Sunday, May 03, 2015

Kuranda range railway and tunnels:  Some reminiscences from an old-timer

The railway line up the mountains from Cairns in Far North Queensland to Kuranda at the top of the range was a considerable engineering feat in the early days.  Kuranda was something of a stamping ground for my family in the early 20th century so I like to record what I can about the history of the era.  A report of a life in those times has come my way that is fairly vivid so I reproduce it below. 

The language and attitudes of the old-timer  who wrote it remain as they were in his youth -- so that by itself is of some interest. I therefore leave it unaltered and unexpurgated. I did however tidy up the spelling, paragraphing and punctuation. As I myself am in my 8th decade, I can personally remember when such language was normal in those parts.  For reference, "boong" is an Australian slang term for an Aborigine and "murri" is a local term for a paricular Aboriginal group.  I remember "boori" also being used -- for the Kuranda Aborigines.  All three terms would appear to be versions of names used by Aborigines for themselves.

Without getting too inflated about it, I think the report below has some sociological as well as historical interest.  I should perhaps note that -- contrary to what Leftists undoubtedly imagine -- relationships between Aborigines and whites in those days were peaceful. Each group went their own way, with both being amused by the other.  I think that an amused rather than hostile attitude does come through in the report below.

There's a leisurely video of a trip on the railway line concerned here.  I have myself done that trip many times over the years

Great engineering feat this line.  They lost a lot of workers,  mainly to disease I believe. 

When I was going to high school and living at  Redlynch we used to climb up to No 9 Tunnel, I think it was, just near Stony Creek falls. I could be wrong.  We used to go up through the boong's camp near Kamerunga. 

There is an old gold mine up behind the old camp at Redlynch but I don't know if anyone got any gold out of it.  We went in to it a few times and it was full of bats and used to stink like a coon's jockstrap.   The type of quartz  rock in the mullock heaps around the mine looked like gold bearing stuff, not that I am an expert.

Heights never used to worry me but I have a morbid fear of high places nowadays which I think is a result of one of our treks up to No 9 tunnel.  We had to climb over a pretty sheer cliff, hand over hand, and for some reason I froze halfway across despite having climbed over it a number of times.   Lucky one of the high school kids I was with kept pushing me to keep moving or I might have fallen probably a good 100 feet.   Been shit scared of heights ever since.

There used to be a track up from the Southern side of Stony Creek Bridge to the top of the falls where they had made a cement type weir, probably done when the line was being built, it was a pretty good swimming spot.  

We used to walk across the bridge and some times had to run like shit to get off because we thought it was a train coming but nine times out of ten it was a rail gang  on what I if my memory serves me correctly was called a Fairmont Motor. [See here]

I remember we were trying to get a rail pump car on the line with the intention of riding it down the line to Redlynch from Stony Creek. Good thing we got caught before we could get it on the line or we could have killed ourselves or caused a derailment.  

I remember the bloke Edwards, the local ganger, was going to kick our arses if he caught us with in a bulls roar of any rail equipment.   We got the message because he would have carried it out had we been caught again.  

If there is gold up the back of Redlynch the murries will be in there claiming land rights.  It would not be the original tribe it would be half cast blow-ins.  Most of the blacks out there spent their time getting pissed, fighting among themselves and burning the caravans supplied to them by the Government of the day. 

That was a joke, they gave them new caravans to live in which they pulled to bits for wood for the fires and remained camped in their humpies.   The only thing that was left was the steel chassis because they couldn't burn them. I think the tyres went up as well.  

My mother and the women over the road used to watch a gin planting something in the cane field along Kamerunga road about a k from Redlynch and go up to the pub get on the piss and come back and pick up the package form the cane field hours later.  

Mum and old Etty Edwards from across the road decided to go up and check out what she was leaving in the cane paddock for most of the day and it turned out to be a baby.  

They called the police who came out and took the child away, how it survived I will never know.   If they took the child nowadays all hell would break loose:  The good old days before politically correct bullshit came along.

‘We should allow them to express their anti-Semitism’: University of Sydney staff

Hitler's heirs are with us at the University of Sydney.  History has no lessons for Leftists

UNIVERSITY of Sydney staff have argued for ISIS supporters, including controversial Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, to be given a platform on campus “to express their anti-Semitism” in the name of free speech.

