Information about work, life and play in Regional Australia

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The importance of rocket

Photo: Rocket growing

Anybody who reads this blog on a regular basis will know that I love gardening. Yet I sometimes struggle to keep the garden going.

The reason for this is simple.

Like all of us, and especially those who live in metro areas as I do just at present, time is short. So my family likes me gardening, but only if I pick and present the results to them. That's fine, but i am busy too. So my vegetables die away.

This morning eldest, who is on a bit of a health kick, asked if we had rocket in the garden. I said no. We always used too, but I gave up because I was really the only one who picked and and ate the salad vegetables.

Now eldest daughter has offered to buy the seeds and seedlings if I will plant them. Boy, do I feel chuffed. I only need the smallest encouragement to launch back in.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Opportunities for the professions in Regional Australia - Introduction

Back in October 2006, I put up Practising Law in Regional Australia dealing with the opportunities open to those who wanted to practice law in Regional Australia. At the time, there were opportunities because so many new lawyers were opting to stay in the metro areas.

Two years later the position is just the same. Now the Law Society has put forward proposals to try to redress the situation by, for example, forgiving HECS debt. Legal Eagle alerted me to this in her post Bush lawyers. This includes a link through to the original newspaper story.

The reasons for the current shortage of lawyers in regional Australia as well as other professionals are quite complex, combining structural and cultural reasons. Discussions on the reasons, and I am no exception, generally focus on the nature of the problem. In doing so, we ignore a simple fact, the opportunities open to those who are prepared to move.

Given this, I thought that it was time that I revisited the opportunity side in a series of posts, setting out the reasons why the Regional Australia option is worth considering. I will add later posts to the end of this one as they are completed.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Will Owen's blog - an education in Australian Aboriginal art

Photo: Darby Jampijinpa Ross, "Ngapapkurlangu (Rainwater Dreaming)," 1989.

From time to time on this blog I have featured photos of Australian indigenous art from Will Owen's Aboriginal Art & Culture: an American eye.

I first really became aware of current indigenous art back in the 1970s when I used to browse through a small gallery in the Canberra suburb of Manuka. I was interested because Australian pre-history formed a key part of my honours degree at the University of New England.

Will has a particular focus on remote area art. His blog is a key resource for all those wishing to access this part of the Australian regional experience.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Australian rainfall projections - October to December 2008

The attached map from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology shows the rainfall outlook for the period October to December 2008.

With the exception of the south east corner, the projections are for above average rainfall across the continent.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Need for a new approach to regional development in Australia

I try to avoid overt campaigning or political comment on this blog because it risks detracting from the blog's primary purpose, the promotion of the joy and variety of life outside the metros. However, I now feel obliged to make an exception to this rule.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics population projections suggest a continued drift to the metros. At 30 June 2007, 64% of Australians lived in a capital city. By 2056 this proportion is projected to increase to 67%.

I think that this is absurd. We have many areas of Australia that can not only absorb new people, but need them.

The metro drift has deep historical roots. The process has always been reinforcing. To those that have shall be given.

We need to break this cycle. Yet our capacity to do so seems always limited, condemned to a bitsy, ad hoc approach.

Just at present the current global economic crisis has led to calls for new infrastructure spending, something that I support. However, there is a very real risk that this increased spend will end up dominated by metro needs.

This holds even where spend itself is outside metro areas. An example is coastal highways linking metro centres.

Most people who visit this blog come because they have particular information needs. This means that the number of repeat visitors (the type of people who usually comment) is small. Still, I would be very interested in ideas as to what might be done to turn things round.

I would be especially interested in ideas at local or regional level. What do you need to improve your local situation?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Charles Darwin University offer $2.3 million in scholarships boost elite engineering course

Scholarships valued at more than $100,000 each are on offer to build the infrastructure of the Northern Territory.

A new Bachelor of Engineering Co-operative degree program has been created by Charles Darwin University (CDU) to link with local and national industry, combining paid work with study. The Northern Territory Government Department of Planning and Infrastructure (DPI) is providing $2.3 million to fund up to 20 scholarship places on the new course. The scholarships are valued at up to $117,156 each, with recipients receiving a stipend of $15,000 for each full year of the four and a half year degree course. The remainder of the scholarship award – almost $50,000 for each student – is in the form of paid work placements with the DPI.

Chief Executive Officer of the DPI, Richard Hancock said students would gain practical knowledge and work experience on a range of infrastructure projects to build the Territory.

“These work experience placements will provide students with on-the-job skills and experience, and opportunities to develop close working relationships with professional engineers,” Mr Hancock said.

The scholarship program also will allow students to participate in relevant work placements in both the private and public sectors. CDU’s Head of School of Engineering and Information Technology, Professor Friso De Boer said the quality and structure of the Co-op degree would provide benefits to the NT by supplying more job-ready engineers to the workforce, while the scholarship program would attract and retain the best and the brightest in the Territory.

No application is required. Eligibility for the Co-op degree and DPI scholarships will be assessed on academic merit, with a minimum TER score of 85 for high-school leavers. Eligible candidates will be contacted directly.

Visit the CDU Scholarships website for further information.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

China and Regional Australia 4 - attracting Chinese tourists 3: providing the right information

Photo: Lonely Planet Guide to Shanghai.

Frankly, most Australian regional areas are absolutely hopeless when it comes to selling their own story. This is a pity, for when it comes to both official material and the conventional guide books, most regional areas get squeezed into a few sentences. How can you sell on this basis?

Then if you look at local material, this is also pretty hopeless, a series of disconnected pieces of paper generally focused on attractions in the main regional center. I get so frustrated at this. It is hard to get the story across that we can do better.

To illustrate what I mean, take the mainstream conventional guide book. If we were to apply this to, say, Armidale, we would have the following structure.

The first few pages might deal with general history and geography, the last pages with travellers tips.

The middle section might be broken into two part. The first might deal with Armidale, the second with the surrounds. Both would incorporate maps and photos. All sections would contain references to the area's unique culture.

Hang on, I can hear you say, unique culture? What is unique about Armidale?

Well, to the overseas visitor all of Australia is unique. Further, each area has its own very specific features. We need to point to both.

Once an English language version has been completed, then turn it into Chinese. That way, your visitors have something that will bring their trip back, an aid to memory.

