Oct 03

Today’s adventure is at the end of a very potholey road, somewhere between Mallacoota and the edge of the world. You can either walk to Shipwreck Creek along the foreshore or drive around the long way on an 8km stretch of sandy road that has potholes that I’m sure lead all the way to the other side of the world. However, the day is lovely, it’s bright and sunny, in the mid 20s and simply glorious!

Michael navigates our little blue car between the holes, although at times I’m sure he’s driving towards them rather than around them, still, we arrive at the day area of the Shipcreek Creek camping ground in once piece with both axles still attached to a wheel at each end.

Click to see more detail

Our destination is Seal Creek, and it’s only 3km away.

The first part of the walk takes us from the camping ground down to the beach and then back into the bush. It’s mostly tea tree, fairly dense and little sunlight hitting the ground. It’s not too long before we exit the scrubby bush and find ourselves in a heathland. This low-level bush allows us to see to the sea. The other thing it allows is the blooming of flowers.

In our modern era, I want all the flowers to be available to me right now. However, what I discover is that the flowers have a cycle that is only known to themselves. Some flowers are still budding, waiting for the perfect time to bloom, others have already had their time in the sun and are now browning petals dangling uncomfortably from stems.

I was hoping for much more colour, the 500 shades of blue, red, yellow and pink isn’t quite enough!

It’s true that we don’t see huge flowers, there are no dahlias, roses or tulips here to tiptoe through. Just delicate little things bursting with colour. We really have to slow down. Our normal quick pace becomes less than a stroll. Every few steps I stop, squint at a flower, bend at the hips, adjust the multi-focals to get a better view. If it’s something I haven’t seen before, I’ll point it out to Michael, we’ll muse for a minute together, I’ll move on few steps and Michael will stop to take some photos.

It’s a lovely walk in the late afternoon sun. There’s a little breeze and sometimes the faint calls of birds. The heathland continues to astound us as we get in good and close to the flowers. When we inspect the photos afterwards we often see a little spider or insect sitting on it.

We again walk into open woodland for awhile before out again on the heathland. The final part of our walk takes us again through the woods and down towards Seal Creek. This final bit is quite steep. We can see the creek in front of us, and it’s a tanninn colour water. The creek is blocked from entering the ocean, so it pools into a smallish lake.

We stop for a bit and watch a few birds fly around. Eat some food, drink a little water.

It’s now 5.45pm. It’s taken quite awhile to walk the 3k to get here. However, if we leave now, don’t dilly-dally too much, we should be back at the car just before night-fall.

Off we head! Up the steep incline and back on to the open heathland. But now it’s all changed. Whereas before we had bright sunshine, now we have dusk. The sun has dipped below a ridge to our west and given us a wonderful soft light. Michael is delighted as he snaps photos in this perfect light. He plays with his camera’s settings and gets some good shots.

The final part of the walk is almost in the dark. The tea trees kept the direct sunlight out earlier, now they bring an early night time. I find myself tripping on roots and rocks.

We get to the car and start the drive back home. It’s easier to drive on the pothole road now, as we can clearly see the shadows of the holes and avoid them.

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Oct 02

Genoa Falls is just off the highway. You might have a bit of trouble finding the little turnoff. It’s not really signposted at all.

At the end of a little sandy dirt road, a car park surrounded by pine barriers is a sign that declares you’ve found your way to the Genoa Falls.

Michael has arrived

A little walk along the path, through some scrub, and soon you can hear the sound of rushing water. Then the bush breaks away to reveal a large expanse of rock. A little stream of water tumbles over the rock as it makes its way through the area and on to the ocean.

Mostly rocks

We wander around. Apart from the running water, there is very little noise here. No birds, no traffic noise, no wind. Still and quiet.

We spread ourselves out and have afternoon tea, enjoying the warmth of the late afternoon sun while eating fruit and admiring the trees and clear sky.

We can hear a frog somewhere close by, it’s elusive, despite our efforts to train our ears to its location. As we make noise when we move around the frog stops.

I begin a systematic process of listening carefully and when I hear it croak, I move towards the noise and wait for it to start again.

