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Post Info TOPIC: Today in History


Guru

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December 08 Today in History


Gday...

1542  -             Mary, Queen of Scots, is born.

Mary, Queen of Scots, also known as Mary Stuart, was born on 8 December 1542, daughter of Mary de Guise of France and James V of Scotland. When her father died on December 14, the baby Mary became Queen of Scotland but James Hamilton, Duke of Arran, served as regent for Mary. Mary's mother wished to cement an alliance with France, so arranged a betrothal for the young Mary to France's dauphin, Francois. At age 6, Mary was then sent to France to be groomed for her future role as Queen of France, which she took up in 1559.

As the granddaughter of Margaret Tudor, the older sister of Henry VIII of England, Mary Stuart was considered to be the rightful heir to the English throne. This was over Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, whose marriage was not recognised by many Catholics in England because Henry had unlawfully divorced Catherine of Aragon. Mary Stuart, in their eyes, was the rightful heir of Mary I of England, Henry VIII's daughter by his first wife.

Francois died on 5 December 1560, and Mary's mother-in-law, Catherine de Medici, became regent for his brother Charles IX. Mary Stuart then returned to Scotland to rule as Queen, but did not recognise Elizabeth's right to rule in England. Years of plotting and controversy followed as Mary tried to assert her right to the throne, with many conspirators on either side of Mary or Elizabeth being killed as they obstructed the way of the other. Ultimately, the attempt to place Mary on the Scottish throne resulted in her trial, which commenced on 11 October 1586. Mary Queen of Scots was executed on 8 February 1587, on suspicion of having been involved in a plot to murder Elizabeth.

1590  -             Sunspots are noted by sailor James Welsh in one of the few pre-Galileo observances.

Sunspots are areas on the Sun's photosphere, or surface, where the temperature is considerably lower than that of surrounding areas. The temperature difference causes these areas to appear as black spots which are sometimes visible without the aid of a telescope. The cooling effect is due to a strong magnetic field in a particular localised area which inhibits the transport of heat via convective motion in the sun.

Chinese astronomers have observed sunspots since 28 BC, but more modern viewings were few and far between. On 8 December 1590, sailor James Welsh of the ship "Richard of Arundel" observed a large black spot on the sun's surface, whilst sailing off the coast of Guinea. He noted that the spot was still visible the following morning.

The phenomenon remained largely unnoticed in ensuing years, until Galileo brought it to the population's attention in 1612, complete with likely explanation of how it occurred. It was not until the 1820s that the cyclic variation of the number of sunspots was first observed by Heinrich Schwabe. Later astronomers and scientists plotted the variations, leading to speculation on the effect of sunspots on weather patterns.

1801  -             Flinders explores and charts King George's Sound (later Albany) in Western Australia.

Matthew Flinders was born in Lincolnshire, England, in 1774. Flinders and George Bass did much sea exploration around Australia, adding to the knowledge of the coastline, and producing accurate maps. As well as being the first to circumnavigate Australia, Flinders, together with Bass, was the first to prove that Van Diemen's Land, or Tasmania, was an island and not connected to the mainland. Australia was previously known as New Holland, and after Captain Cook claimed the continent for England in 1770, the entire eastern half became known as New South Wales. Flinders was the one who first proposed the name "Terra Australis", which became "Australia", the name adopted in 1824.

Flinders charted the entire coastline of Australia between December 1801 and June 1803 in the ship 'Investigator'. On the evening of 8 December 1801, Flinders entered King George's Sound (later Albany) in Western Australia, to explore. He spent three weeks in the waterways, charting the coastline and determining what natural resources there could be used to facilitate settlement.

1980  -             Singer, songwriter and former member of "The Beatles", John Lennon, is murdered.

John Lennon was born John Winston Lennon on 9 October 1940. As his mother was unable to care for him after his father walked out, Lennon lived with his Aunt Mimi at Mendips throughout his childhood and adolescence. His mother taught him to play the banjo, retaining an interest in her son's life until she was killed in an accident in 1958. Lennon was a non-conformist who dropped out of school to devote his time to developing his musical talents. He joined up with Paul McCartney and George Harrison to form a band, taking the name "Johnny and the Moondogs", followed by "The Silver Beetles", which was later shortened to "The Beatles". Lennon is considered to be one of the most influential singer-songwriter-musicians of the 20th century, profoundly affecting the direction of rock 'n' roll music.

Lennon was assassinated by a deranged fan on 8 December 1980, as he and his wife Yoko Ono returned to their New York apartment after a recording session. The fan, Mark David Chapman, had earlier asked for, and received, Lennon's autograph on an album. It was the last autograph Lennon ever signed. Chapman later claimed he had heard voices in his head telling him to kill Lennon. Chapman has failed three times in his own bid for freedom, and remains serving a life sentence in Attica prison near New York.

1991  -             Leaders of Russia, Belarus, and the Ukraine meet to sign an agreement establishing the Commonwealth of Independent States, signalling the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union, or Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state founded in 1922, centered on Russia, and regarded as one of the world's two super-powers, with the USA being the other. A model for Communist nations, the socialist government and the political organisation of the country were defined by the only permitted political party, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. However, the increasing push for independence among the states, together with the gradual crumbling of communism in the 1980s, led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, to be replaced by The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

On 8 December 1991, the leaders of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine met in Belarus, and signed an agreement establishing the CIS. The CIS is a confederation now consisting of 11 former Soviet Republics: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Turkmenistan, originally included in the CIS, discontinued permanent membership on 26 August 2005, but remains an associate member. According to Russian leaders, the purpose of the CIS was to "allow a civilised divorce" between the Soviet Republics. Sceptics regard the CIS as a tool that would allow Russia to keep its influence over the post-Soviet states. Since its formation, the member-states of CIS have signed a large number of documents concerning integration and cooperation on matters of economics, defense and foreign policy.

Cheers - John



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Guru

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RE: Today in History


Another good read John, so thanks for that

Re 1980 - Singer, songwriter and former member of "The Beatles", John Lennon, is murdered.

At the time he committed the murder, the (so called) unbalanced man, said that he wanted to be become famous, for killing a famous person

The do gooders are still on his side, and still trying to get him released from prison



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December 09 Today in History


Gday...

1843  -             The first Christmas cards are created.

The giving and receiving of Christmas cards has become a tradition throughout the world in the nineteenth century, with commercially-produced Christmas cards becoming more popular during the twentieth century. The earliest form of Christmas greetings were produced as gifts in Germany; they were called "Andachtsbilder" and were scroll-like greeting cards with devotional pictures, wishing the recipient "Ein gut selig jar", or "A good and blessed year". However, the tradition was not maintained over the ensuing centuries.

Sir Henry Cole, Director of London's Victoria and Albert Museum, found that writing numerous Christmas greetings to friends and colleagues was becoming a time-consuming task. He asked his artist friend, John Calcott Horsley, to design a card which could be used by Cole and also sold to the public. The first Christmas cards were created in England on 9 December 1843. Horsley produced 1,000 lithographed and hand-coloured cards. More like postcards, they sold for a shilling, which was the equivalent of a day's wages for a labourer. It was another twenty years before Christmas cards became commercially viable for the common man, following the invention of cheaper colour lithography.

1882  -             One of the earliest sightings of Australia's mythical 'yowie' is recorded.

The yowie is a mythical Australian creature, commonly frequenting bushland on the continent's eastern side, although the west is not without its sightings. The name "yowie" has come from the Aboriginal word for the creatures.

One of the earliest sightings of the yowie is recorded in a letter from naturalist H J McCooey in "The Australian Town and Country Journal", dated 9 December 1882. McCooey claimed to have seen the yowie in 1880, in an area of bushland between Ulladulla and Bateman's Bay on the New South Wales southern coast. He described the yowie as being about 5 feet high, and it stood on its hind legs as it watched the birds up in trees. It had long black hair which was reddish about its throat. Its eyes seemed small and were hidden by dirty, matted fur around its forehead. Its forearms seemed grotesquely long, though the rest of its body seemed to be in relative proportions. Repulsed by the appearance of the creature, McCooey threw a stone at it, whereupon it disappeared into a nearby ravine.

1941  -             Australia formally declares war on Japan.

On the morning of 7 December 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy launched a surprise attack on the Pacific Fleet of the United States Navy, stationed at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii. This one act changed the direction of World War II. Despite the success of the Japanese in their aim of crippling the US navy, the attack pushed the US into WWII.

An hour after the attack, Australian Prime Minister John Curtin declared that "from one hour ago, Australia has been at war with the Japanese Empire". Two days later, on 9 December 1941, at 11:15 am, Australian time (8:15 pm, December 8, American E.S.T.), war was formally declared. In part of his speech, John Curtin stated: "The Australian Government ... did not want war in the Pacific. The Australian Government has repeatedly made it clear, as have the Governments of the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the Netherlands East Indies, that if war came to the Pacific it would be of Japan's making. Japan has now made war." With that declaration came Australia's involvement in the war on Japan.

1968  -             The computer mouse makes its public debut.

Douglas C Engelbart, born on 30 January 1925, was an American inventor. In collaboration with William Engliah, he invented the computer mouse. The first prototype computer mouse was made to use with a graphical user interface, in 1964. Engelbart's computer mouse was patented on 17 November 1970, under the name "X-Y Position Indicator For A Display System". Calling it a mouse because of its tail-like cable, it was simply a hollowed-out wooden block with two metal wheels and a single push button on top. It was designed to select text and manipulate it, such as moving it around.

The computer mouse was demonstrated for the first time on 9 December 1968, after being developed at the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park. The occasion was the Fall Joint Computer Conference, attended by about 1000 computer programmers and professionals. Engelbart's invention was revolutionary for changing the way computers worked, from specialised machinery that only trained scientists could use, to user-friendly tools that almost anyone could use.

1993  -             The first on-orbit service and repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope takes place.

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched on 24 April 1990, by the Space Shuttle Discovery from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. The telescope was the product of a cooperative project between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA). After launch, it was decided that on-orbit servicing every three years would be preferable to returning the Telescope to Earth every five years, as originally planned.

The first servicing and repair mission took place on 9 December 1993. The telescope was captured by the space shuttle Endeavour, and repairs were carried out by astronauts Story Musgrave and Jeff Hofman, travelling at 27,358 kilometres per hour, and 580 km above the Earth. Among other defects requiring repair, the astronauts corrected a fault in the telescope's mirrors which caused the instrument to transmit out-of-focus images of deep space, no better than images seen from Earth.

Cheers - John



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Guru

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RE: Today in History


Yowie

Around the mid seventies thou to the early eighties in my work asca long distance transport driver (a bxxxx truck driver) travelling from Sydney to Brisbane I heard lots of storys about the mythical yowie.

Using the coast road I would swing off a Grafton and go into Brisbane via the much quieter Summerland Way  Up in the Border Ranges between Woodenbon and Beaudesert there were regular appearances, some say they were tall in statue, unkept hair, very untidy and made grunting sounds. 

