The Say

By Cagerattler

A few weeks ago I was talking to a person who was for a time quite heavily involved in the St Marys Streetscape. He was concerned that the Streetscape may well be delayed further. I hope that this doesn’t mean that it will NEVER happen – that would be a terrible thing. Small towns like ours need to not be forgotten and over the years, not just here of course, but in lots of small communities things get put on the backburner.

The Streetscape goes back quite a way. Without researching dates and so on I’d suggest 15-20 years since the first design plan was done by a dedicated group of locals and a group of young planners from Hobart. The SMACD  (St Marys Association for Community Development) team and the town planners of those days created what most people thought was a plan that would enhance this town as a place where people would not just want to ‘pass through’ but would be a place to “go to” or “stop at”.  Whilst a few improvements have been made here and there, the overall nuts and bolts of the original Streetscape or the more recent Streetscape concepts have not been implemented.

One of the major sticking points for any of it to work is of course  the issues and red tape over car parking. The age old debate over angle or otherwise types of parking cars has to have a direct bearing on whether any street improvement plan can go ahead. I wonder if we could resolve such a sticky issue for the greater good or if in five years’ time we will still be arguing over the same matters and wondering too if any street improvement plan, to make this 156 year old town a more attractive place, will still be under debate.

I also hope that someone from Council would like to fill us in on the current status of the Streetscape – whether it’s scheduled, delayed, scrapped or otherwise… Gee it’d be nice to know wouldn’t it?

One other quick mention…To the idiots who once again dumped their rubbish in the bush rather than putting it in the skip bin or spending a couple of bucks at the tip…SHAME ON YOU.  I can’t believe how stupid and thoughtless you are. I’ve seen two glaring examples of fresh rubbish being dumped around the Mt Nicholas tracks in the past couple of weeks and I hope one day you get caught and fined if you keep doing it.


What do you think ? Rod McGiveron.


Spooky, possums …

The world abounds with stories of the supernatural, but I guess not to the same extent in the context with animals.  Typically, there was a story in Bernard O’Reilly’s books – Cullenbenbong and Green Mountains (ghost story aside, both are fascinating, very exciting, true story reads). Even though both books deal with rural life – Cullenbenbong on the western side of the Blue Mountains in NSW, and Green Mountains in the hinterland of QLD’s Gold Coast – they can be described as pioneer experiences. Experiencing life in virgin settlements and living alongside aboriginals in both places the O’Reillys learnt a lot about the  spirituality and mysteries of different tribes. On the Gold Coast mountain plateau (1,300 m) the O’Reillys had to kill numerous poisonous snakes (Black Mamba, I seem to remember) in order to build a cabin. The best access in their first months was via a steep and dangerous track. They had heard that there had been a murder on this track and it was haunted, then discovered it was true. Their horse, pulling a cart or sulky would baulk at a certain point and refuse to continue. Only by careful coaxing with the driver walking and holding the bridle would the horse go past the haunted spot.

Closer to home, a neighbour here on the east coast told us of an episode at his place many years back where he heard running foot falls and voices, and could put the incident down to a certain aborigine being chased by the “Traps” (police) in Tassie’s early days.

Around four years ago we had to put our 18 year old cat, Minnie, to sleep at the vets. The Vet had asked did we want to collect the body. Consistent with our disregard for cemeteries and monuments etc. and that old Min was in our hearts where it counted, we declined. Some weeks to months later, I was sitting in our lounge room, just near an archway entrance from the hall, and reading something. I noticed our 17 year old dog Mishka arrive from the hall and stop in mid stride just near me, but staring straight ahead.

Then, still staring fixedly ahead she took a couple of  measured steps and went into Point (like a gun dog, muzzle level and stretched forward, tail raised and level) – and commenced a low growl rumbling up from the throat. I said, “What’s the matter old girl”? – realising she was staring at a vision of old Min, because where she was   focusing was where my wife used to have a small rug for old Min’s favourite place right at the end of the settee. As I slowly stood up Mishka barked, and I said “It’s all right old girl, it’s only old Min come to visit”. Instantly, the dog relaxed as the vision must have disappeared. Strange, first feeling when I realised what was happening was a numbing moment of the blood freezing as they say, but shortly after, one of pleasant surprise.

