SALLY RAINE is the secretary of Save Freo Beaches (SFB) which opposes the WA transport department and Fremantle Sailing Club proposal to excise beachfront next to the club for boating activities.
THE Save Freo Beaches Alliance is a community group formed to protect Fremantle’s beaches.
South Beach, which includes Dog Beach, is a pristine beach with users coming from locally and afar.
In 2008, SFB gathered more than 7000 signatories to a petition tabled in state parliament for the preservation of local beaches. SFB is determined to keep coastal assets for the wider public. There is nothing more fair and equitable.
South Beach is available to everyone. It is known internationally for its unique, protected beaches and calm, safe environment for swimmers, families children and dogs. It is the last southern Fremantle beach that remains, after private and commercial interests claimed most of the available coastline.
It is visited by thousands, with locals often walking or cycling to the beach and many coming from the greater metropolitan area, supporting local cafes and economy.
What South Beach is not: it does not cost thousands of dollars to join. It is not privately owned. It does not have its own restaurants or bars. It does not take approximately 28 hectares of coastline and water. It does not threaten $5000 fines for parking inside its area without authorisation. It does not ban dogs. It does not have 90-horsepower RIB boats supporting trainer yachts with a loudhailer.
The notion put by the Fremantle Sailing Club that boat users need beach access next to the club’s premises should be treated with suspicion. You might recall the previous attempt by the club to promote a launching ramp in the same area, linked with disabled access, which was rejected by the City of Fremantle.
More recently, the city voted for a 125-metre boating exclusion zone at South Beach, and erected signage.
The FSC has its own beach for launching from, which I am told was previously available to the public, but is no longer.
So why should swimmers, families, children and dogs lose more beach? Indeed, the FSC lease requires the club to make the full facilities of the “Yacht Harbour” available for use by third parties. Perhaps the FSC could better facilitate boat users having access to the club’s facilities or boat users could use the significant facilities at Woodman Point.
The FSC’s claim that the Department of Transport’s proposal for a boat access zone of 30m onto South Beach amounts to less than four per cent of the available beach area is misleading. In reality, the 30m access zone is part of an overall 120m boat access zone that would represent approximately 29 per cent of the South Beach Dog Beach, including 30m of shoreline at the main beach entrance.
In any event, creating a boating zone among swimmers, families, children and dogs is a recipe for disaster. Boats will inevitably encroach the swimming area, and it is counter-intuitive, even dangerous, for boats to access a beach adjacent to rocks. Further, there are potential health and environmental risks from propellers, spilt diesel or petrol, plastic, fishing lines, hooks, bait bags or sewerage gathering at the end of the beach.
Criticism of one of SFB’s committee members for posting a photo of kids taken seven years ago jumping off a boat is missing the point. The boat, one of Fremantle’s most historic fishing vessels, was anchored off shore well away from swimmers.
SFB has no objection to boats at South Beach, provided there is a safe groyne-to-groyne exclusion zone for swimmers, as exists at Cottesloe for 200m.