CRITTERS THAT MAY CROSS YOUR PATH IN THE LAND DOWN UNDER.

Here in the Land Down Under we have some magnificent and interesting native animals, birds and reptiles. We also have some imported species including, brumbies( wild horses), camels/dromedaries, foxes, rabbits, hares, sparrows and pigeons to named but a few.

If you live outside the large metropolitan areas or out in the country there is always the probability that some of the animals and reptiles will come to visit, including snakes. Snakes are definitely not welcome in our backyard. Of course snakes of all descriptions are protected species  so in snake country, where we live, professional snake catchers are, during summer, in popular demand.  I kid you not.

Here are some of the visitors we welcome in our back yard:

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A NICE BLUE TONGUE LIZARD.

We’ve named this little bloke ‘Son of Albert.’ He lives in the shed which he shares with my Harley and Landrover. He slips in and out under the roller door as the summer days cool off and in winter hibernates under the concrete slab.

Over forty  years ago, when we lived in a Sydney Suburb, a Blue Tongue set up residence under our back verandah. We called the goanna ‘Albert.’ Blue Tongues have inhabited our backyards ever since. Since they all look alike, when we think a newcomer has moved in it immediately becomes ‘Son of Albert.’

I was working on the bike when I saw this particular ‘Son of Albert’ for the first time. The remnants of a meal was protruding from his jaws so I popped inside and returned with the camera. You can see from the image why they are known as ‘Blue Tongues.’

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SON OF ALBERT WITH A SNACK.

They have readily adapted to the presence of humans, hence my chance to get this closeup.

Then on another day, an Echidna waddled across the yard and began to dig in near the side fence. We refer to them as Spiny Anteaters because ants are their favoured snack. Again, the camera was close at hand and I managed this shot of it’s cute little snout and face.

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AN ECHIDNA.
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A CLOSE UP OF THE ECHIDNA’S PROTECTIVE QUILLS.

Echidnas are very shy and certainly are not an aggressive mammal. At the first sign of trouble they use their strong claws to dig a hole into which they gradually disappear. Fascinating to watch.

Further away from home and out in the real country is where you will find the larger reptiles like the Perentie.

The Perenti is the largest Australian Monitor Lizard and they can grow up to  2.5 metres in length and weigh anything up to 15 kilos. They are common in the desert inland areas of Australia and enjoy carrion. They are great climbers and when disturbed can swiftly climb the nearest tree or up large boulders.

Here is a shot of one that crossed our path on the edge of the Simpson Desert in the Northern Territory.

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ABOUT THREE FEET LONG THIS PERENTI BLENDED WELL WITH ITS’ SURROUNDINGS.

A few hundred miles later on we spotted this camel wandering along beside the track. It’s popularly believed that there are more wild camels in Australia than anywhere else in the world.

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ARE WE THERE YET.

On our way home we stopped off near Silverton in North West New South Wales to photograph some great examples of a plant known as Sturt’s Desert Pea.

There, sitting on a rock taking in the sun was a fine example of a Frill Necked Lizard. When they are agitated they inflate a ruff of bristles around the neck to make themselves look more aggressive and dangerous. This bloke was at peace with the world and totally ignored our presence.

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NOTE THE EYE. NOT MISSING A THING.

We really enjoy sighting our wildlife and it’s a great excuse to venture off the beaten track.

Hoo roo for now

THE LURE OF La LEGION ESTRANGERE.

A couple of years back, when having morning coffee in a local cafe, an immaculately dressed elderly gentleman entered the cafe and sat at a nearby  table.

I was immediately drawn to his attire. His shoes were highly polished and in good repair, you could cut toast on the crease of his trouser legs, his white shirt showed off the obvious military tie and embroided on the breast pocket of his blue tailored blazer was a badge that struck a chord in my memory.

As you do in a country town, we exchanged pleasantries and went about our own business.

As the years passed ‘Bob’ and I often saw each other in coffee shops and in answer to my questions, he told me of his lifetime in the military. He served  in the British Army in various Corps, saw active service in various theatres and after serving in a foreign government’s military, retired to Australia.

On Anzac Day, 2016, I marched wearing my New South Wales Scottish Regiment bonnet with the Red Hackle.

You can image my delight when I spotted ‘Bob’ proudly wearing the White Kepi of La Legion Estrangere and marching with a detachment of servicemen from other countries and I realised that the foreign government he had told me about was of course, France.

We bumped into each other after the march. I complimented him on the White Kepi and his chestful of medals and he admired my Red Hackle. ‘Bob’ told me that he was the last surviving member of his Legion Battalion and I could see he was moved by the memories the Anzac Day Ceremony brought back.

Our meeting on Anzac Day,  25th April, 2016 reminded me of my interest in the French Foreign Legion.

When I was a very young man,  Beau Geste, a fictional account of life in the French Foreign Legion, written by P.C.Wren and published in 1924 was one of my favourite adventure yarns.

All of my mates read it too and we all talked of what it would be like to serve as a Legionnaire.

In the late 1950’s I was commissioned in an infantry battalion of the old Citizen Military Forces, now known as the Army Reserve.

It was a NSW Scottish Regiment tradition that after parade, all Officers were required to attend the Officers Mess for drinks etc. We young Subalterns were required to remain in the Mess until the Mess President gave permission  for us to leave.

On one such evening in the Mess, the topic of conversation among the younger Officers was the French Foreign Legion.

As the youngest Lieutenant in the Battalion, I was directed to write to the Legion and request enlistment information and I happily complied.

Not long afterwards, I received a reply and dutifully provided a copy of the original and my translation thereof  to each Subaltern in the Battalion together with the CO and his Deputy.

Not one of us made the decision to enlist. How wise we were for ones so young.

For over fifty years I’ve treasured that letter and I’ve copied the original for your enjoyment. Unfortunately, all of my schoolboy French has deserted me and I’m unable to provide you with a translation.

Anyway, here is the scanned copy.

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I’ve made a copy for ‘Bob’ and it will interesting to see the look on his face when I give it to him the next time we have coffee together.

Hoo roo for now.

 

ICE COLD IN GOULBURN – WAY BACK WHEN.

For the past week or so it’s been boiling hot across New South Wales with some towns recording 47 degrees celsius, thats 116 degrees fahrenheit.

Here in my home town temperatures have peaked at around 38 celsius, that’s 100.5 fahrenheit, far too hot to be too active  outside in the sun.

Lazing around inside with the  air conditioner set at a comfy 24degrees C, my thoughts turned to a winter conversation I once had with Stanley Jack, my father in law, when I was moaning about how cold it could get here.

Our conversation went something like this,” Mate,” Stan said to me,” you haven’t lived through a cold winter like the one we had in 62. We had the best snow ever recorded.”

I must have looked a little skeptical because he disappeared inside and a short time later emerged with a box of Kodak slides.

“Have a look at these mate and you’ll see what I mean.”

Stan had marked the back of each slide with the date and location of each shot and I noted they had all been taken on 21st August, 1962.

After looking at his slides, I decided that I’d never again complain about winters in Goulburn. Of course, now I’m fully acclimatised it shorts and sandals all year long.

Researching archived copies of the then local newspaper, The  Evening Post, for this blog revealed that the snowfalls on 21st August, 1962 were the heaviest since 1923. The railway line between Goulburn and Crookwell had been closed because of snow drifts up to six feet deep and postmen had abandoned mail delivery.

The Evening Post also reported that road traffic on the Hume Highway(the major artery between Sydney and Melbourne) was at a standstill betweenYass and Bargo, a distance of 130 miles. Visibility around Goulburn was down to 100 yards and shopkeepers in Auburn Street, the towns main thoroughfare, had employees on store roofs sweeping away the snow.

1962 was four years before the introduction in Australia of decimal currency and the Evening Post of 22nd August, 1962 revealed that ‘Breakfast at Tiffanys,’ starring Audrey Hepburn was showing at the Goulburn Odeon movie theatre, a fifteen ounce can of Greenseas Chunky Tuna was on special at 3 shillings and nine pence, that’s forty cents in todays money and an eighteen ounce packet of Lux Detergent was two shillings and eleven pence, thirty cents in todays terms. How things have changed.

Back in those days, Stan never went anywhere without his trusty Yashica 135mm range finder camera loaded with Kodachrome 25ASA slide film and his trusty Sekonic light meter.

Before Stan passed away, he gave me his trusty Yashica outfit and his slide collection and he recommended that I  followed his practice of always having my camera near at hand, preferably loaded with Kodak slide film.

In Stans day, exposed Kodak slide film was sent by post to Melbourne for processing, the cost of which was included in the film’s original purchase price. The mounted slides were returned to the sender in a neat yellow plastic box.

I’ve scanned some the slides Stan took on that cold August day almost 55 years ago. Some of them are showing their age but they are surviving well.

Makes me wonder what many of our digital images will look like in 2072. If we have the technology to read the files that is.

So, here are some of Stan’s images of that memorable day back way back when.

I’ve added a shot of his trusty Yashica and his Sekonic light meter, just for nostalgia’s sake together an image of the slides.

