Monday, January 31, 2011

Climbing "The Golden Stairs"

The ‘Golden Stairs’ rise towards Imita Ridge
on the Kokoda Track, photographed in
October 1942. [AWM 26837]

Peter Brune, in "A bastard of a place" (Allen and Unwin, 2003) wrote:

"In 1942, take the best of the youth of Australia and take them at their physical peak, burden them with equipment weighing anywhere between 50 and 70 pounds (22 to 31kg). Dress them in a khaki uniform designed for the desert, not the jungle,pose them to a claustrophobic environment that will test their alert minds; and send them across terrain that will exhaust the fittest of them. Feed them so sparingly that they will lose two or three stone in weight (13 to 19kg) over a period of six to eight weeks; expose them to humid sweating days and cold wet nights, blessed only with half a blanket or a groundsheet; put them in a weapon pit full of water; isolate them, by creating a situation where they can only be re-supplied by air or overtaxed Papuan carriers, and never to a degree where they can gain sufficient strength to perform at their optimum level.

These young soldiers are not naive; they know that the further they struggle forward, the further they slip away from their supplies - bullets and tucker -  and in everyman's mind the daunting thought of a wound. Will there be enough stretchers, enough carrier, to take them out, and critically, if they cannot crawl out or stagger out the price of falling into the enemies hands."

The Kokoda Track [DVA]

Prior to the outbreak of the war in PNG travellers had two ways to move from Port Moresby to the north coast across the Owen Stanley Range - fly over it or sail around it. There were no roads. The Papuans had their own trails, including the hazardous one over the Owen Stanley Range. A primitive foot track, at most three or four feet wide (about a metre wide), restricting movement in most places to single file and only scant knowledge of this track had reached the outside world through occasional reports of patrol officers, planters, miners or missionaries.

The "Golden Stairs" consisted of several thousand pieces of wood shoved into the ascent and held in place by wooden pegs. Filthy, putrid, mud constituted the rest of the 'step'. At some points the exposed roots of trees formed the 'steps', thus making them irregular. The stairs became permanently soaked and sodden because of the daily rains that saturated the jungle. Men fell, banged knees, shins and ankles on the exposed steeps, gave vent to their anger and struggle agonisingly to their feet; and orderly progress became impossible as long strings of exhausted climbers backed up down the track waiting for a chance to move forward.

Lieutenant Hugh Dalby, 39th Battalion:

"They were so steep . . . we soon had it worked out that instead trying to walk over the mountain range in sections as we started off doing, and nearly killed ourselves, the next day we set off at intervals . . . so you might be five minutes getting rid of your men. But instead of getting to the next staging place at five o'clock at night when t was dark, you'd get there at two o'clock in the afternoon 'cos you wern't hampered by this stop, start, stop, start routine."
Whether the overburdened soldiers travelled up or down, he experienced the unending aching of strained knees and a suffering back never designed to carry a heavy load over the Owen Stanley Range. After his last sporadic bursts, of desperate joint-wrenching, lung-bursting scaling of the "Golden Stairs", many a sweat-sodden campaigner reached Ioribaiwa utterly worn out, disoriented and huddled in the chill of the night nearly 3,000 feet above sea level , completely exhausted, unable to fight and only seeking to rest and recuperate for the next day of trekking the trail.

When the Japanese first landed in Papua there was much talk of "the Kokoda Pass". But there was no pass—merely a lowering of the mountain silhouette where the valley of Eora Creek cut down into the Yodd a Valley south of Kokoda . From Kokoda the track slipped easily down towards the sea for three full days of hot marching . First it passed over undulations fringed by rough foothills and covered with thick bush. It forded many streams, passed through the villages of Oivi and Gorari, went on down to the Kumusi River which, deep and wide and swift, flowed northward and then turned sharply east to reach the sea between Gona and Cape Ward Hunt.

This was the country of the fierce Orokaivas, unsmiling men with spare, hard, black bodies and smouldering eyes . They were still greatly feared by all their neighbours although it was many years since Europeans first came and forced peace upon them. They suffered at the hands of the Yodda Valley gold-seekers at the end of the nineteenth century and the severity of the magistrate Monckton at the beginning of the new century, and it was said that they had not forgiven either occasion. Their kinsmen, the coastal Orokaivas farther on, were of the same type. The track crossed the Kumusi by a bridge suspended from steel cables. The place of crossing came thus to be known as Wairopi (the "pidgin" rendering of "wire rope"). A little farther on, in the vicinity of Awala, began a network of tracks which passed over tropical lowlands through or past Sangara Mission and Popondetta into spreading swamps and thus reached the coast on which were the two little settlements of Buna and Gona—the former the administrative headquarters of the district, the latter a long-established Church of England mission. Up to July 1942 Australian military interest in this lonely coast and the even lonelier track which linked it with Port Moresby was of slow growth.

On 2nd February Major-General Rowell, then Deputy Chief of the General Staff, had signalled Major-General Morris:
Japanese in all operations have shown inclination to land some distance from ultimate objective rather than make a direct assault. This probably because of need to gain air bases as well as desire to catch defence facing wrong way. You will probably have already considered possibility of landing New Guinea mainland and advance across mountains but think it advisable to warn you of this enemy course.
Morris, with a difficult administrative situation on his hands, only meagre and ill-trained forces at his disposal and more likely military possibilities pressing him, that month sent a platoon (Lieutenant Jesser) of the Papuan Infantry Battalion to patrol the coast from Buna to the Waria River, the mouth of which was about half-way between Buna and Salamaua, and watch for signs of a Japanese approach.
On 10th March a Japanese float-plane swept over Buna about 11 a.m., bombed and machine-gunned two small mission vessels there, then settled on the water . However, it was promptly engaged with rifle fire by Lieutenant Champion,' the former Assistant Resident Magistrate, and the small group with him, who were staffing the Administration and wireless station on the shore, and it quickly took the air again. At the end of March the Combined Operations Intelligence Centre, in an assessment of the likelihood of Japanese moves to occupy the Wau-Bulolo area after the seizure of Lae and Salamaua, had suggested the possibility of a landing at Buna with a view to an overland advance on Port Moresby.
But little serious consideration seems to have been given to this suggestion.
The Japanese expedition against Port Moresby, turned back by the Allied naval forces in the Coral Sea, had underlined the need to reinforce the troops and air squadrons in New Guinea. On 14th May MacArthur wrote to Blarney that he had decided to establish airfields on the south-east coast of Papua for use against Lae, Salamaua and Rabaul, that there appeared to be suitable sites between Abau and Samarai, and he wished to know whether Blarney had troops to protect these bases. Blarney had already ordered the 14th Brigade to Port Moresby and it embarked at Townsville on the 15th. He replied, on the 16th, that he could provide the troops, and MacArthur, on the 20th, authorised the construction of an airstrip in the Abau-Mullins Harbour area . At the same time he ordered that the air force bring its squadrons at Moresby up to full strength and that American anti-aircraft troops be sent from Brisbane to the forward airfields at Townsville, Horn Island, Mareeba, Cooktown and Coen.
The 14th Brigade, with only about five months of continuous training behind it (although most of the individual men had had more than that), was thus the first substantial infantry reinforcement to reach Moresby since General Sturdee had sent two battalions there, making a total of three, on 3rd January, four months before the Coral Sea battle. When the inexperienced 14th Brigade was sent forward there were, in eastern Australia , three brigades of hardened veterans—the 18th, 21st and 25th—but unwisely none of those were chosen.

