ANZAC Day & the Kokoda Track

Today is ANZAC Day. For those of you not aware what this is it a significant national occasion in both Australia and New Zealand and is always on the 25th April. ANZAC stands for Australian New Zealand Army Corps and during the war soldiers from Australia and New Zealand were always referred to as the ANZACs. The 25th April marks when the ANZACs landed on Gallipoli for the first major action in the First World War.

It’s a very symbolic day and is just as important if not more than Remembrance Day in both Australia and New Zealand. There is always a public holiday, dawn service (when the ANZACs landed at Gallipoli),  commemorative services, marches through all towns and cities and a day to remember what the ANZACS endured so that we could have the life we have today.

In the small country town where I am from they do something to not only commemorate what the soldiers of the past 100 years did for us but also to show a younger generation just what the soldiers had to go through so that we can grow up in the beautiful country, we call home. The local High School and Rotary club work together to train and prepare year 10 and 11 students to walk the Kokoda Track in the jungles of Papua New Guinea.

The Kokoda Track is another significant part of Australia’s history. In the Second World War, Australian had many battles along the track with the Japanese forces and it was key to hold them out so as to protect Australia.

My dad and his friend Bruce have walked this track 7 times!!  Actually, I think Bruce has walked it around 10 times. Yes, they are crazy! They have been instrumental in driving this in our town through the Dad at the School and Bruce in Rotary. It’s such an amazing thing that they are involved in they spend months (along with other leaders) training the students on walks, getting used to carrying the heavy packs and fundraising to support the trip. Most of the students haven’t been outside of Australia and in some case outside of New South Wales so to go to PNG and walk this track is such an eye opening experience. It’s also a huge sense of accomplishment in completing the track. It’s not easy,  you don’t have a comfy bed, clean clothes, the only food you have is what you can carry and if its rains it is muddy. Really muddy!


My mum went with dad and a group of parents from town and although she is extremely fit she even found it challenging at times. In Spite of all the tough parts of the training and the actual hike, my dad does it time after time. I am immensely proud and in awe of him for this.

Mum and Dad in 2008


The trip is always around ANZAC day and this isn’t by accident. The track has memorials at both the start and end which allow anyone completing the chance to honour those that have fought and fallen both here and in any military campaign.  The bond the trekkers make along the way, the old rusty machines still littering along the track showing glimpses into the past all are huge reminders of the past. When both mum and dad walked the track they experience a dawn service right there in the jungle. It would have been such an emotional experience. My Dad, Bruce and the rest of the trekkers have just returned from their most recent trip and were back in town (washed thankfully) and front row and centre at the local commemorative service heads a little higher, minds wiser and a deeper understanding and respect for the men and women involved in these campaigns.

The 2017 Kokoda Trekkers – Yes my dad is wearing a leaf crown!

I think it is so important as with many of the diggers passing away we need to make sure the younger generation engage, remember and respect the actions of those brave soldiers.

I would love to do this with dad one day. Just need to get training and maybe I’ll be ready by 2019.  Actually maybe more like 2025. Need to stop eating ANZAC biscuits!

Photos courtesy of Bruce Wright and Debbie Harris

Debbie has also blogged about her experiences walking the Kokoda Track and you can find them here

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Weekend Adventures- The Elizabethan Gem, Montacute House

I’m just going to put this out there- I love National Trust properties.  Yes, I am well aware this is probably going to ruin my street cred (ha as if I have street cred)  but I really do love nothing more on a weekend than going and exploring a stately home, manicured garden and some pretty quintessentially English landscapes. In Australia, we don’t have many of these historic buildings. We have a completely different history.  So maybe this is where my fascination with these properties comes from I’m just not used to them.  We read about mansions and castles in books but never got to actually see any or walk around them.

I love the history, the stories, the artwork, the secret gardens if all just makes you feel like stepping back in time (or often for me like I am a royal queen) and seeing how different life was in the past. I think the national trust has done a tremendous job restoring and maintaining these properties. To think they are still standing and still intact after 100s of years is amazing.

We’ve been to see quite a few places over the years and some of which has been blogged about previously (and many still to be blogged about) but over the Easter weekend this year we ventured to the Elizabethan Gem Montacute House.

Located just outside of Yeovil in Somerset this commanding house was built by Sir Edward Phelips in 1598. He was obviously a wealthy and powerful in those days and he was most commonly known for his role in the prosecution in the trial against Guy Fawkes. He was also on very good terms with King James who donated a portrait of himself which is still on display in the house to this very day.


