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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The final leg of our trip; Wandoan to Brisbane...

DH and I left Wandoan by 8am and headed towards the nearest larger town, Miles. We decided not to stop there, instead driving on to the town of Chinchilla where we had the most marvellous cooked breakfast. It was at a little cafe just on the outskirts of the town. I asked the waitress if the floods had affected this part of town as the business section of the town went right under. She pointed to the front door and said that the water came up to the door handles...and the door was at the top of a set of stairs!

The cafe at Chinchilla

Railway bridge at Chinchilla still with flood debris
On our drive this day we continually came across huge trucks loaded with mining equipment and vehicles as our journey was well and truly in the large basin of coal reserves that are being mined. These vehicles were enormous and had a 'forward' utility truck well ahead giving warning of the wideload coming as well as another ute following the wide vehicle. Prior warning is needed as these roads carry a lot of regular sized trucking vehicles who need to pull over if one of the 'super-sized' ones is coming; no room for passing in many cases!

One of the over sized trucks
After Chinchilla we had a stop at a tiny town called Warra. A student teacher whom I once supervised (10 years ago) is the Principal there. The total enrollment number is 12...but 2 were away so I only met 10 of her students. You guessed's a one teacher school! They were lovely children and very independent workers. (A bit of trivia here about Warra...Ludwig Leichhardt camped beside the creek there on his journey in 1844) :-)

Next stop was the centre of Dalby. It's very hard to get accomodation there these days because of the mining companies using motel rooms for workers, but luckily we only needed petrol (gas).

One of the wide streets in Dalby

Next stop was Toowoomba where DH went to his favourite menswear shop for a browse. Then it was a drive 'down the range' towards the city of Ipswich and then home via the motorway.

Toowoomba business district

Part of the road going down the range from Toowoomba
A map of our trip. Wandoan I've market with a dot between Taroom and  Miles. Chinchilla isn't on the map but it is south east of Miles.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Yet more about our recent road trip...

The last installment was about the journey from Rockhampton towards the south and west. The last larger centre before we reached Wandoan, was Taroom. When I was in Grade 5, we studied Australian explorers and one with whom I was fascinated, was Ludwig Leichhardt. A feature of the town of Taroom is the 'Leichhardt Tree'. The tree is believed to be over 300 years old and bears the carved initials of that explorer and the numerals '44' which meant 1844, when Leichhardt and his party passed through the area on their way north to Port Essington. (over the years the bark grew back over the carving)

The Leichhardt tree

The Leichhardt tree

The quaint courthouse in Taroom
Later in the afternoon we reached Wandoan where DH's eldest daughter is teaching. Meg took us on a tour of the town which took about 10 minutes as she had predicted. It is outside the town where all the action is...mining. I had mentioned in a previous post that the old mining town of Mt Morgan no longer has mining industry and this has happened to a number of former mining towns. But in the central part of Qld, there are huge coal and gas deposits and China is a big (no make that 'huge market') market for our coal. There is a downside though...suddenly rental houses and caravan/cabin sites have been priced so high as to out of reach of non mining families. The motel where DH and I stayed was mostly booked out by the mining companies for their workers' accomodation. So tourists are finding it hard to get accomodation.

The old railway station

And many of these towns  are concerned with the trend of Fly In, Fly Out workers and I guess there are many arguments for and against. It would be unfair of me not to mention the fact that the mining  companies (in Wandoan's case, Xstrata) put money back into the community, including facilities for the school.

Any way getting back to talking about Wandoan. We visited Meg in her Dept of Education accomodation which was very nice. DH and I also accompanied Meg on a tour of the school. Like most other Australian schools they had received federal funding for school facilities. being a teacher, I peered in windows to see classroom displays etc. The school is a Prep-10 campus.

