For those who may not know what these photographs represent, keep reading.
The first photo is a poster for a charity fundraising event held at the RSL community centre in aid of the cancer centre at St Andrew’s hospital, Toowoomba, Queensland.
The required fancy dress is Bogan style, a checked flannel shirt and hairdo called the Mullet. This haircut is said to be the anglicised name of French guru Henri Mollet’s hair style.
Although there are later versions of its creation, the Mullet was embraced and immortalised by bogan Australian men in the 1970s and 80s perhaps as a form of rebellion.
The name also refers to an edible fish (sea mullet, Mugil cephalus) which occurs around much of the Australian coastline. I can see a similarity, dead fish on head…
Can’t say whether I liked this hair fashion statement or not, kind of an interesting trend at the time which didn’t concern me. A question has been raised asking if today’s Mullet is a fond, ironic reclamation of Australian identity or a cheap way to cut your hair—particularly prevalent for both men and women during Covid-19 restrictions.
Look closely… a night-time view across Toowoomba, Queensland, and high above—that’s the Southern Cross star constellation which is imbedded in Australian and Pacific Island cultures.
Forward thinking and backward reading. Or a calendar in nearly every room and at least three retro books on the bedside table…
First in line‘The Fourth Crow’(2012) a Constable & Robinson Ltd hardback featuring a series written by well respected historical fiction author Pat McIntosh. Her Gil Cunningham murder mysteries are lusciously populated with all manner of people and goings-on in Glasgow in fifteenth century Britain. The ye olde atmosphere is so vividly written that you can imagine yourself right there, and this series was recommend to me by a medieval historian and lecturer.
Historic Note: 👑 The movie ‘The Lost King’(2022) is a story about the real Philippa Langley who actually found the final resting place of King Richard III. The poetic licence has been challenged but it’s immersive viewing, filmed entirely on location in Edinburgh Scotland with great care and compassion, humour and heartache and so relevant on so many levels. Can recommend!
Nextin line‘Death in Disguise’ (1992) by Carolyn Graham on BorrowBox Audio, but do I really have to mention anything about Caroline Graham’s Midsomer Murders mystery series? DCI Tom Barnaby has had so many crimes to solve over so many years in books and on ITV television that he’s almost a real person.
This story is nicely read by John Hopkins with a foreword by John Nettles who played the first Tom Barnaby. I have to admit I am not far into this tale of criminal intent because I am finding the plot slow and the scene-setting long. However, the writing quality is top notch in relation to some of the light-weight stuff around today.
The third book‘Love and Summer’ (2009) a Charnwood large print hardback written by highly regarded award-winning Irish author William Trevor. I had not heard of him until a WordPress blogger Reading Matters posted and wrote about the William Trevor Reading Challenge. https://readingmattersblog.com/2022/12/17/a-year-with-william-trevor-is-almost-here/ This tale hooked me straight away with subplots, instant twists and turns and interesting characters. “Ellie falls in love with Florian, although he’s planning to leave Ireland and begin anew after what he considers to be his failed life… and a dangerously reckless attachment develops between them”.
Of course, I review books on Goodreads regardless of whether or not anyone reads them. Either the books or my reviews! The interesting fact of my 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge is I nominated to read 37 books over the year. I ended up reading 78 books (211%) so that was a surprise.
Happy New Year 2023 and may you be pleasantly surprised by________________(fill in the blank).
The roots grow underneath the pavement. The concrete cover acts as a mulch and protects the tree roots from being compacted too badly while providing some protection and climate-control. Sunshine and rain help to promote healthy branches and leaves.
Still, I think it’s a strong brave tree which survives inner city surroundings. This coastal one seems quite happy.
Love at first sight when I saw Will Hazzard’s adorable cockatoo with plumage which goes against nature to dramatic effect!
My photograph was taken in Maryborough and this 81.3cm x 81.3cm painting was exhibited at the 38th Hervey Bay Annual Competitive Art Exhibition by Gallery 5 – Hervey Bay Art Society in July 2022.
Established in 1983, this annual art exhibition hosts seven award categories with styles ranging from traditional to contemporary.Will Hazzard’s striking work won Second Prize in the Australian Flora & Fauna Section.