It takes awhile, but I find a soggy patch of grass with a little puddle of water attached wedged between a crevice in the rocks. Here I think is my frog. I stand over it and am rewarded with the sound of croaking. I zero in, but alas, while I know I have the right spot, I can’t see it.

I move around the soggy patch and lower myself to the ground, laying on the rocks. I’ve now excluded all other background noises. The little rock ledge in front of me acts as a buffer. I’m hoping that I might actually see my little amphibian friend. I find all the local ants, and a strange cone-like insect moving down the stalk of grass, but no frog. When it finds its voice again, I am so close, and it such a local echo chamber that the noise becomes overwhelming as its croaking reverberates off the rocks and directly into my ears. I want to pull away it seems so loud, but I stay put to enjoy the sounds as it reaches its crescendo and then dies away for a moment, only to start all over again.

After a few minutes, the frog goes silent and I move on. I jump over the little running stream and onto a sandy bush track. I can hear more running water and head towards it, the low bushes give way to a large pool of water that is being fed by the little stream tumbling over the rocks. Years of erosion have the pool sitting in a perfect rock depression. The water is dark and cool. The bottom is covered with fallen leaves, branches and silt. It looks inviting enough to swim in with its little waterfall feeding it at one end and then pouring out the other. The rock pool is surrounded on one side by large boulders, and those boulders have perfectly round holes that again are the result of erosion, as the water spins small rocks around, they drill into the softer rocks, causing perfectly smooth holes that fill with water.

I follow the stream up stream and find myself on the same rock face that I left from. Michael is there taking photos. As I sit and watch him I see a faint movement off in the distance. At first I’m not sure what it is, but I think I can see a log that wasn’t there before. I lift my binoculars and train them towards the new log, only to discover that it has four legs and a tail and is busily looking at me!

Esmeralda! Our East Gippsland Water-Dragon. She’s one of the main reasons for our visit. She sits very still as I watch her and then signal to Michael, who points his camera at her and starts snapping. Michael slowly moves towards Esmeralda, who clearly isn’t too worried. She plods around in her own time, laying flat at times on the warm rocks in the last of the direct sunlight. Every now and then, she would lift her head and do a nodding motion. She jumps off behind some rocks and disappears.

Our final delight for the day is some small orchids. Michael notices them growing from a small rock shelf. We spend some time admiring them before the failing light and an increasing chill in the air sends us home.

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Sep 26

Put me on the top of a mountain and happiness happens by default.

Setting: Happiness (Default)
It looms!

The old days of leaping a mountain in a single day seems like such a distant memory. As does climbing Mt. Imlay, the first time was in 2011. I remember the dirt road, the logged forest and this huge mountain in front of me. Mountains like this are said to loom. And here it is, a looming mountain. Begging to be climbed. As looming mountains are want to do.

Any notion that you simply lob up to a looming mountain to loom it is foolhardy, to say the least. However, that didn’t stop Michael and me, for lobbed we did. We quickly stopped the car, got out, applied our sunscreen, went to the toilet, read the information board, prepared our backpacks, changed our socks, put on our hiking boots, adjusted our hats and left. This sort of lobbing takes proper preparation.

The day was glorious. The sun was out and bright, which isn’t surprising as it was daytime, just before lunch, so therefore morning. There was a distinct lack of clouds, and this helps for a bright day and the sun being out. It was coolish, but not cold.

Legs not quite fallen off yet

The first part of the walk is steep, as it the second part and the third part. In between the steep bits, it’s steep, but a little less steep. Still, when it’s steep your legs scream at you. When it’s a little less steep, your legs make you stop.

So, with my screaming legs, we made our way upwards, go down for a little bit, and then the final stretch to the top. My heart beats to match the upwards and down movement of my legs. In those days of yore, I knew when my heartbeat was at maximum because my teeth would start to rattle in my head. These days I have an app.

Last time we hiked this at the start of September, this time, we’re at the other end of the month. We have wanted to return over all these years to see more flowers! In particular, we wanted to see the Mount Imlay Boronia (Boronia imlayensis). First however, to the top!

It took us 1 hour and 57 minutes and 14 seconds to get there, I have an app. Luckily the last bit of the upward is pretty flat, but steep. We sat on the ground in a sort of collapsed fashion, like a drying bean bag that has been unpegged from the clothesline.

