Wattle

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.

During my childhood growing up on a quarter acre block surrounded by suburban bushland Wattle Day was celebrated on the 1st of August, sharing the day with Horses’ Birthday. This meant wearing a sprig of Cootamundra Wattle, which flourished in Sydney, to Primary school on that day which seemed such a special event all those years ago.

I read something from our First Nations people (Dance of the Plants) about Wattle this morning which made my heart sing:

GARRON( Wattle) season is upon us. But if you believe in a little magic then you must listen to my Elders and my late Auntie Lennah♥️ a senior Bunurong Elder, she told us that we were never to bring GARRON into the house. It was to be hung on the door, outside the house, where it would keep the bad spirits away. If you bought it inside then you would get bad luck. The GARRON is a very important plant to Bunurong people, not only for food and medicine but also for bush dye, wood and a thousand other things.Enjoy the sunshine it brings right now as GARRON tells us the season is turning, soon it will be PAREIP(Spring).”

I have always loved Wattle. I have always lived with Wattle. Here’s one I planted as a sapling in the koala corridor that my house backs on to (to replace the palm trees that some idiot planted and which are not native to the area).

Some Wattle Trivia:
( courtesy of https://theculturetrip.com/pacific/australia/articles/golden-wattle-11-facts-about-australias-national-flower/).

-Australia was only federated as a nation in 1901, so its World War I efforts were integral to the formation of a national identity, and the golden wattle played a significant symbolic role. Wattle flowers were sold to raise money during the war, it became tradition to send pressed wattles in letters to wounded soldiers in Europe, and fallen diggers were often buried with a sprig of wattle.

-The flag might be red, white and blue but Australian sporting teams have been wearing green and gold on their uniforms since the late 1800s. The hues were officially recognised as Australia’s national colours in 1984 and these days you won’t spot a national sporting team decked out in anything other than green and gold. It even earns a mention in the cricket team’s victory song: “Under the Southern Cross I stand, a sprig of wattle in my hand, a native of my native land, Australia you f***ing beauty!”

-The designs of the Order of Australia medal (the highest honour an Australian civilian can receive), the National Emergency Medal and countless Australian Defence Force honours are based on the golden wattle. The national flower is also a common motif in works by iconic Australian artists Albert Namatjira, Sidney Nolan and John Olsen, as well as pieces like Banjo Paterson’s 1915 poem We’re All Australians Now, and John Williamson’s song Cootamundra Wattle.

– A sprig of wattle has appeared on the official symbol of the Commonwealth of Australia since 1912 … but it’s botanically incorrect. Wattle frames the kangaroo, emu and shield representing the country’s six states, but technically the spherical flowers and green leaves don’t provide an accurate depiction of the acacia. Ssssssh. Keep that one to yourself.

-Koalas can supplement their diets with Wattle if they are short on Eucalypts ( or aren’t too lazy).

Spring and Gratitude

We are almost one month into Spring and I am loving all the colour in gardens and bushland, the sound of birdcall as the fledglings prepare to leave their nests, and the baby possums clinging to their mothers’ backs when they visit early each evening for sliced fruit. The wallabies have joeys in their pouches and my tomato plants are bearing enough fruit for weekly charcuterie boards, bruschetta and to be thrown whole into pasta dishes. Tomatoes go so well with a chilled chardonnay, don’t you find?

A new friend

Last weekend I sold passionfruit saplings to raise funds for Wounded Heroes, an organisation that assists veterans at a grassroots level. I’ve been dining alfresco which is simply delightful and the feel of sun on the old bod is just so good.

Spring means a weekly morning walking club where we investigate new parklands, nature reserves ……..and coffee shops. The morning air is fresh and it is a time to be reinvigorated.

With all the negative media insinuations about an imminent Lockdown – after a football grand final on the weekend ( can you detect the dripping sarcasm?) – I have to remind myself of all for which I am grateful. I can deal with Lockdown, I can deal with the prospect of no ham for Christmas ( really, Australia, this is just pay back for our own stupidity) and I don’t give a rats if boat loads of plastic toys don’t arrive from China. *

The local church turned an unused building into an Op Shop during the first Lockdown last year in an endeavour to create some “community” in the area. They have since added a coffee cart and hold monthly markets to support local creatives. I will walk up there shortly for $5 coffee and cake of the day and to donate some books.

I have no religious affiliations or convictions whatsoever, though do live by the ten commandments – you just do – though fully support the efforts that this non-mainstream group go to in order to bring people together at a time when their is so much isolation. And so much fear.

I picked up a DVD from there for 50c last week, an Australian flick I wanted to see in the cinema but masks indoors ruined that idea. Palm Beach is geared to the Baby Boomer set and tells the story of three aging boomers, all in a rock group together back in the day, who reunite for a birthday weekend in Palm Beach, on Sydney’s northern beaches.

The movie stars Palm Beach and if you’re interested in checking out the lifestyle that Aussie’s aspire too this alone makes the movie worth watching. Actors include Bryan Brown, Richard E Grant, Sam Neill and Greta Scacchi.

I adored Bryan Brown in A Town Like Alice and The Thorn Birds. He was tall, laconic, and blokey and looked damn fine in a singlet. ( I digress, but what happened to singlets?) He lived only a few kms from me though from ” the wrong side of the tracks” as my mother would put it. Only a few years older than me loved him, loved him, loved him.

Finally, this movie reminded me that I am ever so grateful to still have my own teeth. ( Sorry, Brownie, but your Dentist owes you a refund.)

*I’ve been collecting the fallen paper bark from local bushland, soaking it, and using it to line hanging baskets. This weekend I will plant up the baskets with herb seeds and/or baby tomatoes. Children are being gifted books and clothes and for their parents a gift voucher to keep a local business alive, such as a hair salon, dinner at the pub etc. How bloody hard is it people?

Easter 2021 Favourites.

Brisbane emerged from a shotgun Lockdown to an Easter of rain. And it’s still raining. Apologies to all those (un)happy campers out there but I’ve loved it. Rain, as well as being good for the garden, slows you down. It limits your activity options. Yay.

And the garden is thriving. Pumpkins and rockmelons galore.

Read Daniel Keighran’s autobiography for Bookclub, Courage Under Fire. Keighran was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award in the Australian honours system, “ For the most conspicuous acts of gallantry and extreme devotion to duty in action in circumstances of great peril at Derapet, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, as part of the Mentoring Task Force One on Operation SLIPPER” on 24 August 2010.”

This young man is only a few years older than my daughters. The message I took from his story is that despite being brought up in abject poverty within a dysfunctional family – and we’re talking with a capital D – he was able to make something of himself to ensure a better life. 

The book is dedicated to his grandfather who was a softly spoken, self contained gentleman who served in WW2 and provided gentle guidance in young Dan’s life. He passed away only months before notification of the award. 

Based on a true story, the movie 0n Wings Of Eagles takes up where Chariots of Fire left off with Scottish athlete Eric Liddell having won gold for Britain at the 1924 Paris Olympics.

Liddell, played by Joseph Fiennes, returns to his birthplace, China, to follow in the footsteps of his missionary parents. As World War 2 looms the Japanese invasion of China in 1937 brings great hardship to the locals and Liddell sends his family off to Canada to safety whilst he continues to minister at a school and is imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp. Enduring dreadful conditions Liddell remains a leader of men, providing lessons to the children in camp, and by his patient endurance.

Released in 2016  this movie is often bleak though there are also moments of great beauty. Fiennes has never been on my radar because of the “hungry look” about him. I’ve always thought he could do with some of my Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pud. It works well for him here.

This Week In Books

With summer on the doorstep we are sliding into a heatwave this weekend. Thank God the house is currently spotless and full of both reading material and mangoes.

My Chilli Chicken with a Mango Salsa

The DVD Fairy made a donation to the Little Library last week encouraging a selection of movies not generally considered. These included POMPEII, featuring an abundance of flames and fury with poor little Kit Harrington copping the wrong end of the stick yet again. And then there was OBLIVION which caused a great deal of psychoanalysis on my part. Sci Fi AND Tom Cruise. Why do I self inflict like this?

This facility has become so popular in our local parkland that the Council has agreed to install a separate utility to house books for Little People, allowing them the sensory pleasure of choosing their own books. WOOT WOO!

Read Jane Harper’s fourth novel, The Survivors, based in a small coastal town in Tasmania, unlike her previous books where the harsh Australian outback becomes a stand alone character. Couldn’t put it down though I have lots of “buts”……….

Stephen Fry’s Mythos is a retelling of Greek Mythology and is written the way he speaks making it easy to keep up with who is whom in the zoo.


My garden is beginning to suffer due to the lack of rain ( though the media continues its scare tactics by quoting expected cyclones : Was 15 down to 4). Optimistic, I treated myself to a new addition:

Stay hydrated…….

A Rollercoaster Of A Week

What a rollercoaster ride we all experienced last week and that does not even include events on the other side of our world. Two of our most important sporting events were held according to our new Covid World and OMG it was ……….different.

