The Road to Darwin

Chapter 1 – Hattah

We leave Castlemaine on the last day of July, heading for Darwin and beyond. We don’t see anything to write home about on the first day. Inglewood seems like a thriving little town, plenty of locals out in the street, until you notice they are actually shop dummies dressed up in old clothes. Good ploy though, you’ve got to have a gimmick these days if you want to stay ahead of the pack. After that we don’t see many real people, but there are flox and flox of sheeps. But they are really dirty. I am not impressed. After a few hours we come across a farmer outstanding in her field. I wind down the window and give her a piece of my mind:

“Your sheep are filthy.” I say.

“It’s a disgrace. You should be ashamed of yourself. When we go to the country we like to see nice white sheep surrounded by nice green grass.”

She ambles up to the fence, gives the vehicle the once over like it’s a mangy dog that should be shot, fondly pats the dead fox hanging off the barbed wire, wipes the sweat from her weary brow, takes off her Akubra,  swats a blowfly, scratched her crotch laconically, sticks her thumbs in her braces, spits out her chewing tobacco, assumes a nonchalant air and launches into a long and sibilant soliloquy. (due to her missing teeth, no doubt) Something about the drought, the wool price, the wheat board, the water board, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority the Government, the mouse plague, the locust plague, the dust storms…………

“That’s all very well,” I say,

“But what about our visual amenity, have you taken that into consideration?”

She just lets out a loud fart and wanders off shaking her head.

We get as far as Hattah Lakes on the first night, where we camp with a flock of wild emus. Emus can be very curious. They scare the living daylights out of our poor old deaf dog Gunyarr. I don’t complain to management, it is a National Park after all.

It’s great to sit by a log fire again, I haven’t done that since last night.

(Did you know that the television was invented just after the introduction of the electric radiator. It was designed to replace the trance-like state induced by starring into the flickering flames of the open fire.)

Next day we get sprung with a shit load of fruit and vegetables on the South Australian border. I am talking top shelf, organic, free range, biodegradable produce here. Goods we paid good money for. Such a shame to see it chucked in the bin, but there is only so many raw vegetable one can eat in one sitting. It’s all a big scam of course: We are meant to restock the larder at the next town. Very good for business. The Victorians do the same thing in the opposite direction, so I guess it’s all fair enough, but a terrible waste of fine food none the less.

I politely suggest the confiscated items could be given away to the poor. The officer replies:

“That is a matter for the Welfare Department, not Border Security.”

We cross the Murray at the cute little town of Morgan, our cute little car on the cutest little barge, like something out of yesteryear. It’s really hard to find a camp on the river. In the socialist enclave of Victoria, you can camp pretty well anywhere on any bloody river you bloody well like: The rivers and the beaches belong to the people. (Make that ‘Communist enclave’.) Not here in the Fascist State of South Australia, private property extends right through the river and up the other side.

Of course we camp there anyway, ready to tell any belligerent land holder that it actually belongs to the blackfellas, who are traditionally in favor of camping.

Morgan is the point on the river where it takes a left hand turn and heads South. That is why there is a massive pump that pumps water all the way to Whyallah on the Eyre Peninsula, some 360 kilometre to the West. Unbelievable, isn’t it? So some of the water cooling those giant smelters has come all the way from Queensland.

Being skeptical by nature, we decide to follow that pipeline and see if it really does go all the way to Whyallah. As soon as we leave the river it gets rather arid. Nothing but salt bush, dotted with stone ruins. We have crossed the famous Goyder Line. For those who didn’t pay attention in Form 2 Geography: Some time back in the late 18 hundreds, there was a wet period in South Australia. This happened to coincide with an influx of Prussian refugees. (presumably from the losing side in The Crimean War) The naive immigrants were sent North, with their goat herds in tow, on a quest to tame the wilderness and quell the restless natives. Their first mistake, one of many it appears, was to eradicate the natives before asking them probing questions about the prevailing climate in the area: A subject the local natives knew well, I might add, having studied it studiously for countless generations.

(Shoot first and ask questions later, as they say)

As you can guess, the good times didn’t last. As luck would have it, their halcyon days were an aberration, a blip on the flatline of semi-endless drought that we so quaintly refer to as ‘life in the outback’. The hapless pioneers scuttled back to Prussia, with their tales between their legs, leaving behind a treasure trove of quaint stone ruins to add to the rustic charm of the bucolic countryside.

