Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cook's Voyages

Some time ago I had the good fortune to meet a man through my Mac computer recycling efforts.  He, like me, was in the W.A. Education system and we have since found that we both know quite a few of the characters of the local teaching profession.   At the time of our first meeting, he mentioned that one of his hobbies was bookbinding and I immediately pressed him for advice about our copy of a 1790 publication of Cook’s voyages which was in bad repair and falling to pieces.  Yesterday I collected the rebound book and it is a great restoration of this valuable record of Cook’s voyages in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.  Thank you Merv; great job!
Of course 1790 was quite some time before photography and photolithography and so the illustrations are ‘woodcuts’.

A friend who lives in Sydney,  Albert, suggests that woodcuts are not of a print standard of those in the book.  He has a graphics background and thinks they are more likely 'steel cuts'.  They could also be copper plate etchings.

A full group shot of the attendees at the Papua New Guinea ex-Pats gathering a few days ago. This is one photo of me that I am happy to own up to.  Rear 2nd from left next to the giant.

Friday, May 24, 2013

PNG Expatriates

I have just returned home from a pleasant get-together of around 10 folk who lived and worked in Papua New Guinea.  There was one young bloke amongst us, Greg, who introduced himself and also told me that he reads my blog.  First time I have met someone I had not known before who reads my blog.  Life is full of coincidences.
Greg who seems to be accustomed to holding up a number

The rest of us are all around 70 and I’m guessing Greg is in his 50s.  He still has a business interest in Papua New Guinea and travels there up to five times a year.  I might offer to carry his bags on one of his trips.

The gathering was at the Zamia restaurant in Kings Park.  Most ex PNG types settled back on the eastern seaboard of Australia, many in tropical Queensland.  And seeing that the Western Australians are scattered around a state which a fair bit of Europe could be squeezed into, large gatherings are unlikely.   It was almost a reunion as I had previously met three of the attendees at another function. 

                                                      The mob, sans Kev

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

House inspection

I had a neighbour’s cat visit today on an inspection tour.  She/He/it checked out every room and seemed quite satisfied that it would be a good place to live or at least visit.  I don’t know exactly where it lives, but it cruises past about one a month and drops in for a visit.

I recently found some photographs of an airstrip at Kikori in the Gulf of Papua which was my first posting in 1962 when I taught there.    Back then there was no airstrip and all flights in and out were made in the wonderful Catalina flying boat.   The current airstrip is not operational because of lack of maintenance on the Marsden Matting.  Marsden Matting was used all over the Pacific in WW2 by U.S. forces to make swampy/sandy land into solid landing strips.  As I recall it was often like landing on a collander with water and mud shooting up onto the bottom of aircraft through the holes.  Very noisy landings too.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Angiogram

Well today was the day....I had the Angiogram and I am pleased to say that it was not an unpleasant experience and the results showed that an artery was estimated to be 50% blocked with calcification.

The Cardiologist told me that that level of calcification needed to be monitored, but not treated with  a stent or bypass at this stage.  Good news for me.

The nursing staff and operating theatre staff were efficient and most pleasant.  One nurse, Fran, was assigned to me (and probably to others as well)  but she made me feel as though I was somewhat special.  As an oldie I liked that.

The actual procedure was interesting and as I was conscious was able to follow the whole thing.  A port was inserted in my inner elbow to give me some relaxant meds. Another was inserted in my groin for the tube which would release a dye into the artery near my heart to enable a clear image scan of the calcified artery.  I was able to view the procedure on a TV screen and could clearly see the constriction.

Brother Graham collected me at 5pm and I was home in no time for a couple of coffees.

I have a referral for a stress test in six months and if anything shows further deterioration, a stent might be inserted to widen the constricted artery.

That over, I can go ahead with bookings for flights and hotel in Sydney town on our South Pacific Cruise on July 1st.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cardiac stuff

In the past; Doctors (GPs) did everything...home visits, tonsillectomies, appendectomies, sutures of small wounds and everyone seemed to survive....I did.  These days,  Technology reins.  I had an ex-ray, then a CT Scan, then a referral to a Cardiologist who today suggested I needed an Angiogram which he will conduct on Friday.    There seems to be a specialisation of services which has followed the technology of the computer age and I am quite happy that my treatment is more precise than that of my youth.
A scan showed that I had calcification of a vein into my heart which could be of concern. I doubt that that could have been accurately determined 50 years ago. The Angiogram will, I understand, run a test which will tell the man if the calcification is restricting blood flow to my heart and suggest that all is OK, or that I need a bypass op.   Don’t care too much as I have had 73 years of a successful life and I am not enjoying being without my late wife Joan too much.

I am off to hospital on Friday at mid-day and should be discharged around 6pm.  Not allowed to drive, so my friend Dennis is delivering me to hospital and bro Graham collecting me when I am able to call him around 6pm.

As Willy Wonker said....’Strike that, reverse it’,  I am hoping for a good result.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Goldfields Drama

The goldfields of eastern Western Australia has had its share of dramas.  One was the rescue of an Italian miner, Modesto Varischetti, from a flooded underground mine near Coolgardie.   It is a good story and can be found here. There is also a reference to Herbert Hoover, who was a mining engineer at Kalgoorlie at the time and assisted in the rescue of Varischetti.    This plaque is on the wall of the student accommodation block at the Kalgoorlie School of Mines.

Coincidentally, whilst we were in Kalgoorlie,  Margaret struck up a conversation (strange that!) with a man named Richard, who turned out to be a distant relative of Modesto Varischetti, on his mother’s side.


By 1902 Kalgoorlie had a tram system and it ran up until 1952. 

