Anzac Day 2023

Today is Anzac Day (Anzac: Australian and New Zealand Army Corps). To quote the Victorian ANZAC Day Act 1958:

Anzac Day march 2023: Looking up the march route

Anzac Day march 2023: Looking up the march route

In commemoration of the part taken by Victorian troops in the Great War and in memory of those who gave their lives for the Empire, and in commemoration of the service of Australians for their country in subsequent conflicts and peacekeeping activities, the twenty-fifth day of April in each year (being the anniversary of the first landing on Gallipoli of troops from the United Kingdom Australia and New Zealand) shall be known as ANZAC Day.

If you know your WW1 history, you’ll know that the Gallipoli campaign was a disaster. After eight months the Allied forces were evacuated. Allied deaths included 8,709 from Australia and 2,721 from New Zealand. At that time Australia’s population was less than five million. To remember those who had died (and many more who were injured) Anzac Day was instituted.

This morning I set my alarm for 4.30 – not something I’ve done for many years. Why? I’ve been to watch our Melbourne Anzac parade on a number of occasions but to now have never made it to the 5.30a.m. Dawn Service, something I’ve felt I should do at least once. I was one of about 40,000 attending.

Anzac Day dawn service at the Shrine of Remembrance

Anzac Day dawn service at the Shrine of Remembrance

It was a moving occasion. In the darkness Master of Ceremonies Justin Smith reminded us that this year marks 70 years since the armistice of the Korean War, in which 339 Australian soldiers died. Those who returned weren’t given the recognition that they deserved, as was the fate of Vietnam vets twenty years later.

The Last Post was sounded, followed by a minute’s silence. The poem In Flanders Field was recited by Caitlin Fankhauser, the Shrine’s Young Ambassador. The MSO Chorus and Navy Band sang Abide with me and the New Zealand and Australian national anthems. The dignitaries moved to the Shrine sanctuary to lay wreaths.

Anzac Day march 2023: Melbourne High School band

Anzac Day march 2023: Melbourne High School band

Then home. I watched the parade on TV so the following pictures come courtesy of the ABC.

The march lasts for nearly three hours with representatives of around 370 units taking part. School and other bands provide the music. Here are the very impressively dressed members of the Melbourne High School band.

Here are a just a few of the more eye catching and interesting banners:

Anzac Day march 2023: 4th Light Horse banner

Anzac Day march 2023: 4th Light Horse banner

As can be seen from their banner, the 4th Light Horse saw service across the battlefields of WW1. Those marching behind the banner are descendants of those who fought.

Medals are worn on the left breast by those to whom they were awarded; descendants wear their ancestors medals on their right breast. According to the RSL rules photos of the person being commemorated are not to be carried but a good few people don’t comply.

Anzac Day march 2023: Usher's Mob

Anzac Day march 2023: Usher’s Mob

The march reminds us that every military force relies on all sorts of support operations, supplies, fuel, medical care, communications, engineers and here transport in the shape of the 118th Australian General Transport, aka ‘Usher’s Mob’.

I have no idea as to who Usher was, but his mob keep his name alive. The entire resources of the internet have failed to answer this question. If you find an answer please let me know via the comments.

Anzac Day march 2023: Catalina flying boats banner

Anzac Day march 2023: Catalina flying boats banner

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) operated Catalina flying boats as night raiders, laying mines in the southwest Pacific deep in Japanese-held waters.

In late 1944, mining missions sometimes exceeded 20 hours in duration and were carried out from as low as 200 ft (61 m) in the dark. Catalinas also regularly mounted nuisance night bombing raids on Japanese bases, with the RAAF claiming the slogan “The First and the Furthest”.

Anzac Day march 2023: Odd Bods banner

Anzac Day march 2023: Odd Bods banner

The Odd Bods Association was formed by ex-RAAF. and Allied Air Force members who had served in the UK, Europe and the Middle East in non-RAAF. units, mostly Royal Air Force units.

Once back in Australia they wanted an association of their own so that they could hold reunions and remember those who had lost their lives in the many conflicts during the war. Thus the formation of the Odd Bods Association in 1947.

Anzac Day march 2023: Wellington bomber banner

Anzac Day march 2023: Wellington bomber banner

458 and 460 Squadrons operated Wellington bombers.  458 Squadron was formed in 1941 and was soon sent  to RAF Holme-on-Spalding, Yorkshire before being sent to Egypt, Italy, France and Gibraltar.

460 Squadron was formed from members of 458 Squadron and operated from RAF Breighton flew the most sorties of any Australian bomber squadron and dropped more bomb tonnage than any squadron in the whole of Bomber Command.

Anzac Day march 2023: Scout and Guide banners

Anzac Day march 2023: Scout and Guide banners

And lastly, a thank-you to the Scouts and Guides who acted as marshals.

