Posted by: jkirkby8712 | March 30, 2012

Thursday, 29th March 2012 – Prime Ministerial Avenue, and a Memorial Service for a special lady.

After a regular Thursday morning session at the gymnasium this morning, it was home for a quick shower and change, and then time to hit the road for the drive down to Ballarat. I was not expected today, and I guess might have even changed my mind as of this morning. But in the end, despite reservations, made the right choice I think. As usual, most vehicles on the freeway between Bacchus Marsh and Ballarat, where the speed limit is 110 kph, pass this driver – I simply prefer these days to keep my speed below the 100 mark. I’m comfortable with that, and with two lanes, it seldom means I’m delaying anyone else. Occasionally the big truckers get a bit annoyed that they have to change lanes, but in most cases, s with the other vehicles, it would not seem to matter if I was doing the maximum of 110, most drivers would still be passing me!!!  People just simply don’t seem to like having a restriction of that sort placed upon them.

Bit of time to spare in Ballarat, before the 2pm service at my old church [Neil Street] for Heather’s mother – Muriel Gladys Jones, who died last Sunday night. Filled the car up with fuel, checked the air in my tyres [which always seem to be worrying me – I’d always had so many problems with unexplained tyre punctures when driving the VPTA car, that a degree of tyre paranoia seems to have carried over to the Mitsubishi!], then drove around to the Botanical Gardens, where I parked in a spot overlooking the beautiful Lake Wendouree, and had a look at the local paper.  Referring back to the comment I made yesterday about the current low polling of the Labor Party under PM, Julia Gillard, it was interesting to read an article in the Ballarat Courier today  – telling readers that work is almost complete on the creation of the head-sized statue of Julia Gillard – to be added to the avenue of Australia’s Prime Ministers which is in the Ballarat Botanic Gardens. These are a collection of bronze portraits of all 25 Australian Prime Ministers , which are set within the magnificent Horse Chestnut Avenue within the Gardens. One of the founding fathers of Federation was Alfred Deakin who was the first Federal Member for Ballarat and the second Prime Minister. They are each displayed as bronze portraits mounted on polished granite pedestals. I didn’t have a look at them today, but have done so on many occasions during visits to the area.  A bit of history –   On March 2 ,1940 the then Governor of Victoria, Sir Winston Duggan unveiled the busts of  the first six Prime Ministers of Australia at a ceremony in the long avenue of Horse Chestnuts. The donor, Richard Armstrong Crouch was born in Ballarat in 1868. He was elected to Federal Parliament in 1901 as a member of the Protectionist Party for the electorate of Corio, representing that area until his defeat nine years later. He was the youngest member of the new House of Representatives and shared a rare distinction with the oldest member . W.H. Green of Queensland. After service in World War  1, Crouch returned to  parliament, this time as Labour member for Corangamite, but after a brief two year period was again defeated. During his terms, Crouch served under two Ballarat Prime Ministers Alfred Deakin and James Scullin. What prompted Crouch’s concept for benefaction? His patronage and love of fine arts which he supported and endowed in many other ways and the influence of two parliamentary terms under the statesmen Barton, Deakin, Watson, Fisher and Scullin prompted him to return to Ballarat something of what it had given him. Not only did he provide the actual busts, but he left a legacy to perpetuate this historic avenue. Each of Australia’s Prime Ministers is depicted regardless of the length of time spent in office.

