Tag Archives: Ipswich

I- Ipswich…A-Z Challenge.

Welcome to Day 9 of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge. My theme for 2020 is Places I’ve Been and today we’ll be travelling to Ipswich, Queensland, despite the state currently being in lock-down on account of the Coronavirus.

map of ipswich

Map showing the road route from Brisbane to Ipswich.

Australians will be rather gobsmacked to find Ipswich lined up alongside some of the most spectacularly beautiful cities in the world. Trust me! If I’d been to Ireland or India, Ipswich wouldn’t have made the cut. However, I decided to go with Ipswich to touch on a very important reason many of us travel. That is to see the people we love. Yes, that sense of place can also be about people.

Jonathon & Qantas Pilot

Our son with the Qantas Captain at Brisbane Airport.

So, today we’re going to visit my late grandparents who I always knew as “Mama and Papa Haebich, although since my grandfather lived to the ripe old age of 95, he came to be known as “Papa Bert” to our kids. My grandparents moved to Ipswich in about 1976, when I was seven years old.

Portrait Mama & Papa

My grandparents in front of the piano. My grandmother would cover it in cards and photos for special occasions. I don’t think I ever heard my grandmother play it, although she used to play the organ for church while my grandfather preached.

What I remember most about visiting my grandparents was their incredible, almost giddy love for us, which surpassed all human understanding. Our dogs get uber-excited about going for a walk and they literally quiver with excitement. However, I’m not even sure that comes close to how our grandparents felt about seeing us…especially my grandmother!

main street postcard

A Historic Postcard of Ipswich’s Main Street. 

With us living in Sydney, it was roughly a 1000 km drive to get there and I still remember the first time we drove up there in the family’s EH Holden with the unforgettable number plate “EGO”. My brother and I were sharing the back seat and almost murdering each other before we’d even passed through the toll gates on the Pacific Highway leaving Sydney.  I remember that incredible excited anticipation as we pulled into their street. My grandfather had specially bought brand new numbers for the house so we could find it. They were bright red and still there last time I looked more than 40 years later. They would’ve been keeping an eagle-eye out for our car. As soon as it appeared, they would’ve been down the stairs in a flash making the 1954 Royal tour look relatively sedate. As soon as she saw me, I would’ve been lost inside my grandmother’s arms all snuggled up inside a hug.

cartoon

My grandfather ued to draw us cartoons and post them down to us. This one shows when the infants school choir made a record and my mum was the accompanist. BTW back then I saw known as “Nina”. 

Before we move on from this very first trip to Ipswich, there was something else which also captured our attention. That was the fire engines. Their siren was quite different to what we were used to and the fire station was about a block away. So, the next morning while the big people were still asleep, my brother and I took ourselves on an excursion to the fire station. It was so much fun, and then Dad suddenly appeared out of nowhere. We weren’t really in trouble as such, I suspect because he had a few walkabouts of his own as a kid and he understood the need.

When I was older, I used to catch the McCafferty’s bus up to see my grandparents in my school holidays. Much to my mother’s annoyance, I did a lot of baking while I was there and she was trying to get both my grandmother and I to lose weight. However, she was over 1000 km away, and out of reach. My grandparents especially picked and froze mulberries from their tree, so I could make my not so world famous mulberry pie when I came. Of course, being the forbidden fruit made every scrumptious mouthful so much better. In addition to the cooking, we also used to catch the train into Brisbane to go shopping. I still remember when the then Premier of Queensland, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, introduced these flash new silver, single-storey trains, which my grandparents simply called: “Joh’s trains”. Joh could do no wrong, and was up there alongside the saints, until he slipped up. That was painful!

My grandparents lived in what’s known as a Queenslander house. This is essentially a historic rather ornate timber home, which is built up on pillars to maximize air-flow to cool the place down. This provides a massive and much cooler space under the house, which could provide added living space. However, in my grandparents’ case, it was an Aladdin’s cave of stashed treasures, including a functional laundry copper, which was still there when we sold the house about ten years ago. (I still get sad and have a deep sense of loss about all the stuff that was thrown out!!)

In more recent times, Queensland’s most infamous politician hails from Ipswich. Pauline Hansen famously used to have a fish & chips shop there, and has been canonized for her catch cry: “Please explain.”

Above – The Workshops Rail Museum has a nipper’s playground section for the kids. It’s sensational!!

Meanwhile, the arrival of our son on the scene, brought fresh meaning and a brand new destination on our trips to Ipswich. When he was about 2 years old, we took him to the Workshops Rail Museum for the first time. We’d flown up to Ipswich to celebrate my grandfather’s 70th year of ordination as a Pastor in the Lutheran Church. While mum was busy with preparations back at the house, my Dad and I decided to take Mister for a quick visit to the trains, and we’d planned to return the next day for a longer visit. However, you try explaining that to a two year old who’s just discovered Nirvana?!!! He wouldn’t budge. He threw a whopper of a tantrum, and the guy operating the model train exhibit and was well versed in dealing with disappointed kiddies, kindly turned it off so we could get him out. My Dad pick him up and held him under his arm, kicking and screaming blue murder all the way out to the car . He clearly wasn’t taking “NO!!!” for an answer and after going to a gazillion parenting courses, I knew the only way forward was to wait until Vesuvius subsided and his rational mind started to kicked back in. That was our only hope of ever getting him back into his car seat and buckled in. However, who was I kidding? This toddler couldn’t read, but he’d sure as hell absorbed my favourite motivation quote:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

― Calvin Coolidge

Well, this kid had it covered. He was sitting in the driver’s seat and refusing to move. We rang my mum and warned her we could be back late and that her much beloved grandson was holding things up. Of course, this didn’t go down well. I don’t know how many head honchos from the Church were going to be at the celebration, but mum needed the car to get the cake out there and the stress levels back at the house were also at fever-pitch. I have no idea how we managed to get that car moving.

Papa Bert 70th ordination

My grandfather, Pastor Bert Haebich, at his 70th Ordination in 2007.

However, all’s well that ends well apparently. We all managed to get out there. The afternoon went without a hitch. AND (drum roll) we were all smiles for the cameras. Happy families!

Jonathon teaching Papa Bert to read

As is often the case when grandparents live a distance away, we’ve barely been back since my grandfather passed away in 2009. We’ve visited friends and gone back to the Workshops Museum, but it’s been too long and that’s not going to change for awhile now. I am exceptionally grateful for that and the strict measures the governments have put in place. We’ve had a good reduction in the number of new cases and Australians who are bunkered can actually feel quite safe, and also a huge sense of gratitude to our front line workers who are keeping us alive. Thank you very much!

Amelia & Jonathon piano 2010

Have you ever been to Ipswich? Or, perhaps there’s a place which is made special to you because of the people living there, which you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you. 

Best wishes,

Rowena

Papa & Mama Haebich

 

Postcard from the Workshops Rail Museum, Ipswich, Queensland.

If you haven’t been to the Workshops Rail Museum, then perhaps you’ll have trouble grasping the magic… especially if you’re not a “train person”.

Year after year, we faithfully go back. We can’t stay away…even though we actually live more than 1000 kilometres away! Perhaps, that gives you some idea of just how special this place actually is!

Mister has found a few signs.

2013 Mister has found a few signs.

Whether you are a train person or not, steam trains have a magic appeal. For some strange reason, we still fall in love with that old chugga chugga toot toot and that puff of smoke rising from the boiler. Yet, I still don’t know why they call it the “romance” of steam. There’s actually nothing romantic about the stench of burning coal. Coal dust isn’t very pretty either. It’s actually filthy, stinky stuff which does terrible things to your lungs and the environment.

And always light, aerial, underneath

Goes the elate metre of her wheels.
Steaming through metal landscape on her lines…
Of phosphorus on the tossing hills is white.
Ah, like a comet through flame she moves entranced
Wrapt in her music no bird song, no, nor bough
Breaking with honey buds, shall ever equal.

An excerpt from The Express, by  Stephen Spender

Yet,  our love affair with steam trains lives on.  When any little kid pretends to be a train, they still pretend to be a steam train, not a modern locomotive and the great popularity of the Thomas the Tank Engine series also testifies to the continued popularity of steam.

The train,
A rage of smoke, a laugh of fire,
A lighted anguish of desire,
A dream
Of gold and iron, of sound and flight,
Tumultuous roars across the night.

An excerpt from The Bridge,  John Redwood Anderson.

DSC_5612

But the Workshops Railway Museum isn’t only about steam trains and aside from special days, you can’t actually ride on one. The museum covers the history of Queensland railways from its beginnings to the present and includes a number of diesel and electric engines as well as historic memorabilia.

Image

Image

The Workshops Rail Museum http://www.theworkshops.qm.qld.gov.au/   is located in North Street, North Ipswich and is just 40 minutes by car from the centre of Brisbane and 70 minutes from the Gold Coast. It is open from 9.30AM to 5.00PM daily and is closed Christmas Day, ANZAC Day and Good Friday.

Taken on the Workshop Tour

Taken on the Workshop Tour

The original railway workshops were built at Ipswich in 1864, close to the location of the first railway in Queensland. They soon became overcrowded and between 1884 and1888, new buildings were constructed about 1 km north of the original workshops. In 1900, construction of new railway workshops began on the current site. The original site ceased operation in 1907. In its heyday the workshop employed 3,000 people.

The  Workshops were also an important part of the Australian war effort during WWII, when it employed over 3,000 people on site. Some of the windows are still blackened out to protect these top secret operations.

The museum itself opened in 2002.

Miss checking out Sir Topham Hat

Miss checking out Sir Topham Hat

On this visit, there was a special Thomas the Tank Engine theme for the school holidays. Engines were dressed up as characters from the series and there was story telling with Sir Topham Hat (AKA the Fat Controller) as well as colouring-in and other activities. Our kids had outgrown Thomas this visit but have enjoyed it in the past.

There is a children’s play area at the back of the museum called the Nippers’ Railway. A “Nipper” was the youngest member of a railway gang. The nipper did odd jobs around the camp to help the men who built and maintained the railway line. The Nipper’s Railway has a play train track set up and the kids can sit in a wagon and an adult can push them around the track. There is also a train station, a railway crossing and signals. The kids can ride trikes around the track and wear safety vests and very much look the part of a railway ganger. There seems to be something new every time we visit but I have very fond memories of the kids dressing up as police and fire people. They have always had a wonderful time and it’s also been a chance for Geoff and I to relax while the kids wear themselves out. The Nippers’ Railway is my sentimental favourite.

The kids in the Nippers' Railway 2007

The kids in the Nippers’ Railway 2007

Miss driving in the Nippers' Railway play area in 2007 aged 1.

Miss driving in the Nippers’ Railway play area in 2007 aged 1.

Mister’s favourite is the model trains. He says they are fun to use and likes that “it’s actually about Queensland.” The model train layout is big and impressive. Naturally, it is set in Queensland and includes palm trees and Queenslander houses. Being from NSW, that also makes it more of a novelty.

Model Railway 2007

Model Railway 2007

There are a number of opportunities where you can pretend that you are actually driving the train using computer simulation programs. They are great fun.

Mist3er "driving " a train.

Mister “driving ” a train.

You can also go on guided tours of the operating workshops. There are two different tours available: Blacksmiths Shop Tour where you see a real modern blacksmith at work and the Steam Shop Tour where you’ll see real Queensland Rail workers maintaining and restoring trains from of the Queensland Rail heritage train fleet. You need to wear enclosed footwear on these tours.

Miss driving the train 2013

Miss driving the train 2013

My only reservation about going to the Workshops Railway Museum is allowing  enough time to really experience all the exhibits. If you have read my previous post, you will understand why an hour just isn’t long enough to satisfy a 3 year old boy or any other train enthusiast. There is so much to see and experience, I would strongly recommend going for the day or if you live locally, becoming a member. It is a particularly good way to keep little people happily occupied. We have always loved it!!

Anyway, we had a wonderful time and, of course, we wished you were here LOL!

Best wishes,

Rowena

Time to go home. 2010.

Time to go home… 2010.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blogger’s Block and the Ghost of Steam Engines Past.

Have you ever found that this blogging business is much more difficult than you’d ever imagined?

That when you just want to write a seemingly simple post, for some unknown reason, the words, the thoughts, the structure simply won’t come together?

I’m not talking about writer’s block. It’s not about staring at a blank page or an empty screen. There are words. There are ideas. You’re just not “in the flow”. All those thoughts, words and ideas won’t link up. They’re like random Lego bricks refusing to snap together.

That’s where I’m at.

I just wanted to post a simple postcard from the Workshops Railway Museum in Ipswich and yet it’s not coming together. I’ve been working on this post for a couple of days now and what I thought should have been a pretty basic exercise, has become an epic struggle.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense. Our family has been going to the train museum since 2007 and I thought I knew it pretty well. Moreover, I’m not trying to write anything that fancy…only a simple postcard. It should be Simple Simon… “Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here” and upload a couple of photos.  Yes, I know a blog post has to be a bit better than that but it’s not rocket science.

