Ron’s Mark Twain moment

SOCIAL media swept Fremantle like wildfire this week that heritage ‘warrior’ Ron Davidson had fallen: That he had ventured off into The Great Unknown. 

Mayor Brad Pettit put out a bulletin as did Fremantle MP Simone McGurk. And the sad story was shared over and over.

Fremantle Society chief John Dowson alerted his members and there was a palpable eruption of grief across the port city.

But the story was wrong. Mr Davidson was still alive, and while not exactly kicking, he now joins local history as the subject of one of the port stories he was so fond of collecting. 

The social media misunderstanding resulted from a very touching tribute by Jane Davidson, one of Ron’s offspring. 

Anne Brake, a Fremantle local and long-time luminary of the National Trust was the one who put the Chook right. But it took a moment for the story to sink in. When she told The Chook that “Ron was still with us of course” we took her words to mean he would be long and fondly remembered. It was only when she said she had just visited him an hour or two earlier that the penny dropped. 

“That is such a Dad story,” Jane’s older sister Emma laughed.

 Jane, who was taken aback by the reaction to her post added she only wanted to convey her love and appreciation for her gravely ill father.   

Mr Davidson was one of the fearsome few in the 1970s who took on the strongly pro-development city council who were intent on rendering the historic port an echo of the fast-emerging modern-day Perth. 

By the 70s the graceful east end of the port had been downed by the wrecker’s ball and replaced ugly concrete and steel, car yards and commerce.

It was only a matter of time before the city centre and the historic West End followed: Especially once the scores of historic buildings along Market and South Street and along Cliff Street were replaced with six-lane truck routes to and from Victoria Quay.

Out of the blue came a handful of heroic locals who shouted “STOP”, manned 

the ‘barricades’ and set out to change local opinion such that the West End is now a state-registered heritage jewel.

by ANDREW SMITH Chief Chook

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