Remembering 31 July 1902 — Mount Kembla

On Facebook I posted in relation to this, the worst industrial disaster in Australian history, and was surprised that one of my Aussie friends had never heard of it before — and he is a real history buff too!

I had posted about it back in 2010 when my friend Sirdan (now in NZ) and I visited the Mount Kembla pub — in the building/repair of which my grandfather Thomas Daniel Sweeney Whitfield had a hand in the late 19th century.

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Sirdan looking at the Kembla Mine memorial

An explosion at 2pm on July 31, 1902, at Mt. Kembla colliery killed 96 men and boys. The sound of the explosion could be heard in Wollongong, some 7 miles away. At the end of the day 33 women were widows and 120 children were fatherless.

The hundreds of rescuers were headed by former Keira Mine manager and ex-mayor of Wollongong, Major Henry MacCabe who had played a vital part in rescue efforts at the Bulli Mine disaster in 1887 which killed 81 miners.

MacCabe and Nightshift Deputy, William McMurray were to lose their own lives during the rescue effort to the effect of “overpowering fumes”, adding 2 more deaths to the 94 miners…

Mount Kembla Coal Mine disaster 1902
Moving tribute through music video/song about the loss of 96 lives at the Mt Kembla Mine disaster in Illawarra Australia. the song reflects the events and photos and video portray the story of that fateful day in 1902 — Jessica Grainger
THEY LEFT IN THE MORNING…Ballad of Mt Kembla Words & Music South Coast Labour Council Secretary Arthur Rorris – Vocals Stuart Alexander
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Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 16 — good Facebook day

I refer there to yesterday, which was quite productive in my Facebook world of real-life friends, relations and ex-students, as well as what in pre-internet days we might have called pen-pals. The next entry of two will catch up on more of that.

But first the good news: my toothache seems to have gone.

And then the bad news: NSW (Greater Sydney in particular) is far from out of the woods when it comes to the Delta strain.

And in The Gong:

Finally, a photo of Sydney in 1901 from the National Library Archives was posted in the Old Sydney Album on Facebook. “George Street, near the corner of Market Street, Sydney 1901. Federation Celebrations.” I gave it a modest colouring:

My note on that:

I remember around 1953-1955 my grandfather Roy Christison telling me about being in the city during these 1901 celebrations, when the country Australia formally came into being. Indeed I think he was in Centennial Park for the great proclamation.

To me then that seemed SO long ago — but now I reflect that 1970 is back in time from now a similar distance — or the election of Gough Whitlam, for example! Yes, I am my own grandpa!

Indeed indeed!

And this was back in 1971 — not that I was in this place, but the vibe I recall from FIFTY years ago. Went to a folk concert at the Jamberoo pub sometime around then though.

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 15 — some follow-ups

And followings, you could say. But this series is looking like it could go on forever here in The Gong, and Greater Sydney of course. And I have had toothache and am contemplating what to do about it, given the circumstances. Meanwhile parts of Sydney are to see the ADF (our military) on the streets, as indeed happened during last year’s lockdown. A rare event in our country — well, since convict days anyway… Oh, and the Eureka Stockade…

The military will join NSW police in the areas worst hit by Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak to ensure two million residents are complying with tough NSW government lockdown restrictions.

But people shouldn’t be intimidated by the presence of 300 Australian Defence Force personnel in the streets of western and southwest Sydney, Defence Minister Peter Dutton says.

“I want it to be a message of reassurance that they are helping NSW Police,” he told Sydney radio 2GB on Friday.

“We can get ourselves through COVID even more quickly if we’ve got the defence force personnel there helping.”

As NSW braces for new case numbers to top Thursday’s high-water mark of 239, police will begin knocking on doors looking for people in homes other than their own in eight local government areas in the west.

Meanwhile, let’s pause for some fun, thanks to two things I have shared lately here and on Facebook. First that amazing Marsh family in England and their COVID lockdown song parodies. This one I just saw for the first time. I love it!

