On Anzac Day I found myself filling in time near Brisbane while waiting for a response from a person I had arranged to meet up with. As the day dragged on I found myself at the Brisbane Botanical Gardens near Mount Cootha.
There are themed displays under domes and in shade houses that would take days to see properly. The gardens are lovely with nicely laid out pathways and beautifully manicured plants.
It was here that I met Stranger No 3…. Hector was sitting quietly on the stone wall at the side of the path totally absorbed in something on his tablet. My first impression was that one could check out Facebook anytime, anywhere and it seemed that social media had claimed one more addict.
When I came up alongside him, I noticed that he was sketching the scene before him on the tablet. The treescape on the tablet was impressive and I stopped to ask him about it. He old me that there are quite a few apps that can be used for sketching and with the help of a stylus he was able to create a pretty impressive picture.
The app he used allowed him to choose the medium for each drawing…. this one was an oil painting and of course the beauty of this is that there is no cleaning up of brushes etc when the job is done.
Hector is from Chilli and has been here for two months to study. Clearly art is his passion and while his palette may be a tablet, art is art no matter what the form. One wonders what Picasso might have done if he had an iPad.
Summer seems to have come early on the Sunshine Coast here in Queensland. Hot sticky nights that are normally the preserve of January and February have begun to test the powers of getting a good night’s sleep.
Now this might sound like a good old whinge, but as I sit here enjoying a coffee in my “today” office at Banjo’s Bakery and Cafe on the Sunshine Plaza at Maroochydore, I find have discovered a tiny micro climate where the breeze is sweeping along the banks of Cormeal Creek. How pleasant is this welcome break from the oppressive heat I have so recently stepped away from?
The view today, is somewhat less inspiring due to the development of the Plaza building on the opposite side of the creek, but in the fullness of time this will transform into a relaxing and tranquil space.
Banjo’s is one of my favourite coffee spots in the Plaza. I am particularly fond of their Danish, be it the apricot or apple version, and it is the latter that is the pick for today.
After a very torrid week at my other job, I am taking a bit of me time to reflect on places where I have recently been and work through the photo’s that I took along the way. The travelling, it seems, is the easy part of this travel writing business. It is the editing and writing that take up the time. Still I find playing with words a satisfying pass-time, made all the better by a good latte.
Some years ago I started taking photos of letterboxes that I came across along my travels. The ingenuity that goes with the crafting of some of these is astounding, and this is especially the case the deeper into the bush one travels. On a recent trip to Rockhampton, I drove along one stretch of road and found several examples, each seeming to be trying to outdo it’s neighbour for uniquisity.
GMail…..If you are handy with a chainsaw you can whip one of these up in a few minutes. Good use of an old dead stump at the gate.
Cream Anyone? There will be some who can remember the old cream can. Some even who have dragged them onto the back of a truck before carting them off to the milk factory. This one has weathered the years well and is still doing stirling service in its new role as a mail box
Shades of D’Arth Vader……. Turned on its head, this “passed its use by date” gas bottle could be a reminder of Ned Kelly from the past or maybe D’Arth Vader from the future
This Hollow Log has found a new life set up on a tree fork and keeping the weather off the few letters that get delivered in this day of electronics. Maybe it also doubles as a shelter for a wayward possum on a cold night.
44 Gallon drums were common place on rural properties back in the day. They still can be found storing liquid and, with the tops cut off, make an excellent storage bin or, like this one, a mail box.
Not sure obout this one…. Cooked the motor, perhaps
A bit more traditional, but liked the attention to detail with the tin coping around the eaves
All of these boxes were scattered along one short stretch of country road I travelled as I headed out to Seventeen Seventy and are probably the highest density of odd-ball mail boxes I have come across. There are others out there that are weird and whacky which I will bring to you as I see them.
If you enjoy this post please feel free to share it with your friends and if you would like to leave a comment I’ll be happy to respond. Thank you for taking the time to drop by……….
It’s strange how we can travel a stretch of highway time and again, yet so often miss hideaways that sit just off the main roads as we hurry from one city to another. For me, that stretch of road was on the Pacific Hiway between Sydney and Brisbane. I have travelled that road several times, but never had the chance to drop in on the beaches and bays along the way.
I had heard about a place called Bluey’s Beach, just north of Newcastle, and on my previous attempt to stop here, my travelling companion, a massive storm, forced me to keep on driving. I now had an opportunity to take a more liesurely drive down to Sydney to deliver a car to my son. I took a week off work and slowly made my way south.
While I had covered this distance often in a semi-trailer on an overnight run, because there were a few things I needed to fit in and it was two days before, just after dark, I drove into the little village of Tuncurry looking for a motel to stay the night. I checked out a couple in Tuncurry and over the bridge in the twin town of Forster before continuing on down to Bluey’s Beach, some twenty kilometres south. Here, Vodafone fails badly, and so having some internet work to do I was forced back to Tuncurry and settled on the first place I had looked at. It was a small motel with small rooms, but big enough for me to spend the night and was well priced for a short stay.
After an early start I made my way down by the river where the early folk were going about their morning routines. The council workers were busy cleaning and clearing after the people who has spent the last evening in the park. There were joggers and walkers and those who just seemed out for a stroll. The river was pristine and sparkled under the rays of the early morning sun. All in all, it was a pleasant atmosphere.
I decided a nice breakfast in the sun was in order and I crossed the bridge into Forster to hunt down a cafe in the main street. The town centre is reached by doing a U-Turn at the first round-a-bout and then slipping down a narrow street on the left. The street is one way with shops and cafes spilling out onto the footpath, bathing the scene with a friendly ambiance.
At this time of the morning, the narrow street was shaded and it was impossible to find a table in the sun. I selected a cafe and settled down to choose my order. Coffee was a given but the food selection did little for my appetite. I finally chose pancakes and was soon served up a lovely looking dish.
Sadly, that was the best it got. The first taste was dry and super sweet. Even the syrup did little to moisten the pancake mix but I struggled through wishing I’d stayed with my usual mundane poached eggs on toast. The coffee was nice tho, so all was not lost
With no plans for the day, other than to make my way south towards Bluey’s Beach and I wandered out behind the shopping strip to where the river made its way out to the ocean. What a tranquil scene….. the breeze, just barely kissing the water, smudged the reflections and shadows under an impossibly blue winter sky. Such a pretty scene hidden away where so few would ever see it.
Back on the strip I checked out the shops, many of which were just opening their doors for the day’s trading. There were stands to be wheeled onto the footpath and cobbles to be swept. It was here I ran into a reluctant stranger. You may recall my “100 Strangers” project where I am making a point of meeting strangers from all walks of life and writing a small piece on who they are. Well “Tracy” was my first stranger on this day. We chatted a while and I explained my quest. It was then that she became shy and asked to remain anonemous. While this gave her an aura of mystery, I believe it disqualified her from the project. We agreed on a fictitious name of Tracy and she happily allowed me to shoot a few photos of her going about the morning chores.
From Downtown Forster I headed up to the Forster Town Beach. This beautiful stretch of sand ran out beneath the seawall towards the headland from the cafe and surf club at the northern end. I was beginning to rue the choices I had made for my breakfast after seeing the fare available here and the veiw from the tables.. I stood and watched people being people while a whale watching boat, loaded with eager nature lovers headed out to sea in search of that plume of spray as a whale breached and gasped a breath of air.
My meanderings took me south to Second Head where a rocky shore mixed with the sands across the wide bay. Standup Paddle Boarders made their way out past the out crops, maybe searching for their own inshore whale. A broad pathway wound its way along the forshore and there were more than a few out taking in the morning air.
The rocks along the bay had an almost tesselated structure, as if they had been stacked in rows, one apon another where sea birds rested and preened their feathers in the cool morning breeze.
The next stop at Bicentennial Park reunited me with the whale watchers, albiet these were onshore spotters who seek the elusive spray plumes through powerful binoculars before radioing the boat with directions to get them close. I wonder how long it will be before these jobs are taken over by the drones that are beginning to fill the skys these days
From the road to the shore, there are boardwalks that take you through woody scrub where the air is filled with bird song and if if you are lucky you may catch a glimpse of a robin or wren.