Slim Dusty - Leave Him Out There In The Long Yard

Slim Dusty,  (13 June 1927—19 September 2003) was an Australian country music singer-songwriter and icon.  Here'a bit of his music:

It's a land of sunburnt plains and of flooding rains ....

A young girl enjoys an ice block - one of hundreds of Canberrans
who flocked to Manuka Pool to escape the capital's heatwave

We have sweltered through the final days of January, with the mercury rising to 33 degrees yesterday, and 37 degrees forecast for today. The late January heatwave has capped off what has been a fairly standard month, with the daily average temperature sitting at 28.3 degrees, just 0.3 degrees above the long-term January average.But the past month has provided its fair share of scorching days, with 14 out of 31 days surpassing 30 degrees. This is above the long-term January average of 11 days higher than 30 degrees.

The hot spell in January has come in three distinct waves, with 30degree days recorded consecutively from January 15 to 17, January 21 to 26, and January 29 until yesterday. The current heatwave looks set to continue late into the week, with every day until Saturday forecast to reach above 30degrees.

Rain and cloud cover forecast from February 2 to February 5 will make the heat somewhat more bearable.

Fire officers and paramedics emerge from
the scrub with one of the women on a
stretcher near Kambah Pool yesterday.

Two women and a man were hospitalised with dehydration and heat exposure, after becoming stranded during a bushwalk near Kambah Pool yesterday. The trio, all believed to be in their mid-30s, became stuck about 5pm while attempting to walk a trail from Casuarina Sands to Kambah Pool. At the time, the temperatures were at the day's maximum of 33 degrees, and the group had used up their water supply. (Quite odd, as the Casurina-Kambah Pool track runs along the freshwater Murrumbidgee River - Obviously thet were more scared of drinking the river water than dying of dehydration!)

About 5.20pm, the man left the two women to get help. He walked 1.5km to the Kambah Pool car park and used an emergency phone to contact emergency services and two specialist Canberra firefighter rescue crews and an ambulance crew attended the scene.

They mave been better off with the throng at Manuka Pool rather than venturing into the scrub in a proclaimed high temperature alert by the Canberra Weather Bureau!


Residents face a tense wait as floodwaters spread in the south to Swan Hill, Victoria

Photographs courtesy of The Canberra Times newspaper and the Australian Broadcasting Commission.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ode to a spellchecker

Eye halve a spelling check her;
It came with my pea sea.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye kin knot sea.
Eye ran this poem threw it
Your sure reel glad two no.
Its vary polished in it's weigh,
My checker tolled me sew.

A check her is a bless sing;
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
And aides me when aye rime.

Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule;
The checker pours o'er every word
To cheque sum spelling rule.

Bee fore wee rote with checkers
Hour spelling was inn deck line,
Butt now when wee dew have a laps,
Wee are knot maid too wine.

Butt now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flare,
Their are know faults with in my cite,
Of nun eye am a wear.

Now spelling does knot phase me,
It does knot bring a tier;
My pay purrs awl due glad den
With wrapped words fare as hear.

To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should be proud;
And wee mussed dew da best wee can
Sew flaws are knot aloud.

That's why eye brake in two averse
Cuz eye dew want too please.
Sow glad eye yam that aye did bye
This soft wear four pea seas.


I have a spelling checker;
It came with my PC.
It plainly marks for my review
Mistakes I cannot see.
I ran this poem through it
You're sure real glad to know.
It's very polished in its way,
My checker told me so.

A checker is a blessing;
It frees you loads of time.
It helps me write, all styles to read,
And aids me when I rhyme.

Each phrase composed upon my screen
I trust to be a jewel;
The checker pores o'er every word
To check some spelling rule.

Before we wrote with checkers
Our spelling was in decline,
But now when we do have a lapse,
We are not made to whine.

But now because my spelling
Is checked with such great flair,
There are no faults within my sight,
Of none I am aware.

Now spelling does not faze me,
It does not bring a tear;
My papers all do gladden
With wrapped words far as near.

To write with care is quite a feat
Of which one should be proud;
And we must do the best we can
So flaws are not allowed.

That's why I break into a verse
Cause I do want to please.
So glad I am that I did buy
This software for PC's.

Walking the ley lines

Walking the ley lines

28 January, 2011 4:06PM AEDT

By Georgia Wilson

The group that spent seven weeks trekking across England had no use for car travel, public transport or even cycling. The 800 kilometers were covered by foot, walking a deeply historical and spiritual pathway.
Awakening Albion is a book that documents the experience, beginning in Cornwall and crossing the old country to East Anglia, along the ancient Michael and Mary ley lines. It features the diary entries, poems and written memories of around 20 - 30 contributors who participated in the pilgrimage. One of the walkers and editors of the book, Gerry Jacobson, told 666 Afternoon presenter Jo Laverty that the various ancient sites mapped along the way had a spiritual resonance.
"I felt it concentrated in the medieval churches... we often celebrated these places. Some of them are really musty, not very well used in modern times, the congregations have shrunk... but they resonate with the energy of centuries of people who have prayed, mourned and celebrated there. I felt it very strongly," he explained. Mr Jacobson said the walk also provided him with an opportunity to get reacquainted with his birthplace. "I just wanted to connect with the south of England where I was born and I did that very effectively. I feel that I got to know the place again, got to belong to my birthplace. So for me it was going back to my roots."

I listened to this broadcast yesterday afternoon on my way home from the dermatologist in Canberra. It is a fascinating account and if I was ten years younger I would do it myself.

Hear the program at: ABC 666 Radio

Friday, January 28, 2011

Where are they now?

I had to go to the dermatologist today to have a particularly nasty skin cancer taken out from the webbing of the fingers of my left hand. Not a great deal but when the nurse was dressing it afterwards she was told to use gelnet, a type of cotton webbing material soaked in a glycerin and Vaseline gel. I remarked that it was a long time since I had seen gelnet used and the last time I used it was to dress wounds on injured soldiers at a Repatriation (Veterans) Hospital and we used large 30 x 30cm sheets out of very large aluminium cans which we kept refrigerated. The nurse asked where this had been and I told her, I said we had guys who had arms and legs amputated (one a triple amputee from a mine explosion) a 'flail wound' that had peppered a guy with tiny pieces of shrapnel from his buttocks to his shoulders and even a couple of burns victims. She said that must have been a terrible experience!

I thought for a few seconds and told her "No! - it was an exciting time and a fun time!" She looked at me oddly so I explained that those guys had an irrepressible sense of humour, they were mischievous and practical jokers - it kept them going in terrible circumstances. I still remember the WAGS (Wives and Girlfriends) bringing in 1.5 litre bottles of coke which they had loosened the screw caps, emptied out a cupful (250mls) and replaced it with Bourbon and then screwed the caps back on. It was always a 'fun night' in the TV lounge after the Charge Sister had gone home (I reckoned she knew but was not about to interfere) drinking Bourbon and coke and joking and laughing. Some of those guys could not hold a glass to their mouth so we (the nurses) used to straw feed them their drinks. There was a primitive movie theatrette at that hospital but, strangely, it had poor disabled access so the guy who was a triple amputee (both legs, one below knee the other above knee and an arm above elbow) could not comfortably sit through a movie in a wheelchair. One of the WAGS was convinced to bring in a London Pram carriage which they put him in, wheeled him down and tipped it upright on the stair well of the theatrette so he was sitting upright and could view the move in reasonable comfort.

