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7 January 2019 / leggypeggy

Potato Point loaded with history

Potato Point, New South Wales

Around the rocks at Potato Point

We’ve had a wonderful week at the beach house, enjoying the company of family and friends. Daughter Libby and son-in-law Daniel came for New Year’s Eve, along with Daniel’s mum and stepdad, Kaye and Elmar from Perth, Western Australia.

Then Derrick and Anne arrived from the UK. A few years back, we travelled with Derrick for two months in South America.

So we thought it was important to show the visitors some great scenery and a good time. Libby and Daniel suggested Potato Point and I had to admit it had been years since I was there.

It was the perfect choice. We started at Jemison’s Beach, known for its rough seas and wild winds. Waves were hammering the beach, expanding an already large sand cliff.  It was a reminder that Mother Nature is boss. We walked north along the beach to the actual Potato Point.

Mother Nature attacks the sand dunes

Mother Nature attacks the sand dunes

The village of Potato Point (population about 135) is surrounded by the Eurobodalla National Park. Its name comes from the Brice family. They grew vegetables and potatoes there, and rowed them out to ships standing off the point for transport to the Sydney market.

But the more important and long-lasting history of the area is its connection to the Aborigines. The Yuin are considered to be the traditional owners of the region.

I was moved by a remarkable story written by Noel Perry. It recounts, from an Aboriginal point of view, the 1797 landing by explorer and whaler George Bass. I found it online and can’t see that it is copyrighted, so here it is.

Looking down on Jemison Beach

Looking down on Jemison Beach

Aboriginal view of the George Bass landing
‘Travelling south during an expedition which resulted in the discovery of Port Phillip Bay, George Bass stayed overnight at Tuross.

‘On the evening of Saturday, December 16, 1797, his whale boat stood off a point of land which he named Marka Point, the place now known as Potato Point. The next day he landed and walked to what we call Tuross Lake. For someone on his way to test the existence or otherwise of a sea lane between the Pacific and Indian oceans, this break in his journey was but an interlude. He recorded that the area was waterless and empty of human inhabitants.

‘However, to the people whose territory it was, the arrival of a whale boat under sail was a most dramatic event. Fifty years later, when Cooral, an Aboriginal friend, told it to him, a resident of Moruya wrote their version down.

Potato Point in New South WalesPotato Point in New South Wales

Approaching Potato Point

‘When George Bass and his crew dropped anchor, Cooral, then a young boy, was asleep with his tribe on the cliff above the beach. At dawn, when everybody woke up, they were dismayed to see an enormous white thing just out to sea, its wings spread as if for flight. After a hasty discussion they decided that a monster bird of some unearthly kind had come to pick them up like a hawk does its prey.

‘They fled in terror. They did not stop until they sank exhausted in a gully of the stony creek near what we call Coila. Even there they did not feel safe, for who knew if the great white bird was not hovering above them ready to strike, and they had nothing with which to defend themselves. In their panic they had left all their possessions, all their weapons and their food, behind them on the cliff top. The elders were the first to think beyond fright. They decided that a look-out should be posted to watch the lake and the bravest of the tribe should go back to see what had happened at their camp site.

Potato Point, New South Wales, Australia

‘While everyone else crouched in silence, tired and hungry, a courageous little group returned to the sea. Concealing themselves, they paused near the springs and scanned the horizon.There was nothing unusual to see. The monster was no longer there. After much debate they agreed they should walk along the beach to see if the great winged thing had molested their camp site. Creeping cautiously along the high tide mark they bunched together when their leader suddenly stopped.

‘On the sand were unmistakable signs of a canoe of some strange make having been pulled out of the water. Stranger still, there were prints of human feet and beside them others so weird as to be unbelievable. Footprints of two-legged creatures, without toes, prints such as they had never seen before. Despite their fear they tracked the prints of the toeless creatures. But when the prints led towards the place where the tribe was hiding their dread intensified. The one thought that now possessed their minds was that some further horror had come among them. With all speed they hastened back to warn the others.

Potato Point looking north

Potato Point looking north

Birds congregate on Potato Point

Birds congregate on Potato Point

‘This further news caused more consternation and panic. Not only was the tribe at the mercy of a great bird which might swoop down on them at any moment, but now mysterious toeless beings were coming towards them on land. They spent the day crouched under the trees. At night they huddled together for warmth. They had no fire, no food, no possum rugs to cover themselves and no weapons with which to defend” themselves. It is no wonder that an old man could remember with such detail all that happened during that terrible time. He could not recall how long they stayed there, but at last hunger and cold won over terror. The brave ones once more went back to the camp.