Made me think further on the reverence that people all over the world have for their childhood home. The bond with where they spent their childhood and where they grew up. What made the spirit of the old cat visit? Did I do the wrong thing in not collecting the body and taking it home? I’ve heard bible studying religionists say that such visitations are of the Devil and are brought on by people who delve in mysticism, tarot readings etc. (which I suspect  in part, is true). But we don’t do any of that and I was preoccupied with some reading matter at the time. The dog, not me, was shown the  vision. A few years later, we made sure Princess the other (14 years old) cat and 17 years old Mishka were planted out the back. All our pets, as in heaps of homes, are extended family. Pets get to know their owners as only the owners know them and the bond is strong, is it not?

Don Pike, Four Mile Creek.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor

Response to Tony Story (Vol. 46 No. 12).

Wow, and thank you for your letter. Yes, Dr Story/Storey, is in fact Dr George Fordyce.

The Cottons of Kelvedon, Francis and Anna Maria(Tilney) Cotton, have a private family cemetery on the Kelvedon property; although I have not inspected this  myself (on the to do list) I have been sent pictures.  When Dr Story’s health is in decline, it is noted amongst the Cotton family in their letters. I would be eager to swap notes at some time as I am keen to connect as much early Tasmanian information as possible.

If you have followed this anecdotal account from the start, it may be apparent that I was making private records to gain perspective of my family  history in a  touchy/feely  informal way – but then I got hooked. I’ve followed my family’s early roots from the Buckland, Springbay and Maria Island communities (and still going). Then, this wasn’t enough because although the people were linked everyone  (yep, everyone) was a character – perhaps because of the sparse population.  I became fascinated and passionate with absolutely everyone’s history and the community’s evolvement and ties.

Through historical papers, old newspapers, inquests, court hearings, wills, electoral roles, other historians, family members, personal letters and many hours in the archives,(with an increase in my glasses strength) the addiction started. Some minor events have been edited out for the Valley Voice, however  in my family compilation I have a brief summary of all characters mentioned. I’ve traced the family trees of some to track the inter-familial  junctions, where they had settled, and yes, to find the colourful   characters.

Admittedly I’m no writer – just got the bug now.

I hope you’ll submit your  stories to the Valley Voice as  your ties to the area are closer  than mine.

When the Valley Voice was looking for input I tried to inspire a few people to write but they were either too shy or just unsure; so I bit the bullet and thought if I start hopefully a few more will come forward with more local content. I for one am looking forward to reading more material of that nature  and I hope you will share yours.

Thanx for reading

Lynne Dawes, Seven Mile Beach.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor

Diana Foster’s idea of People Poles (V.V. September 26th) is brilliant!

How about their ‘home’ being on the block on the corner of Groom and Story Street? David Clement had a vision for this site being a memorial/historic sculpture park.  It is ideally suited with the historic cottages still existing on Groom Street.

We have a similar idea as Diana for the three huge aged radia pines on Dalmayne Road.  We have approached BODC about this.  We envisage lopping the trees then cutting sections in the butts and painting murals in each section of the history of Gray: Dalmayne Coal Mine, Gray Post Office, the Gray School, the two churches and Tassie tigers at Thorne’s Marsh.

Removing old historic trees in an  area eliminates hazards and creates tourist attractions as is apparent at Campbell Town, Perth, St Helens etc. Every town has the right to preserve and display its historic identity. Speaking of which, we have another idea – a convict memorial cemetery at the river front by the old jail in Fingal similar to the Convict Cemetery at Glen Dhu, Launceston. Ideas need translating to action so where do we go from here?