There is a special problem here because many current publications are littered with ads. I can understand this. Most local tourism authorities are short of funds and look for anything that might help defray costs. Yet in most cases the ads both twist content and detract from reader enjoyment. You really need ad free if you are to get best results.

Back to the entry post in this series

Sunday, September 28, 2008

China and Regional Australia 3 - attracting Chinese tourists 2: telling a story

This is part of a Chinese mega store in Shanghai. Click on the image to get a full feel. While the overall footprint is smaller than one of our big malls, the size and crush of people is overwhelming.

If you are going to attract Chinese tourists, any tourists for that matter, you have to be able to tell a story. Many of our regional areas are very bad at this.

Proud of you parks and civic facilities? Forget it. This won't sell. Proud of your shopping centre and the fact that you have good coffee? Forget it. This won't sell.

Each regional area has different features. Each has its own history, its own life style You have to focus on this.

To illustrate what I mean by taking an area that I know especially well.

If I had a Chinese tour party in Armidale, I would focus one day on mining.

On a day trip, I would start by telling them a little of the history of mining in the area, focusing on the hazards and romance including the role played by the Chinese, the old (California) and new (Australia) gold mountains.

Our first stop would be Uralla where I would take them to the museum with its Chinese Joss House, then to Thunderbolt's statue and grave. Plenty of time for photos. Then on to Inverell with its sapphires. After trying fossicking, there would be time to look at and buy sapphires.

From Inverell to Tingha with its Chinese store museum. Tin, the Chinese presence, the old Chinese store that is now a museum. Then back to Armidale.

This is quite a long day trip with plenty of relevant material.

On a second day I would show the romance of wool. This would focus on the establishment of a new order in a strange land, of wealth and privilege, of the way wool helped form elements of the Australian character.

I would start with Booloominbah, the big White town house that now forms the core of the University of New England. I would follow this with a country tour, including a visit to a working sheep property. Lots of animals. And I would again make certain that there were things to buy, plenty of wool products. On the trip, I would (among other things) explain Waltzing Matilda, teaching our guests to sing the song.

This is only a bare sketch, but it illustrates my point.

In terms of other things that our visitors might do, there is of course a tour of the city and its immediate attractions. Then, too, they might need some choice.

This depends in part on what is on in town. If the markets are on, that is one option. Racing would be a second. Beyond that, things are available like a gorge tour, a helicopter flight, a winery visit, a horse ride.

In all this, there is the need to treat the visitors as guests. A welcome by the mayor, the local Chinese community or the University, learning Australian cooking, meeting Australians in their own homes, the list of possibilities is quite extensive.

In all this, we need to remember my opening point, the need to tell a story.

Back to the entry post in this series.

Friday, September 26, 2008

China and Regional Australia 2 - attracting Chinese tourists 1: what do we have to sell?

Photo: Shanghai crowd scene

As I walked through Shanghai, I ached to get some of them back to visit Regional Australia. China is still a poor country measured by average standard of living. However, I would guess that the middle class has now passed 130 million, many of whom can afford to travel.

Our present travel promotion generally has a city bias, or focuses on things that we think are distinct. We do not think of what might be distinct in the minds of our potential visitors.

China is incredibly crowded to those of us used to even big regional centres. Further, the Chinese are used to and even love the crowds. Here a Chinese work friend said that when she first came to Sydney, she missed the crowds and the noise. To her, Sydney was a small city.

The love of crowds does not mean that we cannot attract Chinese visitors to Regional Australia. In fact, the opposite is true. We have the capacity to offer them a unique experience. We may not attract them all, but even half of one per cent is 750,000 extra visitors per annum.

But what does Regional Australia have to offer compared to the metro centres or the big coastal resort areas? Here I can only offer my own experiences in conversation.

The Chinese appear fascinated by our animals, especially koalas and kangaroos. So this is one part of the experience.

Then, too, the Chinese appear fascinated by our primary production. Wool, sheep dogs, properties with size measured in hundreds if not thousands of hectares. This can be romance territory. Even being able to pat a hen!

Given the current problems with contaminated milk in China, our clean food is another attraction.

Then we have life style in a broad sense. Just about everything in Regional Australia is different in life style terms.

In all this, the key point is to focus on and emphasise the differences with China.

Back to the entry post in this series.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The importance of the block buster

This photo by Gordon Smith shows a week's supply of wood used in the lounge room heater. It also shows a blockbuster.

A blockbuster is a an axe with a specially heavy head used to break up blocks of wood.

The key to using a blockbuster is to let the weight of the head do the job for you. Hit the block in the right spot and it will split easily.

Monday, September 22, 2008

China and Regional Australia 1 - introduction

I have been in China, making it difficult to post. I found the trip very interesting not just because of the exposure to China itself, but also because of the way it generated new ideas relevant to my various interests. Yes, China is very different from Regional Australia, but there are also surprising shared interests as well as things that we can learn.

For that reason, I thought that I might do a short series of posts while things are still fresh in my memory. I will use this post as an entry page, adding posts at the bottom as I write them.

Posts in the China and Regional Australia series

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Regional Living Australia - most popular posts 2

This post continues my series on the most popular posts on this blog. This helps me get a feel for what people like. Howver, my present free stats package will only allow me to look at the most recent 100 visits. To help me overcome this, I decided to start a new most popular posts series reporting every two to three weeks. Over time, this should give me a better feel for things that really appeal.

The most popular posts in the last 100 visits have been:

Monday, September 08, 2008

Tree change - how do I know that I will fit in?

One of the most common worries that people have when considering a shift from the metros is simply the question of whether or not they will fit in in their new environment. This is a very real issue.

Last week I was talking to someone who had made the shift then returned to the city after three years in a large regional centre. The move should have worked. His skills were much in demand. However, he was also single, gay and had lived in one part the city all his life. He returned because he missed home and also felt that he did not quite fit in in his new environment.

The question of fit is partly a matter of family or personal need and of personal interests. However, the degree of fit between you and the culture of the new community is also important.

Each area within Regional Australia has its own character and culture determined by its history and geography. This character and culture can vary quite dramatically between areas. Smaller communities also make for higher degrees of personal interaction and visibility- people simply know more about each other than is common in metro areas.

As a general rule of thumb, people who identify with and participate in their new community generally find that the community identifies with them. However, issues of fit can still arise.

The only way of identifying potential problems is to spend some time in the community as a visitor. Read the local newspaper first, most regional papers now have an on-line presence, to get a feel for the community. Then on your visit or visits take the time to check the community out.

