* a collection of stories and memories, in no particular order, from the life and times of John Clarke, who served as a policeman in the Australian Police Force, a great practical joker, he also had a great affinity with people and wildlife, was a champion swimmer, snooker player, loved golf, still loves fishing and is also an artist. I hope you enjoy his recollections - cheers, karin (his daughter)
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this is one of my favourite stories dad, as told by dad's mate, Neal - karin
One of my favourite outings as a boy growing up in Katoomba was to the Blue Hole in the company of a group of mates.
The Blue Hole was a deep pool below a cascade in a creek well into the thick bush at North Katoomba. I don't know why we called it the Blue Hole because the water always appeared greenish even though the creek flowing into it was crystal clear.
We would pack our lunch, walk or ride to the edge of the bush at North Katoomba, hid our bikes if we had them, then walk a couple of kilometres along the creek while looking for 'possums nests' and freshwater crayfish and things.
We went there to catch rainbow trout. We never caught many, if we caught one in an outing between us, we considered it a successful catch. But the expectation was always exciting. We didn't know much about catching trout, but I remember one day when we were having no luck I walked a little way down the creek from the pool. I spotted a trout under a bank. In the usual fashion I threw in a line baited with a worm. The fish took no interest So I suspended bait under a piece of stick and floated it past the fish. Immediately the fish struck and was landed. I got such a thrill. We changed our techniques after that.
We had to climb down a short cliff to get to the waters edge at the hole. On this particular day we had bought three bottles of soft drink (an absolute treat for us) at Katoomba. Clarkey (John Clarke - myself) was carrying them in his backpack. When we got to the cliff, he threw his backpack from the top to the bottom to save carrying it down without a single thought for its contents. Of course, one of the bottles broke, it was amazing they didn't all break. We complained bitterly but Clarkey rather indignantly claimed he couldn't see the justification, after all, we still had two bottles left!
Another day, John (these incidents always seemed to involve him!) somehow managed to sink a fish hook into his finger. We were all standing in a huddle earnestly looking down at Clarkey's pointer. While the patient groaned, a few of us took turns at tattempting to manipulate the hook free, without success. Someody then pulled out a blunt fishing knife and suggested we cut it out. Whoever it was confidently made some pretended cutting strokes in the air over the finger, but then lost courage. Another kid called out...'ive us a go!' but this was interrupted by the bright idea of going to Arthur Analzark's place. He lived nearby, his sister was a nurse, so she would be able to fix it for sure. We found her at home and explained our situation. With us all looking on eagerly, she examined John's finger for about 3 seconds, grabbed the line and just yanked it out. We continued out trip with John in considerable pain.
They were great days, even when they didn't go to plan.
Neal (thank you Neal!)