It’s Great Being an Aussie

One of the great things about being an Aussie is, er, well, being an Aussie.

This piece from the Northern Territory News called, Why I stuck a cracker up my clacker really sums it all up!

Nothing more to say really other than … C’mon Aussie c’mon!

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Historycon Adelaide 2013

I received the following from Mal Wright and reproduce here for those interested – start planning your holiday in Oz folks!


The Committee of HISTORYCON ADELAIDE is pleased to invite wargames clubs or players to attend and present a public game at the Drum Roll wargames Convention to be held as part of the Old Reynella Historical Festival, March 9th to 10th 2013. The convention will take place in the Old Reynella Community Hall.

Accommodation deal is being negotiated to assist long distance visitors.

It would be appreciated if the clubs could advise well ahead if a game to be run so that it can be advertised in advance and that it can be mentioned in publicity releases. Also if it will be a game that visitors will be invited to take part in. It is possible that more than one game can be fitted in, but it would be appreciated if these were of each of a different type.

Please also note that games of a War-hammer type will be coordinated by Norm Blunden and if negotiations currently underway succeed they may have a large building of their own next to the hall.

Drum roll will be held in the OLD REYNELLA COMMUNITY HALL. Set up is available from Friday afternoon at 3pm. Tables are available at the hall. There will Be no charge for clubs to participate.

This convention is to be part of a very large Historical Festival and will be promoted by the S.A. State Government and the City of Onkaparinga Council. It can be expected that it will be attended by exceptionally large crowds as there will be considerable publicity surrounding the entire event.

Clubs are invited to take advantage of this opportunity explain the hobby to the visitors, to promote themselves and recruit membership. Handing out club information leaflets is encouraged and we are trying to provide an area where visitors can see a listing of clubs in S.A. Their location and general game interests.

A dinner will be held on Saturday night March 9th. It is expected bookings will be heavy and early reservations will be necessary. A member of our committee is coordinating sources from which uniforms and clothing of the era can be hired for those that Require Assistance.

If any people attending are also re-enactors or have uniforms for that purpose, they are invited to take part in the street parade. If so they should advise so that it can Be Passed on to Chris Thompson from Reenactors SA who is coordinator of that event.

HISTORYCON AUSTRALIA is a non profit organisation specifically set up to run an annual convention and to offer assistance if requested, to clubs that wish to run events themselves. HISTORYCON is not a wargames club itself and its constitution is only to act as a coordinating body for wargames clubs.

Old Reynalla Festival of History 2013

2013 is the year of ‘BACK TO OLD REYNELLA’. Bypassed by the South Road extension some years ago and now by the new Southern Freeway, Old Reynella has a strong place in the history of South Australia and has retained much of its old charm.

The historic wine cellar built by John Reynell in the grounds of the old Hardy’s Winery 1838-42 is the oldest in Australia. The very granddaddy of them all in the history of the Australian wine industry, which has grown to be one of the most important in the world.

Its grounds include many historic buildings and even a quaint old National Trust preserved multi story pigeon loft.

The Hardy’s buildings and many old buildings in Old Reynella, such as the St.Francis Winery, were worked on by a stone mason who had fought at the battle of Waterloo. Many of his workmen had fought with the Duke of Wellington in the Spanish Peninsular against the forces of Napoleon. An ex Prussian soldier from Waterloo settled on the Panatalinga creek and his descendants still live in the area.

Old Reynella hosts a recently restored Cobb and Co changing station that serviced state coaches carrying early settlers to the areas south of Adelaide. Alexander house has been restored and there are many other old houses going back to the early days of settlement, including the old school and post office.

The old Oval is spacious and has large sloped verges for spectators and provides a large capacity to hold visitors for a special event. There is a community hall with history of its own besides more modern additions. The main street is wide and well paved. There is even a wonderful model railway club layout near the bus exchange.

But despite its old history the Old Reynella of today hosts a major bus exchange for the southern region of Adelaide, making public transport access from the centre of the city very easy. Along the length of its main street, from one type of business to another it hosts a remarkable number of large car parks capable of holding visitors coming to the area by motor vehicle.

