Jenny Macklin MP honours’ Ken Ramplin


26 January 2018
Australia day awards 2018 for Jagajaga

It was a lovely summer’s day when the awards were presented in the fully renovated mud brick community hall in leafy Eltham. Hundreds of locals and dignitaries attended to witness the awards being presented on this uplifting and inspiring occasion. In recognition of the efforts and sacrifices of ordinary people for the betterment of all other needy persons in Jagajaga.

106 awards were presented to individuals and groups for their long standing efforts some for more than 30 years.

The Australian National Anthem and Waltzing Matilda were both expertly sung by Mandy Lyn Brook, her renditions were riveting.

Ken (now 78 ) had 26 invitees and family attend to celebrate the presentation of his award for establishing the OM:NI groups in Diamond Creek, Eltham, and Hurstbridge where now over 70 men attend on a fortnightly basis to make new friends, reunite with community and build their confidence again.

Ken also has built a riding group to raise funds to eliminate Prostate Cancer known as “Ken’s Pedal against Prostate”

Many photos were taken with family, friends and council reps, and Jenny Macklin MP.

At day’s end Ken went home had an hour sleep, got on his bike rode to town for a pizza and sat with Lorraine to reminisce about what a beautiful community we live in.

We all congratulate you Ken.

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Australia Day Award For Ken – 2018

The Jagajaga Community.
AUSTRALIA DAY AWARDS 2018

Diamond Creek OM:NI Ken Ramplin, awarded Australia Day honours by Jenny MacKlin MP for …..
…..”his work in the community including the founding of three groups of OM:NI in Diamond Creek, Eltham and Hurstbridge.”

Well deserved, and congratulations from all your OM:NI mates Ken.

Trip to Tasmania.(January 2018).

It was 20 years ago exactly since  we first visited the north, north-west and southern regions of Tasmania,and as we had yet to explore the east coast and its many wonders, that led onto becoming our next holiday destination.

Initially, we had considered going over on the Spirit of Tasmania and take the car, however,  on doing the sums and realizing we would be losing a day each way, the decision to fly over and hire a car  was a good one.

Wanting to ensure not  to risk missing our flight on departure day, considerable extra time was allowed as major road works were underway between the ring road turn off and the Tullamarine freeway leading to the airport.

Well, you wouldn’t believe it, we had an uninterrupted and swift drive all the way from home to the long-term parking, found a car park almost at the entrance, the shuttle bus arrived within three minutes and the passage through check in went as smooth as one could wish for. Without a doubt, of all the traveling by air we have done, I was delighted how good fortune smiled on us all the way.

Once on board, buckled up and taken off, there was just enough time for a quick cuppa before we were ready to land in Launceston. Oh, how nice it was to arrive in such a small, easy to navigate airport where collecting our baggage, collecting the car and on our way to Bicheno that was about two and a half hours away through a beautiful meandering mountain range all on first class roads.

Our base was to be about a 10 minute drive before Bicheno at a place called “The Douglas River Cabin, so, before heading there we went straight for town to firstly have a look around and pick up some supplies.”

Below is a view of the beautiful beach on the approach side of town.

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Douglas River Cabin.

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From both inside and outside the cabin we had magnificent views of the Douglas River, the beach and endless countryside where sheep grazed.

Within walking distance, the property extended down to the ocean where the sand was soft and white and also it was possible to walk for hours through bush and grazing lands.

The tee-pee shape/s in the photo below were scattered along the foreshore and built by children from driftwood that had been washed ashore.

There were two days that were overcast and on one of those we headed north up to the Bay of Fires,mistakenly I had believed its name had arisen from the color of the Lichen on the rocks, but in actual fact it was named by an early explorer observing the many fires lit by the native population of a night cooking their meals.

Not far out of Bicheno one of its highlights was the Blowhole, an event that occurred when every wave came into shore rising up through a natural phenomena. A very popular spot for the tourists.

The Blowhole.

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The Mountains below are at Coles Bay and needed to be climbed to see the bay, and, if you were to continue on further up the walking track eventually you would reach the Wineglass Bay lookout.

 After a (grueling) hour plus trekking ,the magnificent view of Wineglass Bay could be enjoyed.

Whaler’s Hill located nearby Bicheno was a short and enjoyable climb up to the towns highest point where Whalers of old would look out to sea for the water spouts of whales. An industry that took whales almost to annihilation.

Whalers Lookout.

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Easy walk to the top.

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Another day we journeyed south down to the town of Swansea,a very old pioneer town with an array of historical buildings.

The Swansea School house (below)  now converted into a town museum and information centre.

Well worth a look for its historical information,old original class room and tribute to its soldiers that were lost in the great war.

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And, finally a lovely night out in town at the Seafood Restaurant over looking Bicheno Bay to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.

