It is hard to pick just one thing that as the biggest change in my lifetime. About the only thing that hasn’t changed is that we still have the same Queen.
One very big change that has occurred in my lifetime is that here in Australia we no longer manufacture goods the way we did when I was a child.
When I was growing up there were numerous factories. In Elizabeth where I lived for several years there were factories making jeans, sewing machines, white goods and of course cars at the Holden plant. I can remember when I was a child that at around four o’clock our normally quiet suburban street would suddenly be full of cars as workers returned home after their shifts at the factory.
In other suburbs around Adelaide there were more factories, Chrysler, later Mitsubishi with two plants and other factories who supplied them with parts, Actil made towels and bed linen, Golden Breed made T-shirts and sweatshirts, Perry Engineering, Castalloy, Hills Industries, Simpson, Pope, Kelvinator, Sabco and Clipsal were all names that South Australians knew.
Ford had their factory in Geelong, Victoria and there was another Holden plant at Fisherman’s Bend. We even had our own toy manufacturers, Cyclops, Metti, Verna to mention a few.
Today many of those companies are gone. Cars are no longer manufactured or even assembled in Australia. You can’t buy an Australian made fridge and many other products formerly made here are now made in other countries where labour is cheaper. Even here in Tassie our Blundstone boots are now made overseas.
I think it is very sad. We were proud of our Australian brands and those factories provided employment and a decent wage for many.
Below you can read an article on the closing of the last Holden factory, the one in Elizabeth not far from where I used to live.
Before I came to Tasmania I lived in South Australia. My family arrived there in 1966 and I grew up living in the suburbs of Adelaide. I had come there from England and even at the age of eight I had a strong sense of place. I much preferred my new home in Elizabeth, north of Adelaide, to the grey, ugly place I had come from. I liked the feeling of open space, the wide streets and the flowering trees. When I was taken to visit Adelaide for the first time I liked the parks and gardens and the dignified old buildings I saw around the city.
As I grew up I loved the city even more and spent a lot of time in the city parks and on North Terrace, home to the museum, art gallery and the State Library. In the seventies the Festival Theatre was built and although I thought it was a little odd-looking and had weird art pieces dotted around it I was proud of it. It was finished three months before the Sydney Opera House. Over the years I lived there I attended many concerts and plays at the Festival Theatre both indoors and out.
I enjoyed browsing through the many department stores in Rundle Street, Harris Scarfe, Myers with its bargain basement, David Jones the posh store with marble tiles where a man played a grand piano near the entrance and the basement food hall smelled of baking, Cox Foys had its roof top fun fair and views of the city and suburbs and of course John Martins, the Pageant Store, which had the best toy department. As a teenager I was introduced to the eastern end of Rundle Street by my stepfather. There were European style cafes and interesting little shops selling imported goods. Central Market at the other end of King William Street was another fascinating place. Later when Rundle Street became a pedestrian mall it was fun to ride the glass elevator up to the top floor of Cox Foys and stroll in the mall enjoying the buskers performing there although you did have to dodge Hare Krishna disciples selling their books as well. At least they were easy to spot.
In 1985 Adelaide hosted its first Formula 1 Grand Prix. It was held in the parklands at the eastern end of the city and for the next twelve years we were regular attendees enjoying not only the racing but the associated events and the carnival atmosphere that the event brought to our city. I was working for the government operated transport system by then so I was in the city every day, sometimes working at the Adelaide Railway station. It was handy as I could spend an hour or so browsing in the stores after work or run up to Central Market for fresh fruit and veg before going home. On late shifts I’d only have to pop outside on to North Terrace to buy a coffee at the Pie Cart.
I can’t recall exactly when things started to change. I think it was when a lot of older buildings started to be demolished or to accidentally burn down while their future use was being disputed. I know I felt it was the beginning of the end of Adelaide and me when we lost the Grand Prix to Melbourne and when I heard that John Martins department store was to be closed.
Since then I have seen a lot more unwelcome changes to the city that I once loved. The beachfront suburbs are almost unrecognisable to me now as the old houses are replaced by large, square townhouses with tinted windows and no gardens. “Johnnies” is gone, Cox Foys is long gone, Harris Scarfe survives but their old building has been demolished and the new stores are tiny and seem to have little in them.
Harris Scarfe, Rundle Mall entrance May 2011. Demolition had already started.
Harris Scarfe during demolition May 2011
Harris Scarfe store closed 2011.
