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1966 Basil’s horse

I had worked on Basil Blackburn’s farm helping milk the cows in his dairy and as a result was able to ride a horse he had at his farm up in the hills. The dairy farm was on the flat where irrigation water provided the cows with good food so they made good milk. Yarloop is at the beginning of the Darling scarp so to the east of it you have the hills and valleys of the Darling Range. From the South West Highway it is along the roads to the east of the highway. It is picturesque country and at that time was also a good place to shoot rabbits. My story about Mike Anderson and I going rabbit shooting and driving over a dugite snake is set in these hills. We also were walking through some trees just below a ridge line when we were confronted by a swarm, stampede, host or whatever of kangaroos which we had obviously disturbed. All of a sudden we had kangaroos passing us left right and nearly centre. They had come and gone before we lifted up our rifles. They were 0.22. Mine was one I had bought off Mike. A single shot Cooey.

Anyway, back to horses. The culprit in this story deserved to have a bullet in his head. I was told the usual horse was not available but there was one at the property I could take for a ride. There was a shed with the gear in it and the horse was in the yard. After putting on its saddle etc it was time to get aboard and enjoy myself.

Horse I guess just wanted to rest. People who can ride a horse better than I can have told me what I should have done. What I did was mount the horse and have him promptly try to squash me by lying down. Fortunately I was able to step off him. I was considerably shaken. He wasn’t small. I could envisage me under him. That was the end of my horse riding days at Yarloop.



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1966 Yarloop Rifle club

In Carnarvon Greg Smith’s dad Doug had introduced me to rifle shooting. I bought a .303 which was in a case with the requisite rod for cleaning the barrel after a shoot and a book on how to succeed in the sport. I was only in Carnarvon for a year as my father died just after Christmas and I was transferred to Waroona Junior High School so I could live at home and help my mother and youngest brother.

I joined the Yarloop Rifle Club and enjoyed the weekend shoots. I assume they were on a Sunday morning. I was quite good at the sport and kept it up for the two years I was in Yarloop but towards the end of the two years the sport became very expensive because the rifle to use was changed to one using different ammunition which was 7.62mm. Whereas the 303 ammunition was of negligible cost because the Army had mountains of the ammunition that they could sell to us at a low price the new bullets were about a dollar each. It made the sport expensive and coinciding as it did with my moving to Perth to work at John Curtin Senior High School I gave it up. By then I had two rifles that I gave to Reg Eastcott. He and Stan Hayes are the two people I remember as running the club. Both had students I taught at the Waroona school.

We shot at a variety of lengths including 200 yards, 500 yards and 700 yards. I favoured the 500m range. On one occasion we went to Roelands to shoot as they had a 900 yard range.

In my second year at Yarloop I won a number of prizes for my shooting. Basil Blackburn who I will have mentioned elsewhere because I worked for him on his dairy farm helping doing the milking when I was a student had donated, or was going to donate, one of the prizes I won. He came up to the range on a subsequent weekend to observe the shooting. Unfortunately it was raining and I had trouble even seeing the target. My score was woeful. As a result Basil’s prize was similarly woeful. The other prizes I was asked to go shopping and buy items I would value. I only remember the leather record holder I bought that would hold a dozen records. It kept the records in it in pristine condition. Actually all my records I valued and kept in pristine condition. Why that is relevant is when I was clearing everything out of the house in Bateman after it was sold in 1992 I took the records over to Jim Miller’s place because I would no longer have a record player and he had one. His wife Betty relegated the pristine records to the garage.

So that is two people who upset me even though they were twenty five years apart. Back in 1967 two others tried to upset me. That was the Jovanovich brothers. They were driving a Ford Falcon or something similar. I was in my Mini. I was taking Marjorie Petersen back to Perth after having her come down to the Rifle Club annual dinner to see me get all my prizes. We had been an item for a little while after my cousin Joanne introduced us. This was the second time that year that Joanne had tried to do something to help me in the pursuit of the opposite sex. Soon after Marjorie headed off to Papua New Guinea. Anyway Tom and Alex would pass me and then slow down so I would have to pass them and then they would pass me and repeat the process. My little Mini had no power to escape from them. I cannot remember the conclusion but I assume they got tired of it.

