Tenterfield NSW and The Breaker

Story, as it turns out, was crucial to our evolution — more so than opposable thumbs. Opposable thumbs let us hang on; story told us what to hang on to.

Lisa Cron, Wired for Story

I’ve shared my travels to the rural township of Tenterfield previously. Located just over the New South Wales border I have attended the Peter Allen Festival in consecutive years ( and became caught up in raging bushfires at a time when the drought meant the town water supply was negligible), and shared some of the history of their famous sons : Oliver Woodward from “Beneath Hill 60”, Henry Chauvel of Australian Lighthorse fame, as well as Major James Thomas who represented Henry Harbord Morant, more commonly known as Breaker Morant, who was shot by firing squad during the Boer War under questionable circumstances which historians continue to debate vigorously.

This journey was meant to be more tranquil. No maracas, just the beauty of autumn leaves of which there were plenty, though the story of Breaker Morant and his bush lawyer, Major James Thomas, gathers momentum on every visit to this beautiful country town.

1n 1980 a little Australian movie was released that saw me ring up the office to call in sick. It was my very first “sickie” and worth every bit of anguish, as I was employed in a role my father deemed appropriate for a single woman, yet I found totally soul destroying. Yes, the Australian Public Service. I conned my father into attending as his last venture to the flicks featured Betty Grable, nearly forty years beforehand.

The movie was of course Breaker Morant starring Edward Woodward of the golden tonsils and a young Bryan Brown when he still had his own teeth and hair. Who could ever forget  the Breaker’s ” shoot straight you bastards” with half a dozen rifles pointed at him. Anyway, yet another obsession was born, not as crazy as that of my fascination for Errol Flynn or St George footballer, Teddy Goodwin though I’ve been carting around numerous books on the debacle ever since.

Earlier this year I read a biography on “James Thomas” written by Greg Growden. It was rather a sad read as Thomas never really recovered from losing the case which cost Breaker and Peter Handcock their lives. He had served as a solicitor in Tenterfield prior to the war, dealing with conveyancing and wills, and after the war he returned to eventually take over the running of the local newspaper, the Tenterfield Star.

Upon retirement Thomas moved to a property at Boonoo Boonoo, west of Tenterfield, where he became hermit like and gave in to the booze. He passed away in 1942. Some 70 years later, after the Boonoo Boonoo property was being renovated, artifacts including a signed flag and a medallion worn by Morant ( sporting a bullet hole) were found at the Tenterfield Dump.

Talk about a story!

I will sign off with some sedate but spectacular autumn leaves.

PS. If you’ve kept up with this tale, you deserve to know that my dear old Da hated the movie. It was nothing like Legs Grable apparently.

F is for Films : Australian Lingo

Many expressions used in general conversation today originated from locally produced movies.

Note : I am making no comment on the quality of these movies, just that some of the  language has infiltrated every day speech.

The Adventures of Barry McKenzie is a 1972 Australian telling the story of an Australian ‘yobbo’ on his travels to the United Kingdom. Barry McKenzie was originally a character created by Barry Humphries – later better known as Dame Edna Everage – for a cartoon strip in Private Eye.

The basic plot summary has Barry ‘Bazza’ McKenzie travelling to England with his aunt Edna Everage to advance his cultural education. Bazza is a young Aussie fond of beer, the beach and girls. He settles in swank Earls Court, where his old friend Curly has a flat. He gets drunk, is ripped off, insulted by pretentious Englishmen and exploited by record producers, religious charlatans and a BBC television producer. He reluctantly leaves England under the orders of his aunt, after exposing himself on television.


When a male urinates in the toilet bowl


To vomit.

Be warned, we may come back to Bazza at a later date. His crassness knew no bounds….

The Castle is a 1997 film  in which a Melbourne family loves its home which is located next to the Melbourne airport. When government and airport authorities force them to vacate the house, they decide to fight for their beloved home. It spawned numerous sayings :


What to say when you’re feeling calm and content.


