Saturday, April 25, 2015

25th April 1915

We've been deluged with all the hoopla around the Gallipoli centenary commemorations. I was astounded to learn that Australian governments (Fed and State), as well as private sponsorship, have spent around $400,000,000 on it - roughly twice that of Britain, France, Germany, Canada and New Zealand COMBINED!

There's a lot of regular army & RSL big wigs, politicians and big end of town people involved in all this and we've been asking ourselves, what is the pupose of all the hoopla??? 

I don't think we have any close family connection to Gallipoli. Although my maternal grandmother Millie had a brother (Mum's Uncle) - Percy Richards - Private PC Richards AAMC - whose name is listed on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial (panel 183). This means he saw active duty overseas and died as a result of the war although his death is recorded as the 19th February 1919. Percy was in the Australian Army Medical Corp and no one apparently kept formal records of the Corp's involvement in WW1. They were under the command of the British and the Brits obviously didn't think it was necessary.  Perhaps Percy was sent to Egypt with the first lot of Light Horse Brigade volunteers and saw some of the horrors of ANZAC Cove - we don't know that yet! 

The pic below is of William Dutton my maternal Grandfather's brother (Mum's Uncle) who died in France on the 28th August 1917. He would have just turned 25. He was wounded under shell fire at Hell Fire Corner on the Menin road, Ypres and died soon after. He is buried at New Military Cemetery No 3, Brandhoek, Flanders, Belgium. His name is on Panel 21of the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial. I know he enlisted in 1914 and sent letters back to his darling "Annie" from Egypt and this photo was taken at a studio in Southampton England, so William saw something of the world in his three years in the Australian army-probably more of it than he wanted at the time.

My mother's mother lost her husband in 1916 (although not as a result of the War), her young brother-in - law in 1917 and her brother in 1919. Young women, mothers, sisters and wives all over Australia must have experienced similar losses. From what I can gather they and the men involved did not celebrate or commemorate ANZAC Day after the war. Nor did the enlisted men hold the RSL in high regard either after their war service. Certainly the RSL didn't welcome Aboriginal servicemen, women or children anywhere near any of their commemorations for many years - and later on even the Vietnam vets were left out in the cold by the RSL! 

Rob's paternal Grandfather George Ludlow saw service in France too in WW1 and luckily survived although everyone said those bits of shell that remained lodged in his skull did not help his moods much in the post war years - but he still lived a good long life despite that. 

Rob's maternal Grandmother Lilly used to keep up postcard correspondence with friends and family members serving overseas in WW1.

The postcard below was sent from France by her cousin Albert on the 21st June 1917. He writes a very understated and chatty postcard...I wonder what his true situation was...
Dear Lilly Your welcome letter dated 20.4.17 is to hand. Pleased to hear from you once again and know that you are keeping well and enjoying yourselves. Just fancy Norman over in England now; he seems to have enjoyed himself on the way over. That experience would just suit him I suppose. It will be along time before he comes to France. Anyway it is hoped that he never gets this far. There is enough here now. How is Myrtle getting on? Just fancy Ida getting married; I suppose I will hear next that you are going to get married. Dear Lilly this is all, your loving Cousin Albert.

And Grandma Lilly sent this card to her friend Will  in France on the 20th October 1918, just three weeks before Armistice day.

But the centenary commemoration of the 25th April 1915 also has other meanings for our family. 

My Dad was born on that fateful day - which would make him 100 today had he lived (Dad died in March 1981).

Our Dad was quite the pacifist. He joined the Australian army in WW2 like most young men did (the pic below was probably taken in 1940) but war horrified him. Like most men and women of his generation, not from the regular army ranks, he never had much time for Anzac day "celebrations" or any suggestion that war should be glorified in any way.

Dad served the army in Australia - making munitions as an expert tool maker mostly.  His life was about a lot more than his few years in the army (luckily). 

This is my favourite pic of Dad aged 64 - taken at the very end of 1979 in Canberra with a gorgeous young Davey boy.

You can see a lot of Dad in his three grandsons: Davey, Josh and Joel. Davey has his big brown eyes, Joshy has his profile and Joel has his build (and certain expressions). All three young men have the same great focus and dexterity as their Grandfather and show the same capacity for love, support and care as he did. 

As you can see despite all the hoopla about the ANZAC centenary commemoration and too many politicians, entrepreneurs and military types hijacking the agenda, it has resulted in quite a bit of reflection for me - but I still can't work out what it is all about.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Girls at the farm

We're counting ourselves lucky to have missed out on the intense storm activity hitting Sydney and surrounds these past few days. It's been cold and windy here in Canberra but nothing compared to what others are experiencing.

