Download the Floodfish Community Service Booklet

In 2014 Ernest Gilbert Wilson, aka Uncle Peter wrote his autobiography.  It is a great true story about a man who lived an amazing life.  Ernie passed away peacefully at Greenslopes Hospital on Sunday, 27 March 2016.  The rest of the words are his.

Autobiography of Ernest Gilbert Wilson 2014 with pictures (PDF)


Ernest Gilbert Wilson. B.Sc Hons (1958, Qld), M.Sc. (1965, AMJ)

Some members of the family have told me that I have had an interesting life and should write the stories that I have told them. I don’t want to write a boring chronological series of events, but will select those that might be interesting.

I had four dominant interests throughout my life; and they get interwoven at various times:

My family, before and after marriage, Music, Flying and Geology.

I was born at MacDonald Nursing Home at Highgate Hill, Brisbane on 12th August 1923.

Dad was headmaster at Milora State School, a school of two teachers, the second being Miss Sanderson; my sisters Beryl and Melva were 11 and 10 years old respectively, and like all Mums, my mother thought I was the most wonderful baby on earth; of course she was always right.

If you try to find Milora in the Brisbane valley near Boonah you will be wasting your time as it no longer exists, although I believe there is a property of that name there.

I was named Ernest Gilbert Wilson, the same as my father, and a few years later I got sick of responding whenever Mum called “Ernie”, and finding that she wanted not me, but Dad. To a spoilt three year old that was most frustrating, so I told them to call me “Peter”, after my little sponge rubber doll of that name.

Dad was born at home in a house next to the old pub at Kedron Park in 1882. His father owned the hotel and not long after they sold it and bought the Wellington Point Hotel and he spent his early years sailing and fishing whenever he could get away from doing the chores at home, He was the second eldest of twelve children in the family so there were plenty of chores. When Ben, the youngest was born, Dad was 22 and at that time was teaching in schools at various parts of North Queensland.      I can remember when Ben got married and we had a photo of the wedding party at home, but the two brothers had very little contact.

Dad considered growing up at Wellington Point was the greatest childhood that anyone could ask for; sailing on the bay out to Green Island, fishing, walking the shores at low tide looking for soldier crabs, hermit crabs, rock oysters, mussels, welks, and digging for yabbies and worms for bait.     He was a robust young fella, whereas his elder brother Arthur was slightly built and did not have good health; Dad’s instructions were to look after Arthur if ever he was unwell, and ensure that anyone bullying Arthur was taken care of, which I believe he did rather efficiently, though he did not boast of any such exploits.

Dad’s mate was Henry Ziegenfusz and in those days alarm clocks must have been in short supply or nonexistent. Henry lived in a large two-storey house; his family were well off and had a maid who slept on the top floor. In order to wake her up, she tied string to her toe and hung it out the window down to the ground so that the gardener could wake her up in the morning with a few gentle tugs on the string.       The boys were early risers and on this morning for a bit of fun, heaved on the string and almost pulled the poor girl out of the window and fastened the string and took off. They were then too scared to go home for hours, but when Henry eventually appeared, he got the devil of a hiding.

Grandad Wilson was born in UK and according to Dad, ran away to sea in Edinburgh

because they were going to send him to the Blue Coat School. Supposedly he boarded his sailing ship to be met by the cabin boy who tried to fend him off which led to a fight stopped by the Captain, who decided that he would have two cabin boys, and his sailing career began. However, there are other stories about him leaving from London as you will read later on, but the real truth is now buried in the past.

After many years at sea during which the two cabin boys and the Captain spent a night in Valparaiso Gaol after being caught in a dingy in the middle of the night smuggling drugs. When the gold rush started in Victoria, he along with thousands of others deserted ship in Melbourne and took off for the goldfields.     Later he made his way north to the NSW goldfields and later still further north into Queensland as far as Rockhampton. Whether he was a successful miner is not known, although he had considerable savings at one time invested and lost it all in the South Seas Bubble and other get rich scams.

He left Queensland and went to the California goldfields, returning to Sydney much later. Whilst waiting for a haircut in Sydney, he was reading one of the periodicals and came across an advertisement asking anyone knowing the whereabouts of John Wilson who went to sea in …….Kindly contact sister the UK   etc. John then wrote his sister, relatives in UK are scarce. The best information was supplied by my Uncle Arthur, the eldest son, who circulated a letter within the family setting out his understanding of Grandad’s early years and some information concerning the relatives in UK.

Grandad Wilson married Anne Butterfield when she was 18 and Dad thought Grandad was 42 at that time, but he always kept his age a secret for some reason. We suspect that he lowered his age on his marriage certificate. The only thing we know about the time from when he went to sea until he married is that he sailed clipper ships from Melbourne around the Horn to UK.

The eldest on the family of twelve, Arthur, decided to become a teacher and went for the exam and started his teaching career which eventually saw him establish the Gatton Agricultural College and on retirement was Principal at Toowoomba Technical College. Dad decided to follow in his footsteps and two years later went to do the exam and was rejected; he was given all the school copybooks and told to go away and come back when he could write properly.

His handwriting was excellent from that time on, and he was accepted and sent to his first school, Coolgarra, a tin mining town at that time on the Atherton Tableland that is now deserted and merely contains the stamper mill and is located to the northeast of Herberton… Ben died a few years ago at the age of 96 and gave a dinner to all the relatives he could find. I attended and it was a great reunion.

I was born on 12th August 1923 and grew up at Sandgate and attended Boondall Primary School where Dad was the Head Master of the small 3-teacher school.

I went to Brisbane State High School in 1937 and matriculated in 1940.

Next stop was Teachers Training College where I first met Mr Gripp, a tousled old man in a tweed jacket smoking a rather foul pipe, and for the first time found an understanding of the English language. In December 1941 after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour, I joined the RAAF and was on the reserve until called up in June 1942.

RAAF 1942-1945

I studied Navigation at Cootamundra from September to December 1942, where we flew in AvroAnson twin engine aircraft; that was followed by Bombing and Gunnery at West Sale from December, 1942 to March 1943 flying in Fairey Battle single engine bombers that were rather famous for engine failure and forced landings; we then studied Astro Navigation at Parkes, NSW, March to end of April 1943. The first week at Parkes was were confusing, the second week we started to understand it and at the end of the month we finally felt confident.

With many others I departed Brisbane on the Willard A. Holbrook troopship on 5th May 1943 and disembarked in SanFrancisco 21 days later, boarded a train and travelled in Pullman Car luxury across the USA for 6 days to Camp Myles Standish in Massachusetts. The fascinating scenery of the Royal Gorge as we passed through the Rockies will never be forgotten. We had three day leave in New York where I saw at the Hurricane Nightclub, and the Rockettes performing at the Rockfeller Centre.

We boarded the Queen Elizabeth in June 1943 in New York and zigzagged across the

Atlantic at 26 knots, too fast for torpedoes from the U-Boats, and landed in Scotland at Gourock 6 days later along with about 24,000 others mainly US Army personnel.


In UK, after more navigation training, I was posted to a refresher navigation course at Halfpenny Green near Wolverhampton, then Operational Training Unit at Wing and Little Horwood near Aylesbury where we crewed up with a pilot, Navigator, Wireless Operator and Rear Gunner and trained on Wellington Bombers. My training was as an Observer which included Navigation and Bombing and Gunnery; however, the RAF in its wisdom decided that it was too much for one person and so all observers were split up into Navigators and Bomb aimers. As my surname initial was “W”, I was in the L to Z bunch and operated as a Bomb aimer.

We then were posted to Stradishall in Norfolk where we converted on to the Stirling 4-engined Bomber for a month. The Stirling was a big 4-engine bomber that handled like a spitfire at low altitudes, but wallowed like a hippopotamus above 13000 feet and that was fare too low for bombing Germany; that was followed by a quick 1-week conversion on to the Lancaster Bomber at Feltwell, also in Norfolk. The Lancaster bomber was the perfect mug’s aircraft; you could pull off the throttles, lower the wheels and put on full flap ands the aircraft would stall and then drop away until it stalled again; if you did that in a Halifax it would immediately flip into a downward spiral.

We were posted to 115 Squadron at Witchford near Ely, flying Lancasters. Shortly after our arrival there we were posted to the Australian Squadron, 460, at Binbrook in Lincolnshire, where our commander was Group Captain Hughie Edwards, the most decorated man in the RAF. He later became Governor of Western Australia.

Our Tour of operations started shortly after D-Day, 6th June 1944, and we completed 30 operational flights over German-occupied Europe and finished our tour of duty on 4th October 1944. My skipper was Neville Twyford and we became the best of friends. During our 30 operatioons we bombed railway yards at Vierzon, Orleans, Dijon, Tours, Revigny; we bombed the E-Boat Pens at LeHavre and Boulogne, Gelsenkirchsen in the Ruhr, oil refinery at Pauillac, Bordeaux, the towns of Stettin, Frankfurt and Russelheim, and many Flying Bomb Launching Sites in France.

On operations we were shot up many times and survived. One moonlit night after bombing Russelheim, a ME 109 saw us silhouetted against the clouds and put cannon holes in our starboard fuel tank. Some time later the Engineer stated that we did not have enough fuel to cross the English Channel. It was after D Day and the allies had invaded France. We spotted a Sandra Airfield Identification light and descended to find a flarepath. Bill the Navigator assured us that we were behind our own lines and so we landed. The controls to the starboard outer motor had been shot away and we veered off the flarepath across a paddock and came to a stop eventually. The airfield was Carpiquet near Caen; the Sandra light I saw was only being tested, the flarepath had been operational for only 20 minutes, we had landed downwind and could have collided with a Beaufighter nightfighter that had taken off in the opposite direction. We were flown back to UK a few days later.


Our crew broke up after our 30 operation and we went to various training establishments as instructors. I was posted to Navigation training School at Llandwrog in North Wales. In late June 1945 I was posted to RAAF Brighton and joined a group that boarded the passenger liner/troopship “Andes” in Liverpool and had a luxurious holiday at sea sailing home to Australia via Panama and Wellington, arriving home in late July 1945.

University of Queensland 1946-1947

After a short stint of teaching at Sandgate Primary School at the end of 1945,1 took

advantage of post-war University training and enrolled in Engineering and completed the first two years of the 4-year course. I had intended to become a mechanical engineer. I married Melodie Pemberton on 6th December 1947, and found that we could not live on the scholarship allowance of 5 Pounds a week so I joined my father-in-law’s staff as a book-keeper at the factory manufacturing fancy woodwork from Queensland timbers, such as grandfather clock cases, cutlery canteens, jewellery boxes, cigarette boxes and many other small highly polished items. Unfortunately my father-in-law did not think that all sales should go through the books that I was trying to keep, so I had to find a way out of the dilemma. I quickly polished up my Navigation, obtained a Flight Navigator’s Licence in December 1948, and joined my skipper, Neville Twyford, who was a Co-pilot in British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines flying between Sydney and Auckland to Vancouver and San Francisco on DC6, 4- radial-engine, propeller driven aircraft.

British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines 1949-1950

The crew consisted of 3 pilots, a Navigator, Radio-operator and three Hostesses. Flying time to the USA was 30 hours with stops to refuel at Fiji, Canton Island and Honolulu. The Navigator, radio-operator and Hostesses would change at Fiji and take the next aircraft two days later as far as Honolulu. After two days there we would fly to the San Francisco and Vancouver, and on the following day return to Honolulu. The three pilots only staged at Honolulu. As you might imagine it was the best job I have ever had and I continued until December 1950. The change was required because navigators were being replaced by inertial navigation systems, and aircrew life is not compatible with the happy companionship of married life if your wife is on her own for three weeks at a time and you are only home for two weeks between trips.