Obviously you will want to check out facilities and amenities linked to your interests and needs. But also spend some time listening and dropping in. Just ask questions, get people talking. Listen to conversations in pubs and cafes. If after this you feel comfortable with the community, you can be pretty sure that they will feel comfortable with you.


Pam kindly added this comment.

thought this was a good post Jim. We lived interstate for a time but moved back because we missed old friends, cycling mates, and suprisingly family, because it was one of the reasons we thought a bit of distance might be good. Proved otherwise which made us laugh. It is true that abscence makes the heart grow fonder. Also there is quite a bit of wariness on both sides, of people you don't know and don't know you, so establishing new friendships takes tentative time.Missing very old friendships was the deciding factor in moving back to familiar territory.

I think that Pam's comment captures some of the elements in the tree change process that I was talking about.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Musings on Australian food and wine

I am a real food and wine jag at the moment. We (Australians) are really very lucky in the range of food and wine that we have available to us.

My current obsession started with a function a Sydney University's International House. I reported on this in a post on my personal blog -What would you serve as Australian food? They key point in the post was the failure of Australians to recognise their own Australian food styles. I followed this with two further posts - More ramblings on Australian food and In Praise of Australian food.

I am not a foodie in the conventional sense of the word. Like most of us, I am just too busy and also do not have the money to indulge myself in this way. Generally I eat to live, not live to eat. But I do think that I am missing out in not deliberately exploring some of the food we have available.

Perhaps that's not quite fair. I do try different things, and I certainly try to follow food in Regional Australia. Yet I still seem to get stuck in cooking and eating the things that I always eat, or drink for that matter.

So I have set myself a target. Over the next month or so I am going to try as many different Australian products as I can. Further, I am going to to write down my impressions. Now there is no way that I can eat or drink my way through them all, but it is a start.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Regional Australia Food & Wine - Orange revisited

In December 2006 I carried a post on the growth of Orange in NSW as a food and wine centre -Regional Australia Food & Wine - Orange NSW . I was reminded of this because I met someone at a function who was selling the Orange story. So I thought that I should mention the earlier post again!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Regional Australia - how much does food cost

One of the issues that comes up from time to time is just how much food costs in different parts of Regional Australia. I make this point because food costs vary from area to area depending in part on transport costs. So people who are thinking of leaving the metros know that rents will be cheaper, but also want to know how much more they might have to pay for groceries.

The Australian Government's Grocerychoice site is a useful source here because it provides information on food prices by region.

The first thing that you have to do is to key in your post code or town. Alternatively, you can click on the map. This then gives you prices for baskets of groceries. You can use this to compare food prices between areas.

The site is not perfect, providing information at a broad regional level. However, it is still a useful guide.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Release of Baz Luhrmann's Australia nears

We are coming up to the release of Baz Luhrmann's Australia.I must say that I am looking forward to it.

"Australia" is Baz Luhrmann's first feature film since the 2001 musical success Moulin Rouge!

The film centres on an English aristocrat in the 1930s, played by Nicole Kidman, who comes to northern Australia to sell a cattle property the size of Belgium. After an epic journey across the country with a rough-hewn drover, Hugh Jackman, they are caught in the bombing of Darwin during World War II.

Filming began late April 2007, concluding on December 19th 2007. The film is presently slated for a November 26 2008 release.

For those who are interested, the film's web site has lots of great stills.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Regional Living Australia - most popular posts 1

From time to time I report on the most popular posts on this blog. This helps me get a feel for what people like. Unfortunately, my present free stats package will only allow me to look at the most recent 100 visits.

To help me overcome this, I have decided to start a new most popular posts series reporting every two to three weeks. Over time, this should give me a better feel for things that really appeal.

The most popular posts in the last 100 visits have been:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Barratt Galleries - Alstonville

One of the trends that is adding so much to the depth of life in Regional Australia is the progressive movement of creative people from the metros seeking new life styles who the join with local creative people.

Barratt Galleries is a contemporary art space located in the historic town of Alstonville in the Northern Rivers region of NSW. The region is renowned for the diversity of its local art producers, from the crafts to the contemporary.

Whilst artist/Director Julie Barratt will be showing works from national and international artists, Barratt Galleries is dedicated to showcasing the excellence and diversity of the work of regionally based artists.

Although the gallery has a focus on limited edition prints, works on paper and artists’ books however the solo exhibition space may exhibit works across all media.

Julie Barratt, as a producer of artist books herself, has an affinity for the medium, and seeks interest from producers and collectors of artist books for collection, acquisition, representation and exhibition.

Contact Details

Barratt Galleries is open Wednesday to Sunday from 11am – 4pm. All enquiries should be directed to Julie on 6628 0297 or 0427211882


Address: 5 Bugden Avenue, Alstonville

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Climate change and Australia's coastal vulnerabilities

Like many Australians, I get a little confused with all the discussions about climate change. Again like many Australians, I wonder what it means in general and for me in particular. I also wonder in the discussion what is normal climatic variability, what climate is due to climate change.

In all this, I was struck by a recent suggestion (I cannot find the link) that 270,000 houses in NSW alone were at risk because of projected rises in sea levels.

Australians love of the coast is well known. But is the numbers and time horizons are right, a lot more Australians should now be thinking about the possibility of moving inland. Yes, some inland areas have their own problems with drought. But there are a lot of inland areas that in fact have enough water and reasonable facilities.

Adopting a medium term time horizon, if current prognositications are in any way right, these areas could well experience significant growth as people relocate.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Nostalgia for the sights, sounds and smells of the Australian country

Photo: Hele-hiking in the New England gorges.

In my last post, Have Australians lost their sense of country?, I bemoaned the fact as I saw it that so many metro Australians were losing their sense of country. Thinking about it, perhaps I should say more accurately, losing their familiarity with country.

If so, how would I describe the sights, sounds and smells of the Australian country that people have now lost? Here there is a difficulty because Australia is a very diverse country, so that the sights, sounds and smells actually vary from place to place. However, I can at least indicate some that are important to me, many from childhood when our sense of place is especially formed.

Early morning at our Aunt and Uncle's place. The cow has been brought in for milking. There is the steady squirt splash, squirt splash, squirt splash as the milk squirts into the metal bucket. There are good health reasons for our treated milk. However, the taste of fresh creamy milk is very different from the bottled variety.

