To begin at the beginning, which, as Julie Andrews pointed out, is a very good place to start, I was born. My parents were Lewis James Skinner and Mabel Eldershaw Skinner and I was born on 6th April, 1944 at King George V Hospital for Mothers and Babies at Camperdown, Sydney. I consider myself a Baby Boomer, even though the postwar period was still 18 months into the future.

my parents photograph

Mum and Dad before their marriage

I am a fifth generation Australian on both sides of my family, Dad's family being farming stock, still on the family property at Goolma after 150 years, and Mum's descended from a ne'erdowell, who despite many chances to make good, died of alcoholism at the age of 47. From my mother I inherited artistic tendencies in several fields, but no great talent in any and from my father I inherited the family bone structure and large size but unfortunately, not the work ethic.

I have one brother, Neil Stafford Skinner, who was born 11 months after me, and three step siblings from my father's first marriage. I only ever met one of these, Lionel, who is only ten years younger than my mother.

mum dad grandma Neil & me 1947 photograph

The Family at Neilson Park 1947

My mother and father lived in my grandfather's house in Earlwood, or a district of Earlwood called Undercliffe, and that is where I lived until I left to get married in 1968. It was an attractive, but strangely designed brick house on a large block, at least a quarter acre, with a wild backyard full of rocks and trees to climb, sloping up to the schoolyard of Undercliffe Public School, where Neil and I attended Primary School. The house had a large master bedroom and originally only one other bedroom but my grandfather had divided the large double lounge room to give my parents a room and my father built on to the back of the house, providing a dining room, laundry and small bedroom for Neil. The best feature of the house was the large verandah out the front, with a sandstone parapet wide enough for a comfortable seat, although rather high off the ground, and an ornamental tiled floor.

At that time, Earlwood was considered in the backblocks of Sydney, a very long distance out, nearly in the country. There was still a bit of bush around, with interesting hikes and the roads were not as busy as they are now, when Earlwood is practically inner city.

I took the location for granted, and it was not until I attended high school at Sydney Girl's High at Moore Park, travelling in two buses and a train through the slums of Erskineville, Redfern and Surry Hills, that I realised that I was very lucky to live in a largish detached house on a quarter acre of land. Some of my friends from school, who lived in inner city suburbs, considered our house and yard luxuriously appointed.

Neil and me 1950 photograph

Neil and me 1950



At the age of four years and nine months, I started school at Undercliffe Public. To get there we walked down the street for three houses and up what were known as the "school steps". This was a shortcut from our street, Homer Street, through the schoolyard to Bayview Avenue. Later, as Neil and I grew from Infants to Primary, we utilised a missing fence paling to squeeze through from our backyard to the schoolyard.

Although I was very keen to start school, and could read before I got there, I don't remember enjoying school very much. I was too lazy to put much time into study and if a subject did not come easily, I did not enjoy it. Even so, in spite of lack of application and any feeling for mathematics at all, I won prizes every year from second class to sixth class and was one of only two girls ever to progress from Undercliffe to Sydney Girl's High School, a selective school offering a two language classical course and University Matriculation at Fifth Year. Most girls from Undercliffe went either to Marrickville Junior High, which only went to the Intermediate or Third Year, or to Dulwich Hill Domestic Science School, which offered practical courses for the non academically inclined.

From being a big fish in a little pond, (Undercliffe was a very small school, with about 120 pupils from Kindergarten to 6th Class) I was really out of my depth at Sydney High with over 700 girls. I struggled most of the time, although enjoying French and Latin and my English and History classes, Maths I and Maths II and Physics and Chemistry were pretty much closed books. It was obvious that I would not Matriculate (in those days you had to have Maths to Matriculate) so I decided to leave school at the Intermediate Certificate and join the workforce. In those halcyon days of the 60's it was easy.

After leaving school I did a couple of trade courses, learning to type, which has stood me in good stead ever since, and doing one year of a tracing course, one of those jobs which the computer and photocopier have made redundant, so it is not a bad thing that I did not complete it. Being left handed I tended to smudge the drawings which started from the left hand side of the page and the teacher told me left handers never made good tracers. It was interesting though.

