Five into three

Mathematics. A language I don’t speak. I decided to stop learning it when I was 15 and two years later I reaped the rewards of my decision when I failed pure mathematics with a stunning mark of 49 per cent. But now I am faced with an extra tricky mathematical problem at home. I have to solve it somehow. We need to make five go into three. Thirty years ago, people could figure this out easily. They knew how to make five go into three. They made seven go into three. Or nine go into three. A friend was part of that equation. She was one of seven sisters and they lived in a three-bedroom house. The parents shared one room and there were two sets of bunks in each of the others. Four in one room, three in the other and one bed spare for guests. But expectations have changed. Bunks are alright for beach houses, so I hear, or for a cabin on a school camp but not for the home of a middle-class child. No. Now a house must have a bedroom for every child. A child needs privacy. They need space. They need built-in storage systems to house their massive toy collections, their keyboards and their music stands. A teenaged child appears to have special needs in this regard. Their bedrooms need study nooks or better still a big desk with a swivel chair parked under it and a filing cabinet on wheels beneath and shelving for their extensive private libraries. They need a spare bed so their friends can stay the night. Quite a few of them even need their own bathroom. I mean, fancy making a child share a toilet with another human being? It’s cruel. When they get a bit older, they need space and privacy so their boyfriends and girlfriends can stay. Apparently, that’s up to us to provide that too. Our three-bedroom house is about ten square. It has one bathroom, one kitchen, one lounge, one hallway and one sauna (not functioning, filled with camping gear). By today’s standards it’s a mega-tiny but the Finnish bricklayer who built it in 1960 thought it was enough for his wife and five children. We only have three kids but already the house is bursting or so we think or so we are told. I share a room with Mike. I’ve done this for 20 years now. I get a bit sick of it occasionally but what can I do? We’re expected to share. Two of the kids share and one has their own little palace. We’ve made them take turns sharing. Not an especially popular decision but there you go. That’s life for now. At least our kids are all the same sort: girls. People who have boys and girls are under even more pressure to provide each one with their own bedroom. I grew up in a family that reached a peak capacity of 11 people and no we did not have a ten-bedroom house. We shared. Well, the others did but I was lucky, as the oldest one, to have my own room from about age 10 onwards. This experience was an aberration. I left home at 18 and shared a double room with another girl at a university hostel. I went flatting and had my own room for a couple of years but soon enough I was sharing again. In London I reverted to my childhood and shared a house with ten others. I don’t think all this sharing has made me a more generous person. I am not especially tolerant or accepting but there’s something about closeness that is good. Isn’t there? Or maybe I am just saying all this stuff because we can’t afford a four-bedroom house and the thought of smashing apart the house we already have feels crass and barbaric. Plus, also, expensive. I know that even being able to make these statements is a sign of my privilege as a middle-class home-owning person but still, I’ve got my equations to think about. Five into three, five into three, just let it be!

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James Turrell yes, Matthew Barney no

We had reached Treasure Island, a caravan park between Hobart’s two main attractions: MONA and the Cadbury factory. The white chimneys of the chocolate factory could be seen to the left on the next headland. In the buildings beneath, oompa loompas toiled in secret. No tours anymore due to boring old health and safety regulations but the rest of my family did enjoy an educational talk on how the caramel is inserted into the belly of the famous koalas.

I was informed that chocolate is a health food. “There is a cup and a half of milk in every block, mum.”

In fact, we were all enjoying a healthy snack as we drove into Treasure Island. Mike went down the hill to check out the camping spots by the water. On the headland to our right was MONA (David Walsh’s Museum of Old and New Art). We could see grapevines, a car park, a wall and a strange metal platform on the summit.

Between us and art museum was another facility. What could it be? I checked out the security fence, the barbed wire and the several large vat-like objects and all of a sudden I knew.

“Tell me that’s not a sewage treatment plant,” I said to myself. I was very familiar with the treatment plant near our house in Altona (see previous post ‘How to make a forest’) and recognised various common architectural features, including the discrete signage and the tanks.

At that exact stink moment, a man buzzed up to us on his a ride on mower. He worked at the Island.

“Does the plant smell?”

“Not really. Only for 30 seconds at a time,” he said.

“So it’s a bit like a fart?” Mike said.

“Yeah, a really long fart.”

