Fremantle Hotspotting Again

I glanced across the Chamber blogs of the last four or so years and noticed that we, and others, regularly tag Fremantle as a hotspot. It might be because of a list of development approvals for projects (that may or may not see the light of day), a yearlong tourism public relations opportunity (Lonely Planet 2016) or another festival weekend rolls through town.

But our current hotspotting is for none of the reasons listed above. A poorly handled process by Council in August 2016 has successfully created division within Fremantle and a great feel community event has become muted.

This Thursday the Fishing Boat Harbour Traders and the Fremantle BID step up to present the Australia Day fireworks. It has returned to its roots as the Fremantle Cracker Night and comes with a host of family friendly entertainment spread over the weekend. For more information, click here.

Sadly, there are those that see Fremantle as a protest destination on January 26. They don’t seem to have clicked that the Fireworks are happening. So, to the people that come to protest the position of the City of Fremantle, you need to know that they didn’t want to listen in August and aren’t likely to be there to hear you on Australia Day. Best pick another date when they are going to be around. There is no need to ruin the experience of the families that want to be there.

Everyone is welcome to come to Fremantle on January 26, 27, 28 and 29.

Enjoy the weekend but most of all enjoy the glitter in the sky.

Making the Voice of Business Really Count in 2017

Fremantle is in for a bumper ride in 2017. Demolition/construction commences at the Kings Square site that will one day house a new workforce in Fremantle; a range of celebrations are happening regularly through the year; a highly energetic State election in March and Local Government elections in October.

For the State election, your residency dictates where your vote is placed and counted. But, did you know you can vote in Local Government elections even if your connection is property ownership or business location? That’s right, you don’t have to live in Fremantle, Cockburn, East Fremantle or Melville to be able to vote there. You are eligible to vote if you own or occupy (lease) a premises for at least the next three months (from application).

However, as a business or property owner you are not automatically enrolled to vote in Local Government elections, so you must make a deliberate decision to enrol every two years. There is also a limit to the number of votes allocated per property.

So I start the year with a simple request to the Fremantle business community, download your application, complete the details and send it in. If you are a building owner or occupant click here to download your application. Other general information for Local Government elections can be accessed by clicking here.

2017 is the year to raise the voice of the business community in the election of your local representatives. No matter where you operate your business, you are an important part of the local community and economy.

Welcome to 2017!

Olwyn Williams

Fremantle Lights Up For A Great Christmas

We are at the pointy end of the retail year. You don’t have to get lost braving the hordes and remote carparks of soulless shopping malls. You can do it all in Fremantle! Fremantle is the best fresh air shopping centre in WA, with great bookshops, music, fashion (men & women), jewellery, homewares, food, art & design, renowned restaurants, hotels and cafes.

The Christmas lights in Kings Square are on. The true and the best Santa is in residence in Fremantle from Wednesday to Sunday from 10.30am to 3.00pm. Over 40 businesses have dressed their windows for the Festive season, sparkling and bright. Parking Santa and Elves are roaming the streets paying for the parking of shoppers. The first hour of parking is always free at Queensgate, Parry Street and Beach Street.

We have some national chains in the Fremantle CBD with the likes of Target, Mountain Designs, Cotton On, Kathmandu but what sets Fremantle apart is the really exciting independent retail.

Friday to Sunday, the Fremantle Markets and E-Shed Markets add to the retail landscape with an extraordinary range of specialist retailers and between Thursday and Sunday, MANY in Kings Square has a whole raft of local products, retro and start up retailers.

If you looking for sparkle – head to Blue Buddha, Fremantle Opals, The Artisan Store, Creations, Kailis or Found (at the Fremantle Art Centre).

If it is beauteousness you seek, try The Lip Lab, Djurra, Clear Skin Clinic or Clara Beauty.

Home & Lifestyle: The Home Provedore, Stunned Emu Designs, Kate & Abel, Pigeonhole, The Archive and Kitchen Warehouse (O’Connor).

In menswear Warrens, Bousfields, Terrace Men cover off all ages and lifestyles. In women’s wear you should never go past Megan Salmon on Queen Victoria or in the CBD, Morrisons, Spectator, Ami Bel, Creato Amano, Eros, Casa Rialto.