 *  *  *

2023 cruise #3: Barrier Reef

My third 2023 cruise started off as a March 2022 Barrier Reef cruise booked in March 2020 then unsurprisingly cancelled in July 2021. In this case deciding what to do next was easy: I rebooked on the same cruise a year later. I visited the Barrier Reef on my first visit to Australia in 1986 but not since then.

This was my first Celebrity cruise and my first cruise from Sydney. For the first time I took the XPT daylight train to and from Sydney, spending the nights before and after the cruise in the Great Southern and Holiday Inn, Darling Harbour hotels respectively, both of which I was very happy with. This was the first time I’d overnighted in Sydney since 2011.

The ship

Celebrity Eclipse is the third of Celebrity’s Solstice class ships, launched in 2010. Her rated capacity is 2,850 passengers and 1,271 crew. At 121,878 GT she doesn’t make Wikipedia’s top 60! I was booked into stateroom (cabin) 8254, defined as a Deluxe Ocean View Stateroom with Veranda – by my measuring (using a piece of A4 paper as a ruler!), the room was a spacious 225ft2 and the balcony a very generous 95ft2, both much larger than the quoted size for this cabin class.

Internally Eclipse is a beautiful ship. I’d specially commend Celebrity for the clear signage everywhere, far better than on the Grand Princess or Queen Elizabeth.

The cruise

I was given a late embarkation time which at first disappointed me, but it did mean that from arriving at the terminal to boarding took no more than ten minutes.

On board the crew were without exception excellent. The food was good and on sea days there was a wide range of activities – one, unique to Celebrity (not tried by me), was glassblowing classes. I went to the theatre shows nearly every night – NZ pianist/singer Will Martin was undoubtedly the standout. Several shows included very impressive high wire acrobatics.

One thing that stood out was the passenger mix. Around 1,500 had stayed on board following the preceding cruise around New Zealand and it seemed like the majority were from UK. There were very few solo travellers and most nights for dinner I ended up on a six-seat table with two couples; all good company but it would have been nice not to be the odd one out.

Day 2: Eden

One might have expected our first port call to be Brisbane, but not so perhaps because of wharf availability. Instead, on leaving Sydney we headed south to Eden for our first port day. Most of my time went on visiting the Killer Whale Museum and Mary MacKillop Museum. Two days at sea bound for Queensland followed.

Day 5: Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach was the first of our three Barrier Reef port calls. In each case water depth dictated that the ship had to be anchored a long way off shore with passengers being ferried to shore on tenders. The trip took 30-40 minutes. Here the organisation of the tendering was abysmal; by the time we got to Port Douglas things improved significantly.

I didn’t sign up for any excursions, instead just looking round the town and visiting the seafront market. The huge seawater lagoon was being well used: in these parts no one with any sense goes in the sea during the summer months: marine stingers (box jellyfish) are active and in extreme cases their stings can be fatal.

Day 6: Cairns/Kuranda

The next day we anchored at Yorkey’s Knob, just north of Cairns. After taking the tender to shore I joined a group tour going to Kuranda by bus. After spending the morning in town I made my way to the station for the Kuranda Scenic Railway two-hour trip down to Freshwater. The railway was built in the 1880s and is an extraordinary feat of railway engineering.

The train stops at Barron Falls overlook, where we were able to disembark for several minutes and further down passes just in front of the Stoney Creek Falls.

Then back on the bus to catch the tender back to the ship.

Day 7: Port Douglas

Port Douglas was our last port of call. As before we anchored in deeper water, tenders providing access to the town.

After looking round the main street I climbed up to the lookout, passing a wedding chapel, formerly the 1914 St Mary’s by the Sea RC church, rebuilt here 1988.

The last tender was timetabled for 5.15p.m. but long before this the heat and humidity had got to me, and I was glad to go back to the ship.

Day 8: Willis Island

Our last ‘stop’ wasn’t a stop, rather a sail-by. Willis Island (450 km/280mi east of Cairns) is home to a weather observation station, population 4. Cruise passengers on ‘journeys to nowhere’ (voyages that depart from an Australian port and return to Australia without making landfall at an overseas port) do not qualify for duty-free purchases. Under a longstanding concession, a ship that making a notional stop in Willis Island waters is treated as having visited an international port, thus allowing cruise passengers to purchase duty free goods.

No Barrier Reef?

You may be wondering as to why I haven’t mentioned visiting the Great Barrier Reef. Special excursions were available for those who wanted to spend a day at the reef. Instead of taking a tender to the shore, those going on the reef tours ($$$) were collected from the ship by large catamarans which took them out to the reef. I’ve pencilled in a winter  holiday to these parts for 2025 and if this happens will revisit the reef then.

