Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Thought for the Day

Been There Before


Time for another story poem, dear Constant Readers, this one by Banjo Paterson, the man on the $10 note . . . 

The old $10 note 

The new $10 note 


Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson (1864 – 1941) was an Australian bush poet, journalist and author. Paterson wrote many ballads and poems about Australian life, focusing particularly on the rural and outback areas, including the district around Binalong, New South Wales, where he spent much of his childhood. Paterson's more notable poems include "Clancy of the Overflow" (1889), "The Man from Snowy River" (1890) and "Waltzing Matilda" (1895), regarded widely as Australia's unofficial national anthem. 

The name Banjo, by which he is popularly known, came from his pen name “The Banjo” which he adopted when he began writing for The Bulletin in 1885. That pen name in turn was taken from the name of a station racehorse owned by his family 


Walgett is a town in northern New South Wales, near the junctions of the Barwon and Namoi Rivers The name Walgett is from an Aboriginal word meaning “the meeting place of two rivers”. 

The Darling River in good times . . . 

 . . . and in bad, presently in drought 



There came a stranger to Walgett town, 
To Walgett town when the sun was low, 
And he carried a thirst that was worth a crown,
Yet how to quench it he did not know; 
But he thought he might take those yokels down, 
The guileless yokels of Walgett town. 

They made him a bet in a private bar, 
In a private bar when the talk was high, 
And they bet him some pounds no matter how far 
He could pelt a stone, yet he could not shy 
A stone right over the river so brown, 
The Darling river at Walgett town. 

He knew that the river from bank to bank 
Was fifty yards, and he smiled a smile 
As he trundled down, but his hopes they sank 
For there wasn't a stone within fifty mile; 
For the saltbush plain and the open down 
Produce no quarries in Walgett town. 

The yokels laughed at his hopes o'erthrown, 
And he stood awhile like a man in a dream; 
Then out of his pocket he fetched a stone, 
And pelted it over the silent stream -- 
He had been there before: he had wandered down 
On a previous visit to Walgett town. 


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Quote for the Day

25 Images of Bygone Sydney

 Biondi Beach, 1901 

Arthur Allen photographs the clipper Hereward wrecked on Maroubra Beach, 7 May 1898. 

Another pic of the S.S. Hereward aground. She was a full ship iron clipper built in 1877. It was shipwrecked on Maroubra Beach, Sydney on Thursday 5 May 1898. The Hereward was wrecked while travelling from Sourabaya. 

A rank of hansom cabs at Circular Quay in Sydney in 1889. 

Corner of Cumberland and Little Essex Streets, Sydney during Cleansing Operations, Quarantine Area, Sydney, 1900 after bubonic plague struck Sydney in 1900 

Jubilee School on lower Campbell St, Surry Hills in Sydney in 1912.The school was a ragged school, one that was organised by charitable institutions for destitute children. 

Paddys Market and Hay St, Haymarket in Sydney in 1929. 

1952 Tram Shed at Bennelong Point where the Opera House will be built. 

Argyle Street Arch Ring under construction, 1931 

Construction of the Argyle Street Arch at the Rocks, Sydney, 1931. 

Argyle Street, Arch, 1932 

Early excavations of northern end of York St in Sydney for southern approach to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, 1930. 

King St, Newtown, looking west from junction of King and Elizabeth Streets towards Missenden Rd in 1910. 

King and Ocean Street cable tram outside Edgecliff post office, c1898. 

Cars in a traffic jam at Sydney Markets, Haymarket, ca. 1930s 

Corner of Pitt St and Martin Place, Sydney, 1964. 

Glebe Fire Station, 1895 

Building works Pitt St, Sydney (year unknown). 

Dogman, during construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge (completed 1932) 

In 1957 the 1912 restriction of building heights in Sydney was lifted, changing the city skyline. The first building to break the barrier was the 26 storey AMP building (pictured) in 1962. 

Soup queue, Sydney, during the Depression 

Depression days, Belmore Park, Sydney, 1938. 

Dirigible over Tamarama, 1908 

Tin can used as a floatation device in learn-to-swim class, Domain Baths, c. 1930s 

Broadway widening - looking east along George St West (Broadway) towards Shepherd Street early 1930s

Monday, July 29, 2019

Thought for the Day

Jim Jones at Botany Bay

Where now there are international airport runways, container terminals and national parks, there once were convict ships, men in chains and men with guns to guard them.  The First Fleet, which settled Australia in 1788, was a consignment of convicts sent halfway across the world from England to Botany Bay.  Despite the move of convict settlements to Sydney Cove, in England the Australian penal colony continued to be referred to as Botany Bay, also reflected in Songs such as Botany Bay and Bound for Botany Bay. 


