Poetry And Another Festival.

Because when I read, I don’t really read… I pop a beautiful sentence into my mouth and suck it like a fruit drop, or I sip it like a liqueur until the thought dissolves in me like alcohol, infusing brain and heart and coursing on through the veins to the root of each blood vessel.” Bohumil Hrabal

Just because I haven’t shared many books recently doesn’t mean I’m not reading. As always my life is surrounded by books, many in boxes ready for the continuation of their journey to a charity shop, to the Little Community Library, or to the next Literacy fundraiser. I put my hand up to volunteer one morning a week at the local aged advocacy organisation and without knowing anything about me they’ve asked if I’de take on their library. Bizarre…..

Books continue to pile up by my bedside. With the pointy end of the year closing in the size is not decreasing. There have been too many distractions to read anything of any substance.

Such as a Poetry Workshop. Yep, poetry, as foreign to me as an ironing board or knitting needles.

Although it was an interesting afternoon and the facilitator was fascinating poetry is just not my thing.

I blame the education curriculum of the 1970’s. Why would you waste three months talking about the love sonnets of John Donne to 14 year olds? At that age it was all about Farrah Fawcett hairdos and fur mini skirts.

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that as kiddies in Primary School we can all draw, all sing and all enjoy The Owl and the Pussy Cat, but once we reach High School we are labelled either good or bad at something.

One positive did come from the Poetry Workshop:

Now looking forward to attending The Oracles of The Bush Festival, an annual event which celebrates Australian Bush poetry, music and literature. Diarised for 2-5 April, 2020 in Tenterfield, northern New South Wales. This is another opportunity to learn something about my own country, and maybe spend a few coins giving our country folk doing it tough a bit of a hand.

This property was where the wedding reception for Australian bush poet Banjo Paterson and Tenterfield lass, Alice Walker, was held.

For more information go to:

http://www.tenterfieldtourism.com.au/events-details.php?eid=14

Oh, and if anyone is interested in completing my poetry homework that would be very helpful, thank you.

Another Festival Just Across The Ditch.

First of all a confession:

I’m a seafood snob. Comes from catching, filleting and cooking my own fish since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Both my parents were keen fishos ( to non Aussies thats fisherpersons. We lazy Dinky-Di’s abbreviate nearly everything) and I received my first rod at the age of 3 or 4. Our annual family holidays were always at a sleepy fishing village on the south coast of New South Wales, which thanks to progress is now bustling. One of those places where you take your life into your own hands trying to cross the road.

Ummmm, a while ago……

We never holidayed anywhere else. My father would say “ I’ve seen the world. Dropped bombs on it.” I was always badgering him to go somewhere different and new. Never happened. “ I’ve seen the world. It didn’t impress.”. To shut me up he gave me airline tickets for my 21st birthday. To Port Macquarie – 350 klms up the coast from home.

Although my sister and I revelled in the beach culture eating seafood three meals a day quickly lost its appeal. Can’t even consider cold fish on toast for breakfast these days.

We learnt so very much about seafood as my Dad was instrumental in tax law changes in line with the seasonal catches of the local Italian fishing fleet all those years ago.

So I know my seafood. Fresh fish and prawns are as familiar to me as dark chocolate.

Therefore I have never eaten seafood at restaurants ( makes me a cheap date, I know), and don’t buy any seafood for Easter nor Christmas despite it being traditional, as so much of it has spent time in the deep freeze.

And I would throw myself under a train before eating any of that imported rubbish from Asia so readily available in supermarkets. Just pass me a bucket…….

A seafood banquet is my speciality when guests come to town. Admittedly, I think its the only reason the son-in-law visits.

So I’m excited about the Straddie Oyster Festival, an annual event which provides local farmers, fishermen, and restaurateurs the opportunity to promote their produce in a relaxed party atmosphere in parkland backing on to Moreton Bay.

North Stradbroke Island, affectionately known as Straddie, is a sub-tropical island located 30 km southeast of Brisbane and is the world’s second largest sand island. Take my word that the 30 minute trip by water taxi or 60 minute journey by barge from the mainland across to the island is a delightful respite from the Big Smoke in itself.

Catching the water taxi over to Straddie

But back to the Oyster Festival held at the Ron Stark Oval in Dunwich with its beautiful water views. There will be prawn and oyster eating competitions as well as live mud crab races. Market stalls and live music will keep Mums and Dads contented whilst the jumping castle and face painting will keep the kiddies occupied.

And remember, with the Festival taking place on Saturday, 23rd of November, from 10am till 6pm, it will be warm enough for the children to paddle and play in the sand so pack their swimming gear. (Always wears them out and ensures a good nights sleep which I totally endorse).

View from Dunwich back over to the mainland



Minjerribah, as North Stradbroke is known by the traditional landowners, will also have Indigenous Art displays including framed ceramic tiles, fibreglass turtle shells, and artworks. I’m as keen as mustard.

NOTE: North Stradbroke Island is well worth a visit at any time of year. It’s Mother Nature at its best ( and sometimes at her worst).

Seafood Breakfast in Tasmania is an exception to the rule. Doesn’t matter what the time of day a girl never declines the offer of Tasmanian Scallops or a Scallop Pie.

Cheers!

Lastly, here are some amazing facts about our Moreton Bay Marine Park:

  • It’s Queensland’s third-largest—and one of Australia’s top 12—shorebird habitats.  
  • It’s one of three extensive intertidal areas of seagrass, mangroves and saltmarsh on Australia’s east coast. 
  • It supports the southernmost population of dugong in Australia and is among the top 10 habitats nationally for this vulnerable species.
  • It’s one of the most important feeding areas for threatened marine turtles along Australia’s east coast and we have 6 of the world’s 7 species of marine turtles!
  •  bottlenose dolphin population, centred around Point Lookout, is one of the largest congregations of bottlenose dolphins in the world!

Alas, Progress is threatening the bay with plans to build 3,600 units into the Mangroves despite it being a designated RAMSAR Wetlands area.
End of rant.

Halleluja

When they told me that the music would contain lots of Hallelujas my mind went immediately to singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen.

Imagine my surprise then at the beautiful Mandeville Hall in the grounds of Loreto College in Melbourne’s very swish Toorak, the Hallelujas were part of Frideric Handel’s Messiah. Originally an Easter offering this English-language oratorio burst onto the stage of Musick Hall in Dublin on April 13, 1742.

We enjoyed excerpts performed by Cantus and Sonare Novesia, from the Cathedral of St Quirinus, in Neuss, Germany. Eight glorious voices soared through the rafters and we were left absolutely spellbound.

And yet another performance at St Patrick’s Cathedral in East Melbourne.

Normally when you hear of Melbourne talk turns to Federation Square, Lygon Street, Southbank and the Victoria Markets. And the Casino. Who cares!

We were spoiled by several days in South Yarra, 4 kms out of the CBD and roughly 1,300 kilometres south of Brisbane. A bustling, upscale suburb with art deco apartments facing the Yarra, and well-preserved mansions, South Yarra is full of swanky boutiques, art galleries, cocktail lounges and eclectic bistros. I was tempted by a cat collar with bell for $77 – Ha ha ha -and of course I came upon a great bookstore.

Avoca Book Store, Toorak Road, South Yarra

I’ve been known to favour walking tours of an eclectic nature when I travel and I wasn’t disappointed with South Yarra’s offering of a two hour stroll with an architectural expert explaining the various styles of housing.

Both trams and train service South Yarra and the nearby Botanical Gardens and other reserves offer a great stretch of the legs. Honestly, it was just so therapeutic being surrounded by greenery after having been in drought effected territory for so long.( Note to self : plant more trees this week and steer clear of chocolate).

