Monday, 30 July 2018

How to Photograph A New Puppy

Remove film from box and load camera.

Remove film box from puppy's mouth and throw in trash.

Remove puppy from trash and brush coffee grounds from muzzle.

Choose a suitable background for photo.

Mount camera on tripod and focus.

Find puppy and take dirty sock from mouth.

Place puppy in pre-focused spot and return to camera.

Forget about spot and crawl after puppy on knees.

Focus with one hand and fend off puppy with other hand.

Get tissue and clean nose print from lens.

Take flash cube from puppy's mouth and throw in trash.

Put cat outside and put peroxide on the scratch on puppy's nose.

Put magazines back on coffee table.

Try to get puppy's attention by squeaking toy over your head.

Replace your glasses and check camera for damage.

Jump up in time to grab puppy by scruff of neck and say, "No, outside! No, outside!"

Call spouse to clean up mess.

Fix a drink.

Sit back in Lazy Boy with drink and resolve to teach puppy "sit" and "stay" the first thing in the morning.

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Monday, 23 July 2018

How We View Things in Life

It is July. It is cold here in Australia. As I look through my office window trees bend at sharp angles with each strong gust of wind.

I must go out this morning and don’t want to face the challenge of bitter cold and soul-destroying wind.

As I sit procrastinating about getting on with my chores my mind goes back to something I read this morning.

July 6
A neighbour had been irrigating an oblong paddock to feed his steers during the drought. It looked like a brilliant green bedspread in the middle of a dingy room of bare brown floorboards.

July 7
The outlook through the bedroom window is a treasury of gold. A flourishing daisy bush is studded with a mint of dazzling gold flowers reflecting the brightness of the sunshine, like cascading gold coins

This was written by country woman Betty Sharpe in her little book “The Year Rambles On” published in 1985 and based on her diary.  It is dedicated to the army of country folk who struggle through all seasons to protect and preserve the real Australian countryside.

I tell myself if a country woman can see the beauty surrounding her in mid winter my moaning is unimportant.

I will go and attend to my errands and return to the warmth of my home. It really is not much to have to cope with.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Angel with Drumsticks by Pamela King (Extract)

The young men fidgeted behind stage, waiting for the seats to fill and their signal to begin. This was to be the biggest concert yet in their fledgling music careers, and each one was filled with that curious mixture of excitement flavoured with nervousness that comes from such an event. 

They had practised until they were flawless—their fingers knew every chord change, their voices every harmony, they had been living and sleeping and dreaming this moment for weeks  and they were as ready as they could ever be—yet still the hearts fluttered lightly and breath was occasionally short; they knew that this was an important milestone.

Three bands, all comprising young men, would share the stage, and each take their turn at the songs they had been allotted until the last number, which they would perform together. They had never worked together before—this was the first time they had ever met—and they wondered how their very different and distinctive styles would play out together on stage.

As they waited, they could hear the concert hall filling.

Just over two hours earlier, when their car had pulled up outside the forbidding building designed by 17th Century architect Borromini, the young band members stared at the intimidating building and took a collective deep breath. Angelo dropped his cheek into the palm of his hand. “Well, we are here, I hope everything goes alright”.

It had been a typical Roman spring day.  Aprile dolce dormire is an Italian expression meaning ‘April sweet sleep’. In Rome it is a beautiful mid-spring month, the days are usually fresh, mostly sunny or partly cloudy. It is known as a month for quiet relaxation and great for day trips or short holidays.

Now, as the bands launched into their music—delighting their audience with their new beat, their new style, their new way—the gentle spring air was shattered, the music was so loud it could be heard kilometres away. Even the thunderous Italian traffic with its constant discordant harmony of horns could not be heard in the forecourt of the Oratorium let alone inside the hall itself.

