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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Makes ya feel bloody proud to be Australian!


After having dug to a depth of 10 feet last year, British scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 200 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 150 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the British, in the weeks that followed, an American archaeologist dug to a depth of 20 feet, and shortly after a story published in the New York Times said: "American archaeologists, finding traces of 250-year-old copper wire, have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network 50 years earlier than the British".

One week later, Australia's Northern Territory Times reported the following: "After digging as deep as 30 feet in his backyard in Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory , Knackers Johnson, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely bugger-all. Knackers has therefore concluded that 250 years ago Australia had already gone wireless."


Monday, October 26, 2015

This gives a whole new meaning to the expression "Dutch courage"


The Netherlands , where six per cent of the population is now Muslim, has plugged up enough "Dutch courage" to scrap multiculturalism.

The Dutch government says it will abandon the long-standing model of multiculturalism that has encouraged Muslim immigrants to create a parallel society within the Netherlands.

A new integration bill, which Dutch Interior Minister Piet Hein Donner presented to parliament, reads:

"The government shares the social dissatisfaction over the multicultural society model and plans to shift priority to the values of the Dutch people."

In the new integration system, the values of the Dutch society play a central role. With this change the government steps away from the model of a multicultural society.

The letter continues: "A more obligatory integration is justified because the government also demands that from its own citizens."

It is necessary because otherwise the society gradually grows apart and eventually no one feels at home anymore in the Netherlands .

The new integration policy will place more demands on immigrants.

For example, immigrants will be required to learn the Dutch language, and the government will take a tougher approach to immigrants who ignore Dutch values or disobey Dutch law.

The government will also stop offering special subsidies for Muslim immigrants because, according to Donner; "It is not the government's job to integrate immigrants." (how bloody true!!!)

The government will introduce new legislation that outlaws forced marriages and will also impose tougher measures against Muslim immigrants who lower their chances of employment by the way they dress.

More specifically, the government imposed a ban on face-covering Islamic burqas as of January 1, 2015.

Holland has done the whole liberal thing and realized - maybe too late - that creating a nation of tribes will kill the nation itself.

The future of Australia, the UK, USA, Canada and New Zealand may as well be exactly the same.

Will our politicians have enough "Dutch courage" to follow the Dutch?


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Give me a red plastic chair and I feel at home anywhere


Whether it's pulling a plow or feeding a cow or grubbing out an old treestump, give me a red plastic chair and I feel at home anywhere.

Of course, the meaning of this is lost on those who were not among the chosen few that built the Bougainville Copper Mine back in the 1970s.

Back then the only creature comfort outside our 'donga' was a red plastic chair which we took along everywhere: to the outdoor picture show, to the "boozer", to the beach.

Camp 6 Loloho - click on image to enter Bougainville Copper Project website

Home was a red plastic chair - and still is! ☺


<bgsound src="http://www.riverbendnelligen.com/images/pachebell.mid" loop="-1" autostart="true">

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Stick a chunk of spinach between your front teeth and no-one will notice anything else about you!


Did you notice that the woman in the top photo has six fingers on her left hand? And what about the phantom arm floating behind the man in the second photo? But, of course, you noticed that the man in the last photo has only one ear, didn't you? You didn't? Nor did I!

This ingenious advertising campaign created by tricky Colgate to promote their dental floss proves that a chunk of spinach will draw more attention than any physical defect you may have.

So, hey, Good Lookin', eat more spinach - and don't floss!


Friday, October 23, 2015

A letter from Germany to Australia

To the people of Australia,

I am glad you don't have to witness the last months in our country.

I do not recognise the home of our fathers any more.

Since our Chancellor Merkel announced that everyone is welcome, 10,000 people or more each day are flocking here.

From Munich they are distributed all over the country.

Official estimates range from 800,000 till end of year, unofficial numbers go up to 1.5 million.

