Stanthorpe Autumn Insights Part Two

Brooding rain clouds hang over the Stanthorpe Historical Museum gate.

Out the back is the blacksmith’s workshop mentioned in Part One. A guided tour of Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery was an eye-opener (costumes next) and the Stanthorpe Post Office 1901 was the first in Queensland. Its style is informal with Edwardian Baroque Revival elements and Royal coat-of-arms, but inside it’s 21st century business as usual.

Napoleon, Ferdinand and The Alchemist.

Both Ferdinand and The Alchemist have elaborate tail coats trailing behind their heavily detailed jackets. Dr Denise Rall used a variety of mediums but my photos don’t capture the sumptuousness of the bling-covered fabric. There were two prints of the Rooster and I almost took the cheeky fellow home! The Gallery has an array of art techniques including landscapes by local artists and thought-provoking ceramics.

Took a stroll through town.

This must be the biggest stone thermometer in Australia. A detour between buildings lead to a sculpture with an ibis taking flight (used in my ‘Exercise Makes You More Attractive’ post). During lunch I read the local newspaper Stanthorpe Today and discovered the old white 1960s Valiant sedan I had photographed cruising the streets was taking part in a Classic Car Rally. Just love those teatowels!

A pyramid in a paddock.

This one is made of local stone and called The Ballandean Pyramid. It was originally built for the Henty Vineyards former owner, Stuart Moreland.

Storm King Dam on a suitably overcast day.

Although not as cold as I was lead to believe. The lake has bungalows to cater for fishing enthusiasts. The view from Top of the Town Tourist Park down to the centre of town with a blue picnic table for contrast. Daisies amongst granite rocks, and more granite rocks and boulders at Donnelly’s Castle, almost impossible to photograph their size—but not teetering like giant hard-boiled eggs in some parts of the region. Captain Thunderbolt, an expert horseman and highway robber, used to hide in these geological wonders.

The U3A Conference 2021 in Stanthorpe.

A packed 2-day Program of informative U3A events with eloquent guest speakers, living up to the title of ‘Coolest’ Conference. A highlight for me was Copyright with Irene Sachs, a straight-forward look at Australian copyright laws. Everyone got a goodies bag and the Daisy mosaic tile was hand-made specially, a different one in each bag. There’s my grey Alpaca cardigan from Pure Inca. Fresh-picked fruit abounded, Stanthorpe apples were prominent—I love them! Local food take-home’s included Jamworks Rosella Jam, Sutton’s Apple Jelly, Stanthorpe Honey, Jersey Girls cheese, minus bakery delights consumed on route.

The evenings were misty and quiet…

… except for a heifer escaping after dark and running around mooing at midnight! The daytime sky changed colour often but mostly May sunlight shone on country Stanthorpe and the whispering eucalypt leaves. A return visit is inevitable.

Here’s to life-long learning!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

At an altitude of 811 metres (2,661 ft), Stanthorpe holds the record for the lowest temperature recorded in Queensland at −10.6 °C (12.9 °F) on 23 June 1961. My blog post compiled on Queensland Day 6 June 2021.

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

Stanthorpe Autumn Insights Part One

The views change dramatically driving along the highway from Brisbane to Stanthorpe.

Through farmland, over Cunninghams Gap and the Great Dividing Range (Eastern Highlands) Australia’s most substantial mountain range and the third longest land-based range in the world. Through ‘Rose and Rodeo Capital’ Warwick then into the Granite Belt region renowned for fruit-growing and wine-making. The air becomes cooler, the May autumn leaves turn russet and the landscape is littered with huge granite boulders.

Stanthorpe is a pretty little town with a lot of history as I found out when I attended my first U3A conference.

Actually the 2021 conference was a good reason to visit this fabulous part of Queensland! On arrival, after traversing the town, the next stop was Top Of The Town Tourist Park’s well-appointed accommodation in The Cottage. A modern cottage, small and cute and separate from the other cabins and campers. That didn’t stop me talking to the locals for a good chinwag. The historical museum is nextdoor and that warranted a visit on the last day, so much to see inside! Anyway, it was a quick drive into town and a visit to the supermarket, and a Peruvian Alpaca wool shop just in case there was a cold snap. I did buy a handwoven cardigan which is very warm and snuggly. My photo shows the walk down to Quart Pot Creek. The sky was a clear blue and the water reflections sparkled.

Looking across Quart Pot Creek on the path to the Tourist Information Centre.

A huge stone thermometer read 15 degrees Celsius (59 Fahrenheit) and a tourist bus had just arrived so there were a lot of people milling about inside looking a handmade souvenirs and ordering morning tea. I picked up several leaflets and information on local sites of interest plus must-do events, like wineries, Girraween National Park, Wallangarra Railway Station Museum & Cafe (sadly not managed this trip) Truffle tour with Truffle dog hunts, Jersey Girls Cheese factory (what an experience!) and Donnelly’s Castle which are a jumble of prehistoric granite boulders at the end of a winding gravel road. After climbing these huge mystical boulders, the view was fantastic. Then it was time to head back for a delicious lunch at Lily’s Cafe in the High Street.

My next post will feature another side of Stanthorpe. The diversity surprised me.

A visitor to Stanthorpe would need a couple of weeks to visit all the internationally renowned wineries and local attractions, both natural and man-made like The Pyramid out in a paddock! And I loved the individuality of farm produce and accommodation. Top Of The Town had a trail up the hillside where you can stand on a granite rock and look out over the town in the company of native birds and pretty wildflowers. Brisbane doesn’t get much in the way of autumn leaves (although the weather does cool down) so this blog post features red, yellow, golden leaves.

In Part Two, I will post more photographs and write briefly about the U3A Conference. The conference ran over two days and the first guest speaker was Mike Hayes, Director of Viticulture and Chief Winemaker from Sirromet Wines, Ballandean, located in the Southern Downs near the Queensland/New South Wales border.

These two ducks were not very happy that I was walking past their pond.

The Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery pond had rainwater in it from a storm the night before but otherwise water is very precious in southern Queensland. I doubt the centre fountain is ever full although it does add to the feel of the season. The U3A Conference organised a guided tour of the Art Gallery and in my second post I will show two of the local artists creations. I was particularly taken by the work of costumier Denise N Rall; landscapes beautifully rendered in different mediums; an illuminated-style book of art.

Grape vine leaves, not in a vineyard but the Stanthorpe Historical Museum.

These leaves caught my eye outside the blacksmith’s workshop. Inside was a blackened fireplace, anvil and countless tongs, pliers, buckets and metal utensils, hung around the slab bark hut. I don’t remember seeing the leather bellows to fan the flames but there must have been. The blacksmithy had a physically demanding yet highly necessary job in every town in days gone by. I found it difficult to even lift the hammer which would have been used to shape the red hot iron. And I have no doubt countless horseshoes and metal implements were forged in sheds like this with its corrugated iron roof, dirt floor and rough log seating.

Bye from sweet, sunny Stanthorpe until my next post Part Two also compiled on Queensland Day 6 June 2021.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Shells and Summer Days

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I started to add tags to my photo and realised that most things associated with the beach start with the letter ‘S’ and I’d barely scratched the surface.  Sand, sea, swimming, shells.  I paused at shells because a sunbeam tinged my glass bowl of seashells which holds countless memories.

… I drifted away… the smell of sunscreen and the feel of sand sifting through my fingers… one day I will take those shells back to the ocean…

In case you missed my front page Photo Of The Week, below I have reproduced the wording which accompanied a close-up photo of my shell collection.  More scientific than personal but nonetheless I found it fascinating:


SHELLS are made of calcium carbonate, in the mineral form of calcite or aragonite.  Animals build their shells by extracting the necessary ingredients—dissolved calcium and bicarbonate—from their environment.  As the animal grows, its home—the protective shell that surrounds it—must get bigger, and so they grow their shells layer upon layer, creating ‘growth-bands’, or growth increments, within the shell.

