Brisbane, QLD

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


On our way home from Canberra, we left the town of Young and headed for Dubbo. Our new GPS called "Kate" took us across country in the most direct route instead of around on the faster highway. I was pleased with Kate because that is what I wanted to do, to meander through the countryside where I had never been before. I'm not too sure about TOH* who was a bit dubious about this adventure because the roads were a bit rough and narrow.
 Bumping over rough roads isn't conducive to sharp photography.  I loved the country scenery especially with the bright yellow fields of rape seed or canola appearing around every corner.
  I wanted to get up close to it so when it was possible which wasn't very often we pulled over for a few up close pics. We were in a farmer's driveway.
 It is not so stunning up close and I was amazed how much green there is on the plants yet from afar ..
its all yellow.

 Across the road another delightful country scene.
 Then it was back in the car for another few hundred kilometres.
 We saw many tumbledown barns but once again it was hard to find a spot on the narrow roads to stop for a pic.

We zoomed past many grain silos too another icon of the country in western NSW. After about 4 hours we were in Dubbo.
TOH* The Other Half

Sunday, October 28, 2012


As we drove through country towns of NSW on our way home from Canberra, we often stopped in at Information Centres to find out about the town and its history and attractions. In the information centre at Yass we saw a sculptured bust of Banjo Paterson. Since our grandson is named Banjo, we naturally took a closer look at his namesake.

I knew that he was a famous Australian Poet and he wrote the ballad "Waltzing Matilda" which has since been put to music and has become Australia's unofficial anthem. My other favourite poems, which I read to my class as a teacher, were "Mulga Bill's Bicycle," "A Bush Christmas" and "The Man from Snowy River", which was made into a movie.

I also knew his real name was Andrew Barton Paterson but I didn't know why he was called Banjo or what his connection was to Yass. After reading information I discovered that he grew up at Illalong Station near Binalong in the Yass Valley. His father was a grazier. When "Barty" (as his parents called him) was ten he was sent to Sydney Grammar School and he lived with his grandmother.

After school he became a solicitor but he had also started to write verse and had it published using the pen name of "Banjo" after the name of horse owned by his family.

He loved the "bush" (Australian for "country'' or "boondocks") and the characters he had met there. So he bought a 40,000 acre property in the Wee Jasper area of the Yass Valley as a country home.

In 1895 Paterson published his book of verse, "The Man from Snowy River. It sold out quickly and he became the second most popular living writer in English after Kipling.  Paterson's books still sell today.

Our little American Banjo

Friday, October 26, 2012


I should have included these photos in the last post about our reunion where you saw a bunch of oldies celebrating 50 years since we were at teachers' college. Well this is how we looked 50 years ago.

Class 1B Cadet Education Officers at Australian School of Pacific Administration. 1962.
I am 3rd from right in front row.

Class 1A. Colin is 5th from left in back row.
 Colin lives in Brisbane. After the reunion he stayed with his 90 year old mother in the country town of Young. It is not far from Canberra. TOH and I stayed in Young on our way home from Canberra and visited Colin and his mother.
 They showed us around the town. Firstly we did a tour of the lovely retirement village where Josephine lives.

 We visited the beautiful "Chinese Tribute Gardens".  The gardens were developed by the Rotary club and handed over to the Young council. Mayor Hewson dedicated them "in recognition of the contribution of the Chinese community to the settlement of Young in the 1860's. The chinese were gold miners in the early days.

 Now days Young is famous for its cherries and the Cherry Festival held in November.

 In the gardens there is an exact replica of "The Galloping Horse Treading on a Flying Swallow." It was unearthed in China in 1969 and is about 2000 years old. The artistic qualities are astounding. The proportions are perfectly matching a real horse and the centre of gravity is in the swallow and gives the statue stability.

 Many country towns have had their rail links closed and the railway stations are now used as Information Centres and museums. It is hard to understand why this service to country people has discontinued. Colin has a difficult time getting to Young on public transport to visit his mother.

 We took a stroll along the town's main street. 90 year old Josephine led the way. She is amazingly fit and healthy.

We ended up in a quaint shop selling crafts, conserves and fudge called "Poppa's Fudge & Jam Factory."I couldn't resist the fudge, yummmmmm chocolate mint.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


After a day spent with old friends in Canberra, visiting the Botanic Gardens and Floriade, we went back to the hotel and scrubbed up for the main dinner function of the reunion. It was held at the very nice Hellenic Club where we had a banquet in the Ginseng Restaurant.
We all met in the foyer of the Hellenic Club. It is 50 years since we all attended ASOPA* to study to become teachers in Papua/New Guinea and the Northern Territory. We easily picked up our  friendshp like it was only yesterday.

