Mad Teddy's LOVE THIS RIVER page

Mad Teddy's web-pages


It's a funny old world.

If you've come here from my "Power to the people" web-page, you'll have seen this sign before. It's one of a number of signs on and around the track which leads down from Launceston's Corin Street to the Duck Reach Power Station Museum.

You've probably noticed the little red heart-shaped symbol near the bottom-left corner of the sign, with the words "this river" inscribed across it. The intention is clear: the whole thing means "Love this river".

It's a noble enough sentiment. Launceston's South Esk River is one of two tributaries (the other being the North Esk River) to the Tamar River, which flows north to the Bass Strait. The South Esk flows past the old power station through Duck Reach, and on to the Cataract Gorge - one of Launceston's most delightful spots. (If you ever come here, do check it out!) So we've got every reason to be fond of this aspect of our natural scenery.

Here's a close-up of the sign's lower left corner:

Quite clearly, the symbol doesn't really "belong" there. It appears to involve some kind of sticker, probably with the two words printed on it and then placed over a heart-shaped daub of red paint on the sign itself. Almost certainly, it was put there by a slightly naughty member of the public, wishing to make a statement. (No - it wasn't put there by Yours Truly, in case you were wondering!)

So what's the big deal?

Well, when I came here a while back (having first visited in August 2006), I noticed - to my great bemusement - that an alteration had been made! I didn't have my camera with me at the time, so I resolved that next time I visited the old power station (which has now become one of my "haunts"), I'd bring the camera and record the change for posterity.

Have a look at this:

That's right - someone's obviously come here with some kind of blade and scratched the little symbol off! So now there is a rough rectangle of bare metal where it used to be.

Now, why would anyone want to do a thing like that?

As is well known, the international "green movement" got its start right here in Tasmania, back in the early 1970's, when a beautiful little lake in the state's south-west, named Lake Pedder, was drowned under 15 metres of water to make a catchment - or impoundment - for a hydro-electric power station. (Click here to visit my web-page which goes into more detail.)

Then, a decade later, it was on again. This time, the intention was to dam a river system in another part of the south-west to build another power station! (Again, click on the above link to read more.)

In the event, that second scheme never went ahead. But ever since those vexed times, the Tasmanian community has been polarised into two camps, which basically view each other as either "tree-huggers" or "rednecks".

So which camp do I belong to?

Well, I like to think that I have a rational view of the world - but of course, everyone thinks that, don't they? So that doesn't really tell you anything.

I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

For our purposes here, I'm just the eccentric bloke who takes the time to make up a web-page which documents a small, insignificant event in the history of one of the world's most delightful little backwaters.

That's it!

UPDATE, Saturday, 29th September 2007

Well... that's not quite it, actually - there's a bit more to say.

If you've visited my It's still not easy being green page, just over halfway down you'll have seen my comments about the proposed Tamar Valley pulp mill, to which most locals are vehemently opposed (for reasons explained in that page). Leaders in the fight to prevent this monstrosity are a group who call themselves "TAP", which is short for "Tasmanians Against the Pulp mill".

In recent months, I've seen on several cars around Launceston a sticker featuring that same heart symbol which used to adorn the Duck Reach sign which is the main subject of this page, but this time carrying the slogan "stop this pulp mill".

Also in recent times, a group of TAPpers have established an "embassy" at the Batman Bridge, about 30km north of the city, to keep the travelling public in mind of the fact that this issue is not yet resolved and to keep the pressure on. Three days ago (Wednesday 26-9-2007), I took myself and my old Mavica digital camera up there to say hello to whomever was on duty at the time. (Click here to read more about this remarkable bridge.)

You can click on the following pictures to see 640480 versions.

As you approach the eastern end of the bridge, you
come to a side road off to the right which leads to
a car park. There's also a "tourist information" booth
which features a map of the Tamar Valley region.

The Tamar River runs north from Launceston (you can
see the northern suburbs at the bottom of the picture) to
the Bass Strait which separates Tasmania from the Aussie
mainland. The Batman Bridge is just over halfway along.

