Wednesday, July 25, 2018


Joy and me...Circa 1962
Me....May, 1963

Randall and Me...our casual wedding day..Sunday, 21st March, 1976
My beloved Pushkin...circa Gympie
Southside, Gympie
Town Hall, Gympie
Tozer & Jeffery Building in Upper Mary Street, Gympie
Jones Hill, Southside, Gympie...progress is taking over....

Changes are happening around us all the time.  Some changes are for the better, some are not; some are worthwhile; some are pointless, to say the least - just plain silly – totally ridiculous. 

A few weeks ago, during one of the rare occasions I am allowed to roam free, un-tethered and unchaperoned among the populace, while enjoying a pleasant conversation with my local newsagent, I stated, “I’m glad I’m growing old!” 

A lady, similar in age to me, who was standing within earshot said, aghast;

 “How can you say that?”  

“Easily,” I replied.

 Smiling, I repeated my declaration, but slower the second time around.

 “See!  Easy!” I said.  

We burst into laughter. A pleasant conversation ensued between the two of us.

Thankfully, some things never change.  In this instance, I refer to enduring friendships; and one in particular that has extended over 70 years. 

On 6th July my long-standing friend, Darry, celebrated her birthday.  She does sit down at times, in case you’re wondering.

Darry was two months short of 9 years old when she and I met.  I was three and a half; six months shy of four years old. 

In May, 1948 a change of scenery occurred when my family, with me tagging along grasping my favourite doll, left Slade Point, a seaside suburb of Mackay. A steam train transported us to Gympie, where both my grandmother and mother had been born.   

Our new abode was across the street from Darry and her family’s home. 

Soon thereafter she became my first best friend. 

In the November, Darry ran across Fern Street, up our front stairs, to attend my fourth birthday party, and to help demolish my ice cream birthday cake.  The cake being a huge incentive, I imagine. 

It had been the first ice cream cake I had ever seen.  I believe similar applied to her.
Strangely, I wasn’t very fond of ice cream when I was a child.

Darry was my only “outside” guest.  The other invitees/attendees were my grandmother, mother and older brother, Graham.

Before Darry and I became mates my best friend, and only friend, had been my beautiful cat, “Socksie”.   I wrote my sad story about "Sockie"and posted it a couple of years ago.

Immediately upon meeting a strong bond was forged between Darry and me.

Our unique connection remains unbroken to this day.  

In 2002, a month after I arrived here on the mountain, Darry returned to Gympie from Brisbane.  On and off through the years, she'd lived and worked in the city.

For a couple of years or so, for a change of scenery, she worked in London, too. 

We enjoyed phone conversations over the past couple of weeks, during which she and I discussed the uniqueness of our friendship. 

There would be few people who have a similar relationship to the one Darry and I share. 

For a nine year old and four year old to become good friends is distinct, unusual in its self.  Such a difference in age at that stage in a child’s life is massive. Our age difference made no difference to us.  It never has - not when she was 15 and I was 10; not when she was 18 and I, 13 years... and so on. 

We played together. We enjoyed listening to records.  Often Friday nights were spent together at her home.  How I looked forward to those ‘sleep-overs”.  Impatiently, I would wait for permission to be allowed to race across the street.  Mum or Nana wouldn’t let me leave until dinner time had passed. 

 “It’s not polite to arrive on someone’s doorstep at meal times!”  Was the rule in our home.
Those Friday nights would be spent giggling, talking, playing records, singing along to our favourite songs.  Musicals such as “Oklahoma”,  “Carousel” and “My Fair Lady” were high on our list.

We shared our dreams. We carried on like a pair of loonies. We tried to skate together with only one pair of roller skates between us. With one skate on her right foot, and the other skate on my left foot, our arms entwined, we weren’t very graceful as we “skated” along her garden path. 

Aspirations of becoming a world-acclaimed skating duo were scrapped pretty much straight away. 

Games of shuttlecock, with “monkey nuts” off the palm trees in our yard stuck into the cone-shaped shuttle, which turned them into speedy missiles were enjoyed after school. No eyes were lost in the process.  No humans, cats, dogs or guinea pigs were harmed.

Darry had friends of her own age, as did I once I began school.  However, our friendship remained uninterrupted. 

The strength of our friendship doesn’t change even though we don’t talk every week – or even every month.  But, when we do catch up, it is as if we’d only chatted, or saw each other  “yesterday”.

An everlasting alliance beyond our control began in 1948.  It was in our stars - our destiny - our fate - whatever it’s called. 

Darry turned 79 on 6th July. Her sense of humour hasn’t changed.  She’s the wonderful, straight-shooting, honest, nonjudgmental person she has always been.

