Another Luddite Blunder

HeraldSun.com.au

We love our flaming Utes
Hotted-up fuel-guzzling,
V8 powered cars — invented here —
Anachronisms in a future world.
Where bloody minded humankind burns the globe
Turns out it’s fossil fuel
The ugly transgressor
Whilst manufacturers electrify cars novelle
Operate charge-points — not common fuel servos.
Yet another modern Luddite blunder.

Every country son and daughter lusts for their first two door V8 so as to attend a BNS ball.  A mythical rural scene of bacchanalian debauchery manufactured in the minds of their city cousins.  When the isolated, shy individual in fact arrives,  gaucheness personified alights unless egged on by a peer pressure group.  At least it was until the local motor industry gave in to the economic reality the government would no longer prop-up our lazy car industry. They closed their plants and a V8 utility (ute) vehicle is no longer constructed here. 

The Ute survived in the country because of its usefulness. Once the domain of two main constructors it pootled around the farm in many guises. The first, according to my friend Kevin Norbury (1),  was an invention of a Geelong farmer. He cut his new car in half and had a luggage tray built over the rear wheels so he could carry a sick lamb or a bale of hay when inspecting his stock. 

A new vehicle fills the suburbs. Too big to be a useful farm appliance, it sports four doors and a smaller luggage tray. The SUV is the car of choice of home builders (tradies) and it too is a ute. The car is ubiquitous in suburban shopping centres in parks designed for shopping trollies.

The tarmac becomes so hot in most of these the centre owners have built sun protection.

While business accepts our world has changed, our government has not. Perhaps the reason for this is the fossil fuels industries are major donors to the government. Another reason is the support the government gets from the media. (Media rules were changed some years ago.  Over those years consolidation has taken place, so that in some states there is no longer a choice in the news supplier. To put it more succinctly, if the Murdoch press says,” This is how things are.” There is no alternative view put to most folk to add any balance.)

Artificial global warming has reached a point of danger.  No informed individual wants to test the predictions of climate scientists to discover the scientists were right and they were wrong except governments beholden to fossil fuel purveyors. The first global change to reduce carbon emissions was an agreement in Kyoto to cut them.  Here in Australia we put a levy on carbon and asked producers to improve or pay to produce it. The levy was so successful carbon emissions fell. At least they did for a while until opposition leader Tony Abbott called it a carbon tax. At the next election, he became PM and carbon usage shot up. It continued to do so until 2019, when we had another election.   At that election a new PM, Scott Morrison, demonised the Labor party by claiming, “The Labor Party wants to take away Tradies’ utes.”  They returned him on the promise to do nothing about carbon emissions. Or that was his claim. So the country does nothing. 

However, manufacturers are in a scramble to catch up to China, the largest maker of electric vehicles. Observers are warning if Australia does not change its rules on carbon emissions, they destine us to become the dumping ground for all the world’s most polluting cars. A thirsty internal combustion engine does not make a ute a ute. A car becomes one when it has an external carriage area.

A new industry is not without error and a story yesterday caught my eye, The tale is about the difficulty new adapters had charging their electric car on English motorways. (4) This story suggests there is some working out to do until every car is fitted with a universal power connection.


Continue reading “Another Luddite Blunder”

Sweet Companions

Techexploitists.com

Sweet Companions

Truly active is the bee
on manifold flower visits
in her quest for tea
she carts food a-distance

corbiculae cunningly gorged,
port nectar and pollen home
as energy meals - once forged
In the hive to honeycomb

whatever fertilised bloom
flown to, and walked upon,
is now a floret — we assume —
fruitful from the sly turn on.

Plant, insect, humankind
in symbiotic relationships
enjoy a peace of mind
well saved from apocalypses

Seeing red


Image Author

Red faced, a tanka

the tip of my tongue

paused by lethologica

locked in memory somewhere

struggles for answers

I have it. It starts with “f” or “ph”


This tanka (a Japanese poetry style) was prompted by an article I read on Ness Labs. When I have permission from the author I will link the two.

No gales of laughter

Photo Author

My broad beans are prostrate — lying flat

natured tall — never recumbent mat.

all day cruel winds blew — a wrestling match

blasted them in vegetable patch

be the season’s growth in truth a flop,

knowing atmosphere has tossed our crop.

A countermeasure is close,

supermaket — bill of fare

beans we’ll get from there.


I know some of you readers find it easy to trot out verse. Here is my attempt at an epigram. Is it one?

Forty spots

Entry, page 11/12 Birds of Victoria Gould League

Years ago I found grounded, a dead bird,

Stiff and cold. My damp palm swallowed its whole

Strangeness — mine to learn of a fowl dead.

Exquisite bird, miniature creature,

Said new to me. Unrecognised, Geoffrey

Enunciated, “A spotted pardalote.”

Time ticked slowly. Home – facelift begun.

A midget bird flew in nearby tree tops

Swooped low to the foundations busily

Constructing a home. Weird bird nesting in

The dark earth, unique, beautiful creature.

Absolute unto land, nests low — lives high.

Up in the eucalyptus — eating lerps.

Its forty spots endangered by mankind

Forever. Denuded ecology 

Awful progress a threat to extinction.


Birds of Victoria was a first bird book of Andrew’s in 1974. In 2020 Professor John Woinarski of Charles Darwin University predicts the life of the Spotted Pardalote is endangered.

The gate swung wide.

Photo Author


Deep in the valley misty pastures
thrive on the swirling tide.
A young pioneer labours tough, ranchos.
The new gate swung wide.

Spatially isolate, feeling alone,
ground broken, preoccupied,
cognitive content from distant lands blown.
The new gate swung wide.

To rouse wanted help in came the mate.
Vivid fertility implied.
Pleased, fun was in the other gestate.
The new gate swung wide.

At first harmony. Wheels turned eagerly,
meshed by fortune’s dreams.
A wearisome routine chews bitterly.
The old gate swung wide

Love forsaken. Into the night she strode
broken dreams packed tight.
With nothing but thoughts of the long main road.
The old gate swung wide.

You are welcome to return Mc Calley.
All is forgiven. I confide.
Your life’s awaiting you in the valley
The old gate swung wide.

Name the Shops

Photo – Film Victoria

As Boy Scouts once a year, (perhaps less often), we played “Name the Shops”. It was a game, influenced by Rudyard Kipling’s book “Kim” and known as “Kim’s game”. It was a simple game which required us to name the shops in the local shopping strip of 3260. They ran for perhaps a kilometre down both sides of the Main Street. We had to name them in the order they ran. It was relatively easy because the shop ownership rarely changed and it included big civic buildings like the court, the shire office, the cinema, the post office, the 7 banks, and three car dealerships.

Some we knew as hangouts. They were the milk bars, the bike shop, the fish-n-chips, and the hairdressers. We struggled to remember the solicitor’s offices, the dress shops, the florists, or the beauty saloons. We knew each of the grocery shops, the shoe shops, and the men’s clothing store, and the chemist. The bakers were easy to name. Harder to remember was the chap that ran the photographer’s shop. On the other hand we remembered the two newsagents because they stocked comics. (We didn’t specifically have them at home, I remember reading The Phantom, and one called The Chuckler’s Weekly.)

There were three stock and station agents – farm supplies stores – in town. We also had four hotels for a population of about 2,000 town folk. Going home in the evenings we would stop and peer through the window of the electrical stores (after 1956) at the fuzzy black and white television sets. It was a strange thing to see, because the picture was frequently all white. This was because we lived in an area of poor reception and the antennas were too weak to pick up a clear picture. (In those early days none of my friends had tv so it caused no envy to look.)

In remembering this game I think I could still score pretty well. The fruiterer operated in a side street as did the doctors, the dentist, and the plumber’s supply shop. Some shops like the boot maker and the jewellers I remember easily because the operators were odd. Maybe the smell drifting from the shops helps me remember others. The smell of ink is a constant reminder of the newspaper office. I get a different, but similar, reminder when I pass a pub on foot.

Nothing remained open after five pm except the fish-n-chip shop and the pubs. They closed at six. The chippery remained open until around ten pm. On Saturdays most shops opened from nine until noon. After that the town was locked down until Monday morning. Saturday afternoon was given over to home maintenance or sport. Sundays were the day of rest. Over 9O% of the people went off to one church or the other. (I can count five different denominations) The church goers would dress in their Sunday best clothes. On the way to church they would nod, or wave, to their neighbours heading off in another direction to a different church.

The non church goers attended the Salvation Army Hall, or they went to the Seventh Day Adventist Church on a Saturday. Even the non believers attended one type of church or the other because even in those days of full employment few people jeopardised their job by declaring their lack of faith. Few jobs were advertised because they were usually filled by word of mouth. Some jobs were closed to people of one church but they were open to those of another. (Those days of fundamentalism were pretty dreadful. (It was possibly the stories I heard like this (long ago) that opened my mind to the evils of all segregation. Otherwise I have no personal experience of this type. It is my hope you never have to experience it either.)

[Unlike today, no one sold phones, (no mobiles). If your family wanted a phone it was supplied on loan from the Post Master General (PMG). All personal communications came from the PMG: mail, telegrams, and phone. It might be of some interest to learn telegrams were a sort of paper delivery of every SMS. Except people usually only got a telegram irregularly. The sender paid so much per letter and to reduce costs the sender just told their simple message briefly.

You could call the messages crude. “SAD NEWS DAD DIIED PEACEFULLY FUNERAL TBA “

Or you might have got one like we actually received when Andrew was born. It reads

CONGRATULATIONS WELCOME TO ANDREW LOVE TO ALL THREE BILL RYAN FAMILY

The message is addressed and was delivered to the hospital ward by the Telegram boy (who possibly rode a push bike to the hospital in a post boy’s uniform.]

