Weekly photo challenge: Unexpected

IMG_0023Claremont Council Fire click here

An unexpected fire changes the course of history … A fire destroyed much of the Claremont Municipal Chambers on 19 November in 2010. It was in this building in 1899 that my great-grandfather, James King was elected the first Mayor of the City of Claremont. The photo below was taken in 2006 of me with my two sisters near the foundation stone laid by our great-grandmother.


I was shocked to hear about the fire and saddened by so much history being destroyed. I haven’t been back to the scene of the fire since it happened but I do hope they managed to retain at least the facade of the building.



Flights of fancy

7 posts to go until I reach 500 posts!IMG_0029From 1988 to 1993 I lived in Newman in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. I was successful in winning a position on the East Pilbara Shire Council. It was a great training ground for my future employment plus I had a great time.


Newman is the biggest community in the East Pilbara Shire but it didn’t have a dedicated Council Chamber for meetings. We often met at meeting rooms in the Recreational Centre. In fairness to the distant parts of the region we often had meetings at the smaller communities, one of which is Marble Bar. The township was gazetted in 1893. Surprisingly, Marble Bar had full Council facilities including a Chamber for Council meetings. It was good to sit around a “proper” table!


I was the first ever female to sit on the Council. The population of the Shire included local pastoral stations, mining employees and local Indigenous Communities.


The picture above is of the Marble Bar airport. Just as well I love flying in small planes. We also had meetings at Nullagine, Telfer (a closed mining town) and Shay Gap (before the town-site was demolished). It was a great experience and taught me a lot about regional development and the complexities of trying to address the differing needs of groups within our communities.







8 posts until I reach 500!

Now that I am getting close to 500 posts I am keen to get there! And I feel I need to have something special for my 500th post. However today I want to talk about how we spend our time – or more accurately – how I spend my time.

My old workplace

My old workplace in Perth (Dumas House), Western Australia

No paid projects these last few weeks and lots of time on my hands. It is so ingrained in me from my childhood that I must get all my work done before I allow myself to indulge in some relaxation. I am not terribly good at relaxing. There are some things that I can do to fill in my time, and these are:

  • fiddling with my allaboutwordswa blog site
  • building my new blog/website for my business – I have spent many hours doing that Naturaliste Business Writing Solutions WA
  • designing my nice new business cards
  • reading – I recently found an author I like and am working my way through her suspense novels (Mary Higgins Clark). I received $100 voucher for Amazon.com and am spending it fairly quickly
  • reading the local papers – it’s always good to know what the local issues are. One of the places where I was working has lost their funding from the City Council
  • tidying up my electronic filing system
  • when I get really stuck there is always housework to be done ūüė¶
  • I do have some uncompleted studies that I can go back to as well – I might have to consider that. I need to keep learning or my brain may seize up on me due to lack of use.

So there you go, that’s what I have been up to lately :-). I need to be more proactive about finding some work soon. I am going to a workshop in a few weeks on developing a Facebook page – hopefully that will help generate some business.



PS No kidding, I just had a phone call about some possible work – the Universe is listening!

Irreplaceable history is destroyed

Plinky Prompt: A place from your past or childhood, one that you’re fond of, is destroyed. How do you feel? Plinky prompt

In 2010 I was shocked to hear that a fire destroyed the Claremont Council Chambers and Library. I am linked to the building through a family connection. One of my Mum’s family¬† traced her father’s and my Grandfather’s (Arthur King) ancestry. I learned that Arthur’s father, James King, was the first Mayor of the City of Claremont in 1900. It turns out that I have lots of relatives in Western Australia that I didn’t know existed. My family is mostly in Victoria in the Eastern States.

My sisters and I visited the Chambers in 2006. I don’t believe they had changed much since 1900. We were able to find our Great Grandfather is some of the historical photos. The staff was very welcoming and accommodating. From there we went to see where they used to live on Stirling Highway. The original house still stands but is now used for business purposes.

So you can imagine my shock in hearing of the Chambers being destroyed. I haven’t been back to have a look at the damage. Hopefully they were able to salvage some of the history contained within its walls. See the story below…

Fire at Claremont Council Chambers

East Pilbara Shire

We lived in Newman in the East Pilbara Shire from 1988 to 1993. Below are some photos I have just scanned from my hard copy photos from that time. Included are Newman, Wittenoom, Cue and surrounding districts. The gathering near the plane included Councillors from the East Pilbara Shire en route to Katherine in the Northern Territory for the North Australia Development Conference. We had some great times in the Pilbara. Lorraine



International Women’s Day – what is important?

Women's International League, 5/1/22

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Yesterday, 8 March 2012, I attended a video-conference to listen to a key-note speaker for International Women’s Day.

In recent years¬†I¬†twice project managed the State Government’s activities for this event in Perth. It was a big job and it was a team effort. I wrote¬†several¬†speeches for the Minister and coordinated¬†a whole range of events. It was my biggest day in the work year. It seemed really important at the time.

Yesterday’s key-note speaker was excellent. She spoke about the history of International Women’s Day and also told her personal story. She works as CEO for a city council. I remembered that I was an elected member of a local government¬†council once. That seemed important at the time too.

As I listened to her speech I thought of my sister’s¬† comment¬†recently, that I should really write a book about my life. She read some of my blogs and suggested I had a lot more stories to tell about living in remote communities, being a sole-parent etc. It is true that I have some wonderful memories and some tragic ones too. They all seemed terribly important at the time.¬†¬†Being a parent of three wonderful sons was/is definitely important. So is my relationship with my partner.

My thoughts then led to some of the buddhist¬†philosophies I have read in recent years – about ego, self and letting go. So I ask the question again, “What is important”? or “What makes someone important”?¬† In an¬†article in our local paper recently our council said they were going to stop people putting memorial¬†plaques on our Jetty¬†unless they were deemed to be¬†“important” people. As you can imagine, there were a lot of letters to the Editor in the¬†next¬†edition!¬†

We are all important to someone. Just listen to the eulogies at people’s’ funerals. Unfortunately the recently departed “loved one”¬†doesn’t get to hear about it (to the best of my knowledge!)

And so…as part of my writing course, I need to do a survey. I am going to do it online and my questions will be aimed at female “baby boomers” and I will be asking questions about what is important¬†to them at this stage of their lives. If you would like to take part, I¬†really welcome¬†your involvement. It will take place in the next couple of weeks. My email address is reoh@iinet.net.au so feel free to contact me and I will include you in the survey. Only requirements are that you are in the baby boomer age group (born between 1946 and 1964),¬†have access to¬†the internet¬†and that you are female. Sorry guys, it just enables¬†the survey¬†to be more focused if I only consider¬†one gender ūüôā

Cheers for now


Red dirt and Iron Mountains – Living in the Pilbara

Marble Bar, Western Australia

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In 1988 I met and married a man from the Pilbara region of Western Australia. He worked as a driller for Mt Newman Mining Co. which later became BHP Billiton, based in the township of Newman. Newman is within the East Pilbara Shire which covers an area of 378,533 square kilometres. The region is known for its rich mining and pastoral industries. It also takes in parts of the Gibson and Great Sandy Deserts and the historic Canning Stock Route.

The area is populated sparsely. There are many remote Indigenous communities and the towns house the general population who staff the hospital, schools and small businesses. Most people in Newman are employed at the mine at Mt Whaleback Рone of many  large iron ore deposits.

I moved from Perth with my new husband and my three young sons in December 1988. It was HOT! Fortunately we had a nice home with good air conditioning. I lived in remote communities before but this was my first experience of a mining town. The Company was moving away from providing all the infrastructure for the town (they still provided housing for their workers) and the government provided schools, hospitals etc. It was a very multicultural community with over forty nationalities represented. The demand for workers attracted people from all over the world.

Newman was a very social place. Most people knew each other as the population was about 7,000 at that time. It has fluctuated up and down depending on the needs of the mining industry. The pub was a popular place for the workers. It was pretty rough and not the sort of place to wander through without a male companion. I think I only went there twice in the seven years I lived there ūüôā

It was a place of opportunity – the chance to be a big fish in a small pond, as the saying goes. I very quickly found more work and interests than there were hours in the day. I was coordinating a migrant English program, writing for the local regional newspaper, and later became involved as a Shire Councillor for the East Pilbara Shire. It was great to have input into the decisions impacting on the community and the region.

We used to fly small planes to Council meetings each month as we tried to meet in different parts of the vast shire boundaries. We normally chartered small planes to places such as Marble Bar, Nullagine, Telfer and Shay Gap. Marble Bar is known as one of the hottest places in Australia and its history as a gold mining town. During the time I was on the Shire I was the only female councillor. It was a memorable experience with many larger than life characters on the Shire and in the districts they represented.

Today a lot of the mining companies employ their staff on a fly in, fly out basis. The partners and families stay on in the cities and towns and the men do some time at the mine site and then have a week or so back home with their families. I opposed that concept as it was very bad for the towns in the region. Fewer children meant fewer teachers were allocated to the schools etc and the towns reverted to a company town with the only focus being on the mines and the pubs. Community services declined and the lives of the families in the cities live only part-time with their partners. It can be very lonely for them, however  it pays well and that is why they do it.

