Torgadirrup Dreaming (Mind The Gap…)

The traditional custodians of this very beautiful part of Australia, the Mirnang people, tell the following story about this place.

Two Mirnang brothers had their differences and were fighting over a young woman. The elders became tired of their squabbling and sent them to a place near The Gap.

They made one stand on one side of The Gap and one on the other side. One brother was good at throwing spears, while the other was good at throwing boomerangs. As the first brother threw a boomerang, the second threw his spear.

The first brother was struck by the spear. The other brother was struck in the back by the boomerang. Both warriors fell into the water.

The brother who was  struck in the back by a boomerang turned into a shark. The fin on the shark is the boomerang. The brother who was hit by the spear turned into a stingray.

Dreamtime stories told by the Traditional Custodians are a wonderful way of gaining a better appreciation and understanding of our land and Janet and I seek them out wherever we travel in this great country of ours…

This story is recounted on a story board at The Gap and was made available by the sons of Norngen…

Photo’s: Baz – The Landy & Janet-Planet, South West, West Australia…

PS: And yes, it is a long way from our usual travel in the Australian Outback…!

Swimming with Rays…

Hamlin Bay, nestled south of the Margaret River, beautifully showcases the dramatic and beautiful southern West Australian coastline.

Today, Hamlin Bay is a mecca for holidaymakers who come to fish and surf in this picturesque area, perhaps in between visiting many of the wineries of the Margaret River Region.

In days gone by Hamlin Bay was a port from which Karri trees, harvested from the forests close by, were exported to destinations all over the world, including England, India, and South Africa.  And it is worth mentioning that many streets of London are still paved with Karri from the forests in the area.

And the tall forests of Karri trees, standing proud, is a sight to behold as you tour the area.

One of the great things about Hamlin Bay are the stingray’s that abound.  These gracious creatures of the sea swim alongside the waters edge as you stroll along the beach – truly a sight to behold…!

If you are ever in the area, this is a place not to be missed.

Photo’s: Baz-The Landy & Janet-Planet, Hamlin Bay, West Australia

The Rabbit Proof Fence – Pioneering determination at its best…

western australia

Travelling around this great country we frequently come across great examples of the pioneering determination of our early European settlers.

The rabbit-proof fence, which was built in the early 1900s, showcases this pioneering spirit and determination and as we tour the wheat-belt region of West Australia we have seen a number of examples of the fence.

The fence was built in three-stages, commencing in 1901 and finished in 1907, and was once the longest fence in the world.

A farmer, in the State of Victoria, imported 24 rabbits from England in 1859 to breed on his property for hunting.  Perhaps it seemed like a good idea at the time, but before long they had reached plague proportions – action was needed to stop the spread of the furry creatures.

Integral to the design of the fence were the “traps” that were erected approximately 5-miles apart along the fence line.  They were 12 feet long, 7 feet wide and 3 feet high and entirely enclosed in rabbit netting.

At each end and up against the main fence wire netting funnels lead into the trap. Leading out from the funnels at each end of the trap – and at an angle of 45 degrees to the main fence were two wing fences.

The stray rabbits running along the fence would get caught in between the wing and the yard trap, move through the funnel of wire into the trap and couldn’t escape…!

Needless to say I suspect many of the trapped rabbits made their way into some very delicious stews!

Photos: Baz – The Landy, and Janet-Planet, on tour in West Australia

How’s that graduation from work going…(Baz)

Sydney's beaches
Narrabeen Lake, Sydney

Now let me repent for just a moment, we haven’t disappeared into the wilderness over these past couple of months, although you might be forgiven thinking so given our absence from these pages.

 

TomO, the Crown Prince, has been finishing his final year of High School and sitting his High School Certificate (HSC) and University entrance exams, (oh please, don’t start me on that topic) so that’s where our focus has been.  Mind you he has managed this intense period extremely well and hasn’t been too stressed about it.

Maybe he has been a little too relaxed, but hey, that’s not a bad way to live your life…!

