Friday, March 1, 2013

Stobie Pole Appreciation Society


Sometimes my work blows me away.

Never, would I ever have thought that I would ever be doing what I have done over the last few days.

It brings pride into my South Australian bones.

Better than the Crows flattening Essendon (the big cheaters) by 100 Points. Better than the knowledge that the Australian Grand Prix was so much better when it was held in Adelaide. It's even better than knowing that I come from a place that pours Farmers Union Iced Coffee on cornflakes and treasures the knowledge that FruChocs are only found in this one corner of the world in abundance.

I have been writing about Stobie Poles.

Stobie Poles?

Yes. Stobie Poles.



South Australia is the place which invented not only the Hills Hoist and the Pie Floater, but also the humble Stobie Pole. As a state of people we are so very blessed.

See, we folk from South Australia are just as clever as the Dutch, who take pride in inventing Slavery, Apartheid and Andre Rieu (or so my Dutch friends boast).

For those who don't know, the Stobie Pole is a another South Australian eccentricity. Invented by a Mr James Cyril Stobie, this brilliant engineer from the early part of last century took a couple of railway sleepers and filled the middle with concrete in the early 1920s and hoisted the telegraph and electricity wires on them and took out a patent on them.

As South Australia is a very dry state with not that many trees which can be turned into telegraph poles, this appeared to be a really good idea. Also, as South Australia is riddled with white ants (termites) wooden poles were deemed not that practical - who needs a power pole holding up the wires when they're only going to be munched down to a toothpick in a couple of years?

The first Stobie Pole was erected on South Terrace in Adelaide in 1924.

Stobie Poles are a bit of an Adelaide icon - like the Hills Hoist and the Pie Floater and FruChocs.

They are also ugly. Practical, but not that attractive.

And here I was, fresh of the plane in England in 1991 thinking that everywhere in the world you would find a Stobie Pole. It appears that everywhere else in the world they don't have these ingenious engineering marvels. Hunks of trees hold up the electricity and phone wires - and they're called power or telegraph poles. That really put me in my place. Nobody had heard of these wonderful objects which you could lean your bike against or tie your dog up to (Stobie Poles have a number of uses, yes…)

And they are vicious too, these Stobie Poles.

A Stobie Pole is one of the few things that can stop a MAC truck dead in its tracks going at 100 kph in under a second. The MAC truck will always come off second best. They are very good at jumping out at cars late at night. The Stobie Pole is an aknowledged killer in South Australia - more hoons die at the foot of a Stobie Pole than any other object in existance.

I know that some men like to water stobie poles when they are coming home from the pub late at night - but as wonderful as they are, Stobie Poles will never grow anything - they are of course inorganic but this does not mean that they do not have a character or a soul.


Stobie Poles do nasty things to Ferraris too

Stobie Poles have some people who are sympathetic to their plight. I have a fond memory of a friend telling me how her partner always used to feel sorry for Stobie Poles because cars kept running into them.

I kid you not.

In some of the more genteel suburbs of Adelaide they have artists paint them up and plant flowers at the base of them to try and make them a little prettier. Personally, I don't think that's all that necessary.

When you come from South Australia you recognise that some things are just there and have to be loved in their entirity, warts and all.

The Stobie Pole is the red-headed stepchild of the glamour model and the shonky criminal lawyer. It can be likened to a dopey pit bull terrier - never up to much until provoked.

Personally, I think that we should embrace the practicality and charm of this South Australian native. Maybe we should get Stobie Pole Appreciation Society going….

I think I need a long weekend.

3 comments:

Professor Prikkebeen said...

1. the better and more inventive solution is to put the wires underground. Less ugly, less risk of damage - also to Ferraris (hope the not-so-poor bugger did survive)
That would be something that the Dutch would do...

2. Australia GP is in Melbourne. It has been for over 16 years. Get over it!

Kath Lockett said...

You're right - I'm now all nostalgic for the sight of a dry South Aussie street lined with stobie poles...

Bron said...

As an Essendon supporter.. well.... yeah not much to say at the moment. thank you for teaching me something I had no idea about!