Rural wanderings

On the drive back from Toowoomba we succumbed to curiosity and wandered off the highway to discover a most surprising site – Woodlands of  Marburg.  Marburg is a small township of  about 500 people, located 60 km west of Brisbane

Woodlands of Marburg was built in 1890

During the last century, the property has developed a diverse and significant local history with unique characteristics from each period including a hand dug swimming pool, a Grotto (open-aired chapel) and even a small cemetery from its days as a seminary in World War II

In 1870, the land which the property occupies was chosen by Charles Smith, a sawmill operator from Walloon, to relocate his thriving business.  By 1890, the Woodlands mansion was completed and became the family home to Thomas, Mary and their 11 children.

Trackson’s Electrical and Lighting Company were commissioned by Thomas to erect a telephone line from the estate into the Marburg township. Woodlands was the first estate of its kind to install electricity in 1885 in the mill, office, stables and mansion. In fact, Woodlands was lit even before Parliament House in Brisbane!

Beautiful iron lace adorns the old homestead

In 1944, Woodlands was sold to the Order of the Divine Word, a missionary order founded in Holland, to be used as a rest home for missionaries evacuated from New Guinea during World War II.

Due to the rising maintenance costs, the Divine Word sold 250 acres of the 500 acre estate – The remaining land was retained in the hope that they would one day be able to return to build a new retreat.

even the old sheds are gorgeous!

The Ipswich Grammar School purchased Woodlands in 1986. Over the next sixteen years, it played an important role in school life, being used for personal development courses and extension activities. It also operated as a corporate retreat to support the maintenance of the estate’s buildings and grounds.


In September 2002, the Woodlands estate went under the hammer again, this time purchased by a local family, the Coopers, who opened the estate to the public and began restoring it to its original glory.

The mansion and its grounds are rich with history and tales of its owners and visitors, alike which are told through the remarkable architecture and furnishing that have been preserved and restored.

Still owned and operated by the Cooper family, Woodlands of Marburg is now a popular and unique location for romantic get aways, day visits, dining and weddings and corporate incentive and team building events.

The view from Woodlands of Marburg

The right kind of Monday

Mr FD and I drove to Toowoomba today on business, but we did treat ourselves to lunch at one of our favourite eateries.

Valetta, Toowoomba,

Valetta, Toowoomba

Valetta, Toowoomba, exterior verandah window

 Oh, yes I did remember to eat!

yummy beef burgers and a pot of Irish breakfast tea

We lived in Toowoomba for over 25 years and I do miss the lovely old buildings and the beautiful old trees.

Margaret Street ,Toowoomba


 The only way to do Monday, I say!

Cooking Class : Chorizo, mushroom and spinach penne

Chorizo, mushroom & spinach penne

Serves 4

350g dried penne pasta

1 tbs olive oil

2 chorizo sausages,

thinly sliced diagonally

200g button mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 x 400g can diced tomatoes

100g baby spinach leaves

  1. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water following packet directions or until al dente. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the chorizo and cook, turning occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until brown. Add the mushroom and garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until mushroom is tender. Add the tomato and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until the sauce boils and thickens slightly.
  3. Add the pasta to the tomato mixture and gently toss to combine. Add the spinach and gently toss until just wilted. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Spoon the pasta among serving bowls and top with shaved parmesan. Serve immediately.

Cooking class : Beef pho

Beef pho

Serves 4.

1L (4cups) salt-reduced beef stock

2 cups (500 ml) water

1 cinnamon stick

1 star anise

5 cm piece fresh ginger

1 tbs soy sauce

1 bunch baby bok choy

200g dried flat rice noodles

400 g lean beef rump steak, fat trimmed and thinly sliced

¼ cup fresh mint leaves

½ cup fresh coriander leaves

1 long fresh red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced

1 green shallot, thinly sliced


1. Add stock, cinnamon, star anise, ginger, soy and 2 cups (500 ml) water to a large saucepan.

2. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes.

3. Add baby bok choy and cook for 1 minute or until just wilted.

4. Meanwhile, place noodles in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Stand for 3-5 minutes or until softened. Drain noodles and divide among 4 serving bowls.

5. Add beef to broth for 1 or 2 minutes, then ladle beef broth mix over noodles and serve.


Chicken or pork fillets may also be used.

Artist : Paul Gauguin

Artist : Paul Gauguin

Wild Geese 

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

© Mary Oliver.

windy night tales

As I returned to bed from the bathroom, Mr FD warned me to “Watch out for the boa constrictor “, that apparently had taken up residence in our bed during my brief absence.

Mr FD added “Don’t be too concerned as he has just constricted nine llamas and a camel, so he is not too hungry at the moment.”

“Is there going to be flatulence problem?” I asked.

“That may have occurred already.”

That was why our bedroom air conditioner’s fan was on high despite it being 9C. Damn boa constrictors.

“No need to embarrass him any more than he is already,” advised Mr FD.

“Tell him to move to your side of the bed,” I instructed as I crawled back into bed, “and tell him to stay there!”

Good night indeed.