Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Some memories from 1981....

So back in the late 70s / early 80s my now late friend Ken and I used to ride around the Lake Manchester area. It was State Forest then and strictly forbidden. For those in the Brisbane area the access point was between Mt Nebo and Mt Glorious. A locked gate with multiple padlocks in series allowed farmers on the western side of the range to access the Mt Glorious road to Brisbane. Now it is National Park it is really forbidden.

We took a bolt cutter with us, cut a link out of the chain and installed our own padlock. Through circumstances I happened to have a padlock that was ex Telecom and stamped as such. So the lock was never removed. You could ride through the most wondrous  forest roads, all very quiet and eventually come out at Fernvale. 

There was a series of tracks (firebreaks) and one led to this large billabong that we called the platypus pool, because we would see them in it. Amazing. Once we changed from 2 strokes to 4 strokes we saw so much more wild life.  Once day we were in a bit of a hollow and had the stove on for a coffee. Heard this trail bike coming at high speed.... Ken says that guy will come over the crest in the road and hit us. So I walked up the hill to spy him. A young bloke.. took one look and me and promptly locked his wheels up, fell off the bike and both he and the bike slid down the road towards us.

It turns out.. I always wore ex RAAF shirts... and he thought I was a ranger.

I understand you can now walk and ride MTB in that area. Anyhow.. was cleaning up a box of old prints at the studio and came across some images for that area. God it was nice. 

Doc Ken was amazing on is bike.. considering he suffered from cystic fibrosis and only had a few years left... he and I did some amazing exploring back then. 

His two rules were:

1. You always have to eat lunch by water.

2. You can never go home until you see what is around the next corner.

That rule #2 made for some late nights getting back home.

Anyhow.. here are some pix....

Me with the Yamaha XT250G. Gutless bike.

Dr Ken with his Honda XR200

Another creek crossing.

The country around here is beautiful

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

50 years later; that July afternoon is etched in my mind forever...

"We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too." JFK 1962

And then, 9 years later....

"But the world all stopped to watch
On a July afternoon
Watched a man named Armstrong
Walk upon the moon"

Arguably the bravest men the planet has produced.

Mission patch designed by Michael Collins.

Reg Lindsay nailed it with that song....

Back in 1969 when I was a student at Power Coaching College in East Brisbane, life was magic for this just turned 16 year old. Magic music, fast cars and motorbikes to lust after.. and great school friends.

Talk about high tide and green grass. My last year at school and my best ever school year. Now, the school was housed in an old house (still there today) and we had everything.. except a TV set. As an amateur astronomer I was fascinated by the Apollo missions, especially Apollo 11.

Appollo 11 lift off.

I just could not believe this; we are going to the moon. I remember thinking at the time it was sort of like Cook heading off to find the great southern land.

This decal is on my BMW GSA1200

Into our class room walks our principal and tells our science teacher Mrs Ewart, (the best teacher I ever had) that we should all go home and watch the moon walk on our TV sets.

The bus trip to the city and then the train trip to Eagle Junction Station could not happen fast enough. I was just so excited.... even my father had come home from work early to watch this event.

Captured on film with a Hasselblad!

And then on the 19 inch Healing, valve driven black and white TV set we saw those grainy, contrasty images of Neil Armstrong descending the stairs of that landing module. Sitting here the day before my 66th birthday I still can remember that feeling of wonder. 

History in the making.. and I saw it as it happened.

"Look dad.. we have gone to the moon! Isn't this amazing?"

And my mother said, "I wonder if we will holiday on the moon one day?"

Dad's reply.... "What's wrong with our house on Bribie Island?"

That night I set up my reflector telescope at the bottom of our front stairs. Focusing on the moon, I can even now feel the thrill that coursed through every part of me. It was just one of those moments.

My parent's comments are memorable....

Mother, "Can you see Armstrong on the moon?"

Father, "If a farm boy from America can walk on the moon tonight, there is nothing your generation cannot do."

Life cover shot

And the funny thing is this.... some 50 years later this one event is etched into my mind as much as Armstrong's boot print was imprinted onto the lunar dust way back then. 

