Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Paragliding World Championships Manilla 2007

The 2007 FAI Paragliding World Championships will be held in Manilla from February 23 to March 10 2007.

These, the 10th World Championships, are expected to draw 150 pilots from 50 different countries with an anticipated audience of between 3,000 and 5,000.

The Manilla location owes much to Godfrey Wenness. A former Sydney property developer, Wenness bought an old sheep property at Mt Borah just outside Manilla in the mid nineties.

Mt Borah proved to be an ideal place for launching, enabling pilots to take off from any direction in almost any wind condition.

Recognising the value of the site, Wenness first set up the Manilla Sky Sailors Club then the Tamworth (Manilla is 45 km north of Tamworth) Hang Gliding Club. Today Manilla Sky Sailors has around 2,000 visiting members.Manilla has a population of just 2,500. The whole community supported by the local council has gathered together to support the event and to guarantee visitors a superb country reception.

For further information on the Championships visit http://www.manilla2007.com/ or phone Godfrey Wenness on (o2) (international + 61 2) 6785 6545.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Don Dorrigo Show

Photo: Gordon Smith, Pavilion, 2006 Dorrigo Show

Having just updated the rolling list of New England's festivals, shows and events, Gordon's photo of the pavilion at the Dorrigo show caught my eye.

Don Dorrigo, usually shortened to Dorrigo, lies at the edge of the New England escarpment in some of New England's most beautiful country.

When we were children driving from Armidale to stay at Urunga or Sawtell we always stopped at the same cafe in Dorrigo for lunch.

Many years later when I was running for Country Party preselection for Armidale, I spent many days staying near Dorrigo, driving round all the little backroads, going to meetings in little halls, calling in at farms, always being surprised at the visual cameos that appeared around each corner.

Dorrigo remains one of my favourite New England places.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Creation of New England History Blog

Photo: Past days, Manning River

One of my core objectives in establishing the New England, Australia blog was to document and present the history of New England. In doing so, I also wanted to encourage discussion of New England history and historiography.

While I have written a quantity of straight historical material and have tried to build historical background into other posts, I have been finding that the purely historical material is getting lost in the broader sweep of this blog. So with some reluctance I have decided to establish a new blog, New England's History, dedicated just to New England history and historiography. I say with some reluctance because just at present I need another blog like I need a hole in the head!

I will continue to carry historical material on this blog as part of the broad New England story, but the new blog will allow a deeper focus on the purely historical material, thus making that more accessible. With time, I hope to add others to the blog team thus encouraging New England historiography.

I propose to begin by copying some of the historical material from this site to the new blog, allowing me to link things together in new ways in terms of both chronology and themes. Once this is completed I can begin to add new material drawn from this site as well other sources.

The specialist focus of the new blog means that I will not be using it for current commentary, nor will I be posting as frequently. I plan to put up an absolute maximum of three posts per week, allowing more time for people to read, absorb and hopefully participate. I also plan to run more material on historical methodology.

As with all these things, it will take time for the blog to build momentum and also define it full focus.

Friday, November 24, 2006

New England Festivals, Shows & Events

Photo: Bohena Olives, Nosh on the Namoi, 2006

This is an updated list of New England festivals, shows and events. I still have more than thirty to add, but thought it better to get this list of 38 in all up.

When I started this list I was focusing just on Festivals. I have now added in shows and events. In preparing the list, I have tried to focus on things that I think might be of interest to those outside the immediate district.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

In praise of Gordon Smith

Photo: "Better him than me", Gordon Smith, Four Seasons Rodeo, Armidale
I do so love Gordon Smith's photos and have told him so. They bring home back to this often home sick boy. I am so grateful also that he allows me to reproduce them.

His supporting comments are terse, but they tell a story.
When Gordon and Bronwyn went on their trip through outback Australia I followed them every step of the way, checking the links, marvelling at the way that Gordon could bring the texture, the romance, alive.
Seriously, I think that Gordon's photoblog is one of the best in the world. Take the time just to browse. You will become as addicted as me.
I am glad that I am going to be able to continue to use his photos to get some of my own stories across.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Short Pause

Having just extended my analysis on the NSW Government's Ten Year Plan on my personal blog, I am just taking a short pause for a couple of days before I return to my Fossickers way series.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

NSW Ten Year Plan and New England - Conclusions

This is the last of my immediate posts on the implications of the NSW Government's Ten Year Plan for New England.

The two immediate posts took a huge amount of time to prepare. The date on the posts is the date I started writing each one. In fact, between them they took the best part of two full days to complete.

For reasons I will explain in a moment, I have come to a very negative conclusion. I may be wrong here and as much as possible I have tried to make my arguments transparent. I welcome corrections and discussions.

Good planning starts with an understanding of the needs to be met. For that reason, my first post looked at New England's needs. As a single person, even a well informed one, I cannot pretend to understand every need across New England. Still, as best I could, I tried to work out and present at least some of the key needs.

The second post looks at the detail of the Plan against identified needs. The Plan is a long document with considerable detail. I may well have got things wrong. Again, I am happy to be corrected on errors.

As I see it, the gap between the Plan and New England's needs is huge.

For reasons outlined in the first post, New England needs economic development. This is, I think, the weakest area of the Plan in a general sense. There is nothing in the Plan that will help New England meet its development needs.

New England also faces an aging population. Here our problem is much greater than that facing Sydney. While there are activities within the Plan that relate to aging, they are spread across priority areas and are not integrated in any way. In fact, the Plan does not regard aging as a key issue at all.

Perhaps not unexpectedly, the Plan does not address the issue of integration and coordination within New England.

This is important across a range of areas. In technical education, for example, the limited population and economic base in each locality or small sub-regional area limits what can be done. However, this problem can be addressed in part through cooperation and resource sharing.

Beyond these examples, my simple analysis identified a number of other priority areas that are either not addressed or addressed imperfectly in the Plan.

A core problem is that Sydney and New England are in fundamental and uneven economic competition. New England needs to attract people and investment from Sydney or that might otherwise have gone to Sydney.

Take tourism as an example. To really increase visitor traffic and spend, New England has to develop itself as a destination in its own right. This is very hard when the place is treated as a series of disconnected localities and regions.

My ability to influence things through this blog is obviously limited. But what I can do is to continue to try to present the broader New England, to use my analytical skills to look at things in new ways.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Does the NSW Ten Year Plan meet New England's needs?

My previous post on the NSW Government's new ten year plan looked at New England's needs in order to set a benchmark against which the plan could be considered.

