Free in Freo

Flew with the dawning sun as it raced the plane from Sydney to Perth yesterday.  A beautiful, thing, flying across high up like that; first flight I’ve just completely enjoyed – ever.  Don’t know why.  But has to be mixed up with the way I’m travelling lighter and lighter these days n nights.


Anyway, to Fremantle where the rest of the day was a succession of delights.

Studio room at The Painted Fish


I reckoned I’d died and gone to heaven when I saw my room; a glassed studio called, The Painted Fish, a short walk from the ocean.  It’s on the web.  The owners, Shani and Tim showed me their two B E A Utiful and gentle goats, and the whole of their street, Hulbert Street, planted out to gardens.

Olive tree in gabion wall in Perth’s Urban Orchard and one of my hosts, Jana

Then by train from Freo along the coast to the Urban Orchard in the heart of Perth; imagine looking out at the ocean then landing at a station where there’s food growing, water bringing peace and all on top of what was once a car park.


Wetland as part of the urban orchard on top of former car park roof

On the way in and back by train we saw a pod of dolphins, feeding in the one place of the river for some hours; must have been lots of fish there.  The photo below shows where they were but you can’t see them because my phone camera and I can’t find out how to zoom in quickly on a train yet . . . but it’s reassuring to know, to me, at least, that dolphins may coexist there with all the port infrastructure.

Dolphins were feeding in the river

Then the best part of the day and something you just gotta try; Shani, who with Tim, owns and runs The Painted Fish, put me in the bike cart, me sitting up like a little lucky boy with a blankey over my knees, and she biked me into the New Edition book shop for the In Conversation with Mayor Brad Pettit which Peter Newman of CUSP (more on this later) compered.

Good space, a civil society

Bloke Sans Blankey, Mayor Pettit, Peter Newman

Standing room only and a sweet spot night of civilised conversation with those in the room, Brad and I.

Shani, boy in cart, blankey

After, laden by seafood cooked with respect and Italian hospitality, Shani biked me back to The Painted Fish, me sitting there again with blankey, holding an LED light for headlights, while we tootled through the cold night air, cars and buses whizzing by us, me videoing it, the road at my feet and the walls of the utes n buses whiskers away.

Being spoilt, packed in by Driver Shani; Let’s go . . .

I would say it’s one of the best things that you can do – a tinge of danger, a thrill of calling out to other bikies, the looks of amazement and smiles.

Ahh, you gotta love this lovely, lovely Earth; mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

And so it goes,


2 Responses to “Free in Freo”
  1. Louis de Villiers says:

    Dear Michael

    What a pleasure it was to meet you last night and hear your inspiring talk and participate in a warm community event on a cold night.

    You asked me to send you my question so that you may respond to it in more detail in your blog. My question was about the efficacy of capturing and storing water in a winter rainfall area such as the Australian West coast where the winters are short and sharp with a long, dry summer to follow, and, in addition, sandy soils.

    The other question I raised was about urban lighting and whether we really need, or want, all the street lighting we have. This was bit of an aside to your observation that the black roads absorb light. Therefore possibly requiring stronger lights?

  2. Graeme Peirce says:


    Myself and my wife Astrid have just returned from your talk at Hilton Community centre and it evoked many interesting thoughts and feelings.
    Your courage and determination for making a change and sharing with people your thoughts and knowledge is credible.
    We are planning on moving back to the third generation farm in the south west of WA very soon, many interesting thoughts came to mind when you touched on food and the future. My father from a young age cleared the land and toiled it hard to grow profitable crops, yield good wool and provide for his family. Now in his 60′s this land has many issues with degenerated soils and salinity. It is very interesting to see him now devote vast amount of time and money into rejuvenating the land, probably not to see the full extent of his work.
    I look forward very much to your next book on food. My father has been ” harping on ” about this for years! ” you will need to provide food for yourself in the future ” ” the government does not want small farmers, they are a liability ” and the list goes on. When you mentioned your plan for the Chippendale community it reminded me of what life would have been like in the 30′s or 40′s, before we relied on transport, snap freezing and the likes.
    We plan on building a modern house, as sustainable as possible, something I am having troubles getting a grip on. I look at the cost and indirect impacts ( byproducts of construction ect ) of some of the more eco materials and systems and find it hard to weigh up. We have yet to read your book but will do so and am sure to find some answers in there.
    Thanks again and look forward to your next book and some of the thoughts it brings.

    Graeme and Astrid.

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  • Michael Mobbs

    Michael is a former Environmental Lawyer who is uniquely placed to consult in four main areas:

    • Sustainability Coach and Speaker,
    • Sustainable Urban Farm Design greening, watering and cooling the cityscape, roads, parks, suburbs,
    • Major Projects Consultant Commercial and Industrial,
    • Residential Sustainability Consultant.
    For permission to re-print any articles or to book Michael for a speaking engagement go to Contacts. Please ensure all quotes from Michael's blog include a reference to