Thursday, January 21, 2010

Strawberry Fields Forever

Lewd Bob and his brother Fanta and I grew up a few minutes walk from a stunning and relatively untouched piece of bushland that spans many hectares right in the middle of the suburbs of Melbourne. The bushland is still one of those 'local secret' places, rarely mentioned anywhere, but much loved by those who live within cooee of it. My family in particular has a long history with the bushlands as there's a national trust cottage at one end of the bush that my great-grandfather helped build in the late 1800's. My grandfather insisted that the tracks through the bush were made by him as a kid when he delieverd eggs to the tenant of the cottage.

Lewd Bob, Fanta and I grew up in that bushland. We seemed to be there every possible day. It was back in the days before 'stranger danger'. We'd have breakfast, and head to the dense bushlands and spend all day there, coming home maybe for lunch, but definitely tea. We started going there alone when we were about 8 years old. It was more than a mile from our homes. As we got older, it also became the place for underage drinking at night, one's early pash experiments with equally awkward girls, and then as we got even older, it became our strawberry fields. Only happy memories.

I hadn't been there for years, but last week I found myself with time to kill in Melbourne and thought I'd go for a walk through the bushland. There's now a freeway going under it and I'd heard that it sounded different these days... some of the birds that were the soundtrack of my childhood had just flown away, forever. I knew it would make me sad.

It certainly did sound and feel different, and it saddened me. But what angered me was the fucking nanny state faggot cunty interference of I don't know who but they can get rooted who put fences up. Fences? All the paths of our youth were closed... so you can't cross the creek. Fuck, we used to walk in the creek, and race icy-pole sticks down it. We walked alongside it for miles and regularly fell in and that was all part of the growing-up process. Now for our 'safety' they are all closed. We're breeding a nation of soft cocks.

For instance... look at this cliff in the distance.

We were early teenagers and Fanta said, "I bet I can climb that cliff." Lewd Bob and I offered $1 each if he could, which was a lot of money back then. It was like a whole week's pocket money. But we were confident we wouldn't have to pay out because it's impossible to climb with bare hands.

So anyway, up went Fanta. He got about 4/5ths of the way and then got stuck. He was stuck there for a while. He couldn't go up, or down. Lewd Bob and I started to worry, so we offered him $1 each if he could get down safely, as well as make it to the top safely. Fortunately we got to keep our money because Fanta promptly fell off the cliff, smashing many bones and falling unconscious at the base of the cliff, seemingly dead.

I whipped into action. I ran. I ran through the creek at the deep spot and ran to the road and waved down a truck with three people in it and explained that my friend died and they must come immedately. They came running with me and luckily, Fanta was not dead at all, just smashed up. They drove him home and from there he was taken to the hospital.

I have two things to say about this. One - I was a 13 year old boy waving down a truck and I wasn't abducted and raped.

Two - If I was thirteen today and had to run to the road from that cliff I wouldn't have to run through the creek, because they have built this fucking ugly thing at the point I ran across:

There's concrete paths there! They've actually paved my grandfather's tracks! And made dainty wooden bridges with fucking signs! Sigh. It's soft, and killing our imaginations, all this OH&S obsession and public liability and gentrifying ancient and primitive wonders and it shits me. Just cos some retard once broken an ankle falling into a creek do we all have to suffer? Look, I like my creature comforts as much as the next lapsed Goth, but hell, bush is bush. Let the kids have what we had in that suburb... bushland, not a park for soft-cocks.

Here's a view of the 'beach' (where they've built a shaded 'seat' for retards... we used to sit on logs!).

We buried a time capsule there when we were 10-ish. We filled a large glass jar with posessions and notes and planned to go back to the spot in twenty years' time. Thing is, we buried it in sand. We went back the next day and it was already gone.

Here's one of the 'slides' (it's steeper than it looks). It's just a hill with heaps of leaves, pine needles and hidden rocks. We scrambled up the top then slid back down, smashing into tree roots and branches and rocks and were attacked by strange dogs and we went home covered in cuts, bites and dirt. It's fenced off now.

I know I know.. I could just go walking in the real bush, but hell, this was a rare gem in the suburbs. We spent thousands of hours of our childhood in that place and there wasn't a fence or paved path to be found. It was big enugh to always find some place new. You could walk everywhere, fall everywhere and if you didn't go home injured in some way it meant you didn;t try hard enough. It really was a beautiful place hidden in the suburbs where kids like us could experience a bit of bush, and now, it's just a park with a lot of trees.

