JustClik News and Blogs

Views, news and features about the Goulburn Valley. Showcasing a variety of local writers and their views.

From Wartime Cairo to Mainstream Cool

THE CLARK SHOE COMPANY BOARD THOUGHT "DESERT BOOTS" WOULD NEVER SELL AND RIDICULED THE SHOE CONCEPT AS "BROTHEL CREEPERS."

While stationed in Burma in 1949, British Army officer Nathan Clark noticed many off-duty officers wearing simple suede boots with plantation rubber crepe soles.

This was his inspiration for the "Desert Boot". Clark learned the boots had come from a bazaar in Cairo. The officers, looking for a comfortable option that could survive the harsh desert conditions had them specially made by locals.

Clark began cutting prototype patterns out of newspapers. He sent the clipping along with drawings back home to the village of Street, in Somerset. He was convinced a version of this boot could be a new signature model for his family's shoe business.

Ironically, the shoemaker's board had  determined the shoe "Would never sell."  (in those days, men's suede shoes were commonly ridiculed as ''brothel creepers''). Undeterred Clark persevered.

On his return to England, Clark sourced the finest materials and shoemakers to transform his idea into reality. Using an existing last from a popular Clarks sandal, he began to experiment. He incorporated the stitch-down construction used in other Clarks styles but used an orange thread to further distinguish the boot. Additionally, at a time when most men’s shoes were made from stiff, formal leather, Nathan opted for beige suede from the nearby tannery, Charles F. Stead. The colour of the suede closely resembled sand – subtly referencing the boot’s desert origins.

One year, 1949, after its debut at the Chicago shoe fair, the Clark's Desert Boot, designed by Nathan Clark went on sale.

It took another 15 years for the boots to make it to Europe. Clark recalled with satisfaction seeing television footage of Paris student unrest in 1968 ''where the students manning the barricades were all wearing Desert Boots''.

The simple design of the Clarks Desert Boot - with plantation rubber crepe soles and just two eyelets for laces - has remained virtually unchanged. Since the 1960s, when they became mainstream fashion wear, they have been a perennial favourite. More than 12 million pairs have been sold worldwide.

The spread of the shoe was dramatic. In coming years, it became a cornerstone of everything from teddy boy pomp and Euro-chic to 60s flamboyance (Mods), Cool Britannia and 21st-century swagger.

Across the world, revolutionaries, artists and original thinkers adopted the Desert Boot as part of their style uniform. The simple silhouette became legend.

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Hendrix once lived (next to) the Spirit of a Classical Genius

During a sojourn in the streets of London, I discovered that Jimi Hendrix once lived next door to the former home of classical genius Handel.

Hendrix was so taken by the story that he started listening to Handel's music.

After discovering his long departed musical neighbour, Jimi went out to buy the full set of Handel’s work on vinyl (his favourite record shops being the One Stop Music Shop on South Molton Street, and Oxford Street’s HMV) and according to some musical experts, it is possible to spot Handel-like influences in Hendrix’s work…

One story I heard was that Hendrix's girlfriend had opened to door to knocking and was asked by the visitors "Is this the home of the famous musician." Of course, she said "Yes!" What they were really seeking was the former home of Handel.

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A Voice in the Wilderness

A Voice in the Wilderness

In the tradition of the great Charles Dickens, I present to you a tale of two television shows.
 
I'm watching The Voice Australia season 5, and although I am well versed in the ways of modern television vis-a-vis self promotion and cross promotion, I still find it irritating to have to endure the 'coming up after the break' previews, and the 'before the break' reviews. At the beginning of the show, there's a recap and a preview and then a review and a preview at the end of the show. It's hugely repetitive, and for people like me who watch it all rather than dipping in and out, it's maddening. In my opinion, it minimizes a lot of the potential drama, and diminishes interest and excitement.
 
Classic case this week. All the advertising for the upcoming blind auditions on The Voice featured a dramatic moment when a singer collapsed on stage. Every single promo, both during the program and between episodes, showed her falling down. I had seen her fall down 47 times before I actually saw her full audition. There was no shock or surprise, no drama at all really. Had I seen it not knowing what was coming I would have been stunned, as were the coaches and the live audience, but I was only relieved that I would not have to see it anymore. Not for a while anyway.
 
I was reminded of a time I was watching The Footy Show (NRL). They held an arm wrestling competition which featured some current and ex players. Ben Ross and Wendell Sailor met in the final, and during the struggle, on live television, Sailor broke Ross's arm. The audience fell silent, horrified, as were the show's hosts and the television audience. Producers quickly cut to a break. I could not believe my eyes.
 
No one knew that was going to happen. It was an incredible and horrific moment. I've seen the accident a number of times since, and each time it has less impact, as was the situation with the Iranian singer who collapsed. I was ready for it, and she was perfectly fine not long after her fall, which I knew was the case as well because if she wasn't, we would have heard about it. The event was pre-recorded and as I said, I had seen her crumple on to the stage 47 times already.
 
I think the way shows like The Voice is produced and presented to us as viewers, as consumers, says something quite poignant about us as people. What do you think?

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A Proper Kid!

A Proper Kid!

This is my mature me self-reflecting on the how things must be difficult for children and teens today — to be proper kids.

Maybe it's peer pressure? Certainly some of the challenges kids face are directly related to media focus on fame. What does Johnny want to be? These days it is common to hear a response such as I want to be famous. The traditional doctor, soldier, fireman, teacher, even astronaut answers can be lacking.

Rewind 40 years. I was playing footy in the streets in the Winter until dusk. When it was dark, it was time for dinner. In the Summer, we played cricket in the streets. And when we weren't playing sports we'd adventure into the local orchards and channels. Yabbying, swimming and just enjoying each other's company.

We kept safe; we looked after each other. Sure we were testing limits at times, but that is part of growing up.

We even built a clubhouse with a skull and crossbones flag, marked with letters G.R.O.G (Get Rid of Girls). Think "The Goonies" and you have the picture of my childhood.

These days it's a rarity to see kids playing in the streets. Digital screens seem to soak up a lot of their time. Smartphones, iPads, computers are all useful things — but seriously; some moderation, please.

