We were able this year to celebrate 90 years of superb service to our nation by the ROYAL FLYING DOCTOR SERVICE solely because of the vision, commitment and determination of its magnificent pioneer, JOHN FLYNN, whom we know fondly as FLYNN OF THE INLAND.
I spent many delightful hours writing his life story and I strongly recommend you enjoy the same experience as you read it over your Christmas/New Year holiday.
Go to my website to place your order for a signed copy that I will get to you before Christmas (or as a gift that I send direct to a friend of yours for whom you give me the postal details).
It will cost you only 35 dollars, including postage.
While at my website, you will have the opportunity to expand your holiday reading pleasure by buying my other 3 good reads.
CATCHING THE LINVILLE TRAIN (history of my era)
A BEAUTIFUL SUNSET (happy final curtain call of life)
DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS (story of the creation of Australia)
I look forward to doing business with you.
PS. In the photo below you will see that my book is resting on another one written by my valued friend GRANTLEE KIEZA. Its about the Woman on the Twenty Dollar Notes, MARY REIBEY. A wonderful read.
On the right hand side, you will see a great book about ENID LYONS, wife of Prime Minister, Joseph Lyons, who won a seat in Parliament in her own right after he died and became the first woman to serve in a Federal Cabinet. She was a good friend of mine.
Look a little further to the right and you will see WINDSORS WAY, the story of another good friend, Tony Windsor, the finest independent ever to serve in the Australian Parliament. I wrote the forward to his very readable book.
You will notice a box marked ‘ship to a different address’.
Click on it to enter your friends name and address so I can post the package of books direct to them. Saves you the cost of double handling.
Should you decide to be a bit conservative and not give all four, you can choose any 1, 2 or 3 of them and I will still do all that I promised above (at a lesser price).
Individually, each book costs 25 dollars plus 10 dollars postage and packaging.
Let me give you a brief comment on each one.
CATCHING THE LINVILLE TRAIN. It is my latest and is a history of the great events that influenced your life and mine over the 92 years of my era which began in the tiny village of Linville in the Queensland bushlands in 1931.
A BEAUTIFUL SUNSET. A compelling novel that about a man with a terminal illness who makes his final three months the finest of his life.
DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS. An historical novel that tells the magnificent story of how Edmund Barton, Alfred Deakin, Samuel Griffith and their colleagues founded the new nation of Australia in 1901.
THE MAN ON THE TWENTY DOLLAR NOTES. Inspirational life story of John Flynn, Flynn of the Inland, Australia’s greatest nation builder. He created the Pedal Radio, Royal Flying Doctor Service and School of the Air.
Happy to supply more details if you wish.
Send me a direct message on Twitter or by Facebook Messenger and I will respond quickly.
My local Postmaster tells me that any packet of books that I post after 13 December may not get to its destination before Christmas.
PS. You can also buy my books online from any of Amazon, Booktopia, Dymocks, Fishpond etc or get them by e-books on Kindle. Only problem is I won’t be able to sign them.
Whenever I make a speech about my books, someone usually says to me,
‘I do wish I had the skill and courage to write a book. There are important things I want to say to the world before I depart’.
If you are one of those aspiring authors, I will be delighted to chat with you if you take a pleasant drive to my former hometown of LINVILLE in the Brisbane River Valley on SATURDAY, 18 NOVEMBER to meet me for an hour at 2.30pm at the LINVILLE COMMUNITY HALL.
My Forum is part of the annual LINVILLE HERITAGE AND ARTS FESTIVAL which begins on that day.
I will start by telling the story of how I went about writing CATCHING THE LINVILLE TRAIN and will then do my best to answer your questions about how you can plan to write and successfully publish your very own book.
Look forward to meeting you there.
Come early and say hello to me at the LINVILLE HOTEL. I will be enjoying one of their splendid lunches at 12.30pm.
‘I confirm that if the VOICE referendum is successful, a resolution will be passed in Parliament requiring every Member of the House of Representatives to hold at least one public meeting in their Electorate to review and comment on the proposed legislation to establish VOICE and convey the views of those meetings to Parliament before it votes on the matter.’
I am voting YES to VOICE.
More importantly, after the Referendum is successful, I intend to campaign aggressively and persistently to ensure that Voice does not ever have power to do anything other than advise our Parliament and is denied access to the Courts of Australia for any endeavour it may subsequently make to achieve an upgrade to its advisory role.
If Albo makes this commitment to Parliament, I am of the view that he will turn the tide of voters who are currently moving into the NO camp with steadily increasing numbers..
To be certain it does win, the YES campaign must stop declaring publicly that their opponents are racist, stupid and irresponsible. Right now, they alienate undecided voters every day.
The blunt truth is that YES is running the most amateur campaign of insults I have ever witnessed in my life of 9 decades, thereby lowering themselves to the same dark depths of fear and lies to which the NO campaign has woefully descended.
May I beg the current leaders of both the YES and NO campaigns to please resign, shut up and allow sensible people to debate the crucial issues of this vital Referendum which simply corrects an omission that occurred in 1901 when Australia became a nation and failed to acknowledge our indigenous heritage in our Constitution.
