In January 1966 my family arrived in Australia. I was just eight years old. This YouTube video of Castel Felice, the ship that brought us here reminds me of what an important event in my life that was.
I will always think of England as the land of my birth but I know that I’m an Aussie now because when I was asked a few years ago whether I would be barracking for England or Australia to win the Ashes (cricket) Test series I said “Australia” without even stopping to think about it.
That month sailing to Australia from England gave me a lifelong interest in travel and if we hadn’t come nothing in my life would be the same. So thanks Australia and thanks Mum.
Yesterday I heard that Australia Post had conducted an online survey to see whether people would prefer getting deliveries 3 days a week or paying $30 a year for the privilege of getting their mail 5 days a week.I would be interested to know if those were the only two choices given as I would not want to answer yes to either of them. On the same day Hubby told me that our local post office operator was meeting with the State Premier to discuss the possible effects on owner operated licensed post offices if the Federal Government were to sell Australia Post. Obviously she has some concerns about her business.
I feel as if we are going backwards in some ways. When I was a child the postie came six days a week, Hubby can remember when there were two deliveries a day on weekdays plus one on Saturday morning. We would always know when the postie was coming as you would hear him blow his whistle as he dropped the mail at each house in the street. In those days many posties still rode a bicycle although the motorbike was already becoming the norm in the suburb where I lived. Australia Post was still the GPO then and along with the letters, cards, postcards, mail order catalogues and parcels there were also telegrams. Hubby’s first job was delivering telegrams on a bicycle. I can’t imagine that Hubby was the speediest thing on two wheels even in the 1970s but he assures me that telegrams for people living more than 3km from the post office were delivered by employees on motorcycles. Getting a telegram was an event but not always a good one. It might be news that someone had died, that someone was arriving unexpectedly or the one you always hoped for, the one that would tell you that you had won the lottery. If you were celebrating your golden wedding anniversary or 100th birthday you might get a telegram from the Queen and reading congratulatory telegrams at a wedding was still one of the best man’s more risky tasks as they were often full of double entendres.
The “Postie Bike” is such a familiar part of our landscape that they have become collectible, people buy them from Australia Post auctions, do them up, race them, modify them and tour on them. There was a club for collectors which no longer seems to be active but the website does have the technical specs for the bikes and links to other sites.
Saturday deliveries and the whistle disappeared a long time ago. Apparently all that whistling disturbed people and of course paying posties time and a half on Saturdays just wasn’t on. Telegrams are gone now too so we can no longer ask who will send the Queen a telegram should she live to be 100 like her mother did. It’s certainly true that we don’t write or receive letters and cards as much any more but with online shopping becoming so popular parcel post is booming.
Post Offices have changed too. Many of the grand old buildings have been sold and are now cafe’s, restaurants and tourist information centres while the post office is a more functional modern building more often than not located in a shopping mall. They provide many other services, bill paying, banking, enrolling to vote and applying for a passport are all things you can do at the post office. I used to sometimes use a post office in the Adelaide CBD which provided all of the above and also sold office supplies and other goods, the stamps you got from a vending machine outside the door! I don’t mind that so much, in a country town it’s very convenient to be able to do everything at the Post Office, especially if you are not computer literate as many of our older citizens are not. I do think it is a shame though when a grand building like the Adelaide GPO for example is modernised inside to the point where you can no longer enjoy the architectural features. Just because I’m buying stamps or paying the dog licence doesn’t mean I don’t care about the aesthetics.
I live in a rural community now and our local post office provides many of the services that we would otherwise have to travel 20 kms or more for. If we were to lose those services it would cause hardship to many local people. I realise that means little to the present government who are only interested in cost cutting but I think that would be a poor end to 205 years of postal services in Australia.
I find it hard to understand why people, including our Prime Minister, don’t take climate change seriously. It’s not just about hotter days it’s about changing trends in the weather. Extreme weather events are becoming more and more common and we ought to be taking it seriously.
The effects of climate change are not just a scientific model which may or may not happen sometime in the way off future. Climate change is in front of our eyes. As I write this, the temperature outside is 43.8 degrees, heading for a forecast of 46. This would make it the hottest day of my life and today Adelaide is the hottest city in the world. The weather, of course, is just weather and doesn’t in itself prove climate change is real. What does prove climate change is real is scientific study of the influence of carbon emissions on the world’s climate. Scientific consensus has monumentally smashed any sort of doubt by, at last count, showing only 0.01% of climate scientists questioning the validity of anthropogenic climate change as scientific fact. But, while the experts tell us climate change is happening, and while I experience for myself the…
A hot summer’s day has sent my mind back to my schooldays and in particular to my favourite teacher in Primary (Elementary) School.
