Tag Archives: Woy Woy

Weekend Coffee Share – 27th April, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share.

How are you all holding up under the varying strains of the coronavirus? Although they’re calling it a pandemic, it’s not affecting all countries equally and there’s also such a variation in how it affects those who’ve become infected, that there’s far from a shared, universal experience.

I suspect I’ve now been in lock down now for about six weeks with Geoff and the kids being home for four. The kids have been on school holidays for the last two weeks, although I don’t really feel it’s quite fair to call what they’ve had “a holiday”. It’s really been more of a continuation of limbo, and at times lock down feels very much like being in jail. Australia’s a pretty mellow country most of the time, however, Police powers have ramped up and we are living in a Police state. Of course, it is for our own good, and some idiots need to be controlled by external forces. However. that doesn’t mean we need to like it.

DSC_9231

A sign of the times- local picnic table wrapped up in red tape to due social; distancing restrictions.

I’ve also been getting a bit annoyed with people in the media calling this the worst thing that’s happened. It’s not. There are still survivors from Jewish concentration camps alive. There are still others who went through the horrors of WWII. Our recent bush fires here in Australia, have affected us a lot more than the cononavirus has so far. I simply don’t see the need for them to turn this crisis into anything bigger than it already is. It’s already bad enough.

What we have really enjoyed and appreciated lately on TV, has been two music specials. There was One World Together At Home organized by Lady Gaga. However, we also had our own Australian version, Music from the Home Front which was held on the night of our ANZAC Day to honour those who have served our country in war as well as those in our hospitals who are the front line warriors in the battle against Covid 19. Fortunately, the Australian concert overcome the sound engineering difficulties which made it difficult to hear some of the performers in the world concert. I absolutely loved it, and much preferred the Australian concert. These were my people.

I have also been getting out for “My Walk”. By the way, you can put that up there in lights. Due to my health issues, Geoff is doing all the shopping and the odd bit of other running around. So, the only time I’m legally allowed to leave the house, is to go for my walk. If I didn’t know better, I’d be thinking this was some sort of conspiracy between my physio and the WHO. She’s been trying to get me to go for a daily walk for years. Of course, in the end I had to accept that this was fake news. As if the physio could conjure up the coronavirus and kill all these innocent people just so that Rowena  in distant Australia would finally go for her daily walk.

However, while there are some days where I can’t be bothered and doing exercise comes  with its usual expletives. However, I’ve also found there’s a fine, almost imperceivable line between being a proud Super Sloth on the couch, and doing a Bruce Banner metamorphosis into the Incredible Hulk. Indeed, cabin fever’s snuck up on me a few times, usually late at night or when I’m trying to sleep. OMG! It’s unbelievable. It’s like an insatiable itch you just can’t scratch. I had a couple of really difficult days last week, where I felt totally trapped, and there was a blast of unbridled angst  surging through me body and soul. It was quite horrible and for awhile there I felt like I was going to self-destruct, only I’ve been through this before and knew I just needed to ride it out. That like all storms, this too would pass.

 

That’s why I’m trying get out for my walk most days now, and I’ve even taken the camera with me a couple of times. Last week, I went for a walk around the Woy Woy Waterfront right on dusk. The sun was setting and I managed to get some beautiful photos of the orange sun setting behind the silhouette of the wharf. I also spotted some kind of white crane, which was quite resistant to letting me get close up for that knockout shot. It was also rather confronting seeing the local playground closed up due to the virus and there was one park bench in particular which brought it all home. It was wrapped up in so much red tape, it could have been a government department. The mannequins all lined up in the opportunity shop, also seemed rather eerie and goodness knows how long they’re going to be shut away behind the glass.

Umina Beach from Pearlie

A Paddle-boarder making the most of social isolation.

Later on in the week, I went for a walk at nearby Pearl Beach. I’ve been finding the repetitive routine of simply walking down the road to our beach a bit tiresome and I’ve needed a change of scenery. I went walking with my usual coffee and writing buddy Roland, who is in his 70’s and lives alone. Whil we were there, a kookaburra came right up behind us and sat on the park bench. I was pleased Roland pointed it out and the kookaburra didn’t seem at all camera shy, although it did seem to be looking for a feed.

