Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Salt and aluminium in Moolap

from w Our part of town is east of the centre of Geelong so Moolap is next to Newcomb with two prominent industrial sites, the salt pans of Cheetham and the Alcoa aluminium plant. Apparently Cheetham is changing - closing - and the land may be used for other purposes though it's very low lying - and currently all divided up into hundreds of salt 'paddocks'. Alcoa may be in trouble with jobs lost, they say - partly because of the government policy on carbon. It's a huge industry so that would really affect families. Yesterday it was dull and cool but we took a drive past the saltpans to the Alcoa area and did some sketching. It's not a pretty beach but Alcoa have tried to tidy it up with stones and fences and grass. Once upon a time, in the very early days of European settlement in Geelong, the boats used to come to Point Henry as the water is very deep, so people who landed must have just wondered where they were.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A sea change

from w More and more city people from Melbourne want to move to the beach or rural towns. I think Geelong is a great place to live - numerous beaches, the hills and bush not far away, Melbourne only an hour's drive - and good for a day, plenty of facilities, though the city centre is hopeless for parking. Here's a piece from today's Geelong Advertiser about this. Regional appeal continuing to rise Shane Fowles | April 24th, 2012 A GROWING number of Melburnians are considering leaving the city to live in regional Victoria, with the tree change more than attractive than life by the sea.Areas with the most appeal are Ballarat (20 per cent), Greater Bendigo (16 per cent) and Greater Geelong (13 per cent), according to a new study. Up to two million city dwellers would consider a move to the state's regions, with almost a quarter of those weighing up relocating within the next three years. Released ahead of the first Regional Victoria Living Expo this week, the Government-commissioned study by ShopScience polled 2000 people. Regional and Rural Development Minister Peter Ryan said the results showed more Melburnians were considering alternatives to life in the capital. "Eleven per cent of respondents, which represents around 450,000 Melburnians, said they would consider relocating to a regional or rural area within the next three years," he said. "A further 39 per cent, or 1.6 million, said a move is something they would consider one day in the future.
Motivating factors are diverse ... but include things like a desire to raise their family in a less urban environment, having a greater sense of involvement in the community, housing affordability and business and employment opportunities." Of those planning to move in the immediate future, more than half were considering living in regional Victoria and commuting to work in Melbourne. Research suggested that 90 minutes was the maximum time that most people would spend on each leg of a commute, with time and expense key considerations. Almost half (49 per cent) of those surveyed said they were very unlikely to ever leave Melbourne. The least appealing aspects of life in the regions includes perceived issues with public transport and a lack of job prospects. The three-day expo, starting Friday, will bring the regions into central Melbourne to provide further information to people considering leaving the city. All of the state's 48 regional councils will be on hand to offer advice and answer questions. "The expo will include information on everything from careers and education, housing and businesses to sport and lifestyle opportunities and relocation services," Mr Ryan said. A previous study into people who had chosen to relocate to regional Victoria found that core advantages of the move included lifestyle, natural beauty and features, cost of living, safety and cost of housing. Geelong, Queenscliff and the Surf Coast have formed a regional presence for the event being featured as Geelong and Surrounds. Staff will answer questions about local education, housing, employment and lifestyle options, and extol the advantages of our area.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Working on old sketches

from w
Many of my sketches are just that - very quick and in need of a bit of help and care. So I did a bit more work on some of them - mushrooms, shells, aloe vera. Today is a clean-up day with a planned trip to the tip. Meanwhile Peceli has his mind set on getting a new car - a station-waggon, in exchange for his old car with a bit of cash added on. We do need an upgrade, especially when the family living here will soon be ten in number!


Saturday, April 14, 2012

A story: Love your Neighbour

from w
After finding a facebook group about a small country town where we used to live, I searched for a story I once wrote about a minister and his neighbour. It's fantasy but actually something like this did happen once upon a time but the characters are somewhat different. The story was accepted for publication then the company went broke so it's never been in print!

Love Your Neighbour

Two men faced one another over a fence. Holding an axe, Eric introduced himself. ‘Me name’s Eric Bodell. I hope you’ll like livin’ here. You’ll find us friendly enough.’

Eric leant forward and shook hands with the slender, dapper man half his age dressed in white pants and shirt and a velvet vest.

‘Dr Wilberforce Smith. Call me Wil.’

Eric responded. ‘I thought ya was a minister, not a doctor!’

Wil said ‘Well, I am that. The doctorate was on the negotiation of post-modern thought on meta-reality.’

‘Blimey!’ Eric did not want to get into that discussion. ‘Your church is down the end of the street isn’t it? I’m a Catholic so you won’t see me there.’

Wil said, ‘There are angels of all sorts everywhere. Like liquorice eh!'

Eric screwed up his eyes, puzzled. ‘Yeah. Well - I hope we’ll be happy neighbours.’

‘Of course. Love your neighbour as yourself, so they say, those mysterious gospel writers.’

