Wednesday, April 30

On This Day in 2013....

I made it safely back to Brisbane, but in reality it was one of the scariest of days.  It was as if the scent of Brisbane had infiltrated my nostrils and I broke some of my own rules.  It was some 800 kms to Brisbane and more than I would normally do in a day.  I was tired but tired of driving and tired of being on my own, and the thought of seeing my family drove me on and on.

I did stop to take the occasional photo - oh, there were so many wonderful sights that I could have and perhaps should have taken the time to do so.

Of course it is all mining territory - and the huge trains full of ore rattle along the tracks beside the roadway headed for Port Alma mostly.  It is a pretty awesome sight, and so is the scenery. And as you can see the skies were brilliant blue - I was so lucky all the time with the weather.

When I arrived at Gympie the sun was almost gone and I had to make a decision - do I find accommodation for the night or do I keep driving?  I was tired, but the appeal of seeing family was too much and against my better judgement I chose to drive on.

As darkness hit I found I was in the midst of roadworks just south of Gympie and for a few moments I almost panicked as I couldn't see where to go.  I do think it was fatigue - but I was committed and kept driving until soon I came accross  places I recognised.  I hadn't driven at night - it was something I chose not to do, other than short drives within towns.  I was well out of my comfort zone and for the first time I was a little scared.

Luckily I was able to gight the fatigue in my usual way, but putting on music that I could sing loudly to.  (Always I can only do this when no one can hear me for I have a voice that should not be heard attempting to sing!!!)

As I drove over the Gateway Bridge (Sir Leo Hielscher Bridge) I could feel my heart pumping faster and I drove along Wynnum Road, to a bottle shop and bought a bottle of bubbles to celebrate.  I had made it.  Home safe.

Old cattle yards

Dululu Hotel

Jambin Hotel

I will remember April 30th - the date of my return from my journey around Australia.  Would I do it again????  Yes, in a heart beat. But with some conditions this time.  I would choose a slight different route - just for variety really and I would hope I had enough money and time to visit some of the special places that I just had to pass up on.  I keep buying tickets, but don't think that will do it  for me.  I guess I can hope and dream.

Tuesday, April 29

Another Reflection on Wars

Though I missed any Anzac events last year, relics and reminders of World War II in particular were not far away.  I was amazed to see the old airfields along the highway between Katherine and Darwin, and stopped at some, especially those that had displays or similar.

It does make one have more understanding of the concerns our government at the time had for Australia and the preparations for the expected big invasion.  I recall being somewhat overwhelmed at Possum Park just out of Miles, in Queensland, where the bunkers for storing munitions were now part of not only reminders, but of a functioning accommodation story.

There are memorials and other reminders in many places around Australia. Anotaher one that impacted on me was the underground hospital at Mt Isa.  I hadn't known it existed until I arrived there, but being a former nurse, I had a special interest in the place.  A museum staffed by volunteers is easy to locate and you can easily find your way along the pathway to the underground hospital, or what remains.    It was carved out of the rock by miners from the nearby mine, and some of the tunnels are accessible, though it was nearly all lost, when there was other construction nearby and some of the tunnels were damaged.  There's not much to see now as most of it has been filled in, but there is enough to get an idea of the enormity of what was going on there.

It is a time of refection to think about what would have happned if the hospital had been needed, but as it turned out, it was not.  

Saturday, April 26

Open Garden at Beachmere

Kerryville is a property on Beachmere Road which has always fascinated me.  From the road you can see that there is garden behind it but the row of palms and other trees across the front hide it all.  Makes in more intriguing really.  When I read that it was part of Open Gardens Australia I made a note to attend, and thus today, I went.  

I chose to ride my bike along the busy Beachmere Road, which has a tiny space for pedestrians or bikes and was glad that I arrived at Kerryville safely.  I parked the bike, paid, and set off with my camera.  I took 56 photos in all - so I won't add them here, but I will give a selection.  Apparently Betty has been part of the Open Gardens scheme for some years and it may be 5 or so years that it has been open for special events.

The property according to all the information was a fish farm when they bought it - a neglected place with many ponds and piles of dirt and weeds and she and her husband (since passed on) put many hours into creating a wonderful place.

(I also learned today that prior to being a fish farm it was a nudist park.  Hence the sign below perhaps?)

There are many ponds on the property and the gardens weave their way around the waterways.  A great number of ducks appear to enjoy the surroundings.

There are so many plants - some natives and some not, scattered through the garden.  Below are just some of the 56 photos I took.

Lone Day Lilly

Dunny near the vegie patch

One lone bamboo stand.
There are more photos of the flowers here.

Last Year - at Barkly Homestead.

I arrived at Barkly Homestead after my short venture into Tennant Creek.  TC was interesting, but not a place I would be keen to return to, though I did enjoy visiting the Telegraph Station.  It ws 24th April - the night before Anzac Day.  I wondered if there would be any event to mark this occasion way out in the midst of Australia, but I could find no information about it.

When I woke in the morning I looked around for some activitity - but it appeared to be none.  Still, if it was any later than dawn I might not have stayed anyway as I had to get to Mt Isa, a distance of some 450 kms and with a few stops along the way.

Thanks to radio I was able to listen to various ceremonies around Australia as I drove.

Tennant Creek Telegraph Station

Barkley Homestead is now a stop in the middle of nowhere - but they do have petrol, food, and accommodation, and I stayed in a little cabin looking out towards the highway which was pretty busy day and night. It is a pretty little spot really.  The caravan park was very busy - in fact most of the accommodation was booked.

The view from my cabin
Australian bush scene

At the Northern Territory - Queensland border.
Back in Queensland after nearly five months.  It was exciting to cross the boder - just a daggy sign, but it didn't matter.  I was back in Queensland - on the home stretch.

Friday, April 25

On Anzac Day

People probably don't now that I am quite an emotional person - you may not see me cry but I do frequently.  Anzac Day is one day that always brings tear to my eyes.  Today I chose to ride my bike to the Beachmere celebration.  As I watched those that were marching the few hundred meters from near the Uniting Church on Moreton Ave, to the memorial area on the corner of Beachmere Road, the tears came fogging up my glasses.  I hadn't seen much more than the police and SES folk manning the roadway.  I could see the military vehicle which was to lead the procession, and the horse.

The horse was a gentle horse that didn't mind posing for photos with children, and stood silently throughout the service, though I noted he "rested" each leg occasionally.

The horse's name is "Tom".

There are a whole range of things that "set me off" crying.  Marching/military music is one - I do love listening to it, and I recall as a Girl Guide how I enjoyed marching to the music.  I do think of the events of all the wars - at the moment I remember that just under 99 years ago, my mother was born.  She will celebrate her 100th birthday the same year that the centenary of Gallipoli is celebrated, should she survive that long.

I also think of my father - who is no longer with us.  Both my parents were in the forces when they met in 1943.  My dad didn't talk much about his army life - except in the very latter years.  His story is rather strange as he was posted to Alice Springs and worked in a camp with the US services.  He tells that he and others were struck with serious dystentary and they were transferred out to a military hospital in Melbourne.  His story is that the food and sewerage were transported on the same truck - food came into the camp and the sewerage shipped out - and if true, it would not be surprising that dysentary resulted.  He was discharged as unfit for service as at that time he had expected to do overseas service.  The next day he re enlisted - but was not permitted to leave Australia.  He was always angry about this.
My father  Colin Watson, is on the far right.  

My mother, Joyce (Ragless) Watson
I came home and baked some Anzac Biscuits and took some into my neighbour.  Here is a story on the history of these biscuits.  History of Anzac Biscuits.

Di’s Recipe

110 gms butter or margarine
1 tablespoon golden syrup
2 tablespoons boiling water 
1 ½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1  ½ cup rolled oats
1 cup of plain flour
1 cup sugar

(the real recipe has coconut in it, but I don't like coconut)

Melt butter and golden syrup in a saucepan on the stove on gentle heat, then add boiling water and bicarbonate of soda.  Pour into mixed dry ingredients and mix well. Put teaspoon of mixture onto greased tray,   Bake in slow oven (150 degrees) for 20 minutes until golden brown.  Store in airtight container when cool.

Thursday, April 24

A Ph.D. at 93 Years of Age.

I read this morning the story of an amazing woman Elisabeth Kirkby - one of the stars of a television series Number 96 which was rather risque for the times.  It was during the 70's and all Australians were glued to their television screens to watch the extra ordinary lives of those who lived at Number 96.

Elisbeth was one of the regulars in the show, and later went on to become a member of parliament. She is now aged 93, and just this week (April 2014) graduated with a Ph.D.  Wow.  Dr Kirkby explains that "if you don't use it you lose it" - a mantra I and others use to explain why when one is retired, or finished work, that they shoudl continue on learning in some way.

I doubt everyone would want to do a Ph.D., but it is on my bucket list.  I found a few minutes of one episode of Number 96 on YouTube, though Elisabeth isn't in the video.  Still you will get some clues about life at Number 96 from it.

Congratulations Dr Elisabeth Kirkby.  What an inspiration.

Wednesday, April 23

Suck and Blow

I have to laugh at what has happened since I have been on my own.  I have had to learn to be quite independant - as there is no many around to help with most tasks.  I do have a wonderful neighbour who does things for me - he mows my front lawn, and he brings in my bin after the garbage collection each Monday, but most things I try to do myself.

There are two areas of my house that have given me some grief.  The front porch tends to fill up with leaf litter, bird's feathers, lawn clippings and other rubbish and I have tried to sweep it away, but it does seem to be a losing battle at time.

In the back I have a lovely outdoor area with glass table, and nice comfy chairs, and this area too seems to be the dumping ground for all sorts of windblown rubbish.

When I saw a special at Harvey Norman in one of their catalogues for a Morrison leaf blower and vacuum machine at a very reasonable price, I thought I would go and have a look at it.  The Morayfield store didn't have one in stock and they ordered one in.  I bought it without looking in the box.

Arriving home I opened the box and was quite surprised - as I put it together I realised that it was much, much bigger than I had imagined.  Far bigger than it looked in the catalogue.

It was with a little trepidation that I powered it up.  Amazingly it is very effective and despite its size and weight it has been quite easy for me to use.  It is heavy - but has wheels.  

It is quite manageable and so effective.  I am most impressed.  I have just found the video - mmmmm, maybe I had better get some protective glasses...

Very impressive and I got it at a brilliant price.

Tuesday, April 22

From Darwin to Kakadu - a Year Ago

The scenery around Australia is awesome - and I so enjoyed taking photographs and I am now enjoying putting some of them in frames and on my wall.  It is just as hard to choose my "favourites" as it is to choose the favourite places of my journey.  There is so many and I am glad I do not have to choose.   As far as my photos go, I can choose to remove them from the frames and replace them - rotate my photos.

I am actually going to try to make my own frames.   We will see about that.  I have the instructions from Bunnings, so will make a trek there tomorrow to sort out the items I will need.

I left Waigat Beach around 9 am and set off - keen to get on the road again.  I had taken many photos of course - and kept on clicking.

Wagait Beach

I had passed a Bamboo Farm on my way into Wagait Beach, so arrived unannounced to see what they had to offer.  I was shown around some of the amazing property and had quite a chat with one of the owners, whose enthusiasm for bamboo is exciting to see.

I have driven along the Cox Pensinsular Road to the Stuart Highway, and then north to the Arnhem Highway which leads to Kakadu. There really is so much to see, and luckily there was scant traffic on the road, which enabled me to drive slower and "take in" the scenery.  I'd stop occasionally, but had a plan so stops were minimal.

I was keen to see crocodiles up close so headed for one of the Crocodile Cruises, and enjoyed a fascinating time on the boat feeding huge crocodiles and later some birds who "peformed" to get a feed.

The cruise was interesting, and I am glad I didn't have to swim!.

Monday, April 21

Have you heard about Neuroplasticity?

Have you?  In the last couple of months I have heard several speakers on this topic - the idea that the brain can be "retaught" - and have done further research on the topic.  I will over the next few weeks introduce you to some new speakers and further information on this topic.

I remember when I was at school there was a perception that, unless you went on to university, that all your learning was over. As it turns out, I have continued to study and even have two university degrees gained in my more mature years.  I do believe that if you don't "use it you will lose it" and that I continue to "do" and "learn" - while many of my contempories find that watching television or playing Bingo is enough for them.  I keep getting invited to join some of them, but I am far too busy to attend some of the events that are seen suitable for "seniors".

In fairly recent years there has been much research done on the brain - and the information about "neuroplasticity" is coming thick and fast in a vareity of media. I am keen to learn more about it - so will continue to "educate" myself on the topic.

Here is a video I have found that might be helpful to readers on explaining what it means.

There are many articles and even sites with exercises for the brain - some of which I have done.  No doubt we will get deluged with information on this topic and more on brain training and brain gym.  One site is Lumosity.

Around Darwin - near Wagait Beach

This time last year I was staying with a friend at Wagait Beach, which is across the water from Darwin.  It is quite a pretty almost rural area, so peaceful.

I went over to Darwin on the ferry on a couple of occasions and had a look around the city and visited the markets.

There is a great difference between high and low tide, so each day the scenery on the waterfront changes.  When there is bad weather the short trip between Wagait Beach and the port area is quite a challenge I am sure - but it is a very long way to drive compared to the short journey across the bay on a boat.

It is a very beautiful part of Australia and I am keen to return again and stay right in the city to get a good look around.  Perhaps a visit mid year would be great as one would escape the heat and humidity that is normal for most of the year.