Yarloop was a small mill town with the Rifle Club, a Bowls Club and a Darts Club. There may have been others but the only one I had joined was the Rifle Club. There was an annual competition where the members of the three joined at each others venue to try their hand at the others sport. I assume I was woeful at the darts but I found the bowls to be interesting because of the camber on the ball and found I mastered it quite well.

After the weekend shoots we would meet at the Yarloop Hotel for a drink but I had a problem with that activity because my father had enjoyed it much too much and the result was that I did not enjoy drinking at the pub. It was not until about ten years later when I joined Jaycees in Ipswich in Queensland and one of the members managed the hotel where the meetings were held that I became a XXXX beer drinker. Nowadays I only see the low alcohol Four X for sale but in those days the only drink was XXXX.


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Along the coast to go spear fishing

Kevin Donovan and I got set up during the last term for a drive around the south west coast from Perth to Albany. We bought compressed air spearguns on the assumption that we would be able to spear some fish.
From Perth we drove to Yarloop and stayed with Mum and Harold for the night. Then to Busselton where we stayed with Basil Blackburn who annually took his boat to a camping area there and caught a freezer load of fish. We went out with him and he cooked a meal of shark, snapper and dhu fish so we could taste the difference between them.
We then went down to Bunkers Bay where we went in the water to spear a fish. I was short sighted and to say that I was filled with trepidation was an understatement. I always anticipated being on the menu for a shark when I went in the ocean. We did see some fish. We did not spear any fish. I shot at one and found my spear disappearing into the distance as the bits that were supposed to be tightly attached to it and the rope all came adrift and I was about to become a spearless spearfisherman. However I swam along the path the spear took. The bottom was covered in seaweed which waved in the moving water. And I found all the bits. Big surprise and very pleasing.
Our next stop was Cape Leeuwin and the next stop of significance was William Bay. We went swimming. We froze. The water was so much colder than along the west coast as we were now on the south coast. When we left we drove out of the road that goes into the Bay and turned right onto the road along the coast. There was a farm on the corner. We drove a couple of hundred yards and then turned left up a hill that took us up above the farm. We stopped part way up the hill and admired the view over the farm, coastal reserve and ocean. It was beautiful. I commented that if I could I would buy that farm. This was to become significant six years later when a real estate agent who was supposed to be showing me properties on which to grow grapes for wine showed me the farm. It was for sale. While it was a challenge to afford it I did.BACK



Farm15 1000

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1966 Eastern States Tour - Mt Kosciusko

In 1966 I drove from Western Australia in my Mini to the Eastern States. The middle several hundred miles (this was before km) was not sealed. Going east a grader had just been over it and it was smooth. The Nullabor had occasional huge pot holes with branches stuck in them to warn you about them. Returning after six weeks the corrugations were dreadful for a couple of hundred miles. My foot brake stopped working and I spent a long time fixing it - which as you will realise was a very difficult task. When I started again it very soon gave up working so I drove the last thousand miles or so using just the gears and the hand brake.

Anyway I did drive to Mt Kosciusko which in those days you could drive to the top of. A couple were spending the night on top of Australia so I did so too.

These days you are meant to walk to the top so if you cannot walk you miss out on seeing these beautiful sights.

1966 SnowyMt02



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Caversham Motor Racing

Caversham is in the news as the old car racing circuit is about to be torn up and covered in houses.

The ABC news item "Push to save Perth's historic WWII era Grand Prix racing track from development" is to be found at

I took some photos there when I got my first 35mm camera. Two of the colour slides I took to show the effect of a slow and a fast shutter speed. The two photos are shown here.