Friday, 14 September 2018

Brisbane surrounds

One of the best things about my recent road trip in Queensland was the amount of time I allowed myself to spend with my siblings.  Instead of snatching a day here and a day there I had more time to enjoy with them.  And they shared some of their favourite local places with me.   Clare took me to the Mt Tamborine, inland from the Gold Coast to the south of Brisbane, a place I haven't visited in over 20 years.  One of my favourite bloggers, Lee, lives in the area.  

It took us so long to get there, we could have been travelling to a much more distant place.  I had no idea where we were half the time and Clare had similar moments.  Really, Brisbane City Council (or whoever is responsible for road signs), you must do better.  We were directed in circles a couple of times.  However, we can't blame all our driving in circles on the signs.  Once we reached the village we managed to do plenty of it all by ourselves while looking for the lookouts.  We both knew they were somewhere, the question was where?  So we got to see many side streets.  And the only one we found was looking away from the Gold Coast, not down over it as we were hoping.  And someone had lit a number of small fires (we couldn't figure out why).

We enjoyed a stroll up and down the village street, popping into the many interesting shops and had a lovely lunch at a very nice cafe.  There are speciality shops like the German Cuckoo Clock nest, Chocolate Kingdom, Fudge Heaven, dress boutiques and craft shops.  Many of the little shops were owner operated and more delightful people you could never hope to meet.  They were friendly and welcoming and only too happy to share their knowledge about their treasures but without any pressure to buy.  The village of the happy shop-keepers!

I indulged in a pretty pair of ear-rings at what I thought was a great price from The Glass Studio.  I suspect they will turn out to be one of those impulse purchases that I won't get a lot of use out of as they are brighter and shinier than my usual style.  Never mind, my spirit will lift every time I look at them!

It's not often I forget to take photos.  I blame Clare, she's such good company and fun to be with, I totally forgot.

My brother Denis and his partner re-introduced me to Redcliffe, in the north of the city.  As youngsters, we thought of it as far away, but in reality, it's only about 12 km from where we grew up at Nudgee, on the other side of Moreton Bay.

The weather was threatening to change but held off while we were there.  That's the Glasshouse Mountains you can see in the distance.

You know how every place has its own claim to fame?  I remember when I visited Canada in 2002 and was amused to learn that Ladysmith, a small town on Vancouver Island had as its claim to fame that it was Pamela Anderson's birthplace.  Once upon a time Redcliffe proudly claimed to be the site of the first European settlement in Queensland, a noble claim.  Now, everyone seems to have forgotten about that and have been carried away with its connection to the BeeGees.  The powers that be have developed a walkway named the Bee Bees Way, a multi-media celebration of the pop group.  I wonder if Cribb Island, had it not been flattened to make way for an extension to the Brisbane Airport would have made a lot of its connection as well.  That's where the Gibb family moved to after Redcliffe.  

When my girlfriend and I went for a bike ride when we were youngsters we nearly always went to the beach, either Nudgee Beach or Cribb Island, Cribby as we all knew it.  You could walk from one to the other at low tide.  I got off the track, I know.  Whenever I think of Cribby I tend to dwell on the fact that all those who called it home have no place to go back to.  Sad. 

Thanks, Den and Di for a lovely day out.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Home to Brisbane

I've been thinking about home.  Not so much the place as the concept.  I know people who never return to the place they spent their childhood, don't think of that place as 'home'.  I think I've been fortunate to have two places that I think of as home.  Well, three really, when I add in my current home.  I have the valley up the creek from Laidley where I was born, the home of my ancestors, where my siblings and I spent all our school holidays after the family moved to Brisbane.  I think of this as the place of my 'belonging'.  

Because of its distinctive landmarks, it doesn't appear to have changed over the years.

