A nature lesson – and how to paddle - in... From the President August.September

August.September 2013
A nature lesson – and how to paddle - in the Donau-Auen wetlands
From the President
Change of plan, Barbara Mertin, our guide, announced
as we gathered around a trailer stacked with life vests.
Instead of walking through the forest on a nature tour
for an hour and then spending two hours in the rubber
dinghies, we would spend the whole time on the water.
Barbara explained that the mosquitoes were very active
in the shade of the forest, but not in the open or on the
water. It was a good decision and the three hours passed
very quickly and mostly mosquito free.
Now close your eyes and identify these bird sounds
sunlight where the mossies were few. Our education
continued as Barbara told us to close our eyes and listen
while she used her array of instruments to imitate bird
and frog calls. We were asked to name them. The kids
came out on top....”it’s a tree frog.”
Thirty five of us managed to fit into the three large
dinghies, each with a guide and, after some hasty
instructions, we got the rhythm and off we went.
We paddled into the wetlands and stopped at a large
gravel bank which was surrounded by fallen trees
brought down in the recent floods, but still in the open
Page 1
We heard about the beavers which could be seen at
night and the kids managed to salvage sticks from the
water that had been stripped clean of all bark by the
We learned how the
threatened Little Ringed
Plover used the gravel
banks to breed, and were
sent searching for one
and its set of eggs which
had been placed on the
gravel by the guides.
The Australian Connection (OzCon) –August.September 2013
We’ve got rhythm
And there was time for a swim. Those who can vouch
that the water was very cold include Ambassador David
Stuart, his friend Rick Christie, of Sydney, and yours
truly. It was nice to have David and Ana and their
friends Rick and Vicki join us.
Our chief guide, Barbara, was indeed a live wire who
made our day just that much better. Keen as anyone can
be about her job and very knowledgeable about her
subject, she was full of information.
But there is another
thing about Barbara:
she loves Australia.
“In January this year
park ranger friends
Australia, the Top
End, Red Center and
just 1.5 days in
heading onwards to NZ. Australia is a wonderful
country, but sooo big that one lifetime isn't enough to
see it all,“ she wrote.
‘David is certainly the coolest ambassador I've ever met
and I have met a few’
An interesting and enjoyable day!: Glenn Barry
Barbara McCoy, mother of Danny and Benji, wrote:
“It was not easy to be at Schwedenplatz before 9 am
during school holidays but we made it! Even had time
for coffee-to-go and Kipferl before boarding our brand
new travel bus. A short drive to Orth an der Donau and
our ranger, Barbara, was waiting to meet us. In her
relaxed and friendly way she explained that the trip had
been re-planned from walking then rafting, to only
A few days later Barbara wrote to me: “Looking
forward to you and any of your friends/fellows in
Danube Floodplain NP again in the future because this
way I get the impression Australia comes to visit me
instead of me travelling several thousand kilometres to
Oz, plus fun is guaranteed with you guys.”
Barbara with Danny and Benji
Our thanks also go to the other two guides, Philipp and
Having spent just two minutes in the forest next to the
carpark, I could not have agreed with her more.
Was that fun, or what? It was certainly different from
anything we have done before and so I invited some of
our group to write their comments.
Mosquitoes. Large numbers of mosquitoes. But in the
open and on the water it was fine. So equipped with
hats, sunscreen and paddles we boarded our three
vessels. Nearly everyone in each boat was wearing a
hat; these can only be rafts full of Australians! Barbara
has the experience and personality to make a national
park visit a lot of fun. As we paddled she explained
everything tirelessly, from the background of the
“Danube carp” in the restaurant (which are actually
raised in a fishery and only spend a day or two
Jacquie Punzengruber wrote: “It was a great day:
water was cold, mud was smooth, "Alle meine Entchen"
was rendered into bird song and the guides were patient
and informative. We had just enough exercise to work
up an appetite and deserve the indulgence of delicious
food in a perfect setting.”
Page 2
The Australian Connection (OzCon) –August.September 2013
“waiting” in the Danube tanks next to the restaurant), to
beavers (of which there must be a lot in the Auen, but
they are active at night), to the many different bird types
and plant species which can be seen here.
the corresponding animals. On our way back we stopped
to see what we could find in a puddle near the river. We
found a tiny black frog the size of our thumb nail, a
green frog, some aquatic insects and a mud minnow.
And then, we headed back to the dinghies for a race
back (unofficial) for a great lunch. Thanks for a great
Yesterday was brilliant: John Fenton.
Benji and Oskar
A short stop on a gravel bank to get out and swim, dive
in the mud (quite popular among the younger visitors),
or listen to bird calls, before heading back to our final
destination, the Uferhaus. This well-known fish
restaurant has a lovely location in a very green setting
directly next to the Danube. People I spoke to were very
satisfied with the food, and with the exception of the bus
driver (a bit grouchy that the group was not back on the
bus at 15:00) everyone boarded the bus well-fed,
relaxed and happy after a lovely outing in perfect
weather conditions. Thanks OzCon for planning this
great day-trip.”
