Rare Book Auction and Alumni Book Fair PART THREE

On your marks, get set…

The University of Queensland Alumni Book Fair 2019 at St Lucia, Brisbane, had been in full swing for a couple of days before I arrived on the third day.  One more day to go with no sign of running out of keen customers or brilliant book bargains.

The Exhibition Hall is huge!

The whole area was filled with tables covered in books of every shape, size, colour and genre.  I couldn’t name every section without going cross-eyed but there were technical books, reference books, fiction, non-fiction, and fun stuff like mixed media (including old vinyl records) and cool kids books.

I could say romance novels jostled for position with items such as travel guides and political biographies but everything was grouped in an orderly manner, well marked and easy to access.  I was surprised to see numerous large old dictionaries for sale, however, the eclectic poetry section caught my eye.  Ooh, Bruce Dawe.

Total absorption

The whole area was spacious, clean and civilised.  I expected a few gasps or cries of joy when The One, that perfect addition to a series or a special edition was found and held aloft.  But no, basically the customers had their own agendas and moved calmly from book table to book table with carry bags, totally absorbed.  By my estimation, I think you could expect to spend about two hours scanning and sifting through the books, more if you wanted to read pages here and there.

Stacks of boxes

In the first photo (above) in the distance you can see a stack of book boxes, then in the second photo you see the book boxes up close.  That opened box was about head-height and a volunteer told me those boxes had stretched along the walls, and every day they were emptied.  Volunteers in purple t-shirts worked tirelessly the whole time I was there, unpacking, shelving, answering queries, and working at the payment points.

Afternoon tea

In the adjacent cafeteria (delicious homemade strawberry cake) I displayed some of the haul.  You will spy a small red book in the left-hand photo which I have opened in the right-hand photo.  The dust-jacket is missing and the previous owner had not liked naughty boy Pierre and scribbled on him in pencil but I love it.  After a bit of searching, I found out this little Maurice Sendak volume is one of four, a Nutshell Library boxed set published in 1962 by HarperCollins.

Time to go

On display in the foyer of the Exhibition Hall were enlarged travel images and I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the duck and ducklings.  Overall, the synchronicity of UQ Alumni Friends, Members and volunteers created an exceptional event.

Walking back to the bus stop, weighed down with my treasure, the water bubbling through the pipes of this fountain made a relaxing sound so I stopped to admire it.

As I stood there, I thought about the massive amount of books on every subject imaginable which showed how far we have come, and how much of value we have left behind.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


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My previous posts:

Part One
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/04/28/rare-book-auction-and-alumni-book-fair/
Part Two
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/05/05/rare-book-auction-and-uq-alumni-book-fair-part-two/

Rare Book Auction and Alumni Book Fair PART TWO

What a blast!

On arrival, drinks and nibbles were a nice surprise after travelling by bus along winding streets to UQ Alumni Rare Book Auction.  From then onward it was non-stop action from 6pm until 9pm in Fryer Library.

Twilight sky

Beforehand, I walked not the ‘hallowed halls’ but the beautiful arched sandstone walkways of the Great Court to the Fryer Library entrance.  I caught the lift to the fourth floor where several people were mingling in the foyer beside the bidding registration table.  On receiving Number 30, I hoped it was a lucky number.

Lucky number 30

I wandered in to the library, strolled through all the assembled black chairs, and entered the book viewing area.  Lighting was subdued but it was easy to see the fascinating array of old books waiting patiently for my frenzied bidding.  Not quite frenzied; but to jump ahead, I did offer a bid for a beautiful book, at least I think it is, which started and finished at the same amount, i.e. nobody out-bid me.  Shame really because Smith, A. Croxton ‘Tail-Waggers’ Country Life, London, 1935, 147 pp has superbly rendered B&W mounted etchings by Malcolm Nicholson.

Lights, camera, action

After ascertaining if I could take photos, permission granted, I ended up being so entranced by the bidding that I didn’t take many shots.  The introductions, welcome and Acknowledgement of Country were conducted (first by university librarian Caroline Williams originally from Nottingham UK) and at 6.45pm, auctioneer Jonathan Blocksidge stood behind the lectern.  Game on!

