A few days ago a friend and I were having a yarn about a book called, ‘Bradstow, a study of Status, Class and Power in a small Australian Town’, authored by a G.R.A Wild.
The book is about Bowral, a small town in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. It’s been long out of print but used copies occasionally pop up on the net. If you feel inclined look it up on Google. It’s worth the effort.
Anyway I told my mate I’d lend her my copy. Unfortunately the volume is nowhere to be found in my book collection.
Now, during my search for the book I came across something totally unrelated and it was indeed, A LUCKY FIND.
My find had absolutely nothing to do with the first three paragraphs above.
Now, back in the Dream Time.
Before I retired I was the leader of what was known as ‘The Policy Unit’. The Unit’s task was to analyse arising issues and develop appropriate responses for implementation.
On this occasion the Policy Unit was developing responses to a long list of recommendations arising from a Commmission of Inquiry into the organisation conducted by an eminent Judge.
From time to time the Unit’s responses to the Commission’s recommendations were not well received by the areas of the organisation concerned and the same applied to the personnel impacted by the responses.
Often, the grievences were made directly to the Minister of the Crown responsible to the Government of the day for the Department and this was one of those occasions.
As a consequence I was a regularly summoned to the Minister’s Office to advise on implementation progress and what steps were being taken by the Department to ensure that these specific recommendations of the Commision of Inquiriy would be implemented in full.
My frequent Ministerial visits drew the media’s attention and were often reported in newspapers and occasionally on TV news bulletins and interviews.
One positive outcome of the media’s attention was being sent for specific media presentation training that I received from a firm of consultants.
Now, back to my LUCKY FIND.
Tucked away in the index of my book collection I came across a cartoon that related to my time in the Policy Unit.
Here it is. I had to touch up the Policy Unit printing as it wasn’t clear in the original.
The Bulletin was always a top publication and one I always enjoyed reading. It was founded way back in 1880 and continued in circulation until it’s last issue in January 2008.
By the way, the Policy Unit recommendations I referred to above were fully implemented.
When I wrote the original of this post, it was my intention to illustrate my narrative with images from trips in our Landrover She Who Must Be Obeyed and myself have taken in our Landrovers. That part of the exercise failed and now, using my MacBook Pro the uploading of the images can occur.
So, here are the images I intended to show you:
These image are not in any order,neither numerical nor chronological. A number of them are scans from slides made on Kodachrome 64 and some using my Nikon D100 before I had it converted to infra red only.
With any luck over the next few days I’ll have unravelled why the IMac refuses to upload images and when I do, whackoh.
SWMBO was diagnosed with Dementia some years ago now and I’ve been her full time carer ever since. What with the Covid lockdowns and being SWMBO’s full time carer the days have just passed by at record speeds. SWMBO is mostly in her own little world and even when she is not, having a conversation with her is almost impossible.
Being a full time carer means just that: cooking, cleaning, housekeeping, ironing, attending to personal hygiene needs and ensuring that the larder and refrigerator are always topped up, to name just a few.
As consequence the carer has to ensure that they are alert and attentive to duty at all times to ensure that their loved one is safe and comfortable.
Getting a good night’s sleep is an important ingredient in keeping alert and in my case that is simply not always possible. At the suggestion of her gerontologist I now keep a record of SWMBO’s sleeping patterns in order that he can a better understanding of her needs and perhaps come up with a solution to the problem.
For example, it’s a regular occurrence for SWMBO to wake and get out of bed up to 15 times in a night. On each wakening, she wakes me and I arise to put her back to bed. This means that I’m exhausted when I arise to face the day and even menial tasks become onerous.
Additionally, her falls are now becoming more frequent and as SWMBO now has no strength in her arms and legs getting her back on her feet presents a real problem. I am no longer able to manage this on my own and when the falls occur at night it’s necessary to call the Ambulance Service for assistance. The officers are equipped with portable hydraulic devices that raise the patient to at least bed or chair level and their assistance is invaluable. On one occasion the attending Para Medics considered that medical assistance may have been required and SWMBO was taken to the local hospital casualty ward. Fortunately examination indicated that she had suffered no physical harm in the fall and no medical treatment was required so I was able to bring her home. Fortunately all of her falls have occurred in the house.
