Mon Nov 26
Today I fly to Cairns. I am visiting Peg, the woman who was my sacristan at St Catherine’s (1981-85). She has been a faithful correspondent all these years (without email!) taking great interest in all my parishes & is now in a nursing home. After 2 days in Cairns I catch the Tilt Train down the Queensland coast, stopping at Townsville & Rockhampton. I have not done this trip before & am looking forward to exploring this part of Australia. I finish up at Brisbane next Sunday & return to Melbourne on Dec 4.
I had a relaxing 2 days in Cairns. Peg is in the early stages of alzheimers & the a/noon I spent with her was difficult. We finished up with my doing a jigsaw puzzle of a map of Australia, assisted by Peg. This was fun, as I tried to get Peg to guess where a part might go. It was the 1st time I have done a puzzle for 50 years – & I didn’t complete it! On Wed I caught the train down to Townsville. The scenery was much the same after an hour, so I was grateful I could watch a movie on the video screen at my seat. Townsville seemed a bit dead – but a highlight was being recognized in my hotel by a Qantas flight attendant who used to be Guest Relations Manager at the Adelaide Intercontinental. I was amazed she remembered me after 2 years. I did get to see the Anglican cathedral – a magnificent building – but a good example of what was an Anglocatholic diocese in the past, now typical of the bland Australian Anglican Church. Only 1 weekday Mass in a cathedral says it all!
On Thurs night I caught the overnight train to Rockhampton. I was excited to have a sleeper compartment – the last time I did this was in Germany 20 years ago. The train arrived in at 4.45 am. I walked around the city for an hour, then checked in at my hotel. It is a lovely boutique hotel, built in 1885 as a railways admin building. I had a spa bath & then enjoyed breakfast. Now to explore this provincial city.
Sat Dec 1
i have had an interesting 2 days in Rocky, reminding me of driving thru the outback from Adel to Sydney when I was young & stopping in typical Aussie country towns. On Friday I went to the Rockhampton Heritage Village. This is a marvellous park containing old homes, etc, incl a church, that have been re-erected here & furnished as 100 years ago. Some of the kitchens reminded me of my grandmother’s. In the evening I went to the local pub for their weekly BBQ & rodeo night. At the back of the pub was a large rodeo area with stands, & I enjoyed watching young guys (incl an 8 yr old) riding bulls.
On Sat I walked to the Botanical Gardens & Zoo. The Zoo was not large, but it was one of the best zoos I have visited. The setting is very open-air & you can get close to all the animals & birds, even the kangaroos. And the Zoo was free! I chatted to one of the volunteers, who was a young woman from Washington State, US. The Botanical Gardens were also excellent & included a lagoon with hundreds of birds.
After the Gardens I walked to a monument marking the Tropic of Capricorn. I crossed the Tropic of Capricorn!
On Sun I caught the 7.30 am train to Brisbane, arriving there at 4 pm. At 6.30 pm I went to E/song & Benediction at All Saints’ – the traditional anglocatholic parish of Brisbane. Afterwards I had drinks with the Rector, an old friend. On Monday I went on the “hop on-hop off” bus. This gave me an overview of Brisbane – a city I have visited often for church business (including a national youth conference in 1966) but never really explored. The ticket included rides on the city catamarans that go along the Brisbane River, so I took a ride in each direction.
Thus ends my trip to tropical Queensland. Another exciting adventure in re-discovering our wonderful country. Tues morning I caught a flight back to Melb & at 6 pm attended an art exhibition opening in the St Kilda Sea Baths.
I have had a busy week since I got back. Wed I saw the Dr, who said my knee was improving. It is still painful to kneel – but genuflecting is good exercise! Thursday I did all my Christmas cards – not so many now I am no longer a parish priest. 60 overseas & 80 in Australia. On Fri I had errands & shopping to do & did a lot of walking. My knee was okay that night – but I was aching all over. On Saty I said Mass for the Immaculate Conception & in the evening had 3 of my friends from the Vic PAFC supporters group – 3 fun young women. I showed them all the pics, magazines, etc from 1965-67, when I ran the PAFC Cheer Squad. I am handing these over to the Club when I visit Adel.