Department of Civil Aviation 1951-1958

After a short period as a clerk in the Taxation Department, I transferred to the Department of Civil Aviation as an Air Traffic Controller and was based at the Area Control Centre at Archerfield in Brisbane. We controlled enroute aircraft between Kempsey and Townsville and stacked them up on arrival for the Tower Controllers at the Airfields. We worked shifts and I found that it would be possible for me to continue at the University part-time and study Geology II and Geology III, which I did and with my Engineering credits I completed a Science Degree. I continued with an Honours thesis in 1958 and moved to Canberra to join the Bureau of Mineral Resources as a Geologist.

Bureau of Mineral Resources 1958-1965

My work at the Bureau was as an Engineering Geologist and Hydrogeologist. I also was the Map Editor for almost every geology map produced by the Bureau and we covered all of Northern Australia from the parallel of Latitude that passed through Shark Bay in Western Australia, and all maps had to join adjacent maps accurately showing the formations as they passed from one map to the next. In some ways, we were regarded as Nit-Pickers but the field geologists were generally appreciative of our efforts. Each geologist had a 250,000 map sheet that covered about 14,000 square miles and he would probably take 4 years to complete it; however, in that time his ideas would evolve so that the early mapping of units did not always match his formational boundaries at a later date. I also mapped the geology of Canberra in considerable detail at 1:50,000 scale. During that time the Bendora Dam, the Scrivener Dam were constructed, the latter dammed the water forming Lake Burley Griffin in the Centre of Canberra.

The undergraduate University of Canberra was established as an adjunct to the Melbourne University in 1960, and I became the first part-time post-graduate student there and completed a Masters Degree in Geology in 1965 shortly before it became part of the Australian National University. It was only then that I considered myself to be a competent geologist who could be dropped down anywhere in the world and feel at home with the local geology.

Department of Defence 1965-1972

I was still a Grade I Geologist in 1965 partly because I was unable to undertake fieldwork in Northern Australia and be away for six months each year because of sickness in the family. I transferred to the Joint Intelligence Organisation in the Department of Defence where I worked as a military geographer during the Vietnam War. The work involved detailed photo-interpretation as well as a watching brief on the economic geology and developments in South East Asia, Indonesia and New Guinea.

In 1970 Papua New Guinea was still administered by Australia, and the Indonesian Army was chasing West New Guinea dissidents across the border into Papua-New Guinea. Nobody on the ground would have known where the border was because there were only five survey points across the boundary from south to north and it would have needed a surveyor to find them. The Australian Government decided that the border area should be mapped and I got the job. Earlier maps were coloured where they thought the mountains were and blue lines for rivers, but they were completely useless on the ground. Australian Army officers had been leading patrols throughout Papua New Guinea for years and kept excellent logbooks and had drawn maps as they saw it on the ground as they visited the villages and helped train villagers in health and hygiene. Their reports were invaluable in drawing up the map.

The Bureau of Mineral Resources provided the basic graticules for the maps, and most of the work was air photo interpretation, but there were no survey points located on the air photos that would allow the photo interpretation to be placed accurately within the graticule.

Another problem in the highlands was the fact that some photographs were cloud covered.

The only way to fill in the gaps quickly, if not with the greatest accuracy, was to go to New Guinea, fly up the valleys below the cloud, and take photo overlaps with a 35 mm camera. I went to Vanimo on the northwest coast and Bill Hutchison flew me in a Britain Northern Islander twin-engine aircraft to the highlands where we flew up the Om valley and then crossed over the divide to fly down the mountainous valley of the Strickland to where it joined the Fly River. He later flew me to Port Moresby, but on the way we had to refuel at Wabag. We had to find the pass between Telefomin and Wabag. As we flew just under the cloud looking for the gap into Wabag with the treetops immediately below flashing up through gaps in the cloud, I experienced the most frightening experience of my flying career.

We found the Gap.

The pilot, Bill Hutchison, died a few months later taking a party of geologists and geophysicists into the Nomad Area in a Beechcraft Baron when fog closed the strip he was heading for. There is no doubt in my mind that New Guinea is the most dangerous country in the world for flying.

The border maps were completed and I was given the task of continuing the work and covered the whole of Papua New Guinea. The maps were subsequently amended when the Army Survey Corps completed their geodetic work and are now in the public arena.

I was one of two civilians in Defence who were included in the first Defence Force Staff College Course in 1970 for an intensive two months that included visits to a number of major industrial complexes, a day aboard the Guided Missile destroyer “Sydney”, now submerged off the Australian coast, and a trip by Hercules to New Guinea, then Indonesia as a guest of the Indonesian Military and Singapore as a guest of the Singapore Army. I met a number of the Royal Australian Regiment Colonels who had commanded the battalions in Vietnam and have the greatest respect for their work, and their concern for the wellbeing of those they commanded.

Bureau of Mineral Resources 1972-1981

In 1972 I moved back to the Bureau of Mineral Resources and later that year was in charge of the Engineering Geology and Hydrology Section until I retired in 1982. In 1974 I attended the International Rock Mechanics Conference in Sao Paulo in Brazil and the Soil Mechanics Conference in Denver USA. The post conference tour in USA included visits to a number of famous landslips and rock avalanches in the Rockies.

Canberra expanded considerably during this period and the section completed very detailed geological mapping of all the new and projected suburbs for Canberra. The investigation and construction of the Googong Dam, the Tuggeranong Sewer Tunnel and the Belconnen Sewer tunnel were major projects in the period. An outstanding investigation of large swampy areas and the design of drainage for such areas was a most technically complex and demanding task carried out by Jim Kellett who developed hydrogeological modelling to an advanced state and was later responsible for modelling of the Murray-Darling Basin and the Great Artesian Basin, compiling the results, and preparing the publications.

Post 1981

I retired in August 1981 because my wife was in poor health. I became a groundwater consultant mainly concerned with the siting and construction of water bores in a working partnership with Charles Braybrook, a Geophysicist who prior to retirement headed the groundwater section of the Northern Territory Geological Survey and was responsible for providing water bores throughout the Territory. He was highly regarded for his work, and I consider him to have been the best groundwater geophysicist in the world. Charles Braybrook died in 2009.

