Brooding rain clouds hang over the Stanthorpe Historical Museum gate.
Out the back is the blacksmith’s workshop mentioned in Part One. A guided tour of Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery was an eye-opener (costumes next) and the Stanthorpe Post Office 1901 was the first in Queensland. Its style is informal with Edwardian Baroque Revival elements and Royal coat-of-arms, but inside it’s 21st century business as usual.
Napoleon, Ferdinand and The Alchemist.
Both Ferdinand and The Alchemist have elaborate tail coats trailing behind their heavily detailed jackets. Dr Denise Rall used a variety of mediums but my photos don’t capture the sumptuousness of the bling-covered fabric. There were two prints of the Rooster and I almost took the cheeky fellow home! The Gallery has an array of art techniques including landscapes by local artists and thought-provoking ceramics.
Took a stroll through town.
This must be the biggest stone thermometer in Australia. A detour between buildings lead to a sculpture with an ibis taking flight (used in my ‘Exercise Makes You More Attractive’ post). During lunch I read the local newspaper Stanthorpe Today and discovered the old white 1960s Valiant sedan I had photographed cruising the streets was taking part in a Classic Car Rally. Just love those teatowels!
A pyramid in a paddock.
This one is made of local stone and called The Ballandean Pyramid. It was originally built for the Henty Vineyards former owner, Stuart Moreland.
Storm King Dam on a suitably overcast day.
Although not as cold as I was lead to believe. The lake has bungalows to cater for fishing enthusiasts. The view from Top of the Town Tourist Park down to the centre of town with a blue picnic table for contrast. Daisies amongst granite rocks, and more granite rocks and boulders at Donnelly’s Castle, almost impossible to photograph their size—but not teetering like giant hard-boiled eggs in some parts of the region. Captain Thunderbolt, an expert horseman and highway robber, used to hide in these geological wonders.
The U3A Conference 2021 in Stanthorpe.
A packed 2-day Program of informative U3A events with eloquent guest speakers, living up to the title of ‘Coolest’ Conference. A highlight for me was Copyright with Irene Sachs, a straight-forward look at Australian copyright laws. Everyone got a goodies bag and the Daisy mosaic tile was hand-made specially, a different one in each bag. There’s my grey Alpaca cardigan from Pure Inca. Fresh-picked fruit abounded, Stanthorpe apples were prominent—I love them! Local food take-home’s included Jamworks Rosella Jam, Sutton’s Apple Jelly, Stanthorpe Honey, Jersey Girls cheese, minus bakery delights consumed on route.
The evenings were misty and quiet…
… except for a heifer escaping after dark and running around mooing at midnight! The daytime sky changed colour often but mostly May sunlight shone on country Stanthorpe and the whispering eucalypt leaves. A return visit is inevitable.
Here’s to life-long learning!
At an altitude of 811 metres (2,661 ft), Stanthorpe holds the record for the lowest temperature recorded in Queensland at −10.6 °C (12.9 °F) on 23 June 1961. My blog post compiled on Queensland Day 6 June 2021.
The views change dramatically driving along the highway from Brisbane to Stanthorpe.
Through farmland, over Cunninghams Gap and the Great Dividing Range (Eastern Highlands) Australia’s most substantial mountain range and the third longest land-based range in the world. Through ‘Rose and Rodeo Capital’ Warwick then into the Granite Belt region renowned for fruit-growing and wine-making. The air becomes cooler, the May autumn leaves turn russet and the landscape is littered with huge granite boulders.
Stanthorpe is a pretty little town with a lot of history as I found out when I attended my first U3A conference.
Actually the 2021 conference was a good reason to visit this fabulous part of Queensland! On arrival, after traversing the town, the next stop was Top Of The Town Tourist Park’s well-appointed accommodation in The Cottage. A modern cottage, small and cute and separate from the other cabins and campers. That didn’t stop me talking to the locals for a good chinwag. The historical museum is nextdoor and that warranted a visit on the last day, so much to see inside! Anyway, it was a quick drive into town and a visit to the supermarket, and a Peruvian Alpaca wool shop just in case there was a cold snap. I did buy a handwoven cardigan which is very warm and snuggly. My photo shows the walk down to Quart Pot Creek. The sky was a clear blue and the water reflections sparkled.
Looking across Quart Pot Creek on the path to the Tourist Information Centre.