We drove back up the hill, away from the plant, and put the tent up. Our spot was exceptionally beautiful. The Derwent River sparkled below us. At dusk, fish leapt from the water. Gulls, ducks and oyster-catchers flew past. I couldn’t’ smell anything except for the bacon that the French backpackers were frying at the camp kitchen.

Up on the hill at MONA, the weird platform had started to glow. It was the most extraordinary lilac. Then it went green. Then dark purple.


The next day we went to museum. Unfortunately, American artist Matthew Barney’s ‘River of Fundament’ stuff occupied the entire bottom floor. None of us could connect with it. The film that the stuff had been part of wasn’t on that day. Who cared? It was almost six hours long and I’d read it featured a lot of poo. Site specific, sure, but not really my thing.

However, keep an open mind about art. Be receptive. Don’t judge too quick. I began to lecture my family.

In 2003, I had seen a Barney retrospective at the Guggenheim and I thought if I shared a few highlights they might show more interest in the gold turds on display in Hobart.

I mentioned the trough of dripping Vaseline that spiraled down the famous white space, the room lined with black rubber that contained live pigeons and their shit, the enormous video screen playing footage of a thrash metal band and the image of Barney in a kilt with a bleeding rabbit hanging from in his mouth. And then there was the movie with the grid iron players arranged in the formation of fallopian tubes and then there was footage of the artist in a luge and did you know that Matthew Barney is married to Bjork and she is this really cool singer from a country called Iceland…

No one even told me to shut up. They just walked away.

I was left alone with a mummy and sickle and a bit of rope.

We cheered up watching the video installation of 23 Madonna fans singing the entire Immaculate Conception album but the true joy arrived for me later that night when I walked back up the hill to MONA.

The platform we had noticed the night before was actually an installation by American artist James Turrell. Skyspace comes on at dawn and dusk. It had just opened the week we were there and I lay back on a bean bag and watched the sky turn green and then brown and then black in reaction to the changing colours of the ceiling that surrounded it.

God it was so beautiful. Turrell had framed the sky. Ambitious, gorgeous, the sky was peacock blue, then it turned brown like a bit of milk chocolate and then I remembered what had happened the night before our holiday, how the plaster in our bedroom had sagged dramatically and how it was now being held in place by a large piece of wood and several long poles. I sincerely hoped that we would not be greeted by a more organic ‘skyspace’ when we got home to Melbourne.



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How to make a forest

C1070-IC415616p4Artist Richard Thomas took this photo (above and the following two) almost 17 years ago at the sewage treatment plant on Queens Street, Altona.

He was documenting the installation of Agnes Denes’ art work, ‘A Forest for Australia’, a sculpture made from 6000 native trees planted in five intersecting spirals on a 400-metre x 80-metre site.  As you can see, it was flat and barren; just a paddock of dried up grass and weak soil near a lagoon filled with waste.  Thirteen million litres of sewage is treated here each day.

It’s hard to think of a site more removed from the white cube of the contemporary art gallery. The place was abject, toxic, fenced off, concealed, denuded yet Agnes Denes and some volunteers saw the potential. This soil could be a canvas. Why not?

C1070-IC415616p3A bucket, a watering can, a spade, a sun hat, a strong pair of boots, some seedlings, this is all an artist needs. A strong back helps too, a bit of stamina.


Here is Agnes Denes herself, aged 67. She’s standing in front of the forest she imagined. Each peg would be a tree. She’s watered the soil, furrowed it. The gleam of silver in the background is the sewage treatment pond. You’d never know to look at it.

The lagoon is empty now; the sewage is treated in a massive tank instead. Gulls flap over the thick brown soup that comes from 20,000 houses, shops, offices and factories in Point Cook, Altona and Laverton. The surface of the tank is criss-crossed with silver walkways.

Engineers do the dirty work for us. Some of the shit is recycled. It waters the Kooringal golf course just next door and the one down at Sanctuary Lakes. The rest is treated and goes out into the bay.I have so much respect for the people who work at this plant. They face the deep shit that the rest of us don’t want to think about.

Perhaps this is what artists do too.


Look at what Agnes Denes has made here (I took this photo and the ones below). Look at these trees. They have survived a drought. Many have died but a surprising number are doing well; the paper barks are a solid green outer circle on all five of the spirals. The red gums and she oaks are less resilient but many are now well established and so beautiful.


I have been researching this art work for the past few months. You can read my article about it in The Age here.

