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Friday, April 27, 2012


Recently, when I was researching "Simpson and his Donkey" I came across several articles about Donkey Therapy.
Developed by psychiatrist, Dr May Dodd, Donkey Therapy promotes the therapeutic benefits of donkeys for physically, mentally and intellectually disabled patients.

A donkey’s gentle and affectionate nature brings a calming effect over all with whom they come into contact, and the donkeys especially enjoy their interactions with humans as well.

Donkey therapy is said to improve low self-esteem, and reduces feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Their nature acts as a type of magnet drawing people to them. This  especially applies to hospitalised people of all ages including children.

They say that donkey therapy provides a unique experience for people experiencing physical or mental distress. The lifting of a person’s spirit during donkey petting is apparently immediately visible.

People with depression, autism, anxiety, cerebral palsy, disability, and other physical and psychological conditions have been seen to benefit from contact with donkeys.

A donkey therapy program has been successfully introduced through the ANZAC Program at the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital in Victoria. They are hoping to expand the program to include the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s rehabilitation area at its Royal Park Campus, and also to the Royal Childrens Hospital.
Jimmy  the donkey , who lives at the Donkey Shelter in Diamond Creek, northeast of Melbourne, turns up to every Anzac Day service at the hospital, and makes other visits throughout the year by special appointment.

He is always welcomed as he does his rounds, wandering through the corridors.
"He lifts everyone's spirits," says Robert Winther, the hospital's veterans' liaison officer. "They all love to give him a pat."
He is especially welcomed in the Aged Care Facility where he gives them something new to talk about !

It's nice to hear that these calm, gentle creatures are being used in this way.
You learn something new every day.


All photos today from the internet.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


On ANZAC Day, Tony woke me up at 4:45 am !!

Yes, 4:45 am !!
That's about 2 hours earlier than I usually get up.
The reason for this early morning madness was a one day trip to Melbourne to attend the Anzac Day Football.

Now, before we go any further, I need to give those of you who live overseas a little background about "football" in Australia.

Firstly, the term "football" in Australia does not refer to Soccer.

In Australia Soccer is always called Soccer
 and "football" refers to Rugby League, Rugby Union or Aussie Rules.

If  you are male and come from Queensland, the ACT or New South Wales and went to a Private (fee paying) school then chances are you play Rugby Union.

If you went to a state run school you probably play Rugby League ......

and if you come from Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia or the Northern Territory you probably play Australian Rules Football (AFL)


Now, where was I ? Oh yes, we set off from home at around 5:30am to drive to the Gold Coast to pick up Sally. That's about 55 miles away ( approx one hour's drive along what is usually a very busy highway ).

I took this photo quickly through the windscreen as we drove along. It was just getting light and the day was cloudy but warm.
From Sally's place we drove to the Coolangatta Airport ( about 45 minutes ) to catch our flight to Melbourne.( a distance of about 1000 miles or 1700km ).
We had time to snatch breakfast before our 8:30 am flight which took about 2 and a half hours.

We arrived in Melbourne to 12 degrees C and showers accompanied by a brisk breeze.
( That's my kind of temperature ! )


On this occasion I can only give you a brief glimpse of Melbourne.

Because it is so far south they experience the seasons down there and Autumn is well under way.

Transport options are trams, trolley buses and trains.

After catching a bus from the airport ( the usual ripoff cost of $28 return ) we set out to walk towards the centre of the city along wet roads but no rain was actually falling.

The ANZAC Day parade had just finished and there were lots of football supporters going where we were headed.
These two friends who supported opposing teams were walking in front of us.

black and white for Collingwood - the Magpies ( or The Pies )
and red and black for Essendon - the Bombers.                       

We passed Flinders Street Station ( the old yellow building) and headed into Federation Square
with the cathedral in the background. 

Federation Square is a very modern construction

with the surrounding buildings covered in geometric shapes

We pressed on towards the Melbourne Cricket Ground - the MCG- walking along the banks of the Yarra River that winds through the centre of Melbourne.

In the distance you can just see the MCG.

We were joined by more and more people as we got closer to the MCG and when we turned around we were amazed to see how many. 

Most were decked out in the colours of their teams

Look closely at the photo below.
Can you see the MCG on the left and on the right at the top the Rod Laver Tennis Centre where the Australian Open is played in January every year?(click for a larger picture)

Here it is as we get closer.
The outside courts are all blue with Centre Court inside the stadium with its closing roof at the top of the photo.

Finally, after quite a long walk we were there.

Then it began to rain again and the glamorous rainwear came out !

We quickly went inside to find our seats were NOT under cover but we had about an hour till the proceedings started so we had a meat pie under cover and waited for the rain to stop.
On went the yellow ponchos and we were ready!

The ground gradually began to fill up and soon the ANZAC part of the day began.
Veterans of WWII and Vietnam were driven round the ground and were received with cheers and clapping as they made their way past the crowd who rose to their feet in a unanimous show of respect.
They looked like they were enjoying themselves very much.
Next came the playing of the Last Post and a minute's silence as we all remembered the fallen soldiers.
86 000 people stood completely silent.
You could have heard a pin drop.

