Wednesday, August 31, 2005

From the BBC

There have been at least 965 confirmed deaths. The incident happened on a river bridge as about a million Shias marched to a shrine for a religious festival. The bridge links the staunchly Sunni area of Adhamiya on the east bank of the Tigris and the Shia area of Kadhimiya on the west bank.

BBC Middle East analyst Roger Hardy says that, because of radical Sunni attacks on big Shia gatherings in the past, it was not unreasonable for the worshippers to be nervous.

Earlier, mortar rounds had been fired into the crowd, killing at least seven people. About 36 others were injured when four mortar rounds landed close to the Kadhimiya mosque.

Iraqi defense Minister Saadun al-Dulaim said "People swarmed the bridge. There had to be a search operation at the end of the bridge, so crowds gathered and a certain scream caused chaos ... And this sorrowful incident took place."

During the crush, iron railing on the bridge leading to the shrine gave way and hundreds of people fell into the water.


It seems to me that few people in the Western world know the difference between the Sunnis and the Shia, and that knowing the difference would go a long way in helping us to understand middle eastern conflicts. Much like knowing the difference between Protestants and Catholics helps one to understand the fighting that has gone on in Ireland.

This event could be compared to shouting fire in a theatre. People in North America have been killed, crushed to death in stampedes many times. There was a stampede in a club during a concert around two years ago when fireworks lit part of the stage on fire. Officials have had to ban rush seating in stadiums after various deaths over the years. In fact many universities have coursed that study how to design things that will help prevent crowds from crushing their own weaker members. I have seen computer simulations that show how people leave rooms and airplanes with different configurations.

The main difference is that we generally don't gather in groups of a million or more. We don't have to search every single person who wants to cross the bridge when we do have a group that big, and generally people don't shout fire in our theatres.

STAMPEDE IN IRAQ KILLS OVER 640

A religious procession was crossing a bridge when someone shouted that there was a suicide bomber. Before you could blink, over 640 people were trampled to death or pushed in the river and drowned like rats. Over another 300 people were injured. These totals must include just about everybody that was on the bridge. Hell, a suicide bomber would have gotten only about 40. It's things like this that make you wonder about all the money and lives that are being used to protect these guys from themselves. It seems to me the only way you could protect them is to put them all in straight jackets and throw them into individual padded cells.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

New Mexico: It's Safer than Regular Mexico!

A fatal shooting at an Albuquerque Wal-Mart last week was New Mexico's first by someone with a concealed-carry gun permit, authorities said.

Apparently a man with a permit to carry a concealed weapon saw a lady being stabbed behind the counter, took out his gun, and shot the attacker to death. It seems to me that this saves everyone a lot of time and money. No court case, no lawyers, no money spent on jail. It seems that since jan.2004, only sane people have been given the permits because there haven't been any other shootings since the law permitting permits came into effect.

I'm still a little unsure as to whether it is a good idea to have people with guns around, even though I realize that the shooter probably saved the woman's life.

-Gary

Monday, August 29, 2005

Body Boarding

We went to City Beach the other day. We were the only ones without wet suits and body boards. The waves were over our heads and we had a great time. So much fun in fact that I convinced Tracie to ask some kids where to buy body boards and for their advice.

Immeadiately one of the kids said, "Get the cheapest one you can." They suggested that we go up the coast to Scarborough. We drove the rental car up and found four surfing shops right away. We didn't feel like spending the money right away, but we came back a few days later to swim and the wind and water convinced Tracie that we needed wetsuits.

We got body boards and wet suits and spent the day bodyboarding. It was really fun but unfortunately you can't take your camera in the water and even taking it to the beach is kind of sketchy if you don't want to get sand in the focus and zoom mechanisms of you lens.

Now I'm just waiting for another beach weather day.

-Gary Milner

Clay and Jeri-lyn


Clay and Jeri-lyn
Originally uploaded by Jackie Hutch.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Master's Thesis Chapter 4

“Fremantle In The Fifties.”
A History of Fremantle, between 1850 and 1860, with particular reference to convicts.
Ronald Chamberlain,
Teachers' College,
Claremont.
1959.

Chapter 4. “Building An Establishment”


Governors Fitzgerald and Kennedy had much in common, in that they were both the sole commanders of the small colony; their difference lies in their respective treatment of the convicts, mainly in disciplinary matters. This illustrates the power of the Governor in commanding the policy, and it shows how a man lacking in foresight can particularly ruin the work of a broad-minded man. Here the reasons why the convict establishment at Fremantle did not progress as rapidly as possible are dealt with. A rumour developed during the period which worried all from the farmer to the Governor. This is discussed later in the chapter.

In June 1855, Governor Fitzgerald vacated office and Mr. Arthur Kennedy succeeded him. Immediately the discipline changed. Convicts were not given the freedom they had previously experienced. Mr. Kennedy had tried to put Western Australia on the same lines as the other colonies, as regards convict discipline. Governor Kennedy became the governor in the middle of a crisis among the convicts. The Roman Catholic prisoners, mainly the Irish ones, were pressing the authorities to give certain privileges to them. Towards the end of 1853, the Roman Catholic prisoners out numbered the Protestant prisoners in the colony. The Bishop of Perth, Bishop Serra, asked that a convict chaplain be approved and appointed to cope with these Catholic prisoners.

A little later in the year Governor Kennedy asked Earl Grey whether Roman Catholic prisoners should receive three days holidays to celebrate feast days which were traditional holidays in Ireland. Kennedy pointed out that jealousy could result if these holidays were given. The Duke of Newcastle who was the Colonial Secretary, replied that the Roman Catholic prisoners were not to receive the holiday. Captain Henderson expressed the wish that no more Roman Catholic prisoners be sent out because he considered the cost of hiring a priest too high, and he considered having a priest the only way of appealing to them, and their better natures. In a reply to this request, however, Newcastle stated that no more Irish prisoners would be sent to Western Australia. Because of their fiery nature, Captain Henderson would not send the Roman Catholic prisoners to the depots.

By mid 1851, a site had been established for building an establishment. The building was to cost some £27,000 and it was to be built of limestone, quarried from around Fremantle. This was an aim which could not be achieved very rapidly. To build a gaol such as the one proposed would take a considerable period of time, and would require man men working on it. There existed the more immediate goal, however, the need to house the convicts while the new establishment was being completed. Repairs and the changing of Captain Scott's Esplanade Hotel into a gaol kept many men busy, who could have otherwise been employed on the main establishment. The needs of the colonists had to be satisfied as regards the labour problem. These two factors kept the new establishment with a few workers to build it. Consequently the progress of the building was very slow. An immediate need for speeding up the progress was wounded when the hospital surgeon reported that his hospital was inadequate for its purpose of caring for the sick prisoners. Apart from this, the general health of the Fremantle community was reasonably good. From time to time few fevers hit the township, and this was attributed to the drinking water. The surgeon reported on the health of the convicts.
“On the whole, the general health of the prisoners is good, the prevailing sickness has been of an exceedingly mild character.”

Later in 1855 when the hospital at the new establishment was completed, the conditions for patients improved considerably. It was later reported that the Establishment would be open for use in June 1855. The Establishment was not begun till towards the end of 1851, and semi-completed in mid-1855. Considering the handicaps, mainly a lack of labour, it was not a bad effort to complete it in this time. The Establishment was finally completed in 1858, although extensions to the hospital continued until 1860. The year 1856 was a set back to the work when a willy-willy blew down a large section of one of the walls.