The building is made from the local Ham Stone which gives the building a lovely honey tint. Walking up to the gate you get a lovely view of the house and can see why it’s been used in so many films and Tv programs. The gardens are well manicured and full of colour, especially with the brightly coloured tulips. My personal favourite was the wibbly wobbly hedge that looks like a big green cloud. My other half loved the orangery so much he is now planning to try and build one for us.

After strolling around the gardens we then headed into the house and found signs of the past in all rooms. We even saw a historic version of an ensuite. The most impressive inside the house was the Long Gallery. This is apparently the longest of its kind in the country and houses over 60 portraits. They are spectacular and yes you can feel all theirs eyes watching you. The portraits are on loan from the National Portrait Gallery and well worth seeing. Seeing all the faces, the fashion and different techniques just add more insight into the past. I liked seeing the lesser known portraits just as much as seeing ones of Queen Elizabeth the First and Henry VIII.

When we finished exploring through the house and gardens we then also went to out to explore the village that shares its name with the house. The ham stone is present throughout the village and it couldn’t have been more British if it tried. Two sweet pubs and a very creepy looking museum. It was a lovely little village.


To visit the property is £12.60 per adult from March to October. Outside of these times, you can only visit the garden and there is a discounted rate for those months.  We actually opted to sign up for a year membership to the NT on our visit. I’ve never felt so middle aged in my whole life. But you know what I don’t care I’m just going to keep looking through my book to see where we can have our next weekend adventure.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/montacute-house

A few more photos to show you this beautiful place

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Martha Mine

On our road trip round the North Island of NZ my partner did a lot for me – he drove (mainly because its less painful if he does), he saw alot of things that whilst he enjoyed them may not have been high on his to see list and he let me choose and plan the route. He is a man who loves machines and also current owns his own Plant Hire business so when I was planning I ensured we factored in some time in the historic gold mining region. There was bound to be big machines there!

Now in all my planning I hadn’t realised quite what we would find when we arrived in Waihi.

This is the Martha Mine….


It is HUGE! The mine sits at the end of the Main Street and is accessible via a footpath from Seddon Street and has a viewing area around the rim on the pit. There is also a replica Poppet Head and Historic Cornish Pumphouse that was moved from its orginal site in the grounds.  There was a large subsidence to one side which you can see has blocked off the roads along the side of the pit.  There is information board which explained that it was a gold and silver open-pit mine which is not operational (would be kinda hard and unsafe with the side so unstable) but that there is also an underground mine very close to this site that is operational.

We enjoyed our wander around but we hadn’t seen any machines and also wanted to know more. Opposite the mine  on Seddon Street is the Waihi Gold Discovery Centre with a museum and they also do tours. The Gold Discovery Centre was really interesting and covered so much of the history of not only the mine but also of Waihi. There was lots of hands on activities that would keep the kids (and man children) entertained. However I would throughly recommend buying the Tour and Discovery Center combo ticket.

The bus picked us up just outside and our guide was brilliant. Nice chap who knew everything about the mine and the gold history of Waihi. The first part of the tour takes you to the open-pit mine where you get to get closer to the mine and also finally see some big trucks. After some further information and a few pics we then headed down the road to the newer underground mine. On the way there our tour guide pointed out a man-made lake that the mining company (Oceana Gold) had built for the town and also highlighted other ways that Oceana Gold helped support the town. this wasnt just through employment and local charity funding but also scholarships for the high school.

Arriving at the underground mine we got to see entrance to the mine (and some more big trucks) and were also told how the operation works. One of the interesting things was regarding the rocks that came out of the mine as these were not allowed to be sold and needed to be put back into Waihi. The way they have done this is by building up the landscape surrounding and creating huge tailing ponds which have brought specific species of birds back to the area. It is a really creative and inspiring way of using something that affects the landscape to actual also help the landscape and ecosystems.

We then got to get closer to the working mine and saw the dumpers taking out the rocks and then everything going onto the conveyor belts to get broken down and starting showing the gold and silver. The tour guide had samples of gold and silver for the mine and we were able to take a few token pics.

On the bus back to the Discovery Centre our tour guide answered all the questions and had some booklets with further information that you could look through.

It was a great experience being able to have a look around the mines but I also found the history behind the town and the mine so fascinating and nice change to everything we had already done on our trip. What is the point of going somewhere if you don’t learn somethings new?


I’m still working my way through blogs on other places we visited in the North Island however if you wanted to read about seeing the Gloworms in Waitimo you can find this  here or  drinking wine at one of the many wineries on Waiheke here

Finer Details for the Gold Discover Centre

Website and details below if you would like more information

http://golddiscoverycentre.co.nz/

Tour times 10.30 and 12.30 daily (tour takes around 1.5 hours)

Prices $55 per adult for combo ticket