Self-investing in Australian Property

Now that Pop-Star is in the seriously old age group, and has his home on the market to fund a move to a retirement village, he has had cause to think more deeply about Australia’s property market.

He has recently found blogging on topics of financial and community interest to be an all-absorbing interest but one that risks him becoming more of a bore than he was.

He feels for many Australians who have lost large and some massive amounts of money they had set aside for their retirement. To their consternation they usually have no redress, and receive little or no help from regulatory authorities.

Some lose money when the stock-market crashes, but larger losses often result from investing in adviser recommended, highly geared property development failures. He has long wondered why more Australians don’t invest directly in property themselves, and avoid the high charges of developers and the associated risks. No doubt it is because they lack  knowledge of the property market, and may not receive good advice about how to go about it.

Pop-Star vividly remembers a simple commonsense piece of advice from one of his surgical mentors. It is advice of which many are ignorant or chose not to heed.  “When you have a problem, get the best advice and management you possibly can. If still in doubt, get a second opinion. Back your own judgment only when it is well-based”.

Family reunions, and renewed contacts with friends, is one of the joys of Christmas. It is also amazing what you can learn from your children, and grandchildren too – when they are around. From his daughter-in-law Pop-Star has learned that there are financial organizations specializing in providing the best advice for those able and willing to invest for themselves in the property market. She works for one such company based in Melbourne. It is known as Empower Wealth,  and was founded by Ben Kingsley.  The link below is to an article he has written on  Excellent advice. Do read it.

Buying property can be one of the best ways to invest your money and build wealth. Yet new investors often feel overwhelmed at the thought of taking the plunge into property.


Pop-Star has no personal involvement with Empower Wealth, and has no ability in property investment.

Mount Barker’s Laratinga Wetlands

Over 150 water bird species visit the award-winning Laratinga wetlands.

At an awards ceremony in Melbourne on Friday 3rd June 2011, the District Council of Mount Barker was judged the overall winner of the Best Specific Environmental Initiative category of the United Nations Association of Australia World Environment Day Award for Laratinga Wetland.

Named after the Peramangk peoples name for the Mount Barker creek, Laratinga Wetland has taken several years to resemble a natural ecosystem. Landscaping design with the use of indigenous plant species has encouraged birds to utilise the wetland. Migrating birds utilise the safe island habitats. A food forest for Cockatoos has encouraged Cockatoos including the Yellow Tail Black Cockatoo back to the area.

For stunning pictures of Mount Barker’s wetlands, click on this link.!1s0x6ab73a7e232e001f:0xf03365545ba43e0!2m5!2m2!1i80!2i80!3m1!2i100!3m1!7e1!4s!5slaratinga+wetlands+-+Google+Search&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiO4fD02PPJAhUnJKYKHe2RAgIQoioIdDAN

Pop-Star’s house in Dalmeny Park, Mount Barker is just 1.5kms from these wetlands, and a similar distance from the interchange exit being built on the South Eastern Freeway, 35 km from Adelaide.

150 metres from his house is a storage tank and pumping station for the wetland effluent, set on the highest point of the surrounding terrain.   A nearby plaque commemorates its opening in 2005 by the then Minister for the Environment Mr John Hill.


Christmas Time is here again! Happy Christmas Ryan and Amy! and Ollie!!

I’m  one and a bit years from receiving my OBE (over bloody eighty) award so I’m getting close to those pearly gates,  and expecting some entry barriers. . What was my password??

havens door - photobucket com


Is Christmas a foretaste of what it might be like up there??

I love bonding with family on Christmas Day!

This is how father and son kept in touch after last year’s Christmas dinner. . Riveting stuff!!


A time for kissies and cuddles! This is Amy being taken for a free ride by our eldest grandson Ryan Harker.



Amy’s latest pet is Oliver, her golliwog dog with ginger eyebrow’s and moustache.



Ryan prefers this prickly little customer!



Ryan has a surprise embrace by Amy’s affectionate skeleton. Amy is studying Medicine.



Ryan and Amy send their customary Maori-emulating Christmas greetings to all their loved ones! They are off to see you all with Amy the careful driver.



I can scarcely recall life back then but this is how our Susan, Alison and baby Paul were once a few Christmases ago! Like nearly 50!

Happy Christmas to all our friends, and to our enemies too!!

Children PNG

Pop-Star sells up

Reverse Home Loans for Seniors, to stay in their own home

We will undoubtedly hear more of a financial strategy that has been given prominence in recent years, and was in the news again this week. It enables pensioners to borrow against their home, and is known as a reverse mortgage. Most seniors are still wary of putting their home in jeopardy, despite financial institutions packaging them to avoid risk to clients’ ownership.

