My first acquaintance with the great green snake of Wyargine was when I was about 5 years old.
I was being carried on my father`s shoulders through my grandfather’s garden anticipating the delights of swimming at the beach. This prospect was suddenly eclipsed by the sight of what, to my young eyes, appeared to be an enormous green snake. A veritable python slithering down an angophora – shiny, sinuous against the velvety pink trunk.
My father reassured me that the green tree snake is harmless to humans. It vanished. We travelled on. I have never forgotten that moment. On the Summer night that I am writing this I can hear the call of the mo poke, an owl, who is a long time denizon of Wyargine. Is it a love call or is he telling me that he too remembers the great green tree snake, but possibly not with my relaxed nostalgia.
The idea for the Greensnake / Angophora sculpture came to me as I was looking at the plan of my access way as viewed from above. It reminded me of something and I can only describe what followed as presence of mind. I saw superimposed on the plan the image of the great green snake on the angophora. I realized then that the natural curve and contour of the access way provided a perfect frame for me to express the full wonder of that childhood experience in a sculpture. I see the sculpted snake itself as comprised of native grasses – its shape being defined by cobblestones of varying tone and colour to suggest the quality of the trunk of an angophora. The grasses being stirred by the gentle breezes will form undulating currents to suggest the snake in motion. It will be viewable by passers by from all directions and indeed participated in by those passing over it. The adjacent wooden staircase leading will form a splendid viewing platform to enjoy the sculpture in its entirety. The great green snake will become in time a part of the spirit of Wyargine.
WHY THE SERENE FAMILY HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO SECEDE FROM MOSMAN
SUCCESSIVE BUREAUCRATIC ERRORS LEAD TO SECESSION
Written as it happened. November 2004.
The following is the ongoing saga of an ordinary Sydney family seeking proper access to their home.
1993 was a very good year.
You own a house and you share it with a wife and child. You think it is time to provide safe easy car access for your young family.
Now, our frontage provides all the things we need, like electricity, water, the sewer and the telephone — but we cant drive on it.
You see our bit of road is unbuilt and we would need to to join up with the built section further along.
So our drive had to be quite a lot longer than that of most people whose entry just joins on to the pavement. We do have a right of way over a neighbouring property but it`s too steep to get on to our land.
So in went the plan, Easy? — Not so easy
Our baby daughter was two
We were young and full of hope and absolutely delighted when, guess what? Approval in Principle was granted, subject to our engineer doing drawings. Council wanted changes which was fair enough. The plan was resubmitted and advertised with required amendments in 1995. Approval in Principle was again granted in 1995 subject to more engineering detail involving the piping of lots and lots of the Council”storm-water drain.
Then we got a letter asking us to delay work while Council did roadwork and drainage in the unbuilt Road
Further amended engineering details were provided as requested.
First disastrous error by Council
Then in 1998 — disaster. Our bit of unbuilt road was rezoned, without any notification to us, but not as road — as bushland.
Guess what you can’t do on bushland? Drive a car on it.
Now we love bushland and are members of the Wyargine Bushcare Group and haven’t missed a meeting since it started, but as it seems that since you can’t drive your car over bushland we and Mosman council were in a fix.
This was found to be a gross error that needed to be corrected by a provision made in an amended LEP 1998 no.8 by the State Government itself, to allow road access to our property.
Imagine our little driveway going all the way to the Minister.
We were getting a bit impatient by then but we were mightily impressed.
Our daughter was now at school
There were so many changes to plans required by Council. Four in one year!
Our engineer was dizzy! It was discovered that the drainage culvert we had to cross to get to our land was really a creek so – no piping wes necessary, which was good, but Lot’s more plan changes.
Then it was discovered that we needed another absolutely new plan for associated work on our own land.
We were still young but had less enthusiasm. Our daughter was growing up and doing ballet.
We battled on. In went the final plan with all the amendments council required. 11 years later our “integrated development plan”, which included an associated vegetation management plan of selected approved native plants, was wearily sent off to Council.
