Wednesday, June 29, 2016

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

In the late 1970's and early 1980's the band Midnight Oil had been around for a while and I had a few 'wow' moments listening to community radio stations and especially when the 'Head Injuries" album was released. T-Shirts with Peter Garrett's screaming head and outstretched arms became the uniform of every disfranchised school drop out, obvious pot-smokers and left wing university students who hadn't had a bath or shower for a week or more.

I was in high school when this music came out and it was usually the rougher or leftie kids who liked it. Having said that, I liked what I heard but I hadn't owned any albums at that stage.

A friend played me the opening riffs of  "No Time for Games" from the Bird Noises E.P. loudly through his car stereo (Tim, you've got to listen to this!") and it transported me into a different place in a moment. I was just picking up how to play guitar at the time and was learning chords to The Beatles songs (which I still really like) but, this was savage and dangerous - tortured - and yet very melodic. Hmmm, I needed to reflect on this moment. There's more out there...

Midnight Oil kept popping up, I used to sit up watching late night music shows and sometimes live footage of this band would be played. I still remember vividly watching "Advance Australia fair" being played on dual guitars with the lead singer yelling out "Mr Fraser get ****" Political as well. Interesting. As an aside, history was to show Mr Fraser a compassionate man in the end and also the lead singer, Peter Garrett, ended up putting the money where his energetic mouth was, as he was told where to go at times as he flew around Australia as a Labor federal MP.

You can read about it - this is where 10 -1 album and my little corner of the world collided.

I left school at 16 having completed year 11 in 1982. The early 80's for me were a depressing time for many of us. The threat of nuclear fallout was always simmering under the surface. Unemployment was high in my hometown and on the edge of leaving school, I had no idea what I was meant to be doing. I had heard a few songs on the radio from  "10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1" album by Midnight Oil and found them interesting, almost a bit psychedelic at times.

It was into this that a few friends were hanging out listening to music - something we always did - shared records and so on. A friend named Warwick had just bought the album and put it on the record turntable.

The album cover was disturbing and really eye catching at the same time. I studied it thoroughly as we listened to both sides, smoking (if my memory serves me well) and kicking back...I don't know what it was but that album really hit me. There was something in it, that spoke to me... directly... like all good music does.

The angst and the melodies and the experimentation of sounds all resonated with my 16 year old angsty tortured soul. It obviously wasn't just me either, according to Wikipedia it stayed in the charts for a whopping 171 weeks.

Somewhere along the line soon after someone 'taped' it for me and I played it, and played it and played it.

I never got bored with it and could play many of the guitar parts after a few months. The samples and keyboards and production was weird but worked really well. The songs were very strong and in fact only the strong, even.

I always listened to a lot of different music but this one was always a go to. You know, it would sit in the cassette player and you would just turn it on wherever you left it. I could hum the bars of the next songs intros before they started.

At the same time the band itself had been catapulted out of the pubs and onto the world stage. Film clips were appearing on pop music shows and it wasn't just dope smokers and unbathed lefties listening: middle Australia was too.

My school buddy and music and fellow guitarist/bass player and I secured tickets to the "Stop the Drop" concert at memorial drive:

Interestingly, I can't find on the 'net a corresponding date but it was at Memorial Drive in Adelaide and I know v. Spy v. Spy  supported them. Craig Bloxom from the Spies (online) told me that he remembered the day and they played 'touch footy' before the show. So whenever it was, it happened.

Do you think I can find any archive material from the day? Nope.

Here's a 1950's shot of Memorial Drive (so the I'm led to believe) with the high stadium open air seats - it wasn't heaps different in the early 1980's (from memory) to this. Though it has gone 'up market' now and haven't had concerts there for a long time:

The concert was part of the anti-nuke stance that was gaining momentum and there were protest signs and people similar to this walking around:

Banners with this slogan:

Midnight Oil unfolded a large banner with the ^above wording^ at the end of their concert

We only knew too well of Nuclear fallout due to the British testing bombs in South Australia at Maralinga.

The 10 to 1 album had a song entitled "Maralinga". The truth of the destruction these tests caused to people and environment was just coming to the surface. You can look up the details on line. 

  It was a hot day and the place was packed. Michael and I sat up the very back of the open air grandstand taking it all in, smoking (as everyone did back then) and wearing our new T -Shirts:

 The concert was way above any expectations. There are a lot of great bands but to this day I have never seen such a powerful live band as Midnight Oil onstage. I was blown away. This was music that was real, raw, melodic. Lyrically I was thinking more about what politics was really about and power and money. This album and this concert summed up a lot of what I was waking up to in the world at the time. Unforgettable.

Here's all I've got left of a bought cassette I actually paid money for eventually... well used, huh:

I have since buoght the CD, of course....Songs from the album:

Bonus: have a look this documentary on the making of it

Saturday, May 28, 2016



 Between 2010 and 2013 I was followed by ducks here is an account:


21 September 2010:
They dropped in and I made the mistake of feeding them and they stayed for three years 

 23 September 2010

They were waiting for me this morning when I got up - I don't like the way they look at me

They keep pointing and giggling - I don't like it!