Ethan: come on in, the mud is fine
Leisa Burrell wrote:
The highlight of the trip for me was simply being out in
nature on such a perfect day. Vienna is a green city, but
being out where you can actually hear the sounds of
nature without the sound of cars in the background, was
a particular treat for me.
All you could hear was the sound of the paddles as they
hit the water (not always in time, but we tried our best)
and people laughing and chatting.
The rangers - a really friendly, knowledgeable and fun
lot - tested our trivia knowledge, primarily to the
ecology of the park, pointing out various beaver and
non-beaver related sites along the way.
This, folks, is a beaver tooth
Visiting Canadian boys Ethan, Andrew and Oliver
got together to put down their description of the day.
“This morning, we got into the dinghy and paddled
down the river. It was a very nice day. We got away
from the current of the Danube into one of the slower
branches. We were given a tour (info about certain
species and plants) of the area. We arrived at the gravel
beach, the destination, and we were happy to learn that
we could swim.
The water was cold (even for us Canadians) and we had
fun rolling in a SUPER deep mud pit like hippos and
then running into the cold water and rinsing off.
Afterwards, we went for a walk on the beach and we
listened to animal calls (or noises) and they told about
Page 3
What sticks in my mind were the “beaver slides”, like
mini slippery dips used by the beavers to access the
water, as well as the very visible signs of where they’d
been having a bit of a nibble on some trees that were
now stranded in the middle of the river; though that may
have been a combination of beaver intervention and the
recent floods.
The rangers had organised a number of activities to test
our knowledge of the animal life in the park, involving
a range of bird and frog calls that we had to guess.
Naturally it was the kids who put the oldies to shame by
guessing/knowing some of the trickier sounds
I think that a fun time was had by all, oldies and kids
alike. The kids seemed to have a great time rolling
around in the mud on the banks of the river, while the
adults (me, at least) looked on enviously, wanting to
join in on the fun, but deciding against it for a range of
The Australian Connection (OzCon) –August.September 2013
Fond farewell to OzCon people
who are moving on
David, Ana, Liz and Jacquie
reasons, one being the still chilly temperatures of
the water. But that didn’t stop the braver among us
from going for a swim.
It was a beautiful day for the canoe trip, perfected with a
delicious late lunch served outside next to the river.
Brian, Ewa and Matilda Iselin will depart Vienna at the
end of August after just under two years.
Brian writes: “Having been posted to Vienna from
Brussels for the Swedish Foreign Ministry, the family
now moves onto plenty of new challenges in sunny
(presently 39 degrees) Tehran.
Some of our fond memories from the time in Austria
include the lunch at Steiereck in Stadtpark (11th best
restaurant in the world this year), wine-tasting in the
Wachau, the beautiful Woerthersee in full sunshine,
Sunday brunches at Himmel in Grinzing, and the first
outing after Matilda's birth to the OzCon Friday Lunch.
Riverside Uferhaus fish restaurant
Coming OzCon Events
Lunch Out
There will not be a Lunch Out in August.
September to be advised
Bar Night
A return to the 1516 Brewing Company is planned
for Friday 23 August. A reservation has been made for
upstairs, although it is hoped we can sit outside if the
weather is fine and if space can be found.
The 1516 Brewing Company is about 50m past
Flanagans in Schwarzenbergstrasse.
Our sincerest thanks to Brett and his unswerving
dedication to OzCon, including getting out the regular
and always interesting newsletter.”
OzCon also says farewell to Lyndy and Greg Smart,
who are leaving early this month, and Malcolm
Boardman and Laurice Oates, who depart in September.
Because they had no reservations at a
busy restaurant, my elderly neighbor and
his wife were told there would be a
45-minute wait for a table. 'Young man,
we're both 90 years old, ' the husband
said. 'We may not have 45 minutes.' They
were seated immediately.
A venue and date for a bar night in September will be
advised later.
Page 4
The Australian Connection (OzCon) –August.September 2013
Way to go with Car2Go
By Brett Bayly
You see them everywhere. I counted four parked in our
street a couple of weeks ago. They are Car2Go Smart
cars and there are about
600 of them in Vienna.
It’s a car rental revolution
and it’s ideal for anyone
who does not have a car
somewhere in a hurry,
pick up something or a child from school, do some
shopping and not have to use public transport. But do
you know how it works?
you have the possibility to fuel up the car with the fuel
card located inside. If the level before filling is less than
25%, you get credited 20 minutes free-drive as a thank
you for refuelling to 100%.
PARKING: Nothing is easier. With a length of only
2.69 meters, parking is effortless. You can park at any
time on any public parking space, even in all short term
parking zones in Vienna because the fees are already
paid to the city of Vienna. For intermediate stops (you
will remain logged on Car2Go), the first 2 hours are on
Car2Go. There is further processing if you leave the car
longer or you can terminate the lease as normal in a
short-term parking zone. In both cases, the meter inside
the Car2Go has to be set.
