Saturday, February 2, 2013


These farcical pieces have been inspired by the threat that has risen yet again, after two failures, to have a cableway built to World Heritage-listed Springbrook in the Hinterland of southeast Queensland, Australia. The senselessness of this concept can be best highlighted by considering a similar proposal for other World Heritage-listed sites that have a more tangible presence than the natural bio-diversity for which Springbrook is listed. Australians are blasé about ‘bush,’ seeing it as a no-man’s-land zone, a location appropriate for dumping trash and burning; or for the more sensitive, as a pretty retreat to use and enjoy - to develop. The outrage of this cableway proposal and its gross insensitivity may be better comprehended when transposed to other World Heritage contexts where it would never be contemplated.
For details on Springbrook see 



The World Heritage site of Uluru is to get a cableway. The spokesperson for the local elders, Cumon Koonjawarti, said that the proposal had the full support of the indigenous community.

"We are looking forward to saving the rock," said Cumon. "For years, tourists have been able to walk over and around our sacred heritage as if it was a curiosity. Now we can manage this insulting outrage."

The proposal is to construct a 'no-go' zone with a one-kilometre radius around the rock and control all access within this perimeter fence with the cableway.

"This will keep all access off the ground," said Cumon, "allowing the cable way to touch the ground lightly and respect the rock and its sacred surroundings."

"Our people want the land and its songlines valued. The rock has special meaning for us. The cableway will allow this to happen. Only our people will be allowed into the sacred zone to carry out their secret traditional business."

The development company, the Finnish giant Hugivesafuk Inc., that has reached this agreement with the local indigenous peoples, said that it has worked hard to achieve this outcome.

"We care about the rock. We plan to erect a twenty-metre tower only every two hundred metres using the latest environmental technology that we have developed. All efforts will be made to ensure the very best outcome for all."

Mr. Wecarenotatall, project manager, said that the footings for the towers needed careful environmental resolution in the desert sands so as to protect flora and fauna and the cultural stories. These will have deep piles to maintain a narrow footprint. The towers on the rock would be fixed with six metre long titanium rock anchors so as to minimise impact."

"Safety will be one of our foremost matters of concern," he added.

"We will be able to remove these structures without any impact," said the developer. "We have planned to future-proof this place."

 "The cableway will start at the tourist accommodation centre just outside of the 'no-go' zone and follow a path that avoids all songlines, sacred areas, stones and stories on its way to the rock while following these. There will be an audio to explain the cultural context. The cableway will then rise over the rock following the original walking path, without touching it, with towers only at every one hundred and fifty metres, and as required to suit the curvature, descending to complete the circuit back to the accommodation zone, arriving at the sunset viewing platform."

"Everything of importance will be avoided. All towers will be environmentally detailed in recycled steel to ensure a World Class minimal impact, and will be painted in desert colours to match the environment."

"We care" said the developer. "All impacts will be kept to a minimum. Our project will only improve Uluru and protect it for future generations while allowing easy access for the masses.”

The elders said that they were pleased to have a project that could respect their heritage so completely.

"This cableway will provide exceptional access to the rock for all, including white people, while respecting its sacred values," said Koonjarwartie. "It is very democratic. We support this unique opportunity to ensure access to the rock is sensitively controlled."

"The experience will be unique. The cable way will give access to the rock without compromising our sacred places."

The project manager noted that this special development was a win-win-win-win situation:

"The local tribes win; the tourists win; the environment wins; and the developer wins. No one can complain. Everyone will profit."

"Tourists will be able to travel unimpeded along native lands following ancient and secret songlines and rise over the rock without fear of insulting any heritage or indigenous concerns."

"It will be like riding the Rainbow Serpent," said Cumon. "We are thinking of calling it the Rainbow Serpent, or RS ride."

The local Greenpiece representative suggested that this might be so.

"Totally RS," he said.

The manager of the tourist shop at the new resort said that she was having commemorative paperweights made in the form of the rock ready for the opening of the cableway in 2018.
"It will truly be a landmark event," she said.

This piece has been inspired by the language our politicians like to use to justify even the worst of decisions: see
 This article reports on the federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke's approval of a major development on Great Keppel Island. The report notes:
The planned eco-tourism resort -- which will include a 250-room hotel, 750 villas, 600 apartments, a 250-berth marina and a Greg Norman-designed golf course -- is a scaled-down version of two earlier proposals, rejected first by the Labor state government in 2006, and by the federal government in 2009.
. . . .
"The conditions I have imposed will ensure that the outstanding universal value of the Great Barrier Reef is not diminished by this development"
The original development included three hotels with 700 rooms.

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