Back in the Dreamtime when I was about 13 or 14 years of age, one of the older blokes in our surf club bought a motor scooter. I remember it was yellow and looked terrific. It was pretty tiny and tinny come to that when compared to another member’s Vincent.

The Vincent was jet black and that made it look even more enormous when parked next to the little yellow peril.

I think that we all took turns in going for a ride on the scooter. I’d never ridden a motor scooter, a push bike, sure, and didn’t I get a rush from that scooter. I’ll never forget tearing around the back streets of Cronulla. I thought I was absolutely the ant’s pants.

Of course I didn’t have a licence, no eye protection, no shirt, no shoes, just a pair of speedos ( swimmers or trunks for non Aussies).

Luckily for me and the owner of the scooter, there was not a trace of any police around and I got back to the beach with the broadest smile possible on my teenage dial.

I was hooked! Two wheels was the only way to go and I don’t mean on a push bike either.

Then, a few weeks later we were off to a surf carnival at Manly. You can imagine my delight when the Vincent owner offered to take me on the pillion from Cronulla to Manly and home again after the carnival. Of course I accepted his offer.

The first problem was how to hide the ride from my parents. My dad had once owned a Rudge in his younger days. His younger days nearly ended when he hit a stationary train near a little country NSW town named Mumbledool where he taught at the one teacher school.

That incident convinced Dad that motorcycles were the mother of all evil and he had forbidden me to never, ever, get on one, even when it was stationary. Mum held the same opinion.

Fortunately they were so used to me going to carnivals in the club’s truck that the question of transport to carnivals never arose and so there was no need for me to mention that Manly this time would be different.

The second problem was clothing. In the club’s truck all I need was to wear my speedos and a club shirt, carry a towel, a wind cheater and have my trusty thongs (rubber sandals) on my feet. The few quid (Pounds- Dollars didn’t come into use until the 14th February, 1966)I had was tucked inside my shirt pocket.

In order not to arouse suspicion I left home on foot dressed as I always did for a surf carnival.

At the clubhouse, my Vincent rider didn’t give me a second look. At least he was wearing a leather jacket and long pants complete with sand shoes and sun glasses.

After a few short instructions about hanging on to him, leaning when he leaned, keeping my thonged feet on the pillion pegs and hanging on to my towel. off we set.

What an experience. The speed was amazing, we weaved in an out of the few cars on the road, were across the Sydney Harbour Bridge in no time and down and up the approach and departure roads at the Spit Bridge.

In no time at all we were at the Manly Surf Club.

I was so glad to get off that bloody Vincent I nearly danced a jig.

From the moment we left Cronulla I’d been at war with my thongs. They are flimsy little buggers at the best of times and the combination of the rushing wind trying to drag the thongs and my feet off the a narrow pegs made me keep my toes curled up, my calf muscles tensed and thoughts of falling off foremost in my mind.

Fortunately it was mid summer so I wasn’t frozen stiff but my eyes felt full of grit.

Of course my pilot asked how I’d enjoyed the ride. I had to get home after the carnival so I told him it was fantastic and I was looking forward to the return journey. I remember he looked a bit incredulous so I reinforced my comment by telling him that I couldn’t wait to save up enough money to get a bike of my own when I was old enough. That seemed to satisfy him.

It was the same story on the way back to Cronulla and when I got home my parents were so delighted that I’d won the Cadet Surf race they didn’t notice my red eyes and sunburned face, arms and legs and the white criss cross of the thongs straps across my sunburned feet.

Since that dramatic day, I’ve never been a pillion passenger on a motor cycle and I’m going to keep it that way.

I eventually did graduate to motor cycles, Triumphs, BMW’s, Suzukis and finally Harley Davidsons.

I’ll keep those stories for another day.


Hoo roo for now







We celebrate Australia’s National Day on the 26th January every year. The day is declared a public holiday Australia wide.

It’s also the day upon which Australian Commonwealth Honours are awarded and Australian of the Year is announced.

At the Local Government level, outstanding citizens are recognised for their community work and a naturalisation ceremony is held awarding Australian Citizenship to new residents who qualify the the privilege.

Here in Goulburn, a country New South Wales town of some 24,000 residents, the Australia Day festivities are held in Victoria Park, a large central park complete with a public swimming pool complex, a skateboard park a velodrome and various other ammenities.

The focus this year was, as always, on the young and young at heart.

Apart from vintage and veteran car and motorbike displays, martial art contests, pipe bands,  jugglers on stilts, young musicians and stalls galore, not to mention Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade units, Emergency Serices Units,  a static Police display and many more, one of the stand outs was the climbing wall.

It was fascinating to watch young children and sometimes their parents, climbing the wall in an effort to reach the button at the top of the climb which when pressed activated a siren blast. More kids reached the button than did their dads or mums.

The day’s activities are like a magnet for photographers. The climbing wall and the skate board park provided great opportunities as did the formal ceremony and the crowds in general.

Here are a few images to show you how Australia Day was celebrated here in Victoria Park.

Australia day 2016_26Jan2016_0015 copy 2The young learners were more interested in the fire engine display.

Australia day 2016_26Jan2016_0067 copy 2Goulburn Mulwaree Council Mayor Geoff Kettle addressing the crowd in Victoria Park.


Australia day 2016_26Jan2016_0074 copy 2

Mr Warren Brown, Goulburn’s 2016 Australia Day Ambassador entertaining the crowd with an amusing address.

Australia day 2016_26Jan2016_0039 copyThe fabulous and challenging climbing wall.

Australia day 2016_26Jan2016_0061 copyA typical stall on Australia Day in Victoria park.Australia day 2016_26Jan2016_0012 copyThe great mural on the wall of the swimming pool complex adjacent to the skate board park in Victoria Park.

On leaving the park, like many many others, a cup of tea and lamingtons helped cement the fantastic feeling of being a fair dinkum Aussie bloke living in the greatest country in the world.

Now, what is a lamington you may well ask?

Sorry, that’s a story for another day.

Hoo roo


Many moons ago, my wife and I were members of the Sydney Cycling Club, obviously based in Sydney, NSW, Australia.

We both trained hard, often cycling more than 400 miles per week. I’d leave home at 5am each day in order to reach Centennial Park, about 20 miles from home to join up with other club members for many more miles around the park before riding into work about 8am.

My wife would leave home sometime later and ride to her workplace, about 25 miles from home. Both of us would link up around 6pm for the ride home.

On Sundays we would ride into Centennial Park, about 20 miles then ride in the club bunch  to various destinations, usually about 100-120 miles round rip, then ride home, another 20 odd miles.

We were all weather cyclists, fully into carbohydrate loading before and during each ride and we lavished our spending money on our cycles, lycra cyclists clothing, and for me of course, gadgets.

The funny part of it all was that no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t cut the mustard as a racing cyclist.

We both held racing licenses issued by the Cycling Federation of Australia and really enjoyed racing, representing our club, along with many other club members in cycle races all around the State.

On the occasions when we travelled by car to a distant race meeting, we carried the bikes on a special rack on the car’s roof. We had a Ford Cortina at the time and the bikes were worth far more than the car.

In common with many other club members, we weren’t satisfied with only having one bike each. Oh no.

Firstly there was the bike to ride when training, then there was the road racing bike, then there was the special criterium race bike and of course, the touring bike. Luckily my wife wasn’t into criteriums and had sold her touring bike, so we only had six cycles hanging in the shed.


I had two bikes made to measure, one was for touring in Reynolds 531 tubing by Monty Young of Condor Cycles in London. Reynolds 531 was chosen because it was great for a touring bike as it could absorb shock yet was reasonably rigid. My other was a road bike by Clay Kesting of Sydney. Clay chose Reynolds 653 as it was less subject to flex and transmitted more energy to the back wheel. It was also lighter and more responsive.

My other bikes, an Alan aluminium criterium frame and a Colnago Master in Columbus tubing were specialist bikes purchased from bike shops that specialised in road racing.

All our cycles were fitted out with top of the range Campagnolo Super Record Group Sets, Cinelli bars and stems, rolling on Mavic rims fitted with Clemont single tyres.

Later on my wife made the switch to Cinelli fames after Clarence Street Cycling in Sydney concluded she would be a great cycling ambassador for the shop. They even kitted her out with a taylor made pink lycra cycling suit. Very swish indeed.


Then, in a further act of generosity, the store owner presented her with a rare Cinelli ladies frame cycle, in pink of course, kitted out with full Campag Super record.

Of  course that led to the purchase of two Cinelli Road bikes, both fitted with all the top notch Campagnolo Gear and all the other top shelf items to go with such magnificent frame sets.

Over thirty years has passed since those heady cycling days. My wife still has her two beautiful Cinelli road bikes. No longer ridden but still kept in 1st class condition.

I sold off my magnificent cycle collection to help fund my move into motorcycles where I no longer get puffed up hill.

Now I have only one road bike left, a British Raleigh in Reynolds 653 tubing, all Campag Super Record of course, Mavic Rims and Clemont 6 tyres.

We still dream of our days on the bikes, the friends we made, the crashes we had, the races we enjoyed but never got placed and the fun we had on those wheels.

Neither of us have ridden for more than 20 years and it’s far too late now to regain our road legs.

Let me finish with one further image:


Here is yours truly crossing the finish line in a country race called the Sundowner Classic. It is a two stage road race, over two days of course, covering well over 100miles.

Am I the winner in front of the crowd of five people?

Not a chance, bone motherless last. At least I finished the race.

Hoo roo for now.



THE FRENCH FOREIGN LEGION,’la Legion Estrangere.’

Yesterday I was searching my personal records for some family information and came across an array of paperwork and photographs dating from my early school years, through my first jobs, the commencement of my military training and leading through to my retirement.

As a school boy in the 1940’s and 50’s it was from books and stories from relatives and family friends returning from wars that stirred our fertile imaginations and our dreams of  excitement.

The French Foreign Legion was a regular discussion point at school and I recall being totally absorbed in the novels, ‘Beau Geste’ and ‘Beau Sabreur’, written by ex French Foreign Legionnaire, P C Wren in the early 1900’s.

These discoveries and recollections from my youth reminded me of two Legion related events.

In 1992 whilst working in Paris, I was fortunate to attend a massive military parade on The Avenue of the Grand Army. The last contingent in the parade was a battalion from the Legion.  The Legion prides itself on being the first into action and the last to leave the battlefield. The latter is reflected in the way they march to the accompaniment of their military bands. I can’t recall the length of their stride or the number of beats to the bar from their band but suffice to say they are both significantly slower than all other French military units.

The second event dates from 1959 not long after I’d been commissioned in the 30th Infantry Battalion, The New South Wales Scottish Regiment of the  Citizens Military Forces . The Legion and its legends were often the subject of spirited (alcohol induced) discussions in the Mess after parade.

The day after one such discussion, I wrote to the Legion’s major barracks in Marseille expressing my intention to enlist.

By the time I received a reply in November, 1959, common sense had prevailed and my original intention had totally evaporated.

The reply from the Legion was amongst the papers I discovered yesterday and it is reproduced here in full.

Foreign Legioin001

Back in the day I had a smattering of school boy French and fully understood the content of the letter which became the subject of much mirth both at work and in the Mess.

I still have my copies off Beau Geste and Beau Sabreur and I’m going to reread them starting tonight.

One thing is for sure, as I’m now over the age of 40 and I won’t be reapplying.


Hoo roo for now












It’s been a while since my last post and a lot of water has passed under the bridge during the time( read money out of the bank). Nothing dramatic mind you, just time consuming small, annoying  events that crop up in every household over time.

For example, our beloved 1984 Landrover referred to always as Mr Brown, (no guessing his colour) required a new set of tyres and tubes in order that he would pass his annual inspection with flying colours. Simple you may say. Not quite. In a metric world, a 32 year old motor vehicle with 16inch rims presents a bit of a dilemma in the fitting department. Tubeless tyres need not apply.

Are there any relatively cheap modern tyres that will safely fit? Perhaps, but sourcing them presents a challenge, particularly if you live in a country town.

In short, Mr Brown was fitted with five modern, metric size tyres and tubes. They look absolutely fabulous. They run quiet, are safe in the wet, last forever according to the salesman and cost only A$300.00 each. On top of that was a fitting charge and an extra charge for disposal of the old tyres. Oh yes, mustn’t forget the wheel balance fee.

I don’t mind admitting that I needed a beer or two after paying the bill.

However, on the positive side, Mr Brown is now sporting the very best of tyres available for a 1984 Landrover. He is a beauty and deserves the very best.

On the negative side, his proud owners are now on bread and water during their cash recovery stage.

This parlous state of affairs was exacerbated by our pet cat, Tom, requiring urgent dental treatment. I always thought that regular dentistry for humans was an expensive exercise. I can tell you I was way off beam.

Feline dentistry puts the human variety to shame.

On the positive side again, Tom is now eating as if there is no tomorrow. Just between you and me, if he has to be kept on the super expensive, post dental, feline specialist dental health diet, there certainly will be no tomorrow. I mean for me, not Tom. She who must be obeyed would never consider skimping on our two cats.

Then, the 20 year old ride on lawn mower turned up its toes after rendering magnificent service for all of those years.

After a diligent search, I was able to purchase a second hand mower with only 35 hours on the clock. Just another A$2500.00 but that included a beaut little trailer.

Why a ride on you may ask. Well, mowing an acre of grass with a push mower is not recommended for individuals of mature age. Ride ons are the only way to go.

I could go on, describing in great detail how the automatic timing system for our water bore has gone on the blink, requiring our acre of grass, not lawn, grass to be watered by hand. I’ll spare you the detail.

The  Harley needs some TLC too but Mr Brown, Cats, Ride On Lawnmowers, Christmas presents, insurances, vehicle rego fees, council rates etc have pushed the Harley to the far end of an ever expanding list of ‘Must be done soon.’

Well, that’s the end of my whinge for today. Should you decide  never again to bread my blog, I fully understand.

Hoo roo for now.