Sunday, June 30, 2019

Thought for the Day



I mentioned yesterday that I am in Canberra for a few days to spend some time with father in law Noel.  Aged 92, he nonetheless has the widest jazz knowledge (and record collection) of anyone I know, was Secretary to the Executive Council and therefore the liaison between Gough Whitlam and John Kerr, and has lived in Canberra since 1949 after moving there from New Guinea.

In his honour, today’s Bytes looks at some items of interest about Canberra.


Canberra is the capital city of Australia. Founded following the federation of the colonies of Australia as the seat of government for the new nation, it is Australia's largest inland city and the eighth-largest city overall. The city is located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory; 280 km (170 mi) south-west of Sydney and 660 km (410 mi) north-east of Melbourne.


The arms of Australia's capital were granted on November 7, 1928.

The castle in the arms has three towers, which signify dignity, importance and grandeur of the city. The sword of justice represents the national authority. The mace symbolises the law making power. The crown shows the role of the sovereign in Australian government. The rose is the rose of York, which commemorates the contribution of the Duke of York in establishing Canberra as the seat of government.

The portcullis or gate above the arms are the link to the arms of Westminster in England, seat of the British parliament. Behind the porticullis is a gum tree, which represents growth and progress of the city.

The swans symbolise the Aboriginal and European people.


When the provisional national parliament opened in 1927, it was lumped in the middle of a barren-looking paddock.

Opening of Parliament House, May 1927

Sheep grazing near Old Parliament House, Canberra, 1940


Always intended as a temporary home for federal Parliament, Provisional (Old) Parliament House remained in operation for 61 years. When it opened on 9 May 1927, there were 101 members of parliament—by the time the building closed, this number had more than doubled to 224.

Construction of Old Parliament House, Canberra, 1923


While many of Canberra’s streets and suburbs are named after politicians, Callister St in Theodore pays tribute to a true Australian legend: Dr Cyril Callister, the inventor of Vegemite.

Dr Cyril Callister, 1893-1949


137 entries were received from 15 different countries to design Australia’s new capital city in 1912.   The competition was boycotted by the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Institution of Civil Engineers and their affiliated bodies throughout the British Empire because the Minister for Home Affairs King O'Malley insisted that the final decision was for him to make rather than an expert in city planning.

King O’Malley, 1858-1953


In the language of the Ngunnawal people, Canberra supposedly means either “meeting place” or “women’s breasts.” The former is generally thought correct, although a look at Mt Ainslie and Black Mountain from the right angle could suggest otherwise.

Mount Ainslie behind Lak Burley Griffin


While American Walter Burley Griffin took all the credit for designing the city, his wife Marion did all the drawings presented to the assessors.

Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin


Lake Burley Griffin is an artificial lake in the centre of the city and is the centrepiece of the capital in accordance with Griffin's original designs.. Griffin designed the proposed lake with many geometric motifs, so that the axes of his design lined up with natural geographical landmarks in the area. However, government authorities changed his original plans and no substantial work was completed before he left Australia in 1920. Griffin's proposal was further delayed by the Great Depression and World War II, and it was not until the 1950s that planning resumed. After political disputes and consideration of other proposed variations, excavation work began in 1960 with the energetic backing of Prime Minister Robert Menzies. Because of a drought, the lake's target water level was not reached until April 1964. The lake was formally inaugurated on 17 October 1964.

The view along Central Basin towards the Carillon and Defence Headquarters


Both before and after Federation, there was much public bickering about what and where a federal territory and Seat of Government should be. The Constitution said that the Parliament must choose a site at least one hundred miles (160km) from Sydney and that the Parliament would sit in Melbourne until a new parliament house was built in the new capital.  What is now Canberra was finally selected as a suitable site.


A competition was held in 1913 to name the new locality, the sentimental favourite being Canberra, which had been in common use in the district for more than three-quarters of a century. Nonetheless some of the nominated names, many tongue in cheek, included Cookaburra, Wheatwoolgold, Kangaremu, Sydmelperadbrisho, Meladneyperbane, Swindleville, Gonebroke and Caucus City.


A group of people are pushing for a Hollywood style sign on the disused quarry at Eagle Hawk Hill facing the Fedral Highway (2 kilometeres on the NSW side of the ACT border). The Canberra Times’ Tim the Yowie Man has described the capital’s current ‘sense of arrival’ by road as having “as much ‘wow factor’ as taking a packet of milk arrowroot biscuits to a dessert party.” I like the sign idea.


On 12 March 1913, London-born Governor-General Lord Denman, Labor Prime Minister Andrew Fisher and home affairs minister King O’Malley laid the city’s three foundation stones on Capital Hill. There had been considerable disagreement as to how the name Canberra should be pronounced. It was agreed that however Lady Denman, wife of the GG and who was to christen the city, pronounced it would be the pronunciation henceforth. At noon on that date she declared: 
‘I name the capital of Australia, Canberra, with the accent on the Can’.


