Brush up on your general knowledge so you can impress others with your trivia skills.

Journey to Queensland’s lost world of dinosaurs

In Part Two of our series on dinosaurs, Peter Woodland takes you through Charleville and Barcaldine before heading deeper into Queensland where you can find more prehistoric reptile fossils near Winton. Keep reading!

Where to from Lightning Ridge? North! We’re heading to Winton, but there are a few interesting stops on the way.

I’d head north from Lightning Ridge through Hebel, Dirranbandi and Ballon on the A2 highway.

The most direct and shortest route to Longreach and Winton is the A2 and it will take you through historic Barcaldine, home of the 1893 Shearers Strike and the birth of the Australian Labor Party.

However, let’s not rush. Just north of Boatman, I’d take a left turn to Charleville.



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Get up close and personal with the cosmos and bilbies

Trail of dinosaurs - the Bilby experience

Bilby. Photo: Creative Commons

I’d do that because there are a couple of attractions in Charleville that I think are worth a look and we’re not in a hurry, are we?

Charlieville boasts the Cosmos Centre. It is an open-air astronomical observatory that is a treat for young and old.

We nomads know the night sky is an unfathomable wonder, way out there, but the Cosmos Centre will take you even closer.

There are other observatories around Australia, but I don’t know of one with as consistently clear skies as Charleville.

The next morning, you can visit the Charleville Bilby Experience at the local railway station.

These little critters are adorable and surprisingly little known.

If, however, Australia is serious about guarding and preserving this wide brown land we are fortunate to be custodians of, we could start with the bilby.

Clear your mind of the Easter Bunny; take the legend of the Easter Bilby home to your families and grandchildren.

Destined for dinosaurs

Dinosaurs - australovenitor

Australovenitor at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs. Photo: Creative Commons

Heading north again, we return to the A2 and will eventually arrive in Barcaldine.

It’s only a short trip to Longreach and, then, Winton.

There are attractions in both of these centres worth dallying for, but we’re interested in dinosaurs and they are tantalisingly close.


Stay at the home of Waltzing Matilda

In Winton, apart from the tourist parks, there are several hotels and motels from which to choose. Of note is the historic North Gregory Hotel.

Banjo Patterson wrote Waltzing Matilda while staying nearby at Dagworth Station and it is reliably reported that it was first recited at the North Gregory on April 6, 1895.

On the subject, the Waltzing Matilda Centre, in Winton’s main street, is a trove of detail about the era and the human faces behind this quintessential Australian piece.

Trail of dinosaurs - hotel in Winton

North Gregory Hotel. Photo: Creative Commons



See world-class dinosaur attractions

Now as to the Dinosaurs, I hear you ask.

The area around Winton was, again, on the edge of that erstwhile sea, mentioned previously, during the early to mid-Cretaceous, 145mya to 110mya.

It abounds in dinosaurs and other prehistoric reptile fossils.

The district boasts the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History and Lark Quarry.

These attractions are spectacular, world-class facilities and both are an easy drive from the centre of Winton.

Dinosaurs - two models

Dinosaurs at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History near Winton. Photo: Jocelyn Watts

Dinosaurs - Lark Quarry

Lark Quarry, Winton. Photo: Jocelyn Watts




Explore further afield

If you wish to venture further afield while based in Winton, new discoveries and a comprehensive display of some of the denizens of the Eromanga Sea can be found in Boulia.

Alternatively, head to Eromanga and the Eromanga Natural History Museum to meet Cooper, the largest dinosaur found in Australia to date.



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Explore dinosaur trails less travelled

Have you ever wanted to take a journey in the footsteps of giants? One that is less travelled by man, and full of prehistoric wonder!

Well, now’s your chance because Australia’s dinosaur trails have opened up in this amazing world.

But if you’re already a dedicated traveller, there may be none of the well-known trails left in your repertoire.

So why not invent one of your own? May I suggest a slightly different trail?

