photography a girl on a swing over a canyon
Australia, blogging

Time for a “Me Too,” styled campaign in Australia?

Photo by Shamia Casiano on Pexels.com

I am disappointed that the way women are treated in Australian politics, appears to be regressing. Last week, the Prime Minister interrupted our female Families Minister, when journalists directly asked HER, for HER view, on the sexist culture in Parliament. He interjected and directed debate in the way that would divert attention and benefit him before allowing her to answer the media’s question.

After being interuppted by the PM, this is what the families Minister Anne Ruston finally said when she got to be heard.

“Well, I can only reflect on my own experience since I’ve been in this place since 2012, and I have to say I have always felt wholly supported while I’ve been here,” she said.

Anne Ruston

Is her skirt on fire?

In 2019, he gagged a female Minister, (by his own admission), for tactical reasons and kept her out of the limelight for the duration of the election campaign. She was out of favour. It was best for her not to say too much, or anything really.

Is our leader a misogynistic politician, or a master manipulator and campaign Bull terrier? You tell me.

It seems that when female politicans on one side of politics do get to speak, they know not to say too much. A sideways look from their fearless leader is enough for them to watch their words around the Prime Minister. This is the Prime Minister’s domain. He diverts attention. A sympathetic media does not always highlight his retrograde attititude.

However, the misogynist attitude hasn’t entirely escaped notice. Satirists at the ABC televised this somewhat humourous segment, which could be closer to the truth than any of us would like to believe.

Ex Independent politician Tony Windsor had the following tweet:

Another example of how power works against women….

17 yr old harrassed by [former Deputy P.M] Joyce in Canberra pub in ladies Toilet

> Mother is [Prime Minister] Scomo’s LNP blind follower

> Complaint is shut down by Georgie Somerset – Quid pro quo

> Somerset is promoted to ABC TV Board.

> Julie Bishop’s (former Deputy LNP PM)’s brother hi flyer in Clayton Utz [a law firm] > 17 year old Girl now works @ Cl Utz.

> All quiet.

There is a history of Inaction by senior staff and politicians from Tony Windsor:

Abbott (as P.M.) knew …did nothing

Credlin (as female assistant to P.M.) knew ….did nothing

Turnbull (as P.M.) knew …did nothing

Emails exist Morrison (current P.M.) knew ….done nothing

Georgie Somerset knew….got promoted as voice of Australian rural women. ..and the [culture] caravan moves on.

Tony Windsor – Twitter

And now the Four Corners TV program has alleged the Attorney General has been making unwanted advances to female staffers.

A Four Corners investigation reveals concerns about Christian Porter’s attitude towards women, dating back decades. His alleged behaviour includes making unwanted advances to women while in federal office. Mr Porter released a statement denying the claims made against him.

Four Corners

It may NOT even be investigated.

That seems to be a sh*tload of powerful people and politicians, not coming forward to speak out. No doubt there is more of this, on both sides of Australian politics. N.B. Cyranny.

#cleanupyouract

#metoo

Australia, Food

As Aussie as Meat Pie

It is 1996 and I’m a young mum with two small sons. They’re two demanding boys, with big ideas and fertile minds. They want to play, but it’s time to prepare dinner for the family.

The oldest boy turns back to set up electrical circuits with batteries and LED light bulbs, whilst the smaller son, Master Three, gathers soft toys, from his prodigious collection, that would be the envy of any Sesame Street cast member and sets up a puppet show singing tunes of Thomas the Tank Engine. I turn back to the stove.

Besides the two boys and the Moth, there is a third child in the house.

Typical Danish country Church

I have a daughter I am about to lose. She is not mine, but one I am caring for and have grown so fond of. In less than a week from this night, she will return home to Denmark and we will miss her dreadfully.

Over the eleven months she lived in our family as a Danish Exchange student, we learnt things about Danish life and travelled to a gazillion Aussie places to show her as much of Australia as one can do, with two small boys in tow.

For her last meal on Australian soil, she asks if I can serve her an Aussie Meat Pie. Nothing fancy, just a Meat pie.

She tells me that there are no Meat pies served in Denmark and laments that she will miss those piping hot, oh-so-tender meaty chunks, steeped in rich gravy and covered with a rather messy, get-it-all-over-your-lap, flaky style pastry. Later that week, she eats that pie topped with blood-red squirts of tomato sauce. Yes, that means ‘ketchup,’ but it’s never called that here.

Meat Pie Etiquette

There are unwritten rules about how one should eat a meat pie, especially at the footy.

  1. Take off the pie top and eat.
  2. Squirt tomato sauce on top of meat.
  3. Eat tomato-sauce topped meat from inside the pie
  4. Eat the meatless pie crust last

When our dear “exchange daughter,” returns to visit us in a few years, her first request is:

“Can we have Meat pie for dinner?”

Origins of the Australian Meat Pie

An Australian meat pie was produced in 1947 by L. T. McClure in a small bakery in Bendigo and became the famous Four’ n Twenty pie. … Other manufacturers predate this, and the pie manufacturer Sargent can trace their pie-making back to 1891.

