The Hydro Majestic Hotel

We have had a lot more rain. Days of it. Yet we decided to return to the Blue Mountains. But not for any hiking, or indeed anything outdoorsy. This weekend we paid a visit to what is perhaps the most famous man-made landmark in the mountains. The Hydro Majestic Hotel.

The place was built in 1903  – initially as a health spa – by Mark Foy who made his money in retail. The construction included a steam-driven generator was imported from Germany to produce electricity for the resort and the neighbouring township of Medlow Bath. They say that the Hydro Majestic had working electricity four days before the city of Sydney. The resort also had its own water supply, steam laundry, freezing works, sewerage treatment works and telephone system.

Soon famous people from all over the world were staying at the hotel. In 1920 Australia’s first Prime Minister Sir Edmund Barton actually died in the hotel. The founder, Mark Foy died in 1950 aged 85.

Outside…

The hotel is a series of buildings and additional wings (added over time) stretching 1.1km along the escarpment edge overlooking the picturesque Megalong Valley.

Megalong Valley

Located in the village of Medlow Bath (which has its own railway station), The Hydro Majestic features plenty of art deco inspired decoration and themed rooms. It is like a trip back in time.

It’s going to be hard to get Dani to pose for these kind of photos soon

The Casino Building to the left of the main reception.

Inside…

The hotel reception area has been lovingly restored. There is plenty of seating with views across the valley or at the fireplace while enjoying a drink from the bar. Some of the detail is impressive.

Stairs to some of the rooms
Spacious and luxurious reception
Who doesn’t like an old fashioned radiator?
Reception area view
Attention to detail…

Some of the separate wings of the hotel are linked by well decorated corridors that offer plenty of luxurious space and comfort to relax. These corridors are works of art in themselves.

Salon du Thé

Salon du Thé – The Tea Room

Here are some views of the inside of the Salon du Thé. Opulent and well restored/maintained.

Afternoon High Tea.

We booked for Afternoon High Tea. A very British tradition. But in a place like this it is always very popular. The Salon du Thé is not used for the afternoon high tea. Instead the hotel offers the plush surroundings of the Wintergarden which has panoramic views across the length of the room.

To get to the Wintergarden you enter via the Casino Lobby which is like one large work of art with its domed roof and grand chandelier. The lobby then opens out into the majestic Wintergarden Restaurant.

Casino lobby viewed from the Wintergarden side

The Casino Ballroom was apparently never used for gambling. The magnificent dome was pre-fabricated in Chicago and shipped to Australia.

Casino lobby view to the Wintergarden
Dani’s High Tea
View from Wintergarden
Another view from Wintergarden

The Hydro Majestic Pavilion

Part tourist/souvenir shop, part Harrods Food Hall, part museum, part café. The Hydro Majestic pavilion is probably the first and last part of the hotel complex people see. It sits at the far east side of the complex near the largest car park. It is worth a visit even if you only have time for a quick coffee break on your journey.

So, How Was It?

The High Tea was fairly good value I thought. It cost $65 per adult and the kids version was $35 which included a hot chocolate as opposed to a pot of tea. Definitely very filling.

Would I go again? Yes, of course….

Walking in The Blue Mountains – A Sad Update

Tragic News

Yesterday, just after posting about our walk last Sunday near Lawson in The Blue Mountains, I saw the news of a tragedy that happened in the same area. It involved a British family out walking near Wentworth Falls. I will not go into detail about the incident except to say that two members of the family – the father and his youngest son – lost their lives when they were caught in a landslide. The mother and an older brother were both badly injured. Let’s hope they are both OK. The couple’s 15 year old daughter raised the alarm. She was uninjured (I think) but clearly very distressed. Our thoughts are with them.

This happened on Monday which was another sunny day when people were still keen to partake in outdoor activities like hiking.

The irony is that after so much rain, despite the conditions being far more dangerous than usual, the waterfall at Wentworth would have been fantastic. There were certainly a lot of people out and about in the mountains the day we were there. As I pointed out in the post, after so many day of rain I think people just wanted to get out of the city. We certainly did.