Their wariness is justified. Saving to own a home is a financially sound strategy because inflation works in the owners’ favour, gains are not subject to capital gains tax, it is not included in the asset test for the pension, and the value of the asset compounds each year. Furthermore there is an immediate and continuing benefit in not having to pay rent whereas money in  superannuation is locked away until retirement age, soon to be 70 years of age. Superannuation benefits are also eroded by inflation, and are greatly reduced in market collapses such as occurred in the 2008 global financial crisis.

Pros and cons of reverse mortgages

Borrowing against home equity, when unable to afford to pay off the debt, soon  sacrifices these benefits, as the debt compounds. Some retirees do not necessarily mind. They are happy to continue to spend what they have while they can, seeing no point in leaving an inheritance for their children. They reckon they have paid their taxes, and the state should look after them when their money is gone.

The state has a divided interest. On one hand they wish to cut the sky-rocketing cost of care as the population ages, with fewer workers to support the elderly.  They believe users should pay even if it means tapping into the money tied up in their home. On the other hand the cheapest option for aged care is to reduce accommodation costs by keeping them at home for as long as possible with the support of community services.

The Australian dream of home ownership is still strong, but it is becoming more unrealistic as prices climb. Many elderly Australians, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, have benefitted financially from windfall gains in the value of their homes in recent years making them asset rich but income poor. Reverse mortgages, sensibly structured to avoid forced selling, may be a solution for them, allowing them to pay their rates and continue to live at home.

It is not just the cost of remaining in the family home for the elderly that is limiting. There is the problem of health and physical vigour. Some frail pensioners live in squalor unnecessarily when if they sold their home they would have more than enough to live in comfortable retirement quarters with support when needed.

Pop-Star puts the family home on the market.

Pop-Star and Mrs Pop-Star, both not far off 80, have been mulling over these questions for some time, and a few months ago decided to shift into a retirement village after finding a unit that suited their needs.

Australian retirees have many quality options. Most conform to a high standard, resembling tourist resorts, with recreational and entertaining facilities. The social advantages of communal living, and the safety of a gated compound are other benefits. It is also appealing to know that maintenance will be attended to even when away.

It is helpful if there is a nursing home nearby so that it is easier to visit a partner who has to be admitted. Most facilities provide community care in one’s own unit when required, but this is not always adequate for example should one have a stroke. The village Pop-Star has selected also has a dementia unit.

Points worth considering when making decisions about one’s future. 

Keep your family informed. They may be affected, and could be most helpful.

Many elderly are negative and are adamant they will not move.  They should think of the many positive considerations.

Some units may be too expensive with operators setting prices above what may be realised from selling the family home. Cheaper options could be available.

It is important to read the fine print in contracts, and it may be worth the fee to have a solicitor scan and interpret the documents before signing.

Moving into a retirement village invariably impacts upon one’s financial status. Centrelink will need to be informed, and they can help with financial advice if needed.


Best wishes to all retirees in their enjoyment of life be it in their own home, or in a retirement village.


Adelaide Hills Fiddle Workshop

Pop-Star’s nephew Dan, wife and two children are fortunate fellow Adelaide Hills residents. Music is part of their home, and both children show talent beyond their years with their violins.

Dan acquired a love of fiddling from his father Tony, and not surprisingly he and the young musicians were early applicants for the weekend fiddle workshop at Strathalbyn.

Pop-Star and the good Mrs Pop-Star were invitees to the climax of the weekend, a concert by performers and mentors held in the hall of Strathalbyn’s well known and loved St. Andrews Church.

It was a delightful evening to set feet a-jigging. The video of one of the pieces was kindly taken on Pop-Star’s iPhone 5 by Dan’s mother-in law Sonya.

Vivacious Adelaide Hills musician Catherine Fraser is keeping alive the delights of Irish and Scottish Fiddling music.

Scottish fiddle exponent Catherine Fraser

Scottish fiddle exponent Catherine Fraser

Lighten Your Day

Lighten Your Day

Catherine the Great!! A lively entertainer.

Catherine the Great!! A lively entertainer.

With Scottish Pianist Duncan Smith

With Scottish Pianist Duncan Smith

For a second year she has conducted a workshop for musicians young and old at the Glenbarr Camp and Conference Centre in Strathalbyn, South Australia. Guest presenter for the four day event from Oct 9 2014 was Irish fiddle expert Tim Whelan. Also assisting were musicians Hugh Gordon and Janet Gordon.

