Some Military Stuff….

So much for a sedate start to the New Year. It’s all happening here on the south east corner of Queensland : tropical lows, the tail end of a tsunami, and floods. Yep, floods.

A while back I shared a visit to Maryborough, 200kms north of Brisbane and known as the home of P L Travers who wrote Mary Poppins, and the magnificent Gallipoli to Armistice Memorial Walk created in Queens Park by the river. See here :

https://wordpress.com/post/brizzymaysbooksandbruschettasite.wordpress.com/3246

Queens Park went under in the floods which provided one of the most compelling and slightly spooky sights in months.

In the park is a life-sized sculpture which commemorates Lieutenant Duncan Chapman, believed to be the first man ashore at Gallipoli, and a Maryborough lad. The memorial display contains stones and sand from Gallipoli and depicts the soldier gazing towards the high cliffs at the moment the first shots rang out. The floods seemed to recreate the scene of Duncan first stepping ashore back in 1915.

And A Book Review :

Cheerio, Don was written by Susan Alley, the niece of the subject of this book, Donald Mitchell, a young soldier who served in PNG during WW2. Taken from letters to his family and his diaries about life on the Mitchell dairy farm in Coraki, northern NSW, this is an interesting read because of the insights it provides about Australian life during the war years.

As the only son of a dairy farmer Don could have applied for an exemption because of his occupation. When called up for duty his only sister resigned from her nursing position to work on the farm to help Dad, only returning to nursing when Don was demobbed.(Note : upon Don’s return Dad would not pay his daughter a weekly wage).

Other fascinating snippets include the very real fear that the Japanese  would invade the east coast and a “Scorched Earth” policy was indeed under serious consideration.

My fellow Aussies : did you ever hear about that in your High School History classes? Or that the road between Nimbin and Uki was land mined to stop travel between Qld and NSW? Or that many folk relied on brown paper to block out the lights during evening “black outs”? 

It was the trivia in this story I found fascinating – ration books, trenches in school yards to “protect” the children, the price of beef –  which is so often the case in these biographies about family members.

Author Talk At Local Library

I have only one word to say after attending an Author Talk at the local Library : Wow! Just Wow!

Heather Morris is the author of The Tattooist Of Auschwitz (2018), Cilka’s Journey (2019) and the recently released Three Sisters.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz, is the story of how Slovakian Jew Lali Sokolov fell in love with a girl he was tattooing at the concentration camp and is based on a true story.

Cilka is just sixteen years old when she is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in 1942, where the commandant immediately notices how beautiful she is. Forcibly separated from the other women prisoners, Cilka learns quickly that power, even unwillingly taken, equals survival.

When they are little girls, Cibi, Magda, and Livia, the Three Sisters of the book title, make a promise to their father – that they will stay together, no matter what. Years later, at just fifteen, Livia is ordered to Auschwitz by the Nazis. Cibi, only nineteen herself, remembers their promise and follows Livia, determined to protect her sister, or die with her. Together, they fight to survive through unimaginable cruelty and hardship.

Heather Morris is passionate about telling stories and these are mighty powerful stories.

Other than the stories themselves two things stood out having listened to the author talk about her writing :

  1. In 2003 Heather was invited to coffee with a friend who wanted to introduce her to a gentleman with an interesting tale. Lali Sokolov entrusted Heather with the details of his life during WW2 which ultimately became her first book. He also shared stories about another young woman, Cilka, which became the second book. Three elderly women in Tel Aviv then reached out to the author having read about Cilka and their story became the third book. The story about how these books evolved is as fascinating as the tales within the books.
  2. Heather Morris wrote her first book at 65. You go girl!

Has anyone read these books?

NOTE : The author has been in discussions with the NSW Department of Education who have added The Tattooist Of Auschwitz to the school curriculum. WOW, just wow…

The Week That Was And Old Age

It was Melbourne Cup earlier in the week, Australia’s iconic horse race which literally stops a nation. Melbourne, in lock down for some 280 days due to Covid, opened up for 10,000 questionably fashioned party-goers at the racetrack – as opposed to the usual 100,000 plus- none of whom looked like they were a day over 25 years of age. I didn’t watch the race, didn’t pull a cork out of any bottle, and am unable to name the winning horse.

Is this a sign of old age?

The Beersheba Re-enactment ( for the anniversary of the Charge in 1917) at the Laidley Pioneer Village was interesting and well done, though I was disappointed with the lack of spectators. These dedicated horsemen and women are passionate about both their history and their horses and I would have thought that the event would have attracted scout groups, girl guides, and high school groups as history via a whiteboard and text book never worked for me. Neither did Shakespeare.


