Is the Freo I see and experience – the one with spilling over cafes, vibrant night markets, wonderful historic building facades juxtaposed with modern interiors, a fascinating working port, splashes of Chinese or Italian language emanating from behind delicatessen countertops, flocks of tourists rubbing selfie-shooting shoulders with even larger flocks of seagulls and passionate locals and artists and hippies and hipsters and bogans and bodgies and widgies and mods and yuppies and yippies and tall poppies and skaters and paupers and gazillionaires and cormorants and dogs, small bars and large pubs, live music and art exhibitions, steel-capped steel-horsed bikers and barefooted barebacked horseriders, river swims and ocean dives and community housing and minimalist masterpieces and ramen and falafel and industrious young entrepreneurs and wise codger legends, activated art studios and common use spaces – the same ‘dead’, ‘decaying’, ‘dying’ and ‘not-as-good-as-it-used-to-be’ Freo that the naysayer doomsayer set refer to?

Or can I just not see the disaster which is unfolding right in front of my eyes?

I live and work in Fremantle and daily I see those challenged by addiction, those who, like me, are far from perfect, the odd boarded-up shop and, yep, I have been on the receiving end of the odd bit of vitriol late at night and I’ve had my bike stolen.

There are wonky flash points at night where I probably wouldn’t choose to roll out my swag with a crispy fifty poking out the bottom of my pillow for all to see. You see and experience that in every port city on earth. One thing you don’t see everywhere is the melting pot of culture we have here, all jammed in side-by-side. It is this type of diversity which should be embraced.

Not everyone likes every element of it and nobody has to. But what a vibrant, non-vanilla and happening hood to call home.

Anyone seen my bike on Gumtree?

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Van

Van Ivo has an idiosyncratic, rhythmic turn of phrase when he writes about his hometown. Expect to see more from his pen in future issues of Freo Pages.