Having failed to learn their lesson from the locals, nature set about teaching them anyway, with the help of George W. Goyder, agrarian visionary extraordinaire. George W. traversed the land with a pointy stick, drawing a long and meandering line, delineating the arable land from the wasteland. Henceforth all lands falling to the North of the Goyder line were to be referred to as ‘The Badlands’. It was decreed that no foolhardy farmer should ever sow a single seed outside that line, no matter how deceptively fecund the land appeared, for, as sure as night follows day, they would all be ruined. This maxim was strictly adhered to for as long as the latest drought persisted, but irrepressible optimists that we humans are, as soon as the heavens opened, the happy peasants forgot about Mr. Goyder and his pointy stick. (The downpour had washed away his markings anyway.) They rushed North again with gay abandon, (if you will pardon the expression) astonished to find perfectly good homes to inhabit, complete with barns and weather veins, just waiting to be filled with ‘hard working families’.

What a Godsend!

We can all see where this is heading, can’t we? Let’s leave the story here before it gets too grim.

Suffice to say, it doesn’t have a happy ending.

…so that is why the name George W. Goyder – agrarian hero, has been passed down from generation to generation of Form 3 Geography students, making sure he will go down in the annuls of history alongside the late, great Richard Bowyer Smith, fellow South Australian and inventor of the stump jump plough no less.

Now where were we? Ah yes we are passing through endless waistlands dotted with rustic stone ruins, surrounded by hills dotted with those ghastly wind turbines. They are everywhere. Such an eyesore. So glad to get to Whyallah and see the lofty chimneys on the steelworks, choofing out black smoke, just like Puffing Billy, so much prettier!

I ask a local why it is called Whyallah. He tells me an Afghan Cameleer once built a statue of the Muslim God up on the hill here and everyone would ask: “Why Allah?”. It is apparently the only statue of Allah in the whole world because whenever anyone else built one they got their head chopped off. Thank God the Taliban never got as far as the Eyre Peninsula.

Chapter 2  Whyallah and the incredible Giant Cuddle-fish

Just went for a swim with 250,000 cuttlefish. Awesome!.

For reasons best known to themselves, they have chosen to spend their most intimate moments before they die, between an LPG refinery and a steel smelter.

But I suspect the cuttlefish were there first.

They have chosen this unlikely spot because it is shallow and protected and has lots of rocks and seaweed to lay eggs under. They don’t seem to mind us swimming around about 2 metres above them while they do their thing. It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever encountered.

The Australian Giant Cuttlefish can grow up to a metre long. They live a solitary life roaming the seas for a year growing big and beautiful till they all suddenly get that urge to return to the place of their birth to perform one of the world’s greatest orgies.Having 5 long slippery tentacles this involves a lot of groping, as you can well imagine.

Then they all die together. Isn’t that romantic?

Lamentably, the rapacious fishing squads were the first to discover this unique event, but they did not see a great natural wonder, all they saw was floating wads of cash!

In the late ’90s, at the height of the pillage, over 30 boats extracted 270 tons of cuttlefish in the space of a few weeks, sending cuttlefish numbers plummeting towards extinction. Luckily, some bright spark realized they were much more valuable as a spectacle than as a piece of mock crabstick at the fish and chip shop.

So now the cuddlefish flourish unconcerned by the toxic activities all around them.

One can only assume that smelting metal pollutes the air far more than the sea.

Posing                                                Guarding

Auditioning                             Hiding

Scaring                                                                                                                      Ghost

Mingling

Flirting

Mating

The locals claim the air is perfectly fit to breath, even though the entire town and it’s residents are covered with a dusting of soft grey soot. Roaming the streets I couldn’t help but notice the hospital is unusually large for such a small town, and the cemetery is vast!

I searched in vein for the mythological statue of Allah, but alas I was too late. It had been reduced to a pile of rubble, like so much of our cultural heritage:

 

ISIS woz here.png

 

 

Australia Day

What actually took place on the 26th January in the year of our Lord 1788?

 

Yes, it’s that time of the year again, when we have a barney about Australia Day. So in order to avoid any misunderstandings, let us delve deep into our bosoms and ask ourselves, what exactly are we commemorating?

Some of our most venerable leaders are of the misguided belief that January 26th 1788 is the day Captain Cook arrived on these fair shores.

But alas, they are sorely mistaken, for it states most clearly in Wikipedia, for all to see, that Mr. Cook arrived some 18 years earlier in the year of our lord 1770. Others are of the opinion that the 26th of January is the day The First Fleet set eyes on our dusty continent. But that was actually a couple of days earlier, on January 19th, when they entered Botany Bay, but being quite dissatisfied with the camping facilities provided, they decamped. (no BBQ Area apparently).

Yet others believe for some reason known only to themselves, that the 26th of January is the day Governor Philip proclaimed the establishment of a penal colony on these fair shores, but who wants to commemorate that? January 26th is actually the day The First Fleet entered Sydney Cove. After securing the BBQ Area, their very first act of barbarism, (but surely not their last) was to run up the nearest hill, plant the Union Jack in the ground and claim the entire continent in the name of King George III. So what we are so boisterously celebrating to this day, is the very moment the country was stolen from its rightful owners.

After that task was accomplished the convicts were allowed to disembark from the ships. Bear in mind, they had not set foot on dry land for 8 months. Naturally they set about getting to know each other,(in the biblical sense) According to Robert Hughes, author of The Fatal Shore –‘The convicts had an orgy! If that wasn’t enough, the sailors then proceeded to get drunk and join them in their licentious cavorting.’

Maybe it is this convivial display of ‘mateship’ that we commemorate today, in a somewhat less exuberant fashion?

Whatever it is, this act of commemoration we indulge in, is certainly no ancient tradition. It was only made a National Public Holiday in 1994, by one Paul Bloody Keeting no less, who should have known better.

Remember that the historic Mabo decision was handed down just two years before, in1992. That legally binding decision completely dismissing the extravagant claim shouted from that hilltop by those enthusiastic young men on that odd and fateful day so long ago.

 

Ben Boyang 2019

The Queen Must Die!

The Queen Must Die!

-An Australia Day Reflection

(as in looking in the mirror)

 

l don’t celebrate Australia Day, because l am a traditionalist.

The blackfellas have a long tradition of not celebrating Australia Day, dating back many thousands of years. It is this ancient tradition that l uphold.

As you may well know, one of our venerable Prime Ministers was an avowed republican, but he vowed to wait for our venerable queen to die of old age before he set about the long and arduous task of establishing The Republic of Australia. While this was very sensitive of him, it could mean we are in for a long wait. Apart from the occasional sniffle she is in rude good health. Many of us may die of old age ourselves before our cherished republic comes to fruition. She could do us all a favor and abdicate, but she is a bit worried about her darling Prince Charles. Rumor has it he is a bit flakey, always banging on about organic vegetables and renewable energy and hippy shit like that. He could very well declare a republic himself if we’re not careful.

But when she dies, as surely she eventually must, we must be ready to grasp the nettle.

Let’s face it, this place needs a total makeover, root and branch.

 

  1. A new date for Oz Day, that doesn’t offend the blackfellas.

(l suggest May 8 – pronounced ‘maaate’, or even better, the day we declare a bloody republic)

  1. A new National Anthem that at least mentions the said blackfellas

(l would suggest Waltzing Matilda, but standing on the podium at the Olympics and breaking into a song about a vagabond committing suicide because he was caught inflagranto dilecto with his favourite sheep would make us the laughing stock of the entire world, if we are not already)

  1. A new National Flag that includes a blackfella and a kelpie and no union jacks
  2. A strong constitution, because you need a very strong constitution to stomach some of the shenanigans of our national parliament.
  3. A Republic – Based on true Australian values like barracking for the underdog, because let’s face it, we are a nation of losers and proud of it:
  • The Blackfellas were decimated
  • The convicts were flogged
  • The Eureka Stockade was a massacre
  • Ned Kelly was hung
  • Gallipoli was a disaster
  • The Tazzy Tiger was exterminated
  • Phar Lap was poisoned
  • Gough Whitlam was sacked

But we’re still rooting for them all, aren’t we? You bet we are!

 

We are like an old FJ Holden, limping along on 3 cylinders and spewing out black smoke. We don’t just need a grease lube and oil change, we need to recondition the entire engine, and bog up all the rust, and give her a new paint job.

(green and gold of course, or should that be black & gold)

 

So if Oz Day is destined to be more than an excuse for a piss up and a piss take, it is timely to nail down just what it is Australian Culture? Does it even exist? And while we are at it, what is culture anyway? Maybe it’s easier to define what isn’t culture. Bar-B-Qs, fishing, surfing, taking the piss, wearing thongs on your feet instead of your crotch, playing sport, this is a way of life, but it isn’t culture. In fact it could be argued that playing sport is what you do when you have no culture. The Greeks don’t run around all weekend getting skin cancer and acquired brain injuries, do they? No, they have weddings, really big weddings where they sit around inventing democracy and philosophy and shit like that. The Italians, ditto, more weddings, where they sit around eating pasta made with tomatoes grown in polystyrene boxes in the front yard. The Lebanese have endless weddings, where they sit around inventing cumbers with edible skins.

