The Last Bushranger by Mike Munro & Cemetery Tour

Just before the world went down like a bag of spuds with Covid 19 I joined an organised evening tour of South Brisbane Cemetery.

Also known as Dutton Park Cemetery and Heritage Listed it was established in 1866 and remained in active use until the 1960’s when it ran out of space.

I like the history that can be found in cemeteries – what else can I say?

The memorials in Dutton Park cemetery range from those of prominent early residents, displaying fine examples of the mason’s skill, to those of prisoners from nearby Boggo Road Gaol. Others reflect post World War 2 immigration and the cultural mix of the South Brisbane area in the second half of the 20th century. These include Greek and Italian graves and those of the many Russians who first settled around Woolloongabba and South Brisbane in the 1920s, following the Communist takeover in Russia. There are 52 Commonwealth service personnel buried in this cemetery whose graves are registered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, 13 from World War I and 39 from World War II.

Having heard the story and stood by the grave of Patrick Kenniff, who was hanged at Boggo Road in 1902  (and which is purportedly haunted) I was fascinated by Kenniff’s life as a bushranger, as infamous in Queensland as Ned Kelly.

The Last Bushranger by media celebrity Mike Munro – who just happens to be related to Kenniff – was my first new Post Iso book to read. I’m not sure whether I enjoyed it so much because it was just so lovely to hold a real book in my hands after so many digitals, or because of the subject matter.

Oh, and the cemetery tour is well worth doing too, except cover your bits in Aeroguard first. It’s swampy after rain down by the sites near the river which is also where you really will be creeped out.

Serendipity

……………according to Dr Google is “the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.”

This noun has become a regular part of my vocabulary since undertaking short day trips to outlying townships in line with Health Directives. The Queensland Premier is encouraging residents to support local tourism and to boost small business by visiting rural communities. Only too happy to oblige, Anna…..

With the Lockyer Valley less than 90 minutes drive west of Brisbane I’ve enjoyed exploring some of the smaller townships that don’t receive much publicity – the places Marketing gurus apparently don’t deem worth much exposure. Of course, it’s the little places that have remained relatively unchanged for years that I find so appealing. So turn off the GPS and don’t be afraid to deviate from the main drag. You might even come across some local produce stalls, like I did!

Helidon is one of those “blink-and-you’ll- miss -it” spots famous for what’s underground, rather than above : the internationally renowned sandstone and mineral springs.

There is a walk through town of only two or three streets with markers to highlight significant buildings, including the first bank which now operates as a Bed and Breakfast.

(And there’s also a great little dress shop that’s been operating for 18years though only God knows why. One supermarket, one pub, a community hall, and a frock shop. Bizarre, though I did drop a few bob).

Driving through Grantham with its paddocks full of cabbages you are reminded that the Lockyer Valley is Queensland’s food bowl. Many of the parks in Grantham have been beautified since the 2011 floods which were devastating. Who will forget the images of people being recovered by chopper from the roof of the Grantham Hotel?

Last stop for the day was Pohlmans Nursery at Adare, just outside of Gatton.

Seen one Nursery you’ve seen them all?

Pohlmans are the largest wholesale nursery on the Eastern seaboard, supplying a range of innovatively marketed quality plants to almost 1000 nurseries, garden centres and selected stores across Australia. Seedlings that don’t make the grade for the wholesale side of the business are sold through their onsite Factory Outlet. This obviously changes on a daily basis but look what I picked up for $1!


More little towns to visit next fortnight……

Picnics and Raby Bay.

I have lived by Brisbane’s Moreton Bay now for twenty five years. Previous to that, we moved around the country every three or four years to chase the big jobs – as in BIG. Putting roots down in Brisbane was never in the cards. 

The suburb we settled in enjoyed cooling breezes off the Bay which is a must to combat the summer humidity, and the local school had a swimming pool. Australia is a big island with most of the population dotted along the coast. Teaching kids to swim at an early age is not negotiable. Mine took to water like ducks.

A canal estate development and harbour were built from the reclaimed mangroves that lined the coast bordering my suburb. Raby Bay was filled with massive homes and shiny 4wheel drives and included tennis courts and private moorings. What was once known for its seagrass meadows, supporting the local dugong population, and roosting sites for migratory wading birds, was virtually demolished. I hated it, and to be honest, was peeved that the boats moored at their back doors were worth more than my house. No kidding : the brick letterboxes were worth more than my house.

It is interesting to note that in recent months the canal waters have become so clear that you can see all the rubbish sitting on the sand. Our enforced isolation  means that dolphins and turtles have been spotted frolicking in the waterways, and the seagrass is even growing back luring the dugongs.

I’ve enjoyed a few picnics by the water in recent days. On a clear day you can see across to both Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island from Raby Bay. I’ve even thrown a line in. Thank goodness there was cheese and wine in the fridge at home.

Picnics in parkland by the water are one of the good things that I have taken from these weird times. It had been a long time since I last sat on a rug and did nothing but take in Nature.

Sometimes good things do come out of weird times.

My Weekend In Brisbane : Fort Lytton.

I’ve lived in Brisbane for nearly thirty years and never visited despite it being less than thirty minutes from home.

Built in 1880-1882 in response to a fear that a foreign colonial power such as Russia or France might launch a naval attack on Brisbane or its port, Fort Lytton is located at the mouth of the Brisbane River.

It was designed to deny enemy vessels access to the river and achieved this by a remote-controlled minefield across the mouth of the river, and four muzzle-loading heavy guns, later changed to breech feeding. The minefield was closed in 1908, but the guns continued in operation until 1938.

I’m told the fort is a typical nineteenth century garrison – a pentagonal fortress concealed behind grassy embankments – surrounded for greater protection by a water-filled moat.

