Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 18 Wedding Bells

4 x 7UP collageOne of the big differences between when I was a young adult and today, seems to be that many of us married young. I don’t mean this is a commendable thing, nor am I being judgemental of today’s delayed marriages or civil partnerships….simply making a social observation. We were among the early batch of our friends and family to marry: two cousins beat us to the altar, and one set of our uni friends. Now I look at our photos and think “Good heavens, we were young!” Of course like every young adult that ever walked we thought we were terribly mature <smile>.

P&P cut cakeOur plans had changed and we were to head off to Alotau in Papua New Guinea about ten days after our wedding rather than remaining in Brisbane. You might imagine that everything was in a bit of flurry. I remember one of the seminarians at  Pellegrini’s asking me how the wedding arrangements were going….I’m sure he thought either a crocodile or Doberman had got loose in the bookshop.

With so much to organise and Mr Cassmob flying in just days before the wedding I was just a tiny bit frazzled so it was great that my cousin took a Super 8 movie of some of the day’s events (but not in the church, heaven forbid!) Much of our day remains a series of snapshots.

  • Convincing the priest we could have folk hymns rather than the “old faithfuls”, and all that in the middle of Lent when no one was supposed to marry, and there was supposed to be no music –quite an achievement in retrospect.
  • The cringe-factor compulsory pre-marriage classes with the priest.
  • Rejecting the traditional hymn to Mary as my entrance hymn.
  • Making my mother-in-law-to-be cry (not easy!) as I walked down the aisle to Mozart’s 21st.
  • The priest’s injunction to the groomsman to ignore the best man if he fainted and just get the ring.
  • The priest’s instructions to us not to look sideways at each other (he meant well but, I ask you, how silly was that! Even sillier that we tried to comply!)
  • The gap in my friends, and bridesmaids, because one of my best friends was away.
  • My friend, a seminarian who was assisting at the ceremony, making a joke afterwards about how I finally matched my parents’ house’s colour scheme (a standing stir)
  • Mr Cassmob fiddling with his ring as we came out of the church.
  • The crazy speed race by the limo driver to the reception because he had another booking: No chance of any sort of romantic moment as we lurched from side to side while he slalomed around corners.
  • Hiding Dad’s 1st car from our uni friends so no one would make a mess of it as our getaway car.

    Leaving the reception. My outfit is another of Mum's creation -in a watermelon red colour.

    Leaving the reception. My outfit is another of Mum’s creations -in a watermelon red colour. It would be nice if we were both still this thin!

  • Our reception in one of the university’s function rooms, appropriately so much part of our story.
  • Mum’s floral decorations on the tables.
  • Our decluttered wedding cake after I removed lots of the icing  decor – I was having a “simple” phase. Mum had made the fruit cake to her recipe but we’d had it iced professionally.
  • My wedding dress made by my mother as well as my “going away” dress. Do they do those any more?
  • Driving through a monster storm to get to our first night’s honeymoon accommodation.
  • Being recognised while on honeymoon as our photo had been in the paper, and I guess we looked exactly what we were, honeymooners.
  • Trying our first Mexican meal at a place near Palm Beach on the Gold Coast.

 Do you remember your wedding day or did it pass in a blur? I’m not sure I’d go through a “bells and whistles” wedding any more, but then maybe that’s because I’ve already had the traditional wedding. At any rate it’s had a pretty good rate of return on everyone’s investment <smile>.

Fab Feb imageFamily Hx writing challengeThis post is part of the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 17 A place in my heart

4 x 7UP collageNow I’ll bet you were thinking this was going to be about Mr Cassmob. But you’d be wrong, because he wasn’t my first love….sorry, dear.

Under the Jacaranda Tree, UQ

Under the Jacaranda Tree, UQ

In fact my first love wasn’t even a person, but a place. It was on a holiday-activity, bus trip around Brisbane that Mum & I first visited The University of Queensland’s campus at St Lucia. For me it was love at first sight. At the time I’d have been a year or two away from heading to uni, and the gorgeous sandstone surrounds of the Great Court stole my heart. There in its centre was a carpet of green adorned with jacaranda and gum trees. The colonnaded cloisters with their deep shade were equally appealing. Little did I know at the time that the sandstone was quarried in Helidon, not too far from my Kunkel ancestors’ home at Murphys Creek which also had sandstone quarries. Around the buildings are grotesques or gargoyles which are maintained to this day.

This history[i] of the key Forgan Smith building describes it thus:

All of the Great Court buildings were to be joined together by colonnaded sandstone cloisters around the two hectare (six acre) courtyard. The mix of violet, lavender, cream and brown sandstone from Helidon created a mottled but beautiful unified core for the St. Lucia campus, which remains much as the architects envisaged….

The Great Court at UQ c1998

The Great Court at UQ c1998

 Falling in love is one thing, sustaining the relationship is another. With the freedom of leaving school and the excitement of 1960s life on campus, not to mention meeting the man in my life, academic performance wasn’t what it could have been. But I have such great memories of those undergraduate years:

  • Newman society debates and socialising
  • Folk Masses in the Forgan Smith building at lunch times (post Vatican II)
  • Listening to the radical speakers (students and academics) at other lunch times talking about civil liberties and the Vietnam War
  • Civil liberties marches and demonstrations
  • Sitting with Mr Cassmob listening to music in the Music room of the Refectory
  • Meeting Mr Cassmob for the first time
  • Hanging out with friends in the Refec between lectures and science pracs.
  • The pervasive blooming of the jacarandas signalling the start of the exam (or swatting) period
  • Sitting exams mostly off-campus (Cloudland or the Wool Pavilion)
  • Hot, hot days writing exams as invigilators prowled constantly pouring cold water, girls sat with their skirts up to the point of indecency and boys took their shirts off.