Ben and Sonia bring a touch of
Vienna to Canberra
OzConners baritone Ben Connor and soprano Sonia
Anfiloff are bringing a touch of Vienna to Canberra
while holidaying there. They were scheduled to give a
concert with a strong Viennese flavour at the residence
of the Austrian Ambassador.
The Canberra Times reported on 25 July that the
concert was scheduled for 31 July. The report said they
would be joined by Christina Wilson and Alan Hicks,
their former teachers at the Australian National
University School of Music, in an evening of arias and
All the details are on the website www.car2go.com
But here is a summary.
JOIN: You get a members card, go out in the street and
find the nearest Car2Go (there is an App that gives all
locations), hop in using the card, -- the keys are inside drive off. When finished, park the car anywhere and
walk away. As the website says, it is fun, saves money
and helps the environment. How simple is that?
Sonia leads Australia Day singing in January
“Anfiloff and Connor's visit is mainly to see family and
BILLING is by the minute, by the hour or by the day
and you only pay when you use it. There are no monthly
fees or rental subscription packages. A price structure is
displayed on the inside of the front window.
Per minute
31 cents
Per hour
Per day
Break in travel per minute 19 cents
FUELLING: If you do not want to fuel the car, you
don’t have to. It is fuelled by a service team. However,
Page 5
friends and Conner will return to Vienna on August 4.
Anfiloff is staying on to compete in a number of singing
competitions: the Centenary Aria, part of the National
Eisteddfod in Canberra, the Orange Eisteddfod and the
McDonald's Operatic Aria in which she has already
reached the quarter-finals, to be held on July 27,” the
paper reported.
“Anfiloff sang for the Australian Governor-General,
Quentin Bryce, at a concert hosted by Australia's
The Australian Connection (OzCon) –August.September 2013
Ambassador in Vienna, David Stuart, earlier this year.
Just before her trip home she gave a performance of
Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder, which includes two songs
that Wagner called ''studies'' for his great Tristan und
Isolde. The language of the poems is described as
"rarefied and intense" and the music "wistful and
"When I get back to Vienna I'll be doing Verdi's Don
Carlos in a singalong opera at the Theater Leo," she
says. "It's a bit like a cabaret opera."
For Connor, the past
year has been exciting,
filled with performances
as part of the youth
ensemble at the Theater
an der Wien, one of the
three top Viennese
opera companies.
He is halfway through
his two-year contract
there and recently sang
the role of Marcello in a
shortened production of
Puccini's La Boheme.
He returns to Vienna to understudy the baritone Nathan
Gunn in the premiere of A Harlot's Progress, a new
opera by Iain Bell, described as a prequel to Stravinsky's
opera, The Rake's Progress. The noted German soprano
Diana Damrau will sing the role of Moll Hackabout.
The Theater an der Wien has an illustrious history,
presenting the premieres of many famous works,
including Beethoven's only opera, Fidelio, Lehar's The
Merry Widow and that essence of Viennese opera, Die
Recently it has also become noted for productions of
contemporary works such as Jake Heggie's opera, Dead
Man Walking. Remembering Connor's versatility
ranging from his winning performance in the 2010
National Aria and in The Street's production of Jacques
Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, also in 2010,
he should thrive in a theatre that celebrates opera in all
its diversity, the paper said.
Big turnout for a hot night at
It was a hot night and so, expecting about a dozen to
turn up for bar night, we early arrivals cancelled our
room inside Flanagans and grabbed a couple of tables
A short time later one head count gave 26 arrivals and
for a while it was standing room only until other tables
were scrounged. There were visitors holidaying in
Vienna and our regulars.
Lyndy, Bryony and Gabrielle
It was sadly the last bar night for Greg and Lyndy Smart
who are moving to Nairobi early this month. Greg and
Lyndy have been regular OzCon goers and we will miss
Malcolm Boardman and Laurice Oates were also there.
They will be leaving us and returning to Australia in
It was good to see Meredith and George Park back from
their latest travels, this time to London.
Greg, Damien, a visitor from Bucharest, Malcolm and
Gabrielle, who booked Flanagans for us, managed to
join us for a short while, leaving young Eliot at home.
Page 6
The Australian Connection (OzCon) –August.September 2013
There were the
usual topics as
the moon rose
above us: booze,
joys of Vienna in
news had just
reached us of
controversial plan
to prevent all boat
people from ever
entering Australia, even if they were found to be
genuine refugees while in camps in Papua New Guinea
for which the Australian tax payer will foot the bill. The
speculation is that it is a potential vote winner so watch
out for an election date.
A sailin’ I did go in Holland
Colin Higgins was invited to go sailing in Holland
with an old friend.
He writes: On 19 June I took up a kind offer of an old
friend from Perth to come sailing in Holland on his
newly acquired 13m Dutch Sailing Barge known as a
Lemsteraak in Friesland.
Peaceful sailing before the rain
Hank is of course Dutch and is recapturing his culture
after 20 years in Australia and sharing it with his son,
Mats. We have raced all sorts of yachts together in Perth
over that time and our kids have raced even more
seriously together too.
