Significant Individuals in Australian History

Submitted: Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 12:42
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My 10yr old daughter has this subject for a school project. They were asked to come home and have a chat with parents to choose a person. I rattled off a few names and summaries and she chose Len Beadell. Got to be happy with that. She has travelled on just about every one of Len's roads, been photographed at most of the trees, monuments, junctions etc and has been to Maralinga, Emu etc, so she can connect with his work and meaning of what he did. They had to go back to school and tell the teacher who they'd chosen and then in class they started brainstorming their ideas to start planning their talk. The teacher didn't know who was Len Beadell and then we found there was very little information on the internet or in the school library. Luckily for the ExplorOz shop (and overnight courier service) I was able to buy the DVD and Book. Now to summarise into a 3 minute talk!
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Reply By: Mick O - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 13:07

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 13:07
A sad indictment on the way we regard our own history is regarded in our education system. While I can almost forgive them not knowing about Len Beadell, I find it somewhat incredible that a person may finish High School in this country without having heard of Bourke and Wills, Leichhardt, Stuart or Gregory. It's almost as if Australia began with the ill fated Gallipoli landings! While this may have contributed to shaping our National identity I believe the things that truley made us Australian were developed on the backs of many good pioneers in the 140 years before this.


It was our early explorers who actually allowed and encouraged this country to expand through their endeavours. Watkins Tench and his wanderings about Botany Bay, Blaxland, Lawson & Wentworth, allowing the breakout through the Blue Mountains, The Gregory brothers of WA, Mitchell, Sturt, Stuart, Gosse, Giles, Carnegie, Terry just to mention a few (some not that old either). How their efforts are largely forgotten in the modern education system is beyond me.

Any way enough whinging. Good luck Michelle. Timely as I just mentioned a bit about Len building the Gary Junction Road in my latest blog offering.

Cheers

Mick


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Follow Up By: Member - Andrew & Jen - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 13:39

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 13:39
Mick O

Ah, Watkins Tench. Almost unknown.

Michelle, you might like to get hold of a copy of "The Journal of Watkins Stench" by Meredith Hooper. Although it is written for 9-12 year olds, it is a wonderful and imaginative story about a young black rat who has arrived in a strange port (Port Jackson)

Cheers
Andrew
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Follow Up By: SDG - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 15:48

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 15:48
Ask some high school kids the name of Captain Cooks boat.
Don't be surprised if they ask who he is.
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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 20:14

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 20:14
The Stockmans Hall of Fame in Longreach has a brilliant interactive display on Australian explorers.
You push a button and it lights up the route of the respective explorer across a relief map of Australia.

It's such a pity the kids of today are not getting to know the real history of this country.
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 12:08

Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 12:08
Mick,
An even sadder legacy of our "education" system is its failure to address the why and wherefore of what has happened, and to put events into some sort of meaningful context that shows how and why those past events still resonate today.

Why did the explorers do what they did, why did the pastoralists and miners spread out in their wake? Might it have anything to do with the Industrial and Scientific revolution in England and Europe, accompanied by huge social changes (think urbanisation, Irish famine, Pax Britannica, population growth to name just a few major trends of the Victorian Era). Our current distaste for anything that smacks of English/British history serves us very poorly simply because much of what we are today in Australia had its roots in what happened far away and long ago. No wonder so many of our young people are adrift!

Cheers,

Val.
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 13:31

Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 13:31
And to follow by coming full circle back to Len Beadell whose explorations saw him push roads through vast expanses of our most remote country. He didn't do all that on a whim or because he thought it might be a good idea. He did what he did because the British wanted to test nuclear devices. Why did they want to do that, and why did they want to do it in Australia? Some reasons: because of developments in scientific knowledge about radiation dating back at least to Marie Curie; because of the use of an atomic bomb on Japanese cities during WW2; because of the cold war between Russia and Europe and America and the need for secrecy/security... and so on.

History really only makes sense when it is seen in context, which is one reason why its often not well taught or well received by schoolkids.

Cheers,

Val.
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Reply By: Ivan68 - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 13:23

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 13:23
What a great choice. However a very difficult task to summarise his deeds into a three minute talk. Good luck.
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Reply By: Krooznalong - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 13:24

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 13:24
Great choice - he was a significant individual, although as you have found out, not widely recognised.
It's wonderful that your daughter gets to educate her mates. I'm sure the atomic bomb part of the story will get their attention (the surveying and road building aspects may be a little less enthralling for them).
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Reply By: Sludgie W.A - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 13:26

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 13:26
And we mustn't forget Frank Hann who probably covered more of Western Australia's northwest and east than any one else. I am sure he named more sites in his explorations than any other explorer. He also did extensive work in Queensland as well.

