Did I mention the choko vine; this vine vegetable was is a fairly bland thing, shaped like a pear, green with prickles and greenish flesh. Cut in slices and boiled as a rule and served with a hot meal it helped to supplement the plate and nourish one.

Sneaky companies used a recipe borrowed from my Grand Ma, (fibs), the choko was skinned sliced and boiled, sugar syrup was prepared using sugar, water and some treacle.

Chokos are taking over.
The chokos were cooled, covered in syrup and placed in the ice cabinet, served with plumb pudding and custard; one was hard pressed not to say they weren’t pears. Hence the reference to “sneaky companies”.

Now, I have a recipe you might like to try;

Par boil fairly small-halved vegetable / fruit until just firm. Add some hot sauce, Wooster of course, to the hollow area where the seed came from.

Prepare some bacon by cutting into pieces so as just to cover the slices, place the prepared chokos under the griller and heat until the bacon is just cooked, you had grated some spicy Bega cheese, sprinkle the cheese over the bacon and return to the griller, cook until runny and a little brown, pepper and salt, Farley’s Kilpatrick, enjoy.

For supper, Grand Ma would heat water on the vent top of the black upright kerosene heater, prepare some ARNOTT’S “Sao” biscuits by slicing garlic knobs and the spicy Bega cheese. To the hot water she would add Cocoa, that’s supper, Palmer St. fashion.


Must tell you about the medicine cupboard, about every week or so a preparation of sulfur and honey was administered, this was to keep away the coughs and colds.

When the plumbing got blocked you got to take Epsom Salts, Condies Crystals in a solution of warm water helped with mobile dandruff, iodine was used for scratches and abrasions, boils were treated by application of calico bandage with a small hole cut in it, you pull down on the boil to extricate the mess.

For relief from the “morning after”, a dose of bi-carbonate and citric acid helped with an aspirin, foot problems? Salt water and Condies Crystals, copper sulphate. So Grandma could cure “coughs and colds and itchy holes and pimples on the knackers”.


The bird, the bloody Galah. We came home from Bundemar Sheep Station with our pet bird, I was about 10ish and it ruled the tenement for several years. Although its wings were never trimmed, “squawker” never flew away it simply fluttered and walked everywhere leaving odd jobs here and there.


He had a cage and seed and water but the door was seldom closed accept at a night time when a cover was placed over it. Basically the bird lived on the nearest shoulder in particular Grandma’s.

There is photo in the newspaper archives showing her and the bird in the Domain Park on Sunday morning, a place she would frequent often to listen to the radical left and right wingers orate standing on a box.

Sydney Domain Spruiker, orator and radical commentator
Sydney Domain Spruiker, orator and radical commentator

All types of people would voice their opinions on any matter they felt strongly enough; it was great to hear the mixed audience heckle and cajole the speakers. There would be several speakers within meters of each other all with a small crowd of onlookers.

The bird would sit happily on Grandma’s shoulder as she circulated through the assemblage, no doubt thinking what a bunch of wankers, the bird that is wanker was an unknown adjective to her, put simply its indicates a person of doubtful intellect, some of these people were actually very out there.

One-day “squawker”, simply put, fluttered his wings and flucked off over the back fence in the direction of Kings Cross these days Galahs are quite coastal, his precedence? Is out there, he left us with broken heart but with a legacy of remembering some of his tricks, like rolling up a pencil in a piece of paper and then proceeding to shred the pencil and the paper into tiny pieces, remembering his peculiar pigeon toed way of walking, loved ya.


Thursday, October 11, 2007, have just completed two long shifts during a State Emergency, Lismore City NSW was trashed on Tuesday by a violent hail storm, it caused heart breaking damage to houses and cars and infrastructure and crops. Our area of the Byron Shire suffered as well and we went “Operational” dispatching SES crews and NSWFB and RFS and VRA people to fix the mess at about 20 locations, Lismore had over 500 calls for assistance. Hailstones were tennis ball size.

By an in creditable coincidence as a trainer I had been present at Lismore during a Storm and Water Damage course the previous Saturday, we had taken our candidates for a walk discussing various roof structures and how we would provide temporary repairs.

One of the buildings we observed was the Splendid Catholic Church resplendent with a very steep slate roof and the beautiful lead glass, regrettably no more.


Back to past, going fishing on Sunday with Uncle Chris. We loved to fish for Luderick, a blackfish with light vertical stripes. We had three piece split cane rods and a small reel, fishing bags with floats and spare line and split sinkers and the secret green weed and cabbage weed collected around the harbor, aaaannnndd the wonderful black Harley Davidson and sidecar. And a bottle of “Nellie” for Chris.

We traveled far and wide in search for the Luderick, like Watsons Bay, Nilsson Park, The Spit, Lady Macquaries Chair / Point, Lillee Pilly, Lugano, Bobbin Head, Manly and many other places around Sydney. Chris has decided Watsons Bay is the go.

Date: Sunday, possibly Feb. 1952, about 7am, loaded the Harley, packed some sandwiches and cordial and the “nellie”, intrigued? And off. Out the double gates drives Chris while I close them and clamber into the cocoon of the sidecar and proceed on our journey to Watsons Bay. We will travel up William St to The Cross, down Bayswater Rd., past Rushcutters Bay, Potts Point, Double Bay, Elizabeth Bay, Rose Bay. We pass close by Neilson Park where we also fish, {some times catch the ferry), through Vaucluse past the infamous “Gap”, down the hill to Watsons Bay and park the Bike.

That didn’t take long will it, time frame about 25 mins. from home. We grab our gear and head for the ferry wharf, we set up our position and assemble our rods, commence to bait the hooks, bugger, forget to describe the “burley”.

Now any fisher person will tell you that the fish need enrichments and burley is the secret, and Chris will forgive me for letting the cat out of the bag, no you cat lovers, no cat fur! We would mix beach sand and finely shredded green weed and cabbage weed in a canvas sack, I dread to say our secret addition was some rock crabs pulverized and added and all was keep moist, so now you know why the older man and the young fella would catch fish 4:1.

Several hours were spent fishing and talking, Chris never talked about war things, however we would chat away and exchange banter with visitors enjoying the sights of Sydney. Of course we had hand lines and would fish for other species if the Luderick were slow, using our secret burley.

“PLONK, IT WARMS YOU UP”, Quote: Christopher Lovegrove.

From time to time the observer will notice the older man sipping from a bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag, it’s the “nellie”. All right, try Penfolds Brown Muscat, a nourishing and warming drink good for the health, so Uncle Chris said.


When we have had enough, and that could be several hours because fishermen are very patient, it would be time to head home to Palmer Street. We would wander down the wharf, clean our fish, pack the gear in the boot of the sidecar and the the big leather bags attached to the “power unit”, gently place the dismantled rods in their covers beside me.

It was then or maybe another day I noticed the distant look on Uncle Chris’s face the “nellie” had taken effect, as a young boy trust was inseparable from respect although wise in the streets. Half way up the hill from Watsons Bay was a very sharp left hander, I realize now that Chris took the corner forgetting about the sidecar and its young occupant, we struck the gutter with the sidecar tire.

Up in the air goes the sidecar with me hanging on with great trepidation, and for an eternity the bike and I am airborne. My grammar is crap but you have the picture, down we came and we proceeded home at a slower than usual pace and had fish for tea. This experience did not faze me from other fishing experiences; in fact we went too many fishing holes later including The Spit Bridge.


Before the bridge piles were flashed with copper sheathing huge colonies of a bi-valve thing called mussels grew on the wooden piles, Chris and I would collect a harvest and bring them home to provide a meal for the family, want a recipe?;

A large heavy skillet is needed, some butter, some garlic, pepper and salt, flour and Wooster and mustard and some chives, home grown. Add the Mussels’ and the sauce heat until the valves open.

Previous; prepare a sauce of plain flour and Wooster and salt and pepper and mustard. and spoon the sauce on and add chopped chives. Oh yeah, Chris and I had been to Bennelong Steps, that’s where the magnificent Opera House is now, and caught several small yellow tail, preparation; brush the small scales off with a small wire brush, cook the fish with heads and guts lightly in olive oil and add with the mussels.

Don’t use these ingredients from the harbor now.

So that the CIA, ASIO and the THOUGHT POLICE don’t monitor our conversation we must observe secrecy for the following foray into the “Big Bang” story. Somewhere I discovered that some Nitrate substance and Sulfur as a mixture would produce a colorful blue explosion. We would use a hollow key and a nail, fill the key with the concoction, attach a string and belt the explosive against the wall.

Hang on I have an Email, Mr. Farley be careful, signed Mr. Bush, CIA, FBI, NCIS, ASIO

Before they come to take me away a large bolt and a nut was prepared in the back yard of 112 on the ground with a quantity of this substance inside the nut, a yard broom of a triangular dimension was used to drive the bolt into the nut, BLUE BANG, RESULT; no broom head, no bolt, no tea. What was the question? Oh last cigarette?