I’ve been lucky to visit the forest three times and it has transformed the way I see this part of Melbourne – my neighbourhood – but it has also challenged me to think very differently about all sorts of shit, including trees, public art, gardening, memory, climate change and more.


I’m hopeful that this year City West Water may provide some public access to the site so that others can also enjoy this astonishing piece of land art. Watch this space!

Meanwhile, a friend alerted me to Fiona Hall’s spiral fern garden at the National Gallery of Australia. It was made in 1998, the same year Denes planted her forest in Altona. Hall planted 58 mature Dicksonia antarcticatree ferns 2.6 metres tall in the gallery’s sculpture garden. This spiral is rather better maintained than the one in Melbourne.


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The big M (Dark Horse)

M stands for mother. M stands for Māori. M stands for mature audiences. Hmmm.

On Sunday, I took my middle child to see an M-rated film, Dark Horse. The review I read in The Age described Dark Horse as possibly the best thing to come out of New Zealand since Lee Tamahori’s Once Were Warriors (1994). It got four stars.

The film was based on the true story of Genesis Potini, an awesome Ngāti Porou man with bi-polar disorder who taught thousands of East Coast kids to play chess. It starred Cliff Curtis as Genesis – in a performance that was ‘mesmerising’ – and also James Rolletson (from Taika Waititi’s Boy).

I was in. As the mother of three Australian-born children of Taranaki and Te Ati Awa descent, I eagerly seek out Māori treasures that I can share with them; things they can enjoy, be proud of and learn from.

It was an added bonus that the film promised to be triumph of the underdog sort of a story. I really love this kind of thing, especially if it involves a sports team. Chess is not strictly speaking a sport but there was the promise of a tournament so it would do.

I looked up some stories too. The Listener said ‘think Once Were Warriors meets Shine’. Another said it was like A Beautiful Mind. Did I read something about Rain Main meets Jake Heke and teaches him how to do that move when you swap your rooks around? No, I did not but you get the picture. Or do you?

I did not. I blanked out the gang stuff, in particular the mention of a character called Mutt who was described as one of the most terrifying men you would see on screen. I ignored these hints and imagined a feel-good film about a chess guru who triumphs over mental illness to mentor cute but disadvantaged kids.

My daughter is still at primary school. There were several young ones her age on screen but none in the audience at Melbourne’s Kino cinema. She the only tamariki there; probably she was the only person not born in New Zealand.

The New Zealand diaspora is massive. There is such a hunger to hear voices and places from home. We were all there, waiting for a feed.

I began to cry in the opening scene. It was just so outstanding and then to hear Cliff Curtis’ beautiful, rapid reo as his fat hands manipulated the chess pieces, well I was in heaven.

This feeling would have continued, even with all the menace and cruelty, if I was not hyper aware of the child sitting next to me. Bad mother. Bad, bad mother. Why had I picked this film out for her?

It wasn’t the rating that was the problem. The M did not put me off. Heaps of stuff made for ‘immature’ audiences is rated M. Half the Harry Potters were M. The Hunger Games is M. The Avengers films are M. My kids have seen them all.

My other half loves pretty much anything that involves a super hero, a gun and a lot of explosions and the girls share his enthusiasm.

These films are all violent but it is ‘fantasy violence’. The bad stuff is not real. It’s just a game. The violence is part of the entertainment. It’s a joke, a simulation, a trick. In Dark Horse, the violence is not a joke. It is the centre of the story, the inescapable fact that has shaped the lives of the two damaged men we see on screen; the staunch older brother Ariki (Wayne Hapi) and the seemingly softer younger one Genesis. The violence of drinking, the violence of drugs, the violence of kicking and punching, the violence of poverty, the violence of hunger, the violence of history, the violence of psychosis, the violence of having nothing and no one, it’s all there.

Is it bad that a child sees violence for what it actually is?

Is it bad that my daughter has seen how a child can ultimately be saved from violence not by some idiotic, ironic superhero with a magic axe but by a soft-voiced, half-mad poet in tracksuit pants, a yellow sweatshirt and a long cardy?

Is it bad for a kid to see that intellectual struggles and achievement, the mastery of something as complex and cerebral as chess, can be as thrilling and transformative as the mastery of a sport?

