Friday, April 18, 2014

The secret island near Queenscliff

from w
There's an island off Queenscliffe, accessed by a bridge for those who play golf -  through a checkpoint though - that is very very secretive. It's Swan Island and a base for the military who come and go but not via Queenscliff. Protesters occasionally rock up there and I think fifteen are in a court case at present. Men's secret business. Costs the government many millions a year.  Anyway perhaps the kangaroos know more than we do.
Swan Island near Queenscliffe has become Australia’s finishing school for special forces and counter-terrorism teams. 
 from the Herald Sun newspaper: 
A TOP-secret military island off the coast of Victoria remains a mystery, despite costing taxpayers almost $30 million dollars. The area has been a flurry of action since September 11 with the Australian Defence Force pumping at least $29 million into the compound since July 2009. Despite the multi-million dollar facelift, few people know what goes on inside the facility and which government department is in control.Gangland serial killer Carl Williams was removed from Barwon Prison and escorted to Swan Island with his father George in December 2008. He spent nine days on the military base giving statements to authorities before he was returned to jail.
Three SAS soldiers died on the island in 2007 after their vehicle crashed into the water when they were returning to base.
In 2010 it was rumoured spies from the Australian Secret Intelligence Service were using the 297ha compound along with operatives from overseas.
Queenscliff residents remain in the dark about the island and even local workers are tight-lipped about what goes on behind the fortified gate. “You never hear them and you never see them,’’ according to one Queenscliff local. “They (soldiers) keep to themselves and arrive by boat through the port so we never see them.’’
Bizarrely, the compound demolition field is neighboured by a luxury golf course but players must register at the military checkpoint before crossing to the island.
The base is protected by 3m barbed wire fences and boats are not allowed to approach the island. The ADF has refused to reveal what upgrades have been made but admits millions had been spent on what is one of Australia’s most top secret areas. No information can be found on government websites regarding the base.
Anti-war protests also shone some light on the facility after four people swam to the island in 2010, disconnecting equipment, including emergency satellites. Up to 15 protesters will appear in Geelong Magistrate’s court this week charged with trespass after breaking onto the island in 2013.
Defence refused to reveal if foreign troops such as US special forces have also used the facility.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Another bright idea from our mayor with the ruff like Fuzzie the guinea pig

from w
Saw this in tonight's version of the Geelong Advertiser.  Down at Jirrahlinga in Barwon Heads, the Mayor and a delegation from China.

Cashed-up Chinese executives impressed with Geelong’s investment prospects

Chinese investors were in Geelong to learn about potential opportunities in the region an
Chinese investors were in Geelong to learn about potential opportunities in the region and went to Jirrahlinga Wildlife Sanctuary as part of their visit. PIC: Peter Ristevski Source: News Limited
Mayor Darryn Lyons fends off a dingo which had a nibble on his mayoral robes. PIC: Peter
Mayor Darryn Lyons fends off a dingo which had a nibble on his mayoral robes. PIC: Peter Ristevski Source: News Limited
A DELEGATION of 30 cashed-up Chinese business executives were impressed by what they were told about investment opportunities in Geelong, according to organisers.
Geelong Mayor Darryn Lyons and Enterprise Geelong director Russell Walker welcomed the delegation to Geelong at a morning function at The Pier.
From the meeting area they enjoyed sweeping views of Geelong’s waterfront, and Mayor Lyons pointed out the “grassy knoll” in Eastern Park earmarked for a spa and wellness centre.
Cr Lyons also mentioned the opportunities surrounding his idea for a Chinatown in the CBD, possible along Little Malop St west of Moorabool St.
“One of my personal ambitions is to establish a Chinatown in Central Geelong and we’ve already had some very productive discussions about this with local Chinese business leaders,” Mayor Lyons said.
“I think we have a unique opportunity to create a Chinese business and dining precinct and in my experience such precincts do much to activate cities and are widely welcomed by the community.’’
Delegate and PKU president Liang Naizhong also mentioned the Chinatown plan in his response to the welcome.
“I am told in Geelong that you are going to have a Chinatown,’’ he said. “I am expecting to hear more.’’
Mr Naizhong said he looked forward to hearing more about other investment opportunities in Geelong. The delegation later heard from a number of local businesses looking to explore opportunities to work together.
During its visit the delegation met with the Victorian Government’s Invest Victoria unit.
Enterprise Geelong was part of this presentation and had an opportunity to welcome the group prior to their arrival in Geelong.
Dr Walker said later that the presentations to the delegates had been well received, and the delegates had been impressed with the unique investment opportunities offered by Geelong.
“A lot of them were looking at lifestyle opportunities and Geelong really lends itself to that,’’ he said.
There was also a pleasant surprise for the delegates when they left the meeting room in the form of some native animals supplied by Jirrahlinga Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary provided two koalas, a wallaby, a dingo and an echidna, but the most popular for photos turned out to be the baby wombat.
Mayor Lyons said he was known as “Wombat” when he was in London.
Darryn Lyons shows off our national wildlife to Chinese investors. PIC: Peter Ristevski
Darryn Lyons shows off our national wildlife to Chinese investors. PIC: Peter Ristevski Source: News Limited

