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EV upsurge is for grey nomads too!

Grey Nomad? You might not know it but there’s a trend spreading through our population like wildfire—electric vehicles (EVs) are popping up all over Australia!

It makes sense too; with fuel prices skyrocketing, many grey nomads can’t afford the high cost of running a camper or motorhome anymore without sacrificing their lifestyle or job possibilities elsewhere, and travelling.

But fear not. This upsurge in electric vehicles doesn’t just apply to those who lead lives solely in cities and other built-up areas.

If you’re a grey nomad tripping around Australia, electric cars, camper vans, and even motorhomes, are great options.

And yes, they do exist and are coming onto the Australian market soon.

In an Australian-first, ACE EV Group is about to launch its commercial fleet in Brisbane.

Electric vehicles are affordable to run and eco-friendly, so if you’re looking for a new way to travel, why not consider an EV?

It might surprise you how much you enjoy the experience.

Read on to find out why an electric vehicle might be perfect for your next Australian trip.

Electric vehicles

ACE: Creating history with Australian electric vehicles

With a mission to make the world cleaner and more sustainable, ACE EV Group has been working for over six years. Soon, their dream takes a major step forward.

On July 2 and 3, 2022, Managing Director Greg McGarvie and his team will launch its first range of Australian-made commercial electric vehicles at the Electric Dreams Exhibition in Brisbane.

“That’s when we’ll also be joining other EV companies to launch EMMA Inc. Electric Mobility Manufacturers Australia, which formed in February,” Greg said.

“We have six vehicles in our first production this June and July, including the V1 Transformer that would be ideal as a campervan or small motorhome, being about the size of a Ford Transit.

“All are to be manufactured here in Australia, but I can’t announce a production start date yet.

“We’ve had some challenges with government red tape, still to be resolved. Provided that happens soon, we’ll be assembling from about August.

“The V2 Transformer, which will be about the size of a Mercedes Sprinter, will be available about the end of next year. This one we want to be a real transformer.

“We call it the future transformer because the back will drop off in minutes and you can substitute it with a camper back, an ambulance back, a ute back, or refrigerated van back; whatever you like.

“I’ll be using one as my mobile office. I can be out in the middle of Australia and it’ll be like the NASA moon Landers.

“My solar panels will be out and I’ll sit there collecting free energy from the sun, charging up for the next trip.”

Greg said the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources Commonwealth of Australia (Commonwealth) and Loddon Clean Energy Pty Ltd (Grantee) had provided $5 million to establish EV manufacturing and develop a mobile energy management device for grid services.

Sleek and futuristic EVs, perfect for grey nomads

The all-electric V1 Transformer is sleek and futuristic and can easily be fitted with bed and kitchen facilities, making it perfect for camping trips.

“There is plenty of standing room and I’m six-foot (1.8 metres) tall; I could sleep in it if I wanted to.

“In fact, I drove the slave version up from Victoria during the 2022 New South Wales floods,” Greg said.

“At traffic lights in Sydney, I put the motor to an acceleration test,” he said. “I had sports cars beside me. I put my foot down on the V1 and was looking in the rear vision mirror at them. Electric motors have instant torque—there was no going through gears or time lapse in getting the motor up to speed.”

Greg said that when going downhill, the electric motor provided the most accurate speed control, as it acted as a brake.

“The motor slows the vehicle down to keep the right speed while also recharging the battery.

“Basically, it changes from being a motor to a generator, a large enough hill and you refill the tank giving more range.”

ACE all-electric motors are pure electric, not hybrid, which use a combination of internal combustion and electric motors.

Greg said that exactly when the V1 Transformer would be available and at what cost largely depended on what government benefits came into play.

“We’re selling the vehicle at about $55k; you can then lease or rent the battery. If you really want to buy the battery as well, the combined cost will be about $88k. Any fit-outs are additional.”

EV batteries: How far, how much, and for how long?

The life expectancy of an ACE EV battery was more than 10 years, Greg said.

“Sadly, there’s a lot of fiction out there about how far one battery charge will take you, how long the battery will last, how costly they are.

“The Janus Electric a Class 8 prime mover has a range of 600 kilometres.

“Drivers must rest by law after five hours of driving; it takes five minutes to swap batteries, many times faster than filling it with diesel.”

Greg said grey nomads travelling long distances could invest in larger batteries. Or, for people with smaller vehicles, there’s also the battery rental option.

“Around town, most people now probably fill up their vehicle once a fortnight. With an EV, they can come home and recharge every night; the next morning it’s ready.

“Cost comparisons, for an EV to drive the same distance as a fossil fuel car with a tank full of fuel, unlucky if it costs more than $10, with home solar much less.”

Greg said ACE EVs could be regularly charged throughout Australia at designated stations, with solar panels, or by using the ACE Mobile Energy Management System devices with domestic power points.

“The additional benefit for ACE Electric Vehicles with the MEMS Device is if your house has a power outage, your EV can power the house, even your coffee machine, or charge other electric vehicles.

“And, tradesmen and women can go to a new worksite site and start working with their tools plugged into their V1 transformer. It’s a real asset for unpowered sites to use the vehicle as a power source.”

5 reasons to go electric

Greg said driving an EV was just like driving petrol or diesel vehicles, except:

  • They don’t steal your oxygen
  • They don’t pollute city air with toxic exhaust gases
  • They don’t need a lot of service work with 30,000 km service intervals
  • They’re inexpensive to run with solar less than $1 per 100 km
  • There are more power points around than petrol stations

Greg said mechanical failures were more complex with petrol and diesel engines because there were so many parts; in the outback, you might have to wait for ages for spare parts.

“With electric vehicles, as long as you’ve got internet connectivity, like with mobile phones, a lot of the problems can be sorted out then and there.

“Where you have satellite connectivity, it’s generally more reliable than the mobile phone network.

“If you forget to do the service, it won’t matter much because your vehicle is connected like your mobile phone. So, it’s updating and monitoring batteries and other vehicle systems.

“To forget a service is less damaging than for fossil fuel vehicles, but it’s not recommended.”

Greg said there were no real issues driving an EV in Outback Australia.

“There are power points wherever there is civilization, and if worst comes to the worst, rest a day or so and recharge from the sun, relaxing in the shade of your awning of solar panels.

“There is more nervousness when driving a fuel or diesel vehicle anywhere in the outback, with sometimes limited, or expensive, opportunities to refuel.

“With an EV camper, you might have to wait for a little while recharging, but you could use a solar awning to recharge your batteries while you relax in the shade and enjoy the environment.

“The biggest issue I’ve got with my EV is remembering to fill the water bottle for the windscreen wipers.”

EV Rumour Mill: Fact or fiction?

Rumour 1: Electric vehicle batteries are prone to spontaneous combustion.
Greg: The rate of fires in battery-powered vehicles is much lower than in fossil fuel vehicles. ACE EV has chosen the safest battery technology. To get a fire, something has to be dramatically wrong. It is not a natural thing for the battery. Rumours about this may have been magnified by some companies making electric vehicles cheaply. There’s really got to be some clear guidelines and quality control with battery use.

Rumour 2:
In all-electric vehicles, even the door handles are electric. If the electronics fail while you’re inside, you can’t get out.
Greg: Rubbish. There’s always a manual way to get out of the vehicle.

Is it time to jump on the EV bandwagon?

The electric vehicle revolution is well and truly underway, and for grey nomads keen to visit Outback Australia, the best time to jump on the bandwagon is nigh.

Electric vehicles are not only better for the environment but they’re also a lot of fun to drive, making your journey that much more enjoyable.


RACQ’s take on electric vehicles

As more electric vehicle models enter the market, interest in EVs continues to grow.

Follow this link to find some answers from RACQ about these new cars:



DISCLAIMER: Jocelyn Magazine is not affiliated with ACE EV Group and has received no payment, free products, services or anything else to write and publish this article. For more information on this disclaimer visit https://jocelynwatts.com/privacy-copyright-statements/

All photos and YouTube videos are published with permission.

Greg McGarvie’s big dream: Electric vehicles for Australia

Launching a fleet of light commercial electric vehicles for the Australian market is at the top of Greg McGarvie’s bucket list.

It’s a bigger dream than many of us have, but it’s one that’s been several years in the making.

Now, the ACE EV Group Managing Director and his team are set to launch Australia’s first fleet of commercial electric vehicles at the Electric Dreams Exhibition on July 2 and 3 in Brisbane.

After travelling along arduous roads of bureaucratic red tape, they now have only one big hurdle to cross — securing a permanent manufacturing site.

Securing a permanent manufacturing site the last hurdle

greg mcgarvie

Greg McGarvie, ACE EV Group Managing Director

The search for a manufacturing site started five years ago when Greg approached the Queensland Government about the former Maryborough TAFE complex on Nagel Street.

“It has everything we need. It’s got primary and secondary optic fibre, which is good for our global head office,” Greg said.

