October 2018

 Visiting friends in Bali

In August we took up an invitation to visit friends who live half the year in Melbourne and the rest at their home in the coastal community of Suraberata, a two-hour drive north-west of Denpasar.  A little worryingly, our arrival (booked months before) occurred four days after an earthquake devastated the island of Lombok, which is located close enough to Bali that our friends experienced a frightening shock which sent them rushing outdoors.

Fortunately there were no repeat tremors on Bali during our visit, or right up until two days after our departure to return to Melbourne.  Then, on 23 August, our friends experienced a magnitude 5 jolt which had its epicentre in the Bali Strait just 50 kilometers due south of Suraberata.  Luckily, the small size of the quake meant there was no tsunami to follow—although our friends did not get this news until an hour after the event.

Hearing how unprepared were the people of central Sulawesi for the tsunami that struck after a 7.5 magnitude quake on 28 September, reportedly because sensor instruments which form part of the country’s warning system had been inoperable since 2012, it becomes understandable why communities in Indonesia suffer so badly during the many natural disasters which afflict this unstable region.

Lasseter movie premiere

On 23 September my recently completed documentary The truth about Lasseter was screened for the enjoyment of a group of friends in the town of Meredith, situated midway between Geelong and Ballarat.  The audience were all history buffs—mostly members of the local history group—with a keen interest in the fact that Lewis Lasseter (of “Lasseter’s Reef” fame) originally hailed from the Meredith district, having been born at Bamganie, a little to the west of town.

Because the famous (or infamous) 1930 Central Australia Gold Exploration expedition was organised and sent from Sydney, there has been a widespread perception ever since that that city was central to Lasseter’s personal story.  In reality, many periods in Lasseter’s life up until 1924 were played out in and around Melbourne, and various other localities across the State of Victoria—a fact which made Melbourne an ideal base for retracing Lasseter’s life story.

It was quite a thrill to see the response of viewers of the movie in Meredith, since there is no opportunity of seeing the reaction of family and friends to whom I have sent copies to view in their own good time.  I never expected the documentary to be described as ‘wonderful’, ‘exceptional’ or ‘beautifully presented’.  And I took it as a special compliment that history group members, being researchers themselves, felt ‘amazed at the incredible amount of information  and documentation … uncovered as you peeled back the true story of Lasseter.  Not quite the heroic boy from Bamganie we had thought.’

While I am delighted that the story which I have long considered the Australian public deserves to be told is finally circulating, even if on a limited basis, it is sad to think that preference will still be given in the future—as in the past—to marketing and publicising books devoted to perpetuating a phoney and thoroughly undeserving piece of Australian folklore.

Goodbye New Quay

After a solid 12 months of trying to change the aspects that spoilt our experience of living at New Quay in Melbourne’s Docklands district, we reluctantly took the decision to move out of the apartment that has been home for the past two years.  At the end of September we moved across to the other side of Victoria Harbour, to an apartment at Yarra’s Edge that is no less scenic but without the problems we finally found unbearable.   Hopefully here I will find the freedom to get on with the projects I envisaged for “retirement”.