Tag Archives: Queensland

Out of the Depths…Friday Fictioneers.

The river’s fury knew no bounds. Swallowing and regurgitating all in its path, the river gushed through precious Queenslander homes, but didn’t care… just buried its dead in mud.

Pete and Julie clung to each other like limpets. Photograph after sodden photograph fished out of the mud, their memories were falling apart in gloved hands.

Despair…utter despair.

Then, the aliens landed. Strangers wearing gumboots, rubber gloves, carrying spades, mops and plates of food. They’d salvaged their daughter’s precious teddies. Mud was glued to each and every fibre, but for the very first time, they knew they could make it.

………

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers. This week’s photo prompt is © Karuna

A series of floods hit Queensland, Australia, beginning in December 2010. The floods forced the evacuation of thousands of people from towns and cities.[2] At least 90 towns and over 200,000 people were affected.[2] Damage initially was estimated at around A$1 billion[3] before it was raised to $2.38 billion.[1]

Three-quarters of the council areas within the state of Queensland were declared disaster zones.[5] Communities along the Fitzroy and Burnett Rivers were particularly hard hit, while the Condamine, Ballone and Mary Rivers recorded substantial flooding. An unexpected flash flood caused by a thunderstorm raced through Toowoomba’s central business district. Water from the same storm devastated communities in the Lockyer Valley. A few days later thousands of houses in Ipswich and Brisbane were inundated as the Brisbane River rose and Wivenhoe Dam used a considerable proportion of its flood mitigation capacity. Volunteers were quick to offer assistance, and sympathy was expressed from afar…Wikipedia

At the time of the floods, I was staying near Byron Bay in Northern New South Wales and also experienced the deluge. People talk about the sound of rain on a tin roof, but this was terrifying and yet at the same time, strangely beautiful at the same time. We have family and close friends in Brisbane so these floods were very close to our hearts.

I felt I had to write something uplifting in response to this prompt which I found quite disturbing.

xx Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share 15th October, 2016.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Let’s just forget it’s after dark and switch on the sun. Why let reality get in the way of painting a picture? While we’re at it, we can throw a rug on the grass and smell the roses. Our rose bush has burst into Spring quite literally and is covered all over with luscious red roses and a multitude of buds. Just going to show that a savage prune can be good for the soul. Mind you, personally I say go prune the rose bush and leave me alone.

How was your week? What did you get up to?

This week, I had a truly special moment when I received a Facebook message asking if I still had any of the sunflower seeds I’d received from the MH17 crash site in the Ukraine. This woman was related to the pilot and she was desperately searching for some seeds to plant in their new home. MH17 was the passenger plane shot down over the Ukraine2 years ago and these seeds were salvaged by the Sydney Morning Herald’s journalist Paul McGeogh and photographer. They brought the seeds back to Australia via quarantine where they were planted and this is generation 1.

If you would like to read about the sunflower seeds, click here

I was too anxious to plant the seeds last year. Actually, this wasn’t anxiety but more of a reality check because I am a serial plant killer and our front yard is currently littered with dead bodies following my most recent splurge. I always vow to change but my track record speaks for itself.

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Sunflower seeds from the Ukraine

So, I packaged up 5 of the seeds and today we planted twelve in a seed planter at home and I’m hoping to plant the rest in the greenhouse at my son’s school. If you’ve ever read The Little Prince and you remember how the rose was kept safe under the glass dome, you’ll know exactly what I’m looking for. Obviously, I can’t bubble wrap the sunflowers but a greenhouse is pretty much the same thing. Hopefully, we’ll get plenty of seeds and future crops will be assured.

While I haven’t thinking about seeds, I’ve been doing more family history research. By the way, anybody who thinks this is dull and boring, hasn’t met my family. This bunch are on my Mum’s Mother’s side. There are a couple of different branches but they basically arrived from Germany during the 1860s. My research started out with my Great Great Great Aunty Rose who had a sophistocated hair and beauty salon in Brisbane which served the elite…including General MacArthur’s wife while he was stationed in Brisbane.

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Well, Aunty Rose was theatrical to say the least and she had a pet kookaburra “Johnny Boy” which she could get to laugh on command (not easy for a kookaburra apparently. I’ve never tried.) She also had a pet budgerigar called Romeo whose vocabulary was a very impressive 800-1000 words. While other women were knitting socks for the war effort, Aunty Rose organised fundraising concerts for the Red Cross featuring local entertainers and her birds. Aunty Rose, not unsurprisingly, was very in elocution and gave very dramatic renditions of poems. We actually have a recording of her performing on an old reel-to-reel tape recorder. She used to perform when my Mum’s family went round for a visit and apparently they found it very difficult to contain their laughter. Of course, these were the days when children were seen and not heard and they had to behave!!

Anyway, while researching Aunty Rose I stumbled across a startling little snippet. It turns out that her Uncle played the violin for Ashton’s Circus around 1870. This made quite a lot of sense. From there I strayed across another snippet about how members of the Wirth’s Circus band were bailed up by the notorious bushranger Captain Thunderbolt.

By this time, my creative juices are gushing like a fountain. Seriously, you couldn’t make up these characters.

So, as you can see, I’ve been well and truly spirited away from the real world this week and I’ve wandered off on yet another goat’s trail chasing the story. However, my stories are all very cold off the press. You could indeed say frozen but they’re so good that I have to perform CPR. Bring them back to life.

Anyway, that’s enough from me. I need to get to bed before the sun rises for real.

Hope you have a great week!

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share and please click on the linky to enjoy beverages from right around the globe. .

xx Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share 29th May, 2016.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

As much as I love my morning coffee, this week I’m recommending you join me for High Tea Queensland style at the Teahouse Gallery in Mudgeeraba on the Gold Coast Hinterland. You’ll be offered over 20 teas presented in little glass jars and you’re encouraged to take the lids off, smell and take your time making your choice. While you’re waiting for your pot of hot tea to arrive, you can admire each others’ vintage tea cups with their pretty patterns and gold trim. I collect antique tea cups, the way with Shelley and Royal Albert being my favourites. They remind me of cups of tea with my grandmothers who’ve since passed on.

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If things had worked out a bit differently, I could have offered you a slice of Nigella’s Nutella Cake. However, you know how it is when Lady Luck is working against you and every twist and turn doesn’t entirely work out and then all those mishaps seemingly fuse together into a veritable “catastrophe!”

Nigella Nutella Cake

An Earthquake Hit Our Interpretation of Nigella’s Nutella Cake. The lactose-free Cream was to “skinny” for the ganache, leading to “liquification”.

Well, that’s what happened with the cake. The minor mishaps along the way would not have been a major problem. However, we had great difficulty judging cooking times and whether the cake was ready. I needed to pick up my daughter and left my husband in charge. He kept getting mixture on the skewer (a sign that the cake isn’t cooked) but as it was starting to “caramelise”, he thought he’d better take it out. This meant the cake was somewhat burnt, dried out and the hazlenuts tasted bitter. However, a layer of cream, fresh raspberries, icing and freshly roasted hazlenuts almost resurrected the thing and we did enjoy a few slices. That was until our naughty little Lady dog was caught with paws up on the kitchen table, nose through the plastic bag and tail wagging until Geoff sent her packing.

I have been on the lookout for a good chocolate cake recipe to make for birthdays etc and thought this might have been the one. I’m going to give it another chance but suspect the kids would prefer one without the hazlenuts. All recommendations would be grateful received.

Anyway, we arrived home from our road trip to Queensland on Monday night. It was a huge relief to be home after our 2000 km round trip, even though it was hard to leave family and the North behind. However, once you’re in the car, you just want to get there.

If you’re interested in virtual trip to Australia’s tropical Queensland, here’s a series of links to my posts:

Driving To Queensland Via The Long White Line.

Sunset Behind Surfers Paradise

Surfers Paradise By Night

Bangalow Markets – Near Byron Bay

A Queensland High Tea

I hope you’ve all had a great week. What is the weather doing in your neck of the woods? We have two days left until the official start of Winter. That could mean anything. Yesterday, we had rain and a sudden cold snap. It was absolutely freezing, especially as our homes aren’t built for Winter and our Winter woollies are still in the roof. Indeed, the dogs are lucky to still have their fur coats. I was very tempted to take them but a dog on my lap is almost as good!

By the way, we go into denial around this time each year, thinking we live in a perpetual Summer. Then, we wonder why it’s cold and whinge bitterly.

Anyway, the sun is back out again today and although my toes are frozen numb, things are looking up.

I hope you’ve had a great week. It’s now Sunday afternoon here so we’re starting to get ready for another week.

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at  Part-Time Monster . You can click here for the linky to read the other posts.

xx Rowena

 

 

A Queensland High Tea.

Leaving behind Bangalow Markets, we were back onto the interminable Pacific Highway heading back over the Queensland border for High Tea at the Old Teahouse Gallery in Mudgeeraba in the lush Gold Coast hinterland. With traffic ever unpredictable, we arrived an hour early, giving us time for explorations and an impromptu photo shoot.

This was stage two of my Sister-In-Law’s 60th Surprise Birthday Party. I must admit it was getting harder to keep the secret quiet, especially when she’d asked us when we were heading home the night before. I’m not a good liar.

Although we’d been on quite a journey, this house is surprisingly well travelled. Nothing like splitting a house in two, sticking it on the back of a truck and moving it around.

In 1911, it was originally built in Scarborough Street, Southport. Salvaged from demolition, it was cut in half and moved into a historic pioneer village, The Settlement. In April 1995, the house was sold, cut in half once again and moved to its current location in Mudgeeraba, nestled among gigantic eucalypts and palms. No wonder it hasn’t moved since. It no doubt wants to put down roots and settle down.

Mama RJL in front of house

If you are not familiar with Queenslander houses, they have their own unique charm and have been designed to suit the hot, wet Queensland climate:

“The Australian tropical house conjures a vision of a large sprawling timber structure on stumps with an extensive, deep, shaded verandah accessed via French doors. The roof is iron and the pitch is steep. A bougainvillaea, a Mango tree, and or a Frangipani adorn the front garden of the house. The primary reason for the development of the Queenslander was the climate. The long hot summer days often ended with a torrential downpour. A house with wide verandahs that provided shelter from these conditions was essential. The importance of the verandahs as an architectural element in a tropical Australian house cannot be underestimated because it is one area which lent itself to an informal semi-outdoor lifestyle suited to the climate. The verandah became an integral part of every house and their use an essential part of the Australian way of life. The cool space framed with white posts, decorative balustrades and brackets became a symbol of the tropical house as an essential link between the indoors and the outdoors.

http://traditionalqueenslanders.com.au/History-of-The-Queenslander.php

Roderick Street

My Grandparents’ Queenslander House.

Stepping into the Old Teahouse Gallery, we weren’t only experiencing its history. Indeed, we were returning to my grandparents’ Queenslander home in Ipswich and retracing the footsteps of my great grandparents and their parents and even their parents before them. My grandmother’s family were Queensland pioneers in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Bowen.

So, as I’m sure you’ll understand, being inside this pretty Queenslander House, brought back so many bitter-sweet memories. My grandparents have passed away. Their Queenslander home has been sold. And, we don’t cross over the border often now either.

Memories, light the corners of my mind
Misty water color memories of the way we were
Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind
smiles we gave to one another
for the way we were.

The Way We Were.

Portrait Mama & Papa

My Grandparents.

Indeed, my memories of my grandparents are so vivid and real, that I can almost reach out and touch them again. Say hello. Give them a hug. Hear their unforgettable voices again. Then, those visions brutally fade and they’re gone. Just like phantom limb pains, my renewed grief is like that macabre, intense itch on a missing foot. Memory’s now hacking through my heartstrings like a blunt knife, severing those precious ties all over again. A desperate beggar, I fall to my knees. Please…just one last cup of tea, one last chat? Then again, I can’t help being greedy and wanting more.

Indeed, I would love my grandmother to meet my kids and for them to know her. I’d love them to go fishing with my grandfather with his handmade line, frugally wrapped around an old lemonade bottle. How I’d love them to hear his stories. He was famous for his stories. They might have been the same old stories and I still remember the annoyance: “We’ve already heard that one”. Little did we know, that he’d outlive his stories, his memories and that laugh would be silenced long before we’d say goodbye.

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Visiting my grandfather with the kids, looking at my son’s Fisher Price laptop. Our visit brought his right out of his shell. It was incredible!

You see, my grandfather developed Alzheimer’s, that cruel disease which snatches away more than just your memories. Like a blasted thief striking during the night, the disease took him away too. At least, the man we knew and who knew us… not that we loved him any less. Perhaps, feeling him slip away, we even loved him more!

Goodbye

My grandfather waving goodbye as my grandmother stands at the top of the stairs.

Yet, while there were all those spangled threads of memories past, with a spider’s architectural genius, we were weaving new threads into a dazzling web. Down the end of the table, the children sparkled, back lit by the sun. Our son sat at the head of their table, surrounded by the girls wearing floral garlands…almost “girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes”.

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The kids enjoying a magical high tea.

Time for tea.

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The table was beautifully presented and we each had our own, unique vintage tea cup, saucer and plate. Nothing beats tea in a vintage bone china tea cup, except when you have a smorgasbord of specialty teas to choose from.We were presented with what I’ll call a tea tray with over twenty different varieties of tea in little jars. It was very hard to choose only one and inhaling the rich scents of “Creme Brulee”, “Fruits of the Forest”, orange, cinnamon, raspberry… What bliss!

 

I chose Creme Brulee. Please don’t ask me to describe the specifics. I’m not the tea equivalent of one of those wanky wine tasters who can find “plum” in a grape. What I will say, however, is that the tea tasted fresh and very smooth. That’s as good as my description gets.

However, High Tea isn’t just about tea and fancy dresses. It’s also about dainty, edible morsels in miniature.

Considering we hadn’t had lunch and our sitting started at 2.ooPM, our family was ravenous. Naturally, I wondered whether all these small morsels were going to be enough to satisfy our enormous appetites. Was this going to be one of those places where you need to dip down the road for “real food” after paying $50.00 for a lettuce leaf on a huge white plate? I hoped not!

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However, I needn’t have worried. There was plenty and each morsel was scrumptious. There were savouries, macaroons, mille feuille, mini scones with rich dollops of jam and cream. By the way, the scones were soft and moreish and nothing approaching ammunition. Scones are hard to get right and a good test of culinary ability.

By the time the scones appeared and quickly disappeared, I was starting to think about what we’ll call “an elegant sufficiency”.

There can be a fine line between hungry and gluttony.

Thank goodness, I just made it!

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Alas! You can’t lick your plate at High Tea!

It was time to head back over the border ready for the long drive home.

Have you ever been out for high tea? Please do share and link through to any posts.

Xx Rowena

Anybody looking at savour the delights of high tea at the Old Teahouse Gallery can check out their website at http://www.theoldteahousegallery.com

 

Surfers Paradise By Night.

If my brain was somehow in gear, I’d write something about Surfers Paradise or “Surfers” as it’s known. I know a smattering about its history, which also weaves a thread throughout my own history going generations back. My collection to this stretch of golden beaches, its fun parks and nightclubs is coming here for holidays ever since I was a small child, although these days we prefer the serenity of Byron Bay…somewhere quiet and away from the action.

Here I am at Sea World around 1976. Not even a hint of fear!

I first came to Surfers when I was about 7 years old and my hair was too short for pigtails. Mum used to keep it short before I could have a say. I remember staying a few beaches south at Palm Beach and going to the local bakery. My brother would have a Neenish tart and I had a pineapple tart and we both wore Mickey Mouse thongs. Inevitably, we both got badly sunburnt and that’s what I remember most about that holiday…pain! As luck would have it, my Great Aunt and Uncle were property investors back in the Surfers’ property boom back in the 1980’s, which saw the place turn into unit city. That meant we had somewhere very flash to stay. We moved around from Pacific Point to the Golden Gate with it’s two golden yellow stripes down the front. I think it used to be the tallest building in Surfers back in the day.

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Yes! A photo wearing my much loved Mickey Mouse Thongs. My Dad’s mother made my dress.

After I finished my HSC exams and finished school, my friends and I flew up to Surfers and spent the week between the pool, the beach and nightclubbing. They had these motorised scooters you could hire and two of my friends crashed into each other, which dampened their holiday a little but they weren’t badly injured. I remember learning a dance called:  “The Bus Stop”, which took forever for me to learn the moves. No female John Travolta, I was much more adept at the “D & M”but I did enjoy trying to dance all the same. I also remember staying home with the guys who had a Cold Chisel party, while the other girls headed off to a strip show. I had a boyfriend during schoolies who didn’t go. That meant there wasn’t any romance on that trip but that doesn’t mean that Surfers doesn’t have any stories to tell. They’re just not going to be retold.

That’s probably the most important rule about Surfers Paradise. What happens in Surfers stays in Surfers.

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Sunset Behind Surfers Paradise.

I really enjoyed visiting Surfers the other night after my Sister-in-Law’s birthday picnic. I won’t lie and say I hated all the razzle dazzle. I loved it. Just like I loved taking the lift up to the 40 something floor of their hotel to stand out on the balcony and gawk at the view. This place crammed with bright lights, crowds of people along side a breathtaking surf beach, had lost its appeal. Or, a sense for me, of coming home.

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Moon Rising Over Surfers Paradise- Geoff Newton.

