘technically illegal’ Quest Hotel in Pakenham Street. We know they made $1 million profit from our ratepayer asset the Spicer site by not developing it but flicking it to Twiggy Forrest recently. Yolk, who are currently  involved in controversy in Bayswater, built the dismal 4 storey block of units in Pakenham Street and are purchasing the Josephson Street car park from council for $1.15m against the valuation of $1.42 million and have secured permission for a 6 storey block of office units there, 5.4 metres higher than the maximum height for the area.

The close relationship of certain developers with council seems at times unhealthy.

Parking is another key issue with voters. While the new bike lanes are appreciated, the selling off of car parks and the complexity of the car parking system has put many people off coming into Fremantle. Thus my proposal to simplify the system. It is partly a perception problem, as there are enough car bays, but people resent large fines and a complicated system. Fremantle needs to wean itself off parking revenue. That is why income producing properties are so important. Back in 1997 council had $87 million worth of income producing assets.

Cr Pemberton has announced that after King’s square is finished, there will only be $8 million left in the investment reserves.

John Dowson, 4 October 2019

Authorised and printed by John Dowson, 12 Mouat Street, Fremantle WA 6160

Meet the Candidate(s) and Half Price Meal

A Return to Common Sense …

The Fremantle Society invites you to another Half Price night at the Federal Hotel in William Street opposite the Town Hall.

Tuesday October 1 at 7pm.

The Fremantle Society supports its President John Dowson who is running for City Ward in the current elections.

He will be there to answer any questions you may have.

Maria Vujcic, running for South Ward, and whose family are involved with the Federal Hotel, will also be there to answer any questions.

Please let us know if you are coming and how many seats you would like:

Authorised and printed by John Dowson, 12 Mouat Street, Fremantle WA 6160.