It is ironic that King O’Malley, a strict teetotaller who had alcohol banned from the Australian Capital Territory until 1928, now gives his name to the most famous Irish pub in Canberra, King O’Malley’s. As it happens, O’Malley was also not Irish. 


Saturday, June 29, 2019

Thought for the Day

The Long Drop

I drove to Canberra yesterday to spend a few days with father in law Noel, who is an avid Byter, still active, still driving and still studying and learning.  Did I mention that he is 92?  Onya Noel!


The drive to Canberra is along the Hume Highway and Federal Highway, roads which have roadside rest areas honouring. and named after, Australian VC winners.  For overseas readers, the Victoria Cross is the highest military bravery award for valour in the presence of the enemy. The rest areas are off the main road, have picnic tables and most have toilets.  This is the Mackey VC rest area where Kate and I often break our journey to have lunch or a coffee stop at one of the picnic tables.

Yesterday I had occasion to use the toilets at the rest stop. It is an experience that one need not place on their bucket list.  You can tell from the above photographs that such rest stops are isolated without any services, plumbing, electricity or running water.  The toilets work on the principle of what is commonly called “the long drop”, aka as a pit toilet. For those people, especially younger readers, not familiar with this, it operates as follows:

At Mackey VC rest area, the condition of the toilets is horrible, the smell is bad and, when the door is closed, the ammonia in the closed area brings tears to one’s eyes.

Did you know that the romans would let vats of urine stand for weeks to create ammonia.  This was then mixed with water and wood ash, which was used for washing clothes.

The Mackey VC toilet experience reminded me of a poem I came across not long ago which I share with you today, which is the point of today’s post.

You can hear an audio version by clicking on:

Poor ‘Ol Grandad

-        Grahame Watt

Poor old Granddad’s passed away, cut off in his prime,
He never had a day off crook – gone before his time,
We found him in the dunny, collapsed there on the seat,
A startled look upon his face, his trousers around his feet,
The doctor said his heart was good – fit as any trout,
The Constable he had his say, ‘foul play’ was not ruled out.
There were theories at the inquest of snakebite without trace,
Of redbacks quietly creeping and death from outer space,
No-one had a clue at all – the judge was in some doubt,
When Dad was called to have his say as to how it came about,
‘I reckon I can clear it up,’ said Dad with trembling breath,
‘You see it’s quite a story – but it could explain his death.’
‘This here exploration mob had been looking at our soil,
And they reckoned that our farm was just the place to look for oil.
So they came and put a bore down and said they’d make some trials,
They drilled a hole as deep as hell, they said about three miles!
Well, they never found a trace of oil and off they went, post haste.
But I couldn’t see a hole like that go to flamin’ waste,
So I moved the dunny over it – a real smart move I thought –
I’d never have to dig again – I’d never be ‘caught short’.
The day I moved the dunny, it looked a proper sight,
But I didn’t dream poor Granddad would pass away that night,
Now I reckon what has happened – poor Granddad didn’t know,
The dunny was re-located when that night he had to go.
And you’ll probably be wondering how poor Granddad did his dash–
Well, he always used to hold his breath
Until he heard the splash!!

The Oz slang term “dunny”, meaning toilet, comes from the Scottish “dung” and “ken” (meaning house) to give “dunnekin”, an 'earth closet, (outside) privy'. Once the toilet moved inside, in Oz and NZ the “kin” was dropped and it stayed as “dunny”.

Pictures of outhouse frequently show a crescent moon shaped hole cut in the door. The hole was for light and ventilation.  One theory suggests that men’s outhouses had a star cutout, women’s outhouses had a crescent moon, this being for people who could not read.  In those days mean and women were often segregated, including sitting on opposite sides in churches.  Over time, men’s  toilets fell into such disrepair that only the women’s structures remained.

One last item . . . 

Friday, June 28, 2019

Thought for the Day

Funny Friday


Some mixed humour today, oldies but goodies.


 Paddy goes to the vet with his goldfish.
"I think it's got epilepsy" he tells the vet.
Vet takes a look and says "It seems calm enough to me".
Paddy says, "I haven't taken it out of the bowl yet".


A variation on the better known one . . .

Ole and Sven were fishing in the Minnesota opener when Sven pulled out a cigar. Finding he had no matches, he asked Ole for a light.
'Ya, shure, I tink I haff a lighter,' he replied, and then, reaching into his tackle box, he pulled out a Bic lighter 10 inches long.
'Yiminy Cricket!' exclaimed Sven, taking the huge Bic lighter in his hands. 'Vere dit yew git dat monster??'
'Vell,' replied Ole, I got it from my Genie.'
'You haff a Genie?' Sven asked.
'Ya, shure It's right here in my tackle box,' says Ole.
'Could I see him?'
Ole opens his tackle box and sure enough, out pops the Genie.
Addressing the genie, Sven says, 'Hey dere! I'm a good friend of your master. Vill you grant me vun vish?'
'Yes, I will,' says the Genie.
So Sven asks the Genie for a million bucks.
The Genie disappears back into the tackle box leaving Sven sitting there waiting for his million bucks.
Shortly, the sky darkens and is filled with the sound of a million ducks... Flying directly overhead.
Over the roar of the million ducks, Sven yells at Ole, 'Yumpin' Yimminy, I asked for a million bucks, not a million ducks!'
Ole answers, 'Ya, I forgot to tell yew dat da Genie is hart of hearing. Do yew really tink I asked for a 10-inch Bic?"


