FASCINATING creatures that they are, women often tax male comprehension. A drive in the country, wondered the Grass Parrot? Why certainly! To a cold chook and a colder bottle add blanket, binoculars and book, find a quiet spot with a commanding view and there you will have all the elements of a pleasant afternoon in the sun. Pleasant to some, it became clear as just such an itinerary was detailed, but not to all. In the Professor’s experience, and the weekend’s jaunt did not break the mould, the feminine definition of a Sunday drive means pointing the car at one of those twee townships where an arts grant is achievement’s apogee and every second shop sells little lace dilly bags of dried petals that all the girls like to tuck away in their drawers. There is a lot to be said for scented camisoles, but a dose of hot water and Palmolive before bed can achieve much the same result while allowing time earlier in the day to observe the odd bird and, if the Great Bunyip smiles, perhaps to cast a line or two.
Alas, the case for sylvan solitude fell on deaf ears and the day’s destination was declared to be Daylesford, where everything is natural and pure and a withered hippie can collect $34 for two servings of scones, not enough jam, some un-clotted cream and an insipid cuppa. After that, as a hand-thrown tea pot clinked expensively in the back seat and a Daylesford potter laughed his head off, it was on to nearby Hepburn in a car reeking of lilac sachets. Be warned, gentlemen: There is even less in Hepburn to satisfy manly interests, something that becomes clear once you have spotted your eighth set of Tibetan prayer flags. The gurus of meditation urge that the mind be made blank. In Hepburn that instruction has been taken as an irrevocable command.
The proof of rampant mindlessness is to be found 10 kms from town, where two wind generators stand on an otherwise attractive mound known locally as Leonards Hill, one mast somewhat further up the slope than the other. Why these units speak of cultish madness is explained by the site’s official name, The Hepburn Community Windfarm. You may have heard of the little town – population 2,300 – and its green crusade to reject Big Power and sustain a sustainably self-sustaining sustained source of clean, cheap energy. If you have not heard of the undertaking it is a wonder because the project has been feted with all sorts of glowing publicity and favourable news reports. Well, most of them favourable.
Cultists summon the wind gods to Hepburn in mid-2011, when the rotors began to turn
All up, those twin towers have cost the locals – and, indirectly, the rest of us – some $13 million dollars. Now the cynic may see that as a staggering sum, but any number of Hepburnians will tell the visitor that the installation is worth every penny. While the Grass Parrot fossicked for curios and yet more items of the fussy, feminine impedimentia that have made a booby trap and minefield of her bathroom countertop, a curious Bunyip sought to be persuaded that Hepburn does not deserve to be declared a country annexe of the Kew Cottages asylum. Several people, pleasant sorts in their organic way, put the case for the defence, and it must be said their patter was seductively persuasive in the context of time and place.
The community owns the generators, they noted, so it will pay no entity but itself for the power they produce. Moreover, because stinky volts from the LaTrobe Valley are no longer needed, all that unused grid power can be converted into carbon certificates and flogged off for a handsome profit. Damage to wildlife? The rotors vitamise only the odd bird and bat – as certified by a contracted and professional carcass counter – so that objection was dismissed as yet another of Big Carbon’s many lies about bright and shiny people who just want to make a difference. A blight on the landscape? No, man, they’re beautiful, just beautiful.
Back in Melbourne, with the teapot’s pieces consigned to the recycling bin, it seemed worth the effort of a little look to see what sort of value Hepburn is getting for its $13 million, which is rather a large piece of change when you think about it. Readers better versed in electrical engineering and accounting will doubtless get more from the available figures, but even to a specialist in Etruscan semiotics it seems that Hepburn has diddled itself in quite a spectacular fashion.
(Expect Part 2 of this post to go up during the course of the day)