International Co-Op Day is on in Freo this Saturday. Come along!

International Housing Cooperative – Co-Op – Day is on this Saturday, and you are cordially invited to join in on the celebrations by visiting one of Freo’s Co-Ops. In this article, Gayle O’Leary tells you all about them.

We are told regularly we have a housing crisis.

With rising housing pressures linked to soaring house prices, which in turn are outpacing wage growth, and then add in shortages of material and labour in the construction industry, it’s not a surprise to find our own WA Cook Labor government resorting to calling upon the private land industry to identify under-utilised government land to help respond to the crisis.

Perhaps Co-Ops can assist in relieving the pressure?

What is a housing cooperative, you ask? Co-operation Housing Australia defines it as:

A housing co-operative is a community of people who voluntarily work together to meet their common need for affordable, sustainable housing.

Members live in separate dwellings but actively participate in the management of the housing co-operative as a whole, and enjoy the many benefits this type of housing offers.

All members usually have equal rights and responsibilities in management of the Co-Op, rather than appointing a council of owners or a strata management model. Under the Co-Op model, rents can be scalable in accordance with residents’ circumstances, as opposed to traditional social housing where eligibility to reside in such housing is strictly limited for low income tenants.

You might recall in my recent Rarely a Dull Moment we mentioned the “Baugruppen” cooperative model originally planned for No.1 Beazley Street, White Gum Valley. In this model, a collective of citizens gets together to design, fund, project manage, and, ultimately, live in the housing project. A strong recipe for an enduring community. This would have complemented the existing coopertative at SHAC, or Sustainable Housing for Artists Collective, within the WGV precinct.

There are many housing cooperatives throughout the world, including right here in Perth. We’re learning impressive lessons from the Netherlands, Sweden, and New Zealand, just to name a few. Last month, I visited a few local Co-Ops and their residents kindly took me around and told me about their experiences.


‘Pinakarri’ is a Nyangamurta term that means “deep listening”. The cooperative was completed in 1999 after eight years of planning by a collective of locals who wanted a better environment to live and raise their children in.

This is the first local example of a collective that has cooperative housing, social housing, and private housing, all within the same site.

Robyn was extremely kind to offer me a tour of Pinakarri, introduce me to a few residents, and show me inside her home in this beautiful leafy setting.

Residents enjoy community dinners together either outside by the firepit or inside the dining hall twice a week. Chores are shared evenly, including cooking, tending to the vegetable garden, and there is a communal laundry.

The 12 dwellings all feature solar passive design. Rainwater and greywater is reused onsite, and cars are parked on the periphery so more of the interior can be dedicated to courtyards and pleasant spaces to socialise and play, such as the guinea pig picnic we stumbled across on the day.

Pinakarri are opening their gates for their 300th community dinner this Friday evening, as well as hosting this year International Housing Cooperative all day on Saturday. Should be a very fun and informative day, RSVPs essential.

You need to reserve your place though for the Saturday visit, and here’s where to do it.


Delivered under the Freo Alternative planning experiment, 5 Montgomery is an example of innovative housing which aims to gently increase housing density in areas that wouldn’t normally allow it, while prioritising tree retention, decreased car dependency, and better builtform outcomes. This model features shared communal amenities, such as this lovely courtyard garden, a community living room, huge rainwater tanks, retained trees, and bicycle parking.

5 Montgomery, however, does operate under a strata title set up, but the residents have plans to turn it into a true-blue Co-Op.

Denise kindly showed me around her home, and we had a very nice chat into the evening.


Neighbours were initially apprehensive about this one being planned decades ago in 1985, now you’d barely know it was there from the street, tucked away behind the trees and vegie gardens.

First Fremantle Housing Cooperative is sited on a former limestone quarry, just down the road from Monument Hill on Swanbourne Street. It is a charming collective of 14 limewash cottages and terraced houses of varying sizes, nestled under an astonishing tree canopy with a community hall, office, and laundry, that feels secretive as you wander through the winding paths or head under the arbours to the neighbouring Virginia Ryan Park.

I attended a housing cooperative catch up here on 11 May 2024, where I got to talk to a few residents of housing cooperatives about their experiences living in Co-Ops and what appealed to them about it.

Many thanks to Heidy for kindly showing me around her home and telling me about life in this beautiful place.

Thanks for reading, folks. Go take a look at Pinakarri this weekend and say hello to some wonderful people!

By Gayle O’Leary. Gayle is our regular Rarely a Dull Moment columnist and a feature writer on Fremantle Shipping News. You’ll find more of her articles right here.


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