When we had booked into the motel weeks earlier, on Meg's advice, we booked a table for 3 in the motel's restaurant. When we checked in after our tour of the town, the manager informed us that a) she was having 'chef problems' and b) the restaurant didn't open on Sunday nights (which it was). I bridled at this but DH didn't want any fuss. I wanted to know why the person who took the booking didn't say that the restaurant wouldn't be open...but for DH I kept silent...but I was fuming as it's this attitude that kills tourism. But the hospitality industry in these towns don't care about tourism...they get plenty of business from the big mining companies...complacency is becoming rife in my opinion.

So groceries left from our stock...we were at the mercy of the  cafes in town. We were so lucky that the cafes were open on a Sunday night! We took our food (hamburgers and chips) back to the motel and spent the evening catching up with Meg (which was good of course).

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Newmarket Mums...

Today this group had our annual Christmas Lunch together. I've talked about this group in a number of posts this year...we all had children at school together and became friends as we worked on tuckshop rosters and the myriad of fund-raising ventures at the school as well as Sewing Bee Mondays. Our children are now in their early 30s down to the mid twenties and each of us have had our share of problems over the years and the group has supported members in these crises. We meet for coffee the last Sunday of the month and for our November meet, we bring food to a member's place. this year our hostess was Carmel.

There was certainly no shortage of food today and we've reached the stage in our lives where we savour our food and hang the kilojoules/calories! lol
We were all delighted by our Secret Santa gifts...I got a kit for growing cherry tomatoes and some ginger chocolates. How appropriate and 'how Maria' was that!

Presents from Secret Santa
Inside my gift bag!

The beautiful kookaburra I spied in the tree near the deck

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Another busy Saturday...

My day started early today. I got up at 5.30 so I could ice some patty cakes that I made last night for our church Christmas craft market today. I also wanted to make and ice a slice for this afternoon.

When I arrived at the church just before 7.30, the stall holders were busy setting up in the hall, the courtyard and in the actual church itself. I was part of the team who were setting up the morning teas. It wasn't long though before we had some customers...stallholders who wanted a cuppa and plate of goodies before the 'rush' started. My friend Carmen brought her husband Dave along and he nicely volunteered to cut up several kgs of onions ready for the BBQ. It was a case of 'wish I'd known'....I would have brought along my 'V-slicer' to make Dave's job much easier. Some of the onions were so strong that people on the other side of the kitchen had eyes stinging!

In one of the lull periods I went for a little wander around the stalls and bought some nice gifts for people on my list. There was some beautiful jewellery made by a friend, Erica Long, as well as a number of stalls with beautiful handsewn items, including some made by Erica's mum, Margaret. Many of the stall holders who go to the Stafford Heights markets were there. There were also stalls with other handcrafted items, as well as divine cakes, jams, preserves and some plants. I ran out of money before I'd finished browsing; no credit facilities and that's part of the charm. I have plans to contact some of the stallholders and order some items that I think will be excellent presents.

This afternoon we went to the wedding of my BIL, Gary. DH and I were the witnesses, a cousin was the celebrant and the family and friends of the couple had the most delightful afternoon in a suburban backyard of Brisbane. The bride's 4 children walked their mum down the aisle (the back steps) and then we had a very short ceremony due to the ill-health of the bridegroom. A chair had been put ready for him to sit on should he need too...with sheer determination he stood for the ceremony and then signed the documents...the 2 strokes left him unable to write but he has practised and practised until he could print his name. Naturally a sadness underlies this celebration today but we all had a great time with lots of laughing and joking...

There was a circus in the park next door!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The first of the Christmas get togethers...

Today was a busy day for me. This morning I went to my SIL's Ladies Christmas Lunch that she hosts each year for her 'crafting' friends. As I'm now retired this was my first year at this 'do'. M decorates her house in the same way that people in the US do...from top to bottom her house is full of Christmas magic. My BIL and SIL have a beautiful home and they are both such welcoming hosts. Most of the items which are decorating the house (wall hangings, banners etc), have been made by M herself and these items are a real credit to her. I took a number of photos but realise now that I left some rooms out. Here are some of the photos...