A scornful phrase to tell another person after victory. 


I’m so chuffed with this thoughtful present, I’m putting it on display for all to see.

Puberty Blues is a 1981 film is set in the Sydney beach scene during summer where two friends discover what it’s like to experience the joys of first-time sex and first-time love while sticking by each other through it all.


Sexually desirable

Muriel’s Wedding is a 1994 film in which a young social outcast steals money from her parents to finance a vacation where she hopes to find happiness, and perhaps love.


This is a popular phrase whenever someone says anything facetious.

Of course there are plenty more movies and more sayings but I’m full to the gills with hot cross buns.

Demystifying Australian language

Christmas Dinosaurs

I clocked off a few weeks before Christmas in order to get organised to play Hostess With The Mostess. As always with the best laid plans, and not having suffered a single day of illness since the Covid onslaught, I fell as “crook as Rookwood” only days before the arrival of guests. Having had 36 years experience of motherhood I soldiered on – as we girls tend to do – though my voice was more Johnny Cash than Johnny Cash.

Lots of dinosaurs this Festive season with the two year old obsessed. Dinosaur Hunts in the back garden, dinosaur charades, dinosaurs at the Hologram Zoo, and we rewatched Jurassic Park movies, 1, 2 and 3.

From Hologram Zoo Facebook

With 2023 we’ll attempt to shift the little bloke’s interests to bugs, especially now that I have him walking everywhere with a plastic bucket so he can bring home the sticks and leaves and other paraphernalia he finds on his travels. It’s called Meemaw’s Revenge.

The house is much quieter and cleaner now that they’ve departed, but I fear I wont see the beautiful grandfurbaby again who seems to be suffering from early onset senility.

One house guest remains who is assisting with the demolition of the ham. We’ve been catching up on her cultural shortfalls and watched Rambo First Blood last night – which she loved! Tonight I might instigate some at home kareoke still feeling quite able to replicate Ring Of Fire.

With my guest departing tomorrow I’ll be pulling down the blinds for a few days and just quietly dying. Or perhaps just catching up on some reading. This week I found Nicholas Sparks “too heavy” to take in.

See you in the New Year🥂

PS. “Crook as Rookwood” is an old Sydney saying, Rookwood being the local cemetery.

The Xmas Tree

I wasn’t going to bother with the Xmas Tree this year but changed my mind after learning I’ll be having a full house for the holidays. I know it is still too early to feel Ho Ho Ho and to play Glenn Miller’s Orchestra on the stereo, but I do need to consider space options and to plan accordingly.

The tree has been hosed, dried, and all wasp nests removed, and it is now homed in a corner far away from the action under my “Casablanca” movie poster. Interestingly, I watched “Casablanca” – again – only last week as part of the 80th anniversary celebrations since the movie release, during which I texted both daughters and suggested that with the grandchild now being 2 it was about time he was blooded. They agreed to sitting down together over a cheese platter and plonk during the holidays and educating the child. Said child’s father reincarnated Rick Blain at his wedding so “Home Alone” and “Christmas With The Kranks” would be wholly unsuitable viewing for a Little Person.

My tree is thirty years old and looks it. I’m not bothering with decorations because the grandfurbaby has been known to eat them. He’s a Lab and the Vet assures me that the reason Labs tend to eat anything is due to a chemical imbalance. Although I do have concerns along the same line for the tinsel the tree is so ugly it needs coverage. Fingers crossed that bub will be “blinded by the light”.

Cat Balou, aged 5, and I had a girls day out thirty years ago whilst residing in Adelaide. With only 14 months between her and sister, Pocahontas, I always thought it important to have some one-on-one time with the girls, so together we travelled by Obahn ( a bus on its own track) into the City for thick shakes on the Ground Floor of David Jones, whilst watching the John Martin Christmas Pageant snake through Rundle Mall.

Cat Balou selected our new Xmas Tree which we decorated with bibs and bobs handcrafted from Kindy and Play Group. I still have them all. Macaroni on cardboard. Toilet paper rolls covered in cotton wool. Probably a few more wasp nests if I looked closely.