Culture grows out of the land we live in, much like yogurt. Most of us here in this nascent nation haven’t been here long enough to create a culture, so maybe we should look to those who have, the local blackfellas. We may just find we have a lot more in common than we thought, such as camping. According to the stats, we are the most urbanized society ever invented, huddled together like ginea pigs, clinging as close to the edge of this vast continent as we can possibly get, starring longingly out to sea. But we do love the great outdoors, don’t we? You bet we do! Learned anthropologists have postulated that this is quite possibly due in large part to the influence of the locals, they call them ‘aborigines’. These so-called Aborigines love nothing better than going camping, in fact their entire ‘life-style-choice’ is designed around the ability to pull up stumps and ‘go walk about’. No need to work overtime all year round to afford the airfare and the hotel and the restaurants and the exotic trinkets. Imagine the freedom of waking up one morning, any morning, grabbing your hunting gear and heading out on an adventure. No 20 kilo packs to lug, food and lodging provided as need be, and when you arrive your relies cook up a mouth-watering feast and put on a real song and dance to knock your socks off.

So we can see that the vagaries of the local climate dictate a nomadic lifestyle, including a life of feast & famine. None of this toiling all season and salting it away for the winter, to be nibbled one morsel at a time. When there was food you ate it all, when there was none, you went hungry. This life of feast & famine is yet another custom adopted and adapted from the locals. With the subtle difference that we have forgone the traditional famine bit, preferring instead, to feast pretty well constantly. In turn we have taught this recent adaptation to the blackfellas, with obvious consequences.

We can see that all true culture is shaped by our surroundings, and the elements of our surroundings that are unique is what will make us, in time unique. The unique climate created by the oscillations of El Nino have created a culture based on camping and partying (safe in the knowledge that it probably wont rain much for at least another few years.)

So what are some other unique aspects of the nature of our nature that is nurturing the unique nature of us?

Well, the place is very flat and very dry and very empty, (having decimated what few inhabitants there were) hence we have large cow farms that sport drovers with RM Williams boots and hats and a kelpie by their side, and feisty women who can ride a bloody horse and crack a whip.

We have more beaches per head than anywhere else except Canada, but most of theirs are frozen solid all year round (know anyone going on a surfing trip to Canada? No, l didn’t think so) Thus has given birth to the surfing lifestyle – driving old Volvos, smoking bongs and eating junk food, getting up early to check the waves before going back to bed, roaming around the country in semi-nomadic fashion (just like the locals)

Fishing – Many of you may remember that oft quoted saying from the great Mao Tse Tung himself, that was drummed into us all throughout grade 3 Political History: “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day- teach a man to fish and he will spend every second weekend with his mate, sitting in a dingy in the middle of a lake, getting quietly sozzled. It is a well kept secret that the fish are of secondary importance and it is actually all about contemplating the awesome beauty of the natural world. (the Japanese have a special word for this; ‘shinrinyoku’ – forest bathing)

Alas and alak, these embryonic cultural practices have begun to die out before they are fully formed. As we speak they are being guzzumped by new cultural practices like Instagram. (my friend Alex says we should start Consider-a-gram, where every comment has a 24 hour delay before it can be posted. In Consider-a-gram it is a real no-no to boast about the great fun you are having, as it tends to have a deleterious effect on those not having an orgasmic experience every five minutes. In Consider-A-Gram we like to post about the truly boring time we are having so no one gets jealous.)

Yet another unique aspect of our way of life generated by the vast emptiness that engulfs us (literally as well as metaphorically) is immigration, immigration on a vast scale. We currently import more people per head than any other country on earth. (not counting refugees of course, because they don’t count). We may not be the most multi-cultural nation on the planet but we can argue that we are the most successful at it. (Just look at The U.S.A. – now referred to as the D.S.A.) We may be lacking in culture but we are not lacking in cultural choice. This has made us a nation of foodies. A whole new growth industry of people who get very well paid to eat food and talk about it while we watch.

(Back In my day if we uttered a single syllable at the dinner table we got a whack in the earhole.)

So to be an Australian is to be into eating food, strange, exotic food.

We are big eaters, now officially the biggest in the world.

 

The more we look, the more aspects of our way of life we find that are really quite unique and special, and the deeper we look, we see that these things have sprung from our unique geography. So to sum up l would venture to say that culture is a product of the interaction between geography and time, but most of us have not yet spent enough time here to acquire culture, nor have we spent enough time interacting with our geography or learning from those who have.

