As we gardeners in the other half of the world, the southern hemisphere, bid a fond farewell to summer, I thought about some of the natural highlights around me.
The coffee bean tree is laden down with green berries. The agapanthus flowered abundantly for the first time in four years. The lawns are lush, the weeds are going feral. Every garden is flourishing, flowers and green foliage abound. Shrubs, hedges and trees are taller and their leaves are broader. Insects are so noisy the sound gets inside your head.
It has been a smorgasbord of a summer for the plant, animal, bird, reptile and insect domains in my suburb. Oh, and I just found out that snails are from the phylum Mollusca family. I am loathe to mention the toads but they relish the dampness at night courtesy of La Niña.
The Orchard Butterfly is our biggest and today I spied a huge one drying its wings during a brief respite between showers before fluttering free from the mandarin tree.
Scrub turkeys are getting bolder, scratching garden beds and terrorising cats. Birds generally are spoilt for choice when it comes to food and where to build a nest. But like homemakers everywhere, they have to make a good decision. The eagle-eyed hunters are watching, waiting, taking their time. Even the possums are walking more leisurely across our roof.
Actually the agapanthus have already been and gone. There was a sea of them in the back paddock but due to a computer malfunction those early photographs are not available – c’est la vie.
Birds sing at 5am, grasshoppers hop, lawnmowers til noon, cold drinks and ice-cream for arvo tea, pray for a cool breeze, clothes stick to skin, a quick swim, a light dinner, air-con fades away, windows open to humidity, can’t sleep, hoping no holes in the flyscreen, late summer storm rattles the house, memories rattle through my mind.
As the Australian pop rock band GANGgajang so lyrically sang:
“Out on the patio we’d sit, And the humidity we’d breathe, We’d watch the lightning crack over canefields. Laugh and think, this is Australia.”
Australian summertime will soon hand over the weather to autumnal March. Cooler maybe, my advice is still wear a hat and sunscreen. Speaking from experience, I personally would not participate in a fun run unless it ends at the local swimming pool. Afterwards I would never ever eat greasy takeaway food. Ah, but those hot chips with salt and vinegar…
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
** NEWSFLASH ** As I proof-read this post the city was already soaking from heavy rain and now the wet weather has continued in earnest. Day and night torrential rain has fallen, flooding large parts of Brisbane and South East Queensland causing major havoc to housing, business, roads, rivers and creeks. Sadly lives have been lost. About an hour ago we had a power failure. It is drenching, pounding rain, the air is humid, the sky dull grey. From overflowing guttering to washing away bridges, fast flowing flood waters are powerful and dangerous, carrying a multitude of unseen debris. Stay dry, stay safe. As the saying goes “If it’s flooded, forget it”. GBW 2022
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.
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.
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.”
12 June 2021 – 17 October 2021 GOMA | Gallery 1.1 The Fairfax Gallery, Gallery 1.2, Gallery 1.3 Eric & Marion Taylor Gallery | Ticketed
CROCHET is a handicraft in which yarn is made up into a textured fabric by means of a hooked needle. These public art works cover concrete blocks along the entrance driveway to Rocks Riverside Park, Seventeen Mile Rocks, Brisbane, a combined project from Crochet Clubs around the city.
A bit of background on this stunning Grey Gum eucalypt I photographed during an afternoon walk.
Eucalyptus propinqua Grey Gum MYRTACEAE
Known as Grey Gum but there are many eucalypt trees given this name on the east coast of Australia, because there are rather a lot of grey gums. About half a dozen are members of the Grey Gum Group – rather obviously named for their grey bark. All members of the group are prized for the strength and durability of their timber, and in the early days of European settlement were heavily logged for use in construction.
The tree can appear to be a small mallee in tougher sites where the soil doesn’t quite suit, but on the Central Coast of New South Wales it is generally a beautiful tall, elegant tree, 35 metres or so high, with a tall, straight cylindrical trunk.
The name, Grey Gum, is a giveaway in what to look out for in the tree, but in February each year they can surprise. Most of the time the trunks are a rather uniform, granular surfaced, mottled grey, but once a year the bark is shed in slabs and displays new colours, ranging from pale cream to light orange.
Then, more occasionally, when the rainfall has been heavy over spring and summer, the same process is carried out – but this time displaying a most vivid orange trunk.
