Crochet a Concrete Block

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.

If you are interested in trying this colourful craft, or yarn-bombing trees, here’s a link to Brisbane Crochet Club: https://brisbanecrochetclub.com.au/

Photographed on a sunny winter’s day June 2021.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Brisbane City Council initiative https://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/things-to-see-and-do/council-venues-and-precincts/parks/parks-by-suburb/seventeen-mile-rocks-parks/rocks-riverside-park

Eucalypt Tree Shows Its Colours

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Grey Gum (Eucalyptus propinqua) starting to shed its bark after summer rain © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

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.

Information thanks to Butterfly House
http://lepidoptera.butterflyhouse.com.au/plants/myrt/eucalyptus-propinqua.html

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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Eucalypt leaves © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

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.

Morning and Evening Trees

This is the view from my window of the morning sunlight on the flame tree and evening sunset on the umbrella tree – Spring 2020. 

Note: These images appeared at different times on my regular Home page ‘Photo of the Week’.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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Morning Flame Tree © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2020

 

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Evening Umbrella Tree © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2020

Moths Stopped Me in My Tracks

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’.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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.

http://www.brisbaneinsects.com/brisbane_loopers/DryLeaf.htm

Dry Leaf Looper Moth – Idiodes siculoides – Subfamily Ennominae? Family Geometridae

Meet Me At The Paragon – A Greek Café Experience #slqGreekCafes

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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!

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Evocative neon. Instead of the usual rows of seats, there were café chairs at round tables, such a nice touch. Guests were also given take-home gifts, and in my first photo you can see a fridge magnet, postcard and a traditional small paper bag of mixed lollies.

‘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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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!

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Lollies is an Australian word for sweets. Bulgarian Rock, Peanut Toffee, Turkish Delight, all kinds of confectionery were arrayed in long glass cabinets to dazzled customers as they walked into a Creek café. Can you imagine the delicious aroma! Most cafés used their own ice-cream for their sodas and sundaes.

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This looks like a scientist’s portable lab! These tiny bottles of Blue Ark Essences are housed in a briefcase-style case. The essences were concentrated fruit flavours and used in soda drinks, milkshakes and confectionery.

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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.

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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.

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‘Meet Me At The Paragon’ runs for six months and there are more Curator talks planned (see website below) and a Brisbane Greeters walking tour.

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.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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Brochures resemble café menus on the polished wood table of a banquette where people can sit and reminisce about burgers and banana sundaes.

Find out more from State Library of Queensland
https://www.slq.qld.gov.au/whats-on/meet-me-paragon
and
http://blogs.slq.qld.gov.au/jol/2019/10/02/american-bar-brisbane/

Toni Risson Greek Cafes in Australia Aphrodite Bookcover

Further reading from curator and author Toni Risson
https://tonirisson.wordpress.com/
and
https://greekcafesinbrisbane.wordpress.com/author/tonirisson/

My ‘Photo of the Week’ Pictorial

Readers of my blog often go straight to my current post which detours Photo Of The Week on my Home page.  I’ve gathered together some of my favourite shots—just in case you’ve missed a couple!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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An apologetic alien in the corner of the bedroom ©GBW2019

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Walking home through the Great Court at University of Queensland, Brisbane, after attending the rare book auction in Fryer Library on Friday 3 May 2019. The 4-day book fair continued over the long weekend https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/04/28/rare-book-auction-and-alumni-book-fair/ ©GBW2019

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Easter Saturday and I unearthed this little old turtle in the back garden ©GBW2019

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The perfect place to sit and read as evening falls on another long day ©GBW2019

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Action figures left on the shelf, a child’s forgotten game ©GBW2019

Gemma Phone (8)
The rain has gone and Poppy is ready to go outside ©GBW2019

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Polly Pocket pet shop on piano – The concept was originally designed by Chris Wiggs in 1983 for his daughter Kate Wiggs. Using a powder compact, he fashioned a little house for a little doll. When opened, later models showed inside a miniature dollhouse or various interiors with tiny Polly Pocket figurines living, working and playing ©GBW2019

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I’m watching you, always watching you ©GBW2019

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Blue Berry Ash (Elaeocarpus reticulatus) an evergreen Australian native tree which grows along the east coast. The white flowers and blue fruit feature twice a year. Animals eat the berries but humans find them unpalatable https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/interns-2002/elaeocarpus-reticulatus.html ©GBW2019

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Cute young camels at Summer Land Camel Farm, Harrisville Queensland Australia https://summerlandcamels.com.au/ ©GBW2019

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A tunnel, a cave or portal? For a wizard, a dragon or alien? ©GBW2019

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Created in 1985 by Brisbane sculptors Leonard and Kathleen Shillam “Five Pelicans” sit in the Queensland Art Gallery water mall, viewed from the Australian Glass and Ceramic Pelican Lounge https://www.qagoma.qld.gov.au/whats-on/exhibitions/australian-glass-and-ceramic ©GBW2019

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Bromeliad, guzmania genus, perennial monocotyledon, throws an afternoon shadow on the path ©GBW2019