If you’re a grey nomad or any other southern self-contained gadabout and you’re heading north to sunny Queensland, start your trail at Lightning Ridge in far northern NSW.

If you’re already in North Queensland, simply start at the other end.



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Start at Lightning Ridge

Dinosaur Trails - Cretaceous Australia.

Cretaceous Australia. Photo: Creative Commons

Lightning Ridge is the source of some of Australia’s most spectacular dinosaur fossils; spectacular because they are opalised.

The district is a productive sight for Australian opals and that can add another dimension to your visit.

Most dinosaur discoveries at Lightning Ridge are from the Early to Mid Cretaceous periods, between 145mya and 110mya.

At this time central Australia was covered by a vast, relatively shallow, inland sea. Lightning Ridge would have been on the south-eastern shore of this sea.

These opal fields are the source of several important dinosaur fossil finds. Most recently, the small ornithopod dinosaur, Weewarrasaurus pobeni, was announced in 2019.

This dinosaur was small, approximately dog-sized and likely travelled in family groups or herds for protection. We know it from two fragments of a jawbone and some teeth.

Dinosaur fossils found in an opal mine

Prior to that, fossils of what appears to be a herd of larger ornithopod dinosaurs were found deep underground in an opal mine.

This dinosaur, Fostoria dhimbangunmal, is related to the well-known Muttaburrasaurus from North-western Queensland.

Over 60 bones have been discovered for this species representing four individuals.

The species name is a local Aboriginal word meaning ‘sheepyard’ from the locality where the fossils were found.

Numerous other fragments and bones of extinct dinosaurs remain to be identified in the district. Perhaps the most tantalising of these is ‘Lightning Claw’.

This dinosaur is known from very little evidence and none sufficient to flesh it out or officially give it a name.

It is assumed to be a large theropod, a Megaraptor, perhaps the largest of a type of dinosaur rarely found in the Australian fossil record.

Lightning claw

Lightning Claw. Photo: Creative Commons

Things to see and do at Lightning Ridge

Lightning Ridge has several caravan parks. Check out the fossicking heaps at the Tourist Information Centre.

The John Murray Gallery is a must, and a good meal can be had at the Lightning Ridge Bowls Club.

In particular, I’d recommend Piccolo Italian Restaurant. The food is superb but whatever you do, don’t ask for connolis.

This is a proud Roman restaurant and they don’t do that sort of Sicilian fare, as I discovered when I asked. They were polite but very definite.

Try the Car Door Tours; an economical, quaint way to see the sights.

When you get to Lightning Ridge, ask about the new Australian Opal Centre.

This is a proposed, state-of-the-art museum to be built into the earth at Lightning Ridge. Construction is due to start in 2022.


Lightning Ridge - Car Door Tours

The Car Door Tours at Lighting Ridge are a must-see attraction. Photo: Jocelyn Watts

Lightning Ridge - John Murray Gallery Mural

John Murray Gallery mural at Lightning Ridge. Photo: Jocelyn Watts

Explore Australia’s lesser-known dinosaur trails

So you’re looking for a destination that’s off the beaten path, why not explore some of Australia’s lesser-known dinosaur trails?

These areas are home to prehistoric creatures that once roamed the earth, and offer an unforgettable experience for travellers of all ages.

Lightning Ridge

Sunset at Lightning Ridge with a labyrinth. Photo: Shutterstock






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The story behind Maryborough’s coat of arms

Did you know that Maryborough, Queensland, has its own coat of arms? If you’re visiting the Heritage City, you can see its coat of arms on a wall facing the Town Hall Green. Titled ‘The Crest’, it is one of 40+ murals that make up the Maryborough Mural Trail. To learn more about this piece of local history, read on! Our contributor, Peter Woodland, shares some insights into the fascinating world of heraldry.

The surprising number of Australian cities with coats of arms

According to the Heraldry of the World wiki 108 Australian cities have coats of arms.

There are, in fact, at least 394 Australian cities with a population of more than 10,000 people and there are another 88 towns with a population of more than 5000.

