Cameraman Cutta

Cutta Murphy, the man behind the camera, soon puts his photography clients at ease. His easy-going manner and quiet professionalism hit the perfect note, and his sessions are a dream.

His biggest fan is his marriage celebrant wife, Megan. It was through Megan that I was introduced to Cutta as a prospective candidate for a photoshoot being planned for Word Fest Toowoomba’s 2022 program. The first event on the festival’s calendar was to be the multicultural recipe book A Taste of Toowoomba. Needing a photographer who could relate to those with cultural heritage from many backgrounds, Cutta’s own heritage as an Indigenous man with his humble ways was ideal.

But what about his photography? It was easy to tell that his creative shots of Megan captured during her role as celebrant for many and varied couples in many and varied settings were both inspired by his love for Megan and his understanding of the light, the emotion of the moment and the right second to press the shutter of the camera. This, coupled with his love of food and experiencing new flavours and recipes, clinched the deal for our Collaboration Team, and Cutta was on board for our project.

During both shoots at Darling Heights State School and the You Belong office in Keefe St, Cutta and his offsider, Marilyn, had to contend with the overwhelming noise and informality of many women bringing in their prepared dishes, and the sometimes awkward attempts at communicating without a shared language – but Cutta just quietly found the best spot for the light and went about his business of bringing those dishes alive.

It was a delight to work with him, and share the spoils of the dishes after each shoot. Everyone who was involved loved his gentle instructions and creative props and poses. Lots of smiles tell the story. Lots of connections were made, including a personal connection to a friend of the Murphy’s from Thargomindah. Such a small world!

From the session at You Belong, Cutta was invited to exhibit a chosen piece of his photography at their exhibition Neighbours at the University of Southern Queensland’s Creative Arts Gallery. How exciting for me to pop in to the exhibition and see his experimental digitisation of one of the shots hanging on the wall.

His legacy, proudly for us, and more importantly for Toowoomba, is the collection of beautiful food photography now captured from our community’s heart and heritage.

Cutta Murphy – a lovely man of many talents! Thank you from our hearts to yours.

Love it or Leave it – Valentine’s Day

While many thousands of protesters rally in Australia’s Capital, Canberra, this weekend to have their voices heard in a cry for Freedom against government mandates, most of the rest of the country and the world will be out exercising their freedom by buying sweets, flowers and cards to send as a symbol of romantic love on 14th February – Valentine’s Day. Others of course will not. Mainly seen as another contemporary economic opportunity in a society propelled by money, most western countries profit by the rituals and symbols which have grown from probable early Christian beliefs like Lupercalia’s whipping of women in to a major day of sentimentality.

Non-Christian faiths have denounced this capitalist push for yet another spending spree as not having any foundation in their beliefs, while secular countries which pick up any threads of ancient connections to anyone named Valentine, saint or not, freely admit the origins of this day are very tenuous and murky indeed. If you pull on the ends on any of these historical threads, they quickly unravel or they are so short the grip releases.

No, I am not the Grinch of Valentine’s Day. Businesses will take advantage of every opportunity that comes along to boost their livelihood, and that’s the nature of marketing. People will be drawn in by smart marketing and choose to spend their money however they wish. I get that.

It’s just that I cannot really understand why the tokens of cupids, red roses and soppy Hallmark cards showering billions of dollars everywhere for one day of the year win over so many while kindness, love, inclusion, peaceful and neighbourly words and actions we could be promoting on every day of the year don’t have the same spending power. Well perhaps I can – it’s about gestures which help us escape from repetitive work days, escape from guilt about domestic violence, escape from the mundane just by swiping a credit card, but then allow the routines of life to return without having to commit to actions of change.

Anyway, here’s to a happy Monday 14th, however you choose to celebrate it – I am just grateful we have the freedom here in Australia to protest about Freedom and the freedom to buy red roses any day of the year.