Then there is that pianist, who happens to be younger than my blogging habit — being born in 2001! He is also on Facebook and Instagram of course. Michael Andreas Haeringer was born on September 26, 2001 in Barcelona. From an early age he developed a great in interest in music. So not yet 20. His parents are German originally, and he is indeed descended from the great Franz Liszt.

In June 2014 he won the first prize of the music competition in Braunschweig, Jugendmusiziert Bundeswettbewerb. He also won the special prize; Europa prize!! and the first prize of piano competition of the Conservatory of Barcelona with receiving the honorary prize on June 27. Michael managed to finish the six year Conservatory course in only four years. In 2016 he received the “Young Virtuoso Award” at the Manhattan Music Competition. In 2018 Michael was the finalist of Got Talent Spain, with his own compositions of soundtracks. Michael has won the Silver Medal at the Berliner International Music Competition 2018, being the youngest pianist of this edition “at the Manhattan Music Competition”. In 2018 Michael was the finalist of Got Talent Spain, with his own movie soundtracks. Michael has won the Silver Medal at the Berliner International Music Competition 2018, being the youngest pianist of this edition.

He’s on OK pianist too!

Franz Liszt’s transcription of Saint Saens Dance Macabre.

And here something completely different!

He also posts his own compositions under the name DJ MAH. This one is from January 2021: “I made Not Really Livin ‘ in lockdown. I dedicate my new song to everyone affected by the Coronavirus.”

It would, finally, be remiss of me not to share this one which he posted on Facebook.

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 11 — well, not exactly…

I will get back to the Olympics in time. Great things in swimming for Oz so far.

But about yesterday. There are those who point out, quite rightly, that the mob in Sydney on Saturday was a tiny fraction of the people of Sydney, a few thousand out of FIVE MILLION!

True. And as The Illawarra Mercury said:

At the weekend there were 102,233 heroes.

This was the number of people who turned up for COVID-19 testing on Saturday.

These are the people we should be putting on a pedestal, not the clowns who took it upon themselves to break public health orders on Saturday.

Look back at the previous post though — I stand by what I posted. I would also draw attention to Tikno’s thoughtful comments. Tikno lives in Kalimantan in Indonesia. In comparison, we don’t have much to moan about, eh!

From Indonesia, just looking at recent news stories I encountered an image that will stay with you.

Workers wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) take a break while burying the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) victims in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 23, 2021. Reuters

Here in Wollongong there is thank God nothing to compare with that, as in comparison all we have to complain about is inconvenience, never forgetting that the stakes in reality are those we see in that image!

So to my own immediate issue:

That is of course the Illawarra Leagues Club, my principal club these days, and really the centre of my social life as well as of good cheap meals and free internet! I am after all just a 78-year-old pensioner living alone in lockdown in Wollongong, so I am affected. However, there is still little to moan about. My groceries now are, in the main, ordered online and delivered, contact-free and covid safe. I have thanks to that social security system we must fiercely strive to maintain — watch out for the white ants on that one, you know who they are! — I have enough. My rent and food are well and truly covered, and I am far from alone in that.

But I do miss the club.

Today I am about to live dangerously and catch a bus to Wollongong, as I have to get a prescription filled at the chemist, There and back, masked up of course. I may indeed have the bus all to myself! It happened more than once in the lockdown last year.

Meanwhile, enjoy 1) some fun on the lockdown theme.

2) Beautiful music from a rather beautiful pianist! A recent discovery for me.

Sydney’s shame

Our shame has been broadcast around the world. Here from France is just one instance. Quite a balanced report, actually.

Yes, I can understand there is a diversity of views — which in a democracy of course can be expressed but preferably in measured and responsible ways — and there are those being hurt or at the least inconvenienced by the current lockdown in our part of the world, escape from which has just been made LESS likely by the actions of yesterday’s unlovely, angry and undisciplined mob.