In an other area of the house I am in the process of setting up a craft station for Harry and his Aunt. Together they can create some new decorations to cover the hideousness of the Tree.

Life Lesson : Afterall, it’s not about the Tree, is it?

The Week That Was

I’ve been totally irresponsible and the current state of the house is a consequence. The ensuite needs decontamination, lawns need to be mowed, and the second guest room is screaming for a lick of paint. Don’t even mention the garage.

Saw a local community theatre production of “Calendar Girls” last weekend, attended the Wynnum Fringe two nights in a row to enjoy some non mainstream theatrical productions, won the raffle at a charity event, and planted thirty seedlings.

Watched a bizarre little movie which I picked up at the local U3A Trash N Treasure Sale. Highly recommended to seek these sales out because they are all downsizers offloading quality goods. This little gem was the 2007 film “Across The Universe” described as “jukebox musical romantic drama” incorporating 34 compositions written by the Beatles. Baffling in that I have never been a Beatles fan, not having been exposed to their music during the formative years. The wooden HMV radiogram in the old family homestead encouraged Gilbert and Sullivan or Mario Lanza LPs. Boy, did it shake like it suffered from Parkinsons when I put my T REX on the turntable.

Even with my limited Beatles knowledge I picked up on the references to Janis Joplin and Jimmi Hendrix and being set during the Vietnam War was interesting. It is an enjoyable little flick and having read the trivia notes on IMDB I’m keen to watch it again – and soon. Still shaking my head at some of the drug references connected to the Magical Mystery Tour…..

Strawberry Fields

Then this Little Library, in Houston, Texas, came up on social media. Bizarre, I’m telling you.

This week I read Louis de Bernieres’ novella, “Red Dog“, which was transposed into the popular Australian movie of the same name, and just finished Jane Harper’s “Exiles“.

Harper’s first book about AFP Aaron Faulk was also transposed into a popular movie, “The Dry” starring Australian Eric Bana. Book 3 with Faulk yet again investigating a crime in a regional setting and I could hear Bana’s voice as the story unfolded. This is the last Faulk book and the author has given him a “happy ending”. I didn’t find that part of the story quite so believable but then I had all the romance knocked out of me years ago.

As always Harper has made the landscape a character in itself and although I now want to visit a country town boasting vineyards I may not be prepared to leave the motel room alone for some time.

The pumpkin vines were becoming far too wayward. They had to go.

The house keeping? I was told a long time ago by a wise old woman that no-one has ever had engraved on their tombstone ” She Kept A Clean House”. I’m holding on to that thought.

Change of Seasons

Spring slipped right by us and this week we ran screaming into Summer. Ceiling fans and salads are the order of the day once again. Sadly, this means that some of the projects I planned aren’t going to happen because of the heat.

The pumpkins are loving all the sunshine and have taken over my minuscule lawn. While they are producing I don’t mind but as soon as they stop they will be culled. Too good a place for snakes to hide. Project 1 successfully completed: blade of snake decapitator sharpened.

Project 2 : completed my James Bond jigsaw puzzle. Purchased in Tasmania during my August travels it has been calming when the news on the tv proved overly distressing (which is most of the time).

A DIY Lazy Susan project for Pocahontas for Christmas. The base is a coffee table top I purchased for $10 from the hardware store with $6 spent on the turn table. Bargain! The condiments I purchase to go with it will undoubtably be costly.

Project 4 is a work-in- progress. A gift for the Little Person. Just turned two he refuses to go by the name of Harrison. “No MeeMaw, it’s just Harry”.

I love art. Used to buy a piece every Wedding Anniversary – which I duly lost in the divorce. Have absolutely zilch artistic ability but I love colour. It makes me feel good and it hugs the spirit. Treated myself to a couple of hours painting ceramics during the week. Lots of colour added to a serving platter. My last one chipped after five glasses of champagne. Lets be clear : the platter didn’t consume the plonk, I did. Currently being fired. Touch wood for a successful conclusion to Project 5.