 

Anyway, that is all behind us, and importantly, behind TomO as he sets his sights on a “gap year” before commencing his Undergraduate Degree at University; a Bachelor of Arts majoring in History, his favourite topic.

 

And rest assured, we haven’t wasted too much time getting (back) Out and About in this great country of ours, and last week we took the opportunity to spend some time on Sydney’s northern beaches, kayaking, hiking, and cycling…

Toyota 79 Series
Xplore – Our touring set-up

 

Whilst we are quite accustomed to travelling many thousand’s of kilometres exploring our fabulous country, this trip was about 40-kilometres each way – mind you, we’ve always said there is plenty to see in your own backyard if you just take the time to look, so we lived to that motto as we enjoyed a camp lakeside at Narrabeen Lagoon.

 

Next week we are off to Scottsdale Reserve, situated south of Canberra, to do some volunteer work on this conservation property owned and managed by Bush Heritage Australia…

But hey, about this graduation from work thing I embarked on early last year. Crikey, let me tell you, do it if you can, life’s too short to contemplate what could have been…

 

One of the things I have come to appreciate is time – you don’t need to do everything at a break-neck speed, no work deadlines to be met, sleep in, if that’s what is needed or get up for a walk or a row up in the “shed” in the pre-dawn magic.

The Shed

 

No rules, and strewth, you’re right, wouldn’t be “dead for quids”.

 

And Janet is itching to be Out and About, and she put the call out for me to “pack the TVAN Baz” and let’s head off down the driveway for some adventure in the Aussie Outback – yep, no encouragement needed on that one from me.

 

Speaking of which, we will cross the Australian Continent in December as we head to the West Coast for a couple of months…

Lake Cohen, Outback Australia
Lake Cohen, Outback Australia

We’ll have cameras at the ready to capture the landscapes of this great country of ours and we’ll be sure to share them..

 

Yeah, this “graduation from work” thing is working out swimmingly.

 

Cheers, Baz – The Landy

Photos: Baz – The Landy and Janet-Planet

 

From Currency Trader to Counting Platypus…

Isn’t that the beauty of life, ever evolving as we weave our own tapestry; a mosaic of our lives taking turns that one could not even imagine just a few years ago…

This week I am heading down to Scottsdale Reserve, a property owned by the conservation group Bush Heritage Australia to assist in a scientific study. Situated about 80 kilometres south of Canberra, Scottsdale borders Australia’s Alpine region and the mighty Murrumbidgee River runs through the reserve.

Each year a count is undertaken of the platypus population on this stretch of the river and involves sitting on the riverbank at dawn and dusk to “spy” this shy and unique mammal. And yes, it will be cold with minimum temperatures forecast to be as low as -7 degrees next week so I’ll be sure to pack my Driz-a-bone to keep me warm and the frost at bay…

So what took me from currency trader to counting platypus?

Well a love of the bush, the outdoors has always been my thing so it is no surprise that like a vortex the bush sucked me in once I “graduated from work”.

And hey, you’ll hear no complaints from me on how my tapestry; my mosaic is working out.

Sitting on a river bank counting platypus is timeless and without a doubt better for the soul than sitting in a trading room where fortunes are won and lost in the blink of an eye as currencies flirt with each other on world markets.

That isn’t to say trading currencies wasn’t fun, after all I did it with some great people who have become lifelong friends, but counting platypus is more appealing and far less stressful than staring at a computer monitor with one eye on the clock, counting down the hours, minutes to the end of the trading session.

By the way, what day did you say it was…?

(Just kidding, of course I know what day it is – a great one!)

Cheers, Baz – The Landy

Baz – The Landy

Beach Shacks and Lazy Summer Days…

Beach shacks and lazy summer days along the fabulous Australian Coastline, you got to love it, hey…!

Photo’s: Baz, Kangaroo Island, Southern Australia.

A Classic Country Pub (With cold beer)

You’ve got to love a classic Australian Pub, and this one situated in Malanda on the Atherton Tablelands, inland from Cairns, is one of the best…

And hey, take my word for it…!

