Farewell Birkenhead

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky

In October 2022 it will be sixty years since I first went to sea.

I had eight days to pack and join my first ship, did I have everything  . . .

I had only been to Woodside station once before when I was a lot younger, and we were visiting relatives in Stafford. Most of my train travel had been from Liverpool Lime Street, so Woodside was a new experience.
The station had been opened in 1878 and thanks to the Beeching Report in 1963 the station would close in 1967.

When I arrived at the station in October 1962 it was it was busy with trains arriving and leaving all the time.

My trunk was packed with my uniform for the tropics and for a European winter, along with civilian clothes if I wished to go ashore.
Mum & Dad took me to the station, and I was glad of Dad’s help to drag my sea chest to the guard’s van. The type of sea chest that I picked was invented before the wheel!
My passport and my brand new red British Seaman’s Card, and my new blue Seaman’s Record Book and Certificate of Discharge were stowed in a safe place in my jacket pocket.
       

Must not forget my collection of International Certificates of Vaccination, which over the next few years I collected details of varies ‘jabs’ starting with HMS Conway when I was about to leave in the summer of 1962 , followed by Liverpool (five times over the following years), Dubai (twice), Singapore, New Zealand (three times), Karachi (at least once, but could be twice – a blunt needle comes to mind) and even received a jab from the doctor on the Dunera, which saved me a trip ashore.
The Company was very strict that our various vaccination records were kept up to date.

Photo thanks to Bevan Price (picture taken in 1967).
In 1962 Woodside was busy and bustling with people travelling.  

       Picture thanks to Alan Murray-Rust ([Picture taken in 1967)
The smell of steam and hot oil remains a memory of happy train journeys because the engine was a living machine unlike the current rolling stock.   

There are many pictures of Woodside Station that were taken just before the station was closed, but little had changed from when I boarded the train to Falmouth in 1962. 

Falmouth Docks Station (the only station in Falmouth at the time) picture taken in 1966 – copyright Patrick English.

A quick phone call to the agent and I was soon in a launch because Ellenga was moored in the Fal River. 

Ellenga – 37,420 dwt

Launched in 1960 and was named after a village in the Tangail district of East Bengal, which at that time was known as East Pakistan and today is Bangladesh.

I was eighteen when I stepped aboard Ellenga and I was paid the grand sum of £16-10-0 a month  (about £200 / month in today’s value).
It was hard work, (we were not paid overtime) but she was a happy ship and I began to learn Hindi as most of the crew were from India.

The book was recommended by the Company, so I purchased The Malim Sahibs Hindustani as a guide to learn Hindi. I still have this book, and even now I can remember certain words and phrases. 

Once we arrived in the Persian Gulf we carried out what was known as the ‘Mina- Aden- ferry’ – which meant that we loaded crude oil in Mina El Hammani in Kuwait and five days later we discharged the cargo at a refinery in Little Aden, which is across the bay  from Aden  (which is now part of Yemen).
Once we had completed our discharge we sailed for Kuwait and the next five days we tank cleaned.
I was one of four cadets and we were worked in pairs – six hour on six hour off – each pair of cadets had three crew members working with them. 
H&S was in the future as we manhandled large flexible hoses with a  three legged Butterworth pump on the end of the hoses to blast the oil from the sides of each tank.
Each tank was just over fifty feet deep, and we blasted sea water at three levels – we had a total of thirty three tanks, but we only used twenty seven for oil, the others were used for sea water as ballast for when we were empty.  

I am second from the left and as you see tank cleaning was a dirty job. At the end of the process for each tank one of us would climb down the fifty-foot ladder into the oil sludge at the bottom. We had a large rubber brush to brush the sludge to the pumps to maximise the amount to be sucked out of the tank. The action of brushing caused fumes to rise, and these fumes made you feel drunk so climbing the fifty foot vertical ladder could be dangerous due to everything, including the ladder, being slippery due to the oil residue. Welcome to life at sea in tankers in 1962.

The ship carried breathing apparatus, and it was available for us to wear, but in the heat of the Persian Gulf wearing it was out of the question, it was far too hot.
Plus it was heavy and trying to climb out of the oil tank via a vertical slippery ladder wearing the full gear was unacceptable.

Tank cleaning went on day and night, and at night when cleaning the forward tanks, we had to use shielded torches so as not to ruin the night vision of the those on the bridge. 

The water used to clean the tanks was pumped overboard when we were more than 100 miles off land – the oil slick followed us for days because we had to have the tanks cleaned before we arrived in Kuwait for a fresh cargo.        

I sailed in Ellenga for just under nine months and besides the Mina -Aden ferry we also carried oil to Europe, and we did do one trip in mid-winter from Kuwait to Philadelphia in the US, 28 days without touching land, after which we sailed to Venezuela for a cargo of oil for Germany.
Our destination was LEFO, but even after checking the ship’s large atlas I could not find where LEFO was, until the 2nd mate mentioned Lands’ End For Orders – in case the oil had been on sold and was not destined for Germany.
In our case we discharged in Wilhelmshaven as planned and sailed in ballast back to the Persian Gulf, tank cleaning of course.  
While I was in Ellenga I was taught how to steer, it was not as easy as it looked, but eventually I mastered how to do it correctly (my certificate below).

Not long after I had started to learn to steer the captain commented to me that as the war was over, I did not have to keep zig zagging to avoid submarines. Steering such a large vessel one gets a ‘feel’ for her, and once this happens you no longer zig zag.

During the Mina-Aden ferry we had a bit of luck – we sailed from Kuwait fully loaded so tank cleaning was not required over Christmas.

Breakfast on Christmas Day 1962, and all cadets were off duty!

