Connect with us

Australia

Doing our bit on the home front

IT'S a hot evening in February, 1916, and residents are pouring into Armidale Town Hall to decide whether the school of arts building should be turned into a soldiers' club.

Mayor William Curtis, a draper by trade, presides over the meeting.

Min Blaxland, great granddaughter of the explorer Gregory Blaxland and known as “The Digger's Queen”, sits beside him.

She reads out the proposal for a New England Soldiers' Club.

It will be a place for all members of the Australian Imperial Expeditionary Forces, camped at Armidale Showground.

“The club shall provide members with rest, recreation and material comfort,” Min tells the gathered assembly.

“It will be open between 5pm and 10.30pm on weekdays”, there will be no alcohol served and gambling will be prohibited.

Similar meetings are being held in town halls across Australia throughout The Great War.

People on the home front are keen to do their bit for “our boys” fighting for The Empire.

DIGGERS' QUEEN: Min..

IT'S a hot evening in February, 1916, and residents are pouring into Armidale Town Hall to decide whether the school of arts building should be turned into a soldiers' club.

Mayor William Curtis, a draper by trade, presides over the meeting.

Min Blaxland, great granddaughter of the explorer Gregory Blaxland and known as “The Digger's Queen”, sits beside him.

She reads out the proposal for a New England Soldiers' Club.

It will be a place for all members of the Australian Imperial Expeditionary Forces, camped at Armidale Showground.

“The club shall provide members with rest, recreation and material comfort,” Min tells the gathered assembly.

“It will be open between 5pm and 10.30pm on weekdays”, there will be no alcohol served and gambling will be prohibited.

Similar meetings are being held in town halls across Australia throughout The Great War.

People on the home front are keen to do their bit for “our boys” fighting for The Empire.

DIGGERS' QUEEN: Min Blaxland dresses up for a fancy costume fund-raiser to raise funds for the New England Soldiers' Club.

Makeshift camps are set up on the outskirts of many other country towns, where men who have enlisted train and wait to be called to serve their country.

At the meeting in Armidale, the mayor rises and takes a vote on the club; the motion passes overwhelmingly.

Copious notes are taken at committees and sub-committees over the next few months, documenting rules and regulations for the club and fund-raising drives.

Mrs T Lambert from the Armidale Relief Society commits to baking three cakes and selling them at 10d each, or about $4.15 in today's currency; a plum pudding (1/5), two tins of fruit at a halfpenny each and one pudding at 1/5.

MINUTE RECORD: A page from one of the notebooks kept at The University of New England Heritage Centre. Archivist Bill Oates oversees hundreds of similar writings from the war years.

MINUTE RECORD: A page from one of the notebooks kept at The University of New England Heritage Centre. Archivist Bill Oates oversees hundreds of similar writings from the war years.

Notes show Mrs' Horton, Vane and Holden pledging to do their bit in the kitchen, even cooking herrings in sauce.

Their recipes, reports and expenses are meticulously recorded in diaries and notebooks catalogued at The University of New England's Heritage Centre.

They provide a window on to the everyday life of those left behind during World War I.

"While much has been documented from those serving during The Great War, comparatively less has been written about the everyday lives of those left in Australia," archivist Bill Oates says.

Min's diary, usually jotted with a pencil in modified cursive style, forms part of that collection.

It sits alongside newspapers and articles in the archives detailing the everyday lives of Australians during the war years.

Billy Hughes is prime minister. He's juggling the high cost of war (20 per cent of GDP in 1918, compared with 2 per cent in 2016) and a relentless drought which began in 1911 and has caused a crash in wool, meat and dairy production.

In country towns, people such as Min are trying to make ends meet on an average wage of £2 9s 3d for men ($285.45 in today's currency) and 19s 5d ($113.94) for women.

Life's tough for those left at home.

PRACTICAL: Utilitarian fashion in the war years.

PRACTICAL: Utilitarian fashion in the war years.

As with thousands of other women living in rural communities, Min's morning starts with her regular visit to Armidale Hospital, armed with bunches of fresh flowers picked from her garden.

“It's hard to believe now but picking flowers for recovering soldiers in war-time hospitals was a daily routine for thousands of women,” Oates says.

She's also preparing for the night's meal and will probably turn to a recipe from Mrs Beeton's All About Cookery book.

There's a special section on Australian cookery, with recipes such as Melbourne pancakes, parrot pie, Rosella jelly and jugged wallaby.

William Curtis, meanwhile, is trying to recruit young men to serve in his burgeoning store. It's a very difficult task, since a third of Australia's male population aged between 18 and 44 have enlisted to serve the country.

Cinema becomes a good way to take people's minds off the war and most country towns now have their own moving picture house.

RECOVERING SOLDIERS: The men's ward at Armidale Hospital, circa 1916. It was customary for rural women to pick and arrange flowers for patients in hospital wards.

