Monday, November 29, 2010

Permaculture evening~ how to reap the rewards from your own backyard!

Through this blog I have met some very interesting and exciting residents of this region. I have been contacted by some asking for help with petitions, some with details on workshops and events they are holding and others who want some help to get an idea or business off the ground and flying. I am not sure I have been a huge help to some but am glad to have had the opportunities all the same. They all have great ideas, wonderful passion and they will do brilliantly with, or without my help but I am very happy to provide a small measure of assistance where I can.

Kym and Georgie from FreeRange Permaculture contacted me regarding an upcoming workshop and talk presented by an esteemed member of the Horticulture world that will be presented locally for all interested residents. Joel Salatin (the Lunatic Farmer) is an enthusiastic farmer who has written 6 books and received several awards including the Heinz International Award for Environmental Leadership.

He will be giving a talk at the Shangri-La Hotel at The Marina on Sunday 5th December from 6-9p.m. The evening will be opened by Costa Georgiadis (who is absolutely incredible, those of you who watch Costa's Garden will know exactly what I mean) and there will be ample time to ask any questions at the end of the presentation.

Tickets can be booked online at and there is also a 2 day workshop at Mt Molloy available for those interested in delving further into the idea of Permaculture and food gardens.

This opportunity is a great one for all of those with huge grocery bills and some space in the backyard sitting idle. At the moment it is very difficult to get enough fruit and veggies into your own diet, let alone any children you might have, because the long wet winter has led to food shortages in almost every area. I even resorted to buying tinned fruit last week because the cost was so high for apples, bananas and oranges. The beauty of Permaculture is that it is appropriate whatever the size of your veggie patch area. It saves you money, is great for the whole family to get involved in and teaches your children the value of home grown produce.

I encourage everyone who is able to take the few hours out of their Sunday night to attend this fantastic presentation and get yourselves on the way to picking your own salad and veggies. Nothing tastes better than a home-grown tomato. Last night I made a salad to go with our lamb chops and the lettuce, cucumber, capsicum and tomatoes all came from our garden and it tasted so good even my kids ate it!

Caring for our environment by taking the pressure of the over-worked farms and using organic pesticides at home is making children healthier and adults are also reaping the benefits. It's such an easy thing to do, costs very little to start up and will be useful for as many years as you live in the same house.

Visit the website mentioned above for more information or just to find out what Permaculture actually is and if you think it might suit you, buy a ticket and go. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Another one bites the dust!

Some of you are aware of the fact that I work at Squeekers in Edmonton. It's an indoor playground with a cafe that is one of the best places I have ever worked. Kids and adults come in laughing and ready to have a great time. Parents network and socialise, read papers and complete assignments. I make a mean cup of coffee and fabulous scones. Kids leave tired and parents leave satisfied. Not many places of work offer you the opportunity to make a child's day and make parents happy at the same time. I frankly love my job.

Unfortunately, due to the economic downturn here in Cairns, Squeekers will be closing it's doors on December 24th and not re-opening....EVER!

Is it due to the cost to go there? Partly, yes. It costs too much for the average family to visit weekly, which would be required to keep it viable. Can the prices be lower? Well, no. They are already lower than they should be and it's still a struggle to get people returning regularly.

It's simply a case of average families being broke. There is no spare money floating around households for frivolities such as this. They are carefully squirreling away the few dollars they may have so that they can afford to give their children a good Christmas, or budgeting well in advance for the school year to pay for the books, uniforms and fees that will be due in January. Even public school is no longer free, I am not sure that it ever really was, and the cost of uniforms alone is quite high. Parents no longer take the kids out for dinner to celebrate birthdays, or just to get out of the house. It costs too much.

Nobody is using the infrequent day off when a grandparent, friend or day care have the children, to socialise with other parents and have coffee and lunch somewhere nice. Instead, they are spending that time wondering how they can possibly get a fraction of what is on the Christmas list under the tree to avoid disappointment.