Our shopping strip was a practical place. It never changed much as it was a place were all commercial activity took place, year in – year out. Today the buildings remain. Many of them have swallowed their neighbour and they have been enlarged. Some are empty yet the streetscape remains. Down the centre of town runs the avenue of Elm trees planted out by school children in 1876. It is a wonderful oasis to rest on a hot day. In the middle of the avenue is the wonderful bequest,the Thomas Manifold clock, built in the style of Westminster’s Big Ben in 1897.

When you visit Camperdown take pride that your great grandfather, Abraham, for a period, maintained and preserved this significant plantation,now recognised as a important heritage area in the State of Victoria

It is unlikely you will ever play “Name the Shops”. In the unlikely event your suburb has a main shopping strip, even if you learn the names of the shops it is unlikely they will all operate as they do today by middle of next month. Such is the speed of modern change.






The Streetscape

Or

Passers By Cannot Name The Shops.

O’er a gross of years

Ulmus procea – Finlay’s Avenue

Has cut east west along

The Manifold corridor

The giant brick red time piece

punctuates the town’s north,

chimes for southern enterprises,

where grey nomads pause for victuals.

Cafes court calorie counters

counting calories they consume;

breakfast, lunch, or snacks,

take a break – before heading south

to clamber down Loch Ard Gorge.

Snap London Bridge. Drive

on – taste the west’s chronicle.

The Great Ocean Road.

Melaleuca lanceolata Common name – Moonah

Photo Author

Anything that is four times older than me, and still standing, is entitled to lean on the ground, instead of standing all the time. A sure sign of resilience is the ability to rest on an elbow and still stand. We see examples of this in this ancient plant, the Moonah. . The prevailing wind will sculpt and prune it so it is taller on one side than the other. When the wind is too strong the bough will resist until it bend to and meets the ground. There it will rest and send forth new growth.


In my home town we have a few remands of ancient scrub that were old trees long before William Buckley lived amongst the Wadawurrung people. (William Buckley was an escaped convict who was rescued and improbably lived with local tribal for 32 years before he resumed his former life and was pardoned.) The tribes people he lived with had great respect for this tree they called it Plenty. It gave plenty back to the tribe in nectar and medicinal properties. Botanists have named it Melaleuca lanceolata. (Lanceolata reads as if it is a “lotta” plant actually the word refers to its lace like leaves). Its long abundant flowering season from October to February is rich in pollen and a food source for bees.

The tree in the photo stands on the Esplanade at the Eastern end of Gilbert St. It should probably be recorded as a tree of significance – however this is unlikely; first as it is one of the last wild trees left on that part of the Bluff, and secondly it would bring attention to it in the summer when the town is overrun with all manner of individuals. Some, likely as not, uninterested in plants. The trees are not endangered, so I suppose that is another reason it stands unnoticed and alone.

The Moonah tree is known throughout the country as a strong plant, well capable of withstanding salty wind and rain. Indeed in many parts of the country it is planted as a tree good at fighting salt degradation – as we observed in many over-farmed mallee sites. It helps to lower the water table and in doing so draws salt deeper into the subsoil.

Of all the wonderful plants I love I have chosen to write about the Moonah because it is not showy. It is not really splendid despite its delicate tiny flowers. After living 300+ years it is often just a stubby black tree with twisted branches, prickly tough leaves, and flowers almost too small to be noticed. Yet this tree is tough. Farmers find its wood makes everlasting fence posts. It makes a wonderful wind break. (Not even the wind will get through it’s tight canopy). As a result it is a popular tree for birds to roost in. Possums love to sleep through the day hidden among the mess of its branches.

Commonly we find it growing in masses of thick undergrowth where it seldom gets much taller than four metres. Along the Anglesea estuary it adds stability to the shallow, poor soil. Under the canopy – at the proper time of year the undergrowth hides the most spectacular native orchids: the Fairy Orchid grows underneath the moonah others grow nearby, the twisted Sun Orchid, the Sharp greenhood , the Wax Lip Orchid.One hundred kilometres away the tree survives in the undergrowth of the Manna Gum – a favourite of the Koala.

Photo Author

In Torquay we are lucky to have at least one streetscape where the trees (photo included) where trees stand 10 metres tall. This stand (also a remnant) is inland, about 100 metres from the surf beach. Here, the tree are protected from the the inshore wind and they reach up to 10 metres into the clear sky. Because they have been protected they are tall and have grown without the handicap of neighbouring plants holding them back.

Like all plants of the Melaleuca family the flowers grow from a filament that when spent remains on the flower stem as a little hard nut like growth. As the plant grows “nuts” from previous flowering’s remain.


Photo https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Gderrin Wikipedia

The Plenty Tree

The twisted Moonah tree
turns is back to the wind
hunkers down low,
resting a heavy limb
on the dusty dune.
Perhaps the Wadawurrung
sheltered beneath this bough
on the day they
caught a possum to skin
and make into a ceremonial cape.
Even so it grows.
Yearly producing millions
of petals to attract bees
to this generous pollen store
the girls convert to honey
as food we
harvest.

Photo Author