Victory in the Pacific Day : 15th of August

With the 75th Anniversary of the end of the War in the Pacific only a fortnight away, the Department of Veterans Affairs has upgraded the ANZAC360 app to include the Fall of Singapore.

This will allow the next generation of Australians to learn about the beginning of a precarious time in our history during the Second World War by using virtual reality technology, through drone footage and a blending  of modern day imagery with pictures and footage of the action.

The Fall of Singapore and capture of so many Australians was a devastating event and made a Japanese invasion of the Australian mainland a real possibility.

This is the third stage of the ANZAC360 app which brings to life the battlefields of the Western Front during the First World War, and important stories of the Burma-Thailand Railway and the Sandakan death marches in the Second World War.

This is a wonderful resource and learning tool for future generations. Well done and well worth a look.

The app is available for free download from the App Store – search ‘ANZAC 360’. 

The Queensland RSL (Returned Services League) will be commemorating VP Day with installations up in lights on Brisbane City Hall from the 10th of August to the 15th of August. The installation will run every 15 minutes from 6pm until 10pm each evening

I’ll be adding Rosemary saplings to the Little Community Library for the occasion.

Yes, I will tart them up. I’m just not sure how as yet.

A Sunday Drive To Manly

Manly is a bayside suburb of Brisbane located approximately 19 km east of the CBD and less than a fifteen minute drive north along the coast from where I call home.

Sundays at Manly are normally busy with Farmers and Creative Markets dotted along the foreshore. Not so today after heavy overnight rain although dog walkers, coffee drinkers and Little People on all sorts of wheeled transport were out in full force.

Because it is bounded by Moreton Bay – with its spectaculars view out to St Helena Island ( a colonial penitentiary with major claims to brutality) –  a number of boating clubs are based in Manly including the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron. In warmer weather there’s a lot of Jimmy Buffet wafting across the water.

Numerous Seafood Restaurants and Cafes line the streets, as well as The Mad Hatters Bookshop and an Art Gallery that never fails to disappoint.

Way back in the 1840’s the suburb in which I live was mooted as the Capital City of Queensland. However, when Governor Sir George Gipps visited it is reported that upon disembarking his boat he immediately sank into the mudflats up to his waist. He was so annoyed by this that he quickly changed his mind. It was low tide at Manly this morning with mudflats of a similar ilk. Can you tell?

In earlier days Manly was known as a holiday spot for those from the city or farmers from the country and it still has a bit of that vibe.

Worth a visit, particularly during those wicked Queensland Summer months when you’re about to throw yourself under a bus if you don’t get some relief from the humidity.

TIP

Some of the local restaurants are flash but always remember, you are paying for the real estate. Sails at the Manly Hotel puts on a good feed and you don’t need a second mortgage.

The Australian Silo Art Trail

Our State Government has spent millions of dollars promoting Queensland in an effort to jump start tourism with the recent relaxation of Covid 19 restrictions. Now I know I’m being judgemental ( Sorry LA, Waking Up On The Wrong Side Of Fifty), but MORONIC: point me to a Queenslander who doesn’t know the location of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Northern Territory Government had the right idea in handing out tourist dollars to the first 200,000 Territory travellers, bypassing the Marketing gurus completely and putting the dollars directly into the hands of those who would share it amongst small business. Love your work…..

However, good breeding dictates that one must not discuss politics before supper and/or a bottle of vino.

Some five years ago a movement began in Western Australia to beautify the landscape and encourage tourists to rural communities by using silos for murals.

Yep, painting murals on silos depicting regional history and points of interest.

This has since grown to become The Australian Silo Art Trail and continues to flourish and attract thousands to regional centres. There are currently 36 painted silos which can be covered in six Silo Art Trail road trips in five states, as well as artworks on 40 water towers.

Thallon, Qld

I’ve just purchased the Silo Art Calendar for 2021 – because I’m optimistic that we will get through this wretched year – and am amazed by some of the stories reflected in the artwork.

If you are interested in learning more go here:

https://www.australiansiloarttrail.com/

So ready to pack my bags. My feet are growing mouldy.

TIP :

For best results when traveling throw out the bloody GPS.


 “ Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a Storyteller.”      – Ibn Battuta

Banjo Paterson Has A Permanent Spot On The Bookshelf

I was recently reminded of a pair of books that I’ve been carting around for nearly twenty years though with over 1,500 pages between them they are not the type for genteel bedtime reading.