Then it was time for the game to start.
Usually each team runs through their own teambanner but on this special day they run onto the field together through the same ANZAC banner.

Let the game begin!

In the end our team ( Collingwood ) won by ONE point !

We had a great time

then we walked back along the same route back into the city.

By then it was about 6:00pm so we walked back to the airport shuttle depot, ate a nice pizza at the airport for tea before catching an 8:30 flight back to the Gold Coast.

Eventually, our car pulled into our garage at home at 1:30 AM !

Needless to say we are both a bit weary today.
 I think we're getting old !!!

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Monday, April 23, 2012


ANZAC DAY, the 25th of April,  is a very special day to all Australians. It is the day when we remember the sacrifices made by countless men and women in defence of our country and freedom as well as helping other countries defend their freedom too.
As years go by the celebration of this day is gaining support as the younger generations embrace its symbolic nature, as it is not held to celebrate a great victory on the battlefield  but rather the emergence of Australia as a new and independent nation in its own right.
There are many stories of bravery told and retold on ANZAC Day but I thought I'd tell you the story of Private Simpson and his donkeys.

Here it is:


"It is very fitting that one of the most celebrated Diggers in Australian folklore was no Rambo who shot everything than moved. To the contrary, he was a humanist by the name of John Simpson( Kirkpatrick ) who disregarded orders, and his own safety, in his single-minded determination to save others.

Born in England in 1892, he assumed the role of bread winner for his mother and sister after his father died in 1909. In 1910 he joined the crew of the SS Yeddo as a stoker and sailed for Newcastle, Australia.
When the Yeddo arrived in Newcastle, he deserted. For the next few years he worked a series of jobs such as cane cutting, cattle droving, and coal mining always sending money home to support his mother. He then joined the crew of the SS Yankalilla. The job took him to Fremantle where Simpson again deserted.

Just 3 weeks after the outbreak of World War 1, Simpson enlisted in the Australian Army .
There was nothing patriotic in his motivations. He had heard that the Australian forces were destined to do their basic training in England and by joining he believed that he could get a free passage home ( where he probably intended to desert and join the British Army ). Unfortunately for Simpson's plans, the army was diverted to Egypt. In Egypt, Simpson was allotted to the Field Ambulance as a stretcher bearer.

Eight months later he landed at ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli. Of the 1500 men who landed in the first wave, only 755 remained in active service at the end of the day. The sheer number of casualties necessitated that stretcher bearing parties be reduced in the size from 6 to 2
 Simpson then decided that he could operate better by acting alone. He spied a deserted donkey in the wild overgrown gullies and decided to use it to help carry a wounded man to the beach. From that time on, he and his donkey acted as an independent team. Instead of reporting to his unit, Simpson camped with the 21st Kohat Indian Mountain Artillery Battery - which had many mules and nicknamed Simpson "Bahadur" - the "bravest of the brave".
The refusal to report to his own field ambulance post was a direct affront to his Commanding Officer's ego, not to mention considerations of military tradition, etiquette and discipline. For the first 4 days he was technically a deserter until his CO, seeing the value of his work, agreed to turn a blind eye to rules and approved his actions.
Simpson would start his day as early as 6.30 a.m. and often continue until as late as 3.00 a.m. He made the one and a half mile trip, through sniper fire and shrapnel, 12-15 times a day. He would leave his donkey under cover while he went forward to collect the injured. On the return journey he would bring water for the wounded. He never hesitated or stopped even under the most furious shrapnel fire and was frequently warned of the dangers ahead but invariably replied "my troubles".

For almost 24 days Simpson operated through the impossible conditions.
After seeming to gain an aura of someone with divine protection, Simpson was killed ( shot in the back ).

 He was subsequently recommended for the Victoria Cross, twice, and the Distinguished Conduct Medal though was not awarded any of these.

Despite the lack of military decoration, the wider community elevated him to iconic status. He was seen to embody the ANZAC spirit of abandonment of everything except that which is important.
While his image on stamps, medals, and currency have all helped immortalise his name, perhaps the commemoration that most befitted his character was a simple stone that replaced the cross over his grave in Gallipoli.
 It read:
19TH MAY 1915 AGE 22

(above information copied from this site http://www.convictcreations.com/)


 ANZAC Day is commemorated in suburbs, towns and cities in Australia and all over the world.
Many of these ceremonies feature a march through the streets and often these marches include a tribute to Simpson and his donkeys.

Tomorrow we're off to Melbourne for the annual ANZAC Day AFL match.
I'm told it will be a memorable day in many different ways.
 I'll let you know.



Will you just look at this !!!

I wonder if this is a universal problem.

The kids have moved out and there are only two of us living here now
so when I discovered this I realised that the kids could no longer be blamed !!


Tony received this package by courier today.
He's been waiting impatiently for it.

He's a happy fellow now.......

and the cooler weather means that we eat less salads and more of this for tea.

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