Take Me Home Country Roads*

Someone asked me the other day what was my dream destination.

Easy Peasy. I have a thing about our country towns.

They are full of character and history and each and every one has a story to tell.

I visited a few on a short road trip last weekend. What these small rural townships generally have in common is a memorial to those fallen during the Boer and both World Wars. You don’t see many of the more recent conflicts on these memorials and I assume that as the world changed so did these small communities, some virtually disappearing as industries changed and the population moved closer to the cities.

Maclagan was surveyed in 1889. Twenty years ago it had a population of nearly 400. Ten years ago it had less than 200. It is interesting to note that so many of the early families lost more than one son during the war/s.

Just up the road is Cooyar, bustling with a population of nearly 250. The heritage listed ANZAC memorial was really stunning, surrounded by gardens, and the Cooyar Hotel, opened in 1903 saw a steady trade from travellers.

The parklands opposite the pub were also interesting in that in the early days this marked the spot of the local Memorial Hall, or community meeting place, which was swept away by floodwaters and killing two locals.

Maidenwell is another little village popular as a stop before the beautiful Bunya Mountains.  To be honest it was so unpleasantly hot I just quietly died under a shady tree with a refreshing  bevy. But thats what makes a good Queensland pub……

Lastly, Crows Nest, a thriving metropolis of 2000 only 40 kms out of Toowoomba, Queensland’s largest inland city. I have shared my visit here previously after a decadent stay at  Bunnyconnellan Guest House on a gorgeous olive grove.

I discovered somewhere new from this township’s past which I found fascinating:  Bullocky’s Rest Park which was originally used as a camp for bullock teams hauling timber from Cooyar to Toowoomba due to the availability of a fresh water supply. 

“A place to meet on the journey way

A place to rest at the close of day

Sharing a billy and a tale to tell

Midst the night time clanging of the ole bullock bell.”

I’ve visited an Art Gallery, an Antique Store and even bought raffle tickets to send kids from Boys Brigade to Canberra for a week.

Bali? No thanks.

*Apologies to John Denver

A – Z Challenge 2023

The Australian language or”lingo” has evolved from a melting pot of cultures over the past 245 years.

Within Australia accents vary slightly from state to state. For example, Queenslanders who were born in the state as opposed to “mexicans” from down south, tend to finish their sentence with ay. “The humidity has been oppressive, ay.” I remember moving to South Australia from thirty years living in Sydney, New South Wales, and being asked if I was from South Africa.

Some terms differ from state to state. “School cases” in New South Wales are “ports” in Queensland. Swimsuits can be “togs” or “cossies” depending where you live.

There is jargon associated with different occupations and activities, slang for different groups and some expressions that are considered fashionable and even trendy. “That’s how it is” and “Yeah nah”.

Some words and phrases have died out with previous generations. “Flaming galah” comes to mind (an idiot), as does the response when asked how you are feeling, “as crook as Rookwood”. Rookwood is the oldest, largest and most multicultural working cemetery in Australia.  (An aside: add to your Must Do List when travelling: the place has spectacular views and provides a social history beyond compare).

We also tend to be a lazy lot and shorten words by adding an O to the end. So if you are going to the service station for petrol you are going to the “servo” and the bottle shop for alcoholic beverages is the “bottleo”. Visiting relatives is visiting the “rellos”. You’ll get the hang of it……

Australians also seem to be proficient at sprouting both profanities and insults. I recently heard the son-in-law describing a woman as a “prawn” – nice body, shame about the head.  Awful, I know, but I did laugh. Many of our insults are tinged with humour.

I haven’t come up with a format yet but be prepared for some fair dinkum convo come April. See you round like a rissole.

Should I or Shouldn’t I?

The A-Z Blogging Challenge commences on the 1st of April and I’m contemplating whether or not to participate. For those unfamiliar with this Challenge the idea is to select a theme and then every day of the month except Sunday post something pertaining to the topic starting with A on Day 1, proceeding right through the alphabet to Z.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. Regular posts are a challenge in themselves, at least for me, and you need to have a theme that retains interest.

Last year I celebrated some powerful Australian women, women who have achieved in so many different ways. This year I’m thinking a subject less heavy, more fun, though preferably still promoting Australia.

I’m still in contact with some of the bloggers from last years Challenge and talk about a diverse range of interests. I gained an education in folk stories, crystals, music, country towns and dogs all because I became involved.

Here’s a quick poll. If I participate what do you think would be the more interesting topic?

