Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Years Later ...

Our daughter, Nathlie, just updated her blog and it was so much fun to read and look at the pictures, that I thought, "I'll just look at ours to see where we left off." I am ashamed to say it has been YEARS since I last posted. No good excuses, just typical busy-life syndrome and procrastination. So, thanks to the inspiration Nath got going in me, I decided to blog our trip to Australia from which we have just returned. Two months in the Wonder Down Under!

It was incredible and thanks to my cousin Don Taig, who made it possible. We stayed with him and wife Karen at their beach house at Indented Head in Victoria and really enjoyed our travels to and from so many places and every moment we shared with them. One of the most memorable trips was to Barham and Koondrook up on the Murray River to visit family and to hold a reunion. It turned out far more special than any of us could have imagined. So, in word and pictures here is Australia 2012.

The view from the deck of the beach house - looking towards Melbourne. If you look hard enough you might see the sun shining off one of the buildings in the city.

A couple of guys just lounging around - Don and Bob doing what you do best at the beach.

A red gum chainsaw sculpture of a figure representing a timber worker - the main industry after agriculture - in the area of Koondrook and Barham. This fellow stood just outside our sliding doors of our motel unit in Koondrook. I am excited to say that one of these sculptures will be done of my 4ggfather Thomas Fasham next year to display in the town - he was a pioneer and very early settler of Koondrook and one of the extra special events was locating the gravesite of Thomas and his wife Emma at the Koondrook cemetery, but more of that later.

Taigs and Fashams at the Reunion held the 18th of February 2012 at Koondrook. We put the whole thing in place in less than 2 weeks and we were so thrilled and happy with the turnout for such short notice.

This is what we looked at each morning from the motel unit - the beautiful Murray River. Birds by the thousands flew in and out of the gums. I spent every spare minute just sitting and enjoying it all.

To be with my family, most of whom I haven't seen for several years, some for more than 40, was a real treat. 'Specially my cousin Jenny Fasham Basham and her husband Peter Basham, along with Ray and Faye Fasham and of course my Uncle Ern and Aunty Ethel. Only one trip to OZ have I missed seeing them. It was especially poignant that Uncle Ern could make it to the reunion. He had been diagnosed with pancreatic and other cancer just the day before and was very unwell. Yet, he made the supreme effort and came! I didn't even want to hold back the tears, I was so completely overwhelmed by his calm presence and that of Aunty Ethel's. We had an amazing visit with Peter and Jen and Ray and Faye (along with all the others at the reunion)and next morning, on Sunday, Ray and Faye surprised Bob and I when they came to the motel and asked if we would like to go and visit Uncle Ern and Aunty Ethel and then go to the cemeteries in Barham and Koondrook. We had the most amazing morning and part of the afternoon with them and couldn't be more grateful for all they did for us on this and subsequent trips up to Barham to see Uncle Ern. Thanks you two.

While with Uncle Ern and Aunty Ethel we went through old photograph albums and viewed a DVD the family had put together of family memories - it was so wonderful. With their permission we scanned and photographed the albums and Don organised the pictures onto a disk for me. Ray and Faye are making a list of everyone in the pictures so I will know who I am looking at, and they presented me with my own copy of the DVD. Really heaven for a genealogist like me!! Uncle Ern also surprised us with great stories about his growing up and even some anecdotes of my childhood. His memory is incredible. He related one story of how I came running into Aunty Rosa's house when I was about 5 and said that Uncle Hal (Harold Fasham) went up to trees and fell over them. Apparently, everyone thought that was so funny that even 60 years later Uncle Ern got a chuckle out of it. Of course, I was just mixed up about timber workers who felled trees!! He also told us about the time he and his brother Charlie met Lord Baden Powell during a Scout Jamboree in the 1930's. Then presented me with photos of the meeting. In 1934 he and Charlie and their scout troop were given the task of cleaning up the Koondrook cemetery and he was excited to be assigned his great, great grandparents grave (Thomas and Emma Easter FASHAM). Thank goodness he was because that was the last time anyone knew where the grave was as the wooden marker and little wooden picket fence rotted away soon after and the location was lost. Yet, with his incredible memory (his eyesight was gone when I visited him this trip), he could give us an approximate location. What makes it more amazing is that several graves have been added to that area since 1934. We armed ourselves with the information Uncle Ern provided and went through the cemetery plans and with Don's help we were able to identify the location of the grave! We marked it with a pink rose and put it on the cemetery map and it is now officially registered. The plan is to have a marker made for it and placed there for posterity. Ray put up a temporary marker for me.

