What’s The Good Of Being An Island If You’re Not Good At It.

Most first time overseas visitors to Sydney arrive with a prepared have-to list of their must do’s. It’s a penny to a quid they’ll have on their lists, explore The Rocks and Circular Quay, wander Darling Harbour, walk the Sydney Harbour Bridge, visit Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, stop by the Zoo, take a Harbour cruise, tour the Opera House, and show up at Bondi Beach. If I’m gonna be in Sydney for a few days during any of my travels back Down Under, I never prepare a Sydney must-do list. It’s easier to take care of the must-do Sydney attractions from the plane window rather than tootling around the city for a few days. Because most international flights to Sydney Airport approach runway 16 from the north, I try to make sure I’m sitting in a window seat on the left-hand side of the plane. If the wind is coming from the right direction and the air traffic controller has stipulated a western or northwest flight approach path, then below you will be a panorama of the Harbour Bridge, the iconic Opera House, most of Sydney Harbour, the skyscrapers of North Sydney, and the Sydney skyline. And that’s your must-do list taken care of, as well as having the most impressive plane window view ever.

image source: executivetraveller.com

If the wind is coming from the right direction, and if the air traffic controller has stipulated a western or northwest flight approach path, you’ll get the most impressive plane window view ever. Before and below you is the Harbour Bridge and iconic Opera House, most of Sydney Harbour and the skyscrapers of North Sydney, and the Sydney skyline; the tourist destinations on everyone’s must-do list.

I always do a final confirmation before the plane begins its descent into Sydney. As the cabin crew start collecting the leftover remnants of breakfast, I’ll ask one of them if they wouldn’t mind checking with the captain to find out what runway we are assigned and if the wind direction has caused a different approach than the north. If I need to change seats from the left-hand side to the right-hand side of the plane, I’ll do a quick scan to find any vacant right-hand side window seats. If I’m out of luck, I’ll try to assess who would swap their seat if I told them a frightening story of extreme wind shifts.

I’ve seen the right-hand side of a plane hit with a down-draft so enormous that it caused a massive, ear-popping, stomach-churning drop; the people sitting in the right-hand side window seats shot out of them and hit the ceiling, and then landed across the aisle, one row up, on other passengers lap. And I’ve seen people who must have had the baked beans and omelette for their breakfast blowing yellow-red liquid all over the place as they used their hands to try and funnel the vomit into the back of the seat pouch in front of them.

When the First Fleet of 9 transport ships and 2 small warships arrived at Botany Bay in January 1788, it didn’t take long to figure out the area wasn’t suitable for settlement; so the 850 convicts and their Marine guards and officers moved to Sydney Cove in Port Jackson. And in time, the cove became known as Sydney Harbour. Originally the harbour was dotted with 14 islands, and the British named the large island with the flocks of noisy sulphur-crested parrots perched in its red gum trees Cockatoo Island.

image source: executivetraveller.com

Today the island looks nothing like the uninhabited, rocky, tree-covered island it was in 1839 when the 9th Governor of the colony of New South Wales, Major George Gipps, decided it to be a perfect location to build a prison for convicts who had re-offended in the settlement. Cockatoo Islands had its slopes cleared of trees and its upper parts levelled for the building of the convict prison. As the Sydney settlement grew from a colony into a city, the prison became an industrial school and reformatory for girls, and later a prison barracks. The islands sandstone foreshores were blasted with gunpowder to construct a dry dock for shipbuilding and repair; then came a naval shipyard. Nowadays, Cockatoo Island is about 232 yards long and 30 yards wide; it’s the largest of the remaining eight harbour islands and is one of 11 Australian convict sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

