THE OLD SYDNEY AVIARY

THE OLD SYDNEY AVIARY

In 1860 Alfred Denison, brother of the then Governor-General, was leaving the colony and donated his collection of birds to the government. The only condition was that a suitable home be created for them. The site chosen was in Sydney’s Botanic Gardens, on the eastern boundary of

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ODE TO GOLDEN SYRUP!

ODE TO GOLDEN SYRUP!

Peter Kotz, a fellow social history buff, took the photo below. The rusting, 70 lb golden syrup drum was found on a rough bush track near Alice Springs. Golden syrup was such an integral part of life in the parched Australian outback. It replaced butter on a

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GHAN TRIP – THE DINGO PROOF FENCE

GHAN TRIP - THE DINGO PROOF FENCE

You wouldn’t think that a scruffy looking fence in the Australian outback would capture the imagination of so many people, myself included. Stretching for 5,614km it’s the longest continuous fence in the world. It was constructed to keep marauding dingoes out of the relatively better pastoral lands

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GHAN – DAY TWO….THE ALICE TO QUORN GOLD THEFT.

GHAN - DAY TWO....THE ALICE TO QUORN GOLD THEFT.

Early breakfast approaching Alice Springs. This was meant to be a travel piece, but I was side-tracked by the story of the gold. Now there has never been a murder aboard The Ghan (well not that we know of), but there was a heist of gold bullion

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CATCHING THE GHAN AT ALL COST!

CATCHING THE GHAN AT ALL COST!

In days gone by you could turn up a week late to catch The Ghan and still be in plenty of time. The Aussie outback train was often delayed by wash-outs, sand-drifts or mechanical failures. I love this poem from 1952 about a car speeding along the

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A DISAPPEARING HOUSE AND WALKING TREES

A DISAPPEARING HOUSE AND WALKING TREES

This is a guest post from Warren Bishop, a direct descendant of James Smith, who built Tasmania’s famous ‘disappearing house.’ The Disappearing House at “The Corners” Conara Standing at the turnoff to St Marys at Conara, the so-called “Disappearing House” earned its name by the illusion of

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THE REDOUBTABLE DR GARDE!

THE REDOUBTABLE DR GARDE!

Dr Henry Croker Garde  was a long term resident surgeon at the Maryborough General Hospital in Queensland. Born in 1855, he was a graduate of Queen’s University, Belfast and  a prize winning Fellow of  the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. The doctor was well travelled, having

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STELLA MARKS’ PORTRAIT OF EDITH CAVELL

STELLA MARKS'  PORTRAIT OF EDITH CAVELL

First, a little background. In 1931, art collector George Garnett presented prominent Hobart surgeon Dr. Victor Ratten with a gift, in thanks for saving the life of his young daughter. Appropriately, the gift was a large oil painting of the British nurse Edith Cavell. Nurse Cavell was

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A CONSTABLE WITH COURAGE AND COMPASSION

A CONSTABLE WITH COURAGE AND COMPASSION

In April 1929 there was a devastating flood in the small tin mining town of Derby, in north-eastern Tasmania. A dam burst after a period of unprecedented rain. Fourteen people lost their lives and many others their homes and livelihoods. The death toll would have been much

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THE LOST PORTRAIT OF EDITH CAVELL

THE LOST PORTRAIT OF EDITH CAVELL

IN APPRECIATION….. In 1931, Dr Victor Ratten performed life-saving surgery on 14 year old Myra Garnett at the Royal Hobart Hospital. Some weeks later the girl’s grateful father presented Dr Ratten with a generous and most appropriate gift. George Garnett was a British born art connoisseur and

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