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Tag Archives: farming

Before they’re gone forever

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1. The town cobbler

This very special little shop is a cultural jewel located in a precinct dominated by greasy spoons and purveyors of cheap imported junk.

Owned and operated by a skilled artisan it has miraculously survived the commercial cannibalism of corporate-owned shopping malls and the proliferation of pretend-cobbler kiosks within them.

Theo’s Shoe Hospital is crammed full of all sorts of interesting leatherworking paraphernalia such as glues, brushes and polishes as well as handbags, watchbands, gun and secateur pouches, dancing and orthopaedic shoes.

In this country which is riding high on the wave of throwaway consumerism, my town, at least for the time being, remains enriched by the daily sounds of a genuine working cobbler and the evocative aromas of his trade.

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2. The Cairns bulk sugar terminal

Opened in 1964 on the banks of Trinity Inlet these enormous sheds have a capacity of 234,000 tonnes of raw sugar.
The facility enabled 30,000 tonne cargo ships to be loaded within 24 hours when previously it took gangs of men weeks to load the same amount of cane sugar packed in jute bags.

It’s future is uncertain.

Several supplying sugar mills have closed down either because of urban sprawl consuming cane-growing land, or mill owners engaging in what they term “corporate and management restructuring”…….a commercially more acceptable way of saying “screw the cane growers, we can make bigger profits elsewhere”.

The Australian Government can also share some of the blame because of it’s appalling indifference to the fate of farmers and the future food security of our nation.
( Ref;   Australia;  The primary industry trollop.)

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3.  The small town motor garage.

A single picture can bring back a rush of memories.

For this kid who grew up in the 1950’s they include hand-pumping petrol into the glass measuring chamber on top of the bowser before opening the tap to gravity-feed it into the fuel tank of my parent’s Humber Hawk car.

The mechanic/owner, always dressed in grease-smudged green overalls, refueled every car, checked fluid levels and tyre pressures and cleaned the windscreen whilst dispensing all we needed to know about town gossip, road conditions, weather forecasts and football scores.


Just occasionally I begin to feel a little bit nostalgic.

Australia; The primary industry trollop

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Australia used to have some dignity and class.

Today however it seems to have departed from past standards of excellence and lost any vision it might have had for the long term future.

When it comes to management and export of primary products
it now behaves like a cheap hooker standing on a dimly-lit world corner eagerly waiting to service every needy overseas kerb-crawler with immediate bargain-basement satisfaction.

Coal and minerals are being dug up and exported at an unprecedented rate with total disregard to the effect this will have on the environment and the future food supply of this country.

Farming is now apparently regarded as an optional occupation in this nation.

The average age of Australia’s farmers is 55.

Agricultural research and education facilities have progressively been closed down during the last two decades.

The two dominant supermarket chains have been allowed to screw smallholder farmers into unprofitablilty by manipulating wholesale markets and importing cheaper overseas food products of dubious quality and uncertain pesticide-residue status.

Government disinterest and the failure of our leaders to look beyond the next election could well ensure that Australian farmers will become totally extinct during this century. We have embarked upon the potentially disastrous road of relying upon imported food paid for by the contents of all the holes that mining companies are digging in the ground all over this continent.

Eighty-three percent of mining companies operating in Australia today are foreign owned.

They are digging up our heritage and agricultural land as fast as their giant machinery will allow, with scant regard for the long-term consequences.
A Chinese mining company has bought up 43 farms in New South Wales.  What sort of Government stupidity allowed this to happen.
Hands up anyone who thinks they are going to start growing rhubarb and cabbages on this land for Australia’s future health and prosperity.  They are going to dig it up and mine coal for export.
How utterly foolish can one country become?

There was a time in recent history when Australia thrived and “rode on the sheep’s back”.  This happened because we were smart and industrious and the woolen mills dotted all over southern Australia added value to wool and exported the finest quality garments to the world. We will never, nor should we attempt to, return to those days, but we are capable of making smarter decisions than we are presently making.

The factories are now long gone. We chose to take the easy road and send our cheap raw materials overseas so the industrious (albeit poorly paid) folk there could do all the value-adding, before reselling finished product back to us.

Similarly, we can’t even be bothered slaughtering all of our own sheep and cattle any more, instead opting for the easy and cheap solution of exporting live animals to places like Indonesia where, as we now know, they are butchered with atrociously inhumane
un-stunned blunt-knife-throat-slitting barbarism.

One yardstick by which civilised and evolved society might be judged is the way it treats every other living thing with which it shares the planet.
Another one is it’s ability to provide every one of it’s citizens with an affordable and secure food supply.

It is imperative that Australian agriculture be rejuvenated and encouraged to look towards the longer term opportunity to supply value-added food products for the increasingly protein-hungry Asian nations to our north.

Instead we are irreversibly destroying productive farmland by permitting open cut mining, and allowing 40,000 coal seam gas wells to be bored into it, the pollutants from which will probably destroy forever our inland lifeline…..underground water in the Great Artesian Basin.

The sacrifices made by our ancestors demand that we should behave more intelligently, exhibit greater dignity, and have more respect for this land. We should learn from the care bestowed upon “country” by it’s aboriginal caretakers.  Before it is too late.

By failing to do something NOW we are ensuring that future generations will inherit a barren, desolate, pock-marked continent that is incapable of providing sufficient food to feed it’s own population.

May God help Australia, because we are surely failing to do so ourselves.

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Ahhh…good.    Better out than in.     I feel better now.