Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The wreck resurfaces

Wreak of the Victory 1

William James Clough came out from England as a Salvation Army Officer to work in the Wonthaggi Mines of Victoria, sometime before the First World War, and as far as I know, brought this very boat with him or made it on the long trip out here. He was my grandfather on my mother’s side and the HMS Victory has been lost from my family since his demise.

I never knew the man; he died a long time before I was bourn. Even my mother only had vague memories and a story of how he died in a motor cycle accident. This kind of endeared me to him, for as I grew up, I began a long love affair with the deadly two wheeled beasts. So I find it amazing and appropriate that I end up with, what I assume, was his prize possession.

When he died, he left my mother an orphan to be raised by older step children whom inherited all he left. As time would have it, they all did quite well in this Australian life, except my mother who suffered from a bad case of the “Cinderella’s”. So when the wreck of the Victory finally resurfaced this year and made its way into my possession, it represented all we ever inherited and an appropriate representation it is.

On the other side of the world, while William was beginning his stinted attempts at a dynasty, Thomas Scholfield my paternal grandfather was leaving a wife and a profitable business as a Cooper, to fight for his county in the trenches of France. He returned a broken man after receiving three doses of mustard gas for his trouble and spent the remainder of his day’s unsuccessfully partitioning for adequate compensation.

Eventually World War Two broke out, my father signed up to do his patriotic duty with the British Navy and ended up in Australia after serving in every theatre of war the second had to offer, including being one the first set of allied feet on Japan’s freshly radiated soil. With boundless energy he went about doing all the dirty job’s Aussies didn’t want and he didn’t stop till Cancer stopped him, all without any recognition from the British and no repat pension from the good old Aussie Services.

Not to worry, it’s all good here in the lucky country as I, being the only surviving male heir in Australia to both my Fathers clan and Williams are here to attest. The point of telling this little tale is two fold; one to inform those that don’t know that the original wreck of the Victory has been found and is looking like being the biggest find of English Maritime treasures with heaps of brass cannons and four ton of gold coins. Here’s the link and for those that are interested, after my fathers estate was settled I had another interesting item to go on the mantelpiece with Granddads model ship; a lovely original pigskin wallet, empty of course.


my fc

It came to exist at the same time as me

And was originally called a Holden FE

My dad bought one and he called it fun

The maiden voyage, the Queensland run

First photos of Wayne were at the wheel

It was then that I knew I had the feel

For beautiful cars, and the wild life

Even though it would lead to strife

Sixteen years latter I had my own

The ancient equivalent of a mobile phone

If you couldn’t hook up, with one of these

Chances are you had mange, or fleas

My best mate had one with a back

A panel van, wide wheels and board racks

Mobile freedom and a bed on the go

We had it made with flairs and a fro

Double Jay concerts and days at the beach

No party or venue was out of our reach

Girls on the make and grog near at hand

We really were, kings of the land

No car could match it for style and grace

Even though you’d get beat in a race

Didn’t mater what anyone said

Fords were only for extreme rev heads

V8 Holden’s were for Peter Brock types

We were above that and better at nights

Rolling along with Hendrix and songs

Girls in the back were wearing their thongs

If you wanted a drag my bike would suffice

Twelve second quarters at a Honda price

Would leave them crying in my wake

With all the horse power they could rake

Yep Holden’s ruled there’s no doubt about that

Believe what you want with out knowing the fact

While you were dreaming outside in the back

We were nailing it, in the old FC hack

Goin’ Fishin’

My old man worked twenty four seven

Which wasn’t bad, for a Westie Bevan

His quest for dollars became a mission

But that didn’t leave much time for fishin’