Gender everyone: Margaret River Hemp, 3 Stories, Pigeonhole.

Shoes: Bodkins Bootery, Bobs, Paul Carroll, Mi-Life, KeySol, Hunter, Hype.

For books and music – New Edition, Mills Records, Record Finder, Bill Campbell Books.

Food Retail is almost endless – first begin at Kakulas Sister and Little Sister. Then when you get sick of shopping you can break to have a snack at Culley’s, or something more substantial at Benny’s, Sandrinos, The Monk, Bathers Beach House, Clancy’s, Cha Cha Bull, Little Creatures, Ciccerello’s and so it goes on. True post retail therapy can be found with ride on the Ferris wheel or a swim at Bathers Beach. If all gets too much then take off with Rottnest Express.

May it be a fruitful and enjoyable Christmas for your customers, staff and family!

Premier’s Announcement Triggers Kings Square Development

Kings Square was a great place to be this morning. Premier Colin Barnett announced the Government’s decision to move the Department of Housing, the Department of Corrective Services and some sections from the Department of Transport into a redeveloped Myers Building as part of the redevelopment of King’s Square. Finance Minister Sean L’Estrange spoke of the economic benefit for the State Government and Fremantle. For the State Government, the decentralisation deal will deliver savings of $53 million over 15 years.

Today’s announcement is a game changer for Fremantle. By 2020, 1500 workers  will be coming into the City Monday to Friday. Even the build process will bring many hundreds into the heart of Fremantle. Beyond new people coming to Fremantle when we need them the most, the Kings Square development will give Fremantle a true heart with new civic and community facilities.

Congratulations to Matthew McNeilly, Sirona Capital, Mayor Brad Pettit and the team at the City of Fremantle for staying the course. The Fremantle Chamber of Commerce is pleased to be a long term supporter of the vision for more people to live and work in Fremantle.  Our business community needs it. Fremantle needs it.

Fremantle Matters – State of the State Luncheon with the Hon. Mark McGowan MLA, Leader of the Opposition

Sometimes all we see of our leaders are door stop style events, that deliver snappy slogans. These are great for media but don’t do justice for what you need to know for your business or industry. So Fremantle Chamber is committed to getting you access to the substance and detail behind the slogans.

So far in 2016, our State of the State Luncheons have seen State Government Ministers speaking about major projects impacting the Fremantle region (Freight Link and the sale of Fremantle Port). So before WA well and truly moves into election mode, the Chamber is pleased to welcome the Hon Mark McGowan MLA, Leader of the Opposition to speak to the business community on Friday 21st October about plans a WA Labor State Government has for the Fremantle region.

Fremantle is a great place to live and visit. It is also a major hub for Western Australia’s trade, tourism, engineering and marine industries and still has significant opportunities for development. The policies of any future State Government are going to have a major impact on economic viability and lifestyle. In the last few days alone, positioning of political sides has escalated with some prominent infrastructure challenges laid bare.

Our State of the State lunch with the Hon Mark McGowan MLA is more than a chance to hear more from the Leader of the Opposition, it is about your future.

I look forward to seeing you at the Esplanade Hotel Fremantle – by Rydges on Friday 21 October.

Tickets are available for purchase through the Chamber’s website by clicking here or for more information email Zoe Saunders at

Welcoming Marcela Ekin de Castro to the Chamber

After a variety of farewells this week, Victoria Willetts heads off for Canada in the next few days with all of our best wishes.  This means a new person steps into the role of the Chamber’s Executive Manager and there’s is no better time than now  to make the formal introduction to Marcela Ekin de Castro.

Marcela joined the Chamber in June in the Export documentation services area.  She came to Western Australia earlier this year after working with the Canberra based Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) for nearly a decade. In that time Marcela worked across a range of ACCI’s operations in administration, project management, research and analysis, event management and communications. 

Since graduating in Economics from the Universidad del Rosario, Bogota Colombia, Marcela has gained her Master of International Business and Graduate Diploma in International Affairs from the Australian National University. Just prior to joining the Chamber, Marcela added a Certificate III in Logistics from Challenger Institute of Technology.

Welcome Marcela, we look forward to you being part of the continuing development of the Fremantle Chamber. Do not hesitate to introduce yourself to Marcela at Chamber events over coming months.

