Wednesday, 15 October 2014

No 8 Rewired

There's  a new book on the market here.  I presume it's in the book shops, I haven't  been to town since I received my complimentary copy. 

And why did I receive a free copy you ask?  Oh, come on, ask!

Because there on the very last page is the feature photo of the book, taken by me!!!!

Da da.

Monday, 13 October 2014

A mixed bag

Except for my daughter-in-law helping me to start a garden makeover on Saturday , there's been nothing about the last five days that I wish to remember.   I probably will remember the ambulance trip.  Travelling backwards whilst laying down around the corners on this road is quite an experience, especially when you're feeling a bit weird to start with.  But the experts at the hospital advised after many tests and much poking and prodding that my pain was a mystery and might never happen again so go away and forget about it.  Of course, they phrased it a bit better than that but I like to keep things simple.

If I have to remember anything I'd rather remember the day I was on holidays and my brother and his wife took me for a drive to Karoomba, a lovely vineyard near Boonah, not far from Brisbane.

My great-grandfather, Daniel was born in an immigrants camp at Purga in 1867.  I wonder what Purga looked like in those days?  There's nothing there now, nothing that I could see to remind us of those brave early settlers.  Can't find anything on the net either, except info about a vineyard.  I wasn't even exactly sure where Purga was until we whizzed past a sign and I snapped a shot out the window.

The countryside along the way changed from bone dry grazing land


to lush irrigated farms

We lingered a while in Boonah and admired the quirky new town clock, “Blumbergville”, the towns original name. The artist had a grin at the sound of the name and decided to have some fun with it.   It was commissioned to celebrate the community's spirit of resilience following the disastrous floods of 2011 and 2013.  Its creator used bit and pieces of old equipment found around the district, cobbling together pieces of the past to create something that will stand the test of time well into the future. For example, the bit that resembles a wind vane is actually a blade from an old double-dump chaff cutter, that would chop oats into looser pieces. 


A few paces away in the little square is a slightly larger than life sized statue of "With an eye on the sky" which "celebrates our association with the land we work and the heavens we rely on for life giving sun and for rain. The strength and endurance of bronze and stone parallels the quiet faith and tenacious spirit of the man on the land."

We arrived at the vineyard in time for lunch.  I had wanted to visit for the views, so the restaurant came as a very pleasant surprise.  Excellent food, courteous service, lovely views, a real surprise as it is located well off the main road.  It was as dry here as everywhere else in Queensland that I visited.  I must go back one day when the countrside is lush and green and the lavendar is at its best. 

I wish I knew the name of those mountains.  Since Brisbane started marketing this area as the "Scenic Rim" even the mountains are called the Scenic Rim Mountains.  Never heard such rot!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Everyone should have an Aunty Maisie

I was lucky enough to have two Aunty Maisie's but sadly only one remains.  No, that's not right. Well, it is sad that Dad's sister Maisie is no longer here, she was the last of Dad's siblings, the last of the Wards from 'up the creek'.  I posted a long (very long) tribute to her and the family here in December, 2010.   I think it is more a cause for celebration that I, at my age, have not only a mother still alive but also her sister.  Before I returned home I had another trip to Laidley with my sister Tricia to visit our brother-in-law Bill and our Aunty Maisie.  Here she is.  Isn't she lovely? 

And she's such good company, still has that lively sense of humour, the same mannerisms as our grandmother.  We decided to all have lunch in town but in the end took a short drive 'up the creek' to the Mulgowie Pub.  If it were located anywhere else it could be a theme pub. It certainly has a character all of its own.

When we were children, the adult relative who had met us at the train station in Laidley to take us up the creek to the farm would invariably pull the car off to the right in front of the Mulgowie Pub.  In those days the driver was always a male and women and children were not permitted in the public bar. Was there a lounge bar?  I have no idea. The grandfather/uncle would disappear into the dark depths of the pub, then emerge soon after with fizzy drinks for us all, before returning to the bar.  I always wanted a sars, short for sarsaparila.   I never hear of it these days, I wonder if it is still available.  When I asked Mr Google I had quite a giggle. "Sarsaparila was made from roots of smilax vine, to which alcohol and flavoring was added.  It was the most widely distributed cure for syphilis in the 19th century.  Advertised in 1820s as helping with the perspiratory functions of the skin and imparting tone and vigor to debilitated constitutions."  I don't think the grandfather/uncle would have been tempted by something like that, our constitutions did not need any added tone and vigor.   I guess whatever the sars was made from, it wasn't that.  

Anyway, somehow we knew how long was an acceptable time to be left to our own devices.  (I should stress this is a country pub. There might be 4 or 5 vehicles parked outside and very little traffic going past, the occasional car, maybe a produce truck or a tractor.)  When we thought the time was up one of us would get out of the car and walk back and forth outside the pub door.  Most times that worked, sometimes it didn't.  Depended on how good the company at the bar was I guess.  When it failed another child would join the first and pace outside the door. My brothers tell stories of stopping in there when they were older and having long yarns with great-uncles and other distant relatives.  The rules about women in public bars didn't change in time for me to enjoy the same thing.