  1. Errol Flynn Facts and Fiction
  2. Australian Slang and Colloquialisms
  3. Australian Authors
  4. Australian Movies
  5. Forget it. Stay in bed for the whole of April

February Books

I was going to list all the books that I read throughout February but thought “who gives a rats?” So I will share a book update instead.

The Little Community Library has been in existence now for four years, coinciding with my retirement, and is self managing other than a weekly visit for a quick tidy up. It is well supported by locals although the demand for children’s books continues to outstrip supply.

Some of the books that have been through the Little Library over the past few months are tagging along on a short road trip we are taking to the Western Downs area of Queensland where they will join some of their country cousin Little Libraries along the way. A local Charity Store also provides books to recycle across Little Libraries as does a national service organisation. It is amazing how a handful of fresh titles can add to a Free Library in a rural setting that has been doing it tough given recent floods, bushfires, and kennel cough. Lookout south coast of New South Wales : a delivery is coming your way too.

I picked up some cheap reading material at a car boot sale last week : $2.50. Bargain!

Although this was a stupid move when you consider the pile of books by my bed that I haven’t as yet touched.

A member of our Book Club recently recommended “The Underground Railway” by Colson Whitehead which I saw this week made the New York Times’ 25 Best Historical Fiction Books of All Time List. As a newcomer to our reading circle as well as to our shores it is interesting that this lass is introducing us to a wider circle of books. Indeed, this one is a five star read.

Another recommendation by a group committed to expanding the practise of letter writing which I recently joined is “The Little French Bookshop” by Cecile Pivot. This is a nice little book – yes, I have been lectured about the use of nice – about a woman who runs a french bookshop who instigates a letter writing workshop.

Life Lesson :

Books can have more than one life. Share, Give, Recycle.

We don’t need a list of rights and wrongs, tables of dos and don’ts: We need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever.” – Philip Pullman

Farewell February

February was a fun month providing plenty to do and temperatures not too hot to do them in. 

The frangipanis are in flower and this month I’ve picked pumpkins, capsicums, and passionfruit from the handkerchief vege patch. I’ve learned how to make tomato relish and pineapple marmalade, and picked up a few new projects. Here’s a hint :

Which takes me back many years to my mother-in-law, a delightful woman with a wicked sense of fun. However, she didn’t like my friend, Cherie, a beautiful creative lass whose babies were leaving the nest at the time when mine were just joining. Cherie was returning to the workforce as an Arts Teacher, was writing books of poetry, exhibiting art work and running workshops. Loved her to bits. 

MIL’s response to all this was that my friend was “scared of dying” and “trying to fill up with living”. I never gave this further thought until recently, as I admired my MIL for having various opinions despite being from a generation when women generally didn’t flaunt them.

Now older than my friend ever was I find myself always trying to learn new things and discover different places. Is this because I’m scared of dying?

No way, Jose. This is because I finally have the time. Time to focus on me – what fulfills me. I’ve played the good daughter, sister, wife, mother, and business partner. Now it’s my turn. 

Today I’m researching glow in the dark paint for fabric art so I can paint underpants to go with Part 3 and the conclusion of the story of Harry’s All Singing, All Dancing Underpants, listening to music from a shoe box of CDs I picked up mid week for $5, and booking accomodation for a short road trip. ( Let’s not mention the bag of books  I picked up yesterday for $4. Woops.)

See you next February, touch wood.

Little Ripples Project Month 2

1.After sharing information about the organisation Letters Of Hope last month I signed up as a volunteer. Here’s a refresher:

Letters of Hope was founded in 2018, and aims to spread kindness, raise awareness and break the stigma around mental health through sending handwritten letters to those who are going through a tough time. Through sending these letters, Letters of Hope shares helpful coping strategies, words of empowerment and connects those who are struggling with the support that could turn things around.” Letters by volunteers are forwarded by the organisation to recipients in which they also include a card including information about maintaining mental health. No names or personal information is exchanged.

I laboured over my first attempt for weeks. What the hell do you write that sounds sincere and that provides some connection even though you are total strangers?

Music. Music has been my salve throughout the years. There are some great tunes out there with lyrics that provide comfort and encouragement.

SMILE , sung by *Harrick Connick Jnr, by Charlie Chaplin

Light up your face with gladness,

Hide every trace of sadness.

Although a tear may be ever so near,

That’s the time you must keep on trying,

Smile, what’s the use of crying?

You’ll find that life is still worthwhile,

If you just smile.

That’s the time you must keep on trying,

Smile, what’s the use of crying?

