Maria mecca ...
A popular ramp ...
Trailers and car ...
Anne and Charles ...
And so that time of the year has come and gone. Without warning, the tranquil seascape of Orford transforms into a cacophony of seriously-seeking sun, city slickers. They come with water-bikes, motor-bikes, family pets, huge trailer boats, noisy exhausts, cashed-up brats and attitude.
Easier for local residents to stay indoors, sleep with ear-plugs for daylight-saving was designed for fun-seekers to eke out the out-doors from dawn to dusk ... and at Orford this Christmas-New Year there seemed to be more than ever before. Maybe its the new-gen. Dear old grand-dad has passed on and passed on his wealth to the Z gen and the jingling continuum in the cash-registers of local shops and coffee-spots is the only music that matters in a town that runs on empty in the off-season.
This writer had retired Lil’Red, his small boat until the frenetic 2016 Orford festive season passed into Autumn 2017, for there’s no place in a milieu of pace out there on the water for little boats, conservatism and courtesy when its been invaded by city-slicker Charlie Uncle Tango’s. Amazingly the Christmas message has manifest from love-thy to harass-thy neighbour.
Everybody’s having fun ... except the residents, the ratepayer, that is ... and the local Orford-Triabunna constabulary where numbers are short and the challenges of keeping the peace are proportionate to the tsunami of humanity that sweeps the coastline of this very popular resort that most locals hate being called a resort.
At this time of the year it raises the paradox of local government make-up. Local government, council, that is, the first tier of government is a misnomer, in need of a paradigm PR shift. It really should be referred to as the Corporate PR wing of the local chambers of commerce, for most councillors have vested interests in businesses here.
But it ain’t just me. There are others who want stuff done. Gate-front banter with passing neighbours reveals a consensus that this indeed is the worst-ever year of the aforementioned C-word demographic. And it’s only a matter of time before all this ignorance and pace and haste and frenetic-funning turns into a tragedy. So many little tackers on footpaths, blocked by cars and boats and trailers. So few thoughtless drivers. So many frustrated, even angry, even fearful residents.
Well, that’s the message I got from my son, who had arrived with my other son and family from interstate who just have to return to Tassie and its ambience for a few weeks every year. But things have changed a bit since they left to pursue mainland careers.
“It’s a bit like a Melbourne boat-ramp around the road, dad.” He then anecdoted a conversation he had with a couple with a shack near the recently upgraded East Shelly boat ramp and jetty.
“I told them that you’re a retired journo and they wondered if you’d talk to them?”
Yeah well, thanks for that, what is it about retired you don’t understand son?
Anne and Charles have been using their little waterfront shack since 1928 and have seen and enjoyed the boating fraternity come and grow with the seasons ... but this is the worst.
Charles has minor strokes and needs urgent medical attention. That means ambulances.
“Take a look, the ambulance won’t be able to get in.” Anne is pragmatic, she walks to her top gate and it’s blocked by a car and boat trailer. The owner is ‘out there somewhere’ hoiking flathead or hauling cray-pots. Just too bad if Charles has a stroke and the stress of what he has to contend with might just give him one. A cursory reccie and a few snap-shots tell the story and I count almost 50 cars and trailer-boats occupying nature-strips all about. One nearby neighbour had planted trees and indignant boaties ‘just cut them down’.
Anne rang mayor Mike Kent and asked if he might help them out with no-parking signs, but Mike had a better answer; just hang a rope on a piece of string. Put a note on their windscreen.
But Anne had already done that. “They just throw them into my yard”. She doesn’t want to be seen as a grumbler, but there’s lots to justify a grumble.
Residents are fed up with the arrogance and the lack of consideration by council and boaties. Depending on the tides, resident-torment begins at first-light with lights on high beam hitting sleeping windows; the growl of tractors and cars at the ramp; the high-revving of boat engines, the barking of launch-commands and it goes well beyond last light.
“It goes on till eleven pm.”
Anne’s tenor is not indignant. She understands the community spirit of family-boating, fishing and funning. But enough is enough and she looks upon my visit to her as a piece of serendipity. She also studied journalism at a university and knows that sometimes when the ears of the elected are deafened by cash-register music, there’s something to turn to ... the Fourth Estate. And it is my personal view, after three decades of living in Paradise, this council does capitulate to the big bass drum of progress, progress, progress. But more than that, there are whisperings of bullying towards those who might, in the interests of the electors, question the direction of that progress.
And so as I leave this ageing couple, whose paradise has turned belly-up, now thankful that at least somebody wants to hear, a big tractor growls past to the East Shelly congested launching ramp, black fumes belching from its exhaust. I check my notebook to make sure I have noted what she had to say about that: “It’s the fumes. They come into the house. The tractor diesel-fumes are the worst.”
I look back as I leave and she gives me a smile. She is grateful that somebody took time to listen.
All about *Paul Tapp A national service Vietnam veteran, Paul won a ‘re-training’ grant for a cadetship with The Examiner. He was the first broadcast journalist (ABC) to win the State’s major award before moving on to Adelaide, and worked as a Press Secretary in Darwin, returning to journalism in Hobart after the police shooting of fellow veteran Joe Gilewicz in 1991. A subsequent book on Gilewicz became central to a truncated Commission of Inquiry. Tapp more recently filed investigative pieces on the Tasmanian Times, resulting in a coronial inquest into Lucille Butterworth…and a short time in custody. In retirement he continues to probe and contribute to the pages of the Tasmanian Times. He self-publishes his books online and enjoys sales in Australia, the UK and USA. A third book on Gilewicz, “Disquiet Continuum” is nearing completion as is his book on the continuing mystery of Lucille Butteworth.