I'm off to live in the big smoke soon, though that name in current circumstances is a bit too close to the bone, all fires considered.
The devastation of property and peoples lives, has led me to think, amongst other things, that I need/want to be closer to my kids while I'm still able.
So this opinion piece is probably my last one for the Advocate and a great opportunity to focus my thoughts after 22 years.
I want to put into words some of the things that have been so positive for me and finish with a few brief observations about the things that have been disappointing.
When I say disappointing, I mean disappointing to me.
Life goes on for all of us despite our ideas, suggestions and efforts, but I have to say that there is a huge well of talent and experience in Hepburn Shire that for whatever reasons remains untapped.
I find that loss of talent and expertise shocking. In every sense it is wasteful to discourage ideas from the educated general community.
When I came here 22 years ago, I only knew one person. I had been looking at towns outside Melbourne and found fault for me in each of them.
Too far away, a summer-only town, a silver spoon town and too far away and so on.
When I arrived in Daylesford it felt instantly like home.
I used to say that if I was in the main street and needed help, I would feel really comfortable asking any of the familiar faces for help.
And then there was the real estate agent who came to my house a couple of weeks after I arrived. I was just home from hospital in Melbourne and wasn't controlling the pain at all well. He took one look at me, turned on his heel and almost ran to his car. Five minutes later he returned with a packet. "My mum used to give us this", he said and quietly went away.
And the ladies in the supermarket recently who could see I was struggling with an injured back and said: "Sit over there luv, we'll put this through ... wait 'til we're done".
So kind, so lovely to be assisted in that way.
Needless to say, because I needed to sit down after 30 steps I asked someone else could they provide a couple more seats around the supermarket. There were lots of other elderly people, I suggested. The reply was NO, which is a word that resonates very strongly in Daylesford.
So I will now have a bit of whinge because I think there are issues here that do not encourage the use of all the talent that lives here. Here are some of my experiences.
I once asked in a letter to the council if it was possible to do five things I listed that were to do with safety and amenity around the town. The answer was NO NO NO NO NO.
I was once asked to be a representative on the community consultative committee during the design process of the new Hepburn Spa.
Great, I thought, until I realised that they did not want any of us to have an opinion. We were just there to make things look consultative.
The example that irritated me most was after we had looked at the floor plan proposal.
I asked was there more than one design for the building envelope (outside cladding and style etc) to look at. No one spoke at first. Then one of the local men said: "Why, do ya think we employed an architect luv?"
I replied that architects provided ideas, plans, alternatives and advice. Customers (us) accepted or did not accept designs that were presented.
As we didn't have any choices we could not make an informed choice or have an opinion. Was it going to be a twee fake historic building or a huge modern cave?
I had no preference myself but NO, we could only comment on the one design. And worst of all, the community hydrotherapy needs were not built into the plans.
Imagine. Spa Centre of the nation and no pool. NO, they said despite energetic requests from members of the medical profession.
Then there was a request that the planning department consider having someone with specialised visual and aesthetic training as part of building permit planning and approval to ensure that new buildings did not just copy historical buildings with cheap materials or impose poorly designed modern buildings that did not enhance or work well with the visual character of the area.
These decisions need expertise and the answer was NO.
So we have ended up with both entrances to the town, dominated at one end by commercial interests that block the view of Wombat Hill and at the other, a couple of so-called modern houses that sit on the entrance and block a beautiful view up to the town.
While it sits so close to the road I suspect a runaway truck or car might one day find themselves in a bedroom before bedtime.
I am not against new buildings or industry/businesses but especially in Daylesford we need sensitive ideas that add to our natural setting.
Beauty is the backbone of the central industry of tourism. Someone needs to control or consider that.
So goodbye and thanks to readers who have enjoyed my articles.
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