Biographical Non-Fiction posted August 7, 2015 Chapters:  ...41 42 -43- 44... 

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2013 - Family History Research Trip

A chapter in the book Our Trip Book.

Part 1- To Forster then Brisbane.

by Tootsie55

We originally thought the 2010 trip would be our last long drive. However, as I wanted to check some of my Dad's ancestry up North, we took a more gradual trip, including extra journey breaks.

7th May 2013 – Tuesday – We left home at 10.30 a.m., I took the first drive on the M7, M2 then Pennant Hills Road, onto the M3.  The traffic was not too bad.  We stopped for lunch at McDonald’s just outside of Ourimbah, for half an hour.  I had done my 2-hour drive, as recommended by traffic authorities, as a safe amount before a rest. Geoff took over driving to Forster. 

A long drive and it was raining in various places, yet again.  It always seems to be our lot that, in spite of our efforts to avoid it, the rain is often our constant companion.

We came in on the Tuncurry end and had trouble trying to find the motel.  We arrived at the “Forster Palms Motel” around 3 p.m., from home to Forster is 324 km, 3 hours and 31 minutes, drive along the Pacific Highway.   They had a disabled unit, it was ok but the remote control of the air conditioner and TV didn’t work properly.

We had tea in the motel restaurant that was ok, just had Fish, Chips and salad for the main course and for dessert, Fruit Salad, I was not very impressed with the menu. We had a bad night, didn’t sleep very well, the bed was not comfortable.  Geoff was restless. 

8th May – Wednesday – Geoff got up at 5 a.m. to get on the computer, playing games.  I got up at 6 a.m.  We went and visited the Information Centre and, afterwards, had a look at Paul and Kim’s (my brother and Sister-in-law) holiday unit in North Street, “Debra Court”.  It looked nice with a great view of the water. Of course, we viewed it from the street as only stairs up to it, and someone was probably occupying it, in any case. 

After looking at the beach, we went to have a look around town, shops and the new estates.  We got some petrol at the Caltex Woolworths.  There was not a lot to see in Forster and Tuncurry.  We bought a hamburger for lunch and ate it in the car, headed back to our motel. 

In the afternoon Geoff had computer time by the poolside because of the Wi-Fi signal strength problems but he ended up in the dining room of the motel for better reception, afterwards. We had our showers mid-afternoon, just as Geoff was finishing his shower, the cold tap came off the knob and everything fell apart.  The place was quite old.  We won’t be coming back here again.

We went to have dinner at the Forster Bowling Club, an all you can eat restaurant, next door to the motel.  It was mostly Chinese food, and it was the worst Chinese food we’ve tasted and very expensive.

9th May – Thursday – We got up early, and tried to make an early exit at 8.45 a.m.  Geoff took over driving to Coffs Harbour.  The road was pretty good, finally, along the Freeway. The new Kempsey bypass was great, still, a lot of road works going on. 

We arrived at Coffs Harbour around 12, from Forster to Coffs is 255 km, 3 hours, drive.  We pulled into the shopping complex, to Terry White Pharmacy about getting a script by fax by my Doctor for antibiotics.  I had a chest infection.  Geoff phoned the Doctors surgery and they faxed the script through to Coffs pharmacy. 

While we were waiting for the script to arrive, we got some lunch at the “Morfish” Café, Geoff had a bowl of soup and I had a big bowl of Pumpkin soup with cumin and Turkish bread, it was lovely. (Pumpkin soup is a favourite of mine!)   

After lunch, we went back to the pharmacy to get my script, back to our car and checked into the motel.  The “Royal Palms Motel” is a very good place to stay but they don’t have a restaurant. 

We rang up Beth & Jack (old friends from our church) they came around to our room for a visit, around 3 p.m., was good to see them again and to catch up.  They stayed for a cuppa and left about 5 p.m.  We had light tea that night, hot milo and toast. 

10th May – Friday – We left Coffs Harbour, got some petrol at Woolworth petrol station.  I drove all the way to Tweed Heads that day, the traffic was slow, heavy rain in places, lots of road work, trucks, caravans, anything to hold everybody up.  Enroute, we stopped at Grafton McDonald’s for the morning coffee and muffins.  The lift was out of order again, Geoff had to use the stairs to get it.  We ate in the car.  Geoff got the wheelchair out and we both went over the road to the Information Centre to use the disabled restrooms there. 