Quickly, keep up

The bidding was fast and Mr Blocksidge kept the pace up, the heat on and the bids rising.  There seemed to be some pretty serious collectors and possibly agents in the audience and at times the bids rose in increments so rapidly it was hard to keep track.

The highest bidder

There were absentee bidders and Lot 27 rose above the reserve price.  As the night progressed – 146 lots were listed – bidding ‘wars’ occurred, particularly between two people behind me.  The jousting for Lot 62, first edition of ‘Human Action: A Treatise on Economics’ made the audience applaud in appreciation.  Same for Lot 66 ‘The Natural History of Man’ and Lot 86 James Cook’s ‘A Voyage Towards the South Pole’ which later culminated in Lot 105 Charles Kingsford-Smith’s personally signed copy of ‘Story of Southern Cross’ going for a huge amount.

Regrettably, the star of the show and expected highlight of the evening Lot 146 Gauss (de Brunswick) book ‘Recherches Arithmetiques’ did not meet the hefty reserve price.

Until tomorrow

The UQ team of staff and volunteers worked tirelessly throughout the evening, quiet yet ready to assist, and I think they did an excellent job.  In fact, I have been reliably informed that all of the auction organisers I had contact with are UQ Alumni Friends, Members and volunteers.  They were supported by the Fryer Library team (led by Manager, Simon Farley) who organised the chairs, allowed use of the library space, and provided the hospitality pre-event.  A success well deserved!

I purchased and collected my precious old book of ‘Tail-Waggers’ and headed out into the cool, calm night.

Stick around for Part Three coming soon, my adventure with books, books and more books.  Or better still, visit the UQ Alumni Book Fair yourself!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


Check out my previous post Part One
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/04/28/rare-book-auction-and-alumni-book-fair/
and my final post Part Three
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/05/08/rare-book-auction-and-uq-alumni-book-fair-part-three/

 

Rare Book Auction and Alumni Book Fair PART ONE

So excited, I’ve never been to a rare book auction.  In fact, I have never been to an auction.  It’s not something which cropped up in my everyday life and I must admit from what I’ve seen on television, it can get pretty fast and furious.

There’s always the horror of twitching an eyebrow and accidentally bidding for a hugely expensive volume of poetry, the only book of its kind in the world, which has to stay in a glass case.  Well, not exactly, but you get the idea.

MY COMMENTARY INTERSPERSED WITH IMAGES

The University of Queensland Alumni Book Fair and Rare Book Auction will be held at St Lucia Campus, Brisbane, over four days on the weekend of Friday 3 May to Monday 6 May 2019 – Monday being Labour Day holiday in Queensland – see UQ website for various times.

HOW DID I FIND OUT ABOUT THIS RARE BOOK AUCTION?

Last month, I attended a talk at University of Queensland’s Long Pocket Campus, home of the University of Queensland Press, or UQP as it is fondly known, the oldest independent publishing house in Australia with an illustrious stable of authors.  I browsed some of the newly published books on offer, grabbed a coffee and sat with other attendees to absorb an informative talk from the Publishing Director, right down to choosing bookcovers.

We broke for a tasty lunch then listened to the ins-and-outs of publishing publicity, Selling The Brand.  Another world really but invaluable knowledge for a writer.  Our group participated in a Q&A quiz about books and authors.  I threw up my hand and answered correctly, winning myself a new novel ‘The Geography of Friendship’ by Sally Piper which I will read and review.

DOWN A HILL AND UP A HILL . . .

Afterwards, we all trooped outside, down a hill and up a hill through the lush native gardens to where the Archives live.  Amongst the thousands of new and used books donated every year, there are rare and valuable tomes, well-kept considering their age.  On the shelving, behold every genre, every topic, every format imaginable.  And nearly every item in the Junior Section held nostalgia for me.  It is here I learned about the UQ Alumni Rare Book Auction 6pm on Friday 3 May 2019.

BROWSE AND BUY – TAKE A TROLLEY – BOOK VOLUNTEERS WELCOME

I will have to leave you hanging, dear reader, because I will write Part Two when I’ve actually been to the Rare Book Auction in Fryer Library which itself is full of literary treasures.  See you there?

