Showing posts with label Bayly Family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bayly Family. Show all posts

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Petula Clark: Still Colouring Our World

I mentioned a while back that my parents were planning to see Petula Clark in concert in Port Macquarie, Australia. I would have loved to have joined them as I've long been an admirer of Clark's music. How long? Well, since I was in fifth grade, which was when I asked my parents for the "Best of Petula Clark" album that was being advertised on TV. That was in 1976!

Anyway, I couldn't attend the May 7 concert with my parents as I had to return to the U.S. on April 18. They did attend it however, and thoroughly enjoyed it. My mum has written a review, which I share after the following video clip which shows Petula performing her hit "Colour My World" on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1967.

As one commentator on YouTube notes about this performance:

Elements of psychedelia hit middle America with shots of moving colored liquids. Yet the bulk of the number pays tribute to the then-trendy cliches of 'Swinging London': Bobbies, mod chicks in mod clothes on Carnaby Street, and the Palace Guards. Overall, extremely '60s!


. . . Just as long as I know you're thinking of me,
there'll be a rainbow always up above me.
Since I found the one who really loves me,
everything I touch is turning to gold.

So you can colour my world with sunshine yellow each day.
Oh, you can colour my world with happiness all the way.
Just take the green from the grass
and the blue from the sky up above.
And if you colour my world,
just paint it with your love.
Just colour my world.

Well, Petula Clark at age 80 is still colouring our world with the lovely gift of her music and, as a result, still bringing happiness and inspiration to many.

Here's my mum's thoughts on the "fabulous" Petula Clark performance that she and dad experienced in Port Macquarie on the evening of Wednesday, May 7, 2014.

I'm pleased to report on our attendance at the fabulous
Petula Clark performance.

The venue was the controversial Port Macquarie Glasshouse. The construction costs were
astronomical but, on a positive note, we now have a facility which attracts high profile entertainers.

Petula provided something for everyone ... lots of hits from the '60s, new songs from her latest CD, Lost in You (well received!), and selections from movies and stage shows. Also, for two numbers, she accompanied herself on the grand piano! Accomplished pianist!

The years have certainly been kind to her! She was energetic and handled the up-tempo numbers with gusto, and moved with ease and grace on the stage. Her powerful and perfectly pitched voice thrilled all.

Over two hours of entertainment interspersed with humour, combined with interesting and touching anecdotes. No doubt, due to her many years on stage, screen and theatre, those present warmed to her and the result was enthusiastic audience participation.

Her brilliant Musical Director, Grant Sturiale, and the Aussie musicians excelled!

One of the many highlights was her cover of the song "Imagine." She reminded us of John Lennon's special qualities, especially his spirituality.

Throughout the night she was very generous in her praise of other artists. This I admired.

Leaving the stage, she was given a standing ovation ... deafening!

There are many exits from the Glasshouse and unfortunately we may have chosen the wrong one as, on our return home, we read in the concert program that she almost always stays to greet fans afterwards. Oh, no! . . . we may have missed the opportunity to speak with her! Never mind, it was still a night to remember.

If she travels your way, I highly recommend you take the opportunity to enjoy her great concert.

– Margaret Bayly

Above: My parents, Margaret and Gordon Bayly, photographed April 14, 2014,
three week before seeing Petula Clark in concert in Port Macquarie.

Did you know that for her 2013 album Lost in You, Petula re-recorded her 1964 hit "Downtown"? She did this despite the fact that when the idea of recording a new version of what, undoubtedly, is her signature song was first suggested by producer John Owen Williams, she expressed disinterest.

Then, she recalls, "I was played this beautiful [instrumental] track . . . and I said it was lovely, and they told me it was [intended for] 'Downtown.' I got to the microphone and I didn't know how I was going to sing it, and it really feels like a new song."

Reviewing Lost in You for, Philip Matusavage writes of the "Downtown" remake: "Already a song loaded with melancholy, the stately version here acquires new meaning with its weary but amiable delivery summoning forth powerful nostalgia and the sense of someone fondly remembering their youth."