This gumtree seems to like being perched on the side of a hill in the suburbs of Brisbane.
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.
Suburban shopping centre covered in moths after drought-breaking rains. Warm humid conditions released flora, fauna and insects which burst forth in a delayed exhibition of springtime in Brisbane.
My apologies if you have ‘Mottephobia’.
INFORMATION : This activity is unusual. Could these small arthropod insects with feelers, six legs and one pair of wings be a Dry Leaf Looper Moth? More at home in leaf-litter under trees? The images shown on the website (below) are similar moths to the ones I have photographed and were found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.
I attended a special viewing of the Greek café phenomenon ‘Meet Me At The Paragon’. This new exhibition features the history of Greek milk bars in Queensland and their importance within local communities.
When I entered the Heritage Learning Collections Room on Level 4 of State Library of Queensland, I was greeted by a table laden with food, from savoury snacks to desserts like baklava and sugar-powdered shortbread with drinks on the side. Heaven!
‘Meet Me At The Paragon’ explores the creation of American-style cafés which helped Greek migrants of the early to mid-1900s to start a new life in such a different land. The Paragon Café in Dalby, Queensland, was a meeting place for all ages to enjoy a malted milkshake or a sweet treat. The State Library of Queensland invited me to experience The Greek Café Phenomenon and learn true stories of the families who owned and operated them.
This old poster is pretty self-explanatory. When I was small, I remember my mother buying me a small ‘brick’ of Peter’s ice-cream wrapped in white wax paper and sandwiching it between two square wafers. Crunchy and creamy at the same time! I think that Smak ice-cream stick is hilarious; at first I thought it said Smoke because it looks rather like a cigarette.
Isn’t this incredible! When I was a kid, we owned a small single milkshake mixer with an aluminium cup. We had paper straws so needed to drink fast before the straw started to collapse. The taste was cool, creamy and delicious. This machine can mix times-three!
My memories of drinking in a milk bar are hazy but I recall tall glasses of foaming milk and strawberry ice-cream. This photograph of Christie’s café (Brisbane) spanned a whole wall and people took selfies which looked like they were really there #slqGreekCafes
Here is the informative Curator who guided us around the exhibits. In this room there is a cute waitress’ pinafore preserved in a glass case. It appeared to be made of heavy white cotton and in excellent condition considering its age. I doubt the wearer managed a full day’s work without getting a small stain or two!
This Golden Gate Café had a quaint yet welcoming shopfront. In the Golden Gate Café in Winton, Australia, a passing sailor left behind a macaw which became the lifelong companion of the proprietor. Or so the story goes. Brisbane, Australia, was a base for American servicemen during World War II and signs like this made them feel welcome.
Aren’t these three dudes handsome! Unfortunately I did not get the gentlemen’s names nor do I know where their portrait was taken. I viewed them in the White Gloves document section of the exhibition. Later I discovered one fellow is the uncle of Chris Zavros.
I met Greek women who shared their own delightful stories, and I strolled along rows of black and white photographs of beautiful Greek weddings and Greek families at work and play, a long time ago. The country towns which had Greek cafés ranged throughout Queensland. It would have been nice to say all the buildings are still standing several generations later—still, it is wonderful to see donated ephemera, to have their legacy remembered today.
Of course, many more items are on display, including monogrammed crockery and audio and video information. I enjoyed the memorabilia which fuelled my inner historian. This exhibition is suitable for everyone! It would appeal to Greek genealogists, those interested in café culture trends, and anyone who has ever sipped a milkshake.
French artist Paul Gauguin (1848 – 1903) used monoprinting to created beautiful works of art. Most were not acknowledged in his lifetime but I had the opportunity to try his technique.
The workshop I attended was run by Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha. Everyone met at the BCC Library and then walked down to the activity room. Our instructors were Frances and Lee-anne and their introduction covered the evolution of Australian native plants, the background to Gauguin’s work and monoprinting. A monoprint is a one-of-a-kind print that forms part of a series.
It was a two-hour class with about twelve people and we were itching to get started. We couldn’t wait to peruse the beautiful and aromatic array of Australian native plants ready to make our imprints.
Here is my quick overview
Beginners Guide to Monoprinting
You may have read that monoprinting is an age-old printmaking method which produces a single image. I’d have to say that is only partially correct – the image can be reversed or added to several times, each time producing a different image. (See my coloured prints above).
I rolled out four paint blobs (yellow and red) on an acetate pad, added a leafy tree branch and a clean sheet of paper on top before smoothing it out flat. Peel off. Two for the price of one! I placed ferns and leaves with the branch, added fresh paper on top, pressing down hard. I reversed the procedure and did ‘mirror’ images.
You may have heard that you need lino or woodcarving tools. I used a wooden chopstick to press and draw my B&W designs. There were several which didn’t make the grade and I tried to choose the better ones. (See my black and white prints below).
It is thought that you need to work on a glass plate or gel plate, but a sheet of tough plastic (clear heavy acetate) works well with monoprinting paints and is easy to clean. Of course, you can upscale your equipment when your hobby turns into a money-making enterprise.
A special roller isn’t really necessary to spread the paints, you can use a small rubber roller with a plastic handle. No flattening press needed. Once the overlay paper is in place, you can use your hands to smooth the paper flat, or add background patterns through the paper with the tips of your fingers.
Pigmented paints and printing inks produce colours which look great but the traditional black-and-white looks dramatic. I didn’t achieve any depth to my work but the middle black-and-white print (below) is reversed and the hatching in the background was done with the backs of my finger nails.
We ran out of time and I would have loved to have dabbled more. The free class I attended supplied the equipment – plus afternoon tea – and the paper used was office A4 size. It was porous enough and strong enough to take my amateur efforts.
The trick is to work fast, especially in Queensland temperatures, because the paint will dry quickly. Drying caused one of my prints to have a ghostly quality. That was part of the fun – the results were often a surprise.
Monoprinting is a forgiving and flexible technique, experimental yet satisfying, and several participants achieved a pleasing degree of botanical detail worth framing.
Coming out of a hot dry summer, March weather is beginning to soften the sky and offer the cooler, more gentle mornings of autumn. There is no definite change of season, just a calmness, almost a feeling of relief after the insistent tropical heat.
Apart from, whack, an insect, there’s something serene and relaxing about strolling through a garden, touching leaves, sniffing flowers, following a creek and hearing the splash of a small waterfall through the trees.
To quote Rudyard Kipling “The Glory of the Garden it shall never pass away!” so…
Here’s what I experienced one lovely morning…
Arriving early at the Brisbane Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, I strolled through a cool, green gully and thought it was strange to be in a capital city yet hear no traffic sounds. I floated along, enjoying the stillness, until my personal calm was shattered when the garden crew came on duty and the leaf- blowing brigade roared into action. I had to wait until one fellow walked out of shot to photograph Xanthorrhoea australis, the Grass-trees (below; left). The atmosphere shuffled its feathers and tranquility returned.
Wooden bridges and flowing streams…
Leisurely, I followed the meandering paths across bridges and green lawns, enjoying the mild sunshine. Strolling down a slope, I came to a bracken-lined watercourse then walked up a gentle incline towards king ferns, piccabeen palms and towering hoop pines. I’ve never fully traversed the 56 hectare (138 acre) area which displays mainly eastern Australian plants.
You can spot Eastern Water Dragons (lizards) and geckos as they scurry out of sight or get a giggle watching the many varieties of water fowl, ducking and diving in the lake. Feeding wildlife is not allowed and I couldn’t entice them into an appealing photograph.
Sculptural features are ‘casually’ placed throughout the gardens and I think the most alluring is a silver fern seat (below; left) with interesting support.
Beside the pond and beneath the trees…
The Japanese Garden (below; entrance and pond) offers soothing symmetry and a waterlily’s single bloom. Nearby the concert bandstand has grass seating surrounded by trees with foliage of different patterns and colours. Around me, there’s a multitude of subtropical shrubs, cycads and flowers with names I never remember. You will notice that I do not attempted to be horticultural! A bit further along, in the arid zone, resides a sci-fi concoction of exotic cacti. The culinary, fragrant and medicinal herb gardens are pure indulgence. But if herbs aren’t your thing, the pungent eucalypt is my favourite and walking the Aboriginal Plant Trail with its edible food plants.
Biodiversity and water reflections…
The stillness of the morning created pleasing reflections on the lagoon which is fed by rainwater captured from the hills. You can choose between typical heathland or wetland regions made easily accessible for suburban folk. The Conservation Collection includes rare and endangered species in their natural habitats and I entered the steamy, geodesic hothouse (below; left) where equatorial plants are nurtured. My face beads in sweat, it’s not a place for humans to linger too long. Time for an ice-cream!
Tropical Display Dome at Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Mt Coot-tha, is a large lattice structure (geodesic) displaying plants from the tropics. A pathway winds upwards through the dome building, wrapping around a central pond with water plants.
Look outside the Botanic Gardens…
Outside the entry are several buildings of interest: Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium (below; saved from extinction by a vocal community uprising) large carpark, small art studio, specialist library and auditorium providing a variety of events. I have booked a place in a workshop Monoprinting Australian Native Plants, so a blog post may be forthcoming. The new Visitor Information centre offers guided walks and Gardens Café has the ice-cream. The two white-coated fellows outside the café are entomologists, surviving statues from World Expo 88.
Pandas and children have a special treat…
The Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens Children’s Trail is a hide-and-seek ramble through the shady rainforest garden with special works of art dotted along the way and I couldn’t resist following it myself. Check out the wacky weathervane! And a log for native stingless Sugarbag bees. Mother and baby Panda bears enjoy the bamboo; they are a special fabrication of laser-cut aluminium by Australian sculptor Mark Andrews.
Parks and gardens change with horticultural trends. The smaller City Botanic Gardens are older and more formal, in keeping with the style of previous centuries, but I prefer the softness of Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens. As the world becomes more populated and natural plant life decreases, Brisbane city dwellers like me need our botanical gardens to nourish and refresh our screen-dependant interior lives.
Tropical lagoon and green algae swirls at Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, Brisbane, Australia 2019
It’s a sunny, springtime day in subtropical Brisbane and we are heading towards Mt Coot-tha, the ‘mountain’ which is really a hill. The temperature is balmy and the drive is easy, out along a flat highway which decimated countless trees and native bushland.
Mt Coot-tha “Summit” Restaurant & Bar.
Ascending the steps…
We cruise by the Botanical Gardens, the Planetarium, the quarry (!), the cop with a radar speed gun, the tourists in an overheating VDub Kombi-van and climb towards the summit lookout which sits atop what was colloquially known as ‘One Tree Hill’.
Plenty more trees now, well, there is at the moment but Brisbane City Council may revert to one. The council is keen to upgrade the area, adding tourist lures like a zipline and tree-top canopy walk. Bye-bye quiet little harmless native animals and birds who take sanctuary there from the six-lane highway below.
Lunch in the shade of Kuta Café atop Mt Coot-tha, Brisbane.
Hardy plants in the sun all day.
We reach the carpark of our destination, fluke a spot, and notice the air smells eucalyptus fresh. It’s an interesting walk through various nationalities of smiling, picture-taking tourists. We join the milling crowd and peruse the Summit Restaurant & Bar menu before deciding the dollars signs are for high class meals. It is easier to tag onto the lunchtime queue at Kuta Café with its two-tiered eating decks.
Old natural stone from the surrounding area.
View from almost the top tier of the lookout.
I enjoy a delicious chicken salad wrap and share a huge bowl of baked potato wedges with heaps of sour cream and sweet chill sauce. After keenly snapping views towards the river and western suburbs, Brisbane CBD, and Moreton Bay with Moreton Island sandhills way in the distance, we detour the gift shop and head back to the car.
A friendly magpie lands on the car mirror, enquiring about food, but we have none to give, so it takes off—see below for this gripping encounter.
The Xanthorrhoea plant is uniquely Australian. It grows in the South East of Australia thriving in well-drained, aerated soils with low nutrient content.
Sticky-beak Magpie looking for food.
We agree not to drive the long way, the full circuit around Sir Samuel Griffith Drive which passes leafy barbecue areas, transmission towers and headquarters of local television stations.
Heading down the hillside, the city views and far-reaching scenery becomes less and less until ground level, then the highway roundabout appears, perfectly positioned opposite Toowong Cemetery.
The City of Brisbane is growing, the traffic is growing, the drivers are getting faster. Or am I turning into a grumpy older person? Time for a nap!
