Caravan of Courage returns to The Cage 23.3.2011


We had a fortnight or so of an empty corner before a caravan returned to the Cage at the southeastern corner of Civic Park.

A friend had thought that complaining to a councillor may have been the explanation for its removal, so no doubt he’ll be disappointed that good taste only had its way for a short time.

I wrote to all the councillors, some of whom are standing in the state election this weekend and have entirely reasonable excuses for not responding, and used my best whining tone. One of my talents, that – the Little Whine.

Here’s my whinge –

‘A utility caravan was parked opposite one of Newcastle’s showpieces, the Regional Gallery, for over twelve months, until it was removed about a fortnight ago.
‘It sat below the Lone Pine and was the first thing a visitor to Darby Street and the Gallery would see en route to an exhibition or cafe.
‘It was surrounded by rubbish, discarded equipment and long grass as well as ugly cyclone fencing; the corner provided illegal parking for some presumed council employee.  At least the fencing was in harmony with the ridiculous fencing adorning Laman Street – ridiculous because that fencing would not protect anyone from a falling fig tree and should have been removed months ago; and because it is costing ratepayers money they can ill afford for no benefit.
‘I appreciate the decoration of the caravan by the Loft Venue artists but this does not make up for the fact that the caravan and container should be at the council depot in Waratah/Broadmeadow.
‘The Save Our Figs group as well as veterans who revere the Memorial Grove were overjoyed to see that the caravan was removed recently. We were saddened that the ugly brown shipping container and cyclone fencing remained but it seemed to be a start and a small win for good taste.
‘So imagine our disappointment to see that a new caravan (or repainted old one) returned a couple of days ago.
‘What is a modern, forward-thinking council with talents in marketing and tourism doing, allowing this ugly set of containers to stay in this beautiful area for so long?
‘What is council doing when the focus should be on sound economic management? This cannot help patronage of the Regional Gallery or Newcastle’s reputation.
‘Is it because the caravan and container aren’t visible from the administration building, Town Hall or Fred Ash building? Or is it an attempt to decrease residents’ appreciation for the Laman Street precinct?
‘Elected councillors are unfairly accused of ‘doing nothing’ when things like this are actually not their doing at all.
I hope you can look into the disgusting abuse of this corner.’

Here is my one and only reply so far:

‘The caravan is an important facility provided for council work teams, and as you should be aware that particular team has been engaged in reconstruction of footpaths nearby in Darby and King Sts. You must agree the new paths are a great improvement.

‘There are very few suitable places to provide a work compound for construction materials, so this remote corner of Civic Park, though not perfect, is better than being on busy King St or in the middle of the park. The ugly brown shipping container is as ugly as normal containers must be, but my understanding is that it contains barricades and equipment used when high winds are predicted, to close the street and area around the Laman Street trees, given that council officers are still required to act on short notice when known risks exist.

‘I assume the container will no longer be required when the risk goes away. I don’t like the visual aspects of this corner, but I accept that this disgusting abuse is necessary. Perhaps if you had first talked to someone at council and received the above information you may have understood the reason for your disgust.’


Don’t I feel better. I’m glad the street is remote from something. I hope the thousands of restaurant-goers and shoppers and commuters who use it every day think it’s remote enough.

And here’s some Stuff I like: safe bike lanes in New York. The worst driver couldn’t kill these cyclists.

Footpaths: we’re mad keen on putting in beige footpaths lately. Over the last couple of years nearby councils have tried to make residents pay for their own footpaths. (Which to me is a mini version of viewing parks, post offices and jails as businesses rather than services.) It’s apparently standard in the US to have residents pay for what we take for granted.

Well, a Chicago community couldn’t agree on whether they wanted them or wanted to pay for them – so they received half a footpath.

And Europe’s forests have expanded by 30 million hectares in the last 20 years. Good news in the International Year of the Forest – unexpected after months of reading about deforestation, palm oil and nasty little critters devouring millions of trees in North America. Cheers. Home





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One Response to “Caravan of Courage returns to The Cage 23.3.2011”

  1. David H. Says:

    Remote corner ? It depends where you are.

    Everywhere is remote from somewhere, but nowhere is remote from everywhere.


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