Maryborough and The Story Trail – Part 2

A trail of murals along eight city blocks in Maryborough tell the quirky and serious stories of the city’s colourful past.

The Maryborough Story Trail has brought to life the stories of historic people and places through a series of bronze sculptures ( including Ms Mary Poppins), laneway murals, mosaic tiles and interactive screens showcasing short films.

Being flat makes this an easy and interesting walk for all ages with cafes, museums, and specialty shops to break up the two kilometre journey of over thirty murals and installations.

Local boy, Sam Hecker, was the first to fly under the Sydney Harbour Bridge

My favourite installation is the recently completed Gallipoli to Armistice Memorial Trail on the edge of beautiful Queens Park.

This includes a sculpture of Lt Duncan Chapman, born in Maryborough, who was the first ANZAC ashore at Gallipoli. He is standing on pavement made from the rock from the cliffs of Gallipoli and the wooden flower beds represent the boats. 

The Trail includes all the battles till Armistice Day with audio of the soldiers marching. It’s both eerie and fascinating.

Maryborough, I never knew you would be so welcoming. Back to see more soon…..

*Maps of The Story Trail are available from the Tourist Information Centre

Depiction of The Battle of Long Tan with Harry Smith, another local lad.

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.

Following The Festivals

When it comes to throwing a party, general celebration and epic public events, Aussies do it as well as anyone. Throughout the year in every corner of the country, you’ll find a huge range of events and festivals showcasing everything from art, music, sport, writing and Aboriginal culture to film, comedy, dance, food and beer. Lots of food and beer.

With retirement I seemed to have slipped into the practise of chasing local festivals. Not having to worry about getting home late on a school night is so liberating after thirty odd years of pre-dawn getups.

This week I enjoyed a function for the Bris Funny Fest (which differs from the Brisbane Comedy Festival in that it showcases emerging performers putting on a show for the first time.) Next week is Seniors Week and I have tickets to a series of old time radio shows at the local museum. “Dad and Dave” – who remembers them?

I’m particularly enjoying the Festivals held in country towns. With Australia suffering such debilitating drought – with a dam at less than 25% capacity the Granite Belt is unlikely, for the first time ever, to produce any wine next year – so many farmers are going under and our country cousins are doing it tough. The three day Camel and Culture Weekend at Tara in Queensland’s Western Downs last week brought a much needed economic boost to the township as well as purpose.

It’s the Peter Allen Festival in country Tenterfield next month, followed by a Baroque Festival in Victoria, and daughter of mine, Cait’s Classics, if you are reading this I thought Floriade, the huge flower festival in the nations capital would be fun. (Can we go to that gin joint again? Pleeeeeease)

Now that I’m getting into the swing of being gainfully unemployed I will be better organised next year. I’ll even print a calendar of events to stick on the fridge. The Darwin Cup next August is already booked as is an Eastern Arnhem Land adventure to learn more First Australian culture. Oh, and the passport is getting a run for its money too…..

Retirements tough.

Wattle and Koalas

Wattle Day has been celebrated on the first day of September each year since 1992, the official start of the Australian spring. Prior to this each State acknowledged the day at separate times depending on when the Acacias were in full bloom in that territory. My memories as a young lass are of wearing a sprig of Cootamundra Wattle, which flourished in Sydney, to school on the 1st day of August each year.

The Golden Wattle was incorporated as an accessory in the design of the Australian Coat of Arms in 1912.

I’m a big fan of Wattle (but then I don’t suffer from Hay Fever) and have recently planted a Wattle sapling, along with other native trees, on the fringe of the Koala corridor which my property borders. Pretty sure the neighbours will be unimpressed. Stuff ‘em.

Both the Koalas and Wattles are at their best at the moment. The former may well be cute but the bucks are noisy when they’re feeling antsy. Noisy and determined. And they’re most certainly feeling antsy at the moment.


Tree planting endeavours on my part are an attempt to encourage the bees, butterflies and bird life. All creatures welcome really – except snakes.

Wattle flowers were sold to raise money during World War 1 and it became tradition to send pressed wattles in letters to wounded soldiers in Europe. Fallen diggers were often buried with a sprig of wattle. The green and gold of Wattle inspired our national colours which we see at the great sporting events.

Wattle……just love it.

Cootamundra Wattle by John Williamson

Don’t go lookin’ through that old camphor box woman,
You know those old things only make you cry.
When you dream upon that little bunny rug
It makes you think that life has passed you by
There are days when you wish the world would stop woman,
But then you know some wounds would never heal
But when I browse the early pages of the children
It’s then I know exactly how you feel.
Hey it’s July and the winter sun is shining
And the Cootamundra wattle is my friend
For all at once my childhood never left me
‘Cause wattle blossoms bring it back again
It’s Sunday and you should stop the worry woman,
Come out here and sit down in the sun
Can’t you hear the magpies in the distance?
Don’t you feel the new day has begun?
Can’t you hear the bees making honey woman,
In the spotted gums where the bellbirds ring?
You might grow old and bitter cause you missed it,
You know some people never hear such things
Hey it’s July and the winter sun is shining
And the Cootamundra wattle is my friend
For all at once my childhood never left me
‘Cause wattle blossoms bring it back again
Don’t buy the daily papers any more woman,
Read all about what’s going on in hell.
They don’t care to tell the world of kindness,
Good news never made a paper sell.
There’s all the colours of the rainbow in the garden woman,
And symphonies of music in the sky.
Heaven’s all around us if you’re looking,
But how can you see it if you cry.
Hey it’s July and the winter sun is shining
And the Cootamundra wattle is my friend
For all at once my childhood never left me
‘Cause wattle blossoms bring it back again.

Top End Wedding: Movie Review

National Reconciliation Week is a national campaign held each year to commemorate two significant milestones in Australia’s reconciliation journey—the successful 1967 referendum and the 1992 High Court Mabo decision. It is an awareness program designed to encourage Australians to join the movement towards a unified future by building positive relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Don’t worry…….I don’t talk politics or religion on an empty stomach.

This year during Reconciliation Week a prominent Australian sporting event took place at which a number of our Indigenous sportspeople refused to sing the National Anthem on the basis that there was no reference to the Aboriginal race in the song lyrics. 

Fair enough. Still no political commentary from this end.

I recently went to the cinema to see a great little Australian flick called Top End Wedding. Don’t go to the movies often. Too Old School: I keep my shoes on, don’t dangle my feet across the top of the seat in front, and I never, ever take KFC into the cinema to eat. I haven’t eaten KFC since I was 13 and they were still using chickens.

Miranda Tapsell (Laura) plays an Aboriginal lawyer in Adelaide who heads to Darwin to spring a surprise wedding to an Englishman, Gwilym Lee (Ned), upon her Indigenous mother and white father – only to find her mother has disappeared. She’s got 10 days to follow her trail across the Northern Territory, and finally to her mother’s birthplace, the Tiwi Islands, and salvage her wedding plans before they crumble entirely.

Many of the reviews I’ve read have knocked the movie for being “clumsy”. Guess what people? We aren’t a polished lot. Embrace it! Some of the earlier scenes do make you cringe slightly, but they are all scenarios that we are familiar with : the drunken Hens Party with crass girlfriends, wedding decorations from Spotlight, the phallic cake, and introducing the pet dog to the grandparents as if it were human. Happens all the time. Admit it. That’s how we live, it’s who we are.

It’s so Australian that I’m not sure that international audiences would get the humour, though the scenery would have them enthralled. Darwin is just so Darwin ( and I adore Darwin), the miles and miles of red dirt of Katherine, and the magnificent chasms and cliffs of Kakadu National Park are simply stunning.

The second half of the movie moves into different territory, literally and metaphorically. When Laura locates her Mum on the Tiwi Islands we are in a different cultural sphere. Though part of our Northern Territory, they are 80 km to the north of Darwin adjoining the Timor Sea. They comprise Melville Island, Bathurst Island, and nine smaller uninhabited islands, with a combined area of 8,320 square kilometres. 

They are inhabited by the Tiwi people as they have been since before European settlement. The Tiwi are an indigenous Australian people, culturally and linguistically distinct from those on the mainland just across the water and number around 88 per cent of the population.

This has definite universal appeal with themes of family, friendship, cultural differences and reconciliation. Reconciliation. A good little flick with a subtle message and fun soundtrack.

Tip : Take tissues

*Bathurst Island has a fascinating history. It was from Bathurst Island that the Japanese aeroplanes were spotted headed for Darwin. The Catholic Father reported the sighting but no one took any notice. In the movie Australia, which depicted the Bombing of Darwin the island where Nulla and the other indigenous children were taken was Mission Island, which was actually Bathurst Island.

2019 Peter Allen Festival in Tenterfield, NSW.

Last year I visited Tenterfield to attend the Inaugural Peter Allen Festival, a colourful celebration of Allen’s contribution to Arts and Culture, not only in Australia but internationally.

A singer-songwriter, musician and entertainer known for his flamboyant stage persona and lavish costumes, Peter Allen was born in Tenterfield in 1944. His most famous song Tenterfield Saddler honours the memory of his grandfather, George Woolnough, who had been a long time Tenterfield resident and owner of the Tenterfield Saddlery on High Street for fifty two years. Classified by the National Trust the building remains mainly untouched to this day.

