“ Because when I read, I don’t really read… I pop a beautiful sentence into my mouth and suck it like a fruit drop, or I sip it like a liqueur until the thought dissolves in me like alcohol, infusing brain and heart and coursing on through the veins to the root of each blood vessel.” Bohumil Hrabal
Just because I haven’t shared many books recently doesn’t mean I’m not reading. As always my life is surrounded by books, many in boxes ready for the continuation of their journey to a charity shop, to the Little Community Library, or to the next Literacy fundraiser. I put my hand up to volunteer one morning a week at the local aged advocacy organisation and without knowing anything about me they’ve asked if I’de take on their library. Bizarre…..
Books continue to pile up by my bedside. With the pointy end of the year closing in the size is not decreasing. There have been too many distractions to read anything of any substance.
Such as a Poetry Workshop. Yep, poetry, as foreign to me as an ironing board or knitting needles.
Although it was an interesting afternoon and the facilitator was fascinating poetry is just not my thing.
I blame the education curriculum of the 1970’s. Why would you waste three months talking about the love sonnets of John Donne to 14 year olds? At that age it was all about Farrah Fawcett hairdos and fur mini skirts.
It’s interesting, isn’t it, that as kiddies in Primary School we can all draw, all sing and all enjoy The Owl and the Pussy Cat, but once we reach High School we are labelled either good or bad at something.
One positive did come from the Poetry Workshop:
Now looking forward to attending The Oracles of The Bush Festival, an annual event which celebrates Australian Bush poetry, music and literature. Diarised for 2-5 April, 2020 in Tenterfield, northern New South Wales. This is another opportunity to learn something about my own country, and maybe spend a few coins giving our country folk doing it tough a bit of a hand.
I’m a seafood snob. Comes from catching, filleting and cooking my own fish since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Both my parents were keen fishos ( to non Aussies thats fisherpersons. We lazy Dinky-Di’s abbreviate nearly everything) and I received my first rod at the age of 3 or 4. Our annual family holidays were always at a sleepy fishing village on the south coast of New South Wales, which thanks to progress is now bustling. One of those places where you take your life into your own hands trying to cross the road.
We never holidayed anywhere else. My father would say “ I’ve seen the world. Dropped bombs on it.” I was always badgering him to go somewhere different and new. Never happened. “ I’ve seen the world. It didn’t impress.”. To shut me up he gave me airline tickets for my 21st birthday. To Port Macquarie – 350 klms up the coast from home.
Although my sister and I revelled in the beach culture eating seafood three meals a day quickly lost its appeal. Can’t even consider cold fish on toast for breakfast these days.
We learnt so very much about seafood as my Dad was instrumental in tax law changes in line with the seasonal catches of the local Italian fishing fleet all those years ago.
So I know my seafood. Fresh fish and prawns are as familiar to me as dark chocolate.
Therefore I have never eaten seafood at restaurants ( makes me a cheap date, I know), and don’t buy any seafood for Easter nor Christmas despite it being traditional, as so much of it has spent time in the deep freeze.
And I would throw myself under a train before eating any of that imported rubbish from Asia so readily available in supermarkets. Just pass me a bucket…….
A seafood banquet is my speciality when guests come to town. Admittedly, I think its the only reason the son-in-law visits.
So I’m excited about the Straddie Oyster Festival, an annual event which provides local farmers, fishermen, and restaurateurs the opportunity to promote their produce in a relaxed party atmosphere in parkland backing on to Moreton Bay.
North Stradbroke Island, affectionately known as Straddie, is a sub-tropical island located 30 km southeast of Brisbane and is the world’s second largest sand island. Take my word that the 30 minute trip by water taxi or 60 minute journey by barge from the mainland across to the island is a delightful respite from the Big Smoke in itself.
But back to the Oyster Festival held at the Ron Stark Oval in Dunwich with its beautiful water views. There will be prawn and oyster eating competitions as well as live mud crab races. Market stalls and live music will keep Mums and Dads contented whilst the jumping castle and face painting will keep the kiddies occupied.
And remember, with the Festival taking place on Saturday, 23rd of November, from 10am till 6pm, it will be warm enough for the children to paddle and play in the sand so pack their swimming gear. (Always wears them out and ensures a good nights sleep which I totally endorse).
Minjerribah, as North Stradbroke is known by the traditional landowners, will also have Indigenous Art displays including framed ceramic tiles, fibreglass turtle shells, and artworks. I’m as keen as mustard.
NOTE: North Stradbroke Island is well worth a visit at any time of year. It’s Mother Nature at its best ( and sometimes at her worst).
Seafood Breakfast in Tasmania is an exception to the rule. Doesn’t matter what the time of day a girl never declines the offer of Tasmanian Scallops or a Scallop Pie.
Lastly, here are some amazing facts about our Moreton Bay Marine Park:
It’s Queensland’s third-largest—and one of Australia’s top 12—shorebird habitats.
It’s one of three extensive intertidal areas of seagrass, mangroves and saltmarsh on Australia’s east coast.
It supports the southernmost population of dugong in Australia and is among the top 10 habitats nationally for this vulnerable species.
It’s one of the most important feeding areas for threatened marine turtles along Australia’s east coast and we have 6 of the world’s 7 species of marine turtles!
bottlenose dolphin population, centred around Point Lookout, is one of the largest congregations of bottlenose dolphins in the world!
Alas, Progress is threatening the bay with plans to build 3,600 units into the Mangroves despite it being a designated RAMSAR Wetlands area. End of rant.
