About Andrew McIntosh CPA, Optimize Business

Optimize Business: Drive small business, NGO, NFPs to optimal success through strategy, innovation & best practice. Business Coach. Social Media. Business Blog at www.optimizesbiz.com & tweeting at @optimize_biz

All Quiet on the Western Front

I too have been reading All Quiet on the Western Front after only glancing through it in the 1980’s school book assignment. Thirty years later, I’m ready to really read it and contemplate what all soldiers and animals (mainly horses) when through 100 years ago. #ANZAC

What Crosses My Mind


I’ve been reading the book All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and it’s one of those books that when you look at the cover you’re like “ehh looks slow” but once you start reading it, it really grabs you and you want to keep reading. It’s about a soldier and his fellow soldiers on the battle field of World War 1 and how things were from their point of view. I had always heard of WW1 and WW2 and I always had an idea that is was a struggle for soldiers who fought, but my idea of their struggles was just death and starvation. Little did I know that they had lice, trench foot, and barely showered. It’s much worse than I thought it to be. Books like these sort of “humble” you in a way. For a while you put your life into perspective and…

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Have you posted your old photos on social media yet? It will be a hit!

Shell Facebook Banner

Nostalgia has definitely made it’s way back into retail marketing, but it is also making an impression in other industries as well, with social media facilitating nostalgic brand and marketing strategies. The free platforms like Facebook and WordPress also put this ability into the hand of local museums, historical societies, galleries and community groups.

As Shell fast approaches five million followers, it’s Facebook banner featured a nostalgic 1960/70’s image. Even as the brand talks innovation, a high-tech and advanced technologies, the old Shell station resonates with thousands of Facebook followers liking and sharing the picture.

Brand nostalgia is not a mutually exclusive to retail marketing strategy, as proven by Coca-Cola time and time again. Social media now provides several unique platforms to marry nostalgia with other seemingly divergent strategies as refreshing (excuse the pun) and social engaging content.

Note the branding is consistent over the years, the Shell logo from back then is still representing the company today, creating continuity.

So if major brands are engaging with their “fans” and getting free advertising from those fans sharing, liking and promoting the brand, why not take steal the strategy and implement it in your not for profit organisation? Most NFPs have plenty of volunteers will to help and those with a more ‘senior’ member demographic may be able to use social media as a way of attracting younger interest into the organisation.

As we speak, social media marketing teams are raiding their corporate museums, archives and googling for “cool” retro images to fit in to their current brand strategies. Social media provides a ready tool for the quick, low cost, distribution of historical images allowing fans and followers to further engage with fond memories and simpler times (pre-social media) when the brand was with them.

Have you looked at your retro photos yet? Post them and people will like and share them…. why else would advertisers being do it! Grow your fan base, attract new interest and membership while bring your NFP into this century and increasing accessibility to your collection.

Add a copyright message, but only put things up on the internet that you are prepared to see copied and re-appearing elsewhere, with or with a credit.

Social media for NFP museums, galleries and historical societies

Social media for Not for Profitsmobiledevices
Social media can be overwhelming at times: content (photographs, images, video and text), online communities, tone of voice, moderation, legal considerations, time management, public verses personal posts, timely responses to customers and more. And then there is the multitude of platforms – Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and blogging sites like WordPress.com to name but a few. Where should you start? Do you even need to start using social media?

We understand social media
Not for Profits are a unique unto themselves and every NFP is unique. Don’t jump into social media without carefully selecting what best suits your needs. Nothing is worse than an organisation that started Facebook or Tweeting but has not done an update in the last year or two. It is part of your organisation’s public face, just like a shop window, it is either neat and tidy, or run-down and tired. Even worse perhaps, there is no shop window for your NFP! We have great experience with social media, let us help you!

Let us guide you through the process
Museums, galleries, historical societies and community groups are called on to do a lot of things. Let Optimize Business help you assess your specific needs for social media. We’ll sit down with you to understand your customers, your opportunities for social and then we will either train you and/or your staff or you can hand it all over to Optimize Business for a complete outsourced solution.