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Addicted to adult colouring books https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2018/08/24/revisiting-adult-colouring-books/ ©GBW2019

Toowoomba Train Trip 001
Return to yesteryear on a steam train tour from Brisbane to Toowoomba operated by the Australian Railway Historical Society. Each year tourists travel by steam train to Toowoomba’s spectacular Carnival Of Flowers https://www.tcof.com.au/full-day-steam-train-tour/ ©GBW2019

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Every day is a happy blogging day! ©GBW2019

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The Degraves Street Subway and Campbell Arcade, once glamorous 1950s shops, now with artspace, hair salons and Cup of Truth Coffee Bar for commuters accessing Flinders Street Station, Melbourne, Australia https://cv.vic.gov.au/blog/archive/degraves-street-subway-and-campbell-arcade-the-underground-artspace/ ©GBW2019

Cup Saucer Bowl Optical Illusion
Optical illusion ©GBW2019

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“Experience is never limited, and it is never complete, it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider web of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness, and catching every airborne particle in its tissue”––Writer/poet Henry James ©GBW2019

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Peering through the magnifying glass of original World Expo88 butterfly catcher statue at Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens, Brisbane, Australia ©GBW2019

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Viewed while walking through Queensland Gallery of Art, South Bank, Brisbane, silver balls floating on ponds ©GBW2019

My Monoprinting Experiment

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

 

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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.

 

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My words of encouragement “You have to try it, muck around with it, get messy and see what happens”

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.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Botanical Gardens Fresh Air and Sunshine

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.

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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!

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.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Note:  Please click or tap an image to enlarge.

You may also like to read about my visit higher up the road at Mt Coot-tha Lookout.

Let’s Have Lunch Up Mt Coot-tha

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward   

Brisbane Logo

My Visit to Koala Science Institute

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…

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Greeted by mother and baby on arrival at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Brisbane. On this visit I didn’t hug a real Koala but you can!

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.

Our aim is to bring together like-minded individuals in a knowledge-sharing environment to foster innovation, facilitate collaboration, and enhance accessibility, with the aim to deliver real, practical outcomes beneficial to the local wild koala populations.”  Affiliated with https://www.zooaquarium.org.au/index.php/world-class-koala-research-facility-now-open-at-lone-pine-koala-sanctuary/

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.

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This Blue-Winged Kookaburra swooped down and kept a watchful eye on our lunch, however, it’s best not to feed human food to native wildlife.

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Afternoon tea, two coffees and two muffins, one caramel and the other blueberry, both with edible chocolate circles iced on top.

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The wishing well outside the front entrance to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary with plenty of coins and “I Love Australia” badge.


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:

https://www.koala.net/en-au/wildlife
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_XXqPirJUU

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A quick guide to the wild birds around Long Pine Koala Sanctuary. Behind the sign, an Eastern Water Dragon lizard came out to sunbathe on the brickwork.


And here’s my link to a post I wrote last year:
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2017/09/01/save-the-koala/
You can adopt a Koala through Australian Koala Foundation.

Koala Adoption Certificate (3)
Adopt a Koala today! https://www.savethekoala.com/adopt-a-koala

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary Logo

Thank you, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary for a relaxing, informative and enjoyable visit.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Look Where I Live

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?

Queensland Map

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

Queensland Home

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Ioan Gruffudd Stars in ‘Harrow’ Forensic Drama Series

ABCTV Harrow Ioan Gruffudd
Image courtesy of The Australian newspaper

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.”

ABCTV Harrow Ioan Gruffudd 02

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.

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http://www.abc.net.au/tv/programs/harrow/
https://iview.abc.net.au/collection/harrow

Well worth watching!  And Season Two hit Australian screens in February 2021.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Love Food Hate Waste Campaign

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Brisbane Queensland Australia

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.

Bokashi Bucket Diagram 01

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.”

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Love Food Hate Waste BCC Campaign

Save the Koala

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Imagine if all the food outlets in your city were destroyed in one day.

Imagine if you’re a Koala and all your food trees were destroyed in one day.

It’s unlikely to happen to you, but it’s a frightening fact of life for our Koala population.

A tree is food, shelter and safety for a Koala.

Now imagine if all that was taken away from YOU.

“No Tree No Me”

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https://www.savethekoala.com/shop

Violet Koala

“Save The Koala Month” September each year!
Website: Australian Koala Foundation Save the Koala
Follow: Facebook Australian Koala Foundation

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Also check website Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Brisbane
“World’s First and Largest Koala Sanctuary”

I visited Brisbane Koala Science Institute at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2018/09/30/my-visit-to-koala-science-institute/

Gretchen Bernet-WardKoala Foundation Logo 06

Council Meeting

 

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Happy

Lightning Bolt
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REPORT

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 …

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Community Connection
People Power

Large Portions of Fast-Paced Comedy

Queensland Theatre Review “Noises Off” QPAC Playhouse Saturday 3 June 2017

Stage Door
Theatre

“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.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Noises Off Stage Set
Set Design

Break Time

Peppermint Magazine Event

 

 

 

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”.

Peppermint Magazine Cover

Forget labels, enjoy your life without a tag.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward