Friday Five Newsletter 2018.1.19
Westprint Friday Five – Friday January 19th 2018
You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy a tent and that’s pretty close.
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Friday Five Books
- Dingo.Brad Purcell. Many present-day Australians see the dingo as a threat and a pest to human production systems. An alternative viewpoint, which is more in tune with Indigenous culture, allows others to see the dingo as a means to improve human civilisation. The dingo has thus become trapped between the status of pest animal and totemic creature. This book helps readers to recognise this dichotomy, as a deeper understanding of dingo behaviour is now possible through new technologies which have made it easier to monitor their daily lives. Recent research on genetic structure has indicated that dingo ‘purity’ may be a human construct and the genetic relatedness of wild dingo packs has been analysed for the first time. GPS telemetry and passive camera traps are new technologies that provide unique ways to monitor movements of dingoes, and analyses of their diet indicate that dietary shifts occur during the different biological seasons of dingoes, showing that they have a functional role in Australian landscapes. Dingo brings together more than 50 years of observations to provide a comprehensive portrayal of the life of a dingo. Throughout this book dingoes are compared with other hyper-carnivores, such as wolves and African wild dogs, highlighting the similarities between dingoes and other large canine species around the world. Published 2012. $39.95.
- Photographic Guide to Mammals. Ronald Strahan - Australian Museum. Compact easy to use format, the ideal pocket sized travelling companion. Text describing key identification features. Full colour photos of each of the 168 species covered. Thumbnail outlines of each family group for quick identification. First published 1995, this edition 2009. $19.95.
- Band-Aid for a Broken Leg. Damien Brown, a young Australian doctor, thinks he's ready when he arrives for his first posting with Medicines Sans Frontiers in Africa. But the town he's sent to is an isolated outpost of mud huts, surrounded by landmines; the hospital, for which he's to be the only doctor, is filled with malnourished children and conditions he's never seen; and the health workers - Angolan war veterans twice his age and who speak no English - walk out on him following an altercation on his first shift. In the months that follow, Damien confronts these challenges all the while dealing with the social absurdities of living with only three other volunteers for company. The medical calamities pile up - a leopard attack, a landmine explosion, and having to perform surgery using tools cleaned on the fire being among them - but it's through Damien's evolving friendships with the local people that his passion for the work grows. Band-Aid for a Broken Leg is a powerful, sometimes heart-breaking, often funny, always honest and ultimately uplifting account of life on the medical frontline in Angola, Mozambique and South Sudan. It is also a moving testimony of the work done by medical humanitarian groups and the extraordinary and sometimes eccentric people who work for them. First published 2012. This edition 2013. $23.00.
- Bicycle and the Bush - Jim Fitzpatrick. This book looks at the nature and widespread use of the bicycle in the outback by shearers, clergymen, boundary riders, cycle express messengers, Kalgoorlie pipeline and WA rabbit fence patrols, swagmen, kangaroo shooters, drovers, commercial travellers and dentists. The author recounts the major events and developments in Australian cycling history. 250pp. First published in 1982, this edition 2002. $50.00.
- The Dig Tree - 11 CD set. In 1860, an eccentric Irish police officer named Robert O’Hara Burke led a cavalcade of camels, wagons and men out of Melbourne. Accompanied by William Wills, a shy English scientist, he was prepared to risk everything to become the first European to cross the Australian continent. A few months later, an ancient coolabah tree at Cooper Creek bore a strange carving: 'Dig Under 3ft. NW'. Burke, Wills and five other men were dead. The expedition had become an astonishing tragedy. Sarah Murgatroyd reveals new historical and scientific evidence to tell the story of the disaster with all its heroism and romance, its discoveries, coincidences and lost opportunities. A spell-binding audio book. $39.95
Vale Robert Brennan (aka Bobby Dazzler)
It is with shock and sadness that we say farewell to Rob Brennan. Rob passed away suddenly while on holiday with family near Grafton, NSW. Rob spent many years wandering around the outback and was a gifted observer and writer. He generously allowed me to use many of his articles in this newsletter and I know many of the Friday Five mob subscribed direct to Rob’s newsletter (Bobby Dazzler) and blog (dazzlerplus). Below is Rob’s article on the Speewah, chosen at random from his blog.
Posted on 2014 by dazzlerplus
I can vaguely remember hearing people refer to The Speewah when I was a lad, but you don’t often hear it mentioned these days. But since it’s a part of Outback mythology, it deserves to be revived.
The Speewah was a mythical Outback property of vast proportions, where everything – the people, the weather, the wildlife, the mustering and shearing feats – was larger than life. Many an Outback yarn featured The Speewah, and sometimes Crooked Mick, one of its most fabled workers, or Big Bill “who built the barbed-wire fence”, or Slab-face Joe. These stories were often set in the period from a bit before the great shearers’ strike of 1891 through to the 1920s.
The location of The Speewah is hard to pin down. Workers on the Darling said it was back o’ Bourke, but in Bourke they’d tell you “out west”. When you got out west, they’d point to Queensland, and in Queensland, they’d tell you it was in the Kimberleys. Some would just say “west of the sunset”.
Many a claim to some extreme conditions or achievement would be met with something like:
• “Call that mud? You shoulda seen it up on the Speewah …”
• “Yeah, but on the Speewah, if you were told to ride down and shut the main gate, you had to take a week’s rations.”
• “Crooked Mick’s feet were so big, he had to go outside to turn around.”
• “The dust storms were so thick on the Speewah that the rabbits dug burrows in them.”
• “Up on the Speewah, when the cook was frying up bacon and eggs for the men, he needed a motorbike to get around the frying pan.”
When Crooked Mick was a boy, he started growing so fast that his father tried to slow his growth by ring-barking his legs. It didn’t work, but it did give him a nasty limp – and the name “Crooked Mick”. In his working life, he seemed to exceed the norm in just about every way possible. He shore sheep at such a rate that his shears ran hot, and so he kept half a dozen pairs in a water pot to cool. He was a heavy smoker, and it kept one rouseabout busy just cutting tobacco and filling Mick’s pipe. He ate two sheep for each meal – that is, if they were small Merinos – but only one and a half if they were crossbred wethers. He was also a champion fencer, and when digging post holes used a crowbar in one hand and a shovel in the other.
It’s been said that he used Uluru to stone the crows (although this may be an exaggeration).
Rob will be greatly missed not only by his partner Judy, his children and grandchildren but by the wider outback community as well. I personally will miss his wisdom and advice on many and varied topics (like the exact location of the Speewah).
Meeniyan Garlic Festival. Welcome to our celebration of locally grown garlic and produce plus the outstanding food, wine arts and craft of South Gippsland. Our entry fee of $10 will provide you with an entry wristband and a festival guide with map, directions and the festival program. Don’t forget to bring a hat, sunscreen and water bottle – refills are free. Festival Location: Meeniyan Town is 150km south east of Melbourne, on the way to The Prom, just 90 minutes from the ‘burbs’. Meeniyan Recreation Reserve, Hanily Street Meeniyan, Victoria 3956 9am - 4pm Saturday February 17th, 2018.
Hay Night Rodeo. Saturday 17 March 2018. Come along and enjoy the fun and excitement of the Hay Night Rodeo. Everything from Junior barrel racing to the bull riding with Big Al in Hay again to entertain the crowd, $12900.00 in prize money. Full Catering & Bar Facilities (NO BYO ALCOHOL PERMITTED). Camping is available free for non-powered site and $17 per night for power. Where: Hay Show Ground. When: Saturday 17 January 2018. Time: Slack from 3pm - Rodeo from 6.30pm. Cost: Adult $25 - Kids $5 - Aged Pensioners $10 and Families $50. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve just finished reading The Vanished Land, Disappearing dynasties of Victoria’s Western District, by Richard Zachariah. Ex newspaper and television journalist and broadcaster. A most interesting book about the super wealthy land holders of the early days, and what’s happened to the families who lived and played in a grand manner. The landscape has changed, both physically and with wealth distribution. The 3, 4, and 5 pole parties are explained in detail! Rolls Royces were abundant and ladies regaled their splendour in wonderfully elegant dresses and outfits. The wealth that came to the area by rich Presbyterians is paramount to the development of the vast Western District. The area was the home of a ruling class that for 150 years bestrode an Australia riding on the sheep’s back. Richard lived in the area as a child, so has first-hand knowledge of what it was like. A great read, will be loved by anyone who has a background with the land. Doug.
This is not a title that we usually sell but we can help if you would like a copy. Email email@example.com if interested. Price $37.00 plus post.
Outback Cop. Neale McShane. To be honest I haven’t read this book yet but we are very excited to finally have copies in stock and available and it is on my reading list as I have heard many good reports. Here is the press release.
Birdsville is one of the most remote police postings in Australia. It can be lonely and uneventful for weeks, then the dramas come thick and fast - from desert rescues to rising floods, venomous vipers to visiting VIPs. Throw in heat, dust and flies and it's not a job for the faint-hearted, unless you're Senior Constable Neale McShane, who has single-handedly taken care of a beat the size of Victoria for the past ten years. Recently retired from this 'hardship posting', Neale and his family thrived on the adventures and colourful times that come with the territory in the furthest corner of our country.
Yarning with friend and bestselling author Evan McHugh, Neale's experiences are humorous and heartfelt. How do you feed 4000 unexpected dinner guests? Where do you find a Chinook helicopter when you need one? Who's your backup when the population explodes for the famous Birdsville Races? And what do you do when you're the person the Flying Doctor is flying out? Among these inspiring tales of danger and death, dreamers and 'dumb tourists', you'll encounter a little community with a big heart that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with a larger-than-life policeman who's become part of Australia's outback legend. $35.00 plus post.
600 Kilometres is a long way to walk.
Part two of Jo’s Blog
Tues. Sept 12. 2017. Official Day one. The coffee/wine shop in Broomehill is a must-see, if just for the eclectic collection of bric a brac, memorabilia and artefacts. We stayed at the Broomehill caravan park which was very neat and tidy. $30 site fee but the use of washing machine, dryer and BBQ free. We set off about 10 am, starting at the Post Office. According to the brochures this is not the official start of the track, but it seemed the most logical to us. We walk 17km and stagger into camp cramped up, bent over and complaining. So fatigued and everything hurts. I’m not sure whether it is my hips or legs or feet or back. Our camp is set up on a seldom used track on a hill. It looks like it was probably once the site of a school. A variety of tracks today. We started on the highway and then turned off onto a gravel track and sand. My small hiking tent is very cold. The fly flaps around in the wind and the actual tent is only mesh.
The next day we managed 21 km on gravel tracks. Gravel is so hard on feet. I have numerous blisters of varying size. Previously I have only ever had one blister when hiking and have never given anyone much sympathy. That will change from now on. I am so tired. I sat for a long time soaking my feet in cold water. During the night, I discovered that my tent is not only cold but has a condensation problem so cold water dripped on me through the night. It is cold at night. I packed two sleeping bags and a fluffy coat to sleep in. I’ve already raided another blanket from mum. We are walking through farmland in the WA wheatbelt. It looks so much like home (in a good year) that I feel like I’m on the world’s longest crop inspection.
There are red-tail black cockatoos in the pine plantations along the sides of the road and they are squawking up a storm. They are funny to watch and help pass the miles.
I’m not sure how far we walked today. We abandoned the sealed road and walked along the disused railway line to the small town of Nyabing. This was so much better on our aching feet. John and Bev got out a different tent (because they have spares of everything) and put it up for me. Instead of a hiking tent just big enough for one I’ve now got a huge canvas two-pole tent big enough for six. I usually sleep on a mat but I’ve been struggling with hip pain, so I’ve taken some cushions from their troopy, plus a couple of old blankets. I’ve gone from teeny tiny to palatial. Both Judy & I had blisters that burst and so we called a half-day rest and sat with our feet in the sun for a while. Nyabing is a lovely, neat and clean town. Like most small towns it is struggling to keep afloat but there seems to be a really progressive town spirit here. The sporting reserve/camp area has newly renovated showers and toilets. The next day we left Nyabing. The railway ended in town and and we had no other option than to follow the highway for the next 18kms. Hard, hard walking. We had thought gravel was hard on feet but now we are very happy to turn off the sealed road and head north on the gravel. A local bloke pulled up to see what we were doing and when we told him, he gave us $100. That boosted our energy levels!
A lawyer, who had a wife and 12 children, needed to move because his rental agreement was terminated as the owner wanted to reoccupy the home. But he was having a lot of difficulties finding a new house. When he said he had 12 children, no one would rent a home to him because they felt that the children would destroy the place. He couldn't say he had no children because he couldn't lie - and we all know lawyers cannot and do not lie. So, he sent his wife for a walk to the cemetery with 11 of their kids. He took the remaining one with him to see rental homes with the real estate agent. He loved one of the homes and the price was right - the agent asked: "How many children do you have?"
He answered: "Twelve."
The agent asked, "Where are the others?"
The lawyer, with his best courtroom sad look, answered, "They're in the cemetery with their mother.
MORAL: It's not necessary to lie, one only has to choose the right words.
PARAPROSDOKIANS are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence is unexpected. Some examples:
Where there's a will, I want to be in it.
Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.
War does not determine who is right - only who is left.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
They begin the evening news with 'Good Evening,' then proceed to tell you why it isn't.
To steal ideas from someone is plagiarism. To steal from many is called research.
In filling in an application, where it says, 'In case of emergency' - notify: I put 'DOCTOR.'
I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they look sexy.
Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.
A clear conscience is the sign of a bad memory.
I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not so sure.
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be. Nor is there any future in it.
Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.
I'm supposed to respect my elders, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to find one now.
I am not arguing with you, I am explaining why you are wrong.
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To all of our faithful Friday Five readers
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Please note that the opinions and articles expressed in the Friday Five are not necessarily those of the Westprint mob. Also we do not endorse any products (other than our own) or tours listed in any contributed articles.