Get out of here! I think my head is dislocated. These experiences were in a period between 1947 / 1949 I think; the memories have been consistent in my minds eye so that makes it all authentic and largely true.


Prior to and in between these adventures we lived in the city, these are other stories. At this stage I will try to relate some facts on my schooling which conversely will demonstrate how much we travellllllllled.

In some sort of order Plunkett Street Woolloomooloo was my first school, followed by Blackfriars Correspondence School, then Plunkett Street, and then; Katoomba Catholic Primary, St Bernards College Katoomba, Bega Primary, Milton Primary, Coolah Primary, (how am I going), Nambucca Heads primary, Yamba primary, Plunkett Street, Darlinghurst Junior Technical School, Telopea Park High (ACT), Carrathool Primary, (that can’t be right) slip it in between before “Darlo”.

My schooling concluded at good old “Darlo”, that’s near Kings Cross, year (9) was as far as I got, the Intermediate Certificate and plenty of “new boy scars”, don’t worry I gave plenty back, incidentally all of these schools are in N.S.W., good old OZ.

At no time then and certainly not now did your writer hold any remorse to any person for the constant upheaval, particularly my Mum and Dad, bullies and yes, there is a step father in there. These were times to remember and relish, can’t tell you every story but here goes, remember we are still in THE BUSH.


I’m thinking Katoomba is the go, for one thing that’s when I last saw Captain Denis Payne Farley, ex WW#1 RFC, AFC fighter pilot, probably much decorated world wanderer, and he was my dad. We lived in Katoomba for some time where I can see a small Garage Store and Post Office near Bell, a “Devonshire Tea Shop” and residence at the bottom of the high street down near the Three Sisters, you have to live there sorry, I will describe.

3 Sisters, scenic attraction Katoomba
3 Sisters, scenic attraction Katoomba

This period in my life had many physic experiences, the least being told to “wag” school by a mysterious voice. Eventually I was punished and sent to St. Bernard’s Catholic Boarding School where the treatment was just ordinary, AND I must say mighty irregular, something I forgave, lots of kids didn’t.

After the preceding comment please note any opinions directed to any person of a derogatory note are not intentional as are any suggestions of improper actions, I have set out to tell my story and not my history, boy, leave the head jobs to Freud.


Strange things happened at Katoomba, the Three Sisters do exist and for anybody who has observed the wonderful scenery of the area including the Megalong Valley, the Minnie Ha Ha Falls, and the Devil’s Railway and Narrow Neck including scenery from the poignant Australian film “Jedda”, you will attest to its beauty.

But, I shot a crow with my digit finger, it dropped like a rock, I saw misty visions of my father standing beside my bed when he was miles away, he talked to me and consoled me, I have this apparition to this day.

Don’t dwell on it, how about the “real” vision of seeing Jack Frost peering and beckoning from behind a tree at the service station mum and dad owned at Bell, I saw him, fair dinkum, it had nothing to do licking the frozen liquid that had accumulated on top of the 44 gal. PETROL drums.

I can describe Jack, but you will say I was a petrol sniffer. Katoomba is a mystic place. The Boarding School, well I can’t go there except I met a boy from Plunkett Street I knew, he looked after me, I was one of the lucky boys. We left there; never saw Denis Payne Farley again.


Then there was a place I know not where, very young my earliest memories? I can see Nuns and kids and beds and Gremlins.

Running by outside the windows grimacing and calling, but only after eating mashed potatoes. Imagination is a kids best friend, my little buddy Michael, (my son), had a friend, never got to meet him, diet may play a part, we all had dreams, and nobody can take them from us.

Importantly, keep the thoughts in the context of a young mind and protect the innocent little people who grow up to be us. Holy mackerel brother, you deviated something dramatic.


Bega Primary seems a good school to re-visit, the south coast of N.S.W. is incredible, the dairy country is renowned for its rich harvest and the close proximity to the coast.

Soon after leaving Katoomba mum dragged me to the Bega Valley, if she hadn’t of this adventure could not have happened, thanks mum.

Mum worked at a hotel in Bega, she was pretty good looking and took up with the son of a dairy farmer, Clive was his name. They formed a tumultuous partnership for many years and again they carted me all over.

Moon Bay, Tathra, what a beautiful place.
Moon Bay, Tathra, what a beautiful place.

For a period mum and I lived in town, had already commenced school at Bega Primary then found ourselves on Clive’s’ Parents dairy property (3) Miles north of Bega, 90 plus milkers plus Bill and Grace the loveliest people I have ever met, Peter became my step brother and we had some interesting experiences, wonder if Peter can remember the day Grandma Snowdon asked us to go and fetch mushrooms in the north paddock.



We set of with “Grannies” basket, a slingshot each and pride in our step; the plovers were “Stukas” protection of their young was by brute force, equipped with spurs on their elbows.

As one picked musshies the other let off, who’s my proofreader! I mean, shot a missile in the direction of the diving plover. Now it’s my turn with the anti-aircraft weapon and lets go a rock to protect Peter, the bloody stone hits Peter and he drops, well, like a rock. In between helping Peter, (Prof. Peter Snowdon now!), fighting of dive-bombers we did have mushrooms for dinner.


Must linger with the Peter saga because we shared many stories as farm kids, the poor bugger had some ill health as a boy but he survived, just like most things in my life I lost contact, however, I do know he is a very respectable member of scientific community.IMG_0925wm

He won’t mind me relating the story regards climbing out on a tree limb over the creek below the farm. You see we were looking for Wood Duck nests, and eggs, yum, yum.

Peter has clambered along the overhanging branch and slipped into the creek, splash and help me!. in that order, he flails and displays obvious panic, I leaps into the water to assist my friend and, and, and, “Peter you goose stand up the water is only bloody waist deep”. Had to get Peter home soaking wet to his mum, Grandma Grace was quite displeased.

Me because of Peter, became a “Conso”, we grew green frogs from slimy bunches of eggs collected from the creek, we transposed the egg sacks to a water filled small corrugated tank with suitable furniture, like rocks and water foliage.

As they became tadpoles and grew into frogs Peter the note taker would record their progress, smart bugger. To supplement his need for edifying information we would take the .22 and shoot eels in the creek. Clive, (Peters older) had an obsession to hunt and we wandered through adjoining properties on occasion in search of rabbits.

I must relate that mostly all rabbits suffered from “myxomatosis”, this syndrome were an incredibly painful human induced method to combat a problem we established in the bloody first place. Let me tell you how two young boys intended to solve the problem.

Firstly. Peter and I used to chat a lot, Peter talked and I would listen and argue, the hunting expedition commenced with Clive in the lead. Peter and I would follow constantly discussing various issues; there were many polite requests for silence from the lead, “shut up you little pricks” was his favorite expression.

During one hunting trip as we stumbled behind we came upon a warren and discovered several small kittens, (baby rabbits) in hiding.

With great innovation we stuffed several weeping bunnies into our shirts and said naught to the “great white hunter”, our intention was unclear expect for their survival. When we arrived back to the Farm House Peter and I discussed our plan for their future existence, Clive’s sense of hearing, remember his survival skills, was exemplary.

“What have you little bastards got hiding in those shirts”, the game was up! No intention was deliberated into regards relating “off” stories so don’t read further. One by one the kittens were disposed of by this farmer’s son.

Clive was a dead shot, a good fisherman, a returned serviceman and a carpenter, he had the same inherent problems every returned service person has, “you sent me, now let me forget with dignity, at least respect me”.


The Bega Valley Snowdon’s are well respected, they are Scottish and proud and will have a similar hierarchy to my Lovegroves. Graham Lovegrove, my cousin, may help me. God I love the Bega district, Tathra is a seaside town about (11) miles east, it was a Port in the past days of coastal maritime traffic.

Loading produce on to small steamers was no small feat on a wharf built inside a partially protected headland, Tathra Wharf south coast N.S.W., go and see, in fact don’t hesitate it’s got a great Pub.

Tathra Beach, Mum, Me, little girl friend
Tathra Beach, Mum, Me, little girl friend

Will not bring myself to say “step”. Grandparents Grace and Bill Snowdon were the best people who ever milked a cow, preserved in a “Fowlers”, worked from dawn to dusk, suffered hardships but never complained, Bill worked for the council, he died for the council, he was hospitable and I am biased, why, he would take us to the wharf on a Sunday to go fishing.


Oh yes the payoff; 0530 start, help with the milking the Jerseys, in the old Ford and off. Grace always smelt like butter and cream and flour and cow shit, things like country mothers should smell like, she also smelt just like my mum and together could churn butter and brand a calf.

Tathra Australia Sea Wharf.