This is not a problem facing parents only though. It's a problem facing all of the local area. My neighbour owns a local restaurant. Because of the nature of his job, he finds out everything he can about any potential competition in the city as the dollars aren't there and they are all fighting for every customer. Last week alone, three cafe's and two restaurants announced they will be closing before Christmas.

In times when the population is cash poor, the first to suffer will be those businesses seen as luxury options. The most prominent of those are food outlets. How anyone can pretend that we are doing okay, when businesses are going broke in large numbers and the tourist ventures are discounting to the bottom line, and still struggling, has got their head in the sand.

I don't care how well our dollar is doing, couldn't care less if the stock-market is flying along. I care about the small business owner who can't afford Christmas. The parent who can't afford to buy their kids new shoes. The elderly couple who can't afford to take a trip to visit family for the holidays. These are the people who are doing it tough. These are the ones we should be focussing our spending on. These are the ones we should all care about.

There is very little I, or most of you, can do about the situation as it stands. In real terms, I have little extra myself as do you. However, I still need to buy the Christmas goodies, buy the pressies for under the tree and send out cards to family far away. To do that, I am insisting on buying only locally, from local businesses, with local owners. The presents for the kids have come from Juniors at Edmonton and Toyworld in Earlville. The chicken and platters have been ordered from Piccone's Edmonton and the decorations have come from the Florist and Gift store in the old section of Piccone's village. I have purchased presents for the adults from markets, from the gift store mentioned and from friends who are talented. A few came from Oxfam and I also purchased two loans from Kiva but I have stuck pretty closely to my goal.

Will I save these companies....NO! But you can. If everyone bought just half of all of their groceries, toys, gadgets, flowers, decorations etc.. from local businesses, we might just make enough of a difference that will see them still around in the new year. My goal is to try, and to get you all to as well.

The best part about shopping this way, is not just the benefit to the store owner, but the fantastic finds you come across that will help make someone special smile on Christmas Day. There is no better feeling than that.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wet Season and water hazards.

Welcome 'Cairnsites' to what is fairly obviously a precursor to the imminent wet season. It's been stormy and windy, raining and bleak. The humidity is rising and the water holes and creeks are looking like a fabulous option on the weekends. This wet season is predicted to be a doozy. It's been suggested we will have increased cyclone activity, monsoonal rains and the possibility of flooding.

Sounds like the wet seasons of my childhood. Cyclones came once every couple of years and frightened us into bathrooms for a few hours. Neighbours packed together like sardines in our house, firing up the barbie and eating everything out of the freezer before it went bad. Chainsaws started up and cleared away the trees and we swam to the shop for milk. The sad thing is, I am not even making this up! I actually swam to the shops on the corner of Reservoir Rd and Pease Street on more than one occasion.

There are a few positives from this type of wet season. Firstly, it encourages people to clean up yards that need a once, or twice, over. Secondly, it gives us less chance of a Dengue outbreak. We all know that they breed in still water in shallow containers, roof gutters, old tyres and palm fronds, but they can't breed if the water keeps getting flushed out by more rain. Simple fact.

Lastly, it fills all of our catchments and water reservoirs with clean, fresh water. This will negate the need for any water restrictions or rises in water costs by Council. That's a bonus for all of us.

There is just one down side of a wet season like the one predicted. Water. It will beckon us all on the days when the humidity causes you to physically begin to melt from the forehead down. Swimming pools, creeks, water holes and drains will entice. The down side? Kids will also feel the same need to cool off. Little kids and big kids alike will head for water.

The problem is that some of those kids will find themselves in situations they hadn't envisioned when they thought to get wet. Drains are extremely dangerous places to be in flood times. We all know that, but kids sometimes forget. When it's really hot and humid, safety is not always the first thought you have.

Backyard pools of the blow up ring around the top kind, available from every department store at a bargain price are the next to fail under scrutiny. They have nowhere for kids to hold if they fall in. They are usually not fenced (although regulations require it) as they are seen as a toy, not as an actual pool. Those things scare me more than any other backyard object.