One of the sites of this area is the Dune. This massive wall of sand, falls to the sea much like a flowing waterfall, and indeed, more than a few surf this wave on boogie boards or simply just roll their way to the bottom.
At ElizabethBeach, a short but steep walk took me to the look out at the top of the headland. Here a two storied structure provides a grand view from way north to way south. From here the size of the dune is given its true perspective.
I passed by some of the bays as the days was getting late and soon found myself on Bluey’s. By now the wind had freshened and the onshore breeze was bringing in some larger swells from the Pacific Ocean. There were rock buttresses here that stood firm against the waves as the tossed their spray in frustration at not being able to drive on inshore. High on the headland the tall tower of a lighthouse at Seal Rocks stood proud against the sky line.
From Buey’s Beach, it is necessary to head inland around Smith’s Lake and, craving a coffee as I sometimes do, I followed a sign to Frothy Coffee on the waters edge across the bay from the Sandbar. This hard to find gem was well worth the wrong turns I took on my way. Broken signage provided ambiguos directions as I navigated my way through suburbia until, quite unexpectedly, I came upon a blue shed set right on the edge of the lake. The deck was built out over the water and it was a very pleasant hour spent sipping coffee and watching the occaisional fisherman as they cruised passed on the lake. Across the water you can see the sandbar which, is a narrow strip of sand that cuts Smiths Lake off from the sea.
From Smiths Lake I headed further south to Seal Rocks where I found a set of rocks that may well have given this place its name
I followed Kinka Road, past Boat Beach, to it’s end where I took to walking up the path towards the lighthouse I had seen earlier in the day from Bluey’s Beach. The path was wide and for a time I wondered if I was headed the right way as the direction I was headed seemed to have the lighthouse over my left shoulder and falling away behind me. Slowly the track began to swing around and soon enough the lighthouse was dead ahead again. I was hurrying now as the signage had said the grounds closed at sunset, and the sun was getting perilously close to the horison behind me.
I passed a bunch of sugar loaf rocks, seperated from each other by deep and narrow cuttings that had been weathered away by the sea over the ages. Behind me the sun began to burn the horison as it dipped ever so slowly towards night. I hurried on and arrived at the precinct with the shadows casting long and low, but the lighthouse, sitting atop the headland, was still bathed in the soft evening light. Ahead of me was a steep path with a few steps to ease the way. It was a breathless climb. With time running out, I was determined to get some sunsets shots before they closed the facility.
I stayed at the top, watching the light slowly fade as the sun cast it’s final rays of the day across the land. I was joined by a group of backpackers who climbed the stairs around the lighthouse tower to get a better view. Finally, the light gave way to darkness and we all trooped back down to the buildings below.
The old keepers quarters have been renovated to be able to take overnight tourists. My back packing companions, it seemed, would be staying here this night and so I set off along the dark pathway, retracing my steps to my car.
It had been a long day and I made my way back out to the main road to look for a place to rest my head for the night. The next day would take me into Sydney where I would meet up with my son and deliver his car before flying back to the Sunshine Coast and the grindstone that earns my daily bread…Ah well….
One of the oldest places you’ll find in Sydney is The Rocks, situated almost beneath the Sydney harbour. It is a warren of streets and alleys that border the old warehouses near Circular Key. While much of it has been modernised there is still an old world charm about the place and it is easy to imagine the folks of early Sydney going about their daily business.
I decided to spend some time looking around and my first stop was in the park by the ferry terminal. Here crowds wandered along, many checking out the huge cruise ship that was tied up at the terminal. Signs alluded to an afternoon departure and many of the crowd towed wheeled suitcases as they made their way to the customs checkpoint.
I spotted an elderly gent sitting doing a crosword. The lines of age told a story of character but I didn’t realise when I took the photo that this was Mr Graham Courtney. I discovered, after talking with another busker, that Mr Courtney could be found doing gigs almost every day along the promenade and had been for years. The fact that he is an octogenarian seemed to slow him down not a bit.
