Sunday, September 6, 2015

September 4, 2015

It has been too long since I updated my blog.  I just realized it has been 4 months which have flown past.  We had a real cold snap in July that lasted a couple of weeks.  Since then the weather has been pretty good.  I was afraid the cold snap would last through my families visit but we had really nice weather.  The sun was out everyday they were here and rained the afternoon they left. 

Denise, Zane, Ky, Gabi, Kiera, Brett, Meredith and Paige all came on the same flight that arrived on Wednesday the 29th of July.  I was able to spend the two weeks they were here with them.  The missionaries in the Mission Office covered for me and I am really grateful for them.  Meredith had rented a house here in Brisbane that slept 10 people so we had plenty of room. 

We spent 4 days visiting numerous sites in the city of Brisbane and Brisbane area.  We visited the  Brisbane Botanical Gardens, walked along the Brisbane River, visited the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, climbed the Story Bridge, visited the Town Hall Museum, walked through Southbank, drove north to Mary Cairnscross Reserve in the Sunshine Coast Hinterlands.

 Ky and Gabi with their friend at the Lone Pine Koala Sactuary

Denise with her friend. 

Gabi, Ky, Denise, Zane and Kiera with their Koala friend. 

Brett, Paige and Meredith with their Koala friend.

We got up, close and personal with the kangaroos.  Everyone had a fabulous time feeding the kangaroos and wallabies.  There was a mom with her Joey in her pouch and all you could see was the back legs and tail.  We had pictures with the Koala Bears.  Paige held the Koala with Brett and Meredith in the picture.  Denise held the Koala for their family picture.  After the pictures we enjoyed the Koala presentation.  Also visited the Platypus presentation and Tasmanian Devils feeding.  We spent some time walking through the reserve and enjoyed all the amazing Australian animals before the Sheep Dog Show and shearing of a sheep exhibition.  Last but not least was the feeding of the Laurakeets.  Everyone had a turn holding the feeding containers.  We were surrounded by the beautiful but noisy parrots.

   Story Bridge Climb - Brisbane City Center and Brisbane River in the background.  This is the highest point on the bridge.

Our next adventure was climbing the Story Bridge. The Story Bridge here in Brisbane is one of three bridges in the world that you can legally climb.  I have wanted to climb it ever since I arrived here.  Everyone but Denise was up for the climb.  The entire experience is two hours.  You are given a special jump suit, harness and lanyard for your glasses.   You are not allowed to take anything up on the bridge with you as a safety factor.  It would not be good to lose something that would fall onto the traffic going across the bridge.  You have to walk along a grated walkway to get to the bridge.  This part of the climb bothered me when I looked down onto the street once on the bridge I was good.  The climb consists of a long climb to the highest point of the bridge down to the middle of the bridge which is the middle of the Brisbane River across the bridge to the other side back up to the highest point then back down to the start.  All the way we were attached to the bridge by our harness.  The tour guide was really good and gave us a lot of history about the River and Brisbane.  Everyone had a great climb.  The guide was good about giving us rest times as we climbed.  I would encourage you to climb a bridge if you have one in your area which allows it.  I do know the second bridge is in Sydney but don’t know where the third bridge is.  Tick that off my bucket list.

Mary Cairncross Reserve is about an hours drive north of Brisbane.  It is a rainforest reserve.  It is the fourth time I have been there and have never been disappointed.  It is an easy walk through the rainforest.  We saw a number of Pademelon (small wallabies) along the walk.  The trees and their root systems are magnificent. We saw fruit bats hanging in the trees, and were serenaded by the birds - the Kookaburras were really loud, the Whip Bird (their calls sound like a bull whip) were letting us know they were there too.  After our tour of the rainforest we drove to Maleny and had lunch.  The drive was spectacular as you drive the ridge of the mountain and have a spectacular view of both sides.  There were a couple of view points where we stopped to view the marvelous valleys.

On Monday August 3 we all headed North our final destination Airlie Beach.  Airlie Beach is about halfway between Brisbane and Cairns.   A full day of driving and we arrived at the Capricorn Caves where we toured the caves and spent the night in some really nice cabins.   Each cabin could sleep 4 or 5 people.  They had a full kitchen, lounge with TV and two bedrooms.  I was impressed that they were so nice.  The caves are about an hour west of Rockhampton. The tour of the caves was good, the guide gave us a lot of history about the caves and a great description of the inside of the cave.  The fern in the picture only grows in a very few places in the world and here in the cave is one of those places.

The caves were discovered by the sons of a man who lived nearby.  Here is the story of the discovery.  A man who lived near them had two sons.  The horses got loose so the boys were sent to fetch them.  As boys do they became distracted chasing brush turkeys through the woods.  One disappeared and the boys found it had gone into the caves.  They immediately ran to tell their father who came with a rope.  He tied it to a tree and went into the cave to explore with only a candle.  He left the matches outside because of the moisture in the cave from the bat Guano(pooh) which was over a meter deep.  Each time his candle went out he had to return to the entrance to relight it.  He crawled thru all the bat guano (pooh) to explore the caves.  He realized he had a great find and made a claim on the land.  Before it was grated a government official had to survey the land to determine there was nothing of value on it.  He made sure that the surveyor came on a very hot day and started him at the far end of the property before he reached the caves and that sis exactly what happened.  In the early 1900's people from all around came to see the caves dressed in their finery to go through the bat guano.  The owner finally let miners come in to remove the guano for fertilizer.  So no guano(pooh) now, only hard rock.         

It was really dark so we were able to see the Australian sky in all is glory.  It was spectacular with the milky way right above us. We also saw the Southern Cross on the horizon.

Another long day in the car through the beautiful countryside of Queensland.  We drove through forest, sugar cane fields, hills and valleys.  We saw a few kangaroos along the way more on the road than in the fields.  They are like deer and come out in the evening and night to feed, venture onto the road and get hit by the cars and trucks.  We arrived at Airlie Beach house  about 3PM.  The house overlooked the bay and was about 4 blocks from town.  We walked down to the beach and picked up shells.  There is a beautiful park all along the bay with a wadding pool for children.  The town was about six blocks long with a variety of stores and restaurants.   Denise made reservations for the next day for the Great Barrier Reef Adventure on the Cruise Whitsunday.

The boat departed for our Great Barrier Reef Adventure at 8:00 AM.  The cruise included a stop at Hamilton Island to pick up passengers, morning tea of fruit and biscuits, buffet lunch, afternoon tea of muffins on the return.   The boat took us to a pontoon that was anchored at one of the reefs.

Brett and Meredith signed up for a scuba dive.  The rest of us went snorkeling.  I went with Paige.  We had hoped to take the submersible first but were too late for the first run so got our wet suits and changed then picked up our flippers and snorkel gear.  Paige brought her own snorkel which closes up when it goes under water.  Sure wish I had one.  I swallowed salt water at least twice once when I put my head too far down and once from the wave action.  The was a swell of about a foot.  The reef was beautiful and I saw a few fish but we were not in very long.  I made the mistake of using a noodle instead of a life jacket.  I could have stayed in longer with a life jacket.  Paige is like a fish in the water.  The water did not seem all that cold when we got in but we were all cold when we got out for lunch.  No one went back in once we were out.  We did take the submersible and had a good look at the reef after lunch.  Just before we were to start back I saw a big sea turtle swimming next to the pontoon.  I called my Brett over and we got some good pictures of him.  It was a really rough ride back.  We were all glad to be on firm ground.

 Roped off area was snorkeling area.  Ropes were for resting. 

Denise, Kiera and Paige soaking up the sun.

A friendly Sea Turtle

Sunset at Airlie Beach on our return from our Great Barrier Reef Adventure.

Four Kookaburras in the tree at the trail head.

Friday August 7 we headed back to Brisbane.  Denise and family were planning on visiting Eungella National Park to see the platypus. We also went to Eungella National Park to see the platypus.  We stood on the bridge and watched the platypus in the river.  They were amazing.  They are much smaller than I thought.  We were told that they close their eyes and ears underwater.  They swing their heads back and forth to find their food with whiskers (feelers) on their bills.  Brett, Meredith, Paige and I stopped at French Hatton Gorge before going to the bridge.  We hiked 2.8 kilometers to the first falls.  It was all uphill.  Brett, Mer and Paige walked 410 M further to the creek crossing.  I returned to the car and enjoyed the walk back down.  Going down was a much easier walk.