A huge stone thermometer read 15 degrees Celsius (59 Fahrenheit) and a tourist bus had just arrived so there were a lot of people milling about inside looking a handmade souvenirs and ordering morning tea. I picked up several leaflets and information on local sites of interest plus must-do events, like wineries, Girraween National Park, Wallangarra Railway Station Museum & Cafe (sadly not managed this trip) Truffle tour with Truffle dog hunts, Jersey Girls Cheese factory (what an experience!) and Donnelly’s Castle which are a jumble of prehistoric granite boulders at the end of a winding gravel road. After climbing these huge mystical boulders, the view was fantastic. Then it was time to head back for a delicious lunch at Lily’s Cafe in the High Street.
My next post will feature another side of Stanthorpe. The diversity surprised me.
A visitor to Stanthorpe would need a couple of weeks to visit all the internationally renowned wineries and local attractions, both natural and man-made like The Pyramid out in a paddock! And I loved the individuality of farm produce and accommodation. Top Of The Town had a trail up the hillside where you can stand on a granite rock and look out over the town in the company of native birds and pretty wildflowers. Brisbane doesn’t get much in the way of autumn leaves (although the weather does cool down) so this blog post features red, yellow, golden leaves.
In Part Two, I will post more photographs and write briefly about the U3A Conference. The conference ran over two days and the first guest speaker was Mike Hayes, Director of Viticulture and Chief Winemaker from Sirromet Wines, Ballandean, located in the Southern Downs near the Queensland/New South Wales border.
These two ducks were not very happy that I was walking past their pond.
The Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery pond had rainwater in it from a storm the night before but otherwise water is very precious in southern Queensland. I doubt the centre fountain is ever full although it does add to the feel of the season. The U3A Conference organised a guided tour of the Art Gallery and in my second post I will show two of the local artists creations. I was particularly taken by the work of costumier Denise N Rall; landscapes beautifully rendered in different mediums; an illuminated-style book of art.
Grape vine leaves, not in a vineyard but the Stanthorpe Historical Museum.
These leaves caught my eye outside the blacksmith’s workshop. Inside was a blackened fireplace, anvil and countless tongs, pliers, buckets and metal utensils, hung around the slab bark hut. I don’t remember seeing the leather bellows to fan the flames but there must have been. The blacksmithy had a physically demanding yet highly necessary job in every town in days gone by. I found it difficult to even lift the hammer which would have been used to shape the red hot iron. And I have no doubt countless horseshoes and metal implements were forged in sheds like this with its corrugated iron roof, dirt floor and rough log seating.
Bye from sweet, sunny Stanthorpe until my next post Part Two also compiled on Queensland Day 6 June 2021.
To view stunning photographs of breathtaking scenery and villages around Wales which inspired Welsh authors, poets and artists to create their world-famous works, I can highly recommend Visit Wales “The word trail: 8 journeys through Welsh literary landscapes” website—
Creatives, some well-known, some not so, feature on the list including my favourite Dylan Thomas, who spent his final years in Laugharne, where he lived in a boathouse down on the estuary.
Read about contemporary poet Gillian Clarke (I have already downloaded her “Collected Poems”) and Medieval European poet Dafydd ap Gwilym (14th century) who was born into a noble family in the parish of Llanbadarn.
Kate Roberts, hailed as “Brenhines ein Llên” (Queen of Our Literature) chronicled the lives of slate workers. The South Wales coalfields attracted thousands of migrant workers, but the North Wales slate mines were almost exclusively worked by Welsh-speaking local men, which had a major influence on cultural life. Yet it was a woman – Kate Roberts (Caernarfonshire 1891-1985) – who was the greatest chronicler of the lives of men, women and children in the slate-producing north.
The Great Book Swap is a fantastic way to celebrate reading, and raise much-needed funds for remote communities. Schools, workplaces, libraries, universities, book clubs, individuals and all kinds of organisations can host one. The idea is to swap a favourite book in exchange for a gold coin donation.
Here’s a letter from Executive Director Karen Williams—-
“The Great Book Swap is back and registrations for 2021 are now open. Register your school, library or organisation to hold a Great Book Swap anytime throughout the year. Last year the pandemic stopped many individuals, schools and organisations from hosting a Great Book Swap, but we’re hoping 2021 will be our biggest year yet.
“We are aiming to raise $350,000 to gift 35,000 culturally relevant books to children in remote Australia and we need your help! Visit our new-look website, and access some great features and resources to help make fundraising easier, fun and more successful than ever.
“Why not check to see if a Great Book Swap aligns to your organisation’s Reconciliation Action Plan, or you can ask your employer to match donations? It is also a great conversation starter to get teams talking and sharing their reading interests and passions.
“Get ready to celebrate reading, hold your business or organisation to their social responsibilities, and raise funds for an excellent cause.”
