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Firstly, let me wish you all the very best for Christmas and the New Year. There's no doubt that there will be some challenges as the country faces 2009 with the International Financial Crisis having a way to go yet. I'm aware that you're all getting older, it is my sincere wish that you continue to enjoy the best of health.

Talking of health, or the lack there of, you might read and contemplate what Liz and Rod Coleman have had to endure. If that doesn't cause you to thank your luck you might consider what's happened to Bert Hagel, poor bastard can't take a trick. On the general topic of health, I've seen more medicos in the past six months then I have in the rest of my 67 years.

The BIG item for this edition is the Reunion in Longreach. The price of fuel has come down and most likely will remain so. That makes the drive to Outback Queensland much more affordable. John Jesser has produced an excellent tourist resource for Longreach, hang onto it, it will be vary handy when you get there.

I must impress on you that it is essential that you send in your Registration details as soon as you can. If you've made verbal promises, dropped a hint or in any other way made a promise to be there - fill out the form PLEASE and send it in. Use the reply-paid envelope, it saves you time, the postage is cheaper and we're assured of correct delivery.

In this edition I've reported on some of the efforts made by people trying to track down `lost mates'. As you know, I hold quite a bit of information on each of you and I hesitate to pass it on to anyone else. One of the organisations I belong to, for privacy reasons, have stopped printing their list of members. I've had a long hard think about the `privacy' issue and for now will continue to print our membership list once a year. If you have any strong views, for or against, let me know and I'll look at listing only the names without the phone, address and partner names.

As far as I'm aware we've lost only one member since the last edition. Des Fitzpatrick didn't even make it to sixty. So many dying so young !! Makes you think.

On to things you just MUST do, after registering for Longreach, is to sign up for the Family Health study. Read the article on page 10 and the contact details on page 25. Another thing you MUST do is to follow the advice from Dr Rod Bain (see page 27) and go along to your GP and have a thorough Prostate examination. I appreciate that involves someone taking some liberties with your anatomy but it is either that or become a statistic. Go on, do it now !! If you're a veteran's partner reading this, make the appointment, march him down there and take no back-chat.

If you are one of the many, foreign born or first generation Australians, take a look at the Immigration Bridge article. If you are interested and can't get to the Web site, get in touch with me and I'll see how I can help.

I've included a few articles from other organisations, the War Dogs for one, the Cambodian De-Mining for another and also the MiVAC Trust article on page 25. I didn't get the cost of the Vietnam ANZAC Day tour, but it does sound most comprehensive.

Finally, with regard to the content, I'm still not sure about the article on page 26. The Johns Hopkins is a reputable hospital but I'm not in a position to judge the accuracy of the information given. I've decided to leave it in and trust that you will do your own research and seek professional advice before leaping in.

As a general statement, everything in this paper is published with the intent of keeping you informed or at least aware that there may be some information out there that you could use. I have no qualification or professional standing to be making any judgements. I should get someone to write me a `legal' cop-out statement that I could print and thereby keep me off the hook. Don't bother to sue me, I've got no insurance and little personal wealth, so you won't gain anything.

I've included the usual Membership Details form for you to examine and modify as required. I don't even mind if you use the reply-paid envelope to just return the corrected form. It would be really appreciated.

I still have a range of `merchandise' available and despite the increases in postal charges I've held the prices to what they were last year. New stock may be a different matter.

If you do send in an order, be patient. We live in a regional back-water and the mail takes a while to get here. I try to get the items out within a week but any personalised items (name tags) will take a fair bit longer. If you haven't heard from me or received your items in a reasonable time, it is just possible that the mail has gone astray or I've forgotten something. One member rang me recently to enquire about an order placed over three months earlier, I had misread the order and put the money to a donation rather than the items he was waiting for. Much egg on face !!

Jenny and I will be away for most of January but we will have arrangements in place to clear the PO Box. There will be some delay if you place your orders between Christmas and early February.

I've no way of predicting what's going to happen financially in the next six months. I was wrong with my prediction that fuel would be over $2 by the end of this year - aren't you thankful that I was wrong?? It's strange how easily we get used to things being the way they are. We now get all excited when we see diesel at around 145.9, I can remember when we were aghast at the prices in remote places being 125 + and that was back in 2005.

We are trying to follow the instructions from Mr Rudd & Co and we are spending the bonus he's promised. We've decided to give our passports an airing. They were renewed, at considerable expense, back in 2006 and haven't been used since. Jenny has dropped many hints, over the years since our trip to China, that she'd like to see more of New Zealand. Looking at the various options we've come to the conclusion that a sea voyage might be the way to go. As a result of some urgent searching and consulting the forward planner we're booked on a cruise leaving Sydney on 5 Jan 2009. The itinerary has us sailing to Auckland via Melbourne, Burnie, Milford Sound and most Eastern ports of New Zealand. The ship arrives at each port early in the morning and sails out again that evening, giving us a whole day to explore.

About time I put a stop to this waffle and let you go back to the real world. In closing can I restate the need to register for Longreach and do something about ensuring your good health.

Have a great Christmas, play safe on the roads and stay healthy for 2009. Look forward to meeting up with you in Longreach.

Cheers ... Tony

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