I ceased consulting in 1985. After Melodie died in 1992 I moved to Brisbane. In 2009, I discovered the University of the Third Age (U3A) and attended some courses, and as they did not have a geology class, I became a Geology tutor in 2010. This raised the question of what to teach with no rock, mineral or crystal samples, no microscopes etc. I decided they would want to know how the Earth formed and how the landscapes we see about us came about and I did it for two years.

Community Service

In 1973 the Labour party won the Federal Election and Gough Whitlam became Prime Minister. Free medical services were introduced and the first Health Centre was built in Narrabundah, ACT. I became Chairman of the Narrabundah Health and Community Council. Our committee consisted of three community and three Health Centre staff members. The staff stated that because Narrabundah had cheap government houses and the tenants were generally single parents with children, there was a need for child care , and with the help of the local member, Ros Kelly, we acquired a house and started the first child care centre.

Denise Seddon was the Secretary Administrator of the Health Centre and she was the person who solved all problems of cooperation between the doctors, practice nurses, community nurses and social workers.

Basic Assumption

I found that the basic assumption that the Earths radius has not changed was based on the Equivalence Principle derived from General Relativity. Further reading showed that the Equivalence Principle has been challenged from a number of satellite experiments, that GPS is based on Lorentzian Relativity and not General or Special Relativity, that a number of experiments measuring the velocity of Light have found that velocity changes as the direction of measurement changes (Reg Cahill, Adelaide Uni. 2006), that the measurement of most physical constants are accurate to 0.001 per cent whereas the Gravitational Constant shows a variation in measurement of 0.05 per cent accuracy that is no better than that determined by Cavendish in 1798. An Aerospace Engineer, Xavier Borg of Blaze Laboratories USA, considers that the measurements of the Gravitational Constant were accurate and measure gravity according to the velocity of the Earth through Space at the time of measurement.

I decided that an alternative assumption that the Earth had been expanding ever since the oceans opened 200Ma should be investigated. Prior to 200 Ma, I assumed that the continents completely enclosed the underlying mantle; however, it does not mean that I believe that the Earth has always been expanding. The Earth revolves around the Sun in a year at 30 km/sec and the Solar system revolves around the centre of the Galaxy (Sagittarius “A”) in 226 Ma at 250 km/sec. If the direction of rotation of the Earth is the same as that of the Galaxy, then the velocity of the Earth is 280 km/sec, and if the Earth is moving in the opposite direction the velocity is 220 km/sec. It follows that the Earth’s velocity increases for 113 Ma and decreases during the next 113 Ma. The relationship between Velocity, Mass and the Gravity is as follows; Mass increases as Velocity increases and Gravity decreases as Velocity increases. As Gravity decreases the Earth expands for 113 Ma and then contracts for the next 113 Ma.(Borg, 2008). It goes without saying that many in mainstream Physics regard both Cahill and Borg as idiots; some of the comments make me wonder who the real idiots might be.

Earth’s Expansion

A problem for geologists has been to explain the presence of volcanic rock and granites in geosynclines that they believed were initially formed by compression. If the Earth’s enveloping crust is placed in tension by expansion of the mantle, the Earth fractures to form faults and a major fault may form a Rift Valley with mantle basalt exposed in the valley floor as the Rift widened. The floor of the valley then rises to restore isostatic equilibrium; volcanics and granites intrude sediment that has fallen into the Rift and compress sediment against the sides of the valley to form folds and faults; heat transforms sedimentary minerals to metamorphic rock minerals.

Opening the Oceans

Opening of the oceans took place over the last 200 Ma in three ways.

  1. A major rift in the Earth’s Crust near the Philippines slowly spread to the north as the Rift widened into an ocean over the next 95 Ma. The initial opening of the Rift saw huge amounts of basalt released within the re-entrant between the Philippines and Taiwan as excess pressure in the mantle was released. By the time the Rift reached the Bering Sea, stress in the underlying mantle was for expansion to the south, and as the Pacific ocean widened the Rift extended south across the Equator into the southern hemisphere. The ocean floor rose to re-establish isostatic equilibrium and left a trench adjacent to the continents.
  2. At some time, possibly around 100 Ma, the huge volume of basic rock in the re-entrant between the Philippines and Taiwan became unstable and toppled across the adjacent trench to disintegrate and gouge its way across the floor of the Pacific and the volcanic debris finally came to rest to the east of the Kyushu-Palau Ridge. The bulk of the material at the forefront of the avalanche moved 2300 km and came to rest as the Mariana-Bonin Arc where it sank into the ocean floor to a depth of 15 km and a Trench formed to the East of the
  1. Kusznir and Ziegler (1979) showed that Basins located marginally around continents had a floor of faulted continental crust within which sediments were deposited prior to the Pacific Rift, probably between 198-100 Ma. When pressure in the mantle increased, one or more of the faults in the continental crust forming the floor of the basin between North America and Africa / Europe opened and basalt intruded the overlying sediments and flowed on to the seafloor; the breakthrough released large amounts of basalt on to the seafloor until excess pressure in the mantle was dissipated, after which the sides of the basin moved apart as the mantle expanded, basalt flowed from the Rift and the mid-Atlantic Ridge formed from 100 Ma to the present day.
  1. The third process is more complex. It started in the southern hemisphere where the Pacific Ocean formed a V-shaped wedge that ended at a point where Tasmania, New Zealand, East and West Antarctica and South America were joined together. Between the east coast of South America, that at that time faced the South Pole, and West Antarctica, Rifted Basins lay beneath the Amundsen and Bellingshausen Seas.
  2. The Balleny Fault opened between East and West Antarctica; it was a right lateral transcurrent fault and it moved West Antarctica 2300 km to its present position in relation to West Antarctica.
  1. As the move took place, New Zealand pulled away to the East from Tasmania opening the Tasman Sea, between 40 M and the present day; eastern Australia rotated anticlockwise relative to West Antarctica and opened the area to the southwest of Tasmania to the Pacific Ocean, and Pacific-type basalt forms the sea floor of that area..
  1. To the East of the Balleny Fault, South America moved 2300 km to the south and widened the South Pacific Ocean over a period of time starting at 40 Ma to the present. The Pacific Ocean widened as it was pulled apart across a Rift located along the trench adjacent to South America. The Rift extended and widened to become the South East Pacific Ridge.
  1. Faults in the floor of the Amundsen and Bellingshausen Seas were pulled apart as the mantle continued to expand and South America was released from West Antarctica, and right lateral movement along the fault transported South America to the East.
  1. Movement of South America to the East ceased when another right-lateral Fault beneath the Weddell Sea opened up and initiated formation of the South Atlantic mid-ocean Ridge as South Africa moved to the East.
  1. The South East Pacific Ridge now changed direction and opened to the North, intercepting the west coast of North America at the Gulf of California; and an offshoot of the Ridge, the Chilean Ridge, intercepted the coast of South
  1. When an expanding ridge intercepts continents such as South America and North America, the expanding stress from the Ridge is transferred to the continent where the Stress is accommodated by rotational movement along pre-existing faults.
  2. In the acute angle of interception in North America, ridge expansion backfilled the Central America Trench to the north of Guatemala. In the obtuse angle of interception north of the Gulf of California, Ridge expansion dragged the inner slope of the North American Trench over 400 km to the West.
  1. The acute angle of interception of the Chilean Ridge with the Chile Trench backfilled the trench to the south of Santiago, and in the obtuse angle to the South of the intersection, the inner slope of the trench was pulled over 400 km to the West.
  1. Similar processes to the above separated India and Australia from Antarctica.