Day 9: Behind the Scenes tour

Expensive (A$186=~£100) but I enjoyed it. This small group tour took us round parts of the ship that passengers usually don’t see: the galley, stores, laundry, engine control room and bridge. A similar tour on the Queen Elizabeth also took in the theatre backstage, print shop, anchor room and medical centre – that was pre-Covid, so perhaps all or some of these were omitted as a safety measure.

Day 11: Sydney

Up super early to watch our final approach to Sydney. I was one of the last to disembark but this didn’t matter as I wasn’t in a hurry.

As if ten days cruising wasn’t enough, I dropped my case at the hotel and spent the day riding Sydney ferries to Parramatta and Manly!

Then up early next morning to get the XPT back to Melbourne and reality.

My favourite YouTube cruising channels

Emma Cruises
Tips for Travellers
Paul and Carole love to travel
CruiseTipsTV
Life Well Cruised

2023 cruise #2: Burnie, Tasmania

My second 2023 cruise started off as a 2021 cruise on the Queen Mary 2 from Fremantle to Melbourne, booked in  May 2019 – I like to book as soon as cruises go on sale. With Covid it was just a matter of time before it was cancelled: I was given the option of getting a full refund or carrying forward 125% of the deposit paid as a future cruise credit (FCC). I chose the latter course and booked a similar cruise for March 2022. This in turn got cancelled, with the FCC rolled forward again.

With two longer cruises already booked I settled on a three-night cruise from Melbourne to Burnie and back on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth, treating myself to a Princess Grill suite. I’d previously enjoyed an upgrade to PG so knew what to expect. Burnie is on the north coast of Tasmania, approximately 500km/310mil from Melbourne by sea.

The day before the cruise I was surprised to get an email from Cunard saying that although the cruise would be going ahead, we might need to skip visiting Burnie as further hull cleaning was required before the QE’s New Zealand cruise which was to follow ours; if this was to happen we would each receive 100% FCC and $150 onboard credit (spending money), a more than generous offer.

What happened? The hull cleaning had to be abandoned because of rough seas, we did go to Burnie (to the regret of those hoping for the FCC) and those who joined the ship on Feb 14th expecting to go round New Zealand found themselves on a cruise to Queensland and back! If you’re interested, read the story on Cruise Critic.

Back to my cruise: I won’t say much about the ship since I’ve done this before. Day one was spent at sea. Plenty to do, including the Sunday church service conducted by the captain – a Cunard tradition – and a superb lecture given by Julie Bishop, Australia’s Foreign Secretary 2013-18 and now Chancellor of Australia National University – lots of great stories about her meetings with many world leaders.

At the end of day one I fell into bed not knowing what was to happen on day two. I’d assumed that the messaging was to prepare us for missing Burnie so it was a big surprise to wake up, draw back the curtains, and see that we were docked with a huge woodchip mountain in front of my balcony.

So after a quick breakfast I set off on my booked cruise ship excursion, to the Don Valley Railway excursion, Bass Strait Maritime Centre and Home Hill.

The Don River Railway is a volunteer-run preserved railway that runs trains on a 3.1km stretch of track that was once part of the Tasmanian railway system. We rode on a two-carriage train hauled by V2, a 1947 diesel built in UK by Vulcan Foundry, Lancs. Trains are steam-hauled on Sundays and public holidays. I rode in their 1908 ex-Hobart suburban carriage. After the train ride we were given a tour of the impressive workshops. Excellent friendly volunteers – I hope we do as well at Newport.

On to the Bass Strait Maritime Centre, Devonport. Not huge but lots to look at.

Our excellent tour guide, Colleen, had promised us that she’d saved the best till last. And so it was. We drove to Home Hill, the home of Joseph Lyons (1879-1939), Australia’s only (so far) Tasmanian Prime Minister (1932-39) and his wife Enid (1897-1981) who became a notable public figure in her own right after her husband’s early death – she was the first woman elected to federal parliament. After Dame Enid’s death the house was preserved and open to the public. As elsewhere, the volunteer guides were excellent.

The house was built in 1916 when the Lyons married and extended as the family (12 children!) grew. It remains largely as it was when Dame Enid last lived there in 1981, complete with her original furnishings and memorabilia. It was interesting to see these, and I came away with my knowledge of Australian history significantly enhanced.

Then back to the ship for dinner. On my New Zealand cruise solo travellers like me were assigned individual tables at dinner as an anti-Covid precaution; this time I was glad to be put on a shared table with seven other solos who were very good company and we were more than well looked after by our table steward, Thando. Then back to Melbourne. All too soon the cruise was over.

Prev: 2023 cruise #1; Next: 2023 cruise #3.

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2023 cruise #1: New Zealand

Finally I’m back on a cruise ship!

I tend to book cruises as soon as they go on sale, so at when Covid first surfaced I had three booked. After multiple cruise cancellations and rebooks over the last three years, 2023 begins with three cruises in ten weeks.

My first post-Covid (or should this be ‘Covid-era’?) cruise on the Grand Princess and my longest (13 nights, 5 sea days) so far, was from Melbourne, round New Zealand and home again.

