Our Greatest Ever Olympian

My small tribute to the man I consider our greatest ever Olympian, and the greatest Olympic Equestrian EVER, from any country.    Last night, watching the showjumping, the Channel Seven male commentator lauded up NZ’s Mark Todd as the greatest ever Equestrian at the Olympics – sorry, he’s a great horseman but he doesn’t hold a candle to ‘Our Bill’ – James William “Bill” George Roycroft, OBE (17 March 1915 – 29 May 2011).


our solo x country

The deed for which Bill Roycroft will forever be renowned occurred at the Rome Olympics in 1960. On the last day of the three-day equestrian event, Australia faced a grim predicament. Two riders, Laurie Morgan and Neale Lavis, were doing well; Brian Crago’s horse had broken down, and the fourth member of the team, Bill Roycroft, was in hospital – concussed, sedated, with extensive bruising and muscle damage. [Odille’s note: plus a broken shoulder blade and a dislocated collar-bone.]

Doctors refused to sanction his release from hospital. The problem was, if Australia was to win the team event, we needed three finishers. Roycroft had fallen during the steeplechase phase the previous day after his horse, Our Solo, somersaulted over pipes and landed on him. He had climbed groggily back, finished the course, then been given oxygen (and whisky) and flown by helicopter to a hospital outside Rome.

Next morning, with the final phase, the show-jumping, due to start soon, Roycroft insisted on signing himself out of hospital. The doctors said no, and refused to give him his clothes; he then threatened to leave in his underpants. Finally, he signed a document taking responsibility for his safety, and was allowed to go. He was 45, laced heavily with pain-killers, unable to bend, and his comrades had to dress him for the last ride. He was virtually folded onto Our Solo, and the reins were placed in his hands. Stiffly, flawlessly, he completed the round of 12 jumps, ensuring team gold for Australia. (Morgan also won the individual event).

bill roycroft our solo rome jumping

Roycroft, patriarch of a legendary riding family, competed in four more Olympics, winning team bronze in 1968 and 1976. He also carried the flag at the Mexico Opening Ceremony in 1968.”

After the 1960 Games he rode in the 1964 Games, although the Australian team came only seventh. In 1965 he had a six-month stay in England, where he was the first person to ride three horses in the Badminton three-day event, which meant covering more than 80km over about 120 jumps in one day in the cross country, and became the first Australian to win there. Bill brought three horses to compete at Badminton in 1965. Riding Eldorado, who finished second, Stoney Crossing (sixth) and Avatar made him the first person to field three competitors in the one of the world’s most prestigious horse trials.

More remarkably, though, the previous month Stoney Crossing had given Roycroft, then 51, his second experience of race-riding by finishing third to Arkle and Mill House at Cheltenham.  Roycroft and Stoney Crossing went on to start second favourite at Aintree over the Grand National fences. They were baulked by a faller at the fourth and Roycroft was unseated, but he remounted to complete the course finishing 4th, no more than 35 lengths behind the winner.  Remarkable feats by a remarkable horseman. At the end of the season Roycroft sold his horses Stoney Crossing and Glenoe to an English businessman for £Aus23,750 – probably because it would have been too costly to bring them home.

Away from competition there was always life on the farm with Mavis and the boys. Roycroft trained his sons and Mavis selected the horses. Roycroft said she was “a great person and a great judge of horses. Our success revolves around her”. The family also worked hard to make dairy farming pay and Roycroft only stopped riding after a fall in 1997 that broke three ribs. When the Olympic Flame came to their nearby town of Camperdown in 2000 on its way to the Sydney Games, Roycroft walked into the town with it, bringing the town to a standstill, then son Barry rode out it out of town again.

This Olympic career which Roycroft launched at age 45 continued through four more Games, winning team bronze at the 1968 Mexico City and the 1976 Montreal Olympics, and the distinction of carrying the Australian flag in Mexico City. Bill produced 23 Olympic horses, which is a feat that will be hard to be repeated. The majority of these horses were sold and a percentage of the money went back into Equestrian Australia to help fund future Olympic teams.

Bill’s Olympic career also yielded a dynasty; four more Roycrofts rode in later Games, sons Barry, Wayne, and Clarke, and Wayne’s first wife Vicki, now one of Seven’s commentators at the Olympics.  Bill and Wayne received the bronze medal at the 1968 Mexico City Games and the 1976 Montreal Games making them the first father and son combination to stand on the medal dais together.