Along the concourse folk took a few moments to stand and watch the buskers who entertained for whatever donations they were able to encourage from the pockets of the punters. I was intrigued with a suitcase that was sitting unattended on the sidewalk. Not a suspicious item in an obvious way but intriguing because it was set up as a makeshift drum. A young lady sitting nearby told me that her boyfriend was the owner and sure enough a young chap approached and began to tune up his guitar ready for a new set.
When I asked his girlfriend, Carolin, if he was any good, she replied that he had an unusual style but that, yes, in her opinion, he was very good. I decided to stay and asked if I could take some photos for my blog. Unfortunately, I only had a few spare coin in my wallet as I don’t tend to carry cash at all, but I emptied them out for the privilege of taking a photo.
We started to talk about the way people disrespect the buskers on the street by taking a photo on their ever handy phone camera without ever bothering to contribute to the entertainment being given by the busker. To me, this is the height of rudeness. These people, would think nothing of spending eighty or more dollars to go to a gig by a famous band, when the gig is right there in front of them.
As it turned out, Jack Dawson was incredibly good. His style was different but the sound addictive. Sitting, as he was, on the old suitcase, thumping out percussion in time to the rhythm of the guitar he soon drew quite a crowd. Jack does a lot of original songs and his CD was available for purchase as well as information to purchase on line.
From here I wandered further along the concourse and came across another crowd of people taking in yet another display of street talent. This time it was Emma Mohsen, a contortionist with a bit of humour. I first saw her in a very compromised position with Col from London who was lifting her up while she held her legs firmly wrapped around behind her neck
For her next trick, she called on Sam from Sydney to assist. She brought out a narrow frame with a very small glass box at the top. She explained that she intended to fold her body inside and shut the door. After some instructions to her volunteer crew she climbed on the back of Sam and proceeded to do exactly what she had said she would.
In no time she was firmly locked inside the glass structure still exhorting all and sundry to add to her donation box.
Moving on passed the wharf I came to the base of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This icon of Sydney was opened way back in 1932 and is the sixth longest arch bridge in the world. At its highest point it is 134 metres and until as late as 2012 was the widest long-spanning bridge in the world.
This is a place where tourist from all corners of the world stop to take a memory of their time in Sydney. Ehsan and Rashid from Iran were two such people and I stopped to chat a moment and take a photo on their own camera so that they could both be in it together.
One of the things about travelling is that one can rarely get a photo of everyone in the party without resorting to the dreaded selfie. Offering to take the photo is a great way to strike up a conversation and get to know more about the fellow travellers we share this world with.
From From here the other icon that sits beside Sydney Cove, The Sydney Opera House can be seen across the water. The angle here gives one a good view of the famous sails that make up its profile
The Rocks is as old as Sydney itself, established at the time of the first European settlement. Prior to this was Tallawoladah and the home of the Cadigal people. From the outset of European influence it gained a reputation as a slum and was frequented by convicts and prostitutes pretty much until the 1870’s
The buildings were made of Sandstone and that influence is still apparent to this day. The style of architecture was fairly drab. Tall straight and as featureless as a row of factories, they dominated the narrow alleys that criss-crossed the town.
Today, the Rocks has been reinvented as a tourist mecca with the obligatory market stalls that can be found both inside the sandstone buildings as well as under marques along the narrow streets. Selling all the usual fare that markets the world over do along with a share of Australiana to provide the tourists with a suitable memento of there journeys
And so my wanderings through the tourist mecca of Sydney came to an end and I attempted to find a bus that would take me to Glebe where I was to meet up with a friend. Not such an easy task and I soon decided that I would be far quicker to catch an Uber Car which, as has been my experience so far arrived in but a couple of minutes and I was soon on my way. Jack, my driver, had a great chat as we crossed the few kilometres to my destination. Still new to the job, he had a good knowledge of the city and with his pleasant personality I am sure he will do well in the job. The car was immaculate and at the end of the ride, Jack took some time to help me find the best place to set down, seeing I was a little unsure of my bearings. Thank you Jack..