Compared with life in the English prisons at the time, the Western Australian system was very good to prisoners. In fact, the majority considered transportation to Western Australia a good thing. The food was not too bad in the Fremantle Establishment, and depots. Up till 1853 the prisoners had to eat the “left-overs” from the ships which came in. They ate these to supplement their other rations. Throughout the period the rations were fairly liberal. Later when the Establishment was moving more smoothly gardens were set up and fresh vegetables were readily available. Conditions were good as regards clothes. Clean clothes were supplied weekly; not a bad period when English conditions are considered. Hot water was supplied in winter, while in the summer time, bathing was carried on in the sea. Shaving was regular – Wednesday's and Saturday's.

A persistent rumour began to appear in Fremantle in the 1853-54 period. Many people said that the worst type of convict was to be sent to Western Australia from the other states. The convict system was just about to end in Tasmania and men feared the introduction of these harsher types. This rumour worried even the Governor, until the Duke of Newcastle informed him that the rumour was unfounded. The people of Fremantle began to feel that their town was more prosperous and playing a more significant part in the development of Western Australia than was the present capital and seat of government, Perth. So in 1854, the citizens of Fremantle decided to petition to Lord John Russell to make Fremantle the new seat of government. The petition was unsuccessful, but it does give an indication as to how important the feeling of pride was in the Fremantle community at this time.

So by 1855 Governor Fitzgerald's term of office ended and he was succeeded by Kennedy. The establishment had been started and was partially completed. Conditions now were better than ever for the convicts, but a harsh ruler was here. Most important as regards Fremantle was the feeling of pride which the town had developed. This was a far cry from the soul-sickening 1830's.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Working

So I regret not becoming an accountant a little less now. I'm a temp now, and my first assignment was to go to a mining consultant firm to help the accountants with some filing and archiving. One of my tasks was to match receipts to Amex bills. It sounds easy, but there must have been 40 or 50 employees with Amex cards, and they don't always hand in their receipts in time for the current bill, or even three months late. There are a lot of receipts missing, yet to be handed in, and also waiting for the next bill to arrive. All in a giant binder. There are also five binders full of bills waiting for receipts.

In any case temping is nice, if a bit monotonus. Hopefully some tv company will hire me as an unwitting target for a hidden camera pratical joke show.

The money is good, here in Perth for temps, but it is just a matter of getting assignments. If it wasn't so cloudy, I would just go to the beach right now while I'm waiting for the call.

We went the other day and the waves were taller than me by a foot and a half. It has prompted us to buy body boards to play in the ocean. Some kids told us to get the cheapest ones we could find, not more than $50 or $100, because the really expensive ones are for the bigger 'breaks'. I imagine that the real differnce is that the expensive ones are thinner and don't float as well, but go way faster and turn better. That's the case with surfboards anyway.

-Gary Milner

Nambung National Park

See my Flicker photo set of the pinnacles here.

Nambung National Park, on the Swan Coastal Plain 245km north of Perth, contains on of Australia's most fascinating landscapes – the Pinnacles Desert.

Out of the shifting yellow sands rise thousands of huge limestone pillars, standing in stark contrast to the surrounding low heathlands typical of this coast.

The pinnacles often feature in tourist guides to the region, but they are only one part of the 17491 ha National Park. Beautiful beaches, coastal dune systems and trees and flowering plants typical of the northern coastal plain are all part of this park.

Summer days between December and March are usually hot and dry, with an afternoon sea breeze. During this time the fire danger is often extreme. Wildlife rests during the heat of the day, and only appears in the cooler hours of early morning and evening.

Most of the annual 600mm of rain falls between May and September. From September onwards the weather warms up, but the days are still mild and native wildflowers throughout the area start their spring bloom. This is the best time of year to discover the pinnacles and explore the park.

The Environment

Nambung Pinnacles
Three old systems of sand dunes run parallel to the WA coast from Nambung to Busselton. These dunes, formed from wind-blown beach sand rich in ime, mark acient shorelines on the Swan coastal plain.

The dune systems become older and more gentle and undulating the further they are from the sea. The shape and character of the sands determine the plants that will grow on them.

The Quindalup system of white, lime-rich sands is found immediately inland from the foredunes and is constantly being added to by sand from the foredunes and the beach.

The vegetation here is strongly influenced by the shape of the dunes. Acacia thickets are common in the small valleys between the dunes and on the leeward slopes.

I'm Like Spiderman...
Further inland the older Spearwood dunes occur. These are yellow and brownish quartz sands, and often overlie limestone. The pinnacles are the eroded remnants of what was once a thick bed of limestone beneath these sands.

Tuart woodlands occur in the valleys, but it is the low exposed heaths of acacia and myrtles extending inland to the Pinnacles Desert which dominate the landscape. Scattered over these low heaths grow casurinas and banksias. The brilliant orange flowered Banksia prionotes is common.

The silica-rich sands of the Bassendean system are found on the east of the Park where the vegetation is low, open banksia woodland.

More Roos
Most animals in the Park are nocturnal, but during the day you may see emus or western grey kangaroos. Reptiles of many sorts are common, particularly bobtail skinks and snakes. Over 90 species of birds common to the Swan Coastal Plain have been recorded in the Park.

The most popular attraction of the Park is the Pinnacles Desert. Thousands of limestone pillars, up to four meters tall, rise out of a stark landscape of yellow sand. Some are jagged, sharp-edged columns, rising to a point; others resemble tomb-stones. What exactly are the pinnacles? What natural processes have created these odd and spectacular structures?

The Raw material for the limestone of the pinnacles came from sea shells in an earlier epoch rich in marine life. These shells were broken down into lime-rich sands which were carried inland by wind to form high, mobile dunes.

Nambung Pinnacles
Winter rain leached the lime from these sands, cementing grains of sand together in the lower levels of the dunes. Vegetation became established and stabilized the dunes. At the same time, an acidic layer of soil and humus developed over the remaining quartz sand.

This acidic soil accelerated the leaching process, and a hard layer of calcrete formed over the softer limestone below. Today this calcrete can be seen as a distinct cap on many pinnacles and has helped protect the softer limestone below.

Cracks formed in the calcrete layer and were exploited by plant roots. Water seeped down along these channels to leach away the softer limestone beneath. The channels gradually filled with quartz sand. This subsurface erosion continued until only the most resilient columns remained. The pinnacles as we see them today were exposed by prevailing winds blowing away the overlying quartz sand.

-Gary Milner

Monday, August 22, 2005

Pinnacles and Anniversary


Picturesque
Originally uploaded by Tracie Milner.
Since we've been in Australia, we've been doing everyday things like going to work, going to the bank, going to the beach, buying groceries....nothing really exciting to write about. Saturday though, we went to Nambung National Park to see the pinnacles, which was our first real touristy outing. We drove up in our rented car, about a three hour drive north of Perth. When you talk with Australians or anyone who has visited Australia about travelling here, they will all warn you that driving anywhere is long and boring with nothing to see on the way. My response to these people is: try driving in Canada. Although there really isn't a lot to see and the towns are few and far between, there are at least trees, sheep farms and heaps of dead kangaroos lining the roads. When you're used to driving for hours on end through the prairies, only seeing the occasional dead gopher or skunk, it actually seemed quite exciting.

The pinnacles were lovely. This photo was taken there. They reminded me a lot of the hoodoos at Writing on Stone in Alberta. We spotted an emu, although we couldn't get very close. Those things are fast. We saw quite a few sets of emu prints, and each step was about 2 metres apart, so they seem to have a pretty good stride.

As I said, we rented a car and we have it for a week. Driving on the left side of the road is pretty crazy. We've had to remind eachother several times to get back in the left lane after turning into the right lane by mistake. Luckily we haven't done that when any other traffic was heading towards us. The inside of the car is backwards too, and we are constantly putting on the wipers by accident when we're trying to signal. I have to admit though that it is quite fun. We are undecided still if we will buy a car. You get a whole different view of the city in a car than you do on foot or with transit. For the last few weeks, it seemed to me that Perth was pretty small. But in a car, you really get the sense of how big it is when you're merging from one freeway to another and driving through long tunnels under the river. It's a very beautiful city.