Incidentally Betty Isabella Matilda Elizabeth Farley / Lovegrove is still waiting to return to “Rosedale” and Bega; I have her ashes with me, THEY WILL GO WITH ME.

My problem is a separation thing, if some of her ashes are spread at each place can she “join up”, don’t hate me for this, that’s mums humour / humor.


I have read several stories relating to women from the country, some are suspiciously biased and sexist, let me tell you country girls have been holding their head high forever, they have contributed and are largely responsible for the generation of our country values, they were capable of any task and willingly contributed, any person who denigrates their contribution or questions their equality, male or female should have lived then and so get a  life.

Your truly has got emotional with these memories and no, we can’t produce a video of our inner thoughts, baby you live your life, these happy days are ours, (thanks Fonsie?), join me soon ’cause this place has personal thoughts and things only a expectent mother should know.

So there you go, a very brief overview of a bloke’s life on the farm. Might help to give credence to the crappy poems, you know, ‘been there, done that’, no big deal. I have mentioned many times:

If you relate mate, and you will, you can enjoy re-writing my poems so that you get some sense from them. But I wager this, the essence is based on first hand life, all you will change is the grammar, if your game, regards john f.


There is a poem that covers me from litigation, “GIVE OR TAKE A METRE”, I know in my piss-poor brain that great poets have a professional duty to uphold ‘correctness’, I have tried that. From the above stories have come; “MOON BAY, ARAGUNNU”, “MOOSEFACE”, others.


So we move to Milton a small but worthwhile community south from Wollongong, N.S.W, just north of Ulladullah and the Marlin Hotel and a girl called “Moose Face”, another pub mum dragged me to.

Fact; as soon as I started school here the most chronic migraine pains commenced, you bloody wimp, went to the chemist and he prescribed eye drops all gone in days, maybe you medical folk will have an explanation.

Not many memories remain; maybe the guilt factor has entered the agenda.

OK we broke into the Showgrounds offices and chappied some soft drinks and got bilious from the CO2. Or was there a problem during the school holidays, explanation; a local farmer came to school and asked if any kids would like a job over the holidays picking beans, several friends including myself went “pick me”.

Now the money by the bushel was great, but the bushel by the kid = hard work. Beside the bean patch was a paddy melon field, when the overseer left the scene and we had eaten our fill of melons some of the skins found their way into the bean sacks.

Who knows what attracts us to the opposite sex, an affinity developed between me and this lady of twelv seems to have happened, she was a good swimmer and pretty, and when we went to the swimming baths at Ulladullah we enjoyed each others company. My friends called her moose face and I do not know why to this day, while I can’t see her face, I can see her smile. We left Milton soon after every boy in town came down with a strange illness.



FROM THE CITY TO THE BUSH, PART TWO, the journey continues.


I must relate a final City school story, and while I intended to include this experiment into “criminal activities” later, it seems that it was clearly educational. You see a warehouse on the Woolloomooloo dockside contained comics, and hundreds of them, they were rejects from the printing presses with over run colors and other defects, however they were readable simply awaiting re-pulping.

A small gang of local boys, OK, me included, became aware of this goldmine and on occasion relieved the legal owners of the reading matter, OK the front door was by-passed, but, no damage was caused by our incursion and only good value literature was removed. Sold at “The Tech” for a half penny each the gang slowly prospered from the sale of comics very popular at the time, THAT IS UNTIL GANG WARFARE breaks out in Woolloomooloo.

We believe a rival gang had also discovered the bonanza; unlike us they were prone to pinch stuff of value like tools and useless things like kerosene lamps. One of the members who attended “Darlo” came to the attention of the police and fingers were pointed in the direction of my gang.

AS such this person “Dobbed”, imagine all the boys in school lined up with the local Sergeant from Darlinghurst Police Station walking up and down in the company of the informer.

Looking down the line I could see this little pimp pointing to some of the kids, now as my gang mates are slowly being ID’ed the penny drops, we are in trouble. Finally, there are six or seven boys being addressed by the Sergeant and being told to appear at the Darlinghurst Police Station that day. We did, and convinced the Duty Officer of not stealing useless stuff, we were asked to return to school and control the mob, end of story except that tolerance to informers is unacceptable.

Importantly, in my early days city life was never far removed from the bush, I have outlined in the preceding city schools that I had attended and you will gauge constant movement occurred in the years leading up to and commencing work, but we will get to the bush soon.

This section will outline some of the experiences we may well call extra-curricular, IE; they did not happen at school. If it’s OK we will call this period;


Well the cradle has got me concerned, the earliest memories of “My Town” will have to be 34 Bayswater Road, Kings Cross in Sydney or (Potts Point), the building was (3) stories and was situated on the right hand side as you proceeded down Bayswater Rd. to Rushcutters Bay from the “KINGS Cross”. It is conceded that my father Denis Payne Farley owned the premises, (open) to conjecture; however, during the war years this place became an official ‘Billet” for American Naval Service Personnel.

Now while I can reliably suggest we lived there, my age would have been 3, 4, and 5? What I do remember is walking hand in hand with two Officers to a small convenience store at Kings Cross and being treated to “real” COKE, pink ice cream and cinnamon chewing gum, the original tastes still linger.

Impossible, improbable, maybe mum told me and I can see the images as she described, boy, the memory may be vague but the taste still remains strong, like toast, see later, Kings Cross can be the essence of FROM THE CITY TO BUSH. Incidentally, Grand Ma Isabella Lovegrove / nee Menzies managed these premises before moving to 112 Palmer Street Woolloomooloo just down the hill, heading west.

Situated at the top of William Street not far from the “W’LOO” this area known as the “Cross” has many childhood memories, adolescent memories and adult memories, most I can relate, some the censor will cut.

And by the way dear reader I was christened at St. Canice’s Catholic Church, Elizabeth Bay? 31st May, 1945


Electric trams and buses were an integral part of suburban Sydney, as a kid I was intrigued by the conductor poles becoming disengaged from the overhead wires and the driver or the “fares please” man relocating the pole, sometimes a bright blue flash would

Toast Rack Tram
Toast Rack Tram

erupt as the pole touched the wires, the driver got behind the rotary switch and off would go the tram or trolley bus.

One particular tram was called a “Toast Rack”, you boarded this tram from running boards along the side into small cabins, and in winter the wind would blow right up your skirt or your pants, (which ever style of apparel suited the wearer).

Many cities still have this particular type of conveyance, San Francisco comes to mind, same bells too. The conductor would negotiate the running board collecting fares, a job not for the faint hearted, the tram derived its name from looking like a toasted bread rack, this brings me to a story in relation to the:


A paper boy was I. Working out of a small paper shop in Woolloomooloo adjacent to Plunkett St. School, JohnFarls sold papers during the time we were in Town, and I guess 12 through 14 / 15 was the time frame. Now a little Jewish man named Eddie Berry was the paper man and store owner and he hired boys to sell his wares.

The paper “run” was quite vast and encompassed the W’LOO docks, Garden Island Naval Base, (HMAS Kuttabul). The Famous Harry’s Café De Wheels, the hotels and business houses, (funny business or other, I was young not that young). You would stand on busy street corners, the cry was “Sun or the Mirror haain pa” and wait for it, jump on and off trams that rattled around the streets, particular William Street.


OK, the latter was quite dangerous and fraught with OH&S contingencies, although this had not been invented yet. You see it was frowned upon for the paperboy to board the tram; you did not pay the fare! The conductor became quite irate and was prone to use the number 12 boot. This presented a plan of attack similar to guerilla war, as the people boarded the tram and the steel wheels begun to roll a small boy complete with papers and a small leather pouch around his waist would nimbly jump the tram, always at the opposite end to the conductor.

A paper boy becomes quite deft at flicking papers under a person’s arm or into a waiting lap, exchanging collateral and disappearing at the speed of light, several pieces of tabloid could be sold before the conductor realizes your presence and you made good your escape, followed by “piss off you little bugger”. Judging from the reaction of the passengers I swear it was accepted practice and a game of cat and mouse, however kids, don’t practice jumping on or alighting from a moving tram.

Hence the “paper boy and the conductor” concludes, except to say that if you went up the hill you caught the tram back down, incidentally, at a predetermined point you were in the oppositions zone, we acknowledged our areas, we were honest if nothing else.


Must point out that Eddie was a very generous man and fair to us boys and protective to his charges, the paper “runs” were divided into sections, some more lucrative than others and as a consequence you would rotate week about to share the spoils. Spoils means; two to three pounds a week including tips, this was a splendid wage in the early ‘50’s for a boy, as an apprentice later on a comparison can be described.