The Koala is a laidback leaf-muncher who gets hassled by the bad boys of the Aussie bush. Not by other native animals but tree-lopping developers and domestic pets. Koalas are a unique marsupial which needs human protection to survive. And eucalyptus trees, of course.
At Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, an 18-hectare Koala conservation park in the Brisbane suburb of Fig Tree Pocket, Queensland, there is a new facility dedicated to Koala health and well-being. I paid them a visit to learn more…
The Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus, not a bear) is an arboreal herbivorous marsupial native to Australia. It is the only extant representative of the family Phascolarctidae and its closest living relatives are the wombats.
To quote the KOALA SCIENCE COMMUNITY dedicated to Research, Connect, Protect:
“United by a common purpose to conserve koalas across their range, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and Brisbane City Council worked together to build and establish the Brisbane Koala Science Institute, located at the sanctuary in Brisbane, Queensland. The Institute and this online community are further supported by Lone Pine’s not-for-profit organisation, the Research for Nature Foundation, which will help fund various South-East Queensland koala projects, in partnership with local scientists, researchers, and industry professionals.
At the unique Brisbane Koala Science Institute at leafy Lone Pine, I was pleasantly surprised at how much Koala information I absorbed in a short space of time. There are interactive (and multilingual) displays, research labs with public viewing areas and a koala observation area.
♥ Koalas have special teeth for grinding down eucalyptus leaves which ferment creating sleeping patterns which mean they can sleep more than 18 hours a day. ♥ Koalas have large, strong claws to help them climb smooth-barked eucalyptus trees. ♥ A Koala baby, joey, lives in the mother’s pouch for six months then grows up to become a big eater, consuming about one kilogram of eucalyptus leaves per day. ♥ Koalas front paws can grip small branches as they reach for the juiciest leaves. ♥ Koala lifespan is between 10 to 16 years which naturally depends on environmental conditions.
Although I focused on the Koala, there are many more unique Australian species to see here, from kangaroos to cockatoos, eagles to emus in a beautiful bushland setting. I recommend the following link and video highlights featuring all the wildlife residents of Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary:
Here’s a map of Queensland and video of Brisbane City which makes me think I live in a pretty good place. Nomad Girl of The Jasmine Edit films short, interesting videos around the world. She makes it look like fun; maybe I could make a video, too?
Oops, just noticed a spelling error near the Great Barrier Reef.
If you are interested in early Queensland architecture from Victorian, Federation and inter-war era, please click here to view Wikipedia Queensland Architecture
Actor Ioan Gruffudd stars as the boat-dwelling Dr Daniel Harrow in the new TV forensic drama series ‘Harrow’ filmed in Brisbane, Australia. The goal for this intellectual forensic drama, featuring an unorthodox and edgy forensic pathologist who lives aboard an untidy boat on the Brisbane River, was achieved by the combined talents of ABC Studios International and Hoodlum Entertainment.
Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd, whose recent screen credits include movie ‘Fantastic Four’, TV series ‘Liar’, ‘Forever’ and earlier ‘Hornblower’, is now 44 and says he has more life experience to get under the skin of somebody like the flawed, smart and sarcastic Dr Harrow. Ioan, who also filmed ‘San Andreas’ in Queensland, fell in love with Brisbane, swimming with dolphins, attending theatre productions and an Ashes test cricket match at the Gabba stadium which unfortunately ended with treatment in hospital for heat stroke.
Leigh McGrath, executive producer of the 10-episode season of ‘Harrow’, says “Brisbane has got the tropical heat and humidity which I think adds a different feel to this forensic drama. Normally they are cold, they are Scandi noir, whereas we went the opposite.”
To quote The Australian newspaper journalist Justin Burke “The pilot episode presents an exquisite personal test for Harrow: does he quit his career and sail to Bora Bora as promised with his troubled, thieving, drug-addicted daughter? Or does he heed the professional challenge of grieving father Bruce Reimers (Gary Sweet), who is begging Harrow to reopen the investigation into his daughter Olivia’s death?” and “In addition to the procedural, crime-of-the-week element of the show, there is an overarching mystery that we are presented with in the opening scenes. Someone is seen dusting a body with concrete and throwing it off a small boat into the Brisbane River in the middle of the night. Who and why will be revealed in good time.”
If you click Ioan’s name (further on) you will see video footage of ‘Harrow’ filmed around inner Brisbane. Dr Harrow, a senior medical examiner, is based in the Queensland Institute of Forensic Medicine which in real life is the heritage-listed Brisbane Dental College near City Hall. Postmortems are not as easy on the eye as handsome Ioan Gruffudd.
This series is like reading a crime book with my home town in the background, I love picking out familiar landmarks and wondering how the film crew recreated a gruesome scene. The Brisbane River (Maiwar) stars but there are several familiar supporting actors to spice things up, e.g. Anna Lise Phillips, Remy Hii and Robyn Malcolm.
Keri Lee, boss of Disney’s ABC Studios Intl, is negotiating with global networks so hopefully this major drama series will be made internationally available. Meanwhile Australian viewers can watch ‘Harrow’ on ABC1 on Fridays 8.30pm 2018 or all complete episodes on iView.
Maybe it’s because I was brought up by post-war parents that I am shocked at the staggering amount of food waste in Brisbane. I could not understand why our local Government has joined the world-wide campaign Love Food Hate Waste. Surely you only buy, cook and eat what you need and freeze leftovers?
Apparently for millions of households, it’s not that simple!
The Council brochure states “Love Food Hate Waste was launched in 2007 by Waste and Resources Action Program (WRAP) in the United Kingdom followed by New Zealand, Canada and Australia. With food waste making up 37% of the average Brisbane rubbish bin, 1 in 5 shopping bags of food ends up in the bin. That’s 97,000 tonnes of food thrown away every year. There are simple and practical changes which residents can make in the kitchen to reduce food waste; planning, preparation and storage of food will make a big difference to your wallet and keep Brisbane clean, green and sustainable.”
Scramble over the mat, don’t trip on the dog, here’s a tasty listicle of Council wisdom prepared earlier:
Plan meals ahead – create a meal plan based on what is already in your fridge, freezer and pantry.
Shop mindfully – stick to your shopping list!
Store food correctly – Learn how to store food to ensure it lasts as long as possible and check your refrigerator is functioning at maximum efficiency.
Cook with care – Without controlling portions, we tend to waste food when we prepare or cook too much. Remember fruit and vegetables ripen quickly and are best consumed daily.
Love your leftovers – Freeze leftovers to use for lunches, keep for snacks, or add to another main meal.
Consider composting – Turn your kitchen scraps into rich nutrients for your garden, get a Bokashi bucket, consider owning pets like chickens or guinea pigs.
Join a community garden – Composting hubs operate in selected community gardens.
Six-week food waste challenge – Every week the Council will provide step-by-step information on how you can reduce food waste in your home. Seriously.
We are over-stocked, over-fed and over-indulgent of our taste buds. Or as my dear mother would say “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach.”
It is going to be an uncomfortable meeting. The aluminum-lined tin roof of the old scout hut has Christmas lights still hanging from the beams but no ceiling fans. In the slowly increasing heat, city council employees stand around fanning themselves with official paperwork, sweat running into the collars of their creased jackets.
A gathering of various ages and nationalities, husbands, wives, old friends milling about, young children already fidgeting, and teenagers comparing notes about being awake so early on a Saturday. And me, taking notes for a writing class.
My brief: Go to an unusual place and observe people and surroundings then write about it.
I tread the worn linoleum flooring, past bare walls, seeking a vacant chair. Instead being lured by chilled water jugs, beaded with droplets. The moisture runs onto trestle tables covered with plastic cloths and neatly stacked glassware. On a corner table, ignored, a tea urn, china cups and sugar. “Too hot for a cuppa,” hisses a woman “but a biscuit would be nice.” No such luck, it looks like it will be all business.
I chose this council meeting, billed as a Community Centre Public Consultation, hoping for a good cross-section of individuals. The focus is an old disused council depot just up the street from the scout hall which is ripe for redevelopment. Possibly a venue for arts and crafts, retired folk or out-of-work men with carpentry skills. Doesn’t sound too threatening but you never know with hot tempers and hotter weather.
There are not enough white plastic chairs so a frantic search gets underway to find more seats for late arrivals. By now, attendance hovers around 45 humidity-affected people. Craggy old veterans, highly-perfumed women, groups in casual shirts and shorts, retired types perhaps looking forward to the proposed construction. One woman commands attention with a loud voice, passionate about protecting her home from noise and extra traffic. A male voice tells her “It hasn’t started yet so shut up.”
Registration sheets are handed around and duly completed, information leaflets handed out, a welcome speech, introductions all round and the meeting starts. The Councillor and various council departments take turns talking about the proposed community centre site and how it will benefit the general public. A white board and black pens are used to draw proposed plans, stressing that existing trees will remain and more planted.
I put my reading glasses on as a slide presentation illuminates but some gruff local residents butt in with irrelevant queries. A young, flushed council assistant is hassled by senior homeowners out to protect their land values, citing added burdens on the already strained infrastructure. “Traffic is bad enough now, this street can’t cope with extra cars.” And “If an event was on, numbers would treble and we couldn’t get out of our driveways!” There is a smattering of applause and a red-faced toddler starts to cry.
The Councillor is getting agitated, stern faced and unhappy about these interruptions to her pet project. She rises, retorts in a firm, concise manner “Questions and answers will be held at the end of this session. Please refrain from interrupting” then she sits down and furiously scribbles a note.
Feeling overheated and drowsy as the meeting drags on, I’m shaken from my lethargy by an unusual break in the proceedings. Oh dear. A plus-size young lady on a wobbly plastic chair is starting to slip. Slowly, her chair sinks as the legs buckle and she gracefully slides to the floor. Plop! The Council officials gasp as one. Embarrassed, she rolls over and stands up. Everyone is fussing, offering her sympathy and cold water. The weakened chair is quickly replaced and a sturdier one supplied.
More words, blurring in, old ground is covered then comes audience input time. An outpouring of emotion from local residents, more fervent than factual, practical comments are overruled by zealous objections. Limp council staff organise the tables and chairs into groups and hand out sheets of butcher’s paper and pens for the audience to scrawl down comments about traffic, parking issues and the type of structure they would like to see near their homes. I don’t attempt a drawing, unlike the person next to me who is lavishly embellishing a castle-like structure. Hardly acceptable but she is about six years old. My hand melts the thin paper and the felt-tip pen smudges as I write a couple of comments.
The Councillor stands, looking strained, and addresses the gathering with a formal thank-you. Her politeness is wasted. It’s time to go and already people are moving towards the rear doors. Outside the air is heavy with the smell of eucalyptus. I fold my notes, not looking forward to my hot car and a long drive home.
AFTERWORD: Jump ahead in time, eight years to be precise, and the derelict sheds are revitalised and re-purposed into a community centre, a thriving hub for group activities. Men’s Shed displays are held yearly, artisans can be commissioned for special projects. The perceived threat to peace and tranquility did not materialise due to sensible planning and a carpark. Feathers were hardly ruffled … unlike the storm brewing over old homes being demolished and their sites redeveloped for high density box-like dwellings. Now that really will affect their suburban infrastructure …
“Noises Off” theatre production is loud on laughs.
My first experience of Michael Frayn’s stage play “Noises Off” was in 1983 at Savoy Theatre, London, so I was keen to see how Queensland Theatre would handle a 21st century production in Brisbane. Currently running at QPAC Playhouse, I was already attuned to the chaos about to transpire.
The Queensland Theatre cast cleverly mirror a blemished performance by a supposed theatre troupe in Weston-super-Mare. This play within a play is an hilarious bedroom farce of abundant innuendo, silly mix-ups and a display of Libby Munro’s white underwear. Simon Burke neatly portrays director and libertine Lloyd Dallas with a droll delivery, and Nicki Wendt and Hugh Parker evolve nicely as bemused husband and wife. Cast flexibility is spectacular, especially athletic Ray Chong Nee who channels Roger Tramplemain, and Louise Siversen as spry housekeeper Mrs Clackett.
Strong language crops up but it appears that most dialogue, costumes and props are relatively unchanged, with crafty set design advancing the action behind-the-scenes. Authentic director Sam Strong has handled “Noises Off” with finesse and his cast of nine prove that Brisbane audiences can absorb large portions of fast-paced comedy without losing the plot.
Quotable quote from Rebecca Jamieson, Brisbane editor of Peppermint magazine: “Skinny, fat, tall, short, smooth, bumpy, pretty, ugly, strong, weak – we all give ourselves far too many labels, when what we really need to give ourselves is a break”.