Local ginger groups were concerned about frogs, aboriginal relics, acid soil, etc – literally hundreds of different issues,
Some became confused, thinking that our modest access-way, which I also saw as a wonderful sculpture of a green snake dreaming ( and we could hardly wait to show them) , was going over bushland reserve.
It was not, we explained. It was going over the unbuilt road. The Minister had remedied Council`s mistake, we explained patiently.
Second disastrous error by Council
We awaited the report by Councils senior planning officer with excitement.
No objection found valid !
Hooray! we had passed all the tests after 11 years.
But what was this? He advised refusal!! – because council had blown it again. The amended LEP had been incorrectly worded and drawn, would you believe, in spite of omissions being queried by State Government officers. So it would just have to go back to that Minister again. But Council would first have to vote again to send it back to the Minister. It seemed to me that it would be the fair, right and natural thing to do.
November 2004 — Armageddon !!
Unaccountably this new council decided NOT to correct that technical error of the previous Council’s officers even though it went right against the express wishes of that council. They refused to send it to the Minister. Things had changed, we were told.
The community was against it. — What community?
The objectors had been proved totally wrong by the officer.
And what about our right to access?
It had been before Council umpteen times for changes to this and that and we hadnt taken it to court, as we were advised to do, because we had faith in our Mosman Council to get it right.
We feel betrayed and cheated.
Our little daughter is now thirteen with a bicycle.
I have a vision of her one day riding out of our gate over a magic little bridge, crossing the creek and riding up the Green Snake Dreaming Access way into the broad sunlit uplands of Mosman.
My family is still waiting – ELEVEN YEARS LATER
Paul Ashton Delprat
dated – November 2004
POSTSCRIPT – THE SEARCH FOR FAIRNESS AND EQUITY
The above was written in November 2004 when the family was in despair. They were aghast because they felt that we were facing insuperable odds. They agonised that they should have been more vigilant.
It was impossible to anticipate how or where things would or could go wrong. They had to get on with their lives. But isn’t it said that it is always darkest before the dawn. On the historic evening when they returned from council with sad news for their children, an idea was taking form in Paul’s mind. “Why should they play on what appeared to be an uneven playing field ?” One, which experience had shown, was not, in their view, fair and equitable. They should create a playing field of their own.
Enter – “The Artists’ Principality”
“The Prince of Wy” was a long standing Persona who had figured in Paul’s paintings of The Artists’ Principality and was also echoed in his theatrical experience, as he had played Shakespeare’s Prospero in his youth. He mentioned “The Prince” to his wife and over the phone to a dear friend, who had rung up to hear the outcome of the meeting. “Paul thinks we should secede from Mosman.” “Go for it !” The decision was unanimous. “There is nothing to lose.”
The rest, as they say, is history. Documents were exchanged. The Mayor accepted the Decree of Secession and Mosman Municipal Council has subsequently been endeavouring to fix the mistakes.
The family has been motivated to move forward positively and creatively, especially happy in the knowledge that their little Micro nation, The Principality of Wy – The Artists’ Principality, has been an inspiration to many others who have felt powerless in the face of adversity. Many, on being made aware of the cold reality of the issues at stake for the family, have expressed support. They have imagined themselves in the same position. The fundamental principals of fairness and equity are deeply ingrained in the Australian psyche, a country born bitterly out of colonial inequality.
The ideals of the principality are founded in English liberalism of the 19th century. Individual creativity has always been the way forward. You, the reader, are viewing this on ever merging technology which enables, for the first time in history, each individual to become an entrepreneur, a creator – and this is the way of the future. Big is not necessarily better. In the principality it is seen that true progress is never reactionary, free thought is respected over superstition and that the individual is valued over the collective.
Is there something for us all to learn from this epic drama ? Paul thinks so, “Be very vigilant,” he says, – “and never, never give up.” Equerry
Pictured here is Prince Paul, in mufti, in the Wild Woods of Wy with Blossom one of the loyal four legged denizons of The Principality of Wy.Those not familiar with Australia would not know about the prevalence of spiders, snakes, heatwaves, flood and earthquake. On rare occasions these phenomena attempt to cross the border into The Principality of Wy.