Liz and Ann
Laurice, Meredith, George, Julia and Michael
My hosts Hank and his son Mats
The boat has been totally spoodled and widgetted with
every traditional and modern feature. It was a fantastic
insight into life around the IJsselmeer (formerly the
Zuiderzee) and we were able to tie the boat up in the
middle of the old villages of Hinderloopen, Lemmer,
Sloten and Wolkum and saunter into one of the many
lovely restaurants for dinner in the evenings.
Visitors Colin and Kay Mitchell, teachers in Doha
holidaying in Vienna, with Rob and Mark
Page 7
It was a short trip this time but I hope to join them again
- perhaps next year for a longer cruise. It was also
typically rainy and this posed the technical question,
does the Dutch rain actually soak into your skin? It
definitely felt like it! It was overall a fantastic few days
The Australian Connection (OzCon) –August.September 2013
and a privileged peek into this historic part of Holland. I
even made it back in time for our Wachau fireworks!
drinking from. Another marvel, just to mention a few, is
the nautilus shell silver and gold sailing ship.
The Lemsteraak is a traditional Frisian flat-bottomed
sailing ship with no central keel. It is predominantly
built in the Netherlands.
Although the Palace Castle and its collections are
clearly the highlight of a visit to Dresden, there is much
more to see in the historical district. Perhaps the two
most important architectural masterpieces are the
Zwinger, a pleasure palace for royalty built in the early
part of the 18th century, and the Frauenkirche, one of the
city’s most well known symbols, with its magnificent
high dome. The Zwinger was rebuilt in the 1950s and
Treasures and Baroque
splendour in Dresden
By George Park
If you enjoy gazing at incredible precious objects
decorated with gold, silver, crystal, amber, diamonds
and other jewels, then a visit to the amazing treasure
rooms at the Palace Castle (Residenz Schloss) in
Dresden’s old city is not to be missed. The Palace Castle
and the rest of historic Dresden were destroyed in
February 1945, when the entire city was firebombed.
However, most of the buildings dating to the Baroque
period have since been restored, including the Residenz
Schloss. About 1000 precious objects are displayed in
the New Green Vault (Neues Grünes Gewölbe) opened
in 2004. Another 3000 items are on display in the
Historical Green Vault (Historisches Grünes Gewölbe)
which was reopened in 2006.
This historical treasure chamber includes eight lavish
rooms which have been rebuilt as they were designed
and constructed in the first part of the 18th century by
Augustus the Strong (1670-1733), the Elector of Saxony
and King of Poland. Augustus the Strong was an avid
collector of precious objects and wanted to put the many
items that he had inherited and purchased on display in
a manner to enhance the grandeur of his court. Once
completed, the eight rooms were opened to select
members of the public who wished to view the King’s
collection. It is somewhat of a miracle that the
collection has survived intact despite war and political
upheavals over several centuries. During the 2nd World
War, the collection was again removed and stored in a
safe place, taken to Russia by the Red Army after the
war, and subsequently returned to East Germany in the
late 1950s.
It is impossible to adequately describe in writing the
treasures on display. They are all dazzling, required
untold hours to create and
are of course immensely
valuable. The 41 carat green
diamond, the largest in the
world, has not been
unverified estimate puts it at
over US$200 million. The
‘Golden Coffee Set’ made
from a wood core with gold,
silver-gilt, enamel, ivory
and precious stones is too
Page 8
The Zwinger pleasure palace
1960s and today houses five museums: sculpture;
porcelain (including Meissen and East Asian treasures);
a gallery of paintings by the old masters; a collection of
ceremonial weapons; and a collection of old scientific
instruments and timepieces. The church, which was left
as a pile of rubble by the East German government to
serve as a war memorial, was rebuilt starting in the mid
1990s and consecrated again in 2005. With the church’s
inspiring dome once more in place, Dresden’s
magnificent skyline of Baroque buildings one again
looks as it did in the 18th century.
The Frauenkirche
In addition to the old
city of Dresden, visitors
should also consider a
visit to the picture
Meissen, with its world
factory. One can take a
tour of the Meissen
factory to learn about
porcelain manufacture
and also visit the
museum. The village of Meissen is about 27 km from
Dresden so is an easy day excursion. Should one think
of buying any Meissen porcelain pieces, make sure you
have plenty of money in the bank. The prices are
The Australian Connection (OzCon) –August.September 2013
Getting to Dresden by road or rail is quite easy. We
drove from Vienna in a little over five hours, with the
shortest route taking us directly through the center of
Prague. Dresden is located only about 50 km from the
Czech border. If you do drive, make sure you have a
vignette for the Czech autobahn. One other suggestion:
tickets for entry into the Historical Green Vault are sold
separately from the rest of the palace museum. To limit
the number of visitors, they are sold on a timed basis
and can sell out quickly. However, the tickets can also
be purchased in advance online, which is what we did to
ensure that we got to see the treasures in the Green
Vault at the time of our choosing.
Tip for a day’s outing from Vienna
The path down if you choose to walk
By Brett Bayly
If you are ever looking for a place to spend a day
outside Vienna, especially during hot weather, take a
drive down to Rax.
Great views on a clear day
This month’s OzCon flashback
The Ottohaus restaurant
It’s one of the closest mountains to Vienna and takes
less than 90 minutes to drive to the cable car which will
have you on top in 12 minutes for an easy walk with
great views. It’s a 30-minute walk to the Ottohaus
restaurant where you can catch a refreshing breeze
while you have lunch.
It is my favourite place to take visitors who don’t have
time to head west into the mountains. I have been there
three times already this year.
The restaurant is at 1644 m and near a cliff with views
to the valley below. You can hike to higher peaks.
Rax is reached by driving down the A2 for 55 km, then
turning off for Semmering on the S6. Turn off at
Gloggnitz and follow the signs.
You can check opening hours and cable car times (every
half hour) at: www.raxalpe.com
Rax can also be reached by train and bus.
Page 9
Bar night at Flanagans, October 2011
I had a rose named after me and I was
very flattered. But I was not pleased to
read the description in the catalogue: 'No good in a bed, but fine against a
- Eleanor Roosevelt
The Australian Connection (OzCon) –August.September 2013
Reliving a visit to China 40
years ago – a summer essay
Some time back I was contacted by a former neighbour
in Canberra whom I had not heard from since I first
came to Vienna in the mid 80s. He is now head of an
Australian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai
and he recalled that I had travelled to China with Gough
Whitlam many years ago. They were looking for articles
for a magazine called Australia China Connections to
mark the 40th anniversary of the visit. So I wrote a light
piece and it was published in the June/July issue. And
so, for some summer reading I have reproduced the
article here. They gave it the appropriate heading:
A serious visit to China with a party atmosphere. - Brett
row in the theatre which Australian politics was about to
I wrote for my Adelaide newspaper The Advertiser at
the time that Mr Whitlam, who was then Leader of the
Australian Opposition, told the Chinese Premier Zhou
Enlai in July 1971: “If my party wins the elections you
will be able to see the first visit by an Australian Prime
to the Chinese People’s Republic and its sole capital,
Peking.” Premier Zhou replied: “We will welcome it.
All things develop from small beginnings.”
As our chartered Qantas plane touched down in Beijing
on Wednesday, October 31, 1973, we were greeted by a
tumultuous reception by thousands of people, including
7000 school children, chanting words of welcome and
waving Chinese and Australian flags and colorful
flowers. Mr Whitlam with Premier Zhou Enlai at his
side and wife Margaret and Australia’s first Ambassador
to the People’s Republic, Stephen Fitzgerald, closely
behind applauded and smiled broadly at the spectacle.
I was very young when I found myself on a plane with
Gough Whitlam flying to that great mysterious land
called China.
Having just turned 29, perhaps I was too young to
appreciate the history-making events I was about to
witness. After all, I had been a political journalist in
Canberra only 12 months during which time I had seen
Australia politics turned on its head with the election of
the first Labor Government in Australia in 23 years.
Within weeks of arriving in Canberra I had seen
conservative Prime Minister Billy McMahon swept
from power, ending the longest unbroken run in
government in Australian history. In his place as
Australia’s 21st Prime Minister stood a towering man
by the name of Edward Gough Whitlam who, within
weeks of his election set out to change the face of
Australia, including the ordering of negotiations to
establish full relations with the People's Republic of
And so what did I know? To me this was just one big
adventure at the start of 11 years of being in the front
Page 10
We of the media were following some distance behind
and I remember thinking this was all very unreal. This
enthusiastic rent-a-crowd probably had never heard of
Australia let alone the fact that the country had a new
imposing figure called Gough Whitlam as its prime
minister. But here he was at a time when leaders of
Western countries dared not set foot on Chinese soil.
The drive into the city was also welcoming with people
lining the boulevard as we drove past the Forbidden
Several days later Prime Minister Whitlam had
completed his only media conference in Beijing and was
on his way to an unscheduled lunch of Peking duck with
Premier Zhou Enlai.
Eleven hours of detailed discussions with the Chinese
Premier and a 90-minute chat with Chairman Mao
Zedong had given Mr Whitlam a feeling of elation
which he had not felt for years, not even on December 2
the previous year when his party came to power after 23
years in the political wilderness.
I wrote at the time: “His five-day visit to Peking had
been triumphant. His reception by the Chinese
The Australian Connection (OzCon) –August.September 2013
Government had exceeded his expectations. As he left
the Minzu Hotel where he had met the international
Press corps for the mile walk to the Great Hall of the
People, a red and white banner hanging from the top of
the 10-storey building fluttered above him. It read:
“Warm welcome to Distinguished Guests from
As Mr Whitlam kept his Chinese friends almost at a
running pace along the broad footpath, he smiled again
as he noticed other banners stretched across the
boulevard which read in both Chinese and English
“Warm send off to Australian Prime Minister Whitlam.”
Mr Whitlam said at his press conference: “A generation
of lost contact has successfully been brought to an end.
The lost generation is now buried.”
The visit was not without its funnier moments. The
Australian media contingent travelling with Mr Whitlam
had just arrived and was settling in at the Minzu Hotel.
