Looking back: Nov-Dec 2015

Had a new food experience…

Eating camel in Wollongong

Posted on November 29, 2015 by Neil

Yes, Chris T and I did try Casablanca on Crown yesterday: see Terror: some good media items, and eating in The Gong. Quoting again the Illawarra Mercury story in that post:

Central to the menu are Moroccan tagines – slow-cooked meats nestled amongst aromatic prunes, orange blossom, chamoula and the bittersweet preserved lemon that is Morocco’s food mainstay.

Cooked and served in the iconic cone-shaped clay dishes of the same name – perhaps with a pot of steaming sweet mint tea – the scene is deliberately different.

“We have many burger places in Wollongong, we have Lebanese and Turkish,” Mr Osaj, 28, told the Mercury.

“But we don’t have Moroccan. I’ve been in Australia for five years and I really do appreciate Australia.

“I wanted to do something [in return] for the people of Wollongong.”

Mr Osaj was an electrician in Iraq before he fled the war there and – after a four-month stay at Villawood –settled in Wollongong.

I tried the camel meatballs. Yes, really camel…

Put aside your mental image of a horrid, spitting beast–camel makes for a wonderful meal. The meat tastes a bit like strong-flavoured lamb, only with a unique, sweet aftertaste that makes pairing camel with sauce a challenge. This mint/yoghurt dipping sauce is the perfect partner for these meatballs, which are sure to be a hit with adventurous guests at your next party.

Made me think of lamb too. In fact of you weren’t told they were camel you mightn’t have known. Mine came with a fresh tomato-based sauce. Not quite as exotic as this from Dubai:


Terror: some good media items, and eating in The Gong

Posted on November 22, 2015 by Neil

Chris T and I ate again at Fuku yesterday; last week we were at Shiraz with Persian D. Next week? Well, this…


Looks good, doesn’t it? That’s the new place, Casablanca, just down from Fuku on Crown Street…

And then there was this….

Best smile and wild weather

Posted on November 2, 2015 by Neil

I have to join in posting the viral smile of the past weekend. Who could resist that smile?



Just in case you have slept through the last three days, or avoid any reference to the Rugby World Cup, the story (ABC version) is:

All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams was presented a new World Cup winners’ medal to replace the one he handed to a young spectator after Sunday’s (AEDT) victory over Australia in the final…

In an act of kindness Williams gave his medal to a young supporter, Charlie Lines, who was tackled by a security guard when he ran onto the field while the All Blacks completed a victory lap…

I brought the random Friday memory series to an end…

Random Friday memory 35 – 1975 of course, plus…

Posted on November 6, 2015 by Neil

Any of us who were around forty years ago will know what this coming week is: the fortieth anniversary of the Dismissal. It is also one year today since Gough’s State Funeral: Gough Whitlam memorial service – in and out of Diggers. On the Dismissal I have posted, among others, Gough – a view from Wollongong.

Last night I posted on Facebook: “The entire Whitlam period coincided pretty much with my working at TIGS, with the denouement happening in my first year at Wollongong High. It’s like part of my own life has died today in a way…”  Also: “Great to see all Parliament rising to the occasion today in the Condolence Debate.”

Someone I taught at TIGS 1971-1974 posted: “It has just occurred to me that myself, [x] and many others like us would have accepted our scholarship and been teachers because our parents could not have afforded to pay Uni fees. I believe I owe my professional career for what it is worth to EGW.” He added: “And it has just occurred to me Neil James Whitfield, that I was sitting my HSC English exam when Gough was dismissed. I recall a teacher walked into the room and wrote this on the blackboard. He then turned and walked out. I recall looking up and thinking “what’s going to happen now”…”

I by then was at Wollongong High. I had forgotten that November 11 coincided with HSC English, but I do recall the shock of the Dismissal. There were significant Wollongong connections too. I see this in Whitlam’s first post-Dismissal press conference:…

See also 35 random memories recalled! and Friday reflective 1: heat and memories which includes memories of a former colleague, Ken Palmer.