Wiki

Whatever its origin, Meat pie is as Aussie as a “snag” on the Barbie, as Kangaroos, AFL, (Australian Football), and Holden ‘utes.’ Which reminds me of a song, one that Bushboy might recognize?

Making a Meat Pie

I’ve not made a meat pie myself, so I have no special recipe to share. (Sorry to disappoint you, Sandy). For many years, I was vegetarian and I completely lost the taste for eating any kind of meat. But then the Geebung bakers came along and ruined my meat-free diet.

Trying to emulate the lofty cooking skills of The Bun ‘n Oven bakery, (in the very iconically named suburb of Geebung, in Queensland), or the highly acclaimed piemakers of The Yatala Pie Company, would be doomed to failure. These bakers are Kings in creating a flaky, melt-in-your-mouth pie pastry with top quality ingredients. [And no, this is not a paid advertisement.]

Meat pies are found on offer at most Bakeries in Australia, along with the Lamington, another iconic Aussie food. Although you may find dubious imitations of meat pies, in the frozen section of any supermarket, you might need a cast-iron stomach to tolerate those of lesser quality.

Meat Pie Accompaniments

Some Australians prefer their Meat pies served with Mushy Peas atop, something that is more English than Australian, or a cottage pie, with potato and a sprinkle of cheese.

Classic.

Boringly, a Meat pie in our family NEEDS to be served with lashings of mashed potatoes and green peas. It’s essential, (according to the Moth), and he refuses to eat one without these mundane accompaniments.

In a modern world, where kale and chia seeds might reign supreme, this humble dish, with its high cholesterol reputation and high-fat content, is fast becoming less popular with Australians.

Readers brave enough to take on the Geebung Bakers could try this Meat pie recipe.

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lavender products
Australia, Community

Something to Smile About

If you want to find other blogs of interest and read fun, uplifting and positive things that are happening in the world, head on other to Trent‘s collection of Weekly Smiles.

Because…….

We all need good news stories at the moment. Right?

This week I joined in on a free Qi Gong Exercise class on the beach at sunrise. This group practises every day at the same time, and the best part is that it is totally free. No strings attached, no hidden agenda, just a wish to have a community activity that would include and welcome all.

It started with a few ladies who were going through Breast Cancer rehabilitation and has grown to include a dedicated group of instructors and attendees. The oldest is 88 years old and is an instructor on the weekend. She pulls in the bigger crowds. She is inspirational and takes me to task, in a gentle way, if I am not doing the exercise correctly.

And although it is gentle – meditative almost, I feel it in my gluteal muscles the next day! So it has to be doing something.

And I am still smiling.

The other surprise I had was to receive a generous gift of aromatherapy lotions and creams from Utama Spice in Bali. This is the first free gift I have ever received as a blogger so it certainly made me smile. It was the perfect timing as I was just writing about lavender at the Home by the Sea, recently.

lady in hat with flowers
Australia, Gardening

Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers

If you have stopped here for information on the Carnival, you may be disappointed. I missed the Carnival of Flowers itself, so there are no pictures of the annual parade, but what I did see is stunning floral displays that are the dominant feature of this event in Toowoomba, a large country town, about an hour’s drive west of Brisbane, Australia. I arrived two days after the festival officially concluded. By the looks of the displays, the flowers are quite oblivious of the carnival’s end date.

The city of Toowoomba sits atop a mountain range and is blessed with cooler temperatures and rich volcanic soil, perfect for horticulture. The major horticultural event, The Carnival of Flowers, draws thousands of visitors to the city’s generous parks and gardens.

Whilst the historically wealthy country town has monolithic bluestone churches, funky alleys and quirky street art, it is the stunning floral display in late September that draws most of the region’s visitors.

Laurel Bank Park

Amongst neat and tidy lawns and prolific flower beds at Laurel Bank Park, on Hill Street, you will find plenty of seating for those who need a rest from taking a multitude of floral camera shots that one is apt to do given the spectacular displays.

Displays of Tulips, Poppies, Foxgloves and Hollyhocks take me back to memories of Denmark or The Netherlands, albeit without the rainy weather.

This is Australia, remember. The continent where it forgot how to rain!

Like many parts of Australia, Toowoomba has experienced, for many years, a severe water shortage. This has resulted in the Gardeners, at Laurel Bank Park, adopting stringent water-saving strategies and switching to growing more water-tolerant plants in order to maintain the floral displays to the expected standard. It seems that they have succeeded in their quest.

Topiary elephants, seals and the Leaning Tower of Pisa add a fantasy element to the gardens. Can you guess what this topiary represents? It is rather Australian and Danish!

Toowoomba Botanic Gardens

Cherry Blossoms line the Toowoomba Botanic Garden’s at Queens Park. The entry path offers the visitor a visual explosion of multi-coloured Ranunculus, inviting you to explore more of the gardens. The pathway then opens to rows and rows of flowering beds with daisies, violets and pansies.

It seems one lonely tulip bulb missed the memo.

Snapped at the right, or perhaps, the wrong moment. Street photography in Toowoomba can be surprising.

I have so many questions about the man’s pickle. Not a sign of a picnic basket or lunch box anywhere. Where was he keeping it? So random and fun!