With a commitment to correcting a mistake of history.
Next time you have a twenty dollar note in your hands, take a close look at who is honoured on it.
You will note that Mary Reibey is on one side and John Flynn is on the other.
Flynn (about whom I wrote the book ‘The Man on the Twenty Dollar Notes’) is a legend as founder of the Flying Doctor and School of the Air. Mary Reibey is known by few, but richly deserves her honoured place in our national history as her achievements in our colonial era were quite extraordinary.
Eminent historical novelist, Grantlee Kieza, has written a well researched book to greatly upgrade her profile.
He is a valued friend of mine and we meet often for breakfast to chat about the books we are writing. Grantlee is far more productive than me, writing two, sometimes three, books every year, whereas I write one. He has written best selling books on such Australian legends as Hudson Fysh, Banjo Patterson, John Monash, Bert Hinkler, Henry Lawson and others. Talking with him is a huge learning experience for me and I am enormously grateful for it.
The front cover of his book below invites us to enjoy the fascinating story of THE REMARKABLE MRS REIBY. Grantlee has done all of us a huge favour by writing it so superbly. Make sure you buy his book soon.
Mary Reibey (her name then was Molly Haydock), a teenager living in poor circumstances in the English town of Stafford, stole a horse, tried to sell it, was caught & sentenced to death. In the shadow of the gallows, the lawmakers decided to give her another chance and ordered that she be transported to Australia for a term of 7 years, which she would eventually voluntarily extend to 70.
After months on a filthy boat and facing appalling conditions on arrival in Sydney, she settled down to the task of rehabilitating her life. She soon won a pardon and built a future. She fell in love with a decent man, married him, had 7 children, but unfortunately he died. She embarked on an amazing business career as a working mum that led her to become a real estate mogul, a shipping magnate and a philanthropist. Her achievements were an incredible feat.
Indeed, she became the wealthiest woman in colonial Australia and the acknowledged leader of a male dominated business community. From those positions of power, she often funded new public services that the colonial administration had ignored.
Her finest achievements were that she was the founding shareholder of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Bank of New South Wales (now Westpac) both of which have lasted for two centuries.
In all her endeavours, she faced the usual hurdles that have deterred many women in their rightful quest for gender equality. She was persistent, respectful and able and won acceptance strictly on merit. She was recognised as the ‘go to’ person if you wanted to achieve anything of significance in the colony and beyond. Smart male investors would say to friends, ‘If you want to make money, invest in whatever Mrs Reibey is doing’. (My Sydney readers will be interested to know that she owned Macquarie Place and lots of land surrounding it.)
She died in 1855 at age 78. New South Wales had lost its greatest pioneer. She left an inspirational pathway for others to follow, showing how constant setbacks can be overcome on a pathway to greatness.
There have been many women of courage and ability who have contributed mightily to the creation and development of Australia as a nation and as a society, but there are not many whose record is of greater quality and permanence than that of Mary Reibey.
However, we can be sure that the future will bring forward a new style of female leadership to the ever changing life of Australia and will ensure that gender equality is permanently embedded as a cornerstone of the nation.
I had an experience a week ago that pointedly displayed that future.
I visited the Linville School in the Brisbane River Valley where I first enrolled as a student 86 years ago. The School had 20 students then. Now it has 23. They gave me a wonderful welcome and invited me to spend 30 minutes talking to the students about my experiences of life and answering their questions. I was greatly heartened by their positive attitudes.
My closing comment was,
‘I hope that one of you will one day become Prime Minister of Australia. In saying this, may I predict that it will probably be one of the girls.’
The female students rose as one, clapping and cheering mightily. The guys sat in respectful silence, clapping politely.
Rebecca Levingston is a good friend. She hosts the morning program on 612 ABC Brisbane from 8.30 until 11 Monday to Friday and from time to time I have enjoyed being her guest.
At 10 on Fridays, she devotes 30 minutes to reviewing the major news events of the week and has invited me to be her guest commentator on the program every week commencing on Friday of this week, 21 July.
So I am delighted to accept Rebecca’s invitation and look forward to many weeks of chatting about the key issues that challenge us all.
Comments will be politically independent and socially responsible with no headline grabbing nonsense. Our aim is to offer commonsense advice on the issues of the day that you can debate at home.
So, listen in and enjoy every Friday at 10.
Everald (and Rebecca. She is the fine person you can see below.)
I will be at Linville on Thursday of this week, 20 July, doing a local launch of my book CATCHING THE LINVILLE TRAIN at a lunch at the Linville Hotel.
Decided to call the School and arrange to give them a signed copy of my book to put in the School Library. The Principal is a friendly person who was more than a bit surprised to be taking a call from a past student who first enrolled 86 years ago.
So it is that I will be at the School at 2.30pm on Thursday and I am looking forward to it.
The school was smaller when I was there, but it has an unforgettable memory for me as the school teacher at the time forced me to change from writing left handed. Now I do everything in life with my left hand except to write.
But they were happy days. Made many life long friends. Now, I am the only survivor.