DSC_9434

Kookaburra close up at Pearl Beach. 

I’ve also been continuing through the Blogging From A to Z Challenge. My theme this year is Places I’ve Been, which I chose to overcome the claustrophobia of being locked down at home. I’ve accomplished quite a lot, and it’s great to have collated this collection of my personal travel stories. It’s actually helped me to appreciate how much I love travel and exploring places both through the lens and my pen, and how that hasn’t changed although I haven’t been overseas for almost twenty years. It’s been such a long time, and something I fully intend to rectify once these travel bans are lifted. This jail bird will be fleeing the coup!!

The series has also re-engaged me with blogging, which is good. It’s been an excellent tonic during the madness of the covid 19 pandemic and it’s helping to keep me somewhat sane.

 

U – Umina Beach, Australia…A-Z Challenge.

Welcome back to Places I’ve Been, my theme for this year’s Blogging From A to Z April Challenge. Today, we’re off to Umina Beach, which isn’t very far away for me at all. It’s actually only 700 metres down the road.

Indeed, Umina Beach is home. Geoff and I moved up here almost 20 years ago to buy our first home. Despite what we thought would be a quick renovate and flip, we’re still here. In fact, we haven’t finished those renovations, and what we did manage to get done back at the beginning, needs to be re-done. After all, fixing up a fixer-upper is a lot like painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge. By the time you finally reach the finish, you need to  start painting at the beginning again.

Zac at the beach

Zac at the beach a few weeks ago.

Geoff and I didn’t plan to leave Sydney, or even buy a place in Umina Beach. We’d started looking around real estate in Sydney, but came up to Umina Beach to visit our niece and this place was for sale two streets away. This massive decision was all very spontaneous, although you could also say it was meant to be. However, as we’ve found out, this decision was a lot more far-reaching than deciding where to camp for the night. Although Sydney’s only an hour down the road and Geoff commutes there for work, it’s not the same as actually living there.  It’s taken me quite a long time to call Umina Beach home, and I still consider myself a Sydney person. This region is considered part of Greater Sydney. However, when I was alone at home with the new baby and Geoff was commuting to Sydney and away most of the day, I really felt that distance. However, through getting involved in Church, playgroups and community action groups, that started to change. By the time the kids started school and I was also working part-time for a local IT company, I felt a lot more settled. Through living there, we’ve managed our mortgage on one income, without being enslaved to the mighty mortgage which is the norm in Sydney. It’s naturally a lot more relaxing around here with the beach at one end of the street and flat, inland water suitable for sailing and kayaking down another. Can’t complain about that!

 

Lady at Ocean Beach

Lady at Ocean Beach, NSW.

So, after that rather lengthy introduction, you must be wondering if we’re ever going to make it to the beach. My apologies. I can take all of this a bit for granted what with living here all the time. However, before we hit the beach, I need to make a quick distinction between the name of the place and the names of the beaches around here. The place is called Umina Beach, but the beach itself is divided into Ocean Beach, which is just down from our place, and Umina Beach to the West. However, it’s all one expanse of golden sand and a fabulous place to go for a walk. There’s even a designated dog beach.

Nippers Running

Our son racing at Nippers, a junior form of life saving. 

In so many ways, the beach is our cultural hub and a true blue melting pot where lifesavers, swimmers, walkers, dogs, kids and seagulls all congregate, exercise and relax. We’ve taken the kids down to the beach from the time they were born, and held them into the frolicking waves, until they were old enough to hold their hands and eventually join Nippers, along with many of the other local kids on a Sunday morning. Now, our daughter goes down to the beach with her friends and Geoff and our son prefer sailing. I have done some swimming, but am better known as walker and dog walker, although there can also be a bit of talk with that as well.

The set of photos above were taken in November 2007 celebrating Geoff’s Birthday.

Our beach has had some rough times over the years. Rough storms have removed tonnes of sand, ripped out rows of native trees and extensive remediation works have been undertaken to halt the damage. The road around the beach front was even closed off for awhile there, as there were concerns it too could fall in the drink. I don’t think this situation has really stabilised but it might’ve improved.