Fort Lytton was a major training base for soldiers across the Boer War, WW1 and WW2.

My introduction to this fascinating slice of Brisbane’s military history was a recent evening performance at the Fort, “ A Lost Story From The Great War”.

This follows the true story of Brisbane born Raymond Stanley, a decorated war hero, who spent time at Fort Lytton before being shipped to Gallipoli, and later, to the Western Front.

Armed with lanterns for light and sound the audience participates in a guided tour throughout the historic fortifications, littered with theatrical re-enactments. Light and sound effects, with photos projected onto the walls of the fort, take you back to the Great War.

Courtesy Event Flyer

Interestingly Stanley dabbled in photography and many of his photographs are used during the theatre promenade experience adding to its authenticity.

I’m looking forward to returning in daylight and walking through the rest of the site and the Museum. I’m told kids love the Open Days when the cannons are fired.

One minor issue. Brissie is subtropical and after weeks which have been a mix of heat, humidity and rain the mosquitoes are rampant. So is my garden.

Up Next : My Saturday Night At Dutton Park Cemetery, Brisbane’s Oldest Boneyard. Yep, it’s been a bizarre weekend……..

A Brisbane City Treasure : The Shrine of Remembrance

The Shrine of Remembrance is a major Brisbane landmark of cultural and historic importance. Each year it hosts ceremonies for ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day ( formally known as Armistice Day).

A service marking The Fall of Singapore is another annual event in remembrance of the losses of the 8th Division during World War 2, and is held on the closest Sunday to February 15th.

When my eldest daughter was in her last year of Primary School she won a Brisbane wide debating competition and was asked to speak at the Shrine at a memorial service honouring the Rats of Tobruk. She must have been only 11 or 12 at the time but had all the confidence in the world, and the old widows, old soldiers, and families of the fallen took my daughter under their wings, named her an honorary Rat for the day, and then bundled her off to a luncheon at a swish golf club for a couple of hours.

The Shrine of Remembrance is located in ANZAC Square, between Ann and Adelaide Streets. 

Funds were raised by public subscription for a memorial to the fallen after WW1 and in 1928 a competition was held for its design. Designed in the Greek Classic Revival style, the columns of the Shrine of Remembrance are built of sandstone and the Eternal Flame is kept in a brass urn within the Shrine. The 18 columns of the Shrine symbolise the year 1918, when hostilities ceased. Written around the top coping are the names of the battles in which Australian units figured prominently – ANZAC, Cocos Islands, Romani, Jerusalem, Damascus, Pozieres, Bullecourt, Messines, Ypres, Amiens, Villers-Bretonneaux, Mont St Quentin, Hindenburg Line.

The Shrine forms the focus of the radially pattern pathways, pools, and lawns of the lower park area which is planted with palms, pines, and mature bottle trees. The bottle trees were donated by Colonel Cameron in memory of the Light Horse Regiments with which he served in the Boer War. There are several statues littered along the parklands as well as benches which I always found allowed for a little respite when I was working nearby.

It wasn’t until a recent weekend that I visited the crypt situated under the Shrine of Remembrance. It contains memorial plaques to numerous Australian regiments, specifically Qld in origin, who fought during these campaigns. It’s only a small exhibition but packs a punch. It includes an interactive area popular with schoolchildren who learn personal stories and gain insights into the times. 

Admission to the Memorial Galleries is FREE and open Sunday to Friday 10am to 4pm. Anzac Square Parklands open 24 hours daily. Make the effort to visit – it’s worth it! 

The Brisbane Literary Trail

Who even knew there was such a thing as the Brisbane Literary Trail? Have you heard of this? Twenty five years living in Queensland and it’s new to me. Another pat on the back for Tourism Qld.

I stumbled across this by accident on the weekend when I was participating in an organised Scavenger Hunt. An epic fail. What should have taken two hours to complete took five and a half hours, and that was leaving out the last two challenges. A typical Gemini thing. As Bob Dylan, another Gemini, once said, “I change during the course of a day. I wake and I’m one person, and when I go to sleep I know for certain I’m somebody else.

Rather than focussing on the task at hand – trivia, challenges, deciphering maps and codes, puzzles and the hunt – I was waylaid at the casino, at a Suitcase Rummage ( where I picked up a brand new  Wizard of Oz jigsaw for $2), coffee in the Botanical Gardens, and an art and craft market. And lets be totally honest : a chocolate croissant – the eighth deadly sin.

So I’m sure you can appreciate my apprehension about next months adventure when I’m to be locked in an Escape Room.

Back to the Literary Trail that includes 32 plaques that were embedded in the pavement back in 1996 and start in Albert Street in the CBD. They are a little worse for wear but worth investigating. All include a quote by a Queensland writer with most Brisbane born and bred.

Brisbane is so sleepy, so slatternly, so sprawlingly unlovely! I have taken to wandering about after school looking for one simple object in it that might be romantic, or appalling even, but there is nothing. It is simply the most ordinary place in the world.

David Malouf, Johnno, St Lucia, UQP, 1975

The glow in the sky. Orange streetlights. Outlying suburbs. It was beautiful. The highway turned onto the six-lane arterial. We came in through Oxley and Annerley, flowing with the traffic. Then the city high rises were in view, alight, multicoloured. Brisbane. It was impossibly beautiful.

Andrew McGahan, 1988

At around two o’clock I walk up to Wee Willie Winkie’s on Waterworks Road […] and I buy a packet of Tim Tams. I stand outside the store eating them and watching the occasional cars speed past, heading out of town and down the hill into Ashgrove’

Nick Earls, Zig Zag Street.

There is development of a new public transport station underway in Albert Street so if you are interested I’de be following the Literary trail sooner rather than later. Public funding is going towards another Olympic bid, after all.