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Friday, February 23, 2018

The sun's come out and so have I

My altered view of the world from Nelligen's River Café


Admitting that some days I feel like filling the sink with coffee, sticking my head in and sucking it dry is all the coming out I want to do, and so I went over to the River Café for a long black and an altered view of the world.

The day hadn't started all that well: having buttered up a golden-brown piece of toast and piled on lashings of apricot jam, I took a big crunchy bite which turned out to be a broken-off tooth. My tooth! So rather than letting my tongue explore that newfound cavity every few seconds, I thought I'd take my mind of it by exploring the neighbourhood.

If you want to know what Nelligen was like in the sixties, come now because nothing much has changed. Yes, we do have some McMansions but they're aberrations from what it still an old-fashioned country town.


5. Catholic Church 7. Old Courthouse 8. Old Watchhouse 9. Old Schoolmaster's
Residence     10 Old Post Office     11. Mechanic's Institute     13. River Café


There is the old Post Office (now a B&B) and the Nelligen Mechanic's Institute (just one mechanic!); the old schoolmaster's residence and watchhouse (both now private residences, with the latter again being for sale); the courthouse (now the Anglican Church); and the Catholic Church in the highest and best location in town (isn't it always so?)

It's a long walk back across the bridge but I'm home again. The weekly garbage truck has been and gone and I've wheeled in the bin and made myself another cuppa. And I've rung the dentist for an appointment.



P.S. To get a BIRDS EYE® view of Nelligen, click here.


The worst seems to be over - until next time

Click to enlarge


About every 30 years, there is an almighty mining boom, followed by busts, and many long years waiting for the next boom. The most recent one was driven by China’s surge in demand for the minerals and started in the early 2000s.

The Aussie dollar hit US$1.10 and BHP reached $50. In the four years following the 2011 peak, prices collapsed by up to 80%. The crisis ended when the Chinese government announced new stimulus measures at the Peoples’ National Congress in March 2016, targeting 6.5% growth.

Come 2018, the AUD has regained some of its strength and commodities prices have firmed and the worst seems to be over - until next time.



Thursday, February 22, 2018

The 'Unlikely Voyage' continues


It's Day 4 of an unusually early cool and grey week and I'm glad I'm still on my Enid Blyton-esque voyage from the borders of North Wales to the Black Sea in "Sandy" Mackinnon's "Jack de Crow".

It's such a charming public school, end-of-empire and daring-do story that you want to read it at the same speed as the Mirror dinghy itself, and so far I've only just got through the Thames Barrier where "here for the first time I encountered the intriguing world of marine buoys and navigational markers. Every mile or so, I would skim by a channel marker, regular green bell-shaped buoys occasionally coming up on the southern bank. These, I knew, marked the starboard and port edges of the deepwater channel, which sounds straightforward enough, but is that going downstream or coming upstream?"

It reminds me of the time my friend Ian invited me aboard his new yacht SY REMY which he was going to sail around the world, but first he had to sail her down the Clyde River for which he asked me to come along.

Now I hold Ian in great respect, not only because he is ten years older but also because he is widely read and can turn his hand to almost any-thing, and so I thought little of it when he passed the first port buoy on the portside and the next starboard marker on the starboard side.

However, I did dare to ask how much water his Compass Easterly 30 was drawing - "1.7 metres", he replied - which made me wonder why he'd venture into places I wouldn't take my dinghy into. As we neared the next marker which was a red port buoy which he was likely to round on his portside again, I shouted from the bow, "Helm hard to starboard!"

Luckily, his yacht had an old-fashioned tiller and he knew that starboard meant pushing the tiller to the right which turns the boat to the left, and so we safely rounded the red port buoy against our starboard side. As I explained to him, yes, you do round the buoys port to port and star-board to starboard but only when going upriver. You do the opposite going downriver because Maritime Services hasn't got enough personnel to swap the buoys from side to side every time you go downriver again.



Our politicians have just put a ban on the one thing they can do right


With some politicians having such incredible family values that they can't restrict themselves to just one family, these signs have now been erected around Parliament House. As if the new "Bonk Ban" wasn't already enough bad news for Canberra's struggling motel owners.

Of course, those caught out could always point to Peter Costello's 2004 speech about "... one for your country" and say they were doing it for the good of the nation. They could also fall back on the Clinton defense, although it would get a bit tricky to then claim immaculate conception.

All of which just leaves the sticky issue of when a relationship is not a partnership but I'm sure they work that one out while the Murray-Darling is drying up, the country gets flogged off to the Indians and Chinese, our crumbling infrastructure is being privatised, and half the country goes on the national disability scheme (mental ills are the new bad back).

Already 70 per cent of Australia is uninhabitable because of desert, and the remaining 30 per cent is quickly becoming uninhabitable because of our politicians who've just put a ban on the one thing they can do right.



Storm Boy


Storm Boy, based on a novel by Colin Thiele (not to be con-fused with Leonard Teale) , is one of the most cherished of Australian classic films. It has a deep emotional clarity that appeals to children and adults alike, making it timeless.

The landscape of the Coorong wetlands, bleak and beautiful and windswept, becomes a refuge for the broken, the loveless and the outcast – an alternate Garden of Eden, in which a different version of Australia might seem possible – a kind of hermit’s utopia.

The film is clearly about much more than the boy’s love of the pelican, which he calls Mr Percival. It touches on race relations, ecology, the breakdown of families, white and black law and questions of prior ownership, but the themes are seamlessly woven into the story.

Much of the power comes from the elemental beauty of Geoff Burton’s camerawork (his work on Sunday Too Far Away, with a different colour palette, has a similar expressiveness), and from director Henri Safran’s sensitive handling of the performances. The film was made for $260,000 and was a success at the box office, both in Australia and overseas, where it sold to more than 100 countries.

Here's a preview:

Watch the full-length movie here.