J & W and their grand kids invited us all out to Mount Nanima today for a "day at the farm". 

Jennie and A demonstrated the art of pony riding to perfection.

 This was Ella's first ever pony ride....

Abi can be shy with people in new situations but she had no qualms about making friends with Archie the Shetland pony......

 .... and going for a ride too of course.

A and E seemed to really hit it off (kindred spirits I think!). A's Mum (Jennie's daughter) is making history in Turkey at this very moment as part of her Gallipoli 100 Surfboat Race team. They're making their way to ANZAC Cove in time for the centenary commemoration - after starting at Eceabat in the Dardanelles. 

Ella loves chooks (she has a few favourites at her school's Ag Centre) and was thrilled to find two eggs in the chook pen (for their lunch!).

A & E spent most of the late afternoon in the home garden running Jennie's "Bouncer" ragged and neither of the girls wanted the fun to end (although I think Bouncer may have been relieved to be put to bed eventually).

Driving out and back to the property gave us lots of opportunities too for spotting sheep, cows and "horsies"...a perfect day as far as the girls are concerned.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cruising Freycinet and the Friendly Beaches

This was our view this morning across Great Oyster Bay towards the Hazards, from "Dunwerkin".

We'd booked a Wineglass Bay cruise to take us around the inaccessible southern and eastern coastline of Freycinet National Park, all the way to Wineglass Bay where we'd walked yesterday.
We were lucky to have such calm and clear conditions - perfect for viewing this pristine coastal environment and the wild life........plenty more cormorants, pelicans..... 

 dozens and dozens of dolphins, playing races with our cruiser.........
 and surfing the wake of the boat - just for our benefit.........
 .......and flocks of albatrosses feeding off schools of fish (probably disturbed by yellow fin tuna - according to our skipper).

As we rounded the southern tip of the peninsula, alongside the rocky granite outcrops of Schouten Island, the swells became more pronounced and the wind intensified.........and we entered Australian fur seal territory..........
.......... before heading into the calm waters at the southern end of Wineglass Bay. 
 and a delicious lunch (and glass of local Riesling) of all Tasmanian products.

The waters of Wineglass Bay are so pristine and translucent that it looks like we are anchored in very shallow water - we're surprised to find out it is actually about 6 metres deep here. It's impossible to imagine the brutal way Wineglass Bay got its name (goes back to its days as a whaling base and has to do with being filled with crimson blood apparently!!!!!!)
The 4 hour cruise has surpassed all our expectations. We anticipated we would see some stunning scenery but the wildlife sightings and the care and attention of the crew were real highlights for us today.

We spent our last afternoon in Freycinet checking out the "Friendly Beaches", about a 25 minute drive NE of Coles Bay.

 I did well to capture this little dancing hooded plover in this shot........
 and I know this is only a seagull......
The pink granite rocks and the silica rich pure white sand of the Friendly Beaches are very photogenic, especially when the vibrant orange lichen covering the rocks plays off the available light. I've learnt from this trip that you only see lichen like this in pristine environments - where algae and fungal growths are in perfect symbiosis. 

We ended off a wonderful day with a glass of Pagan quince cider on Dunwerkin's deck, and a toast to the many wonders of Tasmania!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Wineglass Bay/Hazards Beach walk

We embarked on an 11 klm walk today, starting at Parsons Cove in the beautiful Freycinet National Park. We climbed for a good half hour or so on a very aesthetically pleasing granite paved bush track...

until we reached the remarkable Wineglass Bay lookout, on the saddle between Mt Amos and Mt Mayson.

From the lookout we continued downhill to beautiful Wineglass of Tassie's most photographed wild beaches.

We continued walking, turning right from the bay, across the isthmus, towards Hazards Beach.  It was nice flat walking here in amongst sandy scrubland. There's often good birdlife sightings here, but not today....... although I liked these banksia flowers looking their best amongst some charred old tree trunks.

 As we descended to Hazards Beach.........
..........we were struck by the 5 - 6 metre high dune middens circling the beach spilling thousands of years worth of abalone and scallop shell layers wherever the waves and the wind had exposed them. The Aboriginal communities living around here (until they were rounded up and murdered in the colony's early days) must have lived a wonderful life in this bountiful environment.
While Wineglass Bay is especially beautiful from above, Hazards Beach is beautiful at eye level.

Hazards Beach joins another track that follows the coastline around the base of Mt Mayson, continuing for around 6 klms, under beautiful warm sunny skies, until we got back to where we started.