I photographed this
Nativity window in Tewkesbury Abbey on the 9th December,
As you are all too aware, 2021 turned out to be a lot more
like 2020 than any of us would have wanted. We all know why
so I won’t go there.
year, when I come to write this letter, I am amazed at how
many wonderful experiences I manage to cram into 12 months.
It took me ages to look through all the photos I took during
2021 in order to choose the best ones to publish here. They
are only a small fraction of the available photos!
January was, as usual, mostly quiet and relaxing. There was
the traditional visit to Ocean Grove to spend the day with
Jenny and Darryl, in the company of Satoshi, Joan, Russell,
Alan (Jenny's brother) and Valmai (Jenny's sister). Also, as
usual, I spent a day with Prue at her place in Cape Paterson
with Chris Hepworth and Barbara McSkimming (all past
teachers at Chatham).
School was mostly
good this year. On the positive side, I had a small
class of only 17 Year 3 students and the members of
staff with whom I worked were all wonderful
colleagues. On the other hand, I had one very
difficult student who was very disruptive almost all
the time. Fortunately, I had strong support form the
Principal who understood the situation and the student
was removed from the class when things got really out
of hand. My friend Anne Geddes visited my grade once a
week in the early part of the year before lock down.
She helped with correction, answered multitudes of
questions, supported some students who needed
assistance and read some picture-story books. The
students enjoyed the times she was with us and it was
lovely to have her there. During the last week of
school, Anne ran a very successful art lesson for both
Year 3 classes during which the students created a
centrepiece for their Christmas table. Anne is a
natural with children!
with Satoshi and me enjoying lunch at "Miss Marple's" in
Once again, many weeks of the year were spent working
from home. Remote teaching does have positive aspects
such as not being ruled by the school bell, increased
flexibility, no yard duty, greatly reduced discipline
issues, being able to eat when hungry, and going to the
toilet whenever the need arises! It was, however, good
to get back to face-to-face teaching for most of Term 4.
Those students who chose their parents wisely, or were
very conscientious, flourished during remote learning.
Those who lacked a strong work ethic, or who need the
social contact of others, found life very difficult.
Having very much enjoyed our silo art experience last
year, Jenny, Darryl, Joan, Russell, Satoshi and I
decided to follow the North East Victoria Silo Art Trail over the March long weekend. We were
not disappointed. The trail includes painted silos at
the small towns of Goorambat, Devenish, Tungamah and St
James and the significant Winton Wetlands. We were
amazed and delighted by what we found.
The art work
The art work on the silos at St James is dedicated
to Sir George Coles, the
founder of the Coles retail group.
Our visit to the
area also included some time spent at the Eldorado Dredge. This huge
machine only operated from 1936 - 1954 but it dredged
30,000,000 cubic metres from the river flats on the
plain from which 70,664 ounces of gold and 1,383 tons
of tin concentrate were extracted. It was the third
largest consumer of electricity after Melbourne and
Geelong! Some idea of the scale involved can be
ascertained from the picture of Satoshi in one of the
buckets. I have visited this remarkable relic several
times over the last 50 years and it was good to see
that it is being looked after and that one can now
gain access onto it via a gangway.
may need to zoom in to read these
interesting facts, not the least of which
is that the machine could be heard from
11.3 km away!
As Satoshi had
never been to the Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo, he and
I decided to go on a road trip over 12 days in the
April holidays. The route included Holbrook, Gundagai,
Young, Cowra, Bathurst, Milthorpe, Orange, Wellington,
Dubbo, Parkes, Forbes, Darlington Point, Jerilderie,
Tocumwal and Kyabram.
Although I have travelled through Holbrook a number of
times, I had never had time to explore the Woolpack
Inn Museum (despite it being there since 1971!) This
old pub was absolutely crammed with interesting
used for printing multiple copies of
printing on paper. It works by the use
of a wax paper stencil. The stencil was
put into a typewriter like a piece of
paper. As one typed, the typewriter keys
cut holes in the wax paper. When the
stencil was put onto the Gestetner
machine, one would turn the handle (seen
on the machine on the right. This caused
a piece of paper to be pressed against
the stencil forcing ink through the
holes of the stencil onto the paper. I
used to create documents for the choir
and congregation at St Mary's in
Chadstone using a machine like this in
the mid 1970s.
The museum also
includes an extensive collection of buildings, including
this old school room.