Then there's the consumerism. A lot of kids, particularly teens, get sucked into the fairy floss of brands. I know teens who will not be seen dead in something from Target or Woolworths. It has to be a brand like Nike or Adidas.

No hand-me-downs, no St Vincent de Paul seconds and definitely no High street brands.

In my time, a pair of new Levis jeans, complete with zippered fob pocket was worthy of "show and tell."

Sadly, I'm beginning to paint a picture of "plastic" kids whose connection to the outdoor world is limited. This disconnect I believe is a dangerous thing. Yes I'm generalising and there are still the exceptions but most of the today's generation are soft.

My teen years were pretty straightforward too. Going to the record shop or the movie theatre was a real treat. Sport still kept me entertained when I wasn't studying. The structure and its simplicity to this day holds me in good stead.

Geelong Grammar has long had a school policy of encouraging some old-fashioned discipline in Year 9. Arriving at Timbertop, in the wilds near Mansfield, the teens are stripped of all technology and find themselves in a "sink or swim" environment. Chop their wood, cook their meals, clean up after themselves. Loads of extracurricular activities like bushcraft and survival skills. In a way, like a para-military style of training of our youth.

Talk to any ex-grammar student and they will say "Timbertop" was the best year. Kids need discipline and structure, they often just don't understand it's good for them.

Not every family can afford an "outward bound" style experience, but there are ways to encourage kids and teens to get outdoors. Sports and recreation in the fresh air are affordable ways to supplement their modern inclinations.

Volunteering is a good way for young people to learn from adults. I was fortunate enough to be in the company of a proper kid and his mum on the weekend. Without complaint, he spent the day helping his mum in a fundraising activity. He was like a sponge, soaking up as much as he could from the events and people around him.

A proper kid who is lucky enough to have a strong, good mum.

 

 


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That's Amore

That's Amore

“I am in love and there is nothing in all the world which produces as much suffering as love. Hate or even indifference do not inflict as much damage to the heart as love. For to love is to expose one’s soul to penetration by the fiery arrows of betrayal, of deceit, of disappointment. To love is to make oneself vulnerable. Love can weaken and diminish a man as readily as it can strengthen him. The stampeding herd of my emotions which has left me crumpled and useless on the ground is of infinite number, and cannot end its rampage until I close my heart. I refuse to concede.”
-          from the prologue to Lovesick
 
One of my fondest memories of the wonderful Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis partnership is them singing That’s Amore. When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine…that’s amore. Amore is the Italian word for love, but what is love? Surely it is more than the feeling you have when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie. Love has been the subject of more songs, poems and stories than any other, and is impossible to define simply. There are different kinds of love, and they usually operate together to varying degrees; sometimes seemingly inextricable from one another.


 
What Martin was singing about was the rush of warm fuzziness which characterises being in love. This intensely nice feeling overwhelms those who are in love, and colours their world in happy, hopeful shades. In Lovesick, Angus is afflicted with lovesickness, an obsession which drives him to extreme misbehaviour.
 
Have you ever been in love? What was the major symptom of your lovesickness?

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Writing Content for Search Engines (Part 1)

Writing Content for Search Engines (Part 1)

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is as important today as ever. Perhaps even more so when writing your website content. Best practices haven't changed that much, but content marketing has changed dramatically.

Today, though, link building via content is a tactic for most SEOs and understanding the relationship between content and linking and how content can impact your search presence, are the first steps in incorporating SEO best practices into your content marketing.

Five Tips for good content marketing SEO

1.   Choose the right keywords

Once upon a time, choosing a single keyword and shoehorning it into a single page multiple times was an acceptable optimisation strategy (so long as you didn’t ask Google, anyway). Hopefully you don’t need me to tell you that things have changed.

Attaching a single keyword to a single page does not work, primarily because search engines don’t assign a single keyword to a single page – and they haven’t for a long time. Ever since search engines introduced latent semantic indexing – a process which assesses the frequency of a term and its relation to other words on the page – they’ve been pretty smart about establishing the overriding themes of a page, and consequently, the keywords for which a page should rank.

This means that in a page about Corvettes, search engines might also expect to see words like “Chevrolet”, “General Motors”, “convertible” and “Sting Ray”. It also enables search engines to distinguish between distinct topics with the same name (i.e. “apple” a fruit, and “Apple” the technology company). The concept is much simpler than its name implies.

Consequently, when performing keyword research (for content marketing purposes), you shouldn’t be looking to pinpoint just one or two top-tier phrases – you should try to identify a wealth of terms and phrases that relate to the key theme or themes of your content.

You might argue that this will come naturally when writing the content and, to an extent, you’d be right. However, you can (and probably will) uncover phrases and terms you would never have thought to include by taking the time to research what people are searching for and what phrases competing pages are using. This can make an enormous difference to the relevancy of the finished product and the search visibility it enjoys.

As with all keyword research, Google’s Keyword Planner is a pretty solid place to start. However, tools like KeywordDiscovery.com (paid), Answer The Public (free), and SEO Compare (also free) can help to guide your content by providing further, invaluable insights into search behavior.

Tools:
https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner
http://answerthepublic.com/
http://www.internetmarketingninjas.com/seo-tools/seo-compare/


2.   Go mobile

In April last year, Google began to roll out its mobile-friendly update. This update was designed to give a boost to mobile-friendly pages in Google’s search results (and consequently, cause pages that are not mobile-friendly to drop).

The impact of “mobilegeddon” has been variable. This is no surprise – its effect will be largely determined by the competition. If for instance, your site isn’t mobile-friendly, but neither are any of your competitors’ pages, it makes sense that you’d see very little change in rankings or traffic (as a result of the update).

That said, even if you’ve seen no real change in rankings or traffic to date, don’t assume your site is future proof. If you don’t already have a mobile-friendly site (and if you’re not sure whether your site is mobile-friendly you can find out here), start developing one ASAP.

Don’t forget about your blog when designing a mobile-friendly site either; you’re unlikely to see an ROI on your content marketing if people aren’t finding and consuming your content – something increasingly few people will do if your mobile UX sucks.

Tools:
https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

3.   Remember the on-page basics

As mentioned above, on-page SEO is (at least) as important today as it’s ever been. However it’s not just something you need to consider when crafting category or product pages – it’s a fundamental factor in content optimisation too.

Thankfully, if you know how to optimise a product or category page, you know how to optimise the content you use for marketing.

Title tags – Title tags form part of the

section of your HTML. They can help increase click-through-rates and are also used by search engines to establish the themes and content of a page.

If possible, your title tags should include a keyword or two – but only if it makes sense (never force it).

Standard practice for title tags for content marketing is to include the title of the content, followed by your brand name.

If you’ve followed SEO best practices and considered keywords and search user intent while crafting your content titles, including a keyword here should happen naturally.

Meta descriptions – – Another element of the <head> section, meta descriptions aren’t (we’re told) a ranking factor, which means that optimising them is not, in the strictest sense, an SEO tactic. However, when we talk about on page optimisation, meta descriptions will almost always come up.

While they won’t (again, we’re told) have a direct affect on your search presence, they do affect your click-through-rates. You can help to draw attention to your site (and content) in the search results by crafting the perfect meta description.

H1 tag: Unsurprisingly, the H1 also sits inside the <head> of the page. In most cases, your H1 will simply be the title of your content (or if we were talking about a product or category page, the name of the category or product).

Further reading:
https://searchenginewatch.com/sew/how-to/2154469/write-title-tags-search-engine-optimization
http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to-write-meta-description-ht

4.   Optimise your images

As smart as Google is (pretty smart), its algorithms aren’t psychic. Google can’t understand the content of a picture unless you explain it to them. Unfortunately, optimising your images probably won’t help your content to rank better in the organic search results. It will, however, affect where your images appear in image search.

This means that correctly optimising your images can help drive traffic to your site (and your content), making image optimization a critical element of SEO for content marketing. The essential elements of optimising your images for SEO are…

Image/file name: Use descriptive names for your image files. So, for an image of a red bull can, instead of something like 567314.jpg, name the image red-bull-can.jpg.

Alt tag: Most people know that alt tags are a crucial component of image optimisation, yet a lot of people still use them incorrectly. Alt tags should not be the same as their file name, nor should they be a list of keywords.

The easiest way to envision how to write an alt tag is to think how you would describe the image to someone who couldn’t see it. For example, the alt tag for this image…

…might be “Joe Blogs looks happy and scared, shortly after jumping out of a plane” (FYI it’s 10% fear, 90% happiness!).

Title: The image title is what appears when someone hovers over an image. How much (if any) SEO benefit it has is up for debate, however, for the time it takes to assign an image a title; I’d encourage you to use it.

Read more: https://moz.com/blog/the-broken-link-building-bible

5.   Promote your content for links

If anyone’s ever told you that links don’t matter anymore, please, for the love of SEO, ignore them (and any SEO “advice” they try to offer you in future).

Here’s the long and short of it: links do matter. Maybe not as much as they did ten years ago – as search algorithms advance, they gain more ways to ascertain the value and relevancy of a page. This tends to mean that search algorithms need to rely less on a site’s backlink profile. It doesn’t mean they ignore it entirely.

Sites with large, diverse backlink profiles, formed primarily of links from high-quality websites will be given more weight in the search results than sites that are lacking in the links department. This means that a strategy of building a backlink profile should form the backbone of any ongoing SEO campaign, and one way to do this is with content.

How you use content to gain links depends on the nature of the material in question.

Imagery, such as infographics, or a series of pictures or illustrations, lend themselves naturally to outreach. This means pitching your content to bloggers or journalists that share similar interests to your own, and that you believe would have an interest in reproducing your content. You can read more about the perfect pitch here.

However, while text-based content doesn’t usually lend itself to reproduction on other sites (especially if you can’t guarantee those other sites will use a cross-domain canonical to credit you properly as the original author), there are other ways you can use it to gain links.

“Resource link-building” for example. This tends to entail adopting the same outreach strategy as above, but instead of trying to get your content reproduced, you’re trying to get it added to a “resources” page.

Another excellent way to gain links to text articles is with broken link-building, where you identify sites that have linked to content that’s very similar to yours, but that’s no longer live (resulting in a broken link). You then contact each site and offer your content as a replacement link.

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Ultimate Frisbee Fiasco

Ultimate Frisbee Fiasco

A work colleague has an unusual sporting interest.  He plays Ultimate Frisbee in the evenings at the Shepparton Lake precinct.  You can see him and his mates leaping, catching and throwing their high-tech plastic discs in a designated field.

I guess you could say it's a bit like rugby without the contact.  Loads of fun played enthusiastically by Shepp locals on a Monday evening.

The aim of the sport is to get the frisbee from the "end-zone" to the opponents "end-zone."  Teams number how many people turn up. It's unisex. Points are scored by passing the disc to a teammate in the opposing end zone. Other basic rules are that players must not take steps while holding the disc, and interceptions, incomplete passes, and passes out of bounds are turnovers. Rain, the wind, or occasionally other adversities can make for a testing match with rapid turnovers, heightening the pressure of play.

Today, my work mate turned up sporting a leg injury — a pulled muscle or something similar. He didn't complain much, but the limp is obvious.  Reminded me of seeing AFL's Chris Judd limping off the field. Ultimate frisbee is not supposed to be a contact sport, but I suspect the injured party didn't warm up properly.

Throwing a frisbee with an amount of accuracy is quite a skill.  Advanced players can bend it with precision.  Others like to use little tricks like the skip throw, where the frisbee bounces around the legs of an opposing player.  A nutmeg (where the frisbee splits through the legs of an opponent) is highly-regarded.

Players call their fouls and dispute a foul only when they genuinely believe it did not occur. Playing without referees is the norm for league play, but has been supplanted in club competition by the use of "observers"/"advisers" to help in disputes, and the first professional leagues even employ empowered referees.

In 2012, there were 5.1 million ultimate players in the United States. The most recent World Ultimate Club Championship was in Lecco, Italy in July 2014 where US teams took Gold in all three divisions. In 2016, the World Ultimate & Guts Championships will be held in London where teams will be composed of their nation's best players.

"I just remember one time running for a pass and leaping up in the air and just feeling the Frisbee making it into my hand and feeling the perfect synchrony and the joy of the moment, and as I landed, I said to myself, 'This is the ultimate game. This is the ultimate game.'" said Ultimate inventor Jared Kass.

More information JustClik here

 

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Accidental Queue-Jumping

Accidental Queue-Jumping

Good social skills are essential. The understatement meter in my pocket just exploded, but seriously, good interpersonal communication skills are primarily the oil which lubricates relationships.
 
When the giant standing next to me at the counter of the local takeaway place delivered his order over the top of mine and then said he was next, I realised two things immediately. One: the man had poor interpersonal skills and two; I had inadvertently jumped the queue. I apologised and made a quip about how I had never seen a line at this particular fast food venue. (In fact, people typically stand parallel to the counter and take note of who was already there when they arrived.)

The man's response to my apology was delivered in a gruff and aggrieved tone. "Just don't jump the queue mate. I don't want to argue about it."

"I don't want to argue about it" is in the same category as statements beginning with "to tell the truth" and "I don't want to say I told you so...". Like the positive onset with an obvious inflection broadcasting, a big "but' will follow.

Whether the big man with serious indignation at the take way joint was naturally rude and ungracious, or whether he had merely exhausted his reserves of bonhomie at the end of a bad day, I do not know. I've been unjustifiably short with people too on occasion, but I reckon a sincere apology ought to extinguish the flames of ire. Most people have varying degrees of serious drama and affliction in their lives. Why bother straining at gnats?

It's pretty easy to be nice, even to people who aren't kind to you. It is not difficult to back down and walk away. The offended behemoth and I left the car park of the takeaway shop at the same time: I was on foot, and he was safe in his world on wheels. He might have looked at me, or he might have simply been checking for oncoming traffic, but, in any case, I threw him another smile. His stony face was the epitome of recalcitrance. As he drove away, I wondered if he was a blogger like me.

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A Bunny, a Bilby — a Chocolate Tradition

A Bunny, a Bilby — a Chocolate Tradition

I have a friend who just loves this time of year.  For her it's all about the chocolate — supposedly it tastes better than plain chocolate.  In truth, it's probably more about the texture and the crunch of snapped off pieces of dairy milk but who am I to say.

We all know that Easter is a significant time on the Christian calendar.  But what about this bunny?

The Easter Bunny (also called the Easter Rabbit or Easter Hare) is a folk figure and symbol of Easter, depicted as a rabbit bringing Easter eggs. This symbol originated among the German Lutherans — whereby the bunny played a role of a judge, evaluating whether children were good or disobedient in behaviour at the start of the season of Eastertide.

The Easter Bunny is occasionally depicted with clothes.  In legend, the creature carries coloured eggs in his basket, candy and sometimes also toys to the homes of children, and as such show similarities to Santa Claus or the Christkind, as they both bring gifts to children on the night before their respective holidays.  The custom was first mentioned in Georg Franck von Franckenau's De ovis Paschal ibis (About Easter Eggs) in 1682 referring to a German tradition of an Easter Hare bringing Easter eggs for the children.

An Australian twist on the tradition is the Easter Bilby.  

The idea of the chocolate bilby came from a story written by a nine-year-old girl, in March 1968. "Billy The Aussie Easter Bilby," was published as a book 11 years later. The story helped catalyse the public's interest in saving the bilby. In 1991 Nicholas Newland from the 'Foundation for Rabbit-Free Australia' also developed the idea of the Easter Bilby to raise awareness about the environmental damage that feral rabbits cause and to replace the Easter bunny with true native wildlife.

The first Chocolate Easter Bilbies were sold at the Warrawong Sanctuary when it was owned by John Wamsley. Chocolate manufacturers that donate towards Bilby conservation include Pink Lady and Haigh's Chocolates.

In 2014, Pink Lady donated 30 cents from every large bilby sale and $1 from every ten pack. Parent company Fyna Foods manufactures chocolate bilbies as well as other iconic Australian fauna in their Australian Bush Friends Easter chocolate. 20 cent from every Bush Friends collection is donated to the Save the Bilby Fund. 2015 saw these chocolates raise over $33,000 for the fund.

Cadbury's also produce Chocolate Bilbies, although they do not donate or support any bilby conservation projects. This had led to a backlash against Cadbury with many Australians derogatorily referring to their Bilby products as Easter Bludgers. Before their store closures in 2012, Darrell Lea donated approximately $60,000 per year to the Save the Bilby Fund from the sales of the Darrell Lea chocolate bilbies.

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I'd Call it "Bugsy"

I'd Call it "Bugsy"

Every so often I get an email that I actually enjoy.  Rare but fun when it happens.  I was doing some research about screencasts and their effectiveness and came across "Bugsy."

Our brains process visuals 60,000x faster than text? With that fact in mind, it’s no surprise that videos have become one of the primary ways new and existing businesses educate consumers on their products and services.

Thanks to video hosting sites like YouTube, Vimeo, and the plethora of video creation software tools that now exist, it’s never been easier for businesses to create and share high-quality videos with people online.  Watch the video at the end of this story, you'll get what I mean.

Bugsy, actually a SKEYE Nano Drone, in the video below it is shown off like a dragonfly on steroidsThe drone weighs less than 12 grams and comes in at just 4 centimeters across so it can take off right from the palm of your hand. Like a bug!!!

It can be flown with incredible precision. Thanks to the low weight and high thrust capability, this drone is small enough to fly under the radar yet powerful enough to slip forward and backwards, handle banked turns, and even barrel roll.

All of these skills and tricks can be easily mastered over time using the easy to use handheld controller which is powered by two AAA batteries. As soon as you switch on the SKEYE Nano Drone it begins to calibrate itself and prepare for flight. Select your gyro sensitivity; adjustable between beginner, mid-level, and expert; and watch as the 6-axis flight control system keeps steady during all stunts and tricks.

You can enjoy flights up to eight minutes and go as far as 50 meters with the built in LEDs lighting the way.

Included with the SKEYE Nano Drone is the 4-channel 2.4Ghz controller, a USB charging cable, four replacement rotor blades, a protection guard, and user guide to get you off the ground.