Geoff & Rowena

Just off Umina Beach, there’s the Umina Precinct Park, which as a dream come true for the local action group I belonged to when the kids were small. Back then, even getting a local park with a fence seemed like an impossible pipe dream. However, council came onboard and the project snowballed into a regional park and tourist attraction. This was well beyond our wildest dreams, and I should remember this when a situation seems hopeless. Never give up!

Flamin Ron the World’s Hottest Chilli Pie on TV

However,  every town has to have its personality. It’s claim to fame. For Umina Beach, this comes in the form of pastry chef, Ron Bruns from the Bremen Patisserie and his infamous pie… the Flamin Ron, the world’s hottest chilli pie. While I know Ron quite well and love his almond croissants and bee sting cake, I’ve never even considered dipping my little finger into one of these pies, let alone tried to eat one. In case you’re wondering whether this pie is as ruthlessly hot as it claims, you actually need to sign a legal waiver beforehand. So, that’s warning enough for me. However, despite local horror stories, there are still mighty warriors willing to take on the Flamin Ron challenge blow the consequences. This includes Richard, who tells a wonderful  tale

Woy Woy Air Strip

Woy Woy Air Strip extending down to Umina Beach with Lion Island right in front of the runway. 

While I was putting together this post, I did some historical research, hoping to find some historical detail of interest. After all, if you’ve been following me throughout this series, you’ll know how much I love jumping into my time machine, travelling back in time beyond the present day. It’s somewhat well-known around here that there used to be an air strip through town. I couldn’t have told you exactly where it was. However, that’s what Google’s for and the old newspapers.

This brings us to the Woy Woy Airstrip, which was built during WWII along with an aerodrome. The runway extended from Woy Woy down in a straight line along what’s now Trafalgar Avenue into Umina Beach, ending about a street away from our place. During WWII, the air strip was even used by US bombers. You can read more about it here  at All Things Woy. 

Tiger_Moth

Imagine this crashing into your roof. Luckily, no one was home when a Tiger Moth crashed into a Umina home in 1950. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

However, our street wasn’t always a street away from trouble. On the 4th November, 1950 long a few life times before we moved in, a Tiger Moth plane crash landed into a house at the end of the street. Of course, 70 years down the track, having a Tiger Moth crash land in your street sounds particularly exciting (especially after being in lock down for at least 6 weeks!!), although I should also point out that the pilot was injured. The plane crashed into the roof, and as the pilot wandered out in a dazed state, he fell 15ft  off the roof. Fortunately, residents Mr and Mrs Henson were away visiting their daughter in Sydney at the time. The plane crashed right on dinner time, and it’s almost certain they would have been killed. So, there’s something more I learned on my travels during the Blogging From A to Z Challenge.

Couple Ocean Beach best

Sunset at the beach

Well, it’s now time to leave Umina Beach behind and get a bit of shut eye before our adventures start up again in the morning. Indeed, I might need to stay home for awhile after all this travel is over. What I would give to sleep in my own bed again, instead of tramping along the road from hotel to hotel.

Oh, that’s right. I haven’t been anywhere at all. It’s just me, myself and I stuck inside these same four walls along with Geoff, two teenagers and three dogs.

Humph! We’re definitely in need of a holiday!!

How are you holding up in isolation? Where would you like to go? My list is just getting longer and longer. However, due to my health, my movements are particularly restricted. So, right now even being able to walk into a local shop to buy some chocolate has become an impossible dream. That said, I’m certainly not going without. Hoarding chocolate hasn’t become a crime.

Take care & stay safe!

Best wishes,

Rowena

Frozen In Suspended Animation.

“All is as if the world did cease to exist. The city’s monuments go

unseen, its past unheard, and its culture slowly fading in the dismal

sea.”

― Nathan Reese Maher

Today, while I was out on my walk, there was something strangely eerie, even haunting, about seeing all these mannequins lined up in the front window of a local opportunity shop. From a distance, they even appeared strangely human, and like the rest of us,  frozen in suspended animation under some kind of a spell. Indeed, they’re even social distancing behind the glass. At the moment, they also have nowhere to go. The shop is shut due to Covid 19 until further notice.