 

Ben Laycock 2016

 

 

CAPTAIN COOKED

Cook & Scrotum copy
Those who did not pay attention in primary school may not be aware of the fact that Australia was discovered by Captain Cook in 1770. Some of you may be suffering from the delusion that it was discovered some 40,000 years earlier by a bunch of blackfellas. Some may believe it was Willem Janszoon, purportedly the first white man to set foot on this land, in the vicinity of Cape York way back in 1606 would you believe, or maybe Dirk Hartog who mapped the west coast in 1616, or William Dampier in 1669. But you see, the problem with all these people is they were not Englishmen and we all know that Australia was discovered by the English, the very pinnacle of human evolution according to the social Darwinism that was all the rage at the time. So there fore logically speaking they could not have discovered Australia because they were Dutchmen weren’t they? But hang on, what about good old Able Tasman who discovered Tasmania several times, way back in 1642. Well as luck would have it, bad luck as it turns out he has the dubious honour of circumnavigating the largest island in the whole world without an inkling of its existence. After circumnavigating Tasmania he set his compass due north in the hope of coming across the fabled Great Southern Land, alas, a wild storm cropped up in the night and the woke up in Aetearoa (the land of the wrong white crowd) renowned for its bloodthirsty savages. They didn’t stay long but headed north again, eventually ending up in the Philipines, then heading south-west to Batavia, (Jakarta) then returning to Drizzle & Fog a broken man where he lived out his days telling anyone who would listen: “Australia doesn’t exist, l know l’ve been there.”
Some time later Captain Cook did actually stumble across the place. Some of you may not be aware that he sailed all the way up the east coast without once setting foot on terra firma. It was not until his boat sprung a leak on the notorious Great Barrier Reef that he came ashore to fix it. There he encountered the Guugu Yimidirrh people.
He offered them gifts of cloth, nails and paper all of which they obviously found completely useless, but they were delighted when he gave them a fish, which they regarded as a symbolic gift.
He pointed his index finger at a large fury beast and enquired:
“What is that?”
Unaware that the loclals point with there nose (no doubt because they usually have their hands full) The fellow said gungurru, which is of course the Guugu Yimidirrh word for finger.
After repairing the boat, which took 6 weeks, Captain Cook bid a fond farewell to the Guugu Yimidirrh and set sail for the Cook islands which had a different name at the time, where he did not receive such a warm welcome.
He wrote in his log:
‘From what I have seen of the natives of New Holland, they may appear to be some of the most wretched people on Earth, but in reality they are far happier than we Europeans, being wholly unacquainted not only with the superfluous, but with the necessary conveniences so much sought after in Europe. They are happy in not knowing the use of them. They live in tranquillity. The earth and the sea of their own accord furnish them with all things necessary in life.’
This is a very important statement. A description of the first encounter with people living in the Stone Age. They were obviously as happy, if not happier than we are today. So that begs the question ‘what is all this development for? All this technology, all these gadgets, all this stuff. Obviously not to make us happier, we were already happy. The only advantage to all this technological development is that we can support more and more people. But is the world a better place for having more people in it? Are we happier because there are more of us? This is not a rhetorical question? This is a very important question, at the very nub of the paradigm shift we face. The only advantage to an ever increasing population is that it is good for business. An ever growing population is an ever growing market. It keeps wages down and prices up. It keeps the economy growing and an economy that is not growing is not an economy at all.
Now where was I before I drifted off course into that diatribe. Ah yes, Captain Cook was sailing off to meet his grizzly fate. A friend of mine was teaching at a school in Aukland a place much frequented by auks and Cook islanders. She innocently asked of her 5th graders ‘what do you know about Captain Cook?’ A little girl, of no more than 8 years old pipped up with:
“My great great grandfather ate him”

Aparently Australia wasn’t always called Australia. When Captain Cook first arrived in his boat, he spied a group of natives involved in some sort of ceremony involving fire and animal sacrifice. Ignoring the caution of his less intrepid companions he strode purposefully up to them and asked:
“What…you….call…this…place?”
To which the natives replied in surprisingly good English:
”Barbeque area, bro”
Captain Cook promptly claimed all of Barbequearea in the name of the king and returned to England forthwith to tell said king the good news. The king however was not impressed, having delt with cheeky natives before.
“They were pulling your leg mate, having a lend of you, taking the piss”. The good Captain was blank with incomprehension till the king said “Jimmy, they were being faceacious.”