Peter and Beverley Rubenach, Gray.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor

What an interesting paper you have; I learnt about Eric Bean, who sounds like he and his wife did a remarkable job. I read a beaut story by Don Pike (my maiden name), saw how C&D Excavations are community minded, laughed at young photos of Out of the Woodwork and with the car photos, was delighted with the piece on the Asylum Seekers, not because they moved but because of the author’s view point and kindness. Good to read about Rita and Ian; David Brewster has a nice way of talking but the teeth business was not a good subject for lunch time eaters! I hate a model or anyone being paid $42  million. The woman who successfully sued re the auto cruise makes the mind boggle oh silly of silliest judgements!!!  I’m grateful for the historical writings and research behind the scenes.

Peggy Bogar, Scamander.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor

Re: Half of all Tasmanians are functionally illiterate and innumerate: VV 12 October 2013

Mr Jensen’s suggestion of moving students into better, larger schools “to afford specialist literacy and numeracy teachers that would benefit all students” does not address any of the root causes of this serious, complex and societal problem.

Firstly, education begins at home long before children commence school. Parents have a responsibility to help their children to learn and grow and function in the world they brought them into. You can have all the specialist

teachers in the world but if that child does not have a home where parents support and assist their learning, as I have seen first hand in my experience as a school executive officer, that child remains illiterate, innumerate and condemned to lifelong poverty, not only financially but mentally, spiritually and emotionally – condemned to a life of “low expectation” that they in turn pass on to their children and their children’s children.

That “the education system in Tasmania has a history of low expectations” is not only a condemnation of the system but a tragic reflection on Tasmanian society as a whole.  Where have these “low expectations” come from and what has created them?

Systems do not create themselves, they are created by people, so successive Tasmanian governments must share the blame as must we, the people who voted for them. Statistics show that Tasmania has the second highest teenage pregnancy rate in Australia – the first being the Northern Territory. Statistics also show that a high    number of children in this state are classified as being disadvantaged – is this a result of “low expectations?”

It is a sad fact that literacy and its teaching all over Australia has suffered from the so called “literacy wars” where states and academics have fought over how literacy

should be taught since the seventies. No national curriculum has meant that standards varied from state to state, impacting both teachers and children.

In 2008 when attending an orientation course at UTAS, I was asked not to answer the simple grammatical questions the facilitator put to the class because she was aware that I had been taught these things and that many of these young men and women who had just finished high school and were entering university did not know the difference between “its” and “it’s”.  A sad indictment indeed.

Literacy is more than learning to read or simply functioning in this world we inhabit – it is the key to learning,  growing, opportunity, understanding, tolerance and compassion, to a world of wonder, innovation, technology and many other things that enrich our lives as a person and a society. It is the key to the future.

Elizabeth Elliott, St Marys.

The Say

By Cagerattler

At last there’s been some announcements concerning the  proposed Hard Rock Mine on ABC radio and in the  newspaper and also the potential for some gold mining up around Mangana I believe. The new coal venture  especially  has the potential to create significant job prospects, has gone through final approvals and scrutiny and is slated to start within the next few months. The gold venture is a little less certain but exciting none the less.

Of course there is the direct issue of planning and implementation of the new mine/s and the people directly employed at that stage and within three years, when Hard Rock hope to be fully operational, but the bigger picture is the spin off to the whole area. Some sceptics seem to think that it might be a fly in/fly out type of operation although no-one from the company or those in the know have suggested  this is the case. Last thing I heard via a local real estate agency radio interview was that housing was being sought for newcomers to the area  to get the mine started and beyond.

How good would it be to see local business, property owners, schools, hospitals and supply and tender’s interests  getting a chance to be part of a long overdue new venture in the area?

It’s also pretty clear that during the due diligence processes of environmental impact, protection for historic sites  etc.  little or any objection came forward which is pretty rare these days so hopefully quite soon the wheels will begin turning on either or both of these developments; maybe a fresh start for locals and newcomers alike and prosperity again to a Valley that has missed out on so much due to a lack of sustainable industry for decades. One day wouldn’t it be awesome to see our young being born,  educated, trained for careers and successfully employed, bringing  up their own families in the area if they so desired – this might be a small step toward that.

What do you think?  Rodney McGiveron.