Overview of the Plan

The State Plan aims to deliver better results for the NSW community from Government services by setting clear priorities for Government action, "with challenging targets for improvement to guide decision making and resource allocation."

The Plan focuses on five areas of activity of the NSW Government:

  • Rights, Respect and Responsibility - the justice system and services that promote community involvement and citizenship
  • Delivering Better Services - the key areas of service delivery to the whole population (health, education, transport)
  • Fairness and Opportunity - services that promote social justice and reduce disadvantage
  • Growing Prosperity Across NSW - activities that promote productivity and economic growth, including in rural and regional NSW
  • Environment for Living - planning, environmental protection, and arts and recreation.

The Plan attempts to identify specific, measurable priorities for Government action that will help the Government "achieve each of the results over the next 10 years. These 34 priorities will drive the actions and decisions of Government."

Approach to Plan

Each section of the Plan includes analysis relevant to Greater Sydney, this now appears to include Newcastle, and then the rest of NSW.

In analysing the Plan my sole focus is on New England and its longer term needs. To this end, I have ranked some popular political concerns low simply because, while popular in political terms, they do little to address New England's longer term needs.

I have broken the analysis up by the activity areas as defined in the Plan.

Rights, Respects and Responsibilities

This, the first section of the plan, is its law and order section. Its goals are defined as:

  • Keeping people safe through reduced rates of crime, particularly violent crime and reduced re-offending
  • Building harmonious communities through reduced rates of anti-social behaviour and increased participation and integration in community activities.

I have put this entire section of the plan aside as lower priority in terms of New England's longer term needs. Yes, there are law and order issues in parts of New England. However, problems such as criminal activities among young Aboriginals in certain communities flow from economic and social disadvantage and can only be rectified by reducing that disadvantage.

Delivering Better Services

The goals for this part of the plan are defined as:

  • Healthy communities through timely access to quality health care, improved survival rates and quality of life for people with potentially fatal or chronic illness and improved health through reduced obesity, smoking, drug use and risk drinking
  • Students fulfil their potential with increasing levels of attainment for all students and more students completing Year 12 or recognised vocational training
  • An effective transport system with an increasing share of peak hour journeys on a safe and reliable public transport system and with reduced road fatalities relative to size of NSW population
  • Customer friendly services with increased customer satisfaction

Among these goals I have put aside the last, customer friendly service, as a subsidiary objective relative to New England's needs. While important, it is something that should be done anyway.

Delivering Better Services - Health

Specific priorities on the health side are defined as:

  • Priority S1: Improved access to quality health care. Specific target performance benchmarks are set for access to emergency departments and elective surgery. The Plan also points to increasing access to services in rural and remote communities through implementation of the Better Rural Health Plan. These services include cardiology, renal dialysis and cancer treatment. There is also a commitment to develop new models of care to expand access to specialists and their services in rural and remote communities.
  • Priority S2: Improve survival rates and quality of life for people with potentially fatal or chronic illness through improvements in health care . The state wide target is to reduce the number of potentially avoidable deaths for people under 75 to 150 per 100,000 population by 2016. There is a commitment to further develop clinical service networks to improve access to specialist services for rural communities, including expansion of specialist outreach services, transport initiatives, diagnostic and therapeutic video conference support and innovative health programs for indigenous and non-indigenous people.
  • Priority S3: Improved health through reduced obesity, smoking, illicit drug use and risk drinking. Again measurable state wide targets are set.

In broad terms, achievement of the objectives set for health will benefit New England depending on current performance gaps in New England and the final results in New England. The problem with state averages is that an average improvement may be achieved through an improvement in Sydney with no improvement elsewhere.

A further difficulty lies in the fact that the health plan is not really a plan, implementation details are light, but a set of performance objectives.

Delivering Better Services - Education

Specific education priorities are:

  • Priority S4: Increasing levels of attainment for all students. Targets here are defined in these terms:
    1. By 2008, reduce the number of lowest-performing students in literacy and numeracy in Years three, five, seven by 10 per cent in 2008, with further 20 per cent reduction by 2016.
    2. By 2012, increase the number of students in Years three, five, and seven meeting or exceeding national proficiency benchmarks for literacy and numeracy by 10 per cent with a further 5 per cent increase by 2016.
  • Priority S5: More students complete Year 12 or recognised vocational training. The target here is defined as an increase in the proportion of students completing Year 12 or recognised vocational training from 82.7 per cent in 2005 to 90 per cent by 2016.

As with health, the education targets are limited but worthwhile and should have positive impact depending on the exact starting position across New England as compared with final outcomes.

Delivering Better Services - Transport

The first priority area here deals with improved performance on NSW public transport. The discussion and targets (S6) are largely irrelevant to New England although there may be some benefits to Newcastle and the Lower Hunter where public transport is important. I do not have enough specific knowledge here to relate the indicators used to the on-ground position.

The second priority area (S7) focuses on road safety.

Overall, there is little in the transport section that really addresses New England's longer term needs.

Fairness and Opportunity

The Plan states that the Government will overcome cycles of disadvantage through its goals of:

  • Strengthening Aboriginal communities through improved health and educational outcomes for Aboriginal people
  • Opportunity and support for the most vulnerable through increased employment and community participation for people with disabilities and improved outcomes in mental health
  • Early intervention to tackle disadvantage through embedding the principle of prevention and early intervention into Government service delivery in NSW, reduced avoidable hospital admissions, increased proportion of children with skills for life and learning at school entry, and reduced rates of child abuse and neglect.

To improve outcomes for Aboriginal people the Plan (F1) established two key targets:

  • Close the gap between Aboriginal and all students in primary school numeracy and literacy rates by 2016
  • Over five years, reduce by 15 per cent hospital admissions for Aboriginal people who have conditions that can be appropriately treated in the home.

The Government considers that its existing Two Way program will meet these objectives, so no further action is proposed. Given that New England has a significant Aboriginal population, these are important targets. However, it is not clear to me that they can be achieved in the absence of economic growth to address economic disadvantage.

The second priority area (F2) targets increased employment and community participation for people with disabilities. The set objectives are to:

  • close the gap in the unemployment rate between people with a disability and the overall community by 50 per cent by 2016. This is equivalent to around 6,000 jobs
  • Increase the out of home participation rate of people with a severe or profound disability to at least 85 per cent.

Again, achievement of these targets in New England depends upon the the availability of jobs and hence on economic development.

