Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Magical Whitsundays

Magical Whitsundays.
We were all up real early excited about our boat trip. I had prepared a huge bowl of tropical fruit salad for our breakfast, we had mango melon, mandarin, banana, papaya and passionfruit, really yummy, with yoghurt and a sprinkle of muesli to top it all off.
There were a surprisingly large number of people waiting at the camp office to be picked up by the bus to take us to the Reef Jet, at 7.30am. The day is going to be just perfect, the sky is all over blue and the sun shining brilliantly already.
The Reef Jet is a large catamaran with three deck levels, it is licensed to carry 70 passengers and today they have 68 the most they have ever had; and we thought a Monday morning would be the quietest day! We were welcomed on board and offered a wetsuit at $7 a head so we could go scuba diving or snorkelling, without being stung by stinger jellyfishes, when we get out to Border Island, the three of us declined, we didn’t want to do either, though we may swim, and we also doubt whether there would be and stingers in the water this late in the season, but what do we know. Everybody else did hire a wet suit. We were all served a hot cup of coffee with cake, as the boat roared out of the harbour and towards the islands in the distance.
It was so beautiful as we headed out towards the Whitsunday passage, with the sun sparkling on the water, which was lovely and calm.
The crew of the Reef Jet were all very young, in their twenties except for the captain of the boat, we can’t speak highly enough about the service and kind treatment, always with a friendly smile, they have been well trained, even though none of them had been with the company long, 4 months seemed to be the longest anyone had worked on-board..
Most of the passengers were young tourists we, and a couple of others are the oldies on board, and somehow the crew seemed to treat us like their special pets, we got all the best treatment and perks.
Took us couple of hours or so to get out to Border Island where all the young ones were going to snorkel and scuba, we were taken to sheltered bay where there is lots of pretty coral and plenty of colourful fishes.

Once all of the swimmers had gone overboard to observe all the sea life, the crew dragged down the inflatable dinghy from the roof and invited us oldies to come out in the dinghy and use special periscope things, which you press into the water and look down into. The view was amazing and magical, thousands of multi coloured fish skittering everywhere not only tiny fish but some huge fish too, I wanted a fishing rod so I could catch one; but no we were not allowed to fish. These are tame fish, fed every day by the boat people. There was so much colour in the coral too and we could see giant clams and lots of wavering kelp fronds, so pretty, we stayed looking as long as they allowed us to. We drifted in between all the young folk swimming with their snorkels and wetsuits; the biggest fish of all.
(These photos are not mine, I have no underwater camera, they are just from the net.)
Once everyone was back on board we headed to Hook Island and anchored in a sheltered cove while we all enjoyed a feast from the buffet set up on the sunny deck; a cold meats and many salads and breads type meal that was very enjoyable, though it took a very long time to feed 68 passengers.

After the buffet we headed for possibly the best part of the trip, Whitehaven Beach with its sparkling white fine powdery sand and shallow waters, so very pretty, and crowded too, we were not the only folk there, many boats and helicopters and a light plane, were lined up along the shore. The crew told everyone that they would have to wade into shore as the water was too shallow to get really close to the beach, we watched them all throw themselves over into the waist deep water and decided we would stay on board as Daphne had no swimming suit with her. But when the crew realised that we were staying on board, they dragged down from the roof again, the inflatable dinghy and rowed us and the other older ladies in so we only got our feet wet. Erle and I were delighted as we really wanted to have a swim in the warm tropical water, didn’t take us long to don our suits and have a great swim in the shallow water, no talk of stinger jellyfish now. Daphne enjoyed sitting in the warm sand watching everybody and us else frolic, pity she didn’t bring her swimsuit, but she is having a wonderful day just like we are.

The Reef Jet is behind me.

A professional photographer wandered around among us all taking many photos, even of us, probably the first time we have been professionally posed, we didn’t end up buying any of the beach shots, but I will remember how to do the poses in the future.
After the 2 happy hours on Whitehavens lovely white sands everyone was called back on board, and the inflatable was brought to shore for us spoiled oldies.
We raved to the young crew about what a great day we’d had as we enjoyed another cup of coffee with them, and they told us, its not over yet, more fun things to do yet……..

Saturday, June 26, 2010

last of the sunset.

