Brisbane, QLD

Thursday, July 30, 2015


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.


  1. Great story Diane.
    I'm hoping that the so-called new International Airport at Sydney will
    be called the Lawrence Hargraves International to honour this great
    Australian aviator.
    At the rate the governments are progressing, you, Bill and I will be digging
    up daisies before the first sod of earth has been turned!
    Great post.

  2. Funny tale with a better ending than Mulga Bill who also had a new machine to try.

  3. I love the story of your experience with the boat. I can understand why your parents weren't keen on boating after that experience.

  4. Diane what a fantastic story about the past. The prize was lovely ....And the opera house in Sydney I didn't now it was built many years ago.. It is symbol of Sydney around the world

  5. A wonderful story which is brought even more to life by the photographs.

  6. What a nice story about the boat adventure. I love to see those old photos of Sydney, they are so special to see how things have changed so much.

  7. Wow winning a boat is quite something. You could probably have lots of fun in it today :-) Keep well, t'other Diane

  8. Hello Diane, what a great story. At least you had some fun with the boat. It is neat seeing the old photos of the city and you, Bill and your parents. Great post, enjoy your day!

  9. I would be like that with a boat. No idea what to do. I sometimes feel that way with our new caravan.

  10. Your Mom is ADORABLE in that photo christening the boat and I so love all the smiles in these photos. Good times we can tell. Love the boat story and something I'd probably manage to do!

  11. Fantastic story and it is great you have photos to go with it.

    Nope nothing like your Mom's turkey dinner!

  12. Great photos and very interesting, you had me laughing.

  13. THAT was an adventurous introduction to boating!

  14. What a great story, Diane! After living a few months on tidal water I completely understand how this could happen. What a life you've led.

  15. What a great story. How adventurous you all were, I think I would have just sold the boat straight away.

  16. Loved reading about your funny boating experience. Sounds like something that could have happened to me. Glad it all turned out ok

  17. What a funny story and a real adventure out with the new boat. At least you all survived to tell the tale & I guess your Mum & Dad were more than happy to sell the prize and move on with their normal life.

  18. Now days you often get these types of phone calls from people trying to sell you something by first telling you that you have won something, boats can be such fun, my dad had a boat for a while and so did Tim but really they never used it as much as they could have thought it was too much work to take it out. Now way I would climb the bridge at all being scared shitless of open heights

  19. Loved the boating story Diane. What an adventure. Great photos and lovely to see the ones of you and Bill with your mom and dad.

  20. Fun memories! We stranded ourselves in tidal waters here in Oregon ! But we were able to wait until it turned.

  21. Loved the story!! I'm quite sure we would do harm to the boat or ourselves if we ventured into boating. Seems like a tricky business. Glad it all worked out. The vintage photos were enjoyable as well.

  22. so lucky to have won a boat. My Father in law won a trip overseas after buying a washing machine.

  23. One of my cousins gave me a boat when I was a teen, and my parents told me it would be my responsibility. It wasn't new like the one your parents won, but my brothers and I fixed it up. We didn't know anything about boats, but we still had a great time. My wife and I are considering getting a boat to enjoy with our kids.