Lest We Forget: William Rudolph (Robert) Kunkel (1930-1952)

Robert and Innes Kunkel on their wedding day

William Rudolph Kunkel, known to his family as Robert Kunkel, was the son of William Thomas (Bill) Kunkel and his wife, Rosetta (Hilda) Kunkel nee Brechbuhl, and great-grandson of George Mathias and Mary Kunkel, the founding couple of the Australian Kunkel family. Bill and Hilda’s other child was Marguerite Elizabeth (Jill) Kunkel. The family moved around as Bill’s job with the Queensland Government Railway (QGR) took him around the state, ultimately settling at Howard, near Maryborough. Anyone wishing to know more about this family should contact me via comment on this post.

William Rudolph Kunkel was born in Brisbane on 14 November 1930 and as a young lad of 16 went to work with Queensland Rail in early 1947 as a nipper in the Maryborough District. Although his railway appointment was confirmed in 1948 he left the railway soon after, and on 18 December 1950 signed up with the Australian Regular Army for a six year period. His service record tells us that he only had “reasonable primary” education. He was a labourer, 5 ft 9.5 ins (176.5cms) with brown hair and brown eyes. On 7 April 1951 he married his wife Innis. The couple had no children. Robert went to Korea with the 1st Battalion, departing on the Devonshire on 3 March 1952, with a few days in Kure, Japan en route (as well as visiting on a later leave).

There is a photo on a website called Memories of Korea by George Hutchinson, the caption for which says “the other lad is Pat Kunkel (Qld)”. I had previously thought this might be Robert, misnamed, but now believe it to be his cousin, Gregory Patrick Kunkel, now listed on the Korean nominal roll. I have tried to contact the author of the website in the past without success in the hope of getting any extra insights or further information about it and to confirm it was Gregory Patrick (usually known as Greg to his family).

The Australian War Memorial website lists William Rudolph Kunkel on the Australian Roll of Honour as wounded and missing in action, presumed dead, on 16 November 1952. The roll includes his official service photograph. Robert’s service record indicates that his status was missing in action until 12 February 1953 when his status was updated to “now reported missing in action, wounded and believed prisoner of war”. His wife became his next of kin after their marriage, and her younger sister remembered the day the message came to say he was missing.

Cousin Greg Kunkel also tried to find out more about what happened to Robert while he too was serving in Korea. On Robert’s file is a statement from Greg that an RC Chaplain, Captain Shine,[i] had heard a Chinese radio announcement mentioning Robert’s name but investigation by the Army indicated this had been incorrect. Nonetheless his parents continued to be convinced that a propaganda broadcast had been heard on 18 November 1952 which mentioned their son’s name and his Rockhampton address. It appears that Bill and Hilda had managed to talk to some of Robert’s colleagues on their return from Korea. Their advice was that he had been badly wounded above both knees by a burst of machine gun fire and was last seen “surrounded by Mongolians and being well and truly tortured”. It seems hard to reconcile this with the findings of the Court of Inquiry which investigated the incident and strange that servicemen would relay this level of detail to their colleague’s parents. It’s apparent  that Hilda was desperately trying to get the Army to focus on her missing son and help her to find out more about his fate.

The official War Diaries for 1 Battalion RAR are now digitised and available online and are invaluable in learning more about a battle or event. Having encountered enemy patrols on the night of 15 November 1952, two fighting patrols were sent out on the night of 16 November. The diary states that in addition there was a nightly standing patrol at the position code-named Calgary which “had a sharp clash with a strong enemy patrol” that night. Casualties from the action amounted to: Own tps (troops) 3 KIA, 1 MIA (wounded and believed PW) and 4 WIA. Enemy: 5 KIA counted.

A fighting patrol from B Company was sent out at 0130 on 17 November to Calgary and was subjected to “intense enemy arty (artillery) and mor (mortar) fire” and it was assumed that “the enemy action was designed to prevent reinforcements moving to Calgary while the enemy was making a strong bid to take that post and capture a PW (my note-Pte Kunkel)”. At first light, and under heavy mist, the bodies of the three Australian men killed in the “sharp clash” were recovered but “no sign was found of Pte Kunkel, the missing member”.[ii] Another patrol was similarly unsuccessful.