Project 6 required propagating plants for seeds. I now have 20 chilli seedlings and four mandavillas.

Project 7 : Epic Fail. First Guest Bedroom is stripped and sugar soaped. I lack the energy in this heat to continue

Project 8 : Christmas Shopping done and dusted. I live by the mantra ” No shopping centres come November”.

Two carloads from the garage have been taken to the Tip. Did not bring back any Frangipani cuttings for potting. Yay!

Project 10: Clear up a myth.
When the girls recently suggested going to the flicks to see Ticket To Paradise apparently one was supposed to get all giggles over the prospect of George Clooney. Ridiculous I know – I have Errol Flynn on movie posters all around my house ( which in hindsight may have contributed to the divorce). Anyway, George Clooney…………my father would call him “soapy”. I would say as boring as bat shite. Clooney and Julia Roberts are supposed to be in Bali stopping their daughter’s wedding. It’s a Furphy; filmed in Queensland. Ex-Clu-Sive Qld where rumour has it ol’ George’s twins were not accepted into certain venues.

Yep, Queensland; Winter one day and Summer the next.

Alfresco dining is very summer but you have to fight the midgies……….

Small Projects and a Book Review.

I was recently introduced to a woman of around my vintage at an author talk at the local Library. Turns out that she is a writer and during the worst of Covid was asked to commit to a “small project”.

Shirley Chambers’ “small project” was indeed a misnomer as it involved the chronicling of the rich literary history of Toowoomba and the Darling Downs, which are located to the west of the Great Dividing Range in Queensland.

Toowoomba, known as the capital city of the Darling Downs, has its colonial beginnings dating back to 1816. Much of its history has been preserved in its buildings and heritage-listed sites with the region also being renowned for its farmland and grazing. Shirley Chambers, who was born on a farm at Rocky Point on the Downs, has authored “Words From The Past”examining those who formed part of the literary landscape and how their time in the area may have inspired their life experiences.

Arthur Hoey Davis, born in 1868, is perhaps one of the better known authors from that region. Writing under the pseudonym of Steele Rudd (1868-1935) Davis wrote sketches of life which were based on his father’s experience as a selector, someone managing a free selection of land before it was surveyed. These sketches were combined and published as “On Our Selection“. The Rudd Park at Nobby stands as a reminder of his contribution.

Other writers were educators, some were country folk simply expressing their experiences in the bush, some became influences in the literary field, and Mary Hannay Foote, (1846-1918), was an absolute trailblazer becoming Queensland’s first professional female journalist. Several writers had their written work evolve into movies for the big screen, whilst the works of contemporary award winning children’s book illustrator-author, Narelle Oliver, (1960-2016), remain firm family favourites around the nation to this day.

Words From The Past” spotlights nearly thirty wordsmiths with a connection to the Darling Downs. Some were born in the area, others built their lives around the Downs, and a few were simply travelling through. It is an interesting and easy read which would appeal to those who love reading and Australian history, and at $10 a book ( postage additional) is going to make a delightful Christmas stocking filler!

Note to Sharon at https://gumtreesandgalaxies.com/author/gumtreesandgalaxies/, :I believe Shirley has banners featuring these writers at The Lighthouse…..

The Roots Of Heaven : The Book & The Movie

My latest read for the Gaia Reading Challenge was The Roots of Heaven by Romain Gary, considered ” the first identifiably ecological novel in the literature of France, and perhaps the world.”- David Bellos

I had watched the movie of the same name earlier in the year featuring Errol Flynn, of course playing the town drunk. Sadly, I doubt any acting skills were required and released only twelve months before his death should be enough to paint the picture. Poor ol’ Errol.