Ben Boyang 2010

Australia Day History

Oz map-nothing
As we all learnt in grade bubs, Invasion day is the day the first batch of convicts arrived on our fair shores. The few members of the invasion party who were not chained up in the hold, ran up the nearest hill, stuck a Union Jack in the ground and proclaimed the entire island now belonged holus bolus, to the king of England.
I don’t think they realised just how big the island really was, and still is. Were the rightful owners of the place consulted in this serious matter? Were they even informed of their newfound status as chattels of King So and So? A rhetorical question, of course.
Some of us in our blissful ignorance however, may not be aware that fateful day of January 26th also commemorates the only coup de tat ever to take place in Australia. In 1808, exactly 20 years to the day after the arrival of the first fleet, a bunch of disgruntled officers from the New South Wales Corp overthrew the government of the fledgling colony. I do not mean to besmirch the good name of the gentlemen involved, but it has been reputed that they were drunk at the time. Not surprising considering that the legal tender of the colony was rum. Giving Australia the dubious distinction of being the only place in the world to employ such a form of currency.
Legend has it that when the said soldiers arrived, singing ribald sea shanties no doubt, Governor Bligh was found cowering under the bed. He was discovered there by one Captain Thomas Laycock no less, a distant relative of mine, I do believe.

Of course, that was not the infamous Captain Bligh’s only claim to fame was it now? This is the very same Captain Bligh that, some 20 years previously was set adrift, as depicted so dramatically in ‘Mutiny on the Bounty.’ The story goes that the lads were having a high old time in Tahiti with the local lasses, a welcome relief from their own sore bottoms, when Captain Bligh had the audacity to order the anchors reeled in and the sails set for a return to the land of fog and drizzle. The lads having by now grown quite fond of their native paramours, and finding their attraction reciprocated, made the very sensible decision to abandon their captain rather than their lovers. Poor captain Bligh was set adrift in a dinghy on the open seas, with only a Yam as sustenance.(though it was purportedly a more than average sized yam) After suffering unspeakable sunburn on an epic journey of over 1500 miles, he arrived at what is now Timor L’Este.
The lads, meanwhile found Pitcairn, an idyllic little island in the middle of nowhere, promptly burnt The Bounty, just in case anyone was having second thoughts, and their they lived (happily) ever after. I do believe their descendants are still living on the island to this very day, though they have become a little in bred over the years, allowing some rather unsavoury habits to develop, but that is another story.
Ben Laycock 2010

Church Bans Christmas!

Church Bans Christmas!
In the latter half of the 1500s the Puritans took over much of Europe, urged on by Queen Elizabeth (the first, of course, quite a different woman to the second, renowned for her hedonism)
They did not believe in having fun, not dissimilar to the Taliban today.
They first thing they did was to ban Christmas altogether, claiming, accurately that it did not get a single mention in the Bible. Claiming, correctly again that it was a pagan ritual of indulgence based on the Roman Saturnalia. The Saturnalia was a bachanal of debauchery and depravity where the poorest peasant was made the king for a day and all his foolish decrees were to be obeyed, such as; everyone must remain naked. The slaves were waited on by their masters. Absurdity was the order of the day.

Xmas was banned from 1647 till 1660- anyone found celebrating was fined 5 shillings- a king’s ransom in those days. The baking of minced pies was also banned. Upon the promulgation of these onerous edicts there was rioting in the streets. Blood was spilt. Lives were lost.
In New England (what was to become the United States) Xmas was banned until 1870. In Scotland it was banned until 1958 (l kid you not)
A key item of worship in the northern regions is The Yuletide log that once burned brightly all of Xmas day, a custom that has withered here in the antipodes for some unknown reason, whilst in the U.S. it has been contemporized: There is a Yultide log channel on the television so one can watch it burning all day long.( Believe me, l have seen it with my own eyes, but l can tell you, it is not a real log. It burns all day without diminishing. Perhaps this is one of the many miracles of Jesus Christ our Saviour?)
So that is Xmas or Saturnalia, a northern midwinter festival, absolutely nothing to do with the Midsummer Festival that we all celebrate around the world at the Summer Solstice. As we have very little record of traditional midsummer festivities here in the Great Southern Land, having exterminated the participants before documenting their amusing habits. ( something the anthra-apologists are very annoyed about) We must refer back to the habits of our European ancestors. These were people who knew how to party, not yet having invented Public Liability Insurance and Risk Assesment Protocols. It was a time of respite between the sowing and the harvesting, a time of healing and a time of fertility. 77 ½ herbs were gathered to cure all the known diseases plus The Unknown Disease.
A bonfire must be lit of immense proportions (No Total Fire Bans in those days) Once everyone is sufficiently inebriated they are required to leap over the fire and even run through the glowing ashes. Those who pike out will not have a good harvest and their house will burn down. Witches were traditionally placed on the top of the pyre but now-a-days that is considered a breech of O,H & S.
Young maidens find this an ideal time to pick up the usually catatonically shy young men. The idea is to remove ones vestments beside a pool in a quite glade in the forest. Pearing into the waters, your future husband will miraculously appear out of nowhere.( l am assured this time honoured practice still renders similar results to this day)
So what were some of the other weird cults doing around this time of the year?
The Jews, the Muslims, the Zoroastrians, the Yazidis. Well it turns out the dates of their festivals vary from year to year and over the millenia have long ceased to bear any relation to the solar year (how long it takes the earth to go around the sun – 365 days 5 hours 49 minutes 12 seconds)
The Christians however, under the astute rule of Pope Gregory rectified the problem way back in 1582. The Julian Calendar had become hopelessly out of sink with the solar year, by a whopping 10 days. This was simply rectified by erasing 10 days from the calendar year. Alas, those who missed their birthdays were not amused, there was rioting in the streets, blood was spilt, lives were lost.
The Gregorian calendar uses this simple and effective formula:
Every fourth year is a leap year – we add an extra day, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. For example, the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 are not leap years, but the year 2000 is. Thus we keep in sink for thousands of years. Neat huh!
So here we are today, 5 centuries later and no other religion is yet willing to adopt this very practical calendar, simply because it was started by a rival religion. Therein lies the problem of religion itself: When faith and common sense collide, it is common sense that invariably loses out.

