Bradford on Avon

Phyllis and I have spent the last week visiting our wonderful friends, Paul and June Bailey, at Bradford on Avon (not to be confused with the Bradford of North England or the Avon of Stratford on Avon). Here are some images from this wonderful area of England:

Bradford on Avon - Silver Street
Bradford on Avon – Silver Street
Bradford on Avon - footbridge
Bradford on Avon – footbridge
Bradford on Avon - Saxon Church
Bradford on Avon – Saxon Church
Bradford on Avon - Saxon Church - Phyllis pontificating
Bradford on Avon – Saxon Church – Phyllis pontificating
Bath - Great Poultney Street
Bath – Great Poultney Street
Bath - Poultney Weir
Bath – Poultney Weir
Avebury Stone Circle
Avebury Stone Circle
Avebury - Manor House
Avebury – Manor House
Avebury Manor - exercise chair
Avebury Manor – exercise chair
Mere - trout farm
Mere – trout farm

Next week: London!

Travelling People

Travelling People album image
Travelling People album image

Recent speakers at my Probus club have reminded me of the travelling days of my more youthful times. They spoke of expeditions ranging from Lightning Ridge and Carnarvon in outback Australia to traversing the Sahara Desert in a Kombi van.

My own youthful travelling days were not nearly as exciting: I flew to London in 1968 on a working holiday. But I did meet my future wife, Phyllis! When I first met her, I was very impressed with a vinyl record album of hers by the Irish singing group, the Johnstons. Phyllis’ favourite track was called ‘I Never Shall Marry’ (I didn’t take the hint), but I loved the title track ‘Travelling People’ and, although I was not an Irish tinker on which the song was based, I certainly identified with the lyrics: ‘I’m a freeborn man of the travelling people, Got no fixed abode, with nomads I am numbered…’ It was 1968 after all!

As I write this week’s blog contribution, I am reminded of this song as I contemplate another sojourn away. Phyllis and I are once again returning to the UK and Ireland, probably for the last time; and although we won’t be using the traditional tinker’s mode of transport (and I don’t think they are now ether) I like to think that we are still travelling people, and at our time of life, it shouldn’t be any other way. For as the song ends… ‘Your travelling days will soon be over.’

Digitising the Lazaret at Peel Island

Since 2012, students from the Architecture Faculty at the University of Queensland (UQ) have been involved in digitising the former lazaret at Peel Island for the CyArk project.  One of the pieces of equipment they have been using is the robot shown below. This proved invaluable in scanning the interior of the former doctor’s house at the institution, whose floors have been rendered unsafe for humans to tread due to whiteant infestation.

The three wheeled robot with GoPro cameras front and back
The three wheeled robot with GoPro cameras front and back

To explain how CyArk works, it is best to go to its website at which explains to us initiated folk:

CyArk uses cutting edge technology to capture detailed 3D representations of world’s significant cultural heritage sites before they are lost to natural disasters, destroyed by human aggression or ravaged by the passage of time.

By bouncing laser light off the surfaces, 3D scanners measure millions of points a second, accurate to a few millimeters to create a 3D data set, or point cloud. Colours represent the intensity of reflection from the surface.

Individual data points are joined together via small triangles, connecting each of the dots and forming a wireframe. These triangles are used to form a solid surface from the points, which creates a solid 3D model.

The 3D model generated from the point cloud is then coloured using photographs taken of the surface of the structure. The result is a photo-real 3D model which can be used to further study the monument and used for conservation and education.

This week I attended a demonstration of the Peel Island project at UQ, along with other members of the Friends of Peel Island Association ( and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. The work already done by the UQ students is impressive and it is hoped to have the project uploaded on the CyArk site in the not too distant future. When this happens you’ll be able to  digitally explore the lazaret as it was back in 1955!

Peel Island Lazaret - c.1955 - buildings panorama (Dr Morgan Gabriel)
Peel Island Lazaret – c.1955 – buildings panorama (image from Dr Morgan Gabriel)

My only misgiving was the length of the project’s digital life on the web, given the rate at which the web’s technology is outdated. CyArk claims that it will keep up with all changes so that the project will last forever. Now ‘Forever’ is a rather a bold statement when it comes to the internet. I’ll be interested to see whether this claim holds true!

Stories from Bulimba – 3

Ron Peterson:

‘Just after the war, when I was 18, I began work at Rheems, but my real desire was to work on boats, so I obtained a Launchmaster’s Licence, and managed to get permission to leave Rheems.  It seems strange these days to have to seek permission to leave a job, but it was just after WWII and manpower was extremely short, especially in essential industries.

‘I began work on the ferry at Bulimba which ran from 4 pm until 9 am.  There were two shifts: 4 pm to 1 am, and 1 am to 9 am.  The “Hetherington”, a vehicular ferry, ran during the day.  During my shift, I ran a regular shuttle service until 2 am, after which time I’d tie up at Bulimba and do maintenance work on the boat.  Any prospective passengers on the north bank would have to ring a bell to attract my attention.  These were mainly Courier Mail shiftworkers and party goers.’