The nurse  laughed and said agreed that it would have been a real experience.

CRGH Multi Building, viewed from the west across Brays Bay

CRGH Showing the 'new' Emergency Department added since my days.
View is from the "10" end ward and shows the "20" end wing as well.

Three wards to a level, 110, 120, 130 and going up to the 6th level 610, 620, 630 with the Operating Rooms on the roof level (see previous image)

I wondered where some of those guys were now. I knew the whereabouts of at least two of them - the triple amputee who went on to complete an Army career as a supply NCO and the flail injury who is now an Aboriginal Rights activist and a prominent official of the Vietnam Veterans Association - but I've lost track of the rest.

In 1966 Jean Debelle was 26 and working as a
newspaper journalist for the Adelaide Advertiser
when she volunteered to work for the Red Cross
in the Vietnam War as a welfare worker with the troops.
Jean spent a year caring for wounded ANZAC troops
(from June 1966 until June 1967) in Vung Tau, Vietnam.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hopping mad at Hanging Rock Cup

BOUNDING CLEAR: A kangaroo hops down the home straight
in front of a big crowd at yesterday’s Hanging Rock Cup meeting.

Racing Victoria Limited stewards were forced to abandon yesterday’s Hanging Rock Cup meeting because of a kangaroo invasion. The traditional Australia Day meeting had attracted thousands of racegoers, but kangaroos invading the track made it impossible for RVL stewards to let the races go ahead.

The horses were in the barrier for the first event when jockeys noticed kangaroos close to the track along the back straight. The horses were backed out of the barriers and moves were made to shoo the kangaroos away. Despite the efforts of Kyneton and Hanging Rock Racing Club and RVL staff the kangaroos returned to the vicinity of the track. One kangaroo even managed to hop down the home straight.

About 2pm chief steward Peter Ryan had no choice but to abandon the meeting because there were no guarantees that the kangaroos wouldn’t jump on to the track while a race was being run.

Mallyon, who saddled up Persona Grata in the opening event, said “This is the first meeting I’ve ever seen that’s been called off because of kangaroos. There’s a cyclone fence around the place, so the kangaroos were corralled in there. They’d chase the kangaroos up one way and then they’d just bounce back the other way. It was like watching a comedy.

Kyneton and Hanging Rock Racing Club chief executive Mark Graham said the Roos usually stay behind the 1700-metre fence around the track after being encouraged out by staff on race day morning.

Graham said a crowd of more than 5000 people attended the races. “Country race meetings, kangaroos, barbecues – that’s what Australians are all about, isn’t it?”

Post script to: Giants among men brings 'hearts to soar'

27 Jan, 2011 10:30 AM

An unnamed special forces sergeant who threw a grenade that disabled a Taliban machine gun post in the same mission that led to a fellow digger being awarded the Victoria Cross was awarded Australia's second-highest medal for courage yesterday. ''Sergeant P'' whose identity and actions have been suppressed by the Defence Department is to be presented with the Star of Gallantry by the Governor-General at a date to be announced. He was the leader of a Special Operations Task Group patrol that had been flown by helicopter to Tizak, in Afghanistan's Kandahar province, on June 11 last year. The patrol had been sent to capture or kill a senior Taliban commander.

Immediately on landing, the small force was targeted by machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades from ''multiple dominating positions''. Two soldiers were wounded and the patrol was pinned down by three fortified machine gun posts. Under the cover of close air support and using small arms and machine guns, the Australians moved to within 70m of the enemy positions to launch an assault. Patrol members fought their way forward another 30m until they were stopped by ''very heavy, intense and effective fire from the enemy position''. It was at this point Corporal Roberts-Smith, VC, used the cover of a small building to engage and kill the RPG operator. He then moved forward to draw enemy fire.
 This allowed the patrol commander, Sergeant P, to throw a grenade and silence one of the Taliban machine-gun posts. Corporal Roberts-Smith then killed the surviving Taliban machine-gunners.The patrol members then cleared the village of Tizak of Taliban and subsequently caused the Taliban to withdraw from the Shah Wali Kot district.
Sergeant P is only the fourth soldier to be approved for the Star of Gallantry since it was created in 1991 to take the place of the Distinguished Service Order (and other gallantry decorations).

International Security Alerts

This is your captain speaking. We have received the following security alerts that may be appropriate to your destination.

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorised from "Tiresome" to a "Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was during the great fire of 1666.

The Scots raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's get the Bastards" They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the frontline in the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide". The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralysing the country's military capability.

It's not only the French who are on a heightened level of alert. Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout loudly and excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

The Germans also increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbour" and "Lose".

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual, and the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels .

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Americans meanwhile are carrying out pre-emptive strikes on all of their allies, just in case, and waiting for Obama to declare that the United States is no longer a Christian nation but a Muslim nation on welfare to the Chinese.

South African government is excited about joining them to see what they can steal or take over to further support their majority non-working class. They have raised their security alert from "What's in it for my group" to "What's in it for me".

New Zealand has also raised its security levels - from "baaa" to "BAAAA!". Due to continuing defence cutbacks (the air force being a squadron of spotty teenagers flying paper aeroplanes and the navy some toy boats in the Prime Minister's bath), New Zealand only has one more level of escalation, which is "I hope Australia and the United States will come and rescue us".

Australia , meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to "She'll be right, mate". Three more escalation levels remain, "Crikey!', "I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend" and "The barbie is cancelled". So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.

Have a good day and enjoy flying with us!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Australia Day 2011

Today, Wednesday 26th January is our Australia Day and a National Public Holiday.

Inspiring Australians: Simon McKeon and Jessica Watson

The new “Australian of the Year”, is businessman Simon McKeon, who urged all Australians to use their talents to get involved in charity work. The Victorian investment banker and philanthropist is involved with numerous local and global charities as well as being the chairman of the CSIRO.

He says all Australians should contribute to the not-for-profit sector - not just their money, but their time.

"The flood of need is with us all the time," he told ABC News Breakfast this morning. I'm really hoping that I can inspire as many Australians as I can just to get involved in their cause."

He said people needed to think about how they could use their own skills to make a difference in areas they are interested in.

"I don't expect anyone to be noble... but there is a cause for us all," he told ABC News Breakfast. In my case I'm lousy with my hands. I'm not a blue-collar worker. The way I've tried to help is through white-collar skills. There is a cause, there is a role for us all."

He says his message is aimed more at citizens, not governments.

"My central message, as Australian of the Year 2011, is to 22 million-odd Australians, rather than federal or state governments," he said. "And I hope one or two people listen to it."

Other honours

Young Australian of the Year Jessica Watson, who sailed solo and non-stop around the world at the age of 16, says she hopes her journey inspires others to achieve their goals.

"Two maybe three years ago, I was the last person anyone would have expected to have sailed around the world," she said. "The first time I went sailing I was terrified and yet here I am today totally humbled to be receiving this."