Regular pools are also the cause of many accidents, near drownings and the occasional fatality and when do more incidents occur? The wet season is the most likely culprit.

Kids are curious, adventurous and fearless. They are not thinking of potential dangers when they do most things and being close to water is unfortunately one of those.

We need to get support for parents to encourage them to put their children into swimming lessons at a very young age. Six months is the recommended starting point. We need to make it more affordable to do that.

Here in the tropics, activity near or on water is a regular past-time and this needs to be acknowledged by facilitating water safety courses or by providing assistance to parents so they can enrol their children now. Perhaps a Government subsidy for all children under 5 to get the basics taught. Swimming lessons are as essential as learning how to read as far as I am concerned. It's nearly impossible to suffer brain damage while reading a book or spelling a word. Education of our children is the priority for all parents, this should be part of that process.

Unfortunately, swimming lessons can cost anywhere from 11-20 dollars per half hour session. It's actually more expensive than any sport and out of the financial reach of many parents. It doesn't make them bad parents if they can't afford to take their kids to lessons, parents pay a lot to raise a child these days and swimming lessons are as much a luxury as petrol for some.

Whether your child is a confident swimmer, struggles with a poor dog paddle or is too tiny to reach the bottom on tip toes, the best way to ensure your children stay safe is to watch them. Stay vigilant around water, teach them to stay away from flood waters and drains and for God's sake, throw the cheap blow up pool in the bin unless it is fenced with regulated fencing.

Above all else, have a safe and happy wet season. Enjoy the water, the bbq's and the holidays but make sure you also stay alert near water, keep little fingers away from hotplates and drive safely. Next year will be a great one, help to ensure it starts well.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why is the Precinct a dirty word?

The meeting yesterday afternoon at the Council Chambers was an open meeting with all members of the public invited to attend. The gallery was full of opponents to the Precinct and not many in support of the whole idea. Is the dissent caused by cost alone, as the walk the streets initiative I have begun indicates? Is it the position of the Precinct, on land some believe could be better utilised? Or is the real answer much more simple, yet harder to counteract than that?

The cost has been adequately responded to by Council officers and Councillors in the past few weeks. It will mean a $33'000'000 outlay by the Council, taken as a loan over 20 years. This is an achievable target that is well within the reach of our current Council coffers. It would mean no impact on rates and would still leave us with a large borrowing capacity.

There are questions on the ongoing maintenance and running costs of the Precinct and they need to be answered as soon as possible but should not exceed the $3'000'000 prediction. Will the restaurant and retail aspects of the development be required to make it viable? If so, there are more questions requiring answers because businesses all over the city are closing and empty stores and restaurants are only going to have a negative look, feel and the possibility of a large hole in the budget, all of which will need to be addressed. It should not be a hard task to answer those questions though and overall, there is no real financial reason that this project should suddenly be a non-viable one.

The land can be argued about till the end of time but reality says that it has been gifted to Council by the State Government, it is suitable for the purpose, it has no alternate use and it will not cause any problems for the waterfront shipping ability of Cairns in the future. Simple, straightforward and truthful. The public can't ask for more than that.

The picture of the 'Valcano' was the beginning of the confusion and dissatisfaction from the public. It is an ugly picture, there is no doubt about that, and people are finding it very difficult to distance the picture from the whole project. It doesn't help that it's featured in the paper every time they write two words about the Precinct. Mind you, without an alternative picture, what are they supposed to do? Someone needs to get onto a new 'concept' design picture that can be used while the preliminary process is still going on. Give the damn thing to the paper and tell them to use it instead. Again, easy to fix and not the real reason for the argument against.

The real reason that people are so opposed to the Precinct going ahead is a very, very simple one. They hate Val. This is seen as 'her' idea (despite the fact it has been looked at in various forms for the past 16 years) and the people of Cairns don't like her. They didn't like Byrne either. Mind you, he did build a horrific mushroom in the City Place and surrounded it with bizarre paving off-cuts and public urinals (oops, I mean sculptures) and capped it off by providing no shade and concrete seating in the sun. It's understandable that they would be reluctant to go along with any plan he may provide for a future development. Even the fabulous Esplanade development with Muddies and the Lagoon was a Tom Pyne initiative so there is very little, if any, public amenities or facilities that Kevin was responsible for that aren't ugly and inappropriate.

Val has had a hand in several projects, such as the Cattana Wetlands area, that are world class and entirely appropriate to who we are and how we want to be perceived. You would think that this would be enough. It would prove she was capable. Apparently not. Apparently she is seen as a dictator, hard, unyielding and completely non-likeable.

Cairns, like the rest of Australia, needs to form a relationship of sorts with the leaders we have. We need to 'bond' in some way with those who make decisions for us, or we simply hate everything they do. It's not particularly scientific, perhaps slightly unreasonable, but it's who we are.

If Oprah had come to town and told us all that we need a cultural hub in this city, one that would allow local people to interact, perform and be entertained, we would all be jumping up and down demanding that it occur. If the Government THEN said to us, here's 40 million to get started, we would celebrate and start planning tomorrow.

Unfortunately for Cairns, the dislike for the Mayor may well become a bigger problem than us just not having a warm fuzzy feeling toward her. It may end with us losing the biggest opportunity Cairns has had in a very long time, certainly in my memory.

Besides anything else, liking someone does not make them good at their job, we have proven that with more past Prime Ministers, Premiers and Mayors than I care to think about. Sometimes the ones who are without emotional connection, at least from all appearances, are the best at making dispassionate decisions when it's required.

Go ahead and pick on Val if it will help you feel better, but don't let Cairns fall further behind based on a petty personality issue. The Cairns Cultural Precinct is a requirement for Cairns' future development and growth, please don't let this opportunity to do something great fade away. At the next Precinct meeting I expect more people in the gallery supporting this development, over-riding the loud dissent.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Walking the Streets ~ Beagle Close.

This week I went to three separate streets in the same area trying desperately to find some residents at home. Obviously a bad time of day for the first two but the third had nearly all at home and they were willing to spend a few minutes having a chat. The area is in the middle of Bentley Park and one which I am very familiar with, having lived there previously for a few years. The street, Beagle Close. Off Resolution Drive.

The houses here are more established than the previous few streets I have been down and it's obvious. The trees are large, the houses have plenty of personality and the residents are true locals. They were very happy to impart their knowledge of the area and add to the store of information I now have due to this initiative. One resident was very enthusiastic and spoke for a good 45 minutes about the area he very obviously loves and what he sees as it's potential pitfalls.

How would they spend a spare $50? Buy something for the kids or go out for dinner. Once again it became apparent that the lack of choice for evenings out on this side of town is detrimental to the residents and they would frequent restaurants if there were any. The local pubs are good, the food is okay and the kids are catered for but if you want a night out without children in a restaurant that has a bit of atmosphere, there is very little choice out here.

Sugarworld is missed by all of the people living in the South Side and this street was no different. There was disappointment by some that the new all-abilities playground is now fully fenced. This means that you can no longer take a picnic down there, place a rug on the grass and let the kids go back and forth between the playground and you. Instead, they will be in a fully enclosed playground area without adequate seating, no space for placing rugs on grass, an entry/exit gate that is not close to the toilets and the open, spacious feel of the facility is now a thing of the past. This is believed to be the result of the all-ability requirements that dictates children must be fenced in to create a safer environment for them to play in. I disagree and believe that safety was never an issue as the playground area is far enough away from the car park to enable parents to head off children before they get into any kind of danger. The playground is not yet open or operational though, so we will soon see if the end result is better than what is indicated at the moment.

The Cultural Precinct is an obscure, unreal, distant thing to these residents. Most do not have children old enough for school productions and they all indicated that they would not care if there was a museum in the area as they were highly unlikely to go to it. They conceded that the Civic Theatre is ugly and old and were happy with the Cultural Precinct being built, as long as the basics in the suburbs were not going to suffer.