Our approach
We are flexible and will work to meet your individual needs. We will also tell you straight out if we think social media is not right for you. We will also talk to you about social media advertising, it is constantly changing but provides direct access to local customers you choose to communicate with.

  • Needs analysis
  • Strategy development
  • Initial account configuration
  • Content creation
  • Outsource 100% or in-house training
  • Build & engage your community
  • Social advertising
  • Grow your business!

To take advantage of current promotional offers, enter your details below and we will contact you:

So where is that enormous vice-regal gold vase?

An illustration of the December 1853 presentation of a gold vase to Victoria’s Lt Governor, Charles J La Trobe. The Illustrated London News, June 1854

2013 is the 160th anniversary of the presentation of a ‘gold testimonial’ vase to Victoria’s first Lieutenant Governor in 1853. And while there is the La Trobe Reading Room, La Trobe Street, the University and La Trobe City, no-one seems to know what happened to this unique and valuable piece of our Colonial and State history.

Many Victorians are aware of the La Trobe testimonial candelabrum centrepiece that is on display at the National Gallery of Victoria. This spectacular silver and glass piece was manufactured in London by Stephen Smith & William Nicholson (1854-1855). This silver ‘testimonial’ was presented to Lt Governor Charles La Trobe following his return to London in 1854.

The silver candelabrum is in fact the second of two significant testimonial works presented to La Trobe.  The first testimonial, an enormous gold cup, was presented at a ‘grand ball’ in Melbourne on the stormy evening of Wednesday, 28th of December, 1853.   Controversy surrounded the gold cup even then, with the Argus reporting that while only a small objection was taken to the ball, some “indignation” was felt about the golden cup being presented and that it was no less than an “outrage” that such a man should receive the cup.

Despite the local debate about La Trobe’s competency and how unpopular some felt he was, the Illustrated London News reported details of the grand farewell from the last Australian mail, six months later in June, 1854.  “Highly popular throughout the Colony,” with nearly 2000 people attending, the gold cup was presented at the grand farewell in Melbourne.

The gold cup could contain one and half bottles of wine, or “about the same in table beer, “ and was no doubt used for this purpose at the ball:  there were toasts “drunk with loyal enthusiasm” and with a band number 100 performers, the “enjoyments of the ball were prolonged until about five o’clock the next morning.”

CJLT 1854 Gold Vase4

Close examination of The Illustrated London News illustration shown not just a glamorous Colonial Ball, but perhaps more importantly, what could be the only remaining visual representation from the period of the gold cup.

With the discovery of gold only a few years earlier in 1851, goldsmiths in the Colony were still in their professional infancy by 1853.  Important works of the time would often have Victorian gold shipped back to Britain for use by reputable London goldsmiths.  La Trobe’s golden testimonial was reported as being 170 ounces of native Victorian gold and, importantly, manufactured by native talent, Victorian goldsmiths Bond and Tofield under the supervision of the retailer, Mr Drew.  For these reasons alone, the gold cup is significant for Victorian State history.

The cup was 16 inches in height, with the inscription on the front and the arms of the Colony of the back.  It was decorated with solid figures of a digger (representing La Trobe’s friend Captain Brown) and a ‘native’ throwing a spear as well as an emu, kangaroo, sheep and gold nuggets.

CJLT 1854 Gold Vase2

The Illustrated London News, June 1854

While controversy surrounding the gold cup in 1853, in the 160th anniversary of its manufacture (which reputably took only two weeks), very little else is know about this golden piece of Victorian Colonial history.  Mystery now remains about the fate of the cup, as it seems to have vanished without trace.

While hypothesis abound on its fate – was melted down or does it remains in the dusty vaults of a European museum or an American private collection or was it shipped to a great exhibition and sold – it is hoped that renewed interest in La Trobe and Victoria’s golden past will uncover more information on the ultimate resting place of this unique piece of Victorian history.

If you have any information on the whereabouts or fate of the ‘gold’ testimonial, please contact the Andrew McIntosh from museumandhistory.com at andrew@optimizesbiz.com or via the comment section below.


