Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Oz Fun Facts and Pics, continued



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

Sydney Harbour Bridge on its Opening Day

After six years' construction, the Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened on Saturday, March 19, 1932. Captain Francis De Groot, a member of the proto-fascist New Guard organisation, preempted the bridge's official opening, riding up on horseback and slashing the ribbon with his sword. De Groot was dragged from his horse by police and later convicted of offensive behaviour. The ribbon was retied and cut by the New South Wales Premier, John Lang. The bridge, pictured from the North Shore, has become one of the city's major traffic arteries, and defined the Sydney skyline for decades. 

Extra comment:

De Groot breaks the ribbon and declares the bridge open "in the name of the decent and respectable people of New South Wales". While many accounts say de Groot succeeded in slashing the ribbon, at least one eyewitness has disputed the claim and suggested it was probably broken by the hooves of his rearing horse. De Groot said his action was in protest that the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Philip Game, had not been invited to perform the ceremony. He later returned to Ireland where he died.

Premier Jack Lang cuts the reconstituted ribbon.

Contraband koala cuddles corporal during WWI

Members of the Australian 9th and 10th Battalions smuggled animals from home aboard transport ships, with wallabies, koalas, possums, and at least one kangaroo embarking on the long journey to Egypt. While it is believed many died as a result of improper diet, a number of koalas and possums survived on the same rations as horses while at Mena Camp in Cairo. A corporal, assumed to be on the staff of the 2nd Australian general hospital, holds one of those koalas. The smuggled animals served as pets and military mascots, offering companionship and boosting morale.

Fearless dog takes on shark — and wins

In 1938, a dog from the town of Queenscliffe, Victoria, became a local celebrity after he won a fight to the death with a thresher shark. On July 20, a brown cattle dog owned by a packer from the Fisherman's Union, spotted the shark from a pier and started "barking excitedly". Before fishermen could fetch a rifle to dispatch the 1.5m fish, "the dog jumped into the water, seized the shark, and swam with it about 40 yards [36.5m] to the landing." With the still-living shark in the dog's jaws, the men cut its throat and killed it. The dog, whose name is not recorded, was lucky to escape unscathed: threshers use their long tails like bullwhips to stun or kill their prey.


A thresher shark


The birthplace of Australian surfing

When the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Sydney's Manly Beach in 2014, they were presented with a custom-made surfboard. The choice of gift was no accident: Manly is "the birthplace of Australian surfing". The first person to bring a surfboard to Australia was apparently local show-off Tommy Walker, who rode Manly's waves on a board he bought for $2 in Waikiki, Hawaii. ("The use of surf-boards of the Honolulu variety" quickly became "the rage at Manly".) It was long repeated as "indisputable fact" that the first person to surf in Australia was visiting Hawaiian swimmer Duke Kahanamoku, who famously rode the waves at Freshwater Beach in December 1914, but surfing historians pooh-pooh this is as "a romantic myth". These "boys and their boards" were photographed on Manly Beach in 1938.


Prince Willian and Kate Middleton at Manly

It brings to mind earlier visits to Oz beaches by Royalty . . . 

Diana at Terrigal Beach, 1988

Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh at Bondi Beach, 1954
(You don't suppose that the lifesaver in the centre of the pic is a time traveller taking a photo with a cellphone?)

The Australian Women's Weekly cover of February 1954. Elizabeth was the first reigning monarch of Australia to set foot on Australian soil.

Tommy walker with surfboard at Manly 1909

Tommy Walker doing a headstand on a surfboard at Yamba in the 1911-1912 season

Duke Kahanamoku, the 'grandfather of surfing', who popularised the sport in Australia a century ago, with shows off his style with a friend in Sydney.

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