During Prime Minister Julia Gillard tenure, Tim Matheson the then nation’s ‘first bloke’ was the centre of attention in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald at that time written by Tony Wright, as Tim had purchased a bush block on the Goulburn River in north east Victoria, setting up his caravan for his own personal space.
The article explains that he’s been spending time alone on the 1150 square metre block along with a few mates from ‘time to time’ and may well establish his own Men’s Shed on the site. Tony Wright pointed out that as the Prime Minister’s partner he is not permitted to earn an income since he and Ms Gillard took up residence at The Lodge and Kirribilli House.
Tim Matheson was quoted as saying - “I saw it as a great opportunity to start a long-term project to build a shack just like my parents had done. It’s a great spot to be able to go bushwalking and fishing down on the water. It’s everything that’s great about the bush and that part of the world.”
This appears to be the heart of the matter as it is for many Australians who long for their own little bit of ‘bush’ away from the busyness of city life, earning a living, raising a family, paying the mortgage, the children’s taxi service and everything else associated with suburban life.
Yet, in spite of this yearning and an inner thirst for men to get alone, even if it is with a few mates, there appears to be many other obstacles in the way of achieving such a goal.
How it ever happens is more the miracle and what it achieves.
This is a cursory list of associated preventables:
The city elites with their little fingers raised as they sip their lattes with their never endless capacity to raise campaigns against anything that they consider inappropriate to their limited world views have developed a finely tuned political voice to ‘stop, prevent, limit, restrict’ anything whatever, and anywhere whatever.
A man wanting to enjoy his bush block with only the wilds of the Australian nature surrounding him is right up there on their list of ‘actions’. If this lot had got wind of Tim Matheson’s purchase, every which way measure would have been taken to prevent it.
The environment would have been right up there as being placed in jeopardy disturbing the serene and unspoilt land. There are a thousand different arguments they are able to pull out of their hats that would have curtailed any of the laudable ideas of Tim Matheson and his ilk.
Small rural shops reflect a 'back to nature'
Consistent strategic attacks
Councils prefer to run a thousand miles from approvals when confronted with this terrifying pre-planned and carefully strategised attack and it doesn’t stop there, these well oiled campaigns can very easily end up in the land and Environment Court where their expert witnesses carefully craft reason after reason why such a use is untenable.
Moreover, many a Council becomes complicit. The cost involved in ending up in court at rate payer’s expense becomes counter productive to the Shire’s budget.
We know all this because it happens ever so regularly, and just look at how Tiny Wright in his articles describes Tim Matheson’s purchase - “quietly bought” and again “The purchase has not been made public..”
In 1988 when establishing Timeout in Moruya which involved a building in order for elite athletes from the Australian Institute of Sport might enjoy some respite planned for the 10 acre bush block was faced with this kind of ‘strategic abuse’.
To counter this I considered it more provident to work through two elected Counsellors rather than the front desk. Our elected Counsellors, especially friendly ones, have ways and means to interpret the legislation favourably. In our situation this bore good fruit. The 10 acre block was also given the rare zoning of “Recreation Tourism”.
Another matter arose some years later in 1996 when establishing Australia’s Bush Orchestra a tourism bush walk under the canopy of Ironbarks and the sound of the Bell Minor (Bellbirds). With the skills of a helpful Counsellor we met with Main Roads and secured a brown tourism sign. As a matter of interest when we relocated to Tweed Heads in December 2005 one of the business identities in town at our farewell said that of all the remarkable achievements that brown tourist sign must be right up there.
On one occasion we had a NSW Tourism Department person come to inspect this quiet bush walk with plaques along the way celebrating the lives of great Christian evangelists and decided we were not “large enough” or “secular enough” or “something enough” to retain the brown tourist sign.
I contacted the late Hon. Reverend Dr Gordon Moyes LMA and asked him to enquire as to why the Buddhist Centre in Wollongong retained its brown tourist sign but the quiet little Christian tourism walk’s brown sign was to be taken down. Our brown tourist stayed.
When Jesus spoke about his followers being as street wise as others, he knew what he was talking about! Christians have a commitment to be up on all these things as those who come against us are many as are their arrows. Christians need to be equipped with every righteous shield and being as sharp and up-with-it as the rest of them.
A rural marina reflect a 'back to nature'
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at