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Kilkivan Great Horse Ride organisers hope to return event to its former glory


After cancelling the Kilkivan Great Horse Ride due to drought and high fire danger this year, organisers are making plans — in the midst of a pandemic — to return the event to its former glory.

The ride has also been plagued in the past floods, problems with mobile phone network outages and delays in construction of the equestrian centre, culminating in last year’s event having fewer than 500 riders.

“It was still a successful event — a little bit disappointing — but still 100 per cent successful, so we’re just going to make it better,” said committee secretary Belinda Smith.

Hilary Smerdon, who serves on the Gympie Regional Council, said despite the problems the event brought a lot to the community.

“It’s still a good event,” he said.

“When it first started it was one of very few trail rides in Australia — there are now quite a number — but it’s still held in high regards by a lot of the riders.”

Building new trails

Ms Smith said everything was on track for the 35th anniversary in April next year.

“We would like to bring a full main street parade, entertainment at the showgrounds, bands on the Friday and Saturday night,” she said.

A middle aged woman stands, smiling, holding the reins of four horses. The grass and dirt around her is brown.
Organisers are building new trails to offer brand new rides to returning participants.(ABC Wide Bay: Megan Hughes)

Work is already underway to build new trails.

“We have actually been able to create two new trails that people have never done before — we are looking to create more,” she said.

“Basically be able to give people a new experience for the ride so if people have come before — they’re not just doing the same old ride.”

While organisers are making plans, the unpredictability and uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic adds another level of difficulty.

“We have a number of guidelines that we have to follow,” she said.

“We will make sure that everybody attending is able to enjoy themselves in a safe and happy manner.

“We want to make it special for people to come — Kilkivan’s an amazing town and to be able to have that special atmosphere of riding down the main street it’s just magic.”



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Jack Charlton, 1966 World Cup winner, Leeds United legend and football great, dies aged 85


Jack Charlton, an uncompromising central defender who played alongside his brother, Bobby, in England’s World Cup-winning side in 1966 before enjoying coaching success with Ireland, has died aged 85.

Nicknamed “Big Jack” and celebrated for his earthy “beer and cigarettes” image, Charlton was Footballer of the Year in England in 1967.

He spent all his club career at Leeds, from 1952-73, tying the club’s all-time record of 773 appearances. He won every domestic honour, including the league title in 1969.

Charlton’s family said he died at home on Friday (local time) in Northumberland.

“As well as a friend to many, he was a much-adored husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather,” the family said in a statement.

“We cannot express how proud we are of the extraordinary life he led and the pleasure he brought to so many people in different countries and from all walks of life.

“He was a thoroughly honest, kind, funny and genuine man who always had time for people. His loss will leave a huge hole in all our lives but we are thankful for a lifetime of happy memories.”

His biggest achievement came with the England national team that beat Germany 4-2 after extra time in the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley Stadium.

A black and white photo of Jack Charlton holding a trophy above his head at a packed Wembley
Jack Charlton after winning the 1966 World Cup with England.(AP)

Bobby, his younger brother, played in midfield. Jack celebrated the victory by partying in a random person’s house in north London, ending up sleeping on the floor.

That was typical of the man who kept the common touch despite his fame and remained an affable character, fond of life’s simple pleasures.

“I got a lift back the following morning and my mother was playing hell as I hadn’t been to bed all night,” Charlton recalled.

“I said, ‘Mother, we’ve just won the World Cup!'”

Charlton made 35 appearances for England between 1965-70, also playing in the 1968 European Championship and the 1970 World Cup. A very different player to Bobby, who was once all-time top scorer for both England and Manchester United, Jack was in the shadow of his brother during his playing career.

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It was obvious from an early age that Bobby “was going to play for England and would be a great player”, Jack recalled in a 1997 BBC interview.

“He was strong, left- and right-footed, good balance, good skills. He had everything, our kid. I was over six foot. Leggy. A giraffe, as I finished up being called.”

Big Jack becomes the boss

Of all the England World Cup winners to go into management, Jack Charlton was easily the most successful.

He had brief but impressive spells at north-east clubs Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle before being hired by Ireland in 1986 as its first foreign coach.