image source: australianconvictsites.org.au

On my last trip Down Under, I landed in Sydney and spent a few days as a tourist in the Harbour City. I idled the days away, wandering around Barangaroo, enjoying fish and chips at Watsons Bay, and gazing in awe at the wood escalator sculpture at Wynard Railway Station. Activities you’d have trouble doing looking out a plane window. And then, I was inspired by the spirit of adventure and decided to go on a 2-hour Saturday night dusk Haunted History Tour of Cockatoo Island. Cockatoo Island is a commuter ferry ride from Circular Quay. When Saturday afternoon arrived, I made my way to Circular Quay to catch the F8 ferry service; it was a little after four when I stepped onto its gangway. I didn’t know it at the time, but it came to be that I was practising a canny sense of long-sightedness in leaving for Cockatoo Island some 2 hours before the start of the tour. As the ferry made its way under the iconic bridge, I looked for bridge climbers; I wondered how many tourists would have on their must-do list, take a ferry ride under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

image source: jmcadam

As soon as the ferry cleared the bridge, it headed toward the shore and made a stop at Luna Park. And that caused me to experience a slight mental shiver. When I first checked the Sydney ferry services timetables, the Cockatoo Island ferry didn’t stop at Luna Park. Could I possibly be on the wrong ferry? I hurriedly set off to the gangway gate in the hope of finding a track-it ferry service map displaying a ferry’s journey in real-time. As I bumbled toward the gangway gate, I began a soft melodious,

Will I ever return
No I’ll never return
Will my fate remain unlearned
I may ride forever on the harbour’s water
I’m the man who never returned

I started frantically pushing on the real-time Sydney ferry services interactive display panel. A timetable appeared, and I breathlessly traced the names of the ferry stops with my finger. And I discovered I wasn’t on the Cockatoo Island ferry but a ferry that made stops in and around the harbour and further afield; so many that I began to have a shake in my boots panic. Then I saw it, buried among the too many stops to count was Cockatoo Island. I had jaunty spring to my step as I stepped ashore at Cockatoo Island and was delighted that I had over an hour to wander and explore the island before the Haunted History Tour.

image source: jmcadam

The first landmark I came across was a crowd control, steel barricade fence blocking off the Eastern Apron. The Apron is an area of grass, concrete, and relics of the islands shipbuilding days. It’s nestled against the dramatic backdrop of a sheer cliff face and provides one with a breathtaking harbour view. A large sign on the fence had an arrow labelled with, Entrance This Way, and another sign had written in generous letters, Tickets This Way. I approached a uniformed attendant who was standing by the entrance.

Me: ‘Scuse me mate, how come you gotta pay to go into the island?
Uniformed Attendant: You don’t, only if you want to go in there.
Me: What’s so special about in there?
Uniformed Attendant: Nothing, we put a fence up because of the festival.
Me: What festival?
Uniformed Attendant: One Electric Day with The Voice himself, Sir John of Farnham, Vanessa with all the arm and leg tats, and a few others.
Me: Yu mean Johnny, the plumbers’ apprentice. He hit it big with his first hit Sadie The Cleaning Lady, back in the sixties.
Uniformed Attendant: Dunno anything about that mate!
Me: For a while, it was good luck trying to buy an Electrolux; yu’ couldn’t find one anywhere. Do yu’ know where the Haunted History Tour starts from?

Our Haunted History Tour small group headed off as the sun started lowering itself toward the horizon. As we walked past the glamping tents, I wondered why my fellow tour members were here. Was it because Cockatoo Island was the site of so much hardship, death and dying that they were hoping for a spine-chilling ghostly experience, or were they like me, hoping to gain a deeper meaning of the island’s history and culture.

image source: news.com.au

Torchlight guided us through the Dog Leg Tunnel. We looked through the dusty windows of darkened buildings, and our guide told of ghostly activities as he shone his torch on the outside of buildings. It seemed as if the noisy island glamping campers wandering about exploring their overnight island spooked the ghosts because our group didn’t have any paranormal experiences. Families and young adults often spend the night on Cockatoo Island at the glamping ground in a pre-erected or BYO tent or spend a night or more at one of the Federation-style heritage houses or apartments. I never imagined teenagers and adolescents skateboarding in a Dog Leg Tunnel could be so rowdy. Or was it possible what I thought were weekend visitors were the supernatural?