There is so much our country towns can offer us. We only have to look closer, before lamenting we can not travel outside our own borders. This is another of the country towns that offer unique experiences, similar to Amandine Lavender farm at Bargara, near Bundaberg, which I posted about recently.

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Australia, blogging

Ending a Friendship

Recently at the Home by the Sea, I met a new friend. So that he can remain anonymous, I’ll call him, ‘Old Mate,’ (as we sometimes do in Australia).

Most people who met Old Mate, thought him brash and cocky, but I was utterly charmed by his youthful exuberance. He’d entered my world uninvited and I’d welcomed and even encouraged him to visit me whenever he liked. “My door is always open. Come over anytime,” I told him nonchalantly.

Perhaps that was my mistake? I can be naive about such things.

Being a good neighbour, or so I thought, I’d offered him food and refreshments whenever he rocked up. He really did like that. So much so, that he brought his partner over to meet us. We were chuffed.

Both Old Mate and his partner were talented singers and would regularly entertain us when they popped in. It was obvious they were planning to settle nearby and start a family. I was looking forward to sharing their world and continuing our wonderful friendship.

I had no inkling that Old Mate would take liberties with our friendship in a way no one else has done before.

It came to a head this week.

Jumping around on my Dining table was, to say the least, extremely unsettling, so I was forced to do something I’ve never done before: I told Old Mate he had to leave – ordering him out of my house.

He didn’t take my announcement well: becoming angry and flustered, making excuses to check out several rooms in the house, before finally agreeing to leave.

That was the final straw. I abruptly terminated our friendship.

I feel bad. I miss him, but it has to be this way.

My door is now closed.

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grass amongst mangroves at the beach
Australia, blogging, Photography

Friendly Friday Challenge- Splendour in the Grass

So often we walk around in nature failing to notice the details, the grass under our feet.

Subtle changes in colour and appearance indicate the passing of the seasons. Many varieties of grass remain invisible, yet are an integral part of the natural landscape.

Senga Grass at Mt Hakone

The theme for this week’s Friendly Friday challenge is:

‘Splendour in the Grass’

grass in close up Australia

Using Grass to Frame a Landscape in Photography

In photographic terms, grass can be used to frame the shot or make an interesting feature in the foreground.

This ‘Moon viewing,’ photo captured during the Tsukimi festival in mid-Autumn, in Japan.

Japanese Senga Grass Fields at Mount Fuji

The Japanese find Splendour in the Sengakuhara Pampas Grass, by strolling along a walking trail, at the western side of Mount Hakone. For it is here that the changing colour of the tall grass offers stunning vistas. In November, the grass turns a shimmering, silvery gold. Wedding proposal and selfies abound at this time of year.

Australian Splendour

In Australia, a country fringed by blue oceans, you will find grass the colour of sunburnt earth, which often makes me yearn for the vivid fluorescent green grass of wetter climates.

Birch
Birch Trees and Grass in Helsinki – so green

Australian deserts display different kinds of saltbush grass.

Australian Desert grasses and Saltbush

In the arid conditions of the Australian landscape, plants have adapted to grow under extreme conditions, such as the grass tree.

Grass Trees in Australia

Grass Trees in their natural habitat

A relic of the Age of Dinosaurs, Xanthorrhoeas, also known as the Grass Tree, grow very slowly and are resistant to bushfire. In fact, fire helps the grass tree produce its flowers. They also have a unique symbiotic relationship with the soil. The presence of a mycorrhizal microbe in the soil around their roots allows them to flourish, even if the soils are nutrient-poor.

Grass Trees in the Garden

Grass Trees are highly sought after in Australian horticulture and as such are often illegally removed from their natural locations. They fetch high prices as ornamental plants. Little do the owners realize that if the soil in their garden does not contain the mycorrhizal enzyme, the grass tree that they paid so dearly for, will wither and die.

Imitating Nature in Growing Grass Trees

Here’s a secret that an old-timer once told me. Take a cup of brown sugar, put it in a bucket of water and water your grass trees once a month for two years with that mixture. The sugar feeds the mycorrhiza and gets it going and your grass tree will survive.

www.abc.net.au/gardening

Create a Friendly Friday Challenge Blog Post

Everyone is welcome to join the Friendly Friday Challenge with your own interpretation of the theme.

Add a pingback to StPA and tag your post with ‘Friendly Friday – Splendour in the Grass.’ Then return to this post and leave a comment below listing your post’s published link.

There is a full set of instructions on how to join the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge on my blog header. This challenge runs until next Thursday.

Last week’s Friendly Friday Challenge initiated some excellent contributions, with the theme of ‘Markets,‘ over at co-host Sandy’s blog.

Would you like to join in this week?

Friendly Friday
Puppy dog
Australia, blogging

Dogs with High Intelligence

Many people claim their animals understand them: both the words they speak to their dogs and their meaning. It is claimed that Schnauzer Dogs are so intelligent, they may have a vocabulary of over 50 words!

Schnauzer dogs

However softly I say to the Moth, “Shall we go for a walk now?” – the Schnauzers will hear this and come running from the furthest reaches of the house, signalling their excitement and concurrence, with short high-pitched barks of excitement, the older one ballerina dancing on her hind legs then executing a quick Downward Dog Stretch any Yoga teacher would be proud of, as if to say – “I am ready to go too!”