It was a big adventure being in the capital of “Red
China”, even for the old hands at the political reporting
game. We were in a mysterious country largely ignored
by the West and certainly by successive conservative
governments in Australia.
Army band excel itself in playing Mr Whitlam’s choice
of a national anthem “Advance Australia Fair”, twice at
the airport and twice at official banquets. Its playing of
“Click go the Shears,” “The Road to Gundagai,”
“Botany Bay” and “Waltzing Matilda” brought cheers
from the feasting masses and toasts from Mr Whitlam.
In June 1976, another Australian Prime Minister,
Malcolm Fraser, visited the People’s Republic of China
in what was billed as a promotion of relations that made
the policy forged by Gough Whitlam a bipartisan one. I
travelled with Mr Fraser, but that is another story.
And only recently did another Labor Prime Minister
travel to China and attract praise from her friends and
critics alike. At a time when praise was rare for Julia
Gillard, with an election looming in September, it was
being heaped upon her from all sides for signing an
agreement providing for annual meetings between
Australian and Chinese leaders. Chinese President Xi
Jinping predicted a "new level" in economic and
strategic ties, words that would have made Gough
Whitlam smile broadly when he reflected that ‘the lost
generation‘ he had set out to bury all those years ago
had indeed stayed buried.
But our hosts had been briefed about the ways of the
Australian media, including the tendency to enjoy
drinking beer. And so when we checked into our rooms
we noticed containers much like washing tubs at the top
of the stairs leading to our rooms. They were filled with
beer. Although the weather outside, being early
November, was cold the old hotel was over heated and
the beer was too warm to drink.
What were we to do without offending our hosts? Some
of us gathered in one of our rooms and, in somewhat
raised voices, heaped praise on our hosts and gave first
impressions of this a great land of China. Then one of us
said something like, “But it is a pity the beer is too
warm to drink.”
We waited and some time later ventured out to the top
of the stairs – and there was the beer all packed in ice
and cooling rapidly. What a great country!
I also remember the party atmosphere that prevailed on
our short visit, both informal and formal.
The informality took place with gusto when we
celebrated Margaret Whitlam’s birthday in a restaurant
that had been emptied of all Chinese officials. It was a
private party also celebrating Gough’s meeting with the
great Chairman. It was Tom Burns, who was the Labor
Party National President at the time, who led the singing
while standing on a chair. The Maotai was abundant and
the “Ganbeis” frequent.
The more formal tone saw the People’s Liberation
Page 11
Vienna scene: the Alte Donau
Austrian bits and pieces
>Austria is now officially the hottest place in Europe,
with temperatures on Sunday above other typical hotspots. According to the Austrian weather service
(ZAMG), a top-temperature of 39.2 degrees was
reached last weekend, making the Alpine republic far
hotter than Ibiza (32 degrees), Rhodos (33) and Beke
(34). The highest temperature of 39.2 degrees was
recorded both in Waidhofen an der Ybbs in Lower
Austria and Bad Goisern in Upper Austria.This was
closely followed by temperatures in Villach and
Salzburg of 38.7 and 38.6 degrees.Vienna city centre
experienced a scorching 38.4 degrees. Austrian Times
29 July
>Siemens is to start building a "smart city” in
The Australian Connection (OzCon) –August.September 2013
Vienna which will be one of the largest urban
development projects in Europe. Together they are
supposed to explore ways of optimizing resources by
integrating interactive communication systems, power
grids and building systems. The 38.6 million Euro
budget project is due to be located in Aspern, the
capital’s north-eastern district and spread over an
airfield of almost 600 acres. Austrian Times 24 July
>Increasing numbers of cafes, restaurants and bars
now charge for tap water in the Austrian capital of
Vienna. Whilst many customers heavily criticize the
move, the gastronomy owners defend the move saying it
is necessary to cover costs. Andrea Winkler from Cafe
Mozart in Vienna where a glass of tap water costs €2.50
said: "Of course water also costs us money.” Other wellknown cafes such as Cafe Cafe Landtmann also have
started charging €2.50 for tap water. In the
Griechenbeisl customers pay €3.10 for a glass of tap
water. Austrian Times 19 July
>Customers shopping at petrol stations Austria are
having to pay almost twice as much as in
supermarkets, a recent report shows. Statistics
published by the Chamber of Labour (AK) reveal that
the price of purchasing food, drinks and general items
from the petrol pump stores works as 48 per cent more
expensive than an average supermarket. Austrian Times
15 July
>Hotels are more expensive in Innsbruck than in any
other part of Austria according to a new study by the
online booking portal hotel.info. The study also found
that in general across the country hotel prices have risen
on the previous year by around 4.32%. In Innsbruck on
average visitors pay €91.69 per night for a room, an
increase over the year of 4.53%. In contrast Graz offers
the best possibilities for staying overnight. The average
price is €80.25 per night. In second place for the most
expensive is Vienna. Austrian Times, 9 July
Aussie News Briefs
28 July - THE first year of privatised ferries has
resulted in cancellations, collisions and soaring
prices, despite an O'Farrell government promise that
ferry services would improve. Ferry cancellations rose
25 per cent and by 50 per cent when bad weather was
excluded after Harbour City Ferries took over a year
ago, government figures show. The Manly route, which
carries 40 per cent of all ferry passengers, has been the
worst hit by falling performance. Adding to frustration
for Manly commuters, passengers on this route face a 39
per cent price rise from September, with weekly tickets
costing an extra $884 a year. (Sydney Morning Herald)
26 July - THE UN refugee agency has issued a
scathing assessment of Labor's PNG solution,
Page 12
