'On the Road' with Tunnel Picket (Saturday)
|Hussein - Mernda resident|
We might not have encountered quite the same thrills as Jack Kerouac and his beat friends on their travels across America. But joining the cavalcade to Mernda this morning, with a group of my fellow tunnel picketers, presented unique charms all its own. One local, Hussein (above), delighted at being asked to participate in our online photo petition, embraced and kissed me on both cheeks as thanks. And this was not unusual.
People way out beyond the end of the train line are hurting bad. Abandoned as they so often feel, many of them were most grateful for our presence.
We learned how hard it can be to manage with only one car in Mernda. If the car is required to get to work by the primary bread winner, the parent at home can be utterly stranded and isolated without a second car. So the relative cheapness of housing in this outlying area is totally undermined by the costs of travel (petrol, car insurance, registration and maintenance).
|Boastful local billboard tells only part of the story|
Many locals know that the train once ran through to Whittlesea, but with the line currently ending at South Morang, Mernda and beyond is out on a limb. No wonder they responded strongly to our public transport message and were enthusiastic about attending the rally.
|Lizzie (9 years old)|
And it is not just the adults who are concerned either. One mother told me that at her daughter's school the children frequently talk about their worries and appreciate fully the link between excessive car use, emissions and the destruction of their environment.
I came away with only one regret today - that we had had to leave our dear old caravan behind in Fitzroy, where it had been blocked in by a car. I had been looking forward to being part of a convoy with our mascot at its head. But the receptivity of the people of Mernda and their keenness to join us in our opposition to the East-West Link made it all worthwhile. So make sure you are not left behind next time. Join us on the road!