Saturday, May 26, 2012

Kurri Kurri smelter to close

This post simply records the impending closure of the Kurri Kurri aluminium smelter. For those who don't know where Kurri Kurri is, it lies in the Lower Hunter.

This is just another of the changes that have wracked New England over the last sixty years, something I dealt with in a preliminary way in Social change in New England 1950-2000 Introduction.  Changes on these scales are not easy to manage at local level.

The smelter's closure wasn't helped by its inability to negotiate a long term electricity contract with the past and present Sydney governments. However, the underlying causes link to the structural changes now taking place across the Australian economy.

Friday, May 25, 2012

New England fashion - Frasers of Arran

I am tired of apologising for my slow posting here. My problem lies in changes in my own household that mean we have been in a permanent move phase for months! I have found it very hard to concentrate. We are almost at the end of it. 

A post on my personal blog, Refashioning Dad revisited, returned to an earlier campaign to change my fashion image. This got me thinking about New England fashion.

This shot is from Frasers of Arran.

After I left Armidale for Sydney, I kept buying most of  my clothes in Armidale. Why? I could still buy good wool and country gear that simply wasn't available in Sydney.

There is an irony in this, however. I had to stop buying in Armidale because the local stores stopped stocking the things I loved. Yet, at the same time, the styles came back into fashion in Sydney! So I ended buying my Tablelands' gear in Sydney!

Throughout the changes, Frasers of Arran kept stocking their gear, entering the on-line world. Here is wool of the type I love. I don't mind the girl either!

Fashion across New England is actually quite varied, for fashion reflects climate and life style, and that varies widely across New England. This shouldn't surprise. After all, New England is a fair bit larger than, say, Greece.

We don't sell our varying New England life styles at all well. I know that I have said that before, but it remains true.

The thing is that the on-line revolution provides an opportunity for people like us to present our special features, to build on what we have. I find that exciting. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Round the New England blogging traps 26 - romance with a dash of geology

On Freedom and Flourishing, Winton Bates What is the case for government funding of mitigation research? looks at the justification for government funding of climate change research. Winton was co-editor of Neucleus with me back in those distant days.

Staying with the University of New England, on Northern Rivers Geology Rod has continued his fascinating analysis of New England's geology and geography. To illustrate my point, have a look at Where the river joins the sea. One of the reasons why UNE was so influential in its earlier days lay in its adoption of a broader regional focus. Sadly, it still has to recover that.

Still sticking with UNE, New England blogger and Armidale Express journalist Janene Carey had a fascinating profile of local independent MP and UNE Chancellor Richard Torbay. In a comment on an earlier post, Janene asked me questions for Richard. Personal events intervened. But, Richard, I would be a darn sight happier if you were to come out with a broader New England focus including support for self-government.

If you go to Canberra without that broader base, then you are likely to be ineffective.

Mark's Clarence Valley Today remains a superb photo blog. It helps that I know the areas that he writes about quite well, but he just has some fascinating stuff. 

Published by Penguin, Cathryn Hein's new book is described in this way:      

When a tragic horse float accident leaves young showjumper Brooke Kingston unable to properly manage her family's Hunter Valley property, she believes nothing worse can happen. Until she discovers her well-intentioned family have employed a new farm manager for her beloved Kingston Downs. But stubbornness runs in the family, and Brooke isn't about to leave her home or abandon her darling horse Poddy. Working on the principle possession is nine-tenths of the law, she digs in her spurs and stays put.

You will find her blog here. Now Cathyrn and fellow New England writer Bronwyn Parry are doing a rather effective job in cross-promotion. 

Cathryn describes Bronwyn's latest book in these terms: 

Trapped in rugged country in scorching summer heat, pursued by ruthless gunmen who can’t afford to fail, Jo and Nick will need all their skills and courage to survive.

The national parks where Ranger Jo Lockwood works, on the edge of the NSW outback, are untamed stretches of dry forest cut through with wild rivers. She’s often alone, and she likes it that way until she discovers the body of a man, brutally murdered, in a vandalised campground.

I have yet to read Cathryn, although I intend to do so as soon as I can get to a bookshop. I can tell you that Bronwyn is a bloody good writer. She really is, and her sales attest to that.

I know that I carry on about this, but we New Englanders really don't have access to our own cultural life because we don't exist! I try as best I can, recently not well, to feed back to you some of the depth and texture of our life, but it's hard.

The broader New England is a natural historical entity in the way very few Australian areas are. We exist because geography and history dictate that we do. Yet I would bet you London to a brick, to use a now ancient phrase, that the Armidale Express would classify Bronwyn as an Armidale or, at best, a Northern Tablelands' writer.

The Newcastle Herald would classify  Cathryn as a Hunter Valley writer. And yet they write in a common genre, draw from related geographical experiences, are understandable to each other and cross-promote.

I always knew about the commonalities and links. I did not realise until started writing in detail about the North just how deep and unique our history and cultural life has been. And damn all Australians or even New Englanders know about it.     

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Narrabri wrestles with fly in, fly out workers

Interesting story on ABC New England North West on problems associated with fly in, fly out workers in Narrabri. The town is welcoming them, but is struggling to work out how best to cope. Among other things, the airport has gone from from 13 to 52 flights a week!

You can find more details here.