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


Here is MORE tantalising information:
http://books.alumnifriendsuq.com/rare-book-auction/
and http://books.alumnifriendsuq.com/charles-kingsford-smith-at-the-the-uq-alumni-book-fair-and-rare-book-auction/

Plus BONUS extras so you can jump ahead:
Part Two
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/05/05/rare-book-auction-and-uq-alumni-book-fair-part-two/
Part Three https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/05/08/rare-book-auction-and-uq-alumni-book-fair-part-three/


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UQ Duhig Tower Forgan Smith Fryer Library
UQ Forgan Smith Building, Duhig Tower to Fryer Library

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

‘Undrought’ Poem by Casey Williams

Undrought

The year has barely started,
The ringers still on leave,
The wet is running late this year,
Lord, bring us our reprieve.

The North is bloody thirsty
The cows are calving down
The grass is getting sparser
And the ground is turning brown

It’s been this way a while now
Too long, in fact, for some
The dry is taking over
When will the rain please come?

At last the clouds are building
And the frogs are crying out
I wonder if they know at all,
What’s due to come about?

A couple inches, you bloody beaut!
What a blessed sight,
The sound of raindrops on the roof,
I’ll listen up all night.

Another night, and then again,
She’s getting fairly damp,
The river’s running beautifully,
She’s really set up camp.

Again and again, it hammers down,
In drowning, vicious waves,
We hate to sound ungrateful
But rain, please go away.

At last the drought is broken
But so are all our hearts
Homes are under water
Lives are ripped apart

No warning of the enormity
No chance to get ahead
Just paralysed by water
And what we will find dead

The land has gone from Barron
To an ocean, vast and brown
The calves are drowned or frozen
Their mothers, bogging down.

The rain has finished finally
The world turned upside down
There’s cattle stuck in trees
Dead wildlife on the ground.

The North just copped a big one
We’re hurting far and wide
Our community’s a strong one
But we need you on our side

Don’t kick us while we’re down
Don’t say we have no shame
You want to see compassion
Drive up here, see our pain.

I for one, could not be prouder
Of the industry up here
It’s one of strength and courage,
Through drought, through flood and fear

I say this to all affected
To those who’ve lost so much
You’re the backbone of this country
Keep talking, stay in touch

You’ve got your mates behind you
To help with all your doubts
We can rebuild together
The sunshine has come out.

by Casey Williams

Saturday 16 Feb 2019 ABC Brisbane Queensland Australia
Also blog post Drought
Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Queensland Map

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

Camel Milk Coffee at Summer Land Camel Farm

A local newspaper notice attracted my attention.  Did I read that correctly?  A camel farm excursion?  Here is the true story of my expedition into camel territory.

I’d heard about camel milk and wanted to know more, so I contacted the organiser National Seniors secretary.  Of course, they had me at “camels” but when I see meals included, I’m there.  The itinerary read “East Coast Coach depart 9am and arrive Summer Land Camel Farm, Harrisville, morning tea and guided farm tour.  Lunch at Commercial Hotel (adjoining Thirsty Camel bottleshop) before travelling home via scenic route 4pm.”  Hooked and booked!

On boarding the coach, I was given a warm National Seniors welcome, and on disembarking the coach 45 minutes later, the first thing I noticed was the vast blue sky over Summer Land Camel Farm.  A rolling vista spread out around me.  In the distance the smudged outline of the Scenic Rim, part of the Great Dividing Range, and in the foreground hundreds of camels!  It was an odd sight, camels of different sizes grazing in the paddocks, until I realised they were at home in the landscape.

Now, first let’s clear up some camel falsehoods.  Camels do not spit but alpacas do.  Camel footpads are better suited to protect vegetation than cows and horses.  Of course, it’s common knowledge that a camel can walk over a hundred kilometres without water and carry heavier loads than a horse.  But did you know that they are excellent swimmers?  Who’d have thought but it’s true.