This time last year I spent several days in Tenterfield, New South Wales, for the inaugural Peter Allen Festival. Less than twenty kilometres across the border from Queensland and with a population of less than 5,000 you wouldn’t think there would be much more to learn about a rural township.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
This trip was a whole different kettle of fish and included a tour of the town with a local historian. So much information to take in when a girl has a head full of music, local Sav Blanc, and sore muscles earned on the dance floor.
I was already aware that Solicitor, Major James Francis Thomas, who defended Harry Harbord Morant at his court-martial for war crimes during the Boer War, was a Tenterfield lad. Thomas was portrayed by Jack Thompson in the 1980 film Breaker Morant.
Thomas died in the 1940’s a rather broken man though well regarded. Only within the last ten years a sugar bag full of Thomas’ military memorabilia was found at the local Tenterfield Tip having been stored at an old rural property just out of town.
What was in the sugar bag?
A penny on a leather string inscribed H H Morant which was worn by The Breaker around his neck when he was executed by a British firing squad in 1902 and bears the mark of a bullet hole.
An Australian red ensign bearing the names of Morant and his co-accused, Peter Handcock. Their birth and execution dates are inked into the Southern Cross stars on the design. It reads: “Utter scapegoats of the Empire”. There is a grainy 1902 photograph of Thomas standing by the flag-draped grave in Pretoria of the dead Anglo-Australian horseman, bush poet and military officer, and this is believed to be that same flag.
A first edition, signed copy of George Whitton’s book, Scapegoats of the Empire, the Lieutenant’s account of court proceedings. ( He was sentenced to Life Imprisonment).
All artefacts are available for viewing at the School of Arts in Tenterfield.
LIFE LESSON: Always expect the unexpected.
Note : Tenterfield is just one of many rural towns suffering severe drought with dam levels down to 30 per cent. Much of the district was engulfed in flames during our visit, with no power and two major highways cut.
Thank you to the wonderful people of Tenterfield for their hospitality over the Peter Allen Festival weekend. Thank you all so much for your grace under fire – literally. Thank you for sharing your stories, your hearts, and your history.
A huge thank you to the organising team. You are all “the sons and daughters” and we’ll be back again next year. May the coming months be kinder to you all.
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.
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…..
Australia’s contribution to the museum collection includes Witchetty Grubs and Vegemite – sacrilege!
Perhaps most surprising within the museum is the presence of the humble Musk Stick. They’re simple, unassuming lollies that neither creep nor crawl. Hot pink and sickly sweet they are a throwback to many Australian childhoods. I have memories of crushing them up into the milk we were given in bottles at primary school, though I won’t share that with my daughters as I’m still nagging them about the benefits of Brussel Sprouts.
Who didn’t make their first trip to the “pictures” without a couple of musk sticks in a white paper bag? At 1c each they were an absolute bargain.
Selected Cinemas across the nation are holding a Hollywood Classics Festival until early December. Movies will be shown at the first time slot on Monday mornings once a fortnight. It’s going to be a bit early to eat a Musk Stick but I’m going to give it a go in silent protest and a nod to the past. That’s my August Goal. Judy Garland on the big screen at breakfast, tragics singing along to The Trolly Song, without throwing up.
Without being too controversial the best thing about visiting Brisbane in S.E Queensland is North Stradbroke Island. Casinos? Patting a koala? No thanks. Give me Straddie each and every time.
Winter on Minjerribah, as North Stradbroke is known to the traditional landowners, is also a time of much activity on the Island. The Quandamooka Festival runs across the winter months, and celebrates the original custodians and culture of the people living from Cape Moreton, on Moreton Island, south along the coast to Logan River, stopping just short of the Gold Coast, and including the Bay islands.
This year a wide variety of events have been organised including whale watching, cultural tours, Kunjiel (corroborees), music, eco boat tours, art exhibitions, fibre art and weaving workshops, bush tucker dining, arts and cultural talks by specialists, and First Nations dancers and performers.
I enjoyed the Opening Day at this festival at Dunwich on Straddie last year where we were welcomed with the smoke ceremony to ward off evil spirits. Although there is a variety of accomodation choices on the Island a day trip on the ferry from Cleveland is also a viable option. The twenty-five minute Bay crossing is simply beautiful and booking ahead is not required. Keep an eye out for dolphins and dugongs too!
The Squeeze and I enjoyed the aboriginal dances and music which were given relevance according to the culture. The Dance Of The Eagles, for example, refers to the schools of Mullet that arrive in the local waterways in winter. When the Eagles spot these fish they ignore the leaders, or first schools, as these are the Elders who show the way to the other schools of fish. The Eagle then goes in to feed on these younger fish.
￼What a wonderful opportunity to learn from another culture and to see the young children also learning by participation.
When the kids were little we would spend several long weekends a year on the surf side: lots of long beach walks, body surfing, and fish and chips in wet cossies at the pub. It’s beauty is stunning, wild and untamed.
The Hotel has since undergone a revamp and dripping wet bods are no longer allowed. Property prices have skyrocketed, and sadly, progress is beginning to leave its mark. * Find the twenty minutes to undertake the Gorge Walk and you’ll have a true understanding of how spectacular, brutal, and intoxicating Mother Nature can be.
I’ll be making the journey for the festival shortly. I’ll also be visiting the Historical Museum at Dunwich ( facing the Mainland) which was formally Brisbane’s Benevolent Asylum. The fish and chips will be much appreciated too.