Activities Held 2021 (2015 to 2020 Below)

All items are in reverse date order starting with the latest at the top and oldest at the bottom

The following is an outline of some of the presentations & talks given to the Shed as well as major shed excursions and special activities that been held. There are also links to any Photo Albums created for such activities. Many of the pictures taken are stored on the sheds Google Photos web presence

Activities Held 2021 (2015 to 2020 Below)

2021-12-10 – Energy Independence – Dave Southgate

From Newsletter #604 of 17th Dec 2021

Dave spent many years dealing with climate change issues for the Tasmanian and Federal Governments. Disappointed by the lack of real action and progress on climate change, after he retired in 2012, he decided to tackle things ‘from the bottom up’, aiming to achieve a fossil fuel – free household.

But the motivation was not just about global warming. The burning of fossil fuels contributes to the sort of pollution we have seen recently in India. It also increases the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, an important issue globally and in our immediate environment. For example, a car aircon unit set to recirculate can very quickly result in an unhealthy, drowsiness-inducing level of CO2.

Another issue is Australia’s dependence on the international petrol supply chain, leaving us vulnerable in various ways, such as the huge prices we are currently paying for petrol.

Dave took us through the detailed considerations and actions taken as part of his transition project. Here’s a pie chart showing the components of his household energy usage back in 2013.

Daves Energy Usage 2013

Converting away from gas was an obvious choice. Disconnecting meant no longer having to pay the service charge incurred regardless of usage.

Dave did not opt for rooftop solar water heating. It’s not a popular option nowadays, for a number of reasons. Instead, it was preferable to install rooftop photovoltaic (PV) panels, which produce electricity. The electricity is then available not just for heating water, but all the usual domestic needs, plus being able to charge the electric vehicle (EV) that was part of the switch made by Dave’s family.

Better home insulation and gap-sealing was all part of the project. But after discovering the increased level of CO2 retained in the house, some gaps were reopened to allow better ventilation. A lot of experiments with home heating led to an increasing emphasis on heating people instead of rooms.

Dave Southgate talking to the Shed

When they started the transition project, petrol for vehicles was one of their biggest (61%) and most expensive energy users. So it’s unsurprising that Dave is an enthusiastic fan of EV’s, which he described as a ‘Wonderful experience – great acceleration, quiet, smooth, cheap to run. New tech. I won’t go back to a petrol car’. He also noted the improving cost, choice of cars, emergence of a second-hand market, faster charging and km-capable range of EV’s.

By the end of 2020, Dave and his family had reduced overall energy use, achieved 95% independence from grid electricity, eliminated gas, and greatly reduced their need for petrol. With one EV and one petrol vehicle, cars still account for 56% of the household energy usage. The greater energy efficiency of the EV is very evident, compared to the petrol car, with the EV doing twice as many kilometres, using less than half the energy.

For more details of Dave‘s ongoing transition project and related issues, have a look at his website

Among the myths debunked by Dave was the idea that we need to pay solar panel cleaning companies to come around and clean the rooftop panels. His experience, after years of careful monitoring, is that without any cleaning, there has been no noticeable reduction in the electricity produced by his panels. So, don’t pay for unnecessary contractors and DON’T get on the roof to DIY!

A common misperception was that you can only install PV panels if you have a north-facing roof space. In fact, there are some advantages in panels facing in different directions, because they generate power at different times of the day.

Discussion about the cost/benefits of investing in solar PV roof panels, was prompted by a question about how long it would take to make the investment worthwhile. Dave pointed out that it is difficult to be precise about the financial issues, because the circumstances, technology and regulatory framework keep changing. For example, he is currently able to ‘sell’ more electricity back to the grid than the maximum allowable. He anticipates the limit will change, partly as a result of more widespread use of battery storage, allowing him to make more out of his investment.

A number of members commented on this issue, saying they had invested in solar panels and continue to do well out of the deal. In Dave’s case, solar panels have lasted longer than expected, increasing the benefit. With the switch to an EV, being able to use his own electricity to charge the car meant he would continue to save money otherwise spent on petrol, for many years.

Dave made the observation that when we spend money on things like doing up the kitchen, we don’t ask how long it will take to make the investment worthwhile. And yet, with something that will produce a return on investment, we seem to set the bar much higher.

Another way of coming at this issue was raised, along the lines that, at our age and stage of life, it may not be worth installing solar panels as we won’t be staying in the same house long enough to make it worthwhile. Dave’s answer to this was to point out that the panels will add value to the house, and the panels will still be there, continuing to benefit the next generation through their contribution to reducing climate change and pollution.

For anyone contemplating the installation of PV panels, it’s preferable to avoid distant companies that hire subcontractors, and go instead for a reputable local company. Choose the right companyand you are more likely to get good quality components for your system.

Dave’s presentation was much appreciated. It was very informative and thought-provoking, generating a lively Q&A exchange. This was his first visit to a Men’s Shed; let’s hope we see him again!

Best Of 2021 Renewables

Following on from Dave Southgate’s talk about solar etc, there was a very interesting assessment of solar, batteries and electric cars on ABC 24 recently. Here’s a link: Renewables : ABC iview. According to Ron Thomson, it gives a really clear assessment of the benefits and pitfalls of all renewables.

2021-12-03 – Around Australia on Public Transport – Luke Wensing

From Newsletter #603 of 10th Dec 2021. Thanks Luke for a great presentation about this fascinating trip.

Imagine getting ready to have a crack at spending 70 days travelling around Australia – covering about 18,600km – on public transport! In the middle of a COVID Pandemic! Because, as Luke put it: ’we think we can, we need to get out, and we miss having a travel challenge’. The planning and logistics alone would put many people off, but not Marie and Luke. The challenge was Marie’s idea of a fun way to celebrate her 70th birthday.

After months of meticulous planning, what could possibly go wrong? Well…on day one, looking forward to a luxurious rail trip from Goulburn to Melbourne, they discovered that an overnight derailment meant the train trip would now be a long bus trip. Not quite the same, but for this experienced pair of adventurous travellers, it wasn’t the end of the world. One of a number of disappointments and hiccups along the way, they took it in their stride.

Sensibly heading to Tasmania before winter closed in, they had a pleasant journey across Bass Strait on the Empress, landing of course in Devonport. After taking in the delights of Burnie and the west coast, arrival in Queenstown greeted them with the remarkable sight of reforestation that has been achieved. Having visited the area over 40 years ago, I can attest to the desolate landscape that previously existed.

A planned trip on the West Coast Wilderness Railway, with its’ unique (in Australia) rack and pinion system for climbing steep tracks, was to be a highlight. It turned into another disappointment when the locomotive was out of action for the day.

Hobart had a lot to offer, including a replica of Mawson’s Antarctica hut, a fascinating wall in the museum (below), and a trip down memory lane for Luke and Marie, with visits to Hastings Caves and other places they had last visited many years ago.

A seasonal change in ferry prices made it actually cheaper to fly back to Melbourne, so they did. Nice timing, as they hopped on the ‘The Overland’ train, bound for Adelaide, the week before Melbourne again went into a COVID lockdown.

Compared to driving, Luke enjoyed the pleasure of being able to sit back, relax and soak up the scenery while travelling by train and coach.

Being familiar with Adelaide from previous trips, they headed straight to the airport for a flight to Perth. Although they had wanted to head west from Adelaide to Kalgoorlie, there is unfortunately no public transport available. So, after a few days in Perth, they headed back toward Adelaide, catching the ‘Prospector’ train to Kalgoorlie.

A striking sight on their touring around Kalgoorlie was Australia’s largest open cut gold mine, known colloquially as the Super Pit. Luke was able to show us a photo from a previous visit, some 20 years previous, alongside the pit as it is now, which is clearly visible from space.

Kalgoorlie Super Pit

Passenger trains on many routes in WA have been replaced by buses, and so it was by bus they headed for Esperance. There they visited a replica of Stonehenge (which turned out to be one of 96 around the world). A hire car enabled them to visit the spectacular coast around Lucky Bay.

The bus from Esperance to Perth passed by the Ravensthorpe Lithium mine, another reminder of just how significant the mining industry is in WA.

From Perth the next bus trip was to Geraldton, amongst other things, host to an impressive memorial to the souls lost in the sinking of the HMAS Sydney.

Geraldton was as far as we got in Luke’s presentation, marking 30 days on the road and 7,605km covered. For the rest of the trip we’ll have to wait until we hear parts 2 & 3 next year.

Lucky Bay Near Cape Le Grand

2021-11-26 – Cycling across the Nullarbor by Cycling across the Nullarbor by Joel Krewaz

From Newsletter #602 of 3rd Dec 2021.

The full title of Joel’s talk is “Against The Wind – Self Supported Bicycle Tour, Canberra to Perth”. In answer to a question, Joel said that he chose “Against The Wind” because the conventional wisdom is that rides across the Nullarbor go from west to east to take advantage of the prevailing wind. Joel and his mates rode in the opposite direction because one of his three riding mates has a goal of riding from Canberra to each of the other capital cities in Australia and this was the Perth stage.

In practice, the wind was against them on about the same number of days as it was assisting. The wettest day was the last one, riding into Perth. In total, the ride was 3,868kms and took 42 days (including three rest days) between 18 April 2021 and 29 May 2021. The average ride day was a “Don Bradman” (99.6kms). The bike was 12kgs bare but weighed about 50kgs fully loaded.

Other interesting facts are:
• 4 borders crossed
• 10 media interviews
• 8,600 metres ascents
• 2 flat tyres
• 0 dog chases
• 147kms longest day
• 18 days at more than 100kms.

Joel said they met some interesting characters during their trip, both amongst others doing something similar, the truck drivers and locals who went out of their way to look after them, with food, drink and even a ride when one of the cyclists broke a wheel.
He listed the important lessons he learned from the ride:
• People solve problems; technology or you, yourself, don’t solve problems.
• Bike prep is golden.
• Being seen (lights and high viz).
• Water.
• Water again, even during the cooler months.
• Food.
• What’s App – runs on ½ a bar of mobile reception.
• Warm gear.
• Trucks and other road users LOVE being able to see you (brightly lit up).
• You will be quick in the morning, slower in the afternoon and grateful at night.
• Drink before you are thirsty.
• Eat whatever you want whenever you can.
• Travel with someone more experienced than yourself, preferably a practising Buddhist.
• The most important phrase…..”It depends”.
• Get a patter going….people will ask….everywhere…all the time.
• It is more important to stand upright in gravel than horizontal on tarmac.
• If you can, be tight and neat with your stuff. Saves a heap of time

2021-11-12 – “The Banjo”,“Bill the Bastard” & “The Padre” by Frank O’Rourke

From Newsletter #600 of 19th Nov 2021.
The Banjo
Banjo Paterson attended school at Binalong. Later on he owned a 40,000 acre property at Wee Jasper in partnership with the Lindeman family (of wine fame). During WW1 Banjo headed the Remount Section of the Australian Light Horse in the Sinai and Holy Land battles against the Turks.
Bill the Bastard
In a small park just off the main street in Murrumburrah there is a Memorial to the Australian Light Horse. Nearby is a bronze life-size statue of a Waler warhorse called ‘Bill the Bastard’ because of his obstinate nature.

He would allow only one man, Major Michael Shanahan, to ride him. During the Battle of Romani on 4 August 1916 Major Shanahan found four Tasmanians without their horses.

They were facing death or capture by the Turks. Bill amazingly allowed the four men to climb aboard – one man on each side crouching with a single foot in Shanahan’s stirrup, and two seated up on his back behind Shanahan. Bill carried all five soldiers for more than a kilometre to safety under heavy Turkish fire.
At Gallipoli, Bill had been used as a pack horse. He had carried the body of John Simpson Kirkpatrick down to the beach after he was shot and killed.

Statue of Bill in Murrumburrah
The Padre
Father Tom Mullins was Parish Priest of Barmedman and Ardlethan and all in between from 1900. He joined the 5th Light Horse at Gallipoli as its chaplain in November 1915, going on to serve in additional campaigns in Egypt, Syria, Palestine and Gaza.
Reaching the rank of Chaplain lieutenant colonel, Padre Mullins was mentioned in despatches four times. He also was awarded the Military Cross. His Citation reads:
At Gaza on 26 March, 1917, this Padre showed conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. In severe fighting at the back of Gaza, he was all the time up with the men in front, attending to the wounded and the burial of the dead. He displayed great fearlessness and was right in the fighting line. His conduct has been the same on all occasions.
Apart from the MC and his 4 MiDs, he was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal (shown below with an oakleaf on the ribbon to indicate he had been Mentioned in Despatches). His medals in the photo below also include the Jerusalem Pilgrim’s Cross of Honour, a religious medal issued by Pope Leo Xlll, as recognition of merit to Pilgrims to the Holy Land. Also in the frame is a medallion given to Father Mullins by the parishioners of Barmedman (which was also in the Ardlethan Parish) on his return in 1920.
Padre Tom Mullins’ medals

2021-11-05 – Renewables Pumped Hydro – by Martin van der Hoek

From Newsletter #598 of 5th Nov 2021. This article by Martin appeared in this newsletter. Whilst not a presentation it was thought it was worthy enough to be included in a more permanent location.

Hydro-electric energy is green energy, i.e. there are no pollutants needed to generate it and no pollutants result in the production of that energy. Pumped hydro goes one step further in that it is also a renewable energy being able to produce energy from the same body of water, over and over again,……provided the energy needed to pump the water back up the hill is from a renewable source. That source being either its own stored, generated energy or energy from an outside, renewable source. If using its own generated energy, it would only be cost effective if that energy wasn’t needed elsewhere or used in off-peak periods when energy is cheap.

The beauty of hydro energy is that it can provide base load power and also efficiently provide dispatchable power, i.e. power at the flick of a switch. Dispatchable energy would also be always available on demand if there was an infinite supply of water in the storage reservoir. This is why coal fired or gas fired power stations, running continuously, are so attractive to the federal coalition. Hydro is certainly an attractive option in handling fluctuations in supply from wind and sun produced power.

It’s not easy to get your head around all the energy options. Last week I talked about the mega solar farms planned for the near future, and one in particular, the 124 sq km solar farm in the Simpson Desert that is planned to light up Singapore, Darwin and/or 500,000 homes in Australia. The $20 billion investment would give the Australian economy a huge boost,….provided the millions of panels are made in Oz. We’ll get to that later; the renewable debate is far from over.

When I hear the federal coalition members’ mantra ‘..what do you do when the sun doesn’t shine and wind doesn’t blow’ with regard to wind and solar farms, I get really hot under the collar. The huge Tesla battery in S.A. has already proved its worth, and it too has been used to provide dispatchable power at the flick of the switch. To store more power, you increase the size of the battery. No-one is suggesting that solar and wind are being promoted as stand-alone power sources – batteries are an essential part of the mix.
Individual households are also moving to installing batteries with their solar panels as rebates dwindle and power prices rise.

There’s also that other favourite furphy about having to run farm machinery with a long extension cord, and how the tradies are going to lose their utes if we move to electric vehicles. And yet Angus Taylor, the Emissions Reduction Minister (!), keeps pushing the line that Australia will meet its emission targets through yet to be conceived ‘technological change’, without using taxpayers’ dollars. Isn’t switching to renewables, technological change?? Lord spare me. Luckily, the State Govts are far more enlightened and the combined average, planned emissions reduction targets of the States puts the Federal Govt’s 2030 target to shame. Then we add pumped hydro to the mix.

Pumped hydro, within the Snowy Mountains Hydro Program, was Malcolm Turnbull’s pet project. I’m still surprised that he was able to persuade his coalition members to come on board with the project, given its green credentials. At the time of its announcement I also wondered how, constructing yet another pipeline between 2 water reservoirs and running water downhill through generators, and then pumping the water back up again, how that alone was going to solve our power and emissions problem. And is it cost effective? I did a little more researching.

The Turnbull Snowy hydro scheme is not the first of its kind in Australia. Australia already has river-based pumped hydro energy storage facilities at Wivenhoe (Qld), Shoalhaven (NSW) and Tumut 3. Turnbull’s project is referred to as Snowy 2.0, and construction has commenced—this project will add 2,000 MW of generation to the National Electricity Market (NEM), thus doubling the nation’s total pumped hydro capacity and provide storage for 175 hours of continuous operation.

Snowy 2.0 is a big project: it involves connecting the massive Tantangara Reservoir to the Talbingo Reservoir with a 27 km tunnel, with a diameter of 17m, have a generator 1 km underground, will take 7 years to build and employ 4,000 people in its construction. When completed, it too will be able to power 500,000 homes. The first energy generation from Snowy 2.0 is expected in late 2024. The current cost estimate for the project is $5 billion, up from the initial $2 billion.
So what does all that mean?

The available literature will tell you pumped-storage hydropower (PSH) is more than 80 percent energy efficient through a full cycle and PSH is already the cheapest energy storage technology in the world in terms of cost per installed kilowatt-hour of capacity. Total project costs range between $106 and $200 per kilowatt-hour, compared to between $393 and $581 for lithium-ion batteries. The question is whether the cost figures of the project are accurate. I have heard that the original $2 billion figure is now approaching $5 billion and could easily become $10 billion!

Compared to a large battery, it’s important to remember that batteries, with the currently available technology, will need to be replaced a number of times during the potential 100-year life of a pumped storage project, so the necessary replacements need to be factored in to the life-time costs.
Let’s look at the potential benefits of a mega solar farm and Snowy 2.0. If we can build the solar farms and source the materials locally, it will be a huge benefit to the construction companies and the communities in the surrounding areas. At present China produces 80% of the world’s solar panels, using expertise largely developed at the UNSW in Sydney. A Chinese PhD student working in the lab here wanted to apply that knowledge locally but couldn’t get any financial backers. He went back to China and with support from the Chinese Govt started producing panels on an increasingly large scale. He became a billionaire. What a lost opportunity for Oz. Are we going to make the same mistake again? We’ll have to wait and see.

The production of solar panels is a very energy intensive industry. In China it relies heavily on fossil fuel power stations, powered largely by Australian coal. The more panels we order, the more coal is burned. We have the raw materials and expertise to build the panels in Oz. Let’s hope the Australian syndicates behind these projects do so and use renewables to power the factories. Am I dreaming?

So we know that Snowy 2.0 is very expensive, but all that money is being spent locally. Cooma and surrounding areas are enjoying the injection of funds and supplying manpower and materials to support the project. In Cooma, e.g., a company So we know that Snowy 2.0 is very expensive, but all that money is being spent locally. Cooma and surrounding areas are enjoying the injection of funds and supplying manpower and materials to support the project. In Cooma, e.g., a there is producing the concave concrete blocks that lock together to form the lining of the 17 m diameter, 27 km long tunnel. Food and housing also need to be provided. The experience gained and the economic multiplier effect will last as long as the construction phase and beyond, although the finished project will require minimum on-going maintenance. As far as I’m concerned, as long as we keep the money in the local economy, no one’s complaining. One major expense is the monster boring machine. That won’t become an orphan asset as it can be dismantled, re-used elsewhere or on-sold.

So is there a downside? Well, there never was a feasibility study done on Snowy 2.0 and who knows what the final cost will be. Also, Snowy Hydro has not costed the billion dollar transmission upgrades on which the project depends, to either Sydney or Melbourne. We also can’t escape the fact that coal fired power stations will be providing the power to push the water uphill for some years to come, or until other renewables are sufficiently developed to take over.

Also, the top dam, Tantangara, is much bigger than the lower storage dam, Talbingo, so there is a limit to the amount of water it can handle before the flow is stopped or the water is pumped back uphill. Then there’s the National Parks Association who claim Snowy 2.0 will be a net consumer of electricity, not a generator, with ‘round-trip’ losses of 30%, plus another 10% for transmission.
The concept of pumped hydro is sound, and there are almost unlimited opportunities to implement such schemes in Australia, but does it stack up economically against other renewable options. Most experts will say NO. Whatever advantages there might be now, they will diminish over time as solar and wind take over.

A last word about the future. Pundits will say that you need coal to make steel. You don’t anymore. I can cite numerous examples where steel production will now be powered by solar energy. For example, Volvo, the car manufacturer is now using fossil-free steel in the construction of heavy haul trucks, with cars and other car manufacturers to follow. The electric car industry has been given an enormous boost recently with Hertz ordering 100,000 Tesla cars for its hire fleet. This will also encourage the expansion of re-charging points throughout the USA. I wish the federal coalition would take note, mandate stricter emission controls on new vehicles and reduce the taxes on electric vehicles.
The feds still believe in maintaining and expanding coal mining, relying on gas exports, pumping $650m into a new gas fired power station, and doing all this to placate the Nationals and to stay in power. I say stand clear, let the voters have a say and let private enterprise and the States bring Australia into a brighter, fossil free future.

Ed Comment. Thanks Martin a well thought out article. However pumped hydro is used in many countries as well as Tasmania. They are thinking about another Bass Strait electric cable to sell more of their hydro electricity to Vic etc. Yes Green Hydrogen will be a big part of the future but as will Green Steel. There are still issues with the economics of producing such outcomes. However there are many working to make it happen. Meanwhile there is big money to be had selling coal and gas to the world.

2021-10-29 – Renewables and Hydrogen – the (only) fuels of the future? – by Martin van der Hoek

From Newsletter #597 of 29th Oct 2021. This article by Martin appeared in this newsletter. Whilst not a presentation it was thought it was worthy enough to be included in a more permanent location.

Sun, wind, land and political intent could not only make Australia energy self-sufficient, but also a major energy exporter. Roof top solar installation is soaring in Australia and mid-scale solar farms are being built around the country, but up till now it has been private initiative and piecemeal. But a solar farm about to be built in the NT will, when completed, be the biggest in the world.
The 5 largest solar farms in the world are in India and China. The one being built in the Simpson Desert will be bigger than all of them. It is being built by a consortium including one of the founders of the software company Atlassian, Mike Cannon-Brookes. He and his wife are putting up $1.5B of the $30B needed to build it. If those figures are not eye-watering enough, cop this: The solar farm will cover an area of 125 sq kms; the battery associated with this farm will be 200 times the size of the much-celebrated Tesla battery in SA, which is currently the biggest in the world. The intention is to provide Singapore with 15% of its needs. That power cable, referred to as the ‘extension cord’ will be 5000 kms long, 4200 kms of which will be submerged. On the way it will provide Darwin with all its needs. It is capable of supplying up to 2 million Aussie households with power. The intention is to run cables to other Asian countries. The build will start in 2024, be completed by 2027 and fully operational in 2028. The sky is the limit.
Exporting electrical energy has obvious limitations, if done by cable, but the means are there. We have an abundance of sun, wind and land and the cost of renewables, both solar panels and wind turbines is falling rapidly through technological change and economies of scale. And then there is hydrogen.
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. Problem is most of it is trapped in water. Water is comprised of 2 atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen. How to get the hydrogen out? Is it economic to extract the hydrogen? And if we can collect the hydrogen and use it as a fuel, how does that compare in cost with fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel? Whatever the costs, the end product when you burn hydrogen is water; the end product when you burn fossil fuels is carbon dioxide and other polluting gases. It’s a no-brainer in terms of what is better for the future of this planet. So the argument boils down to costs? The other obvious question is, can it replace fossil fuels in vehicles and in industries such as steel production, and do so economically??
A cynical response would be if the head of Fortescue Metals (FMG) is prepared to spend a billion dollars on producing and exporting green hydrogen, it must be. The NSW and QLD governments intend to spend billions more of taxpayers’ money. There must be an economic and political advantage in doing so. I mentioned ‘green hydrogen’. The Federal Govt and Angus Taylor have finally seen the future of hydrogen but they want to invest in ‘clean hydrogen’, i.e. hydrogen produced from natural gas. Natural gas is methane, an even greater pollutant than carbon dioxide. The Feds also talk about ‘clean coal’ and carbon capture. Needless to say there is no other government in the world that believes in that nonsense as a solution to climate change.
So what is ‘green hydrogen’? It is hydrogen produced by green energy, either solar, wind, pumped hydro, tides etc. Before we talk about what’s involved, let it be known that hydrogen can be used to power any vehicle, train, ship or appliance. FMG has already converted a monster iron ore truck in WA to run on hydrogen. My SUV runs on LPG; it could easily run on hydrogen. Personally, I can’t wait given there is always the faint smell of gas hanging around my car after it’s been driven! FMG intends to convert their whole fleet. So you start with water, break it down, produce hydrogen, use it as a fuel source and end up with pure water coming out the tail pipe. How much does it cost to break it down? Is it economic to do so?? The answer is No it’s not, at least not yet.
Green hydrogen is made via electrolysis, a process that uses an electrolyser to send an electric current through water to split the “H2” from the “O”. When renewable energy is used to power the electrolyser, the end product is emissions-free. We have already seen that producing green energy is getting cheaper by the day. Fields of solar panels, plus a large battery to store the excess, is an obvious power solution. When you combine that with the use of sea water as opposed to fresh water, you can see how well placed Australia is. Sea water would need to be desalinated. We already have desalination plants in NSW and Vic which are either not used at present or under utilised. They too could be run by renewable energy.

Another hurdle will be the storage and transport of hydrogen. Hydrogen is difficult to store and transport. It is highly flammable – 20 times more flammable than petrol, and has long suffered an image problem (think, Hindenburg). It is also hugely water-intensive: 1 kg of hydrogen requires 9 litres of water, hence the locations of the production facilities are restricted. The major cost in using hydrogen as a replacement fuel will be in building the infrastructure, the electrolysers, the storage tanks, refuelling stations and export facilities, both for internal use and export. To make hydrogen safer to use, store and transport would be to convert hydrogen temporarily to ammonia. My chemistry knowledge tells me it’s a matter of combining hydrogen with nitrogen, another abundant source, and stripping the nitrogen again when needed.
The enormous incentive to get this enterprise going is that instead of being the number one exporter of natural gas, as we are at the moment, Australia becomes the number one exporter of hydrogen gas. With the world moving towards net zero emissions by 2050, the demand for hydrogen will expand exponentially over the coming years. It’s too bad, from a purely economic view, that so much natural gas and coal will forever remain in the ground, but that’s inevitable.
The pundits talk up the importance of coal and gas exports. We may be the biggest exporter of coal but many of those mines are owned by foreign entities, shipping coal out in foreign ships. What do we get out of that, other than bad publicity? Then there is gas. Natural gas is methane, many times more polluting than carbon dioxide. When extracting methane, much gas escapes into the atmosphere. To transport natural gas, it has to be converted to liquid form. This takes a huge amount of energy. Where does the energy come from? Gas fired power stations. And then there is the price of gas charged to us, the owners of the gas. Asia is enjoying our gas for less than what we pay for it. Does all this make sense? As far as I’m concerned, the sooner we stop this nonsense the better off we will be, both financially and as a country trying to meet world carbon emission targets.
The federal government has set a goal of having green hydrogen produced at $2 per kilogram, the point at which it believes it would be competitive with hydrogen sources from fossil fuels. The government’s renewable energy agency, ARENA, says this would mean the cost of electrolysers would need to fall by as much as 75%. So we still have a fair way to go, but with government incentives and technical expertise in this country, it will happen.
Once transport and storage is resolved, hydrogen has some advantages over batteries as a power source for vehicles, including a longer driving range and far quicker refuelling times. This makes it a more viable alternative, e.g. for long-haul trucks. Also, the lighter weight of hydrogen compared with batteries, allows for greater distances without refuelling, and an energy density per unit mass that is 3 times higher than traditional fuels.
BHP has already indicated it is getting out of coal and focusing on the manufacture of fertilisers, and switching to green energy to do so. In time, hydrogen will also be used in the manufacturing of products such as steel, cement, glass and chemicals. Then there are other forms of transport – aviation and shipping – that require high-density fuel to travel much further distances than existing battery technology is capable of supplying.
The future looks bright for renewable electricity and hydrogen, and Australia is ideally suited and positioned to take advantage of its unique position to become a world leader in its development, production and export. I’m hoping the Federal Government gets fully behind these renewable initiatives.

Editor Comment – No doubt hydrogen should also be the future fuel for long distance rail transport. Another interesting thing is that the Sun is made mostly of hydrogen and helium. Its heat and light come from nuclear fusion, a process that doesn’t require oxygen. Ordinary fire on earth is a chemical reaction, whereas fusion merges hydrogen nuclei into helium, and produces a large amount energy. Yes the sunlight that powers our solar panels comes from nuclear fusion by the sun.

2021-10-22 – Major Maritime Disasters: Pt 2 Montevideo Maru – by Martin van der Hoek

From Newsletter #596 of 22nd Oct 2021. This article by Martin appeared in this newsletter. Whilst not a presentation it was thought it was worthy enough to be included in a more permanent location.

The next sinking I’ve chosen to mention is that of the Montevideo Maru because it involved Australian POWs. I first heard about the fate of Lark Force and the Montevideo Maru while visiting Rabaul a few years ago. A bit of background: The following description comes from Wikipedia.

Lark Force Memorial Plaque at the AWM

“New Britain is the largest island in the Bismarck Archipelago, part of the Islands Region of PNG. The island is roughly the size of Taiwan. In common with most of the Bismarcks it was largely formed by volcanic processes and has active volcanoes including Tavurvur and Vulcan of the Rabaul caldera.  Rabaul is located in the top NE corner of the island.

During WW2 the Japanese attacked New Britain soon after the outbreak of hostilities in the Pacific Ocean. Strategic bases at Rabaul and Kavieng (New Ireland) were defended by a small Australian detachment, Lark Force.
During Jan 1942, the Japanese heavily bombed Rabaul. On 23 Jan, Japanese marines landed by the thousands, starting the Battle of Rabaul. 250 civilians were evacuated from places on New Britain in March 1942, however others were captured in Rabaul when it fell. The Japanese used Rabaul as a key base until 1944; it served as the key point for the failed invasion of Port Moresby (May to Nov 1942).”

Rabaul became the base of Admiral Yamamoto’s operations in the South Pacific during the war. Yamamoto, you may recall, was the architect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.

Map New Britain

The sinking of the Montevideo Maru relates to the fate of the survivors of Lark Force, the defenders of New Britain.
The plaque, shown above, at the Australian War Memorial, is a tribute to those men.

I found this account on the web:
“Early in the morning of 22 June 1942, members of the Australian 2/22nd Battalion, No.1 Independent Company, and civilian prisoners captured in New Britain were ordered to board the cargo vessel Montevideo Maru. For the march to the waterfront, Japanese guards divided the prisoners into groups of approximately 50 men. Only the officers and a small number of civilians were left in the Malaguna Road camp. The surviving officers were sent as POWs to Japan, and the rest of the POWs and civilians were boarded onto the ship.
With more than 1,000 prisoners crammed into the hold, the Montevideo Maru sailed unescorted for Hainan Island, keeping to the east of the Philippines in an effort to avoid Allied submarines.

Eight days into the voyage, on 1 July, the Montevideo Maru was spotted by the American submarine USS Sturgeon. The ship did not show any markings to indicate that there were prisoners aboard.

For approximately 4 hours the Sturgeon manoeuvred into a position to fire its 4 stern torpedoes. The Sturgeon’s log records an impact at 2.29 am, approximately 30 metres aft of the funnel. Survivors from the Montevideo Maru’s Japanese crew reported 2 torpedoes striking the vessel followed by an explosion in the oil tank in the aft hold.

The Montevideo Maru sank by the stern in as little as 11 minutes from the torpedo impact. Although the Japanese crew were ordered to abandon ship, it does not appear they made any attempt to assist the prisoners to do likewise. Locked down below, they were all drowned. The ship’s lifeboats were launched but all capsized and one suffered severe damage. Of the 88 Japanese guards and crew, only 17 survived the sinking.

Rabaul Picture with Volcanos

While the exact number and identity of the more than 1,000 Australian prisoners aboard the Montevideo Maru has never been confirmed, Japanese and Australian sources suggest an estimated 845 military personnel and up to 208 civilians lost their lives in the tragedy.”
This loss of life represents Australia’s greatest maritime disaster. Twice as many Australians died in 11 minutes than in the entire Vietnam War.
Rabaul will be remembered for the huge loss of life in and around Rabaul during WW2 but also for the major eruption of Tavurvur in 1994 which destroyed Rabaul. Most of the old city still lies under several metres of ash, and the capital has been moved to nearby Kokopo.
The photo below shows Tavurvur. It is one of 3 active volcanos, 2 of which were spewing smoke when we were there. You get the feeling that the township of Rabaul is just waiting for the next eruption. Attractions? The harbour is beautiful, there are plenty of war relics, Yamamoto’s destroyed HQ, a big war cemetery, several active volcanos and everywhere a thick layer of black volcanic ash. It’s as if the volcanos there are determined to completely cover the horrific war time memories of Rabaul.

2021-09-17 – Cruising – those were the days!! by Martin van der Hoek

From Newsletter #591 of 17th Sep 2021. This article by Martin appeared in this newsletter. Whilst not a presentation it was thought it was worthy enough to be included in a more permanent location.
Note: Martin uses the term ‘pax’ quite a bit. A Google search defines it as “Essentially, pax means people/persons/occupants

After more cruises than I can remember over the past 30 years, I am familiar with life on board, the pros and cons, and if it wasn’t for Covid, my wife and I would have probably done another couple of cruises over the past 18 months. We still have a deposit down on a Med cruise which has been postponed indefinitely. So the question is: Are our cruising days over?

We have had our share of near misses over the years. We cruised on the Diamond Princess around Japan 6 months before it became a Covid ship. We were on the Ruby Princess the cruise before Covid struck. I was stricken with salmonella poisoning on the Majestic Princess and my wife once had a throat infection in the Middle East on the Dawn Princess and she was confined to her cabin for 3 days. It’s still not a bad record for the number of days spent at sea. But I know what you’re thinking: You would be mad to go again.

Cruise picture showing sky water & pier

Having cruised with many different lines and used various agents, they have my email and residential address, and they haven’t stopped bombarding us with ‘special’ offers. Cruise companies seem to think that it’s all going to nice and safe by the end of this year. Am I tempted? Is it safe? No, it’s not. It’s obvious now that Covid-19 or other variations of it, will not be eradicated. We simply have to learn to live with it. However, that doesn’t mean that you deliberately put yourself in harm’s way. The shipping companies can say they have taken all possible precautions. Bull shit! You pack 2,000 plus people of unknown background and medical history into a confined area, away at sea, and you have one case of Covid and you are likely to end up locked in your cabin, awaiting evacuation. No thanks. What’s worse, there is no ICU on board and you might be several days from land. I’ve seen coffins being carried off the ship, and those passengers probably died of old age or a stroke or whatever. Cruise ships don’t cope well with medical emergencies. Another problem is people don’t alert the medical staff about a rising temperature, gut pain and/or sore throat until its more serious. Too late for quarantining to be of much help. And then there is the medical cost. Do you think Medicare is going to help cover covid related medical expenses or medical evacuation off-shore? I’m not even sure I can afford or even get travel/health insurance to cover Covid related sicknesses, particularly now having turned 75. We have both been double-jabbed, but what about the other passengers? Will the shipping lines insist on all pax having had 2 jabs of the vaccine, or will they also accept a negative test? That’s not good enough.

What about the precautions on board? Social distancing? Good luck with that! To process several thousand pax for embarkation, and maintain social distancing, the queue in Sydney would extend from the Int. Pax Terminal to the Opera house and beyond. How about on board? In the theatre, built to accommodate little more than half the pax at once, they would have to run not 2 shows but half a dozen. Well that won’t happen. You would need to apply for a scarce ticket and might miss out. The dining room? Well if you have been in a packed dining room,… Most ships already have first and second sittings to accommodate everyone. That would become first, second, third sittings, or worse. In the cafeteria, self-serve would be out, slowing things down even further.

The cruise lines could of course cut down the number of pax. How much would they reduce pax numbers to remain economic? Remember, they have had an 18 month shut-down and they want to recover lost earnings. And the cost of cruises? You would think they would be offering cheap voyages or at least cruises with a significant discount. Think again. I can’t see any special deals.

The only specials on offer, because we are so-called preferred guests (i.e. spent a lot on cruises already!), we are offered bookings before cabins are open to the general public. Big deal.

What about cruises in Australian waters? Would that be any safer? Nope, a lot of those cruises are booked by travellers flying in from overseas, who by the way, are offered much better deals.

Australians cruise more than any other nationality and while that situation continues, don’t expect any great deals. Anyway, per day charges on around Oz cruises are much higher than a cruise anywhere else except Antarctica. Sorry, don’t like the cold. Where else to go? Where’s safe? Nowhere. For us, where the ship cruises is now less relevant than the ship itself. There is frankly nowhere we haven’t been that we still want to see. I guess that’s fortunate in that I don’t feel we’re missing out on anything. Sure, there are certain ports that are absolutely worth visiting again and some of which lead to wonders of the world.

I’m not going to list them for fear of being called a bragger, but ask me privately and I am happy to discuss.

Then it comes to ships. We like Princess ships because they are better suited to people our age. Forget Royal Caribbean – I no longer indulge in wave riding, dodgem cars, ice skating, gambling casinos, although I do like roller coasters. Also in that category is the Carnival Spirit and the P&O ships – wrong crowd, but not if you are into R-rated comedy shows and lots of beer guzzling. Holland America Line sounded good – I thought I’d be able to communicate in Dutch, but sadly only the décor reminded me of ‘home’. OK, so what would I recommend? Top of the list: QM2, followed closely but for different reasons, the Celebrity ships, in particular the Solstice and Constellation. Sorry I have to add a couple of Princess ships, namely the Diamond, Sapphire and Ruby. They are actually wonderful to cruise on. The sister ships Princess Sun and the Princess Sea are great if you prefer a smaller ship.

I could go for days on why one ship is better than another, but I will stick to just one: the QM2. Firstly, the Queen Mary II is a mega ship, at about 165,000 tonnes, but that gives everyone so much more room. It has more space per pax than any other cruise ship. It’s actually not a cruise ship; it’s a liner, i.e. it is built to go fast! It holds the record for the fastest passage by a ‘cruise’ ship, between Southampton to NY, namely 7 days. After whipping back and forth across the north Atlantic during the northern summer, it then undertakes a more leisurely cruise around the world. You have the opportunity to sail one or more segments. We did a Singapore – HK return leg. At one stage the ship was flying along at 30 knots, I think just to show it could. Pretty awesome to feel the ship slicing thru a rough sea at that speed from a picture window down low in the ship. Also, the service is special and the food and shows first class. The decks are deserted and the pools mostly empty. That’s also a reflection of the age of the pax. You don’t go there to pick up young chicks! The décor and the atmosphere on board is nostalgic. There are also no annoying public announcements to wake you from your slumber. I’m not into tea drinking and cucumber sandwiches, but high tea on the QM2 is something else. Not to mention the ballroom dedicated to …. ballroom dancing no less! To see a bunch of old farts, sorry, paid dancers partnering equally old, well-to-do ladies around the dance floor, accompanied by a full orchestra. I was fixated. P&O eat your heart out. Also, the planetarium , with its laid-back comfy chairs is no better place to go for an afternoon snooze, or so it seemed from the number softly snoring away within 5 minutes of the lights being dimmed. Bad points? It’s still a typical English class conscious environment with some areas restricted to certain categories of pax, such as those on a world cruise – who can afford that? And for those in mini suites and better.

Second best? Celebrity Solstice (or sister ship Eclipse), for different reasons.

What to consider when choosing a cruise? It’s a matter of personal taste, but these are what we look for, not necessarily in any order:

  1. The ship and the layout. Does it have a promenade deck around the full perimeter; does it have a viewing area at the front of the ship, for photo shots. On the Majestic Princess, e.g., you are prevented from accessing the front of the ship.
  2. Ratio of pax to size of ship. If you like being packed in, you will like Royal Caribbean, particularly their mega size ships such as Ovation of the Seas. I don’t.
  3. Size of cabin and balcony. My wife insists on a balcony suite. They can vary in size and so too the balcony. Not all balcony suites have an unobstructed view. Check the deck plan before committing to any particular cabin.
  4. Amenities and entertainment, including day time activities and shows at night. We prefer ships with a large atrium area, with a coffee shop, to sit and relax during the day or after meals.
  5. Prefer a regular dining time and table. Don’t care for ‘Anytime dining’. Prefer a table for 6 or 8, and second sitting at 7:30 pm or thereabouts. Allows time for happy hour on our balcony with or without friends. Prefer evening dining to be semi-formal – don’t like seeing jeans and thongs. Prefer ships that enforce a dress code.
  6. Steer clear of ships that cater specifically for the young and young families. Got nothing against screaming kids and yahoos, but not when I’m cruising.
  7. Pool for adults and other designated adult areas. Also I prefer not to have to fight for a deck chair.
  8. Which ports? Choose your itinerary carefully. Some ports are of little interest visiting multiple time, such as e.g. Mumbai, Noumea and Tonga. Some ports are a must.
  9. Prefer gratuities be included in the fare, not added to the tab, although you can ask the purser to exclude the daily gratuity fees.
  10. Check out re-positioning cruises. They often offer the best deals.

So the question remains: Would I go cruising again? I’m a risk taker but when a medical risk is presented by others, over whom I have little or no control, I think I’ll wait it out and re-assess in 12-18 months time. How about you?

PS: If you book a cruise because it gives you the opportunity to see e.g. the pyramids in Egypt, Petra in Jordan, cherry blossoms in Japan or the Fjords in NZ, beware. Cruise ships will cancel ports for all sorts of reasons, incl. political instability, strong adverse winds, earthquakes or record rainfall dislodging logs and other debris into the water. We’ve had all of those and been compensated $50 per pax per port missed! Not what I call adequate compensation. If one particular port is that important to you, you are better off flying to your preferred destination. Cruise ships are a law unto themselves. That reminds me of a funny incident. On one particular cruise my wife and I would pass a couple of cabins each day with what looked like guards outside. Curiosity got the better of me. “What’s the go?” I asked the guard. No answer. Found out later that a young couple had had a serious domestic, I mean really serious. The captain locked them up in separate cabins and they stayed there until the next port, where they were offloaded. Also, cruise ships not only have security officers on board but also a gaol, and it gets used. For those 2 passengers, it could have been worse.

The top photo was our ship, the Celebrity ‘Constellation’ on the right, berthed in Tallin, Estonia. The bottom picture was the Tallin skyline. What a delightful city. I’m feeling that urge again!

Tallin Estonia Skyline

2021-07-30 – General Douglas MacArthur by Frank O’Rourke Pt2

From Newsletter #585 of 6th Aug 2021.

The second instalment of Frank’s talk on General Douglas MacArthur brought in a ‘local flavour’ involving interactions between MacArthur and the relatively unknown Australian Major-General George Wootten who was a member of the first RMC Duntroon class of 1911. He was a solicitor in West Wyalong between the wars and became closely associated with General MacArthur during WW2.
George Frederick Wootten (1893-1970) served during the First World War and was in the landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. He was a machine gun unit Lieutenant and was one of the last to leave Gallipoli. He then served on the Western Front, mainly as a Headquarters Staff Officer. He was awarded the DSO in WWI and was mentioned in dispatches five times. He was quickly promoted to Major, allegedly becoming the youngest Army Major in the British Empire.
During the Second World War Wootten was a Brigadier commanding the 18th Brigade at Tobruk. Subsequently, as a Major-General, he commanded the 9th Australian Infantry Division in the Pacific theatre. In the post-war years, 1945-1958, Wootten chaired the Repatriation Commission in Melbourne. His WWI service number is NX 7 – comprising a single digit – so his was one of the first registrations made in the Australian Army.
Frank moved on to the fascinating stories relayed to him by a guide, Ron Rees, at the General MacArthur Museum in Brisbane. Ron had personally met General MacArthur in Brisbane as a 6-year-old, then met him by chance in New York 19 years later. Amazingly, Macarthur could recall the first meeting. Frank told about that and other remarkable coincidences.
Once again, thanks very much Frank for the presentation, particularly highlighting so many astonishing coincidences.

The full text of Frank’s presentation can be obtained by clicking on this paragraph.

Frank O'Rourke

2021-07-23 – General Douglas MacArthur by Frank O’Rourke

From Newsletter #584 of 30th Jul 2021.

Frank gave a fascinating first episode of the life of General MacArthur. Everyone is looking forward to the finale next time.

Frank described General MacArthur’s early life, including the fact that his father (Arthur MacArthur) was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor during the American Civil War, at the age of only 18 years. (Douglas was also awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, making the MacArthurs the only father and son to be awarded this medal.) Arthur became a Colonel at 19 and was eventually promoted to Lt-General. In 1900 he was appointed Military Governor of the Philippines so Douglas had some connection with that country some 40 years before his activities there during World War 2.

Douglas graduated from West Point, not only first in his class but also having the best results for 25 years. During World War 1 he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross (twice) and seven Silver Stars (note: these are the three highest military combat awards for a member of the U.S. Armed Forces). He was wounded twice and gassed once.
In 1935, as a Major-General, Douglas was appointed Military Advisor to the Philippines Government and was simultaneously appointed a Philippines Field Marshall. In 1937 he retired from the US Military but remained a Philippines military advisor in a civilian capacity. In 1941, he was recalled to active duty as Commander of US Army Forces in the Far East due to the likelihood of a war with Japan.
In March 1942, he escaped from Corregidor to Mindanao by PT boat and then by B-17 to Australia. He had to land at Bachelor in the NT because Darwin was being bombed as they approached.
Adelaide was next, after a car trip to Alice Springs followed by train to Adelaide, then Melbourne for several months and, finally, MacArthur set up his headquarters in Brisbane in July 1942.
The full text of Frank’s presentation can be obtained by clicking on this paragraph.

Frank O'Rourke

2021-07-02 – Rise and Decline of the Roman Empire by Martin van der Hoek

From Newsletter #583 of 23rd Jul 2021.

Thanks Martin for once again sharing your vast knowledge of all things to do with the Roman Empire.

Martin attempted to compress more than a thousand years of history into an hour-long talk. He did this by outlining 4 key turning points and dates relevant to the rise and those marking the decline of the empire. Those 4 were 753 BC, the date Rome was founded; 117 AD when the empire reached its maximum size; 180 AD when it reached its maximum strength, and 476 AD when the Western Roman Empire died with a whimper. He then went on to detail key events and factors which led to the creation of that great empire and the reasons for its demise.

The key factors for its demise included

  1. An army that ignored Rome and the Senate and chose its own commanders and emperors
  2. In-fighting between rival commanders often produced bad emperors, the making of bad decisions and great loss of life within the army
  3. No territorial gains meant no spoils of war including gold, silver and slaves
  4. Lack of income and rising costs, led to inflation and financial problems
  5. Splitting the empire into 4 was a short-term solution but a long time disaster
  6. Lack of slaves meant certain vital work was not done
  7. Invasion of barbaric tribes, driven into the empire by the Huns and other tribes
  8. Conversion to Christianity reduced blood lust, with emperors choosing to pay off enemies rather than engage them in war
  9. Greater use of mercenaries
  10. Trading links and communication suffered as peace-keeping troops withdrew

That is a much shortened summary. You can read the full talk by clicking here.

Martin was asked in the context of the Roman Empire how Romania got its name. Emperor Trajan conquered the area of Dacia north of the Danube in 105 AD. He displaced half a million Dacians and replaced them with Roman colonists. Henceforth it was referred to as Romania (i.e. land of the Romans).

The second question was when did the Roman army vacate Britain? Roman rule ended in different parts of Britain at different times, and under different circumstances. In 383 AD Maximus withdrew troops from northern and western Britain, probably leaving local warlords in charge. Constantine III further stripped the Roman garrison from Britain to bolster Rhine defences around 407 AD. Finally in 410 AD Emperor Honorius replied to a request for assistance telling the Roman cities to see to their own defence. Honorius was fighting a large-scale war in Italy against the Visigoths under their leader Alaric, with Rome itself under siege. No forces could be spared to protect distant Britain. The mid-6th century historian Procopius recognised that Roman control of Britannia was entirely lost.

Martin Van der Hoek

2021-07-02 – Australian Bushrangers – Martin van der Hoek

From Newsletter #581 of 9th Jul 2021.

The first bushranger that Martin talked about was Ralph Entwistle, who was the leader of the White Ribbon Gang (named after the white ribbon he wore as a hatband).
Entwistle had been transported to Australia in 1827 and received 50 lashes in 1829 for skinny dipping in the Macquarie River. He was embittered by this experience and took up bushranging several months later, setting up a gang of about 50 by September 1830. He and his men began raiding farms, seizing firearms and liberating convicts in the process, some against their will. In October 1830 they killed a farm overseer, which led to them being hunted by a combination of police and military. After several gunfights that caused casualties on both sides, Entwistle and 9 of his colleagues surrendered. They were tried in Bathurst on 30 October 1830 and executed on 2 November (no time for appeals in those days). The White Ribbon Gang was the largest group of bushrangers but their exploits, known as the “Bathurst Rebellion”, lasted little more than 2 months.
Martin then spoke about Frank Gardiner and Ben Hall together as their lives were linked and each reflects the lawless 1850-1870 period, when bushranging in NSW was rife. It was a period when gold was being discovered all over the country, which provided rich pickings for bushrangers and other scoundrels.
Frank Gardiner came to Australia with his parents in 1834, aged 5. He ran away from home at age 10 and became involved with a gang of horse thieves operating around the Abercrombie Ranges. In the local press Gardiner was likened to a 17th century English highwayman, Claude Du Val. Gardiner was described as educated, articulate, handsome, roguish, daring, an excellent horseman, charming and quick-witted; known more than once to put a twinkle in a lady’s eye. The press was clearly using poetic licence, describing Gardiner as ‘educated’ given he never went to school and, until he was deported in 1874, spent more of his adult life in gaol than as a free man.

Ralph Entwistle White Ribbon Gang
Ben Hall

In 1860 Ben Hall took up a lease on a 6500 hectare property called Sandy Creek Station near Mt Wheogo (west of Grenfell), in partnership with his brother-in-law John McGuire. They ran about 650 head of cattle. Hall was well-known, was well respected in the neighbourhood and was an expert horseman. A chance meeting with Gardiner in 1862 led to Hall’s downfall. Gardiner held up a wagon while Hall was with him. Hall was arrested as an accomplice and held in custody for a month. Even though he was acquitted due to lack of evidence his life started a downward spiral. When he returned to his property he found all the cattle were gone and his wife had run off with a local farmer and taken their son with her. Gardiner’s gang of 7 plus Hall then decided to hold up the Forbes to Orange gold coach. They were hunted down after what was the biggest gold heist in Australia’s history. However, Gardiner escaped a trap and moved to Queensland to escape the law. Hall was arrested and held for 4 months before being released, once again due to lack of evidence.
In just 3 years, until April 1865, the Ben Hall gang carried out more than 600 robberies, 21 raids on various towns and homesteads, stole 23 racehorses and bailed up 10 mail coaches. Two Constables were killed and 1 wounded. Several homesteaders were shot and a shop was burnt down. Ben Hall was finally hunted down in May 1865 and shot by the police. His autopsy showed 31 bullets in his body.

Bushrangers territory in the NSW Central West

Most of his exploits were in the region within a couple of hundred kilometres from Canberra (Cootamundra, Bathurst, Carcoar, Eugowra, Boorowa, Canowindra, Wagga Wagga, Yass, Collector, Araluen plus a number of others). The following map gives an idea of the districts covered by the Hall gang over their three-year rampage.

The map has Braidwood in the bottom right corner, Gundagai and Cootamundra on the left, and Forbes and Molong along the top.
Thanks Martin for sharing your massive amount of research on these three bushrangers and their gangs. It is truly and impressive effort. Click to obtain a detailed copy of Martin’s work.

2021-06-25 – The Right to Repair – Steve Mawer

From Newsletter #580 of 2nd Jul 2021.

Steve described how it has become very difficult to repair appliances such as TVs, washing machines etc because it is almost impossible to obtain the spare parts needed. He told how he had been a TV repairman working from Bega and used to visit farms and remote communities in south-east NSW to repair TVs, mainly being able to repair them on the spot from the range of spares he had in his truck.   He has heard that some MPs are now preparing a bill that will require manufacturers to guarantee spare parts. Under this bill, importers would also be forced to maintain a range of spare parts.   Steve, everyone agrees with you that the current situation of simply tossing out appliances rather than repairing them cannot continue.

Steve talking about The Right to Repair 2021-06-25
Steve talking about The Right to Repair 2021-06-25

2021-06-25 – Mules in the Roman Army by Martin van der Hoek

From Newsletter #580 of 2nd Jul 2021.

Martin spoke about the role of mules in the armies of the Roman Empire. With one mule per 8 soldier unit, there was a minimum of 660 mules per legion. Given that the size of the army once reached 25 legions, in 30 BC, you can see how mules were bred and used on an industrial scale. He went on to explain how a man from a simple mule breeding farm outside Rome, Titus Flavius Vespasian, rose to the top of the political and military hierarchy in Rome; put down a rebellion of the Jews; became Emperor no. 9 in 69 AD and built the Colosseum from the proceeds of his victory over the Jews.

2021-06-25 – Italian POWs in Australia by Frank O’Rourke

From Newsletter #580 of 2nd Jul 2021.