Perhaps, in your travels, keep your eye out for municipal coats of arms. It could be just one more enjoyable pastime, as you while away the kilometres.



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Who can have a coat of arms?

In Australia, anyone can adopt a coat of arms of their own design. However, there are some limitations to that process.

The said coat of arms is not theirs exclusively. It can be used and copied by anyone unless some copyright applies.

If the coat of arms they adopt is the same as one borne by an armiger whose coat of arms was granted by the College of Arms in London or by some other official body in other parts of the world, then its use is illegal.

It may come as a surprise to many that family coats of arms are very rare in the British domain.

Just because your name is Fortesque-Smythe, for example, it does not follow that you can use the coat of arms of someone else called Fortesque-Smythe.

You have to be able to trace a direct line through the eldest child, usually male, in each generation, back to the original “owner” of the arms.

In the British world, arms are granted to an individual, an enterprise or an institution, not to families.

That is just one of many “rules’ one has to get used to in the world of heraldry.

What is heraldry?

Heraldry began as the use of a distinctive shield or, perhaps, coat to identify a combatant on a battlefield.

They were simple and brightly or unusually coloured so that your side knew who you were.

The best coats of arms to this day follow that custom of simplicity.

Perhaps the aspect of heraldry most difficult to understand is the blazon.

This is words written in a particular style to describe the coat of arms.

It includes old and foreign words and follows an order of precedent.

This is one such blazon:

Quarterly, 1 and 4 Gules three Pallets Argent and 2 and 3 Azure, three Bars wavy Argent a Cross embattled counter embattled throughout Or and overall a Maltese Cross Azure

That is the blazon for the shield from the coat of arms of the City of Maryborough, in Queensland, Australia. It means:

A shield divided into quarters. The first and fourth quarters are red and silver (white) alternating vertical stripes. The second and third quarters are blue and silver (white) alternating horizontal wavy stripes. The quarters are divided by a gold cross that is embattled. That is, its edges are “jagged” as in the top of a traditional castle wall. Over the top of all this is a blue Maltese cross.

This is Maryborough’s coat of arms:

Coat of Arms - Maryborough, Qld


As you can see there are several other elements to Maryborough’s coat of arms. These elements are part of the original grant.

Some of them such as the two supporters on either side and the “ground” or compartment, they are standing on are rare in an individual’s coats of arms. They have to be granted by the sovereign.

Another element is a helmet and there are rules about what sort of helmet individuals can use. On the other hand, it does not have to be a medieval “knights” helmet. It could be a miner’s hard-hat, for instance, if appropriate.

Above the helmet is a torse or twisted piece of cloth or some other cloth buffer. On the torse sits the crest.

I bet you wondered when I was going to use that word because many of us talk about the crest as being the whole thing.

The crest can be almost anything, if appropriate and is often used as a badge by the armiger (owner of the arms).

It might serve as a monogram on clothing, a signet ring, a logo on personal stationery or anything you desire.

In the case of Maryborough, it is the schooner “Blue Jacket”, at sea, on a circle of spiky (embattled) gold circles, with two sticks of sugar cane.

Lastly, there is the motto, beneath the shield. The motto can say almost anything and can be in any language, Klingon, if you wish.

Mottos can be tricky though because it is supposedly a statement of deeply held views and character.

Don’t give yourself a motto about bravery, if, in reality, you ascribe to the view that “He who runs away lives to fight another day.”

Maryborough’s motto is Latin and it means: Faith, Strength and Courage



Maryborough received a badge when these arms were granted and this is it:

coat of arms - maryborough badge

The badge repeats the colours and symbols of the arms.


Granted, I hear you ask. Yes, granted!

In Australia “official” coats of arms are granted by a British College of Arms.

