It was a sunny summer Saturday when my wife and I first saw our apartment in the Woodson’s Building on Cantonment Street. I only had to glance at the town hall clock, visible over some rooftops from the living room window, before I knew this was the place for us.
After we left the building, we strolled around Freo for a while in a kind of dazed stupor – elated that we’d found our first home and simultaneously giddy at the prospect of signing up for a mortgage that spelt the end of my happy fantasy of being able to chuck my job and take off travelling for 12 months if the mood ever grabbed me.
We headed for Market Street, which was bustling. Kakulas’ window seemed like a portal to a Middle Eastern bazaar – sacks of grains and dried beans open on the floor, the air rich with mysterious spices. As we made for the train station, we were drawn inexorably into each shop we passed: Lick Clothing, the pretty French kitsch of Store and then Long Macc, oohing and aahing at each new interior.
Of course we’d been up Market Street before (although it was the first time my wife had managed to get me into either Lick or Store), but our new status as almost-homeowners changed things. It seemed like this was part of our new territory. We’d seen the house, and now we were inspecting the backyard. It was ours, and it was beautiful.
Then and now, traders are a big part of what makes Freo special. That’s why it makes me sad when I hear and see how tough it can be. And it’s not just those uncontrollable events like the GFC that makes a trader’s life difficult. In Fremantle, there’s strangulating red tape, anti-social behaviour, parking issues, and the petty, eccentric and downright illogical stifling of innovative ideas and new initiatives.
Moore & Moore
I have in mind a specific example as I write this – Moore & Moore. Moore & Moore has a special place in my affections, not only because it’s my regular haunt on weekends. I have a friend who’s the epitome of Melbourne-hipster-cool (in my admittedly inexpert opinion, anyway), and the single time in our years-long friendship that I’ve managed to impress him with my taste in anything was when I took him to Moore & Moore.
Moore & Moore has had the brakes seriously applied to its ability to hold evening functions by the City, apparently on the back of just a couple of complaints about noise. Roel Loopers expresses the situation far better than I could on his blog: click here for a refresher.
Moore & Moore is currently being allowed to expand its alfresco area, which is just fantastic – but this ‘giving with one hand and taking away with the other’ behaviour from the City seems bizarre to say the least.
Clearly, if we’re going to facilitate expansion of the retail and food sectors of Freo, a comprehensive strategy that deals with all the factors that influence a business’s success is needed – not the current ad hoc approach. The City should be rewarding innovative ideas, and making sure that the bad, lazy, knee-jerk kind of bureaucracy (which is unfortunately rife, especially when it comes to enforcement) doesn’t mean that good, new initiatives will be hamstrung by red tape.
Once again, this post has become much longer than I intended – but like most things Freo, this is a personal issue for me. It’s my backyard I’m talking about, after all.