THE quirky cottage that pitted one woman against the might of Fremantle Ports may be relocated and repurposed for community use.
Bayly Street’s Carmen Mullally was something of a real-life Darryl Kerrigan, dodging resumption orders while the port expanded its container trade around her, until she was the only one of the street’s original 30 households left.
These days the towers of containers across the road dwarf her modest weatherboard, while the freight trains on the realigned track pass a dozen metres from the back door.
Ms Mullally died a month ago at the age of 89, and after negotiations her family agreed to sell the property to the port authority – some 30 years after it finally gave up on the resumption orders and accepted her as a neighbour.
Following her death there were calls to preserve the house, although Port’s special projects manager Neil Stanbury said no decision had yet been made on its future.
“We’re doing a site review at the moment and that includes whether or not the house can be utilised as part of port operations,” Mr Stanbury said.
“If that doesn’t prove feasible it’s likely it will be offered through a process for re-use elsewhere in the community, perhaps in North Fremantle.”
Mark Woodcock sits on an Inner Harbour group that’s a conduit between the community and the port and says there was a strong desire from members to see the house made available for the community.
Mr Woodcock is also a Fremantle Society member and says they had a look at the cottage as a longed-after permanent home, but decided they probably didn’t have the resources to finance the inevitable and ongoing renovation costs of an aged timber cottage.
In a joint statement North Fremantle Community Association stalwarts Ann Forma and Gerry MacGill called on the community to channel Ms Mullally’s spirit of resistance to fight any further “dismemberment”, alluding to the proposed Curtin Avenue extension threatening to rip through the town centre.
The pair say the expansion of the port including the approaches to Stirling Bridge was driven purely by a desire for fast-moving traffic and goods at the expense of the suburb’s residents.
“There was no reparation for the destruction, nor did any impact studies or community consultations precede it,” they wrote.
“The population loss saw the end of the Town of North Fremantle as an independent municipality in its own right, bringing about its absorption into the City of Fremantle.
“The opportunity presented by the transfer of port operations to the Outer Harbour should be grasped to restore North Fremantle as an East West connected community.
“Carmen’s house, symbolic of her resistance, needs to be conserved for posterity.”