Never did like stopping up in that area, to spooky for this black duck to hang about.

Well one trip I had my lovely bride with me, it had been long day, throw in a couple of flats tyres to delay me, the load was not travelling as good as I would like and traps needed tightning as the load settle. It was getting late,  my driving hours were up, I was starting to get tried and I made the mistake of pointing out the damage the yowies had made, ran some stories pass her about the mythical creatures well was that not a big mistake.

When I parked the truck up in the Rangers near the Border, climbed into sleeper to have a sleep I copped both barrels, she would not rest, was not going to let me rest, she was not going to rest with the yowie about, no way.

We ended up resting in Beaudesert about hour away, you could cut the air in the cab of the truck with a carving knife that knife.

They might be mythical creature but there is people who swear they have seen them, what about the ones from a different tribe out at Kilroy, they even have a monument to him and he is for real.

Have good day, thanks for bringing the memory back.



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The Happy Helper

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Radar - I fully believe there could be yowies in those mountains you describe - if there are no other travellers on the Mt Lindsay Highway up there, it is so spooky driving around the "wedding cake" (Mt Lindsay, so called because of the shape - and there is rain or fog it is quite eerie!

mtlindsey.jpg

 



-- Edited by jules47 on Friday 9th of December 2016 02:18:35 PM

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December 10 Today in History


Gday...

1520  -             German theologian and Christian reformer, Martin Luther, publicly burns a papal edict demanding he recant his doctrines.

Martin Luther was a German theologian and Augustinian monk whose teachings inspired the Reformation and deeply influenced the doctrines of the Protestant churches in general, and the Lutheran church in particular. Luther openly questioned the teachings of the Roman Catholic church, in particular, the nature of penance, the authority of the pope and the usefulness of indulgences.

The Reformation of the church began on 31 October 1517, with Luther's act of posting his Ninety-Five Theses, more fully known as the "Disputation of Doctor Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences", on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. The document contained an attack on papal abuses and the sale of indulgences by church officials. Controversy raged over the posting of the 95 Theses. Luther was excommunicated several years later from the Roman Catholic church for his attacks on the wealth and corruption of the papacy, and his belief that salvation would be granted on the basis of faith alone rather than by works.

On 10 December 1520, Luther publicly burned Pope Leo X's bull "Exsurge Domine," which demanded that Luther recant his heresies, including his doctrine of justification by faith alone. The following year, Luther was summoned before the Diet of Worms. The Diet was a general assembly of the estates of the Holy Roman Empire that occurred in Worms, Germany, from January to May in 1521. When an edict of the Diet called for Luther's seizure, his friends took him for safekeeping to Wartburg, the castle of Elector Frederick III of Saxony. Here, Luther continued to write his prolific theological works, which greatly influenced the direction of the Protestant Reformation movement.

1582  -             France adopts the Gregorian calendar.

The Gregorian calendar, widely adopted in the western world, was initially decreed by Pope Gregory XIII on 24 February 1582. The Gregorian calendar was first proposed by Aloysius Lilius because the mean year in the Julian Calendar was slightly long, causing the vernal equinox to slowly advance earlier in the calendar year.

On 5 October 1582, the Gregorian calendar was adopted for the first time by Catholic countries such as Italy, Poland, Spain and Portugal. On 10 December 1582, France began using the Gregorian calendar.

Non-Catholic countries such as Scotland, Britain and the latter's colonies still used the Julian calendar up until 1752, and some Asian countries were still using the Julian calendar up until the early twentieth century.

1859  -             Today is Proclamation Day, marking Queensland's official separation from New South Wales.

When the First Fleet arrived in Australia in 1788, the entire eastern half of Australia came under the name of New South Wales. The colony of Van Diemen's Land (later Tasmania) was established in 1825, and Victoria (Port Phillip District) separated from New South Wales in 1851. The first settlement in what is now Queensland was established at Redcliffe in 1824, and later moved to Brisbane. The first free settlers moved to the area in 1838.

In 1859, Queen Victoria signed Letters Patent, which declared that Queensland was now a separate colony from New South Wales. Queenslanders celebrate June 6 every year as Queensland Day, the day which marks the birth of Queensland as a self-governing colony.

Queensland actually separated from New South Wales on 10 December 1859, and this has now come to be known as "Proclamation Day". The western border was set at 141 degrees East. On this day, the new Queensland ensign, a light blue flag with a red St George's cross, and union jack in its upper left hand corner, was raised. On 1 January 1901, Queensland became one of the six founding States of the Commonwealth of Australia.

1878  -             Bushranger Ned Kelly robs the Euroa bank.

Ned Kelly, Australia's most famous bushranger, was born in December 1854 in Beveridge, Victoria. Kelly was twelve when his father died, and he was subsequently required to leave school to take on the new position as head of the family. Shortly after this, the Kellys moved to Glenrowan. As a teenager, Ned became involved in petty crimes, regularly targeting the wealthy landowners. He gradually progressed to crimes of increasing seriousness and violence, including bank robbery and murder, soon becoming a hunted man. Ned Kelly's gang consisted of himself, his brother Dan, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart.

One of Kelly's more daring bank robberies was carried out on 10 December 1878. Kelly and his gang rode into the Victorian town of Euroa, where they robbed the National Bank of about 2,000 pounds. As a result of this robbery, the reward for their capture was increased to 1,000 pounds each.

1896  -             Alfred Nobel, benefactor of the Nobel Prizes, dies, eight years after reading his own obituary.

 Alfred Bernhard Nobel, born in Stockholm in 21 October 1833, was a Swedish chemist, engineer armaments manufacturer and the inventor of dynamite. Although a dramatist and poet, he became famous for his advances in chemistry and physics, and by the time he died on 10 December 1896, he held over 350 patents and controlled factories and laboratories in 20 countries.

Eight years prior to his death, on 13 April 1888, Nobel opened the newspaper to discover an obituary to himself. Although it was his brother Ludwig who had actually died, the obituary described Alfred Nobel's own achievements, believing it was he who had died. The obituary condemned Nobel for inventing dynamite, an explosive which caused the deaths of so many. It is said that this experience led Nobel to choose to leave a better legacy to the world after his death. On 27 November 1895 at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris, Nobel signed his last will and testament and set aside the bulk of his enormously wealthy estate to establish the Nobel Prizes, to be awarded annually without distinction of nationality. Nobel died of a cerebral haemorrhage on 10 December 1896.

The Nobel Prize is considered one of the most prestigious awards in the world and includes a cash prize of nearly one million dollars. The fields for which the awards can be given are physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and toward the promotion of international peace. In 1968 the prize field was extended to include economic science.

1919  -             Brothers Ross and Keith Smith win the Australian air race to fly from England to Australia in under 30 days.

The first powered flight in Australia was achieved by Harry Houdini while he was visiting Victoria, in 1910. 1912 saw the establishment of military aviation and the deployment of the Australian Flying Corps in World War I. In 1919, Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes announced the Federal Government was offering a £10,000 prize for the first Australian to fly from England to Australia in under 30 days.

Brothers Keith and Ross Smith were two of the competitors. Ross, born 4 December 1892 in Adelaide was first pilot, while his brother Keith, born on 20 December 1890, also in Adelaide, was navigator and co-pilot. Both men had served in World War I. Together with mechanics James Jim Bennett and WH Wally Shiers, they departed Hounslow, England on 12 November 1919 in a large Vickers Vimy bomber on a 18,250 kilometre marathon journey.

The route took them across the Middle East, India and south-east Asia. They headed first to Basra, Iraq then on to Delhi, India. From there they continued on to Singora in Thailand, Surabaya in East Java, Indonesia and finally, Timor, from where they made the final crossing to Australia. Flying conditions were harsh and hazardous, as it was cramped and freezing in the open ****pit, with low visibility. The aircraft had to land frequently for refuelling, repairs or due to bad weather, and landing strips were often poor quality. However, the aeroplane landed in Darwin at 3.50 pm on 10 December 1919, well within the time limit specified in the race conditions. In all, the men spent around 136 hours in the air on a journey that took 28 days, flying at an average 137 kilometres per hour. Of the six other contestants in the race, only one other aircraft completed the journey.

The four men shared equally in the prize money. The Smith brothers were knighted, while Shiers and Bennett were commissioned and awarded Bars to their Air Force Medals. In April 1922, while preparing for a record-breaking around the world flight, Ross Smith and Bennett were killed in a crash. Keith died of cancer in 1955, and Shiers died in 1968. The Vickers Vimy bomber used on this epic journey is on permanent display at Adelaide Airport.

1997  -             Environmentalist, Julia 'Butterfly' Hill, commences living high in a redwood tree in California to prevent its destruction.

Julia "Butterfly" Hill is an American environmentalist who, at the age of 23, lived in a giant California Redwood tree to prevent it from being felled. Appalled by the destruction of the redwood forest in Humboldt County, California, Hill climbed into the 54 metre high, 1,000-year-old California Redwood tree nicknamed "Luna" on 10 December 1997. She lived there for 738 days, finally coming down on 18 December 1999. Her actions were designed to prevent loggers of the Pacific Lumber Company from cutting down the tree. She lived in a small 2m x 2.5m shelter that she had built with the help of volunteers.

Hill only agreed to come down out of "Luna" when the Pacific Lumber Company agreed to preserve all trees within a 3 acre buffer zone. In 1999, Hill and other activists founded the environmental organisation "Circle of Life", which continues to work towards preserving the natural environment. Hill herself became the youngest person to be inducted into the Ecology Hall of Fame.           

Cheers - John



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RE: Today in History


1859 - Queenslanders don't celebrate it as much as New South Welshman do ...



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So - does anyone know where Rocky Lizard is? No post on this thread today - must have gotten lost in the backblocks somewhere.

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December 11 Today in History


Gday...

[delayed caused by being away from internet access ]

1792  -             Josef Mohr, who wrote the lyrics to 'Silent Night', is born.

Josef Mohr was born on 11 De­cem­ber 1792 in Salz­burg, Aus­tria, the illegitimate son of a seamstress and a military deserter. Mohr championed the cause of the poverty-stricken, the disadvantaged, the young and the elderly, and was a generous man who willingly gave his time and money to charity.

It was while serving as parish priest at St Nikolas Church in Oberndorf that Mohr penned "Silent Night", one of the world's most enduring Christmas carols. Two days before Christmas 1818, the bellows in the church organ were found to be rotted through. Mohr wrote a poem and asked the church organist and choirmaster, Franz-Xaver Gruber, if he could set it to music which the two men could sing, accompanied by Mohr on the guitar. Late on Christmas Eve, the men practised the song for the first time, and performed it for Mass. "Silent Night" still endures today as a much-loved Christmas carol.

1792  -             Captain Arthur Phillip, first Governor of the New South Wales colony, returns to England.