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February 29 — Today is Leap Day

February 29 — Today is Leap Day

The name "leap year" comes from the fact that while a fixed date in the Gregorian calendar normally advances one day of the week from one year to the next, the day of the week in the 12 months following the leap day (from March 1 through February 28 of the following year) will advance two days due to the extra day (thus "leaping over" one of the days in the week).

Women Propose to Men
According to an old Irish legend, or possibly history, St Brigid struck a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men – and not just the other way around – every four years.

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Mysteries of a Psychic Detective

Mysteries of a Psychic Detective

As a police reporter in Albury many years ago, this would rate as the most bizarre happenings during my time in the Border District.

This story is about a double murder that was solved by a psychic detective.  In my 10 years of police reporting, it is the only time I'd heard of a psychic successfully solving a crime.  It was so "out there" the paper decided to report the case minus the esoteric elements.

The Border Morning Mail covers a huge area, stretching from Wangaratta to Holbrook and Corryong to Deniliquin ... and other satellite populations.  Covering the police rounds required a daily visit to both Albury and Wodonga police centres — uniform and detective branches and each court complex.  It also required a daily ring-around of the district.  A very busy job.

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What the Dickens?

What the Dickens?

“Mr Chadband is a large yellow man with a fat smile, and a general appearance of having a good deal of train oil in his system.” (Bleak House by Charles Dickens)
 
In literature caricature is a description of a person using exaggeration of some characteristics or over simplification of others. Men do not have gargantuan noses or elephant ears, not do women possess bird faces and hourglass figures, but these description paint potent pictures in the mind.

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Radar Ralphy Lets one Go!

Radar Ralphy Lets one Go!
"Don't tell me you fell for her feminine charms, Ralph?" This yarn is about how humour can wear down the hardest nut.  Is it true?  Probably.As a cub reporter I was assigned to go out on the road with a traffic policeman.  This was back in the days of the local police having a dedicated traffic division, equipped with pursu...
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Birds of a Feather Poop Together

Birds of a Feather Poop Together
Birds are indiscriminate poopers and it really gives me the...feeling of strong annoyance. D.A. Cairns In some ways, I quite like birds of the feathered, small brained variety. Many of them are really pretty, and one cannot deny the grace with which they move move through the air.Like many others, I admire the freedom birds have,apart from...
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G'day, G'day ... Where's the Cow?

G'day, G'day ... Where's the Cow?

Just Clik can proudly say it has found Peter Russell-Clarke's robot "pretend" cow, famous for starring in Pete's 1980s TV adds.  And it's here in Shepparton!

The "pretend butter" cow was the brainchild of an advertising company explaining the benefits of "natural" butter over "artificial" margarine.

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Point "0" Vitabrits — A Snapshot of Stupidity

Point "0" Vitabrits — A Snapshot of Stupidity

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.”
― Albert Einstein

Every so often someone does something so ridiculous that when the story is told no-one is inclined to believe the storyteller.  This story I can assure you is true and it happened in Shepparton last year.

A friend and his partner were inside their house one morning when they were startled by a huge bang — more like an explosion — the forced compression of air inside a car, shattering of glass and grinding of metal on metal.

They raced outside to see that my friend's Ford ute, parked neatly next to the curb, had been destroyed from being visciously hit in the rear by a very late model Jeep 4WD.

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Can You Change 20 Dinkums into Emus?

Can You Change 20 Dinkums into Emus?

This Sunday marks the 50th Anniversary of the change over from Pounds, Shillings and Pence to Dollars and Cents.

These days the Australian dollar is the fifth most traded currency in the world, accounting for 7.6 per cent of all trades.

However the dollar could have been called a number of different names.  The Prime Minister of the time, Robert Menzies, who was a monarchist, wanted to call it the Royal.

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Guest — D.A.Cairns
I have only ever known decimal currency. The suggested names you listed made me laugh, especially the Ming. I just cant imagine an... Read More
Saturday, 13 February 2016 16:06
Guest — P. D. McDermott
Would be hilarious if your mate turned up with a mob of real emus, David.
Saturday, 13 February 2016 17:57
Peter Russell
If the notes were called Emus and you had a "mob" in your wallet — then you'd be loaded!!!
Saturday, 13 February 2016 18:54
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A Holden Hatchback on Steroids

A Holden Hatchback on Steroids

Shepparton's resident Torana aficionado, Neil Heard, has taken his Holden obsession to a whole new level.

Neil posted on FaceBook today photos of his newly acquired SS Torana "Hatch Hutch".  These camping/tent thingamejigs were all the rage in the 1980s and had long faded into obscurity.

Neil found a supplier of reproduction hutch and proudly shared his backyard photographs this week.

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To Be or Not to Be ... Connected?

To Be or Not to Be ... Connected?

In the digital age where everything is computerised and all tasks may be accomplished online as long as you can remember your login details, it strikes me as very strange that a simple thing like activating an internet service, could be so hard.

In the digital age of instant connection and immediate gratification how can a man be told that it will take 2-4 days to activate a phone line, and a further 4-10 days after that to connect the internet service?

iPrimus, an internet and telephony retailer, has been providing good service to us for over a year now except when it comes to relocating. We had a similar problem when we first moved to 2527, but I excused the delay because we were moving the huge distance of 20 kilometres.

Our recent move, which resulted from a totally unexpected eviction notice, saw us transport all our worldly possessions to a new home three doors down from the old one. Yes, three doors: not even 100 metres, and yet here we are, eight days in our new residence, without internet or any immediate prospect of it. We also don't have access to free to air television, but that's a different story.

February 4: I received a text message saying that a technician was required to connect the telephone and that one had been booked for the 18th of February. I called iPrimus, to say this was unacceptable and I was asked if I wanted to request an earlier appointment. I swallowed the large furry ball of sarcasm in my throat and said, 'Yes, please.' They're coming on Monday.

I am thankful for hotspotting. Although I only have 5GB of data on my phone, it should suffice until we have our internet service activated, if I avoid downloading videos.

I'm really mystified by the delay in connecting us to the World Wide Web. It's as simple as pushing a few buttons, isn't it? Or am I hanging my naivete out on the line for all to see? This could only happen in Australia, right? The land of exorbitant charges, and pitiful excuses for poor service.