What a symbol of man's dreams

I think that it really is the greatest thing I ever have experienced in terms of technology. Yes, I know my iPhone has more computer power etc. 

But consider this...

When man landed on the moon, we still built cars with generators and not alternators, cars had carburettors, not fuel injection systems, drum brakes were still standard on many cars and we had rotary dial telephones, only 4 TV stations here in Brisbane. Technology was just not that advanced. Virtually nobody had air conditioning in their car let alone their home. Our music came from 7 inch singles or 12 inch LPs or the just newly invented Compact Cassette. But most of us just got our music from Mike Ahern on 4BC here in Brisbane.

And yet .... we went to the moon that same year. 1969.

So 50 years later, if I was a man of independent means, I would buy myself an Omega Speedmaster, the "moon watch" and strap it onto my wrist at the exact moment Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the moon's surface. (That would be 13:14 hours in BNE) Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface on July 21 at 02:56:15 UTC; Aldrin joined him 19 minutes later; Armstrong left his Omega onboard the LM and only Buzz Aldrin wore his on the surface of the moon. Now that would be a blast. I love that watch!

The moon watch!

Here is a link to some other stuff from 1969!

Monday, 17 June 2019

2019: A year of anniversaries... growing old is not for the faint of heart.

Note to my readers..... this blog is being added to as the year goes on.. it's a work in progress I would say. Come back now and then and have a look!

Seems like years ending in 9 have featured a lot in my life.

Funny thing that.

So this year, 2019 makes for a whole lot of anniversaries.

And to quote Peter Noone... "Let's take a look behind and see what we can find...."

70 Years

1949 and on June 18, my parents were married. I think it is fair to say that they had an interesting marriage. Country girl marries London born WW1 veteran who literally was a well educated man of the world. Now mum was no fool, but born and bred in Mt Morgan with a short stint in Sydney made for a less than worldly view of things. (She voted Labor, the old man was a Conservative and in middle age my father's genes kicked in for me!) Mother came with 4 boys of her own and then I came along. Our first years were spent in that house on Hamilton Road at Chermside, with Neville leaving early on to join the RAAF. Every time I drive past over the years I look at it and wonder why it seemed so much bigger to me as a toddler. We moved to Clayfield in 1958.

My father always reminded my mother of the Anniversary of the battle of Waterloo.

18th June, 1949 at Romney Studio Brisbane

Dad, mum and Max on the front steps at Chermside. C1950

Father at his desk not long after I was born.

60 Years:

1959 and in January I start primary school at Eagle Junction State School. I remember clearly that first day. I was terrified and crying my eyes out as my mother dragged me in under the building. My mate from the age of 3 Stephen Hart was there. "Look.. Stephen isn't crying!" Of course that made a lot of sense to a howling 5 year old.

But on that first day.. I did meet Robyn Cook and for the next 7 years I was so keen to be her boyfriend. Always picked her at folk dancing.. I don't think she even knew I existed. Such is life. And from those days at EJSS I still have friends I stay in touch with. Stephen Hart, Russell Coleman, Roger Fulton and Heather Walker. (Nee Appleton)

All those years ago....

This is grade 3.. but we're all there!

1959 and on July 27 at 0800 hours, brother Max opens Max's Speedo Electric Service. Originally in Wellington Rd East Brisbane and then 87 Logan Road Woolloongabba (next to the Broadway hotel) and finally to 6 Deshon Street Buranda. That business morphed into MAX Instruments when we closed the auto electrical division and moved to 662 Beaudesert Road Salisbury to concentrate on instrumentation only. I joined on January 6, 1970 and just loved working with my three brothers, Neville, Max and Paul. For show and tell I told the class about the new fabulous Max's Speed Electric Service. Teachers response  was to ask me to spell Woolloongabba. Somehow.. I managed it!

Note the phone number... our home number before the shop opened.