Dead blue bottle

An offending blue bottle. Hope this one didn’t sting anyone

‘At last they reached the campsite. Nothing seemed to have been touched. Food and dilly bags still hung from the trees, weapons and rugs lay about undisturbed. They hastened to tell the others. Slightly reassured but still fearful, the tribe went back. They ate, collected their possessions, and then moved to another place. The big white bird was never seen again and there were no more sightings of toeless footprints. Life gradually returned to normal. By the time Cooral and his peers attained manhood they had heard of similar happenings far to their north and of the coming of the spirits of men, turned white.

‘George Bass had recorded the area as uninhabited. To him it was just one more uneventful day. Yet the memory of that momentous episode, the terror, the courage, so impressed the mind of a young boy that 60 years later he could still remember it in vivid detail.’

P.S. Here’s a pic of a blue bottle (sometimes known as a Portuguese Man ‘o War). The east coast of Australia has been overwhelmed by them this year. There have been 13,000 reported stings in the last two weeks.

Potato Point, New South Wales

Lovely view of Potato Point. Derrick is in the orange t-shirt. Elmar and Kaye are on the right. Photo by Daniel Veryard


27 December 2018 / leggypeggy

Repairing a car in the middle of nowhere

Bush Mechanics

Bush Mechanics

Holden EJ Special Station Sedan

A very battered Holden EJ Special Station Sedan from an early episode (see the clip)

Bush mechanics was one of my favourite Australian-made television programs. First aired in 2001, this clever documentary introduced a nation of mostly white folks to the amazing life, culture, ingenuity and innovation of the Warlpiri people of Yuendumu in Central Australia.

I remember watching the first episode and being totally captivated and impressed. Below is an entertaining clip from that first episode. I can’t figure out how to embed it. Can anyone help on that?

Even though the series hasn’t been aired for many years, this week Poor John and I were able to ‘revisit’ the Bush mechanics at the National Museum of Australia.

Painted Ford ZF Fairlane

Painted Ford ZF Fairlane

Painting the Ford ZF Fairlane

Painting the Ford ZF Fairlane

Painted Ford ZF Fairlane

Painted Ford ZF Fairlane

The exhibition captures the energetic and upbeat tone of the popular TV series created by David Batty and Francis Jupurrurla Kelly. It includes the two cars that are most fondly remembered by fans—the blue Holden EJ Special Station Sedan from an early episode (see the clip above) and the painted Ford ZF Fairlane from the finale.

I still laugh about the stories behind both cars. The Holden was rescued from a junk yard. Thanks to an array of committed efforts, it was rebuilt to carry a local band to their musical gig—293 kilometres away in Willowra.

The Ford Fairlane was on another mission. This time to create rain. Thomas Jangala Rice painted the car with a Jukurrpa (creation story) of which he is the custodian.

The bush mechanics drove that car to Broome—1413 kilometres away—to trade it for rainmaking pearl shells. When the shells were returned to Yuendumu, Rice used them to carry out a rainmaking ceremony. The ensuing rains broke a year-long drought.

Thomas Jangala Rice does a rainmaking ceremony

Thomas Jangala Rice does a rainmaking ceremony

The display also explains the history of bush mechanics. Long before cars were common in the Aussie outback, workers on remote stations across the country had to operate and fix machinery without access to workshops or specialised equipment. 

Not surprisingly, many Aboriginal people became talented bush mechanics. When cars arrived in the outback, they quickly adapted their skills to keeping these ‘beasts’ on the road. In the absence of sophisticated tools and spare parts, they used what was to hand, including mulga wood (can be whittled to make brake shoes), sand and spinifex (can be used to stuff a flat tyre).

I’d like to think I could be a little bit of help on one of these expeditions. When Poor John and I lived in Burma (Myanmar) in the early 1980s, I learned quite a bit about keeping a car on the road. For example, I still remember how to blow out a fuel filter so it can be re-used.

Tomorrow's new bush mechanics

Tomorrow’s new bush mechanics

11 December 2018 / leggypeggy

Trekking amongst the Arches in Utah

Windows Section of Arches National Park

A vista of the Windows Section of Arches National Park

Good grief, it’s been almost three weeks since I posted. Sorry about that, but life has been surprisingly hectic. We’ve enjoyed houseguests, a couple of road trips, some holiday celebrations and, thankfully, some rain. Some sadness and medical issues have been mixed in, but everything is on track now.

So it’s back to the amazing American West.

