Just a reminder that the University of Notre Dame will be participating in the Fremantle Heritage Festival with a series of free public lectures and campus tours!!

Madison Lloyd-Jones, 31 May 2011, will discuss the ‘American occupation’ of Western Australia in WWII and how it was unique from the experiences of other Australian cities like Brisbane and Melbourne.
(If you have any stories about Fremantle, women on the homefront, or American servicemen in World War II, she would be very pleased to meet you!!  Alternatively, you can contact Madison via or 0433 844 290 if you are unable to attend, but would like to share your wartime memories.)

Dr Shane Burke, various dates, will be discussing archaeological excavations in Fremantle and the cities early European heritage.

Terry Craig, various dates, will give an insight into UNDA’s restoration and adaptation of various historical buildings in the West End for University use as well as discuss the extensive collection of Indigenous and religious art displayed throughout the campus.

All talks will run from 11am-12pm; guests are welcome to enjoy refreshments afterwards. Campus tours will commence at 1pm daily.

For dates and further information, please follow the link:

Doomed laundry ‘last vestige’ of Americans

(The following article by Jenny D’Anger comes from this week’s Herald, and is posted here with permission.)

Fremantle’s heritage forces are rallying to save a WWII-era laundry behind the arts centre that had been used by US troops.

The massive shed is owned by WA Museums, which wants to knock the building down before handing the site to Fremantle council to manage.

A museum representative sought to woo councillors with the siren song of a new building but planning committee chair Andrew Sullivan says it’s more likely the land would just end up being a parking lot.

Despite half the building’s timber trusses being devoured by white ants, Cr Sullivan says the place deserves salvation.

He was alone, however, with others on the committee saying restoration would be too expensive.

“I don’t understand… we don’t have the money to fix the shed but we do have money to build a new one,” Cr Sullivan mused.

Americans were billeted in the former lunatic asylum during WWII (Fremantle’s role as a major submarine base was a well-kept war secret), importing Oregon trusses to build a laundry for the thousands of troops and sailors traveling through the port city.

“It’s the last vestige of the Americans in Fremantle I can find,” Fremantle Society president Jon Strachan says. He is scathing of the museum’s management of the building, citing it as an example of “demolition by neglect”.

Fremantle History Society president Anne Brake says heritage is about referencing the day-to-day of ordinary lives — especially during extraordinary times such as war.

“Some things are important even though when you first look at them it doesn’t seem important,” she says.

Fremantle local Madison Lloyd-Jones is researching a PhD at Notre Dame University on the US influence on Fremantle during the war.

It had a significant impact “beyond defence”, especially on the lives of women, she says.

“With so little evidence left of this period, being able to preserve the laundry would be significant in maintaining a tangible memory of a very unique time in Fremantle’s and, more broadly Austra1ia’s history.”

Retired US Seventh Fleet commander Richard Tilghman, now a Melville local, says “it’s a shame part of the joint history can’t be saved”.

Given the planning committee’s blessing for demolition, the heritage lobby is pinning its hopes on next week’s full council meeting (on Tuesday due to the Australia Day holiday) to save the laundry.