Steven Rosen says of the new version of "Downtown," "It is now a ballad, [with Clark's] voice sometimes narrating the words as much as singing them. At the chorus, where the original song had her voice rise on "down" – connoting excitement – this time she straddles turning "down" into a minor-key note. The result is to make the song elegiac, a salutary tribute to a friend (the original version) from long ago."

For more of Petula Clark at The Wild Reed, see:
Pet Sounds
Well, Look Who's Coming to Port Macquarie . . .

Recommended Off-site Links:
As She Releases Her New Album, Petula Clark, 80, Recalls the Love Affairs, the Loneliness and the One Lasting Regret of Her Lifetime of Fame – David Wigg (Daily Mail, February 1, 2013).
'60s Legend Petula Clark on Coppola, Chaplin, And "Downtown" – Michael Musto (The Village Voice, April 16, 2013).
Petula Clark: "John Lennon Gave Me Some Advice That I Can't Repeat' – Michael Cragg (The Guardian, February 20, 2013).
Petula Clark: "I've Had a Strange Life" – Neil McCormick (The Telegraph, February 13, 2013).
Petula Clark, 80, Experiments with AutoTune, Evokes Lana Del Rey in Pop Comeback – Andrew Hampp (Billboard, April 16, 2013).
Petula Clark: After Decades, Miss 'Downtown' Hits Midtown in Cabaret – NPR (January 20, 2012).
Petula Clark's Official Website

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A Visit to Melbourne

One of the many highlights of my recent time in Australia was a visit to Melbourne, home to my older brother Chris, my sister-in-law Cathie, and my four nephews.

Right: With Chris and Cathie – Tuesday, April 8, 2014.

I hadn't seen any of the members of my brother's family since January 2011, so it was great to spend time with them during the five days I was in Melbourne earlier this month. The only disappointment was that I didn't catch up with my nephew Liam, who is currently in Western Australia. But since he's there living his dream of being a commercial pilot, it was a disappointment I can live with!

About the city of Melbourne, Wikipedia notes:

Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia (4.35 million) after Sydney (4.76 million). It is located on the large natural bay of Port Phillip, with its City Centre situated at the northernmost point of the bay – near to the estuary of the Yarra River. The metropolitan area extends south from the City Centre, along the eastern and western shorelines of Port Phillip, and expands into the hinterlands – toward the Dandenong and Macedon mountain ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. The City Centre is located in the municipality known as the City of Melbourne, and the metropolis consists of a further 30 municipalities.

Above: My eldest nephew and godson Ryan and his wife Farah. Ryan celebrated his 24th birthday when I was in Melbourne.

Above: My nephews Brendan and Mitchell at Melbourne's Southern Cross Station.

Above: That's Merle, my sister-in-law Cathie's mum, center right. Cathie's next to her while at left are two of Merle's other adult children, Dick and Trish. Also pictured are Ryan, Farah, Mitch and Brendan, and, at right, Mitch's girlfriend Charmaine.

Above: Cathie with the family's two dogs Foxy and Poppy.

Left: With Foxy and Poppy.

Above: Monash Gallery of Art (MGA), the "home of Australian photography" – Tuesday, April 8, 2014.

When Cathie, Mitch and Brendan & I visited the gallery, its featured exhibition was The Rennie Ellis Show.

Notes the MGA's website:

The photographer Rennie Ellis (1940–2003) was a key figure in Australian visual culture. Ellis is best remembered for his effervescent observations of Australian life during the 1970s–90s, including his now iconic book Life is a Beach. Although invariably inflected with his own personality and wit, the thousands of social documentary photographs taken by Ellis during this period now form an important historical record.

The Rennie Ellis Show highlights some of the defining images of Australian life from the 1970S and ‘80S. This is the period of Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser, Paul Keating and Bob Hawke; AC/DC and punk rock; cheap petrol and coconut oil; Hare Krishnas and hookers and Deviant Balls.

This exhibition of 100 photographs provides a personal account of what Ellis termed ‘a great period of change’.

Above: The distinctive and beautiful bark of a red ironbark.

Above: The night skyline of the City of Melbourne – April 8, 2014.

Above and left: On the evening of Tuesday, April 8, Chris & Cathie and I attended a wonderful show called Empire on the rooftop of the Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex.

