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DA BEST Little Town in the West - Blackall

da best little town

This work of non-fiction travel is an interesting and informative read from start to finish. William’s parents were born in the central Queensland town of Blackall and this travelogue traces one of the many journeys this couple has undertaken since retirement in 2006.  

Driving Carolyn’s little red sports car with the number plates ‘DA BEST’ and eager to escape the craziness of the A1 GP car racing on the Gold Coast the couple headed west out to Blackall. They also visited the wonderful country towns of Mitchell, Winton, Longreach and Charters Towers to name a few.  

This journey captures the real bush country, the true-blue Aussie characters and their lifestyle that they experience along the way with plenty of humour and interesting situations. 

The reader will find that the story will hold their interest and at times will feel they are also along for the drive. 

While there are many travel books on the market this one aims to make a particular point in boosting tourism in country towns. 

The authors have endeavoured to help city dwellers have a better understanding of the reality of country life and the difficulties these people face every day. 

This is a work of considerable scope that would appeal to those interested in Australian outback travel. 

In Store Price: $22.95 
Online Price:   $21.95

ISBN: 978-1-921731-34-1    
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 126
Genre: Non Fiction

 

Author: Bill and Carolyn Hauff
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2011
Language: English

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                                                                                        INTRODUCING THE AUTHORS

 

Bill was born in Brisbane, January 1947. He is the youngest of three sons to Cecil and Doris Hauff both of whom came to Brisbane from their birthplace in Blackall in the mid-1930s. Many of the extended Hauff family stayed and still live in Blackall. 

Bill was schooled in Brisbane at Norman Park State School, Balmoral State High School, University of Queensland and Queensland Institute (now University) of Technology. He studied metallurgical engineering and business administration. Working for Queensland Railways and later Rheem, his main pastime was ballroom dancing. He and his dancing partner Edith Steinhardt became Queensland Amateur Ballroom Champions in 1974 and 1975 before retiring. 

Carolyn was also born in Brisbane, November 1951. She is the youngest of three children born to Don and Ellen Tacey. Carolyn’s education was at Wavell primary and high schools, University of Queensland and (externally at) University of New England. Carolyn taught at Aspley High, worked in the Department of Education and became head of department at Clontarf High.  

Bill and Carolyn met at Sandy Robertson’s Dancing Academy and in 1973 they married, dancing Latin American together before retiring at the end of 1975. 

In 1980 Bill and Carolyn moved to Sydney to further their careers. During that decade Bill continued management work for Rheem before moving to Taubmans. Carolyn was curriculum coordinator at Kogarah Marist and then moved to Kambala as deputy principal. Many nights continued to be spent in extending their education – Bill in safety management and Carolyn in religious studies and education.  

It was Carolyn’s promotion to become principal of Clayfield College that returned them to Brisbane in 1991. She served on numerous educational, charitable and anti-drug bodies as well gaining postgraduate qualifications at Harvard School of Business and the University of Malta (with Edward de Bono). Carolyn retired at the end of 2006 having been awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her services to education and community. 

Bill’s management career continued with Taubmans (which morphed into Courtaulds and finally Akzo Nobel). The last decade was spent working around Asia Pacific improving the quality of goods and services from Akzo’s numerous coatings businesses. Bill retired in September 2006. 

Time is now mainly spent travelling, though advising in their former areas of expertise occasionally threatens to overtake their leisure time. 

We hope you enjoy our first book and that you boost tourism to country towns that desperately need greater money flow. In return city folk will develop a clearer understanding of difficulties in the bush and stand in awe at the resilience and energy of their country cousins. 

Our futures, town and country, will be together here in the aptly named Commonwealth of Australia.  



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                                                                            ABOUT THIS BOOK

 

This book was written because Bill always thought he had a book in him. 

One of his friends remarked, “More than one book Bill. Judging by the size of your belly, you’ve got the whole Encyclopaedia Britannica in there.” 

So this book might be the first of a series… 

Of course, Carolyn’s role, as usual, was to keep Bill’s excesses in check. 

Bill’s family came from Blackall, a town in central Queensland. 

This is Bill’s fourth trip to Blackall.  

His first trip, at age nine months toward the end of 1947, was for his mother to show him off to the relatives. (Come on reader, stop thinking such things!) While at Nana’s home in Salvia Street he learned to walk. Nana’s verandah had lots of splinters and crawling was obviously too painful. Nana’s house is still there and has been nicely renovated judging from the outside appearance.  

Then he was taken to Colin and Pat’s wedding in October 1952. Colin was the only child of Dad’s brother Arthur and his wife, Mabel. Pat was one of the Kelly girls and the prettiest woman young Bill had seen. On that visit 5½-year-old Bill used to run away at bath time shouting, “I’m not going to get into that stinking bore water!” 

Third time lucky was for the centenary in 1959. The most vivid memory was losing the three pounds that his father gave him when attending the weekend horse racing. Being a good Australian child of the time, the money was not lost through a hole in his pocket but rather through the bookmakers. 

Having retired to the Gold Coast in late 2006, we felt the urge to escape from the A1GP car racing past our apartment in October 2009. Don’t get Bill started on the universe-shattering travesties of that carnival; suffice to say he is not a devotee. [Bill’s note: I’m a petrol-head, not an air-head.] 

Accordingly, we decided to go on a two-week driving holiday – back to Blackall. 

One of Bill’s enduring memories of Blackall was the cars and utes. To a car-crazed city boy they all appeared to be in less than perfect condition. Of course they were working vehicles in harsh conditions and in those days most Blackall streets were not sealed. The bulldust was everywhere – double entendre intended, as in most country towns good lies are a fine-hewn art.  

As it turned out Carolyn had a very nice 2003 Mercedes Benz SLK230 SE. She always wanted, “a little red sporty car – because red cars go faster”. So we, (that is Bill, despite Carolyn’s better judgment) decided to take it and temporarily improve the average standard of cars in Blackall. Additionally its number plate, ‘DA BEST’ would make a catchy contribution to the name of the book. 

NOTE: DA BEST is a trademark (no.1312777) owned by Bill and registered for use on books (class 16).

                                                                              GETTING STARTED

 

Previously we both had careers involving the need for very careful and sometimes complex planning, so in retirement we were going to do less of that.  

We bought a UBD, Queensland Cities and Towns Street and Travel Directory (18th Edition) and trawled the internet for a bit of background information regarding the areas and towns we thought we’d visit. We took the TomTom so we could confuse our favourite voice, ‘Lady Jane Know-It-All’, when we didn’t follow her instructions. 

Fortunately for a two-seater sports car, DA BEST has a large boot space. To use all the space we had to travel with the top up, but we were going to do that anyway to enjoy the air conditioning. When we got to our destination we’d unload the car and put the top down into the boot so we could drive and enjoy the open air experience – strong sun, hot breeze, flies, noise, dust and stones. To be honest we didn’t drive with the top down very often – except when we wanted the locals to notice there were ‘strangers’ in town. 

Because the A1GP carnival was scheduled for 22-25 October we decided to leave the previous weekend, Sunday 18th, returning home on Friday 30th. Luckily, we didn’t put too much work into the plan because not much of that actually happened:  

The Queensland government and its instrumentalities, not known for their planning abilities, managed to deliver yet another fiasco after a no-show by the A1 cars. “But at least they’re consistent,” we hear you say. 

We actually managed to leave on the Sunday morning. The previous night we drove to Brisbane for a very good performance of Verdi’s opera Rigoletto and returned home after midnight. Sunday morning we showered, had breakfast and did all the packing, leaving at exactly 8.10 a.m. We were both happy with that. The only thing we’d forgotten was the usual obligatory morning fight. 

As you will discover later we actually returned two days before schedule, Wednesday 28th. 

Our plan for the first day was to drive until we started to tire and then book into a motel for the night. There’s no need to throw away thousands of years of civilization; it’s a clean room and a comfortable bed for us. 

We drove the M1 towards Brisbane deciding not to take the Logan Motorway – it seems to suffer from interminable roadworks. It is not much fun to pay two road tolls and then sit in a traffic jam. So we continued on the M1 and took the turnoff through Mt Gravatt onto Granard Road and then onto the Ipswich Motorway (also with road works). 

At the end of two hours we were ready to start the climb at the bottom of the Toowoomba Range. Not too shabby! 

Turning left at the top of the range, we joined the Warrego Highway that runs all the way to Charleville. Toowoomba, despite its current water shortage, has always been noted for its flowers. It certainly didn’t disappoint. The jacaranda trees bloomed early this year and were absolutely magnificent in and around the city. 

We were going to stop in Dalby for morning tea, but let’s just say that café society is not firmly established there yet, so we drove on.  

On the other side of Dalby we hit our first country 110 kilometre-per-hour zone. A chance at last to pass a few more trucks – and there are plenty of them. Still, without cars and trucks Australia would grind to a halt.  

We blasted past the Cactoblastus Hall. 

By the end of the fourth hour we were in Chinchilla and ready to stop for a counter lunch at the Commercial Hotel. 

While acknowledging that Queensland country towns are vital as home and workplace for many good people, it is difficult for city folk not to think that their most important feature is often the road through them. All country towns are looking for a point of interest that might make a difference in their fight to endure. To date few appear to be successful.  

The country may not yet be dead, but many country towns are contracting under the dual challenges of prolonged drought and loss of the younger generation following job opportunities to the cities. Local council amalgamations are temporarily dislocating jobs and blunting spirit; indeed it may be permanent. The great plan to decentralize Queensland is being undone to achieve some financial efficiencies. We wonder if anyone has done a benefits and concerns analysis on these changes or whether it’s just a case of letting go of something that is of no apparent use, irrespective of the bump-on implications. Left to the current process most country towns will go out “not with a bang, but with a whimper”. 

Country Queensland needs a champion. We think that champion may be tourism, opening up the qualities of country life to those more attuned to the city rat race. One is tempted to muse in the country on the serenity of it all. 

Just outside Chinchilla there was the first sign that the country was still there – fresh road kill, a bandicoot. Bill remembers his 1959 road trip to Blackall where road kill and broken windscreens seemed to appear every quarter mile along the highway. Of course, with modern laminated windscreens you would not expect to see many bashed out on the side of the road, but where is the road kill? Either there are far fewer animals or they are getting smarter at avoiding accidents. It can’t be from improved driving skills because those have markedly deteriorated since the change away from police testing to civilian testing for drivers’ licenses. 

Most road kills occur at dawn and dusk when the animals are feeding. Sometimes at night the critters are dazzled by the vehicle headlights and they get knocked. Mostly in the heat of the day Australian animals tend to find some shade and stay put away from the roads. At dawn and dusk motorists need to be alert and slow down, particularly if there is long grass by the side of the road. Skippy can bound out of the grass very quickly and catch motorists by surprise with no time or place to stop. Skippy is not the motorists’ friend. Skippy is the patron saint of panel beaters.     

By 2.30 p.m. we’d reached Roma and decided to call it a day; the attraction of an afternoon nap. The Best Western Bungil Creek motel was not cheap but it was nice. The food in the restaurant attached was very good.

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