Schnauzer

The Schnauzer is Emotionally close to its Owners

Not only would I propose my Schnauzer is in synch with my body’s biorhythms, but the Schnauzers have extraordinary hearing.

Even though her doggie bed is located in the neighbouring room, she hears when I roll over in bed to wake up, even before I have opened my eyes! I have said nothing, done nothing and she hears all!

How does she know I am awake?

She hears me inhale a deep breath as I begin to wake up!

The Miniature Schnauzer

As soon as I take that breath, I hear scratching at her door a millisecond later! This dog is linked so closely to me she knows that I am awake and scratches at the door telling me she wants to come and say ‘Good Morning. Of course, it must be time for her Breakfast.

They KNOW Every move you MAKE, every Breath you take…you know the rest…

Schnauzers are renowned for being food-obsessed and I see no evidence to dispute that claim.

Standard Schnauzer’s Instinctive Intelligence

The Standard Schnauzer may have the highest instinctive intelligence out of the three [sizes of Schnauzer]. That’s because they were bred for many things, making them some of the most versatile working dogs you can find! They really did it all.

thesmartcanine.com ›
schnauzer

There is no doubt pets bring a special element to your life, but a schnauzer, is so human-like, it even regards itself as human.

I had a Standard Schnauzer some years back. That Dog could tell the time.

When I was working on the desktop computer, writing a post on my blog, and the clock passed 4.59 pm, she would enter the study, put her head underneath my arm, (which was invariably positioned on the computer’s mouse), and flick my hand off the computer mouse, with her powerful neck muscles.

She was letting me know it was time to start arranging or cooking dinner for the evening. Until I cooked my own dinner, she would not get hers, so there was a definite incentive for her to assist in this timely reminder!

Smart!

dog on computer
A Schnauzer Working from Home

In the early years, she would be in the habit to get up from her slumber and come and tell me it was 2.40 pm which meant it was time to down tools and go and pick the kids up from school. Without fail!

What is it about pets that can turn the most unemotional, stoically, clinical person into a blubbering, child-like swooner full of soft and fuzzy ga-ga baby talk?

I have not worked out what their magic is, but I know that I was infected with this obsessional ‘bug’, the moment I laid eyes on a schnauzer.

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blogging logo
Australia, blogging

Maintaining a Blog

Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

WordPress recently told me it was my Blogging Anniversary. Really? What of it?

It has been almost ten years since I first created Something to Ponder About, after trying for a few miserable months with the Blogger platform. I never really got how you connected with other people on that platform, so quickly moved to WordPress, as a penfriend in Norway recommended it.

Purpose of Blogging

I really had to think about whether I should celebrate this Anniversary, or commiserate that I haven’t done better over the years? Some Bloggers have used their blogs as a venue to receive all kinds of free gimmicks, products and even discounts on holidays. What have I been doing?

Contemplating my navel in a semi-public way?

Don’t be misled into thinking I have been writing solidly for ten years. I have taken many a blogging break, here and there, when I have been on extended vacations and for the first three to four years, my frequency of posting was ‘hit and miss.’ That is, it wasn’t really conducive to comment conversations, or consistent readers.

In all honesty, I wasn’t a serious Blogger early on; merely posting interesting information to do with nutrition or D.I.Y. Craft that I might reference later, or using my blog to document my travels to, what I thought, were special parts of the world.

But then, something happened.

I began to connect with people worldwide. I started using my words in a way that was more constructive, ostensibly I wished to share information that might help others. The Blogger community responded with kindness and open arms, enveloping me on a truly wondrous journey that I am happy to say, continues to this day.

Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

Connecting with Other Bloggers

Many of the early Bloggers I connected with have now left the blogging world. A few remain, including Leya, Tina and Cyranny. In the early days, Christian Mihai ‘liked‘ every one of my published posts, but never ever did he post a comment. He is a huge Blogger now.

Strangely, I noticed I have only recently connected with fellow Aussie bloggers, but rather most of my readers were in locations around the world. That may be a comment on where my interest is directed, perhaps? I am not sure.

blogger friends
Way back in 2010

Ineke, in New Zealand, but from South Africa, has been a blogger friend and reader of mine from the start. She was the first Blogger I chatted with and the first Blogger I met, in person. When we met up in her home town, it was like we were already old friends.

It seemed easier to communicate with her over the blogosphere, as we were in a closer time zone, generally speaking. She was always, always supportive and assisted me in various Blogging challenges and joint projects in the blogging community. I thank her for her friendship and hope we will meet up again someday.

WordPress Challenges

Living as I do in this far-flung corner of the earth, the long delay in sending and receiving comment replies on blog posts does hamper the flow of conversation, at times. Thus, it was highly unlikely that I would sync with Snow, in Finland – yet something clicked between us. After a time, I discovered she had a similar childhood to me, growing up in Australia! We could share memories and she seemed to understand my typically Aussie ways.

Together, Snow and I launched the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge, which I now run with the extremely resourceful Sandy, in Canada. I love the Global connections blogging affords from all corners of the world! It’s truly a multicultural phenomenon.