The show's promoters describe Empire as "smashing through the borders of comedy, circus, vaudeville and burlesque," and as presenting "the sexiest, most daring artists from across the globe."

And, yes, that pretty much sums it up!

Above and right: I'd have to say that my favorite act in Empire was the balancing artist, Memet Bilgin. And, no, it wasn't just because the guy is so incredibly hot! (Although that probably did factor in somewhere.) But seriously, Memet's balancing skills are simply amazing.

He started by balancing a single feather on a stick, and then just kept adding larger and larger sticks – all balanced one upon another! It was quite something to behold.

Above: Cathie and Chris at the Empire show! Thanks, guys, for a great night out!

Above and below: Rainy Melbourne – Wednesday, April 9, 2014.

Here's part of what Wikipedia says about the history of Melbourne:

Before the arrival of European settlers, the area was occupied for an estimated 31,000 to 40,000 years by under 20,000 hunter-gatherers from three indigenous regional tribes: the Wurundjeri, Boonwurrung and Wathaurong. The area was an important meeting place for the clans of the Kulin nation alliance and a vital source of food and water.

The first European settlement in Victoria was established by Colonel David Collins in October 1803, at Sullivan Bay, near present-day Sorrento, but this settlement was relocated to what is now Hobart, Tasmania in February 1804, due to a perceived lack of resources. It would be 30 years before another settlement was attempted.

In May and June 1835, the area which is now central and northern Melbourne was explored by John Batman, a leading member of the Port Phillip Association in Van Diemen's Land (now called Tasmania), who negotiated a purchase of 600,000 acres (2,400 km2) with eight Wurundjeri elders. The agreement, now called Batman's Treaty, was also known as the Dutigulla Treaty, Dutigulla Deed, Melbourne Treaty or Melbourne Deed. Batman selected a site on the northern bank of the Yarra River, declaring that "this will be the place for a village". Batman then returned to Launceston in Tasmania. In early August 1835 a different group of settlers, including John Pascoe Fawkner, left Launceston on the ship Enterprize. Fawkner was forced to disembark at Georgetown, Tasmania because of outstanding debts. The remainder of the party continued and arrived at the mouth of the Yarra River on 15 August 1835. On 30 August 1835 the party disembarked and established a settlement at the site of the current Melbourne Immigration Museum. John Batman and his group arrived on 2 September 1835 and the two groups ultimately agreed to share the settlement.

Batman's Treaty with the Aborigines was annulled by the New South Wales government (which at the time governed all of eastern mainland Australia), which compensated the association. In 1836, Governor Richard Bourke declared the city the administrative capital of the Port Phillip District of New South Wales, and commissioned the first plan for the city, the Hoddle Grid, in 1837. Later that year the settlement was named "Melbourne" after the British Prime Minister, William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, whose seat was Melbourne Hall in the market town of Melbourne, Derbyshire. On 13 April 1837, the settlement's general post office was officially opened with that name.

Above: A glimpse of Melbourne in the 1800s: Tom Robert's "Allegro con brio: Bourke Street west" (1886).

Left: Growing up in Australia in the 1970s, one of the most popular shows on television was The Sullivans. I mention this as the show was set in Melbourne during World War II. As Wikipedia notes:

The Sullivans is an Australian drama television series produced by Crawford Productions which ran on the Nine Network from 15 November 1976 until 10 March 1983. The series told the story of an average middle-class Melbourne family and the effect World War II had on their lives. It was a consistent ratings success in Australia, and also became popular in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Netherlands, Gibraltar and New Zealand.

Above left: The cast of The Sullivans. From left: Susan Hannaford (Kitty Sullivan), Paul Cronin (Dave Sullivan), Lorraine Bayly (Grace Sullivan), Richard Morgan (Terry Sullivan), Andrew McFarlane (John Sullivan), and Steven Tandy (Tom Sullivan).

. . . The story began in 1939, with the declaration of war against Germany. From the outset the series focused on the Sullivan family of 7 Gordon Street, Camberwell, Victoria, along with neighbourhood friends, relatives, and associates. The majority of show's storylines related to the war, focusing on either the fighting itself or its effect on the Sullivan family. Scenes of battles in northern Africa, Greece, Crete, the Netherlands, England, New Guinea and Malaya were all filmed in or around Melbourne.

The series was renowned for its high production standards. The programme's researchers went to great lengths to ensure both historical and cultural accuracy. Many scenes were timestamped and the scripts referenced actual military developments and events of the time, such as discussion of specific battles, sporting results and cinematic releases. Authentic 1930s furniture was located and used on sets, while kitchen pantries and the corner store were stocked with packaged goods of the era.

To view The Sullivans' iconic opening sequence, click here.

For a seven-minute documentary on the program, click here.

Above: No, not the Sullivans . . . the Baylys! We're pictured just after seeing a show at the Melbourne Comedy Festival on the evening of Wednesday, April 9, 2014.

Above: Some lovely terrace houses in Kew, a suburb of Melbourne.

Above: With my friend Enid at Hellenic Republic in Kew. We figured out we hadn't seen each other in something like 26 years! We went to university together in Armidale, New South Wales, from 1984-1986. Thank goodness for Facebook, which reconnected us online about a year ago. It was great to finally meet face-to-face on Thursday, April 10, 2014.

Right: A portrait I took of Enid in 1986.

Above: We didn't care that it was raining (and had been for days!). On my last night in Melbourne we were getting in that hot tub!

From left: Mitch, me, Cathie and Brendan. My brother Chris took the photo.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Sydney Sojourn
Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast
A Visit to Gunnedah
Weekend in Chicago
Weekend in Kansas City
Road Trip to St. Louis

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Birthday, Dad!

In Australia today my Dad celebrates his 77th birthday. Happy Birthday, Dad!

I've said it before but it's worth saying again: My brothers and I are very fortunate to have Gordon James Bayly as our father. He is a man of integrity, compassion, and selfless service to others. We experienced and witnessed such qualities growing up in Gunnedah, and they are qualities that are still very much part of our father today.

I love you, Dad, and can’t thank you enough for all you continue to be and give to me, my brothers, our family, and so many others whose lives are touched by yours.

For some great photos of Dad through the years, click here and here.

The photos that accompany this post were taken during my recent trip back to Australia (March 20-April 17, 2014). In the opening photo, taken last Monday, April 14, Dad is pictured center with (from left) Mum, my younger brother Tim, me, my niece Sami, and Sami's friend Connor.

Above: Mum and Dad – Monday, April 14, 2014.

Above: Dad on that part of Town Beach where he and I and Mum spent time pretty much every morning during my recent stay with them in Port Macquarie. As you can see, it's a lovely spot!

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Happy Birthday, Dad (2013)
Happy Birthday, Dad (2011)
Happy Birthday, Dad (2010)
Happy Birthday, Dad (2009)
Congratulations, Mum and Dad
Catholic Rainbow (Australian) Parents
A Visit to Gunnedah

Related Off-site Link:
"He Wasn't a Superhero But He Was a Hero"A Prince Named Valiant (February 21, 2011).

Sunday, April 06, 2014

A Visit to Gunnedah

Recently my parents and I travelled from Port Macquarie to our hometown of Gunnedah in northwest New South Wales, Australia. The drive from Port Macquarie inland to Gunnedah is about four-and-a-half hours. It had been three years since I last visited Gunnedah.

In writing about my visit in February 2011 I noted that the town of Gunnedah is located in the Namoi River valley of north-western New South Wales, and serves as the major service centre for the farming area known as the Liverpool Plains.

The town and its surrounding area were originally inhabited by indigenous Australians who spoke the Kamilaroi (Gamilaraay) language. The area now occupied by the town was settled by Europeans in 1833. Through my maternal grandmother’s family, the Millerds, my family can trace its connection to Gunnedah back to the town’s earliest days. For more about the town’s history and my family’s connection to it, see the previous Wild Reed post, My “Bone Country”.

Above: My parents, Gordon and Margaret Bayly, with their long-time friends Malcolm and Rosemary Sinclair – Thursday, March 27, 2014. That's the Gunnedah Town Hall behind them.