We strolled to the beautiful old Queenslander homestead where a spread of fresh scones, homemade jam and cream awaited.  Then we realised what we were eating.  The white fromage cream I dobbed on my scones and the milk in my coffee were not from a dairy cow but a camel.  Delicious!  And, as we subsequently found out, very good for our digestive tract.  Camel milk is like an immune boost, an anti-inflammatory which can benefit our gut, skin and hair.

I loved meeting the camels at the fence, talking to them as they blinked their long eyelashes, obviously assessing if I had anything edible in my hand.  When they saw the camera, I believe they actually posed, holding quite still while I took full advantage of this photo opportunity.  See the camel on the right smiling!  Everything was peaceful and the air smelt fresh. No camel aroma wafting on the breeze.  Then my models wheeled away to check out an inviting dust bath.

In Australia we have dromedary camels, one hump.  The dromedary is the smaller of the two species of camel and female gestation period is 13-14 months or around 410 days.  I saw a baby camel, 24-hours old, all spindly legs, wobbling and flopping yet determined to stand.  I asked if I could sponsor a camel, an adorable critter to watch grow up.  Not yet, but one day this may be possible.  In the meantime I joined the Summer Land Camels Club and harbour happy thoughts of riding a camel on my next visit.

Summer Land CEO Jeff Flood
Jeff Flood, CEO Summer Land Camel Farm, Business Strategist, Biochemist and Nutritional Immunotherapist.

Our group walked to a vast shed where the cheese, cream and milk are tested and processed.  We sat in the breezeway while Jeff Flood, biochemist and immunotherapist, delivered an intelligent, informative and heartfelt talk on all things camel.  Even biomes got a mention, and Jeff is very open about the farm operations.  I wished my school days had involved such an absorbing field trip.

A passionate cameleer from a farming background, Jeff Flood is CEO and co-founder of Summer Land Camel Farm, the largest of its kind in Australia.  Apart from playing rugby and completing several scientific degrees, he discovered that the immune protein and nutritional content of camel milk has healing benefits, showing positive results when used to treat his young son’s eczema.

Then onward to the open-air camel dairy, where we learned the long road to milking.  Camel milk and by-products are not high volume in Australia but its the largest commercial-scale camel dairy operation outside the Middle East and the third largest of its kind in the world.  Jeff and co-founder Paul Martin are training wild camels, breeding, researching, testing and pioneering the way.  Not only for Australia but the rest of the world.  Why can’t camel milk sit in the fridge next to other beverage flavourings?  Camellatté has a nice ring to it.

Jeff is concerned for the welfare of camels and told us some horrible yet true stories of the brutal decimation of the wild camel population in Australia.  The camel is a neglected animal among the policymakers.  Incorrect data is perpetuated to this day, mainly through ignorance and government propaganda.

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During the tour, it became obvious to me that camels have been given a raw deal.  They are well-suited to our Australian climate and in some ways more beneficial than imported European farm animals.  A bit of racism involved here?  Camels do not have top teeth yet they like rugged food; they can eat feral weed plants such as prickly pear and they don’t need lush green pastures to thrive.  During drought years, companion-herds of camels and cows survive better.  Camels can act as watchdogs, they have the intelligence of a six year-old child which is greater than a dog.  Plus they can take you on very, very long walks!

Back at the homestead, we enjoyed some taste-testing and Summer Land Camel Farm staff excelled with their hospitality.  Unlike almond milk or soy milk, I had an instant attraction to camel milk.  It suited my palate without the “I’ll get used to it” phase.  Being lactose-intolerant, that’s a blessing.  I perused items for sale; from camel milk and cheeses through to soap, hand-cream and artwork by Fiona.  If you forget the Esky, cold bags can be purchased for a nominal amount and my Camel Persian Feta and other goodies were safely tucked away.

Time to head off down the road and partake of a pub lunch at the Commercial Hotel in Harrisville.  After our meal, we strolled around the small township.  I looked left and right before crossing the road but it wasn’t really necessary.

The coach swayed gently as we headed homeward, and I was pondering this enjoyable day out when my thoughts reached a conclusion.  I had looked into the eyes of a camel and seen a friendly, interested gaze.  I think the world needs more friendly interest in camels.  And more camel milk in coffee!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

FARM & CAFE OPENING HOURS:
Mon-Sat: 9am – 3pm
Sun: 9am – 4.30pm
Closed Public Holidays

LOCATION:
8 Charles Chauvel Drive
Harrisville QLD 4307
AUSTRALIA

Website:       https://summerlandcamels.com.au/
Facebook:    https://www.facebook.com/summerlandcamelfarm/
Contact:       admin@summerlandcamels.com.au
Instagram:  @summerlandcamels
Café menuhttps://summerlandcamels.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/SLC-Homestead-Cafe-MENU-FEB-2018.pdf
Investor enquiriesinfo@wildcamelcorp.com.au
Further reading:      https://camel4all.blog/2018/05/15/the-camel-milk-story-theme-of-the-world-camel-day-2018/

Stop the Press – My camel post has been used online and print issue by Your Time 55+ Magazine – Read all about it.

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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

What the World needs now. . .writers who care

An illuminating review of Trent Dalton author of ‘Boy Swallows Universe’ and his discussion with Matthew Condon during the Brisbane Writers Festival 2018.  June Perkins does justice to the subject and pays tribute to Trent, her own parents and the value of education.  Read on… Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Pearlz Dreaming

So the absolute highlight of the Brisbane Writers Festival for me was the talk I attended by Trent Dalton.

I saw Trent a few weeks ago on Q and A, on the ABC, as well as Sofie Laguna, and was so impressed by the way they both conducted themselves on the panel I set out to look up their books.

When I heard Trent would be attending and presenting at the Brisbane writer’s festival he went right to the top of my must-attend sessions.

When Trent entered the room there were huge cheers.  He pumped the air with his fist, and yet there was no ego in that fist pump.  It was more like a boxer, who has triumphed over a huge battle in his life, and is now saying thank you to an appreciative crowd.  A Rocky moment, part of a montage.  He thanked us for choosing to attend…

View original post 1,254 more words

Tropical Romance Writer Annie Seaton

Annie Seaton Whitsunday Book Launch 02

Don’t you love being on the verge of discovering a new author, that feeling of anticipating!  Look at the beautiful location where romance writer Annie Seaton is holding the book launch for her latest release Whitsunday Dawn––in the Whitsunday Islands at beautiful Coral Sea Resort.

“Ecological impact, divided loyalties and the pristine beauty of the Whitsundays under threat, can mining spokesperson Olivia Sheridan expose the truth in time?”  Author Annie Seaton brings to life a new era of romance and eco-adventure.  Perfect for fans of Di Morrissey and a sun-kissed tropical lifestyle.

As WP readers will know, I’m not usually a romance reader but I’m rather taken by the beautiful location of this all-Australian story.  Watch out for my review.

On her website Annie says “I am truly blessed to live by the beach on the east coast of Australia.  I am following my lifelong dream of writing, and discovering that readers love reading my stories as much as I love writing them is awesome.  It’s what keeps me at my desk each day when the garden and the beach are calling to me!

“You can read of the topical human and social issues I explore in Kakadu Sunset, Daintree and Diamond Sky.  My latest release with Harlequin Mira WHITSUNDAY DAWN  (August 2018) is an historical/contemporary story set in the Whitsunday Islands in 1943 and 2017.​

“My inspiration comes from the natural beauty of our Australian landscapes and I’m passionate about raising awareness of the need to preserve the pristine areas that surround us.”

Will you be in the vicinity of the wonderful Whitsundays?  Visit the launch of Annie Seaton’s newest book WHITSUNDAY DAWN being held on Friday 7 September 2018 at Coral Sea Resort Jetty, Airlie Beach, Queensland.  A welcome drink then cash bar will be available with complimentary gourmet nibbles and canapes from the Coral Sea Resort kitchen.  RSVP via Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AnnieSeatonAuthor/

https://i.harperapps.com/covers/9781489257802/y648.jpg

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Jane Milburn Slow Clothing Advocate

Slow Clothing reflects author and refashion advocate Jane Milburn’s own unique style, independent of “fast fashion” trends.  Upcycled from denim jeans, the dress Jane wore during her talk at a local BCC library had the potential to look strange but was distinctive and quite beguiling.

