Saturday, February 21, 2009

Never Say Never

I know some time ago I said I would not be making any more forest/view from my window quilts? Wrong. I had to make another one as I had put it in for the Tutors exhibition at AQC ( which I must admit had slipped my mind) when I sold the piece earlier this year. Moving house was an expensive exercise and so I was very glad when someone wanted to buy it, but it also left me with a dilemna which I discovered afterwards that I had entered it elsewhere. So I contacted AQC and they allowed me to substitute a piece so I made another View from My Window piece- simply because the view from my window is still of trees, and the afternoon sun does set behind the trees.Oh and there is still three places available in my Tifaifai class at AQC in case anyone is interested. Just follow the link for AQC.

I have been working hard - actually I got embarassed into working hard- there were several pieces I did not finish last year for my Caravanserai exhibition. They languished as so much stuff was going on in my personal life and that's what kept happening. I would think I must and then something else would happen and they simply did not get made.But last week AQC rang me up to say they had managed to snare an article in the Herlad Sun- this is one of our big daily newspapers- which is good publicity for AQC and for me. So now I had to live up to my promise.... The photographer came out yesterday and he was knocked out by the nature in my surroundings and the cat did her best to win him over- so he took lots of photos of my quilts , myself and a lovely large old gum tree in the background and with the cat who behaved like a movie actress ( and yes she is a tart!) I really dislike being photographed but it certainly was more fun knowing i was showcasing some of our fabulous scenery.

We had a community fire meeting on Thursday night as we are in a community where the risk of fire is great - there was some ok information, but most of us knew a lot of the information, but I was a bit shocked by the lack of co-ordination between say our shire and the emergency services , powercorp and the police. The shire guy talked about recovery- and yes it is good to know they have a plan- but we are more concerned about what if a fire hits here- what will we do? There is no community safe area because none of the governmental/bureaucratic bodies want to take legal responsibility for that- we were told we must wait for the police- we don't have a police officer stationed here- the nearest one is 22 kms away in Colac- the fire is likely to come from the north west- which would cut us off from Colac- and there is only one road in and one road out- which means the police are unlikely to be able to get through for a certain time in case of fire.

Then the discussion turned to closing certain roads on extreme fire danger days- but we were told by the shire that everybody was too worrried about the loss of tourist dollars so they couldn't do this. Excuse me this seems to me to show a certain lack of clear thinking......( and I am talking about extreme fire days of which we get maybe a weeks worth a year- some years more some years less)- but the tourists are more important than the communities???? And if a fire does strike there will be no more buildings part of which constitute community. And the tourists I encountered on the sunday after that fateful Saturday which was also a total fire ban day, with open fires , shows that they had a total lack of respect for the conditions or for the communities where they were visitors.

I think it is time that everyone also realised when the CFA and media forecast extreme conditions like February the 7th and a total fire ban - and the warnings were out- then that risk applies to everyone who lives in the state- not just the communities at greatest risk- stay home if you don't live in high risk areas, and if you are at risk and can't see yourself saving your house get out as early as you can before even a hint of a fire.

Also communication is a really big issue for us. Most of us with modern phones would lose the ability to phone due to power shut down which is done for safety reasons. Only old style phones would enable you to get through ( anyone have a spare one ?) we are also in a mobile blackout area because Telstra does not consider it commercially lucrative enough to put in a tower ( yet they could put in a mobile tower when the great bike ride went through a few years ago)- it was mooted and Telstra would also put in a tv repeater which the community would have to pay for ,as we also have very bad tv reception- what seems to be a basic right in much of Australia- is not possible here- even 774 ABC has dodgy reception here even with a battery operated radio.I think big companies which are supposed to provide services to a community ( for which we pay) should actually deliver those services as a matter of equity not of commercial expediency. Having to post ever bigger profits for ever greedier shareholders is not a good premise on which to deliver equitable and fair services to all communities.

There I am off my soap box.
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Aussie Jo said...

Interesting post Dijanne, which day will it be in the Herald Sun?
Re the services in rural/remote areas, a young son of a friend of ours actually set up a business to deliver mobile phone coverage in the Otways because the big firms wouldn't go there, but unfortunately the business was not financially viable and went bust. I guess if you choose to live in areas less densely populated you have to be prepared for less services or be prepared to pay extra. Lets hope we don't get too much extreme weather now.

Claire said...

It's a tricky one, getting communication in emergency situations. A radio with batteries is a good way to go.

