JOHN Anich has seen a lot of changes in his seventy-seven years liv­ing in Moss­man - some good, some bad

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

Most of all, the for­mer phar­ma­cist, sugar cane farmer and tal­ented ten­nis player laments the loss of the “free and easy” life­style of a by­gone era.

In those days, he says, Moss­man was a sim­ple small town.

Ev­ery­body was a neigh­bour or friend, and de­spite min­i­mal technology, man­aged to keep in touch and look out for each other.

Back then, so­cial net­work­ing was of the face-to-face va­ri­ety - meet­ing in the street, beach par­ties, com­mu­nity dances and go­ing to the pic­ture the­atre.

“These days ev­ery­one is too busy watch­ing TV,” Mr Anich said.

In fact, it was the loss of com­mu­nity in­ter­ac­tion which he rated as “one of Moss­man’s biggest down­falls”.

“As a child, life was so free and easy. We used to play out on the streets and walk up moun­tains, play cricket on the road and walk to school ev­ery day,” he re­called.

“Once we be­came adults, ev­ery­body knew each other. We went to par­ties on the beach where some­one would play the gui­tar and some­one else would play the ac­cor­dion.

“Vir­tu­ally ev­ery week­end the town’s dif­fer­ent as­so­ci­a­tions such as the ju­nior farm­ers, churches and foot­ball club, would have a dance.”

These events were al­ways al­co­hol-free un­til even­tu­ally clubs in­tro­duced “grog” to make money, af­ter which night­clubs in Cairns be­came the week­end hotspot for young peo­ple.

“Times are al­ways chang­ing which is good but we just need to keep up with it. That is why I en­joyed work­ing at the phar­macy be­cause I was able to keep in touch with ev­ery­one,” he said.

Anich’s Moss­man Phar­macy opened its doors in 1965 and re­mains the lo­cal phar­macy, al­though the busi­ness was sold in 1997. Dur­ing that time, Mr Anich had wit­nessed three nat­u­ral dis­as­ters - two floods and a cy­clone.

“The 1969 flood was the worst I have seen come through town. The wa­ter broke through the Home Hard­ware store and lo­cals were walk­ing in wa­ter as high as their chests,” he said.

“These poor old ladies were stuck in­side shops all sit­ting up on ta­bles, we had to res­cue them.”

News was not avail­able in­stantly and around-the-clock as it is now, and with no in­ter­net or mo­bile phones, lo­cal res­i­dents were less in­formed about where to go or what to do dur­ing an emer­gency. They sim­ply waited in hope and re­lied on each other to get by.

Mr Anich said he sup­ported pop­u­la­tion growth but at a sus­tain­able level and not at the ex­pense of the district’s agri­cul­tural heart­land.

“All of the Moss­man hills should have houses just to a cer­tain level, but no higher, so peo­ple can come to live and we can keep ex­pand­ing but leave agri­cul­tural land alone,” he said.

“We have all that nice land around town, be­hind town and at Wonga Beach that’s go­ing into hous­ing de­vel­op­ments and in time we won’t have any­where to grow sugar cane, veg­eta­bles or cat­tle. That is what I would like to keep.”

Mr Anich said the Moss­man Gorge Gate­way project was an­other ex­am­ple of a sound con­cept be­ing poorly im­ple­mented.

In­stead of util­is­ing the ex­ist­ing cane tram­line which linked the town and gorge, vis­i­tors would be taken in and out by bus which of­fered “no ben­e­fit to the rest of the town”.

“It is a great idea but it is sim­i­lar to when Wool­worths was built, it split the town,” he said.

An­other ini­tia­tive Mr Anich would love to see was the es­tab­lish­ment of a net­work of walk­ing tracks for lo­cal res­i­dents and tourists. He even con­sid­ered do­ing it as a pri­vate ven­ture.

Mental health and ma­ter­nity ser­vices must be made avail­able to res­i­dents who should not be forced to travel out of the com­mu­nity to ac­cess es­sen­tial health care, he said.

But de­spite the changes and chal­lenges, Mr Anich be­lieves Moss­man re­mains a very tight-knit com­mu­nity.

“If there is a prob­lem, the com­mu­nity is right there,” he said. “They are there to help straight away with any­thing.”

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