Fellow blogger Kevin Adams is a lover of all things music with a particular bent for traditional folk, with a tendency to write music of a historical nature. I particularly enjoyed his album A Crossword War – Bletchley Park Remembered In Song and his more recent  homage with Pegasus, A Song For D Day.

https://kevadams.co.uk/2020/06/05/pegasus/

But back to the books : Singer Of The Bush, the complete works of Andrew Barton Paterson from 1885 – 1900, and Song Of The Pen covering the period 1901 – 1941. First editions, they were a gift for my father when he retired and cost me $40 each – a hellava lot of money when I was earning only $116 per week!

Paterson, fondly known as Banjo,  (17 February 1864 – 5 February 1941) was an Australian bush poet, journalist and author. He wrote many ballads and poems about Australian life, focusing particularly on rural and outback areas. His 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.

He was a war correspondent during the Boer War, an ambulance driver in the First World War and honorary vet for the Light Horse Brigade as well as a farmer, lawyer and massive sports fan.(His nickname came from a racehorse he’d won a few bob on).

Copies of Paterson’s published submissions to The Bulletin, considered the premier news magazine at the time, include illustrations by famous artists such as Norman Lindsay. There is also a wealth of history within these tomes including the poet’s friendships with fellow balladeers Henry Lawson and Breaker Morant.

I find it disappointing that copies of these volumes are regularly on throw out tables at charity book sales. If you find a set in reasonable condition they are well worth picking up to be reminded of an earlier Australia.

Add To Must Do List :

Yeoval NSW.      Banjo Paterson Cafe and Museum

Yass NSW.          Banjo Paterson Park

Orange NSW.      The  biennial Festival of Arts presents a Banjo Paterson Award for poetry and one-act plays.

Two Over Achievers

Never heard of Florence Violet McKenzie, affectionately known as Mrs Mac or Violet? Well neither had I until reading Radio Girl by David Duffy.

You know how there is this current movement to encourage girls into S.T.E.M subjects at school – read: Science, Maths, Engineering and Technology-then this is one fascinating read about a woman born in 1890 well before her time.

The list of some of her achievements include :
⁃ First female Electrical Engineer in Australia
⁃ With the money made as an entrepreneur selling radios she established her own Signalling School for women in Sydney
⁃ Wrote a bestselling cookbook explaining how to cook with an electric stove – because it had been all wood stoves ( get your head around that!)
⁃ A Presenter for the ABC in its first year of existence
⁃ Persuaded the Australian Navy to set up the WRANS
⁃ First woman in NSW branch of Wireless of Institute of Australia
⁃ Started an amateur Radio Club
⁃ Organised the second ever World Wireless Exhibition held in Australia
⁃ Started the Wireless Weekly magazine which has since become Electronics Australia
⁃ Opened her own Radio College to educate women in radio related technical skills to assist with tasks during WW2
⁃ Trained women to serve in the Women’s Emergency Signalling Corps who then went on to train as Morse Code Instructors, who themselves trained men in the Navy.

OMG! I look back at all of the screaming matches over the dinner table because the entire concept of long division and fractions escaped me. And don’t talk to me about Trigonometry. What a wasted year of my life and so many tears. My youngest daughter, on the other hand, has an agenda of quietly pushing her friend’s daughters down the STEM route and routinely gifts tractors, hi vis jackets and lab kits.

#mathssux#sciencesux#stemmakesmecry.

PAYNE VC by Mike Coleman

Every Australian over a certain age would have heard the name Keith Payne, the most decorated Aussie that served in the Vietnam War. Well into his eighties now ( he served in Korea also) this is an interesting read that tells the story of a country kid that grew up in Far North Queensland shooting bunnies to help put food on the table and went on to become a leader of men.

I enjoyed learning about the support Payne received from his wife and five sons, and the impact that war – and the Victoria Cross – had on this soldiers family.

He came home troubled in the days before the term PTDS was even coined, but fought his demons and won, later to become an advocate for veterans requiring support.

Keith Payne is still visible on special occasions such as ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day and is a regular speaker at school and RSL functions. He was awarded the Victoria Cross, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star.

Without being disrespectful I truly think the wives of these men could do with an award of some sort in recognition of the work they do in the background……….

The Last Bushranger by Mike Munro & Cemetery Tour

Just before the world went down like a bag of spuds with Covid 19 I joined an organised evening tour of South Brisbane Cemetery.

Also known as Dutton Park Cemetery and Heritage Listed it was established in 1866 and remained in active use until the 1960’s when it ran out of space.

I like the history that can be found in cemeteries – what else can I say?

The memorials in Dutton Park cemetery range from those of prominent early residents, displaying fine examples of the mason’s skill, to those of prisoners from nearby Boggo Road Gaol. Others reflect post World War 2 immigration and the cultural mix of the South Brisbane area in the second half of the 20th century. These include Greek and Italian graves and those of the many Russians who first settled around Woolloongabba and South Brisbane in the 1920s, following the Communist takeover in Russia. There are 52 Commonwealth service personnel buried in this cemetery whose graves are registered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, 13 from World War I and 39 from World War II.

