Nominate your Favourite Old Fossil

Dinosaur fantasy sequence taken in garden © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

That doesn’t mean your grandfather!

Some of the nominees are dinosaurs. My family has always been fascinated by dinosaurs. From books, movies, kids series to figurines, they have loomed large in our home for many years. Now Queenslanders of all ages have the opportunity to help choose the 10th official State emblem, a fossil—it doesn’t have to be a dinosaur.

Choosing a Fossil Emblem

There are 12 fossil candidates lined up for the honour of being our State’s newest emblem. “Did you know in the Early Cretaceous Period, inland seas covered much of Outback Queensland? This means that Queensland has some of the most exciting fossil museums, dinosaur trails and discovery centres in the world, including the internationally renowned fossil sites of the Riversleigh World Heritage Area.

“Outback Queensland towns like Hughenden, Richmond and Winton are on Australia’s Dinosaur Trail, and many other Outback areas such as Eromanga, Eulo and Quilpie regularly attract fossil hunters and dinosaur lovers.”

All Shapes and Sizes

I am surprised that as well as featuring large prehistoric creatures, the endearing platypus is on the list, and Lovellea wintonensis, the oldest known permineralised fossil flower (which dinosaurs munched on).

Select your preference for Queensland’s newest fossil emblem—

Visit the website
View the illustrations
Read the history
Click a million years in the making!

Nominations close Sunday 10 July 2022

https://campaigns.premiers.qld.gov.au/fossilemblem/

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Fossil Diamantinasaurus matildae – Sauropod bones from a billabong https://campaigns.premiers.qld.gov.au/fossilemblem/

Postscript: I m-i-g-h-t have voted for a dinosaur…

Anzac Day 2022

Anzac Day remembrance © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

LEST WE FORGET

Anzac Day commemorations will take place on Monday 25 April 2022 across Australia, and at the Australian War Memorial’s Sculpture Garden, marking the 107th anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli.

This Anzac Day also marks the 80th anniversary of Anzac Day commemorations at the Memorial.

This year’s commemorative program will include: 

5.30 am     Dawn Service
9.30 am     RSL (ACT Branch) Veterans’ March
4.45 pm     Last Post Ceremony

Australian War Memorial, Canberra https://www.awm.gov.au/

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Levels of Editing ‘Sending Your Book Baby Out Into The World’

My special guest Cate Whittle, author, teacher, speaker, offers her advice and experience on how to fine-tune your manuscript before submission to a publisher.

Cate’s literary expertise covers workshops, writing courses, book launches, school visits and video tutorials—watch out below for her special MANUSCRIPT ASSESSMENT offer—but first sit back, relax, read

‘On the Fine Art of Sending Your Book Baby Out into the World’

by

Cate Whittle


Congratulations! You’ve made it—from those first tentative words that broke the curse of the blank page, to the carefully woven ending—you’ve finished your book! 

What now?  

First – bask.  

This is an important moment and really deserves celebrating. So many would-be writers never get this far. So celebrate. 

While you are celebrating, the manuscript is resting.  

You know that.  

And you know that you come back to it with fresh eyes to read through and self-edit to make it the best you possibly can. And you know that there will be a multitude of drafts before you say, ‘This is it!’ 

And then you send it out to the likeliest looking publisher or three? 

Bzzt. Wrong. 

This can be the falling point for soooo many little fledgling books.  

For its first forays out of the nest, there are so many things you can do before you subject it to the scrutiny of an actual publisher.  

Allow me to make some suggestions. 

Let me call this Levels of Editing

It is up to you whether you employ all or some of these levels of editing—or whether you feel happy to trust to yourself in some regards—and certainly, you will be editing with your publisher if your work is acquired by a traditional publishing house, but it is always good to be close to all the way there before you approach a publisher. And if you are self-publishing… you’d be well-advised to spend the money. 

One:

Was your self-editing.

Focus in on structure and consistency, make sure your opening grabs the reader and your writing flows easily and is paced well. Look at tension and relief. Are your characters believable? Does the setting work? Is your ending satisfying—and does it work for your genre? 

Two:

Might be your Mum or a Trusted Other.