It’s March and that means Wales Readathon time! Book Jotter has launched this exciting yearly event with an eye-opening post featuring a Royal Welsh Fusiliers regimental mascot, a Great Orme goat named Fusilier Shenkin IV. You can read his life story and details on #dewithon21 in the following post… oh, and perhaps join us as we Read Wales…
Dewithon is an opportunity for book bloggers around the world to discover Welsh writers and their works (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays, in fact anything written in English or Welsh with links to the nation of Wales).
We will begin our 31 days of celebration on Monday 1st March 2021 (St. David’s Day), with an official page appearing thereafter to display all your Dewithon-related posts. There are plenty of useful links and reading suggestions at DHQ (Dewithon Headquarters) and in our Wales Readathon Library, but please do not hesitate to ask for help if you are struggling to get started. You are free to read and write on any literary subject relating to Wales, so please dechrau darllen (start reading)!
Dewithon With a Difference
It became apparent quite recently that some members of our global book blogging community were having difficulties obtaining certain UK…
Why does Google dismay me? Make me groan, make me feel deflated? And what’s Star Wars got to do with it?
Give me five minutes and I will tell you why…
Google images can show me anything and anyone from anywhere in the world. Every famous person I ever knew when I was growing up in the 20th century. Every one of the legendary, beautiful, talented, celebrated people who shared my life (vicariously) now have their lives electronically, digitally, chronologically recorded for all time—and not unexpectedly they have all grown old.
But it is unexpected to me.
They were my idols, my inspiration and now they are looking like my grandfather or my grandmother. Eek! Am I shallow?
Okay I’m older too, but (discreet cough) less so…
Every single person born on this planet has the prospect of growing old. Sadly, millions don’t make it due to many varied and tragic reasons; one of which the world is currently experiencing.
Ageing is a normal occurrence in life, and while celebrities may try to subvert nature’s course (I am not a fan of surgical enhancement and 82 year-old Jane Fonda is finally quitting) ageing is a dreadful fact we all have to acknowledge.
That doesn’t mean I have to like it.
It doesn’t mean I should stop using Google.
Hang on, there are distinguished vocations which seem to be exempt, the more august their features, the better their kudos. Even authors seem to be allowed a few saggy features. But I digress.
I should not (cannot) ignore it.
What old age means to me is that I will never ever get used to seeing a vibrant, happy, slim, trim, gorgeous male, female, androgynous (term used back then) human being with a fabulous personality, body, voice, career, sink slowly into their old age, creeping ever closer to the eternal departure lounge.
I am callously referring to celebrities of stage and screen, actors, singers, bands, artists, e.g. the upper stratosphere of very public stardom.
With or without their cosmetic surgery I am trying to maintain the love and respect. But those dreaded Before and After shots. Gosh, these days I wouldn’t even recognise most of them in the supermarket.
“Hold on,” you shout in an agitated fashion, “don’t be so cruel and superficial! They still have their brains (hopefully) and their photo albums, family, friends and big mansion. Stop making out they are turning into something akin to Frankenstein’s monster.”
Relax, dude. All I am saying is that when I see a wrinkly (another 20th century word) I am looking at the face of my own mortality. That’s what I will look like eventually. So will you. Is it fair? Of course not. Ageing can be slowed but will only cease when we do.
The best we ordinary citizens can hope for is an active life, good health care and a reasonably good digestive tract. After all, I can hide away, I can grow old without someone shoving a camera in my face and asking me about a 1980s indiscretion I can’t even remember.
Hmm… I vaguely recall that night when…
Captain’s Log, Star Date—oops, wrong ship.
In a city far, far away, a young couple finished their late night coffee. They strolled past the refurbished Regent Theatre cinema complex where earlier they had been unlucky not to get tickets to see the star-studded Australian premiere opening of the latest greatest movie, that box office smash, the record breaking 1980 “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back” still in-session behind closed doors.
A cool August night in Brisbane City and the main street, Queen Street, was quiet. Back then it was a through road not a pedestrian mall, no trees in planters, no CCTV, no security patrols, no shops open, just dull street lighting and carparks which closed before midnight.
Apart from her shoulder pads slipping, the young woman had to adjust her big fluffy hairdo every time she was pitched forward when her high heels jammed in the brickwork pavement. As the couple reminisced on some of the amazing sci-fi special effects they had seen in the first Star Wars movie, a doorman (possibly the manager) said “Good night, gentlemen.”
This young couple turned and saw a short man and a tall man (both in tuxedos) walk through a side door of the closed cinema and step onto the pavement in front of them. These two gentlemen looked left and right, assessed the situation and while not exactly puzzled, they obviously expected to see a limousine waiting.