50 Years:

1969 and I am in my last year of school at Power Coaching College located on Stanley Terrace, East Brisbane. It is an amazing year.. Julie Vanek.. wow was I infatuated with her. And then a great bunch of friends to spend your days with. Allan White, Greg Gibson, Louise Sweeney, Ignatius Kalatzis, Tony Harrington, Ben Zavelski, Harry Bolding, Julie Vanek, Selwyn Hasthorpe and so many others. A big year: Armstrong on the moon, Gough nearly wins Government, Colin Bond and Tony Roberts win Bathurst in a Monaro 350 after the GT Falcons run out of brakes. (Yess!!) Music wise we had Such a Lovely Way by the Group, The Real Thing, The Star and of course the album that dominated the year.... Abbey Road. And Mrs Ewart our science teacher. She was the one teacher.. yes that one teacher who could get inside my head and teach me. Best teacher I ever had. And told me a year later I was her best student. Really wish I could have gone back 20 years later and thanked her.

The year rolls on and motor bikes come into my life via Wayne Pinna. The entire world felt like it was opening up to me. To me it really was the dawning of the age of Aquarius. No idea what that meant but I was so happy. And happily I have managed to stay in touch with some of those old friends... Selwyn Hasthorpe, Tony Harrington and I always wonder where Julie is... actually I wrote about 1969 on my blog before. Look here and also here. And finally here.

UPDATE: I finally managed to find Julie. In August, just before she left for an extended trip to the USA. It was awesome and we got to have about a half hour chat on the phone. Amazing! When she does eventually return to OZ.. we'll have a long catch up over lunch. I truly never thought I would ever see her again. Thanks to the universe!

1969 and Holden release the GTR. Man what a car that was.

Honda CL90, the bike I learned to ride on in Kalinga park at 15.

Cannot believe a half century had passed.

Buzz Aldrin as photographed by Neil Armstrong.

Last night I watched "The Dish" again. Brought back bitter sweet memories of that fine year. The music, the cars and the moonshot. I think that was the most technical achievement ever achieved by man kind that occurred in my lifetime.. so far. . And this just turned 16 year old got to see it all on a grainy TV set in the lounge at Armagh St. Also.. 1969 the first 747 flew in February and the QE2 went into service too. Man what a life lay ahead for me.

Then near year's end the Yanks put on Woodstock for us and the albums from that were amazing...

By the time we got to Woodstock....

40 Years:

1979 and as January 1 rolls around I have no idea what a year of highs and lows awaits me for the next 12 months. By this stage I am the "Technical Services Rep" for MSES Pty Ltd which was the new name for Max's Speedo Electric Service. We are now located in 6 Deshon St Buranda. Neville and Paul have departed the business to seek fame and fortune elsewhere. In 1976 I have picked up Volvo Australia's truck factory for a client. And didn't they spend big. I spent so much time out there involved in the design of a new instrument panel that the pay lady became upset when she couldn't find my pay packet.  "Sorry Mary.. I don't actually work here!" I had just come back from a holiday down Sydney way in the Daihatsu 4WD towing a Golf Camper. I returned the camper to Eagle Farm.. and the next day they closed up shop. Went broke. Well there went my security deposit. One Sunday I was at Clayfield visiting my father and he didn't seem himself. He had turned 80 the year before and all seemed well then. Come February I had a discussion with mother about dad and we ended up getting Dr Donahue to have a look at him. He decided that he was on too much medication for his crook heart. The idea was to put him back in hospital, stop all meds and then get him sorted. Long story short, he went into hospital on February 7 and died from undiagnosed lung cancer on March 7. For me that was a dreadfully stressful month. Trying to be supportive of him, mother and then trying to keep myself together. This 25 year old learnt a lot that month. Actually dad accepted his fate, mother struggled with it. Especially at the funeral. You see dad had cheated death twice before, World Was 1 as a 16 year old and again in the 40s with then untreatable osteomyelitis. He was fortunate to survive. Read more about my late dad here.