The new Reynella boasts two supermarkets, a mall under completion, the historic Woolcocks department store, food shops, an excellent Indian Restaurant and a very popular Chinese restaurant.

Old Reynella Festival of History has much to offer and its easy to get there.

Events to be Staged

2013 is the 200th anniversary of the BATTLE OF LEIPZIG. Also known as THE BATTLE OF THE NATIONS. It took place after the disastrous retreat from Russia in 1812 and was fought by the FRENCH of Napoleon on one side against the combined armies of RUSSIA, AUSTRIA, PRUSSIA, SWEDEN and BRITAIN.

Across Australia we have many people involved in the hobby of war-games, which involves fighting battles on a tabletop scenery, using model soldiers. There are also many groups that dress up in uniforms of many era’s of history…even science fiction and hold parades etc.

Already set Activities:

Massive model Soldier re-fight of the battle of LEIPZIG 1813 (The Battle of the Nations) (Old Reynella Community Hall busy room)

Other model soldier battles as well as science fiction games. (Old Reynella Community Hall)

Warhammer model battles. (Old Reynella Community Hall)

Military History re-enactment SA parade with uniforms and historic vehicles. (Main street)

Restored Old Cobb and Co building. Blacksmith demonstration & display.

Restored Alexander house open for viewing.

Noarlunga Model Railway club premises open for public view. (Premises near the bus exchange)

Art exhibition. Local artists. Maritime and other art.

Military re-enactors conduct mock battle with old black powder muskets and cannon

Reenactors will set up a camp in area yet to be designated, but true to history.

Dress dinner in the costume of 1813 at a winery. (Adults only) We have a coordinator who will be able to advise on uniform hire. (Negotiations ongoing with the old Hardy’s cellar but we are also discussing it with St.Francis as they can fit in more people.

Local School displays showing the History of the region and its pioneers.

Period costume competition (open to shopkeepers and public)

Lions club mini fair including arts and crafts stalls.

STATIC DISPLAY of the following with possibly the Krupp firing as mentioned but it will also require a corporate sponsor. 3 x Krupp WW1 75mm guns and limber (1 fires gas/oxygen and is spectacular)1 x 25 pounder WW11 gun (black powder firing) 2 x 4 pounder guns (Napoleonic era),1 x Hotchkiss 3 pounder, German MinenwerferMG08Vickers MG.

Military vehicles from the SA Military Vehicle Museum parade down the main street with re-enactors

The Ambassadors and dignitaries would take the salute of the march past of vehicles and re-enactors.

Southern Vales Wineries display and tasting.

Possible activities. (still being negotiated)

Nine Mile Snipers club demonstrate the firing of 25pdr guns. This will require a corporate sponsor as it costs $30 per shot! Also need Government permission to fire them.

Napoleonic re-enactment group from Melbourne to attend. (part of the Council grant being applied for).

Schools will be invited to participate with dressing up and history displays.

Also contacting the RSL and the Naval Association re involvement.

More events are being added all the time.

The Ambassadors of the countries involved in the Battle of the Nations have been invited to attend the event and the costume dinner.

State and Local Government will handle most of the media promotions. The festival will take up the whole of the main street of Old Reynella and many of the buildings. Government will arrange road closure for the parade etc.

Latest on the battle to save HMVS Cerberus….

Back on December 8th, 2008, I posted about a 1.1200th scale model that was available about HMVS Cerberus. I also mentioned in that about the battle to save the real Cerberus which is currently ruasting away ion Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne. There has been an update to the real ship and the following comes from the Friends of the Cerberus.

At the monthly meeting of the City of Bayside Council last night, Council decided to advise the federal and state governments that Bayside wishes to proceed with the bracing of the Cerberus gun turrets. Before the recommendation to Council was discussed, Peter Tully and I spoke for three minutes each. We stated our position that Friends of the Cerberus appreciated its close working relationship with Bayside and urged Council to accept the recommendation before it and Save the Cerberus. That all seven councillors spoke in favour of the motion was encouraging as were the comments made regarding the importance of saving Cerberus. Councilor Frederico summed up our view regarding the letter from the federal heritage department which she described as hilarious given their proposal that photos in an interpretive display somehow made up for allowing Cerberus to collapse. Councillor Hayes also took on board the irony of both the Commonwealth and St ate Heritage departments suggesting doing nothing and allowing Cerberus to collapse.

