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.


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/

Sculpture In The Vines @ Sirromet

Despite the easing of restrictions the four walls started to cave in. Can’t say that the oppressive humidity provided much inspiration either. So damn uncomfortable in so many ways leading to an urgent escape …..to the local winery.

Sirromet Winery at Mount Cotton is only a ten minute drive south and is considered very swank. The grapes aren’t grown on site but rather within the Granite Belt, south towards the NSW border.

In the mid 1860’s Mount Cotton was mostly chicken and vegetable farms, and although a few of each still exist it is now mostly suburban with several tracks of land dedicated to koala and wildlife conservation.

Sirromet opened in 2000 and like many wineries these days brought in big name chefs and cultivated fine dining. It is also a popular function and wedding venue, and has a good reputation in viticulture study programs.

Like most businesses they have had to diversify and Sirromet recently installed glamping accomodation – as in sexy tents – and is the venue for big music events. Midnight Oil next month. Bizarre, Peter Garrett has to be ten years older than I!

So here’s the irony : did not have one glass of grape juice this visit. Too hot, too slimy, just too much.

We enjoyed following the Sculpture Trail which is a walk that takes you through the grape vines, the lavender garden, and the picnic areas – just make sure to take water with you!

There are over twenty pieces of art amongst the rolling hills of Sirromet and if you take the Little People there is an activity to keep them interested too.

What to do with your used coffee pods

It must have been hot : not one wallaby spotted and we knocked off a bottle of water. Sad days, I tell you……

Sad.

I cannot tell you how good it was to get out and explore.

NOTE

If you miss Sculpture In The Vines I can most certainly recommend combining a tour of the winery with a wine tasting, followed by a charcuterie board at the Cellar Door.

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.

Harrisville and Conniptions

It has been my experience that those little country towns that are nothing more than a small dot on the map are often the most interesting.

Harrisville is a quaint country town only an hours drive west of Brisbane making it on the outskirts of Ipswich. Never heard of it, had you? It was named after the Harris brothers, John (1819–1895) and George (1831–1891), who established a store and cotton ginnery in the area at the time when the American Civil War had created a worldwide shortage of cotton.

There are numerous Heritage sites within Harrisville including:

13 Church Street: Courthouse and Police Lock-up
5 Hall Street: School of Arts
16 Hall Street: Masonic Hall
34 Queen Street: Commercial Hotel
35 Queen Street: Former Royal Bank
43–47 Queen Street: Memorial Park
54–58 Queen Street: Sacred Heart Catholic Church
1–5 Wholey Drive: Royal Hotel

Harrisville is flat which makes it ideal for exploration by walking. Allow a couple of hours to investigate as there are places for refreshments and retail outlets, including an Art Gallery and Lead Light Workshops, that will pique your interest.

So what was it in rural Harrisville that saw me have conniptions at high noon in the main street?

C’mon. I have refrained from mentioning the love of my life, Errol Flynn, for months. Is it any wonder that a girl suffered a major nervy turn, requiring far more than a G&T, when I found this?

Those small dots on maps – love them!

The Granite Belt

An hours drive south of Allora lies Stanthorpe, smack bang in the centre of the Granite Belt. Massive rocks are everywhere and they are even more popular than swans made out of old car tyres as garden features. 

Originally a tin mining town, at the turn of the 20th century it morphed into a fruit growing area with apple orchards and berries which still dominate the market. Winemakers and olive producers came from Italy to the district in the 1920s and helped establish what we now know as the food and wine trail. There are 50 plus vineyards in the Granite Belt and you’ll be shocked/amazed/disappointed that I didn’t visit one! ( Confession: our accomodation was at a microbrewery but that doesn’t count, right?)

Stanthorpe is over 800 metres above sea level so get this : in sub tropical Queensland winters in Stanthorpe mean log fires and the occasional snow flurry. They even celebrate a Brass Monkey Festival.

One of the outlying rural areas of Stanthorpe is Amiens, named after the battlefield in France in which Australians were involved during World War 1. It was a Soldier Settlement of approx. 17,000 acres and more than seven hundred returned soldiers were allocated blocks in what became known as settlements of Amiens, Messines, Bapaume, Passchendaele, Bullecourt, Pozieres and Fleurbaix.

Under the Discharged soldiers’ settlement Act, 1917  every discharged member of the armed forces was entitled to apply for land and financial assistance.  The important goals within this initiative were to open up new land for settlement as well as place willing and suitable settlers on this land.  At the same time, it aimed to provide employment as well as the necessary support for the many discharged servicemen who had served their country.”

