Tuesday, September 29


A little success with my writing this week.  I have been writing articles for a website called Weekend Notes for some time - and more so recently.  It is an interesting site where articles feature things to do on a weekend (in theory), though can be done mostly any time or if an event, on the event date.

It has been a bit of fun and I am still learning how to do it all.  There is quite a process to not only submit your article and photos, but several pages to update - tags, maps, details etc. 

I was thrilled to receive and award for an article I wrote about a historical train station.  You can read it here.    

Last week I visited Toowoomba - a city to the west of Brisbane for the famous annual Carnival of Flowers, and visited the little Spring Bluff Station and it was the article and photos that impressed the editor.  Whoo Hoo!

I posted on my FB that I had won the award, and have had some 50 or so comments or likes about my win, which is fun.

It is a pretty spot, especially with all the flowers, on a rail line that is no longer used for passenger trains, other than the tourist trains from Toowoomba each Carnival time.  These days the most frequent train is a coal train, as coal from the many mines west of Toowoomba is transported to the Port of Brisbane, and the empty trains return for more coal.  

And another award is due today as I have completed the monthly target of 10 items.  A lot of work as for the most part you must actually go to the places and take photos while doing research on the place - I tend to write more on historical sites.


Friday, September 25

Weedings in China

Some of my readers will know that I was an English teacher in China - and that I have been back to visit.  Earlier this year I was told that I would be invited to a wedding in 2016, and I thought it would probably be later in the year, but that is not what is going to happen.  The wedding is earlier in the year - February in fact.

However, only a few weeks ago another student contacted me and asked me to attend her "weeding."  This one is in December.  As excited as I have been about the prospect of revisiting China, I have procrastinated until yesterday, when a few ideas entered my head and I decided overnight to book and go to China.

I have booked into a hotel - Hangzhou Bokai Westlake Hotel which is not far from the famous Westlake and other places that I would like to visit, but have not yet seen.  The "weeding", er, wedding is at a hotel in Hangzhou too, so I may not have far to go to the wedding, not that it bothers me as it certainly is not far away.

I will probably fly Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong - maybe a night or two there.  Don't know yet, but at least I know where I can stay when I get to Hangzhou.

This is the December bride.  I am not sure what the wedding arrangements are - and I am doing some research about what to do, to take, etc.  There is some information here but it doesn't help me a lot and more here.

I am certainly looking forward to it - but I have a few things to do first. I must get my passport up-to-date, and then apply for a Chinese Visa.  I have not yet booked my air fare - will do that shortly too.  

It will be winter too - so clothing will be an issue for me.  Darn, I hate the cold!!!

Tuesday, September 22

Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers

This Carnival has been held every year since 1949 - and my first visit was this year - September 2015.  It is another item to cross off my "Bucket List" - and I am happy to do so.

There is no real explanation for me not going - other than the fact that I suspected it would be very crowded and I avoid crowds, but a trip to Toowoomba and the Festival was part of a Gathering for 5W - Women Welcome Women World Wide - and I booked to go on it a long time ago.

It did require me to go to Brisbane on Sunday night and stay with my daughter overnight as I needed to be in the city by 7.15 am - and rather than make the long trip early in the morning, it was easier to leave from her place.

The group met at the Ibis Hotel in Brisbane, where some of the 5W people were staying and we quickly boarded the bus at 7.45 am and set off to Toowoomba.  We sent a proposed itinerary, but I didn't read it.  I was just so happy to go, that the detail was unimportant.

Toowoomba is 125 kms from Brisbane and the bus took a familiar route as I have been to T'ba on many occasions, but this time, before reaching the town of Withcott, we detoured via the Murphy's Creek Road to the Spring Bluff Station.   Read the history of the station here.

As part of the Carnival there were flowers everywhere.  Below are some of my photos.

It was wonderful.  While were were there, a coal train came through - having emptied its load at the Port of Brisbane, and on its way back for more at one of the mines to the west of Toowoomba and then a passenger train from Toowoomba arrived.

Back on the bus after a very short walk around, we headed for a private home at Highfields, after travelling through Murphy's Creek.

The garden was awesome.  Here are some photos.

After that we went to one of the parks, where there were many more gardens with fantastic flowers.  

Our next stop was Picnic Point for lunch which was wonderful.  Amazing service there - and great views!!!!  Our next stop was another park, and then as a surprise we went to a Japanese Garden!  
As we headed down the back to Brisbane we were told that there was a surprise visit for us - a visit to an olive farm, and I will report on those at another time.