Frank started his talk by describing the situation regarding Italian POWs held in Australia during WW2 – 18,420 Italian prisoners were in POW camps here out of about 400,000 captured in North Africa.
Frank’s talk focussed on one particular prisoner, Lt Edgardo Simoni, who was known as “La Volpe” (“The Fox”). He was imprisoned in the Murchison Camp No.13 near Shepparton. He attempted to escape by crawling under the barbed wire fence, was caught and served 12 days in detention as punishment. The lieutenant then swapped uniforms with an Italian Private so he could join a working party outside the camp. He “borrowed” a bike to get to Shepparton then caught the train to Melbourne where he spent 10 months selling cosmetics door to door. He then went to Mildura where he was recaptured while working on a farm and sentenced to 6 months gaol in Hay.
After 5 months Simone escaped by filing through the bars on his cell and headed to Balranald. He then walked the 300kms from there to Bendigo where he jumped a train to Melbourne. While walking through the Flagstaff Gardens Simoni was recognised by the policeman who had arrested him several months earlier and was recaptured.
In 1974 he visited Australia following his retirement a few years earlier and met up with the policeman who had captured him twice.

2021-06-18 ‘Under Full Sail’ – Presentation by Stuart Allan

From Newsletter #579 of 25th Jun 2021.
Thanks Stuart for some great insights into a fascinating age of shipping, with the rapid innovations in both the ships themselves and the routes they sailed.

In the mid 19th century, the clipper ship sparked a romance with the travelling public because of its heavily raked towering masts and clouds of sail (30 or more). These ships sacrificed cargo capacity for speed. They were christened with romantic names; Champion of the Seas, Romance of the Seas, Cutty Sark, Deadnought, Flying Cloud, Great Australia, Lighting, Great Republic, Neptunes Car, Thermopylae, Marco Polo. The interior decor of passenger-carrying vessels reached a new level of embellishment. Clippers reached and maintained speeds that were previously unheard of, setting records for sailing ship passages.

US Clipper Ship

The heyday of the Clippers was from about 1845 to 1875. They were the equivalent of jet airliners of their day – ground breaking, record breaking, and history making. Naval architects revolutionised ships by refining hull shapes and water lines. For example, the Clippers’ predecessors were “bluff bow barges”, which struggled to exceed 6 knots or 150 nautical miles in a day. On the other hand, Clippers could sometimes average almost 20 knots and up to 450 nautical miles in a day.

Cdr Mathew F Maury (US Navy), who was Superintendent of Naval Observations, studied the logs and charts of ships that had traversed the world’s oceans. He developed highly detailed data relating to wind and currents. Captains following his directions, while covering greater distance than a direct route, could reduce passage times by days and sometimes weeks. The “Great Circle” route reduced sailing time to the Antipodes by weeks. It involved crossing the Atlantic towards the South American coast rather than taking the shorter route along the African coast, and then going south into the “Roaring Forties” for the strong westerlies.

In 1851 gold-seekers from around the world began pouring into Australia, greatly expanding Australia’s population, boosting its economy, and leading to the emergence of a new national identity. Australia’s population increased by about 600,000 each decade from 1850 (405,356) to 1880 (2,231,531), an increase of about 450% in only 30 years.

Ships working on American routes redeployed to the England-Australia trade because of the demand. Shipping companies raced to design and build faster, safer, more comfortable clipper ships to get people and supplies to the Australian goldfields and return full of gold. Fast ships, such as the clippers, commanded higher fares and freight rates.

The 1860s were the zenith of the merchant sailing ship era. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 hastened the decline of sail for long distance voyages, cutting 3000 nautical miles from the England to Australia voyage.
By 1874 triple expansion steam engines in ships offered fuel savings of up to 40 percent with higher speeds and increased reliability. The launch of SS Aberdeen in 1881 with triple expansion engines of 2700hp meant a consistent speed of 12knots at sea. That, and the use of the Suez Canal, enabled cargo to be landed in Australia much faster than by ‘ordinary’ cargo boats.

4th Jun 2021 – Snake Tracking, Removals and Treating a Snake Bite

From Newsletter #577 of  11th Jun 2021.

Thanks to Gavin & Alex for a very interesting & informative talk.

An interesting morning with two snake catchers and trackers, Associate Professor Dr Gavin Smith of the ANU School of Sociology and Mr Alex Borg, a forensic scientist, both specialising in the capture and tracking of snakes in the Canberra area. Gavin is the owner/operator of ACT Snake Removals and Alex is the owner/operator of Canberra Snake Catcher and together they catch some 400 snakes a year. They provide insured and licensed snake catching services during the year and snake safety education for members of the public as well as conducting social, herpetological and ecological research on snake translocation activities, movement ecologies and genetic profiles of local Eastern brown snakes.

Both speakers talked about the fact that most people loathed and deeply misunderstood the role of snakes in our society and that snakes mean, symbolise and signify very different things depending on who and where you are. They are either revered, feared or loathed.

ACT Snake Removals Sign

Snake catching is a mostly intuitive practice. You learn the basics on courses and then learn and evolve on the job. There are multiple handling techniques, different equipment and every snake/situation is unique and different.

Snakes may only be killed if they threaten life and there are strict rules about handling snakes, especially in the ACT where a licence is required. After being caught, snakes must be relocated within 5Km of the capture location.
Gavin and Alex described how snakes will always try to warm their bodies, but if the climate becomes too cold, they will brumate – a lethargic state somewhat analogous to hibernation, but not the same. In winter in areas near a heat source they will become active again when the temperature starts to rise. Snakes can roam over an extended period and through a wide area. Gary, a five or six-year-old male eastern brown snake, was tracked by Gavin over an area of some 17 hectares. Snakes are tracked by a small electronic tracker being inserted into the snake’s body through a simple process of administering an anaesthetic by placing the snake in a plastic tube with a section removed giving access to the snake’s body for insertion or removal of the tracker.

Gavin Smith & Alex Borg collecting snakes

The presentation finished with a demonstration of how to treat a snake bite. Essentially this involves keeping the patient immobilised and applying a pressure bandage (preferably with tension squares printed on it) commencing at the extremity of the affected limb (ie the fingers or toes) and continuing to the groin or shoulder as the case may be. A person immobilised and with a correctly tensioned pressure bandage most likely will survive without recourse to anti-venene but a visit to hospital is essential. Appropriate pressure bandages may be obtained from any pharmacy.

28th May 2021 – Simpson and his Donkey

From Newsletter #576  of  4th Jun 2021. Thanks to Frank for the bulk of the text in this article and his telling of this story at our Shed Meeting of the 28th May 2021.

Frank O’Rourke spoke about Simpson and his Donkey – a stunning story of a Gallipoli icon. The story he told on how Simpson died is fascinating.

On 11 November 1991 Frank attended a thank you dinner marking Telecom’s sponsorship of outfitting a theatre at the War Memorial. The audience included the AWM Chairman (Dame Beryl Beaurepaire), AWM Director (Brendon Kelson), the RSL President (Sir William Keys), the Minister for Veteran Affairs (Hon Ben Humphreys MP) and Vietnam veteran (Bill Fogarty).

During the main course Bill Fogarty asked whether it would be OK to tell those present a recent story about Simpson and his Donkey. Sir William Keys quickly indicated that he would be very keen to hear the story as he had had a major interest in Simpson for many years.

It transpired that around 1990, a number of Gallipoli veterans visited Canberra and ended up at Peter Corlett’s wonderful bronze statue of Simpson and his Donkey in the AWM grounds.
Their guide, for something to say, then said – “no doubt you know who this statue represents?” One veteran quickly responded “ Yes! It’s that bloody Simpson – he would have got us all killed – but thankfully Fred over there in the other group shot him – otherwise many of us would not be here today.”

The volunteer Guide was completely gob-smacked but finally regained his composure to ask whether it would be possible to meet with Fred. This soon eventuated and Fred indicated that a number of Aussies had come to realise that the Turks must have been timing Simpson’s arrival at and departure from the various undercover dressing stations. Where he spent the most time seemed to indicate a higher number of wounded were present – the Turks would then rain down their shells on these supposedly more heavily populated dressing stations. Fred and others determined that Simpson needed to be dispensed with – Fred told the Guide that he raised his rifle and shot Simpson dead.

Everyone at the dinner was stunned as sweets were just being served. Sir William Keys then anxiously blurted out “No, no, no, that is not right – Simpson was killed by shrapnel.” Brendon Kelson then said “Sorry to have to tell you this Bill – we have fairly recent evidence that Simpson was shot in the back.” Obviously, no one saw merit it putting old Fred on a murder charge – even though he openly admitted his guilt.

30th Apr 2021 – Enemy action off the NSW coast – WWI and WWII

by Frank O’Rourke

From Newsletter # 571 of 30th Apr 2021.

Frank gave another insightful presentation once again to the Shed Members . He puts a tremendous effort into his many presentations to our Shed.

For his 2021 Anzac presentation, Frank talked about facts largely unknown to most Australians and he dedicated his talk to the 183 WW1 and 674 WW2 Australia Merchant Navy seamen killed during these wars.

Have you heard about the loss of SS Cumberland off Gabo Island in 1917?

Wreckage of SS Cumberland off Gabo Island 1917 – Struck a mine laid by the SMS Wolf

 It was a victim of mines laid by the German Commerce Raider SMS Wolf which for 444 days from November 1916 to February 1918, without pulling in to any port and without any outgoing wireless communication Captain Karl August Nerger guided in an unbroken voyage of more than 100,000 kilometres.

While evading the combined navies of Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, America and Japan, the Wolf captured or sank 14 vessels and damaged 16 others – totalling more than 138,000 tonnes.

In WW2 there were many bombings and ships sunk on or adjacent to the Australian mainland. Here is a map showing the location of sunk and damaged merchant ships of the Qld and NSW coasts. Who knew?

WW2 saw Japanese submarine patrols to SE Australia which would usually commence from their Pacific base at Truk. The first Japanese sub to ply Australia’s SE coastline (essentially a reconnaissance patrol) was I-25 in February and March 1942. During this patrol the sub’s floatplane pilot Nobuo Fujita flew over Sydney (17 February), Melbourne (26 February) and Hobart (1 March).

 It was a victim of mines laid by the German Commerce Raider SMS Wolf which for 444 days from November 1916 to February 1918, without pulling in to any port and without any outgoing wireless communication Captain Karl August Nerger guided in an unbroken voyage of more than 100,000 kilometres.

2021-04-30 War Secrets Revealed along NSW Coast

While evading the combined navies of Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, America and Japan, the Wolf captured or sank 14 vessels and damaged 16 others – totalling more than 138,000 tonnes.

In WW2 there were many bombings and ships sunk on or adjacent to the Australian mainland. Here is a map showing the location of sunk and damaged merchant ships of the Qld and NSW coasts. Who knew?

WW2 saw Japanese submarine patrols to SE Australia which would usually commence from their Pacific base at Truk. The first Japanese sub to ply Australia’s SE coastline (essentially a reconnaissance patrol) was I-25 in February and March 1942. During this patrol the sub’s floatplane pilot Nobuo Fujita flew over Sydney (17 February), Melbourne (26 February) and Hobart (1 March).

2021-04-30 Ships Attacked by Jap Sub NSW Coast 1942

On 27 April 1942, the submarines I-21 and I-29 left Truk. I-29 entered Australian waters in May. I-29’s floatplane overflew Sydney on 23 May 1942, finding a large number of major Allied warships in the Harbour.

On 18 May, I-22, I-24 and I-27 left Truk. Each of these large ‘mother’ submarines was carrying a midget submarine. After the intelligence gathered by I-21 and I-29 was assessed, the three submarines were ordered on 24 May to attack Sydney. These three submarines rendezvoused with I-21 and I-29 some 35 mi (30 nmi; 56 km) off Sydney on 29 May. In the early hours of both 29 and 30 May, I-21’s floatplane conducted a reconnaissance flight over Sydney Harbour that confirmed the concentration of Allied shipping sighted a week earlier by I-29’s floatplane was still present and was a worthwhile target for a midget submarine raid.

2021-04-30 Ships Attacked by Jap Sub NSW Coast 1943-4

We’ve all heard of the Japanese bombings in northern Australia but few of us had any knowledge of the damage done by Japanese and German war ships and submarines in WWII.

Frank finished his presentation with our members standing and reciting The Ode.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.”

9th Apr 2021 – History of the Royal Australian Air Force 31 March 1921 to 31 March 2021

(Compiled by Bob Greeney With acknowledgement to Wikipedia.)
From Newsletter # 568 of 9th Apr 2021.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) traces its history back to 1911 when the Imperial Conference held in London decided aviation should be developed within the Armed Forces of the British Empire. Australia implemented this decision, the only country to do so, by approving the establishment of the Central Flying School (CFS) in 1912. The location for the proposed school was initially to be at Duntroon, Australian Capital Territory, but in July 1913 Point Cook, Victoria, was announced as the preferred location. The first flights by CFS aircraft took place there in March 1914. RAAF Point Cook continues to operate, and is the home of the RAAF aircraft museum.
The Australian Flying Corps (AFC) earned a most creditable reputation in both Palestine and France during World War I as a part of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). The Australian Flying Corps remained part of the Australian Army until 1919, when it was disbanded along with the AIF. Although the Central Flying School continued to operate at Point Cook, military flying virtually ceased until 1920, when the Australian Air Corps was formed.

The Australian Air Force was formed on 31 March 1921. King George V approved the prefix “Royal” in June 1921 and it became effective on 31 August 1921. The RAAF then became the second Royal air arm to be formed in the British Commonwealth, following the British Royal Air Force (formed on 1st April 1918).

The service rapidly expanded during World War II and, at its height, was the fourth largest air force in the world, consisting of 53 squadrons based in the Pacific and 17 squadrons in Europe.
Shortly after the declaration of war in Europe, although Australia’s air force was small – consisting of just 246 aircraft – the Australian government offered to send six squadrons to Britain to fight, in addition to the 450 Australians who were already serving in the ranks of the Royal Air Force at the time. The RAAF already had one squadron in the United Kingdom, No. 10 Squadron RAAF, which had been dispatched earlier in the year to take ownership of nine Short Sunderland flying boats and return them to Australia. They subsequently took place in their first operational mission on 10 October 1939, when they carried out a sortie to Tunisia.
To rapidly expand, Australia joined the Empire Air Training Scheme, under which flight crews received basic training in Australia before travelling to Canada or Rhodesia for advanced training. These crews were then posted to operational units. A total of 17 RAAF bomber, fighter, reconnaissance and other squadrons served initially in Britain, and/or with the Desert Air Force, in North Africa and the Mediterranean.

With British manufacturing targeted by the Luftwaffe, the Australian government created the Department of Aircraft Production (DAP), which was later known as the Government Aircraft Factories, to supply Commonwealth air forces, and the RAAF was eventually provided with large numbers of locally-built versions of British designs like the Beaufort torpedo bomber.
In the European Theatre of World War II, RAAF personnel were especially notable in RAF Bomber Command: although they represented only two percent of all RAAF personnel during the war, they accounted for 23% of the total number killed in action. This statistic is further illustrated by the fact that No. 460 Squadron RAAF, mostly flying Avro Lancasters, had an official establishment of about 200 aircrew and yet had 1,018 combat deaths. The squadron was therefore effectively wiped out five times over.

The beginning of the Pacific War – and the rapid advance of Japanese forces – threatened the Australian mainland for the first time. The RAAF was unprepared for the emergency, and had negligible forces available for service in the Pacific. Its four squadrons based in Malaya – Nos. 1, 8, 21 and 453 – equipped with a mixture of Hudsons, Wirraways and Buffalos, were the first to go into combat, but they suffered heavily against Japanese during the Malayan Campaign and the subsequent fighting on Singapore, highlighting the fact that the Japanese held the upper hand in the air.

In response, some RAAF squadrons – such as No. 452 Squadron – were transferred from the northern hemisphere—although 15 remained there until the end of the war. Shortages of fighter and ground attack planes led to the acquisition of US-built P-40 Kittyhawks, and the rapid design and manufacture of the first Australian fighter, the CAC Boomerang. RAAF Kittyhawks, such as those operated by Nos. 75, 76 and 77 Squadrons, came to play a crucial role in the New Guinea and Solomon Islands campaigns, especially in the Battle of Milne Bay and in the Kokoda Track campaign.

By late 1945, the RAAF had received or ordered about 500 P-51 Mustangs, for fighter/ground attack purposes. The Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation initially assembled US-made Mustangs, but later manufactured most of those used. The RAAF’s main operational formation, the First Tactical Air Force, comprised more than 18,000 personnel and 20 squadrons; it had taken part in the Philippines and Borneo campaigns and was scheduled to participate in the invasion of the Japanese mainland, Operation Downfall. So too were the RAAF bomber squadrons in Europe, as part of the proposed Tiger Force. However, the war was brought to a sudden end by the US nuclear attacks on Japan.

As a result of the Empire Air Training Scheme, about 20,000 Australian personnel had served with other Commonwealth air forces in Europe during World War II. A total of 216,900 men and women served in the RAAF, of whom 9,780 lost their lives. At war’s end, a total of 53 RAAF squadrons were serving in the Pacific and a further 17 in Europe. With over 152,000 personnel operating nearly 6,000 aircraft it was the world’s fourth largest air force, after those of the USA, USSR and the UK.

In the Korean War, Mustangs from No. 77 Squadron, stationed in Japan with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force, were among the first United Nations aircraft to be deployed in ground support, combat air patrol, and escort missions.

During the Vietnam War, from 1966–1972, the RAAF contributed squadrons of Caribou Short Take Off and Landing (STOL) transport aircraft (No. 35 Squadron), UH-1 Iroquois helicopters (No. 9 Squadron) and English Electric Canberra bombers (No. 2 Squadron).

The Canberras flew a large number of bombing sorties, two were lost (in 1970 and 1971). Two crew members were killed, two squadron members died of disease, and three from accidents during the war. One of the Canberras lost (A84-228) was brought down by a surface-to-air missile from which the crew safely ejected and were rescued by helicopter. The other (A84-231) was lost near Da Nang, during a bombing run. Its exact location and fate of its crew were unknown for 28 years, when it was located and their remains were returned to Australia.
RAAF transport aircraft also supported anti-communist ground forces. The UH-1 helicopters were used in many roles including Dustoff (medical evacuation) and Bushranger Gunships for armed support.

Military airlifts were conducted for a number of purposes in the intervening decades, such as the peacekeeping operations in East Timor from 1999.

Australia’s combat aircraft were not used again in anger until the Iraq War in 2003, when F/A-18s from No. 75 Squadron operated in the escort and ground attack roles.

On 31st March 2021, the R.A.A.F. celebrated its 100th anniversary.

26th Feb 2021 – Bruce McAslan gave a demonstration on how to administer CPR & use an AED i.e. a defibrillator

(Bruce is Chief Training Officer for the Bermagui Surf Life Saving Club & the Senior Examiner for the Royal Life Saving Society ACT. Thanks to Bruce for a very professional and interesting demonstration.)
From Newsletter # 564 of 5th Mar 2021. 44 members attended

Bruce McAslan is a highly experienced first aid trainer having been in this field for over 30 years as a paramedic in Canada and more recently as the chief training officer at the Bermagui Surf Lifesaving Club. Bruce explained the difference between clinical and biological death. Clinical death means complete and irreversible stoppage of circulation, respiration and brain functions. This may be reversible – a person can be revived if it is not too late. Bruce pointed out that if the heart stops, the brain will continue to function unassisted for four to six minutes. After that CPR is required to prevent brain damage and to give the patient a chance of being revived once a defibrillator can be used. Biological death occurs when the victim’s brain is damaged and cells in the victim’s heart, brain and other organs die from a lack of oxygen.

Bruce McAslan with training dummy for CPR & Defib

Bruce then told us about DRSABCD which is an acronym that assists first responders to remember the steps in working out if CPR is required and then applying it if necessary:

  • D for Danger – Ensure the area is safe for both you and the patient.
  • R for Response – Check if the patient is conscious – knock hard on the collarbone and ask the patient a question.
  • S for Send for help – Call 000 and ask for an ambulance.
  • A for Airway – Make sure the patient’s airway is clear; use your fingers to remove any foreign material.
  • B for Breathing – check for breathing. If the patient is not breathing, commence CPR.
  • C for CPR – Continue CPR until help arrives.
  • D for Defibrillation – If available, apply the defibrillator and follow the voice prompts.
Bruce McAslan & Paul McCarthy with training dummy for CPR & Defib

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a lifesaving technique useful in many emergencies, including a heart attack or near drowning, in which someone’s breathing or heartbeat has stopped.

If the patient is not breathing, it is important to commence CPR without delay and to continue until a defibrillator can be used or the patient breathes normally or an ambulance arrives.

Defibrillators come in many different forms but they all do the same thing and they all have similar voice commands. They deliver a shock to stop ventricular fibrillation. The defibrillator will recommend a shock only if it identifies a particular heart arrythmia (ventricular fibrillation). Before pressing the button to deliver a shock, make sure no one is touching the patient. Continue with CPR when told to by the defibrillator.

The other advice Bruce passed on is that when someone is unconscious, hearing is the last sense to go and you need to be careful not to say anything inappropriate about the patient’s condition in their hearing.

5th Feb 2021 – Cheryl McCarthy (Bermagui Surf Life Saving Club) – Far south coast bushfires and the aftermath

Cheryl McCarthy is Secretary of the Bermagui Surf Club and the Director of Life Saving for the Far South Coast (FSC) Branch of Surf Life Saving NSW. The FSC Branch covers about 220kms of coastline and 184 beaches between Batemans Bay and the Victorian border. Seven surf clubs are responsible for patrolling at their home beaches during the summer and responding to emergencies all year round anywhere on the FSC.

Cheryl described how she opened the Bermagui Surf Clubhouse about 3.00am on New Year’s Eve 2019 because of the number of people who had turned up there after evacuating from Quaama and Cobargo and surrounding areas. She was the Duty Officer coordinating Bermagui’s surf lifesaving response to the emergency. More than 5,000 people evacuated to the surf club in Bermagui (the normal population of the town is about 1,600). Many of them had watched their homes burn and some had lost family and/or friends.

Cheryl McCarthy Collage 5th Feb 2021

The initial threat to Bermagui on New Year’s Eve was overcome, thanks to a southerly wind change late that morning. However, the town had no power, the mobile phone system worked intermittently for a while before it failed altogether, the water supply was contaminated by the fires and the sewerage system was badly damaged. On New Year’s Day the police ordered Bermagui to be evacuated apart from emergency services personnel.

Cheryl spent the next week in the Emergency Operations Centre in Bega. Bermagui was under severe threat from the fires on Saturday 4 January, Thursday 23 January and Saturday 1 February. Wind changes again saved the town at the last minute on the first two occasions. The smoke from the Ororral fire near Canberra was another saviour. It was so dense at the coast that it significantly reduced the strength of the winds forecast for Bermagui on 1 February.

Rain in February led to the fires being controlled and they were finally extinguished by more heavy rain in mid March. However, that was not the end of the pain. The longer-term impacts are still being felt, exacerbated by Covid-19. They are the economic impacts on local businesses and the personal losses. Rebuilding burned properties is a slow process and many will not be able to be rebuilt because of either lack of insurance or insufficient insurance to rebuild to new standards brought in to make houses more fire proof. Many people are still traumatised by the fires and need support.

Cheryl showed a short Surf Life Saving NSW video about the Far South Coast fires. A longer version (18 minutes) can be seen by clicking HERE. Thanks Cheryl for a fascinating insider’s view of the Far South Coast fires.

22nd Jan 2021 – Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu (1971–2017) is commonly known as Gurrumul and was an Indigenous Australian musician. A multi-instrumentalist, he played drums, keyboards, guitar (a right-hand-strung guitar played left-handed) and didgeridoo, but it was the clarity of his singing voice that was truly outstanding. He sang stories of his land both in Yolŋu languages such as Gaalpu, Gumatj or Djambarrpuynu, a dialect related to Gumatj, and in English. Although his solo career brought him wider acclaim, he was also formerly a member of Yothu Yindi and later of Saltwater Band. He was the most commercially successful Aboriginal Australian musician at the time of his death. It is estimated that Yunupingu has sold half a million records globally. (Wikipedia)

The DVD ‘Gurrumul’ is the story of one of Australia’s most celebrated voices. Blind from birth, Gurrumul found purpose and meaning through songs and music inspired by his community and country on Elcho Island in far North East Arnhem Land. His breakthrough album ‘Gurrumul’ is the portrait of an artist on the brink of global reverence, and the struggles he and those closest to him faced in balancing that which mattered most to him and in keeping the show on the road. Many thanks to Drew McDonald for providing a copy of Gurrumul for members to view.

Gurrumul CD Presented to Shed 2021-02-22

15th Jan 2021 – Peter Davis – RFS Air Attack Supervisor

(From Melba Shed Newsletters #558 of 22 Jan 2021 – 43 attended).

Peter Davis has been a member of the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) for over 40 years. He is also an accomplished pilot and serves in the RFS as an “Air Attack Supervisor”. His job is to guide the water bombing aircraft on their runs over fires and direct them when to drop their loads.

Peter described the hazardous nature of the job, flying in small planes or helicopters and having to be in close proximity to much larger and faster aircraft (including DC-10s and Boeing 737s). He showed many photos taken during the 2019-20 summer, during which he was fully occupied for several months on firefighting duties, both in the air and on the ground.

The Shed thanked Peter for a fascinating presentation about being on the front lines of aerial firefighting. John Edge knew Peter and invited him to the Shed to give us an overview of his experiences in fire fighting with the emphasis on his aerial work. Peter lives on a sheep farm north of Cooma along the Murrumbidgee River valley and flies his own aircraft. Thanks to Bev Lewis for the picture collage.


Peter Davis Air Attack Supervisor Presenting

Activities Held 2020 (2015 to 2019 Below)

2020 During the Corona Virus (COVID-19) Pandemic Periods

Our last formal Shed meeting before the Corona Virus lockdown was on 23rd March. After this we did not hold any formal meetings until we re-opened on 23rd October 2020. The Cyclists and Walkers recommenced activities on week starting 11th May.

The weekly Newsletter had a range of articles from members on the history of their families, or research projects they were undertaking, and even one persons studies on the Roman Empire.

The Newsletters are all available online as a pdf file here

Frank O’Rourke – Australian 1890s swimmer Walter Gormly – Frank’s latest sports history project

(From Melba Shed Newsletter #520 of 17 April 2020. No Meeting due to Corona Virus).

Frank has submitted a file showing the current status of his latest sports history project – a biography of Wagga-born-and-raised 1890s world-champion swimmer Walter Gormly. Frank was quite excited about the memorabilia material in the possession of Walter Gormly’s grandson – Les Gormly of Lower Tarcutta – which he allowed Frank to photograph, as you will see in the document.

When Frank visited Les for the first time recently, he was astounded when he pulled from a battered old case a real treasure trove: some of Walter’s medals, awarded certificates, swimming carnival programmes, a beautifully engraved tarnished gold pocket watch presented as a prize to Walter, and even some wonderful studio photographs of some of Walter’s main swimming competitors – such as brothers Tom and George Meadham, S. Davis, W. H. Brown, James Tooher, George Farmer, and also brothers Jack and Charlie Hellings.

Walter Gormly was a world-champion swimmer of the 1890s – one of Australia’s earliest pioneer competitive swimmers – an absolute swimming sensation throughout most of that decade. He was a side-stroker with a most peculiar, ungainly, and quite unique kicking action. Walter was taught to swim by ‘black gins’ in the Murrumbidgee River at Wagga in the 1870s – where Frank also learnt to swim.

Click on this sentence to view or download Frank’s document as well as some samples of the memorabilia.

20th Mar 2020 – Paul Fennell – Birds of Canberra Gardens

(From Melba Shed Newsletters #517 of 27 March 2020 – 29 attended).

Paul is a member of the Canberra Ornithologists Group (COG). We all recognise the more common birds in Canberra, such as cockatoos, magpies and galahs. Paul described some of the less well-known birds, showed pictures of them and provided an audio of their calls (courtesy of The Michael Morecombe and Stewart eGuide to the Birds of Australia, which included the photographs by Julian Robinson and audio by Marc Andrews).

Eastern (Pacific) Koel
Superb Fairywren
White-Eared Honeyeater

Eastern (Pacific) Koel
A member of the cuckoo family, migrating to Australia from New Guinea and Indonesia during the summer. Eats fruit, preferably figs. Hard to spot, makes a lot of noise, sometimes throughout the night. They are brood parasites, using larger honeyeaters such as the Red Wattlebird, or other species such as the Australian Magpie Lark

Pallid Cuckoo
Summer migrant. It prefers lightly timbered country with trees and shrubs and a sparse under-story where it can best hunt for prey. The Pallid cuckoo predates primarily on insects such as caterpillars, by hopping down from vantage points to seize their prey either on trees or in the grass. It prefers to eat hairy caterpillars. It is a brood parasite, predating mainly on honeyeaters, or other birds with cup-shaped nests.

Fan-tailed Cuckoo
Summer migrant, preferring temperate forests. It breeds from July to January, laying one mauve white with red and/or brown spotted egg in the nest of other birds with domed nests like fairywrens or thornbills. It eats a variety of insect and their larvae, fruits and vegetables, small reptiles, mammals and birds, especially bird chicks. It perches in an exposed position to locate its prey and then pounces, catching it in the air or on the ground.

Red Wattlebird
The sexes of the red wattlebird are similar in size and plumage, the length of the adult ranging from 33 to 37 cm. It is one of the largest nectar-feeding birds in the world, and second largest species of honeyeater native to Australia, eclipsed only by the yellow wattlebird. The nests of red wattlebirds are often parasitised by the Pallid Cuckoo, and less commonly by the Pacific Koel. Nest predators include the brown goshawk, black falcon , pied currawong, Australian raven, common brushtail possum ), domestic cat, and snakes.

Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo
The main diet of the Horsfield’s bronze cuckoo is insects and they are nomadic, travelling to different regions of Australia to breed and find food. They mainly parasitise Superb Blue and Splendid Fairy-wren nests, but also other LBBs such as thornbills and scrubwrens. The egg of a Horsfield’s bronze cuckoo is small for its size, evolving over time to mimic those of their host in what can be described as an evolutionary arms race between parasite and host. In Australia, is found in all regions, including some islands. It is also found from the Malay Peninsula to the lesser Sundas, Indonesia and, rarely, Aru Island and southern New Guinea.

Superb Fairywren
Breeding occurs from spring through to late summer; the nest is a round or domed structure made of loosely woven grasses and spider webs, with an entrance in one side generally close to the ground, under 1 m, and in thick vegetation. They are predominantly insectivorous. They eat a wide range of small creatures (mostly insects such as ants, grasshoppers, shield bugs, flies, weevils and various larvae) as well as small quantities of seeds, flowers, and fruit.

Shining Bronze-Cuckoo
It is the world’s smallest cuckoo, being only 15 to 17 centimetres in length, and parasitises chiefly dome-shaped nests of various Gerygone species, having a range that largely corresponds with the distribution of that genus. It may also parasitise other thornbills and is also the most southerly ranging brood parasitic bird species in the world, extending to 45°S in New Zealand.

White-throated Gerygone
The White-throated Gerygone feeds in trees on insects and other arthropods. They mate for life. It builds an oval or pear shaped nest of bark bound with spiders’ silk, which is hung in the outer foliage of trees. It is found in Australia and Papua New Guinea. Its natural habitats are temperate forests and subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.

Eastern (Crested) Shrike-tit
It feeds mainly on insects, spiders and, sometimes, particularly during the breeding season, young birds. Thistles are also taken. It has a strong chunky bill, used for distinctive bark-stripping behaviour, which gains it access to invertebrates.

Rufous Whistler
Eats mainly insects, especially their larvae, including grasshoppers, beetles, moths, butterflies and cicadas, but some may also occasionally eat seeds, fruit and leaves. It usually forages in trees and tall shrubs, and rarely on the ground. It remains in some areas throughout the year, but some populations in eastern Australia undertake seasonal migratory movements, moving south to their breeding grounds during spring and returning north in autumn.

Golden Whistler
The Australian golden whistler can be found in almost any wooded habitat, especially dense forests. It eats berries, insects, spiders, and other small arthropods. They usually feed alone and obtain food from the lower to middle tree level, or they may alternatively take part in mixed-species feeding flocks.

Noisy Friarbird
In southern parts of eastern Australia the species is migratory, moving north to overwinter and returning south in the spring. The calls are used to identify an individual’s feeding territory, and also announce the presence of food sources worth defending to other birds—not necessarily friarbirds alone. Their diet consists of nectar, insects and fruit. The consumption of commercially grown fruit, such as grapes and berries, can bring noisy friarbirds into direct conflict with humans who may regard them as pests under those circumstances. They are aggressively protective of their nests, and are known to swoop.

White-eared Honeyeater
The White-eared Honeyeater is a common resident of dry eucalypt forests. It mainly feeds in trees and shrubs, gleaning insects and other invertebrates from the bark and branches, as well as occasionally taking nectar from flowers in the canopy. It generally appears in this region in the cooler months, with very few, if any records in the GBS in summer.

Yellow-faced Honeyeater
A medium-small, greyish-brown bird that takes its name from distinctive yellow stripes on the sides of the head. One of the first birds heard in the morning, the yellow-faced honeyeater utters calls that are full and loud, and extremely varied. During the autumn (March to May) it migrates north along the highlands and coastal fringe of eastern Australia to southern Queensland, to return in the spring (August to October) of the same year. The birds commonly move in flocks of 10 to 100 birds, but occasionally in larger groups of 1,000 or more birds. The groups can include other species , mainly the white-naped honeyeater. They move in successive flocks at a rate of up to several thousand birds an hour.

Spotted Pardalote
A tiny bird that is most often high in a eucalypt canopy, so it is more often detected by its characteristic call. It forages on the foliage of trees for insects, especially psyllids, and sugary exudates from leaves and psyllids. It builds its nest in a long horizontal tunnel dug into the soil of creek banks, the embankments of railway cuttings, quarries or similar suitable sites, and sometimes they even excavate tunnels in rabbit burrows, or potted plants in gardens.

Striated Pardalote
Occupy a vast range of habitat types from tall mountain rainforest to arid scrubland, although they favour eucalyptus forest and woodlands. They are found in all parts of Australia except some of the Western Australian deserts. They feed on insects and insect larvae. They usually do so in the high foliage of eucalyptus trees, but may come closer to the ground where there are lower shrubs Feeding takes place in small groups.

Southern Boobook
The Southern Boobook is the smallest and most common owl in Australia. The Southern Boobook feeds on insects, small mammals and other small animal species. Feeding takes place mostly at night but some afternoon and morning activity may occur, especially on dull days. Most prey is detected by listening and watching from a suitable tall perch. Once detected, flying prey, such as moths and small bats, is seized in mid-air, while ground-dwelling prey is pounced upon.

Tawny Frogmouth
Tawny frogmouths are common in suburbs, having adapted to human presence. They have been reported nesting in parks and gardens with trees The bulk of its diet is made up of nocturnal insects, worms, slugs and snails. Small mammals, reptiles, frogs and birds are also eaten. Most food is obtained by pouncing to the ground from a tree or other elevated perch. Some prey items, such as moths, are caught in flight.

13th Mar 2020 – Dr David Headon – Canberra Day


(From Melba Shed Newsletters #516 of 20 March 2020 – 51 attended). David was introduced by Luke Wensing.

Dr David Headon is a cultural consultant and historian. He is a Foundation Fellow at the Australian Studies Institute (ANU), a Parliamentary Library Associate, an Associate of the National Museum of Australia and the Canberra Raiders historian.

Dave has had a lengthy association with Canberra and its history. He was involved in writing a five-book set on the history of Canberra for the centenary in 2013. He also wrote the history of the Canberra Raiders, “Absolutely Bleeding Green”, published (and sold out) in 2019.

The new capital’s Foundation Stone was laid on Capital Hill at an official ceremony on 12 March 1913 jointly by the Governor-General, Lord Denman, the Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher, and the Minister for Home Affairs, King O’Malley. Lady Denman (wife of the Governor General) officially announced the name “Canberra”. Estimates of the crowd ranged from 3,000 to 8,000 with around 7,000 being the most likely number.

Henry Parkes is often referred to as the “Father of Federation”. He was very determined in achieving his aims and, as a result, was considered rude by many. He had started agitating for the colonies to become a Federation in the late 1880s and was largely responsible for convening the Federation Conference in February 1890. The decade of the 1890s was a particularly difficult one, with a major recession during the first part of the decade and a severe drought in the second half.

Once federation had become accepted, the battle for the site of the capital city began. Initially, both Sydney and Melbourne put their hats in the ring as well as towns such as Port Augusta, Mt Gambier, Bendigo, Ballarat, Orange and even Cameron’s Corner. A compromise was written into the Constitution (Section 125) that the new capital would be in New South Wales, but at least 100 miles from Sydney. Sites considered were Bombala, southern Monaro, Orange, Yass, Albury, Tamworth, Armidale, Tumut and Dalgety. Dalgety was chosen by the federal parliament, which passed the Seat of Government Act 1904 confirming Dalgety as the site of the nation’s capital. It met the major conditions for the capital – a cold climate and being inland, with the latter providing safety from bombardment from the sea and also from diseases which were considered to spread more readily at sea level.

However, the New South Wales government refused to cede the required territory as they did not accept the site but the government agreed to cede land in the Yass-Canberra region, which was closer to Sydney.

In early March 1913 the weather was appalling – it poured rain and the wind blew tents over. However, Wednesday 12 March was a beautiful autumn day.

Three golden trowels were provided to lay the foundation stones. The three stones were laid with a platform on top. Lady Denman was handed a golden casket containing the name of the new capital. It was designed to be used afterwards as a cigarette case, which was a useful accessory for Lady Denman, who was a heavy smoker.

The origins of the name Canberra have been debated over the years, with no clear conclusion. The various theories refer to both aboriginal and British sources but there is no conclusive evidence of the actual origin. The pronunciation (“Canbra” or “CanbERRA”) was determined by the way in which Lady Denman read out the name on the slip in the golden casket. As we know, she opted for “Canbra”.

After the naming, Psalm 100 was sung and the official party went to a grand marquee for a celebratory lunch, which had a fantastic menu. Andrew Fisher, King O’Malley, Lord Denman and Billy Hughes all spoke. Sound is available for two of the speeches, thanks to re-creations in 1927 (Denman) and 1934 (O’Malley).

The first seven Prime Ministers were all members of the first Federal Parliament in 1901.Hughes and O’Malley lived the longest, both dying in 1953.

6th Mar 2020 – Waterwatch by Bruno Ferronato

(From Melba Shed Newsletters #515 of 13 March 2020 – 44 attended).

Bruno is the Coordinator of the Waterwatch Program for the Ginninderra Catchment Group. He trains volunteers to monitor water quality in the Belconnen, Gungahlin and Yass region.

Bruno started by describing the wetlands in the region for which he is responsible. Some are natural wetlands while others are artificial, created to improve the water quality in areas that have a lot of runoff from urban neighbourhoods.

Wetlands are important in several different ways. They provide a nursery for wildlife, they assist in controlling floods and they improve water quality by filtering the water and removing pollution. In addition, many wetlands attract people for recreation and tourism.

Stormwater ponds are commonly found in urban areas these days but it was not always the case (remember how stormwater drains were generally concrete floodways). It’s only been in the past few years that three ponds have been retrofitted in our immediate vicinity in Belconnen (in Florey, just below the dam in Evatt and near the corner of Copland Drive and Ginninderra Drive in Melba).

The following map shows some of the stormwater ponds in Gungahlin. The two large ones circled in red are Gungahlin Pond (middle left) and Yerrabi Pond (middle right). Many people would not be aware of the other seven ponds in close vicinity, which particularly assist in improving the quality of the water flowing into Ginninderra Creek and, eventually, the Murrumbidgee River.

Clean water is important for several reasons. First, potable water is scarcer than most people realise. Worldwide, only 3% of water is suitable for drinking and 2 out of that 3% is stored in glaciers. Given its importance to daily life, clean water has to provided for drinking. Treating water to potable levels can be costly. It is also important for the environment that clean water is available.

Storm Water Ponds in Gungahlin

The riparian zone is where aquatic systems merge with the land. Virtually all rainwater must pass through the riparian zone as it runs off. The vegetation in the riparian zone determines how quickly the rainwater passes and its quality.

The different types of riparian vegetation are responsible for absorbing nutrients from water flowing into a waterway, slowing the water flowing over the land surface into a waterway, stabilising the bank, providing a habitat for aquatic fauna and terrestrial faunas, and shading a waterway.

In-stream vegetation is also important for the water bugs and aquatic animals. This vegetation provides food, habitat and cover and also controls erosion. The following diagram provides a summary of the types of plants involved.

In addition to the water quality checks, the types and numbers of water bugs are assessed twice a year.

The last part of Bruno’s presentation was about the Eastern Long-necked Turtle (Chelodina longicollis). These turtles live in rivers, billabongs, lakes, farm ponds and urban ponds. They have lived to 70 years in captivity and a marked turtle in the wild had lived 31 years between first being marked and found again.

The turtles build nests close to water, on average about 25 metres away. However, they can be as close as 2 metres to the water on a steep bank and as far as 70 metres on a gently sloping bank. The nests are dug in the soil and covered with mud, which the turtle compacts using its body.

The turtles can migrate up to about five kilometres. Bruno said a large dam on the southern part of Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve was a common habitat for the turtles. However, when it dried up during the drought the turtles migrated to Yerrabi Pond. Once the dam refilled the turtles moved back.

One of the problems encountered by the turtles was that the fence around Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve has been designed specifically to prevent animals (and turtles) from entering the Reserve. Volunteers patrol the boundary fence on a daily basis and assist turtles (and some others) who have been trapped on the wrong side of the fence to cross to the other side.

28th Feb 2020 – Jeff Brown – How the pyramids were built

Jeff stepped up unexpectedly and providing an interesting session.

During his presentation last Friday Jeff promised to follow up at some future date with his theory of how the pyramids were built. His encore came a bit earlier than expected because the scheduled speaker was unavailable. There are hundreds of pyramids in Egypt but the best known (Cheops plus two smaller ones and the Sphinx) are on the outskirts of Cairo. Jeff first visited these pyramids in 1983. They are made of blocks each weighing about 20 tonnes. Cheops contains about 2.3 million blocks.
It is possible to go inside the pyramids. In Cheops, the entry tunnel is about 1½ metres high but it opens up into a chamber that is probably about 30 metres high.

A popular theory is that the pyramids were built by slaves hauling the blocks from a quarry. However, extensive searching, including using ground-penetrating radar, has not found any evidence of quarries anywhere nearby. In any case it is extremely doubtful that slaves could pull 20 tonne blocks into position, even if a ramp could be constructed that could support the weight of the blocks. In addition, the nearby rocks alongside the Nile are sandstone, which is different from the blocks in the pyramids.

Another theory is that the blocks were floated from further afield and then dragged from the riverbank to the pyramid. However, Jeff also dismissed this theory on similar grounds – the impossibility of dragging them into position.
Jeff had found a piece broken from the pyramid and a sample of the nearby rocks. It is clear they are different (see photo right, which shows the sandstone rock on the left and the piece from the pyramid on the right).

The piece from the pyramid appears to have something like straw inside it. Jeff’s theory is that the pyramids were made of cement, with the straw providing a basic form of reinforcing. Timber, which could be used as formwork, was available nearby at the time the pyramids were constructed.

All in all, Jeff has proposed an interesting theory that seems very plausible.

However, its understood that the real experts state that the pyramids were constructed of sandstone blocks.

Piece Sandstone and from Pyramid

21st Feb 2020 – Jeff Brown – Collecting Ancient Oil Lamps plus Stan and Pam Bennett – Tesla Electric Car

Jeff Brown – Collecting Ancient Oil Lamps
Jeff spent a fair bit of his AFP career as a United Nations Peacekeeper, in countries including Cyprus, Lebanon, Nepal and East Timor. One of the benefits of working in the Middle East was that Jeff had plenty of scope to indulge in his penchant for collecting unusual things. They include oil lamps, the subject of this presentation.
Another of Jeff’s collections is flip-top matchboxes, which includes a matchbox from President Bill Clinton’s aircraft. He has a large collection of porcelain antique tea cosy dolls and ice cream dolls. He also has hundreds of ornamental eggs and a piece of the pyramids of Egypt which Jeff claims will help solve the riddle of how the pyramids were built (an interesting topic for a future presentation!!!). He has a large cloisonné collection (cloisonné is an ancient technique for decorating metalwork objects and also refers to the finished objects). Jeff also has collections of marbles, model police cars, bookmarks, silver boxes, miniature tea pots, erasers, bells, teaspoons, thimbles, stamps, coins, bank notes, chop sticks, ivory, swizzle sticks, keys etc. Based on the interest in Jeff’s presentation on oil lamps there is plenty of scope for future presentations.
Oil lamps were used by the ancient people of the Middle East, Europe, and Northern Africa to light their homes at night. They were fuelled by fish oil, animal oil and fat but mainly by vegetable (olive) oil. A woven fibrous wick was placed in the hole at the tip of the lamp to burn the oil. This group of people includes the Greeks, Romans, Jews, Early Christians, Egyptians, Muslims, Syrians, North Africans, Celts, Gauls, Britons, and even some early Crusaders. They are thought of as Roman or early Islamic oil lamps.

The examples that Jeff showed were earthenware ceramic or clay lamps. Oil lamps were also made in various metals and in glass. The traditional Roman technique for making clay lamps was to press the raw clay into gypsum moulds. The two halves of the lamp were put together and the two holes were made. The green ware was trimmed by hand using small metal tools and fired in an oven. More expensive oil lamps had glazes applied in the firing step. The lamps typically burned for about 3 hours before being refilled.The lamps Jeff handed around for everyone to examine (a brave move on his part, given their value) ranged in age from about 500-600BC to 200AD.

Stan and Pam Bennett – Tesla Electric Car
Thanks to Stan and Pam for taking the time to show off their Tesla and to Harry Redfern for organising their presentation to the Shed.
Stan and Pam Bennett had several concerns about buying an electric car – the relatively short range, limited recharging points and getting the car serviced in Canberra. Nevertheless they ordered a new Tesla 3SR+ in May last year (ie 2019). It arrived in September 2019 and has proven to be every bit as good as they had hoped and with none of the problems they had feared. It looks very impressive, particularly given it survived the hail storm a month ago with only a broken window.
Tesla Car 3SR+ Feb 2020
The presentation included a video describing the ins and outs of electric cars in general and the Tesla in particular (click HERE to see the video).
Statistics for Tesla Model 3SR+
Range: 402 kms (Tesla quote range as 460 km)
Speed: 0-100km/h time of 5.6 seconds, it is capable of a top speed of 225km/h.
Storage: ‘frunk’ 117L, boot 425L, and also has a hidden storage section below the floor to store cables or luggage. Total 542L.
Aerodynamic: Aero wheels, body shape, flush handles
Autopilot: Advanced safety suite consisting of autonomous emergency braking (AEB) that works at city and highway pace and has pedestrian and cyclist detection. There’s also blindspot monitoring, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist.
Warranty: Four year/80,000km
Servicing: Every two years the cabin air filter and brake fluid should be seen to, while the High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter requires checking every three years, and the air conditioner needs service every six years, too. Wheel balance/alignment/tyre rotations as needed.
Cost: $67,900 for the white model – on road costs extra. Included in price: Two chargers – one travel charger and one wall mounted charger.
The reasons for purchase
• Sustainability and no toxic emissions
• Safety – highest ANCAP rating five star and scored 94% for Safety Assist tech (highest ever for that part of the test) and scored 96% for adult occupant protection. Six airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain)
• Pure driving pleasure, especially acceleration and cornering
• Great navigation system
• Doesn’t get outdated – receives updates as new features are brought out.

14th Feb 2020 – Alison Ware – Creative Arts Therapist and Therapeutic Harpist


(From Melba Shed Newsletters #512 of 14 Feb 2020 – 43 attended). Harry Redfern organised Alison’s and Chris’ presentation to the Shed.

For information about Alison Ware and her harps please visit Alison

Google photo album of Alison playing a harp and Chris talking about their construction

This was a special morning organised with harp music played by Alison Ware and an explanation on how to construct a harp by her husband Chris.
Alison is a Creative Arts Therapist, Registered counsellor and Certified therapeutic harpist. For the past 12 years she has been working to develop a integrated therapeutic harp practice promoting holistic person centred care. Her work has been recently featured in The Canberra Times. Alison has qualifications in Therapeutic Harp, clinical musicianship, nursing, counselling, spiritual care, mindfulness meditation and art therapy and is an independent practitioner working both privately and contracting into healthcare facilities.
Alison playing harp
Alison & Chris
Chris with Harps

Alison, a nurse by training, is a Creative Arts Therapist, Registered Counsellor, a Certified Therapeutic Harpist and an Ordained Minister. For the past 12 years she has been working at Canberra Hospital and Clare Holland House and has developed an integrated therapeutic harp practice promoting holistic person-centred care. Alison first learned to play the harp in her late 30s.

Alison says that complementary therapy with music is well established as being of considerable value in improving the comfort and wellbeing of the patient and can help with nausea, anxiety, sleep, relaxation, pain management, isolation, mood and hyperactivity. The benefits assist family and staff as well. Music helps regulate the patient’s mood and can shorten the patient’s time in hospital. Dementia patients, particularly, benefit and Alison chooses older music that they recognise and sing along to.

The harp is an ancient Instrument and has long been associated with the Healing Arts. Alison is fortunate to play a 31 string Minstrel Harp, a 33 string troubadour harp, a 26 string stony end harp and a small Reverie Harp. These Harps have a wide pitch range and a unique warm sound making them wonderful instruments for use in healthcare. Alison’s husband Chris’s hobby is working with wood and he has made many harps for her to use. He also assembles harps with cardboard bases which can be loaned to people or purchased.

Alison makes the point that everyone loves music and has a ‘special’ song which she can play at the bedside of patients, many of whom are in palliative care, and she can adjust the music to what she senses the patient wants. She has five harps at the hospital and can choose one that she thinks is best for the patient.
She can alter the tempo and dynamics to best suit the occasion. She memorises all her music and can therefore concentrate on the patient. Alison has learned that the patient’s rection to the music is most important to her tailoring of the music.

Music helps not only patients in hospital but also autistic patients and works well in conjunction with a massage therapist. The Harp possesses unique acoustic qualities which provide a soothing calming tone. It is an ancient instrument and has long been associated with the Healing Arts. Alison is fortunate to play a 31 string Minstrel Harp, a 33 string troubadour harp, a 26 string stony end harp and a small Reverie Harp. These Harps have a wide pitch range and a unique warm sound making them wonderful instruments for use in healthcare.

Alison’s husband Chris’s hobby is working with wood and he has made many harps for her to use. He also assembles harps with cardboard bases which can be loaned to people or purchased.

Chris retired from his role as General Manager at Yarralumla Nursery some 18 months ago and now supports Alison in her work.

Chris explained a harp is basically a triangle with strings of increasing length running between two sides. People who make harps (or any stringed instrument) are called luthiers. The shape of the harp is not important but the string length and tension is important. The harp must be strong, but light. Chris talked about all the parts of the harp and explained how important it was to ensure certain components were strong enough to avoid warping or worse still, splitting or breaking, because of the stress imposed by strings under considerable tension. This tension can be around 1,000lbs.

Chris said most harps are made from wood, carbon fibre or aluminium. Chis also enjoys woodwork and he showed us some of his efforts, including a nautilus shell shaped enclosure with two drawers.

7th Feb 2020 – London to Sydney Marathon 1968 – The story of the world’s greatest road race – Geoff Cameron


(From Melba Shed Newsletter #511 of 14 Feb 2020 – 52 attended)

Last Friday we welcomed Geoff Cameron and received an excellent presentation on the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon. Geoff, an avid motoring fan, had spend a lot of time researching the race and gave us a very detailed picture of its history.
Well known motoring author John Smailes summed it up like this: “The 1968 London – Sydney Marathon – conceived by brilliant minds befuddled by alcohol;  funded with jingoistic optimism by a newspaper proprietor from a country on the brink of industrial decay; organised with naïve innocence by a committee operating on the ragged edge of competence; and contested by adventurers, dreamers, chancers and some of the most professional drivers in the world – was and always will be the World’s Greatest Road Race”
We learned that the 16,694 Km, 14 day race over 31 stages travelled through 11 countries and 3 continents. Cars travelled from London to France, Italy, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India then finally travelling across Australia to Sydney.

