Friday, 14 September 2018

Brisbane surrounds

One of the best things about my recent road trip in Queensland was the amount of time I allowed myself to spend with my siblings.  Instead of snatching a day here and a day there I had more time to enjoy with them.  And they shared some of their favourite local places with me.   Clare took me to the Mt Tamborine, inland from the Gold Coast to the south of Brisbane, a place I haven't visited in over 20 years.  One of my favourite bloggers, Lee, lives in the area.  

It took us so long to get there, we could have been travelling to a much more distant place.  I had no idea where we were half the time and Clare had similar moments.  Really, Brisbane City Council (or whoever is responsible for road signs), you must do better.  We were directed in circles a couple of times.  However, we can't blame all our driving in circles on the signs.  Once we reached the village we managed to do plenty of it all by ourselves while looking for the lookouts.  We both knew they were somewhere, the question was where?  So we got to see many side streets.  And the only one we found was looking away from the Gold Coast, not down over it as we were hoping.  And someone had lit a number of small fires (we couldn't figure out why).

We enjoyed a stroll up and down the village street, popping into the many interesting shops and had a lovely lunch at a very nice cafe.  There are speciality shops like the German Cuckoo Clock nest, Chocolate Kingdom, Fudge Heaven, dress boutiques and craft shops.  Many of the little shops were owner operated and more delightful people you could never hope to meet.  They were friendly and welcoming and only too happy to share their knowledge about their treasures but without any pressure to buy.  The village of the happy shop-keepers!

I indulged in a pretty pair of ear-rings at what I thought was a great price from The Glass Studio.  I suspect they will turn out to be one of those impulse purchases that I won't get a lot of use out of as they are brighter and shinier than my usual style.  Never mind, my spirit will lift every time I look at them!

It's not often I forget to take photos.  I blame Clare, she's such good company and fun to be with, I totally forgot.

My brother Denis and his partner re-introduced me to Redcliffe, in the north of the city.  As youngsters, we thought of it as far away, but in reality, it's only about 12 km from where we grew up at Nudgee, on the other side of Moreton Bay.

The weather was threatening to change but held off while we were there.  That's the Glasshouse Mountains you can see in the distance.

You know how every place has its own claim to fame?  I remember when I visited Canada in 2002 and was amused to learn that Ladysmith, a small town on Vancouver Island had as its claim to fame that it was Pamela Anderson's birthplace.  Once upon a time Redcliffe proudly claimed to be the site of the first European settlement in Queensland, a noble claim.  Now, everyone seems to have forgotten about that and have been carried away with its connection to the BeeGees.  The powers that be have developed a walkway named the Bee Bees Way, a multi-media celebration of the pop group.  I wonder if Cribb Island, had it not been flattened to make way for an extension to the Brisbane Airport would have made a lot of its connection as well.  That's where the Gibb family moved to after Redcliffe.  

When my girlfriend and I went for a bike ride when we were youngsters we nearly always went to the beach, either Nudgee Beach or Cribb Island, Cribby as we all knew it.  You could walk from one to the other at low tide.  I got off the track, I know.  Whenever I think of Cribby I tend to dwell on the fact that all those who called it home have no place to go back to.  Sad. 

Thanks, Den and Di for a lovely day out.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Home to Brisbane

I've been thinking about home.  Not so much the place as the concept.  I know people who never return to the place they spent their childhood, don't think of that place as 'home'.  I think I've been fortunate to have two places that I think of as home.  Well, three really, when I add in my current home.  I have the valley up the creek from Laidley where I was born, the home of my ancestors, where my siblings and I spent all our school holidays after the family moved to Brisbane.  I think of this as the place of my 'belonging'.  

Because of its distinctive landmarks, it doesn't appear to have changed over the years.

My other home is Nudgee, just 13 km north of Brisbane CBD but when I grew up, it was an outer suburb.  My parents lived there for many, many years and now lay at rest in the local cemetery.  I called in to have a little chat with Mum and Dad when I arrived in Brisbane on my road trip in June.  These days a highway which bypasses Brisbane to provide access between the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast runs alongside Nudgee.  The word Nudgee is believed to be derived from the aboriginal word meaning 'home of wild ducks'.   There is a still a waterhole, but it has been manicured and tidied, nothing like the place of my childhood.

Step away from the old Nudgee and Brisbane is vastly different from the place I grew up.  My youngest sister, Janet asked when I was staying with her if there was somewhere I'd like to go for a drive, any old haunts I'd like to revisit.  My plans were already in place for a visit to Laidley, so I immediately replied I'd like to see the city again.  I'm not a city lover, can't even remember when was the last time I visited inner Brisbane.  Janet lives so close, the view of what she called the Tower of Power from her deck had whetted my appetite to see the changes.

The Tower of Power, 1 William Street, completed in 2016, is filled entirely with Queensland Government public servants.  It is the tallest in the city.  I thought it looks better from the distance than it did up close.

I was much more delighted to see so many of the old buildings I remember as being old when I was young have been well preserved.

Treasury Building, where my brother Denis worked for years.

I do so wish I could remember the name of this lovely old building.  My sister, Esme, worked there when she first left school.   

 Dwarfed but not diminished

In some streets it's all skyscrapers.  Yet turn a corner and the traffic seems to disappear and you are in a suburban-like tree lined street.

The memories flooded in when I saw the McWhirters building, in my day a department store, now a shopping centre and apartment building. When I was a child, on the very rare occasion any of us was sick enough to be allowed to stay home from school, we'd make a remarkable recovery if it was on the day the McWhirters man called on Mum with his catalogues.  Anything new that came into our home was bought through one of those catalogues and delivered by the McWhirters man.  I guess there were a number of them over the years but they are all the one man in my memory.  A smiling man who made a fuss of me and gave me a little gift.  Although I can't remember what the gift was it was enough to entice me to McWhirters for my first purchase (and many more) after I started work.  I'm sure, had I encountered the same man on my "grownup" visit, I would not have made such an outrageous purchase.

After the CBD we ventured down to the riverside at New Farm/Teneriffe.  (I don't know where one ends and the other starts or perhaps they are the same.) 

There the old wool stores of my memory have been restored to their former glory (if ever a wool store could claim such), the whole area has been transformed into some of the city's most sought-after real estate.  I think of it as gentrification.  It's an upmarket place with the shiny and new sitting comfortably beside the contrasting old and solid.  It portrays itself as having "first-class dining, trendy bars and well-loved cafes".  Janet and I enjoyed a stroll along the riverside walkway.

Most of my photos that day were taken on my phone, either through the windscreen or out the car window.  Very rarely did traffic allow my sister to slow down to allow me time for a decent shot.  This one is even worse than most but it has to be included because for the summer of my fifteenth year I spent most Saturdays and quite a few school day mornings here swimming training.  The swimming pool my school used had salt water that was flushed in and out with the tides and this was where I swam after school.  Then I attended an interschool swimming sports at the Valley Pool (below) and discovered I was slower in the chlorine treated pool.  That was devastating and humiliating to me.  I've never been a morning person but I often got up in time to catch the first train of the day (shortly after 5 am) into town, walk the half mile to the pool, do my laps then walk back to the railway station and catch the train to school.  I was a self-taught swimmer and had never heard of a swimming coach let alone met one.  And I was never as good a swimmer as I wanted to be.

The Valley Pool served another more important part in my life.  One of those Saturdays I got talking to a fabulously handsome young man and we came to be friends.  He married one of my closest friends and they are happily married to this day.  Our children are friends.  I had caught up with them a couple of days earlier.  I got them to sit apart so I could get a photo of the scrub turkey helping itself to leftovers on the table behind us.  

Below is another city view, this time from the corner of the street where my brother, Denis lives.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018


When I hear the place name Bundaberg I first of all think my brother Bernie, followed closely by strawberries.  I can't remember when I first made the strawberry association.  Perhaps it was way back in the 60s when my new husband and I spent a night of our honeymoon there.

Others might think of it as the home of the famous Aussie Spirit, Bundaberg Rum or perhaps recognise it as a major sugarcane production area.  It seems to me that horticulture is taking over from sugarcane these days.

When I reached town the first thing I noticed at my first stop was strawberries so, of course, I had to have some.  Little did I know that this little great-niece would be as big a fan of them as I am.  What a pleasure it is to meet the next generation of my family.  

My brother lives on the road to Bagara, a popular seaside area, peaceful and relaxed.  It is said to have a climate similar to Hawaii.

Another association one might make with Bundaberg is as the birthplace of Bert Hinkler, a pioneer Australian aviator.  He designed and built early aircraft before being the first person to fly solo from England to Australia.  The city is proud of their Hinkler Hall of Aviation and Hinkler House which he had built in Southampton, England and which has been dismantled and transported to Bundaberg to be rebuilt as a Memorial Museum in his honour.

They both sit within the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens where I enjoyed a Sunday stroll with Bernie and Leisa.  The gardens are magnificent with peaceful pathways and small lakes with bridges and fountains.  There are many birds - pelicans, ducks, shags, cormorants and ibis.  

I particularly liked the turtles. There were hundreds, of all sizes.

I returned the next day to the lovely cafe in the grounds to meet up with the girl who grew up next door to me.  We share a birthday, same age, too.  The previous evening Bernie had taken me to visit another old friend, the man who was bestman at my wedding all those years ago.   My second son bears the name of these two men - Bernard John.
"We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone."  Unknown
Thanks to Eileen for the quote

Monday, 3 September 2018

Joseph Banks Conservation Park

If I were to have a memorial - and that's not something I wish for - I'd like it to be like this.  Made of natural bits and pieces, sticks and shells, tied together with bits of string and old rope.  For it to sit overlooking the sea would be even better.

Mind you, I wouldn't want to drown at sea to earn it, like the six fishermen this simple memorial commemorates did.  I've read of them described as seven larrikin mates (one survived) who were living their dream harvesting beche-de-mer (sea cucumbers).  They were experienced, capable and had every reason to be confident in their ability but their boat flipped in rough seas off this shore.  A sad, sad story.

The shore below the memorial - and a couple of keen fishermen
The memorial sits in Joseph Banks Conservation Park, a lovely spot.  There are easy walking tracks, some through thick bush, past weird rock formations, some along the edge of Bustard Bay.  I took the track around the rocky headland. 
After my walk, I was driving down a side road with no plans, decided to turn around as I was heading out of town and, as I turned, noticed a cafe sign.  It was outside a nice looking resort-y place, so I parked and wandered in.  The surroundings were nice, the food excellent if expensive but worth it for the company.  He's obviously a regular visitor and a born poser.

The next morning I was on my way to Bundaberg to visit another brother and his family.  
Heading out of town
I didn't have to go far before being hit by the dryness of the countryside.
I know this photo is all wrong but just look at the how dry that grass is.

A sight to make any farmer weep.  

And here's a sight to make Kiwi motorists weep.  This was at a small roadside gas station miles from anywhere.  The fuel was even cheaper in Bundaberg!