The Waterfall we hiked to. 

The uphill trail to the waterfall.


I made it with Brett, Meredith and Paige.  It was a beautiful waterfall.  A hiker who came after us swam to the waterfall and immediately got out.  It was really cold. 

Platypus in the river.

Our destination for the night was Mackay.  We had made no plans with Denise’s family .  Just before we arrived Denise called to ask if we had left some tennis shoes in Airlie Beach.   During the call Meredith found out we were staying at the same motel.  They waited for us and we went to dinner together. 

The next morning we both packed our cars and continued our journey.  We went to Oscar’s for brekky.  As we were sitting there who should arrive but Denise and her family.  Who would have guessed we would pick the same restaurant for brekky. 
We split up at this point and we went to the Mackay Marina to see the horse races on the beach.  Lots of people dressed in their finest with their fasinators on their heads.  Little kids all dressed up as well.  We watched three races.  The most entertaining was the ponies.  We left Mackay about 1PM heading for Gladstone.  We arrived about 7PM.  We saw a number of live kangaroos on our drive.

Our next stop was  Rainbow Beach.  It is a cute little town on the beach.  We drove down to the end of the peninsula where the ferries load up to go to Frazier Island.  We had a nice afternoon walking on the beach and through the  Mangrove trees.  As we were on the beach three pelicans came up onto the beach.  Here they are them marching down the beach.  They were so close.  I have never seen them up so close.

Monday August 10, 2015 I went to work.  Brett, Meredith and Paige went to Costco to purchase lollies (candy) to take home.  They also bought salads and lamb chops for a family dinner.  In the afternoon they rented paddle boards and paddled up the river.  Brett was set on paddling under the Story Bridge so he could say he had been on top of it, driven over it and paddled under it.  They had a great time.

Denise and her family arrived just before 6:00 PM.  Brett helped me cook the lamb on the BBQ out by the pool.  We had a lovely dinner.  For dessert we had a Mango Passion Fruit cake to celbrate Brett’s  Happy Birthday, Denise and Zane’s Anniversary  and Ky’s graduation with a degree in Economics.  When my back was turned they placed a huge chocolate cake on the bar with a birthday card for me as my birthday was the day after they left.

The last day they were here I took the day off to go to the Stradbroke Island with the Clark family.  I was suppose to follow Zane because he had the GPS but I lost him.  Kiera was with me.  I had a general idea of where I was to go but we had taken the no toll route through the city.  It took me a while but I finally found the Old Cleveland Road which was the road I needed.  It took us directly to the ferry landing where the rest of the family was waiting and hoping we would make it in time for the 10:55 ferry. 

We even had to wait for the ferry.  It was a pleasant ferry ride over and the bus was waiting for us to take us to Lookout Point on the North East side of the island.  We walked the path around the south and north gorges.  We saw whales spouting, a good number of dolphins and the girls were able to sun bath on the beach. 

Wednesday morning we all went to the airport for their flight home.  I went back to work to greet the new missionaries coming in that day.   Everyone arrived home safely and I am back to my routine taking care of the flats in Queensland. 

It was wonderful to spend time with my kids here in Australia.  The Australians are very nice and helpful and they made our trip enjoyable. 

Spring has arrived and the weather is warming up.  Before I know it it will be time to get on a plane and head back to Washington.  Two Single Senior Sisters have been called to replace us.  They are scheduled to arrive on December 27.  My companion is leaving on the 24th as she is taking a tour of Tasmania and her visa expires on December 30.  My visa is good until June so I am staying to help train the sisters and get them settled.  I my take a bus tour of  New Zealand.  I don’t think I will be back here again so need to take advantage while here. 

It has been a marvelous experience here in Australia and I am so grateful I could share a part of it with my family.  It will be time to move on before I know it.  Time flies when life is good.......

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