Some 98 cars started with 250 competitors from some 19 nations. Only 56 cars finished – a number higher than the organisers expected. Click here to see the full results.
Participants faced many obstacles including officious border guards, police harassment, gangs of rock throwing children, uncontrolled crowds of spectators, treacherous driving conditions, collisions, breakdowns, wayward dogs and wandering livestock and once they reached Australia, kangaroos.Preparation was extensive covering cars, crews, route surveys, servicing and fuel, and especially so for the factory teams. Cars required strengthening and lightening and decisions had to be taken on whether to use a two person or three person crew. Crew compatibility was a key concern given the duration, lack of sleep time and pressures of the race. Crews often didn’t share survey information, sometimes even among their factory colleagues.Works teams were able to arrange servicing with local distributors but privateers often had to make their own arrangements on arrival. Works teams were also able to arrange crew accommodation in advance. Low quality fuel was problematic in Asia particularly for privateers.Geoff then gave us a stage by stage summary of the stage distance, the time allowed and the average speeds required. There were a number of ‘transport’ stages included.Factory teams came from British Leyland, Ford UK, Rootes Group, Ford Germany, Porsche, Volvo, Moskvitch, Ford Australia, Holden, Citroen, Simca, Mercedes Benz and DAF. The top drivers were Roger Clark (Ford Cortina Lotus), Paddy Hopkirk (Austin 1800), Harry Firth (Ford Falcon GT), Andrew Cowan (Hillman Hunter), Lucien Bianchi (Citroen), Rauno Aaltonen (Austin 1800), Sobieslaw Zasada (Porsche 911S), Simo Lampinen (Ford Taunus 20 MRS), David McKay (Holden Monaro GTS) and Evan Green (Austin 1800). Scotsman Andrew Cowan won in a tiny Hillman Hunter in the most controversial of circumstances. One by one the giants of the car racing world dropped out, defeated by the pace and the conditions.
Leader, Belgium superstar, Lucien Bianchi and co-driver Jean-Claude Ogier in their Citroen DS21 collided with a private motorist on the final run home to Sydney, on what was then known as the Nerriga Road [now Main Road 92]. The pair had just traversed the water crossing at Tianjara Falls and about four kilometres further east collided with a mini, driven by a member of the public on the gravel rally stage. At the time there were all sorts of crazy rumours about the mini’s occupants. Ogier, who was driving at the time as Bianchi dozed in the front seat, had insisted the crash was ‘deliberate’. His conspiracy theory extends to the red-hot rivalry between the factory teams entered by British Leyland, Citroen, Ford, BMC Australia, Porsche and Rootes Motors.

24th Jan 2020 – Australia Day Quiz

(From Melba Shed Newsletter #509 of 31 Jan 2020 – 56 attended)

Google Photos Album of the Day

Ken Kemp organised a great program with lots of events last Friday to celebrate Australia Day.

Evolution of Australian States. Firstly, Ray Osmotherly gave us a brief history of the formation and evolution of Australian States from 1788 to Federation in 1901 and included this map of the extensive Aboriginal settlement prior to 1788. For more than 50,000 years, tribal ancestors of the Australian Aborigines occupied this land and it is estimated that in 1788 the Aboriginal population of Australia was more than 750,000.

Ray’s presentation ended with a chart, detailing every change that occurred due to a new state being created or boundaries being changed.

Peter Hatfield added some further information on the intended incorporation of New Zealand as an Australian State. Interestingly, New Zealand was one of the colonies asked to join in the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia, and even by the time the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (Imp) was enacted, that law still provided for New Zealand to be one of the potential states of Australia.

Harry Redfern – Poem by Dorothea McKellar – ‘My Country’. ‘My Country’ is a poem about Australia, written by Dorothea Mackellar at the age of 19 while homesick in the United Kingdom. After travelling through Europe extensively with her father during her teenage years, she started writing the poem in London in 1904 and re-wrote it several times before her return to Sydney.

‘My Country’ uses imagery to describe the land after the breaking of a long drought. ‘Of ragged mountain ranges’ possibly refers to the Mount Royal Ranges, and the Barrington Tops. As he always does, Harry gave a most moving rendition of ‘My Country’.

Men’s Shed Members Sang! Our song books emerged once more with members rowdily singing:- Waltzing Matilda | Click Go The Shears |  The Pub With No Beer.  It wasn’t too bad either!

A joke by Peter Mitchell. We got him back for one more joke following his retirement. Good joke it was too

A quiz managed by Geoff Grimmett ably assisted by Peter Mitchell and Ron Thomson. How well do you know Australia’s history? Well, Geoff Grimmett tested us all out with a great and informative selection of some 80 questions that all Aussie could relate to. Correctly answered questions attracted a small sweet reward courtesy of Peter or Ron and by the end of the day Adrian Shee was declared the winner, closely followed by Bob Salmond. Well done gents and great to see you all dressed for the occasion.

Ken Kemp – Our Blazing Country and the Raging Bushfires. The day’s organiser, Ken, spoke about the devastating bushfires and the need to support those affected by the ongoing fire situation. Many thanks Ken for organising a tremendous Melba Shed program for Australia Day.


17th Jan 2020 – Frank O’Rourke  talked about Luftwaffe POWs in Australia during WWII

(From Melba Shed Newsletter #508 of 24 Jan 2020 – 56 attended)

Frank gave us yet again another engrossing presentation. Frank is well-known to his fellow Shed members for his interest in history. His previous presentations have included aspects of Australia’s sports history, the NSW War Service Settlement Schemes and, most recently, Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s visit to Australia before he was assassinated. Frank’s latest research involves captured Luftwaffe pilots and aircrew being held during WWII in Australian POW Camps.

As a historian, Frank has a particular interest in investigating and revealing the hidden or untold stories related to ‘War on the Homefront’ – incidents and events that happened here being every bit as interesting or fascinating as our more prominent overseas battles, which our legions of ‘King and Battle’-focussed historians have literally done to death.

In May 1941 the Australian Government agreed to accept POWs from the Middle East and, in May 1943, approved plans to accept further (essentially Italian) POWs held in camps in British India which could help ease our labour shortage on farms at that time. Over the course of WWII a total of 25,720 POWs were detained in Australia, including 18,432 Italians, 5,637 Japanese and 1,651 Germans. Many Australian residents and overseas civilians were also detained as Internees. In total 16,798 aliens were interned, of whom 8,921 were Australian residents. The British and Australian Governments shared the costs of camp construction and their running costs

The majority of the 1,651 German POWs sent here were kept at Murchison in POW Camp No. 13 situated in the Goulburn Valley, south-west of Shepparton, Victoria. This camp also included the German officer’s sub-camp utilising a requisitioned former squatter’s mansion at nearby Dhurringile. The remainder were held at the Loveday Camp at Barmera in SA and at Marrinup in WA. The initial German POW arrivals were predominantly soldiers and airmen from the Mediterranean and North Africa but the largest single homogenous group to subsequently arrive were the 315 survivors of the 395 crew of the German Raider Kormoran which had sunk HMAS Sydney II off Carnarvon WA in November 1941. The crippled Kormoran also sank and the survivors included the Captain – Theodore Detmers – who was the then highest-ranking officer present (an Army Colonel equivalent) and so became the German Camp leader at Murchison.

In 2010 Frank wrote a history of the Mundawadra property west of the towns of Henty and Yerong Creek. He discovered that three Italian POWs were allocated to the property as farm workers during WWII. Written in
pencil on one of the internal walls of a farm workers’ cottage in which they had lived was the name and address in Rome of one of these POWs – “POW Agostino POZZI, via Principe No. 2 Roma”. From this and other
information Frank was able to identify all three POWs. With the assistance of the Military Attaché at the Italian Embassy he tracked down the descendants of two of the POWs and sent them the blown-up photos that Frank had tracked down in the National Archives. He received very grateful letters of thanks in return.

F.O'Rourke POWs WWII Aust Collage Bev Lewis

Frank showed photos taken before WWII at Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney in the late 1930s of a ceremony honouring German WWI internees in Australia who had died during captivity. Their names are listed on the so-called ‘German Monument’ at  Rookwood and the photos of the ceremony showed the participants with Nazi salutes and the Swastika flag openly displayed.

Another interesting photograph was taken on 20 April 1939 at the Adelaide German Club, to celebrate Hitler’s 50th birthday, just five months before the start of the Second World War.

Frank showed a map of the locations of the 19 numbered main camps established for POWs and Internees. The seven POW and Internment camps that were set up near Murchison/Tatura/Rushworth in the Goulburn Valley in Victoria comprised the largest group of camps in Australia. They held well in excess of 8,000 people to which a contingent of 2,700 guards and other personnel was attached.

The largest single POW camp built in Australia was Camp 13 near Murchison (which officially included the German Officers’ camp at Dhurringile, some miles away). It opened in 1941 and held some 2,000 Italian, 1,300 German and 185 Japanese prisoners during the war. Over 1,000 personnel were involved in guarding and administration duties, including local men from the Citizen Military Force reservists.

The German officers soon insisted that they be physically separated from their men, through an approach to the neutral Swiss Consul who was the designated Protective Power nominated by Germany. Consequently, a former 65 room squatter’s mansion at Dhurringile, about 10 miles from the Murchison camp, was requisitioned by the Australian military and converted to a POW camp for German officers and their batmen. Initially it held 60 officers from the Luftwaffe and the German Army, many from Rommel’s Afrika Korps who had been captured in North Africa.

The invasion of Crete began on 20 May 1941 with hundreds of Junkers transports towing assault gliders filled with paratroopers. The Allied defence positions were repeatedly strafed by German fighters, which would appear suddenly from behind surrounding hills, or along the beach at very low level. Intermittently, the defenders scored successes against the low-flying strafers, as when six Bf-109s swept across the beach towards Maleme airfield. Every gun and rifle put up such a terrific barrage that three Bf-109s were forced to crash land. All three pilots were captured and sent to Murchison.

After the sinking of HMAS Sydney II and the German raider HSK Kormoran off Carnarvon WA in November 1941, a considerable number of Kormoran survivors were rescued and became POWs. After their interrogation in WA the prisoners were all sent to Murchison. The Kormoran’s Captain, Theodor Detmers, was the senior officer in the camp and so took over the role of Camp Leader.

Frank described the fate of several Liuftwaffe crews who found themselves at Murchison after being shot down, mainly in North Africa. One of these crews had been responsible for sinking the SS Thistlegorm, which was carrying a range of war material and munitions to Egypt. Nowadays, the Thistlegorm wreck, which is resting on an even keel in 90 feet of water, is regarded as perhaps the finest scuba wreck dive in the world, with over 100 divers descending on the wreck at any one time. It has even been reported that the revenue to Egypt from Thistlegorm diving related activity allegedly surpasses tourist revenues relating to visiting the pyramids of Giza. Frank showed photos of some of the cargo of trucks and motorcycles in one of the holds, as well as the sunken ship itself.

Several escape attempts were made over the years. In 1942, after a tunnel was discovered the prisoners broke their ranks during the subsequent roll call and rushed the guards. Eight prisoners were shot, one of whom died. In late 1944 a tunnel at Dhurringile was dug over a period of 6 months. The tunnel shaft entry went down to a depth of 14 feet in the sandy soil then out under the compound yard, under the perimeter fence and a good distance beyond the wire, a total length of 120 yards. On 10 January 1945, 20 POWs broke from the tunnel in two groups over a period of several hours. Most of the escapees were quickly rounded up, only being at liberty for a few days or a week or so at most.

Like most POW camps around the world, participating in sports was encouraged. Frank showed photos of a range of sporting activities at a German POW Sports Carnival held at Murchison on 4 March 1945.

After WWII, the Australian War Graves Commission wrote to relatives of Germans who died in camps around Australia during both World Wars seeking permission to disinter their remains and bury them in one central location at Tatura, in what would be Australia’s official German War Cemetery, located on unused land excised from the Tatura General Cemetery. All but 17 of those written to accepted the offer. Human remains were then exhumed from cemeteries throughout Australia and reinterred at this new cemetery, the first foreign war cemetery to be established in Australia, and the only one dedicated exclusively to German civilians and Prisoners of War. It contains the graves of 250 persons – 191 World War I and 48 World War II internees, as well as 11 World War II POWs. Each grave is marked by a bronze plaque with the deceased’s name and date of death – an Iron Cross on a plaque signifying the grave of a POW (i.e. a uniformed enemy combatant) and a Latin Cross denoting a civilian internee.
About ten years ago Frank accessed the files held in the National Archives of these 11 WWII POWs. He was surprised at just how many of the 11 had officially suicided – but was this really the truth in all cases? Newspaper reports indicate that Anti-Nazis in Murchison prison camp were scared of some other Germans in the camp and asked to be locked up in the camp gaol. Two of these anti-Nazis were found strung up to the ceiling in one of the huts in the camp one night. It was obvious that they had been murdered by their fellow-Germans, but they were marked down on official records as suicides.

Italian POWs who died in captivity at Murchison were also buried in the local cemetery, but floods in 1956 did major damage to the graves. The Italian families in the municipality were persuaded to pay for the building of a mausoleum, called the Ossario, which was completed in 1961. Ultimately, all the Italian POWs and detainees who had died in Australian camps were interred in the mausoleum. This sanctuary is the last resting place for 130 Italian POWs and Internees who died while in Australia. Remains were disinterred from graves all over Australia to be housed here.

Very little remains of the infrastructure of the former Goulburn Valley POW and Internment Camps other than building foundations, concrete slabs, etc. However, the surviving 300 sailors and officers of the Kormoran built a monument (which still stands) to the 80 crew who perished during and after the engagement with HMAS Sydney II.

The last of the German and Italian POWs in Australia were repatriated by the British converted liner come troop transport, the RMS Orontes, sailing from Melbourne on 22 January 1947.

Activities Held 2019 (2015 to 2018 Below)


29th Nov 2019 – The F111 in the RAAF – Dave Rogers

(From Melba Shed Newsletter #503 of 6 Dec 2019)

Dave Rogers won a flying scholarship and attained his Private Pilot Licence at the age of 16 before joining the RAAF in 1962. He served as an instructor on Vampires in Perth until being selected in 1968 for the first F-111 training in the USA. After flying various types of aircraft, including F-111s and Hornets, Dave was appointed Deputy Chief of the Air Staff in 1994, where he served until 1997 when he was appointed as Assistant Chief of the Defence Force for Development until he retired in July 1998.

Despite training on the F-111 in 1968, Dave did not get to fly them regularly until they were delivered in 1973. The delay was caused by concerns about cracks in the wing carry-through box, which holds the wing onto the fuselage.

The F-111 was a twin-engine, swing-wing aircraft with two crew. The swing-wing enabled it to take off and land at low speeds with the wings forward then fly at more than mach2 with its wings tucked back. It was the first aircraft with variable sweeping wings, designed to reduce drag. The F-111 was a large aircraft, weighing 124,000 pounds (about 56 tonnes), which is roughly the same weight as a DC9. It used 5,000 gallons of fuel per hour per engine in normal conditions. It was fitted with terrain following radar (TFR), which enabled it to fly at high speeds at very low levels. Dave said that doing night manoeuvres at 400 feet and 500 knots with TFR engaged then following the same route in daylight was more than just a bit exciting (nerve-wracking?). The F-111 is the only aircraft that has been fitted with TFR.

The F-111’s maximum speed was about mach2.5 but it could not sustain more than about mach2.2 because the friction at the maximum speed would melt the windscreen.

It was affectionately known in the RAAF as “The Pig” due to its long snout and its ability to fly so close to the ground that it was virtually grovelling amongst the weeds.

In October 1978, Dave and his crewman had to eject when their F-111 caught fire during exercises near Auckland. Rather than ejection seats, the F-111 had an ejection capsule. Broadly speaking, the cockpit was blasted off the aircraft with both seats still in place and both crew inside. Dave fractured three vertebrae when the capsule hit the water.

One of the F-111’s most exciting features from a spectator’s point of view was the “dump and burn”. The fuel dump valve on the F-111 was in between the two engines. If fuel was dumped and the afterburners switched on then the fuel would burn in a spectacular fireball. The dump and burn was a feature of F-111 flying displays at air shows (click here for a video of a dump and burn in Brisbane). The RAAF initially took delivery of 24 F-111C models, followed by four F-111A models in 1982. In 1992, 15 F-111G models were purchased but only eight flew, with the other seven used for spares.

The loss rate of the F-111 was lower than expected. In total, eight F-111s were lost in accidents rather than the 15 expected during the 37 years they were in service with the RAAF.

Dave finished by saying the F-111 was living proof that pigs can actually fly.

Footnote: An F-111 is on display at the RAAF Base Wagga. The plaque next to the aircraft provides the following details of the F-111 program. The text reads (in part):

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) operated the F-111C aircraft from 1973 to 2010. The aircraft on display, A8-142, was test flown on 18 December 1968 but was not accepted by the RAAF until 22 August 1973 due to developmental difficulties with the whole F-111 program. The F-111 was a radical design, combining the variable-geometry wing with afterburning turbofan engines and terrain following radar. During its service life the RAAF’s F-111C fleet was upgraded from analogue to digital avionics and fitted with the Pave Tack targeting pod which allowed precision strike with laser guided weapons. The F-111C’s advanced technologies demanded the very best training for the RAAF’s technical workforce, much of which was conducted at RAAF Base Wagga.

The F-111 in the RAAF – Wikipedia – an extensive history

8th Nov 2019 – Martin van der Hoek – The History of the Roman Empire

(From Melba Shed Newsletter #500 of 15 Nov 2019)

Martin agreed to step in with a talk on aspects of the Roman Empire when the scheduled guest speaker was unable to make it on the day but would attend at a future date.

Given the short notice, Martin decided to speak in general terms rather than focus on any particular instance or period of Roman history. He gave a broad overview of the Roman Empire from its founding by  the twins Romulus and Remus in 753 BC to the forced abdication of the last Emperor of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD by the Germanic general Odoacer. By then the Empire was but a shell of its former self, having been split from the Eastern half from as early as 283 AD by Emperor Diocletian. Also, its capital had been moved to Ravenna after having been plundered on several occasions. The Eastern Roman Empire, with its capital Constantinople, would survive for another 1000 years.

Martin’s previous talk was about the 3 Punic Wars between Rome in Carthage, and specifically the 17 year-long battle Hannibal fought against Rome in the second Punic War. Hannibal died in 183 BC and Carthage was beaten and completely destroyed in the third Punic War in 146 BC. Oddly enough, Carthage was rebuilt by the romans less than 100 years later and as a roman city grew to become one of the four major cities on the Mediterranean coast.

In the subsequent period, between 130 and 30 BC Rome became the undisputed leader of the known world, it would revamp its army from a volunteer, peasant army that only fought in Summer, to a permanent, professional, standing army which was composed of cohorts of 480 self-sufficient units in a 10 cohort army legion. In this period we have the rise of some remarkable alpha males seeking one man rule, including Marius, the general who reorganised the army, to Sulla the first self-appointed dictator; to Pompey the Great; Crassus who put down the slave rebellion; Julius Caesar who conquered Gaul and then crossed the Rubicon to spark the second civil war; Mark Antony who with Octavian avenged the death of Caesar and then split the empire between them; to Markus Agrippa who saved Octavian from defeat on several occasions and was on hand to see Octavian be appointed the first Emperor. This one hundred year period, was in Martin’s view, the most momentous period in the history of the Roman Empire and will be the subject of a more detailed talk in the future.

Martin then went on to discuss some of the 57 emperors between Augustus and Constantine, a period that covered 350 years. Time and space does not allow us to go into further detail but as we move along the time line of Roman history in future talks, more will be revealed.

18th Oct 2019 – Frank O’Rourke talked about Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria

(From Melba Shed Newsletter #497 of 25 October 2019)

Another very informative and well researched presentation by Shed member Frank O’Rourke.  Many thanks, Frank, for your presentation and for the text accompanying it.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria is best known as the man whose assassination is believed to have led to the outbreak of World War I.
Friday’s talk by Frank commenced with a short recap of his earlier talk about the Archduke. He explained that Franz’s suffered from tuberculosis and visited Australia in 1893 as part of a ten month recuperation trip around the world.

Franz was an avid shooter and is reputed to have shot over 300,000 animals and birds in his lifetime. Whilst in Australia he and his entourage went on many shooting excursions and shot animals and birdlife including kangaroo, ducks, platypuses, koalas and possums. Before he left Sydney, he hosted a farewell ball for Sydney high society on his warship, SMS Kaiserin Elisabeth.

Frank then moved on to the wedding and later assassination of the Archduke. In 1894 Franz first met his future wife, Countess Sophie Chotek. She was a strikingly beautiful lady-in waiting. Franz as Archduke and as successor to the Austro-Hungarian throne wasn’t supposed to marry beneath his aristocratic position. This caused a difficult situation as Sophie was ‘only’ a Countess. Emperor Franz Josef was against the marriage and it was not until 1900 that the Emperor finally relented. They married on 1 July 1900 but the Emperor and other members of the Hapsburg court refused to attend and Franz had to agree that his future children were to be named after their mother, were to have no inheritance rights and could not use the Hapsburg name. Sophie was never accepted as part of the ‘establishment’ and was considered an outcast.

In July 1914, as Inspector-General of the Austro-Hungarian Army, Franz accompanied by Sophie, visited Bosnia at the invitation of the governor to inspect army manoeuvres. It was four years since a prominent Hapsburg had made a goodwill visit to Bosnia. Bosnia and Herzegovina had been formally annexed in 1908 but this created tensions with independent Serbia and with Russia. Serbia wanted control of Bosnia to create a greater Serbia – ie., a Yugoslavia centred on Belgrade.

Franz observed the military manoeuvres and then proceeded by train to Mostar and Sophie re-joined him at the spa resort town of Ilidza, near Sarajevo as she had travelled independently to Bosnia by train through Hungary whilst Franz had travelled by warship from Trieste to Bosnia.

They then visited the Philipovic army camp outside Sarajevo and joined a 6-car motorcade to proceed to Sarajevo City Hall for a Mayoral Reception. It was then intended that the motorcade would proceed on to enable Franz to open a new Museum.

Unbeknown to those involved, six armed assassins (three being Bosnian Serbs from the ‘Young Bosnia’ organisation), had taken up positions along the route. The three Bosnian Serbs had been trained by a clandestine group within the Serbian military known as the ‘Black Hand’. The aim of both organisations was to free from Austrian rule, the Serbs living in each of the Dual Monarchy’s Balkan provinces, and to ultimately unite them under a greater Serbia. Franz was seen as a threat to this objective.

As Franz Ferdinand’s car passed, the second assassin, Nedeljko Čabrinović, threw a hand grenade directly at the Archduke but it bounced from Franz’ car and exploded under the following car injuring two occupants. Franz and Sophie continued on to the Mayoral Reception and then visited the two injured people in hospital before proceeding to the Museum. However the Museum visit had been cancelled but the drivers had not been informed and thus proceeded along the originally planned route turning off Appel Quay into Franz Joseph Street. When the error was realized, the drivers had to stop and reverse back towards Appel Quay. At this same time, one of the assassins, Gavrilo Princip, was just across the street as the cars were endeavouring to back-up, and seized his opportunity, walked across, pulled out his pistol and shot the royal couple. Both died within the hour.

After describing the attitude of the Hapsburgs towards her, Frank explained that even in death Sophie was not seen as equal to her husband and the Emperor did not attend the funeral service.

Frank then moved on to the history of the Kaiserin Elisabeth a 23 year old outdated cruiser which, at the outbreak of war, took part in the defence of the German naval base at Tsingtao, a German port concession on the Chinese coast. After Japan declared war on Austria on 23 August 1914, Tsingtao was besieged by 20,000 Japanese troops. Early in the siege Kaiserin Elisabeth and the gunboat Jaguar made a sortie against the Japanese.

On 6 September the first air-sea battle in history took place when the Japanese seaplane carrier Wakamiya, unsuccessfully attacked Kaiserin Elisabeth with bombs.

Towards the end of the siege, it was decided that the naval vessels trapped in the harbour should be scuttled before the garrison ultimately surrendered to the Japanese on 7 November 1914. In the case of the Kaiserin Elisabeth, the captain steamed with his cruiser to the deepest point of the bay and opened the Kingston valves, fired the fuses leading into the magazines, and then left the sinking ship. After the explosions, she sunk with flying colours on 3rd November, at 02.55 AM. So ended the ship on which Franz had hosted a farewell ball in Sydney some 21 years earlier.

11th Oct 2019 – Martin van der Hoek on Hannibal Barca of Carthage

An abbreviated version. (From Melba Shed Newsletter #496 of 18 October 2019)

Well done Martin; a great presentation indeed, and many thanks for providing the all the text.

Martin began his story of Hannibal by letting the audience know that there is no surviving statue of Hannibal even if there ever was one. If there was, it was probably destroyed in the total annihilation of Carthage, by Rome, in the third of 3 Punic Wars. What we do know is that he wore a patch over his right eye, having lost sight in that eye due to infection early in his campaign against Rome. Plus, all the information and details of Hannibal were written by his enemies or by historians long after his death.

Martin also gave some context to the First and Second Punic Wars, i.e. the war with descendants of Phoenicians in Carthage. Here follows his talk:

Carthage, near present day Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, was a rich commercial centre with an enormous fleet carrying trading goods all around the Mediterranean. It also had a navy to match and a land army made up exclusively of mercenaries. Rome on the other hand had no navy but a very disciplined and successful volunteer land army. As roman territory expanded, Roman and Carthaginian interests clashed over control of Sicily. After a very costly, mainly sea-based war, Carthage grew weary after 23 years of warfare and sued for peace. Carthage was made to pay a huge annual sum to Rome after losing the First Punic War and this left Carthage without overseas possessions (Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica) but more importantly bereft of its huge mercantile navy. Hamilcar Barca, the father of Hannibal was a successful general on the losing side, fighting in Sicily. He developed an abiding hatred of Rome, a hatred which he instilled in his son. The scene was set for the Second Punic War 20 odd years later, from 218 – 201 BC.

In 237 BC, 4 years after the end of the First Punic War, Hamilcar seized the opportunity to gain some territory by taking an army to Spain and expanding Carthage’s area of influence. It already had a profitable silver mine in Southern Spain and there were further riches to be gained, which he argued, could be used to ease the burden of debt to Rome.

Permission was granted by the Carthage Board of Elders and Hamilcar was on his way, but without a navy he had to travel overland and get his army ferried across the Strait of Gibraltar.

What he had in mind is anyone’s guess. He may have had some thoughts of attacking Roman interests in the north but attacking Rome direct was probably way beyond his reach or thinking.

Unfortunately, Hamilcar drowns 8 years into the Iberian (i.e. Spanish) campaign. He is succeeded by his son in law, Hasdrubal The Fair. Hannibal joins Hasdrubal; he is 18 years of age. The 2 Carthaginian generals are quite successful in Spain and Hannibal develops a reputation as a bold and tactical field commander.

It is during this period that Hasdrubal starts thinking about an attack on Rome, i.e. the city of Rome. There is no doubt that Hannibal would have been in on this.

Meanwhile, Rome has its hands full with an insurgency in the north of Italy, inhabited by Gauls of various tribes who in the past have attacked Rome and in 390 BC sacked Rome. Rome resolved never to let that happen again and built a very solid defensive wall around the City. These tribes, even after having been subdued, remained unreliable allies. In 230 BC Rome was having trouble with them again.

If that wasn’t enough, the Queen of Illyria – present day Croatia, was attacking cities allied with Rome on the Adriatic coast and encouraged large scale piracy. While dealing with these problems Rome became aware of Hasdrubal’s plans to travel overland to southern Gaul. Hasdrubal’s emissaries had apparently been sounding out local tribes about safe passage through their territory. This no doubt would have extended to checking a possible route across the Alps.

Rome decides to cut a deal with Carthage. Rome gives Carthage carte blanche in Spain, providing it does not cross the Ebro River (south of Barcelona).

Much to Rome’s delight, Hasdrubal is murdered and Rome believes the danger of attack has passed. However, having dealt with the tribes north of the Rubicon River and sorted out the upstarts in Illyria, its time to focus on Carthage. Hannibal forces the issue by threatening the city of Saguntum where Valencia is to-day). Saguntum puts out a plea for assistance from Rome. Rome obliges an act which is contrary to its own agreement with Carthage. Hannibal declares war on Rome and the Council of Elders in Carthage has no option but to go along with that declaration. This plays directly into the hands of Hannibal. Also, after an 8 months siege, Hannibal captures Saguntum. He slays the roman sympathisers and sends the romans home. From here, it’s game on.

To read the rest of Martin’s presentation click here.

27th Sep 2019 – Excursion to Tidbinbilla Tracking Station

Information from Newsletter #494 from 27th Sep 2019.  Ed Note: Thanks to Bob Salmond for organising the trip to the CDSCC and also for preparing this report. Click on any thumbnail picture for the full size

Google Photos from Bob

Twenty-five Melba Shed members visited the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) at Tidbinbilla on Friday 26th Sep.

Location, travel, and program

 The complex is at the end of a four kilometre private road (Discovery Drive) leading off Paddys River Road. The arranged program was to have a formal one-hour presentation at the Visitor Centre, followed by a half-hour informal visit of the centre’s museum, and lunch at 12.30pm at the Moon Rock café.

Visitors’ Centre

The Visitors’ Centre provides information to 70,000 people each year. It has:

  • A large theatrette seating over 100 people, and several smaller ones seating up to about 10 people.
  • A museum housing many interesting displays. One shows an astronaut crew complete with bald heads or grey hair. Clearly they had aged from
    the young dashing combat pilots they once were. They looked like they could apply for membership of the Shed; in fact, most of the early astronauts are slightly older than most members of the Shed.
  • Moon Rock Café, which has seating (including on the outside balcony) for about 60, but is lightly staffed mid-week.
  • A children’s playground for family members too young to appreciate the finer details of the museum.
Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) Tidbinbilla
Working DSS43 70m Dish
Shed Members addressed by Dr Korinne McDonnell Sep 2019

Formal introduction

The Shed members were hosted by Dr Korinne McDonnell who began her presentation by escorting the visitors to an outdoor lecture area; this was an excellent informal location, in beautiful spring weather.

Amusingly, the Shedders, seated on a long curved bench, resembled a bunch of primary school children. It must be said that they were very well behaved, and did not talk or fidget while the teacher was speaking.

CDSCC Organisation and Function

Korinne explained that CDSCC is part of NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN), with DSN being part of NASA’s Space Communication and Navigation Division and managed by the JET Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

The DSN has three DSCCs (Goldstone (California), Madrid (Spain) and Canberra). As the earth rotates, these three complexes provide 24 hour coverage of space. The US, Spanish and Australian flags are flown together at the complex.

CDSCC (also known as the Tidbinbilla Tracking Station) opened in 1965.

CDSCC is managed by CSIRO on behalf of NASA and JPL. CDSCC’s operational costs are fully borne by NASA. It employs 90 staff, including 20 in the Operations Centre. Its role is to provide two-way radio contact with dozens of robotic spacecraft and space telescopes exploring our solar system and beyond (Deep Space). It does not support
earth satellites or the International Space Station. It does not perform mission research, so its staff are not scientists.

Data transmitted includes commands sent for course corrections, mission activities and software updates. Data received includes information on vehicle health and position, and data collected by the vehicles’ instruments.


There are four operational antennas on site:

  • Deep Space Station 43 (70 metres diameter)
  • Deep Space Stations 34, 35, and 36 (each 34 metres diameter).

The other dishes are inactive and have been decommissioned.

Supported missions

Korinne gave some information and answered questions on missions supported by CDSCC. These include:

  • Apollo Moon missions – #7 (1968) to #17 (1972).
  • Voyager 1 and Voyager 2.
  • Curiosity – The Mars Science Laboratory Rover.

Apollo Moon missions – #7 (1968) to #17 (1972). These included the famous mission in July 1969 when the first transmissions from the moon were relayed to the world from the facility at Honeysuckle Creek. The 26 metre antenna there was known originally as Deep Space Station 44, and renamed Deep Space Station 46 when it was transferred to Tidbinbilla in 1983. It was declared as a National Engineering Heritage Landmark in 2009 when it was retired.
Deep Space Station 46 (ex Honeysuckle Creek)

Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. Launched in 1977 these craft were to conduct close up studies of Jupiter and Saturn. They were designed to last five years, but are still operating, and have flown past Saturn in 1980 and 1981, Uranus in 1986 and Neptune in 1989. They took advantage of a rare geometric arrangement of the outer planets in the late 1970s and 1980s, and were able to swing from one planet to the next without the need for large on-board propulsion systems.

The Voyagers transmit data at 20 watts (a refrigerator light bulb) but by the time they are received the power has diminished to a fraction of a billionth of a watt.

Currently it takes 19 hours for a signal to Travel to Voyager 1 which has now entered interstellar space (the first craft to do so) and is travelling at 1.4 million km per hour.

Curiosity –The Mars Science Laboratory Rover. Launched in 2011, landed in August 2012. Earlier rovers were Spirit and Opportunity.

Space X launch

At 11.30am Korinne gave us a vote on whether to watch a film of a rocket launch (Space X) or one on the scale of the universe. We chose the rocket launch. We chose well: the film was spectacular.

The Falcon 9 Heavy comprises a core rocket, booster rockets, a space vehicle and a fairing for the space vehicle. The space vehicle has yet to be tested.

This set of components deliberately disassembles during the flight, with most of the components being recovered for reuse. The film shows, on each frame, the time from lift-off, and the speed and altitude of the space vehicle. As the craft disassembles, the film shows shots of each component. The core rocket is recovered, vertically, on land. The booster rockets, the size of 22-storey buildings, land vertically on 100 metre wide barges. The fairing is collected by ships at sea.

The following gives some snapshots of data:

Time after lift-off
Speed (kph)Altitude (km)

Note that after 7 minutes, components are landing after having accelerated to several thousand kilometres per hour and then decelerated to zero and landing on a pinpoint target.

There were of course no ‘crashes’ – only euphemistic reports such as ‘unscheduled disassemblies causing structural damage’!

Causes of damage included:

Ran out of fuel;
Ran out of hydraulic fluid;
Sticky throttle;
Landing barge collapsed;
Landing barge tipped;
Failure of propellant.

However, successes are quickly increasing. The space vehicle itself has not yet been tested.

Snapshot showing speed, altitude & elapsed time
Speed, altitude & elapsed time of Space X launch

Citizen Science – Website for amateur astronomers

Korinne demonstrated a ‘citizen science’ website, Zooniverse, which amateur astronomers can use to classify and identify their observations, and record them for the benefit of others.

Questions and answers

To end the formal presentation there was an informal question and answer session.
The Hubble telescope is still OK, but is no longer maintained (see
A ‘James Webb’ infrared telescope is about to be launched. This is foldable to simplify carriage to orbit.


The current intention is to send the first manned flight to Mars in about 20 years. If this occurs, the first generation of Mars explorers has already been born.
Problems are enormous:

  • The journey there will take 5-9 months.
  • Only NASA has landed smoothly on Mars. Nothing has been brought back.
  • The idea of sending a one-way crew has been shelved.
  • Fuel will be required for a return journey.
  • The first crews will comprise only about three people.
  • Massive radiation will require heavy radiation shields.

Cost benefit analyses have been done: (Korinne felt strongly about this – if the money were not spent on getting to Mars, what would it be spent on tthat would better improve mankind? Sport? Arts?).

She mentioned spinoffs from space programs:

  • minimisation of computer parts;
  • robotics;
  • thermometers so precise they can measure the difference between the temperatures of healthy and cancerous cells;
  • artificial human parts;
  • zip-lock bags (originally for disposal of human waste);
  • recycling of waste;
  • identification of bushfires from space;
  • shoe soles (originally used for moonboots).

Final activities

The Shed members had light lunches in the café, visited the museum, and drove home.


We thank CDSCC, especially Dr McDonnell, for a very interesting and informative morning at the complex, and recommend the Visitors’ Centre to any people who have not yet been there.

20th Sep 2019 – Dr Bob Miller – Archaeological photographer – Pella Jordan

Information from Newsletter #493 from 27th Sep 2019.  Ed Note: Thanks to Bob Salmond for preparing this report. Click on any thumbnail picture for the full size

Bob Miller is a leading expert in digital photography and a photographic educator who specialises in archaeological photography. He has always had a passion for photography and has used his image making in such far-ranging areas as commercial photography, press, sport, and over 25 years of archaeological photography.

Bob began by referring to his earlier lectures to the Shed. He mentioned that his cycle ride across the Nullarbor had raised $30,000 for children in Thailand, and that he is currently planning a cycle ride from Adelaide to Darwin.

He mentioned that he began working as a photographer for archaeological expeditions 29 years ago. He has worked in Greece, Turkey, and Syria (a country he does not intend to return to for some time). It is now 12 years since he began working in Pella, Jordan with the University of Sydney.

Geography and History

Early human beings migrating from Africa to Europe travelled through Palestine, either along the coast or via the Jordan Valley. Pella is only three kilometres from the Jordan River and approx. 27 km south of the Sea of Galilee, and has been inhabited or visited by many civilisations for many thousands of years. It occupies a very strategic position as it has a perennial water source and overlooks the Jordan Valley.

Bob presented some slides recording civilisations (especially Egyptian) in the Middle East over the ages.

Pella Map
Map of Jordan Valley in ancient times
Pella Village
View Pella Village Jordan
Pella Dig
Pella Dig Site


The original dig site was near the village of Tabaqat Fahal (photo) which is still used as a base camp for current digs. The village is at an altitude of 30 metres below sea level, so although it does get very cold, it does not snow. Winds are sometimes very strong, and rain sometimes creates moist clay which makes work difficult.

The dig site on a tell (or tel – an artificial mound formed from the accumulated material of people living on the same site for hundreds or thousands of years) extends to another mountain close by (Tel El-Husn), but between the two tells is a valley 70 metres below sea level. The walk between the two sites takes about 40 minutes. Slides were shown of the village and both dig sites.

Expedition composition, funding and support

The 2019 season marked the 40th anniversary of the University of Sydney expedition at Pella. There are about 40 members of the Australian expedition team which is largely funded by donations and volunteers who pay to work with the team.

Permission to dig is only granted to reliable institutions. In some countries, including Turkey, permission is hard to obtain. All finds are the property of the host state, but the expedition team is allowed to keep photographs, drawings and notes.

A local site inspector studies Bob’s photographs to ensure that the host nation is well informed of all finds.

The team is supported by around 80 local people, who include up to three generations of one family, and include Palestinian refugees. The team and locals have become good friends.

No female locals work on the dig site, but they do provide other support such as cooking which Bob describes as excellent.

The team live in tents and permanent buildings which are also work spaces, dining and storage. Alcohol (including whisky which Bob enjoys) can be consumed inside the expedition buildings, and in Jordanian hotels, but cannot be consumed outside.

Expedition tasks

Digging currently only occurs in January and February. The site is fenced off for the rest of the year, but rain during that time can cause soil and other materials to be washed into lower levels thus causing contamination.

A standard methodology is to string out an area (typically 5 x 5 up to 10 x 10 meters but varies on the area being investigated), and dig straight down. The current depth is about 6m.

Safety precautions are not as stringent as in Australia; for example, there is little shoring or protective clothing. Tools range from very small brushes and trowels to heavier picks and shovels.

Bob Miller Pella
Bob Miller Pella Dig 2019


The expedition has dug through several thousand years of civilisation. Unfortunately, digging through layers destroys the later deposits, so much care is needed to properly document each level. Discoveries are photographed, and drawn with great accuracy, and locations and directions carefully recorded. C14 and DNA tests are used for dating. A minimum of about 1000 photographs are taken each week.

Drones are not allowed because of military regulation. In the past Bob has used climate balloons to take overhead photos on another dig in Cyprus. Only a very small proportion of finds are displayed in museums. However, the museums have large warehouses of other finds. Much work is allocated to reassembling fragments.

Bob showed several videos showing the painstaking task of very carefully brushing soil away from finds, and even cleaning them with cotton buds. The videos showed the initial discovery of the face of a small sculpture (1200 BC).

The femur and dagger of an Egyptian warrior who died about 1700 BC were also uncovered. Bob explained how when he first noticed a small carving of an animal’s head he had to carefully photograph and record it before he was allowed to complete its excavation. The head showed a possible collar or bridle, even though the sculpture was dated to about 1000 years before the earliest known domestication of animals; such discoveries are very exciting.

Extracurricular activities

Bob is an avid photographer, and so takes photographs of the scenery
for pleasure. He even mounts some of the photographs for sale. The audience were grateful for Bob’s excellent presentation, and envious at his exciting career.

Pella Site Dig 2019

13th Sep 2019 – Richard Almond – Volcanologist

Information from Newsletter #492 from 20th Sep 2019

Clearly the experience of a lifetime, both for work and living in a completely different culture. Thanks very much, Richard, for sharing it with us.

Richard obtained a BSc in Physics at the University of Edinburgh in 1969, where he met his wife Janet who also graduated in 1969 with a BSc in mathematics.

Richard took a job in Nigeria during 1969 and 1970, in oil exploration. He was offered a job at the Bureau of Mineral Resources in Canberra in 1970 where he was involved in mineral exploration. After spending the summer of 1973/74 in Antarctica in the fields of geomagnetism and seismology, Richard moved to Rabaul in 1976, where he worked as a volcanologist for 5 years until 1981.

Richard dedicated his presentation to the memory of two colleagues, Rob Cooke and Elias Ravian, who were killed by an atypical (and hence unexpected) directional blast from the Karkar volcano in PNG on 8 March 1979.

Richard’s specialties are:

  •  Gravity – Can be used to detect height variations.
  •  Electrical resistivity – Can estimate depth to water table.
  •  Magnetism – Infer presence and shape of geological structures.

Volcanoes can be said to fall into two main categories:

  • Shield volcanoes, so named because they resemble circular shields, such as were used by Vikings (e.g. Kilauea, in Hawaii).
  • Composite volcanoes (also known as stratovolcanoes) take the form of steep cones formed from layers of ash and lava, such as Mount St Helens in the USA. (PNG volcanoes are of this type.)
Sarychev volcano Russia
Rabaul Caldera
Karkar Is Volcano

Eruptions in shield volcanoes are effusive. Lava is of low viscosity, and flows can extend over huge areas. This gives the shallow shield shape. Eruptions can include spectacular lava fountains. Lava flows tend to travel slowly except near the summit. Though they can cause significant destruction, it is mainly to property, not to life. PNG volcanoes, such as Ulawun and Karkar, are composite volcanoes. Eruptions are explosive and eject ash, rocks and viscous flows of lava. They can also produce devastating pyroclastic flows.

A spectacular view of a composite volcano is shown here. It is a photo taken from the International Space Station of an explosive eruption of the Sarychev volcano in Russia. Pyroclastic flows can be seen around the base.

Calderas are formed by collapse. This occurs when a large eruption such as Krakatoa, or Rabaul 1400 years ago, ejects a huge amount of material from the magma chamber. Eventually the cavity becomes so large that the volcano collapses in on itself. Such eruptions are uncommon on a human timescale, but are highly dangerous.

Craters are explosive features and are created (or reused) during most eruptions. Volcanoes are common on the north coast islands of PNG (from the Sepik to Rabaul and on to Bougainville), areas that are densely populated. Mainland volcanoes are large but erupt infrequently.

The Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO) was established in 1937 following a fatal eruption in Rabaul (500 killed). Its mission was to monitor the Rabaul volcano; monitor and study other PNG volcanoes, especially those that pose the greatest risk to population; and participate in the global seismograph network.

The Rabaul caldera is shown here. The original volcano must have been a massive edifice before it collapsed to form the harbour. The larger hills around Rabaul were satellite volcanoes (or eruptive vents) on its flanks. In recent history Tavurvur has been the main eruptive centre in Rabaul (it is on the right-hand side of the photo on the northern edge of the harbour). It’s quite a small volcano, but its summit is a complex of craters. Its eruption in 2004 destroyed Rabaul. It has also erupted several times since then.

During their stay in Rabaul, Richard and Janet, their family and friends went for picnics in the Rabalanakaia crater, which was a favourite school picnic spot. There is no historical record of Rabalanakaia erupting but there are many fumaroles in the crater, both around the perimeter and in the central fumarole ring. It’s likely that it erupted around 250 years ago. RVO takes weekly temperature readings.

Twice per year RVO would charter a twin-engine fixed wing aircraft and overfly several volcanoes. The north coast chain of island volcanoes was paid particular attention. These flights comprised short periods of sickening flying around and into summit craters, taking photographs and making notes. Heat around the craters caused local violent turbulence.

Richard spent some time in observation posts monitoring the Langila volcano in West New Britain and Karkar Island. Karkar Island is a large volcano north of Madang. It has a recent history of eruptions from Bagiai cone, on the floor of the summit caldera. There are many cocoa and coconut plantations, which supported a population of around 23,000 when Richard was there in 1979. The outer caldera is 5.5kms across and dates from 9,000 years ago. The inner caldera is 3kms across and is thought to be 1,500 years old.

An eruption started in January 1979. During the last two weeks in February Richard set up a camp on the caldera floor as a base for making electrical resistivity measurements.

“Self potential” traverse simply measures the change in voltage from one end of a line to the other – simple in principle, but difficult to pay out 1km of cable over rough country. Richard believes his work at that time was a first, in that nobody had done an SP survey near an erupting vent before.

Electrical resistivity is more complicated. Direct current is injected into the ground via electrodes at two different points. While the current is flowing, voltage changes are measured along three traverses.

During Richard’s and his team’s stay in the caldera, the eruption changed from mainly ash to mainly water vapour. In late February they were lifted from the caldera by helicopter, which also positioned Rob and Elias at the caldera rim observation post. On 8 March both were killed by a directional blast of rocks and gases from the vent.
The blast was violent; it levelled or completely cleared a large expanse of forest. The vent was greatly enlarged by the explosion and emitted a mix of ash and water vapour. A few weeks after the explosion a temporary lull in the eruption allowed a close look into the crater. They could see for the first time that the active vent was a cavern in the northern side of the crater, which explained the directionality of the blast. Because of the unusual nature of the eruption it started a phase of intensive monitoring of the volcano:

  • Gravity readings to detect inflation of the volcano.
  • Resistivity readings to investigate liquid water and water vapour.

In early June 1979, Richard set up two pairs of electrodes on the caldera floor. Pulsed current was injected and the resultant pulses in voltage measured. However, the big eruption that they tried to plan for on Karkar thankfully never eventuated.

During 1980 the idyllic environment in Rabaul deteriorated. The social unrest that had pervaded Port Moresby started to spread even as far as Rabaul. A friend was murdered by “rascals”. Work at the RVO became difficult as funds dried up and administration tightened so Richard and his family returned home, bringing back many happy memories.

30th Aug 2019 – Luke Wensing – Travellers’ Tales 1

Information from Newsletter #490 from 6th Sep 2019 – about 45 members attended. Click on the pictures for a larger size

Luke Wensing introduced “Travellers Tales, a look back in time” with two examples of time, a clip of a motorcycle race on the Isle of Man (10 seconds at 200kph) and a Canadian glacier that has existed since the start of the Ice age that loses depth at about 5 metres per year! We are actually still in the “Ice Age” but the rate of ‘melting’ is higher than expected due to many contentious activities by humans.

Briefly, in the ice age peak of about 40,000 years ago, not all the planet was covered by ice. Australia was never fully covered by ice but it did become very dry and many aborigines moved to shelter and water around the more mountainous areas of the continent.

Looking mostly at Europe (from the viewpoint of the North Pole) the receding ice between glacial periods enabled travel by humans to otherwise difficult to get to places because land bridges were revealed before they become flooded by the sea. In particular people moved to and from Great Britain from many parts of Europe and elsewhere. The inhabitants were mostly nomadic and hunted, trapped and fished for food and travelled as dictated by seasons and food availability.

Pentre Ifan Ireland
Hill of Tara
Ring of Brodgar Orkney Scotland

The presentation looked at prehistory, beginning with the Paleolithic (13000BC), the Mesolithic (to about 8000BC) and the Neolithic Age, the final division of the Stone Age. It covers the Copper Age (3500 to about 1700 BC) Bronze {Copper plus Tin} Age (1500BC to about 1000BC) and the Iron Age for at least 1000 years and more depending on what area is being studied. Prehistory does not readily reveal written forms of communication but it does have creations that lead us to wonder about life in the past 3500 years!

Ancient monuments and prehistoric sites are prolific in Europe and the British Isles. The presentation centred on sites visited in recent trips to the UK. Luke selected only a few of these sites for the Shed presentation. The first one shown was only found by spotting a sign on the road north out of Newport in Wales.

Pentre Ifan (3500BC) is composed of three slender upright stones supporting a capstone estimated to weigh 16 tons! Two further uprights formed an entrance, while a sixth upright blocks the entrance. The capstone is finely balanced on three points. There are over 2000 sites mapped in Wales.

The Hill of Tara is a hill and ancient ceremonial and burial site in County Meath, Ireland. According to tradition, it was the inauguration place and seat of the High Kings of Ireland, and it also appears in Irish mythology. Tara consists of numerous monuments and earthworks – from the Neolithic to the Iron Age – including a passage tomb (the “Mound of the hostages“), burial mounds, round enclosures, a standing stone (believed to be the Lia Fáil or “Stone of Destiny”), and a ceremonial avenue. There is also a church and graveyard on the hill. Tara is a protected national monument and is part of a larger ancient landscape.

Newgrange, also in Ireland, is estimated to have been built around 3200BC. The site consists of a large circular mound with an inner stone passageway and chambers. Human bones and possible grave goods or votive offerings were found in these chambers. The mound has a retaining wall at the front, made mostly of white quartz cobblestones, and it is ringed by engraved kerbstones. Many of the larger stones of Newgrange are covered in megalithic art. It features a light path passageway above the main doorway that illuminates the back wall of the main chamber at the winter solstice. The carved artwork on the stone is emblematic of the era. Newgrange was built between about 3200 and 3100 BC. According to carbon-14 dates, it is approximately five hundred years older than the current form of Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. There are over 1000 sites in Ireland.

The Ring of Brodgar is a huge stone circle in Orkney, constructed somewhere between 2500 and 2000 BC. It’s part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site. Easily the most awe-inspiring prehistoric site in Scotland, the Ring of Brodgar lies on a promontory between two lochs. The stone circle is quite complete, and one of the biggest in Britain. The stones are set within a circular ditch up to 3m deep and 9m across that was hewn out of the solid bedrock by the prehistoric constructors. The stone circle is 104 metres in diameter and was originally thought to have comprised 60 stones, of which only 27 remain standing today. The tallest stones stand at the south and west of the ring. The surrounding area is full of other standing stones and younger Bronze Age monuments, making a significant ritual landscape..

Stones of Stenness Orkney Scotland
Skara Brae Orkney Scotland


Stones of Stenness nearby, originally 12 standing stones, with 3 remaining upright are 1000 years older than the Ring of Brodgar. The relatively thin stones are truly awesome, easily accessible and very visible. They are obviously a focal point for gathering, meeting and probably worship or sacrifice. There are numerous other places to see and visit near this narrow neck on the main island of Orkney. In particular there is a recreated barnhouse, the Maes Howe burial chamber (not unlike Newgrange in Ireland) and other special purpose single stones. Close by is the active archaeological site, The Ness of Brodgar, that is worked by researchers from around the world from June till September each year. On 22 August this year, yes last week!, a human arm bone was discovered unexpectedly a few days before the site was to close. In passing, Orkney is the locality for the scuttling of the German Fleet on 11/11/1918; as well as the loss of HMS Hampshire with Lord Kitchener on board and boasts the Churchill Barriers to keep the enemy out of the area during WW2. It boasts the incredible St Magnus Cathedral built around 1100AD.

Skara Brae is a large well-preserved stone-built Neolithic village that was occupied from roughly 3100-2500 B.C. Until an 1850 storm partially unearthed it, Skara Brae lay under years of soil sediment. It was fully excavated between 1928 and 1930. The village consists of ten clustered houses, which were sunk into the ground — into midden, — to act as insulation against harsh weather. Intricate passageways connect most of the dwellings with each other. The typical dwelling contains a large square room containing a large hearth for heating and cooking, ingenious drainage, and a number of stone-built pieces of furniture, including cupboards, dressers, seats, storage boxes and sleeping areas that would have probably used straw or sheep skins to make them as comfortable as possible.

23rd Aug 2019 – Victor Isaacs Talked About Australia’s Strange Borders – Border Disputes between the States

Information from Newsletter #489 from 23rd Aug 2019 – about 55 members attended

Victor gave a fascinating presentation. It was also very amusing, showing that nothing has changed much in the past couple of years regarding negotiations and cooperation between the States. Victor has been a regular presenter at U3A and has also presented a couple of interesting sessions at our Shed in the past two years.

Looking at a map of Australia shows that some of the borders between States appear to be quite straight-forward while some others, particularly along the eastern side of the country, are rather less so.

The oddest situations involve Victoria, which was originally settled in the 1830s but was governed from Sydney until it was established as a separate colony in 1851. The NSW/Victorian border was set by the British Government in London, advised by the colonists in Sydney, which resulted in an outcome that tended to favour NSW. For example, NSW claimed the whole of the Riverina, whose economy and social behaviour were more closely tied to Melbourne than Sydney. In 1855, the British Government proclaimed an “Act to Remove Doubts” to confirm the border that had been proclaimed despite some aspects being disputed.

Some unofficial borders exist to this day. The “Beer border” arose from the practice of breweries dividing the country into zones in which each brewery had exclusive rights. It drew a border roughly through Henty and Tarcutta. Despite the introduction of the Trade Practices Act, this unofficial border still exists to some extent today.

A “Football border” runs roughly through Wagga and is easily observable by the Aussie Rules or Rugby goalposts on the ovals in the towns in that area. In 1911, Victoria put in a formal claim for the Riverina to be included in Victoria but it came to nothing, particularly because of the 1855 “Act to Remove Doubts”.

A “Language border” exists in many parts of Australia, including southern NSW, with different terms being used, particularly for food items.