This is ‘flash’ Harrys café de wheels.

woolloomooloo Harrys
A tourist and locals attraction, ‘Harrys Cafe De Wheels’ 

Protection was a word used to describe our Jewish boss Mr. Eddie Berry, however in relation to the W’LOO protection meant something different, we won’t go here. Suffice to say the dock areas were a little rough and tumble with, let’s say, a population of hard working class, hard drinking class and sometimes, ah, suspect people. On the whole most of the people were honest and hard working citizens and needed the docks for employment, things have changed radically in recent times,

Woolloomooloo has become very cosmopolitan and trendy, so be it. Anyway, nobody touched the paperboy, even in the very tough pubs that dotted the area, THE BELLS, THE MACQUARIE, THE ‘FRISCO, THE OLD FITZROY, THE TILBURY, A LATER ADDITION THE WOOLLOOMOOLOO BAY HOTEL, (, these days some scoundrels will do you for a dollar.


I guess the highlight was finishing school, racing home, changing into paper boys clothes, oh by the way, constant reference is made to paper boy, apologies to you girls I guess there were paper girls I just never met one. Old pants, old shirt, a thick leather belt around your shoulder to hold up to 30 papers and the till, a leather money purse on a belt, standard wear.

Down to our Yiddish boss, collect your papers, counted of course, given Gods best wishes and some change, counted of course, by Eddie and off on your rounds. Well I have described the trams, how about this week we do the pubs and offices, the Sydney Eye Hospital and one or two selected corners.

OK here we are at the Eye Hospital, around 400 meters’ from the shop, we walk into the main foyer and quietly inquire if anybody would like the evening news, sell a few and proceed to wards and rooms on upper floors, now my humor will remain latent at this stage for obvious reasons, although, you will realize a person can read perfectly well with one eye. We take leave of the Hospital and proceed to the hotels that have been described.


The pubs in the W’LOO were “wharfies” and locals and sailors drinking holes and places to unwind, unique names for sections of the hotel included the Public Bar, the Saloon Bar, The Lounge Bar, the Ladies Bar, loosely described as the Sows Pit, the Sheila’s Bar, the Hen’s Parlor, (I prefer Ladies Bar). Beer was served in Schooners and Middies and Sevens also known as Ladies Waists, back then segregation was practiced hence the separate bars.

See, girls what you have done, whacko. Me and you will circulate among the patrons and give our war cry and sell papers and detect odors’ that emanate from strange lands, a hand on the head, a pat on the back and pick up more papers, next pub please, next corner, now we will circulate a couple of times go back to the shop and count the money and go to my place for meal, AVAGOODAY?

This then was the inner sanctum of Woolloomooloo, a place where George and Tony and Nick and Spiro and Sergio and Tony’s sister lived and Arthur Yip lived? And you sold papers here and lived. Sorry you could not make the wharf run next week and the Naval Station run, buy a pie from “Harry’s Café De Wheels” and have a good time, well there you go but don’t go yet.


The W’LOO docks were constructed inside a cove, the “Finger Wharf” was a double sided affair in the middle of the bay, on the eastern side was mooring for Passenger / Cargo vessels just like the Finger Wharf and guess what, you know that a promise of reading matter is required by the passengers and crew.

At the northern end is the great Garden Island Naval Base HMAS KUTTABUL and its only access by land, the huge moving dockside crane was a landmark, (it’s called the ANVIL), it indicated a bastion, a landmark that people recognized as a place where our proud naval ships resided, it made us safe and secure. Many times I have returned to Garden Island at the pleasure of the Commonwealth Police.


At knock off time and shift change at the “Island”, hundreds of workers would leave and enter the Naval Base, a veritable gold mine for Eddie and the boys, my week commenced at the gates selling splendiferous amounts of papers in a short time, reloading and depending on the vessels in the harbor brushing past the Customs Officers and boarding a Passenger Cargo Liner.

“All right follow the drill” says Eddie, “don’t accept small parcels to bring ashore, keep to well lit companion ways, don’t go into crews quarters, I want you back here safely”. We followed directions to the letter, upon mounting the gang way a Bosun or suitable officer would direct us to the dining saloon, possibly there would be 30 or more people enjoying a meal, and then the galley and the crews quarters, (escorted!), and yes some of us were approached to take small parcels ashore,

Maybe I could have made a fortune selling watches, the Custom Officers never searched the paperboys bag, or may be the parcel contained? But that’s ok; across the road from no.2 Dock was the Herald Office and the scene of the infamous “Comic Book Gang Wars”. I was malevolent in media and culpable in comics.


Have you ever heard of the Woolloomooloo Police Boys Club, Mrs. (Miss) Sylvia Chase, , the boxing lessons, the judo classes, and the basketball teams, the LIBARY? Can I take you through my period at this club and indicate appreciation for the Coppers and the people who had the time to assist young blokes and an occasional girl. The organization is now called PCYC, it saved!!.


The Woolloomooloo PBC was the first of its kind, however, there were to become many such organizations and they exist to this day, they essentially offer a safe haven for boys and girls to learn stuff and enjoy outings in the company of the men and ladies in blue and volunteer minders. The club was situated in the old lockup Police Station just up the road from the docks and was frequented on many occasions by my mates and myself.

The premises were opened, as I recollect, on most days and until late evening, some days we sold papers and rushed to the club for the great activities, many hours on the weekend were also spent ditto. Now I am a lover not a fighter and we were taught the (noble) Art of self-defense, I prefer the clinches of the person you love.


Boxing and other body contact sports is daunting, and by the way, a very notable and much revered Aussie media person made a comment to the, well, negative, George Negus if you haven’t lived it don’t knock it. And so, all my lessons in boxing and judo and wrestling gave me a flat nose, I got some in on a ratio of 3:1, the one was me but I soon learnt to protect myself and learnt the skills of talk first and belt later.

The great Jimmy Caruthers was a former member and patron of our club, as were other notable sporting people, the operative word here is sporting, and not many academics came from Plunkett St. or the Club and apologies to you guys and girls who reached year 12, having said that, you would still be on my team,

Woolloomooloo still rules, you bloody good thing, even you John Laws, and who is that other bloke, Gladiator, yeah Russell Crowe, you are all part of the history, hey Russ I played football for South Sydney, they were my team until a move to the Northern Beaches, John Laws I have spoken to you.


Enough of the patronizing, because the greatest person who ever come out of the docks was a gorgeous motherly person / women, her name is Sylvia Chase. Someone will say the description is somewhat sexist, you’re very wrong because she was the person all us boys called; elegant, magnificent, stunning. Could be a problem here, we did not know the meaning then of the preceding words, I do now.

The history of Missus Chase leaves my story in the back blocks and I told you ordinary bloke is me, not the trademark. Mrs. Chase must have had an extraordinary compulsion to assist young blokes elevate from being, shall we say, uneducated or literary negative, for myself her “Black Books” gave me hours of reading time and discussion with the dear lady. “Black Books?” for many years I had a couple of the library books from the PBC that were not returned, I am guilty of a heinous crime your worship. Explanation needed no doubt.


I am not into history because this is supposed to be my story; the Sylvia Chase story has taken precedence in my mind, as well it should. The books? The incredible woman acquired, bought, borrowed, obtained books from all over, she paid for out of her own money the major proportion of the stock, she spent hours placing a cover of a black vinyl material over the books and hand writing the book description in white paint.

You want a book? See the best librarian in Woolloomooloo. The present tense and the previous are very awkward in the context of life things; I hope you have / having a reasonable trip, do find reference to; Mrs. Sylvia Chase, (au). I know now her full story. Her story is good; I have only given a snapshot of this great lady.

Confession time rears its ugly head, remember the “Comic Capers”, for a time we would leave the W’LOO PBC in the late evening and raid the Herald Office for negotiable items, and this is contrary to PBC principles. One scare is enough.

And so I repented.


There but for the grace of God go us all. During my time in W”LOO and between trips to the bush so many boy’s own stories occurred, what about St. John Young’s Crescent and the Kindergarten, about 200 meters from the “Truant Officer”. On occasion we would offer a community gesture and help the carers look after the little kids. WE would assist in cleaning things and picking up the toys, on occasion escorting the kids on walks in company with the teachers.

A notable dilemma arose, you see this pervert had been seen on the precinct causing a great deal of concern to the principal. CENSORED………. At this point details will be removed from the record, suffice to say the person was sorry for his incursion.

I know your dilemma, but don’t hold me guilty of rich stories and sometimes bawdy dialogue, I can tell you that the journey has only just commenced and I repeat that memory is sometime a failure, indulge me, 99% is true.


Not far west from 112 Palmer Street was a School for the blind people. They had a wonderful building and a playing field they used for sporting activities like ball games, like cricket. A bunch of us kids would go on weekends and holidays to play with the “unfortunates”, we initially believed a superior position.