Lunch on Christmas Day 1962

Dinner Christmas Day 1962
The one thing about British India Steam Nav. Co, most of the vessels in which I sailed were all good ‘feeders.’ 

It was hard work but it was interesting and after nearly nine months I paid off Ellenga at The Isle of Grain, which is at the mouth of the Thames, and I was given another rail voucher, this time to Birkenhead and sent home on leave.


Black chair Eisteddfod Birkenhead

Flag of Wales

The Eisteddfod can be traced back to Cardigan Castle in 1176, when the House of Dinefwr, which was a royal house of Wales, supported the eisteddfod.

The House of Dinefwr can be traced back to King of Gwynedd in 844. The above is the flag of Dinefwr.

The Eisteddfod had it ups and down over the centuries until the 1789 meeting which was held in Bala under new strict rules. 
Thanks to the Napoleonic wars the Eisteddfods were halted and reactivated after the Battle of Waterloo.  

Between 1819 and 1834 the Eisteddfod grew in popularity and in Denbigh where it was held in 1828 the Duke of Sussex (King George IV’s brother) attended.
At the Beaumaris Eisteddfod in 1832 Princess Victoria and her mother visited the festival.  

It wasn’t always poems and song because in 1858 the English press were ‘outraged’ and one writer in The Times wrote that it was “simply foolish interference with the natural progress of civilization and prosperity – it is a monstrous folly to encourage the Welsh in a loving fondness for their old language.”

Consider that comment appearing in a newspaper in today’s Cancel Culture world.

From the beginning the Eisteddfod had always been held in a Welsh town or city, but in 1866 it was held in Chester and twelve years later in 1878 the Eisteddfod was held in another English town, Birkenhead. The gorsedd (Welsh for Throne) was held at Birkenhead Park on Monday the 23rd of September 1878.

Above is the symbol of the Gorsedd (in Cornwall it is spelt Gorsedh)

On the following day, Tuesday the Eisteddfod began in earnest in a large wooden pavilion that had been erected close to Woodside Ferry. Inside the pavilion was a platform for the orchestra which could seat between 300- 400 people, above which was the Royal Coat of Arms surmounted by the Prince of Wales feathers. 

Something like the above 

In consideration of the locals using the Woodside area for the ferries and the new railway station that had been opened six months earlier in March 1878, the authorities re-routed all excursion trains for the festival to the older station of Monks Ferry. The distance from Monks Ferry to the pavilion was about a kilometre (or half a mile).            

Woodside Station – which was closed in 1967 

Monks Ferry Station, which was opened in 1840 and was closed as a passenger station when the Woodside Station opened in 1878. Monks Ferry remained only as a goods station and was finally closed in 1961.  

Trains from all over the British Isles carried Eisteddfod visitors to Chester to meet with excursion trains from Chester to Monks Ferry station in Birkenhead. On the second day of the Eisteddfod (Tuesday) there were seven special trains from Chester to Birkenhead with an estimated 3,400 passengers keen to visit the Eisteddfod. 

On each day of the festival the Gorsedd would meet at 9.00 am in Birkenhead Park and at 11.00 am the musical competition would begin at the pavilion at Woodside where between 6,000 to 7,000 people were packed into the pavilion and thousands of others were outside.
At that time the honoured guests were MPs, the Mayor of Birkenhead David Laird and members of the Eisteddfod committee.

It would be thirty-three years before the Eisteddfod committee would choose Birkenhead again to host the annual event and this time the Prime Minister would attend and speak.

Lloyd George in Birkenhead

1863-1945
Lloyd George was Prime Minister from 1916-1922

David Lloyd George born in Manchester of Welsh parents and his first language was Welsh. 

As Prime Minister, Lloyd George attended the Eisteddfod in Birkenhead in 1917.

The Eisteddfod was held in Birkenhead Park -the above shows the park as it is today, but the basic layout is as it was in 1847. It is the first publicly funded civic park in the world.

The Eisteddfod is a national stage to celebrate music, poetry, dance and the visual arts, which takes into account friendly competition between artists.  It is a celebration of the Welsh culture via these poets, composers, artists etc who compete.

The winning poet is award the bardic chair, which the poet keeps. 

 Three adjudicators in the chair competition agreed that a poem called Yr Arwr (‘The Hero’) was the best poem that had been submitted in the 1917 competition.
On the 6th September 1917 the poet was called upon to come and accept the chair by sitting in it – three time they called for the poet and at the third call the Archdruid let it be known that the poet, Ellis Humphrey Evans, had been killed in action, just over five weeks earlier.

Ellis Humphrey Evans had been on two weeks leave after basic training in Liverpool, and it was during this time that he wrote the poem Yr Arwr (The Hero) 
When the leave was over he left for overseas in such a hurry that he forgot the poem and re-wrote it in Flanders and signed it Fleur-de-lis, before posting it at the end of June to the Eisteddfod adjudicators.   
He was fatally wounded on the 31st July 1917 at the third battle of Ypres (which later became known as the Battle of Passchendaele).
The poet wrote under the pen name of Hedd Wyn (Blessed Peace ), which he was given by by the bard Bryfdir in 1910. 

The Bardic Chair in Birkenhead was covered with a black sheet and the 1917 Eisteddfod became know as the ‘The Eisteddfod of the Black Chair’.

Ellis Humphrey Evans
  January 1887 – July 1917

There is a memorial to “Hedd Wyn” and the Eisteddfod of 1917 in Birkenhead Park. 

I have a personal link with the National Eisteddfod because my mother was a member of the Birkenhead Welsh Choral Society, and she sang at one of the eisteddfods, but I am not sure which one.

The badge off my mother’s ‘uniform’ for the competition.

This badge was used to pin the cloth badge to her blouse.

