Hungs Wide World of Shorts

Pic by Warrigal
Pic by Warrigal

Lillie approaches from the Vulture Street End, Boycott pads up, its bowled him, Boycott’s off stump knocked out of the ground, no shot offered, can you believe that……”, the lounge room roars into action, grown men cry, dogs bark, people flood the street tossing hats in the air rejoicing, backs are slapped, beers are poured, babies are conceived, this is summer this is cricket, this is heaven, their best batsman bowled without offering a shot, life doesn’t get any better than this, ah yes, cricket where the only thing better than cricket is more cricket.

Yes cricket, the one true national game. Forget your football codes cricket is life and life is cricket. Understanding cricket is easy. Get more runs then they do, simple. Nothin’ too hard bout that. And yes the culture, the joy, the atmosphere, its quasi-religious and coming from an atheist that’s saying something.

As a kid growing up in Wollongong all my mates played cricket and for me batting, bowling or fielding I couldn’t care less, just playing the game was all I needed. Weekends were cricket in the juniors Saturday morning, Grade in the afternoon. Sunday morning surf then when the nor’easter came in cricket in the park with me mates. Mum had to come and get me for tea as the sun had set ages ago. She’d call out from the street “Mark, get home, it’s as black as, tea’s on the table, how can you see that ball anyhow?”, “But Mum, a century beckons”, I always wondered why mum called me Mark when my name’s Hung, anyway some thing’s are a mystery.

My Dad, an Englishman tolerating us colonials, would get the bus to the bottom of Bulli Pass then from the roadside would hold up a sign “SCG”,

Pic by Warrigal
Pic by Warrigal

someone would always pull over and give him a lift. I was too young to go along at first but then my initiation came, the SCG, the hallowed turf, the smell of the freshly cut grass, the crowd, the banter between the Poms and the Aussies, always witty, never violent or abusive and supporters of both sides could sit together and barrack for their team. Mum would pack ham and mustard sandwiches and Dad would shout an ice cream, bliss.

Then as a young man going to the test with my mates, eskies full of beer, pies and hotdogs, hot chips and seagulls. Doug Walters would stride out and the crowd would erupt, “Dougie, Dougie” we’d chant. If he got a boundary the noise was deafening, all of us would rise as one, “You bewdy”. Then tragedy, Dougie caught in the covers, “Poms can’t field, how’d they catch that “.

Then as I aged a bit more and the Hill disappeared and my brother-in-law, Brad, and I would sit in the stands. One birthday, which falls in January, somewhere between the 4th and the 6th, hint hint, we went to the SCG and watched India play, Azzarudin, mate, me and Brad wanted to make him an honorary Aussie, he was brilliant. But it was against the Poms that was best, the old dart, the mother country, those were the days.

Tutu and I moved to Adelaide in the eighties and loved it. 15 minutes to the oval, no rain, 5 days of heaven. Saw the mighty West Indies, Adam Gilchrist, V.V.S Laxman, Wasim Akram and the graceful Brian Lara. In the first few years here, Tutu would bring books to the game to read but it gets hot in summer, 40 plus, so now she drops me at the Oval and goes on a spending spree on my credit card, I mean am I a winner or what.

So for those that don’t understand cricket, don’t worry. Just pretend you like it or compromise like Tutu and read a book, enjoy the fresh air, the sun, the community, being as one with total strangers, the total boredom, applauding your opponent for good play, all of these things are cricket and oh yes check the scoreboard occasionally.

Belair National Park

Old_log_belair_national_parkThe Belair National Park was proclaimed in 1891 and was only the second national park in Australia next to the Royal National Park which was proclaimed in 1879, south of Sydney near my old home town of Wollongong. So the boy originally from Tamworth that grew up in Wollongong gets to submerge himself in yet another national park.

Now just for the record The Royal National Park is around 150 square kilometres whereas the Belair National Park is around 8 square kilometres. Big difference but when you compare the states NSW and SA there are some glaring anomalies that need to be considered. SA never was a prolific bushland due to its dry climate.  The population is small making the tax base small and therefore funding public institutions becomes difficult. A good example is the Murray Mouth. If the Murray Mouth was located in NSW or Victoria, the tax base would have been able to fund a permanent opening to the sea. Here in SA we are either unable or unwilling to do so therefore each drought it becomes a problem.

A few weeks ago the gorgeous Tutu and I spent a weekend at the park staying in cabins next door at the local caravan park. It was truly wonderful. Warm sunny days and cool nights gave us a magical experience. Located less then 30 minutes from the Adelaide CBD it was simply enchanting.Belair_Old_Government_House The picture on the right is Old Government House but is was never that. The Governor would spend summer in this house as down in Adelaide us plebs would be sweating it out whereas this royal relic lives in the cool gardens of the national park in extreme luxury. No wonder revolutions occur. You can tour the residence but Tutu and I didn’t this time but we will on our next visit.

The walking tracks here are to die for as you will just about every bit of wild life Australia has to offer. Kangaroos, emus, wood hens, turtles and so many birds that it would take me a month of Sundays to describe. We even saw a koala.

belair-pondducksThere are six walking tracks ranging from easy to moderate. I am only able to do the easy ones at the moment however my goal is to increase my fitness and return to do the harder ones. Unfortunately this year I have had an ongoing battle with a chronic illness that has really sidelined me. That has now passed however I now need to go out and get back some basic level of fitness. No it’s not depression and no it is not life threatening, it was a viral illness that reeked havoc on my health that has now gone and finally everything is back to normal. The picture on the right is the wetlands area called the Playford Lake after a prominent state premier. The wildlife here is amazing.

Now if any of you ever decide to do the grey nomad thing then a week at the Belair National Park is definitely something I would recommend to you. Just remember, summer in South Australia is harsh and spring and autumn are the best times to visit here. SA offers extensive wineries and if you are game enough go to Wilpena Pound to experience the outback. The capital, Adelaide, offers its festival every couple of years which can be fun and it is an easy place to get around. Pretending to like Aussie Rules football will get you a long way.

 Here’s some interesting links.