Here’s a quick summary: I won’t try and give a detailed guide to each place since lots of other people have done this already. Apart from Napier, I didn’t take any of the ship tours, choosing to do my own thing.

Fiordland

After two sea days we reached Fiordland at the far south west of NZ’s South Island. Several cruise ships have recently been refused entry to these waters because of hull contamination issues; fortunately we were fine.

The highlight of the day (arguably of the cruise) was the early morning cruise around Milford Sound, nominated by Rudyard Kipling as his eighth wonder of the world.

The weather was perfect; friends who have been to the Sound experienced rain and fog. Then on to Doubtful Sound and Dusky Sound before sailing for Port Chalmers, the nearest port to Dunedin.

Port Chalmers (Dunedin)

At Port Chalmers I stepped onto foreign soil for the first time since my mid-2019 UK trip. A NZ$35 (return) shuttle bus ran from the dock into Dunedin, conveniently (for me), stopping near the railway station. The station is a spectacular building, unfortunately half-shrouded in scaffolding when we were there.

Then up to the Octagon at the heart of the city, St Paul’s Cathedral, Otago Museum, then back to the Toitu Settlers Museum, before getting the shuttle back to the ship.

Lyttleton (Christchurch)

The overnight sail took us to Lyttleton, the port for Christchurch, 12km away. Another NZ$35 shuttle.

Christchurch has been, sadly, totally reshaped by the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes which killed 185 people and destroyed thousands of buildings, including the iconic cathedral spire.

After walking round the city centre I went on to the Quake Museum where I spent a couple of hours taking in the horror that Christchurch residents lived through (and still do to a degree). Then a walk through the Botanic Gardens and past the Arts Centre buildings to get the shuttle back to the ship.

At Christchurch my one and only credit card stopped being accepted by card readers which left me with a just small amount of cash – I know to be better prepared next time!

Wellington

On to North Island. Our third port day, Sunday Jan 15th, was spent in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital. The shuttle bus was free this time. Yet another beautiful sunny day.

Before it got too hot I climbed to the Mount Victoria lookout (196m) with its stunning views over the city then back down to the Te Papa Museum of New Zealand. The Gallipoli gallery reminded me of the huge sacrifices made by NZ troops in WW1. In total I walked more than 22,500 steps.

Napier

Another, day, another port: Napier. This was the only place where I took a ship tour, and I am glad I did: an hour’s coach tour followed by a visit to the Art Deco Centre then an excellent guided walk around the city centre.

On the morning of 3 February 1931 Napier city centre was destroyed by a massive earthquake and ensuing fires. Within a few years it was largely rebuilt and now has one of the world’s greatest concentrations of Art Deco buildings.

After the walk we were left to explore on our own. The seafront with its beautiful floral displays brought back memories of happy childhood seaside holidays.

Tauranga

Port five, Mount Maunganui/Tauranga, was a bit different: no sightseeing, rather a chance to meet up with friends of 40+ years, who emigrated to NZ in 1996. Tugs pulled us off the quay: large ships aren’t allowed to use bow thrusters as they could damage the quays.

Soon after departure the captain made a somewhat opaque announcement re increasing respiratory infections (carefully not using the ‘C’ word), warned us that the programme might need to be changed, and reiterated that we were required (not requested) to wear masks in public areas except when eating and drinking.

Auckland

Last stop before sailing home. Just six hours in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city: we had to sail at 1500 so as to leave the harbour clear for commuter ferries.

I enjoyed more sunshine walking round the city centre, finishing up at the New Zealand Maritime Museum. Nine days later Auckland experienced unprecedented rain and massive floods.

The unexpected

The voyage back from Auckland to Melbourne took three full sea days. It was a little choppy along the way which upset my system – so sad not to be able to enjoy all the good food on offer.

Not on the schedule was a helicopter medivac on the last full day. The helicopter was at the end of its range so after dropping two paramedics had to return to the mainland to refuel, then returning to the ship to collect the paramedics and patient. Hopefully he/she has made a full recovery and had travel insurance.

Life on board

With the veiled Covid warnings I decided to play safe and gave most of the mass entertainment a miss. I did though go to the sea day Bible studies – it’s left to those attending to decide how these are run and the ones on this voyage were not as good as some I’ve engaged in previously.

What gave me particular joy was listening to the recitals given by the Amethyst Duo, two young women from Ukraine, Varvara (piano) and Valeriia (violin). For them, a world away from home in more senses than one.

The pre-destination lectures given by tour manager Sue Beard were truly excellent. I had a Club Class cabin so ate in a reserved area of the Da Vinci dining room. My waiters Rommel and Nishi were outstanding. Across the board, the crew members I met could be not be faulted.

In summary, since I was a solo travelled and opted for a mini-suite it wasn’t a cheap cruise, but for me the experience more than justified the cost. But currently two people sharing an interior cabin can do an identical 12-night cruise for just A$1198 (~£700) – cheaper than staying in a cheap hotel and that’s before you factor in meals, entertainment etc.

Now to 2023 cruise number two!

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Cruise map (from Princess Cruises)

Grand Princess

Grand Princess

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Maori canoe, Toitu Museum, Dunedin

Maori canoe, Toitu Museum, Dunedin

Picture of Christchurch Cathedral after the earthquake

Picture of Christchurch Cathedral after the earthquake

Christchurch Arts Centre

One of the Christchurch Arts Centre buildings

View over Wellington from Mount Victoria

View over Wellington from Mount Victoria

Te Papa Museum, Wellington

Te Papa Museum, Wellington

Art Deco Centre, Napier

Art Deco Centre, Napier

Daily Telegraph building, Napier

Daily Telegraph building, Napier

Making a new friend in Tauranga

Making a new friend in Tauranga

Auckland

Auckland

Auckland Ferry Terminal

Auckland Ferry Terminal, 1912

Medivac helicopter

The sight you don’t want to see

Beautiful music from the Amethyst Duo

Beautiful music from the Amethyst Duo

Melbourne from Station Pier

Home!

 

Election Reflections – Now What?

'Victory secured', The Age, 28 Nov 2022

‘Victory secured’, The Age, 28 Nov 2022

So now we look forward to another four years of Labor government. Covid was hugely divisive – Dan Andrews attracting a lot of support for what many saw as his decisive if unpopular leadership in an effort to keep us safe whilst the opposition and the usual media suspects were doing their best to undermine him and the measures he implemented. His strategy has been vindicated. As a regular correspondent put it in a letter to The Age:

Daniel Andrews won because he builds things you can see: roads, railways, hospitals. When COVID-19 arrived he ignored the complaining and did that “making the hard decisions” thing people talk about. He got on my nerves but he got on with the job.  PJ Bear, Mitcham

On the other side – from the Herald Sun and Sky News journos – there was lots of noise. But arguably all they were doing was talking to the converted whilst repelling those they should have been converting to their cause. When yet another letter gets printed in the HS saying “I don’t know anyone who would vote for Dan Andrews“, all the writer is doing is displaying the limited circles in which they move.

As the Age observes, “Victory secured, now the hard part“. We are currently facing major issues arising from Covid, the Ukraine war, a possible slump in the housing market and/or recession. The only certainty is that in four years’ time things will be very different. Although Dan Andrews says that he will serve a full term (which would be unwise IMO: too many politicians fall into the trap of failing to quit whilst they’re ahead) I suspect that he will step down once the metro tunnel opens in 2025, rightly seeing this as his legacy and the culmination of his government’s massive investment in infrastructure.

Should Dan stand down, his likely replacement, Jacinta Allen, would then be up against the Libs newly-elected leader, John Pesutto who, unlike his predecessor, comes across well in the media. In the meantime Labor needs to note the large swings against them in some areas and address well-founded concerns re poor governance. During the election it was reported that the Labor administration employs 250+ special advisors, political appointments. What’s happened to the independent civil servants who gave unbiased advice to ministers, then implementing the agreed policy? If our ministers are open to frank and fearless advice from public servants who have long experience of their subject area we might get better decisions.

Election Reflections – The Media

Election prediction, Herald Sun letters, 19 Feb 2021

Election prediction, Herald Sun letters, 19 Feb 2021

Compulsory voting arguably makes for a more democratic result. In the 2018 Victoria state election just over 90% of those on the roll voted (it will never be 100% since people die, move away etc as well as failing to vote), compared with 67.3% in the UK’s 2019 General Election. The downside of compulsory voting is that as everyone has (in theory) to vote, if you can get mud to stick on your opponent you may reap the benefit.

Plenty of mud was thrown in our recent election; thankfully it didn’t stick. Sky News and the Murdoch press carried on a relentless vendetta against Premier Dan Andrews, the Herald Sun reportedly carrying 150+ anti-Dan stories during the campaign. Will they ever learn that such mudslinging achieves nothing? I doubt it.

Back in February 2021, in the middle of Covid lockdowns and other restrictions, Herald Sun reader John Moore of Wangaratta forecast that “in the 2022 state election, I believe that the ALP [Labor] will be lucky to win one lower house seat”. He’d better stick to his day job: in Dan Andrews’ 2018 ‘unrepeatable’ landslide victory, Labor won 55 of the 88 lower house seats. In 2022, 56!

The Daniel Andrews paradox: the enduring appeal of Australia’s most divisive premier (the Guardian)

'Guy closing gap', The Age, 22 Nov 2022

‘Guy closing gap’, The Age, 22 Nov 2022

In the lead up to 2022’s vote the press was claiming that a minority government was a real possibility. Check out this nonsense published by Sky News:

“… a survey by bi-partisan RedBridge Group earlier this week that suggested Mr Andrews will be forced to form a minority government. The analysis had implied that Labor will fall two seats short of the 45 needed to form a majority government on its own. Labor currently holds 55 seats to the Liberals’ 27 – but aside from the opposition it is also under threat from various Greens, teal and regional independent candidates. There is also a suggestion Mr Andrews could lose his seat of Mulgrave, where he is being challenged by independent Ian Cook.

The actual result: Labor increased its lower house representation to 56. As for Mr Cook, he got a respectable 18%, but Dan Andrews’ 51% saw him re-elected on an absolute majority.

Opposition leader Matthew Guy was well and truly humiliated, his concession speech claim that “What we can see is that with a swing of around four per cent to us and many pre-poll votes to come, we will finish … with more seats in the parliament in both the lower house and the upper house,” proving to be untrue. The next day he resigned, having led his party to two disastrous defeats.

What next?

Election Reflections – The Count

The UK’s first past the post (FPTP) voting system has several key problems. It can be ‘dangerous’ to vote for your most favoured candidate you since by doing so you may hand victory to a candidate you really don’t like. For example, in the UK if you vote for a UKIP candidate, your vote might let a Labour candidate win whilst you’d rather be represented by a Conservative. With preference voting, as used to elect Victoria’s lower house, you could vote UKIP:1, Con:2, your vote going to a candidate you can live with, if not the one you prefer. Informed voters understand this and so may change the way they vote (tactical voting), thus the number of votes cast for each party is not necessarily a true reflection of popular opinion. FPTP may mean that a third or less of those voting voted for the successful candidate.

FPTP vote counting is quick and easy. In UK each constituency’s count is done in one place behind locked doors. After a few hours (in most cases) a moment of theatre follows where the Returning Officer and candidates mount the stage to hear “I, John Smith, being the Returning Officer for xxxx do hereby declare that the number of votes cast for each candidate was ….”, speeches from the victor and other candidates following.

Here interim results are released as the count progresses, from which TV pundits predict the result. At some point Antony Green, the ABC’s election guru, will often ‘call’ a seat/the election for a particular candidate/party even though many votes remain uncounted. Unlike UK, postal votes only need to be posted by the close of poll and will be counted if received with six days, so in a few closely contested seats it took more than a week for the result to be finalised.

Election Reflections – Background

Saturday November 26th 2022, 17 days ago, was state election day here in Victoria. Australia’s system of government borrows from the UK and USA as well as being influenced by our own history – we have federal (national) and state governments and local councils. State government responsibilities include schools, hospitals, roads, railways and public transport.

The Victorian parliament, comprising two houses, is elected for fixed four-year terms. The upper house (Legislative Council) consists of 40 members, five each from eight large electoral areas, elected by proportional representation. It’s rare for any one party to have a majority in the Council so to get legislation passed the government of the day must get the agreement of the opposition or a certain number of cross benchers.

The lower house, the Legislative Assembly, consists of 88 members, each representing one constituency. Unlike the UK which uses first past the post voting, members are elected using alternative voting. The ballot paper lists all the candidates and their party affiliations. For the vote to be valid the voter needs to preference all candidates: 1 for the most favoured candidate, 2 for the next and so on. Failure to number all the candidates renders the vote invalid. Virtually everyone on the electoral roll is required to turn up and vote (or be fined) but there’s nothing to stop anyone putting a spoiled paper in the ballot box, alternatively making a ‘donkey vote’ – numbering the candidates 1, 2, 3 … regardless of who they represent.

At the polling stations party workers hand out ‘how to vote’ cards, obviously each one showing their candidate as number one. When I first moved here I was naïve enough to think that the list order was determined by candidate merit but it’s all down to pure self-interest: at this election the Libs (Conservative in UK parlance) were second preferencing the Greens with whom they have next to nothing in common whilst advocating ‘put Labor last’, even behind some very unsavoury right-wing candidates. Pure cynicism.

At count time all the first preferences are counted. If one candidate has more than 50% they are elected, no further counting being necessary. Otherwise the candidate with the lowest number of first preferences is eliminated and the second preferences replace the discarded first preferences. If a recount now produces a candidate with more than 50%, they are elected. If not, the elimination and recount procedure is repeated until a successful candidate emerges. A better system?

Return of the Cruise Ships

Coral Princess approaches Station Pier

Coral Princess approaches Station Pier, 15th Sept 2022

For those of us in Melbourne who love looking at and travelling on cruise ships it’s been a long time since the 2019-2020 season was brought to a premature end by Covid on March 19th 2020. Then nothing for two and a half years until we had a visit from the Coral Princess on September 15th. She was welcomed with fire hoses as media helicopters overhead reported her arrival. But then nothing ….

Carnival Spendor and Pacific Adventure at Station Pier

Carnival Spendor and Pacific Adventure at Station Pier, 1st Nov 2022

… until this week – the first Tuesday in November being Melbourne Cup day – when the cruise ship season proper restarted, the Pacific Adventure, Pacific Encounter and Carnival Splendor bringing in thousands of visitors to watch the big race – just sad for our visitors that the weather was so cold, wet and generally unwelcoming. But that’s Melbourne for you – we’re now forecast to have temperatures in the mid-20s all this coming week.

Grand Princess leaving Melbourne

Grand Princess leaving Melbourne, 4th Nov 2022

Of particular interest to me, last Friday morning (Nov 4th) the Grand Princess arrived from Sydney. She’ll be based here all season, running thirteen cruises from Melbourne, the most important of which is the one I’ll be on in January, my first cruise since 2020. That evening I watched her sail for Port Chalmers, Dunedin, the first post-Covid cruise originating from Melbourne. After circumnavigating New Zealand she’ll be back here on Nov 17th. Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth, which will also be homeported here all season arrives next Sunday Nov 13th. I’ll be there to see her.

Melbourne’s cruise terminal is Station Pier, Port Melbourne. From its opening in 1854 it was linked to Flinders Street Station 3mi/4.5km away, by Australia’s first railway, replaced in 1987 by tram 109. During WW2 huge numbers of troops passed through Station Pier. After WW2 it was the arrival point for emigrants to Victoria: between 1949 and 1966, an average of 61,000 passengers arrived every year, peaking at 110,802 in 1960.

Spirit of Tasmania I and Seabourn Odyssey at Station Pier

Spirit of Tasmania I and Seabourn Odyssey at Station Pier, 22nd Feb 2010

With the development of aviation this trade disappeared and the pier saw fewer and fewer visitors, the main source of traffic being the daily ferries to Tasmania. On 23 October 2022, TT-Line moved its Victorian terminal from Station Pier to a new terminal just outside Geelong, leaving Station Pier as a dedicated cruise ship terminal.

One of my regrets is that cruise ships can’t come up river and dock in Victoria Harbour below my balcony. Why not? Because the 1990s Bolte Bridge was constructed with a clearance of 25m, far too low for today’s cruise ships (the Queen Elizabeth, now classed as a mid-sized ship rises 56.6m above the waterline). But cruising was very much a minority interest then. The Melbourne 2004-05 cruise season (the first for which PoM statistics are recorded) saw just 16 ship visits with 34,839 passengers and crew. Ten years later this had grown to 75 and 242,854 respectively. This season we’ll see more than a hundred ship visits with 120 visits provisionally booked for 2023-4. Hopefully our shortly-to-be-elected new state government will work with all interested parties to ensure that continuing growth is catered for and our visitors enjoy their time here.

Box Hill Cemetery visit

Instead of the usual talk, our October 2022 Box Hill Historical Society meeting took the form of a tour of Box Hill Cemetery (map). After the tour I did a bit of exploring on my own.

Box Hill cemetery first burial

Box Hill cemetery first burial

This story starts in 1872 when twelve acres of reserve to the east of Box Hill was set aside for use as a cemetery. The first burial, of three week old Jessie Lavinia Smith, took place on 30 August 1873.

In 1886 land between the cemetery and the recently extended railway line from Box Hill to Lilydale was annexed as an extension to the cemetery. Then in 1935 a further twelve acres was purchased by the Box Hill Council, bringing the cemetery to its present size of ~12.5 hectares (30.8 acres).

Box Hill cemetery columbarium (1929)

Columbarium (1929)

Box Hill cemetery pavilion (1923)

Pavilion (1923)

Notable structures within the cemetery are the pavilion, built in 1923 to mark the cemetery’s 50th year, and the 1929 columbarium built as a repository for the cremated remains.

In total around 50,000 people are interred at Box Hill. Here are a few of them:

Three businessmen who cared about the less fortunate

Sidney Myer

Grave of Sidney Myer, d.1934

Grave of Sidney Myer, d.1934

The most notable grave is that of Sidney Myer, founder of the department store chain and one of my great heroes. He was born Simcha Baevski in present day Belarus in 1878, coming to Melbourne in 1890. He died suddenly on 5 September 1934, aged just 56.

The Argus summed him up thus: He [Sidney Myer] came to Australia unknown and almost penniless. His life has closed with his name and his deeds known far and wide and with the largest general store in the southern hemisphere as a monument to his business ability.

Business success led Myer to be one of Melbourne’s greatest benefactors and so it’s not too surprising that 100,000 people turned out for his funeral. Through the Myer Foundation his generosity continues to this day.

I am not a politician; I do not seek publicity, nor have I any ulterior motive whatsoever, except my love for Australia and the Australian people.” – Sidney Myer

Why was he buried at Box Hill, rather than an arguably more prestigious place such as Melbourne General Cemetery, particularly since his home was in Toorak? Very possibly because Box Hill could offer such a large site. It’s also the grave site of his widow, Merlyn (1900-1982) and the ashes of his son Kenneth (1921-1992) and wife Yasuko who were killed in a light aircraft crash In Alaska.

William Angliss

Angliss family grave

Angliss family grave

A second prominent entrepreneur and philanthropist is William Angliss (1865-1957). He came to Australia in from England 1884, opened his own butchers shop in Carlton in 1886, then moved into exporting frozen meat. By the early 1930s it was claimed that his was the largest personally controlled meat enterprise in the British Empire.

After selling out to Vesteys in 1934 Angliss pursued other business interests and by 1950 was reputedly the wealthiest man in Australia. From 1912 to 1952, he was a member of the Legislative Council of Victoria, his contribution to public life being recognised by a knighthood in 1939.

Sir William died on 15 June 1957. In his will he left £1 million for the creation of two charitable funds: one in Victoria and one in Queensland, which are administered by the William Angliss Charitable Fund, and he is also commemorated by the William Angliss Institute located in the Melbourne CBD which provides training and vocational education in hospitality and tourism.

Robert Campbell Edwards

Robert Campbell Edwards was born in Ireland in 1862. His father died in a farm accident when he was eight months old. In 1877 his mother decided to follow other family members who had already emigrated to Australia and after a long and trying voyage they arrived in Melbourne in 1878. After working for a tea importer he decided to set up on his own. Over thirty years he built up a large real estate portfolio.

In 1895, perhaps remembering his family’s struggles, and being concerned about the number of homeless boys around Melbourne’s streets, Robert established the Burwood Boys’ Home for destitute boys. The home was founded on the principle that: ‘No truly destitute boy is to be refused admission or turned away.’

When the superintendent of the home objected to the policy of taking in completely desperate cases, Robert replied that this is exactly the sort of boy for which the Burwood Boys Home had been established. From 1972 the home took in girls, operating as the Burwood Children’s Home, closing in 1986 when such institutional care was no longer required. The concern for less fortunate continues under the Campbell Edwards Trust.

Now to the graves of two younger women.

Georgine Gadsden

Georgine Gadsden (1920-1943)

Georgine Gadsden (1920-1943)

Georgine Gadsden (1920-43) was the granddaughter of Jabez Gadsden, founder of the packaging company J.Gadsden Pty Ltd. Her father, Norman Gadsden, served with the Australian Flying Corps in WW1 before rejoining the family business. Her mother, Dorothy, was an operatic singer.

Aged just 23, Georgine met a tragic death on Mt Bogong, Victoria’s highest mountain (6,516 ft/1,986m). The Australian Alpine Club website tells her story,  summarised here:

On August 2 1943, a party of three skiers (Georgine Gadsden, John McRae and Edward Welch) departed Bivouac Hut on the Staircase Spur (4,900ft/1,493m) bound for Summit Hut (6,410ft/ 1,954m) where they planned to spend the night, with the Cleve Cole Memorial Hut being their ultimate destination. Between them they carried sufficient food to last about five days Snow was falling but the party did not consider conditions unduly severe.

On August 5 it was still snowing but with a moderating wind a second group set off for the Summit Hut. Five hours after leaving the Bivouac Hut, they came across the three frozen bodies of the members of the first party lying in the snow, just 80 metres from the almost completely buried Summit Hut. Edward Welch was lying face down. About two metres further up the slope was John McRae’s body. Georgine Gadsden’s body was a further two metres up the slope.

The Gadsden Memorial marks the site of the tragedy.

Once you know this sad story you understand why Georgine’s grave, now ageing, is topped with two crossed skis.

Nellie Catherine Wales, d.1948

Nellie Catherine Wales, d.1948

Nellie Catherine Wales

And now for a mystery. This striking memorial commemorates Nellie Catherine Wales who died in 1948 aged 49. The rain-washed marble waterfall hides its 70+ years well.

The mystery: my Google and Trove searches didn’t produce any information about her, not even a death or funeral notice. Is there, as with Georgine Gadsden’s grave, a story to be told? All I have been able to find out is that Nellie was the daughter of Alexander Wright Wales (1859-1939) who from humble beginnings became a prosperous quarry owner and local politician. Later on, family money endowed  Alexander Wright Wales scholarships at Scotch College. Nellie’s brother George (1885-1962) was Lord Mayor of Melbourne 1934-37.

E.J.B.Forrester and 66 others

E.J.B.Forrester war grave, 1942

E.J.B.Forrester war grave, 1942

And, lastly, war graves: within the cemetery there are 67 war graves. The headstone shown here is similar to those used in many Commonwealth war cemeteries.


If you’re interested in joining a future cemetery tour check out the Box Hill Historical Society web site