Tuesday, December 30, 2008, 06:36 AMThis Story begins in the year 1894 when a young man who was just 19 years of age sailed on board a ship into the New South Wales port of Wollongong. His name was George Ah Yeck and for whatever the reason this young Chinese national had made his mind up to "jump ship" (meaning to run away). We can assume then that George was a crew member & had decided to leave and begin a new life in Australia.
Little did he know in doing so he would never again return to his home Country of China. George was believed to have been born in the old City of Canton in the year 1875 and it is understood he was married before coming to Australia but his wife never came here.
They had a son who has had three sons of his own all of whom live in China today with perhaps some close family relatives in Shanghai.
George only lived for a short time in Wollongong and then left to move inland where he arrived to stay at Junee. This is where he set up a market garden. He would in the ensuing years become a well known figure selling his produce around town from his single axle horse drawn covered wagon.
The present day township of Junee sprang up around The Great Southern Railway that was built in 1877 from Sydney ending at Bomen just to the North of the Murrumbidgee River at Wagga Wagga. It ended there because at that time there was no bridge to cross the river, and there would not be for several more years until a bridge was shipped out from London. When a railway branch line was put in at the present day site of Junee leading to the West shortly after, a future was assured for a this town which began being known as The Junction. The name Junee an Aboriginal word meaning "speak to me" was to come later. A grand railway station & refreshment rooms were built, but it must have been a strange sight to the travellers of this time to stop at Junee and walk from the station to see just a few scant buildings that represented the town.
A natural water course through the town offered a low lying area that was of fertile silt which soon became adopted by Chinese market gardeners. They sank a well there at one place to establish a more reliable water supply and at one time later during the 1930's up to three Chinese including George Ah Yeck were growing vegetables.
The old Chinese market garden area can be found today where the Junee Wetlands exist off John Potts Drive which can also be viewed on Google Earth looking at the end of Crawley St.
Camera 29 John Potts Drive can be panned right to see an overview
Today horses & farm animals graze on the salt rich grass along the stretch of flats once lovingly tilled by the men from the Far East.
This pond being the larger of the two that exist by the Wetlands boardwalk is where the old Chinese Well was located.
Australia has had a long association with China when men came here from that country for the Gold Rush years of the 1860-70's. Many would stay after the gold ran out to contribute a great deal to the development of this country with little if any recognition.
Places like Beechworth one of the Gold Rush locations in northern Victoria can boast of a colourful Chinese history, whilst on the other hand a place called Young in southern New South Wales showed a very different side of what life could mean for the Chinese when racial prejudice got out of hand on the goldfields.
Some Chinese were here in the Junee district during the 1860's as mention is made of a hut-keeper with 3 Chinese shepherds. This information comes to us from the writings of James Pratt appearing in the Junee Southern Cross Newspaper in 1903.
During this early period of grazing sheep as no fences existed, shepherds were employed by a man named De Salis to look after the 10,000 sheep he ran on a vast tract of land at Junee. In places where there was water along the creeks, often huts were built for the shepherds to live where they had sheep yards in which to contain the sheep for any animal husbandry practises. James Pratt makes mention of one such place on the Houlaghans Ck saying : "The White used to instruct the Chinese in English every night, so that after a time they could read and write. However the white & one Chinese slipped off the books while there and are buried side by side on the land" Simply meaning the White and one Chinese died.
During the year of 1937 now at the age of 61 George Ah Yeck packed up all his worldly possessions & left Junee in the dark of night moving to Bethungra a small village to the North East along the railway line. This was a result of the Council deciding to charge him for water he used on his gardens. George having decided the cost of this water was to high so it was preferable to leave.
I went to see Old Keith Duck now 90 years of age who remembers George well. He is seen here drawing a map of the Chinese gardens recounting with a broad smile this time in Georges life when "He did a moonlight flit !" as Keith put it to move to Bethungra... This expression is used for a person who moves location suddenly without telling anyone usually at night to escape having to pay an outstanding debt.
We don't know if George had a debt or just wanted to move.
Keith remembers George as a spritely man who was always on the move even in a quick way when walking and would gallop his horse with covered wagon down Broadway one of Junee's main thorough fares. Keith said George even fed his horse tomatoes and can remember the horse being red with tomato juice right up to its eyes from feeding on them in a bucket.
