Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Old Oz Photos and Facts, continued



Photo and commentary from the above site, with additional pics and comments from me.

Sydney’s professional rat catchers:

Sydney’s frontline defence against the bubonic plague came in the form of professional rat catchers. While some medical practitioners still believed the bubonic plague was largely spread through human contact, health authorities acted on evidence suggesting rodents played a role in its transmission. Squadrons of rat catchers formed, with some councils paying six pence per rat. Dressed in ordinary suits, rat catchers faced a high risk of contracting the infection themselves. Official records show more than 44,000 rats were killed and burned in a special rat incinerator. There were 12 major plague outbreaks in Australia between 1900 and 1925, with Sydney being the hardest hit.


Rat dogs pictured with their handlers, ca. 1905.

A story from 27 December 2014:

‘Rat catchers’ Louise Nelson, Graham Phillis and team leader Wayne Cartner on board their vessel, which keeps Sydney Harbour clean as they patrol and pick up rubbish
Rat catchers’ clean up waterways in Sydney Harbour, Parramatta and Lane Cove 
JIM O’ROURKE, The Sunday Telegraph
December 27, 2014 10:00pm 
“IT’S like a great, big treasure hunt,” is how Louise Nelson describes her job. “You never know what you are going to find.” After all, if you’re going to be a waste collector, this is surely the beat you want.  
Ms Nelson is one of 14 members of the Roads and Maritime Services crew that patrols Sydney’s waterways for rubbish and debris that could become a hazard to boating.

Affectionately known as the “rat catchers”, they are a throwback to a century ago when their predecessors worked to get rid of the rodents blamed for bringing bubonic plague to harbourside suburbs.  
Today, the team works to keep the navigable areas of Sydney Harbour, Parramatta and Lane Cove rivers free of floating waste. Team leader Wayne Cartner, who has been with the RMS for 26 years mostly as a harbour cleaner, said its vessels patrol from 6am to 6pm, seven days a week, 365 days a year across 5020 hectares and along 270km of foreshore. “After torrential rain the stuff that comes over the Parramatta weir is like a Bing Lee store,” Mr Cartner said. “There are old fridges, washing machines and TVs that people have either illegally dumped in the river or put on the bank and it’s been grabbed by the ride. “But it’s mostly plastic material like bottles that we have to pick up. They get carried down stormwater drains and then when the rains come the rubbish gets flushed out into the Harbour.”

Anzac the dog promoted to corporal

Military mascots were companions and a source of morale for their battalions. They were held to the same standards as their human counterparts, and rewarded or punished accordingly. During World War II, Anzac the Dog was promoted to corporal by Lieutenant Colonel Ferguson for his service. Comparatively, Septimus, a black Shetland stallion enlisted to the 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment in 1951, was charged with offences including being AWOL, kicking a superior officer, and the attempted biting of Sir John Lavarack, the governor of Queensland.


Septimus, a shetland pony mascot, is lead at the front of the march of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR), prior to embarkation for service in Korea. 3 March 1952

Steam train derails near Lithgow

The greatest civil engineering work in Australia at the time of its construction in 1869, the Lithgow Zig Zag made the area west of the Blue Mountains accessible by rail. While a tunnel was initially proposed and then rejected (it would have required 10 million bricks to construct), New South Wales Railways Chief Engineer John Whitton eventually settled on a zig zag method of ascent and descent. This method presented risks, and on April 4, 1901, a steam locomotive burst through the buffer stops of one section and almost fell into the valley below. It was not the only incident to befall the track. On December 8, 1908, a train stalled and divided. The second half rolled downwards, colliding with a stationary goods train and killing its guard. 


The Lithgow Zig Zag Railway is an Australian heritage railway, situated near the town of Lithgow in the state of New South Wales. It is known as a zig zag railway, sometimes called a switchback, in that the railway uses zig zags to gain height. It was opened by the not for profit Zig Zag Railway Co-op. Ltd. as an unpaid volunteer staffed heritage railway in October 1975. Operation of the heritage railway was suspended in 2012 following accreditation issues with the New South Wales Government. The railway was aiming to resume services in October 2013, but was then severely damaged during the 2013 NSW Bushfires and then subsequently by torrential rain. Repairs are ongoing and trials of restored rail vehicles and track commenced in August 2016 and it is planned to re-commence limited heritage operations in early 2017.

A historical view of the Zig Zag Railway line with Top Road and number 1 viaduct in the foreground, Middle Road and viaducts numbers 2 & 3, and Bottom Road still part of the Main Western line to the right

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