You’ll find that life is still worthwhile

If you just smile

I haven’t understood a bar of music in my life, but I have felt it.” – Igor Stravinsky

2.Weeks before Christmas a local organisation, STAR Community, organised a Secret Santa to provide gifts for the elderly. Originally created to provide a cheaper motor transport option for the aged and infirm, and powered by the generosity of volunteers, STAR arranged for collection boxes to be placed in libraries across the district and requested donations of grocery items and small gift lines for our elderly who are socially isolated.

I’ve just read that over 7000 items were donated during a three week period which were used to make up 800 gift baskets that were presented to older members of our community. Wonderful effort and you don’t feel an extra purchase or two when it ends up in the shopping trolley. 

3.A girlfriend is a keen supporter of Life’s Little Treasures Foundation (LLTF). This charity is dedicated to providing practical support, information and assistance to families of babies born prematurely or sick and was founded by parents who had lived this experience.

My friend is one of those girls who can’t sit in front of the television without doing something with her hands. Knitting, sewing, crafting – all those tasks which are foreign to me.

“These are pocket hearts and are lovingly made by our Handmade Heroes community to be included for our Precious Prem Pack. Pocket size, they’re made to be carried with you, or in your bag or pocket as a reminder that you’re not alone.

The organisation believes “that kindness can change the world. It is a place to learn about and practice self-compassion and random acts of kindness. If you believe in the power of love, you’re very welcome here”.

They make far more than pocket hearts too. Go here:


Harry Connick Jnr still makes an old girl swoon..

Influencers and Tablecloths

It has been a strange week, full of highs and lows, with people both lost and gained, full of new places and adventures, whilst also taking comfort from the old.

I was particularly distressed to read of the latest TikTok dinner hack. This involves dumping the meal directly onto the centre of the dinner table which is covered in a plastic tablecloth. The point being that it makes meal times “fun” and there are no dishes to wash up afterwards.

I can think of a lot of other ways to make family time around the table fun, can’t you? Spaghetti Bog and Parmesan Cheese dumped in the centre of the table simply does not appeal. 

Personally, I like tablecloths. They add to the ambience of an occasion. Their colour, the feel of the fabric, their pattern, is every bit as important as the dinnerware that is used. Since downsizing I’ve limited my source to ten, and most are for daily wear. But on those rare times when the crystal glasses make an appearance so does the hand made lace tablecloth.

The earliest accounts of tablecloths in history were attributed to a poet named Martial in 103 AD, and they were believed to have been used to sop up spills and keep the tables generally clean. However, table coverings came into their own in the late 19th century following the growth in textile industries and the invention of the sewing machine.

These days they are mass produced and can be picked up as cheap as chips, especially in the current financial climate with Australia’s shortage of spuds.

I think back to earlier days when as youngsters we were punished for having our elbows on the table whilst eating, not eating everything on the plate, and incorrectly manoeuvring the knife and fork. How times change. 

I am pleased though that we are moving away from seersucker tablecloths. They may have saved on ironing but talk about butt ugly.

We will not be adopting this hack and if you must know we will also be retaining our top sheet in the bedroom. I’m not easily influenced.

A Rant With Some Romance

Very excited to receive a package in the mail this week. The daughter has been busy divesting herself of surplus possessions and is returning all the DVDs and books she has borrowed over the past ten years. Unpacking the gift box was more exciting than Christmas, I have to tell you, except for the Eucalyptus flavoured fudge made in her home town. It was just as I imagined Vicks Vaporub, a topical ointment made of eucalyptus, camphor, and menthol,   designed to unblock sinus passages, would taste. Though not a fan of fudge – hurts the teeth and the sugar surge produces headaches – it was a lovely thought, Cat Balou. Anyway, it feels good to have my Errol Flynns back in the fold. 

Included in the parcel were a few recent novels to add to the Little Library for Valentines Day. Said child has been contributing to Blind Date With A Book for several years.

The Book Ninja” by Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus has an interesting back story.

In real life these lasses instigated Books On The Rail, a movement whereby books are left  on public transport services around Melbourne and beyond to be shared time and time again amongst commuters. They call themselves Book Ninjas.

The novel, first published in 2018, is set in a bookshop in Melbourne where one of the employees, a woeful book snob with a penchant for the classics, plants books on trains in her search for love. Towards the end of each book she writes a pithy comment and includes her email address with the assumption that any single young man worth his salt will make contact. Thus, her dating experiences become the fodder for her popular blog. However, it is a young man who only reads YA Fiction who wins her heart – with all the tears, angst and drama you expect.

It is an easy read which includes blog posts, emails and text messages. I guess that makes it a young persons read though it does include book quotes and references which makes it an interesting book for all ages.