Mind you... I like everything else about the modern world.


Alex said...

Not saying it's right to have done it for any reason, but is there a chance that this has less to do with protecting soft children and more to do with making the area more accessible and inviting for soft old people?

Puss In Boots said...

You can't blame the government for shit like this a lot of the time. Blame litigative nobs who don't want to accept personal responsibility for themselves. They fall down a path, break an ankle, and decide it's anyone else's fault but their own. So they sue the council, and the council is forced to pave the paths and put up fences to stop more taxpayer money being paid out to morons.

The civil liability acts brought about by the Ipp Report are a great start in forcing people to take personal responsibility, but unfortunately, the USA has a huge influence on people over here. Most Australians don't realise we don't have juries on personal injury trials though. They think they can sue and get rich. They don't realise you actually have to quantify your loss properly.

Mad Cat Lady said...

Growing up in the country was a joy. We had a dam and a forest with patches of massive boulders and vines to swing on and we could do anything we wanted as long as we came back when called. We were taught the dangers of snakes and to keep still if one saw one.

I could not be that kind of mother in a suburb. I would want my children to be in sight at all times in case somebody tried to take them.

You were very lucky boys.

Dr. Golf said...

Ever been to Laughing Waters near Eltham? Hidden gem. Don't tell anyone though. If too many people start showing up the hippie chicks might cease with their toplessness.

Pers, Im seeing Buck 65 tomorrow night.

WitchOne said...

We had a place like that in Carrum, it was a building site but where they hadn;t started building the rest of the estate was all Tee Tree forest.

We fell off unfinished house roofs, built cubbies and rode our bikes over stupidly high stacks of lumber, only to fall off or crash or something.

That forest is gone now. THey finished building the housing estate which is tenanted mainly by the unemployed so they can breed more unemployed.

Perseus said...

Golf: I sure have. Spent many days, weeks, hanging out there in my early 20's. I had some hippy mates that lived in a house on Laughing Waters Rd and so I got to know the area quite well.

Buck 65... awesome.

Daniel Johnston is playing here soon.

Lewd Bob said...

That Laughing Waters Rd hippy retreat is where Brett Walker masturbated a horse.

Perseus said...

Who's Brett Walker?

And he what whatted?

eat my shorts said...

It sucks when something awesome like that from your childhood changes. The farmland where I grew up is all forestry pine plantations now. Our old house is still there, but some of them have been demolished to make way for more rows of pine trees. It's weird when you drive past a bunch of building ruins & think, "Oh, old Mrs Such-and-such used to live there, she made ace scones with raspberry jam."

Lewd Bob said...

Who's Brett Walker?

It's code for someone else. You know. That bloke.

And he what whatted?

Yeah, you heard right.

Perseus said...

"It's code for someone else. You know. That bloke..."

Um, Brad Sprinter?

Lewd Bob said...

Don't be ridiculous.

catlick said...

This blog notes the mollycoddling of kids in a litigious world.

patchouligirl said...

I grew up in Burraloo St, Frenchs Forest (Sydney). At the top and bottom of our street was bush when I first moved there aged 5, and bushfires were a real concern. The top (Wearden Rd) is still bush and you used to be able to see the Bahai temple in the distance from there. There was also a quarry at the end of Wearden Rd and we would go there to catch tadpoles. The quarry had a closed gate which we ignored and we had the odd encounter with "Mr Brown" who used to sit in his ute and drink beer and guard the track occasionally and not very effectively. We would wait until he was asleep and sneak around him. By the time I moved away 9 years later there were already a few homes under construction at the bottom of the street but beyond that it was all bush and horse riding tracks. You could follow them all the way to Oxford Falls and we used to take picnics (read: chips and lollies) and had cubby houses in various spots. I remember being shocked some years ago when I saw that most of the area has now been built on. It is frightening how quickly and easily they can erase all the trees, tracks, rocks and watercourses and whack down Masterton homes.

I'm glad we are now in a more rural area and my son will grow up not only playing in the bush, but enjoying fishing and boating on Lake Macquarie because I know how culturally important it is to be able to relate to nature. It is sad that so many kids don't get to understand this and end up viewing nature as only an obstacle.

Leilani said...

Hey Catlick, I just ordered her book after reading an interview with the author.