Will is 21 years old and autistic. Art became a form of therapy with his autism diagnosis at age 9. His paintings aim for a connection with animals, the environment and the land on which he lives.
A cold, misty night on an Aussie Rules AFL football field.
The grass of the oval is damp with dew.
A junior league game is about to start and already the families and friends of the young players have donned beanies and shoved frozen fingers into jacket pockets.
The siren sounds and puffs of steam escape from cold lipsaswild encouragement is directed at the players jogging into position, each one wearing a sleeveless guernsey(different colour for each team)with large numbers on the back.
At half-time the siren sounds, sending supporters and spectators rushing to the canteen to buy hot meat pies, salty chips and coffee to fortify themselves for the rest of the game. The teams gather around their respective coach, drinking hydrating fluids and eating protein snacks.
I know goals are kicked through the white posts but AFL rules of the game are beyond me, click here if interested 😀
These keen teams have boundless energy; the youthful players are hyped up, jostling and joking, hand-passing the ball back and forth while their coaches issue last minute instructions.
The siren blares again. The teams sprint back onto the oval after a quick glance at the scoreboard which shows an incredibly close game.
They are looking for inspiring, vivid and bold short stories by Queensland writers aged 18-25. Whether you’re just starting out or already making your mark as a writer, your creative work could win $2,000 and be published in the Griffith Review.
Have the chance to see your story published and win cash.
Enter your best work by Monday 15 August 2022, 5 pm.
The Young Writers Award is free to enter! To apply, submit a short story of up to 2,500 words.
First prize is $2000 and up to three runners-up will receive $500.
* * * * * * * * *
TIP: Always read the submission guidelines.
NOTE: I am no longer affiliated with either organisation although years ago I entered their competitions. I didn’t hear back but really enjoyed the experience and I encourage all writers to stretch their emotions and imaginations and start writing – now!
The Laughing Kookaburra can be identified immediately by both plumage and call. The cackling laugh is often used in scary jungle movies.
Laughing Kookaburras are found throughout eastern Australia. They feed mostly on insects, worms and crustaceans (like the yabby crayfish above) although small snakes, mammals, frogs and birds may also be eaten. Prey is seized by pouncing from a convenient perch. The meal is eaten whole, but larger prey is killed by bashing it against the ground or tree branch.
The kookaburra photograph (above) was taken at Crows Nest, located 44km north-east of Toowoomba on the Great Dividing Range, Queensland. It is one of the larger members of the kingfisher family with a wingspan 64cm-66cm (25in-26in).
I have always loved keen-eyed, stocky little kookaburras. Suburban kookaburras living in parkland sometimes loiter around barbecue cooking areas. They are not dangerous birds and rather stand-offish but I would not encourage them with human food. That powerful beak is better suited to nature’s diet.
Laughing Kookaburra feathers are generally off-white below, faintly barred with dark brown, and brown on the back and wings. The tail is more rufous, broadly barred with black. There is a conspicuous dark brown eye-stripe through the face, like an old-fashioned burglar mask.
My grandfather was an artist, woodcarver and bespoke furniture maker, and he designed and cast this laughing kookaburra (above) in a plaster mould. After hand-painting the kookaburra, he framed it in the minimalist style of 1960s. Both he and my grandmother (a needleworker extraordinaire) created Australian designs when many things were influenced by British and European artisans.
The kookaburra’s scientific name is Dacelo novaeguineae but the name ‘kookaburra’ is generally believed to be derived from the original term ‘grab a stick’ or ‘gougou garrdga’ in Kamilaroi/Euhlayi language.
Group kookaburra calls are best heard in early morning and at dusk, and are crazy loud if you are standing under their tree.
A group of kookaburras is called ‘a riot of kookaburras’ because of the raucous noise.
Studies have shown that kookaburras pair for life. The nest is usually a bare chamber in a naturally occurring tree hollow. The breeding season is August to January and every bird in the family group shares parenting duties. The ideal set-up really.
Many people read more than one book at a time and I have been doing this for several years. If one book is slow or doesn’t capture my immediate interest, I switch to another one. Plots and characters never seem to get confused because I usually read different genres.
And I always like to finish a book!
Watch out for a special blog post for my 100th Book Review. This milestone took me by surprise. I have many more reviews on Goodreads but I personalise my blog post reviews.