When you take a closer look at each mannequin, you immediately sense the enormous care, attention to detail, and dare I say love; which have gone into dressing each one, especially when we’re talking about throwing together a pile of second-hand clothes. Every mannequin has also been given a pair of matching shoes, as if even they couldn’t possibly be seen barefoot, which is quite something for a beach community. Indeed, they could each be Cinderella dressed up to go to the ball. However, they each have their own personalities and different places to go. Some of the mannequins have even been positioned together…a couple, mother and daughter and a Central Coast Mariners’ supporter.  All these stories just waiting to to be lived out, once the door finally re-opens and each of these outfits finally walks out.

manniquins

Of course, not everyone is living in suspended animation at the moment. Far too many are caught in the gruelling grip of the Coronavirus, have lost loved ones or are working on the front line saving lives. For those who have lost jobs and are desperately wondering how to make ends meet, they’re also feeling way too stressed to zone out as well.

These are traumatic, strange and eerie times. However, there are also moments like seeing this window filled with quirky mannequins,  where you can crack a smile and take the edge off it all. This is what people in a host of very intense situations have always done to cope and it helps.

We’re thinking of you all in whatever situation you’re in.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

The Perfect Crime…Friday Fictioneers.

As the plane touched down at Sydney Airport, Jamilah knew she was safe and they’d never find her working at Macca’s Woy Woy, wishing the world a “nice day”.

Quiet and unassuming, Jamilah passed right under the radar, barely the shadow of a shadow.

Then, she met Jerome.

Of course, she’d never planned to fall so deeply in love, fusing into one exulted flesh. Giving herself to someone so entirely, that she disappeared, engulfed by the flames.

It wasn’t her fault, or was it? That he got caught in the flames and burned. Yet, now she was a wanted woman.

…..

100 Words.

Sometimes, I like to provide a little background into my flash fiction efforts. However, this week I wanted to leave it open to interpretation and see what comes back. Initially, I was tempted to write about when I was in Europe as 21 year old back in 1992. However,  this story took on a life of its own.

I set this piece in nearby Woy Woy, which is a bit of a backwater with a funny sounding name, as a tribute to Spike Milligan and the Goon Show. Spike Milligan’s parents and younger brother moved to Woy Woy and Spike was occasionally jocularly referred to as “the boy from Woy Woy“.

“Woy Woy”is a corruption of the indigenous term apparently taken from the local Darkinjung Aboriginal people, and reputedly means ‘big lagoon’ or ‘much water’, referring to the deep tidal channel adjacent to the town centre.

“Macca’s” is Australian for McDonald’s and is where many of our local teens find their first job and is a popular after school hangout. I also found myself hanging out at McCafe when our kids were young and the play area with it’s locked high gate was heaven-sent.

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields, where we write up to 100 words to a provided photo prompt. PHOTO PROMPT © CEAyr

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Happy Birthday To Me…Enjoying the Australian Outdoors.

Happy Birthday to me!

We cruised by the sea.

Bushwalked to the lookout.

Then went home for tea.

Welcome to my virtual birthday party. Once upon a time, one of my friends would’ve turned up with vodka jellies and chocolate mouse, but I can offer you a Tim Tam. You could also join us to watch a great Australian movie: Oddball. It’s based on a true story of a Mareema Sheepdog, Oddball,  who saved a endangered colony of fairy penguins from foxes. We loved it.

Today, I reached the magical age of 21…again!

After opening presents this morning with the family, we set off bright and early for a history cruise along our local waterways with the kids’ Scout group. Although I’d originally planned to head into Sydney to the Koi Dessert Bar for my birthday, this cropped up and it felt like a ready-made party. We just had to turn up…perfect!

Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf, Woy Woy.

The cruise set out from Woy Woy, which is is roughly 2 hours drive North from the Sydney CBD. You might recall that Spike Milligan placed Woy Woy on the world stage, although you could say the publicity was hardly positive. He described Woy Woy as “the world’s only above-ground cemetery”.

Indeed, this is what he had to say about Woy Woy back in 1959, when he wrote a portrait of his parents’ home “Goon Fishing”:

“There is, somewhere in the steaming bush of Australia, a waterside town called Woy Woy (Woy it is called Woy Woy Oi will never know).

 

Only Fools Go Fishing: Fisherman’s Wharf, Woy Woy, Australia.