I finished it whilst overseeing pineapple and lime marmalade production on the stove top.

By the way, I’m no fan of pineapples – same tooth and sugar issue- and I have a pineapple story from years back not fit for public consumption. But our Australian pineapple farmers are currently doing it tough and opting to plough their crops in rather than harvest. There is something intrinsically wrong with this, so buy a couple of pineapples and help a farmer. End of rant.

Curlews on Vulture Street by Darryl Jones


Darryl Jones is a Professor of Ecology at Griffith University in Brisbane. He has been researching the ways that people and wildlife interact in an urban environment for thirty odd years focusing on why some bird species are extremely successful in an urban landscape, whilst others less so. He describes his book as ” a memoir of an urban ecologist”  beginning his story by revisiting his childhood in rural New South Wales.

I found this an interesting read on two levels. Firstly, his investigation findings about magpies, lorikeets, ibis and crows – all familiar to urban Brisbane where I reside – are fascinating. Don’t get me started on the sex lives of brush (scrub) turkeys!

Secondly, its not that long ago when the house was full of teenage angst caused by not knowing where life was headed after High School. It was a repeat cycle from 40 years previous when it was entrenched that the Higher School Certificate was the “be all, end all”. This memoir is a reminder that life generally falls into place.

It was not that long ago that feeding birds in the back garden was considered a big No No. Neighbours reported local residents to Council for doing so. Since then, the public has been advised by ecologists the right and wrong way to interact with local wildlife, such as planting native trees and providing the correct foodstuff. It has been estimated that one in four houses in Brisbane has a bird feeder of sorts in the back yard. Research has shown that people genuinely like interaction with the wildlife in their neighbourhood but also see it as a form of atonement ie making up for humanity’s destruction of the natural environment. ( Interesting concept to think about?)

Guilty as charged…….

Incidentally, the title “Curlews on Vulture Street” relates to an incident where the good Professor was pulled up by a police person for holding up traffic in inner city Brisbane whilst awaiting for a Stone Curlew with chicks to cross busy Vulture Street. 

Well worth the read although I’ll never look at a scrub turkey in quite the same way.

Little Ripples Project Month 1

Late last year I touched upon the importance of little ripples in my life and how they can effect positive change. See https://wordpress.com/post/brizzymaysbooksandbruschettasite.wordpress.com/7652 

In an eggshell these  ripples refer to activities that any one of us can effect, individually or collectively, without utilising much effort but which are all deeds that are designed to benefit others, and in the long run, the world in which we live.

Thus, one of my new projects for this year is to once a month share information about an organisation that promotes connection, interconnectedness and other touchy feely stuff.

The 12 Stamps Project

“The premise for this activity is simple : buy twelve stamps and  commit to sending twelve notes this year.  Send a note to thank someone who helped you out, whether yesterday or in your childhood. Let them know what their support meant to you. Imagine your words of comfort to someone who is navigating change, or feels a little isolated, or lonely, or stressed with job-hunting.  Share a joke, a quirky observation or  a passionate opinion.”

How many Christmas cards did you post this year? How many included a personal letter? I only sent four, down from about twenty ten years ago. I know it is a busy time of year, and email and Whats Up are a quick and easy method of keeping in touch, but you must agree that they lack the personal touch.

Twelve letters or cards is easy. I’ve shared previously that because my only Little Person is a 1,000 kms away I regularly send postcards in the mail. Even though Harry can’t read it keeps us connected and he loves checking the letterbox.

Indeed, my daughter sent out an S.O.S earlier this week in the throes of toddler toilet training. “Mo, we can’t keep up with washing with the constant rain”. Meemaw and Australia Post to the rescue with a supply of colourful new underpants to help supply issues. And for Harry, my short story about “The Dancing Underpants”.

For more information about this project go here: 


Letters Of Hope

“Letters of Hope was founded in 2018, and aims to spread kindness, raise awareness and break the stigma around mental health through sending handwritten letters to those who are going through a tough time. Through sending these letters, Letters of Hope shares helpful coping strategies, words of empowerment and connects those who are struggling with the support that could turn things around.”

Although volunteer letter writers do not personally connect with letter recipients this is still a simple task to assist those who need a little assistance. The letters by volunteers are forwarded by the organisation to recipients in which they also include a card including information about maintaining mental health.

See here: https://www.lettersofhope.care/volunteer

I know first hand that receiving a letter in the post sure beats walking out to the letterbox to find the Council Rates or an Electricity Account. What about you?