Sunday, December 4, 2011

Childers Palace Backpackers Hostel


IMG_5297 - Copy

The Childers Palace Backpackers Hostel fire on 23 June 2000 killed 15 backpackers: nine women and six men. The hostel in the town of Childers, Queensland, was popular amongst backpackers who undertook seasonal fruit picking work in the area.

After the fire, Bill Trevor, the Isis Shire Mayor, travelled to England and the Netherlands to consult the bereaved families about the memorial proposals. He negotiated to rebuild the Palace in its original early-1900s style. 


The building became an art gallery incorporating a memorial to the 15 backpackers, a 7.7-metre-long glass wall which incorporates pictures from photos of each of the backpackers, designed by Queensland artist Sam Di Mauro.  To date, more than one million people have visited the Palace Memorial Building.  (Picture from


File:Childers backpackers painting.jpg

“Taking a Break in the Field” an oil painting on linen.

Artist: Josonia Palaitis; Photographer:  Mary Lewis, mother of Michael Lewis, one of the backpackers (from Wikipedia.)

Sydney artist Josonia Palaitis was selected to paint portraits of those killed.  The artist's greatest challenge was to suitably portray the youngsters from the photos of them provided by their families: she managed to arrange them while maintaining the precise poses of those photos. The background was researched by her to be typical of the Isis area fields where they had worked picking crops.


IMG_5481 - Copy - Copy

Behind the building is situated the Palace Motel, which still offers accommodation to backpackers.  When we visited, this unusual Cassia Rainbow Shower tree (Cassia fistula x javanica) was flowering in the courtyard.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dandenong Ranges, October 2011.


As part of our “girls’ weekend” in Melbourne, Judy and I headed out to the Yarra Valley, via the Dandenongs, about 35km east of Melbourne. 



We drove up into the hills along a road lined with overflowing banks of delicate white flowers, passing energetic cyclists, some fitter than others.



Sassafras is a pretty, touristy town on the range, where Judy did lots of shopping, and I took lots of pictures.

One of the shops displayed the dolls’ house, c 1910, of Dame Zara Bates, wife of the Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt, who disappeared in 1967 while swimming off the beach near Portsea, east of Melbourne.



Sassafras flower-studded Village Green.


IMG_3813 - Copy

Pansies did well in Sassafras.


IMG_3826 - Copy

The Dandenong Ranges have been popular with day trippers from Melbourne from the 1870s onwards.


IMG_3824 - Copy

The caption under this picture from a Lands Department tourist brochure of 1917 reads:

“along its course enormous trees spring from groves of Sassafras, hazel and fern; while a crystal stream flowing down the glen o’erhung with ferns and native shrub conveys the sensation of delicious coolness even on the hottest day…”


IMG_3829 - Copy

Miss Marples’ Tea Room, Maree told us, is the kind of place where you take your mother.  Miss Marples’ owner must hold considerable sway with the local council, as the establishment was the only shop in the upmarket parking-at-a-premium village with a “no parking” zone in front of it, which is good for the patrons at the tables on the footpath, and also allows the building to be photographed more easily.



Sassafras daisies.



Sassafras colour.



More Sassafras colour.



Blue delphiniums. 

I grew up loving this A.A.Milne poem, The Dormouse and the Doctor which begins this way:

There once was a Dormouse who lived in a bed
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red),
And all the day long he'd a wonderful view
Of geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue).

Living in North Queensland, I knew about geraniums (red) but always – like the dormouse, when his geraniums and delphiniums were replaced, at the doctor’s orders, by chrysanthemums (yellow and white) - had to imagine delphiniums (blue).  Until now.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Queen Comes to Queensland

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh came to Brisbane today, so Bob and I went to see them. 
Because of their ages, our ages and the frequency with which each of us visits the other’s country, we thought this could be our last chance.

IMG_3989 - Copy
Hopeful spectators lined the Victoria Bridge.

Not being amongst those people who arrived hours early to stake themselves a spot, we parked ourselves on the river bank, rather precariously, with our legs dangling down on the rocks.  We were some distance from where the Queen’s boat would arrive, but still closer than these people on the bridge.

Meanwhile, these people had secured themselves a vantage spot on a balcony on this building on the opposite side of the river.

The Queen and Prince Philip were taken on a cruise from Brett’s Wharf up the Brisbane River to Southbank, to see some areas which had been inundated by the January floods.
We thought she would be on this spick and span ferry flying  the red ensign – but we were wrong.

Police boats whizzed around officiously.

IMG_3998 - Copy
I think this one was showing off a bit.

Finally, along came the fancy boat the Queen was actually on.