I worked in Malanda in the late 1970s and lived in this very pub.

Today, I had my first meal in the Malanda Hotel in almost 40-years and I am pleased it is still owned by the same people, the English family, and it is as grand as I always remember it. And how good is that silky-oak timber.

Um, yeah, a touch of reminiscing going on here…!

But hey, the past is what makes up the mosaic of whom we are today, right…!

Cheers, Baz – The Landy, in Far North Queensland…

 

Old, old story from long time ago…(Dreamtime)

Australia’s Traditional Owners have many wonderful Creation and Dreamtime stories that form the basis of customary laws and traditions.

On our travels throughout Australia, Janet-Planet and I seek out these stories as they provide a fascinating insight to the local area, often the prominent land topography, and importantly, aboriginal culture.

Ahead of this week’s hike on Hinchinbrook Island I came across one such story as related by a Traditional Owner from the Girramay people. The Girramay come from the lands surrounding Cardwell, in Queensland and this story is common to a number of groups in the region.

A great story to kick-off my hike with!

“An old, old story from long time ago…

Girugarr, we call that bloke the first surveyor, he named all the country, he come from across the sea, we don’t know where he came from. He look like man on top and he got long tail like an eel.

Girugarr comes from across the sea and he stop there on Palm Island, his first foot print is there at Mundy Bay.

The earth was hot and when he put his foot down there was a little bit of splash on the mud, it’s on a rock over there.

He speaks to the old people there, growls at them, “what are you doing?”

Girugarr comes up the channel.

When he comes through the sea up to Hinchinbrook Island there are no waves in that sea. He finds all the old people cutting a candle nut tree down and he asks them what are they doing.

They’re telling him in Guwal, the traditional language, “we are cutting this tree down to find witchetty grub”.

In Guwal the tree is called gabura.

The sea was calm.

That gabura tree it stand up tall and when it falls down into the water it creates waves for the first time…”

Thanks to Marcia, a Traditional Owner, for sharing a part of this wonderful dreamtime story from long time ago.

If there are waves on the passage as I cross to Hinchinbrook Island I will be able to reflect on the dreamtime story of the Girramay people – how good is that, hey.

Photos: Baz – The Landy, Cardwell, Far North Queensland…!

 

 

Miss Redhead – My burning desire…

Red heads

The Australian Outback, an ancient land where the red-parched soil is touched by an endless blue sky and where confetti flutters on the breeze.

 

Hang-on, since when was confetti part of our outback landscape…?

On a recent foray into the outback we thought we were travelling behind a bus full of Japanese newly-weds…

You know, the ones you see down at the Historic Rocks precinct in Sydney on a Saturday morning.

Lots of smiling faces, nodding as only the Japanese can in their most polite way, married in large groups on the steps of Mrs Macquarie’s Chair overlooking the magnificent Sydney Harbour, and more confetti than you could poke-a-stick at.

Strewth, and just to be clear, lest I be accused of casting a racial slur…

I love the Japanese people.

What would lunchtime be without sashimi – Nikon camera’s weren’t the only thing they shared with the world.  And hey, I’m not suggesting there were busloads of them in the outback throwing confetti everywhere either.

I was speaking metaphorically…(okay?)

But crikey – somebody must have been.

There was so much of it you could be forgiven for thinking that it must have come from a mass wedding.

Now I get it, it isn’t the most popular dinner party topic, but thanks to the hilarious 2006 movie “Kenny” we have at least got a little more comfortable discussing the issue around the camp fire these days.

And let’s not beat around the bush here, we are talking about “Poo Tickets”

Crikey, I thought everyone has watched that movie?

Toilet paper, you dill…!

Oh, stop cringing and shuffling in your seat…

And spare us the protest, Kenny dispelled many of those urban myths about…

Mine doesn’t smell and I always clean the bowel…

As a kid I used to visit my grandmother’s home in a small country town and she had an outhouse down the backyard. Anyone from the bush will know what an outhouse is and without doubt they’ve been the butt of many jokes for time eternity.