But possibly not unorganised.

There is a world-wide movement out there, and here is one of their posts: Freedom March London: LIVE. Look at the fools behind it! The Great Alien Lizard Dude being one name that struck me immediately, described in the post as a “champion of freedom” no less! What utter hogwash! Champion of insanity more like.

Our South Coast Labour Council Secretary Arthur Rorris has it right when he says on Facebook: They are liberating themselves from their … brains.

On Twitter our increasingly attractive alternative Prime Minister, Anthony Alabanese, posted:

The irresponsible and shocking actions of those who engaged in acts of violence today against police officers doing their job have no place in society and should face the full force of the law – our police deserve respect and have taken risks to keep us safe during COVID-19.

Poet Beth Spencer shared a very apt comment, adding: “So sorry, Sydney. So sorry Australia.”

Among my replies I said: How many on the streets of Sydney today thought of this?

“Doctors were immediately concerned as Logan’s organs started to fail, his skin blistered and he developed heart murmurs…” I was referring to this item: Mother’s warning after dangerous COVID side-effect.

I also said:

Here is one of the geniuses at the Sydney lockdown “protest” — that is, the self-destructive mass hysterical self-centred hissy fit. There are not enough synonyms for “drongo” in Roget to adequately describe them.I fully support concrete and real help — Bill Crews for example — for those personally and economically suffering. But unlike these protesters I am not in favour of increasing infection, pain and death as the solution. I am a pensioner living alone in lockdown. The protesters in my book are selfish scum.

Thanks to Van Badham for the meme.

Crazy, mad as a cut snake, certifiable! On the other hand a highly respectable journalist, Channel 10’s Hugh Riminton, noted: A lot of people have been dismissing the #sydneyprotest mob as unwashed, toothless losers. More disturbingly, they looked like anyone you’d see on a train. Which is not to defend the lunacy.

He has a point, and that IS disturbing.

Behind such people are the loudmouths, the motormouths, the People’s Tribunes, the Alan Jones’s of Sky IS The Dark: if you want to know about Alan Jones, view this. When he is not endorsing — often with a clever and mealy-mouthed get out of jail free card to save his arse though — the Great Election Fraud view of Donald Trump, or having the pathetic pollie Craig Kelly on his show as an expert opinion, then he is in the business of white-anting not only obvious targets like Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews but also embattled NSW Premier Gladys Berejilkian. Here he is on that one: Berejiklian ‘should resign’ if she thinks the virus can be eliminated: Alan Jones.

So thanks to a variety of loons, has-beens, alt-right dingbats and comparatively innocent fellow-travellers who may be reacting to genuine difficulties, the mob has disgraced and shamed us in the eyes of the world by organising the greatest super-spreader event imaginable! There must be a lot of very happy Delta Variants out there this morning! Except of course viruses don’t give a shit about politics, religion, freedom or whatever. They are mindless little machines intent on one thing only — spreading and replicating.

Anticipating a predictable retort to such an idea, Hugh Riminton has also tweeted: For comparison, here was the mask wearing during last year’s Sydney #BLM March.

Just to lighten up a tad! I rather like this, which comes from England — which is undergoing an interesting if very probably tragic experiment in political sleight-of-hand at the moment.

Updates — already noted on Facebook

  1. Possibly Australia’s most egregious boofhead, mate of Alan Jones, who regularly infests Sky Is In the Dark, the soon to be former Member for Hughes, that furniture salesman extraordinaire, shows his true colours by rooting for chaos in these ill-conceived “freedom” (aka irresponsibility) rallies.Shame on him! No, let me be old-fashioned — a pox on him! Here is a sample of the sh*t Kelly has posted, annotated by the good people of Hughes, his long-suffering electorate. Vote the bastard out!

2. The Illawarra Mercury reports that “up to” 250 protesters took to the streets of Wollongong. The population of Wollongong is 307,000 plus. I call that a success!