Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Thank God we're here! Pt 2 - Jenolan - Imperial Diamond Cave Tour

Refreshed with a shared bottle of water we take our places in the Grand Arch for our tour if the Imperial Diamond Cave/s.  This is essentially a tour of the Imperial cave with a bit of an add on for the Diamond Cave. 

We laugh when our guide arrives.  It is Michael again, so clearly there was no risk of us missing this tour after completing the River Cave.  It is a small group this time.  Ourselves, a family of five - three teenagers or maybe early twenties for the elder girl, the kids have all just got back from Plugholing.  The elder girl who is very outgoing and vivacious reports that her brother and sister enjoyed it more than she did, but it was an experience! There is also a young couple, so it is a very small group.  We have all been on tours earlier in the day, and Michael quizzes us as to the rules in the caves and re-emphasises critical points.  We are heading west into the mountain this time and again, a long staircase is required to reach the entrance to the caves. 

Given that we are not newbies to the caves, Michael adapts his commentary to suit.  We head on in through the red door.  Our first chamber is called the woolshed.  It feels familiar and I think I must have passed through it before.   Ah yes, it is confirmed that you also go this way for the Chifley cave, which we have toured previously.  The woolshed is perfectly named.  The major feature here is the classing table.  For those who are unfamiliar with woolsheds, when the fleece is shawn from the sheep it is picked up and tossed in a rather expert manner onto what is called the classing table where the refuse, such as dags (wool matted with excrement) or burs  etc are removed and the wool is examined to assess quality, fineness etc, before being baled with other fleece of similar quality.  The crystal classing table has fleece hanging over the edge which somewhat resemble large dags.  I bet you can't name another cave in the world that has a feature that is pointed out as a dag!!
With a chuckle we move along and down some stairs again.  
We follow the river around some twists and turns.  Unlike our interceptions with the river in the River Cave, this really feels like a river wending and winding it's path through the mountain.  We pause once more to marvel at the water, it's stillness and the optical depth illusion.  You can see a hand print where the cave divers have been.  The water moves so slowly such marks remain for a long time.  There are what seem to us to be tiny holes where the cave divers go down to explore.  They must be insane, seriously.  Apparently they even get to places where they have to take the air cylinder off their back and go through then pass the cylinder in after themselves.  Lord!  The water doesn't look deep enough to dive in.  You would swear it was only 1 meter deep at the very deepest point, but no, that's just the illusion at work.  The divers have figured out that the two underground rivers (this one is not the same one we visited in the River Cave) eventually find their way to the Blue Lake.
We pause in a locality known as Ridley's Shortcut.  Our young companions point out that the rock stack above is where they were plugholing.  Apparently This fellow Ridley fell when looking over and down into this chamber from above.  Fortunately he bounced around off the walls and rocks a bit before landing on some wire netting that had been put in the chamber further breaking his fall. Badly hurt but luckily he survived.  The things some people will do to have a feature named for themselves!
Was it here or another early chamber that we learned that when originally discovered the chamber was waist deep in animal bones?  A wombat skeleton has been cleaned up and placed in the cave as a reminder.  Apparently there's an entrance into which animals can and apparently did fall on a fairly regular basis.  Somewhere along the way we disturb another small bat. Awesome!!  We are having a lot of luck today!
As we have been through the geology spiel on our previous tours, this time we are learning how to navigate in the caves and are quizzed about what features we have passed and which way you turn to get out to the surface. 
We come to the butchershop.  Sure enough hanging from the ceiling is a feature that really does resemble a sheep's carcass with head intact.  Above my head is a ham, and close by a chicken carcass.  Memorable, that's for sure!

We move along and come to a stalagmite that is about the right height for an average woman.  It is standing on it's own in the path surrounded by a protective cage.  This is Lot's Wife.  We hear that she has been through periods of rapid growth, and periods where there has not been much activity creating the uneven width and layering effect.

On again and with occassional periods where you have to watch your head, maybe bend a little we come to a ledge under which a landscape is revealed which without being told we know just has be named as a city or citadel of some sort.  Rows of crystal like ramparts of a city are arrayed across the floor of the cave.  Fascinating.  We pause to hear the theory about how they are created, snapping our photos for posterity.  This is another most interesting feature and one of a type we've not come across before. 

From the crystal cities we pass clusters of richly glowing stalactites and columns before finally arriving at the Alabaster column.  This enourmous column is completely untainted with the iron oxide and it has a luxuriant glow about it.  

Soon we approach another ledge under which is a circular cluster of columns,  there are a couple of similar features along the way, the more impressive of them is called the Birdcage. 

One feature incites Michael to quizz us as to what sort of formation it is.  Hmm. Column, as it reaches from the ceiling to the floor.  Shawl from the shape of it... Fluted column is the correct term we are informed.  It is most impressive.   Very large.

On one of our rest stops as the rest of the group caught up, we stop at the display case with that contains the jaw of a tasmanian devil discovered in this cave.  Apparently tassie devils were suriving on the mainland as recently as 600 years ago. 

Moving ahead we are told to look out for the Giraffe's front legs.  We spot them no touble.  They really do look like a giraffe's front legs. I can't remember though exactly where they were.  Were they in the shawl cave?  
We move into the the Diamond cave and although it is beautifully decorated and we admire a number of features, the star of the show is a small alcove filled with dogstooth spa crystals.  There is a double stair case to facilitate larger groups getting a look and we appreciate anew that we have such a small gathering today.  
Laughter around the group as Michael points out a small protrusion of rock known as the dessert spoon. 
Now we move in the upper Diamond branch which is protected by wire netting all around.  We pause before we go in and are warned again not to touch when but to remember to look right and left and above also.  We move on.  Wow.   There are gaps in the netting here and there to facilitate photography.  This is a most impressive section. Awesome!  We are coming to the climax of our tour.  The Gem of the West, covered in helictites and dainty drooping straws. The photo cannot do it justice. This chamber has lots of helictites. They grow all over the place in varying sizes.  There is crystal everywhere you look, coating the rocks. Flowing down over things like oooze.  Some coated rocks are clearly visible through the crystal. 

We admire a particularly nifty stalactite and stalagmite which are almost to touching stage.  Around the corner is a section of rock eroded to form a sort of sharp pincer effect. Nifty.  This is an entrancing cave and well worth the tour that's for sure. 


