Building up a city

Twins Halle and Taylor Bryant, their pal Harvey Amin and mums Michelle Bryant and Charlene Amin were drawn into Freo by the promise of free Lego. Photo by Steve Grant.

FREMANTLE’S first foray into getting some life back into its streets, and more importantly its shops, got off to a flyer this week thanks to the promise of free Lego.

The West End was crawling with youngsters and their parents, who queued several dozen deep outside businesses taking part in a joint initiative of Fremantle council and Water Corporation to restart the port city’s economy after the Covid-19 shutdown and while water pipes are being replaced down High Street.

A drive

Ardross resident Charlene Amin and her Como friend Michelle Bryant brought their kids into Freo after hearing about the Lego Adventure Trail.

Ms Bryant said they don’t normally venture into Fremantle.

“No, it feels like it’s a bit of a drive, and the parking can be difficult,” she said.

“For us it’s like something you’d do for a holiday.”

She said the parking hadn’t been “too bad” this time around.

The head of the council’s destination marketing committee said Fremantle is well poised to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Fremantle is at a significant advantage as long as it leverages the work that had been done before shutdown,” Linda Wayman told the Herald.

“It has a brand which it established nearly a year ago … a brand that was being recognised and used.”

Mr Wayman said Covid couldn’t have come at a worse time for Fremantle.

Its January visitation figures stick out like an upside-down ice cream cone; 25,000 more visitors than any time in the last five years. But by March the cone has a dribble reaching to the ground; the devastating impact of Covid.

Ms Wayman says Fremantle could seek to capitalise on the changes the pandemic will bring.

“They think the trend will be for much smaller conference, and Fremantle with it boutique hotels is perfectly placed to pitch for those businesses.

Rottnest

“We have also strengthened relations with Rottnest Island and there are some ideas that are bubbling away.

“One of those it that we’ll be suggesting that people go to Rotto overnight, but stay in Fremantle for the weekend.”

Ms Wayman says they’ve been working hard to convince the state’s tourism mandarins to take more notice of Fremantle.

“Having a vibrant port town is important to the wider Perth brand.”

Ms Wayman said the next step after the holidays was to see Fremantle through the winter period, which is traditionally a challenging time given its reliance on the tourism sector.

Centre push

WITH successive state government plans for an Aboriginal cultural centre having come and gone without a brick being laid, federal Labor MP Patrick Gorman says it’s time for the Commonwealth to fund a national centre in WA. 

Mr Gorman says after years of lapsed plans: “I’m really optimistic we will get some movement by the end of the year. [It’s] been a good idea for a long time, but I believe the time has well and truly come”. 

The federal advisory body Infrastructure Australia has listed a national Indigenous art and cultural centre as one of the near-term needs in its 2020 infrastructure priority list, but didn’t suggest a location.

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