About  justice

by mauricefurlan@gmail.com


Thinking back I am reminded  of growing up in a happy home in Collingwood with my younger sister VICKI and our older brother GEORGE. Our home had many visitors and good times while my father was alive. He passed away when I was nine and our home became quiet. Mum was a devout catholic and she spent years in grief and mourning for our father. George was our half brother and thirteen years older than me. He had the good fortune of my father's guidance during his formative years whereas Vicki and I missed out in some ways. Our street housed many young migrant families from post war Europe. We had Italian heritage on both our father and mother's sides. Dad came to Australia in 1927 and my mother arrived in 1953 with her son. Our street was full of children my own age and we seemed to be forever playing. Over the long summer days we would play until the sun went down. I did well in my early years of school at St Thomas' Christian Brothers College in Clifton hill. I received a scholarship to attend St Kevin's College in Toorak in my final years of secondary school. It was not a good move for me. For the first time in my life I witnessed Australia's class prejudice and entrenched racism. I saw no sign of it where I lived but in Toorak it stood out like dog's balls. It has troubled me all my life and it sickens me whenever I see it. It may have been hormonal or adolescence but I failed to Matriculate. During this time NANCY was my first childhood sweetheart. I was besotted by her. She lived in Clifton hill which was about a 30 minute walk from my house. I did not repeat my final year but instead began working with George in his plumbing business. He was newly married to Bernadette and they lived up the street. His first priority was to build a large garage at his house. Bernadette would back me up in saying that I spent more time in there than George did. He would often complain that he could never find his tools after I had been there. 

I was replacing the front window of Nancy's parents' house. She was not there. I heard a loud scream from her mother MARIA. She was trying to drag her husband out from where he had collapsed in between a large couch and lounge chair. His head was in awkward position and he was making terrible noises. I asked Maria to ring for an ambulance while I stayed with her husband. The nearest phone box was located around the corner of the next street. We were both in shock. I drove a ute at that time. Together we managed to drag him into my car and we drove madly to St Vincent's hospital. We did not realize that he had swallowed his tongue. On our arrival he was pronounced dead and still to this day I blame myself.

I was one of eight trainees when I took on a three year High Voltage Electrical Operator Traineeship with the State Electricity Commission of Victoria in 1973. I was nineteen. Our first year was spent in full time study at the commission's dedicated school in Richmond. The second year entailed on the job experience and some night classes at Collingwood Technical College. Third year was much the same. Nancy and I married in the second year of my training. I recorded the date 6 April 1974. Our starting wage was $34 per week which then jumped substantially when we qualified. Penalty rates added even more to my salary. Nancy and I rented a flat for two years then purchased our home in Clifton Hill in 1976. The SEC work was hazardous and it involved working with high voltages. I started training in the Transmission section in a number of control rooms in Melbourne and regional Victoria. We worked a rotating three shift basis. I was also renovating our home near the Merry Creek at the end of Roseneath Street Clifton Hill. We invested in two other properties in Nth Melbourne on vendor terms with my brother and sister. One was in Melrose Street and the other Lothian Street. What would they be worth today?

During this time I considered one of the trainees named TERRY to be my closest friend.  We were allocated to Newport Power Station in our final year. Newport 'A' was antiquated and generated power at 1.1KV 25 Hz for Melbourne's early tram system. It felt like being inside a Frankenstein movie set with all the old switchgear.  Newport "B" and "C" were only slightly newer and they were fired using briquettes which were railed in from Yallourn Briquette Works in the Latrobe Valley. There was no escaping asbestos. It was used throughout the entire plant. There was a period when Melbourne outgrew its power generation capabilities. The State's coal fired plants were aging along with their work force. The Operators In Charge (OIC'S) often came up through the ranks of the Navy and Shipping Companies because they ran boilers and generators. Our group of eight High Voltage Electrical Operators were the first young trainees in many years. Our attitude to life in the 1970's differed greatly from our aging peers. 

I admired Terry greatly. He and his brother MARK were very talented water-skiers. Terry was also an accomplished snow skier and we sometimes headed of on short ski trips after our night shifts ended. Our rosters gave us four and a half days off before we needed to return on afternoon shifts. Terry and his brother had another passion which was hang gliding. It was a new sport and in its early days there were many accidents and fatalities. Terry invited me along with him on one gliding trip to Phillip Island. We set up the kite on a long but gentle slope. There was no wind and all we could do was run and jump occasionally to get airborne. We decided we would take the kite along with us on a ski trip to Mt Buller. On our arrival we were met by security at the top car park. They wouldn't allow us onto the slopes with the kite. Terry was most annoyed and so we left the mountain and headed for a popular hang gliding site known as "The Paps" which is in the vicinity of Boonie Doone on Lake Eildon. There I was to do the most stupid thing that I have ever done. As I recall it the launch site was 800 feet. You step off the sheer cliff face over the top of fully grown gum tree. There were three other kites preparing to jump. A conversation started between us and the other parties who were from Geelong Grammar. They were arguing with Terry and I that hang gliders needed to be trained and licensed. Well that was like showing a red rag to a bull. Terry asked me if I wanted to have a go at the jump. I accepted the challenge without a second thought. In my defense I will say that once again there was no wind. Since it was my first proper jump Terry explained that if I heard the breeze whistle through the kite support wires I was falling too fast and I should push the kite frame away from me. If I then felt my guts drop like in an elevator then I should pull the frame towards me. Pushing the frame to the left or right would direct my glide. The first step was a doozie. I kept saying DON'T PANIC! over and over. Terry later explained that I was flying up and down like a roller coaster. I flew along a valley away from the cliff and after a while I began to relax and breathe again. I looked down and realized that there were sheep below me. They looked like ants. As I reached the end of the slope below I turned to the left and aimed for a roadway in the distance. My landing was not at all pretty but more importantly I had not damaged the kite. I unbuckled myself I turned around to see where I had flown from. I cannot explain the feeling of elation I felt having survived. The other kites had taken off after me and the first one was performing a 360 degree maneuver intending to land near me. He only made 300 degrees and flew directly into a very large and dead gum tree hitting it mid way to the top. This occurred right in front of me no more than fifty meters away. I am one hundred per cent certain that my recollection are correct except for one detail. The injured flyer had collapsed all the branches below him on his fall and his kite was completely destroyed. He was badly hurt and in lots of pain but we managed to load him into my ute which had a mattress and bedding in the back. However if that is correct I can't explain how Terry and I managed to transport the very large tube shape of the glider as I didn't have a rear carry bar installed on my ute. It is possible that we travelled up in both our cars. After the accident it took us a few hours to get the injured pilot to the hospital in Eildon. I often think back on that event and wonder why I with no experience made it down safely while the other experienced glider did not.

When Nancy and I bought our family home in Clifton Hill its location seemed idyllic. It was close to the city, amidst open spaces and we only had one neighbor. It was almost too good to believe. We did not do our homework and we only had ourselves to blame. It soon it became apparent that we'd bought in a very noisy location. It was difficult to sleep during the day and at weekends. Large trucks delivered earth fill endlessly to the nearby reclaimed tip site east of Field Street in between Roseneath and Ramsden Streets. Numerous trucks entered the sites along the pot holed Field Street on our east boundary throughout the week and gangs of mini bikes used the area on weekends. We were situated on the border of the Yarra Bend Park and it was too vast for the police to control the riders. We lived at 195 Roseneath St. There was a paddock over the road to our south where the council kept their working Clydesdale horses. The horses were a bonus attraction that led to our purchasing our home in that location. The Merry creek footbridge lay close by and it led to the picturesque Dights Falls on the Yarra river. However, Council developed the horse paddock into the Yarra Recycling Centre soon after we arrived. Work also commenced on the original Eastern freeway located a little further south but within view and hearing shot of our home. To our west there were only two neighbors and to the east a vacant block of land and then the Yarra Bend Park. To our north lay an entire city block of vacant land which was previously an Electrical Substation. Beyond that land there was a reclaimed tip site being prepared as sports ovals. Within the substation area there were numerous concrete pads and footings for transformers, pylons and various structures associated with power distribution. The SEC sent in the demolition equipment and removed the obstructions over some months.  The massive rockbreakers were particularly deafening. SGB Scaffolding then leased the entire area and even more trucks started entered the yard to load up scaffolding pipes. The noise was relentless. 

