Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Hands of Time

My previous post motivated me to record the effects of time.

The photo below shows my hand print and that of my younger son. We created this record in leftover wet concrete in mid-2003. The hands sit, silent sentinels, in a far-flung corner of our sprawling estate. Adam was 6 years old at the time.

Now in his teens, he graciously tolerated my request to take a snap of the casts last weekend - in mid-2011 - just to illustrate the change:

Lying hidden in some other remote territory of our sprawling estate lies a similar, but older, record. That of my elder son's handprint.  I must mount an archaeological expedition soon to see if I can rediscover that little time capsule.  Indiana ... I have a job for you ...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

1980s - John Travolta and The Reels

Random recollections of the 1980s:

John Travolta had just passed this way when I breezed through Hollywood:

and The Reels came out with this rendition of some obscure (to me anyway) country & western song.  Dave Mason on vocals and Karen Ansel on keyboard (holding gun).  A fun vid to watch on account of it being so  ... well, amateur! Check out the droppings in the opening scenes ... really sets the tone LOL! An 80s classic.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Good Journalist Gone

Journalist Paul Lockyer was killed in a helicopter crash near Lake Eyre on Thursday 18 August 2011. Also killed in the crash were pilot Gary Ticehurst and cameraman John Bean.

Paul presented the excellent serial coverage on our televisions (on the ABC news) of the 2009-10 and 2010-11 floodings of Lake Eyre and surrounds.  With quality camerawork from John Bean, their coverage inspired awe in the viewer about the central Australian landscape and its climate.

Paul covered many international stories over his 40 year career and recently covered the devasting Grantham floods in Queensland (the so-called ''inland tsunami'') in early 2011.

In an industry burdened by cheap sensationalists, Paul Lockyer stood well above the pack in terms of the quality of his work, his choice of topics and his attention to the things that really mattered.

The trio's high regard across the community, especially that for Paul Lockyer, is reflected in the tributes to him following his passing, including that of Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Parliament.

A tragic loss.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Story of John Hornby – Part 2

A Tale of Sea and Rail Journeys

Perhaps John lost his job at the iron mine.  Or perhaps he was enticed by many tales of locals who had migrated to foreign shores and found a better life, income and/or sunnier climates.  Or perhaps his older brother, Thomas, had written home and assured him a job could be found.  You see - Thomas had migrated with his wife and son to Zeehan sometime during 1891 (I can't find precise details); he worked at the Montana mine as an engine driver. I can just imagine a letter going from Thomas to John and his brother Jos ... "Come on over lads - things are definitely better here than at home"!

In any event, in early 1892, John made his farewells – goodbye (for now) to Mary, Grace and little Meg.  Goodbye forever to his sisters, Mary and Hannah, and to his brothers still in Dalton –  William and Jos. Both John's parents had passed away; his mother, Grace, had died 8 years earlier and his father, Simon, had died 2 year earlier.
He made his way to London, where he boarded the S.S. Rimutaka, a 4,473 gross ton ship built in 1884. She was a clipper stemmed ship, one funnel, three masts (rigged for sail). The Rimutaka departed London at 3.10pm on 1 April 1892 on a 90 day voyage with 50 passengers, bound for Wellington, New Zealand, via Teneriffe, Cape Town and Hobart.

S.S. Rimutaka
The ship made good time and arrived in Hobart on Friday 13 May 1892. When John disembarked in Hobart, he still had a significant journey ahead – he had to get to Zeehan on the remote west coast of Tasmania. ‘The Mercury’ reported that, on Monday 16 May, the S.S. Banks Peninsula departed for Strahan (the nearest port to Zeehan).  John was, most probably, aboard that steamer. I wonder if Thomas greeted John in Hobart and escorted his younger brother to Zeehan?

Extract from The Mercury (Monday 16 May 1892)
The Banks Peninsula would have headed south, then westward, rounded the underside of Tasmania, then headed northward to Macquarie Harbour. Once she entered the harbour, the heavy ocean seas would have no longer troubled her and she would have steamed steadily into the port of Strahan. 
Click Banks Peninsula to view a photo of that steamer.