I had often wondered, as my children grew and had the benefits of the new education systems, whether I would have succeeded at University if I had been lucky enough not to need Maths. So when I heard (while working with other mums in the school canteen) of the University of New England's External Studies Department, which allowed you to do one subject at a time in your own time, I wrote to them. As a "mature age" student, I had no need of matriculation or the Higher School Certificate.

In 1983 I commenced a Bachelor of Arts degree by External Studies at the University of New England, Armidale, northern New South Wales. I was surprised to find that External students greatly outnumbered the internal students, of about 12,000 students, 9,000 were externals. We studied at home and wrote our assignments, submitting them by mail to the University. Once or twice a year, during the University holidays, we had Residential Schools for a week or so at the University, enabling us to meet our tutors and fellow students. I made some good friends in my Italian course, some of whom I am still in touch with after fifteen years.

Since I was only studying to prove to myself that my brain had not turned to mush by so many years out of the workforce, and was not aiming to return to it, I decided to study the subjects which had appealed to me most while at school. I achieved a double major in Romance Languages, French and Italian, which involved three years of Italian, studying literature as well as language, including Dante and Boccaccio, and four years of French, also with a large component of literature, including works by Dumas, Voltaire, Gide, Sartre and Moliere. To make up the extra points I needed for my degree I took one year of Latin and one year of Classical Literature (Greek and Roman) in translation.

I thoroughly enjoyed my years of study, and to the surprise of many of my family, but not my husband and children, I graduated in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. I had never scored less than a credit in any subject and achieved High Distinctions in several, including Latin.

Having proved my point, I hung my degree and graduation photo on the wall and returned to reading for pleasure.

graduation day 1991 photograph

UNE degree



My first job was with a small printing firm, as a copyholder, or proofreader's assistant. I really enjoyed this, as reading has always been my first enjoyment. The trashy paperbacks which the firm published, however, were not very intellectually stimulating, and at the age of a very innocent fifteen, when the fatherly proofreader told me I could spell out the swear words instead of saying them (we read everything out loud to find the mistakes, even grammar and punctuation) I was more embarrassed because I did not recognise some of the words and did not know whether I should read them or spell them. I did not stay for more than six months with the printing firm because it was a junior job and I felt they would probably get another junior to do it when I turned eighteen, leaving me without training for anything else. So, when I was notified that I had passed the Public Service Examination, which I took before I left school, I decided to take a clerical job with the government. This paid more but was not as enjoyable as the proofreading.

I trained as a typist with the Public Service and worked for the Government Insurance Office, at that time a government initiative aimed at helping lower income people with insurance and especially with third party motor vehicle insurance and workers compensation. While always intending to leave and get another job somewhere else, I stayed on for eight years until I left to get married. In my day it was not compulsory to leave if you got married, which it was in my mother's day, but we were married in the Northern Territory and so left the state.

After 18 months in the Territory we returned to Sydney with a six month old baby and I went back to the Public Service, on a part time basis, for nearly two years, until I was expecting my second child. That was the last paid work I have done.




In July, 1968 I was married to Stewart Angus MacPherson, in Darwin, Northern Territory. We had met about 18 months before in a Theatre Group, the Gloucester Players. I prefer acting but Mac, as he is known, prefers backstage work, lighting, set building etc. However, on the occasion when we met he was playing Professor Higgins and I was playing Mrs. Eynsford-Hill in Pygmalion , during a programme of works by George Bernard Shaw. I also played Raina, in Arms and the Man . He had given up his job to spend more time at the Theatre and, when he needed another, a friend who was working in the Territory at Rum Jungle Uranium Mine, recommended him to the management and he went up to the Treatment Plant Laboratory. I joined him there a few weeks later and we were married in Darwin.

rosemary 1967 photograph

mac 1967 photograph

Rosemary and Mac pre marriage

wedding day 31 July 1968 photograph

Wedding Day Darwin 31 July 1968

Our first son, Neil Kenneth, was born in Darwin, during a cyclone in March 1969. We lived 65 miles down the track from Darwin, so when the cyclone was getting closer it was decided that I had better get into the hospital and wait it out, or I might get stuck in Batchelor, where we lived, on the wrong side of two rivers. While there I decided that I might as well have the baby induced, since I was already there (he was due) This is a decision I would not make a second time! However, he was born without too much trauma and no complications and was a generally good baby to learn on.

