Leslie James Robertson – Vale

In memory of Leslie (Sir Les) Robertson who passed away peacefully on August 9, 2017 in his 88th year following a short illness. A man who contributed greatly to the Diamond Creek OM:NI group with his humour and poetry.

You’ll be missed Les.

The following poem was the first he ever presented to the group in October 2013.

 

STILL DREAMING

I ran around the kitchen, with a duster in my hand,
The family was coming and I wanted it looking grand.
You could see the footprints clearly, making patterns in the dust,
So, to keep them off my back – cleanliness was a must.

Since I’d been living here alone they sometimes check on me,
They’re doing me a favour, that much I could see.
Since my wife left for better care, that somehow, now she needed,
I also had outside to mind – and keep the garden weeded.

Often, I get lonely here, just me to make a noise,
The dog will sometimes bark a bit but I’ve not lost my poise.
The grass grows long and really thick, I have to use the mower,
Up and down and back and forth – I sometimes think I’m slower.

But I know lots of people who are not as well as me,
“Cos I can jog around the block, with the dog for company.
Now, I’m not as fit as I once was and I have to walk a bit,
And when that’s the best that I can do – I’ll make the best of it.

I’d like to have a woman here, to keep me on my toes.
Not too young and not too old, just middle-aged I s’pose.
perhaps I could just borrow one, if her love life isn’t finished,
She could show me all the tricks – till my love life’s diminished.

Then when I wake up and realize that I was only dreaming,
I wonder why my slow old brain hasn’t finished scheming.
If I’m alive at 105 and find I’m making plans,
I’ll have had a great life, not ever in strife ……
…………as good as any man’s.

Another Marvelous day in Marvelous Melbourne

The threat of rain was passing and the sun was venturing out as several OMNI men sat at the Eltham station waiting to catch the 8.32am train into the city to participate in COTA’s 3 monthly meeting at 9.30am. As we chatted and laughed away the back yards and homes slipped quickly by as the sun sent search lights and flashes from the high rise windows as if saying “come on the suns up.

We stepped out onto the platform at Flinders St. Station and quickly crossed into Elizabeth St heading to Block Arcade – 98 Elizabeth Street, passing some homeless people asleep on the footpath, it was only 8 deg c. Up the lift to the 4th floor of this iconic building that was sold last year for 110 million dollars. There was a buzz of activity as men jostled for coffee and biscuits. We sat around the large board room table and listened to the reports the reps gave from the various Victorian groups.

The success was applauded with great enthusiasm plus some laughter here and there, biscuits and tea for morning break followed by a video of promotional activity created by the skills of older men with ideas. Followed by a lovely lunch of healthy rolls and more coffee, mixed with exchanges of ideas, hand shakes and we vaporized into various directions and modes of transport with the exciting thought of all meeting again before Christmas. BUT NOT AT THIS VENUE.

We were informed that COTA was moving to a new address because of the rising rent required, so we are going to a lovely spot in Little Lonsdale Street near the Flagstaff Gardens and the underground station.

So guess what, the three Omniteers Ken, Nick and Daryl went exploring again along Elizabeth St., left turn into Little Lonsdale St and there was a high-rise crane suspended above the traffic lifting huge buckets of concrete several stories above extending the height of the city’s skyline whilst a man suspended from a single rope and a small platform was painting the outside of a skyscraper with a roller some 10 stories above where we gazed in awe.

Onward to the future home of COTA, Council On The Ageing, and as the photo will show this high-rise dwarfs the single level brick dwelling beside it, which has a brick front, lane-way down one side revealing a long blue-stone wall, very mysterious perhaps it was a Cobb and Co station when Melbourne ran on horsepower.

We met three lovely ladies having coffee on the sidewalk they took our photos and helped us with our iphones and enlightened us with the current history of our new meeting home.

We dared each other and went up by lift to have an optic and were invited in and given some lovely biscuits by a very sweet young lady. There is a nice coffee shop on the ground floor of which we partook and a blackboard therein chalked a message “what did the wig say to the bald head?” …….. I will leave the answer up to you!

Around the corner down the steps that lead below the foundations of Melbourne’s sky scrapers and onto the City loop train heading back to Eltham and Diamond Creek. We engaged in conversation with two Ivanhoe school kids on the way and asked them how many times can you fold a piece of paper in half. After a guess of 7 times we gave them an OMNI brochure to fold but the best they could do 6 times. We asked if they could recognize any one the OMNI brochure and in a flash the boy pointed to me, asking in a cheeky manner we said and what’s his name the reply was Daryl. This set us back a yard or two asking how did you know my name? The answer, he said – “it is on your name tag in the photo!”