Adopting a direct, physical and attack-minded style, Charlton got the best out of Ireland’s hard-working players and guided them to three major tournaments, including the 1990 World Cup where the Irish reached the quarterfinals. Ireland also played at Euro 1988 and the 1994 World Cup under Charlton.

A black and white photo of Jack Charlton, who is wearing a nice suit, smiling while holding a trophy
In 1967, Jack Charlton was named Footballer of the Year by the Football Writers’ Association.(AP)

“You get the ball forward, you compete, you close people down, you create excitement, you win balls when you shouldn’t win balls, commit yourself to the game,” Charlton said of Ireland’s style.

“A lot of the pundits didn’t like it but the teams we played against hated it. They’d never experienced anything like what we were dictating to them … We were a match for anybody in the world.”

Charlton said his best memory as Ireland coach was beating Brazil 1-0 in a friendly at Lansdowne Road in 1987. He resigned in 1995 after losing in a Euro 1996 playoff to the Netherlands.

He was awarded honorary Irish citizenship a year later. A life-size statue of him was erected at Cork Airport, depicting him wearing fishing gear and holding a salmon — recalling Charlton’s favourite pastime of fishing.

An old photo of Bobby Charlton, in his Manchester United kit, and Jack Charlton, in his Leeds kit, running after the ball
Jack (left) spent much of his career playing second fiddle to his brother Bobby (right).(AP)

“I am as much Irish as I am English,” Charlton, who was given the freedom of Dublin, said.

Born May 8, 1935, in a gritty area of northern England, Charlton worked down the mines as a teenager before going for a trial at Leeds. He grew up in a footballing family, cousin to Newcastle great Jackie Milburn while his uncles Jack, George, Jimmy and Stan all played professionally.

“It left me no choice but to be a footballer,” Charlton said.

AP



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Local News - Victoria

Great Ocean Road walkers airlifted in dramatic rescue


Four coastal walkers have been saved in a dramatic air rescue in strong winds on the Great Ocean Road overnight.

Two 73-year-old men and two women, age 51 and 49, were walking from Castle Cove to Dinosaur Cove along the Great Ocean Road walking trail near Glenaire when they were forced to the water’s edge by a scrub fire, according to Victoria police.

The Victoria Police air wing was brought in to winch the group of four to safety.

The Victoria Police air wing was brought in to winch the group of four to safety.Credit:Justin McManus

As the group of four tried to reach Johanna Beach, they became trapped on a rock ledge by the rising tide.

As night fell and the temperature dropped, they managed to call emergency services.



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Letter from Collingwood great kept new Magpie Darcy Cameron motivated in search of AFL dream


A letter from former Collingwood premiership captain Nick Maxwell has been a continual point of motivation for Albany’s Darcy Cameron, who debuted for the Magpies in the AFL on Thursday night.

Cameron, who rose through the ranks of North Albany and Claremont in the WAFL, played just his second AFL match in the draw with Richmond at the MCG — the first AFL match since the coronavirus pandemic pause.

The ruckman impressed, gathering 13 disposals and eight marks in the low-scoring affair.

Cameron said it was a special moment to debut for Collingwood at the “home of footy”.

“Collingwood organised, because my parents and partner couldn’t be there, a video where they sent a message to me,” he said.

A framed letter from Nick Maxwell on a shelf
Maxwell’s letter has been a continual point of motivation.(Supplied: Gerard Cameron)

Framed letter in bedroom

Cameron was presented his jumper by Maxwell, a fitting moment given a letter he received from the Magpies great as a child.

The framed message still sits in Cameron’s childhood Albany bedroom.

“To Darcy, keep up the hard work and I’ll see you on the MCG one day! Go Pies!”

“I respected him as a player, he was captain of the club. I thought, ‘How cool is that … I’ll use that as motivation’,” Cameron said.

“It all sunk in when I got traded to the Pies — that message is still sitting there.

“It was a special moment to play on the MCG, something I’ve dreamed of.

Two females and two males deliver a pre recorded message on TV
The Cameron family left Darcy a video message ahead of the game.(Supplied: Collingwood Football Club)

It was Cameron’s first match since he was traded to the Magpies from Sydney at the end of last season after managing just one game since he was drafted in 2016.

In a strange night for football, the MCG was empty aside from players, staff and media.

Before the game, both sides wore black t-shirts during the warm up and gathered in the centre square, along with umpires, to kneel on one knee in recognition of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“It was a very special moment being out there and doing that. It was dead silent at the ground,” Cameron said.

“It was so everyone recognises that and respects what it is.”

The game’s result was the first draw between the two AFL powerhouses since 1917.



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Rob Pedretti killed by great white while surfing on NSW north coast


Authorities will today resume the hunt for a great white shark that attacked and killed a man off the New South Wales north coast yesterday, as it’s revealed there were no shark nets at the popular beach.

Rob Pedretti was mauled by the three-metre monster at Salt Beach near Kingscliff just after 10am and died from his injuries.

The 60-year-old was dragged ashore by two heroic surfers, who attempted to fight off the shark as they pulled the man onto a board.

One of the rescuers was Mr Pedretti’s friend, while the second was a stranger who raced to help.

Mr Pedretti, originally from Geelong but living in Tugun just over the Queensland border, was bitten on the back of his thigh.

“A shark biologist has assessed photographs and confirmed a white shark was responsible for the fatal attack,” the NSW Department of Primary Industries said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the two men who tried to save Mr Pedretti have been hailed heroes.

“The actions of those people was nothing short of heroic in making every attempt to try to save this gentleman,” NSW Police District Inspector Matt Kehoe told reporters.

“They got him on one of the boards and tried to stabilise him and take him to shore. The shark circled them for a period of time while they brought the gentleman into shore.”

Witnesses at the scene estimated the size of the animal at three metres long.

Tributes are flowing for Mr Pedretti, with a group of friends gathering at a Gold Coast beach on Sunday afternoon to hold a tribute for him.

Nev Hyman, a well-known Gold Coast surfing identity, said the tragic incident was difficult for him to comprehend.

“He was one of the many people who lived and breathed surfing, we love it more than anything, apart from our loved ones,” Mr Hyman told The Gold Coast Bulletin.

“It is just incredibly heart-wrenching knowing what Rob’s family are going through at this moment.

“I know every single Gold Coast surfer’s hearts are breaking right now and they will be reaching out with love and sympathy for Rob and his family.”

NSW Police were granted permission to destroy the shark if necessary “due to concerns the shark had to be fought off by other board-riders and that it remained in the vicinity for several hours after the attack,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

It was monitored for several hours but left the area and has not been seen since.

The Courier-Mail reports that authorities will continue the search for the shark today.

A NSW Police spokeswoman said a decision will be made later this morning about whether the beaches should be reopened.

NSW Ambulance Inspector Terence Savage said it was a “dreadful” situation for everyone involved.

“When you get a call to attend a shark attack, you never really know the full extent of the damage until you get on scene,” he said in a statement on Sunday.

“They did everything they could to try and save his life, but despite their best efforts, were unable to do so.”

There is a shark listening station opposite the Kingscliff surf club but “no tagged sharks were detected on this station today” or at the Byron Bay listening station some 50 kilometres south, the Department of Primary Industries said on Sunday.

No shark nets or drum lines are in place at Salt Beach.

There have now been three fatal shark attacks in Australia in 2020. Gary Johnson, 57, an experienced diver was killed by a shark near Cull Island in Esperance on Western Australia’s south coast in January.

A shark also killed 23-year-old Queensland ranger Zachary Robba in April off North West Island some 50km east of Rockhampton.

Surf lifesaver James Owen told The Gold Coast Bulletin that the area wasn’t known for shark attacks.

“It is so awful on so many levels and our hearts are with this man’s family and friends,” Mr Owen told the newspaper.

“Everyone is sensible enough to know sharks are all around and it could happen … but this area is not known for shark attacks.

“I think it’s going to take a while for the community to process and deal with it all.”



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Great white shark diet surprises scientists


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IMAGE: GoPro image of a great white shark off east Australian coast at Evans Head, New South Wales.
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Credit: Richard Grainger/University of Sydney

The first-ever detailed study of the diets of great white sharks off the east Australian coast reveals this apex predator spends more time feeding close to the seabed than expected.

