S Sense

Ive been on a bit of a road trip. Its something I have done regularly throughout my life. With Ray Charles and Michael Franti in constant rotation, with my ukulele and change of jeans on the back seat, with my wrap-around reflector sunnies and Saint Christopher swaying from the rear view, I did the most dangerous thing you can do drive.

B-doubles are basically semi trailers with an extra trailer hitched on. They careen down the wet highway at a speed invariably above what theyre speed limited to, the driver sitting above the wake of spray that engulfs smaller vehicles in a murky mayhem metres below. No wiper on the Mighty Camira is fast enough for this maelstrom.

Cars that have 250km/hr on their speedo, all carrying their single passengers to the same destination, flash past each other on dodgy strips of bitumen with a metre separating them.

Whoever thought this was a good idea probably thought that introducing cane toads was a stroke of brilliance. Or thinks that nuclear power is a sensible energy option.

Our transport system is insane. Let me say that again: the transport system we have is insane. And unsafe.

In the unprogressive old days when I first came to the North Coast, there was a train that left Lismore every morning and rumbled its way to Byron. It returned every evening. For a few bucks you could take your kids, surfboard and guitar, have a swim at Byron, have a drink at Byron railway station at the end of the day and play guitar with other train travellers on the way back. It was communal, stress-free and safe.

Gone.

Instead we have an ever-expanding, increasingly dangerous highway which sucks money from our coffers, creates wastelands of our farms, pits cars against trucks and spews tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Our comfort and safety have been sacrificed to the madness of a private car system. Its a lethal madness for our kids and, as we are increasingly aware, for our planet.

Let your kids smoke cigarettes, take drugs, have unprotected sex just keep them off the roads.

But of course we cant.

We now have a fine rail system running through our central desert through the most unpopulated part of Australia while the rest of rural Oz has its rail services slashed. But then the American company and war profiteer Halliburton (Dick Cheneys money-making baby) built the Alice to Darwin line to facilitate the sale of uranium through the port of Darwin. (Where theres supposedly to be a US-Australian military base.) And to receive the radioactive waste in return.

Now if we could find some uranium in Lismore...

Even a nuclear processing plant might inspire Halliburton to build us a railway line to the coast.

And I think a US military base at Byron would enhance the cultural life of the place. Id feel safer...


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