Back on the road to Tweed Heads, arrived at the “City Lights Motel” around 1.30 p.m., from Coffs Harbour to Tweed Heads was 293 km, 3 hours and 20 minutes, drive.  Unloaded the car and got settled in, we had some easy lunch, sandwiches and cracker biscuits.  Rested for the remainder of the afternoon, for tea we ordered pizza delivery. 

11 May – Saturday – Got up, dressed, left at 11 a.m. to go Aunty Miriam 90th Surprise party at her daughter’s place at Park Wood Queensland.  We got on the Freeway, got off onto Smith Street, Motorway and took the wrong turn.  Geoff rang up his cousin’s place for directions, did a U-turn, while I gave Geoff directions from our mobile phone where to go.   We arrived there Aunty Miriam was already there but she got a surprise to see us turn up.  That day was freezing cold and wet.  

We went inside out of the cold and caught up with the rest of the family.  I met some of Geoff’s relatives who I had not met before. They had nibbles and savouries to start with, afterwards catered lunch, it was all very nice.  After lunch, Geoff wanted to read out Uncle Jim’s Poems, he had composed music to; to everyone, but it didn’t go very well.  They had put the DVD on the machine for the music he had recorded, so Geoff could sing to it, but they couldn’t get it to work.  Geoff tried to sing it a capella, no good.  He was disappointed. 

Before leaving home I discovered that I had a cousin who lived in the same street as Geoff’s cousin but up the road, 8 houses away.  We called in to see them around 4 p.m.  They were glad to see us.  I have not seen Margaret and her husband Michael, for 20 years, we went inside to have a cuppa and chat.  We left them at 5 p.m. and I drove back to Tweed Heads, it was getting quite dark at this time.  We slept better that night.

I need to make a point, here, regarding the apparent complexity of the "to-ing and froing" from our Tweed Heads accommodation. You see, there was no suitable accommodation near where Geoff's or my cousin lived, for us to stay. Hence the arrangements as they were, and besides that, we knew the motel was a comfortable place to stay, from our previous visit, years before.


 12th May – Sunday – We left Tweed Heads around 8.30 a.m., got some petrol on our way out.  I drove to Brisbane, a distance of 103 km from Tweed Heads to Brisbane, and 1 hour and 8 minutes drive.  We arrived there, trying to find our way around this town, getting lost.  Geoff navigated me all around town and I was getting frustrated.  We finally found the motel around lunchtime.  Checked in, unloaded our luggage to our room and got settled.  We headed downstairs (in the lift [elevator]) to the restaurant to have some lunch, and back to our room for a rest.  

Another of my cousins, from my mother's side, his wife and 2 boys came to visit us, in our room, that afternoon.  They were all looking good and this was my first time meeting my 2nd cousins, a couple of very nice boys. We all had a cuppa, chat and some photos were taken, the visitors stayed for about an hour or so. I should add they very kindly provided the scrumptious cakes and buns for "arvo" tea. We later had our evening meal at the restaurant downstairs again, an "ok" meal.   We both slept better that night.

13th May – Monday – Up and dressed, had cooked breakfast in the restaurant.  We got in the car and had a look at Isaac Street, where my Great Great Grandfather, Thomas Draper (on my father’s side) had lived, a short narrow street and little houses.  You can see some of the small houses in the photos we have included. 

We drove around town, found Ann Street, a one-way street, to find the Presbyterian Church where my Great Great Grandfather and Grandmother got married in 1874.  As we were driving along, we saw it in a blink of an eye, but couldn’t stop or park, anywhere.

We decided to keep going and head over to Toowong Cemetery but took a wrong turn and ended up on a Freeway, on which we drove for a short distance until we could get off and back on the right road.  I had been doing Family Tree research on for a while and wanted to visit the cemeteries to find some of my past relatives' plots and headstones. 

