Home' The Murray Pioneer : January 17th 2017 Contents Behind the scenes
at Santa’s Cave
NOW the Christmas season
has passed and I reflect on the
pleasure many little children
experienced during that festive
period, I feel the volunteers that
make these pleasures possible
need a big thank you for their
Much of their work is done
unseen behind the scenes.
The Barmera Santa’s Cave
held in the Barmera Memorial
Hall was one attraction that
brought joy to many, with lots
of praise from locals as well
as people from outside of the
The people behind the con-
struction of the ‘cave’ need a
special mention for their artistic
Monique Gordon, the
principal creator, was assisted by
her three lovely daughters who
gave many hours help to their
mum with the hands-on work
and then suited up to be Santa’s
Thanks Monique, Serena,
Hannah and Elly for your love of
One of the elves told me this
year’s cave work has already
started for 2017 Christmas.
Keep up your great work girls
it’s much appreciated by many.
Ed: Mr Juers is a ‘good friend’
of Father Christmas when he
appears in Barmera every year.
An air of desperation
Birdsville for the funeral of the
son of a good mate of mine.
It was short notice, so I
phoned Parafield airport, and
managed to get a seat on a light
plane going up for the funeral.
I spent the night before at
my sister’s place in Adelaide,
keeping all fluids to a minimum,
because it was a flight of at least
My fellow travellers were a
young bloke, and three young
ladies. The young male pilot still
appeared wet behind the ears,
and had never been to Birdsville.
We took off, and after a cou-
ple of minutes of polite conver-
sation to the girl next to me, I
took out my book.
From time to time I looked
out the window, identifying loca-
tions as we flew over them.
When we were in the vicinity
of Hawker, the pilot asked if
anyone needed to land at Leigh
Creek for a toilet stop. Everyone
said no, including me.
Half an hour later, as we were
above the North Flinders near
Arkaroola, I received a ‘mes-
sage’ from my body, and thought
‘No, this can’t be right’, and put
it straight out of my mind.
Well, it may have been out
of my mind, but it wasn’t out of
that other place.
Minutes later came anoth-
er ‘message’, this time more
Now everyone has their pride
and dignity, and I had my fair
share. I prepared both for a bat-
We were way past Leigh
Creek. As the pilot finished off
a bottle of soft drink, I took out
my trusty green Sidney Kidman
& Co notebook, and wrote a
short note to the pilot.
It said: “Dear Pilot, I am
busting! Can you put down at
I passed the note over his
shoulder, and it disappeared like
a bank card at an ATM.
I was aware that time was
tight (for the funeral), particu-
larly as we had a strong head
wind. Nothing seemed to happen
for minutes... then, he thrust the
empty bottle over his shoulder.
Now, until this moment the
girl next to me had taken just a
casual interest in the exchange
with the pilot.
But that changed. That casual
interest turned into an attitude of
I cleared my throat, and turn-
ing to her, said in a loud jocular
manner: “I’m sorry folks, but
nature calls, and I have to do
this”. I held up the soft drink
I then reached under the seat
and pulled out a blanket (thank
God it was there), indicating to
all three ladies, to sort of hold it
up as a screen.
All of their faces now regis-
tered expressions of horror and
disgust, and I thought, ‘getting
shot at couldn’t be as bad as
So, in the cramped confines
I ‘organised’ myself, and began
my desperate task. I soon real-
ised that my fears of overflow-
ing the bottle were not going
to materialise. In fact, I could
barely cover the bottom. Then,
after five minutes of holding up
a corner of the blanket, the girl
next to me lowered hers.
Result of that was I almost
ruptured myself, and she
screamed and nearly went
through the side of the Cessna.
She whipped up the blanket
again and I actually felt myself
I put the top on the bottle, and
Jamming the bottle under the
seat, I said something pathetic
like, ‘all clear ladies’.
The plane now carried two
young blokes, three young shei-
las, and one dirty old man.
I went back to my book, but
soon realised my troubles were
far from over.
Five minutes later ‘it’ reap-
peared... well, represented itself
would be more accurate.
Now, I would rather have
jumped out of the plane than go
through that performance again,
so I thought it had to be mind
I concentrated fiercely on
my book, and as ‘it’ demanded
relief, I pushed it away into my
But it was like pushing a jelly-
fish through the eye of a needle.
Periodically, I would look down
at the Strzelecki desert, desper-
ately looking for landmarks, as
the agony below my belt got
worse and worse.
Finally, I saw a channel off
the Diamantina River that I rec-
ognised, and thought that you
can put up with anything for 10
But it wasn’t 10 minutes.
Most experienced pilots
would have just performed a
turn, and landed at Birdsville.