I’ve already shared a glimpse of Arches National Park in Utah with a stroll down the stylish, sandstone Park Avenue. But now it’s on to the Windows Section of the park.

The Balanced Rock, Arches National Park

The Balanced Rock

A climber on the rock beside the Balanced Rock

A climber on the rock beside the Balanced Rock

Some people consider this area to be the beating heart of Arches. The area contains a large concentration of arches and is one of the most scenic locations in the park. North Window, Turret Arch and Double Arch are just a few of the awe-inspiring expanses situated in just over two square miles. Other named features in this area include Garden of Eden, Elephant Butte and Parade of Elephants. Balanced Rock is near the entrance to the Windows Section.

I can’t confidently identify everything we saw on this stretch, but the captions include as much as I know, or as much as I can guess.

Double Arch, Arches National Park

Approaching the Double Arch

Our major visits were to the Balanced Rock and Double Arch. We walked around all of Balanced Rock and I got quite a few shots from different angles, including a pic of a fellow who scaled the nearby, more bulbous rock. There were a couple folks up there, but only one was visible by the time I got the camera out.

We also did the hike to Double Arch and back. It is the tallest (112 feet/34 metres) and second-longest (144 feet/44 metres) arch in the park. In the past, it has also been called Double Windows, Twinbow Bridges and the Jug Handles (remind me to tell you a funny story about jugs).

Arches National Park

The Double Arch

Thanks to Mother Nature, the landscape is always changing. Erosion and weathering work slowly but relentlessly. In 1991, a huge rock slab (60 feet long, 11 feet wide and 4 feet thick) fell from the underside of Landscape Arch. It left a very thin ribbon of rock.

Arches National Park

General view of Arches. Probably includes Elephant Butte and Parade of Elephants

One aspect of the walk really annoyed me. It was another one of those times when people think the rules or advice don’t apply to them.

Plenty of signs make it clear that the knobbly, black biological soil crust is a living groundcover and should not be walked on. It’s the foundation of high desert plant life in Arches and the surrounding area. It’s composed of cyanobacteria, and also includes lichens, mosses, green algae, microfungi and bacteria.

The soil crust binds together sand and rock particles, which allows plants to establish their roots. They also provide desert plants with moisture and nutrients in an otherwise inhospitable environment. As one sign says, ‘The crust is so fragile that one footstep can wipe out years of growth’. It goes on to ask people to stay on the path to protect ‘the living soil’.

Arches National Park

A little of what grows in the park

Which is why I was furious to see a family with a dog and a fellow with a camera as long as his arm trudging across the soil crust. I wanted to scream at them, but it’s not a challenge you’d risk in the USA these days.

As an aside, back then my hip was still bothering me (all good now). But it kept me from joining the rest of the group on the trek to the most famous arch of all—the Delicate Arch. Maybe next time.

Arches National Park, Utah

These have two names—The Three Gossips and The Three Wise Men. Thanks to Sy and Curt for identifying


19 November 2018 / leggypeggy

Music, birthdays and food—what a night!

John Farnham, Anthems concert, Canberra, Australia

John Farnham

Anyone who knows Poor John will be totally amazed that Saturday night he managed to stay awake until almost midnight.

The occasion was the ‘Anthems’ concert in Canberra that featured Jack Biilman, Lucy Sugerman, The Black Sorrows with Vika and Linda Bull, Kate Ceberano, Daryl Braithwaite and John Farnham.

Australians will recognise all the names, but others might not. Click on the links above to find out more about each performer.

Anthems concert, Canberra, Australia

The arboretum’s natural amphitheatre with groves of trees and Canberra in the background

This amazing shindig was staged at our National Arboretum, which was created after Canberra’s devastating bush fires in 2003. Part of the arboretum is a large natural amphitheatre, which is perfect for concerts.

The venue opened at 4pm and we arrived at the gate about that time. But let me explain our arrival and exit plans. I tried to organise the shuttle bus service for drop-off and pick-up, but it was booked out. So I leaned on Vicky, our friend and neighbour. ‘Would you take us to the event, if we can get our own way home?’ She said, ‘Sure.’

So much earlier in the day (about noon), Poor John drove our car to a convenient (but little known) parking place near the arboretum, and rode home on my bike (the lighter of our two bikes).

Kate Ceberano, Anthems concert, Canberra, Australia

Kare Ceberano

Bless Vicky for driving us to the event. It’s an hour of her life that she’ll never get back. It shouldn’t have been like that.