Arthur Phillip was born in London on 11 October 1738. He joined the Royal Navy when he was fifteen, and alternately earned a living as a navy officer and as a farmer. In October 1786, Phillip was appointed Governor-designate of the proposed British penal colony of New South Wales. He was a practical man who suggested that convicts with experience in farming, building and crafts be included in the First Fleet, but his proposal was rejected. The First Fleet left Portsmouth, England, on 13 May 1787, and arrived in Botany Bay on 18 January 1788. Phillip immediately determined that there was insufficient fresh water, an absence of usable timber, poor quality soil and no safe harbour at Botany Bay. Thus the fleet was moved to Port Jackson, arriving on 26 January 1788.

Phillip faced many obstacles in his attempts to establish the new colony. British farming methods, seeds and implements were unsuitable for use in the different climate and soil, and the colony faced near-starvation in its first two years. Phillip also worked to improve understanding with the local Aborigines. The colony finally succeeded in developing a solid foundation, agriculturally and economically, thanks to the perseverance of Captain Arthur Phillip.

Poor health forced Phillip to return to England in 1792. He departed for his homeland on 11 December 1792, sailing in the ship "Atlantic". Phillip resigned his commission soon after arriving back in England, and died on 31 August 1814.

1848  -             Edmund Kennedy is killed by Aborigines just short of his destination of Cape York.

Edmund Kennedy was born in 1818 on Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands of the English channel. As a surveyor, he arrived in Sydney in 1840 where he joined the Surveyor-General's Department as assistant to Sir Thomas Mitchell. In 1845, he accompanied Mitchell on an expedition into the interior of Queensland (then still part of New South Wales), and two years later led another expedition through central Queensland, tracing the course of the Victoria River, later renamed the Barcoo.

In 1848 Kennedy left Rockingham Bay, north of Townsville, with 12 other men to travel to Cape York, intending to map the eastern coast of north Queensland. A ship, the 'Ariel', was to meet him at the Cape at the conclusion of his journey. Dense rainforest and the barrier of the Great Dividing Range made the journey extremely difficult. By the time Kennedy's party reached Weymouth Bay in November, they were starving and exhausted. Kennedy left eight sick men and two horses at Weymouth Bay before continuing on with three white men and a loyal Aborigine named Jackey-Jackey.

Kennedy chose to leave the three white men near the Shelburne River when one of them accidentally shot himself in the shoulder. Continuing on with Jackey-Jackey, Kennedy was close to reaching his rendezvous with the 'Ariel' when he found himself surrounded by hostile aborigines. Their spears quickly found their mark with Kennedy, whilst Jackey-Jackey tried to hold off the Aborigines with gunfire. On 11 December 1848, Kennedy died in Jackey-Jackey's arms, signifying the tragic loss of a promising young explorer.

1903  -             The world's first wildlife preservation society is founded.

Fauna and Flora International, formerly the Fauna and Flora Preservation Society, was the world's first conservation society. It was founded on 11 December 1903 as the Society for the Preservation of the Wild Fauna of the Empire. Launched by conservationist Edward North Buxton, its many supporters included both influential people and notable naturalists, but also hunters who were concerned about preserving species for their past-time of hunting for future years. Membership reached 100 within the first year.

The primary aim of the Society was the conservation of habitats and species, and to influence legislation towards this end. Today, the Society still works to improve public education in matters of conservation. It is involved in captive breeding programmes specifically for the release of vulnerable and threatened species back into the wild.

1919  -             A monument is dedicated to the destructive Boll Weevil in Enterprise, Alabama.

The boll weevil is a small beetle, highly destructive to cotton crops. Native to Mexico, it began to infest the cotton crops of Coffe County, Alabama in 1915, creating wholesale destruction by 1918. The loss of the main crop in the area threatened the city of Enterprise, the economy of which was based on cotton farming.

H.M.Sessions was an enterprising businessman who saw the opportunity to convert the region from cotton to peanut farming. Together with farmer C. W. Baston, who was heavily in debt following cotton crop losses, Sessions invested in a peanut crop. The first crop was enough to clear Baston's debt, and attracted the interest of other farmers seeking rescue from their financial hole. The ensuing diversification of crops injected new financial prosperity to the farmers of Coffee County and the city of Enterprise.

Bon Fleming was a local businessman who suggested building a monument as a tribute to the beetle. Although the boll weevil wrought only destruction, its presence forced farmers to diversify. The monument was suggested to commemorate how something disastrous can bring about change for the better. The boll weevil monument featured a woman wearing a flowing gown, with her arms stretched above her head. Thirty years later, a boll weevil was added. The statue was dedicated on 11 December 1919.

Frequent theft and vandalism over the years saw the statue reduced to an irreparable state by 1998. The original statue was placed on display at Enterprise's Depot Museum, while a polymer-resin replica was placed in the statue's original position.

1931  -             The Statute of Westminster gives complete legislative independence to countries of the British Commonwealth.

Whilst the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia came into effect on 1 January 1901, this did not mean that Australia had achieved independence from Britain. Under colonial federation approved by the United Kingdom, the six self-governing states of Australia merely allocated some functions to a federal authority. Australia was given the status of a Dominion, remaining a self-governing colony within the British Empire, with the Head of State being the British monarch. The Governor-General and State Governors were appointed by the British government, and answered completely to the British government.

At the Imperial Conference of 1926, it was decreed that all Dominions within the British Empire were "equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations." The Statute of Westminster 1931 ratified the discussions of the Imperial Conference. It meant that Australia and other Dominions such as South Africa, New Zealand and Canada could now conduct treaties and agreements with foreign powers, and manage their own military strategies. Ultimately, the British monarch could only act on the advice of the Australian Government, and the Governor-General was no longer appointed by and answerable to the British monarch.

Australian Parliament formally adopted the Statute of Westminster 1931 under the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942, on 9 October 1942.

2015  -             Australian naturalist and controversial conservationist Harry Butler dies.

William Henry (Harry) Butler was an Australian naturalist and conservationist. He was born in a railroad construction camp in the bush near Perth, Western Australia on 25 March 1930. As a child, he spent a great deal of time exploring the bush with his aboriginal friends, as his father worked on the railways and his mother died giving birth to Harrys younger sister. He was a bright student who often pedalled 30km on his bike to the nearest primary school, and won a scholarship to attend high school. To supplement his scholarship, he hunted feral goats and wild rabbits for bounties. He was an early advocate of the release of targeted diseases into the bush to control introduced species.

Although Butler initially trained as a fitter and turner and then worked as a marine engineer, he completed a three year teaching course in a single year at Claremont Teachers' College in Western Australia. Later, he attended the Western State College in the United States. He spent a decade lecturing in biology and natural science in Australia, the US and Canada. However, his first passion was conservation.

In his role as conservation consultant to the Barrow Island oilfield and numerous other projects, Butler introduced radical new strategies to help conserve and restore the Australian environment, yet at the same time maintained that development and conservation was not mutually exclusive. He once stated, Ive achieved more by working with mining companies and other developers than I ever would have lying down in front of bulldozers. Although a controversial figure who was not seen as "green" enough by some conservation groups, his work with the Australian quarantine service was invaluable. A series of television advertisements featuring Butler were credited with reducing cases of illegally imported foodstuffs by 50%. Butler became a household name with the television series In the Wild, a tremendously popular documentary series in which he introduced the public to a variety of native animals which many Australians did not even know existed.

In 1970, Butler was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire, which was upgraded to a Commander level in 1980. In 1979 he was jointly awarded Australian of the Year, along with Neville Bonner, and in 1980, Citizen of the Year for Western Australia. In 2012 the National Trust of Australia appointed him a National Living Treasure. Numerous Australian fauna species were named for Harry Butler: among them were two fish; a marsupial mouse, the Carpentarian dunnart known as Sminthopsis butleri; six reptiles, including a species of Mulga snake, Pseudechis butleri; and the spider species Synothele butleri. Harry Butler died of cancer on 11 December 2015.

Cheers - John



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December 12 Today in History


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1815  -             Explorer James Kelly begins his circumnavigation of Tasmania.

Captain James Kelly was born in Parramatta, New South Wales, in 1791. He was believed to be the son of James Kelly, a cook in the convict transport Queen, and Catherine Devereaux, a convict transported for life from Dublin on the Queen. As a young man, he was inducted into the trades of sealer and sandalwood trader. At the age of 21, Kelly was enlisted to command the whaling fleet of Thomas William Birch of Hobart Town.

On 12 December 1815, Kelly embarked on a journey to circumnavigate Tasmania in the whaleboat "Elizabeth", with the view to exploring the commercial potential along the Tasmanian coast. Kelly is credited with officially discovering Port Davey on the south west coast and, late in December, of Macquarie Harbour on the central west coast. He discovered and named the Gordon River and Birch Inlet. Kelly's successful journey took 40 days.

1851  -             Today is Poinsettia Day in the USA.

The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a plant, native to Mexico, with brilliantly red-coloured bracts in its native state. Newer varieties have also been bred, with bracts of different colours ranging from white through to lilac, pink and even spotted. Known sometimes as the lobster flower and flame leaf flower, the poinsettia has come to symbolise Christmas because of its bright red and green colours.

In the United States, December 12 has been set aside as National Poinsettia Day. The date marks the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett (2 March 1779 12 December 1851), an American stateman, physicist and botanist, who is credited with introducing the native Mexican plant to the United States. The purpose of the day is to celebrate the beauty of the poinsettia.

1882  -             Australias worst gold mining disaster, to date, occurs in Creswick, Victoria.

Creswick is a small town located in the heart of the central goldfields in Victoria, Australia. The town, which currently has a population of just over 3 000, was born after squatters Charles, John and Henry Creswick ran sheep in the area which became known as Creswicks Creek in 1842. The discovery of gold in September 1851 led to a gold rush, and the steady alluvial finds were boosted by the opening up of deeper workings in 1855-6. By 1861, the population of the town had swelled to over 5 000.

The Australasian Mining Company began prospecting for gold in the area in 1867, and enjoyed rich returns with the discovery of the Australasian Lead, one of five rich gold leads, or rivers of gold buried beneath layers of basalt, sand and gravel, that run through the area. A decade of regular flooding caused the Australasia No 1 mine shaft to be abandoned. The Australasia No 2 shaft was sunk approximately 200 metres away after the formation of a new company, the New Australasian Gold Mining Company, in 1878.

At around 5:30 am on the morning of Tuesday, 12 December 1882, water which had been accumulating in the Australasia No 1 mine burst through the wall of the reef drive, trapping 27 workers. Hearing the noise of the flooding above ground, water pump engine driver James Spargo increased the speed of the pump, and was quickly joined by two other engine drivers, James Harris and Thomas Clough. Over the next few days, the men ran the engines at more than 10 times their normal speed, trying to lower the water to save the trapped men. Unable to escape from the mine, the men sought respite from the rising waters in the small space of the No 11 jump-up, one of several cutaways where the men would jump up out of the way of the mine trucks. A special train was dispatched from Melbourne with equipment to dive into the water. Diving equipment borrowed from the HMS Cerberus, together with experienced divers, was sent up from Melbourne. It was Thursday (some sources say Friday) before the trapped men could be reached, and by that time, 22 had died. Only 5 were brought out alive.