Neil 3 months photograph

Neil at three months at home in Batchelor

The Rum Jungle mine was closing, and rather than moving with the company to the iron ore mines at Mt. Tom Price in the Pilbara, WA we decided to return to Sydney.

Geoffrey Ross, our second son, was born at Canterbury Hospital in October, 1971.

Geoff 15 months photograph

Geoffrey at 15 months Bexley

Since rental accommodation is always temporary, we moved around a lot, from Canterbury, to Bexley, to Lakemba and then spent a year in Hobart Tasmania. When the job there finished we returned to Sydney, living for nearly a year in Narwee before making the big step of buying our own home. Looking for relatively cheap houses in areas where we would be prepared to live, we came to the Lower Mountains and settled in Blaxland. It is ironic really, that it would now cost more to replace our Tarago van than it did to buy the house. We bought at the very best time in the last 20 years, when prices were low and interest rates, though they climbed astronomically during the period, did not affect us too much because Mac's salary (after changing careers from chemistry to computer programming) also climbed. When his parents died in Britain in 1991, leaving him their only heir we were able to pay the house off eight years early and make some investments which have been paying for overseas holidays for us ever since.

Neil & Geoff 1982 photograph

Neil and Geoff in the pool, Blaxland 1982

Mac retired from his job at John Fairfax Holdings in December 2000 and we have thus entered another phase of our lives.



In October, 2002 occurred the Bali Bombing, a terrorist attack in the tourist centre which killed a lot of Australians as well as other nationals (including Balinese, who seem to have been forgotten to a certain extent.)
The morning after the news broke, my mother sustained a massive stroke, which paralysed one side of her body and the opposite side of her head, but did not, unfortunately, kill her outright. Instead, she remained in Nepean Hospital, being extremely well looked after but dying by inches. Mac and I maintained a vigil for three weeks, while early bushfires raged through the mountains, until her death on 6th November, 2002 at the age of 93.. We had a small but moving funeral in the lovely historic sandstone chapel at Edinglassie, where Mum had lived for several years. She had outlived most of her friends but there was family and some friends from Edinglassie and friends of ours in support. My elder son, Neil, spoke the eulogy, very well. He is a natural speaker.

Mum at Edinglassie photograph

Mum at Edinglassie 1996

Mac's 60th birthday was approaching in December, so I was organising a lunch party for him to celebrate. Unfortunately, two weeks after Mum's death, Neil's girlfriend, Radha, sustained a massive stroke. The neurosurgeon could only give Neil the most gloomy prognosis, and indeed told him not to hope. They said she would not recover from her coma, that if she did she would be a vegetable, that she would probably never talk or walk again.
This was devastating for Neil and put all our plans on hold. The bushfires still raging across every northern route into and out of Sydney prevented our Newcastle friends from travelling for Mac's birthday and in the end we just had one couple for lunch.

Neil and Radha prestroke photograph

Neil and Radha, before the stroke

Happily, however, Radha, being young and relatively strong, refuted all their prognoses and made a slow, but steady recovery. She regained consciousness, and was placed in a rehabilitation hospital from which Neil brought her home. She will always have brain damage and it shows in her face and voice, but she can talk, read, remember conversations and take part in them, laugh and even work. She can walk, sometimes using a stick for balance and, the best part, seems to have left the clinical depression which darkened her life, behind.


My son, Geoffrey, finally achieved permanency of employment. After years of "temping", and casual work he was offered a permanent position with Telstra.

Neil and Radha were married on 5th June, 2004.