After we recovered enough we chewed on some food and then looked around the site, admired the view, took a selfie, posted to social media, made a phone call, transferred money from my account to someone else’s and drank some water.

Then, the easy bit, we started down. It is also steep but in the other direction. Luckily we are more interested in taking photos of wonderful things. This means that the down trip takes 2 hours, 40 minutes and 10 seconds. If you’re astute, and I’m sure you are, then you will notice that it takes us 43 minutes longer to descend. That’s pretty amazing, as the declination is enough that you could probably slide all the way down in half the time.

And this is why we are here. The amazing and wonderfully delightful Mount Imlay Boronia. This rare plant only grows on this mountain in an area of about 500 meters x 50 meters. It’s clear that it wants to make the most of the space, everywhere we turn is another blossom.

Once we drop off the top, that would be about 50 meters, the boronias disappear and we are back into the rough rocky ground. Everywhere around me life abounds. The silver ashes gracefully reach upwards, the grass trees sway in the gentle breeze and the flowers just look gorgeous.

Leaves turning

The balance to the lovely whites, yellows and pink of the flowers, the balance to the thousands of shades of green, are the shades of decay. The newly fallen leaves that turn from dark green to a pastel shade before going brown. The bright silver trunks of the gum trees that shed and turns grey and breaks down into a non-descript colour that sits on the forest floor. The bright red leaves that darken and turn to black. All breaks down into a rich black soil that helps the colours grow all over again.

Even though the mountain will be here long here after all of us, it’s not immune to change. The very rocks themselves have to contend with lichen that will leech them to soil. Bit by bit the rocks break down into stones, I know this because I put my feet on them and they slip, causing me to throw my arms out like Jesus on a Friday. The leaves and the bark work with the stones to create a path that is laden with trip hazards and a quick way down, if not to the bottom of the mountain, at least to the bottom of your spine.

That said, you can’t stand or sit, on this looming mountain and not be taken by the whole package. The wind, the sounds, the colours. The smells, the taste on the air, from the smallest noise to the largest rock, every single part of the mountain comes together to deliver an experience that makes me want to come back for more.

Mt Imlay has every reason to loom.

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Sep 08

The Australian Dream written by Stan Grant

It wouldn’t be right to say that I don’t like football. It wouldn’t be right to say that I do like football either. I don’t go out of my way to watch it or participate in it. I don’t have a passing interest in it or really care in the slightest about it. I accept it as part of the culture in Victoria.

Mind you, I don’t really follow any sport, so I’m not singling football out.

When you live in Victoria, it’s pretty hard to escape football. I mostly manage. Apart from those family dinners on a Friday night where the telly comes on after the meal and those of us interested sit around it watching, the rest of us sit at the table and continue our much more interesting chit-chat.

When Michael suggested to me that I might like to go and watch a movie about Adam Goodes, who until recently was guilty of being a football player, I thought perhaps my husband had begun his descent into madness.

Now, I know of Goodes. He was after all an Australian of the Year, even though he was a football player. He been the subject of much media coverage over his stance on racism in Australia football.

I guess he’s an OK bloke, even though he used to play football.

So, anyway, on a cold Melbourne Saturday afternoon, the sort that’s usually reserved for die-hard Richmond fans to go to watch their team play in the mud at Windy Hill, I found myself sitting in a cinema watching strapping young men kick a football around.

The story that unfolded before me was so gut-wrenchingly powerful that at times I had tears rolling down my face.

Here is the story of a man who clearly loves his footy and found himself at the top of the game. He then left it when the focus of others was on the colour of his skin, instead of his ability to kick a football.

Adam Goodes is an Indigenous Australian. During his time on the footy field, he was recognised as a player of note. Played in grandfinals, got medals, you know, the sort of things that mark you as an elite sports person. At the same time, he became a controverisal figure when he refused to accept the casual racism that was being hurled around. As Stan Grant says in the Australian Dream, he was a loud angry aboriginal, nobody likes that. The footy crowd would take to booing Goodes every time he got the ball. This ultimately led to him leaving his much loved game.