But this bloke was strictly by the
He seemed to be flying half-
way to bloody Alice Springs in a
great wide circle, before coming
in to land.
You would have thought he
was flying a Jumbo. He finally
touched down, and it was a moot
point who was the keenest to get
out of the plane first.
Now, I used to own the
Birdsville Pub, but hadn’t been
to Birdsville for a couple of
Like a crippled crab, I made
my way towards where an out-
side toilet used to be, but shock
horror... it was gone!
And so had the athol pines
that used to surround it. The pub
was closed for the funeral, and
the next public one was at the
So in yet another act of des-
peration, I headed for the new
motel. My lucky number is
seven, so I knocked on number
No answer. So I opened the
door. On the bed were clothes
laid out, obviously for the funer-
Like a heat-seeking device, I
made for the toilet, locked the
door, and was in there for a long
I desperately hoped the occu-
pants wouldn’t return.
When finished, I peered cau-
tiously around the door, then
opened the motel room door.
Like a petty thief (though I
could argue in court, if need be,
that instead of taking something,
I had in fact, left something!) I
scuttled out and headed for the
I desperately needed a beer
(s), but not a drop did I drink (of
anything) all that afternoon.
I was back on the plane later,
half perished, but safe in the
knowledge that there would be
no repeats of my earlier perfor-
mance. The seating had been
rearranged, and I found myself
next to the young bloke, who
chose to be very cool towards
The flight back was enjoyably
Note: Rex Ellis’ outback
books are available online
(safarico.com.au) or by phoning
IF it was purely a cost vs benefit scenario,
the numbers simply wouldn’t stack up for
The Village, Historic Loxton (formerly
known by the more sensible and user-friend-
ly name, The Loxton Historical Village).
District Council of Loxton Waikerie
figures tell us the Village loses between
$150,000 and $200,000 per year.
That’s a lot. In fact, some might consider
such a ratepayer burden unsustainable.
It is undoubtedly time for the council to
explore options for the Village’s future, hence
the public consultation running until March.
Perhaps a partnership with a private
operation could be explored, though it’s
difficult to imagine the circumstances under
which both parties could make such an
Rationalising or downsizing the village
appeal as sensible options.
Already an idea of operating only on
weekends and public holidays has been
floated, and likewise cutting back the
Village’s size – or moving the main contents
to another location altogether – also
The Village sits on a sizeable and
extremely valuable piece of land, and while
changing the site’s purpose would come
with plenty of hurdles, ‘enhanced land use’
is a worthwhile aspiration.
Could accommodation be added to the
Regardless, the Village needs to deliver
value for money for local ratepayers...
except that it plays a major role in
sustaining the town’s heritage, and as such,
its value is difficult to quantify in monetary
If the council decides to attempt major
changes for the Village – either how it
presents, or how it operates – it can expect
plenty of backlash from sections of the
Among Riverland towns, Loxton prides
itself on being especially historically aware,
and locals are quick to defend their town’s
traditions and cherished local sites and
events. Remember the battle over whether
council should accept the bequeathment
of The Pines? It underlined the close ties
Loxton folk have with their town and its
That relationship must be taken into
account, but – like it or not – it is trumped
by the ‘value for ratepayer money’ factor.
Is it appropriate for me (a
member of the public) to attend
sporting events at the expense
of pollies? Give them a bill and
watch them squirm.
Well said, Joyce of Loxton (Text
Line, 13/1/17). You said what
a lot of people think about the
greedy politicians who keep on
ripping off the average people
in this country. As they say, the
rich get richer and the poor get
poorer. Will it ever change?
Regarding the Berri river front
development (‘How’s this point
of view?’, Pioneer, 13/1/17),
has the Berri Barmera Council
got it wrong? As a prospective
buyer, I am a little disappointed
with 25 blocks being up for
auction. They are very narrow
and awkward to build on. They
have minimal frontage and not
much view, and we also lack
information on multi-purpose
development. I am sure most
blocks will eventually be sold
as housing blocks, but how
do you know if you will end up
with a late-night cafe/takeaway
shop next door (or another
type of business)? Council’s
own guidelines have separate
zones preventing this from
happening ‘normally’. Also, what
about the strict restrictions on
building times and many other
restrictions? Anyone interested
in these blocks must get a
copy of the land management
agreement and read it carefully.
Re: yabbies. Good on you,
‘Roo’ of Barmera (Text Line,
13/1/17). I agree with you. Most
yabbies boiled alive. Cruel and
We have always boiled our
yabbies alive. Surely it would
only hurt them for a few
Value for money
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6 OPINION www.murraypioneer.com.au Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Dose Of Dorin
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