Antimony Mine.

Definitions of antinomy

n. A contradiction between two statements that seem equally reasonable

Type of:
contradiction, contradiction in terms

(logic) a statement that is necessarily false
Antimony is a chemical element with symbol Sb (from Latin: stibium) and atomic number 51. A lustrous gray metalloid, it is found in nature mainly as the sulfide mineralstibnite (Sb2S3)Antimony is a chemical element with symbol Sb (from Latin: stibium) and atomic number 51. A lustrous gray metalloid, it is found in nature mainly as the sulfide mineralstibnite (Sb2S3)
For some time, China has been the largest producer of antimony and its compounds, with most production coming from the Xikuangshan Mine in Hunan. The industrial methods to produce antimony are roasting and reduction using carbon or direct reduction of stibnite with iron.
Coimadai (pronounced come-ida) Antimony mine is on Pyrete Creek, a tributary of Goodman’s Creek, about 15 km NNE of Bacchus Marsh. It consists of two lodes, Draper’s and Bondison’s. The deposits were discovered in 1887 and worked intermittently until 1915, then operated again between 1942 and 1944.
The deposits occur in Lower Ordovician sandstones and slates. The lodes occur in fault zones in intensely sheared rock. Today, collecting is on the dumps and along the creek bed. Permission is required as the area is in a water catchment.

Coimadai is a rural locality 10 km north of Bacchus Marsh and 48 km north-west of Melbourne. It is immediately west of Merrimu Reservoir and is situated in the valley formed by the Pyrete or Coimadai Creek which drains southwards from the Lerderderg hills. The creek valley provides the route for the Bacchus Marsh-Gisborne Road.

It is thought that the name is derived from an Aboriginal word describing an old male kangaroo at rest.

Coimadai school was opened in 1862. The Pyrete Creek had intermittent antimony mining which caused the population to fluctuate. The original village was on a flat area and had a hotel, church and a creamery. In addition to the mining there was a limestone quarry and magnesium springs. Coimadai was described in 1903 in the Australian handbook:

A hall was opened in 1925 and was destroyed by fire on the morning after the Antimony Ball in 1937.

In 1969 the Merrimu Reservoir was completed, inundating the village. The school was above the western edge of the reservoir. There are extensive remnants of the limestone kilns, one of which operated until the 1950s. Limestone was extracted for agricultural purposes until the next decade, when the land was resumed around the Merrimu Reservoir.

The primary school had 53 pupils in 2014.

Coimadai’s war memorial, avenue of honour and recreation reserve are on the road to Diggers Rest.

Coimadai is a rural locality 10 km north of Bacchus Marsh and 48 km north-west of Melbourne. It is immediately west of Merrimu Reservoir and is situated in the valley formed by the Pyrete or Coimadai Creek which drains southwards from the Lerderderg hills. The creek valley provides the route for the Bacchus Marsh-Gisborne Road.

It is thought that the name is derived from an Aboriginal word describing an old male kangaroo at rest.

Coimadai school was opened in 1862. The Pyrete Creek had intermittent antimony mining which caused the population to fluctuate. The original village was on a flat area and had a hotel, church and a creamery. In addition to the mining there was a limestone quarry and magnesium springs. Coimadai was described in 1903 in the Australian handbook:



Coimadai is near Bacchus Marsh.

