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River in Flood

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Last night Warragamba Dam, a long provider of most of Sydney’s domestic water, finally reached its capacity. This resulted in its flood gates opening and spilling the excess water. It is fourteen years since this last occurred. This excess water flows into a river which starts with the name Nepean and along the way becomes the Hawkesbury.

I went down this afternoon to the Nepean River to see some of the effects of this spill. The river was much wider than usual and moving along at a steady pace. As if reminding one of the cause of all this, the rain maintained a light drizzle while I was there. Although the water level had dropped a little during the day, sections of the river bank where I walked will most likely be well under water tomorrow.

As I watched from the river bank I was reminded of the first time I visited Warragamba Dam, exactly fifty years ago. During a school holiday in 1962, a friend and I caught an early train from Sydney to Penrith. From there we began walking to the newly built Warragamba Dam, a distance of some twenty kilometres. The largest concrete dam in Australia, it was officially opened in October 1960. Built at a narrow gorge on the Warragamba River, it took twelve years to construct.

A memorable part of my 1962 visit to the dam was walking across the narrow suspension bridge, high above the gorge. The dam’s enormity and significance were fully appreciated from that vantage point.

Jim Low

3 March 2012

A Vision Splendid

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Back in 2005 I purchased a CCTV System. It has successfully allowed me to continue reading, despite my now very limited vision. My failing eyesight is due to a degenerative condition known as Fuchs Dystrophy. Like most resources for a disability, the reading system did not come cheaply.

So when it began playing up last week, I became somewhat anxious for I use it every day. However, a telephone call to Vision Australia soon put me in touch with one of the few technicians in Australia specialising in the repair of low vision equipment. His workshop, would you believe, was located in a neighbouring suburb. He checked my system over and I had it back the next day. Touch wood, it’s going great guns!

The workshop where my machine was sorted out reminded me of my father’s little office /workshop which he had for his specialist, mechanical engineering business. His workshop was situated right in the heart of Sydney and ceased operating around 1970.

The result of all this is a very satisfied customer . . . prompt, friendly (not forgetting convenient) service and the revival of some fond memories.

1 December 2011

CCTV magnifier

The Recycled Bird Bath

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

There is a healthy tradition of improvisation in Australia. Have a dig around an old farm house or barn. The unique objects you are bound to discover bear testament to the ingenuity of this practice born of necessity. Improvisation depends heavily on the imagination to see the possibility of recycling materials to meet other needs. It also requires the ability to accomplish the transformation.

My father was an inventor and whenever it was possible, he resourcefully recycled materials. A lot of the wood he used for his projects came from timber packing cases put out for the garbage collection in the narrow laneway called De Mestre Place. This laneway was opposite Wynyard in Sydney. It was there in Hardy’s Chambers that my father had his office and workrooms.

In the school holidays my brother and I used to love going into town and visiting him. His workplace was like a bowerbird’s nest, crammed with all sorts of interesting bits and pieces. My father did not like throwing things away. He seemed to hold secretly to the belief that he was bound sooner or later to find a use for these odds and ends. Thus, toothpaste lids were transformed into excellent draw handles with the turn of a screw. His workbench  stool was an upended Oldsmobile axle, to which he had attached a foam rubber seat.

I kept this axle, continuing its use as a stool until it became too uncomfortable. But I could not throw it away. And thankfully I didn’t for it has recently been given a new lease of life in my garden. Standing erect on a cement paver, while balancing a pot base, it serves as a purposeful bird bath. I reckon my Dad would be very pleased with this outcome too.