Very good news that the FREMANTLE HERITAGE FESTIVAL will remain independent and won’t be incorporated in the Fremantle Festival, as was suggested by the Cultural Development Department of the city.

On Wednesday the council voted on it and unanimously rejected the proposal.

Many residents and the Society believed the Heritage Festival would be snowed under and diminished when becoming part of the already successful Fremantle Festival, with less media coverage and less participation because so much else would already be on.

This year’s Heritage Festival attracted very good crowds with sell out Don’s Tram Tours, an almost full house at the Bernard Carney concert, over 150 people doing the Cemetery Tour and over 75 were at the Club Crawl, while hundreds came to see the vintage motorbikes at King’s Square.

We at the Fremantle Society are very much looking forward to being a very active part of the next Heritage Festival and are also planning to take part in this year’s Fremantle Festival.

You will see more of us at other events in the future as well as we want to have a bigger public presence than we had in the past. Come and say hello, become a member, buy a book, give us a smile and support!

It has been a very active year for the Society so far and we have received recognition for it by winning the Fremantle Heritage Award for a community group as well as winning best book for Fighting for Fremantle by Ron and Dianne Davidson, while committee member Bob Reece also received an award for an unpublished book.

Our colourful brand new DL brochures are slowly being distributed around town. If you would like some for your shops, schools, galleries, etc. please do contact me on 0419 850981 and I will deliver them to you.

Roel Loopers


FIGHTING FOR FREMANTLE by Ron and Dianne Davidson and published by the Fremantle Society through Fremantle Press won the award for best book at last night’s FREMANTLE HERITAGE AWARDS at B Shed on Victoria Quay.

Congratulations to Ron and Dianne. This is well deserved!

Roel Loopers


The Fremantle Society is working with the Fremantle History Society bringing you a great range of events for 2011 Fremantle Heritage Festival.  We believe the best way to keep our Fremantle Heritage Festival is to have a great range of events and lots of people attending them.

Friday 27th May from 7:30pm.

Start your Festival with a Concert of Songs & Stories with acclaimed singer song-writer BERNARD CARNEY at Fremantle Town Hall on Friday 27th May from 7:30pm.  Members Special pre-booked price $14.95, or $19.95 at door.     Bar and finger-food available.    Bernard promises a great show. Tix: info@fremantlesociety.org.au or jonstrachan@dalystreet6162.com info 0417 901 809


Saturday 28th May

Lunatics & Artists; 11:00am to 1:00pm. Talk on history of Fremantle Asylum ( Fremantle Arts Centre) by John Dowson & Rob Campbell at the Arts Centre.      Free event.

Patching up St Patsat 3:00pm. Fremantle History Society & Alan Kelsall at St Pats Basilica, talk on the Restoration of the building.

Sunday 29th May  12 Noon to 4:45pm

Both Societies are Opening Heritage Doors.  * Update! 23 May: National Hotel Fire Restoration work Preview Opening instead of Elder Building at 2pm!!

Significant Fremantle heritage listed buildings are open on the hour for an hour, with a talk at a quarter past. Start at Samson House on Ellen Street at noon, Lionel Samson’s in Cliff Street at 1:00pm, *National Hotel Market & High Sts at 2:00pm and also in Phillimore Place, the Chamber of Commerce at 3:00pm.  Fremantle Society HQ at 11 Captains Lane at 4:00pm for a tour followed by drinks and nibbles Sundowner.

Tuesday 31st May  at  7:00pm – 9pm

Fremantle Society hosts a  Heritage Q and A.  Come to glorious old Victoria Hall at 7:00pm, be part of the audience and ask questions of our Expert panel on all things heritage.  Robyn Johnston will host this different festival event which promises to be entertaining and informative.  Send Email  & webcam Questions to us if  you cannot be there in person : info@fremantlesociety.org.au / www.freo.org.au /

Enquires: Jon: 0417 901 809   or  e:  jonstrachan@dalystreet6162.com

Wednesday 1st June @ 6:45pm

Join Fremantle  History Society at J Shed hosting a talk by sculptor Greg James on the Making of Maria Montessori.  Greg will explain how he captures the essence of his subject as well as their form.