A highlight of
Bathurst was Abercrombie House, a grand
home built in 1870, in "Scottish Baronial" style. It
is still lived in by its current owners, only the
second family to reside there. Visiting the house is
an unusual experience because its contents include
items of great historical interest all the way down
to what can only be described as junk!
The pipe organ in
the ballroom is one of the oldest
in Australia having been built in
England in 1840 and installed in
the newly-erected St John's
Anglican Church in Canberra.
Housed in a lovely old school building dating back to
1876, the Australian
Fossil and Mineral Museum contains, not surprisingly, a collection of
fossils and minerals. I am not particularly interested
in either but this collection is truly worth a visit.
Satoshi and I spent at least two hours there.
We thought it
likely that the gentleman depicted here was not
quite ready for the size of the tyrannosaurus rex
when he entered the room!
supplies the people of
Bathurst with potable water.
One can drive across the
wall and, again, there were
lovely views. It was a very
peaceful and quiet place to
Historical Society has several museums including the
Bathurst Historical Museum and the Bathurst Rail
Museum. The Bathurst Historical Museum is
housed in part of the Court House building, the
left-most section in the photo.
It holds a small
but interesting collection of artefacts including the
one below. Can you guess what it is? You will
find the answer at the bottom of the page.
The Bathurst Rail Museum includes Australia's largest
model railway. It was difficult to photograph it in its
From this map,
showing the railway lines in NSW in 1930, one can
get an idea of how many lines and stations have been
researching things to see at Bathurst, we
noticed that there is a Japanese Garden. It was
not easy to find because it consists only of
several boulders and a couple of bushes!
underwhelmed by the garden, I did manage to
get a photo of this resident cockatoo!
The town of Milford has a lovely
old station building which is now a café, and an
enormous traction engine! Such a pity it is not
In Orange, we caught up with Kaylyn and Clyde Roe
(Clyde is Darryl's brother) at Lake Canobolas. We
went for a stroll around the lake and then enjoyed
morning tea at the café. It was great to see the
water flowing over the wall.
The nearby Lake
Canobolas lookout was very impressive!
We enjoyed lunch at the café at Orange Botanic
Gardens. during which I managed to "snap" a local
Having watched an
interesting episode of "Restoration Australia"
concerning Emmaville Cottage, it
was interesting to see it "in the flesh".
There is considerable controversy over whether
it was a childhood home of Banjo Paterson or
not. It is now located just outside the Orange
The Orange Society
of Model Engineers operates at
Matthews Park in Orange.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19
restrictions, we were not able to
get a train ride but it was great to
see the engines steamed up and to
chat with a couple of drivers. The
engines are worth around $30,000
Wellington Caves Complex is located near Apsley,
between Orange and Dubbo. There are a number of
caves at the complex and we were able to enjoy a
tour of the Cathedral Cave...
...and the old Phosphate
Mine which includes a large number of fossils.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo at
Dubbo did not disappoint. Unlike most zoos, the most
common way of viewing the animals is to drive around
the property, stopping at given places to see some
of the 350 species housed there. There were many
great photo opportunities and the animals all
appeared to be looked after really well. One can
also walk or cycle.
Botanic Gardens provided a peaceful place to visit. As you
can see, we were so lucky with the weather!
In the Bible, Isaiah 6,
one reads about the six-winged seraphim or "fiery angels".
I had never seen a representation of them until visiting
the lovely Anglican Church at Dubbo. There were many other beautiful windows there.
Dundullimal Homestead is a
National Trust property on the outskirts of Dubbo.
is believed to be the oldest sophisticated slab
house in Australia. "Built in the early 1840s as the
head station of a 6,500 hectare (26,000 acres)
squatting run, the homestead is Dubbo’s oldest
building that is open to the public. Its interior is
remarkably sophisticated for its genre, with louvres
and multiple-pane glazed openings onto the verandah.
The imposing sitting room is noted for its ‘tent’
shaped plaster ceiling and wallpaper, reproduced
from an 1850 patent. The master bedroom is complete
with an iron bed and a campaign chest." The land now
occupied by the Western Plains Zoo was once part of
the estate. We watched a video which showed some of
the restoration work which was required on the
house. It was almost a total wreck when the task was
begun. We were amazed that the homestead could be
This is definitely the
largest Coolgardie safe I have ever seen. It
was almost the size of a small room!
What a great idea!
Our final visit during our stay in Dubbo
was to the Old Dubbo Gaol. It was quite an
eerie, sobering experience to see the conditions in
which prisoners were kept, especially considering that
the gaol did not close until 1966.
The huge radio telescope at Parkes was
another interesting place to visit.