What was particularly pleasing was the gratitude expressed by councilors to Friends of the Cerberus for our work in campaigning to Save the Cerberus.

Councillors Frederico, Norris, Hayes and Mayor Cooper-Shaw all strongly expressed their gratitude. My suspicion is that the other three councillors, who also supported adopting the recommendation, were also grateful but it had all been said by the time that they spoke. The recommendation that the bracing proceed was passed unanimously. Council will now formally lodge an application for a permit to complete the bracing project.

For those who don’t remember, the City of Bayside is the legal owner of Cerberus as well as the project manager for the bracing project.

In summary, after the meeting both Peter and I were greatly encouraged and confident that Friends of the Cerberus in conjuncion with the City of Bayside and the National Trust will be able to convince the federal and state heritage bodies to reverse their opposition towards bracing Cerberus.

Friends of the Cerberus ask us to keep the letters going to Federal Minister for Heritage Tony Burke:

The Hon Tony Burke
Minister Heritage
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
Tony.Burke.MP@aph.gov.au

and the Victorian Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy:

The Hon Matthew Guy
Minister for Planning
Level 7
1 Spring St
Melbourne VIC 3000
Matthew_Guy@parliament.vic.gov.au

Write, call, email, support!

Last Man Standing – an almost successful bank sting

I wrote this some time ago, and held it as a draft whilst I checked some information (no, not the location of the lap-dancing club) and had not got around to posting it – it has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while. I thought I should put it out now anyway as it is a bizarre story

FROM their headquarters at ”Teflon” Tony Vincent’s lap-dancing parlour in Market Street, members of some of the country’s most notorious crime families planned one of the most audacious bank heists.

Read more: Guilty: last man standing in $150m sting from the Sydney Morning Herald.

The first thing I should note is that I never realised that I had a lap-dancing club as a neighbour – in fact, even now, I cannot think of where it might be. Market Street tends to contain shops, office buildings, the State theatre (can’t recall any lap-dancing there at the James Blunt concert recently) and the Shelbourne Hotel. No clubs that I know of.

Still, the story itself is fascinating. Crime syndicate sets up a sting operation in conjunction with a Telstra technician to steal $150 million from JP Morgan Chase Bank by wire transfer to accounts in Greece, Switzerland and Hong Kong and is only caught out when a bank in Greece queries a $71 million transfer because “Ltd” is added to a personal account.

Now I know I need to search and read more about this – I am sure there is a screenplay in there somewhere. One of the characters in the real story is a “Mr Pink”. Interestingly, Mr Pink is also a criminal in the Quentin Tarantino film Reservoir Dogs. Our Mr Pink is not related to Quentin’s Mr Pink.

As I uncover more, I will most certainly write it up here.

Occupy Melbourne

As readers of Thomo’s Hole would know, I rarely comment on political issues (or indeed bag my employer, my potential customer base and those who may well be my boss at some time in the future, shallow bugger that I am). However, the following from the Melbourne Age kind of amused me in a twisted way:

Assistant Commissioner Fontana said 150 police arrived at the square this morning but the number grew to 400 later in the day.

About 100 Occupy Melbourne demonstrators, who had camped out in the City Square for a week as part of global protests against corporate greed, defied an order to leave by 9am.

Assistant Commissioner Fontana denied police used excessive force in breaking up the protest.

"We don’t really want to engage in this sort of activity but we’re not going to back down either," Mr Fontana said.

"We’re trying to use the minimum amount of force as possible.”

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/protesters-arrested-as-chaos-descends-on-cbd-20111021-1mb07.html#ixzz1bOYY3876

OK, so that’s 400 police (plus horses and I am sure some dogs as well) to remove 100 protesters. That is Victoria’s definition of “minimum amount of force”. It will not be surprising if this grows more in Victoria as a result. Peter Fintan Lalor would be rolling in his grave I am sure.