Dazed, the young couple stopped and smiled at them. The taller of the two men, who looked remarkably like Billy Dee Williams, aka Lando Calrissian, smiled back and said “Is it always this quiet around here?”
The young woman nodded.
She wanted to say “As soon as the pubs and cinemas close here’s nothing for it but go home.”
The young man said “There are usually some after-parties. You could try Lennons.”
The shorter man, Mark Hamill, aka Luke Skywalker, laughed. “Maybe that’s where we’re headed.” Seconds later a small dark blue car zoomed down the street and pulled in beside the group.
“That’s our ride,” said Mark, “nice to meet you.” He opened the back door of the car and hopped inside. He gave the couple a cheery wave and turned to speak to the driver.
The Lando Calrissian look-alike (possibly bodyguard) shook the young man’s hand and said “Great little town you got here” and he opened the car door and sat in the front seat. Before he shut the door, he added “Have a good night.”
The couple responded by returning the remark, feeling silly and star-struck. They stood like statues until the vehicle and its celebrity cargo disappeared into the night. At that point, they turned to each other and shouted “Yippee!” and proceeded to make happy noises like “Wow” and “Can you believe it?” and “That was Luke Skywalker!”
This couple had met and spoken to Mark Hamill, and a man who looked curiously like rogue Lando Calrissian. What a bonus, right outside the movie theatre where they had yet to see the Brisbane screening of “The Empire Strikes Back”, a George Lucas film franchise destined to spawn an empire of its own.
The young couple, er, mainly the woman, squealed “Wait till the others hear about this!”
This second instalment of the original Star Wars trilogy features Luke, a Tatooine farmboy who rose from humble beginnings to become one of the greatest Jedi the galaxy has ever known, and Lando who is introduced as an old friend of Han Solo.Newspaper archives report the Brisbane premiere was Saturday 2nd August 1980 and other States followed.
My point being?
In September 2021 Mark Hamill will be 70, and in April 2021 Billy Dee Williams will be 84—and that is “Senior” class.
Where did the time go?
I will have to find the phone number for Dr Who’s call box.
ABC News and Lucasfilm are both part of parent company Disney.
Radio personality Laurel of Radio 4KQ had a similar encounter that night. As a teen, Laurel was inside the Regent Theatre with autograph book at the ready. Her experience was more tangible than mine but nevertheless both memorable moments.
Spreaker Podcast of Laurel meeting Mark Hamill back in 1980.
Lamb House is one very interesting residence! And it is uncommon to find such architecture in Brisbane still intact.
Lamb House needs restoration.
A heritage-listed villa, Lamb House is situated at 9 Leopard Street, Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. It was designed by Alexander Brown Wilson and built from c.1902 to c.1908. It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 21 October 1992 and has been languishing unattended ever since.
Brisbane City Council is proposing amendments to some of its citywide provisions in Brisbane City Plan 2014 (City Plan) and submissions are now open for Major amendment package K – Lamb House. Council has opened consultation for Lamb House character protection.
Queensland Heritage Register states that “Lamb House, erected c.1902, is a rare surviving example of a grand, intact Federation period residence in the Brisbane district” and this Wikipedia entry practically screams Period Drama—
“Lamb House is a large, two-storeyed, red brick residence with a multi-gabled roof clad in terracotta tiles. Conspicuously situated above the Kangaroo Point Cliffs at the southern end of the suburb, overlooking the South Brisbane and Town reaches of the Brisbane River…”
“Queen Anne influences are evident in the timber and roughcast gable infill designs, the ornate cement mouldings to the entrance portico-cum-observation tower, and the elaborate chimney stacks and tall terracotta chimney pots.”
“The original plans indicate vestibule and stairwell, dining, drawing and morning rooms, kitchen and service areas on the ground floor, and six bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor.” Plus “The residence has substantial grounds with mature trees and gardens.”
The proposed changes to Lamb House (situated on Leopard and Wild Streets, Kangaroo Point with a stunning view of the Brisbane River, city botanical gardens and CBD) support Council’s commitment to protect the unique character of Brisbane, considering the property’s local landmark identity, and the character and streetscape values of the area.
These proposed changes include:
Zoning changes to lots held by Lamb House to become Character residential (Character zone precinct)
Updates to overlay maps to apply the Traditional building character overlay.
Adding the Significant Landscape tree overlay to the weeping figs on the lots on Leopard Street, Kangaroo Point.
Please consider making a submission because community input is vital for informing major amendments toCity Plan;andBrisbane City Councilis now seeking feedback on the proposed changes. You canHAVE YOUR SAYand submissions must be received by 11.59pm on Sunday 13 December 2020.