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Our souvenir tea cozy from Bicheno!

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No Human Witnesses

There was a great annual gathering of all the birds, animals and insects at Upper Lurg to celebrate Christmas, after the humans had migrated to Melbourne.
The 25th December had arrived and the sun was just spreading its warm rays of light across the mountain tops into the rich valley of 5 acres covered in trees, flowers and a muddy water hole.
The Kookaburras were awake and excitedly laughed and called out “Come on the Suns up” lets party, in moments there was a great gathering of Cockatoos, Corellas, Blue Wrens, Firetails, Yellow Breasted Honey eaters, Swallows. A Black wallaby, a Golden Hare, Rabbits, an Echidna, Bluey the Blue Tongued Lizard and a Black Angus calf with his Wooly Lamb mate, to mention just a few who live in this little forest they call home.
Just inside the main gate in the middle of the gravel track stands a Giant Ant’s nest the home of the vigilant Red Soldiers that guard the bushland from unwanted invaders.

There is a large metal shed set amongst the trees and this year two men erected a veranda along one side this gives us shelter from the wind, rain and sun, the Swallows, smiling said this will give us a perfect structure to build our nests after collecting mud from the dam, for our next season’s chicks. The shed door had been left open, giving access to water from the dripping tap over the sink, and all the kitchen benches, furniture, tables and wood stove, and well stocked pantry what a wonderful Christmas this will be.
All the mums and dads brought along their babies from last Spring to celebrate and meet all the residents of the their common home along with food for the festive lunch, there were worms, grubs, grass seeds, insects, nuts from the gum trees plenty of porridge, weeties, cake, sugar, and a bottle of Port left in the open pantry that helped lift the spirit of all concerned.
But what about some music? several Field Crickets jumped on the back of the couch along with a few vocal Cockatoos, for the drum effect the Echidna rolled around in the empty four gallon drum, all the smaller birds, Blue Wren, Firetails, Willy Wag Tails danced to and fro through the limbs of the Red Flowering Gum which had been allowed to grow through the veranda roof.`
The Yabbies’ from the dam got a ride up on the back of the Blue Cranes from the dam and we filled the sink with water so they could stay and join in, one drank some Port and started doing cart wheels around the sink and pinching the females on their bottoms, we had to put him in the kettle for an hour or two till we could get him craned back to the dam.
There was great stories told about how and where to build various nests to raise the young, stories of the joy when the young hatched and when they could take to the wing and fly freely across the sky and land safely on the limbs.
The shed was decorated with local flowers some golden some red, pink gum leaves and dried Flowering Gum Nuts, the day was long and hot ,most of the young were tired and curled up together on the bed and were sound asleep even though the Cockatoos were screeching and complaining about the lack of cold Champagne.
It was a great Christmas enjoyed by all but now the shadows were lengthening time to go home and put the babies into their comfortable feather beds. We cleaned up the shed did the dishes swept the floor dumped all the rubbish. Then we sat for a while on the deck chairs reflecting on what Mark has done for us, this was a vacant bare 5 acres, he planted all these native trees and shrubs made sure they grew into the habitat were we could live and call home, he protects this oasis and asks only that we visit him, sing some songs, show him our dances and keep the balance and harmony of the bush.

MOVEMBER 2017


It was the last Thursday in December and again the OMNIcycle boys kept the tradition of the annual Movember ride from Diamond Creek to Melbourne City.

Due to predicted high temperatures up to 35* Celsius  Bill, Barry and Nick set off from the Marngrook oval in Diamond Creek at the earlier time of 7.30am to meet up with Steve and Bruce at the Eltham tennis court rendezvous. It was good to see Ken there also to see the boys on their way and also took charge of taking the start photos.

The riding was warm, as the min temp had not dipped below 22*C, but with a following breeze was reasonably uneventful with the usual stops and coffee around 10.00am at the Fairfield Campus coffee shop. From thereon it was a gentle ride down the Yarra through Collingwood and Burnley across the Morell Bridge to Alexandra Parade to bbq on the banks of the river.
Daryl……
….the 1982 Mercedes fired into action and loaded with BBQ goodies it headed into Mighty Melbourne along the banks of the muddy Yarra River in Alexandra Avenue South Melbourne, it was a very hot day 34c and windy.

Lady Florence, Lynda and Sir Daryl pulled up in the shade of some mighty oaks to be greeted by the ever vigilant southern sea gulls. It had been an eventual trip with no air conditioning and a car pile up on the freeway plus bridge repairs on Swan st.

With the river as our vista plus river ferries traveling to and fro we fired up the council electric BBQs ready for the hungry and thirsty 5 riders, that had ridden from Diamond Creek and Eltham in support of fund raising to help with research to reduce prostate cancer, they had at this stage raised $300, this is an annual event held in late November.