Equal rights campaigner Professor Ron McCallum, the first blind person to be appointed to a full professorship at an Australian university, has been named the Senior Australian of the year.

And this year's Local Hero is suicide prevention advocate Donald Ritchie, 84. He has intervened in hundreds of suicide attempts near his home overlooking Sydney's notorious cliff, The Gap, talking those at risk back from the edge.

"It gives them the chance of changing their mind," he said. But he says he is almost ready to pass the baton on to others. "I'm 84, 85 in June, so my days of jumping over fences and talking to them, and wrestling with them occasionally, those days are over," he said.

An eclectic mix of well-known faces, plus those providing services to the country behind the scenes make up the list of 441 Australians who have been honoured this year. Ian Parmenter's signature "bon appetit" sign-off became common parlance for thousands of Australians who got hooked on his five-minute cooking show, Consuming Passions.

John Angove received a nod for his accomplishments in helping raise Australia's status as one of the top 10 wine-making countries in the world, after taking over the family-run winery from his father, Thomas Angove. Thomas Angove brought cask wine to the masses, though his 15-year-old son almost thwarted the plan by telling him Australians would find it unpalatable.

ABC journalist Sally Sara, who is currently the broadcaster's Afghanistan correspondent, is among those named as members of the Order of Australia. Sara has been awarded an AM for services to journalism as a foreign correspondent and for her reporting on rural Australia. "It's a lovely surprise and a great honour," Sara said.

Fred Brophy is among the colourful characters to make the honours list, a legend in the receding world of tent boxing. The fourth-generation showman, who held his final boxing tour only last year, has been honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia.

More mainstream sports are well represented on the list, with former Wallaby Mark Loane recognised for his efforts on the rugby field, as well as his contribution as an eye surgeon in remote Indigenous communities.

Outspoken diplomat John Dauth, fashion designer Liz Davenport, former Australian Medical Association president Mukesh Haikerwal, and Sidney Myer, the entrepreneur who sparked dozens of Boxing Day sales, were also among the Australians recognised in 2011.

Happy Australia Day to you all!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Giants among men brings 'hearts to soar'

Our Australian SAS are a rare breed. They operate in complete secrecy, frequently on "Search and Destroy" missions and they are rarely publicly identified - even at home in Australia - so it is a rare occassion indeed when not one, but two of our elite SAS soldiers are not only identified by name but have their images published and details of their family are also revealed. Even more rarely are such men returned to the same field of conflict.

Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith, wife Emma and
five-month-old twins Elizabeth and Eve.
Photos: Defence


The Canberra Times
24 Jan, 2011 01:00 AM

Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith looks the very essence of the heroic Australian digger, as drawn by war artists and photographed down the years. And like 98 Victoria Cross winners before him, he also played the part. During an operation in Afghanistan one day last northern summer he drew fire away from fellow soldiers by making himself an easy shot before single-handedly silencing two Taliban machine gun posts.

The towering 32-year-old father of five-month-old twin girls and a young son was presented the Victoria Cross by Governor-General Quentin Bryce at his Special Air Service regiment's home base, Campbell Barracks in Perth yesterday. Ms Bryce pinned the medal - struck from Russian guns captured during the Crimean war - on Corporal Roberts-Smith's chest, saying it represented the finest values and traditions of military service.

''In these times of hardship and grief for many Australians, you bring our hearts to soar and you remind us of the strength and the endurance of the human spirit,'' she said. ''Thank you for what you did and for what you will continue to do.''

The investiture took place in a memorial garden before a rock bearing a plaque with the names of 47 SAS soldiers who had died. It was watched by his wife, Emma, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Chief of Defence Force Angus Houston and a host of other politicians and military brass. Present, too, were two of the 98 Australians awarded the VC since the Boer War, Keith Payne and SAS Corporal Mark Donaldson.

Ms Gillard said, ''He will always know as we know now that in the heat of battle he did not fail when mateship and duty called.''

The son of Western Australia's Corruption and Crime Commission head, Len Roberts-Smith, he was awarded the VC for actions as a patrol second-in-command with the Special Operations Task Group on ''Operation Slipper'' last June 11.

His citation reads:
''Demonstrating extreme devotion to duty and the most conspicuous gallantry in action in the face of a very determined and aggressive enemy and with total disregard for his own safety, Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith initiated an assault against an elevated fortification consisting of three enemy machine gun positions and superior numbers of heavily armed insurgents. With members of his patrol pinned down by the three enemy machine gun positions, he knowingly and willingly exposed his position in order to draw fire away from his teammates and enabled them to apply fire against the enemy. Fighting at ranges as close as 20 metres, he seized the advantage and, demonstrating extreme devotion to duty and the most conspicuous gallantry and with total disregard for his own safety, Corporal Roberts-Smith stormed two enemy machine gun positions killing both machine gun teams.

"His selfless actions in circumstances of great peril served to enable his patrol to break into the enemy's defences and to regain the initiative, thereby resulting in a tactical victory against an enemy more than three times the size of the ground force."
He won the Medal for Gallantry fighting in Afghanistan in 2006.

Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith Joins Trooper mark Donaldson VC, who was was invested by her Excellency the Governor-General of Australia at Government House, Canberra on 16 January 2009.


On 2 September 2008, during the conduct of a fighting patrol, Trooper Donaldson was travelling in a combined Afghan, US and Australian vehicle convoy that was engaged by a numerically superior, entrenched and coordinated enemy ambush. The ambush was initiated by a high volume of sustained machine gun fire coupled with the effective use of rocket propelled grenades. Such was the effect of the initiation that the combined patrol suffered numerous casualties, completely lost the initiative and became immediately suppressed. It was over two hours before the convoy was able to establish a clean break and move to an area free of enemy fire.

In the early stages of the ambush, Trooper Donaldson reacted spontaneously to regain the initiative. He moved rapidly between alternate positions of cover engaging the enemy with 66mm and 84mm anti-armour weapons as well as his M4 rifle. During an early stage of the enemy ambush, he deliberately exposed himself to enemy fire in order to draw attention to himself and thus away from wounded soldiers. This selfless act alone bought enough time for those wounded to be moved to relative safety.

As the enemy had employed the tactic of a rolling ambush, the patrol was forced to conduct numerous vehicle manoeuvres, under intense enemy fire, over a distance of approximately four kilometres to extract the convoy from the engagement area. Compounding the extraction was the fact that casualties had consumed all available space within the vehicles. Those who had not been wounded, including Trooper Donaldson, were left with no option but to run beside the vehicles throughout. During the conduct of this vehicle manoeuvre to extract the convoy from the engagement area, a severely wounded coalition force interpreter was inadvertently left behind. Of his own volition and displaying complete disregard for his own safety, Trooper Donaldson moved alone, on foot, across approximately 80 metres of exposed ground to recover the wounded interpreter. His movement, once identified by the enemy, drew intense and accurate machine gun fire from entrenched positions. Upon reaching the wounded coalition force interpreter, Trooper Donaldson picked him up and carried him back to the relative safety of the vehicles then provided immediate first aid before returning to the fight.

On subsequent occasions during the battle, Trooper Donaldson administered medical care to other wounded soldiers, whilst continually engaging the enemy.

