Susie Dunn – Flight of the Cockatoos

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The introduction to this column was mapped out – the perfectly timed Fly-Past of White Cockatoos during Armidale’s Autumn Festival Parade …

But I’m still seething about the SMH front page headline early this month: Taxpayer money spent on “roads to nowhere”.  That’s the New England Highway they’re talking about. The incredible blindness of those with city-centric views and experiences never ceases to astound me. They apparently have absolutely no idea how this continent (where they inhabit a tiny patch) actually exists within a vital but vulnerable arterial network. Social network platforms go in and out of fashion – food, fibre, defence and transported goods, and people don’t. If a few more city dwellers transferred themselves to the regions, they’d come to understand that it’s not enough to live in what they see as the “brains” of this continent, but that brains are lost without a viable body to feed, sustain and defend them. Grrrrrrrr.

But back to the Autumn Festival Parade.  A woman near me clapped the floats so enthusiastically, that I said: “You must have a vested interest”.  “Oh, not at all,” she said, “I don’t even come from here – I’m just absolutely amazed by the range of groups, cultures and interests – it’s astounding!”

The next night the leader of the Flinders Quartet Musica Viva concert in the Town Hall began by saying much the same thing. After coaching NECOM students the day before, the musicians next morning strolled to the Farmers’ Markets, near the Judith Wright Grove and the Carnival. The Grove was the rallying point for the Palm Sunday march supporting refugees. “What a place of variety as well as marvellous music!” they said.

Steve McMillan tells me that the Sports Council’s estimated contribution to the local economy from sport for the first three months of 2016 is $5,972,245. For something so enjoyed in the community, that’s certainly not to be sneezed at.

The Belgrave Cinema often shows special fundraising films – great to see, while simultaneously helping good causes. I’m always sorry if I have to miss them for one reason or another.  That’s the thing – there’s just so much on!

Some interesting research has been reported on Radio 3 (UK) about The Three-Second Rule, looking “through the brain-scanner at what the brain gets up to when it doesn’t have anything to do”.  It suggests that when the brain’s truly at rest, that’s when creative thinking can happen. That’s when instinct rather than logic kicks into action, apparently.

Incidentally, I also read that Estonia now has the world’s fastest broadband. It’s generally accepted that broadband is vital in the 21st Century. In Armidale we have it, with all-fibre connection as well, while so many places in this vast continent can still only hope. Another asset.

We should celebrate press freedom (while we still have any of it). We need responsible journalism to bring us independent, mediated information rather than simply trusting the loaded scattergun of much social media and “shock-jockery”. And don’t mention trolls!

Harmony Day was celebrated at the Town Hall. I always wonder why it doesn’t get a mention as much as bad news does. It should be better known. Amin Amini, who was a devoted President for so many years, together with his wonderful wife, Ghodsi, put such a lot into it locally over the years. The new Harmony President is Peter Ducat, and it’s good to see him back in a formal role in the community.

It’s not fair to single people out, but it does always give me a lift to get a smile from many people around the town – some of the champion smilers are Jane Hannon, Tony Elder, Hazel Green, Jenny Hanna, Carol Higginbottom and Deidre Rickards – there are so many local people who can light up a room. That’s a talent.

Susie Dunn.

P.S.  Oh dear … brooding about the “road to nowhere” again. The Sydney Biennale this year took its theme from science-fiction writer William Gibson: “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed”. We are entitled to be recognised for our share.

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