When times came around for taking a trip

The bugger was full of lies and bull shit

After thirty years or so, it fell to me

To invite him fish hunting, as a retiree

The prep was grand on a scale for us

Buy a fibreglass skiff and a trailer with rust

Patch it, paint it and put an Evinrude to match

Get the rods and the reels, a bag for the catch

A tent, sleeping bags, blow ups, the lot

Stacked in the boat not much we forgot

Sun cream, Aeroguard, hats and a change

Maps and spare fuel I cleverly arranged

Two hours north and a beautiful day

We were off-- to Tin Can Bay

But before we got there, I must explain

It positively pissed down with rain

Not to worry for we were in the car

And it fined up fast before we’d gone far

Only problem was the soaking of bedding

And that could dry out while we were fishing

So with tent set up and ship set to sail

We were absolutely sure not to fail

With Dad in the front and me in the back

I soon reeled in my first Mangrove Jack

Everything was going well as night began to fall

But there and then we realised mosquito’s were the call

Not your every day type, these ones were from hell

Big black bastards and our blood they could smell

I thought I had it covered though

Cause back to the camp we would go

Lots of repellent and a fully meshed tent

To enjoy a dinner that was heaven sent

With a six horse, flat strap, we couldn’t out run

Twelve thousand mossies lookin’ for fun

I went quite mental swinging my belt

By the time we got there, just one big welt

Left the boat in the water and run at full pace

Picked up the bedding, it looked like a race

Into the tent with no moments to spare

But a nightmare was waiting, when we got there

Midges had nested in all that we owned

Silence was shattered as both of us groaned

And the pest sprays didn’t work as they orta’

The mean little buggers drank it like water

To make matters worse, they come two abreast

Thought my father was having an arrest

I just needed some time to think

So back to the river and into the drink

We sat there up to our ears in relief

Bating our eyelids to stop further grief

But as time would have it we started to freeze

The plan was to run for it and head for the breeze

Out of the water and into the car

The windows were down so therefore no bar

It was full of bities so we had to get going

Down the track we went without even slowing

Bouncing around like two jumping beans

At least we were rid of those flying machines

All was lost and there was no going back

Calamine lotion was all that we lacked

Rolled into Gympie at quarter to five

Suffering from a bad case of hives

Waited outside till the chemist was open

He took one look at us and said “you’re gotta be jokin”

Sitting in the cafe with only our shorts

Covered in white stuff and listening to snorts

When a young Murri guy let rip a jibe

“I know were I’m from, but what’s your tribe.”

Dolphins, what dolphins?

A meditation on top of the falls

Clear as a bell I heard the calls

To sojourn in the sea of salt

An invitation to good to fault

The nearest beach was miles away

Somewhere near our Byron Bay

But a walking track was not so far

And I finished the last part in a car

On the sand at waters edge I see

A six foot closeout barring me

From entry to the glassy rack

Forming nicely out the back

I grab the board with no leg rope tied

And paddle for hell against the tide

Under lips that were pushing me

On to the bottom of the sea

My dash for the back was almost done

When looming there against the sun

Stood a briny pyramid ten foot high

Blocking my vision to the sky

To make things worse and me quite glum

My board had gone and I had no gun

Five dolphins lay readied on the crest

To speed my way and piece my chest

I dived as deep as I could go

Only to be pulled up into the show

Opened my eyes as wide as I could

Flapped my arms and patiently stood

In the wave that was ten tones thick

I was worried I would shit a brick

Five noses coming straight for me

At thirty knots and no time to flee

One went directly over my head

And two at my hands I could have fed

Two at my feet but they quickly past

A star of energy and a memory to last

Old man of the sea

Sleep wasn’t coming easy

The radio didn’t help at all

Reports of a giant swell

Building from the gates of hell

Kept the adrenalin flowin’