Landslides and rock falls can happen at any time but after so much rainfall the conditions in the mountains are even more dangerous. It’s a risk we so rarely even consider. The bad weather stops and we all come out to play. But also the chance of something like that happening are so small we tend to be too over-confident about our own safety. Food for thought…

The Lawson Waterfalls Circular Walking Track

After so many days of rain and being trapped in Sydney we finally managed to get out of the city last weekend. The weather forecast was sunny so we headed for a walk in the middle of the Blue Mountains.

If you are crossing the Blue Mountains by road (or rail) the town of Lawson sits just about at the half-way mark. Lawson has a population of over two and a half thousand and is a typical Blue Mountains town. The aim of this visit was to walk the south Lawson circular walking track and take in the five main waterfalls on the route.

This is yet another example of how much was achieved all those years ago when these areas were only just being opened up to those living in the city. The track was completed in 1900. So most of what you see is the result of the original hard work. Especially the staircases carved into the rocks. Whatever they do these days, right or wrong, it’s fair to say that way back then they definitely did things well. Of course, these places are subject to flooding and rock falls so require constant maintenance. There was plenty of evidence of that on our walk. Mud, flooding and rock falls made it hard going in places.

The route takes in the four main waterfalls. Junction Falls is actually made up of two different cascades where two streams meet. Hence the name. Notice the two different spellings for one of the falls. Adelina on one sign and Adeline on the other. I believe the correct spelling is Adelina.

The Adelina Falls

With all the rainfall we have had recently there was always going to be enough water to make the falls worth seeing. In the past we have visited waterfalls in the Blue Mountains area when there has been only a mere trickle of water. Obviously when it is raining heavily a day trip to these parts is more or less out of the question. But last Sunday we dropped lucky. It was a fine sunny day for the most part but the amount of rainfall the previous week meant guaranteed photogenic waterfalls.

Another angle of Adelina Falls
Boy inserted into view for scaling purposes.
Junction Falls (1st section)
Dani inserted for a sense of scale.
The second part of the Junction Falls

It’s easy to forget when you are following a reasonably well marked trail that you are actually in the middle of a huge expanse of temperate and tropical forest. Especially when you are looking down to navigate the mud and rock slides. All the while you are completely surrounded by dense vegetation and dramatic gorges. The small towns of the Blue Mountains are great little places. I love them. But they are mere specks in the vastness of this natural wonder.

A quick look around in any direction….
…and there is a reminder that it is basically a jungle out there.

More Falls…

The route we followed was meant to take about one and a half hours, but after stopping for some time at each waterfall and with some tricky parts of the path to navigate (thanks to all the rains) we took almost two hours.

Federal Falls

Federal Falls. Dani was bored of being used as a size scale at this point.
There are plenty of smaller falls in the area. This one was about 3 metres tall.

He will not be willing to do these kind of photos much longer I suspect
The Cataract Falls
Top half of the Cataract Falls

We have visited the Blue mountains many times now but have only just scratched the surface. There is so much more to see there. A great excuse to keep going back – as if one is needed…

Film Review – Sonic The Hedgehog 2

I didn’t think it was that long ago, but it turns out to be over two years since I went to the cinema with Dani to watch Sonic The Hedgehog. February 2020 in fact – click here for that film review. Now that is a bit scary. Anyway the sequel – cleverly called Sonic The Hedgehog 2 – is out in the cinemas here in Australia and naturally we went to see it. Here is our review…

Sonic 2, the sequel

The Plot (etc…)

It helps ( a bit) if you saw the first Sonic movie but probably helps even more if you are familiar with the characters in the Sonic video games. Both Dani and myself ticked both boxes. Myself just (on the video game stuff).

It basically picks up where the first movie left off.

Dr. Robotnic (aka Eggman) – again manically played to perfection by the one and only, kooky Jim Carrey – is marooned on some distant mushroom planet living a miserable existence. Meanwhile Sonic the lovable blue-spined hedgehog is loving his new found home in Green Hills on planet Earth.

