Beneath the Blades

Sherwood Probus Club’s guest speaker for September was David Earley. David grew up in Brisbane but has spent many of his adult years working overseas as a helicopter pilot. He began flying training in 1965, gained his wings as an Army helicopter pilot in 1968 and then served 1969/1970 in Vietnam. He worked for a considerable amount of time in Papua New Guinea, firstly as pilot and manager of an international volunteer Christian linguistic research and translation organisation (SIL) and then as Chief Pilot of Pacific Helicopters during an intense period of oil exploration. Relocating to Australia he became CEO of Reef Helicopters based in Cairns and operating in the Torres Strait.

As a pilot for 46 years, David has flown airplanes and helicopters in some of the most inaccessible, demanding places on earth. He recounted his story in his book Beneath the Blades. Flying at the ends of the earth: a pilot’s journal. 

In his talk, David described his experiences flying in remote areas and the range of work he carried out or managed. This ranged from contracts for defence, aeromedical retrieval, police, border protection and marine pilot transfer. Particularly moving was his description of his time in Vietnam; he commented that the impact of his service there gets worse rather than better. He shared with members his recent diagnosis of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Throughout all these years his wife Nancy has been by his side.

On behalf of members, Harvey Dale thanked David for his very interesting talk and presented him with a Certificate of Appreciation and gift.

David Earley & Harvey_ed
David Earley and Harvey Dale



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Sherwood Probus at Hockney exhibition

Sherwood Probus members were joined by fellow Probians from other clubs on a tour to the Tweed Heads Regional Gallery to view an exhibition by British artist, David Hockney, entitled Words and Pictures.

The Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre is in Murwillumbah, New South Wales. Lonely Planet Australia describes it as “an exceptional gallery… home to some of Australia’s finest in a variety of media.” Club members had visited previously to view the Margaret Olley Art Centre. The gallery is situated above the town and you will appreciate the glorious views from the verandahs.

We weren’t permitted to take any photos inside the David Hockney exhibition due to copyright reasons, so do visit his website at to read about him and see examples of his work. There is also more information about him on Wikipedia at Hockney is now 80 years old and still exhibits throughout the world.

Fellowship over coffee and/or a meal is an integral part of the Club’s ethos, so it’s not surprising that you can see us taking up the opportunity to chat with fellow Probians.

We returned to Brisbane via the Commonwealth Games Village at Parklands on the Gold Coast. The buildings are a riot of colour and after the Games they will be transformed into a mixed-use community. Parklands is adjacent to Griffith University and not far from the Gold Coast University Hospital, so perhaps its future is promising.

Since none of us had seen the netball complex near Dreamworld, our driver obligingly took yet another detour. This is a huge complex, with no internal columns. Could we manage yet one more detour off the M1? Of course we could as this was to stock up on pies for dinner at Yatala.

What a great day.




National Parks of the World

At our Sherwood Probus meeting on 19 August, Dorothy Eyears, our speaker coordinator, introduced Tony Groom. She outlined his many achievements and lifelong involvement in National Parks which included a Churchill Fellowship to study National Parks in USA and Canada and extensive involvement in establishing the chain of National Parks on the Scenic Rim. Tony was accompanied by his daughter, Lisa Groom. The Groom family is well-known for establishing Binna Burra and introducing many innovative environmental programs in Lamington National Park.Tony & Lisa Groom

Entitled National Parks of the World, Tony concentrated on their many benefits–a gene pool of nature for future generations; a pleasure ground for people; a sanctuary where nature can help those battling mental problems. Parks can generate significant economic value for a region. For example $1½ million was raised in entry fees for a Nepal National Park which supports a school for 3500 Sherpas.

National Parks vary widely throughout the world and range from Western USA, including Zion and the Grand Canyon, to the animal parks of Africa, and the mountains of South America. European parks offer food, wine and beautiful scenery, whereas New Zealand offers excellent walking tracks in parks which cover 20% of the country. Australia offers its unique animal and bird life.

Some National Parks are best seen in particular seasons, e.g. Autumn in Arcadia in Maine, North East America; the snow covered mountains of British Columbia in Winter. Most parks worldwide come to life in Spring as seen in the wild flowers in Western Australia.