Sunday was our anniversary. Six years and counting...it's hard to believe. We went to the beach in the afternoon. We chose a different beach than we've been to before, and this one - Scarborough - was really nice. The waves were huge, and there were a lot of people out surfing and body boarding. I talked to a couple of guys there about body boarding, and they highly recomended it. I convinced Gary to go with me to buy a board, but the stores were already closed when we got there. One thing I can say about Perth is that their stores are closed more than they're open. They all close at 5 or 6 on weekdays (even malls and grocery stores) and aren't even open on Sundays. I often wonder when they have the time to buy groceries. Anyway, I think sometime this week I will buy a body board. Gary wants a surf board instead. I'd like to try surfing, but I'm quite confident that I'll have more fun with a body board since I've never been surfing. Maybe it'll be easier than I think, but I doubt it.

In other news, Gary found work with one of the temp agencies he went to. He'll probably want to write about it himself, but needless to say he's really glad to be working, and he's especially glad that he found office work and not labour work. I decided to work Monday to Friday this week so that my schedule can match Gary's. With the nursing agencies, an am shift is from 7 til 1:30, and it was quite nice to be back from work before 2 today. I think I could really get used to a M-F day job.

-Tracie

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Master's Thesis Chapter 3

“Fremantle In The Fifties.”
A History of Fremantle, between 1850 and 1860, with particular reference to convicts.
Ronald Chamberlain,
Teachers' College,
Claremont.
1959.

Chapter 3. “The System in Western Australia”


The colonists had brought out the convicts. Now they were presented with the problem of instituting a system in the colony. The basic ideas which caused convicts to be brought out and the way in which they were set to work are discussed. Here the general life of the convict is discussed from his daily timetable to systems of promotion and the cultural activities open to him. An important question which was continually raised was that of the guards available. This proved to be a problem which was not easily solved.

Even though Western Australia was lifting to a state of prosperity, she still found that much care had to be exercised. Had the Governor set the convicts building roads and bridges then the state would have undoubtedly continued to feel many of the hardships she had previously experienced. The colonists required the convicts to be sent out not to build roads and make similar i\improvements, which were indeed necessary, but to help on the farms. Help was needed to conquer this huge country. One man could not cope with the huge tracts of land required to be cultivated to meet the needs of the community as regards food. Convicts were, therefore, sent out to work on the farms and to such districts as York which had an important force in first establishing convicts in Western Australia. Because of this outlook of working on the most important requirements first, the governor had very few convicts directly at his disposal. The convicts were hired out first of all from Fremantle and then from other depots, such as North Fremantle and Guildford. The price was £2.10.0 per head per year. At first the government supplied food but later the farmers had to keep the convict. This £2.10.0 was meant to repay the British Government for the cost of a passage on the ship. Many cautions were shown in the Government Gazette warning people who were holding convicts, to pay their money into an appropriate depot by a certain date. Even though most of the convicts were reasonably well behaved, some caused a good deal of trouble. These convicts were detained at the main establishment in Fremantle.

The 1852 gold rush in Victoria had the effect of stirring many of the men in Western Australia to the gold fever stage. Fremantle, at the time, along with most other areas of the state was showing what could be done with help. It would have been a bad state of affairs had many of the men gone to Victoria. A law was passed by the governor preventing free men from leaving the state to seek their fortunes in the hills around Ballarat and Bendigo. This law was contrary to democratic law-making, but it did have the desired effect of helping Western Australia stable, while all of the other states were losing large proportions of their populations to Victoria.

As “improvements” were made to the Esplanade Hotel, it became more and more like a regular gaol. Gradually a timetable was imposed upon the convicts. As time went by, the timetable became very strict. For the most of the time the system operated in Western Australia a timetable similar to the one below always existed in the main establishment.

5.00am. - Bell - day begun.
5.15 am. - Roll - call and march to wash room.
5.55 am. - Off to work.
7.55 am. - Return for breakfast.
8.25-45. - “Smoke” and prayers read.
1-2pm. - Midday dinner and “smoke”
6.15pm - Supper.
6.45-730 -Men could associate in exercise yard.
7.30pm -Prayers.
8.00pm - Lights out.

By late 1852 the new school system in the Establishment was in full swing. Everyman was required to attend at least once per week. The school was held twice a week. Lectures were given by many prominent citizens, including the Governor, or Captain Henderson, together, with many of the convicts themselves, who were either well informed men or interested in becoming informed. An important media of learning was the library, but it was considered inadequate and narrow by some, but did give the men the chance to find out more about the world in which they lived. The main subjects taught were the 3-R's, but the use of library books and lectures widened the course and proved most stimulating to the man. In a half yearly report of the Comptroller-General it was reported that 400 out of the 570 in the prison had books delivered to them at their own request. Although there were 600 books in the library, 500 of these treated religious subjects. This must have been pleasing to the local clergy, but was a little disheartening to some of the convicts who wished to widen their scope of knowledge as their fancy took them. It was further reported that:-
“Only a few did not wish to attend school and practically without exception these were ignorant men.”

The series of lectures was an interesting feature of the course. The Governor expressed his gratification over the new interest shown by the convicts when he lectured to them. The title of the Governor's topic at the time was “Mineralogy in connection with mining and the metalferous deposits of the Colony.” This does not appear to be a particularly inspiring topic, and for the convicts to show the interest expressed by the Governor shows either the Governor's ability as a lecturer or the convicts ability to look interested, or both. Cultural interests were high and on Saturday mornings, singing classes were held. (Along with the glowing reports of the progress of the school system, came the Surgeons report that the hospital was totally inadequate for the purpose of caring for the sick.)

With the convict system growing as regards numbers, the need for more clergymen became obvious. One man was serving the religious needs of about 600 prisoners, many of whom were not of his religious conviction, and so refused to have anything to do with him. This latter group was the Roman Catholic prisoners, who predominated the Irish numbers sent out. Fitzgerald asked for more clergymen, and in particular a Roman Catholic Bishop. The religious differences had serious repercussions as the system developed, and the number of Irish prisoners sent out increased.

The general conduct of the prisoners was improved by the natural environment of Western Australia. The Eastern Colonies had climates and wild life in which a man could exist for years without dying from exposure. Western Australia was vast and open, settlements were scattered far and wide, consequently, if a man escaped he had no where to go. He could not escape from this “natural gaol”. Thomas H. Dinon expressed the following opinion of escape:
“So hopeless are the chances of success that it is only the occasional individual, grown desperate, and careless of consequences by the dreary monotony of an apparently endless imprisonment, or some new comer, ignorant of the nature of the colony or country and its complete isolation from the other colonies or some lunatic or idiot who would attempt to escape.”
Not only did the interior of Western Australia make it very difficult for a convict to escape, but the formation of a water police increased the difficulty. This service made it far more difficult for the men to escape to the north to Batavia, or to the south to one of the other states. The water police started in 1852 and later amalgamated with the land force to provide a more efficient method of preventing convict escapes.

Throughout his stay in Western Australia, Governor Fitzgerald was continually asking the Colonial Secretary that more guards be sent out, and that they be more reliable. From time to time a few men would be sent out to increase the numbers of the police force. On several occasions Governor Fitzgerald expressed the view that men used the job of warden as a “stepping-stone” to something better or as a “stop-gap” job. Rarely did wardens stay in the service long enough to give anyone in command a sense of a secure force carrying out operations. Fitzgerald also pointed out that in many cases the wardens were far too lenient with the men. This was possible the result of the “stop-gap" idea of the occupation. The pensioners who were replaced by a civil guard, but because the civil guard was lacking in numbers the pensioners had to be re-introduced to the work.

Among the conditions set down for convicts it was stipulated that one letter per three months could be sent home. This seems rather a long time between letters, but when one considers the time it would take to send a letter home, the time is not so long. Many of the convicts had little wish to send home any information about themselves, or the settlement. They were disgraces to England and a new life lay ahead of them out here. This idea of a “fresh” start out here was all very well, but many of the convicts had ties in England which could not be disposed of as easily as that. Here reference is made to the men who had wives and families in England and wished to marry out here. This became a problem for the local authorities as they had very little in the way of records of the men who had been transported. Clergymen were instructed not to marry ticket-of-leave men in Western Australia. Later on Earl Grey promised that accurate information would be sent which would clean up the predicament. With this new country open to them and their inability to return to England, many of the ticket-of-leave men wished to bring their wives out to Australia. Ticket-of-leave men could buy land and this made the idea more desirable. The convicts when they had payed for their own passages to Australia could pay for their wife's passage. Both Earl Grey and governor Fitzgerald could see the obvious moral advantages in this tendency to even up the sexes.

Because more men were entering the colony, due principally, to the fact that the convict system catered only for men prisoners the question as to how the disportion of sexes could be dealt with was, for Western Australia, a serious moral problem. The problem soon became the question as to whether female convicts would be allowed into the state. Many of the citizens were afraid of the serious moral consequences of convicts being sent out. The summing up of how Western Australia felt about the system can be seen n the following extract to Earl Grey.
“At Perth the majority are decidedly opposed to the measure, equally at York, at Fremantle the question, I hear, was carried for the introduction of female convicts by a majority consisting of ticket-of-leave men, who in my opinion, should never have been permitted to have a voice in the matter.”
Apart from the ticket-of-leave men who voted in favour of the introduction of female convicts, many prominent and respectable citizens expressed the idea that the introduction of female convicts would be a good thing. The ticket-of-leave men who were single obviously needed them to have a class of their own, with which to marry. The topic continued to be a point for much argument, even after Earl Grey had told the Governor that female convicts would not be sent to Western Australia.

When the ticket-of-leave man received his “ticket” it entitled him t go anywhere in the world except the United Kingdom. The Eastern States of Australia, being somewhat more profitable to work in than Western Australia found that many of our convicts were entering into their boundaries. This brought a cry from the moralists in these colonies, as they all, with the exceptions of Tasmania and Norfolk Island (whose systems ended in 1853 and 1855 respect.) abolished the convict system some five years earlier and expected to fairly rapidly lose the influences of the system. This fresh source from Western Australia found these colonies objecting strongly. Victoria even passed a law to prevent the entry of ex-convicts into that state. Naturally enough Western Australia did not want to lose any of these new citizens, for she found just how valuable they were.

When a convict had been freed he found that all was not rosy for him. In a court of law a ticket-of-leave man's word was not held in as high esteem as the word of a free man. This led to many ticket-of-leave men being scape-goats for a free man's crime. A fee man often used the free man's status to extract money in charging outrageous prices for goods which were necessities. An other stipulation as to the pattern of behaviors imposed on the ticket-of-leave man was that he could not hold a government position. This could have held back the state because very often ex-convicts were extremely capable men who shone n business and other occupations later on.

Within Western Australia were four types of prisoners which could be used to work for the government.

1.Probationary ticket-of-leave. These were men who could be sent to all parts of the colony to work for private employers. They had on many occasions served a probationary period in the Fremantle Establishment.
2.Reconvicted class. Those who had been granted their ticket-of-leave but had committed another crime. There were only a few in this class.
3.Free men who were convicted with the colony. The old roundhouse at the western end of High Street in Fremantle had been built in the 1830's for the purpose of housing this type.

4.ticket-of-leave men who could not find employment and who worked for the government. They were not criminals in the true sense of the word.

When Western Australia began the system the emphasis was to be on reform. Men were to be given the opportunities to bring out their good qualities, to strive to make themselves better, useful citizens. One method which did help was the use of the stripes system. The following is a summary of the intentions to make these men into better individuals.
“Such distinction be made between the classes and such privileges granted as shall promote the object of giving encouragement to those whose conduct may deserve it.”
The convicts were classified into groups such as “Very Good”, “Good”, “Bad” and “Very Bad”. By 1852 the strip system was introduced – 3 stripes were used for a first class convict, two for a second class and one for a third class. All the prisoners were kept informed of their class which aided the drive to move to a higher class. Pay increased as a convict went up a class, for example 2½ pence per day for a “very good” and 1½ pence per day for good. These amounts varied greatly over a period of time and it was worthwhile obtaining the highest class. Convicts, when they Achieved the rank of first-class could be used as a constable (a third class constable). After one year the convicts as constables were paid 2/6 per day. The system worked particularly well at Fremantle and by 1857, convicts were in charge of all road parties. In 1857 a marks system was introduced which would decrease the period a convict had to serve. This system was abolished in 1867.

In their own way the convicts were doing quite well. There were good opportunities for promotion and generally these promotions meant some valuable gain. Not only did this policy of reform help the convict, but it also helped Western Australia as a whole. She was producing a good type of citizen out of individuals who were the “scum of England”. While this reforming was in progress, a building was going up slowly but surely, in Fremantle. An Establishment for the convicts was being constructed.

Work Situation Here in Perth

I got set up with a temp agency today. They called me in to give them my banking and tax information. They said that I will be able to work here in Perth doing data entry. I guess that I will be starting somewhere in a day or two. Which is very good news.

Tracie started working at various hospitals here within five days of arriving, but she had been running around for months before we even left Canada. That and they don't have enough nurses here.

It seems odd that the entire world is experiencing a nursing shortage, but it is just too difficult to add teaching capacity at any of the universities. It seems like there should be plenty of room in the UofC trailer park to add a nursing trailer if it is a matter of not having enough physical space. I mean why is it possible to get into the University with 80% out of highschool or community college in most of the faculties, but for nursing you need high 90's, and there is a waiting list of 300 people.

-Gary Milner

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Master's Thesis Chapter 2

“Fremantle In The Fifties.”
A History of Fremantle, between 1850 and 1860, with particular reference to convicts.
Ronald Chamberlain,
Teachers' College,
Claremont.
1959.

Chapter 2. “Speculation and an Establishment”


When the convicts did arrive what was to be done with them? They were left almost on the beaches as were the early settlers, without a roof over their heads. Captain Scott came to the rescue and the first reports about the establishment are told in this chapter. The question of how it was conceived the convicts would and did effect the morals of the community, but in particular the morals of the town of Fremantle, is also discussed.

On the 1st of June 1851, just twenty-one years after the settlement had been founded, Western Australia received her first consignment of convicts. Captain Henderson was aboard the “Scindian” during the voyage. Throughout the eighteen years of convictism in Western Australia, Captain Henderson settled as the Comptroller-General of Convicts. He was one of the outstanding figures during the convict system in Western Australia. With a usual lack of efficiency, the colonists neglected to provide a place for the convicts to stay. The old roundhouse in Fremantle, which had been built some years earlier to house the people convicted in the colony, proved far too small for such a large number. Finally Captain Dan Scott's hotel, not greatly removed from the jetty where the ships berthed, was hired at a cost of £250 per annum. A short time after this Fitzgerald reported to Earl Grey that the hotel was capable of housing 600 men.

Western Australia had the message some six months earlier that two ships, the “Scindian” and “Hatchway” were sailing with 150 convicts and yet with another 30 guards they still failed to do anything about the situation.

Immediately the convicts arrived reports on their conduct became the outstanding topic of conversation. From the very beginning the authorities had little or no trouble controlling the convicts. In a reply to favourable dispatches from the Western Australian Authorities, Earl Grey had this to say:-
“It is satisfactory to hear that the conduct of the convicts has been very good both during their voyage and since their disembarkation”

One factor had a great influence upon this. Many of the convicts were young and not hardened criminals. They had been convicted in many cases for “crimes” which we today would consider too paltry to worry about, but the British Government of the time did worry, so many of these young men were convicted and transported. An outstanding feature of the system from its commencement was the lack of severe discipline. Fitzgerald points out to the Duke of Newcastle in a dispatch that there were two reasons for good behavior among the convicts. First the amount of liberty given to ticket-of-leave men, would be highly desired. Secondly the firmness with which the law deals with crime. These were considered two of the main inducers for good conduct but there were several others. The death rate on ships to Tasmania and the eastern colonies was much higher than on ships going to Western Australia, giving an indication that living conditions and consequently discipline were more humane on ships to Western Australia than to other parts of Australia. A feature of the system was that during the first half of the year only two men out of a total of ninety-five holding tickets-of-leave went up before a magistrate. This gives an indication that at the start of the system, at least, the ticket-of-leave man had a chance to live an honest live. Later on he became, on many instances, a scapegoat for a free man's offense.

A public meeting held in Perth on the 10th of June 1850 passed the resolution that if more convicts were to be sent to Western Australia then more protection was needed for the citizens. In the colony at this time men were still doubtful as to the value of the convict system. Some fancied that the morals of the community would collapse if the system continued. Possibly a result of this meeting was the decision to send the main section of the 99th regiment from Perth to Fremantle. Fremantle being the area to where the new arrivals had come and also the area where they were sorted out before being sent to various parts of the state for service, was considered to be the danger point as regards convict. The 99th Regiment consisted of 93 individuals of these 36 were sent to various parts of the state. The remainder, fifty-seven, were stationed at Perth and Fremantle, the latter being the greatest danger point received the majority of the guards.

Naturally the premises of Captain Scott could not be used indefinitely as a goal for the convicts. As the numbers grew and began to swell with more ships arriving the prospect of deciding upon a suitable suite became more critical. Governor Fitzgerald was able to report that a site for a gaol had been selected when he reported on the 23rd August, 1851. Fitzgerald said that the prison would be built to accommodate 882 prisoners but in the case of an emergency they could house 1000. The estimate cost of the prison was worked out exactly to £27,278.3.1½. The site was to be on a limestone hill overlooking Fremantle. It was to be built of limestone, quarried from nearby deposits. The buildings, with a few alterations, is essentially the same as it stands today. Obviously the Governor knew that to build such an establishment would take a lengthy period of time, as he continued to make alterations to the temporary establishment of Captain Scott. Fitzgerald reported to Grey in a dispatch that the temporary establishment was now capable of housing 600 men. This work naturally held up any immediate work of, say, simply clearing the land for the new establishment. Most of the convict force was working on the provincial establishment at Fremantle. A little later a tramline was built from the gaol site to Fremantle to assist in the transport of limestone up the hill to the prison.

Fremantle, being the principle port of the settlement and consequently the place to where convicts would first be deposited, would feel any “convict wave” more quickly than any other part of the state. This fact showed up when Fremantle showed signs of lifting from lethargy which had kept her stagnant for the past few years at least, to a thriving prosperous community. A “wave” did start. It proved to be a wave of prosperity which began in the Fremantle area, for that was where the money was being spent, and gradually drifted out to the other centres as convicts moved away from the centre of the system, Fremantle. The value of prosperity was Governor Fitzgerald's chief concern when he wrote the following to Earl Grey:-
“increased value of every kind of property, more especially at Fremantle since this has been made a penal settlement”.
Property was not the only thing to rise. In Fremantle the wages, much to the delight of the workers, rose in a short time. Captain Henderson points this out. He said that wages were higher in Fremantle than in any other part of the country. Thus most people wanted to live in Fremantle. Governor Fitzgerald pointed out that there was a shortage of housing in both Perth and Fremantle. This was a healthy sign for both the towns mentioned but not very hopeful for country areas. They had to wait a time until this “convict wave” would effect them just as it had so profitably effected the town of Fremantle. Governor Fitzgerald in the following statement discusses the other towns in the colony as compared with Fremantle. In this description he also throws some light onto the type of town Fremantle was turning into.
“I would observe that our towns (with the exception of Fremantle) are more properly rural villages. Fremantle has a great number of sailors from every port in the world, therefore ticket-of-leave men could not work there”.
From this report it seems fairly obvious that quite a degree of vice was creeping into Fremantle. The prospect of Fremantle becoming one of the world's ports did not offer a very happy prospect for its morals. Thus it was not the convicts who were directly endangering the morals of the community, but the sailors and others who came in and then drifted again. It is interesting to note that the principle vice in Fremantle was still drunkedness. Captain Henderson states this in his half-yearly report for the first half of 1952. He stated that drunkedness was very prevalent, without it there would be little vice at all. To illustrate how the convicts influenced the prosperity of the colony an extract from a letter to the Bishop of Adelaide to Captain Henderson is quoted.
“Fremantle has already sprung up into a neat and thriving town, and throughout the colony, where ever convicts have been place signs of industry and prosperity are apparent.”
Even though these signs of prosperity showed that Western Australia had generally taken the first step to becoming prosperous there was still a long way to go. Earl Grey illustrates this when he asks Western Australia to produce more food in the way of cereals. Men were, in some cases, content to sit back and demand a high price for what was produced. They did not make any effort to increase the production to meet the needs of a growing population. These men practiced the idea of selling scarce foods for a high price.

By the end of 1850 the convicts had been firmly planted in Fremantle. They had shown that with only six months behind them the colony that they could help Western Australia to recover from its lethargic state. The year 1851 broke full of promise.

Master's Thesis Chapter 1

“Fremantle In The Fifties.”
A History of Fremantle, between 1850 and 1860, with particular reference to convicts.
Ronald Chamberlain,
Teachers' College,
Claremont.
1959.

Chapter 1. “Why Were Convicts Needed?”


Western Australia in her infancy in the 30's and 40's was in need of a labour force. The convicts were an important factor in providing this labour force which was to be essential in the development of western Australia. This is also the story of the struggle between the Home Government and the colony of Western Australia over financial problems and problems relating to the types of convicts to be sent out to the colony. Here is the story of why Britain wanted to be rid of the convicts and why Western Australia wanted them, and finally the system which came into being.

In 1850 Western Australia had taken what was possibly the most important step in her entire existence. On May 12, 1849 orders in Council were passed making Western Australia a place to where convicts might be sent. Captain Fitzgerald had succeeded Frederick Irwin as the governor of Western Australia in 1848. Fitzgerald decided that convicts were the only solution to the problems of the West. He asked for opinions and numbers in the various districts of Western Australia and then sent to Earl Grey a letter informing him of the decision to have convicts transported to Western Australia.

Let us now look at some of the causes which made it necessary for Western Australia to accept convictism. The price of land in Western Australia was very low in the early years of her existence, but in 1842 just as Western Australia was beginning to show that prosperity was possible, the Imperial Government imposed a new set of land laws which made prosperity impossible for Western Australia.

With its usual impersonal efficiency as regards colonial affairs the British government placed a uniform land price of one pound per acre on all land in Australia. Obviously all the land in Australia was not of equal value. It was here Western Australia suffered.

Western Australia found that it could not attract people by selling land cheaply and using the money to bring out immigrants. With this uniformly high price of land men would be much more likely to go to the Eastern Colonies where the land, for the same price, was of a better quality. This high price of land had cumulative results as far as Western Australia was concerned.