“It also had a restaurant, which would be great for all the workers there; it has room to expand, and it’s out of town.

“The other great advantage is it’s got rail lines down one side, a main road down the other, and it’s near a substation if we ever needed the energy, from local solar farms.

“TAFE did automotive training there, so it’s a registered automotive workshop.

“All we wanted to do was use that workshop to assemble things. Our process of assembly is actually cleaner than when TAFE did its automotive training there with fossil fuel vehicles. Do we get any traction? No.”

“So we went to South Australia where I had a bureaucrat ask how he could help. He introduced us to potential business partners and helped clear the way to set up in South Australia, but in the end, resigned from the government.

“Nevertheless, we got some traction with a launch on Sunrise, but nothing more happened.

“The background advice I got was to go overseas, make it, prove it works over there, and then come back.”

“So, I reached out to the Queensland government, again, and they actually wrote requesting a proposal, by this time the directors had invested $6.4 mill in development and we assembled the first prototype vehicle at the MTAQ in Queensland in March 2019.

“Subsequently, through the advocacy and assistance of Senator Rex Patrick, we secured a federal government grant of $5 million.

“This grant was issued under Australia’s obligations to the Paris Agreement the project to establish EV manufacturing in Australia and to develop our Mobile Energy Management Device to offer grid security services.

“The renewed interest of the Queensland Government was marked in August 2021.

“In the proposal, ACE EV Group sought to lease the Maryborough site to assemble our first seven vehicles, but we haven’t been able to do that, with a legal quagmire created in the process.

“A simple lease became a high-level due diligence process, totally divorced from the requirements of setting up a temporary lease. Other parties were ready to join the project.

“Government insisted they would not deal with this proposal for a lease unless it was through a law firm negotiating directly with their legal representative.

“Time delays and process insisted on by government put at risk delivering on the federal government grant and timely provision of vehicles to a major client.

“This exercise, like a chapter of Yes Prime Minister, the lawyer at a cost well over $8000; building this project over five years, it has taken my house and Super to get to this point!

“At times, I feel a bit like Colonel Sanders.

“Now, at further expense, we have been forced to Brisbane to deliver the first vehicles on time.

“This should have been in my home region (Maryborough, Qld), with the start of jobs, training and advanced manufacturing. So now we’re contracting a workshop in Brisbane and getting everything done there.

“We are up against timelines now, however, plan to have our first light commercial EV ready for the Electric Dreams Expo, July 2 and 3, at the Brisbane EKKA.”

Greg McGarvie - electric vehicles

ACE EV Group’s V1 Transformer is among the first fleet of light commercial electric vehicles to be launched in Australia.

Greg McGarvie’s journey to launch EV fleet

The launch at the Electric Dreams Exhibition will be a key milestone in Greg’s life’s work and passion for the environment.

“ACE EV Group is really an environment-friendly manufacturer, producing transport that is clean, inexpensive and robust, able to charge off home solar,” he said.

“I have always enjoyed doing positive things for the environment, and been involved in environmental groups,” he said.

“I’m a marine biologist, having trained at James Cook University in the early 1970s.

“During lectures in oceanography and physical oceanography, I learned about some issues that we see happening now in our environment; changes in ecosystem diversity and the weather systems. It’s scary that what I was told all those years ago is actually happening.”

As well as setting up the Australian Marine Protection Association for the shipping industry in 2000,  Greg also ran for Labor in the Federal seat of Dawson in 1990.

“Bob Hawke launched his campaign in Mackay the day he announced the election.”

After three recounts, and in hindsight, Greg was pleased he did not secure a seat in parliament but said it was a great learning experience.

“Setting up EV manufacturing in Australia is my last major project before retirement.”

Greg McGarvie - Great Barrier Reef

Saving the wonderful underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef is part of Greg McGarvie’s motivation to manufacture EVs. Photo: Shutterstock

Oceans vital for Earth

Greg said oceans were vital for the survival of humanity on Earth,

The biosphere managed by nature created conditions that allowed humans to flourish, but this growth success with fossil fuel pollution threatens the future of our grandchildren.

“Most don’t realize if you shrink the Earth down to the size of a basketball, we have just a mug full of water that provides only 70% of the earth’s oxygen.

“It’s our responsibility to look after that mug full of ocean.

“Our oceans provide the rainfall we need to grow things on land. They are the air conditioner creating our climate, so it’s comfortable for us to live here.

“Unfortunately, burning fossil fuel wastefully in vehicles creates pollution and elevated CO2 levels, raising acid levels in our oceans as the carbon dioxide is absorbed easily, creating carbonic acid as in soft drinks.

“The changes in acidity impact the biodiversity in the ocean. As many of us know, the Great Barrier Reef, which is an asset to Australia, is under threat through sea temperature rise, pollution and the absorption of CO2.

“There are other impacts as well, on reproductive lifecycles and ecosystem stress.

“We kill off the reef, we kill off jobs, tourism, fisheries and the Australian lifestyle; it’s costing us in so many ways. Another major issue for Australia is our national security of fossil fuel, currently directly linked to fossil fuel supplies. We’ve got just five days available on land, 16 days in ships at sea, none of them Australian flagged.

“Australia needs to give EVs priority and use the sun to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel, the country will grind to a halt and suffer badly if fuel supplies are stopped, no war is needed to take Australia, just an interruption to fuel supplies and we are economy is paralyzed, EV uptake is a national security issue!

“The benefits of EVs are economic, environmental and productivity with new jobs and opportunities.

“This is my motivation for manufacturing EVs in Australia. We have all the ingredients here, including our grandchildren.

“The other one, of course, is that this unique manufacturing will actually work in Australia. We have the technology and the partnerships.”

“What’s critical to the venture is getting the government really active in supporting this initiative.

“We’re not a business that’s asking for more money; we’re asking for support and access to a facility, which has been a stranded government for over 10 years, costing us as taxpayers.

“Investors are talking with us, but they’re shy until they see real positive government traction. And getting that hasn’t been easy.”

Ultimately, Greg’s dream is to sit in the shade beside his V2 Transformer motorhome in the middle of Australia with solar panels out, collecting free energy from the sun, and charging batteries ready for his next outback adventure.

That day is close to becoming a reality!


For more information about ACE EV Group and how to contact them visit https://www.ace-ev.com.au/


Greg McGarvie's misison to save Planet Earth - Great Barrier Reef

A scuba diver views a large orange-coloured common gorgonian sea fan and a variety of colourful coral in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Photo: Shutterstock


DISCLAIMER: Jocelyn Magazine is not affiliated with ACE EV Group and has received no payment, free products, services or anything else to write and publish this article. For more information on this disclaimer visit https://jocelynwatts.com/privacy-copyright-statements/

All photos are published with permission.

Croquet clubs make for great travel destinations

Have you ever played croquet? No?! Well, it’s definitely time to add it to your bucket list!

While visiting the Queensland city of Bundaberg, members of the Bundaberg Croquet Club introduced me to the classic game and I have to say, it was a lot of fun.

The club members were friendly and happy to show me (pictured right below) basic moves of the game that date back hundreds of years.

Bundaberg Croquet Club president Jennifer Lee said not only was croquet a lot of fun, but it was also the perfect addition to any holiday, whether in Bundaberg or anywhere else.

“Whether playing on your own or with friends, croquet is a great way to enjoy leisurely days outdoors,” Jennifer said.

“It’s a fun and challenging game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.”



Newbies learn about croquet at Bundaberg.

Disclosure: As an Amazon Australia Associate I earn from qualifying purchases made through Amazon links in this post.

A brief history of Croquet

Croquet has been around for centuries, having become popular in Europe in the 1800s.

Its roots can be found in Ireland. The name “crookey” comes from crook + oy ( hooked stick).

A Dutch folktale mentions how players would use an indoor clay court with football-sized wooden balls and one metal ring to play Beugelen or Maillette–two different games that emerged in Europe as well.

Introduced to England by John Jaques, the game of croquet became an instant hit with middle-class attendees at The Great Exhibition of 1851.

Croquet played an important role in the lives of Victorian aristocracy, with many wealthy individuals building courts within their expansive estates.

Over time, different variations of the game developed for different audiences.

For example, there are now games specifically designed for children and seniors.

Today, the game remains a popular game enjoyed by all ages, and it is still associated with elegance and refinement.

The Bundaberg Croquet Club at 29 Quay Street, Bundaberg West, is as busy today as it was when founded in 1900.

croquet - postcard scene

A card depicting a game of croquet on the beach, by Lucien Tanquerey, 1910-1919, Wikimedia Commons.

How to play

Croquet is typically played on a lawn or other open space, and involves hitting balls with mallets through hoops.

The game is relatively easy to learn, but it takes practice to master.

The basic rules are as follows:

  • Each player starts with two balls, and the first player to get both balls through all the hoops wins the game.
  • There are many different ways to score points, and players can also knock other players’ balls out of bounds.