‘A king for a king,’ she said to me the day after we saw the film. She had taken that line in. She got what that meant. Unforgettable scene. Dark Horse was a big M but I reckon my little darling was up to it.

That said, I may hold off on taking the kids to The Dead Lands, ‘a Māori-style Game of Thrones’, an epic tale of vengeance that is being described as the first ever Māori marital arts film!

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Eye to eye with Ettie Rout


Image: Passport photograph of Ettie Rout, 1918. Photographer unidentified. Collection of the Alexander Turnbull Library, New Zealand. Ref: PAColl-4832. 

I’ve been looking at this face for months. It belongs to Ettie Rout. She was born in Tasmania in 1877 but raised in New Zealand from the age of eight. I’ve examined her hair and her eyes. I’ve pondered her broach, the weird wrinkle of her collar, the shape of her mouth.

I’ve read Jane Tolerton’s excellent biography. I’ve read scholarly essays. I’ve read feature stories. I’ve read the pithy biography on Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand. I’ve searched her up on Trove, Papers Past, the Cenotaph database and the Australian National War Memorial. I’ve downloaded the war photos, the journalism photos and the body beautiful ones. I’ve watched the episode from the TV series.

I’ve been to the State Library and ordered some of her books from the stacks. They’re odd but also awesome.

Take Whole-Meal With Practical Recipes. The book came out in 1927. Sir William Arbuthnot Lane wrote the foreword. I did not make that name up.

‘Mrs Ettie A Hornibrook has, at my urgent request, written a pamphlet on the subject on Whole-meal and Whole-meal Products, which will supply to the Public just such information as will afford them a basis upon which to form their own conclusions as to the benefits of Whole-meal and the terrible damage to health that is being inflicted on the community by White Flour products,’ Sir W begins.

The capital letters are in the original. White Flour, Sir W says, is ‘the chief factor in the production of disease and particularly of cancer, and in the deterioration of the physique and health of our nation’.

Rout summed the menace up thus:

The Whiter the Bread,

The sooner you’re Dead.

Sir W suggested her ditty should be hung ‘in a conspicuous position in every home and in every baker’s shop’. My mum would have bought one! White flour did not enter our kitchen in the 1970s or even the 1980s. The new millennium has bought no softening on the ban either.

Another of Rout’s books was Safe Marriage: A Return to Sanity. It was published in 1922 and banned, immediately, in New Zealand (where marriage had to be unsafe and insane, presumably?)

Sir W wrote the preface for this one too. ‘To no woman has it been permitted to do the same amount of good, and to save more misery and suffering, both during and after the war, than to Miss Ettie Rout. Her superhuman energy and indomitable perseverance enabled her to perform, in the most efficient manner possible, a work which few woman would care to handle and to which but an infinitesimally small number are capable.’

Rout then kicked off the text proper with her trademark subtlety.

‘At present marriage is easily the most dangerous of all our social institutions. This is partly due to the colossal ignorance of the public in regard to sex, and partly due to the fact that marriage is mainly controlled by lawyers and priests instead of women and doctors,’ she wrote.

I could go on with many more fabulous quotes from the land of Rout but I’ll save the juicy stuff for the talk I’m giving (along with three other historians) at Melbourne Museum on Sunday 26 October. The event is called No Place for a Woman. It’s been organised by the Professional Historians Association and all the speakers are proud members.

I had to blurt out a few long quotes here because our talks are so short. No more than ten minutes. I’ve had to condense all my research into about 1300 words. It’s been a hell of a process: submit a 100-word pitch; audition with a three-minute script and pictures; submit draft script of no more than 800 words; get paired with coach; revise script; perform script for coach; revise again; and perform again with images and archival film. On Monday, there’s a run through ‘a voice artist’. I know, I want that job title too.

I reckon my script is coming along. I can look Ettie in the eyes but I’ve got to do some more work on tone, pace, volume, riffs and preemptive chuckles before I get the final nod from my amazing, demanding coach, Museum Victoria curator Bec Carland! Thanks Bec. You’ve forced me to really see Ettie for who she was and I’m looking forward to sharing these insights next weekend.


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Reading the paper

If you want to understand something about the future of newspapers in Australia and New Zealand, you need to go to the source: the paper itself.

In April 2014, the Federal Government’s Anti-Dumping Commission announced it would investigate the alleged dumping of newsprint exported to Australia from Korea and France. Norwegian multi-national Norske Skog, who owns the three remaining newsprint mills in Australia and New Zealand, complained that ‘dumped’ newsprint had caused ‘material injury’ to Australian industry. Prices were down, sales were down, profits had fallen.

Those of us who still read printed newspapers will be aware that imports may be one of many reasons that the newsprint manufacturer is feeling the pinch. You can touch Norske Skog’s problem. You can see it. The pile of newspapers sold in newsagents is shrinking and individual papers are shrinking too.

Yet when I interviewed Norske Skog executives in early 2013, they denied that Fairfax’s plans to turn its broadsheets into compacts would have much of an impact on business. There was still a future for newsprint and for newspapers.

The public record for the commission’s inquiry tells a different story, one that affirms but also challenges what the executives told me 18 months ago.

In its submission, rival global newsprint giant Bowater Korea states the obvious: ‘The single most important factor impacting Norkse Skog’s viability is the global decline in demand for newsprint, which is beyond Norske Skog (and the Commission’s) control.’

The submission noted that in 2013 Norske Skog had extended its contracts with News Limited and Fairfax beyond 2015 until the end of 2020. It is difficult to imagine the weekday Age or the broadsheet Australian staggering on as printed papers six years from now but both publishers appear committed to putting some ink on paper for at least another five years.

Norske Skog’s complaints of a surge in imported newsprint referred to contracts West Australian Newspapers had negotiated with newsprint suppliers in Korea and France, Bowater’s submission said. Likewise, Australian Provincial Newspapers (APN) had also switched from Australian or New Zealand-made newsprint to imported stuff.

An appendix to this submission is the Pulp and Paper Products Council’s Supply and Demand Newsprint report (April 2014). Perhaps there are other newspaper nerds out there who will find this report as fascinating as I did.

Between 1995 and 2013, the demand for newsprint rose in Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, China, India, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam.

But demand plummeted elsewhere, including ‘Oceania’ – Australia, New Zealand and Pacific nations. In our part of the world demand fell from 648,000 metres in 2008 to 387,000 metres in 2013.

As with the unfolding collapse in printing, the consequences of the collapse in demand for paper are yet to be fully appreciated.

Paper-making uses huge amounts of power and water. In late 2012, Norske Skog’s mill in New Zealand was churning through as much power as 20,000 households. It was the country’s second biggest power consumer (after the aluminium smelter at Tiwai). What impact is the collapse in the manufacturing of newsprint and other types of paper going to have on power prices? How might it be linked with the current over-supply of power in Australia?

Then there are the jobs.

In early 2013, Norske Skog shut a paper machine at its mill in Kawerau in the central North Island of New Zealand, a move that cost 110 jobs in a tiny community. One machine remains and no one is talking about even a medium-term future for newsprint manufacturing up there.

In Australia, Norske Skog makes newsprint at mills in Albury and Boyer, in Tasmania. It has one newsprint machine left at each site.  A second newsprint machine at Boyer has been converted into one that makes lightweight coated paper (the sort of paper used in advertising catalogues and some magazines). The $85 million conversion was funded by Norske Skog and state and federal government grants. Until this machine opened, Australia imported most of its coated paper from Japan.

In the 1980s, 1500 people worked at the Boyer mill. There are 270 left there and 185 at Albury yet each mill supports thousands of other jobs in forestry, transport and more.

About 1000 people work at the Australian Paper mill in Maryvale, Gippsland (manufacturers of office paper rather than newsprint). The mill is the region’s biggest private sector employer but the company and Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) have argued it is threatened by cheap imports.

Last month, the Anti-Dumping Commission terminated its inquiry into the alleged dumping of copy paper exported from China, finding that any dumping was ‘negligible’.

The commission is still investigating newsprint. What they call a Statement of Essential Facts will be published on its website by the end of October. After further public submissions, a final recommendation will go to Bob Baldwin, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Industry Minister before mid-December.

How will they read the paper?

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No one spoke for the lions


Image above: ‘Melbourne Zoo’, 1 photographic print : stereograph, gelatin silver ; 8.8 x 16.6 cm, creator N.J. Claire 1837-1918, State Library of Victoria, H2014.184/129

NO MORE lazy lions at Melbourne Zoo! The heritage-listed 1967 Lion Park has been demolished. A Predator Precinct, housing African lions, African wild dogs and Philippines crocodiles, will replace it.