More formally, the Murray River defined the NSW/Victoria border from its source to the SA border. Having a river as a political border is not unusual around the world but one interesting aspect of the NSW/Victoria border is that the border is on the south bank rather than in the middle of the river. The two jurisdictions involved with a river border usually build and maintain bridges jointly. However, in the case of the Murray River, NSW has to foot the bill for the lot.

The border in Lake Hume and Lake Mulwala is defined as being where the river once flowed. To prevent disputes over the State in which an issue arose, the two governments agreed that Victorian laws apply to the whole of Lake Hume and NSW laws to the whole of Lake Mulwala.

One odd event was that, in 1980, a man in a boat was shot by someone in Victoria. However, the court ruled that the barrel of the rifle used was protruding over the water and so NSW law applied (the court case is described in “Queen versus Ward”).

The land border was defined as running from Cape Howe to the nearest source of the Murray River. This part of the border was surveyed from 1869 to 1872 but it was not until 2006 that NSW and Victoria issued a formal proclamation on that part of the border.

The Victoria/SA border was set 5 miles further west than it should be. The use of the “Harrison clock”, which was designed to provide the precise time required to measure longitude, was restricted to military use when the First Fleet sailed to Sydney. The longitude of Botany Bay was estimated by dead reckoning but was 5 miles out. The Victoria/SA border surveyors set out from Sydney and used the longitude estimated by the First Fleet. The border was marked by wooden pegs but severe bushfires in 1855 destroyed many of them. In the mid 1860s, the error in the border was identified but Victoria would not agree to change it. The closest building to this border is a railway station at Serviceton, which is in the disputed area. It was built jointly by Victoria and SA but the SA government never paid its share.

The border dispute went to the High Court in 1911 but the appeal was dismissed. In 1914, the SA Government referred the issue to the Privy Council but it also found in favour of Victoria on the grounds that once a border is established then it remains.

The principle of not changing a border is important because it is important to have consistent borders over time. Improvements in technology could result in changes in borders being required. The US Supreme Court has made similar rulings in respect of border disputes in America.

Queensland became a separate colony in 1859. Like the NSW/Victoria border, the “experts” in Sydney advised on where the NSW/Queensland border should be located. They put in an ambit claim which, to much surprise, was accepted. It would be more logical to have the border somewhere near Grafton.

Ideally, borders are in relatively sparsely populated areas. However, the NSW/Queensland border runs from Point Danger through a heavily-populated area, along Boundary Street between Tweed Heads and Coolangatta . It goes across the MacPherson Ranges, along the Macintyre River and then a straight line along the 29th parallel (south). The section through the MacPherson Ranges was surveyed by two surveyors who did not get on. They submitted different reports to their respective governments. In 1882, the NSW government records were destroyed in a fire so only the Queensland documentation on the border remained.

The Queensland Boundaries Declaratory Act of 1982 proclaimed that “Each land boundary of the State …….. is and always has been the boundary ……….. permanently fixed by marking it upon the surface of the earth before the year 1900 notwithstanding any map, chart, document or writing of any kind whatever that purports to show the boundary elsewhere than so permanently fixed.” In other words “Once the border is established then it stays”.

The railway line crossed the border at Jennings (NSW)/Wallangarra (Qld). As was common amongst the various colonies, they had different railway gauges so there was a break in the gauge at this crossing.

Another problematical border is the Qld/NT border, the southern part of which finishes up 900 metres west of where it should be due to surveying errors.
The Victoria/Tasmania border was established through the middle of Bass Strait, on a latitude which avoids islands (almost). The border crosses Boundary Islet, which means that Victoria and Tasmania have a land border. The border is about 85 metres long (Boundary Islet is 2 hectares in area).

The WA/SA/NT border is along the 129 degrees meridian east longitude. Survey teams marking the border worked from the north and south. When they met up they were about 120 metres out so the border runs east-west where the WA, SA and NT borders meet.

The ACT/NSW border is straight in one part only – from Mt Coree to One Tree Hill near Hall. It follows ridgelines along the north-eastern side and then the western side of the railway line along the eastern side. The original plan was to include Queanbeyan and the Queanbeyan River in the Federal Capital Territory (it became the ACT in 1938). The trade-off was to provide water rights over the Queanbeyan River (hence Googong Dam being administered by the ACT). The southern part follows the ranges. A lot of the border planning involved ensuring that Canberra had a reliable water supply.

Australia’s international borders also include some interesting features. Queensland claimed all the islands in Torres Strait, even those almost on the New Guinea coast. The boundaries in the Timor Sea are still disputed. In 1972 Australia and Indonesia negotiated a boundary in the Timor Sea. The boundary was well north of the median line. It also included the “Timor Gap”, which was a break in the border line because Portugal (which governed East Timor at that time) would not participate in the negotiations. Australia and East Timor agreed to share the revenue from exploiting the resources in the Timor Sea.

Antarctica is subject to many territorial claims. Australia’s is the biggest by far (about 1/3 of the total territory). Under international law it is necessary to do something in the area to justify a claim. Therefore, Australia conducts scientific expeditions. It also releases “Australian Antarctic Territory” postage stamps. Given the general lack of postal facilities in Antarctica, they are valid for posting letters in Australia as well.

16th Aug 2019 – Prof Rod Jory AM – However Did The Early Explorers Find Their Way Home?

Information from Newsletter #488 from 23rd Aug 2019 – 51 members attended

The Shed has been fortunate enough to have Rod entertain us several times with his amazing knowledge. This time his very interesting and enjoyable presentation was on explorers and the problems they faced in navigating into the unknown (and return in some cases).

A poorly-known fact is that most (about 99 in 100) of the early seagoing explorers did not come home.

Those that did, like Cook and Magellan, are the only ones remembered because they did manage to return and provide details of their discoveries.

Longitude is measured in degrees either side of the Greenwich meridian while latitude is measured in degrees north or south of the equator. The latitude could be measured relatively easily. A sextant can tell how far the sun is above the horizon at noon, which directly gives the latitude. However, measuring the longitude is much more problematical. It requires very accurate time keeping (for every 15 degrees of longitude the time of noon is delayed or advanced by one hour). Clocks were not sufficiently precise to measure longitude with any degree of certainty until, in 1767, John Harrison developed a clock that could not only keep the exact time but could also withstand the rigours of being bounced around on a ship in salty air.

A compass points north, thanks to the earth’s magnetic field. A problem that Cook and other explorers probably did not appreciate is that both the north and south magnetic poles move over time so a compass may not point to “true north”. In fact it may point a long way from true north depending on where in the world the reading is being taken. The error (“magnetic declination”) is more pronounced as you get closer to the north or south poles. It can be so large as to make the compass readings useless.

Traditional navigation involved following the coastline, but the Vikings had headed west and found Iceland, then Greenland and likely the North American continent. This was either done by faith or misadventure. Portuguese fisherman followed the catch and discovered the Dogger Banks off Canada but they told no-one.

Some basics of navigation started with Eratosthenes in around 200BC He noticed that on a certain day each year the sun shone straight down a well. He went a calculated distance north from there and measured the length of shadows of a stick. He then calculated the radius of the Earth from the distance north from the well and the ratio of the length of the stick’s shadow to the length of the stick. Once the radius is known, estimating the circumference is a trivial exercise. Eratosthenes was remarkably accurate, in some accounts to 1%, but that is sheer luck!

There is a problem with use of units. The metre was defined in 1795 as one ten millionth of the distance between the North Pole and the Equator through Paris. A nautical mile is 1/60 of one degree, which is 1853 metres (a standard mile is 1609 metres).

Other measures of distance can be a bit more difficult to comprehend. For example, the velocity of light is 300,000 kilometres per second. The distance from the Earth to the Sun is 9 light seconds, which seems relatively small. The Sun to Jupiter is 45 light minutes, while the Sun to Neptune is 4 light hours. A huge step up in the distances is the Sun to Alpha Centauri, which is 4 light years while the Sun to the nearest Galaxy is a whopping 25,000,000 light years.

Columbus believed in Eratosthenes that the Earth was round, but he had the numbers wrong. Columbus calculated that it was not all that far to India heading west from Europe. He had trouble finding a sponsor until he came upon Ferdinand and Isabella from Spain who staked him. They gave him the Santa Maria (22 metres long and 223 tons), the Nina and the Pinta and provisions to get to his target and back.

Columbus and his crews were running out of time, and their food would not last. The end of the world was approaching and the crew wanted to turn back when they saw a bird, which indicated land nearby. They landed on an island in the Bahamas, which Columbus said must be India, hence the West Indies.

Columbus returned home a hero and was sent back for gold. It wasn’t India but he found gold, small amounts collected by the locals over many years. Columbus was made governor and an admiral. In practice, he never stepped foot on or saw the American continent.

Prince Henry the Navigator was a younger son of the king in the early 1400s (Columbus’ famous voyage was in 1492) and he set up what could most easily be called a navigational academy in Lisbon. He brought the best talent and knowledge of sailing that was possible. Up until this time sailors had remained close to the coast and their navigation was based on using the coast. Galileo did not come on to the scene until around 1600 so that, before Columbus, the edge of the world was a “known fact”. Henry wanted his ships to go south, around Africa. There was the renowned Cape Badaujoz, around which no-one had ever sailed. The weather just kept forcing them back. There had been 15 known, but unsuccessful, attempts made to pass this point. Clearly, this then must have been the end of the world. Someone, by accident, had discovered the Cape Verde Islands further out which indicated that the end of the world might be a little further afield.

Finally, Henry persuaded his captains to have a crack at sailing out to sea, turning south, sailing by dead reckoning and then coming ashore. Of course, this worked, and in 1474 Henry’s ships were on the way south. Diaz arrived at the Cape of Good Hope in 1496, only 4 years after Columbus went in the other direction and Vasco da Gama reached India in 1497 by sailing up the coast to modern day Kenya and enlisting local knowledge.

Rod concluded by suggesting that the greatest navigator could be one of Magellan, Cook, Bligh or Shackleton.

3rd Aug 2019 – Rev Tim Jensen The Future of the Church? and Curry and Soup Morning

Information from Newsletter #486 from 9th Aug 2019 – 44 members attended

Thanks Tim for an interesting and stimulating talk. Tim has been the Rector of the North Belconnen Uniting Church at Melba for the past eight years. His previous appointments were at Byron Bay and Longreach (which was his first). Prior to becoming a Minister, Tim was a plumber in Darwin and taught primary school in Ayr.

Tim started by saying that trying to work out the future of the Church raises more questions than answers. The key point is that, even if there are no answers, signposts are available pointing to different possible paths.

Looking back, it’s apparent that attendance at Sunday School in the 1950s and 1960s was at least partly driven by returned soldiers looking for stability for their families. Church attendance peaked following the Billy Graham Crusades in Australia in 1959 (150,000 attended the one at the MCG).

Since the 1960s, church attendance has been in decline with issues like the widespread access to TV, the advent of Sunday sport (particularly professional sport), the sexual revolution and bad publicity for churches all contributing. One unexpected contributor to the drop was the moon landing in 1969 – church attendance dropped in the week following the landing and has been in decline ever since.

An interesting question is what really constitutes a church because it’s clearly more than a religious institution. Is a church a building, or a charity, or a social service? These days, more people use church facilities any weekday than they do on Sundays.

The characteristics of those who attend church and/or use church facilities are that they have a common belief, they gather for a common purpose and action (or, in some cases, for an element of inaction and exclusivity). Gathering together is an important function in this time of the internet, which tends to isolate people socially even as it enables people to communicate better in so many ways. Surveys regularly identify that about 30% of the population feel alone and isolated and would like face-to-face contact.

What does it mean to gather?

  • spiritual but not religious: no need to be part of church;
  • to socialise;
  • to find meaning amongst others who are also seeking meaning;
  • to be actively involved in speaking out for justice: the poor, the marginalised, the abused….;
  • Church is a place of belonging and welcome.

A Church is a place of connection, where we can explore our spirituality with others where we are centred in/on God (the ground of our being, a power greater than ourselves, Spirit, life-giving force).

Tim listed several “isms” that were considered to be heresies in the first couple of hundred years of Christianity:

  • Gnosticism: revealed knowledge;
  • Marcionism: the God of Jesus was not the Hebrew God;
  • Montanism: solely prophetic revelations from the Holy Spirit;
  • Adoptionism: Jesus not incarnate;
  • Docetism: Jesus was pure spirit and his physical being an illusion;
  • Arianism: Jesus sub-ordinate to the Father.

In 1054, there was a split in the Church, which was a combination of geographical, political and disagreement about the Trinity. The Reformation in the 16th century (Henry VIII and Martin Luther) involved a split between the Catholic and Protestant Churches, with the latter allowing priests to marry and for mass to be said in the local language.
Society is becoming more secular. It does not mean there is no spirituality in the community; rather it means that the spirituality is not necessarily connected with a church.

So, what will the future church look like? Clearly, it will look nothing like it does now.

  • it needs to be more inclusive,
  • more women in leadership,
  • a greater acceptance of science and not trying to use the Bible as a scientific document,
  • a greater emphasis on justice and the needs of others and the environment,
  • a willingness to admit past wrong and risking the consequences, and to know it’s not about being right but about being in caring and thoughtful relationships with others.

Curry and Soup Morning. A great variety of curries and soups was cooked by several Shedders for the curry and soup morning. The results of some hidden culinary talents were enjoyed by all (although there is a suspicion that at least one Shedder had more than a little help from his wife who was keen to get him out of the kitchen). Thanks to all cooks (chefs??) for their efforts.


19th Jul 2019 – Talk by Vickie Hingston-Jones End-of-Life Doula

Information from Newsletter #484 from 26th July 2019 – 46 members attended

Vickie gave a thought-provoking presentation on issues around End of Life Planning. Vickie specifically spoke about the taboo topic – death & dying. We all need to have & look at everything from the fear of death to planning our own legacy

Vickie is an “End-of-life Doula”, sometimes referred to as a “Death walker” or a “Spiritual midwife”. A doula is a Greek term that means “one who serves”. As such, Vickie is involved in end-of-life planning, advocacy and support. She assists bereaved people to walk the journey through the various stages of disbelief, anger, mourning, acceptance. One of the ways of preparing people for the inevitable end is to hold “Death cafes”. The idea of a Death cafe is to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their lives rather than just to assist people to cope with the loss of someone who is close. It is a group that discusses death with no agenda, objectives or themes. As such it is a discussion group rather than a grief support or counselling session and the conversation can head in many different directions depending on who is there and what they want to talk about.

Planning for your death is very important. For example, you should leave clear instructions as to whether you want to be buried or cremated, what type of service you want, even what music you would like at your funeral. Having family aware of your wishes avoids family squabbles at what is a stressful time for everyone. In effect, this is a living will. An example is an “Advanced Care Plan”, which is required for anyone in an old-age home. It’s important to clearly state what you want. Vickie gave an example of someone who had written that she did not want to be put on life support. However, she developed a condition that required life support but from which she was expected to make a complete recovery. The family was split as to whether to agree to the doctors putting her on life support.

Vickie can work with a family when a member is reaching the end of life to assist them making the difficult decisions involved. The primary care giver (usually the doctor) determines when someone goes into palliative care, which can be a hospice or at home. Palliative care does not guarantee that a person will be pain free. Dosages of painkillers depend on the hospital and/or the doctor involved. For example, a dose of morphine sufficient to completely stop pain may be lethal.

Vickie is opposed to some of the terminology currently used. For example, she said it is far better to refer to someone as having died rather than being “lost” or having “passed away” or, even worse, “passed”, which she claims is a meaningless term.

The death of a loved one is stressful and it is often difficult to think clearly and ensure that everything that needs to be done is, in fact, done. Vickie can assist in contacting grief councillors, organising pastoral care and advising on funerals.

Trying to determine the cost of a funeral is difficult because there are so many variables involved. The typical average cost in Canberra is about $9,400 for a burial and $5,100 for a cremation. However, actual costs can vary significantly because of the cost of the coffin and the Funeral Director selected. “Seniors Australia” has a funeral cost comparison on its website.

Vickie is currently involved in negotiations to set up “Tender Funerals” (which currently operates on the coast around Wollongong) in Canberra. The aim is to start operating in early 2020. Tender Funerals is a not-for-profit, which charges significantly less for a funeral than the more established enterprises. It has a public interest group on Facebook.

The traditional burial in a coffin is not the only alternative. For example, it is possible to be buried in a shroud or via “aquamation”, where a body is gently placed in a vessel. Flowing water, made alkaline by adding potassium, accelerates the natural course of tissue decomposition.

Vickie is very opposed to funeral insurance, which is an expensive way to prepare for your funeral. She also said that pre-paid funerals can be problematical. It is important to have an itemised list of what is actually covered and the extra charges that will be billed.

Postmortems are required in special circumstances. (e.g. if a death is unexplained or unexpected because of previous good health). There are no definite rules as to when a postmortem may be required.

Vickie can act as a facilitator for a funeral service. She has some preferences for the way things are conducted but the family is free to organise things the way they want. For example, Vickie believes that a family member should deliver the eulogy, it should be meaningful and short, it should honour and celebrate the person’s life and it should include some funny incidents to show what the person was like. There is a fine line between laughing and crying and it’s good to finish a funeral with a laugh.

Vickie’s contact details are: Mobile: 0422 008 759; Email:; Vickie’s website

Vickie undertook to send us some information about the legal and medical issues that need a bit of forward planning. She has also provided a couple of additional documents that give details about funerals, particularly issues that relate to pre-paid funerals, and a list of useful contacts.
The documents can be accessed by clicking on the following links:

12th Jul 2019 – Talk by Anthony Hill – Author

Information from Newsletter #483 from 19th July 2019 – 37 members attended

Tony Hill is a Canberra-based author of 19 books for young readers and adults gave shed members a fascinating presentation.  He moved to Canberra in 1972 to work in the parliamentary press gallery, initially for the Melbourne Herald then for the Australian Financial Review.  After about 5 years, the press gallery had lost some of its attraction so Tony

moved to Bowning where he opened an antique shop.  Living in a small country town gave Tony the incentive (and time) to write books.  He wrote articles about drought, shop keeping and some of the less pleasant aspects of village life.  He wrote articles and a book (“The Bunburyists”) about running an antique shop in a fictional village but most of the locals recognised themselves.  Half the village’s population were outraged about the things Tony wrote but the other half were upset they had been left out of the book.

Village living had many joys, some unhappiness and much claustrophobia.  Most living in the area fitted into one of two categories – land owners or workers.  Tony did not fit into either category.  In The Bunburyists he described how he had been asked to join the local tennis club but not the more select Victoria Club.  He also wrote children’s books.

After about 5 years he moved back to Canberra, working for Channel 7, where he started on the last sitting day of the Fraser government.

After Bill Hayden was appointed as G-G, Tony became his speechwriter for 6 months, which stretched out to 10 years and included working for the next G-G (Sir William Deane) as well.  One of the advantages was travelling to places that Tony would not have otherwise seen and meeting lots of different people.

On a trip to the Kimberley with Bill Hayden he met a local who was part aboriginal.  When he was young, his mother had put charcoal all over him when the child welfare staff were in town because light-skinned children were routinely taken away from their parents.  However, the welfare people had hidden in the bush and saw him when the charcoal was washed off.  They took him away and he never saw his mother again.  Tony wrote a short story about his suffering (“The Burnt Stick”) and Penguin published it just as the Stolen Generation Commission was starting.

After going to Gallipoli in 1995 for the 80th anniversary of ANZAC Tony decided to write about war.  One of his subjects was James Martin, who was the youngest ANZAC to die, at the age of 14.  He found lots of details at the War Memorial and his service details in the National Archives.  Tony saw letters, a tablecloth, money belt and James’ dog tags.  His nephew lived in Canberra and had his medals plus many stories from his mother about “Uncle Jim” (who was her brother).  The book about James Martin (“Soldier Boy”) became a best seller for Tony.

moved to Bowning where he opened an antique shop.  Living in a small country town gave Tony the incentive (and time) to write books.  He wrote articles about drought, shop keeping and some of the less pleasant aspects of village life.  He wrote articles and a book (“The Bunburyists”) about running an antique shop in a fictional village but most of the locals recognised themselves.  Half the village’s population were outraged about the things Tony wrote but the other half were upset they had been left out of the book.

Village living had many joys, some unhappiness and much claustrophobia.  Most living in the area fitted into one of two categories – land owners or workers.  Tony did not fit into either category.  In The Bunburyists he described how he had been asked to join the local tennis club but not the more select Victoria Club.  He also wrote children’s books.

After about 5 years he moved back to Canberra, working for Channel 7, where he started on the last sitting day of the Fraser government.

After Bill Hayden was appointed as G-G, Tony became his speechwriter for 6 months, which stretched out to 10 years and included working for the next G-G (Sir William Deane) as well.  One of the advantages was travelling to places that Tony would not have otherwise seen and meeting lots of different people.

On a trip to the Kimberley with Bill Hayden he met a local who was part aboriginal.  When he was young, his mother had put charcoal all over him when the child welfare staff were in town because light-skinned children were routinely taken away from their parents.  However, the welfare people had hidden in the bush and saw him when the charcoal was washed off.  They took him away and he never saw his mother again.  Tony wrote a short story about his suffering (“The Burnt Stick”) and Penguin published it just as the Stolen Generation Commission was starting.

After going to Gallipoli in 1995 for the 80th anniversary of ANZAC Tony decided to write about war.  One of his subjects was James Martin, who was the youngest ANZAC to die, at the age of 14.  He found lots of details at the War Memorial and his service details in the National Archives.  Tony saw letters, a tablecloth, money belt and James’ dog tags.  His nephew lived in Canberra and had his medals plus many stories from his mother about “Uncle Jim” (who was her brother).  The book about James Martin (“Soldier Boy”) became a best seller for Tony.

Another story came about when Tony was at the War Memorial and was given some clippings about a French boy, about 8 or 9 years old, who attached himself to number 4 Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps.  The airmen smuggled him back to Australia.

Tony also wrote a book (“For Love of Country”) about a soldier settler whose property, “Yamba”, was where the Woden Plaza is now located.  He had 3 sons and 3 daughters and all 3 sons were killed in World War 2.

Other books Tony has written include “Captain Cook’s Apprentice” who eventually became an admiral himself and died in 1837 at the age of 82, and “The Last Convict” (about to be published).  He was transported in 1866 for burning a haystack and stayed here until he died in 1938.

Tony has concentrated on writing “historical novels”.  He now wants to write some fiction.  The publication process is lengthy though, with a minimum of 1 year after submitting a manuscript before it is published and, more often than not, it is closer to 2 years.

Tony also talked about the research that is involved in writing books.  He firmly believes it is essential to go to a place that he is writing about.  For example, if you are writing about Tahiti then you must visit Tahiti.  Otherwise, it’s possible to get the facts wrong, which kills interest in the book.  The sand in Tahiti is grey because it is volcanic so writing about the white sands on the beaches in Tahiti is a giveaway that the author does not know the facts.

Several years ago Tony sailed on the replica of the Endeavour from Melbourne to Sydney.  It took 5 days to get to Eden where they rested for 5 days then another 4 days from Eden to Sydney.  One of the many highlights was seeing Point Hicks, the first part of eastern Australia seen by Captain Cook.

More information about Tony’s books

28th Jun 2019 – Excursion on the Light Rail


Friday 28th Jun 30 members ventured out to Gungahlin and caught the new tram into Civic. Some had problems with their MyWay cards not wanting to register on the “Tap-on Tap-off” screen (due to lack of use??) but there were two things in their favour. Being off-peak it was free for all anyway (even for those youngsters who have not yet turned 70). More importantly, there were no inspectors roaming the carriages asking those whose cards did not work for proof of their payment of $0.00. It was a beautiful morning sitting outdoors in the sun having a leisurely coffee in Civic. After returning to Gungahlin, most headed for the Raiders Club for lunch and even more discussions and laughs.

Light Rail trip Canberra
Guys on Light Rail

14th Jun 2019 – First Aid and CPR by Bruce McAslan

Information from Newsletter #479 of 21st Jun 2019.  50 Members attended

Bruce McAslan is a highly experienced first aid trainer having been in this field for over 30 years.

Starting off with some basic common sense suggestions like knowing where the defibrillator is located, how to get it off the wall and how to use it, he moved onto descriptions of the lungs and how they operate to effectively supply oxygen to the body. Alveoli are an important part of the respiratory system whose function it is to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide molecules to and from the bloodstream. These tiny, balloon-shaped air sacs sit at the very end of the respiratory tree and are arranged in clusters throughout the lungs. Spread out flat, they would occupy half a tennis court.

Bruce then explained the difference between clinical and biological death. Clinical death means complete and irreversible stoppage of circulation, respiration and brain functions. This may be reversible – i.e. a person can be revived if it is not too late. Bruce pointed out that if the heart stops, the brain can continue for five or six minutes.

Biological death is death at molecular or cellular level. It means death of cells and tissues individually. It usually takes place one to two hours after stoppage of vital functions of body. This is irreversible.

Bruce then told us about DRSABCD which stands for ‘First Aid at a glance’.

If someone has collapsed, follow the DRSABCD technique which involves:

  • D for Danger – ensure the area is safe for you and the patient
  • R for Response – Try to get the patient awake – knock hard on collarbone if no response to questions
  • S for Send for help – Call 000
  • A for Airway – make sure airway is clear – use fingers to remove any foreign material
  • B for breathing – check for breathing. If not normal, commence CPR
  • C for CPR – Continue CPR until help arrives
  • D for Defibrillation – If available, apply the defibrillator and follow the voice prompts.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a lifesaving technique useful in many emergencies, including a heart attack or near drowning, in which someone’s breathing or heartbeat has stopped.

If the patient is not breathing, it is important to commence CPR without delay and to continue it until the patient breathes normally or an ambulance arrives. Pain from a heart attack affects people differently. Skin becomes pale, the patient becomes agitated, breathing is shallow and the patient can become confused.

Defibrillators come in many different forms but they all do the same thing and they all have the same voice commands. They deliver a shock of around 150 Joules to convert ventricular fibrillation without the undue damage to heart muscle that is possible with higher energy shocks. The defibrillator will only deliver a shock if it is necessary to do so to correct the heart rhythm. If using a defibrillator, make sure no one is touching the patient or is capable being shocked (for example on a wet floor).
The other advice Bruce passed on is that when someone is unconscious, hearing is the last sense to go and you need to be careful not to say anything inappropriate about the patient’s condition in their hearing.

This was a great presentation by Bruce and delivered with passion and experience   See photos

Bruce with Defibrillator

7th Jun 2019 – Ian Irwin – Restoration of an interesting Rolls Royce

Information from Newsletter #478 of 14th Jun 2019.  57 Members attended.

Ian Irwin first discovered the remains of a very significant Rolls Royce (Chassis number 1404) in south western NSW in 1975. At that time the car was 65 years and had been dismembered with various parts used for a trailer and other purposes.

The car, which has now been christened Eleanor in deference to her amazing backstory, has been in Ian’s possession and under restoration since 1981 or thereabouts and it is the actual car which conceived the legendary Rolls-Royce Spirit of Ecstasy mascot. Ian has had to search the world to find parts needed for the restoration.

Introduced in 1907, the 40/50hp or Silver Ghost remained in production until 1926. Originally powered by a 7,036cc six-cylinder engine, this was increased to 7,428cc in 1909 and was designated by the English car magazine Autocar as ‘the best car in the world’. Incredibly a total of 7874 Silver Ghost cars were produced from 1907 to 1926 and it is understood that some 200 cars were sold new in Australia.

Ian has a complete history of Eleanor starting from its original delivery to Lord Montagu of Beaulieu in December 1910. He has been in touch with Lord Montagu’s descendants consistently throughout the years since he found the remains of the car in 1981, and Lord Montagu visited Ian’s Canberra home in the 1980s, along with H.R.H. Prince Michael of Kent, and they saw the car very much as it was when found. Ian has sent many photographs over the years to Lord Montagu showing the progress of the car’s restoration and a further visit is planned shortly.

Ian has also written two books about Rolls Royce cars including ‘Silver Ghosts Of Australia And New Zealand’ (a limited edition of 350).

Click here for more information about this magnificent Rolls Royce Silver Ghost.

Historic Rolls Royce
Ian Irwin's Rolls Royce Silver Ghost

24th May 2019 – Geoscience Australia Visit

Information from Newsletter #476 of 31st May 2019.  34 Members attended. Thanks Natalie and Chris for organising such an informative tour and thanks also to Ron Thomson for organising this visit.

Geoscience Australia is the national agency for geoscience research and geospatial information. Its research and information provides input for decisions that impact upon resource use, management of the environment, and the safety and well-being of Australians.

Last Friday we visited Geosciences Australia’s mineral and fossil collection at Symonston – a collection of fossils and some 15,000 minerals and 90 meteorite specimens. It includes a number of distinctive specimens featured in the ‘Minerals of Broken Hill’ publication.

Natalie Schroeder and Chris Fitzgerald organised an excellent tour of the minerals and fossil collection at GA. This included a visit to the working areas of the organisation not normally available to visitors. We saw a very large collection of quite valuable minerals and fossils which Chris was tasked with photographing for inclusion in their minerals website.

Minerals are Australia’s largest export worth some $220 billion dollars in 2017-2018. We have the world’s largest resources of gold, iron ore, lead, nickel, rutile, uranium, zinc and zircon as well as the second largest resources of bauxite, cobalt, copper, ilmenite, niobium, silver, tantalum and thorium.

Australia’s resources of black coal, brown coal, magnesite, tungsten, lithium, manganese ore, rare earths and vanadium are ranked in the top five in the world.

Geoscience Australia also has a wonderful café where many members enjoyed lunch after the tour.  There are other activities at Geoscience Australia that would be well worth a visit if this can be arranged. Two such areas are earthquake monitoring and map data and production.

Google Photos of the visit  | View picture of Geoscience Australia’s Collection on the web

3rd May 2019 – Exercise Assessment Day with Support from Tori Montgomery-Martin from the Uni of Canberra

The University of Canberra offered to run further exercise classes, similar to the ones provided in March 2016. The first session, for fitness assessment, was from 8:30am to 9:15am on Friday 3 May at the Shed. After the assessments are completed, exercises classes will be held each Friday, at the Shed at 8:30am. There is a $5.00 cost per day for attendees. You must do the assessment before you can participate in the exercise classes.

Google Photos of the Assessment

26th April 2019 – Visit to Mulligans Flat and BBQ Picnic at nearby Forde

On a superb Autumn day some 35 members attended the Shed for our excursion to Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary for a Picnic BBQ.

After arriving, members took a short walk to Mulligans Flat Woolshed which houses not only the remnants of the early woolshed but also functions as an information centre. Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary is surrounded by what’s called a Predator-Proof Fence. This fence protects the sanctuary from feral animals such as foxes, cats and rabbits. Thanks to this fence, the sanctuary has been able to reintroduce species to the area that have been locally extinct for over 60 years. These include the Eastern Bettong, the Eastern Quoll and the Bush Stone-Curlew.

We enjoyed a great Sausage Sizzle thanks to our long serving sausage chefs, Geoff Grimmett and Paul Taylor. The excursion was judged by all be a great success.

More about Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary | Google Photo album for photos

12th April 2019 – ACT NoWaste Discovery Hub Visit

Information from Newsletter #466 of 15th Mar 2019.  58 Members & visitors attended. Thanks to Michelle and to Rick Causebrook for organising this tour.

The Recycling Discovery Hub is located at the ACT’s Materials Recovery Facility – where recycling is sorted. Visitors can interact with a hands on recycling exhibition, see the facility through a virtual reality experience and discuss recycling with facilitators.

Our tour, hosted by Michelle Glaznieks of ACT NoWaste, commenced with a welcome and introductory presentation which explored the process of sorting and grading the 200 tons of recyclables which arrive at the centre each day. We enjoyed a CCTV run-through of the Materials Recovery Facility and discussions on waste management practices and how physical properties of materials are used to sort and separate products.

After manual removal of contaminants (some 20%) and sorting, the resultant products are separated and sold. Paper and cardboard is sold to Visy in Tumut to be made into packaging materials. Steel, aluminium and plastics are sold to other refiners and glass is crushed into a very fine, non-abrasive, silky-to-the-feel sand which is used, among other uses, as a road base.

We learned about what should or should not be placed in our yellow topped recycling bin. Acceptable items which must be ‘unbagged’ are rigid plastic containers (but put the lids into normal garbage bin), steel cans (including aerosol cans), aluminium cans and foil (roll it up into a ball), paper and cardboard and glass jars and bottles. Plastics must be recyclable #1, #2, #3 or #5.

Common contaminants include plastic bags, soft plastics, polystyrene, electrical goods, clothing and bulky items and any type #4 or #7 plastics – all of which have to be removed and go to landfill.
The centre accepts recyclables from Canberra, Queanbeyan and Yass.

Photos of the Visit

8th Mar 2019 – Dedication of the Don Gruber Room

Information from Newsletter #471 of 26th Apr 2019.  29 Members & visitors attended

Don Gruber was the driving force behind the founding of Melba Shed (a Mens Shed) in 2008.  Don had the foresight and determination as well as the contacts through Rotary and the Uniting Church to establish a Men’s Shed.  The aim was to attract retired men in Melba and the surrounding suburbs to socialise, be entertained and be educated.

President Roger Amos welcomed the visitors.  He said that Don had great respect from all Shedders, particularly the committee, because he was so willing to help out in any way.  He was an important link with Rotary, which continues to support the Shed.  The average weekly attendance of 50+ shows the success of the Shed.

Ken Hogan said that Don was a remarkable man who had been involved with many community issues, not just Rotary and the Shed.  He was a leader whose driving force resulted in the success of everything he was involved with.

Barry Howe was one of the original members when the Shed was established in 2008.  Don first had the idea of finding a means of socialising when he found himself adrift in Washington for two years, without a US Green Card and unable to work, while his wife Betty was working at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Don Gruber Plaque
Plaque about Don Gruber

He checked out the spouse/partner associations run by the IMF and World Bank.  When he returned to Canberra he visited the Men’s Shed in Boorowa, where he had grown up.  Initially, Don had the idea of a traditional Men’s Shed model, with wood and metal working.  However, he was happy to try anything that might work, with table tennis being an early option.  If something worked then it was continued, otherwise it was discarded.  The current, very successful model gradually evolved.  Don was the driver behind having Ginninderra Rotary and the Melba Uniting Church as joint sponsors.

Stuart Allan (the first President) was the next to pay tribute to Don.  Stuart said that Don initially used ABS census data to check out the numbers of retirees in Belconnen and concluded there were sufficient numbers to support a Men’s Shed.  Don anticipated about 20 attending regularly but word of mouth has resulted in that number being a gross underestimate, with over 100 on the members’ list and 50+ attending on average each week.  Jon Stanhope (then the ACT Chief Minister) was invited to officially open the Shed.  Don was concerned that only a handful would be there so he organised a “rent a crowd” from Le Gallienne Street to attend, most of whom became regulars.  During the first year the program became two guest speakers per month, plus an excursion each month and a BBQ on the last Friday.  That year, 26 speakers presented sessions on diverse issues, some of which continue to be of interest a decade or so later (e.g. alternative energy, very fast train, climate change).  Stuart thanked Don both for his ideas and his drive in implementing them.

Reverend Tim Jensen reiterated that it was Don’s thoughtfulness, vision and energy that has led to the Shed we know today.  Don’s attitude was “let’s try this and see how it goes”.  Tim is very happy to see this attitude continues in the Shed.  He confirmed that the Uniting Church sees incredible value in the Shed and completely supports its activities.

Bernie Rees said that Don and Ken Hogan approached him about building a Shed (one of the initial proposals was to build a Shed on a site in Scullin).  However, the North Belconnen Uniting Church offered the use of a former community centre building.  Bernie was instrumental in building the extensions several years ago so that the Shed could cater for the numbers wanting to attend each week.

Harry Redfern (the 2nd President) read the poem he had composed What Did Don Do?

Don’s wife Betty the pulled the string that unveiled the “Don Gruber Room

Betty said that Don would be honoured to have the room named after him.  He became involved when Ginninderra Rotary was looking for a community project to support.  His time in Washington and the Boorowa Shed gave him the idea of establishing a Men’s Shed.

The Shed was very important to Don.  He loved a chat and made some great friends through the Shed.  Even though he was a committee member he liked to work in the background.  New ideas were important no matter who they came from.  He saw the OAM that he was awarded a few years ago as the recognition of many people, not just him.  Betty said the greatest legacy for Don would be to keep the Shed going.

Geoff Grimmett unveiled a plaque on the wall, dedicated to the “Father of the Shed”.  Geoff said that one of Don’s favourite sayings was “It sounds like a plan”.

The crowd in attendance adjourned to a wonderful luncheon.  Our thanks to those involved, particularly the ladies from the North Belconnen Uniting Church.

Photo Album of the event

Photo Album of pictures containing Don Gruber on Shed Activities (ex Walks) 2009 – 2016

Photo Album of pictures containing Don Gruber on Shed Walks. This covers from July 2010 until Feb 2016

Collage for Don gruber Room Dedication
Dedication of the Don Gruber Room

1st Feb 2019 – The Operation of the Snowy Mountains Scheme – John Edge

Information from Newsletter #461 of 8th Feb 2019.  56 Members attended

John worked in the power industry in several states and as a system controller in the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority (now Snowy-Hydro Ltd.) from 1981 to 1992. Note: The following is an edited version of John’s presentation. Click here for the full details.

There is a great deal of information about the Snowy Mountains Scheme available on the internet and from various other sources. This information generally relates to the size and location of the Scheme, how much it cost, what its purpose was, and the general history of its construction. Constructing the Snowy Mountains Scheme started in 1949 and it commenced commercial operation in 1955 with electrical energy generation from the Guthega Power Station. Construction continued to completion in 1974. The large amount of information about the Snowy Mountains Scheme does not include any definitive information about how the Scheme is actually operated. John’s presentation remedied that deficiency.


The Snowy Mountains Scheme was intended to provide water storage for irrigation areas planned for the Murrumbidgee and Murray rivers. The waters of the Snowy River and its tributaries were to be diverted to storage in the Snowy Mountains for further diversion via trans-mountain tunnels to the main irrigation storages on the western side of the Great Dividing Range. The Snowy water would no longer flow east and south of the Great Divide to discharge into Bass Strait but would be diverted inland for irrigation. The storage capacity of the reservoirs of the Snowy Mountains Scheme was planned to meet the needs of a drought equal to the worst recorded drought to that time, 1949, which had a duration of 10 years.

This massive storage of water at high altitude has potential energy which must be dissipated before the water is released at the low altitude irrigation storages. This potential energy is not dissipated to waste but harnessed to produce mechanical energy by passing it through water turbines which in turn use that energy to drive generators which convert the energy to electrical energy. The generation of electrical energy can be considered as a by-product of the requirement to discharge water from high altitude storage to low altitude storage. The need for irrigation water has a seasonal component while the need for electrical energy is a daily one. The operation of the scheme must take into consideration the requirements of meeting both water and energy needs. The Snowy Mountains Scheme is considered to be the most complex hydro-electric scheme in the world from an operational perspective because of the many factors involved in long-term and short-term operation to satisfy immediate needs while retaining storage of water for major drought relief; the real reason for its existence.

One Scheme of Two Developments:

The Snowy Mountains Scheme comprises two separate hydro-electric developments. There is the Snowy-Tumut Development which discharges water to the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, and the Snowy-Murray Development which discharges water to the Murray Irrigation Area.

Snowy Mountains Scheme Water Storage:

The major water storage in the Scheme is Lake Eucumbene with an active storage capacity of 4,366,500,000 cubic metres. The water stored in Lake Eucumbene is accounted for in two water accounts. Most of the water is allocated to the Snowy-Tumut Development for release to the Murrumbidgee irrigation storage at Blowering Reservoir which has an active storage capacity of 1,608,400,000 cubic metres. The remaining water is allocated to the Snowy-Murray development for release to the Murray irrigation storage at Lake Hume. Lake Hume is not usually recognised as a component of the Scheme. The Hume Dam, owned and operated by NSW, was raised to increase storage, partly, at the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority’s expense because no suitable site for a new major irrigation water storage was available between Khancoban Regulating Pondage and the Hume Dam. Lake Hume has a storage capacity of 3,005,157,000 cubic metres.

The other water storages are:

Snowy-Tumut Development storages:

StorageActive storage capacity (cubic metres)
Tantangara Reservoir238,800,000
Happy Jacks Reservoir234,000
Tumut Pond Reservoir50,000,000
Tumut 2 Pondage2,150
Talbingo Reservoir160,400,000
Jounama Pondage27,800,000
Tooma Reservoir25,400,000

Snowy-Murray Development storages:

StorageActive storage capacity (cubic metres)
Guthega Reservoir1,280,000
Island Bend Reservoir2,320,000
Lake Jindabyne389,000,000
Geehi Reservoir13,000,000
Murray 2 Head Pondage1,480,000
Khancoban Regulating Pondage20,100,000

The Water Storage Interconnections

The water storages are interconnected, in the main, by large tunnels.

For the Snowy-Tumut Development the most significant tunnel is the Eucumbene-Tumut tunnel. This tunnel is a two-way tunnel and transfers water between Lake Eucumbene and Tumut Pond Reservoir. Water from Happy Jacks Reservoir can enter this tunnel from Happy Jacks Junction Shaft. Water in excess of generation requirements is diverted to storage in Lake Eucumbene and, when required, water for generation through Tumut 1 and Tumut 2 Power Stations can be drawn from Lake Eucumbene storage. Other significant tunnels of the Snowy-Tumut Development are the Murrumbidgee-Eucumbene tunnel which transfers water from storage in the Tantangara Reservoir to storage in Lake Eucumbene, and the Tooma-Tumut tunnel which transfers water from Tooma Reservoir to Tumut Pond Reservoir. The water harvested into this tunnel is drawn from the Murray River Catchment and in the water accounting system is credited to the Snowy-Murray Development.

For the Snowy-Murray Development the most significant tunnel is the Eucumbene-Snowy tunnel. This tunnel is a two-way tunnel and transfers water between Lake Eucumbene and Island Bend Reservoir. Water from the Burrungubugge River can enter this tunnel at the Burrungubugge Intake. Water in excess of generation requirements is diverted to storage in Lake Eucumbene and water for generation through Murray 1 and Murray 2 Power Stations can be drawn from Lake Eucumbene storage and diverted to the Snowy-Geehi tunnel. Another significant tunnel of the Snowy-Murray Development is the Jindabyne-Island Bend tunnel which provides for water stored in Lake Jindabyne to be pumped by Jindabyne Pumping Station into the Snowy-Geehi tunnel for transfer to Geehi Reservoir for generation through Murray 1 and Murray 2 Power Stations. At times of high inflows into Geehi Reservoir it allows diversion of Geehi water into Lake Jindabyne storage. Yet another tunnel is the Snowy-Geehi tunnel which connects Island Bend to Geehi Reservoir, the head pond for Murray 1 Power Station.

Other Water Conduits

(A diagram showing the links is on page 8)
In the Snowy-Tumut Development the water required for generation passes from Tumut Pond Reservoir (Head Pond for Tumut 1 Power Station.) through the following:

Tumut 1 Pressure Tunnel and penstocks to
Tumut 1 Power Station to
Tumut 1 Tailrace Tunnel to
Tumut 2 Pondage (Head Pond for Tumut 2) to
Tumut 2 Pressure Tunnel and penstocks to
Tumut 2 Power Station to
Tumut 2 Tailrace Tunnel to
Talbingo Reservoir (Head Pond for Tumut 3) to
Tumut 3 Head Race Channel to
Tumut 3 Penstocks to
Tumut 3 Power Station to
Jounama Pondage (the lower-level reservoir for Tumut 3 pumped storage operation.)

Water in excess of lower-level storage required for pumped storage operation is discharged from Jounama Pondage into Blowering Reservoir for irrigation storage. Since 2010 this discharge has been through the Jounama Small Hydro Power Station. During seasonal irrigation water release, water from Blowering Reservoir runs through the Blowering Power Station.

In the Snowy-Murray Development the water required for generation passes from Geehi Reservoir (Head Pond for Murray 1 Power Station.) through:

Murray 1 Pressure Tunnel and penstocks to
Murray 1 Power Station to
Murray 1 Tailwater Pondage to
Tailwater weir into Murray 2 Pondage (Head Pond for Murray 2 Power Station) to
Murray 2 Pressure Tunnel and penstocks to
Murray 2 Power Station to
Murray 2 Tailwater Channel to
Khancoban Regulating Pondage.

Water discharged into Khancoban Regulating Pondage is discharged from the Pondage under strictly observed regulating rules into the Swampy Plains River via a long discharge channel and into irrigation storage in Lake Hume. During seasonal irrigation water release from Lake Hume, water is released via the Hume Power Station.

Two other components of the Snowy-Murray Development are easily overlooked – the Guthega Power Station and Jindabyne Pumping Station.

The Guthega development consists of the Guthega Reservoir, the Guthega Pressure Tunnel and Penstocks, the Guthega Power Station and the Guthega Tailwater Pond. Water discharged from the generators overflows the tailwater pond and flows down the natural course of the Snowy River to Island Bend Reservoir.

The Jindabyne development consists of the Jindabyne Dam on the Snowy River (downstream of Island Bend Reservoir and forming Lake Jindabyne), the Jindabyne Pumping Station and Jindabyne-Island Bend Tunnel. The Jindabyne Pumping Station performs the function of pumped diversion. The pumping energy consumed by the pumps is covered by the greater energy developed by the water pumped as it flows through the Murray 1 and Murray 2 turbines. At Jindabyne Dam a mini-hydro station utilises water being released for riparian and environmental flow to the Snowy River.

Operations Planning

The Snowy Mountains Scheme was designed and constructed for the principal purpose of providing irrigation water storage for major drought relief. A specialised group within the Snowy Hydro Ltd management are tasked with studying the current water storage situation and weather forecasts and projecting water storage targets from the short-term day-to-day targets to annual targets looking up to ten years into the future.

Water releases to the irrigation storages of the Murrumbidgee and Murray are very closely monitored, and so storage targets set must be followed as closely as possible. Unfortunately, the electrical energy demands on Snowy generation can vary wildly from what was originally forecast at the start of the day so the targets become moving ones operating under constant revision.

Operations Control

Operators (“Snowy System Controllers”) work 24/7 shifts in the Snowy Mountains Control Centre. They are part of a group responsible for the operation and control of the hydraulic works and the power stations.

The only means of transferring water from high altitude storage into the low altitude irrigation storages is via the power stations. If the operational targets place priority on Murrumbidgee water then generation priority will be the Snowy-Tumut power stations; if the priority is Murray water then generation priority will be Snowy-Murray power stations. Sometimes, and often, the demand of the system for generation will exceed the capacity of one development to meet that demand and generation must be scheduled to both developments. Depending on the anticipated demand the controller may have to make hydraulic operations to ensure water is available for generation at a time and rate that ensures that power stations do not have to restrict generation due to lack of water.

In an AC electrical power system it is essential that the generation producing energy closely matches the connected loads consuming energy. The generation in the Snowy Mountains Scheme is frequently the generation used to match load variations and so provide system frequency control services to the Grid. A dedicated computer system calculates the amount that needs to be generated.


This presentation on the Operation of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme demonstrates the complexity of the scheme and the competing demands for its water for irrigation and for generating electricity.


25th Jan 2019 – My Australian Story – Luke Wensing

Information from Newsletter #460 of 25th Jan 2019. 45 Members attended.

Luke’s parents migrated from Holland in 1953, when he was a 3-year-old. Luke compared Holland and Australia in 1950 – Holland had a population of about 10 million in an area of 42,500 square kms while Australia had almost the same population (about 9 million) but in an area of 7.6 million square kms.

Luke’s family lived in Breda, about 50kms from Rotterdam. They travelled by ship (the MS Sibajak). The trip was 23,000kms and took 6 weeks because they came via the Panama Canal to drop mail and supplies in Dutch colonies. After spending a few months in a migrant camp in Sydney they arrived in Canberra in October 1953. They settled in Russell Hill (now Campbell), with a nice view of Mount Ainslie from their home.

Luke’s Dad became a painter, along with many other Dutchmen. His Mum taught Fashion and Design at Saint Clare’s for 17 years. She then became renowned as a lace maker and embroiderer extraordinaire and was internationally recognised for her talents.

The new Parliament House opened in 1988 and new adornments were created for formal events. A Chabeau (neck ruffle) was created by a small team of Lace makers, including Luke’s Mum, for the House of Reps Sergeant at Arms.

Luke concluded by saying it is a quaint proposition that Australia has the English language. It could have just as easily been Dutch or Spanish or Portuguese or even German. With all due respect, we might even have taken up an indigenous language.

As it is, with the global migration events we have many languages here in this great country. Let’s embrace mankind and welcome all!


18th Jan 2019 – Talk by Warwick Fulton, President of St Vincent de Paul (SVdP), Canberra/Goulburn

Information from Newsletter #459 of 18th Jan 2019. 48 Members attended.

Ron Thomson introduced Warwick Fulton, President of St Vincent de Paul (SVdP) Canberra/Goulburn. Warwick ran a strata management business until his “retirement” about 11 years ago. However, retirement did not really mean retiring; it simply meant swapping a well-paid job for a non-paid job.

SVdP’s motto is “A hand-up to anyone in need”. The Society was founded in France by a group of young men in 1833. It is named after the Patron Saint of Christian charity, St Vincent de Paul. Today the Society has more than 800,000 members in over 153 countries.

The SVdP Society aspires to be recognised as a caring lay Catholic charity offering a hand up to people in need. They do so by respecting their dignity, sharing hope and encouraging them to take control of their own destiny.

The Branch covers a large area, extending from Lake Cargelligo in the west, as far north as Taralga, south to the Victorian border in the Kosciuszko National Park and across to the NSW south coast from Batemans Bay to the Victorian border.

People are the core of SVdP’s good works. Over the past year the Society has relied on the support of 693 members, 1500 volunteers and 147 employees. In the 2017-18 financial year Vinnies provided more than $2,000,000 worth of assistance, almost half of which was in-kind (clothing, food etc).

The 2016 population census showed there were 39,311 people experiencing homelessness in NSW and the ACT, with 1,596 of them in Canberra.

Across Australia SVdP provided support to 42,556 people in 2017-18. The vast majority of those assisted are on government assistance and in public housing. Single persons or sole parents are the dominant household composition and more than 17% are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders. About two-thirds of those seeking assistance are females. The annual turnover of those being supported is about 30%.

Each increase in the number of different addresses reported by an individual is associated with a 26% increase in the number of requests per person. If the time volunteers spend providing assistance increases by one hour then, on average, the requests per person decrease by 25%.

Last year volunteers in the Canberra/Goulburn conference contributed to the following:-

  • 12,061 serves by over 400 volunteers on the Night Patrol vans.
  • Youth team attended 12 camps and 18 weekend activities, with 305 young people accessing respite and recreation.
  • 20 volunteers supported the VINES (VINNIES, INSPIRING, NETWORKING, EDUCATION and SUPPORT) program in partnership with Scouts ACT to engage 22 young people.
  • 26 people have connected to 24 volunteers through the Compeer program.
  • Volunteers at Blue Door served over 51,000 breakfasts and lunches.
  • 80 students in the Clemente program were supported by 20 volunteer learning mentors.
  • 72 “Street to home” case workers assisted about 180 rough sleepers with outreach services.
  • Family and Youth Homelessness Services assisted 652 adults and children.
  • Samaritan House is the only provider of crisis accommodation for single men in the ACT and experiences a huge demand for its twelve bedrooms (approximately 150 men last year).
  • Long-term secured housing was obtained for 312 families.

Volunteers in 27 centres contributed 272,998 hours assisting Vinnies with its various programs.

The Vinnies shopfronts are well-known throughout the region. An upgrading program has been progressing with 10 centres having their heating and cooling improved last year and two new centres were opened (in Kippax and Cooleman Court).

The “Thread Together” program obtains new, end-of-range designer clothing, which is supplied at no cost to job applicants so they can turn up at interviews respectably dressed.

Vinnies engages regularly with the students at 15 Catholic and 10 non-Catholic secondary schools within the Canberra/Goulburn Archdiocese. The program has also been extended to primary schools with 28 Catholic and 2 non-Catholic primary schools in the ACT and Queanbeyan plus 22 Catholic primary schools in regional NSW.

The CEO Sleepout is an important fund-raising initiative, which is coming up for its tenth year in 2019. It not only raises money (about $460k last year) but is an important publicity vehicle. For example, Canberra Toyota donated a van to Vinnies last year and pro bono legal and accounting services have been provided as a result of the publicity associated with the sleepout.

Total revenue in 2018 was $16.6m, consisting of $4.0m in government grants, $9.2m from sale of goods, $1.2m client contributions, $2.0m fundraising, and $0.2m other revenue.

SVdP lobbies for social justice. The work promoting the importance of safe and appropriate housing for all, through a housing first approach, has continued throughout the year. The CEO and his team have been agitating for a much greater financial commitment from the ACT Government in its Affordable Housing Strategy.

The costs of housing are a major driver of poverty. The current level of Federal and State benefit payments amount to living below the poverty line.

The number of homeless persons in the ACT increased rapidly from 2001 to 2011 but has since stabilised, albeit at a fairly high level.

