Doreen Writes Her ‘Sexy’ Eighth Book …
What Do You Do In Isolation?
Doreen Says “Write Another Book Of Course!”
From out of the thousand books The Australian literary editor Caroline Overington is asked to review each week, she chose Doreen Wendt-Weir’s new book ‘Gardening In Your Nineties The Sequel to Sex In Your Seventies’. Caroline described Doreen as a “lovely storyteller” and “so playful” saying Doreen’s book is a purchase you won’t regret.
At an amazing 93 years of age, Doreen is an incredible inspiration who changed the lives of many, and, by her own admission, is also a ‘pretty good talker’! Upon arriving at Doreen’s home on the mountain, I was treated to delicious olive and walnut bread, and parsley and chive scones – fresh from Doreen’s oven! We sat down to chat and I found myself enthralled by Doreen’s warmth and candor:
“I’m a philosopher – I philosophise a lot!” Doreen said. At the young age of 71, she gained admission to Griffith University, where she obtained two degrees, a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Arts Honours, taking four years to do so. Doreen attended university on campus, even picking up fellow students along the way. She has written eight books so far, the very first one being ‘Barefoot in Logan Village’, which she wrote at age 70. Upon completion of her seventh book, the pandemic happened, and Doreen questioned “What am I going to do in isolation?” Her daughter, Susan, replied “Why don’t you write another book?’”.
“What should I write about?” she queried, but in answer to her own question, she commenced writing about gardening commenting “I love compost, and I love gardening, so I just started writing about gardening. But my mind started wandering while gardening and so the book became a memoir with a love story intertwined.”
Doreen said “I am a vegetable grower and I talk about nearly every vegetable. I also give old recipes about each vegetable. Each vegetable reminds me of something in my life so I talk about growing up on a dairy farm at Buccan on the Logan River. My Mum used to fail at growing vegetables – always a drought or the hares! If the hares didn’t eat them, then there was no rain. I had very few green vegies in my childhood – no green grocer around so we mainly had potatoes and pumpkins.”
Doreen’s great grandparents were part of the first settlement in the Logan Village district in 1863. They faced many hardships including a huge flood in 1887 on the Logan and Albert Rivers.
Doreen remembers when she was 3 years old, she was gathering eggs and saw a red-bellied black snake going up the wall of the hen house. She got such a fright, running back to the homestead, she ran over a calf bone with 2 points sticking out of the ground. Everyone thought she had suffered a snake bite and so was subjected to the snake bite treatment of the day – a scalpel and Condy’s Crystals!
Doreen won a scholarship to attend the Brisbane Girls Grammar School where she intended to become a journalist, but the war interrupted her studies in 1942, and so at the age of 15, she was ‘man-powered’ and put to work in the US Army Post Office.
The war ended when she was seventeen, and at nineteen Doreen undertook nursing training at Grafton in NSW. She then went on to study obstetrics at the Women’s Hospital in Sydney where Matron Shaw was in charge. Matron Shaw was known for her kindness to unmarried mothers at the time and inspired Doreen and her friend to depart for England on a ship for 6 weeks to become district midwives in Lincolnshire. At 26 years of age they rode around on bicycles in the snow delivering babies – truly the original Midwives!
Back in Australia, she married and had four children. Finding herself alone, in 1979 Doreen established a cottage gallery ‘The Salt Box’ on Tamborine Mountain. She was in debt and was most fortunate to inherit a house when her uncle passed away. When she was 65, she then established the ‘Capo Di Monte’ Art Gallery on Main Street where she displayed her oil paintings, enamelled plaques, and unique ceramic ‘golden bowls’ which are painted, glazed, and fired three times before the gold is actually applied and then fired again.
Doreen had a story and a poem accepted in an anthology in an Australia-wide writing competition as part of Stage One of a ‘Women in Australia’s Working History’ project. The anthology was launched at the Australian Workers’ Heritage Centre in Barcaldine by one of Australia’s ‘national treasures’, Margaret Whitlam, where Doreen was the only other speaker to follow Margaret.
In an award-winning interview by Masako Fujiki on ABC Radio, Doreen’s own composition, a song titled ‘ Waltz With Me Darling Tonight’ was played and sung in its entirety. This interview led to many things including being a cover girl, magazine interviews, and a TV career as ‘Dear Doreen’ on The Morning Show after an appearance with ‘Kochy’ on Sunrise. Doreen was just 88 at the time, but unfortunately, the appearances ceased when Co-vid forced the studio to close.
We are so lucky to now have Doreen writing for us with segments from her daily life featured in ‘Doreen’s Day’. It was a pleasure to chat to you Doreen, and look forward to more scrumptious bread and scones next time we meet!
By Kerri Cryer
To purchase Doreen’s book, please go to: www.sexinyourseventies.com or contact Doreen via email on email@example.com.