The Grace Elm
The excellent improvements at the Eastern Oval have drawn attention once again to the splendid Dutch Elm tree adjacent to the 1904 grandstand.
Since the 1980s the tree has been known as the Grace Elm.
The name was given to recognise the affection that the great England cricketer Dr W.G. Grace had for the oval.
He played there twice in 1874 and 1891.
A legend exists in Ballarat that the good doctor planted the tree in 1874.
He made a century on that visit but he did not plant the tree; a skittle alley occupied that exact site until the year 1900.
A 1887 survey plan of the oval is at the Town Hall.
All buildings in the precinct are clearly drawn.
The skittle alley is one of them.
The tree plots to the same site.
Minutes from the old Ballarat East council record the demolition of the ' unsightly ' skittle alley in the year 1900.
The tree planting must have been subsequent to that demolition.
How did the legend start?
It was invented in the 1950s by a prominent Ballarat citizen.
The tree was under threat because tree roots might have been disturbing the foundations of the grandstand.
He spread the false story- "Dr Grace planted that tree you know, in 1874. It must not be cut down.'
The story took hold, as all colorful stories do.
The tree was saved and a legend was firmly in place.
Even the National Trust, at State level, fell into the trap and carries it forward.
Two signs exist today at the tree site.
Both display incorrect information.
The smaller one declares that Dr Grace planted the tree in 1874.
The larger one gives incorrect dates for the Grace visits.
For almost thirty years signs and labels have come and gone at the site as various regimes have come and gone at the Town Hall.
New enthusiasts retrieve and believe the legend. New signs go up- ' To make the necessary corrections. ' The historic Ballarat Eastern Oval deserves better treatment than that.
L.Jenkins, South Oakleigh.
Inexplicable disparity in pricing
Recently, helping out my aging father in Bright, north east Victoria , I was looking at some of his bills and was amazed to see the huge difference in our water bills. Although the service charge and price of water were comparable for his North East Water and my Central Highlands Water, the difference in the sewage and wastewater rate was breathtaking. My father pays approximately seventy six cents a day for wastewater even before his pensioner discount while I pay Central Highlands Water just under $2.10 a day. In fact my most recent water bill, covering our very long and dry summer shows my actual water consumption was less than 17% of my bill, the rest consisting of service and wastewater charges.The huge disparity in rates and charges across the regions really does need some serious looking into by our politicians and regulators.
Abbott’s Foreign Policy Faux Pas
A history lesson for MP Abbott. No-Man's Land, Disputed Territory, Occupied Land. These are all terms, post 1949 Armistice for the estate in Arnona, Jerusalem now housing the American Embassy. After the 1967 war, Israel unilaterally annexed Jerusalem including the Arnona estate; an annexation not recognised by anybody else to date. Israel unilaterally gave land to another country, America, for its embassy. Many Israelis see the area as another illegal, American settlement.
Abbott also advocated Australia's following America into Afghanistan and Iraq. The more Israel and others establish "facts on the ground," the further away a two-state peace becomes. Visiting Jerusalem and the West Bank shows that a two-state solution is perilously close to being impossible and what the Israeli Government wants. By supporting America's ill-informed, imperialistic and bullying decision Abbott shows his own.
Time to Return the Eureka Flag
I welcome the contribution of P. Berlyn (Letters 18 May 2018) who sought to clarify who has the legal right to determine the location of the Eureka Flag.
However, the outcry about the need to return the Eureka Flag to the Art Gallery is about the need for an informed, open and inclusive dialogue about what is the appropriate keeping place for a priceless, irreplaceable artefact of national significance.
Mr. Ron Egeberg, in his Opinion Piece (The Courier 14 May 2018) makes unsubstantiated assertions regarding the Art Gallery and historical care of the Eureka Flag which are inflammatory and open to serious challenge.
His stated opinions serve to deepen the divide in the community on this issue. They are to be regretted and I call on him to hear other opinions.
It is time for the City of Ballarat to immediately rescind any plans or agreements regarding the Eureka Flag and other valuable Eureka-related artefacts held in collections around Ballarat.
It is also time for the Eureka flag to be returned to the Art Gallery and for an open dialogue about the new Eureka Centre to be held.
N. Oddie, Snake Valley
Everybody has to obey road laws
Whilst we all have an obligation to obey road laws, I am sick and tired of the actions of bike riders who ride four abreast. Last week we encountered an incident like this at Newman street, Black Hill where one group was riding four abreast. We were coming out of Webb Avenue and turning right into Newman Street we approached, slowing from behind, two of them looked over their shoulder and ignored us, not bothering to move.