Thursday, December 29

Another day of touring....

Today the itinerary included the Ginger Factory at Yandina, and the Blackall Range - calling in at Maleny.  You really do need to stay up on the mountain for a few days to see all the wonderful places in the area.  Even a week would be better, and we only had half a day.  Still - that's better than nothing.

We left Brisbane early and arrived at the Ginger Factory just after 9 am.  Yandina is the home of The Ginger Factory after it outgrew its earlier factory at Buderim, and the new site rambles through wonderful gardens with various 'pavilions' - which house exhibits, and there is a row of olde world shops beside the railway station.

The train takes visitors (for a small fee) on a long journey throughout the site, with commentary.
Entrance to Ginger Factory

The engine from a sugar cane train - built in 1901.

The grounds are spectacular - tropical and interesting, and so was the commentary.  I remember visiting the old factory at Buderim many years ago, and we have been frequent visitors to the new one and each time there is something new and interesting.

You'll need to go on the boat ride to see these - as you tour 'around the world' looking for the gingerbread man.

After the Ginger Factory, we drove through the edge of Nambour, past the new hospital complex and up to the Blackall Range.  The views are spectacular - not just of the places in the distance from so high up, but the green paddocks and lazy dairy cows, the trees, the wonderful homes and gardens.

We did not stop as we drove through Mapleton, and Flaxton but when we arrived at Maleny we found a parking spot and wandered through the maze of wonderful shops there.  We had a lovely light lunch at a Chinese restaurant, before wandering back the other side of the road to the car. I found a wonderful dress shop - with bamboo clothing - so I WILL have to go back again and soon.

Tuesday, December 27

To Tamborine

We had a more quiet morning on Boxing Day - we visited my daughter and son, and the four grandchildren as they had all stayed overnight at the daughter's house - so there was a lot of noise and laughter.

Returning to Wakerley, we watched a little television - the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, and then the Cricket before we had a quick lunch and left just after 1 pm for a trip to Mt Tamborine, in the hinterland above the Gold Coast.

On the way we visited Bamboo Down Under (I am doing some research for something I am writing on Bamboo for uni).  It is such a wonderful place.  We could spend a whole day there.

There is so much bamboo growing and there is a maze, a bamboo tunnel and several places to meditate among the bamboo.

Huge Bamboo growing in Bamboo Down Under

Bamboo Pavilion at Bamboo Down Under

Bamboo Tunnel at Bamboo Down Under

Looking west from Mt Tamborine (sadly there were fires so it is a bit smokey)

The shopping area of Mt Tamborine

Christmas at the House sit

This is the second year in a row that I have been house sitting at Christmas and this year I decided to invite the family to join me for a special lunch.

The two older grandchildren helped me with the entertainment and came to decorate the tree.  There is a great covered area at the back that is excellent for such an event - everyone could be outside in the fresh air and even if the weather was very hot, or even raining, we were protected.

On the menu was ham, turkey, tossed salad, a beetroot salad, a bean and tomato salad, a peach and onion salad, and for dessert a home made pavlova.  All the food was received well!!!

We played pass the parcel - and everyone had a chance to open the parcel and do what was required on the note - sing a Christmas carol, pretend to be a reindeer, whistle, make a kookaburra noise etc.

The family played some carols while others sang, and the girls arranged an amazing parcel game where they had 21 items in paper bags and everyone had to try and work out what was inside the bag.  A great exercise, and the winners were my son and grandson working as a team.

Santa arrived - and chatted with the children before lunch.  Even the youngest was asking - Is that our poppy?  (The secret is out!!!)

The four grandchildren had a lot of fun playing with each other - as two live in Brisbane and two on the Gold Coast, they don't get to see each other often to play.

All went very well - a wonderful Christmas.

Saturday, December 24

All Wrapped Up

Well, almost.  It is Christmas Eve and I still have  few things to do, but I have done my shopping and the parcels are all wrapped.  The Christmas tree is decorated and as it is outside I have not put the parcels under it yet.

As you can see I've wrapped the presents in newspaper.  And I am thrilled with the result.  I think we are quite crazy to spend so much money on beautiful gift wrapping paper, that is more for the giver of the gift - it is we that like to look at our handiwork and feel good about how we have presented the gift.  Hand it to the person who rips open the paper and minutes later someone is trawling around grabbing the torn shreds and putting them in the bin.

I have found The Australian the best paper to use - the colourful pictures can be selected to so that they are at least appropriate - but in any case, unless you planned well ahead, you might be like me - having to use that which is on hand.  I'm happy with it.  No, not just happy - I'm thrilled and can't wait to put it all on display tomorrow.  And yes, I have decorated with my favourite colour - purple.  Purple ribbon and lilac home made card.