The comments came in a heated email exchange between arts staff, who were responding to an open letter sent by academics Stuart Rees, Nick Riemer and David Brophy.

The trio were calling on the university to drop all charges against staff and students arising from a pro-Palestinian protest last month, when a group from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement disrupted a talk by former British colonel Richard Kemp.

Professor Jake Lynch, who remonstrated with security guards when they tried to remove the students, was accused of anti-Semitism for allegedly waving money in an elderly woman’s face.

He was cleared by the university of charges of anti-Semitism following an internal investigation, although he and 12 other protesters, including the five students, still face potential disciplinary action.

In an open letter titled ‘Serious threat to intellectual freedom and civil liberties on campus’, the group reiterated the BDS movement’s opposition to a ban last year on Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Uthman Badar, who was invited by the Muslim Students’ Association to speak at a campus Q&A on September 11.

“Perhaps, if the university was less selective in the speakers it offers platforms, there’d be less motivation for protests like the one at the Kemp lecture,” Professor Riemer wrote.

A number of staff objected to Professor Riemer drawing equivalence between Hizb ut-Tahrir and the speech by Colonel Kemp, who was speaking on the ethics of tactics in counterinsurgency operations.

Associate Professor Bronwyn Winter, taking issue with Professor Riemer’s email, wrote: “Just in case people didn’t know, Uthman Badar is a spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is an explicitly political movement the goal of which is to reinstall a caliphate and to do so worldwide. I won’t get stated on the group’s attitudes to women.

“This is part of the Islamist extreme-right, it is to the Muslim world what Nazism was to Europe in the 1930s and 1940s and indeed still is. To organise a speaker from this group on the anniversary of 9/11 is at the very least in extremely poor taste and at worst highly offensive to many.”

Professor Winter said while she didn’t support Kemp’s views, “although he is right wing he is nowhere near in the same league as the people to whom Riemer et al appear to be giving at least tacit support”.

In reply, Professor Riemer wrote: “Bronwyn, your statement that Badar crosses a line much more clearly than Kemp simply reflects one possible evaluation of the difference between them.”

Dr Wendy Lambourne from Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies also disagreed with the stance. “Sorry Nick, but free speech should not include hate speech and incitement to violence,” she wrote. “That is the distinction and yes, it’s not always clear-cut, but I agree with Bronwyn that the line has to be drawn somewhere. Unfettered free speech is dangerous.”

Asked if an IS supporter should be allowed to “express their anti-Semitism” and give a lecture about why the west is wrong and they are right, lecturer and fellow BDS supporter Yarran Hominh wrote: “I would say yes, we should ‘allow’ them to express their anti-Semitism — within bounds, of course.”

But he added that the question “reveals a deeper issue, which is namely why Richard Kemp was invited in the first place”. “Inviting such a speaker, as would inviting an anti-Semitic IS supporter to speak, seems to me to invite polarisation of the sort that is to my mind not conducive to a proper discussion of the issues,” he said.

A number of other staff spoke out against the BDS supporters, including Dr Gil Merom from the School of Social & Political Sciences, Dr Lionel Babicz from the Department of Japanese Studies and Professor Wojciech Sadurski from the School of Law.

“This global movement [Hizb ut-Tahrir] and its local chapter support the ‘freedom’ of Australians to join fighting in Syria (ISIL included), underage girl-marriage (to adults), and Jihad against Jews. The local chapter also complains about the vilification of ISIL,” Dr Merom wrote.

“Who else in Arts thinks that we should ‘allow’ ‘anti-Semitic IS supporters’ (or for that matter misogyny peddlers, Islamophobes, homophobes, anti-Asian and other racists) to express their misogyny/anti-Semitism/Islamophbia/homophobia/anti-Asian racism — within bounds, of course?”

Dr Babicz questioned the behaviour of the protesters. “No one is threatening intellectual freedom and civil liberties on campus, except a small group of activists who think they detain the truth,” he wrote.

“As they are so marginal, they are trying to shut down any opposition to their views. As they are so insignificant, they claim to martyrdom when the university decides rightfully to investigate their conduct.

“No one has ever challenged their right to express their views, no matter how distorted many decent people may find them. What we do challenge is their conduct. Brutally shutting down an officially invited guest of the university, even though you are allowed to protest outside of the talk room and ask all the questions you wish in the Q&A part, is not intellectual freedom.”