The "embassy" turned out to be a van with the now-familiar heart symbol painted on its sides, together with some signs and banners, parked near the side road (just mentioned) which leads to the car park - and also to another car park down by the water. (If the pulp mill goes ahead, it will be sited just a few kilometres north of the bridge - what an insult!)

One of the "embassy staff" kindly offered to take some pictures of me in this setting (thanks, L.H.!). You can click on the pictures to see 640480 versions:

One of my kids once said that I can
look awkward without trying...

"Greed and deceit" - tell me about it! (We're sick of it...)

"Love this island" - indeed we do. It's our home - and
we'll never give up the struggle to keep it beautiful...

We have a federal election coming up soon. You may bet
we're on to the candidates about this issue; and Bass and
Braddon (northern Tasmania's parliamentary seats) are
both marginal (i.e. notoriously "volatile" at election-time)!

   Yep - better believe it!

While I was there on Wednesday, I bought a couple of stickers.

I'm still none the wiser about the identity of the graphic artist who initiated the now-ubiquitous heart symbol. Whoever you are - well done; you've captured the prevailing mood perfectly!

If you'd like to read more about TAP, have a look at their website:

Also, for more background to the Tamar Valley Pulp Mill saga, check this out:

UPDATE, Monday, 26th November 2007

      - two days after election day in Australia!      

On Saturday, 24th November - two days ago - the Australian people finally threw out the devious right-ring Howard government under which our country has groaned for eleven long, stifling years.

I'll be adding more pages on that topic in the near future. For the moment, I'm adding more to this page, which seems to have taken on a life of its own - from humble beginnings as a small "extra" attached to my "Power to the people" page, to the point where its main focus of interest has become the proposed Tamar Valley pulp mill - the cause of much acrimony in our region over the last few years.

(Actually, as it turns out, the recent election has a direct bearing on the pulp-mill issue, as you'll soon see.)

What follows concerns an incident which occurred nearly seven weeks ago. I had intended to comment on this much earlier - but my computer basically "died" before I could get around to it, and has had to be rebuilt pretty much from the ground up! It's taken well over a month to get it more-or-less up and running again, at least to the point where I can now attend to this matter. (The computer still has a few "glitches" which need to be sorted out, even now.)

On Wednesday, 17th October 2007, came the news that some anti-pulp-mill protesters had managed to get themselves into the A-frame of the Batman Bridge (mentioned above), climb up the ladder inside the structure, and establish themselves at the top. They had also succeeded in hanging a very large banner over the supporting cables high above the bridge roadway. Initially, they intended to stay there for some considerable time; see this ABC news release for more details. (It's an on-going story; click here to read more.)

Well, if you've come to know anything about me from these pages, you'll know that this was too good an opportunity to pass up! So I grabbed my old Sony Mavica camera and headed north.

As it turned out, the protest ended peacefully later that day - so I'm really glad that I went to have a look when I did, otherwise I would have missed it - and the following photo-essay would never have eventuated.

There are two car parks at the eastern end of the bridge - one just off the road, and another further down, near the water. On that day, the upper car park was unusually busy.

Some police cars and a State Emergency Services (SES)
vehicle were in evidence. Something was definitely afoot...


Looking westward towards the bridge, which was still open
to traffic. The banner is visible near the top of the A-frame.

This view is from a bit further
down toward the lower car park.

I walked up onto the bridge and
took a picture of the A-frame...

...and another...

... and a close-up of the banner.

I also zoomed up on the extreme top of the A-frame.

From the western end of the bridge, I took
a picture of the other side of the banner.

While crossing back to the eastern side, I was struck - as always - by the dramatic sight of the hydroelectric pylons stretching away into the distance. This time, I made a point of taking a picture (click to see a 640480 version):

As I walked along until almost opposite the nearest pair, I looked down at their bases and took another picture. Then, on reaching the end of the bridge, I took yet another, and went down for a closer look.

