Friday, December 5, 2008

Suburbamania: Choking Australia

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.

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)
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.

The suburbs:

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.

The traffic:

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.

Sphere: Related Content


scaper... said...

Hi Kevin,

I did post to your contribution over at Blogocrats but they seem to be more interested in swapping recipes and the like.

Obviously you care enough about the future of this nation but it will be a very hard task to turn this around...especially when the developers have some state and a lot of council politicians in their pockets...I have worked for these people and they are criminal in some of their activities.

Anyway, as I posted I have just about had it with Brisbane and will go to an area yet to be determined...possibly WA.

Kevin Rennie said...

WA is worth consideration. We lived in the old part of Broome for 15 months and enjoyed it. You can avoid the new suburbs in the West.

scaper... said...

I've never been to WA but have heard good stuff about Broome and the surrounds.

Is there large parcels of land (200acres+) still available, as I need a life change and native rehab is my pastime?

I've got to go across there next year on GSC business but don't know if I'll make it that far north.

Kevin Rennie said...

Broome has a rural agricultural area. Can't imagine that the land is cheap but it looked productive. The next year or so should be the time to buy, though. There are plenty of real estate agents to surf.

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