And I couldn’t wait to go

Down to Currumbin Rock and see

The waves that were haunting me


Mornings light was yet to shine

The wet suit drying on the line

Boards were lashed to the Holden’s rack

And nothin’ was going to hold me back


The car park full at quart to five

Everything was cumin’ alive

The line up started on the rock

Bravest souls first to drop

Into the soup and paddle out

Under brine stacked like a house

By the time I took the dive

Legends were hangin’ five


The barrelin’ section in front of the rock

Was an esky lid play pen not for the lot

Diving in there was death for sure

Paddling around the back even more


Pick up on the wrong one and expect to die

I’m telling you this and I do not lie

T’was getting bigger with the tide

Pick the set and you’re in for a ride

Back from surfers on the bus

Amidst the chunder and the fuss

Most of us were paddling, going nowhere fast

The BIG ones wasted, too far out


All of a sudden and right on cue

The Mayor of Currumbin came into view

On the tip of the rock and about to pounce

And paddled straight out, regardless of paunch

Pulled on to the Wave of the day

Freefell ten feet into the fray

Stagger a bit and grabbed the rail

In a bottom turn not for the frail


He drove up the face with awesome force

Trimmed and stood there proud as a horse

As the barrel engulfed him we all held our breath

Cause this old guy was dicein’ with death


He looked a little wobbly

As he spat out of the hole

But it didn’t matter

Style was not the goal

Gathered speed with turns of gold

Hit the lip right on the fold

Floated sideways into place

And into Lacy’s with heaps of pace


Down the line he did go

Passed the young guns and those that know

Men like that don’t come along all time

And poems about them usually don’t rhyme


So when I tell my stories now

I don’t forget the sacred cow

Of tales and memories fading fast

Or Ishmael, when tied to the mast

Was something most will never greet

Or someone they will never meet

And defiantly all but none will ever be

As brave and heroic as the old man of the sea

A day to remember

I was heading south out of Queensland and had paused to spend the coldest part of the night sucking down a bottle of Stones. This was the only way to stop the wind chill factor shakes that was preventing me from having a clean run. The bull dosser that pushed yesterday’s trees into a pile by the road was my best ally against the frozen wind because the fire wasn’t much help; couldn’t get close enough to it. Sleep finally came and it seemed only like a moment before the early morning road gang was waking me up.

On with the full face, kick the beast to life and back at it. It was a full 10 minutes before I let the tacho rise above three grand and only when the Burringbar Range was in my rear mirrors did I lift the right foot to place the segregated gear box into top gear. The touring range of my interstate tank was full and the Grafton fuzz weren’t out of bed yet, so it only seemed like a dawn breaking fart before Coffs was a distant memory. Maxville’s Iron Bridge became Newcastle’s gateway and a milkshake at the Oak wasn’t as attractive as a Hawkesbury oyster, so I pushed on towards Sydney. Just passed the Toukley turn off and wouldn’t ya know it, a creep club was blocking me. As I rounded the big right hander on to Wyong straight, I couldn’t take it anymore, I flicked on the blinker, stuck the nineteen inch Dunlop on the yellow line and before we were half way along the eighteenth fairway I was three cars behind the offending long wide load. A police escort was in front waving the on coming traffic onto the verge, when a Mac Bulldog, carting a full load of bricks, came out of the Wyong township, steered left over the railway bridge and didn’t even attempt to slow down as it turned to negotiate the verge. As it turned out rather unsuccessfully!

Here I was, perched in the middle of the road with nowhere to go and fifty ton of bricks heading straight for me, pushing a jack knifed prime mover. I had less than five seconds to live. I tapped the Mageera leaver in my right hand twice, just enough to see the tail lights of the Falcon beside me, laid into a ninety degree lefthander and gassed it off the bonnet of a Commodore up the Fords arse. As I was leaving the raised surface of the carriage way, I managed a quick look in the direction of the driver of the offending implement, visible to me through his side window, and he was ducking for cover. Boom, the fibreglass cab exploded into a million pieces as the overhanging load from the westward bound freight ripped it open like it was a can of tuna.

Back to the task at hand: I was leaving a perfectly good road surface and taking to the air between it and the wire mesh fence protecting motorists from stray white balls, I just cleared it and landed heavily in the sand bunker. That day in seventy six never left my memory, as I’m sure it didn’t the twenty odd drivers that got side swiped or the shell shocked suicide jock that crawled out of the burning wreck.

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