Stepping Up

Lena Nabi is a Toowoomba secondary school student with a passion for justice and change. With the purpose of getting conversation started around racial and cultural discrimination among youth in the community, she initiated a workshop to bring like-minded young people together. The gathering was held on Saturday 15th January in the community space at Another Life Cafe and Wares in Bellevue Street, and piqued the interest of young adults and teenagers from a variety of cultural backgrounds. As part of Lena’s vision for a vehicle for discussion and increasing understanding amongst people of different backgrounds, Lena launched what she hopes will be the first of many opportunities for this concept to grow in the future.

It is a privilege to share her thoughts on the initiative. Lena believes it was a great start. The topics which were discussed included the impact of the media, and the under-representation of cultural groups on television and what effect these standards have on young people today in Australia, and here in Toowoomba in particular. There were a variety of workshop activities and strategies used to bring out statements and discussion, and to allow opportunities for the participants to feel safe and heard. As many of those who attended come from migrant and refugee backgrounds, this youth-generated workshop was highly valued for the chance to express opinions without an agenda from adults or external influences.

Some of the comments which flowed from the workshop included:

“Social media is a common contributor to racism”.

“My culture is not represented on tv”.

” I have the courage to speak out if ever discriminated against.”

These and many other topics were explored throughout the time spent so productively together.

Participants gave very positive feedback and shared comments such as :

I came to the workshop to learn more about the matter and be able to share our knowledge with our community.

This was a great session where I got to be involved in a session starting change.

So what is the next step for Lena and her vision?

She is striving to develop as a youth social enterprise. This will require funding to support future projects and already she and her team members are looking at a Get Up funding campaign. If this becomes available Lena hopes to present opportunities like the workshop in her school, and hopes to spread the message in the community as well to build more awareness, understanding and hopefully action to address the issues raised.

What is the change this small but determined group is hoping to see?

You can follow along with Lena as she steps up in the world of social justice and knocks on the doors that can help her build. Initially, Lena saw support from the Toowoomba&Darling Downs social media platform, and Word Fest Toowoomba, and now it is hoped partnerships with other youth organisations will provide broader community visibility as well. We expect to see much more of Lena in the future as her voice rings in the change we would all like to see, and this group helps shape a more just future across the Toowoomba landscape.

Mt Cotton – thank you!

Bushland, wildlife, community carers and the top notch Sirromet winery up the road – a restorative balm in contrast with the global, national, state and regional issues plaguing life in January 2022. I didn’t realise how much I needed this peaceful locale until my early morning wakeup call from the boxer dogs I am house-sitting, the fresh shower and the short walk reclaiming control over body and mind – tomorrow will be a longer and wider exploration of this part of the Redlands in South-East Queensland to keep the momentum going.

The daily visits from native birds and wallabies is good for the soul……. and playing with photos is fun!

Kind householders in this Sanctuary Drive enclave ensure the safety of the wildlife and healthy ecosystems. How could you not engage in this community care if you live at an adress like SugarGlider Court or Brushbox Court.

Mt Cotton was once a sleepy farming community, but is sleepy no longer. However, s aome of the farms remain and other commercial enterprises have come and a Village Centre now exists to cater for the survival needs of those who have made this haven a home…..but the rural feel remains.

Walking gives you the chance to see the small, and often quirky – I hope Teddy enjoys his swing, and those who are familiar with Street Libraries will be happy to see this festive offering. I will add something to its eclectic mix when I stroll out in a different direction tomorrow – and I know it will energise me for the working week ahead.

Thank you to the Baird family for sharing this sanctuary with me.

What an extraordinary beginning – the birth of the Quinalow Pub

Establishing a community based around a butter and cheese factory, sawmill and school, the Daly brothers and their employees worked extremely hard to make this late 1880s and early 1900s venture a success. Once the risk started to pay off, their attention and capital turned to the accommodation and welfare of their workers. Hard yakka plus a cold drink at the end of the day’s work meant contented employees. So the introduction of the hotel boosted community wellbeing – and perhaps more spirits than those served behind the bar.

The original hotel was transported from its location at the junction of the Drayton-Wellcamp and Oestrich Roads at Wellcamp near Toowoomba to its Quinalow site. Its exact time frame is a little murky, but these historic photos show its original location in 1903 and its relocation to Quinalow in approximately 1918. But what a challenge that must have been!