The shield and certificates can be seen, but I am unable to read them even after ‘blowing up’ the picture. When I was younger, I am sure I was shown her medal or some commemorative item, but for the life of me I cannot find it, which isn’t surprising after moving to Australia!

My mother is front row, fourth from the left – the badge can be seen on her blouse.

Louie Harris as she was then, and later becoming Louie Woodland (in 1939).

She was born in Caernarvon in 1909 and moved to England when she was twelve. She didn’t speak English until she arrived in England.
In 1925 she would have been sixteen and the competition at that time was held in Pwllheli.
I mention this because of the cost of getting to Pwllheli from Birkenhead, very few people had cars, and there were three older sisters in the family, so money was tight. 
The distance from Birkenhead to Pwllheli is about 100 miles, which in 1925, would have taken about four hours and accommodation would have been required for the choir.

I think the above panoramic photograph was taken at the 1929 Eisteddfod which was held in Sefton Park Liverpool.
It is a ferry ride across the River Mersey from Birkenhead, and a short four-mile bus ride to Sefton Park. The closeness of Sefton Park in Liverpool would allow the contestants from Birkenhead to go home each evening. At that time my mother would have been twenty years old.

As a foot note – when I was about twelve or thirteen, I was in the school choir at Prenton Secondary School in Birkenhead – perhaps my voice at that time was thanks to Mum, and we used to sing in concerts and the occasional international competition.
One year my choir was asked to host a German choir, and my parents agreed to host a German boy, of similar age to me, to stay at our home for about a week.
It was an interesting week because he couldn’t speak English and I couldn’t speak German, and the only other language that we could use was Welsh, which was of little help.

I can remember the German boy now, Andreus was his Christian name, we wrote to each other as pen pals, but at that age writing letters was a pain, and it eventually stopped.
I wonder how his life panned out.

 

Blackman’s Swamp

Blackman’s Swamp in 1870

We had five nights in Cowra and planned to have three nights at Blackman’s Swamp.
We left Cowra on Friday, but after we received a phone call that Maureen was booked into hospital on Tuesday we decided to cut our visit to Blackman’s Swamp to just two nights.
Just to make things clear in today’s cancel culture world, Blackman’s Swamp was named after an Englishman named James Blackman who arrived in Australia in 1802 as one of four children of James Blackman (senior) and his wife. The children were all boys, Samuel, James, John & William.
They arrived as free settlers who had been sponsored by the British Colonial Office.
James (Junior) was one of ten farmers to be allocated 50 acres of land near Bathurst in NSW.
In 1818 it is thought that Blackman became involved in exploring and was with  John Oxley’s expedition to Port Macquarie, because there is a Blackman’s Point on the northern bank of the Hasting River at Port Macquarie.

                                                      John Oxley 1783 – 1828
John Oxley had arrived in Sydney as the Surveyor-General in 1812.

During their return from investigating what was to become Port Macquarie they came across a beautiful valley with a river running through it, which was unknown to the Europeans.
Oxley, as the leader, named the valley Wellington after the Duke of Wellington at the battle of Waterloo.

                 Sir Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington – 1769 – 1852.

Oxley also named the river as the Bell River after Thomas Bell who had fought with Wellington in Spain and commanded the 48th regiment at the battle of Salamanca (1812) & Neville (1813) against the French, for which he was awarded the C.B  and four other medals, and a gold cross.
(The C.B. =  Most Honourable Order of the Bath, a British order of chivalry founded by King George I in May 1725).

I was unable to find a picture of Thomas Bell, but I did find his medals, which were sold in 2008 for USD $55,000.

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, C.B., Military Division is the first medal on the left, followed by the Army Gold Cross in gold, and the first clasp on the third medal was for Salamanca, the second clasp Neville. On the fourth medal the clasps are for the battles of Albuhera, Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz and Toulouse.

In 1827 Thomas Mitchell was appointed as Assistant Surveyor General under John Oxley.
In 1828 Oxley died and Mitchell took over as Surveyor General


Thomas Mitchell 1792 – 1855

Thomas Mitchell joined the 95th Rifles in 1811 (which later became the Rifle Brigade) and took part in a number of battles during the Peninsular war against the French.
He was a skilled draftsman and at the end of the war spent time in Portugal & Spain making sketches of the various battles.
Later as Surveyor General he completed plans of Sydney and the Nineteen Counties (the Nineteen Counties were the geographic limitations of the colony of NSW). For his skill and accuracy he was knighted in 1834.
In 1846 Thomas Mitchell renamed Blackman’s Swamp to Orange, to honour Prince William of Orange with whom he had served during the Peninsular war.

William II of the Netherlands. 1792 – 1849

William II was 22 at the battle of Waterloo and was wounded in the left shoulder by a muscat ball. He was commander of the 1st Corps, not bad for a 22- year- old.

The town of Orange has been confused with the fruit for years, but oranges do not grow in or around Orange, but the climate is ideal for the growing of apples.

As the town of Blackman’s Swamp / Orange has grown we were not required to sleep in a swamp.
We decided to stay at the Quest, which is a cross between a hotel and self- catering.

Maureen is at a small kitchenette with all the facilities to cook a meal.

The sleeping area, and on my right (as I took this picture) was the bathroom.

In the morning after breakfast, we left for the day and like a normal hotel staff would tidy the place & make the bed etc.  The main difference was that the hotel only had a coffee shop, they did not have a restaurant.
The hotel supplied  tea, coffee (instant & perc), milk and all cutlery & crockery in the kitchenet. It was perfect for us.

I woke early due to the full moon lighting the whole room – I had drawn the net curtains, but not the blackout the previous evening.

The view from our window.

During our first evening we ate at the Hotel Orange, which was a short walk from our accommodation.

