What do we want? When do we want it?

Here’s a riveting account by John McGlue on Cool Beans Patrons v Town of East Fremantle. Could be a screenplay!

It’s never too late to become a refusenik. It’s happening, in growing numbers at a beautiful spot by the river, just outside the Fremantle Rowing Club, where locals of a certain age are taking up the fight.

In acts of blatant defiance, they are placing folding chairs on the riverbank, chatting away merrily as if nothing’s wrong, while enjoying takeaway coffee from the nearby Cool Beans coffee shop.

For some, it’s like a sit-in against old growth logging down in the southern forests, plonking themselves down for extended periods, reading a book and glancing up occasionally to watch dolphins perform their synchronised dance.

It’s all very disturbing to the folks at the Town of East Fremantle which has declared said riverbank a health hazard and has taken steps to protect locals from, well, themselves.

So much so it has warned Cool Beans to stop patrons from taking small chairs from outside the shop and walking them 10 metres to the danger zone. Where they may injure themselves and sue the Council.

This has come as quite the surprise to locals who congregate in droves around Cool Beans and the nearby riverbank, and are struggling to see the danger that’s distressing the Council.

Cool Beans’ 24 year old owner Max Baines had the social gathering idea in mind when, just out of his teens four years ago, he convinced the rowing club to rent him a tiny space for a hole-in-the-wall, takeaway coffee shop.

Now, there’s a rare alchemy at work between the stunning location, eternally friendly coffee shop crew and the cheery customers proudly parading their non-designer dogs, creating one of the most community engaged spots in the area.

Affronted by the ‘chairs’ edict, locals have inundated the Council with complaints and, in a gently incendiary way, staged a protest against the perceived injustice by taking their own chairs to the riverbank.

The Council is telling ratepayers there’s a fix in sight, in combination with others such as the Department of Conservation and Land Management. One senses complexity of Orwellian proportions.

Meanwhile, protesters are still on site, sipping their decaf oat milk lattes, luxuriating on the riverbank and thumbing their noses at authority.

No infringement notices have been issued so far, but it’s still early days.

Pass the popcorn.

* By John McGlue


** Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to receive your free copy of The Weekly Edition of the Shipping News each Friday!