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Friday, August 31, 2012

People keep leaning on the gate

The centre of the gate keeps dropping as people lean on it while they gawk at "Riverbend" and wonder if they can afford to buy it. Don't just stand there! Come on in and bring your cheque-book!


With apologies to Rudyard Kipling

If you can start the day without caffeine
If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches    and pains
If you can resist complaining and boring people    with your troubles
If you can eat the same food every day and be    grateful for it
If you can understand when your loved ones are    too busy to give you any time
If you can take criticism and blame without    resentment
If you can conquer tension without medical help
If you can relax without alcohol
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs
Then you are probably the Family Dog!



Thursday, August 30, 2012

The die was cast!

As a member of the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia, I always look forward to reading their excellent journal "Una Voce" whose editor keeps inviting readers to contribute their own stories of life in Papua New Guinea.

So I cobbled together my little story The die was cast!, wondering if they might publish some of it. Well, they just did and in full, and it runs to five pages in their September edition!

In the closing paragraph of my story I wrote, "If you know any persons mentioned or their present whereabouts, please contact Peter Goerman at riverbendnelligen@mail.com." Before I had even received my copy "Una Voce", I had already received this email:

"Hello Peter

I read your article in Una Voce re Hancock Woodward & Neill. I am in touch with Grahame Ward who is in Port Moresby and Brian Wallace who resides in Mackay. Rob Lees who may have worked for the company after you is in contact with Peter Langley and other company people.

I remember you sharing a donga at Comworks in Rabaul with Ward and myself early in the piece. I worked at Rabaul Garage selling cars for John Dowling; now retired on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Ward was a drinking friend. I haven't seen him for maybe 20 years but spoke recently. I will track down Peter Langley's contact in Sydney and let you know. I am led to believe that he is in contact with Mark Henderson. Brian Wallace left Hancock's and worked with me for John Dowling. Rob Lees arrived in 1971 or thereabouts. Jerry Carr-Boyd was in Sydney last I heard. I hope you get a reply from Grahame as he is not noted for his responses to emails. I will forward Peter Langley's details when they come to hand. I note from your CV that you did work in Samoa. I was in that area both Pago Pago and Apia in 1994/95. Great part of the world. I didnt leave PNG until 1990. Was based in Port Moresby for final 8 years.

Peter Logan"

Thanks, Peter; what a blast from the past! From as long ago as 1970, more than forty years ago! I look forward to hearing more from Peter and the others he mentioned in his email.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Would you credit it?

We've just come back from town where we did some shopping and had lunch at the bowling club. Bingo was still in full swing. The barman told us that yesterday's bingo even had a spot of excitement when one of the participants stood up, called 'Bingo!', and fell back into her chair with a heart attack.

On the way back home I collected my mail from the post office which included my monthly credit card statement. I have a VISA credit card but use it like a charge card to give me a convenient summary of what I have spent during the month: as soon as I receive it, I pay its closing balance and start again.

As I quickly scanned the items, I detected for the first time this innocent-looking Minimum Repayment Warning at the bottom of the page: "If you make no additional charges using this card and each month you pay only the minimum payment, you will pay off the Closing Balance shown on this statement in about 39 years and 3 months and you will end up paying estimated total interest charges of $12,487.26"

Is this for real? Do some people really just pay the minimum payment? Not having another 39 years and 3 months up my sleeve, perhaps I should consider it! I can already see my epitaph: Here lies Peter Goerman with a smile on his face. He didn't pay off his credit card.

The Irish have solved their own fuel problems. They imported 50 million tons of sand from the Middle East and they're going to drill for their own oil.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Is your Australian passport due for renewal?

If so, you will be asked to sit for a short IQ test to ensure you're fit to represent Australia abroad.

Click [here] to have a dry run.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Mosques & Miracles

In the next fifty years we will capture the Western world for Islam. We have the men to do it, we have the money to do it and above all we are already doing it."

So said a Muslim religious leader at the opening of yet another Islamic centre - this time in Stockholm, Sweden. An estimated 300,000 Muslims live in Sweden, making them the second-largest religious group in the country after Protestant Christianity.

The Islamic challenge to Western society is no longer something in the far distance that can be ignored. It is in all our cities and neighbourhoods - now. Muslims claim this century as 'theirs'. Repercussions are already felt around the globe. From Morocco to Mindanao, vast stirring movements are underway that could change the face of the world during the next 50 years.

I have read some books on this subject before but this one is the best. Ignore it at your own and your children's peril!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

David Glasheen on Restoration Island

The first time I heard about David Glasheen on tiny Restoration Island was when I passed the island aboard the cargo vessel "TRINITY BAY" enroute to Thursday Island in 2005. I wrote about it in my travel diary:


Tuesday, 3 May 2005

As we passed along the coastline of mainland Australia, I remembered that less than two months earlier, cyclone Ingrid had threatened to strike.

Remaining behind had been a bare-chested old hermit with a long grey beard, David Glasheen (although his name could be Robinson Crusoe for all we know), of Restoration Island, looking as if he had been marooned since Captain William Bligh beached his boat here after the 1789 HMS Bounty mutiny. (Captain Bligh named it Restoration Island, because the day he and his men rested there was the anniversary of the restoration of Charles II to the throne and perhaps because the stay on the island did restore them but the locals call it "Resto").

It is said that this nouveau beachcomber from Sydney has plans to develop Restoration Island as an eco-resort. He's been living alone on Bligh's island for years ever since his long-suffering Woman Friday had escaped on a passing boat. But David is looking for another Girl Friday. His quest took him as far as the "TODAY SHOW" on Channel 9 and even the Sunday Telegraph published this article:

View from Restoration Island to mainland

"He may look like Robinson Crusoe but, after 12 years of living alone on a tropical island, David Glasheen now wants to play Romeo. The former Sydney high-flyer who left the rat race and bought himself a tropical island near Australia's Top End is looking for a "Girl Friday".
He is now advertising online for love, offering the ultimate sea change for the right woman who doesn't like shopping or neighbours.
Mr Glasheen and his dog Quasi are the only residents on tiny Restoration Island, off Cape York. While he has the occasional visit from tourists or passing yacht, he admits it gets a little lonely in paradise.
"There has to be someone out there for me," Mr Glasheen told The Sunday Telegraph.
"I've got an eye for the ladies, so I guess I would do anything to meet the right partner."

The divorced father of three is hoping he will meet the "mermaid" of his dreams using the Internet dating site RSVP.

His advertisement reads like the perfect scenario for a Mills and Boon novel, but so far he has received only a few responses.
"The beautiful coral island I live on is a castaway's dream," he writes.
"A tiny green oasis floating in the desert of the sea, surrounded by the corals of the Great Barrier Reef."

Mr Glasheen, 65, a former businessman, traded in his suit for a lap-lap almost two decades ago after losing $10 million in the stock market crash of 1987. His first marriage, from which he has two daughters, ended around the same time. The one-time company executive says losing almost his entire fortune was one of the best things that ever happened in his life. "I just realised it all didn't mean anything," he said.

He paid seven figures for a 50-year lease on one-third of Restoration Island - the remaining land is a national park. Mr Glasheen moved there in 1993 with his girlfriend, but with no hot water or even a bath, she found it tough and left with their young son. He has added a few mod cons to his island hideaway but says it is still pretty basic. Its simplicity and remoteness has attracted the likes of Russell Crowe and Danielle Spencer, who stopped off there on their honeymoon. "But we have style in the wild here. We don't live like yahoos or hillbillies - we have plenty of champagne when we need it," Mr Glasheen said. Restoration Island, 2000km north of Brisbane, was named by Captain William Bligh. It was there his supporters "restored" their spirits following the infamous mutiny on the Bounty.

Mr Glasheen said he was looking for a warm-hearted woman who could put up with the peculiarities of life on a remote island and would be willing to travel to the mainland for a dinner date or two."

Restoration Island as seen from Portland Roads - click for location map

Well, David, I hope you won't get killed in the crush! If you do find your Miss Right, make sure her first name isn't 'Always'! Wouldn't it have been better to whittle down the candidature to deaf-and-dumb lobotomised nymphomaniac cooks with poor vision and a Florence-Nightingale complex? Anyway, in this his hour of greatest personal need(s), I felt compelled to comfort him with a favourite short story of mine which goes something like this:

Once upon a time, a guy asked a girl
'Will you marry me?' The girl said, 'NO!'
And the guy lived happily ever after
and rode motorcycles and went fishing
and hunting and played golf a lot
and drank beer and scotch
and left the toilet seat up
and farted whenever he wanted.

I hope David benefits from it!

According to Alan Lucas' "Cruising the Coral Coast", the island was for sale in 1978-79 for around $120,000; that is, the lease and all improvements were for sale because the island itself is not freehold. As a postscript, my friend Fritz in Cairns tells me that the island is again up for sale. Has David Glasheen thrown in his beach towel?

[ Yes, the island is for sale at $3 million by Dave's business partner in Melbourne but Dave himself does not want to sell as he explained in a phone call to me. If anybody wants to contact him or spend some time on his island, please email me on riverbendnelligen[AT]mail.com ]

Read my full travel log [here]


Over the years, I had several telephone conversations with David and also put him in contact with people who had read my blog and wanted to write a story about him.

I have just read an article on the web which appeared in the Daily Mail which suggests that David's days on Restoration Island may be numbered as the Queensland government is trying to evict him.

Here's a recent video clip of Restoration Island:

Have you got a Plan B, David? Have you considered Tonga?

[Here] is David's own blog.

Mangoes and Mozart, bananas and Bach

I've just received a ten-page letter from my Austrian friend Horst Berger, who since 1995 lives in the Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific, and since 2009 on the remote and tiny island of Uiha. He lives a seemingly idyllic albeit spartan life far away from what we like to call 'civilisation' and yet he cannot deny his cultural leanings which include a liking for classical music.

I've sent him a portable CD-player which he can run off his small solar panel and added a couple of CDs which he could never afford to buy himself from his tiny pension. If you want to change Horst's life from bananas and bankruptcy to bananas and Bach, why not put some of your unwanted classical music CDs in a small jiffy-bag and address it to:

P.S. Postage costs to Tonga are the biggest costs which you can calculate here.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The TRITON Workcentre of the Universe

My bench-building days are over and I am happy to pass on to you the 'recipe':

You need about 2 metres of treated pine 140 x 35 mm, 10 metres of 90 x35 mm, and 25 metres of 40 x 20 mm; about 78 wood screws 25 mm long (for the 40 x 20 mm) and about 30 wood screws 60 mm long (for all the other fastenings), and six bolts 80 mm long (to join the three pairs of contoured backrest and seat).

Cut the 140 x 35 mm into two lengths of 900 mm each, curved at one end. They are your two armrests, long enough to also hold a beer (or two) ☺

Cut the 90 x 35 mm into three lengths of 700 mm for the backrest and another three lengths of 550 mm for the seat itself. Then use a bandsaw to shape them like this after which you bolt them together:

Cut two pieces of 90 x 35 mm, each 1100 mm long, for the front and back brace (longer if you want a wider bench) and four pieces of 90 x 35 mm, each 750 mm long, for the two back and the two front legs.

Cut 26 pieces of 40 x 20 mm, each 900 mm long (longer if you chose to make a wider bench) to screw across the bench.

For added sturdiness, notch the back brace into the back of the three backrest uprights, and the three seat supports into the front brace.

Assemble like so:


What do real estate agents do?

In two words: not much! They make you sign a sales agreement, ask you for a few happy snaps of your property which they stick on the web, and give you a FOR SALE sign which you stick on your lawn. Then they sit back and wait!

I think I can do just as well - and I just did!

[Here] are some more pictures to whet your appetite.




A cautionary tale

Behind one of those windows of the Princess Alexandria Hospital in Brisbane lies my friend Manfred Richter. He went to the Hideaway Island Resort in Vanuatu, and five days into his ten-day trip fell off the stairs to the restaurant and broke his wrist and hip.

It took another five days in a Vanuatu hospital to stabilise him and to find out what's wrong with him and to arrange a flight back to Brisbane. Of course, the hospital wouldn't let him go until he had paid their bill of $16,000 and, as he had taken out no travel insurance, it took quite a bit of financial acrobatics to arrange finance through the local WESTPAC bank. Then VIRGIN wouldn't fly him out as he was a stretcher case. Luckily, AIR VANUATU came to his rescue as a special medical evacuation flight would have cost another $50,000.

By the time he was in the Brisbane hospital, his kidneys had got infected and for a week he was in an induced coma in the Intensive Care Unit. The hospital had even called his family from Sydney as they thought he wouldn't make it.

I phoned him at the hospital this morning where he was again amongst the living and sounding cheerful enough to enjoy the attention of all those attractive young nurses.

The moral of the story? Don't leave home without travel insurance!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Putting on the finishing touch

Our Guest Cottage now has a covered verandah and covered walkway to the bathroom, providing shade when the sun shines and shelter when it rains.

Click on image to enlarge

Troy did a marvellous job so that as a bonus I ordered for him large car door magnets and other promotional material to give his firewood business a bit of a boost.

If you need a ute load of firewood, look for this sign:

Garden Bench for Sale (dog not included)

Troy helped me with the assembly of my last four garden benches. As I now have more benches than time to sit on them, I have passed on my design to Troy who may make some more to sell at material cost plus labour.

They are very comfortable to sit in. The "secret" is the contoured backrest which follows the curvature of your spine.

If you want to order your own comfy garden bench or swing chair (sans the bird droppings), call Troy on 44 74 46 33. He'll even paint it for you in any colour you like as long as it is Victorian Green.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Be patient, please

I've been busy with lots of work outside but will soon blog some more.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Olympics

At last, this jingoistic multi-billion dollar business masquerading as sport is over for another four years.

Being a bit of an amateur-etymologist, I have sometimes wondered where the name 'Olympics' came from. Apparently - or so I am told - there was a slave girl from Sardinia named Gedophamee who attended a great but as yet unnamed athletic festival 2500 years ago in Greece.

In those days, believe it or not, the athletes performed naked.

To prevent unwanted arousal while competing, the men imbibed freely of a drink containing saltpeter before and throughout the variety of events.

At the opening ceremony, Gedophamee observed the first wave of naked males marching toward her and she exclaimed, " Oh!! Limp Pricks!"

Over the next two-and-a-half millennia that morphed into " Olympics".

Now I know! And so do you!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Take one, please!

Having just spent some four thousand dollars on building a verandah on the Guest Cottage and a covered walkway to the bathroom, we might as well try and crank up the business a bit to recover some of the money!

I visited my friends at Vistaprint and ordered a couple of hundred so-called rack cards, small flyers to put in a box by the gate for passers-by to take away (just one, please! ☺ )

However, we don't just want anybody to come here! Our guests are discerning people of a certain age who appreciate the peace and quiet of "Riverbend" and so I've added the following "Health Warning":

Riverbend Cottage does not compete with establishments whose toilet seats are wrapped in cute little "Sanitized for your convenience" covers or who dull your senses with Muzak and the drone of air-conditioning ("air-conditioning" here means opening the window and letting the gentle breeze come in off the river).