Not one of the illegal immigrants should be entitled to come here and receive welfare, health care and housing. It happens anyway.

Merkel talks about our 'god-given task' in her last declaration to the people.

What is her god then?

We have no jobs for them and not enough housing for all of them - or for the others still to come. If you point this out, you are a Nazi and are silenced.

If you are not self employed or jobless, you better shut your mouth. Dissenters are not welcome.

The officials are overworked to register the immigrants and to check if they are terrorists.

There are reports about rapes and attacks in the camps. We do not know how much of this is real, propaganda or counter-propaganda.

Riots between Muslims and Christians are reported and documented on youtube. Right now there are only demonstrations in the east of Germany against this corruption of the law.

The people from the East remember state oppression quite well and are more prone to stand up against the government.

Here in Munich there were only small demonstrations.

The region is rich. They don´t feel the concurrence for housing and jobs yet. There is some minor indignation because German people have lost their public housing to refugees, in Heidenau for example, but you don´t read much about this. Just in the local media or if you are searching for it on the internet.

If you address this on Facebook with your community: Bingo, you´re a Nazi.

Letters to your elected MP and other representatives have no effect. Either they do not answer or promise to answer sometime.

Refugees are wandering unregistered across the Republic. One high official of Munich admitted a loss of 30% from the drop to the pick-up there.

Police are overworked in at least one region. At least this is admitted.

It is impossible to check for all terrorists. We don´t have enough manpower for this. If you point this out: Bingo, you're a Nazi.

You lose friends who disagree with you. If you address your concerns, that maybe 0.8 - 1.5 million additional mostly male and Muslim illegal immigrants might not be too good for this country: Bingo, you're a Nazi.

Merkel met with Mr. Zuckerberg from Facebook to censor 'hate comments'. She clearly was raised in a communist country and began her career there. She cannot tolerate free speech.

According to our Constitution, any endangerment to the current order and safety of our state may be met by citizen's resistance if all other measures fail. This is the citizen's duty and right.

When you point this out you are ridiculed in the press.

Don't hold your breath while you are waiting for the outcome of the litigations of the High Court.

At least one Mayor of a major city left the Socialist Party, because he couldn't be silenced by his comrades.

He spoke out that we cannot take any more. In several cities there are laws to expropriate empty flats and commercial buildings to house refugees.

What will happen when winter, with -15 deg., arrives and 1 million immigrants are still in tents?

Even if you disown the land owners to build low-cost housing, my estimate just for this year is 40,000,000,000 EUR ( 800,000 people x 50,000 EUR just to build some shabby high-rise).

No one asked the people here if they want to have ghettos littered all across the land and to house everyone from all over the world.

Who will tell these people the truth that there are no jobs for them here?

Who pays the tab as soon all of these people get their families here, who are after a while entitled to healthcare and free housing and some cash every month?

The police union leader admitted that there are 'no-go' areas in German cities now and asked for a reduction of immigration and a border fence . He wasn't heard.

The only thing I asked for the rest of my life is to make love to my woman, have a drink some times and have a quiet life.

My plans are foiled now.

We expect riots and even civil war now.

Myself, I want to make a stand. I won't emigrate.

As my dear friend Stefanie once said (as I remember it): "We are Prussians, we speak the truth and charge from the front. If there is a God may he help us."

These will be troublesome times.



Source http://zanettisview.com/



Thursday, October 22, 2015

OPAL is a gem

Part of my three-day Sydney escape


All of Sydney's trains, trams, ferries and buses run on OPAL:
TAP ON when you step on; TAP OFF when you step off!

You can buy or top up your OPAL card at any newsagent or at the INFORMATION desk on the Grand Concourse at Central Station.

Inside the Grand Concourse of Central Station:
TICKETS on the left, INFORMATION below the 'Next departures' sign

If you arrived at either the Domestic or International Airport, load up your OPAL card with at least $50 as the one-way fare to Central will cost you $17 *); add another $17 for your final return fare and you're left with just $16 to pay for all your bus, tram, train, bus and ferry rides around Sydney.