With much nostalgia.
PS. Linville is in the Brisbane River Valley. Its a pleasant little village with a superb pub that serves great meals. You will be able to buy my book in the bar with 5 dollars per sale going to a great cause ARE YOU IN A PUDDLE MATE?
THURSDAY 20 JULY NOON – LINVILLE HOTEL – LUNCH WITH EVERALD
Send an email today to
to book your seats at the table. They will send you banking details.
Cost is 50 dollars per person for a wonderful lunch at an historic hotel while you enjoy a chat about my book CATCHING THE LINVILLE TRAIN as well as helping to raise funds for a wonderful charity called ARE YOU BOGGED MATE that cares for people in the bush who are having a battle with mental health.
I lived in Linville 90 years ago and passed the hotel on my walk to school. Back in those days it was called the Club Hotel as you can see on the painting that’s on the back cover of my book.
You will enjoy your drive to this pleasant rural village. Its less than a couple of hours drive from Brisbane, Ipswich, Toowoomba and the Sunshine Coast so you can relax in historic surroundings on a pleasant day.
It will be good to meet you and I am certain that you will drive home feeling real good.
Six years ago, eminent leaders of Indigenous Australians met at Uluru to draft and agree upon a Statement from the Heart. This led them to make a courteous request for a Referendum to be held to approve the establishment of a Voice that would enable them to make proposals to Parliament without having any legislative power.
Some delegates walked out in protest as they wanted to negotiate a Treaty similar in spirit to the one New Zealand Maoris signed at Waitangi 180 years ago. However, the support for Voice was substantial and the debate on Voice versus Treaty is evidence of democracy at work.
The expectation at Uluru that day was one of hope that participation in a vote for Voice would unite our country in a way that Australians have not experienced in the 235 years since the British invasion of the continent.
Prime Ministers Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison rejected Voice, but Anthony Albanese committed to it in his 2022 election campaign and has honoured that mandate as Prime Minister. Referendum legislation has now passed the Parliament and we all have the right to vote on it in October this year.
However, the YES and No campaigns are now locked in a bitter and nasty battle that is tearing Australia apart in a way that was never intended by the initial advocates of Voice. Both sides must share the blame for this.
YES is ultra sensitive to questions of how Voice will work, insisting that all will be revealed after the Referendum. Their responses are too often unnecessarily abusive declaring any questioner to be either racist or stupid or both. Quite extraordinarily, they are oblivious to the obvious fact that if people vote No because they don’t get the information they request, there wont be any Voice legislation to reveal to us as the Referendum will have been lost.
NO gives the clear impression that their opposition to Voice is based solely on the fact that, because of their small numbers in Parliament, they see this Referendum as the only opportunity they have to enjoy a political victory over Anthony Albanese before Election 2025 and they will not waste the opportunity. Their campaign is based on the crude political art of spreading false information that sounds like truth, causing many people who intend to vote NO for legitimate reasons to publicly disassociate themselves with Dutton, Littleproud, Hansen, Price and Mundine, meaning that there will be little political gain for them.
The sad fact is that both sides are hugely fostering deep divisions that are destroying the social fabric of Australia.
I have stated publicly on many occasions that I am a YES voter and a Yes advocate as is proven by the speeches I have made over the past year to older Australians of my era and I can tell you that I have not yet been in a room where Yes voters have been in the majority.
In question time after my speeches, or during the coffee break when people can speak in confidence, I find that these are the most persistent questions for which answers are sought and I don’t have sufficient information to answer their concerns.
*How many members will be elected to Voice?
*What will be the annual cost to the Budget for the operation of Voice?
*As there are twice as many Indigenous Members of Parliament as Indigenous people should be entitled to have as a percentage of the population, why can’t those Parliamentarians be asked to do the work of Voice as a specially appointed committee within the Parliament where they can wield influence?
*Will Voice be able to significantly help solve the social and financial and justice issues that have beset Indigenous Australians for a long time and can Voice create genuine value for the expenditure of billions of dollars this is spent by governments in continually failing to solve these problems?
*How can we trust politicians not to give Voice greater powers after the referendum when we know that the disgrace and deceit of Robodebt is a vivid reminder of the long list of the ways in which politics has consistently failed us in years past?
*Can we be guaranteed that Voice is the only constitutional change that Indigenous Australians will request? Will there be more after this one?
I could list other legitimate questions that are regularly asked by decent people, but these are the prime ones.
But I also reveal with sadness that when I seek answers to those questions so I can use them at meetings I address, the YES campaign hits me with criticism for committing the mortal sin of asking, even though we live and vote in a democracy which entitles us to ask.
Right now, Voice is on a pathway to defeat.
This will be an horrendous tragedy as enormous social divisions will be created. It will ensure that Australia becomes a pariah nation on the world scene while racial hatred steadily consumes our country.
It can be avoided if both the YES and No campaigns make long overdue decisions to act responsibly so people can vote in confidence without fear of the future.
I will continue to advocate for YES to Older Australians who currently hold many negatives in their minds about Voice despite having one hand tied behind my back by leaders who refuse to answer questions.
