Carmen Lawrence on living in a (small) city

Carmen Lawrence’s piece on being among the heritage buildings of Fremantle will be of interest to anyone who has ever for a moment thought about their experience of being in a city – of any size.

People do not simply look out over a landscape and say, “this belongs to me” they say, “I belong to this”. Concern for familiar topography for the places one knows is not about the loss of a commodity but about the loss of identity. People belong in the world; it gives them a home.

Dr Lawrence was Premier of Western Australia, and later also Chair of the Australian Heritage Council.

I put this paper on my Fremantle Stuff site, but was asked by the copyright holder (the Fremantle History Society) to take it down, because they wanted to sell the hard copies.

Workers Club website

I wrote in my previous post that I’m no longer going to support a separate Fremantle Workers Club website.  I’d like to use this medium to say why.

I was a member of the Workers Club in the early 1990s for a couple of years.  I took up membership again in 2012, when Donald Whittington saved the club from being wound up.

I saw the club as a traditional place of refuge for the Fremantle working man.  The original members were all unionists, and most of them were waterside workers.  So it was a heritage site for that reason.

The building was also the only 1950s building in the West End of Fremantle. I never liked the look of it much, but it was unique.  So that was a second reason to keep the building.

Less importantly, it was engagingly gothic in its internal arrangement.  It had innumerable doors leading mysteriously nowhere much.  There was a caretaker’s flat on the upper level which hardly anyone knew was there, and was not used for anything.  The second street entrance led merely to a corridor used for nothing but storing chairs.  There was a ladies toilet at the front of the building, behind the street wall, but it was never available for use.  There had been a library room, which in the 2000s had become a room containing a pool table (hardly ever used) and a TAB betting machine (used a great deal).  And there was a hairdresser’s salon! right next to the front door.  It was briefly staffed by an attractive man who spoke Spanish as well as Italian.

Mainly, it had a 30 metre long bar, and served beer cheaply and cold through well-maintained pipes.

I made my website, which I gave at no cost to the club, in support of Donald Whittington’s action in saving the club.  I had in mind both the club – with everything I’ve written above – and Donald himself, who is idealistic and altrustic.

However … it quite quickly turned out he apparently couldn’t manage to keep the building.  So it was made available for sale, and plans were made for the money from the sale to go towards buying part of a new building in Fremantle Park.

I went on supporting the club’s own domain and website for some years, but my motivations had evaporated.  Particularly when I came to understand what kind of building the Fremantle Park Sport and Community Centre is going to be, namely: boring.  It’s so boring I can’t be bothered thinking of a less boring word.

I’ll go on supporting the Workers Club sub-website on my Stuff website, but only because it’s part of the great Fremantle community.  I may never visit the new building. I don’t think I’d be welcome 🙂

A functionalist building, suggesting a high school in a country town

Big Day on the Internet

I decided that I was no longer willing to maintain websites for other people, and today was the day when I gave up on three sites for individual friends, and one for an organisation. I’ll continue to support all of them – but on one of my own sites – Fremantle Stuff.

One of the reasons I’m doing this is that my web design ability has barely got beyond the end of the millennium. I don’t know how to use a web authoring program, and still write all of my code by hand (as it were). Another reason is that I’ll turn 76 before the end of this year (deo volente) – say no more.

Tennis Girl

The photograph known as ‘Tennis Girl’ is one of the best known images in the world. It has been sold millions of times, and copied millions more for free.  It has its own Wikipedia page.

I used it this weekend for a bit of fun.

I donate a website to the Fremantle Workers Club. I’ve paid for and supported it for many years. (I OWN THE SITE.)

I was recently asked (not officially – only in an email from the president’s partner) to put up a daily photo of the progress of the construction of the club’s new building. I was happy to do so.

I happened to notice that a tennis club was copying the progress photo to their website.  They were doing this without asking or informing me.

Just for fun, I changed the name of the relevant image so that the ‘tennis girl’ photo would be the one seen — instead of a building — by anyone who was downloading the photo on their site. …

To their credit, it only took them a day to notice, and their president rang ‘my’ president … and I’ve put everything back.

Everyone will be pleased to know that I shall ‘cease and desist’ (their president’s phrase) from providing this free website at the end of the year.

Update. I’ve now been told that that it was agreed between the clubs that the daily progress photo would be shared. No-one thought to tell me this.


A video about recycling says a couple of times, ‘Just throw it away’ (if it can’t be recycled).

I only have two bins. If it doesn’t go in the recycling bin, it goes into the landfill bin. Is that the message from this video?

In my ignorance of how to deal with this complexity, I put everything not biodegradable into the recycling bill (as the mayor told me to when he took up the job).

Is this wrong?

Sorry, that’s two questions. I should have kept it simple (which it’s not).


There was discussion of city nomenclature in the Facebook page Freo Massive, yesterday, following from the proposal to use the first-peoples name for Hobart. The OP  asked what people thought about changing the names of Fremantle and Perth. As a result I have actually changed the title of my homepage to Walyalup Stuff. Freo had a perfectly good name in 1829. The invader didn’t bother to ask.

