Category Archives: Western Australia

A Story From My Youth

Being unbelievably ancient, stories of my youth stretch back into the late 1940’s.

Dad had come back from the war in the Pacific and my parents presented me with a younger brother. Dad went farming. Farm labouring in the West Australian Wheatbelt. Sowing and harvesting wheat and feeding a flock of sheep on the stubble. He was paid a small wage with keep. A house and a sheep per week. We moved around a bit but that was another story and not really understood by my young ears.

Anyway, this is a story which took place on a farm probably just outside a small town called Dalwallinu in the Spring of about 1949.

There was no scheme water so we had to rely on stored rain water in the tank. Baths were in three inches of water after everyone else had bathed. Younger brother and I cleaned our teeth leaning over the edge of the verandah with a glass of water in our hand. The ground was gravel and about three feet down. Quite a drop when you are little.

One of the perks of farm life was the collection of pets and animals in a child’s life. We had Skip, the Red Cloud Kelpie who couldn’t see through the stubble so he stood up on his hind legs to see where the sheep were. Then he would drop down and sort those ovines out. Skip’s Mum had done the same thing.

Then there were the orphaned lambs. Mum had a soft spot for them and we often had a baby lamb which needed feeding and so lived around the house. Eventually they were weaned and sent back to the flock.

The year I was five Lambsie was a nice friendly little pet. As tends to happen with young animals, it got a bit bigger and started hanging around us. It was included in our games. It always kept an eye on us when we cleaned our teeth with Kolynos toothpaste and our little glass of water.

Time passed. Possibly a month or two. We noticed that Lambsie was developing little bumps on its head. Dad explained that it was going to be a ram and those bumps were baby horns.

Eventually the natural thing happened. One evening we were standing on the edge of the verandah cleaning our teeth when instinct kicked in. Lambsie lined younger brother up and butted him off the verandah. He fell all the way down to the ground. Where he got quite angry.

I made the mistake of laughing and was leaning over the edge to see the fallen heap down there on the ground. Lambsie then dealt with me! Together, down there on the gravel, we were both teary and very angry with Lambsie. We demanded, in our four and five year-old way that Dad do something about him.

Lambsie disappeared.

The next Sunday we had our roast dinner. Younger brother asked what had happened to Lambsie and Dad told us that he was our dinner.

Being little boys and harbouring a lot of resentment against Lambsie we ate on with greater relish! And extra mint sauce.


Venerable Old Stuff

Here in Western Australia we look after all our old stuff.

Old Growth forests are protected by Law – unless they are needed by woodchippers

Old buildings are kept in pristine condition. Unless a developer wants them

However I have finally found something old which we do revere.

Old Growth Concrete.

Old Growth Concrete

The Burrup Desecration

ISIL and Colin Barnett

YES, there IS a connection.

Earlier this year we were horrified to learn that ISIL, in its barbarous rampage across parts of the Middle East had destroyed the ancient cities of Ninevah and Nimrud. They burnt the library at Mosul which contained 8,000 irreplaceable ancient manuscripts. The UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova called the destructions in Mosul a violation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2199, and the destruction of Nimrud a war crime.

Now Colin Barnett, Premier of Western Australia, has decided that the Burrup Peninsula Rock Art should no longer be afforded the protection of being a Sacred Site. “Burrup Peninsula ‘deregistered’ as sacred site“. The first step in degrading and destroying this irreplaceable site of world-wide importance. All in the name of Industrial Development.  Once the thin edge of the wedge is allowed in, there will be gradual encroachment onto wider areas, destructive vandalism and many “Mia Culpas” from those who should be caring for this site. Yet a million mia culpas will not restore damaged art works to their pristine condition!

Colin Barnett is Australia’s ISIL!

What is “the Burrup”?

The “Burrup” is an ancient site, possibly six or eight times the age of Ninevah. A place where indigenous people recorded the world around them. It is still unknown whether this work was done as a religious duty, a record for future generations or simply for the joy of creating something as simple as ancient graffiti.

MurujugaKnown by the local indigenous peoples as “Murujuga” it is a petroglyph or rock engraving art gallery which dates back to before the last Ice Age. To a time when the living was relatively easy because there was time to spare from survival which was spent creating these labour-intensive works. To a time which included a period when the coastline was many kilometres to the West.

To comprehend how long ago that was, the Noongar peoples of South-West Australia have important oral tales of the Nyitting Times which means ‘cold,’ ‘cold time’ or ‘ancestral times.’ Noongar people know it as the Creation time. Tales dating back to the last Ice Age which ended some 13,000 years ago when there was good hunting on the land between the current coast and Rottnest Island.

The Australian Geographic reported in 2013, “One group of petroglyphs showing land-based animals, is thought to date from a time during the last ice age, when sepetroglyphsa levels were lower and the area was far inland. “

By measuring levels of Berylllium 10, a radioactive isotope that accumulates in the surfaces of rocks because of radiation from space and indicates how long they have been exposed to the elements, (results) support the idea that some of the rock art predates the last ice age, which occurred around 22,000 years ago, says Dr Ken Mulvaney, an archaeologist with Rio Tinto who produced the most recent age estimates based on the style of the art and weathering patterns.

