Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Monday, March 30, 2009



My brothers and I spent our young years in the far north of Queensland where communication with the outside world was sporadic. The lifeline in these vast areas was the aeroplane. This is a small story of the influence of the aeroplane in the north and an introduction to my parents. Most cattle properties having their own airstrip and the people living and working on these savannah lands looking forward to the scheduled visits of these flying wonders.

After the war my father, an adventurer, what else with his formative years under the influence of his father, Ole Hell Bent , a drover, and hard man, eccentric, horse dealer supplying the overseas mounted empire armies, and Dad as a teenager working and living with Arnold Weinholt, a man with a secretive and adventurous life , big on Empire, who was eventually executed as a British spy in Ethopia.

Dad after a lengthy stint in the Northern Territory, mounted copper, dismissed for larrikinism, buffalo shooter, horse breaker, business entrepreneur, lugger crewman, fettler, army service, was employed as cattle station manager for Angliss and Kidman in the late 40's and early 50's on Vanrook Station a vast acreage on the Gilbert River in the far north of Queensland in the Gulf Country on the princely sum of five hundred pounds a year.

My mother trained as a nursing sister and when the war ended was sent to Richmond in the west of Queensland where she witnessed the destruction of the stockpile of gas at the military base outside of the town in the event of invasion. Accidents happened while destroying the gas and victims were admitted to the small hospital in Richmond suffering Mustard Gas burns. The glow from the destruction of this arsenal could be seen on the horizon at night on the vast plains of western Queensland.

My mother was posted to Croyden Hospital in the Gulf and from there to the Normanton Hospital on the Norman River for the life of adventure and freedom she craved after living her life isolated on a heartbreak marginal dairy block on the Burnett River and at the beck and call of an autocratic dour family of Yorkshire and Norwegian descent.

My father was impossibly handsome with black hair and green eyes, my mother blessed with the bones of her Viking ancestors. Invariably this pair met in Normanton, she noticed him in the middle of a rowdy two up game with five pound notes tucked into his hatband, always a lair, my Dad. My Dad was mischievous and wilful and enjoyed bawdy company, whereas my mother had never been in many social situations and was introverted and this unlikely pair married in Cairns in the mid 1940's.

Communication on the cattle station was by pedal radio and the weekly visit of the ANA DC3 aircraft, delivering mail, some supplies, the passengers disembarking and enjoying a cup of tea under the mango trees at Vanrook, was a highlight of life in the far north.

In the wet season the airstrip was too boggy on occasions for the big planes to land. A signal from the air sock pole was hoisted to allow the pilots to know, avoid the airstrip. A year towards the end of the 1940's the warning was hoisted, the pilots not concentrating, ignored the signal and were making an approach. My mother became agitated "Its going to land, its going to land, and the mail's not ready to go". Dad "Don't worry, You'll have plenty of time, it may land, but it bloody well will not take off"

The plane touched down and the speed dropped off dramatically until the aircraft came to a stop and tilted and fell over on its nose bogged impossibly.

Much excitement, red faced pilots, engineers were despatched from Melbourne to see what could be made of the mess, arriving importantly in a small light plane which took the two embarrassed pilots away for wrist slapping I suppose. . After days of struggle the plane was extracted from the mud, checked out by the engineers and the chief pilot, fresh from the fighter planes in the War, flown up from "down South" to get the aircraft up.. Remembering it was still the wet season and the airstrip still had boggy patches, the pilot took the towels that were located at the top of every seat where passengers rested their heads. The towels being white were dropped beside every boggy patch on the strip. The head pilot reckoned they could get the plane off if they zigzagged through the boggy patches. The gung ho pilot and Dad were kin, "Tony, if we anchor the plane with ropes and take her up to full throttle and you cut the ropes when I give you the thumbs up she should clear the trees", a man from Dad's own heart. The engineers then thought perhaps the undercarriage had been damaged in the boggy landing and the fall on the nose and the wheels should not be raised. "Naw", said the fighter pilot "she will belly land quite well at Normanton airstrip". The engineers would have been desperate to get away as Dad insisted on using the radio on the aeroplane talking to whoever and telling whoever he could on the air he was in "the call identification of the DC3" "on the ground and not about to get off as the stupid bastards bogged the plane", adding all the woes of the crew and their neglecting to heed the " keep off" signal etc. etc.". I guess they had to put up with him as he could be a headstrong man who would put up the dukes at a drop of a hat, and lived his life out of the annals of "Boy's Own Adventures" and was not upset by anyone lightly.

The plane was ready to depart, the whole station looking on wondering whether this ponderous machine on the ground, would make it into the air. The ropes cut at the appropriate time the cumbersome aircraft negotiating the zig zag, sigh of relief the big aircraft lifted over the trees into the blue after the perilous take off, to Normanton for refuelling and further checking. I imagine the engineers were relieved to be gone as well!

"Did I not tell you Jean you would have plenty of time to get the mail ready" observed Dad as the DC3 disappeared over the horizon.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


The past few weeks have spent most of my time at a hospital...my elderly parent has taken a turn for the worst. Now at home and requiring 24 hour care. I have given up work for three months to see how the future pans out. Am in a position in which I do not get help because I do have assets, no money, but land for my retirement, and carer's benefits are subject to an asset test. Down the stairs

Will go with the flow for the next two months and do have to reconsider opening up my business, I shut down some years ago because of an injury to my leg whereas could not work for a lengthy period. Up the stairs

Should I be able to survive on my own without the demands of shift work may be an answer. The leg is functioning quite well now and do not know if I can pick up the pieces and start from scratch again at my age. My former business was physically demanding and have suffered Q Fever in the past few years from helping a cow deliver a calf and still suffer bouts of extreme fatigue. This turning may be a blessing and force me to get mentally and physically fit again and pull my socks up not just skid my wheels as have tended to do in the past few years. Empty corridors

Blurry empty esculators

Spooky deserted multi story car parks

At the moment am up to my insomnia tricks and can listen to my music and read a few books for a few days at least and then will have to get cracking and sort out the immediate future.

