When deciding what events to cover in Gippsland it’s always a bit of a guessing game for me, trying to pick what might be appropriate and could be considered of some historical value and worth writing a story for posterity. But I guess it’s not for me to decide what’s of historical value as, in many cases, not having much in the way of a record for even the most mundane seeming event could be leaving out a piece of history. Who knows that in 100 years, these sorts of events may be of great interest. Even just seeing some of the people about at such events could be of interest to future historians. This blog is predominantly about recording events etc in Gippsland in order to produce some sort of record for the future, so I guess it’s worth considering all and sundry as they come along. But to be honest, events etc that I cover have to also be of some interest to me; a regular crowded market or swap meet isn’t what I would call interesting, unless there was something quite special involved at the same time.
It’s the sixth year now of the Blessing of the Bikes and it’s hard to believe that it’s now closer to its tenth year than its first. How time has flown by and while the theme has stayed the same, the Blessing of the Bikes has certainly changed and become so much bigger, more interesting and far more professionally organised. And all of that has been for the better. When I talk to some locals in Mirboo North there is certainly a lot of regret that the event moved on to San Remo but, as that old saying goes, ‘You don’t know what you have until it’s gone’. This most certainly applies to the Blessing of the Bikes. Our sleepy hollow became just that little bit sleepier when we lost the Blessing of the Bikes. But while we have other events on the calendar, excepting the Italian Festa, the Blessing of the Bikes is the only event that drew crowds from so far and wide.
If there’s one interesting as well as slightly mysterious feature of Mossvale Park, it’s the local crayfish that inhabit at least one part of the park. For many years I wondered what the muddy mounds with a large hole in the middle were, as they resembled something between an anthill and a underground dwelling spider hole. It wasn’t until I came across something similar in our front yard, that the penny dropped and I realised that these were the entrances to the homes of small crustaceans. The crayfish in our yard were very hard to spot as they only came out at night and the slightest vibration would send them quickly back into their holes. I only ever saw two such holes and one night was able to observe what the inhabitants looked like. They were all black, incredibly spiny and quite the small monsters; something that could be easily used as the basis for a creature in a science fiction horror movie.
Towards the end of Aug 2019, we had the pleasure of attending a friend’s birthday in Melbourne and the venue was the Neil Perry’s Rockpool Bar & Grill at Southbank. I’ve never been to the Rockpool, but had heard about it for many years and the word was that it was excellent. So we looked forward to this experience and didn’t mind the long drive from Mirboo North, much more so for the birthday than the venue. Thankfully the drive to Melbourne was surprisingly easy and uneventful, with the ever present roadworks not the problem that we’d dreaded, so we arrived in good time at Southbank. Trying to remember where to go once we exited the Burnley Tunnel was more of an issue. I’m certain that in past years the Crown Complex was well signposted so that those not familiar with Melbourne could find their way, but this time we saw nary a sign. That said, we managed to get to the right place without drama.
Mossvale Park this Winter hasn’t been quite as interesting as in previous years, or else I’m just becoming used to the way it changes year in and year out. While it’s said that familiarity breeds contempt, I certainly have no contempt for Mossvale Park as it’s one of those rare places that isn’t a regular park, nor is it a botanical garden despite all of its historic trees. It’s a nice mix of perhaps both, especially as you can enjoy it year in and year out without the restrictions and regulations that normally accompany anything closer to Melbourne. I guess given the location of Mossvale Park, trying to regulate it in the way many other parks are regulated would be kind of a lost cause because of the way nature treats it at least once every year. With the Tarwin River West Branch circling the park, I’m not sure that there exists any other park in Victoria that gets such a thorough wash every year without fail.
In our township, local letters to the media always seem to be claiming the need for more ‘climate change’ action, though I have no idea whether it’s just a very vocal minority making all the noise or an indication of a wider concern. Certainly people I come across on a regular basis don’t exhibit climate change fear and simply consider it a fuss about natural events over which we have absolutely no control. I often suspect that many of the very recent ‘tree changers’ from Melbourne suburbs have increased the number of warming worriers, given that it’s increasingly the metropolitan dwellers that appear to have become infected by the propaganda of fear pushed by the media. When we have a record early snow season, despite warnings that it will never snow again, it’s somewhat difficult to think that the planet is experiencing catastrophic global warming. Nonetheless, there are those who live in daily fear of roasting alive whenever they venture onto the streets and push for all manner of renewable energy so that Australia can turn off the heating switch.
Back in the old days, for those who can remember, the core business of councils was ‘roads maintenance, rubbish removal and basic infrastructure’, everything that supported the wellbeing of ratepayers. Now it seems that all of that has been contracted out and the basic responsibilities of a council towards its residents ostensibly handed to third parties, who have no vested interest in its citizens. Many government entities do this based on the argument that it’s not their ‘core’ business. All that councils (all councils) seem to be interested in are non-essential things such as art, ideology, social justice, politics and furthering councillors’ political ambitions. We moved some years ago from one of the worst rated councils, Wyndham, to one that is now fracturing at the seams as infighting and personal vendettas have forced administrators to take control. “South Gippsland council can ‘reflect on failure’ after suspension. The whole point of councils seems to have evaded our elected members as things fall completely into disrepute.
‘For the Fallen‘ is a poem written by Laurence Binyon. It was first published in The Times in September 1914. The oft quoted “Ode of Remembrance” is an ode taken from that poem.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
I would hope one thing that should be evident by now to anyone that reads my blog is that I’m pretty much a lover of nature and the Australian landscape, especially our forests. The preservation and utilisation of our forests is something that has always been of interest to me though, in saying that, I’ve never been an activist or such in pursuit of unrealistic ideals or ends. And, to be honest, I think it’s the activists that have done far greater damage to our forests than any single group or industry. That activism all too often prevents proper forest management, allowing things such as fuel loads to build to levels that when a forest fire occurs, it becomes something of a monster. It’s something that we’ve experienced a number of times in recent history and which became a serious issue in Mirboo North in 2009. The US is realising that the same activism is the root cause of the devastating California fires and is something that the government is now addressing, but we still have a long way to go.
After what I thought was a fairly mild Summer, with only a few hot spells (20+/-C to 40C and back to 20+/-C in successive days), the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) once again declared it the hottest on record, as they always do. Despite the BOM’s usual prestidigitation, the bushfires only started in Gippsland with a vengeance come Autumn. For many days we lived in the smoke palls from numerous fires burning in our north and east, but fared much better than many who lost their homes in the Bunyip fires that raged north-west of our township. Any thoughts of going camping before the weather started to change were rapidly quashed as more areas to our north and east began to burn and eventually the High Country was ostensibly closed off to all visitors. Even locations in the south at Wilson’s Promontory were evacuated due to fires.