The third priority area (F3) targets improved outcomes in mental health. The set objectives are to:

  • Reduce re-admissions within 28 days to the same facility
  • Increase the percentage of people with a mental illness aged 15-64 who are employed to 34 per cent by 2016
  • Increase the community participation rates of people with a mental illness by 40 per cent by 2016.

The Government states that existing plans will achieve these objectives so no further action is required. I lack the knowledge to relate both targets and existing plans to New England's on-ground needs.

The fourth priority area addresses early Intervention to tackle disadvantage. The stated priority (F4) is to embed the principle of prevention and early intervention into Government service delivery in NSW. On the surface, this appears a worthwhile objective.

The fifth priority (F5) aims to reduce avoidable hospital admissions. The target is to reduce by 15 per cent over five years hospital admissions for people who should not need to come to hospital. This is really a health efficiency objective. However, built into it are actions such as enhanced support for carers that are important for New England given our aging population.

The sixth priority (F6) aims to increased the proportion of children with skills for life and learning at school entry. The Plan states that NSW, through the COAG (Council of Australian Governments) process, is working collaboratively to develop a measure of performance and targets. Measurement should begin in 2008. The Government will then set a target for increasing the mean performance of the child population in NSW by 2016.

This area covers a range of existing policies and programs targeting pre-school children. No judgements can be made at this stage as to any new future activities that might arise.

The seventh priority (F7) is to reduce rates of child abuse and neglect. The goal is to reduce the referred reports rate of child abuse over the course of the Plan. The Plan notes that this will be a significant achievement as there is an expected 10 per cent increase in the rate over the next two years alone based on current reporting trends. It is not clear from the Plan how this is to be achieved.

Growing Prosperity across NSW

This is the economic development section of the Plan.

The first priority (P1) is increased business investment. Overall priorities are stated as:

  • Maintain and invest in infrastructure to support our growing economy
  • Cut red tape
  • Increase participation in education and training
  • Maintain the State's AAA rating.

Targets are stated as:

  • Continue to increase business investment through making NSW a more attractive place to do business
  • Increase tourist visitation to NSW by 10 million visitor nights by 2016.

The only new measures proposed are:

  • We will develop strategies to focus Government attention on high wage, high skilled, export oriented industries that have the greatest potential to thrive in the future in NSW. The Plan makes it clear that this is to be an innovation, not industry development, strategy.
  • We will investigate ways to encourage Australians, particularly NSW residents, to use their accrued leave through short breaks. This would provide a basis for stimulating regional tourism.export oriented industries that have the greatest potential to thrive in the future in NSW

Given that existing policy approaches are not presently delivering the results that New England needs, this area of the Plan offers nothing to New England.

The second priority (P2) is to maintain and invest in infrastructure. The set targets:

  • Maintain average annual growth rate in capital expenditure of 4.6 per cent nominal over the next decade (2015-16)
  • Develop and report measures of maintenance effectiveness.

Beyond a commitment to consult councils on their needs, this part of the Plan is very much status quo. There is nothing in it that relates specifically to New England's needs other than a passing reference to the Pacific Highway.

The third priority (P3) is to cut red tape. There is nothing in it that relates to New England's key needs.

The fourth priority (P4) aims to get more people participating in education and training throughout their life. The set target is to increase the proportion of the population aged 15-64 participating in vocational education and training from 11.7 per cent in 2005 to 16 per cent by 2016.

In addition to current activities, the Government proposes to consider three new things:

  • Increasing Investment in our Training
  • Flexible delivery of training
  • A Focus on mature workers to increase engagement

While these things may aid NSW as a whole, there is nothing in the Plan relating to New England's specific needs.

The fifth priority (P5) is simply to maintain the State's AAA rating.

The sixth priority (P6) is increased business investment in rural and regional NSW. The target is simply defined as working through Regional Coordination Management Groups (RCMGs) and Regional Development Boards, and with local government and local representative groups to set business growth targets.

The only new approaches under consideration are a possible regional innovation strategy plus some wishy washy words about innovation in primary industry. This part of the Plan does not meet New England's needs.

The seventh priority (P7) is defined as better access to training in rural and regional NSW to support local economies.

At present, VET participation in Regional NSW is well below the Sydney level. The target is to increase to 250,000 (presently 228,000) the number of people in regional areas participating in VET by 2012, with an aim of 300,000 by 2016. The Plan notes that this target can only be achieved through joint effort and funding with the Commonwealth Government and industry.

The only new measure proposed is consideration of improved linkages between training and the needs of local industry. Now it may be that existing measures will allow the target level to be achieved simply through the application of more money. However, on the surface the Plan appears weak in this area.

The Plan also does not address the specific needs of New England including scope for cooperative action across New England's regions.

Environment for Living

The final section of the core Plan addresses environmental and life style issues.

The first priority (E1) is a secure and sustainable water supply for all users. A number of measures are proposed to achieve this.

This priority is driven by the problems that Sydney and certain other parts of NSW have been facing on the water supply side. New England is the wettest part of NSW. The proposed new Hunter dam, for example, is intended to supply water not just to Newcastle but to the central coast. Given this, I simply do not know at this point just what this priority area actually means for New England.

The second priority (E2) is reliable electricity supply with increased use of renewable energy. The targets are defined as:

  • Achieve average electricity reliability for NSW of at least 99.98 per cent (presently 99 + per cent) by 2016
  • By 2010 10 per cent of electricity consumed in NSW will be from renewable sources (presently 6.1 per cent) rising to 15 per cent by 2020.

No new measures are proposed to achieve renewable targets. There appear to be no particular implications for New England.

The third priority (E3) is cleaner air and progress on greenhouse gas reductions. Cleaner air is very much a Sydney problem, although there have been some issues in Newcastle. Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is a broader policy issue with, on the surface, no specific New England implications.

The fourth priority (E4), better outcomes for native vegetation, biodiversity, land, rivers, and coastal waterways, contains no less than 13 sub targets, most expressed in fairly general terms. This priority is actually both important and very complicated because the Government's habit of imposing standard approaches across the state can lead to strange results given the diversity within NSW.

I lack the specific information to be able to make judgements.

While there are some passing references to areas outside Sydney, the fifth priority (E5), jobs closer to home, is Sydney focused. The target is simply defined as an increase the percentage of the population living within 30 minutes by public transport of a city or major centre in Greater Metropolitan Sydney.

The sixth priority (E6) Housing Affordability is again heavily influenced by Sydney's needs. The targets are expressed as:

In Greater Sydney (Newcastle is included as part of Greater Sydney) Metropolitan Region:

  • 640,000 new dwellings over next 25 years to 2031 - of which 445,000 will be in existing urban areas and the remainder (195,000) in greenfield locations
  • Achieve 55,000 zoned and serviced lots ready for development by 2009.