Amidst the serious military reports over the next few days, a glimpse of the person behind the reports is seen. Deep penetration bombing of a light machine gun placement missed its target but landed in a Chinese cooking fire from which the Australian troops took pleasure, thinking of the “fried rice added to the enemy’s morning menu”: a flash of Aussie humour.

MIA and POW must be among the hardest of war casualties for families to come to terms with – there would always be the glimmer of hope that the loved one might return, or more learned about his fate. Robert’s Army file includes many letters from his mother to the authorities and his parents plainly left no stone unturned trying to find out more about their son, including travelling to Melbourne to meet Army officials, and appealing to the Red Cross, United Nations Forces, and their parliamentary representatives. Similarly Robert’s wife wrote many letters trying to find out more of her husband’s fate. During Robert’s parents’ visit to Melbourne in September 1953 they were in a “very distressed state of mind believing their son to be alive and a prisoner of war”.[iii] They were possibly also partly frustrated that all official correspondence was sent to Robert’s wife as next of kin. The political situation at the time was difficult and letters to POWs were not being accepted by the North Korean authorities but despite reassurance from various officials the family continued to feel that their case was not being given due consideration.

My father remembered his cousin Robert going to Korea, said to be a gunner and radio operator, and that he never came back. Dad said his Uncle Bill never recovered from the loss of his son and from not knowing what happened to him. Dad also mentioned that over the years Army officers kept coming back to interview Bill & Hilda. Now my father was usually a cynic so perhaps he overstated the case, but if this is correct, you would have to ask why they harboured questions. Did they think he had defected voluntarily? Perhaps an inadvertent comment by Robert’s mother Hilda in a 1954 letter seeking help had triggered this question. She had said that “no personal belongings returned (WHY), his best friends were Chinese right from 16 months of age” and there is a question mark against this comment by the official reading it, perhaps because it seems such a non sequitur.

The Army lists his effects including a framed photograph, crucifix, wallet, smoker’s pipe, ring and a receipt for registered letter. Also among his effects was a tin containing film negatives and 87 photographs as well as 120 films and a Welmy camera – he was obviously something of a photographer and perhaps he’d bought the camera and the film while on a recent leave in Japan or in transit to Korea. In mid-1953 his belongings were still being held in Japan pending news of his fate and in 1954 had not been received by his wife. It’s unknown whether his family ever received his effects but his photographs would have been fascinating.

The Army file for William Rudolph (Robert) Kunkel is comprehensive, detailing the Court of Inquiry which commenced “in the field, Korea” on 12 January 1953 to “investigate the circumstances appertaining to the disappearance of 1/1641 Pte Kunkel W R on the night of 16 November 1952”. There were 10 points to investigate in relation to the event including why the wounded soldier was not brought back to the base, what efforts had been made to retrieve him subsequently, and whether there was any negligence involved. The results of this inquiry resulted in the revised description of his status as wounded, believed taken prisoner.

William Rudolph (aka Robert) Kunkel’s name is listed on the Australian War Memorial’s “in Memoriam” listing for Korea.