(If, like me, you hold a Senior's Card and want to get your unlimited travel for just $2.50 a day, you MUST order it online - click here.)

You can also register your OPAL card which protects your balance if the card is lost or stolen, just like a credit card. Once registered, you can set up your card to automatically top up (great if you travel a lot), and you can review up to 18 months of your travel history (not so great if your wife wants to know where you've been. ☺)

You never overpay because OPAL automatically deducts the correct fare from your balance when you TAP OFF (just don't forget or the meter keeps running!); it has a daily travel cap of $15 per adult after which you'll pay no more and a $2.50 travel cap on Sundays; after eight paid journeys in a week all further journeys are free (in any case, you'll never pay more than $60 a week); it transfers made within 60 minutes into a single journey, and it calculates correctly all off-peak train fares. For other frequently asked questions click here.

While this is very convenient for commuters, it is a brilliant business model for NSW Transport: from 1 January 2016 every commuter has to be on OPAL, so let's assume there are two million of them, each with a balance of (let's say) $100; that's two hundred million dollars in advance payments to NSW Transport. Absolutely brilliant!


*) The $17-fare for the short 14-minute trip from the airport to Central Station is not indicative of the cost of Sydney's urban transport which is quite modest but rather an indication of the greed of the operators of the privately-run airports who charge a fee of more than $10 to access their terminals which is automatically added to every train, bus and taxi fare to and from the airports.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Adventure before Dementia

Part of my three-day Sydney escape YHA Sydney Central in Rawson Place


It's been a while since I lived and knew my way around in Sydney. So with overseas visitors arriving in December on a short seven-day whistle-stop tour, I thought it best to go to Sydney and take all the wrong turns before they do.

There's no place in Sydney more central than Central Station and right next to it is the Sydney Central YHA in Rawson Place. After arriving at the International Airport, our guests will take the 14-minute Airport Link to arrive on Platform 22 at Central Station.

Downstairs from Platform 22 turn left inside the pedestrian tunnel (marked in grey on the map below; take the tunnel that leads to the 'G Concourse') and up the stairs to the 'Grand Concourse' which looks something like this: (for a printable map click here)

Tap your OPAL card - more on this here - to get through the turnstiles and across the 'Grand Concourse' and out again through the exit marked '2 Pitt Street'.

Right in front is the departure point for Sydney Light Rail which, unfortunately, does not go to Circular Quay while they're upgrading George Street (to go to Circular Quay to visit the Opera House or jump aboard one of the many harbour ferries, take a bus or go back through the turnstiles and down the pedestrian tunnel to the suburban trains. There's always some railway staff near the turnstiles to ask for directions; my favourite is a tall turbaned Sikh ☺).

You can take the Light Rail to either 'Convention' or 'Pyrmont Bay' station to visit Madame Tussaud's and Sealife Aquarium and Wild Life Sydney Zoo. Buy a ticket for all three attractions PLUS Manly Sea Life and Sydney Tower for just $69 per person, or $195 for a family of four - click here - and you've got 30 days to visit them all.

But right now is check-in time so turn left and descend on the escalator under the overhead markings 'To Pitt & George Sts'. Keep walking straight ahead and cross Pitt Street, and on your left is the Sydney Central YHA (if you're not a member, join up on the spot for a room discount; if you're in a group, only one of you needs to be a member; after only two nights you've already saved more than the $25-membership fee - check it out here).

Today's youth-hostels aren't all dormitories: you can also get a private room with private bathroom, double or twin, even a family room. Of course, there won't be room service or wake-up calls (but you can buy a nifty little alarm clock at reception!).

