John and I tested my first walk on our bicycles this week to see if the approach had legs. The cycling experience will be different to walking, but enabled us to get our bearings and consider some relationships, even if at a slightly faster speed. This first walk is a long one and so will take a significant part of the day to complete. Starting at the Hidden World Playground located in a Wi-Fi enabled park on Roghan Road, Fitzgibbon we then ventured through Fitzgibbon Chase, where some public artworks have been integrated into the built environment and landscaping, then along the Cabbage Tree and Little Cabbage Tree Creek pathways. The local catchment group has been maintaining the creek while new housing and retirement developments have cropped up on former large land holdings, such as the old Drive-In Cinema.
Tracking with the waterway, paths and public art, we are drawn into a narrative of suburban development and its arrangements of private and public space, noting the proliferation of the hallmarks of suburbanisation. There is no apparent recognition of Indigenous history. Some of this symbolic economy and cultural geography is tense and contradictory, like the ideal of the bushland (or gardenesque) setting and the fecundity (or generosity) of family life. Where suburbs nestle into the bush, it’s voracious appetite for expansion also destroys it. Where families gather and grow, they are sequestered into private retreats from the cares of the world and the community at large, yet overwhelmed by issues of cost of living and mortgage repayments. While it’s more complicated and complex than that, those ideals of comfort and prosperity are not unitary or universal. There is an aspect of them that is corrosive and deceptive, clawing at the social and natural capital upon which that lifestyle relies. The ideology is firmly stamped into and patterned by the masterplans and planning schemes which shape our cities with their layered suburban skirts.