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It’s all happening……….

The fall-out over the sudden collapse of the South Australian  Construction/ Engineering company,  York Civil, continues with sub-contractors owed hundreds of thousands of dollars and projects in Adelaide, Western Australia and New South Wales now under threat. I was not being facetious the other day when I said that staff arrived at work on Monday morning and by lunch had all their things in cardboard boxes and were heading out the door – that is exactly how it happened. By  Monday evening there was some hope – by Tuesday it was gone and the company ceased trading. In the last few months we have lost two Engineering Companies here – Stassi Engineering and Ottaway Engineering, which is not helping. However, York Civil was not involved in any projects here. I thought the big City Council / GFG Alliance Joint Announcement was yesterday but I was wrong -it is today (Wednesday) The reason for today is that the

My Almond Tree in Blossom

State Premier, Steven Marshall, will be here today.

During my Adelaide trip Yogi went home.  Jim’s son came and collected him. We don’t mind looking after Yogi – he is no trouble and he and Benji get on well.  Jim is not allowed to drive and Fay is looking after him, so I have become the taxi driver for the Coffee Ladies ( well,  three ) until further notice. Jim’s son will be going home to Western Australia to his own family  today.  I have spent the last two days organising people for the  RFDS Stand at the Show this weekend. We have one and a half days to be on duty and I have managed to get everyone organised and ready to go. I will be there on Saturday covering two shifts from 1pm to 8pm and close. It’s really an information only stand. We can have donation tins and we can run a raffle but we are not allowed to sell anything. Still it should be an interesting day and a half and I would like to think that we get to talk to a lot of interesting – and interested – people. I spoke to the chairman of the Men’s Shed and they were offered a stand at the show, but couldn’t get any volunteers to help run it — which I thought was sad.

1st Announcement: The Premier has just announced that the State Government will commit $100 million to the building of a new 7

Lovely Day

-12 High School to replace the three  current, and declining  High Schools. The Senior High School, was a 1960s style school and it showed it. The students did not like it, mainly because  it was quite depressing and its facilities were old and worn.  The labor government did an assessment of the school and suggested that it was too big for the number of students, so they wanted two wings closed down and classes merged – and – they would no longer pay for the cleaning of these areas. Three teachers refused to move because of the disruption it would cause their students. They were told by admin. that their classrooms would no longer be cleaned. Fine!! The three “rebels”bought a decent  Hoover between them and undertook to clean the classrooms themselves. Their students decided that they would help out so some came in early to help their teachers clean up. Recently the School has spent a lot of money trying to brighten up the place. It’s not too bad looking now, but it’s still tired.

2nd Announcement: British Billionaire owner of GFG Alliance has announced the launching of a $1Billion energy program, the first phase of which will begin outside of Whyalla in early 2019. This will be a 280 Megawatt Solar Power Station capable of powering 100,000 homes and the larger part of the needs of the GFG Alliance Steel Plant. Initial creation of 350 new jobs.  The company said the 600 gigawatt hours of generation per year was enough to power 96,000 average homes, with its 780,000 solar panels spread across 11 square kilometres, an area 550 times larger than Adelaide Oval. It would offset 492,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.

Before the rain came today.

3rd Announcement: GFG Alliance will supply the steel for the construction of the  165 metre  Jetty. The Jetty was damaged in a storm surge over a year ago and has been out of commission since.  A public debate was held and suggestions made for the shape and size of the new jetty and the final plans will now go out for tender. Once approval is granted, the Council, State Government and GFG Alliance will each contribute to the funding of the project. Again, the creation of new employment

There were a few  minor announcements but these were the main three, so it is possible that things will start to look up and  I hope this will start to rebuild the confidence since it is now certain that the major players, the State Government and GFG Alliance have illustrated their commitment to the future of the area.

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Wednesday

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And the winner is……………………………….

It’s coming soon.

