The Colour Of My Life


I failed art at high school. It harks back to those first years of formal education back in the early 60’s when teachers would rap you on the knuckles with a ruler for colouring outside the lines. This torture continued as I progressed to learning cursive writing using a slope card. Do you remember them? If you failed to negotiate the appropriate guidelines you copped another slap on the wrist. Add this to learning to write using an inkwell and having to earn your “pen licence” and I was petrified throughout most of years at primary school. No wonder I never took to art…….(Don’t even ask how arithmetic classes affected my mental wellbeing, especially with an overachiever accountant as a father.)

Slope Card

Years later in my own home I rebelled and let loose developing a keen eye for colour : colour and art works by developing creatives. Treated myself to a piece of art every year for years. Lost them all in the divorce from a man who only liked the interior walls of a house to be beige.  Beige is Boring especially in the days when Mission Brown was splattered across every neighbourhood in Australia.

So I celebrated by painting my house feel good colours, colours that added warmth to my life, such as Sunflower Yellow and Budgie Green. Real Estate Agents laughed at my colour scheme, but it was I who had the last laugh.

Paint By Numbers and Still unable to paint between the lines.

In retirement, and with these days of Covid isolation and reflection, I have rediscovered the benefits of art. I still lack any artistic talent but creating something tangible and playing with colour has kept me sane. I’ve completed a couple of Paint By Number Kits ( never again, thankyou, fruit of my loins ) and successfully completed two Art Therapy study programs. 

Courtesy of Creative Therapy College

Last week we attended a guided paint workshop under the marketing umbrella of Paint And Sip. All very casual and social where you receive instructions on how and what to paint whilst grazing on BYO nibbles. Loved playing with the paints and mixing colours so much so that I will investigate local classes. It was also interesting to see that although everyone received the same instructions all results were different. Here’s a case in point : 

Pablo Picasso once said ” Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”   I’ve got a damn lot of dust to get rid of yet………

To end, here are five fun facts about colour:

  1. Mosquitoes are attracted to blue
  2. There’s a name for the colour you see when you turn the lights off, just before it turns dark – eigengrau

   3.  Red is the first colour a baby sees.

   4.  Pink can curb anger. Pink prisons, do you think?

   5. Colour can affect taste.

And from my very own Natural Therapist, did you know that there are 66 different shades of green and that the state of your health can be determined by the number of greens you can see?

Aussie Cuisine

Fellow blogger Cupcakecache, an American lass with a strong streak of curiosity, recently asked for information about Australian dishes. Hopefully this blog will go towards sharing some iconic Australian party foods that many of us have loved since childhood. Please feel free to contribute……

Every childhood birthday party has FAIRY BREAD on the table. We are no longer supposed to call it Fairy Bread because of political correctness (as is the case with our Fairy Penguins), but who gives a rats. It is what it is: Fairy Bread.

A slice of buttered bread covered with Hundreds and Thousands.

COCKTAIL FRANKFURTS are affectionately known as “Little Boys”. You must dunk them in tomato sauce to render them edible.

THE LAMINGTON

Australians are very proud of their Lamingtons, which are believed to be named after either Lord Lamington, who served as Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901, or his wife, Lady Lamington.

They are made from squares of butter cake or sponge cake coated in an outer layer of chocolate sauce and rolled in desiccated coconut. The thin mixture is absorbed into the outside of the sponge cake and left to set, giving the cake a distinctive texture.

It is becoming more acceptable to add a layer of cream and strawberry jam between the two lamington halves but I question the need to fiddle with something that was never broken.

Over the summer months when tropical fruits are in abundance the common cry from women planning a soiree, in kitchens all across the country, is “I’ll bring the Pav”.

The PAVLOVA is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. It is typically covered in fresh cream and fruits, and seems to me to have been designed solely to force people to eat Kiwi Fruit.

The ANZACS may have stood together at Gallipoli and at the Somme but the origin of the pav is widely disputed with our closest neighbours across the ditch.