Court etiquette

Croquet is an engaging sport that requires skill, strategy, and tact.

Whether you’re an experienced player or a newcomer just learning the rules, it is important to be mindful of the proper etiquette when playing a game.

Some basic tips for maintaining good etiquette on the court include following the correct order of shots, staying alert during your opponent’s turns, and knowing how to give and receive compliments.

With these simple guidelines in mind, you can ensure that every game is enjoyable, both for yourself and everyone else on the court.

The benefits of playing croquet

Croquet is a recreational activity that offers a wealth of benefits.

First, the game requires players to exercise both their bodies and their minds.

Whether you are playing singles or doubles, Croquet requires you to balance, coordinate your movement, and think strategically in order to succeed.

No matter your age, skill level or fitness level, you can enjoy the sport at your own pace while exercising your body.

Additionally, Croquet is a sociable activity that encourages good sportsmanship and interaction between players.

How to get involved

If you’re looking to get started with this exciting game, there are several ways to get involved.

One option is to find a club in your area and sign up for lessons or training sessions.

Another way to learn about the game is by watching instructional videos online.

You could also use resources like books, magazines, and other Croquet-related materials to gain a deeper understanding of the game.

Pack a Croquet set for your next trip

When planning your next trip, consider packing a Croquet set along with your other supplies.

Croquet is a great game to play while travelling throughout Australia.

It’s a great way to meet new people and can be easily set up and played in a variety of locations, wherever there is open space in parks or open areas.

To set up the game, simply place the hoops in a square formation, with each hoop placed about seven yards apart.

The first player then hits their ball through all the hoops, in order, before returning to the start point and hitting the ball through the hoops again.

You can find croquet sets at Amazon Australia or most local sports stores, so it is easy to get started.

Just be sure to wear sunscreen and stay hydrated on those hot days.

croquet - modern equipment

Modern croquet equipment. Photo by Winnywinn, 2008, Wikimedia Commons.

Visit Bundaberg Croquet Club

And, if you’re passing through Bundaberg, be sure to visit the Bundaberg Croquet Club and meet the friendly members who are keen to introduce new people to the game.

Visitors can play a casual game for just $10.

President Jennifer Lee said local members were always happy to help beginners, so you’ll be up and playing in no time.

There is also a clubhouse, which makes for a perfect place to relax after playing. It’s also available to hire for events.

Croquet is also the perfect way to enjoy the Australian sunshine and take in the beautiful scenery near the Bundaberg Croquet Club, right next to the picturesque Burnett River.

Who knows, you might just get hooked on this historic game and make some wonderful new friends.

To find out more about the club visit https://www.croquetqld.org/clubs/wide-bay-burnett/bundaberg-croquet-club, phone (07) 4152 8472, or email bundaberg@croquetqld.org

croquet - card depicting children

A card depicting children playing Croquet. Photographer unknown. Source: University of British Columbia Library. Wikimedia Commons.


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Titanic Memorial Cruise 2012 Remembered

The RMS Titanic is a ship that will be forever remembered for its sinking on April 14/15, 1912.

One hundred and ten years have passed since the tragedy when more than 1500 lives were lost.

Ten years ago in 2012, I had the privilege of being one of 235 Australians who visited the site as part of the Titanic Memorial Cruise for the 100th anniversary.

Travelling with me were my now late husband Don Watts and good friends Debbie and Damian Foale.

The journey was unlike anything we had ever experienced. It’s hard to explain the emotions we all felt throughout, especially during the memorial service in the early hours of April 15, 2012.

Imagining the horror of pushing through crowds toward the lifeboats on that cold and dark night, and then actually seeing wreaths float out into the sea with Amazing Grace playing in the background, were hauntingly beautiful experiences.

To mark the 10th anniversary of the Titanic Memorial Cruise in April 2022, I’ve republished my original blog here (with some minor edits) and created photo galleries to share with you.

As a Booking.com and Amazon Australia Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through links in this post.

Titanic Memorial Cruise_four people

Damian and Debbie Foale (left) join me and Don for a dress rehearsal 0f the formal night on the Titanic Memorial Cruise in April 2012.

Titanic Memorial Cruise_big group of Australians

Australians onboard the  MV Balmoral for the Titanic Memorial Cruise.


Titanic Memorial Cruise dress rehearsal

Oceania > Australia > Queensland > Maryborough
April 4, 2012

In just over 12 hours, Don and I will be jetting our way to England and the Titanic Memorial Cruise along with good friends Debbie and Damian Foale.

On Sunday, we’ll board the Balmoral, one of the Fred Olsen Cruise Line and sail to Cobh, Ireland, where we will spend a day exploring the area.

Then we set sail again to trace the path of the ill-fated Titanic, except that we won’t hit an iceberg and sink (we hope)!

Instead, exactly 100 years to the day, we will honour those who died with a memorial service over the site.

From there it’s on to Halifax, Canada, to visit the graves of those whose bodies were retrieved from the freezing water, and then to New York.

We’ll spend a couple of days in New York before winging our way back home to Australia.

I’m really looking forward to sharing my photos and stories from our journey onboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise with you.


Titanic Memorial Cruise_group of four people

Waiting to step onto the Balmoral, the ship of the Titanic Memorial Cruise.



Europe > United Kingdom > England > Greater London > Heathrow Airport
April 8, 2012

This is the first chance I’ve had to log in since leaving Maryborough en route to the Titanic Memorial Cruise, so I’m playing catch-up.

“Flight attendants, take your seats now! Passengers, secure your seatbelts.”
The flight captain’s urgent instructions soon scattered the attendants and were followed with the mass clicking of seat belts, a few moments of turbulence, and then… silence.

That minor drama as we flew through a thunderstorm out of Singapore was the only hiccup during our 30+ hours of travel from Maryborough to Southhampton, England.

Mind you, the tight security, including police walking around the Abu Dhabi Airport carrying semi-automatic weapons, was there for a reason considering their neighbours’ history. Although a tad daunting, it did make us feel secure.

The Arabian flight service, Etihad, on which we travelled from Brisbane, was also run with military precision, and excellent service.

We figured that being more economical than other airlines would equate to less service, but the contrary was true.

I’d certainly recommend Etihad Airlines – their service was top-notch, particularly the food, which was the best I’ve experienced on any airline anywhere.

For example, The brekkie menu just before landing at Heathrow Airport included fresh fruit, yoghurt, warm bakery and preserve; Mixed pepper frittata with lamb sausage, paprika potatoes and grilled tomato; Soujuk omelette with harissa potatoes, foul and humus tahina; or French toast with caramelised banana slices.

Titanic Memorial Cruise_Abu Dhabi Airport

Jocelyn and Don pose for a photo at Abu Dhabi Airport.



Europe > United Kingdom > England > Greater London
April 8, 2012

After close to 30 hours in the air (in three stints from Brisbane to Singapore, to Aubi Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to London, the 1.5 hours to Southampton by taxi was a welcome change.

Initially, we were going to take a train but the taxi worked out cheaper (for four people) and the driver delivered us directly to the door of The Southampton Holiday Inn, close to where we’ll board the Titanic Memorial Cruise ship, Balmoral, on Easter Sunday.

The English people seem friendly – the taxi driver was very helpful and the staff at the holiday inn equally so.

Normal check-in time is after lunch, but we were allowed in at 10 am, and over lunch, we were given a run-down local football team rivalry.

And the Inn’s beds are definitely comfortable; an afternoon “nap” turned into a 12-hour deep sleep.

Titanic Memorial Cruise_woman in jacket

Jocelyn in Southampton, England.


Today we discovered some fascinating historical sites that bear the scars of two world wars and boast famous residents and visitors including the Pilgrim Fathers, William the Conqueror, Jane Austen, King Henry VIII and even Shakespeare who it is claimed visited the Dolphin Hotel and performed in the courtyard.

Just across the road from our Inn are medieval walls and vaults. These are not replicas or movie sets; they are the real deal.

A short walk away is St Michael’s Church, the oldest building still in use in the city. The original Norman church was built in 1070.

Facing the church is Tudor House and Garden, which encompasses over 800 years of history on one site.

Titanic Memorial Cruise_boats and flags

Aussies wave as the Balmoral cruise ship leaves Southampton, as the Titanic did 100 years before.


Go Ireland!

Europe > Ireland > County Cork > Cobh
April 10, 2012

A pint of Guinness at Kelly’s Bar in the Irish town of Cobh – life doesn’t get much better than this!

Docking at Cobh at 4 pm today felt like we’d somehow been catapulted to celebrity status, which is in stark contrast to yesterday when little more than a handful of people, including media crews, farewelled the Titanic Memorial Cruise from Southampton.

An estimated 30,000 people and a brass band had waited more than six hours at the shipping terminal and terraced streets behind to greet the Titanic Memorial Cruise.