This was not the only mining accident to occur in 1882: apart from the 22 who perished in this one incident, in the same year there were another 49 deaths due to mining accidents in the colony of Victoria alone. Following the Creswick disaster, 20 000 pounds was collected from townsfolk throughout Victoria to help the widows and orphans, with funds being allocated weekly to the families of the victims. Later, Parliament changed the fund to The Mining Accident Relief Fund Act, 1884, with moneys being paid to assist all victims of mining accidents.

1915  -             American singer and actor Frank Sinatra is born.

Frank Sinatra was born Francis Albert Sinatra on 12 December 1915, in Hoboken, New Jersey, USA. He is considered to be one of the most important popular music figures of the 20th century. As a musician, he was well respected for his gifted vocalisations, rich baritone and his versatile musical style. After making his foray into films, he became the unofficial leader of the Hollywood 'Rat Pack' of the early 1960s, which also included Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. He appeared in 58 films, including On the Town (1949), From Here to Eternity (1953, and for which he received an Academy Award), Guys and Dolls (1955), Pal Joey (1957), The Manchurian Candidate (1962), and The Detective (1968). Sinatra died of natural causes on 14 May 1998.         

1917 - Father Flanagan founds Boys Town, a home for orphaned boys, in Nebraska.

Father Edward J Flanagan, born July 1886, was a Roman Catholic priest in the USA. In December 1917, three homeless boys in Nebraska were assigned to Flanagan's care. Unable to be supported by his financially struggling Parish, Flanagan found a house in Omaha, and borrowed $90 from a friend to pay the first month's rent. He opened the house to the boys on 12 December 1917, and, using the tenet that "There is no such thing as a bad boy", he continued to take in homeless and wayward youth.

After awhile, Flanagan moved the boys from the house in Omaha to Overlook Farm outside town, and in 1936 it was renamed Boys Town. As welfare agencies and juvenile judges passed more children into Flanagan's care, the farm came to rely on volunteers and contributions from the community to keep it running. It shifted from being a place for just orphans to one which took in children, including girls, who were in trouble with the law, or those who came from abusive situations. Possibly America's best-known orphanage/home, Boys Town has established satellite homes in Florida, California, and Texas and is a consultant to other homes in the United States. Similar homes in other countries have been founded on the original model set by Father Flanagan.

1953  -             Charles Yeager becomes the first person to travel two and a half times the speed of sound.

Charles Elwood "Chuck" Yeager was born on 13 February 1923 in Myra, West Virginia. After joining the army at age 16 and training as an aircraft mechanic, he was then selected for flight training. His service record during WWII was impeccable, becoming an "ace-in-a-day" after shooting down five enemy aircraft in a single mission. Yeager remained in the Air Force after the war. He became a test pilot and was ultimately selected to fly the rocket-powered Bell X-1 in a NACA program to research high-speed flight. On 14 October 1947 he broke the sound barrier in the technologically advanced X-1.

Yeager continued to work with experimental craft, achieving faster and faster speeds. He piloted the X1-A, a longer and more powerful version of the X-1, to a speed of mach 2.4 on 12 December 1953. This was almost two and a half times the speed of sound and the fastest of any human being to that date.

Cheers - John



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Thanks John - missed my read yesterday - take care.

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Another good read John, so thanks for that

Re December 11 2015 - Australian naturalist and controversial conservationist Harry Butler dies.

As Harry said
Ive achieved more by working with mining companies and other developers than I ever would have lying down in front of bulldozers

Perhaps Harry was born before his time

I was unaware that he started out as a Fitter Turner, and then progressed to being a Marine Engineer, and then completing a teaching course



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December 13 Today in History


Gday...

1642  -             Dutch explorer Abel Tasman discovers New Zealand.

Abel Janszoon Tasman was a Dutch seafarer and explorer born in 1603 in the village of Lutjegast, Netherlands. In 1634 Tasman joined the Dutch East India Company and, after gaining further experience and promotions, was ordered to explore the south-east waters in order to find a new sea trade route to Chile in South America. On 24 November 1642, he discovered a previously unknown island on his voyage past the "Great South Land", or "New Holland", as the Dutch called Australia. He named the island "Antony Van Diemen's Land" in honour of the High Magistrate, or Governor-General of Batavia.

Tasman did not try to circumnavigate the island, but continued to sail east. On 13 December 1642, Tasman sighted a new land which he described as mountainous and covered in cloud in the south, but more barren in the north. He had discovered New Zealand. However, he also did not choose to explore further, assuming that the two lands were part of a larger continent. This fallacy persisted until James Cook explored the South Pacific, circumnavigated the two main islands of New Zealand, and then charted the eastern coast of the Australian continent.

1802  -             Charles Robbins successfully dissuades the French from making a claim on Van Diemen's land (now Tasmania).

Tasmania was first discovered by Abel Tasman on 24 November 1642. Tasman discovered the previously unknown island on his voyage past the "Great South Land", or "New Holland", as the Dutch called Australia. He named it "Antony Van Diemen's Land" in honour of the High Magistrate, or Governor-General of Batavia.

When the First Fleet arrived in 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip claimed the entire eastern coast for the British Empire, including Tasmania, though it was not yet proven to be separate from the mainland. In January 1799 Bass and Flinders completed their circumnavigation of Tasmania, proving it to be an island.

The British were keen to make a formal claim upon the island so that it would not come under the control of France. In November 1802, Governor King sent Charles Robbins, first mate of HMS Buffalo, to Van Diemen's land with the purpose of dissuading an impending French claim. In an earlier moment of indiscretion, French commodore Nicolas Baudin had revealed his intention to colonise Van Diemen's Land. Robbins sailed the schooner 'Cumberland', the only ship available at the time, arriving in Van Diemen's Land on 13 December 1802. He met Baudin and successfully persuaded Baudin to abandon his plans to claim Van Diemen's Land. Robbins's claim to Van Diemen's Land was reinforced by the landing of British troops on King Island in Bass Strait shortly afterwards.

Robbins himself found Robbins Island, a small island off the northwest coast of Van Diemen's Land, in 1804. It was subsequently named in his honour.

1850  -             Cleveland in southeast Queensland is proclaimed a township.

Cleveland is a suburb of Redland City, which lies sandwiched between the boundaries of Brisbane and the Gold Coast in southeast Queensland. Originally known as Nandeebie by the indigenous Koobenpul people, the area was first settled by Europeans in the 1820s, after being discovered by ticket-of-leave convicts Parsons, Pamphlett and Finnegan who had been blown off-course by a wild storm near the Illawarra coast of NSW. Believing they were south of Port Jackson, the men headed north, where they reached Moreton Bay and island-hopped to the mainland. Here, near the Brisbane River, they were eventually rescued by explorer John Oxley who was surveying the area as the site for a possible penal settlement. Redcliffe became the first settlement in the new Colony of the Moreton Bay District, followed by Brisbane, named after the Brisbane River, which in turn was named after Governor Brisbane, then the Governor of New South Wales.

Settlement south of Brisbane began with farming allotments, as the area was rich in volcanic soil. Cleveland, still known as Emu Point, was an important port for small boats in the region, and a strong contender for being a future capital city whenever the colony separated from New South Wales. This was quashed in 1842 when Governor Gipps attempted to come ashore at Emu Point and ended up floundering in the mud and mangroves because his ship was too large to dock. The bay proved to be too shallow to be a major port in the future. The area was renamed Cleveland by surveyors, in honour of William Vane, the 1st Duke of Cleveland.

On 13 December 1850, Cleveland was proclaimed a township, and soon became a popular seaside resort. Two buildings from the 1850s, the Courthouse (now a restaurant) and the Grand View Hotel, still remain as testimony to Clevelands heritage.

1858  -             The first balloon flight in Sydney, Australia, takes place.

The hot air balloon was developed in the 1700s by Frenchman Jacques Étienne Montgolfier, together with his brother Joseph-Michel. Montgolfier progressed to untethered flights until 1783 when he tested the first balloon to carry passengers, using a duck, a sheep and a rooster as his subjects. The demonstration occurred in Paris and was witnessed by King Louis XVI. The first manned, untethered balloon flight occurred on November 21 of that year, and carried two men.

The first balloon flight in Australia occurred on 1 February 1858. Constructed in the UK, the balloon was imported into Australia by the manager of Melbourne's Theatre Royal, George Coppin. The launch took place at Cremorne Gardens near Richmond. William Dean lifted off at 5:52pm and landed near Heidelberg at around 6:30pm. Two weeks later, Dean again lifted off, this time reaching an estimated altitude of 10,000 feet before descending onto the road between Collingwood and Brunswick Stockade.

William Dean was also the first to fly in a balloon from Sydney. Together with his companion, Brown, they launched at 5:00pm on 13 December 1858, witnessed by 7,000 people. The balloon drifted north across Sydney Harbour and landed in Neutral Bay. However, it was not until the 1870s that balloon flights became more commonplace in Australia.

1937  -             Nanking, capital of China, falls to the brutal Japanese imperial forces.

Prior to World War II, Japan began a systematic invasion of Chinese territory, beginning with Manchuria in 1931. In the ensuing years, thousands of refugees fled Manchuria and settled in Nanking, or Nanjing, swelling the population of the city from 250,000 residents to over one million. In July 1937, Japan attacked China again, this time near Beijing. The Chinese government did not retreat as it had before, but declared war on Japan, marking the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War, which soon became another facet of World War II.

To break the spirit of Chinese resistance, Japanese General Matsui Iwane ordered that the city of Nanking be destroyed. On November 25, Japanese forces began attacking Nanking in earnest. Then, on 13 December 1937, the Japanese Imperial Army marched into Nanking and commenced a massacre that continued for six weeks. In what became known as the "Rape of Nanking," the Japanese butchered an estimated 150,000 male "war prisoners," massacred an additional 50,000 male civilians, and raped between 20,000 and 80,000 women and girls of all ages, often mutilating, disembowelling or killing them in the process. Some figures suggest that 300,000 innocent Chinese died during the carnage.

It is estimated that during the Japanese occupation of China, at least fifteen million Chinese soldiers and civilians were killed. The city of Nanking still sombrely commemorates the atrocities committed by the Japanese army upon its citizens. After World War II, Matsui was found guilty of war crimes by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, and executed.

1955  -             Australian housewife "superstar", Dame Edna Everage, makes her stage debut.

Dame Edna Everage is the brainchild and ostentatious alter-ego of Australian actor Barry Humphries. The Moonee Ponds housewife, originally created as a parody of Australian suburban insularity, has developed from her earlier dowdiness to become a satire of stardom, the gaudily dressed, ostentatious, international Housewife Gigastar with outrageous glasses.

Barry Humphries was born on 17 February 1934 in Melbourne, Australia. He studied law, philosophy and fine arts at Melbourne University before joining the Melbourne Theatre Group and embarking on an acting career. He created the character of Edna Everage who made her Australian debut at Melbourne's Union theatre on 13 December 1955. Humphries brought her to the British stage in 1969 for his one-man show, "Just a Show". In 1970 Barry returned to Australia, where Edna Everage made her movie debut in John B Murray's The Naked Bunyip.

Humphries has ensured his creation has kept up with the latest technology. Dame Edna now has her own website, dame-edna.com, where fans can find the latest tour dates, merchandise and information about Australia's favourite housewife.

1975  -             Malcolm Fraser's Liberal Party wins a landslide 55-seat majority victory over the ALP.

Edward Gough Whitlam, elected in 1972 to be the 21st Prime Minister of Australia, had embarked on a massive legislative social reform program which was forward-thinking and progressive in many ways. Whilst initially popular, the fast pace of reform engendered caution amongst the electorate, and the economy was beset by high inflation combined with economic stagnation.

These conditions were the catalyst to the Australian constitutional crisis of 1975. The opposition Liberal-National Country Party coalition held a majority in the Senate, the upper house of Parliament. In an unprecedented move, the Senate deferred voting on bills that appropriated funds for government expenditure, attempting to force the Prime Minister to dissolve the House of Representatives and call an election. The Whitlam government ignored the warnings, and sought alternative means of appropriating the funds it needed to repay huge debts. With Whitlam unable to secure the necessary funds, the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, dismissed Whitlam as Prime Minister on 11 November 1975, and appointed Liberal opposition leader Malcolm Fraser as caretaker Prime Minister.

This was done on the condition that Fraser would seek a dissolution of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, thus precipitating a general election. Formal elections were held on 13 December 1975, and Fraser's Liberal Party won a massive 55-seat majority victory over the Australian Labor Party.          

Cheers - John



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1975....brings back a lot of memories, Rocky. To cap it all off, years later nothing saved the Governor-General.

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Re 1975 - Malcolm Fraser's Liberal Party wins a landslide 55-seat majority victory over the ALP.

No political statement intended

But...

This woke up a lot of political innocents such as myself, to the fact that politics is a dirty game, and that some politicians were not worthy of the power we had bestowed on them

I thought that the double dissolution was just a dirty tactic



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Gday...

Yep Tony ... Whitlam made many long overdue excellent reforms .. but then his colleagues lost the plot, Whitlam lost control (influence) of them ... many foolish actions .. and the public got frightened of them.

The Double D was the last straw - and the populous reacted predictably.

Now back to non-politics.

Cheers - John



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1975 was also when it became evident that the media could sway election outcomes. Since then, it's only got worse.

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1955....and many a laugh had by her stage act along with the other charactors Barry introduced along the way.

Well done Barry Humphries.

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Decdmber 14 Today in History


Gday...

1287  -             The Zuider Zee sea wall in the Netherlands collapses, resulting in 50,000 deaths.

Zuider Zee was a former shallow inlet of the North Sea in the northwest of the Netherlands, extending about 100km inland and 50 kilometres across at its widest point. Its overall depth varied from 4 to 5 metres, and its coastline measured about 300 kilometres. Zuider Zee, originally named Lake Flevo, lacked a navigable passage to the sea until a massive flood in the thirteenth century joined it to the North Sea. During a storm on 14 December 1287, the Zuider Zee seawalls collapsed, killing around 50,000 people. The resultant flood of seawater opened the way for the growth of the city of Amsterdam. Originally an insignificant fishing village, Amsterdam grew into a thriving centre for sea-going traffic.

1503  -             Physician, philosopher and seer, Nostradamus, is born.

Michel de Nostredame, more commonly known as Nostradamus, was born on 14 December 1503, although some reports say he was born one week later. He was a well-educated man, studying mathematics, philosophy, astrology and medicine.

Using his skills in astrology, Nostradamus wrote a series of books, consisting of "quatrains", which were purported to be prophecies about the future. Attention was attracted when some of his prophecies seemed to come true. However, academic studies have concluded that the apparent associations made between events and Nostradamus's quatrains are essentially the result of misinterpretations or even deliberate mistranslations of his words. With enough manipulation, the words of his quatrains can be made to coincide tenuously with major events of the world. Nonetheless, through the years, the writings of Nostradamus have attracted a huge following of people who believe he had supernatural foresight into the future.

Nostradamus died on 2 July 1566. Originally buried in the local Franciscan chapel, he was later re-interred in the Collégiale St-Laurent at the French Revolution, where his tomb remains to this day.

1840  -             Governor Gipps appoints the first Government Printer.

In the first two decades of British settlement in Australia, all government notices were printed on a portable wooden and iron printing press that had come to New South Wales on the First Fleet in 1788. There were no experienced printers among the convicts until the convict transport ship "The Royal Admiral" brought George Howe to Australia's shores. Howe was born in the West Indies but was well-educated in classical European literature, and he had extensive printing experience. His original death sentence for shoplifting in England was commuted to transportation to New South Wales. His skills in printing were immediately put to use for the publication of government documents. In 1802 Howe issued the first book printed in Australia, "New South Wales General Standing Orders", which listed Government and General Orders issued between 1791 and 1802. He was also permitted to commence Australia's first newspaper, which he printed from a shed at the back of Government House.

As the colony grew, so did the need for an official government printer. In November 1840, Governor Gipps announced plans to establish a printing office which would be "under the exclusive orders and control of the Government". The Government Printing Office was established, and John Kitchen was appointed as Government Printer on 14 December 1840. Kitchens staff included two free men as assistant printers, while another twenty convict men and boys became production staff.

Over the next decades, the Government Printing Office was responsible for printing official government documents, including parliamentary debates (Hansard), as well as postage stamps and railway tickets. Its services also included bookbinding, Photo-lithographic and lithographic and Photo-mechanical printing. The Government Printing Office remained in operation until it was finslly abolished in July 1989.

1911  -             Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen becomes the first European to reach the South Pole.

Roald Amundsen was born on 16 July 1872, near Oslo, Norway. At fifteen, he intended to study medicine but, inspired by Fridtjof Nansen's crossing of Greenland in 1888, altered his career intentions to eventually become one of the most successful polar explorers. He planned to be the first to the North Pole, but having been beaten by Frederick Cook and Robert Peary, he then altered his plans to make for the South Pole. He set out for Antarctica in 1910, and reached the Ross Ice Shelf on 14 January 1911 at a point known as the Bay of Whales. From here, on 10 February 1911, Amundsen scouted south to establish depots along the way. During the next two months, he and his party established three depots for storing their extensive provisions. They had their last glimpse of the sun for four months on 22 April 1911.

After maintaining their base at the Bay of Whales during the winter months, on 20 October 1911, Amundsen and four others departed for the South Pole. The remaining three in his expedition party went east to visit King Edward VII Land. The southern party consisted of five men, four sledges, fifty-two dogs and provisions for four months. The expedition reached the South Pole on 14 December 1911, a month before the famed Robert Scott reached it.

1926  -             Mystery writer Agatha Christie reappears eleven days after being reported missing, with no memory of where she has been.

British crime writer Agatha Christie was born Mary Clarissa Miller on 15 September 1890. She became the world's best known mystery writer, selling over a billion copies of her mystery novels in English, and another billion in 45 foreign languages, as of 2003. She also published over eighty novels and stageplays, mainly whodunnits and locked room mysteries, many of these featuring one of her main series characters, Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple.

On the evening of Friday, 3 December 1926, Christie disappeared from her home near a small town in Berkshire, England. After her car was found abandoned several kilometres away with her belongings scattered around inside, there was a great deal of speculation about her fate. Theories ranged from it being a publicity stunt, to suicide, to murder. On 14 December 1926, Christie was found staying under an assumed name at a health spa in Harrogate, where she claimed to have suffered amnesia due to a nervous breakdown, following her mother's death and her husband's open infidelity. To this day, opinions remain divided over whether this was the truth, or the amnesia story was a publicity stunt.

1991  -             Aoraki/Mt Cook, New Zealand, permanently loses 10m from its height.

Mt Cook, also known as Aoraki, is the highest mountain in New Zealand. The name Aoraki means "Cloud Piercer" in the Ngi Tahu dialect of the Mori language. Situated on the South Island, Aoraki/Mt Cook is a popular destination for tourists and mountain-climbers. The mountain lies within the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park which was formally declared in 1953. Together with Westland National Park, it is one of the United Nations World Heritage Parks. Aoraki/Mt Cook lies adjacent to the Tasman Glacier in the east and the hooker Glacier in the west.

Abel Tasman is believed to be the first European known to see Aoraki/Mt Cook, when he formally discovered New Zealand in December 1642. The name Mount Cook was later assigned by Captain John Lort Stokes in honour of Captain James Cook, who was the first European to circumnavigate New Zealand in 1770. Ironically, Captain Cook did not sight the mountain during his journey. Its name was officially changed from Mt Cook to Aoraki/Mt Cook in 1998 to incorporate its historic Mori name, Aoraki.

The elevation of Aoraki/Mt Cook is 3,754 metres. The mountain permanently lost ten metres from its height on 14 December 1991 when 10 million cubic metres of rock and ice fell off the northern peak.

2004  -             The Millau Viaduct, the world's tallest vehicular bridge, is opened.

The Millau Viaduct is a cable-stayed road bridge that crosses the valley of the River Tarn near Millau in southern France. It consists of a 2,460 metre long eight-span steel roadway supported by seven concrete piers. It is the tallest vehicular bridge in the world; the summit of one of its piers stands at 341 metres, which is marginally higher than the Eiffel Tower. This makes it nearly twice as tall as the previous tallest road bridge in Europe, the Europabrücke in Austria.

Designed by British master-architect Lord Foster, together with French bridge engineer Michel Virlogeux, construction on the Millau Viaduct began on 10 October 2001. The bridge was formally opened on 14 December 2004 and opened to traffic on 16 December 2004.

Cheers - John



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1991 - even more evidence that Antony Van Diemens Land or AVDL as the locals affectionately called it is starting to break up - maybe the kiwis that are left over there should move back here to the mainland before it all goes pear shape. Don't know why that name never caught on in NZ I suppose that they couldn't find anything to go with it when they were writing their national anthem.



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Gday...

1810  -             Governor Lachlan Macquarie introduces a building code into the New South Wales colony.

Lachlan Macquarie was born on 31 January 1762 on the Isle of Mull in the Hebrides islands of Scotland. He joined the army at age 14 and gained experience in North America, India and Egypt. In 1808, he was appointed Governor of the New South Wales colony, a position he held from 1810 to 1821. With his military training and vision for organisation and discipline, Macquarie was an ideal candidate to restore order to the colony, following the Rum Rebellion against deposed Governor William Bligh.

On 15 December 1810, Macquarie introduced the first building code into the colony. The code required that all buildings were to be constructed of timber or brick, covered with a shingle roof, and include a chimney. Whilst Governor, Macquarie also ordered the construction of roads, bridges, wharves, churches and public buildings. Following an inspection of the sprawling, ramshackle settlement of Hobart Town in Van Diemen's Land, now Tasmania, Macquarie ordered government surveyor John Meehan to survey a regular street layout: this layout still forms the current centre of the city of Hobart.

1961  -             Adolf Eichmann, 'Chief Executioner of the Third Reich', is sentenced to death for his war crimes.

Adolf Eichmann was a member of the Austrian Nazi party in World War II. After his promotion to the Gestapo's Jewish section, he was essentially responsible for the extermination of millions of Jews during the war. He is often referred to as the 'Chief Executioner' of the Third Reich.

Eichmann escaped from a prison camp after US troops captured him at the close of the war. Wanting to avoid having to face the Nuremberg International War Crimes Tribunal, Eichmann fled to Argentina which was safely harbouring a number of Nazi war criminals. After his location was tipped off to authorities, agents from Israel's intelligence service, the Mossad, were deployed to Argentina, where they captured Eichmann.

Eichmann's trial in front of an Israeli court in Jerusalem started on 11 April 1961. He faced fifteen criminal charges, including crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people and war crimes. As part of Israeli criminal procedure, his trial was presided over by three judges instead of a jury, all of which were refugees from the Nazi regime in Germany. Eichmann was protected by a bulletproof glass booth and guarded by two men whose families had not suffered directly at the hands of the Nazis. Eichmann was convicted on all counts and sentenced to death on 15 December 1961. He was hanged a few minutes after midnight on 1 June 1962 at Ramla prison, the only civil execution ever carried out in Israel.

2000  -             The infamous Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine is permanently shut down.

Chernobyl is a city in northern Ukraine, near the border with Belarus. It is located 14.5 kilometres south by south-east of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which is notorious for the Chernobyl accident of 26 April 1986. Regarded as the worst accident in the history of nuclear power, clouds of radioactive particles were released, and the severely damaged containment vessel started leaking radioactive matter. 31 people died, 28 of them from acute radiation exposure. Between 100,000 and 200,000 people were evacuated from the city and other affected areas, but because there was no containment building, a plume of radioactive fallout drifted over parts of the western Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, UK, and the eastern United States.

The incident began with a steam explosion that resulted in a fire, a series of additional explosions, and the subsequent nuclear meltdown. Blame for the accident has been attributed to a combination of error by the power plant operators, and flaws in the reactor design, specifically the control rods. Health officials predicted that in the next 70 years there would be a 2% increase in cancer rates in much of the population which was exposed to the radioactive contamination released from the reactor. Another 10 people have already died of cancer as a result of the accident.

Following the 1986 accident, individual reactors at Chernobyl were gradually shut down. A fire caused one to be shut down in 1991, while another was deactivated in 1996. On 15 December 2000, the final nuclear reactor was taken offline, completing the permanent shut down of Chernobyl.

Chernobyl remains inhabited by a small number of residents who chose to return to their homes after the accident, but most of the evacuated population now lives in specially constructed towns.

2001  -             The Leaning Tower of Pisa is reopened after extensive restoration work to correct too much lean.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is the bell tower, or campanile, of the cathedral in Pisa's Campo dei Miracoli (field of Miracles). The tower took nearly 200 years to complete, being finished in 1372. Shortly after its construction began, it started to list to one side. The tower was seriously in danger of toppling completely by 1964, when the Italian government sought aid and advice in preserving its famous icon. Following decades of consultation and preparatory efforts, the tower was closed to the public in January 1990, remaining closed until December 2001 while corrective reconstruction and stabilisation work was implemented. The excessive lean of the tower was corrected by removing 38 cubic metres of soil from underneath the raised end: it is expected to remain stable for another 300 years. The Tower reopened for the first time in almost twelve years on 15 December 2001.

2014  -             Sydney, Australia, is gripped by a siege that lasts almost 17 hours and leaves three dead.

Martin Place in the Sydney CBD is a popular plaza for both workers and visitors. It incorporates a range of commercial and retail businesses, as well as an amphitheatre utilised for corporate and community events, and is usually a bustling thoroughfare. On the morning of 15 December 2014, this peaceful and previously safe venue became the scene of a terrifying siege which lasted into the early hours of the following day.

At around 9:45am, 50 year old Iranian cleric Man Haron Monis, who had been granted political asylum in Australia, entered the Lindt Chocolat Café in Martin Place. All people inside were taken hostage. After some were seen with their arms in the air, the CBD went into lockdown. Workers in surrounding buildings were ordered to evacuate, while a 150m exclusion zone was established around the cafe with specialist police outside the shop. During the course of the day, five hostages managed to escape, but at that stage it was not known how many remained inside. Several of the hostages were seen being made to hold a black flag with Arabic writing against a window, in a move which caused the world to fear it was an Islamic terrorist attack. The flag contained the Muslim testimony of faith. The gunman ordered his hostages to deliver his list of demands, but at the request of police, newspapers declined to publish these demands. The demands were later revealed to be the provision of an Islamic State flag, for the media to describe it an as Islamic State attack upon Australia, and a conversation with the Prime Minister. The demands were denied as experienced negotiators recognised they could lead to public execution of one or more hostages.

It transpired that Monis was out on bail for numerous violent offences, including being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife, and had been accused of sending offensive letters to the families of deceased Australian soldiers. Although he forced his hostages to wave an Islamic flag used by terrorist organisations, he acted alone and Muslim leaders in Australia condemned his actions. The siege came to an end when armed police stormed the building about 2:00am the following morning after hearing shouting and shots from inside. Two hostages were killed, Lindt cafe manager Tori Johnson, 34, who tried to wrestle the firearm from the gunman, and Sydney lawyer Katrina Dawson, 38, who shielded her pregnant friend, while several others were injured. The gunman also died.

Cheers - John



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Thanks for that John, another good read

Re 2000 - The infamous Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine is permanently shut down.

I shall never forget the initial reaction of the authorities, back in the day in 1986, when the original meltdown occurred, and their policy was to say nothing



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December 16 Today in History


Gday...

1631  -             Mount Vesuvius erupts, destroying six villages and killing up to 4,000 people.

Mount Vesuvius is the only active volcano on the European mainland. It is located on the coast of the Bay of Naples, about nine kilometres east of Naples. Mt Vesuvius gained notoriety when, on August 24 AD 79, the city of Pompeii and the neighbouring city of Herculaneum were buried under a pyroclastic flow, a cloud of superheated gas, ash, and rock erupting from the volcano.

Mount Vesuvius continued to erupt dozens of times through the years, though not with the same destructive force. Its most devastating eruption since AD 79 occurred on 16 December 1631, when six villages were buried under lava flows and torrents of boiling water spewed from the volcano. Between three thousand and four thousand people were killed in this eruption.

This event signalled a new phase of regular, destructive eruptions. Since 1631, Vesuvius has erupted explosively another 22 times, with constant rumblings in between. There have been no major eruptions since 1944, the longest recorded period of inactivity in almost 500 years.

1770  -             The great composer, Ludwig van Beethoven, is born.

The true date of Beethoven's birth is not known, but it is commonly regarded that he was born on 16 December 1770. He was baptised on 17 December 1770, and it was common practice for infants of his time to be baptised the day after they were born. Born in Bonn, Germany, Beethoven's talent was recognised when he was very young, but only began to develop fully after he moved to Vienna in 1792 and studied under Joseph Haydn. This marked his "Early" composing career, when he tended to write music in the style of his predecessors, Haydn and Mozart. His first and second symphonies, the first six string quartets, the first two piano concertos, and the first twenty piano sonatas, including the Pathétique and Moonlight, were written in this period.

Beethoven's "Middle" period of composing began shortly after he was beset with deafness. His music of this period tended towards large-scale works expressing heroism and struggle, and included six symphonies, commencing with the "Eroica", and including the rich and penetrating Fifth Symphony. Other works include the last three piano concertos and his only violin concerto, five string quartets (Nos. 7 11), many piano sonatas, including the Waldstein and Appassionata, and his only opera, Fidelio.

The "Late" period of Beethoven's career encompassed the final eleven years of his life, and his compositions reflected his personal expression in their depth and intensity. Among the works of this period are the Ninth Symphony, the "Choral", the Missa Solemnis, the last six string quartets and the last five piano sonatas. Beethoven died on 26 March 1827, but his legacy lives on in his brilliant, expressive compositions.

1824  -             Hume and Hovell mistakenly arrive at Corio Bay, instead of Westernport Bay.

Hamilton Hume was an Australian-born settler with excellent bush skills. He was interested in exploring south of the known Sydney area in order to open up new areas of land, but could not gain Government support for his proposed venture. William Hovell was an English former ship's captain with little bush experience, keen to assist Hume's expedition financially, and accompany him. Hume and Hovell commenced their expedition on 3 October 1824. Although the two men argued for most of their journey, and even for many years after their return, the expedition was successful in many ways. Hume and Hovell were the first to discover the "Hume River", though it was later renamed by Sturt as the Murray River. They were the first white men to see the Australian Alps. Much good grazing and pasture land was also found.

There was one major mistake, however. Hovell, as navigator, managed to incorrectly calculate their position when they thought they had reached Westernport on the southern coast. They were actually at Corio Bay within Port Phillip, where the city of Geelong now stands. They reached this point on 16 December 1824. As a result of their reports of excellent farmland when they returned to Sydney, a party was sent to settle the Westernport area in 1826, only to find poor water and soil quality. The Port Philip settlement was abandoned, and not resumed for another ten years. Nonetheless, Hume and Hovell's expedition was still valuable for opening up vast tracts of fertile land.

1845  -             Thomas Mitchell departs Orange, New South Wales, in search of a great river flowing to the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Major Thomas Mitchell was born in Craigend, Scotland, in 1792. He came to Australia after serving in the Army during the Napoleonic Wars, and took up the position of Surveyor-General of New South Wales. He undertook four separate expeditions into the NSW interior.

Mitchell departed on his fourth and final expedition on 16 December 1845, in search of a great river that he believed must flow from southern Queensland to the Gulf of Carpentaria. He left from Orange in central New South Wales, and headed into what is now western Queensland. Mitchell discovered and named the Balonne, Culgoa, Barcoo and Belyando rivers, which mostly flowed south-west into the Darling. Although this area was not as rich as the land he had found in Victoria on his third expedition, it would prove to be excellent grazing country in the future.

1860  -             Burke makes the fateful decision to push on to the Gulf from Cooper Creek, despite waterless country and searing summer heat.

Robert O'Hara Burke and William Wills led the expedition that was intended to bring fame and prestige to Victoria: being the first to cross Australia from south to north and back again. They set out on Monday, 20 August 1860, leaving from Royal Park, Melbourne, and farewelled by around 15,000 people. The exploration party was very well equipped, and the cost of the expedition almost 5,000 pounds.