We went Airbnb. I love them and detest the impersonality of hotels. After all, seen one marble bathroom, you’ve seen them all.

Halleluja!

To Censor or not to Censor – that is the question.

Second-hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack. Besides, in this random miscellaneous company we may rub against some complete stranger who will, with luck, turn into the best friend we have in the world.”

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

The Little Community Library in the parkland near my home continues to gain momentum. I put a call out for more children’s books at the beginning of the school holidays and the neighbourhood came good with DVDs, small toys, and colouring in sets as well as a variety of reading material.

Over the past weeks there has also been the donation of numerous LGBT Romance novels. Often they are sneakily hidden between the pages of other books.

Personally, I’m not offended, but as this communal Library is frequented by children of all ages who utilise the reserve with its playground equipment I have been taking these books out of circulation. Effectively I’ve played Censor. It doesn’t sit well but I have genuine concerns that if a 7 year old goes home with one of these novels a parent could go into meltdown. This could possibly result in the loss of this resource.

A friend has questioned my stance, given that I’m not so zealous with the plethora of religious books that are donated.

None of these books are tossed into the garbage bin. They are donated to an organisation where they can be better appreciated. The plethora of religious books are given two weeks on the shelves before they are removed. I think that’s generous.

Am I becoming a Book Nazi?

The National Archives in Canberra has updated its cafe with a new display on banned books. You can read about the secret history of Australian censorship as you sip your coffee. You can also examine a censor’s report or flip through a copy of a book or magazine once prohibited in Australia. This Cafe is going on my Must Do List For when I next visit the ACT.

Raising Gypsies

Did I tell you I enjoyed Chicago at the theatre last weekend?

It was beaut to see Tom Burlinson again as Billy Flynn. Burlinson had success as a young man when he played young Jim Craig in the 1982 Australian movie The Man From Snowy River and Tommy Woodcock in Phar Lap in 1983. He then seemed to fade away singing the songs of Frank Sinatra in nightclubs over the years.

Also lovely to spend time in Sydney with the daughters before they both headed off again. You see, I’ve raised gypsies……..

My youngest flew out to India for work purposes for six months yesterday. (My apologies for my behaviour : I may have been just a tad fragile.)

My eldest is off shortly with her military boyo to be stationed in a remote region of Australia for two years. So remote that it will be an easier option to fly to India for a visit. And it’s a Dry Community. Good luck with that, Pocohontas……….

Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. – Ray Bradbury from Fahrenheit 451

No, there were no tears and I have been positively positive. Disgustingly positive really. And envious of course. I was already tinkering with a holiday to Arnhem Land in autumn so that’s now a done deal. My only concern is for the Labrador, Bentley, who is unused to crocodiles and dingoes, and is stone deaf. I’m fearful that if he meets a snake he will want to make it a playmate. Same with a dingo: he’s such a good natured pup with an inability to read social queues.

As for the Indian adventurer, just as well she’s vegetarian and did a spell in Beijing last year.

We’ve agreed to meetup in Darwin next August, to coincide with the Northern Territory’s Federation Day ( read : Cracker Night) and Darwin Cup. The gambler’s gene did not come from my side of the family though the need for a new outfit for the occasion certainly did. I’m currently researching a side trip to the Tiwi Islands.

Since retirement I have been regularly asked when I will be selling up to be closer to the girls. Makes me laugh each and every time. 

Safe travels, Cat Balou. Looking forward to belly dancing classes upon your return.

Sydney Writers Walk

Home after spending a few days in the old hometown of Sydney catching up with the daughters. Our girlie weekends tend to consist of champagne breakfasts, too much good chocolate, dumplings, laughs, and a trip to the theatre.

And lots of walking. 27,000 plus steps on Saturday alone. ( Thank God for old pubs with harbour views and cold ciders).

