The 1950s and 60s were a boom time for new suburbs in Perth. When my brother and his family moved from Gwalia to the city they bought a three-bedroom fibro-house (cement sheet) in Nollamara. It was one of the new booming suburbs filled with families. The kids did not need to play in the street; there was plenty of room in the backyard of the quarter-acre block on which the house sat. My brother’s house was in Hillsborough Drive and was built on the upper-side of the street. There were about half-a dozen wooden steps leading up to the front door and from the partially closed-in smallfront verandah you looked-back over the roof tops to the skyline of Perth – which, at night, twinkled like a magical city.
The back yard was enormous. There was a magnificent grapevine on the back fence, a giant lemon tree, a ladened orange tree, a chook house in the corner, and, of course in the centre of the yard, the ubiquitous Hill’s hoist. The entire block – except for a strip of black sand at the bottom of the block – was covered in verdant grass, which had to been mowed every second week. In the summer months, the sprinkler was turned on in the early morning and moved throughout the day. At the front of the house was a large rose bed which, in the heat of Perth, grew in profusion. It was a very agreeable location which was well served by a large shopping centre – one of the first of its kind – and the famous John Barleycorn Hotel.
What was Hillsborough Drive is now just a memory. The fibro houses have been demolished, the blocks have been subdivided and built-out with units and town houses, and the lemon trees and the grapevines have been ripped-out of the ground. There are no rose beds, just the occasional decorative plant – strategically placed. No-one has the time to be bothered
with lawns and rose beds. The couch and buffalo grass has been replaced by yards and yards of fancy paving.
In recent months, I have been reminded of ‘what was’ as I have tried to buy a grapevine to give as a Christmas present. It was proving nigh on impossible to find some of the older varieties which I ate as child: Wortley Hall, black and red Prince, Waltham Cross, Ladyfinger, Sweetwater – which were Beria’s favourites –and of course, black and white Muscatels which grew in the goldfields. The bunches hung on the vines heavy and pendulous. Biting into the grape and bursting the skin was an explosion of taste which I have never forgotten.
For whatever reason, the seeded varieties of grapes are less popular. Everyone, it seems, wants seedless grapes. I cannot imagine eating grapes without seeds. I was much encouraged, and most excited, when I found a wholesale nursery in Perth, Boogaards in Wanneroo, which is currently propagating their summer range of seeded White Muscat, Ladyfinger, Wortley Hall, Red Emperor, Cardinal, and Red Globe. The vines are sold through various gardening and hardware stores. I have been less successful finding a similar outlet in Victoria.
You may recall, Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce was most concerned that, should Australia legalise same sex marriage, Indonesia might think we were decadent.
Senator Abetz, for whom I have no regard, suggested that, in such matters, Australia should take its lead from our Asian neighbours. Given that same sex relationships are illegal in Indonesia, one can only assume that Senator Abetz is a supporter of that belief. According to Abetz, who also suggested there was research from the 1950s which indicated a link between abortion and breast cancer – this is the Asian century for Australia.
Following Mr. Joyce’s ridiculous utterance on television, Indonesia’s foreign ministry dismissed the suggestion that relations with Australia could be affected if same-sex marriage were legalised in Australia. Indonesian Spokesman, Arrmanatha Nasir, said the issue was one for the Australian Government as it was an issue of Australian law: “I think that’s an issue that has to be decided by the government, or the authority, that’s discussing this issue,” he said. “Because, as I understand it, is a national legislation, national rules and legislation … and it has nothing to do with … our national law.”
Not a word from Mr. Joyce since the statement was issued. Had they concurred he would have been crowing from the rooftops!
Australian cattle producers have been told Indonesia will only allow 50,000 head of cattle to be imported into the country between July and September, down from 250,000 the previous quarter. A spokesman for Mr. Joyce said while the Australian Government respected Indonesia’s right to make the decision, it was “disappointed”.
Perhaps if Mr. Joyce concentrated a little more on the detail of his own portfolio, and less on looking for a headline for himself, this situation might not have come to pass.