The Festival Theatre complex is getting a revamp which it probably needs but I feel a little sad that the weird sculptures will be gone and the amphitheatre where we sat on the hot pebbles and watched local bands play seems to have disappeared underneath the new walkway that goes over the river. I do quite like that though. I watched cricket at Adelaide Oval on television recently and it does look good. I think I’d enjoy seeing a match there but I liked the old grandstand with its red roof and the old gates at the front entrance as well. Luckily the old scoreboard is heritage listed so that can’t be touched nor the big old Moreton Bay Fig trees nearby.
Another thing that I do like is that the tram line which used to go to the seaside suburb of Glenelg has now been extended through the city and down to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre. Not only that but you can ride from there to the city for free.
The biggest shock I had on my recent visit to Adelaide was at the railway station. That has changed so much over the past fifty years and even the past twenty since I worked there. The Pie Cart is gone, not considered good enough for the patrons of the Casino or nearby hotels. The Casino has been inside the upper floors of the station for many years but since I was there last it has expanded into the foyer, Marble Hall, we called it where the ballroom scene from Gallipoli was filmed and where, some years before that David and I had our wedding photos taken. It was weird to sit at the bar with my sister-in-law Louise and remember that and to look around to the stairs that used to lead to the offices where David worked.
Down at Port Adelaide things have changed too, most of the industry has gone and so have most of the ships. Port Adelaide has become home to several excellent museums which is great but I was angry the other day to hear that the big shed where the market has been for so many years will be demolished. No doubt something ugly and expensive will be built to replace it.
I’ll never forget the happy times I had in Adelaide and I’ll always visit there, at least in the cooler months, because I have family and friends that I want to see but I don’t feel that it is the same place that it used to be. I suppose I have changed too but even if I had stayed there I know I would not like the changes that have happened so I’m glad I left.
I started to write this post intending it to be a rant. I had just heard about the demolition of the wharf shed and although I was half expecting it I was still very angry about it. As I wrote more I became more nostalgic for the city I knew. My last trip back reminded me of the things that I liked about Adelaide which is alway at its nicest in spring but I don’t feel the same way as I used to. I have never been divorced but perhaps this is what it feels like?
I believe that smaller cities like Adelaide and Hobart would do better to preserve the character they have rather than trying to become miniature versions of large cities like Sydney and Melbourne. I see scary signs of it happening in Hobart as well. Many people who read this may not agree with me, it’s progress, I know it is. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.
I’m feeling the need to rant today. I’ve been blogging here on WordPress for about a year and a half now and during that time I’ve noticed quite a lot of changes. I know I’m not alone in saying that most of them I have not liked. Many of the bloggers I read have complained about them.
I gather that a lot of these changes are being made to accommodate those people who use phones and tablets to blog but it seems that the rest of us have become second class citizens as far as WordPress is concerned.
What really annoys me the most is how WordPress is trying to persuade us that the new features are better than the old ones. I didn’t like the new editor, not because of the beep, bop, boop that fellow bloggers have complained of, I’ve seen that elsewhere. I don’t like it because I find it awkward to use compared to the old one. I generally ignore it and go straight to the old dashboard. I’m finding though that although the older features are still available it is taking longer to click through to get to them. This is a waste of my time. If I’ve got an idea that I want to write about I don’t want to jump through hoops to get to where I want to go.
The new stats page is especially annoying . I’m a new enough blogger that I like to check in once a day to see who has been reading my blogs and while at first the link to the old stats page was placed near the top of the page it has now been hidden at the bottom of the page. Did you think I would not notice that WordPress or that I would not be bothered to go to it? Every time I log in to the stats page I’m greeted with either “Have you tried the new stats page” or “Why do you prefer this one?” I keep giving the same answer but I’m sure that it will make no difference and eventually they will just take the old page away.
I hate these “Salami tactics” changing things bit by bit and I hate being taken for stupid which is how I feel WordPress is treating me. I admit that I don’t always care for change. I am a Taurus after all. I particularly don’t like change for the sake of change which is what I feel this is. I don’t know if anyone asked for any of these features to be improved. I certainly haven’t come across anyone who has said “Good job WordPress.”
At this point I’m not planning to go elsewhere. I’d rather persevere with WordPress than find a new blogging platform and have to start learning all over again. I feel as if I’ve made friends here too. There are people whose blogs I enjoy reading and some who seem to like mine. I would like to think that if enough bloggers complain WordPress will at least keep the old features that we preferred accessible. I know the new ones are probably here to stay. But please WordPress don’t treat me like I’m an idiot who needs to be persuaded to use something new. I’m stubborn that way. The more you try to make me the more I will refuse.