Residents can talk to a Council planner to ask questions or seek clarification on the proposed changes. Register for a free Talk to a Planner session from 23 to 25 November 2020 at these locations:
Lamb House, built in 1902 for Queen Street draper John Lamb (one half of Edwards & Lamb Emporium specialising in Drapery, Millinery, etc) is still owned by the Lamb family, Joy Lamb. Heritage-listed Lamb House and surrounding gardens are well worth preserving in my opinion. It might make up for the destructive Joh Bjelke-Petersen era and the wrought iron lace which disappeared during the midnight demolition of the landmark Bellevue Hotel in 1979, and give Brisbane a proper past for the future to appreciate.
DEAR READER, IF HISTORICALLY INCLINED, PLEASE CONTACT BRISBANE CITY COUNCIL. I ADORE OLD HERITAGE LISTED BUILDINGS – THEY MUST BE PRESERVED. BUT I HAVE NO CONNECTION WITH DECISIONS REGARDING LAMB HOUSE. I WATCH FUTURE EVENTS WITH INTEREST, AND SINCERELY HOPE THIS UNIQUE OLD HOME CAN BE REVIVED. GBW 2020.
After reading Lucy V Hay’s two informative books “Writing and Selling Thriller Screenplays” and “How NOT to Write Female Characters” the next logical step was to subscribe to her website and learn more.
The first thing I noticed was that Lucy is very active and her site holds a plethora of information. Then I was delighted to receive a free copy of The Lynmouth Stories, three of Lucy’s short stories titled “In Plain Sight”, “Killing Me Softly” and “Hell and High Water”, twisters which certainly pack a psychological punch.
Here’s what it says on her website—
Lucy is an author and script editor, living in Devon with her husband, three children and six cats. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin (2015) both starring Danny Dyer. See Lucy’s IMDB page HERE and other movies and short films she’s been involved in, HERE.
In addition to script reading and writing her own novels, Lucy also blogs about the writing process, screenwriting, genre, careers and motivation and much more at her blog Bang2write, one of the most-hit writing sites in the UK. Sign up for updates from B2W and receive a free 28 page ebook (PDF) on how NOT to write female characters, HERE or click the pic on her website.
ADDENDUM—For a free copy of The Lynmouth Stories and more, join Lucy’s EMAIL LIST—My post heading comes from the title of Lucy’s email CRIMINALLY GOOD where she interviews fellow crime writers and asks them five questions. She says “It’s fascinating to read their answers, especially as they are all so different!” Today I have the choice of Ian Rankin, Sophie Hannah or Peter James. GBW.
RECENTLY I was fortunate enough to take a pleasant stroll in a modest yet important piece of parkland. From 1916 to the present day, ANZAC Park is one of the oldest ANZAC parks in the world – a war memorial and a green space for everyone.
I HAVE visited ANZAC Park on and off for many years and have seen some old trees removed and new ones planted, the circular roadway improved, a dog parkinstalled, children’s area expanded, the duck lagoon which overflows or dries up depending on the seasons and, of course, enjoyed many picnics sitting on a tartan rug on the sloping hillside away from the hum of the city.
APPROXIMATELY 15 minutes or 7km from Brisbane CBD, in times gone by it was a day’s outing at the end of the tram line. It is opposite the significant landmarks of Toowong Cemetery and Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, linked by the Toowong pedestrian and cycle bridge recently named Canon Garland Overpass.
More on Canon Garland further down . . .
ANZAC is the acronym formed from the initial letters of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. This was the formation in which Australian and New Zealand soldiers in Egypt were grouped before the landing on Gallipoli in April 1915 during the First World War.
THE CONFLICT commemorated in ANZAC Park is the First World War 1914–1918 and memorial types were Garden/Avenue/Tree. Inscriptions within the park consisted of small brass and metal plaques located in front of memorial trees, bearing the details of local men from the district who died at Gallipoli and on the Western Front. No plaques remain today nor is there a stone monument.
YEARS of petitioning from a community-based campaign to honour the memory of Anglican clergyman and military chaplain Canon David Garland, the Queenslander who gave ANZAC Day to the world, culminated in the renaming of the pedestrian and cycle bridge which crosses the busy Western Freeway. Officially named Canon Garland Overpass, it pays tribute to the man who championed the formation of “ANZAC Day” as our nation’s “All Souls’ Day”.
This photo was taken as I walked across the bridge – a safe yet disconcerting experience.
AFTER A LIFETIME of service to the community, Canon Garland (1864–1939) was buried across the road in Toowong Cemetery, not far fromThe Stone of Remembrance and The Sword of Sacrifice. The official unveiling of these two memorials makes stirring reading. On 25 April 1924, they were unveiled by the Governor-General as Australia’s first “national” ANZAC Memorial, thanks to the tireless efforts of Canon Garland.
FROM ITS POSITION on the corner of Wool Street and Dean Street, and Mt Coot-tha Road, Toowong, ANZAC Park has easy access to places mentioned above as well as bushland walks and picnic areas withinMt Coot-tha Reserve.
JUST TO CONFUSE things, an ANZAC monument stands in Toowong Memorial Park, a heritage-listed memorial park at 65 Sylvan Road, Toowong, City of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The Toowong War Memorial is composed of brown Helidon freestone and was built to commemorate those men of the district who died in service or were killed in action in World War One. It was designed by George Rae and built c.1922 by Toowong monumental stonemasons Andrew Lang Petrie & Sons. It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register in September 2007. This monument sits on a hill and has twelve small stone pillars around it.
I am writing this post on 1st September 2020, the first day of Spring, so time to get outside and breathe that fresh air – don’t forget the picnic rug!
Magpies in Australia are well-known for swooping humans and pets during their breeding season between July and December, but peak swooping month is September in Brisbane. This is normal defensive behaviour in springtime as the birds are trying to protect their eggs or newly hatched young in the nest.
Walk the long way home! Swooping season can be a nuisance to some people, but often Magpies will accept the presence of people within their territories (they do get to know human families) however when attacks do occur, they usually take place within a hundred metre radius around the tree containing their nest.
I know from experience that a sudden rush of wings and a sharp, snapping beak at the side of your head is a very scary thing.
While most Magpie attacks are mild, they could cause serious injury to your eyes and head. Seven tips to protect yourself against swooping birds:
(1) Wear a hat or carry an umbrella
(2) Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes
(3) Do not interfere with the birds or their nest
(4) Watch the birds while walking away quickly and calmly
(5) A bird is less likely to swoop if it knows you’re watching
(6) If you ride a bike, dismount and walk
(7) Never aggravate a Magpie as this can make the bird defensive and lead to a more severe swooping attack next time.
Some people paint big eyes on their bike helmets or stick drinking straws on their hats to repel Magpies, but I’m not sure these ideas work. Wearing head protection stops wayward claws from tangling in hair.
Magpies are vocal birds with a carolling call. They adapt well to open and cleared environments and thrive in large areas of lawn (like parks, golf course, school grounds) which provide foraging sites, and where there are scattered trees available for nesting, and a water source.
Usually Magpies eat garden pests and insects but they are inventive when it comes to cat food. In my photo sequence this one peered into the car scrounging for a snack.
The nest of a Magpie is bowl-shaped and made from dry sticks with a lining of grass, bark and other fibres. The clutch size is usually around three to four blue-grey eggs, though this varies according to season, predators and health of the parents. Magpie lifespan is about 25 years and I have had two hanging around my place for several years. Both parents raise their young and guard their territory and they are a natural part of my outdoor life.
PLEASE NOTE The Australian Magpie (Cracticus tibicen) is a native Australian bird and is PROTECTED under the State Wildlife Legislation (Nature Conservation Act 1992). It is a serious offence to harm Magpies and penalties apply for attempting to harm them. Information Brisbane City Council Biodiversity Living with Wildlife.
Australia was once a continent graced by flamingos. These tall pink birds are more associated with Africa and the Americas, but a long time ago they called Australia home. For at least 20 million years, flamingos thrived on vast Australian inland lakes, until a drying of the outback ended their reign, perhaps a million years ago.
The Lake Eyre region in South Australia once had three species, more than Africa today. Altogether Australia had at least six flamingo species, including the Greater flamingo – the main flamingo in Africa. Australian museums have accumulated more of their fossils than of some regular Australian birds such as parrots. At some sites their remains lay near those of outback crocodiles, dolphins and lungfish.
Flamingos are still regarded as Australian birds, for a very tenuous reason. In 1988 a Greater flamingo dropped in on North Keeling Island, a remote Australian territory 2750km north-west of Perth, staying a couple of months. Greater flamingos are found in Asia and southern Europe as well as Africa and this one had wandered over from India or Sri Lanka.
In Adelaide Zoo you could have seen the only flamingo left in Australia, a Chilean flamingo known warmly as ‘Chile’. She was thought to have been imported in the late 1970s. For quarantine reasons flamingos are now forbidden imports, which means that Australia is destined to become a flamingo-free zone unless another long-legged pink nomad wanders over from Asia.