My other home is Nudgee, just 13 km north of Brisbane CBD but when I grew up, it was an outer suburb.  My parents lived there for many, many years and now lay at rest in the local cemetery.  I called in to have a little chat with Mum and Dad when I arrived in Brisbane on my road trip in June.  These days a highway which bypasses Brisbane to provide access between the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast runs alongside Nudgee.  The word Nudgee is believed to be derived from the aboriginal word meaning 'home of wild ducks'.   There is a still a waterhole, but it has been manicured and tidied, nothing like the place of my childhood.

Step away from the old Nudgee and Brisbane is vastly different from the place I grew up.  My youngest sister, Janet asked when I was staying with her if there was somewhere I'd like to go for a drive, any old haunts I'd like to revisit.  My plans were already in place for a visit to Laidley, so I immediately replied I'd like to see the city again.  I'm not a city lover, can't even remember when was the last time I visited inner Brisbane.  Janet lives so close, the view of what she called the Tower of Power from her deck had whetted my appetite to see the changes.

The Tower of Power, 1 William Street, completed in 2016, is filled entirely with Queensland Government public servants.  It is the tallest in the city.  I thought it looks better from the distance than it did up close.

I was much more delighted to see so many of the old buildings I remember as being old when I was young have been well preserved.

Treasury Building, where my brother Denis worked for years.

I do so wish I could remember the name of this lovely old building.  My sister, Esme, worked there when she first left school.   

 Dwarfed but not diminished

In some streets it's all skyscrapers.  Yet turn a corner and the traffic seems to disappear and you are in a suburban-like tree lined street.

The memories flooded in when I saw the McWhirters building, in my day a department store, now a shopping centre and apartment building. When I was a child, on the very rare occasion any of us was sick enough to be allowed to stay home from school, we'd make a remarkable recovery if it was on the day the McWhirters man called on Mum with his catalogues.  Anything new that came into our home was bought through one of those catalogues and delivered by the McWhirters man.  I guess there were a number of them over the years but they are all the one man in my memory.  A smiling man who made a fuss of me and gave me a little gift.  Although I can't remember what the gift was it was enough to entice me to McWhirters for my first purchase (and many more) after I started work.  I'm sure, had I encountered the same man on my "grownup" visit, I would not have made such an outrageous purchase.

After the CBD we ventured down to the riverside at New Farm/Teneriffe.  (I don't know where one ends and the other starts or perhaps they are the same.) 

There the old wool stores of my memory have been restored to their former glory (if ever a wool store could claim such), the whole area has been transformed into some of the city's most sought-after real estate.  I think of it as gentrification.  It's an upmarket place with the shiny and new sitting comfortably beside the contrasting old and solid.  It portrays itself as having "first-class dining, trendy bars and well-loved cafes".  Janet and I enjoyed a stroll along the riverside walkway.

Most of my photos that day were taken on my phone, either through the windscreen or out the car window.  Very rarely did traffic allow my sister to slow down to allow me time for a decent shot.  This one is even worse than most but it has to be included because for the summer of my fifteenth year I spent most Saturdays and quite a few school day mornings here swimming training.  The swimming pool my school used had salt water that was flushed in and out with the tides and this was where I swam after school.  Then I attended an interschool swimming sports at the Valley Pool (below) and discovered I was slower in the chlorine treated pool.  That was devastating and humiliating to me.  I've never been a morning person but I often got up in time to catch the first train of the day (shortly after 5 am) into town, walk the half mile to the pool, do my laps then walk back to the railway station and catch the train to school.  I was a self-taught swimmer and had never heard of a swimming coach let alone met one.  And I was never as good a swimmer as I wanted to be.

The Valley Pool served another more important part in my life.  One of those Saturdays I got talking to a fabulously handsome young man and we came to be friends.  He married one of my closest friends and they are happily married to this day.  Our children are friends.  I had caught up with them a couple of days earlier.  I got them to sit apart so I could get a photo of the scrub turkey helping itself to leftovers on the table behind us.  

Below is another city view, this time from the corner of the street where my brother, Denis lives.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018


When I hear the place name Bundaberg I first of all think my brother Bernie, followed closely by strawberries.  I can't remember when I first made the strawberry association.  Perhaps it was way back in the 60s when my new husband and I spent a night of our honeymoon there.