Still early morning, same place. We are in the orchard. While the sun is bright and the day will be hot, the night chill is still in the air. We pick the cold crisp apples from the tree and eat them, the juice running down our faces.

Fruit and fruit trees feature in many memories.

There were the trees in our garden and those around. We knew every tree within a ten minute bike ride. There were big old apricots suitable for climbing as well as fruit supply, there was the big mulberry tree in a backyard just down the road, there were plum trees, apple trees and many vine fruits.

We might not eat fruit when given it, but we sure ate a lot of fruit that we collected ourselves, green or otherwise!

Bikes were central to our lives. I was in primary school before I learned to ride one, envious of friends who already had them. We could walk or run long distances and did, but a bike gave much greater freedom. They could also be a challenge for the mechanically incompetent like me. Still, I did learn to put the chain back on and to repair the inevitable punctures.

The hot smell of dust floating in the air in little particles, or kicked up by bike tires. A familiar pleasant smell in small quantities, but sometimes a choking nuisance when thrown up by cars.

I learned to drive on dirt roads and still like them. Speed up if there are corrugations, slow down if there are potholes, but what do you do if there are both?

The ritual of Sunday drives and of family picnics, mostly within a thirty kilometer radius from home. We knew every road, all the swimming spots, every change in the country side.

Armidale lies in the centre of the New England Tablelands. To the east, the water flows down through the gorges to the coast. Just to the west is the divide. From there, the water flows west towards the Darling.

Drive a little west from Armidale, and the country suddenly changes - becomes drier, the vegetation and colours are different. Drive a little east, and the rolling Tablelands are suddenly broken by huge gorges. This is now all national parks country. We picnicked at the various falls and lookouts, explored the mining remains at Hillgrove, clambered down hillsides and valleys.

Turn south and you find the Arding lanes, Uralla and the old mining centre of Rocky River. This was much more English country side, tailored by the European settlers to fit with memories of home.

Once I learned to drive and could borrow the family car, I used to take my university friends out to explore, to show them the changing countryside.

New England was sheep country, fine wool merinos. I still love the feel of wool - thick jumpers, fine wool suits, scarves.

Sheep clothed us and fed us - steak was expensive, lamb and mutton plentiful and cheap. Graziers butchered their own animals for home consumption, something I watched but cannot say I really enjoyed. Often the butchered animals were quite old: people became expert in various ways of cooking mutton.

Sheep strike me as very dumb animals. Trying to move along a flock of skittish lambs can be a challenge! A good sheep dog was highly valued.

We loved wool sheds. They have a very particular smell developed over years. As kids we played in them. Later they were often the venue for parties, with fires burning in 44 gallon drums outside to keep some of the night cold away.

Shearing time was always interesting. Then the sheds came alive with sheep and shearers. The shearers quarters were generally galvanised iron huts - I stayed in a lot of them on camps or while working on archaeological digs, in so doing acquiring a liking for rum toddies as a way of keeping the cold at bay!


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Have Australians lost their sense of country?

This rather wonderful photo by Gordon Smith looking down from Halls Peak is part of what I think of as my personal country.

Scenes like this are imprinted on my memory. However, talking around I get the feeling that metro Australians at least have lost their sense of country.

I do not mean by this that they have lost their sense of their own urban area. Rather, that they no longer know the Australian countryside in the way I do and did.

A year or so back I went to a school function in Sydney. Part of the function was the presentation by different groups of their perception of the outback. To one group, Sydney's Blue Mountains was part of the outback. I blinked.

For the benefit of international readers, the traditional definition of the outback is inland areas far from extensive settlement. Back of Bourke in NSW terms.

The country I grew up in was not outback. The country sounds, feels and images were not outback, far from it. Now it is apparently classified by at least some metro dwellers as outback.

We have always been an urban community. Arguably, Australia was the world's first urban community measured by the proportion of the population living in major urban centres. Still, fifty years ago most Australians had some country connection.

This is no longer true. I find it hard to understand, but it's true that there are Australians who have never experienced the country other than views seen from a car while driving from point A to point B.

I am a townie. I grew up in an urban, indeed academic, community within the country. But I was still imprinted by the sights, sounds and smells of the countryside. As a consequence, my oral and visual language is different from that used by many metro Australians.

I find it sad that so many will never experience the things that I knew.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Pigs will fly - a community development blog

My thanks to the Australian Blog Index for drawing my attention to Pigs will fly, a community development blog and network. This strikes me as a very useful blog for all those interested in regional and community development.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Australian regional tourism - Grafton's failure to maximise visitor experience

In Australian regional tourism - maximising the visitor experience I spoke of the importance of focusing on the visitor experience in building local or regional tourism.

I was sitting beside someone from Grafton at a recent dinner. As it happened, I had just written a post talking about Grafton, Diary of a travelling trainer - day two: Grafton, Sydney. We started talking about the city's history, about its place as a major river port. He had no idea.

Now this links to my point.

As I said in my post on Grafton, the tourism material on Grafton fails to properly draw out the city's riverine and maritime shipping history. This is quite recent: North Coast Steam Navigation Company services finally stopped in 1954. Yet there is little mention of this history. I know the history, yet I had to ask to find out where the steamers docked.

Would people be interested in this history? Yes, they would.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Australian regional tourism - maximising the visitor experience

Recently I have been running a series of training workshops. As part of this, I have spent a fair bit of time in regional centres.

The first thing I do upon arrival at my motel is to look at the local tourism material. What does it tell me about the place? What might I like to see or do?

Frankly, some of the stuff remains very ordinary. For some reason, many of Australia's regional areas remain fixated on the simple attractions (what to see)/events (what's on) classification. Many also are still obsessed with the need to prove that they are as good as somewhere else. Far too few focus on maximising the visitor experience.

The central problem with the attraction/event focus lies in its inward looking, passive focus. You create a descriptive list, relying on that to attract a visitor with a given interest. By contrast, the visitor experience focus looks at what visitors want, how you might deepen and richen their experience.

Two things are central to the visitor experience approach.

The first is to understand what you have. The events/attractions list is a start here, but only a start. Now look at everything in the district or region to try to think what might interest the visitor, not just the more obvious things. Build a list.

The second is to think about things that you might do to add to visitor enjoyment. This may be things like clean toilets. More often, it should be things like more information, something that will tell the visitor a story, give them a context.