Suddenly one of those golden ring portals opens up and several alien baddies enter Robotnic’s otherwise lonely place. He manages to beat them off with some of his clever traps and realises he can jump back through the portal. Until that is, a large shadow appears. Enter Knuckles the echidna. Yes, an echidna. For anyone not familiar with Australian wildlife that’s basically an Aussie version of a hedgehog. Possibly bigger but typically (or oddly) Australian as in it is an egg laying mammal (the only other such creature being the platypus). Anyway the natural history guide is not too important as Knuckles is a similar creature to Sonic. As in, he possesses great video-game-like powers. Most notably huge fists that he uses to batter any opposition. Knuckles is a bit like Thor in the Marvel movie when he first comes to Earth. A combination of simplistic opinions and naivety. Perfect for Dr. Robotnic to manipulate and take advantage of eh? Well, yes. That is a big part of the story.

Initially Knuckles is fooled by the Dr. into helping him escape from the mushroom planet and back to Earth. In return Robotnic agrees to help Knuckles capture Sonic and use him to find ‘The Master Emerald’. This is an ancient powerful emerald that the echidna tribe had long searched for and the one who holds it is able to create things merely by thought. But the emerald was considered too powerful to be allowed into the hands of any tribe. It had therefore been hidden from all alien creatures by the Owl that was Sonic’s old friend and mentor (in the first Sonic movie). Something like that anyway. I kind of zoned out a bit at that point in the movie…

Dani was quick to point out that in the video games Sonic and Knuckles are mates. Probably common knowledge eh? In that case it’s no spoiler alert to say that by the end of the movie they join forces to beat the villainous Robotnic.

Other Things…

A third alien animal enters the script in the form of a two tailed fox called Tails (yeah I know). He has a host of useful gadgets & inventions and has been using one of these inventions to watch Sonic from across the galaxy, for some time and with great admiration. He has come to Earth to help his hero, Sonic. What a coincidence eh? Oh, and by the way, Tails can fly by rotating his twin tails, a bit like a helicopter.

The rest of the movie is basically Sonic and Tails trying their best to find the Master Emerald before Robotnic and Knuckles. It roles along at a decent pace and there are some interesting video game style moments. (Or ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ moments if you haven’t seen the video games.)

The finale sees the three video game creatures using their combined powers and skills to outfox and defeat the evil Dr. That much you can see coming from at least half-way through the film. It wouldn’t be fair to say much more than that. Watch the movie…

Then instead of one alien creature, the Green  Hills town sheriff and his wife (played by the same actors as in Sonic 1) now have three in their “family”. And they all live happily ever after. Or do they?…

Right at the end the FBI officer is told that before Robotnic was defeated he managed to open up some 50 year old FBI file called “Project Shadow” and (perhaps even more fortuitously) released the character that had been created. One known – to all Sega video gamers – as Shadow Sonic. The last thing we see is a capsule containing a black-and-red hedgehog opening up…

So basically, it looks like Sonic 3 will be in cinemas in a year or two. We shall see…

Critique

It’s simple really. It is exactly what you would expect it to be. Just like the first Sonic movie this is an easy and enjoyable watch to anyone who likes the video game and/or Jim Carrey. A good fun action packed family movie. The only negative point (for me, although Dani mentioned it too) was there were far too much reliance on CGI graphics etc… But then a movie about alien video game animals that can talk and do lots of powerful stuff? What do you expect?

Worth 3 (maybe even  4) stars out of 5. Make it 3.5 out of 5.

40 Years Ago Today – Argentina Invaded The Falkland Islands

Exactly 40 years ago today, on April 2nd 1982, Argentinian forces invaded the Falkland Islands. I remember it well. Many of my friends had joined the armed forces on leaving school less than two years earlier. I almost joined them. It was truly one of those “sliding doors” moments. One of those friends headed south on board the flag ship HMS Hermes. He was one of only three 17-year-olds in the Royal Navy task force. Technically still not adults but sent off to fight a war on the other side of the planet over a place few people could find on the map.

As the task force was assembled in double quick time there were still those who thought that it might all be resolved through diplomatic means. But the Argentinian leaders at that time were a weird bunch (even by today’s low standards) and definitely stubborn. It soon became apparent that no amount of diplomacy was going to move the Argentines from those islands. The British forces were going to have to travel all that way and push them off.

The war itself lasted only a few weeks once the fighting began. The British victory indirectly brought about an end to the brutal regime in Argentina. It led to something more like democracy and in a sense Argentina came out of it a better country. The Argentinian people ultimately won a different kind of victory.

My Friend?

My friend made it back safely. He has worked happily in a private hospital in recent years. Most did make it back but there were quite a lot of casualties on both sides. War is a real bastard like that.

