Last night the moon was blood red. This morning, six planes did a loop de loop in the blue spring sky. Now it sounds like a giant swarm of bees is coming over the horizon. Yes, it’s the Bathurst 1000, our yearly orgy of noise, beer, fossil fuel and bonfires. When I worked at the Western Advocate, it was always rich pickings in the days afterwards, when all the chickens of drunkenness and hoonery would come home to roost in the magistrate’s court. The burning mattresses! The antics on top of moving vehicles! The punches thrown! The slabs consumed!
Anyway, here’s a hot lap of Mount Pan from Fango Fables. Fango Fables, a series by Jock Alexander, was always the best bit of our WARP TV Show, made here in Bathurst and screened on community television in Sydney.
Meanwhile, I have dusted off my column-writing hat to submit this piece to the Advocate on behalf of Bathurst Community Climate Action Network. Here, I get back on my yearly hobby horse, which is to plead for an electric car race on Mount Pan. It’d be slightly eerie to have a quiet race, with just the sound of the wheels on the tarmac and the air whooshing, but it’d be amazing, too.
The other side of the mountain
When I was a kid, we sang these words: The bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain. And what do you think he saw? The other side of the mountain! This week, it’s all about the car race up on Mount Panorama. This is the image that will be beamed around the world. It’s what puts Bathurst on the international map. But those of us who live here know the mountain for its other attributes as well: as a place to look out over the town and across to Windburndale, to take the dogs for a run, to fly through the air on a dirt bike, to park the car for a pash, to grow fruit and wine grapes, to see albino wallaroos, to graze sheep. It’s the highest point of land hereabouts, and for tens of thousands of years, it was known as Wahluu.
It’s a timeless ecosystem, as well as a place to have a good time. It’s a physical place, but it’s also a symbol. It symbolises what we value, how we see ourselves, how we want to present ourselves in the world and how we see the future.
The story of Mount Panorama is now widening to encompass the other side of the mountain. In the co-naming project, we acknowledge the long view of history; in the kangaroo project (a long-term ecological study led by the University of Technology), we acknowledge the ecosystem.
Another project that would express Mount Panorama’s history as well as its aspirations for the future would be an electric car race. It could include cars of all shapes and sizes, bringing to mind earlier incarnations of the great race. But, like the V8 race, it could be run between cars built just for speed. Serious, fast, expensive. An example is the ELMOFO car, which has possible top speeds of up to 300 kilometres an hour. The vehicle incorporates dual AC motors and a high power liquid cooled lithium battery pack. Its lap times are, according to a recent Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) story, approaching those of petrol-powered cars.
We could start slowly, with a special race in the lead-up to the big race, or an event at some other time in the year. As the car-race capital of Australia, but also as a town committed to sustainability, we should be taking the lead.