No matter what happens, I will always believe that the magnificent mountain we proudly call Uluru is the spiritual heart of our nation and I will never ignore its cry for justice and peace to be embedded in our souls.
If current circumstances prevail, NO will win the Voice Referendum decisively, and this will be a tragedy for Australia.
As a YES voter & YES advocate who campaigns every day for YES to VOICE, I can assure you with certainty that a NO victory will occur for one reason only.
VOTERS DO NOT TRUST POLITICIANS.
Let me give you a factual example of what will happen if the debate on the Voice Referendum continues its current course, especially given the fact that only 18% of Australian referendums have ever produced a YES vote and none have won with the Opposition arguing the NO case.
Back in 1967, I went to my local polling station to vote in 2 referendums on the same day. One enabled indigenous people to have basic democratic rights that were long overdue. The other tried to alter the Constitution to have more electorates created in the House of Representatives without increasing the size of the Senate.
I voted YES to both. 90% of Australians voted YES to indigenous rights but 60% voted NO to having more MP’s in Parliament.
The ‘More MP’s’ referendum was strongly backed by ALP Liberals Nationals in a rare act of unity. The sole opponent was the small Democratic Labor Party led by Senator Vince Gair who had previously been sacked as Premier of Queensland during the great Labor Split and was yearning to take his revenge on everyone for that humiliation.
Gair lacked substantial funding so he campaigned aggressively on one simple slogan –
NO MORE POLITICIANS
and said it over and over again in every speech he made & every media release he issued.
He crushed the well financed campaigns of the three major parties who wanted to create more MP’s.
Right now in 2023, most Australian voters distrust and disrespect politicians far more than was the case in 1967 and they see Voice as creating another lot of politicians who will generate more distrust.
Much more significantly they reckon that, after the Referendum, politicians will fail to deliver on their promise that Voice will have no power to legislate, given that Clause 3 of the Referendum wording clearly gives Parliament the right to determine the powers of Voice. So it is that a majority will vote NO in huge distrust of politicians unless Parliament takes urgent action to fix this significant roadblock.
A ‘YES’ LOSS CAN BE CHANGED TO A LANDSLIDE VICTORY IF THE YES CAMPAIGN TOTALLY REFORMS ITS FAILED STRATEGY OF SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS AND REQUESTS PARLIAMENT TO IMPLEMENT VITALLLY ESSENTIAL LEGLISLATIVE COMMONSENSE RIGHT NOW.
The very simple formula for a YES victory is this.
Introduce to Parliament and pass without delay, immediately it returns from the winter break at the end of July, a concise Bill that will, automatically and indisputably, become law when VOICE wins the Referendum in October.
The Voice Governance Bill must cover, in the clearest and briefest terms, the basics of these crucial issues,
*Who is eligible to vote in Voice Election.
*How many members will be elected to Voice, how long will their terms be and what will be their annual salaries and expenses .
*How many staff will each Voice member have.
*What Voice will cost to operate in Year One, including the cost of the building from which it will operate.
*By what means will Voice convey its proposed policies to Parliament, Government and the people of Australia and what is the time limit that Parliament will have to respond to each policy proposal.
This quite concise and practical legislation will enable voters to choose YES with confidence.
It will also open the door for Parliament to establish the administrative details of how all of the above basic elements will work in practice after the referendum is passed.
The debate in Parliament in passing this urgent Bill, in both the House and Senate, will be to provide a high profile platform for educating millions of voters on the absolute commonsense of Voice before they have to vote.
Once this Bill is passed, no voter will be able to say that he or she is unaware of how Voice will work. It will be enshrined in law before they vote, ready to be implemented without change after they vote.
Dutton Littleproud Hansen will oppose the Bill in panic as they are very aware that it will completely invalidate their campaigns of false information and fear.
Let me again restate an undeniable fact,
THE VOICE REFERENDUM WILL BE DEFEATED UNLESS THE ABOVEMENTIONED BILL IS PASSED BEFORE WE VOTE.
It will be clearly irresponsible not to pass it,
Also, it will be totally false and insulting for advocates of Voice to say, after the defeat that will occur if they continue their current strategy, that it was caused because most Australian voters are racist.
It would also be true at that time to say once more as we pondered the ashes of defeat that we ignored the underlying view of voters that
to buy a signed copy of my book DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS.
Read my account of how New Zealand walked out of the Federation Conference of 1892 when it had been hoped that it would become the 7th State of the new nation, They rightly refused to have the citizenship status of Maoris reduced to the non status of Aborigines. You will cheer New Zealand.)
Linville is in the Brisbane River Valley just 125 kilometres from my Aspley home in Brisbane if you travel via Caboolture and Kilcoy.
It is where I started school 86 years ago and the place where my book CATCHING THE LINVILLE TRAIN begins a lively account of my journey through the world.
I am travelling there on THURSDAY, 20 JULY, to enjoy lunch at NOON with my friend, Tanya Grimward, who is the owner and host of the grand old Linville Hotel. We hope that 50 people will join us for a happy chat and some top quality bush tucker.