TIM TAMS are a chocolate biscuit that consist of two malted biscuits separated by a light chocolate cream filling and coated in a thin layer of textured chocolate. They are insignificant on their own.

However, the TIM TAM SLAM is the perfect ending to any dinner party and consists of biting the bottom corners off the biscuit, lowering the chewed bottom half into your coffee, and then using the biscuit as a straw to suck up the warm liquid.

Personal Recommendation : For Coffee insert Kahlua or Tia Maria.

Lastly, a SHRIMP in Australia is a colloquialism for a vertically challenged human. We throw PRAWNS on the barbeque, never people, and cover them in crushed garlic and white wine, or strung together on a skewer to make a shishkebab. One glass of wine over the hotplate and one for the cook.

Cupcake, I hope this has in some way gone towards strengthening the bonds of international relations.

A Morning At Highfields Pioneer Village

Highfields is a satellite suburb of Toowoomba situated on the Great Dividing Range, approximately 135 kms from Brisbane City. First developed in the 1860s for timber felling once it was cleared it became prime dairy farming land. Since the 1960s it has become a thriving suburb with all the modern amenities and the benefit of an abundance of mature trees which add to its street appeal.

Highfields Pioneer Village is located on 20 acres on Wirraglen Road and consists of over 60 authentic and well preserved buildings, relocated from surrounding districts, and all stocked with artefacts from earlier days. My parents used to talk of Coolgardie Safes – fascinating to at last see one.

Each of the buildings is dedicated to an area of pioneer life including the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker……silversmith, blacksmith and beekeeper etc. Some of the buildings have been turned into museums – ambulance, radio, fire engine, 11th Lighthorse Brigade – and the number of old vehicles and farming equipment is fascinating even if I am totally clueless as to their use.

My favourite is The Grinke Cottage with its colourful Cottage Garden which has been entered in the Annual Carnival Of Flowers Garden Competition over the past several years in the Cottage Garden category. Just gorgeous.



So proud of myself: I refrained from taking cuttings.


The Anderson Bomb Shelter is also interesting. Over 2,250,000 were erected, many in Australia, and were made homely with bunks inside and flowers and vegetables planted in the protective bank of earth. One joker declared ” there was a greater danger of being hit by a vegetable marrow falling off the roof of an air raid shelter than of being struck by a bomb”.

There is also an old church which is to this day used for weddings.

Honestly, there is a lot to take in here and it can’t be done in a short time frame. I would like to make a return visit and may make the effort on one of the Pioneer Village’s special event days which you can read about here : http://www.highfieldspioneervillage.com.au/events

We finished the morning over hot tea and damper ( with Golden Syrup – wicked, I know) cooked by one of the wonderful volunteers.

The Highfields Pioneer Village is another attraction hit hard by Covid and an ageing volunteer base. So wish I lived closer………

Tip : Add to Must Do List.

Helping our rural communities

During recent road trips we noticed several dead gum trees that had been painted blue. Recently I learned that these blue trees were part of a project that started in 2014 to tackle mental health and suicide in regional Australia. ( refer the Blue Tree Project)

Drought Angels, a small organisation created to support Australian farmers, also  began operating in 2014. Their mission is to “provide direct and timely financial assistance, essential resources and meaningful relief for Primary Producers across Australia impacted by drought and natural disasters.”

Drought Angels run on financial donations and from a charity retail outlet in Chinchilla, in rural Queensland. After the horrendous bush fires two years my money went to Drought Angels and Rural Aid because I figured that if farmers weren’t being fed, and if their livestock weren’t getting fed, then neither would I.

Don’t worry: I’m not spruiking for $$$$$$. Believe it or not, this is another one of those stories about something good coming out of Covid. Hard to believe when half of my country is still in Lockdown……

With so many families home-schooling and adopting new teaching methods Drought Angels requested letters and artwork from children to include in the food hampers/gifts/care packages delivered to farmers. The concept was designed so that farmers felt they were receiving a “thank you” as opposed to charity, and as a tool to teach children about farming and rural communities.

