Monday, September 29, 2014

Kuranda and more retail therapy

On Friday we took a tour to Kuranda, after being picked up at the motel at 8.30, we took the train journey up to Kuranda. This was a lovely trip through the rain forest, magnificent views, and a running commentary of the history of the area and the railway. Read here

Our return trip was on the Skyrail, and again, the views were spectacular.

Once back in Cairns, we met up with the last of our traveling companions , and headed off to the esplanade where we found a nice Turkish restaurant. Kaye and David had not eaten Turkish food before, but bravely agreed to try it, much to their delight.

Saturday saw us hitting the craft market just outside our hotel, the vendors are almost all artists selling their own artworks. There were some lovely things, but we did not buy a lot. Downtown for smoko, and then lunch on the wharf, watching people come on and off the boats. A leisurely afternoon, TRO watched the AFL grand final and I went for a walk, and then hit the books for a while.

A delicious Italian dinner added to our international repertoire of food over the last two weeks, and then another walk for some night photography.

- Posted from another day in Paradise


Saturday, September 27, 2014

We are on our own now

Our group is splitting up now, and over the course of the day, Arn will do three airport transfers, and we will say farewell to most of our new friends. By tonight there were only seven so us left, so we meandered over to the casino for dinner together.

But in the meantime, we hit the shops, and did some retail therapy. New clothes, and old ones thrown out for me. I found a beauty shop and had my gel nail polish removed, what a procedure that was. First, a little grinder works on it, then a soak in acetone, wrapped in tin foil, then a scrape with a scraper, more soaking, and a final scrape...$15 thank you very much. I think I will save gel nail polish for special occasions!

Our resort is lovely, and our room overlooks the marina.

There is a nice sea breeze, but of course the room is air conditioned. It's actually nicer to open the door onto the balcony and let the breeze through.
We have two Queen beds, the one we are sleeping in is very comfortable, and the pillows are soft, unlike some we have slept on.

Posted from another day in Paradise

Friday, September 26, 2014

World war 2 history

Another later start this morning , so a short walk after breakfast, to photograph this amazing tree...the barringtonia.

I'm most impressed with the variety of these beautiful Frangipanni
They are growing everywhere. There was actually a deep red one as well, but I was unable to photograph it.

Another boat trip took us over to Horn Island, our boat pilot looked about 12, and may have been 14. Later, I was told he was texting all the way!! An older man, perhaps his father, took over for the landing at the wharf.

We were taken on a guided tour around Horn Island, by Vanessa SeeKee, an author and historian who lives on the island.
This was an amazing tour, this young woman has almost singlehanded lay put together a museum dedicated to the history of the 2nd world war on Horn Island.

Did you know, for instance, that Horn Island was the second most attacked location in Australia next to Darwin? There were approximately 500 bombs dropped here in 1942 and 1943.
There were 5000 Australian and American Air Force and army servicemen on the island, defending the country. There were just nine nurses here, at the 1ACH....Australian camp hospital. There is a web site dedicated to the history.

After our tour, watching an ABC show about veterans returning to Horn Island, and our museum visit we were served a delicious Chinese lunch, and then taken off to the airport for transfer back to Cairns. A good flight, but sadly, 6 of us had our suitcases bumped at Horn Island, so could not freshen up and change into nice clothes for our farewell dinner.

It was good to improvise though. Peter had a delightful sense of humour and had us all in stitches!!!

Our farewell dinner saw Gerald winning the ongoing contest of guess the kilometers was had travelled, it was 1600, and he was one out. His prize was the billy Arn had been making tea in, and we had all signed.

- Posted from another day in Paradise


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Off to the Islands

An extra early start this morning, we had to be onboard by 7.15. A short drive to Seisa to jump on the Torres Magic to travel across the Torres Strait to Thursday Island. It's an overcast day, but still very warm.

We farewelled Arn and our coach this morning, he will meet us when we arrive back in Cairns, so he has a long drive back on his own. Poor Michelle is left to control us by herself, but we have promised to be good!

It was an eighty minute trip, and bliss, oh bliss, they had a cappuccino machine on board.

Thursday Island from the air.

Immediately we arrived we were taken on a bus trip around the island. It is the administrative and commercial centre of the Torres Strait islands, just 3.5 square km small with a population of 3000.

We went to Grass Hill, which was the site of the old fort built in 1891, and now used as a museum.

The cemetery was another stop, there are 700 Japanese pearl diver buried there, and is the monument to them.

We were dropped back at our hotel to freshen up, and walk back to the wharf for our trip to Friday Island, where we were to visit the Pearl Farm. We were treated to a delicious Japanese lunch on the deck, the sea wind blowing gently through.

A demonstration of harvesting and seeding the pearls followed, and following that was some retail therapy in the gift shop. I think our group unloaded over $2000, the pearls were just beautiful. Mum very generously shouted Kath and myself a new necklace each.