Picturesque and historic Adelaide Hills Township Strathalbyn on the Angus River.

Picturesque and historic Adelaide Hills Township Strathalbyn on the Angus River.

Deserves to be better known

Deserves to be better known

Saturday night concert in the St Andrews Hall by performers and their mentors.

Saturday night concert in the St Andrews Hall by performers and their mentors.

Part of South Australia's history since 1839.

Part of South Australia’s history since 1839.

Pop-Star is grateful that there are talented musicians dedicated to the preservation of Celtic music in remote South Australia.

Pop-Star Peter Dixon

Pop-Star was his grandsons’ pejorative nickname for him. The officially approved grand-parenting title “Poppy” they discarded in favour of something much more colourful, and ludicrous.

But Pop-Star can boast of a true Pop-Star in his family circle in the person of his cousin Robert (and Heather) Dixon’s son Peter. I’m puzzled where the musical genes in his chromosomal make-up came from.

Peter is perhaps an unlikely achiever in the competitive world of popular Country and Western style music, and the music of religious faith and belief. A blend of talent, light fun music, and quiet reflective sounds..

He has none of the flamboyant, brash demeanour one might associate with a Pop-Star. He is thoughtful, modest, sensitive, and softly spoken (like his Dad and Pop-Star). His music too is similarly soft and melodious. You must see him in person to appreciate his delicate harmonies, the subtle variations in pitch, and his gently rhythmical and evocative lyrics, to appreciate how moving his performance can be. Moments of cascading sound, lilting interludes, and sometimes quiet endings with single clean pure notes caressing one’s ears. Recordings fail to create the moods and atmosphere of a live performance.

To Pop-Stars shame, he had never heard a Peter Dixon performance before. This changed when Peter, without his full band and accompanied only by a keyboard, came to Adelaide for an extended weekend of performances. The old-couple travelled down from Mount Barker in the Adelaide Hills for a sacred concert Friday August 9 in the Grove Adventist Church Hall at Salisbury hoping to catch up with him after several years.

It must be a daunting task to entertain an audience as a solo act continuously for an hour and a half (and longer). But entertain and entrance he did, with his expressive voice and blending guitar. It was a family audience. One might have expected the children to become restive during such a long performance. Without exception they were rapt, and responsive, listening to every word and note. Even Pop-Star didn’t fall asleep. There were no words of admonition, no tedious sermonizing. His sounds created the environment and touched the emotions that words couldn’t. Speaking in a brief introduction before each item, Peter spoke from his own experiences, with conviction, and humour touching issues of concern to all.

Concert ended, supper followed. Pop-Star wanted to tell everyone he met that the star of the evening was his cousin’s son. He could scarcely contain his pride. Eventually when other listeners had had opportunity to comment to Peter on the enjoyable evening, the old-couple gained his attention, and enquired after his lovely wife Barbara, and the two captivating girls, Renée and Ruby.

Should the opportunity present, make a point of listening to the Peter Dixon Band. Alternatively get some insight into what he is about with his music, encouraging us to pay more attention to the things that are important in life, from the videos on U Tube.


Pop-Star Peter









Life Starts at 77 for Pop-Star.

Pop-Star with one of Australia's most influential women.

Pop-Star with one of Australia’s most influential women.

Moya Dodd shows one of the secrets to her amazing rise to fame. She shows her appreciation to Pop-Star.

The children of today, growing up in our midst, are a never ending source of amazement to me, their ability to learn, their skills, and almost unlimited potential for achievement.

Moya Dodd is Australia’s first representative on FIFA’s executive committee. Source: News Limited

 MOYA Dodd demurs at the suggestion she’s the most powerful Australian in world football.

“I don’t think of myself as powerful,” she says, before clarifying. “I don’t think of it as power, I think of it as responsibility.”

However Dodd defines it, her CV suggests she has is a fair dollop of both. She is the first Australian on the executive committee of FIFA – the most powerful decision-making body in world football –as well as the first female board member of both the Asian Football Confederation and Football Federation Australia. This comes after a decorated playing career that saw Dodd rise to become vice-captain of the national team and named in the Matildas Australian Team of the Decade for the 1990s.

It a fair effort for a “half Chinese kid growing up in the western suburbs’’ of Adelaide in the 1970s.

In an effort to define her influence, Dodd tells the story of her visit last year to the Iranian capital, Tehran, to speak at a football conference. The Iranian theocracy is not well-disposed to women when it comes to sporting matters. Indeed, Iranian women are banned from attending stadiums to watch matches.