This is usually good for a feel-good glow (which is great for your confidence), but do not pressure this relationship with a request for honesty. Do not. Enjoy the feel-good glow and move to the next stage. 

Three:

Your critique group.  

Yes, join one. Participate. I cannot recommend more highly this collegiate learning and sharing. Even J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (peripherally Dorothy L Sayers) and those other guys who no-one remembers, all benefited from sharing their work in their Inklings literary circle.  

But be aware that this, too, has its limitations. Perhaps you do not work in the same genre so they may not understand all the tropes and symbolism in your text (I speak—lovingly—from the experience of teaching my critique group friends about fantasy). Perhaps you are all learning together. Perhaps your critique partners are unwilling or unable to offer critical feedback. 

Where to from here then? 

Four:

Manuscript assessment.  

Strictly speaking, this is NOT editing per se. This is where a reader with some experience goes through your manuscript and offers feedback as objectively as possible (although not entirely—reading anything is a subjective and individual process).

A good manuscript assessor will provide a general commentary on: 

* Voice, point of view, description, and setting 

* Characters 

* Plot/structure 

* Punctuation, spelling, grammar, and vocabulary

* Audience/market 

* Anything you have specific queries about (e.g. does my opening hook work?) 

A manuscript assessment can be completed on a partial text (I offer commentary on the opening three chapters and a synopsis) to keep costs down, or on a complete text. This is your impartial reader who has some experience in the field, giving you their reaction to your book. 

Manuscript assessments are often offered by editors as a first pass through your story, to let you know whether you are ready to go further. Published writers, or established teachers or librarians with a strong background in the literary process. 

It’s a good starting point without investing a huge amount in the early stages of polishing your text. You should come away with some good ideas about how to develop your work further. Sometimes you can enter into a story coach arrangement with your assessor—but this is a whole extra field. 

Five:

Story coach.  

This is like engaging a manuscript assessor several times over a period of time, reworking and reassessing scenes together to make sure that your story is powerful and ready for the next stage of editing. Check with your manuscript assessor if they are willing to enter into such an arrangement before you start.  

N.B: If you are writing non-fiction, this is the level where you might seek out a professional content editor to make sure your information is correct and presented in a way that flows. 

Working with a manuscript assessor or a story coach gets you ready for the hard stuff. From hereon it can get intense! 

Six:

Structural Editing

Similar to a manuscript assessment but at a deeper level, this is usually undertaken to evaluate your characters, plot, and setting, and ensures that your narrative flows smoothly and your scenes work to move the story forward. It will look at how your chapters sit and whether they could be arranged differently to make the story more powerful. 

Seven:

Line editing.  

This is a skilled task that is best done by a trained professional editor. You may have already engaged an editor for your first assessment, but often this is an opportunity to let another set of eyes go through your work.  

Line editing evaluates and offers corrections for the tone, style, and consistency of your work. While a good line edit will also check basic spelling, punctuation, and grammar, for a more complete overview of these mechanics of writing you would be moving to a copy edit. 

Eight:

Copy editing.  

Again, this is a job for a professional editor. This is all about your spelling and punctuation. This is all about getting your grammar correct. This is all about your word choices (do you need adverbs or will a stronger verb make your writing tighter?), how you lay out your text (paragraphing), minimising repetition or jargon, and weeding out redundancies.  

All without losing your voice.

 

Nine:

Proofreading.  

Except proofreading is also NOT editing. By the time you are proofreading all that is done. This is like a final going over to make sure you have dotted all your Ts and crossed all your Is…  

This is checking formatting and consistency one final time, and finding those last minute, glaring typos. You can stick to your professional editor for this—or find yourself a professional reader. Your manuscript assessor might be good for this, but make sure they know it is a proofreading exercise. Now is NOT the time to come up with suggestions for a whole different structure. 

Ten:

Okay, breathe. 

While all this has been happening, I’m sure you have been researching your publishers for the right fit. Don’t forget to check their submission guidelines and follow their rules—and now you can press GO. 

Good luck! May your fledgling fly true and straight and find a home out there (whether you go via a traditional publisher or decide to go Indie). 

———————————-

Thank you, Cate, for such enlightening information!
Gretchen Bernet-Ward

SPECIAL OFFER

Personal note from Cate 

In the spirit of celebrating 61 Years Since 1961, I’m currently offering manuscript assessments at only 61% of my usual going price.

