Last night I’d programmed my body clock to rouse me well before sun rise so I could be on my way bright and early. This time the clock worked and I was up and breakfasted on coffee and toast with marmalade jam well before 0500 hrs.

I packed the Landcover in record time and started my navigational preparedness  for the day. First up, I programmed the Magellan with the old Ghan Railway coordinates at the point where I wanted to meet it.

On the image below, the vertical black bars you can see on the screen represent the strength of the data from the satellites the GPS is receiving. The numerals around the concentric circles are identifiers for the satellites.

By pressing the NAV button on the left of the instrument, I can scroll through various screens until I reach the one where I key in the destination coordinates and any way points I may be interested in.

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Then, after returning to my map, I oriented my compass to the same destination point and recorded the direction by the numbEr of degrees onto the compass card. I’m really attached to this compass, it’s been my constant companion for over 50 years and has never let me down. Probably one of the reasons I’ve never been really lost.

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Now, in addition to following the directions by GPS, I can sight along the bearing line on the compass, identify significant landmarks and drive towards them. Few obstacles can defeat the Landcover, except fences. Although uncommon where I’m travelling a fence does cause an immediate stop and creates the necessity to find an opening. It’s an absolute no no to cut a fence, it’s not only irresponsible, it’s also illegal.

In addition to my trusty 1:250,000 maps, I also carry the Australian Gazetteer. No wonder it’s heavy, it has a total of 1017 pages and the volume measures 130 cm( 11 and 3/4 inches)wide, 21.5cm(8 and 1/2 inches) high and 8.5cm(3 inches) thick. Not a back pack item, that’s for sure.

Well, after about another half hour fiddling around I was underway not long after 0530hrs and it wasn’t long before I came across one of the local inhabitants.

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This camel is one of over a million wild camels that inhabit inland Australia’s arid zones. They were first brought to Australia in there 1800s with their Afghan cameleers to provide goods transport to the then inaccessible inland outposts. Would you believe we now export them as racing camels to the Middle East. Our camels are disease free and outstanding examples of their place in the animal kingdom.

It was from the Afghan cameleers that the fledgling Port Augusa to Alice Springs railway got its name, The Ghan.

Now it’s time for a little bit of history. Construction of The Ghan railway commenced in 1878. It was a 1060cm line, more commonly referred to as three foot six gauge. Once the steam trains started running they rapidly gained a reputation for arriving at their destination late. Not by an hour or so, the lateness was measured in days.

Dust storms often covered the track with deep sand, occasional floods washed away the lines and bridges and numerous other incidents caused delays. Each train had a large flat bed car attached behind the locomotive. This car was loaded with rail lines, sleepers, tools and other bits and pieces needed to repair the damaged lines. Both the crew and conscripted passengers were required to carry out the repair work.

Anyway, the line was closed in 1980 after a new line was constructed, eventually stretching from Adelaide in South Australia to Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory.

The new line and its rolling stock are still named’ The Ghan’ and the old Ghan line where I’m headed is now popular with outback tourists like myself.

Well, it wasn’t too far into the day’s run when I came across this abandoned truck just rusting away, all alone. What great yarns it could tell. Just looking at it I could see it had lived a hard life and certainly earned its keep.

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After a few more hours there I was, at the start of the run along the abandoned Old Ghan railway line. This  solitary stand pipe had served the locos and their passengers and freight well and stood as a solitary monument to those bygone days:

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Everything out here gets dusty and when changing camera lenses there is always the chance of the demon dust getting on the camera’s sensor or onto film, if that’s your choice. You can see the spots on this image, it’s clumps of dust on the sensor and sometimes even the built in sensor wobble and shake can’t dislodge it. ‘Them’s the breaks’, as the saying goes.

The trip proceeded without  incident, apart from the almost compulsory punctures and without my onboard air compressor I would certainly have been up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

The following selection of images will give you of an idea of what’s to be seen along the line, it’s well worth the effort and it’s a great glimpse into the great Australian outdoors.

As I got closer to my camp site for the night, my path was crossed by another camel, it seemed to be a fitting end to my run along the old Ghan line. I’m not sure if the camel was grinning at me as it wandered past:Camel near Chamber's Pillar copy

Finally, after changing direction and leaving the line, I arrived at Chamber’s Pillar to camp for the night. The pillar was a navigation aid for the early explorers and is easily spotted in the basically flat surrounding country. I set up camp in the early afternoon, no one else was there and I enjoyed the solitude.


As you have gathered, today I was never lost, misplaced or even bewildered by my surroundings.

Tonight as I snuggle into my sleeping bag laid out in my sway, I’ll think about the next few days and the real reason I’m heading for Alice Springs. The following image should give you a clue so stand by for a post about it at some future time. Hoo roo for now.



When I was just a kid living in a small country town there was no money to spend on take away food. Anyway it was just after WW2 and there was no such thing as a take away place, not in our town anyway.