COIMADAI. (By Anders Hjorth.) At the request of Mr. A. B. O’Hara, postmaster and State school teacher in Coimadai, I have tried to compile a record of that place; from the earliest days of settlement up till now. If from the information I have obtained there should be some errors, it is not my fault—I have given them as I got them. In drawing on my own recollections, I have tried to present facts as I found them, and as they impressed me. Among those who have contributed information in connection with the earlier days, I have to thank Mr. M. McDermott, through his son, Mr. Luke McDermott, Mrs. Tilly, Miss R. McCarthy, and Mr. Joseph Bennett. Although this record may not be of much interest now, it may in future years become interesting to the descendants of the early settlers. In imagination, I have often tried to form a picture of what to-day is known as Coimadai was like, be fore and immediately after the re- treat of the great antarctic ice age, which once covered the southern parts of Australia. But I have had to give it up, as not having sufficient geological knowledge to form a representation of that in my mind. In Coimadai, indisputable traces of glacial action is evidenced from the striation of rocks fronting the creeks, immediately below Mr. J. Wightman’s residence. Were the immense lime deposits then in existence at Coimadai? or were they yet in process of formation, sub- merged in the ocean depths, awaiting an upheaval in the progress of time? On one of the hills overlooking Coimadai are extensive deposits of rounded water-worn quartz pebbles, bearing evidence of what time must have elapsed for those originally, sharp-edged fragments of quartz to be rounded into their present shape, through frictional contact, by the action of water. As for the origin of the name Coimadai, or if it had any meaning, I have, not been able to obtain any information, but am inclined to believe that it is an aboriginal appellation, by the similarity of the last syllable to Gundagai and Woolomai. Coimadai, having been rich in native game, and fish in the creek, was no doubt a favorite camping ground for the, blacks, and traces of their ovens, or kitchen-middings, proves this surmise.
Laying in a depression, and surrounded by hills of volcanic lime- stone and sandstone formation, the detritus and sediments from those hills, supplied the flats with elements of great fertility, in places to a great depth. By what I can learn, when the first settlers came to the place in the fifties, Pyreete Creek, from Coimadai and a good distance below it, had a very shallow course, consisting mostly of a chain of water holes, something similar to what the Boggy Creek, east of Coimadai, presents to-day. The Pyreete Creek, in its former shallow course, left in flood time rich alluvial deposits for a good distance below Coimadai. With settlement and cultivation the forest growths were removed, and the roots of the trees on the creek, which formerly held the soil together, as well as the removal of the debris accumulated under the trees, which in heavy rains prevented the rapid flow of water, roads and cattle tracks caused a greater rush of water to- wards the creek, and a combination of those causes scoured out, deepened and widened the bed of it in places to the extent of 20 feet. During heavy and continuous rain the log fences, constructed from the timber cleared off the land for cultivation, were swept into the raging torrent of the creek, and the ponderous logs, coming into contact with its banks, added to the crumbling away of those. The bridge built in the sixties, across the creek, got its back broken by the accumulations against its supports of piles of big logs, brought down by a flood. The advent of the rabbits added their quota to the enlargement of the creek, by burrowing and undermining its banks. In the block of land known as Doubleday’s, there are several small depressions, which formerly, at all times of the season, contained more or less water. At present they never hold any, no doubt owing to their drainage by the deepened creek, which is only a few chains distant.
In 1862, I had occasion to call at Coimadai, for a couple of bags of lime. Shortly after leaving Toolern I entered on a very devious track, through primeval but not dense for- est; found the kilns, in the front of which there was a small cleared space, but looking west, towards Coimadai flats, the vision was interrupted by a forest of gum and box trees, undergrowths, and reeds. I have often tried to form a theory accounting for the presence of fossilised bones embedded in the rocks of the limestone quarries at Coimadai. At Cooper’s Creek, N.S.W., before its outlet to Lake Eyre, are found large deposits of bones of a fauna, now mostly extinct in Australia, the greater portion of the bones giving evidence of having formed parts of animals much larger than those which at present occupy the continent. In the accumulation of those bones an explanation has been sought by the hypothesis, that in the remote past, the animals now only represented by their bones, have in a periods of prolonged droughts become debilitated by want of food and water; when after a while, torrential tropical downpours swelled the rivers, such as the Thompson, the Barcoo, and others, and inundating the extensive level country on their lower ridges, sweeping those enervated animals into and drowning them in the raging streams, becoming eventually deposited some distance from the ingress of Cooper’s Creek to Lake Eyre. Now, as we know very little of the contour of the southern part of Australia in bygone ages, might it not have been possible, that under similar climatic conditions as those which caused the perishing of the fauna in the vicinity of Cooper’s Creek a big river and its confluences, might not here have swept the animals then existing on its watershed into the ocean, where, through countless ages, they became embedded in the ooze of lime-producing marine organisims, to be uplifted afterwards, either by volcanic action or other submarine disturbances, to their present position. Of course this is only a theory of mine. Through the kindness of my son-in- law (Mr. A Allen) who has been working in the limestone quarries at Coimadai, I have obtained several fossilised bones of various dimensions, some of them being very large—big enough to have belonged to some gigantic dinosaur of the past. The soil west of Coimadai is mostly all the result of volcanic disturbances; to the north, in what is called The Basins, the rock and soil formation is mostly granitic, with a few basaltic outcrops, which also occur on the eastern side of Pyreete Creek, adjoining sandstone country. A very remarkable instance of volcanic action in our neighborhood, is a patch of basaltic rock and soil, about 30 feet square, in the centre of an elevated sandstone range, known as Jerry Burke’s hill, originally Collier’s Range. A good many years ago, when I first noticed this patch of volcanic soil, it was solely covered with kangaroo grass, surrounding it was all low scrub, interspersed with tussocky grass, since the advent of bunny the kangaroo grass has disappeared, and only red rockstrewn soil now meets the eye.
From what can learn, the first white man to make Coimadai his domicile was a Mr. John Hopgood, who lived in a hut on the left bank of the creek, opposite to what is now known as the sodawater spring. That was somewhere in the fifties. Mr. Hopgood was also the discoverer of the lime deposits which were at first worked in a small way by him and his soils. After a while, the Messrs. Browne, Gamble and Munroe got possession of the deposits, and worked them on a larger scale, supplying the Messrs. Cornish and Bruce, contractors for the construction of Mt. Alexander railway, which was then building, with a large quantity of lime; that would be about 1860. Between 1860 and 1863, about 50 men were employed, in the various vocations connected with the burning of and carting away of the lime. A local squatter, (Mr. Brown) appears to have man- aged the works at the kilns. After a while, the company dissolved partnership, and Gamble sold out to his partners for £1000. Immediately after he opened up a lime deposit on a hill opposite, which is now known as Mr. Burnip’s. Mr. Gamble did not seem to have stayed long here, but meeting Mr. Burnip at Bendigo he informed him of the existence of the deposit, which, with the block it was on, was secured by Mr. Burnip. It seems that, about the middle sixties, Brown and Munroe, abandoned their interest in the lime kilns, which were afterwards for some time worked spasmodically by F. Gulliver, sen., and his sons, as well as by Mr. T. Hop- good’s sons. The output mostly went to supply local demands. In the seventies, a Mr. Blair, owner of limekilns near the Heads, on the eastern side of Port Phillip bay, got possession of Coimadai lime deposits, but, from what I can learn, he did not display much activity by increasing the output. In the eighties, Mr. P. Alkemade, a native of Holland, who had a good deal of experience as a builder and contractor, as well as of opening up lime deposits in other parts of the State, obtained possession of part of the quarries. At that time things were commencing to boom in Melbourne, through the influx of borrowed money; a number of ram- shackle buildings were demolished, to be replaced by palatial structures. Mr. Alkemade, being an active, energetic, man with insight to the future, managed to get capital by floating a company, increasing the number of kilns, and fronting them by what was, for the locality, an im- posing structure of rubble masonry. The company was floated under the name of The Alkemade Hydraulic Lime Company, and inaugurated in bumpers of champagne and other joy conducers. As Mr. Alkemade had only got possession of part of the deposits, a Mr. Debly took up the other part about the same time, and also fronted his kilns with rubble masonry, and porches where the burned lime could be drawn in all weathers. Those porches, in after years, when Mr. Debly had abandoned his portion of the quarries, often became the abode of non-residential employees of the Alkemade’s, who were, by “Rambler,” in one of the local papers, designated as “cave-dwellers.” During the building boom in Melbourne, things were correspondingly booming at Coimadai, and a considerable number of men found employment in the various vocations required for the production of and getting away the lime, which, after being carted to Bacchus Marsh, was railed to