Welcome to the website of the Beaudesert Community Arts and Information Centre. The aim of our centre is firstly to provide a showcase for local art and craft. Amongst our talented contributors are painters, sculptors, textile artists, woodworkers, writers, musicians, paper artists and food providores. As most of our contributors also man the centre from time to time, you will meet them when you come to visit.
We also provide information for visitors to the area, and it is our staff members' personal extensive knowledge which helps people who come here from all parts of the world to enjoy our special region.
The centre is also a meeting place for community groups.
On the website you'll find out what's happening in the area, from our calendar and from our "What's on" page. There'll also be reports on recent events.
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Ailsa Rolley, writer
We've featured a lot of our artists on this website, but we also have talented witers in the Scenic Rim whose books are featured in our Centre.
Our first writer profile is on Ailsa Rolley.
Ailsa Rolley with husband Stan and three sons arrived in Beaudesert in 1971 when Stan took up the position of Deputy Shire Clerk with the Beaudesert Shire Council. After being born and bred in North Queensland, they were delighted to find that holidays on the Gold Coast and trips to the capital city were now only an hour away.
One of the first things Ailsa did on arrival was to join the Beaudesert Historical Society and she soon developed an interest in the rich history of the town and district. In 1987 she undertook a course in creative writing and journalism, and in 2003 attained an Arts Degree in Literary Studies through Griffith University.
Her first book In 1995, Survival on Ambon, told of local identity Les Hohl's experiences as a prisoner-of-war in WWII. "I love interviewing people and hearing their stories," said Ailsa. "I seem to find other people more interesting than myself."
In 2010 she wrote Thirty Nine Moons at Townsvale Cotton Plantation. Over 150 years ago, this plantation was established by Sydney businessman and Pacific Island trader Robert Towns, at Veresdale. The title Thirty Nine Moons refers to a young Islander notching a cut in the trunk of a blue-gum tree outside his hut at the appearance of each new moon to mark the number of moons left to fulfil his indenture.
Recently she wrote a small article on Bluey Everdell who as a child hated school, but loved history stories. Bluey remembers how his imagination fired when learning about galleons and battles, and Francis Drake calmly finishing his game of bowls before taking to sea to do battle, as the Spanish Armada sailed towards English shores. "I'd love to bring history to life like that," said Ailsa.
When Ailsa teamed with photographer Barry Cheeseman to produce They Gallop at Dawn in 2009, she had no idea how alert to the world around them racing people would be. "They never stop learning and inquiring of others about what might work with their horses, asking things like, 'What tree is that?' because it might make a good shade tree down at the yards." She remembers one trainer telling of his search for a name for his new foal and looking down at his mother-in-law's tablecloth highlighting inn stops on Chaucer's pilgrimage to Canterbury in Canterbury Tales. Tabard Inn took his eye, and became the name of his new foal.
In 2015 the Scenic Rim Regional Council embarked on a year of War Stories of Our Town Program, featuring a feast of local history, memories, exhibitions, war movies, choirs, drama and art work. To assist with the capturing of local experiences, the Council initiated a Writers' Group and provided expert tuition through the Queensland Writers Centre on memoir writing. Ailsa is a member of this group. The final result was an anthology: War Stories and Our Town.
Ailsa's contribution was a memoir of her childhood experience during WWII when the women and children of Cairns evacuated south and west under the threat of Japanese invasion. Just like the Pied Piper leading the children out of the city of Hamelin, almost overnight Cairns lost its children and the town's 15,000 population halved.
"Writing is a lonely hobby and that is why there is something fulfilling about writing as a group for a community project," said Ailsa. "Everyone was so contributive to each other's work as though we wanted the whole collection to blend and be as special as our own. We then had the luxury of a professional editor massaging our work into shape, which saved us the following embarrassment: "This morning I took the hyphen out of Hell-bound and this afternoon I put it back (Edwin Arlington Robinson)."
The Scenic Rim Writers' workshops have continued in 2016 and their next contribution will be a short story on Word on the Street. Ailsa plans to write about Laura Court which was developed in the early 1970s and named after a racehorse, Lady Laura.
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A World Apart
Fine May weather attracted a record number of visitors to the World Apart tourism promotion in the south of the Scenic Rim region last weekend. Many people visited all five venues - Barney Creek Vineyard Cottages, Classi di Cucina Italiana, Mt Barney Lodge, Rathdowney Alpacas at "Triple Peaks" and Jeni Seale and Barry Marshall at Ridgeline Studios.
All hosts offered free tastings and the opportunity to discover what the Mt Barney area has to offer. Here are some photos of the event:
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Wild Mountains visit
Wild Mountains Environmental Education Centre is situated on Levers Plateau, and last week we were privileged to visit the Centre.
We were greeted by Susan and Richard Zoomers, who started the centre 30 years ago, and by Justin and Liz Hills, who have joined the Zoomers in recent years.
Richard explained that as a young man, he was involved in campaigns to save the Franklin River in Tasmania from being dammed, and the Daintree in far North Queensland from being developed. Such campaigns, while successful, polarised the communitites, so Richard and Susan decided that educating people to value and protect the environment would be their life's work.
Helped by Liz and Justin, they provide structured programs to primary, secondary and tertiary students, which entertain as well as educate. Many of these people have become committed to protection of the environment, and have continued to visit Wild Mountains as volunteers.
After morning tea we went for a walk through the forest, where Richard and Susan explained rainforest ecology. Much work has been done there in weed control, and a lot more planting. It was wonderful to see such healthy rainforest.
After lunch Justin gave us a tour through the straw bale house he and Liz are building with the help of family and volunteers. This house is based on sustainable practices, and will be water and energy efficient.
To top off this lovely day, we stopped on the way down the mountain to admire the view and to observe a koala in a roadside tree.
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Birdsong recital a big success
There was a full house for the Birdsong recital by Hartley Newnham and Nicholas Routley in Ipswich last Sunday. The owners of historic Rockton House kindly made their lovely home available for the concert, and supplied wine and nibblies afterwards.
The concert featured a thousand years of music and songs around the theme of birds, including some of Hartley's own compositions. Hartley was supported by Nicholas's brilliant piano playing, and the recital commemorated 40 years of this creative partnership.
Many Scenic Rim residents travelled to Ipswich to see the concert again, after having seen it performed at Hartley's home in Rathdowney late last year.
In the audience was opera singer Bradley Daley, who has recently sung Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly for Opera Queensland. He will sing Siegmund in Opera Australia's production of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen later this year.
We look forward to more concerts by Hartley and Nicholas in the Scenic Rim.