I GREW up with stories of the billy karts mum had as a kid.
The family lived in a street in Highgate Hill in Brisbane, before it was gentrified, and before many people had cars. The dad-made carts could fairly fly down the hill. It was a freewheeling activity full of the joy of speed and life without brakes.
These days, mum gets her kicks on an electric golf buggy, and the billy-kart of old has evolved into the motorised go-kart. Health and safety is top of mind; the kids wear helmets and the rule-book is thick. No doubt, though, it’s the same thrill behind the wheel.
These days, the world is somehow more crowded, and you can’t always get your kicks the way you’d like. The proposal to build a go-kart track on the top of Mt Panorama is a case in point.
We need to remember that Mount Panorama is a mountain with its own history going back through geological time and then human time. For countless thousands of years, this place was the high point in the landscape for the Wiradyuri people; a place of spiritual significance and ceremony.
The Wiradyuri elders are telling us about this significance. They’re opposed to the go-kart track in that particular location.
At the moment, the top of the mountain is a relatively open space. As public open space, it can be interpreted and used in many different ways. You can walk your dog there, conduct ceremonies there, stargaze, commune with trees, eat chicken and chips in your car. We don’t have to agree with each other or live the same sorts of lives, but we can all access the top of our mountain, the high point on our landscape.
Fencing part of that off for one particular activity is not fair. It involves a privatisation of hitherto public open space. And it is causing pain and grief for our Wiradyuri elders.
All they’re asking is that the go-kart track be put somewhere else. Ultimately, this will benefit the community as a whole, rather than surrendering crucial public space to one interest group.