Counting On The Hill

Wonderful things happen when you have an artist on your team.

Last Thursday, at Fremantle City Library, the Friends of Cantonment Hill celebrated the launch of a beautiful children’s counting book, Counting On The Hill, written by Josephine Clarke with artwork by Paula Amaral.

The book celebrates the flora, fauna and amazing views to be found and enjoyed on Cantonment Hill.

Friends of Cantonment Hill Jo Clarke and Paula Amaral with Fremantle Ports Neil Stanbury.
Credit Roel Loopers.

Everyone would be familiar with the Signal Station mast on the top of Cantonment Hill as you enter Fremantle across the Old Traffic Bridge, but not everyone knows about the Bush Forever site that surrounds it.

The Friends of Cantonment Hill/Dwerda Weelardinup are a bunch of passionate volunteers who work to maintain that bushland by coordinating plantings, weeding and rubbish clean-ups with other volunteers and school groups.

Many people may have visited and enjoyed Tuckfield oval (across the road from the Containerbow), but few venture up the rough track that leads to a surprising viewing platform and further on to the Signal Station itself.

Beyond that are groves of Rottnest Island tea tree and Rottnest Island pine. Below the Signal Station, the hill drops sharply to Queen Victoria Street, where only the hardiest of our endemic species survive on the steep limestone cliff.

The Friends of Cantonment Hill, Jo Clarke, Lyn Isted, Robyn McMahon, Paula Amaral and Jenny Thomas with Hon. Dr Brad Pettit MLC and Mr Josh Wilson MP, Federal Member for Fremantle. Credit Roel Loopers.

A children’s book seemed like a great way to educate people about this space and to encourage them to help care for it. A Bush Forever site is a natural space which is protected in order to preserve our native flora and fauna. It is the Friends’ hope that the beautiful illustrations will invite people into the bush space and to notice the plants, flowers, birds and animals that they see there.

With funding from a Fremantle Ports Community Grant, the Friends of Cantonment Hill were able to print 1,001 copies of the book to give to each Kindy and Pre-primary student in the City of Fremantle and East Fremantle area.

Ron Gorman delivering the launch speech. Credit Roel Loopers.

Ron Gorman, who launched the book, emphasised its usefulness as a teaching tool and several schools have already visited the hill and learnt some simple ways to care for bushland, for example –
* Staying on the path.
* Not leaving any rubbish.
* Keeping your dog on a lead, and your cat indoors.

With funds from selling tea towels (again with Paula’s artwork) the Friends were able to pay for extra books to be printed and these are now available for purchase online from Vivid Publishing, as a fund-raiser for the group.

The City of Fremantle commissioned a Masterplan for the hill in 2011, and the Tuckfield playground is the result of Phase One of that plan.

It is the Friends’ hope that the remaining Phases will soon be completed (including a safe path up to the Signal Station and an Aboriginal interpretive area which will highlight the area’s rich cultural history).

The timing of the new Swan River Crossings project will certainly offer the city an opportunity to redevelop the area as an entry statement for Fremantle.

* By Josephine Clarke


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