Posted by: jkirkby8712 | January 1, 2012

SUNDAY, 1st January 2012 – messages, and stories, and distant family memories!

There’s a beautiful mother on Face Book, whom I first met through my Yahoo Blogs a few years ago – she lives up on the coast of New South Wales, and has three very loving daughters, the eldest just turned 18. The following generic message appeared on her site on New Year’s Eve, and I felt it was a perfect way of looking at things.   Brief,  and I don’t know who the author was, but thank you for sharing it, Raquel.   ..”Each moment in a day has its own value. Morning brings HOPE, Afternoon brings FAITH, Evening brings LOVE, Night brings REST”.  It’s a thought like that with which I would like to start sharing my 2012 blog contributions with whoever cares to read them.

Someone else who had a message for 2012 was Tony Abbott, leader of the Liberal Party, and the Federal Opposition in Australia. I don’t agree with al;l that Tony says, nor in particular with the manner in which he approaches his role leads the Opposition. However, in general I support his Party and what they believe in, and was satisfied with their first message for the new year. Quite often, I’ve not been satisfied, with the negativity that has been indicative of much that comes out of the Liberal Party over the past 18 months or so. This one was precise, indicate the needs of 2012, and left the bitter rhetoric of negativity behind on this occasion.

“Dear Bill

On behalf of the Liberal and National Parties, I wish all Australians a happy New Year.  The New Year is a time to reflect, a time to be optimistic and a time to set goals. Many of us did it tough in 2011. The challenges of nature, economic uncertainty and cost of living all tested us but Australians are a strong, resourceful and resilient people. We came through last year. The challenge is to make 2012 a year of hope, reward and opportunity.

We need to build a stronger economy because that will make our nation stronger and the best way to do this is for government to live within its means. Ending the waste and repaying the debt means that we can take the pressure off inflation and interest rates. That means we can get taxes down – that will help small business to grow and create jobs and to make our country more prosperous. As well, government needs to get the fundamentals right, of keeping commitments, protecting our borders and building a more productive society.

I hope that in 2012 all of us will be nearer to our best selves and I pledge the Coalition to help in this great task.

Yours truly,

Tony Abbott, Liberal Party Leader

While I suppose most people remain asleep for quite a while on New Years Day, not so your personal essayist – in particular because it was a Sunday morning, and time for me to present my 289th  Sunday morning ‘Classical Music’ program on the local community radio station. I began the show [7-9am, now start at 6.30am] in February 2006, so this is my 7th calendar year. In that time, the only reasons I’ve not been on air of a morning, was due to illness or because I was away from Sunbury on a holiday or trip somewhere. Ohh yes, one morning, my daughter parked her car in front of mine – I didn’t want to wake her to borrow the key [she’s not a ‘morning person’] so I sacrificed that show that morning, and I consider that the only ‘unjustified’ absence!!

 With a new year, I’ve also changed the format of the Sunday program  a little,  and with my feature composer and/or music of the week, have decided to draw upon the ABC’s Classic FM Radio Station’s  ‘2011 – 20th Century Listeners’ Choices as the top 100 pieces of classical music preferred. Decided to begin at the top – most popular choice for a classical piece of music composed since 1900 was the Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E Minor. This was written in 1917, while Elgar & his wife were staying in an 15th century cottage just outside the village of Fittleworth in the Sussex countryside where they had gone to sample the peace and quiet. It’s a piece of music that remains one of Elgar’s most popular works, and for many [particularly those of English background] that is largely due to the effect of the creation of nostalgia and heart-ache of English romantic music from the time. This morning, I had an English orchestra performing – the London Philharmonic conducted by Sir Adrian Boult.  This morning, I also got into the ‘festival season’ mood by playing a number of waltzes and polkas by the Strauss composers, performed in vocal fashion by the Vienna Boys Choir. That music reminded me to mention to listeners that the annual Vienna News Years Day concert was due to be televised tonight  – a concert which principally features the waltz music of composers such as Strauss I and II.  That was the music part of my day!!  [And by coincidence, the Vienna Boys Choir were guest performers on tonight’s New Years Day Concert from Vienna, and a couple of the songs they sung, were of tracks I played this morning].