Thursday 2nd June from 3:00pm

Another Fremantle History Society event at Fremantle Prison.  In Underbelly Ron Davidson will talk on the underworld figures of Kate Leigh and Tilly Devine and their relationship to Shiner Ryan.  It’s a fascinating, little known story.

Friday 3rd June from 3:30pm

Offers you a rare chance to see inside 4 of Fremantle’s remaining Clubs when you join the Fremantle Club Crawl.  Start at the Wyola Club on High Street, at 3:30pm, for a drink and a chat, then move on to the Buffalo and Navy Clubs, before snacks at the Worker’s Club.  Call Don 9335 6091 / 0400 201 441  and Ron: 9430 6096 or email: rbelben@iinet.net.au

Saturday 4th June 3:00pm and 4:00pm

Another chance to go on Don’s Tram Tours, leaving Fremantle Arts Centre at 3:00pm and 4:00pm.  These tours were very popular last year, so get in early as booking is essential.  Cost $10 each.  Call Don or Ruth 9335 6091  / 0400 201 441  or rbelben@iinet.net.au

We hope to see you at these mostly free events, donations will be gratefully accepted.

For info or tickets.

For Fremantle Society events call  Jon:  0417 901 809   or   email: jonstrachan@dalystreet6162.com

For Fremantle History Society events call Dianne or Ron: 9430 6096  or email: dianne.davidson@gmail.com


Around 35 people came to Vivisen restaurant in Point Street last evening to farewell and say thank you to departing Fremantle Society president Ian Alexander. Ian has been a tireless and passionate worker for Fremantle’s heritage and future, and will be sadly missed by all of us, who got to know and like him.

As a sign of appreciation Ian was presented with a large framed photo of the beautiful buildings in High Street at sunset, which is also on the cover of the Fighting for Fremantle book.

Ian hinted that the city of Albany, where he will move to, also has substantial heritage and that is is likely he will get involved in helping to preserve that. He is not the kind of man who will sit back and do nothing, so I am sure we’ll hear from him again soon through the media and internet.

We wish Ian and his partner Eileen all the very best for the future and hope they’ll keep in touch with the Fremantle Society.

Roel Loopers


Former Fremantle councilor Jon Strachan was elected the new president of the Fremantle Society at last night’s AGM in front of a packed house at the Santa Maria Lecture Theatre of Notre Dame. Jon pipped the post by just 5 votes over the other candidate for the position, Lloyd Hammond.

Guest speaker Dr Carmen Lawrence talked about saving the West Kimberley from destruction through industrial development.

It was one of the best attended AGMs for many years, and a sad good-bye to Ian Alexander, who stood down from the presidency because of his move to Albany. Ian has been a tireless and passionate worker for the society during his reign and will be missed by all of us.

With membership numbers growing, and in a financially healthy position, the society is looking forward to a productive 2011 under its new president, and with a reinvigorated committee.

This year saw the re-branding of the Fremantle Society with a new logo, new website, a manifesto and the Freo Tribe Blog, and the long anticipated launch of the Fighting For Fremantle book.

Roel Loopers


The FIGHTING FOR FREMANTLE book by Ron and Dianne Davidson has received very good coverage in the Western Australian media, the latest an editorial 4 page spread with photos in SCOOP MAGAZINE. FFF also got articles in the WEST AUSTRALIAN, FREMANTLE HERALD, FREMANTLE GAZETTE and THE SUBIACO POST.

If you see articles in any other newspapers, please let us know.

Roel Loopers


Colin Nichol has been to an historic occasion for Fremantle

AFTER nearly 40 years of looking at Fremantle, the evening of last Friday week the Fremantle Society was instead looking at itself. It was the night – not of long knives – no, a gentler theme, that of the publication of a book on the story of the preservation of the built treasures of Fremantle. But long knives are evident in the saga this historical record of the society tells.

The venue was the marvellous Victoria Hall, by not unhappy coincidence of choice, itself one of the first causes taken up by the society. That current home to Deckchair Theatre was packed, the enthusiasm overflowing and the support of speakers little less than euphoric.

More than that, it was inspiring to note the large number of young society members present. That obviously signals a great future for the society. The torch must soon be passed to them; they are hereby put on notice.