 A sibling reunion at BNE airport. L-R Dad, Bill, Tilly & Gus (1974) (4 of the original 10)

The year rolls on, personal issues with alcoholic in-laws (who are our landlords) causes all sorts of dramas. And then come August I have had enough and decide it is time to buy a home. Good mate Dr Ken finds one for private sale in the paper. So on Exhibition Wednesday we all go to inspect this post WW2 box in Wavell Heights. Owned by a retired house painter and former digger it was built in 1949. He was asking $28,500 or near offer. I asked him... "Would you accept $28,000". He stuck out his hand... "Son you've bought yourself a house." He told me he was amazed at the price. You see he had paid $1400 for in in 1949... so in 30 years it had gone up 20 times.

And so.. we became home owners for the next 5 years.

A tiny little place with 24 perches of land and I added a tin shed out the back... for the bike.. of course.

The 82 Honda in the back yard at Wavell Heights

Now around the same time, Max had a brain wave. Let's move the business to Rocklea (well Salisbury actually) and just do instruments. We had about 4 or 5 auto electricians in the shop and a couple of instrument fitters. Max offered the auto elecs that part of the business but they didn't want it. So in November 1979 Max Instruments opens its doors for trading at 662 Beaudesert Road Salisbury. All new office furniture and just the 5 of us. Joan as office manager, Barry Butler and Phillip Ross as the techs and me as the rep with Max on the front counter to start with. It was a really exciting time with Volvo's income supporting the move and then the truck dealers all over Rocklea just came in the doors... we were busy. So very busy.

An amazing end to a turbulent year.

30 Years:

1989 This is the year Christina turns 6 and her first year at EJSS. Thirty years since I had started there. I still remember this tiny little girl with this giant bag on her back heading out the gate for her first day.

Also, with an escape from the clutches of the family court well behind me, Debra and I are literally growing our relationship. I had been swanning around Europe in 1988 with my good friend Allen O'Grady. And now Deb wanted to travel. So we pack up and head to Hong Kong for 2 weeks in June. Did we have a good time.. lots of new photo gear at big discounts, lens to lust after are now in my camera bag. Deb is just loving the culture, I had been there a couple of times before so had a buzz showing her "my" Hong Kong. Fine dining at night, sight seeing every other day and shopping in between. new Reeboks, new shirts.. man did we have some fun.

We also did a photoshoot with Deb using her former modelling skills and I wrote a story about Australians holidaying in Hong Kong. Came back and tried to sell it to various magazines.... most replies came back COD. Anyhow it was fun!

So we rented a sampan for a while..

MAX Instruments turns 30 and VDO fly up to see us and present us with a lovely certificate signed by the MD and Trade Sales manager. It's a big deal for Max and I and the crew. I still have that certificate although it is now somewhat faded.. especially Bernards signature signed with his Mont Blanc fountain pen.

1989... a good year at MAX Insttruments.

Despite the high tide and green grass in my work life.... it  is around this time I start to question my desire to remain at MAX Instruments.... what else is out there for me? Every now and then that thought would pop up in my head... and I would push it down. By now I am a partner in the business and also the General Manager. I didn't know that in a couple of years I would be traveling to Singapore and Indonesia on behalf of the company. Also I noticed my dear friend from childhood Dr Ken Brand was in poor health. Having CF his health was never good, but now this was different.

Little did I realise he would leave this life in a few months in 1990.

And my life would never be the same.

40 Years:

1999 Back in 1969, after man landed on the moon, Mrs Ewart our science teacher asked us to write about what life would be like in 1999 as we welcomed in the 21st century. I can remember doing the maths and thinking I would be 46 going on 47. And the funny thing is, as the years rolled by I never thought about what life might look like beyond my turning 47.

So 1999 was a really busy year at Clayfield Studio. We shot 35 weddings when we really only wanted to cover 25 per year. Our portrait shoots were busy thanks to our involvement with the PIM group with many thanks to Dave and Karen Paton and life was good. Lots of commercial photography and remember all of this on film cameras, no digital cameras yet. We did run a hybrid system where we captured on film and then digitised the images so we could work on them in Photo Shop. It was Christina's last year at high school and man as parents did we have some "interesting" times. I thought a lot about 1969 and wondered where my old school friends were.. little did I know I would reconnect with some of them.. soon. And in July... I thought again about that moon landing. It really had a profound effect  on my life.