Reference: Moreton Bay People, The Complete Collection

Royal yacht Britannia’s welcome on Brisbane River 29 Sep 1982
Royal yacht Britannia’s welcome on Brisbane River 29 Sep 1982

Glenys Powell:

‘I’m a river rat from Bulimba. We were Reliance River Rangers and we sailed out of Watt’s boat building business next to the Apollo Ferry. We sailed in the sailing season and rescued little boys in the overturned moths. We had an old English-style sailing boat, clinker hulled, sixteen feet (4.8 metres) – a scream of a boat. We used to sail down to Bishop Island and back in it.

‘When Britannia came with Queen Elizabeth II, who was a Ranger in her day, we went to welcome her, along with a whole flotilla of small craft. Our ship put up a message in flags and someone on the Britannia’s bridge read it, quickly ran down and told the Queen, and she came around to our side of the ship so she could see our message, gave us a wave, and actually strung up a message in flags in reply to us.’

Reference: The Port of Brisbane, Its People and Its Personalities

Glenys Powell:

‘In the 1950s the Brisbane River was a wonderful river! We knew when the blue and black funnel ships came in that we’d get rain, and sure enough it would bucket down! Even the teachers would look out when it was raining and see the blue and black funnels moored across the river.

‘Flying boats used to land at what we called the old hockey fields.

‘For a kid coming from the coal mines at Ipswich, the river was a fascinating scene. All the ships coming in and turning. I remember the Himalaya – a large ship – turning in the river, and it just made it around in the limited space for a ship of its size.

‘I lived at the industrial end of Bulimba – there was some noise from the Cairncross Dockyard but it was aircraft that were noisiest. The people at Hamilton got a reduction in their rates because of it but we at Bulimba – just across the river – never got a bean.’

Reference: The Port of Brisbane, Its People and Its Personalities

Lyle White:

‘I grew up at Bulimba and was apprenticed as a boat builder at Milkraft in 1958. It was just about all timber boatbuilding then. We built a lot of fishing boats after World War II as there was a bountiful supply of prawns and fish.

‘Milkraft also built cruise boats and recreational boats. In any one year they’d make 15 or 20 timber boats, which were either sharpie (V) or carvel (round) hull designs. Most of the trawlers were sharpies, which were cheaper than the carvel type. The bigger cruise ships were carvels. By the time I got out of boat building in 1967 they were starting to find new materials to build with. Aluminium and fiberglass were just starting off. Until then, we had only used fiberglass to sheathe battery boxes and iceboxes rather than using metal, which would corrode.’

Reference: The Port of Brisbane, Its People and Its Personalities

Ken Brown (‘Brownie’):

‘I’ve always thought tugboats were the coolest looking boats. I really loved them because when they got a job they’d have to steam down from the Customs House and pick up the ship at the mouth of the river and bring it back up and were always making good way coming down the river.

‘When me and my buddies saw one coming down the Hawthorne Reach, we’d paddle our surfboards like crazy out onto the mud flat at Bulimba Point. As the tug came round the corner the stern wave would hit the mudbank, and because the tug was turning the corner it would tighten the wave up even more and we used to get waves up to three feet high. There would be three or four of them come off the stern of these tugs because of the amount of draught that they had. The first waves I ever rode as a surfer were at Bulimba Point!  That was how I satisfied my surfing lust when I wasn’t at the beach.

‘The other sad thing that’s missing now from the Brisbane River is the sailing. When everyone was coming home with spinnakers up, the Brisbane River was just fantastic. In the winter they played footy; in the summer, if they weren’t playing cricket they went sailing. Of course, the guys that had a bit of money had boats, but a lot were built under people’s houses. It was the workingman’s sport and there was a huge following, with spectator boats taking people out to watch it.

‘I think Brisbane lost part of its identity when the sailing clubs moved away from the river, and I really would love to see it again. If there’s anybody out there reading this that wants to do something really neat for Brisbane, work out a way to bring sailing back onto the river, and our river will come back to life again.’

Reference: The Port of Brisbane, Its People and Its Personalities

Don Campbell:

‘Although both my wife, Joan, and I were born in Toowoomba, we purchased a general store and news agency in Bulimba soon after our marriage. The store, Balmoral News, was initially situated at the old tram terminus, which is now the roundabout on the corner of Bulimba and Oxford Streets.

‘When we opened for business on 8 November 1959, there was no sealed footpath outside, and entering the shop required a high step up from the dirt pavement. To make entrance easier for our customers we quickly had a wooden platform build at the entrance. Soon after opening we discontinued the grocery side of the business, and expanded the newsagency side to include a Golden Casket agency, as well as selling stationery, books, and greeting cards. In those days, there used to be three caskets drawn per week, and our shop was allotted four books each of twenty tickets to sell. Each ticket sold for about $1. In our first year of operations the shop sold one first prize of $30,000 as well as numerous other prizes.

‘Being at the tram terminus, we had a lot of trammies with headaches coming in to the shop to buy a packet of Bex or a Vincents to take with an Indian Tonic or a Coke.

‘Joan and I were to ride the last tram on 13 April 1969, the date the Brisbane City Council ceased their tramway’s operation. We still have thei souvenir tickets from the ride.’

Reference: Don Campbell in conversation with Peter Ludlow 2014