The hotel has endured through the changes on the 20th century, when the surrounding area grew to supply the demand of the Quinalow, Peranga and Brymaroo communities. Life was simple, and self-sufficiency was the norm. Those hightop loaves bring back the smells and flavour of freshly baked bread, and the sight of the flour-covered baker. Great newspaper articles help preserve or jog the memories of the long-established local families.

The Daly family’s vision, hard work and fair treatment of its labour force saw the growth the area needed. Part of the community growth was around its social activities and the spread of the motor vehicles designed both for leisure or for tough work, saw a balance of both.

The Quinalow Hotel has moved with the times and before the sports grounds and library became core features, the pub was THE place for community. In the photos below, supplied by current publican and jovial character, Greg Daley, the trucks delivering the kegs for the pub only used the front entrance, while the truck which doubled as a school bus collected the children from the side entrance to avoid the issue of proximity of minors to the alcohol. There is always a compromise!

The outward style of the pub changed considerably over the years. The original pub burnt down in 1923 and a new one was built the same year. The current one with its distinctive enclosed verandah and its stucco facade has graced the corner junction since the late 1940s………certainly different from those of country pubs in other places.

So our walk down memory lane in Quinalow draws to an end. We leave this quiet country town which has survived its fair share of droughts and flooding rains; weathered the ups and downs of economic uncertainty and the hardships of the current 2020-2022 pandemic through its determination to thrive as a community. Converting to a take-away outlet for both alcohol and food has proven to be not only a rallying tactic, but now a regular feature which will endure long in to the future.

We reluctantly leave the charm and character of Quinalow and the pub – and the much-loved legacy that the Daley partnership has created. We know that those venturing to the Bunyas will have a warm welcome from Greg and Cheryl, or whoever takes on the pub in the future. They will be given a place at the bar amongst the regulars, a bloody good feed and a special place to stay and take in this GATEWAY TO THE BUNYAS.

Don’t forget your home-made goodies, and Quinalow Pub momentos – and we leave you with this country song as a tribute.

Afghan Sweet Treats

How blessed are we here to be able to excite our taste buds with the sweet treats which have become synonymous with Afghanistan culture…..even if we can’t travel there to see their origins. Sita Nabizada has brought these tempting sweets to Toowoomba and her small business is helping others understand her culture by introducing the community to delicious home-cooked dishes.

Sita is an Afghan qualified high school teacher, who, like other refugees, has not had her qualifications in use here because of the language barrier. Programs at TAFE and USQ helped to acquire language and work skills, and filled Sita’s learning needs between 2016 and 2018. She discovered through the Women’s Group, and getting her English skills up, that her love of baking could give her a start in business. With no childcare available after the initial support, Sita looked for an avenue where she could work from home while her children were young.

With about 40 Afghan amilies in the community, there was demand for her delicious baked goods within her own community, but with her start in the stall at the local food markets and then stretching in to the Multicultural Festivals, the Mosaic Festival in Brisbane, Gatton and Dalby, Sita’s fame has grown – and so has her menu.

She is quite surprised, but also delighted that her Aussie customers have embraced her goods so warmly. I think the secret to the popularity is the quality of the ingredients. The natural pistachios which are painstakingly peeled from the nuts are sourced from Brisbane for her sought-after nougat (Shire pira), and her savoury beef mince dumplings (Mantu) bring lots of return customers because of the reliable high quality and her trademark exotic flavours.

Sita has helped highlight the diversity of the Toowoomba community in such a dignified, beautiful manner. Her presence at Australia Day and Laurel Bank Park events is eagerly sought out. Her beautiful soul shines through her eyes as well as the treats. Her secondary school daughter, Lena, is not only her mother’s helper in making the treats but is a strong community advocate trying to get young teenagers involved in Youth Group activities to build their sense of confidence and being involved in the wider community.

An Afghan restaurant is missing from Toowoomba’s city centre food scene, but Sita is hoping she and her husband will realise their dream of opening one to share her delicious food with more and more people in the future. Til then check out Sita’s detail on her FaceBook page @AfghanTraditionalSweets.