Trooper Donaldson’s acts of exceptional gallantry in the face of accurate and sustained enemy fire ultimately saved the life of a coalition force interpreter and ensured the safety of the other members of the combined Afghan, US and Australian force. Trooper Donaldson’s actions on this day displayed exceptional courage in circumstances of great peril. His actions are of the highest accord and are in keeping with the finest traditions of the Special Operations Command, the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.
A rare breed, Trooper Donaldson has since served a subsequent tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

On the road again!

Gotta get out of this place - heading away with Rhonda and the grandsons for a few days - try to teach them how to fish!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Queensland Floods

Precious earthmoving equipment needed for the flood clean up:


Absolutely buggered- (Aussie for "Useless")

$AUS54,733,396 has been donated to the Flood Relief Appeal so far. The Google Flood Map shows the size, extent and towns effected. An area in size equal to 20% of Australia has been flooded in Queensland.

View here the slideshow of South East Queensland 'Flash' Flooding Numerous people have been killed by floodwaters that swept through Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley, west of Brisbane.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Meeting with 'Neen

As I promised in my survey results, I made contact with my dear friend, 'Neen and met her in Canberra for lunch yesterday! It was most enjoyable and was a delight that she spared an hour and a half of her working time - she works for ATO, Australian equivalent of Taxation Office, or, Inland Revenue) so I have no regrets about getting an additional refund from her bosses (the Australian government).

We found a nice licensed restaurant, Ardèche close to Canberra Theatre and Canberra Centre and Casino Canberra. Established since 1998 Ardèche delivers one of the best value for money dinning experiences with a la carte- lunch special– Fixed priced Menu Specialising in French and North African cuisine. We enjoyed a 'full' glass of Margaret River Riesling - I told the waitress I did not want a 150ml 'restaurant pour' and I expected a full 300ml luncheon glass of wine, please.  She sent over the manager/owner to pour the wine. We paid for the extra but I just simply hate these modern day 'bar and restaurant pours'. If I am going to have a glass of wine with lunch i want to enjoy it.'

Ardèche's French cuisine is very much in the Normandy-style cuisine. Awarded an honourable mention in the 2005 NSW Restaurant and Catering Awards, Ardèche's positive reputation has been built on serving classics such as pan-fried snails in garlic, butter and white wine served in a mille feuille; coq au vin; crepes suzette and of course the traditional canard a l'orange: twice-roasted duck in orange sauce.

 'Neen enjoyed the Crêpe Normande Aux Fruits De Mer: Selection of fresh seafood (calamari, crab, mussels, scallops & fish) in a mornay sauce, folded in a herb Crêpe w/fresh mixed salad and found the 'Entree' size adequate for lunch. Similarly, I had an 'Entree' sized dish of Crevettes Provençale : Ocean fresh prawns flash fried in a steel pot, garlic & herbs, served with fresh dipping bread. The Parmesan and herb-honey bread was a delightful accompaniment.

I did take some photos of the Canberra Centre, unfortunately they got lost in the data transfer. I was using an older Nikon pocket camera and I think the card reader lacked compatibility with the camera.

The other down-side was that I am now almost completely unfamiliar with the newer buildings in the CBD and lost my car in the car park for half an hour - before I realised I was in the wrong 'twin' of two car park high rises!  Oh well, and extra dollar charge for time taken to find it! LOL!

Stopped at Belconnen Markets on the way home and secured a lovely locally made blood sausage for the weekend breakfasts and also 2kg of Narooma school prawns - the really small, sweet variety, for $11/kg - a real bargain as most Canberrans do not like the small prawn and believe that 'bigger is better!

Heyyy1 I'm not going to tell them otherwise!  So, a  feed of prawns and fresh bread rolls for dinner tonight!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lucilia sp, subfamily Calliphorinae II

I was asked what happened to the old man with the maggot-infested wounds?  In truth, I do not know. I was 2 weeks into my 4 week tour when he was brought in (dumped at the door) and I left while he was still in good care.

I know he had a surgical consult with a view to 'over-sewing' the wound but his injury was considered too advanced for this option. We spent the next two weeks packing the sinusues  with gauze and mostening them with a light Milton solution and administering antibiotics and IV fluids.

He was a very old man, in a very poor state of well-being, with no family to care for him. It is likely he died during his hospitalisation.

In South-east Asia, particularly Vietnan, Laos and Cambodia, the rural indigenous population avoid hospitals. It takes something beyond their coping means to bring someone into a hospital - and then the whole family moves in and camps around the patients bedside. They cook their own food on their little stoves, sleep on mats, do their own washing and even bring in their animals - we had chickens and goats in the courtyard, even a pig on one occassion that was left as payment for the care given. When the VC rocketed Vung Tau many civilians were severely injured. I am told that the previosuly almost empty French Hospital  (I was not there at that time) became over-crowded like a train station in peak hours immediately after the attack as families brought in their injured and moved in with the injured family member if they were admitted.

ps - It was called the French Hospital as it had been constructed by the French during their colonisation of Vietnam. It was a series of wood structures, rectangular large open wards with wide covered verandahs on both sides, with four buildings forming a quadrangle that opened on to a garden courtyard. It was supported by a further two buildings - one an operating suite and the other combined as an administration, stores area, laundry and kitchen.

We lived in private quarters in the town which were arranged in advance for us. They were very nice and we were treated like honoured guests.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Day Dreaming II

I also don't usually do these kind of questionnaires but following John Gray's brave responses, I thought I would give it a go!

Here are my answers to the questions:

1. A book you've read that changed your views on something.
Barnes Wallis, A Biography.” By J. E. Morpurgo, - Sir Barnes Neville Wallis, CBE,FRS, RDI, FRAeS (26 September 1887 – 30 October 1979), English scientist, engineer and inventor. He is best known for inventing the bouncing bomb used by the RAF to attack the dams of the Ruhr Valley during World War II. Unfortunately he is not remembered for his most brilliant invention – the Geodesic airframe that became the prototype airframe for all modern aircraft, geometrically constructed of aluminium ribs that allowed aluminium sheet metal to be riveted to it, providing a light airframe that increased the carrying capacity and range of large aircraft.

After reading this biography I changed my mind on life and decided to get an education.

2) Your views on gay marriage.
Live and let live! I am also supportive because I do not believe in discrimination by race or gender.

3) What do you think of religion?
If it works for you – fair enough – but don’t try ramming it down my throat. I’ve experienced too many hypocrites who professed to be “religious”.

4) What do you think of politics?
Voting merely encourages them! I rather liked C. Northcote Parkinson's (Parkinson's Law, 1958) solution to the method of choosing a prime minister. Worth reading!

5) Your views on drugs and alcohol.
I also drink and enjoy a drink, but, as a health professional, I have also experienced the effects of abusing this substance in too many instances.

As for drugs...I have some experience.... toyed with Marijuana in the early sixties – “The Freedom Generation” and used amphetamines (prescribed) to stay awake and alert/functioning over many days in critical situations – don’t recommend it ‘tho!

Cocaine, Ice and heroin should be free - leave it out in baskests on street corners and provide injecting rooms. Just make sure those baskets are high enough off the ground so that 'innocents' don't mis-experience them!  We will soon have no illicit drug problems as the users will kill themselves off!