One of his favourite memories comes from his Mother who said when he was a baby she left baby Keith in a pram outside the family Butcher Shop and George came along and much to her alarm picked Keith right up out of his pram to give him some kisses. He also remembers as a youngster that at times when his Mother did not have enough money to pay for the vegetables George would write what she owed him in pencil on the paling fence of thier house. After the days work selling his produce George would be seen heading back out to Bethungra after dark with a lantern on that would be swinging beneath his wagon.
Once again George located his gardens along fertile creek flats near to the Highway at the northen end of the village but this time wih the added benefit of water flowing. Having relocated to Bethungra which is halfway between Junee & Cootamundra, George began to sell his vegetables into that town as well.
In 1974 George celebrated his 100th birthday a year to soon, when documents were found later it was discovered he was only 99... One intrigueing aspect of Georges life in Australia was that he was never naturalized, so one wonders why it was he was never deported.
The following year after a bout of pneumonia he went into the Mercy Hospital in Cootamundra. The Wagga Wagga newspaper The Daily Advertiser ran a story on June 24 1981 about George who was described as being the most senior resident of Cootamundra celebrating his 106th Birthday which he did in style & spirit which belied his many years.
George Ah Yeck who lived in Australia for 88 years was to die in the care of the Nurses with whom he shared lots of laughs with a little over one year later when he passed away on the 28th of June 1982 aged 107.
He is buried at the Bethungra Cemetary and his grave can be found there today located away in a corner.
The little galvanised building that was Georges home at Bethungra is still there today much as it was & reveals very much a simple home life. A few scant reminders can be seen along with a motorised rotary hoe that must have made Georges work much easier in those later years.
Some years after Georges death the asphalt roadway to Cootamundra beside his market garden area collapsed. Some who were present to re-construct the roadway say there was a huge cavernous hole under the road. Not all that far inside the fence from this hole was the well that George used...I have the thought that perhaps someone may have dug a tunnel from that well across under the roadway to get some of the creek water diverted into that well.
This puts a smile on my face and reminds me of the expression used here in Australia
"If you dig a hole deep enough it will come out in China !"
Many thank's go to the people who helped in the research for this Story
Yvonne. Keith. Russel. John. David. Ian. Leo (Manki). Eileen.
For further reference this link will take the reader to part of the Golden Threads project.
The Chinese in Regional New South Wales 1850-1950 a book by Janis Wilton
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008, 05:05 AMThe harvest for 2008 is now over for the Wagga Wagga district but continues in other areas of the south east farmland areas. I managed to take some video in the same field as the other GPS Cropping depicting the sowing, but due to the nature of harvesting did not manage to film at the exact same location as I would have liked. The clip in this video taken from within the harvester cabin is on the same run but short of the other site....Other parts of this video were filmed in an adjacent field.
At the time the monitor in the harvester was showing a yield of 1 tonne to the Hectare which is one quarter of what is normal. The wheat weight was good with a high protein level of 17% & despite the dry finishing conditions from lack of rain, the screenings (meaning small grains) was less than 3%. So, all in all the farmers were happy with this despite of course the very low yield.
In essence all this means another roll of the dice will take place again next year and already farmers here are putting this year behind them & looking forward to the next as farmers do.
The Video can be viewed at : http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=oq9tKmppl
Note : This address has resulted in a mal formed url so enter myozspot at the top of the page to source video clip Last Roll of the Dice.
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Monday, July 7, 2008, 08:02 AMThis has been a term which has come up a lot so far this year in these times of uncertain seasonal rains. A term used by both farmers themselves & the media alike to describe yet another year finding us in southern Australia in a much drier than normal Winter.
The Autumn time of year when Summer North West cloud bands are bringing down moisture from the tropics has faded away with the lower temperatures. Now for the Winter cold fronts from the Southern Ocean should be sweeping across the lower continent bringing life giving rain events lasting several days at a time.
Such was the cycle as I have seen over the last 30 yrs until the mostly dry hot Summer returned & like clock work all was repeated until the 7 to 10 year Walker Circulation ( El Nino ) returned. Then 1 year of Drought took place before this cycle passed repeating all as before.