The 2019 Peter Allen Festival, held from Thursday, 5th September to Sunday, 8th September, will incorporate a range of activities including arts, culture, singing, songwriting, theatre, dance and entertainment and promises to highlight the rural lifestyle, heritage, history, food, local produce, and the indigenous history of the area.

Reservations for some of the big ticket events of the weekend are already available for purchase. These include Peter Allen On The Big Screen, The Jackaroos Breakfast, and Livy and Pete: The Songs of Olivia Newton-John and Peter Allen. Refer http://www.thepeterallenfestival.com.au.

Only 4 hours drive from Brisbane in northern New South Wales, Tenterfield is located in a valley within the Great Dividing Range. Its largely preserved architecture, natural attractions and rich farmland make it a worthwhile destination when needing to relax and recharge.

Tenterfield has a good range of accomodation options including hotels, motels, B&Bs, and caravan parks. Refer to Www.visittenterfield.com.au.

What is my fondest memory from last years Festival?

People singing in the streets, an entertaining show at the School of Arts Building that had us all out of our seats, and the infectious community spirit at the street markets where I purchased enough fresh produce, jams, and chutneys to fill the pantry. And loud shirts. Lots of loud shirts.

Tenterfield is also full of wonderful history. Take the time to discover it all. It’s well worth the effort:)

NOTE: When I drive to Tenterfield from Brisbane I allow umm, errr, …………nine hours * slinking with a slight dose of shame.

Morning tea at Pottsville just over the border with a whiff of salt air and/or a walk on the beach, a visit to Uncle Peter’s Secondhand Bookstore at Clunes, lunch at Casino (and some good country clothes shops), and a scenic drive in the afternoon to my destination via a quick stop at Tabulam, where General Henry Chauvel was born (and a monument to The Australian Light Horse).

I Slept Next To Keith Urban

Shhhhh. Girlie Secret. I’ve got this thing for Keith Urban. Yes, the country singer from Oz who married Our Nic after that fiasco with Toy Man.

Keith is really, really cute. Like a kewpie doll on a stick that you used to be able to purchase from the Easter Show. Do you remember those? I never had a doll on a stick of course. Far too whimsical. My parents usually bought me the Nock and Kirby (Hardware) Sample Bag, and my sister the Shelleys Glue Sample Bag. That was back in the day when Show Bags were Sample Bags and contained exactly what the name suggests – samples.

So for the past three years my treat to myself for the new year has been to see Keith perform live at the Barn. Or as some call it, the Brisbane Entertainment Centre. My friend Tash and I make a night of it with dinner and drinks and then fantasise about taking Keith home with us. Separately. Not together. No wrong ideas, please. This really is a positive way to commence the new year..

Keith and Our Nic bring the cherubs home to Sydney for Christmas with the fam, head back to Nashville for New Years Concerts, and then return to the farm on the Southern Highlands of NSW for rest and recuperation. Of course, our definition of farm may differ slightly but that’s okay……

Being interstate this year meant I missed young Keith Urban. I have to admit I’m impressed by a self made man who wagged Maths classes for two years.

But did I miss him?

Let me tell you about the night I slept next to Keith Urban.

Driving home along the New England Highway in the middle of summer and school holidays can be tiresome. I wish I could wiggle my nose like Elizabeth Montgomery in Bewitched and just “go” places.

We’d been on the road most of the day and it was nearing Wine O’Clock, so agreed to find a motel in the next town. Tamworth. Home of The Golden Guitar. Personally, not a big fan but the drive had been hard going. Ten klicks out the billboards are welcoming us to the Tamworth Country Music Festival. A big festival of ten days duration and starting that very day.

Holy Guacamole. CMF is Big Business and we know the town will be full of
Utes with bull bars, grey nomads, campers, line dancers, and God help me, yodellers. So we pull over at the first vacancy we come across : a newly constructed Conference and Wedding Reception set up. Suits me fine. No self respecting yodeller would be seen dead in a place so refined.

A good meal, local plonk, and we crash for the night thinking it odd that the car park is virtually vacant.

Up with the sparrows next morning and readying to exit a sexy little silver car drives in to the car park next to ours. Sorry, no further details about the vehicle. Cars are not my thing. But it is sleek, is silver, and is sexy.

Who sneaks in to a motel at 6am in the morning, I have to ask?

A country entertainer who has to perform that very night, that’s who.

And that’s my “ I Slept Next To Keith Urban” Story.

Don’t make me change it to a Chad Morgan (The Shiek from Scrubby Creek) Story, okay.