Another good friend of mine with whom I’ve been friends since we met in our early years of primary school celebrates her birthday on 7th August.  

During our teenage years Joy and I, along with a couple of other girlfriends spent every weekend during spring, summer and autumn at the coast, surfing, sun-baking and dancing our feet off at the record hops.  

Joy’s younger brother, Russell - she had three brothers – two were older than her - and my brother, Graham were lifesavers with the Noosa Heads Surf Lifesaving Club.  Both Graham and Russell are no longer with us.  Six months after my brother passed away, which was 6th June, 1998, Joy’s husband, Rod died.

During our loss, our grief, we were “rocks” for each other.    

Joy and Rod had four children...two boys and two girls, all of whom are wonderful people.

After my brother fell ill, early in 1998 I knew I needed to move back down to South-East Queensland from the north to be closer to him.  At my request, he’d been transferred from the Townsville hospital to a Brisbane hospital for treatment.

It was Joy I called upon for assistance in my transition.  I didn’t want to move back to the city, having left city-living in 1979.  I had no desire to return to the city. 

Gympie, to me was my logical choice.  I knew the town well, and it was only a couple of hours drive to Brisbane, a trip I ended up doing every day until Graham's passing six weeks after my returning to Gympie.  I missed only one day, perhaps two, in between working, when Graham was hospitalised.   

Looking back now, I’m not sure how I managed to do that, but I did.  We can achieve much when it is what we must to do.

From Mackay, I rang Joy who has never lived anywhere else other than Gympie, explaining what was going on in my life.  She had friends who, at the time, were seeking a tenant to take up residency in an investment rental property they owned.   

Sight unseen, Joy’s friends took her at her word, and character reference.  They took  me on as their tenant.  

Joy also contacted the owners of Gunabul Restaurant-Function House explaining my situation. 

Wasting no further time, at 7 pm, Anzac Day, Saturday, 25th April, 1998, I hit the Bruce Highway at Nebo Road, Mackay.  I headed destination was Gympie, my old hometown that I’d left many years July, 1965.

I had both a job and a home waiting for me upon my arrival from Mackay where I’d been managing a motel.  For the first week until the rental property was ready for occupancy I was Rod and Joy’s house guest. 

My ginger cat, Pushkin, was also their guest.  Pushkin, who had travelled the length of Queensland with me, living here there and everywhere,  (Pushkin also lived on Newry Island with me, preferred to remain out of sight and out of the way of Rod and Joy’s two cattle dogs.  One dog was a Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog) and the other a Kelpie. 

Joy and her now late husband, Rod ran beef cattle on their property, on the banks of the Mary River, at what is known as the “Southside” of Gympie.  The property is around 360 acres in area (145 hectares).   The road that runs along the property bears their family name.

As well as breeding cattle, Rod owned and operated, with staff, a Gympie butcher shop, Joy. on the other hand, owned and operated her own hairdressing salon through the years.

55 years ago....7th July, 1963....(funny how times slips away)...Joy turned 19 years of age.  It was a Wednesday.  On the Saturday night, the 10th July, a birthday celebration was held at her family home.   

Her family home was partly high-set. The party was held underneath the house.  The floor was concreted and wooden palings formed the "walls" of the underneath section of the house. 

Coloured lights, streamers and popular music of the time soon put the party-goers in a merry mood.  

I remember the evening well.  Along with 20 or so other happy teenagers, I danced, and danced, and danced the night away. 

One of the guests at Joy’s party that evening was a young man, a relative stranger to the town.  He’d only arrived in Gympie a few weeks previously to join the staff at the local radio station as a radio announcer.   

I’d only seen the handsome young fellow from afar as he walked past my place of employment....the office of solicitors, Tozer and Jeffery.  For the first few weeks in town, until he found suitable shared accommodation, the young man was a guest at a hotel, The Freemasons, which was just up the road a bit from where I worked.

The evening of Joy’s party we just nodded and smiled at each other.  I remember him dancing nearby to where I was.  We bumped into each other a couple of times, accidentally, but that was our only interaction that night.

How was I to know then, on the 10th July, 1963, in the future, he and I would become boyfriend and girlfriend; and then, a couple of years later, become engaged...and then a few years down the track, become husband and wife? 

The handsome young stranger was Randall, who would become - after his lengthy overseas odyssey, travelling wide and far; after spending almost a decade living and working in New York - my second husband. Randall is now my ex, but remains a good friend – a best friend.

Through the years Randall would jokingly tease me, stating my bumping into him the night of Joy's party wasn't accidental.  If I did, it was, on my part, anyway.  He's always had a vivid imagination!