The erosion “is such a slow process that the petroglyphs could remain visible for 60,000 years,” says Ken, who adds that neither he nor Brad (Professor Brad Pillans) think the rock art actually is that old.  Based on current evidence people only arrived in this part of Australia sometime between 35,000 and 42,000 years ago”, he says.


There have been a number of efforts to preserve the Burrup for posterity.

  •  2002; The National Trust of Australia (WA) and the Hon. Robin Chapple MLC nominated the Burrup Peninsula to the National Trust Endangered Places List
  •  2003; the World Monuments Fund added it to its list of Most Endangered Places-the first time an Australian place had been included.
  • 2004; the National Trust, the Native Title Claimants and Robert Bednarik, President of the International Federation of Rock Art Organisations, nominated the Dampier Archipelago to the National Heritage list, under the new Commonwealth heritage legislation.
  • 2007; Australian National Heritage listing. (in 2009, Jenny Gregory wrote
  • 2009 ;  This cultural landscape continues to be threatened by industrial development. Rock art on the eastern side of the archipelago, on the Burrup Peninsula, was relocated following the discovery of adjacent off-shore gas reserves so that a major gas plant could be constructed. Work has now begun on the construction of a second major gas plant nearby.) So much for National Heritage!
  • 2012; the 2012 Report by the Australian Heritage Council, reported that the The Dampier Peninsula meets UNESCO Outstanding Universal Values criteria for World Heritage listing.


This Burrup petroglyph may be one of the oldest carved faces in the world. (Credit: Ken Mulvaney)

This Burrup petroglyph may be one of the oldest carved faces in the world. (Credit: Ken Mulvaney)




Claims have been made that since 1963, 24.4 percent of the rock art on Murujuga has been destroyed to make way for industrial development. (Robert G. Bednarik, Dampier Fact Sheet, October 2006)   The Western Australian government, responding to a question in parliament, has argued for a much lower figure, suggesting that approximately 4 percent of sites, representing approximately 7.2 percent of petroglyphs, have been destroyed since 1972. . Hon. John Ford, answer to question on notice, Western Australia Legislative Council Hansard, 16 August 2005.
A classic apples and oranges response.

Still, as the Western Australian government has noted, there is no complete inventory of rock art in the region,(WA Department of Industry and Resources, Burrup Peninsula, Frequently Asked Questions,) making assessments of current and future impacts on the site a challenging task.  (How convenient)   Even more interesting is the fact that none of the online references used in the above quote from Wikipedia is still online. Cue deserved conspiracy theory!


Western Australia has a culture of tearing down its history. Whenever a city building is old enough, it is torn down and replaced with a modern concrete and glass monstrosity and pristine bushlands are cleared for industrial sites.

This does not bode well for a site which is in the way of short-term industrialisation.

There is no financial benefit to having those petroglyphs. Certainly not in a time of the dumbing down of Australia. Some may well be placed in museums around the country. the rest will be moved, rearranged, graffitied and any excess will be dumped,destroyed or reused as building fill!

On the East Coast we are seeing the ISIL-like destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.

On the West Coast we will see the ISIL-like destruction of the Great Burrup Art Gallery.



101 Things To Do With A Swan River #16

I’m afraid someone has found the plug and pulled it.

The Swan River is draining. In fact it is nearly empty!

This was the scene at Maylands yesterday.


101 Things To Do With A Swan River #14

You can sit in it for so long that things begin to grow on you!


This is a part of a jetty upstream from Claisebrooke.


Go Dockers

Go Dockers

It’s In Their DNA

Back in 2009, Colin Barnett won an election with a glad-handed promise to build a rail line to the big new outer Metro suburb of Ellenbrook.barnett

He broke that promise. He substituted “improved” bus access.

In 2013 he made the same promise because WA is a boom state. It deserves these bright shiny toys and Mark McGowan had made a fully costed proposal for bigger and better railways which cost less than Barnett was able to offer.

About 48 hours before the election he explained that his plan would be financed by the Commonwealth. A Commonwealth Government everyone expects to be run by his mate Tony Abbott.

It seems that his ability to run a Government successfully is dependent, not on the business success of the State but on the generosity of a Commonwealth Government.

Today, in Melbourne, Tony explained clearly, to another mate, that his Government does not “do” railway infrastructure.

It does roads.

So Colin Barnett is just going to have to break the same election promise two electoral cycles in a row! More fool us for thinking any other outcome was likely.

Breaking promises. It’s in his DNA!

After watching “Check-out” tonight, on the ABC, I’m wondering if it is possible to return the Barnett Government to the Electoral Commission and get our votes back.

If that fails, should we take Barnett and his lying mouth to Consumer Affairs?