It’s not a good movie, prone to preaching, being over wordy, and all the big name actors try to outshine each other which grates: Trevor Howard, Eddie Albert, Orson Wells, and Juliette Greco’s bosoms. However, the storyline about a wildlife enthusiast who attempts to protect African elephants from being hunted for their ivory was interesting enough to encourage my pursuit for more information which surely says something positive for the movie. (As does the cinematography featuring jumbos in all their magnificence in  French Equatorial Africa.)

The book, written between 1953-54, received the Prix Goncourt for fiction ( “for the best and most imaginative prose work of the year”) and was translated into English in 1957. It too is wordy though beautifully written, and a great deal of effort goes into explaining the motivations of each of the characters’ stance on the killing of elephants. 

In begins with Morel, played by Trevor Howard in the movie, seeking signatures on a petition to cease the hunting. In all, he obtains only two names. Even the local Priest refuses to sign as he has enough misery in solving the issues of the Africans with their leprosy, poverty, illness and starvation. Morel bellows, “this is nothing to do with politics – it’s a matter of humanity“. All the misfits come together – the nightclub hostess (Greco), the American outcast dishonourably discharged from the Army ( Flynn), the journalist (Albert) – after much navel-gazing in an attempt to thwart an attack on a large herd. 

Of course, the novel isn’t that simple with a cast of characters with different viewpoints; the “environmentalist” capturing elephants as zoo specimens, the commandant in charge of the territory with political aspirations, the Jesuit priest, the politician using the demise of the elephants to promote the view that Africa’s natural resources are being “stolen”  promoting Africa’s stance that it should become an independent country. 

There’s a law which allows you to kill as many elephants as you like when they are trampling down your fields and threatening your crops. It’s a wonderful excuse for the good shots among us. All you have to prove is that an elephant has crossed your plantation and has trampled a field of squash, and there you are, free to decimate a herd, to indulge in reprisals, with the government’s blessing.”

Honestly, it all becomes too complex especially when you realise the elephants become a symbol for human life. 

John Huston, the Director of the movie, said he was “completely responsible… for the badness of The Roots of Heaven. I really wanted to make that one and Daryl Zanuck got me everything and everybody I wanted. But I had the screenplay done by someone who had never done one before, and it was bad. By then the cast, crew and me were in Africa; it was too late to turn back, we would have spent a fortune for nothing, so we went ahead and did the best we could.”

Producer, Zanuck (and sheet warmer for Greco) said “This picture is really great for us – intellectually great. Whether it’s commercially great, whether people will grab on to it, we must wait and see. If they grab on to a man in love with a bridge, then why shouldn’t they grab on to a man in love with an elephant?” 

Answer : Because there comes a point when a line is drawn between being lectured and being entertained.

30,000 Elephants killed in a year. Horrendous!

Far North Queensland and Movies

Over 1,700 kms (1,000 miles ) away from home in Far North Queensland and I’ve bumped into a friend from the Adelaide Hills, way, way down south and along way from the east coast. When I say bumped, I mean literally. My facial recognition skills are shonky at best, and when face masks, sun screen and floppy sun hats are added to the equation the result isn’t pretty. Funnily enough, it was actually her husband I recognised from photos, though we’d never previously met.

Carol and I became friends 12 years ago because of our shared love of Australian movies. We both wrote reviews for a mutual literary friend.

So it was perhaps apt that I bumped into this woman at the North Queensland Army Museum in Townsville where a knowledgable volunteer was enthusiastically extolling the virtues of an army truck exhibit which was driven by Nicole Kidman ( AKA Our Nic) in the movie Australia.*

It’s a fascinating museum manned by volunteers and Army Reservists with entry by donation. At the entrance is a sculpture that represents the Australian tunnellers involved in blowing up Nazi bunkers near Ypres in Belgium during WW1 as depicted in the movie Beneath Hill 60. (From the book of the same name by Will Davies and based on the memoirs of Captain Oliver Woodward. An excellent read!) The movie was shot in Charters Towers, 135 km south west of Townsville, with the sculpture donated by the film crew.

