Author Archives

A demagogue creeps out from under his rock

Sydneysider - A Personal Journey A couple of days ago a friend forwarded to me for comment a long poisonous diatribe against Halal food labelling that is doing the rounds on Facebook. Here's a sample: “Toasted cheese with a dollop of Vegemite was my favourite late night snack, but I leave off the Vegemite now […]

When wildlife rescue came of age

In 1986, shortly after I became chief guide at the Australian Museum, I was asked to meet with a couple of young women who were trying to set up a wildlife rescue charity, to be known as the Wildlife Information and Rescue Service. The new organisation was intended to solve a problem that had been […]

My enemy’s enemy is my enemy

The gang sat around the Brushtail Cafe contemplating Tony Abbott's increasingly bellicose pronouncements. “I don't get it”, Joadja said, polishing glasses. “Tony Abbott is going back into Iraq in order to help the government fight against the Islamic State terrorists, right?” “Right”, said Old Possum, draining the last swig of cider from his bottle. “But […]

Sydney’s environment: the wins have been tactical, but the losses strategic

Sometimes I take an hour or two and travel back in time to the Sydney I was born into in 1948. It's a fascinating trip, and, at least until the bean-counters and fun police have their way, it's all free on the NSW Government's wonderful SIX Maps website. SIX Maps is like a slow and […]

Of Stakhanovite cows and great nation-building projects

If you were a kid in Sydney in the the early 1950s – as I was – there were two worthy educational outings you could have avoided only by premature death – the Rotolactor and the Warragamba Dam construction site. The Rotolactor, which started rotating in 1952, was the ultimate in modern milking machinery. It […]

Charles Laseron: a renaissance man sadly out of season

Museums and antique shops have always fascinated me. Natural history has always fascinated me. These interests were fostered by my parents who were keen museum-goers, and, in the 1950s and early 60s, I was often taken to the Australian Museum (where I would later, briefly, be the chief guide) and the Museum of Applied Arts […]

Airline atrocities? Let’s talk about Iran Air 655

The Federal Police must be earning a heap of overtime these days. Not so many weeks back, Abbott had a bunch of them rushed to Christmas Island in anticipation of 157 pathetic Tamil asylum seekers being, perhaps, landed there. In the event, Scott Morrison decided to incarcerate the asylum seekers aboard a customs vessel headed […]

Miranda Devine will blame Clover Moore for the Cooks River Flasher

“Hey Joadja, how would you like to help me catch the Cooks River Flasher?” “The who?” Jo asked. I was holed up in the Brushtail Cafe sipping a cider with Old Stan, the retired colonel and scanning through the police media releases on the web, which is a fun way to keep up with the […]

They walked into the smoke and I never saw them again

Sydneysider - A Personal Journey By Gavin Gatenby Sometime in 1992, when I was an Interpretive Officer with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, I got it into my head that our region should buy one of the new mobile phones. I was at the time understudying a colleague, legendary radio and TV naturalist […]

Victory at Sea – death and mayhem on Sunday afternoon TV

Our next door neighbours were the first people in Edgar Street, Strathfield to own a television set. I remember being invited in to look at the latest miracle of modern technology probably late in 1956 or early '57. Their set was housed in an impressive piece of joinery and it had little doors on the […]