Friday Five Newsletter 2018.3.30

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Westprint Friday Five Friday March 30th 2018

People with many interests live not only the longest but the happiest.

Click here to view Westprint Newsletter Archives from 24th April 2015 to 24th December 2015

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Friday Five Books

  1. Great Australian Stories. $23.00. Australia has a rich tradition of storytelling that reflects our unique history and experience. Great Australian Stories gathers some of the best of our stories from colonial times to the present, with bush yarns, tall stories, urban myths, and tales of the mysterious and downright weird. This is an Australia of down-to-earth realism, tragedy and heroism, dry humour, an unexpectedly wide supernatural streak, and a strong sense of place. Stories feature cocky farmers, numbskulls like the drongo, bunyips, famous tricksters like Jacky Bindi-I and the world's greatest whinger, as well as larger than life real characters like the sad Eliza Donnithorne. With favourite yarns from around the country, Great Australian Stories is the most representative collection available of the stories we tell about ourselves. Graham Seal explains where the stories come from, and why even the outright lies reveal a truth of sorts. 294pp. First published in 2009, this edition 2011. 
  2. A Field Guide to Fungi of Australia. $37.00. A.M. Young. Australia is world-renowned for its often extraordinary and unique natural environment including many of its plants and animals. This beautiful little book highlights an often overlooked, but just as remarkable, aspect of our natural world: Australia's fungi. Many are brightly coloured, some fluorescent; some are elegant, others squat; some are fragrant, more still are highly toxic. This field guide showcases many of these species in all their splendour.
  3. My Dear Emma. Robert Tyler. In 1895, Robert Emeric Tyler, a leading London architect, and his nineteen-year-old son Bobby travelled by rail and sea to Australia with a view to purchasing a goldmine. Their adventures, misadventures and incredible naivety as they journeyed in remote parts of the Western Australian goldfields were recorded faithfully in letters to 'My Dear Emma', Robert's wife in England. Part travelogue, part social history, My Dear Emma is a remarkable personal eye-witness account of an Australia of one hundred years ago - of places, people and events from Coolgardie to Cue, Albany to Perth. The letters also provide fascinating insight into the world and attitudes of the late nineteenth century gentleman traveller, coming to Australia via Italy, Suez and Colombo. This title is now out of print. One copy only. $29.95. Email Jo at for this copy.
  4. Bury Me Vertical. R M Winn. $30.00. Have you heard the one about the codger who fed his greyhound his heart medicine to make it go faster at the track? What about the bloke who was growing six-foot ears of corn in his ute? Or the penny-pinching Scotsman whose last request is to be buried upright? Everyone knows someone who tells a good story. You find these blokes propping up the bar, or at the sale yards, or you run into them down the road. Ryle Winn knows more of these yarn-spinners than most - he's spent a lot of time on the land and had about fifty different jobs. He's a dab hand at bending the truth himself. In his latest collection, Ryle shares the best cock and bull stories from around the traps and his own remarkable life. 246pp. First published in 2011. Now out of print. Three copies left
  5. Sturt's Desert Drama. $24.95. The author draws the reader into Sturt’s 1844 expedition thrusting towards the Red Centre by quoting freely from eyewitness accounts. You ride into the fierce, blazing deserts with them, feel what they felt and picture what they saw. It has been carefully researched from original material that is cluttered by a great deal of extraneous detail. The author highlights important details missed by other writers, such as the progressive influence of scurvy on the personalities of the leaders and Browne’s conjecture that Lake Torrens was not a single lake at all. Rudolph gives an empathetic account of the men, one that appreciates their courage and achievements, while not glossing over their weaknesses. A readable book for all Australians: the man or woman in the street, in the bush and on properties. First published in 2006.

Friday Forum

Musings from a Swaggie.

Thought you might like this little bit of nostalgia from a 70-year-old Australian motorised swaggie. As a young married couple in 1971 we organised a trip to and through the Centre. It was certainly not uneventful.

We hit a ‘roo in NSW jamming on the hand brake. Our VW Kombi spat out all its engine oil in Alice Springs and after repairs the engine ceased 150 miles down the South Road. After another two goes at leaving Alice Springs, we finally flew home, packed out bags and headed back to Alice on January 1, 1972.

In 1974 during the wet season we turned our dilapidated 1965 Land Rover missing its rag top, loaded so heavily that it had almost no steerage, towards Darwin. I’m getting a little carried away. During the 1971 trip we went through some of the most amazing break-away country in Australia. At the time it was unfenced and we were able to explore all its wonderful structures and colours.