The three processes are:

1          Rifting of the continental crust;

2          Rifting in a pre-existing Rifted Basin where the Rift is on the seafloor.

3          Transcurrent movement in Polar Regions after faults have been pulled apart by polar expansion.


Ernie Wilson.


For sale is a 1986 steel Frame Apollo V, updated with Ultegra 10 speed, the frame, forks, seatpost, bar, stem and headset are all from the late 80′s.

The frame is made by Kuwahara using ishiwata quad butted tubing, the frame has a 580mm top tube and seat tube.  The top tube is the traditional parallel to the ground configuration.

Full specifications below.

Restored Apollo V 1986
Restored Apollo V 1986
Restored Apollo V 1986
Restored Apollo V 1986
Grey with grey and grey.
Grey with grey and grey.



58cm Apollo V steel frame and fork, made by Kuwaraha using ishiwata quad butted tubing.
Powder coated by Roberto’s Custom Powder, silver with gloss black, resulting in gun metal grey, with a high gloss finish
Stronglight needle bearing headset
Cinelli 120mm quill stem
Cinelli 44cm bar
Fizzik Silver/grey handle bar tape
Shimano Ultegra SL 6600 Gear and Brake Levers (10 speed)
Shimano Ultegra SL 6600 Rear Deraileur (10 speed)
Shimano Ultegra SL 6600 Front Deraileur (10 speed)
FSA SL-K Light Carbon Fibre Crankset
FSA Mega EXO Bottom Bracket (english thread) – BRAND NEW
Shimano Ultegra SL 6600 Front and Rear Brake Calipers
Shimano R500 Wheelset
Maxxis Detonator 700 x 25c Tyres
Campagnolo Micro Adjust set post
Selle Italia Seat



Classic Quill Cinelli Stem with Classic Cinelli Bars
Classic Quill Cinelli Stem with Classic Cinelli Bars
Cinelli Bar and Quill Stem
Cinelli Bar and Quill Stem
Shimano Ultegra drivetrain with FSA Carbon Fibre crankset
Shimano Ultegra drivetrain with FSA Carbon Fibre crankset
Ultegra 10 speed
FSA SL-K Light Carbon Fibre Crankset
FSA SL-K Light Carbon Fibre Crankset
Shimano Ultegra Front Brakes, Stronglight Headset
Shimano Ultegra Front Brakes, Stronglight Headset
Shimano Ultegra Rear Brakes
Shimano Ultegra Rear Brakes
Maxxis Detonator 700 x 25c Tyres
Maxxis Detonator 700 x 25c Tyres
Campagnolo Seat Post
Campagnolo Seat Post

Some recent activity from a few volunteers and the Fraser Island Defenders Organisation has resulted in the first public weather station on Fraser Island, in Queensland Australia.  Not only is this weather station public, but it is ONLINE, uploading data every 20 seconds!

You can see all this at: Weather Observations Happy Valley

The idea is from John Sinclair, who knows we need to monitor the environment to determine the impacts.  Rainfall is a significant factor in the Fraser Island ecology, as it is everywhere.  John’s initial requirement was to collect rainfall data, but after some quick research and design discussions, it was determined that using a David Vantage Vue weather station, we could cost effectively monitor many aspects of weather, including:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Barometric Pressure
  • Rainfall
  • Rainfall Rate
  • Windspeed
  • Wind Direction

The smarts for the system was developed by Alex with the details available here: a beagle among the dingos: the first online weather station for fraser island. Not only did Alex volunteer his time and expertise, but he has made the whole solution Open Source, which is pretty cool.  People can use this work to make their own online weather station anywhere they want to.

The weather station is installed at Fraser Island Retreat at Happy Valley, they kindly donated the space for the weather station with line of sight to the local 3G mobile tower, and their time and staff to help get it set up.

Some photos below, the final units, along with the location and Alex and John at the base of the ~4M pole!

IMG_7765 IMG_7763 IMG_7761 IMG_7756


I picked up the phone and was told that there had been an explosion at the Cinema Centre in Canberra and that a man had been killed. We were asked to investigate. The picture below shows the Old Cinema Centre in the centre of the picture and the Dendy Cinema Centre of today in the top right hand corner and a petrol station was located opposite but to the left.