You can imagine my absolute amazement when my dad was transferred to a place called Cronulla. Three great surf beaches within walking distance of our house, and public tidal salt water swimming pools galore.

Suddenly I became a beach boy, no silly, not a singer, but a ten year old surfie, of sorts.

Then, joy oh joy, I was introduced by my beach going mates to apple pies with cream. There was a take away bakery in the main street, just a short walk from the beach that had all these fresh beauties on the shelf, ready for the application of lashings of fresh cream at customer request.

I can’t remember how much they cost but I can certainly, vividly, remember how wonderful they tasted.

Our little mob would buy one each and have them completely gobbled up by the time we got back to our spot on the promenade outside the surf club building.  Then it was a quick dash into the surf, catch a few waves and back on the promenade to dry off, minus the crumbs and spots of cream from the pies that had been stuck to our little chests and bellies.

How I miss those carefree days in the sun and surf. It lasted for another thirty years. The original pie shop disappeared, to be replaced by two or three more, all competing for our business.  Our gobbling eating habits remained the same and the ritual swim to get rid of the evidence on our skin remained a constant.

Now I ride a motor bike instead of swim and live hundreds of miles from the surf. However, all is not lost, we have two great bakeries in town, both sell apple pies with fresh cream. As I’m sure you will realise, it’s most unwise to ride a motor bike and eat an apple pie with cream at the same time. Remedy, sit on the bike at the kerb, watch the passing parade, gobble down the pie and cream, flick the pie crumbs into the gutter, wipe the cream off the leathers, then lick it off your fingers, put the gloves and helmet back on and quickly ride home for a quick wash. The bike that is.

At seventy five years of age you’d think I had more sense, but an apple pie and cream, what would life be like without one. In fact I think I’ll go and get one right now. Hoo roo.


I simply couldn’t believe it, today of all days. All I wanted was for George to realise he wasn’t alone and that I was there to help him.  I’d suggested the park for our outing today because he had told me it had, in the past, been a happy place for him. As we entered the park he indicated a distant bench and suggested we sit there for a while.

As we got closer,  I saw an elderly woman seated on his bench, knitting what appeared to be a small red sweater.  George saw her too and I sensed a growing agitation in his demeanour.

I tried to distract George and turn him away but it was to late. I couldn’t see his face but he seemed to be sobbing. Taking him firmly by the arm I thought I could feel him shivering as I steered him towards the nearby park rotunda where I thought he would have some privacy.

In a low tone of voice I said to him,’ it’s alright George, it’s alright’. George didn’t appear to hear me and although his face was still turned away from me, I sensed that he was continuing to sob.

Looking over my shoulder as we walked away, I saw the old woman staring at us, on her face, an expression of surprise, or was it recognition?

George stumbled up the few steps into the rotunda and collapsed onto the vacant bench. His face and posture gave the impression of a man crushed by an unbearable weight.  I couldn’t understand what had caused his behavioural regression.

After a time, the colour began to return to his face and the vice like grip he had on my arm eased.

I had been taken totally by surprise by this turn of events and I didn’t quite know how to handle it. My instructors had never covered such an eventuality during my training.

I’d read George’s file many times over. I thought I knew enough about him and what had brought him to our notice. From my many interviews with George I’d formed the opinion, supported by my superiors, that he would benefit by gradually reentering the community as his time with us was drawing to a close.

How would today’s situation impact on him I though? What triggered his reaction to the old woman? Should I quiz him about it? What impact would today’s event have with the decision makers on our Board?

I could see that George was still agitated and very ill at ease. Although we still had many hours before we were due to go back to base I gently suggested to him that perhaps we should go back early.

George seemed quite relieved at my suggestion and simply nodded.

With that, we walked straight to our car and drove off, leaving the park and whatever spooked George. On our way back to base I thought it odd that George remained unusually mute, stared straight ahead, emotionless. This was not the George whom I’d taken to the park only a short time before.

Back at base, after the perimeter gates had closed and the car was parked, I walked with George through the massive entrance doors to our main building.

Once inside, George, without a word, went straight ahead towards his room and I went to my office to write up the events of this most extraordinary day.

Tomorrow, I thought, after debrief with my colleagues I’ll see George and encourage him to open up on why our park visit upset him so dramatically. By that time too, my superiors will have read my report and may be able to shed some light on why the park visit was such a drama for both George and myself.

At the time, I had absolutely no idea of what would occur over the days and weeks.

Meanwhile, back at the park, the elderly knitter had not been idle. She watched intently as ‘George’ and the person who appeared to be his escort entered the rotunda. Packing up her knitting she quickly walked to her car and moved it onto another parking spot from where she could observe access and egress to the rotunda.

In her mind travelled she travelled back in time, ten, perhaps fifteen years years ago?  In those days, she had a thriving psychiatric practise and was often called to give evidence at court, sometimes for the Crown and sometimes for the defence.

Could it be her patient, from that long time ago, whom she had just seen have what appeared to be an adverse reaction to her presence in the park? Same build and stature, same gait, same shock of unruly auburn hair. Only the face seemed a little different, perhaps through the passage of time, perhaps not. Whatever, he was certainly her ex patient.