Playgroups are an important part of weekly life for all of these residents. They all stated that there was not enough for kids to do in the area and that without Playgroup the kids would be going stir crazy. They can't afford the cost of places like Squeekers. For one family I visited, three children under 5 plus two older ones would equal an entry fee of $36, add the cost of drinks and snacks and it's a rare treat, not a weekly social outing. A trip to the movies would be $90 for tickets and approximately $40 for 3 drinks and popcorn to share. Dinner at the Grafton Hotel would be at least $150 for the family. Understandably, they don't go out much.

There is free sport for kids at Ravizza Park at the moment on Friday afternoons. This initiative is one from the Council and is happening in several suburbs around Cairns, including Woree, and it should be advertised in school newsletters and not just via Councillor's newsletters and blogs. Something that is free, available to all, has separate groups for different ages and is running every single week should have loud and large proclamations to inform the public that it is happening. Five houses in this street with kids......not one single one of those knew about the sport activities. That's poor.

There were a few residents who were upset with the lack of care that Council is showing the local parks and recreational areas. There was concern that graffiti on the half pipe on Roberts Rd is being ignored for too long and that beer cans and rubbish are strewn through some of the local park areas nestled in the suburb.

One resident spoke to the area Councillor about their concerns regarding the use of trail bikes in the area and wanted signage back up in the park to inform people that trail bikes are not allowed. He was told that it was not an issue for Council and instead he should call police. This response was seen as an inappropriate and unacceptable one. His belief is that the Councillor should listen to the residents about their concerns and then should follow them up. If they are not Council issues, they can still forward the information to the correct area or give the resident the details so they can do it themselves.

Being a Councillor does not end on election day (his words, not mine) and his belief was that this Councillor was highly visible prior to being elected, but faded from view immediately after. According to him, it's likely that the Councillor will come back in the public eye shortly, to prepare for the next election, but for him at least, it's too little too late.

Interestingly, he was the only resident who knew the name of the Councillor so it appears she is becoming known for all the wrong reasons.

Another week, another street. The messages from this week? Simple really, advertise properly if you are holding an event or an activity that is available to all and is low or no cost to residents so that they can utilise them. Also, if you visit a park or a facility in any area, clean up after yourself. Lastly, if something is bugging you about the street you live in, the suburb you live in or the region you live in, write a letter to the Editor, make a phone call and kick up a bit of a fuss. Nothing is ever achieved when we all stew quietly. Get loud!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tis the Season

Yesterday I went shopping to Stockland Earlville. No really amazing information for you all in that. What I saw when I wandered through the centre (well, as much as you can actually 'wander' with two small children in tow anyway) was mind boggling.

It appears that it's Christmas time already folks, the decorations are out, Christmas trees are erected, Santa's chair is ready to go and toys are literally EVERYWHERE! I found some truly amazing things along the way too. A large chocolate Santa (for those who would like to combine Christmas with Easter), a big envelope made of red felt that said 'Letters to Santa' on the front (for those who need a carry bag to get a letter from home to the Post Office) and tiny little elf costumes made of polyester (for those who wish to find out how long it takes a baby to pass out from heat exhaustion on Christmas Day in the tropics).

Everything in every store is on sale just waiting for you to get excited about the price, even if you don't really need the product. Layby queue's are long, filled with mothers trying to attack the huge layby totals with gusto so that they can actually feed the family at Christmas time, as well as watch the kids open 60 perfectly wrapped things they never knew they wanted. Some stores are even offering interest free loans for jewellery, camping equipment and toys. This practice encourages those who really can't afford it, to buy up big and spend the next two years paying for one days entertainment. I guess they don't call it the silly season for nothing!

