Thursday, July 30, 2015

CONGRATULATIONS YOU HAVE WON A BOAT!

When we were "on leave" from Papua/New Guinea in 1969, Bill and I stopped in Brisbane and bought a block of land and then we continued on to Sydney to stay with my parents. Bill had not seen Sydney before so I very proudly showed him around my beautiful city.
We climbed up the steps inside the southern pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. That was before the days of tourist climbs up the arch. The people on the arch in this photo would be workmen, probably painters as the bridge is continually being painted. 

 From the pylon lookout we could see developing Sydney. There  were many more towers than when I left Sydney for PNG six years earlier.  Now, even these are dwarfed by many more.

 We could see the Opera House being constructed. Little did we know that we would have a daughter working there one day.

When we arrived at my parents place they told us this funny story:

The phone rang, Mum answered, because Dad was out. A voice said, "Congratulations! You have won a boat." Mum laughed and said, "You must be mistaken we have never bought a raffle ticket for a boat."The voice enquired, "You are Mrs Speakman?" "Yes, but you must have the wrong person" However, the Voice didn't give up and eventually he asked if Mum had bought a fridge recently from Grace Bros. She had, and unknown to her, Dad had been given a free ticket in a raffle for a boat and trailer for shopping at Grace Bros. He had forgotten to tell mum. Finally she was convinced that they had won a boat.

So, there it was sitting under the carport all shiny and new. We asked them if they had tried it out. No they hadn't because they didn't know the first thing about boating and they were waiting for us to teach them. Well talk about the blind leading the blind. But that didn't stop us having a go.
So we towed it down to the nearest river, the Woronora, and launched the boat with much gusto.

We had fun learning to drive it along the small Woronora River and into the bigger Georges River.

 We found a lovely little picnic spot and pulled the boat up onto the sand while we had lunch and a nap. When we woke up and thought its time to go we saw that the boat was sitting on the sand miles, a long way from the water. Us inexperienced boaties hadn't considered the tide. These rivers are tidal.

We had to struggle to push the boat through metres and meters of mud until we got to the water. Finally, we were on our way back to the Woronora tributary and the car and trailer. As we edged our way up the smaller river the water got shallow and more shallow until it just became a series of water holes. There was no way to get the boat back to the car and evening was closing in.

Luckily Dad came up with an idea. Turn around, drive the boat back to Georges River to the rail bridge where there was a boat ramp and Como railway station. Dad and Bill caught the train and a taxi back to the car and trailer, which wasn't easy as they had left their wallets at home. So they had to sneak on the train and get a taxi to take them home first to get the wallet and then take them to the car. The driver needed some persuasion, he thought the story sounded a bit dodgy. Mum and I huddled under the picnic blanket near the boat in the chilly air as night started falling. After what seemed hours and hours, the boys arrived with the car and trailer and we joyfully hooked up the raffle prize and headed home.

Needless to say Mum and Dad were not enthusiastic boaties and they offered to give us their prize but we had other plans, like travelling the world. So Mum and Dad sold the boat but not before we had a few more outings and learning from our mistakes.

 A few days later, we celebrated Christmas dinner together. There is nothing like your Mum's Christmas dinner, turkey and the trimmings.


After a few more sight seeing trips around Sydney and environs for Bill, we were on our way back to Papua/New Guinea and work. 

The view of the south coast beach of  Stanwell Park from the cliffs at Stanwell Tops. It is a popular place for hang gliding and it is where the early aviator, Lawrence Hargraves, first flew a box kite gliding plane in 1894. 

He was leading the race in human flight. He invented the box kite wing, the curved wing surface and the thick leading wing edge. He didn't patent his work but shared it with other scientists.

The Wright Bros and Octave Chanute used his ideas to make the first flying machines.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A JASS WEEKEND

Many years ago, Bill and his friend Ben emigrated from Switzerland. After a while they went their own ways in Australia but met up again after they were both married to Aussie girls. We would visit each other regularly and play cards. The boys taught us Aussie girls to play their national card game called "Jass". It is a little similar to our card game called "500". Jass is played with a partner and after Lyn and I got the hang of how to play we used to challenge the boys. Needless to say we rarely won at first but gradually we managed to hone our skills and sometimes beat the Swiss boys at their own game. We were very proud.
Then Ben and Lyn moved to another part of Australia and we didn't see them for years. However, they have returned and we have continued to be friends and visit each other occasionally. This weekend they invited us to stay with them on the Gold Coast for the weekend. They are living in a tower overlooking the Broadwater. ( an estuary)
 It was pretty watching the sun go down.
 After dinner the cards came out and we had an enjoyable time. We were all happy with the result: Boys 2 ,Girls 2.

