Book Of The Week

We’ve all heard “over-paid, oversexed and over here” said of the American servicemen in Australia during WW2.

I had not heard their retort, a popular toast which went : “To Australia – the land where the flowers have no fragrance, the birds no melody and the women no virtue.”

The Battle of Brisbane by Peter A Thompson and Robert Macklin is a well researched account of two days in November in 1942 during which an American military policeman shot dead an Australian soldier and wounded six others and a civilian. There were also many hand-to-hand fights where many on both sides were seriously injured.

To be honest it is not pretty reading.

This is a Brisbane I do not know, and times I’m not familiar with though I have friends who remember their school days with a bomb shelter in the playground. It is also interesting that all the landmarks mentioned are still spoken of by older folk and I am aware of where they would have been situated.

MacArthur’s stay in Brisbane is also covered – and is also not pretty. Many years ago I remember having a swish meal overlooking the Story Bridge and being told the room was old Doug’s HQs. Do you think I can remember where it is?

Similar View

Fascinating read but tragic. Just like the riots involving negro soldiers in Townsville, the bombing of Darwin, and the mini submarines in Sydney Harbour, so much of this information was hushed up at the time and when finally revealed lacked details. The identity of both the dead Australian and the American involved only came to light with the publication of this book in 2000.

Just wish that they’de hush up Ms Markle and Harry Windsor.








Sculpture In The Vines @ Sirromet

Despite the easing of restrictions the four walls started to cave in. Can’t say that the oppressive humidity provided much inspiration either. So damn uncomfortable in so many ways leading to an urgent escape …..to the local winery.

Sirromet Winery at Mount Cotton is only a ten minute drive south and is considered very swank. The grapes aren’t grown on site but rather within the Granite Belt, south towards the NSW border.

In the mid 1860’s Mount Cotton was mostly chicken and vegetable farms, and although a few of each still exist it is now mostly suburban with several tracks of land dedicated to koala and wildlife conservation.

Sirromet opened in 2000 and like many wineries these days brought in big name chefs and cultivated fine dining. It is also a popular function and wedding venue, and has a good reputation in viticulture study programs.

Like most businesses they have had to diversify and Sirromet recently installed glamping accomodation – as in sexy tents – and is the venue for big music events. Midnight Oil next month. Bizarre, Peter Garrett has to be ten years older than I!

So here’s the irony : did not have one glass of grape juice this visit. Too hot, too slimy, just too much.

We enjoyed following the Sculpture Trail which is a walk that takes you through the grape vines, the lavender garden, and the picnic areas – just make sure to take water with you!

There are over twenty pieces of art amongst the rolling hills of Sirromet and if you take the Little People there is an activity to keep them interested too.

What to do with your used coffee pods

It must have been hot : not one wallaby spotted and we knocked off a bottle of water. Sad days, I tell you……

Sad.

I cannot tell you how good it was to get out and explore.

NOTE

If you miss Sculpture In The Vines I can most certainly recommend combining a tour of the winery with a wine tasting, followed by a charcuterie board at the Cellar Door.

Pandemic Quilt Project

The Greater Brisbane area has just come out of a three day Lockdown albeit with restrictions. Having been flat chat for the last month I relished the enforced slow down: movies during the day, toasties for tea and never picked up a broom.

It reminded me once again of all the satisfying projects that came out of Lockdown 2020. ( Don’t look at me like that : stuffing and baking a cauliflower does not qualify as a project apparently).

Back in autumn, when Lockdown was as its strictest, ABC Radio Brisbane put out a call to Queenslanders to contribute a small textile square which would be made into a ‘quarantine quilt’.

The only criteria were that the squares needed to measure a particular size, they should feature joyful and colourful motifs, and they needed to represent people’s isolation experiences during the pandemic, with a focus on what made them happy.

Too easy? Not for this black duck who failed art and sewing and was asked to leave cookery class in High School.

Courtesy of Queensland State Library.

The submitted squares came in by the hundreds.

“Woven into each square are the personal stories of individuals who have not only struggled through life in lockdown, but who have also kept a sense of humour about life in a pandemic. The finished squares, mostly depicting the lives of women around the state, feature everything from going bra-less at home, a plumber doing repairs, gardens, books, cups of tea, jigsaw puzzles, and face masks.”

Once all the squares were collected they were attached to backing thereby constructing the quilt, which is now hanging proudly in the Queensland State Library.

What I really like is that each square includes the details of how it came to be : who created it, how it was created, and what it represents.

Courtesy of Queensland State Library

For more info, including a breakdown of each and every square, go here:

https://www.slq.qld.gov.au/blog/queensland-quarantine-quilt-comes-state-librarys-collection

Considering I neither knit nor crochet I found this fascinating.

Now that’s what I call a PROJECT.

A New Year – A New Decade

Haven’t managed to stay up till midnight for over forty years. It’s one of those quirks for being a bright eyed, bushy tailed morning person. 

Don’t set New Year Goals nor Resolutions though I am ruminating about some new projects. Despite being retired I like projects. I have a need to achieve or create. Little things. Little things are okay.

Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.” – Anais Nin

So let’s share something chilled and wet to bring in the new decade together. Join me at my local waterhole, the Grand View Hotel in Cleveland, Queensland.

