My fellow Australians,

Who the hell are we?

We are one of the most urbanised nations on earth, over 80% of us live in cities and those cities are all on the sea, almost the entire population lives within 50 kilometres of the ocean. That doesn’t include us renegade Castlemainiacs though does it? Yet the ‘quintisential Ozy’ lives in a place called the outback. We call it that because we are all hugging the coast and looking out to sea. At first we were searching for a ship from the motherland, now we scan the horizon for a glimpse of the real world that goes on somewhere beyond the horizon. Meanwhile our alter ego sits tall in the saddle of her magnificent steed, one hand to her sweaty brow, scanning the horizon of the red earth searching for fat cows and lost sheep.

We see ourselves as peace loving, generous, tolerant people yet is that how the world sees us?

The rest of the world sees a country constantly at war. We have been at war with both Iraq and Afganistan for over 7 years now. We here in Sleepy hollow may have forgotten about those wars but I can assure you the people of Iraq and Afganistan have not, nor has anybody else.

The rest of the world sees a nation hell bent on denying asylum to some of the most desperate people on earth, fleeing conflicts half of which we have created, while we debate whether to tow their boats back out to sea and use them for target practice.

The rest of the world sees a nation that treats its Indiginous people like shit. Always has and always will. We may believe we are trying really hard to ameliorate their endless suffering, but the world, I’m afraid, sees only our complete and utter failure, Why do we treat them so? Is it punishment for making us feel guilty?

We are one of the wealthiest nations on earth yet we sit back and watch our nearest neighbour Papua New Guinea descend into barbarism. We attempt to diddle our other neighbour East Timor out of their oil. We turn away Pacific Islanders desperately seeking somewhere to go after their countries disappear under the rising seas. A problem we have helped to create and are unwilling to fix.

Maybe it is time to administer a few drops of Optical Viagra and take a good hard look at our selves.


Ben Boyang

Australia Day History

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 departure to lands unknown. 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 Boyang                                                        


Ban the Burqa


‘Hoody’ Ben Laycock 2001

It is high time the burqa is banned altogether. It’s too confronting. All these women sneaking about hiding their identities. Maybe they aren’t even women, maybe they are bank robbers.

Paradoxically, banning the burqa appears at face value to restrict a woman’s freedom, but on closer inspection it becomes apparent that it is actually liberating her from oppression. As we are all aware the woman in a fundamentalist Islamic sect is compelled to wear the burqa by her husband, who is in turn ruled by the Mullahs. No ifs. No buts. In London recently, the local council finned a woman for wearing a burqa. Fortunately they didn’t insist she take it off immediately. Her husband promptly declared she would no longer be allowed outside the house at all because he did not want other men looking at his wife. It is the iron fist of the mullahs that the state must resist. Let us not forget, the state for all its failings, is far more democratic than any church, with far more participation by women. It is the sign of a civilized society that scantily clad women can stroll down the street on a summer’s day unmolested, despite whatever lewd thoughts some of their admirers may no doubt be thinking. To require a woman to wear a burqa, indeed to make a woman cover her body at all is an admission by the patriarch that he is incapable of controlling his lust and is no more than a wild beast.

Some have suggested the wives of fundamentalist Islamic men actually enjoy their slavery, but for every woman they find who is happy to look like a sack of potatoes, it is easy to find 10 who aren’t. Ayaan Hirsi Ali (former muslim turned vocal critic) being a shining example. Surely no one would suggest a woman as beautiful as she should be covered up at all, and let’s be honest here, these fundamentalist patriarchs claim they are keeping their beautiful wives from the ogling gaze of other men but I suspect their wives are actually really ugly. Call me sexist if you like but I believe the female form is the most beautiful thing in all the world and it should never be covered up at all, weather permitting. If I were the Mayor I would decree that everyone must go stark naked whenever the temperature reaches 30 degree. I do believe this would have a marked effect on obesity, not that I would be one of those poking fun at the fat people, especially as I am growing a little pounch all of my own.

Ok, I relent, maybe we could allow fat and ugly people to wear a burqa but all the beautiful people would be made to share their gift with all the world.

After all this is how we humans lived very hapily ever since our fur fell off a long time ago, including the indiginous people of this land ,till they were taught to feel shame by the fundamentalist Christians, but that is another story.

Gosamer Bin Liner 2010



The last of the Iraqi Yazidis are stranded on a lonely windswept mountain surrounded by the scorching desert and a marauding hoard of bloodthirsty savages.

But don’t worry Mr. Rabbot is coming to the rescue.

The Yazidis are one of the oldest religions in all the wide world, their origins lost in the mists of time. It is said they have adopted elements of Christianity, Gnosticism, (whatever that is?) Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Islam. Taking the juicy bits of these fads as they passed by. The Yazidis in turn have been mercilessly persecuted by just about all these creeds and most anyone who has come across them since time began. Such is their lot.

Alas there are no more than 100,000 Yazidis left, most of whom reside in Germany, ironically enough. How the mighty wheel of history turns. Those fleeing religious persecution find a safe haven in a land once synonymous with the word persecution.

This year is the year 6,762 in the Yazidi calendar so yes they certainly are very old indeed.

The Yazidis are Monotheistic – believing in but one God. This was a pretty radical idea back when Methuselah was a lad, when people were decidedly promiscuous, worshiping all manner of strange animals and objects, all at the same time. But their monotheism is the cause of all their problems. You see The Yazidis worship a giant Peacock: Melak Tans-the peacock angel, as God’s Deputy on earth, to the exclusion of all comers.

