I was amazed as to what a hot topic it was. The internet was chock-a-block with complaints relating to ‘No Man’s Land’. I’m not talking about that terrible place where soldiers fear to tread during combative warfare.
No, I’m talking about that strip of land that runs between my property’s fence line and the bitumen - the footpath! Yes, I know it is designated Council land, but in my case (and I’m sure in yours as well), I’ve been maintaining it for nearly 30 years. And on my calculations, I just about own it, in owed, unpaid maintenance wages!
Why? Because I did some sums the other day, and here are the results. I have mowed that roughly 100m2 block over 1,200 times in my 30 years, and that is equivalent to mowing the Suncorp Stadium pitch over 110 times. It takes me a good half hour to mow, so that equals 600 hours, which at going mowing rates makes the total sum owed to me nearly $30,000. That’s enough to pay for nearly half of an average 100m2 block. So I’m well on my way to owning it!
But no, Councils across our wide, brown land all say in unison “Yes, we own the land, but it’s your responsibility to maintain it”. They add further in their defence, that if it were their responsibility to maintain the footpath, our rates would skyrocket.
On top of that, you just can’t mow ‘No Man’s Land’ anytime you want. If you mow outside of 7am-7pm Monday through Friday, or 8am-7pm on weekends, you’ll be fined. And yet there’s another no-no. You had better not park your car on the footpath either, as another fine is applicable for those who do! If a footpath tree root or two enter your property and damages your driveway, or worse still, your foundations - guess who is responsible for the repairs? You are!
So all in all, I’m confused. Council owns the land and makes the rules, and yet I, unpaid, maintain it. What happens if a passer-by is hit by a rotten branch falling unannounced from one of the footpath trees? Or a stone shoots out from my mower and blinds someone walking by? Or a pedestrian slips on dog poo left on the footpath by some careless dog owner and breaks a leg? Who is responsible? I hope I’m not! As the Diggers of old found out, it may be better to avoid ‘No Man’s Land’!
Illustration by Kevin Hawley