Is there a book inside all of us?

Many of us have a book inside that we would like to write if we just knew how – I am not talking about putting pen to paper, but to construct a story that others would wish to read. For years I wanted to write and would throw away my attempts, because I was not sure if my efforts were good enough to be read by others.

I attended a writer’s class, which was organised by my local council, and Nick Bleszynski the Scottish author of Shoot Straight, You Bastards! took the classes.
The classes consisted of a mix of people from teenagers to let’s just say retired hopefuls. Nick was kind but firm in his judgment.  

Over the following years years I had finally completed a story that I thought might just be of interest to a reader, but how to find an unbiased reader – after all my family and my friends would not like to be too critical and any enthusiastic response would be very nice, but not particularly helpful.

I needed an unbiased person who would read and comment honestly, however hurtful. I researched and researched and realised I need an ‘assessor’ to advise me and to be honest about my ability to write a good story, after all writing is a branch of the entertainment industry and fiction has to be entertaining if you wish to keep the reader’s attention so that he or she will keep turning the pages.

Thanks to the internet I was able to research a number of assessors before deciding on Tom Flood of  Flood Manuscripts.

In 1990 Mr Flood’s novel Oceana Fine won the  Miles Franklin Award , which is Australia’s most prestigious literature prize. The prize is awarded each year for a novel of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in many of its phases.
I checked the list of authors who have also won this award – very impressive.

I never did meet Mr Flood during all the time we corresponded via e-mails. His business address was a three-hour train ride from my home so I stuck to e-mailing.

My original manuscript was over 160,000 words and with Tom’s guidance I managed to reduce it to around 120,000 words, which was still high for an unknown author.

Once I’d received the report from Flood Manuscript that in their opinion I could write, I started searching for an editor, and I wanted a female editor so to have input about the story from the opposite sex.

In today’s ‘enlightened age’ I suppose I was being politically incorrect by choosing an editor by their sex, rather than by their qualifications, but I was sure that I could find the right editor who just happened to have both qualifications. The other small detail was that I was paying!

It took me some time to find the ‘right’ person, because I’d never spoken to or had any dealings with an editor of either sex.

Eventually I found Louise Wareham Leonard, a writer who was born in New Zealand, moved to New York with her parents at the age of twelve, attended the United Nations International School and then Colombia. She has BA in Comparative Literature and Society.


Her first book Since you asked won the James Jones Literary Award.

Once again all correspondence was via e-mail because ‘my’ editor lived in Western Australia and I live in NSW. The tyranny of distance was not a problem and we soon built a rapport and the manuscript was pulled apart, tweaked and rebuilt. Of course all this takes time.

I like facts and figures so I collated some facts and figures about trying to get a book published.

After months of research and many more months of writing I had completed my historical novel, called Ice King , all I required now was a publisher or agent who might be interested in my work.

Ice King is a trans- Atlantic centred story set between 1804 to 1807. The story takes place mainly between Liverpool in England, and Boston in the US, so I had my doubts of any interest in this type of story from an Australian publisher or agent, I was correct – unfortunately.

I sent out thirty five proposals, which generated a 45.7% response – all negative, I am sorry to say.

UK – twenty two companies approached – nine answered – all nine sent personal e-mails – which were polite, but they were all rejections.
Of the thirteen that failed to reply, three sent auto replies that they had received the submission. The other ten failed to reply to the initial approach.

I was heartened by the fact that Richard Adams was rejected twenty six time by British publishers for

USA – Ten companies approached – six answered – all six sent personal e-mails – polite, but they were rejections.
Of the four that failed to reply, one sent an auto reply, one asked for additional sample chapter & didn’t communicate further, the others didn’t acknowledge the initial submission.

Stephen King’s ‘Carrie’ was rejected thirty times by American publishers.

I only approached agents and publishers who were interested in new authors or  specialised in historical fiction. I didn’t wish to waste the time of a publishers or agent who focused on westerns, crime, horror, or fantasy books etc.