Professor Sadurski weighed in, likening the behaviour of protesters to neo-Nazis. “The authors of [the initial email] state, seemingly with admiration: ‘Students around the world, for their part, routinely interrupt political talks at universities.’ As a statement of fact, it is correct,” he said.

“In my home country, over the past years young people from the extreme right (including students), some with clearly neo-Nazi predilections, successfully interrupted lectures and speeches by prominent left-wing and/or liberal speakers.

“There is no room, at the University, for administrative censorship and speech control. There is no room for heckler’s veto either.”


Protesters shut down Melbourne city centre and warn more chaos to come

Demonstrating against a governmernt on the other side of the continent?  They know how far they would get in W.A.  And they knew that the newly-elected far-Left government of Victoria would do nothing to protect the public from them. This is just protesting for the sake of protesting

PROTESTERS who shut down the central city for three hours vow it won’t be the last time they cause peak-hour commuter chaos.

For the second time in three weeks, hundreds of thousands of people trying to get home on Friday were severely inconvenienced as an angry throng of more than 12,000 people jammed the streets.

Demonstrators voiced their concerns in what they called a “proud expression of Aboriginal sovereignty’’ and a signal to governments not to scale back support services in remote ­Aboriginal communities.

But the message fell on deaf ears for many annoyed commuters as the CBD’s main thoroughfares came to halt.  Friday night football fans were among those caught up in the gridlock.

Trams were blocked travelling down Swanston, Elizabeth, Collins and Bourke streets and St Kilda Rd as thousands raised banners and chanted outside Melbourne Town Hall.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said this sort of protest must not become the norm.  “Shutting down the city for two hours and inconveniencing hundreds of thousands of people trying to get home and 80,000 trying to get to the MCG is not the way to win sympathy or support for a cause,” Cr Doyle said.  “This smacks of a protest for the protesters, by the protesters, and not about the views of the wider community.”

Protesters want Western Australia to dump a plan to strip back support for remote Aboriginal communities, and the Federal Government to do more to support indigenous Australians.

But when asked to name a specific community under threat, or the political leaders responsible for policy decisions, some protesters were stumped. “With the amount of issues I follow worldwide, you couldn’t expect anyone to ­remember the specifics like that,’’ said one.

The fight comes despite WA Premier Colin Barnett’s suggestion that a “hub and orbit’’ strategy would leave some communities larger and better resourced, and the Northern Territory Government’s announcement of a 10- year strategy to boost education in the Outback.

Mr Murray said the rally in Melbourne and others around Australia would grow bigger.  “We will continue these protests for as long as it takes, until the (WA) Government backs down.  “We are going to keep it up, right through winter if we have to and into summer. We are in for the long haul.

“(The protests) will be as big as they can get each time. We will build on it and we will change our tactics. We need to look at other angles apart from just hitting the streets.”

Premier Daniel Andrews said he supported the right to protest but it was best done peacefully when Victoria Police “have been properly consulted”.


Are you now or have you ever been a climate contrarian?

The fury over Bjorn Lomborg in Australia confirms the intolerance of Greens. It's not enough to agree with their beliefs; You must agree with their policies too

Once, it was Communists who were harassed on Western campuses. Now it’s contrarians. Specifically ‘climate contrarians’. The massive stink over Bjorn Lomborg being given Australian government funding to set up a climate-change centre at the University of Western Australia (UWA) shows that the spirit of McCarthyism lives on. Only now, its targets aren’t Reds, but anti-greens: anyone who dares to criticise either the science — sorry, The Science — or the politics of climate change.

Lomborg is the Danish-born author of the bestselling book The Skeptical Environmentalist (2001). He’s the rattler of greens across the globe with his claims that climate change is not the biggest problem facing humanity, and to the extent that it is a problem we should develop our way out of it rather than cutting back on fossil-fuel use and forcing everyone to live ‘sustainable lives’, which is only fancy code for eco-friendly poverty. So it was inevitable, given green hostility to any criticism of their creed, that Lomborg’s appointment at UWA would start a stir. But even by the standards of denier-denouncing environmentalists, the fury over Lomborg heading Down Under has been intense — and revealing.

Lomborg is being given $4million, apparently on the say so of Australian PM Tony Abbott himself, to set up and oversee the Australia Consensus Centre. It will be the new arm of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, the US-based think-tank Lomborg runs. No sooner had it been announced that Lomborg and his centre would be setting up shop at UWA than Aussie (and international) academics were spitting blood, and the liberal media Down Under were churning out pieces asking why the hell university space and cash were being given to someone who — horror of horrors — ‘downgrades climate change’. (Not denies it, you’ll note — just ‘downgrades’ it. It seems that even saying ‘I don’t think climate change is the most pressing issue in the world’ is now a sin that will earn you stinging demonisation.)

The Australia Guardian questions the fitness of Lomborg for university life. Green-leaning writers demand the Oz government ‘pull the plug’ on the Lomborg centre, outraged that it might argue that climate change should be ‘placed well down [the] list of global priorities’. At the UWA itself, academics and students held a meeting that one described as being ‘like a Rolling Stones concert’ (it was packed and heated), at which there was ‘riotous applause’ when staff called for UWA to ‘end [its] deal with the climate-change contrarian’. Rolling Stones gig, or mob? The UWA Student Guild joined with their professors to demand that UWA refuse to ‘engage controversial climate contrarian Bjorn Lomborg’, on the basis that having him on campus would ‘harm UWA’s world-class reputation’. An online petition demands that, ‘In the name of science’, Lomborg should be rejected by UWA; it has more than 6,000 signatures.

Reading these very public denunciations of a man who has committed the sin of ‘contrarianism’ and who thus must be denied the oxygen of a university position, you get a sense of what it must have been like on some American campuses in the 1950s. Then, academics were asked ‘Are you now or have you even been a Communist?’; now gangs of raging professors, journalists and finger-jabbing students demand of them: ‘Are you now or have you ever been a climate-change contrarian?’ Much of the commentary on Lomborg’s appointment obsesses over funding his think-tank has received in the past, including from foundations ‘with links to’ various ‘vulture capitalists’. They’re painting a demented picture of Lomborg being a front, a mole, for a vast and sinister network of climate deniers, invading a prestigious university with his ‘dangerous views’ — just as surely as McCarthyites once presented very left-wing academics as the possibly Soviet-foisted corrupters of American campuses.

There’s also a palpable religious feel to the denunciations. That student-started petition calling for Lomborg to be kept off campus demands that this be done ‘In the name of science’. Once we had ‘In the name of the Lord’, now we have ‘In the name of science’. The terminology used to denounce those who question climate change, particularly ‘DENIER’, brings to mind dark, intolerant episodes from history when anyone who called into question the truth of the Bible or the authority of the Church was likewise hounded out of universities (think John Wycliffe, expelled from Oxford in 1382 for riling church elders).

The most striking thing about the Lomborg scandal in Australia is the invention of a new term of abuse: ‘climate contrarian’. This is how Lomborg is being referred to by all the metaphorical pitchfork-wielders. Why? Because he isn’t a climate-change denier. He has said repeatedly that he thinks climate change is real and needs to be tackled, just not in the way mainstream greens think it should. So here, explicitly, we can see that someone is being demonised not for being ‘anti-science’ — the usual, unconvincing justification for shutting down criticism of the politics of climate change — but simply for holding the allegedly wrong political and moral views, for daring to put forward an alternative policy vision for environmental problems. As the UWA Student Guild said, ‘While Dr Lomborg doesn’t refute climate change itself’, he does have a ‘controversial track record [as a] climate contrarian’. And we can’t have controversy on a campus, can we?

This scandal exposes the true intolerance of the eco-lobby, their real censorious urge — which is not merely to ringfence science from ridicule, which is bad enough, but to prevent the expression of contrarian ideas. For years, greens have presented themselves as merely the rational, reasoned defenders of science against gangs of charlatans, when in truth they were all about protecting an ideology: the ideology of no-growth, of anti-development, of anti-progress, of population control, of modern-day misanthropy, fortified with bits of science but really expressing an underlying, elitist, growing contempt for humanity and its achievements.

Now, in their assaults on Lomborg, their nakedly political censorship, their moral policing, their desire to deflect any criticism of their miserabilist, illiberal moral outlook, has been brilliantly exposed: they want to shut this man down, not because he denies scientific facts, but because he thinks differently to them. It is undiluted intolerance, and at a university too. Proof that the Western academy in the 21st century is giving the old heresy-hunting Church a run for its money in the bigotry-and-dogma stakes.


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