RECOVERING SOLDIERS: The men's ward at Armidale Hospital, circa 1916. It was customary for rural women to pick and arrange flowers for patients in hospital wards.

In Armidale, the old skating rink has been demolished to make way for the cinema.

Showing in 1916 is the silent fantasy drama film, A Daughter of the Gods, (approved and commended by the New York Board of Censorship), featuring Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman.

During the war years less than half of all Australians owned their own home (compared with nearly 70 per cent in 2017), however, there are bargains for those who can afford a home.

In a 1917 edition of The Sydney Morning Herald, a double-fronted brick cottage in Manly, "close to surf and boat" is advertised for £800 (terms may be arranged), or about $79,600 in today's currency.

But country people face different challenges.

Most still work on the land and talk in the bars and salons invariably turns to the drought.

It starts in 1911 and a series of what we now term “el Nino” events ravages the country until at least 1916.

Heavy rains reported in Tasmania, southern Victoria and western Queensland have failed to materialise in other parts of Australia.

Its turned manicured-green tennis courts a baked brown, much to the annoyance of those young men and women left behind.

“Tennis was a big part of the social calendar in the war years,” Mr Oates says.

“Tennis parties and other social events, such as dances and fundraisers, would be advertised in advance and reported in full in the papers.”

In Armidale, a number of tennis parties are held to raise funds for the construction of the soldiers club.

ON COURT: A tennis umpire presides over a fundraising match, circa 1917.

ON COURT: A tennis umpire presides over a fundraising match, circa 1917.

Min lives up to her name as “The Diggers Queen” by taking part in a fancy costume fundraiser.

She dresses as a mock royal, resplendent in long gown, crown and orb.

It does the trick; money for the soldiers club pours in and by 1917 the hut is built.

But within a year The Great War will draw to an end.

About a fifth of the 331,780 Australians who served overseas never came home; a further 137,013 were wounded.

Its the task of those left behind to erect memorials and cenotaphs to those who died, “Lest We Forget”.

New England Soldiers Club survived for a while after the war before the building was demolished and the club merged with the district RSL.

Min Blaxland lived to see another war.

She never married, but was a tireless worker for the Red Cross, dying in November, 1965 aged 88.

William Curtis served as an alderman for another 30 years.

He lived to see his two sons take over and expand the business.

One of his sons, A.B Curtis, returned from service in World War I as an amputee; he is commemorated on the Armidale World War I Memorial Fountain.

Countless other lives remain unrecorded, some committed to a long lost diary, or ledger, or journal, kept by the likes of Mr Oates.

They are kept for next generations, ready to be opened and poured over, their jottings, often incomplete, to be deciphered in new ways.

Continue Reading

Australia

Relive days two and one at the Parkes Elvis Festival in our live blog!

Are you ready to Rock and Roll? Were all shook up this year over the 2019 Parkes Elvis Festival. Theres a program full of non-stop entertainment, competitions, dancing and a lot of black leather, and were going to be following it from the trains, to the Wall of Fame and much more. During each day of the festival the Parkes Champion Post will bring you the best content – if you cant be here in Parkes we will make you feel like you are part of the crowd, and if you are make sure you keep an eye out for your photo and details from the days events. READ MORE Want to know whats coming up next? Find the program below!

Are you ready to Rock and Roll?

Theres a program full of non-stop entertainment, competitions, dancing and a lot of black leather, and were going to be following it from the trains, to the Wall of Fame and much more.

During each day of the festival the Parkes Champion Post will bring you the best content – if you cant be here in Parkes we will make you feel like you are pa..

Are you ready to Rock and Roll? Were all shook up this year over the 2019 Parkes Elvis Festival. Theres a program full of non-stop entertainment, competitions, dancing and a lot of black leather, and were going to be following it from the trains, to the Wall of Fame and much more. During each day of the festival the Parkes Champion Post will bring you the best content – if you cant be here in Parkes we will make you feel like you are part of the crowd, and if you are make sure you keep an eye out for your photo and details from the days events. READ MORE Want to know whats coming up next? Find the program below!

Are you ready to Rock and Roll?

Theres a program full of non-stop entertainment, competitions, dancing and a lot of black leather, and were going to be following it from the trains, to the Wall of Fame and much more.

During each day of the festival the Parkes Champion Post will bring you the best content – if you cant be here in Parkes we will make you feel like you are part of the crowd, and if you are make sure you keep an eye out for your photo and details from the days events.

Want to know whats coming up next? Find the program below!

This story Relive days two and one at the Parkes Elvis Festival in our live blog! first appeared on Parkes Champion-Post.