From Wikipedia:

Between 1788 and 1868, about 162,000 convicts were transported from Britain to various penal colonies in Australia. The British Government began transporting convicts overseas to American colonies in the early 17th century. When transportation ended with the start of the American Revolution, an alternative site was needed to relieve further overcrowding of British prisons and hulks. Earlier in 1770, James Cook charted and claimed possession of the east coast of Australia for Britain. Seeking to pre-empt the French colonial empire from expanding into the region, Britain chose Australia as the site of a penal colony, and in 1787, the First Fleet of eleven convict ships set sail for Botany Bay, arriving on 20 January 1788 to found Sydney, New South Wales, the first European settlement on the continent. Other penal colonies were later established in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) in 1803 and Queensland in 1824, while Western Australia, founded in 1829 as a free colony, received convicts from 1850. South Australia and Victoria, established in 1836 and 1850 respectively, remained free colonies. Penal transportation to Australia peaked in the 1830s and dropped off significantly the following decade as protests against the convict system intensified throughout the colonies. In 1868, almost two decades after transportation to the eastern colonies had ceased, the last convict ship arrived in Western Australia. The majority of convicts were transported for petty crimes. More serious crimes, such as rape and murder, became transportable offences in the 1830s, but since they were also punishable by death, comparatively few convicts were transported for such crimes. Approximately 1 in 7 convicts were women, while political prisoners, another minority group, comprise many of the best-known convicts. Once emancipated, most ex-convicts stayed in Australia and joined the free settlers, with some rising to prominent positions in Australian society. However, convictism carried a social stigma, and for some later Australians, the nation's convict origins instilled a sense of shame and cultural cringe. Attitudes became more accepting in the 20th century and it is now considered by many Australians to be a cause for celebration to have a convict in one's lineage. Around 20% of modern Australians, in addition to 2 million Britons, are descended from transported convicts.

Which is all by way of introduction to an anonymous song dating from pre 1830 when bushranger Jack Donahue, who is named in the song, was fatally shot by troopers. (The song is included in the Quentin Tarantino film The Hateful Eight).  


Come gather round and listen lads, and hear me tell m' tale,
How across the sea from England I was condemned to sail.
The jury found me guilty, and then says the judge, says he,
“Oh for life, Jim Jones, I'm sending you across the stormy sea.
But take a tip before you ship to join the iron gang,
Don't get too gay in Botany Bay, or else you'll surely hang.
Or else you'll surely hang", he says, says he, “and after that, Jim Jones,
Way up high upon yon gallows tree, the crows will pick your bones.”

Our ship was high upon the seas when pirates came along,
But the soldiers on our convict ship were full five hundred strong;
They opened fire and so they drove that pirate ship away
But I'd rather joined that pirate ship than gone to Botany Bay.
With the storms a-raging round us, and the winds a-blowing gales
I'd rather drowned in misery than gone to New South Wales.
“There's no time for mischief there, remember that,” they say
“Oh they'll flog the poaching out of you down there in Botany Bay.”

Day and night in irons clad we like poor galley slaves
Will toil and toil our lives away to fill dishonoured graves
But by and by I'll slip m' chains and to the bush I'll go
And I'll join the brave bushrangers there, Jack Donahue and Co.
And some dark night all is right and quiet in the town,
I'll get the bastards one and all, I'll gun the floggers down.
I'll give them all a little treat, remember what I say
And they'll yet regret they sent Jim Jones in chains to Botany Bay.


Listen by clicking on the following links:

Jason Roweth

Jennifer Jason leigh, The Hateful Eight soundtrack

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Thought for the Day

169 revisited: HMAS Melbourne and USS Frank E Evans


JUNE 3, 1969 

On June 3 1969 the light aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the destroyer USS Frank E. Evans of the United States Navy (USN) collided whilst participating in SEATO exercise Sea Spirit in the South China Sea. Around 3:00 am, when ordered to a new escort station, ahead of Melbourne from astern, Evans sailed under Melbourne's bow where she was cut in two. Seventy-four of Evans's crew were killed. 

Following the collision, the forward part of Evans sank shortly afterwards while the after part of the ship swung around and was secured to Melbourne's starboard side aft. US Navy personnel from the after section of Evans were taken on board Melbourne, either onto the flight deck or onto the quarterdeck. Then, after a search confirmed that no one remained in this section of Evans, it was let go. The 74 sailors who died, out of a total crew of 272, were all in the forward part which sank. Only one body was recovered. 

No RAN personnel died in the collision, though Melbourne sustained extensive bow damage. 

A joint RAN–USN board of inquiry was held to establish the events of the collision and the responsibility of those involved. This inquiry found that both ships were at fault for the collision despite admissions by members of the USN, given privately to personnel in other navies, that the incident was entirely the fault of Evans. 

Captain Stevenson, in charge of Melbourne, was court martialed, with charges being eventually dropped and a verdict of “Honourably Acquitted" being entered. He elected to retire, after what he was put through, as he no longer wished to serve under people he no longer respected. 

USN Commander Albert S. McLemore and Lieutenants Hopson and Ramsey also faced courts-martial for their contributions to the collision. Hopson and Ramsey both pleaded guilty to charges of dereliction of duty and negligence, and had their positions in the promotion list moved down. McLemore, who pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, was found guilty of dereliction of duty and negligently hazarding his ship. The formal reprimand effectively ended his naval career. In 1999, McLemore publicly claimed that the collision was his responsibility, as he had left two inexperienced officers with the con of his ship. 


