Paul Howson’s Website

Personal Reflections

Endless Growth

Have You Been to the Gold Coast Lately? If not, you may be surprised at just how far this city, for it is a city, has grown and continues to grow, consuming it seems ever more of the beautiful hinterland. We journeyed through the area last month. It was only a year since our last visit, but the extent of the housing and the audacity of developers, builders and home owners in pushing the boundaries astounded and shocked us. Those majestic and seemingly impregnible foothills of the Lamington plateau have now succumbed to the intrusion of the land developers. Everywhere you look, on each crest and ridge, there are houses. In places they are still sparse – lone sentinels challenging the wilderness. In other places, whole hillsides have been denuded and are now covered with roads and the signs of housing in various stages of construction.

If ever there was a sign of materialism gone awry this is it. The very natural assets which brought people here to live are slowly but surely being compromised and then destroyed. It is the culmination of a plague of mind gone outward, disconnected from the inner self, grasping ever more at external things.

What exactly about living in this city appeals I cannot imagine. Yet clearly it does appeal to an ever-growing number of people who eagerly snap up houses and apartments as fast as they can be built.

As we drove south along the Pacific Motorway we passed time after time, areas where only a few years before large tracts of bushland had graced the roadside and delighted the eyes of the traveller. But now these same vistas are of whole hillsides of identical apartments, townhouses or “McMansions”, with hardly a tree to be seen. A world of concrete and bitumen. A shrine erected to the glory of consumption and faith in the role of the motor car that makes it feasible to live in this way.

It is not a lifestyle which appeals to everyone, including this writer. Further inland, on the Darling Downs and south to the Granite Belt, an influx of new residents over recent years is testimony of the need felt by many to escape the city, be it Sydney, Brisbane or the Gold Coast. Yes, many newcomers are indeed escapees from the coast, now seeking a “tree change” because the “sea change” they might prefer is no longer available or affordable.