At this point you are probably wondering if I am some sort of Scrooge who hates Christmas and all that it entails. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am Christmas obsessed. I decorate my house, my lounge room, line up at the mid year toy sales for hours on end, get my children to write letters to Santa and generally spend all year on the look out for the perfect gifts for family and friends. I ask everyone who wants to buy me a gift to get me vouchers that I can use on Boxing Day because nothing pleases me more than the throngs of people pushing and shoving each other to get to the last 70% off item in the store. I love it. All of it. It's people like me who are attracted to all of those bizarre Christmas gimmicks and this is the reason I dislike them so much. Stick the 'sucker' label on me and call me foolish but I came home with yet another layby and a bag full of knick knacks that have no purpose except to please my eye on Christmas Day.

My favourite part of Christmas though, is the giving. My children have a large extended family so they really don't require a whole lot from us. Unfortunately there are plenty of children who do not have the luxuries we do and will miss out on the spectacle that is a Christmas with all the trimmings. These kids will wake on Christmas Day with all of the same excitement but without the bonuses of knowing that Santa got you what you wanted, or that the house will soon fill with people bearing gifts and plates of food for everyone to share.

You can't love Christmas without wishing that these kids could have a chunk of the fun bits that my kids will have. Thankfully, there are numerous charities with hands outstretched, who will help give as many kids as possible just a small taste of a carefree, joyous Christmas Day. The Salvation Army does this job brilliantly, the Mayors Christmas Cheer Appeal is a easy one for most of us to support if you attend the Carol night because there you can help to fill the coffers. The K-Mart and Target trees are right in front of us. It's not too hard to add a gift to the already huge layby's, wrap it up and put it under the trees. Get the kids to do it, teach them that Christmas is not the same for everyone and they should be very grateful for the merriment they experience every year.

There are many, many more ways to help out at this time of year. Even the donation of time is something that will be appreciated by anyone who needs it. So next time you wander through the shops looking for Christmas delights, have a little think about how you can add some luxury to the season for those who can't afford to add it themselves. It's Christmas time, give a little (or a lot), it's what the season is all about.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Awareness Overload!!

Every month in Australia we are bombarded with days of awareness or weeks of awareness, or both, and November is no different. This month so far we have had Autism Awareness Day, Legacy Week, Grandparents Day and the entire month of Movember. This week we will have Remembrance Day on the 11th of the 11th at 11a.m. And that's all in the first two weeks of the month.

What I was wondering about all of these special days is the relevance to the majority and whether or not people are even noticing them, celebrating the day or are they simply ignoring them all? Should we just concentrate on the major holidays and forget all of these extra little blimps in the year or are they worth keeping?

Let me concentrate on just the ones mentioned above. Autism Awareness Day. Is it relevant to the majority? Well, according to those in the know, approximately 3 students in each classroom fall under the Autism Spectrum, although the real number is hard to ascertain due to lack of diagnosis and is possibly up to 5. That's in EVERY classroom. On it's own it may not seem like much but if you take that statistic outside the class environment and consider that each classroom holds approximately 25 students (on average), then almost one fifth, or 15-20% of our kids have autistic traits. Now add all of the parents, extended families and siblings to the numbers. These are also affected by the diagnosis and have to adjust many things in their lives to compensate.

All in all, this is an issue that affects large numbers within the population, however those without Autism in the family are not just unfamiliar with the diagnosis but can occasionally be unkind or impatient when confronted by someone who is. This is why Autism Awareness Day is so important. It highlights the need for people to practice understanding, congratulates the parents for their sometimes very difficult job and gives those falling in the spectrum a day to shine.

Grandparents Day is new to us, this year was the first one ever celebrated. I completely forgot until one of our Grandparents reminded me, but hopefully next year I will be ready for it. It's a great opportunity to thank those with such a large influence in our lives for their contribution. There is one group of Grandparents who badly need to be given an extra special thank you, from all of us.

Too many grandparents are forgoing their retirement time, when they should be taking it easy and travelling to places they have always wanted to see but never had the time. Instead, they are becoming full time child care for their grandchildren while their children continue in their chosen careers. The problems with this are many and varied. Isolation, lack of support both emotionally and financially and exhaustion are just a few of the issues facing these exceedingly generous individuals. Ask them if they would like to stop however, and plenty would say no. They enjoy the contact with their grandkids, love having purpose to their day and feel valued and needed.