We spent a further twenty-five years in the NT mostly in the Top End and of course made the annual ‘Relli-run” at Christmas, both by air and by car. Nostalgia dictated we should rediscover the awesome country, but we searched and failed for more than 20 years. We had no real data or clues. Cyclone Tracy had made off with much of our non-concrete possessions. We took every road, visited every town, all to no avail until our last trip to Darwin before emigration to Queensland.

We were delayed by well-wishing friends and camped well south of Kynuna rather than nearer to Mt Isa. Then in the early morning sun we found the amazing country we had spent decades to rediscover. But now it was fenced. We could admire it only from the road.

We had organised and timed our trips fastidiously to average 1,000 Kms a day and travelled through God’s most beautiful country at night … and missed it every time.

But herein lies a message. Daylight is for travelling, making miles and admiring the country side; darkness is for camping and sleeping. To make the best of your holiday or trip: sleep at night so you can see, enjoy and appreciate all the ever changing and challenging beauty that our country has to offer. So much of its absolutely exquisite splendour occurs either in small pockets or awesome vast open plains with vistas from horizon to horizon. All of it deserves to be seen in daylight. But at night another vista opens. Whether under a warm glowing moon, or in a moonless sky, the infinity of a stellar panorama is another spectacular in the Australian landscape.

Unfortunately, the “swaggie” is denied the right to rollout his swag; fences deny him access to river bends and the ‘ownership’ of his billy on a bed of gidgee coals.

Confinement to caravan parks and camp sites by commercial interests constrains access to great swathes of Australian land. No one can own country. Exclusive use perhaps. Country belongs to all Australians. England has it right. Time to reinstate the rights of the “swaggie.” Dieter

Camping and Entry Fees

I totally agree with Dennis, how one group of people and governments has the right to charge for others to see natural attractions is wrong, most of us pay taxes that should make state and national parks FREE for all people to enjoy. The way states charge vastly different $ amounts gets me, you can have camp grounds with flushing toilets and showers in one state charging less then another with only long drops.

SA has introduced the pre-booking system and recently 4WDSA was told public use has risen in parks (don't know about that). When our Parks Volunteer Organizer raised issues with the pre-booking system he was told ‘get used to it as it's here to stay’. Jeff 

Mystery objects

Please record my thanks to Roger in the next edition of FF for his information.

It is pretty well in line with the "pub informant" story that we were supplied with while "resting" in the bar. Our informant did say that the attempts to block the creek even with the railway trucks etc. were unsuccessful. A great piece of history that is not well known and highlights the seasonal variations in the stream flows. Denis


Water Pouring From Big Storage Scheme

The following is from the Canberra Times (ACT: 1926 - 1995), Thursday 24 May 1962, page 9.

SYDNEY, Wednesday. —Ten thousand cubic feet of water a second tonight was pouring through a breach in the retaining wall of the second biggest lake in the Menindee storage scheme. Police said nearby townships were not in danger of flooding. However, they alerted residents in low lying areas and graziers on surrounding plains. More serious flooding could threaten towns if the breach was not restored soon, police said. Tractors and bulldozers were working under floodlights to repair the 70ft. breach in the Lake Cawndilla dam near Menindee, about 625 miles west of Sydney.

Police and employees of the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission had been working non-stop since the breach was discovered yesterday afternoon. The dam is part of the Menindee lakes scheme which holds two million-acre feet of water—five times as much as Sydney Harbour. It was completed in 1960 at a cost of about £4 million. The repair and strengthening of the Menindee Lakes storage scheme is expected to cost about £500,000.

Water supplies to Broken Hill, 70 miles west of the dam, are not expected to be cut. The chief engineer of the Conservation Commission, Mr. J. W. Stewart, said tonight floodwaters from the Darling had washed away 70ft. of the earth-wall of Lake Cawndilla. He said residents of Pooncarie, 80 miles away, had been warned of possible flooding. Mr. Stewart said little flood danger existed in the area because water in Lake Cawndilla was spread over a wide, shallow area. The maximum depth of the lake was 25ft. Mr. Stewart predicted that most of the waters would flow into the Ana branch tributary of the Darling and the Murray. He said the washaway was at the outlet control structure of Lake Cawndilla. The breached structure was the last to be built at the lake.

"The floodwaters from the Darling have filled the five lakes of the storage scheme," Mr. Stewart said. "This is the first time Lake Cawndilla has been flooded. There has been a melting of material in the wall and the embankment is washed away for 70ft. The worst that can happen is that we will lose a lot of water." Mr. Stewart said workmen from the commission and the Public Works Department probably would heal the breach "soon."

The embankment would have to be built up from the side with tractors. "Nearly a dozen tractors and bulldozers were at the site, but not enough skilled drivers were available to operate them," he said.