Sunday, September 20

The Sound of Music

Yesterday as I was driving back to Beachmere from Brisbane, I turned on to my favourite radio station and was just in time to hear parts of the last performance of the ABC Proms in London.  I felt so pleased with myself that I had switched on just as it started and the last song, the National Anthem played as I drove down my street.  A wonderful wy to spend the journey from the city.

One of the feature programs was of  "The Sound of Music" and I sang along with the performance.  Who doesn't know most of the songs from that amazing film?

I was to learn that it was 50 years since "The Sound of Music" was made.  I don't know how many times I have watched it, and played the music, or heard it performed on radio or television.  So many.

We so love Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer and, of course, the children who danced and sang their way into our hearts.

It is interesting to read about the history of the show on Wikipedia, especially the negative comments by critics.  Read here.

I did not know that an Australian lady had been the conductor of the orchestra.

"Simone Young celebrates over three decades of conducting here and abroad. In this concert, broadcast live from the Melbourne Recital Centre's Elisabeth Murdoch Hall, Young has another chance to give back to her appreciative Australian musical community.
The concert features the Australian National Academy of Music Orchestra and the renowned soprano Emma Matthews. It begins with Australian composer Paul Stanhope's Fantasia on a theme by Vaughan Williams. More information about that work here."  

There's more about the Proms here.
Thanks to modern technology I can listen to it all again.  

Friday, September 18

A Walk with a bit of Spring

My camera was looking at me.  It was in its bag on the floor of the car - now sandy and in need of a vacuum after taking on a passenger a couple of days ago.  My camera wanted to get out, I think, so on the way to get petrol, I deviated and went to the beach.  I did not know if it was high or low tide - that is until I arrived.  It was a rather gloomy day, with the skies dark and warning of a storm on the horizon.  Far away at this point, but the weather bureau had issued warnings.   I was the only person at the beachfront, and I didn't stay long.  The light was not good.  I would check another site to play with my camera.  Though as I left I checked the nests.  Every year a family of tiny birds, some sort of swift I think, nests above the light in the beach shelter.  The nest is there, and I suspect the eggs are too.  I saw the tiny mother (or was it father?) a short distance away, watching me with a little suspicion.  It was not in danger!

A short drive away, and I was on the banks of the Caboolture River.  Sadly it is quite silted at the mouth, but still many boats manage to travel to and from Moreton Bay - no doubt on high tide. There seem to be more boats in the river at the moment, and some are high and dry.

A beautiful bird at the end of the jetty - surveying the scenery!

Boats of all shapes and sizes dotted around the river - there are about six small boats (tenders) along the river bank, high above the tides, and I could hear voices from one of the boats.  Would be a magic place to live.  

Tuesday, September 15

Sunday, September 13

Barrel Racing

Not being a 'horsey" person, other than loving horses (from a distance) I had not idea about barrel racing.  However, I was frequently intrigued by a sign on the Beachmere Road, from time to time.  Just a simple sign with the words "barrel racing" and an arrow pointing along Goong Creek Road, leading to the back of Chelwood Farm.

When I learned that there would be barrel racing this weekend, I phoned to see if I could attend and take some photos.  I was welcome.

I stepped into a world about which I knew nothing.  I have learned that it is mainly a women's sport - I sort of guessed that as though there were a few men on horseback at the event, they were not competing.  I have learned also that it is a great event for which one must train well, have a good horse and be quite athletic!

Little children competed - some with two adults to guide them around the barrels in the junior rounds.

Today I have done a little more research on the sport, and though Wikipedia does not mention its existence in Australia, apparently it is a regular event for women at rodeos etc.

I will go again one day.  Now I know a bit more about it, I find it rather interesting.

Saturday, September 12

Down by the River

I like taking photos of jetties, or similar.  These old and wobbly jetties are on the Caboolture River at Baker's Flat, Beachmere.  At high tide, the water laps under them, but I was there for very low tide today, with the water some distance from the road which runs along parallel to the river at this point.  

The jetties have been there for a long time - and the timber has certainly aged.  I did walk along the last jetty, carefully!

It was overcast - perhaps it will rain soon.

Friday, September 11

Broken Heel - Celebration of Priscilla Queen of the Desert

I remember the movie, Priscilla Queen of the Desert which was filmed around Broken Hill 25 years ago.  I have just learned that this weekend there is a great event in Broken Hill to celebrate the movie  - and it is called Broken Heel - and if you click here you can read about it.