Click this link to read about it.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Kalgoorlie lookback

We arrived back from Kalgoorlie around 3pm yesterday.  It was a seven hour drive@ the maximum speed limit of 110kph with a stop over at Merredin for a ‘cuppa’ and snack. Over the three days we were there, we ‘did’ Kalgoorlie taking in sites such as the Superpit, museums, some lovely public buildings and the gals haunted a few Op Shops.   I reckon Kalgoorlie must have more preserved old buildings that any other Australian town.  Some do need some restoration work.  Pics below.
The motel we had booked into was one I had previously used before, but on a travel site it was shown with a different photo of the hotel/motel.  A much different photo!  Some wag had posted an image of a substantial building.  Some folks would get a bit offside once they arrived after booking online.  I showed the photo to the management and they were unaware that someone had posted the the photo of lovely two-story hotel suggesting it was the Star and Garter.

The real Star and Garter
The motel was a bit basic and no awards were given to the designers of the ‘new’ units we were allocated.  They were definitely designed to be on-site accommodation for miners.

Kalgoorlie is a very busy town/city but relies heavily on the price of gold, which at the moment, has fallen almost to the point of mines laying off staff.

Interestingly, many small towns and places to the East of Perth have names ending in ‘-in’.....Tammin, Cunderdin, Kellerberrin, Merredin, Burracopin, Carrabin, Bodallin etc, whilst when one travels South from Perth many towns have names ending in ‘-up’.....Burekup. Dardanup, Boyanup, Mallalyup, Balingup, Boyup, Manjimup etc.  These endings to place names are from the indigenous languages and usually mean ‘place of’.

We  enjoyed the drive and visit to Kalgoorlie.

                   Click on photos to enlarge. Click again to scroll through.
                                  Margaret and Joy with Padddy Hannan
                                             In need of restoration
                                             Old miner's cottage
                                        Joy admiring the Palace Hotel foyer
               Kalgoorlie's wide roads are a legacy of bullock wagon days

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


I have been getting ready for the road trip to Kalgoorlie.  We head off at around 9am tomorrow and it is around an 7 hour drive.  I am ironing trousers and shirts, which is not something that I usually do.  Kalgoorlie isn’t a town that demands a certain standard of dress, but my two companions, Joy and Margaret are taking their Ball gowns, so I guess I should dress for breakfast at McDonalds.

The report from the ECG I recently had was  too complex for me to fully understand without the help of Mr Google and my GP gave me a referral to a Cardiologist.    He assures me that I am not going to die at the wheel en route to Kal, but Margaret and Joy seem a little doubtful and are boning up on the use of their mobiles so that they can call for help when I run off the road into a tree.

The current weather is very windy and we should save a lot of fuel by being propelled east by the wind.

Any medicos out there who can interpret the big words on the results below?

Monday, May 6, 2013


I take a look at where visitors live who are looking at this blog.   By far the most hits are from someone living in Mountain View, California.  Surprisingly the most searched for topic is the post of Jacob and Josef Kohn furniture factory.  See that post here.

The tracking software, Sitemeter,  is very smart and gives information on lots of things.  The link to Sitemeter can be found at the bottom of each posting.   

Friday, May 3, 2013


I have had an ECG on my blood pump.  The results show some highs and lows with the heartbeat, but the gal who did the ECG told me that this is not uncommon.  I will meet with my GP on Monday and see what he makes of the Physician’s report.  I have enquired about travel insurance and if the heart results are to be a problem, I can get cover for all the other things that could happen on our cruise.

Next Thursday we are off on the Kalgoorlie road trip.  I found a photograph of the small carriage my uncle used as his house and office for a year when he was sent to the end of the Wood Line circa 1940.    One old, scratched, underexposed photo from that time and another of the same carriage as it is at the Kalgoorlie Museum.  I previously mentioned my uncle’s first posting to Kalgoorlie when he joined the Western Australian Police Force in 1938. See here

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Travel insurance

Brother Graham has sold his house unit and has already bought another in the suburb of Ardross.   He moves in in June.  Meantime he wants to go on a cruise and has asked me to accompany him.  Sounds good to me!
Yesterday we selected the cruise and deluxe cabin with a balcony.  Once we confirm the booking, we have three days to pay to secure that deal. The ship, a P & O liner, Pacific Sunrise, departing  from Sydney, goes to New Caledonia and on to a few other islands close to New Caledonia. About six years ago, Joan and I, along with Joan's sister Dorothy and husband Mike, did a similar trip to the South Pacific.  It was most pleasant.

I had a sudden problem where my GP sent me for a CT scan of my lungs after an Xray.  There were some plaque-like images on the Xray and he thought it best to see a clearer image of the lungs.  I figured that it was best to determine if there was any urgency to commence treatment before we paid up for the cruise.  The scan results were back today and the GP  informed me that there was nothing of immediate concern….except a calcified blood vessel into my heart and missing heart beats.  The images on the Xray were probably from a contact with TB in Papua New Guinea in the 1960s.    There goes my travel insurance.
I am having an initial ECG tomorrow and depending on the results, a further stress-test ECG later.  I thought of telling  a few 'porkies' when applying for Travel Insurance, but I reckon if something went wrong the insurance company would be talking to my GP about my medical history.  I will investigate the possibility of insurance excluding heart conditions.

Previous to today, I thought conditions of the heart were confined to romance.

A little over three years ago, my wife Joan and I paid up for a cruise to Indonesia and ports back down the Western Australian coast to Fremantle.  She was diagnosed with advanced bowel, liver and lung cancer and we had to cancel to commence the battle against the beast.  Our travel insurance refunded all the monies we had paid.