Honey, ah sugar sugar
You are my Casserres girl
And you've got me wanting you...
The Country Members
All aboard the coach, boys and girls, we're going on an excursion to the countryside today. Yes, we haven't really seen much of scenic rural Vodeo, so be sure to gaze out the window with keen interest as we fly down the Casserres Road. Bring a disposable camera, packed lunch, and hip flask (containing Vodean rum, what else?). Just south of Eteven we cross into Voces Shire, and look! Sugar cane for miles!
Let me get the obvious point out of the way here first - this is sugar cane country. Vodeo is one of the world's more notable sugar exporters, despite its relatively small size, and across the country you'll find postcard-worthy views like this. Sugar has always been Vodeo's most important crop: it's what brought the money in in the colonial days, it provided the money to kick-start the process of industrialisation, and even though its importance in the Vodean industry has lessened, the humble sugar cane still holds pride of place in Vodeo: it's on the country's coat of arms, even. As I've mentioned before, you won't see a Vodean dentist driving anything other than a Dominion. It's far from Vodeo's only crop - tea, coffee, cocoa, cotton, rubber, tobacco, and fruit are all big export businesses, but sugar has always managed to come out on top.
Patamaron: Trouble at t'mill
We will leave the B77 for a short while and head west to the small village of Patamaron, roughly halfway between Casserres and Aberfeldy by road. It is a quaint village first established hundreds of years ago, but there's something on the edge of town that makes Patamaron a little different from other villages like it - a bloody great sugar cane mill. Such cane mills are as common as corner shops in Vodeo, and for good reason - once sugar cane is ready for harvesting, there's only a very small window of time to get the cane cut and sent to the mill for processing before it rots and is no good to anyone. In the days before railways, every plantation had its own mill, since there just wasn't the transport technology or time available for one mill to service a large area. The arrival of the trains widened the window for cane harvesting, and also meant that far greater quantities of sugar could travel longer distances to the mills. While it remained impractical to send sugar long distances (and still is), greater quantities of sugar making it to the mills in shorter times meant the mills expanded quickly, and that means more sugar for export. The money flowed in, fuelling the fire of industrialisation that had begun with the Avington Valley cotton mills about half a century before. Today, narrow-gauge railway networks exist all over Vodeo, such as the one we see converging on the mill at Patamaron. At harvest time, the network hums with the comings and goings of the cane trains, to the point where a bridge across one branch had to be built on the B77 because of the interruption to rail and road traffic. Milling sugar is hard work (just ask the poor men and women - slaves for some time - who had to do it by hand back in the day), but the pay is excellent - mill workers in Vodeo earn on average 17/3 (seventeen shillings threepence (that's pronounced "thruppince"), or about US$16.25) an hour, a good deal higher than the national minimum wage of 14/8 (about US$13.90). The mills aren't the massive employers they once were, but they remain an option for those not interested in a scholarly life.
Casserres: A fly town
The main town and council seat of Voces Shire, Casserres is one of Saviso's biggest satellite towns. Also a sugar town for many years, in the mid-19th century it became an important coaching stop for gold miners flocking south to Victoria and Storbada to try their luck splashing around in the rivers. In the 1980s and 1990s, the town's population began to swell as Savisans, tiring of city life but not wanting to give up their well-paying jobs, began moving to the countryside where they were still in range of Savisan-style coffee (meaning it's served with blithe indifference, price 7/6 holy s—t!) and a Klappersacks department store. Today it's quite a nice place to live, with all the amenities of the town surrounded by the gentle countryside that has sustained the area for centuries. Casserres continues to grow thanks to overflow from the city, albeit with some of the tightest planning regulations in St Austell. These planning regulations are credited with ensuring the town's independence and identity remain intact, as I shall now explain.
You see, in the late 1990s fears emerged that Saviso's endless sprawl would end up swallowing the likes of Casserres, Batley, and Aberfeldy, all of which thrived thanks to the proximity of the city but had no interest in actually being part of it. The local councils - Audhill, Batley Cadenhead, Grable, and Voces- all enacted new planning regulations that implemented a green belt (known to the locals as the "sugar belt") to act as a buffer between them and the city. The Liberal provincial government wasn't pleased and tried to force the councils to back down, but the city folk in Saviso didn't count on the country members to have backbone. A long legal challenge erupted over what the powers of the provincial government were in regard to local government, a case which only ended when the Liberals lost government at the 2006 election and the incoming Federal administration pledged to respect the "character and charms of the rural boundary of Saviso". The townsfolk get to keep Saviso at arm's length, the cane farmers can continue tilling the soil, and the developers in the city rub their hands as they put up apartment blocks to cope with growth. Everyone wins?