Something will sparkle in 2017. Freo Cracker Night to return.

It has been tumultuous couple of weeks in Fremantle. With City HQ blinkers set to high position, a major family event that attracted many tens of thousands to Fremantle was cancelled without a speck of regard for the economic impact for hospitality, tourism and the marine sector. It was never a great day for retail but it was an extraordinary day for profile, a great reminder that Fremantle is open for business.

Even though the game was over before the shouting started with the budget significantly reduced months ago, our position remains the same. The Chamber’s objection to the decision was all about reputation, profile, economic impact AND the process taken. Now it is about to making sure that economic impact is considered with every decision City HQ makes.

In the meantime, January 26th will not be without some sparkle. The Fishing Boat Harbour Traders are taking us back to where it began – the Freo Cracker Night.

The budget is not as big so it will be a shorter event. But YOU could make a difference. Thunderous applause to the Fishing Boat Harbour.

If you are able to be a partner in presenting the Freo Cracker Night please contact Eddie Watling on

City HQ are progressing with their family picnic day concept with concert plans for the weekend following the 26th January 2017.


Making Sparks Fly

Fireworks - 1.jpg


Tonight the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce will continue its opposition to the cancellation of the 2017 Australia Day Fireworks at the August City of Fremantle Council. If you wish to join us please do so. The meeting starts at 6pm this evening, but the agenda item (FPOL 1608-4) is deep into the evening’s proceedings so be prepared for a night out/in.

The Chamber’s objection to the decision is all about reputation, profile, economic impact AND the process taken. There was a lot that City HQ didn’t think about and still hasn’t. We met with the Mayor and council staff last week to discuss but our position remains unchanged. It is not good enough that such a profile event is cast aside after admitting the “process has not been ideal”.

The Australia Day Fireworks are a significant event for Fremantle with it driving over $2.5million into the local economy – especially in the hospitality and marine industries. The Chamber has never claimed it to be a great day for retail but it is an extraordinary day for profile. Never more than now do we need people to come to Fremantle, this event is a great reminder that we are open for business

The City may well believe there were a lot of right reasons to head into “researching alternatives” but rushing the 2017 cancellation through has not delivered a good enough replacement for what has become one of the great family events of the region.

With Council factoring in 5% cuts across operations for the 16/17 budget, the Australia Day Firework budget was magically/strategically cut by 37% taking the brunt for other project areas. Well before it went to Council for ratification the Fireworks were doomed to fail.

Tonight the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce will call for the decision to be deferred, and:

  • The 2017 & 2018 Fireworks to proceed, giving Council staff adequate time to consult across the community (including the business community) as to an appropriate celebration;
  • The restitution of the budget for the Australia Day Fireworks; and
  • The implementation of a comprehensive consultation and engagement program across the community to ensure the decision of Council for future celebrations reflects the outcome of this consultation process.

Fireworks Go Bang!

It was but a little mention in The Sunday Times on August 7th but it set off all the bells and whistles, with the news of the City of Fremantle’s proposal to cancel the 2017 Australia Day Fireworks Show.

The response from our members and business community was overwhelmingly shocked and surprised at the decision. From its proud origins as a “Cracker Night” the event had become one of the great family events of the region.

For those confused about how the event has a positive economic spin for Fremantle, I will keep it simple. Hospitality does well on the day. The fireworks don’t hurt retail too much because the afternoon is largely a retail write off anyway. People are not really in a buying mindset because they are preparing to go wherever they are going.

So it actually is one of the easiest days of the year to close some roads and play host to an event that brings tens of thousands of people into Fremantle and the local vantage points. Bring the family to Fremantle, have a good time and go home bearing good thoughts of their visit to Fremantle. Our objection to the decision is all about reputation, profile AND the process taken. There was a lot that City HQ didn’t think about.

So my presentation to the City of Fremantle Policy and Finance Committee last week was as follows:

“Thank you for the opportunity speak on the matter of the cancellation of the Australia Day Fireworks in 2017 and 2018.

The Australia Day fireworks are one of the most loved family events Fremantle presents and the 50,000 (and increasing) people it brings to Fremantle build our reputation.

The Chamber is very aware that the Council’s Festival & Events program is not required to consider economic impact in the delivery and development of events. I am here today because this needs to change.

