Brook over a bar­rel


Kalamunda Reporter - - Front Page - Sarah Brookes

THE town of Pick­er­ing Brook is dy­ing, say landown­ers who are call­ing for ac­tion to re­vi­talise the once thriv­ing com­mu­nity.

Lo­cal res­i­dent Garry Beard said the in­abil­ity of landown­ers to sub­di­vide or de­velop tourist ven­tures was a ma­jor fac­tor in the town’s demise.

“In the past the area had sig­nif­i­cant im­por­tance in the pro­duc­tion of fruit for ex­port and lo­cal mar­kets,” he said.

“It sus­tained it­self with two pri­mary schools, a su­per­mar­ket, a butcher, a post of­fice, hair­dresser, ser­vice sta­tion/hard­ware store and a me­chan­i­cal work­shop.

“Now all that is left is one school, a con­ve­nience store with lim­ited sup­plies, a small cof­fee shop and a me­chan­i­cal work­shop.

“Th­ese can­not sup­ply ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties to the com­mu­nity, so res­i­dents travel nearly 14km to the near­est su­per­mar­ket.”

Mr Beard said a large num­ber of once pro­duc­tive or­chards had been cleared and left fal­low.

“The Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture’s view that land in Pick­er­ing Brook should re­main as ru­ral agri­cul­tural zon­ing be­cause it is part of WA’s food bowl is grossly over­stated and out­dated,” he said.

“There is no longer enough wa­ter for ir­ri­ga­tion to sus­tain large or­chards and the re­turn on in­vest­ment is no longer prof­itable.”

Mr Beard said sub­di­vi­sion would en­able more peo­ple to move to the area.

“Half-acre lots would suit res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment which would be af­ford­able for young fam­i­lies who wished to en­joy a coun­try life­style close to the CBD,” he said.

“Five-acre lots would sup­port small cot­tage in­dus­tries, eco tourism and agri-tourism ven­tures.”

Pick­er­ing Brook res­i­dent Ray Fur­faro said the district could be­come a tourist des­ti­na­tion to ri­val Mar­garet River.

“It is no longer fi­nan­cially vi­able for most peo­ple to make a liv­ing from their or­chards and im­ped­i­ments to de­vel­op­ing the area as a tourist des­ti­na­tion is a ma­jor fac­tor in the town’s demise,” he said.

“A quar­ter of peo­ple who come to WA are look­ing for a pris­tine en­vi­ron­ment to visit, but we are be­ing blocked from sub­di­vid­ing and set­ting up tourism ven­tures.”

Fel­low res­i­dent Sue March­esano has been try­ing to sub­di­vide her cleared 10-acre prop­erty in the town’s cen­tre for 20 years.

“The area is no longer the thriv­ing or­chard area it was back in the ’70s,” she said.

“The sad­dest part is landown­ers are get­ting older and they are pour­ing blood, sweat and tears into pick­ing all the fruit to send to mar­ket and are barely mak­ing a liv­ing.

“Chil­dren look at that strug­gle and don’t want to stay on the land.”

Mayor John Giar­dina said two pro­pos­als by the City to de­velop Pick­er­ing Brook’s town site had been re­jected by the WA Plan­ning Com­mis­sion.

Cr Giar­dina said cur­rent state plan­ning poli­cies were overly re­stric­tive on de­vel­op­ment in the City’s ru­ral ar­eas and needed re­view.

“The Pick­er­ing Brook town site area is an im­por­tant an­chor to tourism in the Hills and this func­tion can­not be fur­ther en­hanced with­out WAPC ap­proval,” he said.

Plan­ning Min­is­ter Rita Saf­fi­oti said she hoped to have an an­nounce­ment in the near fu­ture on pos­si­ble ways to progress the town.

“Hav­ing grown up on an or­chard in Ro­ley­stone and now in the po­si­tion of Plan­ning Min­is­ter, I am ex­tremely keen to con­tinue work­ing with Pick­er­ing Brook and Carmel landown­ers to work to­wards an agreed vi­sion for the fu­ture,” she said.

Pic­ture: David Baylis­mu­ni­ d483091

Re­stric­tions to de­vel­op­ment are killing our town, say Pick­er­ing Brook lo­cals Garry and Ginny Beard.

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