Apparently, according to ancient texts hidden in dark caves and passed down from generation to generation, God created 6 other angels and ordered them to make Adam (that’s us humans) and make HIM the Deputy. But Melak Tan was not having a bar of it. He said ‘no’. He said no to God himself. He said ‘what part of no don’t you understand my dear God’. Melak Tan said, ‘I will bow to one God, and one God only’. Surprisingly, God said ‘Good answer Melak, (they were on a first name basis by now) you have passed my little test, I will dub YOU my Deputy on earth.

All very well and good, but unfortunately this bears an uncanny resemblance to the story of Satan, who also challenged God and was not rewarded for his independent thinking, but was banished to Hades for his temerity and has been in a foul mood ever since. This is why the poor Yazidis have been mercilessly harassed from one end of Arabia to another since time immemorial as Devil Worshippers.


Ben Boyang 2014


Marijuana Dreams Go Up In Smoke!

Smoking pot is quite possibly the most popular illegal activity in the world, due no doubt to the fact that governments throughout the globe are almost unanimous in their philosophy that ‘if it feels good, ban it!’

Surveys indicate that about 30% of the Australian population have smoked pot at one time or another. This number would obviously increase to above 50% if it were legally available. So, if a majority of the population would like to smoke it, why, in a democracy is it still illegal? I have often pondered this conundrum. Personally I gave up the stuff long ago. Back in the 70’s (remember them?) we were convinced that legalization was just around the corner, but alas all our dreams went up in a puff of smoke. So here we find ourselves 40 years later and no closer to that dream becoming a reality. The cops are still running around chasing pot growers and pot sellers, despite the fact that the higher echelons of the police force itself feel it is a complete and utter waist of their time and resources.

I think it is fair to say that your average common or garden pot smoker would be a left winger, and for most smokers legalisation is far from the most important issue in their lives, so any left wing party is not going to pick up many extra votes by calling for legalisation.   Whereas for those members of the community that oppose drugs, all drugs and every drug, no butts, it is a very emotive issue, a vote changer. There are a significant number of working class people, or ‘working families’ as they are now referred to, who would not vote for a party that otherwise had their best interests at heart, if that party was ‘soft on drugs’.

So the impasse continues ad infinitum.

This analysis can be extrapolated to many other thorny issues that crop up on a perennial basis. Terrorism, boat people, gay marriage, abortion, euthanasia, killer bees, etc, etc. The core issue of any democracy is surely, who controls the purse strings, the wealthy elite or the rest of us? But somehow the rich have convinced us that other issues are far more important than getting our fair share of our countries abundant riches. The working poor have made a deal with the devil, ‘we will allow you to rule over us, and exploit us and neglect our fundamental wellbeing as long as you keep us safe from drugs, gays, terrorists, hooligans, anarchists, killer bees and every other fear that fills our hearts with dred.

This time-honoured and effective stratagem is called Rule by Fear.


Ben Laycock 2012

Why is Castlemaine the new Black?

Google Castlemaine and you will find it in the very centre of Central Victoria, in the beating heart of Dja Dja Wrung country. The Djara people have been making art around these parts for many a long year. In more recent times many non-indigenous artists have come to join them in this wholesome pursuit.

Why is this so?

In order to answer that question we must transport ourselves back in time to that seminal moment in history when gold was discovered in them there hills. The very first spec of that fever inducing substance ever found in Australia was picked up right here in Forest Creek in 1851. This very soon led to possibly the greatest human stampede in the history of the world, right to our doorstep. Never before or since have so many people from so many corners of the globe descended on one spot in such a short time. The population of Castlemaine swelled to over 100,000 in the space of 6 months.

The Djara people were not amused to say the least, but knowing full well that no one in their right mind would willingly leave their mother country unattended for too long, they naturally assumed that the interlopers would go home soon enough. Tragically for them, this was not to be the case.

Painting in broad brush strokes I think we can say that most country towns around here were established on flat plains next to a water source of some sort, adhering to the time honoured maxim: ‘ If the sheep like it, so do we’. But our little town did not get anywhere riding on the sheep’s back. Here we found something far more attractive than sheep, so our town was plonked slap bang in the middle of the most beautiful hills, covered in a blanket of pristine forest. However, in their enthusiasm to find those little yellow stones, the hills were soon denuded of all vegetation and all the topsoil was washed away down the creek. Leaving a moonscape quite unfit for sheep grazing or anything else for that matter. So nature was left to lick its wounds and repair itself as best it could without the help of its traditional custodians.

Meanwhile the ever-industrious Castlemainiacs set about building a town to rival the great cities of Europe.

Leaping forward 100 years or so to the swinging 60s, we find little groups of bohemian artists arriving on the train to forage for exotic fungi and paint the quaint old buildings and the lovely hills now restored somewhat, through utter neglect, to their former glory. Serendipitously the said bohemians were pleasantly surprised to find a run down miner’s cottage in Maldon could be snapped up for less than a run down flat in Carlton, and paid off with a part-time job at The Pram Factory. So began the trickle that has now become an avalanche. But why on earth do they keep on coming? We have no rivers or lakes or spas, we have no mountains or beaches, yet still they arrive by the trainload. What they are looking for is Culture.

Apparently there is a significant number of Melbournians who find city life less than ideal: The smog, the road rage, the alienation, but they are loathe to spend the rest of their allotted time on earth languishing in some cultural backwater. So when they come across a quaint little country town where the kids can ride to school and leave their bikes unlocked and their mums can sit in a Left-bank Café run by an Italian that can barely speak English and discuss the merits of Aliane de Button’s latest dissertation while hubby is at birthing classes, and they can sell their fully renovated apartment in Rathdowne St and build a straw-bail house and still pocket half the proceeds, and they get to keep their part-time job lecturing in Semiotics at R.M.I.T.- well you can’t fend them off with a stick.


Ben Laycock 2012