This offer closes on 3rd April 2022, BUT if you have something in the wings and would like to purchase an assessment at this price and take a rain check on the assessment until you are ready, just drop me a line cate@catewhittlewrites.com   

I’m currently offering an assessment on the first three chapters (to 10,000 words maximum) on your Junior Fiction (which probably shouldn’t be this long!) or Middle Grade manuscript for AU$110. Alternatively you can contact me for my price schedule for a full manuscript.

Any questions?
To find out more ‘On the Fine Art of Sending Your Book Baby Out into the World’ contact Cate cate@catewhittlewrites.com

Helpful links:

Cate Whittle : author website

Cate Whittle : Q & A

Teachers Notes

Blog posts:
Towering Statues and Weeping Angels
Tips on the Writing Life

Book info:
‘Emergency Rescue Angel’ Angus and Robertson Bookstore

‘Wyrd’ Dymocks Bookstore and Shaye’s Book Launch

‘Trouble Dragon’ Series Teachers Notes

Reading Wales #Dewithon22 has Arrived!

This will be my fourth Reading Wales #dewithon and I am excited at the list of Welsh authors and poets which Book Jotter has assembled to tempt our reading taste buds.

Source one book, source ten!
Create your own list!
See my list!
Join in Reading Wales!

Currently I have six books on a waiting list at my local library because it will be easier to collect them rather than hanging around waiting for an interstate or overseas parcel delivery.

I hold Covid-19 responsible and also a catastrophic flood which swept down the Queensland coast, through my city of Brisbane (everything is still soaked) and pounded coastal New South Wales before heading towards Sydney. Notice how I worked in the word ‘Wales’?

A MESSAGE FROM THE CREATOR
BOOK JOTTER, PAULA BARDELL-HEDLEY

Welcome to the fourth Reading Wales celebration (aka Dewithon 22), a month-long event beginning on Saint David’s Day, during which book lovers from all parts of the world are encouraged to read, discuss and review literature by and about writers from Wales.

For more in-depth information on this reading jolly, head over to DHQ (Dewithon Headquarters), and to see what’s happening this year, please follow this link. You can also share your thoughts and posts on Twitter by using the hashtags #dewithon22 and/or #walesreadathon22.

____________________

  • visit DHQ Reading Wales Dewithon22 websites below.
  • click ‘On Our Shelves’ to browse Dewithoner’s suggested reading list.
  • source books relating to Wales from library, bookshop, online.
  • post a book review and tell everyone!

N.B. Dewithon22 reading includes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays, in fact anything with a significant link to Wales.

Mwynhewch ddarllen! Enjoy reading!

____________________

What have I ambitiously chosen and which are available to me?

  1. Turning Points in Welsh History 1485-1914 by Stuart Broomfield and Euryn Madoc-Jones UWP. AVAILABLE at my local library. READ
  2. Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman (because my family are dragon fans and it’s part of Welsh Princes trilogy I have always wanted to read). DOWNLOADED e-book. READ
  3. Black Valley (Jessica Mayhew book 2, couldn’t source book 1) by Charlotte Williams, a domestic drama arts thriller of some intensity. AVAILABLE in my local library. READ
  4. On the Red Hill: Where Four Lives Fell into Place by Mike Parker, a relative new book which according to The Guardian is “A moving, multi-layered memoir…extraordinary, ambitious…” ON ORDER.
  5. The Owl Service by Alan Garner was too tempting, so I’ve added it to my list. The Guardian says “…the plot is very gripping and slightly creepy.” AVAILABLE in my local library. READ
  6. Sugar and Slate by Charlotte Williams – past winner of the Arts Council of Wales Book of the Year, an autobiographical story of a Welsh-African mixed-race woman who brings her unique qualities to the story, transforming it into a lively and living account of her life. ON ORDER.

I’m keen to get started 😀 and already made some headway!

My thoughts are that I will eventually read them all—perhaps not all in March—and I am looking forward to having my mind held captive by the literati of Wales. When I put down the books and walk Terra Australis again, my reviews will be either here or Goodreads.

