The Sydney Morning Herald from Sydney, New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia on June 17, 1967 · Page 15
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The Sydney Morning Herald from Sydney, New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia · Page 15

Sydney, New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia
Issue Date:
Saturday, June 17, 1967
Page 15
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WEEKEND MAGAZINE AND BOOK REVIEWS I How Israel got 1 6. 1 i .? fi J .3 1 1 i i ! I P her atomic power i . From SAM WHITE in Paris THE CLOSE, almost integrated, military collaboration between France and Israel has long been a feature of the Middle East scene. What is not generally known is that ever since the Suez operation the Israelis have had in their possession a French atomic reactor. The existence of this reactor has long been a matter of speculation and mystery. The facts still denied by both parties are, however, clear. They are that when the Suez affair turned into fiasco the then French Prime Minister, Mr Mol-let, aciing in the greatest secrecy, made the Israelis a gift of an atomic reactor. This act was never a Cabinet decision and only two other Ministers knew of it. The existence of this reactor was first discovered by C.I.A. agents in Israel. At first they were inclined to believe that with the scientific talent available to them the Israelis had constructed it. Later, however, suspicion switched to Paris. There the Americans were confronted with strenuous denials. The C.I.A., however, continued its investigations and it was only late in 1961 after four years of careful detective work that it was able to fix the responsibility on Mr Mollet. How it did it, remains its own closely guarded secret. The consequences, however, were considerable. Washington was enraged and made no bones of telling General ,de Gaulle, who had since come to power, that this case provided a final reason why the sharing of atomic secrets between the U.S. and Britain could not be extended to France. Meanwhile, de Oaulle, while setaimnt all French military Lunch came in ALEQ H. CHISHOLM REPORTS STRANGE ADVENTURES OF AN "DO YOU meditate becoming a professional unveiler that is, of non-living objects?" "Tut-tut!" I said, when faced recently with this skittish question. Unveilings are usually the prerogative of politicians and Mayors, and it's only by chance, through possessing a trifle of special knowledge of particular subjects, that some of us lesser lights occasionally get involved in enterprises of the kind." In fact, (hough, reflection indicates that I have encroached quite noticeably into the domain of "official" unveilers, for my core in this regard, distributed over three States, now totals five. Should some excuse for such "intrusions" be tendered? If so, it arises from the circumstances that all of my subjects are, or were, men of the free spaces, and therefore rather beyond the scope of the average politician. By the same token, each of the memorials represents a phase of certain significance in Australian history or natural history more so than do most of your unregarded statues in the crowded ways of cities and thus it has been pleasing to assist in acclaiming the men concerned. Too long and too often, in Australia and perhaps elsewhere, the names of distinctive pioneers have been allowed to remain, from the public viewpoint, merely "writ in sand." Further reflection suggests, in casual fashion, that a spice of novelty enters the present discussion of unveilings, by an unveiler, for (perhaps not regret-ably) our records of such events are deficient in accounts from "the inside." The first of my experiences In kind centred upon a cairn commemorating a bush naturalist, George Gossip, of Ararat, Victoria. Essentially an easygoing fellow, with no more personal ambition than (say) any of the old-timers figuring in Gray's churchyard elegy, that countryman was, nevertheless, a keen and successful worker for the creating and safeguarding of wildlife reservations; and, although he probably would have been astonished by the thought of being honoured in perpetuity; the people of his area were abundantly justified in awarding him a memorial in one of his own sanctuaries. Good old George! His idea of paradise, he once confided, was an area largely devoted to Australian flowering plants, with some of them growing, as he often grew them, in old wheelbarrows filled with soil. I hope his wish has been fulfilled. My next unveilings were centenary observances, both of them in N.S.W. and both undertaken on behalf of local people and the Royal Australian Historical Society. The one commemorated those festive adventurers of the early 1860s, the diggers of Lambing Flat (now the thriving town of Young), and the other, sited in the far-western village of Menindee, related to Australia's most tragic figures of