Continue Reading

Australia

Cotton Australia, irrigators hit back at criticism over fish kill

IRRIGATORS and cotton growers have hit back at suggestions they, in combination with government policy, were somehow responsible for the fish kill that took out as many as a million fish early this week near Menindee Lakes. NSW Irrigators Council chief executive Luke Simpkins and Cotton Australia general manager Michael Murray have both defended their respective organisations water use, while lamenting the fact such a disaster occurred. Both blamed drought for the fish kill. “What has happened is as a result of the drought and no water flowing into the rivers. This drought is a devastating time for all of us. This is not about diversions, but about inflows,” said Mr Simpkins. “Without inflows, blue-green algae events will continue to kill fish. This was predicted in December in an ABC report and algal blooms have killed fish before,” he said. “It should be remembered that irrigation farmers on the Upper Darling have not been allocated any water from the system for 18 months because of ..

IRRIGATORS and cotton growers have hit back at suggestions they, in combination with government policy, were somehow responsible for the fish kill that took out as many as a million fish early this week near Menindee Lakes. NSW Irrigators Council chief executive Luke Simpkins and Cotton Australia general manager Michael Murray have both defended their respective organisations water use, while lamenting the fact such a disaster occurred. Both blamed drought for the fish kill. “What has happened is as a result of the drought and no water flowing into the rivers. This drought is a devastating time for all of us. This is not about diversions, but about inflows,” said Mr Simpkins. “Without inflows, blue-green algae events will continue to kill fish. This was predicted in December in an ABC report and algal blooms have killed fish before,” he said. “It should be remembered that irrigation farmers on the Upper Darling have not been allocated any water from the system for 18 months because of the drought.” He said general security allocations (meaning the percentage of a water licence farmers are able to use) have been at zero per cent in both the Gwydir and Lower Namoi valleys. “The water simply isnt there for anyone. “As we approach the state election in March and the federal election in May, it is understandable that MPs seeking re-election and candidates seeking election will want to raise their profiles by allocating blame. “Ultimately it is their credibility that will evaporate when they seek to deny the existence of the drought and the lack of rainfall/inflows,” said Mr Simpkins. Cotton Australia general manager Michael Murray said cotton growers should not be blamed for this weeks fish kill, nor those last month. “New South Wales is in the grip of a long and devastating drought. This drought is impacting all agricultural sectors, including the cotton industry where this seasons crop is forecast to be at least half of last seasons,” he said.. “On the Barwon-Darling, the impact on cotton production is even more devastating with no cotton being grown in Bourke this season, down from 4000 hectares the year before. “Further upstream at Dirranbandi (home of Cubbie Cotton), just 300 hectares of cotton has been planted, which is 1pc of what can be planted in a very good season. “Cotton Australia is very proud of our industry that produces a quality fibre that is in demand both here at home and around the world, but as an industry we are tired of being the whipping boy for all the problems that are being brought on by this crippling drought. “About 18 months ago, 2000 gigalitres of water was in the Menindee Lakes before the Murray-Darling Basin Authority took the deliberate decision to accelerate releases from Menindee to meet downstream requirements and reduce overall evaporation losses from the lakes. “In hindsight, this was probably a poor decision, but it does highlight the incredibly difficult task of managing flows in a manner that minimise losses, but ensures enough water is available for communities and the environment during extended severe droughts. “Since July 1, 2017, irrigators have extracted just 16 gigalitres out of the Barwon-Darling – an amount that would have evaporated out of Menindee in just 16 days. “Coupled with the extensive drought and the simple fact there has been little to no rain, the release of water from the lakes has exacerbated the conditions leading to these fish deaths,” said Mr Murray. “What this issue highlights is how difficult the management of the Menindee Lakes is.” You can now receive updates straight to your inbox from the Daily Liberal. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, sign up to our free or subscriber only newsletters below:

NSW Irrigators Council chief executive Luke Simpkins and Cotton Australia general manager Michael Murray have both defended their respective organisations water use, while lamenting the fact such a disaster occurred.

Both blamed drought for the fish kill.

“What has happened is as a result of the drought and no water flowing into the rivers. This drought is a devastating time for all of us. This is not about diversions, but about inflows,” said Mr Simpkins.

“Without inflows, blue-green algae events will continue to kill fish. This was predicted in December in an ABC report and algal blooms have killed fish before,” he said.

“It should be remembered that irrigation farmers on the Upper Darling have not been allocated any water from the system for 18 months because of the drought.”

He said general security allocations (meaning the percentage of a water licence farmers are able to use) have been at zero per cent in both the Gwydir and Lower Namoi valleys.

“The water simply isnt there for anyone.

“As we approach the state election in March and the federal election in May, it is understandable that MPs seeking re-election and candidates seeking election will want to raise their profiles by allocating blame.

“Ultimately it is their credibility that will evaporate when they seek to deny the existence of the drought and the lack of rainfall/inflows,” said Mr Simpkins.

