Ol’ Blind Joe
A deeply rooted community
I TURNED my mind’s blind eyes towards Toodyay and espied a graceful little village nestled in the embracing arms of an enchanting river.
I’m pleased as punch that I’ve had the opportunity to live in Toodyay and meet so many lovely people.Read more
A place where each weekend folks get to witness the spectacle of fine motorcycles and classic vintage vehicles visiting their hometown, sending cash registers spinning.
Go to Northam on a Sunday and you could fire a shotgun down the main street and not hit a soul.
Alas, with every blessing comes a curse, such as locals trying to find a parking spot in their township on busy weekends.
But there is something in the atmosphere here – it’s charming and beguiling, the flatlanders love it and they keep coming back for more.
Our future does seem to lie essentially in tourism because pastoral and agricultural pursuits ain’t getting any bigger, although they remain the backbone of our prosperity.
Also, both Northam and ourselves will need to accommodate an increasing number of retirees in the coming years.
State planners have decided to allow the building of granny flats, and that they could be rented to whomever.
Unfortunately, our local shire council has accumulated so many rules and regulations that you can’t find a spot to have a piss, let alone build something.
Men fight for freedom, and then they begin to accumulate laws to take it away from themselves.
I have spent thousands of hours reading council agendas and minutes, attending meetings and going through the minutiae of Toodyay’s local laws.
‘Truth shall make you mad’
I’VE ALWAYS loved English novelist and philosopher Aldous Huxley’s sentiment when he declared “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad”.
I was so glad when the Herald’s Bat in the Belfry lobbed and I no longer had to report on council affairs.
It was quite possibly the most boring period of my life but in the depths of arcane administration documents I did discover reports how, over the years, various councillors have abrogated their responsibilities and delegated most of their decision-making powers to others.
I’ve watched freshly elected councillors wander bewildered into chambers to start work and find themselves facing a CEO who sits and makes pronouncements from the bench just like when our council chambers were once used as a courtroom.
These people need to remember that they are elected to represent the people’s interests if the need arises.
The CEO is not elected – he is appointed by our elected representatives to administrate stuff.
Ratepayers need to be confident that the result of any performance review conducted by the council will not be simply be a rubber stamped recommendation.
I sadly note that several councillors have thrown in the towel after years of experiencing ongoing problems that seem to continue to beset our council.
Obviously something needs to change.
ON THE bright side of the road, it was a lovely Easter Sunday morning with the trees dancing on the breeze again.
I reckon trees are the original socialists and the reasons and means are underground because capitalism rules above ground which is why there are so few trees left standing.
The key to it is the so-called woodwide web – trees message their distress in electrical signals via their roots and across fungi networks, like our nerve system, to others nearby when they are under attack.
By the same means, they feed stricken trees, nurture saplings and restrict the growth of others to keep their tree community strong.
Then you’ve also got underground capitalists, more precisely, a specific honey fungus measuring 2.4 miles (3.8 km) across in Oregon’s Blue Mountains that is thought to be the largest living organism on Earth and is somewhere between 1900 and 8650 years old.
Several species of fungi belong to the Armillaria genus, popularly known as honey fungus, which colonise and kill a variety of trees and woody plants.
You can’t trust anyone these days with some guests helping you out and others killing you softly with their song.
Many studies attest to the positive effects of our proximity to the birds and the bees and the soaring gum trees.
We’re very fortunate here to have a fair amount of remaining tree life, even if a lot of it is along the roadside lingering as sentinels of that which once was.
I’m blessed to be surrounded by a large number of these life forms, and they offer succour when all else fails me.
When I was living over east on the Gold Coast and a storm was brewing I would head down to the beach and climb up one of the Norfolk pines on the headland to face the elements.
A magnificent tree, it behaves like that reed in the Chinese proverb and bends with the wind.
“It is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth” – Irish playwright and poet Oscar Wilde (1854-1900).