From Strahan, John had to catch a train.  Luckily, the railway station lay adjacent to the wharf.  The little train would have rattled its way out of Strahan, heading northward through the quiet, empty bushland to Zeehan. 

Strahan Wharf & Railway Station – looking north.
On his arrival at Zeehan, John found himself in Tasmania’s third largest town – a town of about 10,000 people that had been built quickly to service the silver/lead mines that had sprung up. A somewhat wild place, but surely comforting to John to know he had family here: his brother, sister-in-law and his nephew (young Thomas Crewdson Hornby).

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Song of the Day

About time!

Norah Jones has a great version of this song, but I can't find it online.  So Irma Thomas' version will just have to do. Enjoy:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Story of John Hornby - Part 1

I mentioned, in my very first post, my connection to the Hornby family.  Here is John's story (and that of Mary Bainbridge too).

Firstly, why am I writing about John Hornby?  Well, like Patrick McCarthy, he is another of my ancestors to migrate to Australia.  Unlike Patrick, who was one of the earliest Europeans to arrive in Tasmania, John Hornby arrived later - in 1893.

John was born in tiny locale in Westmorland, England (now called Cumbria). 'Meeclop' is the locale shown on the 1881 census, but I believe it was Meathop (there is no Meeclop). John's parents were living in the Meathop Huts at that time (near Meathop).  These were restored workers' huts left behind after the completion of the rail crossing across the sands from Arnside to the north shore of Morcombe Bay (the Kent Viaduct). John was the 6th of 8 children - his parents were Simon Bryham Hornby and Grace Hornby (nee Harrison).

Shorthly after John's birth, his family moved to a narrow, two-storey terrace house at 44 Broughton Road, Dalton-In-Furness, Lancashire. Here he was raised.

John worked in a local iron mine as a Stoker from an early age - the 1881 census shows him working at the age of 14. He would remain in the mining industry until retirement, many years later.
Dalton-in-Furness High StreetHigh Street, present-day, Dalton-In-Furness
Image via

Dalton-in-Furness was close to a number of iron mines that opened during the 1880's. The region prospered as the number of mines grew, jobs were created and output increased. In this setting of economic prosperity, John met his future bride - Mary Jane Bainbridge.  Mary was a girl from the Lakes District, born in a small village called Hawkshead, near Ambleside, Lancashire.  I don't know when, how or where they met, but they married in the Parish Church, Dalton-in-Furness, on the 27th of February 1888. Mary was 8 months pregnant on that day, as their first child (Grace) was born on the 29th of March 1888.

Dalton in Furness Methodist Church.Methodist Church, Dalton-In-Furness
Image via Wikipedia

John and Mary had two more children, a son (Joseph) in March 1889 and another son (Simon) in May 1890. Unfortunately, sad times befell the family. Baby Simon, no more than 6 months old, contracted diarrhoea and after four days died of exhaustion in October 1890.  Then, only two months later, young Joseph, only 21 months old, succumbed to bronchitis and convulsions (possibly Russian flu).  Only the eldest child, Grace, survived. The two young boys are buried at Cemetery Hill in Dalton-In-Furness.

By the early 1890s, production of iron ore decreased rapidly as the sources of ore depleted.  The mines produced less and less, men were laid off.  Unemployment soared.  Dalton-In-Furness offered little else in the way of work, as its only other real resources were agricultural. In June 1891, during these dark economic times, John and Mary had another child - Margaret (my grandmother). 

At the time of Margaret's birth, Dalton-In-Furness was steadily losing  population. Many residents, men and women without work, families,  migrated to the economic drawcards at that time, such as the diamond mines opening up in the Kimberley, South Africa (John's brother Jos (Joseph) moved there in 1894). At the same time, Zeehan, in Tasmania, was a booming mining town, following the discovery of a large deposit of lead and silver there. John's brother Thomas had already moved his family to Zeehan in about 1891.

What to Do?
In 1892, John and Mary made a big decision - John would travel to Tasmania, alone and see if he could secure long term employment.  If it failed, he would return, but if it worked out well, Mary and the two girls would travel to join him in Tasmania.
Above: John and Mary Hornby, with daughters Margaret (left) and Grace (right) ca. 1892. Dalton-In-Furness, England

Go to Part 2


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