Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Centaur - 75 years

This year is the 75th anniversary of the sinking of the hospital ship Centaur by Japanese torpedo off the coast of South Queensland around 4.00am on 14th May 1943.

We like to attend the commemoration of this wartime disaster each year at the Australian War Memorial, in memory of Rob's Dad Allan who was one of the few survivors. Of the 332 persons on board only 64 survived. 

Each year at the Last Post ceremony there is a focus on someone who lost their life on the Centaur. Private Athol Povey (from Queanbeyan) of the 2/12 Field Ambulance was the focus of this commemoration. He was only 21 when he was killed, two years younger than Allan. There looked to be family members here tonight laying wreaths - so sad.......
The Last Post ceremony is perfectly beautiful; simple but exquisitely layered and disciplined. We were standing much closer to the presenters this year and got to admire up close the incredible synchronicity of the "catapault team" presenting arms. Their efforts were even more arresting than the the noisy mobs of cockatoos in the space of open blue sky above the Pool of Remembrance.
It's almost dark by the time the service has ended. We're surprised by the number of navy personnel and American Embassy people here tonight. Security is tight and there are quite a few black shiny cars waiting to pick up all the suits at the end of the night. The War Memorial however looks beautiful at any time of the day or night.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A photo first

Abi is growing up fast. After years of avoiding having her photo taken whenever she could, she actually "asked" (told) me to take photos this week at swimming class (because I am so good at swimming - she said). 

 Abi executes a perfect dive!

I think this is the first time Abi has happily "posed" for me.........

 Abi took this gorgeous shot of Ella!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


You really can't ignore ANZAC Day living just a few hundred metres down the road from the National War Memorial. We've even been woken early the last few mornings with rehearsals for the dawn ceremony (bagpipes and trumpets carry a long way in the early morning calm).

So this morning we joined around 32,000 other Canberrans for the real ANZAC Day dawn service just up the road at the War Memorial. We found a viewing spot by around 5.00am and enjoyed listening to a half hour of readings (from servicemen and women's letters and diaries) to get us all into a reflective mood before the start of the service at 5.30. It is amazing how quiet a crowd of 30,000 people can be.
 As we'd expected the service was very sombre and solemn, and very predictable (in a good way) - apart from the fact that this year a servicewoman delivered the key address - the first time ever! She delivered a wonderful speech; very warm and heartfelt. The dawn service is conducted in complete darkness apart from spotlights on the key players - very moody!

Afterwards we walked a small distance up Mt Ainslie to the site of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (A & TSI) bush memorial for a commemorative service for A & TSI servicemen. It was so different in character from the formal service at the War Memorial: warm and personal, lots of stories and smiles, smoke and didgeridoos, and this beautiful bush setting!

By the time we were walking back home the morning sun was making everything glow.
We stopped for coffee and a toastie afterward at our new C5 café (although just a pop up at this stage). We were amused by the magpies who did everything they could to convince us to give them a feed. They would be so easy to tame! Despite how it looks in this pic there were lots of people around walking back from the dawn service - there was a lovely friendly vibe to the morning.
 Time for a shower and change and then it was back out on Anzac Parade to observe preparations for the march past and commemorative service. We were surprised by how warm it was today - the hottest ANZAC Day on record.
 All the important action was up at the War Memorial - our Anzac Parade was really just a marshalling area for the groups of veterans and service men and women getting ready for the official march past (the Governor-General took the salute).  

 ANZAC Day ceremonies have always been tightly controlled by the Returned Services League (RSL), and in latter years increasingly more by whichever political party is in power. In the process some veterans have been marginalised and militarism rather than sombre reflection has become more of a focus.

So it was interesting to see this year a group commemorating the Frontier Wars in Australia lining up at the rear of the other marchers ...... recognising so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives lost in massacres and acts of genocide over the colonial period. This group was not allowed to participate in the official march past however.  It is the war we dare not name!