Have a quick look at Fantastic Fiction, my favourite go-to resource:
“Water Dragons are one of our most frequently encountered lizard species here in South East Queensland. They thrive just about anywhere, particularly around water sources of varied descriptions where they usually can be found in good numbers and they don’t mind the presence of people.”
“They feed primarily on small spiders and insects but will take other small vertebrates on occasion.”
Heads up… Brisbane’s longest-running Book Fair is coming soon! The UQ Alumni Book Fair will be spread over four glorious days in April/May 2022 with heaps more than text books.
This annual fundraiser is a much awaited event for Brisbane booklovers. Based at the University of Queensland, St Lucia campus, there is something for every reader and collector.
I’ll be going with a BIG carry bag!
The Book Fair is organised by volunteers who harness their love of books and generously donate their time to help raise funds to support researchers, educators and residential scholarships for UQ students.
Come along to the Book Fair for a huge range of—-
Pre-loved books of every genre for every age group
Occasional photographs, print or piece of memorabilia
Special Family Day for young readers
The Rare Book auction is biennial and next event is 2023
Register now White Gloves talk on rare Australian books at UQ Fryer Library.
This alluring information comes from The Black Stump, a Stringybark Stories newsletter, with reference to their Stringybark flagship open-themed short story award which commenced 15 November 2021 and closes 13 February 2022. Plenty of time? Maybe polish that special draft…
StringybarkShort Stories are open to Australian and international authors of all skill levels.
While the Stringybark Short Story Award2022 is open-themed, your submission does require some reference to Australia.
The size of this reference doesn’t matter says Stringybark Stories. It could be a mention of a Vegemite sandwich, or the fact that Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter. The story could be set in Australia or have an Australian in it. Stringybark doesn’t mind. Even a discussion on the habits of ‘drop bears’ is okay with them.
Head over to the StringybarkBookshop and get inspired by some great short stories from their past anthologies. Please note Stringybark Short Story Award isnot accepting poetry or illustrated tales.
Stringybark Stories have over AU$1000 in cash and books to award the winners, as well as publication in a paperback and ebook. The entry fee is the same as last year — AU$14 with discounts for multiple entries.
INFORMATIONBELOWplease check Stringybark Stories website thoroughly for details:
Subscribe to The Black StumpStringybark Stories newsletterhere.
Stringybark Stories Hints and Tips on Entering their Awards…
“Don’t let potential problems affected the likely success of your entry. The comments provided here are relevant for all short story competitions — not just Stringybark ones.”
1. Never put your name on your story. Put it on the entry form (a Stringybark requirement) or on a separate page. 2. Follow the formatting requirements. All competitions describe how they want your entry to look. We explain our requirements here. 3. Try and ensure that your entry and your payment are made as close together as possible. That is, don’t pay your entry and then submit your story a month later. It makes administration very tricky. It’s always best to do both together. 4. Related to number 3 above, if you are paying by Direct Deposit (and we love entrants who do) please remember to put your surname in the reference field so we can marry your entry and your payment. 5. Ensure that your story meets the theme of the competition!
Tempting isn’t it?! I’ve a story in mind and this is just the incentive I need.
LIFEGUARDS ON DUTY at Yeppoon situated 38 kilometres north east of Rockhampton, Queensland, the gateway to Great Keppel Island and the wonders of the Southern Great Barrier Reef.
From Yeppoon, across beautiful blue water, you can see Great Keppel Island. It has been years since I visited this coastal region and much has changed but the beaches and islands are far more accessible.
Meander down Yeppoon’s main street or stroll along the esplanade to browse beach-chic boutiques and surf stores and keep an eye out for one of the many new street art murals adorning local walls.
The Capricorn Coast (on the Tropic of Capricorn, the circle of latitude around the world which contains the subsolar point at the December solstice) also delivers when it comes to sourcing fine food with specialty produce like premium, export quality beef (nearby Rockhampton is the beef capital of Australia) seafood, and tropical produce. There is a wide range of restaurants, cafés and clubs catering to all tastes and budgets.
Families are well catered for in Yeppoon, with the foreshore also boasting the fantastic ‘Keppel Kraken’ zero-depth water park, open daily with fun and free activities for the kids on hot sunny days. The new lagoon pool at the southern end of Yeppoon Main Beach also has a children’s play area and dining areas.
