Heading Out

Stopped at West Wyalong for my first night. Things I learnt. I need a new chair and a new stove. Had a nice sleep except Poppy likes to hog the bed.

Heading off to to Kyabram now. Will visit my Dads grave and see my Aunt. It is a beautiful sunny day. The cappuccino’s are a bit expensive out this way.

Dark Emu

Dark Emu: Black Seeds: agriculture or accident ? written by Bruce Pascoe and published by Magabala Books

If you believe that the First Nations in Australia people have been badly treated then you should read this book. If you continue to believe the old, colonial tropes about First Nations people you should read this book. It gives an account of how a people survived and thrived on this, one of the harshest continents on earth.

Bruce Pascoe not only describes the various agricultural techniques used by First Nation peoples, he also includes the eye witness accounts by explorers and surveyors, of government men and squatters.

The stories of grain storages and agricultural harvest has sat silent in libraries and archives for decades. Some historians knew about them. They just forgot to pass them on in a way that would make sense to ordinary folk.

Yet the language the colonials used to hide their crimes against the First Nations people has survived to be mouthed endlessly by the ignorant. Government policy around land rights and Aboriginal Affairs have not always respected the Aboriginal viewpoint.

I had read a some of these accounts before while doing some research for a project on rural Victoria. You will be as awestruck as I was at the vastness of of some of the enterprises.

I’m not suggesting you read Bruce Pascoe uncritically. But the descriptions of Aboriginal life and industry by such people as Charles Sturt and Thomas Mitchell is compelling.

The Harry Bosch Series

Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly.

I rediscovered Harry Bosch on Audible. I had read most of Michael Connelly’s books up until 2014 when I got sick. But rediscovering them on Audible with Titus Welliver narrating was something else. I had tried to watch Titus in the SBS series of Harry Bosch but couldn’t get into it but in the spoken books Titus really is Harry.

Harry is his usual irascible self but some of the hard edges have been worn smoother by the presence of his daughter, lovers and him getting older and wiser. But he still bumps heads along the way.

Connelly’s depictions of Los Angeles provide a familiar backdrop to the novel’s. For me this is an wonderful example of why the spoken word book excels.

Click here to see a full list of Harry Bosch novels available on Audible.

A Feeling Of Unease

Yesterday I went to the Doctors to make sure I had my prescriptions up to date before I started travelling. She suggested I get the Jab for COVID as I am in one of the targeted groups.

I have always said that I would get the vaccination as soon as it became available but the antics of the Government over the last few days had made even me nervous. I agreed to make a further appointment to come back for the vaccination only to find that they don’t have any at present.

Books on the Go

I listen to Audible when I travel. I have always been a keen reader and I love Audible because I can drive and listen to a book at the same time. You can go through quite a few books when your travelling and it can get quite expensive. My daughter and son share some of their book credits with me and that has made it more affordable.

I have heard some people claim that listening to books is not the same as having books, the written word in a literal sense. But as a writer I know that it does not matter how you consume the book, the most important thing is, it is read. In fact being able to listen to books allows people who before could not access books, because of their sight, or literacy or whatever reason, opens their world to the wonders that books bring.

I want to bring you some of the books that have given me so much pleasure. So check out Books for the Road to see my reviews.

What Happened to Robert Pond?

Shipwrecked in Vanuatu

I was doing some research for a historical project when I found Robert Pond. Only briefly because he disappeared from view as quickly as he had appeared. He was mentioned in a newspaper article from March 1848, in The Shipping Gazette and Sydney General Trade List, which left me with many unanswered questions. The only description was that he was about 6 years old and had accompanied a Captain Jones of the British Sovereign from Twofold Bay.

Ben Boyd 1801 – 1851 and Twofold Bay

Boydtown is on Twofold Bay, just south of Eden. Twofold Bay is on the Tasman Sea and positioned on the most direct route to Auckland. The ancient and beautiful Twofold Bay, home to the Thaua people for tens of thousand of years, was where Ben Boyd chose to build his town, which he hoped would rival Sydney.

Ben Boyd had grazing property’s off the coast of Boydtown in the Monaro region and first used Aboriginal Slaves to work his land. He then turned to enslaving men from the South Pacific Islands. He kidnapped them from what is today know as Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. Many of those men died of starvation and deprivation trying to escape. This was in 1947, 14 years after Slavery had been abolished in the UK.

When things started going bad financially for Boyd he left for the Californian gold fields. Then in 1951, he was murdered in the Solomon Islands attempting to return to Australia. He had been to the Solomon Islands before and the crew from his ship got into conflict with the Solomon Islanders. Ben Boyd could not be found and they sent out search parties for him. Searchers killed 25 people in their initial search for Boyd and then whole villages were destroyed at a place now known at Wanderer Bay. They found his skull displayed in one of the villages, so he got to pay for his crimes at least.

