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.

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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.

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I think this one was showing off a bit.

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

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

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

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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.

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Anna Bligh peeps out from under red roses.

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The Queen waves, while watching her step.

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

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Up the ramp they go.  Is the Duke admiring the jacarandas?

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.


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


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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.


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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.”


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“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.


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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.

Tutankhamun Exhibition, Melbourne October 2011.


Judy and I set off for a girls’ weekend in Melbourne.

For a while it looked as though we wouldn’t make it as Qantas were having industrial problems and delaying and cancelling flights.  When we finally did arrive at the airport (at 5.30am) our flight was delayed for 45 minutes because of an electrical storm, then there were road works on the way in from Melbourne airport to the city.  The result of this was that we were an hour late for our first appointment, a visit to the Tutankhamun exhibition.  However, this didn’t seem to matter, as the crowds weren’t as bad as we’d expected, and soon we were transported back to ancient Egypt.



The exhibition included 80 exhibits from the reigns of Tutankhamun's immediate predecessors in the Eighteenth dynasty, as well as 50 from Tutankhamun's tomb.



Although it featured predominantly in the advertising, the exhibition did not include the gold mask that has become the popular icon for ancient Egypt, as the Egyptian government has determined that the mask is too fragile to withstand travel and will never again leave the country. 

I was not aware of this, so was quite shocked to come to the end of the exhibition without having seen it.  Had I missed it?  However, I had seen it in the Cairo Museum when I was in Egypt with Bobbie in 2004 – something I will remember for the rest of my life.

Some facts about King Tut:

* The pyramids at Giza had been around for about a thousand years before his lifetime (approx. 1341 BC – 1323 BC).

* His father was the Pharaoh Akenhaten.

* His mother was Akhenaten’s half sister.

* His reign began when he was nine years old.

* He married his half sister (her father was Akenhaten and her mother was the beautiful Queen Nefertiti, Akenhaten’s favourite wife.)  They had two stillborn daughters whose mummified foetuses were found in King Tut’s tomb.  Their beautiful little coffins were included in the exhibition.

* He died aged 18 – the cause of his death remains a mystery.

* He did not have scoliosis, as previously believed, but was just mummified a bit crooked.

* His tomb was not discovered until 1922, by Howard Carter and George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon.

I never cease to be amazed by the craftsmanship and beauty of these artifacts from so long ago.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Legend of the Jackie Howe Singlet


IF you've managed to tear your eyes away from our front page's eye candy, here's the place to have your say about the Jackie Howe singlet.

(Picture from Warwick Daily News 24.02.2009)

The Jackie Howe singlet, as worn by these three strapping young men, was shortlisted as a potential Queensland icon, as part of the Queensland Government's Q150 celebrations in 2009.

Jackie Howe (1861- 1920) was a legendary Australian sheep shearer who was born at Canning Downs station near Warwick in Queensland.  In 1892, in pre-Federation Australia, he broke both the daily and weekly shearing records across the colonies.  On 10 October 1892, Howe shore 321 sheep in seven hours and 40 minutes at the Alice Downs station near Blackall in Queensland, using hand shears – a record that was not broken until 1950 by Ted Reick, who was using machine shears.  In the week beforehand, Howe also set the weekly record, shearing 1,437 sheep in 44 hours and 30 minutes.

At that time, most shearers wore a flannel undershirt while shearing. The flannel had short sleeves covering the biceps and absorbed the shearer’s sweat.

Jackie Howe found the sleeves of his flannel restrictive so one day he tore out the sleeves and wore his flannel with no sleeves. Finding it much more useful with the sleeves out, Jack then got his mother to convert all his flannels into “singlets”.  This caught on and, before long, all the shearers were wearing sleeveless flannels. One of the manufacturers then started making lighter cotton singlets especially for the wool industry. It was not too long before the lighter singlet became popular with all men in all industries and so the “Athletic Singlet” was born. That garment is still sold in its thousands daily in department stores around the world and is worn by most Australian males.  (From


Jackie Howe bought a pub at Blackall in 1901, and died there in 1920, aged 59.  He is buried in the Blackall cemetery. 

A statue of Jackie Howe with a merino ram was erected in Blackall’s main street.  (Picture from



Warwick also wanted to lay claim to Jackie Howe, and the Jackie Howe monument, in Jackie Howe Park, was erected in 1983.  The monument features concrete wool bales and a large pair of hand shears.  The plaque on the monument points out that Jackie Howe learnt his shearing skills in the Warwick district.

We had lunch in this park on our way back from Canberra.  I refrained from climbing on the hay bales and sitting in the helicopter.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tenterfield Saddler


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For fifty years this quaint blue-granite Saddlery on High Street was the meeting place for those who enjoyed discussions on a wide variety of topics. Saddler George Woolnough continued to ply his trade, listening but undisturbed by the chatter and opinions of his many friends who wandered in. It was the compassion of George Woolnough that attracted so many to the High Street Saddlery from 1908 until his retirement in 1960.

One famous customer was A.B. "Banjo" Patterson, well loved Australian poet and author. "Banjo" lived here for only a short while and married a local girl, Miss Alice Walker of Tenterfield Station in 1903.