The gentlemen responsible for the design and grant of the arms to Maryborough were:

Sir Alexander Colin Cole, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, upon whom has been conferred the Territorial Decoration, Garter Principal King of Arms, Sir Anthony Richard Wagner, Knight Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, Clarenceux King of Arms and John Philip Brooke Brooke-Little, Esquire, Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, Norroy and Ulster, King of Arms.

Make your own coat of arms

Municipal coats of arms can be fun to look for, and they can also be a great way to learn more about the places you visit.

If you’re feeling creative, there’s no reason why you can’t come up with your own arms for yourself or your town or city.

Just make sure you follow all the “rules”. After all, you wouldn’t want to get in trouble with the arms authorities!





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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, including (right) Peter Woodland and Jocelyn Watts, try out the traditional game of croquet.



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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 the 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, phone (07) 4152 8472, or email

croquet - card depicting children

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



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Crocodiles were prehistoric but they’re not dinosaurs

Crocodiles are in the news again, for all the wrong reasons.

They are reptiles like lizards, turtles and snakes and they have a very ancient lineage.

Crocodiles belong to the clade Archosaur. A clade is a group of organisms that have a common ancestor.

Interestingly, Archosaurs also include dinosaurs and pterosaurs.

The earliest fossil crocodile known lived more than 300 million years ago and the crocodilians developed alongside the dinosaurs.

Like birds, which are now considered dinosaur descendants, crocodilians survived the K-T extinction, 66 million years ago.



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Why aren’t crocodiles considered dinosaurs?

There are a number of reasons particularly surrounding the Archosaur “family tree” and when crocodiles branched off. For you and me, the answer is fairly simple.

A key aspect of dinosaur morphology, or shape, if you like, is that their hind legs are positioned directly under their body. This is true for birds, for instance, but not for crocodiles.

For this reason, also, pterosaurs, flying reptiles from the time of dinosaurs and prehistoric marine reptiles, such as ichthyosaurs, pliosaurs and plesiosaurs are not dinosaurs.

In recent years, crocodiles have appeared in our news as the culprits in attacks on humans. This shouldn’t surprise us and, in fact, they are fairly easy to avoid.

Those who’ve been attacked took unnecessary risks either through bravado or ignorance. In Australia, the warnings are clear and simple.


On a bank of the Annan River near Cooktown is Blackie, the five-metre male croc that is said to rule the area.

Where are crocodiles found in Australia?

You can expect they are in any watercourse or basin from Fraser Island, across the northern coastline of Queensland and the Northern Territory, to Shark Bay in WA.

Don’t go in or on the water, even in small boats or skis and kayaks. Don’t develop habits such as fishing, cleaning fish or dumping fish or meat scraps in the same place regularly.

Crocodiles are smart and they learn.

Crocodiles are common in Australian tropical waters and the largest grow to at least five metres. You are not going to survive a meeting with an animal that size.



How big are crocodiles?

The largest measured crocodile was Lolong, which was captured and measured at 6.17 metres.

Lolong was captured in the Philippines. He was suspected of the deaths of several people in his vicinity.

There have been claims of bigger specimens, including Krys. He was shot in 1958 near Normanton in Far North Queensland and was claimed to be 8.64 metres long.

The accuracy of this measurement is contested though.

There is a skull in the Paris Museum that is 76cm long. Lolong’s skull was only 70cm.

Returning to prehistoric crocodilians, the largest known was Sarcosuchus imperator which may have grown to 12 metres.




Crocodiles are some of the oldest reptiles on Earth and have been around for hundreds of millions of years.

They’ve managed to survive mass extinctions, including one that killed off the dinosaurs, and they’re still going strong today.

What can we learn from these impressive creatures? Quite a bit, it turns out.

Crocodiles are an important part of their ecosystems and play a crucial role in keeping everything in balance.

As humans continue to encroach on their habitats, it’s more important than ever to learn how to live alongside crocodiles peacefully.

We hope you enjoyed learning about crocodiles as much as we enjoyed writing this post!






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Queensland Boulder Opal: What makes it so special?