I left home on Friday morning, it was quiet, no rain, no wind and the sun was showing its good side. For most of the day the weather  was good for a winter day and I had a fairly enjoyable trip down until I reached the city, that is. I had programmed the GPS to take me out to Adelaide Airport and the RFDS Base. Never having been to that end of town before I had to rely on the GPS – bad mistake. It took me the best part of an hour and a half to get to the Airport as the GPS led me into just about every street in the entire  side of the city. “Take the second turning on the left” or words of a similar nature are words that I came to hate. Speaking to friends later I was told that I was  in roads that I should have been no where near. However, I did arrive at Adelaide Airport only to discover that the RFDS Base is not there any more. It has moved to a new area. After being told where the new Base is I set off again, with similar results. I finally gave up and pulled into Harbour Town. I telephoned the Base from the car-park and was told that I was only minutes away and that the base was in the Airport grounds behind Harbour Town. Three minutes later, and after instructions from Lindy & Mary  (RFDS Staff) I was at the Base. I wasn’t lost, you understand – I do not get lost, although from time to time I do become “Geographically Misplaced”  I collected all things that I needed to collect and made my way back out. Tapley’s Hill Road, took me to Sir Donald Bradman Drive, which I knew would take me directly to town and less than 20 minutes later I was in town and heading out to North Adelaide. Not my best day and by now it was raining. After a coffee in my hotel, I decided to  go into town. By this time the rain was pretty heavy so I gave that a miss. I never got half the things I wanted to do. By the time the Conference finished on Saturday, It was chucking it down , so I decided to go home rather than go shopping. Driving out of town was an illustration of what I have been saying to you – the further north I drove the less rain. By Snowtown (150 klm North) the sky was blue and the clouds were white rather than gray. A few spots at the Port and that was about it.

In the last two years I have lost a number of people that I did not expect to lose. I felt all was well, but they just stopped writing – well at least to this page, I still see them on other pages. In the last two months a further two have left and I can’t help wondering who will be next. So, I am considering what I do from here.

Not a lot happens up here. At the moment we are like a potato – everything that is really good is underground – waiting. I would not go so far to say that our glory days are over and that we

Well, are we :o) ?

just go quietly into the night, but there are promises and we live on promises – many of which remain unfulfilled. The  buying of Arrium;  the company brought from the brink of death by Mr. Gupta and the GFG Alliance. Lots of promises, lots of plans, but not really a lot on the ground. Impatience?? Perhaps but it has been a year this month since Arrium  was bought and whilst there is some returning confidence, it’s not as much as was expected.  Some things will have to change, no doubt about that and at the moment we have no real idea of what these changes might be. We look outward and see that one of the largest construction companies, involved in multi-million government projects, has collapsed and closed its doors,  and many people came to work on Monday  morning and by Monday lunchtime, had put their personal belongings into boxes and were out the door for good. It was that fast. That could have happened to us, but it didn’t. Theirs was a sudden shock, ours was a long, slow, painful decline and we are still to raise ourselves up from that.  There is supposed to be a “Big Announcement” today by Mr. Gupta and GFG Alliance, with Mr. Gupta here in town. So we will see what that brings.

 

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And they call the wind — Annoying.

Thursday and the  heavy  winds came and with the winds came  a health warning that the heavy winds – gusting at around 60kph, – coupled with the dry conditions, are likely to create dust storms. The Health Dept. issued a warning that people with asthma or breathing difficulties are strongly advised to stay inside until the wind storms have passed. The Chief Medical Officer

Dust Storm on the Eyre Peninsula – 250 klms long.
*photograph: Tim Phillips*

was featured on the news explaining the problems of dust storms for people with any breathing concerns. The high winds continued throughout the day and in some parts of the State, gusting at 100+kph. The wind continued  into the night and was followed by  heavy rain.  The dust storms were pretty heavy and covered an area of 250 klms. We did get some but nowhere near as much as the lower peninsula.   It is now am Friday and I have been awake for much of the night. The rain stopped at 4:15 then started again  at 04:50. I am not certain but I think this just might have broken the drought  at least in South Australia.  The worst of the drought was inter-state in New South Wales, so I hope that the rain bands are moving in that direction.  As far as I am aware, more rain is on the way. The seriousness of the drought has caused a backlash against the government – particularly the Foreign Affairs Minister, Julie Bishop. Our farmers are struggling, there is no feed for stock, sheep and cattle are dying in the thousands and Julie Bishop announces – with a smile – that the Federal Government have donated $68 Million to assist farmers in Vietnam and another $20 million to Indonesian farmers but it

seems there is not enough in the Federal Purse to assist drought stricken Australian farmers. It’s a worry…

It is now 05:55 and the rain has stopped. I hope that’s it for the morning and I can get out with Benji. We didn’t get out last night – not

Benji at the Port.

even for a short walk. Well,  we did get out for our walk at 07:20. The rain had gone and the heavy wind had gone. Still a bit of a breeze – and cold with it – but the major wind had died away. A temporary respite before it started again.

Finally staggered into bed at 23:30 and went out like a light. I didn’t set the alarm so it was 06:45 before I said good morning to the world.  I pottered about much of the morning trying to tidy up before the forecast wind started again. I took  Benji for a walk around the Wetlands. It was quiet and I was fortunate to have a chat with the manager of the new Kiosk. She said that it’s progressing but slower than she would like, but she should, all being well, open in September. Just a mere three weeks away.      The wind has started up again so I’ve given up trying to clear up leaves that just keep  being blown about. Ah, only 24 days until Spring.