  • The Illustrated London News (London), 17 June 1854
  • The Argus (Melbourne, Vic), 28 December 1853
  • Czernis-Ryl, Eva (ed.), 2011, Brilliant: Australian Gold and Silver 1851-1950, Powerhouse Publishing
  • Hawkins, John, 2001, Australian Goldsmiths’ Work 1834-1950, The World of Antiques & Art December 2000 – June 2001 60th Edition
  • Wellington Independent, Rōrahi IX, Putanga 867, 1 Huitanguru 1854, Page 4, download 3 November 2011, National Library of New Zealand, paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

Adapted from ‘La Trobe’s Golden Testimonial’, first published in the La Trobeana (journal of The C J La Trobe Society, Inc. Australia), Vol 10, No 3, November 2011, 48-49.

Indigenous Histories

Andrea Gerrard, now a Ph.D. student at the University of Tasmania, has been researching Tasmanian Aboriginal soldiers from WW1 for a number of years. The names of the 64 soldiers she has identified were published in the Hobart Mercury on 9th November, prior to Remembrance Day, 2012.

The results of her research were not available when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Volunteers for the AIF: The Indigenous response to World War One, was first published in 2011. However 48 of the names now made public by Mrs Gerrard were listed in this edition together with the names of a further seven men which do not appear in the Mercury list. What is exciting about Mrs Gerrard’s research is that it has enabled her to name an additional sixteen volunteers, including more members of the families of men mentioned in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Volunteers.

Mrs Gerrard’s list…

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The last World War Two soldier

I was in a rush one day before Remembrance Day and quickly ducked into Quinton’s IGA in Warrandyte for some groceries. As I entered, I passed an elderly gentleman seated with this tray full of poppies fund-raising for the Returned Services League (RSL) of Australia. He had a baseball cap on and, like most men of a more respectable era, dress pants and an a jacket despite the warm weather. On his lapel were several badges and of course, a blood-red poppy. I back tracked, ignoring my urge to rush in and out of the shop as quick as I could, with my conscience telling me I needed to buy a poppy.

IMG_9553As I passed over my donation to support veterans, I asked the old Digger when did he serve. He answered “World War Two, I’m the last one.” I paused for a moment, thinking about of his understated remarks, ladened with a magnitude of meaning that I could not ever really hope to comprehend. Firstly, this proud but frail man sitting in the grocery store had served in a battle so great it is titled a “World War.” How could anyone who had never served on a battlefield hope to understand what that meant?

Secondly, I was caught off guard by simple but powerful words “I’m the last one.” I tried doing arithmetic about WWII, did he mean the last standing Digger in Australia or this local area or his battalion? I had to ask, but it did not matter if he was the last one in the country or the last one in the local area, anyone who says they are the “last one” of a group of friends, soldiers or a generation carries a heavy burden.

He was the last WWII Digger of the Warrandyte RSL Club.

The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) and the term “Diggers” became famous during the drawn out battles of WWI. The name Diggers has stuck to Aussie soldiers for over ninety years – not only known for their courage under fire, but their ability to dig in under the arduous circumstances.

RSL Club’s once graced nearly every town in Australia and are familiar as the proverbial kangaroo to Australians of all ages. Once flooded with returned soldiers from both World Wars and later Korea and Vietnam, the Clubs have slowly emptied, some closing their doors, ‘consolidating’, as Diggers from the Great War, then the following wars, slowly thinned in their ranks with the passing of time.

The rush of modern-day life then caught up with me, I had to move on: get the shopping done, get the kids and get moving. But that thirty-second conversation stayed with me, played on my mind…. “I’m the last one” and soon there would be none.  I wondered if someone had captured his story, recorded his thoughts, this Last Digger of Warrandyte. The last of his generation. The last of his mates.

IMG_8970Many weeks passed and I started a documentary photography course at Melbourne’s RMIT University under the direction of esteemed photographer Michael Coyne. We had to come up with subject ideas for our portfolio of photos and this Last Digger came to mind. My final project concept ended up being “Roundabout to Roundabout”, documenting life between Warrandyte’s two roundabouts, starting at the CFA Fire Station and ending at the Roundabout Cafe several kilometres away.