 These were followed by The Junior Master Chef Semi Finals last night. The cooks are aged between 9 and 14 years and lets just say that they decimate my confidence in the kitchen. Grand Final tonight so I’m expecting tears. That’s me – not the contestants.

Take these cooks for example :

Mirror Glazed Carrot Mousse with Carrot Jelly and Biscuit courtesy of 10 play.com
Brownies with Candied Beetroot, White Chocolate and Beetroot Rocks courtesy of 10 play.com

One sweet little thing in pigtails cooked a pumpkin tart with a parsnip flavoured ice-cream. Who eats parsnip flavoured ice cream? Why would you even think of such a flavour? I don’t get it. My favourite contestant, a lad aged 10 whose favourite snack is Pate and Blue Vein Cheese has since been eliminated, though I see he is now giving online cooking classes…..OMG

On a more personal level last week I experienced a couple of Epic Fails.

My attempt at making clay wind chimes, without a lie, almost burnt the house down. Who was the imbecile that declared that creating home made gifts was a positive mindfulness experience ? Unless mindfulness includes a heap of expletives…..

And I had a death in the family. My favourite Rosemary bush carked it, requiring a massive effort for its removal. There’s more to the story including sewerage pipes, Grevillea trees, and several trips to the Dump but you get the gist.

The books by my bedside grew yet again. I’m drowning in them, I tell you.

And then there was this. Bless my cotton pickin’ socks.

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:

Spring, Bruschetta and Toowoomba’s Carnival of Flowers.

Spring in Queensland is delightful and I am suffering from an over supply of tomatoes and basil from the garden. Obvious solution : Bruschetta in front  a  Sunday afternoon movie. ( Shenandoah with Jimmy Stewart for those interested. An old favourite and the tune is hauntingly beautiful).

Spring also marks the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers, an annual event  for over seventy years that ensures thousands of tourists visit for the magnificent displays of colour, the heritage, culture, food and country hospitality. 

Toowoomba, 2 hours drive west of Brisbane, is Queensland’s biggest inland town, and at 700 metres above sea level has a kinder climate than our capital. The floral displays may not have been as diverse this year because of Covid 19 though the parklands full of garden beds were every bit as beautiful.

Looking out east from the top of the range to Brisbane and the coast
Poet, Dorothea Mackellar got it so right!

There are simply too many places of interest to visit in Toowoomba to mention in one post so I will tackle them in future posts. The Cobb and Co Museum is Number 1 to add to the Must Do List: it takes you back to the times of  horse-drawn carriages and steam trains with its interactive displays and heritage trade workshops in silversmithing, millinery, whip plaiting and blacksmithing. A great place for the Little People to become immersed and the fresh scones are only as country folk can prepare them. ( Question : Why is this ?????)

Bitterly disappointed to discover the Milne Bay Military Museum permanently closed as it requires a new location. When I last visited I was bogged down in school projects and laundry and was clueless about the Kokoda Track. Shame! Shame! Shame! Might be time for a few letters from a garrulous retiree or two….

So good to see you again, Spring….

A Vent. Sorry…………

I downsized prior to my retirement from a 1300 sq metre property with a pool to something less than half that size with less maintenance yet enough room to enjoy a garden. It’s a lovely position which affords me my independence and backs onto a nature reserve with far less work and expense. Isn’t that what retirement is all about?

With COVID my neighbours have been working from home even though in Queensland our borders are now slowly reopening and our infection rate is low. ( 6 deaths. Too many but ?) Half their luck.

Earlier this week the neighbour baled me up whilst in the back garden. When I say baled me up, I couldn’t see him behind the fence because we’re both short but I could most certainly hear him screaming at me.

For the second time of late I was reminded that they are “both gainfully employed whilst I am retired” with the inference that I sit around on my backside and watch The Bold And The Beautiful all day long.

I received a five minute scolding about :
⁃ talking to the wildlife
⁃ just talking in general
⁃ making funny noises whilst working ( sorry, carrying 30 kilos isn’t as easy as it used to be and there may be the odd groan)
⁃ and saying good morning to the garden each day really pisses him off apparently.

Meet Skippy and Swampy

The conversation ended with a “you’ve been warned”. In capital letters.

Firstly, I am retired, not dead.

The reason I retired young was because I worked hard for forty years and lived simply. I earned it in sweat, blood and tears.

I am busy most days which requires no further detail. Let’s just say that I believe retired folk are undervalued. Without their contributions many organisations would not exist, so lets start reframing the language and calling it what it is : pro bono work.

