Tag Archives: fire brigade

Sunset Through the Wires…the Aussie Fires.

Last night, I took a series of photos of the sunset through the overhead wires from our driveway. We don’t have any local fires blazing and yet the smoke is very thick and ominous.

Naturally, I was annoyed these wires were in the way. Wanted a clear view of the blazing sun glowing like melting cheese just above the horizon. However, as I peered through the lens, I thought the wires told a suburban story. I also remember how my childhood piano teacher who went on to get her PhD in Creative Writing told me how she used to see the five parallel wires of the overhead wires resembling the musical staff and the birds were the notes and she used to try and work out what tune they were playing.

So, there you have it. My blazing sun seemingly shooting across the musical staff playing a tune of its own.

Sunset Through the Wires 3

Meanwhile, I am contained in the lounge room with the air-conditioning on which is filtering the air. I went out into the kitchen and made a couple of pancakes and was almost a hospital job. Our son arrived home from school and said the smoke was so bad that you couldn’t smell people smoking outside. That’s a pretty good indication of how bad it is.

DSC_7085.JPG

A broader perspective of the sunset  through the wires and over the roof top. 

Please keep us in your prayers. We have the television updates running and it’s just terrible hearing about the destruction and loss of bush land and homes. I am equally conscious that the burning of our bush is killing animals and their habitat and not something to be glossed over either.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Fire North Sydney… Grandma Johnston Linked to the Mosman Bombing Case.

                  All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
William Shakespeare – From As You Like It (spoken by Jaques)
 

Here in Australia, we have an online repository of old newspapers and publications online, known as Trove. Trove is a researcher’s treasure chest, because you can enter in a name and all sorts rises to the surface, and for better or worse, it’s left many of my hapless ancestors’ lives exposed. Not completely, because you usually only find snippets here and there, unless they were somehow impacted by crime, divorced or were wonderfully famous or notorious.

That’s how I came across this little snippet about my 3x Great Grandmother, Maria Bridget Johnston (Flanagan). Maria ended up in the newspapers after her home was set alight in an act of violence inspired by the recent Mosman Bombing Case. Bad luck for her, ironically it was good luck for me, as this incident shed just a little ray of light on her life, and who she was. It was much appreciated because she’s been a difficult nut to crack. Indeed, she’s one of those ancestors you want to bring back from the dead to give them a thorough interrogation. Fill in the gaps.

Maria Bridget Johnston (Flanagan)

For starters I’m not even sure that Flanagan was her last name, or the name of her late husband. She was apparently a widow when she married my 3rd Great Grandfather, Alexander John Johnston, who seemed to swap his names around whenever he felt like it. I only found out a few years ago, that he was a bigamist and had previously married Ellen Jones in Liverpool, England in 1855 and had a whole different family we knew nothing about living not far away in Dunedin, New Zealand at the time. By the way, once they arrived in Australia, he reverted back to the name of his birth…John Alexander Johnston.

Anyway, according to her death certificate, Maria was born around 1841 in County Clare, Ireland to father Martin Flanagan, and arrived in Victoria around 1858 where she allegedly married Flanagan, who passed away. Next, she turns up in Invercargill on New Zealand’s South Island, where she married my 3 x Great Grandfather, John Johnston, a Publican originally from Islay in the Hebrides,  and the son of a Whiskey Distiller. The Johnstons and their five children moved to Australia around 1879, and turned up next in Queanbeyan where John Johnston was the Publican of the Union Hotel while his brother, Alexander built the Goulburn to Queanbeyan Railway, and  went on to become the Contractor for the Cammeray Suspension Bridge, which is colloquially known as “Northbridge”. However, by the time the bridge was completed in 1892, the North Shore Land and Investment Company which had hired Alexander, went bust, leaving him unpaid and in possession of the bridge on the road to nowhere. Northbridge was bush.

John Johnston died in 1897 and he was buried out at Rookwood Cemetery with his sister, Elizabeth White. That was the end of his colourful story. 

However, as I said, Maria made a sudden appearance in the Sydney newspaper in 1907 after it was deliberately set alight. Just to liven the story up a little further, apparently this darstardly act which was committed during the night while the three occupants were asleep, was inspired by the recent Mosman Bombing Case. I’d never heard of that before, and my interest was seriously piqued. Clearly, this was a story which warranted further investigation.

The Fire

On the 12th January, 1907 vagrant Charles McCallum set fire to Maria’s home on Boulevard Street, North Sydney (now Cammeray). At the time, Maria and her daughter, Mary Ann Wilson, along with a  third person which could well have been granddaughter, Ivy WIlson, were asleep when a shirt doused in kerosene was shoved under the floorboards of the house, and set alight.

Map of The Boulevarde, Cammeray NSW 2062
Map of Cammeray and Northbridge showing Boulevard Street in red highlight.

While I haven’t yet managed to pinpoint the location of her house exactly, it was close to the Suspension Bridge (above) and the area was pretty much all bush, and very similar to the photo taken above.

By the way, the proximity of her house to the Suspension Bridge was no coincidence. Her brother-in-law, Alexander Johnston, was the Contractor for building the bridge, and after the land speculators who hired him went broke, Alexander ended up owning the bridge, and a toll was charged to pedestrians to try to recoup some of the costs. So, it’s quite possible that Alexander had provided the house, and I need to investigate this further.

Of course, you’d expect such a dramatic story to have been passed down through the family. However, the first I heard of it, was more than one hundred years later, while trawling through old newspapers online. So, now I’m now finding myself reassembling the pieces of what was, dare I say, an explosive story.

The Cammeray Suspension Bridge close to the time of the fire.

By the way, the Suspension Bridge is a story in its own right, but that’s going to take a lot of work and will have to wait.

Atlas Suburbs of Sydney 1893-94
Map of North Sydney taken from the Atlas of Sydney Suburbs Published 1893-94. The Suspension Bridge is marked on the map with a red dotted line which is just under the H of Willoughby. Maria Bridget Johnston lived in The Boulevard, just to the right of the bridge. You can also see that the land on the other side of the bridge was completely undeveloped at the time. 

Meanwhile, let’s return to the case at hand – where, on the 12th January, 1907, Charles McCallum (77) set fire to the dwelling house of Maria Johnston at Boulevard Street, North Sydney.

Charles McCallum Sets Fire to Maria Johnston’s Dwelling House.

On the 12th January, 1907 Charles McCallum (77) set fire to the weatherboard dwelling house of Maria Johnston at Boulevard Street, North Sydney. At the time her daughter, Mary Ann Wilson was living with her and one other, possibly grand-daughter, Ivy Wilson.

McCallum, who came from Glasgow, had been living in a nearby camp for about 11 years and worked for several local residents as a gardener. He also used to visit locals, read the paper to them and discussed current affairs. While he was described as living in a cave, he is also described as living in a tent where he had a table with four kerosene tins, which were used to make the legs, and also provided storage. The kerosene tins were important in the case, as McCallum pleaded not guilty and Police had to build their case, which was reported in detail in the paper.

The evidence against McCallum went that Police went to Mrs Johnston’s house near the Suspension Bridge:

“The building was a wooden one, and under the floor of the front part of it he found a piece of bagging, a piece of wood, pieces of a pyjama coat, portion of a white shirt, and some handkerchiefs, oil partly burnt, and saturated with kerosene. The weatherboards and lining-boards near the window were burnt, also the blind and curtain. He examined the articles found, and on the piece of white shirt, he saw the name “H. Irving-near the neck. Witness then went to M’Callum’s camp, which was under a rock about 266ds. from the house. He saw accused in bed, and asked him if H. Irving was camped there. He said, “No: he never camped here. He used to live at Redfern, and has been dead four or five mouths.” Witness said, “Did he ever give you any clothing?” and accused replied, “All he ever gave me was two white shirts.” Witness asked accused how did he know the shirts were Irving’s. Accused said, “They had his name on them.” Accused also said that the shirts had been worn out and destroyed long ago. Witness picked up a billy-can and a bag in the camp, and both smelt of kerosene. Accused said they were his, but did not understand how the kerosene got on them, as he never used it. Witness also found a white shirt with “H. Irving” marked on the neck of it, and a handkerchief, both corresponding with the articles found under the house. He picked up a pair of pyjama trousers in a corner, which accused said were his, and had been given to him by Mr. Ricardi. He said the coat had been worn out and destroyed. The pattern and material of these were the same as in the coat. When charged at the police station, accused said he knew nothing at all about the matter, and it was a mystery to him. When witness got to the camp there was another man there, named Henry Rowley. Accused answered ail questions freely. Maria Johnston deposed that she had known accused for nine or 10 years. He had been in the habit of coming to her house every evening, unless it was wet. One night, they had been talking about the bomb sensation at Mosman, and accused said, “There are three or four I would like to do the same to!” He was at her house on the night of the fire, and left about twenty minutes to 10. Since the election he had been talking queerly. Witness went to bed on the night of the fire at 11 o’clock. She woke up at 1 o’clock in the morning, and noticed a lot of smoke. Her daughter pulled her out of bed, and witness saw the fire going up the front window. Afterwards she saw the articles produced lying under the house. She did not see them there before. Witness had trouble with accused about eight years ago. Accused reserved his defence, and was committed for trial[2].”

Ultimately, McCallum was found not guilty and released.

This brings me to the Mosman Bombing Case.

The Mosman Bombing Case.

On January 3, 1907 William Bingham, aged 56, occupation Gardener, placed explosives under the house belonging to former employers, Ernest George Alfred Rich, Manager of the Haymarket Branch of the City Bank, and his wife, Mary in Clanalpine Street, Mosman.

Bingham had packed the explosives in a paint tin, which he’d left it in a bag under their house. He had been working for the Rich’s for about five years, but had been fired just before Christmas for misbehaviour. It was noted during his trial, that his actions had led to a similar case in North Sydney (the fire at Maria Johnston’s house). Consequently, he was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment, with hard labor, in Goulburn Gaol.

Map of Clanalpine St, Mosman NSW 2088
Map shows the location of Clanalpine Street Mosman location of the Masman Bombing Case.

Fortunately, Ernest Rich had found the explosives before any harm had been done.

West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954), Friday 18 January 1907, page 5


THE ATTEMPTED BOMB. OUTRAGE. -4-WILLIAM BINGHAM ON TRIAL. SOME STARTLING EVIDENCE. Sydney, January 17. 0

Some startling evidence bearing on the attempted bomb outrage at Mosman was given at the North Sydney Police Court to-day, when William Bingham, aged 56 years, a gardener, was charged with having, on the 4th inst., placed against a building 1 lb. of blasting powder. six plugs of gelignite, and five plugs of dynamite, with intent to do bodily injury to Ernest George Alfred Rich, Mary Henrietta Rich, and others. Senior-Sergeant Gormly said: “When I charged Bingham. on the 9th inst. he replied that the last time he was at Rich’s place was a long time ago, and not since Rich had threatened to shoot him with a revolver. When I charged him he said it was a made-up charge of Mrs. Rich to get him into trouble. In the room at Neutral Bay where Bingham was living I found a new revolver, loaded in five chambers, four detonators, and a cardboard box containing 21ft. of fuse. Bingham said that the revolver was his, but denied all know ledge of the detonators and fuse.” Ernest George Alfred Rich manager of the Haymarket branch of the City Bank. who found the explosive in a sugar-bag under his verandah, said: “Bingham used to be employed at odd jobs in the garden and about the house. As he became very insolent to my wife I ceased to employ him.

Bingham, on one or two occasions, called at my office and used threatening language. He also wrote insulting end unpleasant letters to me.” Abraham Brindley’ employed at the Botanical Gardens, Sydney, said: “I met Bingham in December last. He told me he had to leave his employment on account of his eye sight. He also said that Mrs. Rich had bewitched him. Bingham had in his hand a brown-paper parcel, and said: ‘I have enough stuff here to blow her to -.’ I told him not to be foolish, to which he said: ‘Ill do it and then commit suicide.”‘ Charles Barry, a fisherman, of Neutral Bay, said: “I had a conversation, with Bingham, who asked me if powder would fire off dynamite to which I re plied: ‘No, I don’t think so. What are you going to do with it?’ Bingham said that he had a bit of a job to do. I told him how to prepare the dynamite in order to cause an explosion. Bing ham then said: ‘That will do the job all right.’ ” Carl H. Taussing said: ‘Bingham told me he had been wrongly discharged by Rich, and “he displayed resentment. against Mrs. Rich.” John Weigall said: “I was, working for Rich at Mosman, where I saw Bingham, who had a sharp knife, which he flourished about, and on two or three occasions said he would rip up Mrs. Rich, of whom he appeared to have a great hatred. 1 told Rich, that he had a very dangerous man to deal with.” Bingham: You’ve told the ___lie you ever told in your life. The Magistrate: You must not speak like that. Have you anything to ask the witness? Bingham: All I have to say is that what Weigall has said is a – lie. Bingham was committed for trial. Bail was refused.

A report in the Daily Telegraph dated Friday 15 March, 1907, provides additional details:

“Mr. Pollock, Crown Prosecutor, in opening the case to the Jury, said the charge against Bingham was that he placed explosives in a dwelling-house, with intent to injure the occupants. If the tin containing them had been knocked there would have been a terrific explosion. Certainly great destruction of property would have resulted, if not loss of life. Bingham had worked for Mr. Rich, of Mosman Bay, for a number of years, but five weeks before Christmas he was discharged for misbehaviour. Previously he had been abusive to Mrs. Rich, who was threatened by him, and she complained to the Police. On January 4 last Mr. Rich, on leaving his premises, saw a bag under the house. He took no further notice of it, but on returning at night his daughter drew his attention to the bag again, and he found it contained a paint tin, which contained several detonators. He removed the tin from the bag to a safe distance from the house, and then with a pair of pincers removed the lid. The tin contained a pound of blasting powder, some sticks of dynamite, and a quantity of gelignite. On January 9, the police arrested Bingham at Neutral Bay, where he was working. Bingham wanted to go into his room, and made a rush to get there. He was forcibly prevented from doing so, and an examination of the room disclosed a revolver, some cartridges, and a length of fuse. Bingham denied all knowledge of the fuse. He complained that Mrs. Rich had threatened to shoot him, and was a dead shot with the rifle. When dismissed, Bingham told an acquaintance that Mrs. Rich had behaved shamefully, and he would do for her. In his defence, Bingham made a statement. He said that he had been persecuted by the police, he admitted that he had been abusive to Mrs. Rich, because he had been drinking. He apologised, and with regard to a threat be only said. “This is my last appeal.” He did not place the dynamite under the house. He had an enemy somewhere. He would like to know who he was. He knew that he made noises when drunk, but he did not put that thing under the house. He was not made of that kind of stuff. The jury, after a retirement of some hours, found Bingham guilty, with a strong recommendation to mercy on the ground that at the time of the offence he was not responsible for his action. Asked if he had anything to say why sentence should not be passed upon him. Bingham said, “I’m innocent. I never put it there. I never saw a stick of dynamite in my life.” Only one offence, a minor one, under the Vagrancy Act, was recorded against the prisoner. His Honor said the crime was a stupid one. The term of imprisonment might be a very long one, and he would have imposed it if the prisoner’s character had not been such as it was, and if he had not been assisted by the jury’s recommendation. In the circumstances, he would not pass a heavy sentence, but be hoped the one he would impose would prevent him from attempting to revenge himself for some fancied wrong. He hoped, too, it would act as deterrent to others. After the outrage someone had attempted a somewhat similar one at North Sydney by setting fire to a house. Bingham was then sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment, with hard labor, in Goulburn Gaol. The prisoner, as he was removed, said, “You have sentenced an innocent man.[3]

…..

Reflecting on these happenings just over 110 years into the future, I’m very grateful, indeed, ecstatic to find these details about my Grandmother’s Great Grandmother. They were an absolute surprise, and in so many ways a gift and yet also a reward for many, many years of searching, without knowing what I might find at the end of the proverbial rainbow.  

While I don’t believe I have a photo of her, and have no idea what she looked like, finding these snippets in the paper has, at least, composed something of a sketch of the world around her, and taken me back to where she lived. It’s been a beautiful thing to be able to recompose these elements of her life, over 100 years later. That is something I will cherish, not only as an echo from the past, but also because she is a part of me, and my children, who’ll also be taking her journey forward.

She lives is in us.

Do you have any memories of the Northbridge or Cammeray area, especially the Suspension Bridge? If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Best wishes,

Rowena Curtin

[1] http://www.willoughbydhs.org.au/History/Suburbs/Suburbs-Northbridge.html

2. Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW : 1883 – 1923), Tuesday 22 January 1907, page 10

[3] Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW : 1883 – 1923), Friday 15 March 1907, page 10

An Australian Christmas, Pearl Beach, New South Wales.

An Australian Christmas, Pearl Beach, New South Wales 2006.

Bush fires are as much a part of Australian summers as going to the beach. With the local bush fire brigade being so critical and an integral part of the community, you often see Santa attending his pre-Christmas engagements on  the local fire truck. Santa used to turn up on this gorgeous vintage fire truck at the Pearl Beach Playgroup every year until is was very sadly sold. Santa has had to update his transport.

Wishing you and yours a loving and peace-filled Christmas and may that continue through the New Year!

Love & God Bless,

Rowena, Geoff, Mister, Miss, Bilbo and Lady xxoo

 

The Niceometer.

It’s time we bring back the niceometer and value niceness, instead of celebrating the very worst of human behaviour!

For some reason, being “nice” is now perceived as some kind of put down. Used to refer to someone who boring, bland or insipid, it’s used as a derogatory term – instead of something to be revered.

I say we need to bring back “nice”. Resurrect it from the dead and all nice people should sport their niceness with pride.

Nice needs to come out of the closet and strut its stuff.

I know being nice probably sounds very Brady Bunch but what’s so wrong with caring about your fellow human being and developing a bit of character? Shouldn’t we be encouraging giving instead of taking? Building community?

I was reminded again about the importance of supposedly old-fashioned niceness on Friday when we attended the finale of Fill the Boot, a fundraiser run by the Fire Brigade to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation. We were there because my auto-immune disease is a neuro-muscular condition and I am a member of Muscular Dystrophy NSW. To read all about Fill the Boot, you can read my previous post and click here for the official web site: http://www.filltheboot.com.au/

We had such a fabulous day and experienced the very best of human nice and kindness that I had to share it. Here are a few vignettes from our Fill the Boot Day, which might just restore your faith in human kindness. I’ve listed them in chronological order as the day unfolded.

Some firies at the North Sydney Olympic Pool

Firstly, there was the fundraising by the firies. Firies are wonderful people who put their lives on the line everyday to save others. Yet, they found the time and energy to get out there and raise money for us and I really appreciate it! They managed to raise $100,000.00 for the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation. Yippee! That’s a lot of chocolate… oops! I mean research!

The kids with Luke.

Secondly, we not only met Luke Jacobz, Host of the x Factor, he actually spent time with us – real time. I have to laugh because when I first met him, he was wearing an Olympic gold medal around his neck and I thought he was one the athletes. Go Ro! I have watched the x Factor but I don’t watch a lot of TV and I’m certainly no celebrity chaser. I honestly didn’t recognise him.

Luke was genuinely very, very nice and one of those rare people who are very attentive and really listen to you. Mister and Luke had some very long discussions about something although none of us can quite remember what they talked about. I do remember Miss talking to him about her tooth falling out and how she’d found fairy dust on her hands the next morning along with a $5.00 note from the tooth fairy. As I said, Luke was very attentive and asked her questions and took a real, genuine interest. He wasn’t looking over his shoulder for someone more interesting to chat with. The kids really appreciated this. Not because he is the host of the X Factor but because he helped them feel special, loved and treasured. They were glowing. It really touched me to see them so happy. We have had some very tough times and it meant the world for me to see them smile and have so many deep belly laughs.

Kags & Mister

Kags from MDNSW also did a pretty good job at making the kids laugh and feel special too. I’ve been asked when they’re going to see Kags again.

Kags & Miss at the lunch.

The kids with Kate, Luke and the gold medal.

Thirdly, Cate Campbell shared her precious Olympic Gold Medal (or “mettal” as Miss called it) with us. It was only when I arrived home and was talking to my husband, Geoff, that the enormity of that hit me. The kids were able to wear the medal round their necks. When I was a kid, I wasn’t even allowed to touch Dad’s good crystal wine glasses. They were very, very precious. Yet, Cate trusted my kids, complete strangers, with her very precious, irreplaceable Olympic gold medal. This wasn’t just some plastic replica you find at the $2.00 shop. It was the real thing. That was very, very nice!

Miss with the gold medal.

Cate also spent time with us and I must say I enjoyed watching her swim. She took freestyle to a whole new level and had something like the grace of a swan. Needless to say, it was quite a different experience to what I’m used to at swimming lessons!

Fourthly, a fireman drove my car across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and into the Sydney Fire Station. I always feel a bit silly about my nervous driving even though I am spatially challenged. However, I was able to voice my concerns to MDNSW who sent Kags along as navigator. But then a fireman offered his services so how could I resist?  I decided that driving home across the Harbour Bridge would be a better time to extend my driving prowess. As it was, because the fireman was driving, we ended up at the tail end of the street parade featuring the beautiful historic fire engine. It was quite exciting being part of the action.

The Kids with Blazer.

Fifthly, the firies gave the kids caps and toys. This might not sound like much but it meant the world to the kids. Mister was given a cap from the Sydney Fire Station, which is almost glued on his head. He loves it!! He even took it to bed with him. He was also given a patch from the Northern Territory. Miss was given a cap from the Tasmanian Fire Service, which was very special because Geoff comes from Tasmania. A firey from  Brisbane’s Roma Street Fire Station gave each of the kids a fire fighting koala bear called Blazer. They love him. We have also been invited into the Roma Street Fire Station when we’re in Brisbane next and hope to get there in January. There were other gifts, I’m sure. The kids were spoilt!

I always appreciate that whenever I go to functions organised by Muscular Dystrophy, that I feel so loved, valued and accepted. I always feel like I’m floating along in a wonderful love bubble. This isn’t because people feel sorry for me or pity me but they do acknowledge what we are going through. I have found everybody I meet there truly inspirational and so encouraging. Pretty much most of us are living life to the max…our max anyway. I often find that when people are challenged by adversity they can actually achieve the most amazing things. People find strength seemingly out of nowhere and it’s just amazing and seemingly quite illogical

It’s now Monday night and that fire brigade cap is still glued to Mister’s head..

This morning when I dropped the kids at school, one of them piped up in the car and said: “we are the luckiest kids in the whole wide world.” That’s what being nice does. It builds people up. Helps them feel good and makes the world a better place.

In a world where being known as a “hater” in some circles is cool, I’d much rather be “nice”.

Wouldn’t you?!!

If you enjoyed this post, I recommend reading my previous post The Love of A Stranger.

Love & best wishes,

Rowena

Fill the Boot- Fire Brigade Raises Funds for Muscular Dystrophy

If you asked me how things are going, I would reply “unbelievably good”. After such a fabulous day, my feet have barely touched the ground. It was so fantastic on so many fronts that I’m almost stuttering trying to get everything out.

On Friday, the kids and I went to the finale of Fill the Boot, a national fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy run by the fire brigade.  My auto-immune disease is a neuro-muscular condition and we receive support and much encouragement from Muscular Dystrophy NSW.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge and the big boot.

The kids and I headed off to North Sydney Olympic Pool. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what was happening. I was mainly interested in the next part of the day… having lunch and a tour of the Sydney Fire Station, Australia’s oldest fire station. I have loved fire engines ever since I was a kid when my brother and I wandered out of our grandparents’ home to visit the local fire station around the block.

However, the action at the pool exceeded my expectations. You see, the event was hosted by Luke Jacobz, Host of the x Factor. Now, I’m not one of these celebrity worshipping types so going somewhere just because someone famous is turning up, isn’t my scene. However, Luke turned out to be really lovely. We met Luke by the pool and it was all very casual and low key. He was wearing a gold Olympic medal round his neck and me being me, mistook him for an Olympic athlete. Good one Ro!

Miss wins gold!

The gold medal or “mettal” according to Miss, belonged to swimmer Cate Campbell who was a member of the team who won gold in the  4 x 4 100 Metre Women’s Freestyle Relay at the London Olympics. We had the opportunity to meet Cate and the kids were each allowed to wear the medal around their necks, which was such an amazing privilege. The enormity of that only sunk in once we met up with Geoff. Most of us don’t get the chance to even see a real Olympic gold medal let alone touch one. Moreover, when you’re a kid, you’re constantly being told not to touch just about everything, so it was very special they could touch something so precious!! Thank you Cate!

I of course was too busy photographing the medal to wear it myself but it was amazing.

The kids had a ball!  Kags from Muscular Dystrophy NSW was playing with them giving them piggybacks and spinning them around and they also spent quite a lot of time with Luke Jacobz who heard all about Miss’s tooth falling out and about how she’d even found fairy dust on her fingers. Luke was fabulous with the kids and so genuinely kind and very attentive. He is just one of those fabulous people you enjoy being around. I couldn’t resist getting my photo taken with him when he had his shirt off. This is what Mum does when she goes to Sydney!

I have the x Factor!

The relay was fun. The firies, Luke and Cate raced in the pool with the boot on a surfboard. You know, Luke almost kept up with Cate but something tells me that she might have been taking things a little slower than usual.

The boot.

Cate also did a demonstration swim. That was pretty amazing. I’m not into swimming but her stroke was quite beautiful!

The kids were pretty good but Miss literally had to test the waters. It was a really hot, sunny day and I shouldn’t have been surprised that she ended up in the pool but did she have to immerse herself fully dressed? One minute, she was as pretty as a picture wearing  the beautiful pink dress Grandma had bought her and the next she was literally dripping wet right when we were about to leave for the lunch. I was gobsmacked. I could just see the Fire Commissioner being thrilled about puddles on the floor of his historic Sydney Fire Station. Drip! Drip! Drip!

Fortunately, the dress somehow managed to dry off by the time we arrived.

Speaking of getting to the lunch, I did have grand plans of driving us over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Anyone who has been following my blog, will know that driving isn’t my thing and anyone who knows Sydney, knows that the Sydney Harbour Bridge is the great divide. I’m not the only one who avoids driving over the Bridge.

As it turned out, one of the firemen drove my car in for me. I felt very relieved and the car even ended up at the tail end of the Fill the Boot street parade heading up Bathurst Street. That was awesome. There was the historic fire engine up the front with Luke and Cate on board  followed I think by a few fire engines, a Police car and then us in our blue Pulsar with the fire man at the wheel. It was a hoot!!

Mister wearing his cap.

The kids were given the royal treatment. They were each given fire caps. Mister’s came from the Sydney Fire Station crew and he was given a shoulder patch from the Northern Territory and Miss’s cap came from Tasmania. They were each given a soft toy fire fighting Koala called Blazer from the Roma Street Fire Station in Brisbane. They loved all their gifts! Mister has barely taken the cap off and even took it to bed. It’s almost become grafted to his head.

The kids driving the historic fire engine.

They also spent considerable time “driving” the historic fire engine which was parked out the front at the lunch. They had a ball. A fire engine is always hard to beat.

As the event drew to a close, we were given a personal tour of the fire station and we were even taken upstairs and shown the basketball courts and the gym. The kids wanted to see where the fire man slept but he said his room was a mess.

Lunch over, it was time for my next big driving challenge…taking on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Of course, it was easier driving home and it is a trip I’d done a lot many years ago when I lived in the city. Still, it has been more than ten years since I’ve driven over the Harbour Bridge so I was pretty chuffed.  The kids congratulated me as well!

It was a most perfect day!

Thank you from the very bottom of my heart!

xx Rowena

PS When I was dropping the kids at school today with their fire hats and photos for news, they said “we are the luckiest children in the whole world!” Isn’t that awesome!