I am looking forward to sitting down to chat with Sita over a cup of her spiced saffron hot tea.

Another Life

No, it isn’t a Sci-Fi movie review. This is a wonderful coffee shop giving great support to the ‘special ability’ people in our Toowoomba community. Tucked away in the quiet traffic area on Bellevue Street, Another Life Coffee and Wares is a super friendly space to hangout with friends or to grab a delicious take-away. It is the public space for the not-for-profit organisation Quality Lifestyle Support which operates next door.

Quality Lifestyle Support Office

You could be forgiven for thinking it was another industrial business in this off-CBD location parallel to Mort Street, as its simple, unassuming front does not indicate the treasure that lies inside. So how did we discover this gem which we had never heard of before. Do you believe in ‘happenstance”? Well our regular ladies lunch group – that’s a group of newly retired and rewired work colleagues (and sometimes an out-of-towner or still working members), and not a group of ladies with regular healthy insides 😂🌻 – is always looking to discover new places to spend time nattering over a lunchtime meal. We have drifted in to the habit of supporting new businesses or social enterprises, and have enjoyed most of our previous finds.

However, our last booking elsewhere was cancelled due to the cafe fridges being out of action, so we were looking last minute for an alternative. And Another Life popped up in the search. What a wonderful piece of luck. That’s happenstance!

What a charming interior, and what a charming team behind the food and drinks. Our crew had a wide range to choose from, and saw lots of take-away orders being delivered in a timely and super-friendly manner by a ‘couldn’t fault him’ waiter. Uber Eats is a boost here with a current top 4.8 rating for a very wide delivery area, but eating in is even better!

The barista and manager Mel has a smile as wide as a mile, and is a single Mum with a passion for her coffee reputation – she challenges you to try and rate hers anytime. Her enthusiasm is for the principles of hiring people with disabilities to upskill them to provide really good food, really good coffee and really good cold drinks. Her high-end Brisbane venue experience makes her an ideal trainer in the competitve barista world. Try her iced coffee Biscoff latte.

Mel was very willing to talk about the cafe and its purpose on my second, and eagerly anticipated, return visit, this time bringing Kim Cahill, the owner and super business supporter from ToowoombaDarlingDowns.com.au to discover this space for herself. Kim was very impressed with the menu and the space which offers all-weather respite for participants of the programs provided from next door.

It has a 40 person space for hire for functions as well. With plenty of platters and catering options on hand from this delightful team, I can see it being a great workshop space for one of our Word Fest Toowoomba events in 2022. That’s why I am bringing another friend back this week to enjoy the delights as well. There is the quiet, the consumate hospitality and the calm environment, and never a feeling of ‘hurry up’. I am keen to make that workshop booking, and it would be great for Christmas parties.

Another young Mum with a dedication for creative menu items is chef Dana, who trained as sous-chef at the old Engine Room. She loves that head chef, Pat, takes everyone’s ideas in to the mix. Her attention to detail and willingness to cater for two coeliacs (plus other medical dietary needs) on our first visit gave me the confidence to ask for a gf alternative to the soft taco shells on my return visit, and the lettuce leaf idea was a winner. Thank you for taking such good care.

The Wares component of the name comes with the handmade local products available for sale. This gives a delightful distraction while waiting for your meal, and gift giving ideas make your shopping a breeze.

Though being honest, the signage and parking is currently a bit of a challenge. However, we hear that a request to Council for footpath revitalisation and the opportunity to have outdoor seating is on the cards. That will give street view and be a better drawcard.

Actually, this is one of those places that you want to keep to yourself, so that its charm is something special, but that would hardly be fair – Another Life needs you to breathe even more energy in to this terrific enterprise.

Do yourself a favour and get to Another Life – a place with a social conscience and a taste for a quality bite of life.

MollyB

Daly v Daley

Thanks to the research conducted by Historian Leisa Carney, the history of Quinalow’s reason for being continues to come to light. Current publicans of the Quinalow Pub are community characters Greg and Cheryl Daley. How interesting that the area was given its European life story by the Daly family. Although they do not share family lines, it is a name that will ring in the history of Quinalow for many, many years to come.