Others might think of it as the home of the famous Aussie Spirit, Bundaberg Rum or perhaps recognise it as a major sugarcane production area.  It seems to me that horticulture is taking over from sugarcane these days.

When I reached town the first thing I noticed at my first stop was strawberries so, of course, I had to have some.  Little did I know that this little great-niece would be as big a fan of them as I am.  What a pleasure it is to meet the next generation of my family.  

My brother lives on the road to Bagara, a popular seaside area, peaceful and relaxed.  It is said to have a climate similar to Hawaii.

Another association one might make with Bundaberg is as the birthplace of Bert Hinkler, a pioneer Australian aviator.  He designed and built early aircraft before being the first person to fly solo from England to Australia.  The city is proud of their Hinkler Hall of Aviation and Hinkler House which he had built in Southampton, England and which has been dismantled and transported to Bundaberg to be rebuilt as a Memorial Museum in his honour.

They both sit within the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens where I enjoyed a Sunday stroll with Bernie and Leisa.  The gardens are magnificent with peaceful pathways and small lakes with bridges and fountains.  There are many birds - pelicans, ducks, shags, cormorants and ibis.  

I particularly liked the turtles. There were hundreds, of all sizes.

I returned the next day to the lovely cafe in the grounds to meet up with the girl who grew up next door to me.  We share a birthday, same age, too.  The previous evening Bernie had taken me to visit another old friend, the man who was bestman at my wedding all those years ago.   My second son bears the name of these two men - Bernard John.
"We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone."  Unknown
Thanks to Eileen for the quote

Monday, 3 September 2018

Joseph Banks Conservation Park

If I were to have a memorial - and that's not something I wish for - I'd like it to be like this.  Made of natural bits and pieces, sticks and shells, tied together with bits of string and old rope.  For it to sit overlooking the sea would be even better.

Mind you, I wouldn't want to drown at sea to earn it, like the six fishermen this simple memorial commemorates did.  I've read of them described as seven larrikin mates (one survived) who were living their dream harvesting beche-de-mer (sea cucumbers).  They were experienced, capable and had every reason to be confident in their ability but their boat flipped in rough seas off this shore.  A sad, sad story.

The shore below the memorial - and a couple of keen fishermen
The memorial sits in Joseph Banks Conservation Park, a lovely spot.  There are easy walking tracks, some through thick bush, past weird rock formations, some along the edge of Bustard Bay.  I took the track around the rocky headland. 
After my walk, I was driving down a side road with no plans, decided to turn around as I was heading out of town and, as I turned, noticed a cafe sign.  It was outside a nice looking resort-y place, so I parked and wandered in.  The surroundings were nice, the food excellent if expensive but worth it for the company.  He's obviously a regular visitor and a born poser.

The next morning I was on my way to Bundaberg to visit another brother and his family.  
Heading out of town
I didn't have to go far before being hit by the dryness of the countryside.
I know this photo is all wrong but just look at the how dry that grass is.

A sight to make any farmer weep.  

And here's a sight to make Kiwi motorists weep.  This was at a small roadside gas station miles from anywhere.  The fuel was even cheaper in Bundaberg!

Friday, 31 August 2018

1770 and Agnes Water

You'd think a place known as "The Birthplace of Queensland" would have tourists flocking to it but because the towns of 1770 and Agnes Water are a little diversion from the main highway, they don't see the high volume of traffic and tourists that other coastal towns see.  

I only stayed two nights, I wish it had been longer.  There's such unspoilt beauty there.  It has everything a traveller needs yet not many venture there.  I'd hate to see tourists flock there in droves yet I can't understand why they don't.  If I'd known how beautiful it was it would have been on my Bucket List.  Instead, I've driven past the turn off I don't know how many times, but typical of those who have big distances to travel, have never taken the time to make the detour.