I should not neglect to mention the family cats who have deigned to spend their lives with us. I have always been a cat person but my husband thought he preferred dogs so the compromise was that we had no pets at all.
Then close friends asked us to take their seven year old cat, Claude, to save him from the pound, when they had to move from a house into an apartment. Claude, aka feetsface, was a lovely cat with a beautiful nature and he managed to worm his way into the affections of the whole family. He died in 1999 at the age of 19 years, plunging us into mourning.

claude4 photograph

claude2 photograph

Claude sitting on the patio, Blaxland and Claude the clock watcher

About two years later, the same friends who gave us Claude, had a kitten dumped on their doorstep. Not wishing to take on another cat they asked us if we wanted it, otherwise they would take it to the pound. We decided to have a look at it, and fell instantly for the somewhat feral charms of this six week old ginger and white tabby kitten with immensely long whiskers and eyebrows. We named him "carrot" both because of his colouring and after the character Captain Carrot in Terry Pratchett's "discworld" series of books, to which we are all addicted. Since then, Carrot has taken over the household, he is a mighty hunter of beetles and lizards with the occasional mouse and, dare I say it, bird. He is an outdoor cat, but is philosophical about the necessity of being inside in the dark hours and always likes to come in from time to time just to check up on us. In eighteen months he has gone through six collars and bells, I don't quite know how he gets rid of them but we always replace them. If the birds are silly enough to ignore the jingling and the fact that he stands out vividly on the green lawn, then too bad.

carrot 2 photograph

carrot 1 photograph

Carrot foraging for his food and Carrot with his long whiskers

Carrot was with us until 29 December 2012 - 12 years. For all of these twelve years he lived happily in the house during the evenings and roamed around the back garden (and neighbouring gardens) during the day. He was an extremely neurotic cat, jumping at every unexpected movement and scurrying off to hide behind the computer in the computer room whenever we had visitors.
As well as this he steadfastly refused to go through the front gate on to the footpath outside the garden, for which we were extremely grateful. There seemed little chance of losing him to traffic when he was so paranoid about going out.
Then for some reason, on Saturday 29 December 2012, when Mac and I were preparing to go up to our friends in Woy Woy for the day, he decided for the very first time to go outside the front gate. We presume he went on to the road for just as we were getting ready to leave we realised we had not seen him since we let him out early in the morning.
Mac went looking for him and found him dead on the grass verge beside the road just outside our gate.
It appeared that he had been struck by a car.
We were both very upset.

Last Carrot  photograph

The last photograph of Carrot - asleep on our bed
December 2012

After that we did not get another cat for nearly 18 months - then Mac started making noises about getting another cat and also started making a cat tower for it to climb on and hide in.
And so, in May 2014 we visited the Animal Welfare League Shelter and, although having good intentions of rescuing a mature cat which might stand less chance of adoption, we came home with a kitten!

Cadfael  photograph

First photograph of Cadfael and Mum, May 2014

We called him Cadfael, another C name after Claude and Carrot, and another literary reference, after Brother Cadfael the mystery solving monk in Ellis Peters' books. He is a very pretty cat, classic short hair in a colour the Shelter called Lavender(!) silvery grey with white trimming, and we could not resist him. We are trying to keep him as an indoor cat for his own safety but he, like Carrot, takes every chance to zap out the door like greased lightning. We have bought him a harness and lead and take him for walks in the yard, but he prefers to free range.

Cadfael  photograph

Cadfael Helps with the Packing, August 2014

Mac has built him a marvellous climbing tower complete with hidey hole and high tower and he really uses it a lot.


April 2008 photograph

Neil and Radha April 2008

I remember writing in one of my travel journals the first date in 2000 and noting "and doesn't that sound strange". Eight years later the time has just flown.

Neil and Radha have been married four years. They have a flat and a mortgage and, although it is small and overfull with Neil's books, they are making it a home.
Radha's journey since the wedding day has been wonderful. As if starting again as a child, her progress by leaps and bounds has been miraculous. From brain damage and excess weight, walking with a stick and unable to drive or work, she is now driving, working two part time jobs, and, with the aid of diet and regular gym workouts, has now returned to size 12.
Best of all, they have both stopped smoking!
Her quick understanding and sense of humour are a joy to see. Miraculous indeed.