Ben laycock 2015

Local Lives – Global Matters Conference

l want to tell you all about a little surprise some of the local yokels have cooked up for you. A gathering of such immense proportions it could be bigger than the truck show, bigger even than the Monster Meeting of 1854, with similar repercussions.
The midwives of this audacious attempt to sculpt our minds, is a hardened group of seasoned activists called Local Futures. This mob have been putting on these shindigs all around the world for several years now:
Berkley and Byron Bay in 2013 (Soul Sister Cities)
Bangalore in India in 2014, Oregon, Soel and Castlemaine this year. So we are in illustrious company.
All part of a momentous global upheaval taking place before our very eyes.
So, you may be asking yourself, ‘what the fuck is it all about?
Well as far as l can gather with my limited schooling, it all revolves around this word relocalization, a buzz word that seems to mean localization that you do again.
Basically the idea is we all spend a very intense 3 days nutting out the nuts and bolts of how to run our own lives without the ‘help’ of the Corporate Megalomaniacs and Blood-thirsty War-mongering Psychopaths that run the world at this present juncture in time. People, and l use that term loosely, that think nature was put there by god for their own personal use.
At the end of the gig, we shall then send said Powers-That –Be, a terse text message informing them that their services are no longer required and recommending they go home and spend more time with their families.
(if anyone has their phone numbers that would be much appreciated)

As l said, l do believe that nothing as big as this has been accomplished in a town as small as this, by such a rag-tag bunch of rank amateurs, anywhere in the known world.
Where else would you expect to see people milling about in such multitudes, plotting the demise of the Oligarchs? The United Nations perhaps, the climate summit in Paris maybe?
With just a smidgeon of hyperbole l declare this could very well be the seed that grows into the mighty red gum that can withstand the ragging torrent and the endless drought.
This conference could very well turn out to be the founding stone of the most progressive town in Australia, if not the world.
Everyone is welcome!
Attendance is compulsory
Come along and help build a whole new paradigm, one mud brick at a time, then when your grand children ask you:
“Nona, where were you when it all began?”
You can say:
“l was right here in Castlemaine, doing my bit.”

Local Lives – Global Matters

Ben Laycock 2015

Melbourne? 180 Years of White Domination!

We could be living in

Microsoft Word - Document2
Batmania

According to the Pundits, in the year of 1835, one John Batman Esquire was the first white man to arrive sober in the spot that now beers the boring title of Melbourne. He stuck a sharp stick in the ground and declared grandiosely, “This is the place for a Latte”. Prophetic words indeed. Coming from the bucolic isle of Tasmania and being a prize egotist he naturally wanted to call the place Batmania. However, unbeknownst to him, a far more crafty fellow by the name of Fawkner arrived very soon after in the S.S. Enterprize. (I kid you not) Being a prize Suck-hole he petitioned the Prime Minister of England to call the place Melbourne. Coincidentally the P.M.s name was Lord Melbourne, so being yet another prize egotist he hearltily agreed.
And so began the most livable city in the world. But it was not always quite so livable. Very early on it was plagued with parking problems.
Burke St. in particular was a nightmare. Can you even imagine doing a u-turn with a fully loaded dray and 6 ornery oxen without getting stuck in a bog or caught on the protruding stumps.
So one Henry Hoddle was commissioned to solve the problem. Which he promptly did. Presenting the burgers with ‘The Hoddle Model’. Being a simple man of simple mind he simply drew up a grid with his trusty set-square that he always carried in the top pocket of his trusty smoking jacket. Tragically, a mere slip of the quill inscribed an ugly black line from top to bottom. The said Burgers naturally enquired as to its purpose. Deftly, in a moment of uncharacteristic imagination, our Mr. Hoddle called it ‘The Melbourne Bypass’ Thus was born the infamous Hoddle St., bain of our existence, cursed for ever more as a slow-moving parking lot. To this day any young lass or lad, setting off to Melbourne to make their mark in the world, will receive the same parental advice; ‘Whatever you do, avoid Hoddle St, at all costs”.