When I was last in Broken Hill (November 2012) I stayed two nights in Broken Hill, and one night at Silverton, the old mining town just out of Broken Hill which was one of the locations for the movie. In fact all around Broken Hill and across to Coober Pedy (which I visited only recently). 

In fact, I have been to several of the locations, as it turns out.   Listed here are the locations for that movie. Here are the locations of the movie Priscilla. 

A dry creek bed at Silverton

The Silverton Hotel
The movie was great and I shall look for it - maybe a friend as the DVD or I will borrow it from the library.  I don't like watching movies on television - and if I do, I set up my data projector and big screen so that I feel like I am watching a movie at the theatre.

So, two Australian movies have featured in my life in the last 24 hours.  One, Last Cab to Darwin, and today it has been Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, or more precisely the celebration of Priscilla that has appeared in my life.  

Australia makes good movies, but we don't get the audience (small population compared to the USA, and the UK,) and these two showcase not only the Aussie humour but the wonderful landscapes in this amazing country.

Last Cab to Darwin

I was so pleased to get to see the movie "Last Cab to Darwin" starring Michael Caton and Jackie Weaver.   I prefer to go to the Twin Theatre at Bribie Island, as it is inexpensive and easy to get to for me.  Plus the staff there are excellent (though the theatre has been sold and the next time I go I will meet the new team members).

There was not a lot of publicity about the movie that I have noticed, but I knew (even the title will give a clue!) that it was an Australian movie and that Michael Caton was the lead actor.  Michael, of course, is a legend in Australia, for his role as Darryl Kerrigan in The Castle.

It is the story of a taxi driver from Broken Hill, who is told that he has a terminal illness and sets out to Darwin to see a doctor who is promoting a machine that, if the law allows, will change the way people can choose to end their lives with dignity. 

He sets out to drive in his taxi - and the events along the way.  I was rather bemused at the way that the drive between Broken Hill and Darwin was discussed.  It is over 3000 and in one part the roads are not sealed, but as someone who has driven much longer distances than that I found it rather amusing.  However, to be fair, I do acknowledge that the thought of driving that distance can be rather overwhelming for some.  My drive around Australia over a 5 month period was a drive of over 30,000 kms!

The opening scenes in the city of Broken Hill were wonderful, with the typical old stone/brick homes that residents and visitors to that city will be familiar with the style of homes.  

In fact, the whole movie was filled with typical Aussie scenery and typical Aussie humour.  The scenery was wonderful - bringing back some great memories for me.  Jackie Weaver as the doctor in Darwin was a surprise for me - as until the movie started I did not realise that she was in the movie.

You can read a review of the movie here and watch a short trailer.

I don't believe the movie has received the accolades I believe it deserves - perhaps one day it will be as famous as The Castle.

Darwin, NT

I have been to Broken Hill on several occasions, and of course I had spent some time driving on the Stuart Highway - and enjoyed again seeing some of the scenery - and recognised this building in Mitchell St, in the movie.

It was only today that I learned that the movie was based on a true story of a man who in the 1990's drove from Broken Hill to Darwin to explore euthanasia.

Saturday, September 5

National Flag Day at Caboolture

Today I was honoured to be at the celebration of National Flag Day at the Caboolture Historical Village.  It is an annual event organised by the 11th Light Horse who have a museum within the Village.

It starts with a procession around the village - here are some of the photos.  (I won't load the almost 200 that I took!)

Tuesday, September 1

On the Beach

Beachmere is a magic place in many ways.  One of the special place for me is the beachfront, especially at low tide where the tide goes way out revealing all sorts of patterns on the sand.  It never fails to surprise me how the sea can create these amazing patterns.  The soldier crabs (which were all hiding as I walked this afternoon), also add to the patterns by leaving tiny balls of sand where they have dug down under the sand.  

Also there are areas, often filled with water, where some fish has sloshed around creating a small "lake" which is visible when the tide goes out.  I always hope these are the hiding spots of large fish, perhaps flathead, that one day I might catch!

Also today, something I found very interesting, is mangrove seeds growing in the sand.  While we see that often in some parts, these are growing some distance from other mangroves.  It will be interesting if they survive for the sea is very likely to swirl around and destroy the growing plant.  It will be interesting. There are probably 10 or so in a small area - so it will be something I will monitor.

I didn't stay long on my walk.  I had injured my foot a few days ago, and while I had no major problems as I walked, I could feel that there was still some pain, so I didn't walk for long.  It was a beautiful sight though.