I will sell and sign the book for 30 dollars, of which 10 dollars will be given to a great cause that Tanya and I admire and support called ARE YOU BOGGED MATE. It helps country people to handle mental health issues and stop the depression that too often leads to suicide.
A splendid two course lunch is yours for 50 dollars a head and I intend to get around all the tables and say hello to everyone who comes to join us.
YOU CAN BOOK BY EMAILING TANYA AT
She will email you the details of how to pay and confirm your booking.
You can see the hotel in the painting that appears on the back cover of my book. Back in my school days, the pub was called the Club Hotel and the son of the owner at that time used to play marbles with me in its backyard on our way home from school.
So there is more than a bit of nostalgia for me when I dine with you on Thursday 20 July at Noon. My work as an international fund raising consultant took me from Linville to all five continents organising campaigns in 26 nations.
I did not ever forget my happy days in Linville. It was the ground of my being.
In the heritage of Indigenous Australians a GOONDEEN is ‘ a father figure; a very wise, smart and respected person, a clever fella who shares his life with others and cares for all.
Let me tell you a story that began in 2016 when I accepted with humility an invitation to become GOONDEEN EVERALD.
A respected friend of mine is Bill Synnot, as fine a citizen as I have come across, who has had a successful career as in Change Management. He decided to organise and finance the publication of a book called ‘Goondeen’ and establish the Goondeen Institute which would promote the spirit of Goondeen.
The first decision of the Goondeen Institute was to appoint three modern Goondeens.
*UNCLE ALBERT HOLT, a distinguished Indigenous Elder from Cherbourg in Queensland.
*HENRY PALASZCZUK, a migrant from war torn Europe who became a Member and Minister of the Queensland Parliament and whose daughter, Annastacia, is Premier.
*Me, a young lad from the bush who has tried to make a difference.
Bill then appointed an author, Sophie Church, to write the book, and Andrew Schulz, organiser of the Year of the Outback, to become the advocate of the project.
Many working lunches followed in Bill’s office where the six of us discussed many aspects of our lives and our work and our vision of Australia as a caring and sharing nation.
The book was launched in 2017 at Old Government House at the Queensland University of Technology by Annastacia and it has sold well, to the extent that there is now a Chinese translation of it which helps mould a better understanding of Australia by China.
Bill then had the book adapted as an educational resource for use in Primary Schools and now more than 50 schools are using it. Some are taking it very seriously by implementing a study program. On completion the students become GOONDEEN GUARDIANS, after making a commitment to live as sharers and carers in helping to create a cohesive society.
So it is that yesterday I was invited to the Springfield Central State School to individually declare 22 students to be GOONDEEN GUARDIANS and make a graduation address by giving examples of people who showed us how much more we can achieve in our vocations if we work in teams rather than as loners and how life reaches the highest level of quality where we daily share and care.
So, you can see me above doing my bit in bonding with my fellow Goondeens at Springfield (and their parents and teachers).
Actually, I could show you more photos, especially one of the GOONDEEN GARDEN that the students have created with an splendid indigenous mural containing sketches of Albert, Henry and me.
So, why am I telling you this.
I am proud to be involved in a movement where all who belong to it are creating caring and sharing communities in which they dont just talk about it, they become personally involved.
My day ended on a high note, when one of the new GOONDEEN GUARDIANS (female) said to me,
‘Are you indigenous?’
(I am very much a white man, so here is the subsequent conversation)
‘What makes you think I am indigenous?’
‘You tell wonderful stories and indigenous people are great story tellers.’
‘I have no indigenous ancestors, but I am spiritually indigenous as every one of us is an Australian.’
‘So am I and I hope that I will grow up to be like you and be able to tell great stories about it.’
I write books as a delightful way to relax as I enjoy trying to relate my life experiences in an entertaining way that my friends will enjoy.
So it is that, in the six years since my 85th birthday, I have written and published 4 books and have just begun the fifth.
May I suggest that you do likewise and commence right after reading this. There is no time to waste.
I can hear some of my friends saying ‘I am no good at writing things down’ but can I nicely say this is just an excuse. All you have to do is ask one of your grandkids to put it into their computer while you chat away about what you want to say. Then you work together to knock it into shape.
When you finish, there is no need to publish it publicly unless you deliberately choose too. If you have a computer and printer its easy to print off 50 copies to give to family and friends.
Just dont die without recording the music that is in your soul. Your accumulated wisdom is of value to all around you. All you have to do is decide whether to tell you life story or just describe important events in your journey or be like Agatha Christie and write a thriller that your fertile mind will enable you to think up.
Let me briefly tell you my story as an amateur author.
During my long career as a fund raising consultant, I wrote some boring books on raising money, then wrote a family history and my personal history.
I enjoyed doing that, even though none of them were a great success, so late in life I decided to get serious about my writing and enjoy doing so.