I would spend only an hour a day in the garden, perhaps double that when I mow the lawn.

My noise output is minimal. There is no motorbike in my garage nor do I have teenagers coming in and out at all times of the day and night. No pool, dogs, nor kids. I don’t even have a leaf blower. Old school, I use a broom.

I do have a courtyard that I look forward to using for entertainment purposes during Spring and Summer. Does this mean I should not be entertaining friends during the week, but only on weekends when the neighbours aren’t working? I’m not sure how to navigate these new living arrangements……….

Moving pot plants around is hard yakka

What really irked me was :

  1. You gonna bitch don’t do it hiding behind a fence. Wuss.
  2. Employment status doesn’t make you a better person than the next.
  3. Don’t even start me on Agism
  4. The old bod has worked hard in its day. I can’t physically do what I used to do thirty years ago but I give it a try. This is not Russia. You just can’t shoot me.
  5. My property. My house. Not ladylike but **** Off.

My apologies for the vent.

Tomorrow I will wake up feeling much better and say good morning to the garden as usual. Pity I recently sold the daughter’s drum kit………..

Next Project and Victory Gardens.

I’m very much an accidental gardener with a tendency to kill all indoor plants which explains my preference for native shrubs and trees : you simply ignore them and they attract bees and birds.

My vegetable garden provided much pleasure over recent months providing both occupation and produce. I claim that my unexpected weight loss over Isolation – despite way, way too much comfort food – was because of the produce straight from the “paddock”. It was satisfying to swap produce with friends as well: some tomatoes for Anzac Biscuits, chillies for home made tomato sauce.

So I’ve been encouraged and have recently planted a variety of Brassicas for winter. My thoughts have even turned to reforming my minuscule front yard into a garden plot for citrus trees and a variety of herbs.

Which has led me to reading about Victory Gardens :

From wikipeadia

During 1942 food shortages had an impact on the Australian home front with massive labour shortages, a severe prolonged drought, and major shortfalls in imports of seed stock and fertiliser. 

In January 1942 the Prime Minister, John Curtin, launched “Dig for Victory”, a publicity campaign urging householders to grow their own vegetables as a contribution to the war effort. 

Many Australians were already keen home vegetable gardeners, being self-sufficient, with fruit and vegetables and a “chook shed” down the back. Others took to the idea afresh and turned over their whole front and back gardens to vegetable production, often selling excess produce to raise funds for the front. Some people formed neighbourhood gardening groups as a means of feeding their families. Others formed gardening collectives, specifically to raise funds for the war effort. 

I grew up on a quarter acre block with vege gardens, fruit trees and the chook shed way down the back ( with the cubby house,  cowboy tent and rope swing).

A girl always needs a project so I think this is next on the list – incorporating a sleep box for the ducks, of course.

Vege Porn and Mr Do-Bee

The 20th of May was World Bee Day. Did you miss it? It was designed to highlight awareness about Bees and celebrate the role they play in our environment.

Here’s some fun facts about Bees:

1.  Honey bees must gather nectar from two million flowers to make one pound of honey
2.  The average bee will make only 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
3.  A honey bee can fly for up to six miles, and as fast as 15 miles per hour.            
4.  Honey has antiseptic properties and was historically used as a dressing for wounds and a first aid treatment for burns and cuts.
5.  The bees’ buzz is the sound made by their wings which beat 11,400 times per minute.

And lastly, Bees are sexy critters as they communicate with one another by dancing. It’s called the “waggle dance”. ( How’s that for trivia?)

I like Bees and encourage them to visit my garden with native flowering shrubs and a fertile vegetable patch. Currently, the sound of Bees at work pollinating the pumpkins filters around the neighbourhood, which sure beats the drone of lawn mowers and leaf blowers. Some neighbours even have pumpkins growing across footpaths.

Warning : R Rated Adult Content

Last year, presumably because of the lack of rain, Bees were in short supply. We had to pollinate the pumpkins manually. Yep, vege porn. The pumpkin crop proved a huge success, thank goodness. Lots of soup to sustain us throughout winter.

I grew up with the children’s TV program, Romper Room, in the early 1960’s which encouraged my affection for Bees.

Mr. Do-Bee was an oversized bumblebee character who taught children proper manners. His sentences began with, “Do Bee good boys and girls for your parents!” Of course, there was a Mr. Don’t Bee to teach what not to do. How I longed for a Mr Do-Bee puppet…

Do-Bee good this weekend and have fun. Be kind a play safely.