Cloudland: famous for its balls and big-band dances; infamous for exams. From Trove and SLQ bishop.slq.qld.gov.au:64211

Cloudland: famous for its balls and big-band dances; infamous for exams. From Trove and SLQ bishop.slq.qld.gov.au:64211

Little did I know at the time how pivotal the university would continue to be in my life, despite my chequered undergraduate degree. On our return from PNG I eventually finished my degree and got a casual job with UQ, thanks to the fact that the interviewer actually understood the work I’d been doing in Port Moresby. That job turned from casual to permanent during my employment in the Business Services Division. Later on again my employment would turn to contracts as I took on research administration, not all of it at the St Lucia campus. It was here that I would meet many great friends, including my other best mate Linda. Lunch times at the Staff Club, coffee at Wordsmiths, long hours of high intensity work, and even a family history conference. My time at UQ ended with our move to Darwin: I had spent 18 years studying or working there.

While the core of the university remains the same, someone revisiting for the first time since the late 1960s would get a large shock as the architecture, and campus density is so very different. Buildings have mushroomed around the campus including on the front lawn where the featured collage photo was taken. Of all the changes that is perhaps the greatest loss: the sense of presence it gave to one of the approaches to the university. If you ever wonder about the significance of bequests and donations, wonder no more, as the whole site for The University of Queensland’s St Lucia campus was paid for by Mayne family, whose subsequent bequests continue to benefit the university, its research and buildings to this day.

I should have photos galore of the university but I guess in those days I didn’t take my camera to work. There are a few on Flickr but under copyright.

Fab Feb imageFamily Hx writing challengeThis post is part of the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.


[i] Crossroads, UQ centenary 1911, Volume 5, Issue 2, pages 19-33.

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History -Week 14 -Spring

The topic posed by Amy Coffin and Geneabloggers for Week #14 is Spring.  What was spring like where and when you grew up? Describe not only the climate, but how the season influenced your activities, food choices, etc

My first thoughts on Spring are Mr Cassmob’s inevitable quote “Spring has sprung, the grass has riz I wonder where the birdies iz”…

Okay having got that out of my mind, what does Spring evoke for me? Well the answer is fairly simple, not a great deal because it’s just not a big deal in the sub-tropics or tropics where I’ve lived all my life. While it’s Spring right now in the northern hemisphere, Down Under it’s Autumn so kind of topsy turvy.

Spring in Australia falls in September-November and as these months are the end of the academic year for schools and universities, this is a busy time of the year as suddenly exams seemed all too real, whether from a student, teaching or administration perspective. (Note –our academic year matches the calendar year unlike the northern hemisphere). One feature that stands out particularly is that late Spring is when the jacaranda trees burst into flower in South-East Queensland with their magnificent purple umbrellas against the university’s sandstone buildings and a clear blue sky. When I was younger, all the year’s academic performance hinged on end-of-year exams so the jacarandas were also a timely, and scary, reminder that exams were very close. Then and now it’s also the frenetic lead-up to getting everything done for the end of the education calendar but also before Christmas and the long summer holidays hit.

Jacaranda flowers (scanned and a bit faded).

When I was a child there were only three school holiday periods a year: May, August and December-January so again Spring just didn’t get much of a look in.  However over the years we’ve moved to a semester and mid-semester holiday system. Early Spring, September, was a time our own family often went on holidays, sometimes a camping holiday as it’s a pleasant time of the year.

Spring in Darwin just doesn’t exist. These months coincide with the Build Up when the weather gets progressively more hot and humid until we all think we’ll melt and long for the monsoon rains to start! Indigenous people had more subtle variations on the seasons here with six distinct seasons – you can read more about them here. Pre-airconditioning the Build Up was known colloquially as Mango Madness time because people go somewhat crazy and in fact, there’s evidence to suggest it’s not an “urban” myth. Even in 2010/11 it’s not a great time to make important decisions as one’s patience is tried and perspectives on life are distorted. So good luck to all those who can enjoy imported or transported mangoes without the weather turning them slightly nuts! I guess I should say that mangoes were/are a food we ate in Spring but I don’t associate that from my youth although my grandparent had a huge Bowen mango tree in their back yard. They had planted it when my father was born so it has a lot of family history associations.

In the sense of Spring as a time of rejuvenation, I probably feel that in Darwin it is this transition time right now as the Dry Season comes round and we can look forward to several months with low humidity, pleasant days and nights and usually a guarantee of no rain for months. This year it’s teasing us and the Wet is just going on and on! However the dragonflies are now out in swarms, the traditional indication that the Dry is just around the corner, so let’s hope they’re right. Then it’s all blue skies, lots of concerts and events, weddings in the parks or by the water, the start of the Open Garden season and other great Top End fun. Bring it on!

Red dragonfly on a lotus flower in Bali

PS Murphy’s Law that I can’t find a photo I know I have of dragonflies in Kakadu so I’ll include a rather more exotic one I photographed in Bali a year or so ago.