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QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA – Sunday 17th to Saturday 23rd October 2004


Perambulations of the ‘Round-the-Worlders


Leonard SYMONDS (54A) & his wife Brenda


[Reporter & ‘EadItter: George MILLIE]





Earlier in the year Len, who had stumbled upon “The September 49ers & Others” web site and discovered my whereabouts, e-mailed me with the good news that he and Brenda were planning to visit Australia this year. I was most surprised when he told me he still had in his possession the REME swagger cane I had given him a few days before my discharge in September 1969, and it was his considered opinion the time had come to return it to its rightful owner. I was delighted with the prospect of being reunited with two old sticks, Len being one of them.


In a later e-mail he reported:

“Brenda and I went down to Thomas Cook today and booked ourselves a ‘Round the World’ ticket. The only parts that are set in stone are the first flight out of Heathrow and the last flight back in to Heathrow. All other dates and times can be changed and we could add one more destination on route (by visiting a local Thomas Cook branch).”


Initial Itinerary









01 Sep 04


dep. Heathrow


arr. Miami










12 Sep 04


dep. Miami


arr. Los Angeles










16 Sep 04


dep. Los Angeles


arr. Auckland NZ 18/










17 Oct 04


dep. Christchurch NZ


arr. Brisbane Qld










23 Oct 04


dep. Brisbane Qld


arr. Sydney NSW










27 Oct 04


dep. Sydney NSW


arr. Hong Kong










29 Oct 04


dep. Hong Kong












30 Oct 04




arr. Heathrow



“While the main aim of our holiday is to take local tours and sightsee, we would particularly like to meet up with … We intend to stay in small commercial hotels or B&Bs at each location and will be hiring a small motor caravan in NZ for getting about in comfort.”



Day One - Arrival


Sunday 17th October

After spending most of Saturday preparing for their arrival it was a relief to hear the ‘phone ring at about 11.10 am – Len was on the line informing us that he and Brenda were on the road and within about an hour’s drive of their destination, Toowoomba. They had decided to hire a car at Brisbane Airport and drive up, quite an undertaking considering the nature of the great unknown. Sunday was a good day to make the trip there being relatively light traffic on the highways. Arriving safely and promptly, obviously relieved to see the day’s travel at an end, it was time to relax, chat incessantly and catch up on old times, eat, and drink liberal amounts of wine – a fitting conclusion to a rather long day.


Unpacking commenced, during which Len unearthed my swagger cane from the bottom of one of the suitcases and returned it into my custody. However, I requested that he perform a simple handing-over ceremony on Tuesday after lunch, to which I would respond in fitting style.



Day Two – Toowoomba CBD


Monday 18th October

Our guests had brought with them the glorious gift of rain – something that has become very scarce in the antipodes. Only two days previously the sun continued to shine incessantly from a cloudless sky and the temperature in Toowoomba had risen to 33 degrees Centigrade – and it is only Spring. Summer doesn’t start until 1st December. The annual bushfire season has commenced a little earlier this year and already our nostrils are sensing the smoke as fires race out of control in the more inaccessible areas of the bush. Mindful of the fact on two very recent occasions fire-fronts had already closed the Warrego Highway – the only direct route from Brisbane to Toowoomba and the West – we were hoping that Len and Brenda would get through.


It was perhaps fortunate for our visitors that the bad weather persisted, bringing down the temperature to a more comfortable level. Although prevented from literally going ‘out and about’ we drove into the city to wander around Grand Central Shopping Centre, taking the opportunity to make last minute purchases for the FEOFA gathering to be held the following day, and in particular a new photograph frame to extend the ‘rogues gallery’ hanging on one wall of our unit. Taking the opportunity during a break in the weather I photographed Len and added his picture to the display.


[photo: George Millie]



Day Three


Published: October 2004