Zion National Park
Zion National Park (image from World at my Feet, Boolarong Press)

A wonderful slide show of images of Parks from around the world played in the background as Tony spoke. At times these images were accompanied with music. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor accompanied slides of the soaring cliffs of Yosemite National Park (1st in the world). Tony ended his talk with Beethoven’s Ode to Joy from the 9th Choral Symphony, a glorious accompaniment to photos of Zion National Park. What an uplifting start and end to a presentation! Many members took the opportunity to purchase Tony’s book World at My Feet which features many photos that were included in the slide show.

World at my feet bookMoving a vote of thanks and presenting a gift and the Club’s Appreciation Certificate, Neil Bacon summed it up:  “That was great.”

As an aside, anyone wishing to hear these pieces of music again, on Youtube you will find the Bach played on the organ – this is supposedly the best ever recording. There’s also a fantastic Flashmob recording of the Ode to Joy.

Christmas in Winter

For those of us born in the Northern Hemisphere we we016re accustomed to celebrating Christmas in December when it’s cold, and if we were lucky, snowy. In Queensland we do things differently and celebrate Christmas in July or August, which is the coldest part of our year. This year we decided to travel to the Fox & Hounds Country Inn at Wongawallan in the Gold Coast Hinterland. The weather was perfect for a drive through the country, except for one poor member travelling independently. She got lost and missed out on lunch! Sadly she missed out on a great day.002

All our travellers entered into the spirit of the day – Christmassy dressed, bringing their secret Santa gifts with them. En route we stopped at Logan Village for morning tea. This was a pleasant spot where the amenities were good; there was also a lovely craft shop, museum and other activities.

Some of us succumbed to ‘Christmas’ shopping in Logan Village. Travelling on Mt Tamborine Road we drove along Gallery Walk, which we revisited after lunch for a stroll around.

The Fox & Hounds Country Inn was imported from England and had a really cosy English pub atmosphere. Our traditional lunch comprised turkey and ham, plum pudding and pavlovas. We also enjoyed birthday cake to celebrate Charlie McKeown’s 90th birthday and Paul Coghlan’s 84th birthday. Happy birthday to both of you!

Charlie and Paul celebrating their respective birthdays


A lovely day was had by all.

Birthday celebrations for Sherwood Probus

July marks the month in which Sherwood Probus club was established in 2000. We usually celebrate this event with a lunch instead of inviting a guest speaker. 2017 was also a fitting time for one of the Foundation members, Paul Coghlan, to be awarded Life Membership of the Club. Our special guest was  Nicole Johnston, Councillor for Tennyson Ward, who generously supports our Club; John Sophios entertained us with guitar music and song.

We sat at tables decorated with flowers in Probus colours and snacked on chips while waiting for lunch to be served. We enjoyed our tasty two-course meal prepared by Jenny and her staff at Magpies AFL Club. Instead of a single birthday cake, Joan  Coghlan had made an assortment of cakes which were available on each table. Joan had also made  a special cake for Clare Bedggood, who was celebrating her birthday on the day.

Col Mulholland presenting Paul Coghlan with Life Membership certificate and pin

Prior to lunch, Foundation President Col Mulholland presented Paul Coghlan with a Sherwood Probus Life Membership certificate and pin to acknowledge his work as a Foundation member, Newsletter editor, and Committee member for 17 years. This year is Paul’s second term as Club President.


Paul thanked the Club for the honour. He explained that on coming back to Brisbane after 34 years in Mackay where he had been an active Rotarian, helping to form the Sherwood Probus Club enabled him and Joan to make new friends after leaving older ones behind. He has enjoyed it all.

Birthday lunch_ed
Club members with Nicole Johnston, Councillor for Tennyson Ward (centre left)

Most members know that Paul is the Club’s regular quizmaster and he set us two quizzes which proved challenging as well as enjoyable. One covered general knowledge and sport. In the other quiz he provided cryptic clues to the surnames of members present at the lunch, with the exception of one member whose name was a first name. To help us to work the clues out the answers were in alpha order. Some were quite easy, e.g. “Comes out of a book” = Page; whereas others required a lot more thought. Pat Hurney and Pauline Williams scored highest on both quizzes and, it was suggested, that sitting opposite each other was a significant factor in this result. They may have had an advantage in members’ surnames as both have been involved in membership, but neither was particularly gifted in the sports arena!


Roma Oliver won the lucky door prize of a bottle of wine, and two copious hampers full of goods donated by Committee members were won by Gil Bambrick and Vada Murdoch.