A pivotal moment in keeping my Blog active was starting the now-defunct ‘Monday Mystery Photo Challenge,’ which ran for close to three years. I had a lot of fun interactions and learnt lots about blogging, in general. Photography was definitely a major way I found and connected with other like-minded folk.

Motivation to Keep Blogging

A key to maintaining my motivation for blogging is to write about things I am passionate about.

If you really are passionate about something, your writing comes alive and your Blog will be interesting for others to read.

I like to use humour or satire in my posts, although I cannot claim to be any good at that. Keeping posts topical to some extent, seems to me, to be a way of starting and maintaining a conversation with readers.

An early criticism I received from another Blogger was that my Blog lacked focus. The comment was that I had, “a lot going on,” at StPA. Back then, travelling was something I posted frequently about, but I also wrote about craft, painting, nutrition, mental health, traditional sayings, quotes and cooking. Given the current global situation for Travel Bloggers, I am very grateful my Blog was diversified in its focus.

Something to Ponder about. Blog about Arts, crafts, Cooking Travel and Photography
Denmark

So, somewhat embarrassingly, I am still here, ten years later, at Something to Ponder About, prattling away to anyone who will listen. Blogging still provides me with a great deal of satisfaction. As more Bloggers fall away or take an extended break due to Covid or Blogger fatigue, new Bloggers begin their journeys with WordPress, filling that void. That bodes well for WordPress and for Bloggers, in general.

I hope to still be around in another ten years, but who knows? What will WordPress and the world itself, be like then?

Start a Conversation

What about your Blogging journey?

How did you start Blogging?

Have you ever considered giving up, and if not, why did you perservere?

melbourne
Australia

Road Cycling and Safety

I leant out the car window this morning and had a conversation with a road cyclist at the traffic lights. I wanted to know why so many cyclists appear to choose NOT to ride on the outer or footpath side of the road, but position themselves on the inner side, dangerously close to where the cars travel. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t concern me, but it’s been a hot topic of whinging and conversation in the community, so I was a tad curious.

A simple enough question that had a surprising answer.

journey with a cyclist riding in a fog early morning

Road cycling is the most widespread form of cycling. It includes recreational, racing, commuting, and utility cycling. Road cyclists are generally expected to obey the same rules and laws as other vehicle drivers or riders and may also be vehicular cyclists.

Wikipedia

Upon hearing my enquiry, this rather brash, lycra-clad rider put up his hackles. His stood tall on his bike, puffed his chest out, and his body language indicated he was ready for battle.

“It is not a dedicated bike lane back there,” he spat. “Read your road rules, love.”

I will admit Australia is slow to join the party when it comes to accommodating cyclists. The vast majority of major roads have no bike lanes, so cyclists must compete with trucks, cars, buses and all road users. Cyclists pay zero registration costs to contribute to the upkeep of the roads which earns the ire of the driving community. Rules vary from place to place but here we must keep 1 metre away from the bikes, when driving on the roads, due to the many cyclist deaths in commuter traffic.

Keeping 1 metre away would be simple if the cyclist kept to the outer or even the middle section of the emergency stopping lane, or roadside verge or bike lane, where there is one, but almost all seem to prefer to stick close to cars, which means the cars need to veer into the next lane, in order to comply with the 1-metre distance rule.

Bridge
A Norwegian cyclist

But I digress. Let’s go back to the discussion with the lycra-clad cyclist. As my intention wasn’t to debate the road rules, I clarified that I wanted to understand the motives behind the cyclist’s choice, so I persisted and, the traffic light was still red.

“On a Sunday morning”, he continued, “there’s so much glass on the road after Saturday night, that if I was to ride on the left (footpath), side of the road, I’d get nothing but flat tyres. So we all ride on the inside near the cars.”

– Road Cyclist in Red Lycra

As the traffic light then changed to green, I thanked him for the explanation and wound up my car window. His body language relaxed and he took off in another direction.

Yet, I was still left wondering – could there really be so much glass on ALL the major roads in our city? It just didn’t seem plausible. Is a flat tyre less preferable than safety?

Is this a problem in other countries without bike lanes?

Less than 30 minutes later, I was walking with friends along the beach with our dogs and recounted my story about the cyclist. We were all in agreeance, questioning the validity of the flat tyre argument, when one of the girl’s mobile phone rang.

On answering it, my friend let out a hearty laugh.

Her daughter had called to say she was on a bike ride on an inner city road and had just got a flat tyre!

Sometimes strange coincidences are not that strange after all.

country building Australia
Australia, blogging

Children of Victorian England

In the 1800’s in Victorian England, scores of children under the age of 20, roamed the streets in a Dickensian world, eeking out an existence made famous in the 1968 movie, Oliver.

In the day, Britain feared a French revolution might erupt within the lower classes and so wished to contain this potential political menace by executing or shipping any trouble-makers off to North America, or Australia. In those times, to commit a crime of any sort was seen as a character flaw which could not be altered through rehabilitation.