Let this sink in. At a football match with tens of thousands of fans, a whole bunch of them boo every time you touch the ball.

I do recall most of this, as it happened. Only because it crosses from football into society. Goodes becomes a topic of conversation outside of football. News bulletins lead with it, newspapers gave it front page, social media lit up. People like me couldn’t miss it.

What I did miss however was the nuance of the story. For this I had to see the movie. It was pretty clear, pretty quickly, that this story wasn’t so much about football. It is about the very essence of racism in Australia.

I don’t think I’m a racist. But how would I know?

I can pick a homophobe for you, because I know what it’s like to hear the casual homophobia in day to day comments. Take this little example from today, as I was trying to write this blog I saw this tweet:

Still not sure? What is a manly hug? Why does he need to give it to another man? Why didn’t he give him a womanly hug? A gay hug? An affectionate hug?

Adams is 80 years old. In his time, you probably didn’t hug men at all, in case it’s seen as gay. If you do have to hug another man, for example, because their wife just died, that’s ok. But you better give them a manly hug. In case people think you’re gay.

Is Adams a homophobe? I have no idea, I’d be surprised, based on his politics. Is this an example of casual homophobia? Yes, I think it is. It’s the sort of language that isn’t needed and seeks to establish himself as a man that doesn’t want to be perceived as gay. As if there’s something wrong with being gay. Of course, if you’ve never been at the end of homophobic language, this would roll off you and you’d find yourself booing me every time I touched the ball.

Have I ever been guilty of casual racism? You bet. Lots of times. At times I’ve been an all out racist. For this I’m sorry, and for all the times I’ll be a racist into the future I hope that someone is there to call it out.

Australian Dream not only tells the story of Goodes, it tackles an issue that so few of us what to hear about. The ingrained racism that is in every part of white Australia. None of us want that racist label, and yet we are so unaccustomed to listening to the voices of those that are impacted by our words. We dismiss their feelings and responses rather than listen to them.

Evidence shows that a young aboriginal person is more likely to kill themselves than their white counterpart. We lock up aboriginal people at a much higher rate than any other group of people. We still won’t let them be acknowledged in the constitution.

Australian Dream looks at racism from the eyes of those being discriminated against.

You need to see it.

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Jul 24

On a bright sunny cloudless day you expect to see your shadow. Just the one. It’s attached to you. We used to play shadow tiggy. If you’re it then you had to tag someone else by jumping on their shadow. It’s easy to twist and bend your shadow to avoid being it.

At night you don’t have a shadow. Sometimes you may see one on a full moon if you happen to be late on a hike and you really want to get to the camping ground. You and your hiking buddy find yourselves strutting down a white sandy bush track with the moon behind you and a long shadow in front of you.

I live in the city, and when I walk home at night, I have lots of shadows. Tonight I noticed my shadows for the first time in years. Street lights line our streets, on main roads there’s lights on both sides. I have a shadow in front, one behind. As I walk the light behind me throws my shadow in front of me, as I walk further away from that light I get taller, well, the shadow does. It’s not long before I’m passing under the next street light and my shadow begins to grow again, the first one so long it stretches out of existence as it fades away.

The lights on the other side of the street cast a shadow to my right. These shadows also grow and shrink, and as I walk past fences and driveways they leap up or fall away.

As the traffic passes me multiple faint shadows quickly appear and disappear, so fleeting they’re barely noticed.

When I was a young lad, 45 years ago, I delivered newspapers in the morning. The Age and The Sun. I’d ride my bike around in the cold dark hours pulling a paper out of the banana box strapped to the carrier on the back of my bike. One handed I would fold the paper on my thigh, holding the handlebar with the other hand. I’d grab the paper in the middle, thump it on my leg to fold, then do the same to fold it once more. I was then able to insert the paper into the letter box and keep riding, so never really stopping. Of course there was no real care and often the front page would be torn when I scraped it on the top of the letter box.

There would be a little distance sometimes between the deliveries, and a game I would play was to get to the next letter box before my shadow disappeared. As the morning was dawning, and it was getting lighter, the street lights would switch off and the shadow would disappear.

It was that strange time pre-dawn when the lights have gone off that I would have no shadow.

That’s a magical time.