His name was Mr Scott and he was my teacher in 1968, the year I turned eleven. What do I remember about Mr Scott? We children thought we were very clever because we had discovered his first name was Phillip, although I don’t know if he spelled it with one “l” or two. He was a young teacher then, probably in his early twenties and I seem to recall that he had dark, curly hair. He was different from the more traditional older teachers and popular with most of the students.That year he traded in his rather nondescript looking car for a red MG sports car. I would often see him leaving the school in it, either with one of the young lady teachers which always caused a great deal of giggling amongst the class, or with the teacher from the classroom next door, Mr Schacht. Mr Schacht was a very tall man and you can imagine how funny we thought he looked in Mr Scott’s car.
Classes were big then, we had around forty kids in our class and that was pretty much the norm but Mr Scott kept everything under control and managed to make classes fun even for me and I really didn’t like school. He did that by making us laugh and by sometimes changing the normal routine if he thought it would work better. For example if the weather was very hot he would sometimes ditch the scheduled afternoon lessons and we would spend the afternoon doing art while he read poetry to us. Sometimes we’d listen to music instead, no CD’s or digital music in those days though. Our classrooms were not air-conditioned and while we were allowed to go home early if the temperature reached a hundred on the old scale Mr Scott realised that it was just as hard to concentrate on grammar or arithmetic when it was 97 degrees outside. He would try to make the heat more bearable by reading about cool things like rain too. I still remember those hot afternoons with pleasure even after all this time.
I think that art must have been Mr Scott’s special interest. He was a very good artist. He used to draw amazing pictures in chalk on the blackboard in our classroom and would change them regularly. It wasn’t just me who thought he was good, other teachers used to get him to come and draw on their blackboards.
I know that Mr Scott was still teaching at the school the following year and possibly the year after that but I don’t know where he went after that. I sometimes wonder, he must be retired now.
When the twenty over form of cricket first made its appearance in Australia I was not over enthusiastic. I’m a relatively recent fan of cricket, only the last twelve years or so but I really prefer the longer forms of the game. T20 seemed a bit of a novelty. However it has grown to have huge importance over the past few years so I’ve moved somewhat from my position of “cricket for people with short attention spans” and embraced the entertainment side of it.
The Big Bash League (BBL) is a competition played mainly during the summer school holidays. The teams are city based and each is allowed a couple of international players in addition to local and interstate talent. This means that people get the chance to see some top overseas players on a regular basis through the series. As we don’t get a lot of international matches in Hobart it works out well for me and I try to go to as many of our team’s home games as I can. Some of the internationals who have played in the BBL in the past couple of years are Muttiah Muralitharan, Chris Gayle, Lasith Malinga, Luke Wright, Kemar Roach and Alex Hales.
For anyone who had never attended a BBL game or who thinks that cricket is a quiet game you are in for a big surprise. BBL cricket is LOUD. Channel Nine’s Michael Slater has often referred to T20 as “Rock’n’Roll Cricket” and the BBL certainly promotes that image. There is loud music blaring throughout the game, fireworks and fanfares when boundaries are hit, dancers and mascots for each team.
There are lots of (expensive) team merchandise for sale and fans are encouraged to wear their team colours to the match. Under the Southern Stand at Blundstone Arena there is a face painting booth for the kids and a place for them to make their own signs. At a rain affected game recently I saw “No Rain More ‘Canes” and on TV yesterday I saw “Sydney Thunder is worse than England” which seemed rather harsh.
Players are very accessible to the fans and happily sign autographs before, during and after the game. In his final season last summer Ricky Ponting was very much in demand and one of my favourite moments was the Perth Scorchers Brad Hogg, surrounded by purple clad Hurricanes fans signing autographs and asking them “So who are you going for today?”
I won’t pretend to be able to explain all the rules of T20, you can read them here. However, the main points for those who are not familiar with cricket are that there are two teams of 11 players, each team plays twenty 6 ball “overs” each. To keep the game moving there is a penalty if a team does not bowl its overs within 80 minutes. If a man is out his replacement must be on the field within 90 seconds. If the match is tied it is decided by a “Super Over”. So far this has only happened once in the Big Bash, at a match between the Sydney Sixers and Perth Scorchers.
I do love the enthusiasm of the crowd as they support the home team cheering every boundary shot hit and every wicket taken and I enjoy the opportunity to photograph the players. I’m too shy to speak to them but I prefer more candid photographs anyway. My camera is only a compact, a Nikon Coolpix L120 but within its and my limitations I’ve got a few photos I like.