In regional areas:

  • At least 300,000 new dwellings over the next 25 years, with an increased rate of infill development.

These targets, which imply that population in Sydney will grow at twice the rate of the rest of the state over the next ten years thus further widening the gap between the two, contain very little supporting information.

Over the last ten years, between 20,000 and 30,000 new houses have been built annually in Sydney, so the Sydney target appears to imply a substantial increase in Sydney building. I have no idea what the figure for the rest of the state means.

There is no linkage between the housing target and descriptions of current policies which all appear to focus on housing for the disadvantaged.

Housing affordability and availability varies across New England as do public housing needs. There is no linkage between these varying needs and this priority area.

The seventh priority (E7), improve the efficiency of the road network, deals with Sydney only.

The eighth and final priority (E) focuses on getting more people using parks, sporting and recreational facilities, and participating in the arts and cultural activity. Increase participation in recreation, sporting, artistic and cultural activity. The targets are defined as:

  • Increase the number of visits to State Government parks and reserves by 20 per cent by 2016
  • Increase the number of people participating in sporting activities and physical exercise by 10 per cent by 2016
  • Increase visitation and participation in the arts and cultural activity by 10 per cent by 2016.

This is potentially an important area for New England since it implies more people utilising improved facilities within New England. However, nearly all the examples used are Sydney focused, with only limited new activities that might have some benefit to New England.

Specific Regions

The Plan suggests that specific plans have been developed for individual regions. Looking at the material provided on regions within New England.

No new activities are proposed for the Hunter.

Proposals for the North Coast are:

  • Developing a cross-border taskforce with Queensland to examine the need for road, rail and other infrastructure to improve services between the border communities to better manage the impacts and maximise the opportunities for the communities of the Far North Coast of NSW
  • Continued investigation of improvements to rail line to maximise the use of freight on rail
  • Support vocational education and training by building better links between schools, TAFE and industry to focus on better skilling North Coast young people to address the skills shortages in the region
  • Providing a significant increase in public housing in the Tweed area to respond to population growth

Proposals to be considered for the Northern Tablelands/North West are:

  • Increasing the supply of people with the skills required by expanding businesses and emerging industries. A Regional Labour Market Taskforce consisting of government agencies, the University of New England and a cross-section of businesses and industries will lead this initiative
  • Developing specific strategies to improve the attraction and retention of professional staff, especially in remote rural localities
  • Establishing a Land-use Planning Forum to address the regional impacts of climate change (eg shorter growing seasons, water issues). Under this initiative State and Local Government agencies and local producers will work collaboratively to maintain a diverse and productive agricultural sector
  • Working in identified small rural towns with government departments, local councils and business to increase the training and employment opportunities for Aboriginal young people.


If you look at my simple analysis of New England's needs in the previous post, and then compare it to the Plan you will see that most of New England's needs are not addressed or addressed in a peripheral fashion.

In this context, one way of testing the potential value of a plan is to ask what the position would be at the end if every target were to be achieved. Here I think that we can say that at the end of ten years New Englanders will be at best marginally better off, more likely they will have seen a further deterioration in New England's position.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

NSW Ten Year Plan - New England's needs

Graphic: New England Flag

This morning the NSW Premier announced a new ten year plan for the state. I have therefore put aside the Fossickers Way series to look in a preliminary way at the implications of the plan for New England.

This is the first of two posts. This post focuses on the needs to be met from a New England perspective. The second will look at the plan against those needs.

Background Data

The plan is weak on supporting statistical data. I thought therefore that I should provide a little of this first.

At June 2005 the population of NSW was 6.77 million. If we then look at the population of the main zones in New England we find:

  • Hunter Valley 611,000
  • North Coast 521,000
  • New England North West 179,000

This gives a total New England population of 1,311,000 or 19.4 per cent of the NSW population. New England's share of the total NSW has been in slow decline for a number of years. This decline has especially been concentrated in the inland areas.

If we look at other statistical data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics presents some data in its regional profiles. The New England regions for statistical purposes are Hunter, Mid North Coast, Richmond-Tweed, and Northern. For comparative purposes, we can also look at the Sydney and NSW statistical divisions.

The brief analysis that follows is only broad brush and does not pretend to be definitive. In addition to the ABS material I have also drawn some material from an earlier State of the Regions report.

The data suggests:

  • Taking NSW as a whole, between 1998 and 2003 the population of Greater Sydney grew by 256,000, the rest of the State by 105,000. Outside Sydney, the coastal strip dominated population growth, up 7 per cent as compared to 2.7 per cent inland.
  • Again taking NSW as a whole, between 1998 and 2003 the workforce of Greater Sydney grew by 205,000, the rest of NSW by just 18,000. In New England, the workforce increased by 0.7 per cent in the Hunter and Mid North Coast, 0.5 per cent in Richmond-Tweed, but actually declined in Northern (Northern Tablelands, North West) by 1.7 per cent. This low workforce growth has created a very real choke point for economic development. In simplest terms, it means that economic growth especially in inland regions will hit capacity constraints very quickly. There are already significant problems in filling skilled vacancies especially in high growth areas.
  • Population growth in New England as a whole has been greater than workforce growth. The difference is largely but not completely explained by the movement of retirees into in areas like the Mid North Coast. Northern has been losing young people, Richmond-Tweed and the Mid North Coast lost young but gained working age people and retirees. The Hunter gained young and working age, but experienced proportionately greater gains among seniors. Retention of young people is a key issue for much of New England.
  • The New England population is aging and aging faster than the Sydney population. In 1954, the proportion of over 55s ranged from 13 per cent in the Hunter to 15 per cent in other regions. In 2001, the proportion of over 55s ranged from 25 per cent in the Hunter to 30 per cent in the Mid North Coast. In 2021, the range is projected to be from 37 per cent in the Hunter to 47 per cent on the Mid North Coast.
  • Using another measure of aging, elderly (over 70) people living alone already constitute more than 6.1 per cent of households in Richmond-Tweed and Mid North Coast, 5.6 to 6.1 in Hunter and Northern. With aging, the proportion of elderly will continue to increase, with (in the absence of change) the highest impact in those areas already aging fastest. This has significant implications for local council operations in terms of the rate base (down) and the required scale of council support operations (up). Population aging is probably the greatest single public policy challenge facing New England over the next twenty years.
  • Average incomes in New England are lower than in Sydney, in part because of the higher number of retired people, in part because Sydney simply has higher proportion of higher paying jobs in industry, the professions and Government. Thus in 2003 the Sydney average annual taxable income was $46,834 as compare to $39,861 in Hunter, $35,115 in Northern, $33,285 in Mid North Coast and $32,981 in Richmond-Tweed.
  • Unemployment has been higher in New England than in Sydney, especially along the coastal strip, while the number of people on various income support programs is also much higher. In 2003 for example, that latest year for which figures are available, there were 174,648 people in the North Coast on some form of income support as compared to a total 2005 population of 521,000.