The Haunted History tour guide ushered us onto the back lawn of one of the Federation-style heritage houses; it was once the home to Cockatoo Island’s medical officer. He began telling a story of a little girl aged 5 or 6 in a white dress; just as he was explaining that Minnie was the second child of Gother Kerr Mann, Superintendent of Cockatoo Island from 1859 to 1870, I felt a haunting vibration. I began walking to the edge of the clifftop that overlooked the Eastern Apron. I looked down. All I could see was the One Electric Day festival. I became spellbound, marvelling at how Vanessa Amorosi could jump down off the speakers, mix with the crowd, then jump back up to continue her set. I thought it somewhat comparable to Cregg Rondell, lead singer of the Boy Hits Car band, climbing a stack of speakers and diving 68 feet into the cheering crowd below.

image source: jmcadam

The sun had reached the horizon, and the light was draining away and fading as I sat at the Cockatoo Islands dock waiting for whatever ferry was going to Circular Quay. I looked back toward the silhouetted sandstone walls of the convict settlement and stared off into the darkness. I tried to focus on the outline of the islands original century-year-old steam crane. Through the still air came the faint sound of whistling steam escaping from a boiler and the thumping of pistons and the grinding of sprockets. Or maybe it was just Minnie enjoying the warm evening, playing and singing, on the back lawn.


Welcome to Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour

One Electric Day Cockatoo Island Sydney, November 9, 2019

Interesting Facts About John Farnham-NFSA

Freedom Is Being Able To Eat Cake Every Day

No trip to Fremantle, or freo as the locals call it, would be complete without taking in a couple of the must-do things listed on the countless “What to do when visiting Fremantle” websites. Each of the different websites lists the same what to do activities: visit the Roundhouse, hang out at the pristine beaches, escape to Rottnest Island and meet the quokkas, enjoy fish and chips at Fishing Boat Harbour, stroll the Fremantle Market, sample a boutique beer at Little Creatures, wander the Cappuccino Strip, stretch your legs at Esplanade Park, and tour Fremantle’s infamous prison. I’ve always said, if you’re visiting somewhere new, the first thing you need to do is something to give yourself an insight into the values and spirit of that place. I’d suggest wandering the downtown streets, finding a place to drink with a local, and starting up a conversation with a stranger. On my first day in Fremantle, I signed up for the following tours, a historical walking tour, a cemetery tour to visit Bon Scott’s gravesite, the lead singer of AC/DC, and a Behind Bars tour of Fremantle’s heritage prison.

image source: jmcadam

The convicts transported to the Swan River Settlement built the roads, houses, churches, and buildings that would become the city of Fremantle, as well as their own prison. It was known as the Convict Establishment and records suggest, close to 10,000 convicts passed through it until transportation ended in 1868. The Establishment was renamed the Fremantle Prison, and it continued as a place of incarceration until decommissioned in 1991; it’s now a world heritage site.

It was a hot midday afternoon when I headed off for The Convict Prison tour. As I got to the corner of Market and High Streets, I realised I’d be stepping inside a one time, maximum-security prison, and confronting the realities of life on the inside. I thought of stopping to get some Parma Shapes or Chicken Twisties to nibble on during the tour. But I realised any food from the outside would be confiscated at the gate. I was thinking of the gruelling and demanding time I was in for and decided I had best take in a carb-loading snack before the tour, so I stopped at Fremantle’s oldest tea room.

image source: jmcadam

Culley’s is known for its mouth-watering pies and their daily baked delights that include: matchsticks, lamingtons, and vanilla slices. I ordered a pie with chips and salad for my pre-prison, carb-loaded snack. As I squirted tomato sauce on the pie and raised a fork full of pie and salad to my mouth, I thought how my snack would be a godsend to an Inmate Distiller; a pie and sauce and chips fermenting in a plastic bag with hot water would produce tremendous prison alcohol.