The Falklands conflict (as it was known – they never really called it a “war”) was, I believe, a just one. Certainly when compared to pretty much every other war British troops have been involved in since.  Foreigners had invaded a British dependency and needed to be taught a lesson. At that time Britain never really had the full backing of its NATO allies. Not in the same way as we hear it said these days; in that if any NATO country is attacked they are all in it together.

Today we seem to be staring down the barrel of a gun again. But not for a NATO ally. There are wars in several parts of the world. The one the media will not stop talking about as well as those that they prefer to not even mention. The end result is always the same however. More human suffering.

Back in the early 1980s we were always told how money was so tight and there was never enough for old age pensions, schools and hospitals. Yet it was amazing how there was suddenly enough to equip a full blown task force, send it across the globe and fight a war. Losing many huge and expensive ships, planes, helicopters and of course lives. The exact same scenario exists now. After two years of total mismanagement, the government will decide that money will not be a problem and they will pour money you never knew existed into another war.

For me, this raises a serious question: If they can find all of this money for these wars seemingly out of thin air, why do we have to pay taxes?

Reflection

All of those forty years ago I remember that some people thought it was a delayed April Fools joke. Most people thought that the Falkland Islands were off the coast of Scotland – which of course they are. Just some 8,000 fucking miles off the coast of Scotland. But it remains proudly British. Perhaps more so than ever.

I have visited Argentina a few times in more recent years. It’s a country I love and a place where I made an unusual observation. It is only my own personal view, but of all of the places I have been, I have never seen another country where the people are so similar to my own fellow countrymen. I think the two peoples have more in common than most any other pair of countries.  Odd that eh?

NSW Rail Museum, Thirlmere

Several weekends back we finally got to visit the New South Wales Railway museum at Thirlmere.

Previous attempts to visit the rail museum were thwarted by… you know what… Finally the place is taking paying tourists once again. We went for the ‘museum plus train ride’ option.

The train was an old diesel locomotive with carriages from the 1950s. We only travelled about 20 minutes – a couple of stops on this old line – then the engine shunted to the front of the train to go back. All good fun for the kids to watch. And quite a few interested parents. The line was a former part of the rail network that had been closed down over the years. Most of it has recently been reactivated which is great news for the small villages along its route. Eventually it should form a loop that joins the main line.

The parents were probably more interested in the train coupling.

In May they have five days of fun with Thomas & Friends. That would be funny. I still remember Dani’s encounter with Thomas, Diesel and the Fat Controller way back when he was still a toddler. For some reason that trip never made this blog and I really can’t think why… Anyway, I suggested a return visit to Thirlmere for one of those ‘Thomas days’.

“No way” he said. “I don’t like Thomas any more.”  Funny how kids not only grow out of things, but also come to think that they dislike them. I am sure he would love it but I won’t be pushing it….

Steam

As you would expect there are quite a few steam trains on display. One was used by Queen Elizabeth when she visited Australia back in 1954. She was the first (and still only) reigning monarch to visit Australia. Alongside that train was an example of a prison transport carriage. Two completely different modes of train transport.

The locomotive that took Queen Elizabeth on her tour
Dani inside the prison train wagon

And here’s my favourite…

This next one was an odd looking part of the collection. This was basically a mini-bus on rails. Six were built by the Waddington Body Company in 1937 initially to carry passengers but that only lasted about a year. Powered by a Ford V8 petrol driven engine this funny little rail mobile was then given a very important job.

The FP1 ‘Rail Pay Bus’

All six would travel more or less the full rail network every two weeks to deliver rail staff wages. It as effectively a wages van on the railway lines. They were fitted with cash safes bolted directly to the chassis and the vehicle became known as the “Rail Pay Bus”.

I bet I know what you are thinking. Yes, sure enough, one was blown up by thieves in 1941, while war with the Japanese was distracting most people. But they were unable to open the safe.

This Rail Pay Bus was known as FP1
Bon voyage…

Return From the River Kwai – Book Review

Almost two years ago I wrote about a real Second World War story. That story puts most of what has been deemed newsworthy over those past months into perspective. It involved my grandmother’s brother; my great-uncle. You can read that article here. I found a copy of the book about those events and read it a while ago. The book is called “Return from the River Kwai” and finally, I decided to review it…

Note: Check the lists of British and Australian survivors below. You, or someone you know,  may be related to one of them. 

