Bushwhacked: Calming cranes light up skyline

IS IT really a decade since I had the idea of standing for the City of Greater Bendigo Council? Really? A decade! The bruising hasn’t even entirely faded yet.

But I was thinking about that one four-year term on council last night while staring at the beautiful Bendigo skyline, dominated by the breath-takingly impressive four cranes on the new Bendigo hospital site.

Ben, Maximus, Cranium and Lucy in the Sky can be seen from almost anywhere in the city, day or night, but most powerfully at night when they are illuminated.

So, why did standing in my back yard, gazing at mighty cranes, make me remember that one council term?

In that time I became very good friends with David Jones, who served two stints as mayor. David and I shared the exasperation of always fronting barrages of unrest from the same people, week after week, month after month and year after year.

It got to the stage when we could have generated the angry letters ourselves: “We the people are angry at (insert subject here) and demand that Crs (insert names) be held accountable etc etc etc.” One night, standing on a verandah overlooking the city, David was admiring the new Bendigo Bank building which was slowly climbing out of the ground… again surmounted by a massive crane, something previously all-but unknown in Bendigo.

He joked: ‘Y’know, I reckon the council should buy a couple of those and just move them around the city.” Why?

“It seems to have calmed the regularly irate people. It’s a symbol of things happening, of progress.” 

There was – as usual – some truth in the jest. Some folk still criticise the Bendigo Bank headquarters, but nowhere near as many now. It’s as much a part of our remarkable city skyline as the Sacred Heart Cathedral and the Telstra satellite dishes.

I sense it’s the same with the hospital cranes. People cannot fail to notice something VERY big is going on.

And I have an idea. (You knew this was coming, didn’t you?) Modern construction cranes are the equivalent of the Victoria-era mining poppet legs: giant skeletal constructions designed to lift massive weights and to build a city and a state.

It’s the same with Ben, Maximum, Cranium and Lucy in the Sky. These phenomenal pieces of industrial art are bringing a new wealth up out of the vast crater they are rooted in. A cross between the Eiffel Tower and the War of the Worlds.

Maybe a symbol of the new City of Greater Bendigo, one which looked forward as well as back, should be a construction crane?

I reckon David would love the idea… as long as he didn’t have to chair the protest meetings.

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