“Within the sharks’ stomachs we found remains from a variety of fish species that typically live on the seafloor or buried in the sand. This indicates the sharks must spend a good portion of their time foraging just above the seabed,” said lead author Richard Grainger, a PhD candidate at the Charles Perkins Centre and School of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Sydney.

“The stereotype of a shark’s dorsal fin above the surface as it hunts is probably not a very accurate picture,” he said.

The study, published today on World Oceans Day in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science, is an important contribution towards understanding the sharks’ feeding and migratory habits.

Dr Vic Peddemors a co-author from the NSW Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries), said: “We discovered that although mid-water fish, especially eastern Australian salmon, were the predominant prey for juvenile white sharks in NSW, stomach contents highlighted that these sharks also feed at or near the seabed.”

Mr Grainger said: “This evidence matches data we have from tagging white sharks that shows them spending a lot of time many metres below the surface.”

The study examined the stomach contents of 40 juvenile white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) caught in the NSW Shark Meshing Program. The scientists compared this with published data elsewhere in the world, mainly South Africa, to establish a nutritional framework for the species.

“Understanding the nutritional goals of these cryptic predators and how these relate to migration patterns will give insights into what drives human-shark conflict and how we can best protect this species,” said Dr Gabriel Machovsky-Capuska, an adjunct Senior Research Fellow at the Charles Perkins Centre and a co-author of the study.

Mr Grainger said: “White sharks have a varied diet. As well as east Australian salmon, we found evidence of other bony fish including eels, whiting, mullet and wrasses. We found that rays were also an important dietary component, including small bottom-dwelling stingrays and electric rays.

“Eagle rays are also hunted, although this can be difficult for the sharks given how fast the rays can swim.”

The study found that based on abundance, the sharks’ diet relied mostly on:

    – Pelagic, or mid-water ocean swimming fish, such as Australian salmon: 32.2%

    – Bottom-dwelling fish, such as stargazers, sole or flathead: 17.4%

    – Reef fish, such as eastern blue gropers: 5.0%

    – Batoid fish, such as stingrays: 14.9%

The remainder was unidentified fish or less abundant prey. Mr Grainger said that marine mammals, other sharks and cephalopods (squid and cuttlefish) were eaten less frequently.

“The hunting of bigger prey, including other sharks and marine mammals such as dolphin, is not likely to happen until the sharks reach about 2.2 metres in length,” Mr Grainger said.

The scientists also found that larger sharks tended to have a diet that was higher in fat, likely due to their high energy needs for migration.

“This fits with a lot of other research we’ve done showing that wild animals, including predators, select diets precisely balanced to meet their nutrient needs,” said co-author Professor David Raubenheimer, Chair of Nutritional Ecology in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences.

Tracking of white sharks shows that they migrate seasonally along Australia’s east coast from southern Queensland to northern Tasmania, and the range of movement increases with age.

Protecting this species and safely managing its interactions with humans is a priority for scientists and the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

“This study will give us a lot of information to assist in this management process,” Dr Peddemors said.

###

DOWNLOAD the research plus video and photos of great white sharks at this link.

VIEW/EMBED an interview from NSW DPI with Richard Grainger about his research at this link.

INTERVIEWS

Mr Richard Grainger | richard.grainger@sydney.edu.au

Lead author and PhD candidate

Charles Perkins Centre | School of Life and Environmental Sciences

The University of Sydney

MEDIA ENQUIRIES

Marcus Strom | marcus.strom@sydney.edu.au | +61 423 982 485

DECLARATION

Project funding and support was provided by the NSW Department of Primary Industries through the NSW Shark Management Strategy. Richard Grainger is supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program Stipend and supplementary scholarship from the NSW Shark Management Strategy and the University of Sydney.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.



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George Floyd’s death draws more reaction from the sporting world, as NBA great Michael Jordan speaks out


Basketball great Michael Jordan has voiced outrage over the death of George Floyd, a black man shown on video gasping for breath as a white police officer knelt on his neck in Minneapolis.