Drought Angels are short of letters and creations to include in parcels at the moment and are asking for contributions from the Little People.

Creations can be sent to: 

Drought Angels 

PO Box 451

Chinchilla  Qld  4413

Believe it or not I really wish I had some Little People with whom to share some craft projects 😦

Books In August

Failed the Book Bingo Challenge though not perturbed as I’m not visiting the Library looking for reads these days preferring to work through books laying around the house.

Biggest disappointment was Bastard Behind The Lines by Tom Gilling, a biography about Jock McLaren who escaped from both Changi and Sandakan during WW2. Because McLaren went guerrilla there was a lot of here say and to be honest, I needed a mud map to keep up with it all.( which could also be an indication of where my head was at. A reread may be worth consideration when life is a little more normal). I scored this book 1 out of 5 for format and clarity and 5 out of 5 for McLaren performing an appendectomy on himself. Ewww.

With half the country still in Lockdown my headspace needed a realignment from which I made the decision to be less isolated and move away from books. Prickle ball or crystal healing as alternative hobbies, what do you think?

Well, that was another Epic Fail.

A girlfriend donated a bag of books for the Little Library and some brand new kiddies books which I’m passing onto a local group who sew new pjs for children. These pjs will go into new backpacks for when Community Services are forced to intervene.

I couldn’t resist buying a bag of books from the local Op Shop for $6 – purely to assist the economy of course – and I’ve a few select books on marketplace trying to raise a few bob for Wounded Heroes, who assist ex vets and their families at a grassroots level. ( And who are doing it particularly tough at the moment).

The Friday night book club (with wine) continues and I’m rereading Catch 22 after forty plus years, and I’ve just started a new book club with the local Probus Club.

Crystals were never my thing anyway.

WHAT ARE YOU READING?

Much Needed Therapy : A Day On Straddie

North Stradbroke Island, affectionately known as Straddie is an island that lies within Moreton Bay off the coast of Brisbane. It is a 45 minute vehicular ferry trip from my sandpit or half that on the people-only Straddie Flyer. At 68,000 acres it is the second largest sand island in the world. Known as Minjerribah to the First Australians the Quandamooka people are the traditional land owners and their presence is still keenly felt on the island.

Fun Fact: Originally there was only one Stradbroke Island but in 1895 it split into North Stradbroke Island and South Stradbroke Island after some bizarre events. Firstly, in 1894 the 1,600 tonne barque Cambus Wallace from Glasgow, carrying explosives, shipwrecked in a narrow passage. Five sailors we’re lost, the others managed to salvage barrels of rum and most of the explosives, although they were deemed unstable. Rum and explosives being a heady mix there was one hell of a BOOM, and further storms and strong currents led to the fragile strip of land dissolving and breaking completely away in 1898.

All ferries arrive in Dunwich. The township has a fascinating history having started as a military post, becoming a temporary lazaret, a quarantine command, and then the largest asylum in Queensland for the poor, disabled and disadvantaged. There also remains evidence of the financially rewarding Dugong harvesting industry.

Used For Boiling Down Dugongs

Myora Springs has been the meeting place of our First Nations people for eons with it’s fresh water feeding into the bay. 

Amity Point remains relatively untouched by progress and is a camper’s and fisho’s paradise.

Do you remember the Disney movie Finding Nemo? This movie featured The East Australian Current, a large scale flow of water that runs south along the east coast sweeping warm tropical waters from the Coral Sea southwards to interact with the cool temperate waters of the Tasman Sea. You know what that means? All manner of sea life including sharks – big, hungry buggers. We sat mesmerised and watched dolphins and whales at play. Look hard and you may just spot Nemo.

Point Lookout is nothing short of spectacular. The old beach shacks of days gone by are well and truly gone and the high end real estate is at such a stage that I could probably afford to purchase their letterbox and possibly a water feature or two. Despite the exorbitant prices, it is still acceptable to walk sand in through the house and barbeque on the verandah overlooking the view. It retains that holiday vibe. 