This Entry was intended to be one of Adventures again in the theatre of travel like visiting the Fortress in Quebec City in Canada but this will have to wait as much has happened at home & seems of more importance right now.
Recently we have seen flooding in the U.S. State of Iowa reaching biblical proportions, 12 of the 22 Provinces in China being flooded & here in Australia heavy rains caused havoc along the East coast. More importantly for those living in the inland of south east Aus the rain still remains spasmodic at best & brief in nature. Almost daily we hear something more of what the adversity of Global Warming is going to do to Aus rainfall. Reports are handed to the Gov on how to deal with these changes from various scientific organisations or individuals regarded as experts in thier fields.
One damning in these last few days from the C.S.I.R.O tells of how our largest inland river system the Murray-Darling is on the verge of dieing.One Newspaper headline going so far as to say this is our National Shame. It was said unless something is done by Oct it will be too late to save much of the soils from permanent damage to rising salts in the lower lakes of the Coonong where the water meets the sea. Inflows to this two fold river system are at an all time record low & dam levels in the mountains remain precariously low.
Farming practices has seen 60% of river water flows used by irrigation...So what can be done one wonders when the Prime Minister says he is not God & can't make it rain.
Today is the 1st of November & it seems the Government has given up trying to save the Murray-Darling River System. The latest statement from the Bureau of Meteorology's National Climate Centre reports the drought in south-eastern Aus continues to break records, while northern Aus recieves above average rainfall. The Bureau's Head of Climate Analysis, Dr David Jones, said the lack of rain over a number of years continues to be at, or near, record levels over many parts of southeastern Aus. Dr Jones said there are few signs that the drought in south eastern Aus is letting up. "It's been eight years since we last recorded widespread, above average rainfall across inland eastern Aus, including most of the Murray-Darling Basin. That was in the year 2000. "Since the drought began, Victoria alone has missed out on nearly two years worth of normal rainfall. "Whilst similar periods of drought occurred in the middle of last century, this has also been the hottest drought on record, adding to the impact". Dr Jones said.
Despite the Government spending huge sums of money to buy back farms with water allocations & water allocations alone for returning to the rivers there has been no rain & therefore simply no water to return. It now seems inevitable that the lower lakes at the mouth of the Darling River being Lake Alexandrina & Lake Albert will be flooded with sea water in the new year as the only option left remaining.
New South Wales is expected to produce an average crop for this year, however much of this production will be in the northern part of the State as south of Cootamundra to the South West is drought effected area.
This link below will provide a video insight to planting Winter cereals in May of this year. All that remains now is to perhaps take another video at the same place during December being harvest to know how this particular crop finished for 2008.
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Friday, March 14, 2008, 05:43 AMThe coastal weather at Juneau over the two weeks of our stay had been misty rain with some nice days. We were told you just never know what is going to happen & that was exactly how it went. The day temperatures were pleasant though & nights good for sleeping once one got used to the lack of darkness.
Some things came as a surprise though for Summer weather like fog & hearing for the first time ships fog horns which I thought was a great experience !
On one occasion at 4 in the morning I woke to the steady humm of what I took to be a ships engines...Indeed it was by the blaze of lights coming along. I quickly put on my shoes & whizzed out still in my pjyamas. One could liken the light at this time of night to being moonlit so it was not difficult to find my way closer to the shore for a photo. I made it just in time as two cruise ships were steaming by quietly on thier way to Juneau where at any one time up to four or more can visit in a day.
One nice benefit of weather like this was to take walks along the shore line to see what wonders one could find at low tide.
I was always under the impression you could pick up starfish, well not so as these ones were tough leathery & stuck fast to the rocks. Sometimes in groups with the seemingly touching gesture of arms around one another
Large army ponchos are not only good for keeping you & your camera dry but also for making out like a rock to get a photo of critters by the water.
It was easy to imagine Bears were lurking in what seemed to us a surreal world in the Woods...We were assured none were there so that may have accounted for so much Bears Bread fungi being evident ?
It was very much like an Enchanted Wood from a Harry Potter movie as Bald Eagles would soar between the trees screeching a sound seeming very ancient. On windy days with rain they could be found sheltering back in the woods where it would be surprisingly calm down below the canopy of the tall trees. As much as I tried they proved too elusive to get near for a photograph. One major problem being it was not so easy to walk as the cover of ferns were about waist high & blocked ones view of where to put your feet amid the fallen debri of which there was plenty. There were Deer but none were seen save thier tracks one morning in a patch of sand.
Just across the water though it was a different story on an Island that holds one of the highest populations of Bears in the World where life for a Deer no doubt would hold a totally different meaning.
Pam & Gene related to us the story of when a Deer Hunter from Juneau decided to go to this Island to hunt. Having shot a deer he was packing it out over his shoulders to the shoreline where his boat was moored... There are no roads in this part of the world so you either go by boat or plane. This hunter then became the hunted when he was attacked from behind by a bear intent on having that venison for itself. This left the poor man almost scalped in the mauling that ensued & bleeding from some 80 punctures wounds from being bitten. Pam (who is a fully trained Nurse) & Gene heard his two-way radio message for help & were first on the scene to administer First Aid. Later a rescue helicopter would come to air-lift him out to Juneau where he would recover & still lives today.
When a nice day arrived it was too good to pass up for an outing, as the sea was calm & the morning skies clearing to sunshine, Gene suggested we take a run in the boat to the picturesque Native fishing Village of Hoonah about 1.5 hrs away.
The day was becoming more glorious by the hour so as to reveal that picture postcard scenery that Alaska is famous for, not long into our journey in the waters passing by some Islands we encountered a pod of Killer Whales
We had stopped & were drifting to view them when the Male of this pod surfaced, turned straight towards us & slowly dived in line with our position. Gene at once said "Stay away from the edge of the boat these whales are very good at plucking seals off rocks !"
Looking about me I had the same thoughts as the man on that fishing trawler in the movie "Jaws" ....This boat was not big enough !
Genes brother Tim had told us the story of once when he was a kid fishing off Retreat Point in a little skiff with a friend, when a male of a Killer Whale Pod circled thier boat with its eye out of the water looking at them. They banged the bottom of that boat with whatever they could to frighten it off !.
This performance was not to be repeated for us as this Killer Whale did not appear again for some time & then only at a distance once again with the pod.
The backdrop for Hoonah was of high peaks where the greeness was in places broken to bare earth where landslips had taken place & where Forestry had in its own way tatooed the land.
Fishing provides many a living in Alaska & Hoonah has had a long association with this having a Cannery established there in an era now long past....Today that Cannery is a Museum & a very good one too!.
This fishing boat is seen making its way to the harbour which today has a lesser fishing operaton but can boast a wonderful new Marina, to whom some I think see as a best kept secret getaway.
It was here on the pier at the old Cannery Museum we met a real life movie star !
Wow I was so impressed & it just goes to show one must have a camera on you & at the ready at all times.
After having a wonderful lunch of what else but fish & chips with salad we had to make the dash for home while the weather held.
It was changing with the sky to the West darkening somewhat which meant it would not be so pleasant out here later in the afternoon.
Nearing home & moving in closer for shelter from rising seas along a shoreline we happened apon Humpback Whales doing what is termed "bubble feeding"....In this action a group of these whales will dive down & then proceed up in a circle movement releasing air in the form of bubbles to make a bubbles wall within which Herring will be concentrated.
Herring are the prefered diet of these Humpbacks Whales to put on fat which will see them through on the long journey they will later take to Hawaii. Having made this circle of bubbles the whales then arrive at the surface with mouths open to take in as many herring as possible ...In looking more closely at some of my photos a few lucky herring can be seen falling back down in the water spill from the rise of these gaping mouths.
Gene & I were to later study the maritime map of this site & whilst these photos show the whales to be very close to shore the waters here were in fact some 800 feet or 242.4 Metres deep.
All good whale days come to an end & so did ours just in time with the arrival of more rainy weather but I don't think the whales minded one little bit.
For whale watching at Juneau Alaska see the website below for Harv & Marv & be sure to tell Jay I sent you....He is also a great authority on the bird life & anything that moves !
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Friday, February 1, 2008, 10:07 PMThe pathology test was very good indeed, the resection was very good indeed so right now Dr Teo feels there is not an immediated need for radiation. He feels we should only use radiation when forced as it will not be kind.
The Proton Beam treatment is being investigated further.
If we do not go in that direction we monitor every 3 months with MRI.
I'm all for that !
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