Sludgie
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Reply By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 13:51

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 13:51
Yeah - my Dad & I have had this discussion on the road over various campfires. Apart from Len & obvious explorers, we've come the the conclusion that probably the greatest or most significant Australian from history would probably be John Flynn.

Apart from the Inland Mission & eventually the RFDS, he was also responsible for supporting Alf Treagar with development of the pedal radio, user of airplanes for rescue, and the RFDS Network lead to the school of the air. He also had a hand in assisting in the initial governance and set up of the CWA.

Name any other Australian who did more than Flynn in bring the remote parts of our country together.
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 14:15

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 14:15
I would not say more or less, but add Alf Traeger and the pedal radio.
Like Len, another from Adelaide town :)

Cheers,
Peter
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Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 15:24

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 15:24
Peter, agree .... however Flynn sponsored & funded Traeger ....
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Reply By: Member - Bruce and Di T (SA) - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 13:55

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 13:55
Michelle,

If your daughter has travelled theses roads, has photographs of them, has read the plaques etc scattered throughout then her knowledge should not have required her do any further research. Her primary knowledge should have been enough and primary research is the best there is.

I believe she would have had enough information garnered from trips and you to present an excellent 3 minute talk on Len Beadell. Her speech should be riveting due to her knowledge and experience.

Di
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 14:34

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 14:34
Thanks Bruce,
Whilst I agree, she has needed our help to "remind" her she's been to these places ;) The DVD was helpful. We watched it last night and she kept recognising places so I think that really helped. The trip to Maralinga was only last August so still current in her mind.
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Follow Up By: Member - Bruce and Di T (SA) - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 19:51

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 19:51
Michelle,

It was Di not Bruce who responded to your post and I signed it as Di.

As parents that's part of your 'job' in your children's education; support; which is just what you have indicated.

I'm sure she will do a brilliant job.

Di
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Follow Up By: Member - Bruce and Di T (SA) - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 19:57

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 19:57
Forgot to say that Len was a South Australian.

Di
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Follow Up By: Sludgie W.A - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 20:42

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 20:42
Well said.
Sludgie
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Follow Up By: Aussi Traveller - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 21:54

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 21:54
Di Len was born in West Pennant hills NSW.

Phil
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Reply By: Erad - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 14:13

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 14:13
There is a National Trust property near Launceston which has, amongst other things, a very large map hung on a wall. This map plots the major exploration treks done by the early explorers. Sorry, I cannot remember the property, but whereever it is, the map, or a good copy of it should be placed in the National Library and other places of significance throughout this land.

The exploits of Burke & Wills come to light starkly when you stand at the Dig Tree and read their story. OK - they were crazy, but they had the drive to go out and see what was there. To stand at the base of Chambers Pillar and look around to realise that pioneers walked this country, their pack animals carrying all their supplies, whilst we drive out there in air-conditioned, softly sprung 4WD's - that makes you think about those brave souls who opened up the country for us to follow. They were all heroes - most of them remain unknown to this day.
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Reply By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 14:40

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 14:40
Yes, I was initially rather surprised to learn the teachers didn't know of Len. I keep forgetting our interest in the outback is niche indeed. After talking about our trip to Maralinga last year, we realised very few of our friends had ever heard of it/knew atomic bombs had been released here. Seems it really was a rather hush hush part of Australia's history - significant though! I think her talk will indeed be difficult to make riveting but it will be original. I'm hoping to find some great "stories" that she can use to "impress" the audience, but so far the stories I've found are interesting to adults and those from the era that would appreciate the harsh reality of his work. Kids today (and some adults) are a hard case to impress! It's all .... "meh!"
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Follow Up By: Member - John - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 16:17

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 16:17
One story that may impress is the one about the ration truck burning and Len shooting the boiling water tank to make a cup of tea........... very impressive.
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Follow Up By: Member - Leigh (Vic) - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 18:52

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 18:52
I also have some recall about Connie Sue being transported all around the desert in a tea chest in the back of Len's Landrover.......no ADR sticker required then!
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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 19:17

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 19:17
Hate to ruin a good story, but Len shooting a hole in that water tank and making a cuppa was just a good embellishment for his book.

Len was a very good bush story teller when the need arose :)
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Follow Up By: Member - John - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 19:26

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 19:26
since when has the truth ever got in the way of a good story...................
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 14:40

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 14:40
Emily Caroline Creaghe.
You will need to Google this one :)

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Reply By: Member - colin J (VIC) - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 16:10

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 16:10
Hi all,

Sir Hubert Wilkins is one of the greatest Australians ever. There are so many achievements and accolades bestowed on this guy.

It is a great shame that more do not know of him, but if you take the time to learn about him and what he did you will forever remember him and one of our greatest.

Col.
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Follow Up By: Member - Graeme W (NSW) - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 16:26

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 16:26
There's a very good book about him called Hubert Who? by Malcolm Andrews. It was only published in 2011 so should be still available.

His original house has been restored and can be visited near Mount Bryan in SA. I think Dick Smith was involved with the funding. Burra tourist info centre has the details if anyone is in the area.

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Follow Up By: Member - colin J (VIC) - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 16:51

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 16:51
Hi Graeme,

The book I have is The Last Explorer by Simon Nasht. An absolutely brilliant read.
On the back cover this is said,

"A war hero, photographer, reporter, prolific writer, spy, scientist, naturalist, ornithologist and gifted aviator, Wilkins was the most remarkable explorer of the twentieth century- no one before or since has discovered more previously unknown land or sea"

"The Last Explorer details the astonishing exploits, intelligence and tenacity of an authentic hero- and celebrates the life and times of a truly extraordinary man. His name is one we all should never forget"

"A superb book. Every Australian should read it" Dick Smith.

Col.

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Reply By: scruffy - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 17:53

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 17:53
Harry Redford, Ned Kelly, Capt Starlight just to name a few. Bob
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Follow Up By: NTVRX - Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 03:37

Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 03:37
Do not agree with naming Edward Kelly. Without getting into specifics & starting a war of words. Kelly was a murderer,thief & shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath as our magnificent explorers & pioneers. IMHO.
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Follow Up By: Hairy (NT) - Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 10:11

Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 10:11
NTVRX,

"Significant Individuals in Australian History"
I don't think many people would disagree that the Ned Kelly story is significant.......
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Reply By: Member - Tony H (touring oz) - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 18:22

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 18:22
Hi Michelle,
While reading your post,.... I sort of pre emted what you were going to say......so sad really,..... Im sure your daughter will do a wonderful presentation on Len Beadell.
And I'm sure Doug T will be reading this post & in a couple of weeks on a Sunday morning we will learn more about wonderful 'forgotten' names..... not really forgotten.
I really would love to be in the classroom when your daughter gives her presentation!
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Reply By: get outmore - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 18:32

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 18:32
len Beadel came to the town hall years ago for his talk on his books

A few people will throw in worthy votes but one that may be a bit left of field
is
Colin Theile
ptobablly the most prolific writer of uniquely australian stories for Children/young adults

Stories like flash flood
flip flop and the tiger snake
February Dragon (my favourite)
Blue Fin
Storm Boy
Magpie island (another favourite)
sun on the stubble
fire in the stone
albatross one

all graced our bookshelfs as kids
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Reply By: Member - John (Vic) - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 19:21

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 19:21
Len Beadell is regarded as that last of the great Australian explorers.
I have always thought he should be properly recognised alongside the likes of our other well regarded explorers.

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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 19:40

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 19:40
Topical article here on Robert O'Hara Bourke's pistol. Good to see these items in a safe place.

Cheers,

Val
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Reply By: Member - Rob D (NSW) - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 20:27

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 20:27
I worked at Weapons Research Establishment in Salisbury S.A. from the late 60's to mid 80's. Len Beadell was working there as a graphic artist at the time and produced a number of artworks for the projects I was working on so I worked with him on a number of occasions. His achievements were far less well known then than they seem to be now.

I also met Alf Traeger at an engineering conference in Adelaide in the early 70's, but to be perfectly honest, at the time, I did not know about his role in developing the pedal radio.

My public education history classes were all about British and European history with not a mention of Australian history; what a pity.

I have a keen interest in history now and in my opinion, Sir John Monash would have to be one of the greatest Australians of all time.
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Reply By: Member - Fab72 (Paradise SA) - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 21:18

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 21:18
Charles Kingsford Smith
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Follow Up By: Member - Fab72 (Paradise SA) - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 21:21

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 21:21
Tom Kruse, Madigan, Goyder, The Leyland Bros....the list goes on.
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Follow Up By: Member - Damien L (Cairns) - Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 23:18

Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 23:18
William Hann, James Venture Mulligan, Far north Qld gold and other minerals and pasture lands
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Reply By: Member - john y - Saturday, Apr 12, 2014 at 11:19

Saturday, Apr 12, 2014 at 11:19
So far much has been made of explorers and rightly so , but I think that some of the writers who contributions helped mould our Australian psyche going forward at that time,such as Henry Lawson and Banjo Patterson are worthy of note. Regards john y
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Follow Up By: Member - Bruce and Di T (SA) - Saturday, Apr 12, 2014 at 11:37

Saturday, Apr 12, 2014 at 11:37
As did many of our ancestors who lived, worked and travelled in these outback areas. I marvel at my great great grandmother who brought up 11 children in remote outback Queensland in the late 1800's. Her first husband died and later my great great grandfather came on the scene, brought up her children by her first marriage, their own and others.

This area is still considered remote, even today.

Di
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Reply By: The Bantam - Saturday, Apr 12, 2014 at 11:33

Saturday, Apr 12, 2014 at 11:33
We are now a couple of generations down the track since real Australian history has been taught in our schools....we are now teacing children and young adults things most will have no use for in later life.....treaching art, drama, media production and industrail design may all be worthy ideas.....but less the 1% of the students studying these subjects will ever earn a living from them.

I think too a lot if this has fallen by the way side because their activities do not fall in with political correctness.

I am sure many Aboriginals will view Jacky Jacky as a trator rather than a hero that saved Kenedy's life.

I am sure very few white or black hear the whole story of Albert Namajura....one of the worlds greatest landscape painters....though it could shine much light on some issues.

I am sure it just seems to hard to tell the whole truth about some of the great figures of Australian history......because they are all flawed humans like the rest of us.

Combine what the white Australian establishment dont want heard and what black Australia find offencive, what the greenies don't like and the commercial establishment want to surpress and there is not much history left to tell.


Oh and of course our televisions are so chocked full of murder, sport, reality television and imported overseas content there is very little room for the Australian documentaries of the past like we saw from Jack Absalom, the Leyland brothers and Less hiddens Et all...all of which had slabs of history mortatred together with adventure and good information.

Sad...very sad
cheers
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Reply By: Alloy c/t - Saturday, Apr 12, 2014 at 14:53

Saturday, Apr 12, 2014 at 14:53
It really depends on time frame /era that the Teacher is wanting the project to address , tis a long road from James Cook through to Peter Cosgrove with hundreds of thousands in between who have all made significant contribution to Australian history…...
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Apr 12, 2014 at 21:30

Saturday, Apr 12, 2014 at 21:30
Hi Michelle


Great subject, and I know one that I bet very few would have ever heard of, and my great grandfather was a member of his expedition in the late 1800's..............Hubbe.



Now let them see if they can find out when and where he went.......lol



Cheers


Stephen
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Follow Up By: equinox - Saturday, Apr 12, 2014 at 21:41

Saturday, Apr 12, 2014 at 21:41
Hi Stephen,

Here's a little hint for them:

South Australian Stock Route Expedition

Hope all is well in Clare.....


Looking for adventure.
In whatever comes our way.
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 08:31

Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 08:31
Hi Al

That's only the return part of the expedition after the main part was undertaken.

As you know, they departed from Oodnadatta and basically followed the the then unknown SA/NT Border then in through the uncharted country around Warburton, they beat Mr Carnegie to Mt Alexander, then more uncharted country west of Laverton then down to Coolgardie, which was the official end of the expedition.

As for Clare, it's been ducks weather. Many outer areas had over 120mm of rain while we only had 90mm.

I bet you are busy preparing for this years adventure?

On another note, I notice we visited Decoration Cave. As we will be in that area, is is worth the detour?



Cheers



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Follow Up By: equinox - Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 11:27

Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 11:27
Hi Stephen,
The Hubbe - Patience Well connection is a good one too!!!

You've certainly had a lot more rain than we have had here.

Decoration Cave is the only feature for miles around so probably worth a visit. Unless you are a speleologist though it is basically just a hole in the ground going straight down. How they found it in the first place is beyond me. I kept Massie in the ute as I was scared she would fall in.

Cheers
Alan

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Reply By: equinox - Saturday, Apr 12, 2014 at 21:43

Saturday, Apr 12, 2014 at 21:43
Yagan, Jandamarra, Mabo


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In whatever comes our way.
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Reply By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 13:55

Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 13:55


Here's one that heaps won't know about, James Tyson. Even bailed the QLD government out once when they were almost broke.

Oh And by the way he was my great great uncle. So I am told.

But I will say that what is significant for one is not for another so that's how we lose this history.

Phil

Who was James Tyson

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