Jordan said his heart went out to the family of Mr Floyd and others who have died through acts of racism.

“I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry,” Jordan, a Basketball Hall of Famer and owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, said in a statement.

“I see and feel everyone’s pain, outrage and frustration.

“I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of colour in our country. We have had enough.”

The comments from Jordan came as many US cities were bracing for another night of unrest after cleaning up streets strewn with broken glass and burned-out cars as curfews failed to quell confrontations between protesters and police.

Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was charged on Friday with murder in the death of 46-year-old George Floyd after mobile phone footage of the white officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck prompted a wave of protests.

Jordan, a six-time NBA champion who was at the heart of the Chicago Bulls’ dynasty in the 1990s, called on people to show compassion and empathy and never turn their backs on senseless brutality.

“We need to continue peaceful expressions against injustice and demand accountability,” said Jordan.

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Another to speak out was Jordan’s contemporary, Doc Rivers.

Rivers, who played 14 seasons in the NBA with a series of clubs and is now an NBA coach with the Los Angeles Clippers, made an emotional post on Twitter

“My father was a 30-year veteran of the Chicago police department, and if he were still with us right now, he’d be hurt and outraged by the senseless acts of racial injustice that continue to plague our country,” he said.

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“The response we are seeing across the nation, to the murder of George Floyd, is decades in the making.

“This isn’t an African-American issue. This is a human issue.

Bundesliga players use celebrations to protest

Four young football players in Germany’s Bundesliga addressed Floyd’s death with protests against police brutality and calls for justice over the weekend.

A footballer in Germany runs away from goal showing 'Justice for George Floyd' on his T-shirt.
Young Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho scored a hat-trick in the Bundesliga —and sent a message of support for the late George Floyd.(AP/Pool: Lars Baron)

England’s 20-year-old winger Jadon Sancho, 21-year-old Morocco right-back Achraf Hakimi and 22-year-old Marcus Thuram made statements on the field on Sunday, following the example set by Schalke’s American midfielder Weston McKennie, 21, the day before.

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Sancho scored his first hat-trick in Borussia Dortmund’s 6-1 win at Paderborn, but removed his jersey after his first goal to reveal a T-shirt with the handwritten message “Justice for George Floyd” on the front.

Sancho was given a yellow card for taking off his jersey, but it didn’t stop teammate Hakimi from lifting his shirt to reveal the same message after he grabbed Dortmund’s fourth goal in the 85th minute.

Floyd, a handcuffed black man, died last week after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee for several minutes on his neck.

Earlier, Thuram took a knee after scoring in Borussia Moenchengladbach’s 4-1 win over Union Berlin.

The Gladbach forward scored in the first half and then dropped his left knee to the ground and rested his right arm on his right thigh as he bowed his head in reflection.

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He spent five seconds in this position before getting up again to continue.

“No explanation needed,” Gladbach said on Twitter with a picture of Thuram kneeling.

It evoked memories of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the American national anthem before games to protest police brutality and racial inequality amid the Black Lives Matter movement.

Thuram, who also scored Gladbach’s third goal, made no comment on his gesture after the game.

Thuram is the son of French World Cup winner Lilian Thuram, a prominent antiracism campaigner.

On Saturday, McKennie wore an armband with the handwritten message “Justice for George” around his left arm.

McKennie later said on Twitter: “We have to stand up for what we believe in and I believe that it is time that we are heard!”.

Reuters/AP



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Australian tennis great and former Wimbledon champion Ashley Cooper dies 83



Rod Laver has led the tributes for fellow Australian tennis great Ashley Cooper following his death at age 83 after a long battle with illness.

Laver took to Twitter to express his sadness, as he remembered the four-time major singles champion and Davis Cup winner.

“He was a wonderful champion, on and off the court. And what a backhand! So many cherished memories. Farewell my friend. My thoughts are with Ashley’s wife, Helen, and his family,” Laver posted after offering a statement to TA.

“You learn from the top. I am looking at Frank Sedgman and Ken McGregor and Lew Hoad and Ken Rosewall and Ashley Cooper and all these guys.