6) Something people seem to compliment you the most on:
My ‘Depth of knowledge’. As a child I was a voracious reader. I read all the books in the children’s section of the Municipal library in a year and was afforded ‘honorary admission’ to the adult section where I tore through the non-fiction section – National Geographic’s, The Bulletins, American Post, Encyclopedia, Dictionaries. I could read a 600 page novel in a week. I also appreciated the classic authors – Joyce, Dickens, Shakespeare, Poe, Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll, etc.

7) A band or artist who has gotten you through some rough days.
Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison, The Gambler.

Procol Harum.

8) Something you hope that you never have to do.
Bloody hell! Errrr! Survive my wife – I do not know how I could cope without her!
9) Someone who has made your life worth living for.
Rhonda – she rescued me and was instrumental in turning my wayward life around.
10) Someone who made your life hell or treated you like shit.
No-one has ever done that to me! (And no-one should try to do it now, either!)
11) Someone you didn't want to let go, but just drifted.
One of my ex-bosses, Marie. A great and talented person but we’ve just drifted apart in the latter years. ‘Neen is another great friend and I sensed the other day that we were drifting apart. I’ve arranged to meet her for lunch tomorrow.
12) Someone you need to let go of or wish you didn't know.
No, I cannot think of anyone. I have no problem letting go of people I do not want in my life!
13) Something you hate about yourself.
I have an ‘reactive’ temper. I do not treat fools (or incompetents) lightly and I call things as I see them – something that always got me off-side with bureaucracies. No matter how hard I tried, I could never change that!
14) Something you love about yourself.
My determination to learn new things and to see tasks completed and wrapped up. I was always valued as a leader. My Myers-Briggs Personality type was as Extroverted, Intuitive, Thinker and Perceptive. My Keirsey Temperament was analysed as a "Guardian" - observant and cooperative, seeking security and belonging, concerned with responsibility and duty. My greatest strength is logistics and I excelled at organizing, facilitating, checking, and supporting.

15) Something you have to forgive yourself for.
I would have said the disastrous and nasty end to my first marriage – but – my first wife, Anne, and I have already mended that fence! Anne, I am truly sorry for the hurt I caused you!
16) Something you have to forgive someone else for.
There is no one I need to forgive. If they hurt me bad enough I cut them off and forgot them. There was no point in dwelling upon ‘hurt feelings’ – Get over it! Get on with your life!
17) Something you hope to do in your life.
When Rhonda retires I would like to find a nice quiet, small, rural community where we could live peacefully and enjoy our final years – somewhere not too far from a regional centre with all the services we might require – a satellite village somewhere - have some chickens, ducks and grow our vegies.

18) A hero who has let you down.
John Wayne! You silly bastard – why did you keep smoking!

Lucilia sp, subfamily Calliphorinae

I hate blow flies!  I've seen maggot-infested sheep but I've also experienced maggot-infested wounds in humans in South-east Asia!


With all our rain and humidity the blow flies population has expanded immensely.  They love to get inside houses and are experts at hitching a ride on the back of persons or dogs that access houses. This morning we were woken to the familiar sound of a 'blowie' in our bedroom at 7am. We found another two in the kitchen  and dining room areas and one more turned up later in the study.

Maggots - blow fly larvae - stock photo

I recall one situation I experienced in Vung Tau, 1969, one I had written up in my diary at that time - Elderly guy,  lived alone. Found on the floor out in a humpy, unsure exactly how long he had been there. Dropped at the French Hospital front doors, where I was doing volunteer work as a registered nurse, by local police, legs wrapped up in old towels.

He had spent some hours in the shower with nursing aides trying to rid him of the incredible smells that were emanating over the entire department, with minimal success. As I entered the bay where the man was lying, I could see some flickering movements on the floor by some of the miniature, writhing escapees – obviously they could sense what was to come and were desperate to make a break for it.

Now I was pretty good at dealing with noxious gases and crazy hospital smells, however when I pulled back the sheets I could almost feel a gag coming on – not only did he have an ulcerated wound the size of his fist in his lower leg with tibia + tendons exposed, but inside this wound were literally hundreds of fat, writhing maggots. This wound was creating some crazy, off the chart smells that caused several people to collapse unconscious (nearly!)

So, armed with some hydrogen peroxide 3%, some irrigation fluid and forceps, I spent about an hour removing as many of the maggots from his leg wound as possible, flushing out the wound as best as I could. The situation was made a hundred times more complex as the maggots, keen to make their escape, were tunneling up inside the man’s leg and burying underneath the exposed tibia bone. Oh Joy!

Crazy thing was, after I thought I was finished, I discovered a new stash of maggots in between his big toe and 1st toe (a cluster of like 30), then maggots between each of his other toes on that leg. The skin was kind of like when you go swimming for like a week or two straight, wrinkle toes etc, and there were little sinus areas where the maggots had buried in and were eating flesh. So then I tackled the feet – I’m not quite sure I got them all, but I would estimate that in the leg wound and feet there were between 150 – 200 maggots all up. Good times!

God, I had blow flies!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Summer Holidays

In between rain storms Rhonda and I managed to get three nights away up at "The Camp". A much different place in the holiday season and a time we do not ususally go, however, with all our pre-Christmas family happenings we thought we needed a few days away.

Now usually we go up to "The Camp" in the off-season and mid-week and often have the whole shebang just to ourselves.

The contrast was terrific.

Boys on bikes in swimming gear heading down to the water:

Kiddies on mini-scooters daring 'the hill':

Big boys with their toys:

Families simply enjoying the cool water on a 35c day (95f):

And of 'cos, Denny-the-Dog enjoyed a cooling 'belly wash' in the reserved swimmers-only area:

It was nice to see some water back in the dam:

This is, essentially, an "Irrigation Dam" and in dry seasons it provides water to farmers down stream on the Lachlan River to irrigate their crops. During the drought is was emptied down to 5% and it has filled to 95% in merely six weeks. Think of the havoc all that water would have caused downstream, in areas already effected by the current flooding, if the dam had not been there to catch the opportune rain. In Autumn the State Water Authority will begin to empty it again. At capacity, it contains water equivalent to three x times the capacity of Sydney Harbour, one of the biggest deep water harbours in the world!
The rain bringing on the flowers:

And the campers out as family groups:

We arrived to a four hour black-out following a fierce storm but then got in three nice days until another storm chased us home.

We hope to go back in a week or so and plan to take the two grandsons (5 and 8) for a few days and they ARE going to learn "How to fish!"

Zimmer MRI

Well, I'm back home again.

Whole procedure took about an hour from 'Go' to 'Whoa'.

Worst MRI experience ever - strapped in to a lower limb body board, not able to move a muscle, arms extended back over head and 30 minutes of 'clanging' and 'banging' as the MRI machine did its business, sliding me backwards and forwards.

Anyway, when it was all over the technician assisted me off the table and was very pleased with the results. She told me that often the studies are rejected in the US 'cos the patient moved during the procedure and the Zimmer technology could not compensate for that. She thought mine would be fine.

As I hobbled to the change room I had to start my upper limb exercises to get my shoulder joints moving and the drive home from Canberra was most sedate as I was so muscle sore throughout all my body.