Old friends...are good friends, even better friends....

It’s comforting – good for the soul - to know some things don’t change... 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018


 (A bit of frivolous fun...for my enjoyment...I hope you enjoy it, too)

While I walked along Electric Avenue, via Penny Lane, Sunday Morning Was Coming Down. As I approached the Bridge Over Trouble Waters, at the Dark End of the Street, the sun had begun to peep around Blueberry Hill.  Its early morning rays sparkled on Moon River. 

It was then I got the shock of my life.

Someone wearing a Raspberry Beret called out, “Hey there, Georgy Girl! Hello!  Is It Me You’re Looking For?”  

Feeling a little Breathless, laughingly I replied, “I Ain’t Misbehavin’, but...If You Could Read My Mind....”

 “No! No! It’s okay if you were.  Me and Bobby McGee heard you were Leaving on a Jet Plane. We wanted wish you Bye Bye Baby!” 

Looking closer, I realised it was Bad Bad Leroy Brown. 

Following closely behind him were Mr. Bojangles, Daniel, Fernando, Sweet Baby James, the son of Tom Dooley, and, of all people, Louie Louie!  

I found myself suddenly surrounded by familiar, friendly faces.   

And then, I noticed Frankie and Johnny, joined by Rocket Man aka Bennie and the Jets, had approached from The Other Side.

They’d come out of Nowhere Man. 

With my mates unexpectedly arriving all at once I felt as if I was Defying Gravity, not before I’d turned a Whiter Shade of Pale, though.  The last time I’d seen them was On the Beach, Sitting On the Dock of the Bay, which Seems Like a Long Time ago. 

Come on, Eileen! Let’s Get the Party Started! I Wanna Dance with Somebody! It’s My Party! Let’s Get This Party Started!”  Mrs Robinson yelled out.    

Any earlier, she would’ve been Dancin’ in the Dark!   She’s always up for excuse needed. Mrs Robinson would Party on the Moon, if that was possible!

I’d had Georgia on My Mind for the past few weeks, and to my surprise, there she was, as large as life, standing alongside Sweet Caroline, with the Bette Davis Eyes. Everybody’s Talkin’ about them.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, I guess.

 Do You Want to Know a Secret?” Sadie, the Cleaning Lady, leaned across and whispered to me.

I nodded in reply. 

Peggy Sue Got Married!”  

“Go on with you!  That’ll be the Day!”  I declared in disbelief.

“She and Cotton Eye Joe celebrated by doing the Macarena, and then they had Breakfast at Tiffany’s down along Copperhead Road!”

Oh! My Goodness!   I always thought Donna was his Dream Lover!  That’s the Way It Is, I guess!” I continued, shaking my head.

Hey, Jude!” I called out.  Hats Off to Larry! I Heard It Through the Grapevine after he was falsely accused of stealing Jessie’s Girl he told the rumourmongers to Beat It, in no uncertain terms.  

Instead of gossiping, people should Try a Little Tenderness for a change – Imagine!  I’d be Dancing in the Street, or Dancing on the Ceiling if that were to happen – or both!”

If You Go we Gonna Get Along Without You Now?” Wailed Jolene.

I was Born to Run the Hotel California, but after the Fire and Rain, followed by the Dust in the Wind it became A Pub With No Beer.  Rolling in the Deep I could do little Against the Wind After the Storm.  

As everything unfolded, it sure wasn’t a Bed of Roses. I was Livin’ On a Prayer. 

In the end, I had no choice but to Give It Up.  It was a Sign of the Times.

I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues, but, Hallelujah! I’m Still Standing With a Little Help From My Friends - That’s What Friends Are For.

How fortunate I was to have everyone present for The Last Farewell.

All of you are my Heroes”, I said, “But, Here Comes the Sun.  So I’d best be On the Road Again. It’s Hello Goodbye. This is One Moment in Time that will remain with me forever.

By the Time I Get To Phoenix I’ll be Walking on Sunshine along the Long and Winding Road surrounded by Strawberry Fields Forever.”

Like a Rolling Stone, once again I was on My Way, but I left with the Satisfaction of knowing I wasn’t Under Pressure; that the Changes about to happen in my Golden Years weren’t going to make me feel All Shook Up.  It’s Now or Never....there would be No Looking Back....

It’s time to Hit the Road, Jack...That's the Way It Is....

Mixed Berry Salad:  In a large bowl add 2c kale, broken up, 1c chopped strawberries, 1c blueberries, 1c blackberries , if available (if not, increase amount of other berries),1/4c sliced almonds and1/4c feta; toss.  Make dressing: Add 1/2c Greek yoghurt, 1/2c chopped strawberries, 1tbs milk, 3tbs sugar, and 4tsp cider vinegar to a food processor or blender; pulse until smooth. Whisk in 2tsp poppy seeds. Drizzle desired amount over salad; toss.

