Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006 - The Year Ends in New England, Australia

As we come to year's end, I looked back over the 95 posts made since I started this blog back in April.

Photo: Gordon Smith, New England Ranges.

Initial posts over April, May, June and July focused on New England's geography and history, including the meaning of "New England" and the impact of geography on human settlement. You can get a feel from Gordon's photo as to the difficulties that the rugged ranges and especially the eastern escarpment created for transport and communications. I was very much feeling my way.

Photo: Hunter Valley Vineyards.

In August I opened a new front with an initial set of stories on the history of New England's wine regions starting with the Hunter Valley, Australia's oldest major wine region. Reading Patrice's Newell's book, The River, followed by Alex Buzo's death started me thinking and writing about some of New England's writers.

Photo: Passengers New England Airways, New England's first major airline. Hood Collection.

While the culture and life style theme continued in September, the main historical focus shifted to transport and especially civil aviation (post summary here).I began the story of civil aviation in New England, starting with the formation of Lismore based New England Airways, one of Australia's first major airlines and one that has always fascinated me.

Photo: Inverell Saphire City Festival crowd scene.

In October the life style theme continued with an initial series of post on New England's festivals, one of the on-going features of New England life. Historical posts continued the transport focus, while consolidating some earlier historical material.

Graphic. New England Flag.

In November life style and historical reporting continued, but the blog added a further focus, current political events. The NSW Government released its new ten year plan. I analysed this over a series of posts starting with a review of New England's needs followed by an examination of the plan against those needs. I concluded that the plan did not meet New England's needs.

New England's current aviation woes continued in November when Big Sky Express was forced to suspend services to Gunnedah, Inverell, Taree and Grafton. This followed Sunshine Express's withdrawal from scheduled services in September, leaving some New England centres without Brisbane air connections. Following on from the earlier planning material, this led me to argue that New England needed its own civil aviation policy if we were to have any chance of addressing our civil aviation problems.

Photo: Fire at Night.

In December the bush fires that had burnt from October into December in various parts of New England, burning out more than 200,000 hectares, began to die down, leaving dispute about the causes. Tamworth Council's decision to reject a refugee resettlement centre became a major international news story. I complained about Newcastle as an information back hole, making reporting difficult. In addition to political reporting, life style and historical reporting continued, including the start of a new series on the Macleay Valley.

Photo : Gordon Smith Armidale after the hail.

Just to remind us all of weather extremes, towards the end of December. Armidale was hit by a freak hail storm.

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