I stumbled across this photo as my reorganisation of my digital photos continues. It was taken at Fisherman’s Wharf in Woy Woy about an hour’s North of Sydney’s CBD. Just in  case  you’re thinking “you had to be there”, I managed to snap this pelican strutting straight inside the fish & chips shop looking for a feed. From my perspective, it’s a rather cocky-looking character who acts like he owns the place.

Unruly pelicans and sea gulls squabbling during feeding time.

Unruly pelicans and sea gulls squabbling during feeding time.

The pelicans there are very bold and audacious. Indeed, gangs of pelican thieves have been known to snatch and swallow plastic bags filled with fish from unsuspecting diners.

Mister with my aunt at Fisherman's Wharf back in 2004 when he was only a few months old and bald was beautiful!

Mister with my aunt at Fisherman’s Wharf back in 2004 when he was only a few months old and bald was beautiful!

Of course, the pelicans are gorgeous but they do extract their pound of fish.There’s nothing like a free lunch!

xx Rowena

Clean Up Australia Day 2015

Last Sunday, we joined hundreds and thousands of Australians donning yellow rubber gloves and grabbing a rubbish bag for  Clean up Australia Day, where the community comes together to remove mountains of rubbish and trash from our sparkling  waterways and gloriously golden, sandy beaches.

“If we’re destroying our trees and destroying our environment and hurting animals and hurting one another and all that stuff, there’s got to be a very powerful energy to fight that. I think we need more love in the world. We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that.”

Ellen DeGeneres

Ian Kiernan AO

Ian Kiernan AO

Clean up Australia Day , Clean up Australia whose mission is “To inspire and work with communities to clean up and fix up our Earth”, is the brain child of Ian Kiernan AO. In 1986/87 Keirnan represented Australia in the BOC Challenge solo around-the-world yacht race and during this event he was disgusted by the huge amount of trash he observed floating around in the world’s oceans.  In particular, having waited years to see the Sargasso Sea’s legendary long golden seaweed, Kiernan’s excited anticipation turned to anger and disappointment when he found them polluted and tangled with rubbish.

“Just before it was dark, as they passed a great island of Sargasso weed that heaved and swung in the light sea as though the ocean were making love with something under a yellow blanket, his small line was taken by a dolphin. He saw it first when it jumped in the air, true gold in the last of the sun and bending and flapping wildly in the air.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

You see, the Sargasso Sea is the huge, slowly rotating eye of the North Atlantic Gyre, where the currents not only attract the beautiful golden seaweed but also the world’s trash. While not as big as the Pacific Trash Vortex, it’s still not pretty and yet another reminder of humanity’s brutal impact on our beautiful, precious and increasingly precarious planet.

You can read about blogger Sebastian Smith’s trip to the Sargasso Sea here and appreciate it’s beauty: http://blogs.afp.com/correspondent/?post/Swimming-in-the-abyss-of-the-Sargasso-Sea

Fired up on his return to Sydney, Kiernan took action and launched a clean up of Sydney Harbour. Clean Up Sydney Harbour Day in 1989 received an enormous public response with more than 40,000 Sydney siders joining in to help. Rusted car bodies, plastics of all kinds, glass bottles and cigarette butts were removed by the tonne. Success fueled success and the following year, Clean Up Australia Day was born.

“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.”

Albert Einstein

Scouts heading out to Pelican Island, Woy Woy.

Scouts heading out to Pelican Island, Woy Woy.

I actually met Ian Kiernan back in my past life working in environmental marketing  and Ian Kiernan presented the awards at a function I’d organised. I was in my 20s at the time and had to ring him on his mobile to confirm and I was shaking in my boots. Imagine ringing up the man Australians fondly call “Mr Yucky Poo”. He was lovely but I was more than just a little nervous!!

Fast-forwarding to 2015, I was thankful we were doing Clean Up Australia Day with the kids’ scout group.

You see, left to my own devices, I wouldn’t know where to start cleaning up.

Our house would be a great place to start. We could sure use an army of volunteers to clean up our backyard. Then, we could move onto our attic, where a more diverse array of stuff than the Pacific  Junk Vortex, lies in storage.  Every now and then we look up and say a few prayers hoping all that stuff doesn’t feel overpowered by gravity and comes crashing down through the ceiling, yearning to get back down to Earth.