The two little towns almost merge into one, they are just 8km apart.  I stayed in Agnes Water where most of the cafes and shops are, not that there are a lot.  The town of 1770 is a protected area so all future building has ceased.  It looks like it is still in the pristine condition it was in 1770 when Captain Cook landed there.  Like all children educated in Australia, I know the story of Cook's discovery of Australia but Captain would have difficulty recognising Botany Bay these days, with its hills covered with high rises and busy roads.

Here, when you poke around the beaches and creeks and headlands, you can imagine it unchanged for thousands of years.  The story goes that Cook went ashore for the second time in Australia near Round Hill Head.  He noted in his book many pelicans were there as well as a species of bustards which they shot and ate.  They considered it the best bird they had eaten since leaving England and named the inlet Bustard Bay in its honour.  I saw pelicans in the distance but no bustards.  

The place enjoys the tropical climate of the north of Australia but without the heavy rainfall of the far north.  The weather was ideal when I was there at the end of May.  It has stunning beaches - with surf (although the sea was flat when I was there).  It's the most northern beach along the Queensland coast to have it.  Further north the Great Barrier Reef protects the coast.  And it's far enough south to be free of those cursed stingers.

Winter sunbathing at 1770

I just loved the boarded walkway along the estuary, just before the road enters Joseph Banks Regional Park.  

It's obviously a popular picnic area and a credit to the council that maintains it.   A council worker was there cleaning the barbeques when I strolled there one morning.  He was also replenishing the wood supply.  He was a man happy in his labour, whistling as he worked and only too happy to have a chat.  A great ambassador for the area. 

I returned that evening to sit under this tree and enjoy fish and chips.  I spent as much time looking up at the tree's gnarly branches as I did looking out at the view.

I've had too many distractions these past few days.  Hopefully will get the photos from the national park posted in the next few days.  None of them do justice to the area.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Family time

I guess it was like when my father's older sisters came to visit when we were kids.  Dad was the fourth youngest in his family of 14 and my brother Terry is the second youngest in our family of 12.  I'm the oldest and my sister, Tricia who was travelling with me on my road trip, is fifth.  I always thought my paternal senior aunts were soooo old.  I think of them as sitting sedately in a lounge chair, skillfully balancing a cup of tea on their lap, smiling benignly as we sat around on our best behaviour, thinking we were being judged, praying we wouldn't say or do the wrong thing and shame the family.  They were always beautifully groomed, complete with hat, gloves and stockings.  A touch of rouge and a little lippy.  

I suppose the appearance of old(er) age hasn't changed. Our dress standards may have slipped but I hope my generation of senior aunts are not seen as quite so distant.  I thought I saw something of myself reflected in my brother's 15-year-old younger daughter, an interest of what life must have been like "back in the old days".  A polite smile of respect for a much older relative.  Strange to think that I am that person now.  I'm going to start behaving appropriately very soon - I promise!

Terry and his family have made their home in Gladstone, 550 km north of Brisbane, my eventual destination. Like Townsville, it is reliant on the mining industry and seems to be suffering from the downturn in mining in Australia.  Although the port still looked busy to an outsider. I wonder if it retains its world's fourth largest coal exporting terminal status?  One upon a time it was a grain port, but those days are long gone, although it is still a multi-commodity port and exports coal, alumina, aluminium, cement products, sodium cyanide and ammonium nitrate.

Its also a stepping off point for the south end of the Great Barrier Reef and its islands and reefs. 

I've posted about Gladstone before (here), when I last visited in September, 14.

My brother and his wife make good tour guides.  I was impressed by the East Shores Water Park which wins my prize for the best of the foreshore water parks we had seen.  It seems every major beach town has to have one and Gladstone can be very proud of theirs.

It has numerous public amenities including BBQs, pools with fountains, changing rooms, tables and seats. All nicely landscaped, overlooking the harbour and beside a pleasant walkway.

Tricia flew home to Brisbane from Gladstone so from here on south I was on my own.  Back to my usual mode of slow, solo travel, side roads and many stops for photos.  Thanks, Trish for keeping me on the right side of the road and reminding me of the road rules.  We had some good times!

At roadworks, on the road to Bundaberg