Fisher’s Ghost Festival named after a ripping yarn

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The Kontos RoportEVERY year the Fisher’s Ghost Festival gives Campbelltown a special feel.

It is such an exciting time, starting with the Friday night public announcement of the winners of the Fisher’s Ghost Festival art prizes down there at the arts centre.

Around 16 hours later, we will all be lining up to catch the festival parade from 1.30pm, and by then we will know another Fisher’s Ghost party is under way.

Liverpool just doesn’t realize what it misses out by its refusal to have a proper festival every year, even though it got close around about the time its bicentennial celebrations fizzled out in 2010.

And of course the Campbelltown festival is world famous because it’s named after a ghost – Fred Fisher’s ghost.

The story of the ghost is told and re-told every year but it is so disappointing that the villain of the piece, George Worrall and his final resting place never get a decent mention.

After he was hanged for the murder of Fisher, Worrall was buried near the southern arch of the Harbor Bridge, a delicious irony I would have thought for what was after all such a Sydney dispute – over property.

And Worrall ends up, in death, in one of the most picturesque spots in the entire Sydney region, while Fisher lies in anonymity in the St Peters cemetery here in Campbelltown.

As I said, I do love everything about the festival, and have done so for more than 30 years, but one thing bugs me: having two lots of fireworks, one on each of the two Saturday nights of the festival.

After forcing the ratepayers to fork out almost 12 per cent more in rates from this year – even after we mostly told council we did not support it the hike – you’d think council would not waste money on a second fireworks.

LAST WEEK I got talking to a woman of a certain age I was introduced to at St Peters Anglican Primary School, and after asking about my online newspaper she told me how upset she had been that many trees had to be cut down as part of the Airds renewal project.

Where will the koalas go now, she said.

And then she made the very valid point that she and every other affected resident should have been made aware of any plans before the trees were cut down.

And I said, well, in theory, you are already told, because as part of the planning approval process plans like that must go on exhibition and newspaper advertisements taken out to announce the project details, and the exhibition period and submissions deadlines.

And then this obviously much smarter person than me said, “but it seems not everybody sees these advertisements that appear in the newspapers’’.

Thinking about this later, I could see that planning authorities tend to fall back on this excuse a lot, saying to anyone who complains, well, we did advertise it in the papers, and you could have submitted your concerns during the exhibition period, etc.

Of course it’s what the planning laws require and they meet the requirements, so it seems clear the law needs to be changed to ensure that in this new age of electronic communications that as many people as possible are notified via any means available.

And the same goes for any council notices.

The good lady is right, but is anybody listening?


1 thought on “Fisher’s Ghost Festival named after a ripping yarn”

  1. Eric , this is indeed an area that will forever cause anxiety for some affected person or group that hasn’t seen the small sign posted on the site or read the small notice in amongst a dozen others in the paper.
    The only people that are usually notified in writing are those people within a pre determined area from any proposal. Is it the best we can do ? Well every council has its own version of a ” notification policy” and that seems to get modified after any big controversy , rolled out as a reason to delay a project by disgruntled groups while objecting to a proposal and used as point of complaint by applicants when it compromises them .
    The problem is we will never have the best solution for everyone.

    Ideally if the zone and its permissible uses including heights and setbacks of any structure are workshopped and allow any interested party to attend and contribute, then we can reasonably say the public is suitably informed and applicants can feel confident that following the rules will result in an approval.
    Eric it’s not always the developer of a big project that faces this issue, many a neighbor has taken issue with a proposed new residence to be built next door and creates havoc for months ultimately having unreasonable ability to make changes to a compliant proposal , usually the new family home and it becomes very emotional .


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