It was a pub with a dining area, all very pleasant and the staff were friendly, and we enjoyed the food. Only after ordering the food did we find out that our first drinks were free, which was a nice touch.

The above picture is copied from their web page because I think the lady in the picture served us.
The following day we ate at ‘Mr Lim’ which is a Korean restaurant that was recommended by one of the staff in our hotel.

Kitchen was open for all to see what was ‘cooking’ lovely food and different than Chinese food.


If you have a gang . . . tables can be combined or isolated depending on the number in your group.

                                         The food went well with the beer.

It was Friday afternoon so we decided to take a walk along Summer Street, the main shopping street of Orange.
This road is also known as the Mitchell Highway, being named after Thomas Mitchell who was the Surveyor General in 1828.

                                     Dalton Brothers Store – founded in 1849.

I could not walk  past this building without taking a photograph, because I already knew a little of the Dalton family.

James Dalton 1834 – 1919

A fascinating story of an Irish family that migrated from Ireland to Australia in the late 1840’s. The father built and opened a bark and slab store.
This type of building is an all-wood building – the trees are split to create ‘planks’ which are used to create the floor. Using certain types of Eucalypts trees they found that the floor would be termite resistant.

Over the years the Dalton family expanded and opened a shop in Orange as well as flour mills.
In the 1870’s they knew that the railway was going to change things, so they started an importing agency in Sydney, built Dalton House (115 Pitt St. Sydney), the original building has been replaced with a modern structure.
In addition the Dalton’s built storehouses, a wharf, warehouses and bond stores in Sydney in support of their overall business.
From reading about the Dalton family I am surprised that they have not become the basis of an Australian fictional literary saga or even a TV series.
If you would like to know a little more about this family, click on the link below. Be careful not to get the Australian Dalton’s mixed up with the American Dalton family who were outlaws.

Dalton’s of Orange

‘Banjo’ Paterson in 1890.

One of Orange’s most famous sons was the poet ‘Banjo’ Paterson, 1864-1941.
His correct name was Andrew Barton Paterson, and after leaving school he became an articled clerk before being admitted as a solicitor.
During his time a solicitor he submitted his writing to The Bulletin, which was a literary journal.
When writing he used the pen name of The Banjo, which was the name of a horse that his family used to own.

Waltzing Matilda

He was not only a poet because he was also a journalist, and as such covered the Boer War in S. Africa. He became editor of the Sydney Evening News.
When WW1 broke out, he failed to become the European correspondent for the fighting in Flanders, so volunteered as an ambulance driver.
He returned to Australia in 1915 and was commissioned in the army and returned to France where he was wounded and reported missing in 1916. Later he commanded a unit in Egypt. He was discharged from the army in 1919.

Everyone remembers that Banjo Paterson wrote Waltzing Matilda, but few remember who wrote the music, it was Christina Macpherson.

‘Banjo’ Paterson was awarded a CBE in 1939, and he died in February 1941 at the age of 77.

His poem of The Man from Snowy River has been a film,

a second film – The man from Snowy River II

and a TV series of 65 episodes (four series over two years)
all based on Banjo Paterson’s poem.

Just two verses of the thirteen verses of ‘The Man from Snowy River’.

When they reached the mountain’s summit, even Clancy took a pull,
It well might make the boldest hold their breath,
The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden ground was full
Of wombat holes, and any slip was death.
But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head,
And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer,
And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,
While the others stood and watched in very fear.

He sent the flint stones flying, but the pony kept his feet,
He cleared the fallen timber in his stride,
And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat –
It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride.
Through the stringybarks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground,
Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;
And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and sound,
At the bottom of that terrible descent.

The ride

Lambing Flat

Today it is the cherry capital of Australia.

In 1847 Edward Taylor planted the first cherry tree in the Lambing Flat area.

James White was the first European to lay claim to land in the area in 1826. He had been convicted of horse stealing in Buckinghamshire in the UK in 1812 and transported to Australia in 1813.
He named his cattle station ‘Burrangong’ and claimed 260 square kilometres of land (100 square miles).
In 1860 a group of men, led by Michael Sheedy, were looking for horses on James White’s land and they  camped along a creek in an area called Lambing Flat.
The cook for the group, who was an American, thought the area reminded him of goldfields that he had encountered previously. He washed several spade full of earth and found gold.
The group returned to their homes, which were about 51 km away (32 miles), and a few days Michael Sheedy and six of the group returned to Lambing Flat with equipment to test the area for gold.
They found gold and within a short time there were fifty more people looking for gold, which soon grew to thousands of gold seekers, and many of the new prospectors were Chinese.

Lambing Flat miners’ camp c.1860s. Courtesy State Library of  New South Wales

It is estimated that the goldfields produced 15,000 kgs of gold (470,000 ozt) thanks to the 20,000 miners of which 2000 were Chinese.

In 1861 the Lambing Flat post office was opened and in 1863 it was renamed ‘Young’ in honour of the Governor of NSW Sir John Young, 1861 to 1867.

Sir John Young  1807-1876

In 1889 the town of Young was the first town in Australia to have electric streetlights and electricity connected to homes, which was only ten years after the first electric street light and connection to homes had been switch on in Newcastle England.

Maureen and I decided upon a visit to Young and I followed the signs to the tourist centre, which I usually do when I visit any new town, so it was a surprise to see that it was located in a railway station.

Entrance

The railway station was a lovely looking building and too big to get in to one screen shot in my camera.

The right-hand side of the building and the red bits are train carriages.

Closer look of the rail carriages.

The station was opened in 1885 and closed in December 1989 and is considered historically rare. I must admit that it is a fine well-built solid station that reflects the power of the railways in years gone by.

I wonder when the next train will arrive.

Past times. I am standing on the platform with the station behind me.

Picture by Denisbin https://www.flickr.com/photos/82134796@N03/

Inside the railway station the various offices have been converted into a welcome area for the tourists with very helpful staff. One of the old waiting rooms is a now a display area for various wines produced in and around Young.

I do like a town that helps me try out their wines – unfortunately I never managed to get close to any vineyard – I should have bought a bottle or two from the railway station.
I wouldn’t mind how late the train was if the station waiting room is like the waiting room in Young. All the wine on display was for sale.

While chatting with the young lady at the tourist desk she suggested a visit to Poppa’s Fudge & Jam Factory, which was a five-minute walk from the railway station.
of course the focus was on cherries, strawberry and cherry jam, cherry Turkish delight, cherry sauce, cherry nougat, they also had Cherry chutney, Chilli Cherry Chutney, cherry topping and so on . . . . I think we bought a few jars of cherry jam as presents because I don’t have a sweet tooth and prefer sour marmalade. Think Easter  Poppa’s Fudge & Jams
If you click on the link, click full screen, less distractions from other adverts.   

Young was interesting, but the town centre was like any other small town centres with shops- interesting for Maureen  . . . .

Farwell to the cherry tree capital

Driving around the Cowra/Young area I can’t help stopping at odd ball places because of the name.

Most of the odd ball places always have a pub, so they can’t be too bad of a place to live. . .

Talking of pubs perhaps the best place to experience a pub would be in the UK at Millthorpe in Derbyshire.

Perhaps the Royal Oak, Millthorpe for a British pint of beer, the pub was built in 1857, from British aspect the pub is quite new.

When I saw the map of NSW and noticed Millthorpe we just had to visit, because when we lived in the UK we were only about 60 km (40 miles) from Millthorpe. 

The two towns have one thing in common – quiet streets.

Must admit I do like the pavement overhang to keep a shopper cool or dry depending on the weather.

The building on the right was built in 1911, old for Australia, but yesterday from a British point of view.

The Grand Western Lodge in Millthorpe Australia, built in 1901.
At first, I thought it was a Masonic Lodge, but have since read that it started life as a hotel-pub. It closed operating as a hotel in 1961.
Because of its historical importance as a fine example of an Edwardian pub it is now listed on the NSW State Heritage Register. 
In 1987 it became a nursing home for people with disabilities. 
In 2013 the residents initiated a class action against the management and in 2016 the action was settled for $4.05 million.
In 2020 I believe the building was sold again and the new owners plan to renovate the place and turn it back in to being a hotel. 

Next stop . . .   

Past Time Towns

Canowindra

During our stay in Cowra we visited other towns and one was Canowindra. On the day we visited it was quiet, but if we had picked April instead of March, we would have experienced an international balloon challenge. The above was copied from the advert for the balloon meet.

It was a lovely day, but the town was quiet, and I was able to stand in the middle of the road without fear of being run over while I fiddled with my camera. The population of the town is just over 2000 people according to the 2016 census, which would account for the lack of traffic.

Finns Building built in 1910

Royal Hotel, perhaps seen better days as a pub, but I was told they still operate as a restaurant.

This pub was built on the site of a previous pub called Robinsons’ Hotel which began life in the 1850’s. The Robinsons’ Hotel became famous in October 1863 when Ben Hall and his bushranger gang (think bandits) took over the hotel for three days.

Ben Hall 1837- 1865

They locked the local policeman in his own cell, none of the local people were hurt and the bushrangers gave the locals beer, blankets and entertainment. When they left, they paid for their time at the hotel and ‘expenses’ to the citizens. The point of the three days was to confirm that Ben Hall and his men could do what they wanted and that the police were unable to stop them.
By 1865 Ben Hall and his gang were classed as outlaws and could be shot on sight.
                        There was a £1000 reward on his head.
              Which is approx. AUD $115,000 or USD $80,000 today.The Old Vic Inn, which is up the road from the Royal Hotel.

Originally built as a weatherboard building in 1865 and was called the Victoria Hotel. In 1908 it was upgraded on the promise of more traffic thanks to the railway arriving in town.

The hotel was closed in 1967 and remodelled as a convalescent home and later became a B&B.
Family butcher building, built in 1913 

As we walked along the street, we could feel the history of the town. There were hardly any other people around, but as we strolled under a canopy a young man ‘befriended’ us – I think he just liked to speak to strangers. 
He started talking and pointing our various places of interest and gave us information as to what happens at various time of the year and the visitors for the balloons. He told us that we were too early to see the hot air balloons but that at that time the town would be full of people.
We reached the end of the street and crossed to walk back to our car along the other side of the road, and the young man bid us goodbye, because he was going to a meeting. It was an interesting encounter that we would not have received in Sydney.

Had to take this photograph because it seemed just right in Canowindra.

Later we visited Forbes, which is a larger country town that Canowindra. It is thought that the town was named after the first chief justice of NSW Sir Francis Forbes in 1861 during a gold rush period.

Forbes Townhall – obviously a rich town when it was built.

 

Forbes Post Office.

Court House built in 1880 – still had the old coat of arms – Australia did not become a federation until 1901.

In the park across the road from the Court House was the war memorial, which listed the wars in which the locals had been involved.
WW one 1914-1918
WW two 1939-1945
Korean war 1950-1953
Malaya 1948-1960
Malaya 1963-1966
Vietnam 1962- 1973
Somalia 1992-1995
East Timor 1999-2013
Iraq 2003 – 2009
Afghanistan 2001-2013 

A fine record of service for a town with a population of about 8,500 in the 2016 census.
During the gold rush there was a tent city located at Forbes with a population of over 30,000 people.

A peaceful picture of the bandstand in the same park as the memorial, with Maureen under the palm tree.

To bring the bushranger story of Ben Hall to a close he was shot dead at Billabong Creek about 20 km (12 miles) outside Forbes in 1865 two days before his 28th birthday. He was buried in Forbes Cemetery.

The statue of Ben Hall outside Forbes’ information centre.

Ben Hall was surprised at his camp site at Billabong Creek. When he woke from sleep, he saw that he was surrounded by eight men (six policemen and two trackers), the police opened fire and shot him over thirty times as he tried to escape.
He was unable to return fire because the first shots from the police severed his gun belt as he attempted to run.  
The picture is a newspaper drawing created shortly after his death. 
If you wish to know more of Ben Hall, I can recommend this book. 

Just for the record I have known Nick for some years, (he lives in Sydney) and I am recommending his book for the quality of his writing and research, not for any other reason. 
He is Scottish by birth, if you are wondering about his name.  

When I drive around the old smaller towns of Australia, I can’t help but think of

Tenterfield Traveller

Parkes

About an hour and a half from Cowra is Parkes, so name after Henry Parkes in 1873 later Sir Henry Parkes.

Sir Henry in the town centre of Parkes.

Parkes is now famous for the radio telescope that is located just outside of the town.

It was built in 1961, but only the basic structure has remained. All of the electronics, control, cabling etc has been updated regularly and the Parkes Radio Telescope is now ten thousand time more sensitive than when it first started in 1961.

The design of the telescope was copied by NASA for the tracking dishes of its Deep Space Network.

The dish and the other moving parts weigh one million kilos (approx 1000 tons). The diameter of the dish is 64 metres (70 yards).

The dish is a receiver it never sends outbound signals – it is a listening unit.

The dish can be tilted to a maximum of 60 degrees, which take five minutes to complete.

The above photo is by David Crosling

Students can control the telescope over the internet.

The telescope is used 85% of the time, which allows time for maintenance – less than 5% is lost due to high winds. If the wind is greater than 35 km / hour (about 22 mph) the dish is pointed straight up. 

During the Apollo 11 mission the Parkes Dish was the prime receiving station and during the Moon walk the Parke’s dish had to contend with wind gusting at over 100 km per hour, and the Director had to give special permission for the dish to operate.
The Dish was involved in further Apollo missions – 12, 14, 15, and 17.  It was called on to help during the Apollo 13 emergency.

This telescope, in partnership with Jodrell Bank (UK) & the Green Bank telescope in West Virginia (US) discovered in 2003, the only known system of two pulsars.
The Parkes telescope has an accuracy of 11 arcseconds, which is about the width of a finger seen at a distance of 150 mtrs (164 yards).
If you are interested in the details of double pulsars – who isn’t? . . . . . 
check out the link below – after reading it a few times I think I grasped a little.
Check if I am correct

The double pulsar is ‘only’ 2000 light years away from us.
One light year is the distance that light will travel, in an Earth year, which is 9.5 trillion km or 5.88 trillion miles, now multiply those figures by 2000 . . . . . 

The various objects in space issue radio waves and it these waves that the Parkes Telescope captures, and using computers the captured radio waves are converted into pictures.   

I copied the above pictures and explanation from the Australian Telescope Fast Facts leaflet.

The radio waves received are so weak by the time they reach Earth they are measured as a hundredth of a million of a million watt.
If you were to use the power in the captured radio wave to heat water, it would take 70,000 years to heat one drop of water one degree Centigrade or 33.8 degree Fahrenheit.   

If you are looking for a light-hearted look at Parkes radio telescope, try a film called ‘The Dish’ with Sam Neill in the lead role.
If you do watch this film be aware that it is entertainment – in real life they did not have a power failure, they did not lose the track of the spacecraft, there were more than four people involved at the time, the Australians & the Americans were not against each other – they had a good working relationship, the PM of Australia did not visit Parkes, but he did visit the Honeysuckle Creek tracking station.

The Prime Minister of Australia

John Gorton, (1911-2002),he was Knighted in 1977,

The PM visited Honeysuckle Creek rather than Parkes on that momentous day in 1969 for a reason that is clear if you click on the link below. 

  First amongst equals

Buzz Aldrin, photographed by Neil Armstrong.

Long Live Absolute World Peace

Cowra is the only place in the world that has a Peace Bell and is not a major city.

In 1951, Chiyoji Nakagawa, who at that time was a council member of the UN Association of Japan visited Paris at his own expense to observe the 6th General Assembly of the United Nations.
He obtained the aid of Benjamin Cohen, who was the Secretary General, so that he could appeal to national representatives and said

“I want to collect coins and medals from people all over the world, going beyond differences in ideas, principles, regions, races, and nationalities, to melt them into one moulded piece to cast a bell as a symbol of the wish for peace and present it to the United Nations headquarters. I want the bell to be tolled for peace.”

Starting with the coins that he collected from the member of the Assembly, he collected coins and medals from sixty countries. He spent the next three years collecting coins and eventually he was able to commission the creation of a bell. When completed the bell had the Japanese writing carved on it that said – “Long live absolute World peace .”

A hand full of sand from the atom bombed area of Hiroshima, sent by a Zen Priest, and another handful of sand from Nagasaki, sent by a Christian girl, travelled with the bell to be buried under the foundation stone of the bell.
The bell is located in the Japanese garden of the United Nations and is rung twice a year – 21st March, which is Earth Day, and 21st September, which is the International Day of Peace.

The original bell located in the UN

The Australian Peace Bell contains coins from 106 UN member countries and is a replica of the bell in the UN. The Australian bell was awarded to Cowra in 1992 for their contribution to world peace and international understanding.

A ceremony is held on World Peace Day – 3rd Tuesday in September.

I do hope we have peace in Ukraine before September!

If you are unable to read the plaque – see below

On 4th August 2014 representatives of eighteen nations rang Australia’s World Peace Bell in solemn commemoration of the outbreak of the First World War one hundred years ago.

‘They sacrificed themselves in the belief that the cause they upheld was the cause of peace’.

John Donne 1572-1631 – he was an English poet.

For Whom the Bell Tolls
by
John Donne

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Respect and honour

By 1946 over 500 Japanese had died in Australia. This number included those who died in the breakout of August 1944.

The Japanese who died in attempting to escape were buried in a plot next to the Australian War Cemetery in Cowra. 
The war ended and the RSL (Returned and Services League) of Australia would keep the Australian War Cemetery neat and tidy, and as time went on, they also kept the Japanese cemetery clean and tidy. 

 In the 1950’s the Australian government and the Japanese government became concerned about the Japanese graves.
The Japanese government in 1955 began to collect information about their dead in Australia and considered the possibility of repatriation of the dead back to Japan.
In 1959 it was decided that a Japanese official cemetery should be created and all the Japanese dead in Australia (there were Japanese buried in Darwin) be interned in one location.

In 1962 Cowra was suggested as the location for the Japanese cemetery. The people of Cowra responded in a positive way to the suggestion and the land next to the Australian War Cemetery in Cowra was chosen.
The Japanese Government was given a perpetual lease for this land by the Australian Government.

After all Japanese dead within Australia were transferred to the new cemetery it was officerly opened on the 22nd November 1964.
The design of the cemetery was the work of Shigeru Yura, a Japanese architect who taught at Melbourne University. Check the above photographs for his work.

Each August there is a ceremony held at the Japanese Cemetery – the graves are marked with a plaque that details the life of the interned – name, date of birth, date of death and any other information known about the deceased.   
In 1971 Cowra Tourism Development came up with the idea of a Japanese Garden to celebrate the link between the town and Japan. The Japanese Government agreed to support this idea because it was a way that they could show their appreciation for the respectful treatment of their dead. 

In 1979 The Cowra Japanese Garden and Cultural Centre opened, and the location of the gardens is the site of where the Japanese PoW camp was located, and where the Breakout took place.  

The garden is five hectares (12.5 acres) and is the largest Japanese garden in the southern hemisphere. It is a ‘must’ to see.

The ducks were not frightened and would walk towards us as if they knew we had food for them . . unfortunately we didn’t. 

We could walk the three kilometres or just under two miles of paths or we could walk on the grass, the garden is a strolling garden for use, not just for photographing.

Bamboo tipping tube – it fills with water and when a certain weight is reached it tips the water out. I think it is called a Shishi Odoshi or deer scarer.

Shishi Odoshi – deer scarer 

Waterfall

Lake

Just a few of the many photographs that I took during our walk. 

and of course Japanese fish in the lake.

The gardens are magnificent, and so relaxing, with places to sit and just admire the view, wherever you looked.  

and a display of bonsai plants – the above from 1987


 This was planted in 1977

We meandered through the cultural area 

The day was a beautiful day with clear blue sky and a warm sun, without being too hot, it was a perfect day for viewing the gardens. We saw a few gardeners working around the garden, they would never be out of work.  

The Cowra Japanese garden is a copy of the original garden built by the first Shogun (Tokugawa Ieyasu) who ruled in 1600.
His castle was in Edo, which in 1868 had a name change to become Tokyo. 

The Cowra Japanese garden was designed by Ken Nakajima, a Japanese garden architect, who received the Order of the Rising Sun from Emperor Hirohito in 1986 for promoting Japanese culture worldwide.
Mr Nakajima died in 2000 and his company has passed to his son.    

The garden has six elements of design – mountain, rocks, mountain waterfalls, mountain lakes, rivers turning into oceans and pine trees.

The gardens can be used for weddings, private functions, birthdays etc.

 

PoW Camp 12 – 1941 – 1947

After the fall of France, in June of 1940 Benito Mussolini of Italy declared war on Great Britain.

Benito Mussolini  – 1883 – 1945

Mussolini ordered his general in N. Africa, Marshal Rodolfo Graziani, to attack the British, which he did reluctantly in September 1940.

Marshal Rodolfo Graziani 1882-1955

The British, supported by Commonwealth troops from Australia, New Zealand and India, under British general Lt. Gen. Sir Richard O’Connor, had defeated the Italians by the third of January 1941 and captured 130,000 troops and all their equipment. The British had lost 555 dead and 1400 wounded


In all 400,000 Italian troops were sent to POW camps around the world. Australia received 18,420 and the small town of Cowra was allocated about 2000. These prisoners arrived in Cowra in October 1941.

There were 28 POW camps across Australia and Cowra was number 12.

In 1941 the camp had been created as an internment camp for civilians, but it soon became a POW camp for Italian prisoners captured during the North African campaign.
By December 1942 the camp had grown because in addition to the Italians, there were 490 Javanese sailors, 1104 Japanese POWs and 1200 Indonesian internees.
The internees were a mix of merchant navy sailors and exiled nationalists from Dutch New Guinea (which is now part of Indonesia) who had taken part in the 1926 uprising against the Dutch. The Dutch Government was concerned that the Nationalists might join the Japanese.
There were also a number of Koreans from Korea and Chinese from Taiwan because Korea had been under Japanese rule since 1910 and Taiwan had been under Japanese rule since 1895 – these non-Japanese had served with the Japanese military.

Australian War Memoria photograph of camp 12.

The relationship between the Australians and the Italians was easier than the relationship with the Japanese. The Japanese considered that being a prisoner of war was humiliating and many gave false names so as not to bring shame on their family in Japan.
The Japanese soldier carried a copy of Senjinkun, which was the military code for a Japanese soldier that he would “Never live to experience shame as a prisoner”, which is why some gave false names. The code forbids the Japanese soldier to retreat or being taken prisoner by an enemy.