Eric had something on his mind that must be said straight away. 'Well, Wil the tall tree on our fence ought to be chopped down. Here – have a lend of me axe.’

'No, no, not now!'

As a parting comment, Eric threw him, ‘ It sheds pods for six months of the year onto me car drive.’

'It’s a delightful tree. I can’t comply. The earth brought forth vegetation and trees bearing fruit and God saw that it was good.’

The two houses were both Californian bungalow but that's where the similarity ended. No 19 had a front garden of cement slabs perfectly clean, two pots of red geraniums trimmed of dead-heads. No. 21 had melaleukas that shed skin that peeled off in layers of pink and white. The back garden included numerous fruit trees and rioting untrimmed shrubs. Wilberforce was in his element. He had joined the Greens on occasion, though never camped on a tree-top.

Over days and weeks the two neighbours turned their backs on one another but memos started appearing in the adjacent letter-boxes.

'I'm still waiting, Rev. I gave that tree to the former tenant of No 21 two years ago as a seedling. Now you chop it down.'

A response was written on mottled green paper and read, 'No. The Lord loves a cheerful giver. In Proverbs I think.'

Eric hastily wrote another letter. 'One other thing that concerns me. It's the visitors you have that tramp up and down the side path. Can't you get them to use your front door instead?'

Wilberforce responded on pink paper with a watermark of lotuses. 'Dear No. 19. Your advice has been heeded. I know your sitting down and your going out and coming in and your raging against me. That's in a psalm.'

It took a week before the next posting. 'Your front doorbell is too loud. Tone it down. Also your Suzie bitch is causing all the neighbours a lot of concern.'

'Dear No 19. The doorbell has to be loud enough for me to hear when I'm in the back garden planting my green peppers and egg-plants - organic of course. Break up your fallow ground and sow not among thorns. Now our dear corgie Suzie is pregnant and I lay the blame squarely on your foxie, Hamlet, so I will give you the runt when Suzie produces her litter.'

'Dear No 21. 'What, no quote? What about Be fruitful and multiply? I know my Bible too Mr Reverend! I do not want the runt. My Hamlet is enough for me and my wife.'

'Dear No 19. Regarding a good wife - She is far more precious than jewels. That's in Proverbs.'

The correspondence stopped when both their wives emptied the letter-boxes as soon as they noticed their partners popping in the letters.

The new man did not last long. Wilberforce returned to Fitzroy where he was given a laid-back job in research into urban gentrification.

Meanwhile the tree shedding pods stood tall and firm and gave shelter to galahs, sparrows, magpies and an owl.

The manse was empty for a few months. Eric almost did the deed…his axe in hand, but decided to bide his time, do it legal, right?

Instead of replacing Wilberforce, the Elders rented out the manse to an itinerant family who hovered between part-time work and the dole. They believed they were playing their part in helping the new poor.

Buddy Muddleton moved in with his tribe of sons and his wife who did the washing in a trough of cold water. The garden had grown thick and wild, trees glowing with vibrancy and fruitfulness.

Eric saw Buddy eyeing the trees, especially the tall one growing so luxuriantly on the fence-line. This was the moment Eric had waited for. He collared Buddy.' Now, about that tree?'

‘I’ll get it down,’ said Buddy enthusiastically. 'I'll clean up the place, set fire to all that grass too.'

He went to work with his chain-saw aided by three lads. They demolished the tree in no time, then the grapefruit, the two apples, the fig, the plum, the grapevines, the melaleukas, the two sugar gums.

Buddy waddled over to the fence. ‘How’s that, mate? Actually I need the space to set up me car repair job. I hope you don't mind a little bit of noise. My son plays in a band so I hope you like Heavy Metal too.'

In Fitzroy, Wilberforce received a bundle of letters in a rubber band. On the back of one letter was scrawled a note. 'Dear Rev. These came to your old address. I'm sorry to tell you that your neighbour Eric is with us no more…'

'Oh dear, I didn't know he was so ill,' Wil murmured to his wife. 'Love, my Bible reading includes something auspicious, from Isaiah…'

'No, Wil. You misunderstand,' she interrupted. 'Read on. He put up his house for sale.'

Wilberforce had the last word as usual. 'I would have said, Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.'

Wil's wife sighed and got on with ironing the white shirts and white pants her clergyman husband liked to wear. She placed the hot iron on the lower backside of his favourite pants and left the room to make a cup of coffee for herself. It took about four minutes.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

An easy lazy day

from w
I really wanted us to go on a picnic to Dog Rock s it is a perfect day - about 25C but Peceli has gardening on his mind so I mustn't stop that inspiration. He hired a rotovater (sp?) yesterday to dig up a patch down in the back yard and has now planted lettuces and I don't know what. Anyway, my other task to gather junk to take to the tip also is on hold, so I've found some old USB sticks to see old pictures I once made, and make new ones by overlapping. Here's some based on a walk through the shopping arcades in Melbourne.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

I'm the king of the castle

from w
It is time-consuming looking after small rodents so it will be excellent when the 'owner' - my grand-daughter will be around to take on the many tasks. Meanwhile Izzie and Ozzie are being spoilt rotten, the dwarf rabbit lording it all over everyone by sitting, relaxing, even sleeping on the topmost part of the sofa, while Izzie skulks down below under a cupboard or slipping out for a quick grab at pepino leaves or grass. 'I'm the king of the castle and you're the dirty rascal' the rabbit seems to be saying, though these days I reckon those that are on the top of the heap in society are often the 'rascals'! They do get some sunshine too inside a puppy pen out in the back yard but I have to watch the rabbit who is intent on escaping if he can.