 In the morning we saw the sun struggling to peep through the clouds.

After breakfast, Ben and Lyn took us for a walk along the waterfront which has been developed into a lovely park and play areas for young families. Lyn, Ben and Bill, still mates since teenage years.

 The ocean is on the other side of the towers.

 There are thousands of boats. This looks like a Whale Watching boat heading out.

 We turned around and headed back after we reached the girl sitting on the hill. It is a wonderful huge statue of Maddie and her Teddy by sculptor John Cox.

To Bill's delight we passed an MG show. Classical car owners turned up with a variety of MG's to show. Bill found his "first ever car" (the second one along). We also found an MGBGT like the one we used to own in PNG.
All too soon our Jass weekend was over and it was time to drive home.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

ON LEAVE DOWN SOUTH 1969

(It is many months since I added to "My Story" and I must get on with it so I can publish it for my children before I 'pop my clogs'. If you are interested in reading any previous posts just click on the label "My Story")

Bill and I were married in May 1969 in Papua New Guinea where we had been working for some time. In December it was time for us to go "on leave down south", which is the term we used when we were going on holidays back home in Australia. In those days "home" for me was Sydney.

Bill and I had decided to work for another year in PNG after we were married and in May 1970 we would go to Switzerland. We weren't sure if we would stay in Switzerland or return to Australia. Bill's company had said there would be a job for him in Brisbane if he wanted to return to Australia.

We had saved a bit of money since we were married and I suggested that we should buy a block of land in Brisbane so if we decided to return Bill would have a job and we would have somewhere to build a house. If we stayed in Switzerland we could use it as an investment. Bill was surprised at my suggestion because he never dreamt it would be possible for us to own our own land and house. This is because in Switzerland it was impossible unless you were very rich or unless you inherited land. or a house.

So, in December 69, when we went on leave we flew to Brisbane first before heading home to Sydney. We stayed in the Sunnybank Hotel because Bill had a work colleague, Fred, who was on leave also and he was living close by. Fred had a friend, who lent us a car while we were in Brisbane. We were dumbfounded with this generosity from someone we didn't even know. Later we were to discover that this is the nature of Queenslanders, they are friendly, helpful and generous people.

We put the little car into use by driving all over Brisbane visiting estate agents and looking at land for sale.
After viewing many houses for sale and blocks of land we finally decided on an acre block in the new suburb of Springwood about 20k south of the CBD. It was on Springwood Rd.

This is Springwood Road today taken from the same spot. It is now 4 lanes wide. There are traffic lights, a high school and wall to wall houses.

 It was just native bushland but I thought it was beautiful and close to the city and close to the Gold Coast in a new and developing suburb and we weren't intending to live there for a while or maybe never if we stayed in Switzerland. This is me looking down the block it sloped towards a creek.

Same place today slightly different angle.

Our acre of land in 1969  and what it looks like today. (We don't own it any more. Incidentally we paid $2,700 for the land which is now worth hundreds of thousands because it can be subdivided. We sold too early.)

After we finalized the buying of the land we spent a few days sight seeing before flying onto Sydney.
 Queen St Brisbane at Christmas time 1969

 The City Hall was the tallest building, today it is dwarfed by towers. The first tower was being built then. It was the State Govt Insurance Building behind the beautiful church, which luckily has been heritage listed. It is the Albert St Uniting Church formerly the Methodist Church, built in 1888.

The city was like a big country town, much smaller than Sydney but I found the people friendly and thought it would be an okay place to live. Little did I know how much I would come to love Brisbane and become a proud Queenslander.




After looking around the city, we visited Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.There were dingoes, emus, kangaroos and other native wildlife. Unfortunately the koalas are dying out due to humans taking away their habitat to build on. Cats and dogs are killing them as well as cars.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

ANOTHER NICE DAY IN LA.

Another day in LA, when my daughter Sonya had to go to work, Bernie, the boys and I were invited to a friend's house for a BBQ. The house was in a lovely suburb called Los Feliz. 
 The view from their lounge room looking over LA to the hills was very nice.