Having heard the story and stood by the grave of Patrick Kenniff, who was hanged at Boggo Road in 1902  (and which is purportedly haunted) I was fascinated by Kenniff’s life as a bushranger, as infamous in Queensland as Ned Kelly.

The Last Bushranger by media celebrity Mike Munro – who just happens to be related to Kenniff – was my first new Post Iso book to read. I’m not sure whether I enjoyed it so much because it was just so lovely to hold a real book in my hands after so many digitals, or because of the subject matter.

Oh, and the cemetery tour is well worth doing too, except cover your bits in Aeroguard first. It’s swampy after rain down by the sites near the river which is also where you really will be creeped out.

Victory In The Pacific : 75 Stories in 75 Days.

Just like the 6th of June, (D Day), the 15th of August is another date that was ingrained into our brains as Primary School students way back in the days when Sydney was full of quarter acre blocks and nearly everyone drove a Holden.

This year is the 75th Anniversary of the end of the Second World War, also known as Victory in the Pacific Day.

Commencing as from the 2nd of June the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (DVA) has been sharing the stories of Australians from the period of World War 2 by way of a social media and a radio series called 75 Stories In 75 Days.

The radio segments are available for listening at http://www.dva.gov.au/75stories or you can choose to read the snippet instead. A new segment is made available each day. 

Not all the snippets are from soldiers. Some stories are from those who experienced life in Australia at the time, such as Nancy Eddy, who along with her two children was given only two hours notice before being evacuated from Darwin. Upon returning to Darwin at wars end her house was gone……

This is a fascinating look back at a different time and a reminder of the sacrifices of a previous generation. I found hearing the voices of those long since gone a little unnerving, though it certainly made the history all the more real.

What a great little initiative which unfortunately seems to have been lost under a plethora of Government Directives and depressing media reports.

June 6th and Nancy Wake

In a little bush school in Sydney many years ago Primary School children greeted each new day with a rendition of “God Save The Queen” and a “salute to the flag”. Back then June 6th was always commemorated as the Anniversary of D Day.

Thirty years later in a school across the border Primary School children sing a different anthem about land “girt by sea”. On June 6th these kiddies celebrate Queensland  Day, which is the official birthday of the Australian state of Queensland. Part of these celebrations include presenting “Queensland Great Awards” to outstanding Queenslanders for their lifetime of dedication and contribution to the development of the state and their role in strengthening and shaping the community in Queensland.

Award Winners at Roma Street Parklands, Brisbane City.

When my eldest, Pocahontas, was in Primary School her class was called to assembly for each of them to declare an Australian, dead or alive, who should be recognised as an outstanding citizen. Sports stars figured highly: tennis players, crickets, footy players as well as a handful of rock stars, actors and models.

Pocahontas, proving that eccentricity is hereditary, suggested The White Mouse as a worthy candidate. Her class mates giggled and teachers looked at each other boggled. The White Mouse was one of the codenames of Nancy Wake, the expat Australian and underground operative during World War 2.

I was reminded of this reading Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon.


From Goodreads:

In 1936 intrepid young Australian journalist Nancy Wake is living in Paris after witnessing firsthand the terror of Hitler’s rise in Europe, firing her resolve to fight against the Nazis. When Nancy falls in love with handsome French industrialist Henri Fiocca, no sooner has she become Mrs Fiocca than the Germans invade France and Nancy takes yet another name, a codename – the first of many.

As the elusive Lucienne Carlier she smuggles people across borders and earns a new name ‘The White Mouse’ along with a five million franc bounty on her head, courtesy of the Gestapo. Forced to flee France, Nancy is trained by an elite espionage group under the codename Hélène. Finally, with mission in hand, she is airdropped back into France as the deadly Madame Andrée. But the closer to liberation France gets, the more exposed Nancy – and the people she loves – will become.

Based on a true story this is a fascinating look at a gutsy woman who liked her G &T’s and *lipstick. A little long and convoluted perhaps, with flashbacks and parallel timelines, though the information comes from Wake’s autobiography (of 1985) and numerous biographies. Well worth the read 🙂

Born: 30 August 1912.   Died:  7 August 2011

Awards : George Medal, 1939-45 Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal, British War Medal 1939-45, French Officer of the Legion of Honour, French Croix de Guerre with Star and two Palms, US Medal for Freedom with Palm, French Medaille de la Resistance, Companion of the Order Of Australia and New Zealand’s Badge in Gold. 

Wake’s medals are on display at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

*Said to be Victory Red from the Elizabeth Arden range.