The pub is these days known as the Mulga.  That's an appropriate name for the hosts of the twice yearly Outback Bull Ride.  It's not everywhere you sit and eat your lunch with an unimpeded view of a rodeo ring.

I've returned to Mr Google to see if there is more info about the place but couldn't find much, most of it is about the railway line that once ran from Laidley to Mulgowie, a distance of 11kms (just over 6 miles).  I can remember the railway line but only once having seen a goods train on it, although it carried passengers at one time, too.  It operated from 1911 till 1955.  Apparantly it was never profitable, servicing an agricultural valley with a low population.

Then I remember the Mulgowie Yowie my grandmother used to talk about and sure enough, there's plenty about that.  The most recent article is date June, 2013 so it must still be a fascinating subject for some.  My Gran used to say it was strange that it only appeared to those who were on their way home from the pub.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

up the creek

To finish this road trip I drove up through Laidley along the road that follows the creek to its source in the mountains behind Townson.  I posted photos of the homes of both sets of grandparents and my great-grandparents in this little valley a few weeks ago as soon as I returned home.  I have just a few more I'd like to share.

More of those irrigation pipes but this time against the familiar backdrop of the hillsides of the valley that leads to where my childhood memories lay. 

More modern irrigation methods:

The dry grassy paddocks contrasting with the fields that have been irrigated.

I love this place in all seasons, even when it is desperately dry.  The fertile flats, the backdrop of the mountains, the Little Liverpool Range (east) and the Mistake Mountains (west). And Mt Castle standing there like a fortress, a sure sign that I am nearing my destination. 
Mount Mistake is a 1,698 ft / 518 m mountain peak near Gatton, Queensland - See more at:
Mount Mistake is a 1,698 ft / 518 m mountain peak near Gatton, Queensland - See more at:
Mount Mistake is a 1,698 ft / 518 m mountain peak near Gatton, Queensland - See more at:
Mount Mistake is a 1,698 ft / 518 m mountain peak near Gatton, Queensland, A - See more at:
Mount Mistake is a 1,698 ft / 518 m mountain peak near Gatton, Queensland, A - See more at:

Monday, 6 October 2014

From a car window

I thought the time I spent with the old guy in Nanango would be the highlight of that day but no.  Not much further south along the D'Aguilar Highway I slowed to have a good look at the countryside, beautiful in its stark dryness.  The sky that day was a soft blue and it was complimented perfectly by the pale, pale, dry, dry grass.  I do so wish I were more eloquent.  I'd love everyone to appreciate the beauty of a bone dry land.   Had I not been driving slowly I may have missed this scene.  As it was I just caught a glimpse through the trees and turned around and went back.  This is my favourite shot from my holiday.   To me it says, "This is Queensland."

I took lots of photos of old houses.  This one ranks in my top ten.  I would love to know the history of these houses.  Who lived here.  Who lives here now.  Yes, I'm pretty sure someone is still living in both of them. 

I stopped and took a few more photos out of the car window of scenes that seemed to me to be typically Australian. 

My destination was Laidley, my birthplace and what I call my spiritual home.  Just outside Gatton I came upon Lake Claredon or is it the Claredon Dam?  I'm not sure, I've seen it referred to as both.  Had it been there when I was growing up I would have heard of it but it came as a surprise to me.  It was completed in 1992,  built above the Lockyer Valley to supply water for irrigation.  By mid-2006 the dam was empty due to drought conditions. In January 2011, it was over 80%.  I'd say it was pretty low when I was there but heavy rain was predicted for the following weekend so hopefully it has a bit more water in it now.

Soon the sights became familiar, the rich soil of the Lockyer Valley, the irrigation pipes which don't appear to have changed at all since I was a child and helped my Grandfather move them, sloshing barefooted through the recently saturated mud to drier ground. I sat beside the road and listened to the whooshing sound of the water and relived a few childhood adventures.  Sight and sound.  Each one a powerful memory trigger.  Together there's no arguing.  I never stop myself from revisiting my childhood and on this day the journey was wonderful. 

But not everything is as it always was.  This crop wasn't around back in the day.  I'm sure of it.  I think it is rapeseed, otherwise known as canola. 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Peanut stop in Nanango

To be honest it wasn't a peanut stop, it was something a lot more fundamental than took me into the rest rooms in a park on the outskirts of Nanango.  But close by was a caravan selling peanuts.  And close by the van was an old guy munching on peanuts.  Yes, I call him an old guy so he was pretty ancient.  It was an interesting park and I said so to him and that was all he needed to launch into the history of the region.  Somehow I ended up strolling around the park's features with him, both of us munching on peanuts.  

The park had been established in 1998 to mark the town's sesquicentennial year.  It featured stockyards, out buildings, troughs, etc hewn from timber using the methods of the pioneers.  