CAPTAIN COOK

Those who did not pay attention in primary school may not be aware of the fact that Australia was discovered by Captain Cook in 1770. Some of you may be suffering from the delusion that it was discovered some 40,000 years earlier by a bunch of blackfellas. Some may believe it was Willem Janszoon, purportedly the first white man to set foot on this land, in the vicinity of Cape York way back in 1606 would you believe, or maybe Dirk Hartog who mapped the west coast in 1616, or William Dampier in 1669. But you see, the problem with all these people is they were not Englishmen and we all know that Australia was discovered by the English, the very pinnacle of human evolution according to the social Darwinism that was all the rage at the time. So there fore logically speaking they could not have discovered Australia because they were Dutchmen weren’t they? But hang on, what about good old Able Tasman who discovered Tasmania several times, way back in 1642. Wasn’t he a full blooded Englishman? Why wasn’t he allowed to discover Australia?

Buggered if I know.

So we all know that Captain Cook visited Australia in 1770. Some of you may not be aware that he sailed all the way up the east coast without once setting foot on terra firma. It was not until his boat sprung a leak on the notorious Great Barrier Reef that he came ashore to fix it. There he encountered the Guugu Yimidirrh people.

He offered them gifts of cloth, nails and paper all of which they obviously found completely useless, but they were delighted when he gave them a fish, which they regarded as a symbolic gift.

He shot a large fury animal and asked one of the Australians what it was called. The fellow said gungurru. The first Australian word ever recorded.

After repairing the boat, which took 6 weeks, Captain Cook bid a fond farewell to the Guugu Yimidirrh and set sail for the Cook islands which had a different name at the time, where he did not receive such a warm welcome.

He wrote in his log, ‘From what I have seen of the natives of New Holland, they may appear to be some of the most wretched people on Earth. But in reality they are far happier than we Europeans, being wholly unacquainted not only with the superfluous, but with the necessary conveniences so much sought after in Europe. They are happy in not knowing the use of them. They live in tranquillity. The earth and the sea of their own accord furnish them with all things necessary in life.’

This is a very important statement. A description of the first encounter with people living in the Stone Age. They were obviously as happy, if not happier than we are today. So that begs the question ‘what is all this development for? All this technology, all these gadjets, all this stuff. Obviously not to make us happier, we were already happy. The only advantage to all this technological development is, we can support more and more people. But is the world a better place for having more people in it? Are we happier because there are more of us? This is not a rhetorical question? This is a very important question, at the very nub of the paradigm shift we face. The only advantage to an ever increasing population is that it is good for bussines. An ever growing population is an ever growing market. It keeps wages down and prices up. It keeps the economy growing and an economy that is not growing is not an economy at all.

Now where was I before I drifted off course into that diatribe. Ah yes, Captain Cook was sailing off to meet his grizzly fate. A friend of mine was teaching at a school in Aukland a place much frequented by auks and cook islanders. She innocently asked of her 5th graders ‘what do you know about Captain Cook?’ A little girl, of no more than 8 years old pipped up with ‘ my great great grandfather ate him’

 

Aparently Australia wasn’t always called Australia. When Captain Cook first arrived in his boat, he spied a group of natives involved in some sort of elaborate ceremony involving fire and animal sacrifice. Ignoring the caution of his less intrepid companions he strode purposefully up to them and asked ‘what is the name of this place’ To which the natives replied in surprisingly good English”This is the barbeque area, bro”

Captain Cook promptly claimed all of Barbequearea in the name of the king and returned to England forthwith to tell said king the good news. The king however was not impressed, having delt with cheeky natives before.

‘they are pulling your leg, having a lend of you, taking the piss”. The good Captain was blank with incomprehension till the king said “Jim, they were being faceacious.”

 

Ben Boyang