You don't really appreciate how big these things are...

...until you take note of how much ground they cover!

They're enormous - each one must
have hundreds of nuts and bolts.

    I couldn't resist at least one "arty-farty" shot...

... and then I got a real surprise! Next to a rubbish
bin near one of the pylons was this little character...

... maybe he'd got mixed up, and thought
that this was the "Bantam Bridge"...?

        Tough guy, huh?

... or perhaps he had something to do with the protest -
might the police have suspected him of fowl play?   

In the Australian federal election a couple of days ago, the seat of Bass - which includes Launceston and Tasmania's north-east - changed hands from the Liberal Party (the previous government) to the Labor Party (the new government).

However, it wasn't an outright victory. The fact is that Labor has only won the seat with the help of preferences from the Greens. For the first time in history, there was a very significant vote in Bass for the Greens candidate.

Now why might that be?

You don't need to be Einstein to figure it out. The fact is, most people in Bass definitely did want a change of government, but they also very specifically don't want a chlorine-bleaching pulp mill in the area. The Green vote was a very clear, obvious protest vote, to let the Labor Party know that it is on notice.

UPDATE, Wednesday, 5th December 2007

In fact, there's even more to the Tasmanian vote than meets the eye.

There are five electorates here: Bass (as mentioned), Braddon (the state's north-west, basically), Denison (which essentially consists of the greater Hobart area), Franklin (which takes in the south-west), and Lyons (the largest in area, which consists of most of the central rural districts). You may like to visit this page on the Australian Electoral Commission's website to see a map showing Tasmania's five electorates as of 2004.

Before the recent election, the federal Liberal/National Coalition government held Bass and Braddon (the northern electorates), while the Labor Party held the other three. Since the election, Labor holds all five.

So what, you might ask?

Precisely this: Except for a 1% increase in Labor's Braddon vote, all Labor candidates' votes shrank. In all five electorates, Labor depended on Greens' preferences to win. Across Australia, Greens' preferences were essential to Labor's success in 20 to 30 seats - and therefore to winning government. (I hadn't realized this myself until yesterday; I'm indebted to the TAP people for pointing it out.)

I'm delighted that Labor won Bass, even with a reduced vote and the need for assistance from the Greens. (Anything to get John Howard & Co. out!) But the point here is that the Labor Party needs to hear from us, loudly and clearly, the message that - to some extent - it's there under sufferance and not with total support, especially in Bass, which cherishes its well-deserved reputation as a marginal seat (see below for more details).

Quite clearly, the proposed pulp mill has been a major factor in the way this has all come together. Believe me - I'm delighted that Labor won. But let's not allow them to forget these crucial details about exactly how they won.

That's democracy in action for you!

Throughout the election campaign, the federal Labor Party has gone along with the position taken by both the federal Liberal/National government and the Tasmanian (so-called) Labor government, that this pulp mill should go ahead.

Bass has been, for decades, a "marginal seat" - which basically means that it votes on issues, rather than along party lines. The new federal Labor government, led by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, needs to take on board this very serious message:



UPDATE, Wednesday, 29th April 2008

The pulp mill issue is still unresolved, and continues to divide the Tasmanian community. Recently, there was a public meeting in Hobart which addressed not only the pulp mill, but the entire way our state is being governed. Recent developments have led to terms like "corruption" appearing in the media.

This evening, there will be a public meeting along similar lines here in Launceston. God willing and all other things being equal (as some wag once said), I'll be there. It promises to be a well-attended, major event; and you can be sure the pulp mill will rate more than a passing mention. Click here to see a new page I've posted just today, in anticipation.

UPDATE, Wednesday, 10th March 2010

Well, now... what do we make of this?

I just did a bit of Googling on the subject of the Batman Bridge, and guess what? It seems I'm not the only person to have observed a resident chicken in the area!

I don't know if he's the same as the one featured above. Possibly not - his colouring looks a bit different, and his tail seems a little the worse for wear - but I can't be sure. See what you think! Check this out:

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