These  troubles are beating me on the home front. So, when it comes to cleaning up the entire country, it’s pretty intimidating. Overwhelming even and just the sort of thing that will get me catastrophising in all sorts of ways which aren’t pretty.

Miss Cleaning Up Australia

Miss Cleaning Up Australia

After all, Australia isn’t exactly a tiny little speck in the ocean. Oh no! It has an area of about 7.692 million square kilometres and the Australian mainland has a total coastline length of 35,876 km (22,292 mi) with an additional 23,859 km (14,825 mi) of island coastlines.

That’s a hell of a lot of cleaning up!!

“How do you eat an elephant?

One mouthful at a time.”

Also, left to my own devices, I could also be tempted to head down to our national capital, Canberra, to clean Australia of some of its politicians and even more so, the media which is probably generating most of the rubbish spewing from these quarters. I’ve been particularly unimpressed this week that there has been further debate about the national leadership while two Australians in compassionate circumstances, are about to be executed in Indonesia. I would hope that this isn’t the only pressing matter our government should be dealing with right now either. Meanwhile, they should all be sent back to primary school where they could learn how to get along. (Perhaps, I should introduce them all to the Golden Rule?!!)

Quite frankly, I’ve had enough of the rubbish our politicians are spewing out at the moment. Our NSW Premier is in the throws of selling off the State. I’m surprised that he hasn’t sold off  his own suit. Indeed, I suspect all of our public toilets are about to be privatised and we’ll all be left busting in the lurch…not just Little Johnny!

Thank goodness there’s an election coming up. Ciao bella! We’ll give them all the flush.

By the way, my apologies to the majority of politicians who make a tireless contribution to our community and aren’t trying to bring about leadership spills!

Our Scout Group at Pelican Island, Woy Woy.

Our Scout Group at Pelican Island, Woy Woy.

So without any detours via Canberra or NSW Parliament House, I was on location with the scouts signing people up and handing out gloves and bags to cubs, scouts and families and our token community volunteer. The scouts have an inflatable rescue boat which we used to ferry the volunteers to Pelican and Riley Islands in Woy Woy to clean up. As my broken foot is still tender, I was on deck chair duties while Geoff helped set up the Gazebo and BBQ and started cooking the snags. He did a very good job too. Australian sausages are usually incinerated charcoal but these were cooked to perfection.

Geoff on BBQ duties cooking up a snagalicious lunch.

Geoff on BBQ duties cooking up a snagalicious lunch.

While the sausage sandwiches might have filled them up, the scouts were attracted to my homemade choc-chip cookies like flies to a BBQ. I’ve since decided to throw out my copy of How to Win friends & Influence People and just hand out cookies instead. Who knows, I might even make it in politics?!! Indeed, could the humble cookie lead me on a path towards world domination. Who knows but I’d certainly get the scouts’ vote. Shame they’re all under 18 and can’t vote.

Mister zooming off to Pelican Island

Mister zooming off to Pelican Island

I don’t know what sort of junk you expect to find doing such a clean up. However, I would not have expected the kids to find hundreds of golf balls so far away from any golf course. It’s looking like there’s some sort of clandestine golf tournament being held somewhere along the waterfront at night. Given the number of golf balls found, this thing must be drawing quite a crowd. However, I can’t held wondering how the poor unsuspecting fish feel when a flying golf ball suddenly belts them on the head. They’d have trouble swimming in a straight line after that!

The scouts also found some Coke cans dating back to the 1980s. That’s well before any of those kids were even thought about let alone born. I was their age back then so it really does go to show how long this rubbish hangs around polluting our natural environment. Yet another reminder of the negative impact humans are having on our precious environment.

However, these Coke cans could be recycled.

Apparently, 80% of the rubbish salvaged from Clean Up Australia Day is recyclable, so all this junk could and should have been recycled instead of chucking it into our waterways. However, now that it’s been salvaged,  it also means, I would presume, that all this rubbish is now off to the recycling centre. Good stuff!!

Meanwhile back at Pelican Island, our scout group sure knows how to carpe diem seize the day. The kids were out in the kayaks, playing beach volleyball and yes, scoffing all those choc chip cookies. The sun was intense and in between swims, there was the challenge of trying to catch little peoples on the run and apply sunscreen over wet skin dripping with seawater. Oh yes…and trying to keep hats on heads. One of these days, the freckles will cease to be a case of join the dots if we’re not vigilant.

