Shepparton News

Basking in Murchison meteorite glow

- with Marnie — Marnie


How are you feeling today? What would you like to read about?

Sometimes — not always — when I’m walking in Fraser St or thereabout­s, I can feel a kind of energy coming from this place we call home; and it gives me some sort of guidance about what to write.

This week, I am totally ‘flying blind’. However, I’m reasonably sure you don’t want to read about COVID-19.

So let’s turn our minds away from the misery of lockdown to the mysteries of the universe — in particular, to the magic of the ‘Murchison’.

Mind you, I am not the right person to deal with the science of this. I use the right side of my brain 73 per cent of the time — which makes me a bit of a dreamer and ensures that I rarely reconcile my bank statement (come to think about it — does anyone do that these days?).

It makes me emotional, gives me some imaginatio­n and a good long-term memory. However it leaves me with a miserly 27 per cent to deal with the rational, practical side of life — into which science fits. But — here goes.

The Murchison ‘Miracle’

You may be aware that in September 1969 — two months after man first walked on the moon — a rare meteorite landed in the Murchison district, fragments ‘raining’ along a narrow track south-east of Murchison township, extending to Murchison East, through to the north and north-west of the town near the Goulburn River.

The strewn field reportedly stretched approximat­ely 11.3 km, with the meteor’s 6.5 kg core eventually located near Waranga Basin.

The meteor entered our atmosphere as one large mass, before melting and breaking into hundreds of fragments which had a dimpled, shiny black surface (fusion crust).

But this wasn’t a common meteor. This was a CM2 (Type 2), a dark, fine grained matrix with white sparkling flecks known as chondrules.

When the first fragments were found, some were still warm and emitting a smell which has been described as ‘smoky’ or like ‘metho’. And here’s where you might begin to be interested.

The ‘Murchison’, as it is known world-wide, was 4.6 billion years old — about as old as our Sun — and considerab­ly older than our Earth. And yet it contained every complex amino acid necessary for life.

It seems, even to a dummy like me, that life existed somewhere out there before the Earth was formed. (It is believed that the Murchison was formed in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter). And, it is possible that meteorites, similar to this one, brought life to a new, hot and dry planet.

If you want to know more, Margaret Lock’s book Space Gem is available from Murchison Heritage Centre, Shepparton Museum and Collins Books.

There is also a Catalyst program, available on iView entitled Chemical World which you might enjoy — but I struggled with.

You know, when I first became aware of the importance of the ‘Murchison’, and the informatio­n it brought with it — I wondered if, in some way, it would upset people who believe in a God (of which, I am one).

Personally, I haven’t found it difficult to accept that life existed elsewhere, long before the Earth was formed. In fact, I had to laugh when I asked myself ‘Do you think that a ‘just add water’ recipe — for life itself — was an accident?’ No. I didn’t and I don’t.

Under the clock

Last week our ‘blast from the past’ mentioned the Farmers’ Arms Hotel, which I hadn’t come across previously — and wondered where it was located.

The answer came from Chris Clarke:

Marnie, I looked up the Farmer’s Arms Hotel. Where Canberra House stood was George McCracken’s Farmer’s Arms Hotel. Canberra House was on the north east corner of High and Maude Streets. It provided accommodat­ion for out of town young ladies who worked in Shepparton. Later the building was demolished and the Woolworths Supermarke­t was built there. After Woolworths moved out to Benalla Road the building was developed into a shopping arcade. Regards, Chris Clark

Thanks so much Chris. I remember going to the movies (pictures) at the Astor Theatre in High St and crossing over to Canberra House.

Round the corner of that building was an enterprisi­ng fruit and vegetable shop (in Maude St) which used to open at night, for interval, for the filmgoers.

They sold us soft drink and sweets . I think the shop was ‘Courtneys’ but I could very well be wrong.

Monday, January 5, 1914

Weather review for 1913: The Commonweal­th Meteorolog­ist writes: Like 1912 the year 1913 has been marked by great weather variabilit­y, times of most abundant rainfall alternatin­g with long periods of extreme dryness.

The failure of the winter rainfall was a most marked feature, June, July and August being extremely dry over much of the north and northwest.

This was due to the extraordin­ary weakness of the usual winter rain-bringers — the Antarctic disturbanc­es. Fortunatel­y during the spring storms of tropical origin brought extremely good rains which, though not quite early enough for some crops, fell in such abundance that a record wheat harvest is anticipate­d. The highest temperatur­e for the year was 105.3 on February 4th, and the lowest 30.7 on August 14th. My comment — This is a risk-free method of handling the weather. Tell people what has already happened.

From The Town Square

● Last week, the Bruce Wilson Memorial Heritage Lecture took place and was available on YouTube. The lecturer was Christine Johnson and, as she spoke about the heritage value of buildings, I fully understood, perhaps for the first time, why so many of us were so distressed at the destructio­n of our post office.

She said that buildings are full of meaning (and memories) which connect the past to the present; that they are a source of connection and community — and demolition can cause genuine grief.

In addition, for me, an old friend of mine worked at our P.O. — a childhood friend who shared many of my youthful experience­s on the stage. He was only a young man when he died. And, with the building gone — it seemed to me — that some of my connection with him had also been destroyed. For many of us the post office, and the people associated with it, were a part of our daily lives. P.S. The Heritage lecture was great.

● A recent press release from SAM Ltd makes it clear that, as far as the cafe is concerned, we all want the same thing — ‘Shepparton Art Museum Limited (SAM Ltd) is urging local businesses to embrace an opportunit­y to operate the gallery cafe within the new iconic building with a reimagined, expression of interest process now underway’.

I’m hoping — as I’m sure you are — that there is an experience­d person out there, who can imagine the future (if not the immediate) benefits of taking this opportunit­y.

My friends, it has been a strange few days.

With thousands of people suddenly unable to leave their homes and many of them needing food supplies, the supermarke­ts were overwhelme­d; especially when one became an exposure site.

The home delivery services were running days behind and click and collect was under pressure. At another store, the young people on deck were working ridiculous, heroic hours (one mentioned 26 hours straight).

I also heard that Macca’s had run out of containers for their chips (but that could just be a slightly amusing rumour.) I’d like to thank the people at this newspaper for their outstandin­g work — particular­ly over the weekend — with rolling reports of the situation each day — case numbers, testing and exposure sites — available on the website, updated as soon as facts became available, free of charge, to everyone.

Fantastic community service, guys — and , I’m sure, greatly appreciate­d by many of us.

It looks like we are really ‘in for it’. It could be quite a while without our families and friends and we’ll need all our emotional strength and — I suggest — a sense of humour. Please, look after yourselves and our community. And, to borrow a good phrase, we’ll come through this stronger, together.


Letter: Town Talk. Shepparton News. P.O. Box 204. Shepparton 3631.

Phone: Send a text on 0418 962 507.

 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Shining: Mural on the Murchison Heritage Centre — reacting to the noise of the meteorite.
Shining: Mural on the Murchison Heritage Centre — reacting to the noise of the meteorite.
 ??  ?? Priceless treasure: Peter Gillick Jnr with many meteorite pieces.
Priceless treasure: Peter Gillick Jnr with many meteorite pieces.
 ??  ?? Big wonder: Murchison meteorite on display.
Big wonder: Murchison meteorite on display.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia