Editorial February 24th 2023
Welcome to this week’s editorial, The old expression of “Softly Softly, Catchy Monkey” comes to mind this week. For those not familiar with the term it means to proceed cautiously or gently to achieve an objective or to capture a target without startling it and causing it to run away. It appears, without us being at all aware, that we are in fact the monkeys and there have been powers at play , proceeding all so cautiously and gently, so as to not startle us. And without even realising it we have been captured so painlessly that most of us still remain unaware. Cast you mind back just a few years to when Batemans Bay was a sleepy little town that presented the daydreams of a coastal holiday haven. The old iron bridge greeted you and the view from it to the foreshore below beckoned you to peel off and discover the quaint foreshore. Life was slower then, before the four lane flyover that delivered you to a thunder dome of industry and a cacophony of signs and construction.
But to an old visitor returning to the coast the path was known. Just take a left at Beach Road. “Beach Road” seductively draws visitors. It is sign posted as a Tourist Route, it leads to the beach, and hopefully it will deliver you to the Nature Coast of old with its rumble of old fibro cottages lining the shore. But alas the fibro cottages are going or gone, and in their place are the cliff faces of apartment blocks, each taller than the other. Once there was a building height. Now it appears that all options are on the table. The Batemans Bay we once knew, only a few years ago before the new bridge and the first of the ‘towers’ was a sleepy little place. It came alive seasonally and it was content in its simplicity. But very quietly, very cautiously, without wanting to scare the monkeys the landscape changed, as did the community. First was the removal of the old bridge. This came as much of a surprise to the RMS as it did the community, given it wasn’t scheduled to be replaced for another 25 years. But we were told it had to happen for progress. Next came the new $70 million pool and theatre. We didn’t need an $8 million theatre but we were told it was a mark of progress. Next came the beach Road foreshore with its highrise apartments. One after the other with more coming. Next Council might well consider a 70m tower on the old Bowling Club site. But we are told the buildings are essential to solving our housing crisis. They are a sign of progress. As too the roundabout south of the Bay that will fast track new residents to their homes in one of the many new subdivisions that are softly, softly, popping up from Surf Beach to Rosedale, the large estates behind Broulee and the new 1000 home developments south of Moruya. Our numbers are swelling daily. New projects, new jobs, and with it the very quiet and steady changes from What Was into What will Be. Our once quiet, treed coastal towns and villages are now being subdivided into 450m2 lots that house bold new two story enormities. And we are told this maximises existing services. For those living within the changes it might appear that the changes aren’t all that obvious. A building here, a demolition there. But one by one the old comes down and the new is not at all a like for like replacement. Our streets begin to have a new face. And we are certainly already far removed from the sleepy backwater we were just a few years ago. The thing I am most curious about though is the Slowly Slowly, Catchy Monkey that has us as a captive audience in our own destiny. Somewhere there has to be someone who knows the big picture. Someone is zoning, someone is approving ideas that are changing the very nature of where we live and taking us for a ride. Is it all where we want to go? Do we want all this progress? Do we have any choice? With progress comes the population mass we need for improved delivery of services. With the increased population mass comes trades, professionals, opportunities. All wonderful and essential. But are we aware of these macro decisions that impact our day to day, and should we be? If the powers that be go ever so softly so as not to spook us we might remain naively blissful of the fact that we have been captured and are simply pawns in someone’s game of Monopoly; The Nature Coast Edition. Any one want to be the Kookaburra?
Image source Until next Lei