Thanks to all who assisted in making the lunch a memorable one: to Nicole Johnston for finding time in her busy schedule to come along; to Joan for organising the lunch, making the cakes, the decorative name tags, bringing the flowers, etc.; to Committee members for providing goodies for the hampers.

Here’s to another year of Fun, Friendship and Fellowship at Sherwood Probus Club.


Two boys and one pair of thongs

What do two boys and one pair of thongs have to do with a guest speaker at Sherwood Probus Club? Our guest speaker in June was Rhonda Faragher, a mathematics educator, who shared a photo of her welcome in East Timor by two boys who shared one pair of thongs: one wore the right thong and the other wore the left one!


Rhonda Faragher_v2

Rhonda went to East Timor at the invitation of fellow educator, Dr Jo Brady, a Jesuit nun who was involved in training mathematics teachers in East Timor. Rhonda was tasked with writing a mathematics curriculum for the teachers’ training college.


She not only shared her experiences of working in East Timor but illustrated these with a wide range of photos: these included photos of the teachers’ training college, students playing sport, especially soccer, and the amazing scenery. This physical map of East Timor comes from Ezilon maps.

Times are tough , but the East Timorese have a thirst to learn and break the cycle of poverty. Some students were willing to walk for two hours to get to school.

Rhonda’s talk was extremely inspiring and we wish the students and East Timor well in the future.


Wellcamp Airport and Highfields Pioneer Village

At 8:30am on Wednesday 21 June twenty two Probians boarded a bus in Chelmer and set off on a much anticipated day trip to the new airport at Toowoomba and the Pioneer Heritage Village nearby.  Jeff, our driver, kept us entertained as we drove westward on the Darren Lockyer Highway and climbed the steep approach to Toowoomba.  After stopping for morning tea at Picnic Point we skirted the city and headed further west for 15 kilometers to Australia’s newest major airport capable of handling large jet passenger aircraft.  As we arrived at the modern terminal building a QantasLink aircraft was taking off on a scheduled service to Sydney.  Other airlines service destinations such as Cairns, Melbourne and Western Queensland cities.

Officially known as the Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport it has an associated aviation and business park.  Its most unique features are that it is privately owned and developed by the Wagner family, and that it was completed in record time.  From acceptance of plans to the first scheduled passenger service was only 19 months. It’s no wonder that many have suggested that the Wagner brothers be contracted to build Sydney’s long awaited second airport!

At HighfieldsAfter leaving the airport we drove to Highfields Pioneer Village north of Toowoomba city where we were served lunch and enjoyed the sunshine.  The Village has a number of interesting attractions which include the Heritage Chapel (built in 1909) and a restored slab hut from 1900.  A number of us were keen to see the car museum as well as the amazing collection of bicycles and historic farm machinery.  All in all it was a good day out!

Joan, our Tours Organiser, arranges a number of interesting outings during the year, so why not join Sherwood Probus and see what we have to offer.

Click go the tiles at Mahjong

Sherwood Probus Club’s Mahjong Group meets twice a month. Some of us are fairly new at playing whereas others have many years of experience. The “old hands” help to teach the “newbies”.


As a “newbie” I find Mahjong fascinating. It’s a mix of strategy and luck; knowing a variety of games helps you to make a quick decision on what to do with the tiles that you have drawn. Then it’s down to luck whether you draw the tiles required to declare “Mahjong”. Despite the looks of concentration on everyone’s faces, it can get quite animated as players name the tiles they discard and bemoan the fact that they can’t pick up a tile discarded by someone else or, yet again, have picked up a tile which they don’t want!

Our visual guide to many common games is The Mahjong Player’s Companion, by Patricia A. Thompson and Betty Maloney. It’s the advice and guidance from experienced players, however, that really helps you to improve your game. I learn something new every time I play.

The Mahjong Group meets on the first and fourth Thursdays of each month, from 12.45pm to 2.45pm at the Croll Memorial Centre, opposite the Sherwood Services Club in Clewley Street, Corinda. Cost is $3 to cover room hire, but includes tea/coffee.  We welcome new members: contact Agnes Cuddihy 0400 804 153 or Angela Norris 37160102.


Bizet’s The Pearlfishers


Our group thoroughly enjoyed their outing to The Pearlfishers. What wonderful singing from Emma Matthews, tenor Aldo Di Toro, baritone Grant Doyle and bass Andrew Collis. Thanks so much to Bizet and the Queensland Opera. How could anyone not be moved by that beautiful duet In the depths of the temple and the other wonderful songs.