His said his father is aged 45 so we gave him the brochure to give to his Dad with an invitation to join OMNI when turns 50.

Broome W.A.

July 2017 and finally a destination we have longed to visit for quite a while!

On arrival in Broome, from cold and wet Melbourne the days gave way to beautiful, warm, sunny days averaging 30* every day,  giving the old pins to once again adorn shorts and soak up the sun.

Our accommodation was the “Bali Hai Resort” that gave the feeling of being on a holiday in Asia, with the rooms, decor, buildings, garden layout and atmosphere all allowing relaxation to kick in within minutes of arrival.

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This particular holiday we decided not to rent a car, and instead, do lots of walking each day to discover the town and its surroundings utilizing the magnificent and very reasonably priced town bus service.

 It was our desire to experience as much as possible during our stay, the only downside of the trip was mainly due to ocean tidal changes, and, one only bus service connection to “Gantheaume Point” first thing in the morning, the opportunity to see and stand in the 130 million-year-old Dinosaur footprints was to hopefully  see them at any future visit we may embark upon.

Some of the outings we experienced included attending the huge local “Court House” markets set amongst tropical frangipani trees in full flower, displays of local produce, local entertainment performers, various stalls on yummy smelling food outlets and trash and treasure of all varieties,from there a stroll into town to visit the “Pearl Luggers” outlet reflected many of the origins of Broome’s primary pearling industry.

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On three separate occasions we visited Chinatown in the heart of Broome and enjoyed the towns unique multicultural character, the vast amount of outlets where pearls/jewellery could be inspected and purchased, and indeed the wonderful variety of eating establishments, all having both indoor and outdoor dining on the footpath where  the sunshine and fresh air could be enjoyed.

A point of historical interest was that 75 years ago the Broome airport was the target of a Japanese air raid resulting in a high cost of 70 lives being lost and the destruction of a fleet of flying boats that were enclosed in nearby “Roebuck Bay”.

Our resort was about a five-minute walk to the magnificent 20 kilometers plus length of Cable Beach to view the evening sunset.  The villa was fully self-contained amongst beautifully manicured gardens, we additionally had a secluded outdoor dining area and also a secluded outdoor shower for use on hot days.

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Cable Beach.

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Another highlight was the “Astronomy lecture and star viewing night’; we were collected from our accommodation in a huge 4WD vehicle, and driven about an hour out into the hinterland where a large area of scrub had been cleared for seating about 100 people on fold up chairs and 10 big telescopes pointed out into deep space. The lecture on the universe went for a very informative hour followed by the viewing of the night sky.

The absolute experience that we both thoroughly enjoyed was a 10.5 hour day adventure, that is truly a natural wonder of our world.The Horizontal Falls are only accessible by either boat, helicopter or sea plane.

We were collected at 5:30 am in a 4WD that took us to the Beagle Bay Mission where a welcome stop for a cuppa and biscuits was enjoyed. At this mission is the Beagle Bay church that had the altar and backdrop made from a collection of Mother of Pearl shells that gave a unique and interesting look.

Beagle Bay Mission Church.

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On the road again our next stop was “Cygnet Bay” pearl farm where breakfast was waiting for us prior to going on a tour through the establishment, a history of pearling and a demonstration of pearl seeding was given.

All fed and watered, we next boarded the 4WD again and headed to a small private tarmac,where we climbed aboard a combined land/seaplane for a half hour flight over the Buccaneer Archipelago consisting of in excess of 2000 small islands situated in the most beautiful blue/aqua colored waters to our destination of “Talbot Bay”.

 

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We smoothly landed on the water and taxied to the “Horizontal Falls Pontoon” to have a wonderful Barramundi lunch and refreshments and also if one was game enough have a swim with the sharks.

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Finally the most exciting part of the day trip was when we boarded a 900hp very fast Jet Stream boat (The fastest in all the Kimberley) that took us through the most thrilling ride into the horizontal falls (6x) and then to let the adrenaline subside a cruise around the surrounding creeks and bays prior to returning to the pontoon and boarding the Seaplane. This was a direct flight back to Broome airport and on arrival to be delivered back to our accommodation.  Wow, what a great holiday and new experiences to tick off the bucket list.

 

“A short trip to “Pennyroyal”.

Early March 2017 was when we headed off for a few days break at “Pennyroyal“, which is in the vicinity of the very small township of “Deans Marsh” roughly located between Lorne and Birragurra, Victoria.

