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The billabong

 

There was a billabong not far from our place.  If anybody ever wanted to get rid of any unwanted puppies or kittens it was no problem, all they had to do was to put them in a sugar bag with a couple of house bricks, tie the top of the bag and toss it in the billabong.  You could see dozens of these bags half submerged floating around covered in a filthy green slime all over the place. 

The billabong was also home to thousands of crayfish, which by using various means were not that hard to catch.  I would take them home and mum would put them in a saucepan and proceed to boil them on the gas stove, you could see filthy brown slimy bubbles coming out of them.  I never told mum about the cats and the dogs.  How we all did not come down with some serious disease I will never know, we must have all had an iron constitution.

After a lot of rain most billabongs were home to hundreds of frogs. The bloody things would keep you awake all night with their croaking, but we would get our own back the next morning.  We got stuck into them with our catapults, it was great fun.  We would often see a frog on top of another one; we used to call them double deckers, not knowing in our youthful ignorance what it was all about.  Small birds like sparrows, starlings and pee-wits were easy prey with the catapult but the bigger birds required the use of the air-rifle. 

 


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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

Announcing Leander

 

(Born Wednesday 14 May 2014 at 5:23 AM, 3.3 kg 53 cm)

 

Marvellous.  Emily, my eldest daughter, has given birth to my first natural Grandchild (I have three step-grandchildren).  She and Guido have named him Leander.  Mother and child are well.

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Opinions and Philosophy

Australia and Empire

 

 

 

The recent Australia Day verses Invasion Day dispute made me recall yet again the late, sometimes lamented, British Empire.

Because, after all, the Empire was the genesis of Australia Day.

For a brief history of that institution I can recommend Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World by Scottish historian Niall Campbell Ferguson.

My choice of this book was serendipitous, unless I was subconsciously aware that Australia Day was approaching.  I was cutting through our local bookshop on my way to catch a bus and wanted something to read.  I noticed this thick tomb, a new addition to the $10 Penguin Books (actually $13). 

On the bus I began to read and very soon I was hooked when I discovered references to places I'd been and written of myself.  Several of these 'potted histories' can be found in my various travel writings on this website (follow the links): India and the Raj; Malaya; Burma (Myanmar); Hong Kong; China; Taiwan; Egypt and the Middle East; Israel; and Europe (a number).  

Over the next ten days I made time to read the remainder of the book, finishing it on the morning of Australia Day, January the 26th, with a sense that Ferguson's Empire had been more about the sub-continent than the Empire I remembered.

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