They do miss out on a lot though. The isolation is perhaps the hardest part and several new organisations such as the Grandparents Support Group are working hard to change that. Working in similar ways to a mother's group or Playgroup, they are encouraging interaction and involvement between others in similar situations and this is an essential process for which those facilitating should be rewarded.

There are many Grandparents who are not carers. They are there for guidance, encourage our children to learn better manners, teach us more about our past, pass down recipes and skills and are generally an invaluable asset to the family. For this reason alone they should be acknowledged and celebrated.

Legacy Week and Remembrance Day are different but celebrate a similar portion of the population. Remembering all those who have played their part in keeping our country free and the price they paid for achieving that by taking just one minute out of every year to stand still and think is not even close to feeling like enough, but it's certainly not a hardship. Having a week to re-invigorate the community spirit and encourage donations, while highlighting the essential work that Legacy do is also no hardship and a fantastic cause. Legacy works tirelessly to support those left behind in every way possible and their good work is attributed to saving lives, houses and families every single year.

These days and weeks should never be underestimated or disregarded.They are both of vital importance to our past, our present and our future.

Lastly, we have Movember, an entire month dedicated to smooth faced gentlemen and the quest to grow the most atrocious hairy specimen located on the upper lip. The contest is fierce, the cash flow it generates is large and the's mental and physical health. Most specifically depression and prostate cancer. Two of the biggest killers of men and the easiest to diagnose and treat. Men have ignored these two illnesses for far too long and the awareness and resources that this initiative bring to the cause are unparalleled and appear to be working.

Women have turned the world pink for breast cancer, now basketball players and cricketers are sporting pink outfits for the cause and men have encouraged this. Women need to encourage their partners participation in Movember, or if the prospect of your mate wearing a hairy caterpillar on his face is too much for you......spend up big instead and donate to the cause.

So, another day....probably another Awareness Day. Are they important? Yes they are. Should we keep them? Yes we should. They are all significant in their own right and deserve our attention, but now it's time to stop. It's enough thinking required, enough donations, enough diary obligations. Take it from me....we are aware!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Barramulla Close ~ Walking the Streets

Hello all and welcome to the next instalment in my 'walk the street' initiative. This week I chose a street close to the middle of the area I walk simply because I drive past it every day but have never ventured down that way before. It is off Ravizza Drive roundabout on the left side of Logimier Rd where there is a very small but compact group of houses surrounded by the obligatory 6ft fence.

The number one thing you will notice in this area is the size of the blocks. They are absolutely tiny, filled with house and you can almost reach over the fence and touch your neighbours walls. Backyards are apparently unnecessary and provided you can fit in the clothes line that's all the space you should ever need. 'The neighbours are lovely though', I was told by many, they probably all get along well because they are forced to due to the close proximity to each other. This street is definitely in a funny little pocket of the world, sandwiched between the creek and a huge cane farm they are sort of isolated from the rest of the suburb but link two suburbs together so they are really smack bang in the middle of it all.

While this street is fairly small, I still didn't get a huge amount of people at home so in this instance I will focus on just one issue as it came up in every home.

The usual responses were gathered........Cultural Precinct, too expensive (although this time around they were not as dismissive of the project so perhaps the advertising is working). Sugarworld, hurry up and open it up. Councillor, who?

One thing they are all in agreement over is the road outside their back fence. This is Logimier Road. It runs from the roundabout towards the new Coles shopping centre but abruptly stops about 300 metres from Walker Road. This means that if these residents want to visit Coles for groceries, they can see it from their homes, but can't get there unless they go backwards all the way to Mill Road roundabout and up to the back of Edmonton. The long way round is very frustrating for those living here as they are so close, but must travel so far to get there.

The road is also used by hoons who travel along to the end, then hit the dirt track at speed, doing beautiful doughnuts and flying along to the end of the proposed road, mostly late at night.

