Hume Highway duplication— you’re welcome

An accusation that really bugs me as a baby boomer is that, somehow, we have sucked the economy dry for our own benefit and left nothing for anyone else.

After paying taxes for forty years I resent this. My taxes paid for all those new schools, those fabulous fancy arts centres, those new bridges, those flood and bushfire repairs, those hospitals. And those roads. You know the ones, the ones you hoon along at 20 kph over the speed limit, giving me rude gestures for daring to drive on it more slowly than you do.

BEFORE

The Hume Highway is a massive road that connects Australia’s biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne. We rarely drove on it in the past. It was terrifying—trucks, semitrailers, the dreaded caravans, narrow, poorly aligned, hardly anywhere to overtake, degraded pavement.

Between about 1969 and 2013, this road was duplicated. It is now two lanes in both directions. This job took the whole of my adult, taxpaying life. While it was going on, it was a nightmare to drive on, with detours, delays, and long stretches of gravel and dirt.

AFTER

Now it’s a dream. You could almost drive it in your sleep (it seems some people actually do that). And its fast. Canberra to Sydney was easily a four hour drive (now under 3 hours).

Just a little gift from us to you. You’re welcome.

All images from Roads and Maritime Services, NSW

Hogging big houses

I saw a recent flurry of age bashing in newspapers. Selfish baby boomers are refusing to leave their own houses, houses that they are “rattling around in”, houses with back yards. We are supposed to pack ourselves away into little closets somewhere out of sight so that “families” can have our houses instead. Think of the children!

Not happening. I love my backyard. I can make a mess there, watch birds, play with plants. Not giving it up until I have to.

The Australian love of big suburban houses is honestly come by. Here’s a quote from Town life in Australia by Richard Ernest Nowell Twopeny, published in 1883:

“The colonist is very fond of living in his own house and on his own bit of ground.

Terraces and attached houses are universally disliked, and almost every class of suburban house is detached and stands in its own garden.”

One hundred and thirty years on, our cultural preferences haven’t changed. We still love our backyards. And our cars. You want people to change how they live, make the case, don’t use manipulative shaming techniques.