OPPONENTS of the Perth Freight Link are digging in for a long fight, fortifying themselves with secret tunnels, dragon-shaped lock-ons and an expanded tree-top village to prevent the demolition of seven abandoned houses along the route.
Occupy spokesperson Simon Peterffy, who’s also director of the Forest Rescue activist group, told the Herald the veteran activists would be hard to move from the houses, which are at the corner of High Street and Stirling Highway.
One lock-on is accessed via an arm-sized hole through thick concrete and is perilously close to power cables, all but ruling out the use of power tools to cut it out.
Mr Peterffy rejects Bateman Liberal MP Matt Taylor’s claim the houses are full of druggies and crime, saying Occupy has cleaned them up and in several places has even gone to the trouble to repair floorboards.
There’s now an art gallery, music studio, library of activist material and vegetable gardens in the village squat.
The group had actively sought out young homeless men to offer them shelter, but Mr Peterffy says his group enforces a ban on drugs and alcohol. About 50 come or go during the week.
Guests are offered a choice of mattresses and a bunch of old blankets; there is no check in or check out and all items are donated.
They can also get free clothes from an old wardrobe and have a hot meal at the Dumpster Dining area.
Aboriginal activists who’ve split from the protest camp on Heirisson Island have also moved in.
Spokesperson Dee Tinley — who’s Labor shadow minister Peter Tinley’s sister — says egos had led to the Heirisson fracture and most of the women decided to move to Fremantle.
They’ve been holding painting courses in local parks and have a studio running in one of the houses.
Ms Tinley says as they get more settled, they’ll start using the sides of the houses to amp up their anti-link messages.
“It’s a functional place now, both for the neighbours and the homeless,” Ms Tinley says.
“They don’t shit in their nest any more. Everyone is happy with it.”
Mr Peterffy says a couple of weeks ago WA Main Roads contractor Brajkovich fenced off a building in preparation for demolition, but during the night protestors “confiscated” it.
by STEVE GRANT and MARTA PASCUAL JUANOLA