Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Toowoomba, Queensland

Toowoomba with a population of around 115,000 is a city in the Darling Downs area of Queensland. With over 150 public parks and gardens it is  affectionately known as the Garden City. Toowoomba's history dates back to the mid 1800's when the English botanist and explorer discovered 4 million acres of  it's rich farming and grazing countryside. Our Saturday night was an extremely cold night spent at the PBR Bull Riding. It was a fun night watching fifty bull riders from Australia and one from Brazil tackle the very angry, very big and very mean bulls for a very long eight seconds.

Australia's history consists a lot of the travels of the Cobb and Co. wagons, so it was natural that we visited the Cobb and Co. Museum. Not only did the museum consist of a number of historic wagons there were a few other exhibits and special events.

The exhibition A Room for Wild Animals features 20 large and very impressive taxidermy specimens of big cats, bears and deer from the Queensland Museum collection.

Another special exhibition was Let Me Be Myself - The Life Story of Anne Frank. Seeing her personal story from her birth in 1929 to her death in 1945 and her story during the second World War in photos made me remember how sad I feel about her life. I was once again so engrossed in her story I forgot to take any photos.

I had previously read about a couple of the gardens in Toowoomba that I really wanted to visit. Situated in the grounds of the Southern University of Queensland are the Ju Raku En - Japanese Gardens. Designed by Professor Kinsaku Nakane of Kyoto in 1989 consist of 3 kms of paths, 230 species of Japanese and Australian native trees and plants.

The other garden I wanted to visit was the State Rose Garden. Located in historic Newton Park these spectacular gardens have more than 1,500 roses planted. With most of them having a beautiful smell it was quite a delight roaming around.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Blackbutt, Queensland

Well it certainly wasn't a very long distance to get to this destination - 61km. Why would we only travel this far, because we wanted to. We did stop off at the little town of Yaraman for a pretty yummy brunch of scones, jam and cream.
Mmmmm Yummy Brunch
The township we are in for 3 nights is called Blackbutt named after the Eucalyptus Pilularis Tree or Blackbutt Tree. The town was established back around the early 1800's when farms were established in the area. A population growth happened in the late 19th century when as with many Australian towns gold was discovered. Blackbutt now has a population of just over 1000 and to me has a little bit of an alternative feel to it with a few shops selling crystals, incense product and art. I have been looking for a small lamp for in Myrtle and I found this little salt lamp that has a tiny LED lamp in it that changes colours. For those out there interested in tennis this is where the Aussie tennis legend Roy Emerson was born.

The Hotel Radnor was built around 1908 - 1912 and was initially was named "The Grand". According to stories the hotel was renamed "Hotel Radnor" after the owner's dog that was killed in 1935.

 The main street is quite pretty with a couple of great old buildings framed by some glorious flowers.

We are staying at the Blackbutt showgrounds which we thought would be quiet but a Motorhome club are having a few day getaway here, but they have been pretty quiet. We are finding showgrounds are a great place to stay being a bit cheaper than caravan parks and usually have old but really clean amenities. Have any travellers out there stayed in any Showgrounds? If so, I'd love to hear about them.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Journey to Kingaroy

After a few days without Internet coverage I am now in a town called Kingaroy and I'm able to catch up on where I've been. After leaving Mackay our first nights stop was at the St Lawrence Recreation Grounds. The recreation grounds are run by volunteers and they kept the amenities block the cleanest I have ever seen for a rec ground. These grounds are situated next to a vast wetlands that had literally thousands of Magpie Geese.When I walked down to have a look I was also greeted by 22 Grey Kangaroos. This amazing sight was quite a bonus.

The big boy and one of his girls

Thousands of Magpie Geese

The next day it was off to a very tiny settlement called Dululu. As we pulled in I thought this spot was a bit ordinary, but as it turned out it was quite a nice quiet bush setting for the night.

Our next night was another free camp in Mulgildie, another tiny township. But this time we were literally camped in the car park of the Mulgildie Pub. The camp was free but seeing we were at a pub we decided to have dinner there and it was very tasty.

We are now in Kingaroy which is known as the "Peanut Capital of Australia"because Australia's largest peanut processing plant is located in the town and the peanut silos dominate the skyline.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Mackay, Queensland

Mackay is situated on Australia's east coast about 950 kilometres north of the Queensland capital Brisbane. With a population in excess of 120,000 people it's quite a big city. Mackay is nicknamed the sugar capital of Australia as the region produces more than a third of Australia's cane sugar. As soon as you get out of the CBD and suburbs the sugar cane fills the fields. Another industry that Mackay relies on is coal. Coal reserves of central Queensland is the single largest coal reserve in Australia, with 34 operational coal mines extracting more than 100 million tonnes annually. While much of the coal is used in Australia a lot is shipped to Japan and China from Mackay. Standing on the breakwater I could see at least 15 container ships waiting out in the ocean for their turn to come into the dock to be loaded.
The very long Mackay breakwater

This Prawn Trawler was returning from  a night of fishing
The CBD of Mackay is quite nice sitting on the banks of the picturesque Pioneer River, but the thing that grabbed me was the outstanding collection of Art Deco architecture constructed in the early 20th century. Art Deco is an art style which was popular from the 1920's until the 1940's.

Pioneer River
Chaseley House - 1937

Ambassador Hotel - 1937

Australian Hotel - 1940

A row of very interesting buildings 

Parish Hall, another interesting building
 At the caravan park we are staying there are literally hundreds of ducks. We have never seen these types of ducks before, but after asking at the office and doing some research we now know they are the Plumed Whistler Duck. There are also quite a few Plovers with their little babies but they are just a bit to quick for me to get a photo - but I will keep trying.