One key thing to remember is that the visitor experience approach does not require a grand new strategy. You can start small and build.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fossicking, New England sapphires and the love of discovery

Photo: Australian sapphires

Some Australians like digging round in the dirt, some don't. For those that do, Australia still offers many opportunities just to find that magic nugget or gem stone.

I mention this because the folks from Big Sky Country have put together some material on fossicking in New England, one of Australia's major gem areas.

For details see Fossicking in New England.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Regional Living Australia - visitor interests

Every so often I do a quick check on visitor interests measured by entry pages to this blog.

The leading entry point is Australia's Regional Differences - Melbourne vs Sydney. This post, one of a short series, is (I think) a good post.

On equal first came Australian Wool Fashion Awards - a few photos from 2007. This was followed by John Brack - an Australian Regional Artist.

Then came three posts on equal ranking - Regional Australia - Migration Matters ; Guyra, New England - the birds of Bradley Street; and then the archive for May 2007.

This was followed by a further three equally ranked posts - Getting the Best out of Regional Living - Wagga Wagga case study; Tree Change & the Job Search Process - the story of Katrina and Tom continues; Cloncurry Qld - a new type of solar power.

In all, a fairly varied mix!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

In praise of Rex's country feel

I grew up in the country, townie not land. I really like the country feel - I define this simply as a sense of community.

Recently I have flown on Rex a number of times. I have really enjoyed the service.

One experience captured this. I came into Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport. The same girl was on duty who had been on two weeks before.

We had chatted briefly then. Now she remembered me. That is what I call country service.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Visiting Canberra - driving around, lunch, dinner, Sunday at the National Gallery

Photo: National Gallery, Picture Parade, Asia-Pacific Photos 1840s-1940s.

Loaded with our Murrambateman Ravensworth sangioves, bread, imported cheese plus Ligurian olives, we left Manuka for a drive round the areas of Canberra that we had both known.

As reported in Canberra's changing life style - past and present, I was struck with what I saw as the deterioration in some of the older suburbs. I know that water restrictions have had an impact, but it was more than that. But many of the suburbs we knew so well have become drab and untidy. Still, we did enjoy our drive.

About 3 pm we returned to our hotel room for a picnic - the Ravensworth sangiovese, fresh bread, Barossa fine foods salami, Ligurian olives, Roy de Valles semi hard cheese at $88.11 per kilo, Gorgonzola Piccante at $57.50 per kilo. This was a very expensive picnic, but it was fun.

A sleep, and we were ready to go out for dinner in Kingston. We had wanted to go to La Rustica but this was full. Instead, we got into Figaro on a cancellation.

This proved a good choice. Our waiter was friendly and helpful, able to comment on both food and wine. So we settled down with a bottle of Danzanti Pinot Grigio 2006 from the Venezia region while we made our choices. We chose this wine because youngest was in fact in Venice, but it was rather nice.

I do not have all the notes on our food, I will have to remedy this if I am going to do more posts like this one, but I would put the food at 8 out of 10, the service 10 out of 10.

Home to watch the Tour de France.

Morning and breakfast in the hotel. This was pretty ordinary. Too few Australian hotels can do a decent breakfast, although I admit I have high standards here. Then to the National Gallery.

I love Australia's National Gallery. It's not as big, monumental, as some of the European Galleries. Living in Canberra I was a member and often went there over lunchtime just to wander around.

Now the trees have grown changing the external feel, but internally it's still remarkably compact. We worked our way round, although I would really have liked multiple visits.

After coffee we got on the road, and so to Sydney. It had been a fun trip.

Back to the introductory post in the series.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Visiting Canberra - wandering round Manuka

Breakfast over, Dee and I went for a wander round Manuka just to see what had changed.

I am not a shopping person. I am not a shopping person. My wife and daughters are. Give them a shop and they will enter, even if they cannot afford to buy anything! Still, in this case I went along because I wanted to look at the shops myself.

One advantage that Manuka has over Sydney shopping centres is that the shops are in a self-contained space. This makes it very easy to browse.

We started at the Sheridan shop. I really liked this one because it had so many towels and sheets in one place. I was not in a buying mood, but I do like bright colours. From here we went to the various clothes' shops.

To me, Carla Zampatti is Carla Zampatti, just a name. Still, I was struck here and in other shops with the winter range. Like Melbourne, Canberra's winter climate means that there are clothes that you will not find in Sydney. This I liked.

Still, as a mere male the prices amazed me. Those who have known Manuka from the past will know that Millers of Manuka has been there for a very long while.

Millers used to be a middle of the range store. Not any more. It was sale time, so I looked at some of the labels. There was, for example, a nice Kenzo jacket. This had been discounted so that it was an absolute steal at a price of a just $1,630! I could see why so many of the people in Manuka seemed to be well and expensively dressed.

In all this, my favourite store was the Wine & Cheese Providores.

The wine can be found in the lower level store. I simply cannot afford some of the wines there, but it was nice looking. I was especially interested in the local wines, and here upon recommendation we bought a bottle of Murrambateman Ravensworth sangiovese for $22. I had not tried this grape before, but the wine was highly recommended.

Then we went outside and up the stairs to the cheese section. This is also a cafe. There we bought some bread, imported cheese plus Ligurian olives to go with our our sangiovese for lunch.

Entry post in this series here.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Visiting Canberra - breakfast at Manuka

Because I was using a conventional camera, I still do not have my photos of Manuka back. But I cannot wait for them. So my story of our Canberra visit continues. You will find the introductory post here, including a full post list in this series.

Saturday morning I awoke much refreshed after one of the best sleeps I had had for a long while. We decided to go to Manuka for for breakfast.

In Visiting Canberra - history I set out a little of Canberra's history.

In Canberra's first period, Manuka and Kingston were the city's shopping centres. When I first came to live in Canberra, Manuka became my centre. Here I had my post office box, my bank.

In some ways, Manuka does not exist. There is no suburb called Manuka. It is just the shopping centre in Griffith. Yet Manuka has always had a presence independent of its formal existence. Today it has become Canberra's style centre.

As we drove out from the hotel to go to Manuka, there was a bad sound from the engine. We got over Commonwealth Avenue Bridge. Then, just outside the Treasury building, a dreadful rattle developed. We pushed the car into the Treasury parking lot and called the NRMA.

As we waited, I looked around. I worked in Treasury for thirteen years. I knew this parking lot like the back of my hand.