Jane, sustainability consultant and founder of Textile Beat, touched on several key elements during her talk––environmentally unfriendly fabrics and dyes; sweat shop labour; landfill; passive fashion; synthetic vs natural fibre; signature style and minimal wardrobe.  Hot topics included recycle by exchange, shopping tips, Sew It Again mending and creating new from old.  Jane tends to hoard fabric offcuts and used buttons, and has a passion for real cotton thread.

Rethinking clothing culture doesn’t mean wearing your clothes until they fall apart at the seams, it means mindful immersion, repairing and refashioning your garments.

An attentive audience, Jane encouraged us to make thoughtful, ethical, informed choices to reduce our clothing footprint on the world.  Until recently, she regularly visited charity shops for secondhand garments but is currently resisting the temptation and working with what she’s got.  “We believe secondhand is the new organic and mending is good for the soul.  In return, we are liberated and satisfied.”

In her book Slow Clothing: finding meaning in what we wear Jane shares insights and upcycling advice.  She has created templates like Upcycled Collar and History Skirt, guiding home sewing conversion of a beloved garment to reflect the changes in our lives.

To provide meaning and story to her own favourite pieces, Jane Milburn restyles and sews her clothing by hand.  Currently testing t-shirt cotton drawstrings as an alternative to underwear elastic (elastic is made from synthetics) Jane stitches everything by hand.

Help! I can hear you say, nobody has hand-sewn an outfit since the mid-twentieth century––except maybe Vivienne Westwood––but don’t panic, Jane’s book provides testimonials, illustrations and clear instructions for eco-dyes and upside-down jumper skirts through to sewing on a button.  Eco-fashionistas unite!

Although Slow Clothing is a multifaceted, easy-to-read book with positive chapter headings (Purpose, Authenticity, Creativity, Action, Autonomy, Reflection) amid the ingenious apparel, I am missing a frivolous note, perhaps a ball gown?  On a serious mission, Jane has created a Slow Clothing Manifesto with ten tags to keep in mind when out shopping: think, natural, quality, local, few, care, make, revive, adapt, salvage.

IMG_20180723_091617Quotes from Jane embody the Slow Clothing philosophy “Slow Clothing brings wholeness through living simply, creatively and fairly” and “We buy thoughtfully, gain skills, and care for what we wear as an embodiment of ourselves.”  Personally I am hoping to see people clutching their Slow Clothing Manifesto cards at an op shop near me.

The current trail Jane Milburn is blazing makes fascinating reading.  Arts Queensland, meeting VIPs, War on Waste ABCTV, visiting 103-year-old Misao Jo in Osaka, hosting a Clothing Repair Café, conducting workshops and championing natural-fibre, Jane says “It has been personally satisfying to see the uptake of upcycling as a conscious practice with many young people interested in its potential for customising their clothes.”

Unfortunately I didn’t get to ask Jane Milburn how we go about combating the greed of designer labels.  But the clear message is––help reduce landfill by upcycling your clothes to reflect your own unique style.

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 or all complete episodes on iView.

ABCTV iView LogoABCTV Logo

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

Well worth watching!

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/

XXI Commonwealth Games – Gold Coast

Find out interesting things like events, history, medal tally, for the Commonwealth Games . . .

First, browsing through my Australian Stamp Bulletin, I saw that commemorative issue postage stamps will coincide with the start of XXI Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.  The Games sporting competitions commence 4 April 2018 and continue over 12 days until closing ceremony 15 April 2018.

I am more into literature than sporting pursuits but it’s going to be quite an event!  It appears that the blue surfing koala mascot Borobi (which means ‘koala’ in the indigenous language) is on postcards but not included on the stamps so I’ve added him further down the page.

Commonwealth Games Stamp Issue 2018 01 (1)

Game on!  This is the second time Queensland has hosted The Games.  The 1982 Commonwealth Games were held in Brisbane City from 30 September to 9 October 1982 and I actually attended.  Below, I have written a little bit of Games history to bore you with facts and figures.

