The More Things Change 7.12.2010


I’ve been reading about CBDs that need revitalising.

These are, of course, found in cities and towns the world over. In Newcastle I had thought that the earthquake of 1989 was a big contributor to the movement of retail outlets away from the traditional CBD, but I found an article [City’s Heart Looks to Life After the Quake’] that quoted talks about the need for revitalisation that predated the disaster: ‘Only six days before the earthquake, the Newcastle City Centre set up by Newcastle  City Council, announced the opening of an office, as a base for the revitalisation of Newcastle’s ailing business and retail heart.’

Margaret Henry, a councillor at the time, was quoted as saying, ‘Before the earthquake, we already had problems with people leaving the CBD, both business people and customers,’ she said.  ‘We had managed to preserve the historic fabric of the CBD, but we needed to recycle the buildings.’

When googling ‘dying CBD’ I found an article from the Sydney Morning Herald by Miranda Devine that referred to Sydney in similar terms:

‘One thing on which Sydneysiders can agree is that the increasingly squalid bits of our city are signs of urban blight that is spreading before our eyes.

‘Some blame Lord Mayor Clover Moore who has presided over much deterioration in her six years in office, and a dysfunctional State Government that has bled developers dry while putting up the ”closed for business” sign to hobble economic growth.

‘Others blame Westfield boss Frank Lowy for building vast shopping complexes that destroy the vibrant high street businesses that give a community its mojo. Still others decry our alcohol culture and licensing laws that allow all-night venues and encourage public drunkenness.’

Sounds like home. Gives one hope to know we’re in such great company. Some little things I found:

An article called ‘How to defuse the population bomb’ in The Australian by Michael Stutchbury talked about the merits of decentralising government in NSW and a reader commented that ‘the Hunter region (both lower & upper, Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens & Maitland) has 10% of the NSW population, provides 22% of the GDP, 30% of the exports & $600M in mineral royalties. When it comes to services such as policing, health, education, art, roads & courts our return is on these metrics a pathetic 2-5%.

Pathetic, indeed.

Another figure I didn’t know:   51.9% of the Newcastle population lives within 4km of the coast or the Hunter River. No wonder it’s a nice place to live for many of us.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics says Newcastle’s population growth was 3.2% (4,445 persons) from 2001 – 2006 and that this area had the second highest growth outside Sydney, following the Tweed on the North Coast.

Two nice reads were John Birmingham’s response to the Lonely Planet rating of Newcastle as one of the best ten cities in the world and a blog I found called  Let’s Like which has some Q&A’s from Newcastle people about what they like about the place. Stunning photos and a lovely positive feel. Nice to know not everyone has my bitter-and-twistedness.

 And while we’re waiting for the Laman Street figs to come back to council, some tree thoughts: the first photo is of a Chinese tallowood. These trees are lovely, but they’re listed as a noxious a weed in parts of NSW. They’re a  problem on the north coast and in the southern states of the US; they produce 100 000 seeds a season. I noticed at the park in Warabrook a couple of weekends ago there are some self-seeded ones next to the first pond. A worry.

The tree with yellow flowers is a water gum. There are nice things about water gums, I suppose, and they’re allegedly bird-attracting, but I think we have enough now. Councils love their size. I suppose at least it’s not an ornamental pear…

It was nice to read through the week that when a group of people protested against a proposed mosque in a Newcastle suburb, anti-racism demonstrators outnumbered them by at least 3 to 1.

And lastly, have you ever noticed that the common koel doesn’t seem to sleep? What on earth possesses this bird to call out in the dead of night is beyond me. It’s lovely, though. You can hear its call at this website. Cheers. Home


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One Response to “The More Things Change 7.12.2010”

  1. Poppy Says:

    I hate Ornamental Pear trees and Prunus trees. They are such an unimaginative choice for a street tree. Even the birds avoid them.

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