Thursday, December 6, 2012

Inherit the Wind

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)


  1. jubilee lake is good for some canoeing and a bbq.the hippies dont go near the caravans

  2. The Old and Unimproved DaveDecember 6, 2012 at 8:55 AM

    Meditating upon nothing strikes me as an engine wasting power idling in neutral.

  3. And the windmills will also need maintenance money - I hope that is taken into the account. The bearings; the underground cabling , the blades themselves as they impact flying creatures...all must be taken into account.

  4. Barely a mung bean fart from Wind Chime Central, lies some of the most productive trout water in the land. Or has the Bunyip been seduced by tarot readings, aromatherapy and some sorcerer dangling bits of quartz?

  5. The hand-thrown tea pot, did it succumb to the clinking or dissolve upon contact with a herbal brew ?

  6. Daylesford is, of course, the 'Islander' capitol of Victoria and probably a contender for the 'Islander' capitol of Australia, although Canberra would, as they say, give it a run for its money i

  7. Ah Prof your expedition was some two score and ten too delayed.A group of East Kew/Nth Balwyns finest young (religious)men once found Daylesford full of pubs. Jerseys, Gournseys and Ayreshires were milked in preference to visitors and the Hepburn Pub with its large open fire and great beer alleviated the need to investigate any springs other than the bed type with the odd dairymaid or two.

  8. This is more like the old Bunyip's seductively ironic style. I note there is a new grass parrot fluttering around the den?

  9. So have the proud owners disconnected their town from the state grid yet?

  10. Hmmm, one of the benefits of not living in one of those ant's nests in the deep south, and instead being surrounded by landscape more of the unoccupied and sunburnt type, rather than being verdant and hippie-infested, is that if a sheila requests a bloke take her for "a drive" there isn't much doubt what is on her itinerary.

    .... and for the spendaholics, the only purchases one can make are kit-kats & stubby coolers at the truck stop, prior to leaving town.
    The stubby coolers at least do have the name of the district printed on them, and a picture of a fat bullock, ram in full wool, full framed cow, or leaping barramundi, etc. (depending upon which part of this great nation one is blessed by inhabiting).

  11. PhillipGeorge(c)2012December 6, 2012 at 11:27 AM

    I'd be impressed if the town disconnected from the grid/ converted to 24 volt systems/ built an hydrolysis plant and had H2 or Brown's Gas storage for when the wind wasn't blowing.


    1. How many members in the town's consortium.
    2. What they were paying
    3. What they still are paying to maintain base requirement on nil wind days, by being connected to the foreign owned or operated grid.
    4. How "good" the tokenism makes them feel.
    5. The legal costs for establishing the group.
    6. Whose land are these things of beauty on and is that an ongoing cost
    7. As above mentioned ongoing maintenance and insurance costs [against acts of Gaia like earthquake damage, Tim Flannery tsunamis, Robyn Williams type beach frontage changes]
    8. The actual carbon foot print of building the units and installing them.
    9. Total longevity and replacement costs.

    1. PhillipGeorge(c)2012December 6, 2012 at 3:41 PM

      10. Interest payable on the loans to purchase these; or was it a one way never recoverable tax subsidized hand out - [look! free money for everyone - and no-one pays! - how good is that, lawyers will want one!]
      11. What they are being paid for excess to requirement generation is not any sort of exercise in free-market economics, to my knowledge. It is a bureaucratically determined, subject to whims and fashion statements, number I believe? The whole thing, as far as I have heard, remains a tax subsidized, or policy driven, delusion - but please do inform.

  12. Re the vagaries of women:

    A chap was shipwrecked on a desert island. (Is that a Rex Mossopism? A tautology of epic proportions?)Anyway, he found the traditional spouted urn, rubbed same and poof (nothing homo meant, here) there was the traditional genie! 'Wassup, guy', said same, 'but check it out, because of cutbacks, y'all only get just the one wish'.