Fortunately SWMBO now has a Government Home Care package which provides, inter alia, respite service, some personal hygiene assistance and access to a number of Carer Groups that specialise in assisting carers to manage problems, exchange experiences with other carers and generally offer a personal problem solving service.
On three days a week SWMBO goes into a respite service which leaves me free to have ‘time out’ as the saying goes and I pursue my photography when the weather and the enthusiasm calls. I’m also an avid reader so not an hour of time is wasted.
Of course, planning for the future is not a simple exercise. Just thinking about downsizing fills me with dread. For example, what to do with the mirriad of personal items that have been accumulated over the years.
I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Trouble is it doesn’t seem too far away.
So, there we are next time I promise not to weigh you down with information about my on going, unexciting existence.
For the last couple of years I’ve been SWMBO’s full time carer as her dementia continues to overtake her. Fortunately, the gravity of her condition has been recognised and she has been awarded a Government assistance package which caters for many of her needs and provides respite care three days a week which enables me to have some time to recharge the batteries.
Being a full time carer often demands making changes to established routines, pastimes and reduce risk taking .In my case the hardest decision was selling my Harley Davidson motorcycle. When I bought it new, three years ago, it had only nine klms on the clock. When I sold it in October 2020 it still had 9 klms on the clock and had never left the garage. After being an Harley rider for over thirty years it was a difficult decision to make.
The decision to sell the bike was based on my risk management plan. As SWMBO’s carer an accident on the bike couldn’t be risked. As we have no family, if I were to become incapacitated, SWMBO would have to be paced in an aged care facility.
Fortunately I’ve been able to continue with my photography, with my focus, no pun intended, on desktop photography which presents its own unique photographic challenges.
So, there we are. With any luck SWMBO and I will be able to venture out more now that she has a four wheeled walker and a wheel chair to assist her movement.
We live close to a river where our local Council has constructed a wonderful, paved, river walkway which currently extends for about 12 klms. We intend to take walks along the path and SWMBO can carry my camera gear on her walker thus allowing my large telephoto lenses to be close at hand.
With any luck I’ll have a photo or two for my next post and I promise not be a whiner again.
When Bill passed away after a long illness, his sister, ‘Polly’ asked me if I would deliver an eulogy for him at his funeral service.
Bill had been a close mate of mine for over twenty years and I was proud to accept.
The following is a precise of that eulogy.
‘Bill,’ as he preferred to be called was a genuine, fair dinkum, Aussie bloke and I loved the way he always called young women, ‘Darlin.’ Bill said those words in such a way that the young ladies always laughed and smiled. No one ever took offence.
My knowledge of Bill began many years before I met him in person. That was because SWMBO grew up with Bill and his family. Together, Bill, his sister, brother and SWMBO enjoyed a great country childhood full of adventure and fun.
Although Bill was the youngest in the family, SWMBO remembered him vividly and often told me amusing stories about him. So, when I first met Bill, it wasn’t like meeting a stranger and our close friendship began.
Bill was a man of imposing stature. He carried himself well, was always smartly dressed and well groomed. He even had a favourite hairdresser and he spoke of her in glowing terms.
We shared a love of bicycles and often talked about training methods, equipment and the maintenance of our bikes. How to endure the pain associated with long distance, fast cycle races was often a topic for us. Bill proved that he wasnt just a bike rider. He was a genuine, committed cyclist. As a member of the local cycle club, Bill trained hard and competed in the Goulburn to Liverpool cycle races, almost 200 klms of undulating countryside. On one occasion Bill would have been in his grade’s final bunch sprint had he not punctured close to the finishing line and couldn’t continue.
As a perceptionist, Bill’s cycles were full Campagnolo equipped. This Italian Group Set, as it is described, was engineering perfection and was used in those days by leading international cycle teams competing in the annual Tour de France.
Then there was his love of model cars, boats and planes. He was a regular, welcome customer at local specialty model retailers and he had a keen sense of which models would become a collector’s prize. His collection today recognises that fact.
