I love going to the movies. Not to just watch them, but the whole movie shebang. Popcorn, choc top ice cream, fizzy drinks and then taking my seat near the back of the cinema, centre of the row. The pondering will it be worth the price of the ticket? 

While in Darwin on holiday I took my daughter and husband to see, Saving Mr Banks, the story of PJ Travers and Walt Disney and the dance they did to get Mary Poppins to the big screen. What this movie did for me, besides make me cry, and fall in love with Mary Poppins all over again, was encourage me to find Allora, a tiny town in my home state of Queensland and find the house where Helen Lyndon Goff, aka PJ Travers had spent some of her childhood.

So I did, or we did. We travelled to Aratula, stayed the night with family. Next morning, we packed a picnic, bundled into the car and headed off. It was a glorious autumn morning, crisp and clear. The music was pumping through the car and we made good time as we travelled through Cunningham Gap and followed the New England Highway till we found the turnoff. Allora is between Toowoomba and Warwick and at the 2006 Census, there were less than 1000 people living there.

First impression quaint. The main road was wide, with shops on either side. Heaps of parking available, so we found a spot in the shade climbed out and locked up. There wasn’t much open seeing as it was Sunday, so we explored the main street,  smiled and nodded at a few of the locals. They lived up my expectation of country people, very friendly, very chatty and extremely informative. . One lovely woman, owner of the dress shop for thirty years, gave us the information we were looking for.

When we found the house, I was in awe. It was magical. , stunning, truly beautiful old country cottage painted off white with blue grey trims. The veranda wrapped around two thirds of the house and was dotted with elegant outdoor settings a mixture of cane and wood, draped with fabric and big cushions. I ached to get over the white picket fence and onto that veranda. I could hear young Helen, talking to her beloved father as I gazed upon the manicured gardens.

I didn’t know at the time of my visit, but apparently, you can tour the house by appointment. I will be going back and doing that. I also discovered that no part of the movie was made in Australia, due to cost, but, that the house was copied, an exact replica, overseen by the owner of the house who redrew the house plans for the set designers in Hollywood and over the course of a year he liaised with photographs and they rebuilt it over there.

Our next stop was the cemetery to find the grave of Travers Goff.  According to the ABC Southern Queensland article I sourced, the gravestone originally was very hard to find as it was weathered and some of the lettering had disappeared and the gravestone had sunk into the ground. Due to some fundraising ventures and a “considerable sum” donated by Colin Farrell, who played Travers Goff, the grave was restored.  When we finally found Travers’s resting place, we stood quietly as we read the simple inscription on stunning stone.

It was a wonderful day.  I would recommend a visit to this magical house to anyone visiting South East Queensland.  Oh, and if you haven’t seen “Saving Mr Banks” do yourself a favour and go see it.

 

I’ve attached some photo’s of the house, which has a little plate on the gate engraved with “Mary Poppins House”  

8 Comments

  1. David
    Hello, from what I remember the grave site is at the top of the cemetery as you walk in the gate, on the right hand side. I will check with my forever man, as he is much better with directions than I am. As soon as I have more infor, I’ll repost. I really enjoyed that visit. ciao Rosie.

  2. Hi Rosie,
    Are you able to give a rough idea as to where Travers’ grave is located in the cemetery? I live near Allora and was unsuccessful in locating it when there last due to limited time to search mainly.

  3. Thank you my forever man for taking me. It was a wonderful day. One thing I can always rely on you for, it helping me with my research.

  4. It’s a shame that you missed it, Sharon. Make sure you rent it when it comes to DVD. I will be buying it and putting it along side my copy of Mary Poppins.

  5. Thank you, Barbara. another memory of Mary Poppins was in the Brisbane Valley, one of the major retail stores had a replica of the fairground from the Movie on the rooftop. It was almost as magical as the movie

  6. Really enjoyed reading what you wrote as much as spending that wonderful day with you and my brother and his wife and their grandson

  7. Saving Mr Banks was the one film I didn’t get to see when I was back in civilisation at Christmas. Can’t wait to see it on DVD, and like you, I’d love to go looking for Allora one day.

  8. Nicely written Rosie, you have captured the mood well, I was almost on that verandah myself. I haven’t seen the movie but I did see Mary Poppins as a child and loved it. It holds happy childhood memories for me.

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