Revisiting January 2016

Another year older and deeper in debt… Who else remembers Tennessee Ernie Ford’s song?

Some people say a man is made outta mud
A poor man’s made outta muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that’s a-weak and a back that’s strong

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store…

Back to January this year. A few highlights. Do visit the posts from which they are extracted.

Wollongong Library does it again

Posted on January 3, 2016 by Neil

A very interesting crime/thriller from Hong Kong to read, and two great dvds to view.


Duncan Jepson “was the editor of the Asia-based culture and fashion magazine WestEast and one of the founders and managing editors of the Asia Literary Review. He is a social commentator on Asia and writes for The New York Times, The Daily Telegraph, Publishing Perspectives, South China Morning Post and Hong Kong Tatler. A lawyer by profession, he lives in Hong Kong.”  I find the concept of  Emperors Once More, set in near-future Hong Kong, quite fascinating. See this review:

All the pivotal characters in Duncan Jepson’s new Hong Kong crime novel—including its cosmopolitan protagonist—are preoccupied with indignities China has suffered at the hands of foreign powers, from the Opium Wars to a fictional 21st century European debt default.

Emperors Once More is set in near-future Hong Kong, a “formerly fragrant harbour” in decline after its “zenith in early 2013”. The main action occupies the two days leading up to an 18 August 2017 crisis meeting between G8 nations—that is, the West—and so-called “Outreach Five” nations, the most powerful of which is China.

Europe has just defaulted on the debt it owed China, and someone, or some group, is determined to make the continent and all Western powers pay for the debt and every other perceived shame that has been inflicted on China.

The methods of extracting that payment are extremely bizarre, misguided and grisly…

A really good Australian movie next: “You’ve got to give full marks for the look of the film. It looks absolutely great.” – David Stratton.


See the movie web site and the SBS review….

Recent events give even more resonance to Jepson’s novel.

Well yesterday was a sizzler!

Posted on January 15, 2016 by Neil

The thermometer on the church notice board opposite registered 40C around 1pm. Then an hour or two later came the storm.


How inspiring! Deng Thiak Adut’s Australia Day address

Posted on January 22, 2016 by Neil


Photo Sydney Morning Herald

I watched the whole thing live on ABC News 24 and wouldn’t have missed it for the world…

Eating Oz-style in Wollongong in 2016

Posted on January 24, 2016 by Neil

At our best we have kept in mind our national anthem, as Deng Thiak Adut reminded us recently.

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross,
We’ll toil with hearts and hands,
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands,
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share,
With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia fair.

Thanks to the diversity that is Australia – specifically Wollongong – in 2016 we can see, hear and taste so many different things every day. Taste especially, as I and friends – Chris T in particular – do regularly. Yesterday’s Saturday lunch was Chris’s first at Ziggy’s House of Nomms. You may recall my post last month: Ziggy’s House of Nomms.

I road-tested Ziggy’s on Christmas Eve and I shall no doubt return. The variety of tea is amazing: I selected Dragon Well 龙井茶. Mind you, I suspect they don’t have Jin Jun Mei: see Wollongong to Surry Hills, Shanghai and tea and Bargain eats in The Gong, and that tea from China…. I’ll ask them one day. The dumplings were very good but I ordered too many. Doggy-bagged some home for laters.

I went a bit early to speak to Kevin and Steen, following Kevin’s comment on that post. I also took some Jin Jun Mei to share. Mind you the tea situation at Ziggy’s is even better than last time. The tea menu is now highly informative and beautifully presented. Chris T tried a green tea called Silver Needles; there is also the white tea version — 白毫银针. Very good.

And the dumplings, the dumplings! This from the Ziggy’s Facebook page says it all.


Nomm nomm!

Next week Chris T and I will return to another Wollongong treasure: Fuku on Crown. See also here, and my posts. Here’s a dish we’ve yet to try: Peking Style Braised Lamb:


There are so many Japanese and Chinese dishes at Fuku, and the prices are most economical. You can get a decent feed for $10!


And speaking of lamb – as we should around Australia Day!


That is the most delicious lamb shank you will ever taste! Truly! It comes from Shiraz Persian Restaurant in Wollongong, Wonderful food. delightful people. See Facebook and my posts, particularly  Reclaiming Australia Persian-style in Wollongong. Yes, it is halal. No, that’s not a problem. The “patriots” don’t know what they’re missing.

For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share,
With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia fair.


