Can't let go


Australia's drug laws look hypocritical in this screenshot from a local news website.

On one side is news an estimated (and likely exaggerated) $5,500,000 worth of cannabis has been seized; on the the other side is news that cannabis is being imported "but some ask why Australia can't grow its own."

In case you're wondering, the grey boxes were placed there by me for focus.

Looking back

My last album of music was put together in 2014 and I've produced so much more material since then in differing directions.

One of the approaches that worked when putting together those tracks was overlaying material to find fresh sounds. In the video above I've gone through material from 2016 to explore possibilities.

It shows how much landscape plays a role in my music, which has been an influence since 2003 when I moved out of the suburbs.

There's still so much to consider though. I didn't use any toasted sandwich videos, for example.

And each week there are usually a couple more tracks joining the pile.

Toasted potato sandwich

Back with another remarkable sandwich! This time made with leftovers.

Toward the end I issue a challenge for people to try adding a couple of ingredients. Think I'm going to explore this next.

Kangaroos don't want your stuff

My friend Hugh shared this photo on Facebook and it led to discussion about what it is that people aren't meant to share with a kangaroo.

Obviously it wouldn't be good for native fauna to develop a taste for fast food but I like to think that kangaroos don't want your flowers on Valentines Day either.

OVARIES for 106

Got my letters out in Scrabble over two double word scores

Jailbait clickbait

No thanks, Youtube

Putin and Trump

My friend Foong-Ee shared this photo of street art in Brunswick, Victoria.

The speed bump sign really makes it for me.

St James Church

John Robinson is a volunteer at Griffith Pioneer Park Museum and attended St James Church when it was in Hanwood.

Built in 1906, it's the oldest church in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area and has been a part of Pioneer Park since 1971.


Had to get a new windscreen for my car and was entertained by this sign.

Back when they could advertise cigarettes in Australia, you'd see this Winfield slogan unadulterated.


"Welcome to 'hell on earth'" reads the headline on the local news websites, keeping me "up to date with news as temperature scorch the region."

It seems obvious but it's not the temperatures that are scorching the region -- it's the combination of hot sun and winds blowing from the north.

Yesterday, as I affixed a blanket to the windscreen of my car parked outside the library, a bloke leaned over the fence from the bowling club and told me not to worry "about rugging her up, it'll be warm enough today."

I admire the dedication this bloke shows to his sport, as he was drinking beer around 10am and the temperature was already in the upper 30s.

Looks like it'll be cooler tomorrow but the maximum of 46.1 on "Fried day" was a significant increase on my previous record of 45.2 during 2004.

El Risitas rides again

It's great to see 'El Risitas' continues to be made relevant to contemporary topics, in this case providing an allegedly Mexican perspective on Trump's proposed wall.

There's something racist about assuming a Spanish-speaking comedy act can speak for Mexicans but you can't deny that laugh is infectious and provides a great punchline.

The original "interview" aired on Jesus Quintero's show, Ratones Coloraos.

Talk to Rotary in Griffith

Spoke with members of the Rotary Club of Griffith East last night.

It was my second invitation to speak with a Rotary, after I spoke to a Leeton club in 2013.

I appreciated the opportunity to promote Griffith Pioneer Park Museum.

Griffith Rotary contributed a couple of buildings in the past, namely recreations of Taylor Brothers store and the Post Office, so it was a good to be able to discuss the role of a community museum.

Gibbs Primary Glider

One of the surprising things about working in a museum is the amount that can be learned from the audience.

An example is the Gibbs Primary Glider, which a visiting curator suggested is a significant part of NSW aviation history.

The glider was built between 1932 and 1936 by William Lionel Gibbs with the assistance of his brother Aswald Gibbs and younger brother Harold, who held the lantern as they worked on it at night after their evening meal.

It took three years to build and all the pieces are handcrafted. No parts were bought, although a tradesman may have assisted. They followed plans from a book and were unable to obtain wheels.

Lionel became a self-taught pilot. He read books on the subject and then practised flying by balancing the glider on a roller, in this case a small galvanised iron tank, facing into a sufficiently strong wind to give him soggy control. Then with the aid of a motor tow, he took to the air.

The glider was hauled into the air by a 500ft rope attached to a new 1936 Chevy utility on the Gibbs family farm at ‘Willow Bend’ northeast of Griffith. The overall flight attempts saw the glider remain airborne for approximately 13 minutes.

“We built it, crashed it and rebuilt it again,” said Aswald in an interview during 2006. “We really had so much fun with it.”

To modern eyes it looks highly dangerous with open cockpit and no seatbelt. Yet these primary gliders were considered among the safest aircraft of the period.