At 2 o'clock I headed off for my 6 monthly check up at the cardiologist. (No big dramas, just developed a racing heart after DD2 was born) He was happy with all the test results and the BP and pulse reading he I'm VERY happy!

After that it was off to meet some former work colleagues for our month Coffee catch up. They are all still working and are really looking forward to the long holidays coming up. I'll see them again in a few weeks when I attend the Year 7 graduation dinner at school, as I got my invitation yesterday.

So after all that dashing around today DH and I are going to settle down for a quiet dinner and some ABC shows...absolute bliss!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Our brief stop at Mount Morgan...

On our way home from Rockhampton DH and I drove inland through a number of regional towns. It was a Sunday and we left Emu Park by 8am and the plan was to have breakfast in the old mining town of Mt Morgan. Arriving in Mt Morgan, we followed the signs to the tourist information centre, which is in the old most other regional towns, the railway no longer runs. DH had not been to this town before but I had visited it in the 1970s, when mining was still being carried and copper. On that trip I even did the tour of the smelter (?) and saw ingots being made. I can still remember how hot the buildings were on the tour...not surprising when they had a huge vat of molten metal, being tipped into moulds! Alas no more...

At the info centre, this Sunday (I'm emphasising the SUNDAY aspect) while DH went in to inquire of recommended places in town for breakfast, I chatted to the cat lying outside. I patted it and told it how beautiful it was. Before we left, I put my head around the door and told the ladies manning the centre, how beautiful the cat was. One lady said that the cat just walked in about 5 years ago and stayed...she then said in a worried voice, 'I hope you didn't touch her'! Oh dear had I done something wrong? I admitted that I had patted the cat and tickled behind her ears. The woman was amazed and said the cat normally scratches any one (strangers) who touches her. I was relieved...for a moment I thought the cat must have had some terrible disease!!! lol

Back to the fact it was Sunday...we had the choice of 2 places who were open for breakfast, so headed for the town centre. To make a long story short, DH and I each had a meat pie for breakfast...not quite what DH a little cafe or bustling bistro serving elegant brunches. It was a delicious pie but I'm not very good at eating a pie out of a paper bag...without getting messy :-(.

The bakery; we ate our pies at the little table outside

Some of the buildings in the town

After breakfast we were back on the road to Banana...yes that's the name of the town. From there we drove on to Theodore where we stopped at a quaint cafe which was also an antiques shop. The town was looking pretty good, which is amazing as the population were evacuated twice during the flooding crisis earlier this year. Most of the town went under. The next main town we passed through was Taroom. Our final destination that Sunday was Wandoan. But more about that in the next post.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The reason for our road trip...the wedding!

On Saturday, November 12, DH's god-daughter married her sweetheart on the beach near Zilzie. The vista was beautiful...the on-shore wind was strong. The dress code was 'Cocktail' but most guests went barefoot or wore sandals/scuffs for the ceremony. Because of the wind, it was hard to hear what the celebrant said but everyone got the gist of what was being said! lol

The bride's mother had been a friend of DH's first wife; they had both attended Teachers' College together. When I came along, Ann was very welcoming and we've all stayed close. Ann was widowed when her girls were very little, and she very proudly walked the bride down the beach to the ceremony. The bride's dress was had beautiful beading on the bodice. The 'boys' were a bit more casual in their attire and demeanour. The sisters of the bride and bridegroom were the bridesmaids and they looked lovely in blue and silver dresses.

After the ceremony we went to the Zilzie Resort where drinks and nibblies were served between 5-6, when we then moved to the function room for the reception. DH and I had a lovely evening. We were honoured to be seated at the family table.

It's just the way it worked out but there were many more of the bridegroom's family and friends at the wedding than those of the bride. We did hear that Ann was disappointed that more people from Brisbane didn't attend but DH and I discussed this...It would have cost several hundreds of dollars for flights and accomodation plus wedding presents, or alternatively a long drive and many people may not have that money spare. DH & I went because we turned it into a little holiday and also we could go and see Meg on our way home.