So, why is this all so important to me? Well, on the day we flew back to the United States, my dear Uncle Ern passed away - 28th March 2012. He shared some special thoughts with Bob and me when we visited him just days before and we count ourselves very blessed to have had the opportunity to not only see him and be with him, but to have him at the reunion and to have brought back some very cherished memories and create new ones. It has indeed been a special experience and blessing.

Jenny, Peter and Glenys

Ray and Glenys

Glenys, Aunty Ethel, Ray and Faye

Uncle Ern with Glenys

Another of our wonderful trips was to Clunes, Kingower and Inglewood. A new cousin, Phil Taig with his wife Jill, made us feel very welcome in their home in the delightful township of Clunes. Don and Karen took us up and we went town-hopping while Karen and Jill stayed home. Kingower is where the Taig family settled and Don has created a beautiful memorial to them at the Kingower cemetery. We had so much fun the whole day long driving, eating and visiting. The countryside is beautiful, the company was exceptional and the cemeteries very meaningful.

Bob walking down the Avenue of Remembrance at Kingower Cemetery

Pink gums at Kingower

At Clunes: L-R Phil and Jill Taig, Don and Karen Taig, Bob and Glenys Rasmussen

Look out Clunes! Bicyclist Bob is on the loose! He had a ball.

Moon through the gum trees at Kingower - Bob loves the majestic gum (eucalyptus) trees and does a mighty fine job of photographing them!

Don, Jill, Phil and Bob relaxing at Clunes with Jasper (the dog).

Don and Phil Taig at the Taig Memorial marking the grave of Andrew and Mary Paulin Taig in the Kingower Cemetery.

Now, just some miscellaneous pics of the trip, including the Taig home in Northcote, the beach house views, etc. We had wonderful times with my parents, my sisters and my brother as well. So much was done, so many were visited and we loved every minute. Thanks to one and all who made it so special. Enjoy!

Don's 1950 Lea Francis - one of his nine vintage cars he restored and garages at his home in Northcote.

The chandelier in the ballroom at the home of Don and Karen in Northcote. A couple more pics follows of the interior of the house, don't know what happened to the ones I took of the outside.

Entry to the parlour from the ballroom

Don and Karen doing a song from Les Miserables on his pianola. Note the Aurelion organ along the wall, stands 16 feet high and Don restored the whole thing. Sounds fabulous!

Glenys and Julie

Bob and Don enjoying a fish and chips meal - yum!

Bob, Karen and Don on a windy day at Buninyong.

Jackaroo Bob at Indented Head

Chef Don hard at work - no wonder Bob and I put on almost 20lbs each! Every meal was an adventure!

Moonlight over Port Phillip Bay - from the deck at the beach house

Lightening in a cloud in a storm over the bay - from Indented Head

The birthday boy - Don and his cake

And the party-goers: Don, Karen, Glenys, Bob, Sam, Ada and Phyllis

Back at Koondrook Cemetery: Faye, Glenys, Ray and Bob

Wanted to show the video of the Queen Mary 2 heading through the heads of Port Phillip Bay. She is massive = 23 stories high, 1200+ long and incredible. It was freezing cold, dark, super windy and we had waited 3 hours for her to come through. It was quite an experience to see her. Video wouldn't work on this blog, so will put a pic up instead. So dark, very hard to see - sorry.

Brendan Montague and his fiancee Kaila

Schoolkids waiting for the train at Geelong station

And what a better way to close this blog than to see the sun rising over the bay at Indented Head. Beginnings and endings and all the wonders in between - it's been a true adventure and a wonderful, amazing, fantastic and memorable time for us in the Wonder Down Under. Thanks for enjoying the journey with us. Bob and Glenys