In Saturday Morning Musings - Australia's old Parliament House I spoke of the area around old Parliament House. Standing with my back to the Treasury building looking round, the scene was very much the same. Finally, the NRMA man arrived, fixed the car, and we got going again.

At first sight, Manuka was both familiar and different. Thetis Court had been roofed in, but The Lawns still seemed the same.

Cafe society, a feature of modern Australia that I greatly like, had clearly arrived in Manuka. In fact, Manuka appears to be Canberra's breakfast capital. Everywhere you looked there were cafes with the ubiquitous outdoor tables and heaters.

We stopped at Zucchero's in The Lawns. This was a mistake.

Big English style breakfasts are very popular, certainly I like them, but they have to be well done. Too many modern establishments cannot do them properly. An overdone fried egg on top of mushrooms and poorly cooked tomatoes with a some limp strips of bacon is not a proper English breakfast. My own efforts are far better than Zucchero's best.

As we ate, I looked around and took notes on the scene and its people. Again there was the same slight sense of dislocation - things were the same, but still different.

Canberra's ethnic mix is different to Sydney, closer to Melbourne.

The strong Asian feel that you get in Sydney was missing. This was a European crowd, but one that reflected the first round of ethnic mixing from the mass migration program after the Second World War. Migrants involved in the building of the Snowy Mountains Scheme or in the construction of Canberra itself settled in Canberra.

At the table next to us, two older European men chatted in Spanish while drinking their coffee. Next to them a man with a somewhat shaggy white beard in a military style outfit - double breasted coat with many buttons, a cap - sat talking to himself while drinking his coffee.

At the risk of upsetting Sydneysiders, the passing parade was far better dressed than you would find in Sydney.

When I commented on this to Denise, she pointed out that Canberra was cold. Sydney is casual, in Canberra you have to wear jumpers and jackets. This led to greater colour and variety in outfits. While Dee was right, I also felt that the Manuka crowd was simply more expensively dressed than you would find in most parts of Sydney.

I will report on the reasons for this in my next post in the series.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Visiting Canberra - arrival

Getting away from Sydney for a weekend is always hard. In this case, we did not start until 6pm. And then there was the traffic. Coming out of Sydney it was almost bumper to bumper. The red rear lights stretched in an almost solid stream for miles.

Part of the traffic was certainly snow traffic. During the snow season thousands of cars and buses leave Sydney for the snow fields. Part, too, was dues to Sydney siders escaping from World Youth Day.

The modern road to Canberra is far faster - around three and a half hours drive time - but also much more boring. Just sit there and stick on the 110 kilometer hours speed limit for much of the journey.

The first real excitement came as we descended onto the shores of Lake George, now dry. This meant that we were almost there.

My wife and I have often been to Canberra in recent years. However, this was the first time that we had come by road and at night. I suppose the thing that struck us most as we drove over the hill and saw the Canberra lights for the first time was the sheer size of the place. The lights just stretched.

We both knew Canberra well, so did not bother with maps. Yet as we came in, we realised that we were not sure how to get to our hotel, the old Hotel Ainslie. We need not have worried. Sheer instinct guided us!

We finally arrived a bit after 9.30. So we had dinner there - Thai - and planned the next day.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Visiting Canberra - history

Photo: Opening of Australia's new Parliament House, May 1927. The pictures and historical material in this post are drawn from the Wikipedia article on the history of Canberra.

For the benefit of international readers, when the Australian colonies came together to form the new Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney meant that neither city could become capital of the new Federation.

Eventually, a compromise was reached: Melbourne would be the capital on a temporary basis while a new capital was built somewhere between Sydney and Melbourne. Section 125 of the new Constitution specified that the capital must be placed in a Commonwealth territory within New South Wales, but at least 100 miles from Sydney.

After an extensive search, a site was chosen in 1908 in the foothills of the Australian Alps some 300 kilometres south east of Sydney. In 1910, the NSW Government formally ceded the area to the Commonwealth of Australia to form the Australian Capital Territory. The following year after an international competition, the American architect Walter Burley Griffin was selected to design the new capital city.

Various names were considered for the new city. Finally, at midday on March 12, 1913, the city to be was was officially given the name Canberra by Lady Denman the wife of the then Governor-General, at a ceremony on Kurrajong Hill (now known as Capital Hill) and building officially commenced.

Neither ministers nor public servants were keen to leave the comfort of Melbourne for the isolation of the new bush capital. While a new Parliament House was opened in May 1927, development of the city remained slow and sporadic, coming to an effective halt during the depression.

Development continued during the war, then accelerated rapidly in the late 1950s and 1960s as the headquarters of various agencies shifted to Canberra. The effect of this can be seen in Canberra's population timeline.

Both my wife and I worked in Canberra. When I first joined the Commonwealth Public Service, the city's population was around 70,000. By the time we left Canberra, it had grown to 250,000. Today it is over 300,000. If the satellite cities and settlements that have grown across the border in NSW such as Queanbeyan and Yass are added in, the population of greater Canberra is now over 400,000.

This growth has had profound effects on the surrounding regions, drawing them into Canberra's growing sphere of economic and social influence.

While we had visited Canberra many times since our departure, this trip we were going as tourists to look at the changes that had taken place through the prism set by our past experiences.


For two somewhat nostalgic views of Canberra's past see:

For the opening post in this series see here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Visiting Canberra - Introduction

Next weekend my wife and I are going to Canberra for a break. We both lived there for many years, so we are really looking forward to it.

We are going to stay at what used to be the Hotel Ainslie, now Olims Canberra Hotel.

I had to laugh when I saw the Olims' site. The Hotel Canberra is the Hotel Canberra. Olims tries to present their site as though it is the Hotel Canberra. It is not!

I will report on the trip as we go.

For posts in this series see:

Monday, July 07, 2008

Climate change and real estate prices in Regional Australia

Thinking about climate change the other day, I wondered what it might mean for real estate prices.

Normally this type of question falls in the what-if category. But as the evidence mounts, we do need to think about questions like this. So here is a test for you!

What part of NSW has above average rainfall, is high enough to avoid problems with mosquito born diseases, and has good infrastructure?

Friday, July 04, 2008

Problems with petrol - and their implications for Regional Australia

In all the discussion about rising petrol prices, rising food prices and climate change, no one appears to have really focused on just what all this means for life in Regional Australia.

Take a simple example.