It’s likely that the terms of reference explain why some parties were interviewed and others weren’t. Certainly some were away from the area but I found it strange that some people weren’t interviewed by the court, although of course there was a war going on at the same time. The patrol leader, Corporal W Crotty was interviewed and one other member of the patrol, two others were away, one on a course (B R Mau[iv]) and one in hospital (S Brent), and three of the patrol were killed in this action (Reisener, Head, Castle). A Private M Pollard had been replaced on the patrol by Robert Kunkel because the latter wanted to stick with Crotty as they usually did patrols together and the changeover was approved by the Sgt Kavanagh – a fatal and fateful decision by Robert. Pte Kunkel was wounded in a grenade attack around 22:30 and was heard to call out “I’m hit, Mau, I’m hit….” and later moaning and “leave me alone you bastards, let me die”. Both Pte B R Mau and Cpl Crotty were close friends[v] of Kunkel’s and Crotty recognised his voice when he called out. A report by Sgt E J McNulty of 5 Platoon also heard a similar statement. Fearful this was a Chinese trick, they were not drawn out of cover, but a Pte Westcott, also in that patrol, recognised Kunkel’s voice as he knew him well. When searching Calgary they found the deceased members of the patrol but could not find Robert Kunkel although there were signs of track marks from bodies being dragged away. While the military-speak is considered and technical, there is certainly enough detail to distress any close family member or friend. We can only hope that Robert died quickly of his wounds before the enemy interrogation as assumed by the Court of Inquiry. After the cessation of the war, interviews with returned Australian POWs shed no light on the fate of Pte W R Kunkel.

In February 1955, over two years after he was wounded, the Army wrote to Robert’s wife to say officially he was missing, presumed deceased, on or after 16 November 1952. His name is inscribed on the Korean War Honour Board at the Australian War Memorial. In a quirk of fate, a William Marion Kunkel of the USA Army was also MIA, presumed dead in Korea. Meanwhile determined veterans and their relations are working tirelessly to try to identify any remains recovered from Korea and to raise the profile of MIA cases with the Australian government.

Robert’s memory, and that of 43 others Missing in Action in Korea, deserves to live on and it is for this reason that I’ve written this commorative post. Lest we forget.

[ii]  War Diary, 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, 16 and 17 November 1952 on http://www.awm.gov.au

[iii] Service Record Pte W R Kunkel.

[iv] Brian Ransfield Mau was from Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand.

[v] Per Corporal Crotty during the Court of Inquiry.


52 weeks of Personal Genealogy and History: Week 16: Restaurants

Out of place in the post, but doesn't it look lovely. Amanda Herbert's dishes taste as good as they look.

Pick the newly-married couple: how young they look! Dinner at the Tower Mill.

Himself enjoying his Mediterranean seafood platter in Aix while my tagine awaits!

This week’s topic in the series devised by Amy Coffin and Geneabloggers is: Restaurants. What was your favorite local restaurant as a child? Where was it located, and what was your favorite meal? Did you know the staff personally? What is your favorite restaurant now?

Firstly my apologies for the weird placement of photos -Wordpress and I are not friends tonight – I’ve been doing all the usual things and the photos just don’t want to go where I’ve put them. My patience has expired after multiple tries so here it is, albeit not with logical photo placement.

This week’s topic is an interesting question from a generational perspective. Perhaps I’m wrong but I’d have said that very few families in Brisbane ate in restaurants when I was a child. Not only was it culturally unusual, it was almost certainly economically unsustainable for most families. Nor were there the lower-income restaurant chains that have been imported from the US and which kept my kids in earning capacity during their uni years!

It was only as a teenager that I ever ate out at a restaurant and I imagine it was part of my adult socialisation. My mother and I would very occasionally go to a Chinese restaurant in Wickham St, Fortitude Valley (the Valley) in Brisbane. I’m pretty sure that we ate very pedestrian fare such as sweet and sour pork or chicken chow mein: it must be remembered that Brisbane, and Australia in general, was very much a “meat and three veg” society at the time.  For the life of me I can’t recall the name of the restaurant though I know it was on the first floor of a building, up some stairs, near the corner of Wickham and Brunswick Streets. I have a vague idea that the pub nearby, and possibly this restaurant, was burnt down in the mid-late 1990s. I certainly know that in the late 1980s we ate there again with my daughter’s boyfriend’s Cantonese-Australian parents, and it was assuredly not mundane sweet and sour pork!

I also distinctly remember being invited to my Italian best friend’s sister’s Confirmation party, also in the Valley, at an Italian restaurant (the Valley had lively Chinese and Italian influences). Most of the party spoke Italian only and I was exposed to food I’d never experienced before like olives!  It was a great insight into new food and socio-cultural celebrations.