Initially the glider wings were covered in silk. Lionel made five successful flights in the glider, reaching a height of 400 feet. In his diary summary Lionel noted that “she takes some handling, but seems to stand a lot of abuse. Stops very dead and noses down quite a bit.”

Harold said in an article from 1971 that the sixth was a disaster when Lionel landed in boggy ground and flipped over.

The notes in the file say "In the process, Lionel learnt a great deal about flying."
When he finally got the opportunity to have flying lessons in a Tiger Moth that visited Griffith in 1937, the pilot initially dismissed Lionel's gliding experience as useless. He was then surprised at Lionel's skill, and Lionel for his part thought the Tiger Moth "much more sensitive to the controls and you have the engine to iron out the mistakes on landing although I forgot it." He told the pilot if he really wanted to fly he should try a glider!

Eventually Lionel became frustrated by the problem caused by the glider's two different wing coverings. He slit the crook covering, intending to replace it when he could get the right material, and hung the glider up in the shed. It remained there until the family donated it to Pioneer Park Museum in the 1970s.
William Lionel Gibbs went on to join the RAAF at 30 years of age. Because of his age he was relegated out of pilot training and became an Air Gunner/Wireless Operator. He would rise through the ranks to become a Pilot Officer in March 1943.

It's interesting that there seems to be a discrepancy in the cause of Lionel's death during World War II.

An article from 1971 says "He then joined No.83 Pathfinder Squadron RAF with which he completed three tours before being shot down and killed over Holland on the last sortie of his final tour in 1943 before being posted back to Australia."

The Gibbs Primary Glider can be seen in the Collection Management Facility at Griffith Pioneer Park Museum. 

Crowe pulls his finger

The clever writer of this headline squeezed a fart joke into a celebrity real estate article.

Water Trough Yama Station

Another landscape painting for the growing collection in my home.

"Water Trough Yama Station" by Jack Burrowes was bought at a local op shop.

Chick habit

Scar trees

As I shared a tree with a scar here, I thought I'd share this photo of the scar trees at Griffith Pioneer Park Museum.

These two trunks were moved to the Museum in the early 1970s from outside Darlington Point, which is a township south of Griffith on the northern side of the Murrumbidgee River.

In the foreground is a trunk with many coolamon-shaped scars, while through the hollow the scar for a canoe can be seen.

An indigenous heritage officer told me the number of coolamon-shaped scars would suggest this tree sat on a boundary. This makes sense to me as I'd expect it would be interpreted by someone visiting the region that many people live in this area.

Australian English can be average and ordinary

It was an Irish friend named Sean who first directed my attention to one of the peculiarities of the Australian English language.

He pointed out how nonsensical it is when you ask someone who is sick how they are and they reply that they're feeling "a bit average".

In theory feeling average should be okay but in Australia it means less than average.

I was thinking about Sean's observation today while reading about the unfortunate experience of Bradley Chisholm, who was detained awaiting trial only to have the Police withdraw charges against him.

In particular I like the quote shown here where a relation of Mr Chisholm described the experience as "pretty ordinary".

I'd guess this is a similar understatement to describing illness as "average" and that the experience was in fact less than ordinary and not at all pretty.

Photo on TV

Derek Motion shared this photo of my photo of sunrise over SunRice this morning on ABC News.

Kinda funny how quickly it would've been sent out of the Riverina and then broadcast back in again. Especially as I nearly didn't make it out to take the photo.

My favourite photo of the Rice Co-op is still this one.

Triple threat

One of the things that worries me as a cyclist is the increasing number of B-triple trucks that I see on the roads around my home.

1971 Griffith Lions Club time capsule

One disappointment during the celebrations for the centenary of Griffith last year was the discovery that contents of the 1971 Lions Club time capsule had been damaged by water and mould. 

A selection of items from the time capsule are currently on display in the Griffith Pioneer Park Museum shop. It includes a variety of media, like slides as well as audio and visual tape reels, which make me wonder how future generations will access media included within time capsules.

I was interested to see that a vintage car rally in 1971 included a 1906 Tarrant as, by coincidence, I'd been reading how these were the first Australian-made automobile. Tarrant went on to build Ford's Model T cars from 1909.

It also interested me that in 1971 Griffith was serviced by three newspapers. Only The Area News remains today. Shown here is their story on the time capsule from then and you can find a story from 2016 here.

Also liked this story about a district farmer and a woman driver in distress. Who'd try to thank someone with a pack of cigarettes today?

It pays to shop around

Australian supermarkets are largely run by Coles and Woolworths.

In my shopping I find myself comparing prices between the two and it's interesting to see where they vary.