Damn Damper

Home Isolation means that I’m cooking and eating way too much. Mostly good healthy tucker using fresh vegetables from the garden, but it’s the need for “comfort food” like Damper that is getting me in trouble.

Damper is an iconic Australian bread historically prepared by stockmen, drovers and swagmen as flour and salt could easily be carried. Just add water – literally. Damper could be cooked over the coals of a campfire or in a camp oven, and was eaten with salted beef or lashings of Golden Syrup ( also known as Cocky’s Delight or Cocky’s Joy).

According to the Australian Dictionary Centre the name was derived from “damping” the fire, covering it with ashes. This preserved the red coals, ready to re-kindle the fire the following morning. The damper was buried in the ashes to bake. 

Damper has seen a revitalisation and gentrification of sorts. Each Australia Day, the 26th of January, the traditional Damper recipe is tweaked by thousands across the nation and is served alongside prawns, barbecued lamb chops, and lamingtons or pavlova. Ingredients can include goats cheese, chives, dried tomatoes, olives and spinach leaves. Even pistachio nuts. These days the bread base can include baking soda, powdered milk, or beer. No longer is the humble Damper something simply to warm the belly and enjoy with a Billy Tea, but rather a culinary experience. 

I prefer individual Dampers which are cooked and served on a stick. This method was popular as they were just the right size to soak up the meat juices, baked beans or fried eggs when travelling the outback. Yes, my weakness – soaking up the meat juices very a la Henry VIII. No apologies whatsoever to vegetarians. They were hung off a string that went from one side of the fire to the other and cooked over the heat of the fire. That’s the Dampers, not the vegetarians.

They’ve always been a success when I’ve cooked them. And who said we have to wait till next January?

Recipe

2 cups of Self raising flour

1 cup of water

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon of butter

Mix. Divide into eight oblongs. Stick a skewer through the middle. Cook on bbq 15 minutes.

                                                   Or

Place in cake tin, wrap in alfoil, and surround with embers. Cook for 45 to 55 minutes.

Rabbit Proof Fence

Indigenous Author Doris Pilkington was born Nugi Garimara under a Wintamarra tree in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. At four years of age Doris, her mother Molly, and her baby sister were taken against their will to the Moore River Native Settlement in Western Australia. This is where many children of mixed race families were interred in the early 20th Century to be trained as domestic staff and which we now know as the Stolen Generation.

It wasn’t long before Molly escaped the Settlement with her baby, though Doris remained incarcerated until she was twelve years of age at which time she  was transferred to a nearby mission. Conditions at the mission were worse though she was given the opportunity to train as a nursing assistant in Perth. 

It took 21 years before Doris was reunited with her mother and some time after her Aunt Daisy shared the story of how her mother Molly had previously been a captive of the Settlement as a child and had escaped with her half sister, Daisy, and cousin Grace. These three little aboriginal girls trekked over 1600 klms following the rabit proof fence, a massive pest-exclusion fence which crossed WA from north to south, in order to return home.

Follow The Rabbit Proof Fence, released in 1996, is the true story of Doris’ mother and her Aunties. Three little girls pulled from their families, desperate to return to the only world they knew, walking across rugged outback terrain, often eating off the land and chased down by black trackers. The book includes copies of Government documentation and newspaper clippings from the 1930’s which confirm the story of these three brave children. It’s a confronting, shameful story and one which should be shared.

The film, Rabbit Proof Fence, directed by Hollywood-based Australian, Philip Noyce, was released in 2002 and is based on the book. Both the book and movie are worth while visiting – just ensure there is a box of Kleenex handy.

Interestingly, after having raised her family, Pilkington completed secondary education, going on to complete a Degree in Journalism. She was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia in 2006 for her services to the arts in the area of Indigenous literature, particularly through the genre of life-storytelling to raise awareness of Indigenous history, culture and social conditions.

TRIVIA:

Rabbits were an introduced species and were both devastating and destructive. The Australian Government decided to build a barrier fence from a point on the south coast through to a location on the north coast which became known as the No.1 Rabbit-Proof Fence. Completed in 1907, the Rabbit-Proof Fence was the longest unbroken line of fence in the world. Today, long sections of the original fence are still maintained as a barrier against wild animals, particularly the Emu.

Screenwriter Christine Olsen felt that the fence was very symbolic in that “the fence is always such an amazing symbol for the Europeans’ attempt to tame the land: to draw a line in it to keep out rabbits, the pests they had introduced. It is such a magnificent symbol for a lot of what’s happened to Australia.”

Rachael Maza , drama coach, said the three central young Aboriginal (untrained) actresses had an innate understanding of the story. “That’s one thing I don’t have to teach them. I don’t think there’s an Aboriginal in this country who doesn’t understand this story, if not them personally, their parents or their very immediate family. It’s something we all share.”