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……

This Weeks Find

The youngest daughter’s middle name is Geordie. Yep, Cat Balou Geordie Whyte. The Geordie is a derivative of a family name, and is also from a movie that appealed to me when I was young and fresh faced, far too many moons ago to mention here.

Originally a book Geordie was first published in 1950 by author David Walker ( 1911 – 1992) a Scottish-born Canadian writer. Essentially, the story is about a boy known as Wee Geordie who enrols in a fitness course by correspondence because of being bullied by local children about his small stature. He becomes an athlete and as a young man represents Scotland in the Hammer Throw at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia.

Turned into a movie of the same name in 1955 the role of Geordie was played by Bill Travers and I think it was at this stage of my life that I developed a bit of a thing for blokes wearing a kilt. Or maybe it was just Travers because I adored him in later movies, Born Free and a Ring of Bright Water. ( Do you remember this one? Started me on my quest for a pet otter. Right up there with a Mercedes sports car. Never happened, neither of them).

Travers, not in a kilt, sadly.

Nice little storyline, nice little movie…….You may remember those type : no car chases, no f bombs, no nudity.

So, after my whinge last week about the Little Community Library and a rant about slack-arsed people within my community, what did I find on the bookshelves?

Geordie’s sequel published in 1965, Come Back, Geordie.

Who even knew?

I haven’t read it yet and am considering not bothering. After all, it’s been nearly fifty years since I read the original and sometimes it is wiser not to revisit. After all, I’m not so fresh faced……

Oh, and poor Cat Balou was born during my Dylan Thomas phase so she copped another bizarre name too. Poor thing. She’s done well to stick out the harassment – unlike Wee Geordie.


NOTE : Back in Lockdown and just loving it – NOT. Been decluttering so much I’m now looking at pulling plaster off the walls.

Vale Humbekhali

Some sad news from our capital, Canberra, on the passing earlier in the month of Humbekhali.

Hummer, as he was known to his friends, died peacefully of old age.

He had been a fixture at the National Zoo and Aquarium for many years.

Sleep well, our friend. You will be missed.

On a lighter note the National Zoo has one of the best ever picnic areas ever : playground equipment, walking tracks, barbeque facilities, and lots of fun things to enchant Little People and us more cynical types.

Might be time to start planning another trip to the ‘Berra.

Grey Days and Hissy Fits

It’s been a disappointing winter with grey days, Covid and all of its accoutrements. So I admit to a recent hissy fit when for the past few weeks there has been a lack of children’s books in the Little Community Library up at the local park. None as in Nil. Zilch.Nada.

I appreciate that Little People can get attached to books and not want to share them, and I also get that times are tough and may be a borrowed book is as good as it gets for some families. That’s okay. Any child with a book is a positive, right?

With school holidays, lousy weather, and a three day day lockdown I put a call out for donations of books for the kids. Cheekily I even included information about a pop up preloved book sale ( fundraiser) happening less than two kilometres away.

Guess what? Nil. Zilch. Nada. And being bloody minded I refused to put a hand in my own pocket…this time.

Inwardly I fumed. How hard is it to return or donate a second hand book about Peppa Pig or Thomas the Tank Engine?

My interest waned in the Little Library and my visits dropped to a weekly perfunctory event only. There was even the odd rant about not being everybody’s mother or grandmother. Gemini’s do tend to rant after all.

There have also been a few unsavoury looking types hanging about the park of late. Not being judgemental but hey, I found an official document in the Little Library reminding so and so of his coming appointment with his parole officer. Gulp. Made me wonder if donated books were being sold off at Garage Sales or the like.

Anyway, I relented yesterday and set off to the park to discover twenty kiddies books, a couple of Disney DVDs and an adults section absolutely overflowing.

Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou

The Life Lesson being, I guess, that we are all battling a lousy winter and outside, unseen forces -something that’s truly worth ranting about.

Another Must Do

With half of this country’s population in Lockdown and the rest of us either in masks or walking on egg shells it’s a little galling to admit that there have been some really good things that have come about due to COVID.

One of those is Theatre Redlands, formed last year during the worst of lockdown, by a group of experienced and passionate individuals who have formed an alliance with Redland Museum to share stories from our past.

Early in the year I attended the performance Women Of Their Word, a “celebration of Australian women poets who captured their times and experiences in verse – insights into what inspired them, the challenges they faced and the contribution they made to Australia’s emerging cultural identity”. Some of the women included Judith Wright, Dame Mary Gilmore, and my personal favourite, Maybanke Anderson. ( Never heard of her? Either had I! Fascinating – look her up.)

Last month Theatre Redlands had a new program on offer with a distinctive Queensland flavour to coincide with June 6th – being Queensland Day, when Queensland officially separated from New South Wales to become its own colony. ( I was taught at school that June 6th was D Day but I digress).

Down Came a Jumbuck is a whimsical theory about how Banjo Paterson might have come to write Australia’s unofficial national anthem ‘Waltzing Matilda’. I particularly enjoyed this given my recent trip to outback Queensland where I visited the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton.

Following intermission The Droving Days took the audience to “Pub Redlands”, the area in which I live, to join a group of retired drovers and their mates, reminiscing about horses they’ve known and ridden and tall tales of unlikely characters, all woven through with Banjo Paterson’s timeless ballads.

The recitation of Paterson’s Man From Snowy River was breathtaking. You could have heard a pin drop – the audience was enthralled.

So two things :
1. I am so looking forward to the next production from Theatre Redlands


2. There is an annual Man From Snowy River Bush Festival next April. Who knew??? Added to Must Do List.

Masks and Winter

Winter in Brisbane is usually delightful. It’s the time of year which allows us to recoup and regroup for the coming summer. It’s the time of year when physical exercise during the daylight hours doesn’t leave you a quivering mess. It’s the time of year when your makeup doesn’t slowly slide down your cheeks leaving a puddle on the tablecloth.

This winter sux. Covid sux. Everything sux. We’ve come out of a three day Lockdown ( which was easy peasy) to compulsory mask wearing and I tell you, wearing masks obviously means less oxygen getting to the brain. Because I assure you, the nut jobs are out there.

Yesterday I received a monthly newsletter from my insurance company. Targeting the mature demographic the newsletter includes warming soup recipes and road trip tips for those with vans and mobile homes. All rather innocuous.

It also includes the article “Seven Guaranteed Page-Turners To Read This Winter”. I’ll list the recommendations below.

The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe.                                      1987

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters.                                                          2002

The Narrow Road To The Deep North by Richard Flanagan.       2014

The Yiddish Policemans Union by Michael Chabon.                     2007

The Poisonwood Diary by Barbara Kingsgrove.                            1999

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.                                               2005

The North Water by Ian Maguire.                                                    2016

I have no doubt that they are all fine reads but only one was written within the last five years. Doesn’t this just reek of laziness to you?

So, here’s the book I last read – and thoroughly enjoyed :


Here are my coming reads for Bookclub:

And you’re suggesting I just need to get out more, aren ‘t you?

AGREED. It’s just difficult to co-ordinate a frock with a mask and be able to breath at the same time.