Having taken our fill of these magnificent chambers we start on the return leg.  We pause again at the tassie devil and here and there along the way.  The main focus I remember was trying to recall the way out by memory of the features as we approach the butchershop.  Maybe not such a star crystal wise, but I do have a particular fondness for the butcher shop and the woolshed.. plenty of crystal in the woolshed, but it is .. well.. dull and woolly looking!  The bottleshop was another striking and amusing feature and very lifelike.  
Once again as we near the woolshed we feel a drop in temperature as we  near the red door, exiting the same way we came in.  It has been raining while we were underground and everything has that hush of the wet, and the approaching darkness. With the air powerfully laced with the scent of eucalyptus Jenolan is simply superb!  It has been a wonderfully enjoyable tour, and a most relaxing and reviving day.  We really feel renewed as we make our way up the hill, up several more flights of stairs.  
I am delighted to report the legs held up very well, never did get the jelly legs and was still feeling pretty good as we hopped into the car. Not a tinge of soreness next day.  All bodes well for our next physical challenge as we try to figure out if we're up to Tongariro Crossing... Finally and with considerable regret that our visit has come to a close, we say farewell to the wonderful Jenolan Caves. 

While I have done my best to give a feel for our experience, there is so much more that you hear and see as you clamber around these awe inspiring chambers.  Colourful characters in the history of the caves, indigenous connections.. so much more... 

WE WILL BE BACK!!  

Monday, May 11, 2009

Thank god we're here! Pt 1- Jenolan Caves River Cave Tour

Just a quick reminder before we begin - you can click on the photos for a better look......

Oh my god I am climbing the walls.  The stress is building. Migraine territory. There is only one solution. We just have to get out of town and Jenolan it is - the oldest show caves on earth.  Some chambers dated at 340 million years - that's before the time of the dinosaurs!!  Time is a tickin’ away on our Jenolan Pass and a physical challenge is overdue to start of our campaign to test our fitness. The exercise will (hopefully) blow the cobwebs away. 

We’ve been sluggish getting away, still foggy climbing out of sore heads and feeble constitutions, but just after 9am we’re on the road.  With the late start it’s all motorways for us and with Goodbye Yellow Brick Road in the CD player it’s no time before we are admiring the beautiful autumn colour in the street and garden trees of the Mountain Villages along the Great Western Highway.  Among the first that attract attention are some beautifully coloured claret ash, and lovely red maples.  They come as a delightful surprise. I hadn’t even considered the possibility that the lower mountains may still have colour.  

A business-like drive but we admire the lovely roadworks not too long completed providing better access to the Great Western Highway from Leura township. Nice piece of work. 

Heading through Blackheath in the higher altitude the trees are increasingly bare, though as we pass along we soon come to a warmer spot with abundant colour. 

We pass the historic precint at Hartley before we turn onto the road to Jenolan.  The weather is a bit drizzly, and I think we must be destined to head to this part of the world in this damp wintry weather, as it always seems to be like this when we come, but this is not a problem. I love the colder wet conditions and the beauty of Jenolan of course is that the attraction is underground so rain is simply not an issue. 

As we admire the view across the pasture clad hills a wedge tailed eagle circles overhead. Wedgies are always such a majestic sight.  Fantastic!  Yellow Rumped thornbills fly up from the verge and a short while later some fairy wrens.  It’s so gooood to be in the country and I’m feeling better already.  

At the boundary to the Jenolan reserve the road narrows. I’m very pleased to see the fireplaces at the rest stops along the road are still there.  Thank god there’s not much chance of those being replaced by electric bbqs!  I just hope they don’t remove them. 

We take what looks like the last place in the car park and get a cave guide book from the attendant.  It’s now a bit after 11:30.  The drive takes just long enough to get through Goodbye  Yellow Brick Road, Don't Shoot Me and a couple of Supertramp classics!  The atmosphere is a bit damp and the golden ash trees planted around Caves House are ablaze with colour.  Woodsmoke taints the air from a column of smoke wafting gently skyward from the Caves House Chimneys.  Magic.  I LOVE the mountains like this with the outdoors bracing and the indoors warm and cosy. 

We make our way to the board of tour times.  We’re after the River Cave which doesn’t leave 'til 1:15.  We head to the ticket office to make sure we have a place on the tours of our choice and notice the electronic sign announcing that the road closes across the middle of the day reopening at 1:15. Phew. I'd forgotten about that. Lucky we weren't here later!  At the ticket counter hubby announces we should do the Diamond Imperial as well as the River Cave.   The girl on the desk looks at us with concern.  Do we realise that we’d be straight from one tour to the other?  She can never get out of the River Cave on time so although there’s a ½ hr between the predicted times, it could be close and we should be sure that our guide is aware we have a following tour. 

Turns out that the information we were given when last here and being provided with our Jenolan Pass was somewhat misleading.  The girl had said we would get “50% off another tour” taken within the year.  Actually the Jenolan Pass gives you 50% off as many tours as you like for the next year AND it’s just fine with Jenolan if you hand your pass around to family and friends to use.  This makes the caves much much more affordable obviously, which they need to be as the tours range in price from $27 - $40 pp.  Anyway, $75 later we’re off to sus out lunch options. 

11:45 and we arrive at the restaurant.  They’re not open yet and it will be a bistro.  We’ve been happy with the food from the cafeteria in the past, so we don’t hesitate to head on in there to be sure we're in plenty of time for the tour.  They have a range options from the fry up with hot chips down one end, through to healthy wraps and Turkish bread sandwiches.  We opt for half a chicken wrap (delicious) and a toasted Turkish with brie, cranberry and turkey with avocado (also quite tasty).  The toasted Turkish comes accompanied with some corn chips and tangy salsa. Nice touch.  We polish that off quick smart and decide to supplement that with a piece of quiche (ho hum) and a slice of cake to share (ho hum again). 

We still have 45 mins to kill so we opt to take a walk around the Blue Lake and see what we can. You never know your luck, we might even spot the platypus, which our tour guide later tells us is not much bothered by people about and may be seen at any time of day.. and apparently they've had some babies..  

The Blue Lake is putting on a show today. I’ve not seen it so abundantly deserving of the name before.  The water is crystal clear. In the shallower parts of the lake you’d have no difficulty spotting the platypus if it’s about.  The walk itself is a bit ramshackle.  The path is even enough, but the bush surrounding the lake is not quite pristine enough to attract a lot of compliments from me.  A short way down the track a male superb fairy wren in eclipse plumage with his dark blue tail and a slight edge of black to his wing, is  all puffed out like a pom pom to keep warm. Aside from the touches that show he's male, he is otherwise decked out in the lovely soft browns .  He's not much fussed by our presence.  We stop and he hops around near us on the path before flitting off into the nearby bushes.  Magic!  The soft piping of the white browed scrub wrens as they forage is a constant serenade everywhere we go. The white browed scrub wrens are also not fussed by the people about and are easily observed.