Geelong Animal Welfare celebrates 58 years

from w
Not far down the road in Moolap is the Geelong Animal Welfare, and they celebrated a birthday - 58 years so here's a photo of an inquisitive little cat.  I was considering sending Izzie and Fuzzie there when I was a bit tired of sweeping and feeding and hearing their squeaking from the enclosed verandah, but then I thought that someone might buy them and put them in a cage and they are not used to that. They have the freedom of roaming at will within the large verandah.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Swan Hill High girls - sixty years on

from w
Meeting up with seven friends yesterday in Melbourne brought back so many memories of childhood. We were eight women having a Thai lunch together at the Victoria Hotel cafe, who had been in Swan Hill High School Year Eleven together sixty years ago. We were such good friends then so that we are very comfortable with one another even now. We had then been in and out of each other's homes, knowing one another's Mums, sharing adventures, learning, and mild mischief. Some of us shared youth club, church, movies and camps. Country teenagers. Gwen, Sally, Rhonda, Jess, Phyllis, Meryl, Beth. These were my best friends, as close as family members, yet over the years we were neglectful and rarely caught up. By the late 50s most of us had left the home town of Swan Hill to marry, or train as teachers etc, pursue tertiary studies in Bendigo or Melbourne. In those days there were no fees and we even were given a living allowance and free board. So different from today.  It was a lovely day in Melbourne though too much walking meant a hot water bottle and some Deep Heat when I got back home. Thank you to Rhonda for organising our get-together.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

About the film 'Noah'

from w
Have any of you had a chance to see the movie 'Noah'.? Yesterday evening Peceli and I went so I'll post my review of it sometime tomorrow perhaps. The character of Noah is complex as he is obsessed and often violent, not a soft sentimental hero at all (though he's a vegetarian also also can watch a flower grow). The film's narrative has strong psychological elements as well as being an epic with ideas that Tolkien would have written into the Noah legend/myth perhaps. As the Noah story (and there are a score of other flood stories in many countries) is included in the religious books of three world religions - Jew, Islam, Christian, there's sure to be some strong reactions. I think it's worth watching, even though you might frown at some of the excesses, then talk about it with people afterwards.
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Thursday, April 03, 2014

It's easy to forget it all, but some people still care

from w
Diversitat and local refugee action groups are organising a rally on Saturday.