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Cans, Cans and more Cans

Cans, Cans and more Cans

Shepparton Motor Museum has acquired an amazing beer can collection from a bloke in Albury. Graeme Balfour and Tiddy travelled to the Border District to collect some 3500 cans and shelving. they have spent the weekend mounting the pine shelves to make ready for launching the exhibit. They have mounted the shelves on the mezzanine level behind the motorcycle exhibit. Not a lot going on in this picture but you can see the new shelving in place ready for cans, cans, cans!!!

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USB on Tap!

USB on Tap!

What a great idea.  No need for adaptors, just plug and play!

Plug all your gadgets – phones, tablets, smart watches, fitness bands, Go-Pros, bike computers – straight into these powerpoints for super fast charging. With 2 x 2.1A sockets, they charge all your devices at their maximum charging speeds.

This is brilliant because inferior alternatives (eg. 0.5A & 1.2A) will have you waiting for far too long.

Available through HPM: http://www.hpm.com.au/Products.aspx?pid=20

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It's Just Cricket!

It's Just Cricket!

Cricket is the national sport of Australia, and I am a cricket nut. I've loved the game since I was boy, and with each passing year I love it more and more. So, it seems only right to me that I should introduce this game, which in truth is so much more than just a game, to my students regardless of whether they are interested or not.

Most of my adult migrant students know nothing at all about cricket, but as I explained to them, cricket is a part of Australian culture. Even those who (gasp) don't like it, still know about it and understand its significance.

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The Tree of Life — How Paw Paw Rescued Me from Stage IV Melanoma

The Tree of Life — How Paw Paw Rescued Me from Stage IV Melanoma

"... Your recovery is nothing short of a miracle"

Prof Bill Adam, University of Melbourne and GV Health


Kenji Miyazawa says "We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey."  These days I live by that saying and it has helped immensely;   It's been cornerstone to me to surviving Stage IV melanoma cancer.

I was too far gone to survive beyond three to six months, according to Dr Damien Kee, of Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.  The shock of being told this was earth-shattering.  Devastating.  I'd already been dealing with chronic kidney failure that required dialysis and now this!

Dr Kee told me there was a trial drug called Zelboraf (a Serine-threonine inhibitor) that might help if I had the "right type of mutation of cancer."  Tests came back indicating I was in the right 50 per cent and over the phone Dr Kee told me he believed I could go on the Zelboraf treatment program.  I was still scared but he gave me some hope.

A day later her called to tell me I "could not go on the program" and that was it!  I was so pissed off that he would deliver something so important and devastating by phone.  Totally wrong, totally unprofessional.  I have never been back to Peter Mac and probably never will. I thought of all the time "I had fund raised for Peter Mac, plus all of the donations I had given over the years". I felt terribly let down by an organisation and an individual in Dr Kee that had treated me like a number.  I will think long and hard before donating to them again.

I consciously remember "lining up my ducks".  I was visiting friends to tell them the news and in some of those cases I was "saying goodbye".  It was a horrible, horrible time.  Many didn't know how to react — some cut off contact, preferring to not know about the cancer's progression and my expected decline.  Other friends were amazing.  One in particular upon hearing the news stood, paused to think and then said: "I don't accept this".  "You are going to beat this," he beamed confidently.

Maybe he knew something I didn't but if he did, it had to have come from our creator.  No one could have told me with any confidence I'd still be living some three years later — let alone in complete remission.

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How do you Spot a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?

How do you Spot a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?

How do you spot a Wolf in Sheeps clothing?

We have all heard the saying “beware of the wolf in sheep's clothing” but where did that saying come from and what does it mean?

Where did it come from?

I don’t know exactly where it came from as there are quite a few places around the world who have communicated this advice over the centuries in one form or another.  

The multicultural, religious & global documentation of this advice indicates that this has been a long-standing problem that is linked directly to human nature.

What does it mean?

The first fable I could find is a story, told by the 12th century Greek rhetorician Nikephoros Basilakis, of a wolf who disguises itself as a sheep to gain the trust of a shepherd so that he could eat his sheep.  

When adapting the concept of a wolf in sheeps clothing to real life, this could refer to a person who is insincerely nice to you, changes their nature and adapts to your life just so they can take something from you or take advantage of you.

Other variation of this saying have been documented as follows:

“Beware of hypocritical evil-doers” - 12th century Greek rhetorician Nikephoros Basilakis.

“People should be judged not by their outward demeanor but by their works, for many in sheep’s clothing do the work of wolves.”  15th Century Italian professor Laurentius Abstemius.

An anonymous poem documented in the Greek Anthology reads “not by my own will but the shepherd’s folly.  The beast reared by me will make me his prey. For gratitude cannot change nature.”

So why is this so? Why do humans want to take advantage of another?  I suspect the answers to this question are varied but fundamentally come back to basic human nature and the inbuilt desire of the majority to have positive connections with other humans therefore opening us up to the vulnerability of being taken advantage of.

We want to be loved, we want friends and we want to feel a part of something, over time trust is developed with individuals who connect with you, it is nice when you find genuine people like this but not so nice when that same trust and vulnerability is used in an attempt to slaughter you, figuratively speaking.  

How do we avoid wolves in sheep's clothing? I don’t know the answer unfortunately, do you? Sometimes you can pick a wolf a mile away, sometimes they work in packs, sometimes they creep up on you and you don’t see them until they are going for your jugular.  

The very nature of a wolf is evasive and sly which makes them harder to detect but still they are not completely undetectable.  How do you spot a wolf in sheeps clothing?

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Old Boundary Hotel Cruise

Old Boundary Hotel Cruise

Old Boundary Hotel, 2 Milroy Street, Bendigo — 123km, 1hr 28m

This is one of my favourite cruises because of the literal pot of gold at the end of the rainbow — beautiful food.  I have been visiting the Old Boundary Hotel for a number of years and the food has always been consistently excellent.

The Boundary's steaks are something.  Prices start around the $30 range.  The seafood and pork dishes are also hard to pass up.  And for those who aren't so hungry, there's a range of entree dishes and salads to suit.