Saved a baby crow fresh out of the nest. Spent the morning on the phone to the Wildlife mob as he was wobbly on his feet and the other larger birds were overly interested. Did you know that walking on the ground for a week or two is what baby crows do? It was just unfortunate that this was the same day the first Brown Snake of the season slithered by the back door.

Went to the theatre to see Mamma Mia last night. Wonderful to get caught up in the joy of the music, and….da da…enjoy it maskless. Last live performance was four months ago when masks were compulsory. Do you know how depressing it is not to be able to sing along with a favourite performer? And I mean depressing. I would have been happier listening to a CD and ordering a pizza at home it was so sad.

So energised by the music and dancing – and that was just the audience, not those on stage – that I vowed to open a bottle of bubbles when I made it back home.

Didn’t happen. Too tired.

I’m just getting old, I tell you.

Tomato Update and Weekend Plans

Spring in South East Queensland lasted for all of a fortnight and then we pounced straight into Summer, evening storms and all.

The tomato plants have revelled in the heat and humidity and I have no doubt that the bandicoots that frolic in the vege bed at night will also be prone to acidic disorders from over indulging. The freezer is full of pasta sauce, a little heavy on the chilli and garlic apparently, and I’m now moving on to tomato chutney production. Not that I eat chutney but I can’t handle food waste. Blame the Depression parents who wouldn’t let us kids leave the table until the plates were clean.

The good news is that I will pull the remaining plants out on the weekend (before sunrise). The bad news is that means no tomatoes for summer salads and I’ll probably have to sell a kidney to afford them for Christmas Lunch.

Talking of waste, Australia has collectively moved away from single use plastics recently. Well done! So please explain somebody, anybody, why the shops are all full of plastic pumpkins. Crappy, cheap plastic pumpkins from China.
1. Why is Halloween becoming such a big deal in Australia?
2. Why is it that freight from China has been delayed since Covid but plastic pumpkins arrive in time for the end of October?
3. If children under 12 are not allowed to walk to school without parental supervision why are they allowed to go trick or treating? I’m not even going to mention the legalities of nazi teachers checking the contents of lunchboxes. I’m too old to open that Pandora’s Box.
4. If we really must instigate this Halloween business, how about next year we all plant some pumpkin seeds and harness our own food source?

So, you’ve figured that I don’t give a rats. Instead, and weather permitting, I plan on a much more appropriate celebration. Yep, a reenactment of the charge at Beersheba at the Laidley Pioneer Village. Entry is by donation.

Never heard of Beersheba?

On 31 October 1917, during World War 1, Australia’s Desert Mounted Corps led the famous charge of Beersheba by the 4th Light Horse Brigade, probably one of the most stunning victories in any battle or war in Australian history. This charge saw 800 Australian horsemen gallop their horses across three miles of open desert, through the Turkish defences, to win the precious wells of Beersheba.
 
The victory by the Australian horsemen, under the command of Lieutenant General Harry Chauvel against the Turks, was the beginning of a successful Australian campaign that led to the collapse of the Turkish Ottoman empire and turned the tide of war in the Middle East.

And I wont be watching anything starring Jamie Lee Curtis either. It’s the 1980’s Australian flick, The Lighthorsemen, or nothing. Forget the insipid romance between a young Sigrid Thornton and Peter Phelps before he got paunchy, it is a beaut little story and a reminder of old fashioned Aussie larrikins.

It would be totally hypocritical of me to wish you all Happy Halloween though I do hope you all play safely and that there are no chipped teeth from all those boiled lollies. I’ll be at Laidley – yee haa.

ADD TO 2022 TO DO LIST :
Instigate a community pumpkin growing plan and eradicate all plastic pumpkins.

A Morning At Highfields Pioneer Village

Highfields is a satellite suburb of Toowoomba situated on the Great Dividing Range, approximately 135 kms from Brisbane City. First developed in the 1860s for timber felling once it was cleared it became prime dairy farming land. Since the 1960s it has become a thriving suburb with all the modern amenities and the benefit of an abundance of mature trees which add to its street appeal.

Highfields Pioneer Village is located on 20 acres on Wirraglen Road and consists of over 60 authentic and well preserved buildings, relocated from surrounding districts, and all stocked with artefacts from earlier days. My parents used to talk of Coolgardie Safes – fascinating to at last see one.