Melbourne. In 1892, the boom collapsed, and the output at the kilns gradually declined, and ceased altogether as far as the Melbourne supply was concerned, a few bags went weekly to Bacchus Marsh, mostly carted by Mr. P. Alkemade, sen. When coming home one evening, the. dray in which he was seated capsized, and fell on him, rendering him unconscious. He was brought home, and expired, after lingering a few days, still unconscious. The output having now almost become nil, with no immediate prospect of mending, Mr. Alkemade’s four sons (Cornelius, Robert, Peter and John) bought all the company’s interests, price I do not know. They managed gradually to increase the output, by supplying other parts of the State, as well as Melbourne with lime, which had by this time got a good reputation. Year by year the business kept extending; production having also been cheapened by the introduction of various labor saving appliances, and the turning out of a first-class article suitable to builders. I understand that the weekly output now averages from 600 to 700 bags. Mr. Debly abandoned his part of the quarry when the boom burst. In the quarry to- day, consisting of a great pit, I am informed there is yet any quantity of stone to be obtained. The first settlers to obtain land on Coimadai flats were Mr. Win. Bennett, Mr. D. Bower, Mr. Geo. Burnip and Mr. F. Gulliver. I do not know under what clause of the Land Act they obtained their first holding, about 30 acres each. Evidently they were attracted by the opening up of the lime deposits, as, in 1861, Mr. Bennett, before he got his block, had a small store, with a wine licence, a little below where the hotel now stands. Mr. Bennett came here, from Cockatoo Gully, where, during the rush for gold in that gully, he had a bakery and store. Later on, he built a substantial brick hotel, which he enlarged during the boom. He did not run the store long, but started a bakery, being a baker by profession, his sons assisting him; after a few years the bakery was closed down. Mr. Bennett was of a jovial disposition, a typical conservative John Bull. Over his bar he had a framed inscription— “As man has proved to be unjust, I do not care to give him trust;.my care to-day is no man’s sorrow; then pay to-day, and I will trust to-morrow.” For thirsty souls, who did not always have cash, he would oblige them by the barter of fowls, eggs and butter. Passed on, at the patriarchal age of 94. His wife, who had been a trusty companion to him, predeceased him by a good many years. I do not know where Mr. D. Bower came from to Coimadai. His first residence was near one of the swamps, opposite Mr. R. Alkemade’s present residence; later on, he re- moved to nearer the road and the bridge, where he had the first post- office, and ran the mail three times a week, to and from Bacchus Marsh. Afterwards he ran a tri-weekly mail and passenger coach to Digger’s Rest, the running of which ceased when the Ballarat railway line was completed, and the mails to Coimadai were despatched from Melton, via Toolern. Mr. Bower was of an energetic, if somewhat sanguine, dis- position, and assisted in futhering and developing the resources of Coimadai. He opened up a mineral spring on his property, erected machinery, for the treatment and bot- tling of its water, and forwarded the product to Melbourne, but did not seem to have taken too well with the public, and the attempt to establish a trade in that direction was abandoned. He was the first to introduce the lucerne plant to Coimadai, and he also planted weeping willows and poplars round the swamps. Sometime in the seventies he sold his property to Mr. Blair, owner of lime deposits at the Heads. I do not know the price, but the same property was afterwards bought by Mr. Doubleday, for £25 per acre; sold again in later years to Mr. R. Alkemade, for £35—a proof of the fertility of the soil, which, with irrigation facilities, would have been greatly increased. [1]
COIMADAI. (By Anders Hjorth.) No. 3.
In the early days, before the Py reete creek had attained its present depth, the crossing of it was not at all bad; but as it was getting deeper a bridge was constructed in the six ties by Messrs Cuthbertson and Watson, which has, with one exception during a big flood, stood the occasional strain up till now. Among incidents of tragic occurrence in Coimadai, I may mention the drowning, in the sixties, of a little boy named Joseph Holt, in the sight of his schoolmates, while bath ing in a waterhole above the bridge. Mrs. Blincho, a resident north of Coimadai, coming from the Marsh late one dark night, somehow got out of the dray in which she was riding (must have got lost) wandered up to the lime quarries, and fell over the steep embankment, and was next. morning found dead at the bottom of the quarry. A hut in which an old man, Charley Anderson. lived as caretaker for Mr T. Cain’s property on the Deep Creek, was one morning (in the nineties) found burned to the ground, only a few charred remains of the old man being left. In the early seventies, a: Mr. Parington’s child, about four years old, was lost from our place. She was only ab sent about a quarter-of-an-hour, when search was made for her, but the then pretty dense scrub seemed to have swallowed her up. This occurred one afternoon in the month of October. Several of the neigh bours scoured the immediate vicinity that evening and night, without getting any trace of her. The loss of the unfortunate child soon be came known, and a number of people made a systematical search for her for a week, but all in vain. Some years afterwards a few bones, having belonged to a child, were found near a hollow log, nearly on the summit of Collier’s range, evidently the remnants of the lost child. A neighbour of ours, Mr. G. Hogg, sen., was, while driving milk to the creamery, coming down the hill to the Boggy creek bridge, when some of the harness gave away; he collided with a strong post, was thrownout and rendered unconscious; remained thus until a few days after the accident, when he passed on. In the sixties, a boy named Michael Conway, 7 years old, rambled away from his home into the Deep Creek ranges, and was lost for five days; eventually he came out at Mr. Crow’s place, near Gisborne, not much the worse for his exposure. In the seventies, a Mr. Hines came across an antimony outcrop, north of Coimadai, near the Pyreete creek. It was opened up, and exploited with varying success, off and on by different persons and companies. Antimony being a very elusive metal, with great fluctuation in value, the mine was never in continuous development; but, like an other antimony deposit near our place, only mined when the metal was dear. At present both are idle. In the late sixties, several dry years having succeeded one an other, there was great agitation in the Marsh about doing something to relieve the situation, through storage of water for irrigation. Coimadai was one of the sites chosen for a reservoir, and a survey was made, but somehow the project fell through. Coimadai was twice threatened with devastation by bush fires. Coming down from the ranges, fanned by a strong north wind, the fire entered Mr. Burnip’s property, destroyed some of his log fences, but its further progress was stayed be fore it crossed the main road. Concerning the political aspect of affairs, in the early days of Coimadai, a good deal of interest was dis played, and feeling sometimes ran very high, especially when Mr. G. Berry, the then Liberal leader, was at the zenith of his power, con ending against the Conservative elements in both Houses. There were a good many staunch and sterling democrats about Coimadai in those days, and the political aspirants often used to address the electors in Mr. Bennett’s commodious barn, repairing afterwards to the hotel, where non-supporters as well as supporters of the candidate, would indulge freely in the liquid refreshment provided by his more prominent backers. In the boom period (the early nineties) when the octopus railway was to the front, Coimadai, in con junction with Toolern and Bullengarook, also came forward, and demanded to-get a loop line from Holden or Bydenham, skirting Toolern and passing- through Coimadai to Bacchus Marsh. Preliminary surveys were made, but there it, ended. I remember, at one.:crowded open air meeting at Mr. Bennett’s, where the project was discussed and pressed forward, in conversation with a farmer from Toolern, I disputed the paying results of tile line. “Never mind,” he replied, “the money is going to-the devil, any way; and we may as well have a share of it.”
In the eighties and nineties, some of the residents in and about Coimadai became notes for the successful raising of pure-bredstock. Fore most among those, and the most successful exhibitor (taking both champion and first prizes at the Melbourne and local shows) was Mr. W. Jeffrey, in the Basins. He attained to a high standard in breeding Leicester sheep and Berkshire swine. Mr. J. T. Burnip, R. Allan, and J. Bourke were to the fore with Ayreshire cattle; Mr.• Martin Cosgrove. with Jerseys; Mr. T. Bourke, with Clydesdale stallions. Mr. W. Jeffrey was also a successful exhibitor of bacon at the local shows. During the first flush of expan sion of the limeworks, in the sixties. Messrs. M. Conway, R. Wynne and MacDermott, under miner’s rights, resided successively on the flat, fronting the kilns, but when slackness again prevailed, they went further afield. Mr. S. Grant (Mrs. Burnip’s brother) next took up his residence on the flat, but later he selected here a few acre, and built a nice little cottage. He obtained his living mostly by working at the kilns, for the farmers, and for the Council. I think it was in the eighties that he sold his land to Mr. Blair, and went to town. The land was after wards acquired by Mr. J. Johansen, a Norwegian, and since his demise has been in occupation by his sons. Another old identity who made Coimadai his domicile for several years was Mr. Andrew Jenkins, a somewhat querulous but honest old bachelor. He got his living chiefly by splitting fencing and trapping. Occupied a hut cast of Debly’s kilns; and, if I remember rightly, he died in the Melbourne hospital. His hut was afterwards occupied by Mr. John Harvey, also a bachelor, who had formerly been in the carrying of dairy produce line but some injury to his back made him abandon it; lived here a few years, but becoming very crippled, was conveyed to the Benevolent Asylum, where, I believe, his health has improved remarkably. [2]


This is a link to the 1943 maps of the Antimony mine at Coimadai.

Foreplay as Food

I have recently become a subscriber to the culinary producers of Marley Spoon.

Tonight, as the previous couple of nights, I prepared a meal that will become one of the best dishes my limited yet enthusiastic kitchen skills have produced.

However, I must reach a little further back to describe a story I read several days ago in which a man was being seduced by a desirable yet unattainable woman. Maybe not seduced, but certainly toyed with.

The man was making a meal for them both and described the food preparation process as foreplay.

First, he must imagine the recipe for this delicate seduction so his selection of ingredients was the first overture, much like a man would spy a prospective mate in a crowd and decide that a conquest was in order. He might ask her to share a drink or engage her in conversation, tickle her fancy, make her delicately sweat in anticipation of what might develop, as the dance of taste and texture slowly moves forward.

The preparation of the fresh and aromatic produce, sliced and marinated is the means to an end, the need to concentrate his efforts in skilfully but deliberately making certain the ingredients are masterfully set astride the chopping board as they await their own participation in the main event… as the first kiss and a promise of things to come.

Heating a pan and melting some butter to sear the protein is the next deliberate step in this story. Once the food has been committed to fire, the woman is in trouble because the man knows, beyond doubt, this is a dish that will seal her conquest. The plating is not merely a small part however and the man knows that if he misses a single step, the process will be flawed and he cannot allow this to happen.

So, if the selection of ingredients, his skilful preparation and the deft delivery at the table is the foreplay, then watching her melt with the acknowledgment of his easy grasp of superb food is sublimely and surely, the act of penetration, her senses sated with the pleasure and spent with her contentment.

Later, while she is helping herself to the other parts of the cook who has mixed her into a sweet and delicious desert, the man decides to commiserate the fact that tonight he dined alone, yet hopes that soon enough he would have another chance to make the same meal for anybody that shows even the slightest interest in his Pea and Ham soup.

In Search of Captain Roy Downie

I was in Tasmania a few weeks ago, around the end of June 2017

As I had just turned 60, I was feeling a bit sentimental with regards to my own mortality so I decided to see, as I had been promising myself for years, the place where my father had been lost at sea, 55 years earlier.

Captain Roy Downie was a Master Mariner of the old-school variety. After a significant career with the CSIRO Fisheries he built his own 50-foot fishing boat, the “Gondwana” in the yard of our home at Triabunna in Southern Tasmania. He was fishing for crayfish and was expected home early September 1962 after leaving Dover Tasmania on the 23rd of August. His own story is one of a fisheries pioneer and will be told in greater detail, later.

It had always been suggested he was lost near an Island off the South coast of Tasmania called Maatsuyker Island, or Dewitt which is also in the same location. I had always thought Maatsuyker was halfway between Tasmania and Antarctica, but I had, through a bit of lazy Google Earth gazing, discovered that the rocky outcrop was indeed only a few kilometres off the coast… never the less, it is completely unreachable by road and the couple of people that monitor the remote weather station, are serviced only by helicopter. I searched for a boat charter that went down that way but was unsuccessful so on a whim, I flew down to Hobart and proceeded to have a look at the possibilities.

I went down to the fabulous Constitution Dock and walked into the offices of tour operator Rob Pennicott who runs “Wilderness Tours” with a fleet of 13 high speed power boats. I spoke to the receptionist about a possible tour and my motivation for doing so and before too long Rob came out of his office and met with me. He explained there wasn’t an operator in Hobart that runs to Maatsuyker, because apart from the distance, it’s a dangerous place. Ferocious weather, rain and huge seas made it an uncomfortable destination, for most of the year. However, he had overheard the story of the loss of my dad and as a man of the sea himself, we sat down and planned a one off run to Maatsuyker Island.

With his most experienced skipper Mick Suter, use of the boat, fuel and insurance costs, he offered to do it for $2,500. Not a small price. He even contacted two helicopter tour operators and they each quoted way over that mark for a flight down that way. So, I gave it few hours thought, called my old mate Pauly for a his usually sage advice and went back and laid down the plastic. We were scheduled to leave the next morning at 7am. Rob also added the services of deck hand and tour guide Jamie King and in the early light of a crisp Hobart morning, we headed off.

First stop was Kettering, to add fuel.  At Kettering, we also added another crew member, Kate Wilson. Her usual job with Pennicott tours is take groups of tourists to Bruny Island. She moors in a safe and beautiful bay, dives for lobster, oysters and scallops, prepares it all on deck and serves it up to the tourists on board with Champagne and other Tasmanian goodies. She does this daily, a handy person to have in a wilderness. The boat hammered down past Bruny Island, around the Southern tip and on to Maatsuyker for about the next three hours.

On the way down, dolphins joined us by leaping out of the water at the bow of the boat, we saw solitary birds that were hunting for a seafood breakfast and several other working fishing boats. The sea was for the most part calm but became rougher as we approached the Southern tip of Tasmania. The boat was a superb Naiad, custom built for Pennicott tours. It’s a comfortable and fast power boat well suited this kind of work. Eventually the Island came out of the horizon and we could pick out other features as well such as The Needles, Flat Witch, De Witt Island and Maatsuyker itself.

Mick, the skipper explained that this group of islands is in the current that is generated by the continental shelf, which is right off the coast in that area. He showed me a topographical map of the sea bed, courtesy of the state-of-the art navigation panel on the boat. Flotsam and Jetsam often gets caught in this formation and it was quite possible that my father was lost further out to sea and the ropes and buoys that were recovered during the initial search were simply caught in these rocky outcrops. The others had been here before at one time or another. Mick the skipper had been here many time as a commercial fisherman and Kate had hiked through the rugged wilderness on the mainland but they all jumped at the chance to be a part of this trip.

The Islands are beautiful, rugged, foreboding and dangerous to the uninitiated. The forecast had indicated unusually good weather and we weren’t disappointed. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, we could gently motor around the whole island, getting close enough to easily pick out seal colonies and old mooring points, long unused. We came slowly around to the South West side of the island and drifted gently in the relatively calm water. I was in awe of the solitude of the place, the beauty of the vegetation and the ruggedness of it all. I thought of the possibility of my father colliding with this island or the other rocks and I was lost in contemplation at the solitude of the place.

The skipper Mick, then offered a most memorable gesture. He said that his wife had suggested we couldn’t do this trip without a symbol of the solemnity of the moment. Mrs. Suter had the evening before, made a wreath from Tasmanian ferns and other native flora. A simple thing and eminently suitable for the moment. The others watched on as I muttered a few words then dropped the beautiful wreath into the water off Maatsuyker Island.

I now believed that the proximity of the islands to the mainland offered up a myriad of possibilities for the loss of my father’s boat. No one will ever know for sure what happened in 1962 but for a man of the sea that my father was, this place, with its ferocious location in the sea and its proximity to our fabulous Tasmania, I think is a fitting and beautiful place to spend eternity.

We eventually powered up the boat and headed to the mainland to a sheltered cove and a bite of lunch. On the way over, the deck hand Jamie King offered me another tradition. He handed me a shot glass of aged Sullivan’s Cove, a famous Tasmanian Scotch whiskey and suggested that a moment like that, needed a stiff drink to follow and I did, relishing the taste and savouring the honour of being in the company of such fine people in such a mysterious place. The trip back to Hobart was no less interesting as we could be closer to the rugged cliffs of the mainland. Jamie King and Kate Wilson gave me detailed information about the geography of the jagged coast interspersed with anecdotes of their own experiences on the water and life in Tasmania in general.

I look forward to my next return to Tasmania. I have a more contented feeling now, a sentimental feeling of connection to the Maatsuyker Island and a memory that will never leave me.

Mercury 4

Mercury 3

mercury 2

Mercury 1

Ernest Stern. An old mate.

I found this letter I had written to Ernest “Butch” Stern several years ago. Butch owned a restaurant on the Great Ocean Road at Aireys Inlet, Victoria, right on the Great Ocean Road. It was the Aireys Lighthouse Restaurant.

My mate, Dean Kennelly and I had moved down to  Aireys Inlet after cashing in our lives in Melbourne. We bought an incomplete 32 feet steel hulled sloop and put it on a boat building property at Sunnymeade beach in Aireys. We were going to finish building it, then sail off into the sunset for a life of swashbuckling adventure, just like Alby Mangels had done several years before.

Late in 1982, Butch offered us both jobs, Dean as a dishwasher, and myself as a “meeter and greeter” as he liked to call us. I loved it and Dean liked it as well, so well that he ran off with Butch’s girlfriend at the time… This is all the stuff of another story that may or may not be told, depending on inducements or other threats and promises…

Here is the letter from July 21 2012, as I peeled it off Facebook this morning.


I was in a unique situation tonight. I was reminiscing about things, life in general with a lovely friend after a fine meal and several glasses of New Zealand’s finest sauvignon blanc..

Questions were asked, answered, topics interspersed, moods changed brought on by more wine, followed by sweet ports with coffee.

There I was, poised to fiddle the cork from a bottle of Tokay when I was transported back to Aireys Inlet, 1983. Probably after a night in the front room of the Aireys Lighthouse restaurant, maybe it was post fire. I was jolted to realise that we met each other nearly thirty fucking years ago.

When the calendar clicks into July/ August 2012, this will mark the time that Dean and myself arrived in that not so sleepy hamlet.

We had arrived with a flourish. Two young men with a 30 foot steel hulled yacht, plenty of ambition and big brass balls. Soon to be realised by the locals that we weren’t cashed up rich kids but bones of our arses dope smoking layabouts with a raw talent for excessive drinking and pretty damn hungry for any kind of strange Michael that presented itself.

After ripping the cork from the fresh chilled bottle of Portugals  finest, I described with passion, my very first night as a “meeter and greeter” at the Lighthouse restaurant. Picture two rather delicious, slightly older young ladies dining together. I attended their table and enquired as to their needs. “Can I get you ladies, anything else?” was met with the immortal and never to be beaten reply of  “when are you going to start seducing your customers?”

I realised at that moment that if waiting on tables was able to procure this fabulous result, then my career as a waiter, was secure. 

But this isn’t the important memory.

I was prompted to remember you handing me a book to read. I can almost see the bookcase that held a collection of well read paperbacks. You suggested that I read a particular book from your collection. Now here my memory is a little dull but it was either Dice Man by Luke Reinhart or Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. Doesn’t really matter. Both books were a catalyst for my future passion for literature of a similar ilk. I have recently acquired a copy of The Golden Torc, (Julian May) another of your loaned books. Dice Man is still tucked away in my bookcase along with a few old favourites like Future Shock, 1984 and others from that era.

The fact of the matter Butch, is that thirty years on, I am myself, not a writer of such important tomes but I do submit a regular column to a well known motorcycle magazine, I have in past years written a regular column for the Sunday Age and other various blogs, articles and some well received letters and emails, too many to  mention, some too personal to reproduce.

I firmly and honestly believe that writing and understanding the mechanics of the written word, the general requirements for being able to put words together in large blocks, cannot happen unless one has an understanding of how this shit works. I wasn’t  a reader at all, I can’t remember having read anything prior to you offering me those books to read.  Clearly I could read, I wasn’t a dunce, My education prior to then must have been significant enough to have enabled me to read and read well.

What is significant, is the memory of your generosity, your  interest in me and your selection of those books that shaped the future of my literary direction.

How about that?

It’s been a very long time since we have seen each other but I do relish the thought that if we did happen to bump into each other down the track, it would be a warm and wonderful occasion, similar to my best memories of that era of wine women and song.

Ahh the memories……

Olly Downie

This Bloke. A story about a great mate.

This Bloke.

This bloke has been in my life for 42 years.

We probably didn’t think when we met, that we would go on to know each other for the next few weeks, let alone the next 42 years.

From pretty much the moment we met, we had each others back, although when we met, it could have gone in the opposite direction. We met because of a turf war between our respective motorcycle gangs. Sounds heavy?

In those days it was.

There was a proliferation of motorcycle gangs in those early days in Brisbane. There were the infamous major clubs, some of them brand new and there were a lot of neighbourhood clubs. We were in our separate neighbourhood clubs and the word had spread that we were about to engage each other in a bloody war. A turf war, a battle of who drinks at which pubs.

The threat was so real that both gangs thought it might actually happen and neither clubs wanted that. We all loved our pubs and we loved other pubs in other locations as well…we were great lovers of pubs in those days. We liked riding to them with 30 or so mates and we loved spending whole days and nights in the pubs so neither gang really wanted that to end.

So Paulys brother, Gary “Billy Jack” Howes who was the President/Spokesman/Leader of the Confederates MC, decided we should come together as a group of concerned citizens and discuss this alarming turn of events. We organised a meeting at the Newnham Hotel in outer Brisbane. The pub had set aside a function room with a massive meeting room table and chairs and we all met there at this regional save-our-pubs and clubs meeting and that’s how this friendship began.  These days it might be called “dispute resolution” but in those days that’s exactly what we did, we had a dispute resolution meeting. We were starting a trend.

Pauly and me, we sat next to each other at this meeting and that evening, our 42 years long relationship started. We became mates, brothers, riding buddies, drinking partners, house mates, workmates and lovers of all things to do with pubs, girls in pubs and motorcycles…

We weren’t even 20 years old at the time, so the prime of our lives was still years ahead.

I didn’t see Pauly after that meeting until a few months later, when be both turned up at trade school on the same day. We were both apprentice carpenters and fate had decided that we would be scheduled to start trade school on the same day, in the same class.

Trade school in those days was the thing that got in the way of those long main-bar sessions at the pub near the college. Looking back at our trade school days, we must have been surrounded by very patient and very forgiving tutors.