Benji & Yogi out together

Yogi came this afternoon (Saturday) and will be here at least until next  Friday. If not Annabell will have one night of looking after both as I head off to the quarterly conference. Fortunately this one is in North Adelaide, so I will only be gone overnight, plus driving down and back. I have been asked to go out to the RFDS Main base at Adelaide Airport to collect some merchandise  that needs to come up here. I was going to Adelaide, so I’ll end up out there. Oh well, didn’t want to go shopping anyway. Despite what we thought the rain was not nearly enough to break the drought, and there is talk that the Goyder Line could be moving more to the south, which will have the effect of a good chunk of the state being dropped back to the “Marginal Lands”designation, which is a worry. Adelaide is being rained on and subject to strong winds. There is even talk about flooding. So very different from up here.  I think that is part of the problem. It rains a fair bit in Adelaide so they really have no idea what’s like to have no rain up in the farming areas.  Many Adelaide people  have no idea what happens in the 85% of South Australia beyond Adelaide, which in usually the norm for country sv.  city. With us it’s a bit more extreme  since we have a state bigger than Texas and only really one city.

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Wednesday

I know people who have this condition and I do myself from time to time

4 Comments

Things fall apart

A post on the colour, spectacle and excitement of Dragon Boat racing caused me to reflect on how things are, were, and have been here in the North of the State. We are an area beyond the historic Goyder’s Line. What’s the Goyder Line, you may ask?  George Goyder was the Surveyor-General of South Australia. Goyder spent years on horseback surveying South Australia and devised a demarcation line which separated land which was safe for agriculture,  which received good rains to sustain  crops,  and land which was not, did not have rain to sustain agriculture  but was adequate for light

The Goyder Line

grazing. This  is the Goyder Line. By the late 1860s with agricultural land being scarce , the South Australian Government ignored the findings of the Surveyor-General and sold the land north. After all everyone knows that  “Rain follows the Plow” For a few seasons the rains were good and crops grew in abundance and Goyder was ridiculed. The crops, ripe for harvest, swaying in the gentle breeze, looked like fields of gold and someone termed the phrase “The Golden North” a  name that survives today in  a few popular dairy products. By the mid 1880s the rains failed, drought came, winds came and the area became a dust bowl (Think Oklahoma), farmers lost everything and most just simply walked off their land. You will recall that I generally say that rain passes below us and where there are storms, we get a sideswip, that’s because the bottom of the Peninsula is within the Goyder Line, the top is not. I know, what has this got to do with colour, excitement and Dragon Boats? Well, simply a question was asked “How was your weekend?” Had I been asked that question  20 years ago, my answer would not have been what it was. A mere 20 years ago and this place was a hive of activity, social clubs, sport, fairs of various kinds – the second largest being the Food and Wine Fair, the largest being the Annual City Fair (Whyalla Show) the Christmas Pageant, the After Pageant Fair/ the Easter Parade / Australia Day.  On a good warm day it was nice to go to the foreshore, have an ice-cream and watch the  wind surfers.  Or you could have a game of backyard cricket with the neighbours. In the evening you could go to live music at one of the many  clubs – which club depended on who you were / Club Italico / The Croatia Club / The German Club/’The St. Andrew’s Society/ The Philippine Club / The Caledonia Club/  the Left Hand Club / The Irish Club/  there could be local up and coming talent or a singer or group from the Old Country. There was also live music at one or other of the hotels. The Sundowner Hotel was the place to be for the older youth – they  featured rock bands – local, Adelaide, or inter-state. Every year there was “The Battle of the Bands”where rock bands from all over SA gathered in town to play and compete for a prize  –  I’m not sure  what the winners got but I think it was substantial.

This is so true.

In the Golden North, in the 1880s  rains failed and the seasons changed.  Here, in the 1980s the  the recessions came and the culture changed. People lost jobs and having lost their jobs sold up and left town. Houses took a long time to sell as there were just no buyers. The clubs began to close, shops closed creating more unemployment. A lot of things happened, not much of them good and the confidence just went out of the town. None of the clubs survived. Club Italico is kept open by a few old men who go there to play cards and the reason they do that is so that they can show that the club is still used and they can retain the license. All of the others have gone. We have tried various things and ideas over the last few years and some worked for a couple of years then died. Well,  I don’t dwell on the past,  although this post might seem like it. We weren’t always boring and once upon a time, we did have a very active social life in a very active town. Now,  it’s just me and the dog – and that’s fine- although I have to say that the continual wind in this new climate is depressing at times.

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Wednesday

Sad – but true!