DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 9 2018
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26
Bruny Island Cruises take us on a sensational jet boat trip around the south eastern tip of the island. All six of their boats go out. The couple beside us are from Victoria Point in Queensland. A Chinese lady in front of us gives her baby daughter ginger tablets, and they do not go down well. Our skipper is informative and funny. On our return we have fish and chips in the Cruise company’s restaurant and the service is friendly and efficient. In the afternoon we do a rainforest walk at Mavista Reserve, where there is a chap photographing fungi. Originally from Western Australia, he has lived on the island for 11 years.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 27
Ferry back to Kettering on the mainland, and then an excellent lunch (corn beef and sauerkraut toastie) at Pigeonhole in North Hobart. Spend 90 minutes or so at Zoodoo Wildlife Park, where the new star attraction is a baby zebra. Stay tonight in the beautiful Jenny Wren Cottage in the historic Midlands’ town of Oatlands. Some of the countryside around here reminds me of Scotland. The lady with the key to the cottage was taught by my former Murwillumbah High School classmate and close friend, Eleanor Gregg (nee Riddell), whose husband at the time, Rupert had a (Leicestershire sheep) property at nearby Rockville. In the main street there is a plaque to a Sergeant Gregg, who was killed in the Second World War. There are two other Greggs on the war memorial. Eleanor and Rupert’s marriage broke up, and Eleanor married Larry Scott, another teacher. Eleanor died in December, 2016. Dinner at Midlands Pub with a Geelong couple. He is in his 60s, but still shears sheep. He and his son played 600 Aussie rules matches between them, for Dunolly, in country Victoria. (I love that song, ‘Last man from Dunolly’).
Our son, Damien texts to say former Australian rugby league forward, Steve Folkes has died aged 59. What a shock. He was always so fit. I interviewed him many times, when he was coach of Canterbury-Bankstown, and also when he played for the bulldogs, New South Wales and Australia. On the 1986 Kangaroo tour of Britain, which I covered for the Brisbane ‘Telegraph’, my English photographer mate, Andrew Varley passed me off as Steve Folkes at a country pub. I was only 34 at the time, and still had black hair, and was wearing a Kangaroos’ track suit top (given to me and other journos by sponsors, Winfield). The publican shouted me free beers, thinking I was Steve Folkes. I didn’t feel comfortable about it, but went along with Varley. In 1989, when I was in ‘Big Jim’s (big Jim Mills) night club in Widnes, a free beer arrived on the bar, from a bloke who thought I was former Australian fullback, John Dorahy. This time I was drinking with Pom mate, Paddy Hart, who urged me to go along with it, or I would be insulting the chap who shouted. Again, I couldn’t really enjoy the beer. Now I get mistaken for Richard Wilson from ‘One Foot in the Grave’.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28
Picnic lunch at historic Ross, which is a lot more ‘touristy’ than Oatlands. Prefer Oatlands. Bush walk at Lost Falls Forestry Reserve, before a refreshment stop at Devils Corner Winery. Tonight we stay at Bicheno on the East Coast, in a house which is a throw back to the 1970s.
Dinner is lamb chops, bought at a butcher shop at Campbelltown.
THURSDAY, MARCH 1
Walk to Bicheno’s blow hole. Lunch at ‘The Farm Shed/East Coast Wine Centre and it proves a big afternoon. Marie does gin tasting, while I try Little Rivers Pale Ale from Scottsdale. Chat to lots of people, including two ladies from Adelaide, one of whom lived (with her husband) at Kangaroo Point in Brisbane. Next, we chat to Ian and Pauline Wilson from Point Danger at Tweed Heads. They are friends with North Sydney rugby league stalwart, Fred Teasdale. Also chat to a German couple from Nuremburg. He is a ‘chippy’ who does work for museums. One of the other people at the communal table, mentions the war. No, seriously. Marie and I do a beach walk afterwards.
FRIDAY, MARCH 2
Walk to top of Whalers’ Hill. Drive north to Ironhouse Point and its brewery, and then explore Falmouth. Fish and chips at Skippers, St Helens.
Check into Burgess Cottage at Binalong Bay, in the Bay of Fires.
Our son, Lliam’s company, Supply Partners, is named Australia’s best wholesaler (for solar energy requirements).
Tasmanian lass, Ariarne Titmus is killing it in the swimming stakes, and is headline news down. Queensland has claimed her, given she has based herself there.
SATURDAY, MARCH 3
Our grandson, Ethan Ricketts is three, and and wears his Spiderman outfit as he rides his bike. Marie sees two dog poo bags on the beach here in the Bay of Fires. ‘The new litter’, I called it several years ago, and you see them everywhere. I mean, I want to be sympathetic to dog owners, but find it difficult. Drive to ‘The Gardens’ peninsula, where the country looks like the west coast of Ireland.
SUNDAY, MARCH 4
My first swim of the trip. Bitterly cold, but lovely. One female the only other swimmer. Walk Grant Lagoon Track after lunch. Five young blokes from Launceston’s North Rangers soccer club are also walking the area. Two are Aussies, one Argentinian, one American and one Uruguayan. Just like my old Murwillumbah Brothers side – multi-cultural!!!
Dolphins come in close to shore late in the afternoon. Dinner at Lichen. Service slow, food good. Recommend the Japanese pancakes. Sit near a big group of parents and kids. Quite well behaved.
Wally Lewis has been 20 years on TV, and, via text, I wish him well. He replies; ‘Geez, it’s gone quickly. I suppose, that’s why I’ve become so old, so fast”.
Former Gold Coast Tigers’ forward, Errol Dellit, a motor cycle policeman, has died, aged 67. He was a handful, for any defender.
Photo 1: Jenny Wren Cottage, Oatlands
Photo 2: Marie Ricketts (centre) with Ian and Pauline Wilson at Bicheno
Photo 3: Our cottage, Binalong Bay
Photo 4: Bay of Fires