Why Deans Marsh? well my eldest sister and her family lived in this isolated region back in 1957 and it consisted of very little more than a sawmill, a store and houses occupied by the sawmill employees and it was a place where I would spend many an Easter, school holidays or Christmas with my young niece and nephew and enjoy the tranquility of the outback bush countryside.

Memories abound of swimming in the waterhole beneath a bridge, going rabbiting, chopping starting wood chips for the massive IXL cast iron stove that burned constantly as it also heated the hot water and the wonderful smells of fresh air and the wood fire.

Not having been in this region for such a long time and having many vivid and enjoyable times there in my youth, we booked a B&B cabin at Pennyroyal.

Pennyroyal in itself is an insignificant place of bush and farmlands and not a town and is a five-minute drive from Deans Marsh. The place we stayed at was a fully kitted out cabin having magnificent views of the country side from the back verandah where we shared breakfast with so many different birds and their chorus every morning and at night viewed the abundance of heavenly stars above.

 

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Honeysuckle Cottage.

This was not a sit back and relax get away for we wanted to explore and experience as much as time permitted of the surrounding countryside.

Our many journeys included visiting/driving through the” Otway Ranges” into Lorne for lunch and a nice stroll along the beach, and a trip out to “Forrest” another very small township in the hinterland of the Otways where we lunched at the “Forrest Brewing Company”,a small micro brewing enterprise brewing hand crafted beers.

“Birragurra”, (another historic town of the region)is about a 20-minute drive from “Deans Marsh”, consisted of a very wide main street, shop fronts all of which were more than 100 years old and has an ambiance of utter slowness, peace, and quiet.

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Main Road Birragurra.

Next day we continued our journey onto the vibrant city of “Colac” where we explored the magnificent Botanical Gardens and had lunch at the garden’s restaurant that over looked the impressive Lake Colac, a massive fresh water catchment area that supplied the township.

As early afternoon approached, we first visited “Lake Cundare” salt lake then onto our next destination of “Red Rock Lookout“. That supplied us with a sturdy climb to the top and a reward of 360* of an uninterrupted vista of the many and varied craters left by volcanic activity from as little as 4000 years ago, after that a return to the cabin for a lovely home cooked meal and glass of wine.DSCN1747

Lake Cundare.(Salt Lake).

 

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Looking down from Red Rock lookout.

Whilst all of the above consisted of a lot of driving, it was well worth it as the experience was one you needed to personally appreciate what it offered!All in all, an enjoyable time.

 

The Labyrinth at Diamond Creek


When the Nillumbik Shire Council recently completed another footbridge over the Diamond Creek, it opened up to the public, parts of the Diamond Creek Reserve many had not seen before.

OM:NI – Mens Discussion Groups within Nillumbik Shire thought about how this experience might be enhanced. The northern part of the reserve has Marngrook Football Oval, Lawn Bowling, Netball, Community Centre, Child Minding, Children’s Playground and Off Leash Dog Park.

OM:NI felt a more passive opportunity was needed. They came up with the idea of a Labyrinth. Labyrinths are known to have existed in many parts of the world for over 4,000 years. With no knowledge of each other, they all had the same purpose. To provide a space for people to be quiet and to meditate and contemplate their place in the world.
Nillumbik Shire Council has built a ‘Pop-Up’ straw bale labyrinth for citizens far and wide to experience and to ‘like’ and to comment on Facebook at Diamond Creek Community Hub. Visit the site or take a drive out to Diamond Creek.

Photo – Peter Clark, Hurstbridge OM:NI, Leon Higgins, Eltham OM:NI, Nick Grange and Ken Ramplin Diamond Creek OM:NI.


***** In Greek mythology, the Minotaur was a creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man or, as described by Roman poet Ovid – as being “part man and part bull”. The Minotaur dwelt at the centre of the Labyrinth, which was an elaborate maze like construction designed by the architect Daedalus and his son Icarus, on the command of King Minos of Crete. With the aid of Ariadne, the keeper of the Labyrinth, the Minotaur was eventually killed by the Athenian hero Theseus.

A chance encounter with the Primrose Rugby Club

Primrose Rugby Club 2

On a blustery day in September 2012 my wife and I were relaxing in our seats in the rear of a plane on the tarmac at Cape Town’s international airport on our way back to Australia, when a babble of excited voices filled the aircraft and a group of young boys, accompanied by some adults, made their way to where we were sitting. We quietly braced ourselves for a long and noisy flight.