Mobile phone and TV coverage really does come down to commercial considerations for the private companies which provide the infrastructure. If you don't have them, then radio is the only option unfortunately.

Where we have just come from... the fourth largest town in NT (pop 5000) and a major regional centre, our TV was supplied privately by one of the major companies near the town!! So when lightening struck the tower a few months ago, there was no TV for a week or so and we just had to accept it. Also the TV doesn't work when in rains!!! which is a fair bit of the time :-)

We were eligible to buy a satelite receiver and which should got us the ABC, SBS and Channel 9 and some indigenous channels. You need an optus aurora smartcard, a receiver and a satelite disk. Chris' sister was also eligible where she lives in Tasmania as it also didn't have any TV coverage until recently.

On another note, it is probably best not to rely on phones anyway, they can easily be disrupted by natural disasters. A recent cyclone event here left a whole region with no coverage for a considerable period of time. I believe this was overlooked even by the emergency planners.

Penny said...

We are also in a telstra free area, and only 10 minutes from a regional town and an hour from the city, the phone is a vital part of out business and at one stage our fax wouldnt work, and we needed it for internet banking, 9 months of continuous phone calls and finally some one came out and horror of horrors, couldnt use his mobile phone!! We are now marginally better but not much. As for digital TV for get it and when the old analog goes off I guess we will go back to listening to the wireless.
I think one of the most important things in fires, which so many forget is, find a cleared space, gravel if possible and a soaking wet wool blanket, even in the fires recently some were saved by having this.
A siren to tell you that there is a fire in your area would be useful too, you might just hear it. Better than a text message.

MargaretR said...

Look after yourself and stay safe Dijanne.

Dijanne Cevaal said...

I take on board all that has been said about mobiles, but because of the way the powercorp grid works it could create a total black hole of communication- for example our power might shut down for a fire 20 kms away-and I do think a company like Telstra has some social responsibility in this regard.And yes we are isolated, but on the other hand the town has been here for over 100 years and we used to have a railway.

We talked about sirens the othee night - it seems that sirens were taken away ( and I do rememeber us having them in the township) because people complained that the siren "disturbed" them as they did not know if it was a minor emergency or a fire....This apparently happened everywhere. Ever wondered why we never have church bells? After all church bells can be automated- but apparently we don't like the sound of bells , which I happen to think is one of the charming things about small villages in Europe.

And I won't be staying on high risk days- I doubt this property could be defended even if the whole Gellibrand CFA came to help.They are better of helping those that can be defended.

Anonymous said...

Hi! Dijanne,

This is an issue we ourselves are revisting as we always said we would stay and defend but age has caught up with us I'm 70 and hubby a little older. What we learnt from these recent Victorian fires (we are in Tassie) is that we and our cat are more important than our belongs. Our property is like yours not really defendable but we can make changes and are doing so to remove vegetation further from our house and to have a cleared area.

The questions of mobiles versus land lines is tricky, we too are a black zone for mobiles but do have a landline but they rely on a sub station 8 kls away at most which can be taken out by the fire so one can find they have no phone. I don't think Telstra knows the meaning of "social resposibilty" so I don't think one can rely that they will realize it any time soon.

My thoughts are with you as you work your way through this tricky problem.

i have sent this under anonymous as I typed it all up then realized i hadn't logged in to my Google account.


Liz said...

Hi Dijanne
sorry about taking your beautiful view quilt (well not sorry that we have it as we love it dearly). We would have been quite happy to lend it to you for the exhibition if needed to save you making another one.
Best of luck with the fire plans. My sister and her family live in the yarra valley and have just been issued with another serious alert and they have decided to stay at the moment. Her two oldest sons and her husband are in the CFA so they are pretty prepared but I do worry about her and the two young girls being on their own (as the boys are usually out on the fire truck strike teams - they've only been to "work" once in the last fortnight).
Best of luck and we'll all be thinking of you.

Liz and Philip

marion said...

I'm sure barbequed tourist would do a great deal for trade in your area... the thinking here is absurd.

Anonymous said...


Didn't you realise that tourists are the most important people in this country! They get a little upset when their mobiles don't work so perhaps we shouldn't ask for a comunication system which serves people who live outside the CBD, but one which will serve all tourists!]

I find it almost beyond belief that keeping roads open for tourists is considered by anyone on high fire risk days. Ah well, if they cought in the fire, make sure there is sauce and a slice of bread on hand!

Lin Moon said...

This quilt is so beautiful! How did you get that great effect on the tree trunks - is it a particular fabric you used? Just lovely!