The disappointment of having the first of our shore tours – Blarney Castle & Cork City – cancelled due to late arrivals at Southampton and strong headwinds en route to Ireland was soon forgotten as we disembarked and met the people of Cobh.

What an amazing turn-out! The disaster’s 100th anniversary is a big deal here – the Titanic Memorial Cruise is just one event planned in a year-long program to commemorate the event.

Interestingly, guest speaker Michael Martin noted in his talk Cobh – Titanic’s Final Port of Call earlier in the day, that not one “Irish” person had died in the disaster. It happened before Independence therefore all those from Ireland were classed as British citizens.

Michael also explained the origin of the town’s name. It means nothing other than Cove and is the second-largest natural cove in the world, behind Sydney Cove (now named Sydney Harbour).

Michael said Cobh was originally named Cove but was changed to Queenstown, as it was known at the time of the Titanic disaster.

However, when Ireland declared independence, the name reverted to its original name but with a different spelling.

Because there’s no “v” in the Irish language, the v was replaced with the closest sounding letters “bh”. Cobh is pronounced “Cove”.

Yesterday’s other guest speaker Susie Millar focused on her ancestors’ stories in her talk.

Great-grandfather Tommy Millar was left with two young boys (Tommy junior being five years of age) when his wife died.

He called on an aunt to look after the boys when he boarded the Titanic as an engineer. He gave the boys a penny each and said they weren’t to spend them until the family was together again.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be. Tommy (Snr.) drowned in the disaster.

Tommy (Jnr.) grew up to become a writer and playwright, and his granddaughter, Susie, was now on the Titanic Memorial Cruise specifically to complete the journey her great-grandfather wasn’t able to finish. Susie, also an author, still has the pennies and has written a book titled The Two Pennies.

In another interesting story, a woman we met onboard said her great-grandfather had two tickets for the Titanic’s maiden voyage but didn’t use them. The family has doesn’t know why.

The woman’s mother still has the two original tickets. Organisers of this commemorative trip asked the woman to bring them with her but considering their value, she didn’t.

Titanic Memorial Cruise_four people

Damian, Debbie, Jocelyn and Don at Kelly’s Bar, Cobh, Ireland.


How we’re travelling weather-wise

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > Irish Sea
April 10, 2012

Don, being one of the few passengers brave enough to venture onto the ship’s deck, was filmed yesterday by the onboard BBC crew as he struggled to walk against the freezing, gale-force winds in a scene reminiscent of Scott of the Antarctic.

The weather here now is said to be colder than it was 100 years ago but there are fewer icebergs in these waters.

There are two schools of thought on the reason. One says it’s due to the impact of global warming, but the other says temperatures were warmer years ago and as a result, icebergs were breaking away from the Arctic and moving south. Because conditions are colder now, the ice hasn’t broken away.

While it would be fantastic to see an iceberg on this trip, at this point my goal is to just get through the trip without barfing. A chronic sea-sickness sufferer, I’ve made it through Day 1 at sea – just!

So to touch terra-firma again at Cobh was welcome in more ways than one.

But … this morning we’ve ALL been issued with barf bags! There must be some rough weather ahead, so a trip to the medical centre for an injection may be first on my agenda today. We won’t see land again for another week.

Titanic Memorial Cruise_ship

Titanic facts of the day

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > Irish Sea
April 10, 2012

  • Of the 123 passengers who embarked from Cobh (Queenstown) only 44 survived.
  • The Titanic was travelling at 22.5 knots when it hit an iceberg on April 15, 1912.
  • The Balmoral’s top speed is 20 knots. We’re currently travelling at 12 knots due to the heavy seas.

Because of the Balmoral’s slower speed, the Titanic Memorial Cruise left Southampton on April 8, two days before the original Titanic set out on its maiden voyage on April 12, 100 years before.

Titanic Memorial Cruise_ship

Famous Titanic ship floating among icebergs on the water.

Titanic Memorial Cruise_map

Titanic route map.


Rescue on the high seas

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 11, 2012

My goal to get through this Titanic Memorial Cruise without barfing came to an end yesterday while attending a lecture The Irish Aboard Titanic by Senan Molony in the Neptune Lounge.

Apologies to Senan – the lecture was interesting, but with the Balmoral battling rough seas and the lounge being close to the “pointy end” where movements of the ship, and the contents of my stomach, were more pronounced meant my goal was short-lived. Thank God for barf bags.

Strangely, I’ve felt better since then and I think I’m actually finding my sea legs… but I won’t gloat too soon! It could just be that the sea is calmer today.

Unfortunately, BBC newsman suffered symptoms of a heart attack yesterday and our ship had to back-track for 1.5hrs to reach a point where a rescue helicopter from London could reach us.

There is a doctor and other medical staff onboard but the severity of the man’s condition meant he needed to be hospitalised.

Back on course

We lost half a day’s travel time, but this morning (Wednesday) we’re back on course again albeit behind schedule.

We’re now travelling at 17 knots, up from 12 knots, to make it to the wreck site in time for the memorial service to coincide with the anniversary of the sinking on Saturday.

There is a benefit to our cabins being centrally located on Deck 4, which is just above the staff quarters.

We’re closer to water level and less affected by the strong sways experienced on upper decks and at either end of the ship. I’m watching today’s lectures on TV in the cabin instead.

Today’s speakers are Philip Littlejohn on The story of Alexander Littlejohn, Titanic Steward, and Commodore Ron Warwick on Researching Officers of Titanic & Carpathia on the Internet.

Philip Littlejohn’s grandfather Alexander Littlejohn survived but he was so shocked by the event that his hair turned completely white within eight months.

He was riddled with guilt about surviving while so many women and children died.

However, he had been allowed on to a lifeboat located on the port side when no more women and children answered the call to board.

The starboard side’s first officer interpreted the captain’s instruction as “women and children first.”

Titanic Memorial Cruise_four people

Don, Jocelyn, Debbie and Damian at sea on the Titanic Memorial Cruise ship, the MV Balmoral.


All is well

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 13, 2012

The wild weather at the start of the Titanic Memorial Cruise that caused about half the 1300 passengers to be seasick has settled.

The sea has calmed and it’s been two days since I’ve needed medication, so in Captain Robert Bamberg’s words: “All is well.”

We’re now about 500 nautical miles from the wreck site and need to maintain a speed of at least 14 knots to reach the spot by Saturday night.

We’re currently moving at 16 knots so should get there with a few hours to spare.

We’ve been turning our clocks back one hour each day but on Saturday (tomorrow), we turn the clocks back another one hour and 27 minutes. The odd number of minutes is because our time needs to equal that of exactly 100 years ago when the memorial service is held.

At the service, which will be at the same time as the sinking, a wreath will be laid on behalf of all Australians.

There were five Australians on the Titanic; three survived.

Two hundred and thirty-five Aussies are on this Titanic Memorial Cruise, which is the third-largest nationality represented. Six are from Maryborough.

Britain has the most number of passengers with 479, followed by America with 269.

We won’t know until tomorrow morning where the service will be held.

Where 1300 passengers plus crew will fit is unknown, although I’m assuming we’ll line the decks surrounding the ship.

But if the weather is bad, we may be forced into the lounges. If so, a number of lounges will need to be used with the Vicar’s words being transmitted over the captain’s intercom system that can be heard throughout the ship.

Tonight is the Titanic Memorial Cruise Formal Dinner when we’ll be served the chef’s interpretation of the Titanic’s dinner 100 years on.

There’s also an opportunity for one large group photo of everyone in costume, plus we get to meet Captain Bamberg.

The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 13, 2012

Titanic Memorial Cruise_Woman

The most interesting talk for me of the past two days onboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise was The Unsinkable Molly Brown, by Janet Kalstrom, who presented in the first person. It was standing room only in the lounge where she spoke.

The estranged wife of Mr J.J. Brown, Margaret Brown, was travelling alone from France to New York to visit her sick grandchild whom she had never seen when the disaster happened.

Known as Maggie to close friends (the name Molly was created by Hollywood), she was in bed reading a book when the Titanic struck the iceberg.

She ventured into the hallway when she thought it was odd the ship’s engines had stopped, however it wasn’t until she returned to her cabin and saw a “bug-eyed” man looking through her window telling her to put on her lifejacket and get outside.

Two men lifted her into her lifeboat where she disagreed with instructions given by the lifeboat’s captain and admitted to thinking at one stage everyone would be better served if he were to “swim”.

On the Capathia, Maggie was elected president of the committee formed to look after the survivors’ welfare. She was dubbed “unsinkable” by an author who wrote a book about the disaster in the 1930s.

Titanic Memorial Cruise_floor show

The Unsinkable Molly Brown entertains a crowd on the Balmoral as part of the Titanic Memorial Cruise.


Captain’s impeccable timing

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 14, 2012

Our captain’s timing was impeccable yesterday with the first words of his daily noon cruise report.

A few seconds either way and Captain Robert Bamberg would not have attracted the applause of passengers in the Neptune Lounge who were listening to authors Jack Eaton and Charles Haas present their talk, A Titanic Mythallany.

