Fossils rock Annette's world
THE moment Annette Fifoot discovered her first fossil 70 years ago sparked a long and passionate love affair with geology.
"I was always picking rocks from when I could toddle,” Mrs Fifoot said.
"But when I found this one in Beaudesert in 1947, I took it to my father straight away and he told me it was petrified wood.
"I have treasured it all my life.”
The next notable fossil discovery was some years later, on a sheep station in Barcaldine. But this time they were bones from an extinct animal.
"One year there had been a drought so the water table had dropped and I found some fossilised bones from an animal called a Diprotodon - a giant square wombat looking animal but as big as a bullock,” she said.
Mrs Fifoot lived with her family in Barcaldine in Queensland's central west until her father moved them to Brisbane in the end of 1947. She went to school for a year at Eagle Junction state school, then attended Clayfield College for nine years.
This year will mark 60 years since she was a senior at Clayfield College, and since she has reunited each year with some of her old school friends.
"I loved school because I wanted to study geology, so when I finished I jumped straight into my degree at the University of Queensland, St Lucia Campus,” she said.
"It was there I met my husband Bob for the second time in life - in the uni's bushwalking club.
"Bob had also lived in Barcaldine when he was a boy and had once squired me to junior deb ball when I was seven and he was eight.”
Mrs Fifoot said as soon as she heard Bob's last name she realised it was the same boy from her childhood.
"Fifoot is an unusual name,” she said.
"I remember thinking at the age of four when his family first moved to Barcaldine, 'Fifoot, that's a funny name'.”
Mr Fiifoot was training to be a secondary school teacher at UQ St Lucia and after university he was transferred to the Gatton Agricultural College to teach in 1963, which according to Mrs Fifoot, was more of a high school then than the university it is now.
"Now Bob and I have been married for 58 years and have been settled in Gatton for a long time,” she said.
The Fifoots wed on Valentine's Day 1959 in Brisbane and went onto have four daughters together.
"I went back to uni after we had our daughters, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Earth Sciences in 1990, then I did a post-grad Diploma of Science,” Mrs Fifoot said.
"I worked as a tutor of under-grad students for about three years at St Lucia, afterwards I began doing my masters but during 1996 I got glandular fever, so I didn't finish.”
In the years to follow, Mrs Fifoot completed a first aid course, joined the local ambulance committee and the SES.
She is currently the SES Lockyer deputy local controller and proving age is irrelevant revealed she was 60 years old when she became a member.
That was 18 years ago and since, she's been Gatton group leader and at stages was the Lockyer Valley acting local controller.
"I've always loved the bush and I knew they did searches for people in bushland, but I also wanted to be part of the community,” she said.
"I went up to some SES members at an Anzac Day parade and asked if someone my age could join.
"They asked me if I could type and I said I don't want to type, I want to do things.”
Ms Fifoot recalled one of the most rewarding SES jobs she has been "on task” for over the years.
"It involved a little five-year-old local boy,” she said.
"He was badly mauled by a dog and we rescued him.
"Now every time he sees anyone in an SES uniform he will have a huge grin on his face. To me that's special.”
Over the years the Fifoots have enjoyed going travelling together, but the fondest trip was exploring Antarctica for their 40th wedding anniversary in 1999.
"It was unbelievable, the colours were incredible,” she said.
"My favourite island was Deception Island.”
Mrs Fifoot credited her inquisitive and adventurous manner to her father.
"I really admired him,” she said.
"In his late twenties, he became severely crippled with rheumatoid arthritic in his spine and hands, I think he spent a few years in a wheelchair for sometime, but he got himself out of that.
"He always came up with fascinating ways of managing to do things, and he never complained or gave up.”