My problems all began with trying to write about the big, black steam engine out the front. As much as I love it, I couldn’t tell you what type of train it was or anything about its history. I don’t know what it was, how many wheels it has or whether they are big wheels or little wheels and what gauge of track it requires. It is simply the big, black engine. I can just vouch for the colour but if you were to tell me that it is green instead of black, I wouldn’t argue the point. I just remember photographing the kids on it and Geoff discussing its technical specifications (not that I can actually remember any of the details). I love the romance of steam trains and all the history but I am not technical!! I am really not technical.

Slowly but surely, the cause of my writing difficulties was coming to light. I was trying to write in my husband’s voice, instead of my own. You see, he is the train enthusiast, along with our son…not me. I don’t actually know much, if anything, about trains. I was trying to give a technical tour of the museum when clearly I’m not a technical person. I was trying to crawl inside my husband’s shoes, or more pertinently his head and it’s no wonder I couldn’t string everything together. There were too many gaps to fill in. I like trains and I love the train museum but I’m there taking photos and that is my love. I’m not into all that nitty gritty train stuff just like I have no idea what’s under the hood of my car.

So I’m going to give you my very own unique tour of the train museum and that involves a bit of a history of our visits to the museum, which all started off with a bit of a bang when our then 3 year old son threw the tantrum to end all tantrums and almost busted his boiler and mine along with it when we had to leave.

Almost heaven!

Almost heaven!

This is not an uncommon event at the train museum. You could just imagine what that place is to a little kid. They’re in heaven and their mean and nasty Mum or Dad is dragging them away…you’d be complaining too. Fortunately, the museum’s staff are very obliging and will turn things off to help you get out the door.

Captain Newton...the Captain lends Mister his real Qantas Captain's Hat.

Captain Newton…the Captain lends Mister his real Qantas Captain’s Hat.

At Sydney Airport before Take Off

At Sydney Airport before Take Off

We were in Ipswich to attend an official service to celebrate my grandfather’s 70th year of ordination. At 92 years of age, my grandfather was the second longest-serving minister in the Lutheran Church in Australia.  My father and I had a bit of time to fill in and decided to take Mister to the train museum. We were just planning to check it out and come back the next day if it was any good.

Train Driver

Train Driver

Well, Mister was happy beyond his wildest dreams and thought he had died and gone to train heaven!!! You could just imagine his delight when he was surrounded by huge big steam trains. His eyes were almost bursting out of their sockets and I can just imagine how he felt when all those magnificent steam trains suddenly came to life. He was beyond excitement. Moreover, there wasn’t just steam trains. There was also a huge model train track which totally dwarfed his little wooden train set back home. He was fixated watching the model trains and pressing all the buttons. For a little 3 year old boy who adored trains, this place was just superlative. He was happy beyond his wildest, wildest dreams!!

Then, it was time to go.

Now, I’m sure you can see it coming… the tantrum. Not just any tantrum either. Mister blew a boiler!

My Dad ended up carrying him out of the museum and he was still kicking, screaming and fighting with all his might to go back in when we finally managed to get him into the car. Even then, he absolutely refused to get into his car seat and he certainly gave fresh meaning to the power of persistence…

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

Calvin Coolidge.

You know how these events work. The entire day is planned out with clockwork precision and meltdowns by toddlers aren’t factored into the schedule.

We were in big trouble.

The Cake

The Cake

Well, we managed to get there on time in the end but it was a lot of stress.

Looking at cards the next day with Papa Bert

Looking at cards the next day with Papa Bert

I laugh when I look back on it all now. You know how it is. The worst moments often make the best stories down the track.

We have all loved the train museum so much that we’ve had annual membership passes even though we live inter-state over 1000 kilometres away. We just make sure we stay for the best part of a day to keep everybody happy. There is so much to see and do!!

This still isn’t the postcard I’d intended to send from the train museum. That’s still to come. Perhaps, we’ll call this one the ghost of steam engines past.

One interesting little PS to this post.

Both children at the train museum.

Both children at the train museum.

I finally finished this post last night and then went hunting for the photos. They turned out to be quite an insight. You can’t just trust everything to memory. Our daughter was also in the photos.  Somehow, she had been omitted from the story. I had assumed that we had left her back at the house with my Mum but there she was in all the photos. Photos I had mentally attributed to a later visit. I also found photos of the technical details. Perhaps, they were for Geoff. He couldn’t get time off work for that visit and we had flown up with Mum. There is also a remote possibility that I was trying to educate myself on the technical aspects of trains, although that has to be pretty doubtful. Who knows? Memory is obviously an unreliable witness.

Taking care of his little sister.

Taking care of his little sister.