In keeping with his commitment to detail, his models have remained in their original packaging and boxed condition. They represent a genuine investment on Bill’s part, not frivolous spending as some might think.
Here are just two examples from Bills vast collection.
Bill also took great pride in his car and it was always professionally serviced at the specified mileage. Bill ensured that the tyre pressures were at exactly the recommend presure with deep and undamaged tread.
However, there was a lot more to Bill than just collecting models, racing push bikes and looking after his car.
Bill lived in the family home for the greater part of his life. When his mother passed away, Bill and his father, affectionally known as ‘Chummy’ occupied the house and as Bill’s health began to deteoriate, Chummy cared for him.
Chummy instilled in Bill the fact that good tools were essential if a craftsman was to produce good work. Bill observed that advice to the letter and his toolkit of hand and power tools leave absolutely nothing to be desired.
On one occasion I sought Bill’s assistance to complete a photography assignment that included a portrait. Bill agreed on the proviso that if the photo involvied having to pose he would decide how he would be involved.
Here is one of the images that met Bill’s requirements, complete with a drill he purchased according to Chummy’s recommendation. It’s his step adder too. Always the perfectionist.
Then, as Chummy aged, the rolls were reversed and Bill looked after his father.
Bill was well known around his home town and was highly respected. It would be a safe bet that everyone who knew him would have an interesting ‘Bill’ anecdote to relate.
Bill was a lover of good food,particularly a good steak, cooked to his liking. He particularly liked the way his steak was grilled at a motel restaurant not far from his home and he invited SWMBO and I to dine there with him one evening. The moment we entered the dining room, Bill was greeted like royalty. We were ushed to his favourite table. His preferred red wine was produced without a word being spoken and SWMBO and I ordered from the menu. The staff knew exactly what Bill wanted and, sure enough, when the meals arrived Bill had a fine steak complete with chips and a salad.
When it was time to leave, I went to pay. That was the first time I heard Bill in full voice. People driving past the motel, radio playing at full volume, air conditioning on, windows up and engine reving whould have heard every word Bill uttered, even if they were wearing ear plugs. Bill firmly informed me that I was out of order.
On another occasion, when Bill was satisfied that I was competent to drive and understood the location and operation of all his car’s controls, he suggested I drive his Toyota sedan when SWMBO and I took him to lunch at his favourtitew pub in nearby Crookwell.
As we approached the first decent gradient on the Crookwell Road, Bill directed me to push the ‘power button’ on the transmission tunnel and informed me that by so doing we would maintain the same speed up the hill without pushing further down on the accelerator. Then, as we neared the top of the rise, Bill, in full roar directed me to switch the power button to off inorder to save fuel. That was Bill, roaring and thus ensuring that he got his message across.
Bill was always in employment until his failing health made full time work impossible. Never one to sit on his hands, he enrolled at the local TAFE and learned to touch type. He followed that up with a Small Engines course and learned to rebuild lawn mower engines, whipper snipper motors and repair chain saws. That course was followed by enrolling in the TAFE art school where he learned to draw using pencil and charcoal together with oil and water colour painting. He produced some great images that are his sister’s pride and joy.
Bill passed all of his TAFE examinations. His aptitude, determination and approach to his TAFE studies were recognised and rewarded by the local TAFE and the TAFE’s Sydney Head Office administration.
Despite all of his accomplishments Bill was unable to re-enter the work force and this hurt him greatly. Never the less he remained positive, active and enjoyed doing his shopping, banking and taking care of his house and its gardens. He also assisted me in establishing and maintaing quite a number of native trees, shrubs and grasses around Casa Creakingbones. He proved to me in no uncertain terms that he had a ‘ green thumb,’and knew what he was talking about when it came to horticulture.
Recently I was fortunate to read all of Bill’s references that he had received from past employers and also from his school days. Each reference was full of praise for Bill’s atitude, work commitment and competence.
