Brisbane, QLD

Friday, April 29, 2016


The Blue Mountains is a rugged region west of Sydney in Australia’s New South Wales. Known for dramatic scenery, it encompasses steep cliffs, eucalyptus forests, waterfalls and villages dotted with guesthouses, galleries and gardens. Katoomba, a major town in the area, borders Blue Mountains National Park and its bushwalking trails.
It is believed the mountains have a blue tinge when viewed from a distance because of "mia scatterings" in the atmosphere which in turn is caused by a large amount of volatile terpenoids emitted by the large amount of Eucalyptus trees in the area.
 There are numerous lookouts which can be reached by car and many more on the walking trails. This  is Sublime Point Lookout.

 We could see the famous "Three Sisters" from Sublime Point but they are usually viewed from the other side at Echo Point Lookout. We couldn't find a car park there as it was so crowded.

 The Blue Mountains are part of the Great Dividing Range. They are made up of a series of ravines and ridges which made it very difficult for early explorers to cross the mountains. Officially the first Europeans to cross were Blaxland, Wentorth and Lawson in 1813. Before that, the aborigines found two routes across. In 1980 letters were found to suggest that John Wilson, a freed convict, who lived with the aborigines crossed the mountains in 1795. It is believed that this fact was suppressed at the time so that the convicts wouldn't try to escape from Sydney over the mountains.
 The mountains are not very high with the highest point just over 1,000m/3000ft

 It is great to see families enjoying the outdoors.

 The next day we went to Blackheath, one of the townships, in the mountains. The weather was overcast but we did visit Govett's Leap Lookout.

Even in the misty rain, the views were stunning.

Carol and David pointed out the trail that they have hiked and a waterfall.

Maybe you can see the waterfall in this shot.

The rain increased so we found a super coffee shop inside an antique emporium.
Then it was time for our young ones to drive us back to the airport to fly home to Brisbane. What a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


It was with great sadness that we farewelled our dear friend, Paul, yesterday. 

We met Paul and Helen back in 1990, when I started teaching with Helen. At staff dinners Paul and Bill met and we soon became friends. We often spent weekends away at the beach with Helen and Paul. Later we decided it would be fun to go on longer holidays together. We went to many places in Australia including Tasmania, Western Australia, Northern Territory and many more. They were great travelling buddies.( Click on the photos to make them bigger)
Cradle Mt. Tasmania

We belonged to a big group that went on a wine tour every year to different wine regions all over Australia. Helen and Paul also came on many wine tours with us.
Paul wine tasting

When we retired we went further afield and toured overseas together. Paul took us to Scotland, the land of his ancestors. Then we cruised down the canals from Amsterdam to Budapest. After that Bill showed his homeland, Switzerland, to Helen and Paul. We all had a wonderful time away together. In fact it is our favourite trip of all.
Travelling together in Europe

Not long after this we formed our Birthday Bear Group. A few us from school, who had all retired decided to celebrate our birthdays together so that we would keep in touch. Instead of giving presents each time we pass on the Birthday Bear, dressed differently each time to reflect the personality of the recipient.  Paul and Helen were part of this group and Paul really enjoyed getting his Birthday Bear each year. In fact he was the first to receive the bear and he loved it so much that he kept it and Helen had to organise another bear for us to pass around.
Bowling Bear
Reading Bear
Walking the Dog Bear
Crocodile Dundee Fighting Bear
Paul was an inspiration. It didn't matter how much pain he was in, how much the treatment affected him or how tired he felt, he would always make the effort to come to our Birthday Bear dinners. Paul had Mesothelioma an asbestos related cancer.  Life expectancy ranges from 4 to 14 months generally but Paul fought this horrendous illness for nearly six years. He suffered a lot of pain, operations, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and experimental vaccination therapy. But he had some good days as you can see.

He even managed to come away with us on Birthday Bear trips too.

Unfortunately, over the last year, the aggressive disease invaded more parts of his body especially his bones. We saw him deteriorate more each month but he still tried to be cheery until the last few months when his quality of life was very poor. He finally said, "I'm ready to go." It is so heartbreaking to see this lovely man, who was such a gentleman, be dealt such a blow.

We attended his funeral yesterday. There were many, many friends and relatives present including his sister, his sons, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Friends and relatives packed the chapel and spilled outside.
Paul's favourite Fishing Bear was there to see him off.
Bear and many others were wearing the blue ADSS ribbon of the Asbestosis Disease Support Society, a volunteer society that supported Paul and Helen throughout his illness. We encourage you to donate to this group if you ever have the chance. 

After the service we were invited for refreshments at Paul's Bowling Club. It was nice to remember all the good times we had with Paul. There was a video celebrating his life and showing what a great family man he was.
Sharing stories
Paul's sister, Joan and wife Helen put on brave faces.
My BFF (My best friend forever)
My dear friend, Helen has endured the last six years with amazing strength. It has been so hard for her and she has more hard times ahead. I hope I can help ease her pain by just being there for her. 

Love you Helen.
Vale Paul. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016


During the weekend we spent in the Blue Mountains our young ones took us to the Everglades Garden to see the autumn leaves, which we don't see at home.
In 1932, Belgian born Henri Van de Velda bought a section of bush in Leura overlooking the mountains. He employed the Danish born landscaper, Paul Sorensen to create a garden for his proposed weekender. Over four years he created a terraced paradise uniting romantic European style with the raw magic of the Australian bush. Sorensen worked on the Everglades until Van de Velda's death in 1947. The National Trust take care of it now.
 There are thirteen acres of gardens with stunning views.

 Van de Velda's weekend house was a mini mansion. It had a coffee shop inside.

 Guess who found it? The views of the gardens from every room were beautiful.

 The house was in the Art Deco style.

The view from the above window.

 We descended from the terrace gardens into the glades. At last I was surrounded by the most beautiful display of autumn leaves.

 This is my favourite photo.

There was a little stream and waterfall running through the glades.

Waited forever for the tourists to move but they didn't so they are included as a point of interest.

 As you can see I couldn't get enough of the coloured leaves. 

We must do this again next year maybe in Spring too.

Friday, April 22, 2016


While we were in the Blue Mountains we visited Leuralla , a heritage listed location. There is a beautiful old house set in 12 acres of gardens. Within the house is a collection of historical toys and outside there is railway memorabilia.
The art deco mansion was built in 1912 for a wealthy yachtsman, sportsman and big game fisherman, Harry Andreas. Today, Andreas's grandson Clive Evatt Jnr, own the home and the world class collection of toys and model railways.

Besides it being a toy and train museum it is also a memorial to Dr HV Evatt (the owners uncle). Dr Evatt was a famous Australian. He was a high court judge, Attorney General, President of the United Nations and Leader of the Australian Labor Party.
 The 12 acres of gardens were lovely to stroll around.

In the gardens we came across some interesting railway items, like old railway station signs and waiting rooms.

Not everybody has a steam engine in their garden. I was taken back on a nostalgic trip when I saw the yellow station boards telling you what platform and where the train was going. I used them all the time in my youth when I lived in Sydney. It was an interesting house and museum.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


We were invited to spend the weekend in The Blue Mountains with our daughter, Carol and SIL, David. They enjoy visiting there often. The Blue Mts are a few hours drive west of Sydney. So we flew down on Friday and the young ones picked us up at the airport and off we went to Leura, a nice mountain village. They had booked a "country cottage''. I forgot to take a shot of the cottage until leaving on the last day when it was cold and foggy. I was in a hurry and shook the camera.

When we arrived we had lunch in town and bought some groceries and then moved in. I couldn't wait to go in the back garden to take pics of the coloured leaves. We don't get them in sub tropical Brisbane. So it is quite a novelty for us.

Further down the garden was a cute shed which the young ones said would make a good studio either for his composing or her painting. They love the mountains and would love to live here but the commute to work for Carol would be over two hours.

 I saw a bird amongst the colour but I have no idea what type it is.

It was a nice garden.

 The weather was beautiful for the first few days and only a little wet and cold on the last day.

 In the evenings it got a bit cold and we had a fire, another novelty for us.