Born Again Blakfella- Jack Charles

I have been listening to the interesting biographical audible copy of Jack Charles. This book is narrated by Jack Charles as well. He has such a pleasant, deep reading voice and I enjoyed hearing his story. I didn’t know a lot about him until I saw the tv program of Anh Doh interviewing him and painting his portrait. The interview was interesting so when I saw Audible had the book I downloaded it.

Jack was born indigenous to a mother who had 11 children. All 11 of her children were ‘stolen’ from her when the Australian government thought they would do better being assimilated into the white world. He found his mother again in his later life but he was the only child she had that she ever saw again. He was an infant when taken so had no memory of her.

He grew up in an institution where he was sexually abused and beaten for years. When he did become a part of a foster family later in his childhood he was kicked out of their home when he announced he was gay.

The next few decades saw him arrested for drug and alcohol abuse and getting caught stealing from the rich home in eastern Melbourne. He was arrested and jailed 22 times in his life.

He had some good fortune between jail time as he was interested in acting and participated in some stage shows and later a film documentary of his life.

He went on to make several films during his later years.

Throughout the book it is obvious that although he went through a great deal of trauma in his life he remained a gentle person. He didn’t fight others or speak of his life with much anger. He was interested in learning and read when he could. He laughed at his experiences as a cat burglar, getting caught one night by someone who had seen him in a play and instead of calling the police in the middle of the night, made him a cup of tea. He agreed to not come back to that house again. He also made friends with some of the animals in the homes he robbed. There are many parts of his story where the reader can share a laugh with him and also feel the pain of never having had a family of his own. It is a very tragic tale but he continued on, moving from one adventure to another. I don’t know how he didn’t become twisted and bitter.

He travelled the world with the filmed documentary and began speaking to large groups. He is not in his late 70s and continuing his good humour.

The stories of the stolen generation of indigenous Australians are hard to read about. It was a policy that was doomed to failure from the very beginning and didn’t end until the 1960s. Man’s inhumanity to man. I enjoyed hearing his tale and found him to be an inspiring man despite his criminal past. He continues working with various media when he can. The audible book is a good experience as it is read by him and the reader becomes involved in his sorrow and his laughter. He is an example of someone who really has tried to make the best of things and I think those of us who have had easier lives can learn a lot from his attitude and stories.

Another Weekend Read

I downloaded an audible book this week and went through it fairly quickly as it isn’t overly long but what a sobering story it is.

Life can be beautiful if you make it beautiful. It is up to you. 

From Booktopia:

“Eddie Jaku always considered himself a German first, a Jew second. He was proud of his country. But all of that changed in November 1938, when he was beaten, arrested and taken to a concentration camp. 

Over the next seven years, Eddie faced unimaginable horrors every day, first in Buchenwald, then in Auschwitz, then on a Nazi death march. He lost family, friends, his country. 

Because he survived, Eddie made the vow to smile every day. He pays tribute to those who were lost by telling his story, sharing his wisdom and living his best possible life. He now believes he is the ‘happiest man on earth’. 

Published as Eddie turns 100, this is a powerful, heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful memoir of how happiness can be found even in the darkest of times.

About the Author

Eddie Jaku OAM, was born Abraham Jakubowicz in Germany in 1920. In World War 2, Eddie was imprisoned in Buchenwald and Auschwitz concentration camps. In 1945, he was sent on a ‘death march’ but escaped. Finally, he was rescued by Allied soldiers. In 1950 he moved with family to Australia where he has lived since. Eddie has volunteered at the Sydney Jewish Museum since its inception in 1992. Edie has been married to Flore for 74 years. They have two sons, grandchildren and great grandchildren. In 2020 Eddie celebrates his 100th birthday.”


This was a story I had to grit my teeth before I started it. I really hate reading about the holocaust but I know how important it is for people to learn as much as they can about. it. Also it is this man’s life goal to tell people his story. He was captured in 1938 and endured the most incredibly, mind bending horrors I have ever read. Yet he survived. Not only has he survived but he is now turning 100 years old and he continually tells people his story.

With what is currently happening in this world the time could never be better than it is now. It will always be a relevant tale I am sure.

I won’t describe it anymore than I have because I can’t do his story justice. I will say it is a story filled with hope. It is important. The author is a truly remarkable man and what can be learned from this book is that attitude is incredibly important. It puts everything people are going through now into perspective. This will most likely be my most important reads of the year. I hope others bite the bullet and read it

Having visited Auschwitz I had those images in my mind. It was such an important place to visit and reflect upon and shouldn’t be considered simply a tourist destination.

Enough said.

An August Winter Day in Tasmania

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Mt. Wellington sits behind Hobart. A winter’s day. (Stock Photo)

We have had a pretty good winter this year. A few days of quite cold weather and even some snow but not enough to stay on the ground where we live. The mountainous areas have been beautiful though.