Now that the sun has set on Clean Up Australia Day as good as it was for our scout group to get out there and do their bit, my inspiration goes back to Ian Kiernan. He was one person facing a huge job of trying to get the rubbish out of our oceans and the first steps of this incredible visionary have been replicated right around Australia for the last 25 years showing just what is possible when humanity comes together for good. Who would have thought you’d be able to motivate the masses to get out there and fish foul rubbish, syringes, broken glass, stinky cigarette butts out of the water without being paid a fortune? It’s quite incredible!!

Before I head off, thought I’d share Greg Bray’s thoughts that every day needs to be Clean Up Australia Day: https://gregbraywriter.wordpress.com/2015/02/28/everyday-is-clean-up-australia-day/

Now that I’ve seen that we can change the world, I wonder what it’s going to take to clean up our backyard.

Hmm, perhaps I need to offer hose Scouts some more choc chip cookies!

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funny Friday: An Afternoon With Australian Actor-Author William McInnes

Last Friday, I was booked into an author talk with two-times Logie-winning Australian actor and author, William McInnes. However, after a huge day on Thursday, I wasn’t quite sure whether I’d make it. There was the trip down to Sydney and the emotionally confronting brain MRI but 5 minutes before my MRI, I also heard the dreadful news that Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes had passed away. Having survived brain surgery myself in the past, his death was pretty confronting. I wasn’t in good shape after all of this and more in the mood for deep hibernation. Yet, I was particularly keen to meet William McInnes and hear his story. There are many, many layers to this man.

Exhausted, sombre and dazed, I arrived at Woy Woy Library and sat in the front row where I could literally reach out and touch him. This was a delightfully small and intimate venue where you’re really up close and personal with the author. I was in seventh heaven!! Here I was inhaling the same air as William McInnes for a precious few hours and you never know quite what impact that will have. If you’ve heard his wild and wacky stories, you’ll know what I mean.

Fisherman's Wharf, Woy Woy, North of Sydney. The pelican perch on the roof waiting for fish from any possible source.

Fisherman’s Wharf, Woy Woy, North of Sydney. The pelican perch on the roof waiting for fish from any possible source.

Fisherman's Wharf, Woy Woy.

Fisherman’s Wharf, Woy Woy.

If you’re not Australian, you might not realise that Woy Woy is a bit of an unlikely location for an author talk of any sort let alone by a two-times Logie-winning actor and best-selling author. Although Graeme Simsion author of the Rosie Project recently spoke up here, Woy Woy is better known as being home to Spike Milligan’s Mum, having the best fish & chips and for its flocks of hungry, aggressive pelicans self-educated in the fine art of food theft. They’ll snatch your bag of fish & chips straight out of your hand without so much as an apology. That said, there has been quite an influx of refugees from Sydney and Woy Woy is becoming more eclectic.

It is no understatement that McInnes literally burst into the room converting this humble space into a stage…his stage. This man has presence…serious presence. There was gag after gag after gag.

William McInnes in uniform in the hit Australian TV series Blue Heelers.

William McInnes in uniform in the hit Australian TV series Blue Heelers.

After watching McInnes for years on the hit TV cop series, Blue Heelers, I at least thought I knew how he looked. However, the man who entered the room didn’t match up. His reddish hair was grey. He was exceptionally tall and he was casually dressed. I think I’m used to seeing him in uniform. Police uniform, that is. While he cracked jokes about his middle-aged spread, he still has the physique of the male lead and has been cast opposite glamorous beauties including actresses Sigrid Thornton and Claudia Karvan.

Actor and author William McInnes.

Actor and author William McInnes.

McInnes was there to promote his new book Holidays. I was there not only because of his professional credentials but also because he has publicly spoken and written about his wife, Sarah Watts’ heroic battle with breast cancer, which finally claimed her life around 3 years ago. They co-wrote a book: Worse Things Happen At Sea. I haven’t read this book yet because I needed a bit of a laugh after the last few weeks. Instead, I’m reading: A Man’s Got to Have A Hobby. I was told this book was hilarious, as is McInnes.