Each of the buildings is dedicated to an area of pioneer life including the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker……silversmith, blacksmith and beekeeper etc. Some of the buildings have been turned into museums – ambulance, radio, fire engine, 11th Lighthorse Brigade – and the number of old vehicles and farming equipment is fascinating even if I am totally clueless as to their use.

My favourite is The Grinke Cottage with its colourful Cottage Garden which has been entered in the Annual Carnival Of Flowers Garden Competition over the past several years in the Cottage Garden category. Just gorgeous.



So proud of myself: I refrained from taking cuttings.


The Anderson Bomb Shelter is also interesting. Over 2,250,000 were erected, many in Australia, and were made homely with bunks inside and flowers and vegetables planted in the protective bank of earth. One joker declared ” there was a greater danger of being hit by a vegetable marrow falling off the roof of an air raid shelter than of being struck by a bomb”.

There is also an old church which is to this day used for weddings.

Honestly, there is a lot to take in here and it can’t be done in a short time frame. I would like to make a return visit and may make the effort on one of the Pioneer Village’s special event days which you can read about here : http://www.highfieldspioneervillage.com.au/events

We finished the morning over hot tea and damper ( with Golden Syrup – wicked, I know) cooked by one of the wonderful volunteers.

The Highfields Pioneer Village is another attraction hit hard by Covid and an ageing volunteer base. So wish I lived closer………

Tip : Add to Must Do List.

Murder At The Dunwich Museum

It hasn’t been a fun week with my only outings having been to put the rubbish bins out for collection and to check the letterbox.

In between Lockdowns (yes, plural) I did manage to attend an author talk organised by the Library in a nearby park. It was lovely to sit outside in the sunshine and listen to an informative talk by Dr Karen Thurecht, a medical anthropologist by trade.

Thurecht has recently released her first mystery novel, Murder At The Dunwich Asylum, which piqued my interest because the location makes up part of my playground.

The Dunwich Benevolent Asylum was established by the Queensland Government to provide accomodation for the destitute, aged and infirm and operated from 1886 to 1946. Located at Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island in Moreton Bay over 21,000 people were admitted during its operation with around 1000 to 1600 at any one time.

Although I haven’t yet read the book I enjoyed learning more about the Asylum’s history, and look forward to Thurecht’s coming novels which also feature familiar settings : the cane fields near Jacobs Well and Frogs Hollow, now known as Brisbane.

My Lockdown reading isn’t going well. Thank goodness for Daniel Day-Lewis sans shirt in The Last Of The Mohicans to keep a girl sane.

Only 16 hours until the postman is due to drive past again……

Another Must Do

With half of this country’s population in Lockdown and the rest of us either in masks or walking on egg shells it’s a little galling to admit that there have been some really good things that have come about due to COVID.

One of those is Theatre Redlands, formed last year during the worst of lockdown, by a group of experienced and passionate individuals who have formed an alliance with Redland Museum to share stories from our past.

Early in the year I attended the performance Women Of Their Word, a “celebration of Australian women poets who captured their times and experiences in verse – insights into what inspired them, the challenges they faced and the contribution they made to Australia’s emerging cultural identity”. Some of the women included Judith Wright, Dame Mary Gilmore, and my personal favourite, Maybanke Anderson. ( Never heard of her? Either had I! Fascinating – look her up.)

Last month Theatre Redlands had a new program on offer with a distinctive Queensland flavour to coincide with June 6th – being Queensland Day, when Queensland officially separated from New South Wales to become its own colony. ( I was taught at school that June 6th was D Day but I digress).

Down Came a Jumbuck is a whimsical theory about how Banjo Paterson might have come to write Australia’s unofficial national anthem ‘Waltzing Matilda’. I particularly enjoyed this given my recent trip to outback Queensland where I visited the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton.

Following intermission The Droving Days took the audience to “Pub Redlands”, the area in which I live, to join a group of retired drovers and their mates, reminiscing about horses they’ve known and ridden and tall tales of unlikely characters, all woven through with Banjo Paterson’s timeless ballads.

The recitation of Paterson’s Man From Snowy River was breathtaking. You could have heard a pin drop – the audience was enthralled.

So two things :
1. I am so looking forward to the next production from Theatre Redlands


2. There is an annual Man From Snowy River Bush Festival next April. Who knew??? Added to Must Do List.

War Memorials on my travels

Did you know that there is a Queensland War Memorial Register, currently with over 1300 sites listed?

War memorials resulted from a ground swell of community sentiment going back to the Boer War when memorials were usually situated within cemeteries. With the mass casualties of the First World War affecting almost every family communal memorials in prominent public places were established as a tangible symbol of national mourning. 