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Longleat Winery Cruise

Longleat Winery Cruise

Longleat Winery, 105 Old Weir Rd, Murchison — 31 minutes drive from Shepparton

Longleat is a picturesque Victorian vineyard on the west bank of the Goulburn River at Murchison. The 16 hectare property grows Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes for premium red wines and Semillon and Riesling grapes for delicate white wines. There are 9 hectares under vine with room to extend plantings to around 12 hectares.

The oldest vines are 27 year old Shiraz from which we produce our premium red. The Cabernet, Semillon and Reisling vines date from the early 80's.

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The Sandman was a Love Child

The Sandman was a Love Child

Legend tells us that an entire automotive culture came from a mistake.  The run of Holden's uprated utilities and panelvans — Sandman — from the 70s is said to have started with an error on the floor of the Holden factory.

Many a terrified father can testify to that sinking feeling when the latest suitor turned up in a panelvan to take the daughter out to the drive-in.  Upgraded sound systems, mirror balls and shag pile carpet were part of the common treatment.

The yarn goes that in 1974 a GMH production guy wrote down the wrong codes for the next day's utility builds.  Instead of it being a regular build he wrote down the Monaro GTS code, R268, for the ute.  Half a day later a gleaming metallic green ute, complete with sports pack was sitting in the lay off area with people admiring it but scratching their heads.

The Sandman had been born by accident completely out of wedlock of the normal production rules.  It was an oddball that won the hearts of those on the shop floor and would soon prove to be a profitable line for Holden.  And soon others would follow ... creating their own version of Aussie iconology.

The Sandman captured the sex, surf and sand zeitgeist of the era perfectly, fanning a panel van customisation fad that lasted for a little while, and prompted Ford and Chrysler to release their own competitors – the now-forgotten Sundowner and Drifter. 

Powerful dealer Kevin Dennis had heard about the ute and immediately ordered half a dozen — the glory days of sports utes and vans were launching an entire culture.  The early marketing of these products was aimed at the youth male.  And the marketing gurus had decided to package it in surf and outdoor culture.  Despite the obvious reasons for owning a mobile bedroom, the Sandman had appeal as a recreational vehicle.

Holden got to work on completing the package with striping, bucket seats and sports rims.  The inspiration for the HQ Sandman stripes came from a US model the Pontiac Judge (which looks a bit like a Monaro).

The cool guys who owned Sandman's had shelled out nearly 150 per cent over and above the stock panelvan price.  Holden was making huge margins on these "rare" builds.  Next to the party was Chrysler, first with its Town and Country ute.  Again it was an uprated product, derived from a stock ute with bits of Charger and a vinyl roof and striping.

The Chrysler really dipped its toe in the water with the creation of the Drifter.  This was a head-to-head battle for Sandman's market that only lasted from 1977-78.  The Drifter van and ute were put into production and for a short while there was a Charger Drifter.  All of the Drifters had striping.  The van's was seriously over-the-top — making Starsky's Torino stripe pale into insignificance.

Ford's effort, last to the party and by all means a product copy of the Sandman.  it included options from the Falcon GS Hardtop, such as comprehensive instrumentation, bonnet scoops, slotted sports road wheels and driving lights, with side protection moulding´s and rear side glass deleted. Side and rear decals were included in the package.

Holden and Chrysler ceased production but Ford perservered with the last Sundowner appearing during the XD series.  For a short run, Ford also released an Escort panelvan dressed up in Sundowner striping.

One significant marketing effort was made by Chrysler, jointly with Coca-Cola and with Melbourne rock radio station, 3XY, creating the Denim Machine.  It was a Drifter on steroids (see photo) that created a lot of interest over the Summer with one lucky person winning the extreme machine.

And, just when you figured the Sandman was dead-and-buried, it popped up as a concept vehicle.  Holden toyed with the idea back when the VT Commodore-based VU ute range was released at the 2000 Australian International Motor Show in Sydney. Designed by Australian designers Mambo, just one van and wagon concept were shown, before the company elected not to take it into production.

And most recently, the VF series resurrected the old brand to try and maintain some interest in declining Holden sales.  A dressed-up ute and station wagon wearing the Sandman stripes and optional ghastly bright orange shag seat covers and parcel shag.

For me, there is nothing like the original Sandman, with the Drifter and Sundowner coming second and third.  Of the ute builds, the Town and Country by Valiant was the pick of the bunch.  All of them are becoming harder and harder to find in original trim and can pull some serious prices.

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What's in a Name?

What's in a Name?

Australian place names contain riddles.  Many of our town names are borrowed from Aboriginal language.  Many are the result of mis-heard interpretations but others are faithfully represented.

It is fascinating to dig deeper and find the "meaning" or localised use of many town names attributed to Aboriginal language.

Some of my favourites came about from a stint with a newspaper in Albury-Wodong.  My editor sent me out on a familiarisation trip to learn the pronunciation of local towns and to meet come characters who would become long-term contacts for stories.

Numurkah (Gnamulka) means "war shield", although some now think this is mistaken.  However when you consider that Wunghnu is said to mean "hunting boomerang" or an act of war "to hatchit the tendons behind the knee", perhaps war shield is correct.

Tallygaroopna (originally Tallygaroopnu) is believed to mean "tall trees".  The "oopna" seems to be a common thread, as Mooroopna is said to mean "deep water hole" (others say "ghost spirit).The native name for Shepparton was Kannygoopna meaning "place where big fish are caught".  So it appears the "oopna" refers to big, deep or tall.  Ardmona's name came from a farm named ‘Ardmona’, owned by Charles and Lochie McDonald.

It is thought that the name Kialla was derived from that of an Aboriginal sub-tribal group, "Kiaella".  Undera is believed to have come from the Aboriginal word for rat.  Cosgrove is probably of Irish origins, meaning "triumphant".  Pine Lodge most likely referred to an abundance of the Callitris tree, typically known as Murray Pine.

Dookie district was surveyed, taking in much of the Emu Plains pastoral run. Local lore has it that Mrs Turnbull, wife of the station's proprietor, was so unhappy at the prospect of survey and possible farm subdivision that the surveyor suggested a place name derived from the Singhalese word "duka", meaning sorrow. Mrs Turnbull had lived in Ceylon. Duka was re-spelt Dookie.

