Great Discoveries

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AUSTRALIA was discovered, but not named, by Malcolm Keenan on the 22nd of February

1965. This was after a tortuous voyage on a Comet…..a plane which had developed a reputation for falling (like it’s namesake ) out of the sky without warning…. from his home in the capital of England. Indeed Malcolm was a long way from home and he had forked out 10 pounds for the trip!


But Australia was there waiting to be discovered and tamed and his sense of adventure had propelled him forwards heedless of all the incipient dangers of the voyage that his Dad and Mum, mainly his Mum, had warned him about.


Malcolm discovered Australia to be inhabited by a curious breed of people that spent most of their time sitting in the shade of large gums swilling the local beverage they called VB.

But this was the southern summer and fresh from England with his Pommy Pallor Malcolm decided to scorn the local custom and enjoy some of this new found warmth. Lying on a lilo on a lawn he soon lost his pallor and became a delightful shade of red. This was a delightful shade if you were contemplating a lobster but on a skinny explorer from England it was not that becoming and in fact become very painful. Malcolm soon after adopted the local customs.


In fact Malcolm adopted Australia and started widening his knowledge of the various local lifestyles when despatched by his commanding Bank Manager to the wilds of northern Australia.


JAMESTOWN was an eye opener for young Mal as the local tribe there were huge meat eaters, ably led by a large man who ran the local killing shop and was the elder of the local Rotary club. This club was a curious organisation of males who drank heaps of the local brews ate numerous bodies of sheep whenever they could in company with each other and then justified their leadership charter by giving lots of currency to the local community. The best of their rituals involved cooking meat on a hot plate in the open until black on the outside and red on the inner placing it between two slices of a type of bread, covering the offering in red sauce and then trying to eat it without dropping either sauce or the brew, which was held in the other hand, down a suitably loud shade of shirt. This task was sometimes made more difficult by adding onions or a salad to the meat. They called this a Barby and it became Malcolm’s favourite means of dining.

The important thing about Jamestown was that it’s peoples adopted Malcolm as a brother and it was here that he cemented the desire to live like a native in Australia.












PORT AUGUSTA was discovered by Malcolm  late in 1965 when the same  commanding Manager sent him even further north. Port Augusta was somewhat of a wild town where the local watering holes opened at 6am to cater for the people who finished unloading incoming ships at that time- and anyone else who wanted an  early drink..

The Spencer Gulf on which Port Augusta sits narrows at this point and Malcolm developed the habit of swimming across the gulf on nice sunny mornings of which there are a lot in Port Augusta, having a quick drink to take the salt water taste away from his palate and then walking back across the bridge to his lodgings in a native fibro home for breakfast. Breakfast was cooked by a friendly landlady, a local widow, and exposed Malcolm to more of the native fare such as crumbed lamb brains, devilled kidneys and loin chops.

Malcolm was getting fit with all this food but his skin tone only varied between peeling red and white depending on the seasons. Sun block hadn’t been invented yet.

He tried a local sport- Aussie Rules. This name seemed to Malcolm at the time to be an oxymoron as whenever he got near the ball he was either bumped over the fence or dumped on the ground and had to hand the ball back to the person that had just broken his ribs. He didn’t like playing the game but he did enjoy watching other people get the same treatment so he adopted the second great Australian pastime, barracking.

Despite his skinny frame he found he had a penetrating voice so he became quite a good barracker and only twice got into a fight with another barracker. These fights never amounted to much as Malcolm wore glasses and there was an unwritten rule then that other barrackers never hit someone with glasses on, glasses being perceived as a sign of weakness. This rule has since changed.

The Chief of all Australia had decided that on the 14th of February 1966 the local coin of exchange should change to a system based on how many fingers most normal people had, decimal currency, as a lot of the local New Australians were having trouble working out the old system. Malcolm was offered a place further south, helping people cope with this change  which he accepted.



MOUNT GAMBIER was discovered by Malcolm on May 20th 1966.


When Malcolm turned the corner on the Road to the Bay as the local track was called and first saw the Blue Lake he couldn’t believe such a beautiful thing existed in such a flat landscape. In fact he circumnavigated it twice before heading down to the local village where he had lodgings. The lodgings were different from those he had enjoyed at Port Augusta, the breakfasts were less inspiring, the watering places didn’t open until 10, and the climate being colder the local Rotary were more inclined to eat indoors.