The bike gang era was an interesting time for everyone involved. We had great times, and we had trying times. Some of our brothers died on the road, some died on the end of a needle, others just moved on. Some drifted out of the motorcycle scene and flourished, others stayed and flourished. We led exciting and exhilarating lives. The drink driving rules and the police in the old days weren’t anything like they are now.

We managed to get away with a lot of nefarious things. Nothing with any criminality involved, just risky business and plenty of booze and hooch. We were at times unruly, irreverent and unwashed but as Pauly was always quick to point out, we looked after each other and never mistreated our girlfriends. We did however, mistreat our livers and our bikes and our bank accounts…

I left Brisbane immediately after I finished my apprenticeship. I was twenty years old.

I took my final pay, bought a Kawasaki 900 and left for Melbourne within a week. It wasn’t long after I arrived here that Pauly came down for a visit and he didn’t go home for a couple of years…

The motorcycle scene was alive and well in our neighbourhood in Melbourne and we were both heartily embraced by the locals and we went on to form excellent friendships with people that are still in both of our lives.

These days Pauly is the most significant bloke I know. Because of his unwavering friendship, he is one of the few people that I can speak to about everything. We spend a lot of time in each others company and our separate personal histories are intertwined with great experiences tempered by caution, good luck and sage advice.

This bloke inspires me to do greater things. He is the one who takes the first step, breaks the new ground and sets a standard to aspire to.

Pauly was the one who recently broke the fog of despondency and bought a new house. I had been wavering between staying a renter and splurging on a massive mortgage. Pauly bought a smaller more affordable home in a cheaper suburb. I saw the wisdom of this and not long after, bought my own home, breaking the 4 years old morass of failed marriage and lost fortune.

Now we’re both renovating at our leisure instead of working like maggots to service huge debt.

Pauly decided to answer a call for Judges on the Housing Industry Association, Home of the Year panel. He was awarded the position and when his co-judge retired, he invited me to join the panel. That was about 6 years ago. Our time on the panel together has been awesome, incredible and we’re the luckiest two bastards in the room as far as we’re concerned.

Pauly called me once and said he’d just put a flag pole in his front yard… Damn, I’ve always wanted to put a flag pole in my front yard and if Pauly is patriotic enough, then I am too. Nothing controversial has happened other than a feeling of acknowledgement of our history. I probably would never have done such a significant thing unless Pauly did it first.

Pauly once said to me that a woman should come into your life to improve it, to enhance our lives. He said to ask yourself “what does this woman offer that will make my life better?”. We have both been through failed marriages so this was like a religious conversion to me, suddenly the mystery was solved…

We were working on a small project together a few years ago and Pauly said one morning, that he was going to make a play for this woman he was doing a renovation for. He had his mind made up and even though he thought he might have been aiming a bit high, he was in no doubt that this woman would be his before the week was out… That determination is typical of Pauly. No doubt, and that lovely woman, is still by his side.

We talk most about our next steps in life or about the results of past decisions, we discuss everything that a couple of old farts who have a 42 years old relationship talk about.

We talk about our own children; we are immensely proud of all of them. We congratulate ourselves often, that of all the things we have accomplished in our lives, our offspring are the most beautiful. The people that we are so proud of are the ones we’re responsible for, the ones we brought into the world.

Pauly is never short of a piece of quiet advice or an anecdote that explains a small mystery. Sometimes I don’t think about it until much later, but I can usually relate back to a conversation that we’ve had in the recent past.

Pauly can always add that one small piece of advice that will help a decision easier to make or seem more practical or just plain practical advice and we all need good advice.

I’m exceedingly proud to know Pauly and I’m looking forward to growing older with him.

We both still have plenty to offer and Pauly will continue to be my muse, my advisor, my critic.

Many people are so proud to call This Bloke, their mate.

He’s my mate and I’m a very lucky bloke.



More contacts from the past.

I recently made friends on FB with a woman from the old days in Brisbane. Jan is a friend to many of the old crew. I’ve since made contact with several other people so over the next few weeks, I’ll be able to post more info about the experiences from the days of the Brisbane Dogs MC. Jan is visiting Melbourne in a few weeks and as it’s been nearly 40 long years since we’ve seen each other, it’s going to be great. Two others from those days, my mate Pauly and Gayle will also be there.

Ironically, back in days of the Dogs, Gayle was my girlfriend for a short while and Jan and Paul were an item at the same time. Our wives, husbands and children are all behind us now while back in the day, those events were all ahead of us..

Mate Pauly was in the Confederates MC in Brisbane and how we met and went on to be great mates is also a good story. Again, as I find the time, that story will be told as well.

Why I’m Learning to Blog

This is the second lesson in the series “Why I’m learning to blog”. The task was to change my title and tags. I have done so.

Formally ollydownie, now  The Light At The End Of The Tunnel, Is Probably A Train.

A lengthy title I know. I was warned against this but I did it anyway. Clearly I’m a rebel without bounds. Ive also used caps for every word and I put a comma in. I’m not against using commas but I was warned recently about using dot dot dot (…) at the end of a sentence. I always loved using …,  because I was under the impression it caused a level of suspense or mystery. Maybe, maybe not…

Feedback most welcome.

Not Losing my Mind, Yet.


I’ve just returned from a lengthy visit with a doctor at a local dementia unit.

I passed all the tests with flying colours I’m exceedingly happy to report however it’s raised some points that I thought I’d share with my vast readership, and thanks in advance, to all three of you for paying attention..

This all started a couple of months ago while at my GP for a check up for one thing or another. I brought up the subject of tests for Alzheimer’s because a very dear friend of mine was diagnosed with early onset dementia at the age of about 52. As I’m approaching 60 (…is the new 40) I simply wanted to ask about a test or even a checklist to see if my faculties are still firmly rooted in the present and correct or if they are starting on that terrible journey from where there is no return.

My GP, a lovely woman who I’ve been going to for ages, was very proactive and asked me a series of questions over the next 30 minutes to gain a preliminary insight to my brain functions. She said that as far as she was concerned, I’m quite normal but decided to refer me to a dementia clinic, just to be on the safe side. This was a great idea as far as I’m concerned because I’d much rather be 100 percent safe in the knowledge than not quite sure.

Anyway, the test itself was more like an aptitude test or possibly an IQ test, with questions ranging from did I know today’s date and who is our Prime Minister, through to remembering a name and address at the end of the test, that was given to me at the beginning of the test. There was also a blood pressure test, reflex tests, flexibility tests, maths tests and finally a visit to a set of weight scales that were hopelessly inaccurate.

When all the test were finished we had a chat about my weight, exercise regime, diet and my level of alcohol consumption. Interestingly, my weight is the one category that was influenced by all the other categories. Alright, not interestingly, sadly.

The Doctor was keen to point out the only thing that has an effect on Alzheimers and Dementia is exercise and diet.

So I’m going to pay a lot more attention to my diet. I’ve watched Dr. Michael Mosley several times, in particular “Eat Fast and Live Longer” which offers several options for the food obsessed. The 5:2 diet was an enthusiastic rush into the S&M scene for foodies and that little book now sits, nowhere handy thats for sure…

The 880 diet has been tried but 880 calories a day for 8 weeks  is slightly worse than starvation with diarrhea for 56 days so that number is no longer a favorite of mine. I’m going for the much lauded Big breakfast, Smaller lunch and Little dinner.

And I’ll try a brisk walk around the block every night, of course I will. Another interesting finding was that the scales in my bathroom are also wildly innacurate, just like ones at the clinic…



Why I’m Learning to Blog.

This is the first lesson in a series of tasks that I’ve been set, to learn the processes on the WordPress blog site.

The reasons I write are varied. I’d like to write more, I’d like to be read and have my articles commented upon. I guess to be recognised as a valuable contributor to whatever topic I’m contributing to, is some kind of validation of my experience and skills.

I recently wrote a long running column in a motorcycle magazine called Heavy Duty. This is a Harley Davidson enthusiast magazine and although I had owned several Harleys over the years, I had just bought a Victory motorcycle. This brand of motorcycle were brand new in Australia, having opened the doors on the fabulous Melbourne dealership in 2011 and as I knew the owner of Heavy Duty magazine, I simply asked him if I could write a Victory column.

He agreed, and as the Victory parent company Polaris, advertised in the magazine, we thought it would be a great adjunct.

I went on to write the column “Victory Speech” for about 4 years. I also managed to write several test ride articles for the magazine over this period. All my contributions to the magazine were gratis, except the very last article, for which I was paid $100.

Prior to this, in 1992, I was invited to write a column in the Sunday Age. This column was called “Tool Time With Olly Downie”. This was where my skills as a residential building contractor were called into action. I had at the time, recently renovated a home for a woman who was a sub-editor of the Melbourne based “The Age” newspaper. She asked if I could write. I quickly decided that I could, having just successfully written to the tax department, asking for a fine to be disallowed. As my request was successful, I naturally based the decision on my literary skills, less so on the argument that the reason for the fine was unfair…

However, she asked me to write a thousand words on the subject of what would I suggest to a new home owner, to assemble as a home tool kit, the contents of “the bottom drawer”.

After spending an afternoon with a staff photographer, that first article was published with almost no corrections, into a weekly publication with hundreds of thousands of readers……Many more articles like this followed.

This is the nub of my writing career, if it can be described as a career. I haven’t really made any money apart from my small stint with the Sunday Age. I enjoy writing, I love the challenge of belting out 1000 words with a 2 hour deadline. I thoroughly enjoy the satisfaction that comes with a well written piece. There are many more small stories to pen and I assume that many more will come with this fundamentals blogging course.


The Brisbane Dogs MC

The Brisbane Dogs Motorcycle Club

I’ve moved this over from another site, Blogger. All of it has come over but some of the comments may have been lost in the process.

I have heard from a few people that knew of the Dogs or were involved over the years and I will try and locate some of the posts and messages . The Blogger blog was a bit temperamental to use. I’m not exactly up to speed with wordpress but it seems to be the one to use. I’m seeking advice and some opinion so don’t be afraid to comment and offer either advice or more information. I look forward to your input.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I was a member of the Brisbane Dogs Motorcycle Club in 1974 – 1976.
The exact length of time I was in the club and the actual dates are not 100% clear but that was the approximate time.
I was about 18 at the time and most the other members ranged from 18 to their mid to late 20’s. The president at the time, was James Devlin.

One of the Devlin brothers, of which there several, James was the most charismatic and certainly had leadership skills and the qualities needed to be the leader of a gang of teenagers.
We all drank too much, smoked weed, rode our bikes too fast and had to deal with all of the consequences of our actions.
The other Devlin brothers also had their fair share of charisma.
Dibbles ( not 100% sure if that’s right) or David, was a leader of the pack in the school yard. That’s where I first met him.
I had been transferred to the Macgregor high school in Brisbane’s outer suburbs from Balwyn High School in Melbourne. My mother had re-married and her new husband had been transferred to Brisbane to open a new branch office.
The first day at my new school was”formative”. I was put into a nearly all boys class. There was one average looking girl and later in the year we got another girl, definitely an above average chick who, upon being thrust into our midst, must have wondered what she had done to deserve this lot of smart arse little bastards.
At lunch time I noticed the all the usual suspects race down to a spot blow the school oval, shaded from view by a row of trees. I guessed that down there was where all the action was, so I wandered down there to have a look. Sure enough, there was Dibbles, holding court and smoking a cigarette with all the attitude of the Marlborough Man. They said shit, there’s the new kid, and at that, I produced my own pack of cigarettes and was immediately accepted as a rabble rouser and brother ne’er do well.

The first one of all my new mates in Brisabne to get a bike, was Dave Grant. He was the oldest and we all used to hang out at his place after school, smoke, bullshit and pick on any poor girl that wandered past.
Dave bought a brand spanking new Yamaha TX650.

This is me and Dave Grant. Dave is on the right.
This was taken sometime around 1975

These were the Japanese answer to the dominant Triumph, Nortons and BSA’s motorcycles of the time.
There wasn’t a lot of choice in those days. The Honda Four had only been around for a couple of years, but the Yammy was a real prize.
The Dogs had been a club for a little while before Dave got his bike, but as it was the neighborhood gang, it was kind of expected that he would start hanging out with them. Not long after Dave got his bike, I bought my first road bike, a Yamaha TX 500 8 valve twin. It was second hand when I got her, but she only had 500 Klms on the clock. It was still under warranty.
I bought it off the brother of a school mate. I don’t remember why he sold it, but I took it back to the dealership where he bought it, and they gave it its first service. During the service, the apprentice who was working on it, let it vibrate off the work stand and it fell onto the floor, damaging the bike but also chopping off the finger of the poor apprentice who was working on it.
The dealer fixed the bike, but I never heard what happened to the apprentice or to his finger

Hi there, i know this is an old thread but i was an original member of the dogs – fist sergeant of arms – voted in – James was president – George was VP? – other members:
Unsure of some peoples real names…Colin and Chris Folley
Barry ? (smelly)
Dave Balcom (monkey)
Edward Gilligan (waard)
Noel Harker
Ken Sharp
At the time there was approximately 30 members, memories are a bit vague but more talking on the subject would help. Have got some photo’s would be great to catch up with some old stories?
PS Ollie, skeeta asked if you remember Fiona Luton??

cheers, Billy   Nov 2012

Sorry for taking so long to reply to this.
I woke up this morning and for some weird reason, this blog was on my mind. I just set up a Facebook page for the Dogs as well. Brisbane Dogs MC.
I also wrote a reply just like this one that promptly disappeared when I tried to post it…..
I do remember Fiona. She was my girlfriend for a very short time.
I remember that she took me home to meet her family. They were mortified that that she had brought home a Member of the Dogs…..
I remember as a beautiful young woman. I remember a camping trip we went on together with Pauly from the Confederates and his girl Jan MacDonald.
Jan had a brother in the Dogs, Duncan MacDonald.
Its amazing as I’m writing this, names keep flashing up.
I’m going to try and get this whole thing going again. I had some great contact from past members but I never really took it any further.
Lets hope this doesn’t vanish again…..   Sept. 2015

The Members – Dave Grant

Dave lived around the corner from Monkey and Me.
He was a couple of years older than us and was the first to get his license, a car and his bike.
Dave lived in a downstairs part of his mothers house. It had its own entry and for a long time it was the gathering place for all of us younger guys. It seemed that half the neighborhood used to stop in there after school or work, have a couple of smokes before going home. I became a part of this group when I arrived from Melbourne and quickly became good friends with Dave. A group of us would always be doing something at his place. He had an old FB Holden Panel van, it was purple and he hotted it up as much he could afford to. One day we nicked one of his mothers lace table cloths and gave it a “lace” paint job with a white spray paint can.
We used to push his mothers car out of the garage in the dead of night and drive down to Coolangatta on the Gold Coast, do a U turn at the border and drive home again. Probably full of piss.
I and probably most of the other blokes learned to drive in his old purple van and a group of us developed a leaning towards bikes at the time. When I was 15 or 16 and still at school, I joined the Surf Life Saving club at Pacific beach on the Gold Coast. It was there that I met John Jerrins, a mad bikie. He had a Kawasaki Mach 3, a two stroke rocket and sometimes he  took me down to the coast on the back of his bike. It was maybe his influence that steered me towards the bikes, maybe the radical element sub culture thing was another influence.
Dave bought a brand new Yamaha TX 650. It was bright green. The Brisbane Dogs, being the local MC,  took a keen interest, not only because Dave was a local lad but because the more members the club had, the more prestige and cred the club had. There were several other clubs in the neighborhood at the time.
The Confederates, a bigger membership than ours, had two chapters, the Northside Crew and the Southside Crew. More on the Confederates later.
There was a club called the Dogs and Daughters. I met the president once and from memory he was a charismatic and good looking bloke with a mysterious air about him.
The 2nd Foundation was a club from around our way but they came and went pretty quickly.
There were others but the names are too distant memories. I dont know what became of them.
The Rebels, The Finks, the Black Uhlans and the Hells Angels where a major force in Brisbane at the time as well but the smaller suburban clubs like ours went fairly quietly compared to the press these big outlaw clubs got.
You have to remember, we were all really young, probably the second generation of bike gang members in Australia. The Old Guys from my memories, were in their 40’s, revered and notorious.
Anyway, Dave joined up with the Brisbane Dogs. I cant remember when this was and I cant remember in what order, but I joined at about the same time along with Monkey and a few other locals.
Dave met the love of his life, Jeanette, during this period and they are still happily married with 2 adult sons and grandchildren. Dave was by no means a violent or radical man. He was placid, I cant remember seeing him angry or in a fight and I know he rarely broke the speed limit. Like all of us, he drank a lot and smoked but I dont think he smoked anything other than Winfields.
When he and Jeanette were married, I was his best man and I have a photo somewhere of us in white suits and long hair. Dave was out of the club by then.There will be a distinct lack of pictures from this era. Although a lot of stuff was photographed at the time, I lost all my albums in the Ash Wednesday Bushfires in 1983. Occasionally, I will get a few pics from someone going through an old album, but none specifically of the Dogs, or not yet anyway.

The Members – Dave “Monkey” Balcombe

Sadly Monkey is with us no more. He died early, at about 42 years of age.
I lost touch with him after I left Brisbane in 1978. He lived with his family across the street from me in the Brisbane suburb of MacGregor.  We hooked up the day my family moved in to our house and became really good mates.
I finally got in contact with his family about ten years ago. I was thrilled to be chatting to his mum and dad, Lenny and Gloria Balcombe who are great people. After about 5 minutes of catching up, Lenny said “I s’pose you’d like to talk to Dave? unfortunately Olly, he died about 6 months ago”. He was coming home from a party somewhere, he was a passenger in the back seat of a car. He fell asleep, no-one paid any attention to that, but he never woke up, just slipped quietly away. That was how I remembered Lenny telling me.
After all the times I had tried to track them down, I was 6 months too late.
I haven’t heard from Lenny and Gloria since. I will get a bit further into this Blog and try and contact them again.
Monkey became good mates with Michael “Stevo” Stevenson and Stevo kept in pretty good contact with Len and Gloria.
I heard that Monkey had been married and had at least one child. He had a younger sister as well, Annette.
Lenny Balcombe owned a fleet of trucks and he bought Dave a Triumph Bonneville. Dave was a lunatic on that bike, but he could ride it fast and it handled well and that helped. I remember once we were on a run and the bolts came out of the front mud guard and it rolled forward over the front wheel. Not much traction after that happened, and about a dozen bikes went down in that particular spill.
Later on, Lenny got him a Honda Four, an ex cop bike. He was a loony on that as well. He painted it and put on a “Harley” back wheel, a 16 incher with a “wide” 130 tyre.
One night coming back from a piss up somewhere, he hit a wet patch in a bend on the highway and aquaplaned off the tar at about 100 miles an hour and hit a tree. That didn’t kill him, though it did fuck him up pretty badly. I remember that his head hit the tree so hard, all the fillings in his teeth fell out, and a dentist had to visit him in hospital to fill his holes back in before he could eat properly.
I distinctly remember the Honda after that prang, there were bits of the tree protruding from the crankcase.
I also remember one day we visited him in hospital after that prang. There was a kid in there who was driving a car that crashed, killing four of his mates. Those must have been painful days for the Old folks.
We did crazy things in those days. Death defying, out of control, booze fueled and all of the Gods must have been on the look out for us.As This blog grows, more or less of these stories and memories will come to the surface and maybe people will see the blog and want to add to it.I recently recieved an email from Caroline Abel, the daughter of  Dave Balcombe. I will post the email she sent me here, as soon as I can find it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Clubhouse

We had a clubhouse somewhere in Beenleigh. It was someone’s rented house but the Dogs all used to meet there once a week.
The first time I went there, there was a heap of blokes there, all about my age, all half pissed and full of bad manners. I can’t remember anybody specifically at the first meeting, apart from James Devlin.
I probably went there with Dave, possibly Stevo (Michael Stevenson) and maybe Monkey (Dave Balcombe)
The club had a weekly fee, from memory it was $2 a week from each member. Not a lot of money these days but the mid 70’s it was plenty. A pack of cigarettes was less than 50 cents so compared with todays money it was around $40.
The money was used for beer and I’m not sure what else. There was a club secretary and a Sergeant at Arms.
One of the secretaries was holding the money collected from dues, we were also having meetings at his house, in the downstairs area, common in houses in queensland.
He “lost” the club money and  was excommunicated from the club, his father had to come down and break up the fight.
I remember the club President at that time was George. He took over from James. I don’t know why James quit the position, possibly he was sick of looking after a bunch of belligerent children. I don’t remember any ceremony or voting process. Someone can probably fill the bit of info in later