warning asylum-seekers face physical and
psychological harm and may never be accepted by
the local community. In a statement today, the
UNHCR said it had reviewed the measures announced
by Kevin Rudd last week and believed there were
“significant shortcomings' with the plan to send all
future boatpeople to Papua New Guinea. “These include
a lack of national capacity and expertise in processing,
and poor physical conditions within open-ended,
mandatory and arbitrary detention settings,” the agency
said. “This can be harmful to the physical and psychosocial wellbeing of transferees, particularly families and
children.” It said it was troubled by the absence of
appropriate protection guarantees for asylum-seekers
transferred under the arrangement, and that permanent
settlement of refugees in PNG presented major
problems. (Australian)
26 July - THE world's richest banker, Goldman
Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein, thinks
Australia's fretting about its economic circumstances
is a bit of a laugh. "I've been coming here for a long,
long time and during the last two decades of growth,
growth, growth, people are always distraught,
overwrought, wringing their hands about how horrible
things are and to my observation, they don't look that
bad," Mr Blankfein told businesspeople in Sydney on
Friday. One questioner asked how Mr Blankfein saw
Australia, given it was "in a phase where our economy
is slowing" and "there's a malaise between business and
government". "No, it's awful - you've now sunk to a
level that we're trying to get up to. So, my heart goes out
to you," Mr Blankfein replied. (AAP)
23 July - SYDNEY has been named the 10th most
expensive city in the world for expatriates, thanks to
rising house prices and the high Australian dollar. The
result marks Australia's debut in the top 10 of Mercer's
annual Cost of Living survey. Angola capital Luanda
topped the list with monthly accommodation rental costs
there triple that of Sydney's. According to the survey,
the cost of a movie ticket in Sydney was $19.62,
compared to $5.91 in Johannesburg, and the cost of a
fastfood hamburger meal in Sydney was $9.24, almost
triple what you would pay in Hong Kong. The survey
covers 214 cities across five continents measuring the
cost of more than 200 items including housing,
transport, food and entertainment and is designed to
help multinational companies and governments
determine allowances for employees working overseas.
20 July - NO asylum seeker who comes by boat will
ever be resettled in Australia under Prime Minister
Kevin Rudd's dramatic and ''hardline'' new refugee
laws. They will instead be sent to Papua New Guinea
for processing and, if found to be refugees, will be
resettled there. In the strongest line a modern Labor
prime minister has taken against asylum seekers, Mr
Rudd said: ''As of today, asylum seekers who come here
The Australian Connection (OzCon) –August.September 2013
by boat without a visa will never be settled in
Australia''. (Canberra Times)
16 July - THE cost of a visit to the doctor and a
prescription medicine has smashed through the $100
mark as the value of the Medicare rebate erodes and
prescription costs rise. Patients who use a non bulkbilling doctor are now paying around $71 up front
before later receiving a Medicare rebate of $36.30. They
then face a $36.10 charge for each subsidised
prescription medicine they need. The rising costs are the
reason a recent National Health Performance Authority
report found up to one in eight people did not see or
delayed seeing a doctor when they were ill. (Advertiser)
15 July – SPECULATION continues about when Mr
Rudd will call an election. So far, he has given no
concrete clues about when the election will be, only
indicating that it will change from the September 14
date. According to a Fairfax-Nielsen poll, Mr Rudd has
single-handedly wiped out the Coalition's two-party
preferred lead to be dead-level at 50-50. (National
13 July – TELSTRA agreed more than a decade ago
to store huge volumes of electronic communications
it carried between Asia and the US for potential
surveillance by US intelligence agencies, in a secret
agreement with the FBI and the US Department of
Justice. On Friday, Telstra was refusing to say whether
it had similar data retention agreements with other
nations' intelligence agencies, including those in
Australia. Australia's other major telco, Optus, declined
to say whether it stored data for potential surveillance
by US, or Australian, authorities. (Sydney Morning
9 July - KEVIN Rudd has catapulted Labor back
into a potential election-winning position with
surprise swings toward Labor suggesting the resurrected
PM could not only hold ground for Labor but increase
the party's vote on the 2010 election result. The first
internal Labor polling since Mr Rudd took back the
leadership two weeks ago shows Labor ahead of the
Coalition in bellwether seats in Sydney, Melbourne and
Brisbane. (Daily Telegraph)
severe weather warnings have been largely
withdrawn, leaving Tasmanians to just enjoy the
winter wonderland at their back door. The road to the
top of Mt Wellington in Hobart was closed yesterday,
deterring all but the most dedicated who were able to
hike to the summit, but graders were hard at work in the
Central Highlands keeping roads passable. Great Lake
Hotel licensee Kaylee Hattinger said there was about
15cm of snow on the ground yesterday, with some drifts
more than 40cm deep. (Mercury)
6 July - INDONESIA has delivered a rebuke to Tony
Abbott's turn-back-the-boats policy, signing a
communique warning against unilateral action. The
communique, signed by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono,
reinforces both countries' emphasis on regional
solutions to people smuggling. ''They stressed the
importance of avoiding unilateral actions which might
jeopardise such a comprehensive regional approach and
which might cause operational or other difficulties to
any party,'' the communique said. (Canberra Times)
The GRAFENEGG FESTIVAL runs through to 8
September. The Australian Youth Orchestra will
appear on 10 August. What makes this festival
special to us is that the composer in residence this
year is Australian Brett Dean.