Left: Gunnedah Town Hall in 1934 – three years before the addition of the building’s clock tower. For more about the history of this landmark building, click here.

My parents and I travelled to Gunnedah to attend the funeral of Keith Moore, a good friend of my parents. In the photograph above my parents are pictured with Keith and his wife Judy at the 1962 Catholic Ball in Gunnedah.

Right: Dad and Keith at Moonbi Lookout, just north of Tamworth, New South Wales. I believe this photo was taken in January of 1985.

Above: My younger brother, Tim; me; Mum; and Judy & Keith Moore at the Moonbi Lookout – January, 1985.

Above and below: Dad and I at Gunnedah's Porcupine Lookout – Wednesday, March 26, 2014. That's the Breeza Plain pictured behind Dad. As I note elsewhere at The Wild Reed, part of the 2006 film Superman Returns was filmed on the plains near the village of Breeza, 25 miles south of Gunnedah.

It rained for most of our time in Gunnedah . . . which was a very good thing as the area desperately needed rain. Noted the March 25, 2014 issue of the Namoi Valley Independent:

It's been the most promising fall of rain the district has seen since the drought first took hold, and there is more on the way according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Gunnedah shire farmers awoke to the precious sound of soaking rain yesterday morning, with impressive falls of up to 60mm recorded in Mullaley.

Until 9am yesterday morning, Mullaley's official tally was 42mm, Gunnedah and Boggabri each received 29mm, Tambar Springs 20mm, Blackville 17mm, Breeza 25mm and Bundella and Caroona recorded 16mm.

The rain has been triggered by an inland surface trough and an upper level low which has resulted in a combination of humidity and cold air. The widespread downpour began late Sunday afternoon and continued into Monday morning. More rain is expected up until Friday, with the bureau predicting between 8-25mm for Gunnedah shire on Tuesday, between 3-9mm on Wednesday and 2-15mm on Thursday. The rain will ease by the weekend, with only possible showers forecast for Saturday and Sunday.

It's been a much-awaited welcome relief for farmers who have been battling one of the worst droughts in decades.

Above: Mum and Dad with our good friends Peter and Delores Worthington – Tuesday, March 25, 2014.

Left: Dad partnered Delores when she made her debut in 1954.

Above: For 40+ years it was a tradition for our family to visit the Worthingtons on Christmas Day morning. This picture was taken in 1985 and shows my parents with members of the Worthington family. From left: Louise, Peter, Andrew, Delores, Dad, Mark, Alison, Mum, and Jane. Absent from this photo are my two brothers and I and Sally Worthington.

Right: Long-time friends John and Heather Sills, with whom my parents and I had dinner the first night we were in Gunnedah.

Growing up in Gunnedah, my family lived next door to John and Heather and their three children – Jenny, Troy, and Jillian – who were the same age as my brothers and I. And, yes, as with the Worthingtons, a Christmas Day visit to the Sills' was also a long-standing tradition. We'd go over just after opening our presents!

Above: Dad (center) with his good friends Don Bruce (my Mum's cousin) and John Sills. Because of their close friendship (and no doubt their fresh-faced looks), an older friend, Mavis Grace, used to refer to the three young men as Huey, Dewey and Louie!

Above: A 1982 photo showing (from left) Heather, Mum, Jillian, my younger brother Tim, Jenny, and John.

Above: Mum with Heather Sills and my paternal grandmother, Belle Smith, in 1981. Don't you just love our family's funky '70s-style stereo?

Above: Mum and Dad with John and Heather Sills at my brother Tim and sister-in-law Ros' 1990 wedding in Wagga Wagga.

Above: With Aunty Ruth, my Mum's younger sister, and good friend and "girl-next-door" when growing up, Jillian (John and Heather Sills' youngest daughter) – Wednesday, March 26, 2014.

Left: Aunty Ruth, looking very glamorous in the 1960s. Ruth graduated from the Royal Women's Hospital in Paddington, Sydney, in 1968.

Above: Ruth in the early 1970s with her daughter Emily.

Above: Ruth in 2000 with her husband Rex and their children Emily and Greg. Uncle Rex died in 2006.

Above: With Abby and Noah, my cousin Greg's girlfriend's children. Abby is dressed as the White Witch from C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for a school pageant.

Right: My maternal grandmother's dove. Nanna Sparkes died in 1997, and this dove must be close to 20 years old. I'm glad it's still with us, as it's a lovely reminder of Nanna.

Above: Nanna Sparkes dancing up a storm at my older brother Chris' and sister-in-law Cathie's 1988 wedding in Melbourne. That's Nanna's youngest daughter Ruth behind her, and granddaughter Emily at right. At left is family friend Wendy Tunbridge.

Above: My maternal grandparents, Olive and Valentine Sparkes at my parents' 1959 wedding in Gunnedah.

Above: Having breakfast at Gunnedah's Bitter Suite Cafe and Wine Bar – Wednesday, March 26, 2014.

Above: Gunnedah's main thoroughfare, Conadilly Street – Tuesday, March 25, 2014.

Pictured above with my childhood friend and neighbour Jillian at the Gunnedah Services and Bowling Club on the evening of Wednesday, March 26, 2014, and below 26 years earlier in 1988.

Above: Mum with family friends Gary and Wendy Tunbridge – Wednesday, March 26, 2014.

Left: Gary and Wendy on their wedding day in the early 1970s.

Above: For many years Wendy worked as a secretary at my Dad's farm supply and grain cartage business in Gunnedah. I'm pictured with her in 1983, which was my last year of high school.

Above: Dad with Wendy and Wendy's mother Gwen Riordan – Wednesday, March 26, 2014.

As I note in a previous post, during my childhood my family and I would often spend time on the Kelvin property of Gwen and her husband Ray, about 20 kilometres outside of Gunnedah. With Gwen, her sister Barbara, and one or more of Gwen and Ray's adult daughters and their families we'd hike through the Kelvin Hills. Those adventures in the Australian bush remain very special to me.

Above: With my childhood and neighbourhood friends Dianne and Louise.

Right: Louise and her brother Gary with their mother Daphne. The photo was taken on Gary's first day of school, circa 1970.

Above: That's me next to our family's dog Deano. Behind me (from right) is Dianne, her brother David, and my younger brother Tim. We'd all been out with Dad collecting sandstone rocks for Mum's garden. I'm thinking this photo was probably taken in 1979.

Left: With Aunty Fay, my Mum's older half-sister – Wednesday, March 26, 2014.

Above: My maternal grandmother, Olive Sparkes, with two of her four daughters, Fay and Ruth, and Ruth's daughter, Emily – 1990.

Above: My maternal grandparents, Olive and Valentine Sparkes, with their four adult children, front row from right, Fay, Margaret, Ruth, and Michael; and their two son-in-laws at that time, back row, Bertie Wicks and my Dad, Gordon Bayly. This photo was taken in 1962 at the wedding of my Mum's cousin, Helen Millerd.

A number of the photos in this post were taken on March 26, 2014 at a dinner my parents and I shared with family and friends at the Gunnedah Services and Bowling Club. My paternal grandmother, Belle Smith (pictured above, second from left) worked for many years at this establishment as Catering Manager. At that time it was known as the Servicemen's Club. This picture of Nanna and her colleagues (including, at left, her good friend Dawn Weakley) was taken sometime in the 1970s.

Above: A photo from the mid-1970s showing my older brother Chris with Emily "Gran" Simmons (1892–1982). Gran was mother to Nanna Smith, grandmother to my Dad, and great-grandmother to my brothers and I.

Above: With Mum and Nanna Smith on Christmas Day, 1991.

I can't say I miss that hair, but I definitely miss that shirt!

Above: Blackjack Mountain, just outside of Gunnedah – Wednesday, March 26, 2014.

Notes Ron McLean in The Way We Were: Sesquicentenary of Gunnedah, 1856-2006:

Coal has been an integral part of the fabric of life in Gunnedah for 125 years. The first mine was a crude pit on the slopes of Blackjack Mountain with the coal hauled by dray to the railhead in the 1880s.