An awesome weapon in the heat of battle at weddings in 1999

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Two old mates meet over coffee....

A long time ago, back when I was 3 and a bit years old.. I met this boy who lived near my mother's shop in Adelaide Street at Clayfield. Stephen Hart was the guy's name. We just clicked. 

At his 50th birthday some years back his mother told Debra.. "These two met at 3 and a half years of age and were inseparable."

Stephen and I were mad on Roy Rogers, the Army, Hercules aeroplanes, toy soldiers (hundreds of them) running amok in Kalinga Park and on it went. Family picnics with the Hart family where they made me very welcome. Stephen's dad John was a WW2 veteran and had seen some dreadful things. But he was cheerful. And always made me feel welcome. (He even managed to get me out from being stuck under a swing at Mt Glorious as a 7 year old) The first time I heard Que Sera Sera was Stephen's mother Jean singing it in the kitchen as she baked wonderful chocolate slices.

It was a time of innocence as two young boys explored the Clayfield area and had great adventures. By the time we were both 6 his parents had shifted to Junction Road at Clayfield and as we had a TV set (only 3 of us in grade 1 had a TV) every Sunday night Stephen and his older sister Meg would come over to watch Disneyland.

Then around the time I turned 9, the Hart family moved to the Blue Mountains in NSW. Two young boys were heart broken. 

We managed to stay in touch over the years with catch ups in Brisbane and Sydney....and then back in 1994 Stephen moved back to Brisbane. 

We reconnected.

Stephen is an artist, an amazingly talented sculptor.

Another Hart Creation

One of Stephen's many men.

So after months and probably years of threatening to do so.... today I went to his studio with a camera. I had grand designs of what I wanted to create. 

However the other artist in the room likes to draw. 

Sit down there mate and I will sketch you. 

And so he did.

God it's hard to sit still

But I did manage to get a couple of images of my former childhood friend in his creative space.

"Lift your right shoulder"

You look more like a movie star each day old mate!

60 plus years later.. we are still close. 

And that became obvious today and we discussed everything from the meaning of life to the election outcome. 

It is still an amazing life of discovery and adventure. 

To have a shared childhood forges an amazing bond. 

Rock on Stephen.

Monday, 22 April 2019

A steep learning curve... 50 years ago.

So leading into Easter 1969, good mate Ken Brand a first year medical student convinces me to go bush walking at the Lost World, South of Beaudesert. Being 15 and keen to go anywhere that involves car travel.. I am in.

Camping gear?

Who needs it?


Nah.. old pair of black school shoes and a couple of pairs of socks.

Ken had a steel framed / canvas covered camp stretcher from Sherry's Disposals that I could sleep on under the stars. Might get cold... OK.. pinch an old eiderdown quilt from mum's spare room. Stock up on crap to eat, load it all into his mother's old Morris Major Elite and away the two of us go in search of adventure.

What could possibly go wrong?

How little we know at 15 it would seem.

Good Friday morning finds us loaded into the old car and heading south for the big event. Ken has no car radio but he does have a National Panasonic Transistor 8 on the dash and between the static and whine of the ignition system we get updates on the road toll form various car accidents over Easter. Half a century later I have forgotten the numbers, but at the time we are horrified to hear them.

Eventually.. the Lost World arrives.. or rather we arrive at the Lost World.

An amazing place... the famers had kept the grass between the creek and the road trimmed back so finding a camping spot wasn't that hard to do. Last time I was there about 10 years ago it was so overgrown so you could not leave the road. And finding a camping spot was easy. I mean back then we only had 1 million cars on the road in all of QLD. Now from memory it is in excess of 4 million.

So we make camp and then boil the billy. With hot tea in us we then decide what to do for the next 2 days.

Ken points out Buchanans Fortress way above us..... "We shall climb that tomorrow!"

"Yes mate.. let's do that.. how hard can it be?"

Buchanan's Fortress.

In the meantime we waste the day discussing all sorts of crap, cars, girls, motorbikes, girls, hifi systems, girls, any snakes around here, girls .. well you get it.