I was in good company  Margaret Mitchell was rejected thirty eight times – I don’t consider myself to be as good as this author, but her number of rejections gave me hope.

Australia – three companies approached – one answered – my work was rejected.
Of the other two, one asked for a synopsis & two chapters, which were sent. The agent didn’t communicate further. The other failed to reply to the initial approach.

Mathew Reilly was turned down by every publishing house in Australia before self publishing. 
His book was picked up, after he self published, by an Australian publisher and republished under the publishing house imprint. He is now in great demand with twenty three books and numerous short stories to his name.

I decided to self-publish. I hired an American company (thanks to the internet again) to format the manuscript so that I would be able to give a computer file to any book printer, and they would be able to produce a paperback edition of the book.

At the same time, I had a web site created, Geoff Woodland, which included the front cover in an effort to market the book. My problem was that the sales of the book were of more interest to British and American readers than Australian readers. The postage charges from Australia killed the European and American sales, so I opened an account with Lightning Source of the US & UK for print on demand, and this worked reasonably well, but I was not selling as many copies as I’d hoped, which I put it down to price, because I had to include local US or UK postage.
Lightning Source issued a monthly catalogue of all their available books to booksellers. To be included in the catalogue there was a cost to the author, but competition between hundreds of authors for recognition swamped many small book sellers, and large booksellers only stocked popular selling books of well-known authors. An author not living in the UK or US was at a definite disadvantage.

I looked around for an outlet that would allow me to sell Ice King at a cost that was not too expensive. I found e-books! Amazon & Smashwords would be my salvation. I had the Ice King Word file created in to a mobi file to upload to Amazon. I also uploaded to Smashwords, which was easier, because Smashwords had a program to auto convert Word to their own system.

Ice King became an e-book and sales picked up. Flattering reviews started to appear and I had a feeling that it had all be worthwhile – or had it?

A few months after the release of the e-book version it was picked up by a UK publisher, and they wanted to republish under their own imprint.

I was over the moon! A real publisher, who had been in business for over one hundred and fifty years, wanted to publish Ice King.

I was offered a contract, and with this under my belt I felt sure I would be able to secure an agent.  . . . . . .

China Coast memories of a 19 year old.

To read too many books is harmful’ according to Mau Tse-Tung.

Yokohama, in Tokyo Bay, was our first port of call of our Japanese coastal trip. If I thought Singapore and Hong Kong were foreign, Yokohama was really ‘foreign’ The people were different from Chinese, very friendly, but different. Fortunately at that time the exchange rate for a British pound note was 1060 Japanese yen. The current exchange rate is 172 yen for a British pound. How the mighty have fallen.
At least this time we were alongside, and we didn’t have to worry about shore boats, just taxis getting in to & out of the dock area so that we didn’t have to walk too far. We were alongside for three days, and the evenings were spent in the town, but as time passed, I realised that even at the fabulous exchange rate I was running out of money. My weekly wage was about £5.00 a week and a taxi to / from the city was expensive. I didn’t see much of Yokohama city except in the evening when it was dark. Being October the sunset came early.
At 3.30 am on the third night we were called for departure stations. We manoeuvred off the wharf to the outer harbour around 6.00 am, and as the pilot climbed down into the pilot boat I looked back at Yokohama and saw the sun shining on Mount Fuji.
When I was in Japan, they told me that if you see Mt Fuji on leaving, you would return.
Each voyage I used to look for the mountain and I was able to see it, until on my last voyage when I couldn’t, because we sailed at night.
I didn’t return to Japan again until the late 1980’s. This time I arrived by plane, because I was working for another company, and no longer at sea.

IMG_27922a

The short trip to Kobe saw us off the wharf the following day. It was a very short visit because within hours we had left and moved across the bay to Osaka.