Thanks to all the well wishers about my impending Right total knee replacement in March - it's not as tho' I'm new to this having had my Left knee replaced last June and both thumb joints replaced plus past wrist and ankle reconstructions (starting to feel like the 'Bionic man' and its a worry when all the support staff recognise you and address you by your first name!) - so yes, I really aware of the benefits of physiotherapy and exercises as well as how much a 'cold pack' can often be better for pain relief than a pain tablet!

Tiggeriffic - imho things like joint replacement, particularly knees and ankles, need to be done by competent orthopaedic surgeons who specialise in such operations! Find a well recommended one and go for a consult - if you are not happy with them, wave them good bye!  My guy has his own team of specialised nurses and physiotherapist and at the hospital he works out of he 'calls the tune' to the hospital staff, who have now learnt exactly what he expects!

Unreal! "Inland Tsunami"

More dramatic footage!

Now this footage:

Another day, more rain

Rain continues to dominate our eastern weather region with Flash Flooding hitting Gympie in Queensland - just watched the early morning news footage and its pretty horrendous.

I'm about to head off to Canberra to have my "Zimmer MRI" done on my right knee in preparation for my knee replacement on 22nd march. This MRI gets sent electronically to the US  where technicians build a 3D model of my actual knee, choose the appropriate type and size of implant and super-impose that on to the imaging, showing my surgeon exactly the correct size of implant and its optimum alignment.  He will be able to see all this on a screen in the operating room as he does the knee replacement.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Further clarifications on Aussie terminologies.

Seems like I need to provide a few more clarifications!

VB” – A brew of beer popular with the working class, has a high alcohol content (4.5%/100mls) :

HSV – Holden Special Vehicle, a General Motors Holden “Commodore” – the king of the road! The “burnout champion":

Ashmore Reef – Usual first landfall for illegal immigrants coming by boat from Asia and trying to seek refuge in Australia as asylum seekers.

A Queenslander's definition of "Weather"

From a friend up north who has been unending rain since well before Christmas.

Based on the current conditions north of the Tweed, the following definitions have been revised and updated:

Shower: Less than 50mm of rain in an hour

Occasional showers: Less than 200mm in a day

Rain periods: 200mm to 300mm in a day

Storm: More than 200mm of rain in an hour. Something that happens on average about twice a day

A bit wet: The water hasn't reached the door sills of a Land Cruiser yet

Wet: The bonnett of a Land Cruiser is out of the water

Very Wet: The only part of a Land Cruiser out of the water is the tip of the snorkel.

Sunshine: A myth perpetuated by them blow-ins from down south. Really, who believes that there's a burning ball of gas up in the sky that makes light?
Oh!  This is an example of an off-road, all-terrain, Land Cruiser:

Friday, January 7, 2011


I received an email from a fellow blogger after my last post asking "What/Who is a "Bogan"?"

Well, here is an image of the typical Aussie Bogan:

IRKING CLASS: A real bogan - as played by comedian
Chris Franklin (above) - never goes out of style but grows
a little older and wider. Source: The Sunday Mail (Qld)

Time was when you could pick a bogan easily: Barry - or Bazza - had a mullet haircut and wore a wife-beater singlet and you'd spot him leaning on his ute swigging a VB in between yelling at the missus Sharon - or Shazza. But no longer. According to the authors of a new book, the 21st century bogan is a much more complex character, not conforming to class or income brackets - and the species is proliferating.While the bogan of old was harmless and generally happy to sit at home with a coldie, the modern version is mobile, has money and aspirations - lots of aspirations.

You may work alongside them, live among them. You will certainly rub shoulders with them in the shopping mall. And, horror of horrors, you may even share some features with them. The book, Things Bogans Like sprang from a satirical website of the same name. The anonymous authors say defining today's bogan requires more careful study of what they say, do and- above all- buy.

To help you identify them, we present an A to Z guide, based on excerpts from the book. But be warned, this could lead you to discover the bogan within.

A. ADHD: While the bogan parent is always eager to acquire cheap glory, it is vehemently unwilling to accept responsibility for the conduct of bogan junior, despite little Bilynda and Maxxx setting fire to the upholstery in the formal dining area. Using the same mental shortcut that caused it to decide that it had a spurious gluten allergy, the bogan will loudly and arbitrarily announce that its recalcitrant offspring has ADHD. At this point, the bogan parent feels relieved and reassured that none of this mess is their fault.

B. Buddhist home furnishings: No longer is the bogan confined to decorating its home with HSV wall clocks and novelty stubby-holders. What better way to announce one's entry into the knowledge economy than by purchasing a Buddhism-themed figurine, statue or water feature from the garden section of Kmart?

C. Celebrities: The bogan is of the opinion that years of work, skill and sacrifice aren't really the key things behind success . . . all that is really required is for the bogan to loudly announce a desire to be a celebrity.

D. Discount airlines: The bogan is no longer restricted to holidaying within a five-hour Commodore journey of its nest. But it expects celebrity service at bargain prices. If the discount flight is 30 minutes late, a small cluster of bogans can be seen gesticulating maniacally at the service desk. The bogans' flat nasal yowl reverberates across the departure lounge, prompting other bogans to begin howling like a neighbourhood of cross-eyed dogs. Due to incidents such as this, the Bali to Brisbane Jetstar flight on Sunday afternoons has come to be known as the ''bogan bus''.

E. Enormous prams: Mumma Hummers, as they are affectionately known, are the armoured tanks of the baby transport world. These giant infant carriers ruthlessly dominate every footpath, zebra crossing and foodcourt aisle that they happen to rumble across. For while the bogan mother is walking a child instead of a pit bull, she desires to intimidate all the same.

F. Franchises: The bogan has standards - standards that can only be met when the front of the shop has a familiar logo that the bogan has seen in other suburbs and towns too. For while each bogan is a unique snowflake, franchises allow them to be as precisely unique as each other.

G. Going to work in the mines: While in a remote area of Western Australia, the bogan will ply his modest skill set, earning in excess of $500 a day. This financial windfall opens the glittering door to hyper-bogan consumption. Within months, he is playing GTA on his new 125-inch full HD, 3D, LED TV, ripping doughnuts in his shiny Chevrolet ute and drinking phenomenal amounts of locally-brewed Stella Artois.

H. Hot Asian Chicks: If the illegal fishing boats full of Afghani immigrants that wash up on Ashmore Reef were full of hot Asian chicks .hordes of bogans would be strapping long-range fuel tanks and floral bouquets on to their jet-skis and trying to intercept the vessels themselves.

I. Interest-free, no-deposit: Maintaining an appropriately fashionable abode with massive TV screen and loud home-theatre system is an expensive task. Thankfully, the proprietors of equally massive retailers such as Harvey Norman saw a hole in the market. So now, Bogan dreams can be fulfilled, by getting free stuff. Sure, they had to sign a few forms before being allowed to leave, but so what?

J. Joining the army (not): Perhaps the most devoted bogan love is talking about joining the army. For there is nothing conceivably more maxtreme than talking about shooting an xtreme gun, in xtreme temperatures, in countries and terrain that it is xtremely unaware of . . . once its back recovers.

