It's 2018, and my immediate family has come together from all corners of Australia to embark on a road trip, a favourite family pastime and the first we've had in a long while.
We've arrived in Townsville, where at 94 years old my Grandfather still lives (on his own!) in the old Queenslander where my mother grew up. We’re here to take him on a special trip to his old hometown of Homestead and nearby Pentland.
Granddad (Harry) and his little brother Joe (Henry), the last surviving siblings from a family of eight children, grew up in what was once a bustling sawmill town in North West Queensland. Homestead was named after the Homestead Station pastoral run, established in 1905, now known as Allandale Station and still in operation today.
My maternal grandparents grew up in Homestead, attending the same one teacher school, with my grandmother being 6 years younger. They married in Charters Towers in 1947, settling in Homestead before moving to the big smoke, Townsville in 1954.
The image of the old white shuttered house below, is the house my grandparents lived in when they first married prior to moving to Townsville. The old house has seen many owners over the years but has been sadly neglected of late, and in its current state of disrepair is now only occupied by possums and the occasional stray cat.
The purpose of our trip is to commemorate the ANZAC Centenary. Grandad served in New Guinea in WWII and Uncle Joe was a National Serviceman. In recognition of their service, the Pentland Progress Association (and others) has invited them to plant an Aleppo Pine (Gallipoli Pine) in the grounds of the Pentland Soldiers Memorial Hall.
Grandad's little brother Joe (who can't seem to manage keeping a shirt on!) still has a house and family in Homestead and is the self-proclaimed, unofficial mayor of town. Up until just a few years ago at the age of 80, he was still out mustering cattle on horseback.
To describe the two brothers as entertaining would be an understatement, larger than life, both stubborn as bulls and hilarious in equal measure, with Grandad quite often preferring to sing rather than speak. I could sit on the front steps of the old Queenslander and listen to their stories for hours.
For many years Grandad’s openly referred to me as his ‘second favourite girl’ with no one actually knowing who his favourite is - it’s not Mum and she’s okay about that. So it’s sad that my plans to be in Queensland for a surprise visit for his upcoming 97th birthday have had to be put on hold due to the current COVID-19 travel restrictions - who knows, I might have finally found out who that ‘favourite’ is?
DISCLAIMER: I'm not a writer by any mean stretch, I've always much preferred telling a story with pictures but I'd like to start keeping a record of my trips away as much for my own flailing memory as to fill you all in on the stories behind the images. And if you've got this far, thanks for reading my babble, I'm sure I'll get better at this as time goes on!