Jack was saying the lack of a public address system was the one factor above all others, including the shortage of lifeboats, that had contributed to the loss of at least 400+ lives in the Titanic disaster when …. “Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking,” could be heard throughout the Balmoral.

More than 400 people died for no other reason than the lack of communication on board the Titanic. While the available lifeboats could seat about 1600 people, 400+ seats were empty.

Jack said public address systems were not introduced to cruise ships until some years after the disaster. The only means the Titanic crew had to alert passengers of the impending tragedy was to knock on doors.

Captain Smith had only a loud hailer, which wasn’t sufficient enough to be heard on a ship the length of three American football fields and over the voices of people making their way to the lifeboats.

In less than 24 hours, on Sunday, April 15, 2012, we’ll be listening to the onboard Vicar conduct a memorial service for all those lost in that disaster 100 years ago. We expect his voice will be heard on the ship’s public address system.

Meeting the Titanic Memorial Cruise captain

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 14, 2012

Unlike Captain Lars, who had a beard and could pass for Billy Joel’s brother, on our Hawaiian cruise in 2006, Robert Bamberg doesn’t fit the traditional profile of a sea captain—he’s tall, slim and blond, of Swedish origin (I think). Before last night’s dinner, we were invited to meet the captain in the Neptune Lounge.

Timing was everything

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 14, 2012

Fifteen seconds on either side of the call “Hard to Starboard” would have made the world of difference to the fate of the Titanic and its passengers and crew.

During yesterday’s talk, A Titanic Mythallany, authors Jack Eaton and Charles Haas said research had shown that if the instruction to turn the wheel “Hard to Starboard” had been made 15 seconds earlier, the Titanic would have moved far enough from the iceberg to avoid extensive damage.

Fifteen seconds later and the ship would have hit the iceberg head-on. The front end would have been crushed but water would not have filled over two compartments and the Titanic would not have sunk.

But it seems fate would have it the Titanic was on a collision course with an iceberg no matter what.

The ship’s maiden voyage was initially set for March 20, 1912, but three times construction was delayed due to repair work that needed to be done on the sister ship Olympic. And the presence of icebergs in this part of the Atlantic Ocean in April was rare.

Jack and Charles also busted myths on the extent of damage caused by the iceberg (it wasn’t a 30-metre gash in the hull but a series of small incisions), and in what condition the car, made famous in the James Cameron’s movie Titanic, was being transported.

“If Rose and Jack had really had a love tryst in the backseat of that car, they would have been seeing a doctor soon after to have splinters removed,” Jack said.

At that time, cars were not transported whole. They were disassembled and packed into wooden crates.

Jack and Charles’s books, Titanic – Triumph and Tragedy, and Titanic – Destination Disaster, are available from Amazon.com.

Titanic Memorial Cruise_books

Authors Jack Eaton and Charles Haas sign their books.


Titanic Memorial Cruise formal dinner

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 14, 2012

My selections from last night’s Titanic Dinner Menu, which was our chef’s interpretation of the Titanic’s dinner:

  • First Course: Salmon with Mousseline Sauce. Lightly poached salmon, with classic Hollandaise sauce and whipped cream.
  • Second Course: Cream of Barley. Barley simmered with vegetable stock and a dollop of whisky cream.
  • Third Course: Asparagus Salad. Blanched green and white asparagus, drizzled with champagne saffron vinaigrette.
  • Fourth Course: Punch Romaine. A real palate cleanser. A punch with crushed ice, fresh orange and lemon juice, white wine and drizzled with Bacardi rum.
  • Fifth Course: Filet Mignon Lili. Grilled to your liking, on sliced fried potatoes, served with roasted cherry tomatoes, baby carrots and Madeira sauce.
  • Sixth Course: Waldorff Pudding. Sautéed apple, raisins and ginger, baked with custard and sprinkled with caramelized walnuts.
  • Seventh Course: Selection of Cheese.
Titanic Memorial Cruise_asparagus salad

Asparagus Salad.


Titanic Memorial Cruise_Filet Mignon Lili

Filet Mignon Lili.


It’s a small world after all

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 14, 2012

When Debbie, Damian, Don and I left Maryborough for this Titanic Memorial Cruise, we thought the city of 26,000 people was well represented having four residents among Australia’s 235 passengers.

We were wrong; there are six. Nisha Van Wyk and her daughter Mikaila are also here.

Nisha had seen our photo on the Fraser Coast Chronicle before leaving and once the cruise was underway, she contacted us via the reception.

Nisha is a teacher at Riverside Christain College and Mikaila attends Maryborough West School.

Our new friends from Canberra, Ian and Jenny, have told us Australia’s capital city also has six citizens onboard, but since Canberra has a much larger population than Maryborough—we’ve claimed a higher percentage of representation.

We’ve also met fellow Aussies from Perth and Ipswich on the Titanic Memorial Cruise 2012.

Titanic Memorial Cruise_group of six people

Damian and Debbie Foale, Nisha and Mikaila Van Wyk, Jocelyn and Don Watts.


Ice cubes for Bradley

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 14, 2012

Here’s a photo for our 3-year-old grandson Bradley in Charleville, Queensland.

His mum was having trouble describing to him what an iceberg was; the only thing she had to relate it to was an ice cube.

So for Bradly, this is the closest we’ve seen to an iceberg so far on this Titanic Memorial Cruise.

Titanic Memorial Cruise_ice cubes

A glass of ice cubes.


In memory of all those who sailed on the Titanic

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 15, 2012

It’s difficult to imagine what was going through the minds of people on board the Titanic on that fateful night on April 14/15 exactly  100 years ago.

Sitting in my cabin at 11.40 pm tonight as Captain Robert Bamberg gave his address and announced the start of two minutes silence I visualised myself hearing the ship hit an iceberg and then experiencing the chaos that followed.

I soon felt the horror of putting on my lifejacket, making my way through the corridor and pushing my way through crowds of people toward the lifeboats.

Yesterday the electricity failed for a just few seconds while I was in one of the ship’s lifts. That was long enough as I imagined being stuck in the lift while the ship was sinking. There’d be no way out.

It took a conscious effort to snap myself back to the present and focus on the purpose of the silence.

Passengers onboard the Balmoral tonight were divided into two groups for the first half of the memorial service starting at 1 am. One group met in a restaurant; the other is a lounge. As Debbie, Damian, Don and I made our way to the lounge,

I again started imagining myself slipping below the surface of the freezing waters of the North Atlantic Ocean and was thankful we were instead going to a memorial service.

There are 1305 passengers on board this ship, which is 198 less than the number of people who died in the Titanic disaster (1503).

As we slowly filed our way out of the lounge, I imagined myself in the same slow and tedious line, not peacefully walking towards the aft decks for the second half of the service, but desperately trying to get through the crowds to claim a seat in a lifeboat.

I wasn’t alone. Two men behind me were discussing what it would feel like to drown.

One said it would be “dreadful” to breathe in water; the other said it would only take one breath of water to drown but said the sensation would be euphoric. We all “breathed” fluid in our mothers’ wombs, after all, he said.

I preferred not to think about it and tuned them out to focus instead on the fruit tea being provided in commemorative mugs by staff as we filed through the doors.

As one of the last passengers to reach the aft decks, it was difficult to find even just a few centimetres of space through which I could take some photos.

Eventually, on the highest deck, a generous woman from Minnesota moved aside for a few moments to allow me some space. Her husband was also imagining how the passengers of the Titanic were feeling.

“Just think,” he said. “They would have been out here like this, the water about 20 degrees colder and once the Titanic’s lights went out it would have been pitch black (being a moonless night).”

The warm fruit tea I was still sipping from the mug was even more welcome, and I again thought how lucky I was to be on the Titanic Memorial Cruise ship, the Balmoral, rugged up in a warm jacket, scarf and gloves, and not experiencing the tragedy of 100 years ago.

I’m not a descendant or relative of the Titanic’s victims or survivors, just someone from the other side of the world who’s been touched by the stories of heroism, survival and tragedy… and ever so grateful that maritime laws have changed dramatically that travel by sea is now much safer.

Titanic Memorial Cruise_commemorative service

A scene from the top deck during the second half of the Titanic Memorial Cruise’s service.


Steerage class ‘tea’

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 15, 2012

Last night our Titanic Memorial Cruise chefs treated us to a sample of the steerage class tea menu. I had Ragout of Beef with Potatoes and Pickles – a hearty beef stew with carrots and thickened with potatoes and vegetables, which was most enjoyable, evoking memories of the home-cooked meals I had as a child.

Titanic Memorial Cruise_Ragout of Beef

Titanic’s steerage class typical dinner: Ragout of Beef.


­­Titanic tributes

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 15, 2012

Titanic Memorial Cruise_Floral tribute

Tributes are on display in the Titanic Memorial Cruise library.