The precinct will have it all: ‘a habitat-led immersive environment’; ‘a close-up and habitat-immersed visitor animal viewing points (utilizing animal containment options such as moats, specialized glazing and mesh) in lieu of overhead viewing’; comfortable, naturalistic environments’; ‘upgraded holding and care facilities’; ‘integrated and accessible circulation paths’; and ‘a new multi-function visitor centre’.

Cages are out and ‘animal containment options’ are in. Gawping is out too. Rather, visitors will be immersed in the predators’ habitats, their ‘comfortable, naturalistic environments’.

The quotes come from Zoos Victoria’s Heritage Impact Statement. The 13-page statement, submitted to Heritage Victoria in December 2013, acknowledged that the Lion Enclosure was innovative when it opened almost 50 years ago because, for the first time, it was the visitors who were put in a cage.

The entire Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens (at Elliott Avenue, Royal Park since 1860) is on the Victorian Heritage Register because of its ‘social, historic, architectural and scientific significance to the State of Victoria’ but the Lion Enclosure was one of several structures singled out in the Heritage Victoria report as an especially significant example of mid to late twentieth century zoo buildings and structures. It had its own code: Registered Heritage Place H1074 B10. The Orang-utan and Monkey House ‘now retained without animals as “historic” buildings’, the Octagonal Aviary and the Giraffe House also get a mention.

Perhaps your memories of the Lion Park are as intense as mine? You walked up the stairs or ramp to a concrete bridge that was enclosed in wire mesh. You were confined – often squashed between multiple double-prams, picnic hampers and menacing toddlers high on Tiny Teddies and Paddle Pops – while down below the lions roamed free. Or, as was more often the case, lay on their sides in the sun, a golden pile of magnificence, unbothered by us silly humans suspended in our ugly cage above them.

I loved it. The dynamic felt right. We humans were cramped up in a little cage, but the animals luxuriated in the scrubby grass. The lion’s share of the zoo went to the lions! The King of the Jungle, Aslan, the beast whose name is code for bravery and great strength, whose collective noun is pride, whose den tested Daniel, we deserved to be caged next to such an animal.

No more. The dignity of distance is dated. Now the zoo’s mission is to provide ‘powerful experiences that facilitate emotional connections between visitors and wildlife’.

I became aware of plans for the Predator Precinct when I clipped out a display ad from The Age late last year. It said Zoos Victoria had lodged an application with Heritage Victoria seeking permission ‘under Section 67 of the Heritage Act’ to demolish the Lion Park. People had 14 days to respond.

I meant to follow this up but never did. Then I took two of my children to the zoo and we saw that the park had already gone. All that is left is the sign. I contacted Heritage Victoria to ask for copies of public submissions but there were none. No one spoke for the lions or their old home, once so progressive, now old hat.

Indeed, I read that the zoo considered the Lion Park an ‘expired’ asset, a place that had ‘reached the end of its asset lifecycle and poses constraints on the ability to optimize animal enrichment, visitor enjoyment and day to day operations’.

As the zoo’s impact statement explained: ‘The current Lion Bridge, whilst novel at the time, does not foster close up views. Even the perspective of “looking down” on animals is no longer favoured in the zoo industry. Instead, exhibits that bring visitors to the same level as the animals, where their size, strength and key features are apparent are preferred’.

I’m sure the new precinct will be better for staff and animals but I am also disturbed by how quickly history is being erased at the zoo and how many assumptions are hidden in the appalling gobbledegook of the impact statement.

The old lion bridge could hold too few people. It got congested. Visitors had to go slowly along it. But slowness is a problem when you have 1.2 million visitors a year. ‘All zoo precincts are being developed as one-way paths as a key strategy in moving large volumes of visitors through the zoo,’ the document says.

‘Melbourne Zoo is committed to celebrating its history,’ is a phrase that appears twice in the impact statement and in bold type too. There is absolutely no evidence of this commitment right now. In fact, the zoo appears to be determined to erase the past rather than celebrate or even acknowledge it. The Lion Park was beautiful. The Lion Park is gone. We have been let out of our cage and a ‘variety of close-up and habitat-immersed visitor animal viewing points’ awaits us.

Image below: ‘Lion in Royal Park Melbourne’, 1860-1930, from a collection of lantern slides compiled by Roger Holdsworth, State Library of Victoria, H2012.90/77 


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