Berry Balsamic Grilled Cheese Sandwich: In a saucepan, on med-heat, mix 1c blueberries, 1c diced strawberries, 1-1/2ts coconut sugar/sugar, and 1tbs balsamic . Smash berries gently as you stir, letting it get to a boil. Remove berries from saucepan; place in strainer over a bowl. Use the leftover juice as a salad dressing. Take one slice of bread, of choice; spread 1 tsp butter on the side you will be frying or grilling. Place mozzarella shreds, berry mixture, spinach, more cheese, salt and/pepper on bread slice; cover with another slice; fry or grill on both sides until golden.

Blueberry Cake: Preheat oven 175C. Lightly butter an 8 or 9-inch spring-form pan; dust with flour. Or use an 8 or 9-inch round cake pan, butter and dust with flour and line bottom with baking paper. Vigorously whisk together 1c plain flour with 1ts baking powder,1/2tsp salt, and 1/8th tsp cinnamon; set aside. Beat 1/2c unsalted butter for 2mins; add 3/4c sugar; beat until light and fluffy; stir in 1/4tsp vanilla. Add 2 large eggs, 1 at a time; beat until well blended. Stir in 1tsp lemon zest. Reduce speed to low; slowly add the flour, beating until smooth. Pour into prepared cake pan.  Toss 2c blueberries, rinsed and drained in flour and 1tsp lemon juice; spoon the berry mixture over the batter. Bake on middle rack, 50-55mins.  Remove from oven; cool in pan, 10mins. Remove from pan; dust with icing sugar to serve.

Blueberry Beet Juice: Blend together ½ large, peeled, raw beetroot, 4 med-carrots, 2 med-Granny Smith apples and 1/2c blueberries. 

Monday, July 09, 2018


The resort and a staff member...and me again
Cape Richards, Hinchinbrook Island, looking down upon Orchid Beach
Aerial view of Orchid Beach and Cape Richards to the right

Below is a happy tale of uplifting moments during my life on Hinchinbrook Island.  Forgive me (or not) if I’ve told this story before.

Air Whitsundays’ Grumman Mallard flew guests to the island, departing from Townsville airport and landing in the waters off to the left of the island jetty.

More often than not, the guests alighted from the door at the rear of the aircraft, wide-eyed.  Always there to greet them was a couple of my staff members and me.

One or two of us protected the resort’s motored punt from the Mallard’s fuselage, as we assisted the new arrivals (and their luggage) from the seaplane onto the punt. Depending on the seas on any given day, the chore could, at times, be quite an effort.

The Grumman Mallard was an amphibian aircraft – meaning it could take off and land on both land and water - a flying boat with wheels. It was a cumbersome old aircraft, but so very beautiful, with an interesting history attached. 

The Grumman Mallard was first produced in 1946.  Only 59 were built. It was rumoured this particular aircraft was once owned by the Aga Khan. 

As mentioned in previous posts, I loved flying in the old girl.

***The punt, in reality, belonged to AIMS.... The Australian Institute of Marine Science... Australia’s tropical marine research agency. The headquarters are based at Cape Ferguson, about 50km from Townsville.  It’s an international landmark in tropical marine science, adjacent to the centre of the Great Barrier Reef, and surrounded by a 207 hectare national park and marine reserve.  Because we allowed AIMS to moor their punt at the resort’s jetty, AIMS allowed us use of the punt....quid pro quo...

Upon landing on the ocean, water leaked...dripped...through the top of the plane into the cabin. This, of course, caused a certain amount of consternation to the passengers.   
It was of no concern.  It was never going to sink.

One story we often told the guests after they’d settled in to the island way of life, while they enjoyed a drink around the bar, was about an elderly lady who boarded the Grumman Mallard at Townsville airport, only to land on the waters off Hinchinbrook. No one had thought to explain to her this would happen. On the verge of a heart attack or nervous break-down, or both, she downed a bottle of Scotch before being taken to her cabin!

One sunny day, a new group of eager, albeit stressed, guests arrived.

Among them was a reserved, shy, bearded young man of around 36 years of age.

Standing apart, he placed himself at the outer rim of the guests circling the bar the first evening, preferring to watch, listen and appreciate, but not partake in the merriment.

On the second evening of his stay, prior to dinner, I joined him at the end of the bar, subtly and gently coaxing him to converse. His speech was slightly impaired. Quietly, he and I, uninterrupted by others, spoke at length.