He told me Nanango means large watering hole or 'place where the waters gather together'.  Because of the water supply it was an ideal place for the original aboriginal people to gather for the bunya festival.  Yep, even back then they liked a good festival.  People came from all over Queensland and Northern New South Wales to feast on bunya nuts.  I've checked up on his story and he had it right.  He wasn't even exaggerating when he said 'thousands' came to the feasts even though the fruiting of the bunya pine was a bit erratic.  Somehow they spread the word and arrived at the right time. That really fires my imagination.

These days people come to fossick for gold, he said.  I took that with a grain of salt but have since found a reference to gold mining here from 1850 to 1900.  

And I heard plenty about the benefits of peanuts!  As I left I looked over my shoulder and he was striding off back towards town, a walking advertisement for consuming peanuts on a regular basis.  

The greenest grass for miles around at the Nanango Golf Course.

Saturday, 4 October 2014


The three 43 metre high silos are landmarks you can't miss in Kingaroy.  I was thinking of them as full of peanuts but at this time of year they were probably empty, just a rather grand reminder of the upcoming peanut crop.

Kingaroy is known as the "Peanut Capital of Australia" because Australia's largest peanut processing plant is located here.

The name Kingaroy is derived from the aboriginal word for "Red Ant" (Kingaroori) because of a unique species of ants found in the area which have adapted to the natural colour of Kingaroy's distinctive rich red soil.

Droughts and uncertainty surrounding the region's annual peanut crop has led some farmers to diversify from peanuts and grow grapes.  The rich volcanic soil, hot dry summers and cold winters has proved to also be ideal conditions for grapes.  I didn't know that or would have tried a drop of the local brew.   Kingaroy often records some of the coldest temperatures in Queensland during winter.  And spring, too, from my experience.  The night I stayed there the temp dropped to 4C.

The region is quite picturesque with extensive farmlands interspersed with low rolling hills.  I'd love to see it after rain. 

In most of the small towns I passed through quite often the oldest and best preserved buildings were the pubs.  Kingaroy was no exception.  This one was my favourite. 

Kingaroy has a prosperous, almost cosmopolitan feel while still appearing to be a relaxed, friendly and informal country town.  The delightful lass who served my breakfast chatted away like I was an old friend.  Asked me was I a Grey Nomad (a retired person who travels independently and for an extended period, particularly in a caravan or motor home).  Oh, how I wish!!  

A little later I was standing near the silos, it was still before 9 am on a weekday morning.  Rush hour.

The evening before when I'd ventured out to find somewhere to eat it wasn't the food but the sunset that caught my attention.  Can't remember what I ate, can still remember that sunset.


The township has a population of around 8,000 people. 

Friday, 3 October 2014

Wooroolin Wetlands

So there I was happily driving along the Bunya Highway, around 4 pm, thinking I must be getting close to Kingaroy, thinking that's where I'd stay the night, when I came upon a tiny township (population in 2006 census of 164). I said yesterday that I'd get back to my trip through Central Queensland but I had in fact moved south into the South Burnett region.  I slowed to the required speed limit, noticed a few houses on the right, a camping ground on the left, blinked once and was through the town.  But then, as I accelerated away, on my left, glimpses of  water, a lot of water caught my eye.  I stopped to turn around to go back to park in the township and go for a walk, then noticed a road just ahead on my left which ran alongside the water.  So I ventured up the side road for a look. 

I'd discovered the Wooroolin Wetlands. A friend jokingly pointed out when I was telling him with great enthusiasm about the huge wetlands ("they were massive, beautiful, went for miles, as far as the eye could see") that I hadn't really discovered the place but I honestly felt that I did.  They were so unexpected.  Wetlands.  209 ha (516 acres) of wetlands.  I had no idea there were wetlands out here anywhere.
The story goes that the dead trees originally grew in a dry lagoon. At the turn of the 19th century the lagoon suddenly dried up after an earthquake. In the mid ‘70s, I think it must have been the big floods of '73/'74 which occurred at the time I left to come to NZ, the wetlands filled again and the inundated trees drowned. They dried up again over time, at one stage the locals used to ride bikes through the area. Then came the floods of 2010 and 2011.  They tell the story of Australia - drought and flood.
For now they create a beautiful natural sculpture and a vital habitat for birds - around 80 species.  Not one of them would stay where they were when I got out of the car.  The place was teeming with birdlife.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Old age

I hope if ever I have to spend nearly 3 weeks in hospital I will return home in better shape than I was beforehand.  Not so my computer.  After all that attention at the techo hospital it is still running like an old (very old) dog.  The thought has crossed my mind that it is pretty old and I guess there is no cure for old age even in, more like especially in, this wonderful new world of technology. 

Yesterday was too nice a day to be worried about such things.  This spring there seem to be more than the usual number of kowhai flowering.  This one is right beside the road and I think has more flowers than it had last year.

Cattle grazing the 'long acre':

I've been doing a bit of sewing, started on my Christmas pressies. Tomorrow, if I have a bit more patience with this old dog computer, I may return to my trip in Central Queensland.