 We know of at least two family members (ANZACS) whose names are on the Honour Roll of the Australian War Memorial. William Dutton was our Mum's Uncle. He was killed "died of wounds" on the 21st August 1917 at Hell Fire Corner (the most dangerous crossing on the Ypres - Menin Road). William Dutton is buried nearby in a small cemetery just outside Ypres on the Menin Road (Brandhoek New Military Cemetery No 3 Ieper, West-Vlaanderen Belgium). He was only 25 when he died - in the prime of his life - such a waste.....
 All the talk this Anzac Day has been about the 100th anniversary of the battle at Villers-Brettoneaux (near Amiens in France) and the opening of the $100,000,000 Sir John Monash Centre there. William Dutton was killed about 120klms north of there in Belgium - and about 9 months ahead of that momentous battle. Another casualty in a war that took over 60,000 young Australian lives for a cause that is hard to justify in the cold hard light of day. It gives us all such a lot to think about!!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


We've had a couple of days with Ella and Abi this holiday, beautiful sunny, warm Autumn days in Canberra, perfect for enjoying life here in inner Canberra......

Last week we walked into Civic with the girls, picking up bucket loads of acorns along the way from the grand old oak trees lining the streets of Reid. Our goal was the annual ride the girls enjoy on the old Carousel in Petrie Plaza. Abi loves this merry-go-round!

We did a bit of shopping after at Ella and  Abi's favourite beauty bar (Lush!).
Today we stayed around the apartment.... ages and ages doing crafty things - and eventually a bit of free form face painting....

 Then ages and ages in our beautiful Hassett Park, playing soccer, talking to the resident dogs of the neighbourhood and climbing trees.

 Ella even gave Rob's bike a workout in the basement carpark. She is getting so tall now it's no longer too much of a stretch for her to work the pedals on his big bike. She is a bit of a speed freak! 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Vous etes belles

We would enjoy watching paint dry as long as our beautiful grand-daughters were involved. So you can imagine our joy when we were invited to join in some of their after school craft and homework fun a week or so back.  The girls aren't watching any TV at all during the week now and they seem even more calm and focussed than usual.
 I was instructed on how to make one of these paper constructions too!
 Left handed Abi is a whiz with right handed scissors.

Ella is really into teaching Grandpa how to do some coding on her beloved Chromebook (after clarinet practice).
Talking of beauties.... we've just got back from a few days in Coogee .... enjoying some very late Summer weather and these beautiful coast views (that's Gordon's Bay below)
We've started the process of putting the Coogee apartment on the rental market for a while - hoping we can eventually finance a few renovations to the place (bathroom, kitchen etc). We had a few sad moments as we handed over the keys - we're going to miss this beauty (but only for a while!).  You can see how pretty the apartment looks (unrenovated with its original "charming Art Deco bathroom") here.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Turning 21

Turning 21 is not quite the milestone it used to be, but it's still a great excuse for celebrating being a proper "grown up" at last - especially when the grown up is as special as our young Maddie L.
We've known this gorgeous young woman all of her 21 years (and Sophie all her nineteen years) and her Mum Judy and Dad Jurgen, even longer than that.
The family birthday dinner was at Belluchi's last night. Phoebe and Thomas drove down from Sydney for the occasion. 
Cutting the cake (made by Maddie as part of a family effort) was celebrated after, at home.  The Dad speech is always a lovely part of big "grown up" birthday celebrations. Jurgen's are always very dignified and loving....... as you would expect.

We've been very lucky to be included in lots of big occasions in Maddie's life, and watched your grow and evolve into the smart, funny, spirited individual we all know and love today.
 And she's a great cake maker too!
 Just so you can see what 21 years looks like .......this is Maddie with big brother Thomas way back in 1997.
 I took the pic below of Maddie and Thomas in early 2000 at the vineyard dam at Murrumbateman.
 Sweet Maddie aged 5 and a half ..........
 Maddie and the family spent a term at school in SW France in 2005. We stayed with them for a week and saw a lot of that beautiful part of France with them .....
 Maddie, aged 9 in 2006 at Rosedale.
 And a year later aged 10.....
 Maddie aged 15, with Maggie the Jack Russell.
 Aged 16 and all dressed up for the Year 10 Formal.
 Sweet seventeen .....
 .... and aged 18 at Kirra Beach, Queensland.
 And aged 20 at Christmas drinks at the Hyatt.
Here's to many more happy birthdays Maddie and thank you for including us in so many good times over the past 21 years.