My basic but clean and comfortable private room with ensuite # 812 on the eighth floor

Nor is there a telephone or a television on your room but, hey, you're so central, you won't need to call anybody nor watch any television as all the action is right outside your door (just as I'd got there, an ambulance came wailing up George Street, a police car was woop-wooping along Pitt Street, and a girl in a party of four fainted right in front of me - whether from an overdose of Ice or because she'd spotted me I'll never know).

Ask for a room on the top floor (which is the 8th) so that you have only a few steps to climb to swim in the roof-top pool or steam away in the sauna. Then sit on the verandah and look at Sydney from above.

She wasn't there when I was there or else I might've stayed longer

If it's too early for check-in, put your luggage in one of the many coin- and credit card-operated lockers to the left of the reception. Their rate of $11 for up to 24 hours (pay $4 for the first six hours and top up if you're late) for a locker large enough to hold a big suitcase AND a big bag is cheaper than what's on offer at Central Station.

Complimentary city map

Also on the ground floor is a very helpful tour desk (grab one of their very detailed free A3-sized city maps and don't forget to claim your YHA discount on all your bookings!), internet access, a licensed café/restaurant (try the juicy t-bone steak with chips and salad AND a bottle of beer for $16.90), a cinema, a lounge, even self-catering facilities but who wants to cook when there are literally hundreds of eateries up and down the street and 'round the block and across George Street at Chinatown or in Chinatown's City Market which is right next to famous Paddy's Market.

A great way to see the city is from aboard the Sydney Explorer which leaves every 15 to 20 minutes from Bay 5 in Eddy Avenue which is just outside the arcades as you came down the escalator from the station. If it's a sunny day, make sure you grap a seat on the open top!

Enjoy Sydney! I'm heading for the Blue Mountains.


The grandeur of the Blue Mountains

Part of my three-day Sydney escape


One day and night in 'the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city' were quite enough for me and I was happy to leave Sydney on an early train of the Blue Mountain Line up for Katoomba (Platform 7 at Central, hourly departures, starting 4.20 am until midnight).

The two-hour-ride on the electrified train was smooth and relaxing, even more so in the first or last carriage which are QUIET CARRIAGES that ban all music and loud talk on mobile phones which means you won't have to listen to such inane one-sided conversations as, "Yes, we're just pulling into Granville Station." Do none of these people have the ability to go, for say, five minutes without being in contact with someone else? What are they afraid of? Confronting their own thoughts?

Trvelling in the QUIET CARRIAGE

Speaking of which, somewhere before Auburn the train passes the Auburn Gallipolli Mosque, the new in-your-face of multi-cultural Australia. On and on until, after Springwood, the train starts to labour a bit as it begins to move uphill from Faulconbridge to Linden, Woodford, Hazelbrook, Lawson, Bullaburra to Wentworth Falls and Leura, before arriving at Katoomba.

As a keen youth-hosteller, I had booked myself into the Katoomba YHA, so when I saw a sign just outside the station that pointed to the right and read 'Blue Mountains Backpacker Hostel', I went in that direction.

Nice hostel but wrong place! I should've gone straight ahead, crossed the road, and down (with the emphasis on DOWN) Katoomba Street, past all the shops and motels and restaurants and cafés, until the next round-about which has ALDI on its right (they have ALDI here? can't be too bad a town!). Another hundred metres or so, and there's Katomba's YHA. An even nicer hostel!

I was early and asked if I could just leave my backpack behind the reception desk but they let me straight away occupy my private room with ensuite. Nicer hostel; even nicer people! The room was squeaky-clean, had a nice view, tea- and coffee-making facilities, and a reading light over the bed. Hoorah!

Katoomba is a town that lives on the edge - on the edge of the Blue Mountains, that is - because just a leisurely walk down Katoomba Street is Prince Henry Cliff Walk with Scenic World directly across.

The SKYWAY - walk right on, pay $35 at the other end for an all-day pass on the SKYWAY, WALKWAY, CABLEWAY, and RAILWAY - takes you to the other side but not before making a bowel-moving stop half-way across for a view through its glass-floor into the deep, deep valley below - if you dare!