In an attempt to elevate the 20 month old grandchild’s education to a higher plateau – afterall, you’re never too young to learn about Errol Flynn, are you? – we visited the popular Australian Hotel in the trendy Palmer Street Precinct for a refreshing bevvy. In my quest for Flynn memorabilia I visited this area forty years ago only to find the Errol Flynn Room – so named because he stayed there prior to his move into acting and before his New Guinea escapades – closed for refurbishment. Back then the pub was a lonely dilapidated shell of a building down by the Port ; these days the area has been gentrified and the accomodation is as swank as. Sadly, the Flynn Room no longer exists. ( Wretched millennials?)

A further 400kms north to Cairns and we came across the Australian Armour And Artillery Museum. About over museums by this stage, though if you have an interest in the movie Fury featuring Brad Pitt then this place with its movie memorabilia ticks all the boxes.**

Lastly,  looking over from Caldwell to Hinchinbrook Island where Nim’s Island was filmed. Lousy weather which made it all the better for investigating Australia’s biggest memorial park commemorating the Battle of the Coral Sea.

Coming full circle and travelling south once again we stopped at Bowen, famous for its summer mangoes .The township of Bowen hit a high note when the main street was transformed into a 1942 Darwin for the movie  Australia. Think the beef cows being shunted down the main street and along the wharf…..

Of course there is more movie paraphernalia in Far North Queensland. It’s just difficult when your hands are full – peeling prawns.

* Manual windowscreen wipers – very handy during a cyclone

*My advice? Get your hair done while the lads knock themselves out.

May Update and Forever Shoeless Joe ❤️

May proved an unpleasant conclusion to Autumn with another “weather event ” along the east coast causing more property damage and loss of life. Anyway, it’s been raining cats and dogs and though no damage I can’t walk in my back garden without flippers. Literally. 

This means that way too much of May has been spent sitting on my tail. I confess to a dose of cabin fever and an overdose of caffeine hearing the news out of Uvalde followed by the unexpected passing of Ray Liotta. Forever Shoeless Joe. ❤️ 

Liotta in Field Of Dreams. What a ghost!

Read two books from The Books That Made Us List including Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet. Still not a big fan; some brutal editing may have endeared me.

Next month’s Bookclub read is Chasing The McCubbin by Sandi Scaunich which I devoured in one sitting, totally amazed that an author could write 60,000 plus words about garage sales. Yep, garage sales. Frederick McCubbin was an early Australian impressionist painter and it is an urban myth that stored in someone’s garage in suburban Australia is a McCubbin just waiting to be discovered and sold for absolute megabucks.

McCubbin’s Down On His Luck

The best read for May – and probably the year – was Infidel, My Life by Ahyaan Hirsi Ali, for the Around The World Reading Challenge. Born in Somalia Ali also lived in Ethiopia, Kenya and Saudi Arabia as a child experiencing political upheaval, war, starvation and the degradation of women in muslim communities. She is now a political activist living in the USA.

Infidel, My Life is one powerful read and what she shares about female genital mutilation will have you absolutely squirming and fuming!  For a list of her Awards go here : 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayaan_Hirsi_Ali.     Legend.

Watched way too many DVDs but Movie of the Month goes to The Proposition, a 2005 Australian flick filmed in Winton, far west Queensland, which I visited last year in between Lockdowns and this country’s first Dark Sky Sanctuary. Worth watching for the scenery alone it is an Aussie version of a Western. Intense, brutal, harsh, gritty – kinda John Wayne on Methamphetamines – and I had to close my eyes a couple of times.

The Dark Skies view in the movie from a similar position is outstanding.

Also attended Opening night of a local community theatrical production and celebrated my birthday in the swankiest restaurant at the Casino in Townsville escorted by the Love Of My Life. Pity he’s 19 months old.

No projects completed which is distressing and blaming lethargy caused by the constant rain. Starting the new month whipping up a batch of Tangelo Marmalade so, June, watch out. These little legs are on the move…..

The fridge contains several chilled Sav Blancs which I’ll be downing with Mr Liotta, who will be Forever Shoeless Joe ❤️