October 2008 photograph

Geoff and Radha in Glenbrook Nat. Park October 2008

Neil Sept 2007 photograph

My Brother Neil, seven months before his death

The saddest occurrence this year was the death of my brother, Neil, who lost his seven year struggle with several forms of cancer in April.
It is hard to deal with, as he was younger than me, if only by 11 months. When your own generation start to die, you start to think of your own mortality. Neil was the third of our generation, my cousins Katherine and Vicky both lost their husbands in the last couple of years, all to cancer.

Mac and I have now been married 40 years! It was our ruby wedding in July. It seems unbelievable to me that such a time has passed, but I must realise that Neil will be 40 next year and Geoff has just turned 37.
We had a couple of days away in Terrigal to celebrate the anniversary, on one of the nights having dinner with Anne and Chris, who now live on the Central Coast so did not have too far to come.
Mac gave me a lovely gold pendant set with four tiny (but real) rubies. I gave him a set of ruby glass champagne flutes.

50 year History book cover

Cover of "Fifty Flaming Years"

The Blaxland Volunteer Bushfire Brigade has also reached a milestone anniversary. This month we celebrate 50 years of service to the community. A celebration dinner is planned for Saturday 29th November at Springwood Golf Club.
For my sins I volunteered to prepare a second volume of Brigade history for the occasion. The first volume only took us up to 1979, when we moved into the new Fire Station in Attunga Road. So I had 30 years to write about. As it happened some of the younger members wanted to know more about the early days, since the first history is long out of print, so I included quite a long chapter incorporating the memoirs of several long standing members.
Starting from 1980, I had quite a lot of material put together some time ago by one of the older members, and I made free use of the "FLAME" Archives (the Brigade's monthly newsletter also produced by Mac and me) to get personal stories from several sources.
The book has turned out very well, it is a chunky paperback of 285 pages, with quite a lot of photos. I called it "Fifty Flaming Years", a bit obvious maybe but apt.


Since my last entry in 2008 quite a lot has happened and changed in my life.

We were saddened and disappointed when Neil's marriage broke up in 2009. We felt that he could not have done more for Radha, virtually saving her life and nursing her through a very long rehab period but Radha obviously wanted more of life than he was able to give her.

In the middle of 2011, after playing a dream part as Nanny Ogg in "Wyrd Sisters", I finally realised that if I wanted to be comfortable in any part of my activities, from travel to theatre, I would have to get some weight off my knees. The arthritis in my knees, especially the right one, was getting quite unbearable, and led to my increasingly sedentary lifestyle. When the director informed us that we were going to do another Terry Pratchett play about the witches, "Carpe Jugulum", and wanted the same three actresses to play the parts, I knew the time had come. Mac had also stacked on quite a lot of weight for much the same reasons, lots of coffee breaks with biscuits and not enough exercise! So together we decided to bite the bullet and followed three of our theatrical friends to WeightWatchers.

Before WW 2010 photograph

Rosemary and Mac at the Gold Coast, 2010

This was the best and most sensible decision of my later life. I found the life changes necessitated by the WW programme amazingly easy to adapt to and slowly but surely the weight dropped off.

Now, in 2014, I find myself 60 kilograms lighter, nearly half my bodyweight! Mac also lost 27 kilos (he did not need to lose as much as I did). We are lifetime members of the organisation and have been maintaining the loss for over 18 months.

After WW 2013 photograph

Rosemary and Mac on Geoff's Birthday 2013

When I played Nanny Ogg again in "Carpe Jugulum", we had to pad out my costume so I could look more like the little fat witch. I have had my right knee replaced with a shiny new titanium and stainless steel model and find no difficulty walking five kilometers or more.