I just have to tell you that the Straddie Pub is a Must Do item on any visit to the island.

Wind burnt, sun burnt, and thrilled to have to stop driving in order to allow a koala to cross the road we returned to Dunwich for the ferry ride home.

From Dunwich back over to the mainland.

Feeling improved and in a much better head space, thank you for asking…………….

Carnival Of Flowers and The Dead Centre of Town

Toowoomba’s Carnival of Flowers has been extended from the usual ten day event and will now cover the entire month of September. As well as colourful public and private gardens on display there will be food and wine events, live music, art exhibitions, and yay, a movie night at the local cemetery.

For the Official Program go here : https://www.tcof.com.au/official-program-2/

I enjoy my visits to Toowoomba, less than 2 hours west of Brisbane and on top of the mountain range, and always manage to experience something new and exciting. Cinema under the stars amongst the tombstones would have certainly fit that bill as would have the High Cheese at Spring Bluff Railway with celebrity chef, Alastair McLeod. *sigh


Normally I would not hesitate to book accomodation and let the hair down a little. It was only a few months ago that we succumbed to an evening on the Fluffy Ducks in front of a roaring log fire at Toowoomba – a much needed respite from responsibility and reason.

With more of the country Locked Down than not because of this wretched Bug I’m not so comfortable roving for the moment. Local Government Areas are tending to Lock Down in a matter of hours, and despite appreciating all Toowoomba has on offer I’m not prepared to risk having to isolate amongst the floral displays for two weeks.

With the EKKA disbanded for the second year in a row – the annual Agricultural Show in Brisbane which sees our rural folk come to the city for some R and R – I hope the Carnival of Flowers is a huge success and is supported by our country cousins.

I expect to stay home in my own garden and nibble on Camembert. Not quite the same, damn it.

PS.

Change of heart. Booking a night away afterall. Toowoomba deserves our support…

Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray by Anita Heiss – Book Review

This is the first novel that has broken through my brain fog, courtesy of Covid, for quite some time

Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray (River of Dreams) is an epic story of love, loss and belonging.”

Set in 1852, the Marrambidya – what we know as the Murrumbidgee – floods through the newly established township of Gundagai, leaving death and destruction in its wake. The local indigenous had warned the colonists though this went unheeded. It is a stark reminder that while the river can give life, it can just as easily take it away.

Wagadhaany is a 13 year old Aboriginal lass and considered to be one of the lucky ones because she survives the flood and lives in a settler’s home as a domestic. When she is forced to move away from her “mob” her spirit is crushed despite forging a friendship of sorts with the new mistress of the house. Her heart slowly heals when she meets a Wiradyuri stockman and she dreams of escaping from servitude and returning to the river of her ancestors, though there is danger in escaping from the white man.

Beautifully written with a nod to indigenous language, the images of rural NSW with its flocks of noisy cockatoo and the swirling currents of the river and dry plains are almost lyrical. The ugly events of our past are covered, such as the massacres, payment to workers by way of rations, abuse and mistreatment of the women, and early days of mission life. It’s not pretty.

Wagadhaany’s partner takes their twin sons camping on their first “walkabout”
to learn many of the Indigenous ways and I felt as a reader that I too was being educated in bush craft. I will never again move a log with my hands until testing first with my feet ( in case of snakes)! I particularly enjoyed the lessons gained from looking at the night sky given my recent reading about Aboriginal Astronomy.

In Gundagai today there is a sculpture of Yarri (Wagadhaany’s father in the novel) and Jackey Jackey commemorating how many of the colonists were saved during the flood in those early days.

Though not an in-your-face, aggressive look-what-you-done look back at historical events which is so very prevalent in other recent publications, this story is no less forgiving. It in no way detracts from the appalling treatment that our Aboriginals suffered but rather confirms that you can ” catch more flys with honey than with vinegar”.

Great read!