Because of the size of the exploration party, it was split at Menindee so that Burke could push ahead to the Gulf of Carpentaria with a smaller party. The smaller group went on ahead to establish the depot which would serve to offer the necessary provisions for when the men returned from the Gulf. On November 20, Burke and Wills first reached Cooper Creek. From here, they made several shorter trips to the north, but were forced back each time by waterless country and extreme temperatures. On 16 December 1860, Burke decided to push on ahead to the Gulf, regardless of the risks. He took with him Wills, Charles Grey and John King.

The expedition to the Gulf took longer than Burke anticipated: upon his return to Cooper Creek, he found that the relief party had left just seven hours earlier, less than the amount of time it had taken to bury Gray, who had died on the return journey. Through poor judgement, lack of observation and a series of miscommunications, Burke and Wills never met up with the relief party. They perished on the banks of Cooper Creek. King alone survived to lead the rescue party to the remains of Burke and Wills, and the failure of one of the most elaborately planned expeditions in Australia's history.

1997  -             700 people, mostly children, are hospitalised following the broadcast of a cartoon which triggers 'Nintendo epilepsy'.

On 16 December 1997, over 700 people in Japan were rushed to hospital suffering similar, but unusual, symptoms of simultaneous seizures. The common factor was that they had all watched a cartoon segment on the "Pokemon" show, based on Nintendo's "Pocket Monsters" Game Boy game. The catalyst to their problem seemed to be a scene featuring an explosion, which was then followed by several seconds of flashing red light in the eyes of one of the show's characters. Viewers who were admitted to hospitals complained of convulsions, vomiting, and other symptoms.

Major video game manufacturers now admit that some games can trigger seizures or "seizure-like symptoms" in some video game players. Such seizures are usually triggered by repetitive flashing lights, combined with the presentation of certain geometric patterns within the games.   

Cheers - John



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,Hi John

Last year in our travels around Europe we visited the destroyed city of Pompeii, awesome experience to see first hand how they had built their city, the way they lived, the work that has been done to excavate the area was very interesting and a huge tourist attraction.

Cheers Ralph.



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December 17 Today in History


Gday...

1538  -             King Henry VIII is excommunicated from the Catholic Church, paving the way for him to establish a new Christian denomination.

Henry VIII was born on 28 June 1491 at the Palace of Placentia at Greenwich, England. He was the third child of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. In 1494, he was created Duke of York. He was subsequently appointed Earl Marshal of England and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, though still a child. His elder brother Arthur and Catherine of Aragon married in 1501, but his brother died of an infection very soon afterwards. At the age of eleven, Henry, Duke of York, found himself heir-apparent to the Throne. Soon thereafter, he was created Prince of Wales.

Henry VIII ascended the throne in 1509 after the death of his father Henry VII. He married Catherine of Aragon about nine weeks after his accession, on 11 June 1509, at Greenwich. Queen Catherine suffered numerous failed pregnancies until she gave birth to a daughter in 1516. Henry sought to divorce Catherine over her inability to produce a male heir, but the Pope refused permission: Henry divorced her anyway. He pronounced himself Head of a new Protestant denomination known as the Church of England and took the power for himself. Henry VIII became notorious for his many wives, eventually marrying Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr.

On 17 December 1538, Henry VIII was formally excommunicated from the Roman Catholic church by Pope Paul III. There remains some dispute over who excommunicated the king and when, as other sources suggest he was excommunicated by Pope Clement VII in 1533, following his marriage to Anne Boleyn. Either way, the act of excommunication contributed to the Protestant Reformation.

1778  -             Humphry Davy, inventor of the Davy miner's safety lamp and discoverer of numerous elements, is born.

British chemist and inventor Humphry Davy was born at Penzance in Cornwall on 17 December 1778. Davy is known for discovering the alkali metals of potassium and sodium, and the alkaline earth metals of calcium, barium, magnesium, potassium and strontium.

The son of a talented wood-carver and educated at Penzance grammar school, Davy was interested in history, literature and science from a young age. He showed a remarkable memory and eagerness to read and learn. At age twenty, Davy joined the Pneumatic Institution at Bristol, an institution established to investigate the medical powers of factitious airs and gases. Davy superintended the various experiments, discovering more about gases and elements. He also helped develop the field of electrolysis, i.e. the separation of chemically bonded elements and compounds by passing an electric current through them, using a battery to split up common compounds.

Of major importance was Davy's invention of the miner's safety lamp. Mining explosions were frequently caused by firedamp or methane which was often ignited by the open flames of the lamps used by coal miners. He pioneered a method of using an iron gauze to enclose a lamp's flame, and so prevent the methane burning inside the lamp from passing out to the general atmosphere. Whilst his design had flaws of its own, the concept was taken up by other inventors who perfected it. The Davy safety lamp greatly reduced the number of mining accidents.

Davy's experiments required the regular inhalation of various gases, a fact which took its toll on his health. He died in Switzerland in 1829, aged just 51. He is commemorated by a statue in his hometown of Penzance.  

1845  -             After a gruelling journey of 4827km, Leichhardt reaches Port Essington in Australia's north.

Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Leichhardt was born on 23 October 1813, in Trebatsch, Prussia, which is now Brandenburg, Germany. Passionate about the natural sciences, he came to Australia in 1842, where he promptly undertook to explore the continent and gather botanical and geological specimens.

 

On 1 October 1844, Leichhardt commenced his first expedition, leaving from Jimbour Station on the Darling Downs to find a new route to the tiny military outpost of Port Essington in the north, not far from where Darwin now stands. Leichhardt was not a good bushman, lacked skills of organising his party, and often became lost. One man was killed by aborigines on the marathon expedition, and numerous horses and supplies were lost. Leichhardt reluctantly discarded his extensive collection of botanical specimens, as there were too many to carry. His journey of nearly 5,000km took fourteen months, which was so much longer than expected that a friend of Leichhardt's composed a funeral dirge for him, expecting to never see him again. Leichhardt arrived at Port Essington on 17 December 1845.

1903  -             The Wright brothers make the first sustained, controlled flights in a powered aircraft.

Wilbur Wright was born in 1867 and his brother Orville in 1871. The brothers are credited with being the first to build a flying machine, although debate continues as to whether they really were the first. It is true, however, that the Wrights were first to design and build a flying craft that could be controlled whilst in the air.

On 17 December 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright made the first sustained, controlled flights in a powered aircraft. Their flight lasted 12 seconds, and continued for 120 feet. Their achievement, however, went largely ignored by most American newspapers. The headlines in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, the only newspaper to capture the story, read "Flying Machine Flies 3 Miles in Teeth of High Wind over Sand Hills and Waves at Kitty Hawk on Carolina Coast".

1967  -             Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt goes missing whilst swimming at Portsea, Victoria.

Harold Edward Holt was born in Sydney on 5 August 1908. After studying law at the University of Melbourne, he practised as a solicitor before being elected to Federal Parliament in 1936. After a thirty-year career in politics, he became Prime Minister following the retirement of Sir Robert Menzies in January 1966.

On 17 December 1967, Holt went swimming at Cheviot Beach on Point Nepean near Portsea, on the Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne. After plunging into the notoriously rough surf, Holt disappeared. He was never seen again, and theories as to his fate have abounded since then. These theories include that he committed suicide, faked his own death in order to run away with his mistress, or that he was a Chinese spy. Despite an extensive search, neither his body nor any trace of his clothes was ever found. He was officially presumed dead on 19 December 1967.

Cheers - John



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Another good read, as always, so thanks for that John

Re 1778 - Humphry Davy, inventor of the Davy miner's safety lamp and discoverer of numerous elements, is born.

The Davy safety lamp, was still the ants pants of safety tools, for the underground coal miner, during my era of the 1960's

To explain it in its simplest form

The holes in the gauze were large enough to allow the oxygen and any gas to enter
The holes were also too small to allow the flame through to the outside, and cause an explosion
If the flame rose higher, it meant that there was gas being burnt
If the flame went smaller, or extinguished itself, it meant that the atmosphere could not support flame or life

Approximately one in five men carried a Davy lamp, in my local colliery



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December 18 Today in History


Gday...

1707  -             Methodist leader Charles Wesley is born.

Charles Wesley was the younger brother of John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement of Protestantism, but was also a leader of the Methodist movement in his own right. He was born on 18 December 1707, in Epworth, Lincolnshire, England. Whilst studying at Christ Church College, Oxford, Wesley formed the "Oxford Methodist" group among his fellow students in 1729, a group which his brother later joined. However, Charles did not wish to break away from the Church of England into which he and his brother were both ordained.

Charles Wesley is best known for writing up to six thousand popular and well-loved hymns, including:

"Amazing Love"
"And Can It Be?"
"Hark, The Herald Angels Sing"
"Jesus, Lover of My Soul"
"Christ the Lord Is Risen Today"
"Love Divine, All Loves Excelling"
"O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing"

Wesley's name is listed in the Gospel Music Hall of Fame for the enduring nature of his hymns. He died on 29 March 1788.

1778  -             England's most famous clown and the creator of the sad-clown face, Joseph Grimaldi, is born.

Grimaldi was born in Clare Market, London, on 18 December 1778. The son of an Italian ballet-master and a mother who was a theatre dancer, Grimaldi was destined for the stage in some capacity: when only three years old, he began to appear at the Sadler's Wells theatre.

Grimaldi was beset by personal tragedy: he lost his father when he was two, his wife died in childbirth, and his son drank himself to death by age thirty. However, he was considered a brilliant pantomime clown, with his greatest success being in Harlequin and Mother Goose; or the Golden Egg at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden in 1808. This pantomime is still often revived. He developed the concept of the clown as a bumbling buffoon, and his physical dexterity was remarkable for achieving this. Grimaldi effectively developed the white painted "sad clown" face so popular with later clowns.

Suffering ill health, Grimaldi retired from the stage in the 1820s, his performances sadly missed. He died on 31 May 1837, and his grave lies in Joseph Grimaldi Park, formerly, the courtyard of St. James's Chapel, Pentonville Road in Islington.         

1863  -             Franz Ferdinand, Austrian Archduke, whose assassination sparked WWI, is born.

Until 1878 Bosnia and Herzegovina, just outside Austria, had been governed by the Turks. After the Treaty of Berlin in 1878, Austria was granted the power to administer the two provinces. Bosnia was populated primarily by the Croats, ethnic Serbs and Muslims. Nationalism among the Bosnian-Serbs was inflamed when Austria annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina directly into the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1908.

His Imperial and Royal Highness Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Este, was born 18 December 1863. He was an Archduke of Austria and from 1896 until his death, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne. The Archduke was one of the leading advocates of maintaining the peace within the Austro-Hungarian government during both the Bosnian Crisis of 1908-1909 and the Balkan Wars Crises of 1912-1913.

"The Black hand" was a secret nationalistic Serb society who determined to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand when he accepted the invitation of Bosnia's governor to inspect the army manoeuvres outside Sarajevo. Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated at approximately 11:00am on 28 June 1914. The assassination led to war between Austria and Serbia, which escalated into World War I as other European countries allied themselves with one side or the other.

1865  -             Slavery is abolished in the United States of America.