    The wreckie said, 'OK, what I want is a road between here and the shore, so I can walk back dry shod!'

    The genie hummed and haaed and finally said, 'Well, look, what I'll have to do...footings and stability, road surface, concrete acquisition, it's a real hard ask. Could I get you something else?'

    The wrecked one said, 'OK,...what I ask for now is this. What do women really want in life? What are their true feelings and tell me do, how do they really think? And is there anyway of really understanding them?'

    The genie said, "Look about that bridge-will one lane do, or should I make it a superhighway?"

  13. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.December 6, 2012 at 3:08 PM

    Ah, the bucolic pleasures of the countryside, writ large in a charming village shoppe full of improbable reproductions of ye olde paraphernalia carefully produced by Chinese artisans in their shining new factories, additional to the wonky goods manufactured by the local bearded potter in his few waking hours.

    Prof, how fortunate are purchasers of some the shoppe's tastefully wrapped palate-pleasing pleasures, home-made of course, and how exciting it is that the whole rural experience is suitably enhanced by the strangling anticipation of possible botulism from the heritage fanciers' carelessly inept and inappropriate cooking and bottling techniques.

    I think those wind thingies need renewing every fifteen years or so Prof, so factor that into the cost equations too.

    Naturally, it is all worth it a thousand times over, because, well, just because. Little islands must be nourished to flourish.

  14. Ah, yes,this brings back memories of the Margaret River area. Nice people, so mellow. So very, very mellow.

    Reading of your traumas made me grateful I'm not a lesbian.


  15. Walter Plinge of TemplestoweDecember 6, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    " with the teapot’s pieces consigned to the recycling bin..." Excellent... that'll show 'em. In the UK you'd be fined a large amount for putting teapot wreckage in the recycling bin. It's meant to go in the general rubbish. But the black bins are too small for the average household's garbage to where does the surplus go? Personally, I put the output of my shredder in the recycling bin. I bet that annoys the hell out of them at the depot. I get goosebumps thinking of it.

  16. The Old and Unimproved DaveDecember 6, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    Can't understand why any man should have to look at hippie schtick when he could be dropping a few hooks in the water.

    Hmm, come to think of it, that last bit could apply to both fishing AND golf.....


  17. They even have names for each windmill Bunyip. One is called "Gale" and the other one is called "Gusto" - hard to beat for twee.

    I'd be interested to see if you have managed to get hold of a set of audited accounts - I'd love to know if Gale and Gusto actually make any money.

  18. Overpriced scones with not enough jam and un-clotted cream may be the least of the horrors perpetrated on the unwary in some of these twee towns. Imagine that you're on the way from A to B taking a cross-country route and you ask your traveling companion if she'd like to stop for something to eat in the next town. "We're a bit pressed for time, so it'll have to be something quick," you say. So she orders raisin toast. Nothing complicated there, so it should be quick. Oh no! Not in dippie hippie land. 20 minutes! How can it possibly take 20 minutes to toast a couple of slices of raisin bread and slather them with butter? Did they have to churn the milk or plant the spelt to make flour to make the bread? Maybe they had to plant the vines to grow the grapes to make the raisins? Ever since, raisin toast has been used as the direst threat to take revenge for male misdemeanours, real or imagined.

  19. Those things give 'Gone With The Wind' a new meaning.

    "I can't see a damned thing! What happened to the power?"

    "Gone, With The Wind"

  20. I'm sure whatever the maintenance costs they can afford them with all the money they save not buying deodorant. The last time one of them reached out to place a coffee before me, I was nearly knocked out.

  21. The entire area you speak of has been taken over by people whom have obviously been probed by aliens, the mindlessness is the result of the brain implant chip. They have been taught the rudiments of capitalism but from the school charlatanism to charge for scones at such inflationary prices.

    Windmills Hmmm a certain Don had the right idea and we need to joust with them, before they become a total blight on the landscape and send the entire country bankrupt.