the same period, Burke and Wills. Curiously, Lambing Flat and Menindee ranked among the very tew place-names la country commitments to Israel, attempted to efface effects of both the Suez and Algerian wars which had reduced French prestige in the Middle East to zero. This he did largely by a careful cultivation of Nasser. Incidentally, while the Middle East crisis was blowing up. General de Gaulle was feeding the pigeons in St. Mark's Square in Venice. He had dragged along with him there an unwilling and irate Foreign Minister, Mr Couve de Murville, for a day and a half of sightseeing. This action of taking Couve along with him was characteristic of de Gaulle's view that in critical times diplomacy is too serious a matter to be left to diplomats. It also Indicated to students of Gaullist form that some shock was being prepared. Sure enough it came in the course of a Cabinet meeting. France's ties with Israel, he announced, were less important than France's long-term interests in the Middle East These required an emphatic display of neutrality so as not to endanger the carefully nurtured revival of French interests and influence in the Arab world. He was faced with considerable and even vehement opposition inside the Cabinet where among other things it was pointed out that the statement he intended to make could have disastrous electoral consequences for the Government. De Gaulle remained utterly adamant. A large-scale mutiny developed in the Gaullist ranks. There were even signs of mutiny in the armed forces. For example I can reveal that 200 French air force pilots, headed by an air force general, plotted to fly their aircraft to Israel on the outbreak of hostilities. The plot was foiled only by the direct Intervention of the Minister for the Armed Forces, Mr Messmer. N.S.W. that were at all familiar to me as a schoolboy on a mining field in Victoria. We youngsters of the day were taught very little about our own land though given liberal doses of data concerning England's kings and her battles long ago but old fossickers of our area often mentioned such famous fields as Lambing Flat and the Turon, and I had picked up a reference to Menindee in a book that summarised the Burke and Wills story. What a bewildered boy I would have been, then, if some long-sighted soothsayer maybe one of those itinerants of the period who practised the gentle art of "bump-reading" on heads . had revealed that the whirligig of time would take me to both Lambing Flat and Menindee, there to unveil memorials commemorating the most distinctive events in the history of each centre! Anyway, both experiences were pleasant. In each instance the local people did their part very well, and the Menindee memorial in paritcular became revealed as a distinct asset, consisting as it did of sturdy inscribed pillars at the entrance to a new park. Also, the general celebration, culminating in the crowning of a district queen, raised a substantial amount for charitable objects. It seems reasonable to suppose, too, that memorials of the kind have intangible value. Certainly thev promote appreciation of history, and it is likely that they also stimulate that worthy social quality, local loyalty. More recently, my unveiling adventures have centred upon the south-east and north-east of Queensland, the one on a mountain-top and the other on a tropic island. At the invitation of the Queensland Naturalists' Club, I' went a few months ago to the National Park of the McPherson Range, where, on the near-5,000-ft crest of Mt Bithongabel, an inscribed cairn had been erected by the club, in association with the Forestry Department, to commemorate the first company visit of naturalists to that highly spectacular region almost 50 years ago. It was one thing to drive, on a fine Friday, the 20 or so miles-from the lowlands up the winding road to Green Mountains, the O'Reilly guesthouse, but quite a different proposition to contemplate the four-mile walk to Bithongabel next day; for, ominously, much rain fell in the hw--'," vT (A4 . 4' 81 ON SOME UNVEILER evening and the portents were that the jungle tracks would be squelchy and battalions of leeches would be active. In that emergency I invited intercession from a representative of the clergy who chanced to be present, and he although at first protesting that he was "on holiday" agreed to do his best in the matter. Whatever the influence, Saturday dawned beautifully clear, and thus the large batch of visitors (well over 100) had no trouble in coping with the lengthy but well-graded trails to the border mountain. Even the O'Reilly lads got by satisfactorily, though not without considerable effort, in their task of pushing and pulling wheelbarrows laden with food and heavy jars of water over the four miles of soft tracks. For my own part, the obligation of speaking on that jungle-clad height proved to be far from easy. Possibly the