Guided Tour of Carbon Farming/Tree Planting Project, Millmerran Power Station – Monday, 4 March 2024

We had another good roll up of thirty-six (36) for this event which included five (5) new members Anthony Boulus, Mark Manchee, Derek Phillips, Guy Roberts & Owen Schulz – Welcome Anthony, Mark, Derek, Guy & Owen.

Also, we were fortunate enough to have our coach driver Nick Peters & Zilmark Project Staff Mark Norman & John Kennedy join us for lunch bringing our lunch total up to 39 – Welcome Nick, Mark & John it was great to have you join us on the day.

The attached three-page handout (below) provides a good summary of the project scope, species of trees planted, duration of the project & status, & I recommend that you read it.

Our first stop for the day was the Millmerran rest area where Mark & John joined us for smoko, &, after smoko Mark welcomed us, gave an overview of the project & conducted a Q & A session.

We then travelled to the Machinery shed where we were able to view the machinery used to plant the trees & ask questions about how the plantings were carried out.

The final leg of our guided tour was a drive through the project site, being able to see the trees planted to date, their various stages of growth, & on the way to the Mill Inn Tavern for lunch see the trial plantings over the past fifteen years or so – All in all it was a great tour.

Following lunch, we had our usual birthday cake etc., with birthdays for the following members falling in March acknowledged & celebrated in our usual manner, Viz. Damian Carroll, Warwick Dingle, Greg Harvey, Derek Phillips, Harley Storch & Andy Yates.

In closing, special thanks to those who contributed to making this another safe & enjoyable event for all attendees, including:

Peter Thompson, Mark Norman & John Kennedy – For organising this event; & Mark supported by John for his very informative & educational presentation along with a great guided tour & handouts.

Peter Taylor – For looking after our PA System; ensuring we were all on board before the coach departed at each stop; & for taking the photos.

Russell Mauch & Michael Bourke – For looking after our finances & name badges including receipting & banking of surplus cash.

Russell Mauch & Mark Rowland – For assisting the kitchen staff in delivering meals & cutting up & serving of our birthday cake.

Tegan & Staff – For our great lunch.

Peter Thompson – For his usual Gig of ensuring we all got on & off the coach safely at each stop.

Mark Manchee & Peter Weinthal – For looking after our hydration needs, along with ensuring the coach was loaded & unloaded as required.

Tony Wind & Mark Rowland – For being on duty as our trusty & reliable first-aid officers.

Jan Neal – For making our much-appreciated birthday cake.

Finally, our coach driver Nick Peters for transporting us to & from Millmerran safely.

Dick
8 March 2024

Guided Tour of Qld. Transport Museum & Visit to the Lights on the Hill Memorial, Gatton – Monday, 5 February 2024

We had another great roll up of thirty-eight (38) for this event which included one new member (Stan Carter). Total numbers for lunch were 39 which included our coach driver Di Haywood. Welcome to our group Stan.

Our first stop was the park adjacent to the “Lights on the Hill Memorial”, followed by a self-paced walk around the memorial, & then we loaded the coach & travelled the short distance back to the museum. We were met & welcomed at the museum entrance by our volunteer guide Nick, who then guided us through the transport museum.

I was surprised when we first walked into the museum, I was thinking that this is not how I remembered it from our last visit some ten years ago. Nick quickly cleared up this mystery when he stated that all of the exhibits were owned by companies or private collectors & were on loan to the museum for varying periods up to six months or so. Nick stated that these changes can be so dynamic that they can occur between his shifts as a volunteer guide, & he quickly has to upgrade his knowledge on the new exhibits.

The private collection of old army vehicles was extensive, well restored, & maintained – I would not even hazard a guess as to what the collection would cost – The private owner must be very passionate about his wonderful collection with very deep pockets. Western Transport had a good collection of vehicles, & an honour board on display. One of our member’s (David Robinson) name was on the honour board.

A photo of Dave pointing to his name on the board is included in the gallery.

A bit about Dave

Dave is ninety-two (92) years young, & one of the senior members of our group. Dave has been a member since our first trip to this museum & lights on the hill memorial on the 16th of December 2013 (six-months after our inaugural meeting on the 17th of June 2013).

Dave drove for Western Transport from 1957 though to 1962. During his long & illustrious career as a truck driver, Dave carted quarters of beef to Sydney (refrigerated van), along with general goods from Sydney, & wool from North of Julia Creek on the old Normanton Dirt Road in Scammell, Leyland, & later Mac B60 trucks.

If you are interested, ask Dave about it, & I am sure he will happily tell you all about his experiences over a beer or two, including getting bogged on some of the “Infamous Western Dirt Roads”.

Nick provided us with a very interesting & informative tour of the museum – He certainly is passionate about the museum & knows his subject – Russell thanked Nick on behalf of our group for his wonderful, guided tour.