Our TV reception is limited to the ABC, SBS, and WIN (however, you have a choice of hundreds of excellent DVDs - all without commercial breaks!) And there are plenty of books to read (you remember books, don't you? they are like DVDs with pages)

Once here, you may even relax enough not to miss your mobile because, guess what, it won't work here. However, we gladly take your messages on our phone or, if you're the President of the United States or some other important person who is totally indispensable to the running of the world, you can bring along your own laptop and log on to our FREE broadband WiFi.

Our guests from the city always enthuse about the air here. It's fresh and composed mainly of oxygen and nitrogen, unlike what they are used to. They fall asleep almost immediately, their bodies exhausted from the lack of carbon monoxide and lead they have come to depend on.

It is quiet here and very peaceful and you're the only guest. Instead of having to listen to somebody else's snoring or be "entertained" by some ablution noise in the room next door, you may hear the occasional possum wander over your roof at night or be surprised by a little green frog looking at you from under the bathroom door.

All this sensory deprivation may come as a shock to you and we suggest that, as a rough guide, if your chronological (or mental) age is less than 30, you will probably lack the appreciation of being miles away from McDonald's and the sounds of an infernal combustion engine.

To all you others and to those who want to recover their energy and rediscover themselves, please come and stay and stay long, sit quietly, breathe deeply, and listen to the river, to the birds, to YOURSELF!


P.S. My Canadian friend, a man of exceptionally discerning tastes, emailed me: "I believe that you are trying to attract a very rare type of person. Those who are well balanced and comfortable with their own company and can enjoy simply relaxing in silent reflection of their thoughts and experiences are not plentiful and very difficult to convince that your amenities are acceptable. I think perhaps you should hint at the availablility of certain recreational pharmaceuticals as a complimentary perk available to select clientele with discerning tastes. Or you could advertise that you cater exclusively to those who are as gay as a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A MINI Performance

One night London river police spot a rowboat with two people in it rowing up the Thames from the sea. They make their way over to the rowboat and see that it contains two East Indians. The sergeant gets on the loadhailer and shouts "Oi, what are you two blokes up to out here at this time of night?" One of the East Indians shouts back that they are invading Britain. After the laughter from the police boat dies down, the sergeant shouts back, "So it's just the two of you then?" The East Indian shouts back, "No,no, we are just the last two."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Don's (Last) Party

It took me all of two hours this morning to get dressed as I had to find a pair of suit-trousers that would still fit me to attend Don Runciman's funeral at the Nelligen Cemetery.

I first met Don almost as soon as I had arrived in Nelligen in 1992, through another old friend, "Sandy" Sandilands, and over the next twenty years we shared many drinks, stories, and laughters.

I always thought that Don was quite a bit older than me and became a little agitated during the service when I read in the eulogy that he was born in 1947 and had been two years younger. This was getting a bit close for comfort! For whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee?

It turned out to be a 'typo' and his date of birth should have read '1927'. Saved by the bell - for now!


HIP hip hurrah!

My friend Manfred Richter was supposed to have returned from his holiday at the Hideaway Island Resort in Port Vila on the 11th! Knowing how much he wanted to tell me all about it and not having heard from him since his return, I phoned his number in Brisbane but all I got was an answering machine message.

So I emailed the Hideaway Island Resort to hear if he had perhaps booked himself into the place permanently. Here's their reply:

"Hi Peter,

Am sorry, I thought you already heard. Manfred had a fall during his stay and broke his hip and wrist. I think he fell off from one of the stairs in the restaurant as I wasn't there when this happened but heard from one of our staff.

He flew out on the 10th on a normal flight but his friends flew out the next day and he is now in Princess Alexandria Hospital in Brisbane.

I hope you get in touch with him if you call the Hospital.

Thank you

I told him not to get drunk; his pacemaker just can't handle it!

Anyway, I've gone to Princess Alexandria Hospital's website to send him a Get Well e-card.