Then a realization exploded, try hitting a wicker ball encasing a tiny rattle. With two good eyes there is no problem, over a distance of 20 yards and only the sound of the tiny bell to guide you, YOU hit the ball, only you can’t see the ball only a sound. I won’t speak for my friends, but appreciation for an unfortunate condition became my motivation.

You would stand in the field and yell, “Hit it here”, not surprisingly the cane ball was struck well outside your reach. While we are on the subject of cane, the blind school people used to make many wonderful items in cane sometimes applying a coat of varnish for preservation, as boys we would help out and feel proud of ourselves.


Mention was made in an earlier chapter concerning the W’LOO BATHS; in fact the correct name was THE DOMAIN BATHS, al la Andrew Boy Charlton however they were situated on the western side of Woolloomooloo bay, and yes they were as described Spartan. AKA; Corporation Baths, Fig Tree Baths, Farmers Baths, Domain Baths, Andrew “Boy” Charlton Baths.

If you proceeded north from the baths you reached the area of Lady Macquarie’s chair almost on the point.


Farm Cove on the left and W’LOO BAY to your right, look left and see THE Opera House ‘SAILS’, the misty vision of an edifice not built yet, see the panorama of the wonderful harbor and the “Coat Hanger”, look over right and take in the Finger wharf and the W’LOO docks, there will be passenger / cargo ships alongside, a little north is the Garden Island Naval Dockyard and that great crane mounted on railway lines.

Several gray vessels will be moored alongside the docks as well there will be a naval ship high and dry in the graving dock or dry dock. Many sailors and civilian workers and waterside workers are observed going on about their business, years later I found myself inside this facility going about my business as well.

Looking behind, you would observe the Domain and the Art Gallery and The Botanical Gardens great places to walk and observe, in the near distance is Sydney CBD, the great tower is called the A.W.A. radio tower, situated at Wynyard it is the tallest structure in town. I am having a vision of going there in the future.

It seems to me some memories come back by association, describing SYLVIA CHASE for some unknown reason reminded me of another famous but “infamous” lady from WOOLLOOMOOLOO. I don’t intend to dwell on the “TILLEY DEVINE “ saga.

An older friend suggested that if you lived in ‘THE LOO’ YOU WOULD HAVE KNOWN her. He was wrong; I knew of her, she lived in the same street. She never touched my family. Many memories of my W’Loo contain tragic events, I am not a Journalist, I won’t need sensational repartee.

Somewhere mention of ‘Red Light’, running errands for the girls is mentioned, nod nod, wink wink. Everybody knew Tilley, she was reported to be an intellectual person. You have noticed my reference to good people and fringe people; Woolloomooloo is no different from any Metropolis. She was a naughty lady, she never did me wrong.

But right now let me tell you about 112 Palmer just up the road. Grand Ma Isabella Menzies bought the two story premises around 1945 / 6; the description of the building was loosely that of a residential or tenement, it was a TERRACE HOUSE; you could call it a boarding house. We lived here on and off for many years, Grand Ma would let out rooms to working people and it was a place where the “boys” that is her sons, my uncles, would stay after returning from the war.


Eventually they would leave and go their separate ways, but I can remember great times in their presence. On notable occasions two of Uncle Chris’s war buddies would visit and, “Jimmy and Ernie were their names and singing and drinking was their games”. Ernie would play his ukulele and Jimmy sang, always, “Open the door Richard”.

This story needs vision and sound so without these mediums imagination will have to do. Right, picture the front door of a 22 foot wide rustic two story building; there is a small verandah with wrought iron railing and on the 2nd floor a similar full length verandah with this priceless railing of cast iron. Two steps were needed to alight on the front verandah. You were greeted by a door with dark glass panels, on your right was a polished knob of brass, go on pull it, hear the tinkling of a little bell inside the house?

Jimmy stood outside and would knock and jingle, Ernie was inside and would commence to strum his ukulele and sing these words; “Open the door Richard, open the door and let me in, open the door Richard, Richard why don’t you open that door?”, over the top of his singing Jimmy was acting the part of, (forgotten), however he was berating Richard for not opening the door, mainly because he was pissed.

He would speak loudly in an inebriated tone; “Hey Richard open that dammed door it’s cold out here, what’s that, yeah I know I am drunk just open the door”, and “come on it’s your buddy don’t be so mean”, and so on while Grand Ma and everybody were laughing.

If I had done my homework maybe I could have supplied all the words, any how the entertainment culminates with Ernie still singing inside and Jimmy still knocking and loudly exclaiming; “come on Richard open that door, who’s that?, not you again you old bat!, bag your head, what you say?, of course I’m drunk again, Richard the old bat is calling the cops, Richard open up that dammed door it’s really cold out here”.


We had an old wind up GRAMAPHONE, 78’s? I still have one, anybody remember; “IT’S YOUR LITTLE RED WAGON AND IT KEEPS ON WAGON ALONG, the tune is implanted in my mind.


What did the boys drink? I guess my age would have to have been seven or eight, I was the sometimes runner with a Billy can and a shilling and run up the hill to the corner of William and Palmer, the WILLIAM HOTEL no less, climb onto a bar stool and ask the bar person to fill her up and so I would return with a billy can of cold draught beer, occasionally allowed a tiny sample, incidentally, some change may have been offered out of the shilling, I have forgotten.

Might stick with money things, we had coal gas supplied to the residential, a rather bulky gas meter was situated near the communal gas stove into which you inserted a penny, and when you cooked the tiny needles in the gauges would turn indicating how much you have used.

We had a wooden ice box into which you placed a block of ice as needed, delivered by a man in an ice truck. The milkman delivered milk and ladled an amount into that same Billy; there was a coal man who would bring coking coal in the winter months, sorry, latter prices forgotten.


OK, I have described the facade of the premises; you will appreciate these tenements / TERRACES were very narrow and had common walls to the next place, rows of terrace houses made up the street, in fact half of inner Sydney.

Upon entering, a narrow hallway lead to the back of the house, there was a front room and back room to the left along this hallway, also in the hallway the gas stove and the icebox. At the end of the hallway to the right a set of steep stairs led up to the front room and a smaller room.

A lady named Marie resided in the small room, she was always pleasant to me but seemed always sad, she had a photograph of a Naval officer beside her bed, I was to find out later he perished on the ill fated H.M.A.S. SYDNEY off the coast of Western Australia. She lived with us for some time.

Down stairs to the hallway and leading up another set of stairs was a large room at back of the house. Uncle Chris and Uncle Alex shared this room for some time; to the left hand side of the landing was a tiny room where I slept quite often.

Returning downstairs you made your way past another small room as you proceeded down the back yard, on the right was a laundry complete with a large copper boiler and big gas ring, this was the precursor to the modern day washing machine, and you removed the clothes from the boiler using a round stick.

There were two cement tubs for soaking clothes, to the left of the laundry was the bathroom containing a large cast iron enameled bathtub you filled from the copper tub, sometimes shared.


Now folks, right down the back yard was the inimitable dunny, flushed of course, complete with the compulsory Choko vine and the local paper torn into small pieces and hung on a piece of string, finally the fences of corrugated iron and the high back gate

dunny and the choko vine
dunny and the choko vine

with a double door allowing Uncle Chris to drive his, wait for it you “Bikies”, his 1940 model Harley Davidson, all black, manual gear change, horse saddle leather seat motor bike complete with “Outfit”, all black and beautiful, that is except for the silver stuff. Must continue with the “Bike”, Chris loved, I loved, and Grand Ma hated this wonderful thing.

This bike was stripped more times than Gypsy Rose Lee; its components caressed more than mother does her baby. Some days, the small backyard was covered with bike parts, the components were cleaned, re-assembled and a bright and shiny black Harley with sidecar re-built. That bike produced some memorable experiences.

112 Palmer St, for some time, or on and off was the center of my universe, every morning Grandma at some ungodly hour could be heard scraping burnt toast in the side drain under the “Boys” upstairs window calling; “Boys, breakfast is ready”, the usual sounds of “OK Mum” could be heard from young men awakening for the days work, me, because of the small confines stayed in my small room until a respectable hour, the burnt toast? I can smell it to this day, can you?


Grand Ma was a slight person, she was born on the land, she spent much of her younger years on properties that Grand Pa Ambrose and her owned, (my genetics?), (Lovegrove website), they sold “Rosedale” and took up Hotels in the Hunter Valley proving to be a disaster, Ambrose was embezzled out of a considerable sum of money causing financial problems they never recovered from, Grandma found herself one out with the “Boys”, hence Bayswater Road and Palmer Street, the latter purchased by hard work and a frugal existence.

She managed Palmer St. by working as a cleaner at several of the Companies in William Street. She never owned a handbag, her purse resided between her breasts on a piece of string. The piece of string was attached to her bodice by a safety pin.

