A Couple Of Interesting Tales From The Land Down Under

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OK, so we all know Australia is a pretty big island Nation and a former commonwealth member of the British Empire, (though don't harp on about that too much if you go there). In fact it's fairly easy to get along with people in 'Oz'; Some quick tips; just call everyone mate, smile and say G'day to any passers by, drink Fosters from a Schooner and you can't go far wrong in a country so world renowned for having possibly the most laid back race of people on earth. So laid back in fact, that they are and shall probably always remain, the only modern nation in history to have lost a Prime Minister; ahem, yes that's right, you read that correctly, they "lost" a bloody Prime Minister; as easily as you or I might lose a set of car keys, you don't believe me?  

Well, one day in December 1967, Harold E Holt, who was at the time the 17th Prime Minister of Australia, apparently decided to take a relaxing stroll along the picturesque Cheviot Beach in Victoria. He was never ever seen again, he just vanished without a trace. The mystery has never been solved but he is presumed to have gone for a dip and drowned; though there is also the reasonable chance that he may have become lunch for a Great White Shark. By the way if you are still not really quite grasping the concept of just how big Australia is stay tuned . . .

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In May 1993 deep in the Australian outback a seismic activity recording device at the Banjawarn Station, 500 hundreds miles from Perth detected a massive seismic activity. The event actually sent shock-waves through hundreds of miles of empty open desert but no one experienced any ground tremors. There were reports by a handful of long distance truck drivers and remote based gold prospectors who claimed to have seen a fireball in the sky that night. It was just decided that it must have been an earthquake, it was 170 times more powerful than the biggest mining explosion in Australia's history, an earthquake seemed the most feasible rationale. I can't help but always think of the old line, “if a tree falls down in a forest and there is no one around to hear it, does it make a noise?”. In any case, that was that, 'just an earthquake no big deal', until one day a couple of years later in Japan, an incident happened which shone a certain ray of mystery on the whole 'earthquake narrative'.

In 1995 AUM a Japanese terrorist/political organisation murdered 12 people in the infamous Tokyo Subway Bombing. It was then decided by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) that some detective work ought to be done, as it turned out that AUM had actually purchased Banjawarn Station a couple of years earlier. Now to call this place a station is slightly misleading. The station covers just under 1 million acres, a small country might be a more accurate description. As a result of the investigation there are many who believe it is entirely possible that the AUM (who were known to be interested in the developing nuclear weapons) might have tested out a prototype nuclear weapon right in Australia's back yard so to speak, and nobody was any the wiser. Can you even imagine how big a place must be that you can carry out a simulated nuclear attack, the power of which outranks the next highest explosion by 170 times in magnitude, the ground shaking for hundreds and hundreds of miles in all directions; Yet nobody, not a single person has any idea till years later. 

I must confess that my mind was actually awakened to these stories not by an Australian source, but ironically by a brilliant American Author called Bill Bryson. He has authored many books including; A Short History of Nearly Everything, Notes From a Small Island (an account of his experiences and perceptions of the UK), A Walk In The Woods (focused on his journey along the Appalachian Trail in the US) and his Australian based work entitled Down Under. He is a fantastic author who also writes with great humour and insight, I'd recommend his work to anyone.

*Written by Michael David

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