We then moved onto the “Colonial Café – Licensed” for pre-lunch drinks & lunch.

Following lunch, we had our usual birthday cake etc., & a brief meeting to discuss a proposal put forward by one of our members to even out costs of transport for All Events i.e., that is between the longer & shorter trips. 

Birthdays

Birthdays of the following members in January & February were acknowledged & celebrated in our usual manner:

January

Robert Ball, Gary Batts, Tom Duff, Doug Gordon, John Herzig, Peter Mc Donald, Tony McKeon, Doug Meiklejohn, Patrick Morton, Lindsay Reis, David Robinson, Neville Sarquis, Noel Stenzel, Tim Sullivan, Mark Tranter, Alan Webb, Roy Hall & Peter Weinthal.

February

Allan Bagley, Roger Britton, Phil Cash, Errol Chase, Ken Dale, John Doherty, Kevin Flannagan, Sandy Fraser, Evan Fairley, Tom McMahon, Robert Moore, Bernie Moran, Mark Rowland, Ray Taylor, Greg Ticehurst, Peter Tierney, Tony Wind & Stan Carter.

Meeting Discussion

Dick provided a synopsis of the proposal & following a brief discussion the proposal was accepted.

In closing, special thanks to those who contributed to making this another safe & enjoyable event for all attendees, including:

Warwick Dingle – For organising this event; ensuring we were all accounted for before the coach departed again after each stop; ensuring our portable PA System was fully charged, set up & ready to go for our after-lunch sessions; &, along with Russell Mauch for their usual gig of assisting staff with the serving of lunch & our birthday cake.

Nick (guide) – For his very informative, interesting & at times educational guided tour.

Colonial Café Staff – For our great & plentiful lunch.

Michael Bourke & Russell Mauch – For looking after our finances & name badges including receipting & banking of surplus cash.

Russell Mauch – For assisting Warwick with the serving of lunch meals & birthday cake.

Kelsley Schelberg – For ensuring we all got on & off the coach safely at each stop.

Lindsay Reis & Eric Canning – For looking after our hydration needs, along with ensuring the coach was loaded & unloaded as required.

Bob Whittaker & Evan Fairley – For being on duty as our trusty & reliable First –Aid Officers.

Jan Neal – For making our much-appreciated birthday cake under the challenging conditions of the power being off for an extended length of time halfway through the baking period.

Peter Taylor, Evan Fairley & Bob Whittaker – For taking the collection of photos that I have sent to you attached to several emails.

Finally, our coach driver, Di Haywood (our first female coach-driver), for transporting us to & from Gatton safely.

Dick
13 February 2024

Guided tour of Rocket Technologies International (RTI) Helidon – Monday, 4 December 2023

We had a great roll up of forty-four for this last event for 2023 which included:

  • one new member (Greg Harvey),
  • and four visitors: (Roy Hall, Peter Mosedale, Paul Reynolds and Peter Weinthal).

Total number for lunch was 46 which included our fellow member and ‘old mate’ Phil Cash and our coach driver Dave Algate. Welcome Greg, Roy, Peter M, Paul, Peter W, and Phil.

On arrival at RTI Helidon we were met and welcomed by Jeromy, Carli, Martin, Scott and Alan.  We then broke up into two equal size groups with ‘Group A’ having smoko and listening to the RTI presentation while ‘Group B’ did the guided tour of the quarry and RTI Launching Pad with Scott and Martin.  We then swapped over and Jeromy provided us with a lot of history and gave an excellent overview of where the project was up to while Carli provided us with a very balanced and nutritious smoko – fruit and sandwiches.         

The tour of the quarry and RTI launch site was very interesting.  Scott  provided us with the history of the quarry & the methods used to extract the sandstone, from the early days through to the present.

We were in good hands as our bus driver (Martin) was the previous owner of the quarry and is an expert on sandstone.  Our Quarry Tour Guide (Scott) is the son of the owner (Alan) and is very enthusiastic about what they are doing.

Following are some examples of what we were shown and told during our guided tour. 

  • How they used to bench out the quarry – pyramid style.
  • Surprise, surprise –  early days quarrying was done with picks and crow bars.
  • Circular saws are used now.  The circular saws are connected to excavators to cut flat vertical walls instead of benching.
  • The sandstone is then cut up into rectangular blocks with circular saws. 
  • Quarry sales staff work with clients to make whatever they need.   The various colours and densities of sandstone make it architecturally attractive.
  • They use crushers, screens and sand washing plant in the quarry.
  • There is very little waste as the quarry utilises 98% of the product produced – for example, blocks, aggregates, road base and sand.   
  • Manufactured sand sales are increasing as less, and less river-sand is available.  They supply the major concrete producers and landscaping yards, etc.
  • Sandstone originated from around Winton and came in via river water completely clean and settled in Helidon – millions of years ago! 
  • In pouring the foundation slab for the footing pad, for vertical testing, they used 700 t /300 cubic meters of concrete and 12km of 16 mm reinforcing bar.  All done in one continuous pour to prevent cracking   –   AMAZING!!