The Sydney Writers Walk is a series of 60 circular metal plaques embedded in the footpath between Overseas Passenger Terminal on West Circular Quay and the Sydney Opera House forecourt on East Circular Quay.

The plaques were installed to honour and celebrate the lives and works of well-known Australian writers, as well as notable overseas authors, such as D.H. Lawrence, Joseph Conrad and Mark Twain, who lived in or visited Australia. Quotes from a significant work and some biographical information about the writer are stamped onto each plaque,along with an excerpt of the author’s writing.

It’s a perfect walk along the harbour with an ice cream in your hand. Boysenberry.

I was born, schooled, worked, married and had my two babies in Sydney and have been returning on a yearly basis forever. Stupidly, I introduced the daughters to theatre at an early age. And champagne breakfasts.

The old homestead was demolished nearly thirty years ago and replaced by a McMansion so I’ve never had the heart to revisit.

Interestingly, the apartment where we stayed in the city was two doors down from my office from 1980 where a client picked up a chair and threw it at me. But that’s another story…….

She’s a whole different city since those days.

Dreamtime Journey Coach At Drayton, S E Qld.

I’m a little concerned that my last post about the Miles Franklin Award winning book, Too Much Lip, may have provided too many negative connotations about our First Australians.

So I thought I’de even the score by sharing a positive Indigenous experience from my recent road trip.

DownsSteam Tourist Railway & Museum is located at Drayton, an outer southwestern suburb of Toowoomba, South East Queensland, which makes it a perfect day trip to escape from the Big Smoke.

Toowoomba is on the crest of the Great Dividing Range, around 700 metres (2,300 ft) above sea level. This makes it substantially cooler, or less humid, than Brisbane with defined seasonal changes. Thus, the annual Carnival of Flowers to which those on the coastal fringe have been flocking each September to view the beautiful gardens for the past 70 years.

Operated by the Darling Downs Historical Railway Society and staffed wholly by volunteers, DownsStream Tourist Railway and Museum is dedicated to the establishment and preservation of a tourist railway for the Darling Downs region.

And the big bonus? You don’t have to be a train buff to enjoy this environment – it’s got this really pleasant vibe…..

The gardens are beautiful, you can enjoy a coffee on the station, and view the restoration of Toowooomba’s very own steam locomotive the “Pride of Toowoomba” which was built locally in 1915. After a little more than a century and well over a million miles steaming her way around Queensland, this once proud steam engine is now the only one of her class not to be scrapped. She is being restored to fully operational condition by volunteer craftsmen for mainline tours across the Darling Downs. (Keep an eye open for updates : there’s plans for train travel to the Granite Belt for wine tasting).

You can even enjoy a light lunch in one of the rail carriages!

The highlight of my visit was a tour of the Dreamtime Journey Coach which is a fascinating insight into Indigenous culture.

To acknowledge the contribution made by the indigenous workers to the construction of the railway up the range, an indigenous inmate from the Westbrook Correctional Centre volunteered to paint one of our carriages as part of his prison rehabilitation program.

Inmate “Domi” commenced painting the carriage in 2012, taking 19 weeks to complete his awe-inspiring, unique Indigenous Art Gallery on wheels (static exhibit).

The coach depicts the Aboriginal theme based on ‘Baiami’ who created the earth and all the wonderful landscape, mountains, lakes, rivers, billabongs, oceans and islands.

Experiencing our ‘Dreamtime Journey Coach’ is to take a spiritual journey from dawn to dusk. Domi’s paintings represent the traverse of a day, starting from the entrance with the orange and yellow colours of the dawn, then in the middle of the carriage the bright colours of the day and the other end of the carriage with the pink and purple colours of the dusk.

                – from website http://www.downstream.com

The twenty minute tour of this carriage, which included an explanation of characters, symbolism and meaning, tells a truly interesting and colourful story. Add to MUST DO LIST.

Located at 16 Cambooya Street, Drayton

Note : No, I do not collect tea towels. Not even good at using them.