The first African slaves arrived in north America in 1526, and though the practice of slavery took many years to become popular, it thrived under British colonialism. On 1 January 1808 American Congress voted to ban further importation of slaves, but children of slaves automatically became slaves themselves. There was no legislation against the internal US slave trade, or against the involvement in the international slave trade and the outfitting of ships for that trade by US citizens.

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States, was not in favour of abolition of slavery, but he opposed its expansion into new territories and states in the American West. It was this issue that led to the secession of the southern states to form the Confederate States of America, and ultimately also led to the Civil War. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 made the abolition of slavery an official war goal and it was implemented as the Union of northern states retook territory from the Confederacy. The Republican Party introduced the Thirteenth Amendment into Congress to enable the implementation of the Proclamation as the War drew to a close. When the last Confederate troops surrendered on 26 May 1865, the final ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment took place on 6 December 1865, officially ending chattel slavery in the United States. Final recognition of the amendment occurred on 18 December 1865.

1894  -             Women in South Australia unofficially gain the right to vote.

Women in South Australia gained the right to vote in 1894, and voted for the first time in the election of 1896. It is generally recognised that this right occurred with the passing of a Bill on 18 December 1894. However, a letter from the Attorney-General advising Governor Kintore that Royal Assent would be required to enact the Bill, is dated 21 December 1894. The Bill was enacted when Queen Victoria gave Royal Assent on 2 February 1895.

South Australia was the first colony in Australia and only the fourth place in the world where women gained the vote. The issue of women voting had been discussed since the 1860s, but gained momentum following the formation of the Women's Suffrage League at Gawler Place in 1888. Between 1885 and 1894, six Bills were introduced into Parliament but not passed. The final, successful Bill was passed in 1894, but initially included a clause preventing women from becoming members of Parliament. Ironically, the clause was removed thanks to the efforts of Ebenezer Ward, an outspoken opponent of women's suffrage. It seems that Ward hoped the inclusion of women in Parliament would be seen as so ridiculous that the whole Bill would be voted out. The change was accepted, however, allowing the women of South Australia to gain complete parliamentary equality with men.

1912  -             The skull of Piltdown Man, the fraudulent and so-called missing link between ape and man, is unveiled to the public.

On 18 December 1912, fragments of a fossil skull and jawbone were unveiled at a meeting of the Geological Society in London. These bone fragments, estimated to be almost a million years old, were considered to be evidence of early man. The skull became known as Piltdown Man, and was recognised as the "missing link" between ape and man. The remains, officially named Eoanthropus dawsoni, were supposedly discovered in Piltdown Quarry near Uckfield in Sussex, England, by Charles Dawson, a solicitor and an amateur palaeontologist.

Forty years later, on 21 November 1953, a team of English scientists exposed Piltdown Man as a deliberate fraud. The skull fragments were a mixture of bone parts: the skull belonged to a medieval human, the jaw was determined to be that of an orang-utan, from approximately 500 years ago, and the teeth came from a chimpanzee. It has never been determined whether Dawson himself was the perpetrator of the fraud, as he died in 1916. However, further research on his "discoveries" has determined several dozen of them to be frauds.

Cheers - John



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Thanks John!

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December 19 Today in History


Gday...

1686  -             The fictitious character of Robinson Crusoe is rescued from his island.

Robinson Crusoe is a novel written by Daniel Defoe and first published on 25 April 1719. The full title of the novel is:

The Life and strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, where-in all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver'd by Pyrates. Written by Himself.

"Robinson crusoe" is about the fictitious character of an English castaway who has to survive for 28 years on a remote tropical island near Venezuela before being rescued, on 19 December 1686. The story is unique in that it is written in autobiographical style, seeming to give an account of actual events. This style of writing was not common in the 18th century.

"Robinson Crusoe" is believed to have been based on the true story of Scottish castaway Alexander Selkirk, who lived for four years on the remote Pacific island of Más a Tierra, although in 1966 its name was changed to Robinson Crusoe Island. 

1764  -             William Cox, the builder of the first road over the Blue Mountains of NSW, is born.

William Cox was to become the builder of the first road from Sydney, over the Blue Mountains to the Bathurst Plains, opening up the area for settlement. He was born in Wimborne Minster, Dorset, England on 19 December 1764. Following a prestigious military career in England, he became Lieutenant in the New South Wales Corps in 1797, being made paymaster the following year. He brought his wife and four sons to Australia, leaving England in August 1799 and arriving in Australia on 11 January 1800.

Cox briefly endured allegations of misappropriating funds, for which he had to return to England, but after being cleared of all charges, he returned again to Australia in 1811. He resigned his commission, becoming principal magistrate at the Hawkesbury, and also taking on responsibility for erecting many government buildings.

In May 1813, Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth crossed the Blue Mountains, finding rich farming land in the Hartley region. George Evans, Deputy Surveyor-General of New South Wales, was keen to progress beyond the discoveries made by Lawson, Blaxland and Wentworth so the colony could expand beyond the Great Dividing Range. Leaving Sydney in mid-November 1813, Evans soon reached a mountain which he named Mt Blaxland, which was the termination of Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth's explorations. He continued on through the countryside, eventually reaching the site of present-day Bathurst.

Upon Evans's return to Sydney, he recommended building a road which would follow the ridge track determined by Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth. Shortly after this, William Cox was commissioned to build the road to Bathurst, using convict labour. The original Great Western Highway was 3.7m wide, covered 161 km and incorporated twelve bridges. It was completed on 21 January 1815. Following completion of the road, Macquarie travelled along "Cox's Pass", taking eleven days to reach the site of Bathurst, where the Union Jack was raised.

The Governor commended Cox, stating that the project would have taken three years if it had been done under a contract. Cox was awarded 2,000 acres of land near Bathurst.

1843  -             Charles Dickens's 'A Christmas Carol' is published for the first time.

English novelist Charles John Huffam Dickens was born on 7 February 1812 in Landport, Hampshire, England. Dickens spent a carefree childhood reading and roaming outdoors, but that changed when his father was imprisoned for outstanding debt when young Charles was only twelve. The boy was thrust into working 10 hours a day in Warrens boot-blacking factory in London. The money he earned supported himself and his family who then lived in Marshalsea debtor's prison. When an inheritance from his father's family paid off the family's debt and freed them from prison, Dickens' mother insisted Charles stay working in the factory which was owned by a relative. Dickens' resentment of his situation and the conditions working-class people lived under coloured his later writings.

When in his early twenties, Dickens became a journalist. His writings were very popular and read extensively. His novella "A Christmas Carol" was first published on 19 December 1843, and thousands of copies were sold before Christmas Eve that year. The story tells of an old and bitter miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, who, on being visited by the ghost of his deceased business partner Jacob Marley, undergoes a profound transformation, becoming the kind and generous character he was before bad life experiences embittered him. The themes of social injustice and poverty are obvious throughout the story, and it remains to this day an enduring tale of man's need for love and forgiveness.

1865  -             Chinese bushranger Sam Poo is hanged in Bathurst, Australia.

The discovery of gold in Australia brought an influx of new arrivals from overseas. The Chinese were particularly attracted to Australia's goldfields, and were known for their persistence and ethic of hard-work. Whilst most Chinese stayed together, occasionally an individual would break from the crowd and explore other options for earning a living.

On the morning of 3 February 1865, Senior Constable John Ward was returning to Coonabarabran after escorting a prisoner to Mudgee. Upon hearing about a Chinese bushranger who was robbing travellers on the Gulgong-Mudgee road, he instigated a search and located where the bushranger, Sam Poo, was hiding. Both men drew their guns, but Sam Poo killed the Constable before disappearing into the bush. This murder, and the rape of a settler's wife, caused a determined posse to hunt down the bushranger. Nine months after being captured, on 19 December 1865, Sam Poo was executed at Bathurst, New South Wales.

1958  -             The first radio broadcast from space is transmitted.

The experimental satellite "Project SCORE" was launched on 17 December 1958. Two days later, on 19 December 1958, the first radio broadcast was transmitted from space. A pre-recorded tape on a recorder on board the orbiting space satellite transmitted the following Christmas greeting from then-US President Eisenhower:

"This is the President of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite circling in outer space. My message is a simple one. Through this unique means I convey to you and all mankind America's wish for peace on earth and good will to men everywhere."

1964  -             The newly-built town of Jindabyne, relocated for the building of the Snowy Mountain Hydro-electric scheme, is opened.

The town of Jindabyne resulted from the earliest settlements in Australia's Snowy Mountains. It is thought to have come about after the Pendergast brothers, sons of an ex-convict, arrived in the area possibly as early as the 1820s. Sheep farming, wheat and a flour mill gave the town its first start, and more impetus came with the goldrush of the high country, in 1859-1860. It is believed that as new settlers arrived in the district, the town sprang up around a popular crossing of the Snowy River. A general store and post office was established in 1862, followed by a school in 1882 and a police station in 1883. Rainbow trout were released into the Snowy River in 1884, starting the popular tradition of trout fishing in the area.

The construction of new buildings in Jindabyne was banned by the Australian Government in 1960, when it was announced that the town, together with the nearby town of Adaminaby, would be flooded to create Jindabyne Lake, a dam that would feed the proposed Snowy Mountain Hydro-Electric Scheme. Between 1962 and 1964, Jindabyne and Adaminaby were gradually relocated onto higher ground. On 19 December 1964, "new Jindabyne" was officially opened by Sir Eric Woodward, the Governor of NSW. The dam was completed in 1967, and thousands of hectares of land flooded.

1984  -             Britain signs an historic agreement to return Hong Kong to China in 1997.

Britain invaded China in 1839, during the First Opium War. After Britain occupied Hong Kong, China ceded the island to the British under the Convention of Chuenpi (Chuanbi) signed on 20 January 1841. Hong Kong Island then became a Crown Colony on 29 August 1842 under the Treaty of Nanking. Following the Second Opium War (1856-1860), China was forced to cede the Kowloon Peninsula, adjacent to Hong Kong Island, along with other area islands. In 1898, the UK commenced a 99-year lease of Hong Kong and surrounding islands and territories, increasing the size of the Hong Kong colony. The lease would expire at midnight on 30 June 1997.

Negotiations on the future of Hong Kong were initiated between Britain and China in 1982. On 19 December 1984, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang signed the Joint Sino-British Declaration approving the 1997 turnover of the colony. The Declaration allowed for the formulation of a "one country, two systems" policy by China's communist government, permitting Hong Kong to have a capitalist economy and enjoy existing rights and freedoms. Democratic elections for the new Legislative Council were held in 1995. In 1997, Hong Kong's Chief Executive, Tung Chee-hwa, was sworn in as the new leader.

Cheers - John



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Robinson Crusoe; my generation grew up thriving on this book and also Coral Island by RM Ballantyne. These books were the inspiration for our childhood adventures building cubby houses in back paddocks and setting out on expeditions into the unknown. Kids today miss out on that and TV programmes leave nothing to their imagination. I feel lucky to have read and enjoyed these books. Thanks, John for reminding me.

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