To finish up, Alan gave us an insight into where the project (RTI) is heading, reminding us that this project was only in its infancy.  He invited us to return next year or in the future to see the progress made.  We may even be able to see a rocket launching test. 

Peter then thanked Alan and the team on behalf of our group, and we moved on to the Blue Mountain Hotel for lunch.

After lunch at the Hotel, we had our usual birthday cake, etc, and a brief meeting to discuss and agree on events for our 2024 “Calendar of Events”.

Birthdays of the following members in December were acknowledged and celebrated in our usual manner: Carl BETROS, Pat DWAN, Ron LEWIS, Dick NEAL, Rob RIMMER, Rod WEBB and Ted WORMWELL. 

MEETING DISCUSSION:

All the event suggestions put forward were read out and a show of hands was used to gauge the interest /support of members (in attendance).

FOLLOWING IS A LIST OF SUPPORTED EVENTS FOR CONSIDERATION AND POSSIBLE INCLUSION IN OUR 2024 CALENDAR OF ACTIVITIES:

  • GUIDED TOUR OF TARONG POWER STATION – Graham RIETHMULLER
  • GUIDED TOUR OF THE REAFFORESTATION PROJECT AROUND MILLMERRAN POWER STATION –  Peter THOMPSON 
  •  Planting of One million trees around the coal mine supplying Millmerran Power Station.  
  • ROCKET TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL (RTI) HELIDON – Peter TAYLOR – Guided tour to view progress made since our visit in Dec 2023.
  • GUIDED TOUR OF KINGAROY FARM – Peter TAYLOR  – The farm grows and processes corn for a popcorn factory in   Toowoomba.  
  • GUIDED TOUR OF POPCORN FACTORY, TOOWOOMBA – Peter TAYLOR – The Factory manufactures Popcorn 
  • DOWNS STEAM RAILWAY DRAYTON – Evan FAIRLEY A train ride taking in Nobby and Rudd’s Pub etc.
  • FISHERIES EXPERIMENTAL STATION, BRIBIE ISLAND –  Peter TAYLOR
  • GUIDED TOUR OF THE GRAIN EXPORT TERMINAL AT FISHERMAN’S ISLAND – Pat SULLIVAN
  • GUIDED TOUR OF THE DOLPHINS RUGBY LEAGUE FACILITIES AT REDCLIFFE – Including watching the team train and interacting with the Coach and Team – Russell MAUCH
  • VISIT TO DARLING DOWNS ZOO (Pilton, QLD)
  • GUIDED TOUR OF BOGGO ROAD GAOL, Dutton Park, Bris. (H.M.Prison 1880’s to 1980’s).  –  Dick NEAL
  • GUIDED TOUR OF XXXX BREWERY and TASTINGS, Brisbane –  Dick NEAL
  • GUIDED TOUR OF KENT SADDLERY, Stanthorpe. – Includes whip cracking display
  • GUIDED TOUR OF TEXAS RABBIT WORKS and MUSEUM – Jon SCHWARTZ
  • GUIDED TOUR OF PARLIAMENT HOUSE, BRISBANE – Kerry SHINE

All supported prospective events that don’t make the cut will be included in our supplementary list attached to the 2024 calendar.

In closing, special thanks to those who contributed to making this another safe and enjoyable event for all attendees, including:

  • Peter Taylor for organising this event; 
  • Jeromy, Alan, Carli, Scott and Martin for hosting our visit, along with a great presentation and guided tour;
  • Russell Mauch and Warwick Dingle for looking after our finances and name badges including receipting and banking of surplus cash;
  • Tim Blades for ensuring we all got on and off the coach safely at each stop;
  • Ron Lewis and Lindsay Reis for looking after our hydration needs, along with ensuring the coach was loaded and unloaded as required;
  • Evan Fairley and Peter Mosedale for being on duty as our First Aid Officers;
  • The staff at the “Blue Mountain Hotel” for our great lunch;
  • Warwick Dingle for ensuring we were all accounted for before the coach departed again after each stop;
  • Jan Neal for making our much-appreciated Birthday Cake;
  • Warwick Dingle and Team (Russell Mauch, Sandy Fraser, Tim Blades, Mark Rowland, Alan Webb and Rowdy Reid) for cutting up and serving the cake and general assistance;  Denis McCarthy for assistance in a secretarial capacity, etc, during the meeting;  and finally our Coach Driver, Dave Algate, for transporting us to and from Helidon safely.

Dick
15 December 2023

Guided Tour of Cressbrook Dam – Monday, 6 November 2023

We had an excellent rollup of thirty-seven (37) for this event.

We travelled to Perseverance Dam & then Peter Taylor started providing us with the background of Perseverance, how it flowed into Cressbrook Dam, what wildlife was around, along with pointing out various features such as how close the last bushfire got to both Cressbrook & Perseverance.

On arrival at Cressbrook we had smoko in the camp kitchen – it is very well set up, and even has 240V power & hot water. 

After smoko, Peter provided us with the history of Cressbrook & how hard it was to eventually get Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) to open the dam up for recreational fishing – I suppose when you think about it, when three levels of government are involved in the dam anything you want to do will take time to get approved/done e.g., fish habitat restoration (Fish attractor devices). I found Peter’s talk very interesting as I am not a fisherman, particularly, the logic behind where the different types of fish attractors were located in the dam i.e., you don’t just put them anywhere & hope for the best. As a part of the location process, they had to consider the species of fish in the dam, the depth they lived at, the attractor they did best around, along with the location that best suited giving due consideration to water flows, shade & wind etc. To satisfy all the requirements they installed a variety of attractors including timber, synthetic, mixed & reef with some weighted down & others suspended. It is obvious that this was a very complex & time-consuming operation with full credit to the local fish stocking group of volunteers, TRC & all levels of government that facilitated/assisted in getting Cressbrook dam to where it is today. Cressbrook Dam has a great camp kitchen & a well laid out camping/caravan area – In my opinion it would be a great place to stop for a few days to relax as you can look at the views, watch the wildlife, go for walks along the well laid out walking tracks, or, put your tinny in the dam & drop a line in around one of these fish attractors (refer plan attached) & see if you can catch a fish or two.

Following Peter, Rebecca Von Hoff (Deputy Mayor of TRC) supported by engineers Jake & Matt provided us with an excellent overview of the complexities of providing & maintaining the water supply to Toowoomba Regional Council Residents. Also, Rebecca outlined where TRC planning was up to with the proposed upgrade to Cressbrook Dam along with the roll out of the water supply extension from Cressbrook to the Southern Downs (Warwick & Stanthorpe). Personally, I was very impressed with Rebecca’s presentation & her attitude to answering questions i.e., none of the beating around the bush nonsense that politicians usually carry on with; she just candidly answered the questions.

A couple of examples were –

Q. When will our water levy be lifted as we were told when it was first applied that this would occur once the debt had been cleared.

A. Never – It will remain to cover the cost of the upkeep & maintenance of the pipeline infrastructure – Also, she did not blame anybody, but just stated that the communication to rate payers at the time could have been clearer.

Q. How much will the planned upgrade to Cressbrook Dam cost, will the upgrade increase the dam capacity, & who will pay for it.

A. The total cost of the upgrade will be in the order of $300M.  The upgrade is required to bring the dam up to standard to meet current legislative requirements & will not increase its capacity – The dam was built to comply with requirements at the time, whereas the new standard covers the need to mitigate flooding downstream from the overflow of water from the dam causing damage to property & potential loss of life.

TRC own the dam infrastructure, but, as there is no increase to dam capacity you could argue that no tangible benefits accrue to TRC Rate Payers. Rebecca is hopeful that this argument will get traction when put to the State & Federal Governments for funding assistance.

After Peter thanked Rebecca, Jake & Matt for taking time out from their busy schedules to be with us today we then travelled to the Meringandan Hotel for lunch.

When all members had finished their lunch, members’ birthdays falling in November were acknowledged & celebrated in our usual manner Viz. Ray Akins, John Kleve, David Turner (The three Remberance Day Musketeers), John Baines, Nick Peters (coach Driver), John Burton, Russell Mauch, Peter McAuliffe & Ross Phipps.

Also, we acknowledged significant milestones for John Kleve (90) & Peter McAuliffe (80).

Special thanks to all who contributed to making this another safe & enjoyable event for all attendees, including Peter Taylor for organising this event along with his very interesting & informative presentation; Rebecca Von Hoff (supported by engineers Jake & Matt) for her very refreshing & interesting presentation & Q & A Session; Michael Bourke & Russell Mauch for looking after our finances & name badges including receipting & banking of surplus cash; Peter Thompson for his usual gig of ensuring we all got on & off the coach safely at each stop; Ron Lewis & Lindsay Reis for looking after our hydration needs along with ensuring the coach was loaded & unloaded as required with Smoko items etc; Bob Whittaker & Evan Fairley for being on duty as our first aid officers; Jan Neal for making our much appreciated birthday cake; The staff at the Meringandan Hotel for our great lunch; Warwick Dingle for ensuring we were all accounted for before the coach departed again after each stop; The under 70’s volunteers (with a bit of enticing) for serving our birthday cake; & finally our wonderful coach driver Nick Peters for transporting us to & from Cressbrook Dam safely.

Dick
19 November 2023