Other Issues

In addition to these broad patterns, there are also a number of other important issues. These include:

  • Cross-border issues. In the south Newcastle is being drawn into Greater Sydney and is now being treated as a satellite of Sydney for planning purposes. In the north, the Richmond and especially the Tweed Valley face significant cross-border issues with Queensland. There are also lower scale integration issues elsewhere along the New England-Queensland border.
  • Water. While parts of New England are presently badly affected by drought, New England is also the wettest part of NSW. Control over water is likely to become an increasingly important issue.
  • Tourism. There is presently no integrated approach to selling New England as a tourism destination. This is especially a problem for inland areas lacking major tourism centres.
  • Skilled labour shortages. Already mentioned in passing. Parts of New England are suffering significant shortages in skilled labour, shortages that are impeding development. Critical issues include extending skills training in New England combined with some program to attract skills to New England.
  • Coastal planning and conflict. Increased population and tourism numbers along the North Coast are creating conflict.
  • Higher Education. In higher education, New England's universities, especially New England and Southern Cross, face challenges in gaining student numbers because of the impact of demographic change combined with growing external competition. There is a real need to look at better cooperation among New England universities, at methods to sell those universities to students, at measures of integration so that the sector as a whole provides a complete portfolio of offerings.
  • Schools. Issues associated with New England schooling are complex because of the extent of variation across New England. The public-private divide is creating an increasing problem. Much could be done to improve the current position if cooperation between schools was facilitated, if schools and other community facilities were better integrated, if the New England school system as a whole were better promoted.
  • East-west linkages. The need to improve internal road communication within New England remains. Key priorities include the Kempsey-Armidale and Grafton- Armidale roads. There would also be real gains if the two main links between Scone and Nundle were improved to provide alternative tourist routes to the New England Highway.
  • Indigenous development. New England has a major Aboriginal population, in some cases much higher than the NSW average. This group faces very significant problems. We need to address the opportunities offered by our significant Aboriginal heritage as well as the problems.
  • Health. Particular parts of New England suffer problems in accessing adequate medical and dental services.
  • New England integration. The segmentation of New England into Government defined regions centred on Sydney continues to create problems for cross region cooperation within New England. In the absence of self-government, the NSW Government needs to provide and encourage measures that will facilitate integration.

Local Views

The plan itself provides some remarkably skimpy information on regional views within New England as collected during the consultation process.

Hunter needs were identified as:

Attracting new employment opportunities to the area was seen as a key challenge, particularly for youth; and preferably employment that diversifies the economic base beyond coal and power industries. The need to address skills shortages to enable local people to get local jobs was also stressed.

Other feedback highlighted the need to ensure access and provision to health services, better access to public transport with improved road maintenance and construction. The ongoing impact of drought in rural and remote areas may require a review of water management and it is important to ensure planning for the region achieves a balance between social, economic and environmental objectives.

North Coast needs were identified as:

One of the biggest challenges for the North Coast region as identified by the community is to provide education and employment options, especially for young people. In addition, continued population growth, urban expansion and the ageing of the population is creating demand for new social and physical infrastructure, including the need for better transport, water and sewerage, health, housing and education infrastructure. The continued upgrading of the Pacific Highway is of particular importance to the region. Balancing the demand of development with the protection of the coastal environment also remains a key concern.

The community welcomed the Government's commitment to the upgrading of hospitals, in particular the buyback of the Port Macquarie Base Hospital and the provision of the new facility in Coffs Harbour is seen as very positive. The rapid pace of growth in the region has seen poverty increase for many groups, particularly for Aboriginal communities and the community noted the need for more support services for families and disadvantaged groups generally.

Northern needs were identified as:

In particular, the growth of the mining industry brings with it increasing pressure to develop and maintain a physical infrastructure (roads, rail, telecommunications, transport) with capacity to support it. Balanced and sustainable management of our natural resources to protect the existing agricultural base while benefiting from a rich mineral base will be vital.
Attracting and retaining a skilled work force for the services required to support not just industry growth, but growing populations, will be vital.

Communities were also very clear in their determination to build strong and supportive families and communities, and to reduce the rates of child and substance abuse.

The community identified public education and health and aged care services as key strengths with recognition that we could improve the range of career focused opportunities on offer.

Key Priorities

This brief analysis provides some bench marks against which to judge the NSW Government Ten Year Plan. For example:

  • Economic development. Economic development is the single most important New England priority. Inland we need it to redress population decline. On the coast including the Hunter, we need it to better balance the aging population, to reduce unemployment and welfare dependence, to provide greater opportunities for our young people. Many other priorities follow from this.
  • People attraction. New England does not need more retirees. Our core people priority is to attract skilled labour to fill current vacancies, to lay a basis for future growth.
  • Industry development. We need programs at two levels. Internally, we need policies and programs that will facilitate business development based on what we already have. Externally, we need policies and programs that will facilitate the attraction of new investment and business activity to New England.
  • Tourism development. Tourism is already important for New England. Our problem lies in attracting people in competition with other parts of Australia and especially Sydney. We need to build both the average length of stay and the average spend. We also need to encourage New Englanders to take better advantage themselves of offerings within New England.
  • Education and training: We need programs that will widen educational opportunities, encourage more young people to continue their education, integrate educational offerings at all levels so that New England provides a total portfolio of offerings, build local skills development, sell New England educational opportunities to a broader marketplace.
  • Aging. Given that we already know that we face a major challenge in this area based on the current demographic profile, a challenge that is going to require a range of support facilities including associated professionals, we need a plan that scopes the problem and identifies what can and should be done in response.
  • Heath. Health is more complex in that some parts of New England have access to good facilities, others do not. We also need to plan for future health needs. We need a plan that takes this varied pattern of needs into account.
  • Indigenous development. How will the plan help us meet the needs of our Aboriginal community while also taking advantage of the opportunities they offer.
  • Integration. Will the plan assist the different regions within New England to cooperate with each other, to integrate activities for mutual benefit?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Secrets of New England - along the Fossickers Way Day Two

Graphic: Cover, Patrice Newell, Ten Thousand Wild Acres . A love story about a Hunter Valley property.

