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.

Road Trip Around Southern Queensland Country – Silos, Murals and Hospitality

The Queensland State Government has been dishing out tourist dollars in an attempt to encourage residents of the South East corner to visit attractions right along the coast of the state that are doing it tough because of closed international borders. 

So of course we opted to travel inland following the Southern Queensland Country painted silo mural trail throughout an area that had endured years of devastating drought, followed by damaging floods. Our five day road trip took us to two painted silos, three painted water tanks, and nearly 100 murals. We experienced some great artwork, gained further insight into Australia’s history, and sampled a smorgasbord of country hospitality.

Let’s start in Toowoomba, only 2 hours west of Brisbane and Qld’s largest regional city.

The original First Coat Festival took place in Toowoomba in 2014 as a creative initiative to encourage public places to be transformed into street art spaces with the walls of buildings and laneways used as backdrops ( as well as reducing graffiti issues). Over the next few years over 55 murals had been completed, and although the Festival is now defunct, the artworks continue to grow in numbers. The most recent additions are within the Grand Central Shopping Centre.

And here’s my first confession:

Toowoomba with its four distinct seasons, despite being only 120 kms away, is so unlike Brisbane (that is either hot and humid or warm and dry) I tend to visit some of the 150 parklands dotted across the city simply to enjoy the gardens. Traffic lights and shopping centres are avoided like the plague. We did walk down Ruthven Street to take in the murals.

Second confession:

We hit the Fluffy Ducks. Big time. Think the last Fluffy Duck I consumed was in the late 70’s at the Hilton Supper Club listening to The Commodores. Long time ago….. Totally my fault. Couldn’t face the crowds.

The Visitor Information Centre has two brochures available: one to follow the mural trail, and the other to follow the mosaic trail. Both are very helpful.

To be continued………

1,000 Places To See Before You Die

This 531 page pictorial is not one that you would take to bed to enjoy. Far too cumbersome, and from experience you would be paranoid about spilling a cuppa tea all over it.

No, this is definitely a coffee table book – without the coffee!

Autumn brings with it a welcome break from the humidity. We are able to take walks in the middle of the day again, the ceiling fans have at last been switched off, and make up doesn’t slide off ones face whilst dining alfresco. The old saying that Brisbane only has two seasons – humid and dry – is pretty much on the money.

Which makes it the perfect time to get those legs on the move again. Lots happening in the South East corner over the coming months. It’s as if we’re all making up for lost time.

At the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy and your eyes sparkling. – Shanti

Off to a Rescue Deer Farm this week. Yep, like Rescue Dogs but with cuter furry animals. Deer and picnic baskets – a winning combination. Also off to tour an island only 40 minutes away with a horrific history of cruelty. A penal colony in the 1800s, any escapees tended to get eaten by sharks. Gulp.

Neither destination features in the above mentioned book. And that’s okay.

There’s a whole world out there, right outside your window. You’d be a fool to miss it. – Charlotte Eriksson

Darmongah Lookout Park At Mount Mee, Qld.

Mount Mee is approximately 90 minutes drive north west of Brisbane and is part of the beautiful D’Aguilar Range with spectacular views of the Glasshouse Mountains. 

View from Woodford

From the top of Mount Mee, expansive and picturesque views of seaside Caloundra and beautiful Moreton Bay can be enjoyed – except on rainy, misty days like when we visited. 

As well as the scenery there are numerous road stalls selling fresh eggs, pumpkins, and local honey. You know I just have to stop at these, don’t you?

The biggest win on this road trip was discovering the Darmongah Lookout Park on Mount Mee Road. After all the rain the rolling hills were green and littered with fat, fluffy lambs. No photos : it was too pea soupy.

Attached to the Lookout is the Mount Mee War Memorial which is just delightful.

The war memorial is in three parts; a memorial dedication, a growing pine tree and the Mount Mee Roll Of Honour. 

The pine tree was planted on Anzac Day in 2008 by local war veteran, Mount Mee resident Sapper Len Pedwell. The tree is a direct descendant of the last standing pine tree on the Gallipoli Peninsula that was destroyed by gunfire in the battle that later became known as the Battle of Lone Pine. 