Looking forward to reading about what you are reading!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

#dewithon22 Can you see the hidden face in this famous Welsh painting? The answer is here https://bookjotter.com/2022/02/02/are-you-looking-forward-to-reading-wales-2022/

Romeo, Romeo, Wherefore Art Thou Gumboots?

Balcony scene © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2022

What can you see? What can you surmise from this scene?  Is it in suburbia or the mountains or maybe near the sea?

Can you name the trees? Or guess the potted plants? What time of day, or time of year, do you think the photograph was taken?

And who might live there?  Who owns those gumboots?

You could write a short story about someone who walks out onto this balcony.  Perhaps it’s the home of the Capulet family? There is a good reason why Juliet walks out onto a balcony.

Valentine’s Day is nearly here! Imagine an alternate ending. A happy, sad, good, bad or exciting scene… Writers, write about it in your own hand! Put it in an envelope and present it to your loved one.

❤️ Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Postscript: I will write my own version on traditionally the most romantic day of the year 14th February 2022.

A Red, Red Rose
by ROBERT BURNS

O my Luve is like a red, red rose

   That’s newly sprung in June;

O my Luve is like the melody

   That’s sweetly played in tune.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43812/a-red-red-rose

Happy New Year 2022

Dust off the old year and brighten up the new year 2022 @ Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Wishing you all a clearer, brighter, fresher New Year 2022.

Thank you for reading my blog.

I have enjoyed reading yours!

And books.

Here’s to another year of literary endeavour.

 Gretchen Bernet-Ward

* * * * * * *

Preview of my forthcoming Agapanthus post “From Buds to Bundles of Blooms on Sticks” @ Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

View Through a Window

View through a window © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

My photograph of the window (and view to Mt Coot-tha on an overcast day) was taken from Royal Queensland Art Society building on Petrie Terrace, Brisbane.

I don’t know the age of this window but the visual wobble was initially disconcerting until my eyes worked out what was going on! GBW

It wasn’t until afterwards that I saw the bubbles in the glass pane following my visit to the RQAS portrait exhibition.  In this case, the bubbles clustered together are called ‘seed bubbles’ and enhance the old-fashioned charm of the window.

Bubbles in old glass bottles and windows are actually air pockets that became trapped during the manufacturing process. True air bubbles are rare in glass produced after 1920, so the presence of a bubble may help to date a bottle or window.

Crude glass almost always contains bubbles, which often adds to its appeal and value among collectors.  Apparently collectors do not view bubbles as ‘flawed’ or ‘damage’ and some even prefer bubbles because they add to the visual appeal of the glass.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Vase ‘Reef’ 1995 by Chris Pantano, Australia. Hot-worked glass striated blue and aqua with multi-coloured cane inclusions; the base with glass, foil and air bubble inclusions. This vase is from Pantano’s ‘Great Barrier Reef’ series displayed at Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane. Photograph © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2018

Old Masterpieces from New York to Brisbane

Finally reached the end of the queue © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

On a sunny Friday morning, waiting to enter GOMA Queensland’s Gallery of Modern Art, I did not photograph the great long queue of people. However, there were no privacy issues, every single person was wearing a mask. Patiently observing restrictions, we were all determined to view the European Masterpieces exhibition on loan from The Met, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Once inside, after a quick squirt of lavender hand-sanitiser, directions from the highly organised gallery staff were followed, and metered groups were ushered through the necessary sign-in to enter a specially designed viewing area. I say ‘area’ but it was more like roaming around inside someone’s home. Admittedly a large home with muted lighting and grey walls but it was what hung on those walls that definitely became awe-inspiring.

The galleries were split into three groups:

1. Devotion and Renaissance

2. Absolutism and Enlightenment

3. Revolution and Art for the People

From Giovanni di Paolo (Paradise, 1445) to Claude Monet (Water Lilies, 1916) I have written a quick overview of my visit—and I only took a handful of photographs. There are 65 works of art on display, and so famous they do not need my documentation.

Deep down I have to confess that the age and history of many of the paintings captured my attention more than the artwork itself. Scary moments frozen in time, dramatic posturing, gloomy scenes were not the order of the day for me. I loved the works with life and action and, let’s face it, realism.

French painter Georges de La Tour’s work ‘The Fortune Teller’ (see main entrance photo above) finally made sense to me when I saw it for real. It’s not about the old fortune teller at aLL.