Bill was employed full time at the NSW Teachers College until 1984 when the college was taken over and recreated as the NSW Police Academy. Bill’s services were retained as a general hand by the NSW Police when he satisifed all of the Police strict security and character requirements. I was aware that Bill served for ten years at the NSW Police Academy, finishing there in 1994.
Amongst his references I was delighted to come across one from the Police Academy’s Marketing and Customer Services Co-ordinator which outlined in glowing terms the important and successful role Bill played in fulfilling the Police Academy’s aims and objectives. No easy task I can assure you.
One of Bill’s assignments required him to collect the daily mail from the local post office and on return record and distribute it across the vast Academy. Because of traffic congestion at peak times in the central business district and the limited parking around the post office, it regularly delayed Bill in distributing the mail.
The Academy Senior Police management soon solved Bill’s dilemma. He was sent to the Police Driving School and quickly passed the exams thus becoming a fully qualified police driver.
Thus qualified, Bill was allocated the Academy Commander’s V8 Holden sedan complete with siren and flashing blue lights for the mail run. Thereafter Bill was never delayed, red lights, limited parking at the post office and slow traffic were no longer a problem. Sirens and flashing blue lights certainly assisted in meeting the job requirements.
On another occasion, Bill was in charge of all Academy stores. His absolute adherence to established store protocols ensured that no proper paperwork, no stores issued.
In one famous incident a group of highly trained, heavily armed special weapons and operations squad members arrived at the Academy to engage in special operations training. One problem though, they had neglected to bring some of their heavy calibre rapid fire weapons. Off to the stores they went and on arrival, they ordered Bill to make the Academy’s arsenal available to them. They certainly ordered the wrong man. No paperwork, no entry. They made frantic phone calls. Bill’s stand was fully supported and the training operation was cancelled.
There are many other anecdotes about my friend Bill that I could share with you and perhaps when we gather for a beer or two after his service concludes we may do just that.
Good bye my friend. I’ll miss you. We shared many fun times together, especially at Christmas and on other public holidays when we all went to the South Coast or into the wilds of Bungendore for a feast and fun.
I’ve taken the liberty of pinching the words of my heading from Dorothea Mackellar’s famous Australian poem, ‘My Country’ that she wrote as a 19 year old in 1904.
In the second stanza of the poem Mackellar wrote:- ‘I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains, of rugged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains’.
Her poem epitomizes our climate here in the Land Down Under and for the last couple of years we have experienced a national drought followed by massive bush fires that caused enormous destruction during the latter part of 2019 and into February this year.
Additionally, the bushfires created massive areas of smoke haze, so much so that people with breathing problems were advised to remain indoors and the wearing of face masks was recommended. In fact, our local pharmacies were offering their customers free masks. They were uncomfortable but at least made breathing easier and safe.
Here where I live, the drought’s impact required the local council to impose water restrictions that limited household usage, maintenance of gardens and of course, car washing.
The Wollondilly River which runs through our City was reduced to a trickle and it dropped over a meter below the top of the Marsden Weir.
Then came the rain. Not just a sprinkle here and there but massive falls, some in the north of Queensland in excess of 500mm a day. Most of the Nation received good falls and our City and surrounds didn’t miss out. Some local farms received up to 100mm.
Our main water catchment, Peejar Dam is now at 100% capacity and the water restrictions have been lifted.
Then, the floods arrived, Queensland has been strongly hit as has the eastern seaboard of New South Wales and many inland areas.
Here in our City, the Wollondilly River broke its banks and the water volume was such that whole trees were uprooted and carried down stream, over the Marsden weir and onwards towards the dam many kilometers away.
The water level has now dropped.
I was able to make the following images from the road bridge over the river.
Over the next few days, the river will drop to it’s normal running depth and any damage to the walking/cycling path and its lighting system will be repaired. At the same time an assessment will be made of any debris left in the river as the flood subsided and the action that may be required to clear the water way.
To end on a positive note, the grass outside Cassa Creakingbones will require mowing this weekend.
Here in the Land Down Under we are blessed with many native birds and regular back yard visitors are often from the parrot family.
Generally, feeding of our native birds is frowned upon as it encourages them to neglect their normal eating habits in favour of bread scraps and items of that nature.
