Maryborough and a Touch of Whimsey : Part 1

Maryborough is 300kms north of Brisbane, inland on the Mary River, and positioned between those tourist mecca’s, Hervey Bay and the Sunshine Coast. Founded in 1847, proclaimed a municipality in 1861, it became a city in 1905. During the second half of the 19th-century, the city was an entry point for immigrants arriving in Queensland from all parts of the world.

Maryborough’s income comes from numerous farming and station prospects in and around the city and it’s healthy fishing industry. Tourism also plays a significant part in the economy and sells itself as the Heritage City of Queensland  holding heritage markets each Thursday. Many 19th and 20th century buildings have been preserved and the suburbs are littered with the quintessential old Queenslander homes, ( which a Danish friend described as a “wooden s***box on stilts”) and which are worth a small fortune.

However, Maryborough’s real claim to fame is as the birth place of whom? Here’s a clue……

And another, in case that one was a little obtuse….

Yep, P L Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins books lived in Maryborough before moving elsewhere at age eight. Her father managed a bank, in the building where, in a room on the second storey, she was born. This is in the centre of town and still in use, no longer as a bank but as a retail shop. A life-size bronze statue of Mary Poppins, as P.L. Travers described her, complete with umbrella was erected outside the old bank premises at 331 Kent Street, on the corner of Richmond Street, in 2005. 

It is now one of Maryborough’s most famous and photographed icons.

From dusk till 9pm every night there is an illuminated mural that is simply enchanting. ( I was between tea and a show so without camera – Damn!) Here’s another mural – the joint is jumping with them!

But there’s more – we Aussies are adept at flogging a dead horse, you see.

Every winter school holidays for the past ten years Maryborough has held a Mary Poppins Festival. The Festival offers something for all the family. The ‘Art of Storytelling’ program includes film, art, music, performance and literature during the 10-day event. Events are held in various locations across the CBD as well as heritage-listed Queens Park.

Maryborough, thank you for your hospitality. It was a lovely visit.

I do so love our country towns and learn something new at each and every one.LIFE LESSON : Get away from the cricket on the telly and help our farmers and country cousins by spending a few bob in their towns. You’ll be blown away by some of the stories these townships can share.

Villers-Bretonneux, #kindjuly and nuts.

I’ve just booked into an Author-In-Action presentation at the local Library. Can’t wait to learn more about Vicki Bennett’s children’s book, Two Pennies.

In April, 1918 the village of Villers-Bretonneux in France was the scene of the world’s first tank battle between British and German troops which the Germans would win, occupying the township.

The Ecole de Garcons (Boys School) was destroyed along with much of the town on the 25th April 1918 when the Australian 13th and 15th Brigades recaptured it from the Germans in a battle in which over 1,200 Australian soldiers were killed.

The school was rebuilt with donations from Australia. School children and their teachers helped the effort by asking for pennies- in what became known as the Penny Drive -while the Victorian Department of Education contributed 12,000 pounds to the War Relief Fund. The school was appropriately renamed ‘Victoria’. The inauguration of the new school occurred on ANZAC Day in 1927. “N’oublions jamais l’Australie“ (Never forget Australia) is inscribed in the school hall.

The Rugrats have just returned to school after a fortnight of holidays here in Queensland.

The Little Community Library proved a huge success with the generous addition of CDs, DVDs and books for the older kiddies to ease them through the break.

A fellow Little Library Custodian shared with me that it was #kindjuly. Did you know this? (Marketing gurus: aren’t they precious…..)

Kind July – Stay Kind
If every Australian did one act of kindness a day for the month of July, that would be 775 million acts of kindness in Kind July (and 9.3 billion acts of kindness every year).

And I’m off for a dose of Community Theatre tonight : My Husbands Nuts. Honestly, I’m too intimidated to add an apostrophe in case I get it wrong.

Happy Trails:)

Christobel Mattingley and Battle Order 204.

We recently lost Australian author Christobel Mattingley, aged 87 years.