So the Daly Brothers’ influence on the growth of the District revolved around cheese. Brothers James, Patrick and John (sons of John Daly and Bridget Hanrahan) established the first butter and cheese factory on the Darling Downs in 1889 at Quinalow. The families took up a selection at Brymaroo in about 1870, then expanded through the generations to have a significant impact on the development of the local district. As well as the butter and cheese factory, there was the Daly Saw Mill at Quinalow, the Quinalow Hotel and the Post Office and general store at Peranga.

The sawmill was a boon for the district once the cheese factory flourished. In the early days, breaking down of logs was still done by pit sawing. In 1903 they built the larger mill at Quinalow….then a planing machine was added later. The mill employed 12 men housed in barracks and later houses for married workers. In 1905 the Daly brothers bought a steam traction engine for carting sawn timber to rail. There were also mills established in the Bell area all close to the Bunya Mountains.

Brother Patrick became engaged to Miss Leahy, Quinalow’s first school teacher. He donated 10 acres of land for the school, and the brothers donated the timber for the school which was completed on 26th February 1901. Sadly Patrick had ‘a terrible accident at his sawmill’ and despite ‘medical skill and good nursing’ at St Denis’ Private Hospital in Toowoomba he passed away at the age of 30 in 1904. Miss Leahy never married after her loss.

The very significant legacy and community spirit of the Daly brothers still lives on. Their vision of building the hotel to give the workers a recreation space is well and truly carried on through the same vision and hard work of Greg and Cheryl and the modern day Quinalow community.

Howzat!

Could the smile on Morgan’s face have been any wider?

With all the excitement running high at seeing your cricketing hero playing at the Metricon Gold Coast cricket grounds, Morgan couldn’t predict how much more exciting her day was going to get.

At the T20 match where the Australian Women’s Team were playing, Australian Wicket Keeper, Alyssa Healy, her sporting hero, put in a strong athletic effortagainst India to end with a great result, but her wicket keeping gloves were worn out.

Morgan’s day then had sunshine beaming everywhere when Alyssa came to the boundary fence and gave those gloves to this delighted fan at the end of the match. Morgan was emotionally overcome.

Ok, so that’s where this story takes another turn. A champion athlete giving match gear to adoring fans is not so unusual these days, but this champion received more information which lead to something MOST unusual. The woman sitting next to Morgan and her family sent a message to Alyssa sharing how much Morgan had loved and appreciated the gloves.

Alyssa then replied that if they could find the family, and they could come back on the Sunday, she would sign the gloves.

Thanks to emails, finding seat number, contacting the family and extending that invite to return, the dream was about to get better.

You know when your head and heart are pounding in unison and you can’t quite take something in, well that’s what happened. Morgan’s mum was ovetwhelmed by Alyssa’s generosity and the trouble she had gone to.

So it was back to the grounds and the absolute joy of meeting her role model again. Not only did she sign the gloves, but presented Morgan with a personalised signed shirt as well.

What a fantastic gesture on Alyssa’s part. No wonder women’s cricket is gaining such a following, when humility, dignity and the goal of building young girls’s dreams are the principles we see here.

Since that excitement, Morgan has been an even stronger, more determined young wicket-keeping player, as a regional rep and we expect to see her name on an Australian shirt in the not too distant future.

Photo by Patrick Case on Pexels.com

Thank you Alyssa Healy for all you do!

Branding and Your Business – not just important, it is essential

There’s something quietly exciting about arranging to go on holidays – the discussion about the destination, the timing, the style of clothes to suit the weather, and the expectations on arrival. It’s an adventure you are investing time and considerable money in to. So too is the experience of Blogging your Business. You feel the excitement of getting the look and feel of your branding humming and the impact of words reflecting your style and personality.

Branding is much more than the logo that people associate with your business. It is the story behind the logo, the font, the colours and the images. That is where Blogging brings home the bacon! It takes branding to the next level. It is a smart business move to invest in bringing your personality to your potential clients.

So while you have your holiday downtime relaxing, let MollyB Blogging get your 2022 business off to a great fresh start by boosting your branding.

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