At any time there were could be as many as nine people residing at 112, at least three boarders and the family. The communal cooker, a small oven and 4 gas burners got a thorough work out in rotation; some of the tenants had small single burner napha? Cookers to heat water for a cup of tea or warm soup and other stuff. On occasion everybody was invited to a Sunday lunch, times were tough; don’t know who paid for what it came out in the wash.



SORRY PEOPLE THIS CHRONOLOGICAL DIATRIBE MAY SEEM HIGHLY indecipherable, I suggest that the Translator may have some problems.

FROM THE CITY TO BUSH, PART ONE, the journey commences.

So what is “FROM THE CITY TO THE BUSH”, well it is Just a cryptic condensed biography of an ordinary Australian, please excuse the Aussie slang.

My Preface:

Generally, a Preface is customary in written works. The author writes it, and it will outline the contents there in. I am reticent to analogize. However, to put it in A nutshell,

Me my raft and my Galah, from the city to the bush
Me my raft and my Galah, from the city to the bush

this book of propinquity and crappy poems is hugely self-indulgent. The writings and “Bushy” stuff is derived from, and emanates into, a rhyming Aussie vernacular. I understand absolutely zilch about writing poetry, full stop. Sometimes I cogitate this is good thing, if one gets over awed with the science of correctness, one may despair.

My speaking voice will quite often stray into this slang, be that as it is, I am sometimes known to speak “proper”. It is important for me to “tell it like it is’’. I would like to describe these written words as a narrative and roaming words addressed at you the reader.

Essentially and importantly, the impetus to write these world-shattering snippets came from a particularly tragic accident in January 2008. Motivation to write a poem came from this sad event, it happened on (our SES) patch. Within a matter of weeks I had penned several other hugely received works of great note. And yes, I say all this with ‘tongue in cheek’. I had never written a poem before.

The format is largely chronological, but regrettably you will have to work out the time frame. You will ascertain that the poems sort of follow an Aussie young bloke’s life, but are from the City to the Bush, and back again. Writing becomes an obsession, I was obsessed, the works are not brilliant, and they will irritate and antagonize some. The term; “cultural cringe” springs to mind, I too sometimes have this feeling, but change? No way. Constant editing and re-arranging words is my scene, but never altering the essence of the poetic narration.

It is important to note that all my poems are based on factual experiences, and while some may stretch the imagination, or seem stretched, the truth is / will be; “been there, done that got the T-shirt”. And you know what? I’ll tell you what, don’t care who you are, where your from, I’ll bet you can relate to the inert and sometimes poignant hidden stories. My web pages are full of narrative from a 79 year old bloke, lots could have come from a 79 year old lady.

Read well these incredible propinquity, I am just a bloke sitting at the table in the corner. I am just a grain of sand on Brunswick Beach. I am just a no-body. I live the life of a bachelor, every brick in my flat has a name. But I wager you will see right through me, regards john f.



Here are some facts and ground rules for you to contemplate;

  • The entries are largely “lifted” from my web pages.
  • This self indulgent and egotistical chronology is not chronological.
  • Every word, every Poem is as near the truth, as I will let you get.
  • Some trivia; I have been a Volunteer/ Emergency Service Volunteer for 44 years.
  • More trivia; Love me kids, me extended family, (they brought me up). Me bike, me camera, Brunswick Heads, anywhere I have been.
  • Still more trivia; My Mum’s ashes reside with me. She has asked me to scatter ‘Her’ at her birthplace, (‘Woolun’), New England), and Bega / Tathra. Her problem was; “will my parts ever join up”, her words not mine!!
  • As mentioned; my grammar and ‘Aussie’ strine and vernacular are intentional.
  • As mentioned; my poems are traditionally “Bushy”, sometimes obscure and cryptic.
  • I was 67 years of age before BDM, (Births Deaths and Marriages), discovered my original Birth Registration, and at considerable cost. Thank you MARTINA from BDM for your diligence and friendly and helpful participation, love ya.

And so, dear reader, THESE ARE EXCERPTS FROM THE BIG PICTURE, that is, poems and abridged ruminations, read on this obscure saga.


The two City schools I attended are dead set in the inner city, that’s Sydney Australia no less, let me commence with the inimitable Plunkett, (Plunko), Street Primary School, Woolloomooloo, line of sight three kilometers to Sydney’s CBD, and arguably the closest

Plunkett Street School Woolloomooloo
Plunkett Street School Woolloomooloo

school of any importance in “My Town”.

I am suggesting that “Plunko” was my initial introduction to greater intelligence, and not the least to becoming streetwise and City oriented.

For those of you familiar with Sydney the “LOO” is the area roughly bordered by William St. to the south, the Woolloomooloo docks and Garden Island, (HMAS Kuttabul) to the north, (Cowper Wharf Road), Lincoln Crescent to the west, and Brougham St. to the east.

The area was not what you would call a playground for the innocent, we are talking about a population of struggling citizens doing stuff to get a meal on the table, and some took shortcuts while the majority was salt of the earth working class.

At no stage would you have got any impression of my political leanings so you may as well know I am center left of the middle of the right dead set Social Democrat, I can’t be all bad because I follow Manly RUGBY LEAGUE FOOTBALL CLUB and before that South Sydney, regrettably both teams are now known as the “silver tails”.


None but multi-denominational, racial but multi racial, ethnic but who gave a rats, blacks whites yellows and that was only the day wear, blacks whites yellow and they were the original colors, religious but who gave a rats, working class kids, now your talking, co-educational that’s good.

Our parents never discussed quasi-political and religious uneasiness in our presence we all came from the same womb and lived in the same country, what has happened in the ethnicity SENSE out there parents?

My school friends must be pondering the same question, there were many cultures and creeds but we hung out together, played sport together, visited each others homes. Some of the kid’s parents had little or no English but there was always a smile and Shalom, G’day bloke, Bon Journo, ‘Ella mesa’, Yasous or other suitable greeting stuff.

As a boy growing up, “you can take the boy out of the city but you can’t take the city out of the boy”, and in my case of course the reverse applies.


I can’t remember the exact year of commencing at the dock side school, guess 1944 is close, and we would have been traveling back and forwards from god knows where and at this stage lived with Grandma Isabella Lovegrove at 112 Palmer Street just up the road.

Probably visited Plunko a couple of times before being introduced to Darlinghurst Junior Technical School, mind you all of the other schools are interwoven. Now “Darlo” had the misfortune of being similar to the previous, the big difference was some of the boys (and girls) were shaving.

In relation to the girls, “Darlo” was a segregated school and we were separated by a low fence and we were subjected to home science experiments in the form of lock jaw. And well you might ask!

Wait, must relate the first day at Darlinghurst, you see somewhere between primary and high school, when we arrived back in Sydney and although I had progressed to the upper level mum had enrolled me at the “Tech”.

The big day arrived and my thoughts revolved around, “no way, not another bloody school”, soooooo I wagged it.


So here I am sitting in a park just off William St, near College St. down from the Museum and I am minding my own business and quietly contemplating the hole I have dug, “bugger me I’ll run away can’t she give me break, there’s bound to be bullies only now there getting bigger”.

Remember streetwise? This bloke sits down on the bench alongside and attempts a conversation, “no school today son? You must be on holidays lucky boy”, now I know where he’s coming from, bloody pervert. OK, I can out run this guy so why not string him along, “no mister, just waiting for the other school kids so we can go the Museum”, replies, “and what school do you go to son? Seems your teacher should be here”, yes well he was getting pushy.

Well anyway the conversation continued and retreat was imminent, UNTIL this dude says, “I would like you come across road to the Child Welfare Department for a little chat”, and here I live locally, how did I miss that?

Oar More Got, (say it phonetically). This man really was a Truant Inspector and the long and short was being marched all the way to “Darlo”, met the Headmaster, reprimanded and led to my new classroom where we were greeted by Mister……., he was the biggest bully who drew breath. However, more later.

So here’s the more later, as I took my first step into the confines of year seven my cynical impressions of “Darlo” were shattered by several voices; “its Farls, hey where yer been” and “ Plunko rules, great to see you”.

Yes you good thing, many old friends from Woolloomooloo made up the class of 1952 and here’s the rub, logic is my strong suit, it never dawned on me that the nearest High School in location to “Plunko”, IS, and as dramatic as it seems my basic impressions indicated I did have friends. No hesitation existed during the ensuing three years in returning to Darlinghurst Junior Technical School.


OK the girls of “Darlo”. You will remember reference to girls during my journey, there’s always a girl in there and well there should be, you see girls can be an important element of society if you let them view their opinions. Many girls of the opposite sex will have progeny as is their wish, sometimes a boy child slips out there. To all of the girls in my life let me inform you that at the special time where you let me be a part of your existence I gave it my best shot, AND NOW I have dug the biggest hole in this foray of life things, BUT REMEMBER FOLKS ‘tongue in cheek’.