The first sculptor was Wallace Anderson who was born in 1888 at Dean near Ballarat. Wallace’s most renowned work is “Simpson and His Donkey” displayed at the Melbourne. His work at the Australian War Memorial  and  The Ballarat Botanical Gardens established him as a sought after artist in the medium of bronze sculpture. Wallace Anderson created the busts of Barton, Deakin, Watson, Reid, Fisher,  Cook, Hughes, Bruce, Scullin, Lyons, Page, Menzies, Fadden and Curtin.  Ken Palmer was born in Ballarat in 1925 and studied art at the Ballarat School of Mines. He was commissioned to sculpt Chifley’s bust during his election campaign in 1946. Ken taught art in Schools in Castlemaine and Melbourne before returning to Ballarat where he opened an art shop.  Victor Greenhalgh was born in Ballarat in 1900. He was educated at the Ballarat School of  Mines until World War One. Following the war he returned to study at the Working Men’s College. He taught art at the Bendigo School of Mines, Ballarat School of Mines and  Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. His large statue of King George V dominates the Sturt Street plantation. His last work within the Prime Ministers Avenue was Malcolm Fraser’s bust which he was himself critical of the final casting. Following Victor Greenhalgh’s death the bust of Malcolm Fraser was recommissioned. Victor’s works displayed are Holt, McEwan, Gorton, McMahon and Whitlam.   Peter Nicholson was born in Melbourne in 1946, studied law and became renowned for his cartoons in the Nation Review, Financial Review and The Age. In 1985 he created the TV puppets “Rubbery Figures”. His serious work as a sculptor was not well known to the general public until commissioned to produce Premier Rupert Hamer’s bust for Parliament House Melbourne. Peter was commissioned to undertake the sculpting of Bob Hawke’s  bust. Following the success and acclaim of this work the replacement bust of Malcolm Fraser was commissioned. His works of Paul Keating and John Howard have followed his philosophy that the busts should impart an expression of the character of the individual. Peter created the bust of Robert Bruce Clark mounted in the Robert Clark Centre forecourt.

Today’s Courier report has Peter Nicholson still at work – this time working on the models for the bust of current Prime Minister Julia Gillard [I’m assuming that a bust has already been created for Kevin Rudd, although was not mentioned in the above summary – in fact, Nicholson did also create the Rudd bust which is on display in the Garden’s avenue]. Nicholson has updated himself – using his website and  Twitter to show working models of the likeness of Australia’s first female Prime Minister. He has an interesting way of reaching his final creation – in Nicholson’s words “When I do a portrait bust I start off by making several small, quick maquettes. When they get to a certain stage I just abandon them,  mistakes and all, and get on with another one. The result is, eventually I can do the final large head working quickly and freely almost entirely from memory”.  Ms Gillard will become the 27th edition to the historic collection.

Here are those 27 Australian Prime Ministers

  • Edmund Barton 1901 to 1903
  • Alfred Deakin 1903 to 1904, 1905 to 1908, 1909 to 1910
  • Chris Watson 1904
  • George Reid 1904 to 1905
  • Andrew Fisher 1908 to 1909, 1910 to 1913, 1914 to 1915
  • Joseph Cook 1913 to 1914
  • Billy Hughes  1915 to 1923
  • Stanley Bruce 1923 to 1929
  • James Scullin 1929 to 1932
  • Joseph Lyons 1932 to 1939
  • Earle Page  1939
  • Robert Menzies 1939 to 1941, 1949 to 1966
  • Artie Fadden 1941
  • John Curtin  1941 to 1945
  • Frank Forde  1945
  • Ben Chifley  1945 to 1949
  • Harold Holt  1966 to 1967
  • John McEwan 1967 to 1968
  • John Gorton 1968 to 1971
  • William McMahon 1971 to 1972
  • Gough Whitlam 1972 to 1975
  • Malcolm Fraser 1975 to 1983
  • Bob Hawke  1983 to 1991
  • Paul Keating 1991 to 1996
  • John Howard 1996
  • Kevin Rudd 2007-2009
  • Julia Gillard 2009 –

Back to my purpose in being down here in Ballarat. I arrived at the Neil Street Uniting Church at about 15 minutes before starting time of today’s Memorial Service for the mother of my schooldays friend, Heather – Muriel Gladys Jones [1916-2012]. Way back in the 1950s, Mrs Jones had undertaken some kind gestures, unasked for, towards my own mother & one of my sisters. I’d been reminded of that recently, by both Heather and Jill – hence my presence today, as a tribute to both Heather & her mother. I last visited this church at the end of August last year, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of this old church [at which I’d been asked to make an address – see blog for August 2011], and it was there that I’d caught up with Heather’s brother, Ross, and from that eventually made contact with his sister after about 5 years!!