“Some of these growth increments are visible on the external surface of the shell, while others are only visible in the internal structure.  But the interesting thing about the growth increments is that their width, or thickness, is affected by environmental conditions, like temperature.  Some growth increments are a reflection of tidal cycles, some show annual periodicity.

“So the series of growth increments within a shell are essentially a record of the animal’s lifetime and, similar to the study of tree-rings, some scientists study them to make interpretations about the environment where that animal lived and grew.  The oldest known individual animal lived in a shell—a specimen of the shellfish Arctica islandica has been documented to be 507 years old.”

For colours, shapes, biodiversity visit Academy of Science
https://www.science.org.au/curious/earth-environment/sea-shells

FOSSIL collector, dealer and palaeontologist Mary Anning (1799 –1847) was the inspiration for the tongue twister “She sells sea shells by the sea shore” from the original song written in 1908 by Terry Sullivan relating to Mary Anning’s beach-combing lifestyle.  Anning is known for the important finds she made in Jurassic marine fossil beds in the cliffs along the English Channel at Lyme Regis in the county of Dorset in Southwest England.

The fascinating truth behind the old tongue twister
https://www.littlethings.com/she-sells-seashells-meaning

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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Pets Stop People Travelling


  • Australians really love their pet pals – one in three won’t go on holidays because it would mean leaving their pet behind.  A recent survey examined the lifestyle of 1,000 pet owners regarding the impact pets have on their travel habits.  I found the results interesting.

 

  • National Seniors and Trusted Housesitters research demonstrates that with 5.7 million households owning a pet in Australia (over 13 million people) roughly four million people choose to stay at home rather than holidaying due to concerns about their pet’s well-being.

 

  • Apparently those who did take a break (69%) said they had felt guilty when leaving their pet behind, while over one-third of Australian pet owners (36%) have turned down a weekend away, citing being unable to arrange pet care as the reason.

 

  • Pets often disrupt their owners’ social lives, with 18% of respondents having regularly missed social engagements in favour of staying at home to ensure their pets were cared for.  Of those surveyed, 6% avoided going on dates, choosing their pets over romance.

 

  • When it comes to Australian pet owners who regularly take holidays, 29% opted for a trusted pet sitter versus putting their pet in a boarding kennel (21%), while 35% of pet owners organised friends or family to care for their furry friend.

 

  • One in four participants said they would never travel overseas or interstate without their pet.  Presumably this pet is a dog and the owner is wealthy!

 

  • In a British study of veterinary experts conducted by Trusted Housesitters UK, 100% believed animals responded better to a new carer than a new environment, as animals were particularly bonded to their home.  Is there bias in this result?

 

  • I’m not making any pronouncements for-or-against.  I’ve loved and cared for every one of my darling pets and by making arrangements in advance, none ever stopped me from travelling away from home.  But the guilt was there.

 

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


HRH Queen Elizabeth II Birthday

In UK, Her Royal Highness has two birthdays each year: her actual birthday on 21st April and her official birthday usually the second Saturday in June.  Born in 1926, at the time of writing, she is 92 years-old and still going strong.  Happy birthday, Your Majesty!

The birthday of reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II is celebrated at different times of the year throughout the world and usually accompanied by a public holiday.  In Australia, each State and Territory has decreed a different day.

In Queensland (named after Queen Victoria) we have a Monday holiday in honour of the Queen’s birthday and enjoy a long weekend.  This year it falls on Monday 1st October 2018 and Brisbane residents will head to official celebrations, BBQs, coastal regions, rainforest walks or just laze around at home and read a book.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

“God Save Our Gracious Queen”

View my blog post about my own umbrella
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2018/03/02/childhood-status-symbol/