I had a very unusual experience on my first run ashore in Kobe. As we left the ship my friend asked about the railway station, and I pointed out the street and where we would turn right and then left for the station.
I’d never been to Kobe and hadn’t seen a map of the city, so I do not have any idea how I knew the directions, but I knew I was correct.
We followed my directions, and they were correct. I must admit it left me with a very funny feeling. Sannomiya was the name of the station, but I didn’t know the name when I gave the directions.

Kobe_Port_TowerThe Kobe Port Tower had just been finished, but I don’t think it was open to the public. At 108 mtrs it looked huge to us at the time.

Kobe Tower at night.

After loading in Kobe, we sailed through the Inland Sea to the open waters of the Yellow Sea off the coast of China, our next port was Tientsin (now Tienjin).

This was my first visit to Communist China, and I had been warned about what we could take into the country, and to be very aware of the sensitivity of trading with the Chinese.

blue_antsAt the time I had just finished reading a novel called The Blue Ants by Bernard Newman, which was about a war that breaks out between China and Russia. In the novel the Chinese army is supplied by millions of people carry the supplies on their head. The standard dress for everyone at that time in China was blue shirt and blue trousers – everyone wore the same, hence from the air they looked like blue ants. The book was banned in China, and I was warned that I could get in to trouble if the book was found in my cabin. I am sorry to say that I threw the book overboard as we approached the pilot boat. Even though I’d finished the book, I intended to buy a fresh copy to keep, but I have never seen it since.
I cannot pass a second-hand bookshop without going in for a browse, but not just for The Blue Ants. :-o)

My first impression of China was not a happy one – an armed guard at the top of the gangway and another at the bottom. The dockside labour would not speak to us unless it was via the foreman (political officer??). As part of our crew,we had Hong Kong Chinese – the carpenter, the ‘donkey men’, who were engine room fitters, and one or two others. None of them spoke to the shore labour and the shore labour made sure that they were never in contact with these ‘gweilo’ (foreign devil) Chinese.

The one thing that I noticed when visiting Shanghai later in the trip, was the lack of seagulls and domestic cats. I often thought that perhaps the local population had eaten them, because many of the people looked hungry.

Before sailing from Tientsin I was instructed to take the draft reading. To do this I had to be given special permission to pass the armed guard at the top of the gangway, and on stepping ashore on to the wharf an armed guard accompanied me to the bow and stern as I read off the draft. We did not go ashore for any entertainment – entertainment was banned. Loudspeakers on the wharf blared out Chinese propaganda twenty-four hours a day exhorting the labour to work hard. I wouldn’t have minded if the exhortations had been accompanied by music, at least I could have slept through the music, but the constant shouting did cause us to lose sleep. At least the shouting was in Chinese (Mandarin) so there was little chance of us being distracted or ‘converted’.

We were not sorry to see the back of Tientsin as we sailed for Tsingtao. The city of Tsingtoe was different, it was a naval base, and the locals were very twitchy.

Once again armed guards boarded us, along with the pilot, and watched our every move. We passed a Chinese submarine moored to a buoy, and the guards became quite agitated as we used binoculars to scan the sub, more out of interest than spying. After all we could see that it was an old diesel sub, circa WW2, and it was showing a lot of rust. Once the guards saw what we were looking at they became very ‘upset’ waving their rifles etc so we quickly looked the other way.

They authorities went through the ship in detail checking every cabin and the crew’s quarters. I was glad that I had got rid of ‘The Blue Ants,’ the local guards appeared to be a little unstable.

During our time in Tsingtao, an army officer came on board and asked me if I could read English. I told him that I could, at which point he presented me with several books, in English. They were all propaganda books, and one was a red book containing the sayings of Chairman Mao. I still have three of these books. I wonder if the silver fish found them as unappetising as I did, when I tried to read them at the time.

Two Different Lines on the Question of War and Peace – a 38-page tome.

One 2

On the Question of Stalin – a thin book of 23 pages, obviously the question was quite short.

One

People of the World Unite etc see title – which is quite thick at 208 pages

One 3

Once again it was guards on the gangway, and we were not allowed ashore except to read the draft. This was another port to be crossed off my bucket list.

Next stop Shanghai. What a city to spark the imagination, from the early days of the 1800’s to recent times. Shanghai conjured thoughts of romance, white Russian émigrés, Charlie Chan types, and all the excitement of the East.

We were allowed ashore! But we could only visit the Friendship store and the old Shanghai Club, locally known as the ‘British Club’, now (in 1963) called the Seaman’s Club, which used to have the longest bar in the world.

Noel

Noel Coward is supposed to have placed his cheek on the bar, squinted along it, and said that he could see the curvature of the Earth. There isn’t a record of how much he’d had that evening.

The Friendship store sold Chinese goods, but only to foreigners. The local Chinese where not allowed to shop in the store.

As I, and another cadet, stepped out of the dock area, a trishaw driver offered his services to take us to the Friendship Store at a rate that we couldn’t refuse. The trip was not far, and as we stepped down, we offered the fare, which he refused and said that he would wait for us. After a little arguing with him in broken English (Chinglish?) we agreed that he could wait, and we entered the multi-storey shop.

The store contained many items of carved wood, from huge wardrobes to tiny figures pulling rickshaws. Much of the furniture was covered in dust showing us that business was not all that good. I did buy two decent size Chinese jars of pickled ginger.

They were to be a present for my mother, who loved pickled ginger.

Ginger

After about half an hour we had our fill of ‘shopping’ and left the store to be greeted by our friendly driver. 

Next stop was the Shanghai Club, come British Club, come Seaman’s Club – we used the British Club title, and the driver knew exactly where we wanted to be taken. Even though the Government had renamed the building, everyone referred to it as the British Club.

The above building, which used to to be the Seaman’s Club is now the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

An old photograph of the Bund Shanghai – the heart of Shanghai.

The trip along the Bund was bumpy as we crisscrossed the tramlines and bounced over the cobbled stones, but who cared it was the Shanghai Bund!

Once again, our driver told us that he would wait.

On entering we came face to face with a large statue of Chairman Mao, with his right hand held out in greeting and the words ‘Workers of the world unite’ carved at the foot of the statue.

mao

The picture shows the idea of the stance of an eight-to nine foot-tall-statue of Chairman Mao in the foyer of the British Club. (Seaman’s Club).

After passing the Chairman we found the world-famous bar. Highly polished dark wood that one would expect from this type of British Club – all old-world charm, three bladed fans on long stalks hanging from the ceiling added that little bit of yesteryear; but not quite old world. The Chinese had cut the length of the bar in half, and created a dining room, after one walked past the beginning of the world-famous bar.

Long barr

The above picture was taken in 1912, and fifty year later it hadn’t changed much at all.

To jump ahead a few months –

I returned to Shanghai and the British Club some months later, but this time on a different ship. Once again, I went ashore with a colleague for a drink or two.

We had our drinks and something to eat, and as it was getting late, we decided to return to the ship. In the alcohol half of the Long Bar there was a group of Scandinavian seamen who were a little worse for drink, and they were very noisy.

As we moved out of the bar to the foyer, I saw that one of the drunken seamen had climbed Mao’s statue and was trying to hang a small American flag from the Chairman’s little finger of his right hand. The statue appeared to be extremely heavy, so there was little chance of it toppling over, even with the extra weight of the seaman.

We took one look at the scene and made a beeline for the exit door. The last thing we wanted was to be involved with the start of WW3. As we left the building police cars arrived, and a great deal of shouting began. We managed to climb into our trishaw during the confusion, and make our ‘escape’.

Returning to my first trip –

We had a strict curfew and had to be back on board by 11.00 pm – the curfew was enforced by the Chinese authorities, not by our Captain. On leaving the British / Seaman’s Club our personal trishaw was still waiting. The driver (it was a bicycle style rickshaw) was dozing on his haunches near his trishaw and jumped up to make sure that we did not use a different trishaw.

On reaching the dock gates, with armed guards patrolling the gated area, we climbed down from the trishaw and paid the driver, giving him a good tip. He handed the tip back to us shaking his head and looking sideways at the guards. We then offered a couple of packs of British cigarettes (Rothmans) to show our appreciation (his fee for the night was so low we couldn’t see how he could possibly survive without tips) – the packs were refused; he bowed low and climbed on to his trishaw, his eyes constantly checking the movement of the guards who had been watching us since our arrival. It was obvious that one worker could not earn any more than the soldiers, and he was not going to take a chance of being arrested, or causing any trouble for himself. The best we could do was to smile, thank him again, and wave him good night as we carried our ‘friendship store’ purchases through the gates towards our ship.

Our next port of call was to be Hong Kong, where we knew our tips would not be refused.

 

Be careful about what you wish for . . .

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;

Landaura – 9,750 dwt

Launched in 1946 and was named after a very small village in Chandigarh in northern India.

As much as I enjoyed my leave, I found that I had changed, whereas my Birkenhead friends had not, other than growing a little older. I had been given eight weeks leave, my friends worked during the day and our friendship had cooled because we no longer had anything in common.
Other than playing rugby for HMS Conway I was never a sports fan, TV was limited and I was bored so half way through my leave I rang the company for a ship.
I was hoping for a Calcutta to Australia & New Zealand run, anything but the Persian  Gulf. I’d seen enough sand to last a lifetime.

and let’s not mention loading oil in Kuwait.

The Company agreed to my request for a ship and a day or so later I was on a plane for Kuwait. As ‘they’ say be careful about what you wish for . . .

I left Heathrow in a Comet 4 for Rome, next stop should have been Damascus, but we were diverted to Beirut, and finally we arrived in Kuwait.
On landing I was met in the arrival hall by a representative of the shipping agent and within minutes I had my bag and was through customs and immigration, while many other passengers were still queuing.
Outside I was escorted to a very large American car; (see similar cars in the picture below) the driver opened the rear door and indicated that I should sit in the back. The agent shook my hand and wished me a safe journey, which at the time I thought was a strange comment. After all we were only going to a city hotel.
The driver smiled at me, via the rear-view mirror, and put his foot down on the accelerator. Now I understood the agent’s comment, within minutes we were travelling at over one hundred miles an hour along a freeway to the city. At that time cars did not have seatbelts. I just hung on to the roof strap. Thirty minutes later we pulled up at the Bristol Hotel in a cloud of dust and sand. I was to wait in this hotel until my ship arrived into Kuwait.

It was mid-July and I only ventured out of the hotel in the early morning or late afternoon – it was the height of summer, and it was HOT & dusty. The hotel was ‘dry’ i.e they were not allowed to sell alcohol, so one couldn’t have a cold beer in the cool of the evening. I sent the above post card to my parents to let them know that all was well.
After about five days I received a phone call from the agent to let me know that I would be collected and taken to my new ship in the early afternoon, she was the Landuara.
What a difference between this vessel and the tanker. The tanker was just over two years old, and my latest posting was to a vessel that had been launched in 1946, two years after I had been born. Her deadweight was 7200 tons. She didn’t have any air-conditioning, cadets slept two to a cabin, and the cabins were not at all large, in fact the shared cabin was smaller than the single cabins on the tanker.

Landaura tramped from the Persian Gulf to China and Japan. She was old and unlike the Ellenga, Landuara did not have air conditioning and in the heat of August anchored off Basrah in Iraq, we did not have a choice but to sleep on deck. A large wet towel on the wooden deck and another wet towel to cover you in the hope that you would fall asleep before the towel dried out  . . I have paid for this in later life with aches and pains, but at 19 you were tough and you would live for ever.

Our first port of call, after leaving Kuwait, was Basra, about 60 miles (100 km) up the Shatt al Arab. Many people refer to it as the Shatt al Arab River, but the Arabic meaning is Stream or River of the Arabs, so by putting river at the end we have Stream or River of the Arabs River, which is a bit of a mouthful.

In the evenings if we were moored in the river we would sit outside our accommodation and eat watermelon and hold pip-spiting contests across the river – we never reached the shore.
The melons were obtained via barter. Wood in Iraq was expensive and hard to obtain. Our ship used wood as dunnage when stowing cargo during loading cargo (well before containerisation), because it was inexpensive or a waste material from another process.
After we had unloaded cargo, we would always have plenty of dunnage left over, and we either dumped it at sea (many years before the PC brigade were invented), or we would reuse some of the dunnage for the next time we loaded cargo.
Our old dunnage had value to the local Arabs, so we would swap some for huge watermelons that grew along the banks – we were happy and the local Iraqi boatmen were happy.
After completing our unloading and the loading of export cargo (dates), we dropped down the river to Khoramshah, which is on the Iranian river bank, so we had to remember to refer to the Shatt al Arab as the Arvand Rud (Swift river), which is the Persian (Iranian) name for the river.

In Khoramshah instead of watermelon we swapped dunnage for pistachio nuts; we didn’t spit, but flicked the shells across the water. Iran, being the largest producer of this nut ensured we had a regular supply.

Eventually we left the Shatt al Arab / Arvand Rud and sailed for Bombay.

For all my moans of lack of air-conditioning Landaura was a happy ship and I enjoyed my time in her, but after four months I paid off in Hong Kong and the company sent me as a passenger in the P & O liner ‘Cathay‘ to Yokohama, Japan.

The ‘Cathay‘ arrived in Yokohama on the 23 November 1963. We were scheduled to arrive around 8.00 am and we had been told to expect brass bands and Japanese traditional dancers to welcome us as the ship moved slowly alongside the Yokohama pier.

I went to the main dining room around 7.00 am for breakfast and found many of the passengers in tears. I asked what had happened and was told of the assassination of President Kennedy. He had been shot about 3.00 am on the 23rd November Japanese time.

The welcome bands and the traditional dancers had been cancelled and a single Japanese lady in traditional dress stood at the bottom of the gangway to greet those who were disembarking. This lady pinned a man-made small cherry blossom badge to my jacket and wished me welcome to Japan.

It was an odd feeling to be in Japan at such a time and not knowing if the assassination was the first move in a new war. The Cuban crisis was just over a year earlier when the US & the USSR had a stand-off to see who would blink first. Was the assassination of President Kennedy the first move of a new conflict?
The Company’s agent met me and took me to where my new ship was berthed. 

Chanda – Launched in 1944, 6,957 gt – she was the same age as me . .
named after a town in the Gondwana area of India.

Our first destination after we left the Japanese coast was China where we
visited Shanghai, Tientsin and Tsingtao, which was a memorable experience for this nineteen-year-old. (The next post will have details of my China experiences). 

I was not sorry to leave the China coast as we sailed for Hong Kong with all its love of life.  I sailed in Chanda for just under eight happy months trading between Japan, China and all ports to the Persian Gulf.

In late June 1964 I was once again paid off, but this time in Karachi in Pakistan to await a homeward bound ship, the Chakdara. I had been away from home for just over a year and was again due leave.
In Karachi I stayed in the Beach Luxury Hotel for sixteen days while waiting for my next ship. The hotel was very pleasant but as a lowly cadet my wages did not go all that far when I wanted a beer or two. The Company paid for the hotel and all meals, but all ancillary costs were on my account and at my wage of about AUD $15 a week there was little chance of drinking too much.

Baggage sticker from the 1960’s

Beach Luxury Hotel 1965

 

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.

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