Book Review

It was written by an American husband and wife, Joan and Clay Blair and published in 1979. It is based on interviews with the survivors and those who rescued them.

The book can be considered in several parts. Firstly it covers the decision by the Japanese to select 2,000 of the strongest prisoners working on the infamous Burmese railway, to be shipped to Japan where they would be used as slaves for the Japanese war effort. Most prisoners had already been worked to death or close to it. It covers the journey by road and train to a suitable port for transportation. 

The second part of the book covers the journey by sea where the convoy is struck by American submarine torpedoes. Two of the ships carrying prisoners sink and the men fight for survival against the sea, the weather, lack of food and water and the perils of the deep. The survivor’s stories of bravery, desperation and often horrific attempts to remain alive are both shocking and sad. Many went delirious through dehydration. Others making life and death decisions based on who could manage with least help. The badly injured, that constantly needed tending to, were allowed to slip into the sea so that others could be saved. Even as men clung to small lifeboats they were rammed by other Japanese navy ships in the convoy. 

The book then covers the American submarines (and their crews) that were in the area to disrupt any Japanese convoys. We get to read the submarine captain’s stories leading up to the attacks on the Japanese convoys. Later we read about how those same submarines searched desperately for survivors once they had learned the truth behind the terrible events. They destroyed the prisoner carrying vessels and ultimately rescued the last survivors, pulling their pitiful bodies from the sea.

Only 152 lived to tell their stories.

Not all were rescued by friendly sailors. Some prisoners were picked up by Japanese ships. They thought they were the lucky ones at that moment. However, they ended up completing their journey to Japan to be freed after the war. Once there they were paraded before the locals. In the words of one of those men; “We were so degraded and humiliated that I did not know whether the locals looked at us with pity or disgust…”

Finally there is the return home. For the British this included a spell of rest and recuperation in Honolulu before a trip across America to the east coast. The final leg, a six day crossing of the Atlantic on the Queen Mary. For the Australians it meant a return home directly by sea.

The Mental Scars…

I always wondered and sometimes asked my dad why he never told me more of this brutal real life story. Why hadn’t his uncle told him more? I wanted to know more and my curiosity, I believe, was fair. Why had nobody ever really mentioned it? 
After reading the book I can see why. It is all too clear now. Those men were truly tortured. Physically, during their incarceration. And mentally, for many years after – if not for the rest of their natural lives. Most people just do not want to talk about such things. Many cannot bring themselves to do so. It is clear from the book that some of those interviewed spoke freely while many struggled to recollect the whole episode.  

During their escape – if that is even the correct word – adrift at sea, some went mad. Others drank the blood of the dead on their makeshift rafts. Still others just gave up and flung themselves into the unforgiving sea. Seemingly taking their own lives – or letting the ocean do it for them. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that they believed that they were finally freeing themselves after such a nightmare. In captivity treated worse than animals, and now left to die slowly of thirst and sunstroke. 

The book does not only relate the journeys and personal battles of the British and Australian prisoners. There are whole sections detailing how the American submariners tracked and sank the Japanese ships carrying the forlorn servicemen. They were not aware that these ships were carrying allied prisoners of war. As far as they knew they were carrying the plundering loot of occupied countries back to Japan. For they knew that the ships were cargo vessels and what’s more those ships were being escorted by the Japanese navy. Without knowing the true identity of the ships’ cargoes they were all fair game.

The chapters that follow the rescues are intense and deeply moving. The American naval personnel had not seen such horrors during their time at sea. They were deeply shocked at the sight of what remained of the British and Australian men. It clearly left a huge and lasting impression on the Americans.  

These final sections are also uplifting as the men are nursed back to health. So many simple things we take for granted, like ice cream, brought such joy to the battered survivors. Even though, at that time, such seemingly trivial treats were quite common on the US submarines. The Americans were only too happy to give these semi-corpses anything they could. 