IMG_4009 - Copy
Here come the Queen!  Prince Philip is behind her, carrying his panama hat.
Buckingham Palace described her dress as “pistachio”.

IMG_4010 - Copy
The Queen steps off the gangplank onto the wharf.  Prince Philip is behind the post.

IMG_4011 - Copy (2)
This is my best picture of both the Queen and the Duke.
Anna Bligh, in red, is behind the Queen, while the lady in the pink jacket had the job of taking all the flowers given to the Queen.

IMG_4012 - Copy
Anna Bligh peeps out from under red roses.

IMG_4016 - Copy
The Queen waves, while watching her step.

IMG_4017 - Copy
The Duke keeps an attentive eye as the Queen negotiates the ramp.  Anna Bligh and her husband follow.

IMG_4020 - Copy
Up the ramp they go.  Is the Duke admiring the jacarandas?

IMG_4070 - Copy
After the official party goes up the ramp, we can’t see them any more, so we watch on a screen as the Queen and Duke (who has put his hat on now), along with Anna Bligh and her husband, walk through the crowd . 
The Queen accepts dozens of bouquets and cards, and hands them on to the pink-jacketed lady, who in turn hands them on to someone else.

IMG_4083 - Copy
The young man from Brisbane Boys’ College, in the straw boater, executed the most delightful bow after presenting his flowers to the Queen.

After her walk through the crowd, the Queen and Duke attended a reception for people affected by the summer disasters, then the Queen opened Rain Bank, a Stormwater Harvesting and Reuse Project for South Bank.  They then had lunch, hosted by the Queensland Governor, then flew back to Canberra.  A whirlwind visit.

IMG_4090 - Copy
While the Queen and Duke were lunching with the Governor, Bob and I had lunch at the Coffee Club, and watched the people streaming back over Victoria Bridge.  There was a great deal of happiness and goodwill in the crowd, and I felt lucky to have been a part of it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pubs of Melbourne CBD


While in the Melbourne CBD, I managed to photograph a few pubs for my collection.  Here are some that I found the most interesting:

IMG_3731 - Copy

The Mitre Tavern, in Bank Place, is documented by the Melbourne City Council as being the oldest building in Melbourne.  Parts of the building date back to c 1836.

According to the plaque beside the door, its steeply pitched roof is waiting for snow which has never fallen on it, and the small windows relate to the English window tax of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Originally a private home, its first liquor licence was issued in 1868, and it has been trading as a tavern ever since.

The name for the Mitre 10 hardware chain originated here.  Two of the founding members were drinking at the Tavern when inspiration struck (“mitre” is a hardware term).



The prize for the oldest hotel, however, goes to the Duke of Wellington, licensed in 1853.



The Duke of Wellington, on prime real estate on the corner of Flinders and Russell Streets, was closed in 2006 and scheduled to reopen in 2009.  This doesn’t seem to have happened.



The Charles Dickens Tavern was downstairs in an arcade off Collins Street.



It was advertising the Tutankhamun exhibition we had just visited.



A mural of a Dickensian streetscape seen through a window tried to trick you into thinking you weren’t under the ground.



The Sherlock Holmes is in a basement in Collins Street.



Sherlock Holmes front door.



The Rialto.  The “tower suite” is a mere $795 a night.


IMG_3667 - Copy

Bridie O’Reilly’s claims to be Melbourne’s original Irish pub.  It has a lot to answer for.


IMG_3681 - Copy

The beautiful Windsor Hotel has been serving high tea since 1883.  You have to book weeks in advance.  They also have a ten-choice pillow menu.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Around Melbourne, October 2011.



Typical Melbournians.  Maybe his mother made his trousers from scraps.


IMG_3685 - Copy

Top hatted doorman at the Windsor Hotel (we didn’t stay there).

A plaque by the door tells us that the Windsor is “the grandest surviving hotel from Melbourne’s 1880s boom period” and that its “flamboyant architecture reflects the optimism of Marvellous Melbourne.”


IMG_3681 - Copy

“Flamboyant architecture” of the Windsor Hotel.



Internal lifts at the Stamford Plaza (we did stay here.)



The Stamford Plaza was big on stairs.



Looking down from the lift.



In the morning, we had a flood in the kitchen.  The fridge had been set to Defrost, which it did all night.  When we asked Reception if someone could come and clean it up, we were expecting a capable cleaning lady with a mop and bucket.  Instead, we had a sweet young man in a suit from Reception, with two snowy white bath mats. 

At this point, he was off hunting for more bath mats.



Melbourne is of course noted for coffee.


IMG_3788 - Copy

We met up with Walter and Maree.  I went to school with Walter a few years ago.



With Walter and Maree, we went to the Hutong Dumpling Bar.  A delightful lunch – great food and great company.