Another dining “event” was a dinner at Brisbane’s revolving restaurant, The Tower Mill[i], named for its proximity to one of Brisbane’s surviving convict-era icons, a windmill which was used to grind grain. The Tower Mill was also a revolving restaurant so was seen as quite “the thing” for a special night out. My very good school friend and I were taken there by her godparents to celebrate graduating from high school. A few years later we celebrated my recently-married husband’s 21st birthday there with his family. A flash dinner out at a restaurant was a rare enough event that photographers came to each table to record the event with a Polaroid camera. Perhaps it was also that not everyone had a camera as well – hard to imagine in these days of digital cameras and mobile phones with cameras. This reminded me of a later trend in some restaurants where people came around selling roses.

Another dining “event” (there really wasn’t any other sort) was a hot date with my fiance to a theatre restaurant -perhaps our one and only such outing (oh yes, apart from a fondue and yodelling restaurant in Switzerland!) and as I have virtually no memory of it, we can’t have been impressed.

While not restaurant-based, another food memory is when I worked for a Greek-born couple who owned a fruit and veg shop. The exotic array of food I’d never encountered simply boggled my brain – capsicum, broccoli, mushrooms –it’s hard to put my culinary memory back in that place. Not to mention the octopus sandwiches!

The fact that so few restaurant memories come to mind from my childhood tells you that it was a rare and uncommon event. Even in Papua New Guinea, restaurant meals were few and far between though in Moresby we ate fantastic (and cheap!) lobster mornay at the Aviat Club and had a memorable lunch outing for my birthday one year when my husband presented me with a fantastic, imported, floral array.

Expo 88 was, to my mind, a benchmark in Brisbane’s cultural coming-of-age. While the various cuisines had been there for some time, even decades, their influence and the whole al fresco dining and restaurant-eating-out really came to the fore after Expo.

Like many Australians our food has become increasingly influenced by Asia and this is especially the case in the Darwin where the markets are stocked with Asian ingredients.  A culinary delight is attending one of one of Amanda Herbert’s  cooking classes at Hanuman Restaurant. Even though we cook a lot of Asian/Indian meals, this remains a real treat, not to mention a bargain!

What restaurants do I enjoy now? Well ethic probably is the easiest description though Australian fusion ranks highly. What do I expect from a restaurant? Good service (hard to find in Darwin with transient back-packer staff) and food that is unusual and excellent in its production, using quality ingredients. We are really disappointed when we’re served something we could have cooked at home! We have fond memories of a restaurant on the banks of the lake in Zurich many, many years ago when the maitre d’ was incredibly professional in his approach to two young people who plainly had no idea, not much money and were out of their depth. At no point did we feel he’d patronised us or that he thought our custom beneath him which taught us a lot about truly high-quality restaurants.

On a recent trip to the UK and France we had some very nice meals but the one that stands out for me is the meal in Aix-en-Provence when my husband ate seafood and I had a Chicken Tagine, all served by a waiter who’d worked in Darwin! The meal was delicious albeit simple.

So where do we eat in Darwin?  I’m pretty unforgiving when my meal is completely forgotten or service is appalling – so the beautifully-located Pee Wee’s on the Point has been off my list for many a year which is a shame.Hanuman remains a perennial favourite for special meals and their food is spectacular. There are other places that are okay for day-to-day events but Hanuman is “up there”. We’ve had some very nice meals at Il Lido, from brunch through to dinner. Its waterfront location with views of pelicans, in season, is hard to beat when the service and cooking is “on fire”.  There used to be a good restaurant called “10 Litchfield” with a Kiwi waiter whose service standard and client knowledge was international but it has, sadly, long gone.

[i] Now the Metro Tower Mill motel.

Woohoo -the Dry Season has arrived!

Doesn't Fannie Bay look beautiful?

This may not seem like exciting news to non-Territorians but after six months of heavy rainfall, the Dry Season looks like it’s arrived. It’s a balmy 25C with a lovely breeze and only 51% humidity. This is sooo much nicer than having a waterfall pouring down your face 24/7 from the heat and humidity. The sky is blue and the boats are moving back to Fannie Bay near the Yacht Club. Not only that but the formerly-flooded-in roads are starting to reopen. I’m very excited! Cool weather is so much more motivating.