The boys were all dark-skinned and clearly belonged to some sort of sporting club.

Whilst growing up in South Africa during the Apartheid era, I had never once played sport against, nor even sat next to anyone who was not white. Under the laws of the time everything relating to racial matters was separate or ‘apart’ – sport, public transport, park benches, churches, schools, toilets and even public parks.

Having been active in the Anti-Apartheid movement for many years, it was a novel and heart-warming experience for me to share the plane with these excited, dark-skinned youngsters.

Their coach’s seat was not far from mine, on the other side of the aisle. I could tell that he had an excellent rapport with the kids. One of the boys came past and ruffled his hair. When they became too excited and noisy, he called them to order and they quietened down immediately.

“What is the name of your club?” I asked the coach.

“The Primrose Rugby Club. Our boys are going to compete in a rugby competition for Under 13s in New Zealand.”

I had never heard of the Primrose Rugby Club, so I asked him how long the club had been in existence. “It started in 1896,” he said. “It’s a community club. I used to play for them myself when I was young. We have at least one boy here who is going to play for South Africa one day,” he added confidently.

The separation or ‘apartheid’ between races when I grew up was so comprehensive that this rugby club, which had existed not far from where I had lived as a schoolboy, was unfamiliar to me.

“Do your teams sometimes fly to other parts of South Africa to compete?” I asked him.

“Oh no, very few of our players would ever have been in an aeroplane before.”

The excitement amongst the boys was palpable. One of them had taken more than a hundred photos on his digital camera in the plane even before take-off. Another exclaimed: “Look! They even have little televisions in here.” He turned to me. “Could you please show me how to switch this on?”

The plane started moving towards the runway. I asked the young fellow across the aisle from me if he had ever travelled in a plane before. “No, never,” he replied. “I’m very scared!”

As the plane gathered speed on the runway the boys’ voices grew louder and some of them cried out aloud in fright when it lifted off the ground. Suddenly, one of them started singing the post-Apartheid South African national anthem, “Nkosi Sikilel iAfrika” (“Lord Bless Africa”, in the Xhosa language) and all the others immediately joined in to sing their fear of flying away. It was an enthusiastic and beautiful impromptu performance.

Later, back in Melbourne, I googled the Primrose Rugby Club and found an amateur video of the boys on a New Zealand rugby field, standing in line and facing a long line of their young New Zealand opponents, who were performing the haka. I could imagine just how immensely the boys of the Primrose Rugby Club would have enjoyed that moment, and I was grateful that something like this had become possible in my lifetime.

Some months later I googled the Primrose Rugby Club again, curious to know how their tour of New Zealand had gone. One website informed me that they had made history as the first ever international team to have been invited to compete in the prestigious Annual New Zealand Junior Rugby Festival. Then I found a photo on another website that caused me to be overwhelmed with great emotion, as well as with a strange feeling of immense pride. There was the trophy for the Under 13 Champions of the New Zealand Junior Rugby Festival, perched on the shore of Table Bay, with Cape Town in the background.

Primrose Rugby Club trophy

 

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 POSTSCRIPT

At the time of writing this piece I had tried my utmost to find a contact email address or snail mail address for the Primrose Rugby Club so that I could share this story with them, but to my great frustration I was unable to do so. Then, out of the blue four years later, I received the following message per email:

22 June 2017

Hi There

It was by chance that I came across your article which was written in 2014 about a group of young rugby players setting off to play for the very first time in a foreign country. 🙂 Boys from Primrose Rugby Club.

I was on that plane with those boys and I would love to share your post on my blog: zivs2.wordpress.com

It was a really fascinating story which I would love to share with you some time.

Best regards

Zivia Sallie

 

22 June 2017

Reblogged this on The World of Zivs and commented: It was per chance that I found this article today. To all the Primrose Rugby boys, staff and parents who travelled on this flight with us…I’m sure you will all just be smiling when you read this.

 

22 June 2017

Dear Tim

You cannot imagine my delight in discovering your article this morning. It brought back so many fond memories of this tour and I have already shared with most families linked to that tour.

I will take some time out and email you the details and I am certain you will find it extremely fascinating.

The tour was a great success. We returned to SA with a Silver plate and boys whose lives had been changed forever.

I hope to be in touch sometime soon.

Best Regards

Zivia

 

23 June 2017

I shared your post with many of the parents and they thanked me for sharing because it brought back so many beautiful memories for them too. One of the families now live in New Zealand and the mom, Insaaf, said that she was in tears just remembering that time. She has also travelled with the group.