This morning I was Deacon at High Mass. No kneeling, but sang the gospel well, which incl various names of governors & places. I had 3 old friends from Fitzroy for lunch – another pleasant occasion. Tomorrow I am going to Ballarat for the local SSC Chapter end-to-year BBQ.
It has been a hot week, but my condo is cool, thanks to the ceiling fans I installed. In the mornings the bay is beautiful & still. My visit to Ballarat on Monday was pleasant. Everyone was pleased to see me again & the food was excellent, esp the sweets. In the evening I went to Luna Park with my friend, David. For my American friends, this is Melbourne’s version of Coney Is & is just down the road on the beach. It was a free night for local residents to celebrate the centenary on Dec 13 & David & I enjoyed reliving our childhoods at the Sema4 beach! Tues I had morning tea with the DalleMolles, then lunch with my old friend, Sr Angela, & in the evening drinks with the Vic PAFC supporters group.
Wed was a quiet day, apart from a plumber coming in the morning. On Thurs my old friend & right-hand man from St Mark’s, Leon Warden, came to lunch. It was good to see him again & hear about St M’s. On Friday I fly to Adelaide. I will have 8 days away, incl a family lunch, bbq with Port Adel friends, Sunday Mass at St Paul’s, Port Adel, & 4 days at Goolwa on the south coast.
I had a lovely week in SA. Last w/e at Largs Bay was excellent, with long walks along the beach to my old home at Sema4, a bbq with old friends & Sunday Mass & lunch at St Paul’s. Monday it was lunch at Hahndorf, the old German town in the Adelaide Hills, with 4 cousins & my last surviving uncle, who is marvellous for his age. Tues-Fri I was at Goolwa & enjoyed walks along the river & meals/drinks with old friends – incl fish & chips on the riverbank surrounded by galahs & cockatoos. There was also an SSC meeting of the SA Chapter.
Back to Melb on Saty & Mass at All SS this morning, incl children’s Christmas pageant. I have had these in my 3 parishes, but you don’t see them much these days – probably politically incorrect for the modern Anglican Rector!
This will be my 1st Christmas Day in Melbourne since 2002 & I have enjoyed a relaxing day today without the pressures & busy schedule of being a parish priest. The warm weather yesterday (39c) & overnight (27c) reminds me of a real Aussie Christmas that is so familiar to me. I look forward to the Services at All SS, esp the music from the choir. Tonight I am Deacon at Midnight Mass. No party afterwards, tho, as in my previous parishes. Tomorrow I celebrate the 8 am Mass, & am Deacon at the 10 am High Mass. I shall enjoy singing the gospels, esp the wonderful St John Prologue tomorrow. Then at 6 pm I have 3 good friends from St Mark’s coming for dinner. With lots of laughter, good food & wine it will be an enjoyable celebration of the 1st Christmas in my new home.
Christmas week in St K has been very nice, with lovely weather & good eating. Each day I have walked along the beach, reminding me of growing up in Sema4. Christmas dinner with Lindsay, Jacquie & Graham was a lot of fun. They each brought something & I was left with delicious left-overs! Boxing day I went to Williamstown (other side of the bay) for lunch at home of old friends, Ian & Dale. They invited several of their friends & it was an excellent a/noon. Thurs night I walked across the road to the Open-air Cinema to watch The Master, a movie loosely based on L Ron Hubbard, starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Fri I went by train to Sth Morang, a new station 20 km north of the city, to have lunch at the home of Ian & Ros – very old friends who recently moved into a retirement village. All mod cons for retirement living, but perhaps a little too sedate for me! Saturday I had another couple of old friends for lunch. Sunday Deacon at High Mass. No choir & small congregation.
So 2012 comes to an end.