By this stage Remembrance Day had passed and there was no sign of the Last Digger at the local IGA. I would have to do my project without the poppy seller in my portfolio of life between the roundabouts. As I spent too many hours stalking people and businesses along Warrandyte Road, I got used to the rhythm of the old township, got to know the shop keepers by day and even several by night as the project developed.

And then on the last day of my portfolio shooting in Warrandyte, I saw in the distance a man in a baseball cap with a bit of a slow shuffle, making his way between the roundabouts. Despite the hot day, he was well dressed with a jacket and slacks and had his tray of RSL knickknacks in hand, still fundraising for current veterans and their families well passed Remembrance Day.

In one of my next blogs I will tell the remarkable story of the Last Digger of Warrandyte. In the meantime, I encourage anyone who knows a WWII soldier to ask them about their service…  before it is too late.

Australian Indigenous Response to World War One

Book Review: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Volunteers for the AIF: The Indigenous Response to World War One (Second Edition 2012)
Author: Philippa Scarlett

Private Harry Avery with an unidentified Aboriginal soldier (previously thought to be Douglas Grant) and an unknown British soldier, c 1918, courtesy of Rebecca Lamb.

I first came across Philippa Scarlett’s name as part of my research into World War One Australian Aboriginal soldier Douglas Grant. Philippa was a guest on an ABC Radio program with two other researchers, Garth O’Connell and David Huggonson. Garth and David had led the way some years earlier by documenting the neglected area of Australia’s Indigenous war service record.

The radio program had the well known portrait of a WWI Aboriginal soldier, standing next to Private Harry Avery and an unknown British soldier, as a prominent image on it’s website for the interview. This photo, said to be of Aboriginal WWI soldier Douglas Grant, is a key element of my own research – as I do not believe it is Douglas Grant, but another unidentified Indigenous serviceman. About a year later, David Huggonson put me into contact with Philippa, who he said had just completed the most recent published book on the subject, had reviewed many photographs and was applying a solid analytical approach to her research.

After several discussions and emails, Philippa agreed to take a more detailed look at the photo in question and became the first independent researcher in the area to agree with my hypothesis: the Aboriginal soldier standing next to Private Harry Avery in the WWI portrait is not Douglas Grant, 13th Battalion, Atherton Queensland. Unfortunately, this particular tale is yet to be resolved, the Aboriginal companion of Private Avery is still yet to be identified.

While Philippa documents this question about the mis-identification of Douglas Grant (page 50 and page 155), this instance is only one in a multitude of issues, only one face and one name amoung hundreds of WWI Indigenous Diggers who served this nation. The Douglas Grant example is symbolic of the complexities involved in historical research in this area and demonstrates the importance of referenced rolls like that in “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Volunteers for the AIF”.

Just ahead of the Centenary of ANZAC and WWI, Philippa’s work ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Volunteers of the AIF’ provides a wonderful resource for future generations of Australians.

Adding newly discovered soliders to the honour roll, and refining the works of earlier historians, the book represents the most current and comprehensive referenced list of over 800 men of Indigenous heritage who volunteered for service in WWI.

The accompanying notes include comments on locating Indigenous men in service records, reasons for volunteering and the growth of interest in Indigenous service since the 1930s. The discussion of Indigenous involvement in World War One uses the words of Aboriginal soldiers and community members, contemporary non-Indigenous commentators and newspaper reports. There are 84 illustrations, 79 of which are individual and group portraits of Indigenous servicemen.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander volunteers for the AIF: the Indigenous response to World War One is published by Indigenous Histories, price $30 plus $10 postage, $20 international postage (Australian Dollars).

For more information contact:

Indigenous Histories
PO 686 Jamison Centre Macquarie
ACT Australia 2614

Email: indigenous.histories@netspeed.com.au; Twitter: @ww1scarett
National Library of Australia Trove: http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/37036090

Other works by Philippa include How Soon They Forget