We gathered around our guide; he started the tour with an introductory story of Fremantle Prison from its convict origins in the 1850s until its closure as a maximum-security gaol in 1991. He finished the introduction with several cautions.

Convict Prison Tour Guide: No shoes, no shirt, no entry
Tour Group Person: Bet the convicts weren’t told that to often; do thongs count?
Convict Prison Tour Guide: You must keep hold of your ticket until your visit to Fremantle Prison is complete
Tour Group Person: Blimey, now we’re all ticket of leave men
Convict Prison Tour Guide: Fremantle Prison retains the right to deny access and or remove visitors who are being a public nuisance, acting recklessly, or failing to observe directions from Fremantle Prison staff
Tour Group Person: Fair go, mate, I thought that’s how ya got into prison
Convict Prison Tour Guide: Chewing chips and toffees is something you don’t do at a world heritage site, so there’s no eating on the tour
Tour Group Person: Fair crack of the whip mate! good job I finished me Darrell Lea Allsorts before the tour

image source: jmcadam

Our Convict Prison tour guide led us through the cell blocks and exercise yards. Even though writing and drawing on the walls was not permitted, I couldn’t help but notice the graffiti, poems, and pictures scrawled on some of the walls of the long sandstone hallways. The Convict Prison tour guide explained that in the last few months of the prison’s operation, the rules were relaxed to introduce art therapy, and so graffiti and artwork spread across the walls of some of the cells and hallways.

From 1888 through to 1984 the gallows room was the only place of legal execution in Western Australia. Forty-three men and one woman hanged in the gallows room. As our tour guide described the formalities of a hanging I took hold of the railing, bent over and looked down into the thirteen feet of the long drop.

Convict Prison Tour Guide: It went full bore when it was time; they escorted the poor bugger through that door there from their cell in solitary
Tour Group Person: They knew they’d seen their last gum tree
Convict Prison Tour Guide: Their hands and feet were tied up in leather shackles and they put a cloth hood over their head
Tour Group Person: Bummer
Convict Prison Tour Guide: They stood em on the closed trap door there and a noose was put around their neck and they hanged the poor bugger by dropping em through that trap door
Tour Group Person: Poor bugger
Convict Prison Tour Guide: It was over and done with in a flash; like a dose of salts
Tour Group Person: Like selling hot cakes
Convict Prison Tour Guide: Yep, just like hot cakes; from leaving their condemned cell in Solitary to their hanging was around 60 seconds

image source: jmcadam

Corporal punishment wasn’t uncommon in Australian penal colonies, and the Convict Establishment was no exception. I’m not sure if the young fella volunteered, or if his girlfriend volunteered him, but as quick as a flash, his arms and legs were tied to the lashing post. Just as the young fella was about to be lashed, our guide called a stop to it. Apparently, the Establishment staff sometimes refused to inflict corporal punishment on the convicts. So before the cat of nine tails could be used, Flagellators had to be recruited from Fremantle. No one in the tour group volunteered to be a Flagellator.

An hour and a half of walking through cell blocks, exercise yards, and up and down stairs caused me to wonder if I was suffering from a carb deficiency, and therefore my need for carb-loading food. As soon as the tour finished, I headed to Culley’s for a cup of afternoon tea and a daily baked matchstick, lamington, or vanilla slice. As soon as I took the first slow bite of the firm vanilla yellow custard between the two buttery pieces of puff pastry, I once again experienced the heavenly taste of a vanilla slice; just as I did on Sunday afternoons. Sunday afternoon was mum’s baking day, and the kitchen counters were filled with lamingtons and butterflies, vanilla slices and matchsticks, and occasionally a sponge cake and scones. Mum moved her Sunday baking to Friday or Saturday afternoon if Friday and Saturday nights were visitor nights.