After a wholesome dinner of tinned spaghetti (yuk yuk yuk) we bed down. Me on my canvas camp stretcher in a pair of shorts and T shirt covered by an ancient eiderdown quilt. Shit I froze. And then it got colder and colder and colder.. so I had to find some more timber to build the fire higher. What a miserable night.

But.. tomorrow would be better.

Finally the sun came over the horizon and as I started to warm up.. I fell into a deep sleep.

For about 5 minutes.... "Wake up Mark.. time to get up!"

About a half hour later finds us walking through really high scratching undergrowth looking for the the way up. And the funny thing I learnt that day is this.... When you pick out an object in the distance and decide to walk to it.... somehow it recedes into the distance as you approach it. You walk and you walk and you never get closer. Well not for a few hours that is.

Long story short is that we did get to the top and back down way after sunset. I don't have any pix from the top because... I left my plastic camera on my camp stretcher covered by the bloody eiderdown quilt.

Easter Sunday we lay around the camp as we were both stuffed. Had no idea how hard that was going to be.

Late Easter Monday night we pull up at Armagh Street and I am home. Jump into a hot shower and man oh man are my legs reacting to the hot water. Talk about covered in scratches, blisters all over my feet and bits of skin missing everywhere.

Could not believe how warm and comfortable my bed was that night.

And to think it was 50 years ago this Easter, yet fresh in my mind like just last week.

After that trip I started to buy better gear including Paddy Palin boots. My bushwalking days with Ken continued with a trip to Mount Barney later in the year and then to many other places including the Stinson crash site.

He was a good mate taken way too soon.

Ken at Mt Barney January 1970

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Why fly/drive when you can ride?

So it all made sense... well sort of.

Deb had some errands for me to run in Sydney and then Canberra.

Easy, fly to Sydney, rent a car.

Do the business there and then drive to Canberra.

Same there and then fly out of Canberra back to Brisbane.

 But then a thought came over me.. why not take the bike?

Ride to Sydney, CBR and then home via the Snowy Mountains.

The Long way home!

Thing is... planes and cars are basically weatherproof..... one day I shall learn.

Packed up the GSA and man was it loaded. Didn't realise paper work could weigh so much.

Down the Pacific Highway and up over the range via Bellingen and Dorigo to spend the first night at Armidale. Brochure drop the next morning and then down Thunderbolts Way to the Pacific Highway. The first time I had ever travelled along that road. An amazing ride. Must go back for a look around in the car when holidays roll around.

Eventually I arrive in Sydney.. but along the way I took the Old Pacific Highway and had lunch at Pie in the Sky.

Had one of the best meat pies ever here for lunch.

Arrived in Sydney late that afternoon as storms hovered overhead. Checked into the motel and had an early night.  This time I remembered to remove the lamb's wool seat cover from the bike before it rained. (Don't ask!)

An early start in the morning, a couple of people to see, one of whom was the Auto Expert, John Cadogan. His Youtube videos are legendary. And he is the place to go to buy a new car! John has been very helpful in coaching me on video production for the bride's shop's website. His knowledge of all things photographic is amazing and he is a mechanical engineer to boot.

You smile for the camera John and I will see what this button does!

After a couple of the best coffees I have ever had, I bid my farewell to John and head to Canberra. Now the GSA has 2 GPS systems on it and I run them in parallel and of course.. they both had different ideas in how to get to CBR. Only one of them has an on screen map so I follow that one as I dice with Sydney traffic and big trucks and threatening skies.

Finally, Canberra bound.

Now this GSA is an amazing bike to tour on. Long range with a large fuel tank, cruise control etc. But sometimes even it needs fuel and my backside needs a rest. Stopped at a service centre along the way and filled the beast up. Filled myself up with V and a couple of Panadol and away I went. Debra's old school friend Cheryl offered to put me up for the night. Sadly when she came down to open the garage, she locked herself out of her unit. So a quick long way ride around via Uber to a friend's place to get the spare key was my start to a couple of days in Canberra.

When we got back.. the bike was still there (bonus!) so into the underground garage it went.