thought of absent friends (members of the original party) was a handicap. But two other and more novel factors were involved. First, I was distracted by the wild beauty of the spot, with the ancient Antarctic beech-trees, festooned with moss and orchids, as the most striking plant - feature; and, secondly, vocal competition was offered by feathered inhabitants of the region. No birdman who knows his business is given to talking while forest voices are being exercised, and in this case it seemed almost sacrilege to chatter while a whip-bird was "cracking" and the imperious calls of the highly-talen'ed rufous scrub-bird were also demanding attention. In point of fact, one of tlie little scrub-birds cleaned me up later in the day. It transpired that a woman visitor took a tape-record of remarks made at the caim, but during the walk back to the guesthouse she heard a scrub-bird in fine voice, rendering a medley of mimicry, and, because her tape was almost exhausted, she recorded that performance over the top of part of my prattle. The result, heard that night, was a queer mixture; but I assured the recorder that it was something of an honour to be superseded, even in the middle of a sentence, by such a gifted vocalist as Atrichornis, the rufous scrub-bird. In general, then, that return visit to Bithongabel was an uplifting experience. Moreover, as is always the case on such occasions, it was interesting to see for the first time, on removing t :. i Elie's summit ice-cap seen from the top of a wheelbarrow v iff s i ! & -C.t i u it ,, f Jf W ? T'-'V,.'1 ,'1181114 .!. ' , I It Unveiling the Banfield portrait: Mr Alec Chisholm (left) with Mrs Harold Holt, Sir Raphael Cilento and Professor C. Roderick. the flag, the cairn and its inscription; and the interest was not marred by the discovery that, through a slight error, the flag used was a New Zealand product! Nor was any special distress caused by the afternoon tramp back from Bithongabel, though, in truth, during the final stages ' of that return journey I felt, more than once, a new element of sympathy for Burke and Wills. Rather oddly, although my next and most recent memorial commitment also concerned a student of wildlife, the ceremony took place indoors. Its subject was E. J. Banfield, the famous "Beachcomber" of Dunk Island, and in this case the object was a portrait. Promotion of the event came from Mr Eric Mcllree, chairman of Avis Rent-A-Gar Pty., which company now owns the freehold portion of the isle. Desiring the co-operation of someone who had known Ted Banfield, he flew me over the 1,600 miles from Sydney in one of the firm's aircraft, with stops- at Brisbane (where we collected Sir Raphael Cilento, president of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland), Brampton Island and Townsville. This was my first visit to Dunk since, more than 40 years ago. I stayed there with Banfield and his wife. Bertha, at which time that happy couple had the whole area to themselves. Ownership had passed through several hands in the meantime, and, naturally, I had qualms regarding possible changes in the landscape as well. Sure enough, there have been changes, radical changes. But 1 1- 4 -4c- v" t a minor peak. ntti, how relieving it was to discover that "the Delectable Isle" had not been seriously affected by the creating of an airstrip, nor indeed by the erecting of a hotel and cabins among the trees near Brammo Bay. In brief. Dunk Island ks still essentially as it was in the days when Banfield wrote his "Confessions of a Beachcomber" and other books, including "Last Leaves from Dunk Island," the Australian-published volume which 1 put together, from fragmentary articles and notes, soon after its author died in 1923. Palms and umbrella-trees remain abundant beside the bay, and the lush vegetation of the interior, notably that of the island's lofty ridge that is part of a national park, remains undisturbed. Birds, too, are still at ease. I missed the spectacular company flights of the Torres Strait pigeons and the brilliant shining starlings, both species having made their usual autumnal pilgrimage to New Guinea, but many of the stay-put kinds were to be seen or heard. The lovely little yellow-and-bltie sunbirds still visit the scarlet hibiscus blossoms; the varied honeyeaters chortle heartily among the umbrella-tree flowers; the mound - building scrub-hens clatter in the jungle; the curious "tok-tok" of the axe-bird (large-tailed nightjar) may be heard at dawn and dusk; and, among other feathered vocalists, a honeyeater known to me as "Jacky" a name bestowed by Mrs Banfield on a bird of the kind that daily visited her kitchen continues to be assertive. AT 2 A.M. IN A HUT in the Southern Alps of New Zealand climbing is madness even to mountaineers. Porridge is at its worst. Metal freezes on to flesh. Morale and temperature both fall to zero. Outside a pre-dawn. breeze