Built in 1851 the Grand View was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 21 October 1992. It is well regarded for its views overlooking Moreton Bay to beautiful North Stradbroke Island ( AKA Straddie – because we’re a lazy lot), and its alfresco dining in the beer garden, regularly voted one of the best in the state. The tucker passes muster too.

G.J. Walter Park is situated between the Grand View and Toondah Harbour ( where the ferry terminal carries passengers to Straddie) and is one of Queensland’s oldest parks being gazetted as a public reserve in 1889. 

This area is home to koalas and many bird species that depend on the mangroves and mudflats for survival. Of course this means that it has been targeted by Developers for the construction of 3600 units and a water park. Apparently this is called progress.

Said farewell to 2020 at lunch with my youngest daughter sitting amongst the frangipanis. She reminded me that I’ve always been one to question progress. Sounds like another project, doesn’t it?

365 new days. 365 new chances.

Cheers!

This Week In Books (Spring)

The old bod is a little under the weather with all the Spring Cleaning taking place. Simply crashing when I hit the sack. The pile of books beside my bed just continues to grow……. ( Note that the wretched Hilary Mantel just keeps moving to the bottom of the pile. I tell you : it’s killing me). This one was gifted to me by a girlfriend from the other side of the country.

Thank you Teneille. Next on the list.

A few months back my daughter in Canberra visited the Australian War Memorial as she is want to do regularly as it is near her favourite *cough* wine bar. Yeah, ok, her mother’s daughter. ….She sent me some Poppy Seeds for planting, both Red and Purple (for the animals). No success with the red as per usual though signs of a good showing of the purple for Remembrance Day.

Thanks Cat Balou

Year 12 Exams have finished, there is an abundance of Driving Schools on the road with their pimpley clientele, and the young things are a tad hormonal with the freedom and spring weather. It appears they had a wild night at the Local Community Library as I spotted half a dozen novels in the creek. Literally. I have taken to making my visits armed with a gold club – to fight off the swooping magpies of course.

Spring also means Spiders. What I think about spiders cannot be repeated here.

Not into Romance Novels or Chook Lit ( Aussie romance in a rural setting generally including chickens ) though have read my fair share lately thanks to Covid Brain. Thought this map was a clever marketing strategy combining books with travel. What do you think?

Happy Weekend Peeps. Queenslanders, remember to vote, and the rest of my mob, watch out for those ghastly arachnids. Everyone else, remember:

A Walk Around IndigiScapes

We’re on the tail end of winter which means that the possums visit nightly carrying babies on their backs, the magpies are pinching the matting from my hanging baskets to build their nests and the Australian natives are just beginning to flower for Spring. Perfect weather for a walk around our local bushland gardens based on the original flora of the area – IndigiScapes.

IndigiScapes is also home to a variety of fauna including Koalas, and the birdlife is quite extensive, encouraged by nesting boxes high in the tree tops.

There are picnic grounds, bush walks, and different themed gardens featuring native plants. An Explorer Centre encourages the Little People to identify points of interest in the bush, and the Cafe serves light meals featuring native ingredients such as Wattle Seed and Lemon Myrtle.

Attached to IndigiScapes is a Native Nursery where many volunteers prepare seedlings for purchase. I’m a big fan as I live next door to a Koala Corridor and assist with the revegetation of the area with saplings which would have originally existed in the area.

Pre Covid the gardens were popular with families over holiday periods for the array of educational bush activities such as worm farming and basket weaving, and as the perfect venue to wear the little blighters out.

I’ve also attended some of the the weekend workshops they’ve run on attracting bees to your garden, composting, wildlife journalling, wild flower arranging and encouraging bees.

Entry to IndigiScapes is free. Take a bottle of water and just keep walking – you never know what you will stumble upon.

Located in Capalaba, suburban Brisbane. Fancy that.

“I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. ” E.B. White / Letters of E. B. White

A Sunday Drive To Manly

Manly is a bayside suburb of Brisbane located approximately 19 km east of the CBD and less than a fifteen minute drive north along the coast from where I call home.

Sundays at Manly are normally busy with Farmers and Creative Markets dotted along the foreshore. Not so today after heavy overnight rain although dog walkers, coffee drinkers and Little People on all sorts of wheeled transport were out in full force.

Because it is bounded by Moreton Bay – with its spectaculars view out to St Helena Island ( a colonial penitentiary with major claims to brutality) –  a number of boating clubs are based in Manly including the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron. In warmer weather there’s a lot of Jimmy Buffet wafting across the water.

Numerous Seafood Restaurants and Cafes line the streets, as well as The Mad Hatters Bookshop and an Art Gallery that never fails to disappoint.

Way back in the 1840’s the suburb in which I live was mooted as the Capital City of Queensland. However, when Governor Sir George Gipps visited it is reported that upon disembarking his boat he immediately sank into the mudflats up to his waist. He was so annoyed by this that he quickly changed his mind. It was low tide at Manly this morning with mudflats of a similar ilk. Can you tell?

In earlier days Manly was known as a holiday spot for those from the city or farmers from the country and it still has a bit of that vibe.

Worth a visit, particularly during those wicked Queensland Summer months when you’re about to throw yourself under a bus if you don’t get some relief from the humidity.

TIP

Some of the local restaurants are flash but always remember, you are paying for the real estate. Sails at the Manly Hotel puts on a good feed and you don’t need a second mortgage.

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.