I didn't and instead took the twenty-minute walk to the Three Sisters and Echo Point (marked as number 14 on the map below).

There were wonderful views along the way and very few people as most tourists shunned the exercise and chose to get bussed about on the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus. My reverie and solitude came to a sudden end at the Three Sisters Lookout - now rightly named 'Three Sisters PLAZA' because it was a huge concrete expanse tightly packed with mainly Asian visitors with cameras on selfie-sticks.

Stay tuned for more in my next blog.


The grandeur of the Carrington Hotel

Part of my three-day Sydney escape


I hadn't been loking for it but once I had seen it, I couldn't stop looking! What an amazing place! The Carrington Hotel in Katoomba has as a long and rich history since her establishment by Sydney hotelier Harry Rowell more than one hundred and thirty years ago.

Opened in 1883 as The Great Western, this Grand Old Lady soon became a popular mountain retreat for international visitors, the elite of Sydney, and those eager to see the natural wonders of the Blue Mountains.

Renamed 'The Carrington' in 1886, in honour of the then Governor of New South Wales, Lord Carrington, the hotel was extended by its new owner, Mr F C Goyder who is credited with the creation of The Grand Dining Room. With its extended and upgraded facilities, The Carrington gained even more acceptance as a world class establishment.

By the early 1900s The Carrington's reputation as the premier tourist resort in the Southern Hemisphere was undisputed and the newspapers of the day often cited her as the only rival to Raffles Hotel, Singapore within The Empire.

Sold in 1911 to Sir James Joynton Smith, who introduced the famous stained glass facade, The Carrington entered a new phase and quickly became known as the honeymoon destination of choice, and this remained so for the next half a century.

Although in a time of decline in Mountains tourism, The Carrington remained popular as ever through the 1950s and 60s and was bought by Theo Morris, a developer, in 1968. Despite the dwindling popularity of the Mountains in the 70s and the toll taken by time on the Hotel, her loyal clientele kept her afloat for nearly twenty more years.

The Carrington closed her doors in late 1985 and remained empty and derelict until 1991 when it was purchased with the aim of restoring and relaunching this Grand Old Lady of the Mountains.

The Carrington reopened her doors in December 1998 after eight years of restoration. Just look at some of the fantastic interior:

I am glad I found this amazing place and I'll certainly stay there again.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep."


Robert Frost's poem comes to mind as I type line after line of the Balcony on Shore Restaurant's menus for their new website. I promised to do it all free of charge and as quickly as possible but it is fast outgrowing the original concept of a few simple and static pages.

Unlike Frost who is said to have written his poem in just a few minutes, this is beginning to run into many hours. How much easier it would be if they kept their menus as shown in the above video clip.

Anyway, I have promises to keep and lots to type before I sleep.


In memoriam


born 7.10.1923 - died 18.10.2003


Do not stand at my grave and weep;

I am not there. I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn's rain.

When you awaken in the morning's hush,

I am the swift uplifting rush

of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry;

I am not there. I did not die.


Friday, October 16, 2015

Make them walk the plank

The Sydney Tower Skywalk


We're expecting guests from overseas who want to see all the sights in Sydney and so I've been busy checking out the Sydney Opera House, Taronga Zoo, the Sydney Aquarium, Paddy's Markets, Darling Harbour, Manly, and Chinatown.

And if that isn't enough yet, I'll suggest they climb the Harbour Bridge by which time all this tour-guiding stuff will have given me the sh@ts.

To reciprocate, I'll make them walk the plank on top of Sydney Tower while I watch them from the footpath 192 metres below. It should be safe to look straight up as long as they tie the orange jumpsuits' trouser-legs round their ankles. ☺

And with bowels emptied, they can chill out some more on a trip to 'Scenic World' in the Blue Mountains:

Scenic Skyway

Scenic Cableway

Scenic Walkway

Scenic Railway



Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Just as well I left Germany when I did

An independent Czech television host reads the letter in full. If you prefer, read the transcript I made below which matches the English captions with slight corrections.