Indeed, I found him too funny. We all know about the clown and the tear and I’ve noticed in my own writing that the worse it gets, the funnier I become. When someone is exceptionally funny, I think you’re almost obligated to look for the scar tissue. More than likely, it won’t even be concealed beneath the surface. You’ll see it. Hear it. Even feel its pulse.

However, according to his wife, McInnes has always had a gift for comedy and after seeing him in action, I have no doubt that he’d even do well in that bear pit of stand-up.

While some author talks can get a little dry, McInnes rolled off tale after hilarious tale about his childhood growing up in Queensland’s Redcliffe, a popular beach suburb and on various family holidays. Much of this humour revolves around his father who makes your average embarrassing Dad look like a boring pussy cat.

1970s Barber shop: home of the short back and sides.

1970s Barber shop: home of the short back and sides.

One of my favourite stories was about when he went to get a haircut which, of course, turned out to be no ordinary haircut. If you lived through the 70s, you’ll know that the generational gap wasn’t just about sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. It was also about hair. Usually his mum gave him a haircut but she was busy so she sent him down to the local barber’s with the presumption that he’d return with the usual mandatory, short back and sides. However, it transpired that the barber shop had recently been re-birthed as a unisex hair salon, a new and intriguing development back in the 1970s when getting your haircut was like going to the toilet. There was the men’s, the ladies’ and nothing in between. Definitely no fraternization!

Anyway, McInnes goes into the salon and spots this hot girl he’d seen at the local rollerskating rink. At this point, all sense and reason evaporate and he’s putty in her precious, manicured hands. “Would you like a perm?” She asks. Being a little naive and nothing of a fashion plate, McInnes didn’t know what a perm was but swooning in her orbit, he agrees. Looking something like Goldilocks, with fear and trepidation, he headed home.

Now, you can just imagine how his father, who is renowned for his colourful vernacular, responds to this development. A WWII ex-serviceman, he was far from impressed. He tells him: “When I was your age, I was jumping out of planes chasing Germans”. The kids at school screamed: “Let’s get Horshack” (a character from this his 1970s series Welcome Back Cotter with an afro) There was also a hilarious run in with one of his school priests which I can’t even begin to relate. A bloke having a perm was beyond the pale! The whole experience was even too weird for McInnes. He soon shaved it off and his Dad was happy: “That’s a real man’s haircut”.

His memoir: A Man’s Got to Have A Hobby is full of such stories. The funniest I’ve come across so far, relates about  when he needed to go to the toilet on the way to his football match. They pulled into the service station and Dad reminds him to watch his mouth. After all, back in the day, it wasn’t polite to say you needed to go to the toilet. Oh no! Like many families, they used a swag of euphemisms instead. Out of respect to his mother’s sensitivities, at home they called it: “going goggers”, which in the great tradition of Australian speech, was abbreviated to: “I go gogg goggs.” You can just imagine why the poor petrol station attendant was so confused! He continues:

“Dad must have seen me having trouble from the lime-green ute and flung open the door. He tried to make things clearer. “For Christ’s sake…the boy wants to go goggers.. Goggers…gog…gogs…”

Still no comprehension from the attendant… ‘Listen, chief, the boy has to back out a mullet…Oh, Jesus wept, he wants to strangle one’…Still the attendant stared, …I whispered, ‘I have to poo. Can I use your toilet, please?’My father poked me with a finger. The attendant gave me a key. Dad growled. ‘Don’t let your mother hear you talk like that.”[1]

Let me reassure you that this is not how the average Australian speaks. We usually ask for “the throne” although we’re quite capable of using the word “toilet” in public these days. After all, it’s only natural!

As you can imagine, after all these laughs, I was not longer feeling lugubrious and had cheered up. Humour really does work magic.

While it really is impossible to separate William McInnes actor and author from the William McInnes husband and father who lost his wife,  this journey requires further work and consideration. I don’t want to do a rush job but give their story the time it deserves. It is a journey that our family is potentially walking although I seem to have more lives than a proverbial cat. I seem to be doing pretty well.

Stay tuned for the next installment.

xx Rowena

[1] McInnes, William; A Man’s Got to Have A Hobby, Hodder Australia, Sydney, 2006 pp 38-39.