A brief history of the Commonwealth Games

In 1891, John Astley Cooper first wrote about a sporting competition that would bring together members of the British Empire, but it wasn’t until 1911, at the coronation of King George V, that an ‘Inter-Empire Championships’ was held.  This event included teams from Australasia, Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Commonwealth Games Gold Coast 2018 Logo

The first official Commonwealth Games (called the British Empire Games) were held in 1930 in Hamilton, Canada.  Four hundred athletes from 11 countries competed in 59 events across 6 Core sports.  The Core sports have increased: athletics, boxing, lawn bowls, rowing, hockey, badminton, squash, weightlifting, rugby, aquatics (swimming and diving) and wrestling.  In the past women only competed in swimming events.  That’s all changed and now there’s something for everyone.  Gold Coast 21st Commonwealth Games will include 18 events.

In addition to the 10 Core sports there will be:

  • Basketball
  • Beach volleyball
  • Cycling (road, mountain bike and track)
  • Gymnastics (rhythmic and artistic)
  • Para power lifting
  • Shooting
  • Table tennis
  • Triathlon

Commonwealth Games Stats Graphics Medals

Since 1930, the Games have taken place every four years, except in 1942 and 1946 (due to World War II), and had a few name changes.  Although there are 53 members of the Commonwealth of Nations, 71 teams participate in the Commonwealth Games, as a number of dependent territories compete under their own flags.  The four Home Nations of the United Kingdom—England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland—also send separate teams.

Australia is the overall champion of the Commonwealth, having won 2218 medals in total, 852 in Gold.  England is second with 2008 and Canada is third with 1473.
(See below for new figures 2018)

Commonwealth Games Australia Map

The 2018 host city – Gold Coast

The host city for the 2018 Commonwealth Games is Gold Coast, Queensland, located just north of the Queensland/New South Wales border, and about 66 kilometres south of Brisbane.  The Gold Coast is a coastal city on the Pacific Ocean with a population of around 640,000 people.  It is the sixth-largest city in Australia (the largest non-capital city) and the second largest in Queensland (after Brisbane).

The Gold Coast is one of Australia’s major tourist destinations with its sunny sub-tropical climate, beautiful surfing beaches, theme parks and rainforest hinterland.  More than 10 million people visit the Gold Coast every year, including around one million international visitors.  It is also a film production hub with movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Thor: Ragnarok being filmed there.

The official XXI Commonwealth Games stamps have yet to be issued but, in the meantime, collectors may be interested in visiting superb WordPress stamp blogger The Snail Mail:
https://thesnailmail.wordpress.com/2018/03/02/my-favorite-is-the-fruity-stamp-from-malaysia-received-from-china-england-india-indonesia-malaysia-taiwan-the-u-s/

Here’s Borobi and souvenir merchandise https://shop.gc2018.com/collections/mascot-1

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Original 50cent coin from XII Commonwealth Games 1982 Brisbane Australia.
Commonwealth Games Stats 2018
XXI Commonwealth Games Medal Tally 2018

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

Koala Foundation Logo 05

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

Koala Crying in Gumtree 02

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

Bullying

Bullying 02
Behaviour

To quote Families Magazine “This poster will help your kids to differentiate and identify the difference between being RUDE, being MEAN and BULLYING.”

The self-explanatory poster is one of several free downloads on the website of Families Magazine, an A4 glossy magazine printed every two months and distributed in public libraries and places where families are in Brisbane, Ipswich, Toowoomba, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast, Australia.

Families Magazine says “Interactions with others can be confusing.  Sometimes what is considered bullying, may in fact be something else?  Bullying is a repetitive behaviour that is designed to intentionally hurt or belittle another person.”

All three behaviours are upsetting to a child, but bullying is the most destructive.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Garden Notes on a Warm Winter Day

Dear Diary, it’s a calm, warm July day, almost like an early Spring, but there are no butterflies or buzzing insects.  The crows call to each other across the back garden and noisy miners flit back and forth like feathered investigators on an important assignment.  The children in the house behind my suburban block are jumping on a netted trampoline and soon there will be a cry and a parent will take them off.  The towels have been on the Hills Hoist clothes line for two days.  A dried-out agapanthus head is sticking straight up out of the perennial foliage, a reminder that I am not a conscientious gardener.