I’d say Yeppoon is unspoiled, a relaxed and friendly little coastal town.
The whole plant was covered in these fast-moving jewel-like bugs! It was fascinating to see them sparkling in the sunlight in a suburban garden.
I am reading “Miss Benson’s Beetle” by Rachel Joyce, wherein Miss Benson and her assistant Enid search for a golden beetle in the wilds of New Caledonia, far removed from the comforts and safety of home, and this book has heightened my interest in insects.
The little Cotton Harlequin bugs (above) were enjoying lunch.
Scientific name: Tectocoris diophthalmus
Size: 2 centimetres
The Australian Cotton Harlequin Bug is a member of the Jewel Bug family named for their bright metallic colouration.
The males and females of the Cotton Harlequin Bug are different colours, with the females mostly orange and the males mostly blue-red.
The Cotton Harlequin Bug lives in urban, agricultural and coastal areas of eastern Australia. It eats sap from many species belonging to the hibiscus plant family (Malvaceae) including ornamental hibiscus species and cotton.
I am a member of U3A, University of the Third Age, an organisation designed for retired or semi-retired people over 50. My focus has been creative writing but U3A provides an opportunity for members to try something different, meet new people, and share and enhance their knowledge and skills in a friendly environment.
University of the Third Age promotes learning for personal enjoyment and well-being for seniors. Keeping the brain active, doing interesting things and making new friends are essential for helping older Australians maximise their chances of independence.
U3A Brisbane is one of many similar U3A branches throughout Australia. Formed in Brisbane in 1986, they are a volunteer organisation. Brisbane locations provide leisure, arts and educational courses to local members at low cost each term.
Classes are conducted on Zoom and in person at a number of venues subject to Covid-19 restrictions.
CLICK A LINK! ENHANCE YOUR SKILLS OR DISCOVER A NEW ONE:
CROCHET is a handicraft in which yarn is made up into a textured fabric by means of a hooked needle. These public art works cover concrete blocks along the entrance driveway to Rocks Riverside Park, Seventeen Mile Rocks, Brisbane, a combined project from Crochet Clubs around the city.
COME ON, admit it. The majority of us have a container, a bowl or tray, on a side table where we toss things. Car keys, door keys, hats, toys, cards, pens, books, name tag, USB, junk mail, countless small items like Lego, and possibly your dog’s lead. They all get thrown, tossed, dropped into this repository, usually near an entry door. Next time you watch a domestic drama series, check how many times the house keys are tossed aside while the actor says ‘I’m home.’
THIS CASUAL receptacle is handy for coming home tired, but hopeless when you are in a hurry in the morning. I have discovered that annoyed pitching never works and requires the effort of fishing the item up off the floor and trying again.
OF COURSE, we are cautioned by Neighbourhood Watch not to use this careless form of storage because thieves can take your car keys on their way out with your Edwardian silverware.
DIFFICULT to disguise a set of car keys—good on you if you have keyless entry—but I hang unmarked keys in separate locations. At least that way the burglar has to scurry around trying to find the right set of hooks holding the right key to your vault or whatever. Naturally a door key may not be necessary if the entry point is used to exit.
THANKFULLY on the night my domestic dwelling was genuinely plundered, I was out, so my car was not there to ‘borrow’. I went to live theatre for the first time in years; you can read my anguish on a past blog post Stolen Jewellery Anger and Sorrow.
THE AVERAGE household uses only one or two different keys and bowl storage works out pretty well until someone wants an unused key necessary to unlock a side window in the spare bedroom. The relevant key is finally located from a neglected bundle at the bottom of a woven tray on the kitchen sideboard. It has been transferred to another storage facility, i.e. drawer. We humans know how to waste time searching for small things.
KEYS offer something primitive and satisfying about locking a door. It is real, it makes a solid locking noise and creates a tangible barrier between you and the world. For me, a beep doesn’t cut it. Do you hear an electronic click when you issue a ‘lock door’ command? Do you hear a thunk like a garage door closing when you tap a screen? I guess the modern manufacturer is well versed in consumer psychology and pre-programs various locking noises. Kind of like phone ring tones but different.
A LOT can be said about smart key entry, finger print identity, voice commands, internet-based security, eye recognition, tomographic motion detection, etc, but since I don’t know how most of that technology works, I am sticking with my metal keys. Of course, the family has keys so I check to see they have ‘properly’ locked the door at night—blame scary movies.
DOMESTICsecurity is important… millions of people don’t have a door to lock… or a home…
When Alice finds that she can’t fit through the little door to get into the beautiful garden because she is too big, she notices a glass bottle with a paper label which reads Drink Me.
A Drink Mepotion is a magical liquid in Wonderland – it has the effect of making the drinker shrink in size
This potion bottle has magically appeared on the table. Alice wonders if it is safe to drink, and she thinks to herself ‘If one drinks much from a bottle marked Poison it is certain to disagree with one, sooner or later’. However, the bottle did not have the word Poisonwritten on it, so Alice drinks every last drop of the bottle’s liquid and finds that it tastes delicious. It had a flavour of cherry tart, custard, pineapple, roast turkey, toffee and hot buttered toast, all mixed up. She then shrinks down to only ten inches tall (approx 25cm) after drinking from this bottle.
Personally I did not like this part of Alice in Wonderland as a child and it has haunted me ever since. What writer puts that into a children’s story? Believing labels, swigging from bottles, shrinking in size. The stuff of horrors akin to storing cleaning fluid in soft drink bottles. Okay, I realise it is a fantasy story which has stood the test of time and been reproduced in many formats, still… I guess for me, reading this tale in childhood, there was the thought of ‘No, Alice, don’t drink it!’ without knowing she has to propel the story forward in the most unlikely way. Yes, it is a unique and radical plotline but I still see it as experimental drug-taking.
Apologies to staunch fans with no hang-ups, and those who embrace Lewis Carroll’s Todd’s syndrome or Dysmetropsia, a neuropsychological condition which causes strange hallucinations and affects the size of visual objects. It can make the sufferer feel bigger or smaller than they are – a theme of the book – write what you know. Then, and now, I have never seen Alice’s adventures in Wonderland as entertaining. I view this book as akin to a fitful, nightmarish fever dream. The characters are irredeemably scary, even Johnny Depp couldn’t save it for me.
Before the sun gained intensity, it was a misty morning walk up to Cape Byron Lighthouse. Along the way, I enjoyed coastal views from the Cape Byron walking track which took me on a hike past beaches, through rainforest, grassland and along clifftops to the lighthouse.
The walk is shared by joggers and walkers and is rough in patches but passes through the shade of bangalow palms, ancient burrawangs, and across kangaroo grassland. I had tantalising glimpses of the white lighthouse ahead and views of picturesque beaches alongside before rising to the summit of Australia’s most easterly point.
From the historic town of Byron Bay, the 3.7km walk loops through rainforest and along clifftops with views of the foreshore, eastern coastline and vast hinterland behind the township.
The Bush Stone-curlew or Bush Thick-knee (Burhinus grallarius) is a large ground-dwelling bird with a life span of up to 20 years. The bush curlew is endemic to Australia and found in Brisbane, usually in parkland. The curlew will adopt a rigid posture when it becomes aware of an observer, as this one did, poised amongst the roses in New Farm Park.
Curlews are terrestrial predators adapted to stalking slowly at night. Their preferred habitat is open landscapes which give them good visibility at ground level where they search for invertebrates such as insects. The grey-brown coloration is distinguished by dark streaks, its eyes are large and legs are long. Both male and female care for two eggs laid on the bare ground, usually sited in a shaded position near a bush, stone wall or fallen branch.
Queensland Bush Stone-curlews are capable of flight but rely on the camouflage of their plumage to evade detection during the day. Domestic animals are their biggest threat. At night their call is an evocative and unforgettable sound, a sort of wailing cry which echoes across open ground.
The Rolling Stones performed ‘Get Off Of My Cloud’ live on Australian TV in 1966 on Brian Henderson’s Bandstand. The Stones are so young, so pretty. Check out the boys wearing ties and the girls sitting on seats tapping their toes, and the politely orchestrated screams. So much to love ♥Gretchen Bernet-Ward
You must be logged in to post a comment.