A little about my background: My parents both hailed from inland country New South Wales, and as a child my sister and I grew up in Bulimba, inner south-eastern suburb of Brisbane. Most of my life though I was never aware of the history and still busy boat building industry along the river banks of my own suburb. It has shocked me for years that my family never visited Stradbroke Island or had any connection to the river other than commuting by ferry. My parents enjoyed the water though, and as a small child I was regularly treated to trips to Wynnum for a swim, we had occasional holidays on the Gold and Sunshine Coast, and a favourite activity for my mum and family friends was fishing. Dad was not involved in the fishing trips as he was always away working. See my tribute to my parents in “Musings & Other Stuff”. (I will write more about their lives in future posts in that page).

I’m an older woman (65 years) recently retired from the workforce that I only rejoined just over 10 years ago. This late re-entry was prompted by the global financial crisis that struck our family as my then husband was suddenly left without work opportunities in the boat building industry. He was a shipwright and cabinet maker, and sailor.

Dave and I were best friends and drinking buddies prior to our marriage, spending most of his shore leave cruising Moreton Bay in his 7 metre Adventure 7 “Beth II”. This Roberts vessel was equipped with a metho stove, a manual toilet, a sink with a fresh water bladder and manual pump, an inboard outboard motor, a good set of sails, and two eskies for refrigeration. We would manage fairly well even by today’s standards by doing the esky shuffle using block ice, dry ice and a bucket to chill down the beers and well-packaged food with the melted ice-water, before repacking into the second esky.

My first venture outside Moreton Bay was with our housemate Ross, also a shipwright. Both Ross and Dave and most of our friends were involved in 16 foot skiff racing. We towed Ross’s 6 metre Farr trailer sailer to Airlie Beach for the 1980(?) 16 Foot Australian Championships and at the conclusion of the event, we cruised the Whitsundays for about 6 or 7 weeks. This adventure was momentous in my life as I learned the most about sailing over those weeks. Life was even more simple on the Farr with a porta-potti for a toilet and the same system of eskies for refrigeration, salt water swims with baby shampoo for showers.

image from the internet – a real photo of Bree will be uploaded at a later date

A memorable week was had in Mackay where we ran for cover during some unfavourable weather – sailing up the Pioneer River as the tide came in to show the mouth of this waterway…amazing to see the entrance revealed as the tide covered the sand. The Capitol Cafe was a regular haunt for ‘brunch’ which was our main meal each day – the servings so huge that nothing more was required.

This adventure was also etched in our memories on the road trip home. Major flooding occurred north of Rockhampton and although we must have been only a few vehicles behind the point of no return over the bridge, we were locked in by Alligator Creek at Yaamba for over a week. Eventually there must have been hundreds if not a thousand vehicles in a similar fate. The poor little pub and the servo which still stand much the same as they did then, never had such a rush of business! Food was running out and lines for the toilets long each day. Eventually, the train was brought in to take all vehicles, including Ross’s old Holden station wagon and boat and trailer across the railway bridge into Rockhampton.

Dave and I were by then a couple and over time, became parents to two gorgeous girls who are now young women in their thirties.

As much as they are alike in some ways they are also very different. The first born is quieter and more reserved while outrageous at the same time. The younger (Lindsey) is outgoing and sociable but without the skills – she has an intellectual impairment that hasn’t deterred her from going forth and winning friends and influencing people every day!

As an adolescent, I wanted to be an actor or a writer – with a hard preference for investigative journalism. From an early age I was outspoken about injustices and took up causes for the environment and for people who got the short end of the stick….this was something that stayed with me all my life.

It was particularly evident when Lindsey was enrolled in the local regular school, which at that time was endorsed by the rhetoric in government policy but also a point of contention for the teachers’ union and became a battle field for many students with disability and their families including our own. My intrinsic advocacy skills were well-honed by the mentors I found in a parent volunteer advocacy group called Queensland Parents for People with Disability (QPPD). This systems advocacy group and other like-minded allies were the driving force of the inclusion of children and adults with disability into their schools, communities, life and society as rightful citizens.

After our test case against the Department of Education in 1995/96 I became President of QPPD and over the next two years served again for another three terms at different intervals. My education and personal development within this group enhanced my skills that allowed me to return to the workforce in 2010 in disability advocacy and led to my role as Director at another systems advocacy organisation – Queensland Advocacy Incorporated before I retired at the end of last year.

With a generous inheritance left to me by my parents, Dave and I purchased a Nicholson 39′ ketch formerly known as “Whiskey Galore” which as rum drinkers did not suit at all!

She was renamed “Shell de Mer” and I have to thank Dave for the tribute to me in that name.

In 2009, a week after Lindsey’s epic 21st birthday event, Shell de Mer was fully stored and packed and we commenced our return 6 month journey to Yorkey’s Knob and beyond. You can see the video here https://youtu.be/BRSs2g2KJXQ

Over the next few years before Dave and I parted ways, we continued to spend weekends on Moreton Bay and he still does this with Lindsey and often meets up with her sister and partner who also enjoy time on the boat.

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