The completion of this road is part of the Edmonton Town Centre plan. When built, one side will be the Town Centre, the other will run alongside the Leisure Centre. At this point in time, the Leisure Centre is earmarked for building in mid 2011 and the Town Centre still has no dates for a start. If the Leisure Centre goes up first then these residents will feel even more isolated, as it will back onto their street, yet they will not be able to access it without travelling all the way around.

I have no idea how difficult it would be to take the road off the Edmonton Town Centre plans and make it a stand alone project, building it immediately. This road is straight, short and a much better access to the back of Edmonton for not just this street, but the entire of Bentley Park.

The residents of Ravizza Drive are living in permanent fear that someone will plough through their front yard. It's a windy, long Drive that was never intended to be the access between the suburbs but is used for that purpose every day, by hundreds of vehicles. They have put in traffic calming measures, reduced the speed limit to 50, added mirrors, put in raised dots on the corners so you can feel your car crossing the line and they do regular police blitzes. All in a effort to reduce the risk.

Completing Logimier Road will not stop all traffic on Ravizza. Those wishing to access the highway or Piccone's will still travel this way. If the destination is Sugarworld, Coles, Isabella School, The Leisure Centre, GP Super Clinic, Edmonton Town Centre, SES, Domino's Pizza, Chemist or anything else near Walker Road, Logimier Road will be the safest, quickest and easiest route to those destinations.

Personally, I travel down Ravizza Drive approximately 6 times a day. With Logimier Road there I would reduce this to 2.

It's worth a re-think at the very least.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Ever find yourself wondering when Cairns will start looking outside the box and become the leader instead of the follower? I do. I often wonder when we will start actively searching for ways to diversify our economy and if we will ever be able to step out of the shadow of Townsville and count ourselves as the something.

We have so much to offer the world that we are not showcasing. Outrageously good at the Arts, some truly spectacular sports people and some of the best minds in the country. Finally, I can see the light at the end of the Tourism tunnel.

The Cultural Precinct is going to provide an astounding array of opportunities to our entire region. A museum, performance spaces both big and small, usable outdoor facilities and some great food make it ideal for singles, couples, families of all ages to flock to and marvel at our local creative endeavours. The population of the area isn't yet convinced, the cost is quite large (although our contribution is minimal) and plenty still think of the arts in terms of plays and ballet, forgetting entirely about the comedy shows, the Eisteddfods, the awards night, the bands and the children's performances. The reality is that the arts community is not a minority and this venue will house an extremely diverse range of events making it essential to the growth of our region.

Last week an announcement was made regarding the upcoming Adventure Sport event. Again, this fills a niche that has been left gaping for some time now. We have long been recognised for our extreme sports facilities but without any competition, very little marketing has come from them being seen as tourist attractions. This large event will bring world attention to this area, athletes from all over the world will congregate here for the entire showcase and the benefits will be huge. The best part is that we have some of the athletes who will take part right here on our doorstop and this will give them the opportunity to show the world what they are capable of while beaming with pride at the facilities that they helped create.

The final void is now at the early stages of being filled. The Tropical Innovation Awards are currently under-way with over 40 projects being considered for the top prize. These are sourced locally, are well worth a look and with the help of this initiative will gain the prominence required to get them operational in terms of production and marketing. Design and ideas sourced locally, potentially the manufacturing and marketing also garnered locally, this project is one that needs to be followed through to the end and repeated over and over again. I went online to the Tropical Innovation Awards site to vote in the People's Choice Awards and was frankly astounded at the choices and the quality of the entrants. I urge you all to vote yourselves as there is a certain number required to keep this project going. I will tell you that I voted for the solar panels on the telephone poles but it was a tough choice as I also quite liked the banana blankie and the shower device.

Finally, the niche's, the gaps and the voids are being filled. Finally the Council is taking notice of the effects that putting all of your eggs in one basket can have. Finally, the locals and their strengths are being catered to. Finally, it is being left up to us to market ourselves. It's about bloody time!!