A Czech doctor, who works in a German hospital, is so disgusted and overwhelmed with the Muslim "migrants" that she is threatening to leave the country. Here is what she writes in an email (the press is forbidden to print it):

"A friend in Prague has a friend, who, as a retired physician, had returned to work at a Munich area hospital where they needed an anaesthesiologist. I correspond with her and she forwarded me her email. Yesterday, at the hospital we had a meeting about how the situation here and at the other Munich hospitals is unsustainable. Clinics cannot handle emergencies, so they are starting to send everything to the hospitals.

Many Muslims are refusing treatment by female staff and, we, women, are refusing to go among those animals, especially from Africa. Relations between the staff and migrants are going from bad to worse. Since last weekend, migrants going to the hospitals must be accompanied by police with K-9 units.

Many migrants have AIDS, syphilis, open TB and many exotic diseases that we, in Europe, do not know how to treat them. If they receive a prescription in the pharmacy, they learn they have to pay cash. This leads to unbelievable outbursts, especially when it is about drugs for the children. They abandon the children with pharmacy staff with the words: “So, cure them here yourselves!” So the police are not just guarding the clinics and hospitals, but also large pharmacies.

Truly we said openly: Where are all those who had welcomed in front of TV cameras, with signs at train stations?! Yes, for now, the border has been closed, but a million of them are already here and we will definitely not be able to get rid of them.

Until now, the number of unemployed in Germany was 2.2 million. Now it will be at least 3.5 million. Most of these people are completely unemployable. A bare minimum of them have any education. What is more, their women usually do not work at all. I estimate that one in ten is pregnant. Hundreds of thousands of them have brought along infants and little kids under six, many emaciated and neglected. If this continues and German re-opens its borders, I’m going home to the Czech Republic. Nobody can keep me here in this situation, not even double the salary than at home. I went to Germany, not to Africa or the Middle East.

Even the professor who heads our department told us how sad it makes him to see the cleaning woman, who for 800 Euros cleans every day for years, and then meets young men in the hallways who just wait with their hand outstretched, want everything for free, and when they don’t get it they throw a fit.

I really don’t need this! But I’m afraid that if I return, that at some point it will be the same in the Czech Republic. If the Germans, with their nature cannot handle this, there in Czechia it would be total chaos. Nobody who has not come in contact with them has no idea what kind of animals they are, especially the ones from Africa, and how Muslims act superior to our staff, regarding their religious accommodation.

For now, the local hospital staff has not come down with the diseases they brought here, but, with so many hundreds of patients every day – this is just a question of time.

In a hospital near the Rhine, migrants attacked the staff with knives after they had handed over an 8-month-old on the brink of death, which they had dragged across half of Europe for three months. The child died in two days, despite having received top care at one of the best pediatric clinics in Germany. The physician had to undergo surgery and two nurses are laid up in the ICU. Nobody has been punished.

The local press is forbidden to write about it, so we know about it through email. What would have happened to a German if he had stabbed a doctor and nurses with a knife? Or if he had flung his own syphilis-infected urine into a nurse’s face and so threatened her with infection? At a minimum he’d go straight to jail and later to court. With these people – so far, nothing has happened.

And so I ask, where are all those greeters and receivers from the train stations? Sitting pretty at home, enjoying their non-profits and looking forward to more trains and their next batch of cash from acting like greeters at the stations. If it were up to me I would round up all these greeters and bring them here first to our hospital’s emergency ward, as attendants. Then, into one building with the migrants so they can look after them there themselves, without armed police, without police dogs who today are in every hospital here in Bavaria, and without medical help."


Do you really want to pay another tax - an Islamic religious tax?


I am frustrated and concerned by the practice of halal certification in Australia. I do not wish to support any brand that pays an Islamic religious tax to have their product halal certified.

