The Beast’s Monthly Mailbag
Local Development Issues
Dear Editor – Thank you for bringing attention to the proposed building of yet more cricket club facilities in Waverley Park. The Eastern Suburbs Cricket Club already has exclusive access to much of the park’s facilities including the oval, yet unfortunately, it appears they feel entitled to more public land in Waverley Park. In addition to wanting to build on the flat grassed area above the indoor basketball court (with the terrific ocean views), they also want the strip of land between the oval and the sports field.
Waverley Park is not that large and, according to Council, is above capacity due to use by the many sporting groups. I hope the cricket club appreciates the amazing facilities they already have and come to realise that no more land should be taken away from the vast majority of park users who will never use their facilities. Council needs to stop signing confidential agreements stating their intentions to hand over public land to sports clubs, particularly before entering into any community consultation. Interestingly Councillor Sally Betts sits on the club’s management team.
Margaret Whitlam Recreation Centre
Dear James – Thanks for the excellent article on the overdevelopment of Waverley Park. By now the election will have been decided; will we have councillors who stand up for residents and public open space, or councillors happy to do secret deals with clubs? And then, when the deal is done, so-called public consultation?
It’s ironic that council is refurbishing the Boot Factory and taking the bubble off the front of the Bondi Pavilion, yet it doesn’t see that it is bastardising a public architecturally designed building, the Margaret Whitlam Recreation Centre (MWRC), with a bit of additional plonk. What are they thinking, or aren’t they?
The secret Heads of Agreement even calls for the ripping off of the front of the MWRC for access. I’m really not sure what access this would be for, or whose, as accessibility was designed in.
The deal with users was that all goods and equipment were to be trolleyed in as the surrounds of the old ugly stadium had become a car park. This vehicle access and random car park was a danger to users, especially little kids easily lost among the large number of cars parked there. So it’s back to the past is it? As all past councillors, users and residents were intimately involved in the design, I am seriously disappointed.
Ingrid Strewe M Env Ed
Former Councillor and Mayor
Mountain Biking in The East
Mountain Bike Riding
I was excited to read that councils are (finally) acknowledging the importance of building more mountain biking facilities. The track kids had built at the eastern end of Queens Park next to Carrington Road was very popular and my son loved going there and riding with the other kids. He was devastated when it was flattened (fortunately, we’ve found a new one in Bronte).
Mountain bike riding has minimal impact on green space and bushland, and most cyclists are keen to protect the environment. Centennial Park would be a great place to enjoy BMX and mountain bike riding. Please make it happen!
Mountain Biking feedback
Dear Nicola – As requested, here are my suggestions regarding mountain biking in this region. The Eastern Suburbs could really do with a dedicated mountain bike track. Currently, we have to travel over an hour to get to any.
Mountain bikes are a legitimate form of cycling! It engages young people and thereby helps to get them to do something other than watching screens, which is really important currently.
The best places would seem to be one of the back hilly areas in Centennial Park, either in the pine tree area near Randwick Racecourse or over the other side above the dog off-leash area near the circular pavilion.
If the park’s board say they can’t afford to dedicate this space, then say that roads for the road riders take up considerable space also! We can’t just have facilities for the oldies! A dedicated track will likely reduce the ad hoc track making that currently goes on, so it will also be beneficial for broader park management.
Regards and thanks for the opportunity to input,
Mountain Bike Facilities
Dear Beast – Good article on Mountain Biking in the East. All the spirit shown by those kids escaping lockdown to meet up and build their own mountain biking tracks in our parks was great to see. It reminded me of all those childhood freedoms of the past now lost to screen time, and the insistence of us oldies that every piece of open space be for passive recreation and nothing more.
By the way, the Centennial Parklands Trust can instantly permit biking in the parks by the simple step of putting up a sign – Clause 21 (2) (a) and (d) of the regulations. There is nothing in section 8 of its governing act that prevents the trust putting up that sign, and doing so would encourage the use and enjoyment of the parks.