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Tomatoes
Rosella Flower 01
Rosella
Pointsettia 002
Poinsettia
Agave 03
Agave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So saying, in a green square pot I have grown a very tall tomato plant with fat green tomatoes (above) emerging every day.  The old mandarin tree has a yearly crop of pale orange-coloured mandarins, and my rosella plants are flowering (above) while the spring onions and ginger roots carry on regardless.  There are non-native plants like a small pomegranate, poinsettia bright red and blooming (above) and our huge native gum tree towers over all of us; blossom for the parrots and fruit bats.  Special mention goes to our agave family.  These Mexican beauties (above) love our subtropical climate and we’ve given away more young plants than I can remember.

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Hoya

 

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Coffee Flower
Bird Nest 02
Nest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, there’s the herbs, for better or worse, always trying so hard … The trailing hoya (above) was a joy with its pink waxy flowers but recently it decided it had had enough and shrivelled up.  The ancient mulberry tree went the same way, dying in the drought a few years back, followed by the peach and avocado trees.  The coffee bean tree (above) survives anything.  We live on a sloping hill with poor soil which is interesting because many years ago cows grazed on the lush hillsides around us.  My father once said “All your good top soil has been washed downhill”.  Not so long ago the rich alluvial earth along the creek at the bottom of our street was plundered and no doubt sold for landscaping.

When I first lived here, the suburb was casual with a leafy roughness about it which made for a relaxed, friendly vibe.  Indeed, every home was owner/builder and most residents chose not to erect fences nor were there any footpaths.  Trees were planted to shade homes from the fierce western afternoon sun and if you were lucky you had a ceiling fan.  Ah, the 70s, a time of emerging from the past and forging ahead with little regard for past cultural or community identity but, in so doing, it created a unique city.  Strangely, if not surprisingly, it has taken about 40 years for the people of Brisbane, Queensland, to appreciate our subtropical city.  The past is now nostalgically and fondly remembered as the concrete is poured for yet another highrise apartment block.

If real estate developers would let us, we would return to our friendly, informal way of life instead of building cement block homes and painting them grey like every other capital city in Australia.  To take my mind off the screeching of chainsaws as they hack down another leopard tree (above) I will write a little bit about our front garden.

Palm Blossom 001
Date Palm
Alkina Flame Tree (6)
Flame Tree
Orchid on Flame Tree
Orchid
Jacaranda in Afternoon
Jacaranda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maiden Hair Fern
Fern

 

 

 

 

 

In the front garden, and I use the term loosely, there is structure and visions of edging and all, but I have let that slip.  Two tall palm trees (above) on either side of the house echo early Queensland-style seen in rural areas.  Tough-as-old-boots golden cane palms dot the area while I think our camellia is a Melbourne throwback.  The stocky Illawarra flame tree with its pink orchids (above) was planted to complement the purple jacaranda nextdoor (viewed from balcony).  I will not describe the weeds like camphor laurel, monstera or umbrella trees always springing up between the lemon scented tea-trees and more civilised shrubs.   Does anyone still grow ‘mother-in-law tongue’ and ‘cast-iron’ plants?  Cast iron is an unkillable broad leafed low-growing plant and I think it was beloved of early Victorians as either a hothouse or indoor plant in brass pots on wooden stands.

In the back garden, what there is left of our lawn is covered in bindii prickles thanks to lawn mowing contractors who disperse them willy-nilly via their lawn mower tyres.  You can read my screed on Lawn Mower Men.  There is a shallow bird bath under the eucalyptus tree for the enjoyment of noisy miner birds.  On a tiled outdoor table, I have my inherited maiden hair fern (above) in a small pretty terracotta pot.  The pot was thrown and fired by a neighbour and friend over thirty-five years ago.  This little fern is hardier than most!

Apart from hedging bushes of murraya, or mock orange, there is no strong scent in the garden and no ornamental plantings with fragrance except a straggly French lavender potplant.  Our forebears had a bit of foresight when it came to planting leafy, sheltering greenery in an otherwise hot landscape.  It’s our trees which stand out, they, and others like them, represent our suburban streetscape.  Long may they tower over us!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward