THE PASSING of Baw Baw’s off-leash areas trial by councillors [in April] has a few WBBC readers wondering if the people who chose the parks were barking mad.
Above: de Groot lives on. Illustration by William PJ Kulich.
First published in the 10 April 2015 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen. Dates below relative to that date.
Former councillor Julie Grant made this comment on an article at warragulcitizen.com:
“I can’t believe Brooker Park has been chosen for this trial. Yes it is a popular dog walking area, but it is also hugely popular for joggers and walkers without dogs, who already have to dodge dog droppings on the tracks. Importantly, as a wetlands it supports considerable wildlife.”
Danielle Green also said on the website she was concerned many of the areas would not be fenced:
“I’m sorry but dogs do not interact better off the leash! No matter how well your dogs are trained does not mean when they see another dog, or animal for that fact, that they are going to listen to you. Also, having an off-leash area not fenced? Are they nuts? This is absolutely ludicrous!”
Most comments on the story were not supportive of the trial. A report by council staff said the community’s response to the trial during the consultation period had been mixed, with 48 per cent in support of off-leash areas and 37 per cent against.
C. Wilkinson was the only person to leave a positive comment on the website:
“This has to be one of the longest and slowest areas of change. This has been on the agenda for years, so it is great to see the council making a decision. Please let us remember, this is not just about off-leash areas, it is about all dogs being on-leash in all other public areas.”
Another news story that got people talking over the past fortnight was the opening of Warragul’s third rail underpass.
WBBC has full coverage of and pictures from the opening on 30 March at warragulcitizen.com.
The underpass opening came just days after new traffic lights were installed at the Normanby Place/Queen Street intersection were switched on, and the road markings on that intersection have a few motorists concerned.
Beth Carr commented:
“Drove south, across Queen Street and down through the dip. The roadway isn’t clear, coming from Normanby Place. Be careful.”
WBBC noticed this too – a painted section of traffic island which is not visible from the north side of the intersection does not align properly with the road lane.
The opening was attended by local, state and federal politicians, with Labor’s Harriet Shing cutting the ribbon on behalf of the state government.
But the ribbon cutting came after the first public vehicle drove the underpass.
Shortly before the official opening, a motorbike with sidecar weaved through traffic cones and drove the road.
The incident prompted a couple of people to mention Francis de Groot’s usurping of the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932.
De Groot (1888 – 1969) was a member of the conservative right-wing New Guard of Australia, which was set up to honour and defend the king.
Frustrated by socialist New Sou-th Wales premier Jack Lang’s decision to open the bridge himself – rather than invite the king’s representative in the state, governor Sir Philip Game, to do so – de
Groot took matters into his own hands.
In uniform and on horseback to blend in with the state’s Lancers, he infiltrated the opening ceremony and, just as Lang was about to open the bridge, rode up to the ribbon, drew his sword and cut the ribbon, declaring the bridge open “in the name of the decent and respectable people of New South Wales.”
The ribbon was quickly re-tied and de Groot was charged with damaging a NSW government ribbon worth £2, behaving offensively and using threatening words, but the image of him on horseback was an enduring legacy of that opening ceremony.
But back to local issues from this century. Another big story last edition was the narrow approval of a 36-unit medium density development on Sutton Street, Warragul. One of the objectors,
Horst Bulla, made this comment at warragulc itizen.com:
“Four responsible councillors… tried to achieve a favourable outcome for the town and the developer which would have included… a substantial reduction of units to maintain social harmony and avoid traffic hazards foreseen. Four councillors totally disregarded the will and concerns of the resident objectors (their voters) and sided for unknown reasons with an outside developer.”
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