I had mapped the excaavation on which the Cinema was built shortly after my arrival in Canberra. In the north wall there was a depression in the top of weathered clayey mudstone that was filled with gravel and water was leaking from the gravel during and after rain. After the Cinema was built water ponded behind the north wall and algae grew in the sump inside the building.

The management realised that there was ponding of water and drilled a hole in the wall to allow the water to enter the sump and then pumped into the stormwater drain.

During rain the water level rose until it flowed through the hole into the sump; however. Petrol also flowed in through the hole.

The plumber was called in to install a pump to remove the water. When the plumber lit his blowtorch the pertol exploded; he was knocked unconcious and fell into the sump and drowned in three inches of water.



Having identified the problem, a number of observation holes were drilled and all contained petrol. The obvious source of the petrol was from the Service Station opposite. X-ray diffraction tests showed that the petrol in the holes was similar to that at the Service Station, but had lost some of its aromatic components.

A three foot diameter hole was driklled into the gfravel in front of the Cinema; the hole was backfilled with clay and the hol.e in the wall was sealed.

The next task was to remove the petrol. A three foot diameter hole was drilled nearby and a skimmer installed in the hole. The skimmer is a cylinder of stainless steel with the bottom set in the groundwater. The cylinder is rotated and petrol that adheres to the staiknless steel is wiped off into a container. Although many gallons of petrol were removed petrol has been adsorbed by the clay soilthroughout the sujrrounding area and forty five percent of petrol adsorbed by the clay cannot be removed.

The foundations of buildings between the Cinema and Lake Burley Griffin will intercept petrol contaminated groundwater.

At the inquest in the Coroner’s Court, our report was presented. Steve, a hydrogeologist representing Mobil denied that the petrol came from the Seervice Station, but the Coroner accepted the results of our work and recommended that the remedial work be continued.

Steve and I went off to the Ainslie Pub for a beer.



E.G. Wilson,     14/7/2015





Robert Menzies was prime minister of Australia from 1949 to 1966, and was Australia’s longest-serving prime minister. Gough Whitlam led the Labour Party to power for the first time in 23 years at the 1972 election. He went on to win the 1974 election before being controversially dismissed by the Governor-General of Australia, Sir John Kerr, at the climax of the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis.

Lionel Murphy Australian politician and jurist, was Attorney-General in the government of Gough Whitlam and a Justice of the High Court of Australia from 1975 until his death. He drafted all legislation passed by the Whitlam Government which included:

  • improving the position of women and our indigenous population;
  • introducing Medibank, the precursor to Medicare;
  • needs-based funding for schools and free university education;
  • introducing the Trade Practices Act;
  • ending conscription;
  • diplomatic and trade relations with the People’s Republic of China.

Narrabundah had cheap fibrolite houses built for the workmen who initially built Canberra and the ACT administration placed single mothers and divorcees with children in them.  Roz Kelly was the Member for the ACT and she lobbied for a Health Centre to be established and it operated initially from an empty Doctor’s surgery, the baby health clinic, and one of the fibro houses. Plans for a health Centre were drawn by the National Capital Development Commission, funds were allocated and the Centre was built containing four doctor’s surgeries, a treatment room, an office for a Social Worker, a community nurses annex, and an administration centre where a Secretary-Administrator, Denise Seddon, controlled the overall operations of the Centre.

Narrabundah Health Centre - Now the Aboriginal Health Centre
Narrabundah Health Centre – Now the Aboriginal Health Centre


Child Care Cottage
Child Care Cottage

When the local Doctor left, my wife Melodie told me to go to the community meeting and get on the Committee to lobby for a Health Centre.  After a while members of the Committee drifted away and I became Chairman of the Narrabundah Health and Community Council.

Child Care Cottage
Child Care Cottage

The Staff told us that Child Care was required and we lobbied the Minister with the help of Roz Kelly and a Cottage was made available in Yamba Place. The Cottage was run by two retired schoolteachers and is still  serving the community today.

There was some opposition in the community to providing these services and the opposition stacked the next AGM and voted in a new Committee. A year later at the AGM, they said that there were only two children at the Cottage and closed it down. My old Committee members got together and lobbied Margaret Guilfoyle, the minister, and she turned the Cottage over to us. Within a fortnight it was running at full capacity with 22 children. Occasionally I would visit the local priest, Father Collins, and we would swap notes over a Scotch. We agreed that fundamentalists who ignore the needs of the community were a blot on society, and he commiserated with me.  He said “I won’t have a bar of them in my Church, and they try to undercut my authority all the time, but without success”.

The Health Centre is now the Aboriginal Health Centre and is providing a much needed service to the people of Narrabundah.

Denise Seddon and Peter Wilson, 2013
Denise Seddon and Peter Wilson, 2013 

E.G.Wilson,  12/07/2015

My first job in Canberra with the Bureau of Mineral Resources was logging drill core during the investigations for a dam that would turn the Canberra floodplain into a lake as envisaged by Walter Burley Griffin. The Canberra floodplain was about half a kilometre wide and the low level bridges were frequently flooded.

Molonglo River in flood , 1956.
Molonglo River in flood , 1956.
Burley Griffin original Design
Burley Griffin original Design

In 1911, a competition for the design of Canberra was launched by King O’Malley, Minister for Home Affairs, and Scrivener’s detailed survey of the area was supplied to the competing architects. Walter Burley Griffin won the Design Competition. Burley Griffin’s wife, Marion Mahony Griffin, also an architect, collaborated with him on the design competition entry, and is known to have prepared the design drawings that accompanied the Burley Griffin entry.

I attained a Science Degree in Geology with Honours at Queensland University in 1957 working on sediments to the southwest of Brisbane. I transferred to the Bureau of Mineral Resources in Canberra in May 1958 and felt the cold. I worked from an old military prefab hut that was also cold. I wore a greatcoat for 7 years, inside the office as well as outside until one day I felt hot and never wore it again. I was map editor for the maps of northern Australia, sited bores for farmers in the ACT and adjoining NSW, supervised drilling the bores and conducted pumping tests. I added my fieldwork observations to the geology of Canberra that had been published by Dr. A. Opik in 1954. Dr Opik had been the Professor of Geology at the University of Estonia and was a world authority on Trilobite fossils and he migrated to Australia after Russia invaded Estonia in 1939.