We’re on the move again

Oceans and Seas > Atlantic > North Atlantic > Gulf Stream
April 15, 2012

Our next stop on the Titanic Memorial Cruise is tomorrow night (Monday) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

We spend a full day there on Tuesday and then do the final leg of the Titanic Memorial Cruise journey to New York.

Titanic Memorial Cruise_cemetery



North America > Canada > Nova Scotia > Halifax
April 18, 2012

After Cobh, Ireland, my next favourite place in the world now is Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Deb described Canada as being: “Just like the USA without the steroids”.

The Canadian people are friendly; the place is relaxed, it’s easy to get around and feels safe.

Halifax is an industrial city and not what you’d call picturesque, that is except for the port itself where our ship, Balmoral, docked from Monday 6 pm to Tuesday 6 pm.

Keen to stand on firm ground again asap, Debbie & Damian, Ian & Jenny (from Canberra), Don & I couldn’t wait to disembark as soon as we docked.

We took a brisk walk along the boardwalk to a steakhouse, where we sat down and tucked into huge, fresh, steaks.

While on the subject of “fresh”, I’ll add here that with Halifax being a seaside port I (wrongly) thought maybe the Titanic Memorial Cruise ship would take the opportunity to stock up on fresh seafood so at last night’s dinner I asked how fresh the prawns were.

I hadn’t been game try them since the first day at sea in case they’d gone off. A waiter had laughed: “There’s nothing fresh on this ship!” Well, it was worth the question.

While in port we made the most of any fresh food we could find.

The Two Dees (Deb & Damian) and Ian & Jenny ordered lobsters straight from the tank for lunch at the Tug’s Pub for lunch at only $20 each, about half what they cost in Australia.

The day in Halifax was awesome.

We started out on foot via the same boardwalk as the night before and, being a shutterbug, I had to keep stopping every few paces to capture the incredible foggy waterside scenes.

We eventually made it into town and took a taxi to the graveyard where bodies recovered from the Titanic disaster were buried.

Initially, we and the Two Dees tried to book a day-long tour, but soon found it was fully booked so we did our own personal tour.

However, the constant stream of people from the many busloads of tourists going through the graveyard made it difficult to read the inscriptions and fully appreciate the moment.

We were able to read a few inscriptions though.

One grave in particular stood out for me: A 32-year-old Australian engineer who had boarded the Titanic bound for Canada where he was to meet with friends to go travelling.

His body was the 209th of 303 to be retrieved from the water; a book titled “209” has been written on his story.

His gravestone was much bigger than most others with his family paying the extra above what was provided by the shipping company that built the Titanic, White Starline.

The last body, 303, wasn’t retrieved until May 1912, a month after the disaster.

The engineer was one of only two Australians we’ve heard about since being on this trip. There were five – three died, and two survived.

One of the survivors was a nurse who had been living in England and not long before the trip, met a doctor. The two were to travel together but he, at the last minute, wasn’t able to sail. Had been on the ship, he, being a male, most likely would have died. She survived and the two met again later and married.

Titanic Memorial Cruise passengers also visited the Halifax museum where Titanic artifacts are kept, such as a deck chair that was retrieved from the ocean and restored.

After lunch at the Tug’s Pub in Halifax, the Three Dees (Deb, Damian & Don), headed back to the ship while Ian, Jenny and I found a taxi driver who’d take us over the city’s two bridges, show us some of Canada’s unique houses, and the memorial site for the 1916 disaster when two ships collided.

One ship was carrying ammunition and the collision caused a massive blast that flattened the surrounding area for 2.6 km and killed more than 3000 people.

That disaster, therefore, was bigger than the Titanic, but it isn’t as well known.

The best part of the day was being able to stretch our legs after being at sea for a week.

There is a gym on board. I got onto one of the treadmills about Day 3 and as Captain Bamberg would say “all was well”  — it was a magnificent view from the gym’s treadmill on one of the top decks overlooking the ship’s bow — until I looked down and, being prone to seasickness, the damn thing nearly threw me off!

It was like a bad case of vertigo so I hit the emergency stop button and haven’t been back since.

Pilates sessions onboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise happen daily at 3 pm. At least lying on the floor would mean I wouldn’t fall off anything, but we’re talking 3 pm here– that’s after lunch and siesta time, so forget it!

After our day of sightseeing and hiking around Halifax, we were all back on deck by 5.30 pm, in time for the Balmoral to set sail at 6 pm.

Today, Wednesday 18th is the Titanic Memorial Cruise’s last full day at sea. We should arrive in New York tomorrow at about 8 am, and leave the ship for our two booked tours– four hours each, one by day and the other by night.

We then have one more night onboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise ship Balmoral, and on Friday our luggage will be transferred directly to the airport while we do some more sightseeing before boarding the plane for home.

Titanic Memorial Cruise_bridge in New York

Brooklyn Bridge, New York.


Finally home… in body, but the spirit is still catching up!

Oceania > Australia > Queensland > Maryborough

April 26, 2012

Wow, what a ride! After a bus terminal fiasco in New York that led to us spending six extra hours at the JFK Etihad air terminal instead sharing a farewell drink with Deb & Damian at Times Square, plus 30 hours in the air (broken by just a two-hour stint in Abu Dhabi), and then hitting the ground running (with photography bookings) before we’d even arrived back in Maryborough, it’s only now I can now update my blog of the Titanic Memorial Cruise 2012. Enjoy reading!


*First published as WhatsWattsDoin Blog at https://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/WhatsWattsDoin/

COURIER MAIL: Titanic tragedy remembered

A World Without Love: How Would We Survive?

Love is in the air! No, really, it is. Love fills our lives with happiness and warmth on Valentine’s Day and every day.

But what would happen if love disappeared? What if we lived in a world without love?

This month marks the 58th anniversary of the release of Peter and Gordon’s single ‘World Without Love’ in February 1964.

The song explores what life would be like without that powerful emotion.

So, where would we be without it?

We’d be deprived of romantic love, as well as parental, sibling, friend, pet, and community love, to name just a few.

Love-pathy is all too common

Love is all around us, but it appears much of the world’s population has been infected by a kind of “love-pathy”.

Too many times I’ve heard people say: “I don’t do Valentine’s Day.”

Are these people being honest with themselves?

Perhaps it’s really that they don’t do the over-commercialisation of Valentine’s Day. Fair enough.

Or, either they can’t afford to buy gifts, flowers or chocolates, or don’t want to?

Or, perhaps they don’t want to show more affection for one person than another?

Whatever their reasons, if they want to, there’s always a way to show affection without it costing a mint: sing a song, recite a poem or do something nice for your special someone.

But to deny the celebration of love is to deny the celebration of life itself.

Life is love. It’s all around us and Valentine’s Day is a special time to celebrate love.

There are so many different types of relationships in this world, from the most emotional and intimate bonds between two people to wider families or communities with their own unique traditions around celebrating romance.

Valentine’s Day truly embodies what we should be doing every day: living life fully.

How did Valentine’s Day begin?

The traditions of St Valentine’s Day are old and rich, dating back to AD 496 when Pope Gelasius I established it to honour the martyred Roman saint who died on February 14 back around 250 AD.

The romantic notion eventually became associated with Valentine’s Day in the 14th and 15th centuries due mostly because people began pairing up as “lovebirds” do in springtime.

When England became a more formal society in the 1700s, people began the tradition of expressing their feelings for each other by giving flowers and sending greeting cards.

These gifts and cards were, and still are, known as valentines.

Valentine’s Day symbols

Symbols representing Valentine’s Day have been around for centuries.

The heart-shaped outline was used in ancient Rome to symbolise love, while doves are considered a sign of peace because they’re known as “the bird of happiness”.

You might even see an image labelled “Cupid” on some valentines; this figure is traditionally winged and often holding his bow (to represent affection) or arrow (for accuracy).

In Italy, people give valentine keys to romantic lovers as an invitation to unlock their hearts, according to legend.

Keys are also used in Italy for children who have epilepsy – Saint Valentine himself is said to have created this tradition so the children could be protected from the condition’s evil effects.

Open hearts to Valentine’s Day

Today, we need more people to be aware of the powerful emotion and to open their hearts and minds to it.

The feeling of love is so powerful that it can make our lives worth living.

We need this to stay happy and healthy, not just for ourselves but also those around us who depend on how we act in order to provide them with stability too.

This Valentine’s Day, I ask you: how can we live in a world without love?

Let’s all feel the warmth and make sure that doesn’t happen.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Love is definitely in the air.

Whether you’re celebrating with your partner, your friends, or by yourself, enjoy the day.



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So if you are looking for your next adventure, check out some of my latest travel and leisure blogs here.



The McGuigan Hunter Valley Wines label is one that has been around for over 100 years, and the family has consistently put out some great wines. McGuigan has been crowned International Winemaker of the Year at four consecutive competitions. Their dedication to crafting Australian wines is reflected in this feat making them one of the best Aussie vinos.