GBW 2021

I liked the ‘essence’ of Lady Smith (Charlotte Delaval) and her children George, Louisa and Charlotte, in this family portrait where she appears lost in thought while her children tussle beside her, glancing at the viewer. The portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds (England) was commissioned by Lady Smith’s husband, a baronet and member of Parliament. Expressing cultural ideals of femininity and upper-class childhood, this work was a popular exhibit at the Royal Academy in 1787 the year it was painted.

I wandered past El Greco, Rubens, Caravaggio, Vermeer, Goya, Rembrandt, Renoir, et al, and was drawn towards the sound of violin music. I left the dimmed rooms and walked into a brightly lit area where a lone violinist was playing. He finished with a flourish and an elderly gentleman and myself clapped enthusiastically but he appeared a tad embarrassed, nodded his thanks and exited the stage.

Directly behind me was The Studio, a long gallery set out with still life objects for the budding artist to create a modern masterpiece. There is a Renaissance backdrop for live models at special times. My eyes were drawn to the interactive displays and ‘paintings’ which brought the original art to life. Shades of Harry Potter, both clever and spooky!

The theatrette was not heavily patronised and after hearing the big bosses talk, I decided to seek out one of my favourite colourful artists and that is Paul Gauguin (France 1848-1903). His ‘Tahitian Landscape, 1892’ is smaller and less vibrant than I expected. A pleasant rural scene (below left) but not his usual tropical effervescence.

Claude Monet (France 1840-1926) and his sombre ‘Water Lilies’ wished me bon voyage and I was back into the real world.

As any person who frequents an exhibition knows, the exit is via the gift shop. This low-key store had some nice items but I wasn’t feeling it. The Library Café was looking inviting.

When I thought about the great works of art I had just seen, I pondered which one I could single out, which one I thought was the cream of the crop. The pleb in me rather enjoyed a large 1670 work by Jan Steen (Netherlands) ‘Merry Company on a Terrace’ for its rich vibes and domestic disorder. The original is bigger and brighter than the image (above right) shown here.

I think perhaps Covid-19 had something to do with the way I responded to the Met Masterpieces… and it was interesting to see how each century lightened the mood.

GBW 2021

To quote architect and designer Frank Lloyd Wright (1867 – 1959) “Respect the masterpiece, it is true reverence to man. There is no quality so great, none so much needed now.”

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

—–European Masterpieces—–

12 June 2021 – 17 October 2021
GOMA | Gallery 1.1 The Fairfax Gallery, Gallery 1.2, Gallery 1.3 Eric & Marion Taylor Gallery | Ticketed

https://www.qagoma.qld.gov.au/whats-on/exhibitions/european-masterpieces

Happy galley visitors © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

Forevability New Database for Empowering Tales

I received an email from Michelle Worthington of Authors Online who wrote “Tabitha Page has been working hard on a new venture which I am excited to share with you. Tabitha, children’s author and disability advocate, is currently setting up an online database under the name Forevability, where she is compiling as many books as she can for children through to young adults which have the following themes:

Disability
Illness
Medical conditions
Medical Procedures
Anxiety
Sensory
Bullying
Diverse
Own voice
Inclusion
Grief/Death/Loss

“Tabitha is also looking for books by authors and illustrators who have a disability or illness themselves, and she plans to have a showcase page of their work.”

“In addition to these resources and showcases, Tabitha will also be compiling a database of podcasts/videos/blogs/articles related to the same categories as noted above” and aims to make Forevability an easy place to find books, podcasts and more.”

“The goal of this project is to create an online space where people can find resources when they face challenges…”

Michelle Worthington

Visit the website under construction and explore the possibilities for your work http://www.forevability.org/

Tabitha Page says “We hope to inspire, empower, teach and support”.

If you have a book, or books, which would make a good match for Forevability database, or you are an author or illustrator who has a disability or illness, check to see if your book fits one of the categories in the guidelines on the website and make a submission.

Hey, you can find out more about the dynamic book fairy Michelle Worthington here.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Stanthorpe Autumn Insights Part Two

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!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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.

Visitors Guide https://southerndownsandgranitebelt.com.au/

Stanthorpe Autumn Insights Part One

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.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

My Taste Tester for Wales Readathon 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—

https://www.visitwales.com/things-do/culture/welsh-poets-authors-welsh-artists

Dylan Thomas

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.

There’s even a giant peach commemorating Roald Dahl’s eponymous children’s story.

Roald Dahl was born in Llandaff, Cardiff.

Caernarfon Castle

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.

Have a look at Book Jotter’s Wales Readathon 2021 for information, or find out more about the literary greats of Wales and post your review for the Readathon.

You might learn a few wise Welsh words to whip into your next literary conversation!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Wales Readathon in March #Dewithon21

Host a ‘Great Book Swap’ 2021


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.”

REGISTER NOW

Holding the Great Book Swap brought us together as a team, we had a chance to share our love of reading and raise money for an excellent cause.”—-Alice Dickins, Heide Museum of Modern Art.

Thank you for your support.

Happy swapping!

Karen Williams
Executive Director.
“READING OPENS DOORS”
SIGN UP FOR THE NEWSLETTER
Indigenous Literacy Foundation
https://www.indigenousliteracyfoundation.org.au/


I reckon swapping could work for little Street Libraries with a BBQ and live music 🙂

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

It’s March – Get Set for Wales Readathon 2021

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…

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Book Jotter

DEWITHON PLANNER 2021

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…

View original post 610 more words

Google Upsets and My Star Wars Encounter

Google upsets me on a regular basis.

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?”

Brave little Storm Trooper wandered onto the wrong film set © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

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!”

There was not another living soul, or car or bus, on Queen Street with them. It didn’t even matter that they had no pen or paper for autographs, it didn’t even matter why that famous young star was leaving the venue early, and it certainly didn’t matter that mobile phones and instant video were many years away.

Star Wars Encounter 1980

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.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


A rare look into the private life of US actor Mark Hamill
https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Culture/rare-glimpse-family-life-star-wars-icon-mark/story?id=54366947

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.

My Festive Season Images

  1. Christmas elf carrying a very big glass flower.

  2.  Chirpy Christmas birds say it all.

  3.  Life is a bowl of Christmas cherries.

  4.  King Parrot eating its way through mini pine cones on conifer tree.

  5.  The four books I am reading over Christmas and New Year holidays.

  6.  Wishing you a very merry Christmas and an excellent New Year 2021.

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Home-made shortbread with royal icing, decorated with cherry and cranberry bits, lemon thyme leaves and dusted with icing sugar. Image © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2020

Thank you so very much for reading my blog
Wishing you good health and happiness
Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Save and Restore Lamb House

Lamb House is one very interesting residence!  And it is uncommon to find such architecture in Brisbane still intact.

StateLibQld_1_110380_Home,_also_known_as_Lamb_House,_Kangaroo_Point,_Brisbane,_ca._1904, B&W image held by John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12662188

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.”

Lamb House Kangaroo Point Brisbane Queensland 01
Lamb House, Kangaroo Point, colour image by Unknown author – State of Queensland: Queensland Heritage Register: Home, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53132101

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 to City Plan; and Brisbane City Council is now seeking feedback on the proposed changes.  You can HAVE YOUR SAY and 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:

For more information visit the Brisbane City Council website, email the project team, telephone Council on 07 3403 8888 or write to Strategic Planning.

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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.

Journalist Tony Moore wrote an interesting Opinion Piece with some eye-opening photographs:
https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/lamb-house-is-a-mess-but-it-could-be-a-brisbane-tourism-highlight-20200605-p5500x.html

Addendum:

Outstanding info with house and grounds images ‘Save Lamb House’ Jon Ruwolt, August 2020
https://www.federation-house.com/post/save-lamb-house

More colour images from © 2009 the foto fanatic
http://www.yourbrisbanepastandpresent.com/2009/04/lamb-house.html

If you are interested in Queensland history, visit Thom Blake Historian website
https://thomblake.com.au/index.php

Rose O’Brien takes a personal look at Queensland’s past and present
Queensland Stories https://roseobrienwriter.blog/


Lamb House Kangaroo Point Brisbane Queensland 02
Lamb House, Kangaroo Point, image from Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/LambHouseHistory/

 

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.