This is only a tiny portion of the ducks

The Plumed Whistler Duck

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Airlie Beach

I have been to Airlie once before but it was under totally different circumstances. Quite a number of years ago I came up here with my daughter Rachel where we had a great Mother/Daughter 10 days in Airlie Beach and Long Island which is one of the Whitsunday Islands. Things have changed since then but it is still a great place to visit. The caravan park we are staying at is out of town a bit so we are out of the hustle and bustle. The only problem is there are midges or sandflies here and they like to eat me. We have been doing a bit is sightseeing as there are so many beautiful beaches. One day we headed into Proserpine as Shane was there back when he was at school and wanted to see it again. Proserpine is surrounded by sugar cane fields and I would say this is its main industry. After driving around and stopping off at the local bakery, which had been recommended, we drove out to Lake Proserpine and the Peter Faust Dam. Lake Proserpine is stocked regularly with Barramundi fingerling and is renowned for its one metre Barra, but of course we didn't have our fishing gear with us.

Peter Faust Dam
Looking out in the water we could see lots of black marks.
 It turned out to be a mass of Cormorants feeding on a school of small fish

On the way back to Airlie Beach we stopped off to have a look at Conway Beach and Cedar Creek Falls. Conway Beach was a pretty location although the beach had a lot of weed along it from the incoming tides.

Conway Beach
Cedar Creek Falls weren't flowing very much due the this area not having much rainfall lately. But the swimming hole at the base of the falls was a delightful little swimming area. As its school holidays there were quite a few families taking advantage of the water.

Suck a lovely swimming hole at the base of Cedar Creek Falls

Another beach we have driven out to see is Dingo Beach which turned out to be a beautiful beach. As stinging jelly fish (stingers) are a problem when the water gets warm the beach had an enclosed netted area for people to swim in. Talking to the guy in the local cafe, he said that they rarely get stingers here. He also said, "we don't have any crocodiles because the Sharks have eaten then or maybe we don't have sharks because the crocs have eaten them". So between the stingers, crocs and sharks I'm certainly not going for a swim. But I did walk down and put my feet in the water and it was the warmest beach water I have ever felt. Does that mean there could be stingers - oh well I'm not testing out that theory.

Another amazing view from Dingo Beach

I did put my feet in the water and it was the warmest water I have ever felt

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Whitsundays, Queensland

The Whitsundays, oh what a magnificent part of the world. While we are staying at Airlie Beach for a while we just had to get out into the islands. So yesterday was the day to cruise out amongst the most amazing scenery anyone could hope to see. The transfer bus picked us up at 7.15am at the front of the caravan park for our 5 minute transfer to Shute Harbour to board our vessel MV2001.

Looking down on Shute Harbour
After heading out through Whitsunday Passage we stopped just off Black Island, also known as Bali Hai' mainly for the tourists as the name Black Island wasn't attractive. At Black Island we were given the option of doing some snorkelling just off the beach or spending some time in the glass bottom boat. Even though I do love snorkelling I decided to go in the boat with Shane. Between you and me I wish I had had gone with the snorkelling, but it was still beautiful gliding over the various types of coral and exotic tropical fish. 

Heading out through Whitsunday Passage was stunning


more Coral
Then it was back to MV2001 for a lovely cold meat and salad buffet. With that we then headed to Whitsunday Island for a lovely walk through the National Park and onto the most amazing view I have ever seen in my life. As I came along the path over a small rise the view that was in front of me literally took my breath away. The lookout had an amazing view over the famous Whitehaven Beach, which was voted the best beach in the world - yes the world for 2015. The colour of the water was various shades from the most intense to a mellow shade of turquoise and the sand was the whitest of white I have ever seen.
The most amazing view I have ever seen
Then it was back to the boat, but there was still something I had to do. Even though the walk was quite tiring I just had to turn right and head down to Whitehaven Beach to walk in that stunning sand and maybe go in the water. The walk to the beach was only 50 metres and then once again my breath was taken away with the sight of the white sand and beyond it the luminescent, turquoise water. The sand is actually 98% Silica and it is wonderful for exfoliating your skin and cleaning your jewellery. I did rub it over my skin but didn't have any jewellery on to clean. As I thought I couldn't resist it and had to get in the water. It was nice and warm and I could have stayed there much longer than I did but I had to get back to the other side of the island to get the transfer dingy back to the MV2001.

Walking out onto Whitehaven Beach

The water was just to enticing to resist
Once back on board we we treated to afternoon tea which consisted of cheese, various cabana types of meat, dips, lots of fruit and cakes and tea and coffee. I must say the food on our three island cruise was pretty good. Then it was off to Daydream Island for an 1 1/2 hour stop to do whatever. We had met a nice couple on the cruise so we all decided to sit by the pool and have a drink. Daydream Island Resort has a living reef pool meandering throughout the grounds. The pool had a shark, a shovel nose shark, several stingrays, lots of very ugly sea cucumbers and numerous types of tropical fish.

Just a couple of the tropical fish in the Living Reef
Then it was back onto the vessel where we were greeted by a cocktail for each adult and then off on  our trip back to Shute Harbour. We arrived back on the mainland at around 5.00pm

The perfect sunset on a perfect day
Even though we were pretty tired after our big day we were both so glad we did it as it was an amazing  day.