While I agree
that rubbish bins should be provided for the use
of visitors, having almost one bin per car parking
space is perhaps a little over the top?
The Henry Parkes Museum contains
another large collection. Although all these
"local" museums are somewhat similar, there are
always two or three things of particular interest
in each. At this museum, two such items were the
emu egg and the clock below. The clock itself is
nothing special really until one reads its amazing
The exhibits included the old
wood-burning stove above together with the rather
wonderful "instructions" below.
finds things from one's own lifetime in a museum,
one starts to feel one's age! We had a kettle
exactly like this one. It was used for camping
when we used to go to Wilson's Promontory in the
Another example of a
"Gestetner" machine. It's easier to see the two rollers in
McFeeters Motor Museum
houses a large number of beautifully restored
cars, all of which are in working order. The
building was purpose-built. The owner's wife
provides the mannequins, all correctly-attired
to suit the period of the cars.
A very good year!
I can remember desperately wanting a pedal tractor exactly
like this one when I was young child!
Wildlife Park is a place I had not heard of
before this trip. It is located on the Sturt Highway.
This zoo operates like a safari park. Visitors are
taken around in a motorised vehicle, or by horse-drawn
vehicle. Sadly, we did not book ahead of time enough
to enjoy the latter option. An advantage of this modus
operandi is that the animals have been trained to come
up to the fence of their enclosures as the vehicles
arrive. This means visitors can get a close-up view of
creatures which would otherwise be hiding somewhere at
the back. Also, keepers can command the animals to
stand up against the fence and open their mouths. This
allows the keeper to check paws and teeth without the
need to tranquillise the animal first. (It also means,
of course, that the animals get lots of treats!) Once
again, the animals appeared to be in a very healthy
condition. We hope to visit Altina Wildlife Park
Satoshi is very
interested in railways (both old and new) so we often
venture a little off the beaten track to search for
relics. This is the old station building at
Our last stop as we travelled homewards was Kyabram Fauna
Park. This park is more traditional in that one
wanders around the property at will. Happily, the
animals here appeared to be healthy and well-looked
Our next outing was later in April, over the Anzac Day
Long Weekend. This time, we had the pleasure of the
company of Jenny, Darryl, Joan and Russell. Russell
spent many of the school holidays during his youth
staying with his grandmother in the town of Bealiba.
He likes to attend the Anzac Day ceremony there
because he meets people that he knows from that time
(or their relatives). This year, the ceremony was very
brief and informal due to COVID-19. There was no band
or march down the main road.
The three photos above are of Maryborough
Railway Station. The first was taken during breakfast in the
café (which used to be the Tea Rooms in the days of the
Whenever we stay at Maryborough (or
anywhere nearby) we always have dinner at Caroline's Colonial Restaurant in
Carisbrook (about 5kms from Maryborough). The food here is
always wonderful, the garden a peaceful place to wander around
between courses, and we are on first name terms with the
owners, Sally and Michael.
Russell's uncle and brother went to the
First World War and their names are inscribed on the pillars
in front of Bealiba's Town Hall.
Although the population of Bealiba
appears to be growing, the main street is always very quiet.
Even the pub has closed now!
The station at Bealiba is leased out to a
local couple who keep it in excellent repair. They have done a
lot of research to find what colours the station was painted
This is Violet Cottage, which used to
belong to Russell's grandmother. The current owners could be
considered to be "Bohemian" and had an collection or artwork
and junk for sale in the front garden.
Sadly, during 2021, a number of friends died. I felt
the passing of three of these particularly:
Bill Adams lived in Moe and was a stalwart of the
church music "scene". He was a regular at RSCM (Royal
School of Church Music) events from as early as I can
remember, and a strong supporter of FOAM (the Friends
of Anglican Music). He had moved from his house into a
retirement home and had given me much of his huge
collection of choral music and books on various
subjects in which he and I had a shared interest.
Iain McKenzie was probably the most loyal chorister in
any of my choirs. He was in the choir at St Mary's in
Chadstone from when I reformed it in 1977, moved with
me to St John's East Malvern in 1989, and was a member
of the St Paul's East Kew Occasional Choir for all the
23 years I was there. He was renowned for his quick
wit. An example of this was an occasion when two
ladies of the choir were having a disagreement. One,
of a quite substantial build was addressing an older
lady who was short and slim,
"I suppose you are riding home on your broomstick you
old hag!" Iain, without missing a beat, commented,
"Yeah, it's parked right next to yours. Yours is the
one with four engines!"