I had no understanding of the geology of Canberra where rocks had been deformed by complex folding and faulting and minerals had recrystallized to form low grade metamorphic minerals. When Melbourne University opened a Geology campus under Professor David Brown in Canberra in 1960, I was the first post-graduate student. I supervised practical work, attended all undergraduate lectures by Bruce Chappell,  Alan White and Mike Rickard and completed my Master’s thesis on the Farrer-Hoskinstown area in NSW in 1965.

Fairey Swordfish
Fairey Swordfish

Professor Brown was in UK at the beginning of World War II and was a pilot on Swordfish aircraft that attacked the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau with torpedoes as they steamed through the English Channel from Brest to Hamburg. After the war he translated the Geology of Russia into English.

Lake Burley Griffin

Excavations for Lake Burley Griffin began in 1960 and the entire lake floor was excavated to a depth of at least two metres to provide sufficient clearance for boat keels. Another reason given for this was that mosquitoes would not breed nor would weeds grow at such a depth. Clearing of vegetation removed trees from the golf course and along the river, and houses.

At least 382,000 cubic metres of topsoil was excavated and stockpiled for use at several public parks and gardens, including the future Commonwealth Park on the northern shore. It was also used to create the six artificial islands including Springbank Island. The island was named after the former Springbank Farm that was situated there. Land excavated to create a sailing course at Yarralumla was used to create the thematically-named Spinnaker Island to its north, while excavated stone was moved beside the Kings Avenue Bridge at the eastern edge of the central basin to form Aspen Island.

Rock on which the dam was to be built.

King’s Avenue Bridge construction
King’s Avenue Bridge construction

The photo shows the Southern end of Kings Avenue Bridge under construction with Australian War Memorial at far left and Mt. Ainslie, 1961

Site testing for both the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge (310 m and the Kings Avenue bridge took place during late 1959 to early 1960. The construction of the Kings Avenue Bridge (270 m) began in 1960, followed by Commonwealth Avenue Bridge the year after. They were designed to allow the passage of recreational sailing boats with tall masts.

Vertical retaining walls were built in the Central Basin, some beaches and grassy slopes were constructed and the natural foreshores were retained elsewhere.

Scrivener Dam

The dam was completed in 1964 and named after Scrivener. It was a monument to the man who first suggested the region as the most suitable for the new Australian Federal Territory. The dam’s purpose is to form the famous recreational water feature known today as ‘Lake Burley Griffin’ by effectively filling the floodplains of the Molonglo River on the ‘Limestone Plains’.


A number of geophysical traverses were shot across the valley and a site was chosen for the dam near Government House, Yarralumla. At the dam site clearing of vegetation and soil exposed the rock on which the dam was t o be built. Three major faults crossed the channel and a low angle fault sloping downstream indicated that the central section of the dam would be built on a block that could slide downstream. This was overcome by angling anchor cables upstream through the block.

Work on the lake and dam began in September 1960 and moved faster than expected, due to a drought. However when the dam was finished, nature took longer than expected to fill the lake. For nearly seven months there was just a trickle of water and a few pools which attracted mosquitoes—as the critics had predicted. A rowing championship scheduled for April 1964 looked doomed. Then the drought broke and the rains came. The lake filled in a few days uniting the two halves of the city to give shape and character to the Central National Area. Canberra was never again described as two villages separated by a floodplain


The concrete gravity dam is 33 metres high and 319 metres long with a five bay spillway controlled by 30.5 metre wide, hydraulically operated fish-belly flap gates with a total discharge capacity of 8 500 cubic metres a second. The German designed and built fish-belly gates are rare in Australia and allow for a precise control of water level. This is important in a recreational and ornamental lake because good water-level control eliminates a dead area between high and low water.

It took 55 000 cubic metres of concrete to build the dam. The maximum wall thickness is 19.7 metres. The dam holds back 33 million cubic metres of water with a surface area of 664 hectares (approximately seven square kms). The lake has a shoreline of 40.5 kms (with a recreational walking/cycle track around it) and is 11 kms long and up to 1.2 kms wide. As well as providing a recreation resource, the dam and lake have created important wetland habitats for native fish, birds and wildlife.

The dam provides flood control for the Molonglo-Queanbeyan section of the Murrumbidgee catchment and will be able to accommodate a one in 5 000-year flood. The only time in the dam’s history that all five gates were opened was in the flood of 1976.

Lake Burley Griffin from Mt. Ainslie
Lake Burley Griffin from Mt. Ainslie

E.G. Wilson,   8/07/2015

Googong Dam lies to the south of Queanbeyan, NSW, and is a water supply dam for Canberra.

Googong Dam is a minor ungated earth and rock fill dam with a clay core and a concrete chute spillway plus a nearby 13 metres (43 ft) high earth fill saddle embankment. It dams the Queanbeyan River upstream of Queanbeyan in New South Wales, Australia. The dam’s purpose is to provide a water supply for Canberra and Queanbeyan. The impounded reservoir is called the Googong Reservoir.

Googong Dam was created through enabling legislation enacted via the passage of the Canberra Water Supply (Googong Dam) Act, 1974 (Cth).[1]

Completed in 1979, the Googong Dam is located approximately 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) south of the town of Queanbeyan on the lower reaches of the river. The dam was built by Thiess based on designs developed by the Commonwealth Department of Construction; and is now managed by ACTEW Water.