About the Author

Anita Heiss (born 1968) is an Aboriginal Australian author, poet, cultural activist and social commentator. She is an advocate for Indigenous Australian literature and literacy, through her writing for adults and children and her membership of boards and committees.

First Nation’s Storytellers


It is only over recent months that I became aware of Australian Aboriginal Astronomy after having listened to Astrophysicist and Science Communicator, Kirsten Banks, on of all things, a home renovation show.

Of Wiradjuri descent Kirsten has a particular interest in how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have used the stars for over 65,000 years for navigation purposes, predicting weather seasons, and for determining when the best time is to hunt for certain foods such as emu eggs. “ Aboriginal Astronomy can teach us about the link between the sky and the land”, she said.

My interest was further piqued on my recent outback Queensland travels and in particular Winton. Winton’s small population, low humidity, and low light pollution make it the ideal location to stargaze and the area around the Australian Age of Dinosaurs is now one of only ten internationally recognised areas certified as a Dark Sky Sanctuary.


Since then I have been receiving social media alerts regarding Aboriginal artwork related to the skies. ( see Aboriginal Skies)

With a daughter in Nhulunbuy, Northern Territory – which I grew up calling Gove – an area in East Arnham land populated for some 40,000 years by the Yolgnu people, we all have a new appreciation for the story tellers from our First Nation. Contemporary Australian Indigenous art often references astronomical subjects and their related lore such as the Seven Sisters.

Here are examples of some of the art works:

This fabulous artwork was submitted by Annette Joy. Annette is a Gourmanjanyuk/Wergaia artist and the painting represents Yerrerdetkurrk, which is the star Achernar. Yerrerdetkurrk is the ‘Nalwinkurrk’, or mother of Totyarguil’s wives. The ‘Nalwinkurrk’ never allows’ her son-in law to see her. Achernar is a bright, binary star system located in the constellation Eridanus, and is the ninth-brightest star in the night sky.

“Hydra the Water Serpent” from the ‘Shared Sky Exhibition’. This exhibition highlighted the connections between Aboriginal & contemporary astronomy. This artwork is acrylic on linen (70cm x 52cm) and the artist is Nerolie Blurton. “The Water Serpent, stretched across the sky with its many heads, was a monster until it was cut and killed. The red blood drips down from the clot. The browns and orange show that the Hydra can be seen best in autumn.”

If Aboriginal Astronomy intrigues you I recommend reading the story of The Emu In The Sky by Ray and Cilla Norris. Fascinating and guaranteed to give you a brand new perspective.

Dark Sky and Dinosaur Country at Winton overlooking Banjo’s “plains extended” and “vision splendid”.

Isn’t it bizarre how watching something on TV simply to learn how to stop bugs eating young eggplants can take you on such a convoluted journey ? * shaking head and muttering.

Murder At The Dunwich Museum

It hasn’t been a fun week with my only outings having been to put the rubbish bins out for collection and to check the letterbox.

In between Lockdowns (yes, plural) I did manage to attend an author talk organised by the Library in a nearby park. It was lovely to sit outside in the sunshine and listen to an informative talk by Dr Karen Thurecht, a medical anthropologist by trade.

Thurecht has recently released her first mystery novel, Murder At The Dunwich Asylum, which piqued my interest because the location makes up part of my playground.

The Dunwich Benevolent Asylum was established by the Queensland Government to provide accomodation for the destitute, aged and infirm and operated from 1886 to 1946. Located at Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island in Moreton Bay over 21,000 people were admitted during its operation with around 1000 to 1600 at any one time.

Although I haven’t yet read the book I enjoyed learning more about the Asylum’s history, and look forward to Thurecht’s coming novels which also feature familiar settings : the cane fields near Jacobs Well and Frogs Hollow, now known as Brisbane.

My Lockdown reading isn’t going well. Thank goodness for Daniel Day-Lewis sans shirt in The Last Of The Mohicans to keep a girl sane.

Only 16 hours until the postman is due to drive past again……