After Dodd tweeted she was heading to Iran to speak, she says she was inundated with requests that she should advocate on behalf of Iranian women who wanted to go to the football.

“I was getting Facebooked and tweeted and emailed by people that I didn’t know,” she says. “People from inside Iran, people from outside Iran, pointing out this state of affairs and asking me to do something about it.”

FIFA president Sepp Blatter was also heading to Iran. For those outside football circles it can be hard to appreciate the pull Blatter has around the world. In essence, he is treated as a head of state wherever he goes. The sporting equivalent of the Pope.

So before the conference started, Dodd pigeonholed Blatter and asked him to raise it with the Iranian government as a priority.

“He nodded and I wasn’t sure if that meant he would or he wouldn’t, but he certainly took on board the thoughts – and sure enough he did,” she says.

And when he did announce that he had asked the Iranian government to reconsider the ban it made headlines worldwide.

“To have the president of FIFA raise an issue with the president of Iran about women’s rights in football was something I was really pleased to be part of. To me that was part of what these positions on FIFA can yield.’’

Pop-Star’s First Grandchild turns 22

Pop-Star sagely observes for the benefit of anyone who will listen, that the reality of the march of time is most evident from day to day in the growth of one’s children, and subsequently one’s grandchildren. How quickly they grow, and develop; not just in height, but in personality, in skills, and in their increasing independence.

Ryan at High School (Brisbane Christian Outreach College) Graduation with his proud parents

Ryan at High School (Brisbane Christian Outreach College) Graduation with his proud parents

22 years after the arrival of baby Ryan, safe and sound, it is hard to believe that he was once the cute little baby that delighted both his  parents and grandparents. Here he is now, a young man that three years ago graduated with excellent results from  the nearby Brisbane Christian Outreach College, where his mother Sue is a teacher.

School is over!

School is over!



His most recent achievement is to graduate with a Bachelor of Audio Production having studied at the Brisbane Campus of SAE Institute Australia. SAE Global is the world’s leading educator in creative media industries with 54 campuses in 28 countries. Happily he is developing a career in a field he loves, in music. Ryan plays a guitar competently, and has enjoyed from time to time composing his own music.


Welcome Ryan to the working world of adulthood.







Christmas 2006 with Uncle Paul in a sensible mood.

Christmas 2006 with Uncle Paul in a sensible mood.

Pop-Star’s No 2 Grandson Finishes High School on a grand note

A little “smiler” with a sense of humour, but a determined competitor never-the-less.

He is no longer Ryan’s arm-rest.

Although easy-going he has a serious side to his nature, listens carefully to his teachers, and works assiduously to make good grades.

His attitude really paid-off for him in this year’s matriculation results. He achieved straight As or Very High Achievement marks, coming third in his year,  winning a scholarship for entry into Griffith University for a degree in Media studies.

He did catch this, but with a little help from Dad.

He did catch this, but with a little help from Dad.

His skills extend into non academic pursuits such as fishing and sport, with some help from Dad and Ryan, while he also has a creative flair derived no doubt from his lovely Mum Sue.


Now he is turning his talents to the stage, here as a Charlie Chaplin look-alike.IMG_3742

Guess who has been his mentor! You guessed. None other than his famous grand-dad Pop-Star.  Long ago Jarrod learned to laugh at his jokes.

Jarrod and his family taken a few years ago when the boys were still at school.

Now it is Pop-Star who is the one in need not only of coaching, but also of being kept in order.

A boy no more

A boy no more

I’m sure you will enjoy seeing how he seeks revenge for his friend’s cutting criticism and theft of his bike.

A production from Jarrod’s “Little Cactus Films”

Too old to Drive?

South Australia tightens the licence requirements for elderly drivers

An article in Adelaide’s The Advertiser on September 4, 2013, written by Police Reporter Ben Hyde, stimulated much debate all-day on talk-back radio station 5AA.

South Australian Motorists over the age of 70 must pass an annual medical and eyesight examination, and receive a certificate of fitness to drive.  Of particular concern to the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) of the SA government, are medical conditions that might adversely affect competence to drive safely.

Examples include diminished visual acuity, sleep disorders, attention deficit disorder and other psychiatric problems, degenerative neurological disorders e.g. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, epilepsy, diabetes, drug dependency, and heart disease.

All drivers, whatever their age, have a duty to report any condition that might affect their fitness to drive. Because of the increased incidence of medical disorders with age, an annual medical examination is appropriate for those over 70.