My first choice was not a hard one to make. John Flynn, Flynn of the Inland, had been a role model of my life since I learned about him at Sunday School so I wrote THE MAN ON THE TWENTY DOLLAR NOTES. I decided to write it as an historic novel, depicting him as an old man reminiscing about his life. I made sure I got the historical facts correct and created conversations that related to the personalities of those involved. It has been my best seller, 6000 copies sold so far.
Buoyed by that, I decided to write another one and chose to tell the story of how the nation of Australia was created in 1901 and how its Constitution was written as I reckon most Australians don’t have a clue as to what happened. DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS follows the same theme as with Flynn. I have our first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, inviting the most famous of the Founding Fathers (Deakin, Griffith, Forrest, Kingston, etc) to dinner after the event to review what they did and what they could have done better.
Then I wrote A BEAUTIFUL SUNSET. It is pure fiction, the story of a man who has a terminal illness and decides to make his last 3 months the greatest of his life despite huge criticism of his decision to depart via Voluntary Assisted Dying. It is a positive tale of life and death and legacy.
My latest is CATCHING THE LINVILLE TRAIN that describes the events, people, places and causes that determined my life of 91 years which began in the little village of Linville. I reckon it is my best and I was chuffed when a reader whom I have never met went on Facebook this week to commend it with these generous words,
“Well, I’ve read a few books but none are as engrossing and well written as this. If you are interested in history or philosophy, grab a copy. It is brilliant.”
Thank you Noelle.
Right now, I am working on another one, WALKING WITH THE GREAT SPIRIT. I will tell you about it another time. As soon as you can, I want you to start writing and enjoy it. There is no hard work involved. The world needs your words. There may be no tomorrow.
But let me finish with a few comments about the photo below.
My computer reveals to you that I am working on ‘Walking with the Great Spirit’. Beside it are my four books and in front of them is my whisky mug called TOBERMORY. It is a splendid whisky from the Scottish Isle of Mull where Australia’s Governor Macquarie is buried and the tiny Isle of Iona is nearby. You will find it is highlighted in the book I am currently working on.
Some people on social media regularly accuse me of being a WOKE and they do not mean it as a compliment.
So, I typed WOKE into Google recently and it instantly came up with this description.
Woke is a name given to people who are –
‘AWAKE TO THE NEEDS OF OTHERS, WELL INFORMED, THOUGHTFUL, COMPASSIONATE, HUMBLE, KIND, AND EAGER TO MAKE WORLD A BETTER PLACE FOR ALL PEOPLE.
Even though I have a healthy self ego, I can’t claim that I qualify for this accolade, but I proudly proclaim that I am trying to do so as a REFORMING CONSERVATIVE.
I live and move and have my being from a basic set of values and ethics, but I am a reformer who acknowledges that we live in an ever changing world and have a responsibility to ensure that the inevitable changes meet the needs and aspirations of humanity.
I hold the view that to achieve this I am more likely to do so as a WOKE.
Sadly, whatever I try to achieve as a reformer is declared by the Christian Right to be socialist. In their view, it is not possible to have a conscience and also remain a conservative. They declare me to be a ‘leftie’.
Fact is that I have never ever joined a political party and never will. I have been a swinging voter all my life and vote for candidates of quality, never a political party.
However, when I study the lives of people who claim to be WOKES, I do find that far too many are extremists who forget that a WOKE is someone who is thoughtful, but we can’t be this if we have closed minds that takes us out to the extremes. This is not at all smart.
I find that WOKES who move to extremes are actually addicts to the CANCEL CULTURE, people who are destroyers of any form of enlightened thought. They declare themselves themselves to be God and sit in judgement of the world when their own lives and deeds would not stand any genuine scrutiny.
They fill me with disgust when they want to take down statues of Captain Cook, an explorer of extraordinary achievement, who simply carried out the written orders from his King to claim the great south land as part of his empire.
I am even more disgusted when the CANCEL CULTURE guys want to rewrite all the children’s books I loved reading at school just because their closed minds declare them to to racist or sexist.
But let me calm down and move on as I declare myself to be a REFORMING CONSERVATIVE WOKE who is proud to be identified by this title forever.
If you have never met me and want to check me out so you can decide whether or not I am a nutter, please buy my book CATCHING THE LINVILLE TRAIN. It sets out my views on 30 significant historical events that I have experienced in my 90 years on our planet, plus 20 influential people I have worked with and 20 historic places I have visited that influenced my thinking. Also a chat about what I think have been the main achievements of my life. All of this began 85 years ago when I took my first journey away from my home village of Linville on the train going to Toogoolawah.
I think you will find that I qualify as a REFORMING CONSERVATIVE WOKE but, if you decide otherwise, then please tell me where I went wrong,
But, whatever you decide, please join me in giving the CANCEL CULTURE guys a solid kick in the butt.
A signed copy of CATCHING THE LINVILLE TRAIN will cost you 35 dollars. Just go to my website
He lived a long and influential life that made an impact for 96 impressive years and involved him in a high profile career as a singer, actor and civil rights campaigner. The world has been enhanced by his presence.