Day two of our secret journey begins. I hope that you had a good night.

Today we head north in the footsteps of the gold miners to the start of the Fossickers Way at Nundle. Our journey takes us through tiny remnant villages created after the settlement of Scone and subsequent gold discoveries set in some of the most beautiful country in Australia.

The direct drive time is under two hours, but there are so many things to see, so many by ways to explore. Parts of the road are dirt, so you need to take a little care.

Because part of the fun is working out for yourself just what you want to do, I am again only giving hints. Things change on the ground all the time, so as you drive take the time to ask the locals what they would recommend.

Some of the detail in the material that follows is drawn from various Fairfax Walkabout Australian Travel Guide articles. In all cases, links are provided to original sources.

Our first destination is the little village of Gundy, about 18k from Scone. The Gundy Road heads east off the New England highway at the southern end of Scone. On the way to Gundy you will pass turn-offs to Lake Glenbawn and the Lake Glenbawn State Park. Glenbawn has camping and caravan facilities and offers water sports and good fishing.

Named after a Mrs Gundy who kept an inn, the village began in the early 1860s as a stopover for teams travelling from Scone to stations located further up the Pages and Isis Rivers. Following the discovery of gold at Stewarts Brook and Moonan Brook, Gundy developed as a small service centre for the miners and their families. By 1881 the population had risen to 60 with an inn, church, school, post office and stores. Today only a few elements remain including the Anglican Church (1869).

For those who like their film history, Gundy was the setting for the 1957 productions of Smiley (and here, here) and The Shiralee. I remember seeing them when they first came out, as well as the 1958 sequel to Smiley, Smiley Gets a Gun.

Smiley, a classic Australian children's film, is the story of mischievous boy living in the small Australian country town of Murrumbilla. Always getting into pranks, Smiley wants a bike. This he finally gets, but with many misadventures along the way. The film's cast includes Ralph Richardson, John McCallum, Chips Rafferty and Bud Tingwell, with Colin Petersen as Smiley.

Based on the novel by D'Arcy Niland, The Shiralee tells the story of a man and his daughter. When Jim Macauley (Peter Finch) finds his wife with another man, he takes their young daughter (Dana Wilson) and hits the road. With a young child as his responsibility, he finds he can't be quite the fancy-free wanderer that he had been. Nominated for two BAFTA awards, the film has become another Australian classic.

Proceeding north from Gundy along Gundy Road towards Nundle, you will see Miranee Road on the left. This takes you across the Pages River. Just on the other side, to the right, is a two-storey brick mansion with bay windows owned by radio broadcaster and his partner Patrice Newell.

In 1986 Philip and Patrice purchased Elmswood, 10,000 acres of prime agricultural land embracing Gundy and rising from river flats to a mountain top sometimes dusted with snow. Since then they have developed Elmswood Farms on biodynamic principles producing (among other things) Virgo Extra Virgin Olive Oil (certified A – grade biodynamic ), Virgo Olive Oil Soap with Honey, Elmswood Beef and Elmswood Honey.

Patrice is a very well known Australian writer whose books tell the story of life at Elmswood. Her book The River (previous post) tells the story of the Pages River itself, while Ten Thousand Wild Acres is about Elmswood. If you read Patrice's books before you start it will make this part of the trip a much richer experience.

Continuing north towards Nundle, you will see the turn off to Belltrees Station on the right. I mentioned this in my first post as a possible place to stay. Home to the White family since 1831, Belltrees remains today a very large and historic working farm, incorporating horses and Black Angus cattle.

The Whites were one of New England's squatting dynasties who grew to power and wealth on the sheep's back, and Belltrees with its classic New England architecture homestead and other historic buildings provides a picture of this now vanished past.

Continuing past Belltrees, you will reach the little village of Moonan Flat at just under 44k since leaving Scone. The village itself is just to the left of the main road. Founded to serve the diggeres on the nearby Denison gold fields (in 1867 the bushranger Thunderbolt held up a store at Moonan Brook and hotel at Denison), Moonan Flat lies on the Hunter River in a beautiful setting ringed by the Mount Royal Range.

According to Newcastle ABC radio, the locals are passionate about where they live. The beautiful setting, a suspension bridge, federation homes, an old pub with an open fire and friendly farmers make the place a pleasure to visit.

The Barrington Tops National Park (and here) is near Moonan Flat and can be reached via Moonan Brook Rd which heads west of Moonan Flat towards Gloucester. However, we continue to the north east along Pages Creek Road towards Nundle.

Our road next passes through Ellerston. Originally part of Belltrees, Ellerston is now owned by the Packer family and became famous as the headquarters of Kerry Packer's polo activities.

This is the longest part of your trip.

To get to Nundle from here we have to cross the the Mount Royal Range, the rugged range linking the Barrington Tops with the Liverpool Range to the north and west, and then drop down into the foothills on the other side, a distance of 63k.

Just before you arrive at the village of Hanging Rock, you will see Sheba Dams. Erected by hand over a three-week period in 1888 by The Mt Sheba Company to serve the sluicing needs of the miners. This is a loverly spot to stop with picnic and barbecue facilities in a bush setting. There is also a 1.2-km bush walk. You are also entering good fossicking country with zircons, sapphires and other semi-precious stones to be found.

You are now within a short drive of Nundle. Here you really face a choice. Do you stop and look at things now or go into Nundle and then come back? I suggest that you investigate this before you go so as to set the itinerary that best suits you.

Near Sheba Dams you will also see a sign to the nearby Arc-En-Ciel Trout Farm. The farm is located on the top of the Great Dividing Range at a height of 4,000 feet with the Peel valley to the west, the Barnard Valley to the east and the Hunter Valley to the south. There are conducted tours of the ponds and hatchery. Fishing equipment is available for hire with all catches cleaned and packed for you. You can also purchase fresh and smoked trout, and smoked trout pate.

Leaving Sheba Dams you come to the little village of Hanging Rock. Just past the village there are two branch roads almost directly opposite each other.

Lookout Road on the left leads to the rock itself where there is a scenic vantage point with excellent views of the chasm and the valley below. The road on the right is signposted to Ponderosa Forest Park where there are walking trails, possibilities for overnight camping and all appropriate facilities. It also leads through the Zircon Gully Fossicking Area.

