Black Forest, and much worse


S.T. Gill. Road in Black Forest, 1852. Gold Museum We recently took the little one for a pleasant, safe drive up the Calder Highway past Mount Macedon. However this wasn’t always a safe strerch of road. During the 1850s gold miners trekking to the fields at Castlemaine, Bendigo etc, found this area a dangerous location, […]

The Workers Political League


Madam Strachan’s Maids, Creswick, about 1890 On the weekend we drove through Creswick, a town near Ballarat. Creswick was the birth place of ALP Prime Minister John Curtin, as well as being one of the sites in the late 19th century where Australian unionism developed. The miners in Creswick being a well organised group of […]

Ted Findley and the Media.


Many of us would be unaware of who Ted Findley was. He was a member of  Victoria’s United Labor Party, an organisation which was the  predecesor of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party. Findley won the state seat of Melbourne in the 1900 elections. Such was the horror of conservatives, that their financial […]

Victoria’s Unemployed, Organise!


In Victoria the current unemployment rate is around 5.5%, which is compounded by the Bailiar government’s slashing of over 4,600 public sector jobs. But where are the organisations acting on behalf of the unemployed? Back in the 1970s and 80s, as an unemployed person I was involved in groups such as Work For Today, and […]

Morgans Lookout


Recently I went back to where much of my family have resided, the Riverina region of NSW. I popped over to Morgans Lookout, between Walbundrie and Walla Walla, 1/2 hour north of Albury. Who ? What? OK, allow me to expand. Morgans Lookout is named after the bushranger, Dan ‘mad dog’ Morgan, who roamed that […]

Rugby and Politics


People often hear the mantra, ‘Sport and Politics don’t mix’, but oh yes they do. The Olympics are a classic example, both in negatives and positive way. But let’s look at a positive example from the world of Rugby League. Back in 1941, when the then socialist Soviet Union was our ally in the war […]

Tobin Tax


A protest against market speculation outside the Frankfurt stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, on June 17, 2012. According to anti-globalization group Attac which organized the protest, the sandbags were used to symbolise a barricade against financial speculation and called for a tax on financial transactions. Way back in 1848, Marx in his Demands of the […]

Zizek and Coke


As a Marxist who has worked in the mental health field, a person I always find interesting is the Yugoslavian psychoanalyst Slavoj Zizek.  Zizek is influenced by both Marx and Lacan. One enduring symbol of contemporary capitalism he talks about is the mystery of the succesful commodity, Coca Cola. To him it is a mystery […]

Sordid History in a Pleasant Country Town


Donald is a pleasant town, with a current population of around 1,600, yet it has a somewhat sordid past, or at least one episode of notoriety in its history. On Friday March 6 1931, the town found itself, or some of its residents at least, being on a military footing. Why, what for ? Across […]

Reality TV


Am I the only person who finds the horribly misnamed ‘reality tv’ shows pure ideological drivel? It does not matter if it’s Big Brother, Biggest Loser, Survival, etc, they are a horrible reflection of contemporary society. Allow me to go on. We know that in any society the dominant class controls cultural production, an area […]

The Bogan Delusion


The Bogan Delusion, D Nicholls, Affirm press 2011 Great title, pity the contents don’t match up. After reading this book, and further perusal of parts of it, i’m still unclear what the author is trying to say. At times it seems like a paeon to the virtues of suburbia against the horrid ‘elites’ of the […]

The Maori Chief


When the better half is a Kiwi, you develop an affinity with the Land of the Long White Cloud. And a lttle part of Aotearoa, in Melbourne, is the Maori Chief Hotel in South Melbourne. It was first licenced back in 1867, and owes its name to Maori groups who visited South Melboune in 1863,and […]

Scott Bennett

Ballarat - Birthplace of Democracy

Who could imagine a rural ALP parliamentarian talk about being a socialist ?? It’s an oxymoron! But in the early days of the 20th century it was not uncommon. One famous example was the MLA for Ballarat West from 1904-1907, Scott Bennett. As well as a short spell in the parliamentary talk shop he was […]

Frank Hyett


Not sure if many listeners know much about Frank Hyett, I certainly would like to know more. He was born on February 9 1882 at Bolwarra near Ballarat. He arrived in Melbourne just after 1900, and became involved in both sport and radical politics. Local Football and Cricket In the sporting arena he played local […]

Bare Knuckle Boxing


Bare knuckle boxing was a popular 19th century pastime. In Victoria, after 1866, it became compulsory to wear gloves and follow the Queensbury rules, but bare knuckle fights were still held, albeit illegally. The last, and one of the most famous bouts, occured on March 20 1879. Held n the NSW side of the Murray […]



