Self Indulgence : The Australian War Memorial

The Australian War Memorial is Australia’s national memorial to the members of its armed forces and supporting organisations who have died or participated in wars involving the Commonwealth of Australia, and some conflicts involving personnel from the Australian colonies prior to Federation. The memorial includes an extensive national military museum. The Australian War Memorial was opened in 1941, and is widely regarded as one of the most significant memorials of its type in the world.
-From Wikipedia.

Situated in Canberra, our Capital, the AWM draws thousands of international and domestic tourists each year. Aussie’s have an uneasy relationship with Canberra, being the location of Parliament and with a very high percentage of Public Servants. Personally I love Canberra. Our bush Capital is a Foodies Delight, with an abundance of wineries, magnificent gardens and reserves, and there are so many interesting places to visit. With Remembrance Day only days away here are a few of my favourite photos from my last visit to the AWM.


From the AWM looking towards Parliament House. The avenue is full of touching memorials and makes for an interesting walk.


The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.



The Pool of Remembrance. Every evening at 5 pm there is a Closing Ceremony on these steps, including bagpipes, which includes a memorial to a nominated exservice person.


Afghanistan Memorial. Each of these marble sculptures represents a young life lost. You have to walk past them to exit the building.Talk about emotional!


Time for a coffee at Poppy’s Cafe.

There is also a well stocked military bookshop which gleans money from me each and every visit.

The grounds are full of bronze sculptures and the odd tank, as well as local wildlife. It is suggested that a minimum of two days is required to see it all. Exhibits change on a regular basis. I’ve never had time to work my way through the naval displays and try to avoid the RAAF area because it is just too easy to get distracted.

The AWM is a Must Do for any visitor to the ‘Berra, and Entry is at No Cost. Pick me up along the way……….

My Week With Errol Flynn

Tasmania has the population with the oldest median age across Australia, as well as the highest percentage of inhabitants over the age of 65 years. It would also seem that they have more than their fair share of octagenarians and nonagenarians which I’m putting down to fresh air, home grown vegetables, Scallops, and delightful, crisp chardonnays.

Tasmania, an Island off our Island, takes a little over three hours to traverse from north to south, and means that many families are inter-related. And I’m not quoting that old “two headed “chestnut – farming communities of the 1800’s and 1900’s were the product of both fertile lands and people. You need to know this to understand that familial ties remain strong across Tasmania to this day and grudges from one hundred years ago remain intact. This in part accounts for a large proportion of its population having a distinct distaste for actor, Errol Flynn. Many of the stuffy, old matrons had a friend who knew a friend who had a brother who went to school with Flynn in Hobart before World War 1. No one liked him much from all accounts.

Hobart, the place of Flynn’s birth in 1909, appears a tad conflicted.

I stumbled across a plaque in front of the Grand Chancellor Hotel, one of the swankier establishments on Davey Street on the Hobart waterfront, recognising Flynn’s contribution to cinema – right up there with the opening of the Cadbury Chocolate Factory.


Flynn’s Tassie childhood is acknowledged by the Tasmanian Tourist Bureau with a walking tour dedicated to houses, schools, and churches attended by a young Flynn. One of the buildings that forms part of the University bears the name of Flynn Senior, a renowned marine biologist in the day. The brochure isn’t always in print and I had to rely on a document from ten years ago. It does provide an interesting look into life in this very southern capital over a century ago with much of the housing unchanged. What I would give for a peek into some bathrooms and kitchens, as I have on good authority that chip heaters are still in use in some homes.


A parkland in Sandy Bay has been renamed to honour Flynn, and includes a truly dreadful artwork which is supposed to be reminiscent of the actors days in Hollywood. Talk about devaluing property prices!

The State Theatre, at 375 Elizabeth Street, North Hobart, opened as a venue for cultural events in 1913 and has an iconic Star on the footpath commemorating Errol, planted firmly by his daughter, Rory, on the occasion of his 100th birthday in 2009.


My totally unexpected Flynn find was a result of ambling through the colonial grazing communities in the Tasmanian midlands. No publicity whatsoever. The Kentish Arms Hotel, in High Street, Oatlands, was first licensed in 1834 and is in dire need of a coat of paint, or two or three. As in many rural communities the pub has had to diversify to survive and so what was previously the lounge has become the TKO Bakery and Cafe with a repaint job. The meeting room is full of lobby cards for boxing movies – which is presumably the TKO reference, the public bar and bathroom facilities are covered in Monroe posters, and the Cafe is full of Errol Flynn posters. Hundreds of them. And did I mention the boom camera from Robin Hood?

