Monday, May 21, 2007

Road of life leads to Moreton Bay island

This story has appeared in The Redland Times, Cleveland, Redland Shire, Queensland, Australia. Image from

A MARVELLOUS sense of freedom comes to mind when Redlands "lifer" Neville Rogers discusses his 16 months plying the east coast in Australia’s growing class of grey nomads.
"You are living your dream," Neville says.
"We looked forward to the experience for 10 years.
"I think the freedom was the real highlight."
Four years ago Neville and wife Dawn "sold up everything" and headed off in their 100 Series Landcruiser, with tinny on top and 22ft (6.7m) Jayco Heritage caravan in tow.
They travelled the Queensland coast and ventured south to Evans Head.
IF all had gone to plan the couple, who ran Rogers Menswear in Wynnum from 1977 to 97, would be now in a convoy of three caravans, sharing the freedom with good mates.
The couple upgraded last year to a 20ft (6.1m) Paramount Delta II. However, they reevaluated their plans after the mates met changes in their lives and withdrew from the trip.
Neville and Dawn then decided to consolidate their investments in property without wheels.
A dot on the Moreton Bay map drew their interest. The couple bought a block on Lamb Island and is preparing for the delivery of a removal home.
To help finance the project, the Rogers sold their boat, outboard motor, trailer, roof racks and the Paramount, which had travelled only 50km. All these sales came from advertising in the Times and Bayside Bulletin over the past fortnight.
THE result has delighted Neville, who is very familiar with the power of your local Rural Press newspapers.
He and Dawn lived at Thornside for 20 years before a stint at Alexandra Hills from 2000 to 03.
They are now back at Victoria Point but also house sitting.
Neville grew up in a family with eight kids at Birkdale.
Despite the profound changes to the scenery since the 40s and 50s, Neville says his main memory is of the TV-free culture, when the whole family would tune in for the long-running radio serial Blue Hills.
"Seven of us are left now and we try to get together each Boxing Day," he says.
"I have told them they’ll be with us on Lamb Island this year."
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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Kevin Rudd draws blank on taxi drivers

This story has appeared in The Redland Times, Cleveland, Redland Shire, Queensland, Australia. Image from Australian Federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd's House of Representatives page.

THE Redlands and indeed much of the nation is pondering two major questions just now.
Does Kevin Rudd have the ticker to keep up the momentum and push John Howard out of office? And, perhaps with equal importance: When will the rain come to fill the dams?
At one time, the political journos always had a means to stay in touch with opinions of the masses.
They would simply yarn with their cab driver as they filled in a publisher’s voucher on the way from bar to bed, and a day or so later the inspiration would appear in print, sometimes even with the driver giving thumbs up or down from a big photo.

THE tradition, however, has been dwindling. Sadly for some, taxi drivers are saying "no comment" or "I will neither confirm nor deny" when asked a curly one on politics.
But the neutral responses do not reflect "political correctness" as much as the training that cab drivers receive nowadays.
Politics, religion and a few other sensitive subjects are off the agenda for drivers with the Capalaba taxi management firm Belker.
Belker, with a depot on Redland Bay Road, Capalaba, runs about 20 Yellow cabs, employing about 50 drivers.
The firm’s trainers at least leave the weather off the "don’t go there" list when they run their courses every few weeks.
Recruiting through our Classifieds, Belker has spots in its two-shift roster. Drivers can work from 3-4am to 3-4pm or vice versa.
The operation works on two divisions, one for "city" cabs and the other bayside.

OFFICE manager Robyn Fowler, who joined the firm in November, loves the "hustle and bustle" of such a service industry after commuting from her Birkdale home to a health products company at Nudgee.
And now she can even get a cab home.
Robyn actually has her own taxi licence to let her stay in touch with the firm’s on-road presence, and regrets she did not experience the industry sooner.
The emphasis on professionalism over the years has attracted more women cab drivers, she says. The Belker roster now lists seven women drivers, one of whom does a night shift. Such a 14 percent component would compare with a minute figure a decade or so ago.
Robyn says one of the benefits of cab driving is choosing a shift and the amount of work that suits personal needs, with a lot of semi-retired people topping up their weekly budget with a shift or two.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Ancient mainframe found 'under pavers'

This column has appeared in The Redland Times, Cleveland, Redland Shire, Queensland, Australia. Image of Burroughs mainframe computer disc farm from Ernie’s Delta Pictures.

THE project has been about a decade in the making but at last the Hindley family can sit back and enjoy a newly renovated patio.
The breakthrough featured in the Times’ Classifieds last week, with the Hindleys offering 20sq m of pavers, ready for loading – and free. Secondhand pavers are always a hot commodity in the For Sale column even with a price tag, so Andy Hindley’s phone rang hot with about 15 callers.
As the first caller loaded his trailer on Friday morning, another in the grip of paver fever dropped in on the off chance the rival did not front.
The householders were pleased to see the trailer’s symbolic departure down the driveway, marking the long-awaited end of an era at the Thornlands home.

UNDER this pile of pavers is yet another Redlands’ business success story. Work pressures meant Andy and his wife Val kept putting off the patio concreting.
In the early 1980s, Andy was working with Smith’s Crisps in London as an operator on a Burroughs mainframe computer – "it was as big as a house and needed three people to run it" – before he and Val took a world trip, visiting Andy’s sister down under and touring the east coast for six months.
"When we got back to London it was cold and raining so we applied to emigrate to Australia," Andy says.
"The application took nine months but we arrived here in early 1982."
In 1983, the couple settled at Alexandra Hills, and soon welcomed their first daughter, Zara, now 21. They later lived at Alexandra Hills and had another daughter, Emma, now 17, before the family moved to Thornlands.

ANDY and Val had already started a home-based business, making leather belts for markets but they then set up Bayside Belts, to supply leather belts for school uniforms.
Andy obtained the first order for 36 belts from Nudgee College.
Today, Bayside Belts supplies about 100 schools in four States, selling its products direct to the schools and through uniform retailers.
That’s why the patio project had to wait.
"When you run a small business from home, it can be hard to get spare time," Andy says.
"There is a lot happening in business at homes nowadays and it’s not something you can see.
"A lot of the activity is hidden away."

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