I mentioned yesterday [last year!!] that I had two major books on the go at present, two very different books  – one for serious reading [which is going to take me a while to get through], and one for a bit of more light hearted pleasure, that won’t take so long to work the way through. Will just remind readers of the titles here – will no doubt refer to them in more detail as time passes!! In a lighter mode, we have ‘Treasury’ by Maeve Binchly, a selection of over 40 short stories [I’ve already decided that most of them are in fact too short as I read through them – I generally want the storyline to continue!], while for the more serious reading moments,  we have ‘Tobruk’ by Peter Fitzsimons, the story of the Battle of Tobruk in Northern Africa [Libya] from World War II in 1941. I am only a fraction of the way through that book, and am already finding it quite fascinating and educational – realising how many aspects of the Second World War, I’ve not being familiar with [and I’ve barely begun the book]. For example, was this perhaps one of the crucial’ mistakes in judgement made before the war?  From p. 37, Fitzsimons writes:

“Yet, while the rest of Europe was not nearly so compelled by the same argument, the bottom line was that they were not prepared to fight to stop Hitler achieving his aims. That, at least, was the purpose with what became known as the Munich Agreement, a treaty signed in Munich on 29th September 1938 by Hitler of Germany, Bernito Mussolini of Italy, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of Britain and Premier Edouard Daladier of France, whereby the latter two nations agreed that Hitler could march his troops into the Sudetenland and in return Hitler would make no further claims on any other territory in Europe”.  Need we say any more! …………………….. Fitzsimons has set the scene for  Tobruk, taking us from the closing stages of World War I through the rise of Hitler, fascism and the Nazi Party up to the respective allied declarations of war against Germany and Italy, basically when Hitler his ‘no further claims’ promise. It will be slow going, but I have some interesting, if not disturbing reading ahead!

It was hot outside, so I decided to watch an Australian movie that is personally important to me – ‘We Of The Never Never’ – based on the book by Jeannie Gunn, a true story of her own experiences  –   special to me because one of the stockmen who is a part of the story, was actually an uncle to my great grandmother, on the Suttie side of the family.

We of the Never Never is an autobiographical novel by Jeannie Gunn. Although published as a novel, it is an account of the author’s experiences in 1902 at Elsey Station near Mataranka, Northern Territory in which she changed the names of people to obscure their identities. She published this book under her married name of Mrs Aeneas Gunn. Over the years newspapers and magazine articles chronicled the fortunes of the Elsey characters; Jeannie outlived all but Bett-Bett [the little Aboriginal that she befriends in the story].  Mrs Gunn was the first white woman to settle in the Mataranka area. Her husband was a partner in Elsey cattle station on the Roper River, some 300 miles (483 km) south of Darwin. On 2 January 1902 the couple sailed for Port Darwin so that he could take up his role as the station’s new manager. In Palmerston (Darwin), Mrs Gunn was discouraged from accompanying her husband to the station on the basis that as a woman she would be “out of place” on a station such as the Elsey. However, she travelled south and her book describes the journey and settling in. However on 16 March 1903 Aeneas died of malarial dysentery and Jeannie returned to Melbourne shortly afterwards 