Three taste testers agree McGuigan is a winner

While travelling through the Hunter Valley to celebrate my 50th birthday with my now late husband, we visited McGuigan’s Cellar Door and I still recall feeling welcome, comfortable and well-informed.

So when I recently had the opportunity to review five wines from their full collection, I was keen to relive that enjoyable experience, albeit remotely.

To add to the experience, I invited fellow wine lovers – Brian Pickering and Kaye Browne from FoodWinePetsTravel.com – to join me in a home wine tasting session.

We’re not professional wine tasters but we know what our eyes, noses and palates like, and collectively we represent a wide range of wine lovers from across Australia.

Each of the five wines was unique and delicious in its own way, but there were a few standouts. Here are our thoughts.

1. 2020 McGuigan Cellar Select Pinot Grigio

McGuigans Wine - bottle of wineThis Pinot Grigio is refreshing and light with both floral and fruity aromas. Its tropical fruit flavours come with a hint of apple from the cooler regions.

The dry wine has a big taste but it is still refreshing because isn’t too heavy on the tongue.

The perfect pairing for this elegant wine is seafood dishes such as Australian wild-caught prawns, along with fresh crusty bread, some chilli and tomato salsa.

Brian prefers red wines; however, he did enjoy this white regardless since its nuances were different than most other whites he has tried before.

McGUIGAN DESCRIPTION: A medium to full-bodied wine, this Pinot Grigio brings a lychee and honeydew aroma with pear and green apple flavours characters that compliment the subtle tannin and a dry, refreshing finish.

2. 2019 McGuigan The Shortlist Hunter Valley Semillon

McGuigan Wine - bottle of wineWhile Brian thought this Semillon was ‘soft’, Kaye said it had a ‘perky’ citrus flavour, especially compared to the Pinot Grigio.

We all agreed that after two or three sips there was an almost honey-like taste in our mouths, which made it incredibly delicious.

It is perfect for seafood or chicken dishes alike. Vegetarians would also love how well this wine pairs with their non-meat meals such as tofu.

McGUIGAN DESCRIPTION:  A complex and intense citrus and vanilla characteristics bring a well-balanced acid persistence, perfectly complementing the elegant floral aroma with a hint of herbaceous undertones.

3. 2016 McGuigan Personal Reserve Chardonnay

McGuigan Wine - bottle of wineKaye, a devoted chardonnay fan, thoroughly enjoyed the taste of this “gorgeous, exquisite and luscious” wine, even going so far to say it was “liquid gold”.

The fruit was sourced from the Hunter Ridge Vineyard in the Hunter Valley to produce this opulent wine.

It was fermented in new French Oak barrels, resulting in a full-bodied wine, balanced and complex.

It has peach and citrus bouquet flavour, making it a perfect match for seafood and chicken dishes, as well as nice tofu, toasted or oven-fried with roasted vegetables.

The label on this Chardonnay was signed by Brian McGuigan himself, the iconic Australian winemaker at the helm of McGuigan Wines.

McGUIGAN DESCRIPTION:  A lifted peach and citrus bouquet and refined palate make this wine a perfect match to full flavoured seafood and chicken dishes.

4. 2021 McGuigan Cellar Select Rosé

McGuigan Wine - bottle of wineI was in my element with the McGuigan Cellar Select Rosé. I like most white and red wines, but Rosé is my favourite.

Rosé has come of age in recent years.  Back in the day, it was little of it around and therefore hard to source.

Traditionally Rosé was a sweet dessert wine, but now winemakers are producing much more of this versatile wine in many dry varieties as well.

This McGuigan’s Rosé has a soft salmon hue with intense berry flavours and attractive floral notes with a balanced, dry finish.

It would be equally at home at a casual lunch or to share around a sizzling summer barbecue.

If you don’t really know what wine to take to a barbecue and seafood, chicken, beef, lamb, or even vegetarian dishes could on the menu, this Rosé will have you covered.

It also pairs well with all kinds of cultural foods and desserts.

McGUIGAN DESCRIPTION: Chosen for its intense berry flavours and soft salmon hues. The Shiraz and Tempranillo grapes were carefully selected to deliver this versatile wine with attractive floral notes, ripe raspberry freshness and a balanced dry finish.

5. 2019 McGuigan Cellar Select Hunter Valley Shiraz

McGuigan Wine - bottle of wineNow it was Brian’s turn to be excited. A connoisseur of red wines, he loved the burst of intense ripe berry flavours and earthy influence of this McGuigan’s Shiraz.

The long, warm finish and fine tannins make this wine ideal with red meat dishes such as roast lamb or beef and hearty casseroles.

Even adding little of this wine to a casserole would greatly enhance its taste.

Although red wines traditionally are served at room temperature, Brian generally likes his chilled, but he wasn’t going to argue anyway.

This Shiraz is brilliant room temperature or chilled, he said.

McGUIGAN DESCRIPTION: Chosen for its distinct Shiraz characters and rich flavours. Our Shiraz displays lifted floral notes with chocolate and vanilla, which flows through the palate delivering a smooth and balanced wine.

Which wines would you like?

So, which one of these McGuigan Hunter Valley wines will be your favourite?

I’m not sure, but I am sure that you’ll have a great time finding out.

No matter what your preference is, you’re sure to love at least one of them.

So grab a bottle (or two) and get started!



McGuigan Wines - three wine tasters

Thank you

Brian Pickering and Kaye Browne – FoodWinePetsTravel.com

McGuigan Wines – https://www.mcguiganwines.com.au/

Australian Vintage Limited (AVL) – https://www.australianvintage.com.au/

Santy Lawrensia, Digital Marketing Specialist, Jaywing Australia


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Hypodrive founder grasps 1 per cent chance

When Sharon Whitchurch left home for work in 2006, she couldn’t have imagined that 16 years later she’d be organising a charity ball to raise awareness about the dangers of driving with medical conditions.

Yet on 8 December 2021, she made a public call for people to get behind the inaugural Black Tie Masquerade Ball in Maryborough for that reason.

On that fateful day 16 years ago, Sharon, who has since re-married and changed her surname to Bell, was involved in a car accident that almost claimed her life.

Doctors gave her just a one per cent chance of survival and after six weeks in a coma, her life support system was turned off. Two weeks later she woke.

“Investigations revealed the crash resulted from a driver experiencing a hypoglycaemic episode, a condition in which the blood glucose levels drop below 4mmol/L, whereby cognitive functions can become impaired,” Sharon said.

Forty-five operations and years of rehabilitation later, Sharon is living proof that the will to live can overcome such enormous obstacles.

Tragedy leads to Hypodrive

In 2009, Sharon formed Hypodrive, a not-for-profit organisation that campaigns for awareness about how to stay safe when driving with medical conditions.

She said the best time to educate drivers about the associated dangers was when they were learning.

“Each year in Queensland, there are about 2000 Learner Drivers and 2500 P Platers driving while they have medical conditions,” she said.

“For these young adults, the only legal requirement prior to getting a full driver’s license is to notify the Transport Department that they have a condition.

“All they need is a doctor’s medical certificate stating they are fit to drive.

“The onus is on the drivers to know if their conditions, such as diabetes, which fluctuates, are stable enough to drive.

“With 100 hours of driver training required to get a P Plate license, none of these hours is dedicated to learning how to stay safe on our roads while living with a medical condition.

“This is where Hypodrive’s 5 to Drive program comes in.

“We believe all learners have the right to know what resources are available to them in order to drive safely and help reduce our tragic road tolls.

“The cost for each participant to complete their training is about $500.”

All proceeds from the inaugural Black Tie Masquerade Ball will benefit learner drivers with medical conditions within the Fraser Coast region.

Don masks for Hypodrive charity ball

On 12 February 2022, Fraser Coat Tourism and Events Chair Greig Bolderrow will MC the inaugural Black Tie Masquerade Ball at the Maryborough City Hall.

The popular Fraser Coast show band Soul City will provide music from their repertoire of soul, funk and rock covers.

International artist KTK will provide set-ups, and Kaitlin’s Aerial & Dance Academy will give world-class performances, including spectacular circus acts by students of the local Circus Academy.

The event is being supported by the Rotary Club of Maryborough Sunrise, which will run the bar (cash/card available).

Ball tickets cost $130 each and include a three-course dinner (served Canapé style), and some drinks.

To book, and for more information about the Hypodrive and the 5 to Drive Program, visit www.hypodrive.com.au


PHOTO: Sharon Bell (nee Whitchurch) and learner driver Robert Tutton launch the charity masquerade ball campaign.


Mary bell for Nuyina, Australia’s new icebreaker

When Australia’s new Antarctic icebreaker, the RSV Nuyina, makes its maiden voyage later this year, it will be carrying a bell made in Maryborough.

Nuyina; Ship at seaA team from the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition (ANARE), made a special trip to Maryborough on 15 July 2021 to watch the casting of the ship’s bell at Old’s Engineering in North Street.