Here are all the details
16 Aug at 7:30 pm - Opening concert
17 Aug at 4:30 pm - Prelude
17 Aug at 7:30 pm - Evening Concert
18 Aug at 11:00 am - Matinee "Ink Still Wet" Final
23 Aug at 7:30 pm - Evening Concert
30 Aug at 7:15 pm - Evening Concert
31 Aug at 4:30 pm - Prelude
31 Aug at 7:15 pm - Evening Concert - World Premiere
of Brett Dean's trumpet concerto "Dramatis
6 Sep at 7:00 pm - Evening Concert
The Australian Youth Orchestra https://www.grafenegg.com/programme/16402
7 July - SNOWFALLS are expected to continue
across the state today and into tomorrow, although
Page 13
The Australian Connection (OzCon) –August.September 2013
Moving house. Items for sale
1. Teutonia 'Cosmo' pram (2011), good condition,
black, washable, adjustable seat positions to fully
flat, wheel lock, adjustable handlebar. Also
includes separate Teutonia Made-for-You Baby
Carry Basket in excellent condition, 2011 (for
Teutonia Cosmo pram), plush red, wind cover
(weight: 5kg), as well as a water bottle holder,
black mosquito net, and red Teutonia Parasol. New:
769,90 +169 €. Price: €275
2. McLaren Quest Sport Stroller, Black, holds up to
25kg, multiple seat positions, one-handed fold,
weight: 6kg, new €270.00 Price €100.00
3. Rectangular playpen, very good condition. White
wood, (2012), including mattress. New ca €220 .
Price: €75
4. Baby-kit for Stokke High chair, new/never used:
Beige plastic restrainer + new white and beige
striped cushion. Price: €25.
5. Stokke high chair white and red cushion with cat
pattern, second hand. Price: €10
6. Chicco Steril Natural Electric Steriliser, good
condition. Automatic, 15 minute process, up to 7 x
150ml baby bottle Price: €10.00
7. Dodie Manual Breast Pump, good condition,
easy to use and clean, adjustable funnel, soft breast
pads, adjustable suction control. New €43. Price:
8. Haucke 'Jump' Baby Bouncer, striped, weight 2kg,
washable, from 6mths to 9kg. As New. New ca €25.00
Price: €5.00
Please contact Ewa Nilsson.
Email: [email protected]
mobile phone: 0699-17064162
For Sale
Sky HO Satellite TV receiver and box for receiving
British TV.
2 year-old 250GB hard disc for recording
Comes with box, remote and wiring.
Available late August
Price €25
Phone +43 650 4721145
Page 14
The Australian Connection (OzCon) –August.September 2013
Unless otherwise specified, all telephone
numbers are in Vienna.
Australian Connection (OzCon)
Website: www.ozcon.at
Email: [email protected]
Australian Embassy
Mattiellistrasse 2-4, 1040 Vienna
Tel: 506740
www.austria.embassy.gov.au (official)
President: Brett Bayly
Mobile: 06991 264 5813
Other Associations
Austrian-Australian Society (OAG)
Gabriele Weichart, General Secretary
Tel: 681 107 53661
[email protected]
All inquiries about membership should be
directed to :
Vice President and membership coordinator:
Gabrielle Costigan
Mobile: 0664 61 22522
[email protected]
Rob Reed
Mobile: 06764870036
[email protected]
Board member: Colin Higgins
Mobile: +43 664 612 2138
[email protected]
Board member: Pam Morris
Mobile 0664 7310 6008
[email protected]
Board member: Mark Webster
Mobile 06991 4403 587
[email protected]
Board member: Rana Janssen
[email protected]
Bank Account Details:
OZCON Account
Raiffeisenlandesbank Niederosterreich – Wien
BLZ 32000
Kontonummer (Account Number): 12.097.176
IBAN AT90 32000 00012097176
Annual Family Membership Fee: €20
www.australian-embassy.at (unofficial. news)
[email protected]
Useful Websites:
Austrian media in English:
Austrian Times, daily English news
The monthly Vienna Review
Ether magazine, monthly www.ethermagazine.at
Worldwide media guide www.mondotimes.com
Page 15
The Australian Connection (OzCon) –August.September 2013