Some questions for you


Edgeworth median strip that has baffled me for years

I have just had a lovely celebratory lunch at a Newcastle restaurant with a view of Newcastle Beach. The weather put on a gorgeous show with sun, then dark clouds, misty rain, then torrential rain with thunder and lightning. It was stunning. It’s not the day to do  research so I have some questions. 

The first one is – why on earth do Edgeworth people put up with the most awful median strip in the entire world? It has a synthetic green covering that has faded over the years. What I truly don’t understand is how did someone actually come up with this idea, how did they convince others it was a worthwhile project, and why has there not been a general revolt against it? Edgeworth people deserve better. 

I think this Green Stuff has been there for about a decade so you can’t say it doesn’t last well but wouldn’t concrete have been less offensive? And if They wanted it to look green couldn’t they have planted grass? If they didn’t want to mow it they could have planted something like the Callistemon Little John* that adorns the median strip on the New England Highway on the way to  Maitland (along with New Zealand flax*). It’s hot enough out Edgeworth way as it is without something like this that doesn’t fool anyone into thinking nature is helping them to cope with the concrete jungle. 

Poor vandalised Hunter Street tree

My next question is what motivates vandals? I was looking at the street trees in Hunter Street yesterday and came across this poor thing. Its neighbour was looking lovely. If a tree is on a route between pubs or nightclubs it’s going to be in trouble but you can’t imagine destroying a tree, no matter how much alcohol you’ve had to drink, can you? Hey – I know what we can do for fun – let’s wreck something. 

Trees often have an unconscious effect even on people whose psyches are damaged.  Living in a green suburb reduces road rage and domestic violence. Did you know people in hospital heal faster if they can see green outside their hospital window? And a view of trees lowers blood pressure. What a shame a small tree doesn’t calm a young drunk. 

Sign on gates of Gregson Park

Young, drunk sociopaths aren’t the only people who vandalise trees – there was a story in the Herald yesterday about Dixon Park pines, recently planted, that have been destroyed. It’s not known whether it was wanton damage or whether it was done deliberatley by someone trying to maintain their view corridor (an even less forgivable form of wanton damage). I know where I’m putting my money. 

Palais site

Question number three is what is the point of a heritage register? The ugly photo of this vacant lot is where the Palais used to stand. There’s a great story about this in the online newcastle on hunter with some great pictures. I’m sure the powers that be have covered themselves  perfectly good reasons for allowing this building to be destroyed. Have a look through the Heritage register as it applies to Newcastle. I count 14 items that are listed as demolished; there is a stand of trees that have died that are on there still and the Palais is there in black and white as still standing. I’m glad it hasn’t been updated – perhaps this is a deliberate policy – and that these are there to shame someone – although I suspect there is no shaming bureaucrats who allow things like this to happen or developers who are happy to see any trace of our heritage removed and replace it with yet another block of units that will probably sit empty  a brand spanking new high rise building. 

Harbour entrance from Stockton

 Question number four has nothing to do with trees or the environment. How many vessels do you think  have been shipwrecked in and around Newcastle Harbour? The number**(see bottom of page for answer) surprises most people. When you take a walk along the foreshore on a sunny morning there is no indication either that it’s the biggest coal-exporting port in the world or that it used to be one of the most dangerous of any harbour to enter.
Some of the stories are very sad. There were a couple of stormy fortnights in the mid-19th century where multiple ships were lost. I went to the Maritime Museum and could recommend a visit. The Cawarra was tragic with 63 of the 64 people on board lost, a delay launching the rescue lifeboat and 3000 Newcastle people attending the funeral of the victims.
On the Stockton Breakwater is the Shipwreck Walk where information signs and memorial stones commemorate some of the wrecks and you can still see the remains of the Adolphe.

The Harbour from the foreshore

A reminder from the southern side of the harbour would be fitting as a commemoration  of the ships and people lost and the bravery of their rescuers. 

Question number five is – is there a town in Australia that has more figs per head of population than Newcastle? I don’t know the answer to this but the more you look the more you find. It’s heartening to see young ones planted here and there in public spaces.

Question number six isn’t really a question. A friend was in  a lift in a council building and saw a sign for a farewell for an arborist so someone is either retiring or leaving.  Here’s my question: would an arborist plan to have as his/her legacy the destruction of the Laman Street figs? I hope not.
Question number seven is – Did you know that crepe myrtles are not completely out of fashion? I saw a lovely little square on Hunter Street called Kuwumi Place and some of the trees there are white crepe myrtles. Left to themselves and not hacked at pruned every year they can look beautiful. There were bees all over the flowers, one of which I presume was a native bee because it didn’t look anything I’ve seen before. (How observant am I?) And I have more time for wasps than I used to – did you know (this is sounding a lot like another question) that figs are pollinated by wasps?

 My last question is did you know that Hunter Area Health rent  that huge glass and sandstone thing on Hunter Street built to maintain some kind of health presence in the inner-city once the Royal was sold? I was shocked when I heard that. Paying rent.

* Please correct me if I’ve identified these wrongly.

**Over 200



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One Response to “Some questions for you”

  1. Ali Says:

    Gr8 questions & gr8 observations. Wish I had the answers!
    Q1 Poor Edgeworth, what an ugly & depressing entrance to their community & to the Lake Mac City. I wonder if this could be bought to LMCC attention, or the supposed blooming landcare business or perhaps Edgie have a Progress Assoc?
    Q2 What motivates vandals? Bit of deep Psycotherapy may reveal the answer to that one! Something about their inability to control their surroundings perhaps! unresolved anger issues! the wrong drugs?
    Q3 Heritage register? that deserves an answer! My only possible conclusion regarding the Palais still being listed is that apparently Aboriginal artefacts ( some say bones) were found on the site after the grand old lady was demolished.This could be part of the answer?
    Q4 Sorry dont know the answer to how many vessels, but guessing its in double figures. Personally Im very surprised that in recent years more dirty coal ships ( ships of shame) arent wrecked on our shores. It is my understanding that the condition of these vessels leave much to be desired!
    Q5 FIGS? Dont know again, but im thinking of planting one!
    Q6 I love crepe myrtles.. i grew up with one in my front yard ( a magnificent pink) My dad would cut it back each year, i would be mortified, but to his credit it would bloom magnificently still it just looked horrible for part of the year!
    Q7 NO I DID NOT KNOW ABOUT OUR AREA HEALTH SERVICE RENTING SPACE. so just what did the local community get for the sale of one of our most prestigious health sites. THE ROYAL. That really peeves me to no end to learn that!
    Thank you for your observations and questions, very thought provoking~

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