You'll notice I haven't said that Casserres is a quiet town, because it's not - the Royal Vodean Air Force see to that. A few kilometres south of the town sits the RVAF Base Casserres, one of the largest in Vodeo. Established a few years before the Great War as a training field, it was quickly developed into a hub for fighter and bomber aircraft, many of which were manufactured in factories across Vodeo. As Vodeo became further enmeshed into the Ingerish Commonwealth in the 1950s, it soon became an integral part of the nation's defence system - in minutes, Spirit, Superior, and Maelstrom fighters could be up in the air to protect the capital from attack; or if so needed, the fearsome Consolidation bomber could lumber into the air, ready to bomb the living daylights out of Drabantian coffee shops. The townsfolk have long since become used to the noise from RVAF aircraft rocketing overhead, and can identify all the aircraft by sound alone, but the noise is a small price to pay for the security and employment the RVAF brings to the town (although that didn't stop Casserres from getting turned to glass in Radiation). Although on occasion things have been seen over Casserres that have made people wonder what they're up to down there (but more on that in a couple of months).
Around the South
Voces Shire is named for the eponymous Voces River, which begins in the mountains in southern St Austell and flows to Lake Wririas, where it becomes the Saviso River for its last leg to the harbour. The Voces River is one of a number of waterways, large and small, that flow through the area between the Grable River in the west and Lake Audhill to the east - others of note are the Ledesma, Annesley, Young, and Cagorin Rivers. When the tropical heat gets too oppressive, what better way to cool off is there than to take a dip in the water? These waterways have given life to a number of small towns and villages that dot the countryside, nestled amongst the cane fields or hidden up in the Voces Range - places like Gralier, Haleyville, Alderville, Lotogai, Tremica, and Eyre. Here live the honest country people living the honest country lives that most Vodeans romanticise - they see themselves as a nation of farmers and people of the land, even if most of them live in towns and cities and only encounter soil when washing their potatoes for dinner.
Ah, the country. As a country boy, I have a special place in my heart for the rural parts, given I grew up in a small town. Given the amount of urban mapping I've done, I decided to take a break and head way down home to where the the grass is the springiest, the bees are the stingiest, and the birds are the wingiest, to see my sort of people, the honest people in a country town. Voces Shire is based on a number of places around Australasia, places best shown in list form:
- Casserres is very heavily based on Pukekohe and the Franklin countryside south of Auckland. Wyocu, south-west of Casserres, is a nod to the small town of Waiuku, west of Pukekohe.
- Patamaron itself is based on the village of Patumahoe, just east of Pukekohe, while the surrounding countryside is based entirely on the cane-growing areas of northern Queensland (Turnsole80 said I got the feel right, and he would know).
- Gralier, Lotogai, Haleyville, and the Ranges draw heavily on the Adelaide Hills in South Australia.
- Buckley and Grantville are loosely based on the Gippsland countryside south-east of Melbourne (although Grantville really exists and is a special place to me - it will be added to the map more than once).
- Wroleon and the RVAF base are loose reconstructions of the RNZAF bases at Whenuapai and Ohakea.
- Tremica and Eyre are built from my recollections of the Grampians in western Victoria (Eyre will eventually be a copy of Halls Gap, a lovely little town with log cabins I once spent a night in).
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Now let's see who caught the pun in today's title.
- Just say it out loud :P This is really good, and I'm really looking forward to see what rural areas of Vodeo, and regions that aren't necessarily mapped yet, have to offer. Also, would Empire Coffee serve anything that expensive as 7/6, and is the sugar to sweeten it produced in the Voces Shire? FictiveJ (talk) 03:09, 15 August 2018 (CEST)
- I was only planning on doing a little work around Casserres, but it mushroomed into mapping a swathe across from Cuthill to Lake Audhill, so hopefully I can use the momentum to do some more country mapping. It's a nice change of pace and style, I think. For 7/6 it would be reasonable to expect a very fancy drink in a very large cup; neither Empire, Grinders, nor Bluestone would charge so horrendously for a standard drink, but some very hipstery cafes in the cities might (deconstructed and served in an old shoe, of course). As for the sugar, well it's possible - Empire and the other cafes all source sugar from around Vodeo, so one day the sugar in your drink might be from Patamaron, another day from Vadiorare. — ParAvion (talk) 08:35, 15 August 2018 (CEST)