The Jammers Bit: When do we open a jam session?

Due to the complete absence of any positive news vis a vis the Jammers, this week’s Newsletter is looking at the story of Rob Petrie, Gelignite and the Cessna 206, Heritage architecture, and why you never have two clocks in an aeroplane. All of it true, of course, and almost exclusively irrelevant. Finishing, as you do, with hopes of a Jam Session.

Petrie was a lunatic, but a big, likeable bloke. Invariably dressed in a faded uniform with the obligatory Blundstones,. He had a heart of gold, a tatty Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife career, an enthusiasm for arresting mutton birders, and a penchant for big explosions. I first met him sitting in an overloaded Cessna 206, with my feet propped up on a box which the pilot had put forward to help balance the weight.

The Cessna 206 It was a 20 minute flight to Maria Island, and its grass airstrip with notorious winds off Bishop and Clerk making the landing interesting, as you had to buzz the strip first to chase off the kangaroos and Cape Barren geese, then turn around quickly and land before they wandered back. There is a.100 foot drop off the cliff at the end of the strip into the sea.

A Cessna 206 on the “runway” at Darlington air strip.

check out the landing conditions!

Gelignite: About 10 minutes into the flight, I turned round and asked Rob what was in the box under my feet. “Gelignite” he said. Lovely stable stuff and quite inert until it goes bang. There were no vehicles on the island, so Rob was going to use the gelignite to shift some rock.

About this much…

About an hour after we got to Maria Island, I was moving around the old convict settlement, photographing and surveying the original buildings, as heritage architects do… I had to stop for a while as Rob wanted to blow out some rocks to put in a drainage pipe. Quite safe, he said, and promptly blew a rock through the roof of the Coffee Palace at a range of about 75 yards.

Heritage Architecture: He also managed to blow a crack in the end wall of the Men’s prison, thereby revealing the original doorway to the Mess Hall which was mentioned in the Diego Bernacchi records, but had never been found. Unusual survey technique, made my day..

Petrie’s drainage pipe later worked a treat as well, so it was a pretty productive effort all round.

The clock: On the return trip in the Cessna, we flew off the end of the cliff, and climbed steadily. The dasboard had two of everything except the clock. Nick the pilot explained that a clock was an handy navigational tool, and you either had one and hoped it worked, or you had three. If you only had two and one was, say ten minutes out, you wouldn’t know which was which, where you were and when you would fly into the mountain. There were only two things that Nick didn’t like when flying – cumulo nimbus and cumulo granite. Best to avoid the latter.

The Jam Session: I don’t know where Petrie is now – or Nick for that matter – it was a long time ago, but the clock concept is relevant to Victoria today. We had a first wave of pandemic which seemed to go fairly easily, that is one clock. But then a second wave which, hopefully, will subside but that is only two clocks. – but you can tell better how the pandemic will behave when you get the third wave, because it becomes more and more predictable. Only then could you even contemplate opening a jam session safely.

Just a thought…


Festival and Jammers News:




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