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STANLEY JACK’S YASHICA AND GEAR.
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HIS KODACHROME SLIDES COPIED FOR THIS BLOG.
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OUTSIDE STANLEY JACK’S HOUSE – DECCAN STREET – 8AM
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BELMORE PARK ABOUT 8.30AM
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BELMORE PARK AND THE ROTUNDA ABOUT 8.30AM
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MORE BELMORE PAST ABOUT 8.30AM
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BELMORE PARK GENERAL VIEW, JUST AFTER 8.30AM
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AUBURN STREET LOOKING SOUTH? JUST AFTER 8.30AM
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OUTSIDE WHERE ROSES CAFE NOW STANDS. JUST BEFORE 9AM
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GOULBURN COURT HOUSE ABOUT 9AM

I feel a lot cooler at the moment after looking at these images. I hope the feeling lasts the day.

Hoo roo for now.

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SHE WHO MUST BE OBEYED AND MOTORCYCLES.

I learned to ride in 1961 as part of my job. Later on my skill set no longer required motor cycle riding. Nortons and Triumps became a thing of the past for me.

Fast forward to 1990 and my motor cycle licence was reissued.  SWMBO also qualified that  year and we have been riding ever since.

Suzukis, Hondas, Triumphs, BMW’s and Harleys have all graced our garages over the years. SWMBO disliked the Hondas and the Triumphs but the big BMW suited her perfectly.

I  became Life Members of the Harley Owners Group way back in 1991 and SWMBO became a Lady of Harley and a Life Member in 1998 as she was regularly riding my Harley.

SWMBO rode my 327 kilo(dry)  Heritage Softail Classic almost daily for three months in 1999 while I was recovering from major surgery. I reckon it was the real beginning of her Harley love affair which culminated with her Sportster purchase in 2003.

Here is an image of  SWMBO’s HOG vest. 2017’s rocker has only just arrived and is yet to be sewn on.

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FRONT
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 BACK : NOTE THAT SWMBO HAS RACKED UP OVER 80,000 MILES ON HER HARLEY. 

Here are a few shots of SWMBO’s own bikes and images of a few of the rides she has been on.

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SWMBO’s SUZUKI 500
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SWMBO’s BMW R1100RS
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SWMBO’S HARLEY-DAVIDSON SPORTSTER CUSTOM 1200
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SWMBO AND THE GANG OUTSIDE THE WELLSHOT HOTEL, FAR WEST QUEENSLAND.
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ON A TRIP TO THE NORTHERN TERRITORY. 
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ON ANOTHER RIDE, THIS TIME TO THE THEORETICAL BIRTH PLACE OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOUT PARTY- FAR WEST QUEENSLAND.
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BACK TO THE TERRITORY FOR A HOG RALLY IN DARWIN.

Who knows what other images of SWMBO I’ll uncover as my clear out of the studio continues.

Hoo roo for now.

 

SWMBO’s FIRST FEW DAYS AS AN HARLEY – DAVIDSON OWNER.

SWMBO found the transition to forward controls on her Harley a little disconcerting after riding so many miles on her Beemer.

For the first few weeks of ownership, we did many rides just concentrating on braking, normal and emergency stops, slow speed manouvering and all the usual things riders do when riding something different for the first few hundred miles or so.

I’d purchased SWMBO an open face helmet to go with the Harley but it didn’t take long for the open face helmet to be relegated to the cupboard and replaced with her favourite, the multi coloured full face.

It wasn’t long before SWMBO was totally familiar with the forward controls, gear box operation and vibration in the lower gears and was as proficient on the road as she had been on her Beemer.

Here are a few images I made during those maiden voyages.

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BACK IN THE FULL FACE HELMET.
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GIVING THE OPEN FACE ONE LAST TRY.
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ARE WE THERE YET?
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WHERE’S THE COFFEE SHOP?
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SIZE DOES MATTER
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THIS IS WHY!
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TAKING PRIME SPOT IN THE GARAGE. FIRST IN BEST DRESSED.

Hoo roo for now

SHE WHO MUST BE OBEYED MEETS THE 2003, 100th ANNIVERSARY HARLEY- DAVIDSON XL1200 SPORTSTER CUSTOM.

This short yarn is of SWMBO’s acquisition of her first Harley Davidson not long after her love affair with her  75th Anniversary BMW R1100 lost its lustre.

In May, 2003 SWMBO accompanied me to Frasers Motor Cycles in Sydney where I intended to purchase some chrome knick knacks for my 2003, 100th Anniversary Harley Davidson Heritage Softail Classic. As any Harley owner will tell you, accessories, particularly of the chrome plated variety are essential purchases. I had to have them.

Immediagtely on entering the showsroom, SWMBO saw a 2003 100th Anniversary Harley-Davidson XL 1200 Custom Sportster hanging on a wall. All thoughts of my knick knacks suddenly evaporated. Next time, I thought.

SWMBO purred at the sign of the two tone silver and black Anniversary paint job.

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THIS IS THE 100th ANNIVERSARY SPORTSTER THAT CAUGHT SWMBO’s EYE.

“I have to have it” SWMBO informed me.  I agreed, of course. Then she informed Greg, our favourite salesman. He agreed, of course.

SWMBO bought the Sportster. There and then. No haggling, no dilly dallying. The salesman was impressed. Of course. I was impressed. Of Course.

The Sportster was still on the showroom wall.

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LOOK AT THE SMILES. SWMBO LOVED THE CHROME.

Greg pointed out some essential accessoriesd. SWMBO had to have them. They were essential.

By the following afternoon, SWMBO’s Harley was registered and ready to go. The essential new engine guard, removable windscreen  and other accessories had all been fitted.

On arrival at the dealership, the Sportster stood gleaming on the showroom floor. It looked magnificent So pert. So cute.So shiny. So sporty.

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SWMBO’s DREAM MACHINE COMPLETE WITH REMOVABLE WINDSHIELD.

It was photo time and SWMBO obliged by posing on her new Sporty.

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FITS LIKE A GLOVE
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LET’S GO.

From the saddle, SWMBO said,’My new Harley feels so good!’ I told her she looked good. The salesman told her she looked good. It’s important to look good. It’s a Harley.

Then a another great surprisae occurred. ‘Just by chance,’ our long time riding mate, ‘Russ,’ turned up out of the blue and headed straight for us. ‘I’ve come to see your new Harley,’ he said to SWMBO.

Of course, she immediately hopped off and offered a pose shot to Russ. He obliged. Of course.

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RUSS ON SWMBO’S NEW SPORTSTER.

Suddenly the Service Manager rushed up and told SWMBO that the sissy bar and luggage rack hadn’t been fitted. Calm as a cucumber SWMBO handed him the keys and twenty minutes later her bike was back, ready to go, gooides installed.

So, it was finally time to leave. SWMBO was anxious to leave. Russ was ready to leave. I was ready to leave. The new Sportster was ready to leave. We all left.

SWMBO was on her new Harley, I was on my almost new Harley. Russ was in his car. He never owned a Harley.

Sadly Russ has now ridden on.

Now you may wonder why, after almost 14 years have passed, this blog has appeared.

It’s all because the shedding of ‘stuff’ is still ongoing at Casa Creakingbones and I came across these images as part of my studio clean out. They brought back so many great memories of people, places and events.

Please don’t pull the plug on Random Ravings From An Old Bloke Downunder just yet. There’s more to come.

Hoo roo for now.

.

 

 

WAY BACK WHEN- PART TWO.

The Great Cassa Creakingbones decluttering program continues apace.  Propelled by the high outside temperatures hovering around 35-38 centigrade and air conditioned inside comfort at 22 centigrade an incentive exists to sort my slides and remaining negatives.

Unfortunately, many, many slides of past adventures have simply disappeared, not surprising when you take into account all of the moves, changes and events that have taken place personally over the past sixty years or so.

Fortunately quite a number of slides from my 1976 Middle East adventure have survived and here are a few of them.

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Camped near the main colonnade at Petra, Jordan.
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Looking towards the Treasury through the Sik, Petra.
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The Theatre Area, Petra.
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A Bedouin camp near Mt Nebo en route to the Wadi Rumm
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The Wadi Rumm looking south.
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A lone Bedouin on his camel coming in for a chat.
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High on the Kings Highway looking south towards the cost.
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Now in Damascus, Syria, looking at the busy fruit and vegetable markets on a week day.
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Not exactly the most tidy street in Damascus.
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A busy laneway in Damascus. Not a lot of natural light reaches the ground.
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Men of all ages wander around holding hands as a sign of strong friendship. One bloke told me they seldom see westerners wandering along these back lanes.
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A street photographer at work, down town Damascus. 

In 1976, Damascus was a wonderful city to visit and observe the locals going about their daily routines. Great food, fabulous coffee, fascinating street scenes and friendly, curious people made my stay in the city truly memorable. Never once did I feel unsafe .

Turkey was next stop and this border crossing was typical throughout the Middle East, with  border crossings into Israel being the exception.

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The Syria/Turkey border crossing.

With any luck, slides of some of Jordan and Syria’s fabulous archeological sites will turn up soon so, until then,

hoo roo for now.