After remaining dormant for approximately thirteen years, encased in a white crystalline cocoon in a test tube at the back of a bookcase, the Alien was resurrected on St George’s Day 23rd April 2020. He had patiently waited for this momentous day.
Test Tube Aliens were released in UK and Australia in late 2006. My photographs show an Alien named Samaru given as a birthday gift in 2007. Apparently there were good Aliens and bad Aliens. I certainly hope this fellow is a ‘good’ Alien because he was revealed at the height of COVID-19 pandemic.
Originally named Samaru by the manufacturer, he has been nicknamed Boris. There was no packaging or paperwork with his test tube, and apart from the now adult owner remembering throwing out a sachet of sloog (activation powder), Boris was a completely unknown quantity. First, he had to be rinsed out.
Test Tube Alien Samaru Boris appears to be fully functional and quite a sophisticated toy. Like the gift-giver, he had been forgotten long enough for creator websites to be inactive. He cannot ‘phone home’.
Invented by JKID Ltd and released by 4Kidz Inc, the following information has been sourced from:
Mike Simpson, the inventor of Test Tube Aliens, started up his own Japanese company called Mike Simpson Design. It was through hooking up with another British inventor, Matthew Bickerton back in the UK, that Simpson was able to create a new toy company called JKID and together he and Bickerton co-invented Test Tube Aliens.
QUOTE Inventor Mike Simpson said “There are six Aliens to choose from, all with names with a Japanese twist, the most obvious of which is Shako. (He’s a baddie, by the way.) Each Alien comes in a clear plastic test tube, inside which is a solid cocoon. Pour in water and the cocoon fizzes and dissolves to reveal the Alien with a visible heartbeat. They then have to be fed (with sloog) and cared for to stay alive.
“These aliens, who have liquid-and-light-sensing technologies, physically grow to fill their test tubes within the first couple of weeks of their lives.
“Enter TTA’s Web site, and the first message received reads: The Invasion Begins: From a dying world they come to our own! The better you treat ’em, the longer they live!
“Kids are encouraged to use their imagination and take responsibility. Cause and effect.
“Each Alien has its own number that can be registered and certified online. The background to each character — the story of how and why they have come to earth — place the characters in context. Children can also interact with their Alien pal online through asking questions and provoking it directly by holding it up to the flashing screen.
“TTA is the Web’s first interactive toy,” Simpson says happily.” UNQUOTE
Older websites have information on some of the Test Tube Alien clan but not specifically Samaru Boris, and he is not able to connect with the company’s disabled website. He does have Red Light meaning ‘comfortably happy’ and Green Light meaning ‘uncomfortably drowning’ as shown in my photographs. On activation, he did momentarily flash an Amber Light but the meaning of this is unknown.
To quote Alien Wiki “The evil Aliens were responsible for the destruction of Nratuatuko and pursued the five good Aliens throughout the Universe, determined not to let their quarry escape for good. However, in 2011 it was revealed that all of the Aliens were evil, including the ‘good’ Aliens. The true good Aliens were in the Test Tube Aliens X series. The Aliens wanted to be marketed in test tubes so that they would appear to be dead, they would be thrown into a rubbish bin, so that they could take over the rivers and seas of the Earth. This was followed by the release of the Test Tube Aliens: Pure Evil series, with six ‘pure evil’ Aliens.”
What TTA clan does Samaru Boris belong to? More research is needed, just in case…
He responds to movement (I found this out when I accidentally bumped him over) and light. He needs 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night-time. After this was observed, he stopped getting fast flashes and settled into a steady beat. Likewise if his water level is low, his green light will blink rapidly in distress until topped up.
The test tube is not able to be opened without breaking it. There is a small opening to drip water into the tube but sadly he is entombed for life. A quasi-humorous website claims the Alien test tube is a ‘malicious and cruel torture device’.
I am not sure of Alien growth rate but at the time of writing, May 2020, Samaru Boris is nearly four weeks old and approximately 16cm tall with antennae almost bumping the top of his test tube. He has filled out and his features are steadily becoming more defined.
He almost looks like a portly older gentleman surveying his domain.
You may know more about these Aliens; you may have raised one. Or there may be one lurking at the back of your cupboard. Perhaps your Alien is waiting to connect telepathically with Samaru Boris and together they will activate their master plan.
EPILOGUE: Sadly, I regret to advise that Samaru Boris quietly passed away on Friday 7 May 2021 just over a year from his activation. He still sits on the table in his test tube tomb, no longer blinking the minutes away, but he is still part of the family. GBW.
As part of the RSL Queensland’s ‘Light up the Dawn’ campaign, all residents are encouraged to say The Ode and take the pledge by standing in your driveway, on your balcony or in your living room at 6am on ANZAC Day to remember all those who have served. You can learn more on the link below.