Last of the sunset Shingley Beach Marina, Airley Beach.
Check out this meme for many hundreds more wonderful sky shots.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Road trip to Airley Beach

Whitsunday Islands here we come!
All of us were up nice and early, after breakfast Daphne suddenly decided to pack herself a bag and come along too, we just threw our luggage in the boot along with the chillybin and were off. Erle driving, Daphne was very quiet in the back, she didn’t like being forced to go on holiday, but about an hour into the trip she had thought of how this short break with family, was a real treat not a punishment, and so she started to cheer up and enjoy the trip. The drive was just over 3 hours long and we keep moving fast all the way so as to be able to acquire good accommodation in Airley Beach at a Camping ground, as we wanted a 2 room cabin we thought we had better get there early before all were let out.
As we drove, there was a huge storm brewing layer after layer of big black clouds raced past or did we race under them? Maybe a bit of both, some rain did fall but nothing too much.
There was a nice fruit stall near Bowen selling Mango Melons, a large smooth skin bright yellow fruit that is very juicy and yellow fleshed, we just couldn’t resist the delicious taste of mangoes, so I bought a large Melon to go with all the other fruit and some passionfruit as well, it will be fruit salads for breakfast each day! If you ever get the chance to try a Yellow Mango Melon do so they are the most superior melons there are I think they might only grow around this area.
By time we got to Airley Beach the sun had broken through and it was a lovely sunny day.
As we drove into Airely Beach we saw that a Market day was in progress, so we stopped and had a wander around, tasting wine at one stall and sweets at another and buying some Lady Finger Bananas, the best there are., then we came to the man selling hot spit-roasted beef sandwiches which we all decided would be just perfect for lunch. We took our sandwiches and sat on the edge of the beach to gobble them all up.
I could hardly believe my eyes when a string of Camels all dressed with saddles and passengers, ambled past us. I love to ride Camels, so I just had to jump up and take a photo of them, I wished to have a ride too but we really need to find our accommodation for the night so I let the moment pass.
It took 2 attempts to find a 2 room cabin but we ended up at Island Gateway camp and we couldn’t have found a better place, they make a feature of the local birds and attract them by having feeding stations around the camp, I saw hundred of Lorikeets being fed, very noisy and a bit messy but it looked wonderful as the birds are so colourful. Palm trees and many amenities, like a pool and tennis courts, surrounded our cabin in a real nature wonder land. We broke out the duty free rum to toast such a great place to stay.
As there was an electric frying pan and a microwave in the cabin it was decided we would cook for ourselves tonight. A small shopping centre was just down the road so we set out on a buying expedition to get dinner supplies, beef rissoles, mushrooms, sweet potatoes (kumaras) and a big bag of salad greens and tomatoes. Plus we decided a bottle of wine to celebrate being away together; all of this came out of $15 so a great dinner cost only $5 a head with wine! Prices are quite reasonable in Australia; it would cost more in New Zealand I felt. Tasted wonderful and Daphne who thought she couldn’t eat anything found that she managed to eat as much as we did and enjoy every mouthful, she is so much better and happier already. Postcard of Airlie Beach township, and hillside buildings.

We decided to have a rest day in Airley Beach tomorrow and to book a full day boat trip out to the Islands for the following day, a good scheme, it gave us a chance to explore the small town and have a good look around while still taking it all easy.

We have booked to go out in the Reef Jet to three different Islands tomorrow, its going to be so great, the weather is expected to be fine and sunny and calm; good one. Not particularly cheap but with dinner and snacks all day its should be good value’ and we get the Seniors discount!
More wine was purchased for tonight plus a big pack of pork chops for dinner with all the rest of our vegetables, was extra good. Once again we got dinner for $5 a head!
We noticed with surprise that the local taxis all had advertisements painted on their sides, not something we are used to.
I went out after dinner to have a little flutter at the poker machines in the local hotel, and won a small jackpot, it made my lovely day even better, to come home with more cash than I went out with.

Friday, June 18, 2010


.Dusk, Whitsunday Island. The calm of the evening after a beautiful day.

Do check out some more lovely sky views from around the world.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Off to Townsville Australia.

My World Meme It is hosted by Klaus, Sandy, Wren, Sylvia and Fishing Guy, please check out lots of other worlds.