Her thought process shifted into top gear and she began to recall the GP’s referral of the patient to her. It was not long before her retirement. At the time her rooms were in another city, almost a thousand kilometres away.

Despite her advancing age, she had an encyclopaedia like recall of patient detail and her diagnosis of their problems.

Yes, she thought, that was Fred, he looks a little different now but it was him I just saw, no doubt about it. She remembered that Fred had been referred to her for what the GP thought was some form of functional psychosis.

After a number of sessions with Fred, she had diagnosed him with the most potentially severe and disabling of the psychoses, Schizophrenia.

She recalled reaching this diagnosis based firstly on his highly disturbing experiences during his childhood and early adult life.

In her presence he revealed a withdrawal from reality, delusions, hallucinations, apathy, and most disturbingly of all, an inability to feel any emotions whatsoever and preoccupation with bizarre fantasies.

She remembered vividly his hatred of anything coloured red and the pleasure his thoughts brought him when, in his imagination, he began throwing babies and young animals from bridges after he had dressed them in his hated colour, red.

After discussing the patient with a number of her peers, she suggested to the GP that Fred should be scheduled under the Mental Health Act and be placed into a secure facility until deemed sufficiently recovered for reenter open society. She added that she was prepared to authorise the scheduling and indicated that there should be a police presence to convey Fred to the selected secure institution.

Unfortunately, the GP, in his wisdom felt it prudent to advise Fred’s elderly parents with whom he resided, of the psychiatrist’s determination. Of course, they informed Fred who immediately decamped, never to be seen or heard of again.

Until now she thought.

She was well aware that without continuing to take his medication, adequate support and regular psychiatric help, Fred was extremely likely to carry out one of his bizarre fantasies, that is,  murder a child or torture a small animal after clothing them in red, particularly something knitted in wool.

As she sat thinking, she recalled that  shortly after her retirement she read a newspaper article about the murder of a three year old female child, found floating in a river with her dead pet dog tied to her body by its lead. Both were dressed in red woollen outfits. The gruesome discovery was made not too far from Fred’s former residence.

She remembered immediately informing the local police about Fred and he was placed at the top of their people of interest list. The police kept her informed of progress as they knew she would be a vital witness should Fred be arrested and charged, but, over time the homicide became listed as a cold case and placed on file with many others. Fred had never been located, despite extensive inquiries as to his whereabouts.

Until now that is.

It wasn’t too long before she watched Fred and his escort leave the rotunda and get into a car. By chance the car was facing in the same direction as hers and she followed it at a safe distance as it was driven away. Stopped at the first set of traffic lights she noted down the car’s registration number, considered calling the police on the triple 0 number but decided against it.

After following the car containing Fred for half an hour or so, she saw it turn into the entrance driveway of what was obviously a secure psychiatric hospital.

After noting the time and the address, she drove to the local police station, saw the detectives and related everything she had seen and what she knew of Fred’s history. The detectives took her particulars and promised to let her know the outcome of their inquiries.

The next day, after contacting their colleagues at the police station where the cold case had occurred, two detectives arrived at the psychiatric hospital and by appointment met with the psychiatrist in charge.

They were informed that George was a voluntary inmate and had been in their care for over ten years. He had recently been assessed by a panel of psychiatrists as fit for return to open society after a period of supervised outings, of which the park activity was the first. The detectives were also brought up to date with the report on George’s demeanour in the park and arrangements were made for George to be interviewed, with appropriate representation the following day.

On return to the police station, arrangements were made with their interstate counterparts to be present at the upcoming interview with George.

George knew that his routine was being changed. He had an idea that it arose from the park incident but thought that nothing untoward could come from it. He felt that he’d not been recognised as his act had got him out of the park before any damage was done. Perhaps today would bring news of his discharge date. When he got out, the world would just forget about him. He’d simply disappear again.

When he entered the interview room he suspected that all was not as he had assumed. There were four men in suits, plus his doctor and another man he didn’t recognise.

It was when the introductions were made that he knew his years of relative freedom were probably coming to an end. He felt anger and antagonism towards every one in the room. He just wished his escort to the park had been there. If things didn’t go his way she was going to be the first to get it in the neck. Bitch.

One of the four suited men was obviously in charge and he introduced himself as a Detective from the Homicide Squad.

He said, “My name is Detective Inspector Baker, What is your full name” The George replied, ” “George Green”.

The next question stunned him,” we have been reliably informed that your correct name is Frederick Green. Is that correct”? George thought for a moment, I’ve been through interrogations for years now, this isn’t any different so I’ll deny it. ”No” he replied, just call me George”.

“That will upset em”, he thought to himself, “They’ve got nothing on me unless I give myself up and that’s not going to happen, no way, they can all go and get stuffed”.

Baker then said,” George,we are making inquiries about the death of a young girl 14 years ago. She was found with her dead dog tied to her by its lead. I’m going to ask you a series of questions about it and I want you to understand that you are not obliged to say anything unless you wish as anything that you do say will be recorded and may later be used in evidence. Do you understand that?” George, with a grin on his face replied,” sure, go for your life but I’m not going to say nothing to youse and I want a can of coke”.

Over the next half hour or so the detectives asked George a number of questions to which he gave unrelated and inane responses. The interview was then terminated. George left the interview room elated and thinking ” I’ve done well,they know damn all and I’ll be out and about in no time at all”.

The detectives recovered Georges’s empty coke can and preserved it for fingerprint and DNA comparisons . They then left to continue their inquiries after suggesting to the hospital staff that perhaps it would be advisable to restrict George to the institution until his identity and possible involvement in a homicide had been be concluded. Their suggestion was unanimously adopted.

Days turned into weeks and George was becoming more and more concerned about his future. He wondered why his outings had been curtailed, why his doctors were showing a lot more interest in him and why his sexy outing supervisor was nowhere to be seen when he was allowed out to exercise in the grounds. Then he thought, “those bastards are letting me stew, they reckon I’ll give myself up, like hell I will”.

The more he thought about it, the more he remembered  the fun he had abducting the little girl from her playground and the added bonus of getting the puppy she was playing with. He remembered with absolute joy the pathetic struggle she put up when he stripped her naked and wrapped her in a red jumper he’s bought for a dollar just for such an occasion from the St Vincent de Paul’s opportunity shop. The best part he remembered was getting an erection as he choked the life out of her before tossing her and the dog into the river. “Christ that was good”, he thought to himself, ” I’ll knock off another one when I get out”.

It was then he remembered the woman in the park. It was his old psychiatrist and the bitch was knitting something red

He thought,” That bitch knew I’d be in the park, I bet my bloody escort sheila told her. How else would she know. I put on a pretty good performance for that bitch with me though. I reckon I’m home and hosed there but they’ll both be first on my bloody list as soon as I’m out of here”.

A day or so later George was back in the interview room and the same line up of men in suits were there too. They introduced themselves again and the bloke named Baker said,” G’day George, I’ll get straight to the point, I’m going to caution you again”. That out of the way,  Baker said,” We had that can of coke you had analysed for DNA and fingerprints. The results are back. You are not George Green. Your correct name is Frederick Green. Have you anything today to say about about that?”

The suspect subject just shook his head which was duly noted. Baker continued,” Your DNA has been identified on the red woollen garment worn by the three year old girl found dead in the river near the dwelling you occupied with your parents. Would you care to comment”? George thought,”They’re bluffing, I’ll deny it”. To the detectives he said,”Not me”.

Baker then said,”Your fingerprints were found on the dog’s lead. Have you anything to say about that?” Again George said,” They’re not mine”.

Baker then said,” I believe that you fantasise about the colour red. Would you like to tell us about that?”

Before he could answer, the appointed solicitor tugged George’s arm and whispered into his ear.

George considered what he had been told and said to the detectives,” there are a lot of horrible things I’d going around in my head. Been like that for years. I’ve been advised by this solicitor here that before I say anything more  I should ask you if you will take my mental illness into account?”

Baker said,” We are not in a position to make any promises. Whatever you tell us will be provided to the Crown Law Officers to determine if criminal proceedings should ensue. Please keep in  mind that the homicide we are talking to you about occurred in another jurisdiction where the processes may vary. I can’t add more than that”. George thought about what had been said and replied,” OK, I admit it was me that killed that little girl and her dog and tossed them in the river near home”. Immediately, Baker cautioned George again and George said,”Yair I know that. It was seeing that old bird in the park knitting that red thing that brought it all back to me. She was my psychiatrist years back and she predicted that one day I’d live out the things going on I’m my head. When my Mom told me that they were going to have me locked up in the nut house I decided to shoot through but before I went I thought I’d show my old quack that she was right after all. That’s when I sussed out the girl and knocked her off, just like you said. I really got my rocks off over that. What happens next”.

Baker said,” I’ve a Schedule 2 under the Mental Health Act in your name here. I’m taking you into custody now. The medical staff here will hold you in a secure unit until the authorities decide what course to take”.

George nodded to the nearby orderlies and without a word was escorted from the room.

Later, detectives briefed both the elderly woman from the park who was knitting the red item and the Mental Health Official who had escorted George/Fred to the park with the outcome of their enquiries.

The man known as George or Frederick was later extradited to another jusrisdiction.  There, after exhaustive psychiatric analysis he was found fit to stand trial for murder. He was found guilty and sentenced to penal servitude for life without parole.

As for the demise of the puppy, it was only considered collateral damage and not worth the expense of pursuing a prosecution under Prevention of Cruelty Animals Legislation.

A short time after commencing his sentence, George or Frederick as he once again called himself was found dead, hanging in his prison cell. The subsequent inquiry had a positive outcome. No Corrective Service Officer was found to have neglected their duty in relation to this death in custody.