Fagin was based on real life character called Ikey Solomon

Why did Victorian Children Live on the Streets

Street children were often the progeny of delinquent parents, or who had parents who’d abandoned them or were sitting in a Debtor’s prison. A child could take its chances living on the streets, working in a dangerous textile factory or remain in squalid conditions in a poorhouse, if they were lucky.

Child Workers and Conditions in Textile Factories

In 1851, more than 500,000 of Britain’s children sometimes as young as six, were working in the textile mills.

Being small, children were used to crawl inside textile machinery to clear blockages in the spinning frames. It was extremely dangerous and many were killed or injured, as the machinery was slow to stop if a worker got caught.

The machines were very loud and they thundered relentlessly all day long. Workers could be fined. beaten or sacked for falling behind. In cotton mills, dust from the yarn covered the workers and got in their throats. To make the cotton strong, factory owners kept their mills warm and damp. This meant that the workers suffered from lung and chest infections.

primaryfacts.com

With these options, it was no surprise that many children took their chances living on the streets.

Penalties for Child Criminals in England

In Victorian England, a child caught stealing would be sent to reform school or sentenced to hard labour. Once they had amassed a record of over 200 crimes, the child would hang from the gallows. If the magistrate was kind, a death sentence may be commuted from hanging to transportation, for life, to a convict colony, in Australia.

Sometimes, these children were the lucky ones, and other times, not.

Steve Harris’ book called,”The Lost Boys of Mr Dickens,” recounts the real-life story of two young boys, in the 19th century, sent by the British Government, as impoverished and unwanted juveniles to exile to Van Diemen’s Land, now Tasmania, in the world’s first prison built exclusively for children.

tasmania prison
The ruins of Port Arthur’s Prison in Tasmania

Prejudice, moral panic, harsh justice and expedience saw unwanted boys condemned to severe isolation, solitary confinement, hard labour in chains and thrashings in a juvenile version of notorious Port Arthur, a ground-breaking chapter in the history of juvenile crime and punishment. Some quietly endured in the hope of salvation through rudimentary trade and Biblical instruction, but others became relentlessly defiant and mutinous in a brotherhood of resistance and bullying, inexorably slipping from hope to hell.

Booktopia.com

A Convict in the Family

Paterson Museum

Ironically, having a convict ancestor in one’s family history is now seen as an asset to a Genealogist. Not only is there widespread documents and history related to convicts, but many times, there are details of their physical description and life story, sometimes even their words, letters or deeds they performed.

country building Australia
Paterson, Australia where my convict ancestor lived

John Martin, although not a child convict, was convicted of stealing a sheep’s carcass, at 24 years of age. His sentence of life imprisonment aboard the convict hulks moored in British harbours was commuted to transportation, for life, to Australia. Therein starts our Australian family adventure as John was my 3 x Great Grandfather.

John Thomas Martin was indeed one of the lucky ones to escape the gallows or a potential life in the textile factories. John went on to become a convict overseer, gain his ticket of leave and later marry into one of the first free settler families in Australia, having a large brood of 11 children, one of which was Eve Martin, his daughter, my 2nd Great Grandmother.

I wonder why Eve wore her heart brooch upside down?

Forestwood Cottage Martins Creek
Martin family cottage, ”Forest wood.“

Their farm near Paterson in country New South Wales was called ‘Forest Wood,” and the small town of Martin’s Creek now bears the family’s name. From the inscription his free settler wife, Jemima had inscribed into his tombstone, one might think she was determined that history would know of his true character, more than his criminal past.

John Martin’s Grave

“He was an affectionate husband and a kind father.”

Something to Ponder About

Australia

The Big Scrub Pioneers, New South Wales

‘The Big Scrub’, Northern New South Wales, Australia

The Big Scrub is located in Northern New South Wales, Australia. This vast area of subtropical rainforest was cleared by European settlers from the 1840s, firstly for its valuable cabinet timber species, in particular red cedar, and later for agricultural selection, primarily dairying and agriculture.

This region is of special significance to me, as my Great-grandparents were some of the first pioneers to select and clear this land along the Coopers Creek, a perennial stream of the Richmond River Big Scrub, later to be called the township of Eureka.

Early Exploration of The Big Scrub and ‘Red Gold’

In 1842, the original cedar cutters were attracted to the area by the the enormous stands of ‘Red Gold,’ or Red Cedar trees that stood dense and tall on the river banks.

Cedar cutters

Red cedar was one of the first export products for the fledgling settlements of convict NSW. Cedar exports continued to rise, coming third in significance to wheat and wool, during the 19th Century. Being a slow-growing tree, the Red Cedar produces beautiful soft timber that was used for furniture and, (wastefully), flooring, in Australian housing. The abundance was greater than anyone had experienced before and the quality of the timber was exceptional so more and more settlers and cedar cutters flocked to the district. Before long, all the cedar had been logged out.

Selection of the Big Scrub and Land Clearing

As a condition of receiving land grants, the selectors had to clear all the vegetation. Not the 15 per cent along the streams or anything like that, “clear it all,” they were told.

http://www.abc.net.au

Settlement of the Big Scrub had commenced in the areas around Alstonville, by 1865 under the Conditional Purchase provisions of the Robertson Land Act of 1862. The Act meant clearing was compulsory in order to maintain your ownership of the land.