The New Certificate of Fitness Assessment Form

There has been a concern with the standard of medical information provided by some doctors completing the current assessment forms. This has prompted, according to the Road Safety Minister Michael O’Brien, the design of a more detailed document with a comprehensive patient questionnaire and examination report, to be completed by the driver and the medical examiner.

The new form complies with national guidelines in assessing fitness to drive. It is not aimed at increasing driver suspensions which have increased from 1416 in 2010/11, to 1541 in 2011/12, and now in 2012/13 to 2016, a jump of 30%. There are 117,000 licence holders in South Australia who are 70 or older.

In addition to those loosing their licence, an extra 816 drivers had restrictions placed on their licence. This was up from 645 in 2011/12 and 381 in 2010/11. This rapid increase is in part due to ageing of the population, but may also be a function of improved reporting.

The intention of the government is to reduce the high incidence of over 70-year-old drivers involved in fatal collisions. This year 17 of 74 road deaths have been in this age group. This statistic does not differentiate between the age group of the drivers mostly responsible for the accident.

By drawing attention to driving competency from medical causes, and placing restrictions when appropriate, the measures may in fact prolong driving longevity for the elderly.

The Victorian Approach

This article by Judith Charlton in the Herald Sun on July 18, 2013  puts the entirely different perspective of the Victorian State government to mandatory licence testing of older drivers. Annual medical examinations do not alter the road toll. Although older drivers may have more medical issues, their vision and hearing be less acute, and their reflexes slower, they are more likely to change their driving habits, and to drive within their limitations.

They are less likely to speed,  more likely to be cautious. They are less likely to weave in and out of traffic, cutting into the path of other cars. They often stop driving at night,  and avoid peak hour city traffic. They often pick less frequented roads. Many just use their car to do the shopping, to attend church, entertainment and sporting fixtures, and to visit friends. They are less likely to engage in such hazardous activities as talking on a mobile phone, or texting messages. They are mostly experienced drivers with good driving records.

Sure they may be annoyingly slow for impatient drivers behind them. They may miss opportunities to enter and leave streams of traffic. Because of this they are often honked impatiently and sometimes subject to road rage. A little more consideration would help prevent them from becoming flustered. Because of their frailty they are more likely to be severely injured in motor vehicle accidents.

Victoria claims the lowest older driver (over75) crash rate per number of licenses issued, according to an Australian study, quoted by Associate Professor Judith Charlton. She is an associate director of the Monash University Accident Research Centre, and has been a lead researcher in an Australian, Canadian, and New Zealand study of more than 1000 drivers over 75.

Pop-Star’s experience

Living in South Australia, an annual medical examination was necessary when he turned 70. This has not been onerous. He advised the Transport Department of health issues when they arose.  The first was an irregularity of his heart rate. Later he needed to wear glasses when driving.

Subsequently, he developed sleep apnoea, but this was a problem controlled by a CPAP machine, or a dental splint at night. His doctor had no hesitation in recommending his licence be approved each year. In 2002 he was diagnosed as having Parkinson’s disease, but the symptoms were not severe, and medication helped. More recently he developed an oesophageal diverticulum (pouch) causing regurgitation of undigested food especially at night when lying flat.

With such disturbed sleep he became increasingly sleepy during the day to the point that Mrs Pop-Star stopped him from driving for longer distances, for fear of him sleeping at the wheel, and causing an accident. Pop-Star did not mind at all being chauffeured by his dear wife.

When his next medical examination fell due, his doctor was unsure whether she should again endorse his licence. For this reason she requested a driving test. Pop-Star had no difficulty in passing this test easily , and has since increased his driving without problem.

Pop-Star’s Attitude

There are some elderly who stubbornly refuse to acknowledge when they are no longer safe to be driving. For this reason Pop-Star regards compulsory medical examinations as appropriate. In his opinion however it is not fair to place all responsibility on either doctors’ reports, or even on practical driving tests. Driving is a privilege, not a right. It is important for the elderly to listen to their family, and be proactive in restricting their own driving when necessary. From his own experience, cessation of driving need not be permanent. Driving with restrictions may be a welcome alternative.

The day will come when he can no longer drive. Pop-Star, faced with this possibility, tries to be positive about the prospect.  Being a passenger can be enjoyable, observing the scenery, back-seat driving, and getting to talk to his wife! To his disgrace he often tends to snooze, or occasionally use his great little smart phone for all sorts of uses, from Googling to answer his wife’s questions, to checking the stock-market, and playing chess. With less car expenses, occasional taxi rides is an affordable alternative. Staying at home has its advantages too.