Bring on Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21

Eumundi, Pomona and Belli Park

We set off on our journey early, and arrived at Eumundi Markets soon after 10 am.  How busy it was!  Crowds everywhere, and we wandered through the rows of market stalls and bought a few things for Christmas gifts.  Can't say here - just in case some folk read this and learn what their gift will be.   We had lunch at the Eumundi Pub (nice squid) before heading back through the stalls and then back to the car park and the car.  It was then off to Pomona - to a place I saw on TV a few weeks ago - the Two Old Ladies Tea House.  What a delightful place!!!!  We had tea and scones before we headed off for our next visit.

Tea and Scones at Two Old Ladies Teashop, Pomona

In the Teashop

I had wanted to visit the Bamboo place at Belli - to meet Durnford Dart, or Mr Bamboo as he is known.  It was wonderful to see some of the 100 acres of bamboo!  He moved there in 1989 - and bought an old brothel in Maroochydore and moved it to the property and it is his house!  He was a most interesting man, and I know I shall have much information for my uni assignment.

The Driveway into Australia Bamboo Belli Park

I wanted to purchase some purple Bali flags, but he had none left, so I left empty handed, other than a copy of his book.  I must get him to sign it next time I see him.

I walked around and took quite a few photos of the many bamboo plants he has growing.

Monday, December 19


With Bev staying here from Western Australia, I phoned another ex-nurse from Mt Gambier, and surprise she had another from our cohort there, so we were invited to dinner that night.  It was so much fun catching up on news of each other's activities in the past 40 odd years.   We chatted well into the night!!!!

We have decided to try and organise another reunion, perhaps in South Australia, though there are quite a few with connections in Queensland.

A newsletter will be first off the mark.  Bev and I 'created' a committee, with her as President, me as Secretary and Newsletter Editor, and one of the 'team' in Adelaide on a 'sub committee'.  The latter is sending me names and addresses of some of the others, and we have created a Facebook page.

We have a number of photographs of those days as trainee nurses in Mt Gambier.  I've included one here.

Saturday, December 17

Stradbroke Island - North

The Brisbane River flows through the city of Brisbane and out into Moreton Bay, which has quite a few islands, large and small.  One of the big ones is North Stradbroke Island, and this was our destination yesterday.

The weather was overcast, but it did not rain, although on several occasions 'sprinkles' appeared to fall from above, but it was all over in seconds.  Not the best for photography though.

I drove to Cleveland, and parked the car near Toondah Harbour, and we walked the short distance to the waiting area for the Big Red Cat.   Soon the Big Red Cat appeared on its return from Straddie, and we were soon on board.  We went straight into the cafe/seating area, as it gave us a perfect view of the choppy seas, and a comfortable seat.  The journey takes 45 minutes across to Dunwich, but it was a pleasant trip, though certainly would have been better if the sun had been out, and no wind.

When we arrived at Dunwich we discovered that at near midday there were no buses - and there was an hour or so wait, so we negotiated with three young schoolies, who also wanted to get to Pt Lookout, to catch a taxi and share the cost.

At Lookout, we went for a walk around the gorge - which is quite spectacular and has been recently upgraded with good rubberised walking tracks and stairs with safety fences.  Quite an improvement from when I was there 15 months ago.

We did the walk, took lots of photos and then walked all the way back to the Stradbroke Hotel, but were just a few minutes late for lunch.  So we sat and ate our own snacks, while having a Lemon Lime and Bitters, before slowly making our way to the bus stop, and the return journey.

The bus was full on the way back, but we managed to get seats, though they were a little precarious as the bus hurled around some bends in the 10 kms back to Dunwich, where we only had a few minutes wait before the Big Red Cat appeared, and we were on our way back to the mainland.

Friday, December 16

Car trouble

I really am not good with cars - I mean, I look under the bonnet and freak out.  What are all these pipes, caps and strange things????  What does it all mean?  How do I do ....?

OK, it is not quite so bad.  I have not driven the house owner's car for several weeks, and she had problems with it.  When the owner came back to Australia for a couple of days, she drove her Commodore and it overheated.  She filled up the radiator with water and all appeared to be well.

So on Wednesday I decided to use the car - but of course I am smart enough to check the water before I leave the driveway, especially after knowing the story.  The radiator is empty.  In my car (Daihatsu) I add coolant via a cap near the radiator, so I figured the Commodore would be the same, especially as the cap says "coolant".  But the coolant just ran out under the car.