After a while, he relaxed.  Richard was his name. 

Richard told me about the past eighteen months of his life.

He had suffered a stroke.

The stroke was the reason he grew his beard.  He used it as a disguise to cover the disfigurement to one side of his face.

Richard was a lawyer, visiting the resort on Hinchinbrook Island, from Sydney, New South Wales.

He described to me the shock he’d felt from having suffered a stroke at such a young age.   
Richard told me he found the hardest part to cope with after his stroke was looking in the mirror and not recognizing the person staring back at him.  He had to learn how to speak and eat again.

For some time after the stroke it was necessary for him to use a straw to drink, and to eat.  His food had to be pureed, turning his meals into soup, because he couldn’t chew food.

His holiday to the island was his form of therapy to get his life back on track.

His reticence in joining the other guests was from his lack of confidence in himself and his appearance.

I assured Richard there was little wrong with his speech - that he was easily understood. It was only when he drew attention to it did others really notice any impairment. 

I also assured him, what he called his ‘disfigurement’, was hardly discernible; and that anyone who was worth their salt wouldn’t care, anyway.  If anyone did care, then they were not worthy of the generosity of his company and time.   One side of his face...around the corner of his mouth drooped a little.  His beard hid that part of his face.

That night I was to dine with some of the guests.  I insisted Richard join us. I told him I would make it worth his while, by coercing and tempting him with a bottle or two of Henschke’s “Hill of Grace”.   It worked!

Those of you who know your Australian red wines will know that “Hill of Grace” is almost on par to Penfolds Grange Hermitage.  In those days on the island I always kept a case of “Hill of Grace” ‘out the back’ for special guests and moments. I believed this was one of those moments.  Richard was a special guest.  He was a special fellow.

Things happened spontaneously at the resort.   Spontaneous is always best, in my opinion.

On the Sunday night of Richard’s holiday, everyone was in a very happy, partying mood. A celebration broke out amongst the guests and the staff.

I raced over to my little house at the base of Cape Richards, to collect more cassettes to add to those in the restaurant's stock.

Everyone was laughing, talking and dancing together.

Again, Richard hovered around the outskirts of the group.  Taking a couple of my staff aside, I asked them to go to the laundry room taking the guests with them.  Their orders for the evening were to have the guests dress in togas created from the seldom used, older, floral bed sheets.

Without hesitation, or further prompting, with bubbling hilarity, the guests followed my staff’s lead.

Soon, they all reappeared.  In no time at all a ‘toga party’ was under way.

I grabbed a spare sheet, threw it at Richard, who had no other choice than to wrap it around his body, over the clothes he was wearing.

Ignoring his protests, I clutched his arm and dragged him over to the rest of the dancing party. His protests were quickly drowned out by the singing, dancing, laughing group of people.

Before too long, he forgot his reserve, his shyness and any affliction he ‘thought’ he had.

The other guests took him under their wings. Tossing his inhibitions aside, he ended up high-kicking higher than the rest of them!

Someone led the merry group out onto the deck surrounding the swimming pool.   Of course, soon thereafter everyone was in the pool.

It was a wonderful, happy, unexpected harmless evening, one that re-affirmed the greatness of people; the generosity of their spirit.  It was an evening that restored the joy of life to one young man.

The day arrived for Richard’s departure. He had spent seven days and nights on the island. His looming departure was an emotional time. My staff, other guests and I were sad to see him leave, but happy knowing we had made a difference.

Bidding him farewell at the end of the jetty as he boarded the punt, tears filled my eyes, and flooded, unashamedly, down my cheeks.

Richard asked if he could take a photograph of me.

I replied, “Sure…as long as I can take one of you!”

Simultaneously, we took one of each other - taking one of each other! 

The photograph remains among my cherished Hinchinbrook Island memorabilia.

About two weeks after Richard’s return to Sydney and the “real world”, I received a letter from him. 

In it he expressed how he felt renewed and rejuvenated in a way that no amount of professional therapy could have made him feel.  He wrote he was now ready to face life with confidence. Richard thanked my staff and me on for helping him. Without us, he said, he would still be battling the demons that had been hounding him since the stroke.

Tears again fell freely as I read his letter, but I felt proud, not only for what he felt we had done, but at having the opportunity of knowing Richard.  His presence had had a positive affect on us, too.   

Meeting him and having spent the time with him was one of my life’s bonuses.

I often wonder how his life progressed after his holiday on the island.  I wish him well, wherever he may be.  I hope whatever path he chose to trod, it led him to happiness, love and peace.

***  I have no idea why this section insists on being a larger font...I've tried a million times (slight exaggeration) to make it consistent with the rest of the text...but to no avail....)