Much public policy has focused on centralised service delivery, as has commercial activity such as supermarkets. All this assumes that people can travel. But what happens if, as an example, petrol prices reach the point that long distance travel to shop or receive medical care at a centralised location is no longer possible?

My personal view is that local delivery will, once again, become important. If so, this will lead to profound changes in regional dynamics, recreating the smaller service centres.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Explanation for a pause in blogging

I just got further and further behind on this blog. I had part completed posts, and then face a choice. Try to catch up, or draw a line.

I hate leaving several months without a post, but there comes a time when one has to start again!

Friday, April 25, 2008

In memory of our old fuel stove

I was trying to cook a roast chook, hen for the benefit of those not used to Australian slang. Our oven is small, it has a grill that hangs down at the top, so that it is very hard to fit two baking trays in the oven.

This cast my mind back in a fit of nostalgia to 202 Marsh Street, the house in which I grew up. That had a stove, a real fuel stove of the type that used to go 24 hours a day.

The oven itself was not huge, just a little bigger than the one I have now. However, it was the combination of features that made the old-fashioned stove so great.

Just below the oven was a warming oven. This allowed me to transfer dishes from the main oven just to keep warm or to slow cook if I increased the heat.

The hot plate was huge, running the length of the stove. Hot at one end, cooler at the other, this allowed me to cook multiple dishes moving them along to cooler spots as required. So once the gravy was done, for example, I could move it to the other end to keep warm.

Yes, there were some difficulties. For example, a fuel stove does not heat quickly in the way that a gas or electric stove might, so you have to manage this. But still, once you had mastered this, the ease of cooking was great.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The lost art of the Australian picnic

Photo from

Growing up, picnics were still a central feature of Australian life. There were organised events such as sunday school picnics, school picnics or picnic races. But far more common was the simple domestic picnic.

These were in part excursion, getting out to a nearby picnic spot. But they were also a central feature of travel, with families stopping by the side of the road to have a cup of tea or coffee and something to eat.

Then, almost overnight, they seemed to vanish, replaced by fast food or BBQs. Don't get me wrong, I like a good BBQ, but the picnic has the advantage that you can eat in many more places.

Picnics still exist, but they have become much more ornate occasions. Again don't get me wrong. I do not object to a range of specially prepared food. However, there is a lot to be said for simplicity.

I think that the key thing about a picnic is that it can take so many forms.

When travelling on a tight budget in Europe, we used to picnic in our hotel room at lunchtime, combining bread, cheese and things such as olives and salami, washed down with a rough red.

Travelling in Australia, I fear that we have fallen into the habit of stopping at those monster road side stops that now dot the express ways. This is a real error. It quite destroys the pleasure that can be obtained from a more relaxed stop in a pleasant place.

Yes, the monster road stops are useful when travelling quickly from point A to point B, although even then there is something to be said for stopping by the road to picnic. But there is really no excuse when touring.

One of the real pleasures of Regional Australia is that there are just so many nooks and crannies that come alive when you stop and look. A second pleasure is that there is now such a variety of food that you can bring with you or buy on the way to try.

This is one case where I need to reform myself!


In a nice comment, Barbara Martin recorded her own nostalgia about picnics of the past. Barbara's own blog is a gentle view of Canadian life.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

White Mountain Banksia in Flower

Just for a short break from my lazy gardener series, this photo taken by Gordon Smith shows the White Mountain Banksia ( Banksia integrifolia subsp. monticola) in flower near Armidale in Australia's New England.

Growing up in this area I came to love the European feel of the landscape created by the European's love of plants from home. This creates the colours of autumn. But I also came to love the often subtle shades of the natural Australian landscape.

Mind you, there is nothing subtle about some of the bright reds and ochres of the Australian outback. However, most colour changes are more subtle.

I have never seen the two loves as inconsistent. We all change the world we live in. Australia's indigenous peoples did this, just as we do today.

There can be a difficult balancing act between preservation and change. However, I have little sympathy for some metro enthusiasts who want to lock Regional Australia up in an apparently unchanging stasis as their personal preserve.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Regional living - the lazy person's approach to gardening 5: digging your first plot

Now that you have purchased your first herb seedlings, it is time to prepare your first plot. Now here we come to some firm rules.

Remember, this is the lazy person's guide to gardening. Not for you the vast expanse of prepared beds. You are time poor and want the pleasure and results with minimum effort. Overgrown is in fact good, because that way the soil is resting.

Now here is something that I should have mentioned in my last post but forgot. Hey, no-one's perfect! While buying some herb seedlings, you really should have bought the following:

  • Some lucerne hay, although even sugar cane or some other form of mulch is good.
  • Along with some chook manure, dynamic lifter or equivalent. Plus some blood and bone.

I am assuming that you have some old newspaper around. If not, you should have been collecting that too.

Okay, now wander outside to look at the garden.

Work out the absolute minimum size of bed you need to plant the seedlings you already have. Now double it. You need the second half for next week end's plantings.

Weed this part of the bed, putting the weeds on the compost heap. This should take you fifteen to twenty minutes. Put the chook poo or dynamic lifter plus blood and bone on the bed. Plenty is good. Please don't breath the stuff, it's not good for you. Now water.

All the conventional gardening books say water properly. For the lazy gardener like me, that's rubbish.

It is true that if you water for a short while, the wet soil forms a thin skin on top. Try it sometime, you will see what I mean.

In my case I water till the top layer is wet, wait until the water has sunk in, then water again. Once that has sunk in I then turn the soil over. This redistributes the top damp soil plus chook poo etc into the soil. I then put another layer of blood and bone plus chook poo onto the top of the bed and water again in the same way and dig in. If necessary, I water once more, this time without any additions. Two, perhaps three times, and the soil is both moist and fertilised. All very time and water efficient.

All seedling packs say water even if the soil is moist. This is one instruction I follow. I dig little holes, use a watering can to water, wait until the water has sunk down, then put the seedling in in the centre of a little hollow. Then, once planted, I water just around the plantings very gently with the watering can.

Once this has sunk in, I water the whole cultivated area again using a light spray with a hand-held hose. This time I do try to water properly because I want to soil moist before mulching.

Now we come to one of the real keys for the lazy person's approach to gardening, the role of mulch. Mulch is God's gift to the lazy gardener. I rip up paper or cardboard, it really does not matter want paper products you use, and put it down round the plants. Then put your mulch on top of the paper and water again just to bed the mulch down. This stops it blowing away in the wind.