“Neale Fraser, and they ruled the world in tennis, a whole group from the 50s to the 70s I guess and that was something that was part of the whole mould.

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“Everybody respected everybody’s ability on the court and gave everybody the chance. If you win, you shake their hand. And if you lose, well then that is what happened.”

Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said Cooper deserved to be described as a legend of the sport.

“Ashley was a giant of the game both as a brilliant player and an astute administrator and he will be greatly missed,” Tiley said.

Competing in Australia’s halcyon days against legends like Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall and Neale Fraser, Cooper won three of the four majors in 1958 — the Australian, Wimbledon and US Championships.

He collected two Australian titles, as well as four major doubles crowns.

Cooper led Australia’s 1957 Davis Cup team, which included Mal Anderson and Merv Rose, to victory over the United States in the Challenge Round at Kooyong.

The following year the result was reversed, and Cooper was so upset by the loss he tried to withdraw from a professional contract he had signed with Jack Kramer because he felt he owed Australia.

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His public profile rose even higher when he married Helen Wood, the reigning Miss Australia in 1959.

Their wedding attracted more than 3,000 spectators, some of whom clambered onto the car trying to get a closer look at the golden couple.

After a back injury cruelly cut short his professional career, Cooper returned to Brisbane where he had a successful business career and then served Tennis Queensland and Tennis Australia as an administrator.

Throughout his life Cooper was honoured for the roles he played, including with the Order of Australia.

He was also inducted into the International and Australian Tennis Halls of Fame plus the Queensland Sports Hall of Fame.

A walking bridge giving visitors access to the Queensland Tennis Centre is named in his memory.

AAP



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Local News - Victoria

There is nobility in isolation, for human company is our great craving


Country people have always sought company – at least as robustly as their city cousins – to counteract the physical distance between them and wider society.

Visitors dropped in unnanounced and sat around our table for hours. Concerts were organised in the local hall, the accomplished and the plain enthusiastic abandoning farmhouses to make music together.

There were dances too. Everyone knew the Pride of Erin and the waltz and the flashy evening three-step.

The progressive dinner was another social ritual for country people, though it would be scandalous now. Families piled into cars, kids with blankets and pillows in the back, and headed to the home of hosts for an entree. Drinks, of course, accompanied the devils on horseback or stuffed tomatoes.

Suitably oiled, the families charged off to the next distant farmhouse for the main course. Plus drinks. Us kids ran wild outside, instructions to sleep happily ignored.

Finally, it was away to yet another destination for dessert. Right through to the last glass, known as a nightcap.

Eventually, the travelling dinner done, fathers pointed family jalopies homeward. It remains a mystery how no families of my memory ended up upside down in a swamp.

Back on the course at Yarra Bend this week.

Back on the course at Yarra Bend this week.Credit:Jason South

There was Sunday tennis, too, at the one court within reach, and golf and the races and agricultural shows across the district.

Isolation, in short, was abhorred, breeding social activity.

I was reminded of this when reading a new book by a fellow who taught me in my last years of secondary school, Pat Walsh.

He later became a well-known human rights advocate for the East Timorese, but recently he has returned to his own childhood to write an arresting history of his family, “the Walshs of Walshs Road, South Purrumbete”.

He emerges as a storyteller with a rare gift for words, which should be no surprise: he comes from a vast Irish Catholic family. The Irish, though they might be Australian-bred for generations, are a people known for the ability to bleed a rollicking tale and a heartbreaking song from a stone. My own grandparents, three generations beyond Donegal, never missed the chance of a night-long family party around the piano, Danny Boy aching across dark paddocks.

<i>Milking Our Memories</i> by Pat Walsh.

Milking Our Memories by Pat Walsh.

Walsh has called his memoir Milking Our Memories, for his was a dairy-farming family just south of the Stony Rises at South Purrumbete, a land of ancient volcanoes and lakes between Colac and Cobden in the Western District.

This is isolated country, but the power of Walsh’s telling of the lives of his family through 150 years is to deny the idea that these were socially secluded people.

Even during the bleak days of World War II, he writes, “the war dominated conversations like the weather, but life went on”.