The indenture system of bringing settlers out to work on a farm for a specific period had been introduced, early, in an effort to stimulate migration to Western Australia. At the time competition for migrants was fierce throughout the world. The indenture system failed because a servant could stay with a master for a short time, save enough money to buy his own land and settle on it. Later, because land prices were high men who bought land could not afford to hire labour. This was disastrous to the West. Here the land was poor, sufficient labour and plenty of land were two essential requirements to be a successful farmer in Western Australia. Many acres, therefore, had to lie in waste while the small man had to try to cope with this vast, harsh environment. This high price of land (one pound per acre) had caused men to be wary of any investment in Western Australia. Consequently money stopped moving, and so the migration system which depended upon their money to bring out settlers failed. Western Australia was in a state of stagnation.

The low price of land originally had been the cause for the colony's failure, now the high price of land had produced a similar situation in the colony, namely, a lack of labourers.

The colonists considered that convicts would have a double effect on Western Australia. Two elements were lacking in Western Australia – a lack of labour and a lack of capital. These were the two basic causes for the poor start and for the continual struggle to make Western Australia pay. A labour force would help win the battle against poor soil – more acres could be planted and more cattle and horses could be tendered over a larger area. The costs of paying for gaols to house the convicts and money sent out to pay convicts wages would help to bring capital to Western Australia, and keep money moving. As regards the question of capital and, in fact, the whole convict system, both the British Government and Western Australia seemed to be using each other as much as possible. They persisted in trying to give when there was something not wanted and retain when they thought there was to be some loss. Western Australia only accepted convicts because she was in desperate need of labour and capital and not because of any favour to the British government. When conditions were drawn up Western Australia made it seem like a favour to accept convicts. She stipulated the type and character of the man to be sent out. At home the government gave out as many convicts as Western Australia could take, at times deviating somewhat from the original agreement drawn up. The British Government kept a close scrutiny on money spent on the system and several times objected to excessive expenditure on the part of Western Australia.

The building of the Fremantle Establishment and the payment of the police are examples of the Home Government's efforts to cut down on expenditure. Both parties required the system to relieve pressure but for Western Australia the system was of vital importance. Had Western Australia not taken on convicts the state may have had to struggle on for many more years until the eighties and nineties when gold thrust Western Australia into world prominence.
Another cause, a more immediate one, of why convicts were needed was the depression which passed over Western Australia in 1848-9. This was a severe setback just as the West was beginning to see her way clear on the path to prosperity. Because Western Australia was an established colony she had quite a deal of bargaining power with the British Government. The Eastern colonies had been established for the specific purpose of dispatching convicts. But Western Australia was on the map. She was brought into being by private enterprise under the crown. So to a degree the West was independent and had a small degree of bargaining power which the other colonies except South Australia, did not possess. Because of this power Western Australia could distinguish the type of convict she wanted. The British Government was in such a position that she would have agreed to almost any condition to be rid of the convicts. Possibly the only condition the Home Government may not have accepted was the excessive expenditure of money. Another point of interest is that when Peel drew up his original constitution and had it agreed to by the British Government he stipulated that convicts were not to be sent to Western Australia. This condition was ignored when convicts were brought into the colony.

There were five conditions which held for all convicts sent out from Britain. Firstly the convicts were to be males. This proved a topic for some heated arguments later in the period, but males continued to be the only ones sent to Western Australia. The number of free immigrants were to equal in numbers the convicts sent out. This proved to be a cause of annoyance among the colonists but in general the British Government did adhere to this principle. Only convicts under forty-five years were to be sent out. Many were in their early twenties and quite a number in their late teens. The two final conditions were of a rather arbitrary nature. The colonists stipulated that the individual was to be of god character and in good health. Judgments such as these can only be let to the individual but if one can ascertain results from the conduct of the convicts in general, then the individual Judgments of good character seemed to be fairly accurate.

Throughout the colony, there was the feeling that men had little faith in Western Australia. The period seemed to be one of disdain in which men hung onto land in the hope that something would change the situation. Convicts did just this. In a matter of a few months Fremantle was changed from a port in which trade was stagnant and there seemed little prospect of improvement into a thriving, growing community. A voice cried out for convicts from South Australians, who had lived in Western Australia and bought land. They found that they could not succeed and moved to South Australia. Their pleas for convicts came before it was finally decided to introduce them to Western Australia. These were the only supporters from other States. Most of the Eastern States colonies, with the exception of Tasmania had given up the practice of taking convicts. They openly decried Western Australia for the step taken. Victoria by an Act tried to prevent the influx of convicts from Western Australia.

It is important to realise one fact about the system in Western Australia. In this state the basis principle was to be remedial. There existed an honest desire to produce good citizens, to produce men who could not regard Western Australia as a gaol, but to think of it as a home. Many of the convicts did this and Western Australia profited, as did the convicts, from this principle. The men sent out to Western Australia were of much better character than those sent to Van Dieman's Land. These factors contributed greatly to the system than did the other colonies. This conclusion takes into account that Western Australia had far less in the way of resources than did the other colonies. In an issue of the Perth Gazette it was stated that a man in Western Australia gets twice as much food for 1/8 than a man in England receives for 2/-. This proves a point that conditions in Western Australia, although hard and exacting were not as harsh as those in England. Many convicts realized this point and considered that being sent to Australia to serve a term of punishment for a crime, which was very often brought upon the individual by the poor conditions in England, was a form of improvement and a chance to start a new life i a new land. This proved to be an important factor in the efforts of Western Australia to produce good citizens from convicts who were obviously not really bad. The remedial process had probably much to do with the fact that crime of a serious nature and convict escapes were kept to a minimum during the years of remedial rule. When Governor Hampton took over as governor in 1862 and the emphasis was shifted from remedial to a more harsh form of discipline the amount of crime and escapes seemed to rise considerably.

Battye seems to sum up the position from the point of view of the colonist. He states that to the colonist the convict system meant three things;-
1.The lavish expenditure of British funds.
2.Cheap labour for Public Works.
3.Secure a stream of free immigration paid for by the home authorities.

The British Government did not send out the convict merely to help the colony. English gaols were overflowing with crimes, and a harsh penal code was making the situation worse. These convicts had to be pushed off to somewhere at little expense. Western Australia proved a little expensive but it was the best available, an the British Government lost no time in responding to Western Australia's request for convicts. What then of the convict himself? A young convict who came to a colony such as Western Australia was bound to be better off than to stay in England where he was branded for life. In Western Australia no one knew his crime and most were not interested. If he worked he was accepted. Chances of advancement and better conditions existed in the colonies. The convict knew this and usually responded favourably to the prospect of being transported. The theoretical conditions were ripe for the convicts to come, but now the conditions in the colony must be examined to see how the convicts were received.

Entertainment in Perth Australia

So I got a blockbuster video account, and I have been renting movies. It's just that going to see movies in the theater here is so expensive $15.00 each. I won't be going again anytime soon. We went to see the Wedding Crashers. It had some funny moments, but were were perplexed by the nudity. I regret spending $30 to see it.

In good movie news, I rented a movie called 'Saints and Soldiers' if you can find it at your local video store I highly recommend seeing it. It is a WW2 movie about recognizing the humanity behind the "enemy" soldiers who are, for the most part, just doing their duty to country. These men have wives, children, fathers and mothers who love them just as much as the families of the soldiers on "our" side.

We also fell for a 10 for 10 deal they have. Let me tell you how hard it is to find not just 10 good movies, but 10 movies that you have any interest in seeing at all. If we ever fall for that deal again, we'll be renting four seasons of a televison show that I really liked the first time we saw it. Maybe 13 seasons of Seinfeld.