Beyond Hanging Rock (11oo metres) the road plunges steeply, past old mullock heaps where the hillside was overturned in search of gold towards Nundle with the massive treeless rock face of Hanging Rock looming overhead. You are now only minutes from the historic village of Nundle, your overnignt stop, with its many attractions.

Located at the headwaters of the Peel River, a tributary of the Darling, Nundle (and here) is an old gold mining town forming part of the Peel River diggings - Nundle, Happy Valley, Hanging Rock and Bowling Alley Point. As you might infer from what has already been said, the town is situated amidst some genuinely spectacular scenery between the towering slopes of the Great Dividing Range and the Peel River which is popular with anglers. Sheep, cattle, wheat and tourism are now the economic mainstays of this little village which today contains some 200 inhabitants.

Gold was discovered at nearby Swamp Creek in 1851. By By 1865 the population was around 500 with about 50 businesses in operation.

As with other parts of New England, there were many Chinese among the thousands who came to the area up to the 1880s. Most came looking for gold, while a few came to set up stores and gardens to supply the diggers. Illness or accidents took the lives of many searching the hills, and the Bowling Alley Point and Nundle Cemeteries became their final resting-places, while the majority left when gold petered out or new fields beckoned. Some stayed on and became a permanent part of Nundle and district history.

Nundle has an annual Go for Gold Chinese Festival - the next will be held on the weekend of 7 and 8 April 2007 - celebrating the Chinese contribution.

On arrival in Nundle you will want to go to your accommodation. You will be looked after no matter where you stay- from elegant Guesthouse and a comfortable Motel and Hotel, to Caravan Park with shady camping spots and Backpacker accommodation. You should however book in advance because the number of beds is limited.

You will want to spend some time exploring the town. Steeped in history, Nundle has achieved something rare. It has maintained it's heritage of the gold era of the late 1800's and yet it is progressing into the next millennia with well-maintained facilities for golf, tennis, bowls and swimming.

You can explore the depths of a working gold mine. Try your luck at fossicking,visit an underground mining museum, shear a sheep, browse for antiques. Nundle is an important craft centre. The Nundle Woollen Mill is the oldest working mill in Australia and provides a range of fine wools, while Minx Handknits offers a range of wool products.

Sleep well. Tomorrow we move north along the Fossickers Way.

Entry point for the Fosssickers Way series.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Secrets of New England - along the Fossickers Way Day One

Photo: Wollombi Village, Hunter Valley

Too many visitors to New England either travel through or go straight to popular tourist destinations such as Coffs Harbour. In doing so, they miss many of the secrets of inland New England. So come with me on a secret tour.

Our journey starts in Scone and finishes in Glen Innes. Alternatively, start in Glen and then move south.

Leave Sydney early for Scone. You are on holidays, so forget the full express way. The way I am suggesting is about about three and a half hours drive time, so you have plenty of time for excursions.

Take the Peats Ridge exit from the express way and proceed down George Downes Drive towards Wollombi. This brings you onto the original Great North Road constructed by convict labour. Signs of the original work can still be found along the road.

Already you face a hard choice. Wollombi and the following village of Broke both have history, attractions and wine, lots of wine. I am not going to spoil your fun by making suggestions. Investigate and decide where you want to spend your time.

From Broke the road continues on to join the Putty Road and then right towards Singleton. I actually know Singleton quite well, but their web site (at least the one I have found) is very ordinary and does not do the town justice. I am not going to plug a place where I (and you) cannot get the information required to persuade us to stop.

At Singleton we join the New England Highway and then head north through Muswellbrook and Aberdeen to Scone.

Scone (and here) is now known as the Horse Capital of Australia because of the local studs. An attractive town, Scone offers a variety of experiences. Here the Visitor Information and Wine Centre, situated opposite Elizabeth Park (and the mare and foal statue) should be your first stop. It offers suggestions with attractions, dates for special events as well as accommodation and meals.

There is plenty of acommodation in Scone itself. However, for something a little different, you may want to try Belltrees Station, one of Australia's great rural stations still owned by the White family. The Australian writer Patrick White is part of this family.

This ends day one.

Fossickers Way posts

Thursday, November 09, 2006

New England, Australia - State Electorates

With the NSW elections coming up in March 2007, I have been meaning for some time to do some posts on the current electoral position in New England so as to provide a base for commentary on the elections as well as comparative analysis with past results.

The arrest of Milton Orkopoulos, the ALP member for the New England seat of Swansea and NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs on sex charges and the subsequent moves to expell him from the ALP reminded me. I do not want to comment on the Orkopoulos case. I am more interested in the overall picture.

A list of New England electorates at the last State election follows later, together with the name of the member, the winnning party and the final two party preferred vote. The party initials are:

  • ALP - Australian Labor Party
  • CLP - Country Labor Party, an offshoot of the ALP registered as a separate political party to try to maximise the ALP vote in country areas
  • Ind - Independent
  • LP - Liberal Party
  • NP National Party

Following the 2003 election, the New England party distribution was ALP 9, NP 8, independents 3. There would be more seats in a New England parliament, but the break up would probably be roughly the same proportions. With the independents holding the balance of power, there could be either an ALP or NP government with independent support.

If we look at the figures in a historical context:

  • there has been a steady decline over time in the proportion of total NSW seats coming from New England with the decline concentrated in the inland seats reflecting relative population shifts within NSW. The Northern Tableands, for example, has shrunk from three members to one.
  • The ALP vote remains concentrated in its Newcastle and Lower Hunter heartland, although its capacity to win seats especially in the coastal strip such as Tweed, seats that were previously blue ribbon Country Party/National Party (although sometimes taken by independents), has increased. In part this reflects demographic change along the coastal strip.
  • The independent movement has cut a swaith through central New England capturing the adjoining seats of Port Macquarie, Northern Tablelands and Tamworth as well as the Federal seat of New England covering the Tamworth and Northern Tablelands state electorates.
  • The Liberal Party remains very weak holding no current seats.

We can also see that the National Party is the big loser from the failure to gain statehood for New England. Had statehood been achieved in the 1960s, the Country Party would have formed government in its own right as the then natural majority party, with the ALP as the opposition. As discussed before, this explains ALP opposition to statehood.