“The Cobden Tennis Association, the Grand Lodge, the Scouts and the Shooting Range, the latter three in nearby Pomberneit, soldiered on. The Cobden Turf Club continued to run annual meetings.

“And that ultimate in escapism, the pictures, continued to be offered at the Cobden Theatre.”

Even with half the world in flames, the urge to socialise and play and escape together into celluloid fantasy ran strong in the most out-of-the-way of communities.

Escape from reality, of course, proved elusive: Walsh’s uncle, Cyril Augustine Walsh, was aboard a Lancaster bomber shot down by a German night fighter over Denmark in September 1943.

“His death, the knock on the door that all parents whose children were on active service feared, admitted the very beast, not just its shadow, into the inner sanctum of a farm house on a back-country road at the far edge of the Western world,” writes Walsh.

Yet life on that back-country farm went on. A new Walsh child was born two months later, and named Cyril.

All these years later, mere hours after Premier Dan Andrews allowed golf and fishing to resume this week after two months of denial, I found our local town golf club’s car park full and the harbour marina abuzz with fisherfolk and boats.

The sudden activity was a reminder that the urge to get on with life and to enjoy it with others is a powerful compulsion within most of us.

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It is, then, a wonderment that most Australians – even in my pocket of country Victoria, where not a single case of coronavirus has been detected – have been prepared, week after week, to deny themselves the pleasure of close company in the greater cause of saving themselves and their fellow citizens from something invisible.

There’s something noble in such sacrifice.

Milking Our Memories: 150 years of the Walshs of Walshs Road, South Purrumbete by Pat Walsh is published by KPG, price $30 (orders by email: padiwalsh@gmail.com).

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See-through fences help great neighbours remain good friends


“It’s not particularly comfortable with two people on a ladder and somebody else standing on a bunch of rocks, trying to talk over a massive Colorbond fence,” said Ms Russo, a hospital project manager.

“I had been saying to my husband, surely if we get something clear … we’ll be able to at least see each other.

“He wasn’t overly interested in it and then I was like, right, we’re going to Bunnings.”

About five weeks ago, Mr Nicholson, who works at Centrelink and Mr Coyte, an artist, removed some panels from their shared steel fence and replaced them with transparent poly-carbonate, creating an area about 1.5 metres wide that they can now see each other through.

Soon their children were dancing and singing from either side of the fence, jumping on their trampolines at the same time and even setting up tandem activities, such as painting.

Meanwhile, the adults are enjoying evening drinks and sharing meals together, once passing over portions of a rhubarb and apple pie in exchange for custard to go on top.

The see-through fence enables the neighbours to socialise during the lockdown.

The see-through fence enables the neighbours to socialise during the lockdown.Credit:Justin McManus

They have taken it in turns to light bonfires on either side.

“It’s important, because we were hanging out a lot before this all happened,” Mr Nicholson said.

“It was becoming a ritual for us to … have dinner or a drink or something and then when social distancing came in, it was like, well, how do we get to keep doing this without having to rely on social media.”

Ms Banyard, an artist and university lecturer, said she thought Ms Russo was joking when she was sent a photo of the clear, corrugated panel from Bunnings.

“And then before I knew it, she was texting back saying, ‘OK, I’ve got it, let’s do it’,” she said.

“It’s great, it’s good to see more people, actual people and not just on the screen, even though it kind of feels like a screen because we’re looking through a sheet of plastic.”

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It’s not just the Bendigo households who have found creative ways to socialise during restrictions.

St Kilda West neighbours have been enjoying afternoon “street parties” where they each stand at the edge of their properties and have a drink and chat together at a distance.

Meanwhile, people in Richmond have put a twist on Italy’s balcony singing, with balcony dance parties.

“It’s a really good thing for neighbourhoods and communities to be strengthened by everyone being forced to be isolated,” Ms Russo said.

“So there are some benefits to come out of all this.”

Looking for some good news?

We could all do with some good news right about now. That’s why we have launched The Good News Group, a Facebook group where we’ll share uplifting, inspiring and positive stories and invite members to do the same. Join the group here.

If you or anyone you know needs support call Lifeline on 131 114, or Beyond Blue’s coronavirus mental wellbeing support service on 1800 512 348.

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