Monday, April 09, 2012


from w
What a shame to axe such a good program that's more important than some of the junk that passes for an education these days. Government can spend on silly things, yet not fund the education program at Serendip, a beautiful place for Australian animals and birds.
from today's Addie:
Anger as rug pulled on Serendip ranger
Tom Bennett | April 10th, 2012

LARA residents are up in arms over the axing of the Serendip Sanctuary's education program. Funding for the Education Ranger has been scrapped and with it has gone an environmental study course that catered for about 8000 students a year.

TLC resident's action group spokesman Michael Helman described it as a "bloody tragedy".

"For more than 20 years the Parks Victoria-operated sanctuary ran a schools' program geared to primary and secondary students in the region," Mr Helman, a former Serendip general manager, said. "These people are our top scientists of tomorrow and the course delivered important environmental information."

The program, which began in 1990, failed to resume when the new school term started this year. TLC has been told by Parks Victoria it can no longer afford the $50,000 needed to fund the Education Ranger and that a long-standing grant from the Education Department had been rescinded.

"For the want of a single salary we lose this curriculum standard program," Mr Helman said.

The sanctuary and its associated educational arm had become an integral part of the Lara school community. The three local primary schools would hold regular classes at the wetlands site. Lara Primary had a classroom built at Serendip for its use and that of visiting schools that came from throughout the Geelong region and Melbourne.

Mr Helman said he had written to the head of Parks Victoria expressing his concerns but had little response. "I was Serendip's general manager for two decades, I wrote a long submission and received only a four sentence reply," he said. "After all my service I was treated dismissively."

Mr Helman said the TLC group would petition the Education Minister Martin Dixon directly in the hope he would restore funding. Lara MP Lara John Eren called on Mr Dixon to resume funding immediately.

"It shows yet again the Government has no understanding of the needs of Lara or the surrounding area," he said. "It has failed to grasp the importance of this magnificent asset and the thousands of students that learn from it.

"Serendip is not only an important facility from an educational point of view but also for the tourists it attracts into the local township."


Sunday, April 08, 2012

Near Winchelsea Bridges

from w
When we drive to Colac and back we usually have a break halfway in the park near the two bridges at Winchelsea. I take a few photos such as these. Australian trees are often ragged looking, scribbly and disorderly.

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Friday, April 06, 2012

In Colac again

from w
First two photos are from the earlier weekend in Colac - taken in the garden of a new friend, Ruth. We drove to Colac yesterday afternoon and gave a talk/music about Fiji to about thirty-five older people at one of the retirement villages there. Lovely older people to talk with. We stayed in the Lake Colac Caravan Park overlooking the lake and it was very comfortable. This morning Peceli led the Good Friday service at St Andrews then we walked with several hundred people on the Stations of the Cross, an ecumenical walk through the Botanical Gardens. Once surprise at the caravan park, when I was saying, it's good not to have to worry about looking after the rabbit and guinea pig, then I looked out of the window of our cabin, and lo and behold, there were three rabbits and a guinea pig belonging to a man in the neighbouring caravan! We had meals with some of the parish women which was very kind of them. We were back in Geelong by 4 p.m. when there was a huge torrential rainstorm, tropical, and I just got in my daughter-in-law's washing just in time!


Monday, April 02, 2012

Weekend in Colac

from w
Friday afternoon we drove to Colac for two and a half days of pastoral visiting and church with the Uniting Church there. The hospitality was marvellous and we stayed with a gorgeous woman, Ruth, on a hilltop house overlooking the countryside with lakes in the distance. We visited a neighbour, Flo, who has a collection of....8000 dolls. Amazing! On Saturday we visited several elderly women in their homes who had great stories to tell, sometimes sad, often funny, but full of wisdom. Their homes and gardens are so tidy and full of interesting mementos, sculptures, photos, artwork.

Sunday was church at 10 - Palm Sunday with a good roll-up. Afterwards about 15 of us went to Victor's Chinese restaurant for a banquet lunch. The old Post Office is heritage listed so Victor isn't allowed to put a sign for his restaurant outside! Yet tourists to Colac ought to know how nice it is inside and the food is splendid. Altogether it was a super weekend and we came back to Geelong Sunday afternoon. The pet rabbit was looking forward to some celery and carrots though I'm sure the family kept Izzie and Ozzie well looked after. We go back to Colac on Thursday afternoon for the Good Friday service.