Image by Manfred Richter from Pixabay

Jul 23

The alarm goes off at 5.10a.m. In my early days, it was an alarm clock with bells. Then a clock radio with a buzzer or the radio. Now my alarm is a watch, strapped to my wrist that vibrates. I hit the off button. There’s no snooze. I lay there for a couple of minutes trying to go back to sleep. I can’t. I have to do this.

I throw my legs out from under the doona. I say throw, not glide effortlessly out of bed. My legs are stiff and not so cooperative. The hit the floor and I feel around in the dark for my grandpa slippers.

I have to run, I want to do a 5km run in a couple of weeks for a charity event. I’m out of shape as I tore my calf muscle a few weeks ago and have been getting treatment to help it recover.

David Thwaites from Complete Sports Care has been taking care of me. My time with him normally starts by me standing one-legged on my toes raising myself up and down, he muses and then asks me to lie on the table. He then does this extraordinary process of taking his thumb and sticking them deeply into my calf. I grimace. A lot.

It does the trick, the exercises that he sends me off with and the little jogging that I’ve been doing has prepared me for this mornings effort.

Today, for the first time in weeks, I’m going to run 30 minutes. I’ll jog 10 minutes, rest a minute and then repeat twice more.

It’s 9° outside. I step into the cool darkness and make my way to the running track.

Unlike this time at the other end of the day, when I’m consumed with the noise of a city winding down, it’s quiet.

I can hear my footfalls as I step onto the driveway, and as I walk towards the little track that runs along the creek, I can hear the magpies stirring in the trees, giving a little warble as they begin their day.

A quick-paced walk and the watch vibrates and I start the run.

The wind whistles past my ears, in the old days it’d ruffle my mullet. The next family of magpies begin to stir and I’m surrounded by the delightful sounds of warbles.

As I pass the little pond a thousand frogs ribbit at me and the first traffic noise I hear happens as I pass under the Warrigal Road bridge.

I do a self-diagnosis. The calf muscle is holding up. Heart isn’t jumping out of my chest, breathing within tolerance. A few more minutes and the first 10 are done. The watch vibrates and I walk for a minute.

As I’m walking along the path, a couple of cars pass along the back streets. The headlights glare at me and for all I know they’re driven by ghosts, it’s impossible to see inside to ascertain whether or not a real person is behind the wheel.

Then off again. Up the hill to the Alamein line, then at the top, I turn around and head back the way I came. I’ve made it halfway.

More vibrations, another check of my sore bits – all good – last jog.

Another light comes towards me. It’s dark out here, so joggers wear a head torch. We greet each other in the traditional way of pre-dawn joggers, a nod of the head and a ‘morn’ to each other.

I find myself tiring, looking at my watch, hoping it’s counting down. It is, but it persists on precision and won’t go faster than a second at a time.

One last look I think, 26 seconds. I start to count down in my head.

Finally, the last vibration. I stop and stroll home.

The sky is brightening, or it could be the city lights reflected on the clouds. I don’t know. It’s another hour until the sun actually appears.

Michael and I are running in support of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in a couple of weeks. That’s where I work. We’re raising money for the important work of helping people seeking asylum. Head over to our page and sling us a few dollars.

I make my way up the driveway, thinking that I’ll be ready for Run Melbourne in a couple of weeks.

All the way this morning, I’ve been accompanied by my own footfalls. A wonderful time of the day, the still and quiet. Nothing but my own steps fill my ears.

Jul 15

I used to be able to hear my footsteps when I walked. Now, as I step off the train I can hear the churnning of its motors and the beep-beep of the doors closing. Lots of whooshing as it pulls out of the station to the next stop.

I whip out my phone to check when the next bus is. Sixteen minutes. It’s only a twenty minute walk home, so I’ll do that.

As I start up High Street I become aware of the noise around me. It’s busy peak hour and I spend my walk listening to the sounds around me. The noise of the traffic is overwhelming. Squeaky brakes, noisy engines, motorbikes, truck, buses. All in a hurry to get home.

What a noisy environment we now live in.

I can’t hear the birds settling down for the night, or the kids talking across the road. No low hum of music coming from the houses or even the dribbling of a basketball. Just traffic.