The 2,000-seat auditorium had no pre-booked seating and it was a matter of first in, first served. The organisers had been hopeful of a healthy turnout, but even their most optimistic assessments were shattered when over 10,000 turned up, and around 8,000 were turned away from the doors of the already full hall. Speakers were hastily erected outside for the benefit of these eager young fans, who jostled and crowded on the outside, desperate to hear the sounds of their favourite band.

The national Italian television station, RAI, set up their television cameras to record the occasion and police lines were unable to contain the horde of youngsters who, motivated by this new and vital mystical feeling, had swamped the seats, tables and cornices to insure those few centimetres of space needed to wiggle their limbs.

The boom of the drums and bass sounded like a thunder storm about to hit—and it was. 

The 8,000 fans, mostly young people, who couldn’t get into the venue, were intoxicated by the sounds coming from the huge speakers that had been hastily set up so everyone could still hear the music being performed inside.

Inside, the applause was nearly as loud as the music and young girls were screaming with tears running down their faces as they jostled to get a closer glimpse of their new music heroes and, if at all possible, touch them.

As the words and the music drew the crowd in, eager for more, the musicians were both astounded and elated by the adulation and excitement of the crowd.

The young musicians of Angel and the Brains had practiced industriously, perfecting their talent and style. They had already enjoyed some success with their new Italian beat but this was a phenomenal response to their new style. “At last our music is being received well,” the young Angelo Ferrari thought to himself as they handed over to the next band on the stage, and wished with all his heart that his band were performing more than their allotted four songs. 

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Operation Koala at Bargo by Pamela King.

The night was still, the Milky Way glistened and sparkled but there was a chill in the air. The dingoes were restless.

Those living in the house, Merri, Flowers and Napoleon, repeatedly rose from the comfort of their arm chairs to go out and check the fence lines. The family’s investigation revealed nothing unusual and everyone settled for the night.

At midnight, savage snarls and spitting of a large animal rent the air. Merri whimpered at the door.

A dingo screeched. Someone screamed, “It’s got Flowers". Clad only in my night dress and grabbing a torch, Berenice rushed out into the night to save poor Flowers. Her son Ken grabbed a shot gun and thundered behind her.

Vicious snarling echoed from the other side of the fence. Something was savagely attacking Flowers. Merri joined her. Both courageously tried to fight off the intruder.

Who or what was it and why was it attacking the Dingoes?

A frenzy of fury resulted in a loud crash against the fence. Then, quiet, as the animal disappeared into the long grass.

Flashing the torch, Berenice first checked Flowers and Merri were unharmed. Looking around she was amazed to see an indignant Koala preparing for another onslaught.

Crash, as he flung himself at the fence screaming once again.

Despite living in the bush for thirty years they had no idea how to handle the situation. For some inexplicable reason the koala seemed intent on getting into the dingo yards to attack them. Berenice and Ken stayed calm and carefully guided him up a nearby tree.

When he seemed content and not intending to continue his attacks everyone retired back to bed. Peace reigned. Checking the situation early the next morning they discovered him back on the ground, running along the fence and still trying to get to the dingoes.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service were contacted and guaranteed to collect the trespasser the same day. There was just one condition, he had to be confined.

By now he was back up his tree, staring down nonchalantly at the steady stream of admiring neighbours gathering to see him.

They were told koalas are easy to handle; if you know how. One neighbour brought a collection of gum leaves for his breakfast, and he appeared content.

Another neighbour, reading from a book on caring for koalas, assured Ken he would not attack.  Not taking any risks, and determined to catch him without injury, Ken bound his arms with bags, reached up into the tree, then gently lifted him down.

The Koala had not read the book. He suddenly sprang into action, flipped right over and sunk all fours into Kens arms, all the time screaming furiously. Everyone watching collapsed into a heap laughing. Ken finally herded the visitor into a large dog crate where he settled down to finish his gum leaves in peace. During the afternoon a helicopter arrived to collect the koala.

For all the drama and minor injuries, Berenice felt proud to have had this unique native animal residing in her trees but knew his welfare could only be assured in the hands of those who understood the animal.

He was probably a victim of progress. At the time the M5 was being cut through local bushland, and many native animals had their habitat destroyed, or at the least, disturbed. 

The Walters and their neighbours had seen small mobs of wallabies making their appearance and were delighted to catch glimpses of the graceful members of our native fauna. The previous dingo breeding season, they had even heard the far off call of a wild Dingo from the distant gorges.

But with miles of bushland around them, she wondered why that Koala wanted so desperately to get into the house yard. Out of loneliness? Or did he seek the company of another animal he recognised as native?

Sunday, 1 July 2018

What drove the Bushrangers into Bargo and Burragorang?

Dan Morgan stick up
There are many individual famous bushrangers in Australia but, the Shire of Wollondilly certainly had it fair share of rogues.

Wollondilly is 1½ hours south west of Sydney by today’s modern transport. Its 2,560 square kilometres stretches from Bargo in the south, Appin and Menangle in the east, Warragamba in the north and includes the Nattai wilderness, Burragorang Valley and Yerranderie.

But why were so many bushrangers active in this area? I’ll tell you after I describe the goings on of the 1800s.

Bargo Brush

The area known as Bargo Brush was first explored by white man in 1798. It incorporates the area from Appin to Bargo. (The last remaining stand of this thick scrub can be seen at Wirrimbirra Sanctuary today.) The scrub was dense, and roads often impassable due to their poor quality especially after bad weather. Journeys were long, tedious and fraught with danger.

The district became notorious for escaped convicts who turned to ‘bailing up’ coaches and even more dark and murderous deeds. In fact, it was the most notorious section of road in the colony. Even Ben Hall and his gang (John Gilbert and John Dunn) were active in the district for a period.

Burragorang Valley

Burragorang Valley was settled early in the history of the colony. It became a desired holiday destination and well known for its guesthouses but suffered for many years from escaped convicts in the area.

Because of the nature of the bush in the valley, bushrangers and cattle thieves were able to hide whole herds of cattle for several months. The bushrangers would not only rob people travelling along the road but also hold up the houses in the district.

The Valley is said to have inspired Rolf Boldrewood’s Robbery Under Arms.


The road over Razorback Range, also part of the Great South Rd, was difficult to traverse leaving many travellers weary and vulnerable to horrific murders, unexplained accidents and notorious bushrangers of the worst kind. The tales are augmented with the ghost stories of the victims.


‘Mad’ Dan Morgan (William John Owen) was born near Appin. His nickname ‘Mad Dan’ or ‘Mad Dog’ came from his violent mood swings. He was a thief and a murderer.


Jack Donahue is one of Australia’s most famous bushrangers. He was a transported convict who escaped twice from the clutches of the law. He finally met his end when shot resisting arrest near Warragamba. His deeds and capture are remembered in the song “The Wild Colonial Boy”,

Wollongong to Campbelltown

A mail coach running from Wollongong to Campbelltown seemed immune, according to an 1866 Sydney Mail report, until it was struck twice in a fortnight that year. What is interesting about the report is not the mention of the hold up, but the coach was unique in being unaffected by the activity until that time.

So why were there so many bushrangers in the district?

In Sydney Town rumours abounded about a land of plenty beyond the settlement. The convicts living in misery, and desperate for freedom, readily believed the myths. There were two stories doing the rounds.

The first was of a passage overland to China and a journey of just 240 kilometres. The second story was of a free white indigenous settlement where life was easy and plentiful.

To dispel these myths, two expeditions were initiated called “expeditions of anti-discovery”.  The first in 1798 by Governor Hunter to explore the Bargo Brush district. Although Hunter was not attempting to make any discoveries even with his superiors he pretended they were.

With the same mindset in 1802 Governor King sent a similar expedition into the Burragorang Valley and Blue Mountains

The explorations did nothing to dispel the myths that prevailed well into the 1820s and 1830s.