This may have been an omen as my former business was involved with horses and whom should be in the wards for hours on end looking to the cares of his sick wife, who had the best laugh and was a joy in herself. Darby (Richard) McCarthy featured like a meteour across world racing primarily in the 60's. I had met Darby shortly after he had ridden his first Stradbroke winner in 1963. Darby had magic in his silken touch on the mouth of the racehorses. A legend in his own lifetime and the instant world fame for an Aboriginal lad from the deserts of Cunnamulla proved to be a little overwhelming at times.Darby is a friendly man and happy to share his experiences , the good, the bad and the ugly. I found it a privilege and joy to spend time with this unique man and his generosity of sharing which is more evident in Aboriginal Australians, although I feel Australians somewhat unique attitude which I enjoy comes from this ancient land and it weaves it spell and embraces us all with its magic of where we belong.

The other plus is perhaps will be able to spend more time with the Grandchildren. I do look after Joe for three days each fortnight and sometimes am so tired after hectic shifts and then the full on attention of a four year old. My grandchildren enjoy the insomnia of their Grandma...when used to visit the other kids from son no 1 Sarah, heard me saying I am somwhat a little weird and need to do things throughout the night...weel at about 2 am., in she comes with her blankets and sheets, Grandma Lizzie I am feeling weird can I read or watch DVD's with you and she does...ha ha and Joe last time he was here Gama at 2 am in the morning, "Can WE have an ice block" Why not I say and sit up in the night after he has selected a green one and heaven forbid a red one.....Do you feel like a lemonade too Gama......"Sure Joseph" I watch his toes curl up with pleasure.......I wonder if he tells his parents...I think not he he

Joe & Cleo.....

Friday, March 27, 2009


When the grasses turn from emerald to gold...the wind has a slight chill and I have to fill the hay shed. Left early this morning in the ute which is so slow after driving my grey flash and have to whip it up the hills. I think the goats and I were the only things out and about this morning. Oh well we match....

Sunday, March 22, 2009


A delicious water melon called Moon & Stars....

and when I had the moon and stars at my fingertips and did not know it....1972

Myspace Glitter Graphics


Near Julia Creek, Queensland

Sheltering in an old ship's boiler perhaps...Karumba

The hardship for these creatures, Karumba

Welcome to Normanton

Barkley Highway, Soudan Station

A Road train


Cloncurry, the spinifex clad red rubble hills

I was born in this little town in the Far North of Queensland, Normanton, which has been isolated for some time. Growing up and working in the far north I can relate to the water and brings back many memories. The scale of the areas under water is millions and millions of acres.

My nieces sent me these photographs and do not know their sources to give the credit to but these photos enscapulate the feelings and events of the north during the floods of this year and have enclosed a couple of the flood images with credit to their authors.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Internals, originally uploaded by cnlizziebns.

What is behind closed doors, grubby stairwells.....


windows, originally uploaded by cnlizziebns.

A grey day staring out of a hospital window

Saturday, March 14, 2009


MILO MIRANDA, originally uploaded by cnlizziebns.

Joseph, my grandson will not be staying with me this weekend so Milo Miranda is enjoying an early morning play in the sunshine.


ALISON, originally uploaded by cnlizziebns.

Dipping the little toe into the water of portraiture...

I only went there to have my hair done.....


Gaylene, originally uploaded by cnlizziebns.

Took some photos of a couple of the locals. Practicing portraiture.

Thought may look better than ole Slytherin' who is still skulking in the roof. I nearly jumped through the window when she grabbed a rat that had tried to escape from the sheds......A huge thump in the ceiling,squealing and scrabbling and then nothing and then I guess a big sleep...

Thursday, March 12, 2009


The magpies, butcher birds, happy jacks, noisy minors, more noisy than usual who do at times squabble woke me up from blissful slumber, night duty last night, and I know the drill.
The snake alarm all the birds looking at me and then staring...all I have to do is follow the direction of their beaks....WELL Slytherian has been away all summer and arrived back for the winter hibernation...

I am NOT impressed as towards the end of last year the python was trying and trying to access the house and kept the doors and windows tightly shut and now the serpent has found a loose piece of roof from the high winds....Hamish you have a lot to answer for....

and I have a fireplace with a chimney access to the roof...this is the end I can no longer sleep and imagine my nightmarish nights.....monster dreams....
am at a loss for words, the sheds are not good enough for the damn thing any more....next time I locate her if I ever do she is gone gone gone....Ugh preferably not here...

the mice they can dance in the hallways but am not having her living in the house with me...
have to get onto a wildlife person and she will have to go to a reptile park. Very brave butcher bird swooping when the only bit remaining is the tip of her tail, too late, too late...THE CHEEKY MONSTER!!! I feel sick and would like a little lie down .....in a motel or the horse float or shed perhaps.

FOR SALE......Furry vermin free house....no possums, rats or mice guaranteed. I am not joking....I had been looking at a block of land nearer an equestrian centre where I could use the facilities....was thinking about it and I am thinking this is a sign to move out.

Friday, March 6, 2009