Merfolk make a splash for bridge

Merfolk make a splash for bridge to pause its proposed alignment of a new bridge, which would see this one demolished. Photos by Duncan Wright

A QUICK-FIRE protest against current plans to replace the Fremantle Traffic Bridge had a mystical touch to it on Sunday.

The colourful gathering of mostly Fremantle residents at the base of the bridge on N Warrall Park also boasted a large contingent of local Merfolk, styled off the men’s mental health calendar recently featured in the Herald (“Brad’s our Mr May-or,” Herald, September 2, 2020).

Residents held signs reading Pause the Bridge and Our Bridge, Our Say.

Alignment

The protest was organised by the Better Bridge Community Campaign which says Main Road’s proposed alignment, which will mean demolishing the existing structure, lacks proper consultation, doesn’t recognise the old bridge’s significance and has design flaws that will negatively affect residents in North Fremantle.

Campaign organiser and White Gum Valley resident Rebecca Clarkson said given the event was organised just three days prior, she was thrilled with the turnout, particularly the effort that had gone into the mermaid costumes.

“You don’t just want to do a protest. You want to have a bit of a party with it,” Ms Clarkson said.

“We want them to stop the project and to go back out and listen and have a dialogue about the design and where it’s located.

“The last thing we want is a Roe 8 campaign.”

North Fremantle resident Greg Dale lives in nearby apartments and said Main Road’s alignment would give him an unwanted new neighbour.

“It will be four metres away from our bedrooms,” he said. “It’s a lovely vista being destroyed.

“It will ruin the last park the council owns on the river,” Mr Dale said. 

Campaigner and event organiser Kavi Guppta said Main Road’s plan to leave 19 metres of the original bridge for heritage purposes was a “token gesture”. 

“The bridge is a heritage-listed asset,” Mr Guppta said. “Why destroy it.” 

Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt attended the protest to give his support: “It was good to see this level of community engagement,” Dr Pettitt said.

“I am keen to work with the state government on another alternative to the current plans for the bridge.”

Main Roads was due to meet with local stakeholders yesterday (Friday, October 23) to discuss their concerns.

Mermen a hit

Meanwhile, free-diver Tania Douthwaite’s Mermantle calendar has been selling like hotcakes since being featured in the Chook.

The lure of a bare-chested mayor Brad Pettitt sporting a dashing tail has seen the first run sell out even before the official public launch.

Ms Douthwaite is using money raised from the calendar to help young men experience free-diving, which she says is a wonderful way to connect with nature and raise their mental wellbeing.

She’s got the second print run ready to go and will be holding the public launch this Thursday November 29 at the Moore’s Building from 5-9pm.

If you can’t make that, get your hands on a copy at www. bluebackfreedivingandyoga.com

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