An Irish man went to confession in St. Patrick's Catholic Church. 'Father', he confessed, 'it has been one month since my last confession... I had sex with Fanny Green twice last month.'
The priest told the sinner, 'You are forgiven. Go out and say three Hail Mary's.'
Soon thereafter, another Irish man entered the confessional. 'Father, it has been two months since my last confession. I've had sex with Fanny Green twice a week for the past two months.'
This time, the priest questioned, 'Who is this Fanny Green?'
'A new woman in the neighborhood,' the sinner replied.
'Very well,' sighed the priest. Go and say ten Hail Mary's.;
At mass the next morning, as the priest prepared to deliver the sermon, a tall, Voluptuous, drop-dead gorgeous redheaded woman entered the sanctuary. The eyes of every man in the church fell upon her as she slowly sashayed up the aisle and sat down right in front of the priest. Her dress was green and very short, and she wore matching, shiny emerald-green shoes.

The priest and the altar boy gasped as the woman in the green dress and matching green shoes sat with her legs spread slightly apart, but just enough to realize she wasn't wearing any underwear.

The priest turned to the altar boy and whispered, 'Is that Fanny Green?'

The bug-eyed altar boy couldn't believe his ears but managed to calmly reply, 'No Father, I think it's just a reflection from her shoes'.


From the vault . . .

Two cattle drovers were standing in an Outback bar.
One asked the other, "What are ya up to, mate?"
"Ahh, I'm gunna be takin' a mob of 6000 cattle from Goondiwindi to Gympie."
"Oh yeah .... and what route are you takin'?"
"Ah, prob'ly the Missus ... after all, she stuck by me durin' the drought"


Limerick of the Week . . .

There once was a fellow from Perth

Who was born on the day of his birth.
He was married, they say,
On his wife’s wedding day
And he died on his last day on Earth.


Corn Corner:

From the diary of a Pre-School Teacher :
My five-year old students are learning to read.
Yesterday one of them pointed at a picture in a zoo book and said,
"Look at this! It's a frickin' elephant!"
I took a  deep breath, then asked..."What did you call it?"
"It's a frickin' elephant! It says so on the picture!"
And so it does. " A f r i c a n Elephant "

Do you know that when a woman wears a leather dress, a man's heart beats quicker, his throat gets dry,  he gets weak in the knees, and he begins to think irrationally?
Ever wonder why?
It's because she smells like a new golfbag.

I walked into Bunning's hardware at lunchtime, wandered down the  timber aisle and some old fart dressed in a red shirt with a green apron on asked me if I wanted decking. Fortunately, I got in the first half dozen punches and sorted the bastard out.
Those less suspecting might not be so lucky. Spread this warning on to all your friends.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Thought for the Day

Some Trucking Items


A truck driver stopped at a roadside diner one day to grab some lunch. He ordered a cheeseburger, a coffee and a slice of apple pie.

Just as he was about to eat them, three big hairy bikers walked in.

The first biker grabbed the trucker's cheeseburger and took a big bite from it.

The second biker picked up the trucker's coffee and downed it in one gulp.

The third biker ate the trucker's apple pie.

The truck driver didn't do anything or say a word as all this went on.

When they finished, he just paid the waitress and left.

The first biker said to the waitress, "He ain't much of a man, is he?"

"He's not much of a driver, either," the waitress replied. "He's just backed his 18-wheeler over three motorbikes."


 Some semi trailer decorations:

MKessing with you, thiis is the truck from the Smoky and the Bandit film

This one truck driver would often amuse himself by running over lawyers. Whenever he saw a lawyer walking down the side of the road he would swerve to hit him, enjoy the load, satisfying "THUMP" as he did so, and then swerve back onto the road.

One day, as the truck driver was driving along he saw a priest hitch-hiking. He thought he'd do a good turn so he pulled the truck over and said to the priest, "Where're you going, Father?"

The priest answered, "I'm going to the church 3 miles down the road."

"No problem, Father!" said the trucker, "I'll give you a lift. Climb in."

So the priest climbed into the passenger seat and the truck driver continued down the road. Suddenly the truck driver saw a lawyer walking down the road and instinctively he swerved to hit him. But as he did so he suddenly remembered there was a priest in the truck with him, so at the last minute he swerved away, just missing the lawyer.

Even though he was sure he'd missed the lawyer, he still heard a loud "THUD". Not knowing where the noise had come from, he looked in his mirrors but when he didn't see anything, he turned to the priest and said, "I'm sorry Father. I almost hit that lawyer."

"I know", said the priest. "Lucky I got him with the door!"

Cover of the 1976 album “You’ve Never Been Trucked Like This Before”, a collection of trucking songs,  by radio personality John Laws