The little town of Lancefield, an hour and a bit North West of Melbourne, has a great farmers Market on the fourth Saturday of each month, and is well known for the wonderful Aspy Cafe in High Street. Like so many other parts of rural Victoria, it has links to the Kelly Outbreak, and we’ll […]



Recently spent a weekend in Heathcote, to commemorate the 10th passing of our old mate, Kenny Burt. He now rests in the Heathcote cemetry, alongside a few of my family members, the Conricks, the first ones of my family to have arrived from Erin’s isle. Heathcote is 110 k north of Melbourne, and boasts the […]

Footy and the Great Trade War


The Great Trade War, aka World War 1, had a major impact upon Australian society. One area it did this was in the world of footy. Here i touch upon its impact upon the Victorian Football League, (VFL). Read on In 1914, the year war broke out, there were 9 sides competing in the VFL. […]

Whats wrong with ANZAC | Book Review


What’s Wrong with ANZAC?: The Militarisation of Australian History – published by the University of New South Wales in 2010. This marvellous work reviews the growing militarisation of Australian History. The renaissance of Anzac Day, and its changed nature seem only too obvious. Back in the 1920s and 1930s it was a solemn ceremony, as […]

The Tiny Town of Talbot


Often on Left After Breakfast the Bagman talks of Talbot, Brigadoon of the North. What, where is Talbot ? Talbot is 159 ks NW of Melbourne not far from Maryborough. It’s an old gold mining town, with gold found nearby in 1854. By the late 1850s it had a population of 15,000 people, it is […]

Unlock the Land


Victoria in the 1850s From the mid 1850s there were substantial democratic demands made across what is now the state of Victoria. The Eureka Stockade, the 8 hour day, and parliamentary reformn are some of the obvious ones, but what about the desire to ‘unlock the land!’ During this perod a broad coalition, including Chartists, […]

And the big men fly


Footy season is back, and we can see the ‘Big men fly for a Herbert Adams pie‘, or so was the case in the 1970s. This was also the era of a player strike. What! A strike? Read on… At the start of the 1970 season 5 Essendon players Don Mckenzie, Barry Davis, Darryl Gerlach, […]

Fairlea Five


Who remembers the Fairlea Five? That group of middle aged, middle class women who were arrested under a charge of Wilful Trespass for distributing leaflets on conscientious objection to boys registering for national service. The five women were Joan Coxsedge, Jean McLean, Chris Cathie, Jo Maclaine-Cross and Irene Miller. Already well known for their protest […]

Look out for the Luddites


Ever wondered about the Luddites? I must confess I knew very little of the Luddites and next to nothing about General Ned Ludd and the Army of Redressers. Who were they? What were they on about? It must have been a lot more than just smashing up machinery, starting with stocking frames. I don’t know […]

As Game as Ned Kelly


Since the white invasion, Ned Kelly is probably the best known Australian. Though we all know of him, not all are clear on his life and story, but none the less his name lives as a symbol of fighting against injustice. Even in his own short life he had a presence larger than life. Let […]

Gold and the Birth of Democracy


Recently we reviewed an article by Professor Stuart Macintyre on Gold and the birth of democracy in Victoria, going back to the 1850s. As well as the birth of parliamentary democracy, this time saw the growth of unions. The diggers faced a hard life on the gold fields, and diggings per se. Death and injury […]

Blood, Sweat and Beers


Blood, Sweat and Beers: Oz Rock from the Aztecs to Rose Tattoo by Murray Engledhart came out in late 2010 on Harper Collins. It talks about a halcyon era of music in Australia where Rock’n’Roll Is King, going back to the great period of the late 1960s until the 1990s, when pub rock was a […]

True Grit


Maryanne and i recently sawTrue Grit. As a Marxist I could do a review based on the approach of the Frankfurt School, or one of the great British cultural Marxists like Raymond Wiliams, but i will be a bit more low brow than that. We really enjoyed the film. The superb acting of Hailee Steinfeild […]

Bad Characters – Review


Bad Characters: Sex, Crime, Mutiny, Murder and the Australian Imperial Force Just finished reading the above listed, marvellous book. After 20 years of the militirisation of Australian history by the right, and their acolytes, like Howard, etc, it’s good to see a book which challenges the nonsense. It shows the Australian troops as a brave […]

The Ned Kelly House in Beveridge


The Kelly House in Beveridge As another December passes us by let’s cast our minds back to colonial Victoria in December 1854, where we had the events at the Eureka Stockade, an episode which helped shape democratic Victoria as we know it, and, in Beveridge not far from Whittlesea, there was the birth of Edward […]