All the bike riders arrived safely at 11-30 to the aroma of cooked sausages onions and tomatoes, cold drinks were most welcome and food hungrily took a close second place.

With lots of hugs and handshakes followed by many photos we all enjoyed a very happy time together, but we had to get home, the riders headed to Jolimont station for their return train trip and the support group headed back home along the highways guided by Linda with her vast knowledge of the city pointing out many historical sites as we headed back via Ivanhoe Rosanna and Greensborough.

Where do I belong?

Where do I belong? For me this is a fraught question, as it is for many migrants.

When the migrant ship Australis slowly manoeuvred out of Cape Town’s docks in December 1974 and set off for the open sea I stood on the deck and watched as the majestic Table Mountain, under the shadow of which I had been born, receded into the distance. I felt an enormous sense of relief and I vowed never to return. Then the mountain disappeared over the horizon and I felt as if I had escaped from a prison. I couldn’t stand the place, with its racist, authoritarian government and its ultra-conservative, pious Afrikaners, who had as much compassion for people of colour as a predator has for its prey.

I have now lived in Australia for more than sixty percent of my entire life, so this is clearly where I belong, right? The places of my youth have changed beyond recognition, so surely I now no longer belong there. And yet, I am not always sure where I really belong. The place where one has lived as a child and as a young person is indelibly engraved into one’s psyche, regardless of the passage of time. Its tendrils retain a firm hold over the years. And so it is with me.

What is it that binds us forever to the places of our youth? It is the landscapes, the shape of the trees, the native flowers and birds and animals, the smells. It is the accents and the unique local sense of humour of the people. Even after forty years away my heart still soars when I hear Cape Coloured people speak their distinctive Kaapse Afrikaans, or when I hear the clicking sounds of a black person speaking Xhosa or Zulu.

A few years ago I borrowed my brother’s car and drove along the road between Gordon’s Bay and Hangklip, near my home town of Somerset West. The road winds its way between the ocean on one side and steep mountains on the other. As a young man I went there nearly every weekend, having barbecues with friends or girlfriends, snorkelling and sunbaking.

I spotted some wild proteas on the slope of the mountain, near the road. When I stopped and walked up the slope I suddenly smelled the aroma of the fynbos, the local vegetation, and was overpowered by the familiarity of the smells. I can’t even remember having ever registered these smells when I was young. I was so excited that I kept sniffing at the plants. Then I realised if anyone spotted me they would probably think I had escaped from a mental institution.

During the forty plus years that I have lived in Australia I have naturally grown to love the smell and the shape of the gum trees and I adore the sounds of the warbling magpies and currawongs. They have also become a part of my psyche.

When I was working at the Glen Waverley Library five years after I had arrived in Australia, I came across a book called Wild Australia: a view of birds and men, with paintings and drawings by the Australian artist John Olsen. His illustrations struck a strong chord within me and I realised for the first time the extent to which Australia had become “my place”.

At the time I was a complete ignoramus as far as art was concerned and I had never heard of Olsen. I wrote to him that same day and explained how I had struggled to come to terms with Australia’s animal and plant life and landscapes, which differed so much from that which I had grown up with. I told him his art work had captured the essence of Australia’s places and it had made me realise that I really felt at home in my new country.

Olsen responded:

John Olsen letter 11.2.80

Ironically, when I am traveling in South Africa these days and I see a eucalypt or a callistemon with its red bottlebrush flowers, I immediately long for “home”. Such is the ambivalence of my belonging.

A couple of years ago I caught up with Johan, a university friend, in South Africa. It was the first time I had seen him since I had left my homeland all those decades ago. We had lost touch with each other when I departed, but now we were overjoyed to meet again.

“It’s so good to see you again after all these years, Tiens. I had heard somewhere that you had gone to Australia and I’ve often wondered how you were going there and what you were doing.” Then he added, “So when are you coming home?”

And for a little while there I felt I was ‘home’.

The writer Gillian Slovo, daughter of a South African political refugee, described this ambivalence perfectly in an article in The Bookseller of 31 January 1997:

North London is where I’ve lived most of my life. But there are things about South Africa that feel more like home to me … I have to deal with the fact that, like most exiles, I am at home in two places, and a stranger in both.

My children do not suffer from the same ambivalence as their father. When my son Neil was six years old I took him and a couple of his little mates to the local swimming pool one day. They were all sitting in the back of the car. I overheard one friend asking Neil, “Why does your dad speak so funny?”

“How do you mean?’ asked Neil.

“He doesn’t speak the same as us Aussies.”

“Oh,” Neil replied. “That’s because me dad’s an Afro. And me mum’s a Pom, but me – I’m an Aussie!”