K. Kids' names: Rather than actually bestowing their newborn with a genuinely one-of-a-kind name - or at least uncommon one- the bogan merely takes a common one, then misspells it. Ever met a Hayleigh? A Breeyanah? A Kayleb? These kids will be spelling out their names to all and sundry for the next 80 years.

L. Literally: As in ''It was so hot yesterday, I was literally on fire'' or ''I literally died crossing the road this morning''.

M. McMansions: The average size of new homes in Australia grew by 40 per cent between 1985 and 2003 as the bogan became aware that it ''deserved'' a formal living area, a rumpus room, a parents' retreat, an en-suite, a study, a formal lounge and a large void near the stairs. A home that, at first glance, looked reminiscent of a celebrity home.

N. Number plates: Because the bogan has more personality than the rest of us, it requires more canvases upon which to portray its traits. One of these is the lower back, but another important one is the number plate of the bogan's car. The message usually refers to the car's ability to attain speed, or the alleged importance or desirability of its owner.

O. Overseas travel: Thailand is close enough for the bogan to leave its nest at dawn, read the latest movie adapted to a novel, or watch Anchorman and land in time to be slurping from a bucket by evening. Safely ensconced in a Phuket tourist resort or Australian-themed bar, the bogan can drink near-toxic amounts of cheap beer, get bronzed, eat spring rolls, adorn itself with braids, tramp stamps or tribal tattoos, and watch Anchorman again.

P. Patriotism: To the bogan, buying Aussie-made is the retail equivalent of wearing a flag cape and punching on at the Big Day Out totally maxtreme true blue. In the tradition of co-opting symbols it doesn't fully understand, the bogan tatt du jour is the Southern Cross, or ''Aussie Swazie''. The bogan believes Australia has a monopoly over a constellation that is visible from about 50 other countries the bogan has never heard of.

Q. The Qur'an (or Koran): The bogan will tell people that the Qur'an binds all Muslims to a thing called ''Shania's Law'' which compels them to spread chaos and oppression throughout the globe. This, the bogan believes, has all been in order to attain maxtreme quantities of virgins in the afterlife and it is highly suspicious as it wants its virgins right away.

R. Reality TV: Some analysts thought reality TV would be a brief fad but they failed to understand the bogan's bottomless need for validation and glitz. And because it's bogan versus bogan, the bogan always wins.

S. Self-help books: Bogans love shortcuts, be they get-rich-quick schemes, examining a limited number of habits of ''highly effective'' individuals, or simply seeking an effortless strategy to living superbly. This makes the bogan a prime culprit for the burgeoning self-help publishing industry and intellectual cretins/life coaches/gurus who model themselves on Anthony Robbins.

T. Tans: Many bogans turned to tanning lounges in the 1990s but the message of young melanoma victim Clare Oliver got through to many. The shift in bronzing tastes coincided with a proliferation of spray tans, creams and lotions. These come with the promise of transforming pale bogans into the colour of ''ethnic'' people they do not like. This oddly contradictory aspirational racism is rarely effective, though, with the bogan ending up a blotchy shade of orange.

U. Underbelly: It had crime, it had violence, it had drug use, it was based on some semblance of fact, it was on commercial TV and it was absolutely loaded to the brim with heavily stylised semi-explicit sex scenes and exposed breasts. It was, in short, the televisual equivalent of bogan heaven.

V. Vampires: The female bogan desires nothing so much as xtreme romance. While she often tells her disapproving friends that despite the tribal tatts and glass-induced facial scarring, her man is ''a real sweetie underneath'', the vampire is a representation of the fantasy that her muscle-bound neolith can't live up to.

W. WAGS: ("Wives and Girlfriends”) There is a celebrity that appeals even more greatly to the bogan than the footballer or cricketer: Their girlfriend. The femme-bogue decides that becoming a WAG is her calling; her destiny. This results in weekly pilgrimages to weekend haunts known for containing athletes, where the femme-bogues stalk their prey with a single-minded, ruthless determination. By the end of the night, the female bogan has passed out in a tangle of arms, legs, sequins and shame.

X. Xmas sales: (Take the "Christ" out of Xmas is their motto!) The bogans surge, foaming at the mouth and desperately snatching any item within a two-metre radius of a sign saying ''(up to) 70 per cent off''. Skinny bogans wriggle between the fat ones, tall ones reach over the top, and the fat ones jut their ample rumps outwards to create a quivering exclusion zone around the precious discounts.

Y. Your favourite bar: Once content with glassings and gropings to a Top 40 remix soundtrack at high capacity beer barns, the bogan now has an inkling that it is missing out on something. The bogan will learn of the non-bogan's favourite bar when the trashmedia report that an actor from Underbelly went there once.

Z. Zoo Weekly: Having initially conceded to his girlfriend's refusal to have the magazine in the house, the bogan was sent to the 7-Eleven to purchase a Diet Coke. At the fridge, the male bogan spied the promotional placard: ''500ml can of Mother and copy of Zoo Weekly for only $6.'' His relationship was doomed.

From: Things Bogans Like, published by Hachette Australia, is in shops now. RRP $24.99.

ps a "Commodore" is an Australian-built utility - but not the working class type!

Two utes at the Deniliquin Ute muster, 2002

Commodore on left, Ford Falcon "Longreach" on the right. These days a "Fire Engine Red" is the preferred colour, tho' 'Nightstalkers' like a dark blue or purple!

Why is it ....?

Why is it that when you go away for a break to a place that is 'family centred' for fun that there will always be 95% of people who enjoy themselves and do the right thing and 5% arrogant and/or ignorant persons who will ignore the established protocols of behaviour and be intent of spoiling the experience for everyone else.

We just spent four days at "The Camp" which was full of campers and caravaners enjoying the Christmas/New Year break. On arrival, one bogan towing his humongous stiletto-shaped ski-boat to the boat ramp got upset 'cos we did not pull off the road to let him through - he turned up at our camp and this brave young man wanted to fight me. I listened to his complaint, told him I had grown out of the urge to fight people 50 years ago and to have a Happy New Year and now Piss Off!

Then there is the question of dogs. This is one of the few State parks in NSW where you can take the family pooch along for a holiday as well - rule is "Dogs must be on a leash at ALL times!" Mind you, as a 'leaseholder' who visits regularly in the off-season when there are almost no other residents around, we let Denny off the leash in an open area and allow him to go ballistic for five minutes. But it is "Fair enough" in peak holiday times. Denny-the-Dog enjoys our company even if it means being secured on a leash (at least he gets his own futon to loll about on while watching the passing parade!) But .... there is always one! One who ignores the leash law and allows their pooch to roam-at-large 24/7 thus stirring up campsite groups and setting all other resident dogs off in territorial barking warnings.

Then there's the 'Curfew Rule'. All noise to subside at 10pm and no noise from campsites after 12pm. Why do I always draw two adult-aged bogongs who want to sit up until 2.30am drinking and talking loudly .

We are booked to return later this month with our two grandsoons who we get to see (on average) twice a year. I hope we have better luck this time.

My Nikon tells me I have 52 images stored (and I've already culled three times as many and deleted them) so in the next few days - seeing as how Rhonda works the Older Persons mental Health Unit for the next 6 days - I'll download the 52 and post a selection of Australians enjoying 35C holiday season heat, swimming, fishing, bushwalking and water-ski-ing!