By February 1978 it became necessary for me to move from Transmission Department to Metropolitan Electricity Supply Region in an effort to improve my sleep patterns and reduce the regular night work. This involved routine daily work and hour emergency work. I was able to complete the renovations on both our family home and the Melrose Street house during this time. In hindsight I can see that our married life would have been adversely affected by the situation we were living in and the amount of my work.

Before we married Nancy was employed by the Commonwealth and she worked in the city at the building known as the Green Latrine. Our daughter Leah Ebony was born in May 1978. After her birth Nancy did not return to her Government job but instead changed jobs and worked for Ron Barassi in his furniture store in Melbounre city. We furnished much of our home with his items. One day I returned home unexpectedly and found Nancy had been unfaithful with her previous boss. Lea was 6 months old. Our second daughter Sarah Mary was born in July 1979. It took some time to establish that both my children were illegitimate. It came as a major shock to me and it has affected my life ever since. I have not recovered. One day not long after the event and while at work, I found myself in the wrong substation and about to earth a live cable. A mistake like that could have cost my life or that of someone else. 

I re-evaluated my life and left my career with the SEC in September 1979. In my letter of resignation I blamed my work mates for my leaving. I was trained to consider safe work practices as having the highest priority at all times. In reality there were some contradicting practices not least Sunday Choir practice.  That entailed sending a radio call to meet at a particular substation to partake in a few ales. I took part in it but felt most uneasy as I was not a drinker. That reason was only partly true and perhaps it was my embarrassment about admitting to Nancy's affair that prevented me from dealing with work in another way. In any event my letter would come back to bite me years later during my second marriage.

I moved to Anglesea and joined my friend DAVID in converting his Bedford bus into a mobile home. We both started our traineeships together however he had left before me. I returned to Clifton Hill regularly in an effort to resolve my relationship with Nancy. Eventually I gave up because a reason for her actions was never forthcoming. I also recall that one day a local real-estate agent arrived at our home. He told us that the SEC wanted to compulsorily acquired our home. According to him the SEC wanted to re-establish their neighboring land as a sub-station. A 66KV underground cable would run from Brunswick Terminal Station to Richmond Terminal Station through Yarra Bend Park. The station was never built and the area was developed into a major unit development some years later. I was suffering a great deal at the time and so I left matters up to Nancy with the understanding that we split the sale price equally and she would keep everything else. I was hoping she would move in with the childrens' father ANDREW. He was married with children of his own. Later on I heard that their relationship had not worked out. 

My time travelling with David was short-lived and I headed off to Europe in February 1979 with my mother and sister. It was at this time that I received the blood test results for Nancy's first born. Mum stayed with her family in northern Italy while Vicki and I travelled around Europe on a Europe-rail pass. It was the done thing in those days. While in Europe I also explored the possibility of purchasing a brand new bus chassis on which to build a mobile home in Europe. That idea turned out to be fraught with danger and I did not proceed. 

Exactly one year later I headed of to the ski areas of the USA with Terry. We covered most areas in California Colorado and Utah over two months. Needless to say that we had a great time. Their mountains are generally higher than our ones and this causes the snow to be much better in quality. Added to that was the larger scale of the resorts which made for an all round better experience. The Americans we met made us feel most welcome. Terry and I remained friends until the 1990's when I moved to away to Rye and we lost contact. I will elaborate on my relationship with Terry and his written account about me later in my story. MODEM here 

On my return from America I worked for my brother. He had a large plumbing contract for the Yallourn TAFE. After that I bought my own bus at Moe and converted it into a mobile home. I was living at my mother's home at that time and in a relationship with ANNIE. I recall that it took 6 months to complete the conversion at my brother's house. Annie and I headed off to work our way around Australia but she returned home shortly after broken hearted. I feel she persevered with my dream hoping that it would be short lived and then we would settle down. 

Having made a promise to myself that I would not stop anywhere for more than a year on my travels I spent my first year in the Echuca Caravan Park. It bordered the Murray river. There I met some great people while working on the brand new paddleboat PS Emmylou. I lived next door to the future Captain of the Emmylou. His name was ALAN and he had moved from South Australia to take up his captaincy. He parked his caravan opposite my bus. For the first six months we were both occupied with Emmylou's final construction and commissioning. She was designed with a sleek hull and steam driven. Emmylou was built downstream at BARHAM in HUME COLVILLE'S engineering works. She had only recently arrived from there missing her paddle wheels and coach house. I stayed on as decky and all round helper to see how the business performed. The Murray and Riverboats got into my blood. At one stage Alan and I talked about buying the old car ferry which was becoming a problem for the Echuca Wharf. We considered using it to de-snag parts of the river or converting it to a large houseboat.  It was planked construction over steel ribs and it was poorly caulked. It needed constant attention to stop it sinking. The powers that be at the Echuca Port Authority would not part with it. They believed it would be vital for the imminent upgrade of the rail bridge between the interstate bridge Echuca and Moama. Alan and I must have been serious about these ideas because we drove to Morgan and convinced the South Australian Authorities to put one of their disused steel ferries out to tender. I was truly heartbroken when another party outbid us. Alan and I teamed up with two local girls Michelle and Annette. Alan and Michelle married while ANNETTE and I set off in the Bus only to go our separate ways from the next river town, Barham. We have recently re-connected again via Facebook. We have recalled our time together fondly. She reminded me that we were together longer than I had thought and she was correct because we had spent some time in the snow areas of Victoria and also time out bush in the Koondrook State Forrest. I had forgotten that Nancy had also previously visited me in Echuca. Annette remembered the occasion. Nancy brought the children with her and wanted me to take her back. At that time however I was living with Annette. My family were also visiting at that time and they were most upset. After all, they had also lost two family members. It was awkward. 

I met Nancy one more time when Leah and Sarah became teenagers. I received a letter from their mother's solicitors. Nancy wanted to take them oversees and they needed passports. It seems I was named as their father on both their birth certificates. Knowing that I wasn't their father I could not sign their permission to leave the country. I was summoned to the Family Court of Australia and I explained the situation. To my knowledge Andrew did not appear and the judge was left to sort out the matter. Strangely enough I also appeared that day in the same court on another matter related to my second marriage which I have not mentioned at this stage of writing. I don't think I dreamt it but I remember the court counter staff having a bit of a chuckle about my attending to matters relating to two ex-wives a decade apart on the same day in their court. I never saw Nancy or the children again and I had moved on bearing no animosity. 

It was in the early 1990's that I was back living at mum's home. My second marriage had failed and I was wanting to understand the reason. I did a lot of soul searching. I visited Frankie and Nick who were friends of Nancy and I. They are pictured here in a photo taken by myself. After I left Nancy they would have supported her during Sarah's birth and perhaps later on as well. They told me that Nancy had told them that our marriage had failed because "I was too Italian". Go figure. I wish Nancy had have said it to me years before.

Moving back in time now and I found myself living alone in the Barham Caravan Park working locally behind the bar at Barham Golf club. I was having a great time. There I met Karen. It was not long before we married at Murrabit. She was 10 years younger than me and fresh out of Girton College a girls boarding school in Bendigo. She was gorgeous and strong-willed having survived a major cancer at age fifteen. The cancer had left her with massive scars to her leg. It did not slow her down at all. She was the older sister followed by Lisa and then Donna. All three sisters boarded at Girton away from their family farm at Murrabit. TEN years had passed since my previous disastrous marriage. Perhaps I was affected by Nancy more than I realized. Karen and I married in February 1984. 

We then moved the bus to Nth Melbourne so that I could renovate my sisters home in Nth Melbourne. We rented a vacant block of land beside the house parked our bus there. Karen had her heart set on being a fashion model. She worked for BRIAN who was my sister's husband. He owned a photographic studio in Collingwood.  My sister had recently married him and bought the dilapidated house. We had long delays in obtaining a building permit and so I concentrated on renovating our Lothian Street house which I jointly owned with my siblings. Living in the bus in inner Melbourne was not a happy time for Karen and she sometimes escaped back to the farm. With little choice I persevered and completed the renovations. Karen fell pregnant during our time in Melbourne. I was distracted from house renovations for a time. Terry had returned from USA and he approached me with a plan to design and build a snow making fan machine which operated by using liquid nitrogen to form ice nucleates. It was an interesting project and it actually worked but it led nowhere. Finally, we sold our investment properties and cut our financial ties with my siblings. Flush with money and with a newborn on the way, we considered buying a lovely house on the riverbank at Deniliquin. We were parked in the bus at her parents farm at Murrabit when Ben was born in July 1985. I had casual work at the poker machine club in Barham. Karen's' mother VALERIE was a charge nurse at the hospital in Kerang. She was also a Uniting Church elder. I altered the bus to accommodate our newborn. Karen had a difficult birth. One day she and her mum had words over raising Ben in the bus. We left the farm abruptly and moved the bus back to Koondrook. There we camped behind my good friend MICHAEL'S property. We had earlier worked together on the Emmylou and he had moved his family back to Koondrook and started making Baltic pine and redgum furniture.  We were parked adjacent the river at the rear of his property in Tower Street. Ever since leaving the Emmylou I had dreamt of building a boat of some kind. I thought the Emmylou was a the most beautiful paddle steamer on the river however she needed too many payed staff to serve to few paying passengers. I gave a lot of thought towards a barge type vessel, long and narrow. I made numerous sketches and they culminated in something smaller but similar to the river cruisers which today ply the waterways of Europe.

Barham was the birthplace of the Emmylou. She drew a great deal of interest during her construction at HUME Coleville's Engineering. Emmy was a brand new side wheeler and driven by steam. She was designed with a modern sleek steel hull but with the appearance of being an original paddle steamer. She was 100 feet long and weighed 100 tons. Emmylou provided a great deal of employment to the locals. Many would say that Hume was quite eccentric. I think that if it were not for his nature the Emmylou may never have been built. I would have loved to see her construction from the very beginning. There came a time when she was nearing completion apart from her paddlewheels and coach house. Anthony and the team launched her with just enough time to make it under the lift span of the bridge. The river was on the rise. They bolted a large outboard motor onto the rudder and sailed her up river, through Torrumbarry lock and tied up at the Moama Caravan Park. Some time later she was taken a short distance away to her landing jetty situated behind Anthony's block of land. 

There were a only a few houseboats in Barham. A new one was being built by another good friend of mine named JOHN in Hume's yard. This one was a stern wheeler and it had many innovations. John was a very clever and practical bloke. He was a timber cutter from Mildura. Not long after Karen and I arrived in Barham John launched his houseboat. We travelled downstream with him and delivered the boat from Barham to Mildura. It was a most memorable journey with Marty, his wife and Ben our newborn. I recall it took us eight days of daylight travel and used a total of 22 gallons of diesel. Amazing. Right along the river there were many more boats. 

We assumed these boats had moorings but in actual fact there is/was no standardized rules which govern these vessels. It seems obvious that moorings work on the principle of who you know or lay low, don't ask and don't upset anyone. Karen and I learned were yet to learn that lesson the hard way.

There were two houseboats visible upstream from the river bridge between BARHAM and KOONDROOK and another one downstream. The first upstream houseboat belonged to MERVIN. He was the Police Sergeant who had recently retired from the Koondrook station. He moored his boat on the Victorian riverbank close to the bridge. He could easily walk across and buy his food necessities. The area had a gentle slope down to the river. It was handy for Merv but it had the disadvantage of turning to mud whenever the river level dropped. Swinglers pub was located on the first street corner over the bridge and it was very handy for him. The other upstream houseboat was named SHADY LADY. She was a hire houseboat. I learned much later that the MSB were meant to encourage these money making ventures according to its charter. Most times Shady tied up to a strongly built timber structure which supported a large diameter cast iron pipe which dipped into the river. It was located just upstream of the bridge on the NSW side of the river. That was the town water intake and it served the needs of the residents of BARHAM. Patrons of the Shady lady parked their cars close by on the large grassed area that lay between the river and the town's School of Arts hall. There were no objections to the practice from the locals. Perhaps this was because the owners were prominent members of the community. KECK later became President of the Barham Progress Association. Shady's owners KECK and MEMBREY had high hopes for her however she was not profitable. They sold the boat and it left the area in mid 1988 destined for Lake Eildon where she was built. This photo from that time shows Shady resting up on the riverbank. Vessels often passed through BARHAM along the river. When the river was high they required the center span of bridge to be lifted. Those vessels usually tied up on the NSW riverbank near Shady. From there it was a short stroll to the shops, pub and poker machine club. 


This next part of my story takes place between 1986 and 1990. It relates to my role as proprietor of WATERHOUSE ENTERPRISES. The venture ended disastrously and left my family broken and destitute. In order to describe the events which occurred chronologically it is necessary to occasionally jump forward in time to reveal what I has taken place since 2012.  That is the time I discovered the existence of  a secret government conspiracy to defraud us all those years ago. Those revelations will be written in red text. 

When I left the Emmylou three years earlier (1981) the owners Anthony and Tuesday gave me a parting gift which I have kept to this very day. It was to change my life as well as Karen's. The book by Mark Gabor was titled HOUSEBOATS - Living on the water around the world featuring floating palaces to humble dwellings - A glowing tribute to a growing life style. I had not forgotten the images of floating houses. Karen and I determined to try a novel business on the Murray River. We would keep the bus and build a very large towable houseboat on a commercial basis. There was nothing new about that. The year was 1986. We registered WATERHOUSE ENTERPRISES.  We wanted to use a power boat to move it along the river. The houseboat's waste would be held in a tank carried by the powerboat. From there it could be delivered to a waste station. Karen and I could see no legitimate reason why we could not not build our boat. Nevertheless we approached local government on both sides of the river for their attitude towards houseboats and pump outs. 

Karen wrote to the Kerang Shire to obtain a mooring

31 May 1986

"Dear Sir, I wish to apply to the Maritime Services Board of N.S.W. for a registered mooring site on the Murray River at the location indicated on the accompanying river chart. I have approached the officers of the M.S.B. at Echuca and he has advised me that I am first required to have your approval before they will grant such a mooring. I have spoken to Mr. J. Whelan Councilor for Koondrook and from his point of view he sees no objection. He advised me to write to you regarding this matter.
Please note that the proposed site is downstream from what I believe to be the inlet for the water supply pumps at Koondrook. 
Furthermore there are two other mooring sites, one for commercial purposes and one for or private houseboat, registered in the vicinity upstream from the Barham Bridge. Yours faithfully.

The Maritime Services Board had control of boating on the Murray river. I wrote to them asking for guidelines for building houseboats and having them surveyed. I wrote to them 

19 June 1986

"Would you please forward me a set of guidelines and/or specifications for the construction of houseboats as I wish to construct a vessel which would meet your departments survey standards. I have approached the Shires of Kerang and Wakool who I am led to believe must consider mooring sites prior to your department issuing licenses.
Furthermore I have approached Mr. Hume Colville of Colville Engineering in Barham. You would be aware of his involvement in the construction of P.S. Emmylou. The vessel I am planning would be constructed at his yard. I am pursuing this matter in the hope of building a number of these vessels and offering them for sale. I wish to do this in the Barham area. I believe the matter of a pump out station is currently being addressed by the relevant council."
Wakool Shire also refused us because there were no sewerage facilities. They wrote as follows,

31 July 1986

Your enquiry regarding a mooring site on the Murray River, in the vicinity of Barham New South Wales, was dealt with at Councils meeting on the 16 June 1986. Council has decided that it will not be recommending approval for mooring licenses on water-ways within the Shire, until such time as suitable effluent disposal facilities such as pump-out station are provided.
Council funds have not been allocated in the 1986 estimates to cover this expense. A letter has been forwarded to the Maritime Services Board informing them of Councils decision."

Three months after I had written to Maritime, they wrote back to us refusing our requestsWe believed the refusals were not warranted !

19 September 1986

"I refer to your letter of the 20th June 1986 to Mr. Hugh Cooke and advise that the matters you have raised relating to type approval for your proposed vessels are still being considered by the Manager, Commercial Vessels Branch and his staff.

Quite apart from matters of survey, I consider prudent to inform you at this stage of the proposal, that the Board would not, in all likelihood, approve the issue of Occupation Licenses for vessels of this type in the Murray River. Although, in the case of Occupation Licenses for conventional vessels moored in the navigable waters of the Murray River, the views of the relevant Council in respect of the application are given proper regard, the Board reserves the right to determine whether the License will be granted. One of the mandatory conditions governing an Occupation License for a Houseboat is that the Council whose boundary is nearest to the locality of the site in question must indicate in writing its approval of the application before the Board will proceed to issue the appropriate license. So far as I am aware no N. S.W. Council bordering the Murray River would agree to sanction an application for a vessel of the type which you intend to construct.

I am enclosing a pamphlet titled "Regulations for living on Vessels."  I suggest that you note the additional conditions which apply to moored houseboats and am confident that you will then appreciate that even in the event that Occupation Licenses were to be approved for the vessels which you are considering, habitation on a permanent basis is most unlikely to be approved."

Both Karen and I believed that the information contained within both the letter and the pamphlet did not warrant their refusal as there were numerous houseboats on the entire river. I had already given a great deal of effort and submitted detailed plans for our houseboat to Maritime which they had not yet appraised having had three months to do so. Meanwhile I happened to ring Maritime as described in the following letter to Maritime. We suspected both Council and Maritime were not be open and honest with us.

29 September 1986.
To Recreational Boating DIVISION Maritime Services Board N.S.W.

"In reply to your letter 19/9/86 (86/18973) which I received 29/9/86. I must express my disappointment in regard to the time taken to receive your reply to my original correspondence of 19/6/86 and I hope that future communication will be more frequent. I, will also mention that in my letter 19/6/86 I requested your Board's Guidelines and/or Specifications for the construction of Houseboats. As these were not included in your correspondence I shall again request these together with a copy of "THE MANAGEMENT OF WATERS AND WATERSIDE LAND REGULATIONS N.S.W. I shall forward a cheque for any costs thereof.

I wish also to inform that I telephoned the Board 26/9/86 and was informed that Approval 6106 has been granted in regard to the proposed vessel. I am awaiting such advise in writing.

I have considered your letter and attached pamphlet and conclude that despite the prudent advise the Board is not in fact prohibiting construction of such vessels but rather restricting the use of these vessels in terms of habitation. Hence I wish to ask the following: -

1. For what purposes are Occupational Licenses issued.
2. Are such Licenses renewable annually.
3. Can such Licenses be transferred.
4. Is Barham N.S.W. a major seaport of the State.
5. Which are considered major seaports in the State.
6. What are the special regulations applying to vessels moored at locations other than major seaports.
7. What constitutes a commercial marina and would my proposal sent to the Board 22/9/86 be considered as a marina."

Needless to say our letter did not receive a response and their communications ceased for some time. Back then as today there were many houseboats of all types right along the Murray river. These days we have the worldwide web and social media. This Facebook Group is representative of the situation. They have hundreds of members and post daily. Some boats have moorings. Others don't. Many are in marinas. This is what Karen and I wanted all those years ago. We discovered that there was some confusion as to who controlled the riverbanks. Most of the Murray's riverbanks are Crown Land. Conservation Forrest and Land since renamed Parks Victoria controlled the Victorian side and Councils controlled NSW reserves. 

When we approached Kerang Shire in Victoria they advised that they required a Planning Permit however Maritime eventually issued us with private mooring  WS012 in April 1987 without the planning permit from Kerang Shire.  We also sought written permission from Wakool Shire in NSW. 

I mentioned earlier that I would depart from the chronological order of my story. In 2012, for reasons I will reveal later, I attended the Kerang Library and looked through the Newspaper Archives. There I found dozens of articles relating to our houseboat venture. They brought back all the heartache from years earlier. One BARHAM BRIDGE article was particularly revealing. It turns out that in the year prior to Karen and I returning to Barham from Melbourne WAKOOL COUNCIL AND PUBLIC WORKS had an agreement regarding "Houseboat Sewerage".  The article reported that the shire had an arrangement to provide the sewerage pumpout stations stations.  

August 9, 1985.

"Council has agreed with amendments to the regulations controlling the disposal of wastes from houseboats on the Murray River. The amendments broaden the regulations to more adequately police houseboat wastes. The Public works Department will build sewerage pumpout stations at their expense and the local council has to pay for the running of the station. Council said there was an increasing need for a pumpout station as there are already four houseboats on the river at Barham and councilors said more will come."

Council did not tell us that Public Works were to build a pump-out at Barham.  Innocently, I arranged for local support by way of this petition to council. There were eight interested people. They added their signatures calling for the pumpout station to be provided by council on July 12, 1986. With hindsight I believe that some of those who signed my petition would have known about the proposed pump-out.  My petition read as follows,

"We the undersigned have an interest in common; this being vessels on the Murray river in the vicinity of Barham. Each of these vessels whether existing or proposed, require an effluent pump out station for their operation. Hence we petition your council to realize that there is such a need, an urge you to approach the Department of Public Works on our behalf to gain funding for such an installation."

The signatures of  KECK and EAGLE on my petition are of particular interest. Keck owned Shady Lady and Eagle has land cutting which connects the Barham Sewerage Plant back to the Murray River. A close relation to Eagle happened to lead the local citizens group whose postal address was BOX 1 Barham. More to follow.

Back then there were only two places on the NSW controlled river where houseboats could pump out their sewerage holding tanks.  WENTWORTH was one place and ECHUCA the other. The Echuca pump out only came into service when I worked on the Emmylou. The stations were approximately 400 kilometers apart by road and more likely 1500 Kilometers by river. They were very expensive to build and run. A local plumber from Barham supposedly serviced the local houseboats by taking their waste to the sewerage treatment plant located on the East Barham Road. 

With each knockback Karen and I were forced to consider other options. We discovered that thirteen towns along the river were serviced only by septic tanks. Barham was one of the few that had a sewerage plant. Because of its location alongside the river it required pumping its waste uphill away from the river which was obviously the lowest level. At the plant the waste was spread over paddocks and the excess flowed back into the river via the Eagle Creek cutting. The cutting is upstream of both the towns and upstream of their water intakes. We understood that in South Australia there were two dozen plants along their section of the river. Some were in private marinas and others were public. 

The BARHAM AND DISTRICT EX SERVICEMANS CLUB (BDSMC) is located at the heart of the township. The council caravan park is located adjacent to the club on a large riverbend. The club was by far the areas major tourist attraction. It had poker machines. Back in the 1980's large numbers of patrons would travel up to six NSW clubs located along the Murray. One could travel on a pokie bus tour from Melbourne leaving early morning, play pokies all day, lunch and arrive back home in the evening all for $10. Everyone profited. The BDSMC club was so profitable that in order to reduce its tax bill, it bought a farm east of the town and dug out a huge man made lake so the locals could swim there. There were few shallow banks in the town where one could enter the river to swim. The club's rear carpark is located in Noorong Street and it runs down to the river. There was a rough boat ramp located there and a small area of sand/mud overgrown with willow trees. It was hardly used by the towns folk for swimming. A levy bank lay between that area and the town. 

Barham had three motels in 1987. One was located opposite the club and another lay at the bridge crossing. These were modern whereas the third motel was older and it was located along the main traffic route through town. Our research showed there was an enormous demand for more tourist accommodation. 

Given all the excuses put forward by government agencies about the rules for living aboard our planned houseboat and the sewerage situation on the river and the demand for beds we saw an even greater opportunity to use our capital. Hence was born the concept of BOTEL. It was a plan for a chain of modular floating motel/boats connected to our original floating house/service/shop. We could provide six pumpout stations along the river. We realized that the three motel owners would object to our not being ratable and so we offered to fund and operate the local pumpout station in lieu of rates. 

Attitudes soon changed when the agencies saw the potential of the project. We went public with the idea and the local Barham Bridge newspaper published  an article on their front page on 22 August 1986 headed PROPOSED "BOTEL". We approached the local Progress Association and they wrote to us supporting our idea. They wrote

23 September 1986 see Morrisson

8 October, 1986

"The above Association thanks you for your attendance at our meeting to explain & answer questions re the Proposed Botel Complex on the Murray River at Barham. We wish to confirm in writing, that the Association supports the concept of a Botel at Barham BUT that it be resited in an alternative position to the one proposed to the rear of the School of Arts Hall. The Association wishes you well with your project. "

We were most obliging in moving our project away from the rear of the hall as asked of us. As previously explained that was where the Shady Lady tied up and she was partly owned by a prominent member of the association. The newspaper also published the associations support and position on the botel. Karen and I were most happy to move the project along the river and closer to the pokie club. That new location can be viewed on this interactive map. It suited our project perfectly. It was adjacent the only other shallow bank in the vicinity. This meant that the botel could move in and out from the river bank with a gangplank arrangement. The area was badly neglected. It was overgrown with willows which were environmentally considered as weeds. The area lay on the river side of the town levee bank and that exposed it to regular flooding.  

Next, we approached Mr. Jim Small MP (more...) who was our local member for his support. He expressed it in this letter to us. 

29 October 1986

"Thank you for your letter dated October 8, 1986 in relation to the proposed botel development at Barham and enclosing correspondence received from the Department of Planning and Environment and the Wakool Shire Council.

The project you envisage certainly has tremendous potential, and should prove an extremely popular tourist attraction.

I can understand your frustration and will do all that I can to assist you in this matter.

I have referred your predicament to the Maritime Services Board, the Lands Department and the Wakool Shire Council and as soon as responses are received I will contact you immediately.

Kind regards and best wishes."

He also wrote to Maritime on our behalf. 

4 November, 1986

The Secretary, Maritime Services Board

"I write in request that Mr. Maurie Furlan of Murray Pride Koondrook may be given every consideration in his endeavors to establish a Botel sited on the Murray River at Barham.

The concept and design appear quite sound and should prove very beneficial for the tourist trade and business houses of Barham and Koondrook, as joint border towns.

This area like most towns along the Murray River is enjoying enormous growth through such a pleasant and desirable environmental situation and "Waterhouse Enterprises" as identified by Mr. Furlan can no doubt offer the opportunity for further accommodation in attractive surroundings for holiday makers and visitors.

The major problem that must be identified as sound and safe is the establishment of sewerage outlet facilities, so that no contamination to other river users occurs, and I understand from Mr. Furlan's advise that a recommendation has been made to the Wakool Shire of how this can be overcome, however, in view of future demand, I see it as most advisable that approval be given for an effluent pump out station to be provided at Barham.

To ignore this, would not be giving sound foresight for the short term future as it must be obvious that the river growth will demand it, and a safety standard for the overall future is most necessary for health reasons and the standards we must recognize in the best interest of all people.

I do ask that every consideration be given to meeting the request of Waterhouse Enterprises".

In no time at all Wakool shire came on board offering to provide space in their caravan park for the parking of patrons cars. They asked us to provide plans and details of the project which we did. We wrote to Mr. Small describing the positive situation as it stood. We offered to build one of the smaller houseboats in addition to the large houseboat. That would allow people to step aboard and experience the botel concept. We expected we would end up with two houseboats if the botel did not proceed for any reason. The extra cost in steel and material for the smaller unit meant that we could only finance the large one to lockup stage. We also changed the design of the hulls to form modules which could be individually taken out for regular maintenance.  We placed orders for 10 ton of preformed steel sections through Hume's Engineering Works. We also ordered an additional house kit from GLENCOR in South Australia. The shire placed a Notice in the paper for the Development Application on 14 January 1987.

The Association went on to play a significant role in the demise of the project. To understand how that occurred is to realize the role of the Association in local politics. etc eagle box 1 irrigators

Bureaucratic red tape and high level corruption destroyed the venture over the next four years and both Karen and I suffered greatly. We moved away to Kerang and took on a dilapidated home under a Government "Sweat equity" Scheme. I was given an opportunity for a new career under another Government scheme known as Computer Industry Training Programming. It involved studying in Melbourne for 3 months and returning home on weekends. I found my self way out of my range when I attempted to learn.  



One day I returned home to a locked house with Karen and Ben missing. She had abandoned our marriage. To this day I believe her parents' long time solicitor had been in her ear! In quick succession, Swan Hill Magistrates Court made contradictory custody orders against me and reserved child access to my estranged wife. Child support demanded $3000. Coincidently, Maritime officials had also been in telephone contact with Karen. The vessels were subject to proceedings in the NSW Land and Environment Court and also property proceedings in the Family Court. Child Access and Child Support proceedings continued for another bitter four years until the death of Karen at age 30. It was 1995 and Ben was nine. I did not know that Karen's cancer had re emerged.

Her parents sought custody of Ben maintaining their charade that it was I who left the family. Ben's early schooling suffered greatly as a result of our court proceedings. Ben came to live with me in my mothers home. Vicki lived next door with her daughter Rhiana who was 3 years older than Ben. Our mother was frail and I became the carer of both Nonna and Ben until her passing in 1997.  Ben was due to start Secondary School and we moved to RYE where I bought a run down house. He attended ROSEBUD Secondary School but struggled to keep up. I had started a Diploma course in Building Design and Drafting at Preston TAFE but had only completed enough of the part time studies to achieve Certificate level. 

The year was 1973 and a group of naive students fresh out of various high schools were introduced to each other as part of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria(SECV) technical trainee intake. It was my first meeting with one Maurice (Maurie) Furlan. This introduction had no special significance. Maurie was just one of the group; fairly quiet, introspective, obviously intelligent. The following two years encompassed all the short term friendships, antics and hardships typical of young adults of the early seventies. My friendship with Maurie was casual however at this early stage I remember him as seeming older, maybe more mature, than the rest of us. His marriage to his first wife Nancy during this period helped enforce this stereotype. The ambivalent attitude displayed by us to Maurie's new responsibilities and his subsequent patience and continued friendship was my first strong memory of a quality in his personality - tolerance. Maurie's marriage and desire to buy a house were about as far removed from our own self interested aspirations as you could get, yet he managed to achieve these ambitions and the continued respect of all his friends. It was at this stage that another facet of Maurie's personality emerged that became the catalyst for our close friendship. Maurie was an impulsive creator, an intellectual rebel. He was obsessed with challenging the accepted norms of conservative thinking. Most of us regarded him as the mad professor and the renovation of his house with all his gadgets and electronic gizmos was an inexhaustible source of entertainment. Many of his inventions were regarded as curious rather than practical however everyone admired his creative abilities. Most agreed that Maurie's construction skills coupled with his electronic creativity would auger well for his future.

Maurie and myself completed the schooling and were employed as Electrical Operators with the SECV. In the early years of employment Maurie concentrated on renovating his house. Our friendship blossomed as we discovered a common interest in philosophical discussions, and other creative pursuits. I admired Maurie's inherent practicality in his creative endeavors. His ability to convert imaginary concepts into end products fascinated me. We spent many ours fueling each others creative desires. A true measure of our friendship was the intensity of our disagreements. On many occasions I would suggest that Maurie was not seeing the wood for the trees; obsessive and tunnel visioned. These arguments would haunt me as I secretly accepted his sometimes reluctance to consider options as a fair trade off for his unbridled determination to complete the task at hand, no matter how difficult. He seemed content in his married life and we often sought each others company when depressed. His sense of humour manifested itself in the form of some outrageous practical jokes of which I was a willing party. As often happens, these boisterous tendencies can result in painful, if not tragic, circumstances. However a dominant aspect of Maurie's personality always ensured these antics remained harmless pranks - his compassion. Maurie's unswerving consideration for the feelings of all those involved in his eclectic existence, no matter how personally stressful it may have been, to this day makes me feel humble.

Maurie's announcement of the upcoming birth of his first child altered our friendship substantially. The mere thought of the responsibilities associated with children sent chills down my spine. There was no question however on Maurie's capability to be a good father. We kept in touch during the early months after the birth but I (selfishly) felt uneasy in the presence of the family unit and as a result pursued other interests. 

My memories of the following couple of years are vague in chronological terms but painfully lucid in emotion terms. Maurie and Nancy had their second child and all seemed well. We had drifted apart and our relationship was fairly informal, comprising mainly philosophical chats on all and sundry. I still could not relate to the commitments associated with parenthood. It was at this time that Maurie transferred to another section of the SECV. I resigned and travelled overseas. Upon returning I rejoined the SECV and transferred to the same department as Maurie. Having lost touch with him it was refreshing to rekindle the friendship. It was about this time when Maurie entrusted in me a confession that was to change his life. It is not my place to elaborate on the tragedy that befell Maurie suffice to say that I have often considered how I would have reacted in the same predicament - I still don't know. Maurie's emotional instability during this period of upheaval frightened me. I tried to be an understanding friend but in most cases my inadequacies in truly relating to his emotional trauma may have exacerbated the problem. For Maurie to overcome his problems without that debilitating vindictiveness often associated in family disputes is testament to his compassion and resilience.

This period of emotional trauma adversely effected Maurie's work and he subsequently resigned rather than risk the safety of his workmates (Our job entailed control and switching of high voltage electricity). His resignation did not concern me greatly because his family separation and impending divorce had re-awakened a dream - to build a technologically superior mobile home and travel around Australia. A prototype was constructed in partnership with an old friend and they travelled to Queensland. I envied them. Apparently all was not roses though and the partnership ended with Maurie returning to Melbourne more determined than ever to pursue his dream. Another bus was to be constructed, this time properly. He attacked this project with ebullience. I often called in to see him during this period in his life and was constantly amazed at his unflagging enthusiasm. From Maurie's perspective you either shared in the dream or did not matter. There was no middle ground. I often deliberately played devils advocate questioning the responsibilities of his actions. He was never swayed. I have often regarded his obstinance as a means to cope with the emotional upheavals at that time in his life. Maurie had various female companions during this time of which I knew little about. He seemed content and eventually completed the bus and headed off. I was proud, envious and cautiously optimistic about his ability to adapt to a lifestyle so different to the majority. He settled at Echuca for a long period and I visited him fleetingly resigned to the fact that our paths would cross less and less. His creative skills were satisfied when he obtained work on the construction of a paddle steamer on the Murray River. On the odd occasions that we communicated he gave me the distinct impression he had found his nirvana. The river was his life now and I was happy for him, yet confused. What about the travelling aspirations? We lost touch for a long period though to others I spoke proudly of him as my closest friend.

A few years passed with minimal contact. Maurie had established new friendships, completed work on the paddle steamer and had become more attuned to the river lifestyle. On the odd occasions we spoke he briefly outlined his dreams for a more permanent life on the river. I would listen politely simply pleased that he had found contentment. Not long after he announced his engagement. Someone from Kerang or thereabouts I was told - a model. After the marriage Maurie and his new wife, Karen, shifted back to Melbourne and lived in the mobile home while Maurie renovated houses with his brother. Proximity enabled us to re-aquaint. My questions to him were obvious if somewhat lacking in tact. Why are you here? What about the dream of travelling around Australia? He assured me that the dream was alive and well and the sojourn to the city was to make some ready cash to finance the venture. In the meantime his wife, Karen, became pregnant and subsequently gave birth to a baby boy - Ben. During this stay in Melbourne Maurie and I undertook a design and construction project. As usual Maurie contributed way beyond my expectations. Our eventual downfall in this undertaking was not due to a lack of dedication but a partnership disagreement with a third party involved. I became cynical and mistrusting; Maurie remained outwardly composed and subsequently redirected his energies to re-establishing a life on the river.

Maurie and family headed north and settled somewhere near Kerang, Koondrook I think. We lost touch for a while as I became enmeshed in my own relationship dramas. I remember travelling up there on the odd occasion and coming away with the distinct impression all was not well with Maurie's family relationship. There appeared to be a massive conflict between Maurie's driving inventiveness and individualism and the inherent conservatism of the country and the people directly associated with his family. It was around this time Maurie told me of his concept of a floating modular Motel on the Murray River. I was intrigued. In the ensuing years this project was to be Maurie's nemesis. We spent many hours discussing the project, constructing detail drawings and building prototype designs. My role was mainly supportive and I deliberately remained in the background during the numerous political stoushes that accompany projects such as Boatel. My total contributions were minuscule compared to the work Maurie put in. He became obsessed with the project and, I believe, this lead to the eventual failure of the concept. I will try to elaborate. Maurie's approach to his project was a reflection of his approach to life in general, one of complete openness and honesty. I believe he was naive to the more insidious motives of those parasites in life who seek to gain at the misfortune of others.

The concept of Boatel exposed many of the insecurities of those directly effected by its construction. Maurie dealt with this resistance in the only way he knew how, exposing the objectors as being dishonest and self interested. Unfortunately this technique has never worked in the parry and thrust of politics. Maurie's motivations were bought into question and even though proven categorically false the die had been cast. The Boatel project denigrated into a political slanging match. It was at about this time I thought the project was doomed. On the odd occasion I attempted to convince Maurie to change his tact. He remained resolute. He had done nothing wrong - correct! The concept was sound - correct! He had honored all the bureaucratic requirements correct! Then why should I stoop to the dishonest level of those trying to destroy me - technically correct! It is indeed a sad day when a persons creativity, dedication and honesty is negated by their inability to play gutter level politics. It was at this stage in Maurie's life that I noticed prolonged periods of depression and self doubt. The strain was showing in his relationship with his wife. Karen seemed to want Maurie to cease his mildly eccentric ways and settle down to a more conservative lifestyle. This attitude only exacerbated Maurie's condition and the relationship eventually self destructed.

Boatel slowly perished in a sea of bureaucracy taking the majority of Maurie's finances and self respect with it. He moved back to Melbourne and lived with his Mother and sister and for a long period became very introspective and moody. The ugly process of divorce soon became the priority in his life. I am not about to take sides in my assessment of this period in Maurie's life suffice to say that in any dispute there is shared blame and responsibility. The level of blame is subjective. However I will make comment on the considerations of those parties involved to the present and future financial and emotional responsibilities of the child affected in this case Ben. There is no question regarding Maurie's love for his child. I would suggest that during this most difficult time in his life when he was questioning his own self worth Ben became the driving force behind Maurie's continued determination to overcome his substantial problems. As with everything else Maurie has attempted his desire to do what is right for his child became the paramount consideration. Karen was awarded custody of Ben with Maurie granted some arguable iniquitous visiting rites. During this period Maurie enrolled in a computer programming course to enhance his employment prospects. Up to this present day Maurie has never let up in his endeavors to see that justice is done in his desire to give Ben the best possible future. I will not comment on the rationale behind his argument to justify this persistence suffice to say I support his course of action completely.

In conclusion: This brief account of the period of Maurie's life spanning our friendship is both disturbing and inspirational. Disturbing in that someone with the Maurie's above average intellect supplemented with the character traits - compassion, honesty, dedication and creativity - should disproportionately suffer from the less desirable human traits - greed, envy, bigotry and ignorance. Inspirational in the fact that Maurie' resilience has seen him overcome his difficulties without the self destructive cynical tendencies so often associated with the pressures he has experienced. There is a limit though. Lately I have seen a change in Maurie's attitude that concerns me. I have always regarded Maurie's ambivalent attitude to authority per se as a reflection of the 1970's influence in our early impressionable adulthood. We were encouraged to not only begrudgingly respect authority but aggressively question it, challenge it and make it accountable. A healthy dose of skepticism helped keep us on an even keel. However, there was a fine line between paranoia and educated scepticism. Sometimes I feel Maurie crosses this line. He stridently believes that the Family Court laws must be changed (and I totally support this belief) and he is working diligently towards influencing the decision makers to correct the injustices in the current system. However Maurie's commendable desire to do the best for his son does not mean the current system is out to get him. He is simply an unfortunate victim of circumstance. The law must be changed to allow the rights of fathers to be heard and respected. I wish him well in his endeavours. His son deserves to inherit his father's attributes.

I think Ben enjoyed living on the Peninsula far too much to concentrate on school. I bought a run down house in RYE I have never stopped altering. Ben quickly made new friends and he keeps in touch with some to this day. At first Ben slept in the second bedroom upstairs next to mine. That soon proved to be too close to dads room and so we that started the first house alteration. It seemed the first home owner ran a mechanic workshop from downstairs where he built a a car pit. It was dark, dank and poorly constructed. I thought it would be very useful for the future of father and son car projects. That was never to be and it is now filled in. 



It was during my time with Judy that we travelled to Sydney to catch up with her close friend ? She was married to DAVID who was /is Judy's accountant. We stayed on his yacht which he owned a part share in. The girls weren't interested in sailing her from Sydney Harbour around to Pittwater Bay. It was not a long journey. After leaving Sydney Harbour we hoisted the sails. What a great feeling to be propelled along over a rolling sea with nothing but the wind behind us. We picked up the girls from Pittwater and enjoyed a few days in the heat of summer. 

I determined I would take up sailing there and then. Judy and I returned to Rye and I went back to work at Bunnings in Mornington. I had started working there on a part time contract. I mentioned our trip to a workmate named PETER. We had both started with Bunnings after completing lengthy inductions. Peter was a sailor having owned a Farr 7500 for many years prior. He told me of a friend he knew who was selling a Farr 6000 down my way at Sorrento. I bought it from an elderly couple who could no longer her. 

I joined the Farr Trailer Sailed Association. They are a great bunch of people with years of happy sailing memories together. I met a local member of the Association named HERMAN and together with Peter we shared many occasions together both sailing and social. 

I have owned my boat for more than ten years however I would not class myself as a completely competent sailor. On the other hand I would classify JOHN and CARROL as being truly capable sailors. The have circumnavigated the planet over a number of years. I met CARROL first though a yoga class. Soon after she introduced me to John and it was not long before I crewed on his boat. We sailed her out of the Philippines to Malaysia. 

On our arrival there I was introduced to GARY. He was also a blue water sailor having lived and travelled the seas for decades. He invited me to crew on his yacht across the South China Sea which we did. 

In 2019 I was approaching retirement age. I had heaps of annual and long service leave owing to me from Bunnings. I took the time off for an open ended break which included time off without pay. Somehow my coordinator managed to continue paying my salary while I was away on the high seas. 

Gary and I left sailed from Malaysia to Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Madagascar. 

Carrol,  John and I have another interest in common that being cycling. We would often cycle together to the Fort Nepean a round trip of 40 km. I noticed that I was struggling to keep up with them on the hills. 

I had grown up with a heart murmur since my early twenties. Not knowing what that meant; I did nothing about it until I took a turn in 2013. Six years later my cardiologist suggested it was time to replace my aortic valve. We did that on the last day of January 2019. I retired in early April that year. 

John and Carrol were holidaying on their boat in Porto Princesses in the Philippines and I during one of our Messenger calls he mentioned to me that there was a lovely boat for sale there. She was a 52 footer. He was tempted to buy it but was concerned he might be getting on in age to sail her. One thing led to another and we bought her in equal shares.

My open heart surgery required six weeks of recovery and rehabilitation. I retired in early April 2019 and started receiving the Age Pension. 
We humans have evolved with a built-in fight or flight mechanism. It has served us well until now. Although we no longer need to run from or fight off animals our bodies produce adrenaline and cortisol hormones when we are threatened. These can cause damage to our bodies if we do not use them up to overcome stressful situations. Our modern lives have created a third situation which many of us are unable to cope with. Often the danger is invisible and we cannot fight it or run away from it because it is not a physical threat but rather an emotional threat which raises our hormone levels nonetheless. Government beaurocrasy is a good example of this modern day threat. When we need to fight it or run from it our bodies still produce the hormone response. It manifests itself in the emotion of rage or fear. However we cannot strike the government with a stick or hide from it behind a bush. We interact with it over the phone or email but not in person any longer. When the interaction inevitably causes us distress we are left to stew over it with raised hormone levels. I think we have all experienced these interactions and suffered the sleepless nights which have resulted. This indicates a third response mechanism which sits in between fight or flight. Perhaps it is best described as despair and it is most destructive to mental health. 

I recall playing with lines of ants as a child. I could antagonize an individual ant with a stick and guide it away from the others. It would try to return to its set path but I could prevent it for as long as I wanted. I noticed that eventually it would stop and wander aimlessly for a while. We humans can end up in this situation as well. No matter how hard we might try our controllers have the power to direct us along whichever path they choose. 


In December 2019 I bought a half share in a in a yacht which had been left moored in the Philippines for a few years. I was due to have open heart surgery and I bought it hoping it would inspire me to make a quick recovery. My operation took place in late January in 2020. By April my rehabilitation was completed and I retired from Bunnings where I had been working for twelve years. My world fell apart; so too did everyone else's. This was due to Covid19. Fortunately John and Carolyn co-owners of our yacht managers to fly out of Australia in early February,  before the airlines shut down. For me however it was too late.  


Australian Travel Exemption attempts.

I am 67 years old and I retired from work in March 2020 following my rehabilitation from open heart surgery. I have received the Age Pension from that time onwards. By the time I received the OK to travel from my cardiologist the world locked down to deal with the Covid pandemic. As a result I could not reach my sailboat which I had purchase with another person.

I was granted an exemption to leave Australia for more than 3 months (TEP0122321) however I could not enter the Phillipines at that time and so I did not leave Australia.

About July 2021 I again applied to leave (TER145760) to accompany my friend Captain Gary Wright to South Africa. He is 68+ yo.  His application to leave Australia was approved and he left. However,  I did not receive an outcome and my submission was closed. It was not a great disappointment because it seemed there was a contact in the Phillipines who could arrange an alternate way for me to enter the country. While waiting for instructions I received a strange call from a very friendly caller via Whatsapp. I did not make the connection and I ended the conversation. I realised some time later that an assumed marriage would have been necessary for me to reach my vessel. This was a condition I was not prepared to take given my previous marital history. An alternate method then presented itself.  This entailed applying for a SPECIAL RESIDENT RETIREMENT VISA. This required an ammount of money to be deposited in a recognised Philippine bank and some fees which were not insubstantial. I was prepared to complete the application and provided a good deal of documents. I was so close to success when it became evident that I would need to have been present in the country to lodge the application. Another dead end.

Recently,  I applied once again to leave Australia for more than 3 months on 8/10/21 TER0554041 and have been rejected.

Please see attached.

1,2 Two letters from Capt. G Wright SV TASMAN II requesting my help to repair and sail his vessel out of South Africa.
3. Statutory Declaration 8/10/21requesting travel exemption for more than 3 months which remains a valid reason to leave Australia.
4. Screen shot of TEP0122321 outcome.

Please approve my application.

The result of my second Application for Travel Exemption came back on the following day and resulted in NOT EXEMPT.
Together with the news that my son would loose his job because he refused the JAB led to a little anxiety in me.  I jumped on my bike and tried to blow off some steam. However on my ride home I began to feel some chest pain on my ride up Dundas St. It did not pass as usual and I considered calling an ambulance. I had brought forward my next scheduled appointment with my cardiologist in expectations of leaving Australia to meet up with Gary on Tasman II who awaits me in South Africa. Rather than call the ambulance I made an appointment to see the next available doctor on Tuesday at my local clinic. While waiting for him the girl at the clinic noticed me rubbing my chest and she asked if I was feeling unwell. She called the doctor who brought me into the nurse station where I was given an ECG. It showed some arythmia and an ambulance took me to Peninsula hospital. My cardiologist wanted to do an angiogram on the following day because my heart rate dropped to 37 bpm while I slept. I had taken my usual heart medication on that morning and it included an anticoagulant. This precluded the angiogram for fear of bleeding out. I was given an anti anti coagulant to enable the procedure to take place within the prescribed time of 40 hours. The nurse who administered it was shocked at the cost of the medication this being $5000. A pathology nurse did a PCR test for Covid on Wednesday evening to confirm that I was virus free. That would have allowed me to enter the operating theatre however the result did arrive back in time. I was discharged on Thursday evening having fasted all day since breakfast. Another plan for the angiogram was set in place for the following week. I attended the cardiologist rooms in Frankston on Monday to have a 24 hr holter monitor fitted to my chest. I returned on the following day to have it removed and then drove for a Covid PCR test in Mornington. Lyn drove me to Peninsula hospital again on Thursday to be admitted for the procedure. I entered as per written instructions and completed the admission paperwork however it was soon realized that the most recent Covid test results had not arrived. 

It soon became difficult for our family to both live and work from the bus with our newborn. I had built Ben a cot and it slid away into a space below the stair which led out onto the roof deck. Our dining table was about 600x1200mm and it sat long the starboard wall of the bus a chair space along from the cot. Forward of the table we placed a four drawer filing cabinet between the table and our small pot belly stove. The correspondence between ourselves and numerous agencies grew substantially and it often sat on the table or stuck to the wall with blu tack. Karen kept track of the files in the early stages however that became difficult for her after the Lands department called for a second Environmental Effect Statement. That document required months of work to produce. It presented surveys of the river bed, detailed computer designs for the houseboat structures, calculations and designs for the holding tanks and anchoring system etc. My life too became difficult. We had spent a good deal of my savings in the purchase of materials for the houseboats. My work hours at the poker machine club were only casual and now we needed to pay rent as well paying for labor and plant usage at the engineering works. Our marriage began to suffer to the point where we sought professional guidance from Relationships Australia. There was no doubt in my mind that Karen was suffering from Post Natal Depression. Her mother Valerie was the Charge Nurse at the local hospital and she could see our situation was difficult but she did not offer any practical support. Rather she and Karen would fight every time they met.

That's when I made the biggest mistake of my life. At the Club I worked with another lady. Her name was Cheryl. In my view she was a contentious worker in comparison to many others who worked there. I could see she was attracted to me and I she made it known to me that she was bisexual. We began to flirt and soon that led to a slap and tickle one night after work followed by an afternoon session at her house shortly after. Sometimes I had my suspicion that perhaps Karen may have been Bi as well. We never discussed it and the subject did not arise during our marriage guidance sessions. To this day I cannot be sure if it was a figment of my mind which remained after Nancy's betrayal or whether I was so self centred to think the three of us plus one could have functioned as a family. In any event I have regretted my having cheated on Karen ever since.

As the pressure on me grew I told Karen what I had done and I demanded a commitment to both our marriage and our project if we were to stay together. At that point she seemed to pull herself together and we tried once again to live and work out of the bus. For some reason which I cannot recall we then moved in and shared another rental home with John and Cindy. The house was located on Thule Street not far from the oldest Motel in Barham. It had a 1950's look about it.  John was permanent at the Club and Cindy sometimes worked there as well. She had befriended Karen and was helping with Ben during her difficult times. I can recall vividly arriving home late at night from a late shift and finding Karen sitting up in bed. She was spaced out and seeing Chinese figures on the end of the bed. I became extremely worried about her. She became obsessed about having a pond built in the back corner of the yard where she could sit and meditate. 

Their argument. Cindy's note about SHPGROUP. AFTER TV8

The bus was par

When was flat told Karen about cheryl
Marne street Jehovah Vs uniting 
SH meeting living at cindy

Covid times are here and they are not much fun at all. Here in Victoria we are approaching our vaccination targets which will allow us to open up gradually. Not soon enough for many. There are grumblings and a good deal of rule breaking. I see protests on the nightly news. FREEDOM IS CHOICE say the banners. Perhaps they should be free. But what does freedom mean. Surely we should be free to cross a road. But if the light is red we risk that freedom. 

Rather than complain and protest that which I cannot change I will be taking time to time to look through my old slides, photos, diaries and documents. It's "part of my therapy" say the mental health professionals. I am writing down my memoirs. I can see already that it will be on ongoing project. 

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