These memorials are ever so present in country towns where the names of the fallen indicate just how many local families lost their husbands, fathers and sons. Some are big, some are small. Each are poignant.

Roma, Qld
Longreach, Qld
Ilfracombe, Qld
Chinchilla, Qld
Exhibition in Winton, Qld, in a Troop Train transporting soldiers to the Big Smoke. ( Located in the Waltzing Matilda Museum)

These are just a selection from my recent travels. I’ve always been a sucker for these memorials and how they correspond to a township’s history. When I was in my teens and working for Veterans Affairs ( then Repat) my dream was to travel Australia and photograph all those in small, country towns. Copped the ” responsibility lecture” instead. In those days I listened to what I was told. How things change.

For more information go http://www.qldwarmemorials.com.au

Longreach – Lonely or Otherwise

With house guests and travels my recent reading history is abysmal.

Lonely In Longreach” by Australian author, Eva Scott, is chick lit that I picked up after having spent a few days in Longreach, 1000 kms north west of Brisbane.

I wont bore you with more holiday snaps though Longreach is home to some really big hitters in the tourist department. The Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, which opened in 1988, showcases the history and the culture of life in rural Australia. It is nothing short of spectacular : informative, user friendly, and totally fascinating.

Sitting in the outside arena watching a drover working his horses in the daily show reminded me of Errol Flynn in the 1950 movie Montana. (Yeah, I wonder about the things that go around in my head too.)

The Qantas Founders Museum is another Must Do as is the Sunset Cruise on the Thomson River.

All of these venues are mentioned in the book “Lonely In Longreach”. Which in turn had me thinking of another movie : Sleepless In Seattle. Same premise – kid worries his widowed Dad is lonely so fixes him up by signing him up to a Dating App and arranges for his choice of stepmother to fly in from the Big Smoke to give a career chat at the local high school. We all know how the story ends, don’t we?

Then I had to read “Everything Is Beautiful” by Eleanor Ray for Book Club.

Amy is a loner who suffered major heartbreak a decade ago and deals with it by collecting bits and pieces. Read: she is a hoarder with a house full of junk.

Readers were meant to be sympathetic to Amy’s situation though consensus amongst this group of readers was that Amy needed to “have a teaspoon of concrete and harden up”. Not the outcome the author was looking for, I would suggest , and I wondered if this was the Australian readers’ take as opposed to the English ( which is Ray’s ethnicity). Okay, agreed, the answer could be that my Book Club is full of neanderthals……..

Thank goodness for the coming Pop Up Book Sale fundraiser on the weekend.

NOTE:

Coming out of a three day Lockdown which had me housekeeping like crazy. I’ve deleted 350 “Followers” from Word Press. My apologies but at this stage of the game I am not in any need of nutritional or financial advice, information about cryptocurrency nor the stockmarket, and nor do I require the services of a pretty Asian lass. Don’t even start me on Life Coaches…….

Silos And Murals – Part 2

Forty kms out of Toowoomba along the highway to Millmerran you bypass the town of Pittsworth. Take your foot off the accelerator or you’ll drive past some of the prettiest murals along the trek each depicting the township’s history, culture, produce and attractions.

It’s amazing how much you learn from a mural and how many fellow travellers you meet along the way. I had to google Arthur Postle, a Pittsworth lad with the nickname “ The Crimson Flash” who held records in running in the early 1900’s, racing all around the world.

Another 40kms along the highway and this greets you at Millmerran.

Just WOW with parkland and onsite parking where you can stretch the legs. ( And a coffee cart. Yay!)

Just up the road is the Visitor Information Centre housed in a defunct railway carriage which is worth a visit in order to pick up a brochure about the historical murals dotted throughout the district.

My ex brother-in-law lived in Millmerran for a time. Because I didn’t like him one bit by association I did not like Millmerran. I know; makes me sound horrible but you wouldn’t have like the dipstick either.

I owe you an apology, Millmerran – what a lovely little town!

100 kms down the track is Yelarbon, with a population of 350 and with 8 grain silos covered with the most magnificent artwork telling the story of When The Rain Comes using over a 1000 litres of paint.

Australia is a big country, and Queensland is bigger than Texas, so you can drive vast distances and see nothing but landscape. Luckily I’m partial to landscape.

Last drive for the day, thirty minutes west to Goondiwindi.


Get a good nights sleep. You’re going to need it.

NOTE:

All of these rural towns have so much more to offer. In this instance I am restricting the attractions to murals and painted silos.