I'm working on an interesting post about Australia. It's some guy's master's thesis written in 1959 about Fremantle in the 1850's particularly about bringing convicts to Western Australia. I've got about two wordprocessor sheets full so far and I will be posting one chapter at a time because I don't want to overwhelm anybody with 15 pages of text. Besides that's a lot of typing. I haven't decided if I want to interject comments about the things that I have learned or what I feel the short comings of the thesis are. Suffice it to say that I found it very interesting and that I learned a lot about why they brought convicts to WA and the effect that it had.

Expect it later today where you are. Later tomorrow where I am.

-Gary Milner

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Random thoughts on Perth

Life here in Perth is pretty good. It's a quiet, laid back city and it reminds me a lot of Calgary. It's not busy, there aren't a lot of people, and you feel safe walking the streets alone. The people are friendly. Of course, in some ways it's a lot different from Calgary. For one thing, it's the middle of winter (a particularly cold winter according to everyone here) and it's a whopping 20 degrees. Also, there are more beaches than you can shake a stick at.

After spending a few weeks in countries where they drive on the wrong side of the road, I'm finally starting to get used to it. I have conditioned myself to look right and then left. Twice this week though when hitching a ride with someone, I went around to get into the drivers side, thinking I was getting into the passenger side. They thought it was pretty funny.

The city of Perth is to the rest of the world considered a medium sized city of 1.4 million. Here, the city of Perth is a few blocks big only. What I would call a neighborhood, they call a town. Our first day here, we were looking for a road map, and we asked everywhere. We could find maps of Perth (downtown) or Fremantle (another neighborhood), but not of all the neighborhoods. If you want to write us a letter, you will address it to Highgate WA, not Perth WA.

Like Gary said, we found a little flat near the city (aka downtown). We were anxious to get out of a hostel and unpack our bags, but we aren't sure if we'll stay too long. It's a tiny 2 bedroom appartment. Right now, the other bedroom is unoccupied, but a few couples have come to look at it, and anytime now someone is going to move in. Gary and I are already tripping over eachother because it's so small, I'm not sure how we'll handle two more people. Hopefully we get along. We met another couple that live one flat over in the same building. They just got here from NY, both on working visas, so they'll be here as long as we are. She is a RN also, and he is working construction. We have spent some time with them and they are super fun, so we're glad to have some friends.

There are a lot of the same tv shows here as at home, only these guys are way behind. There is advertising for the upcoming season finale of Desperate Housewives, for example. The movies are also behind North America. "Wedding Crashers" comes out next week, and "Perfect Catch" and "Kicking and Screaming" come out in September, although I watched both of those on the plane from Singapore to Perth. It's strange to be behind. On TV, we have been watching Aussie Big Brother, which is almost over, and the new season of Australian Idol has just started. Hopefully they get The OC here. Otherwise Randall and Lynda, you'll have to tape all the new episodes for me. Or not.

I started work for the agency on Saturday. I tell them what hours I want, and they tell me where to show up. I have chosen to work nights and weekends, because you make almost double the money and the shifts are longer. (10 hrs vs 6 hrs) I am making a lot more money than I thought I would be...a lot more than I made in Canada. I have been at 3 different hospitals so far. They have private and public here, so the setting varies quite a bit. I told them I would work med-surg, and all the units so far have been surgical. It's crazy because you just show up to work, having never been to that hospital before, and they need you to handle a full load just like any of the other staff. It always takes the first part of my shift to get acquainted with the layout and organization of the ward, and then it's pretty smooth sailing. I've met a lot of people and already had some crazy experiences, but I'm liking it so far.

At work on Sunday night, one of my patients told me that she loved my accent. This for some reason took me by surprise, and I quickly replied "it's you that has the accent!"

Only one person has said "G'day mate" to me so far. They usually say "How you going?" as a greeting. They all say "Ta" to mean thank you, even when writing notes. Everyone I work with says "Ta". I think it sounds silly, but I'll probably start saying it myself soon enough.

-Tracie

PS: Most of the toilets here seem to flush straight down. The only ones I've seen swirl, have swirled counterclockwise, but they are few and far between. I'll have to do more research on the subject.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Swan River and South Perth

This is a photo of Tracie and me in front of the Swan River in Perth. Across the river on the far bank is South Perth. I found a book of interview with residents of South Perth called, "Across Perth Water: Reminiscences of South Perth" by Janice Gothard and I wanted to copy a few paragraphs for your reading pleasure.

Pioneers
South Perth attracted white settlers from the mid nineteenth century, and descendants of some of the earliest pioneering families still remain in the district. Those who came later found that the area changed little until well after the introduction of regular transport facilities, particularly the ferry and tram services. As John McLay said of 1920's Como, "Might as well live five hundred miles up in the bush!"


The swan river is quite wide and quite deep. It would be difficult to swim across even at the most narrow point even though the water seems to be very calm. Paddling across might be an option, but I can't tell how strong the current is. It seems quite calm and looks a lot like a lake. In any case, not everyone in the 20's would have access to their own boat, and even those that did might not have a boat big enough to be of much use.

Childhood
Growing up in south Perth was characterized by one person as "sheer delight." While many of he experiences of children growing up in South Perth in the early 20th century would be common to other areas, the river and the bush were a particular focus of childhood pleasure. Many people interviewed regretted that the freedom and independence they themselves had known as children were denied to later generations.


This is something that I can understand only too well. Having the coulee's of southern Alberta as my backyard, I had all the freedom a kid could want to go exploring and hunting for lost golf balls in Seven Persons Creek. It's too bad that I'll most likely be spending the rest of my life in cities where my kids won't have that same fun time.

Transport
The ferry service, the coming of the trams to Mends Street and Como in the 1920's, and the construction of the Narrows Bridge and the Kwinana Freeway were all watersheds in South Perth's development, each heralded a new wave of residents and inevitably changes in the peninsula. Both the ferries and trams were well-love institutions, and the passing of the trams and the bridging of the Narrows were sources of sadness for many older South Perth residents.
It would seem that people who had lived their entire lives isolated from the city by being across the water would be sad by the changing infrastructure, and I can imagine that the people interviewed for the book 60+ years later would possibly look back with nostalgia for the days of yesteryear, but I can't imagine the benefits of a bridge not outweighing the population growth and other consequences.

Work
Although South Perth was sometimes characterized as "not a place where you earned your living," but rather seen as a dormitory suburb for commuters, the people who contributed to this section all worked in the district on a paid or unpaid basis, or had business interests there.
It would be like any bedroom community really. Many Airdire residents work in Calgary, but there still many stores and places of entertainment there, not to mention grocery stores and restaurants. Even if you spend most of your time in Calgary, you still bought your house and have repairs and things done with local contracters.

Recreation
The peninsula, with the zoo and Como Beach, was a Mecca for pleasure seekers from the earliest days of the century. Transport again played a vital role in opening up the area's recreation potential, with the ferry ride as part of the day's excitement. For South Perth people, "Entertainment you made yourself", and from this basis of self-reliance grew local community entertainment groups such as the Old Mill theatre. The earlier development of cinemas in South Perth by the Stiles family was also created by local demand.
It would be like getting a car when you are suddenly the world opens up. You can have friends from other neighborhood. Suddenly instead of car-pooling with other older kids to go to the dance you are the driver, a big wheel so to speak among your friends and the people who need a ride to and from the various parties.

