Icing on the Cake, “Dudley, there is no tomorrow!”… “Then how about this afternoon?”

Comments (0) Susie Dunn

This is the title of a book my husband presented to me on the plane taking off on our honeymoon, claiming to have found it at the airport newsagent. However that may be, that’s how Dudley and I tended to live our lives. Why not do it this afternoon?  

This explains my constantly boiling impatience at the state of the Armidale Mall. There’s no excuse for not bringing some vitality and hope to the Mall right now, while we’re waiting for grandiose (funded?) schemes to happen. The odd day of activity isn’t enough – we can’t promote a region with a dead heart. Listen to the successful retailers’ views. And some attractive “UPGRADE COMING SOON …” and “WHAT’S ON IN TOWN THIS WEEK” signs would help. Popular businesses have sprung up outside the city centre rather than in it (and not because of a road). What makes one place fizz while another fails – always a hospitality conundrum. The thing is to know your market and be enabled to satisfy its wants, drawing people. How many years have we been calling for practical, do-able action on this? Today please! Or at least this afternoon …

More than half the winners in the New England and North West Business Awards at Petersen’s Winery came from the Armidale region – congratulations to them all. Now, for the State Awards on November 23! 

SBS’s insight on the next generation and the future of farming in Australia was a real present, with the positivity of the young farmers, including UNE’s Emma McCrabb. Their informed embrace of technology and adaption to climate change, as well as their love for the land with all its ups and downs was wonderfully heartening.

The future of more young people leads news, with the reality of the new Armidale Secondary College approaching. Next year Armidale High merges with Duval on Duval’s campus, while the future-focused school for 1,500 is built on the old Armidale High site. Such far-sighted opportunities build our region’s future. The TAFE situation seems more clouded as I write this, with NSW chief, Jon Black, stepping down.  Currently technological disruptions walk a line, when systems rather than education can become the prime focus. This problem faces educational delivery across the board, with a tendency for actual education itself falling to the bottom of the list. The question really is: are more students learning better than before? Innovation and disruption are not ends in themselves.

Meanwhile, spare a thought for our koalas, reportedly one of the healthiest colonies in NSW.  With the appalling world record on habitat loss for creatures other than man, we need a good shaking to realise that folding in other living things is integral to our survival on this incredible globe. Be aware what co-exists with us and how many are now listed as vulnerable.

Spring energises, and gardens shooting and flowering always seem to make us feel good.  Do take the chance to visit some of the gardens opening at this time of year – always a heart-lifting day out. The VIC can give you a heads-up where they are. And be thankful that our local natural scenery is our Icing on the Cake, not (yet?) monetised by advertisers.

Most people I know fully approve of renewable energy and now look for storage. It’s fascinating that after the political death of the National Energy Guarantee, members of the Business Council of Australia’s Energy Climate Change Committee have discussed a self-regulating industry-wide emissions and reliability obligations programme to bring about grid and investor stability. About time someone did.

BackTrack, founded by CEO Bernie Shakeshaft, works by getting on with things, challenging disconnected young people with a constantly expanding programme of learning experiences, fun and personal involvement. A recent MOU with ARC gives the grazing lease on the Dumeresq Dam property to BackTrack for five years. A tremendous training opportunity, managing trails, weeds, fencing, bridges etc.  There’s much to be said for training by doing – and enjoying it. Bernie takes the “what about this afternoon” approach to this “500 acre classroom”.

Susie Dunn.

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