Tag Archives: Mt Panorama

A winning formula

Mount Panorama, Bathurst.
Bathurst’s Mount Panorama on a non-racing day. Could this be the site of an enviro-friendly electric car race?

When I was a small child, Dad told me about the Bluebird, the fastest car in the world. In 1964, driver Donald Campbell broke the land speed record when his sleek bright blue car zipped across Lake Eyre at 403.10 miles per hour (or 648.73 kilometres per hour). Donald Campbell died in a spectacular crash in 1967, but his extended family, based in Surrey in the UK, has not dropped its love of speed.

The Bluebird has now gone electric, and will compete in the Formula E (as in, Formula Electric) races that will begin in ten major cities around the world in 2014.

For many people, the idea of an electric car race is associated with the creeping speeds of the solar-powered cars cobbled together by university departments. But Formula E is a game-changer: it’s about serious speed in serious battery-powered cars. The Formula E championship will be held under the rules of the official Formula 1 governing body, the FIA. Sponsors include Michelin and Renault.

Meanwhile, a new land speed record for electric cars has just been set by the UK’s Lord Drayson, CEO of Drayson Racing Technologies and a former Labour government minister. He was behind the wheel of his Lola B12 69/EV, when he achieved a top speed of 204.2 miles per hour (328.603 kilometres per hour) on a racetrack at RAF Elvington in Yorkshire, on June 25. Drayson’s car is a modified Le Mans vehicle weighing less than 1000kg to conform to FIA standards.

Electric cars are getting faster and more popular. The technology is evolving fast, making this an exciting time for this particular motorsport. So what are we waiting for? Bathurst is on the international map as a car racing destination. We could have a flagship race that symbolises both tradition and the future. It goes without saying that it could be a major international tourist attraction and welcome boost to the regional economy.

The field is moving fast, with locations being scouted and sponsors being wooed. It may be that Formula E is not suitable for Bathurst – some other category could be more suitable, or, like the early days at Mt Panorama, an all-in race could be fun – but there must be something we can be doing in this space. If we don’t, we could be left behind in this particular race into the future.

Tracy Sorensen is the Treasurer of Bathurst Community Climate Action Network. This is the text of a column piece submitted to the Western Advocate, Bathurst’s daily newspaper.

Towards a classification system for Mt Panorama ring pulls

This is my entry for the 2013 Waste to Art exhibition here in Bathurst. It’s silly and the artwork itself is ugly. Anyway, it’s good to participate!

Ring pull artwork

Title: Left, right, straight and folded: towards a classification system for Mt Panorama ring pulls, 2013.

Artist: Tracy Sorensen

Media: Hobbytex and found ring pulls on old stained bed sheet, stapled to Peter Andren Independent foam core election poster in a damaged op-shop frame.

Measurements: 50cm x 40cm

Place of execution: Bathurst, NSW, Australia

My black Labrador, Bertie, loves to go for walks at McPhillamy Park on the top of Mount Panorama. I always keep my eye out for ring pulls to add to my collection. Like specks of gold in an alluvial landscape, Mt Panorama’s ring pulls shift and show themselves after a good rain. It’s always good pickings, then.

Detachable ring pulls for drink cans were a phenomenon of the 1960s and 70s; by the 1980s, they had been discontinued because of concerns about litter and the way their sharp edges could hurt bare feet. Now, partly hidden in the dirt, they are nostalgic, suggestive objects. Their individual shapes are determined by the hands that originally tore them from the can. The unconscious movements of people – men, mostly – on top of a mountain, watching cars, getting drunk, are all captured in these objects.

My grid pattern emphasizes how each ring pull “hangs”: the pivot-point sits at the apex of an orange and purple mountain; the tab swings to the left (purple) or to the right (orange) or follows the meeting-point of the two colours (straight). The retrieval and display of the ring pulls suggests the struggle to gather and contain past moments and give them meaning. The domestic impulse to tame and stitch down wild masculine moments is represented by the stained bed sheet. This domestic impulse has failed; the sheet is filthy and may need to be thrown out or used as a rag.

The vivid Hobbytex colours celebrate the overwhelming, exuberant designs popular in the 1960s and 70s; the domestic art of painting with Hobbytex was itself a fad of those times. The bright colours, hand-painted, are also a reminder of a time when the car race itself was more colourful, heterogeneous, hand made, less blandly unified by corporate interests. Hobbytex, like the internal combustion engine, gives off powerful fumes. There is nothing non-toxic about Hobbytex paint.

We no longer have dangerous detachable ring-pulls. Fume-ridden Hobbytex painting would never pass muster as a children’s hobby today. But the fossil-fuel burning internal combustion engine – a danger to the entire planet – is still celebrated every year at Mt Panorama.

The lovely grasses

On the cabinet above the TV set, I have a large spray of dried grasses that I gathered a couple of years ago during a walk down Hawthornden Creek. As we made our way from the Boundary Road Reserve past the back of the university, environmentalist Chris Marshall pointed out features in the landscape and could tell us the name of every type of grass that was growing there. As someone with little or no knowledge of grasses, it was a bit of a revelation. Once I started to get my eye in, something that seemed amorphous and ordinary – the scraggly grass around an eroded creek – became interesting in its diversity.

It is great to see that Bathurst Regional Council has now singled out Hawthornden Creek for some TLC. It is the first of our six urban creeks to be targeted for rehabilitation and restoration. The creek, which is severely eroded near the archery club grounds, will get a series of rock ramps to slow the flow of water and loss of sediment. At its February meeting, the council voted to allocate $50,000 towards the first stage of the project, which would involve survey of the site, design of the in-stream structures and the implementation of on-ground works if available funds allow.

,,,

With talk of a second track for Mt Panorama, wouldn’t it be great to have an electric (or renewable energy) car race around the mountain? It would be an international drawcard and give developers of new technology a great showcase for their products. I know I’ve said this before, but I say it again now just to keep the idea out there.

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Speaking of renewable energy, we have an active local group exploring the idea of a community-owned wind farm in the area. The group has welcomed the recent report from the state parliament’s committee on rural wind farms, which recommends that the government supports the construction of power lines in remote areas to transport the electricity generated by wind farms. If this went ahead, it would be a great boon to the wind farm industry. The full report is available here.

This piece was written for the Bathurst Community Climate Action Network (BCCAN) column in the Western Advocate.