Boyd was a tall, good looking and apparently extremely charismatic and there were obviously people in Australia caught up in the romantic notion of the adventurous, entrepreneurial Scottish gentleman. In 1971, the Robert Askin government established the Ben Boyd National Park.

Robert Pond 1842 – ?

Ben Boyd owned a significant fleet of whaling ships. When ships weren’t engaged in whaling they were encouraged to go “black birding” or harvesting sandal wood. These two activities happened around the same area of the Pacific so there was a certain illegal synchronicity about the two activities. In some cases the harvesting of sandalwood was not possible without the use of men kidnapped from the south sea isles.

Sandalwood removal must have been a source of some hostility from the inhabitants of places like Vanuatu, because slave labour was used to harvest the trees. They must have made a god awful mess and sandalwood does not regrow. The whole tree, root and all has to be removed to extract the fragrance. I can imagine the inhabitants of these islands, did not think very highly of the marauding shipping crews visiting their shores for their ill gotten gain.

The British Sovereign was off the coast of Sandwich Island, (known today at Efate)on the 22nd April when it hit a reef and sunk. The crew including a young boy who had accompanied Captain Jones from Twofold Bay, escaped by rowing boat to the island. A day later they were approached by the inhabitants and Captain Jones was the first killed, the boy being spirited away by one of the older men. Everyone else except the boy and John Jones a crew member escaped with their life.

Captain Nixon of the Clarkstone, came across John Jones who had been looked after by friendly islanders and had heard the story of Robert Pond still living with the inhabitants of the island. Captain Nixon with their help was able to rescue the boy who was very ill, suffering from the “intermittent fever” which was probably malaria.

And that’s it, I can find no more information. And I consider myself a good researcher. I was able to find a Robert Pond born in NSW in 1842 to a William Pond and Jane Kennedy. That would have made him about 5 years old at the time the British Sovereign sunk. So it well could be the Robert Pond. But I have been unable to find more answers. I don’t know if he survived. I don’t know why he was in the company of a Captain Jones onboard the British Sovereign. Whether he was cabin boy or companion. Slave or passenger. Why he had no parents.

But I will continue to look. I have learnt a lot about the sort of place Australia was at this time.

Twofold Bay today

The Week Just Gone

I had a very eventful week and I captured some of it in pictures for you to see.

Farewell to my old car which I bought with so much optimism and I loved her dearly. She was written off in a hail storm about 2 years ago. Shortly after I got her I got very sick and had to learn to drive again and then I injured my shoulders one after the other so was forced onto the buses once again.

Then there is a photo of my new car that I have already started work on to get it ready for my camping adventures. It is a Nissan x trail and has enough room in the back for me and Poppy to sleep quite comfortably. There is plenty of storage space. So it is the perfect option. I kept looking a vans but there is big demand for them at the moment and the ones I could afford had too many kilometres on the clock.

I took some photos of my hood. I live in Saratoga which sits on the Brisbane Waters. It is on a peninsula just 15 minutes from Gosford and Terrigal. It is a very beautiful place. The Central Coast or this part of it has benefited through the pandemic, because people are choosing to holiday locally and this has always been the big pull for this part of the Coast. The more people visit, the more they want to stay to continue that lifestyle so house prices have risen quite a bit. Not so good if you have to rent for the market has dried up and rents have soared.

On Wednesday I visiting my daughter who lives in Newcastle. Newcastle is a fabulous place to visit and the coast line is full of interesting places. We visited Stockton Beach which has suffered badly due to the recent storms with much of the beach closed.

On the was home Poppy and I stopped at Catherine Hill Bay which is really quite magical. It is hard to believe that they loaded coal for many years here. Apart from the wharf and remains of some man made structures along the beach, you might see the occasional lump of coal on the beach, black against the whiteness of the sand.

Last Saturday I visited my son and his partner in Sydney. Then I went to the SCG to watch my team the Sydney Swans play the Adelaide Crows. It was a beautiful day. Warm and sunny, perfect weather for watching the footy. I am a member of the Sydney Swans, having grown up in Victoria, I really appreciate the AFL in Sydney.

Sydney had a good win and afterwards we went for dinner at Barangaroo a wonderful spot which was really busy on a balmy Saturday night. After dinner Erin and I stood in a long winding queue at Rivareno Gelato. The gelato is the best I have ever had and is worth the trip to Barangaroo on it own.

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