ABS Census Data

Australia-wide, the number of homeless has increased from 95,314 in 2001 to 116,427 in 2016 (around 0.5% share of the population in each of those years). The older generation is at increased risk – there has been a 1000% increase between 2001 and 2016 in homeless people over 55 years old.

The number of persons living in severely-crowded dwellings has increased from 33,430 in 2001 to 51,088 in 2016, which is a 53% increase (SVdP has observed that people in severely-crowded dwellings have a high risk of becoming homeless).

Australia-wide the shortfall in social and affordable housing is about 430,000 properties. In Canberra, no private rental accommodation is affordable (defined as not more than 30% of income) to someone on Centrelink benefits.

SVdP is lobbying governments to recognise every Australian’s right to a basic and acceptable level of housing. In October 2016, SVdP submitted a strategic plan to the ACT Government “RIGHT TO HOUSING: A proposal to amend the Human Rights Act 2004 to include the right to adequate housing”.

Activities Held 2018 (2015, 2016 & 2017 Below)

All items are in reverse date order starting with the latest at the top and oldest at the bottom

The following is an outline of major shed excursions and special activities that been held. Many of the pictures taken are stored on the sheds Google Photos web presence

14th Dec 2018 – Excursion to the ‘Cook & the Pacific’ Exhibition at National Library

Information from Newsletter #456 of 21st Dec 2018. 32 Members attended.

The exhibition was a large collection of photos & drawings collected from all over showing the work of Cook & his colleagues over his 3 momentous voyages to the Pacific area. Here are a few photos of some of the exhibit

On this Friday we travelled to the National Library of Australia to view their “Cook and the Pacific” exhibition. Despite the prevailing weather conditions, we had an excellent roll-up for this event.

This amazing exhibition included many treasures from the period when Lieutenant James Cook set sail from Plymouth in August 1768 right through to the conclusion of his incredible voyages to the Pacific islands some 250 years ago. The most remarkable thing about this world-class collection is that it includes some of Cook’s own handwritten (i.e. original) journals, letters and maps, together with samples of the journals, letters, maps, drawings, paintings and writings of those officers, sailors, scientists, botanists and draughtsmen that accompanied Cook on his voyages. It also presents a record of the interaction with, and the culture of, the indigenous islander populations their voyages encountered.

Just a few examples of the rare and interesting items on display in this exhibition are as follows:

  • A letter of “Hints offered to the consideration of Captain Cooke, Mr Bankes, Doctor Solander and the other gentlemen who go upon the Expedition on Board the Endeavour” from the President of the Royal Society, Lord James Douglas, 14th Earl of Morton (1702-1768), immediately prior to their departure to the Pacific in 1768 (note: spellings as per actual letter);
    The following verbatim extracts noted from this letter were remarkable. The directives contained therein reflect a very enlightened and concerned attitude for peoples the voyagers would encounter, one that the politicians or leaders of that time (or today for that matter!) may not have committed to as generously;
    “To exercise the utmost patience and forbearance with respect to the Natives of the several Lands where the ship may touch”
    “To have it still in view that shedding the blood of these people is a crime of the highest nature. Conquest over such people give no just title, because they could never be the aggressors”
    “They are human creatures the work of the same omnipotent author, equally under his care with the most polished European, perhaps being less offensive, more entitled to his favor”
    “They are the natural, and in the strictest sense of the word, the legal pofefors (i.e. possessors) of the several Regions they inhabit”
    “No European nation has the right to occupy any part of their country or settle among them without their voluntary consent.”
  • Cooks original Journal and entry from Saturday 30 October 1772, from his Second Pacific Voyage between 28 November 1771 and 10 November 1774. This exhibit item was truly “living history” and it was fascinating to reflect on the circumstances of the times in which it was written.
  • Naval architectural plans of HMB’s (Her Majesty’s Barks) Endeavour (1768) and Resolution (circa 1772)
  • Cook’s geometric quadrant to sight and measure the altitude of the celestial objects, and to check the astronomical clocks.
  •  Lunar tables, an almanac of the positions of celestial bodies, calculated on the basis of the previous observations.
  • Watercolours of the South East coast of Tahiti from August 1777, by William Ellis, assistant surgeon and part-time artist
  • Ink charts of New Zealand voyages.
  • Map of New Zealand compiled by James Cook (1728-1779) and Isaac Smith (1752-1831)
  • A remarkable record by John Elliott (who was a 13-year old boy sailor on The Resolution during Cook’s voyages), written later in life, circa early 19th century. This records his amazing and unique recollections of the crew members he served with, noting such things as their ages, personal traits and natures etc.
  • A detailed ‘Broadsheet’ giving a detailed account of how Cook was killed by the native peoples.
  • A poignant item – a “formal dress outfit”, still unfinished, that was being made by Mrs Elizabeth Cook for her husband to wear to official functions on his ultimate return home (which of course never happened). Elizabeth lived on for 56 years after Cook’s death in 1779, dying at age 93 and outliving her children.

View some photos of some example display items included in this fascinating world-class collection

Leaving the exhibition, the majority of Shed members adjourned to the fourth floor to view the excellent “Beauty Rich and Rare” sound and light experience that relates the work of Joseph Banks and his team of botanists, scientists and artists, as they encountered Australia’s wide variety of flora and fauna for the first time. Then off to coffee! A good morning was had by all.

7th Dec 2018 –  Stuart Allan Presented on the History of the America’s Cup

Information from Newsletter #455 of 14th Dec 2018. 57 Members attended.

On this Friday Stuart Allan, fellow Shed member, Foundation President and keen competition yachtsman, gave an entertaining presentation on the ‘History of the America’s Cup’. Stuart advised that this history was to a large extent the history of the New York Yacht Club.

To the Yankees of the 1840’s, the frivolous English idea of sailing for pleasure smacked of old-world decadence. Despite that, in 1844 the NYYC was formed with eight registered yachts.

In 1850 an English merchant suggested to some New York businessmen that an American boat be sent to the UK to compete in regattas to be held in conjunction with the World Fair.

In 1851 the yacht ‘America’, based on an American pilot boat design, was sent. It won its race so convincingly that when Queen Victoria enquired which boat came second, she was advised ‘Your Majesty, there is no second’.

The cup awarded for the race became known as ‘The America’s Cup’. In 1887 it was presented to the NYYC as an international trophy. For 132 years the Americans won every competition through great sailing, blatant rule manipulation, and superior boat design.

Stuart presented several slides showing how yacht designs developed.

In the early days of America’s Cup racing the yachts were large (about 100 tons) and therefore extremely expensive. They were funded by very wealthy businessmen, including Sir Thomas Lipton (the tea baron) and J.P. Morgan (a New York banker). To open the field, smaller classes of boats were introduced. The smaller boats were still expensive but did enable Australian syndicates funded by businessmen such as Frank Packer and Alan Bond to compete.

In 1983 ‘Australia II’ won. It was a ’12 metre’ class boat with a weight of 22 tons. This was Alan Bond’s fourth attempt. Since then New Zealand and Switzerland have won, as well as America.

By 2013 catamarans of 6 tons were used. In 2021 ’AC75 class’ foiling monohulls will be used. These resemble aircraft rather than traditional boats.

Stuart gave the meeting a bit of a taste of America’s Cup racing in high performance catamarans. Click here if you would like to see more about these amazing craft, via some BBC footage of the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda.

Stuart’s comprehensive talk contained fascinating information about this amazing America’s Cup race, and its basis in the New York Yacht Club.

Click here to read Stuart’s full presentation.

23rd Nov 2018 – Professor John Williams – Water Reform

Information from Newsletter #453 of 30th Nov 2018. 48 Members attended. Ron Thomson organised Professor Williams’ attendance at Melba Shed.

We were privileged on Friday 23rd Nov 2018 to have Professor John Williams talk to us about the issues surrounding water reform and the impact of drought. John is a founding member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists and advocated for a rational debate on Australia’s water resources. His presentation to the Shed was largely based on water reform in the Murray-Darling Basin.

This can be a difficult task. Peter Cullen (co-founder of the Wentworth Group) says:
‘’Scientists entering into public debate need to understand that they are leaving a world where finding the truth is the most important goal, for a world where winning is most important. Some will find the techniques used by interest groups to pervert the science difficult to handle.”

The Wentworth Group has published a ‘Blueprint for a Living Continent’ which sets out what they believe are the key changes that need to be made to deliver a sustainable future for our continent and its people.

They believe there are five transformative, long-term economic and institutional reforms that Australia must implement if it is to create a healthy environment with a productive economy:

  1. Fix land and water use planning: We must put in place regional scale land and water use plans that address the cumulative impacts of development on the environment and the long-term costs to the economy.
  2. Use markets: We must eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, set a long-term emissions reduction target and introduce an equitable, broad-based land tax to finance programs that pay farmers, indigenous communities and other landholders to transform the way we manage the Australian landscape.
  3. Conserve natural capital: We must close the gaps in our national system of public and private reserves, and commit resources to a long-term plan to conserve our threatened native plants, animals and ecosystems.
  4. Regionalise management: We must embed and give prominence to natural resource management at the regional scale to reconnect people to the land, so that investment decisions are underpinned by an understanding of how landscapes function.
  5. Create environmental accounts: We must put in place regional scale, national environmental accounts that monitor the condition of our environmental assets, so that people can make better decisions to support a healthy and productive Australia.

We spent some time looking at rainfall statistics and the volumes of water being stored rather than allowed to flow to the sea. The key messages are:

  • storage capacity is 50% greater than the average flow of all rivers
  • carryover storages are essential to deal with climate variability
  • available water is heavily used – relatively small volumes remain to ensure healthy river.

Pre settlement river outflows were some 12,233GL/year. Currently they are only 4,733 GL/y and by 2030 are expected to be 3,575 GL/y and by 2050 3,482 GL/y.

We learned that our views that cotton and rice were the big users of irrigation water was not correct – in fact dairy cattle use some 62% of this water for grass growing purposes. Rice and cotton are now much water efficient due to better water application.

We learned that the Perth Seawater Desalination Plant, located in Kwinana, produces 45 billion litres of fresh drinking water a year – around 18% of Perth’s water supply. John was quite confident that in the future all large Australian cities would need desalination plants to ensure sufficient fresh water was available. Sydney currently uses 600 GL/year, Canberra 60 GL/year and Broken Hill uses 15 GL/year of fresh water.

John’s presentation was most comprehensive and this summary only covers part of the information he provided and there were many questions and observations made by Shed members during the presentation.

Please click here to View or download Professor Williams’ PowerPoint slides  |  Click here to read Professor Williams’ article ‘Water reform in the Murray – Darling Basin: a challenge in complexity in balancing social, economic and environmental perspectives’.

9th Nov 2018 – Andrew Geraghty  ‘The Aftermath of World War I’

Information from Newsletter #451 of 16th Nov 2018

At 11 am on 11 November 1918 the guns on the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare.
The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month attained a special significance in the post-war years.

From a population of fewer than five million, 416,809 Australians enlisted, of whom more than 60,000 were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner. When Britain declared war against Germany in August 1914, Australia, as a dominion of the British Empire, was automatically also at war.

On Friday 9th Nov 2018, thanks to Roger Amos, we welcomed back our guest speaker, Andrew Geraghty, who talked on the ‘The Aftermath of World War I’.

Andrew started his presentation by talking about the 1902 injustice metred out to Lieutenant Henry Harboard (Harry) ‘The Breaker’ Morant – the first person to be tried and shot for war crimes. Andrew suggested we should write to the Queen and ask that the British Government repeal Breaker Morant’s status as a traitor. Learn more about Breaker Morant.
Andrew told us that the outbreak of WWI was the 8th major impact of the 20th century which by the time of its ending had already seen the collapse of four monarchies, the Bolshevik Revolution and the redesign of European borders.

There were huge losses of life as a result of WW1:-

  • Serbia lost 16% of its population
  • Russia lost 9%
  • France lost 4.3%
  • Canada lost 1.0%
  • Australia lost 1.4%
  • New Zealand lost 1.6%

The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was about 40 million: estimates range from 15 to 19 million deaths and about 23 million wounded military personnel, ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history. The total number of deaths includes from 9 to 11 million military personnel.

Andrew stated that Australian troops were very badly treated overseas. They were treated as ‘colonials’ by the British offices who were mainly aristocrats who gained their commissions because of their positions in the class structures that pervaded Britain. Australian, New Zealand, Canadian and Indian troops were used by the British General Haig as ‘canon fodder’. Many Australian losses were in the Somme in a war of attrition. Haig simply calculated that the Allies had more soldiers than the Germans and that they would therefore prevail. The Somme was a nightmare of mud.

The argument has raged for 100 years over the performance of Haig and his generals; whether they did the best they could in the circumstances or if British and Australian troops were indeed ‘lions led by donkeys’. However, Australian General John Monash in 1918 showed the British how to mount a modern attack using aircraft, troops, cavalry and parachuting ammunition and food to troops on the ground. General Monash was knighted in the field by King George V – the first such knighting in 200 years.

In terms of direct costs, WWI cost Britain $186 Billion in direct costs and a further $150 Billion in indirect costs. These were huge sums at the time.

The aftermath of WW1 had a large impact on Australia and Australians:-

  • We no longer respected British officers (upper class) who saw us as colonials and second class citizens.
  • We saw ourselves as better soldiers than the British.
  • Australia became more democratic and socialist and without the war, this would have been unlikely. We developed a sense of social justice well before others – eg national pensions.
  • It was very hard for returnees to adjust to civilian life. Many could not adjust from a time spent in service with rules, sport and mateship but in civilian life they had none of this. Pensions were inadequate and many men were frightened or became bitter or violent.
  • Many returnees suffered from (what is now known as) PTSD but this was not accepted by senior returnees from earlier campaigns who accused them of malingering. The RSL has now become much more aware of, and sympathetic to, how it sees PTSD.
  • During the war, white feathers were often given to young, fit men who did not volunteer for service, even those exempted due to their roles in the war effort (eg people producing ammunition). Services Rendered badges were given to those who had been honourably discharged due to age, injury or illness to ensure that they were not accused of cowardice when they returned home.

Harry Redfern commenced our Remembrance Day commemorations with a rendition of ’In Flanders Fields’ – a poem written by John McCrae.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.


Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

2nd Nov 2018 – Visit to Private Gardens at “The Farm” Yarralumla

Information from Newsletter #450 of 9th Nov 2018

Many thanks to Ray Osmotherly who organised a special visit to a private garden not too far from Scrivener Dam. The garden which is not normally open to the public is broadly based on the Monet Gardens in Paris and is located at a property that the residents call ‘The Farm’ which is a 25 acre property located between lady Denman Dr & Yarralumla Ck.

The garden of around 5acres was established over the past 30 years by Mrs Anne Dawn. Anne does all the garden maintenance other than lawn mowing and has some help a few days a week from a gardener/handyman. The gardens were established from paddocks used for cattle and horse grazing. The first job was to have the area ripped by heavy equipment and then to bring in a large volume of quality garden soil.

The gardens are now magnificent and at their best, save the roses which are due to flower this week, just after our visit. There are ponds, water features, garden monuments lots of walkways to enjoy.

Following our tour, Shed members and wives/partners enjoyed morning tea at The Farm. Many thanks Anne for a most pleasant morning. There were 37 Shed Attendees plus some 6 wives/partners. Click  for some more great photos of our visit from Google Photos.

Pond in The Farm
Pond in the Gardens
Welcoming us to The farm

5th Oct 2018 – NSW War Service Land Settlement Scheme by Frank O’Rourke

Information from Newsletter #446 of 12th Oct 2018

Frank gave a fascinating insight into our history with relation to ex-servicemen after WW1 & WW2.

Frank O’Rourke is well-known at the Shed for his interesting presentations and this one was no exception. His late father-in-law was a soldier settler which prompted Frank’s interest in researching the NSW War Service Land Settlement Scheme that operated from 1946 to 1960.

Frank commenced by dedicating his presentation to three of his former mates from their school years in Wagga. Able Seaman Geoff McLean died when the destroyer HMAS Voyager was sliced in two by aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne in February 1964. National Serviceman Private John Slattery was killed in action in Vietnam in October 1968. Former Regular Army (ex-SAS) Second Lieutenant Mick Deak, MC and OAM, is very much still with us – a very successful South Australian businessman and Vietnam Veteran’s advocate.

The War Service Land Settlement Scheme (WSLS) was by no means the first of its kind. In fact, soldier settlement schemes date back to at least the days of the Roman Empire, when it was deemed prudent to disarm and disperse returning soldiers. The first such schemes in Australia were established for World War 1 ex-servicemen even while the war was still in progress (1915 in South Australia and 1916 in NSW, Queensland and Tasmania).

The post-WW1 soldier settlement schemes in all States were evaluated using as a criterion the percentage of settlers still remaining on their blocks after a period of twenty years. NSW settled more ex-servicemen than any other State or Territory, on 6,448 farms covering over 8 million acres, with much of it being previously unoccupied Crown Land. The failure rate was 29% by 1929 and 49% by 1942.

In the Federal Capital Territory (now the ACT), 86 blocks were allocated to 53 settlers. A number of them were in the area now covered by Belconnen, including a number very close to the Melba Shed.

In 1929 the Commonwealth established an enquiry into the causes of £23.5million losses nationally due to post-WWI Soldier Settlement (NSW’s share was £7million). Justice Pike headed the enquiry, which found four main causes for failure:

  1. Settlers lacking capital to develop their blocks
  2. Many blocks were too small
  3. Unsuitability of many settlers due to war service experiences (physical and psychological injuries)
  4. A significant drop in the value of primary products, chiefly in irrigation areas, post-war.

Others included relatively high interest rates, the government paying too high prices for land, many blocks were on marginal land and/or remote from markets, settlers lacking farming skills, bureaucratic bungling, and government and media interference.

The post-WW2 scheme in NSW involved the allocation of 3,057 farming and grazing blocks to suitably qualified ex-servicemen (and at least four ex-servicewomen). The scheme was intended as a form of repatriation and a means of boosting the then precarious state of food production.

Researching the NSW post-WW2 scheme was difficult because it appeared that the NSW Lands Department files on each soldier settler had been lost or destroyed by the soldier settlement administrative authorities, as none could be located at the NSW Archives at Kingswood in western Sydney, where all the WW1 settler’s files are held. Frank’s ‘Eureka Moment’ occurred when he stumbled across 600 of these files at the Wagga Wagga Regional Archives located at Charles Sturt University, resulting in months of painstaking research at that repository, as well as in the lower-ground stacks of the National Library to search through numerous NSW and Commonwealth Government reports of the era. A highlight for Frank and his wife involved travelling around NSW with their caravan to interview rapidly dwindling numbers of surviving soldier settlers, or their widows, or their adult children.

By the late 1940s, very little unoccupied Crown Land was available in NSW, so the Government was forced to acquire, or compulsorily resume, considerable amounts of private land. Also, existing Crown leases in western NSW had to be terminated early so this land could also be used under the scheme.

Soldier settlement blocks were obtained by the NSW Government acquiring, or compulsorily resuming, and then breaking up many large and allegedly ‘underutilised’ private properties. The process caused considerable friction with the property owners as well as with the Commonwealth Government over the low, capped amount the NSW Government was prepared to pay for the land.

Before an ex-serviceperson could be allocated a WSLS block, he or she had to possess a Qualification Certificate. To obtain it, a Qualification Committee assessed the applicant’s practical experience to undertake one or more occupations related to agriculture, horticulture, or animal husbandry. The same thing was supposed to have happened in the post-WW1 schemes but many ex-servicemen with little or no farming experience somehow ended up with a Certificate, which was one of that scheme’s crucial failings.

Soldier settlement blocks could be obtained by pre-qualified applicants via two different methods, known as ‘ballot’ or ‘promotion’. A ‘ballot’ estate usually referred to larger properties purchased or compulsorily resumed by the NSW Government from a private landowner, or by using surrendered pastoral leases of Crown land. These properties were then sub-divided into a number of ‘home maintenance area’ size blocks which were allocated by ballot. In the case of a ‘promotion’ estate, three ex-service applicants could directly approach a private landowner seeking to obtain all or a portion of his or her property which could provide a home maintenance area sized block for each of the applicants. If the land was considered suitable and the landowner was willing to sell at the price offered by Government, the land was purchased by the NSW Government. It was then sub-divided, developed and improved to the point where the resultant blocks could be directly allocated to each of the applicants who were deemed to have been ‘promoted’ to the blocks by the property owner.

The Federal and NSW Governments shared administrative control over the scheme which caused some nasty battles between them. The scheme was bitterly opposed by land-owners whose properties were being compulsorily acquired because valuations were capped at their value in October 1942. The NSW Government eventually added an extra 15% to that value but it was paid only if the land owner did not challenge the valuation.

Frank provided details of a number of case studies of properties that were compulsorily acquired, the associated court cases and the problems the settlers faced once they were actually on the land. For example, restrictions were placed on settlers’ credit, they often had unsustainable debt levels, they faced a rigid ‘Settler advances repayment’ regime and increased block rentals for new settlers after 13 December 1955 put them at a disadvantage compared to earlier settlers. Many settlers with no cash were forced to barter for farm services (e.g. providing sheep with wool on (killers for meat) to shearers as a means of paying for shearing services).

The NSW Government reneged on its promise to build settler houses, so settlers had to arrange this themselves as well as establish their farms plus arrange water, electricity and transport for the kids to get to school on poorly developed roads in remote, isolated areas. In addition, many blocks were degraded and over grazed. The rabbit menace was at its peak in the 1950s and foxes and snakes added to the settlers’ problems. Many blocks faced extreme weather (from searing heat in western NSW to snow in the Willigobung settler estate near Tumbarumba).

The sheer scale of the settler schemes nationally, when compared to other high-profile government undertakings, has not been widely appreciated. By 1954, expenditure on WSLS by the Commonwealth and State Governments had reached £100 million, meaning that it exceeded the cost of the Snowy Mountains Scheme, making it the biggest peace-time undertaking in Australia. By then, the Commonwealth had spent nearly £36 million, NSW £28 million, Victoria £29 million and Queensland £4 million.

In addition, the Commonwealth had provided non-refundable living allowances totalling £1.7 million and the Commonwealth and States between them had contributed just under £1 million in remission of rent and interest. By 1959, when any further settlement under the national WSLS scheme was about to cease, the total expenditure Australia-wide had almost doubled again, amounting to £185 million. Even though the national WSLS scheme was about to end, further Government expenditure was necessary for many more years due to debt write-offs, providing credit for further settler advances, as well as other settler assistance measures. The total of all governments’ expenditure Australia-wide by 1966 to establish and settle around 9,100 holdings was £225 million. The Commonwealth WSLS expenditure alone to all States had reached over £158 million.

Expenditures kept climbing. By 1980, the total expenditure nationally from 1946 was estimated to be around £293.5 million. With around 9,096 ex-servicemen settled nationally under WSLS, this represents an average expenditure of about £32,267 per settler, clearly showing the massive open-ended financial outlay to which the Commonwealth and the States committed themselves in 1946 in order to finance all the schemes. In comparison, other ex-servicemen were provided with £10 vouchers when they were demobilised to buy tools for their peace-time occupations.

28th Sep 2018 – Sister Kim Hoa and The Congregation of Mary Queen of Peace at Bonner

Information from From Newsletter #445 of 5th Oct 2018

Sister Kim  from the Congregation of Mary Queen of Peace At Bonner spoked to us on Fri 28th Sep. Sister Kim is the recipient of the glass and medications that Shed members donate to Brian Wells. These items are sent to Viet Nam to benefit children with disabilities.

It all started with a visit to Viet Nam by a few kind-hearted people who wanted to establish an agricultural project to help indigenous people in Long Dien, Phuoc Long, Binh Phuoc Province. This initial visit quickly resulted in another one to Binh Minh School – a school for children living with disabilities.

The charity program “Hearts Beating Together”, was thus born from the hearts of people who worked with the disadvantaged people in Viet Nam.

The program seeks not only to benefit the people assisted to become self-sufficient but also to engage in a cultural exchange of ideas and experiences which benefited people from all nations. The emphasis was to engage in projects which empowered all people to recognize their common humanity of bringing happiness and hope to others. It did not distinguish between a person’s religious or ethnic background but simply by sharing talents and skills people could discover hearts that are beating together.

Sister Kim talked to us about three projects being undertaken by ‘Hearts Beating Together’:

  • The Binh Minh Project in northern Viet Nam aims to provide a school environment and personnel to train children living with disabilities. There are two Binh Minh Schools where children are tutored and cared for by Sisters of Mary Queen of Peace, in Buonmathuot and in Dong Xoai.
  •  The Community House for staff training is in Canberra was officially opened on 8th March 2014. This house assists in training religious Sisters in working with children living with disabilities. This will also strengthen links between volunteers in Australia and the Binh Minh Schools in Banmathuot and Dong Xoai.
  • Teaching English program. While Viet Nam has a strong link to French cultural tradition and many of the older people have learnt French as a second language, English is increasingly becoming the second language spoken in Viet Nam and in many other Asian countries.

Learn more about Hearts Beating Together.

31st Aug 2018 – The VUWAE 15 Antarctic Expedition of 1970-71 – Dr Alex Ritchie

Information from From Newsletter #441 of 7th Sep 2018

Alex Ritchie gave us a fascinating short presentation on the VUWAE 15 (Victoria University of Wellington Antarctic Expedition) conducted during the 1970-71 season. On 15 August this year Alex presented his personally recorded film of this expedition at the National Film and Sound Archives. Alex had recorded 7 reels of 16mm film during his time on this expedition, and this viewing was very well received by those attending (including some Shed members) and reviewed by the Canberra Times.

In November 1970, Alex and seven of his fellow geologist colleagues landed at Scott Base, New Zealand’s only Antarctic research station in Antarctica, located at the southern end of Ross Island in McMurdo Sound. Not having been to Antarctica before, the members ‘acclimatised’ by undertaking a trial run from Scott Base to Shackleton’s historic hut at Cape Royds, visiting on the way an Adelie penguin rookery and the nuclear power station which supplied electricity to the nearby McMurdo Station.

After more than a year of planning, Alex and the other expedition partners were now finally at a point where they could begin preparations for over two months of arduous geological fieldwork. The aim of this expedition was to investigate the different aspects of the geology of Southern Victoria Land, with Alex’s interest primarily being a search for the fossilised remains of primitive fish that lived in Antarctica over 350 million years ago, during the Devonian period.

After the initial acclimatisation period, Alex and his fellow expeditioners were flown to the vast expanse of the Southern Victoria Land. They were flown to this area by a U.S. Navy ski-equipped C-130 Hercules transport plane.

The leader of the expedition was Dr Peter Barrett, a post-doctoral Fellow with several years’ experience in U.S. Antarctic teams.

For the next two months the expeditionary party were to be on their own, situated on the edge of the Polar plateau at a height of about 6,000 feet. Two-man double-walled polar tents were used for shelter and to withstand any ferocious blizzards. Motorised toboggans were employed to pull their sledges, which were loaded down with food, fuel, personal equipment, tents and later, collected geological specimens.

The area they were to investigate extended along mountain ranges for about 120 miles (192 kms). To reach the exposed rocky slopes for fossil remains they had to sledge over vast areas of snowfields with very rough sub surfaces and snow ridges.

Alex and his field assistant, Mr Gavin Young, focussed on the search for Devonian fossil fish remaining in the Siltstone.

During the 1970-71 period, Alex and Gavin discovered fossil fish remains at several levels and recovered an estimated 2,000 pounds of fossiliferous rock. The search for fossils involved painstaking examination of large areas of exposed rock on the steep sides of the mountains. The best specimens of Devonian Fish fossils came from a spectacular serrated ridge, Alligator Ridge, in the northern Boomerang Range.

This 1970-71 expedition team managed to obtain the largest, most varied and best-preserved collection of ancient fossil fish ever found in that continent, but it was recognised by team members that the surface had ‘barely been scratched’ at that point.

Thanks Alex for this fascinating talk. We look forward to you completing this story and slide display at a near-future meeting.

24th Aug 2018 – Throwing Light on Africa – Volunteering in Ghana (Billy Williams)

Edited information from From Newsletter #440 of 31th Aug 2018

Thanks Billy, for the fascinating story below. It’s good to see how he helped such physically disadvantaged kids to develop the skills to live a happier life.

Billy Williams was the Australian Ambassador to Ghana from 2008 to 2013 and was resident in the capital, Accra, during that time. He also had eight ‘non-resident accreditations’ as Australia’s diplomatic representative (Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Burkina Faso and Mali).

As Head of Mission, Billy was responsible for knowing and promoting Australia’s interests (political, commercial, strategic, people-to-people) as well as being in charge of consular activities. To carry out this type of work it is important to understand and appreciate the culture norms and customs of the local people, their social conventions, greetings, types of ceremonies and the role of chieftaincy.

Africa is the continent in which world civilisation began (the Egyptian state dates from 3,300BC) and is the second largest continent, accounting for about one-fifth of the world’s landmass. It is also the most centrally located continent with both the equator and a prime meridian cutting across it. Africa was partitioned by the empires of Europe from the 16th century on, which had devastating effects on the 10,000 or so separate states/groups that existed before colonial rule. The race to occupy Africa resulted in exploitation of the locals and had a detrimental impact on indigenous communities.

Talk about Ghana
20180824 Talk by Billy Williams about Ghana
Kids eating with feet
Talk 20180824 Kids eating lunch with feet
OTC Founder, Director (Sister Elizabeth) & Lynette Williams
20180824 OTC Founder, Director (Sister Elizabeth) & Lynette Williams (in 2012)

Most African countries gained their independence around the mid-20th century. However, an unfortunate legacy of colonisation is borders that split ethnic groups and combine, within a country, people who have different backgrounds and traditions and speak different languages. As a result of the colonisation and arbitrarily-drawn borders, Africa has struggled to develop as rapidly as most of the rest of the world. The following statistics summarise Africa’s current situation:

  • Home to over 1 billion people (16% of the world population), with 50% under 25.
  • Speaking 2000 languages (one in every four languages in the world).
  • World’s poorest continent (GDP is just 2.4% of the world total).
  • 40% of the population is illiterate, two thirds of whom are women.
  • Islam is the dominant religion, with Christianity second.
    There are 54 independent countries plus one non-governing territory.
  • 90% of all world-wide malaria cases occur in Africa, resulting in the deaths of 3,000 children each year.
  • 358 million Africans have no access to clean water.
  • 620 million live without access to electricity.

Ghana has had a tumultuous history since its first colonial settlement by the Portuguese in 1482. From the late 1400s to the mid 1800s, millions of West Africans were captured and sent into slavery in the Americas and the Caribbean. In 1874, the British proclaimed the coastal area of Ghana a crown colony and named it “Gold Coast”. In 1957 Ghana became the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to become independent, with Kwame Nkrumah being the first Prime Minister. He then became President in 1960 when Ghana was proclaimed a republic. In 1966, Nkrumah was overthrown in a military coup and a number of coups took place between then and 1994. In 1994 Ghana was returned to parliamentary democracy by Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings. Since then, Ghana has flourished. Between 2000 and 2018, democracy has taken root with five peaceful elections where government has changed hands on multiple occasions.

Ghana’s annual population growth rate is 2.3%; the current population is 27 million (11½ million under 18 years) and Akan is the largest group at 45%. The main language is English with two other local languages (Twi and Fante) widely spoken and more than 60 indigenous languages being used to some extent. The main religions are Christian (68%), Islam (16%) and Animist traditional (9%). Adult literacy is 67%, youth literacy 81%.

Billy said his five years as ambassador involved work such as building a strong partnership with the government and institutions, supporting Australia’s investments in the mining industry (mining is a major industry in Ghana) and contributing to the work of many community organisations, such as the Orthopedic Training Centre (OTC). On a personal level, he made many life-long friendships, was installed as a ‘Chief’ and learned about the festivals, music, dance and drumming aspects of Ghanaian life.

Billy spent three months recently as a volunteer to assist the OTC. It was established in 1961 by a Catholic brother from the Netherlands to care for children and adults with polio, prior to Rotary International’s major drive to eradicate polio. Last year OTC supported 6,492 adults and children. The Australian government, through the Development Assistance Program, has supported the construction of new facilities over the past 10 years.

One in 300 children in Ghana contract cerebral palsy (CP). A CP Clinic and Day-Care Centre were opened last year and named in honour of Billy’s late wife, Lynette, as she had been a tireless supporter of the OTC during their posting and on return to Australia. The Centre started with just four kids and will expand to meet demand as resources allow (thanks to Rotary Ginninderra for its support).

The OTC has established a Prosthetics and Orthotics Training Centre. Through a partnership with a nearby university, students do practical training at OTC for a diploma – the only one of its kind in English speaking west Africa. The aim is to provide a degree course so students don’t need to leave Ghana to study.

Many volunteers, from all around the world, come to assist at the Clinic. Billy’s work as a volunteer covered everything from painting to assisting with teaching (one boy was very keen to learn how to subtract and Billy taught him using stones), lifting the public profile of the Clinic and using his old connections with government and industry to obtain assistance for the Clinic. The highlight of his three months was the dedication of the Cerebral Palsy Clinic in Lynette’s name.

Billy said his motivation for volunteering was the fondness for Ghana he developed while working there, particularly the lifelong friends he made. He will be returning again to work as a volunteer.

17th Aug 2018 – Talk on the National Library of Australia’s TROVE by Jenny Higgins

Edited information from From Newsletter #439 of 24th Aug 2018

Jenny gave us an interesting talk on how to use TROVE to search for information especially on searching for people and information one needs to do when researching someone’s family history. Jenny gave us both a powerpoint presentation and a live demonstration of TROVE using our Telstra mobile modem

Jenny has been involved in family history research for about 40 years, in a professional capacity as well as researching her own family and assisting others in their research. She has used TROVE extensively.

TROVE is an online library database with an associated search engine hosted by the National Library. It contains almost 600 million records – electronic (scanned) copies of newspapers, government gazettes, books, maps and many other historical documents.

Jenny showed us the basics of using TROVE and then, using newspapers as an example, how to refine searches so you are not overwhelmed with irrelevant “hits”.

TROVE is a free service that offers fully indexed and digitised Australian newspapers from beginning of publication to at least 1954. Some extend much further; for example, the Canberra Times is on TROVE from its first issue in 1926 until 1995. The end date for the newspapers differs from one paper to another and is determined by copyright issues.

The TROVE search engine can be used to search for almost anything in a family history from births, deaths and marriages, obituaries, immigration, court cases, shipping arrivals, exam results, and major and minor local, national and international events.

Suggestions for types of searches:

  • single or multiple words, with multiple word searches returning every occurrence of either word
  • variants of titles and surname, initials and surname and variants of first names e.g. Mrs Hubbertson, Mrs M Hubbertson, John Phillip Smeaton, John P Smeaton, J P Smeaton
  • names of places, streets, ships, events, etc
  • local, national and international events, e.g. Queanbeyan show
  • unusual or archaic words.

Searches that can be performed in the simple search box include:

  • Using quotes in a search for multiple words: This search will return articles with the words in quotes occurring within five words of each other (upper or lower case does not matter).
  • Put the words in double quotes: “jim higgins” will return a death notice which includes the words “jim” and “higgins”, in that order, but not “HIGGINS, our beloved father Jim”, as the word order is reversed. You can try reversing the word order, in quotes.
  • Excluding or including essential words: A search using quotes can be used in conjunction with other types of searches. For example, you may use AND, OR and NOT and brackets ( ) to create logical expressions to find articles that must include or exclude certain words or phrases. A minus sign can be used next to the word in place of NOT, e.g. (“moreton bay” -brisbane), and (“moreton bay” NOT Brisbane) will return the same results.
  • Date searches: To search for a date simply enter a date in the search box. Articles content from each newspaper is provided, including containing the date in the heading or text will be retrieved e.g. for articles about cricket in 1880, just enter “cricket 1880”. Dates can be entered in several formats e.g. “february 1880” or “feb 1880” or “9 February 1880” or “9-2-1880” or “9/2/1880” or “09/02/1880”.
  • Search for exact phrase with no variations: To specify a search for an exact search term use the word text: e.g. text:”melba shed”.
  • Near searches: You may use ~ to specify how near the words in your search need to be to each other e.g. “andrews john “~3 will return all instances in which the words “andrews” and “john” are no more than three words apart.

Link to TROVE’s website.

The TROVE website has some useful help facilities:-

Help on Using TroveSearching TROVE Guide | Further help may be found on the TROVE home page or by googling “youtube trove”

Help about Newspapers, which shows a list of the newspapers in TROVE and the years for which digitised records are available. All personal notices, advertisements, examination and sporting results etc.

10th Aug 2018 – Excursion to the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS)

Editor’s note: Thanks to Bob Salmond for this report. From Newsletter #438 dated 17th Aug 2018

Friday 10 August twenty-one Shed members participated in a visit to the AIS. They were guided by Riley McGowan, an athlete training at the AIS for the 400m and 800m sprints. He had previously played soccer, including with overseas teams, but is now concentrating on athletics.

The tour began with thirty minutes of free time at Sportex – a precinct of electronic interactive challenges. Members attempted to display their skills at soccer, Aussie Rules, cycling, basketball, rowing, throwing, snow skiing, and tobogganing (‘the skeleton’), but the schoolchildren who accompanied them on the tour didn’t seem exceptionally impressed. The interactive exhibits were set among a unique collection of Australian sporting memorabilia.

The group then began tour of the facilities. Riley advised that the catalyst for the AIS was Australia’s poor performance at the 1976 Olympic Games where Australia won no gold medals, and only one silver and four bronze. The performance was so shameful that even New Zealand did better. Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser approved the AIS as a response to Australia’s despair.

In 1981 the AIS catered for only eight sports. The athletes shared common facilities but did much of their training at other venues; for example, swimmers trained at Deakin pool. The AIS expanded greatly, but over time Centres of Excellence for individual sports were created in several states, and the AIS is now mainly used for ‘sports camps’, rather than for all year training. The first facility visited was the AIS Arena, opened in 1981 as the first facility at the site.  The Arena, which has 5,200 indoor seats, is now often used for indoor entertainment.

Moving outdoors, the tour surveyed the Canberra Stadium. This had originally been an athletics facility. It was so ‘fast’ that a world record (women’s 400m) set here by Marita Koch in 1985 still stands.

Koch’s time was so fast that if she had run as well at the Sydney Olympics she would have beaten Kathy Freeman by 15 metres. (Wikipedia records: On 6 October, 1985, East German athlete Marita Koch ran the 400m in a world record time of 47.6 seconds. To put it into perspective, it was more than one and a half seconds quicker than American Allyson Felix clocked to take gold at the 2015 World Athletics Championships in Beijing.

Koch’s record, set at the World Cup in Canberra, Australia, has been the subject of much debate That’s because no-one has come close to breaking it, and Koch competed in an era when East Germany was known to be systematically doping its athletes. However, Koch, now 58, never failed a drugs test and has always maintained she did nothing wrong.)

In 1990 the athletics facility was converted to a 25,000 seat football stadium, and a new athletics facility was built next to it. The new facility is also ‘fast’. Each week it is open to the public; this is unusual for such a good facility.

The tour moved to the gymnastics hall, where a camp for junior women was in progress. For safety reasons quietness was required and mobile phones had to be turned off. Right below us girls were practising on single bars, and it was obvious why their concentration could not be disturbed. Other girls were practising vault work.

The next location visited was the volleyball courts. Riley advised that volleyball players were the tallest of all athletes. He asked the tour group to note the height of the net and advised that the average height of male players was 6’7”, and the tallest was 6’11”. Serves could reach a speed of 130kph.

The next venue was the ‘Conditioning Facility’ (i.e. gym). This was used by all sports, and usage was so great that usage times had to be scheduled to avoid overcrowding. Riley pointed out the excellent weight training area which has flexible floors so that weights can be dropped without damage to the weights or floors.

The tour then moved past the relatively new ‘Residence of Champions’. With some exceptions, scholarship holders were not required in live in, so many lived in the general community. This freedom was necessary for athletes with partners, and preferable for others who did not wish to spend all day, every day, with their fellow athletes. One of the exceptions was school children who needed to be supervised.

The adjacent Old Residential Halls were now used by the public, such as school groups visiting Canberra.

The next building on the tour was also the latest – The Swimming Centre. This was opened in 2007 at a cost of $17 million. It has modern equipment such as underwater windows where coaches can walk alongside their swimming students and photograph their techniques from the side or from below.  The pool can be quickly converted to 50m or 100m lengths. Because the pool had an even depth of three metres it is very ‘fast’. The water is kept at a constant temperature of 27 degrees.

On the walls of the pool are photographs of champion swimmers; Riley pointed out Petria Thomas who spent eleven years at the AIS and won three Olympic gold medals, four silver and one bronze, as well as nine Commonwealth Games golds (two silver, one bronze).

The adjacent original pools, and attached gymnasium, are now available for use by the public. Only on rare occasions, such as overcrowding during school holidays, is the new pool open to the public.

The Shedders enjoyed the excursion and wish Riley all the best in his athletic career.

9th Aug 2018 – Roger Amos attended the daily Last Post Ceremony at the War Memorial to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Roger’s Great Uncle Stan being killed in action in France

The Last Post ceremony was conducted in true military style and the staff at the AWM were very helpful. The AWM Reception provided Roger with a wreath upon which they attached several small cards that Roger had prepared in advance of the day. The cards are collected and filed away each day as a record of the evening’s ceremony and the wreaths are then recycled.

Roger Amos attended the daily Last Post Ceremony at the War Memorial on Thursday evening, along with Harry Redfern, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Roger’s Great Uncle Stan being killed in action near Framerville, France.

Roger recommends the Last Post Ceremony to all Shed members. it is something special that visitors to Canberra would also remember as an extra special event.

Roger & wreath
Roger Holding Wreath

After Thursday’s selected serviceman (an airman) was honoured, members of the public lined up and placed their wreaths on the edge of the Pool of Remembrance. Roger was invited to stand at the front of the queue and was the first member of the public to lay a wreath. Stan was killed in action at about the same time, 4.45pm on 9 August 1918.

The screeching of the sulphur crested cockatoos did not distract from the solemn ceremony and there were several quite emotional moments. A piper played as the wreaths were placed and the bugler played a faultless rendition of The Last Post.

Roger's wreath
Roger Laying a Wreath

3rd Aug 2018 – Cycling across Australia – Presented by Bob Miller

Article from Shed Newsletter #437 dated 10th Aug 2018

Melba Shed member, Bob Miller, gave a fascinating presentation on his trip across Australia. Bob, took up cycling at the ripe old (but youngish) age of 47. Making up for lost time, Bob became involved in cycle racing and then decided on the ultimate challenge of riding from Perth to Sydney and on to Canberra. Apart from the satisfaction of such a major achievement that few have ever accomplished, Bob was raising funds for “BridgeWorks”, which is a Canberra-based charity that operates to prevent the exploitation of teenage children (including sex and slave trafficking) in the hill tribes of Chiang Mai, Thailand. With the assistance of Rotary, Bob’s ride raised over $30,000 (More information on BridgeWorks).

Bob’s adventure started at Hillary’s Beach, Perth on 22 March 2014 and he intended to finish at Bondi Beach, Sydney, which he reached on 17 May. However, when he got to Bondi, he was less than 300kms short of 5,000 kms for the ride so he decided to continue back to Canberra to bring up the 5,000kms milestone, which he achieved on Northbourne Avenue on 24 May.

Bob’s bike was a Vivente Tourer, shod with Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres, which are (almost) puncture proof but Bob managed to put a screw through the tread and into the sidewall just to support the “almost” qualification. One novel attachment was a generator in the front wheel which could be used to charge devices such as mobile phones.

Disproving another myth (that the prevailing winds on the Nullarbor are westerly) Bob rode into a strong easterly breeze virtually all the way to Adelaide. The wind restricted his speed significantly which led to longer days on the bike than expected. The hottest day reached 48 degrees and Bob’s longest day in the saddle saw him finish just over 200kms with the last part in the dark.
Apart from a couple of wet days, the weather was very hot until Bob reached Adelaide. He then started to encounter wetter and colder weather as he rode the last couple of thousand kms.

Bob’s wife provided support until Adelaide, starting a few hours behind Bob each day then catching up for a welcome brew-up before going ahead to set up camp for the night.
Bob took some spectacular photographs. See Newsletter #437

He said that some of the small towns had interesting exhibits, such as the Big Camera Museum in Meckering and cycling memorabilia (the Goldfields region was at the forefront of Australian cycling in the late 19th and early 20th centuries). Some other interesting historical points of interest were the rabbit-proof fence, a huge mining scoop at Kalgoorlie, Mulga Bill’s homemade bicycle and a plaque commemorating the “Goyder Line” near Clare in South Australia. (Goyder was Surveyor-General of SA in the 1860s. The SA Government asked him to map the boundary between localities that receive good rainfall on average and those that regularly experience drought. His “line” identifying the regions has proven to be very accurate over a century and a half; more details)

Bob said he got off the road if possible when he could see a truck in his mirrors. If he stayed on the road, the truckies always gave him plenty of room and he could hear them on the UHF radio he had on the bike warning other trucks that he was in front of them. The same could not be said, though, of some of the car drivers who cut in very close at times.

Bob confessed that there were times when it was really tough to keep going. However, keep going he did and he was greeted by a group of Canberra cyclists at Lake George to accompany him while he chalked up the 5,000th km in Northbourne Avenue and then on to the finish line.

Congratulations Bob on your determination in completing such a tough feat and your impressive fund-raising effort.

27th July 2018 – Emma Turner from Red Cross ACT

Emma is a Client Engagement Officer for the Red Cross. She looks after the range of Red Cross’ social inclusion programs designed to help seniors over the age of 65 remain independent, maintain their social connections and preserve their wellbeing. Emma told us about Meals on wheels, Personal Alarms, Telecross, the Social Support Program, TeleCHAT and the Community Visitors’ Scheme.

Emma started by informing us of the various types of activities in which the Red Cross is involved – blood bank (which is a separate entity), humanitarian services and emergency response.

Meals on Wheels
The Red Cross is responsible for Meals on Wheels in the ACT and Tasmania. Meals on Wheels in Canberra is coming up to its 50th anniversary, having started on 8 December 1968. As well as delivering meals, it also provides a welfare check on the recipients. For health reasons it is not possible to deliver hot meals. Meals can be chilled (delivered daily from Monday to Friday, with extra on Friday for the weekend) or frozen (delivered once weekly or fortnightly). The meal menu is quite extensive. Soups are $2.40 each, mains are $5.00 and desserts are $2.50.

Personal Alarms
The Personal Alarm Service is for people who may be at risk of accident or sudden illness and who are either living alone or with someone who may be unable to assist in an emergency. It provides access to emergency help 24 hours a day, all year round.

The alarm is a small button linked to a base unit, which has its own SIM so it does not depend on a fixed-line phone or the NBN. The button is light weight, water resistant and can be worn as a pendant or on the wrist. It works anywhere within about 100 metres of the base station, even in the garden or shower.

When the button is pressed, it sends a signal to the base unit, which automatically dials the monitoring centre. A staff member will attempt to talk to the client via a microphone in the base unit to arrange the most appropriate form of assistance. If no-one responds then paramedics are sent to the home. Medical information is stored at the monitoring centre and this is provided to the paramedics. Red Cross recommends that a key is stored in a key safe so that the paramedics do not have to force entry.

The fee for a personal alarm is $150 set-up and then $29 per month. It can be provided either via a referral from “My Aged Care” or by contacting Emma directly (her details are shown below).

Telecross is a national Red Cross service. It provides a free, daily phone call by volunteers to people who live alone, are socially isolated or at risk of accident or illness. Clients can receive calls seven days a week; they are made between 8.00am and 9:30am.

If clients don’t answer their phone, volunteers make two further attempts before Telecross staff contact the client’s nominated contact(s) to get them to check on the client. If no contact is available then Telecross staff ask the police to check.

Social Support
The Social Support Program provides clients with friendship and support. A Red Cross volunteer visits regularly to assist with social activities and outings. Activities include going shopping, attending appointments, making home visits, having morning or afternoon tea, playing a game of cards or going for a walk. The same volunteer visits a client each time to provide continuity.

TeleCHAT provides a social telephone call to provide support and friendship. Clients are matched with a volunteer who will phone them at an agreed time and day, usually once a week.

Community Visitors
Community Visitors are volunteers who visit residents living in aged care facilities, or people with a Home Care Package living in their own homes, on a weekly basis.
The purpose is to reduce the loneliness that an individual might experience due to reduced contact with the outside community.

Emma’s contact details
Emma concluded by saying that volunteers are always required to assist the Red Cross in these programs.
Australian Red Cross (ACT)
Emma Turner (02) 6234 7665 (if Emma is not available, call Cheryl (02) 6234 7663)

The United Nations – Mike Smith – 13th Jul 2018

Mike gave us a great insight into the UN and what it can (and cannot) do under its Charter.

Mike Smith grew up in Sydney, and attended Malabar Primary. He went to the Royal Military College, Duntroon and, after 34 years in the Australian Army, Mike retired with the rank of Major General. However, retiring did not mean retirement. Mike became CEO of Austcare (now merged into ActionAid Australia). ActionAid is a global movement of people working together to further human rights and defeat poverty. He then moved on to the United Nations (UN). Under the auspices of the UN, Mike spent a year in Libya and also time in Nepal, Yemen (where he was involved in negotiating a cease-fire agreement) and three weeks in East Timor.

Mike is involved with the Gallipoli Scholarship Fund, which commemorates the legacy of Australian servicemen and servicewomen. The Scholarship seeks to perpetuate among young Australians an understanding of those enduring traditions of perseverance, courage, self-sacrifice and mateship that were established at Gallipoli and on other battlefields in the First and Second World Wars. It provides financial assistance for one year to Australian applicants commencing their first year of tertiary study at a University or TAFE at Degree, Diploma or Advanced Diploma level. In assessing suitability for an award, a 60% weighting applies to necessitous circumstances and a 40% weighting to educational merit.

If that wasn’t enough to keep him occupied, Mike is also the National President of the UN Association of Australia, which was established in 1946 to champion the critical work of the United Nations. His particular interest is to encourage the Pacific Islands to improve their public sector governance structures.

The UN is at the centre of a rules-based international order (RBIO). That order is under greater threat now than at any time since the UN was established after World War 2 and so Australia needs to do more with the UN.

The RBIO emerged during the aftermath from the mess of World War 2. It comprises the treaties and norms that keep the world from chaos. All major political parties in Australia support the UN but the support is often fairly low-key. For example, the most recent Defence White Paper hardly recognised the UN.
The key pillars of the UN are: (a) Peace and security, (b) Humanitarian issues, and (c) Development. All are necessary, but it would be fair to say that the issue of human rights is critical.
There are 193 member countries in the UN and they all have a single vote. However, this is not true for some special groups within the UN. For example, the UN Security Council has five permanent members (China, France, Russia, UK, USA) and any one of them can veto a resolution. It also has 10 elected members; Australia has been on the Security Council several times, most recently in 2013-2014. The USA has vetoed more resolutions than all the other permanent members combined. The USA also resigned from the UN’s Human Rights Council because of a perception that some member countries had poor human rights records.

In 2000, the UN set up eight “Millennium Development Goals” (MDGs), which were particularly aimed at developing countries to reduce the level of poverty globally. In the event, they proved to be very successful. The sunset year for the MDGs was 2015 and they led to 17 Strategic Development Goals (SDGs) starting in 2016. Sixteen of the goals apply to all countries and the seventeenth is “Partnership”. There was unanimous support for the SDGs amongst UN member countries. The topics covered by the goals are: eliminating poverty and hunger; health; education; gender equality; clean water and sanitation; affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; industry, innovation and infrastructure; reduced inequalities; sustainable communities; responsible production and consumption; climate action; life below water; life on land; peace, justice and strong institutions; and partnerships to achieve the goals.
Mike was involved with the UN’s peacekeeping activities around the world. The UN has 110,000 peacekeepers world-wide. Only 40 are Australian, all in the military (there is no funding for police peacekeepers at present), but about 60,000 Australians have served as peacekeepers since 1946. Some past missions have required armed peacekeepers, while some have been “observer missions”. The earlier missions were mainly peacekeeping between two countries but, later on, some became peacekeeping in a civil war, which was a much more difficult task. Typically, missions were led by the UN. However, Australia’s peacekeeping in the Solomons was different in that the UN supported that one rather than led it.

It is useless holding elections in cases where no rule of law has been established. Libya is a good example; after Gaddafi was deposed Libya had no-one with the ability to maintain security. Exacerbating the problem was the disparate, well-armed groups that were fighting for supremacy (Libya had more weapons available to such groups than were in Afghanistan and Iraq combined).
Religion plays an important role, although often within religions rather than between them. For example, the problems in Rwanda were Christians versus Christians. Muslims are fighting amongst themselves (Saudi Arabia versus Iran via Yemen, with Turkey also involved). An example of inter-religion unrest is Myanmar, where Buddhists are oppressing Rohingya Muslims.
A peacekeeper memorial on ANZAC Parade was dedicated in September 2017. It is unique amongst all the Australian War Memorial’s special memorials because it is dedicated to both men and women and to military, civilians and police.

The UN is often criticised for not sorting out problems but the UN has no power to step in unless all the Member Countries agree (it’s a bit like Australia’s Commonwealth/State relations but even more complicated).

Most know about the International Court of Justice but the UN is involved in other issues that we rarely hear about. For example, the UN has ratified agreements on the non-militarisation of space, aviation and postal services.

East Timor is an interesting case study. The UN tried to persuade Indonesia to allow peacekeepers to observe the independence ballot. Indonesia did not agree so the UN was not able to have peacekeepers available. After the ballot, progress towards East Timor’s independence was via a tripartite agreement between the UN, Portugal and Indonesia. This illustrates a key function of the UN; it facilitates discussion but it cannot legislate outcomes.

Letters From The Trenches – Part 5, 6th Jul 2018

Uncle Stan’s Last letter Home

Private Stanley Dean Willis,
21st and 17th Battalions,
Australian Infantry Forces

Killed in action, Friday, 9 August 1918,
At Framerville, France
Buried in Heath Cemetery, Harbonnières

Stan’s Last Letter Home was written neatly on six pages in pencil. It was kept in an envelope with: “Poor Dear Stan’s Last Letter Home”
written on the envelope.

The Letter


My Dear Mother Father & all at Home.

Just a few lines once again to say I am still alive & well and still doing my wee bit towards beating the Hun.

I guess you have all been feeling anxious about me of late especially when you see where the Aussies have had so many stunts this last few months.

Well I have been in lately, in and out of the front line & have been in a very important part of the front, at times we have been under very heavy shell fire and I can assure you its (no Bon) having Fritz’s big iron foundries bursting quite close. I have had several close shaves, had my rifle blown out of the trench about 5 yds from me a few days ago and couldn’t find a piece of it but am thankful to say I wasn’t hit.

Machine gun bullets are nothing whizzing all around you to what shells are, we don’t take much notice of them, it’s the shells put fear into one, you know many of them weigh over 1 cwt, some two or three cwt so you can just imagine what an explosion they have but I won’t start telling you things like that but I’ll tell you this much, our boys have had old Fritz thinking every time they have hopped over this last few months. They haven’t had one failure, they beat him and have taken several hundred prisoners every time they have any size of stunt, have got the wind right up him, as we say but its time they took us out and gave us a rest now.

This last six months, there is very few days our boys haven’t been in reach of the shell fire, in and out of the front line all the time and have only had dug-outs to live in all the time. My Battn have at any rate, so you can guess we have had a pretty rough time of it.

I haven’t had a bath for about 5 weeks, can’t get one up here where I am at present only about 1000 yds from Fritz.

Our Battn is not half up to strength now, we have so many Americans attached to us learning trench warfare, most of them seem very decent Guys. We get on well with them and they all seem anxious to get at Fritz but after one stunt I guess they won’t.

I liked them when they came up the other night, it had been raining heavy and some places in the trenches had water nearly up to the knees, their lingo amused me, “The God dam Dutchmen” they call Fritz, they’ll soon know what us poor beggars have had to contend with, I see in papers and of course we hear from our officers where the French and Americans have had a big victory this month, drove Fritz back about 12 mls and have taken 25,000 prisoners.

II think Fritz has about done his dash at last but can’t see how it will all end this year somehow, all his gasses and war weapons he has used – we are quite equal with him now, have him beat in the air, but only for America he had us thinking.

My word Mum I got a shock when I heard about so many of our old Millthorpe boys being killed. Carl Warburton was wounded a week or two ago, serious I heard. I saw him after he got his commission and was talking to him.

The last I heard of was poor old George Goode was killed. It is terrible hard for Mr & Mrs Goode losing two boys. It will break them up altogether. I think he is buried not far from where I am at present and I am keeping a look out for his grave and then poor old Garnet Bennett and Eric Wenban. Garnet was killed going into the line the very first time. I feel anyhow when I think of it all and their sorrowing families have my heartfelt sympathy.

Roger took this
Villers-Bretonneux from Memorial Top by Roger

I wrote to Mrs Wenban and Mrs Bennett and will write to Mrs Goode soon, nearly every day some of our boys go under. Its cruel when such good chaps fall. Well, for something else, I received several letters from the homeland a week or two ago, Mum, dated up to 10th May. Pleased to hear all are well, had your lovely letter. A long long one from Hattie, Annie, Millie, Alma Bryant, Jers Stanford and several other little friends – its great to get them all, am looking forward to another mail now. I haven’t wrote many letters this last few months, haven’t answered half I have received but you’ll know the reason being in the forward battle area all the time. One has a job to write a letter and it’s a hard job to get them censored too, but when we go out for our long looked for spell, if God spares me, I will try to write more often.

Tell Hattie I can’t find time to answer her long letter just at present so forgive me & don’t leave off writing because I can’t answer each and every one.

Fancy you seeing Jack Pattinson, he is lucky to be home, hope he writes to me.

So the chickens and cows etc. are as well as can be expected. Hattie, you are a character. I’d give you a good scruffing if I was near you, believe me.

How is Paddy? Do you still run him in the sulky? What about her sugar, is he still going strong like Walkers Whisky.

Haven’t heard from Charlie just lately.

Tell Alma I received the photo of her and Nellie and tell her it is trey Bon, but it made my mouth water seeing the afternoon tea laid out.

Haven’t received parcel you sent for my birthday yet, hope it soon comes though. I spent my birthday in the trenches with a few shells lobbing around, I thought of Nellie’s birthday on the 4th July. Some of our boys hopped over that morning with some Yanks. They took 1,000 prisoners and many machine guns.

How old are you Helen? I forget, is it 32yrs? What sort of a guess am I (Oh where is he?) He must be a V.C. Hero eh?

I am getting old – 25yrs eh?

Millie you’ll soon be an unclaimed darling too. Pleased you received our photos and liked them. Tell Sadie I received the snap of her George and Jean. Just like Hatttie squirting the milk. I had to laugh.

Saw Stan Bryant about 3 weeks ago, he looked fairly well and we had a good old yarn. How is Erno, Top and all?

Love to all of them and same to all, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews.

Must conclude now.

From your ever loving son and brother,
XXX Stan X

P.S. Hope you received word my wounds were only slight before you get this letter.
P.P.S. I received a parcel from Mrs Worthey yesterday, also received one from Ireland a week ago.
P.P.P.S. I hope you can read this.

Roger at Stans Grave stone at Heat Cemetery Harbonnières

2018-06-29 Life on a Sheep and Cattle Station in the 1960s – Michael Dwyer

Glenrock Station is in the upper Hunter Valley between Scone and Nundle, just under 400kms from Sydney. In the 1960s, Michael was the first teacher in Glenrock’s school, which had been built by Naroo Pastoral Company (owner of Glenrock) and presented to the NSW Department of Education.

Michael opened the new school and taught there for four years. During that time, he photographed many of the daily activities at Glenrock, the cottages in the main part of the station as well as those on the out-stations, the countryside in all types of conditions and the herds of cattle (8,000 of them).

Glenrock station was about 80,000 acres, divided into a number of smaller paddocks, the largest of which was about 5,000 acres. A full-time fencer was employed to reduce the size of the paddocks. The outstation staff lived in cottages close to the area in which they worked because of the time taken to travel around the property given the long distances and rough country involved.

Horses were used on the station and a stallion “GlenRego” was purchased to mate with smaller- framed mares to produce stocky and game-hearted horses. An article about the offspring of GlenRego appeared in 2006.

In the space of only four years, Michael was able to observe the full range of weather conditions on Glenrock – the good times, the floods, droughts, bushfires and snow.

School 1960s
Glenrock School 1960s

Quizmaster, Mr Gradgrind, kept Shedders on their toes by asking four sets of five questions during Michael’s presentation. Congratulations to all those who scored a pass mark.

In 2015, Glenrock Station (30,608 hectares) was purchased for $45 million by a Chinese retail and supermarket giant – Australia Aulong Auniu Wang Pty Ltd (AAAW).  Click here to see the page on AAAW’s website describing the company’s vision for Glenrock Station.

Many thanks to Michael for this fascinating picture of life on a large station in the 1960s.

Google Photos of the talk and Soup & Curry Lunch

Glenrock 1960s
Glenrock Station 1960s

2018-06-22 ACT Electoral Commission – Marie Sinstead-Reid

Marie is the Education and Information Officer at the ACT Electoral Commission. She talked about ACT Legislative Assembly elections, their history and the myths and then ran a mock election and set up a Tally Board so that we can see how the counting actually works at a real election in the ACT.

The Electoral Commission is an ACT Government Statutory Authority with a staff of eight, supplemented by some 900 casual employees at election time. They run education programs and manage ACT Assembly elections, as well as many others – ANU elections, enterprise bargaining elections etc. The next ACT Assembly elections will be held on 17 October 2020.

Marie explained the Hare-Clark system which is used for ACT Assembly elections for the Legislative Assembly. Hare-Clark is a type of proportional representation system which is used when you need to elect more than one person from each electorate.

From the 2016 elections, there were 25 MLAs. They were elected from 5 electorates called Brindabella, Ginninderra, Kurrajong, Murrumbidgee and Yerrabi.

You vote on the ballot paper by using numbers to show your choices. You start from 1 and keep incrementally numbering the boxes beside each candidate you like. This is called showing your preferences. You are electing 5 Members so you need to number at least 5 boxes. You can number more boxes if you want to. MLAs are elected for 4 years.

All the ballot papers with a number “1” are counted. These are the formal votes.

Votes are counted as per the following five steps:

Step 1 – Ballot papers without a number “1” or with

more than one number “1” are called informal votes. These are not able to be used in the count to elect candidates. Ticks and crosses are not counted.

Step 2 – A candidate has to receive a certain number of votes to be elected. This is called the quota. This is the formula to work out the quota:

(Total number of formal votes / (Number of vacancies + 1)) +1

Step 3 – Any candidate who has the same number of votes as the quota, or more, is elected. If all the vacancies have been filled, the election is finished. If all the vacancies have not been filled, a check is made to see if any candidate has more votes than the quota. If a candidate has more votes than the quota, go to step 4.  If there are no candidates with more than the quota, go to step 5.

Step 4 – When a candidate has more votes than the quota these are called surplus votes.  Surplus votes are given to other candidates by looking at the next choice shown by the voter on the ballot paper.  There is a need to work out the new total of votes for each candidate and then go back to step 3.

Step 5 – If there are still vacancies, it is necessary to find the candidate who has the lowest number of votes. This candidate is then taken out of the vote counting. This is called excluding the candidate. Each of these candidate’s votes are allocated to another candidate by looking at the next choice shown by the voter on each ballot paper.  Then the new number of votes for each candidate is calculated and we go back to step 3. The process of distributing surplus votes from elected candidates and excluding the candidate with the fewest votes goes on until all the vacancies are filled.

Simple, isn’t it!

A casual vacancy happens when a member leaves the Legislative Assembly before the next election. A new member then needs to be elected. Elections ACT recounts the ballot papers from the last election to elect the new member. Only the ballot papers that elected the member who is leaving are counted. Only candidates who were on the same ballot paper can be in the recount. They must advise the Electoral Commission if they want to be included. The recount is done by looking at the number voters put on the ballot paper. The new Member is the person with the most votes.

Voting and counting votes is a time consuming and involved process as we learned when Marie ran a mock election involving 3 vacancies with 12 candidates. She prepared a special ballot paper which we all used to cast our votes.

A casual vacancy happens when a member leaves the Legislative Assembly before the next election. A new member then needs to be elected. Elections ACT recounts the ballot papers from the last election to elect the new member. Only the ballot papers that elected the member who is leaving are counted. Only candidates who were on the same ballot paper can be in the recount. They must advise the Electoral Commission if they want to be included. The recount is done by looking at the number voters put on the ballot paper. The new Member is the person with the most votes. Our dummy ballot paper

Google Photos

1st June 2018 – Erik Boddeus, Executive Manager of Retirement at Goodwin


(From Shed Newsletter #428 8 June 2018 – 47 attended)

Erik gave a presentation of the attributes of Retirement Villages versus Residential Aged Care facilities. He was also assisted by Liz Ley, Independent Living Unit Sales Officer & Laura Reading, Marketing Coordinator.

Erik provide a very informative presentation on the issues associated with considering whether or not to move into a retirement village. He discussed the difference between a retirement village which is independent living in a residential community and residential aged care which is more akin to a nursing home where a person is unable to look after themselves and requires a level of care.

The discussion then moved onto why people choose to move from their current home to a retirement village. This choice is associated with current maintenance issues, a desire to downsize, a need to address social isolation or loneliness, a feeling of reduced independence, worries about security or even health issues requiring some external support or care. Organisations like Goodwin can provide more appropriate and flexible accommodation, facilities and services such as residential maintenance and secure parking.

Facilities often include a club house, library, business centre, TV lounges, residents’ kitchen, landscaped gardens, BBQs, gyms and even a Mens’ Shed.

Services available to residents can include 24/7 emergency call systems, on-site staff, maintenance services, gardeners, telephone and internet services, activities , entertainment and a number of care options.
Care options include providing extra assistance to keep residents safe, comfortable and well in their own homes. A recent study claims that each additional hour of community care older adults receive per week is associated with a six per cent lower risk of entry into permanent residential care.
Erik then talked about the costs of moving to a residential village. These costs include an ingoing contribution, a monthly maintenance fee and a departure fee. There are many ways these fees can be organised to better suit the resident and Liz spoke about some of the options.
More than 95% of residents living in a retirement community say that their current lifestyle meets or exceeds their expectations and most regret that they didn’t make the move 10 years earlier. Indeed, the majority of residents living in a retirement community are healthier and live longer than their peers.

Interested? Then consider your options, talk to the retirement village, talk to existing residents, seek independent legal and financial advice and make the move!

Thanks to Erik, Liz and Laura for a most informative presentation on independent retirement living.

Further information can be sought from: Liz Ley on 6175.5058 or email

Google Photos


11th May 2018 – Ian Peters from Diabetes Australia NSW & ACT talked about Diabetes & the massive impact it is having on Australians health

Ian commenced his presentation with a number of quite alarming statistics about diabetes in Australia:

  • Diabetes is Australia’s worst chronic disease with over 1.4 million people affected
  • 22,000 Canberrans are affected – a number that is rising at 10-15% per annum
  • 50% of patients (excluding maternity patients) in Canberra’s hospitals have conditions relating to diabetes
  • It is the leading cause of blindness in working age adults
  • It is a leading cause of kidney failure and dialysis
  • It increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke by up to four times
  • It is a major cause of limb amputations
  • It affects mental health as well as physical health.
  • Depression, anxiety and distress occur in more than 30% of all people with diabetes
  • Excessive sugar intake, excessive weight and unhealthy diet are the primary causes of diabetes.

When someone has diabetes, their body can’t maintain healthy levels of glucose in the blood. Glucose is a form of sugar which is the main source of energy for our bodies. Unhealthy levels of glucose in the blood can lead to long term and short term health complications.

For our bodies to work properly we need to convert glucose (sugar) from food into energy. A hormone called insulin, produced in the pancreas, is essential for this conversion. In people with diabetes, insulin is no longer produced or not produced in sufficient amounts by the body. When people with diabetes eat glucose, which is in foods such as breads, cereals, fruit and starchy vegetables, legumes, milk, yoghurt and sweets, it can’t be converted into energy.

Instead of being turned into energy the glucose stays in the blood resulting in high blood glucose levels. After eating, the glucose is carried around your body in your blood. Your blood glucose level is called glycaemia. Blood glucose levels can be monitored and managed through self-care and treatment.

Three things to know about diabetes:

  • It is not one condition – there are three main types of diabetes: Type 1 (10%), Type 2 (85%) and Gestational diabetes (5%)
  • All types of diabetes are complex and require daily care and management
  • Diabetes does not discriminate, anyone can develop diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease which completely stops the pancreas producing insulin hence requiring the use of artificial insulin. It cannot be cured.

Type 2 diabetes occurs if the pancreas is slightly damaged. It can usually be controlled through diet, exercise and weight control.

Gestational diabetes is increasing, possibly due to women having children later in life and increasing weight over time of the population. It usually passes after the baby is born.

People with diabetes need to keep close control over their glucose readings. A hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test which reflects your average blood glucose level over the past 10-12 weeks is essential. For people without diabetes, the normal range for the hemoglobin A1c level is between 4% and 5.6%. Hemoglobin A1c levels between 5.7% and 6.4% mean you have a higher chance of getting diabetes. Levels of 6.5% or higher mean you have diabetes.

Ian handed out numerous NDSS Information Fact Sheets. These can all be accessed by clicking on this link. Diabetes Australia also run a range of information session for people wanting to learn more.

Thanks to Ron Thomson for organising Ian’s attendance at Melba Shed.

27th Apr 2018 –  Peter Kain Volunteer Guide at the War Memorial talked about Gallipoli & The Western Front 1918

The following is taken with some minor amendments from our Newsletter #422 dated 4th May 2018

Thanks Peter for a very interesting and informative presentation. In his best modesty he also informed us he is the best Memorial guide & usually guides people around the AWM from 11AM Fridays

Myths of Gallipoli

Five major myths surround the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915:

  1. The ANZAC landing was heavily opposed
  2. The ANZAC troops landed in the wrong place
  3. The Australians overran their objectives
  4. The ANZAC commanders displayed superior ability to the British commanders
  5. The ANZAC soldiers displayed superior fighting spirit to the British soldiers.

Peter dealt with each of these in turn.

1.    The ANZAC Landing was heavily opposed

The popular perception is of a blood-stained beach, soldiers scrambling ashore under a hail of bullets, and bodies littering the shoreline.

Kain at Shed
Peter Kain presenting

The reality is that the ANZAC landing was carried out in complete silence with no pre-barrage. Two Turkish Companies guarded the coast and the first wave of 1500 troops was opposed by about 200 Turkish defenders.

The first wave of 36 boats landed at 0415hrs and had cleared the defenders and climbed the first ridge after 15 minutes. There were 4,000 ANZACs ashore by 0600hrs, 8,000 by 0800hrs and 12,000 by 1400hrs. However, Mustafa Kamal had quickly moved his Regiment from several kilometres away to cut off the ANZACs and dominate the heights. By 1030hrs the Turks had effectively won the battle for the heights. By dusk 16,000 ANZACs were ashore but their advance had been checked by 5,000 Turkish forces all day. Two additional Turkish Regiments were brought up overnight and the numbers were ‘balanced’.

2.    The ANZAC Troops were landed in the wrong place

The popular perception is that the ANZACs were landed at the wrong place and this led to the failure of their assault.

The reality is very different. The original orders were for the ANZACs to land between Gabe Tepe and Fisherman’s Hut, 5 kms north. The actual landing point at Ari Burnu was in the centre of that line. The first wave landed on a front of 800m confronted by steep hills. The originally proposed landing place on ‘Z’ beach was south of the actual landing spot, was in open country and was well defended. If they had landed there they could have been slaughtered.

There were several advantages of landing at Ari Burnu:

  1. It was not heavily defended as it was considered too difficult for an assault
  2. The troops were closer to their objectives
  3. Natural features provided the only protected bay on the coastline.

ANZAC Cove became vital for landing supplies and reinforcements.

3.    The Australians overran their objectives

The popular perception is that the soldiers in their eagerness overran their objectives and pushed too far inland.

The reality is that a combination of enthusiasm, inexperience and orders to advance at all costs drove many small groups to advance from their main units. Several groups got further inland than any Australians would for the rest of the campaign. However, they did not hold their positions beyond the first day.  These men were few in number and no Australians went beyond the objective set for the landing force; in fact, few even reached it.

4.    The ANZAC commanders displayed superior ability to the British commanders

The popular image is that British commanders displayed military incompetence.

The reality is a bit more complex. While this was true of some British commanders, the criticism of the British tended to obscure the errors of Australian officers. For example, Colonel Ewen Sinclair-Maclagan halted the advance of the main force 1 km short of the objective. Major General William Bridges refused to land the artillery and sent them back to the ships. He finally allowed one 18 pounder gun to land, which went into action at dusk. On the other hand, Bridges and General Birdwood considered re-embarking the troops that night but General Sir William Hamilton advised them to hold their ground. News (false) that the AE2 had broken through to the Sea of Marmara encouraged them to stay. Lieutenant-Colonel Harry Lee, Commander of the 9th Battalion, went back to the beach leaving his men leaderless; he was evacuated with a sprained ankle.

5.    The ANZAC Soldiers displayed superior fighting spirit to the British Soldiers

The popular image is that described by (then Colonel) John Monash at Gallipoli in August 1915: “…poor quality of British troops …. They can’t soldier for sour apples. They have no grit, no gumption, and they muddle along and allow themselves to be shot down because they don’t know how to take cover.”

The reality is that Australia was allocated a subsidiary landing operation. The main landings were made by the British at five sites. They suffered up to 50% losses at two of these sites. British troops did fail to press their attacks despite outnumbering the Turkish forces. Most Australians fought as well as their British counterparts. Some though wavered and straggled back to the beach or in the gullies, although part of this was due to the inexperience of the soldiers and the loss of their officers. Gallipoli was a hard school and British and Australian soldiers performed comparably.

The August Offensive (Lone Pine, The Nek, Chunuk Bair and Suvla Bay)

At Lone Pine, Australian troops attacked the Turkish lines at 1730 hrs on 6 August 1915. The Turkish trenches were covered by logs to protect against shrapnel bursts. The battle lasted for 3 to 4 days (largely underground) until the ANZACs were able to secure the trenches.

Seven Australians were awarded the Victoria Cross (two posthumously), which is the most awarded to Australians in a single engagement.

On 7 August at 0430hrs the Australian 8th, 9th & 10th Light Horse Regiments attacked the Turkish lines at The Nek. Following an offshore bombardment (which ceased 7 minutes early), four waves of troops attacked at intervals of 5 minutes. 600 attackers suffered 372 casualties (234 killed).

The plan was for Brigadier Monash to approach The Nek (Sari Bair) on the left flank. In the course of the night of 6/7 August his troops became disoriented and ended up on a “ridge too far” and were unable to assist the Light Horse attack in the morning. Often chastised for this misadventure the reality was that Monash had no maps of the area, he had not been able to reconnoitre the approach and his “guide” had never been in the area previously.

Peter acknowledged Ashley Ekins (Head of the Military History Section, Australian War Memorial and author of Gallipoli: A Ridge Too Far) for the information he presented.

The Western Front 1918: Villers Bretonneux and Le Hamel

Australian involvement in events leading to Le Hamel on 4 July 1918

On 21 March 1918, the Germans launched a three- pronged offensive to capture Paris (“Operation Michael”). Initially, it was an extremely successful attack as both General Haig and Field Marshal Foch were in a quandary as to how to stop the advance.

The German approach to, and the bombardment of, Amiens led to battles around Dernancourt and Villers Bretonneux on 4 April. On 24 April, the Germans attacked Villers Bretonneux and succeeded in occupying the town. An Australian counter attack overnight on 24/25 April was led by Generals “Pompey” Elliott and Thomas Glasgow.

In the lead-up to the battle of Le Hamel, Monash had recently been promoted to Lieutenant-General and appointed as the first Australian head of the Australian Division. Le Hamel was the first major British attack in France in 1918. Monash planned the attack meticulously. In over 60 meetings, his detailed planning covered all ranks so that each was fully aware of the plan. It involved all aspects of the military offensive:

  1. Aircraft – bombing the German artillery sites and assistance and in producing noise to cover the sounds of tanks being massed
  2. Tanks – 60 tanks were involved in the attack to work in concert with the troops
  3. Artillery to provide the usual “creeping barrage”
  4. Aircraft to resupply troops on the ground as they moved forward.

The overall Plan involved determining the precise location of the German artillery so as to take them out early. Up to 2 weeks prior to the battle “conditioning fire” consisting of explosive shells followed by gas shells was fired into the German Lines.  Then on the morning of the attack only explosive shells were fired. There were no ground movements during daylight hours and tanks moved forward to the line under cover of darkness, with the noise offset by noisy aircraft and the initial artillery barrage. The troops moved into the line on the morning of the attack and advanced immediately, contrary to the normal procedure, which was to move in two days prior and dig towards the enemy. A major innovation was to resupply the troops with ammunition by aircraft and tanks, an approach that saved 1,200 men in the line. The use of aircraft to resupply the troops on the ground was the brainchild of Captain Lawrence Wackett who devised a small parachute that could be used to drop supplies to troops and designed a modified bomb rack to hold the supplies.

Monash planned the battle to last 90 minutes, a situation totally unheard of at this stage of the war when battles would last days or weeks on end.  The plan allowed for continuous advancement without the need for any waiting for resupply thus reducing the opportunity for any counterattack by the enemy. He was far too much of an optimist – the battle actually took 93 minutes!

The tactics employed in the Le Hamel Battle became a template for the remainder of the war which led to the armistice just 4 months later.

Beginning on 8 August, this offensive contributed to further Australian successes at Mont St Quentin, Péronne and Montbrehain. In early October the Australian divisions withdrew from the front for rest and refitting. They were preparing to return to the fighting when Germany signed the Armistice on 11 November.

13th Apr 2018 – Excursion to Towrang Stockade Site and Powder Magazine, Cemetery, Convict Culverts and Bridges

The following is taken with some amendments from our Newsletter #421 dated 20th April 2018

Sixteen Melba shedders joined the excursion to Towrang, just north of Goulburn, to visit the historic Stockade site and the associated Powder Magazine, Soldiers Quarters, Cemetery, and Convict-built Culverts and Bridges.

We were very ably led by John Jervis, a local expert on the history of this area and a former Shed Speaker on this subject.

The group left Melba at approximately 9.00am, meeting up initially at the French VC Rest Area before heading to the Towrang Parking Area just north of Goulburn. After enjoying a morning-tea break we followed our leader John on a short walk to the site of the original Convict Stockade site (circa 1836-1842), the chief penal colony which was established in the southern district of the newly founded colony of New South Wales. John explained about just how harsh the conditions were for both the convicts and their soldier overseers, and particularly for the small number of wives who accompanied the soldiers at this site. Flogging was a common punishment for prisoners, and we heard about the ‘exploits’ of the floggers Billy O’Rourke and ‘Black Francis, a particularly fearsome character who was later found murdered near Run-o-way Creek. Someone had their revenge in large measure!!

We then walked on and viewed the ruins of the Trooper’s Quarters, whose walls were made of Pise, or ‘rammed earth’, construction. Along with the Troopers’ Quarters, the original Stockade site comprised other buildings such as convict huts, blacksmiths hut, bakery (unconfirmed), stables and the Powder Magazine. We then inspected the Powder Magazine (somewhat restored), which is situated behind and below a bank closely adjacent to the Wollondilly River. This Powder magazine is believed to have been used for storing the blasting powder for the local roadworks at the time. The cemetery gave us a sobering reminder of the harsh existence of the Stockade’s occupiers. One of the soldiers buried there, Private John Moxey, was only 38 years of age, having already served 22 years. Mary Brown, a 4 year old daughter of one of the sergeants is also buried there, along with another lady only 38 years of age.

At about 12.00pm we drove to the other side of the Hume Highway and enjoyed lunch and some laughs at the Derrick VC Rest Area, before inspecting the beautifully designed and convict-built stone bridge which crosses Towrang Creek on the old Hume Highway. This bridge is believed to have been designed by the well- known engineer David Lennox and construction was finished in 1839. It still remains in very good condition and is a testament of the stonemasonry skills evident at the time. We then viewed and walked across the route of the adjacent and original Great Southern Road, the first linking highway between Sydney and Melbourne, later renamed as the “Hume Highway” in 1928.

Following this we drove a few hundred metres south towards Goulburn and stopped to inspect some impressive stone culverts at various intervals along the road. Again, these are in remarkably good condition. When compared to the closely adjacent ‘modern’ (i.e. current present-day) culverts passing under the new Highway, these original stone culverts far surpass the quality of the current ‘tin and stone’ construction methods, and the originals possess an aesthetic quality and strength that belies their 180 years!

The group then farewelled each other and departed for home, variously arriving back in Canberra between 4.00-4.30pm.

Many thanks to John Jervis for guiding us on this excursion and for all the preparation and research he put into making this a fascinating day for the group. Thanks also to Roger Amos for arranging this excursion, and thanks to to Geoff Grimmett for the trip report and photos and to John Arundel and Ray Osmotherly for photos.

Google Photos | Information brochure about Towrang

6th Apr 2018 – Cris Kennedy, Manager, Education & Engagement at the National Film & Sound Archive of Australia talked about the work of NFSA

The following is taken with some amendments from our Newsletter #420 dated 13th April 2018 with some extra items from the editor

Cris Kennedy, Manager, Education & Engagement at the National Film & Sound Archive of Australia talked about the work of NFSA and how people can access and use some of the resources of the NFSA. He also shared some film and sound audio from their collection. Cris gave us a summary of his long career with jobs, among others, in film and sound at Electric Shadows Cinema and Ronin Films, a journalism degree at UCA, IT helpdesk manager at CSIRO, a film critic for the Canberra Times, and an ABC666 role talking about ‘new films opening this week’.

The National Film and Sound Archive is Australia’s ‘living’ archive – the custodian of over 2.8 million items that they not only collect, but also preserve for future generations and share in many diverse ways. NFSA is headquartered In Canberra with State Offices in Sydney and Melbourne. The collection of the 2.8 million articles is held in Canberra and much effort is being expended on digitising the entire collection to ensure its survival.

Cris then showed clippings from a number of original Australian films, including the earliest known feature length narrative film in the world, an Australian production, The Story of the Kelly Gang filmed in 1906 and which ran for an hour. We also saw clips from the earliest film footage ever taken in Australia – the 1896 Melbourne Cup.

Chris also talked about SHINEMA where some Mens Sheds borrow a DVD for $22 from the NFSA and have a film event at their Shed. He mentioned some WA Sheds doing this. Chapman Valley Menshed in WA use this facility. They state Shed & Cinema = SHINEMA. This is how they do it.

Chris also mentioned Australian Screen Online which is an on-line database operated by the Australian National Film and Sound Archive. It provides information about and excerpts from a wide selection of Australian feature films, documentaries, television programs, newsreels, short films, animations, and home-movies. It also includes teachers’ notes

Chris also talked about the Non Theatrical Loans Collection (NTLC for short) which allows people to borrow or use some old Australian movies for film clips. Go to and then search in the white box under SEARCH THE COLLECTION. You can also search the NTLC thris this link

Thanks to Cris & to Ron Thomson & Geoff Grimmett for organising Cris’ visit to Melba Shed.

Click here for more about the NFSA.

Visit to Yass Valley Mens Shed – 23rd Mar 2018

The following is taken with some amendments from our Newsletter #419 dated 6th April 2018

25 Melba Shed members travelled to Yass to meet with members of the Yass Valley Men’s Shed. On arrival in Yass some of our members visited the Banjo Patterson statue in the local Memorial park before arriving at the Shed.

On this Friday, which is not a normal Yass Valley Men’s Shed opening day, we were pleasantly surprised by the welcome we received – not only in its friendliness but also in the trouble our colleagues had gone to turn up in considerable numbers and turn on a fantastic morning tea (courtesy of course of their very own 3* Michelin cook!). Their Shed moto is ‘Minimum bureaucracy, maximum fun’ and they clearly practice what they preach.

After a short welcome by President Bob Nash and Secretary Wayne Stuart over morning tea, we were invited to chat with, and get to know, Shed members and to inspect the Shed and surrounds, including their own vegetable garden!

Towards the end of the visit we again assembled in the ‘coffee room’ for farewells. No doubt we will get together again before too long.

After departing, President, Bob Nash took us on a tour of ‘The Lovat Chapel’, in Mehan St, Yass . This chapel was the original St Augustine Catholic Church built between 1840-44. It was replaced by a new building across the road in 1956.

Yass Visit
Collage of Visit to Yass Shed. From Bev Lewis

Recently a 1,200 pipes organ was donated and installed by Trevor Bunning of Canberra. The pipe organ was originally installed in the Wesley Church in Ashfield. It is planned to finish the organ commissioning in time for a recital in July 2018.

Adjacent to the Lovat chapel, the Church is refurbishing part of the old Convent as the Hartigan Centre of Yass and plans to have the ACT Academy of Music use 11 teaching rooms on their top level.

A great morning out and we owe special thanks to our friends at Yass Valley Men’s Shed and to Roger Amos for organising our visit.

More Photos

Story of Australian Cinema – Ray Osmotherly – 16th Mar 2018

The following is taken from our Newsletter #418 dated 23rd Mar 2018

Ray started his fascinating presentation with some details about “Canvas Documentaries”, which were the forerunner of the cinema in many countries, including Australia. A very early form of this type of entertainment was an 18th century peepshow titled “The Siege of Gibraltar”. Patrons looked through peepholes at a detailed painting depicting this historic event.

The peepshow evolved into a ‘Panorama’, which means an all-embracing view (from the Greek in which ‘pan’ =‘all’ and ‘orama’ = ‘view’). The term ‘Panorama’ was first used in 1791 to describe artist Robert Barker’s nine metres long, 360 degree paintings on show in London.

During the 19th century, a number of large presentations of this type opened up for viewing with some having different levels to show various stages of the scenes. For example, the Rotunda in Leicester Square, London, opened in 1801 with different scenes of a fleet entering a harbour on the upper and lower levels of the building.

One of the main difficulties in painting a panorama was to maintain perspective, particularly in long-range views. It took very skilled painters to produce a good panorama. Some viewers even used binoculars to examine a panorama in close-up.

A different type of canvas presentation was the ‘Diorama’ (literally ‘through view’ from the Greek ‘di’ = ‘through’ and ‘orama’ = ‘view’). It was first used in 1822 by Louis Daguerre who invented the word to describe a scene painted on both sides of a cloth with transparent sections that would change with different lighting effects. His painting measured 23 metres long by 13.7 metres high.

Moving panorama of horse race

Australia went one step further by opening a moving panorama in 1880 in the School of Arts, Pitt Street, Sydney. As the name implies, a moving panorama was a scene that moved. An Australia example is shown in the photo of a moving panorama in Melbourne. The horse race is painted on a canvas that is gradually wound across the stage using the rather primitive mechanism shown.

Another term that came into vogue in the 1880’s was ‘Cyclorama’ (once again, from the Greek ‘cycl’ = ‘round and ‘orama’ = ‘view’). This term was used in the United States and Australia to distinguish moving panoramas from 360 degree panoramas. By the 1880’s most Cycloramas measured 122 metres long by 15.2 metres high. A cyclorama generally had a presenter (e.g. a race caller in the above case) who became part of the overall entertainment with his spiel. Cycloramas also developed by having different moving scenes presented one after the other. An example was an Adelaide cyclorama which showed various aspects of the Battle of Waterloo. A Melbourne cyclorama presented the story of the Spanish Armada. The Eureka Stockade also featured in this cyclorama.

The following photo shows an advertisement for a cyclorama presentation of these stories:

Ray moved on to the Australian film industry which evolved from these different types of painting presentations. In 1927, a Royal Commission into the Australian film industry heard about some exhibition practices that adversely impacted on local films.

Despite these problems many locally-produced films were screened and well-received. Some examples were:

  • The Man from Kangaroo
  • The Blue Mountains Mystery
  • The Dinkum Bloke
  • Fisher’s Ghost
  • The Adventures of Algy.

Newsreels provided an important means of providing the population with information about current events, continuing from the 1920s until the 1960s.

Advertisement for a cyclorama presentation

Ray showed us some fine examples of movie cameras and their advances during the 20th century. Kodak- Eastman and Bell and Howell were two prominent manufacturers of movie cameras. The early ones had a hand winder, which required a steady hand to turn the handle smoothly and evenly. They used a 16mm film, which cost the equivalent of about $100 for 3 minutes. The next step was a wind-up motor, which made life much easier for the photographer. Innovations for films were the introduction of a 9.5mm film, with the holes in the middle instead of the sides and a double 8mm film that was split down the middle during processing. Eventually, Canon introduced the Super 8 film (8mm), which lasted until being overtaken by digital movie cameras.

Ray concluded his presentation by showing us a clip from “The Picture Show Man”, a 1977 film about a man, his son and a piano player who travelled around Australia in the early 1900s showing the first silent movies.

Frank O’Rourke – Story of Australia’s Swimming & Diving Olympic Gold Medallists, Dick Eve & Boy Charlton – 9th Mar 2018

Note these two articles are reprints from the Shed Newsletters #416 & #417 of 9th & 16th March 2018

The previous week Frank talked about Nick Winter, Australia’s first field athletics Olympic gold medallist (in Paris, 1924). Three Australians won gold medals at the 1924 Olympics; today Frank told us about the other two – Richmond ‘Dick’ Eve and Andrew ‘Boy’ Charlton.

Frank dedicated this presentation to three of his school mates in Wagga:

  • Able Seaman Geoff McLean, who died along with 80 mates on HMAS Voyager in 1964.
  • Private John Slattery, a national serviceman, was killed in action in Vietnam in 1968.
  • Regular Army Second Lieutenant Michael Gunther Deak is a very successful South Australian businessman and Vietnam Veteran’s advocate.

Dick Eve had the right pedigree for water sports. His maternal grandfather was an Englishman, Professor Fred Cavill, who was a renowned marathon swimmer. He introduced water polo (then known in England as ‘swim-ball’) to Australia. Dick’s mother, Fredda (or Freda) Cavill, was regarded as “absolutely the best lady swimmer of her day in Sydney.” It was reported in 1895 that Miss Freda Cavill’s “breaststroke was an ideal one – she did it to perfection and put any amount of strength into every effort.

She is a powerfully-built, well-formed young lady, who could give many of our crack male swimmers a lesson in the particular mode of propulsion adopted by her”.

Her brother Charlie Cavill was the first to swim the 7 miles across San Franciso’s Golden Gate gap, in 1896. He died in 1897 when performing a stunt in Stockton, California. Another brother, Arthur Channel Cavill, known as ‘Tums’ Cavill, won the NSW 500 and 1000 yards amateur championships. At 21 he was 220 yards professional champion of Australia. Swimming writer W.F. Corbett credited him with originating the crawl stroke – the forerunner of today’s freestyle. In 1901, Arthur went to the United States where he also successfully swam the Golden Gate gap but was frozen to death in 1914 trying to swim Seattle Harbour. His trainer was Syd Eve (Dick’s father).

Dick Eve (pictured, right) had two older brothers – Jim, who was a leading Sports Administrator and Empire Games Team Manager of many years standing and Allan, regarded as number two diver in NSW behind Dick. From 1917 Jim held various honorary positions with the New South Wales Amateur Swimming Association and introduced marked lanes at the Domain Baths in 1924. He was involved with both Olympic and British Empire Games administration, the latter until 1969.

Dick Eve

Dick had already won a NSW and an Australian Diving Championship when he gave his first diving exhibition in Wagga on 25 January 1922, at a Swimming Carnival in the Murrumbidgee River swimming area. The Wagga Daily Advertiser reported that a feature of the afternoon was the exhibition, given by Mr. Dick Eve, the champion high and fancy diver of Australia. His display from the springboard, a back dive and flip, and what is called a one and a half, a stunt in which Eve turned a somersault and then dived, and a running dive were greatly appreciated, whilst his high diving from a 32 feet platform in a riverbank gum tree was a one and a half, back dive and the world- famous swallow dive.

Despite winning Australia’s first official diving championship in 1921, Dick Eve was not well known when he arrived in Paris for the 1924 Olympics, with his mother as coach. In the plain tower diving event, Dick was trailing going into the last dive and needed a near perfect score to take the gold. His swallow dive was flawless and the Parisians gave him a standing ovation. Dick was dogged by ear trouble throughout his career. He had also qualified to compete on the 3-metre springboard event but recurrent ear problems affected his performance and he ran fifth in the final. He also had to withdraw from the fancy high diving event due to these ear problems.

In 1925 Dick won the Australian springboard championship for the fifth successive time. After he succeeded his father as manager of Manly Swimming Baths in November 1926 the NSWASA deemed him to be a professional. The loss of his amateur status prevented him from being considered for the 1928 Olympic Games. Gravely disappointed at what he considered unfair treatment by Australia’s aquatic officials, he never sought to be reinstated as an amateur, even when the ruling became less stringent and thus a lengthy and highly promising international career was effectively destroyed.

Apart from his diving exploits, Dick was also a handy swimmer and once held the 400 yards freestyle championship of NSW. In 1930, Dick became the publican of the Riverina Hotel in Wagga following on from a stint as publican of the Grosvenor Hotel at Ultimo in Sydney. Prior to that he had managed the town baths at Singleton and Moree. Dick was heavily involved in community activities while he lived in Wagga.

Another claim to fame was that Dick taught Murray Rose to swim when Rose was five years old. In 1938, Dick visited the Manuka Pool to give a diving exhibition.

Dick enlisted in the AIF in 1942 and served as a 9th Division gunner in the Middle East but was discharged medically unfit in 1943 and returned to woolclassing. He remained involved in aquatics for most of his life and ultimately returned to managing the Manly Harbour Pool. He died in 1970.

Andrew Murray Charlton was only 17 at the 1924 Olympics but he was already the best known of the three gold medallists. He had first come to world notice in 1921 as a 14-year old, causing him to be known as ‘Boy’ Charlton, a handle that stuck with him for the rest of his life. He was born in Crows Nest and was educated at Manly Public School and Sydney Grammar. His family had no background in swimming.

In 1922 ‘Boy’ defeated Bill Harris, an American who was the bronze medallist in the 100m freestyle at the 1920 Olympics. ‘Boy’ won the 440 yards then set a world record of 11m 5.4s in the 880 yards event as well as winning the one-mile race.

In 1923, the 15-year-old Charlton swam for the first time against Frank Beaurepaire, who had won 35 Australian championships and had set 15 world records in his career. The Manly Baths was filled to capacity for the 440 yards race, with Charlton winning the race by two yards, which led Beaurepaire to predict that Charlton would break world records in 1924.

The start of 1924 in Australia was highlighted by the arrival of Swedish swimmer Arne Borg, at the time the holder of four world records, to compete against the 16-year-old Charlton in the 440 yards freestyle at the NSW Championships. The Domain Baths were filled to capacity with 400 metre queues forming outside the venue. Borg held the lead for the first half of the race but Charlton took the lead at the 320 yard mark eventually winning by 20 yards to equal Borg’s world record of 5 min 11.8s. Charlton was given a lap of honour as Borg rowed him around the pool in a small boat. They again met in the 880 yards and 220 yards events, with Charlton winning the former in a world record time and the latter in an Australian record time.

At the Paris Olympics later that year, ‘Boy’ won both his heat and the semi-final of the 1500 metres and then blitzed the field in the final, winning in world record time and lapping the field apart from Borg who finished 40 metres behind him. He won bronze in the 400 metres freestyle behind Borg and Johnny Weissmuller (“Tarzan”) and was part of the 4 x 200 metres relay team which finished with a silver medal. After the Olympics, ‘Boy’ went to the Tailteann Games in Ireland where he won the 200 metres, 400 metres and 800 metres events.

Charlton stunned the sporting world then by retiring from competitive swimming. He worked as a jackaroo on a property near Gunnedah owned by the family of poet Dorothea Mackellar.

After a two-year absence from competition, Charlton made a comeback to competitive swimming and, without any real preparation, he beat the Japanese champion Katsuo Takaishi in the NSW championships in 1927, setting a world record of 10min 32s in the 880 yards and an Australian record time of 4 min 59.8s in the 440 yards. He then returned to his jackaroo job in Gunnedah before going to Sydney the following year to secure qualification for the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam by winning the 440 yards NSW Championship.

Boy Charlton

In Amsterdam, Charlton claimed silver in both the 1500 metres and 400 metres, then once again returned to jackerooing near Gunnedah, shelving his swimming career for another four years. He resumed training in 1932 and broke the Australian record in both the 440 and 880 yards freestyle events at the 1932 NSW Championships to gain selection for the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, the oldest member of the team at 25 years of age.  He contracted influenza a fortnight before the Games which dashed his hopes of any medals. In total, he had won five Olympic medals, which was an Australian record until 1960.

In 1934, Charlton accepted a position with an old swimming mate, John (Jack) Davies, at his newly- purchased pharmacy in Kingston. He remarked “The opportunity presented in this city with splendid baths (the new Manuka Pool) will induce me to join the Canberra Amateur Swimming Club, and endeavour to return to swimming form in the coming season”.

Charlton won the NSW 880 yards Championship in February 1935 over fellow Olympian Noel Ryan and French champion Jean Taris, who set 7 world and 49 national records and won 34 national titles during his career. He also won the Seine River 8 kms race four times. Charlton’s feat in winning from Ryan, the holder of the title, and also the French champion, was an amazing performance in view of his long absence from competitive swimming. The title was the first to be won by a member of the Canberra Amateur Swimming Club in State events. However, the race proved to be Charlton’s last major competitive swim.

In 1936 Charlton took up sheep-raising with J. Hyles, near Tarago. He was married in 1937 to Jessie Muriel Hyles, who was a prominent golfer. They then settled on a 12,000-acre (4,856 ha) property, Kilrea, near Goulburn, Charlton becoming a successful grazier. Extremely shy and modest, ‘Boy’ shunned publicity. He refused offers to turn professional saying: ‘I would never be forgiven by the Australian public … I am not in the sport for what I can get out of it’. He never actually won an Australian title.

In WWII Charlton enlisted in the Army at Goulburn and became a member of the 7th Brigade Light Horse. (Ed Note: There is no evidence of a 7th Light Horse Brigade in WWII. The closest likely unit was the 7th Light Horse Regiment which had its HQ at Goulburn. It only existed until 1942 when it was converted and redesignated 7th Australian Motor Regiment and was called up for full-time duty. In 1943, it was disbanded. Reference)

Charlton’s swimming mementoes, including medals, blazer pockets and certificates are held in the City of Sydney Archives.

Charlton died suddenly of a heart attack in 1975 at the age of 68. His son, Murray Charlton, said on ABC’s Australian Story, “he probably smoked up until the last five years before his death, as by then he had emphysema, so really he couldn’t even smoke. That was the irony of it – a very sad ending for a world champion, to die of cigarettes. It’s the way of the gods… I mean, if you’re a wonderful artist, they usually take your sight away.  And I think that’s probably what they did with him – they took those wonderful lungs away with cigarettes.”

And what amazing lungs he once had. Physiologists had become involved in sport at the time of the Paris Olympics and Charlton’s lung capacity was tested with a machine, which blew mercury through a set of bent tubes. They could not believe his lung capacity. It was the highest of anyone they had rated at that time and he was then only 16 years of age.

Frank O’Rourke – Story of Australia’s First Olympic Field Athletics Gold Medallist, Nick Winter – 2nd Mar, 2018

We were privileged to listen as Frank O’Rourke gave us an enlightening talk about the life and activities of Nick Winter, our first Olympic Field Athletic Gold Medallist.

In 1964, as a 20-year-old living in Wagga, Frank witnessed Ron Clarke set his third senior outdoors world record on a grass track, breaking New Zealander Murray Halberg’s unofficial 4 mile distance time by 7.3 seconds. During his career, Ron set 23 world records. Eight years earlier, at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, Ron had run the final leg of the torch relay into the MCG and then ran up the steps to light the cauldron. However, he was not the person originally selected to run the final leg. Ron was actually a substitute for a remarkable athlete, the ‘Marrar Marvel’ (Anthony William Winter), commonly known as Nick Winter, who had won Australia’s first ever Olympic gold medal in an athletic field event in Paris in 1924. Nick was regarded by many as perhaps the most versatile sportsman Australia had ever produced.

Nick first competed athletically at the small village of Marrar located between Junee and Coolamon, just 30 kilometres from where Clarke set his 1964 world record in Wagga.

Nick Winter

Prior to and during WWI, ‘Nick’ was known as ‘Billy’ or ‘William’. His favourite event was the hop, step and jump (now called the triple jump) but he was an amazingly versatile athlete beyond this, competing until he was 50 in a wide variety of sports.

Not only was Nick top class in playing billiards and snooker but the famous Lindrum brothers (Walter and Fred) and their nephew Horace considered Nick to be the world champion fancy shot and trick shot exponent on the billiard and snooker tables.

It was alleged by various writers that Nick’s extraordinary athletic ability was considerably aided by him being ambidextrous. He could use either hand playing billiards, batting and bowling at cricket and writing. He was also double-jointed, being able to dislocate some of his joints at will. In addition, his ankle muscles were developed to twice normal size and his thigh muscles were also remarkably developed. Nick’s athletic performances were achieved despite being gassed in WWI, septic poisoning, synovitis in both knees, back injuries, and frequent bruised heels.

A newspaper report of 1925 stated that “Winter is probably one of the most versatile athletes Australia has produced. He won the State broad jump title in 1921 and the 120 yards hurdles title in 1922. He is a good tennis player, footballer, billiardist, boxer and wrestler. He is a ju-jitsu expert and a weightlifter, and plays bowls and golf, and also is a top-notcher at skating, trick cycling, and other sports. On two occasions he was runner-up in the Sydney metropolitan amateur billiard championship. He finished third in the State running broad jump championship and won the hop-step-and-jump championship. In the opinion of many experts Winter is entitled to the title of Australia’s best all-round amateur athlete”. Other reports indicate that Nick was also a handy cricketer.

Nick’s English grandfather, William Winter, was a Bungendore pioneer. In 1886, William applied for a liquor licence for the Carrington Inn, which he had not only built himself but had also made the bricks. In 1888, he obtained a billiard licence. In 1912, William was in Court for allowing billiards to be played in his licenced room on Good Friday. He pleaded guilty and was fined £2 plus costs.

Around 1860, John Winter (Nick’s grand uncle) settled in a slab hut on Red Hill Station bordering Wells Station in today’s Gungahlin. Two of his daughters (of his eight children) married Schumack boys from Springvale (the Shumack family property) in today’s Weetangera. Soon after John’s wife died in 1913, Red Hill station was resumed for the proposed Federal Capital Territory.

The former 1902-1904 Red Hill station homestead (built for one of John’s sons) as well as the nearby machinery shed have been restored as the focus of the Gungahlin Community Centre located in the suburb of Harrison. The former machinery shed is now the Gungahlin Men’s Shed.

Nick was born at Brocklesby in 1894, the son of a railway fettler. Known at that time as ‘Billy’, he was educated at the Superior Public School at Queanbeyan for about five years. He had two sisters – Elsie born in 1892 and Doris born in 1912.

Nick enlisted for WW1 at Cootamundra. He left Australia on 23 October 1915 on the troop transport SS Hawkes Bay as a member of the 12th Reinforcements for the 7th Light Horse. He spent the war as a driver once he reached France.

Nick’s service record does not actually indicate that, as a depot driver, he was in any of the great Somme battles involving Australian troops, but he was gassed. He was involved in sporting events during the war and a report indicates that he carried off no less than 40 trophies for athletic feats, and while on furlough in England he won six successive billiard challenge matches, including a highest break of 125. He arrived home on the SS Castalia on 1 June 1919.

After returning home, Nick moved to Sydney to join the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. He initially joined the Botany Harriers Club and his performances during the latter half of 1919 and the early half of 1920 were such that there were urgings by his supporters for his inclusion in the team for the 1920 Antwerp Olympic Games. In January 1920, Nick set the NSW standing hop-step-and-jump record of 30ft 10in beating the old record of 30ft 5in with all three of his jumps. He then broke the running hop-step-and-jump record (47ft 3in), in the process bettering the winning jump of Ville Tuulos of Finland in the 1920 Antwerp Games. In the space of four seasons after coming home from the war, Nick gained about 60 first prizes, and over 50 seconds and thirds, in addition to breaking 10 Australian records at jumping.

Nick was selected for the 1924 Olympics. The triple jump was held on the 12 July 1924. Nick’s three jumps in the qualifying round including fouls were: 50ft 4in (foul), 49ft 9½ in, and 51ft 4in (foul). His only legal jump – the second – qualified him for the final. In the final he fouled on his first two jumps but his final one was 50ft 113/16 ins, which broke the world record that had stood for 13 years.

Nick’s medals and his beautiful “Service” porcelain vase are in the National Sports Museum at the MCG. The medals in the photo are his gold medal, the medal for breaking the world record, and his Olympic participation medal. The splendid “Service” vase was presented to individual gold medal winners. These vases were made at the world-famous porcelain factory of Sevres in France and were commissioned for gold medallists as a ‘special souvenir’.

Australia won 3 gold medals in Paris in 1924. In a remarkable coincidence, all 3 gold medallists, as well as one of the silver medallists and also the team manager, were all based in the then somewhat isolated and ferry-dependent village of Manly, as the Harbour Bridge had not yet been built.

When the 1928 Olympic team was selected, Nick was not included, having been unable to jump well due to an injured knee. He later asked for special consideration to defend his title and the selectors allowed him to do a special trial at Hurstville Oval in April, where he jumped 14.96 metres which was enough for him to be added to the Olympic team. Nick, now aged 33, was unable to reproduce his form at the Games and could only manage 14.15 metres to finish 12th in a field of 24 jumpers.

Gold Medal
Nicks Gold Medal

In a feat of strength Nick supported six men averaging 147 lbs. (67 kgs) weight, or a combined weight of about 400 kgs. After Nick left the Fire Brigade in 1928, he went into business operating a billiard saloon in George street in Sydney.

Nick’s boxing ability was revealed in a 1929 newspaper report which indicated that Nick could have made fame in the boxing ring had he so desired. In 1930 he won the NSW hop-step-and-jump title three weeks after winning his first and only national title when he jumped 14.40 metres in Melbourne – the first time the event had been included in national athletic championships.

Even though he had jumped 14.58 metres in early January, he was not selected for the first British Empire Games, held in Hamilton, Canada due to financial constraints keeping the team to a small number. His best jump in 1930 would have gained him a silver medal at those Games.

Nick announced he would retire from athletics after the Sydney Harbour Bridge Games of March 1932 (conducted to celebrate the bridge’s opening). He took up athletics coaching in his retirement, while still being involved in running his billiard saloon and giving jumping and billiard/snooker exhibitions. In December 1932 he became the new Amateur Athletics Association (AAA) coach. In July 1933 Nick was appointed sports coach to the Sydney YMCA. His role involved teaching lawn tennis, golf, billiards, snooker, and gymnastics.

“Service” vase
Sevres “Service” vase

In 1931, Horace Lindrum won the Australian Professional Snooker Championship. He also won the Australian Professional Billiards Championship in 1933 and 1934. In February 1933, he completed the first thousand break ever achieved in billiards and his opponent was Nick. Like Nick, Lindrum would also execute trick shots, such as jumping a ball into a hat.

In 1934 it was reported that “Nick’s repertoire of trick shots is admittedly of front rank quality”. Walter Lindrum and the famous English and World champion billiardist Joe Davis watched him perform a very difficult piece of billiards trickery and gave him the highest praise.

(Click on these links to see Nick performing some of his tricks:)

  • You Tube  (
  • Britishpathe  (

Nick endeavoured to join up again for WWII but his varicose veins caused him to fail the medical.

In October 1943 Nick (aged 49 years) competed in an interstate athletic premiership meeting at Sydney Sports Ground. Nick tackled jumping contests and other field events, such as javelin throwing.

In 1946, Nick claimed a world record time of 19 minutes for completing three frames of snooker playing against his son Allan who won two of the frames. When the famed Dutch Olympic champion Fanny Blankers Koen visited here in 1949, Nick’s daughter Shirley, then aged 27 years, competed in heats of the 80 metres hurdles race hoping to race in the final against Fanny. Shirley had been in competitive athletics for only two years. She ran second in her heat to Marlene Mathews. What an amazingly talented family!!

In November 1954, Nick was nominated to carry the Olympic Torch on the last lap of the Melbourne Stadium for the Olympic Games in 1956. This was regarded as a great honour by Nick but, unfortunately, he did not get the chance. Sadly, and tragically, our first Olympic field gold-medallist died in 1955, aged 60. The coroner subsequently determined an open finding, unable to confirm an accident or suicide. Nick was cremated at Northern Suburbs Crematorium on 10 May 1955. His wife Minnie Pearl died from cancer five months later.

Nick is commemorated in Marrar with a life-size reproduction of his 1924 official Olympic photograph placed in the front window of the village café. He is commemorated at Sydney’s Olympic Park, via the Athletic Centre Path of Champions which recognises Australia’s contribution to sporting excellence by honouring NSW athletes who have attained the status of Olympic Champion, World Champion or a World Record Holder in International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) recognised track and field events. The Nick Winter Memorial Award is presented annually to aspiring Triple Jumpers.

Nick Winter deserves to be far better known, which is why Frank is writing his biography.

Dr Brendan Nelson, 9th Feb, 2018

Ed Note: Dr Nelson is also Patron of Lifeline Canberra and on the same morning attended the opening of their latest Bookfair extravaganza held at EPIC in Mitchell, before he rushed off to talk to the Shed.  From the Shed Newsletter #413 dated 2018-02-16

Dr Nelson AO is currently the Director of the Australian War Memorial, the latest in a long line of prestigious posts he has held during his lifetime. They include setting up and running after-hours medical centres in Tasmania; President of the Tasmanian Branch of the Australian Medical Association (AMA); Federal President of the AMA; a Minister in the Howard Government; Leader of the Federal Opposition; and Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg, the European Union and NATO.

Dr Nelson spent much of his early life in Launceston before his family moved to Adelaide to provide better opportunities for the kids to go to university. After leaving school early and working for a year at Harris Scarfe selling doors and curtains, Dr Nelson returned to school, a school run by the Jesuits. They had four rules on how to get on in life (i) be committed to whatever you do, (ii) listen to your conscience (what is the right thing to do?), (iii) show compassion (see the world through the eyes of others and work out why people think the way they do), (iv) take risks. Dr Nelson said that these four rules have stood him in good stead through his adult life.

During this time, he chaired a citizens’ forum on Sydney airport, which was a controversial topic. For his troubles he had the tyres on his car slashed and the windscreen smashed on two separate occasions.

Dr Nelson mentioned the cynicism in which much of the population, particularly younger people, hold politicians and the political process. He said that the Australian Financial Review’s had a “Quote of the day” in the 1990s and one of them was particularly apt: ”The problem is not that young people have not learned our values; the problem is that they have”.

After leaving school, Dr Nelson studied medicine at Finders University and, after graduating, set up two after-hours medical centres, one in Hobart and one in Launceston. He found that the AMA was very opposed to change so he stood for, and became, President of the Tasmanian Branch in 1990. In 1993 he became Federal President of the AMA. In this position he was particularly interested in getting the federal government to devote more resources to improving the health of aborigines and to study the effects of unemployment on health.

Discussions with Alexander Downer and Michelle Grattan led Dr Nelson to challenge David Connolly for Liberal Party pre-selection in the northern Sydney seat of Bradfield. He won both the pre-selection and the 1996 election and took his place in Federal Parliament.

Dr Nelson told an amusing story about a complaint he received from a constituent who had gone into a shop asking for change for a parking meter but had been refused unless he purchased something. The constituent was outraged and saw fit to write a lengthy letter to his Federal Member to resolve the issue. Dr Nelson read out his very entertaining reply, which could be best summarised along the lines of “this is a first world problem, so put up with it”.

Nelson talking
Dr Nelson presenting

During this time, he chaired a citizens’ forum on Sydney airport, which was a controversial topic. For his troubles he had the tyres on his car slashed and the windscreen smashed on two separate occasions.

Dr Nelson mentioned the cynicism in which much of the population, particularly younger people, hold politicians and the political process. He said that the Australian Financial Review’s had a “Quote of the day” in the 1990s and one of them was particularly apt: ”The problem is not that young people have not learned our values; the problem is that they have”.

Dr Nelson had some conflict with the PM (John Howard) over proposed changes to media ownership laws and spent his first five years in parliament as a backbencher. In 2001, he became Parliamentary Secretary for Defence. Peter Reith was the Minister and told him that he needed to concentrate on the job he had been given and future jobs would flow on from the hard work. The wisdom of this advice came to pass later that year, when Dr Nelson was promoted as Minister for Education, Science and Training, a portfolio he held for five years. After the 2006 election Dr Nelson was promoted again, this time as Minister for Defence. During this time, he had to deal with several stressful incidents but was pleased to be fully backed at all times by John Howard.

After the 2007 federal election, Dr Nelson became Leader of the Opposition but was challenged (successfully) by Malcolm Turnbull in late 2008. He resigned from the Federal Parliament about a year later when he was appointed Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg, the European Union, and NATO by then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. During his time in Brussels, he regularly visited Ypres for the evening “Last Post Ceremony” at the Menin Gate. At one stage, he was told by one of the organisers that he had attended the ceremony 73 times. It was this experience that led him to institute a similar ceremony at the Australian War Memorial each evening during which the details of a fallen soldier’s service are read out before the Last Post is played.

Nelson at the Shed
Shed President thanks Brendan

After being appointed as Director of the War Memorial, one of his first experiences was to talk to a young visitor who said he was disappointed to be able to see what his great grandfather and his grandfather had done in wartime but was unable to see anything about what his father had done in Afghanistan. As a result, Dr Nelson asked his staff to find space and memorabilia for a new exhibit on Afghanistan, which opened eight months later and will be added to once extra space is available. $17 million is being spent on planning to expand the War Memorial by about 40% to enable some current exhibits to be expanded and to incorporate some new ones on the 64 peacekeeping missions that Australians have been involved with.

Members of the Shed are very grateful that Dr Nelson was able to find time in his busy schedule to come to the Shed. Many thanks also to Ron Thomson for organising Dr Nelson’s visit.

Activities Held 2017

The following is an outline of major shed excursions and special activities that been held. Many of the pictures taken are stored on the sheds Google Photos web presence

Christmas Function, 22nd Dec 2017

On this day we had our usual activities plus a short Old Time Melodrama organised by Ray Osmotherly, with a visit by Santa Claus (Harry Redfern) followed by BBQ & Sausage Sizzle

Some photos on Google Photos

Balikpapan – OBOE Two – The Last Major Land Operation of World War II, 24th Nov 2017

Greg showed a World War II 25 min video on the Battle for Balikpapan, a port on south eastern coast of Borneo. It was the location of the last major Aust or Allied ground operation of WW2. Balikpapan was also the largest Australian amphibious landing since Gallipoli. The landing at Balikpapan was codenamed Oboe Two, and was the largest of the Oboe operations mounted by 1 Australian Corps at various places around Borneo.

The landing had been preceded by heavy bombing and shelling by Australian and US air and naval forces. After a tremendous preparatory bombardment, the 7th Division went ashore on the morning of 1 July 1945. They had about 21,000 men including US, Dutch, tanks, artillery & RAAF units. The Morotai to Balikpapan convoy included more than 200 vessels.

The Australian 7th Division, composed of the 18th, 21st and 25th Infantry Brigades, made an amphibious landing, a few miles north of Balikpapan, on the island of Borneo. It was the first time during the war that the division had fought as a whole.

Once ashore, the division had to fight much harder for its beachhead than had the forces at earlier Oboe landings at Tarakan or Brunei Bay, and concerted Japanese resistance continued for the next three weeks as it advanced inland. The Japanese were outnumbered and outgunned, but like the other battles of the Pacific War, many of them fought to the death.

Major operations had ceased by July 21. The 7th Division’s casualties were significantly lighter than they had suffered in previous campaigns. The battle was one of the last to occur in World War II, beginning a few weeks before the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki effectively ended the war. Japan surrendered while the Australians were combing the jungle for stragglers. 229 Australian were killed and over 600 were wounded in the battle and around 1,800 Japanese.

Following the surrender, the three Brigades were committed to occupation duties until around February 1946

Was This battle Necessary – the most complete description of the operation from a site called Digger History. It includes a digital reprint of 7-8 pages from a book “Stand Easy” published by the Aust War Memorial in Sep 1945. This is the most detailed publication  on the Balikpapan operation available on the web.

Balikpapan was one of the most controversial Australian operations of the WW2. By this time in 1945 it was clear that the Australian operations in Borneo were not contributing anything to the final defeat of Japan and many high-ranking Australian officers considered them strategically unsound. The Aust C-in-C, Gen Blamey, advised the government to withdraw its support for Oboe 2. The government, however, stood behind the C-in-C of the South-west Pacific Area, General Douglas MacArthur, who had devised the Oboe operations, and the Balikpapan landings went ahead.

Bowling Day, 20th October 2017


Anzac Presentation on Pat Donnelly by Mike Dywer, 13th October 2017

Mike Dwyer presented a very interesting and thought-provoking presentation on the story of Sergeant Pat Donnelly, focussing on the issue of what war can do to a man, particularly Shell shock (now known more formally as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD).

Pat was 20 when he enlisted on 14 Sept 1914 in the 2nd Pioneer Battalion Brigade, 2nd Australian Division, 1st Anzac Corps.

Pat had been living at Lake George at the family’s guest house, which had been built for tourists. Unusually at that time, Pat had a licence to drive a motor boat. He was the seventh of 12 children, all of whom were good horse riders.

Pat embarked on the Orvieto, which joined a convoy of 39 ships transporting 20,000 men and 5,000 horses to England. Pat’s role aboard ship was looking after the horses. Delays in establishing the camp in England meant the convoy was unloaded in Egypt, where a tent city had been established. While there, Pat had what turned out to be a fortunate accident. A rambunctious horse possibly saved the then Corporal Donnelly from being slaughtered during the first ANZAC landing at Gallipoli. In 1915, while based at Alexandria, he suffered a heavy blow from a horse, which dislocated his left shoulder. After a slow recovery in hospital Pat was transferred to the 9th Battalion in July and eventually found himself at Gallipoli. After leaving Gallipoli, Pat was part of the massive movement of ANZACs to France.

During the terrible 1916-17 winter the Germans built a very strong defence system for 100 miles across France known as the Hindenburg Line. It consisted of two deep trenches (OG1 and OG2) about 150 yards apart with machine-guns, concrete pillboxes and rows of barbed wire entanglements. Bullecourt was one of many small French villages on the Line.

In April 1917 the Allies commenced attacks on the first battle of Bullecourt. It was a disaster. Because 12 tanks were available the attack was made without the essential creeping barrage to protect the infantry. The tanks were a failure and most were destroyed. The allies were forced back into their trenches.

In the second battle of Bullecourt from 3-17 May 1917 a small part of the Hindenburg Line was captured and held, but it came at a tremendous cost. Brigadier-General Gellibrand, an Australian, had argued that the zero hour should be 3.00am but a compromised start some 45 minutes later was too late for the troops to use the cover of darkness. The soldiers’ silhouettes in the brightening sky made them easy targets for machine guns. The decision was disastrous, particularly for the 1st ANZAC Corps. Hand-to-hand fighting took place during heavy artillery shelling and machine gun fire. Bodies – both Allied and German soldiers – “thickly carpeted” the trenches. Evacuated wounded and gassed soldiers from the 2nd Division totalled 2,811. Casualties on the Allied side alone during the two Bullecourt battles totalled a staggering 14,000, at a rate of a thousand a day. The 1st ANZAC Corps lost 292 officers and 7,190 ‘other ranks’. It was indeed “trench warfare at its most murderous”. The loss of life on both sides was so appalling that the battlefield was given the gruesome nickname ‘blood tub’.

Sergeant Pat Donnelly was awarded a Military Medal at Bullecourt. The citation for Sergeant Donnelly, aged 23, reads as follows:

“At Bullecourt [Pat] showed great bravery on the morning of the 3rd May. This NCO was put in charge of a party of 11 men to put in a block and machine gun position in OG1 [the German front fire-trench]. They advanced with the first wave of the 19th Battalion 5th brigade. The infantry were driven back. He then waited with Private Rosenberg (these two being the only ones left of the party, the rest were killed or missing) in a shell hole until the infantry were reorganised and came up again. He then blew in the side of OG1 with Stokes Mortars making a suitable place for a machine gun. This was afterwards occupied and used as a machine gun position.”
(Signed) Brig-General Gellibrand, Commanding officer 2nd Australian Division.

After the battles at Passchendaele, Menin Road and Polygon Wood, Pat was selected to be Sergeant at the School of Musketry at Salisbury Plains, England where he stayed until the end of the war.

With the Armistice signed on 11 November 1918 the welcome home for the first Diggers from overseas was, at times, quite astonishing. On 28 January 1919 the Queanbeyan Age reported that three ANZACs from the Bungendore district: Colonel Rutledge, Major Leahy and Sergeant Donnelly “…… were given a warm and hearty welcome home on Wednesday in the Federal Hall which was crowded to excess”. The town band played patriotic music for an hour outside “before proceedings commenced” and each man was presented with “a handsomely inscribed gold medal”. The Welcome Home Committee had also organised refreshments and dancing “which was thoroughly enjoyed and kept up until midnight”. Bearing in mind that for the past four years the newspapers were full of bereavement notices for those soldiers, sailors and airmen who didn’t come home the joyous
celebrations would have been difficult for some families in the community.

Upon his return to civilian life, Pat was employed by his uncle on his grazing property. In 1920 he applied for a Soldier Settler Block in the Federal Capital Territory, block 98A, which is where the showground (EPIC) is currently located. He was offered an adjoining block of 580 acres, which is now a section on the western side of the Federal Highway just north of EPIC and North Watson on the other side of the highway. His lease was for 12 years from 1920 to 1932.

Pat became difficult to deal with and made some bad decisions. The question is whether or not he was affected by PTSD! Examples were constant arguing with government employees who were required to inspect his land, and eloping with his first cousin five days before Christmas.

Pat was a successful farmer but, in 1932, when it came time for his lease to be renewed he was offered only a two-year extension so he left and purchased some freehold land in NSW, near Blayney. In 1937 he purchased the unused Blayney Town Hall and reopened it as a picture theatre. It was bombed only one month later. At a trial, the suspect was found not guilty.

Pat bought some harvesting machinery from “a Canberra man” (possibly one of the Gribble family, well-known in Canberra). Unfortunately, the first time it was used on Pat’s farm turned out to be disastrous. An eye-witness described the events:

“Then Pat lost a wheat crop and his harvesting machine. The men were working in the back paddock when mum took the smoko out to the men. They had stopped for afternoon tea in the middle of the paddock. They saw smoke. Apparently one of the men had dropped a cigarette butt and there was a hot breeze blowing and within minutes the wheat crop was alight. Pat managed to get the truck out of there but the traction engine, which was steam driven, and towing the threshing machine (which divided the wheat from the ears of wheat) was burnt to the ground.”

Pat won many events at sheep-dog trials, including at the Sydney Easter Show. He was keen on horse racing and built his own racetrack. At one stage, he was accused of training racehorses using batteries but there was “no charge”. However, he was guilty of entering a ring-in horse at a Cowra race meeting.

Pat separated from wife (they had no children) but did not divorce. He sold his property and moved to Sydney where he started a successful lawn mowing business. He purchased Sea Wolf, a huge 48 feet long deep-sea fishing cruiser, which had been used as a Navy rescue boat in the Battle of the Coral Sea.

Pat became friendly with radio personalities Bob and Dolly Dyer of Pick-a-box fame. However, his health was deteriorating from the effects of his war injuries – bullet wounds, including one to the knee, trench feet and mustard gas from which his left lung never cleared up completely. Pat died at a relatively young age (59) from the effects of these injuries.

2017-09-22 Cowra Japanese Gardens Excursion

Google Photos

John Jervis – the Towrang Convict Stockade, 15th Sep 2017

Information from Shed Newsletter #395. John gave us a great presentation. Towrang is 11 km north-east of Goulburn close to the area in which John Jervis spent his young years. John has extensively studied the early history of the region around Goulburn and Marulan; the Towrang Convict Stockade is a fascinating part of that history. Brochure in pdf of the Stockade

The stockade, which was constructed in the early 1830s, is located on farmland between Towrang and Carrick Roads beside the Hume Highway opposite the Derrick VC rest area.

The stockade was one of several built in the 1830s to house convicts work building the “Great South Road” which was designed to provide access from Sydney to the agricultural areas around Goulburn. Other stockades were located at Wingello, Black Bob’s Creek, Berrima, Bargo and Yerrinbool.

The Towrang Stockade was similar to these others, with convicts housed in four by three metre cells, known as ‘elephant boxes’, each holding 10 convicts. The convicts were in two groups – those in leg irons and those without. The former consisted of men who had been convicted of serious crimes (murder, rape etc) and were sentenced to at least 14 years, and life in some cases, while the latter group comprised those who had committed less serious crimes. The leg irons came in different weights and with varying lengths of chain, with those weighing about 7kgs being used on the more recalcitrant convicts. They were also supervised by military guards.

The Towrang site includes a powder magazine and a small cemetery. Nearby is the Towrang Bridge, built as part of Surveyor Thomas Mitchell’s Great South Road in 1839, and six stone culverts, two of which are still in very good condition. The mortar holding them together was made from ground-up mussel shells.

John showed a cat-of-nine tails, which is clearly a nasty instrument, proved by the fact that he has to register it annually with the police as an offensive weapon and store it in a gun cupboard.

Shed members were asked to indicate their interest in an excursion to the stockade

around April next year. There was sufficient interest to ensure that it will happen.

Towrang Map
Map of Towrang

The first road built south of Mittagong was the South or Argyle Road which was built between 1818 and 1833. It headed south near Marulan towards Lake Bathurst rather than to Goulburn. Macquarie’s Government Road was built in the first half of the 1820s. It ran from near the current intersection of the Hume and Illawarra Highways along the tops of the hills on the northern side of the Wollondilly River (the English practice was to build on hills to avoid the wet ground in the English valleys). As a result, it was a difficult road to travel on and the western part was replaced by Riley’s Road, constructed between 1822 and 1839. All these were superseded by Mitchell’s Great South Road, which was progressively opened between 1830 and 1843 and which was built, broadly speaking, along the current alignment of the Hume Highway between Mittagong and Goulburn.

Bridge over Towrang Creek
Bridge near Derrick Rest Area

Letters From The Trenches – Part 4, 4th Aug 2017

Roger presented another episode on World War I letters written by his great uncle Stan Willis who perished in the war. To provide context for Stan’s letters, Roger added comments on life in Australia, and on the history of the war.

This episode started with a letter written in January 2017 when Stan arrived in Portsmouth after nine weeks and four days at sea.

Living conditions weren’t the best. Two men had to share each bed; however, they were issued with six blankets each which they used as follows: seven blankets to cover them, with the remainder to be used to cover the straw filled mattress or to form pillows.

On the brighter side, Stan and his brother were able to spend some time in London. This city amazed the two country boys, and Stan mentioned several of the ‘tourist sites’ they visited. Stan wrote that he wished he could save enough money to bring his family to the city. Perhaps it wouldn’t have been his Methodist mother’s cup of tea – Stan had to assure her that he hadn’t been led astray by bad women, and that he hadn’t been succumbed into partaking of the devil drink even though his comrades called him a ‘wowser’.

In March Stan wrote to his family the day before he was to be suddenly deployed to France. He was posted to the battle-hardened 21 Battalion to replace casualties suffered at Gallipoli and in France.

On 10 April he wrote of the horrors of Bullecourt and Ypres, and mentioned some close shaves he had had. He asked his family to pray for him.

On 19 August (100 years ago this month) he wrote from a sick bed in a military hospital.

Kellie Toohey Gave a Talk on How Exercise Can Assist Cancer Patients With Recovery – 28th July 2017

Kellie has visited the Shed several times most notably on Feb 26th 2016 when she and several students talked about their work at UC.

Kellie’s talk was officially titled “Exercise: The effects on Health Outcomes and CVD risk in Cancer Survivors

The following information is from Shed Newsletter #388 dated 4th Aug 2017

Kellie is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist who is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Exercise Physiology at the University of Canberra. She is also studying the final year of a doctorate, and so over the past few years has been heavily involved in research on the effects of exercise on cancer sufferers.

The Shed thanks Kellie for her interesting presentation, commends her on the fine work that she has done which will help so many people, congratulate her on almost finishing her doctorate, and looks forward to addressing her as ‘Doctor’ in the very near future.

We assure her that as a consequence of UC activities at the Shed over recent years, including this latest presentation, Shed members will involve themselves in more exercise than would otherwise have been the case.

Kellie was introduced by Don Gruber. Don, who is suffering from cancer, has been undergoing exercises under Kellie’s supervision, is an enthusiastic admirer of her skills and empathy.

Kellie began by explaining that she would speak on four topics: The University of Canberra; Cancer and exercise; Exercise recommendations; and Time efficient exercise protocols in improving the health of cancer survivors.

1. University of Canberra

Kellie’s enthusiasm about her university has no limit. She advised that the University of Canberra is regarded as being in the top 100 young universities in the world, that it has a 90% graduate employment record, and that its graduates have above-average starting salaries.

The university has a strong health focus. It already has excellent allied health-care training facilities in a well-appointed health ‘hub’. However, the university’s almost completed hospital will greatly increase the facilities. Included in the hospital are rehabilitation, aged car, and child care centres; residential facilities might also be built.

UC courses are very practical, and students are closely involved with the care of patients. U3A members are currently mentoring students on a volunteer basis.

2. Cancer and the Benefits of Exercise

Kellie displayed a table showing the frequency of new cancer cases diagnosed in Australia in 2016. The total diagnosed was 130,466. The present survival rate after 5 years is about 80%.

Of the cancer patients diagnosed over the past five years, approximately 600,000 are still alive and require medical treatment.

Many cancer patients also suffer from other diseases (comorbidities). In a Year 2000 survey, 1823 persons 58% self-identified as having at least one other disease.

Treatment of patients has side effects. CV fitness, muscle mass, and quality of life all fall, and depressive symptoms, fatigue (often for years) all rise.

(A member of the audience asked ‘How do we know when we are depressed?’  Kellie referred to such things as sadness, not getting pleasure out of the things we do, anxiety, and emotional stress. However, the important factor is the length of time we get such feelings; it is normal to feel down for short periods of time, but if such feelings last for weeks then depression probably exists.)

Exercise helps to overcome these problems, especially as there is lessening of the deconditioning caused by sedentary behaviour. Trials (including the voluntary running of mice) show that exercise can reduce tumour growth by 60% to 70%. However, more research is needed; that research needs to look at how much exercise and what types of exercise are optimal.

Potential exercise effects on tumour growth include:

  • Blood flow – chemo drugs can get into the tumour more efficiently;
  • Muscles produce chemicals that destroy tumour cells;
  • Natural killer cells (NKC) become more active; and
  • Adrenalin and IL6 rise.  Interleukin 6 (IL-6) is an interleukin that acts as both a pro-inflammatory cytokine and an anti-inflammatory myokine. In humans, it is encoded by the IL6 gene.)

Unfortunately, structured exercise is not yet commonly prescribed.

3. Exercise Recommendations

The Cancer Council of Australia recommends at least 20 minutes of moderate activity per day. There is a link at the bottom of this article to Cancer Council recommended exercises.

Medicine Australia recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week, or an equivalent amount of high intensity exercise and two to three sessions of resistance based exercises.

A general rule is that more is usually better than less.

4. Kellie’s PhD Study – Time efficient exercise protocol in improving the health of cancer survivors

Kelly’s PhD work involved several studies. Some of these are outlined below.

One research project published in the International Journal of Health Sciences and Research (accepted September 2016) was ‘Do activity patterns and body weight change after a cancer diagnosis?’

Her aim was to determine what impact (if any) a cancer diagnosis would have on self reported activity levels and body weight.

From her sample of 90 patients (81 female, 9 male, mean age 41-50), she found:

For weight:  60% gained weight, and only 26% lost weight.

For activity patterns: In the 12 months post-diagnosis, cancer survivors report increasing their sleeping time and reducing their levels of vigorous and light physical activity (PA).

This may or may not be related to the increases in body weight.

Despite the message of the importance of PA during and after treatment for cancer, people tend to shift their activity patterns towards a more undesirable profile – Increases risk of recurrence and other chronic diseases.

It was known that high-intensity exercise (HIE) is gaining popularity as an effective and time efficient intervention for cancer survivors to improve health.

Another of her research topics was: High-Intensity Exercise Interventions in Cancer Survivors: A Systematic Review Exploring the Impact on Health Outcomes.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of HIE interventions in improving health outcomes in cancer survivors.

Her method was to review other studies.

A search returned 423 articles, of which eight studies (including 507 participants) were included. A high percentage of the cancer survivors included in this review were diagnosed with either breast (25%), lung (23%) colorectal (10%) cancer.

HIE interventions of four to 18 weeks consisting of 15 seconds to four minute intervals of HIE were compared to a continuous moderate intensity (CMIT) protocol or a control group.

Significant improvements in the HIE intervention compared to the CMIT or control group were reported in VO2 max, maximal strength, body mass, body fat, hip and waist circumference.

Mixed mode interventions that included both aerobic and resistance exercise were most effective improving the fitness levels of cancer survivors by 12.45 to 21.35%.

Her conclusions were:

  • Participation in HIE interventions improved physical and physiological health related outcome measures in cancer survivors.
  • Given that HIE sessions require a shorter time commitment for cancer survivors; it may be a useful tool for those who are time poor.
  • There seems to be low risk in participating in HIE. However it may be appropriate for patients to be screened by a clinician prior to participating in this exercise modality.

Details of another study published in October 2016 “A pilot study examining the effects of low-volume high-intensity interval training and continuous low to moderate intensity training on quality of life, functional capacity and cardiovascular risk factors in cancer survivors

Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of low-volume (LV) high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and continuous low to moderate intensity training on quality of life, functional capacity and cardiovascular disease risk factors in cancer survivors.


  • HIIT = 30 sec cycling at a HR 85-90% of predicted HR max followed by 60 sec active recovery x 7
  • Moderate = 20 minutes of continuous cycling at 50-65% predicted HR max
  • Assessments: Physical function, QoL, body composition, arterial stiffness.

Results were:

Significant improvements (time) were observed for waist circumference and white blood cell count; augmentation pressure (AP) and central diastolic pressure (CDP); overall quality of life and the quality of life subscales (physical, emotional, functional well-being).

Waist circumference decreased from pre to post intervention in the LVHIIT group

Conclusions were:

  • LVHIIT may have increased benefits in improving fitness levels and anthropometric measures and provide a time efficient.
  • Supervised LVHIIT and CLMIT can be safely carried out by cancer survivors.
  • Changes were seen in both LVHIIT and CLMIT groups in different variables, suggesting that the two types of intensities target different outcomes making it difficult to conclude if LVHIIT or CLMIT is better.
  • Cancer survivors will most likely gain the best benefits by incorporating both forms of training.
  • More research is required to understand the mechanisms by which these changes occur, so that clinicians can provide clinically relevant evidenced-based exercise prescription for cancer survivors.

Finally, where will Kelly’s research go to from here?

  • Specific guidelines for those with treatment effects (neuropathies, incontinence, fatigue etc)
  • Mechanisms involved in the changes; HRV, cortisol, brain (MRI) and heart (Echo) function
  • Guidelines given to patients at diagnosis
  • Specific programs in cancer centres for people going through treatment

References for those who wish to read more

From ABC Radio Canberra Fri 28th Jul 2017 a 16min audio podcast “High intensity exercise, working up a sweat, and chemotherapy may seem like an odd combination, but what began as a University of Canberra project has turned into an on-going exercise program to help people with cancer

Exercise for People Living With Cancer” a 56 page pdf document developed by the Cancer Council of NSW with input provided by Kellie Toohey

John Edge Gave a Talk on the Survivability of the Aust Electricity Network – 2nd June 2017

John Edge talked about survivability issues with the National Electricity Grid with emphasis on the impact of non-synchronous intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind & solar. John also spoke about the possibilities with Snowy 2.0 & showed some slides of how it might eventuate. The following is mostly a copy from Newsletter #380.

Recently there has been much comment in the media on the fragility of our electricity supply, particularly in South Australia & Queensland. Much of this comment is confusing & unfortunately is written by media people rather than people with expert subject knowledge. John set about explaining the complexity of the problem & suggested some of the solutions.

John explained the general structure of the electricity & transmission industry, starting with generation and ending with consumption. The structure consists of generation, step-up voltage transformation, transmission, step-down voltage transformation, distribution system & finally, connections to consumers.

The next thing John explained is the way the industry is managed & controlled. The industry is separated into a multitude of competing entities consisting of generation entities, transmission entities, distribution entities & retailers. These entities are managed by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) operating under the authority of the Australian Energy Market Regulator (AEMR).

The important thing to realise is that AC electrical energy is not something that can be stored as AC energy. Consequently, AC energy must be used as it is produced. In other words; production of energy must be equal to consumption of energy. From moment to moment this is not always the case.

John then explained how complex the National Electricity Grid is and how additional generating capacity can be added to or subtracted from the grid and what happens when the grid is stressed or is over saturated. He explained how and why the grid collapses, as happened recently in South Australia, causing many days without electricity being available and with the interconnect from Victoria collapsing as it was unable to handle the increased South Australian load as intermittent power sources (wind generators and solar panels) became disconnected from the grid.

In relatively recent times there has been much discussion about renewable energy sources. This discussion has been particularly about Wind Turbine Farms and Solar Farms. The discussion also includes the roof-top solar panels installed on private residences & commercial & industrial buildings. Wind & Solar energy is by its nature intermittent. The connection into the grid of energy generated from these sources is therefore intermittent. The electricity grid can cope with a degree of intermittency, but there comes a point where there must be something available in the system to compensate for the intermittency. This point has now been reached in the system.

One solution to addressing compensation for any loss of generation from intermittent sources is hydro power which is the key element is the ‘Snowy 2 Proposal’ recently announced by the Prime Minister. Snowy 2.0 is a pumped hydro project with the potential to provide storage for large scale, reliable renewable energy to Australia at a time when energy security and climate change are at the forefront of public policy. Essentially this involves the building of three tunnels – a headrace of 17Km to take water from Tantangara Dam to a new underground power station, a tailrace of 9Km to exit the water to Talbingo Reservoir & a third tunnel to access the power station. The proposal envisages a 2,000MW capacity, raising the Snowy Scheme’s overall capacity by 50%. This energy storage capacity could then be used to mitigate times of high demand & would provide a rapid-response capability when electricity supply is under duress. During periods of low demand, Snowy 2 would utilise excess power to pump water back to Tantangara Dam for re-use during periods of high demand. This is important as we reduce reliance on fossil fuels & increase use of cleaner energy.

John’s talk was fairly technical & there was much more discussed than identified above. Thanks John for a very informative presentation and for the use of your technical notes.

John’s Talk | Extracts from John’s Talk  – John did not get to talk about all the items in these documents

Jeff Brown – Australian Survivor 2002 Gave a Fabulous Talk – 19th May 2017

Those 19 members who didn’t attend the excursion to the National Gallery were entertained by member Jeff Brown. Most members would not have known that Jeff was a participant (the oldest participant) in Australian Survivor 2002. Australian Survivor 2002 was the first season overall of the Australian franchise of Survivor.

Filmed in the Eyre Peninsula near Port Lincoln, participants competed for $500,000. The format of the season followed closely on the inaugural edition of the American Survivor franchise. Sixteen castaways were selected to compete, divided into two tribes, identified by a different buff (American marketed ‘headwear for the active’).

As the series progressed, Survivors were evicted until the last remaining contestant was announced as the winner. The evicted contestant from each episode was featured in an interview on Channel 9’s Today show on the following day.

Jeff was an interesting presenter, telling us of his background, why he decided to nominate and how he managed to be selected following his production of a ten minute video which opened the door to the next selection stages.

He told of having to live off the land eating flowers and seafood that he could scrape off the rocks and of the need to walk 8Km return each day just to get drinking water. He told of how the Tribe members had to retrieve two telegraph poles following a 150 metre swim through freezing, shark infested waters. They then had to haul the poles up a steep sandy slope where each foot forward resulted in an 11” slide back in the soft sand. On eventually reaching the top they then had to lift the telegraph poles up against another pole.

Jeff talked about the freezing and wet conditions and the difficulty of getting a reasonable sleep in the bush. He talked about the intrigue and personalities of the participants and also talked about the mental impact on participants saying that many never recovered from the stresses to which they were subjected.

After the series was broadcast, participants were in much demand as speakers and together raised significant funds which were donated to community aid projects in Thailand and elsewhere.
Would he have entered had he known at the time what he knows now? Probably not.

Google Photos

Visit to the National Gallery of Australia 19th May 2017

13 Shed members attended the National Gallery excursion. A Gallery guide took members through the Indigenous Art section and then on to see some modern art. The National Gallery of Australia collects art of the highest artistic merit and excellence created by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The Indigenous art of Australia is part of the oldest continuing living culture in the world and one of the two major art traditions operating within Australia today.

Following the guided tour, members perused the art on display whilst others enjoyed coffee.

The Gallery is the Commonwealth of Australia’s national cultural institution for the visual arts and is a portfolio agency within the Department of Communications and the Arts.

Google Photos

Ray Osmotherly – Running a one man school- 5th May 2017

Ray gave an interesting talk. Some Google photos of his school experiences

Kevin’s 2015 trip to Gallipoli for the Centenary of the ANZAC landing – 28th April 2017

From Newsletter # 375

Canberra resident Kevin Kirk was our quest speaker. His topic was ‘Kevin’s 2015 trip to Gallipoli for the Centenary of the ANZAC landing’. Kevin is a second cousin of President Roger Amos at whose invitation he accepted to address our group. Part of the speech includes references to Roger’s great uncle Carl Amos who was killed on the first day of battle.

Kevin’s father served at Gallipoli but landed in November and was one of the last to leave the Peninsula in December, 1915. He later served on the Western Front as a Lewis Gunner and survived the War.

It was due to this connection that Kevin entered the national ballot and was one of the lucky 8,000 who were selected. He was accompanied by his son, although his wife was also on the cruise ship they travelled on.

Kevin’s talk explained the reason for the campaign. There were actually 3 campaigns – Sea, Land and a little-known Air war. The naval battles were a failure due to the ships hitting mines laid by the Turks.

Kevin started his tour from Lemnos which played an important role in the campaign as a staging point for the troops and then providing military hospitals for the wounded who were evacuated from Gallipoli and the important role played by the Nurses. Special mention was made of Matron Jessie Haggard who literally died in her sleep from exhaustion. Troops also trained at Moudras Beach, however as the beach was flat it did not represent the conditions to be found at Gallipoli. A ceremony is held on Lemnos each year several days earlier to coincide with the date the troops embarked for battle.

The talk included mention of the various battles that took place, eg., The Nek, Lone Pine etc. Mention was also made of L/Cpl Harris who was killed but was only 15 years 10 months old. His father signed his papers knowing the age of his son, but could not do anything as he himself had enlisted at a very young age and served in China years previously.

Kevin spoke about the many memorials on the Peninsula representing both sides. A large memorial is dedicated to the Turkish 57th Regiment which was completed wiped out. To this day, there is no 57th Regiment in the Turkish Armed Forces in recognition of their sacrifice.

Kevin carried with him a set of replica medals which he hoped to place on the headstone of Carl Amos, but as the road to the cemetery where Carl lay was closed he was unable to reach his grave. Instead he paid tribute to Carl at the grave of a fellow 1st Battalion comrade. Kevin also paid tribute to John Simpson Kirkpatrick and also a member of his father’s unit, by taking photos of the headstones with the replica medals laying on them.

It is interesting to note that the Turks suffered 10 times more casualties than the Allies.

As part of Kevin’s presentation, he played a video of the speech made by the then Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, which he considered the best of all those delivered at the Dawn Service. It was certainly a moving speech.

Kevin suggested that if one is considering visiting Gallipoli that they do their homework, especially learning what happened and where the various battles were staged.

Visit to the National Aboretum 7th April 2017

Google Photos

Michael Dwyer Talked to the Shed about Polio and How it Effected his Family & Others – 24th March 2017

From Newsletters #370 & 371. Michael Dwyer presented a session on Polio, a virus that destroys nerve cells causing muscle wasting and paralysis. It is a virus that spreads through contaminated food or water. Michael’s presentation on this subject was from a personal perspective in that he related the story of his elder sister’s journey with Polio over a span of 85 years.

As far as Australia is concerned, Polio first became evident in Tasmania in 1909 and it became a notifiable virus in that state in 1912, with all of the other states and territories effecting this notification requirement by 1922.

In 1938 Australia recorded its highest incidence of paralytic polio with 39.1 people per 100,000 contracting this virus. Some years later Sister Kenny, a famous Australian anti-Polio veteran campaigner, was instrumental in introducing radical yet effective techniques in promoting the mobilisation and activity of affected limbs by patients, as opposed to the standard accepted treatment of the day via immobilisation via splints etc. This brought her much opposition and scorn form many in the science and medical profession and she was not truly recognised for her efforts until she took her ideas and radical method to the United States of America.

The Salk Inactivate Polio (IPV) was introduced into Australia in 1956 and went into production at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (CSL). Following this, in 1966, the Sabin Oral Polio vaccine (OPU) was introduced into Australia.

In 1988 the Australian President of the International Rotary Foundation, Sir Clem Renouf, led the campaign to vaccinate every child against Polio. This campaign has been faithfully maintained to the present day by Rotary International. This focussed action is also being increasingly supported by scientists and health advocates throughout the world, as we remain vulnerable to this debilitating virus.

The last case of acquired Polio in Australia was reported in 1972, and the Western Pacific Region including Australia was declared Polio-free by the World Health Organisation in 2000. The number of Polio cases worldwide decreased by more than 99% from 350,000 cases in 1988 to fewer than 420 cases in 2013. The world’s longest surviving Polio patient spent 60 years in an iron lung, an incredible span of time, until her death in Melbourne at the age of 83 in 2009.

Pat’s Story

The Polio virus, destroying nerve cells and causing muscle wasting and paralysis, has affected millions of people throughout the world over many years and severely impacted on their lives. One such person is Michael Dwyer’s older sister Pat, who has endured the effects of Polio for the majority of her life. Here is Pat’s story, as told for the first time by Michael:

“My sister has lived with polio for 85 years. Pat has faced challenges almost beyond our understanding. At seven years of age she was a very healthy girl. Then came the accident.

Pat and a sister had attempted to ride a horse under the slip-rails at the cow yard. Her sister, holding the reins, ducked her head but Pat’s view was blocked and she was knocked to the ground, fracturing her arm. Apparently, she contracted the polio virus while she was being treated at the doctor’s surgery. A few days later she became paralysed, was admitted to the local hospital and given the Last Rites as she was not expected to live.

The slip-rails are long gone, but the family farmhouse which hasn’t been lived in for sixty years is a great spot for a successful family reunion.
From time to time the nurses unsuccessfully tried to get Pat to walk. Her parents were told that their daughter should be placed in a Home for Crippled Children. The approved treatment at that time for infantile paralysis was to keep the patient as immobile as possible, so Pat spent most of the next six months lying in her hospital bed. Then her doctor obtained a bed for her at Canonbury, a small convalescent hospital at Darling Point, Sydney.

Here she received intensive treatment that included special corsets, arm splints, an exercise program – and daily schooling. Unfortunately, Pat spent a large part of each day in a type of laced-up straight-jacket; her arms were bent at the elbows and placed in bandaged splints. Elizabeth Kenny paid a visit to Canonbury and expressed concern about the bandages on Pat’s arms. The unqualified nurse knew that muscles would waste away unless they were used. But her ideas, controversial at the time, were slow to be accepted.

There were also happy memories for Pat. She recalls going by taxi to a big picture theatre in Sydney to watch a movie starring Shirley Temple.

There were no fees at Canonbury. All treatment and accommodation costs were covered by the AJC, which had converted a residence into a hospital for polio patients. Pat was discharged aged 14. Thanks to some improvement in the methods of treatment and her own courage and determination, she was now walking normally. However, she had totally lost the use of her left arm and only limited use of her right arm. Both arms were withered and remained so throughout her life.

Pat returned home briefly. Then she applied for a job at the Far West Children’s Home at Manly where she lived and worked for twelve years. She became very independent and learned to use her teeth and feet to help her do everyday things. Her duties included taking groups of up to ten young country patients by bus and ferry to attend specialist doctors’ appointments across Sydney. This would not have been an easy job!

Painstakingly, Pat learnt to type using one hand. Who could she send a letter to? She chose Princess Margaret who lived in a palace.

An article in the Hobart Mercury of 24 April 1948, accompanying a group photo, reads…Children at the Far West Home, Manly, gather around Pat Dwyer, an infantile paralysis victim, who wrote to Princess Margaret “as one girl guide to another” asking her if she could spare an hour to visit the home next year. A Buckingham Palace spokesman said that it was almost certain the Royal Party would make the visit.

But the King was in poor health and the trip to Australia was cancelled. So, Pat did not meet her princess. In 1970, after a visit by the Queen, the organisation became the Royal Far West Children’s Scheme.

Pat married the man she fell in love with, although her doctors strongly advised her not to try to have children. But after several miscarriages Pat gave birth to a healthy boy. For many years, she cared for her son while her husband was at work.

Pat and her family were now living in their own home: this was a high point in her life. And further down the track there would be a daughter-in-law followed by grandchildren.

My big sister has lived a full and productive life and continues to enjoy a chat over a good cup of tea. Despite her disability, Pat joined the workforce, married, gave birth to a son, lived on her own when her husband died, and is a cherished grandmother. Recently, the family celebrated Pat’s 92nd birthday.”

Canonbury and Sister Elizabeth Kenny

At the point where Canonbury and Sister Elizabeth Kenny were referred to in Michael’s presentation, Bob Wills and Roger Amos shared with us some ‘For’ and ‘Against’ points about the life and work of Sister Kenny (1880-1952). This remarkable and determined campaigner for a (then) radical alternative treatment for patients suffering from the polio virus received both strong animosity and wide acclaim during her career.

These ‘For’ and ‘Against points are summarised below;
* Unqualified (little formal education, but developed a working knowledge of nursing when volunteering at a northern NSW hospital). However, in 1913 she opened a hospital in the Darling Downs where she pursued (apparently successfully) her alternative treatment practices (heated cloth application mobility exercises as opposed to immobilisation)

* Claims about her nursing work and locations in WW1 were said to be exaggerated, however she did in fact contribute through her work as a nurse on troopships bringing soldiers back to Australia. Given the title ‘Sister’ in 1916-17.

* Uncomplimentary names, including “Doctor-bashing Battle-axe” were aimed at her among strong opponents to her radical ideas, also unkind criticism for her imposing figure and large hats

* Mischievous sense of humour * Inventor of the ‘Sylvia’ stretcher for use in ambulances * Took her controversial treatments to America where she received wide recognition and admiration * Opened the Sister Kenny Institute in Minneapolis USA in 1942 * Authored several books on the cause and treatment of infantile paralysis and the Kenny Method * Received honorary degrees and gave speeches in USA
* Returning to Australia and retiring in 1951, Sister Kenny’s highly effective work gained little attention following the introduction of polio vaccines that ultimately became the primary control method.

Michael then requested any input from members who had any personal experience with polio. These contributions are summarised below

Geoff Grimmett spoke of his contracting polio at the age of three. Having become very ill on a long steam train trip to Kempsey NSW, doctors confirmed Geoff had polio and he was immediately put into hospital in Kempsey for an extended stay of many weeks. Very thankful for his mother’s attentive and intuitive actions (holding him and effectively stopping him from bearing his own weight) and subsequent hospital treatment, Geoff was only left with some minor leg-muscle wasting in his right leg and associated spinal stress (later fused), as a result.

Peter Mitchell recounted his father’s encounter with polio. After unexpectedly collapsing, Peter’s Dad was put into hospital and constrained in an iron lung in Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) Hospital. Eventually returning to Goulburn where he received massage therapy he was able to leave the iron lung and received and maintained physiotherapy treatment. Peter recalled a special moment for his family when his Dad was able to come home for Christmas dinner in a specially-designed wheelchair. Mr Mitchell retained a limp in his right leg for the rest of his life.

Callum Reid, Roger Amos and Brian Harber spoke very briefly of friends they had known who had contracted this virus and the long-term effects and impact this had on their subsequent lives.

Peter McCardle spoke on the wonderful contribution that Rotary had made to fighting and eradicating polio throughout the world. This effort started in 1988, being led by the then Australian President of the International Rotary Foundation, Sir Clem Renouf. Rotary to date have given over 250 million dollars to this fight. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are also supporting this great cause by donating $3 for every $1 that Rotary can raise, which is a wonderful effort.

Margaret Wade author of “Canberra Secrets” Talked to the Shed about her Passion for Canberra – 10th March 2017

From Newsletter #369. We enjoyed a very interesting and informative presentation from Marg Wade, author, regular radio guest speaker and now local tour guide. A number of our members may have heard Marg’s voice on her regular radio spots on the last Saturday of the month on ABC Radio Canberra (7.10 am) and 2CC (11.15am), and weekly on Mondays on 2CA (7.15am) when she relates stories and interesting facts about people and places in this great city in which we live. Marg published the first edition of her book “Canberra’s Secrets” in 1999, and it has been so successful that its third edition is due to be published later this year. After leaving her teaching position in 1999 Marg decided to write a book and sought the advice and assistance of the ACT Writers Centre – the rest is history…the subsequent “Canberra Secrets” publication, a resident and visitors guide to Canberra, was born!

Margaret Wade talking to Shed
Margaret Wade talking to Shed

Marg then undertook the position of Marketing Manager with Sing Australia, a private organisation led by Colin Slater OAM. This was an exciting three-year period for Marg personally and the organisation itself, with 43 choirs being established Australia-wide and 7 more ready to start at the time of her departure from this position. For her work in this role Marg was awarded a Life Membership for outstanding service to Sing Australia.

Following publication of the second edition of “Canberra Secrets” Marg decided to use her substantial marketing, media and promotional skills in a number of Public Service positions, namely: Communications and Marketing Manager, Environment ACT; Senior Arts Communications Advisor at the Department of Communications and the Arts; International education promotion and Departmental Liaison Officer with Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) and Online Marketing Manager at the National Archives of Australia.

Resigning from her role at the National Archives Marg decided to have a “Sea Change” and start her own business – an exciting new venture called “Canberra Secrets” Tours – a range of small bus and walking tours around Canberra led by Marg. This venture brings together Marg’s passion for Canberra and its history generally, and her ability to share with others the great sites and public places we have in our National Capital. Examples of these tours are the half-day “Highlights” Tour (8-person bus trip) looking at such important and historic buildings as Surveyors Hut and other public buildings; the “Kangaroo Spotting” tour; “Café Culture” and “Cupping” coffee walking tours. As Marg says, “Life is busy and exciting!”  Click here for more information on the tours available from Canberra Secrets.

As Canberra Day occurs again on Sunday 12 March (the official date) Marg was keen to tell us something of the original Canberra Day, the day set aside to commemorate the founding and naming of Canberra as our National Capital. Marg spoke to a PowerPoint presentation that included historic photos of that special day on 12 March 1913 and shared with us some of the people involved and the fascinating stories that occurred on that cold Canberra morning.

We saw photos of the laying of the Foundation stones, involving the Governor-General of the day Lord Denman, Prime Minister Andrew Fisher, King O’Malley, Minister for State and Home Affairs, and Lady Denman.

Foundation stones of the intended Commencement Column monument were laid by the Governor-General, the Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher, and the Minister for State and Home Affairs, King O`Malley. These stones were originally laid at Camp Hill, a little further down towards lake Burley Griffin from Capital Hill, about 80 metres north of Old Parliament House. Never actually constructed, the monument’s column was intended to be 27 ft. high and mounted on six granite blocks, with one block coming from each state.

Marg then “painted” a picture of the day for us. It was a freezing cold morning and the site was covered with temporary tent accommodation. Heavy rainfall in the area leading up to the event saw the field hospital site flooded. In those days, it took the local dignitaries and VIP’s some three hours to reach the site from their accommodation in Queanbeyan (they had caught the train from Melbourne and Sydney respectively). Cars and horse buggies, wagons etc. filed along the dusty roads to the site. The official ceremony commenced at 11.30am as scheduled. The commemorative stones were then laid in the order: 1. Lord Denman 2. Andrew Fisher and 3. King O’Malley. After a hymn was sung accompanied by the various bands, the ‘big’ event was finally under way..the revealing of the official name to be adopted for the National Capital. Apparently, this was eagerly anticipated by the crowds, after a wide range of weird and wonderful names had been put forward e.g. ‘Cookaburra’ and ‘Marsupiala’. More serious names, for example, “Myola” (an aboriginal word) favoured by Prime Minister Fisher and “Shakespeare” (O’Malley’s choice) were also in contention.

Lady Denman, wife of the Governor General, then opened the container that held the official name and duly announced the name Canberra (which Marg said she pronounced ‘Canbra’). The official program ended with a luncheon for the invited guests, accompanied by speeches by dignitaries and politicians of the day. The original Foundation (or Commemoration) Stone was relocated on Capital Hill on Canberra Day 12 March 1988. A small plaque exists to acknowledge the original site of this stone on Camp Hill.

What a momentous day in Australia’s history!

Marg then concluded her presentation by taking a many questions and comments from the floor related to her talk. Asked what her motivation was in getting involved in promoting Canberra and its qualities, Marg related how she had once overheard a QLD politician state to interviewer Ray Martin (when he asked whether the politician would consider moving to Canberra if elected) that no, Canberra was a “dreary place”! Well, Marg needed no other motivation and immediately felt energised to correct that false impression and begin promoting Canberra Day in particular.

Marg related Prime Minister Menzies’s original dislike of Canberra and his eventual shift to appreciate and enjoy it, expounding its virtues.

Asked about the history of the (now deteriorating) Sydney and Melbourne Buildings in Civic, Marg explained that these were the original commercial hub of Canberra. Originally Government-owned for its business, the individual buildings were then leased to private operators, which was never intended. Marg said that the Melbourne Building was in fact not finished until after the Second World War, even though it was officially opened years before in 1928.

Questions from the floor confirmed, as did Marg, the wonderful contribution made to the social life of Canberra by Gus Petersilka, the vital Viennese-born restaurateur who introduced al fresco dining to Canberra despite strong local Government resistance and hindering.

Marg was equally delighted to receive feedback and interesting local information from several people who were, like many of our members, long-standing Canberra residents. Marg was interested to hear about the terribly dry weather leading up to the opening of Lake Burley Griffin by Prime Minister Robert Menzies in October 1964. It was only a matter of days before the opening that the Lake was dry, but local heavy local rains and floods along the Molonglo River ensured that the lake was filled, and to its intended level – quite amazing!

Thanks to Marg for her fascinating talk. It was inspiring to hear from one who is so passionately committed to promoting Canberra and its environs.

