The History Listen (ABC). So- a proposal for a coal mine on the coast, to be constructed by a foreign-owned company, and the community and environmentalists outraged. Does this sound familiar? No- it’s not Adani, but instead the Clutha mine that was proposed on the Illawarra escarpment in 1970. The plan was that the coal would be mined, put on conveyor belts down the escarpment to ships waiting at newly-constructed docks on the waterfront. This program Clutha 1970- the biggest battle over coal you’ve never heard of tells how local activists gained the support of politicians on both sides, unionists, lifesavers and the community to stop this going ahead.
Rear Vision (ABC) It looks as if we’re getting to the sticky end of the Brexit arrangements. EU and Brexit – the view from the continent gives a good summary of the Brexit saga. In a way, it has all been pushed off stage with COVID, migration and far-right Eastern European politics. What a self-imposed mess.
I didn’t end up travelling to South America this year, and I can’t see much possibility of doing so next year either. Mass tourism – how everyone became a traveller discusses the history of mass tourism from the Great Tour of the 18th century, the post WWI British holiday camp (what a dreary prospect), post WW2 American driving holidays and the mass tourism that has ruined Venice, Barcelona etc. They end up with a prediction that in a few years, tourism will be 50% more expensive than it was pre-COVID and suggest that perhaps that’s a good thing. Hmmm.
Nothing on TV Well, the smell of the dead rat in the wall of Robyn Annear’s house has cleared, and she comes to us with another of her delightful episodes about Australian history, drawn from newspaper columns via Trove. In The Hatpin Menace, she explores the international public furore over the hatpins that women used to tether their ‘Merry Widow’ Hats (which could measure 2 ft or 60 cms across). These hats had very wide brings- Robyn likens it to wearing a stockpot on your head! – but women used Gibson Girl hairstyles and false hairpieces to bouff out their hair so that the hat fitted. The hatpins, required to hold the hat onto the whole confection were about 30 cm. long. Men fulminated about the perils of the hatpin on public transport; sometimes hatpins were used as weapons; other times women held their hatpins as a form of reassurance (like the way women hold their car keys on a dark night, I suppose). It’s a funny episode and I’m pleased to say that Melbourne was the last Australian city to pass laws against them.
The Documentary (BBC) The episode The Mapuche: fighting for their right to heal investigates the fight by the Mapuche, the indigenous people of Chile, for recognition of their traditional healing and control of their own health service. I hadn’t realized that there was so many parallels with Australia: Chile is the only South American country that doesn’t recognize their indigenous people in their constitution (although that may change when Chile creates a new constitution in the coming years) and their language and practices were banned under Pinochet. Their land was appropriated and given to timber plantation companies and large agricultural firms, and there is currently a lot of unrest over land rights etc.