This book is very well researched and serves as a warning of what can happen during times of war. Some of the first hand accounts from the survivors are incredible. Almost unbelievable. But you can see that they happened. As you read it all, it is easy to see how some men can take such brutality and misfortune better than others. We are all different but every man has his limits. How these men managed is something I will probably never understand. And there  cannot be many who can or ever will. There is often talk of ‘the horrors of war’ and most of us are fortunate enough to have escaped such events. But what these men endured was something more than that. It was constant abuse and mistreatment, again and again over a long period and in various forms. Some of it was man’s own inhumanity to other men. It was also everything the brutal forces of nature could throw at them; the extreme weather, the terrifying sea and the predators that lurked within its depths.

I am glad I read this book and I can recommend it. Even though it is a difficult subject to read at times it is also an emotional and joyous ending for those who were tough enough – lucky enough –  to make it.

Final thoughts…

Two main things struck me while I read this book. One was how the survivors dealt with it all later in life. The other is the comparison of those heroes and how people are today.

The men recuperated before being returning home. At least physically. Back then there was no such thing as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Back then such men just got on with their lives. Even if they avoided talking about their wartime activities they would never have been able to erase the memories of the horrors. Many would have had trouble sleeping.

I understood why my family never spoke of it all those years ago. Some of the survivors just did not want to. Very few felt comfortable (if that is even the right word) talking about it. That was very evident when reading the book.  The vast majority just wanted to forget about it or at least try. And who can blame them?

I also read this book during what was the initial coronavirus/Covid “pandemic” lockdown. At that time it was not as bad here in Australia as in other countries such as the UK, but it was still all over the news – wall to wall, 24/7. In more recent months of course the lockdown mania spread to this part of the world too. It was impossible to read the book without thinking how pathetic people now are in the 21st century. Comparing the way some people have behaved (and still are behaving), terrified of catching a bad common cold/flu-like virus, just makes the story of these brave men even more heroic. 

And what about the liberty these men fought and died for? Freedoms that have been so eroded this past two years? What would the heroes of this true story have made of it all?

Survivors

Here are the lists of survivors taken from the book. Maybe you have a family member is in these lists. Or maybe you know someone that may have a relative in the lists. If so, they will have been interviewed and contributed to this book…

List of British survivors
List of Australian survivors.

I would be interested to hear from anyone who has a relative on these lists. Please feel free to get in touch.

And The Movie?

Finally I need to mention the movie. The (1989) movie that was based on the true events of this book and does cover the overall events fairly well. However it is still a movie and as such it has nowhere near the same impact as the book. Although as recent as 1989 the film seems very dated and I believe that this true story should be remade by Hollywood. In more recent times film-making has improved considerably and a good, gritty remake would do this book justice.
Note: For its time the movie is not nearly as good as ‘The Bridge Over The River Kwai’ – which while based on the very real and infamous Thai-Burma railway, is in fact purely fictional.

Bilby vs Bunny. An Easter Dilemma?

In a few weeks it will be Easter. Of course the supermarkets and the shops have been full of chocolate eggs and other chocolate Easter treats for some time. (Probably right after Christmas but I wouldn’t notice.) Sitting on the shelves among the chocolates is the traditional Easter Bunny. But here in Australia the Easter Bunny has a local rival. The chocolate Bilby. (See also the post on the Rabbit Plagues in Australia – here.)

Bilby

The bilby is an indigenous animal and, like most such creatures, that means it is unique to Australia. Its habitat has been greatly affected by the introduction of the rabbit to this continent. Those cute and cuddly bloody rabbits have a lot to answer for.

A bilby looks like an odd mixture of several animals – a bit like the platypus. Ironically the bilby has rabbit-like ears. The body looks mostly like a mouse or rat and the nose is an elongated snout. If that isn’t crazy enough for you, its hind legs are similar to those of a kangaroo. They don’t hop like kangaroos however, but tend to lope along (again, ironically) like a rabbit walking.

Males are about twice the size of the females. On average males measure 55 cm (22 in) long, excluding the tail, which is usually around 29 cm (11 in) long. There used to be two types of bilby. The lesser bilby became extinct in the 1950s. The greater bilby survives but is endangered and is currently listed as a vulnerable species.

Why the Chocolate Bilby? 

One of the many types of Chocolate Bilby now on sale.

So, back to the Easter chocolate bilby. We know why there are Eater bunnies. They came here with Europeans as a traditional part of Easter. But due to the rabbit plagues in Australia over the years, the bilby is one of the native animals that has suffered.