In July 2020, Lady Diana, Princess of Wales, would have been 59 years old. I don’t know about you but that makes me feel old!
Like millions of others in the late 20th century, I watched Diana’s life unfold through newspapers, magazines and television.
I guess I kept these magazines as a small piece of vicarious history, a trip down memory lane. Photographs are taken from my old copies of Hello! (August 1997) The Australian Women’s Weekly (May 1998, June 2000) and Who Weekly (June 2001) in memory of the late Princess of Wales.
These days there are several ways we can view the past, or a computer-generated future. For a more mature-age Diana see link below.
The late Diana, Princess of Wales, was born The Honourable Diana Frances Spencer on Saturday, 1 July 1961, in Norfolk England. She received the title Lady Diana Spencer in 1975, when her father inherited his Earldom.
Lady Diana Spencer married Charles, The Prince of Wales, at St Paul’s Cathedral in London on Wednesday, 29 July 1981, becoming Princess of Wales. The ceremony was watched on television by millions of people around the world. As I recall her silk wedding gown looked crushed as she alighted from the royal carriage.
One warm night in April 1983 I waited beside the bitumen road as Charles and Diana left Government House, Brisbane, to travel into the city for an official function. The Rolls Royce was lit from within and I recall how Diana glowed and smiled even though the figures beyond her window would have been shadows.
During her marriage, the Princess of Wales undertook a wide range of royal duties with extensive overseas travel. Family was very important to Diana, who had two sons: Prince William and Prince Henry (Harry). After her divorce from The Prince of Wales in August 1996, the Princess continued to be regarded as a member of the Royal Family.
Post-divorce, Lady Diana filmed a controversial interview about her marriage. She died on Sunday, 31 August 1997, following a tragic car crash in Paris, believed to be caused by paparazzi chasing her vehicle through a tunnel. After purchasing the Courier-Mail newspaper, my father told me the news and I was disbelieving, shocked.
There was widespread (and world-wide) public mourning over the sudden death of Lady Diana, Princess of Wales, a hugely popular royal, culminating with her funeral at Westminster Abbey on Saturday, 6 September 1997. After the funeral, there was a long cavalcade by road to a small island on Althorp Estate, her family’s ancestral home in Northhampshire, England. The streets around my home were silent, everyone watching Diana’s last journey. It is hard to forget the funeral hearse driving past so many sad faces and billowing seas of flowers on route to her final destination.
This link shows a computer-aged photograph of Lady Diana and what she possibly could have looked like as a mature woman.
Even after her untimely death, the Princess’s work lives on in the form of commemorative charities and projects set up to help those in need. And also through her married sons Prince William, heir to the royal throne, Prince Harry, and in time their respective children.
Submissions are open for ‘Bedtime Yarns and Ballads from the Australian Bush’ in 2020 Share Your Story.
Here’s what coordinator, author and literary entrepreneur, Michelle Worthington has to say in her newsletter: ‘This year’s theme ‘Bedtime Yarns and Ballads from the Australian Bush’ will have judges looking for creative, engaging short stories or poems inspired by life in Australia, Australian animals, the Outback or overcoming adversity which will appeal to children aged 0 to 12 years to be read at bedtime.’
A ‘yarn’ is a rambling story, particularly one that is implausible, and poetry must be in traditional Australian ballad format. Michelle encourages writers to think of a modern version of Blinky Bill, Banjo Patterson, Dorothea Mackellar, ‘Wombat Stew’ (I add my own personal favourite ‘Snugglepot and Cuddlepie’) for a new generation of readers.
Michelle Worthington goes on to say ‘We would love aspiring authors of all ages to have the chance to be published in our next Anthology to raise money for Aussie’s doing it tough, with proceeds donated to the NSW Rural Fire Service’.
NOTE: ‘The winning entries will be included in an Anthology to be launched in October 2020, and all successful authors and illustrators will be invited as VIP Guests to the Pyjama Party Book Launch at the Queensland Children’s Hospital and locations around Australia during the launch month.’
Entries open 1 Feb 2020 and close 9pm 30 April 2020
For competition guidelines and entry requirements, visit the website to sign up for Share Your Story newsletter
Michelle Worthington is an international award-winning author and business woman. As Founder of Share Your Story Australia, she waves her wand to coach aspiring authors and illustrators all over the world to achieve their dreams of publication. Michelle is also available for speaking engagements, book signings and school visits. She runs diverse workshops, and if you are thinking of becoming a writer, check out Share Your Story or visit Facebook or contact Michelle for further information.