For example, house brand items seem to be consistently about 10% more expensive at Coles but other items, like the moth traps shown, can be significantly cheaper.

Spirit of Willandra

'Spirit of Willandra -- Amongst The Black Box Trees' by Melanie Baulch.

Bought this charcoal today from the Willandra exhibition.


The Ian Todd Collection

Ian Todd was a long-time volunteer at Griffith Pioneer Park Museum with a passion for horses.

For many years he would be seen at the annual ‘Action Day’ event each Good Friday working on the wheelwright outside the blacksmith display to construct wheels for his many carriages.

These carriages are now part of the Museum’s collection and there are plans to build a permanent home for them during 2017.

Mr Todd lived for almost his entire life at Lake Wyangan, where his father Keith Todd purchased the first block of land and also the first irrigated water available in that district.

When Ian Todd died on 20 February 2010 his bequest to Griffith City Council directed they erect “a water trough with a plaque suitably inscribed to the memory of the horses used to develop the town of Griffith and the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area”. This sits outside Council’s chambers.

Furthermore, Mr Todd donated a number of horse vehicles and vintage automobiles to Griffith Pioneer Park Museum with funds to be used to construct a shed to house these donated items.

It is anticipated that “Todd’s Shed” will be constructed during 2017.

Early 20th Century vehicles

Horse-drawn vehicles were a common sight on public roads throughout Australia from European settlement up until the 1930s.

The company Tarrant began manufacturing cars in Australia in 1901, before acquiring rights to locally produce the T-model Ford from 1909.

Between 1911 and 1916 the number of motor vehicles in New South Wales quadrupled, from 3978 to 14,973.

A survey of Sydney traffic in 1923 found:
  • 39.2% horse driven
  • 33.8% car
  • 27% motor van

Sydney Sulky

These single-seater carriages were designed to be fast vehicles. 

Contemporary harness-racing carts can be seen as a modern evolution of their design.

The bulk of the surviving “gigs” and “sulkies” were produced between 1890-1930. The Sydney Sulky is recognised as the most popular style of vehicle.

The Sydney Sulky design was influenced by the American “Putnam” sulky, which was first registered as a design around 1884.

At the 1893 Sydney Show a sulky of this style with mudguards and dashboard was exhibited and the example shown here reflects these features.

Other features to note:
Rubber tyres — these first became available in the early 1900s.
Lamp holders — located on this sulky out of the line of sight of the driver.
Three-spring suspension — reduces bumps while travelling and an improvement on the elliptical suspension of earlier carriages.
Foot-operated bell — manufactured in New York but locally installed and would have been used to alert pedestrians and other road users.

Drop Front Phaeton

Phaeton carriages were drawn by one or two horses.

The name Phaeton comes from Greek mythology as the name of the son of Helios, who drove the Chariot of the Sun so recklessly that Zeus struck him down with a lightning bolt to prevent him from destroying the Earth with fire. 

Phaeton was first used to identify a carriage in 1735 by the French during a period when it was fashionable to use classical pseudonyms. The name was applied to large and small owner-driven carriages, which usually included some sort of top that would shelter at least the driver.

Drop Front Phaetons were popular from 1850s up until the 1920s. The lowered front made these carriages easier for women wearing long dresses.

Other features to note:
Lamp holders — placement suggests illumination was to be seen by other road users.
Hand-operated brake — effective in conjunction with horses stopping and primarily used for parking.
Elliptical suspension — popular on 19th Century carriages and effective for rough terrain.

Iron-rimmed wheels —durable and commonly used up until the availability of rubber and then pneumatic tyres.

Sculptor Ron Clarke

Ron Clarke was a sculptor whose works can be found throughout the Riverina.

Mr Clarke’s studio was located at Waddi on the Sturt Highway near Darlington Point.

His work can be seen in the Henry Lawson statue outside the poet’s former residence in Leeton, and also a Caterpillar tractor sculpture that hangs in Sydney outside Gough & Gilmour’s offices.

Shown here is one of Mr Clarke's sculptors at Griffith Pioneer Park Museum.

John Robinson on Pioneer Park Museum

A haiku a day

This year I've resolved to write even more haiku.

Last year I challenged myself to write a 17-syllable poem each week and this year I'm aiming for one each day.

Mostly I like the challenge of phrasing an observation within the syllable constraint. It's a kind of journal, although it seems the small audience for my haiku are more interested in my grog reviews.

Last week I mentioned this haiku project in one of the online communities that I frequent and got this reply from Dennis Flax.

You can find my haiku here.

Dipping into the surf at Valla

Last weekend I played with a few recordings made at Valla Beach last year, adding resonators to create a submersive effect.