You now have a planted, mulched area plus a second area of soil. You leave this until the next weekend to allow seeds to germinate. In the meantime, you can water the planted area very easily with a watering can as required, carefully watering in the holes left in the mulch. It only takes a few minutes, with the mulch keeping the general soil moist.

In the next post we can extend our planting.

Introductory post in series. Previous post. Next post.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Regional living - the lazy person's approach to gardening 4: the importance of a good herb garden

Rosemary in flower.

Now that you have you compost at least underway, it's time to make your first serious decision, the location of your herb garden. So wander out into the back yard with a beer or a wine, if that takes your fancy.

Herbs are one of God's gifts to cooking, adding to the flavour of our meals. No matter how overgrown my main garden may become, the herb garden seems to survive.

I always have my main two herbs - rosemary and oregano - on hand.

Rosemary, the queen of spices, is central to my cooking. It goes well with so many things, especially meats. It also has a nice smell when crushed. Unlike most common herbs, rosemary is a bush, so you need a little space. Not a lot mind you, if you are like me and use it a lot! Once established it just grows, so it is there whenever you need it.

I also use oregano all the time. The Wikipedia entry on oregano understates its uses. I prefer Greek to Italian oregano, it has a different taste, and I use it in a number of meals. Among other things, when chopped up and added to lemon juice, it makes a very nice marinade for chicken dishes.

Other regular herbs in my garden include sage, basil, thyme, coriander and mint.

The herbs you want will depend upon your own cooking requirements. So sit down outside with your beer or wine and draw up a list. Sometimes one of those cooking compendiums helps since you can browse all the dishes connected with a particular herb.

Please do not get too side-tracked, though. I need you to do a few things.

You have already worked out the general design of your garden. Now you need to look at the herb part. This needs to be close to the kitchen since you will be using it all the time. It also helps if there is some light nearby, since this is one part of the garden you may want to access at night.

Now you have a choice. You have identified your new herb garden. Many people proceed to bed preparation. The really lazy gardener like me does not because I need to be motivated. Instead, I head to the nursery and buy my my first few herbs. With watering, these will survive in shade for a while. Now I have to no choice but to proceed!

In my next post I will look at the lazy person's guide to bed preparation.

Introductory post in series. Previous post. Next post.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Regional living - the lazy person's approach to gardening 3: the importance of a good compost heap

I cannot over-emphasise the importance of a good compost heap. For a lazy gardener like me, there is nothing so satisfying as the thought that you are growing some good compost even if the rest of the garden does not have a single plant!

Remember this is the lazy man's guide to gardening. I do nothing posh with the compost at all!

Rule one. Do not allow your wife to force you to buy one of those plastic compost bins. They look neat, but do not work.

Rule two. Mowing or weeding should not be regarded as a chore, but as harvesting to get material for your compost. This is quite a different perspective.

Now look at the garden. A good overgrown spot with space on one side is great. Overgrown is good because you can fight the weeds with your heap. Space is good because you need to be able to turn the heap.

You should have a waste container in the kitchen for all your scraps. This is one source of raw material for the compost. You need more.

I have tried to compost most things, including paper. Paper is not good. Beside you need it for other purposes. Meat scraps attract maggots. So you want all forms of vegetable material.

Start by searching round for leaves, grass or weed to form an initial heap. This needs to be big enough so that you can poke a hole in it and pour in the kitchen material, then cover it over. Add to the pile as you go along.

Rule three. A compost heap shrinks to around one third of its size as material breaks down. I make the point only because you need to get the heap to a fair size before you go to the next stage. So keep adding material to it.

Before going on to rule four, you need to be aware of the difference between aerobic and anaerobic reactions. Aerobic requires oxygen and gives you that sweet compost smell. Anaerobic takes place in the absence of oxygen and gives you that sour smell.

Rule four. To get that sweet smell, you need to turn the compost to bring in air. That is why you need space, to turn the compost to the next place in the bed.

This brings me to rules five and six.

Rule five. Add something like dynamic lifter at periodic intervals because this aids the breakdown. It can also be helpful to add a little lime because kitchen scraps tend to get a little acidic. Think of the influence of the balsamic vinegar on all your salads!

Rule six. Add a little water from time to time. This helps the reaction.

Each time you add new material to your compost, that is stuff that has to break down. At a certain size, freeze your compost and start a new one.

After a little while with this process, you will have a never ending supply of compost for your garden beds.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Regional living - the lazy person's approach to gardening 2: planning the garden

Any new project should start with a plan.

Step one is to do some research. The easiest way of doing this is to buy a simple book on gardening. You need one with one of those charts that tell you when to plant things. There is a little point in putting something in if the growing season is wrong!

If you are feeling especially energetic, many regional areas have a local gardening club. These can be a valuable source of advice and inspiration, giving you information about things such as soil conditions.

Step two is to plan the garden. Most gardening books will talk about the need for detailed plans. Personally, I find a chair and a beer a great help here. The chair to sit on, the beer to drink while I study the back yard and sketch out an initial rough plan.

Now the point about the plan is not to make it too detailed. Remember, you are the lazy man (or person!). A rough guide will do just fine. And do have a beer after you have done all this work.

Introductory post. Next post.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Regional living - the lazy person's approach to gardening 1 introduction

A while ago in Australian Regional Food - Looking Back 2: The Home Garden I described with a degree of nostalgia the old style home garden. With international food prices rising to record levels, I thought it time to return to this topic.

I fear the old style home garden is no longer really possible in most metro areas. We live in flats or build huge houses on small blocks, with little room for home agriculture. It's not just space. Hear the neighbours complain if you keep chooks!

Yet this life style is still possible in most parts of Regional Australia. Of course there is a time cost. Yet the effort really pays back in terms of health, fresh food and lower food costs.

How long does it all take? Well, that depends on what you want to achieve. If you simply want to add your own fresh food to your diet, a couple of hours a week will do. For that, you can have a constant supply of fresh herbs and greens, with some tomatoes and other specials. I could not do without my own rosemary, oregano, mint, sage and marjoram. And that is just a start.

If you have more time, you can expand. Mind you, expand past a certain point and you need to start preserving or selling the surplus. Then you have fresh food the whole year round.

Over the next few posts I will outline the lazy person's approach to the home garden.

Posts in this series