  22. It seems that the price of scones could do with regulating. We know how much the hippy types believe the free market should be regulated, so I'm sure they'll agree.

  23. I spent a holiday in Daylesford in the late 40s and sold newspapers in late afternoon for pocket money, in the half-dozen pubs full of half-full timber workers. No twee shoppes sell lace dilly bags of dried petals back then.

  24. Having invested in so much infrastructure, your southern hippies obviously have no truck with the Mayan predictions. Unlike our PM.

  25. You know Lizzie, your mentioning of botulism reminded me of my time years ago in outback Qld as a junior medico many moons ago, where we had resident in the bush a family of hippies who clung doggedly to their lifestyle, until the day that one of the mother's badly preserved jars of asparagus resulted in the whole family coming down with botulism. When the pater of the group, the most badly affected, took his last breath before being hooked up to a ventilator, there to softly respire in ICU until the poison was exorcized by the consulting doctors, they suddenly understood the benefits of western medicine. I do believe they abandoned the mud floor hovel soon after.

    They were really, after all just slow learners!

    1. PhillipGeorge(c)2012December 7, 2012 at 9:06 AM

      several generations of Australians grew up with homebrewed preservatives.

      good process resembles hospital autoclaving or canning.

      Don't blame the hippies for this one. A return to pressure cookers as an alternative to fast junk supermarket 'never goes off' prepackaged foods would be a good thing.

    2. My old man used to keep an open beer fermenter in the kitchen. And he used to pickle the greatest home grown cucumbers I've ever tasted.
      Why did he do these things? Because back in the 70's, under Mr Whitlam, the average Aussie could barely afford the price of a postage stamp let alone a carton of Carlton's finest.
      Times have changed, thanks to the free market policies of successive governments, and it is a damn shame that we are now heading back to the bad old days of union power and Labor government induced economic woes. I could never understand why mum vehemently hated Labor, but now I know - it was the smell of the hops getting to her.
      While we might miss dad's cu-ies, I know that he certainly doesn't miss the home brew and enjoys nothing more than a fine Aussie bottled beer, which he can now afford.
      Wind farms are nothing more than a modern symbol of the economic vandalism that my parents had to live with.

  26. there's a really good cake shop (of the old Australian style) in Daylesford that goes back to the forties that I never pass without entering

    and yes I can remember driving past those unexpected blots on the landscape for the first time a couple of years ago, and thinking what a tastefully camouflaged little fission reactor they could have had instead

    1. Walter Plinge of TemplestoweDecember 7, 2012 at 10:24 AM

      I'm pretty certain that's the one I had a coffee and a sausage roll at last weekend. There weren't any trendy young people in it. I was served by a couple very pleasant ladies well past middle age.

    2. Yes .... It does great old fashioned pastry ..... the black pepper pie is a particular favourite, and not a hint of tofu anywhere and no sign of anything sun-dried in the shop.
      Unfortunately I tested positive for pastry at the last visit to the GP and copped the heart attack lecture. I now call my Doc "The Pie Warner".
      Although the day will come when the "Pastry King" sign will come down and the "boulangerie & patisserie" sign will go up.

  27. As a ratepayer of the broader canton of Hepburn I have often wondered if we will wake one day to find that, surprise, surprise, this little adventure has gone pear-shaped viability wise.
    I am unsure if the good mandarins who administer the canton of Hepburn have provided financial sureties or guarantees to the fan farm, but be assured of one thing.
    Not all citizens of the shire are feckless hippies - there is a fair sprinkling of lawyers and commercial types who would not take a sudden Gaia induced rate rise lying down.
    Although I suspect most of the cost is being met by those in the Shire of Northcote and the Gumment.
    Anyhow, must fly Prof.
    Building the bonfire on Leonard's Hill under the Gaia fans for our big summer solstice festival. It's a riot mate. Heaps of homemade boysenberry wine, more tofu than you can poke a stick at, and all culminating in the naked dance around the bonfire at the precise moment of the solstice.

