All Time Great Australians
Australia Then and Now
An Australia Worth Cherishing and Australians Worth Remembering
In recent times the question has been put as to what makes an Australian great.
On SBS there has been stirred up controversy over the Australian flag. We have been reminded that the Southern Cross also appears on other flags of other nations that just happen to be situated in the southern hemisphere.
Does this make the Southern Cross less Australia? Should it be removed from the Australian flag? I say no.
I also don't see why other nations also taking to the Southern Cross should be a problem. It is ours but it is also theirs. We see it in our sky of a night and that is what is important.
Should we honor just anyone who happens to live in Australia?
Certainly the madman at the Martin Place, Sydney Lindt cafe in siege in 2014 should not be thus honored. Nor should the judges that let him loose on the public.
Should the crazy person who, in October 2015, gunned down a man exiting the police station at Parramatta be honored for such a horrid deed? I say no.
We do have actors we can honor. In 2008 Heath Ledger, an Australian actor, turned in a fantastic performance as the disturbed villain, The Joker, in The Dark Knight. This, of course, wasn't the first time an Australian actor made it big overseas.
Australia is a nation that only came under Federation in 1901 yet we've had quite an impact on the world both in the 20th and in our current 21st Century. Before federation, the highlights of the colonies that made up Australia were exploration, gold and outlaws.
After the Second World War there was a push to fill up Australia with people from overseas. The story given out by the powers that be was Populate or Perish.
Today we look at immigration and whether the old business of Populate or Perish is really true or whether it should be Continue to Populate AND Perish.
We are currently getting in a great flood of migrants. Whether or not many of them will make good Australians only time will tell.
DICK SMITH - Aviator and Millionaire
Richard Harold Smith, better known as Dick Smith was the founder of Dick Smith Electronics.It made him a millionaire. When he sold the business the name was kept and Dick Smith Electronics continues to do well.
In 1983 Dick Smith published a book, The Earth Beneath Me, in which he describes his solo flight around the world.
In 1999 Dick Smith founded Dick Smith Foods as a way of improving the lot of the food industry in Australia. He has only been semi-successful in this venture so far but I wish him all the luck in the world.
Though a millionaire and friendly with the bully boys who want to push for more immigration so that real estate prices will continue to rise, he has stated a number of cases against further immigration.
For one, it no longer takes a vast army to keep any country safe from invasion. The USA proved this with two A bombs at the end of the Second World War.
Secondly, to continue to build on land that should be used for growing food because of artificial population growth borders on the insane. To over use a river system such as the Murray Darling because of population growth we don't need to have is just plain crazy.
Dick Smith has talked about the elephant in the room when it comes to nations discussing population levels throughout the world and what to do about them.
The elephant he refers to that world leaders are afraid to talk about is population growth. The world needs to curb population growth and Dick Smith is brave enough to say so.
JOHN CURTIN would not allow Australia to be taken by the Japanese
John Curtin was in many ways the best Prime Minister Australia, so far, has had. He was thought highly of by American General Douglas MacArthur.
He was a thorn in British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's side. He was not the most colorful of men but, when the time came, he was willing to defend his country against, not only the obvious enemy, but also against allies asking too much of his countrymen.
Australia entered the Second World War in 1939 in support of the mother country, Britain against Germany. When Pearl habour was bombed in 1941 the Japanese entered the war on the side of the Germans. The Australian people, through Curtin, declared war on Japan.
When Australia appeared to be threatened by Japanese invasion, Curtin wanted to recall Australian troops from Africa. Winston Churchill was against this plan. It was risky. If the troop ships bringing these Australian soldiers home were sunk by enemy submarines it would be disastrous for the nation. On the other hand, the Japanese seemed dead set on invasion and had to be stopped. Going against Churchill's wishes, Curtin did recall the troops in Africa and they did manage to get home safely so that they could then tackle the Japanese.
Australians had been friendly toward Americans before the Second World War. Australians and Americans had fought alongside one another duiring the First World War. The events of the Second World War, however, cemented this friendship.
STEVE CARTER - A mighty force in Australian Horror
Steve Carter has been responsible for quite a bit of horror in Australia over the last thirty or so years.
By horror I mean horror stories and art. Also an award winning horror script he shares the credit with Antoinette Rydyr, his parter, in creating.
Some time ago he was one of the leading forces behind Phantastique, the first Australian comic magazine.
Steve gets a mention in my novel, Desk Job, as the creator of strange and unique monsters.
A couple of years ago, Steve and Antoinette's artwork has been on display at a gallery not far from Central Station, Sydney. It was a successful showing that went on for a week.
Today Steve lives in Victoria in a suburb close to Melbourne.
ANTOINETTE RYDYR - The Princess of Horror Art
Antoinette Rydyr is one of the best Australian artists around.
She has a very dark sense of humor as can be discovered in the reading of her solo comic book, Poor Bitch.
Nowadays she often works with Steve Carter under the two for one name of SCAR.
Her work has appeared for decades in comic book and comic strip form in the USA as well as Australia.
She gets a mention in my novel, Desk Job, for her outstanding work in seeing the monsters waiting to spring out in all of us.
Work by Antoinette was part of the art showing a few years ago at a locale not far from Central Station, Sydney.
Nowadays Antoinette lives with Steve in Victoria in a suburb not that far from Melbourne.
A World War One General who knew his Business
John Monash led Australian soldiers to victory in the First World War. Among other things, he showed the British how to lead men into battle.
He was a meticulous planner and being so meticulous he no doubt saved lives. He was also responsible for making ANZAC DAY a time of rememberance for fallen comrades. Born in Melbourne, Australia but with a German Jewish background, he was not always treated well by the press. He did, however, insist that his men got credit for their actions where credit was due.
Today there is a university in Victoria named after him.
A GREAT AUSTRALIAN ATHLETE
In the game of cricket, and especially The Ashes, Donald Bradman is a legend. Often referred to as 'The Don'. He led Austraia to a number of victories against the English.During the Great Depression his neve say die attitude on the cricket field gave others hope.
In the 1932-33 Ashes tour of Australia, the English devised controversial tactic known as Bodyline to specifically target Bradman. Bodyline was where the ball is pitched short so that it comes up to the batsman. When pitched fast it can cause injury top the batsman. This tactic still remains controversial.
Songs have been written about Bradman and his skill as a batsman.
HORROR PROMOTER - LEIGH BLACKMORE
Leigh Blackmore is a collector of macabre fiction as well as being an editor and writer in his own right. He has nurtured the writing of other Australians and at one time was a key member of the Gargoyle Club - an outfit for Australian horror writers.
He was one of the editors on Terror Australia - an Australian Horror magazine that ran for about five years. He was also responsible for the short story book, Terror Australis (1993) which had good stories as well as great art from the likes of Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr. Blackmore remains active in the area of Australian horror.
An Australian Fascinated by Egyptian Mythology
Don Boyd was an Australian writer who loved pulp fiction and dabbled in it as a writer, editor and publisher. He helped put together such magazines as Prohibited Matter and Masque Noir.
He had movie scripts and novels in the works when cancer took him.
Among those he helped get their writing careers up and running are Steve Carter (Australian), Barbara Custer (American) and yours truly (Australian).
He was a member for some years of the Gargoyle Club - an Australian outfit put together for Australian writers.
In his own writing, Don Boyd showed a fascination for Egypt and especially Egyptian mythology.
He loved the notion of sacred writing. He was chasing mummies across the hot sands of the two kingdoms in his own fiction long before I thought it might be a fun thing to do.
A SINISTER VILLAIN MUCH OF THE TIME
Frank Thring was a character actor who did well in both Australia and the USA. Before he got involved as a dastardly villain in the 1960s Australian television show Skippy, he was playing dastardly villainous roles in Hollywood. He also did well in Britain as a stage actor.
He appeared in significant roles in such films as Ben Hur (1959), El Cid (1961), King of Kings (1961), Mad Dog Morgan (1976), The Man from Hong Kong (1975) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985).
A Much Loved Australian Film and Television Legend
Sigrid Thornton is an actor who hasn't spent much of her time away from the camera. She made it as both a child actor and then as an adult actor.
In the 1970s Sigrid Thornton was in episodes of great Australian crime dramas such as Homicide and Division 4. She also had a minor roler in the Australian World War Two family drama, The Sullivans. In 1980 she appeared in Prisoner.
Her greatest television role so far was as a judge in the wonderful Australian seaside comedy Seachange which began its television run in the late 1990s.
The movies Sigrid Thornton has appeared in include: The FJ Holden (1977), Snapshot (1978), and The Man from Snowy River ( 1982).
AUSTRALIAN COMEDIAN AND ACTOR
Paul Hogan is best known in Australia for his controversial skits on the Paul Hogan Show. The show ran from 1973 to 1984. Everything was sent up from the pope, the sport, to anything that was happening in the world, but especially happening in Australia.
Al Grassby, Minister for Immigration in the Whitlam government, hated Paul Hogan for his send ups involving a mock Italian Australian magician known an Luigi the Unbelievable.
Paul Hogan disliked Al Grassby for not being able to take a joke. Hogan sent up all kinds of Australians so he felt that Italian Australians were also fair game because they, too, were Australian. Most Italian Australians I knew at the time were in agreement with this.
In the mid-1980s Mini-series ANZACS, Hogan played the fictional role of the gambling rogue of an Australian soldier, Pat Cleary.
Paul Hogan is best known in the USA for his performances as Crocodile Dundee in various movies.
Other movies starring Paul Hogan include: Almost an Angel (1990) and Strange Bedfellows (2004). In Strange bedfellows he play the role of a man trying to get out of a tax bind by pretending to be gay. The Americans liked the movie so much they made their own version of it.
FROM COMEDY TO DRAMA TO CARS EATING PARIS
John Meillon was a well known and respected Australian actor who got his start in Australian radio. In the early 1960s he had a lively career as an actor in England.
When he returned to Australia he was given a plumb role in the Australian television comedy My Name's McGooley, What's yours? (1966-1968). In the '60s he even managed an appearance in Skippy.
John Meillon's credits for significant appearances in movies is rather long. Here is a small sample of films he acted in: On the Beach (1959),The Sundowners (1960), The Long and the Short and the Tall (1961), The Longest Day (1962), Wake in Fright (1971), The Cars That Ate Paris (1974), The Fourth Wish (1976), Crocodile Dundee (1986).
Ronald McKie was a journalist who, in his career, worked on a number of newspapers in Sydney, Melborne and Sinapore.
Ronald McKie is best kown for his novel The Mango Tree (1974) which was set in a copuntry property in Queensland. It is about growing up in a small country town at a time when there were still swagmen about and children were expected to made their own fun. It was made into a movie in 1977.
Ronald McKie also wrote: The Crushing (1977) and Bitter Bread (1978).
Making Australians Feel like Australians
Arthur Davis, better known under his pen name of Steele Rudd, wrote at a time when Australia was going from being a collection of British colonies to a nation. He began his writing career in 1995 writing for The Bulletin.
The books he wrote that still strike a cord in Australians deal with his comedy duo of Dad and Dave.
His novels include: On Our Selection (1899), Our New Selection (1903), Dad in Politics (1908), From Selection to City (1909) and The Miserable Clerk (1917).
Numerous radio plays and movies have been made based on the writing of Steele Rudd.
The movies include: On Our Selection (1932), Dad and Dave Come to Town (1938) and On Our Selection (1995). The best of them and still a lot of fun is Dad and Dave Come to Town. The stinker is the 1995 version of On Our Selection.
A Great Australian Writer
Banjo Paterson had many trades. He was a journalist, a lawyer,a bush poet and a short story writer. He was a war correspondent during the Boer War.
During the First World War he was an ambulance driver.
In terms of poetry he got his big break writing for The Bulletin.
One of Banjo Paterson's most famous poems is Walzing Matilda which some overseas people still mistake for the national anthem because, in many parts of Australia, it is still more popular than Advance Australia Fair.
Other famous poems include The Man from Snowy River and Clancy of the Overflow.
Banjo Paterson wrote two novels: An Outback Marriage (1906) and The Shearer's Colt (1936).
Banjo Paterson delved into tongue-in-cheek science fiction with his short story The Cast-Iron Canvasser (1891). Here we have a mechanical salesman.
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