These are our three oldest gentlemen, described by one of them as Huey, Dewey and Louie! They had sort of been nodding off, but closed their eyes for me to take a picture of them. The are 74, 75 and 76!

Back on Thursday Island, we had some free time for a little more retail therapy, it was hot and humid though, so we were glad to come back to our air conditioned room, and prepare for another yummy dinner. Barramundi was on the menu again, it just gets better all the time.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The TIP...and no seagulls

Off to the very tip of Australia this morning, the road was fairly rough, despite having been worked on not so very long ago. We passed through rocky outcrops as well as very thick patches of rain forest.

The walk to the top was challenging, but Kath tells me it would be graded moderate in bush walking terms. Again, I am very thankful for the walking pole, as the terrain is quite steep in many places, and of course, going up means coming down again.

There are many man made cairns along the track, so we added a small rock to one of them.

After about a half hours climbing we made it!!!

Lots of photos were taken, as well as a nice group one. A professional photographer up there would make a fortune !

Back down again, equally as hazardous, and we enjoyed our "special" morning tea on Frangipanni Bay. We all thought "special" would mean champagne in celebration, but no, it meant lamingtons!
Here we are, all lined up like school kids, enjoying smoko!

This photo was taken after Peters chair gave way in the soft sand and he fell off. His was the third fall of the trip, me being the first, then Val. No harm done , just as well, Peter is in his mid 70's.

Getting to the very tip of Australia was quite a milestone on our trip, but there is still lots more to go. We enjoyed a BBQ lunch on another beach, this one called Somerset Beach.
Our tour director Arn is an absolute fountain of knowledge, and is constantly telling us the history of the area, of explorers, sheep drovers, and early pioneer families. One beautiful old home that had been in view of this beach had just been let go to rack and ruin, and finally pulled down, and the magnificent gardens that had surrounded it just returned to the forest.

A little shopping on the way back to our accommodation, and a stop to admire some bottlebrush orchids, and learn a little about ant plants, and the Ada-A bush, which has white leaves until they mature.

Back "home" , time for some relaxation, TRO had a swim, and I went for a walk to the shops with BIL. On the way we saw a most strange fruit growing, taking one back with us for identification.

It's called a cashew apple. Google it up if you'd like more information. Typically, I had not taken my camera on this walk, but I did manage to get this pic from the web.

Another yummy dinner was enjoyed, and another great day experienced.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Moreton to Bamaga

An early breakfast and start again, we have the front seat of the coach today. Each day we change seats in numerical order, and the numbers are mixed through the coach. There's a little more leg room at the front, but the big advantage is that I can jump off first.

Our first stop was just a short way down the red track, where we stopped to admire the cycads. These ferns grow only 1 cm per year, and there was almost a forest of them. Off course, there were the ever present termite mounds

Back on the coach we watched a video by the bush tucker man about the ill fated Kennedy expedition of 1848.
He and twelve men landed at Rockingham Bay and set out to explore Cape York. Only three men survived this expedition, including Jackey Jackey, his aboriginal companion. Kennedy himself was speared by the local aborigines, and Jackey Jackey only barely survived to tell the tale.

We followed the line of the telegraph line, and some way along stopped at what had been one of Kennedy's camps. At camp 84, three men were left behind, and never heard of again. When they were searched for some time later, the only evidence of them was some local Aborigines wearing their clothes.
This was really scrubby country, but with some nice plants and flowers. A cairn commemorated the lost men.

Onward and northward we travelled, following the telegraph line, until we came to for an exciting River crossing. We all jumped out to watch Arn manouvre down to the River, and loaded on board again as he crossed.

Onto the Fruit Bat Falls, which actually don't have any fruit bats hanging around. A few hardy souls went for a swim, and reported the water as nice. This was our lunch stop as well.

The next river we crossed was the Jardine. This is the largest perennial river in Queensland, and the only river whose catchment area is all in protected areas.
There is only one way to get across, and that is by ferry.

As soon as you cross the Jardine, you are in the NPA or Northern Peninsula Area. There are five communities here, three of them aboriginal. Population is approx 2500, 85% of island origin, and 25% aboriginal. We are staying at Bamaga Resort. Once in Bamaga, we did a town tour which included the airport and the wreck of a DC 3, which came down just short of the airstrip almost 70 years ago, after running out of fuel.

After settling into our resort, we enjoyed happy hour, and another yummy three course dinner before settling down for the night.

- Posted from another day in Paradise

Location:Burkuma Road,Yuendumu,Australia

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Moreton telegraph station

Today we spent the day at this outpost which was originally the Moreton. Telegraph Station. The original building has long been demolished, all that remains is a concrete slab. Now there are tents, camping grounds, permanent cabins, a shop, housing for staff and a restaurant. In other words, a holiday resort, although they advertise in their brochure as "camping ground and accommodation". It was established in 1887, as a repeater station for the original communication system in QLD. How different are our communications today from the morse code system of yesteryear.

It was very hot today, reaching 33 degrees, and we were lucky enough to be on the first expedition around the station in the all terrain vehicle, the Polaris. We left at 8am, and were very ably guided by Bec, who drove one of the vehicles as well.

We started by taking a short walk to the Wenlock River, in particular, the barra hole, where Bec's Dad had caught a barramundi recently measuring 60 centimeters.

Bec pointed out lots of the local flora, creeks, the lagoon, and finished up our tour by taking us onto the airfield, on which the mail plane lands each Sunday. Here we saw an enormous termite mound, and loads of small ones, some only a few inches high. The runway has to be cleared each week in readiness for the plane to land, and termite mounds are some of the things to be cleared.

Star fruit is just one of the fruit trees on the property, and this needle leafed grevillea only grows on Moreton Station.

A relaxing afternoon again, when most of us elected to have Nanna naps, then nibbles and a drink before dinner around the campfire. We had to bring our own alcohol here as they don't sell it. We joked with Arn that he would need to pull a trailer to accommodate it all. Coffee around the campfire after yet another delicious dinner ended another lovely day.

It's a two night stay here, we are all thankful for that.

- Posted from another day in Paradise

From Weipa to Moreton Telegraph Station

No alarms this morning, but we woke early any way. After breakfast we were taken to the caravan park, where we met Greg, the driver who was to take us on a town tour, and out to view the bauxite mine.
Weipa is a mining town, bauxite was discovered here on aborigine lands in 1955. 1964 was the first year of commercial production, and in 2012, the annual production figure was 23.2 million tonnes.
Bauxite ore is found under the topsoil, mined, then processed into white powder called alumina, which is then processed into aluminum at smelters.

Lunch was enjoyed in a nice park overlooking the river mouth, and next to an interesting cultural centre. The frangipani trees were in full bloom, both pink and white.

I learned a little more about the Estuarine Crocodile, they can live in both fresh and salt water, nesting taking place from December to April, with about 60 eggs being laid. This region is QLD has the best nesting habitat.

Moonlight creek was another photo opportunity. As a lot of the creeks are at this time of the year prior to the wet, it was quite dry, and this amazing assortment of roots was on show for us.

Finally we reached our destination, the Moreton Telegraph Station, and the camp fire was set up ready the "knees up" this evening.

I caught these three old farts doing what they like, having a yarn and a drink.

After dinner, we made our way to the "knees up" arena, where Arn played his guitar and serenaded us, and several of our fellow travelers told jokes, stories, and read poems they had composed.
A nice way to end our day, it was very pleasant sitting around a campfire.

Location:Burkuma Road,Yuendumu,Australia

Pressing northwards relentlessly.... said Arn this morning as we left the lovely Lotus Bird Lodge after yet another huge breakfast, including home made muesli and home made fruit salad. The owners and staff came out to hug us farewell, and stood waving as we set off down the drive.

Before we left, I managed to catch Arn near the flood marker. In April 2006, cyclone Monica came through. He is standing in the dining room, next to the dining table.

We went on to Coen, where in the grounds of the Heritage Centre, we enjoyed our morning smoko. We also discovered a bowerbird nest, and I was able to catch the bird in it for a photo shoot.

A visit to the quarantine station helped us to understand many of the pests, diseases and weeds that are just to the north of us, and how we must be vigilant to stop them coming into Australia.

Lunch was at the Archer River Roadhouse, the famous archerburger, and fruit that had all been grown on the property. It's a very picturesque river.

Weipa at last, and dinner on the deck, with a wonderful view of the setting sun.

- Posted from another day in Paradise

Location:Lui Street,Bamaga,Australia

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lotus Bird Lodge and surrounds

A most welcome later start today, breakfast at 7.30, instead of 7am! Another delicious one of course with home made bubble and squeak, made from extra veggies cooked last night.
This is our cabin, called Bowerbird, and the view from our patio this morning. The cabin is delightful, only complaint is that the bed is double and the pillow is too hard.....mmmm....have to note that on the feedback form:)

We all sit at one long table for our meals, which is rather nice, but even after one meal, people are heading to the same seats. We are such creatures of habit!

Our first scheduled activity today was a walk around the lagoon that surrounds this lovely property. By this morning, I realized I had actually hurt my foot in the fall yesterday, so I was limping slightly, but with a walking pole was able to manage.
The lagoon is lovely, and there are lots of birds here.

Straight after our walk, we were back in our coach, and off to the Lakefield National Park. Our first stop was the grassy savannah plains, which are dotted with magnetic termite mounds. They are everywhere, as far as the eye can see.

Morning tea was enjoyed on the banks of the Low Lake, we are always watchful for the crocs which we know inhabit these waters.

After a leisurely afternoon, when most of our group slept, we enjoyed a wonderful seafood dinner. It would be very easy to spend a couple more days in this peaceful place, enjoying the wonderful hospitality and congenial company, but we must move on tomorrow.

Location:Duyfken Crescent,Weipa,Australia