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QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA – Friday 16th to Thursday 29th April 2004


Bob & Shirley’s ‘Yetaboon’ Pilgrimage


[Reporter: Gerry PECK; Photographer: Margaret PECK; ‘EadItter: George MILLIE]


Day One - Arrival


Friday 16th April

Maggie, my long-suffering wife and treasured companion of some 44 years duration, has shared my pleasure in enjoying the company of Bob Langley, of intake 52B and his wife Shirley. Once again, the quiet chambers of “Yetaboon” echo to the banter and bonhomie that seems to surface whenever we are privileged to entertain members of our special fraternity.


Early in the morning we set out to meet Bob and Shirley at Brisbane Airport International Terminal. The day had dawned fine and slightly overcast and as per usual, when fronting up for guests, we set off with what we hoped was ample time to spare. Our precautions were quickly justified, as the traffic was quite heavy that morning. In fact our arrival on the mezzanine floor of the main arrivals foyer coincided with the announcement that the flight we were meeting was just touching down somewhat earlier than scheduled. Passengers from three prior flights were still in the throes of being re-united with baggage, so it was some 35 minutes after landing that the first passengers of Flight 131 began to clear the quarantined customs area and emerge from the exit into the arms of the gathered friends and relatives. Large numbers of Asian tourists, mainly from Japan and Taiwan, were being marshalled into some semblance of order by rather harassed-looking tour guides of their own nationalities.


Any anxieties I held about not recognizing Bob, whom I had last seen some 45 years previously, were dispelled by the sight of his still familiar face as he and Shirley came through the doorway into the organised chaos around us. Recognition was instant and mutual, although I will confess to wearing a hand-embroidered AAS badge on my Polo shirt just in case the dreaded AAS bromide had failed to safeguard his eyesight. A quick handshake, kiss and cuddle and then I turned to greet Shirley, who had never met Maggie and me before. We soon made her feel welcome and the memories began to clamour for release as Bob and I started to regale each other with: “Do you remember …?” We then made our way out to the car park wherein we had stashed the family rickshaw.


Gerry PECK with Bob & Shirley LANGLEY at Brisbane International Terminal


Bob and Shirley, as expected, were quite tired after the 26-hours flight that they had endured. So we drove them back to our place via the Gateway Bridge, with a tantalizing glimpse of Brisbane off to the right as we crested the high point of the bridge, which is peaked to allow the passage of Ocean Liners into the Brisbane River. Once home, we quickly settled them into the bedroom that we had prepared for them and then organised some refreshments. To our surprise, Bob and Shirley had come armed with many gifts, especially so for our little granddaughter, Caitlyn. They were both anxious to remove some of the sweat and grime that long distance travel creates, so some time out for showers was called.


Once the cleansed and refreshed guests rejoined us, a guided tour of house and gardens was undertaken, then, after a light meal and a glass or two of ale was broached, we entered into a sort of feeding frenzy about what had happened to various mutual acquaintances over the years that had elapsed since last we shared a beer together. Roy Dusty Ashman (42C) joined us for an hour or so, entertaining us with his anecdotes of an earlier AAS during the WWII years. Maggie and Shirley hit it off right away, with Shirley immediately displaying willingness to muck-in and help with meal preparation and so on. Shirley came across as a real good sort with a no-nonsense personality that immediately struck a chord with Maggie, a clear indication that this was going to be a terrific get together for all of us.


Murphy’s Law doing what it does best, the only fly in the ointment for me was, having to take time-out to help sort out my daughter’s car after it had developed an engine problem. With both Bob and Shirley feeling quite drained by the after-effects of the long flight, we made no attempt to do other than let them relax and catch their breath for the rest of the day.



Day Two – Logan City


Saturday 17th April

Maggie had a wedding to attend. Our daughter Kathleen’s best friend was making an honest man of her long-time beau, Kathleen was Matron of Honour, and Maggie had made the bouquets and buttonholes for the wedding party. Thanks to Bob and Shirley’s presence I was able to ‘bludge’ out of going to the ritual being performed by a civil celebrant in the garden of the bride’s grandmother whose home abuts a National Park, with pristine landscape surrounding the property.


I took Bob and Shirley on a ‘look-and-see’ tour of parts of our local area, including a quick visit to meet Kathleen and her husband Travis, ending up at a regional shopping mall which fascinated them both. They bought some bits and pieces and made enquiries about booking a (1,500 kilometres) flight down to Canberra (Australian Capital Territory), so that they could take a couple of days to go and visit with Bob’s cousin who lives in nearby Queanbeyan (New South Wales). We popped home for some lunch and worked out with each other the best time for them to take the trip down to Canberra; the consensus was for Monday (19th April), with a return flight to Brisbane on Wednesday (21st April). After some scoff we went back to the mall and booked the flights for them. This was followed by a trip to ‘Peckingham Palace’, as my eldest son’s huge home is affectionately known amongst ourselves. Bob and Shirley, once we had prised Shirley away from the baby, were fascinated by it. From there we drove some 40 kilometres to Tambourine Mountain, from where you can overlook a goodly part of the Gold Coast hinterland. The steep, winding access road cuts through sub-tropical rainforest, a glorious profusion of exotic trees clinging to the side of the mountain. We returned home just as the short twilight was setting in.


With Maggie away for the wedding I took Bob, Shirley and our other son Douglas along to the family’s favourite Chinese ‘noshery’ where we again met up with Gregory, Tammy and baby Caitlyn. We had a really pleasant self-serve, all-you-can-eat meal which, as ex-Brats, Bob and I got stuck into like thoroughbreds!



Later that evening, in keeping with the dreaded Murphy’s Law, a speeding driver ‘lost it’ as he raced along the dual carriageway past ‘Peckingham Palace’. His front wheels struck the median strip, his car was hurled into the air, literally flew across the other lanes and smashed a glancing blow into the side of Greg and Tammy’s home. It demolished a tree on the neighbour’s property before taking out the ‘Colourbond’ fencing and pergola at the side of Gregory’s and Tammy’s place. Their dog was pinned against the gate into the side section of garden but escaped with bruises. The side of the house has cracks running through the brickwork from ground to eaves and the repairs will cost in the region of $100,000 to restore it to pristine condition. Nobody, aside from the dog, was injured, and one must be grateful for that. Still, it is difficult to feel charitably disposed towards an idiot like that who had been reported for ‘hooning’ and doing ‘doughnuts’ earlier that day. Bob couldn’t believe the trouble that we were going to in order to provide him with live entertainment!




Day Three – ‘Underwater World’


Sunday 18th April

We took off towards the Sunshine Coast, heading for Mooloolaba. Traffic was reasonable, we made good time via the Gateway toll way and the Bruce highway, and the weather was superb for the occasion. The lady manning the ticket counter at ‘Underwater World’ was kind enough to extend the courtesy of pensioner concession prices to Bob and Shirley, so that was an auspicious start to the day. The facility is very comprehensive and well laid out with hundreds of live exhibits and miniature environments in which captive sea creatures dwell in blissful ignorance of their curtailed lifestyles. The tunnel going through the main perspex-walled aquarium contains a great variety of sea creatures ranging from gropers through to large sharks and rays, all swimming in close proximity and seeming harmony. We took in the first of the day’s live shows, “Seals behaving badly”. This is all very professionally done and the impression is gained that the seals are enthusiastic and sometimes innovative participants in the fun and frolics. We lunched on fish and chips in the excellent cafeteria that the complex boasts, and after a final look around, made our way out of Underwater World and onto the main jetty.


Bob & Gerry at Underwater World – two ‘Ancient Sharks’


We scoffed an ice cream as we meandered through the various shops lining this edifice and Shirley made a few purchases. There is a boat trip that takes in the canals that bisect the area adjacent to the river, with the skipper giving out some very entertaining anecdotes about the rich and famous who have set up their very palatial homes in this beautiful setting. The boat actually emerges briefly into the open ocean (Coral Sea) at the mouth of the Mooloola River before returning along the river to the jetty. This made Shirley a tad nervous but it only lasts for a minute or so and gives an excellent view along the coast towards Coolum and Noosa.


Gerry, Shirley & Bob aboard the boat plying the canals and Mooloola River


We set off for home at 16.00 hrs, deciding to try and get to the lookout point for the Glasshouse Mountains on the way. This went somewhat disastrously, as the signposting was less than adequate and we found ourselves in dirt-road country, which is not recommended where steep inclines are the norm. So we ‘spat the dummy’ on that idea and reserved the experience for a later trip out that way. Seeing a vantage point from which a good photo of one of the isolated mountains could be taken, we pulled over and did just that. As a bonus, Maggie spotted some nearby wild kangaroos and Bob was there in a flash, if you’ll pardon the pun! We resumed our homeward journey and caught the tail-end of the rush hour traffic as we reached the Gateway toll way again. In spite of this we made good time and experienced no holdups in the traffic flow.


Shirley, Margaret, & Bob outside the ‘Ettamogah Pub’



Bob enjoying a cold one


On Monday we had to send the Langley's off to Canberra for a couple of days …


Days Four & Five – Queanbeyan


Published: April 2004