THERE has been a lot of talk at the Billabong lately about buying a bush block and throwing up a house. Somewhere in Gippsland would be nice, especially near the Gippsland Lakes, a location that boasts the additional advantage of being relatively close to the trout streams and bonza camping spots of the High Country’s foothills, which lie just to the north. Then again, bits of country between Ensay and Omeo, while further from the sea, are breathtakingly beautiful, and it is a relatively short and easy drive from there to the upper reaches of the Snowy River, which looks at the moment like something transplanted from Canada. Starved of water and all but ruined half a century ago by the Snowy Mountain Scheme, it is almost back to its old self, thanks to all this beautiful rain. It is wide, fast-flowing and alive with riotous stretches of white water. Along the banks there are stands of white cypress – native pine, if you will. If you bumped into Sgt Preston of the Yukon in full Mounties regalia it would come as only a mild surprise.
Whatever the final location, there is the matter of comfort to consider. Decades ago, after Jim Cairns’ 1976 hippy fest at Bredbo, the Professor put a lot of labour into the construction of some friends’ attempt to build a dwelling that went well with cheesecloth and brown rice. One of those companions is now a chartered accountant and another bought his daughter a BMW to mark her twenty-first birthday, so no guesswork is required to understand that, after a year or so, the simple and quiet life became far too simple and much too quiet. Candles, open fires and hand-pumped pressure lamps were enough in those days, which was probably just as well. Given the prevalence of higher consciousness on the property – bonging on from brekkie to beertime -- a red-eyed ratbag with hands full of live wires was the last thing the district nurse would have wished to see.
These days, well let us just say that comfort flows from a three-point plug. If you have a wicked back there are few joys to match the pleasure of sinking into a burbling hot tub, so the property-to-be will need to be wired. This is where our PM is making things needlessly complicated, as she and her predecessor have done to so many other issues. If the carbon tax goes ahead and Bob Brown, the Richelieu of Risdon, gets to shut down the LaTrobe Valley power stations, electricity will become even more expensive. It is a sad thing to consider that the mains power our grandparents took for granted is now becoming a dubious commodity, but there you have it. Primitivism is the new progress, and the punitive charges Gillard & Co intend to impose on modern life will be the offerings at its altar.
So what to do? As a general rule of thumb you can count on spending at least $10,000 to march a row of power poles from road to roost, with the odds being that the final sum will be much, much larger than that. Even then there would be no guarantees, no solid expectation that the latest green whim would not jack up the tariff once again. God only knows how business owners are coping, not that anyone in Gillard’s coven of incompetents seems to care.
After this morning’s golf, and perhaps inspired by his four-stroke victory, Dr Yowie came up with a seemingly bright idea: Why not buy a generator? Gillard is promising that there will be no tax on petrol, although whether this dispensation applies also to diesel and LPG is, like our PM, shrouded in confusion. The Yowie’s specialty is, or was, medicine, so while his science training has equipped him with better than a Bunyip’s grasp of voltages and amps and watts, he concedes he is no authority.
How big a generator would be needed to run, say, a fridge, a few lights, a TV/VCR, computer, stereo and the odd power tool? Oh, and the hot tub, of course. If such a system could be made to work there would be the satisfaction of knowing that, every time you flicked a switch, there would be absolutely nothing Gillard or the Greens could do to crimp your enjoyment of Mr Edison’s inventions. Even better would be the immense satisfaction of knowing that the very policies intended to reduce carbon emissions were, at least in one instance, achieving the exact opposite.
Any advice from readers versed in these matters would be much appreciated.
UPDATE: Many thanks, readers, for the suggestions and explanations. When the right oasis turns up in the property listings, the avenues of inquiry opened up by the comments will be very helpful.