Remembrance Day 2015 in Wollongong

Posted on November 12, 2015 by Neil

I went along to the ceremony this year. My photos are not great as my camera is small, the light could have been better, and I was standing back keeping a low profile. The Illawarra Mercury has some much better shots and a report.

Nearby, Paul Cracknell was wearing the naval medals won by his father, who ran away age 15 to World War I, then came out of the reserves when it was time to go one more in 1939.

Ray Reay and Alf Green were National Servicemen mid-last century, and they are still involved with their comrades though the “Nashos” association.

And they joined a diverse crowd in true Wollongong style – from school students to members of the armed forces, police and ambulance officers, tattooed twentysomethings and workers in their high-vis.

Somehow, as Ted Millner lifted his bugle for a stunning rendition of the Last Post, every car in the city centre seemed to suddenly go quiet.



But of course it was Paris that dominated November 2015.

Keep calm and…

Posted on November 16, 2015 by Neil

You know the rest of that I am sure.


I commend Jim Belshaw’s Saturday post and its thread:

Winton Bates said…

Hi Jim
I applaud your efforts to try to keep current terrorism in perspective. My Facebook feed is showing stuff I am not seeing in the TV news of xenophobic demonstrations by French people. There is a risk that reactions will further disadvantage refugees fleeing the war in Syria.

As sadly is clearly happening.  Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and others have rightly said:

Malcolm Turnbull has downplayed the links between refugees and terrorism, saying that most of Australia’s security threats have come from second and third generation Australians….

Greg Barton, Professor of Global Islamic Politics at the Alfred Deakin Institute, said Australia’s situation was very different to the one in Europe.

“We’ve got the luxury of properly, carefully vetting [the Syrian refugees’] IDs and their stories, carrying out background checks before they are accepted and doing things in an orderly fashion,” he told ABC News Digital.

“European authorities are facing a wave of humanity — they don’t have the luxury to do those things.

“Whilst, realistically, it would be foolish to acknowledge that there are no threats, it is also a risk to allow paranoia and anxiety to take hold at a large scale.”

Mr Turnbull also echoed Indonesian president Joko Widodo, who earlier said Islamic State militants committed a “double crime” by defaming Islam…

See also my June 2015 post Contributions to a wiser, cooler look at IS and terror, my March 2015 post Some reflections on the late teen suicide bomber, and my October 2015 posts Class of 95 remembered, and Muslim students today and Adults in charge now?

17 November

Particularly note: Waleed Aly hits out at ISIS over Paris attacks, calls them weak.

WALEED Aly has unleashed on Australia’s politicians and Muslim leaders who have preached “hate” in the wake of the Paris attacks saying their actions actually help Islamic State rather than defeat them.

The Project co-host used his regular ‘Something we should talk about’ segment to not only call for solidarity following the atrocity, which left 132 people dead and hundreds more injured, but to highlight what he says is the truth about the militant organisation — that they’re weak.

“There is a reason ISIL still want to appear so powerful, why they don’t want to acknowledge that the land they control has been taken from weak enemies, that they are pinned down by air strikes or that just last weekend they lost a significant part of their territory,” he said on The Project.

“ISIL don’t want you to know they would quickly be crushed if they ever faced a proper Army on a battlefield.

“They want you to fear them. They want you to get angry. They want all of us to become hostile and here is why:

“ISIL’s strategy is to split the world into two camps. It is that black and white. Again we know this because they told us.”

Aly said ISIL wanted to create World War III, and for societies around the world to turn on each other, and for countries like Australia to vilify Muslims.

He said this “evil organisation” believes if they can make Muslims the enemy of the West, then Muslims in France and England and America and here in Australia will have nowhere to turn but to ISIL…

It is also worth checking last night’s #QandA. Many good things were said, not least by Christopher Pyne.

See also Black Friday 2015.

And from earlier this month by way of contrast:

Wollongong looking festive

Posted on December 1, 2015 by Neil

But a touch quiet last Monday. There will be a short hiatus here too as I have used up my internet quota until Friday.