Collison with USS Frank E Evans, artist depiction. 

The bow of HMAS Melbourne after her collision with USS Frank E Evans. 

HMAS Melbourne had been involved in a similar coliision in 1964.

On the evening of 10 February 1964, the Melbourne and the Australian destroyer HMAS Voyager were performing manoeuvres off Jervis Bay, New South Wales. Melbourne's aircraft were performing flying exercises, and Voyager was tasked as plane guard, positioned behind and to port (left) of the carrier in order to rescue the crew of any ditching or crashing aircraft, the same as the USS Frank E Evans at their collision. After a series of turns effected to reverse the courses of the two ships, Voyager ended up ahead and to starboard of the carrier. The destroyer was ordered to resume plane guard position, which would involve turning to starboard, away from the carrier, then looping around behind. Instead, Voyager began a starboard turn, but then came around to port. The bridge crew on Melbourne assumed that Voyager was zig-zagging to let the carrier overtake her, and would then assume her correct position. Senior personnel on Voyager were not paying attention to the manoeuvre. At 20:55, officers on both ships began desperate avoiding manoeuvres, but by then a collision was inevitable. Melbourne struck Voyager at 20:56, with the carrier's bow striking just behind the bridge and cutting the destroyer in two. Of the 314 aboard Voyager, 82 were killed, most of whom died immediately or were trapped in the heavy bow section, which sank after 10 minutes. The rest of the ship sank after midnight. Melbourne, although damaged, suffered no fatalities, and was able to sail to Sydney the next morning with most of the Voyager survivors aboard – the rest had been taken to the naval base HMAS Creswell. 

The four-month Royal Commission, headed by Sir John Spicer,[1] concluded that Voyager was primarily at fault for failing to maintain effective situational awareness, but also criticised Melbourne's captain, John Robertson, and his officers for not alerting the destroyer to the danger they were in. Robertson was posted to a shore base and banned from serving again at sea; he resigned soon after. Opinions were that the Royal Commission had been poorly handled, and Robertson had been made a scapegoat. 

Increasing pressure over the results of the first Royal Commission, along with allegations by former Voyager executive officer Peter Cabban that Captain Duncan Stevens was unfit for command, prompted a second Royal Commission in 1967: the only time in Australian history that two Royal Commissions have been held to investigate the same incident. Although Cabban's claims revolved primarily around Stevens' drinking to excess, the second Royal Commission found that Stevens was unfit to command for medical reasons. Consequently, the findings of the first Royal Commission were based on incorrect assumptions, and Robertson and his officers were not to blame for the collision. 


Artist’s depiction of the collision 

HMAS Melbourne on return to port following the collision.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Thought for the Day

2 Sentence Horror Stories


The art of telling a story in a minimum number of words is known as “flash fiction”.  Aesop’s Fables are an example of the genre and shows how far back it goes.  There have been noted practitioners of the art, including Walt Whitman, Somerset Maughan, Anton Chekhov, O. Henry, Franz Kafka, H.P. Lovecraft, Ernest Hemingway, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr and Philip K. Dick, although it is disputed whether (to win a bet), as alleged, Hemingway also wrote the flash fiction "For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn".


Reddit recently had readers posting two sentence horror stories, resulting in website Bored Panda posting a selection.  Here is some of the Bored Panda flash fiction 2 sentence horror stories, followed by a selection from reddit.


From Bored Panda


From Reddit


I held onto my husband as we kept running, not looking behind us even once.

The hysterical screams of our little girls lured the creatures away from us, giving us a final shot at survival.


When I was a little kid and awoke from a bad dream, my grandmother would sit on the edge of my bed, rub my back and say, "There, there - ghosts aren't real."

It would have made me feel better if she hadn't died before I was born.


Every house has that one old creaky floorboard.

It sounds even louder when you're supposed to be home alone.


There’s nothing worse than your own family not listening to you.

Which sucks, because soon, I’ll be the last thing they hear.


I love the sound of hearing my dog walking towards my room when I call for him.

The giddiness ceases when I realize he’s whimpering next to me and I still hear the paws approaching my room.


The room went dark as I turned out my nightlight.

Suddenly an even darker patch on the wall started moving.


My dog likes to crawl in bed with me in the middle of the night.

When I reached over to pet him though it wasn't my dog.


Oh look a spider, let's catch it and put it back outside.

Wait, where did it go?


Time flew by as I enjoyed the view.

So much so, that when I re-surfaced the boat was gone.


I was home alone at night getting a smoke in the yard.

When someone said “You got a light?”


After I asked the crystal ball to tell me how to escape death, I was very confused as it read "No, thanks honey, I'm full.”

However, something clicked in my head when my wife offered me cake after dinner.


"Daddy, look, it's mommy!" my son giggled, pointing.

I don't know what was worse, seeing my dead wife's reflection in the mirror, or the word RUN etched into the glass.