Behind the tree a large iron bark log (Eucalyptus crebra), in honour of the township’s timber felling history, under an open gable-roofed shelter, which bears the Mt Mee Roll of Honour, for the First World War, Second World War, Korea, Malaya, Vietnam and East Timor.

The boulder carries three plaques: one commemorating the dedication of the memorial; one describing the Battle of Lone Pine; and the centrepiece, stating:- “We remember with gratitude those who served without counting the cost, in times when people’s freedoms, beliefs and ways of life were under threat. Lest We Forget”.

And then there is this :

Sir – would it help if I shed a tear

I swear it’s the first time since this time last year

My spine is a tingle – my throat is all dry

As I stand to attention for all those who died

I watch the flag dancing half way down the pole

That damn bugle player sends chills to my soul

I feel the pride and the sorrow – there’s nothing the same

As standing to attention on ANZAC Day

So Sir – on behalf of the young and the free

Will you take a message when you finally do leave

To your mates that are lying from Tobruk to the Somme

The legend of your bravery will always live on

I’ve welcomed Olympians back to our shore

I’ve cheered baggy green caps and watched Wallabies score

But when I watch you marching (Sir) in that parade

I know these are the memories that never will fade

So Sir – on behalf of the young and the free

Will you take a message when you finally do leave

It’s the least we can do (Sir) to repay the debt

We’ll always remember you – Lest We Forget


Damian (Dib) Morgan 1998

It really is coming across the unexpected that makes these little road trips so extraordinary.

Kilcoy , Queensland

Kilcoy is a small township, with a population of less than 1500, and is situated on the D’Aguilar Highway 95 kilometres north west of Brisbane.

In the early days it was a timber and dairy town. In recent years Kilcoy’s claim to fame is its abattoirs, including one of only two in Australia that are accredited to export horseflesh.

Why am I sharing this information? Because if you happen to be driving through town it is a must to stop at one of the butcher shops. OMG. Let’s talk about meat that melts in your mouth : Wagyu beef with the marble score of 9. Or you can do what we did : a Steak Dinner at the Exchange Hotel on the main drag through town. Delicious. Easily the best steak I’ve eaten for twenty years.

The Exchange is a lovely old pub built in 1901, which has been renovated over the years as required. The interior walls are covered with old black and white photos which tell the history of Kilcoy and surrounding districts. Fascinating stuff. For those taking an interest in Women’s History Month one of The Exchange’s licensees was Olga Brett, one of Australia’s youngest women ever to do so.

May I add that I was totally impressed that this pub out in the middle of the sticks had a courtesy bus to transport its clients to and fro free of charge. I live near four hotels, three of which are high profile, attracting entertainment and both national and international tourists. Do you think any of these offer the services of a courtesy bus? Not on your life! High Five to The Exchange.

Although past its prime since the closing of the railway this little country town with its picturesque views of rolling hills in close proximity to Somerset Dam is very proud of its history. The walking trail around the township is flat with places of historical interest highlighted.

This is a RV Friendly town with a couple of Motels and Pub accomodation. There is a historical museum as well as two wineries. Yes, I said wineries.

In this decade the cow is king, though it wasn’t always so. Kilcoy is also known as the Yowie Town with the last reported sighting in the 1970’s. For those unfamiliar with Yowies they are comparable to a Yeti or the Abominable Snowman (without the snow.) Although mythical the aboriginals stated they too saw Yowies in the days of early settlement.

If travelling around the area may I also recommend carrying a purse full of gold coins. There are road stalls along the way where you can pick up pumpkins, local honey, fresh eggs and plants. I do so love a road side stall, don’t you?

Kilcoy is another rural town with more than meets the eye. And if you’re local mark April 17th in your diary for the Digger’s Race Meeting at the Kilroy Race Track. This is an event designed to recognise and honour veterans, exservice personnel and peace keepers with Military Bands and protocols.

I think I’ll require a new frock.!

TIP: We Aussies have taken to the road in the thousands. If you aren’t in a caravan or motor home you are going to find it very difficult to find accomodation. Book ahead.


Bribie Island in WW2 and Yabbie Pumps.

Bribie Island has more seniors per head of population than any other Australian local government area and is affectionately known as “God’s Waiting Room”. There is also a higher chance of getting killed by a pensioner whizzing past on a mobility scooter than anywhere else in the country. And why not? It’s only and hour and a half north of Brisbane, Queensland’s capital city, and just a drive across the bridge to the Island. There is something really comforting about being able to just walk across the road to throw in a fishing line.

Lousy weather but who cares? Can you see the bridge?

Bribie Island is a haven for water lovers and the anglers and boaties just love the side of the island facing the mainland. Pumicstone Passage is also wonderful swimming for all ages and home to dugongs and dolphins. In fact, it was a Bribie gentleman that invented the yabbie pump.

The other side of the island, Woorim, is a surf beach looking out towards New Zealand and has a strong connection to WW2. An exhibit at the Seaside Museum at Bongaree (Free entry) highlighted this fascinating history of wartime Bribie.

Worth doing and there is a Scavenger Hunt to keep the Little People occupied
Not quite NZ. Moreton Island.

During the war locals were evacuated and both Australian and American soldiers were stationed on Bribie to practice both jungle warfare and sea landing skills. “Two mine control huts were used by Royal Australian Navy during 1942 and 1943, known as RAN 2. These monitored and controlled the guard indicator loops and mine loops set in the North West Channel.” – wikipedia

Well, you know I’m just a sticky beak at heart and this is what I discovered having left the patrolled surf area and having travelled as far as you can without a four wheel drive vehicle. This part of Woorim is well worth visiting as Rotary have added picnic facilities though it didn’t seem that many bothered.

More trivia about beautiful Bribie Island next time.

Up Close And Personal

The soft nuzzling combined with gentle clawing moved slowly up the inside of my thigh. Too shocked by circumstances I found myself numb, unable to move. Unable to think. Too stunned to react I sat perfectly still and waited for what was to come next.

The crisis was averted when the Spotter amongst the clan gave a chirp warning the fifty odd Meerkats in the enclosure of impending danger. The young female foraging for tucker under my billowing skirt immediately followed the spotters call and scuttled off towards the tunnels along with the others in her clan.

Living underground in burrows, which they dig with their long sharp claws, keeps mob members safe from Predators, especially in their natural environment of the deserts and grasslands of Africa.

Meerkats have bushy, brown-striped fur, a small, pointed face and large eyes surrounded by dark patches. They average about 50 centimetres long, including their tail and are extremely social animals.

Meerkats only go outside during the daytime. Each morning, as the sun comes up, the mob emerges and begins looking for food. They use their keen sense of smell to locate their favourite foods, which include beetles, caterpillars, spiders and scorpions. They”ll also eat small reptiles, birds, eggs, fruit and plants. Back at the burrow, several babysitters stay behind to watch over newborn pups. This duty rotates to different members of the mob, and a sitter will often go all day without food. The babysitter’s main job is to protect pups from meerkats in rival mobs who, if given the chance, will kill the babies. 

The Meerkat Experience at the Hunter Valley Zoo is certainly an Up Close And Personal one as I discovered.

The Zoo Keeper insisted that we sit on the dirt floor of the enclosure at all times during the 20 minute interaction with these inquisitive and social little creatures from the mongoose family. This reduces the fear factor for the Meerkats as we remain close to their eye level, and also reduces our abilities to make any fast movements which would frighten these flighty little creatures.

All our questions were answered by the Zoo Keeper who was able to identify all the meerkats and call them by name as she patiently explained their behavioural patterns.

Escape is certainly on ones mind when a Meerkat climbs onto your head, let me tell you. And why would a Meerkat climb onto your head? Two reasons : searching through ones hair looking for tucker is the obvious one – because who doesn’t have mealy worms in their long golden locks?- and also because it is a high point for that spotter Meerkat to watch for enemies.

This is a highly recommended interaction with the animal kingdom and one which we will always remember fondly.

The Hunter Valley Zoo is a private run zoo located at 138 Lomas Lane, Nulkaba, near Cessnock in the heart of the Hunter Valley, NSW. They also offer Close Encounters with Lemurs, Tamarins and Marmosets as well as exhibits of the usual array of animals and an extensive breeding program for endangered species.

