Diving into the Past


During the 1950s my mother would often take my brother and me to the Sydney Royal Easter Show for the day. She had been raised in the country and I imagine the many rural exhibits rekindled many happy, childhood memories for her.

Show bags in those days were known as ‘sample bags’ and they were much more affordable than the ones bought today. They were called sample bags because they contained samples of products, plus a few extras such as a comic, small toy or game.

One year I discovered a packet containing a miniature, submarine in my Sanitarium sample bag. This five centimetre, grey plastic sub was hidden under samples of ‘weet bix’, ‘weet puffs’ and ‘marmite’. Powered by baking powder (Sanitarium of course), it repeatedly dived and surfaced when placed in water, to the constant delight of a young yours truly. Incidentally, we were soon to have a submarine base backing onto our street where previously torpedoes had been maintained during the war years.

Down at the shops earlier this week, to my surprise, there on the sale table was an updated version of my little submarine, this time two subs included in each package. Same length, different design and cool colours, I bought them without hesitation.

And after all this time, they were still powered by baking powder.     The little boy was still there in me!


Smoky Dawson Remembered


It was with great sadness that I heard that Smoky Dawson had died. I am one of the many Australians whose lives were touched by this remarkable man.

Smoky first rode into my life on the radio airwaves, astride his palomino, the wonder horse Flash. As a child in the 1950s, there was no better way to spend a Thursday evening than glued to the radio listening to another adventure of “Hup, Flash, hup, hup, hup… Smoky Dawson”.

I met Smoky later in life and found him to be a humble, gentle man with a passion for life and a readiness for a chat. He leaves behind a valuable legacy in the songs he wrote, many about Australia, its people and history. I believe that we are all richer for the lives led by people such as Smoky.

Back in 1988 I wrote a song about Smoky, The Man with the Smile and Song .

I have also included a link to an article I wrote in 2004.