The 2003 seats and results were:

Ballina, Page, National Party (two party prefered NP 59.02, CLP 40.98)
Barwon, Slack-Smith, NP (two party prefered NP 66.16, CLP 33.84)
Cessnock, Hickey, ALP (two part prefered ALP 65.54, NP 34.46)
Charlestown, Morris ALP (two part prefered ALP 64.68, LP 35.32)
Clarence, Cansdell, NP (two party prefered NP 51.61, CLP 48.39)
Coff Harbour, Fraser, NP (two party prefered NP 56.88, Ind 43.12)
Lake Macquarie, Hunter, ALP (two party prefered ALP 64.47, LP 35.53)
Lismore, George, NP (two party prefered NP 62.84, CLP 37.16)
Maitland, Price, ALP (two party prefered ALP 58.92, LP 41.08),
Myall Lakes, Turner, NP (two party prefered NP65.45, ALP 34.55)
Newcastle, Gaudry, ALP (two party prefered ALP 64.85, LP 35.15)
Northern Tablelands, Torbay, Ind (two party prefered Ind 82.37, NP 17.63)
Oxley, Stoner, NP (two party prefered NP 59.95, CLP 40.05)
Port Macquarie, Oakshot, Ind (two party prefered Ind 82.83, NP 17.17)
Port Stephens, Bartlett, ALP (two party prefered ALP 59.34, LP 40.66)
Swansea, Orkopoulos, ALP (two part prefered ALP 65.89, LP 34.11)
Tamworth,Draper, Ind (two party prefered Ind 52.48, NP47.52)
Tweed, Newell, ALP (two party prefered ALP 58.53, NP 46.17)
Upper Hunter, Souris, NP (two party prefered NP 62.71, CLP 37.29)
Wallsend, Mills, ALP (two party prefered ALP 70.71, LP 29.29)

There has been a redistribution since the 2003 elections. A list of seats for 2007 follows. Although the names of the seats are the same, there has been a further marginal decline in effective New England representation because of the extension of the boundaries of the seat of Barwon to cover a large slab of Western NSW.

The 2007 seats are:

Barwon (small part)
Coffs Harbour
Lake Macquarie
Myall Lakes
Northern Tablelands
Port Macquarie
Port Stephens
Upper Hunter

I will comment further as we get closer to the election.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

University of New England - Stocktake of Posts as at 5 Nov 06

Photo: Booloominbah, University of New England

Founded in 1938 as a College of the University of Sydney, the University of New England has played a major role in New England's intellectual life.

For that reason, references to it are scattered in specific posts throughout this blog. However, most of the major posts relating to UNE are in fact on my personal blog.

For that reason this post provides a chronological list of posts dealing in some way with the University of New England on both blogs.

Previous Stocktakes

Friday, November 03, 2006

New England Australia - Introducing Mining

Photo: Gordon Smith, Woodsreef Asbestos Mine

In an earlier post, History of New England, Australia - Pause for Reflection, I commented that I really needed to say something about the early history of mining in New England before talking further about the history of agriculture.

This rather dramatic photo by Gordon Smith shows the abandoned mine workings at the Woodsreef asbestos mine near Barraba.

About 18 km from Barraba are Woodsreef and the Ironbark Creek picnicking and fossicking area.

Gold was discovered at Woodsreef in the late 1850s and a thriving village soon developed with a post office, stores and school, but it virtually disappeared when most miners left in the late 1860s.

White asbestos was first mined at Woodsreef from 1919-1923. In 1972 a large open-cut asbestos mine was opened, furnishing much local employment before closing in the 1980s leaving unremediated mine workings that have become a tourist stop in their own right.

While now dominated by coal mining, New England has been one of the world's major mineral provinces. Given this, I find it odd that we do so little to present the history, romance and attractions associated with mining in a way that will make the experience more accessible to both visitors and locals.

Mining is often presented as beginning with coal extraction by the early convicts at Newcastle. In fact mining predates European settlement. In the words of Geoffrey Blainey's Triumph of the Nomads:

"At Moore Creek. near Tamworth in New South Wales, an outcrop of greywacke running along the crest of a saddle-back ridge was mined prolifically; the axe-stone was quarried by aboriginals for a length of three hundred feet and to a maximum width of twelve feet. On countless still days the noise of the chipping, the patient chipping, must have carried across the slopes.

As the written records were thin in tracing the trade in stone axes from the Tamworth district; other ways of reconstructing the extent of the trade were needed. Petrological analysis was one promising technique. It has been applied as long ago as 1923 to reveal that the so-called bluestone used in building Stonehenge in southern England had been carried all the way from Pembrokshire in Wales.

With this technique in mind an enterprising archaeologist, lsabel McBryde, examined a total of 517 edge-ground axes which had been found scattered over a large part of New South Wales. She mapped the places where each stone axe had originally been collected old aboriginal camping grounds, trade routes, or simply places where an aboriginal had lost or broken his axe or had bartered it away to a European pioneer. In the laboratory a thin sliver of stone was sawn from each available axe. Each specimen of stone was then ground down to a transparent thinness and examined under the microscope of the geologist, R.A. Binns. Once the minute characteristics of the stone had been identified, the search for its place of origin could be concentrated on those regions or even specific hills or valleys which were known to contain that type of stone. In those areas which had been mapped with intensity the exact quarry which produced some axes could even be located. Binns and McBryde were able to name one quarry which had originally produced the stone for sixty-five of the axes that were found in scattered parts of New South Wales.

This kind of archaeological jigsaw the exact matching of axe and quarry can be solved only when every likely source of stone has been discovered and described. In a sparsely-peopled territory the mapping is slow and the geological knowledge is not easily gathered. Nonetheless Binns and McBryde were able to gauge the extent of territory or market which was supplied with stone axes quarried from the long ridge of Moore Creek or from similar rock formations to the north of Tamworth. They found that axes had gone overland through a chain of tribal territories to Cobar, Bourke, Wilcannia, and other points on the plains as remote as 500 miles from the home quarries.The longest of these routes, transposed on to a map of western Europe, was almost equal to a walk overland from the English Channel to the Mediterranean."

I spoke at personal level of the work of Isabel McBryde in my post on the New England writer Patrice Newell.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Promoting New England Festivals - Kadmus Arts, an international festival portal

Email from Bill Reichblum drawing my attention to Kadmus Arts, an international portal for music, dance and theatre festivals. I had not seen it before. My thanks, Bill.

The site includes details of festivals in individual countries, a blog and a forum page. I mention it here because it provides an opportunity for New England festivals to promote themselves to a wider audience.

I notice that a number of New England Festivals are already already included in the Australia Country list. Keeping this type of list up to date is a massive task. So I would also recommend that all New England festival organisers check their existing details so that they are accurate.