Wikipedia tells me that the book is regarded as being significant as a precursor of the 1930s landscape writers [such as Ion Iddriess whom I’ve referred to in past contributions]. Already in 1908 Australia was a significantly urbanised country and the book was seen to provide symbols of things that made Australia different from anywhere else, underwriting an Australian legend of life and achievement in the outback, where “men and a few women still lived heroic lives in rhythm with the gallop of a horse” in “forbidding faraway places”  In 1988 the book was referred to as a “minor masterpiece of Australian letters” by Penguin’s New Literary History of Austral   The book was made into a film also called We of the Never Never in 1982 and shot on location in the Northern Territory – the setting of the novel.  This was the movie version I watched this afternoon – have of course seen it before, but the emotion of some of the storylines still gets to the viewer [this one anyway!!].  Leading actors were Angela Punch-McGregor as Jeannie Gunn, Arthur Dignam as Aeneas Gunn, and Tony Barry as MacLennon, while Martin Vaughan played the part of Dan, the Head Stockman – he was in reality, my great grandmother’s uncle, Dave Suttie. He would later die, alone on the side of the road to Wyndham near the Ivanhoe Station in northwest of Western Australia in 1912.  There is supposed to be a gravesite marker at the relevant spot  – I guess my dream would  be to find it one day, but the likelihood of that is dim!

 I have in my possession, the original of a 6 page letter written by Jeannie Gunn to my grandfather, in November of 1939, in which she mentions that  ‘My dear old Dave died in February 1912, and beyond the fact that he had been brought up at Swan Hill, & sundry tales of his boyish years, I knew little of any folk belonging to him. He had spoken once in a general way of a sister and some nephews and nieces I think but beyond that, I knew nothing …….the date of his death was Feb’y 5th or 6th, 1912. He died quietly in his midday camp on the road on his way out to the Ord River from Wyndham, as he passed through Ivanhoe Station, and is buried just where he died, on the roadside there’. Later, she writes further about Dave where she says:-  “He was just the dearest, most loyal old Bushman and as right and true in every most intimate way. There was never anything in that dear old man’s life that could not have the most searching light upon it…..He only drifted out of your knowledge I know, because he could neither read nor write – as the natural outcome of those early years of his before education in those far outbacks dreamed of books or such things. It was one of his big regrets and we had a fine plan in which he was to learn from me, just as the younger quiet stockman was doing then, when all ended for us all [with the death of her husband from fever]……

I had dinner over at the family home at Goonawarra this evening – another regular thing for New Years Day, although not all the family there this time, and I notice that the ‘younger’ ones, James, Jodie [and her boyfriend] were obviously all still ‘recovering’ from their New Years Eve ‘activities!!! Us ‘oldies’ were much fitter tonight!! Although, after eating another of my former mother-in-law’s wonderful means [still a great cook at near 91 years], I obviously ate too well  –  the dreaded scouge of the diabetes complaint hitting me again, so returned home feeling a lot tireder than I had arrived a few hours earlier!!!  I finished my 1st of  January watching the New Years Day Concert from Vienna in Austria as performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Wonderful night of music, mainly from the Strauss family, as always.

That in a few paragraphs was ‘my’ first day of 2012  – yes there were a few vague resolutions and things I would like to achieve this coming twelve months, but as usual, I generally keep those ideas to myself, and just see where life takes me >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>



  1. Hi Bill,

    Just wanted to say Happy New Year!!

    I too was awake early on Jan 1st as I was on the bus back from Kyoto, wonderful way to spend New Year’s Eve!!

    Hope you have a fabulous year, heres to lots of blogging.

    Hannah 🙂

  2. Hi there Hami,

    Yes indeed, a different way to spend New Year’s Eve, can’t say I’ve ever been a bus, that I can recall on that particular night, although I have 6 decades of NYEs to remember, so might have missed one!!

    I sometimes think I should stop bothering to write, as I don’t think I generate much interest or response. However, I quickly discount thoughts of that nature when I realise that I have been writing ‘diaries’ of sorts all my life – so even if I stopped putting these daily ‘blogs’ on a blog site of some sort, I would most likely keep writing, simply for my own ‘diary purposes’ – I guess my thinking is, that in 100 years time, there might be a descendent of mine as crazy as myself, who would die to find a diary written 200 years ago by an ancestor!!! But there’s probably only one me!!! 🙂

    Anyway, Happy New Year to yourself, hope it’s a safe and happy one for you,

    from Bill [Sunbury, Australia]

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