Alas, Shiraz is now a memory only…

My Syrian neighbour

Posted on January 25, 2016 by Neil

Her room is just three up from mine. She has been here for about a year but we hardly spoke until recently, when she wished me a Merry Christmas:

My Muslim neighbour kindly wished me “Merry Christmas” last week, not inappropriately given my “real” Christmas was in Surry Hills last Friday. This morning the lovely folk at the Yum Yum Cafe gave me this. So Christmas, eh! And not too hot here in The Gong this year…

We spoke again at some length a few days ago. It turns out she is from Syria and spoke no English when she arrived in Australia less than two years ago. This is not my neighbour, but she is from Wollongong too:


She is younger than my neighbour but they do have much in common. Her story was in the Illawarra Mercury last November….

Australia Day at Mount Kembla

Posted on January 27, 2016 by Neil

About Mount Kembla see Wollongong City Library:

Kembla is an aboriginal word meaning “wild game abundant” or “plenty of game”. The aborigines called the area “jum-bullah” or “Djembla” which means a wallaby. Mount Kembla has been described as a “sub-tropical belt of rainforest ” which “housed a variety of game life which provided an abundant food supply”. The first grant in the Parish of Kembla was made to George Molle in 1817. It was for 300 acres. In 1818 W. F. Weston received a promise of 500 acres. Both these grants were on the northern side of Mullet Creek. In 1843 four grants were obtained by Henry Gordon which had frontages to American Creek. Another grant on American Creek, 24 acres, was issued to Patrick Lehaey. A settlement developed in this locality and in March 1859 a National School was completed here.

First record of the name Mount Kembla appeared on H.F. White’s map of the Illawarra in 1834…

I was there yesterday with Jim and Helen (nee Christison) Langridge – Helen is my cousin – and a delightful lady born in France whose childhood around Brittany in the latter years of World War 2 was to say the least eventful. There was much reminiscing about schools and family.

Now of course I took pictures of my grandfather Tom Whitfield as a child in the 1860s and as an old man in the late 1940s. Why? Because we were lunching in the Mount Kembla Village Hotel. You may recall this post: Neil’s personal decades: 18 – 1890s – T D Whitfield

… Now remarkably I have found an amazing photo, thanks to the Lost Wollongong Tumblr – which I plan to explore again:


Yes, that is the actual building of the Mount Kembla Hotel! See also tag “Mount Kembla” A note there says “The Mount Kembla Village Hotel is one of the few original timber hotels remaining in the Illawarra today, seen here during construction in 1870.”  I doubt that date; Wollongong Library has: “This two storey building was built in 1887. It is constructed of weatherboard with a corrugated iron roof, and a timber front upstairs verandah. It was a meeting place for the miners of Mount Kembla for many years. In 1924 the Tooth’s company purchased the hotel from its original owner, Mr O’Halloran, the village’s first publican. Over recent years the interior has been extensively refurbished.”


There are peculiarities about the dates for the Mount Kembla Hotel. The pub itself has 1898 on its site and on the building. Yet the University of Wollongong list of local pubs says “Mount Kembla Hotel Cordeaux Rd, Mount Kembla, 1907-Present”. It does seem strange that a pub built, it seems, in 1887 would wait until 1898 or even less likely 1907 to open, though that last date is “years of operation”. Maybe the issue is when it was actually licensed under its present name.

Just as a framework, here are dates from the Wollongong Library page, and a strong clue there:

1865 Pioneer Kerosene Works opened at Mt Kembla

1878 Mount Kembla Coal and Oil Co. established to work coal seams.  E. Vickery principal shareholder

1882 Railway constructed by the Mt Kembla Coal & Oil Co from Mt Kembla Colliery to the Port Kembla jetty

1883 Post Office established at Mt Kembla on 1 October 1883

1883 Mt Kembla Colliery opened

1884 Name of school changed from Violet Hill to Mt Kembla

1887 A second coal mine was opened directly below the summit of Mt Kembla

1887 Mt Kembla signal box was built at Unanderra on the main southern line

1889 Mt Kembla Gun Club established

1894 First Roman Catholic Church at Mt Kembla opened by Dr Higgins, Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney

1896 Workmen’s Club formed at Windy Gully

1896 New two storey school building and teachers residence opened on 18 April

1898 Mt Kembla Hotel receives confirmation of its licence

1899 Mt. Lyell Co. establishes coke ovens alongside Mount Kembla Colliery jetty – operated until 1925

1901 336 men employed at the Mt Kembla mine

1902 Mount Kembla Colliery disaster 31 July 1902.  96 men and boys die