Norfolk Island photograph

Rosemary on Norfolk Island 2013

During the time when I was losing weight, we had a major holiday to Western Australia and back, and another major trip to New Zealand, and managed to keep the weight off while on holiday, which can be something of a problem due to lack of control over eating choices. But I look forward to next year and the long awaited European River Boat Cruise with no real apprehension. I will get exercise on walking tours and be judicious with the food and wine.

Magazine Shoot photograph

Rosemary and the rest of the Over 50(kg) Club
Copyright Weight Watcher's Magazine 2014

As the icing on the metaphorical cake Weight Watchers Magazine asked me to do a photoshoot in April this year. I was in a group article with three other ladies who had lost over 50 kilos. It was a lot of fun and interesting in that it was done the day after I turned 70! You don't get many good new experiences at that age!
I have pleased my GP by my weight loss and even more by stabilising my blood pressure at normal rates for over a year, and have been taken off my medication.
Unfortunately I have since been diagnosed with macular degeneration in my right eye, as well as incipient cataracts so it seems to be a race to see if I die before I go blind! Not really funny, my mother died virtually blind.


Since the Weightwatchers Magazine photo shoot in 2014 we have had several great and indulgent overseas holidays. The most significant was the long awaited European River Cruise in 2015 from Budapest in Hungary to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. We opted for the extended version which started with four days in Prague in the Czech Republic and ended with four days in Paris, France.
This was a wonderful trip and a great experience, we travelled with APT whose care of us was exceptional and we would recommend them (despite being very expensive). We followed this trip with six weeks in Britain under our own care, meeting Geoff in London then heading for Scotland, Yorkshire, Macclesfield and Peak Forest Canals, Wales and the Cotswolds.
We both gained some kilos in weight, but took them off again in reasonable time.

M & R at the Chateau photograph

Rosemary and Mac at Chateau Jemniste, Czech Republic

We also gained weight on the highly indulgent but incredibly enjoyable Canadian Odyssey in 2016. This included the legendary Rocky Mountaineer Train from Vancouver to Banff and the equally legendary Canadian train from Jasper to Toronto. In this one we travelled in their fairly new Prestige class and it was the most comfortable and indulgent train trip we have taken. Canada is very big, like Australia, and the very best way to see it is by train. We caught trains from Vancouver to Banff, Jasper to Toronto, Toronto to Montreal, and Montreal to Halifax, Nova Scotia. We loved Old Montreal and Quebec and found Halifax very interesting. We also took a 3 day side trip from Halifax to Charlottetown , Prince Edward Island.

M & R at the Lake Louise photograph

Rosemary and Mac at Lake Louise, Canada

Full accounts of both these trips can be found in the Travel Page.

At the end of 2016 I was asked to do another photoshoot, this time for a mainstream women's magazine called Yours, aimed at the 50, 60 and 70 demographic. It is an old-fashioned women's mag, with stories about real people, not the sensational and largely untrue "celebrity" gossip of so many of the supermarket magazines.
I had a very pleasant girly day just before Christmas, having makeup and hair done, and photos in several outfits, although in the end they only used one. It came out in January and I was very pleased with the result, although the journalist used a bit of licence when it came to the words!

Yours photograph

Yours Magazine Photograph
Copyright Yours Magazine January 2017

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My interests range from acting, which has been a major interest all my life, to travel, which I have been able to indulge in during the last ten years and also include volunteer work for the local Volunteer Bushfire Brigade.

theatrical masks logo THEATRE

I began being interested in Theatre before High School because my mother wrote and produced plays for the Undercliffe Parents and Citizens Association and the whole family was involved. Amateur theatre was part of the family environment. At High School I joined the Junior Dramatic Society and took part in several playday productions and also played in class productions, including Bottom in Shakespeare's "midsummer night's Dream". When I was old enough I took ingenue parts in my mother's productions and, when I left school, joined several dramatic societies, including grosvenor players, with whom I took part in "Our Town", "The Little Foxes" and "Joan of Lorraine". I then joined a professional group producing children's Theatre for birthday parties etc, playing witches and ugly stepmothers etc. I was even paid a little for these.