My 1st Christmas & New year in St Kilda was quiet. I hosted a lovely Christmas dinner with 3 old friends from St Mark’s. On Boxing day I went to Williamstown for lunch with good friends, Ian & Dale, & on the Friday visited old friends, Ian & Ros, in their new retirement unit. I enjoyed attending the St K Open-air cinema twice, seeing The Master & Skyfall from a deck-chair! I began reading a 2 volume book on the history of the Church, The Christian Centuries. I received these books as prizes for top marks when I was in seminary in 1977 – but never found the time to read them. Retirement affords me the opportunity that life as a parish priest did not. NYE I walked along the beach where crowds were gathering & parties starting, then went into the city to enjoy the atmosphere. I returned at 11.15 pm & had a gr8 view of the fireworks from the St K pier. Another relaxing week followed with long walks along the beach & reading at home. On Sunday 6th I was Deacon for Epiphany High Mass & then a lovely family from All SS came to lunch.
A new year means new travel, of course! On Jan 8 I flew to Wellington. I was last here in 1965, when my father took my brother & I on a Christmas holiday after my mother died. I arrived on a lovely summer’s a/noon, but the next 2 days were very windy, so much so that I was almost blown off the street. However I managed to visit the 2 cathedrals, parliament house & the National NZ museum. The museum was so good I returned on Thursday for a 2nd visit. Friday I flew back to Melbourne. I was surprised to find that check-in & the international terminal were not open until 2 hours before my flight, but got into the Air NZ domestic lounge to wait in comfort 😉
Today I have 4 friends from All SS coming to lunch. Tomorrow I fly to Adelaide & will be there until Saty. I will stay with my friend, David, at Largs. As well as enjoying summer in my home town I also hope to catch up with various friends whom I did not see last time – even tho public transport is in disarray with the closure of Adelaide Railway Station for a month.
I had a pleasant 6 days in Adelaide catching up with friends & staying at Largs Bay. I ate & drank too much, but it was all enjoyable! Altho the railway station was closed I managed to use busses & trains without hassles. Went to the Barossa Valley on Wednesday with David. Thurs went to 5pm Mass at St Paul’s, then dinner with David & Fr Bruce Naylor, who I was in seminary with. We drove him home to where he lives, which is in the area of my 1st parish after I was ordained Deacon in 1979. Driving thru those old familiar streets I was interested in the changes, but saddened that St Augustine’s is now closed. 34 years ago the diocese funded my ministry after they had had no clergyman for 10 years, & it grew. Now sold – a sad comment on the decline of the Anglican Church in Adelaide.
Now for a busy week in St K. In a week’s time I go on my 1st overseas trip for 2013 & will be away 6 weeks. So things to organise, bills to pay, fridge to empty, friends to see. Yesterday I paid my rates – $2,000 less than for same size unit in SD! I have been invited to 2 different bbq’s at friends’ homes in Fitzroy, incl Australia Day (very traditional!) & lunch with old Adelaide friend, Rosemary. Wed night I catch up with the PAFC Vic supporters group. Roll on the footy season 😉
Today I was on national TV! I was awake at 3.30 am (adjusting to US time) & at 5.45 am went across the road to see the broadcast of the national TV breakfast show, Sunrise, from St K beach. Quite a crowd had already gathered, some with posters they held up. The presenter, Kochie, is president of PAFC, so I wore by footy top. I was spotted & later Kochie came over to speak to me. I reminded him that I sat next to him at the 2004 Grand Final lunch. He remembered me as the priest from SD & asked what was I doing now. I told him I was living across the road & would be going back to Adelaide for many Port games. He said he would see me there….does this mean I am to be invited to the President’s lunch? I wish! For the telecast I positioned myself behind the news-reader. When she read the news I could be seen over her right shoulder. Later I got 2 texts from people in Adelaide who had seen me 😉
There was a free breakfast of bbq sausages & bottled water. As I am adjusting to US time this became my lunch! It was a lovely sunny morning so afterwards I walked along the seafront. At home I packed for my trip, then vacuumed the unit. This a/noon I will go for a long walk, have dinner with my friend, David, then have an early night. Tomorrow I fly to SD – arriving there the same day & time! 6 weeks of travel will take me to London, Walsingham, Tokyo, Seoul, Austin, Boston & Montreal.