Why order an LDS film of parish registers? Part 2: Edward Bethel Codrington

The death of Edward Bethel Codrington, aged nearly 8 years old

Against an entry in the Kilchrenan parish baptismal registers dated 25 August 1853, is the following:

William John Codrington 1855 from Wikipedia.

Edward Bethel Codrington son of William John Codrington of 110 Eaton Square London, Colonel Coldstream Guards and Mary his wife, born September 29th 1845, accidentally drowned in Lochawe at Sonachan (across the Loch) on Thursday August 18, 1853 and buried in the parish church of Kilchrenan August 22nd 1853, the burial service being performed by Revd F Sullivan, vicar of Kempton, Hertfordshire.

This entry naturally engaged my curiosity so I did some quick searching on Family Search, Ancestry, Findmypast, FreeBMD and Google. This is what I found along the way.


Wikipedia gives a synopsis of Edward’s father’s career in the Army and also as a Member of Parliament. It also refers to his career and also his position as Colonel in the Coldstream Guards and includes a photo of him in 1855, shortly after his son’s death. The wiki refers to his family, with data which has some inaccuracies, and states his “other two children died young” whereas in fact, only Edward appears to have died as a child while the other child assumed to die young was Jane who lived to marry. His wife was Mary Ames.

And what do we learn from the IGI in regard to young Edward?





29 SEP 1845   Kilchrenan And Dalavich, Argyll, Scotland
18 AUG 1853    




  Mother:  MARY


 The above birth entry has the date correct but not the location. The 1851 census clearly states that Edward was born in Northamptonshire. This is confirmed by the birth registration found on FreeBMD in the December quarter of 1845 in the district of Wellingborough on the border of Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire.[i] At the time of the 1851 census Edward and his siblings, Jane and Mary, were living with a range of 9 servants at East Ashling, ?, in Sussex. Findmypast places this in Westbourne Sussex and indexes Edward with no surname while Ancestry lists it as in Funtington parish (which is part of Westbourne), Sussex. All the children are listed as sons/daughters even though no parents are present. Ancestry “solves” this problem by linking them to the widow in the previous household, Elizabeth Brinkworth and identifying Mary, aged 9, as a wife!

The children’s parents meanwhile were enumerated at their grandparents’ house in 110 Eaton Square in the parish of St George Hanover Square, possibly because former Admiral Edward Codrington, the children’s grandfather died on 28 April 1851, less than a month after the census was taken. Presumably William John and Mary Codrington had left the children with the governess and other servants. The family reappear in the census records of 1871 and 1881 but couldn’t be found in 1861, presumably because Sir William was then governor of Gibraltar.

And what of poor little Edward drowned in Scotland, possibly while the family were on holidays? Despite being the first son, and named for his august grandfather Admiral Sir Edward Codrington, his existence goes unremarked in the various official documentation of his parents’ lives including the Peerage lists. Similarly the public family trees on Ancestry make no reference to him either. Nevertheless we can assume that it was his family’s importance that led his death to be acknowledged in the Kilchrenan registers. If he had been the son of a poor cottager or crofter would it have even been entered in the books?

Ironically however his life is noted in the Scottish records of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS). Their item PA 186 refers to photograph albums, originally owned by the Revd J B Mackenzie, which include inter alia a photograph of family graves at Kilchrenan as follows:-

One erected by John Williams, Merchant in Campsie, in affectionate remembrance of Margaret Crawford Mackenzie who died at Kilchrenan manse, 10 August 1861 aged 22.
Beside it the grave of Elizabeth Mackenzie who died at Kilchrenan on 17 December 1864 aged 61.
Also the small grave of Edward Bethell Codrington, only son of Colonel Codrington, Coldstream Guards and Mary, his wife, born 29 September 1845, accidentally drowned in Loch Awe at Sonachan House, 15 August 1853.