As yet, less than 2% of our population is Muslim and I do not want to fund special religious rituals or political campaigns to increase the presence of Sharia Law in Australia.

I am also concerned about possible animal cruelty in the halal slaughter process. The Koran does not stipulate anywhere that a product must undergo certification for it to be halal.

Even Dairy Farmers have descended to a new low in their quest not to upset the Muslims and to hoodwink Australians:

No more Coon cheese for this kid! Read more here.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

It all began with Richard Schirrmann


Click here to open the document in separate window


The founder of the youth hostel movement was Richard Schirrmann, a teacher from Germany. He came up with the idea when he and his students were caught in a thunderstorm during an excursion and were offered accommodation in a school. He was a believer in learning by direct observation and often took his classes on excursions and hiking trips. The hiking trips could last several days, and Schirrmann and his pupils would find accommodation in farm buildings.

On one of these excursions, on 26 August 1909, the group was caught in a thunderstorm. They finally found shelter in a school building in the Bröl Valley. The headmaster let them use a classroom and a farmer gave them some straw to sleep on and some milk for their evening meal. The storm raged the whole night. While the boys slept, Schirrmann lay awake. That was when he had an idea... "The schools in Germany could very well be used to provide accommodation during the holidays. Villages could have a friendly youth hostel, situated a day's walk from each other, to welcome young hikers."

Richard Schirrmann (May 15, 1874 – December 14, 1961) born in Grunenfeld, Prussia

That stormy night was when the worldwide youth hostel movement was founded. In 1910 Schirrmann wrote an essay setting out his ideas for "Volksschülerherbergen" (hostels for pupils of ordinary state schools). "Two classrooms will suffice, one for boys and one for girls. Some desks can be stacked away thus freeing space to put down 15 beds. Each bed will consist of a tightly stuffed straw sack and pillow, two sheets and a blanket... Each child will be required to keep his own sleeping place clean and tidy."

In 1912 the first real youth hostel opened in the old castle of Altena. The castle was restored and equipped according to Schirrmann's design, with two dormitories with massive triple-tier wooden bunks beds, a kitchen, washrooms and a shower bath.

Altena Castle, the world's first youth hostel - for more information, click here

The youth hostel movement grew rapidly. By 1913, already 83 youth hostels and 21 000 overnights were recorded. By 1921 the number of overnights stays had already reached 500 000. By the summer of 1931 there were 12 youth hostel associations in existence in Europe, operating a total of 2,600 hostels, but there was very little contact between the associations.

This all changed on 20 October 1932 when the first international conference was held at a hotel in Amsterdam. It was attended by representatives from 11 hostel associations: Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England and Wales, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Switzerland.

Youth hostels then were very different from what they are now. The idea of doing chores around the hostel during your stay was much the norm, so that hostellers helped out with reception duties, cleaning, cooking and general maintenance within the hostel for the welfare of everyone. That way, the hostel was maintained perfectly with a great community spirit.

Yours truly during his hostelling years in Australia in the mid '60s

I was a constant and keen 'Youth Hosteller' throughout my teens in Germany and joined up with the local Youth Hostel Association in Canberra almost as soon as I had arrived in Australia in 1965 which at the time had very few hostels. Canberra's first hostel was a modest farm worker's cottage along Naas Road just outside Tharwa which was followed by an old farm building near Angle Crossing. Then we raised money for the first purpose-built hostel at Black Mountain through a 'buy-a-brick' campaign.

The hostel at Angle Crossing

Today's youth hostels are as good as, and often better than, many hotels and while they still offer cheap dormitory-style accommodation, single, double and family rooms with private bathrooms are also available.

Well, you can take the boy out of the youth hostels, but you can't take the youth hostels out of the boy, and while I no longer stay at them as often as I did fifty years ago, I have remained a member ever since.

And so can you! Check it out here.