Selected comments from mountain cattleman Jack Treasure

The following quotes by Jack Treasure are sourced from Ian Stapleton’s book From Fraser’s to Freezeout

“The trouble with all these roads is that you can’t choose who is going to use them once they are built. The horse was a very effective way of sorting people out. The ratbags and vandals came to the bush with their four wheel drive vehicles, and now with roads everywhere, it’s bloody hard to do anything about them”

“Unchecked trafficking of Four Wheel Drive and other vehicles over the Dargo High Plains where formed roads do not exist, is doing a great amount of damage.

To mention one instance alone amongst many others, is the deep cut wheel trenches across the once beautiful Omeo Plain, where increasing numbers of such vehicles disturb the surface grass resulting in either scouring, running water or lying water, followed by further trafficking until the channels are deepened to the extent that other parallel tracks are opened up and subjected to the same. The result is a general mess of a once beautiful plain.
Unfortunately this track had first been opened up by the Forests Commission for fire fighting purposes, and was not closed again. Similarly other tracks, not formed roads, have been opened up by the Commission, and are now being used by an ever increasing number of unauthorised vehicles. It is these tracks that I am concerned about, and I recommend they be closed and policed until Nature heals the damage done.”

“People need to take holidays and go touring. It takes them away from the rat-race of competition. But simpler and less extravagant recreation can be enjoyed to greater advantage than that which is promoted, and with the savings from the waste of resources, life would be happier around us and nearer to the nature of our living.”

“Tourism is like a terminal disease. It starts off with all sorts of impressive talk, usually about saving and caring for some bit of country that didn ‘t need saving anyway, and was already being cared for, and then it just keeps on growing until it eventually destroys whatever the tourists were flocking to gork at in the first place.”

“No thought is given to the damage done to Australia’s scenic resources and other resources when encouraging overseas tourism. The tourist operators make a fortune but the tax-payers have to find the rest to pay the repair bill.”

“The trouble with tourism is that it inevitably revolves around a temporary fascination with the things that people USED to do. Thousands of people being herded around, gawking at what people used to do. What will future generations of tourists look back on after a whole generation of tourists has gone by? We have to get back to doing things. Everything that we have ever done has had some impact after all. Tourism more than most, and it produces absolutely nothing!”

“I wish to point out to you that after the ‘Back to Grant’ a few years ago, sign boards were left on trees indicating the location of the Grant cemetery and the old historical site known as the Bandicoot Arms. Both these sites are off the road and hidden in the bush from prying eyes. Because of this they had been perfectly preserved in their natural surroundings for over 100 years.

Immediately following the ‘Back to Grant’ celebration, these historical sites were subjected to vandalism. Headstones were shot at with high powered rifles, some of which were cracked and broken off, while at the Bandicoot Arms, (where my grandfather established the first accommodation house), the souveniring of old bottles forming the garden beds has ruined that picturesque setting.

Therefore I request you to tread lightly on these sacred grounds, and leave them entirely undisturbed. To bring these things to the eyes of tourism and vandalism is wrong. Please do not contrive to bring the curse of tourism to the graveside of our pioneers.”

“I must remind you that everything takes place by change anyhow, and that we live in a constantly changing world. It is the right balance of change that we need. The mountains like the forests, are never static. You can’t pull them up at some point and think you can keep them just like that forever. Trees and plants eventually die, and species come and go. The weather changes over time. We are apart of that change. We should not be too big apart, but we are apart of it. ”

“Harmonious conflict has always been the way of Nature. In the processes of Nature, life has always been cheap in a way. We need to teach this to our children just as often as we teach them how to cry over the loss of some particular type of tree frog or Tom Tit. We need more balance to the whole thing. Even in the bush/ires that we speak of, which burn these things in vast numbers, look at the fresh and lush rejuvenation that follows after. The law of the universe is the law of opposing forces. It is the law of the atom and of the cosmos, and without it you would have a void. This is how it always will be, or there will be no world, without the harmony that comes from the conflict of opposing forces. We must teach our children of these very basic principles and functionings of Nature, if we are ever to strike the balance in our thinking that is required. We are losing contact with the systems of Nature, the very stuff that keeps us alive. We have a generation of people who must dial a Melbourne telephone number in order to even have any idea of what the weather might be going to do!”

“We are the children of the Earth. We began from the cells of Mother Earth, and it shall be Mother Earth that will bring us to a halt. No hesitation about it. For the first man was a farmer, and the last man will be a farmer too!”

“The bush does not need bureaucratic control. Over millions of years it has proved that it can look after itself. A National Park would be the start of an avalanche that would develop into an absolute affront to Nature, not only through artificial controls, but also through publicity and the introduction of legions of people who now all want to visit this promised land. God save our bushland from this motorised and organised destruction.”

“The National Parks grew and grew. Wilderness areas, Places of Significance, all under the canopy of World Heritage, and all managed by an army of well paid, over-educated, impractical bureaucrats, all lining their own pockets and protecting their own comfortable little empires. The mountains are changing and so are the people. Remember though, that it was private enterprise that built this country, and if we don’t watch our step, we’ll lose the lot.”

“All the living things of the bush have, in the past, depended upon the protective patchwork burning of the bush by Nature’s lightning strike fires. They travel to these areas to live upon the lush regrowth. They graze on, and keep this regrowth in check. They flee from fire to these patchwork burns, for protection, where the bush is reinstated to live again in harmony with Nature, where lime and potash released by burning are available to carry on the never-ending cycle of a living soil that supports a world of living animals, birds, insects and flowers.

“Lightning strike fires occur when cool southerly sea breezes meet inland hot winds. Thunderstorms build up in these conditions, and down comes the lightning to patchwork burn the bush, under the cool wind-change conditions which may last up to four or five days. This gives sufficient time for such burns to link up with similar burns that may have taken place over a period of six or seven years previously.”

“There is a great variety and difference in summer period conditions over the years -drought summers, mild summers, hot summers and lightning strike periods in varying summer conditions. It seems that Nature burned the bush in some of these summer conditions. Unbelievable perhaps, that the natural time to burn the bush was during the summer. Springtime is the breeding season, and the regrowth period for most things of the bush. Seldom did lightning strike fires upset the cradle of Nature at this time of the year. Both Spring and Autumn fires are often unpredictable because of the equinoxial wind conditions. Lightning strikes are less frequent then. Within this pattern, the things of Nature adapted themselves to fit the environment. After millions of years it worked, and it continues to work where not upset.”

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