With expansive picnic grounds and free barbeque facilities this is the perfect venue for family outings. There are regular talks from Keepers around the different exhibits which ensure that this is not merely a day gawking at the animals, but one where you can learn so much more about them.

My only tip? Wear trousers.

For more information go here:  https://www.huntervalleyzoo.com.au/

Some Bookish Gossip

Excited! Excited!Excited!

Words Out West is a Readers and Writers Festival based in the Western Downs area of Queensland sponsored by the Western Downs Libraries. March 2021 will see a line up of writers, illustrators, educators and musicians do presentations in a variety of venues including country pubs.

Never been to Watta. No idea where it is, but I’d kill to be able to tell people that I had a Parmi at the pub with Shane Webcke.

Pyjama Angels:

The Pyjama Foundation works with Foster families across Australia with a learning-based mentoring program called Love Of Learning Program.

Essentially this means that trained volunteers known as Pyjama Angels are matched with a foster child in care and meet with that child for an hour and a half each week to read books aloud, practise numeracy skills and play educational games.

So far, Pyjama Angels are averaging 

  • 101,000 books read to children each year
  • 714 Pyjama Angels trained last year
  • 1,416 children supported each week.

My daughter, who did a ten year stint with Community Services, highly recommends the organisation.

#realheroesdon’twearcapes

Just Because:

Visiting Beaudesert, S E Qld

With all travel plans flying out the window this year we have continued with our short trips away to places close to home yet previously unexplored. The benefits are numerous :

  • Provides stimulation. I tend to go feral when bored. It’s a Gemini thing.
  • Provides an opportunity to learn more about my own country.
  • Provides an opportunity to drop a few funds in a community that may be doing it tough
  • Provides an opportunity to pick up a possum tea cosy.

Beaudesert is 90 kms southwest of Brisbane making it an easy destination for day-trippers for those from Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Located on the Mt Lindesay Highway, the area sources its income predominantly from rural activities such as cropping, grazing and equine activities. 

The township boasts several heritage-listed sites including the Beaudesert War Memorial in William Street and the Racecourse and Grandstand on Beaudesert-Boonah Road.

Under normal circumstances, Brisbanites tend to drive straight through Beaudesert. I was meant to attend a Charity Race Meeting a couple of years back but consistent rain flooded the track which meant the horse racing was cancelled and replaced by pig races. I didn’t bother.

We used Beaudesert as a base camp to investigate some of the surrounding smaller areas such as Rathdowney. The terrain, after a little rain, with its winding creeks and Eucalypts is just lovely and is known as Thoroughbred Country with all its horse studs.

We visited the Beaudesert RSL ( Returned Services League, more affectionately the Rissole) for a beaut lunch and again later that evening for a Share Plate and something chilled in front of the footie which was appropriate for November the 11th.

There was also an interesting exhibition in the main street highlighting the local indigenous families who had contributed to the war effort in times past.

My favourite spot in town is the Information and Arts Centre where the Devonshire Tea with homemade scones overlooking local parkland was perfect. I also finished my Christmas shopping. No doubt there will be a rush on tea cosies.

One for Baby Kilometres for Xmas
And one for me.

Hay Bales At Kalbar, S E Qld

Another glorious Spring weekend made it perfect for a day trip out to a rural community.

Where did we go?

Kalbar, in the Scenic Rim, about an hour and a half drive south west of Brisbane and located in the Fassifern Valley, which is an area with high yields of pumpkin and carrots.

Kalbar Country Day has been an annual event since 1991 with its most prominent feature being Hay Bale Sculptures around the township with families and community organisations competing for the title of Best Hay Bale voted upon by the public. Last years event was cancelled as the drought meant that hay was in short supply and far too expensive.

So the city slickers flocked to Kalbar, population of around 1000, to support their country cousins, and to follow the trail of 81 colourful Hay Bales.

There was a Bush Poets Breakfast, carrot tossing competition, vintage car display and the main street was closed for market stalls which were offering mostly produce from the SEQ corner. Of course I came away with a pumpkin or two!

A lot of the old Queenslanders  (homesteads) are undergoing renovation and it seemed to me to be a popular destination for those chasing a Tree Change. Good luck to them………

QUICK QUIZ

How can you tell when you’re in a country town?

The Window Displays feature straw hats and whips.