This indoctrination of the Japanese soldier caused ‘festering’ within the ranks of the Japanese.

The camp itself was large at over thirty hectares (74 acres) in size.

                       Australian War Memoria photograph
as you see there were three lines of barbed wire, plus six guard towers
A guard tower –
it is not an original, but a replica of what they looked like in the 1940’s.  

In August of 1944 there was in intention to move all Japanese prisoners below the rank of Lance Corporal to another POW camp in Hay, which is in NSW.

This was the ‘spark’ that generated the breakout. 
The Japanese commander of ‘B’ compound Sergeant Major Kanazawa called a meeting of the commanders of the twenty Japanese huts and told them to inform each hut that the transfers were about to happen. He also wanted each hut to hold a ballot for or against a breakout. There where arguments on both sides for and against the breakout, but in the end, it was decided that the breakout would be that night.

It was decided that any injured or wounded prisoner could restore their honour by committing suicide before the breakout, plus those who manage to escape would not harm local civilians.

As the Japanese waited for the signal for the breakout they made weapons from cutlery, baseball bats, plus baseball mitts and blankets were made ready for scaling the barbed wire.

It was 2.00 am when the bugle sounded for the mass escape. 

Australian War memorial photograph 

The above is a picture of the bugle that signalled the beginning of the breakout. 

On the 5th August 1944, at 2.00 am the Japanese breakout began with the sound of the above bugle.

The prisoners ran with their newly made weapons shouting and screaming towards the camp gates. They threw themselves at the barbed wire while yelling Banzai (which means “Long live His Majesty the Emperor”). 

The Australians opened fire, but hundreds of Japanese escaped into the country, while others set fire to buildings within the camp.  

In all 234 Japanese were killed and 105 wounded. Five Australian died due to the breakout.

Some Japanese committed suicide or where killed by other Japanese, remember  Senjinkun “Never live to experience shame as a prisoner”.

359 Japanese escaped, some committed suicide rather than be recaptured, but all were recaptured or accounted for within ten days.

There isn’t any record of any civilian being injured or killed by the Japanese. 

The above is a map of the whole camp, and the red area is the Japanese part of the camp. The green arrows show the various directions of the breakout.

The two yellow areas were the Italian prisoners, and the blue area indicates Japanese officers, Korean and Chinese prisoners, the Indonesians and Italian fascists. 

I took the above two photographs of PoW Camp 12 today . . . just a few ruins left in a beautiful country view.

At the camp site today there is a memorial to remember the Australian solider, the Japanese baseball player, the Italian musician and the Indonesian mother and child.
The memorial was erected in 2019 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the breakout. 
The Japanese prisoners were repatriated between 1946 – 47. It is thought that many of the ex-prisoners never spoke of the war, or their time in captivity on their return to Japan.

There is more to this story, but this will have to wait for the next posting.   

Cowra

Sea cruising might not yet be allowed due to the fear of Covid but land cruising is still available.
I never get tired of driving around the Australian countryside – an open road with little traffic and a sunburned country, what more could we want?

In our latest ‘land cruise’ we managed to ‘cruise’ 1,800 km (1,120 miles) in the seven days.

Our destination was Cowra, which was to be our main base. The original name of the settlement was Coura Rocks, because this was the name of one of the first cattle farms. The name ‘Cowra’ is an Aboriginal name for ‘Eagle on the Rocks’. 

The drive from home was about four and a half hours, but of course we did not drive continuously for that length of time.
Around three hours after leaving home we stopped at Boorowa for a picnic lunch.

Our picnic lunch was in the grounds of the Court House of Boorowa, because there were tables, seats and a clean public BBQ at a cost of ten cents.
The one thing that I have noticed when visiting small country towns is that they all advertise a free rest area, with ample parking, clean toilets, and some offer free cups of tea or coffee.

On the day we visited the Court House they had an arts & craft exhibition, with many items for sale such as jams, marmalade and local handmade items. They always have a second-hand book stall so while I browsed the books Maureen had a look around at the produce and other items.

The picnic stop was across the road from the local pub, so for those who imbibed a little too much the walk to the courthouse was not far.
The Court House is behind me, the local pub across the road – all very efficient.  

      

I had booked us in to the Vineyard Motel, which was a few minutes’ drive out of Cowra.

It was an unusual motel – because there were only six ‘apartments’, but each apartment had a front door and a back door.
In the morning we would open the east facing door and watch the sunrise.

sunrise 01 Still photographs fail to grasp the whole sequence of the sun rising and the dramatic change of colours across the sky.

sunrise 02

In the evening we would stand outside the west door of our apartment and watch the sunset.
Outside of each of the doors there were chairs and a small table for drinks as we watched a magnificent free show – Hollywood eat your heart out, nature always wins.

sunseting

Sun setting over the vineyards.

room2

Our accommodation was a good size with a double bed and a single bed as well as the table & chairs.

room 01

In addition we had a large bathroom and a small kitchen with all the amenities that we required. The nightly rate included breakfast.

The motel was surround by vineyards and the local wines were available to purchase in your room. Very convenient.

The neighbouring vineyard also had alpacas, but the one I manage to photograph had recently been shorn.

  alpaca

This alpaca shared the field with sheep – but this fellow did not like having his photo taken – he kept turning away, perhaps he was shy without his coat.

drink view

At the top of the shadows a dark green vegetation can be seen – this is one of the local vineyards.  

There is an unusual bell in Cowra called the Peace Bell, it is unusual because it is the only Peace Bell in the World not located in a city.

The population of Cowra is around 10,000 citizens. 

The reason for the Peace Bell will become obvious in the next blog.

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