Still hanging around


Paid me a visit on my birthday - which was nice of them

 ...but they came the next day starting to wear out their welcome

 trying to drive the car out - they were at the end of my driveway

Then it started to get creepy, they kept looking at me and were always just over my shoulder; or at least it stated to feel like it...they just stared and it was starting to get to me...


Their visits began to escalate  

and they kept watching and getting closer

When I went to work, they were there in the morning watching and waiting, waiting and watching my every move

Watching me, seeing me, calculating my movements  from every vantage point - the dark shadow of the ducks haunted my every move


I couldn't sit out the back yard without them staring at me - 
I still don't know what they were thinking?!

 Eventually I snapped and told them where they could get off and they were deeply offended - I felt remorseful and yet slightly relieved

 Over a drink or two we finally made amends and peace reigned once again - it turned out to be a misunderstanding and my people and their people were able to work out a mutually beneficial solution. Peace reigned in the land once again. Ducks and people were able to roam free unhindered by the shackles of suspicion to fly to walk and to eat the putrid moss found on the rock of creek beds once again. I believe there is a moral in this for us all somehow - though I'm not sure yet what it is.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

My backyard 27 March 1976

I was nine years old. I loved watching planes and any aircraft as many boys do.
Saturday the 27 March 1976 I looked out of my back yard and watched a light plane reach into the sky from my backyard. It was a medium distance away from my eyesight climbing high into the sky. It was a beautiful day, clear skies, sunny.

A few seconds later it had turned into confetti and was raining down in tiny pieces from up on high. Some pieces fell down fast but many just sort of slowly twinkled down like when you shake a 'snow globe'. It was one of those slightly-life-altering experiences that I would have rather not witnessed .

A comment from one of my kids the other day ", have you ever seen a plane crash...", encouraged the idea to try and - relook at the situation as an adult -  and so after a little research, I found these on microfilm in the state library of South Australia:

tail of plane in a yard
the area above Belair where it came down (from Google maps Oct 2012)

The newspapers - initial views and comments (I've taken out his first name and addresses in case his family wouldn't want it on the 'net)

As with most traumatic events, it changes the way you see things and certainly had an affect on me. Interestingly, though, it never stopped me from flying and I still love to be in the air when I can.

inside stuff
This is me either in '76, or very close to that time. Take note of my beaver sized buck teeth that eventually got beaten into submission via two years of grey metal and rubber band braces and the slow emptying of my parents bank account.

< I was actually standing very close to that very spot in the photo when I saw the plane go down and though it is now a very long time ago, I can still vividly see in my minds eye the whole 'film' of the unfolding events. I had nightmares for a few years and also I guess would be called now mild 'post traumatic' stuff going on; that whenever I saw a plane go over, it would freak me out a little.

There was a distance of approximately five km's away from the event (see Google map below) and so it was not as horrific for me as it would have been for the poor people underneath, nevertheless, it was close enough for me on the clear day to see the action and hear the engine cut out and the 'thud' of the disintegration. I had a very clear view of it.

 When the plane blew up - and after standing there stunned for a few minutes watching - I ran over to the boys next door who were playing cricket, pointed at the spot and stuttered what I had seen and they wouldn't believe me 'yeah, sure thing' (they obviously weren't interested in the eccentric views of a skinny twerp next door), so I  ran inside and grabbed my parents- who did believe me - and they came out and saw the spot, though by then there was just a little puff of smoke left in the sky. I remember then grabbing my bike and riding around letting it all sink in. The sun was bright but it all felt very dark.

some resolution
I'm a person who really likes resolution. It occurred to me only other day that  it may be possible to find the final resting place of the pilot and go and visit...if he was buried in Adelaide.  After a little 'net search, I discovered that he indeed is actually buried locally. I had done this once before when I discovered that Ross Smith (first to fly from London to Adelaide) was buried nearby to where I had lived and went for a visit. I still like planes as you can tell.

I thought this would be a positive act, to help 'earth' my memory a little more.
I had seen a person die in a catastrophic way (though I was far enough away not to be aware - which one - of the pieces falling was actually the pilot) - so it was only fitting that I could pay a visit to his grave and pay my respects.

As it turned out, on 2 Oct 2012; my wife and I were near the cemetery for another matter and so we were able to drive in and pay him a visit. It was actually really beautiful and peaceful there:

Tim O next to Mr Williams cremation grave (photo by K.Oestmann)

 (I'm leaving out his first name 'cause I don't know if his family would want it all out there)(photo Tim O)
It struck me how ...for such a public/massive/ visually catastrophic end to his life.... ..when I finally 'meet' him ...that his grave is very humble and very simple. Very quiet. I actually liked it.

Official Report
For the tech heads among you here is the official report. I found it interesting - and matched what I saw.

You'll find the official report here:

Thanks for reading this - though it is a sad story and I feel for his then wife, family and friends; the re-visiting of it has actually been a positive and healthy exercise for me personally. 

Feel free to comment or email me if you have any feedback. Thanks for reading.


Tim Oestmann
3 October 2012