Part of the idea for the chocolate Easter Bilby is to raise awareness and money to help protect the bilby. The Easter Bilby is now gaining popularity, with some chocolate bilbies raising money for conservation efforts.

Bilbies not Bunnies

A group called Rabbit Free Australia (RFA). The RFA has adopted the bilby as its mascot to highlight how rabbits have forced the native creature closer to extinction.

Also helping to solve the problem is Haighs Chocolates, which helps fund the RFA through its Easter Bilby sales. Haighs chief executive Alister Haigh has said the Easter Bilby was its number one selling Easter line, with sales 10 times greater than sales of its Easter rabbits ever were.

Haigh’s produce chocolate chickens, eggs and bilbies. But no bunny. they have been rabbit-free for over 15 years.

So here’s the dilemma folks…

So the poor bunny rabbit is public enemy number one. Something to think about when you are buying Easter chocolates in Australia. Surely buying a chocolate bilby is great as it helps the native species survive. Another way to look at it could be that if buy a chocolate bilby that is helping to kill real rabbits. All a bit too traumatic for kids eh? Adults need to make the right choice. But don’t be too concerned about the bunnies. Let’s just say that the rabbit is not even close to being an endangered species. Here in Australia or anywhere else. Personally I am going full on Bilby!

And if you think killing the rabbits is cruel just check out the history of how the Bunny came to be such a symbol of the Easter festival…

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more ridiculous

Plenty of bizarre things that have happened this past couple of years. But this one beats them all – for me at least. I first heard about it when a friend sent me a youtube video of someone in the UK making fun of something in Australia. Namely NSW State Emergency Services (SES).

With all the floods going on at the moment people all over the place are being evacuated. You would expect that the SES were prepared to accept any volunteers that were fit and capable of lending a hand. Right?

Wrong!

It seemed that volunteers to help the SES were being turned away if they have not been “fully vaccinated” with the covid vaccine(s). I couldn’t believe it. Well, what can you believe these days? On the mainstream media, never mind “social” media eh? So in the true spirit of investigative journalism I decided to ask the question on one of those forms on the NSW SES website. Oh, and because my son may not believe this when he is older, so here it is on the  record….

Strap Yourself In…

I will let you make your own minds up but I do have some thoughts below… But first, here is their response.

Dear Chris

Thank you for your correspondence regarding mandatory vaccination for NSW SES members.

The NSW SES is unwaveringly committed to the safety of its citizens, and the protection of our emergency services personnel from COVID-19. The current storms and floods demonstrate how important it is to keep our emergency services personnel healthy, so they in turn can provide vital support to our communities.

As an employer, NSW State Emergency Service (NSW SES) also have a responsibility to ensure the safety of its staff and volunteers. NSW SES implemented a policy mandating COVID-19 vaccination for its members in November 2021 requiring all members be double-vaccinated by 17 December 2021.

Before any decision was made on mandatory vaccination, NSW SES undertook a COVID Safe Risk Assessment and consulted Members, the NSW SES Volunteer Association, and the NSW Public Service Association.

NSW SES Members were extensively consulted about the decision to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations. More than 80% of respondents indicated they would feel safer if vaccination was mandated for NSW SES Members.

NSW SES continues to consider applications for medical contraindications of staff and volunteers if submitted via the NSW Heath COVID-19 contraindications form available at health.nsw.gov.au. Special waiver arrangements for staff are considered on a case by case basis.

Please be assured that the ability of the NSW SES to continue to meet the needs of the community which we serve has not been impacted by the mandatory vaccination requirements for its members.

I hope that this advice has helped address the issues that you raised.

Thank you for taking the time to bring this matter to the NSW SES’s attention.

Regards

WHS Team

I deliberately highlighted part of that reply in red: “NSW SES Members were extensively consulted about the decision to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations. More than 80% of respondents indicated they would feel safer if vaccination was mandated for NSW SES Members.”

There is an old saying that goes something like this: ‘That is the right answer to the wrong question’. In this case that saying is very true.

I am quite sure at the height of the panic and fear-mongering that 80% of people might ‘feel safer’ if everyone around them was vaccinated for a (supposedly) deadly & highly contagious disease. And they only “indicated” that they would feel safer. They may well have also thought/said that they are not really bothered.