Some girls that have shared my life have names similar to Shirley, Robin, Alison, Cerise, Denise, Dana, Lorna, Julie, Hinemoa, Jillian, Charlie, Capuchin, (fair dinkum),

Lockjaw is a nasty thing, the reference first came about from the girls and their Social Sciences, and means Home Sciences, read; “how to look after the home ‘cause that’s your lot”. “Darlo” was being wound down from a segregated school to eventually being a girl’s school and the young ladies would experiment on the boys using various recipes.


The most notorious being a compilation of sugar and flavorings to form a toffee encased in a party cup, AS an excuse to chat up the girls, boys would gladly accept the incredibly rigid sweet and politely sink their teeth into the mess, first problem, the opposing molars would meet separated by a film of unbelievably adhesive vacumatic qualities, this my readers formed the basis for “The lock jaw Syndrome”.

I know that further description is not necessary, later I formed the opinion, largely accepted by the greater medical fraternity including Orthodontist’s, (stumped the spell checker), as a conspiracy to silence boys and promote a “spin off” to the generation of income.

Incidentally I sat next to a boy of Asian extraction his name was Arthur Yip, you out there old friend, remember the racial thing? Sports days are following.


Playing sports was mandatory at all of my schools; at least it was in the sense you got out of the classroom. We had a choice of many activities, soccer to rugby, rugby league, cricket, and swimming in the warmer months. There was baseball, basketball and rounders and athletics, most sports were team oriented but allowed for individual excellence.

Me? I was a team player then and I am a team player now. Regrettably I carry into my senior years with less than attractive feet, you see a lot of football has past water in my time, and I am the average player, if a try was awarded its because Farls fell over into the in goal area with the ball, my feet? Never wore football boots for most of my career couldn’t afford them.

Managed to have a go at most sports, about average in the main.


I maintain the above comments made about “Racial Terms” came from sports participation and nowhere better place to start than my City Schools; an example will be the team game of rugby league.

The HammerHead Crane, Anvil, Woolloomooloo

Sometimes when the ethnics allowed me I played “hooker”, please forgive memory loss, George was prop and Greek, Nick was prop he was Greek, Sergio was Lebanese and resided in the second row with Tony who was Italian.

The lock was Jewish, the wingers were Jewish, ’cause when they got the ball they could run fast and find two other balls, (sorry), the inside backs were sometimes Asian, selected for their ability to manage.

And so it goes, on and off the field we were friends. OH, on the bench were guys with excellent suntans, these were the original AUSSIES, at an appropriate time when the opposition seemed to have the upper hand their job was to re-address the status quo.

Plunkett Street Primary and Darlinghurst Jnr. Tech. won some games but mainly we lost because the other schools had bigger ethnics and black blokes.

There will be somebody out there who can substantiate my claims, (15+) nationalities at one time were enrolled at “Plunko” and probably as many up the “hill”, whatever, where did the acceptance for who you are get to, it really can’t be that bad, can it?

And reference to wogs and chinks? Well, in our school days using these derogatory words got you a bloody nose.


Now swimming for public school pupils was a buzz for us city kids regrettably we found the environment less than Spartan, our Harbourside pools were largely unfiltered, un-cleansed, un-sanitized, un-homogenized, unheated mistreated and were downright nasty places to cohabit, nevertheless the ROSE BAY BATHS, (Red Leaf), RUSHCUTTERS BAY, and BALMAIN BATHS while leaving a lot to be desired were the venues for swimming sports.

However, in relation to Woolloomooloo, one must not forget the inimitable, sometimes grotty, ‘Corporation Baths’, or Fig Tree Baths, or Farmers Pool, now known as the Andrew ‘boy’ Charlton Pool, Google it. As kids from Plunkett St. we swam, sometimes walked in this pool.

We are talking about the greater SYDNEY HARBOUR basin, correctly described as the most beautiful place but the cesspool then for everything that lived and died.
These harbor side pools had a protective barrier of wire mesh allowing the swimmer to negotiate a shark free course while dodging the flotsam and jetsam from this great place;

I will leave your imagination to the likely objects that could be encountered, not pretty, any body from a big city harbor? You will know what I mean.

I guess that if I had an Olympic medal you would have to put up with bragging rights, and I don’t so you are spared. As close as I came was in the noble art of fencing, saber/SABRE was my forte’.


Saint Mary’s Cathedral is a splendid edifice not far from our place; a school friend introduced me to the fencing school situated in a hall on the eastern side of the great church.

Our fencing coach was a teaching Brother, he was an excellent exponent of the art, I very quickly learnt the skill of attack and parry and the rules of engagement, and a short time later became school champion using sabre. I found an aggressive streak in me and applied it vigorously, that is until a visiting team of Austrian champions were invited to demonstrate their skills to the assembled school.

These men and women were thermodynamic, my word for; they would not stand still long enough for you to get a strike, most of us got one or two in and then they were gone. Their favorite pastime was to allow you to have the attack position, that’s when you have the right to cut and thrust.

Very deftly your attack was dodged exposing your back to the full length of their saber, they struck fast and hard, boy that smarts. Looking resplendent in my white canvas coat and long sleeves and a long glove to protect the entire arm, my fine mesh helmet and my prized sword, white thigh length pants and “Volleys” you addressed your unfortunate adversary.

THE GREAT DUNLOP VOLLEY. (A worthwhile digression).

I was way down the track in my yarn, about 1968 in fact, when I realized some people use another word to distinguish their personality. My description of the fencing saga

The Famous Volleys, you can't kill them
The Famous Volleys, you can’t kill them

included the term “Volleys”, some people associate this word as ‘footwear’, they will be very wrong, it is a term that donates a being, a symbol of how you ‘stand’ in society.

Me Volleys.

You have no right to live on this earth if you have not had the pleasure of being a “Volleys” person. Nobody will enjoy the peculiar and personal aroma of their person unless they are a “Volleys” identity, you will have moments of pleasure with your body that only the “Volleys” can unlock.

OK, this may seem like nepotism and a parochial approach to life, you are bound by certain laws of society, I will tell you if you want recognition and acceptance, if you want to be seen and the essence of your being graciously accepted by all concerned be a “Volley Person”.

Remember my words of wisdom; He who says, “what’s that smell down under?” should vote Labor, or should wash their feet, it not the “Volleys”, it’s the person”. And remember, the Volley was invented the year I was born I was destined to be its friend and worshiper.


Standing with one’s leading foot pointing at the opponent and your other foot at right angles, one addressed the assembled group at the other end of the ‘Piste’. At about ten paces stood the antagonist with his seconds on either side, your seconds stood beside one. NOW are you ready for what follows?


You acknowledge and salute the fencing party thus; one held the saber in an upright position close to your face. Pointing your saber downwards you addressed the opponents second on your left, he is the second on the right of the opponent, secondly you acknowledge the opponents second on your right, he is the second on the left of your opponent, right?

Thirdly you address your own second, on your left first and your second, you are on his left, next, right? Fourthly, one addresses the only person left, he is the one directly ahead,

The Dunlop Volley
The Dunlop Volley, not just a shoe

the one in the middle of his left and right seconds, you know that he is the one because he has a sword, you raise your saber to an upright position in front of your face then point the sharp end at his face and gallantly sweep it away making a “Zorro” sound.

And finally if he is still awake the unfortunate does likewise, now if you are left handed? I continued with this sport for some time and just like most things found other interests. Alarmingly, I have an idea I may have plagiarized, these can’t be my thoughts!


A Poet I am Not


But I will tell you this, if I were being paid for the hours of input plus right side brain energy invested in writing poetry, and I were successful, well my coffers would be full, it’s hard slogging, and surely it shouldn’t have to be like this, 30 poems and then the impetus sort of disappeared,  maybe……

Make sense, let me elaborate.

Writing rhyming prose and poetry to a person almost devoid of imagination, special cognitive processes included,  I seem to be have missed the bus, not only that it seems my poetry has a problem with ‘cultural cringe’, (a comment that will bring Australians to their feet). This paragraph is derived from some comments in the past, and so largely they have been ignored.

And now dear reader you will be subjected to one of my poetry brain bubbles, a poem that emanated from 18 years as a member of AVALON BEACH SURF LIFE SAVING CLUB, a fraternity of wonderful boys and girls, old blokes and Grandma’s.

Many years ago, we were competing in a Surf Carnival at Nth. Palm Beach, SYDNEY NSW. The surf turned ordinarily large, in fact it turned out enormous, people and watercraft

Boy that hurt

were getting trashed at an alarming rate. I think the word was;

“The incredible attrition dynamic undergoing competitors’ and their life saving accouterments necessitated cancellation of the said contest”.

Quote: The Gallagombonne Chronicle.