Is there a place where you’ve gone on holidays throughout the years that means a lot to you? I’d love to hear your tales and please add links to any relevant posts. After all, holidays have such a special magic and are so wonderful to share.

xx Rowena

Driving to Queensland Via The Long White Line.

This weekend, I finally found out what it’s like to be an Olympic swimmer. Not that I was swimming faster than a turbo-charged Marlin. Rather, I experienced what it would be like swimming up and down the pool hour after hour, fixating on that never-ending black line.

You see, we’ve been cast in an excruciatingly long horror movie driving up and down the Pacific Highway and we’ve been fixating on the broken white line for eternity. Indeed, I can barely remember what it was like to set foot on terra firma and roam free.

Indeed, I’ve been looking at this broken white line and the dull grey bitumen for so long, that they’ve now become permanently imprinted on my retinas. My goodness I’ll be seeing the world through road-coloured lenses for the rest of my life.

Rowena High Tea

Here I am in Queensland.

Well, you might ask why on earth any sane person would be driving two thousand kilometres over an extended weekend. It was my Sister-In-Law’s sixtieth birthday. I know it probably sounds crazy to drive that far for the weekend. However, we didn’t even think twice. It’s what we do. We love her and the smile on her face was more than worth it. Besides, we had a wonderful time gallivanting around between Byron Bay’s lush green hinterland, admiring the Gold Coast’s glitzy bright lights and savouring high tea Queensland style in Mudgereebah. With a name like that, you could only be in Australia.

What with all this driving, it’s only natural to ask why ecstasy is so fleeting, while tedium lasts forever.

I don’t know.

However, before you start accusing me of being a miserable glass-half-empty sod, I’m hoping we could possibly devise some kind of mechanical lever, which could permanently change the tide. Switch over to a perpetual paradise with only very fleeting, intermittent commercial breaks from all those undesirables…boredom, sadness, grief, pain.

It would be such a relief. If only I could access that lever right now and leave all of that far behind.

However, what we’re needing right now, is an oversized variation of Dr Who’s fabulous flying machine, the Tardis. That way, we’d only have to drive in, park and the next thing, we’d  instantly arrive home. I had considered converting the car into a modernised Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. However, after my application to add supersonic power was denied,  I had to change tack. After all, Chitty barely flies faster than Donald Duck and I want to get home NOW!!

However, I can dream on. We still have 3 hours to go and the hours are getting longer and longer, the closer we get to home. My goodness! We’ve all developed an unhealthy interest in road signs, as the agonisingly slow countdown continues. Nowhere near home, we’re either driving through dull green pastures or eucalypt forest and not one of us is asking: “Are we there yet?” We know. The end is nowhere in sight!

Anyway, we can’t complain too much about the drive. The car is decked out like a mobile entertainment centre. The kids have their electronics, books, colouring-in devices and snacks. You could even call it “fun”. I’ve actually managed to read Roald Dahl’s James & The Giant Peach and Danny Champion of the World as we’ve been driving up and back. Obviously, I’d be getting through my book pile a hell of a lot faster, if we did more of these interminable drives…as long as I was a passenger.

Thank goodness I don’t get car sick.

However, then the sun set and the story changed considerably.

Although we’ve had glorious sunny weather, which would be considered Summer in so many other parts of the world, the day length has been cut brutally short and the sun is setting around 5.00PM. This has left us with two hours of travelling in the dark. Even though my daughter and I both tried capturing all available street and moonlight to read, we soon gave up. The kids’ electronics were flat and so we had to do the old fashioned thing and talk to each other. Develop the fine art of conversation.

I took it as an opportunity to get them talking about their holiday, a precursor to writing their grandparents an old-fashioned letter. “What would you tell your grandparents about what you’ve been up to?” I asked.

When they weren’t saying very much, I launched off with my account. Then, my daughter said that I’d said everything and she had nothing more to add. Hence, she was silent.

All these gurus advising you to spend time listening to your children need their heads read. All I can think of is that infamous quote about NOT working with children and animals!

I was tempted to launch a round of I Spy but we’re all a bit over it. All we wanted to spy was our drive way and our puppy dogs.

Aside from catching up with family and having some fabulous conversations with people we met, here’s a brief photographic snap shot from the trip:

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Surfers Paradise, Queensland By Night.                    Photo Rowena Newton.

Kombi Family

Kombi Dreaming at the Bangalow Markets, Near Byron Bay.

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The Kids at High Tea.

Hope you enjoyed our trip without having to endure the drive!

xx Rowena