Australian Medical Records

I went to the doctor early today. It was time for a check-up and I wanted to get a couple of things sorted out before surrendering myself to the Singapore medical system. The result of the trip was that I should see a specialist about something minor and as such, I had a referral from the doctor to the specialist.

Now, my life so far has been spent in a number of places and under a number of different health systems. As a child I lived in the western suburbs of Sydney, when the pound was still the currency king in Australia and where doctors would offer payment terms to their patients for large ticket items. This predates Medicare and Medibank by a goodly number of years. It was during this period that my eyes were operated on by Dr Tim Roland.

I then spent the later part of my childhood on the north shore of Sydney, again, with a different set of doctors and ailments, some as the result of sport and the rest from modern man’s evolution to require less of his internal organs.

Marriage followed and a number of house moves, stressful jobs and poor diet and yet another series of doctors, this time with the fledgling Medibank and Medicare in place. More surgical procedures as a result of lifestyle and diet were undertaken.

I moved overseas and bummed around quite a few countries then returned to Australia for a period of time.

Where is all this leading, I hear you ask? Well, I looked at the referral letter and except for the small surgical procedure I had performed on me in England, there at the bottom was my surgical and medical history summarised from 1960 onwards – and it was correct!

The only things missing from the Australian end were the years that I had the Appendectomy and Tonsillectomy – the operations were however listed. Everything else was there. I now even know the name of the procedures performed on my eyes by Dr Roland when I was so young – Bilateral Strabismus repair. I never knew that, just what the operation was designed to correct, what happened during the operation and the effect of the operation.

So, I am pleased to see that the main part of my medical history is now available to any doctor I see in Australia.

Well done Jeffro as I know this is the stuff you’re working on.

Commonwealth Bank – Overseas Transaction Fees

I travel. I have travelled recently to Singapore and the Philippines a couple of times. I have used ATMs against my debit card to draw cash whilst overseas. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has finally managed to bamboozle me on the fees until I sat down and worked it all out.

The first thing I should say is that I spent about an hour on the CBA website (http://www.commbank.com.au/) looking to find out how these fees are calculated. Unsuccessful. So, firstly, a summary of the transactions:

Location Date Bank Foreign Currency Aussie Dollar Equivalent Fee Charged % Charge
Singapore 11 Oct 2010 DBS Bank SGD 200 163.69 5.00 3.05%
Singapore 18 Oct 2010 ANZ Singapore SGD 100 78.03 7.34 9.41%
Singapore 25 Oct 2010 HSBC Changi SGD 200 157.67 9.73 6.17%
Singapore 1 Nov 2010 OCBC Singapore SGD 100 79.18 7.38 9.32%
Manila 13 Oct 2010 BDO PHP 8200 191.94 10.76 5.61%

I’ll admit it, I am was perplexed at this point. There does not seem to be any consistency in the charges – well, except for the ANZ and OCBC charges in Singapore. As they were so similar, there needed to be some type of consistency. The CBA is, after all, a bank and does not do inconsistency well.

I decided to make a guess and assume (yes, I know, always a risky business) that the charge is a combination of a fixed and floating percentage. So, if I guess a little and say the charge is AU $5.00 per transaction plus 3% of the transaction amount in Aussie dollars then that gives me the following:

  • ANZ – $78.08 – fee calculation is therefore $5+(78.03×3%) = $7.34
  • OCBC – $79.18 – fee calculation is therefore $5+(79.18×3%) = $7.38

So far so good. Now let’s apply this calculation to the rest of the table:

Location Date Bank Aussie Dollar Equivalent Fee Charged Fee Calculated Difference
Singapore 11 Oct 2010 DBS Bank 163.69 5.00 9.91 -4.91
Singapore 18 Oct 2010 ANZ Singapore 78.03 7.34 7.34 0
Singapore 25 Oct 2010 HSBC Changi 157.67 9.73 9.73 0
Singapore 1 Nov 2010 OCBC Singapore 79.18 7.38 7.38 0
Manila 13 Oct 2010 BDO 191.94 10.76 10.76 0

Looking  better and now somewhat understandable. However, the DBS Bank at the top of the table still had me flummoxed. It seems as though the bank had forgotten to charge the 3% variable part of the fee. Forgotten? I don’t think so. Perhaps it was an arrangement between the two banks and therefore I should look for DBS ATMs in future? Or perhaps all is not what it seems!