In Nan’s outhouse there was always a small box of matches sitting behind the door and she insisted one be lit each and every time you arose from the throne!

I thought this was normal and I don’t recall anyone ever complaining about the need to do it, it was just part of the routine…

Although, Uncle Bluey did complain about it once, but that was when my cousin accidently set alight to his prized Playboy Mag he had tucked down the back of the seat that us kids never knew about.

And mum’s still the word on that one..!

So why a box of matches?

Well nothing beats a freshly lit match to kill all other lingering smells …

Come-on,  you’re not still cringing, surely?

Needless to say, caution should always be exercised when playing with matches and there was the time Bluey sent the outhouse door over the back fence after a brekkie of Heinz baked beans…(thank God for flushing toilet’s these days, hey)

I’m not sure what was funniest, Bluey sitting there in his navy singlet with his Y-Fronts around his ankles, or the dunny door in the neighbour’s mango tree.

He had that “eyes rolled-up, embarrassed” look that dogs get when your eyes meet as they do their business.

Dog owners will know what I mean…

But, here is the thing, we’ve always carried a little box of redheads when we are Out and About.

In one bold strike you fill the air with the smell of a freshly burning match after a squat, removing the need to protest yours doesn’t smell, and importantly, you can use it to burn your poo tickets…

So, for those of you that head bush please take “Miss Redhead” with you.  

She may not ignite your passion, but in the least, she will put a flame to your “poo tickets” and spare our wonderful country the indignity of the unwanted and unsightly “confetti” that has increasingly become part of the landscape…

Baz – The Landy

Ps: Seriously, this is a major problem these days!

Steampunk meets Napoleon – on a World War 2 Battlefield…

The sound of a shell fired from the World War 2 tank rang out across the field, the boom and compression of the explosion sending a shiver down the spine of all in proximity…

 Men in khaki and camouflage fatigues were hitting the ground to avoid the inevitable fall-out from the shrapnel, weapons at the ready as they lay silently waiting for the order to advance on the German line.

The rattle of machine gun fire ringing out from the bunkers and motorcycle side-cars was deafening as the Germans fought to protect their ground, shrouded for a time behind the white plume of smoke that was by now drifting across the battlefield.

Mind you, some of the soldiers ambushed on “patrol” were a about a quarter-of-a-century too late for the encounter given it was a mock battle between American and German World War 2 forces; the advance party were dressed and kitted out for the jungles of Vietnam…!

But hang-on, what are those Vikings doing on the battlefield?

Didn’t they have their run a few centuries ago marauding and pillaging their way across England?

And aren’t those fancy looking blokes dressed to the “nines” with the feather plumes on their headgear “Frenchies” from the days when Napoleon was barking out orders as he roamed the countryside looking for trouble?

The scene was unfolding at Ironfest 2017 in the Central Tablelands township of Lithgow.

Ironfest is an arts festival that explores the relationship between humans, metal and identity and is held annually at the Lithgow Showground. It brings together artists, designer-makers, blacksmiths, and performers of all kind, musicians, Steampunkers, as well as historical re-enactors and steam-machine enthusiasts from all over Australia…

TomO, the Crown Prince, is a member of Ausreenact, a non-political World War 2 living history organisation made up of members who share a common interest in history and militaria, with a particular focus on the uniforms, equipment and vehicles of the Allied and Axis forces in the period 1939-1945. He re-enacts as a member of the US Forces 2nd Armoured Division and has quite a collection of gear and equipment he has assembled from the era and which he proudly had on display in his “bunker” during the weekend.

Each year Ausreenact, along with a number of other military groups, including those dedicated to Napoleonic re-enactment and Knights from medieval times, are invited to attend and take part in the festival.

No wonder the “battle-ground” was chaotic…

Medieval swords flashed and clashed to the boom of Napoleonic guns that were challenging the armoured vehicles from more modern times.

When the Knights were not swinging their swords in battle they were charging at each other in a medieval jousting match.