Roycroft became an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1969 for his service to sport, and was awarded an Order of Merit by the Australian Olympic Committee in 1978 for his outstanding achievement in sport. He helped carry the official Olympic flag into the stadium at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games along with seven other Australian Olympians.

He was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985 and elevated to Legend of Australian Sport status in 1996.

Compiled from pieces by Harry Gordon, AOC historian, Equestrian Australia site, Wikipedia, Australian Biography

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The Olympic Farradiddle

The Olympic movement has gone mad.
olympic rings
  • Fortunes spent on athletes to get gold medals.
  • Fortunes spent on facilities while the poor of the country, who could have benefited enormously from having a fraction of those funds spent on housing and education and health care, brutally shoved under the carpet.
  • Fortunes paid by TV advertisers, to the extent athletes are competing at unnatural times to pander to TV audiences in far away countries.
I think the games should go permanently back to Greece. Let each country pay a fee per athlete competing to Greece each time, and this money is used to maintain the facilities and upgrade them every four years.
Greece’s economy and tourism would be boosted, they would have world class facilities to hire out in between times, there would be some increased permanent employment (caretaking, maintenance etc) and periodic employment (big upgrade projects and at Games times).
Let’s end the big money grab the Olympics has turned into and get back to the essence of the competition.
A good read on some of that madness here
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Let’s talk about eggs


So what sort of hen do you imagine your eggs come from? A nice plump fluffy one, I bet.

plump hens img_9353

Please go to the bottom of the page for some facts about these happy hens

Unfortunately, the reality is, if you buy ‘cage’ eggs – she is more likely to look like this.

A battery hen at the end of her useful life - after laying constantly for 12-18 months she is worn out , poor soul.  This 'lucky' one was rescued and has a chance at ;ice, rather than being ground into fertiliser.

A battery hen at the end of her useful life – after laying constantly for 12-18 months she is worn out , poor soul. This ‘lucky’ one was rescued and has a chance at life, rather than being ground into fertiliser.

How do you think her living standards are?  You’d hope the factory was at least clean and reasonable fresh, wouldn’t you.

Well here is the reality. Shocking, vile, overcrowded, injured and damaged, and living and laying their eggs above mountains of poop.

Crammed into tiny cages, the hens peck each other out of boredom and frustration at the unnatural conditions

Crammed into tiny cages, the hens peck each other out of boredom and frustration at the unnatural conditions

And this photo IS Australia - from the PACE farms investigation in 2014

And this photo IS Australia – from the PACE farms investigation in 2014

In the factory system of egg production, hens are just numbers. Once they no longer produce enough $$ for the masters, off for the chop and ground into fertiliser or whatever. Yet many of these hens go on to lay for years once rescued.

The barn system is a little better, at least the chooks can scratch around on the ground as nature intended, but they are still overcrowded and overworked, by dint of lights being constantly on, so they lay every single day with no rest.  In nature, egg production slows in winter with the shorter days, the hens’ systems rest and recharge, and as the days lengthen, egg production picks up.  In the cage and shed system, constant light disrupts the cycle of nature and leads to early death for the hens.

Oh, those hens in the first picture, the plump and fluffy ones?  They are rescued ex-battery hens, cast aside to be sold for a few pennies and killed and ground up.  Now rehabilitated, they happily, and naturally, produce eggs for their saviours.


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Does the Abbott Government have a Moral Compass?

The Moral CompassMoralCompassConceptLintz.jpg

  • Do no harm.
  • Accept responsibility for personal actions and for the consequences of these actions.
  • Accept a duty of care.
  • Affirm the individual’s right to self-determination.
  • Put the truth first.
  • Never use a person as merely an unconsenting means to an end, even if the end benefits others.
  • Be honest.
  • Honour agreements.
  • Conduct relationships with integrity.
  • Leave a positive legacy to future generations.

It seems to me they fail on all parameters – at the moment we are at Chaotic Evil, I’d say.  What happened to the tenets of Honesty, Integrity, Responsibility, Compassion/Kindness, and above all, do no harm and leave a positive legacy for future generations?

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Welcome to Fascist Australia

I was motivated by a comment on one of my comments on Facebook today to revisit this site on the 14 points of fascism.  My comments in italics.

  1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

    Australia isn’t doing too badly on this one.

  2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

    Australia’s treatment of refugees is a case in point.  It’s only ‘them’ now, tomorrow it might be YOUR social group!

  3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

    Again – Australia is using refugees for this purpose, how are numbers of refugees fewer than 1% of the total (when set against our population) a threat?

  4. Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected.

    You only need to look at Abbott’s latest Budget for Australia – tens of billions on superseded jets and the lower sectors (financially) of society being made to pay the cost.

  5. Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

    The Abbott government’s policy on this is well known, along with the PM’s disdain for women.  The only woman in government is rather masculinised as well.  I guess the poor woman is too afraid to appear feminine!

  6. Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

    Australia’s media is largely in the hands of Abbott’s crony and lackey, mr Murdoch.  Who is not even an Australian citizen – he gave it up in favour of US citizenship.

  7. Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

    Self-evident in the Abbott government’s case.

  8. Religion and Government are Intertwined – Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

    Chaplains for schools – funded by the government, but no funding for counsellors for or the non-religious.  Prayers in Parliament.  A former Jesuit priest as PM.  Enough with the religious claptrap.

  9. Corporate Power is Protected – The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

    Well, we all know Abbott and company’s stance on this.  Nothing is too much for their mates and cronies in mining and mega business.  And the rest of us pay, and pay, and pay – and not just financially.

  10. Labor Power is Suppressed – Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

    Abbott’s government is well down this path, as the Liberal Howard government went before him.  Our rights at work will be eroded further and further until there is nothing left.  The proposal for lowering of the basic wage is a case in point.

  11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

    Abbott even includes Science in the one.  No Science minister, dreadful cuts to CSIRO, cuts to the ABC and art establishments.  His position on this is without doubt.

  12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

    They are going down this path, we’re not too bad at the moment but in the next 3 years it may well become much worse.

  13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders

    Do I really need to dignify this with any examples?

  14. Fraudulent Elections – Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

    So far as we know our elections so far are fair and open.  But how DO we know?

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Pension Concessions (rates / electricity / water /travel) cancelled from 1 July 2014

A very well hidden Budget nasty

Saw this as a rumour on FB yesterday and it is true. It’s really going to hurt. For electricity alone it is $100 per quarter, so an extra $8 p/week. Have to check the other bills. And the car rego will be 40% more! I don’t know quite how we’ll pay that one.


Members of Parliament – search for your local member and the opposition member for your area too – use the contact form to comment to them both

Senators – I plan to email EVERY Senator except the ones leaving the Senate on 30 June.  If you have time I suggest you do to.  There are no email links for Senators but I found this pdf document with email addresses of senators

Keep it polite and respectful, nothing puts people offside more than rudeness and attack.  Make it along the lines of you want to express your extreme concern.  Set out your circumstances, or those of a relative or neighbour who will be affected.  Try to show them how hard it is now and how impossible it will be for you if these things go through.

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Social Security – all one amount?

Rick Kean, a friend of mine and a fellow Taswegian, posted this on Facebook, and I think it is a darned good suggestion:

“It is sad reading about young unemployed Australians, or those on a pension struggling to make ends meet, like the lovely grandmother that the Prime Minister winked about. Or the person on disability.

Seems to me that every single one of these people gets a different amount from the government each fortnight, and often based on their age, etc.

How about we have one single social welfare amount?

All Australians are supposed to be equal. So how about everyone that needs government assistance gets the same amount. Adjust it where needed if someone is working part-time or casual etc. But start with one single amount.

We all, Australians, are equal, so lets make the 18 year old job seeker and the 71 year old pensioner equal. One has probably contributed a lot in taxes etc over their lifetime, and the other needs help starting out, and will be contributing a lot in the years to come.

Our governments (past and present) have all contributed to this mess and we need to simplify the entire government operations and spending. Imagine the cost savings that Australians could reap from simplified government where we are all EQUAL.”

There could be supplementary payments for people who have high costs for disability (who currently get a higher payment than the unemployed) and the normal scale of penalties for those who refuse to work.

Rick also suggested why not a database where employers log in and list the people who have contacted them about the positions they have advertised.  While it would be a bit of work, most businesses only advertise positions infrequently, and it would mean those who never enquire or apply for jobs would be known to Centrelink and a penalty, say a 10% reduction for 4 weeks, could be applied.  Second ‘offence’ = a greater penalty.  If the applicants quote their Jobseeker number then that is all the business needs to report – not names or a whole lot of guff, just one 10 digit number per person.

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