Brisbane, QLD

Monday, July 28, 2014


We booked up for a tour of the State Library of Queensland with our U3A winter school. (University of the Third Age.) It was something I have wanted to do since the new building opened in 2006. It has taken me a while to get around to it.  However, I am glad I did because it was really interesting.
 The building is made up of two buildings side by side and five storeys high. The buildings are connected by bridges and the roof. There is a walk way between the buildings which leads to the art galleries in the adjacent buildings We started the tour on the 4th floor. There were too many different areas to showcase here so I'll show just a few from each floor. There was some lovely art on this floor especially in the Black Opium Rooms.  They are very small rooms for only one or two students to study in. The walls are decorated with art created by Fiona Foley an aboriginal artist. She depicts a sad part of our history when aboriginal labourers were paid with opium. There is also acknowledgement to the traditional owners of the land that the library stands on.
The famous John Oxley Library is housed on this floor. It is a collection of historical ephemera  of Queensland's history.

 On the the third floor, one area was the Tim Fairfax Reading Room which was a comfortable lounge with draws containing the latest newspapers from around the world. There were also televisions with earphones to get the latest news from around the world, as well as microfiche readers for newspapers from years ago.
 From the music collection area we could see down into the Asian/Pacific design section on the second floor. It covers design in all areas.

 We could look over the balcony and see the Poinciana Lounge, named after the huge Poinciana tree outside the window on the bank of the Brisbane River. This was a beautiful area for reading and research.

We walked down to the second floor to The Red Box, so called because from the outside it is a big red box shape sticking out of the building almost over the river. It is an area for reading but it can be hired for talks or other functions.

 The view from The Red Box is a great one of the river city, Brisbane. See the huge Poinciana tree outside.

 Also on the second floor is the Queensland Terrace. An open area with a mirrored ceiling and walls made of cabinets full of cups and saucers. I tried to catch the reflection of our group in the ceiling but I couldn't move back any further without falling over the balcony into the gardens. This area is often used for weddings. The collection of teacups is part of a project called "Tea and Me". It is about sharing stories and memories over a cuppa the cups have been donated together with stories about the cups.

Finally the ground floor has a special area for aboriginal people to come and tell their dreaming stories as well as studying it even has an outside area around a fireplace. There is also a fabulous Children's Corner area where activities for children are on everyday. "Infozone" is here too where you can pop in to use computers or charge your devices. There is an adjacent building called "The Edge" mainly used by young people for using all kinds of digital media. They can record songs or make movies all equipment is provided and a cafe as well. There is a restaurant and a book shop near the "Knowledge" walkway. Naturally there are loads of activities and exhibitions going on all the time. All in all it was an enlightening experience. Anyone can book free tours.

Monday, July 21, 2014


I dropped my 'Fossil' watch on the bathroom floor and broke two links of the ceramic band. Because I bought the watch in USA, Fossil didn't have any matching bands here and they had to get one from the States. I got a call saying the band had arrived. We caught the train into town and found the FOSSIL shop in Queen's Plaza.
Queen's Plaza has an entrance on Queen St Mall. After we picked up the watchband we went for a coffee in the Mall.

We sat outside and I couldn't help thinking about the difference in temperature compared to Adelaide a few weeks ago.

After coffee we strolled through the Mall. We saw an Arcade similar to the one in Adelaide.

I noticed a lot of people in shorts, summer dresses and sandals. I assumed that they must be tourists from the northern hemisphere or our southern states and they think our winter is very warm. 

However, the locals like me were dressed in pants and jumpers(sweaters) and soaking up the sun. Still warmer than down south.

We came across this statue artist. I couldn't believe he was pretending to sit with only one leg on the ground and he was motionless. The boy in T-shirt and shorts in winter is also amazed.

I loved the splash of colour the balloon man gave to the Mall.

We walked over the bridge to South Brisbane Station, which is a lovely old preserved building.

Soon we were on a train returning home after a sunny winter's day in Brisbane. I'm glad that I don't live in a place with freezing temperatures. We find the 'Park and Ride' system is really good for trips to town. Senior rates and no parking worries or expense. Sometimes we use the train and sometimes the busway. (see an old post)

Friday, July 18, 2014


When I was teaching in PNG we had about 8 weeks leave at the end of each year. I usually flew home to Sydney to stay with my parents and visit friends. However, at the end of 1966 I went on a cruise to Malaysia because my parents were on their first trip home to England after migrating in 1949. So it had been 16 years since my parents had visited their homeland. Unfortunately, in that time 3 of my 4 grandparents had died. That must have been sad for my parents and for my grandparents to not have seen each other again.
My friend, Jan and I bought tickets for a cruise on the ship, "Australasia" to visit Malaysia. The ship was mainly a cargo vessel which took some passengers also. So it wasn't like the flash, multi story cruise liners of today.
We sailed from Pt Moresby to Singapore, Penang, Kuala Lumpur and back to Singapore and Pt Moresby.
I was 23 and excited to be going on my first cruise and holiday overseas.
Up until 1965 when Singapore gained independence and Lee Kwan Yew became Prime Minister, Singapore had had a turbulent history and wasn't a well developed country. Lee Kwan Yew dragged it into the twentieth century and it quickly became the clean, modern place that it is today.