I first encountered him at the cinema 50 years ago when I went one evening to watch him act and sing in a top quality movie called ISLAND IN THE SUN which was based in the Caribbean. This was when I first heard him sing the Banana Boat Song and caused me to take a huge liking to his Calypso music. It has stayed in my memory all those years. I remember it fondly whenever I painfully listen to ear deafening modern music which is absolutely appalling and without any soul or tone. Even worse is its capacity to make it impossible to have a conversation with anyone.
Belafonte went on to become a household name on screen and stage.
As the years advanced and, as he had always displayed in the passion of his singing and acting, he readily moved into the world of the civil rights movement as he had a profound sense of justice. He was living from experience, having as a black man suffered racial discrimination in hotels, restaurants, transport and public places, often denied admission because he was not white.
Regularly, he marched for justice with Martin Luther King and was often hit with police batons and arrested for disturbing the peace.
He went to South Africa to campaign for the release of Nelson Mandela causing the apartheid government much embarrassment as anti Mandela whites turned up in their thousands to hear him sing. Those people then hastily told all around them that they really were unhappy with his support of Mandela, but simply couldn’t miss his concert.
Poverty was on his agenda too, no matter whether the poor were black or white, and as the years advanced he became more politically radical and generated a huge number of outspoken critics.
But that was Harry Belafonte. He could never betray his conscience.
Some years back, I read a significant biography of his journey. It spelled out his life in fascinating detail. He lived his justice commitment in public and his songs always gripped people as an expression of personal compassion.
One racist incident I remember vividly.
When ‘Island in the Sun’ was first released, many bigots descended on cinemas in several Southern States of America and set fire to them in protest. The lead female actor in the film was Joan Fontaine who was white and she and Harry acted a couple who developed an intimate relationship. White bigots were affronted by this, claiming it would encourage black white marriages that would destroy American society. This was one of the fundamental reasons why he joined forces with Martin Luther King.
Belafonte was a MAN. He was not a BLACK MAN.
In writing this article, I recall two other African Americans whose lives were lived on a similar path to him.
One in recent times was Sidney Poitier who died last year. I immensely enjoyed his films TO SIR WITH LOVE and GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER.
Another was a century ago. Paul Robeson, one of the greatest singers of all time. He was declared to be a communist because he fought for his right to live in equality with whites. His singing of OLD MAN RIVER was just magic. A wonderful way to die would be to quietly go to sleep listening to him singing and telling me that old man river will just keep rolling along.
In my book, A BEAUTIFUL SUNSET, the prime character of the story, who has a terminal illness, listens to Paul Robeson as he departs by Voluntary Assisted Dying.
But let us all also remember a great Australian, David Gulpilil. Like Belafonte, Poitier and Robeson, he too suffered unwarranted humiliation as an indigenous person, but highlighted his proud heritage in several wonderful films which greatly helped me to understand the racial issues Australia must overcome on its path to reconciliation. I will always remember his roles in THE RABBIT PROOF FENCE and THE TRACKER.
So, let me come back to Harry Belafonte. He showed us that famous actors and singers can use their fame to achieve great things for society. May there be many more like him.
The final words come from his great friend Martin Luther King,
‘I dream of the day when my children will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the quality of their souls’.
Men have controlled the world since time began and in our modern era there are far too many males who want a strong degree of control to continue forever.
The cold hard facts of the matter are that they remain in charge of the domination stakes as women are still not paid equal money for equal work and have to work much harder to advance their careers than men do.
Of considerable concern is that domestic violence just grows and grows as some men try to retain control by physical power alone.
Churches give bad leadership in this situation as, throughout the world, they are still male dominated even though women comprise more than 60% of most congregations and the hope of ever having a female pope is as close to nil as is possible.
So this Sunday at my local Church, Aspley Uniting, I will try to make a contribution to the cause of changing attitudes about the role of gender in society.
I am giving the ‘sermon’ and will base it on the lives and leadership of five great female leaders who were Christians.
*Saint Teresa of Calcutta who spent her life caring for those in hunger and poverty. Malcolm Muggeridge once wrote a great book about her called ‘Something Beautiful for God’
*Florence Nightingale who was British and created the nursing profession despite great hostility. The world knows her as ‘ The Lady with the Lamp.’
*Saint Mary MacKillop of Australia who enabled the poor to get an education. The only person in the Roman Catholic Church was excommunicated for defiance of orders from her Bishop and rise from ‘disgrace’ to be declared a saint.
*Gladys Aylward, a Christian missionary from England who saved the lives of many children in the Civil War in China. Originally she was rejected as a missionary because ‘a white woman could not survive alone in China.’
*Catherine Hamlin of Australia, gifted surgeon who devoted her life to doing incredible work for the poor as a medical missionary in Ethiopia. She is still active at 96.
Clearly, there are many more women who deserve an accolade, but I can’t fit them into one sermon.
PLEASE JOIN ME TOMORROW MORNING SUNDAY, EITHER AT THE CHURCH IN ROBINSON ROAD ASPLEY AT 8.30 OR 10.15, OR BY LIVESTREAMING ON THE CHURCH WEBSITE, THEN OR AT ANYTIME IN THE NEXT FORTNIGHT.
