From Upover to Downunder and Back Again...

August-September 2007 From time to time some of us are let out from under our dank, stone bridges and let fly about the mundane planes. Sometimes we stop and linger here and there to smell beverages, taste the air or even buy souvenirs like plush toys, placemats or fudge. Although, fudge makes a poor souvenir since it never seems to make it home. The original plan was to go to Leeds in what used to be called Yorkshire. We didn't go so far astray because they reorganised the British counties (although it certainly didn't help... I'm pretty old fashioned in some ways). A trip downunder to New Zealand and Australia may have been our second choice (well third choice actually) but it could never be something to regret. I am reasonably convinced that people are pretty much the same, kind, helpful, wonderfully eccentric, generous and hospitable just about everywhere, but damn... some of them certainly do talk funny!

Hollywood on the Gold Coast

WB Movie World is a tourist attraction south of Brisbane that calls itself 'Hollywood on the Gold Coast'. It does remind me of certain parts of Greater LA, but not so much Hollywood. Nevertheless it's a great theme, and the park has some pretty good shows, some nice rides and a good feeling. There is, apparently another one in Munchen, but I've not seen it with my own eyes so...

When we got to Brisbane they had been in a drought for four years (or six years, depending on who you spoke with) and they had not had three consecutive days of rain for eight years. Naturally, we broke the drought. Naturally, it rained quite heavily while we were in Movie World.

Silly me, I thought standing next to a camel would make me look skinny. Well... you must remember this.

Photos: (mostly) S.MacLeod ©2007

Freaky Trees

New Farm is a suburb of Brisbane. In New Farm Park there is a City Cat wharf and a bunch of Freaky Trees. They call them 'Moreton Bay Fig Trees', but that's just pedantic... they are freaky trees. Since the last time I was there, they have built a children's playground in between the trees, which is actually quite a challenge. I imagine in a few more years, this is going to be especially, well... freaky.

L-R Robin, Sue, Sharon, Rob
Photo: Nice Stranger with kid in park (supervised by S.MacLeod) ©2007

Briney Blue

From Brisbane, we travel to Cairns and from there we take a fast catamaran out to an island called Green. This is looking back at Cairns. To take this boat ride you need good sea legs or you need to sit down.

Photo: S.MacLeod ©2007

Wiggly Coral

This is a picture through the bottom of a glass-bottomed boat off Green Island. You cannot get a good view of the coral or the fish this way. The only way to get a good view is through a diving mask. Glass is green and boats cast huge shadows and stir up particulate matter, but with the miracle of digital picture processing (I have cranked up the saturation and shifted the hue) it is possible to glimpse the merest hint of what the reef actually looks like when you're snorkelling.

In the middle is what they call 'spaghetti coral' (I just call it wiggly coral). In the thing that looks like a big rock, but isn't, there is a wiggly hole. Apparently, clams excrete acid and sink themselves into the coral leaving only their mouthy parts exposed. This can't be much fun for the thing that looks like a big rock but isn't. Please excuse my techno-babble... there was a commentary on the boat but I forgotted what she has said.

Photo: S.MacLeod ©2007

Waters of the Reef

The Great Barrier Reef makes the top of most lists of the natural wonders of the world, yet it is impossible to convey what it actually looks like to someone who has not looked at it through a diving mask. What it looks like from on top, however, is a bit easier to get across.

I was wearing yellow flippers that day and one of the people in this photo is wearing yellow flippers. Therefore, we'll say this is a picture of me.

While I was snorkelling I saw a couple of stingrays. When I saw the first one I put my hand over my heart and then wondered 'why did I put my hand over my heart?' for a while before I realised. Stingrays are, despite everything, quite beautiful (and a bit exciting) when you seee them.

Photo: S.MacLeod ©2007

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