Echuca is believed to mean "meeting of the waters", referring to the Goulburn and Murray River meeting point.  Tatura comes from the Aboriginal term for "small lagoon"  Kyabram is thought to be derived from an Aboriginal word Kiambram meaning "Thick Forest".  Moama is from the word for "burial ground".

It is thought that Barmah derives from an Aboriginal word "paama", meaning "meeting place".  Gunbower is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning "twisting", possibly a reference to a creek or river meander.

Reverend Joseph Docker settled Benalla in 1838 creating a pastoral run called Benalta Run, said to be from an Aboriginal word for "musk duck".  Cobram is named after the Aboriginal word meaning "head/head station", as Cobram was the head pastoral station in the district.  Barooga is named after the Aboriginal word meaning "my home".

Wangaratta is believed to have come from Pangarang language meaning "nesting place for cormorants".  Tarrawinge is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning "emu".  Tatong is Aboriginal for "unseen".

Yarrawonga is thought to be derived from an Aboriginal word meaning "place where the wonga pigeon rested", or "water running over rock".  Mulwala's name is believed derived from the Aboriginal word for "rain".

Albury was first named Bungambrawartha, meaning "favourable place for tall talk".  Corowa comes from the native word "Currawa", a pine from which aborigines procured gum for fashioning spears.  Euroa is from Eurawa, meaning "push, shake, thrust".  Thurgoona means "darter or diving bird", probably a cormorant.  Ettamogah means "let's have a drink", kinda obvious when you think of the pub.

Gooroombat comes from "Coorambatti" and means "nonsense"..  Here's an odd one — Nagambie is believed to have come from the word "Nagomba", meaning woman's breasts.  Puckapunyal means "middle hill",  Tungamah equals "bush turkey". and Yarraweyah is "strong wind".  Katamatite is believed to refer to the local creek.  Katandra is thought to refer to "song of birds"  Wilby is thought to come from Aboriginal "wilpy", meaning "hut".

Milawa was named in 1874 after being known only as "The Square" for many years prior. The word Milawa is aboriginal in origin and is said to mean "flat land".

Whroo is for "waterhole" and comes from the Aboriginal word "wooroo".  It is thought that Waranga is derived from the word for "sing"  Dhurringile means "crouching emu".

Rushworth comes from old English referring originally to Rishworth in Yorkshire, meaning "rushes".  Ballendella was named Bamawm East until renamed after the Ballendella Parish.  Originally Rowe's camp, following a survey Rowechester was named. In 1855, it was renamed Rochester.

Toolamba means "small lagoon circled".  Gigarre is Aboriginal for "sour".  Congupna is thought that the name was derived from an Aboriginal word describing a large fish, probably perch. 

Zeerust appears to have come from South African language referring to an area strong in farming, particularly citrus.  Yabba Yabba, now shown on maps as Yabba North and Yabba South, is 30 km north-east of Shepparton. It was named after the Yabba Yabba pastoral run (1850), the name thought to be derived from an Aboriginal expression describing "talk".

Boomahnoomoonah is believed to mean "big red kangaroo" although some think it mean "big water".  When driving past Boomahnoomoonah, you often go by without noticing because the signpost is often stolen as a collectible.  Upotipotpon means "plenty of grass"

Tittybong — If your looking, it's just north of Teddywaddy. And apart from being a place west of Kerang, it is an expression for action of the female appendage leaping from it`s cotton, underwired prison.  Teddywaddy comes from an Aboriginal expression meaning "muddy water".

Deniliquin is said to be derived from "the sandhills".  Yackandandah is from the word "Yag-gun-doona" meaning "hilly country" although locals will tell you it refers to "water running over rocks".  Tangambalanga is believed to refer to "fresh water crayfish" or "very large yabbie".

Thoona is meant to mean a "village surrounded by hills".  Although mistaken for an Aboriginal word, Baddaginnie was the name given to the local township by Ceylonese railway workers building the Melbourne-Sydney rail line in the 1860s. According to local legend, when provisions failed to arrive at the settlement, the Ceylonese men named their camp ’baddaginnie’ meaning "hungry" in the Sinhala language (bada is ’stomach’ and ginnie is ’fire’).

Tatong derived its name from "Tatong Run" an Aboriginal word meaning "water hole".  The "Baw Baws" (Mt Baw Baw) was believed to have a boiling water hole in which aborigines could be sucked up and die a horrible death.  Hence, Baw Baw, meaning bad water at bottom of mountain.

Corryong (originally Caryoong) means "belt made of possum wool".  Nar Nar Goon means "koala".  One of my favourites is Bringyadogalong — it sounds Aboriginal yet it's made up and appears on Army survey maps as the name of a property near Upper Gundowering.  Upper Gundowering means "good camping place or home".  There is no Lower Gundowering.

Dederang is "hailstones".  Gooramadda — parting of the clouds. On the Victorian side of the Murray River, at Howlong, the natural land formation and thermal currents create this unusual phenomena on one side of the river it can be raining but dry on the other.

Bendigo is an odd one.  It sounds Aboriginal yet it is derived from the name of a boxer called "Bendigo" Thompson.  Wycheproof means "rushes or grass on a hilltop".

This is a never ending effort, as there are so many links to Aboriginal language in our town names and places.  We will endeavour to put out a more comprehensive ready reckoner in the future.

 

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The Truth is Out There — Murchison Meteorite

The Truth is Out There — Murchison Meteorite

A little bird tells us that some exciting "X-Files-like" events are unfolding in Murchison. The Murchison meteorite is about to become famous once again.

It's arrival is approaching the 50 year mark and for that anniversary there is talk of NASA scientists revisiting Murchison to do further testing.

These days NASA has much more sophisticated instruments and its figured that more accurate and interesting science can be gleaned from the space rock.

JustClik has discovered the renewed interest in the meteorite is because it is such a pristine example of space debris and the fact that it is older than our sun, making it a key to some of the most unfathomable questions about life in our universe.

A former NASA scientist told us that if guys from the JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboritories) do visit Murchison, they would be drawn fron NASA proper or from its satellite research station, in Canberra.

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