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!

Tree on the Coral Sea

Off Cairns is an island called Green, and upon that island grew a tree. No more. I love the sea, and I love trees as much as breathing, but they do not always go that well together.

While I was snorkling the reef, my lovely wife was strolling up and down the beach. She photgraphed this poignant tree, a true comentary on all sorts of things, from several different angles.

Photo: S.MacLeod ©2007

Migratory Landmark

From Cairns we fly to Sydney because the train takes too long.

It has always amazed me that a major landmark can stand in one place for decades and then, in the blink of an eye, can shift several metres at the precise moment someone is attempting to take its photograph. Even so, the result may possess a certain je ne sais quack.

Photo: S.MacLeod ©2007

Fortune of War

There is a bit of confusion about the first name of the first settlement in Australia. It was known as 'Stingray Bay', 'Stingray's Harbour' and 'Botany Bay'. On 18th January 1788 Captain Arthur Phillip led his First Fleet into Botany Bay to found a penal colony. There are two reasons why this original settlement might have been abandoned. The first is that there was no potable water around Botany Bay nor any fertile land. The second possible reason is that there were rumours of a French Expedition in the vicinity. Since the raison d'etre for the British Empire was, mainly to 'stop the French from getting it'. This second reason seems to carry more weight. Except that one does, after all, need potable water to make beer.

Australia's second oldest and longest surviving, settlement, is the Sydney neighbourhood now known as 'the Rocks', and the Fortune of War, established in 1828, is the oldest pub in Sydney. This is my idea of the perfect tourist attraction: history and ale in one efficient package.

Photo: S.MacLeod ©2007

And Her Little Dog Too...

Once upon a time, HM Queen Victoria had a little dog named Islay. He did something wonderful and got a wishing well all his own. If you approach, he greets you from beyond the grave, and if you toss money in he thanks you and barks. This is a bit creepy since, despite his Scottish name, he speaks with an Aussie accent.

Photo: S.MacLeod ©2007

The World's Nicest Mall

Sydney's Queen Victoria Building has been refurbished since Her Late Majesty's time. Now it is the nicest shopping mall I've ever seen. Lots of little shops on three levels. The lifts are older than I am and the toilets would have been at home in Hogwarts. I bought a nice 'poetic' map of Australia... I like maps.

Photo: S.MacLeod ©2007


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