I turn off the High Street and into the quiet little avenue that will take me home. The traffic noise fades into the background. A couple of cars drive past, a lot quieter now on the suburban street.

I hear the faint sound of shouting and the clack of hockey sticks as it hits the ball. As I walk closer to the hockey field and away from the main road the noise becomes more background. I hear the scuffing of shoes as a woman walks past with her dog, I notice that the sound of my own footfall is still inaudible, but the noise from the hockey fields now includes the blowing of whistles, the shuffling of feet and the sound of clapping.

Only a short walk up the driveway now. I hear my keys clink as I take them out of my pocket and a few metres from the door I hear my footsteps.

Sep 08

The white tablecloth starts pristine, covering and protecting the tabletop. The family gathers around it to drink and eat. Breadcrumbs spread around as the loaf is cut and they gently coached into little piles to be swept away.

Main course and the cloth endures a splash of water, a piece of chicken skin and a sneaky wipe of a greasy palm.

The family ebbs and flows as does the conversation, cryptocurrency, prime ministers, weather. They all ebb and flow around the table. The main course is done, and the table arises, some head off to the TV for the Friday night footy match, others to the kitchen to deal with the remnants of the meal, stragglers sit around as the table is cleared, glasses removed, plates and cutlery stacked and carried off the kitchen.

There’s a respectable time before the final course appears. The time between sittings is not something that can be solved with a mathematical formula. It must wait until the newspapers have been flicked through, mobile phones have been checked and new apps downloaded. The kettle boils, coffee is brewed, tea-bags are dangled, and a fruitcake, a crumble and choc chip biscuits appear. Nobody needs to be called; the family knows that the magic sweet spot of dessert has arrived. As the crumble is put into bowls and passed around, milk and sugar added to the hot drinks a packet of Tim Tams appear on the table.

There’s only five left. Tim Tams come in a packet of 11, not 12, not 10. 11. The outer packaging is stripped and the five tempting biscuits sit on one end of the inner hull. Tempting those around the table.

The final ritual of the evening begins. Light-hearted chat while eating the sweet treats.

Then there’s one left.

The lone Tim Tam has the gaze of the table. Silence as all eyes are upon it. Who will break the convention and eat it?

Then the question and the offers.
“Are you going to eat it?”
“You have the last one.”
“That has your name on it.”

The final call is the forlorn question, “What’s so important about that Tim Tam?”

Then like a cold, soggy tea-bag the Tim Tam is forgotten.

The table breaks, everything is whisked away. Good nights are said, kisses exchanged. Lights dimmed.

All that’s left is a few crumbs, a couple of spills and the lone Tim Tam on the white tablecloth.

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Aug 31

There is no doubt in my mind that bullies and people who intimidate abound in Australia. It would seem that this is the case in the Australian parliament where Julia Banks, my local member resigned with these stinging words:

They know that I will always call out bad behaviour and will not tolerate any form of bullying or intimidation. I have experienced this both from within my own party and from the Labor Party.

The scourge of cultural and gender bias, bullying and intimidation continues against women in politics, the media, and across businesses. In anticipating my critics saying I’m “playing the gender card” – I say this. Women have suffered in silence for too long and in this last twelve months the world has seen many courageous women speak out.

Here we are presented with a worldview from Julia that clearly says she is a victim of bullying and intimidation in her job. She goes on to say that there is still a cultural and gender bias with politics.

She says that women have suffered in silence way too long.

Support has been plentiful for her position. Kelly O’Dwyer, Sarah Hanson Young among them.

However, others continue to down-play the behaviour. Something that I’ve seen many times. When those of us in the GLBTIQ community say that we are subjected to bullying and intimidation the response from some quarters is to downplay it and tell us that we’re not that badly off, that we need to toughen up.

The missing value here is those that deny the situation haven’t taken proper stock. If someone says that they’re the subject of a bully, then we need to listen to them.

Craig Kelly MP missed the mark when he said her resignation is the wrong thing to do and that she should “roll with the punches in this game”.

Roll with the punches? Such a violent, graphic image. Why should the game require punches at all? After all, this isn’t a game; it’s real life. This is her real job. I’d suggest that approaches like Kelly’s are the issue. Rather than check his behaviour, he tells her she’s wrong and to toughen up.