But now?

  1. When everyone knows that being vaccinated makes virtually no difference: The incidence of covid “cases” has been way higher since there has been 95% (we are told) of the population vaccinated, than before. Those figures are out there. The “official” NSW Health data, not mine…
  2. When we all now that it is not the deadly disease we were told.

Why don’t they take that question back to the same people again? After all, things like this in work unions regularly get taken back to their members. Better still, perhaps they should ask a different question. Like, ‘Do you care if anyone else working to save lives and fight fires/floods (or any other disaster) has been vaccinated against covid – or any other disease come to think of it?’ Yeah. That would be  better question.

As a rider they could ask a second question: ‘Are you ok in shops, pubs, supermarkets and generally walking around the streets knowing there are unvaccinated people out there?’ Because, of course, that is exactly what is going on.

Even more amazing is this. The people that the emergency services volunteers will now be rescuing from flooded houses may not be vaccinated. Or are the stupid f*#kers asking them before attempting to save them?  Maybe they are and maybe they are leaving them to fend for themselves. Best of all, are the people being rescued asking the SES team if they are “fully vaccinated”? Imagine the scenario…

“What? You are not? Then get that f*#cking helicopter hoist off me and f*#k off. Send me a fully vaccinated volunteer or I’ll just stay here and drown. And by the way; make sure the helicopter has been fully deep cleaned.”

And why not? After that email, I now think anything is possible. Really!

Don’t get burnt…

So unvaccinated cannot help to fight deadly fires either. It all falls under the same banner. But you can presumably have herpes, AIDS, maybe good old fashioned TB or any other disease,  and they are not at all interested. As long as you have taken the covid jab(s).

Next summer if you are caught in a bushfire with flames leaping up your clothes, and someone from the SES comes to hose you down, please be sure to check that they are “fully vaccinated” before they put out the fire.

I’m not even going to go into any of the rest of that email response… Make your own minds up. In fact, feel free to go onto the NSW SES website and file your own online question…

The Village of Eugowra – A Living Art Gallery

Walking the streets of the village of Eugowra is like strolling around an open-air art gallery. Everywhere you look there are works of art painted (mostly) on the walls. The whole place is like a living art gallery.

I think I am going to start a new page in this blog. Called “Places Dani’s Nana Would Like”. This post will definitely be filed under that page.

Eugowra 

The small town is about 340 km west of Sydney and about 36 km east of Forbes. It has a population of less than 1,000 (around 800).

As you are probably aware there is a fairly recent trend in Australia for (mostly) small rural towns to use the big old silos and water towers as giant canvasses for artwork. We have seen several of them and I have posted about the new art craze here...
There is none of that in Eugowra, but they have made a real effort to paint a multitude of murals all over town. Many are related to the buildings they are pained on others depict historical events or characters from the region.

Aside from the noticeable artwork, Eugowra is one of those lovely small towns that it would be hard not to like. Even though it was raining hard while I passed through my immediate thoughts were ‘what a nice little place’ (or words to that effect). I challenge anyone to think differently.

The town takes pride in being a place where bushrangers once hung out. A kind of ‘badge of honour’ like those worn by anywhere related to that most famous bushranger of all Ned Kelly.

Anyway enough of the talk here are some rain-soaked photos of most of the town’s murals. Plus a few other shots. Enjoy…

Another “Welcome” sign. This place calls itself “The Village of Murals”

The village swimming pool has two murals…

…both water themed. Naturally.

School mural

Two views of The Gentle Cow Café…..

A tribute to the cars of yesteryear. Suitably on the wall of a garage/car dealers

Now a supermarket and newsagents this was once the Imperial Theatre.

Side of the old cinema (Imperial Theatre) with movie poster paintings

This mural depicts the biggest gold robbery to take place in Australia.

Also on the old theatre building

More detail on theatre history…

Even here there are some run-down empty shops

A Ned Kelly statue guards the entrance to a café

Art Deco designed Escort Rock Café

The fantastic Central Hotel/Pub

Bushranger past: The Gardiner Gang operated in the Eugowra area

The Country Women’s Association building

Presumably the railway station used to be near this spot

No mural but a great old building.