The battle to save the heritage of Fremantle is all the more stunning, even shocking, when viewed from the context of today’s world. We still have much of the old city, but at what cost to the likes of society founding president and current patron Les Lauder, noticeable by his absence from the occasion, as well as the early group he formed to save the city’s heritage from the bulldozers. The devastation that had been wreaked upon Perth was their incentive.

It’s all told in “Fighting For Fremantle, the Fremantle Society Story” (Fremantle Press) by Ron and Dianne Davidson, long associated with the Fremantle Society and the Fremantle History Society. This is a forensic dissection of the often-dramatic struggle to save a unique 19th century city. Or as much of it as was left at that time.

It is a generously illustrated 167 pages and you may even find yourself in it. In a situation reflective of that of Mr Lauder in his struggle, the production of this history was pressed on under duress of illness, among many other challenges.

This important event in Fremantle’s history was chaired by society president Dr. Ian Alexander and was on a sustained high, the apex of the society’s triumph. But a word of caution, vigilance must always be maintained; the society understands that.

In the presence of an impressive roll call of political heavyweights in the audience, both authors spoke, preceded by the premier Colin Barnett, who officially launched the publication. In a generously supportive way he complimented the book itself, its authors and the work of the society.

The premier revealed, as a North Fremantle resident at the time, he was an early member of the society. He recalled Les Lauder successfully pressuring him to support its efforts. Maintain that impetus, Premier.

The Society attains greater heights with the launch of this publication. It is the only historical record in the country of such an organisation. The overflowing attendance in the historic hall, the wild applause greeting every speaker’s comment and the wholehearted endorsement by the premier were hallmarks for a new era for the society.

In his address at this book launch, co-author Ron Davidson, mischievously exhorted his audience to buy the book on sale there and then. Three times he hammered it out: “Buy the book, buy the book for Christmas”, and they did – a clear demonstration that there is no such thing as a free launch.


The launch by Premier Colin Barnett of the book Fighting For Fremantle, written by Ron and Dianne Davidson, was a huge success. The gorgeous renovated Victoria Hall was the perfect venue, and over 200 people attended the function, amongst them many city councilors, Mayor Brad Pettitt, politicians Lynn McLaren and Adele Carles, former ones Peter Dowding and Jim McGinty, Fremantle Ports CEO Chris Leatt-Hayter, East Fremantle CEO Stuart Wearne, and many other well-known people, including ABC political reporter Peter Kennedy. It was a pity that inspirational Les Lauder, who features prominently in the book, could not be there.

It was an evening full of community spirit and good food and wine.

AND HERE AN ADDITIONAL NOTE FROM RON DAVIDSON: Sitting quietly on the eastern wall of Victoria Hall during festivities was Bob Olsen. Bob was the builders labourers organiser who, with a few well placed wrecking tools convinced Kevin Reynolds of the public interest in retaining the Hall. The full story is in Fighting for Fremantle. And the Green Ban went on, the hall was saved. Thank you Bob.

Roel Loopers


Today is a very special day for the Fremantle Society, as Premier Colin Barnett will launch the book FIGHTING FOR FREMANTLE, written by Ron and Dianne Davidson, about the challenging history of the society. The launch will be from 5.30 at Victoria Hall.

The book is a must read for anyone interested in, or loving Fremantle. It shows what a huge difference a small group of very dedicated and determined people made to Fremantle. Without them our gorgeous city would have been far less attractive.

It is also a reminder that we need to remain vigilant and scrutinise each and every development proposal carefully.

Roel Loopers


We received this email below from Eileen who needs help serving food at the Fremantle Fighters book launch at Deckchair Theatre, so this is your chance to meet new people, mingle without having to say sorry for moving on, fall in love, make new friends, and show the generosity of the Fremantle Society by offering delicious morsels of Freo’s finest food.

I am organising the food for the FS book launch on Friday November 19.

I am looking for some volunteers to help me serve the food up on the night. It’s a simple matter of walking around the hall with platters. I need about 3 people.

Also, if anyone has any contacts who could donate finger food for the night, that would be wonderful too. I can organise the assembling of food onto platters.

Eileen Richardson