Queensland Boulder Opal is treasured throughout the world because people love its unique beauty and deep colouration.

As the name ‘Boulder’ suggests, the colourful opal forms inside cracks and fissures within ironstone boulders.

The opal forms over millions of years from water containing silica-rich minerals having seeped from river currents or streams, resulting in a gemstone with “playful” colours that last forever.

To prepare these beautiful gemstones for jewellery, cutters divide the ironstone boulder, leaving the opal sitting on top of either side or just one side, before cutting and polishing.


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Why is it so valuable?

Queensland Boulder Opal is the rarest and expensive type of this natural gemstone.

The reason why it’s so valuable? Well, how about an intense mystical fire inside that has really popularised this gemstone for thousands of years.

It’s found only in one country on earth where you have an intense fire inside– Australia!

Opal miners have many places to explore in their search for Queensland Boulder Opal.

The primary fields include Winton, Quilpie, Opalton, Yowah, Eromanga and Cunnamulla.

A fine example could be worth even more than diamonds because of their popularity with people who love these fiery stones or those looking for something unique.

 The natural iron base of Queensland Boulder Opal gives it stability and depth.

The varied shapes in which these gemstones occur make for interesting jewellery with vibrant, bold hues you can’t find anywhere else.

The value of Queensland Boulder Opal depends upon the colours in the gemstone.

A colourful specimen would be more expensive than a gem that has a few dull colours.

Likewise, a dark opal gem is more valuable than a light-shaded one.

The worth of the jewels follows an order. Red is the rarest and hence most valuable. It’s trailed by orange, green, blue, and purple.

Uses of opal

Many people believe all opal has magical powers. It is said that if you wear an opal on your neck or shoulders for protection from negative energy then nothing will go wrong that day.

Opal tends to have a calming effect on the inner soul; the varied colours in the stone represent changing emotions. It enhances personal actualisation and self-awareness.

Ancient Greeks and Romans particularly believed the stone to have special powers. They used it to improve their mental health and ward off evil spirits.

They also prized the gemstone because of its colourful display and variety of patterns, which range from fine lines to chic metropolitan “cityscapes”.

The stones themselves have been intricately carved into everything from jewellery pieces like earrings and necklaces to various household items such as kitchen tiles.

Boulder opal jewellery

Queensland Boulder Opal is a unique and beautiful gemstone that can make an excellent gift.

The contrasting colours add to the beauty of the jewellery piece, whether it’s a ring or a necklace— the play of colours in the stone expresses individuality.

Opal comes in all different colours, so you will find something perfect for anyone on your list, or to boost your own collection.

Here are some tips about caring for them:

  • Queensland Boulder Opal does not require much care, as the stone is relatively stable on its own. It remains unaffected by water.
  • It just needs cleaning with mild detergent and clean cloths to shine again once dry (or sometimes even polish).
  • Oils will also not damage these stones, but over time they may build-up, resulting in reduced clarity.
  • Opal jewellery shouldn’t be dropped onto a hard surface, for the gemstone might chip or crack. It is best to take off your rings before cleaning or any type of manual work.




  • Opal is a gemstone that symbolises innocence and purity. It is said to promote peace, love, and hope
  • The birthstone of October, opal is also the stone that celebrates 14 years of marriage
  • In ancient times this stone was considered sacred by Romans who believed it had magical powers for healing skin conditions such as leprosy
  • Queensland’s Boulder Opal gets its name from the fact it is found in boulders
  • Opal comes in a variety of colours and shapes. There’s black opal, white opal crystal-like in appearance and jelly; other types include firey varieties like hyaline or honeyed ones from Lightning Ridge
  • Boulder Opal is found only in Queensland. Other opals are found in Australia, Mexico, Brazil, Ural Mountains (Russia), the United States, and India.


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Exchange your vows with a sand ceremony

Imagine exchanging your vows in sand, billions of years old and rock solid.

You can. A sand ceremony symbolises unity and is a popular choice for weddings as couples start their new journey together.

