Way back when, Wednesdays

The ones that couldn’t get away

Nobody would have gone home empty handed after this fishing trip, when the Dernancourt pool was transformed into a giant fish tank. On page 23 of the edition dated 15 June 1983, the Leader Messenger reported on the upcoming ‘Fish-in’ to be held from 18-19 June at the Dernancourt Swimming Centre, formally situated at Mahogany Drive, Dernancourt, alongside the River Torrens.

Fish in Messenger

Fish-in was held as a fundraiser by the Freemasons of the Thorngate Lodge of Prospect under the leadership of Worshipful Brother G.R. Gray, in conjunction with the City of Tea Tree Gully and local service clubs. The Kersbrook Trout Far stocked the pool with 200 live trout, purchased by Council.

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Fish-in was marketed as a family friendly event and attracted both experienced and amateur anglers. Four sessions of fishing were held over two days. Participants paid $4 each which covered the entry fee and the hire of a fishing rod. An officer from the Fisheries Department was on-site to provide tips on how to improve your fishing technique.

PH05060

So what did the anglers use for bait? Bait was provided and it was sweetcorn! You were allowed to take home any fish that you caught, so many local residents would have been eating trout for dinner and possibly stocking up their freezers.

There were prizes awarded in different categories such as for catching the heaviest fish and for the highest number of fish caught by an individual. You also had the chance to win a prize by catching special tagged trout released into the pool. If the kids became bored they could take a break by frequenting the food stalls and sideshows set up especially for Fish-in, around the grounds of the swimming centre.

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More than $2000 was raised from the Fish-in and the funds were used in the restoration of the Grand Lodge Building on North Terrace. Given the success of the initial event another Fish-in was held the following year on the weekend of 5-6 May.

Fish-in

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Way back when, Wednesdays

The fast and the far-fetched

Every now and then, the Adelaide media report on some unfortunate car driver who has misinterpreted road signs, taken the wrong lane and become stranded on the tracks of the O-Bahn busway at Hackney Road. If you drive a regular vehicle onto the O-Bahn tracks instead of a specially modified bus, a car pit mechanism situated just before the Hackney Road tunnel will tear out the oil pan on the underside of your car’s engine.

On the front page of the edition dated 12 July 1989, the Leader Messenger reported on a somewhat eccentric plan for the Sunday preceding the Australian Formula One Grand Prix. Formula Holden racing cars and even a Formula One racing car would drive down the O-Bahn tracks to the Paradise Interchange, then travel on the road to their destination at Tea Tree Gully. Not only would this event promote the car race and the busway, it would bring out local residents and tourists to the City of Tea Tree Gully.

Formula OBahn

Aside from having to lift the racing cars onto the tracks by crane to avoid the pit mechanism, there are some obvious flaws in this plan. Saloon cars and especially a Formula One racing cars are incredibly expensive to manufacture. Each Formula One car is worth approximately $2.6 million in material costs. The engine of a Formula One racing car is an example of engineering excellence. A steering wheel alone can cost up to $50,000 (http://autoweek.com/article/formula-one/why-do-formula-one-grand-prix-cars-cost-so-much). It is highly unlikely that the Grand Prix Office and Holden would risk damaging these precision vehicles for such an exercise. Would the width of these cars’ axels and the wheels even be the same as the span of the O-Bahn tracks?

There is no indication in the article of who devised this plan but as the saying goes, somebody thought that it like a good idea at the time. A week later on 19 July 1989, the Leader Messenger reported on page 1 that the State Government had vetoed racing cars driving on the tracks for safety reasons. Transport Minister Frank Blevin stated that racing cars driving on the tracks would be dangerous for O-Bahn commuters and “put ideas in other people’s minds.”

Grand Prix cars

If you did not experience the Grand Prix it began in November 1985 when Adelaide hosted the last race of the Formula One championship season. This was the time before the Adelaide Fringe, Womadelaide and the Clipsal 500. The Formula One race showed that Adelaide could stage a world class event. Over 200,000 spectators attended the four-day event.

The atmosphere in the city was exciting and you could easily hear the roar of the car engines (I remember my fellow Adelaide Uni students imitating the noise for fun). There were tourists visiting from interstate and overseas. The slogan ‘Adelaide Alive’ was used on promotional materials and merchandise. There were flags flying and posters promoting the race were displayed everywhere in the city centre.

Adelaide Alive

At the glamourous Grand Prix Ball, fans paid $400 for a ticket to dress up and mix with drivers and pit crew, while being entertained by Australian and international artists. Ordinary people held their own grand prix themed barbeques or parties while watching the action on television.

The colourful yet challenging street circuit ran through the east parklands and Victoria Park Racecourse. The racing drivers praised the street circuit. Their cars could reach high speeds of over 322 km/h along the fast wide straights and they needed all their skill to maneuver around the twisting turns of the hairpin and chicane.

