Saturday 1 December 2007

Turn back time

Long-time local Alan Hudson has just released his memoir, Growing up with Cairns.

I felt for him, and the town that hardly exists as I read Denise Carter's review in the Post's Weekender.

Things have changed. This town has changed. The most high-density development in 150 years has all occurred under the watch of the current Mayor.

I don't know Alan but I suspect the Cairns he loved is all but gone. Almost every building he describes has vanished from our local landscape. We have, like no other town on the continent, removed or demolished most of our colonial architecture in a way like there's no tomorrow.

Along with that, the land is being cleared at a rate that would make our native frogs, wallaby or coastal tiapan seek it's own extinction. There's now over 250 kangas and Wallaby's squashed into the scrap of land adjoining the Trinity Beach Bowling club alongside the not-very-animal-friendly Captain Cook Highway. However, in respect to Captain Cook, when he arrived, he kicked off a long period of destruction, so it's only fitting that the main road through our region stands up to his legacy.

If you've read anything about the Queensland Government's FNQ 2025, it's all about population growth, and the numbers will scare the shit out of your land-loving tree-hugging mind. This is a monumentally important document and within a few weeks, it will be all but put to bed.
Consultation meetings are being held around the region presently, but are sparsely attended, and amidst the aftermath of a Federal election (did you hear that Labor won?) and the onslaught of the festive season with holidays on the mind of most, FNQ 2025 is being almost ignored. The draft plan will be released at about time as the Council election in March.
And why is this so important? Well it's all about managing urban growth in our region over the next 20 years and integrating State and local government planning. Now I have your attention.
There's also some touchy-feely bits thrown in for good measure like 'protecting unique regional features', which largely get ignored when Council vote on a hillslope house that has a view of the Reef or a complex that wipes out a camping ground for 340 apartments on the same allotment.
However, the biggie in the 2025 plan is all about the catchy new phrase: the 'Urban Footprint'. get used to this one because you'll hear a lot more of this. This identifies areas suitable for urban development and controls inappropriate development outside these identified urban areas. When the plan is released in March, you need to have you say, that's if you think of this place as your home.

On the Barron flood delta that covers 20 square kilometers north of the Barron River, most of which is arable sugar cane farms, 25,000 people are planned to be accommodated. What will happen when Mother Nature (I think she might be a girl) will have it's way again, like it it did in 1999 with the devastation of coastal flooding across the Barron River delta.

This incredible photograph now adorns the Yorkeys Knob Service Station that was engulfed by Cyclone Rona, and now pays homage to the delta that showed us who's boss almost 9 years ago.
The annual cycle of monsoonal troughs is now bringing increased cyclonic activity. In early-February 1999, a tropical low developed off the Cape York coast, and on the 10th February, it officially became Tropical Cyclone Rona.

Rona moved southward at a rapid pace of 10 knots and the eye made landfall just north of the Port Douglas at midnight on 11th February.

The stunning Yorkeys photograph shows the amount of water that broke the Barron banks to a substantial height on the Northern Beaches. The access road can only be identified by the power lines to the left, as the flood water laps the forecourt, meters above the road. Any Yorkeys resident today who didn't experience Rona, and I arrived here a year later, will know this would have been a dramatic flood.
Yet local authorities are hell-bent on filling up our natural water pressure system with more population and more bloody houses and apartments.
Professor John Nott's been saying for years that this coastal develeopment is a made-made disaster. I've scribed about him previously, and he's no mate of Mayor Byrne's. And visa-versa. You see, they simply don't get along. I guess when you'd an educated man about the land and the environment and someone calls you a neanderthal and says we've never ever had a natural disaster ever hit in the history Cairns, you would drop them off your Christmas Card list too.
Mind you, a few months ago I said thanks to Kevin for drawing so much attention to our efforts in exposing his politics of exclusion, therefore I can easily subscribe to Oscar Wilde's mantra that you should always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.
Meanwhile, local author Alan Hudson says it's a tragedy that people don't know our history. He would like to see historic plaques adorning the remaining old buildings around town, like they do in Melbourne and London. You know "Tom Pyne Lived Here in 1868, In An Era We Respected Our Land."
I long for a time when all citizens in Cairns and our neighbouring communities, have a genuine input into where we want to go and grow. I long for a time when there's mutual respect between local government and the people that elect our officials. I long for a time when we understand what nature can and will do again. I long for a time when the pot of money isn't the item at the top of the ledger of growth.
Long may that time come early in 2008.


Anonymous said...

It is so good people like Alan Hudson's are taking the time to record our local history. I will be getting a few copies of his book. Last year I bought John C Hay's Images of Wolfram Camp from the Mareeba Historical Society. I love the true stories and photos of this region as it developed, the daily lives , hardships and fun too, that our pioneers had to deal with is amazing and worth recording for the future generations. So much more interesting than reality TV!
The fashion and clothing is always intriguing to me. How did they cope wearing all that in the tropics in summer? (could this be more evidence of global warming?)
Like Mr Hudson,I also miss some things about the old Cairns.(I'm talking 1970-80 here) the WaterWorks, Space Skate, the Drive-in, The House on the Hill and the Big Apple (sigh).Can anyone else remember any of these places?

Every now and then as I drive past somewhere I tell my kids what was once there when I was a kid (or maybe I say it just to remind myself). Wish I would have taken more photos because the Cairns of my childhood exists only in my memory now.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I’m awaiting Dr Tim Bottoms book "A History of Cairns" that this effin Council reneged on the plan to bankroll the initial printing over 5 years ago. I recall Byrne's foot soldier, Schofield was the one that road-blocked the whole project from Council support.
Interestingly, Hudson, a former Cairns Post editor, tendered for the initial commissioning support and missed out. He's always been bitter about this in local literary circles.
Bottoms' work makes Hudson's look like a Woman's Weekly read.
This is yet another reason why this Council has disenfranchised itself from the community and assisting in supporting an important local reference, that we have never had.
However, when it's published, the proof will be in the bottom of the pudding!

Anonymous said...

Aah... Caesar's Palace with the mirrors and Cairn's first perspex dance floor with disco lighting, Nighthawks, Early Johno's on Sheridan St, Cabaret Dances at the Yacht Club and the Balaclava Hotel. The Barbary Coast Pubs and the brilliant live music in the beer garden of the Oceanic Hotel overlooked by some of the oldest architecture in Cairns as well as the original Rusty's pub (not to mention the folk Club nights there, - now all gone. All these things before Byrnes (or even Tim Bottoms) even knew where Cairns was!
Oh and also the Tudor room with the visiting Zarsoff brothers... now you've got me started!

Anonymous said...

...when Mulgrave Road was a single landed highway threadng its way through canefields and high-set Queenslanders on stumps...when the fumes from Queerah Meatworks would have everyone holding their noses...when dancing meant going to the old Pacific Hotel or the Yacht Club, or for teenagers, Father Lizzio's Catholic Youth Movement dances....when takeaway food meant a cooked chicken or chickburger from Colonel Bill Allendorf's Chick Bar....when everyone knew everyone...

all gone.