The primary candidate for urgent change in this country is New South Wales. What a ridiculous name (literally)! Followed by Sinny, as it’s hard to spell.

The original name proposed for this state was Hesperia. It won’t happen, of course, but I like it. Under the American Empire, WA gets confused with Washington state.

Boo Park

Almost all of the original planning for Booyeembara Park in the 1999 Master Plan has not been carried out. However, the Park is much used for the usual purposes of walking, playing, eating and drinking, contemplation – and sailing model yachts.

I have only just become aware of the original master plan for Boo Park – despite having been walking in it, and what was there before, for over two decades. I just happened to click on the Friends site because it was at the top of my links page – and then clicked on “creating-booyeembara.html”, and then clicked on “Montreal Open Space (full doc here)” and so was able to read the master plan – which I hadn’t read before, because I hadn’t persevered to that extent.

Having been informed about the three ‘narratives’, I tried to follow them, starting with the geomorphological, the only one that exists in any sense of the word.

There’s a sort of look-out on the corner of Montreal and Stevens St, which provides almost the only verbal interpretation of the Park. The Rose Wise Pinter plaque gives some of the history of the area, but does not say anything about the Park’s plan. There’s a signboard nearby with a copy of the 1999 master plan, but it’s in shades of grey, and is too small and too near the ground. There are also some words, but only a few, and hard to read, on one of those structures on the path down to the jetty.

The spiral, representing a shell (as I’ve now found out), is not only overgrown, as it has been for some time, but is also close to dead. Either there’s no reticulation there, or it doesn’t work. The type of vegetation chosen seems to have been a poor choice, as it’s too untidy to define the spiral shape.

The view down to jetty is somewhat obscured by the tree next to it. Likewise the view back to the jetty from the other side of the pond. The line is also obscured by the vegetation in the pond on the eastern side which now almost completely hides the ‘jetty’ posts which would otherwise suggest it.

The ‘recycling narrative’ line is now simply a blue metal road between the olive trees, laid for council trucks to get to the inner end of the park. It starts at a locked gate and just trails off at the eastern end. The ‘terraces’ are some purposeless low stone walls containing a grove of cypresses – apparently a poor choice as only about a quarter still exist – the rest having been blown over by gusting winds in various storms.

I don’t think there has ever been attempt to show the ‘community’ entrance and line from the Stevens St entrance. I guess the money ran out before Phase 3 really got going.

The amphitheatre is half finished and is mainly used by graffitists who enjoy painting on the large blank walls conveniently provided by council workers who keep (at significant cost) painting over the graffiti so that the ‘artists’ can start again with a blank canvas. Some examples down this page. It’s also used regularly – at least once a year – for parties, as that page also shows. The area is fenced off, so that, theoretically, normal punters like me should not enter it. Ironically, therefore, the graffitists’ work is seen only by them and the council workers. I suppose it’s one form of ‘use’ of part of the Park.

The ‘billabong’ is a large hole in the ground. The ‘story-telling circle’ is an area of inconvenient beach sand, with six large poles adjacent which must have been used for something – on only one occasion, I think.

The ‘overlook’ shown in one diagram does not exist. The nearest viewing place is the 17th tee on the Royal Fremantle golf course, but it’s not where the ‘narrative’ lines terminate, more or less at the same point, as was intended.

The most successful part of the Park is the round grassy area with three picnic tables and a free gas BBQ. As it’s near the playground, people quite often organise parties for birthdays or whatever and kids can play safely on the grass, the equipment – and the trees, by the way.

The Park is used mostly by people walking – almost always with dogs, about half of which are on leashes as required by regulation. In fifteen years, I’ve seen a ranger in there once (plus two policepersons on another occasion). The walkers mostly walk on the paved paths, so I guess they must be seen as a success, tho I personally much prefer the crushed limestone paths in what I call the ‘W’.

There have also been a large number of weddings – tho the best spot for those is not attractive at the moment as it’s a bit overgrown. Also, kids from the neighbourhood use one of the artificial hills as a bike jump, which has radically spoilt the entrance to the ‘wedding area’ from the south, as they’ve destroyed the grassy path by landing on it.

Ducks have not bred all that successfully, possibly because of the number of dogs. However, purple swamp hens have multiplied in recent years.

The three large koi are still in the pond, tho I suppose they should not be. They must have been there for more than five years now. I saw them together only a few days ago. I see them as a feature.

Oh, and at least one German backpacker lived in the Park for a couple of weeks, putting his tent up at night and taking it down in the morning. We are still FB friends.

Invasion Day

The only local impact was the flyover of twenty or so old aeroplanes – rather different from that of Remembrance Day, when there was a scary flyover by a fighter aircraft of today: an FA118 or whatever.
But the message is the same: National Day < nationalism > militarism.
With my interest in language, I’m very aware that the first two letters in ‘Nazi’ are the first two letters of ‘National’. It’s not a coincidence; it’s a historical fact.