The Victorian Sustainability Commisioner was stating the bleeding obvious:
A DAMNING report on Victoria's environmental health has called for a halt to urban sprawl and dramatic changes to the "unsustainable" materialism and consumption of the state's citizens.We have travelled extensively throughout Australia during the last 20 years, mostly by car. Two clear messages stand out about how we are choking our continent. Our obsession with living in suburbia is strangling our cities and regional towns and destroying the surrounding environment. Flowing out of these is an endless traffic grid-lock.
Just two days after the Brumby Government announced an extension of Melbourne's urban boundaries, the state-appointed Sustainability Commissioner has warned of serious environmental damage on the city fringes and called for the boundaries to be fixed.
Brumby told to halt the sprawl (The Age 5 December 2008)
Western Australia is state of the artless. Perth, plus most regional cities and larger towns, is now surrounded by the new suburbs. They are expensive spec developments. The pillared entrances display the obligatory double-barrel names on either side: Dolphin Waters, Floodplain Flats, Pacific Palms, Platypus Park, Pirates Cove, Redgum Ramble. They cluster around mega shopping centres. Strolling through the Karratha, Port Hedland, Mandurah, Esperance or Albany plazas, I often wondered which town I was in as the same franchises canyoned before us. You needed an advanced driving course just to negotiate the car park.
At South Australia's lower lakes, Hindmarsh Island sports the inevitable suburban style marina. Ironically the boat launches behind the houses have quite a drop to water because of the sad state of the Murray mouth. Exmouth has the latest marina residential development, the envy of the old Gold Coast white-shoe brigade. Both noble attempts to tackle the nationwide marina shortage.
Regional cities like Geraldton can now boast peak hour traffic, bumper to bumper. Civilisation has arrived. The mania forbids straight lines in the new suburbs as the Crescent and the Courts mimic Canberra's curves and roundabouts. A rule of thumb: move on when they put in the second set of traffic lights. I challenge you to drive into Pelican Waters near Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast without getting lost. Broome now has a multi-lane road to the Port that splits Cable Beach from the other new suburbs and the old town.
Between Geraldton and the iconic Shark Bay is Kalbarri, which has its own Kalbarri National Park. It also has suburbia. Eco Flora estate is an example:
We have lost our way since the intense debate about alternatives that took place in the 1970s. The sprawl is supreme.