The site for a dam on the Queanbeyan River had been identified and geophysical traverses were carried out by the Bureau of Mineral Resources in the 1950’s.  A cable was strung across river and a bosun’s chair used to cross to the other side of the river. The Supervising Geophysicist was Willy Weibenga, an irascible Dutchman, and Willy decided to go to cross the river on the bosun’s chair.  When he was halfway across, they disconnected the rope and Willy was unable to pull himself back. He remained suspended over the river gesturing and yelling curses in Dutch for a considerable period of time, and Charlie Braybrook and his mates relaxed and enjoyed the spectacle. The dam site and the catchment had been mapped by Mike Furstner, another Dutchman, before he resigned and went to Bougainville Mines. Foundation for the dam was irregularly jointed rhyodacite and  for the spillway in a nearby saddle was granite

The Engineer in Department of Works who designed the dam was Arne from Finland, whose surname I cannot remember.  Because the town of Queanbeyan was downstream, the safety of the residents had to be considered. Flooding might breach the dam walls during construction and send a wall of water downstream.


The first task was to construct a diversion tunnel for the river whilst the dam was constructed.   This was uneventful, apart from the initial opening of the tunnel where the enthusiastic powder monkey used too much gelignite and blew rock debris 50 metres across the river.  The site was cleared of all soil and debris with high pressure hoses.


The Googong Dam was to be an earth and rock fill dam. Joints in the underlying rock allow water to seep through and have to be sealed with a slurry of bentonite and cement known as grout.

A Curtain Grout establishes an impenetrable barrier along the centre line of a dam by pumping grout into deep holes.  A Blanket Grout seals joints beneath the dam by pumping grout into shallow holes.


The core must be bonded to clean rock with clay leaving no gaps whatsoever. Clay is then added and consolidated with rollers. If the bonding is slipshod then water will percolate through the foundation and the dam will fail.

I was in Idaho in 1974 when the Bureau of Reclamation was building the Teton Dam.  We were led over the site and saw the workmen setting clay on the rock and it was clear that they were not making a satisfactory bond between the clay and  rock.  As visitors we could not criticise but knew that the dam would fail which it did catastrophically in June 1975.

In the USA, the Corps of Engineers were responsible for building concrete dams in mountainous areas, and the Bureau of Reclamation for constructing earth and rock fill dams on the plains.  The Bureau of Reclamation ran out of sites for dams on the plains, and ventured into the foothills for the Teton Dam with disastrous result.

Clay core Windamere Dam



Teton Dam fails spectacularly



The Department of Works decided that they would construct the lower portion of Googong dam as standard earth and rock fill up to the point where failure of the dam would not endanger the town of Queanbeyan. Construction above that level had to ensure that the dam could be overtopped but would not fail. This was achieved by anchoring the downstream rock fill with a network of steel mesh. Three days of torrential rain filled the reservoir and overtopped the dam during construction, and it did not fail. I remember sitting on the abutment with Arne and watching the water pouring over the top of the dam and gushing through the diversion tunnel. (see photo below).

The dam was completed without problems and a spillway was constructed through an adjacent saddle.

Water overtopping Googong Dam during construction


Googong Dam Spillway


Successive flood events in 1978 and through the 1980s resulted in extensive erosion in the unlined section of the spillway chute. Staged remedial works were undertaken in the 1980s to protect the eroded structure, and increase in the capacity of the spillway, to meet extreme flood events.

The dam wall height is 66 metres (217 ft) and is 417 metres (1,368 ft) long. At 100% capacity the dam wall holds back 121,083 megalitres (4,276.0×106 cu ft) of water at 663 metres (2,175 ft) AHD. The surface area of Googong Reservoir is 696 hectares (1,720 acres) and the catchment area is 873 square kilometres (337 sq mi). The ungated concrete chute spillway is capable of discharging 10,500 cubic metres per second (370,000 cu ft/s).[2][4] Successive flood events in 1978 and through the 1980s resulted in extensive erosion in the unlined section of the spillway chute, including a large erosion hole, up to 19 metres (62 ft) deep and 25 metres (82 ft) wide, in the upper part of the spillway chute. Staged remedial works were undertaken in the 1980s to protect the eroded structure. Remediation of spillway facilities occurred during from 2006 through to 2010 that resulted in an increase in the capacity of the spillway, construction of walls in the spillway chute extension up to 17 metres (56 ft) high, and a range of other enhancements to meet extreme flood events.

E.G.Wilson,   01/07/2015


The first lecture I attended on Geology at Queensland University was delivered by Professor Bryan on the Grand Canyon.

The landscape is geologically young, being carved within just the last 6 m.y. when the East Pacific Rise intercepted the coast of California and uplifted the Basin and Range blocks to form the Rockies.

Three “Granite Gorges” in the bottom of the canyon expose crystalline rocks formed during the early-to-middle Proterozoic Era (late Precambrian). They were originally deposited as sediments and lava flows, and were intensely metamorphosed about 1,750 million years ago. Magma rose into the rocks, cooling and crystallising into granite, and welded the region to the North American continent.

Rocks exposed in the Grand Canyon range in age from 1840 million years old (m.y), to 270 m.y.  The 3,500 feet walls of sedimentary rock display a largely undisturbed cross section of the Earth’s crust extending back some two billion years.


Vigorous cutting by the snow-fed Colorado River carved the Canyon and widening is held in check by the region’s dry climate.


Kaibab Bright Angel Loop


I visited the south rim of the Grand Canyon in 1996. I was aged 73 at the time and had a replaced left hip and two replaced knees. I started from the South Kaibab Trailhead down the Kaibab Trail with a stout walking staff. The steps were over one foot (30 cm) deep and I continued until I reached the terrace in the Tonto Group at a depth of about 3,000 feet. On the way I was passed by a train of mules carrying those who preferred to do their sight-seeing the easy way. I turned left on to the loop trail (shown in purple on the sketch above) to take me across to Indian Gardens, another five miles and on this last stretch I ran out of water.  When I arrived at Indian Gardens, I lay on a bench exhausted and dehydrated and Kath poured water over me and then had lunch.  We climbed back up the Bright Angel Trail which is a fairly gentle climb on a path with no steps in the midst of a thunderstorm with hail the size of golf balls. I slept well that night..

E.G.Wilson, 23/06/2015