 The house was on the border of Griffith Park, a huge green area in LA. Bernie wanted to take the boys for a walk to tire them out so they would go to sleep easily at bed time and he wanted to show me the great views from the top of the hill. There was no path at first just steep, steep sand and bush. I  felt like a mountain goat.

 Finally we emerged from the scrub onto a path but it was still steep. I'm glad 3 year old Banjo was with us because I could at least keep up with him.

 Just before we entered the forest on top of the hill, I turned around and saw this magic view of down town LA.

After an hour it was time to return down the hill to cook the BBQ and get home in time for the little boys bath and bedtime. Banjo was taking his time. He likes to examine everything he passes. So Bernie scooped him up onto his shoulders so we wouldn't be late. Fox was no problem, he's always on the move and he was keeping up with friend, Jacinta. Needless to say we all slept well that night.

Monday, July 13, 2015

ITS FREEZING DOWN UNDER

It is hard to believe but it is very cold here at the moment. The south east of Australia is getting a blast from an Antarctic Vortex. There are snow storms and bad wind in the highlands and the southern cities are very cold. It has even come as far north as southern Queensland. Ouch we are not used to this. The temps are still nothing like down south but we feel cold. 15°C/59°F to 6°C/42°F. The wind chill makes it worse.
To help me warm up I am going to remember my trip to Palm Springs in California when the temperature was in the forties Celsius. I bet it is even hotter there now. 
We drove from LA and it wasn't long before we were in desert country. The mountains were stark and beautiful. There was even a little snow still caught in the ridges on top of the mountains.

It only took 2 hours to get to the town. It was quite amazing driving out of the desert into a flourishing town with greenery, trees and palms. There were lovely houses and buildings too.

It was very hot when we arrived and it didn't take the family long to get into the pool to cool off.

 I enjoyed a wine in the shade. (Boy I wish I felt that warm right now.)

My daughter and family were offered a friend's holiday house to stay in for a few days. It was a lovely big house with lots of bedrooms and relaxing areas. This was the children's playroom overlooking the pool, spa and tennis court.

Despite the heat in the evening, I couldn't resist a game of tennis with the son in law, Bernie.

I had a very comfortable, air conditioned bedroom and en suite.
It was a lovely few days away living it up. It was nice to see Sonya be able to relax and enjoy the children instead of being at work.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

PALM SPRINGS AERIAL TRAMWAY

While I was in LA last month my daughter and family took me for a trip to Palm Springs for a few days. It was a great experience. The landscape was amazing; desert, mountains and palm trees. The temperature was 40°C/104°F. It didn't bother me as I prefer hot than cold. We stayed in a lovely house (next post). Sonya packed a picnic snack and we drove up the foothills to the Tramway Valley Station.
 We went into the waiting area where I read information about the Tramway. It has the largest rotating   cabins in the world. 'Rotating!!! eek!' holding up to 80 passengers. It climbs from 2,643ft/806m to 8,516ft/2,596m. Wow! passing through 5 life zones from Mexican Sonoran Desert to an Alpine wilderness.

 I was very happy to read that it was made in Thun, Switzerland, Bill's hometown. So I knew it would be safe. (hee hee)

 Soon we were swinging and rotating up the narrow valley to the mountain top. It was breathtaking.

 The boys enjoyed the view. Only the floor rotated, the walls were stationary so Banjo had to keep letting go of the rail.

 At the top we emptied out into the Mt Jacinto State Park, which has 54 miles of hiking trails and some primitive camping grounds. It is covered in snow in winter. Sonya found it strange to see it without snow.

 We set off down the other side of the mountain. I was thinking umm we have to walk UP here again to catch the tram. It was fairly steep.

 Then we were in a mountain forest it seemed strange after being in a desert.

 We looked for a nice rock to spread out the picnic.

 My cute American family.

 The boys preferred to climb up a big rock with their muffins rather than sit on our nice flat rock. After our snack we went exploring and hiking. The boys loved climbing and balancing on fallen logs. It was a lovely temperature up there, not at all hot nor too cold. All too soon it was time to head back up to the Tramway. By now the boys were worn out and had to be piggy backed up the hill. I managed to huff and puff my way up even though we had to rush at the end as we could hear the call to board the tram.

Boarding the Tramway at the Mountain Station.

 It was an amazing view over Palm Springs and the desert. As the cabin rotates..........
you get a close up look at the walls of the canyon. It was a wonderful experience. In ten minutes we  were back in the desert and the heat.