A Collection of Stories and Reflections
This page contains stories, short reports, observations, reflections and sometimes points of view. Some relate to motorcycling. Others may have come about from non-motorcycle experiences while touring. Others might simply be an expression of feelings and thoughts on random subjects. Please take them at face value. I hope you enjoy reading them.
Click on a heading to take you to the corresponding page. There will be a link there to bring you back to Fireside
R J Cooper
This is the story of a young man I “met” on a motorcycle ride from Wagga Wagga to Canberra. I was on a minor road in the countryside when I spotted a small memorial. I was curious and stopped to investigate. I learned of a 22 year old local boy who had joined the RAF, became a pilot of a Wellington bomber and was killed over North Africa during WWII. We was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He had an interesting story to tell; but no one to tell it. So I have tried to do so here.
The Dunera Boys: Accidental Immigrants
This is a story worth telling and experiencing. One of the lesser known events from the Second World War when some two thousand political refugees fleeing Nazi persecution in Britain were detained, interned, deported to Australia under horrific conditions and ended up in POW camps. There’s a museum dedicated to them and their story I visited in the southern NSW town Of Hay.
King Roger II was a Norman King in the 12th century who reigned over a territory that encompassed the southern half of Italy, Sicily, Malta and parts of North Africa. In the early 20th century, a Polish composer, Karol Szymanowski, wrote an opera sort of based on King Roger. Opera Australia staged it for the first time in January 2017. Having recently before that delved into the real King Roger II's life, I felt compelled to see the opera. This is my take on it.
The Bethungra Spiral
The Bethungra Spiral is a deviation on the main Melbourne to Sydney railway that takes the track into a 360⁰ spiral built in the 1940s to reduce the incline up the Bethungra Range to a gradient manageable by the steam-driven locomotives of the day. While the electric diesel locomotives of today wouldn’t need it, the spiral is still in use for the “up line”.
Phil Garlick was a racing car driver at the old, steeply banked speedway in Maroubra, a sea-side suburb of Sydney. In the halcyon days of Maroubra, Garlick was one of the speedway’s greatest attractions. Garlick won the coveted Lucky Devil Cup in 1926, less than a year before his car hurtled over the lip of the track’s steep bank taking Garlick to his death. His appearance on Fireside comes about from a radio program that I contributed to...and my dad was his mechanic.
The Mezquita (Spanish for mosque) in Cordoba is an amazing building that combines Islam and Christianity. El Crucero is The Crossing – the passage that links one side of the mosque to the other through the nave of the cathedral. It brings the two institutions together; and, in a symbolic way, does the same with the two religions. I had an inspiring conversation about this with a Muslim lady who has had a long association with the history and philosophy of Al-Andalus (as the Muslim dynasties of the past called their Spanish and Portugese Kingdom).
Reg Dodd Stories
I met Reg in Marree on my Big Trip North. He was chairman of the Marree Arabunna People’s Committee. The Arabunna are the local Aboriginal people. I discovered a day later in Coward Springs that Reg was a renowned story teller. Some of his stories were reproduced on story boards in the renovated driver’s room at the old Coward Springs siding. With Reg’s permission, I have reproduced several of his stories.
William Crick of Wentworth
William Crick was my great grandfather. He arrived in Australia from England in 1852. He first settled in Truro, South Australia. He was 19 years old when he arrived. Over the years, he had mail contracts between Adelaide and Wentworth; and Wentworth and Bourke and Wilcannia. He ran a steamer and wool barge along the Darling River. He later moved to Wellington and then Sydney. This story is about his early pioneering days.
Kirtling Cricks Part 1
Having researched William Crick, I then got drawn into researching his ancestry. The results to date are published here. This might be a 'moving feast.' As one works through records, lots of new and often inconsistent insights emerge. I hope Crick genealogy fans might find it interesting.
Kirtling Cricks Part 2
This second part draws from data obtained in the first and several subsequent censuses in England, beginning in 1841. This wasn’t available to me when I prepared Part 1. Part 2 presents a lot more detail and some great insights into the life of the Kirtling Cricks. It also corrects some wrong guesses and assumptions made in Part 1. Eventually, I’ll turn both parts into a coherent whole, but for now it might be easier to manage to have them separate.
This is a contentious subject to say the least. A subject that one might sensibly eschew if only to stay out of the line of fire. But it’s lately (August 2017) become such a fractious issue that I’ve succumbed to temptation and tried my hand at some personal feelings about the subject – with a few gratuitous comments on other social issues.
The Eternal Observer: Encounters with God, Creation and Religion
This one might be a bit out of left field (no political allusion intended). It’s an amalgam of thoughts and frustrations that every now and then percolate to the surface. This piece began life as a “Note” on my personal Facebook page. But I discovered the Note app doesn’t appear on the tab and phone versions of Facebook so few would have seen it. I decided to publish it here in case it might be enjoyed by a broader audience; and added a subtitle to help shine a light through any initial obscurity.
The Cazneaux Tree
My ‘discovery’ of this famous tree, located in the Flinders Ranges and photographed by Harold Cazneaux in 1937, compelled me to research it ahead of my planned Big Trip North. I found, to my bemusement, two versions of the original photo, but one was a mirror image of the other. Is there a mystery or a simple explanation? Either way, how do I know which is the true image?
The Dragon Rider
Did you wonder about the main picture on the pages of this site? A dragon rider and his dragon? Did you even pick it as a dragon? It was inspired by Eragon and his dragon, Saphira. And there’s a good reason why the dragon rider and his dragon feature on this site. kingdom).
Riding with My Grandson
My grandson, Dylan, enjoyed riding on the back of my bike from about the age of 10. We mostly did short trips, but did one to the Blue Mountains – quite a day’s ride from home – and a three-day each way ride to Queensland and back. The climax was a three-week ride in India, Nepal and Bhutan when he was thirteen.
Writing Off my GS500
This happened with my then 17-year-old stepdaughter at the helm. Fortunately, it wasn’t serious for her. It just wrote the bike off. It was a sight to arrive half an hour afterwards and find her sitting on the gutter with helmet still on! There was a good reason for that – at least, for her.
This is a great story. No, not mine. Shantaram’s. He had a life as a guest of Pentridge (former high security prison in Melbourne). As an escapee on the run he spent many years in the slums of Bombay. He was known there as Shantaram. He has a novel about his story and experiences. I met him in a bar in Mumbai.
Well you might wonder. I stumbled across an allusion to him in an old edition of the Australian Road Rider. One of many esoteric allusions that The Bear, as the then-editor calls himself, manages to weave into his writings. As a result of my need to find out more about Gulistan, I uncovered a small gem of a thought – one of many he recorded in his works.
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