The following image is of our local War Memorial situate on Rocky Hill. This prominent position   overlooks our city laid out below it.

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Fearing that the use of an Adverb would bring the wrath of fellow bloggers crashing upon my head, I’ve decided in true Aussie fashion to use a word that is extremely popular in our vocabulary. The word can be used either as a verb or an adjective, depending entirely on the tone used by the utterer or how the recipient of the word decides to interpret it.

How should you interpret the word in this piece of writing? That decision is entirely up to you. However be advised that as the writer of this piece I am using the word as both a verb and an adjective.

Hereunder I am going to show you the significant attributes of Rocky Hill and the Memorial:

Rocky Hill is bloody steep.

The War Memorial is bloody old.

The War Memorial is made from bloody sandstone.

The War Memorial is bloody high.

The Memorial’s inner stairway is bloody steep.

The panorama seen from the top of the Memorial is bloody bonza.

If you can get to the top without getting puffed you are bloody fit.

There is not much space on Rocky Hill to park your bloody car.

There is a bloody museum there too.

The Memorial and the Museum are bloody popular.

The road to the top is bloody steep.

It gets bloody windy.

Look at the bloody Aussie flag.

It’s stiff as a bloody board.

Overall it’s bloody worth it.

The whole bloody site has recently been upgraded.

It’s a bloody ripper mate.

The bloody end.


I thought that for today I’d approach the subject with a twist and try writing in the form of a script for an play to be called GIVE AND TAKE.

To set the scene, Character 1 is a well accredited photography judge.

Character 1 has been invited to judge at a very large club with a reputation for having a member totally lacking in ethical photographic practices, particularly when it comes to copyright. =TYhe meeting is at night.

Character 2, a member of that club, is determined to win the ‘Photographer of the Year’ title by hook or by crook.

Character 1 is aware of Character 2‘s take no prisoners approach, total disregard for copyright and the general rules of camera club competition.

Character 3 is the Club’s President and emcee for the night.


Character 1 and Character 3 enter the Club room where there are many images on stands.

Character 3 addresses the assembled camera club members,” Friends, tonight we have Fred Bloggs here to be our judge for the night. Fred is well experienced and has been here before. I know that many of you know him and know what to expect.  Fred, the floor is yours”.

Character 1,” Thanks Mr President. It’s a pleasure to be here again. If I remember from last time, you want me to award Distinctions for the best works, Credits for those that are almost as good  and comment on images where I think it’s warranted. If you have any questions, please ask them as we go along. There are lots of images to evaluate so I’ll get started straight away”.

Character 1 then begins to inspect the images and comments as he works, firstly along the rows of monochrome images.

Turning to the members, Character 1 says‘Well folks you have all done exceedingly well. It’s not often that I am able to award 7 Distinctions and 12 Credits in the monochrome section of an ‘open’ competition. If I could award a ‘Highly Commended’ classification I’d gladly do so for every other monochrome you have displayed. I admire the originality of each image and the effort you have all made. It’s been a pleasure’.  The audience responds with applause.

Character 1 then turns his attention to the colour prints, He is aware that Character 2 has a work in that section. but is not aware of which one.

As he examines each print and makes the appropriate awards, he occasionally pauses to make a comment. Of one work he says,’ I’m particularly impressed here. The author has shown originality, understanding of light, composition and aperture. It’s an outstanding example of the photographers craft. Well done. Who created this great photograph?’

A voice from the rear of the hall says,” I did, I was on holidays and the landscape scene appealed so I made the shot. Thanks for your encouraging remarks”.

Character 1, replied, ” My pleasure”,  awards it a Distinction and continues along the lines of photographs, making award after award.

Finally, Character 1 pauses at a landscape image comprising a number of dead trees forlornly silhouetted  against a background of what appeares to be a red sandhill. After examining the work closely, he asks,” Whose work is this?”

From the centre of the hall a voice replies,” It’s mine, I liked the scene so much I couldn’t resist making the shot”

Character 1 recognises the voice as coming from Character 2 and says,” What an interesting image, where and when did you make it?”

Character 2,” Last year on holidays in the Flinder’s Ranges in South Australia”.

Character 1, ” Interesting work” and advances to the next image.

Character 2, “Wait on Fred, you haven’t commented on my work and you haven’t given it an award. Everyone I’ve shown it to reckons it’s a winning image and I’d like you to tell me why you’ve ignoring it”?

Character 1, “If you don’t mind, I’d rather not discuss your work right now, let’s talk about it after the judging is completed”.

Character 2, “You’re discriminating against me, I demand that you talk about my work here and now or I’m going to complain about you to the Federation and you’ll be sorry!”

Character 1,” You can take any action you like, I’ll complete the judging and talk with you later, preferably in private”.

Character 2 grunts and sits down.

Character 1 completes the judging, making numerous the appropriate awards to the applause of the gathering and then joins with everyone for light refreshments. Character 2 remains within hearing but remains mute and just glowers at the judge.