Zivia

10,000 steps

Now that I am at the stage of my life where I can faintly discern the skeleton figure holding a scythe in the distance, I have started thinking about where I would like my ashes to be laid to rest. My daughter told me she was going to keep them in an urn in her house. I can’t think of anywhere worse to end up than being cooped up in an urn on a shelf, gathering dust, so I had to start thinking of more palatable alternatives that I could foist onto my family.

My initial idea was to have my ashes scattered in our garden. Then I recalled disposing of my father-in-law’s ashes in their lovely rose garden in the village of Marlow in England, only to find some years later that the new owners of the house had converted the rose garden into a boring lawn. In any case, the thought of ending up in a garden eventually owned by total strangers does not appeal.

Having considered the matter further, I decided my ashes should be taken out to sea and scattered at the Devil’s Cauldron in the ocean at Hermanus, a small coastal village in South Africa where I had spent many happy holidays with my family as a child. The Devil’s Cauldron is a group of small rocks jutting out of the sea. Through all the twists and turns in my life over the years, this was a constant familiar sight to me since early childhood. One of the first things that I do whenever I visit Hermanus is to stand on the cliff and gaze at the Devil’s Cauldron.

099 Hermanus 5 - The Devil's Boiling Pot

The Devil’s Cauldron, Hermanus

A while ago I met up with my old aunt, Mara, who lives in Hermanus. She is a born again Christian who is well aware of the fact that I am an infidel. When I told her of my wish to have my ashes scattered at the Devil’s Cauldron, Mara looked me straight in the eye and declared, “Yes, that would be right!”

But recently I changed my mind again when I came to realise what bureaucratic and logistical hurdles and expense I would burden my family with if I insisted on the Devil’s Cauldron as my final abode. I was still trying to resolve the matter of my ashes in my mind when I met my friend Alan the Wandering Philosopher earlier this week on my daily walk along the Diamond Creek.

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My obsession with walking 10,000 steps per day started fourteen years ago, when I was working at Moreland City Council in Melbourne. Our CEO had decided to encourage the members of the corporate management team to adopt a healthier lifestyle by walking 10,000 steps each day. He gave us each a step counter to wear on our belts so we could monitor our number of daily steps. At that time my job was all consuming. I spent most of my time sitting in meetings or in front of a computer at my desk. Due to work pressures I normally worked through my lunch hour and rarely ventured outside.

The first three days I wore the step counter I barely made it to 2,000 steps each day. Horrified by this result I started going for walks at lunchtimes and after dinner. I also began to park my car at the far end of the car park at the supermarket, instead of as close to the entrance as possible. Over a year or so I gradually changed my habits and increased my number of steps until I averaged 10,000 steps per day.

My wife calls me obsessive and I am not denying she has a point. “I’m just popping outside for a few minutes,” I would say after dinner.

She would roll her eyes and ask, “Still a few steps short of the 10,000 for the day then, are you?”

To which I would reply something like, “Yep, I still have another 327 steps to go. I’ll be back soon.”

When she remarks on my obsessive bent I tell her, in my own defence: “At least my obsessions are healthy ones. I could have been obsessed with chasing other women, or with getting drunk, so don’t complain.”

As part of my daily routine I walk along the Diamond Creek footpath every day. There is a spot just past the crest of an incline, before a long sweep in the path towards the west, where the local Council has done some repair works to the footpath. There is a cross-lying strain-relief groove across the path and the colour of the path changes there to a lighter shade of grey, where a section of the path has been replaced. It is exactly 4,800 steps from the car park to this point. It is here that I turn around each day after carefully stepping over the groove, in the knowledge I would make up the rest of my daily 10,000 steps by going to the supermarket and through normal other daily activity.

Alan the Wandering Philosopher, whom I often run into on my morning walk, knows all about my obsession. He texted me recently:

“I was walking along the creek path this morning. When I reached the exact spot at the path where you always turn around on your walk I couldn’t help wondering whether obsession might not be nine tenths of the law.”

“Closer to 99% in my case”, I texted back.

Earlier this week I ran into him again along the creek path and we walked together. When we got to the spot where I always turn back, he joked, “Make sure you step right across the groove before you turn back, eh.”

Suddenly a light bulb flashed inside my head.

“You know what? I think I’m going to ask my family to scatter my ashes right here after I’ve carked it.”

To which he replied: “Good idea! Just make sure they know to scatter them on the far side of the groove.”

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