rattles fragments of frost over iron-hard snow. The leader signs the intentions book ... so "they" will know where to find us. . . somewhere on a traverse of Walter, or beyond on Elie. The party moves off, roped up in pairs, with ice-axes in gloved hands and spiked crampons strapped to boots. Far, far above, the peak cuts a monstrous black jag out of star-dust. The way lies across ice many hundreds of feet deep. Flimsy snow-bridges conceal gaping crevasses. A steep snow face, broken by awkward gashes, gives access to a ridgetop blade of ice. The morning Star rises, so bright as to cast a shadow. Discomfort dissolves in a sensation of wonderment. At dawn we stand atop Walter, a curved cornice of snow where the land east is light and the sea west still dark. North, across an appalling gap, rises the other peak, 10,200ft Elie de Beaumont. The descent into the gap proves a far more exacting task than it should be in normal conditions. Soft, steep, rotten snow clings tenuously to hard ice and glazed rocks. A careless move could destroy us in an avalanche of our own making. We know from experience that this When, on one occasion during this recent visit, a member of the "Jcky" tribe scolded me, I almost felt disposed to say: "You are addressing, my lad, a man who was on good terms with an ancestor of yours over 40 years ago." In the matter of changes, what impressed me most of all was the absence of the Banfield bungalow. That building, it appears, was demolished many years ago, for the forest that has taken its place is both thick and lofty. There was, indeed, some difficulty in determining the exact site, but, eventually, the point became resolved by measuring a certain distance from the cairn that surmounts the Banfield's grave. Now It is proposed to establish a museum on the site, one that will feature Banfieldiana and also1 contain material relating to North Queensland in general. And among the exhibits, no doubt, will be the portrait that was recently unveiled: a study based on a photograph and competently executed by Jock Louttit, an artist residing on the island. Mr Mclree, on his part, generously offered to donate sufficient land for the museum project, and, upon the initiative of Sir Raphael Cilento' and Mrs Zara Holt (who had crossed the channel from her tropical home on the mainland to attend the ceremony), it was agreed to establish an interstate trust to control the enterprise. Given a well-designed building such as the one opened recently in the Cook reservation at Kurnell with exhibits of general interest. Dunk Island's museum should add appropriately to the appeal of one of the most notable spots of its kind in Australia. The isle is not large little more than three square miles with a coastline of some 12 miles but its scenery, its tropical wildlife, and its association with historical figures, from Cook onward, combine to make it a national asset. At present, all four of the Banfield books are out of print and somewhat costly at secondhand. There is, however, a probability that two at least will soon be given a new lease of life, and in that event, we may be sure, public attention will be strongly attracted to the memorials at Dunk Island, 10,000 By BEN SANDILANDS slope will avalanche of its own accord as the temperature rises. It will roar down on to the accumulated ice of decades, which for ages untold ha flowed like plastic- into the great Tas-man Glacier. We hasten slowly. Elie's last slope is an exhausting plod. The air temperature reaches close to 90, fierce ultra-violet reflections burn the insides of nostrils and the roofs of mouths. We stand on the summit dome. A white line marks the west coast beaches. Near and far, around and above and below, are the sliver giants of the alps and their jagged echelons. Cook, Tasman, Douglas, the Anzacs, the Minarets, Malte Brun, all resplendent under an indifferent sky, are beautiful for us alone. Return is to be made by descending the short, steep, Anna Glacier for 2,800 feet onto the broad neve of the upper Tasman. Debris starts to drop off Walter and we realise there is no time to waste. Before us as we start a proud tower of ice crumples into a tumbling mass of blocks. A quick, skilful descent from an alpine peak always seems like Russian roulette at long odds. I pass the place where a friend was killed. I hear the whizz of hunks of ice from above we are almost running, something hard to do safely. Risks are accepted for life is meant to be lived, and for a moment we have won entry to earth's finest realm. At noon we lunch outside the hut, amid the thunder of massive icefalls. Shopkeeper, 45, bach., wishes to meet widow By MICHAEL SYMONS THE MATING DRIVE may be strong, but Sydney is a lonely place. Every year thousands resort to lonely hearts clubs for introductions to "sincere friends." Of course, neither you nor I have ever thought of going to a lonely hearts club. Neither of us has even heard of anyone who got married through one. Nevertheless, thousands of Sydney's married couples met through a filing system. The clubs themselves dislike the term "lonely hearts," and call themselves introduction services. In the telephone directory they are listed as matrimonial agencies. However, in Sydney none of the half-dozen clubs is licensed to arrange marriages; their business is introductions. J, One of Sydney's biggest clubs is the Social Contact Centre, which is owned, managed and operated (68 hours a week) by a young German migrant, Mrs H. Miro. The centre was established in Sydney a year ago. Clients remain on the Social Contact Centre books for six months during which time any number of introductions from one to about 15 can be arranged. For gentlemen the fee is $12, for ladies $6. Girls under about 26 and unmarried mothers are placed on the books free. Most introductions take place m the office, where Mrs Miro breaks the ice. The ages of the clients range from 18 to 60. As with all the clubs, young girls are the most scarce and women over 45 are too plentiful. Many clients are widows, widowers or divorcees they are often firmly attached to children and houses. Other clients' social contacts have been restricted by the need to take a second job. Some of the men are farmers, some are storemen, fitters, taxi-drivers, shopkeepers, hairdressers and service-station proprietors. Mrs Miro has on her file schoolteachers, civil engineers and a doctor. Mrs Miro won't take on Asian men, men with pronounced speech impediments, or Polish, Yugoslav, Lebanese, Italian and Greek migrants, because they prove too great a match-making problem for her. On the other hand, she never rejects any young women. Asian girls, unmarried mothers and those with disfigurements are eagerly sought by the men. who are often merely looking for a good housekeeper. 'There are people in Sydney who are very, very lonely," says Mrs Miro, "Some must be desperate to come here, because they are very embarrassed to approach the club. They think they are admitting defeat. For months they watch our ads and when they have climbed the stairs they shake in the chair. Fortunately, after a few intro feet ductions they get quite used to it." Married couples who have met through the Social Contact Centre admit it to nobody. This rules out word-of-mouth advertising and any improvement in the lonely hearts image. And because Mrs Miro never hears of the marriages, she cannot provide statistics of her success. All lonely hearts clubs seem to be up long flights of stairs Mrs Miro is off the Haymarket end of George Street Another club, the City Introduction Service, is above Oxford Street. Harold and Lillian Selby opened the City Introduction Service in December, 1962, after operating for three years in Perth. Before that, Mrs Selby ran a similar service in England. In Sydney, they have 800 on their books, including a minister of religion (he's a widower keen on cricket, football and other outdoor pursuits). City Introductions Is slightly cheaper than Social Contact, but no attempt is made to arrange the introductions in the office. Instead, the man is usually provided with the name and address or phone number of the woman. Clients ring when they want another Introduction. Most newspapers refuse to accept lonely hearts advertisements probably because the clubs have in the past been used as fronts for call-girl activities. "Over the five years we've been operating," says Mr Selby, "only four or five prostitutes have been found on our books. If a man makes improper advances, we automatically take him off the books." Mrs Miro is just as pleased with the conduct of her men thoso seeking prostitutes come straight to the point and declare themselves at the initial interview. Indeed, those after "sincere friendship" approach Mrs Miro because they don't succeed in any sort of pick-up. Mr Selby believes lonely hearts clubs are unpopular because they have a stigma and are considered infra dig. "Convention decrees that the lady waits and waits and waits," he says. "And convention also decrees that the man should fend for himself." Due to rather unfortunate match-making. City Introductions shares stairs with Promotions Inc Pty. Ltd. (director: Patrick Ord, M.A.). As well as sales promotions, Mr Ord directs "Snap," the computer matchmaking project He is not very happy about discussing unfashionable lonely hearts clubs and his business in the same breath those paying $2 for five Snap introductions are "in it for kicks, just because it's new." Nevertheless, both techniques have the same result Mr Ord gives two main reasons for starting Snap. One is that the information collected it useful in market research. The other is that Mr Ord believe computer match-making will be commonplace in the future.

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