Mattingley was an award-winning author of books for both children and adults. Rummage won the Children’s Book of the Year Award: Younger Readers and Children’s Book of the Year Award: Picture Book in 1982.

In the 1996 Australia Day Honours Mattingley was made a Member of the Order of Australia for “service to literature, particularly children’s literature, and for community service through her commitment to social and cultural issues”.

Her most recent book is Maralinga’s long shadow: Yvonne’s story, which was published in 2016 and won the 2017 Young People’s History Prize at the NSW Premier’s History Awards.

I was introduced to the writing of Mattingley late in the game after reading Battle Order 204 about her husband David’s experiences as a bomber pilot in World War II.

Battle Order 204 is a historical, non-fiction novel that recounts the experiences of the bomber pilot of the Royal Australian Air Force serving with No. 625 Squadron RAF. It follows Mattingley’s dream to one day be a pilot and his journey from start to finish into the skies of Europe during the second world war.

The book is centered on the mission in which his Arvo Lancaster- after being struck three times shattering his hand and badly wounding his leg- was safely returned to the airfield in which it had launched from beating the crews proposal to abandon the wrecked aircraft, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

The book contains photographs, logs and other images of Mattingley’s experiences throughout his service.

The books point of difference was that it was written in a manner to engage the Young Adult demographic. Of course I purchased several copies for younger members of the family.

The Year of Indigenous Languages.

The United Nations has declared 2019 as the Year of Indigenous Languages.

According to NAPLAN (who measure literacy levels) only 34% of Indigenous Year 5 students in very remote areas are at or above national minimum reading standards, compared to 95% for non-Indigenous students in major cities. Apart from the historical, health, social, and educational disadvantage issues, many remote communities don’t have many, if any, books. Most of the remote communities report there are fewer than five books in family homes.

The Great Book Swap is an annual event and a fantastic way to celebrate reading locally, and raise much-needed funds for remote communities. Schools, workplaces, libraries, universities, book clubs, individuals and all kinds of organisations can host one. The idea is to swap a favourite book in exchange for a gold coin donation. This year, the goal is to raise $350,000 to gift 35,000 new, carefully-chosen books to children who need them the most.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by American author Eric Carle was first published 50 years ago, and has been translated into at least 40 languages.

The Yuwi language of the Yuibera and Yuwibara traditional owners in the Mackay region has no fluent living speakers, and was considered extinct by the State Library of Queensland in 2015. But thanks to a massive revival effort, a small group of volunteers has collated 1,000 words of Yuwi vocabulary, enough to translate The Very Hungry Caterpiller. Yuibera and Yuwibara children in Mackay can now hear the story in their ancestors’ words and the volunteers plan to translate local Indigenous stories into children’s books next.

Awesome. Simply awesome.

For further information go to http://www.indigenousliteracyfoundation.com.au.

Bookish Things and Harry Potter

It’s winter in subtropical Brisbane and the cold weather is delightful. Three hours away we even had snow flurries. It’s a good excuse to cook, eat, and read books.

Green Curry

(Just for the record: one more salad featuring pomegranate and I would have necked myself. Peeps, this fruit is for drinks, not meals!)

The Little Community Library continues to flourish with a wide variety of books being added on a regular basis. I cleared a box out earlier and donated them to a community organisation for their coming Garage Sale. All proceeds go towards computers and IPads on which they provide individual tuition to the elderly at no cost. What a great concept!

A friend is on a cruise shortly to Papua New Guinea with six stops at different ports in the region. Personally, I’m not a fan of cruises because :
A) you can’t get off when you want
B) being on a boat and not being able to throw out a fishing line is ridiculous

My friend, however, is very excited having lived there previously and has been advised that should she so wish she can take some children’s books along to donate to the kiddies wherever she disembarks.

So, of course I stuck my beak in and located a local organisation called
BOOKS4PNGKIDS which is not for profit and which sends donated books over to PNG by the container load. They specialise in books for elementary and primary school students as well as dictionary’s and some stationary items.