Off to Townsville
Leaving Surfers paradise was a bit of a mission; because the street was completely blocked we were not able to walk just next door with our luggage to the bus station. We were forced to call a taxi to take us right around a big block and back up the street to the meet the bus. We could have walked the suitcases around I suppose as they are on wheels but it was just too far. As taxi drivers ourselves we were very embarrassed to ask the poor driver to just take us next door. He didn’t even bother to put his meter on, he said just give him what we think it is worth, so we paid him what we would charge back in NZ for the same distance, but no tip as he didn’t go the way we asked him to, taking the long way round wasn’t in the equation for us.
We quite enjoyed the hour-long bus trip to Brisbane airport, relaxing in the sunshine, not having to drive. There is a 4 lane highway all the way, a toll road and quite new I think, a good fast highway.
Landed in Townsville on a lovely warm sunny day, Daphne, Erle’s sister was there waiting to pick us up, lovely to see her and be taken back to her cosy flat in the suburb of Roselea. Daphne has fairly recently retired and has not been too well of late, we found her quite down and depressed and lonely and unhappy, all that will change! We shall make it!
We all relaxed and chatted over duty free whisky and a bottle of wine for me, catching up on a years absence. Daphne has plans for entertaining us tomorrow, we are going visiting an old friend that Erle also knows, I don’t but that is not a problem, I can get on with nearly everybody. Michal turned out to be a Yugoslavian native though he has been in Australia a long time, we all got on well for the morning. He showed us around his big garden and plucked a ripe Papaya from his tree and gave it to me, I might be his friend for life as a just love fresh ripe papaya, we shall all have it for breakfast for most of the rest of our holiday. Showed us his ride on mower his prized possession, but wouldn’t let us ride on it!
Michal’s home is a genuine old ‘Queenslander’ built high above the ground on poles, to keep the house cooler and free of snakes and other nasty things, he has made his den in the lower ground floor of this house, he said he only cooks and sleeps upstairs as it is so much cooler downstairs and his dog lives down there too, we found it rather comfortable there too.

Views from the top of Castlehill in Townsville. Towards Magnetic island.
And over the city,

Daphne then drove us around Castlehill to a lookout over the city, nice views from up there, right over the city of Townsville and out to Magnetic Island.

Once we were back home again we told her to pack herself a bag for a four day holiday in Airlie Beach, The Whitsundays cause we were taking her for a short break away.. She wasn’t at all keen, quite happy to lend us her car so we could go, but that was not what we wanted so we twisted her arm and forced the issue, and said we were all leaving in the morning whatever. I had to pack up some food from Daphne’s fridge as she wasn’t going to, so into the eskee chillybin went the papaya, bananas, yogurt, weetbix, butter, marmite, ham and tomatoes, and bread, that should pretty well cover all the breakfasts for us all plus the milk and coffee jar.
We shall be leaving by 10am in the morning – all of us!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

filling our days in Surfers.

Filling our days in Surfers Paradise
We never intended to do very much while in Surfers Paradise, we just wanted to blob out on the beach and relax, so that is basically what we did. Wandering down to the beach to stroll along the squeaky sand and people watch most days, and as we passed several gaming halls I was kept happy too, playing a few coins and winning back many more, we just what I had in mind for this week, we are just not theme park kind of people, we love to swim but the idea of a hyper super slide made us feel quite ill, so we found other smaller treats to enjoy.
Every day as we walked through the nearby Mall a nice Asian lady would paint one of my finger nails, just a tester, each day she painted a different image , like flowers, butterflies, stars, so I ended up with most of my nails painted; each one different!
We did have a lovely day at Carrara Markets a really huge largely under cover market place full of small stalls full of everything you can think of. We seemed to dash between all the food stalls, mainly the wonderful and new to us Greek food, there is a custardy pie made with filo pastry we simply loved! Dolmades are also yummy. Didn’t need any lunch that day and not much dinner either.

We also spent a day at Pacific Fair a huge in fact the biggest in Australia market place with over 350 small shops with lots of food outlets too, but no Greek food fortunately! As this day was hot we found the icecream sellers more interesting.

We also spent a great (for me; not Erle) day at Jupiter’s Casino where I managed to play most of the day and only lose less than $5.00, I feel so lucky everything I touch seems to win at the moment, love the feeling.Every day we made for the big spa pool and as we had it to ourselves we could swim in the warm fizzy waters to our hearts content.

The best day we had was the day Erle’s son Gregor and grand daughter Emily came to visit us, we had so much to catch up on as I had only met Emily once before when she was a shy 5 year old now she is a delightful young women. They stayed to go out to dinner with us at the RSL Club, the meals there were superb inexpensive and delicious, a great evening was had by all of us I think. Gregor took this lovely photo of the two of us in a strange iron chair out on the street when we all walked down to Wendy's to buy icecreams to finish our evening off sweetly.I had hoped to be able to visit a dear friend who had just had an operation on her knee but were unable to, however we had a lovely chat on the phone. Next time we will meet up when she is not so incapacitated.

We also had to fun of watching repairs being made to the bulging building wall, from our birds eye veiw, watching the very tall crane was interesting to us and we could do so while enjoying a glass of cool wine from the safety of our balcony. We were never in any real danger.

I am not a big shopper so we only window-shopped as we wandered around the streets, fielding off Estate agents wishing to sell us apartment s in various sky- scrapper both new and old; some of them quite affordable too, but hardly buying anything, a good cheap holiday really.
Queensland Apartment buildings are all actually owned by some big conglomerate or other, but each separate apartment is privately owned from the conglomerate and are furnished and maintained to their standard of personal taste and their bank balance., then the appartments are let out to tourists like us while the owners don't wish to be in them. We feel the folk who owned our rooms were not rich at all and didn’t use the rooms often, there was not a single extra item beside the basically required things in it and lots of painting and repairs were needed, we asked for the three light bulbs that were not working to be replaced, and they were but we just managed with what was there otherwise, we used dining table chairs outside on the balcony as there was nothing else.
All too soon our 7 days were over and we were preparing for the move to Townsville and the rest of our holiday.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sunset among the sky scrappers of SurfersParadise.

SkyWatch for this week is Surfers Paradise for me, do check out many more lovely skies from around the globe.
These pretty sunsets between the sky scrappers took our eye, on different days. Fascinating to people who do not have a sky scrapper in sight usually.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Danger in Surfers paradise.

Danger at Surfers paradise
: Second day.

This morning we decided to go shopping and stock up with food for the rest of the week that we could easily prepare for ourselves, mainly breakfasts and lunches as we had already discovered the RSL (Returned Serviceman’s League} Club across the street where meals are very reasonable and very good.
So, loaded up with big bags of goodies from the supermarket we headed back to the Islander apartment. We ran into the Manager of the building standing at the base of the Backpacker’s part of the building with his arms out stretched around the corner of the 12 story brick building sort of holding it up and stopping it falling on anybody! He said ‘Go back. Go back. Cross over the street and walk that way, there are issues here. It could be catastrophic just catastrophic, the whole building could fall into the street any moment’ He was panicking big time.

( If you look just above the man in the white shirt, there is a white sign on the wall, the bulge goes right through the sign, on the black part of the wall, it can be seen if you enlarge this photo. Top photo shows the appartment block we were on the 8th floor of and the Vegas in Paradise gambling rooms I frequented sometimes.)

Far too curious about what was wrong to heed his advice we demanded to know what was the problem, so he showed us where the wall was starting to bulge along the front. The bulge can be seen in my photo if you know where to look but it is hard to spot. Having seen the bulge we walked smartly across the road and into our part of the building, wondering about how safe we might actually be should that wall crash into the street. Soon after a few road cones were placed across the pavement to stop people walking past, but the road was not closed to traffic.

The next day we went to observe how the bulge in the wall was. By now the bulge how grown and several bricks had broken along the line of the bulge, a few more road cones appeared on the pavement, but back packers living in the building were not evacuated.
We watched from a safe distance how this wall slowly became worse over the days, til finally on the 5th day after the bulge started four Police cars arrived with lights and sirens blaring to block of the busy street. They stayed all day and all night before they were replaced with other security people to guard the area and keep sightseers away. A very big crane arrived that could reach right to the top of the building, it had a big red basket on wires within which a group of building inspectors were carried up to the top to inspect how much damage had been done. They checked extremely well every brick, virtually, while they were deciding how to approach the fixing of the problem.
The news and TV men arrived to watch all the action and report upon it, the papers and TV were full of it that evening.

It appears that the damage was only in the three foot strip across the wall that we could see, and maybe lower down too. Subsidence had occurred beneath the corner of the building where a stream used to flow, years ago, very heavy rain had fall over the previous month and the area had scoured out. The inspectors decided to pin most of the brick to the concrete backing then slowly remove all the broken bricks and replace them. Ofcause they will have to fill in the subsidence beneath the building too, but I am not sure how this will be done or how it will be stopped from happening again.
We were absolutely safe at all times, but I quickly got online to leave messages on my facebook page to let family in Australia and back home that all was ok with us.