    The Irish Lion

    1. Leonard's Hill, you say ...?
      I swear there was a slight and ever so brief flicker of interest somewhere ...probably an ancient hormone in spasm.
      But sadly, in my experience, naked solstice dancers ..invariably hairy under-armed and uninspiringly Rubenesque ..are best viewed on an empty stomach.
      And I would need something a touch more exotic than Boysenberry wine and Tofu to make me change my mind.

  28. Wind generation cannot deliver power when there is:
    1. No wind.
    2. When there is too much wind (over heating of the generator can cause fires)
    3. When it is too cold as blades ice up, and generators are less efficient when cold. (What snowing in Hepburn, cold nights in towns adjacent Ballarat, well I never..).

    Therefore we must also run gas fired / coal generation at partial (and less efficient) capacity to cover for these failures to generate power.

    So the actual use of wind power produces CO2 in larger amounts than coal/gas fired generation which can be run efficiently at higher capacity.


    Further the use of RET to cross-subsidise Wind and Solar power generation, is another cost imposed on the customers of the power grid. If people want to pay for Wind and Solar then do so without placing your hand in my pocket. It is easy to be virtuous with other people's money

    ( Table 2A)

    Add to this the killing of Wedge tailed eagles and other endangered species as well documented elsewhere, if they were not Green favoured technologies, they would never be allowed to be installed (c.f Coal Seam Gas protests)


    Let the people of Hepburn separate from the national power grid, and survive a few Winters without gas or coal-fired electricity supplements.

    I suggest that a small Nuclear power plant be installed in Hepburn as a trial of effective clean power generation.

  29. To be a birdwatcher and a HATER of wind power (unless that power fills the sails of a magnifi...enough of that) is the measure of the man. Best wishes. George Warburton

    1. Here's a tip for the next big enviro conflict:
      Hydro Tasmania have proposed building a $2B wind farm on King Island. The Greens have supported this. The Luvvies haven't woken uo to the fact that the Orange Bellied Parrot (or those few that remain) stop there on their annual migration. The possible sighting of a single OBP, and the insinuation of more was enough to stop the Bald Hills wind farm some years back.
      Just lay in your popcorn and wait for the excitement!

  30. Victoria's hippies are seriously low-class, being basically the dregs and leftovers the good stuff moved north to get away from. These white trash, who are mostly sphincter stretchers if they can get it, are so moronic they actually believe that defecating on the environment in the name of environmentalism is a form of good karma.

    Naturally of course the worthless Luddite garbage is a long way down the road from where they all congregate for their same sex love-ins at Hepburn Springs. That's par for the course for these self-congratulatory wankers as well. They don't have to bother themselves with giant wind turbines intruding into their personal space all day and every day. That's for some other suckers to deal with.

  31. I'm shocked, shocked I say, to see a brass band summoning the wind gods (the Flatulati in Greek mythology) in Hepburn.

    Where is the possum fur coated one performing the "welcome to country" pantomine? where is the smoking ceremony?

    This doesn't bode well for Hepburn.

    1. Well said , that man !
      I am not going anywhere I am not bloody welcome.

  32. I live in Sarawak, a Malaysian province on Borneo and Hydro Tasmania are getting in deep with their plans to dam rivers and make loads of money for them and the local politicians. They need to stay home and mess with the parrots.

  33. Windfarms will be for future generations what the blank stone faces on Easter Island are for our time.
    "What the phuque were they thinking?"

  34. I enjoy brief visits to Melbourne to meet the rellies and recall similar unwanted parent-inspired pilgrimages to the scattered Hippievilles generally to the North and less to the Southeast.
    But my fondest memory is of Melbourne in the rear view mirror...on the way to the airport c.1970 destined for BrisVegas where the priorities are beaut sheilas and cold XXXX and the not so occasional meat pie and peas on outstanding beaches.
    p.s. Is it raining.. again?