CB Radio Query

Can you or one of the readers tell me the situation with CB radios these days. I played around with them a lot in the 1980s - both in car and base station. My Karinna set and accessories have been in storage for about 35 years, and I have no idea what the situation is these days. Are they still used? Is a licence needed (used to be). I had a stick aerial as well as a three-element beam (illegal then I recall) My set also had many extra channels, again illegal.    What’s the story these days? Doug.

I thought they went the same way as tape and video players. Can any of our readers enlighten us? 


  • I think the original was called a Thermette and was made in New Zealand. I was lucky enough to buy one while on holidays. It was made from copper material and goes with when we travel. At about $200 they are not a cheap item. They also made a much larger version with tap. Monty.

NZ Billy

  • In New Zealand the gum diggers of early C20 used a version of this, called a Thermette.  Also used across north Africa - mentioned in Desmond Bagley's thriller Flyaway, 1978 about looking for a missing plane in the Algerian desert (where fuel is at a premium). Eleanor

  • Having just read your (unbiased) review of your Eco Billy in the ‘Friday Five’ (which I always read on the Thursday before you send it on Friday), I thought I would chip in with my confirmation from a UK user. I bought mine from you while on my first visit to Aus. in 2002 and lugged it home on a tortuous series of flights through Cairns, Sydney, Broken Hill, Adelaide, Perth, HK, Singapore, Frankfurt and Heathrow. When I arrived back in the UK with it (obviously) still intact I was, despite its robust construction, pleasantly surprised. Even though the UK is rarely able to provide anything but damp leaves and twigs it almost always boils without adding further fuel and lights with (relative) ease. I also agree that if there are 2 sizes then always have a big one. I hate disputes over who has a mug of tea and who doesn’t.

I have seen several devices of similar type but never another Eco Billy and never anything to equal it. I have had to fill it with snow on a couple of occasions to get my hot drink and it can be used to produce mulled wine in a Christmas blizzard by using the hot water to warm the wine bottles in a bucket. I can even polish it up again to look 'more reputable' when required to do so! Thanks for the ‘Friday Five’ and particularly ‘The Funnies’.  Keep them coming, Graham

  • We had a kettle in about 1955 Made by Malley’s Ltd Mountain Street Sydney. They were a large Building supply firm and rolled sheet metal, I think the idea was that you could boil the billy very quick for morning tea and lunch on the building site as was the practise in those days, they were made out of coated steel and blue in colour, they had a separate stand that you filled with chips of wood. Used for camping was secondary. We bought ours in their Parramatta (NSW) store. Charlie 

  • I remember someone describing one of those that he saw in New Zealand, and that would have been before 1962. They were the only fire allowed in the pine forests apparently. Dave

  • I acquired my first one from a work colleague, (a Kiwi), when I was working road building between Halls Creek & Kununurra in 1964. It was clearly marked Malley’s Picnic Kettle and readily available in Australia then, and for some years later, but not under that name, to my knowledge when “Malley’s” stopped making them certain retailers brought them in from New Zealand where they were commonly known as a “Thermette”.

I used it working and travelling for many years up until 1999 when our place was broken into and that was one of many Treasures that were stolen and never recovered. About a year later I found a new one sitting on the shelf in a BBQ’s Galore Store in Mackay and immediately bought it, I think it was $85.00

On the way back to Brisbane I was using it at a Bush Camp when a bloke nearby came and looked at it with many questions. He badly wanted one, so I sold it to him for a slight profit. The next day I contacted where I had bought it and asked them to order me a Copper one, which arrived a few weeks later, think I paid $140. I still have it and still use it from time to time, it also has a circular vented ring which sits on the top, so you can use it for cooking also, which did many times on the road with my original one.

The story I was told that they were invented during World War 2 by Aussie & NZ troops in the middle east for brewing tea. They are still called a Thermette in NZ.  

I can assure you I have boiled the old one full of water, (about 2 litres I think is the capacity), on several occasions with a nice hot wind blowing in less than 2 minutes. The beauty of them is all you need is some dry leaves and twigs and you are away. Thomas.

Second Hand Selection.

Price of the following books includes postage in Australia. These books are not available on our website. To order any of these second-hand books send an email to If more than one person requests any book a ballot will be held on Monday (or in this case Tuesday). 

boy biggles  biggles presses on  biggles 3  biggles 4  biggles hits the trail  

biggles in the blue  biggles flies to work  biggles 9  adventure bound


John has an extensive collection of Biggles books. We think he just buys any title he sees ‘just in case’ it is one he doesn’t have. We have a few excess copies for sale. If you are interested in more than one book, please let us know and we will combine postage to give you a better deal.

Titles are:

The Boy Biggles. (3 copies) (i) 1975. Illustrated Laminated Boards. Good condition. Some loosening of first few pages. Otherwise all intact. Dean & Son publisher. $14.00 inc post.