We met the CEO last week and were blown away by the operation. The number of books being sifted, sorted, and packaged by volunteers was simply amazing. There are still many areas in the land of our Pacific neighbours that cannot be reached by road and education facilities are basic.

My friend has been given a suitcase of books to distribute to local schools. Some PNG expats have even written health books in Pigeon English for distribution to local hospitals and medical centres. Not at all what we expected from our visit!

We’ve been advised that the older primary school kids are desperate for Harry Potter books. They have read Book 1 but the latter books in the series are in very short supply. So this is my latest venture: hunting down Preloved Potters. My friend who volunteers in a hospital is chasing crutches. Apparently they are like hens teeth in PNG.

Who was the idiot that said there was nothing to do in Retirement?

Some Bookish Things

The high school that my daughters attended, in conjunction with local service organisations such as Rotary and Lions, have put a call out for children’s books. Both fiction and non-fiction books are required to establish libraries in Vanuatu.

They did this last year and it was a huge success. “ We collected enough books to fill 11 libraries in schools that had never had libraries before, with 26 shelves per library.” Way to go or what!

Another local Rotary Club holds an annual fundraiser selling preloved books donated mainly by the State Library of Queensland. I’ve already started collecting my $2 coins in a jar.

All monies raised will be donated to The Sycamore School, “a Primary School (Prep to Year 6) for young people living with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The school provides a safe and inclusive educational environment with programs supported by allied health, aimed at achieving academic, social, emotional and behavioural goals”.

This school, also just up the road, was created by a couple with a child on the spectrum, and though only a few years old is gaining huge inroads in ensuring these kiddies find their place.

My local Library also held an Author talk recently. Charlotte Nash, a Redlands lass, writes romantic fiction which has achieved international success. Romance is not my thing, but I went along to hear her speak and she was phenomenal. I still don’t need to read her books though her command of language was so fluid, so easy, I could listen to her all day long.

And my recent find at the weekend markets : a box set of C S Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia books for the princely sum of $2. Bargain.

I loved Prince Caspian at Primary School where I had an older, male teacher who encouraged his charges to read outside of the curriculum and to sing Bob Dylan and Joan Baez songs. Will get through them quickly so they can join the boat trip to Vanuatu.

Isn’t it just marvellous that books can bring so much joy to so many people in so many different places?

Children’s Literature And Stamps

Growing up as a child in Australia in the sixties I have fond memories of play with my friends involving Cowboys and Indians, Malvern Scooters, Slippery Dips, Marble tournaments and Stamp collections. That’s correct. Stamp collections. When rain prevented outdoor play we gathered at a mate’s home to swap postage stamps before adding any new additions to our albums. We would exchange stamps with the same enthusiasm that we exchanged football cards or the plastic jewellrey found in breakfast cereal boxes.

Yes, okay, so I was a nerd.

My enthusiasm for stamps waned many, many years ago when I became more interested in glitter eyeshadow and collecting vinyl LP records. Waned, not stopped completely, as to this day I continue to collect the colourful postage stamps of the Cocos Keeling Islands.

Yes, I’m still a borderline nerd.

Each year Australia Post honours individuals who are leaders in their field of endeavour, having dedicated their adult lives to their chosen pursuit, shaping Australian society and culture in the process.

A longtime favourite.

This year’s recipients are celebrated and award-winning authors – talented creators of narrative books and picture books for young people, from the youngest readers through to adolescents.

The Legends of Children’s Literature stamp issue, released for Australia Day, honours Mem Fox AM, Morris Gleitzman, Leigh Hobbs, Alison Lester and Shaun Tan. 

The 2019 Australian Legends of Children’s Literature stamp issue comprises of five $1 stamps, a first day cover, stamp pack, maxicard set, five booklets of ten $1 stamps, and a booklet collection pack.

Just remember : “ The President of today is just the postage stamp of tomorrow”.