My hero and older mentor, in fact, the “the hairy bugger” has suggested; “Well, since we’re up here we should give the general population a bit of a thrill, I’ve got a plan”. The plan included a Surf Boat the crew and a bigger than normal surf.

“How about a wave at Palm Beach”?

Any body familiar with PALM BEACH, Northern Beaches NSW? You will know that a very pleasant ‘Rip’ runs out on the southern end of the beach. It will take you past the rock pool and beyond. Broadly speaking this is the essence of; “I’ve got a plan”.

So. What are we on about here? OK, a 25 foot bond wood ply Surf Boat, 4 oarsmen, The sweep / tiller man was the inimitable Brian Sheehan, soon to become our enigma, and a bloody’ continuous set of waves coming in from the south east.

My poem has been heavily edited, it contained many blokey references to mixed adjectives, colloquial sayings and naughty words.


© john d farley 2008.

From the outset the task was fraught with extraordinary contrition.
There was ‘Bombhead’, Michael, Jackie, Me, and Big Brian the leader of the mission.
The world at large was watching us, mongrel Brian, YOU made this unprejudiced decision.
And so the boat was launched, we seemed prepared but with trepidation and derision.

At this point the intention must be clear and object made dispassionate.
“One wave is all we’ll catch, you blokes row I will steer, nature will help us fashin’ it”.
You will not believe how fast we traversed, 30 strokes took us from the beach to way way out the rear.
The Palm Beach Pool was just a blur, we’re out there folks, but why this impenden’ fear?

We settle down and collect our senses; we are in the big wave zone.
Just get me home to QY’s, a beer and why am I writing this watery tome.
Twenty foot, I recon was what we ups and flow.

Good Old Double Ender

We’re way way out the back, and we settle for Big Brian’s courteous request, “when I say you row, well row you bastards row”.

Their green and vast, unrelenting fast and have tons and tons of clout.
Supremacy is their potential, and I ask myself, please God how can I get out?
The beach is oh so distant, about a thousand yards; give a little take a mile.
I’m rowin’ bow and all I see is faceless backs, but the big man’s face has this wry, this oh so complacent smile.

And then the command to “stroke boys” is heard by all so clearly.
“We get this one, home and hosed on the beach we’ll be, the place you want so dearly”.
But like mongrel dogs we rowed,  poor really, for we mistrusted Big Brian’s brawn.
We backed off just in time, and this was where the big blokes scorn was born.

“You gutless, mango dispossessed, bunch of useless blokes. You heartless mongrels, bananas are proud of their yellow skins compared to you. That’s an oar in your hands, not your priapus, it won’t grow any bigger. Your hearts are like peas, you couldn’t run a dog fight.

You with me or agin’ me? Your not a crew, your a poor excuse for cowards. You couldnt’ pull a skin of a custard, weak as water.
If you had half a brain it would be lonely, as oarsmen you have no right, the next wave is for us you dogs, or you will be here all night”.

Possibly the longest display of relationship and adjectives in a poem this may be so.
But when ‘Big Brian’ gave the order row, you better bend your weakened backs, “row ya bastards row”.

Every word the big bloke uttered rang in our mongrel brains, and might I say to this day still.
One more goes Oh fearless one, one more chance you hairy bastard, and we’ll show the world we’re got the will.

So like a new page openin’ the crew is ready for the grind.
Forget about impending gloom, new courage is what we’ll find.
He sets us up on a mountain way way out the back, and oh my God it’s monumental and it’s also bloody huge.
No more backin’ off, no more gutless wonders, it’s time to end the subterfuge.

It’s two miles high and it’s three miles thick, it’s green and full of massiveness.
Colossal, vast, gigantic, well 18 foot we guess, now its time give this one our very best.
“Gentlemen prepare to stroke, give me what you’ve got.

WE may not win this race

Show the people on the beach a thrill or too, now you sheila’s give me your best shot.

“Row ya bastards, row like men possessed, and then some if you will”.
We did just that, we bent them oars, and watched the mammoth start to fill.
We’re on this colossus at a blinding pace and down the face we rushes.
Brian yells “trail them oars, come back boys, Jackie lend a hand don’t let the mongrel crush us”.

Fifteen foot of boat protrudes from our watery feat of nature, and we can feel the awesome hum of dominance.
“Stay in the middle, get right back, sit on the bloody’ floor, right now we are on our way to International prominence”.
I’m looking ‘round, the pace is frantic and forever in my memories eye.
Lookin’ back I see that bloody great sweep oar embedded in Big Brian’s thigh.

It seems just like eternity, well at least for some long time and then some more.
This great wave is runnin’ green and then comes that awesome roar.
Way above our heads the monsters cresting starts, cascading tumbling and spewing spume and foam.
But Big Brian knows the trial, the ultimate test is nigh, “hang on you scungie lot, I’ll get you bastards home”.

“Trust me boys, we’re not beat yet but this bastards got a punch, Jackie, push with me and  we w all be high and dry.
The energy this mammoth is expending has instilled us with a classic high.
With gargantuan proportions the wall of water on our stern will turn mortal men to awe.
And I will wager this, all you ‘Boatie’ folk, you’ll have a fear or two ‘cause now you’ll be unsure.

Now it’s time to include and assimilate the thoughts of fellow poets, wager this, never ventured.
Have you been there, will you relate a concluding thought into places never censored?
Four gutless blokes, a mighty boat, with Brian Sheehan at the blunt end.
He has swept us from obscurity, and we bent our backs, the old hairy bastard was a God send.

When Big Brian says “row ya bastards Row”, do it bloke, you not here for a good time, and just don’t row for show.
You might be big and brawny, without the man I wager you don’t have a show
We are near the beach and we’ve beaten that crushing ocean.
But without a frown,  our ego’s born, so what’s the bloody commotion.

But you have never heard a sound so beloved, precious, and filled with dear relief.
Of that of plywood plowing beach sand, now your back on decks your home is underneath.
Recollections of this trauma have been stretched and mixed with graphic.

You don’t believe me…

Well guess I’ll have to tell yer, on the beach was a camera crew from the National Geographic.

Dedicated to; BRIAN SHEEHAN, AVALON BEACH SURF CLUB, copyright © John D. Farley 2008.



Monetization, I am still disappointed

“THis was most needed and inevitable”, they said, “I never wanted to make YouTube a viable career path”, I said. Not only that my income from my videos was to say the least, minimal, but a welcome little payment for the hours and the diligent input expended.

Never the less I can imagine, not, the dilemma that the hard workers and movers and shakers of this massive organisation have to consider, “you can please some of the people some of the time, and you can please most of the people most of the time, but you can’t please all etc”.

So what’s my beef, you may ask, well 4,000 hours watch time over 12 months and 1,000 subscribers was never going to happen, like, a non event. Of course this criteria is far and above my 272 subscribers and 744,087 views, (over a period of 10 years). And here I am thinking that my channel was average in it’s popularity. Then again in all inquisitiveness what will a YouTube Channel get, am I really in the ‘average’, or below the average’. Perhaps the figures that are quoted must be a clue, if so I am well below the average, drat and stuff.

Checking back, in 2017 my channel was viewed 10,000 hours, 122,000 views, princely sum of $210.35 Au., so at least one of the criteria was achieved.

Well now that’s out of the road, so there must be a hidden agenda to my WordPress Blog you may say, and you would be correct in assuming my comment re. agenda. Negative to hitting on YouTube, I have had lots of fun with the concept firstly, taking the video footage then compiling the clips and making movies with various video editing software, incidentally one of the other features ‘pulled’ by the organisation was the in-house ability to edit videos.

Disappointment? What about the decrease in viewers, where did they go. I was comfortable with 6/7,000 views per 28 day period, heaps of comments, some sarcastic but most were given in a positive manner. Now strangely views seem to be on the rise, that’s par for the course I suppose. You want a sneak peek? Like surfing and boats, link below:

My YouTube Channel

That’s my gripe, you may have similar/dissimilar views, let me know but be advised I am only a small, (creator), fish in a big pond, regards john f.

LATE BREAKING NEWS: The wind in the willows must have rustled up some activity on my YouTube site, woow.


youtube screen shot1


Elsewhere in my cyber space, viz a viz, another WordPress exercise, I had embarked on a commercial venture to offer a variety of digital photos images for sale.

Currently and while the site receives many views, not many sales are, lets say, evident,

Mexicali Frangipani Cluster

perhaps I am in a marketplace of preposterous proportions, you know like a small fish in a big sea. Perhaps you as the reader may like to offer some advice on the pros and cons of marketing my products, feel free.

The lovely Frangipani cluster is but an example lifted from the ‘SHOP FARLEY’ post in, I have included several other images for you peruse.




Average 3 Mb. file size.

.jpeg/.jpg file interchange format.

Dimensions = 3072 by 2304 pixels and 4000 by 3000 pixels. 

72 dpi.


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