Finally we come to the dam wall and hubby spots a couple of white browed scrub wrens hanging on to the edge of the verticle dam wall so we snap a photo of them .  Around the walk are interesting interpretive boards explaining what the machinery is that is around the lake.  It’s all part of the electricity plant which supplies Jenolan.  Quite interesting industrial heritage, the electrical plant is designed by an American and a big improvement on similar plant of it’s type at the time it was installed.

 There’s quite a few stairs along the track, especially as you head back on the return leg on the side of the lake nearest the road.  It would probably be easier to walk it in the reverse direction.  I’m not so sure this walk was a good plan given that we have about 1800 steps to get through on the tours. Oh well, we will think of it as a warm up.  The weather is closing in as we head back so we don’t linger on platypus watch, instead finding ourselves a seat up in the Grand Arch to await our tour guide. 

At the appointed time our guide, Michael, arrives and runs us through the rules.  No touching anything inside the caves – chemical reactions dull the crystal and it cannot be cleaned.  No food at all as it risks attracting bush rats which get lost and die and/or chew the electric cables. Neither of which is good. Lastly no smoking.  A reminder and an opportunity for people to take a last toilet break.  While we wait Michael spends a few minutes pointing out the course of the river that at one time ran through the rock of the Grand Arch overhead.  The winds and twists and meandering of the watercourse is clear to see.  Over the millions of years since the limestone was formed the rivers have worked their way deep underground where they continue to wear away at the rock.  

We commence the climb up a rather intimidating staircase to the entrance to the caves.  I think this was probably the most demanding individual section of the tour as it is the longest staircase without a break.  We get to a lookout over the blue lake and as the group rests, Michael explains about why the lake is blue.  Everyone having caught their breath we head on in.  

To get down to the river we have to climb up over then down down down to the lowest part of the caves then climb back up, up and down a few times before reaching the exit.  Looking down into the cave over the edge of the railing we can see water.  That’s a heck of a staircase we’ll be travelling to get down there!

My apologies for the poor quality of the photo, but I thought this gives the best idea of the typical terrain of this particular tour.

The first famous feature we come to is the minaret.

I must have seen many pictures of this over the years and I identify it tentatively before Michael tells us the name.  The caves are beautifully ornamented with crystal both active (wet and therefore continuing to develop) and dry which sparkles in a modest way as they catch the light.   Although there are many stairs, the stair sections are done in bursts and there are regular stops for information when you can rest the muscles. 

There are a range of ages and sizes of people on the tour and everyone seems to be coping OK and enjoying the tour.


We arrive at the pool of reflections, which my amateur photography skills and equipment struggle to do justice to. Once again we discuss the optical illusion that makes the river look so shallow. It's actually very deep. 20 metres I think Michael said. It looks like you could just step over the rail and paddle up to your knees or chest.

The reflecting pool draws a comparison in my mind with the reflection pool at Carey's Caves at Wee Jasper NSW. This pool of reflections is beautiful, but I have say the reflecting pool at Carey's Caves may be smaller but it can give this one in the River Cave a run for its money. Carey's Caves are very well worth a visit and they have some fantastic limestone rocks above ground unlike anything I've ever seen. Extraordinary.

 We move on and pass a long narrow shawl that is glowing with a radiant luminescence in the light. It seems to be hanging in mid air at a most unusual angle drawing exclamations from the party. When it is pointed out you can see a thin wire suspended from the ceiling along which the shawl has grown. The wire was a relic of some work or activity in the caves some time past. It is revealed that the crystal grows quicker on the wire than in other circumstances. Fascinating - and beautiful.

Finally we come to the base of a huge crystal feature many stories tall.  A giant flow of cascading crystal like a multistoried cake dizzled with icing. Spectacular! Someone asks about bats in the caves.  Yes, apparently you do occassionally see small bats.

Each time we move ahead, we go ahead of Michael with instructions to go as far as the light will let us.  Michael brings up the rear, no doubt making sure noone has been left behind.  This has the added benefit of the whole group being assembled as the lights to the final assembly point are switched on.  As if to cue, we enter our next chamber and the lights disturb a cute little bat, who flies around accompanied by much excited exclamation from the crowd, before finding itself a dark corner in which to roost. There are so many individual features to see, I can't remember all the names. When the impact of the overall glamour of the chamber subsides Michael points out the lions mouth, which is a depression in the ceiling fringed on one side by crystal that with a little imagination resemble large teeth.  
Our next leg takes us up a ladder which passes close by a huge drapery of crystal.  Just next to the ladder under neath the a huge drapery is a small set of stalactites that closely resemble the Three Sisters - until you look around the back and there is a fourth tucked away.. so maybe the four brothers? 
After a briefing of the safe technique for climbing we set off.  Hubby and I are among the first after a pair of young north American men, who appear to be a couple.  Ah young love, I remember it well - the odd sneaky cuddle in the shadows when you think noone is looking. They are very discrete and I am sorry that the world is such that they feel they must restrict any evidence whatever of their relationship to the shadows.  

As I climb the ladder and pass up by the drapery I turn a little for a look.  Wow. 

An orderly procession of folk carefully climb after me and I observe as one bloke turns to photograph the feature just behind his back.   Hmm, I wish I'd done that and not been so concerned at holding everybody else up. Oh well. Caves are a bit like that. You snap away, but honestly, do you ever really look at the piccies later?  I guess for this trip I have to say yes. Yay blogging! 

In among the crystal decorations, there are stalagmites and stalagtites and columns. And of course shawls which are my personal favourite. I particularly like this little cluster of beautiful creamy white shawls.  It may not be huge, but it is beautifully elegant. 
 

The next little while is devoted to progressively climbing the enormous crystal cascade stopping along the way to admire and have features pointed out. We learn about the explorers  and the history of the caves. It is all most interesting and enjoyable.

Stairs, stairs and more stairs, but aside from paying enough attention for safety's sake we hardly notice as there is so much to see and as you round the bends you are looking out for what beauty will next present itself. 

Along the way we come to our second ladder which is steeper than the first, and taller and which we have to go down. We look over the rail to where it ends. Hmm. I'm glad we'll be going down backwards on that !!! Another safety briefing and we cautiously set off allowing plenty of space between each person and being counted down the final few steps by Michael. We are still on a staircase and we have been warned that we will need to turn around before moving away from the immediate vicinity of the ladder. I take my time and am very careful and like the rest of the group, I make it down without mishap. On we go, down some more stairs.

The next really major feature is a huge striped shawl backlit for beautiful effect... many oohs and ahs from the crowd.
More stairs... later, in the shadows before the rest of the party arrive and Michael does the "reveal" with the lights we spy a very large double minaret, is it named for Queen Esther? I can't be sure, but it is enormous and looks like a double cone of soft serve icecream with one side slipping a little. The lights come on... Wow....

We head back and having done a loop the final stages of the tour retrace our steps back past the pool of reflections, and our first ladder, in the reverse. So although there are two ladders, you actually have three one ladder climb and two ladder descents.  
As we near the end of the tour we pass a very large group coming through who stand aside to let us pass.  There are some comments that we are coming back up from the River Cave tour and there is a palpable air of hushed awe from the crowd.  We feel like the crowed regards us as survivors of an ordeal.  Where are the emergency services with thermal wraps and stretchers? With an air of bravado we cheerfully advise the crowd that it is a piece of cake!
As we near the exit we feel the colder fresh air.  What a great couple of hours.  We are slightly longer than the scheduled two hours, but only by 5 minutes or so.  We've got stacks of time for a break before the Imperial Diamond Tour.  We use this time to acquire a bottle of water from the shop.  So far our legs are coping just fine. No shakes yet, but I wonder how we'll go after another 400 or more stairs......

Friday, May 8, 2009

SA Greats 2 - Howard Florey, Mark Oliphant, Don Dunstan

Back to some pretty awesome scientists

Howard Florey

Howard Florey assembled and lead the team that developed penicillin for clinical use. The fact that mould inhibited the growth of bacteria had been observed by Alexander Fleming a decade previously, but it was the work of Florey and his team that turned an observation into a life saving treatment. Although Florey's work was conducted in Britain and the United States, Australia was the first nation to make penicillin available for civilian use and it was mass produced by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories.

The amazing efficacy of penicillin contributed to a population explosion. One of Florey's other life long interests was contraception and population control!

The abc website has a very interesting and accessible article Maker of the Miracle Mould covering the whole story of the development of penicillin and some interesting information about Florey's life and personality.

Sir Mark Oliphant

Sir Mark Oliphant's outstanding international reputation was based on his pioneering discoveries in nuclear physics in Cambridge in the 1930s and his remarkable contributions to wartime radar research and to the development of the atomic bomb. In 1950, after an absence of 23 years, Oliphant returned to Australia, where he founded the Research School of Physical Sciences at the Australian National University and pioneered the creation in Canberra of a national university dedicated to the conduct of research at the highest international level.

To the layman, Mark Oliphant was well known for his often outspoken comments on those matters about which he felt so strongly: social justice, peace, atomic warfare, the environment, academic freedom and autonomy, to name a few. The scientific community will remember him as a physicist for his pioneering experiments with Ernest Rutherford during momentous years that saw the birth of nuclear physics, as a physicist/engineer for his ingenuity and determination as one of the pioneers of high-energy particle accelerators, and as a science administrator and public advocate for science.

Oliphant had style and dignity. White-haired from an early age, he retained his distinctive, upright stature to the end of his long life. These features, together with his booming laugh, gave him a 'presence' in any gathering. His personality was such that even his opponents had to like him. He was richly endowed with natural talents. His leadership qualities, ingenuity, originality, idealism, courage and zeal, to mention but a few, served him well.
He was a natural risk-taker who never hesitated to rail at what he believed was excessive caution, continually exhorting his team to 'stick their necks out'. Oliphant was a skilful and persuasive speaker and writer who could 'think on his feet'. He was quick-witted, enjoyed argument and debate, and never missed a chance to take a rise out of the bureaucracy when it seemed to him foolish or pompous. Along with these skills in the spoken and written word went salesmanship, which enabled him to sell ideas and elicit funds and materials for their realisation. Oliphant was forthright and passionate in his belief in the benefits that the world, especially Australia, could gain from application of the physical sciences.

Mark Oliphant also had a leading role in the Australian Academy of Science "No other physicist has made a greater impact on Australian science than Professor Sir Mark Oliphant."

He also became the Governor of South Australia, another appointment by Don Dunstan.

Speaking of Don Dunstan.....


I hope dear readers you have been noticing South Australia's tendency to providing leadership when it comes to issues of equal opportunity, human and civil rights. It is reflected in things like the fact that women have had the right to vote in SA since 1894 the first jurisdiction in Australia to grant female suffrage.

Aboriginal people have always had the right to vote in SA, albeit it was perhaps somewhat accidental and they haven't always been able to exercise that right. During the constitutional convention preparing for the establishment of the Australian federation, SA argued for the counting of aboriginal people in the census and protection of their existing right to vote. SA lost the argument and aboriginal people were not able to vote in federal elections until 1962.

Well, SA kept it coming in their support for Don Dunstan. So, have a look at this summary (thankyou wikipedia - full article is linked in the title of this section):

Donald Allan Dunstan ..... was Premier of South Australia between June 1967 and April 1968, and again between June 1970 and February 1979.

A reformist, Dunstan brought profound change to South Australian society. His progressive reign saw Aboriginal land rights recognised, homosexuality decriminalised, the first female judge appointed, enacted consumer protection laws, relaxed censorship and drinking laws, created a ministry for the environment, enacted anti-discrimination legislation, and implemented electoral reforms such as the overhaul of the upper house of parliament, lowered the voting age to 18, and enacted universal suffrage. He established Rundle Mall, and encouraged a flourishing of the arts, with support for the Adelaide Festival Centre, the State Theatre Company, and the establishment of the South Australian Film Corporation. Federally he assisted in the abolition of the White Australia Policy. He is recognised for his role in reinvigorating the social, artistic and cultural life of South Australia during his nine years in office, remembered as the Dunstan Decade. His departure from the Premiership and politics in 1979 was abrupt after collapsing due to ill health, but would live another 20 years.

State premier perhaps but I do clearly recall him being very popular in my home state of NSW and we were all deeply saddened when he became ill and had to resign the Premiership. For leadership is not something that can stay contained in one State. It has a trickle effect. With Don Dunstan SA kept right on punching above it's weight.

I really don't want to trivialise Don Dunstan's achievements, but let me ask you, how many places on earth have a pair of pink shorts as an historic political artifact?

SA Greats 1 - Dame Roma Mitchell, Robert Helpmann, Hans Heysen

Well, I have to say South Australia punches above its weight. You South Aussies have an awesome list of greats! Here we go:


The link in the title takes you to a biography of Dame Roma.