Once again we encounter an anomaly with the tombstone stating a different date from that in the parish register. The minister notes the death on a Thursday which is correctly identified as 18 August so either the day was mistaken or there is an error on the tombstone.

How frustrating to have walked through the Kilchrenan kirk yard only six months ago, knowing nothing of this story.

Kilchrenan kirk


[i] Births Dec 1845

Codrington Edward Bethell Wellingboro’ 15 378


Why order an LDS film of parish registers?

Over the years I’ve encountered many instances of people being happy to settle for what they find out about their family via the IGI. Ignoring the variability of patron submissions which are now excluded from the new Family Search, there are still plenty of reasons why you should order in a microfilm for the princely sum of $7.50.

Kilchrenan Kirk in 2010. Where do the stairs go -its a mystery.

I’ve recently been reviewing the Kilchrenan parish registers on LDS microfilm 1041069. These registers include baptisms (1751-1824) and marriages (1755-1858). To my disappointment there are no burial records of any sort, not uncommon in Scotland. It must be said that I have only a peripheral interest in this parish – my main focus is the parish of Inishail (later Glenorchy & Inishail) which is adjacent to Kilchrenan and also across Loch Awe from it. I’m really just trying to untangle the various McCorquodale families in the area.

So what interesting snippets can be found?

Example: the baptism of Mary MacCorquodale in 1824 appears to show that she is the lawful (legitimate) child of Lachlan MacCorquodale and Mary Rowan as shown in the IGI entry below (apologies for the severely spaced formatting).

22 OCT 1823
30 JUL 1824 Kilchrenan And Dalavich, Argyll, Scotland



In contrast the microfilm tells us that Mary was the “illegitimate daughter of Lachlan MacCorquodale and Mary Rowan servants at Lowr Achachenny born 22 October 1823” and baptised by W F (Revd William Fraser) and “ afterwards legitimated by the marriage of her parents on 28 December 1826”.

So the film tells us additional details: she is illegitimate, her parents subsequently married, at the time of her baptism they were both servants at Lower Achachenny. (There should be further information on this child and the parents’ relationship in the Kirk Sessions which are not available on film or online).

Subsequently Lachlan MacCorquodale had three children baptised in a batch on 29 December 1850: Isabella (born 1836), Margaret (born 1846) and John (born 1848). The latter two children were born to Lachlan and his second wife, Janet Livingston.

Another example relates to the baptism of a child conceived in adultery, which I won’t detail here.  Fortunately I found none indexed with the Minister’s “I” for incestuous.

Other more mundane instances detail the occupation of the father and where the family lived, sometimes varying from baptism to baptism.

Kilchrenan kirk yard -the graves of John McDonald and his wife Elizabeth (Betsey) McCorquodale and their son Charles Blois McDonald and the churchyard chook.

There are two baptisms of children (Charles Blois and Euphemia) to John McDonald and his wife, Betsey McCorquodale who was sister to my ancestor James McCorquodale (later McCorkindale). From this I learned that John was then innkeeper at Kilchrenan although he was later a fisher (1841) and gamekeeper (1851+). One other child was baptised in Muckairn parish and another in Glenorchy & Inishail, proving that our ancestors didn’t just stay in one place: they also responded to economic circumstances and opportunities.

There are also instances of baptisms of children whose parents lived in the parish of Inishail. Quite probably this was because it was easier to cross the Loch by the ferry than take the longer route to the Inishail church, especially in some weathers.

There was also a rather more complex entry which I’ll post separately. I hope I’ve convinced you of the merits of actually looking at the microfilm whenever possible, even in adjacent parishes just in case your relations turn up there.

In part 2 of this post I’ll illustrate more details of a specific, and unexpected, event recorded in the Kilchrenan parish baptismal registers.

Kilchrenan Inn

52 weeks of Personal Genealogy and History – Week 15: Sports

Amy Coffin and Geneablogger’s topic for Week 15 in the 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History is Sports. Did you have a favorite sports team as a child? If so, which one and why. Did your parents follow the same teams? Do you still support the same teams.