1890 Slab Hut of Timber Workers

Great Grandfather, Samuel Russell, would have had to clear-fell several acres of land each year or forfeit his claim to the land. In addition, each selector had to build a house and make other “improvements” to maintain his title. This was how the Government would encourage settlement of particular areas, and by so doing, displace Aboriginal people and many animal and plant species.

The demand for good grazing land fed a steady flow of settlers into the region. Even as late as 1908 at Jiggi Creek, just north of Lismore, clearing a site for a hut was still a major undertaking; clearing an entire selection would involve months of back-breaking effort for the settler and any of his children able to help.

The Forest Disappears

This Government clearing and settlement initiative was responsible for 99 per cent of the Big Scrub being cleared. 99 % of the original forest has gone. Remnants of, ‘The Big Scrub,’ remain in National park and State Conservation areas, but most of it was burnt by early pioneers as they considered it useless to farming. The botanical diversity was not seen as valuable as it was, “just scrub”.

Bangalow museum

It is hard to be critical of early cedar cutters and settlers who contributed to this destruction; the evidence of their hardiness and enterprise, their spirit and their willingness to endure harsh conditions and to pull together is too great not to feel some admiration, notwithstanding various incidents of cruelty and worse towards the Bundjalung and other Aboriginal peoples of the region.

www.paperbarktours.com.au/StorylinesRainforestsBigScrub.html

Environmental Significance of the Big Scrub

rainforest
Rainforest

Now only small scattered remnants of the original rainforest remain, many of them less than five hectares in area and covering less than 700 hectares in total – less than 1 per cent of the original area.

One man and his brother were able to shoot 102 wompoo pigeons now extremely rare and potentially extinct, from one white cedar in one morning and, on another day, filled two chaff bags with topknot pigeons and four brush turkeys; brown pigeons were too small to waste the powder on but, on the way home, one casually thrown stick killed six of them. These birds were destined for salting down as the family’s food. At the same time, previously uncommon cockatoos, parrots and lorikeets descended on the pioneer settlers’ crops “in clouds”. Pademelons, [a type of small kangaroo], proliferated and became a scourge to crops and pastures; bandicoots were more numerous than ever before and the brush possum appeared in numbers, driven out from the cleared forest areas. The abundance was short-lived and the forest habitat was replaced by dairy cows. Today, there are few remaining native mammals and dairy farms have largely been replaced by macadamia nut and tropical fruit plantations.

Inroads into the wildlife were heavy but in the long term may have had less drastic permanent effects on animal populations, had suitable reserves been created and maintained. But as axes rang through the forest, trees crashed and the smoke drifted through the canopy, wildlife had no hope; its habitat was almost totally erased.

http://www.abc.net.au/news
Waterfall in the rainforest

Despite the loss of such rich sub-tropical rainforest, the remnant areas remain important for migratory birds and bats, who disperse seeds of a number of species on their movement northwards. The remnant forest provides important stepping stones for birds and bats which seasonally migrate between the forests of the coast to the south. As the birds and bats are the major vehicle for dispersing seeds far and wide, the remnants are important genetic pools for seed diversity in north-eastern New South Wales.

Some early property owners preserved small parcels of their less accessible ‘upper country,’ out of appreciation of the forest’s natural values. Other patches were deliberately retained as firebreaks, (although rainforest is susceptible to fire and does not regrow from it as does eucalypt forest).

The main remnants of the Big Scrub today include Uralba Nature Reserve, Booyong Recreation Reserve, Andrew Johnston Big Scrub, Victoria Park, Davis Scrub, Hayters Hill, Boatharbour, Minyon Falls Nature Reserve, Big Scrub Flora Reserve and Wilson Nature Reserve. The only sizeable areas left are in the northeast of the state, in the Border Ranges.

Pioneer Families in the Richmond River District

plaque listing pioneer families NSW
Great-Grandmother Sarah

Great grandfather, Samuel Russell and his wife, Sarah, were Pioneers selectors of the Eureka and Coopers Creek area, a tributary of the Richmond River. My Grandfather was born at the family farm along with about nine other sisters and brothers.

Samuel Russell, my Great Grandfather, died prematurely, of heart disease, and one could imagine the physical toll of heavy work such as clearing the thick rainforest may have contributed to his early demise. Sarah remarried and left the district. The children were spread out amongst older family members. My Grandfather moving to Wondai, to live with his sister, Annie Sheather.

It is difficult to locate the original Russell selection now, as boundaries and access roads have altered over time, but the area remains primarily agricultural grazing land.

It makes for a wonderful place for a day trip from Lismore or further north and makes one ponder about what it was like in the early days.

 

Australia, blogging, Mental Health, Motivational, Philosophy

Overcoming Adversity

I am a bit late with posting my Sunday Sayings quote as it is now Monday afternoon, in Australia. I don’t want writing a regular blog post to become a chore, for then I feel sure my writing would lose spontaneity and appeal, so if I can’t think of anything useful to write, I won’t post at all. Just so you know.

Today’s inspiration resulted after a long walk along the beach with a friend.

Sunrise

Being on the beach at sunrise is fantastic and I feel extremely fortunate to experience it. With little accompanying wind and a mild air temperature, (given it was a winter’s morning in a sub-tropical part of Australia), the sun bid good morning through the low level cloud, hugging the islands across the bay.

That fire breathing star of atoms we all depend on for life, shone over the lapping seawater like a spotlight on a runway carpet. A beam of golden light that stretched across the ocean from the horizon to the shore line like a path to eternity. Magical.

As we walked, my friend and I chatted about life’s dramas, past experiences and the week ahead. She told me about a gentlemen on a UK TV show, who faced enormous challenges in his daily life, and who had seemingly had more than his share of devastating family tragedies, with one cataclysmic life event following another.

In chatting about the TV show and these experiences, I remembered a quote I had read some time back.

Inspirational Quote

Life Challenges and Adversity

After our walk was done and I was at home sipping a cup of tea, I pondered some more about life and facing adversity.

We have all experienced some level of adversity in life.

Everyone has challenges, sooner or later. There wouldn’t be one person on the planet that hasn’t faced some kind of adversity.

Given that such challenges and adversity are omnipresent, or a natural part of life, aiming to live a life without them seems a tad unrealistic and even far-fetched.

Yet how often do we yearn, and sometimes expect, life to be challenge free: wishing for an easy life.

I guess it is in our nature to want life to be trouble free and have free time to pursue hobbies, sport or leisure pursuits. Devices, gadgets and the latest electronic inventions promises itself as a panacea to our time-poor existence.

So I ask:

Why are we looking to save so much time?

In doing so, are we living in the here and now, or looking forward to a mythical ‘down’ time, failing to notice our lives, passing by?

Why do we Want More Leisure Time Anyway?

  • To make life more meaningful
  • To experience more relaxation and peace
  • To conduct leisure pursuits
  • To stop working in a job that bring us joy

What is it that gives us a sense of satisfaction in life?

If the Covid pandemic has any lesson, it is that some folks become completely bored without work, with nothing constructive to do, and a few even create mischief for others.

Is it in the facing of challenges that we come alive?

In overcoming adversity and challenges, even if painful or sad, we can learn and grow. This, in turn, might lead to a greater sense of satisfaction and contentment. Right?

You tell me.

What is it that you are seeking in wanting more leisure time?

Would you prefer a life completely free from challenges?

Join the Discussion

Everyone is welcome to comment, well except for spammers, of course.

road
Architecture, Australia

Friendly Friday Challenge – Surprise

I am not that fond of social media, but I do use it. Sounds a bit hypocritical, doesn’t it? I rather like the Facebook ‘Memories’ feature. It reminds me of what I was doing on that same date, in previous years. They are always happy memories. (I generally don’t post sad ones).

Last year at this time, for instance, I took a road trip with an old friend. We stayed overnight at an Eco-resort, a first for me. It was sublime. In the morning we took a walk through the forest and there was a surprise waiting for us, one that I wasn’t so fond of:

He didn’t bite but I was oh so close to standing on him

Instead of taking the highway home, we opted to follow some back roads. An unscheduled stop in a rural area, to check on a noise in the rear boot, (read: trunk if you are from the USA), led me to discover a surprising panorama. One that only the farmer and the cows might have shared:

However, a bigger surprise was to come a few miles north.

Can you guess what it is?

A Wheelchair Accessible Basket Case!

In Aussie lingo, it is known as the Kenilworth ‘Dunny.’

In a park prone to flooding (?!), a kilometre outside of the small country town of Kenilworth, Australia, a town known more for its prize-winning cheese, is a prize-winning Dunny, or public toilet facility.

180 people submitted their designs in a competition, run by the Town’s Council, for the creation of a new public – ah – monument. It was a local architectural illustrator, Michael Lennie, whose design titled Canistrum, Latin for a basket, that was selected.

At a cost of $600,000, the ‘Dunny’ was supposed to represent a basket – the basket being the history of the town and the unfinished basket supports the future history of the town, yet to be written.

But why yellow?

On pondering the glorious throne, of which I did not deem necessary to try out first hand, I pondered whether the artist was having a go at us, or maybe he was a ‘basket case?’ Lol.

The folks up that way do seem to have a wry sense of humour as the next surprise seemed to indicate.

This was spotted on the back road across the mountain.

Jurassic Park anyone?

If you haven’t already guessed, the theme this week for Friendly Friday is:

Surprise

Show us a Surprise photo or two, or three in a Friendly Friday Post?

Because everyone likes Surprises, don’t they?

Even if they are a prize winning public toilet facility.

Surprise Us!

How to Join the Friendly Friday Challenge

To participate in the Challenge this week, you need to:

  • Create a Friendly Friday Post titled: ‘Friendly Friday – Surprise’
  • Link back your post to this blog, forestwoodfolkart.wordpress.com and Sandy’s blog. The Sandy Chronicles
  • Tag your post, ‘Friendly Friday and ‘Surprise’
  • Leave a comment below, so that the hosts and others can find your post (pingbacks don’t always work)
  • Let the hosts know via the contact page if you would like to be featured as a guest blogger in future weeks. We publish a guest post once a month.
Friendly Friday

See you over at Sandy’s blog next week for the next Friendly Friday theme.