Dame Roma became in 1962 the first Australian woman to be appointed Queen's Counsel; she became in 1965 the first to hold office as a judge of a superior court [Supreme Court of SA]; she became in 1983 the first to be elected as Chancellor of an Australian university [University of SA] ; and she became in 1991 the first to hold vice-regal office [Governor of SA]. ...in 1981 Dame Roma became the founding Chair of theAustralian Human Rights Commission....

.....Dame Roma remains an inspiration to many Australian women and particularly those in the legal profession. ....I think it is also important to record that Dame Roma was also a particularly nice person. While in her professional roles she brooked little nonsense and was something of a stickler for the proper formalities, she was, when away from her official duties, warm, generous and funny."

There is also a short transcript of an interesting story by George Negus on the abc website - it includes comments from Dame Roma and others who knew her and an insight into Dame Roma the person.
..and then there's the transcript of the interview with Dame Roma conducted for the Australian Biography project.


I think the information provided on the website for the Helpmann Awards does Sir Robert Helpmann best justice, so please follow the link in the title above.

Helpmann's name was chosen to be honoured in the naming of the awards which "recognise distinguished artistic achievement and excellence in the many disciplines of Australia's vibrant live performance sectors, including musical theatre, contemporary music, comedy, opera, classical music, dance and physical theatre." The awards are described as "similar to the Tony Awards on Broadway or the Olivier Awards in London".

The 100th anniversary of his birth was celebrated by the Royal Opera House in London just recently, with an exhibition devoted to his time with the Royal Ballet, reported in the Australian.

There is a full biography of Sir Robert on wikipedia.

Hans Heysen (ie Sir Wilhelm Ernst Hans Heysen)

Hans Heysen is one of the greatest Australian landscape painters. He was "an outstanding draughtsman" with "superb control over line". He won the Wynne prize nine times between 1904 and 1932, the Crouch prize in 1931, and the Maude Vizard-Wholohan prize in 1957. He was knighted in 1959. Heysen was absolutely passionate about gum trees and a conservationist ahead of his time. "The whole nation came to see the gum tree as he saw it".

A major retrospective of Heysen's work assembled by the Art Gallery of SA and sponsored by the Australian Government is currently touring regional areas. See the SA Gallery website for a program of dates and places where you might be able to take advantage of this marvellous opportunity to appreciate and learn about Heysen's work. The exhibition is currently in Victoria, before heading to Tassie, Canberra, Brisbane and Newcastle.

Visitors to Handorf may like to visit Heysen's property The Cedars for walks or a tour of the house or studio. Details, including some interesting commentary about the artist, are provided on the Hans Heysen website. This will certainly be on my list of must dos when I'm in the area.



NSW Greats 6 - Mum Shirl & Doug Nicholls

OK I'm over 10 for NSW, but I'm sorry. Mum Shirl just has to go on the list.  I missed her as I forgot to check my list we brainstormed in the car recently... and to cap it off, I find I'm going to have to allocate Doug Nicholls to NSW...

Mum Shirl worked tirelessly for indigenous people, helping people in trouble with the law, visiting inmates in jail, finding their families, established the first aboriginal medical service, the aboriginal legal service and she was a prominent aboriginal rights activist.  She took in many many kids who had no home to go to and raised them.  This seems a short little entry, but it reflects a very great very loving and strong woman who will and should be remembered by us all for all she contributed.


It is so difficult to allocate Doug Nicholls to one State and may move his listing to a generic Australian list at some point.  Born and raised at Cumeragunja in NSW, he played AFL (Aussie Rules football) for Fitzroy, worked tirelessly for the benefit of indigenous people establishing hostels in Melbourne for aboriginal youths and working as an activist for Aboriginal rights.  he was twice honoured in the Queens birthday honours list and said the MBE stood for "more black than ever".  He became the first Aboriginal Governor of an Australian State - South Australia and is buried at Cumeragunja. 
Doug Nicholls came from a line of activists. His uncle William Cooper was an activist also.  There have always been activists come to that, it's just that the broader society never heard, or perhaps appreciated their courage and strength.  Aboriginal activism is not a new thing.  It's hard really to select one or two or three and seems somehow perverse to select Doug Nicholls because he was honoured by a society that victimised his people.  However, it does say something about the respect with which he was held by the wider community that he was appointed to the Governor's position. 
His autobiography, The Boy from Cumeragunja is worth reading.  A very interesting book.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

NSW Greats 5 - Don Bradman, Phar Lap, Slim Dusty and some notables

Don Bradman
The link in the title takes you to the Australian Govt culture and recreation website, with some great accessible information about Don Bradman's life and career, in terms the non-cricket tragic can understand!

Well, what can I add about Don Bradman. He is simply a legend. A dead set legend. Don Bradman embodied everything Australians revere. He was an outstanding sportsman with an outstanding sense of sportsmanship. He was modest. He was strong and principled and stood up to bullies without compromising his principles. He was without a shadow of a doubt the greatest cricket batsman to ever set foot on the cricket pitch and far and away our most loved sports person of all time and I really cannot see that changing. His batting average of 99.94 has even the world's greatest batsman in awe. The best have batting averages not much more than half that. He is the God of cricket and not just to Australians. He was simply awesome!

..so how do you "play" a batsman that good? This was a problem that faced Douglas Jardine, Captain of the English team. It was clearly unthinkable, England, home of cricket, masters of the universe, facing an absolute drubbing on their tour down under to play the colonials. .. and lets not be dainty about it, the Australian public weren't the type to hold back, both people and press would be crowing about it and rubbing it in with vulgar relish.

There was always a strong sense in Austrlia that the English thought they were a cut above the "colonials" and lets face it many of them did. It went all the way back to the times when if you were born in England you were referred to - in Australia mind you - as "sterling" and if you were born in Australia you were a "currency" lad or lass ie inferior. It really was a serious divide within Australian society at the time. As you may have noticed from previous entries, it was a long and bitter struggle for Australians to establish a relatively egalitarian society. Consequently there was never a contest that presses more buttons for Australians than a sporting contest against the English. Especially snooty upper crust English - yes, and especially in those days that meant cricket - the sport of gentlemen! It's not like that quite as much these days, that sense of class warfare has pretty much gone from the contest, but it's an important element of the Bodyline tale (.. and well... we do still like beating England at sport LOL).

... so back to Douglas Jardine. He came up with a new strategy. Not against the rules, just so against the spirit of cricket that Australians considered it to be cheating. Leg Theory - or as it was dubbed by the Australian press - Bodyline. It involved the bowler aiming the ball, not at the stumps as was supposed to be the case, but at the body of the batsman, forcing them to duck or be hit. Now to aim a hard cricket ball travelling very very very fast at the body of a person, could potentially kill someone. This wasn't sport anymore this was war.

And the strategy was successful. Batsmen were hit, perhaps in the chest- Bill Ponsford was hit in the temple and it was feared that this loved and respected player might have been killed. To put it mildly the mood in Australia was ugly. There were fears for the safety of the English team. But England was winning, so appeals to the masters of the game safety home in England where they got the scores but couldn't see the play fell on delightedly deaf ears. Perhaps we should note here that some in the English team objected to the tactics and refused to play to them. One player even left the team entirely.

We are very proud to say, that despite the severe provocation, the Australians did not retaliate. They kept going out, ducking, getting hit and suffering on the scoreboard. The series went on and ultimately the tour ended. The issue of Bodyline was not resolved until the Aussies toured England and out came bodyline in front of the home crowd. The English, when they saw it for themselves, were as horrified as the Aussie fans had been and the rules were changed to prevent the use of "leg theory" tactics. And Jardine? Well, Jardine was reviled. It really was a gripping story and there was an outstanding mini-series made which is available on DVD. Obviously the series is called Bodyline.

In the dark days of the depression - and by the way Australia was second only to Germany in how hard we were hit by the great depression - the Don (along with Phar Lap) was a filip to the Australian spirit. The crowds would sing the song penned in tribute to him when he walked onto the pitch. Must have been an amazing atmosphere.

The link a line or two above will take you to a little film clip of the Don giving some advice to young players and film of the crowds and audio of the song.

The song goes like this:

Who is it that all Australia raves about?
Who has won our very highest praise?
Oh is it Amy Johnson, or little Mickey Mouse?
No, its just a country lad that's bringing down the house.
And he's our Don Bradman! Now I ask you, Is he any good?
Our Don Bradman! As a batsman he can sure lay on the wood
Oh when he goes into bat, he knocks every record flat
For there isn't anything he cannot do!
Our Don Bradman! Every Aussie dips his lid to you!!

This is a link to the Bradman Foundation the official Bradman site and operators of the Bradman Museum in Bowral.
Or you can follow the Bradman Trail another official site which gives information about sites of pilgrimage.

Two towns in NSW lay some claim on the Don. The town of his birth is Cootamundra. The house where he was born is now a museum "dedicated to the event" ... (the mind boggles LOL).

But of course Don Bradman is "the boy from Bowral" Bowral is in the Southern Highlands a very pretty area which is a pleasant day trip out of Sydney. Bowral is the location of the Bradman museum, you can visit the house where he grew up and the cricket pitch where he first played.

For most of his adult life, Don Bradman lived and worked in Adelaide and he gave his own collection of memorabilia to the SA Government. It is on display in a purpose built gallery at the State Library of South Australia.
Information and links on these sites are provided on the Bradman Trail site.
There is a link to a biography of Bradman in the title of this section.


While we're about it speaking of personalities that raised spirits during the depression, this seems the logical place to talk about Phar Lap. A Kiwi bred horse foaled near Timaru, he was an ugly duckly bought for a song. We could argue all day about where he belongs in terms of lists, but ultimately his owner was a Sydneysider and he began his racing in Sydney.. so that's my excuse for claiming him for NSW LOL!! Phar Lap was of course a great winner of the Melbourne Cup and his hide is stuffed and on display at the Museum Victoria in Melbourne. His bones were donated to a museum in NZ. The Museum of Australia in Canberra has his heart, which was un-naturally large it turned out, making a literal fact of his strappers claim that he was all heart!

Phar Lap died under suspicious circumstances in the US. Discussion and new theories about Phar Laps death can still raise the attention of Australians today. There's still people doing tests and coming up with theories. Indeed an Aussie grudge that (believe it or not still persists) is the suspicion that the yanks killed Phar Lap. The motive being that the bookies couldn't make money off him. He was a punters sure bet and his owners/trainer would not rig the races - which clearly did nothing to damage the love the people had for Phar Lap during such hard economic times.

It is also useful to know how prominent and popular the horse racing industry was in Australia at the time. The Melbourne Cup is still the race that stops a nation, but general interest in racing is tame now to what it was at the time of Phar Lap. (For Aussies: there was a fascinating documentary series on the ABC some while back, it doesn't appear to be available on DVD, but if you should happen across it, do tune in!)

It is a tribute indeed to have it said of you that you "have the heart of Phar Lap". The govt website reckons that the saying means that you are Australian and proud.. but I reckon they've got that wrong. I say that if you have the heart of Phar Lap you give it everything you've got. Will never give up the chase no matter what, you're a battler fighting against the odds. Phar Lap kept winning no matter the handicap. They kept loading him up with weight and he just kept on keeping on. That's what it means to have the heart of Phar Lap. That explanation on the website is rubbish it's got nothing to do with being Australian!

There is a very good multi media presentation on Phar Lap on the website of the Museum of Victoria.

Never mind who claims him, Phar Lap is a great Anzac icon.


From an internationally revered cricketing God, and the great Phar Lap, we move on to the late great Slim Dusty. A lighthearted addition to this list, which shouldn't be taken toooo seriously.
Slim is the icon of Australian country music. Responsible for the iconic song "The Pub with No Beer" or "Duncan" a song that when I was a teenager had all the generations singing happily along together - now THAT didn't happen often in the charts. Can you imagine Countdown - the regular weekly top of the pops show and about as modern as it got - having the no 1 song a country drinking ditty? LOL just picture it the whole mob at the high school discos bursting forth:

I love to have a beer with Duncan,
I love to have a beer with Dunc
We drink in moderation
and we never ever ever get rolling drunk
We drink at the town and country
were the atmosphere is great
I love to have a beer with Duncan
'cause Duncan's me mate

and on it goes. High culture! But there's other great tunes too, like When the Rain Tumbles Down in July; Redback on the Toilet Seat; or Gumtrees by the Roadway and many many many others. Even those who aren't into country surely love Slim Dusty.

Some notable mentions

Now I'd better bring the NSW list to a close, though I am certain there's many another great New South Welshman we could discuss and when the other jurisdictions are completed I might add some more perhaps. However I would like to add a few notable mentions for my State

Mervyn Victor Richardson - Inventor of the Victa Lawnmower. Yeah, I know foreign readers won't understand this entry - but Aussies surely do!

Sir Douglas Mawson of the antarctic - geologist and explorer

Lawrence Hargrave - aeronautical pioneer and inventor... born and educated in England though.. I guess we really have to share him..

Peter Finch - actor -


Ion Idriess - author - true Australian stories. Very collectable and most them a bloody good read. My favourite source of collectable Idriess is the Read Healer in Echuca Victoria - just in case you want to get in on the act!!

William Charles Wentworth - one of the first great Australian patriots.. oh, and an explorer too.. but he makes my list for his political activism "more than any other man he secured our fundamental liberties and nationhood". William Charles Wentworth was the owner of Vaucluse House, an historic property that can be visited in Sydney.

Dr Victor Chang - surgeon and humanitarian.

NSW Greats 4 - Louisa Lawson and Jesse Street

Back to some more great women this State has produced. 


Feminist, women's rights activist, writer and poet, businesswoman, suffragist.
One of the originals in the fight for women's suffrage in what was then the colony of NSW.   She started her own publication "The Dawn - a journal for women" in 1888 having sucessfully established herself after the end of her marriage and having worked her way up by washing, sewing and taking in boarders before buying shares in and working on a paper called the Republican.  With the Dawn she had finally set up her own publishing house.   As she employed women, including women typographers she had to fight off the objections of the NSW Typographers Assn who did not allow women members.  The Dawn was an instrument of change.  Louisa announced that it would " publicise women's wrongs, fight their battles and sue for their suffrage.  It offered household advice, fashion, poetry, a short story and extensive reporting of women's activities both locally and overseas.  Louisa added a political editorial on the importance to women of the divorce extension bill...: " And Louisa achieved all this while raising 4 children and without any of the labour saving devices we have today.  What a woman!

We can also note here that Louisa was the mother of Henry Lawson, but she needs no name dropping and is a legend in her own right.   She is buried in the Anglican section of Rookwood Necropolis in Sydney. Friends of Rookwood offer themed tours of the cemetary on the first Sunday of the month between March and November.

Her poems are not her claim to fame, but you might be curious to read some of them.


Jesse Street picked up where the likes of Louisa Lawson left off.  She campaigned on equal rights for women and human rights both domestically and across a world stage.   Among her many achievements in 1945 she was instrumental in having the word "sex" in the clause "without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion" wherever it occurs in the Charter of the United Nations.   She campaigned for peace and for aboriginal rights and was influential in organising aboriginal leaders into a national lobby group and (with advice) drafted changes to the Australian Constitution removing discriminatory reference to Aboriginal people.  Her suggested changes where passed in the 1967 referendum.  

Jesse Street was simply an unbelievably capable, courageous woman committed to human rights.  She seemed to have a knack of being wherever in the world there was something going on.  Her biography is probably the most awe inspiring and fascinating biography I have read.  She really had a fascinating and inspirational life.

Unlike Louisa Lawson, Jesse was from a privileged background and was a graduate of Sydney University.  It was by no means the accepted thing for women to be educated to a tertiary level in 1908.  It was at Sydney Uni that she met her future husband who was to become Sir Kenneth Street - Chief Justice of NSW.  Chief Justice of NSW was something of a family occupation. Kenneth's father was Sir Philip Street and Kenneth and Jesse's son was to become Sir Laurence Street ... both of whom were also Chief Justice of NSW. Quite a family .. but I digress.. and perhaps I do Jesse Street an injustice clouding her entry with other personages..  please do read her biography which is linked in the title. I'm sure I haven't done her justice in this little entry.   

I would also like to add just few words in praise of Sir Kenneth Street.  It cannot have been all that convenient in those days to have such a woman as your wife when you are  at the bar and establishing your career or the Chief Justice of NSW and firmly embedded in the establishment and your wife is getting right stuck in, in the political arena and being smeared with names like "Red Jesse".  It does him credit that he allowed his amazing wife the right to her own career. I guess we shouldn't be surprised that their son is a bit of a legend too.

This link will take you to the Jesse Street content on the National Archives website on Uncommon Lives.

NSW Greats 3 - Pemulwuy, Windradyne and Gambu Gunuurru

High time we had some aboriginal representation in this list. 


Pemulwuy, of the Eora people is probably the best known of the resistance fighters and the earliest.  From the Mabo Native Title website:

Pemulwuy was an Eora man, his people immediately affected by the settlement of the Port Jackson area. From 1790 until 1802 Pemulwuy waged a remarkably brave and successful guerilla resistance in what has now become the city of Sydney. His military exploits included attacks on the major inland British settlements of Toongabbie and Parramatta. Eora people credited him with a magical invincibility. He was ambushed, shot and beheaded in 1802.

I once attended a talk by a knowledge keeper of the Dharawal people and his wife (an Irish woman who was researching the uses of indigenous plants).  She/they had some interesting things to say about Pemulwuy.  Apparently Pemulwuy's mother was a knowledge keeper re the medicinal uses of local plants.  Apparently on a number of occassions the colonial authorities thought that Pemulwuy was dead or sure to die and released his body for burial by his family but with treatment by his mother he recovered. They said that on at least one occassion his mother was let in to see the mortally wounded Pemulwuy as he died, then allowed to take his body away.  The assertion was that his mother knew a herb that suppressed the vital signs faking death and she used it.   This same herb was being or to be researched for use in surgery in modern medicine.  I have to say, it felt wrong to describe him as a great  New South Welshman. He was a great Eora man,  born in his own country and nothing to do really with the modern State of NSW.   That aside, he deserves his place here on this list of greats. 

There is also an interesting article about Pemulwuy on the smh website.  This is a link to Pemulwuy's entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.


Again from the Mabo Native Title website - they seem to have a nice succint way to tell the story:

Windradyne was a Wiradjuri, from the central western New South Wales. In the years 1822-3 he and his fellows raided settlers, killing some and terrifying all. The Government's determined response had left 100 Wiradjuri dead by mid 1824, including Windradyne's family. As the hunt for Windradyne continued, several hundred Wiradjuri were killed or wounded along the western side of the Great Dividing Range. The toll was great, and Windradyne and his people soon made a peace accord with Governor Brisbane at a ceremony in Parramatta.

Like Pemulwuy he has an entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, so I have linked there here.  And an excellent detailed (and yet accessible) paper on Windradyne and other resistance leaders from other States here.


Gambu Ganuurru or "red kangaroo" was a great war chief and wise leader of the Kamilaroi prior to white colonisation of Australia. His lands were around the area which is now Gunnedah NSW.   Please follow the link in the title to the wikipedia article on Gambu Ganuurru.  Ion Idriess wrote about this great indigenous leader in The Red Chief - which I am happy to recommend, especially for people venturing out Gunnedah way.  The way Ion Idriess tells it, the security and defence  preparedness of Gambu Ganuurru's tribe had been neglected when he was coming of age, but he saw the peril, proved himself and went on to be a great leader.  I know that's pretty thin, but I don't want to ruin things for people reading the book. ...sorry...

There is a memorial to Gambu Ganuurru near Gunnedah NSW. 

Saturday, May 2, 2009

NSW Greats 2: Dorothea Mackellar and Dame Mary Gilmore

It seems only reasonable given that we've just had two of our most celebrated male poets, to continue on with a couple of female poets.

Dorothea Mackellar has the distinction of having written one of the most evocative poems about Australia ever penned. Australia is known as the sunburnt country christened thus in Dorothea Mackellar's "My Country". To some it may seem a small contribution, this poem, but that's like saying penning Waltzing Matilda was a small contribution. At one time we all learned My Country at school. It is a beautiful beautiful poem that will invariably bring tears to my eyes at least.
Though Dorothea was a Sydney girl, she had family links to the Gunnedah region. There is a statue of her in Anzac Park Gunnedah NSW.

The Dorothea Mackellar poetry awards are held annually for Austrlian school students.

"As patriot, feminist, social crusader and folklorist [Dame Mary Gilmore] has now passed into Australian legend." She is without question one of the great personages to come out of NSW and her story is best understood by reading the above linked biography.

I have to be honest with you and say that before today I was not familiar with Dame Mary's literary works. Of course I have heard of her. Well more than heard of her, she was always very well known. What I had known of Dame Mary I learned from reading about Louisa Lawson (Henry's mother and herself destined for this list of greats). It seems Mary was a fellow feminist and campaigner against injustice and deprivation as well as a poet. Mary had a relationship with Henry Lawson and though it was never substantiated, she claimed that they had been unofficially engaged.... but she didn't get along with his mother. The two women were quite antagonistic to one another.

I have to say that reading her poetry I can see why she gained such a reputation. Do follow the link and read such gems as "The Waradjery Tribe"; "Singapore"; "No Foe Shall Gather our Harvest"; "Marri'd" or "Nationality".

Dame Mary adorns one side of the Australian $10 note.

NSW Greats 1 Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson

When it comes to new south Welshmen, we have an absolute abundance to pick from. This is of course a blessing and a problem, as I was only aiming for 10 great Aussies from each State or Territory. The result will inevitably leave some great people out, but her goes for my personal – home- State list.

Let’s make the first entry about two colourful characters who did not always see eye to eye.

Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson.

Banjo Patterson will of course always be treasured by Australians for his wonderful poetry. Probably best known, certainly in global terms, would be The Man From Snowy River. Most Aussies would surely be able to quote you at least the first line…

“There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around

That the colt from old Regret had got away…”

When tired of reciting it we can always sing it!

And speaking of singing, Banjo Paterson also wrote the words to Walzing Matilda, so for that alone he would be an icon.

There are of course other great favourites of old and young alike. Poems such Mulga Bill's Bicycle; the Man from Ironbark; or the various poems featuring Saltbush Bill (Saltbush Bill JP is just hysterical) and of course Clancy of the Overflow. If you hunt around on the web, you can find such treasures this fabulous rendition of Clancy of the Overflow by Lindsay Radford.

AB Paterson's family wasn't short of a quid, as is reflected by his education - governess and Sydney Grammar. This privileged life gave him a different perspective on the bush to the view held by Henry Lawson who was from a family of battlers. Paterson and Lawson sparred with eachother in verse on the subject.

Both Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson were among quite a group of people published in the Bulletin. By the way, one of the prime movers in the establishment of the Bulletin was one J F Archibald (a Victorian). This same Archibald was responsible for establishing the Archibald Prize (see the link for Archibald) and gave Sydney the Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park. Easily Sydney's favourite fountain. The Bulletin - an iconic Australian in its own right published its last edition in January 2008. Archibald once described the Bulletin as a "clever youth" he later predicted, as he sold his interest, "it will become a dull old man". It seems the readers ultimately agreed.

This being a travel blog, it seems appropriate to note the Banjo Paterson related festivals I have come across. The Mulga Bill Festival is held annually over the last weekend in July in Yeoval NSW and includes a Mulga Bill bike ride!

The Snowy River Festival is held in Dalgety NSW in November.

The Man from Snowy River Bush Festival is held in Corryong Victoria in April.

And of course, the Waltzing Matilda Centre is located in Winton Queensland, where the song was written. Though I have to say their website is fairly useless, you'd hope the centre is an improvement on the website especially given their fairly hefty entrance charge.

Henry Lawson

Henry Lawson was also a poet, but he is even more highly regarded as a writer and wrote quite a number of short stories. Born in the NSW town of Grenfell, in a tent on the goldfields, his family were battlers. It was a life of struggle for the family. Henry Lawson suffered an interrupted education and did not have an opportunity of schooling at all until his mother's "vigorous agitation" resulted in a bark slab school hut being built when he was 8. In addition to the difficulties of schooling, there were also difficulties in health care and as a result of illness Henry suffered a significant hearing loss.

However as is so often the case for those who experience trials and struggles in their life Henry clearly gained in his perceptions and insights which fed his writing, giving him a very different idea of life in Australia to that experienced and perceived by Banjo Paterson. Lawson's poem Faces in the Street is a case in point or Borderland which pointedly counters the upbeat and romantic vision of the country in poems like Paterson's Clancy of the Overflow.

While the Billy Boils is a collection of Lawson's short stories.

Lawson's statue, by George Lambert is usually in the Domain in Sydney (though I know it was moved at least temporarily for the George Lambert retrospective in Canberra a year or so ago). George Lambert is best known as the official war artist of the AIF (Australian Imperial Force) and many of his paintings are held at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Henry Lawson's portrait, commissioned by JF Archibald from Will Longstaff (another Victorian) is in the Art Gallery of NSW. Will Longstaff was a veteran of the South African War (aka Boer War) and WWI and is best known for his paintings of ghostly soldiers such as Menin Gate at Midnight.

Both the towns of Grenfell and Gulgong claim a relationship with Henry Lawson. Lawson's birth place is marked in Grenfell with a small memorial to him in the main street. Grenfell also hosts the Henry Lawson Festival of Arts over the June long weekend. Gulgong gets in on the act with their own Henry Lawson Heritage Festival held on the same weekend. Gulgong has a small museum dedicated to Lawson's life. Both Grenfell and Gulgong are lovely little towns to visit with historic streetscapes.