Cheryl's FB pix.. "A man and his bike"

A great steak that night at the local football club and the next day I had the morning free. So off we went in the Mustang to the Old Parliament House to see an exhibition of the best political cartoons of 2018. Some really good stuff there. We went our separate ways then as I had some business to do and later in the day I managed to catch up with old school friend Tor Fromyr. Now I saw Tor last year and it was the first time in 50 years. And it was as though we had just seen each other yesterday. I always kid Tor that he looks like a Russian Spy. Cannot wait to get him into the studio for some black & white photography when next he comes to Brisbane. In the meantime.... we had a quick catchup in this fabulous cafe somewhere in Canberra.

Talk about Euro feel cafe!

Tor's comment was that I should take care with whom I associate with in the nation's capital.

Recently I wrote about my late father. In my small collection of his "stuff" was a victory medal from I think WW1. It was not his. In fact I have no idea how he came by it, but I always thought I should try to find a home for it. Using the search engine on the War Memorial Site I could not locate the owner. But I did find my late Uncle Jack and my second dad, Allan Gay.

Seemed to me that this medal in the top drawer in my office was just a piece of metal. Imagine the joy for somebody out there being reunited with a long lost relative by receiving their Victory Medal? It had to find an owner. At this point I thought perhaps the folks at the War Memorial in Canberra could help. I emailed Dr Brendan Nelson and asked him for advice. I had photographed him for an assignment when he was a cabinet minister many years ago. He actually remembered that.

So Friday morning finds me in Dr Nelson's office handing the medal to him.

I hope it finds a new home and brings some joy!

DR N and me... Deb was horrified by my wardrobe matching!

Dr Nelson is (was) a keen motorcyclist and only recently sold his beloved white Hayabusa. He just loves the form of motorcycles and told me he would have two inside his house.. if only his wife would let him. Understand that.. makes perfect sense.

Now that's a bike!

So while I was at the War Memorial I thought I would have another look around.

G for George, what an aeroplane.

What a magnificent design even by today's standards.

This aeroplane can tell some stories.... Google it.

The bridge of HMAS Brisbane, now resting on the bottom of the ocean.

First time I have seen a centurion tank in the flesh. had a toy one as a kid.

Now at this point, any normal person would drive to Canberra airport and fly home. No.. not me, I am going to loop through the Snowy Mountains and ride back to Brisbane. So I saddle up and head to Cooma for the night. If you ever saw Gold Finger, you might remember a scene where the Koreans put a giant mirror up and the reflection of Bond's Headlights confused him and he crashed the Aston Martin. So the motel I stayed at had this really long car park.... my room was at the end. As I rode along slowly looking for room numbers on the doors I looked up and suddenly saw another motorbike heading right for me. Talk about panic.. but no.. it was me looking at my own reflection. The end wall was all mirrors. Nearly dropped the bike...

Notice the mirror behind the bike!

The next day was Saturday.. so a day of touring and then head for  home. Up early and off to see the sights....

Cabramurra at 1488 metres. It was 14C with a really cold wind blowing. 

First port of call was Cabramurra the highest town permanently lived in all year. Cold as a mother in law's kiss. That wind chill factor was something else.

Had to park the bike this way so the wind didn't blow it over.

Then it was down the mountain.. a full 10 C difference in temp to boil the billy.

The good old Aldi camp stove.

Nice and sunny today!

Really freaky. Just a ramp down to the underground and lots of wind coming out.

Time to head for home. And the last picture....

This is the most amazing place. I need a good week's holiday down here. Saw wild brumbies, waterfalls and all sorts of amazing things. Need more time to take it in. Rode home in two days and managed to miss most of the storms once north of Sydney. I literally just got the bike locked in the garage, the door came down and then the biggest electrical storm hit Brisbane. Lightning, thunder you name it.. we had it.

All in all an awesome trip....

GPS and telemetry data here.

GPS trip computer 

Telemetry 1.

Telemetry 2.

Telemetry 3.

Amazing stuff. And all 50 years since man walked on the moon. Now even motorcycles have telemetry.