ANARE Club National Council president Richard Unwin said Nuyina was built in Romania to replace the Aurora Australis, Australia’s Antarctic flagship from 1989 until 2020.

“Aurora Australis has been retired and the new one (Nuyina) will be the main lifeline to Australia’s Antarctic and sub-Antarctic research stations,” Mr Unwin said.

“It is 160 metres long, weighs 25,500 tonnes and will carry two million litres of fuel to restock all four (Antarctic) stations.”

Nuyina was almost complete in July 2020 but the Covid-19 pandemic delayed its last trials. It’s now expected to arrive in Hobart later this year.

Mr Unwin said the bell would be onboard Nuyina throughout its expected 30-year lifespan life.

“It’s good to see tradespeople still around that can use traditional methods to make bells for ships such as the Nuyina.”

Nuyina bell a link to the Antarctic’s past

Olds Engineering managing director Robert Olds said the bell would be a link to all people who have worked at Australia’s Antarctic research stations.

“This bell is made from a metal that’s known by several names including Gun Metal No. 1 and Admiralty Gun Metal,” Mr Olds said.

“Queensland Rail uses the same composition (88 per cent copper, 10 per cent tin and two per cent zinc) and call it Steam Metal.

“This metal was used to make the guns that fired cannonballs in the early days of the British Admiralty when they fought against the French and Spanish.”

Ship’s soul

Often considered to be a ship’s soul, bells are used for signalling, keeping time and sounding alarms. They’re also used for onboard ceremonies such as baptisms, weddings and funerals.

“If you find an old ship’s bell, have a look inside – you may see engraved names,” Mr Olds said.

To make the Nuyina’s bell, Olds modified an existing pattern, cast the metal in sand and polished it with a lathe and hand-held sander.

ANARE Gratitude

ANARE National Council secretary Trevor Luff thanked Olds Engineering and Hayes Metals for the bell’s creation.

“We thank the Olds family for their most generous offer of casting the bell and also to Hayes Metals, New Zealand and Australia for their most generous offer to supply the metal free of charge,” Mr Luff said.

“We will never forget the experience. We were so excited driving home the conversation never stopped and in a blink were out the front of our house in Cooroy.”

Olds bell for the Nuyina

Olds Engineering apprentices Lachlan Hansen (left) and Calen Simpson, Olds managing director Robert Olds Antarctic Engineer author Dale Jacobsen, ANARE Australian and Queensland secretary Trevor Luff , Peter Olds, ANARE Club National Council president Richard Unwin, and ANARE member Peter McKenzie.

Olds Engineering apprentices Calen Simpson (left) and Lachlan Hansen chip the remaining cast from the Nuyina’s new bell, watched by Doug Eaton (back left), Antarctic Engineer author Dale Jacobsen, ANARE member Peter McKenzie, ANARE Australian and Queensland secretary Trevor Luff and ANARE Club National Council president Richard Unwin, and Olds managing director Robert Olds.

Olds Engineering apprentices Lachlan Hansen (left) and Calen Simpson chipping remains of the cast from the bell.

Olds Engineering apprentices Calen Simpson (left) and Lachlan Hansen chip the remaining cast from the Nuyina’s new bell, watched by Doug Eaton (back left), Antarctic Engineer author Dale Jacobsen, ANARE member Peter McKenzie, ANARE Australian and Queensland secretary Trevor Luff and president Richard Unwin, and Olds managing director Robert Olds.


Olds makes bell for Nuyina

Peter Olds, Doug Eaton, Robert Olds, Calen Simpson, Lachlan Hansen, and Richard Unwin check the bell after being removed from its cast.



Mary Ann’s priceless nameplate comes home

A priceless piece of Queensland’s railway history has reappeared after 127 years.

Ipswich railway enthusiast Merv Volker, who visited the Maryborough last week, has donated the nameplate from the original Mary Ann locomotive to the Whistlestop museum where its replica locomotive is housed.

Mary Ann was the first steam locomotive built in Queensland by John Walker & Co. Ltd. in 1873 for William Pettigrew and William Sim.

The timber pioneers used the loco to haul logs in the Tin Can Bay area but she vanished in 1893 after a Mary River flood and fire at the Dundathu sawmill where she was stored.

In 1999, Maryborough engineer Peter Olds launched a full-size replica that he and his team at Olds Engineering built using just three historic photographs to guide its creation.

The Mary Ann replica is now an iconic attraction in Maryborough, regularly chuffing her way through Queens Park pulling carriages filled with enthusiastic sightseers.

Where has Mary Ann’s nameplate been for 127 years?

Mr Volker, a former Granville resident and now volunteers at the Ipswich railway museum, said he bought the solid brass curved plate bearing the name ‘Mary Ann’ from a long-time friend in Gympie.

“He had it for some years before I bought it from him 23 years ago,” Mr Volker said.

“I don’t know how he came to have it and I don’t want to say how much I paid, but it wasn’t a lot.

“Several times I’ve been going to bring it up to Maryborough but I’ve had doubts about its authenticity.

“I couldn’t give the museum something that was a reproduction. Peter can make his own reproductions – I don’t need to give them one.”

Is it the original nameplate?

Mr Olds said he was thrilled to receive the “priceless” railway artifact from Mr Volker.

“It has to be the genuine plate,” he said. “You just can’t put a price on this type of history.”

Telltale signs include it having a reverse curve and no grooves on the back.

“We also got a piece of plate off an old boiler that’s three-foot six diameter and it fits exactly.

“And, the shape of lettering on the plate is identical to the lettering shown in the old photographs.”

Mr Olds said the nameplate would have been attached to Mary Ann’s original boiler with two screws.

“There’d be steam pressure on those screws and they wouldn’t come out too easily. Whoever took it off would have had to do so with great care.

“It’s amazing the plate is still in such good condition, apart from being slightly bent.”

What will happen to the historic nameplate?

Mr Olds said the Maryborough City Whistlestop committee was planning to fix the original nameplate to the Mary Ann replica.

“It’ll be on the rear end of the engine so passengers can see the plate from the front carriage, touch it and take photographs.”

Mary Ann

Railway enthusiast Merv Volker (left) donates the nameplate from the original Mary Ann to Peter Olds on behalf of the Whistlestop museum in Maryborough, Qld.

Why donate it now?

When asked what prompted him to donate the plate now, Mr Volker said that being 76 years of age, the time had come to downsize his collection of railway memorabilia.

“There comes a time when you have to clean up after yourself,” he laughed.

“I have a large collection and if I was hit by a bus tomorrow, (my sister) Marilyn (Jensen) would have to clean it up.

“It’s a hell of a job. It’ll take me all year to dispose of it. We’ve been going a couple of months already and there’s still so much other stuff.

“My collection includes a lot of Queensland Railway china. I’m not letting that go, but the rest can go.

“Marilyn knows that if something happens to me, she’s to give the china to the railway museum at Ipswich because there are pieces in there they haven’t got.

“Different people who are involved in collecting railway history have different prime subjects. Some people collect tickets only. Others collect things such as lamps and uniforms.”

Call for more relics and photos

Mr Olds said the Maryborough City Whistlestop committee was keen to accept more donations of other local railway relics and photos, including the second locomotive made by John Walker & Co. Ltd, Mary Ann’s sister ‘Dundathu’.

To contact the committee phone (07) 4121 0444 or email mborowhistlestop@bigpond.com

For more on Mary Ann’s history, visit https://maryboroughwhistlestop.org.au and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooloola_Tramway

Fishing shack transformed to a modern beachside home

It’s hard to imagine the stunning beach-side home of Keith and Daphne Buhr in Hervey Bay was ever a little fishing shack.

The original owner, if still alive, would never recognise his former cottage. Even a subdivision of land has changed the street number.

Keith from Core Architecture admits that even he did not realise the cottage’s potential when they bought it about three years earlier.

When he and Daphne moved from Brisbane seeking a semi-retired lifestyle they bought two blocks of land in the street. They intended to keep the cottage as a boat shed on one block and build their home on the other.

“It wasn’t until later that we realised this block with the fishing shack had more potential,” Keith said.

The northeast aspect suited Hervey Bay’s climate perfectly.

While living in the rickety old cottage, Keith set about designing their dream home based on what was already there including the huge albesia tree that now shades most of their backyard.

Two and a half years later Keith and Daphne had a striking beachside home that, to the untrained eye, looks simple in design. The reality is, however, every nook and cranny has been carefully planned to make the most of their environment.

“We installed an air-conditioner in the main bedroom but we have only used it once for heating in winter.”

A new building stands beside the old cottage, which is now a self-contained guest room, with a covered deck joining the two sections.

In keeping with the original style, the home was built with tin and timber. Daphne has completed the beach look with original Hervey Bay artworks throughout.

Originally published in the Fraser Coast Chronicle’s My Place feature, 2009.

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