Ollie Mackers
Ollie’s first trip through McDonalds takeaway for ice cream. I eat the ice cream. He licks the container with one spoonful left. He was most interested in the person who took our payment.

I’ve been spending time with Ollie. He is coming up on his first birthday in a week’s time which is very hard to believe.  He’s such a joy to live with


I’ve had lots of time to reorganise my book journal. It’s now electronic on a table that is easily accessible and I have deleted my Good Reads account. I grew tired of it. I also gave the blog page a bit of a clean up and put in some new colours and changed the masthead with one of my photos of a local beach.

Books read since I was here last are as follows:

I finished the audio book from the library of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.  I was enjoying it at night before going to sleep. I really enjoyed this story and the characters will stay with me for quite awhile.

2020-08-11 16.11.14Oliver was lovely with his love of his “finally ever after family” and his love of books. What a
terrible start to life he had. Sikes was so horrible.  Dickens was so wonderful at describing life in London during the 1800s and the poverty permeated all he touched in this tale. Evil was evil and good was good. (Narrator Wanda McCaddon was excellent with all of the voices.)

I also finished off the Diary of Samuel Pepys as I probably mentioned before. His description of life in London in the 1660s was remarkable and living through the plague and the great London fire was described as though one had travelled into the pages of the book. I really enjoyed it. (Read by Leighton Pugh with David Timson; both excellent).

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Love this cover.

More currently I really enjoyed the audio version of Australian Julia Baird’s book of essays entitled Phosphorescence. Julia Baird narrates it and it is as if one is sitting down in a room with a coffee or cup of tea with her.

Isn’t the cover stunning as well. She wrote of nature, mindfulness, storm chasing photographers, her family and her battle with cancer. It is an extremely uplifting read written with honesty. I gave copies to friends and they enjoyed it as well.

Another current book I listened to, this one written by Sayaka Murata, was Convenience Store Woman. Narrated by Nancy Wu who pronounced all the Japanese vocabulary for me and translated by Editor/Translator Ginny Tapley Takemori.   A story of a young Japanese woman working in a convenience store in Tokyo who enjoys her work enormously. She enjoys the structured work place 2020-08-11 16.14.01and although she is not fitting societal norms of what a woman is supposed to be like in Japan she manages to come to terms with it, finding her own place in the world and continuing onwards.  It is an unusual story and one learns about more of the expectation upon women in Japan. She defies the traditional norms and succeeds wonderfully in getting to accept who she is and what she wants out of life, as simple as it is. I really enjoyed it.

Another surprising read I enjoyed on my Kindle (but wasn’t sure if I would) is Too Much and Never Enough by Donald Trump’s sister, Mary Trump.  I thought this tale might be one of sour grapes, maybe quite vindictive or poorly written.. It wasn’t. Mary Trump has a PhD in Clinical Psychology and works as a mental health consultant with adults in her full time job.  She didn’t so much as diagnose her family members as describe their behaviours over the years. (I bought the Kindle version as I didn’t want to spend money on the new hardcover version as I wasn’t sure I’d like it.😁)

2020-08-11 16.29.20Her description of the family and especially the patriarch Fred Trump, (Donald’s father) and the siblings of Donald are as objective as one in that position can possibly be. After reading how Fred treated all of his children it is no wonder Donald is as he is.  It certainly helps one to understand him but it doesn’t make me like him any better. He is a very damaged man and that is apparent to most people in this world. I am glad I read it and I liked the author very much.

Another book from my shelves I really enjoyed was Ten Years a Nomad by Mathew Kepnes. Raised in Boston, having finished university and not wanting to settle down with a 9 to 5 job he conquers the fear that many Americans have related to travel and goes to the Caribbean on a holiday and later to Asia.  He then decides he is going to travel and live in various parts of the world for the next eight years. This happens more as he continues to extend his travelling.  Many Americans, myself included are raised to believe America is the only country worth travelling in. My father continually had us believing we would be mugged, taken advantage of, probably killed if we travelled anywhere outside of the U.S. When actually the U.S is probably the most dangerous place to travel with all the weapons around.

This young man explains it wonderfully. Another thing we have noticed that Americans 2020-08-11 16.14.45do is that when one returns from an extensive trip nobody takes any interest in it. Questions aren’t really asked and instead family are more interested in what you had for dinner last night or have you seen such and such on Netflix.  Friends often say, “Did you have a good time?” and that is the end of the conversation. The author explains this is his experience also and he can’t get over how life just on as normal as if he was never away.

They either don’t know what questions to ask, are just happy you survived the experience that must have been traumatic at times and let’s move on.

I enjoyed this author’s comments on his entire experience and when he did decide to settle down he was well and truly ready.

I am currently reading another travel tale but will talk about that one when finished. I’m 60% through another tale, this time an older British man undertaking the pilgrimage from Canterbury to Rome.

I hope this catches everyone up. I will have some photography to put up before long as I’ve spent a good deal of time watching photography lessons on You Tube and undertaking a Master Class on line from Annie Leibovitz I really enjoyed.

I am undertaking a fitness program too but more on that later as bits of it are quite unusual. More to catch up on but this post is long enough so will go hunt up some photos of the above named books and finish off with the Penguin, who by the way has a new shirt. (South American art work on a t shirt is new). All the best to my online friends. I’ve enjoyed your posts in the last month though I don’t always comment. Too many to comment on, but you know who you are and I do read them.

As my friends and I always say to each other…..cheers dears!

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A bit of South American art work.





A Riveting Sea Tale

yacht bookThe weather in Tassie has been ridiculous. On Friday it was 41C (104F) and tomorrow there is a prediction for snow in this state. Today is very windy so I haven’t ventured out as there are so many gum trees around our house I hate walking in the wind.  Gum trees are known as “widow makers” due to branches falling from the trees more easily than from other trees or the entire tree comes down due to their shallow root system.  So I am not doing much dog walking this weekend with little Ollie.

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The boats leave Sydney Harbour

Instead I received this book about the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht race where a very freakish Hurricane like weather system arose in Bass Strait and six sailors were killed in the race.  As much as I don’t like being on boats or ships in the ocean due to a number of reasons I have always enjoyed tales of the open ocean.  I’ve read several ocean books about storms,  solo races around the world or books about people who live on yachts and travel the world.  I find it fascinating but my pleasure is only gained vicariously.

In Australia on every Boxing Day (26 December) there is a yacht race that begins in Sydney Harbour and races south to Hobart in Tasmania.  Crossing Bass Strait between Tasmania and the mainland can be extremely gruelling due to the weather patterns and currents that are liable to come from many different directions and meet there.  I have crossed Bass Strait only four times on the overnight car ferry between Devonport in Tasmania’s northwest and Melbourne. I’ve had three quite smooth crossings but one crossing was like sitting in a loaded washing machine on a spin cycle that I don’t like to think of.  I spent the entire night on the bathroom floor.

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ABC archive photo

In 1998 a weather system popped up in the strait that no-one was sure about. The meteorologists spotted it but seemed to underrate its severity until well into the race.  They also used terminology that many of the yacht skippers found confusing, didn’t understand or weren’t aware of until too late.

The book is called The Proving Ground and is written by G. Bruce Knecht. It focuses on four particular yachts. Two of the yachts belong to billionaires and are sleek maxi yachts. One is a more historical, hand made yacht made of Huon Pine from the 1940’s I believe it was that had been fitted out to meet modern standards. Another yacht was smaller than the maxi’s and more to what the boats used to be before the maxi’s entered the arena. There are various categories for the winners such as first to cross the line and those smaller yachts that work to a handicap depending on its make up.

Wind speeds during the race.

The novel begins with introduction and information of the people on board. Some of their sailing history, how they came to be on the boats and importantly quite a bit of information about their personalities.

From start to finish there are variables the reader gets to know about some of the structural weaknesses and strengths of the boats, the interpersonal relationships of team members on a boat that often caused problems and the weather system.

Once the boats head into Bass Strait and the storm, chapters then arise about the people who fly the planes and helicopters in the rescues needed.  Midway through the book there are a series of black and white photos with names of the yachts and people only. No spoilers are given in the photography captions of who survives and who doesn’t.

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from ABC Archive

The final section is about the inquest held in Hobart and the testimony from the surviving sailors, meteorologists and rescue personnel.

“Of the 115 boats that started the race, just forty-three made it to Hobart. Six sailors died in this 54th Sydney to Hobart race. Seven boats were abandoned and five boats sank. More than twenty sailors were washed off their yachts, and fifty-five had to be pulled from the water by helicopters and rescue ships. It was easy to imagine how many of those rescues could have gone tragically wrong. (page 266)”

I began reading this book yesterday. I thought I would read a chapter or two then go off to do something else but it grabbed me. I finished it in two sittings. The book is 295 pages long. The weather descriptions grab the reader. The height of the waves they encountered is breath taking. Some of the waves are equivalent to four story buildings and higher. The boats roll 360 degrees over as sailors get tangled in ropes and cables and come out the other side after being trapped or submerged under their boats. The sounds of the wind masks out all conversation. Sone of the sailors continued to survive despite horrific injuries and incredible seasickness. There were also some ethical dilemmas that came up, misinformation and communication breakdowns that caused problems and were addressed during the inquest.

This is not a story one can really enjoy. You wouldn’t say, I enjoyed this book because it is not fiction and everyone does not live happily ever after. But it is riveting tale of what ocean racing sailors went through and what is involved in ocean racing at times. These are very brave people, many who live on the edge, some who have more money than brains, some who are following age old traditions of the sea. A compelling read.

The Proving Ground by G. Bruce Knecht- first published in Great Britain in 2001 by Fourth Estate- A division of Harper Collins.  Copies available through (here).

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From Simon and Schuster web page.

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