During lockdown we often noticed a group of youngsters, some would say a ‘gang’, digging jumps behind the trees at the western edge of Queens Park. They were causing no harm to anybody else and making use of much neglected parkland. I’ve never seen so many smiling happy faces. As a group, their co-operation and camaraderie would put us adults to shame. We’ve lost a lot of that fun, adventurous spirit.
Give them space, let them build, and they’ll surprise us with how good they are.
Hi this is Seong. I started mountain biking when I was 5 years old. However, I only became super interested during the lockdown recently. I have enjoyed this sport from day one, venturing to each park in the Eastern Suburbs. My friends and I go out mountain biking 3-5 times a week.
It would be amazing if you could make us a bike park. This would be a great option for young teenagers like us to have somewhere to go. Rather than the possibility of damaging parkland, a designated bike park makes a lot of sense. The only reason why mountain bike riders ride in the park is that they have nowhere else to ride.
Please make a mountain bike park. This would be awesome and would make every rider in the area happy, and even more, it might make your job easier in the coming years. This is a smart idea and would really make a difference to this community. This has been a long-awaited dream for us bikers and would not only make us kids happy but all the adult bikers we have seen out in the trails would benefit too. They would also truly enjoy this new mountain bike opportunity. Many of us have tried starting petitions but our ideas have sadly been ignored. Mountain biking is a healthy activity for people of all ages and it is a particularly good activity for young teenagers who might otherwise be getting into trouble. This is what we have wanted for ages. If we had a designated bike park, there would be fewer complaints from the non-biking community and the council would no longer have to fix grassland that might otherwise be accidentally damaged due to riding on the grass.
I urge you to take our pleas seriously.
Thank you for listening.
Other Local Government Issues
Artwork painted over – South Bondi amenities block
Hello James – On Tuesday this week, the amenities block at South Bondi was painted. Unfortunately, the stencilled artwork of the indigenous surfer has been painted over. It was a very well done piece of work.
Would you put out a call through your magazine for the artist who did it to come and replace it, if possible?
REGULATING OUR LIVES!
Local government should not be intruding into our lives. They should be looking at local issues of service and amenities. Unfortunately, the new Waverley Local Environmental Plan 2022 is encroaching politically into our thinking with their introduction of a new climate resilience clause. How far should we let them affect our lives, and how much power should they wield?
We have state and federal governments to influence our legal obligations and that is enough. Sadly, hefty council levies imposed on residents have given local governments the money to build up their staff and exceed their charter. With each new plan they formulate, it is frightening how much power they wield to change our environment.
State Government Issues
Keep the Bus Issue Alive
Wednesday, November 24, a demonstration held in front of NSW Parliament to protest the impending radical dismantling of the bus system in the East received no media coverage, despite the December 5 start date of the ruction.
The government claims to have compromised after listening to the public and pushes the line that the new system will improve the frequency, efficiency and connectivity of the system.
A fine example of how they compromised is the 373 route from Coogee to Circular Quay. Formerly destined for the chop, it is now retained, but only as far as Museum Station. They suggest that if you deign to want to travel further then you should either get off in Oxford Street and catch another bus (probably having to stand up) or walk through to the light rail at Town Hall some 500 metres away across three busy roads. That’s connectivity for you.
The city centre is crying out for a return of public activity. Why is it then that Sydney must be the only city in the world that has removed bus stops from its heart? It is no wonder bus users don’t patronise the Market Street retail hub when there are no bus stops along Elizabeth Street between Bathurst Street and Martin Place, nearly 1.5 kilometres apart along a noisy, stinking “traffic sewer”. Why would you do this, unless it is just to increase traffic flows with no regard for pedestrians and bus users?
What are the plans for Circular Quay that require the removal of buses like the 373 from servicing the area? If the “increased services” promised in the government blurb is to be believed, there will still be as many buses at The Quay, just not the ones we want.
The former minister Constance said that the purpose of the changes to the bus system was definitely not to push us into using the light rail, yet here we are having to transfer to it either near the start of our journey or halfway through. But use it you must.