However during times of drought, bushfires and floods which are a regular part of our natural weather cycle, it’s not unusual for families to feed the native birds that come foraging in back yards.
Here at Casa Creakingbones we fortunately are out of the fire zones but the severe drought has compelled our local Council to introduce water restrictions.
Again, we are fortunate that years ago when we sank a bore we discovered that we can draw up to 3,000 gallons of water an hour from the two acquifiers which pass about 30 meters or 100 feet below the surface of our block.
Of course we don’t squander this great resource and limit its use to watering our native trees and grassed areas.
Our flourishing green native trees attract many species of native birds with Sulphur Crested Cockatoos and Carellas often in quite large mobs. Their calls are a pleasure to listen to and their antics around the place are quite hillarious.
There is only one down side to the pleasure they give and the culprits, in the main, are the Suplhur Crested Cockatoos. You see they really enjoy cleaning and scraping their large and powerful beaks on the timbers that are exposed on the exterior of Casa Creakingbones.
Not structually damaging, just untidy and expensive to continually replace.
Fortunately all of our windows are framed in aluminium making them immune from attack.
However, the seeds and grasses favoured by the parrots are few and far between and have been so for quite some time and many of we town dwellers have taken to feeding real seed to the visitors. That way we are not harming them as does providing scraps of bread and stale biscuits etc.
Our large Australian parrots have a real liking for sunflower seed, either the grey or the black variety and fortunately supermarkets and pet food suppliers usually have the seeds in stock. However, feeding with loose seeds encourages unwanted visitors like Pigeons, Starlings, Indian Minors and otherspests to join in uninvited.
Our supermarkets stock the ideal answer to the loose seed issue. They have a great product called, wait for it, ‘Bird Munchies – Sunflower Seed Block.’
It’s just a matter of tearing off the wrapper and hanging the block in a handy tree.
Here are a few images of this morning’s breakfast session on a Sunflower Seed block:
As the weather improves and the natural environment again provides the feed that these birds thrive upon, avian breakfast at Casa Creakingbones will gradually be off the menu and all of our feathered friends will depart, only to return when next the weather conditions again turn crook.
The current Australian Bush Fire Season has apparently started earlier than usual.
The severity of the wide ranging bush fires across the nation this season has drawn international attention because of their ferocity and the extensive destruction of bush land and pastures, thousands of homes, thousands of farm buildings, motor vehicles and equipment together with the shocking loss of human life and the death of millions of native animals and birds.
Bush fires, drought, flood and temperature fluctuations( both up and down the centigrade scale) are common place in this wonderful country, ‘Down Under’.
Without entering into the ‘Globing Warning’, debate, our weather patterns have been written about and been the subject of verbal debate for centuries.
One only has to read Dorothea Mackellar’s epic poem, ‘My Country’, written in 1904 to learn about ‘A Sunburnt Country’ with it’s droughts and flooding rains.
However, the poem that most sticks in my mind is Henry Lawson’s 1911 poem, ‘ A Bush Fire.’
Henry Archibald Hertzberg Lawson, 17/6/1867 – 2/9/22 was one of Australia’s best loved and admired writers and poets. His work centres on the Colonial Period and his novels and poems depict Australian life duringthat time.
Here is Lawson’s poem to which I refer:
I found this poem to be quite moving and its few lines so well describe the way our bush fires spread so rapidly and with such destructive force.
I encourage you to read more of Henry Lawson’s works and I’m sure you will also enjoy those of Dorothea Mackellar.
The Australian landmass has always been well known for its droughts, floods and bushfires.
The country has been enduring extreme drought conditions for over a year now and water restrictions at various levels have been implemented in many areas.
Although Casa Creakingbones is connected to the town water supply, many years ago SWMBO and I had contractors sink a bore and we also installed three 20,000 litre rainwater tanks. These mesures have ensured that at least we can retain some green grass around the house and if circumstances require it, our rain water tanks can be utilised for drinking water and household use.
Fortunately, our town is generally not endangered by bush or grass fires.
However, for the past few weeks many areas of Australia have been ravaged by ferocious bush fires including areas less than 100 klms from here.
The South Coast of New South Wales is a summer/Christmas/New Year holliday destination for thousands of people and its beaches and natural beauty are second to none.
However horrendous bush fires are now burning across hundreds of kilometers of the South Coast with mass evacuations and power, communications , fuel and food either unavailable or in short supply. Over 50,000 homes along the South Coast are now without power.
Since last Monday the 30th December 2019, seven people have perished in the fires, people are missing, small towns have been totally destroyed and hundreds of houses and out buildings have been razed to the ground by the fires.
The Bush Fire Brigade volunteers and professional firefighters are doing a magnificant job protecing property and saving lives. They are being assisted by the armed forces who have been committed by ther Prime Minister, Scott Morison.
Total fire bans have been declared in many areas of the State, including our local government area. This means that even the outside use of BBQ’s is totally prohibited.
The main impact on us is air quality. For a few weeks now, like the Sydney metropolitan area, many town on what is known as The South West Slopes have have been enveloped in smoke haze generated by the bush fires.
As we are residents of the South West Slopes, air quality has become a major problem, particularly for sufferers of asthma of whom I am one. Venturing outside for any length of time is risky, particularly if physical activity is involved.
Here are a few images taken around Casa Creakingbones in the last week or so:
SUNRISE ON 31/12/19
The weather forecast for next Saturday, 4th January, 2020 is for temperatures in excdess of 40 degress celsius or 104 degrees farenheight if you haven’t gone metric.
Either way, it’s going to be bloody hot.
However, please spare a thought for the people across NSW and the rest of Australia who have lost everything in these dreadful fires.
My ‘A LUCKY FIND’ blog the other day sent me rumaging through my files to see if there were any other bits and pieces that recorded some of the events in which I became involved during my thirty four years as a member of the New South Wales Police Force.
What I found sent me on a journey back in time from my start as a Probationary Constable in May 1961 until my retirement in May 1995 at the rank of Chief Superintendent.
I was proud to wear these epalettes identifiying my rank.
Wearing this insignia was a far cry from the simple number and NSW Police Force badge I wore on duty in 1961.
Way back then, a workmate took this photograpoh of me when we were performing duty on a public beach on the shores of Sydney harbour. It was every uniform policeman’s wish that a strong gust of wind would blow our summer helmet under a bus. That didn’t happen to this helmet until my wish was granted in Wagga Wagga in about 1964. As was the process way back then, not long after I’d successfully completed my 12 months as a Probationary Constable I was transferred, without notice, ‘In the Interests of the Service’, from Sydney to rural Wagga Wagga in the Riverina district of New South Wales. As I was a single man I was graciouslly given a week to pack, find accommodation there and complete my move.
I during my five years on General Duties in uniform in Wagga Wagga and it’s surrounding police stations I learned a lot about policing and that experience served me well when I was transferred back to the City of Sydney in late 1967.
Then, in March 1968 I was transferred to a plain clothes investigation section at the Criminal Investigation Branch(C.I.B).
Then on Sunday, April 21st, 1968 the fun really started.
The Sydney Daily Telegraph newspaper on 22nd April, 1968 ran the following story:
The Telegraph’s coverage was followed up by this article in Everybody’s Magazine on the 1st May, 2068
I was attacked from behind by a man who attempted to tear my eyes out but I was able to arrest my attacker and one other man. By that time a very large angry mob had gathered and they were eventually dispersed by uniform police who arrived on the scene in large numbers.
Fortunately my injuries were not serious and after I’d charged the two offenders I was photographed for evidentiary purposes and taken to the Sydney Eye Hospital where my injured eyes and facial injuries were treated and I was discharged.
After a week or so of ‘Hurt on Duty’ leave when my wounds had closed and I could see without too much difficulty, the Police Medical Officer cleared me as ‘Fit for Duty’ and I returned to work to continue with my normal investigative duties with no continuing anxiety or distress.
At a later date my assailant returned to court, pleaded guilty and was dealt with appropriately. I was extremely happy with the Court’s decision.