Rock-solid? Yes, because sand comes from rock, coral, shells – and the beginnings of time itself.

In early ceremonies, the couple tossed handfuls of sand together into the wind.

The grains combined and could not, of course, be separated, thus symbolising unity and eternity.

Many of today’s celebrations honour both families and the vases are kept as a treasured reminder of eternal togetherness.

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Sand ceremony: one way of tying the knot

Choose three beautiful glass vases. 

Place one coloured sand into one vase, and a second colour into another vase. These are designed to represent the couple.

At the right moment in the service, one partner pours a portion of his/her sand into the third vase. The other partner then pours a portion of her/his sand on top of the first.

Finally, the couple jointly pours the remainder into each of their vases and into the central vase. Two symbolically then become one.

You can create your own sand ceremony kit or buy one ready-made.


Here is an original selection of special words each and both can say at the ceremony

  • I wish for us these sands of time to unite, inspire, and heal.
  • I wish for us the continuity of the billions of years represented in these sands.
  • I wish for us the smoothness of these sands as we too move across the waters of life, together.
  • May our commitment, our love be as ever-lasting as these sands of endless time.

You can also include children in this beautiful ceremony by using more colours.

Why not engrave the vases with initials, names and the wedding date making them a moving keepsake for years to come?


Recommended Reading: Author and marriage celebrant Jennifer Cram gives a fresh look at unity ceremonies in Unity Candle and Sand Ceremony: A Definitive Guide to the Creative Use of Candle and Sand Rituals in Wedding and Commitment Ceremonies

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What do the cemetery symbols and emblems mean?

Have you ever wondered about the symbols and emblems found on headstones and monuments at the cemetery?Cemetery Symbols

If you grew up in a religious family, there were no doubt some symbols that appeared frequently.

For me, it was the Celtic Cross. This is an interesting combination, including Celtic, Latin and Ancient Greek.

At the cemetery, you will find these and many more. The Maryborough Cemetery, or at least the monumental part of it, is quite old by Queensland standards. It was established in 1873, though there had been earlier cemeteries.

The first was at the site of the Old Maryborough Township near the intersection of Alice and Aldridge streets, and, later, at the site of the Elizabeth Park Rose Gardens. There were also various burials scattered throughout the district.

If you wander through the monumental cemetery on Walker St, you will be in awe of the size, variety and beauty of the various headstones and monuments erected to honour the deceased. It should be noted that the cemetery is divided into portions assigned to various faiths.

If you enter from Walker St, through the main gate, you will note the abundance of Celtic Crosses on the left of the avenue.

This is one of the Catholic portions of the cemetery. Cemetery symbols

To your right is an Anglican section. Crosses predominate throughout the cemetery, as one would expect, historically.  There are two quaintly named “Non-Christian” portions which are quite small.

Amongst the larger and more spectacular monuments, several motifs stand out apart from the crosses.

Angels, of course, are common and of varying styles. Look out for the Archangels Michael, with a sword and Gabriel, with a horn or trumpet. Angels may fly, symbolizing the departure of the soul, or crying in grief. Cherubs are often used to show the deceased was a child.

There are many monuments that feature an obelisk or stele. This is a square spire tapering towards the top, with a distinctive pyramid shape at the point. They are quite ancient symbols of power and achievement.

Occasionally, the monument will be topped by a column that appears broken off. This is deliberate. The broken column, again, symbolizes a life cut short and is usually a sign that the deceased died quite young.

Cemetery Symbols

As you continue to ramble amongst the graves, note the number of monuments topped by urns. Maryborough Cemetery has quite a few of them.

Some argue the urn symbolizes immortality, but it is probable that the urn motif is a remembrance of an earlier time when cremation was more common than burial.

The word urn comes from the Latin “uro” which means “to burn”. The purpose of the urn was to hold the ashes, which echo the Biblical reference in Genesis, to the dust we humans intrinsically are.

