Friday Flowers: Boxing Day Grevilleas

Well, Christmas Day is over for another year, at least it is Down Under. For those still in the throes of presents, wrapping and food, I hope you’re having a great time.

It’s the Boxing Day holiday in Australia and it’s traditional for people to be at the beach on holidays, or watching the start of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race or the Boxing Day Test cricket. Our family on the other hand will just be hanging out and eating left-overs. Here in the Top End of Oz we’ve reached the Wet Season with mammoth storms, lightning and thunder…and a merciful drop in humidity. Today’s grevillea flowers are Australian natives, some seen in the bush, some cultivars, but uniquely different.

 

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DSC_2523DSC_0363DSC00360And just so you get an idea of what the rest of Australia might be doing here’s a sunny beach scene from Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.

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I hope these gorgeous flowers have brought sunshine to you this Friday.

Friday Flowers: Happy Christmas & Splendid Brachychitons

This magnificent tree is a Brachychiton which I photographed in Brisbane in early October. 

Wishing all my readers, wherever you are in the world, a very happy Christmas from the Top End of Down Under.19

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Friday Flowers: Kangaroo Paws

I’m not sure that “Kangaroo Paws” is an entirely appropriate name but that’s what these Australian native plants are called…as you can see they come in all colours. I have to admit I cheated with these as I took them in a plant nursery in Brisbane (not as focused as they should be though). DSC_2363DSC_2364DSC_2365I hope these gorgeous flowers have brought sunshine to you this Friday.

Sepia Saturday: Revisiting Expo Fun

Sepia Saturday 256On close reflection it seems that parades like the one featured in this week’s Sepia Saturday image seem to have been rather infrequent in my life, or else they haven’t been photographed. However the combination of festivities and whacky designs took me back to the fun days of Expo 88, an event which turned Brisbane on its head and changed it forever, I think. I wrote about how we all enjoyed it in an earlier Sepia Saturday post.

Today I’m going to share with you some of the whacky statues that were tucked around the site, awaiting discovery and generating a giggle or two.

The Expo site, now the South Bank precinct, was once a rather unsalubrious area of Brisbane with dry docks and inadequate housing. These particular characters are a nod to that past.

Expo 88003b Expo 88008b_edited-1Expo 88004bAnd then there were the site workers:

Expo 88002b Expo 88005bAnd the Aussie themes:

Expo 88001aExpo 88006a Expo 88006b Expo 88005aThe lifesavers:

Expo 88003aAnd the entertainers:

Expo 88002a Expo 88008aAnd sometimes balancing all the things to see and do was quite a challenge.Expo 88007a

If you’re wondering what happened to your favourite Expo Art you might find this Art Trail helpful. And to see some more of the whacky parades and people click here.

Why not parade over to Sepia Saturday and see what other festivities the Sepians have in store this week?

Shadow Shot Sunday: The ringer and the butcher bird

Australia really is a remarkable place with a wealth of amazing scenes, though I suppose the same could be said for most places. All that it requires is that we open our eyes to see the detail and beauty in what’s before us, wherever we are.

One of the stops on my road trip was Longreach which featured here in my A to Z posts.

It was nearly 20 years since we stopped to look at the Longreach Hall of Fame and as I had a friend with me this time, we prioritised a visit. Sadly we felt the venue needed updating to more multi-media interfaces but it’s still worth visiting to learn more about the outback, yet so much more could be made of it. We left towards the end of the day and I captured the shadows over the building and on the face of the ringer. It seems appropriate as if he’s heading back after a long day in the saddle.

Shadows lengthening Ringer Longreach_edited-1

Look closely and you’ll see that he seems to be carrying a butcher bird along as a pet. Pure chance that the bird landed just there as I was about to take the photo, and flew away straight afterwards. I like the contrast between his strength and the fragility of the bird.

The ringer and the butcher bird_edited-1

Check out the other amazing photos in Shadow Shot Sunday.

Shadow Shot Sunday

On the Road: Dawn Galahs in Winton

Another from our drive to Queensland back in June. These silly galahs were doing gymnastics on the power lines in Winton, and in the trees, at first light, just a touch before sun up. These are the benefits of having to be on the road early.

Galahs at dawn Winton_edited-1It’s hard not to smile when you see these birds in their pink and grey feathers as they are always so exuberant. I love the light of sunrise on their feathers.

Silly galahs

On the Road: Triple Road Trains

Lined up at Camooweal, these big guys are best seen stationary. They’re scary critters, with their 176ft length, 115 tonnes and triple trailers. It takes a bit of getting used to passing them at 130kph (our legal speed limit) and you want to make sure you have plenty of clear distance and good visibility. Fortunately the drivers are generally very courteous and will sometimes indicate when it’s safe to pass, but still and all, make your own judgements.

Camooweal road training
Here are some official tips to pass them.

Passport to April

My friend Crissouli wanted to know where she could get her passport stamped after completing our Top End tour in the A to Z challenge. So I thought I’d put together a collage of some of the month’s pictures.

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Once again a HUGE thank you to the many people who visited during April and supported me in this challenge…it’s your encouraging comments that helped keep me going. I do hope you also enjoyed yourselves along the way. Good on ya, mate!

And if you really want a passport stamp this might suffice.

A to Z supporter_edited-1

T is for Tropical Rainforests

a-to-z-letters-t Over the past few weeks we’ve been focused on the far north of Australia, especially the Northern Territory and the Kimberley in Western Australia. This part of the country experiences heavy rains during the summer months (usually December-March) and almost completely dry weather in the Dry (May-August).

For the Wet months of the year the country looks fresh and green and lush, but come the drier months, it quickly becomes steadily browner. For all the rain, you aren’t seeing tropical rainforest, rather tropical savannahs.P1000789

Over on the eastern coast in far north Queensland (FNQ), the story is different, especially north of Cairns where we’ll be heading today. This is tropical rainforest, lush, green and thick vegetation, one of 200 globally important eco-regions. The Daintree is a world-renowned touring location for Wet Tropics and with fewer and fewer rainforests world-wide is extremely important.

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What this means for the tourist is a completely different experience of scenery, flora and fauna. While many world travellers come to see the Barrier Reef, the tropical rainforests are a great complement to that adventure.P1000783

The green of the jungle runs down to the water’s edge merging with shades of blue and turquoise, interspersed only by sandy beaches.  You don’t really need to do a tour of the area, unless you feel you really want to. A normal hire car will get you to most of the important places, but do make sure not to wander into the 4WD area only! There are lots of places you can explore without the 4WD vehicle.P1000760

The Daintree Discovery Centre with its aerial walkways and boardwalks is amazing, with a wealth of information about the wildlife which live in the rainforest and the plants that grow there. If you’re into nature you will inevitably need more time than you think. Check out the web link just to get a preliminary insight.P1000785

Cape Tribulation is a tranquil spot where the rainforest really does meet the sea. While you’re nearby a trip to the tropical fruit farm is an eye-opener. If you get a chance do try an ice cream made from the unusual tropical fruits. Or spend a night or two just relaxing in the area and communing with nature. There are some very glamorous places to stay.

Where the rainforest meets the reef nearing dusk.

Where the rainforest meets the reef nearing dusk.

We visited Mossman Gorge quite a number of years ago and just loved the sight of the river running over the huge boulders. We had afternoon tea overlooking the river –just delightful.SCAN1086

This area has a strong Aboriginal heritage too and there’s quite a lot of opportunities for travellers to learn more about Indigenous culture.

Take a steam train trip on the Kuranda scenic railway.

Take a steam train trip on the Kuranda scenic railway.

Closer to Cairns you can also see the rainforest by taking the Skyrail up to the ranges then perhaps coming back down via the Kuranda steam train, a fun adventure for all ages.

Why visit: to see one of the world’s great rainforest areas, to experience nature and see the flora and fauna. Enjoy the contrast between the sea, the sky and the sand.

A humorous take on avoiding cassowaries.

A humorous take on avoiding cassowaries.

TODAY’S AUSSIE-ISMS

A cassowary at Crocodylus Park, Darwin. These birds with vicious claws are native to the Daintree.

A cassowary at Crocodylus Park, Darwin. These birds with vicious claws are native to the Daintree.

Tinnie: this can be a beer can or a small aluminium boat for fishing.

Tong Master: the bloke in charge of the BBQ -usually the man in the house. In this context it’s almost 100% likely to be a man, surrounded by other blokes, beers in hand. Thanks Kellie for reminding me of this one 🙂

 Ticker: another dual meaning. It can mean heart as in “my ticker’s playing up” or courage in “he’s got a lot of ticker”

Too easy: Another new one which is in common use by Territory tradies. It’s the equivalent of “no worries” or “no problems”.

Togs: this is the Queensland name for a swimsuit –one of the words which differentiates people from different states.

 Trackie daks: tracksuit pants

Technicolour yawn: to vomit

 Thongs: rubber scuffs for your feet, as well as more recently the rather brief ladies’ underwear.

Tucker: food

L is a long reach into Queensland

RIDING RIGHT ON INTO QUEENSLAND TO…. (in the words of a Ted Egan song)

Brolgas near Avon Downs © Pauleen Cass 2011

Brolgas near Avon Downs © Pauleen Cass 2011

Just for once, today we’re going to head east from the Northern Territory, into Queensland (Qld). Our drive will take us 1000 klicks down the Stuart Highway where perhaps you overnighted at the Three Ways or the Barkly Homestead. Next morning you can take a left turn and head east across  the long open stretch of savannah grasslands that is the Barkly Tableland.

If you like bird-watching, keep an eye out for billabongs and rivers…on our last trip we saw several brolgas who honked madly (strange sound) as they flew away. You’ll be very glad to see those Qld-NT border signs and the rather quaint little town of Camooweal with its old store and the local pub with its wide-verandahs, not to mention that boring old fuel stop and facilities break.

Refueled and revitalised you can now journey on the next stage into the outback towns of Queensland but maybe you’ll want another overnighter: Mt Isa (mining) or Cloncurry? I’m always intrigued to see the similarity between some of the rock formations near Cloncurry and those around Alice Springs. I wonder what ancient geographical event produced those similarities between places so distant from each other?

Taken just south of Cloncurry, Qld this is so evocative of central Oz and the Kimberley.

Taken just south of Cloncurry, Qld this is so evocative of central Oz and the Kimberley. From a distance it can look like a pointillist painting.

Which all begs the question, where are we going and why? Why Longreach of course!

And what’s the big deal about Longreach?

 L is for LONGREACH

Longreach has several claims to fame. As a family historian it’s important to me because my Irish McSherry family lived there for a number of years and I’ve recently learned my great-grandfather was instrumental (ha ha) in establishing the Longreach Brass Band, not to mention the Hibernian Society.

Mr Cassmob has a fascination with flying boats since he flew on Catalinas ex Samarai in the 1960s.

Mr Cassmob has a fascination with flying boats since he flew on Catalinas ex Samarai in the 1960s.

Of course none of you could remotely care about that, but there are plenty of reasons for the tourist to stop for a day or two in Longreach. It’s the place where Australia’s iconic national airline, QANTAS (Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service) was established. There’s now a wonderful museum/centre there which if you’re an aviation fiend, you will find riveting. Judging on the queues, the possibility of touring through the on-ground Boeing 747 and 707 is a major attraction for the non-aviation-nuts.

The replica de Havilland D50...isn't she pretty? You can read more here http://www.qfom.com.au/dh50.html

The replica de Havilland D50…isn’t she pretty? You can read more here http://www.qfom.com.au/dh50.html

The other massively important place to visit is the Stockman’s Hall of Fame. If you’ve ever been intrigued by the outback and its legends, or want to learn more about the people who helped develop the outback, this is the place for you. When we first visited nearly 20 years ago we’d been listening to tapes (yes, I know!) of Ted Egan, the Territory’s balladeer as well as former Administrator (think Governor). It was sort of weird to recognise the stories of all these famous stockmen, and women, and then to hear his songs in some of the theatres. One of his great stories is about famous stockman and cattle thief, Harry Redmond aka Captain Starlight. It’s a great yarn which you can read a bit more about here if you’re so inclined.

The Stockman's Hall of Fame in Longreach, Qld

The Stockman’s Hall of Fame in Longreach, Qld

Peter McSherry BW-1And while you’re in Longreach, why not have a look at the old railway station – you might even see Peter McSherry’s ghost.

Why visit: to get a real sense of the Australian outback as you travel vast distances and then to learn how those distances were overcome by the early settlers and aviators.

 FYI: There are a couple of maps on my A to Z planning post which will help you to pinpoint where today’s tourist spots are situated, except in this case where I changed my mind about the post. Longreach is very roughly where a line drawn down from the word “Queensland” and across from “Northern Territory” would meet.

TODAY’S AUSSIE-ISMS

Lip : no, not those kissing things on your mouth! Rather someone who gives a lot of cheek or is impertinent. Eg Don’t give me any lip young man (to a small boy)

Long drink of water: again, not what you’d think….this means a tall, skinny person. He was a long drink of water.

Lucky legs: someone with legs so skinny they look like they’ll break off in which case they’re lucky….(have I mentioned how rude Aussie vernacular is?)

Long paddock: the long stretches of grasses outside the fences of properties or cattle stations, public property, used to feed cattle when on the move but especially in times of drought and a way of keep the animals alive.

Long grassers: rather a Northern Territory special this one. Long grassers are homeless people who live in the bush or parks around the place. The consistently warm weather here means they don’t need to huddle in doorways as they do in colder climates, except perhaps when it’s pouring with rain. It’s also important to know that Australia has public benefits ($, housing, health) which make it (comparatively) unnecessary for people to live this way but as with other places you will find surprising people living rough…”there but for the grace of God”.

Laid back: supposed to be the definition of an Aussie, along with their speech which is laconic. Actually Aussies are nowhere near as laid back and lackadaisical as their reputation suggests -surely all those British employers of Aussie backpackers can’t be wrong <smile>

 Larrikin: Someone who’s often up to mild mischief, fun and cheeky.

 Lead foot: Plenty of these in the Northern Territory where we used to have an open speed limit on the distance roads. Even now our speed limit there is 130kph compared with the max elsewhere of 110.

Lair: Someone who dresses to get attention,  a “flash Harry”,

Lousy: nothing to do with bugs, this is someone who is mean with money or goods. “He wouldn’t give you 20 cents he’s so lousy”.

Leak: to urinate (men), regularly heard among the blokes at the bar.

 Limp fish: weak ….he’s got a handshake like a limp fish.

I wonder where the letter M will take us on Monday?