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Poetry Northward Ho

northward ho

Northward Ho

Should the travels be as thought
Or even if they are as sought
With danger they may be fraught

So we set sail for the beauty northward
Always accompanied by a shorebird
Then our course it was altered
As the cyclone blew, it never faltered

The destination was now different
Cruise companions became beligerent
Upset travellers, there were many
To avoid them we were ready

Of cyclones and Mother Nature
There are no forces that are greater
Than those imagined by our creator

So the weather became our curator
Forced to travel south again
We still encountered pelting rain
I wish we could travel by plane

Will not make the mistake again

© Hamish McKenna

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New Novel In Progress

new novel

New Novel In Progress

Below is an excerpt from one of the new novels I am working on, chapter 8, scene 2.

“We want this guy as much if not more than you do.”


“He has been implicated in various violent crimes, drug running, extortion etc. You name it and he has probably done it.”

“What I propose is for you to return home and let him come to you. We can put officers in your neighbours houses. You sit tight in your home. Or at least that’s what he will think you are doing. We have a WPC who has similar build as yourself plus her hair is the same colour and length as yours. When she arrives at your home we will let it out on the grapevine that you are back.”

“We can also offer you protection by the means of providing you with a new identity and relocation of you and your sons to another area.”

“Do I get to choose where I move to?”

“Of course.”

“So what will happen to the policewoman? I mean she could get hurt.”

“WPC Haley Dodd is a very capable woman, so do not concern yourself there. The moment Grady breaks into your home we move in and arrest him for home invasion with intent to do harm. That gets him off the streets while your case comes to court.”

“What about bail? He will come for us as soon as he is out on bail, won’t he?

“The first thing we need to do is for you to collect your kids and let us place you in protective custody. I have already convinced DCI Higgins that it will be worth the cost of the man-hours involved in such an operation.”

“WPC Dodd will drive your car of course.”

“So you are telling me that my children and I need to be virtually imprisoned for this to work,” stated Kathleen.

“Better to do this than have him or his thugs get to you.”

Kathleen sat in silence for a while and then said, “I need to think about this. I can not make a decision like this immediately.”

Bill handed her his card, “Call me when you decide. But please do not do anything rash.”

Kathleen took the outstretched card, “Am I free to go now?”

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Fighting Bushfires



Waking to the urgent sound of the notification tone on his mobile phone at 5am his heart initially sank. The tone was the one that told him in an instant that there was a bushfire emergency nearby.

As a member of the Volunteer Fire service, he dressed quickly and made his way to the fire station. Most of the crew were already there and as soon as the last arrived they were briefed on what was occurring.

A fire had broken out 20k’s from town and the wind was blowing it towards the town. There was a chance of the wind changing to a more westerly direction as dawn broke which would help. But it was not guaranteed.

They donned their gear and piled into the tender setting off in a tense silence through a town still mostly asleep. But they could already smell smoke in the air and braced themselves for the war they were about to wage.

They are not called firefighters for any old reason. They are called that as they go to war each time there is a fire. They all know the grim truth that they may not all return to their families. Yes, some of them could lose their lives fighting the fire. Yet they still do it.

Voluntarily. Such is the courage of our Volunteer Fire service.

Battling bushfires is not easy. The heat that it may generate is enough to kill you long before the first flame reaches you and melts your flesh.

An Australian bushfire is a demon in disguise. It can jump roads and rivers, travel at incredibly fast speeds. At 27km per hour, no man can outrun a bushfire.

It is able to “seed” itself by casting embers into the sky that are carried hundreds of metres or even kilometres ahead. It can even generate its own weather pattern. There are tornadoes of flame that reach 15m or more.

Fighting Bushfires

Small bushfires are fought by wetting them with water from either a tender of from an aircraft. Firefighters try to create breaks in the fuel supply by stripping the undergrowth from an area ahead of the fire front. This drops the intensity of the fire giving the firefighters a better chance of getting in control of the situation.

If the fire is too intense for this method (fire intensity is measured in the number of kilowatts of energy at the fire front, I do not know quite how this is achieved) then it fought indirectly. Fire breaks are made by bulldozing strips of land and forest. Water bombers are employed to drop tons of water on the fire front at each pass. There are both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft used to do this. They may drop a red fire retardant instead, sometimes on homes in order to save them.

Should the fire get even worse, and the battle is being lost, then an alert goes out to mobile phones (of residents who have signed up for this). There are regular updates on local radio and the fire service website. Even door-knocking is employed.

One more method used is “back-burning”. Areas ahead of the fire are deliberately lit by fire crews and a controlled burn takes place. When the fire front reaches the back-burnt area it will be starved of fuel. This method is not always successful as embers from the bushfire can be blown further ahead of the area igniting spot-fires which themselves can rapidly spread and increase in intensity.

Our volunteer fire-fighters continually put their lives on the lie to save us, our stock, our machinery, our homes and even our very lives.

To our fire-fighters, I congratulate all of you on your bravery and dedication. I believe each and every you of them should get a medal and be paid tax-free for time spent in the war against fire.

A novel by Hamish McKenna

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