The Space Race – a personal story

The Space Race – A Personal Story. At the beginning of September, Falcon 9 launched 60 satellites into orbit for the Starlink broadband network – a necessary addition to our daily lives – especially since Covid19 has created lockdowns in most countries. So it seemed a good time to go back to the beginning of satellite communications, which takes us way back to the early 1960’s – over half a century ago.

G’Day from Oz Podcast

Patrick Hetherman remembers those days very well, because as a young family man, he came to Australia from the U.K. to join a NASA tracking station at Cooby Creek, which would not only play a part for the 1969 moon landing but be an essential step forward for mankind’s ability to communicate into remote areas. And Pat has an interesting story to impart about that famous first moon landing – that few people know about.


Cracow, Qld.

We have been doing a great deal of armchair traveling for the last few months in isolation. Happily, restrictions are now easing and we are being encouraged to take to the roads as grey nomads or tourists. In particular, we are encouraged to visit the smaller townships to jump-start their flagging economy.

Cracow General Store

On this level there is no township smaller than Cracow Queensland, which has a population of less than 35, although there is little opportunity to spread any financial largess, other than the one retail establishment for 50 kilometres, and that is the Cracow Hotel.

Having said that, Cracow itself is well worth a visit. And here’s why.

Cracow Hotel in Ghost Town, Cracow Queensland

Cracow is a formally accepted ghost town – in the sense of being deserted. It’s also an active gold mining town with over 200 fly in fly out workers. The Cracow Hotel is run by Fred Brophy, who runs the last remaining traveling boxing tent, and the pub itself is – well you really have to see it yourself. You’ll find a number of surprises inside. Indeed celebrities like Ian Mcnamara, Dick Smith, and Richard Branson have done just that. And left their signatures on the walls to prove it.


My first visit was in May 2018. This was to accompany a film producer checking out the town as the location for the Comedy Horror, Two Heads Creek. An English / Australian Co-Pro starring Kathleen Wilder, Jordon Waller, Kerry Armstrong, and Gary Sweet, with lots of local extras eaten up with ambition

The Director and other Producer undertook the grueling Melbourne to Brisbane then 6 hour trip north, and found the town perfect: for murder and mayhem. I won’t give a spoiler, but you can see from the poster above it covers quite a few bases. Some worthy of the occasional chuckle – or scream. Take your pick.

And the good news is that Producer Judd Tilyard has intentions of opening up a regional film center in Cracow – so movie buffs put it on your calendar. Who knows, you could even finish up being IN the movie, instead of watching it.

For some fascinating audio about the filming of Two Heads Creek, go to the G’Day from Oz PodBlog page for Filming in Cracow

The place for nightime storytelling

BC and AC

Before Covid – After Covid

When I was growing up in my English Church of England Primary School we had R.E, or Religious Instruction once a week. I have little idea what was taught as I usually spent the time doodling, whispering to friends, or day dreaming. But I did learn two things. The time boundary that divided “BC: from “AD”

Covid 19

“AD’ fooled me into thinking I knew a bit of Latin because it means ‘Anno Domini’. So, for example, the year 1950, would often be written as, ‘1950 A.D.’ meaning ‘in the year of our Lord 1950.’

‘BC however, meant ‘ Before Christ’, and for many religious historians, who only believe in the New Testament, that time didn’t exist, or if it did, it was pagan, and therefore not worth knowing. In other words, this was the time of The Old Testament.

That was a long time ago. But nowadays the phrase “Before Covid” is heard constantly.  And sometime soon that may well be shortened to BC (Hard to believe that the first 8 known cases were released on January 24th). Though formally speaking if we refer to it by its correct name of Covid19, then December 31st  is the last day BC.  And by the same thought process we are now – and for ever after, in AC. or After Covid.

The daily news is giving us glimpses of how this AC future will pan out.  Yes, we are globally in Recession, yes, we are playing the Blame Game as to where the virus came from, whether it was accidental or intentional, and many other variable conspiracy theories dealing with trying to take over the world. Compulsory inoculation may be just around the corner.

Certainly, our phones will have to carry a travel id, and currently Melbourne City has made the wearing of face masks compulsory.

Imagine an entire city going about their everyday chores dressed like this!

Of course, it could be worse. Back in 1942, the wearing of gas masks was compulsory, even in schools, even for kids.

Young school children wearing gas masks, World War 1
Compulsory gas masks, even for kids. World War 2

And for those of us who have read George Orwell’s 1984 book. or watched the British dystopian science fiction film of the same name, the world of 1984 and Big Brother watching our every move, including thought police – is really here. (And no, I am not referring to reality t.v.) But it is really the young generation – the millennial – who will live most of their lives only knowing AC. It’s quite a thought.

To date, over 10 million people have contracted the disease. And claimed almost half a million lives. It is unknown how many are carrying the virus. The best site for the updates is which I have just learned was begun by Avi Shiffman, who is still only 17. Avi has built one of the most popular tracking websites in the world, with over 30 million visitors a day. He even turned down $8 million to put ads on the site. An incredible young man, and an incredible, if daunting site.

It seems odd to think back to the blissful BC time a few months ago when we were all talking about “the greatest threat and dilemma facing the world:” that is, or was, climate change. Remember Greta Thunberg, even now only 16.

And what does it say to our political leaders that our social leaders are so very young – with so much of their life ahead of them>

If there is one joy to be had in our new era of A.C it is that without industry and traffic pollution in air, land or sea, our planet has had a chance to heal. And is doing wonderfully well.

If only we can keep it that way.

Poppies growing in bright sunlight
Beautiful flowers in a beautiful world.