BBQ Excursion to Uriarra Crossing – 3rd March 2017

26 members went in 10 cars to Uriarra Crossing for the monthly BBQ. A large number were also at the Shed from 8-30-9.30AM for assessment by UC Students to determine their status and if they were suitable for attending the further Exercises Sessions in the following 5 weeks. Google Photos

University of Canberra – Faculty of Health – 24th Feb 2017

From Newsletter #367 – Kellie Toohey together with students Sophie, Alex, Kayla, Alex and Adam, from the Faculty of Health at the University of Canberra, presented a session on fitness.

With a focus on innovative education methods, the Faculty is continuously evolving and producing high quality graduates and leading health research and has previously organised exercise programs at our Shed.

Kellie is a PhD Scholar and Lecturer, Clinical Assistant Professor (Exercise Physiology), Sport and Exercise Science at the Faculty. Among other activities she is involved in research on how exercise can help cancer and heart attack patients. She indicated that many cancer victims don’t exercise after treatment and her studies are focussed on helping these people and assessing how their cognitive ability and heart performance is helped by exercise. She is always on the lookout for suitable volunteers so if you fall into this category, and would like to join an exercise program, please contact Kellie. Kellie thanked the Shed for the opportunity to link up with us once more and said the students were keen to be part of an exercise project involving the Shed.

Kayla then led into the types of exercise and the frequency, intensity and time taken for exercise as well as the type of exercise – aerobic or resistance. Any exercise is beneficial but most benefit is achieved if performed in conjunction with one another. Kayla explained the differences and benefits of aerobic (walking, running, swimming etc), resistance (weight training etc) and stretching (muscles, tendons, flexibility and yoga) and gave us recommendations on how often and strenuously to undertake these exercises.

Sophie then told us about the benefits of exercise – improve cardiovascular function and decreased risk factors, improved cognitive function, decreased anxiety and depression, increased self-confidence, decreased risk of falls and injuries in older adults and decreased risk of cancer and obesity.  Sophie suggested that we should actively exercise – climb stairs, garden etc. rather than watch TV.

UC Students
Kellie Toohey with students Adam, Alex, Alex, Sophie and Kayla from Uni of Canb Faculty Health

Adam then talked about bone health and the risks of Osteoporosis (quality and density of bone) and Osteoarthritis (inflammation of joints) and the importance of jumping, resistance exercises, stretching and moving to strengthen bones and muscles and hence reduce our chance of injury.

Alex #1 told us about brain health and how exercise can help prevent or delay the onset of dementia and can reduce stress, anxiety and depression. He explained that dementia affected thinking, behaviour and the ability to undertake everyday tasks. The risk of developing dementia is lower in those who are more physically active as exercise increases blood flow to the brain which keeps brain tissue healthy and promotes cell growth and repair. Exercise prevents high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke which are all risk factors for dementia sufferers. Indeed, exercise can be as effective as medication in reducing fatigue, improving sleep, improving cognitive abilities and reducing stress and anxiety levels.

Alex #2 then talked about the cardiometabolic effects of regular exercise and how it affects your heart, arteries, blood pressure, blood volumes, brain, metabolic processes and cardiovascular risk factors. Alex said the brain particularly loves exercise which causes it to release beneficial chemicals, hormones, endorphins, serotonin and dopamine among others. He indicated that exercises helps reduce blood pressure, decreases body fat and waist circumference, decreases blood glucose levels and generally means we can do more without getting tired and that we will enjoy more and better quality sleep.

Sophie then explained the exercise program that would commence on 3 March with pre-assessment testing, followed by five Friday exercise sessions, a post-assessment testing day and a final presentation of the results.

To be part of this exercise program a member just hsa to turn up at 8:30am this Friday 3 March. Thanks to Kellie Toohey, Sophie, Alex, Kayla, Alex and Adam for their presentation and also to Don Gruber for organising their attendance.  Click to view or download a copy of the Students’ PowerPoint slides  |   Click for details of the assessment & training sessions program

75th Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin, 17th Feb 2017

Australians joined in the commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of two significant events this week and Harry Redfern told the story of the Fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942 and of the bombing of Darwin which commenced on 19 February 1942.

Harry said that following their rapid advance down the Malay Peninsula in December 1941 and January 1942, Japanese forces crossed the Jahore Strait separating the peninsula and Singapore island on 8 February 1942. At 8.30pm on 15 February 1942, Commonwealth forces with 130,000 personnel were taken prisoner. Of the 15,000 Australians captured at Singapore, 7,000 would die before the end of the war. This is regarded as one of the greatest Allied defeats of the Second World War, and one of the greatest defeats in British military history.

On 19 February 1942 more than 240 Japanese aircraft attacked Darwin in two separate raids, representing the first ever enemy attack on Australian soil (excluding Australian dependencies). On that day more than 240 civilians and Australian and US service personnel were killed, and eight ships were sunk in Darwin Harbour. This was the first of 64 bombing raids by Japanese aircraft on Darwin between February 1942 and late 1943. The 19 February bombing would remain the most significant attack of the Second World War on Australian soil.

Read or download in pdf Harry’s complete notes

Roger Amos also told of Tom Morris who was a Prisoner of War, captured in Singapore and sent to work on the Thai-Burma railway. He told of how the dirt and rock required to be moved each day by prisoners rose from one cubic metre to three cubic metres.

Exercises at the Shed

19 Aug 2016 – 10 Feb 2017 (Fri)Jon Beale, a UC graduate ran exercise classes at the Shed at 8.30am. This was a commercial arrangement between Jon & the Shed.  He charged each participant $5 a session.  This started Fri 13 May and finished on Fri 10 Feb 2017. Jon also prepared a series of documents which will assist all Shed members interested in exercising at home. Look at or download Jon’s guidelines which include Exercise Program Guidelines, List of Exercises, how to rate exertion levels & what equip (available at K-Mart) that you should consider.

Shed Coffee Morning, 31st Jan 2017

Google Photos

Activities Held 2016

The following is an outline of major shed excursions and special activities that been held. Many of the pictures taken are stored on the sheds Google Photos web presence

Letters From The Trenches – Part 3, 23rd Dec 2016 & Christmas Function

Our Christmas meeting program on Friday 23 December started with our President reading from a letter written by his Uncle Stan dated 6 January 1917 whilst aboard S.S. Africa, a British passenger ship transporting Australian troops to Europe and sunk on 12 February 1917 when she was torpedoed by German submarine UC-66 off the Eddystone Rock in the English Channel.

Stan told of his trip, saying he was only able to get off the ship in Adelaide and Durban in South Africa after leaving Sydney over nine weeks earlier.

He told of buying and mailing postcards in Durban and of reaching Capetown on 2 December 1916 and departing the following day only to have the ship turn around and return on 4 December. The troops suspected that a submarine may have been the reason but they were never told.

The next port of call was Freetown in Sierra Leone which they reached on 15 December 1916. The weather was very hot and only some troops were permitted on shore. Stan spoke of buying fruit from the locals and hauling it onto the ship in buckets lowered down to the small boats and of having to help shovel 900 tons of coal from a collier.

They took on more troops and were joined by two cruisers named ‘Kent’ and ‘Highflyer’ and the following day by ‘Port Nicholson’ on which his friend, Barney was travelling. They then travelled in convoy until anchoring at Dakar on 22 December 2016. Stan told of spending Christmas there and although they were not again allowed on shore, they swam in the harbour, and visited the other ships in the convoy.

Letters From The Trenches – Part 2, 11th Nov 2016 & Remembrance Day

Our Shed commemorated Remembrance Day, with President Roger commencing with a reading of ‘In Flanders Fields’, a poem written during the First World War by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. He was inspired to write it on 3 May 1915, after presiding over the funeral of friend & fellow soldier Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres.

The poem inspired an American teacher, Moina Belle Michael, also known as ‘The Poppy Lady’, to write a poem in response to ‘In Flanders Fields’. She & Frenchwoman Madame Anna Guérin, known as ‘The French Poppy Lady’, encouraged people to use the red Flanders poppy as a way of remembering those who had suffered in war. The poem’s references to the red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers resulted in the remembrance poppy becoming one of the world’s most recognised memorial symbols for soldiers who have died in conflict & the poem & poppy are prominent Remembrance Day symbols throughout the Commonwealth. The poem also has wide exposure in the United States, where it is associated with Memorial Day & in Europe where it is associated with Armistice Day. The poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I & their brilliant red colour became a symbol for the blood spilled in the war.

Then followed a number of short presentation by Members of interesting facts, letters, medals, photos etc that related to their relatives who fought during Australia’s armed conflicts.

A minute’s silence was observed at 11 am, in memory of those who died or suffered in all wars & armed conflicts and this was followed by reciting of The Ode. The Ode comes from ‘For the Fallen’, a poem by the English poet and writer Laurence Binyon

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

Brian Harber then read a quite emotive poem titled ‘The Inquisitive Mind of a Child’ by an unknown author:

Arend Bleyerveen recounted growing up in Holland during the war. Arend was born 20Km from Amsterdam and his father was 35 years old when war started. Arend told of the Germans invading Holland and the countries to the south and east.

Roger Amos read letters from his Uncle Stan who was killed in action on 9 August 1918. The first was written at Holsworthy on 17 Sep 1916. It tells of meeting with a Minister who knew the family well. He talked about the troops entertaining themselves by catching and trying to ride a buckjumping donkey. Stan could hear a German band (from the German internment camp) playing in the distance. The second written to family on 16th & 20th November 1916 telling of life, hardships and friends whilst on a troop carrier approaching Durban in South Africa, enroute to the war in Europe.

Harry Redfern read Paul Keating’s Eulogy to the Unknown Australian Soldier. The eulogy was delivered on Remembrance Day 1993 at the Australian War Memorial here in Canberra.

Bob Salmond told of his trip to Gallipoli last November & about the history of the Flanders poppies. He spoke of the Americans learning about the story of the poppies & Flanders Fields & of how the poppies became ‘remembrance poppies’ & a US symbol of remembrance for their Memorial Day commemorated on the last Monday in May. Bob talked about the significance of the red poppy in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, US, France, & Belgium.


Stan Willis
Roger Amos Uncle Stan Willis

Don Gruber produced four rifle World War 2 bayonets that his father & his wife’s father had acquired. One was of Japanese origin. He also produced a bush knife (like a machete) of unknown history. Don’s father had reshaped one of the bayonets to form a meat killing knife.

Luke Wensing talked about the Flanders blood red poppies & how some varieties had black hearts with crosses. He brought some from his garden & also took both
photos of the poppy. Stuart Allan produced some medals that his wife’s grandmother, (E C L Wilson) had been awarded in World War 1. She was a nurse & had medals for serving in France, a British medal for WW1 service & a Victory Medal for war service. She also had an Australian Army Nursing Service 1918 appreciation

Roger Amos told of his father’s uncle Carl Amos who died at Gallipoli on Anzac Day, 25 April 1915.

Ray Osmotherly told of his father prepared, packed up & ready to leave Australia, only to learn that World War 2 had just finished. Ray showed a number of photos and postcards from that time. Ray also told of his mother’s cousin, Alfred Lucas, who was killed in France in 1917 & initially thought to be buried at Grevillers British War Cemetery. There was great confusion at the time on his actual date of death and his family was initially told he died on 5 November 1916. However, his parents received a letter from him dated sometime after this. The Red Cross then confirmed to them that he had died on 5 November 1916 but it later turned out there
were two Corporal Alfred Lucases and it was not their son who had been killed. Confusion reigned indeed. Regrettably, their son was later killed in 2017. After the war finished, his family was sent his medals and also a Memorial Plaque, commonly referred to as ‘Deadman’s Penny’.

Roger Amos then mentioned learning of two such forgotten medals which had been found when an old mantelpiece was being removed.

Ray said that parents at home in Australia had a difficult time with worry about their sons going to war & serving overseas. Many were only just married & had young children. Communications between them were few & far between. Parents suffered greatly when a son was killed & often didn’t want to talk about their death or war service.

Finally, Ray told of the local schoolkids who recently undertook a project focussed on Alfred and his war history.

Luke Wensing spoke of visiting war memorials in many small country towns & being saddened by the incidence of families who suffered multiple losses.

John Canning spoke of his National Service in London in the early 1950s where he was a Russian interpreter working for the British government. He told also of his cousins Mike and Bert who were killed when their plane crashed in WW2. He also had an Uncle Henry who was killed but he didn’t know much about him.

Information on The ode and In Flanders Field among many others things is available on the Army History website | The Army History website on Remembrance day

Melbourne Cup Lunch, Tuesday 1 Nov 2016

We held a late(ish) lunch (starting at 1.45pm at Black Pepper) & a drink, ran a sweep & then watched the race on a TV at Black Pepper, which is in Beissel St near the intersection with Emu Bank at Lake Ginninderra. About 19 Shedders & cyclers attended. It was organised by Cycle Meister Paul McCarthy

Visit to Carey’s Cave at Wee Jasper, 29th Oct 2016

28 Shed members travelled to Wee Jasper for a conducted tour of Carey’s Cave whilst others remained at the Shed for Coffee and Chat organised by Don Gruber.

Wee Jasper, located on the beautiful Goodradigbee River, has one of the most diverse geological landscapes in Australia. The road passes through a range of volcanic and sedimentary rocks with a mix of broad acre and grazing rural properties. The town is on the backwater of Burrinjuck Dam and following the recent wet weather, the lake and surrounds were spectacular.

Our Guide at the caves was Geoff who, after the usual safety talk, told us the history of the cave and how the various limestone formations occurred. The limestone in the area is some 400 million years old and very hard. Geoff explained the different types of limestone ranging from the very soft South Australian limestone to the very hard Wee Jasper limestone. Inside the cave we saw many different formations – dripstone, straws, stalactites, stalagmites, columns, shawls and flowstone. Geoff explained how these occurred and demonstrated how beautiful they could be under the soft light of candles rather than harsh electric lights.

We toured around a small area of this seven cavern cave – there was much more to see but our tour time was limited and lunch was waiting.

After our tour we visited the Duck ‘n’ Fishes Café at Cooradigbee Homestead which was about 4 Km from the caves for a welcome lunch and then departed for home around 4:00pm after a great day.

More information on Carey’s Cave

Our photos taken at Carey’s Cave

Red Cross Visit by Steve Curran & Grant Watt, 30th Sep 2016

Steve Curran is the Senior Volunteer Engagement Officer in the ACT Branch of the Australian Red Cross, which is affiliated with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), based in Geneva. The organisation we know as the “Red Cross” operates under three emblems – Red Cross, Red Crescent and Red Crystal (introduced about 10 years ago, with Israel under this symbol). All are recognised and protected under international law in the Geneva Conventions and they are recognised world-wide as neutral protective symbols.

The origins of the Red Cross date back to the Battle of Solferino in 1859. The plight of the more than 20,000 wounded left lying on the battlefield led a Swiss businessman, Jean-Henri Dunant, to organise local citizens to assist the wounded, without regard to the side they were fighting on.

Dunant wrote a book about his experiences, which ultimately led to the Geneva Conventions or International Humanitarian Law (IHL) being formulated and the International Committee of the Red Cross being founded in February 1863. Its initial purpose was to provide care to wounded soldiers without regard to their nationality. Neutrality was a fundamental principle of the ICRC and it later extended to being a neutral intermediary in issues such as civilian aid and protection, detention visits, tracing missing soldiers, passing on messages, promotion of IHL and medical services.

Today, the ICRC oversights 190 national societies. All national RC societies are independent but are affiliated with the ICRC. The functions vary globally but blood services, assisting youth and families, and disaster response are common across most countries. The Australian Red Cross was established in August 1914, just after the outbreak of World War I. Today there are 40,000 volunteers 24,000 members and 3,000 staff involved nationally. The Red Cross maintains Australia’s blood and organ donation services.

In Canberra, the Red Cross runs the Blood Bank (in Garran) plus the mobile blood bank which provides services to donors in Canberra and on the NSW south coast. It also provides emergency response and assistance in times of natural disasters, such as the current floods. In the past couple of years, the Red Cross has established retail stores in Woden and Civic. The funds raised from these sources and from donations assist the Red Cross in carrying out its humanitarian charter, which includes the following:

  • Refugees’ orientation;
  • Migration support program;
  • Assist in compiling resumes and explaining what to expect from interviews;
  • Community programs on nutrition and providing food;
  • Assisting homeless or socially isolated;
  • Providing assistance so people can stay in their own homes longer (e.g. meals on wheels);
  • Telecross, telechat and personal alarms (i.e. pendant alarms).

An activity for which additional volunteers are required is to make a weekly phone call or visit to provide social connection for people who are socially isolated. This could involve a visit to a park, museum etc. The Red Cross match the volunteer with the person being assisted and needs more male volunteers to assist men.
Apart from a willingness to assist someone, the only requirement for a volunteer is to obtain a “vulnerable persons card”, which lasts for 3 years and is free for volunteers. Foreign language skills may be useful.

A member of Red Cross is someone who wants to be involved but does not have time to volunteer. Generally, they contribute financially to the work of the Red Cross. Volunteers can register on the Red Cross website. Any queries can be emailed to Steve Curran (

Excursion to Honeysuckle Ck and a BBQ, 23rd Sep 2016

Twenty six Shedders headed south on Friday morning to Namadgi Park and the site of the Honeysuckle Creek space tracking station in the 1960s and 1970s.  They were accompanied by Dick Stubbs, who worked as a communications officer at the station until the mid 1970s.  Dick (below, with Roger) provided some interesting information about the station itself and the working conditions there.

Honeysuckle Creek was opened in March 1967 by the Prime Minister, Harold Holt.  It was one of three stations that provided coverage world-wide for the American Apollo Program.  The others were in Houston (the base for the Apollo Program) and Madrid, which was staffed entirely by Americans.  The staff at Honeysuckle Creek consisted mainly of Australians (about 100) and 10 Americans.

When Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission, the images seen by the largest TV audience in history were received via Honeysuckle Creek.

Dick explained that the most dangerous part of the Apollo missions was taking off from the moon.  The lunar lander had to lift off at exactly the right time and at the right angle to enable it to meet up with the circling spacecraft.

The Apollo Program was initially designed to cater for 30 space missions but was discontinued unexpectedly in 1972, with Apollo 17 thus becoming the last moon landing mission.  In 1974, Honeysuckle Creek was reconfigured for Deep Space Missions and it was  decommissioned in November 1981.  The large (26 metre) antenna was moved to Tidbinbilla in 1983 and Honeysuckle Creek was demolished around the same time.

A fleet of 27 Ford Falcons was provided as transport to and from the facility.  Dick drove 600 miles in total each week from his home in Holt to Honeysuckle Creek and back again.  Kangaroos were an ongoing hazard and snow also caused problems in winter.  On one occasion Dick and his fellow workers on his shift were trapped there for two days by a heavy snowfall.

The signals from the space craft were fairly weak and the spark plugs in cars would interfere with them.  To avoid problems when something was being tracked, a set of red lights was used to stop cars about 1½ miles below the tracking station.  Occupants had to wait, often for some time, for the tracking to be completed before they could continue their trip to the carpark.

Dick lamented the decision to demolish the facility.  He said that, being in a beautiful setting, it would have served very effectively as a tourist destination.


16th Sep 2016 – Pulses Day with Erica Roughton

Erica, who is a Dietitian, is the Health Promotion Coordinator for the Arthritis Foundation of the ACT.

The cultivation of pulses can be traced back thousands of years. Evidence has been found of faba beans being cultivated in Israel over 10 000 years ago. Pulses are essential for their nutrient value, to assist in maintaining good health, in biodiversity and they also have a role to play in reducing climate change and alleviating of world hunger.

Pulses are formally defined as “A subgroup of legumes, plant foods from the leguminosae family commonly known as the pea family. The edible seeds of pulses are eaten by humans and animals.” Pulses include chickpeas, lentils, dry peas (but not green peas) and beans such as mung beans, baked beans but not green beans. They exclude crops produced mainly to extract oil, such as soy beans, and they also exclude seed for sowing purposes (e.g. alfalfa, clover) and vegetable crops.

Australians are not large consumers of pulses, with only about 22% consuming pulses (mainly baked beans, lentils and chickpeas) each week.

Nutrient value of pulses

Pulses give a feeling of fullness, increase stool volume and transit and they bind toxins and cholesterol in the gut. They have a high nutrient value, contain no hormones or antibiotics and are a rich source of complex carbohydrates. In addition, they are low in fat, low calorie, low sodium, but have a high iron content. In terms of protein, they are double that of wheat and triple that of rice and are vegetarian and vegan diet compatible. Pulses are rich in iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc and have the advantage of being low GI (glycaemic index) which makes them beneficial for people with diabetes.

Climate change and biodiversitry

Pulses have a role in biodiversity and alleviating climate change. Good soil health is the foundation of food security and the natural abilities of pulses to improve and support soil health make them an excellent choice for farmers. Pulses are able to fix their own nitrogen in the soil through exploitation of symbiotic microbes, so they use less synthetic and organic fertiliser and, in this way, play a part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, pulses are able to release soil-bound phosphorus, which plays an important role in the nutrition of plants as it is also essential for normal growth and maturity, photosynthesis, respiration and energy storage.

Pulses help to increase microbial biomass and activity and nourish the organisms responsible for soil structure and nutrient availability. In this way, planting pulses as part of an agroforestry system, helps to increase crop resilience to climate change. Pulses are able to withstand climate extremes, provide nutrients to the other plants as well as provide food for the farmers and families that grow them. Pulses have a broad genetic diversity from which improved varieties can be selected so it is possible to develop more climate-resilient strains. A high soil biodiversity provides ecosystems with greater resilience and resistance against disturbance and stress and improves the ability of ecosystems to suppress disease.

Pulses and food security

One third of food produced world-wide is wasted. In developing countries this loss is during production and transport whereas in developed countries this loss is more commonly at the consumption stage. Protein and energy deficiencies in both quality and quantity are often the culprits for widespread malnutrition. Iron deficiency is common worldwide especially in people who do not have access to balanced diets. Pulses provide a cost-effective method of increasing the availability of protein, energy and essential nutrients to poorer communities.

Pulses can be grown as cash crops for sale at markets as well as being used for food by subsistence farmers. Drought resistant varieties can be grown in areas where rainfall is very minimal. Intercropping of deep-rooted pulse varieties provides ground water to companion plants.

Pulses are shelf-stable, which means they can be stored without needing refrigeration. They can be kept at room temperature in a sealed container. If stored properly, pulses can remain edible for several years and they are able to germinate after being stored for long periods.

Why aren’t pulses eaten more?

Pulses are a perfect partner for health, food security, provide a partial solution to climate change and are an important part of biodiversity BUT they are not part of the Australian diet (only 22% of Australians eat them on a weekly basis).

Reasons include lack of knowledge of their health benefits, reluctance to try new food, they cause flatulence and often lack flavour.

Increasing the appeal of pulses requires education/awareness. Soaking pulses reduces cooking time and makes them more easily digestible. Any extra can be frozen easily for later use. Pairing with common foodstuffs like oranges or tomatoes increases nutrients and they go well in sauces (e.g. bolognaise) or in soups.

Erica provided the following link for pulses recipes:

A recipe specifically for baked beans is at:

In addition, many different recipes for baked beans can be found by going to and typing in “baked beans”.

Trying pulses

After the meeting, Shedders were invited to try lentil soup with chick peas, lentil burgers and hummus and Lebanese bread.
Sausage sandwiches were also available for anyone who preferred the tried and true barbecue food.

Letters From The Trenches – Part 1, 9th Sep 2016

Roger read from letters from his uncle Stan Willis, one of 17 children in the Willis family, who went to WW1 and gave his life for his country. Roger has a number of letters from Uncle Stan & reads them as each passes 100 years since it was written.

The first letter was written on 8 September 1916

8th September
A Company
2nd Battalion
M Camp Cootamundra

My Dear Mother,
Well I never left here yesterday after all, my luck was right out. One of the chaps in my tent paraded sick Sunday morning, and he had the measles no less so when I came home from Church Parade, wasn’t I narked to find out we had to go in-contact for a fortnight, that is we are not allowed down the town or anywhere among the other soldiers during that time, it’s like being in gaol in a way they think we might carry the germ you see and give it to the others. This Camp was nearly emptied yesterday, it was a nark to see them all lined up in the Khaki last night and about 50 of us all together in-contact left behind and some had to come in through their mates getting mumps, meningitis, scarlet fever, measles etc. 

Stan Willis
Roger Amos Uncle Stan Willis

We are not allowed to mix up together and not allowed to go out of the in-contact grounds but I am bothered if they didn’t come and make us go out working this morning pulling tents down and rigging them up again etc. it is pretty hot when we are not allowed out and not supposed to work, some of the chaps reckon they are going to renege this afternoon and they are just the sort that will. There are only four of us in my tent so we have plenty of room. We got one chap out of coming in and the boy that got the measles, Ted French – a nice kid – only twenty – is in hospital.

I’d just like you to have a snap-shot of this Mum. I bet you laugh.

One thing we are living high here up to the present, we was well in with one of the cooks so he gave us a leg of mutton and some chops and some potatoes so we had chipped potatoes and chops for breakfast – fried them ourselves – we also have a pound or two of butter which is a great luxury and 7 or 8 tins of jam not a bad cook is he? And we got prunes and rice for dinner also some jam roll (are we down hearted?) NO.

We must make the best of it now, we will be transferred to Liverpool when we do our time. They are cleaning up the camp ready for the Militia I heard this morning, they are going to make the camp 2000 strong, I suppose they will be conscripts eh? I am feeling real well Mum and getting fat. I weighed Saturday and was 12 stone 3 pounds. I had to get my hair bobbed the other day to save getting fined 5 shillings. Mr Bellhouse the Methodist Minister Mum – told me he got a letter from Rev Dwyer the other day so perhaps he knows him well I didn’t ask him. It was a very nice little service they gave us Sunday morning but don’t do the chaps much good I don’t think. Well Mum as I am writing this in dinner hour on a box in my tent excuse the writing as I have been in a hurry and my time is up now so must end up. I am working under Lieut. Kirkland today. I have been wondering if he is a relation to Sergeant Kirkland in Millthorpe. Well bye bye for this time Mum and write to same address, Love to all.

I am your loving son,


Tell Urwin S Bell has gone home on the sick list and I never sold a bridle with the pony – will write to him later. How is Helen, – Nellie I meant – caught Harry yet? and did they unveil Roll of Honour Sunday night?

The second letter was written on 15 September 1916

15 Sept 1916
Contact Camp

My Dear Mother,

Well they never kept us in Coota to finish our time in-contact after all. We left Coota last night, at 7 o’clock and arrived at Liverpool 4.00 am this morning, We were treated like prisoners coming down – wasn’t allowed out of the train all the way, not even to get some refreshments, so you can guess how hungry we were when we arrived at Holdsworthy. It is 8 miles from Liverpool and we came out on Army Service wagons, so that was better than walking with the kit and bluey over our shoulders like we had to from Cooota Camp to the Station.

The German Concentration Camp is only just across from here, can see them, there are 7,000 of them they say and the Camp tonight looks like a little township the way it is lit up, I was quite close to about 30 of them this morning, they had them working with pick and shovel under guard and my word they look fine big fellows. Some had all their shirts off – just had their dungarees on so I recon they must be pretty tough. There are about 100 men here in-contact. So we’ll have to drill just the same as when we are out.

Any of our friends can come and see us Sunday afternoons and we can have a picnic in the bush, but I suppose it would be too far for any of the girls to come out. Well they don’t know I am here yet and I can’t let them know before Sunday. Monday week I hope to get out, all being well, If any of us get the mumps or measles before then, we’ll have to do our fortnight from when he gets them, again. So it is pretty risky when we are all mixed up together eh Mum?

I suppose before you receive this you will be wrote to me and addressed to Coota Camp don’t know if I will get it – they should send them on. Well Mum I think I will end up now. As I want to write to the girls. I am writing this on the back of my tin plate not a bad writing table eh? And sitting on the old kit.

We had a straw bed to sleep on at Coota with not much straw in you know, but here we have got to sleep on the ground, just a waterproof and our 4 blankets so I guess I’ll ring off now. Trusting you and Dad and all are well as this leaves me.

From your loving son,

We have Church here Sundays they say.
The other 3 chaps are just joking about the hard beds, one is a doer all right.

2016-08-29 8th Anniversary Dinner


2016-08-26 Quiz Day


2016-08-19 Visit to National Dinosaur Museum


Passing of Wal Cooper

Wal Cooper (24/11/1935 – 18/8/2016)  Wal had a stroke & following a stay in hospital did not regain consciousness. He was a long-time Canberra resident & had served on our Shed Committee. He was active in Rotary & the Australian Rugby Choir. Our sincere sympathies are extended to Wal’s wife Nell & to his family, Louise & Clive, Andrew & Nicole & Robyn & Kirsten & their four grandchildren. Wal’s funeral service was 25 August at 11 am at the North Belconnen Uniting Church, followed by a wake at the Southern Cross Club in Jamison. A huge attendance was at the Church for the service including many people who he had known over his life, from family, Rotary club members, Rugby Choir, stockbroking clients & shed members.  It is believed around 300 attended. Remembrance Service Wal Cooper | Pics of Wal from Remembrance service program | Google Photos of Remembrance Service

Wal Cooper

4th Aug 2016 – John Feehan talks about Dung Beetles

First published in the Newsletter #340 Link to Google Photos album with several pictures

On this date we welcomed John Feehan, a highly recognised entomologist and authority on Australian Dung Beetles. We learned a huge amount about this marvellous (and not very handsome!) little creature from John, and thank our President Roger Amos for arranging John’s talk.

A farmer born in Braidwood, for 38 years John was a member of the CSIRO team tasked with introducing bovine dung beetles into Australia. He has five insects named after him and in 1997 was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his services to Australian Agriculture and in 2011 was an ACT Finalist for Australian of the Year.

Shed members who lived in Canberra as recently as 25 years ago will well remember the flies that made outdoor activities most unpleasant.

Well, that situation no longer exists due to the work John and others have done by establishing the dung beetle colonies in the area.

With support from his CSIRO mentor Dr George Bornemissza who conceived and led the Australian Dung Beetle Project (1965–1985) at CSIRO, John was heavily involved in an international scientific research and biological control project with the primary goal to control the polluting effects of cattle dung.

Every day some 28 million cattle deposit more than half a million tonnes of dung (some 300 million cow pads) onto Australian pastures, not only locking up nutrients and creating a breeding ground for bush flies, buffalo flies and other pests, but also causing significant pollution of waterways.

The dung beetles provide extensive above ground and below ground benefits and are capable of burying cow pads in 24-72 hours. These benefits include reduced nutrient input into waterways, reduced pasture pollution, greatly reduced bushfly and buffalo fly breeding and reduced stock parasites. The beetles’ extensive tunnel systems help recycle nutrients from dung, fertilisers and other source, thus increasing the soil’s nitrogen content and subsequent utilisation by grasses, increased soil aeration allowing better natural microbial activity, improved water penetration, improved soil structure and improved habitat and food supply for earthworms.

When the CSIRO project concluded due to lack of funding, John formed Soilcam which is based in Canberra and where he coordinates the largest and most efficient collection and redistribution of dung beetles in the world. John has for a very long time promoted the benefits of dung beetles, often against overwhelming indifference from the various Federal and State Agriculture departments and water authorities.

Over the past 18 years John has redistributed more than 4,500 colonies consisting of 18 different species of dung beetle. As a result of his diligent research and field work over many years, John is now able to supply the species best suited to particular locations to ensure maximum beetle activity through different seasons.

John is also very committed to educating the community about the importance of the dung beetle and has made an outstanding contribution to Australian agriculture.

Learn more about John and dung beetles by clicking here.  John’s Powerpoint presentation.

10 Jun – 29 Jul 2016 – Joanna Gray’s Studies

Joanna is an accredited exercise physiologist who graduated from UC at the end of last year under the guidance of Dr Stuart Semple & Ms Kellie Toohey. Stuart & Kellie visited our Shed on 26Feb with a group of UC Faculty of Health students to talk about how essential exercise is to good health, particularly as we age. We followed this up with a six week exercise program organised by Kellie & the students & then an on-going exercise program run by Jon Beale at 8:30am every Friday morning at the Shed. Joanna was conducting research which aims to improve client outcomes & further ensure optimal exercise prescription during cardiac rehabilitation. To do so she compared the physiological responses to exercise between both cardiac rehabilitation patients & apparently healthy males aged between 55 – 75 years. Joanna used around 20 healthy & 15 cardiac rehabilitated adults aged 55 – 75 as volunteers for the study. This involved high intensity exercises but nothing invasive. Volunteers were to receive a report on their cardiac health at the end of the sessions. Joanna’s work with volunteers was completed on 29th July. Joanna’s email:, 0499 004 950.

22nd July 2016 – Excursion to the Australian National Museum of Education

From Newsletter #338 of 29th July 2016

Approximately 24 Shed members enjoyed a fascinating visit to the Australian National Museum of Education (ANME), a not-for-profit organisation associated with and located at the University of Canberra. Established in 1996 by its Director, Dr Malcolm Beazley AM FACE, the ANME has just celebrated its twentieth anniversary.

Supported by the Australia and New Zealand History of Education Society, ANME has the objective of promoting an understanding of the history of Australian education through the development and preservation of its collection, through support for related research and scholarship and through collaboration with the national network of school museums.

Our visiting group was warmly welcomed to ANME by Dr Beazley, who introduced us to the voluntary staff who staff and maintain this fine institution, namely; Dr Geoffrey Burkhardt (Senior Curator), Dr John McIntyre (Communications Manager), Mr Hakim Abdul Rahim (Curator), Ms Grace Turner (Research Assistant) and Mrs Coralie Amos (Archival Assistant).

Prior to splitting into three groups to tour the facility, we were given a most enjoyable morning tea, where we had the opportunity of informally chatting with ANME staff and fellow Shedders. Thanks especially to Coralie Amos, who facilitated this morning tea for our members.

The respective groups were then shown around the ANME facility by the above voluntary staff. In the Display room we viewed some of the vast collection of school ephemera held by the ANME, constituting the largest collection outside of the National Library Canberra and the University of Armidale. Dr Burkhardt showed us a sampling of the over 500 copies of school records held in the collection, together with a wide range of histories of individual schools (including various school readers from many states), early textbooks and scholarly works e.g. an 1831 Botany text used at the Female Orpan School, which operated at Parramatta from 1813 to 1850, and “Bransby’s School Anthology – Selections for Reading and Recitation” 2nd edn, by James Bransby, a Unitarian Minister, dating back to 1831.

Dr Burkhardt also displayed a number of fascinating documents and certificates that were typically issued in the late 19th and early 20th centuries e.g. a “Rules for Teachers” publication from 1879, and “Rules for Women Teacher’s” dating from 1915 (which included the requirement to not marry during the life of the contract, not keep company with  men, and the hours that they were expected to be home within). We also viewed a selection of Award Certificates, and a historically valuable collection of silver school sporting cups and trays, along with some historic school photographs.

We heard from Dr Burkhardt about the first school that was initiated in Sydney only 18 months after the First Fleet arrived. It was housed in a basic tent and continued as such until 1793 – its female teacher had only a Catechism and Bible for pupil instruction (a very good start perhaps!). This was a tremendous contribution, given that Governor Arthur Phillip had made no provision to establish schools on his arrival.

This historically irreplaceable collection is frequently used by researchers, authors, academics and the general public interested in early education e.g. ‘to see what school conditions Grandpa experienced’. It is hoped that digitisation of this wonderful collection will continue to expand greatly in coming years.

Curator Hakim Rahim then briefly showed us the small but impressive Ngunnawal art and artefacts exhibition of items from all over Australia and housed close to the ANME premises, yet independent of it. Hakim then took us to another part of the campus and explained to us the interconnectivity and relationship of the ANME to other parts of the University e.g the Geology collection repository and animal ecology etc. We were then introduced to the University of Canberra Library and heard something of its history and  collection. It was interesting to hear the true account of how the official plaque to open the building was never attached or opened by the relevant Education Minister at the time, Malcolm Fraser in 1972 (it remains perfectly preserved in their collections case in its original shiny brass condition). This mystery has never been solved.

For the final stage of our tour we were hosted in another collections room by Dr Beazley AM, who gave us a detailed account of the history of the scholarly collection housed there, and the purpose and aims of ANME generally. This facility again is used by many researchers and authors etc, and some recent visitors had included researchers from the University of Tasmania, PhD students from WA, and Dr Peter Stanley from the National Museum (formerly with the Australian War Memorial), among others.

This room houses a vast collection of books that have been donated, and have now been allocated to sections named according to the Surname of the donor (e.g. the Burkhardt collection). Why not scour your shelves where appropriate? Why, you too could have a section named after yourself!! This collection has recently been assessed by a local academic, with appropriate recommendations and suggestions made to maximise their accessibility. Coralie Amos has recently meticulously audited the collection against the indexed database and is now in the process of cataloguing the Curriculum collection.

Dr Beazley stated that he hoped the collection would go ‘online’ by next year, after translation of its collections listing from an earlier Excel spreadsheet format into a new inventory system. Dr Beazley told us that the ANME was the only National Museum of Education in the world other than in the Netherlands..truly impressive, especially when it exists only due to the care and diligence of trained and dedicated volunteers and the generous ongoing co-operation and support of the University of Canberra.

We were then given an overview of the collection’s valuable and historic schools photographic collection by Dr John McIntyre, Communications Manager at ANME. Dr McIntyre spoke to us initially about the history of the collection and the various means by which the collection has been obtained. Many individuals have contributed to this collection, and Dr McIntyre encouraged our members to ‘scour’ their own personal family albums for any old school photos that they felt would be of interest to ANME…it is a major and important collection source.

We were shown a collection of photos from the early Sydney Teachers College days, and the invaluable and rare Mowbray House School Archive, which houses the entire collection of Mowbray School, Chatswood (Sydney) between 1904 and 1954. The collection includes documents/registers and photographs from the period, whose pupils include people of note such as Kenneth Slessor (Poet) and Gough Whitlam (former Australian PM) for example.

Dr McIntyre displayed a particularly poignant photograph of a Mowbray School class group taken in 1908. In later years handwritten names had been annotated against various pupils around the perimeter of the photo, indicating the former pupils who had subsequently lost their young lives in the carnage of World War 1.. a remarkable piece of history.

We then reassembled and were farewelled by the ANME Director and his voluntary staff. Melba shed president Roger Amos thanked Dr Beazley & ANME for their fascinating tour and their generosity in sharing their time and knowledge with us. Dr Beazley reiterated the fact that he is very keen to see that the work of ANME advertised widely among our wider community (and rightly so!). Why not tell all your friends, community groups etc of this wonderful facility and arrange a visit to ANME at a mutually convenient time?

Learn more of ANME’s functions & activities
View our collection of photos from our excursion to ANME

2016-07-16 Robert Messenger on Typewriters


2016-06-24 Visit to Questacon


10th Jun 2016 – Erica Roughton spoke for Arthritis ACT on Arthristis & Osteoporosis

Erica is a Dietitian at Arthritis ACT, a not-for-profit community organisation that encourages self-management of musculoskeletal conditions, so that sufferers can make decisions they are comfortable with to improve their health. Arthritis ACT incorporates Osteoporosis ACT.

Here are some facts about Arthritis:
Arthritis means inflammation of the joint & is a general term used for a variety of conditions affecting the muscles, joints & skeleton. The most common forms are Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis & Gout but there are more than 100 different types of arthritis including:

– Ankylosing Spondylitis | Tendinitis | Lyme Disease | Giant Cell Arteritis | Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome | Raynaud’s Phenomenon | Stills Disease | JIA | Myositis | Pseudo Gout | Lupus | Fifth Disease

Arthritis is the leading cause of chronic pain and disability in Australia with some 3.3 million Australians affected.

Osteoarthritis most commonly affects joint cartilage. The joint is the structure between two bones which allows easy movement. Cartilage covers and forms the surface at the ends of the bones. This smooth and elastic cartilage, when affected by Osteoarthritis, may wear away entirely, causing the bone surfaces to grate against each other. Spurs or bone growths may appear alongside the places where cartilage has frayed (particularly in the fingers but can occur in any weight bearing joint).

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an auto-immune disease where the body’s own immune system, for reasons still unknown, attacks its own tissues (the synovial membrane). Inflammation results and if left untreated, destruction of the cartilage covering the joint and eventually parts of the bone can occur.

When this cartilage is destroyed, the bone ends are joined together by the formation of fiber containing tissue. This tissue becomes hard and fuses the joint so that it is immovable. Early diagnosis and correct treatment is essential as it can reduce the impact of the disease.

Gout is an extremely painful form of Arthritis often known as the ‘disease of kings’ and was thought to result from overeating and drinking too much alcohol. While these factors can contribute, gout can affect anyone regardless of diet and alcohol intake as it is occurs as a result of high levels of uric acid within the body. The first attack of gout usually involves the big toe or ‘bunion’ joint. The ankle, feet and knee may also be affected. The affected joint rapidly becomes very painful, often to the point that the weight of a bedsheet is unbearable. Untreated, each attack lasts approximately a week and repeated attacks may accelerate joint damage.

Arthritis can be managed by:

– becoming informed | working closely with your chosen health care team, and | learning various self-management skills

Doctors can provide treatment and pain medication.

Physiotherapy can reduce pain, improve joint movement and strengthen muscle around the joint.

Occupational Therapists can advise on using muscles and joints more efficiently, simplifying daily tasks to conserve energy, special equipment for increased mobility, splints and braces for joint protection, correct posture and alignment.

Podiatrists can treat problems affecting the feet and provide advice on footwear and orthotics for support and comfort which is important for arthritis that affects the feet, ankles, knees, hips and spine.

Regular Exercise reduces pain, improves physical function, increases social, domestic and recreational participation and can improve muscle strength, range of motion, proprioception and balance.

A Healthy Diet has many benefits including having a positive effect on overall health and well-being, minimising fatigue and maximising energy, gaining and maintaining a healthy body weight and providing good fuel to promote healthy bones and muscles.

Current scientific evidence and research studies do not support the use of any particular diet, supplement or food to “cure” arthritis. Instead, diet can be used as a means of managing or reducing associated symptoms. For example losing weight if you have osteoarthritis will reduce excess load on joints and help to reduce associated pain. Or in the case of Gout, avoiding/reducing the intake of foods that are known to contribute to flare ups. The general rule of thumb is to stick to the dietary guidelines and if you have any questions to speak with a Dietitian.

Here are some facts about Osteoporosis:

Osteoporosis is where our bones become fragile and brittle and can fracture more easily than normal bone.

It occurs when our bones lose minerals, such as calcium, more quickly than our body can replace them. This imbalance leads to a loss of bone mass or density.

Osteoporosis is sometimes called the ‘silent thief’ as it ‘steals’ bone density over many years without any signs or symptoms. Many people do not realise that they have osteoporosis until they have a fracture.

You can reduce your chance of osteoporosis by addressing these risk factors:

– Smoking | Excessive alcohol consumption | Diet lacking in Calcium | Reduced sunlight exposure leading to lack of vitamin D | Sedentary lifestyle | Low body weight.

Other risk factors which you can’t do too much about, are age, family history and medical history.

For more information on Arthritis or Osteoporosis or about Arthritis ACT see HERE.

See &/or download Erica’s full presentation HERE.

2016-06-10 Exercises at the Shed


Understanding your Pension, Fiona Fleming, 3rd Jun 2016

Fiona is the Financial Information Officer at the Australian Department of Human Services, Southern NSW Zone, & is located in Goulburn. After 30 years experience she is in a great position to assist clients plan their finances so as to maximise pensions & benefits provided to retirees by the Australian Government.

Age pensions are payable to eligible Australians who have reached the age of 65 & who satisfy an income & an assets test. Both tests need to be satisfied to qualify.

A couple whose joint income is less than about $76,000pa & with total assets of less than about $820,000 for home owners or $1,020,000 for non-home owners (both values effective from 1/1/2017) should be entitled to a pension or part pension together with the other benefits that go with the age pension – including the Pensioner Supplement & the Energy Supplement.

Income includes bank, building society, term deposit & similar accounts, bonds, debentures, bullion,
money on loan or owed to you, cash on hand, shares & securities, managed investments, annuities with a term of 5 years or less, superannuation and rollovers
and since January 2015, grandfathered account based pensions. Irrespective of the actual earnings, the income from financial assets is assessed at a ‘deeming rate’ which is 1.75% for amounts up to about $80,000 and 3.25% for amounts over that figure for a couple.

Assets do not include your primary residence but do include bank accounts, vehicles, boats, caravans, real estate, rental properties, farms, businesses, antiques, collectables & excess gifting (amounts in excess of $10,000 per annum with a maximum of $30,000 over five years). Assets don’t include accommodation bonds for Aged Care, funeral bonds or pre-paid funerals or special disability trusts.

The eligibility for pensions & the calculations of income & assets are quite complicated & Department of Human Services has far more detail than can be provided here. If you think you may be entitled to a pension or part pension, or would like to understand your rights, obligations or appeal processes, you should contact the Department Human Services Financial Information Service. It’s a free service. They also cover other pension enquiries including Disability, Carers & the Seniors Health Card.

Click here Financial Information Service (FIS) to learn more about this service. You can contact them by phone on 132.300
Fiona has left at the Shed a number of information sheets with details about income & asset tests & showing rates for both single and couple pensions.
These show the reductions in the full pension that apply where income or assets exceed the threshold set for a full pension. The full pension for a couple is $1,317.40 per fortnight & $658.70 for a single pensioner but part pensions may be anything from zero up to those amounts.

Members should seek their own financial advise or contact FIS before making any significant changes or investment decisions if they intend applying for the pension or have one already

2016-05-20 Laurie’s 80th


2016-05-20 Bench refurbishment


2016-05-18 Memorial Ride – Ray and Wally


2016-05-13 David Kilby


Passing of Two Great Members

Starting on Anzac Day 2016 we lost two great men. Firstly Wally Blumenfeld was a great Canberran & Australian. He was actually born in Germany but the family emigrated to UK before WW11. Wally had an amazing career being a Lt Col in the 32 Special Boat Squadron serving in Malayasia, Borneo & Vietnam. He later worked in AMSA & its predecessors, was in the the ACT SES for 37 years, cycled, kayaked, bushwalked & skied. Secondly, the following Sat we lost Ray Nelson, another great Australian, born in Sydney, lived a few other places but ended up in Canberra. He was prominent in our Shed through giving presentations about Boomerang aerodynamics and writing technical articles on why Boomerangs were not meant to come back, see below. He was also heavily into protecting aboriginal arterfacts & sourcing gem stones and setting them into jewelery. A host of members attended Wally’s memorial service at the Duntroon Chapel on Fri 6th May attended by hordes of people who knew him from military, AMSA, cross country ask association, and even our Harry Redfern who read out his poem (see below). Similarly on Thu 5th May many members attended Ray’s funeral at Tobin Bros, Belconnen. So many it was hard to park. We learned so much of Ray’s life we didn’t know.

Ray Nelson – After a long battle with illness Ray passed away on April 30. He was very appreciative of the friendship and activities of the Melba shed. Ray Nelson on ‘Boomerangs were not meant to come back’  Ray’s Great Great Grandfather was the Policeman at Collector Shot Dead by the Ben Hall Gang. Read a summary and details of that event  Funeral arrangements were 1pm Thursday 5 May at Tobin Brothers, Belconnen | Ray Nelson Eulogy | Album of pictures of Ray on Shed Walks

Ray playing the ukuelele (Dont double click on this, but right click on it and select download the file)

Wally Blumenfeld – Wally went to Sydney with his son Michael to march in the Anzac Day parade in 2016. He &  Michael were out strolling on Sunday night when Wally collapsed suddenly. He recovered consciousness, & was taken to St Vincent’s hospital. However, he had another stroke in St Vincents & died later on Sunday night. Wally’s memorial service was at 1 pm Friday 6 May at the Chapel in Duntroon. He was buried in a private service by his family on 28th April in the Jewish section of the Woden Cemetery. Vale Wally Blumenfield written by Lachlan Kennedy President, Canberra Cross Country Ski Club. Poem about Wally Blumenfeld by Harry Redfern | In Loving Memory of Walter Blumenfield

Wally Blumenfeld

Uni Canberra Exercise Program 4 Mar-22 Apr 2016

On Fridays the Uni of Canberra Faculty of Health undertook assessment for any members who wished to avail themselves of a free offer for a 6 weeks targeted exercise program. On the first 2 weeks some 22 members were assessed. These exercises finished on Fri 22 April with personal assessments of those who finished the program. There are more assessments at 9.30AM 6th May. It was so successful the Committee will see if it can be repeated next year | Pictures from Google Photos

This all started after talks by Uni Canberra students on 26th Feb led by Kellie Toohey the Clinical Education Co-ordinator (Exercise Physiology) from the Faculty. Kellie is the convener of a cancer rehabilitation group exercise program at the University – one of a number of exercise physiology group classes providing clients with an individual exercise program in a social group setting. She was introduced by Don Gruber, who is participating in a health rehabilitation program at UC.

These programs aim to enhance physiological capabilities, increase functionality and improve quality of life. The first speaker, Dr Stuart Semple, Associate Dean, Enterprise & Partnerships in the Faculty of Health at UC, talked about the changes at the University that have occurred over the last few years and which will continue over the next few years. These changes include the establishment of the Health Hub, health care & health rehabilitation programs, the building of Belconnen’s second hospital, aged care initiatives, & an increasing focus on the role the UC has to play in the community.

Kellie, a PhD student at the Faculty, then explained her research role and how her team is working with cancer survivors by assessing their requirements and devising specific targeted rehabilitation exercises. She explained how exercise is essential to good health, particularly as we age. Kellie then talked about the student led clinics which cover many health issues including heart disease, chronic pain, osteoporosis, diabetes, cancer, sleep issues and bone health. She introduced six of the Faculty students (Alex, Luke, Laurence, Sam, Brady and Dan) who later talked about these various health issues and how beneficial exercise was to achieving a better quality of living.

Alex talked about the need to exercise saying that 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of high intensity exercise spread over 5 days per week was essential to good health. Laurence talked about bone density and the importance of good nutrition and resistance exercises, particularly high impact exercises, to improve bone density. Luke talked about how to keep your heart healthy and said that 30% of all deaths in Australia were due to heart failure and that 1 in 6 people were affected by heart disease. He also talked about strokes which are similar to heart attacks but which affect the brain. Dan talked about flexibility and the need to do stretching, dynamic and static exercises, particularly before beginning heavier exercise. Brady talked about sexual dysfunction and how this increases rapidly in the 60s when it affect over 52% of men. Contributing factors include diabetes, medications, cancer, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and high blood pressure.

Sam talked about cognitive functions and explained that as we get older, the pathways in our brains diminish and that exercise increases blood flow to the brain and acts as an anti-depressant and improves the pathways. Aerobic and mentally challenging activities are very beneficial to cognitive functions.

The students are available to lead follow-on exercise programs for Shed members over a 6 week period at the Shed. Classes were then to be held at the Shed each Friday morning commencing promptly at 8:30am for a six week period.

On 4th March we had a great response with some 20 members being assessed & participating in baseline testing of fitness in several categories. This testing will continue this Friday 11 March. These exercises were extended by one week, & ceased on Friday 15th April, with final individual assessment being held at the Shed on the following week, Fri 22 April. On 6th May the University of Canberra Health Faculty students provided participants with feedback on their improvement on the recent exercise program held at the Shed. Eight members completed the program. We learned that grip strength is an indicator of a longer life & that the group improved by 2Kg average. Blood pressure & balance was improved over the group & all members improved on the 6 minute walk test & the ‘sit to stand’ test. We all need at least 30 minutes exercise a day & this can be broken into shorter activities.

2016-03-11 Search for a Site – Mike Dwyer


Martin van der Hoek’s talk about Ghost Towns Near You….. 19th Feb 2016 ( from Newsletter #317 – 26th Feb 2016)

Shed member Martin van der Hoek spoke about three so-called ghost towns within a few hour’s drive from Canberra, namely Newnes, Yerranderie & Joadja. All three are mining towns that rose to prominence in a very short space of time and then almost as quickly, were abandoned.


Newnes is in the beautiful Wolgan Valley, NW and less than an hour’s drive from Lithgow, which, once in the valley, includes a 40km stretch of heavily corrugated dirt road. The settlement was originally built by the Commonwealth Oil Corporation. Construction commenced in 1906, it was not until 1911 that the initial stage was completed and the retorts charged for the first time. The company built the 50 kilometre Newnes railway line from the main government railway south of Newnes to their works through very difficult country, particularly where the line descended into the Wolgan Valley from the plateau above. Click HERE  to read more about this unique railway.

This railway is no longer in use and the rails have been removed. A tunnel on the railway has survived as the Glowworm Tunnel, which has become something of a tourist attraction.

There were three distinct operating periods for the Newnes shale oil operation; June 1911-Jan 1912, 1912-1923 and 1933-1934. Lack of capital and overseas competition eventually caused the Newnes operation to finally cease and the site was effectively dismantled in 1939.

Newnes had a population of 1,650 people in 1911, when operations started. By 1921 it had dropped to 820. Most of the time it was around 1,000. Click HERE to see photos.

Martin van der Voek
Shay Loco No4 abandoned Newnes late 1930s