“Sod the wine, I want to suck on the writing. This man White is an instinctive writer, bloody rare to find one who actually pulls it off, as in still gets a meaning across with concision. Sharp arbitrage of speed and risk, closest thing I can think of to Cicero’s ‘motus continuum animi.’

Probably takes a drink or two to connect like that: he literally paints his senses on the page.”

DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, Ludmila’s Broken English, Lights Out In Wonderland ... Winner: Booker prize; Whitbread prize; Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman prize; James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin)





13 January 2016


Gerry Karidis is a developer. His family business is said to be currently worth about $300 million. He is in the Twilight Farm game: building tupperware tuscanies for old folks. Some years back he bought a big swathe of vineyards (above) on the south side of McLaren Vale township, paying much more than their true worth, to replace them with 1200 units for aging  people who are not quite ready for their final visit to the nearby hospital.

Gerry was finally made aware that McLaren Vale is blanketed by a freeze on villa rash. Helped by the persistent efforts of the local parliamentarian, Leon Bignell, grape farmers and wine lovers gradually made such a nuisance of themselves with tractor rallies and whatnot, that the Character Preservation (Barossa Valley) Act 2012 and Character Preservation (McLaren Vale) Act 2012 were finally passed to protect vital agricultural land.

The vineyards Gerry bought, opposite the historic Salopian Inn, a brilliant local eatery, are covered by this legislation. And yet he has begun to uproot them.

Gerry has a formidable record of dealing with powerful politicians, perhaps assisted by his financial support.

That's him with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (above - photo from InDaily).
 He says it took him many years to get over the furore triggered by his introduction of the shady Pakistani financier Tirath Khemlani to the Labor government of Gough Whitlam in order to fund an adventurous $4 billion mining and development program.

This eventually led to the coup which saw the Governor-general hand power to Malcolm Fraser's Liberals.

Apart from Gerry's influence on the look of the south side of town, McLaren Vale also shows the influence of the Woolworths/Coles/Shoppies' union with ugly developments like this Coles in the main street. No shade, no seating, no sense of sensitivity or civic amenity.

One would think that the main town in the middle of one of Australia's most important wine and tourism regions would be governed with a lot more sense of appropriate design.

Opposite Coles, the millionaire winemaker Warren Randall, owner of Seppeltsfield in the Barossa, has sold up the historical Southern Vales/Tatachilla winery complex and left us with this loveliness below: 

The only indicator of this site's remarkable history is Cyril Pridmore's ironstone Sylvan Park cellar (centre) completed in 1901.

The village's main street is always a mess of unsightly signage and advertising. 

Because its nature is primarily agricultural, such a town must always have space for the appropriate rural support businesses.

But c'mon: surely we can do better than this current festering mess!

McLaren Vale photos above by Philip White ... photos below from McLaren Vale - Trott's View [2007], photographed by Milton Wordley, Christo Reid, Don Brice and Eric Algra

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