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War!

 

At age 15 in 1939, the Second World War ‘broke out’ with very vivid implications even for those of us at home:  food rationing; petrol rationing; and later when the Japanese came into it brownouts and blackouts were also imposed. 

Coffee for one thing was practically unprocurable so people had to make do with substitutes both for that and other things.  For a coffee substitute you could stick together about a dozen pieces of wheat with burnt sugar to form a sort of a blob; if you put three or four blobs in a cup of boiling water it would taste like coffee.  I know; I used to drink it.

Everybody was issued with ration tickets which had to be used very sparingly.  Of course the few who were fortunate to have money could buy all they wanted on the black market with the possible exception of petrol, of which the Military and Essential Services had the monopoly.  But for everybody else there was nowhere near enough. 

But most problems have a solution – in this case a ‘charcoal burner’ – a big ugly monstrosity of a thing about five feet high by one foot wide mounted on the passenger side of a car on the running-board (step), belching fire, smoke, fumes and pollution everywhere.  The gas the charcoal emitted was fed into the fuel system which in some sort of way took the place of petrol but was nowhere near as potent. 

Vehicles in those days did not develop very much horsepower at all, compression ratios were very low, about 7.5:1 compared to about 12:1 today.  Also the octane rating of petrol was only about 70 compared to 91 or 95 today.  To coin a phrase ‘they wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding’.  When the car was going uphill under load in top gear the engine would start pinging (ping ping, ping ping, ping).  The only way you could stop it was to back off on the accelerator then you had to change down a gear, which would use more fuel.  It was compulsory to paint the sides of the mudguards of your vehicle white so they could be more easily seen in the brownouts. 

After Darwin was bombed and the fear of a possible bombing and invasion by the Japanese drew closer people started digging air raid shelters. 

I spent a whole week digging a huge hole in our backyard.  It was very hard digging through clay let me tell you.  It used to stick and cling to my mattock and when it was finished I was very proud of the effort I had made for my family.  I was only about 17.  One night it rained very heavily and filled the whole bloody thing with water; so much for the air-raid shelter.  Luckily as it turned out it wasn’t needed anyway.

When the Japanese bombed Darwin there was complete and utter panic and thousands of people fled south in a mass exodus to a small place called Adelaide River.  They came on horseback, cars, trucks, motorbikes and bicycles.  It was referred to as the ‘Adelaide River Stakes’.  At that time Adelaide River was the culminating point of our rail link. 

Both the casualty rate and the damage caused by the bombing were very heavily censored.  The next day I remember seeing a lone soldier with a Bren-gun mounted on a tripod standing on Manly Beach.

The Australian Government also in a state of panic had formulated a pathetic plan to abandon the whole northern part of Australia to the Japanese and to form a last ditch stand at the ‘Brisbane Line’. All I can say is ‘God bless America’ because if it hadn’t been for them the Japanese would have been all over us like a rash and what do you think would have happened then?

‘That’ I will leave to your own imagination.

 For what happened next go to A Digger's Tale

 

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Travel

Hong Kong and Shenzhen China

 

 

 

 

 

Following our Japan trip in May 2017 we all returned to Hong Kong, after which Craig and Sonia headed home and Wendy and I headed to Shenzhen in China. 

I have mentioned both these locations as a result of previous travels.  They form what is effectively a single conurbation divided by the Hong Kong/Mainland border and this line also divides the population economically and in terms of population density.

These days there is a great deal of two way traffic between the two.  It's very easy if one has the appropriate passes; and just a little less so for foreign tourists like us.  Australians don't need a visa to Hong Kong but do need one to go into China unless flying through and stopping at certain locations for less than 72 hours.  Getting a visa requires a visit to the Chinese consulate at home or sitting around in a reception room on the Hong Kong side of the border, for about an hour in a ticket-queue, waiting for a (less expensive) temporary visa to be issued.

With documents in hand it's no more difficult than walking from one metro platform to the next, a five minute walk, interrupted in this case by queues at the immigration desks.  Both metros are world class and very similar, with the metro on the Chinese side a little more modern. It's also considerably less expensive. From here you can also take a very fast train to Guangzhou (see our recent visit there on this website) and from there to other major cities in China. 

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Fiction, Recollections & News

The Writer

 

 

The fellow sitting beside me slammed his book closed and sat looking pensive. 

The bus was approaching Cremorne junction.  I like the M30.  It starts where I get on so I’m assured of a seat and it goes all the way to Sydenham in the inner West, past Sydney University.  Part of the trip is particularly scenic, approaching and crossing the Harbour Bridge.  We’d be in The City soon.

My fellow passenger sat there just staring blankly into space.  I was intrigued.   So I asked what he had been reading that evoked such deep thought.  He smiled broadly, aroused from his reverie.  “Oh it’s just Inferno the latest Dan Brown,” he said.   

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Opinions and Philosophy

Carbon Capture and Storage

(Carbon Sequestration)

 

 

 


Carbon Sequestration Source: Wikimedia Commons

 

At the present state of technological development in NSW we have few (perhaps no) alternatives to burning coal.  But there is a fundamental issue with the proposed underground sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2) as a means of reducing the impact of coal burning on the atmosphere. This is the same issue that plagues the whole current energy debate.  It is the issue of scale. 

Disposal of liquid CO2: underground; below the seabed; in depleted oil or gas reservoirs; or in deep saline aquifers is technically possible and is already practiced in some oil fields to improve oil extraction.  But the scale required for meaningful sequestration of coal sourced carbon dioxide is an enormous engineering and environmental challenge of quite a different magnitude. 

It is one thing to land a man on the Moon; it is another to relocate the Great Pyramid (of Cheops) there.

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