Having been procrastinating on the topic of Sport for the past week, last night I commenced reading Tim Winton’s book “Breath” and found a sentence which took my breath away for its aptness in relation to this topic. “I avoided teams of any kind and the prospect of organized sport was a misery”.[i]

Like Tim Winton’s character Pikelet, my family didn’t follow sport or any particular team, except that if asked we probably would have said that we followed Queensland or Australia as the case required, but not in the devoted “above and beyond” sense of team loyalty.

Throw into the mix my ineptitude with sport and you can see why this wasn’t a topic I rushed to post about.  For me school sports days were anathema (as were later Melbourne Cup Day work-based sports days –a double jeopardy exercise!). I may have been peripherally involved in ball games and netball in primary school but my overarching response was “boring”, (see ineptitude again).  My photo collection seems to share my general lack of enthusiasm with none relating to sport, and those relevant to the topic being copyrighted.


My mother arranged tennis lessons for me in the latter years of primary school with the Fancutts and given Daphne Fancutt’s own expertise it’s hardly her fault I wasn’t a good player. In early high school my friend and neighbour, with whom I also went to Guides, joined me in playing tennis at the Fancutt’s courts at Lutwyche, again not something I relished. In early adulthood I took up squash which I enjoyed a lot more even though I was only marginally better at it.


For whatever reason, however, when I got to high school I became addicted to cricket though I have no recollection of it being of any interest to the rest of my family. One of my high school friends and I would go to the Gabba for any cricket match that appealed to us. These were the days of the big players in cricket before it became commercialised. We loved seeing the talent and skill of the West Indian bowlers and batsmen (like Gary Sobers and Wes Hall) and the fantastic Aussie cricketers – I was a particular fan of Doug Walters. The famous travel writer, Bill Bryson, puts an hilarious spin on cricket (pardon the pun) in his book Down Under… “ it is an odd game., it’s the only sport that incorporates meal breaks.[ii]  And during those meal breaks, our own snack was, de rigeur, a Chiko Roll….ah they were the days when a Chiko Roll was the ultimate junk food/ fast food.  The importance of cricket in the Australian psyche is encapsulated in John Williamson’s song The Baggy Green.

Chiko rolls and cricket went together like football and pies.


Another sport which I enjoyed sporadically was ice skating. I’m not sure when the ice skating rink at Mowbray Park opened and have not had much luck finding out online other than immigration-related photos of a former British ice skater Brian Crossland who became the rink’s manager circa 1958. It may have been open less than 10 years when I started going there but it was on my bus route so was convenient to get there independently. I remember distinctly the ruts and tracks of the ice which was not especially conducive to learning to skate well. The ice, the particular smell of an ice rink and the sound of Rambling Rose by Nat King Cole playing over the speakers are distinctive and very fond memories from this time. Not long after we returned to Australia from Papua New Guinea, the Olympic rink at IceWorld at Acacia Ridge was opened and we spent many happy hours skating there as a family. I loved everything about it.


Is dancing a sport? Ballroom dancing was another activity I followed and thoroughly enjoyed through high school and university. I used to go to Wrightsons Dance Studio in the Valley (Fortitude Valley) each week and it was a highlight on my life in those days, and a relaxation from the tough grind of study. Far more fun than organised sport!


My father worked shift work, rode to/from work every day on his push bike and then walked miles, literally,  every day through the dangerous environment of a railway shunting yard. Little wonder that in his spare time he was not interested in playing any type of sport. However when it was proposed that nearby Ballymore Park would become the home of Queensland’s Rugby Union club he was up in arms (figuratively only!) against it. I think his main objection was the likely general disruption to the neighbourhood, especially for parking. Ironic because not long after it opened his new son-in-law-to-be converted him to the joys of Rugby Union. He loved watching a match often at home on TV and I have an amusing memory of the day when the pair of them were watching a major game on the TV while Mum dusted and cleaned around them. Immersed in the excitement of a close finish, Dad didn’t notice she had moved the coffee table until he placed his beer glass on the table that was no longer there!