I don't know how he got away with this activity but
his comments were always accompanied by a twinkle in
his eye. Iain and his wife, Val, were the cooks for
many of the Lorne Camps I used to run. Every year,
Iain would tell the children that he was writing a
book entitled "101 Ways to Get Rid of Small Children".
Some of the brighter children caught on to his wit and
would ask questions such as,
"What's No. 55?". Iain would always respond with
methods such as "put piranhas in the toilets"! Iain
always cooked bacon and eggs or French toast for
breakfast. Many a child was introduced to these foods
at camp and went home to ask his or her parents to do
I had known Pat Wood since 1989, when I made the move
to be Director of Music at St John's, East Malvern.
Pat's daughter, Linda, sang in the choir. Pat was born
in the same month and year as my mother (January,
1924). She shared many Christmas and New Year
celebrations with us all. Those of you familiar with
hospital routines will be aware of "Pat Slides" which
are used to help move patients from trolley to beds or
vice versa. It was Pat's husband, George, who invented
this now commonly-used equipment and he named it after
his wife. His invention was never patented, he
preferred to let everyone have use of it freely.
George died a number of years ago now.
All these friends had long, happy, and fulfilling
lives so I couldn't be too sad.
During the July holidays, I was fortunate enough to
travel to Phillip Island for a short stay and then to
Warrnambool for a longer trip.
On the way to Philip Island, we had lunch with Daphne
and Joe Proietto who have a lovely property at
Woolamai. Jenny worked with Daphne (a piano teacher
who specialises in teaching students who are
profoundly disadvantaged by autism, often achieving
outstanding results). She now runs a program called "Keys of Life" through
which music teacher and therapists can be trained to
"cater to the unique abilities of their students,
using Daphne Proietto’s ‘Pro Method’ of piano
teaching". Joe is a renowned medical expert who has
published over 200 articles and several books on
obesity and diabetes. They are very gracious hosts who
went to a lot of trouble to ensure that Jenny, Joan,
Russell, Satoshi and I enjoyed our time with them very
much. It was most interesting to hear of some aspects
of their work. We had a happy couple of days exploring
Philip Island, including a visit to the Phillip
Island Wildlife Park.
Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village is located at Warrnambool. We
attended the sound and light show one night and then walked
around the township the next day. The museum contains several
relics from the wreck of the "Loch Ard".
Remarkably, this magnificent peacock
survived the sinking of the "Loch Ard" and is displayed at
Flagstaff Hill. It is insured for $4,000,000!
I wish some of my students obeyed these
I'm too cute to eat on Thanksgiving
During a quick visit to Port Fairy, we walked
across the causeway to Griffiths Island.
Starlings used to be very common in the
garden but I don't see many of them these days.
It is a
400 metre walk to the lighthouse. Joan and Russell did
amazingly well considering they are both well into their 90s
and they were using their walkers on a rough track!
There's not a whole lot left at
Inverleigh Railway Station!
Victoria is sometimes known as the "Garden State",
with good reason. We are so blessed to have many
beautiful gardens to visit for free. One of these is
the "National Rhododendron Garden" in Olinda which we
visited one day in October.
To celebrate being let out of lock down, Satoshi and I
spent the second weekend in November at Macs Cove,
near Mansfield. We stayed in a very comfortable
converted barn with a friendly donkey and three
alpacas for company. We explored Mansfield, Jamieson
Satoshi is standing at the junction of
the Jamieson and Goulburn Rivers.
on Christmas Day - a happy gathering to celebrate the birth
of our Lord with my closest friends. It is a wonderful
privilege to be able to host this special occasion each
count myself very blessed in so many aspects of my life. A
lot of people have been doing a lot of whinging about all
aspects of the way various governments have handled the
epidemic but, really, is there any other country you would
rather live in right now? I work at a great school with
friendly, caring and supportive colleagues. I live in a
comfortable house surrounded by excellent neighbours in a
pleasant suburb. I have enough money to buy anything I
really need. I have the best friends anyone could hope
for. I thank God for all this but, especially for Satoshi.
He is such a caring and supportive friend and I'm sure
there is not a more patient, contented or easy-going
person in the whole of Australia! He is so easy to live
I hope each of you has had a wonderful Christmas and that
2022 will bring you health and happiness.
The answer: It's a water filter! It's made from porous
rock. Water added at the top would seep through the rock
and drip out a the bottom, thus removing any impurities.
PS: If you would
like to read my letters from previous years, please