I have some great memories of my time up there but I don’t want to go back. I would love to visit for a holiday but my life has moved on since then. Some of my information for this blog¬†was¬†is from a book commissioned by the Shire when I was there – Gold Dust and Iron Mountains – Marble Bar and Beyond by Hugh Edwards for the East Pilbara Shire.

cheers for now


I had a good idea once…

Hamersley Range Pilbara Region Western Australia

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In the 1990’s when I was living in the Pilbara, many things came together for me. I involved myself in the community in the following groups: Newman Community Care Council, Newman Jobmate, East Pilbara Shire Council, the local Anglican Church and the North West Telegraph (regional newspaper – I covered the news for Newman and the East Pilbara Shire).

I worked with others to tackle a broad range of social issues in the community, including: unemployment; Indigenous homelessness; lack of facilities generally; lack of services for senior residents; limited health services (no female doctor at the time) and a range of other problems.

The town of Newman was originally set up as a company town for Mt Newman Mining (now BHP Billiton). Over time, the company withdrew some of its infrastructure and the government then took over the responsibility for these services. This led to a range of gaps in the services and it wasn’t functioning like a ‘normal’ town – eg most people left town when they left their jobs at the mine.

The idea that I came up with was to utilise some of the¬†locally unemployed people as a casual labour force to¬†offer¬†services for the elderly and disabled members of the community. This led to the establishment, through Premier Carmen Lawrence, of the Pilbara Home and Community Care Service. I was the Shire’s representative on the inaugural committee for this service.

That was a very dynamic time in my life that I really enjoyed. It was a great experience to help to make things happen!




Do it anyway! Don’t worry about the FEAR!

Harriet, Viscountess Duncannon and her Two Son...

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WordPress suggested I might like to write about my three biggest responsibilities! That got me thinking. I could be clever and say “bringing up three sons” –¬†THE END

Yes, being a parent¬†is a big responsibility for sure.¬† When my first son was born (I was 21 yrs old) I proudly brought him home in his red and white carry basket; placed it on the kitchen table and said to my husband, in terror …¬†“what am I supposed to do next?”¬†¬†

It got easier with sons two and three but still daunting. When I was 30 I found myself alone with the three boys (18 months, 4 years and 8 years). That was tough but we survived and they have turned into good-looking, stable young men who I am very proud of today.

A funny situation¬†when I was living in the Pilbara and a Shire Counsellor at the time, I was asked to sit on a local Rugby Tribunal. Now, I know nothing about rugby (even if it should have a capital¬†R or not). They assured me it wasn’t necessary as there were others on the panel with those skills. No one told me that it was a really volatile situation and that I may get rocks thrown through my window if I supported the “wrong”side. I bailed before that could happen (those guys were REALLY big and strong).

A responsibility I really enjoyed as a Councillor was performing the Australian Citizenship Ceremonies. That felt like a great privilege and a real joy!

Work responsibilities seemed big at the time – their importance can get all out of proportion when one is in the midst of the drama. Also, working for government, if something goes really well, praise and recognition goes to the Minister; if it goes badly there is always someone else to blame ūüôā

I am not one to chase after lots of responsibilities – I usually stand back and let others take the lead. If no-one comes forward, then I may consider getting involved.

cheers for today



Hamersley Range Pilbara Region Western Australia
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Early in the 1990’s I started a Newman (Pilbara Region) group of ITC – International Training in Communication. It was great fun! From memory, there were at last half a dozen of us who met on a regular basis to improve our public speaking skills.

I was particularly interested as I had recently been elected as a Shire Councillor for the East Pilbara Shire Council. I was the only woman and there were around about ten or eleven men. These men either worked in the mining industry or in the pastoral industry – apart from one who was a school teacher. He later became Shire President and I was his deputy for a short time before we moved out the district.

I am not particularly out-going and I’m not used to pushing my way into a conversation or debate. If I couldn’t improve my skills there seemed no point in being on the Council. Mind you, most decisions were made in the men’s loo and I didn’t have equal access to that.

So the local ITC was helpful for me. We would pick random headlines out of the daily paper and ask someone to stand up and tell us the story behind the headline (inventing it as they went along). It was fun.

I learnt how to get a word in at Council meetings. I actually had to talk over someone else to be heard. Being on Council helped my confidence quite a bit and developed skills that would later be useful in my career. It was an exciting time in my life and a real learning curve too.