I phoned RACQ - the car emergency association of which I and the owners are members.  The guy came, and filled the radiator with water.  We started the car, and all seemed well.  He tested a few things and suggested I take the car to a mechanic to check.  So I set off to see Mario at Wynnum Mechanical, who looks after my car.  

Dear Mario looked under, in and around the car, put the pressure testing kit to work, and all without finding out what was wrong.  He didn't think it was the thermostat.  So we left - happy to know there was a bottle of water on the back seat of the car - just in case.  I then took the car to Nitro Crew at Wynnum to get the tyres checked.  He said the tyres had deteriorated since I was last there.  I've not driven the car for nearly four weeks!!!  Still, I will pass on the information to the owners.

I did use the Commodore that night - I went into the State Library - in particular to The Edge to do a class on animation with Flash.  I found it really difficult, but did learn a few things.  Would like to have been able to read the screen - it was too far away for any of us to see what the tutor was doing.

I checked the water before we set off on the return journey - with my two friends waiting in the car - but all was well.

Still, we have the mystery of why the Commodore is running out of water in the radiator.  I'll keep my bottle of water handy, and check the temperature gauge regularly.

Sunday, December 11

Me and my electric bike

I do love cycling and I know I 'cheat' a little having an electric bike, but it works for me - especially as it protects my 'dicky knee' - doesn't give me trouble unless I push it.

Living at Paddington with its hilly terrain, I didn't have it with me, but here at Wakerley, it is mostly flat land, with some undulation, but quite suitable for me and my bike.  However, finding a time when the weather was good, has been a challenge, but today I took my bike for a spin.  I initially was going to do a quick tour, and then go to the newsagent to get the Sunday paper, and return home, but on the homeward journey I chose to go further and explore another part of Wakerley.  

I found some new parks - or new to me.  It was a lovely adventure, though I feel I am sunburned on my neck.  Must get and use some sunscreen.

5W - Women Welcome Women World Wide

I have been a member of this organisation (5W) on and off for a while, and yesterday enjoyed their company for their Christmas lunch at Queensland University Women's College.  There was a short meeting prior to the luncheon, and some 60 or so members met to network and hear stories of travelling.  The group is essentially a friendship group, with members all around the world, and those who travel make contact with members in the countries or states they visit.

Often the members are lone female travellers, and there are boundless stories of new friendships and wonderful support for members in trouble through health or accident issues.

I marvelled at the grounds of Queensland University, tucked in a curve of the Brisbane River, on gloriously kept grounds.  I must go back and spend some time exploring the stunning campus.

Clearly there was a big graduation ceremony on yesterday as quite a few students in gown and cap headed towards the main buildings.  Parking was at a premium but I was easily able to find a park near the Women's College.

I found a stand of bamboo on the river bank - actually came away with a view that western suburbs residents grow a lot more bamboo than eastern suburbs residents.

Bamboo growing by the river.

After the function I drove to Brookfield - it has been a long time since I had been in that area, and it was quite a wonderful drive to see how things have developed around Kenmore and beyond.  We did have friends there years ago, so it was not totally unfamiliar to me.  I went to meet a bloke who grew bamboo for a hobby.  Below is a photo of one of the stands of his bamboo crop.

Friday, December 9

New camera

I've updated my camera.  Now have a Canon EOS1100D - and I am looking forward to using it.  I had it with me last night at a function at Griffith University South Bank, for Friends of the Griffith Library   so took a few shots from the event. 

Thursday, December 8

Funny things.............

I am happy in the house - all is well.  I have had a couple of amusing incidents which are worth sharing.

First of all, I collected grand daughter number two from ballet class as her mother was busy.  Her friend was with her, and the friend settled in the back seat of the car.  My old car does have air conditioning, but as the car is some 15 years old, it is not as fast and efficient as newer cars.  

The little girl in the back seat wanted to open the car window.  "DeeDee, how do you open the window of the car?"  I had to laugh as I replied "See the handle, you unwind to get the window open." She struggled - it was not something she was familiar with!  She did get it open.  Later when we arrived at our destination I asked her to close the window.  She didn't know how.  I told her to wind in the opposite direction.  Too hard. 

Her Mummy and Daddy have a modern car - apart from the fact that they would seldom need to open the window for fresh air, it is probably done by voice control, (or at least a button which depressed with open or close the window.)  I had a big laugh about that one.

Then yesterday I was leaving a meeting at the local club, and I found a very concerned women near her 'new' car.  Her friend was stuck in the back seat and they couldn't open the door.  I took a look and put my arm in the open driver's door, and flicked the knob up.  Hey presto.  

The lady joined me in laughing.  She has a remote control, and needs to press once to open the driver's door, and twice to open all doors, and if all else fails, do as I did, just lift the knob up.  :)