The Fremantle Chamber of Commerce does not support the cancelation or transferring of the Fireworks because of the impact on the reputation of Fremantle.  

In a period where people don’t need to come to Fremantle anymore, this event has a significant impact on our local economy – its builds a reputation as a family friendly place, a reputation our CBD sorely needs.

The media commentary over the last two days, has inspired a strong bond. The business community does not agree with the proposal. If consulted prior to today this reaction would be the same.

Some feedback from the business community are as follows:

  • There appears to have been very little thought to or consultation with business before placing this item on the Agenda and as a result the business economy of our city looks to be the casualty once again.
  • There has been little done by way of policy or promotion to encourage new business or re-invigorate the economy. This event has been one of the only success stories in recent years and now they want to take it away?
  • I have spoken to many customers & my team & the feedback has been that the fireworks on Australia Day is of bringing together of families & the community. As such we would not be supporting any cancellation of the Fireworks.
  • Should there be a reduction of families attending this festivity it will cause a negative effect on all businesses.
  • It will definitely have a negative affect on our business. If the foot traffic is down on a public holiday it may not be viable to open with the penalty rates that we need to pay we would reconsider our trading hours, the previous owners did not open Australia Day… 
  • I would hazard a guess that the council do not have anything in place yet to replace what we are currently doing.


 There are some business that don’t make a cent on Australia day but they don’t begrudge the celebration of fireworks because it gives people a great Fremantle experience.

 Yes the date selected for the celebration of Australia Day is historically pretty hollow and the Chamber understands there is a need to build more respectful national celebration.

 For now, this event has a huge positive economic impact on the business community of Fremantle. Build the alternate event over time but do not “rob Peter to buy Paul”.

With no public celebration of Australia Day on Australia Day – Fremantle will be muted. The Mayor has commented on his discomfort at the mode of celebration, right now the most uncomfortable thing for Fremantle is to be muted.

If Fremantle is serious about being seen to be the “second city” of our metropolitan area – we need to shine. Not pass the joy to our neighbours.

I ask the Committee to not endorse the proposal.”

We also need to look back at what happened in Fremantle on that day before the fireworks were established. With no activation, groups of humans roamed the streets making new public installations of rubbish bins and glass, interspersed with quite aggressive interpretative dance. There aren’t many people that want to go back to that scenario.

It may well be that Fremantle is closed for business on Australia Day. Perhaps a well deserve rest day for all.

Digital know how for your business: Choose E-Biz this July

There are boundless digital opportunities and platforms to present your business to the world. Whilst you are getting on with the job of running your business, most will parcel up the job of a businesses digital presence and delegate to someone else, an external consultant or employee. They get on with the job and come back to you for major decisions and approvals. However you choose, it is a significant investment in someone’s time and/or money.

So how are you making decisions about that significant investment? Do you have complete faith in others or make strategically informed decisions about who to use, what platforms and systems you will be recommended? Why have a website, when you can use social media platforms?

The Fremantle Chamber of Commerce E-Biz series is about moving you towards strategically informed status. It is the underlying know how you really need to make your digital representation effective without retaining to be a geek?

These workshops are for you if you are thinking about stepping up your online presence, sorting your way through a raft of highly techno looking website proposals or just starting from scratch.

Website Development: Domain Name, Hosting, Content Management Systems & Shopping Carts
Tuesday, 21 July 2016

A look at how to build a website that works effectively for your business. From registering your domain name and organising website hosting, finding a website developer who doesn’t need to cost you the earth, through to choosing the right Content Management Systems (CMS) or shopping cart to support your future business direction.

Website Development: E-Commerce
Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The basics of e-commerce. We will show you how to plan an e-commerce website and also understand the 7 basic elements of e-commerce including shopping carts, payment gateways, customer service and returns. We will show you examples of B2B and B2C e-commerce sites and teach you the steps to plan your own e-commerce site so you can give Amazon a run for their money!


Ed Keay-Smith, of Online Impact, presents both sessions.   It is his job to know the ins and out of website development and ecommerce. Earlier I put the question ‘Why have a website, when you can use social media platforms?’, Ed gave me the answer during an E Biz series late last year. He may give it again. To find out more come along to either or both sessions!

Tickets: $50 members   $60 non members

Book at the following link: