Fortress Maitland

Fortress Maitland is the consideration of Maitland as a closed system, isolated from its surrounds with no supplies in, and no production out. In short, little more, than a passageway, with trucks and other vehicles passing through on their way to somewhere more interesting.

Fortress Maitland is not sustainable it will wither and die, joining the many rural, and coastal towns around the world which are now abandoned villages  or ghost towns and overgrown with grass.

Examples of abandoned towns and villages include:

  1. Houtouwan, China
  2. Roghudi Vecchio, Italy

Towns and villages become abandoned because of geographical unemployment or structural unemployment: which results when a local resource is exhausted or an industry ceases to be viable. For example a mining town shuts down when the copper runs out, a fishing town when the fish run out, and a ship building town when the need for ships decline and production shifts elsewhere. Similarly car building towns close when car assembly shifts elsewhere.

As far as I am aware Maitland evolved servicing the local farmers, and such services which arrived brought additional people who needed still further services. But it seems over the years businesses have been closing down.

I am guessing in the early years horse and cart were the primary means of transport between nearby towns, and also transport was also essential to communication. Since then we have had increased use of cars, radio, and telephones, and now we have the internet. Such technology change the logistics of the entire region.

It is already apparent that businesses in big cities like London, New York and Sydney are closing down their stores due to loss of trade to online stores. Online stores solve many logistics problems, they better identify the needs to be satisfied, they reduce money tied up in inventory, they can be operated by manufacturers direct to customers eliminating  the problem of retailers not putting product on their shelves. However there is little point being able to order online if there is no delivery, or delivery takes too long. Clearly in the big cities stores are in walking distance of those who live in the city, there is no need for them to order online, they can simply walk down the street and buy.

But then again Adelaide retailers seem to be always complaining about loss of trade to the suburbs, and wanting to attract more people into the city and away from the suburbs. The issue for the stores isn’t the people in walking distance, its the people who use mechanical transport and travel considerable distance. If can order online in the middle of the night and goods arrive within 48 hours: is there need to be hassled with traffic and parking to travel to the city. Why risk an accident driving, when goods can be delivered direct to door step? What additional value is there in visiting the city? People can research goods online any time of the day and order such goods. For most goods, people have no need to touch and feel before they buy, they may need to see, and otherwise read a specification about. Also their desire for having the goods now, is curtailed by the stores not being open now, or a need to travel and purchase, so it will be a few hours before they can actually get the goods. So 24 to 48 hour wait is not a big ask, even so, some suppliers are aiming for delivery within a few hours. Faster delivery depends on improved courier and delivery services.

If big cities are being changed by the internet, then rural towns will also be changed. Maitland is about 2 hours drive from Adelaide, and it has few local suppliers. Local suppliers will only thrive if they have the goods in the store now, not if they can order the goods in tomorrow. Furthermore the local population is unlikely to provide an adequate size market to be sustainable, so the passing traffic needs to be halted and involved in trade before passing through.

The three largest facilities in the area are grain silos, hospital and retirement home. Trucks racing through the town not entirely compatible with retirees in wheelchairs and motorised gophers. Whilst the distance from hospitals with suitable facilities to provide service to the aged, makes it a questionable location for a retirement home. It seems the local hospital doesn’t exactly complement the presence of the retirement home. So there are issues to be resolved with respect to communication and transportation between neighbouring towns and their dependent services.

So fortress a bad idea, a gateway along our own version of the silk road maybe a better idea. Or maybe even an inland Hong Kong, an entre port to the rest of the Yorke Peninsula.

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