 Soon we adjourned upstairs to the restaurant where we had a delicious meal and loads more reminiscing.

The next morning we awoke to dull, rainy weather and freezing temperatures and this is supposed to be Spring. We had our last activity of the reunion which was a farewell breakfast at "The Oaks Brasserie" at Yarralumla Nursery and then we all said our goodbyes before dispersing to different corners of Australia.

We had planned to drive further south and visit The Snowy Mountains where I was going to climb to the top of our tallest mountain, Mt Kosiuzsko (not a difficult climb) and TOH* wanted to check out the amazing engineering project of the "Snowy Mountain Scheme"where the river was made to change direction and flow inland to irrigate the plains instead of flowing out to sea. There were many tunnels, dams and hydro power stations built too.
However, when we awoke to freezing temperatures and snow on the hills around Canberra, we changed our mind and headed north west towards the sun. We decided to take country roads back to Brisbane and stop and explore country towns on the way. I hope you enjoy the trip with us.
Naturally, first stop was the coffee shop. It was still very cold and the warmth inside was welcomed. It was a lovely little cafe and library in the town of Yass. Yass is a clean and well preserved little town with some very attractive old buildings still in use today. The population around Yass is made up of quite well off cattle and sheep farmers.

*ASOPA= Australian School of Pacific Administration.
*TOH= The other half

Friday, October 19, 2012


After lunch in the Botanic gardens with my student teacher colleagues of 50 years ago, we adjourned to Floriade to feast our eyes on even more flowers. The brochure states:
"Floriade is Australia's biggest celebration of spring. This iconic Canberra event runs for 30 days over the months of September and October. It showcases one million flowers in bloom, set in Canberra's Commonwealth Park and entry is free. We welcome over 400,000 local, interstate and international visitors each year to Canberra's spring festival."
This festival of flowers has been operating for 25 years and I have always wanted to visit one day. So I was thrilled to find it was an option on our reunion itinerary.

Come and tiptoe through the tulips with me.
 Flowers for as far as you could see. We were advised to go up in the ferris wheel to get the big picture but it was too cold to be sitting in the wind and we preferred to keep walking.

 The light shining through the petals highlighted the varigated colours.

 The different shades of pink and purple were just awesome.

 There were smaller flowers growing underneath the tulips.

 Pansies growing underneath the tulips.

 There were other kinds of flowers besides tulips, in this case poppies. 

Three tired little flowers.(Peter, Bill (TOH*), Colin)
*TOH= The Other Half.

Monday, October 15, 2012


When we left Sydney we headed down the highway to Canberra for my college reunion. It was a super road, no doubt because politicians use it often. 

Canberra is our national capital and it is situated in country NSW in its own territory called "Australian Capital Territory". At the turn of the 19th century when Australia became a Federation there was debate about where the capital should be, Melbourne or Sydney so it was decided to be placed in between the two state capitals in a territory of its own.
You know you have arrived in Canberra when you see the giant flagpole rising from the top of Parliament House. This is a side view where you can see the grass that grows on top of the building.
This photo from the web shows the front of the building. It is a huge complex.
That night there was a "Meet and Greet" of our old friends from 50 years ago, who all attended ASOPA* in 1962/63 destined for the classrooms of Papua/New Guinea and the Northern Territory. It was non stop chatter, reminiscing and catching up.
The next day we walked through the Botanical Gardens full of native Australian flora. The weather decided to turn cold.

My ardent commenter, Colin is also an ex student and he is here amongst the Banksia flowers with Margaret, wife of Peter, another ex student.

There were so many beautiful native flowers here are just a few.

We could see another icon of Canberra from the gardens.
The Black Mountain Tower.

Lazing around the water hole were lots of these lizards.

I think they are Water Dragons.
I love their prehistoric skin texture.

Then we bumped into some more of our crowd in the rainforest section. From L to R Dave and Lorraine from Adelaide, SA. Margaret from Maitland, NSW. Sue and Bill from Victoria, and Colin from Brisbane, QLD.

The whole group about 40 all met together for lunch in the cafe at the Botanical gardens. More talk fest. Not many of us stayed in teaching and we have followed an interesting range of occupations although many of us are now retired. Rory on the left has a huge cattle station and farm stay property in the Northern Territory. Ian on the right worked for the American Government in Japan and the list goes on.
Thanks to Ian and his helpers Bob and Jeff, who now live in Canberra and organised this 50th anniversary event. They had special caps made for us with the ASOPA logo and 50th Anniversary embroidered. A nice memento.
*ASOPA = Australian School of Pacific Administration