And here I was thinking how macho I must look wielding the whipper-snipper with menacing precision each time I trim the moraya hedge at home. Strewth, talk about starting to feel just a tad inadequate.

So I’ll just move on…

Away from the “battlefields” there was the sound of iron striking iron on anvils as blacksmiths demonstrated their craft, beads of sweat rolling down their faces as they forged metal into works of art.

And hey, what about all those Steampunk people…?

Steampunk I hear you ask? I too had to look up the definition of a “Steampunker” and I am still not sure I have it right.

One of the best definitions for a Steampunker I have come across is from Jess Nevins, author of the Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana (it hasn’t come up on my book club read list yet) who said…

“Steampunk is what happens when Goths discover brown.”

The costumes were as varied as the people that dressed in this fashion genre inspired by the Victorian era of steam and industrial machinery. I think it was the default costume for many who attended the festival.

But the Steampunkers seemed a happy bunch even if the women’s corsets appeared three sizes to small and their mode of transport was from another age if not simply strange…

Without doubt this weekend is possibly the two days of the year the various groups can safely come out from behind closed doors and still look normal; safety in numbers, so they say.

The activity was as diverse as it was frenzied, but somehow it all worked and integrated in a way that you would not think possible and I even got to take Janet-Planet on the cruise she has always wanted to do…

On the infamous “Love Boat”…

Photos: Baz – The Landy & Janet-Planet, Lithgow, Australia…

 

Yes Sir, No Sir…how high Sir!

 

It may will be a case of Yes Sir, No Sir, how high Sir, over the coming week.

As part of TomO’s school curriculum he does military cadets and is keen to advance to a full military career in the future and this coming week he is off to an army cadet camp at Singleton Army barracks in the Hunter Valley.

And this year I get to tag along and join in the adventure, although I suspect for me it will be peeling sacks of potatoes and onions to feed the “starving” cadets who will number approximately 330.

Mind you, a week in the bush is right up my alley and with a bit of luck I get to drive one of the army trucks and take a ride in a black-hawk helicopter – such is life in the “retired ranks”…

Speak to you in a week, Baz – The Landy

Photo’s: Janet-Planet

So Many Tears…

Art has a wonderful ability to transport us to a place in our mind’s eye…

A place where we can explore the meaning the artist is endeavouring to convey and perhaps even challenging our own bias or prejudice.

Currently, there is an exhibition of wonderful sculptures, hand-crafted by talented artist’s of all backgrounds, in a picturesque harbourside park with sweeping views of the city and the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. We spent a morning wandering around Clarke Reserve at Woolwich, an old historic harbour suburb where the exhibition is being held, viewing and photographing the many artworks on display.

For us, one stood out…

 “So Many Tears” by Keith Chidzey”

In creating this work, Keith used two old wharf timbers and embedded glass tears into the wood.

It was simple, poignant, and a very moving tribute to the artist’s great-uncle, Private Ryles, who perished in the mud of Passchendaele, Belgium, over 100-years ago.

The choice of the wharf timbers is to recognise they most likely witnessed the embarkation of Australian Troops onto ships from the many wharfs dotted around the harbour. Loved ones waving, wiping away their tears as they strained to catch one more glimpse as the troop ship pulled away from the wooden dock.

 “We shall remember them…”

Each of the timbers has a carved relief, one of a slouch hat; the other with the inscription on Private Ryle’s headstone where he lays in the cemetery at Tyne Cot.

And, sensitively, one of the timbers is facing the sunset, the other the sunrise.

We reflected on this wonderful piece of artwork, its simplicity amplifying the ultimate sacrifice that too many of our fellow countrymen and women made so we can enjoy the freedoms that we have today; to be able to sit in a quiet reserve on Sydney Harbour’s foreshore in relative safety and free from the anxiety that conflict and war brings.

Bravo Keith, you have created far more than a wonderful sculpture to be admired, it is a wonderful tribute to your great-uncle, to all those who served, and to those who currently serve.

“We shall remember them…”

 Photos: Baz – The Landy, & Janet-Planet, Sydney Harbour, Australia