I was also inducted into the joys of rugby union and enjoyed going to the matches at Ballymore which were also a social event in the way I imagine British horse racing to be. Somehow my other half (and I) always managed to be seated in the middle of the opposing team, while he, a normally mild-mannered man, heaped scorn on them. I also remember the kookaburras sitting on the crossbars at the creek end of the ground during a night match, and having a great time catching bugs and large moths in the beams of the lights –they must have thought it a veritable smorgasbord. Quick as a wink my husband tells me the match was Queensland vs Orange Free State…the male perspective on sport.

Do I still follow the same teams?

If you are born a Queenslander then you must, by definition, follow Queensland in all its sporting guises –whether the teams are deemed “Reds” or “Maroons” (pronounced, for the record as marone/maroan not the usual way), or even cane toads!  I think the penalty for not doing so may be more severe than those for treason! Sporting fans from New South Wales have never quite grasped this is why Queenslanders are so passionate about the State of Origin rugby league matches. At a minimum it’s a chance to stir up some disputation with anyone you know from NSW: during State of Origin there are often texts to/from anyone you know who is silly enough to support the Blues. Now that should get the non-Queenslanders going on this blog! Go the Mighty Maroons!

[i] Winton, T. Breath, Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Group (Australia), Victoria, 2008, page 11.

[ii] Bryson, B. Down Under, Double Day, London, 2000, page 111.

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.

One Lovely Blog Award

One Lovely Blog Award

Earlier this month I was nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award by Sharon at Genealogymatters2me and Aillin at Australian Genealogy Journeys. Thanks Sharon and Aillin for this nomination which I’m very pleased to accept…it’s nice to know that others enjoy reading some of my blog. I’m sorry it’s taken me a while to get to this post… a few busy family weeks.

One issue with the award is that the favourites tend to get swamped by repeated nominations, while some excellent blogs are unlikely to want to continue the chain. However as I enjoy these sites I thought others might like to look at them too, if they don’t already follow them. I’ve diversified into non-genealogy blogs for this award, just for the fun of it.

The rules for accepting the award are:
* Accept the ward, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who granted the award and their blog link.
* Pass the award on to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
* Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

This post offers some sites to which I pass on this award –some new to me, others old favourites – so you can have a look at them.

The Magpie’s Fancy for great writing strategies and insights.

French Essence for its wonderful writing and even more fabulous images. I love reading about Vicki’s French life!

Chic Provence – I love the image of the pink chair and the flood of pink camellias.

Discovering Darwin for some local knowledge tips by someone who recently arrived in Darwin and wanted to learn the ropes.

Living Delilah lives in Brisbane, Australia and has an interest in the old-style skills that we used to take for granted, but with a new spin.

Butter Hearts Sugar for some oh, so tasty treats (Week 13’s topic turned up this wonderful site)

Dolls Houses Past & Present administered by my friend Rebecca who is passionate about dolls houses and family history and combines the skills from FH to assist with tracing the dolls houses.

Mind Gardener for great strategies to re-train your mind into positive and healthy thinking.

Toowoomba & Darling Downs Family History Society for genealogical news relevant to the Darling Downs in Queensland.

Wholesome Cook is another discovery arising from Week 13’s “52 weeks” blog about sweets.

On a Flesh & Bone Foundation even though it’s been awarded previously but because it addresses Irish research issues so effectively and because the writing is so good.

Family Archeologist for East European and German research.

The Armchair Genealogist remains one of my personal favourites for motivating family historians to write their stories.

No more wriggling out of writing woman for her family history stories, English interest/travel and addressing mental health issues.

Now I need to go and let everyone know they’ve been nominated.

A family word cloud

Inspired by a post by Aillin at Australian Genealogy Journeys I had to give this a go, using Wordle to produce a cloud of my families’ names and places. Haven’t figured out how to deal with double-word places eg Charters Towers but it was fun.

Wordle: A FH cloud2

And another of just my family names:

Wordle: A fh cloud3

And some places from my husband’s families’ places of interest:
Wordle: FH for u