The meeting concluded, everyone leaves. In the car park, Character 1 is confronted by an hostile Character 2 who launches into a tirade of abuse.  At the conclusion of the rant, Character 1 says,” There was no need for that, you know full well why you didn’t get an award and why I didn’t comment at the time on that image you purport to be yours”.

Feigning surprise, Character 2 says,” What do you mean by purport?”

Character 1, “You know damn well what I mean. That image is copyright. It was made by Ian Plant in the Namib Desert and is part of his famous Namibia portfolio. I’d recognise it anywhere”

Character 2,” So what, everyone thinks it’s mine, I changed the contrast and upped the saturation a bit and I reckon that it’s mine now so what are you going to do about it?”

Character 1,” I’ll make a deal with you. If you give me your undertaking that you will never again breach copyright and claim someone else’s image or images as your own, I’ll not refer your conduct to the Federation and ensure that you are banned from ever exhibiting in any club or competition in Australia or overseas ever again and have you turfed out of the Federation on your ear. Think yourself lucky that tonight I’m feeling benevolent”.

Character 2,” I’ve not much choice have I? I’ve been stupid and I give you my word I’ll play it straight from now on. As soon as I get home, I’ll rip the image up and take Ian’s images off my hard drive. I’ve one question though, why are you being so accommodating?”

Character 1,” Because young man, I’ve seen your own photographs before, you have a lot of talent and you have a great eye for composition, colour and perspective. If you put all of your effort into your own work you have every chance of becoming a well known and great photographer in your own right. That’s why I want to give you the chance”

Character 2,” Thanks Mr Bloggs, I appreciate the chance, I won’t let you down and I’ll honour my promise and never cheat again”.

Character 1,” That’s good, I’m pleased to hear it. I wish you all the best for your future and we will put tonight’s episode behind us. I’d like you to always remember that a little bit of give and take can achieve a lot so goodnight”.


Character 2 drove off in his car and drove straight to an all night bar where he had arranged to meet up with his mates. He boasted to them about beating the camera club rules, the system generally and how the stupid old judge so readily accepted his word that he wouldn’t cheat again and how the judge waffled on about give and take, what a lot of garbage.  He told the mates that as soon as he got home he was going to create another masterpiece using the work of another overseas photographer whose work he had downloaded from the internet.

Give and take is sometimes strangely balanced by fate. On his way home, Character 2, well under the influence of intoxicating liquor, lost control of his car, left the road and crashed into a tree, killing himself instantly. The subsequent fire destroyed his misrepresented photograph. That was the element of take. He was alone in his vehicle when it crashed. No one else was injured. That was the element of give.



Everyone in the organisation knew it. It was one of the worst kept secrets. The only thing we didn’t have was a name. Most of us that is.

The local newspaper and radio news were full of it. A new Chief Executive Officer had been appointed and was on his way to shake up our organisation.

In my case it was old news. A reliable mate in another organisation had filled me in. Besides the name, all he had to say about our incoming CEO was,’ruthless, cold, unsmiling, uncaring, unforgiving, unapproachable, unmovable, undeterrable, unreasonable, unsympathetic, unlikeable, 100% self assured  and totally performance oriented’.

He also added a vivid description of the individual’s parentage and a few other colourful adjectives that I’d never commit to print.

The only comments I thought were positive were the self assured and totally performance oriented tags.

It was armed with that background information that I met the new CEO at a civic reception held in his honour.

Our new CEO is of impressive stature and upright posture. Well over 2 metres(over 6 foot) tall, solidly built with a shock of silver hair, he made an impressive figure as he stood with other dignitaries receiving and being introduced to the invitees, myself included.

As the evening progressed and the CEO worked the floor,  I had the opportunity to observe him in action first hand. He had a disarming smile, proffered his hand to all and appeared to be almost bowing in a most gracious way as he spoke with the ladies who seemed to gravitate towards him.

Finally it was my chance to engage with him and I was most surprised when he greeted me by name in a well modulated Aussie tenor voice. Immediately he had runs on the board. His elongated face was surprisingly smooth for a man in his early fifties. It was the eyes that drew my attention and held it. They were ice blue and almost unblinking. His gaze was piercing and I could sense that he would use it and his towering height to make people feel ill at ease if he thought it would be to his advantage.

We engaged in some light hearted banter and when the opportunity presented itself I said,’ You have a tough job ahead of you’. With a coldish smile, not at all like the ones I’d seen on him during the evenint, he replied, ‘What makes you say that’?

I said,’ Being a change agent in a bureaucratic organisation is never easy’.

His reply gave me window to the man himself when he said, ‘Oh no, it’s my way or the highway’, and without another word he turned on his heel and walked away to the next group of people.

My thoughts went to what my mate had told me. I decided to keep an open mind and allow coming events to shape my opinion of the man himself.

Over the following days, weeks and months his strong reforming activities in the organisation gave the press and radio commentators lots of opportunity to conduct a running commentary on his activities, some positive, some negative. I should add, not a balanced commentary either, a typical press approach. Appropriately though, the reporting was on a purely business basis and nothing on a personal nature was promulgated.

He was certainly  a mover and shaker in the organisation. The strategic plan was re written, job descriptions changed, staff came and went, with the emphasis on went. If streamlining was part of the job description then at his annual review he would get 10 out of 10.

In the process, he created an anxiousness within the employees yet at the same time, productivity increased, community relations improved and the newly set objectives were being achieved in an economic and expeditious manner. What a positive change for the customers and the employees as complaints rapidly diminished.

My mates description of our new CEO’s modus operandi was spot on. However, in a past life I’d had a similar change agent’s job and what my mate had described were, in the main, essential CEO attributes. They had to be learned too and were generally required to achieve organisation objectives and outcomes.

I knew that in time, staff anxiousness would settle, promotions would occur and esprit de corps would be renewed.

As time went on, I met the CEO at a number of social and community events. His physical stature and cold blue eyes were natures gifts, not an acquired accessory.  I came to the conclusion that his apparent chilly aloofness was part of his body armour.

I came to appreciate his fine sense of humour,  raconteur’s ability to enthral an audience and a natural gift of the gab, coupled with his pleasant, well modulated  tenor voice. In fact, it’s now always a pleasure to be in his company, away from business. I should point out, we are associates, not friends.

He had rapidly absorbed local history, the communities’ wants and needs, their approach to expansion, development, transport and amenities. This has won him much support and the palpable apprehension that existed prior to his arrival is rapidly dissipating.

I can’t pay the man a greater compliment than to say if I was in need of mentor I could think of no one better than our new CEO. I don’t envy his physical attributes. I’m a big man myself, but, if I’d possessed his change agent skills in my previous existence I could have written for myself a far greater success story.

I’ve conveyed my positive feeling to my informant mate . Oddly, he wishes that his previous foe would return as do most of the workers in his organisation. Apparently the individual who took his place is an abject failure, has created many uncertainties but this time through total disorganisation, lack of clarity and a wishy washy approach to everything.

Disorganisation, lack of clarity and a wishy washy approach! Certainly these tags could never be applied to our CEO.

Thank heaven that I didn’t take on board all the negatives that had been conveyed to me.

We’re lucky to have our new incumbent at the helm. I’ve learned a lot of positive things from him.


As I stared out through the windscreen across the seemingly endless stoney desert I was at a loss to understand why I couldn’t see the bore and its windmill that was supposed to be in sight. I checked the odometer, the compass, the Magellan and the 1:250,000 map. According to my calculations I should be right on the bore or be able to seed it at least.

This is where for outback travellers like myself, the HF radio and the VKS-737 network are  essential travelling companions.  Quickly running through a few HF channels I noticed that there wasn’t much traffic, probably because it was getting towards late afternoon and sometimes getting a channel on the right frequency can be problematic.

Anyway I decided to make a voice call, not a cell call to the Charters Towers  Base Station. After going through the correct voice procedure protocols I gave the operator my location Latitude 28’16” latitude and 132’50” Longitude and asked how far I was from Coober Pedy. The operator had a bit of a laugh and told me I was way off course and should be heading roughly north east towards Latitude 29’01”, Longitude 134’45”.

Suddenly I knew where I’d gone wrong. For years I’ve resisted wearing my reading glasses and when I looked up Coober Pedy in the Gazetteer I’d recorded the coordinates for Coober Peedy in Western Australia and thats where I’d been heading, not for Coober Pedy in South Australia, my wanted destination.

I thanked the operator and felt like a proper fool as I terminated the voice call with the appropriate ‘Out’. At least now I didn’t have to be concerned about locating the bore and its windmill. It was many many miles away. Good I thought, one less thing to worry about.

Under the circumstances, I took the only action appropriate at the time. I boiled the billy and had a cup of nice sweet black tea and a couple of biscuits.

Then after resetting the Magellan with the corrector coordinates I set off slowly in the right direction, pleased that on this occasion I’d asked for directions before I went too much further. Not that I had really needed to. After all, my super accurate sense of direction, always spot on, would  have soon switched in and given me a few helpful hints about an adjustment to my travelling direction. Fortunately I wasn’t on a tight schedule and time was on my side. At this point in the trip anyway.

After another hour or so cross country at a reasonably slow rate to conserve my tyres from the rocky ground I came across the remains of this old vehicle and long abandoned stock yards.

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A long way ahead I could see a faint tree line and as the shadows were lengthening I decided to make for the tree line and set up camp for the night. On the way, my path was crossed by a  reasonably sized  Perentie, an Australian Monitor lizard, which lives in our arid regions. They can run quite fast but this bloke was just ambling along so I hopped out and grabbed this image:

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These blokes are great climbers too although out here there aren’t many tall trees to climb.

After about another hour I made it to the tree line and found a nice flat spot in the lee of a small sand hill with just enough space off the rocks to set up a comfy camp.

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The vertical object with the black base near the blue container on the mudguards is the aerial for the HF radio. It automatically tunes itself, a very handy attribute. The white aerial is for the citizens band radio. Very hand for vehicle to vehicle communications up to a mile or so. The HF radio on the other hand has a range of well over a thousand miles and many more in the right climatic conditions and the time of day.

Anyway, first off, I rigged up my stretcher and swag, pulled out my chair, lit the fire and contacted VKS-737. There were no messages for me and I gave my position according to my Magellan. I’d talked to the operator earlier and we had a bit of a joke about my earlier stuff up. I told him I was never truly lost but I don’t think he believed me.

After a couple of cold beers and a decent bit of tucker, I snuggled down in my swag and gave thought to what the morrow would bring. I was sure that I’d pass through Coober Pedy in the AM and make it through to the old abandoned Ghan Railway line before sunset. If all went according to plan. After all, I knew exactly where i was at the moment, where I was going tomorrow, knowing all along that  as I was never, never truly lost, tomorrow would be a piece of cake.

Please stay tuned for Part three and learn how this outback adventure panned out.


I’ve just read about a visit to Prague Zoo in TinyExpats latest blog. By coincidence, today I got an email from a friend who works at our Zoo here in Sydney. She included some images of herself sitting on a giant pumpkin which had been on display at our city’s recent Royal Easter Show. What a whoppers.


Sure would make quite a bit of pumpkin soup.


On reading the discussion blog on leannecolephotography.com blog about camera bags, I thought about the ones I’ve accumulated over the years. My wife is my Sherpa so my camera bags need to be not only multi purpose, but also multi user. I’m yet to find the happy medium.

In the beginning( not from a religious sense of course) when I had only a simple Kodak there was no need for a camera bag. If you were lucky you had a tiny exposure meter but most of us relied on the info inside the film carton until you learned that f11 at 125th of a second was pretty good most of the time. Still, there was no need for a camera bag.

Then around 1963 I remember shedding my old Minolta, for a Nilkon f model with a detachable 50 mm 1.8 lens. That’s when I bought my very first camera bag, long since gone missing in action.

Then, in 1982 I bought a Nikon FG and 33 years later I’ve still got it and it still works of course, but it’s been relegated to the camera cupboard and replaced, over the years with other film Nikons, then digital models, and now with the Nikon FX models, more lenses, again.

So, here now to the crux of the matter, bags, bags and more bags.

I’m of the view that there is no such thing as a universal, one model fits all camera bag. I think this shot of my main bags reinforces my theory:

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From left to right, in the back row, the Lowepro Mini Trecker AW;  Tamrac Explorer 8X; Lowepro Flipside 400AW; and the Lowpro Slingshot 300AW. In the front row, left to right, the Domke F2; Lowerpro Nova 2; Crumpler 7 Million Dollar Home, Optex Intercept; Fatima and the Lowepro  Commercial AW.

I use the Crumpler and the Domke when I’m just wandering around doing street photography where being almost invisible is a real plus. With the Tamrac and the Lowepro Commercial, I can hardly lift them off the ground when they are full so they are reserved for running around in the 4WD.

I enjoy using the Lowepro flipside when I’m walking around in the bush although it takes a bit of time to realise that everything isn’t going to fall out when you open it to change a lens.

If I know in advance I’m just going to need one camera and one lens then I use Lowepro’s one camera/one lens bag. Here are my three that suit the Nikkor 70-200 f2.8, the Nikkor 24-70 f2.8 and the Nikkor 50mm f1.4 respectably plus my large Nikon with the battery pack and grip attached.

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Last but not least, I recently added the Tamron 150-600 zoom lens to my kit together with the appropriate Lowepro case. It’s a pretty big lens and although the Lowepro case is a great for storage it’s too cumbersome to cart around. The answer, simple, I just adapted one of my hydration kits for the job. I whipped out the bladder, packed a bit of foam in the base of the bag and presto, a tailor made mini backpack for the Tamron.

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Thanks to Leanne Cole of leannecolephotography.com I now know that I’m not the only one with a studio full of camera bags. Each one has its particular uses and dare I say, it charm. All I have to do now is convince my Sherpa that I need to return to my favourite camera store and seek out another ‘perfect’ camera bag.

Sometime soon I’ll have a bit of a rave about my Pelican hard cases.


I saw a bedraggled envelope lying soaking wet on the footpath.  I saw that the name and address on the front of the envelope was indecipherable and there was no return address anywhere to be seen.

Curiosity got the better of me. I opened the envelope and read the pitiful sodden note it contained. It was brief and to the point, “Dearest  Jack, I love you, I’m pregnant, please come back, I  desperately, need you and I’m so sorry, please, please come back to me, I forgive you”

It was signed simply, ‘Willow’.

I don’t know anyone called Jack and I know of no pregnant ‘Willow’ so I took the most sensible course open to me.

I simply threw it in the nearest bin and continued shopping.