Coal mining has always been a tough industry with more than its fair share of tragedy. For so long, Gunnedah's miners laboured stoically, in terrible conditions, cramped and stifling, working with crude equipment. Working in pairs, they cut coal by hand, filling one-ton skips drawn to the surface by patient pit ponies. . . . They worked eight-hour shifts five days a week and six hours every alternate Saturday.

there were years of high production when Gunnedah coal was keenly sought by buyers, domestically and, later, overseas. But there were also times of despair, when the mines went into mothballs and men were cavilled out, many unable to find employment and having to ride out the tough times until the mines started up again.

And there was another recurring feature of mining -- the fatalities. Twenty men aged between 21 and 54 have lost their lives in mining-related accidents in the Gunnedah area, the first way back in 1897, the last in 1986.

As I note in a previous post about Gunnedah, my maternal grandmother’s first husband, Jack Louis, was killed in an accident in a mine workshop in nearby Werris Creek. The eldest of their two children, Eric (my Mum’s half-brother), collided with a coal truck as he rode his motor cycle to his job at the Gunnedah Mine on a very dusty road. He was only in his early twenties at the time of his tragic death. Both father and son are honoured on Gunnedah's Miners’ Memorial.

Above: A photograph taken at Blackjack Colliery in April 1917.

Above: A store front in the main street of Gunnedah that aims to disseminate information about the downside of coal seam gas.

A February 21, 2013 Namoi Valley Independent article notes the following about the issue and the opening of the storefront:

A group of local farmers are determined to tell their side of the story when it comes to concerns over coal seam gas (CSG) – and they’re doing it next door to energy giant Santos’ Gunnedah office.

The group has taken a lease on a Conadilly Street property to inform the community about what they believe are potential threats to the future of agriculture in the shire.

The idea came following “frustration” over Santos’ ongoing advertising campaign spruiking the benefits of CSG in rural communities.

The aim of the main street property is to offer people an opportunity to find out more about CSG, and provide information about the extent of development in Queensland, results of scientific research, quotes from various professors and environmentalists, concerns about impacts on water and various media clippings.

“We’ve got a whole country at risk,” said Willala farmer Alistair Donaldson.

“The (Santos) ads don’t show the full picture.

“Gunnedah needs underground water and too much evidence shows it will be affected to some degree.”

Farmers fear that NSW will follow in the footsteps of Queensland where there is mass CSG development and infrastructure.

In Queensland alone up to 40,000 wells are expected to be drilled by 2030, leaving landholders fearing for their livelihoods and our nation’s food bowl.

“Santos advertisements aim to create a perception in people’s mind that this is a safe industry, that there will be plenty of jobs and that the process of recovering CSG from coal seams will not pose any threat to underground water,” Mullaley farmer Robyn King said.

Ms King also questioned the direct benefits to local communities.

“If we need the energy, why are we exporting it?”

Santos has always maintained it is confident that responsible CSG development and production provides a safe, clean solution for the state’s energy needs and one that can be delivered in a timely fashion.

Mr Donaldson and Mrs King thanked the Vernados family for their generosity when it came to leasing the main street premises.

They also believe the local campaign against CSG is gaining momentum.

It follows a recent survey carried out by Mullaley farmers where 98.5 per cent of 297 people in the shire supported a no-go CSG zone in the area.

Above: The Kelvin Hills, shrouded in rain.
For a view of them on a clear day, click here.

Two Gunnedah portraits of me . . . At left at age five . . .

. . . and at right in 2014, just a couple of years away from turning 50!

Above and below: Returning from Gunnedah to Port Macquarie on Thursday, March 27, Mum & Dad and I stopped in Tamworth to visit my cousin Emily. She and her husband Matt have just had their first child, Lewis Rex.

Above: Little Lewis Rex!

Left: With Emily and Matt's dog.

Above: Mum and Dad – Thursday, March 27, 2014.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Journey to Gunnedah (2011)
This Corner of the Earth (2010)
An Afternoon at the Gunnedah Convent of Mercy (2010)
My "Bone Country" (2009)
The White Rooster
Remembering Nanna Smith
One of These Boys is Not Like the Others
Gunnedah (Part 1)
Gunnedah (Part 2)
Gunnedah (Part 3)
Gunnedah (Part 4)