The 372 service is to be re-badged as the 374, meaning a longer, slower journey to get from Coogee to Central via Cleveland Street. It seems there will no longer be a fast route to Central.
The compromised 370 route, originally to terminate at Darlington, will now extend to Glebe Point. A slight improvement, but it diminishes what is one of the most enjoyable bus journeys for those with a spirit of adventure, meandering across the city, linking the Inner West with the beach, accessing two universities, two hospitals, four shopping precincts and four cinemas. A good day out by any measure.
Bus users in the East need to keep this issue front of mind.
Federal Government Issues
The “deal” we had with the French was mind-boggling. 12 standard submarines at $4 billion a pop, delivered sometime in 2035. $48 billion which had somehow escalated, at last count, to $90 billion, with a questionable delivery date.
The Chinese navy has 66 submarines, 11 of them nuclear, and functioning. Looking at our weaponry, my impression is that we have warplanes that can’t fly and warships that can’t float, all paid for upfront. They saw us coming.
We have some old Collins class subs, probably not functioning. At least the trusting French can’t have been paid much upfront or they wouldn’t be so upset.
Scott Morrison is behaving like the kid in the playground taunting, insulting and vilifying Bully One in the fond belief Bully Two has his back and approves it.
China appears now to be the most powerful nation in the world. How long does he think it would take China to completely destroy us from a safe distance if he keeps this up and they have a mind to?
With the horrifying prospect that seems to be looming of a 2022 return to Republican power in the US, with their isolationist policies, and in any case Biden very cross with ScoMo, the little boy is prancing around in the schoolyard exposed and vulnerable.
That means the people he “leads” – you and me – are in deep trouble.
Other Local Happenings
Running for premature babies
Hi James – I wanted to say thank you for your article in the November issue of The Beast on the Running for Premature Babies marathon challenge. I’d never heard of the charity before, and coincidentally my brother Max and I had been training to do a marathon as an end of year challenge. As a result of your article, we signed up to the challenge and managed to raise just under $500 for Sophie’s great charity.
The cause also helped with motivation through the last, painful few kilometres of the run. We started in Bondi and finished at the Bay Run in the Inner West. Attached are some photos. Thanks to our support crew. Love your magazine!
Dr Phoebe Williams
It was refreshing to read the interview with Dr Phoebe Williams in your November 2021 edition. (Kids, COVID, Vaccines and School – Q&A With Dr Phoebe Williams, The Beast, November 2021). Personally, I found this article very interesting and informative. Could we please have more from Dr Williams (or a similarly qualified and informed medical professional) on this subject, and specifically on the pros and cons of getting vaccinated?
I tried to eat my lunch and read the article by Jeremy Ireland (And on the Seventh Day, The Beast, December 2021), with its assertions that “religious people are less prone to depression”, and then this gem, “It is also known people of faith behave more pro-socially towards others.”
You asked at the bottom of the article, Jeremy, “Have you got a question.” Well, yes, two…
Firstly, where did you discover either of these ‘facts’? I did some cursory research into studies and they unilaterally said that, due to so many variables (age of subject, amount of religious energy expended, amount of depression, country of origin, economic variables, not to mention methodology and the necessity for a sizeable control group), it is impossible to say.
And, secondly, regarding the apparent pro-social benefits of religion, you must have forgotten the vicious Crusades spanning hundreds of years; the Inquisition, infamous for the severity of its tortures and its persecution of Jews and Muslims; Pakistani Muslims vs Indian Hindus, almost leading to nuclear war; the Bosnian War, where the term ‘ethnic cleansing’ first came into being (Muslims vs Christians); the massacres of perhaps 8 million Indigenes of South America committed in the name of Catholicism; the massacre and forced Islamisation of a million Armenians in 1915; the ongoing current Islamic Jihad leading to wars all over the world; and, one surely close to your heart, the Protestant and Catholic Irish conflict.
The list goes on, and on. It certainly put me off my lunch.
Oops, Jeremy Ireland, your associate’s Lord’s Prayer bears more resemblance to the Prayer of St Francis of Assisi – have a check with the beauty of that humanitarian environmentalist’s words.