I used to like this little town. Once I possibly even loved it but that’s years ago and I now find it hard to recall just what it was that attracted me to this place. I’m leaving in 3 weeks. I did have plans to move some distance away but things changed and I’m now only moving 30k. Not far at all. Close enough to visit but somehow I think my visits will be few and far between.
Lately the vacant block next door has become a building site as the local hospital is building a huge new ward. Diggers and rock crushers start up at 7 every week day and go till 4. This town only has a population of 3,000 people. I’m not sure just why the hospital feels the need to build a huge two storey Urgent Care Ward. And that’s just the beginning. This house I’ve been renting is listed for demolition and the site will become part of a new 10 storey at some time in the not so distant future. The medicos must be expecting the entire town to become incredibly ill. I’m getting out before I catch something fatal.
Meanwhile I have 3 more weeks of noise to endure. Today I drove down to a little scrap of remnant bush on the Point hoping for some quiet. The dredge working on the river made sure that wasn’t to be but what was even more unsettling was the devastation some maniac had wrought on the foreshore scrub in the name of progress.
Here’s some photos I’ve taken of the area over the past couple of years –
Now it has been transformed into a wasteland. Here’s some photos I took today –
I once met the man responsible for this. It was a couple of years back when I worked at the tourist information centre. A little old man came bustling in one day to tell the boss his application for funding to restore the old Battery Station at the Point had been accepted. He seemed quite benign, a little eccentric but harmless. How deceptive appearances can be.
The Battery Station dates from the late 1800s. It’s a particularly weird place. Several old cannons are placed on top of a hill and point out the sea. Others line the river bank. Apparently they were placed there when the State of Victoria, Australia feared Russian invasion in the 1860s. Just why I’ve never been quite sure. Off in the scrub beyond the cannons there is an old bluestone hut that was the munitions store. The scrub between the cannons and the hut has now been cleared. Perhaps the remaining bush is also scheduled for clearance so that a four lane highway can be built to provide easy access.
The cannons facing the river have stood out in the weather for over 100 years. Now they have a specially designed shelter protecting them the elements. This is sure to come in handy if it’s raining when those pesky Russians arrive in their 19th century warships.
Some cleared areas have already been replanted with regimented rows of grasses that are not indigenous to the area. No doubt the old man and his cronies think they are doing a brilliant job transforming an untidy area of native scrub into a neat park where the international tourists can wander along concrete paths as they marvel at Australia’s readiness for armed combat – 19th century style. Too bad if they are Russian.
Local people have been commenting on the bizarre shelters and the destruction of the bushland on the community Facebook page but it seems no one really knew what this seemingly inoffensive old man had in mind before it was too late. Surely the Government body that provided the funding must have been aware of his intentions but why the proposed clearing wasn’t publicized so that environmental groups and concerned residents could have some input before the damage was done is disturbing.
The hospital expansion and the foreshore clearing are just two examples of the transformation this little town is currently undergoing. Right along the river massive new buildings are being erected on the flood plain. More are occurring along the coast despite dire predictions that the area will be inundated sometime in the next 50 years due to rising sea levels.
It’s all very odd. This kind of coastal development is happening across the developed world. Sometimes I think many, many people on the planet now have a death wish. Fredrick Jameson, the Marxist theorist, is reputed to have said that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of capitalism. The behaviour of the masses would support his view. A fundamental transformation of consciousness is what’s required right now, not more needless development and mindless destruction of the natural environment. It might be hard to imagine a society that operates in a different way to the one we currently live in but it’s time we all seriously began envisioning such a world.