Community Service
With its formerly cheap and abundant land, South Perth was an obvious location for institutions as diverse as Clontarf Boys' Home, established by the Christian Brothers on the Canning River in 1901, and Ngal-a Mothercraft Home, opened in 1959 on the old Collier Pine Plantation. It was the strong local spirit of self-help which saw the growth of the South Perth Community Centre Association after the Second World War and also fostered the establishment of the Southern Clinic and the South Perth Community Hospital: These were pioneering institutions in the field of community medical services.
There are lots of towns that are about 100 years old which means that there are probably still a few oldies around that remember the days when the town was just starting up. Books like this one, with interviews with 20 or so people need to be written before it is too late and all that history is lost.

-Gary Milner

Flowershop Girl

A thing I've noticed about Perth, at least is that a lot of like businesses congregate together. Like on this street there are lots of flowershops.
Other streets have restaurants and bars, then there are rows of youth hostels and backpacker related things, like bus trips along the west coast of Australia to see the wave rock or the pinnacle desert. There are also scuba diving trips and boat trips to Rottnest Island.
I'll write more when we go to all of those places, which are on our itinerary.
-Gary Milner

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Fremantle

We rode the train to Fremantle the other day. It was an exciting ride to say the least.
A stop or two out of the Perth city centre, we heard a drunk yelling at a guy in the back of the car that he would smash his head through the window and how arrogant the guy is. The guy must have been in his 50's and the drunk in his 40's.
The old guy got up and went to the security speaker and called for some secuirty guards to come help him as he'd been threatened with his life. Then a few seconds later, he came to the front of the car looking for back up. He found a guy willing to help him and sat down.
The drunk didn't quit yelling how arrogant the old guy was and threatened him some more. Then the old guy and his back up went back to the back of the car and started shouting back at the guy.
The train up until halfway through the route was stopping at every stop, but then was schedueled to go straight though to the end of the line.
In any case suddenly the drunk realized that he was about to miss his stop and he had to race to get himself and his bike off the train.
When the old guy realized what was happening he and his buddy and about 10 witnesses all started loud fake laughing as the drunk got stuck halfway out of the door. He started thrashing to get free and then only his bike was stuck halfway in and halfway out.
Everytime the door giggled a little the roused another round of loud laughter from the crowd. The conductor came on the loudspeaker and asked someone to press the button to let the guy off, but nobody did. They were teaching that guy a lesson. Finnally after loud banging on the door, the engineer must have hit the switch that activated the buttons on the outside of the train, and the drunk hit the button and got away.

We got to Fremantle and started walking toward to ocean. Theweather was pleasent, like a warm spring day. We came to this beach and decided to go wading. It was a small protected beach and so the waves didn't go over a foot or two high. The water was pretty warm, a lot warmer than the water in Vancouver was. It would make for fine swimming on a warm day.
We're thinking of getting a surfboard and a bodyboard to have a good time. It seems to me that I could learn pretty quickly. I'm not sure if I want to go with a longboard or a shortboard but it will be a couple of weeks before we've made enough money here to cover it anyway.
I'm really enjoying backpacking here in Western Australia so far. It will be even better when I can find some temporary work here in Perth.
One major difference I've noticed between here and Calgary is the amount of public drunkeness. Lots of people drink as they walk down the street, and there are way more actual drunks one the street here. In Calgary the only drunks are the homeless people and the underage kids that aren't allowed to go into the bars. Here working guys on their way home are drunk in the street.
Maybe we live in the party neighbourhood and more poeple are walking to and from bars drunk.
In anycase there is more of it here than Calgary.
-Gary Milner

Kangaroo Mashers


Some of the cars in Australia have interesting add-ons. Take these four cars, for example. They have what I call the "Kangaroo Masher" added over the front bumper.
Like the North-American trains with the cow catchers of yester year, the cars here need to have a way of preventing grill damage when driving through herds of Kangaroos.
Not everyone has one though, mainly only country going vehicles have them because, surprisingly, the kangaroos don't frequent the city. They get their pints of Guinness at the country pub.
-Gary Milner

Working Holiday in Australia

Tracie had her first shift today at the Royal Perth Hospital. I hope that it is going ok for her. She opted for an afternoon shift because they are only six hours and she wanted to ease herself into it.
It looks like doing travel nursing in Australia will be more lucrative than we expected especially with the weekend differential. The wage difference for the weekend is quite good.
I did a little sightseeing and shopping but I didn't see much that we hadn't already seen. Perth is a nice quiet town. The stores here are pretty small, and all seem to shut down a little early. There is a Woolworth grocery store near our house, it seems to be the biggest supermarket around here, but it is about a quarter the size of a regular Real Canadian Superstore or about 2/3 the size of the Crescent Heights Safeway store. The stores all seem to close their doors at 6:00pm or 6:30.
What's even worse than closing early is how expensive everything is. Candy type things are just about double their prices in Canada. Chocolate bars are $2.00 and that goes for just about every type of candy and pop.

Today, Tracie was planning on a shift, but got cancelled. She told them she would stay on call. She didn't get called by 8:45pm so we decided to go for a walk. At 9:00 she got called in but we were pretty far from the apartment. We hightailed it home and called a cab.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Temp Agencies in Perth, Australia

Yesterday I went to several temp agencies in order to get signed up for them to help me find a job. The first one we went to was on William St. in Northbridge, in the main backpacker/bar/party area of Perth. When I told her I was looking for something in an office, maybe data entry, the lady said, "There's a 95%, no make that 100% chance that you won't be able to find office work." I told her that I would be willing to do labour or factory work in the city. She said, "There's a 99% chance that you won't find labour in the city, anything we can find you will be out of town and you'll need a car or to live on site or in a hostel nearby."
I'm not really the sheep shearing / olive picking / tree pruning guy that I would have been say eight years ago so I just left to find one of the agencies that we found online. It's pretty much out of the question for Tracie and Ito be separated and I don't see the point of her doing manual labour in the middle of nowhere (the Outback) when she has 5 or 10 hospitals to choose from within walking distance of the trains.
In anycase I went to three staffing agencies that I found online that find people office work. The first one seemed promising, and the thrid one even more so. At the third agency, they tested my computer skills and I had some fairly good results. The consultant said that it was pretty obvious that I know how to use a computer quite well.
The three temping agencies that I found downtown all said that there exist lots of jobs for people on working holiday visas. I'm calling the first one back tomorrow and emailing the third just to make sure that I'm not going anywhere and that I'm serious about finding work through them.
-Gary Milner

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Bob and his prize winning Voyageurs

I went to the fair and I entered a free draw. I just got a phone call telling me that I won the $50 "dinner for two" gift certificate from Kelsey's. I'm so thrilled!

We did good at the fair. Between the two of us we won $66 in the better living section and $80 in the visual arts. I entered him and he let me keep all the money.

Adults can enter two pieces in any one category. When it came time to hand out the awards, they called Dad up to the front and said, "Bob Milner won first place in the Sculpture Category." His picture was promptly taken with the Stampede Queen and Princess. He started to walk away but they told him to stay. It was then announced that Bob also got third place for sculpture. Another picture flashed. He was left standing there between the Stampede Queen and Stampede Princess. The announcer told him he could sit down, "you didn't win second."

It's too bad I don't have a picture of him getting his award, but I do have a photo of the winning sculpture.

More Errands

We found a place to live. It is going to cost $170 per week, it is a shared flat, but right now no one else is living there. We're moving in tomorrow.

We opened a bank account at the Commonwealth Bank. It seemed to be the best because several people told us that they have the most ATM's compared to the other banks. Everyone here seems to have the opinion that the banks rob you blind here. I guess forclosing on widows and orphans just isn't enough, sometimes you need to go after the regular guy too.

I wouldn't have gotten the account but I'm delerious from all the snake and spider bites today.

-Garydile Dundee

Next on the agenda is finding a job for myself, once that's progressing well enough I'll have some time to do a few photos of the tourist things here in Perth.