Today, there are less than 300 people living in this area. It was windswept and darn cold – I cannot imagine the living conditions 100 years ago.

And for those who have been paying attention Stanthorpe really does have more than its fair share of fine pubs.


Allora, Qld, and Mary Poppins

I’ve been on a short road trip. Put your seatbelt on and remember, no smoking or eating in the car unless its chocolate – and be prepared to share.

The Blue Cow Hotel

Allora is a country town on the Darling Downs in South East Queensland, approximately 2.5 hours drive from Brisbane, and located between Toowoomba and Warwick. * It has a wide main street with a pub on each corner making it reminiscent of so many farming communities across Australia, a Cafe that is the busiest spot in town at lunchtime, two hairdressing salons, and a Little Community Library ( that I was just itching to tidy).

Being so flat makes it ideal to walk around Allora to inhale its history. Settled in 1840 there are many examples of fine colonial architecture highlighted by the plaques attached to 30 odd buildings of interest.

In good seasons summer in Allora becomes a mass of yellow and is well regarded for its crops of beautiful sunflowers. Unusual for a community of just on 1,000 there are two museums : the historical and a regional sports museum. ( Local sports stars include Laura Geitz – netball, Matthew Denny – discus, Greg Holmes – rugby union, and Wayne Bennett – league.)

Perhaps the best known resident of Allora was Helen Lyndon Goff who later changed her name to Pamela Lyndon Travers, the author of Mary Poppins

Although born in Maryborough, Qld, which I’ve discussed in a previous post, the Goffs moved to Allora when Helen was 8 years old. The bank building in which they lived, and where her father died two years later, is available for tours.

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  There is a nod to the author in the P L Travers Park in the main street.

Well worth a visit.

*One of the measures of a town has always been the number of pubs it supports though Covid has had a huge impact in this area.

Dad And Dave Country – Nobby, Qld.

Two hours drive west of Brisbane lies the township of Nobby on the Darling Downs, population few and far between. Why visit Nobby? This is where author Steele Rudd was said to have written many of his stories ensconced at the local pub.

Rudd’s Pub is an interesting spot with its farming memorabilia filling the walls and ceiling space as well as references to Rudd’s iconic characters, Dad and Dave.

Steele Rudd was the pseudonym of Arthur Hoey Davis (14 November 1868 – 11 October 1935) an Australian author, best known for his short story collection On Our Selection.

The Barmaid battled to find a clean glass. Wonder why?

The stories contained in this book provide a humorous account of life on a plot of land ‘selected’ in the late 1800s. Apart from the humour of life in the bush and of yokels visiting the city, these stories also included Dave’s awkward romance with local lass, Mabel.

The 1920 movie On  Our Selection and 1932–1952 radio series Dad and Dave helped turn the characters into Australian cultural icons before the days of television. A Selection referred to “free selection before survey” of crown land under legislation introduced in the 1860’s to encourage settlement and agriculture.

The movie was remade in 1995 starring Leo McKern, Joan Sutherland, and Geoffrey Rush with the theme song by John Williamson. No-one ever said it was a good movie and harking back to more simple times it would not sit well with todays audience though it would have resonated with the previous generation.

JW took several decades to reach his prime.

The refreshing bevy at Rudd’s Pub was pleasant, as was the walk around Sister Kenny Memorial Park and Museum (in a nod to her work with poliomyelitis).

Our real find was Steele Rudd Park which sits on a corner of the original Selection on Steele Rudd Road, East Greenmount.

The park features replica historical buildings and information about Rudd’s childhood and later life. It includes a picnic table and gas barbeque as well as bathroom facilities – though be careful where you sit : bush facilities have a tendency to attract frogs 🙂

This is pretty country surrounded by gently undulating plains with its pastures full of fat cattle. Still, it is not difficult to imagine the hardships endured by our pioneers attempting to raise large families on these plots fighting constant battles against dust, drought, snakes and heat.

Lets finish with a typical Dad and Dave joke :

Dave decided to take Mabel to the Snake Gully Café for lunch. Dave looked at the menu and said, “They’ve got sheep tongues on the menu, Mabel. I think I’ll have that. What about you?” 
Mabel said, “No Dave, I couldn’t eat anything that came out of an animal’s mouth.” 
“What would you like then, Mabel?” said Dave. 
Mabel said, “I think I’ll have an egg.”_

* Well worth a visit.

**Worth watching the 1995 version if only for the line up of Australian actors : Ray Barrett, Noah Taylor, Barry Otto, and my 80’s crush, Rory O’Donaghue from The Aunty Jack Show. Do you remember Aunty Jack ?Even named a cat after him.🥰