Well, Barb, Fras and Di all set off from Melbourne on Tuesday morning for the 671 kilometer trip up to Canberra. We left at 10.00 am and stopped twice for refreshments and to refuel Barbs little green Mazda 2 a couple of times as it only has a small tank.
Our first stop was at Holbrook which is approximately 371k from Melbourne where you will find a rather large submarine sitting inland – it looks rather out of place.
The connection between Holbrook and the HMAS Otway, is that one of the early Commanders in the navy had the town of Holbrook named after him. It was probably easier to move a submarine inland than a frigate. Anyway, it does make for an entertaining break from the trip north.
Next stop was at Gundagai where we took another brief stop to refuel and also visit the Dog on the Tuckerbox. Some of you who read our 2018/19 blog will be having flash backs of us having been here before. Like much of Australia’s early folklore, the origins of the Dog on the Tuckerbox are clouded in mystery, uncertainty, and controversy – so with that little gem, we will move on.
The purpose of this trip was to distribute the ashes of Frasers dad in a few spots of significance to him and the family.
Our first port of call was to the Old Parliament House where Fraser’s dad worked for many years and up to his retirement. We had not sought any permission or done any research as to where we could spread the ashes as we felt it better to ask forgiveness than ask permission. We scattered a few of the ashes in the House of Representatives rose garden which was only about 100 meters from the office he used to work in. We were discreet and even covered the ashes with some mulch so as not to attract attention.
The next location was in bush reserve across the road from the family home. This is where the bulk of them were distributed. Later on we did do some reading about rules on scattering ashes, and in Australia the laws are very liberal. Ashes are considered inert as all micro-organisms are destroyed during the cremation process. The advice seems to be to ask permission if you are wanting to scatter them in a public place, but one rather interesting bit of advice is “Once scattered, the ashes cannot be collected.” Hmmm, that kinda goes without saying.
We caught up with a couple of old friends whilst in Canberra. One was Fraser’s scout master Graham who we shared a lovely lunch with. There was also a morning coffee with one of Fraser’s school chums Mark who we stayed with last time we were in Canberra. It was a most enjoyable hour catching up on the latest carrying on’s in the political capital of the country and the dumb arse decisions that get made.
Another excuse to eat was when we caught up with an old Rowe family friend at The National Library. We had a very old school suitcase (about 60 years) to return that had somehow ended up in Adelaide with Fraser’s brother David. The suitcase use to belong to the friend we were meeting for lunch. No one seems to know how it ever ended up in Adelaide. It was finally reunited with its rightful owner after all this time and a great surprise for them.
There were a few meanderings around areas close to the lake and we came across the flags of diplomatic missions in Canberra. Of course we had to seek out the Canadian one.
Our last visit was to the Australian National War Memorial where we wanted to put a poppy against the name of Barbara’s Uncle Laddie who died at 20 years of age in 1917 on the western front in Belgium.
The tradition of inserting a poppy next to the name of a loved one started about 20 years ago and since then it has just ballooned. You donate a gold coin for a the purchase of the poppy and in our case, are provided with a ladder to be able to reach up to the name.
Laddie’s name was third from the top. He served in the 8th Battalion 1st Australian Infantry Force.
This photo gives you a good view as to how the poppies soften the memorial and adds a level of compassion to it. They need to wax each of the name plates every five years which is the only time the poppies are ever removed. There are 102,000 names on these walls listing every Australian killed in a theatre of war.
As ANZAC Day ceremonies had only been a few days earlier, there were still a lot of the floral tributes present at the Shrine. Barb mentioned to us that every day at 4.45pm they do The Last Post Ceremony, and that she had participated a few years earlier where you can lay a wreath.
She suggested that maybe Di would like to lay a wreath for her grandfather who had fought in WWI. Di thought this would be a nice thing to do but unbeknown to her, and forgotten by Barb, was that it was a full on ceremony with pomp and pagentary. This wasn’t discovered until after she had put her name down to lay the wreath and there was no backing out.
The ceremony was recorded and is available on utube until about the 5th May. There are two areas of interest. The first at the seven minute mark where a cockatoo makes a very notable entrance. In case you don’t know what a cockatoo looks like, here a couple of the noisy buggers.
At the 9 ½ minute mark, Di makes her appearance.
As the video will disappear in a week, we have added in photos of the ceremony for our records on the blog as we also use it as our travel diary.
On Friday we took to the Hume Highway and made the trek back to Melbourne. It was a very brief and busy trip but rewarding, sobering and fun all at the same time.