Let me explain. There was a lane for cars and a lane for shuttle buses. But suddenly about 50 cars decided to shift to the ‘shuttle bus’ lane. Geez, these are the people who think rules never apply to them. It screwed up everything, and caused a huge traffic jam and no access for the shuttle buses.

I wasn’t devastated to have missed the first performance and most of the second, but I was super irked by the thoughtlessness shown by some people. Luckily, their bad behaviour was soon forgotten.

Lucy Sugerman, Anthems concert, Canberra, Australia

Lucy Sugerman

Now I should explain how we happened to have tickets. My birthday was in September. For a present, our daughters gave me two reserved tickets—so Poor John and I had seats instead of having to sit on the grass—and a cheese and charcuterie platter.

After we chose our seats, Poor John went to collect the platter. It was a great combination with four or five each of various cheeses and meats, as well as sultanas, fresh bread and crackers. It was more than enough to serve as dinner.

The Black Sorrows with Vika and Linda, Anthems concert, Canberra, Australia

The Black Sorrows with Vika and Linda

So what were the highlights. For starters, the setting was brilliant. The arboretum overlooks the city and the lake in the middle. The stage blocked a lot of the view, but it was still a perfect location.

We arrived just in time to hear Lucy Sugerman’s last song. She’s a Canberra girl and was a finalist in the most recent showing of The Voice. She graduated from Year 12 the day before the concert.

Daryl Braithwaite, Anthems concert, Canberra, Australia

Daryl Braithwaite

My favourite performances of the night were Kate Ceberano’s Love don’t live here anymore, Daryl Braithwaite’s As the days go by and John Farnham’s Age of reason.

Was great to see sisters, Vika and Linda. I’ve always loved their music and have seen them live before. I had not realised their career got its start with The Black Sorrows in 1988. Also loved Kate Ceberano’s rendition of the late Chrissy Amphlett’s I touch myself, which has become an anthem for breast cancer awareness.

I was there as a birthday present, and there was another special birthday on the night. The audience sang Happy Birthday to Kate Ceberano. I won’t mention her age or mine.

But did I mention the sunset?

Sunset with Black Mountain Tower, Canberra

The sunset cast a golden glow on the arboretum hills in front of Black Mountain Tower

10 November 2018 / leggypeggy

Poppies remember war losses


Poppies at Australian War Memorial

Poppies at War Memorial with Lone Pine on the right (see notes at bottom)

Poppies at Aussie War Memorial

Yellow honours Aborigines, white honours nurses and purple honours animals

World War I—also referred to as The Great War—ended 100 years ago tomorrow. In the lead-up to that sobering anniversary, our Australian War Memorial has hosted a display of 62,000 wool poppies that honour the Aussie soldiers who never came home.

The display had its start five years ago when fibre artists and sisters-in-law, Lynn Berry and Margaret Knight, set out to create 120 poppies to be laid at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne. These were to serve as a tribute to their fathers—Wal Beasley and Stan Knight—who fought in World War II.

Poppy display

I’ve taken many knitting classes and still can’t cast on. Could I make these?

Their gesture sparked an outpouring of interest. From across the world, people knitted and contributed their own hand-made flowers. One day, 4000 poppies arrived from an anonymous contributor. Canberra volunteers knitted about 5000.

Many of the flowers have included personal notes and items, such as buttons from soldiers’ tunics. Some are entwined with yellow stitching as a tribute Aboriginal soldiers, while others include swathes of white, for nurses, and purple, in honour of animals involved in the war.

A field of poppies in Australia

Poppies with the tall Lone Pine on the right

Poppies with buttons

Poppies with buttons

This poppy field, designed by architect Philip Johnson, is part of a wider series of public events known as the 5000 Poppies project.

An estimated 1 million poppies have been crafted by people from around the world, for displays not only in Australia, but also England and France. Prior to coming to Canberra, many of the poppies have been displayed at London’s Chelsea Flower Show and at Cobbers Memorial in Fromelle, France.

Another 270,000 poppies have been spread out in front of our Australian Parliament House. They’ll be on display for another week and I’ll try to get up there for another pic.

Fellow blogger—boomingon—also did a great post on this display. You can see it here.

Sir John Monash statue

Keeping things tidy around the statue of Sir General John Monash

P.S. My heart goes out to you if you lost a family member in that ‘great’ or any other war. When will we learn?

P.P.S. A brief comment about the Lone Pine (mentioned in captions). In 1915, there was a huge battle over Lone Pine Ridge in Gallipoli. An Aussie soldier found a cone on one of the branches used by the Turks as overhead cover for their trenches. He sent the cone to his mother. She planted it and raised a tree that she presented to the War Memorial in honour of her son and others who fell at Lone Pine.

P.P.P.S. Another comment about Sir General John Monash (the statue shown above). He is often considered to be one of Australia’s most outstanding military and civilian leaders, and one of the greatest commanders of the Great War.

Field of poppies

More than 62,000 knitted poppies honour Australias fallen soldiers

3 November 2018 / leggypeggy

Love old wheels? Check out Yass

1937 Packard 120 Business Coupe

1937 Packard 120 Business Coupe

1939 Buick Business Coupe

1939 Buick Business Coupe

1924 Ford Model T Speedster

1924 Ford Model T Speedster

If you’re quick and anywhere near Yass in New South Wales, you still have time to check out Classic Yass, the annual vintage motor show. It’s on today, 3 November, with almost 350 entrants spread across Banjo Patterson and Riverside Parks.

My friend, Maggie, and I stopped by this morning. We went early and got the second-best parking place in town.

Hundreds of people (and quite a few dogs) were there to enjoy the cars and billy cart (go cart) races. Maggie said there had been a plan to cancel the races, but there had been a public outcry. Race organiser, the Rotary Club, said they needed more volunteers for the races to go ahead. That worked because most of Yass offered to help.

The day has plenty of other activities. There are plenty of food stalls, a vintage fashion parade, various music and dance performances, an art display, a book sale (on Sunday too), Devonshire teas and a dance to finish off the evening.

1934 Chevrolet Standard Roadster

1934 Chevrolet Standard Roadster

1936 Armstrong Siddeley 12 Plus TT Sports

1936 Armstrong Siddeley 12 Plus TT Sports

1951 Riley RMB

1951 Riley RMB

But getting back to cars. I don’t care much about vehicles in general. Mine gets me from A to B. But I love looking at vintage ones. It’s especially fun to see those I remember from my childhood.

We lived on a busy street and the next-door neighbour’s son, David, and I used to sit on the front porch and name the car makes as they cruised by.

1958 Wolseley 1500 MK I

1958 Wolseley 1500 MK I

1956 Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire

1956 Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire

1954 Swallow Doretti Roadster

1954 Swallow Doretti Roadster

The neighbours behind us collected Packards. I think they had five—with three up on blocks in the backyard. David’s dad had a Studebaker and sometimes he gave us a lift to school. My dad had an ancient blue Dodge van and a pale green 1953 Chrysler.

One of our friends in Burma collected cars. I rode in his Lagonda and Edsel. Another time, I had rides in a Daimler, a Rolls Royce and a Jaguar. And in the early 1970s, I owned a Cougar, the one that was named Car of the Year in 1967.

1958 Lambretta

1958 Lambretta with sidecar

By the way, see the motorbike and sidecar just above. I drove out to Yass yesterday in a downpour. I can’t be 100 per cent sure, but on the way I saw a rider with his bright red motorbike and sidecar sheltering under a tree.

Have a look at some of the other gems that were on display in Yass today. Do you have a favourite vintage car?

1954 Daimler Conquest

1954 Daimler Conquest

1959 Jaguar XK150 FHC

1959 Jaguar XK150 FHC

28 October 2018 / leggypeggy

Now for a stroll in my garden


The only orchid I’ve managed to keep

Hellebores (winter rose)

Hellebores also known as winter roses

Mock orange

Mock orange

We’ve been traipsing around the wonderful national parks of western USA, but we’re home now. I promise to share many more posts about the parks, but it’s spring in Australia and I have to share what’s going on in my backyard.

Actually this post covers three backyards.

Most pics are from my backyard in Canberra. Another is from our bush garden at the coast in Rosedale. A few others are from a front garden in Yass. Once a week, I drive to Yass to stay with my friend, Maggie.

Male fairy blue wren

Male fairy blue wren at Maggie’s

Maggie's irises

Maggie’s irises

Maggie's banksia rose

Maggie’s banksia rose

There’s not much by way of explanation. Just pics and captions (where possible) for you to enjoy.

As an aside, these last few days have been Australia’s annual bird survey. People are asked to watch (in blocks of 20 minutes) to see what birds visit their garden, local park, neighbourhood or any other address they choose.

You can count birds you hear (but can’t see) if you know their calls. You can count birds that fly overhead if you can recognise them.

I watched for a total of 100 minutes over five days and saw more than 25 different birds. Obviously, I didn’t get to photograph all of them.

House sparrow

House sparrow

Yellow bunny rose

Yellow bunny rose

Peace rose

Peace rose

Honeyeater at Rosedale

Honeyeater at Rosedale