Apart from Heather and Ross, there were not too many other familiar faces amongst the large congregation present at the service today [which had been preceded earlier by a private family dedication and cremation].  As mentioned earlier, I’d not been expected today, wanting to keep a low profile, but Heather would not allow that –  I think she was rather pleased to see me stroll across the road in front of the church just before 2 o’clock, and over the next couple of hours, insisted on introducing me to all of her family and friends, etc, who were present [including her ‘wayward’ son, Brad, whom I’d heard so much about in recent months] as ‘her friend’, Bill! A little embarrassing but she seemed quite willing and pleased to be able to do so.

It was a beautiful, quite lengthy service – as son Ross insisted during his wonderful 30 minute plus speech/tribute of remembrance of his mother, a time to ‘rejoice’ in her life, and if you didn’t know her beforehand, by the end of that hour or so, it would become obvious that this quiet, softly spoken, kind hearted little lady was a much loved mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend to all. Meanwhile, Ross, who obviously enjoyed a good talk, was preceded by addresses by both Heather’s daughter, and then a granddaughter of Mrs Jones – the latter, extremely genuinely heartfelt and emotional.

Three beautiful hymns during the service – Amazing Grace, Make Me A Channel of Your Peace, and [for a lady who loved dancing apparently], he Lord of the Dance. Now readers may recall, that in Sunday’s contribution, I made reference to the fact that during that morning’s radio program, I played a version of that 2nd hymn, above [taken from the Funeral service of Diana Princess of Wales] – as a tribute of comfort for Mrs Jones, who was at that stage going through her final battle of life. Speaking to Heather later, I discovered that it was no coincidence that hymn was chosen for today, by Heather – her mother had been conscious enough to express appreciation at the gesture, when it was relayed to her before she died, and Heather had included it in the ‘Order of Service’ for that reason. She had obviously made mention of that to others – her brother Ross, specifically thanked me for ‘what I had done’, when I spoke to him after the service.

I stayed around for a while after the service to join in the get together and light refreshments in the old Sunday school hall – noting that the cottage between the church and the hall was the little house that my family had lived in for 7/8 years in the 1950s [there were 8 of us when we eventually moved up to Humffray Street – 2 adults and 6 kids!] – chatted with son Brad for a while [he’d also driven down from Melbourne today] and was introduced to everybody in the family, etc!!!  I would leave before the function ended – I think Heather might have liked me to have stayed on a bit longer today, but decided I’d prefer to be on the way and back in Sunbury by early evening. In fact, I’d planned a quick visit to the Art Gallery initially, but decided to keep going at that stage – my only stop being the usual one at the coffee lounge in Melton, for an iced coffee.

With another dental appointment tomorrow, I expected to be on edge tonight, but instead was relatively relaxed about that forthcoming visit! Perhaps the fact that Carlton’s first official 2012 AFL season game for the year was on the TV assisted in that process.  It was an ‘Away’ game at the MCG, so my Member’s ticket, only for ‘Home’ games, was not applicable [bit of a relief, as it would have been too much of a rush to get to the game after returning from Ballarat]. Susan was home tonight, although virtually hibernated in her room all night – some company watching the game would have been good – so I just had my own company to cheer and/or curse s the game progressed. It was the now regular first round clash between Carlton and the Richmond Tigers – they have not beaten us in the past 8 clashes, but I genuinely expected that to change tonight,

Thankfully, that wasn’t to be. Richmond got away to a good start, and were just in front at quarter time. He Blues burst away in the 2nd quarter, and looked as though they were going to romp away with the match early in the second half. But an exciting [and nerve wracking] fight-back by the Tigers late in the 3rd quarter and early in the last, saw the opposition get to within a goal of the Blues. But, as the Carlton web site would cheerfully proclaim afterwards – ‘Blues start the year in style with a final quarter onslaught’.  Quarter by quarter scores [in front of a crowd of 78,285 at the MCG, the 4th largest attendance for a Round 1 game] were as follows.

Carlton Blues:              3.2.20      8.7.55       11.13.79                    FINAL:    18.17.125

Richmond Tigers:        3.4.22      5.6.36        10.7.67                     Final:        12.9.81

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