This was a difficult time for our intrepid explorer but friendships were struck with some local identities that also enjoyed with Malcolm the killing of anything on four legs that wasn’t owned by someone and  that was largely edible. Rabbits being the favoured target of which there were hundreds in the area at the time. In order to become skilful at this hunting, Malcolm had joined a local club for peppering targets with bullets  and one of the tribesmen he met there was a fisherman.

This fisherman, Bryan, invited him to help catch the crayfish that were plentiful in the seas off the coast. Malcolm developed a long lasting fondness for both Bryan and the crayfish which were cooked in boiling water and eaten still warm from the pot on the way back from deep waters.


Malcolm was making new and exciting discoveries such as the closeness of Mount Gambier to Geelong, a large native settlement that boasted a skilful team of Australian Rules players but whose team, it seems,has been destined never to win the ultimate prize available to players of that sport. He  discovered the joys of riding a horse through the many local forests and  finally sun block  was invented.Just as this was occurring Malcolm was sent off on another mission..



Malcolm discovered FIJI, an island of tropical delight and tropical delights on August 20th 1969.


Stepping ashore from his Fokker Friendship, a plane uglier than the Comet but far safer, at the local capital, Suva, he was struck by Fiji’s greenness, heat and the local intestinal bug, fondly called Delhi Belly. This was normal for all new arrivals to Fiji’s shore and was either terminal or gave lifelong immunity to similar ailments. Malcolm, although he thought he was dying at the time, was not terminal and he recovered to embrace some of the native customs.


One was the drinking of Kava a local brew made from the ground up root of plant from which the dirt had been only lightly dusted. This had a mildly soporific effect and was a perfect way to get over the tropical heat. This drink was dispensed instead of tea at the normal times for refreshments, called smokos in Australia, during the working day by a skirt clad male called Setariki.


Setariki was not gay but only very happy, as most of Fijians were. Kava certainly helped in their outlook. The skirts were called Sulus and Malcolm adopted wearing one on social occasions and at the beach but preferred shorts seeing as you didn’t have to worry about how you sat after you had a few bowls of kava.


Malcolm entered into further voyages of discovery with a mate from the Bank, David, who had gone half shares in a half cabin boat which meant they could voyage up the coast and enter tidal rivers and creeks, land at native settlements and  enjoy the Fijian hospitalility and kava until having to return home on the next tide.


On one memorable occasion they left their departure too late and had to walk the boat across the mangrove flats for miles in the dark until deeper water was reached. This was discovered by falling in it. The experience of navigating at night across the reefs curbed the intrepid pair of much further adventuring.







The tropical delights consisted of lovely native women some of whom worked with Malcolm and one in particular caught his eye. This was because at the time she used to stand in front of him whilst he was working at the counter and talk to him. Unused to this attention Malcolm started paying her some attention. This was a classic case of someone feeling sorry for the parboiled Englishman from Australia who couldn’t dance.

Later she admitted she checked his bank account before allowing the courting to go on not realising it almost equalled his debts back in Australia. This was not the first time Nuran was fooled by Malcolm. She also thought he could cook.


Nuran’s family structure was very strict in protecting the females from predatory male instincts so the courtship had to be held in secrecy. This was compromised on a couple of occasions. On the first date in the pouring rain the hire car developed a punctured tyre and a sopping wet Malcolm had to shortcut the intended trip to the local fine dining restaurant. Then they were seen together at a local cinema. Nuran decided to cut it all short but a ring, bought by Malcolm and left with a note, was worn the next day to work and the courtship was on again.

Malcolm and Nuran got over the hurdles presented by the family and their employers, the latter by resigning, and were duly married in Suva.

This brought to an end Malcolm’s exploring as the couple returned to Mount Gambier, after a honeymoon spent at Port MacDonnell and settled there to raise a family which grew to consist of  four boys. The production of four males gave Nuran enormous prestige in her family and  they all ate well when Nuran developed her skill in cooking. They probably would have starved if the cooking had been left to Malcolm. Nurans Recipes Malcolm’s story will  be continued….still to come….. Discovering Home Brew.