We finally got to the cemetery and found the burial area.  Geoff walked around for ages trying to find my Great Great Grandfathers grave, he had died in 1880.  He came back and had a rest, went around to the office which was not far away, and they gave him some information, but Geoff still couldn’t find it, went back to the office frustrated.  The fellow kindly went up with him and showed Geoff exactly where it was.  The grave was just grass, no headstone, in between two other headstone marked graves.  No wonder Geoff couldn’t find it.  The fellow told Geoff that, about 40 years ago, in the 1970s the Council Mayor of the day, Clem Jones had moved a lot of headstones away in the cemetery because they were unkempt, vandalised or untidy.  

I was glad we found it but very disappointed, there was no headstone, I was really expecting to see one.  I got Geoff to take some photos and told him to take photos on each side of his grave. It was just as well he did, because my Great Great Grandfather’s, brother in-law was buried next to him. Geoff was very tired after all that walking around, we left Toowong and got onto Milton Road and stopped at McDonald’s for lunch. 

We went back to our motel for the afternoon and rested.  Geoff spent his time on the computer, and afterwards, we had tea in the motel restaurant again. 

14th May – Tuesday – We had continental breakfast in the restaurant and it was a wet morning. We drove into the City again to try and find Ann Street Presbyterian Church, but still couldn’t find any parking or get anywhere near it or the Information Centre either.  So we just went back to our motel, very disappointed.  Trying to drive around Brisbane is a nightmare, all the one way and two-way streets, not knowing where to go and find parking. Add to that, the longest STOP lights in all of Australia, we reckoned.


We had cracker biscuits for lunch in our room, rested and I packed our suitcases ready to leave the next day.  The view from our room was pretty good, you see the high rise buildings and parts of the “Story Bridge,” closer into the city proper.  We had our showers in the afternoon, dressed ready to go downstairs to the restaurant for tea.
And now, Geoff's late Uncle Jim's Poem Geoff put to music.*
(We should warn meter is pretty rough and we did alter some of the wording, slightly, to fit the music that hopefully you can hear on the web site link provided in the Notes.)

Who was it when we were young,
and our dreams were dreamt
Who was it when I needed help
Who was it when my clothes were worn and needed a tack
Who was it when my deals went sour and I needed a pat
My Dear Wife Miriam.

She bore my children all healthy and well
She cooked and slaved till our tummies swelled
She cared for the garden and fed the chooks
And never complained when feeling crook
My Dear Wife Miriam.

She gave me advice I never heeded
And gave a push when it was needed
She helped me with letters
For which I am no better
She helped me with buildings and many constructions
With banking and loans when my account was 'destruction'
My Dear Wife Miriam.

Who helps me when I'm badly bent
And I call on her to collect the rents
She sweeps and cleans in every nook
And Still looks after me when I'm crook
My Dear Wife Miriam.

I call on her to help clean bricks
She helps the children when they get ticks
She helps and darns all my worn out socks
Then I ask her to come, help carry rocks
My Dear Wife Miriam.

She is the Grandmother of a famous six
She loves them all for their certain tricks
And knits and sews from dawn 'til dusk
Until her voice becomes quite husk
My Dear Wife Miriam.

Mim likes to read my flamboyant scribble
I sure hope this one doesn't make her dribble
Mim thinks I'm hard and have no feeling
But it's only to stop her from really 'keeling'
My Dear Wife Miriam.

There is many a word I would like to say
But that's not my style, not even to pray
I could never've achieved the things I've done
And life would have been lacking a lot of fun
Without My Dear Wife Miriam.

Now ageing complaints I have few, I think!
Taking tablets of white, and yellow and pink
I would never remember to take the pills
I'm sure I would end up one complete dill
Only For My Wife Miriam




Photo descriptions:Top Left:Some of Old Brisbane in my Great Great Grandfather's time. Top Right; Second left and Second Right: some of the old dwellings visible from our motel room and looking towards Brisbane Centre. Third left: My cousin, Michael, his wife Jill, and their boys. Third Right Great Great Grand Father Thomas Draper's cemetery plot.

Some Links to check out:



Music Geoff composed for his Late Uncle Jim's poem was at the top. have changed it to be accessible at the following link. Look for Number 7. It should work on most Media players. It is a Midi file. I am working on converting it to MP3 which is more accessible from any system.

Number 7

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