Home / Essays / 2015 / May / Wired, transformed and sumptuous

Wired, transformed and sumptuous

There are many ways of looking at this idyllic Australian rural scene.

The soft green landscape is Australia as Europeans might have imagined it should be and so rarely is. The farm gate uses those very practical timber railings to mark the entrance, with strained fencing wire to do the actual work of keeping the stock in.

The whole arrangement seems to say here lives a competent farmer, one more occupied in running the farm than creating an impression of wealth and style.

The farm house is a modest 1930 style of stone construction with a galvanised iron roof, not all that well adapted to the searing heat of the Australian summer. It is immaculately cared for and plays the part of a well-loved homestead so well.

In the picture’s foreground is a tangle of wires . . . fencing, telephone wires and power lines. What a mess.

I used to try to frame such things out, thinking that they spoiled the essential truth of the rural aesthetic. But now I frame them in.

Without these ugly wires, life down on the farm would be truly unbearable. No electronic communication. No power from the national grid.

Even in this prosaic mode, I must admit that the damned things are dreadful. The squat step-down transformer perches on the power pole with ugly utility, shouting out its weirdness.

Think though, of what a difference these things make to the people who live out beyond the town limits.

Thankfully, mostly, we casual visitors to the country tend to factor out this ugliness. Our townie eyes are so used to our own urban blight that these wires and poles make the confronting country-ness of the wide open plains seem a little more familiar.

Mostly we don’t even see the wires and if we do, we just accept them as a given without thinking about the purpose of it all. Let alone the effort it took to put all that messiness up there and then keep it functioning.

The more I look at the country, the more fascinated I become with the defining power that wire has in the Australian rural landscape . . . for good and bad.

This is a trivial and obvious thought.

I have no idea why I consider that it has some deep underlying importance that I am yet to fully grasp.