During the era of the Formula One Grand Prix, Adelaide was privileged to watch drivers from all many different countries compete, such as Keke Rosberg, Michael Schumacher, Nigel Mansell, Nelson Piquet, Damon Hill. Spectators experienced the rivalry between speed demon Ayrton Senna and the tenacious Alain Prost. Many people had little prior knowledge of Formula One before the race was held here but it did not matter as you soon became familiar with the various car manufacturers and racing champions.

Adelaide continued to hold the Formula One Race until 1995. In 1996 the race moved location to a circuit in Albert Park Melbourne, following negotiations between the Head of the Formula One Constructors Association, Bernie Ecclestone and the Victorian government.

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Way back when, Wednesdays

We are not alone

In celebration of 40 years since it first release on 16 November 1977, plans are in motion to remaster the iconic science fiction adventure film Close Encounters of the Third Kind and re-screen it in cinemas. It used to take some months for a film released overseas to reach Australia. Only selected cinemas had the right to show certain films, so audiences flocked to the Hoyts Regent cinemas in the Adelaide Arcade.

On page 16 of the Leader Messenger dated 5 July 1978, Tea Tree Plaza advertised a promotion designed to tie in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. To generate interest in the film, Tree Plaza hosted a display about UFOs, which was put together by the Australian Flying Saucer Research Society, in conjunction with Hoyts cinemas. This promotion also featured a special event, which was a talk by a member of the Society, with the incentive of winning free passes to see Close Encounters.

Close encounters

At this time, people were receptive to new cinematic science fiction experiences. Steven Spielberg had terrified and thrilled audiences with Jaws in Australia in 1975. Star Wars had been monumental – it had set the bar for special effects and excitement, when it was released in Australia in October 1977. Everybody was waiting for the next blockbuster movie. Sessions of Close Encounters of the Third Kind on evenings and weekends would book out in advance.

If you don’t know the story, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is focuses on a group of people who experience some sort of paranormal activity associated with alien contact.

Two parallel stories are told. Strange phenomena and sightings of UFOs are happening around the world, which according to a scale devised by UFO researcher Dr. Josef Allen Hynek, is a close encounter of the first kind. A team of scientists and experts including French scientist Claude Lacombe and his American interpreter and cartographer David Laughlin, are investigating these related incidents. For example, military planes which disappeared in 1945 have suddenly reappeared in the desert but without their pilots.

In Muncie, Indiana, in the USA, Roy Neary (played by Richard Dreyfuss) refuses to accept conventional explanations for his encounter with an unidentified flying object. After this close encounter of the second kind, he becomes obsessed with pursuing the truth. Single mother Jillian Guiler (played by Melinda Dillon) and her young son Barry have similar experiences.

Integral to the film’s plot is a musical sequence of five tones enabling humans and aliens to communicate. In India witnesses report that UFOs make these distinctive sounds. Both Roy and Jillian have repeated visions of a mountain and the five musical notes run through their minds. When the scientists broadcast the musical notes into space they receive a response, a series of numbers repeated over and over. Cartographer Laughlin, interprets this data as geographical coordinates, for the Devils Tower near Moorcroft, Wyoming.

Defying a cover-up and military action by the American government, all of these characters follow the clues they have been given to reach a site where they will have a close encounter of the third kind: contact. The film was groundbreaking in its depiction of aliens as peaceful beings who wish to get to know humanity, rather than trying to take over the Earth or eat us. After their cinema experience, people could look up in the sky and think that perhaps we were not alone.

Alien

These were exciting times. Close Encounters of the Third Kind was a critical and financial success. It was nominated for several Academy Awards but the film only won one, for cinematography. It also won several other film industry awards. A disco adaption of the five note sequence charted as high as 13 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in March 1978.

John Williams would write many other beautiful, memorable film soundtracks and be arguably the best known composer of classical music in modern times. Steven Spielberg would direct a trove of acclaimed and popular films, and become the highest grossing director by worldwide box office ($9.246 billion) wikipedia.org. What would be the next science fiction/fantasy blockbuster? Superman released in 1978, which made a star of Christopher Reeves.

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Did you know….about Harry Potter

Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone_Book_CoverWell…who doesn’t know about Harry Potter, right?

Seriously though, did you know that Monday June 26th 2017 will mark the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone? That’s right, the series about the boy wizard is turning 20!

The book was author JK Rowling’s debut novel and was far from an overnight success. Indeed, Rowling began writing the novel in 1990 while riding on a train. According to an interview the author gave in 2009, the idea just hit her of a boy riding a train to wizard school. The death of her mother influenced much of the writing process.

The book was not well received by publishers and agents who felt that it was too long for a children’s book. That is, until Barry Cunningham of Bloomsbury recommended the publishers accept the book based on the recommendation of his eight-year-old daughter.

With seven books, eight films, a stage play and now a spin-off series of films, the rest, as they say, is history.