The Guardian in their article says this:

Former Liberal minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and the president of the federal women’s committee, Helen Kroger, both said on Thursday that claims should be properly investigated. But Kroger said she didn’t believe there was a bullying culture and Fierravanti-Wells appeared to blame Malcolm Turnbull.

There should be no ‘but’. The conversation needed to stop at ‘properly investigated’.

For Helen Kroger to suggest that there isn’t a culture of bullying is to turn a blind eye to the issues. Craig Kelly more or less acknowledges the problem, Helen Kroger ignores it. That’s her way of dealing with it. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells won’t admit it as a problem, and if it is would instead point at someone else and say ‘look over there’.

We have seen outright lying, sexism, misogyny and now bullying and intimidation.

This is no way to run a country. It’s not good enough to ‘investigate’. If our newly and temporary Prime Minister had any sense, he’d launch a special envoy for bullying and intimidation prevention, throw some money at it, set appropriate standards and change the constitution to allow the dismissal of any MP that breaches the standards.

Because that’s what would happen to anyone else who behaved in a deplorable way.

To bully or intimidate anyone is unacceptable.

 

Aug 30

My first bank account was with the State Bank of Victoria. I opened it when I was in Prep in 1969.  Here it is, in Gray Street, Hamilton.  On the right of the photo.

The SBV was bought by the Commonwealth Bank in 1990.

Today I walked into the Commonwealth Bank in Cheltenham and closed 2 accounts, thereby ending my long association with the bank.

The branch is your modern looking bank.  All gleaming and welcoming.  There’s a little foyer where the ATMs are and a concierge desk with two computer screens and a smiling face of a very nice man asking if he could help me.  Above him is the current bank promotion, the Dollarmites Club.  I signed my kids up for Dollarmites when they were in school.  It was how I was introduced to banking, taking my passbook along to school on banking day and depositing 20 cents.  Some at the Commonwealth Bank used the Dollarmites system to gain personal financial advantage.

The staff were very helpful, the process took longer than necessary I thought. The nice man asked me what I was going to do with my mortgage, I snorted and said I didn’t have one!

Anyway, he asked where I was moving my banking. Bank Australia I said. He then told me that he has only ever seen one branch for them, and he’s lucky to have seen one. Bank Australia has few branches, they use online and Australia Post. In fact, this was the first time in some years that I’d actually walked into a branch to conduct business.

At the end of the process, he looked at his screen and looked at me and remarked that I’d been with the bank for 33 years. Longer, I replied, I was also with the State Bank. He then asked the burning question, “Why are you leaving after all this time?”

The reasons are complex, and for some strange brain functioning on my part, it really is something that should have happened years ago.

Australians rarely change banks. Probably because it’s just too hard. It is quite the process. I needed to firstly open a new account at a new bank and then move each of my direct debits, automatic payments and various payment methods to the new bank.

My children and I all had Commonwealth Bank accounts, this was to allow the quick transfer of money. I’ve often said that the only time I hear from my children is when they want money.

These days with the introduction of PayID transferring money between banks happens within minutes. The old days, you know, a couple of months ago, saw your money disappear from your account and be caught up in some holding pattern before landing in another banks account.

The real clincher for me, however, was the banking royal commission.

This is what I told my new teller friend. I wanted a bank that had some ethical standards, who saw me as a member and not simply an account holder.

The Commonwealth Bank has been embroiled in scandal after scandal.  Each of the big banks has been.  They continue to reap the rewards of huge profits despite their proven fraudulent behaviour.

Bank Australia is the place to be for now.

In all my years at the Commonwealth, they have never given regard to my loyalty.  Without question, I fronted up to them for personal loans, a housing loan, credit cards, savings accounts and so on.  The most I ever got out of them was an unattractive interest rate and a computer mouse.

Yes, they once sent me a mouse for being a loyal customer.  Back in the 2000s.  I wrote to them and said I’d prefer money in the bank next time they wanted to reward my loyalty.  I never got a response.

So, the loyalty has been one way.  Action needed!  So, off I went.

What’s holding you back?

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