image source: expedia

The lounge room was set aside for receiving visitors where they were entertained, with adult conversation, a pot of tea, and the results of mum’s baking. Mum had furnished the lounge room with the formal elegance dad’s working wage allowed. Crocheted dollies sat on the back of the sofa, and the two lounge chairs and her crystal sparkled from within the glass china cabinet. A PMG 300 Series Bakelite rotary phone sat on a small table alongside the crystal cabinet. Over time a His Master Voice, our first television, replaced the phone and it sat supreme in the lounge room. Mum and dad’s friends, the Slaters, would visit on a Saturday night, and their visit was a small gift from heaven. It wasn’t that I was allowed up the passageway and into the lounge room, but more so because mum always left me a couple of her vanilla slices on a plate on the kitchen table. Before I went up the passageway mum would sternly warn me,

Just say hello to Mr and Mrs Slater, be on your best behaviour and keep your feet off the chairs.

I dreaded when it was our turn to visit the Slaters in Coburg because it meant I wouldn’t be eating mum’s vanilla slices and dad would be driving past the dark foreboding bluestone walls of Pentridge.

image source: jimschembri.com

Pentridge began as a stockade in 1851, and between 1857 and 1864 it was transformed, into a typical British prison with wings radiating from a central hall for each prisoner to have their own cell. High walls with sentry towers were built from bluestone quarried on-site and enclosed the prison. Pentridge became known as The Bluestone College. Whenever I caught sight of the high imposing bluestone walls, my mind worked overtime imaging the violence and depravity inside those walls. I’d fall into a huddled silence on the back seat of the car, not daring to look at the threatening walls, fear gripped my mind, and my heartbeat would race., The fear sent shivers down my spine and caused my hair to stand on end. Dad would start to talk slowly and quietly; he was the only soothing, calming presence.

Some say Pentridge was witness to scenes of great violence and depravity. It housed Ned Kelly, Australia’s infamous bushranger before, and after his hanging at the Melbourne Gaol in 1880; his remains were moved to Pentridge in 1929.

image source: thenewdaily.com.au

The notorious underworld character Mark Chopper Read spent time at Pentridge. He’s known for his semi-autobiographical fictional crime novels, children’s books, and paintings that include a series of Ned Kelly portraits; some depicting Ned as heavily tattooed, like himself, and with machine guns or hooks for hands. The Australian film Chopper launched the career of Australian actor Eric Bana. Pentridge housed Ronald Ryan, the last man executed in Australia; he was hanged at the gaol in 1967. Pentridge officially closed on May 1st, 1997.

Bluestone College is being redeveloped and transformed into an urban village, that will include a public piazza, restaurants, a shopping centre, and a 15-screen Palace Cinema. I wonder if Culley’s would be interested in opening a shop in Coburg.

Culley’s Tea Rooms

Chopper Review

Pentridge Prison’s History of Horror

Never Meet A Polygon Half-Way

The Fremantle Visitor Center email confirmed my booking for the Tuesday Afternoon, 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM, Fremantle History Walking Tour. It gave the starting point as the top of Roundhouse hill near the ship artwork; just to the left of the Roundhouse as you come up the Roundhouse stairs. I’ve always thought that planning to be on time for the start of an event is a bad idea, so I make every effort to arrive fifteen minutes before the announced start time. Google maps suggested it was a 7-minute walk down High Street to the top of Roundhouse Hill, so I left the hotel an hour before the tour start time. High Street was slowly starting to wake; shop keepers were hosing and sweeping the footpath in front of their shops, and small collections of people were starting their day with a flat white and the morning newspaper, at just placed outdoor tables.

image source:jmcadam

There was nothing to hinder my walk down High Street, and I was at the top of Roundhouse hill and near the ship artwork inside of 10 minutes. I was alone. I stood absorbing the panoramic view of the Indian Ocean, Bathers Beach, Fishing Boat Harbour, and the sweeping views over Fremantle and the historic High Street I’d just strolled down. As the sun climbed higher into the morning sky, the waters began to transform into a shimmering azure mirror. Rottnest Island ferries started skating across the blue waters, and one or two container ships began to slowly head toward the container terminal.

I wondered how I’d recognise Big Al, the tour operator and guide for Fremantle History Walking Tours. It wasn’t all that difficult; he was wearing a blue tee-shirt with Fremantle History Walking Tour, in Old English font on the front. Al shared he was a local lad, born and raised in Freo and that he was eager to share his knowledge about his beloved Freo. I thought we had Big Al to ourselves, but when it came time to start the tour, another tourist turned up; obviously someone who always plans to be on time for the start of an event.

image source:jmcadam

Al spoke proudly and passionately about the history of his treasured Fremantle. He drew our attention to the Roundhouse, explaining it was built just after the Swan River Colony was established to hold anyone convicted of a crime in the new settlement. It was Western Australia’s original goal, and is the oldest, still standing, public building in the state. Al highlighted the Roundhouse’s twelve-sides, describing how the cells were arranged around a central courtyard so a warder, at the centre of the building, could see into any open cell. Al had encouraged us to ask questions, so I was tempted to ask

if it has twelve sides why didn’t the early colonists call it a Dodecagon, instead of a Roundhouse?

Big Al began to recite the sad and dark story of the hanging of a young 15-year-old Parkhurst Reformatory boy in front of the Roundhouse. He described John Gavin as a tiny boy, so tiny he had weights attached to him so that his execution was more humane. Al’s recounting of the gruesome crime became white noise because all I was thinking about was polyhedra.

image source:paranormalhunters.com.au

My attention shifted from three- dimensional dodecahedrons when Al pointed to the Roundhouse Stairs and pronounced in a loud voice

and they carried poor Gavin down those stairs to a makeshift gallows not ten yards away, (Big Al lowered his voice at least four octaves to deliver the poignant epilogue) and the prison bell was heard to toll as the melancholy procession set out from Gavin’s cell to the scaffold.

I closed my eyes hoping to clear my mind of the image of the tiny 15-year-old John Gavin hanging in chains from the makeshift gallows. I thought of asking Big Al if the silhouette of the gallows and chains resembled a wireframe pentagram, but he had moved on. He was delivering a passionate narrative about Fremantle’s charming, heritage sandstone buildings.

image source:abc.net.au

On the short walk to the WA Shipwrecks Museum, Al delivered his rhetorical précis on the European exploration and settlement of Western Australia. As he talked of Dirk Hartog, Willem Janszoon, and other Dutch, French and English navigators, and Edmund Lockyer and William Dampier, I was transported back and sitting in Mr. McDevitt social studies class at Williamstown Tech. Mr. McDevitt was a chosen one, a gifted master of the blackboard. He created colourful chalkboard panoramas of the exploration of Australia; Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth crossing the Blue Mountains, Burke and Wills’ fateful crossing of Australia, and the voyages of Bass and Flinders. Sometimes Mr. McDevitt would create his blackboards before class, and as we lined up outside the classroom our eyes were drawn to the blackboard masterpieces. The eyes of every boy were fixated on the sweeping chalk tableau masterpieces as we marched single file into the room.

But not all Williamstown Tech teachers had the same blackboard chalk skills as Mr. McDevitt; compared to Mr. McDevitt they were blackboard amateurs. Mr. Stonehouse taught first, second, and third form Arithmetic. He kept his chalk in its original cardboard box, on the table at the front of the room. He’d reach into the chalk box for a stick of white chalk, raise it to his mouth and lick it, step up to the board, and with his back to the class, produce the working out for the problems he’d just set the class. Within seconds, the front of the classroom was a cloud of white chalk dust.

image source:pinterest

Mr. Fraser’s blackboards were formal, organised, and laid out with scientific precision. He taught general science to 4AB, and chemistry and physics to 5AB. In the fourth form, we watched Mr. Fraser perform experiments on the front of the room teacher’s science bench. And the assembled equipment appeared in coloured chalk on the front boards, along with a detailed description of the method, observations and measurements, calculations, and conclusions. His blackboards were chalk journals. When there wasn’t an experiment, Mr. Fraser, with his back to the class, filled the three boards with precise, chalk written, scientific theories, postulates, and laws. The boards were a mirror copy of a chapter in a science textbook.

Mr. Baldwin taught fourth and fifth form Mathematics. Fifth form Mathematics was divided into Algebra, Trigonometry, and Geometry. Mr. Baldwin’s blackboards were of a similar standard to Mr. Frasers. They were filled with rows of neat algebraic equations, right-angle triangles with only an angle and the length of a side labeled, and parallel lines cut by transversals. But that’s not how I remember Mr. Baldwin. I don’t know how, or exactly when, he knew that the post-pubescent teenage boys of 5AB were ready to see the three dimensional cardboard models.

image source:monkwearmouth.sunderland.sch.uk

One day, halfway through a geometry class, he disappeared through the door in the front corner of the room, and into his office. He reappeared within minutes carrying a mysterious shape and stepped onto the raised platform at the front of the room. Mr. Baldwin slowly twisted and turned the strange cardboard model, as he raised it above his head. I remember staring with wide-open eyes as he moved and turned the model because every face was an exact copy of the other. He challenged us to count the number of faces and polygons in the model and commanded

and when you have the answer boys hands up

Mr. Baldwin caused time to stop for several minutes by waiting for a show of hands. There were three standard hand-raising techniques we used. Each one was used to signal that you had an answer to a question, or as a distraction decoy if you hadn’t a clue. A good hands up strategy, to cause the teacher to wonder if you had an answer or not, was to never use the same hand-raising technique twice in the same class period.

Sputnik blast off: the arm is pushed at top speed until it’s at a straight vertical line from the shoulder
Pumping up the flat bike tyre: the arm is slowly raised from the shoulder and the action is repeated so the arm is continually raised and lowered
Stopping the car hand signal: the arm is slowly pushed out from the shoulder until is at 90 degrees to the body and then it is bent at a 45 degree angle to elbow bend it at the elbow. The index finger is usually raised when the arm reaches it’s resting position

image source:thoughtco.com

John Colville and Robert Ballard always did the Sputnik blast off hand-raising technique. Which was to be expected because they were the brains of 5AB and had no need to use deception or bluff. Mr. Baldwin waited for fifteen hands in the air and then announced

class, hands down; (he waited, enjoying the silence) boys this is Mr. Dodecahedron

Mr. Baldwin seemed to sense an excitement and wonderment that not one of the 5AB boys experienced. He went into his office and was back in a flash standing in front of the room, holding another model above his head. He announced to us stupefied boys: I hold the trisoctahedron. In the following weeks, Mr. Baldwin showed us cardboard models of hexoctahedrons, dodecagonals, and other polyhedra. Sometimes during a geometry class, he’d call a lucky boy to the front of the room and allow them to hold the polyhedra. I think he was hoping one of us would raise our hand and ask

sir can I hold the polyhedra, do you have any irregular pentahedrons sir, how long did it take you to make the truncated icosahedron sir

Mr. Baldwin didn’t seem to understand that post-pubescent boys didn’t have a curiosity about polyhedra; that we had other things to think about instead of the geometry of three-dimensional polyhedrons.

image source:jmcadam

Big Al finished his tour at the corner of Marine Terrace and Collie Street. As we sat and socialised on the street benches by Esplanade Park, I asked him if he had considered offering a polyhedra walking tour of Fremantle. In a city whose heritage buildings capture the timeless balance between man, land, and the sea, there had to be remarkable architectural examples of icosahedrons, cubicuboctahedrons, and rhombic triacontahedrons. Al said he would think about it.


WA Shipwrecks Museum

Fremantle Roundhouse

How To Make A Dodecahedron