Geelong to rally for asylum seekers

An asylum seeker boat.
An asylum seeker boat. Source: News LimitedORGANISERS expect hundreds of people to rally in central Geelong on Saturday in support of asylum seekers and calling for end to mandatory detention.
Geelong’s Combined Refugee Action Group has convened the rally in response to growing concern over treatment of people exercising their humanitarian right to seek asylum.
More than 700 people crowded the group’s last event at Geelong West Town Hall.
“The idea of course is to focus attention on the situation in respect of those on Manus Island and Nauru, the difficulties they are encountering and the care for them,” group spokesman Monsignor James Murray said.
“They’re being treated as illegal and in fact they’re not and more and more people are becoming concerned about the situation and wanting to do something about it.
“The voice of the people in a democracy is so important.”
The rally will be in Little Malop St from 12.30pm.
Speakers will include Bishop Peter Danaher of Newtown’s All Saints Anglican Church, counsellor Jason Brown, group member Linda Cusworth and a Tamil refugee from Melbourne.
Monsignor Murray urged people to attend.
“Asylum seekers and refugees are in fear of their lives and we’re not giving them the help and support they need,” Monsignor Murray said.
“So many are traumatised. They might think Australia would treat them a bit better but unfortunately we’re not at the moment.”

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

South Geelong Uniting Church closes

from w
There's so much sadness about the closure of the South Geelong Uniting Church - not the decision of the congregation - but Head Office in Melbourne sold the church from under the feet of a small group of faithful elderly men and women. They'd kept the building neat and tidy and had upgraded a steeple and it was a total shock to them a few months ago. Toyota bought the property. Even Uniting Care - the welfare network main office for Geelong - has had to go.  On Sunday there was a last service and the door was closed and locked.  The congregation will join us at East Geelong and we welcome these men and women and recognize their grief.  I still am disengaged with the hierarchy of the church in Melbourne as we, in Geelong, had nothing to do with the gross debt accumulated so stupidly by the decision makers in Melbourne.

And of course our family and friends have protested noisily about the sale of our nearby Denman Street tennis courts by the Uniting Church head office. Our tennis courts have only a week or so to pack up once the new owner moves in to demolish the courts, clubroom and probably build units. The settlement date is in April. Our teams have found a place to relocate - at Breakwater - but without a clubroom.  Meanwhile our sons and grandsons play social tennis at Denman Street every day as the summer tournament has finished.

from today's Geelong Advertiser.

ELDER Albert Renshaw first ­attended South Geelong Uniting Church in the 1920s and on Sunday he closed its front door for the last time.
Mr Renshaw, 97, was given the honour after about 80 parishioners gathered to mark the closure of the church and offer thanksgiving for 145 years of worship within its bluestone walls.
Elders chairman Ric Killick said the service was emotional but held high purpose, marking time to move on.
Congregation members will join East Geelong Uniting Church. “We move away from what’s been 145 years of church — and it’s the only one in the South Geelong district — so that’s the end of it,” Mr Killick said.
“It’s emotional but we’ve been down the emotional path.
“All of the congregation was asked to come forward and light a candle in recognition of past ministers and past congregations and to indicate to the whole of the gathering that we were moving as a group and not as singles.”
The Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania sold the church as part of a property disposal to ease debt linked to closure of Melbourne Acacia College last year.
The Reverend Bert Bell, who was minister at the church for many years, led Sunday’s service.
Leaders presented Mr Renshaw with a plaque acknowledging his nine decades of service to church and community and the long-time naming of the adjoining Albert Renshaw Hall, which is likely to be demolished.
Mr Killick said acknowledgments also included a salute to Darren and Clair Morrison, the last people married in the church, and their daughter Chloe, who was the last child baptised in the church.
He said congregation members had prepared for the next step. “The point about it is the emotion starts to fall away after a little while and you look to the future, that’s basically what we’re doing,” he said.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Church just ain't like it used to be

from w
Church was enjoyable this morning at Altona Meadows/Laverton. As soon as we arrived there was a congo line leaping and singing 'We are marching in the light of God' and it kept getting better from there. Some of my favourite contemporary songs were included. Bible reading - a play script. Five tables with activities on the theme 'Blind man' - light and darkness and touch - massaging hands, rewriting Psalm 23 and so on. Peceli sang a verse from a Fijian hymn. One table - writing prayers of the people. There was plenty of discussion and Rev Sue held the chaos in a kind of control. Afterwards we had a delicious morning tea with lemon tarts etc. and yarned with three or four people. This is a congregation mainly of young families and some grandparents, they are used to surprises at worship.
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