The land was originally bought by Sir Stuart Alexander Donaldson for 32 pounds 10 shillings in 1858. Sir Stuart was the owner of Tenterfield Station and went on to become the first Premier of New South Wales.

It was sold in 1870 to Charles Pavel the first Saddler for 34 pounds. He then sold to the Australian Joint Stock Bank in 1874. The old building was perfect for use as a bank as the granite walls were over 20" thick.

For a time the Saddlery was the private home of Miss Catherine Bourke, 1895 to 1897, who then sold it to Dan Egan, the next Saddler. It is interesting to note that the solicitor who arranged these last three sales was Major J. F. Thomas of "Breaker" Morant fame.

The Tenterfield Saddlery was classified by the National Trust of Australia in 1972. The doors and woodwork are of red cedar and apart from the maintenance, the Saddlery is in its original condition.

After the first two saddlers, C. H. Pavel and Dan Egan, came George Woolnough, Ted Daly and  Trevor Gibson.

The building now sells a range of clothing and accessories which are are 100% made in Australia and stamped with the official "Tenterfield Saddler Est. 1870" logo.

George Woolnough's grandson, Peter Allen, internationally acclaimed singer and songwriter, has perpetuated the memory of George Woolnough in one of his best known songs Tenterfield Saddler.  (From


This is a link to a Youtube clip of Peter Allen singing Tenterfield Saddler.


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We had morning tea in a park opposite this house in Tenterfield.  It was very windy and freezing cold.


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Another Tenterfield house.  You can see how the wind has blown leaves against the fence and gate.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bluff Rock, near Tenterfield, NSW.

Bluff Rock Massacre

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Bluff Rock is 10 km south of Tenterfield. It is on private property, but can be clearly seen from the New England Highway, and from a rest area where it was so cold and windy that  after looking at the forbidding rock, we were pleased to hop back into the warmth of the car and keep going.  Large crystals of pink feldspar, dark mica and quartz give the rock its speckled appearance.

There are conflicting records of the 1844 Bluff Rock Massacre, but it is said that a shepherd named Robinson was murdered by Aborigines on the Irby Station at Bolivia. The Aborigines fled to the rock, chased by a group of four white men who caught them and threw them from the top, killing most of the tribe and injuring the remainder.  (From

A very strong oral tradition exists amongst the local Aboriginal community of a baby surviving the fall in its mother’s arms and being rescued and brought up by a local resident.  The unmarked grave is said to be east of the rock and the present road.  (From a plaque on the site.)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Great Central Hotel, Glen Innes, NSW.


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For me, staying overnight in the beautifully restored Great Central Hotel at Glen Innes was one of the highlights of our six day Canberra trip.  The hotel was established in 1874, and features a parapet which conceals much of the iron roof.

We nearly didn’t make it.  It was a Sunday night, and when we arrived at about 6pm, there were lights on inside, but all the doors were locked.  Fancy not being able to get into a pub at 6pm!  Luckily, I was able to find their phone number and rang them, while standing forlornly on the doorstep, and they came and let us in.



The new owners must have spent thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of dollars on paint alone.  The entire building has just about repainted inside and out, and there are 17 rooms for accommodation. There are new curtains everywhere, and the rooms all have new beds and linen.  The old fashioned towel rail was a nice touch.


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Robyn and Doug had Room I and I had Room 1A.  My room opened into theirs, and didn’t have access to the main hallway, but I did have my own french doors leading onto the beautiful veranda with its wrought iron railings.

 IMG_3505My french doors had new curtains.  Notice the tongue and groove wooden walls and the old fashioned circular light switch. 



Robyn and Doug’s room had some rather splendid velvet chairs.



One of the aspects I personally enjoy about these old hotels is the shared bathrooms - as long as they are clean, and these were spotless.  You can have no pretensions when you run into other guests in the hallway, in your pyjamas, clutching your towel and your toothbrush.  There was a group of rather affluent bikers from Toowoomba staying there as well – about our age and very friendly.  It was much nicer chatting in the hallway about the delights of the open road than being sealed up in a sterile ensuited motel room.  The bikers have been staying at this pub “for years”.   


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In this bathroom, the old enamel? signs had been retained.



It was a nice hallway for conversing with people in your pyjamas.



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On the door of the ladies’ bathroom, the painter had carefully painted around the old “Ladies Bathroom” sign.


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When I was photographing this penny farthing, one of the bikers pointed out that I wouldn’t get very far on it.


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TV room.


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The shared kitchen had obviously been updated since 1874, but still fitted in with the character of the hotel, and was bright and pleasant to use.  The bikers had all left by 6am – maybe they had to go to work – so we didn’t see them for breakfast.


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The tiles in the beautiful downstairs foyer may well have dated from 1874.


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Next morning:  View of the veranda from my french door.



View of my french door – or maybe it’s another one, I’m not sure.



View from our veranda to the Imperial Hotel diagonally opposite.


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Not much seems to happen in downtown Glen Innes on a Monday morning.


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Goodbye to the beautiful Great Central Hotel.  My room was the one at the left hand end behind the power pole.  You can see that the iron-roof-concealing parapet only extends as far as the first section of the veranda.  However, I did not feel deprived in any way by not having a parapet over my room.  In fact, it was a wonderful experience of the best of a bygone era.