A couple of decades ago, I stood for some time looking at a petrol bowser in Bedourie, Queensland, where petrol cost more than $1 a litre.
We were amazed at this astronomical price, but the service station owner had motorists in a corner. There was no fuel in this direction for about 200km, and no fuel in that direction for about 200km, and a whole lot of desert in between.
It was the same sense of disconnect this week driving past petrol stations where fuel has now hit more than $2 a litre. And there’s no desert either side.
The years from 2020 on seem to have been some sort of global education process.
Here on the farm where we are usually at a distance from change, we have seen drought and floods, mouse plagues and pandemics, and family who live just one state away change their plans to visit countless times.
Every day now we hear of friends who have the very same virus we were frightened out of our wits about just a year or two ago. We have not yet had it ourselves, but we know it will happen.
Our kids have been in school, out of school, wearing masks, not wearing masks, playing sport, not playing sport.
We have all become either burnt out or wearily adaptable – resilient is the word we keep hearing. Every week seems to bring a new change.
And the latest one is fuel prices. Had this happened before the pandemic, the sky would have fallen. As it is, it seems people are barely lifting an eyebrow. We are a long way from saying “bring it on”, but it feels like just one more kick when we are all down.
Now that we can finally travel, no one will be able to afford to go anywhere.
It is hard to see an end in sight for this one, so, while the money is being spent on defence forces and keeping businesses afloat (but not, apparently, people who have lost their homes in a flood), why not go for broke and face up to the fact we are all going to have to suck it up and get an electric car. And we will need some sort of subsidy.
It won’t fix the problem. Something will still need to be plugged in somewhere at some stage. It will, however, help.
Finally, the electric car is about to really become mainstream.
Scary for those of us who have barely mastered the hairdryer.
It seems the world is going to drag us kicking and screaming into a new age. It is anyone’s guess exactly what that is going to look like.
Marie Low is a freelance journalist based in Gunnedah.