When I joined Gloucester Players, not only did I meet my future husband, but I took part in Shaw's "Arms and the Man" and "Pygmalion" (excerpts), "Stage Door", and "All My Sons".

After a break to have children, I joined a group called Spectrum Theatre, where I started having some of the best parts I have ever done.

With them I played Alice Fisher (Billy's mother) in "Billy Liar" and the headmistress, Miss Mackay, in "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie"

as Alice Fisher photograph

Playing Alice Fisher in Billy Liar

After moving to Blaxland, I first joined Chifley Theatrical Society in Mount Druitt, because a friend was with them and suggested me for a part they needed filling. With them I played the Prime Minister Constance in "No Time for Figleaves", Alice Fisher (again), Miss Mackey the mad librarian in "Out of Thin Air" and the wonderful part of Karen in "The Anniversary".

Then I joined Glenbrook Players, very local to me, where of recent years, I have played some terrific parts, including Aunt Abby , one of the lethal old ladies in "Arsenic and Old Lace", Mrs. Bennett in "Pride and Prejudice" and Clairee in "Steel Magnolias" This last was such a success that I felt it was a good one to finish up with, and unless they make me an offer I can't refuse, I have retired.

Geoff as Dr Einstein photograph

Aunt Abby in Arsenic photograph

Robyn as Martha and me as Aunt Abby and Geoff as Dr Einstein in Arsenic & Old Lace

In Glenbrook Players I also was very pleased to be joined by my younger son, Geoffrey, who, starting with small parts in workshops, has worked up to some very good character roles, including Dr. Einstein in "Arsenic and Old Lace" and Mr. Collins in "Pride and Prejudice".

Geoff as Mr Collins in P&P photograph

Mrs Bennett photograph

Rosemary as Mrs. Bennett and Geoff as Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice

The Cast of Steel Magnolias photograph

Jill as Truvy, Bronwyn as Annelle, Rosemary as Clairee
Sara as Shelby, Joan as Ouiser, Margaret as M'Lynn
in "Steel Magnolias"

The Importance of Being Earnest photograph

Michelle as Cecily, Chris as Canon Chasuble and Rosemary as Miss Prism in
"The Importance of Being Earnest"

In 2009 Glenbrook Players made me that offer I could not refuse when they decided to stage "Wyrd Sisters" adapted from the cult classic by Terry Pratchett. Our whole family is addicted to Terry Pratchett and when the opportunity was offered to play the wonderful Nanny Ogg, one of the three witches, I defied my arthritic knees and took to the boards again. This production was great fun and a terrific success, thanks to the hordes of Pratchett fans who came out of the woodwork. It took a lot out of me but it was worth it.

Nanny defies the Duchess

Rosemary as Nanny Ogg and Madeleine as the Dreadful Duchess in "Wyrd Sisters"


Terry Pratchett's "Wyrd Sisters" brought me out of retirement and gave me the taste for the smell of the crowd, roar of the greasepaint etc again

 Carpe Jugulum photograph

Margaret, Sam and Rosemary in "Carpe Jugulum"

When we presented "Carpe Jugulum" I realised that my memory at nearly 70 was not as good as it had always been up till now. However, it was a lot of fun and, as before with "Wyrd Sisters", Pratchett fans came out of the woodwork. Geoff's friend Steve brought a friend who had come from Tasmania!

 Carpe Jugulum photograph

Geoff as Mightily Oats in "Carpe Jugulum"

I played Nanny Ogg again and it was a very big part, almost the biggest. Geoff played the Quite Reverend Mightily Oats, the Omnian missionary, who came to give Magrat and Verence's baby daughter her name.

 Laughter and Loving photograph

Rosemary and Geoff in "Laughter and Longing"

Having got the bug again, Geoff and I were involved in a production earlier this year of short plays and sketches, called "Laughter and Longing". We did ours as a radio play with scripts in hand and sound effects etc, so that made it easier.

Lady Bracknell photograph

Rosemary as Lady Bracknell in
"The Importance of Being Earnest"

Photographs Copyright Mick Bell 2014

The current production is Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" one of my all-time favourite plays. I went to the audition with Geoff, not really intending to read, but there were not all that many people there so I thought I would read to help out. Two days later I was offered the part of Lady Bracknell! I have wanted to play her since I was about 20 - I was too young then, I am too old now - but naturally I could not resist. I also think I am not tall enough to be imposing but the costume certainly is.

Group photograph - Importance of Being Earnest

Rosemary, Siobhan, Tim, Margaret and Lauren in
"The Importance of Being Earnest"

Photographs Copyright Mick Bell 2014

Geoff is also involved, playing the part of Canon Chasuble - back in holy orders! If he is not a villain (or a ghost) he is a minister! Rev. Mr Collins in "Pride & Prejudice", Quite Rev Mightily Oats and now Canon Chasuble.

I have said this before, but, given the difficulty I have remembering the lines these days, I think this will be my swansong! (So far, only Nellie Melba has had more farewells!)

Green Star Back To Top



We came to live in Blaxland in 1978 and it was not long before we joined the Blaxland Volunteer Bushfire Brigade. I joined the Ladies Auxiliary before Mac joined the Brigade proper because several of the women I met in school mothers' clubs also belonged to the Brigade. The former Brigade station was near the railway station and on Mac's way home from work. One night he noticed lots of activity there and popped in to ask if they needed any help. When they learned he had a truck license and could drive the war surplus left hand drive Studebaker tanker, they welcomed him with open arms. In our 20 years with the Brigade we have taken part in much fund raising, fire fighting, hazard reducing, and public education, seeing the fire station move from the railway car park to a larger, better appointed building near the industrial area and garbage tip. Not so convenient.

Mac & Geoff 1985 photograph

Mac and Geoff, stalwart fire fighters, 1985

Our younger son, Geoffrey, joined the Brigade as a cadet and passed his basic training. However, when he was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes at the age of 15 he was not allowed to progress to actual fire fighting.. He has been an Assistant Station Officer for about six years. I was Secretary of the Ladies Auxiliary for two years before we folded in 1988 and an Assistant Station Officer for ten years, Station Officer for five years and Secretary , Assistant Secretary and Acting Secretary for about six years. Mac has been vice President , followed by seven years as President, and we are the Editor and Publisher of the Brigade's monthly newsletter, the FLAME.

National Medal 1999 photograph

Presentation of National Medal, 1999 to Rosemary and Stewart MacPherson

In 1999 we were both awarded the National Medal for Emergency Services for 15+ years of exemplary and diligent work with the Brigade.

At the Annual General Meeting of 2002 I stood down from being Station Officer and editing and publishing the FLAME is now our only official job with the Brigade.

The Brigade has also honoured us with Life Membership.

Mac and Geoffrey have done a lot of work, setting up the Brigade Website and this can be found on the net at


We had scaled back our involvement with the Blaxland Volunteer Bushfire Brigade of recent years but the horrendous early bushfires of last October which destroyed over 200 homes in the local area prompted us to get back into the Brigade. Mac, who has been the Treasurer's assistant for several years, is undertaking training in driving the tankers again, (they are new since he last drove and have different characteristics) and I have volunteered to be the Station Officer's assistant, after all these years.

Things have certainly changed around the Brigade Station, lots of women being trained, our first female Deputy Captain and a computer crew callout system which I am trying to learn. But it is difficult to teach an old bitch new tricks! We are expecting another bad bushfire season as the bush is very dry and I must get into this as quickly as I can.


Although we have pretty much phased out our involvement with the Volunteer Bushfire Brigade of recent years, feeling that there is little we can contribute to the revamped Rural Fire Service, in 2015 Mac and I were both presented with long service medals by the Commissioner of the service. It is hard to believe that we have been involved with the Brigade for 37 years! But it is pleasant to know that it has been appreciated.

Long Service Medal photograph

Mac and Rosemary at Long Service Medal Presentation

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