Many of the urns are draped with a cloth. This is the shroud, another ancient motif associated with death. From the earliest times and across many faiths, the body was wrapped in a cloth before interment.

The cemetery in Maryborough also contains at least one crypt and several raised tombs.

What would you like on your tombstone?


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What’s with the pissoir in Clochemerle?

When I was a boy, I think my mother had a problem with toilets. Not the functions but the architecture.

Mum was quite “distressed” by the outhouse, which was situated some 10 metres from the house, out in the back yard.

Hence, the one horror story she recounted of my early childhood was that I would habitually knock on the outhouse door, while she was in there, and ask, rather loudly, “Mum, what are you doing?”

I was an otherwise perfect child if the lack of other or worse stories were any indication. I was inquisitive.

Equally, I remember her anguish and annoyance when a BBC production of a French story, Clochemerle, appeared on our television guide.

Clochemerle was a farce, originally political, which, I suspect, the BBC funded as a shot at the French.

It involved a small French town in the Beaujolais region, which put in a public urinal, a “pissoir”, in the town square, outside the Catholic Church.

Mum mumbled imprecations against the BBC for weeks.

They’re funny things toilets, aren’t they? More funny peculiar than funny Ha!Ha!; though not if you’re a little boy of a certain age or, sometimes, not so young.

In a way though, they define civilisation. The earliest sewer systems known were in the Indus Valley; a technology present in almost every house in the cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro more than 8000 years ago. The Romans had them.

More than 5000 years ago the dwellings at Skara Brae, in the Orkney Islands, were all connected by a sewerage system.



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All that c@%$

I would like to clear up one misconception before I sign off. It is an urban myth that the flushing toilet was invented by Thomas Crapper.

Though he held patents on numerous toilet-related inventions, Thomas did not invent the flushing toilet.

His greatest claim to fame is that he invented and patented the ball cock system that made flushing toilets more efficient and is still in use today.

The wily amongst you will no doubt have discerned another connection between Mr Crapper and toilets.

Yes, it does seem that a form of his name has come down to us in a colloquial term for the function one performs when using the toilet.

As with all things, there is some debate about this but let us leave the topic entirely, as, I’m sure, my mother would have wished.


Clochemerle, loos and all that … first published in the Maryborough Herald, 24 June 2020. 

















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Mortuary chapel, the nucleus of M’boro Cemetery

Have you ever been to the Maryborough Cemetery; the Monumental Cemetery, south of Walker St?

Of course, you have! However, if you have visitors and you’re looking for something interesting on a balmy afternoon, there’s no better place to visit.

Apart from the forest of beautiful and interesting monuments and headstones, when you arrive, your eyes will be drawn to the Mortuary Chapel.

This is the handsome structure in the centre of the “old” cemetery.

Once again, a building in our midst boasts interesting and talented antecedents.

The Queensland Heritage Register describes the “chapel” building type as rare and the structure itself, with a tower and four entrances over a central axis as unique in Queensland.

Bravo! There’s a reason this piece of our heritage is so ­special.

Work of architect Willoughby Powell

As with the various buildings, mentioned in the Maryborough Herald on May 7, attributable to Francis Drummond Greville Stanley, the Mortuary Chapel is the work of ­another distinguished Queensland Colonial architect.

This time it is Willoughby Powell who arrived in Queensland in 1872, and by 1875, had won a competition for the ­design of the Toowoomba Grammar School.

In 1882, he moved to Maryborough and set up his own practice here.

Apart from his design for the cemetery chapel, he was the “genius” who gave us ­Baddow House; one of the classic heritage private homes of Queensland.

Alas, Powell moved back to Brisbane in 1885, but went on to design important buildings across the length of Queensland.

Among his other achievements are Gabbinbar Homestead, Toowoomba Town Hall, Warwick Town Hall and the Atkinson & Powell Building in Townsville.

For more details, visit the Queensland Heritage Register at

Mortuary Chapel story first published in the Maryborough Herald, 18 May 2020