I remembered that for that withdrawal one of the options at the DBS ATM was to do the transaction conversion from Singapore dollars to Aussie dollars at the ATM itself and I had said yes. In that case, it must be that the foreign transaction fee charged is just a flat $5.00.

So, is the bank getting at me? Yep. sure is. On 18 October, the mid rates between Aussie and Sing Dollars were around 0.795. On 11 October they were around 0.775. The rate for conversion on those two dates was, respectively, .07803 and 0.81845. This means that there was a foreign exchange premium added to that 11 October 2010 transaction. Effectively, it meant that the total fee I was paying by doing the exchange conversion on the back of the transaction was $11.69 ($6.69 on exchange rate premium plus the $5.00 fee).

Of course, had I let this process normally, and not taken advantage of the exchange conversion at the time of the transaction, then I would have paid a fee of only $9.68, effectively saving myself $2.28.

Well, now I understand the way these fees work and I suspect you do to. Moral of the story – when the bank offers you a nice service that looks like it will save you money it will likely cost you more – it’s just that you will not be easily able to see where the costs occur. Next trip I think I will take cash out in Australia and convert that to foreign cash the old fashioned way at the bureau de change in the country of arrival – let’s see how that goes.

DBMM Cancon 2011

I decided the other day after playing a game of DBA that I would try and play at Cancon next year. Yes, I know that playing DBA should not automatically make one want to play DBMM but it did.

It was just after the DBA game that a discussion then occurred about whether it would be in DBA or another area. We then started talking about DBMM version 2 and whether they were truly better than DBMM version 1 as a rule set. Doug seemed to think that they were so I started thinking about getting a copy and playing them.

I have 5 painted 15mm DBM armies stored under the house at Mum’s so I thought perhaps I should use one of them. The first thought was to use the Visigoths or the Ostrogoths. Having two sizeable armies of them meant I could morph into many armies from around the 5th century C.E.

I then thought of my Sumerians, a large early army. We discussed them and thought they would be good for an inexperienced player to use. My thoughts then turned to the Early Byzantines, which I have had for many years now, painted but I never got around to finishing the basing on them. Then I thought of my Carolingians. These I purchased at the bring and buy stall at Colours in 2001 and have been meaning to sort, rebase and varnish ever since.

We are still discussing the army, especially as I am in the Philippines at the moment and it will be another two weeks at least before I can get to Mum’s and collected one or other of the armies (or maybe even both :lol ). In the meantime, I ordered a copy of the DBMM rules. Given the strength of the Aussie dollar at the moment, it seemed natural to buy these from the US … so I did.

Doug and I are still trading emails on the relative worth of the Sumerians versus the Carolingians. I guess at the end of it, I’ll end up selecting he army that I think I can have more fun with. There’ll be more on the progress of this later.

The Adventure of Air Travel

Virgin Blue in Australia has had a wicked time of it recently with computer problems virtually strangling their network. Today I was caught up in their problems, being delayed so long at the airport that I became a hobbit and had two breakfasts.

One of the things I got to notice this trip though was how much of an adventure flying somewhere was to many purple. As an old seasoned traveller, I’m somewhat jaded by the whole flight business but looking around the airport there were many who found it still an adventure.

Old ladies walking around and wanting to look at all the shops, old couples looking for a place to sit and grab a coffee, young kids wanting an already frazzled mum to get them something to do on the flight though it was just a one hope flight and some young guys off to Bali worrying about whether they will make their connection in Melbourne and what will happen if they don’t.

I’ve travelled a lot over the years and in some ways it was refreshing to see the excitement of those to whom air travel is still an adventure.