The first thing I remember about Singapore was the heat, the rain and the smell. Not like todays sanitised city. However, it was exotic and a little scary but we had some of the ship's crew with us. This was the first time I had seen transvestite prostitutes in the street. It was a seedy place at night.

We visited the "Tiger Balm Gardens" where we saw lovely tropical plants, many sculptures and even monkeys running around begging food.

There were many men with straw hats peddling bikes with a rickshaw's attached at the side. The shops were so different to the modern malls of today.

The apartment blocks had a rustic charm but probably not as comfortable as today's apartment towers.

It was 1966 and Lee Kwan Yew had started to get modern apartments built. 

The ship was a few days in Singapore unloading cargo. There was always a little blackboard at the top of the gang plank telling us when the ship would leave. We were told that the ship waits for no one. We had to make sure that we were back in time and hope that they hadn't unloaded earlier than expected.
We sailed up the coast of Malaya to Penang Harbour, where we had to be taken to the wharf in a tender. Our ship, Australasia, is in the background

In Penang we caught a funicular cable train up to the top of the island. It was very steep.

It was an amazing view at the top overlooking the harbour.

It was a beautiful rugged Island.

Then we rumbled down the track back to the town. I had my heart in my mouth.
I had lunch at a hotel on the beautiful white sand with my friend Jan and some boys from the ship. It is hard to believe how this place was devastated by a tsunami not long ago. I recently met Jan again in Adelaide after all this time.

We visited temples.

Inside was a giant reclining Buddha wrapped in gold.

Outside this temple there was a big pot with sand and joss sticks burning. Lying on the sand were many viper snakes. I think they were sacred and had a religious reason for being there.

Tourists were encouraged to pick them up for photos. They are deadly poisonous snakes but they had their fangs removed and were made sleepy by the burning joss sticks. So I plucked up the courage to hold one.

This was a Chinese temple. I enjoyed Penang very much but this was as far north as the ship went. 

We turned south and called into Pt Swettenham the gateway to Kuala Lumpur the capital of Malaya.

We got taxis into the city. It was quite a modern city compared to Singapore at that time. This was the National Mosque.

A rich sultan's house.

The museum

A most beautiful Siamese Temple with gold trimmings and roof.

The war memorial.

Besides buildings we went on a tour of industries. A rubber plantation with Brahman cattle. It was the first time I had seen these type of cows. Now we have them in Northern Australia too as they cope with heat.
We saw a tin mine too.

Then we were on our way home but we stopped in Singapore to have the tallow cleaned out of the holds by these women. Apparently it was a horrific job. They worked in the terrible heat of the hold. They had to scrape the tallow off the walls by hand. Tallow is rendered beef and mutton fat processed from suit. It is solid and is used to make soap and as animal feed. It is also used to produce shortening  for cooking. McDonalds used it to cook fries until 1990.

After a few days at sea we were back in Pt Moresby ready for another year's work and fun.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Birthday bear time again. If you don't know about our Birthday Bear tradition read more here. This time the celebration lunch was for my birthday, which was last month. However, because Mary and I have birthdays in the same week we postpone one of the celebrations for some time later.

So last Sunday we all went to lunch at La Porchetta, an Italian restaurant at Loganholme. It was quite a cool winter's day so we opted to eat inside instead of out in the Piazza. I love Italian food so I was happy to have a pasta, chicken and avocado dish.

Bear was there to meet me when I arrived. Bear was dressed as me giving a talk on photography at our U3A camera club. She also had on a pair of bling sneakers very much like mine. She also had a name badge and a pointer just like me. It will be good if she plans the next lesson for me.

 Mary did a good job at dressing Bear  this time.

The best way to spend a birthday if you don't have family close is to spend it with good friends and good food.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


When I was a teenager, I had three wishes: I wanted to ski in Switzerland, I wanted to own a sports car and I wanted to get married and have children. In 1966 one of these wishes came true.
 I was working in PNG as a teacher. I had been there for 2 years.

 I had met a nice young man, J,  at a party and we became very good friends for a few years. We posed in front of the tripod for this shot with our friends M and F. The boys used to play in a band.

I used to ride my scooter to J's house on the weekends and we used to go to the beach, movies and parties. J had a very good haus boi who did the house work. He was a shy young man called Joseph.

Towards the end of my second year working in PNG, I had saved enough money to buy a car. I poured over brochures and decided on a Triumph Spitfire sports car.
I had to oder it from Brisbane, Australia. Instead of having it shipped straight up to PNG I decided to pick it up myself when I went "down south" on leave.
J and I had planned to go on leave together.
So when school finished we flew to Brisbane and picked up the car.

 It was a beauty, a white convertible sports car with a red interior, my wish had come true. We drove the car south along the coast road to Sydney, where I introduced J to my parents.

 Then we drove into the Blue Mts and visited Jenolan Caves. Then we travelled on to Adelaide to meet his parents.

Adelaide was known as the city of parks and churches 

It was summer and fiercely hot, over 40°C a big difference to when I was there last week. There are also many more high rise hotels there now.

We went further down the coast to Victor Harbour. It also is much more developed now.

All too soon our fabulous holiday came to an end and we had to return to work in PNG. I organised the car to be shipped up there but I had to wait excitedly for weeks for it to arrive, but it did. I had lots of fun in this car but also some problems too.