Cotton Australia general manager Michael Murray said cotton growers should not be blamed for this weeks fish kill, nor those last month.

“New South Wales is in the grip of a long and devastating drought. This drought is impacting all agricultural sectors, including the cotton industry where this seasons crop is forecast to be at least half of last seasons,” he said..

“On the Barwon-Darling, the impact on cotton production is even more devastating with no cotton being grown in Bourke this season, down from 4000 hectares the year before.

“Further upstream at Dirranbandi (home of Cubbie Cotton), just 300 hectares of cotton has been planted, which is 1pc of what can be planted in a very good season.

“Cotton Australia is very proud of our industry that produces a quality fibre that is in demand both here at home and around the world, but as an industry we are tired of being the whipping boy for all the problems that are being brought on by this crippling drought.

“About 18 months ago, 2000 gigalitres of water was in the Menindee Lakes before the Murray-Darling Basin Authority took the deliberate decision to accelerate releases from Menindee to meet downstream requirements and reduce overall evaporation losses from the lakes.

“In hindsight, this was probably a poor decision, but it does highlight the incredibly difficult task of managing flows in a manner that minimise losses, but ensures enough water is available for communities and the environment during extended severe droughts.

“Since July 1, 2017, irrigators have extracted just 16 gigalitres out of the Barwon-Darling – an amount that would have evaporated out of Menindee in just 16 days.

“Coupled with the extensive drought and the simple fact there has been little to no rain, the release of water from the lakes has exacerbated the conditions leading to these fish deaths,” said Mr Murray.

“What this issue highlights is how difficult the management of the Menindee Lakes is.”

Would you like more Dubbo and regional news?

You can now receive updates straight to your inbox from the Daily Liberal. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, sign up to our free or subscriber only newsletters below:

This story Cotton Australia, irrigators hit back at criticism over fish kill first appeared on Daily Liberal.

Continue Reading

Australia

Marise Payne declines to put timeframe on Rahaf Alqunun’s asylum claim

Marise Payne has declined to put a timeframe on how soon Australian authorities will be able to reach a decision on whether to offer asylum to Saudi teenager Rahaf Alqunun.

Key points:

The Foreign Minister said Australia was accessing Rahaf Alqunun's claim for asylum
Ms Payne said there were “a number of steps” still to be taken in the assessment process
She said she had also spoken to Thai government officials about the detention of Hakeem AlAraibi

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, who was speaking in Thailand after talks with Thai Government officials, said Australia was engaged in the process of assessing Ms Alqunun's claim for asylum.

But she stopped short of saying how long the claim would take to be processed.

“There are, as I have just said, a number of steps in the process, including in terms of that assessment,” Ms Payne said.

“They are required to be taken and they will be completed within due course and then that matter will be resolved.”

The Department o..

Marise Payne has declined to put a timeframe on how soon Australian authorities will be able to reach a decision on whether to offer asylum to Saudi teenager Rahaf Alqunun.

Key points:

  • The Foreign Minister said Australia was accessing Rahaf Alqunun's claim for asylum
  • Ms Payne said there were "a number of steps" still to be taken in the assessment process
  • She said she had also spoken to Thai government officials about the detention of Hakeem AlAraibi

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, who was speaking in Thailand after talks with Thai Government officials, said Australia was engaged in the process of assessing Ms Alqunun's claim for asylum.

But she stopped short of saying how long the claim would take to be processed.

"There are, as I have just said, a number of steps in the process, including in terms of that assessment," Ms Payne said.

"They are required to be taken and they will be completed within due course and then that matter will be resolved."

The Department of Home Affairs confirmed on Wednesday that the United Nations refugee agency had referred Ms Alqunun's case to Australia for consideration.

Ms Alqunun's asylum application was fast-tracked, partly because of security concerns, after the young woman's father and brother arrived in Bangkok and asked Thai police to see her.

Ms Alqunun, 18, flew into Thailand from Kuwait on the weekend, saying she had a ticket onwards to Australia where she had hoped to seek asylum over fears her family would kill her for renouncing Islam.

But when she arrived in Bangkok she said a Saudi diplomat met her at the airport and tricked her into handing over her passport and ticket, saying he would secure a visa.

The teenager then barricaded herself inside her room at an airport hotel, and requested to speak to the United Nations refugee office.

Ms Payne said she had also spoken to Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister about the detention of Hakeen AlAraibi, and his possible return to Bahrain.

She said Mr AlAraibi had been visited by officials from the Australian embassy on a number of occasions and the Australian Government was engaging with his legal team.

"We are, as I've said, very concerned about his detention, very concerned about any potential for return of Mr Araibi to Bahrain," she said.

"I have reiterated those concerns to both ministers."

Original Article

Continue Reading

Trending