The library will be holding events from 10:00-1:00 this Saturday to celebrate the occasion so why not come along or maybe re-read the books, play or films.

BTW – Did you know that the books are actually set in the early-to-mid 1990s? You can work this out from information provided by Gryffindor ghost Nearly Headless Nick. In the Harry Potter and the Chamber of  Secrets, he celebrates his 500th ‘Death Day’ which occurred on October 31st, 1492, meaning that book takes place during 1992-1993!

Anstey’s Diary – Operation Echidnanaut – Entry VI

Pow, pow, pow! Take that!

Pow, pow, pow! Take that!

So…according to New Scientist it turns out ELVES is actually a reference to Emissions of Light and Very Low Frequency and not actual pointy-eared creatures…that’s a little disappointing…

Anyway, here we are, the final week before launch. I’ve spent more time in the simulator and even got the chance to get behind the stick of an F18 simulator at the end of last week which was great fun. I managed to shoot down eight enemy planes…unfortunately, landing is still a problem…

I also got to have a look at my launch vehicle!

Most of this week however has been spent in quarantine. Apparently astronauts can get sick in space as microgravity appears to weaken the immune system. Standard NASA practice is for Astronauts to undergo a physical exam 10 days before launch to make sure they’re not already infected and then go into quarantine about seven days before launch.

In the pilot seat...a little more exposed than I was expecting!

In the pilot seat…a little more exposed than I was expecting!

It’s very boring, but I have a good selection of books and some of my favourite movies to watch like 2001: A Space Odyssey, episodes of Star Trek and of course the full Star Wars saga! Lord Quokka suggested Alien but I’m not trusting him again after that Apollo 13 fiasco!

I have another medical check today and then a final pre-flight check right before launch.

It’s hard to believe that after all this time, all the planning and training we’re almost ready. I hope to see you all on Saturday for the launch. I’m really excited…and more than a little nervous…

Wish me luck!

Anstey’s Diary – Operation Echidnanaut – Entry V

What was Lord Quokka thinking, recommending a film like Apollo 13?

It was a horror story of everything that could go wrong in a space mission. Yes they got back safe and sound in the end, but oh my lord!

After watching that, I’m wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to go anymore. Fortunately, I have now seen the vehicle and it is a lot less…complicated…than an Apollo capsule.

No, I will be going up using a High Altitude Balloon. This will take me up to anywhere between 25 and 38 kilometres. To put that into perspective, the highest flying commercial aircraft don’t go higher than 15 kilometres, so bare minimum, I will be 10 000m above them, even the USAF’s High Altitude Reconnaissance Aircraft, the Lockheed U2 only flies up to 21 kilometres. In fact, most likely, the only people higher than me will be the three astronauts in the International Space Station.

Posing for the media with some of my friends…and a human…

Posing for the media with some of my friends…and a human…

At that height I will be operating in what is known as ‘Black Space’ and able to see the curvature of the earth and even Transient Luminous Events (AKA Ionospheric Lightning or Blue Jet Phenomena). I’ve even heard that there are ELVES up there!

I’ve also heard that a special song to commemorate my flight has been recorded! I stopped in at the studio after training yesterday to have a listen. It was pretty amazing, I especially liked the line “Greatest of Monotremes“! Take that Platypus…think you’re so great with your swimming and poison sting…

I also did a photo shoot for the press today. Apparently they needed a human as well, but I was able to invite some of my friends to participate. I think the results were pretty good!

Anstey’s Diary – Operation Echidnanaut – Entry IV

Hi everyone,

Exciting times, I got to try on my helmet for the first time today. Not sure about it

Trying on my helmet...it's a bit tight!

Trying on my helmet…it’s a bit tight!

though,there really isn’t any room for my snout.

I also had to start doing some High-G training. Apparently a “G” represents the normal force of gravity a body is subjected to here on earth. During space launches of flying jet fighters, the amount of “G-Force” the body is subjected to can cause something called G-Induced Loss of Consciousness or G-LoC. Obviously, losing consciousness is not something you want to do when at the controls of a spacecraft!

In order to train for this, one spends time in a something called a Centrifuge.These devices spin out around at high speeds in order to help you build up your tolerance for the G-Forces. Normally, they look something like this one here:

NASA Centrifuge

NASA Centrifuge

 

Now, that looked pretty scary, but I figured I could handle it, and the machine looked pretty sturdy and it was built by professionals with decades of experience.

 

Unfortunately this is what I was subjected to:

Get me out of here!!!

Get me out of here!!!

It was possibly one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life! All those extra termites were not a good idea! Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin or Andy Thomas were never suck in a bag and spun around over someone’s head!

I have decided to take my mind of the whole experience by watching that Tom Hank’s movie Lord Quokka suggested Apollo 13. Apparently it’s about one of the moon missions in the 1970s. I won’t be going that far, but I’m sure I will learn a thing or two from it.