(ii & iii) both clothbound. ©1968. No publication date. Dean & Son publisher. First Editions. $20 inc post.

Biggles Presses On. (1 copy) 1958. First Edition. Ex-library with all stamps and stickers. Condition poor. Binding on first few pages coming loose. Brockhampton Press. $25 inc post.

Biggles Pioneer Air Fighter. (3 copies) (i) Hardcover with laminated pictorial boards. No date c1974. Dean & Son publisher.  $12.00.

(ii) Hardcover with dustjacket. Book in good condition. Jacket in poor condition. No date c1960s. Dean & Son publisher. $20 inc post.

(iii) Paperback in fair to poor condition. 1980. Publisher Armada. $8.00 inc post.

Biggles of the Camel Squadron. (1 copy) Dean & Son publisher.  Hardcover. Missing dust jacket. No date c1967. Good condition. $15 inc post.

Biggles Hits The Trail. (1 copy) Armada paperback. 1962. Condition fair to good. All pages intact. $10.00 inc post.

Biggles In The Blue. (1 copy) Paperback by Knight Books. 1969. Fair condition. Cover worn. $14.00 inc post.

Biggles In The Baltic. (1 copy) Hardcover, missing dust jacket. 1951. Covers worn and spotted, otherwise a neat, tight copy. $20 inc post.

Biggles Flies to Work. (1 copy) Hardcover with laminated pictorial boards. 1963. Dean & Son publisher. Good condition. $12.00 inc post.

Biggles Flies North. (2 copies) (i) Oxford 1951. Hardcover, missing dust jacket. Good condition. $18.00 inc post.

(ii) Oxford 1951. Hardcover, missing dust jacket. Fair condition. Front page loose, cover worn. $14.00 inc post.

Biggles and the Black Peril. (3 copies) (i) Hardcover with laminated pictorial boards. No date c1970. Dean & Son publisher.  Front pages coming loose. Otherwise good condition. $12.00 inc post.

(ii) Hardcover with dust jacket. Inscription in front cover. No date c1960. Dean & Son publisher. Good condition.   $16.00 inc post.

(iii) Hardcover missing dust jacket. Small tear inside front cover. No date c1960. Dean & Son publisher. $14.00 inc post.

Wing Leader. (1 copy) Johnson, 'Johnnie' With a Foreword By Group Captain Douglas Bader. Published by The Reprint Society (1958). Good condition, missing dust jacket. First pages coming loose. $13.00 inc post.

Adventure Bound. (1 copy) 1955. Thomas Nelson & Sons. Hardcover, first pages coming loose. Dust jacket in poor condition (see pic). $23.00 inc post.

Friday Funnies

'Dear Lord,' the minister began, with arms extended toward heaven and a rapturous look on his up turned face. 'Without you, we are but dust...' He would have continued but at that moment my very obedient daughter who was listening leaned over to me and asked quite audibly in her shrill little-girl voice, 'Mum, what is butt dust?' 

Young man Murphy applied for an engineering position at an Irish firm based in Dublin. An American applied for the same job and both applicants having the same qualifications were asked to take a test by the department manager. Upon completion of the test, both men only missed one of the questions. The manager went to Murphy and said, "Thank you for your interest, but we've decided to give the American the job."

Murphy asked, "And why would you be doing that? We both got nine questions correct. This being Ireland, and me being Irish I should get the job!" The manager said, "We have made our decision not on the correct answers, but rather on the question that you missed." Murphy then asked, "And just how would one incorrect answer be better than the other?"

The manager replied, "Well, the American put down on question #5, 'I don't know.' You put down, 'Neither do I.'

If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, then doesn't it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked, and dry cleaners depressed? 

Do Lipton Tea employees take coffee breaks?

I was thinking about how people seem to read the Bible a whole lot more as they get older; then it dawned on me. They're cramming for their final exam. 

If it's true that we are here to help others, then what exactly are the others here for?

What did the grape say when it fell on the concrete? Nothing. It just gave a little wine.

A man in a hot air balloon realized that he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The woman below replied. "You're in a hot air balloon approximately 30 feet above the ground. You're between 50 and 51 degrees north latitude and between 114 and 115 degrees west longitude."

"You must be an engineer," said the balloonist.

"I am," replied the woman. "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct, but I've no idea how I can make use of your information. The fact is I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help at all! If anything, you've only delayed my trip further."

The woman below responded, "You must be in management."

"I am," replied the balloonist, "how did you know?"

"Well," said the woman, "you don't know where you are or where you're going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise, which you've no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is, you are in exactly the same position you were in before, but now, somehow, you've managed to make it my fault!!" 

The Fine Print

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To all of our faithful Friday Five readers 

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