Brisbane, QLD

Monday, May 18, 2009


This is going to be Birthday Bear's most exciting birthday yet. Birthday Bear belongs to a group of friends who celebrate birthdays together. Instead of giving presents, Birthday Bear is given from one person to the next on each birthday. It has to be dressed differently each time, reflecting the recipient's personality. Bear is the star of the birthday lunches.
Unfortunately, Chris has missed all our birthdays this last year as she and husband Bob have started on a working tour around Australia. At the moment they are working in Townsville in Far North Queensland. As it was Chris' birthday this week the group decided to surprise her by taking Birthday Bear to Townsville. Bill rang Bob and made the arrangements but kept it secret from Chris. The lunch was to be on Saturday. The group decided to make it a 3 day getaway, so on Thursday, we flew to Townsville with Birthday Bear. It is a 2 hour flight.

The view from our hotel window.

Jupiter's Casino Hotel.

Next morning we went for a walk into town and  passed the marina with the Red Baron joy flight plane.

We saw some lovely old buildings.

We didn't want to be seen by Chris, so we thought we would leave the town and get a ferry to Magnetic Island.

We left Townsville and Castle Hill behind and headed to Magnetic Island.

Bob rang us with the startling news that Chris was taking her son to visit the island today. This was going to be tricky! Luckily she had gone early and was due back at 2:00 pm. Our tour started at 1:15 from the ferry terminal. We had just got onto our bus when another arrived and we saw Chris and son alight and head for the ferry home. That was close!

Rocky Bay

Nelly Bay and Harbour.

Cockle Bay

Kissing under Kissing Rock

Horseshoe Bay

Then we returned to our hotel where we met another couple of friends, Ben and Lyn, who happened to be on holiday here too. We all had dinner together, a delicious seafood buffet.

The next day we were to walk to the Rock Pool Restaurant where Bob had arranged for us to surprise Chris, she thought she was just having lunch with Bob and neighbours from the caravan park. Birthday Bear was clamouring to get out of her bag and check out the hotel before going to lunch.

Here she is in casual holiday attire, bikini and sarong. Accessories included a bead bag with sun screen and insect repellent, bucket and spade, and a booklet with photos and stories of all the lunches, which Chris had missed. Ann dressed bear and she was very suitably attired for Townsville.
She checked out the pool area and had a sun bake.

Then she ordered a drink and chatted with friends, Diane, Ann and Helen.


She contemplated having a swim......

....but decided on a workout in the gym.

She needed a nap before the long walk to the restaurant.

We walked 2.5 kms along the beautiful Strand Park. The tropical views are magic. There is no surf because the Great Barrier Reef stops the waves.

Sadly you cannot swim in the sea at this time of the year as there are dangerous marine stingers.

However, there are netted enclosures where it is safe to swim. But Bear just wanted to get to the restaurant.
"O.K. I'm ready for Chris to arrive and give her a big surprise." Here she comes with Bob.

She is so happy to see us all that she cries but not for long.
I think she enjoyed the surprise for her 60th birthday. Then we all settled down for our birthday lunch with bear at the head of the table.

Ann, Pam, Troy, George, Bob, Chris, me, Helen and Paul.(Bill took the photo)

The fish and salad was delicious.

Then the girls walked and talked.
We had coffee before returning to the hotel where we sat by the pool and chattered some more.

We watched the sun go down. It was a beautiful sunset to end an exciting day. Bob and Chris hired an 8 seat wagon for the next morning and took us sightseeing around Townsville before we flew back to Brisbane.

View from the top of Castle Hill.

The Ross River Weir.

Bye, bye Townsville, bye bye Chris and Bob. Bear wasn't allowed to stay, she had to come home with us ready for Mary's birthday on 12 June. Mary couldn't come with us to Townsville as she was on holiday in Victoria.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Yesterday was Mother's' Day and our 40th wedding anniversary.
I received phone calls from all my children and flowers. I LOVE flowers. I wish it was Mothers' Day every week. (They all live too far away for a visit)
In the evening we celebrated our Ruby Anniversary with friends at Toni's Restaurant.
Still happy after 40 years.
This photo was 40 years ago, just before we were married. Sadly, our wedding photos were a disaster. We only knew each other a few months before we were married and many friends didn't think it would last. Funny thing is most of them have divorced but our love has continued to grow. Looks like Bill's hair has slipped from his head to his chin now.
The food is good at Toni's.
We received some lovely gifts.
Ruby dessert glasses
a lovely orchid
and ruby Bromeliad

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Wednesday 2nd February 1949

Weather glorious today. Hot but not too much as there is a strong breeze. Children’s sports on deck today. Saw dolphins leaping from the ocean. We are about 20 degrees below the equator. Have got a lovely tan by now, but some passenger’s skin burns when only 20 mins in the sun, even when it is cloudy.
David went to visit the Captain’s bridge. He steered the ship, saw compasses and all the other instruments.
Clocks on again I hour.
Lost David and found him sound asleep, fully dressed, but with his pillow and blanket on a hatch at 1:00 am.

Thursday 3rd February 1949
Cooler than what we have been used to lately but still warm enough.

Friday 4th February
A little cooler but hot in the sun. A lot of excitement as it is the children’s farewell party at 2:00 pm. All looked lovely in party dresses.

(I'm in the middle and David is on the right ) 
All 500 lined up and marched around the decks following the pipers in kilts. It was a beautiful sight. The main dining hall was decorated with flags, hundreds of balloons and the tables were beautiful. There were 2 huge birthday cakes, cream cakes and fancy cakes. After tea there were games and a concert with prizes. Each received a packet of sweets and a chocolate. The captain made a speech and gave them each a signed menu.
Clocks on again. Everyone is excited as it is only 1000 miles to Freemantle.

Saturday 5th February 1949
(The first day there is no entry written. I do remember the party, I was much happier now as I had learned my way around the ship and had made a few friends. I can remember we were all very excited, a party with 500 kids! There was heaps of delicious party food and lots of fun and games.)

Sunday 6th February 1949
Awake at 5:30 and looked out to see AUSTRALIA in the distance.

The pilot climbs aboard to guide us into Fremantle.
We are there at last and we are excited because we can go ashore today at Freemantle the first stop since Aden. Everyone was up and dressed by 7:00 am to pass the doctor before landing. Lots of people on landing stage to meet passengers. Finally we got on shore about 11:00 am. It was 90 F degrees and very hot. Everyone beautifully dressed on shore in summer attire and all looking very bronzed.
Got a bus to Perth. Peculiar buses, no conductors. Really beautiful city. Walked around and looked at the shops then took a taxi ride around King’s Park.

Kangaroos, pineapples, palms, gorgeous flowers and lovely bungalows with coloured tile roofs. Wide clean streets. Everything is spotless and all the buildings look brand new. We visited Perth University where there was a pond absolutely teeming with goldfish.
 Mum, Dad David and me in King's Park Perth 1949

 The goldfish pond in the University grounds.

Lovely food. 7/6 for all our lunches. Bought fruit.
Back at 5:00pm. Very tired but had an enjoyable day.

Monday 7th February 1949
Watched the coast of Australia. White sandy hills and cliffs looking like snow. Rather cool.

Tuesday 7th February 1949
Lazy day. Melbourne passengers are packing ready to disembark. We had talks from emigration officer and padre. Some saw whales. Dancing in the evening. Clocks on.

Wednesday 9th February 1949
Only 5 more days, so we are looking forward to landing in Sydney now. As the clocks are put on again we slept all afternoon.

(Sadly mum’s diary of the voyage finishes here, even though we stopped in Melbourne and landed in Sydney on Sunday 13th February 1949. I can only guess she was so excited to have arrived and on the brink of a new life that the diary became unimportant. However, I have her photo album with captions and my own memories to help me piece together my parents first years of their struggle, hardships and fun in establishing themselves in their new homeland.)