I have highlighted below the cover of a wonderful book on the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the powerful crusading Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America who died a few years ago. I enormously admired her.
She was out numbered by dominating male Justices but she influenced their decisions mightily and courageously, particularly in cases involving discrimination and injustice.
Her quest for equality extended to her religion.
She was Jewish and the fundamentalist males of her religion have for centuries, in the ritual of their daily prayers, said
‘I thank you God that I was not born a woman.’
That says it all.
An old bloke from the bush where ‘men were men’. Whatever that means.
At age 91, I do a lot of reflecting about the 9 decades in which I have been around and about.
I constantly ponder the meaning of the fact that most of my reflections are about stupid things I have done and people I have hurt because my sense of commonsense and compassion has lapsed too often.
I try to make up for it, not just by striving to right those wrongs, but by making sure I don’t do them again and by concentrating on achieving better things for humanity right now that avoid my errors of the past.
While I am very active as Chair of ACTS, a charity that gives direct financial aid to people in crisis situations, and as Chair of the Everald Compton Charitable Trust that funds good causes such as dementia research, I also spend time helping to get new civic projects underway and endeavouring to mould public opinion on politics, religion, money, values and ethics.
I do a lot of public speaking on these issues but my main thrust is through my personal website and its links to Twitter and Facebook.
This week I decided that my website needed a facelift as it is looked as if it was as old as me. So with the experienced help of a good mate, Dylan Bell, who has huge computer skills that I don’t have, I revived the masthead by removing it and showing –
*The Railway Station and Pub at Linville where I was born and bred.
*A recent portrait of me.
*A photo taken at Government House Brisbane last year when I received an Order of Australia for a second time.
*The covers of my four books currently on sale –
CATCHING THE LINVILLE TRAIN – my account of the world history of my era.
A BEAUTIFUL SUNSET – the story of a man with a terminal illness who makes the last three months of his life the greatest and best.
DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS – a dynamic account of how the nation of Australia was founded in 1901 without its Constitution mentioning the heritage of Indigenous People.
THE MAN ON THE TWENTY DOLLAR NOTES. – the gripping drama of how John Flynn created The Flying Doctor, the Pedal Radio and the School of the Air.
In 2024, I will add another one to my website – WALKING WITH THE GREAT SPIRIT – a challenging and meaningful account of the rise and decline of Christianity in my lifetime, with 50 chapters describing people who were giants of the faith as well as a few of those who sought to destroy it.
So my website is an important statement as to who I am – a boy from the bush who has tried to make a difference and will continue to do so until the day I die.
People who visit my website usually go on to read what I say on Twitter and Facebook.
12000 have registered to follow me on Twitter and 5000 on Facebook. Many of those share my social media posts on to their own followers who do likewise and statistics show that at least 100,000 people read what I say every day and many respond with comments. This enables me to help keep politicians on the ball as most of them have chosen to read what I say from time to time.
May I say as an aside that there are too many people who abuse me on social media so I instantly block them and move on, We all should debate. There must be no hate.
So, who am I and what am I trying to achieve?
I am a person who firmly believes that the world is run by those who turn up.
So I turn up and I create, challenge, debate, share and care while trying to practice a bit of humility.
But I know I can do better, much better, and I plan to keep trying.
On the back cover of my new book, CATCHING THE LINVILLE TRAIN, there is a splendid painting that depicts the scene.
My friend, Noela Lowien, a talented painter who lives at Kilcoy in Queensland, not far from Linville, has captured the moment.
Never before had I ever travelled beyond Linville, a tiny village in which a timber mill was the focal point. My dad worked as a labourer at the mill earning 3 pounds a week (six dollars).
This day was a huge adventure for me. It took me to Toogoolawah, a distance of 20 miles, to spend a day at the rural school where they tried unsuccessfully to teach me wood work. It took a long time for the world to work out that my only skill was talking.
That first journey turned out to be the first of many thousands that followed to every continent on the globe. The book chats about the significant world events that impacted my life, famous people I worked with, historic places I visited and nostalgia about books, films, theatre, sport and the important things I believe I have achieved, concluding with a memorable journey back to Linville on my 90th birthday to walk for 14 kilometres along the now disused railway track and raise 35000 dollars for ACTS.
Well, the book is being launched on Thursday evening of the coming week, 16 March, at 6.00pm at All Saints Anglican Church in Hamilton Road at Chermside in the northern suburbs of Brisbane, 140 kilometres from Linville.
You are welcome to join me there to share a red wine and a chat. Its a fundraiser for a Uniting Church charity that I chair called ACTS that gives direct cash grants to people in crisis situations. It will cost you a few dollars, but you will enjoy a happy evening.
All of the royalties that I would normally earn from book sales that night go to ACTS
SEND ME A MESSAGE AND I WILL BE IN TOUCH.TO ORGANISE A PLACE FOR YOU.
So far, 112 people have registered to attend and have paid up in advance, but I can fit you in for sure.
PS. Noela Lowien has also done a flattering portrait of me which is on the front cover of the book. Noela will be at the launch. You can sign her up to do a portrait of you.