Morning tea was a pleasant enough experience with fresh scones and the warmth of a wood heater. Unfortunately, my attempts to quizz staff about the collection fell on deaf ears. One out of ten for my Interrogation Skills. One out of ten for the Staffs graduation from Charm School.

There is an old Irish proverb about cats and kittens which I am unable to repeat here. Just note that I will pursue this further. A boom camera would not only enhance my tv room, there is the possibility of replacing the garden gnomes in the front yard.

Despite wading through numerous bookstores across the Island – it’s a dirty job but someone has to do it – not one Errol related book.

Tassie seems to have an odd love/hate relationship with this Tasmanian Devil.

More To History Than What Is In Books…..

Still driving around the island of Tasmania, waking up each day with absolutely no plans. Some travellers allow only a few days to discover the essence of Tassie. This is my 7th trip and I always stumble upon new places and things on each and every journey.

This holiday I seem to have focused on war memorials in country towns as well as the infamous Tasmanian Scallop Pie. These monuments to the memory of previous generations provide such a rich history of townships, in many cases documenting the deaths of multiple members within families in both World War 1 and 2. 



Avoca, in the Midlands (meaning that it is between Launceston in the north and Hobart in the south, and in the very guts of the island) is rich grazing land. With a population of only 123 at the 2006 census this is the township’s memorial, with a tree planted for each of the fallen. More trees than residents nowadays……tells a story, doesn’t it?


A little south is the town of Ross, another farming community with sandstone buildings dating back to convict times. On the crossroads of Church and Bridge Streets there is a field gun from the Boer War and the war memorial is a central part of the intersection, as was popular in many country towns. This crossroads area is humorously referred to as the “Four Corners of Ross” with each corner having a label:

▪Temptation: the Man O’ Ross Hotel

▪Recreation: Town Hall

▪Salvation: Roman Catholic Church

▪Damnation: Jail (now a private residence)


Jericho, slightly off the main highway, where mud walls built by convicts in the early 1800’s still stand, is the resting place of John Hutton Bisdee, the first Australian born recipient of the Victoria Cross.

Travelling south to the East Coast it was fascinating to locate a memorial to all sailors in the services at Triabunna, including the name of one of Tasmania’s better known sons, Teddy Sheean.

More on Scallop Pies next time……



Holidays……Let The Fun Begin.

I’ve always excelled at holidays. It’s what I do best. Long breaks, short beach trips, overseas ventures, holidays driving around country towns, some closer to home. When my children were young I was fortunate to work in a corporate world which enabled me to Salary Sacrifice, allowing the purchase of an additional four weeks leave each year, on top of the regulation four weeks.

Even if holidays meant staying at home for the duration I loved this time with the girls. We rode our bikes, went for picnics in local reserves, cooked cakes together, watched movies, and read books. Of course, when we did go away we had fantastic trips. Bad move on my part, teaching them how to experience the best of travel and love the theatre, as both can be expensive hobbies.

Daughter Number 1 wants to visit Malta, for which we can blame, fairly and squarely, Justin Sheedy’s war fiction trilogy. The youngest, the Bibliophile, has a political bent and wants to visit America at the time of the next election. ( those wretched West Wing DVDs!). I’ve told both I’m coming with them, as long as we can visit Jellystone Park.

(Question : How many dinkydi Aussies have the Barrack Obama Coffee Table Book on permanent display in their residence?)


I never needed any training for holidays. I’ve found it a natural, God-given talent to be so good at making the most of the time not working so damn pleasurable.

Even now, an Empty Nester, I am enjoying my break. Is it sad to enjoy mopping the tile floor whilst listening to Michael Bauble? Or when hanging the clothes on the line and feeling the sun on your shoulders gives you pleasure? Staying up late on a school night with a few wines is a pleasure that should never be taken for granted, and then having three books on the go at the same time is the icing on the cake.

I’m enjoying this time at home so very much that I have made the decision this morning to retire. Yes, I’ve already been down that route once and after three months at home applied for one job, as a testing ground to check if my skills were still current and saleable, and started work the very next day.

Why now? No idea other than intuition. It’s time. And I can hear my father’s voice in the background saying, “ Pet, you’re a long time dead”.

The LOML is a bit lost for words. Supportive, but full of suggestions like work from home, longer hours less days. Sorry, Sweetie, not going to happen. Hanging up my boots……..There are things to do and places to go.


The Financial Advisor won’t be impressed either. Tough. I will fly interstate for a few days, adding two or three extra days for a short holiday, for consultation purposes of course.

Thank you for being a sounding board today.

Woot Woo. Bring it on!