A Travellerspoint blog

June 2011

Where is 'bum crack rock'?

Exploring the geological features of Keith's old home town

semi-overcast 12 °C

Granite boulders in Stanthorpe. One of these must be it.

Granite boulders in Stanthorpe. One of these must be it.

Near Keith's childhood home in Stanthorpe, in Queensland's Granite Belt, was a rock known to himself and his siblings as 'bum crack rock'. It was in a group of boulders next to a Scout Hall and we were determined to find it. When we checked a few years back, we couldn't see it. But today, after a bit of searching, we declared victory. 'Bum crack rock' was found!

The Granite Belt is a picturesque region near the border of NSW and Queensland, in the Great Dividing Range. It is a fruit growing area and also famous (in Queensland anyway ;-) for its wines. Keith has memories of the cold weather. It's the coldest part of Queensland. As a kid, he used to put his shoes in the wood stove to heat up before he put them on for school. Once he left them too long and the smell of burning shoe leather filled the house. Can't do that with reverse cycle air conditioning!

Despite the cold and occasional rain showers, and complaints from the kids, we did a short walk in Girraween National Park. We clambered over granite outcrops and found a spot by a flowing creek to eat our picnic lunch. The sun shone for a little while. Then the rain returned and forced us back to the car. Never mind. As I type this, the fire pit at Keith's mum's yard has a fire in it. Michael and Grannat got it going. We look forward to toasting marshmallows in the embers later on. Yum!

Posted by kecasumi 15:50 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes mountains Comments (0)

An Aussie country garden

Keith's mum's garden is taking shape

rain 14 °C

Michael may have a packet of lollies in his hand but his real love is green vegetables. This is cos lettuce in Grannat's garden.

Michael may have a packet of lollies in his hand but his real love is green vegetables. This is cos lettuce in Grannat's garden.

It's been a year since we last saw Grannat's garden and it's looking good! Last year it was just lawn and some plans. This year it's got herbs, veges, flowers and . . . a fire pit! The garden is a work in progress. It surrounds Grannat's house in Warwick, in the southern downs of Queensland. Grannat and the landscaper have been transforming it into a haven. We're hoping to try out the fire pit while we're here. The firewood is ready. The marshmallows are bought. We just need the rain to stop.

Yes, it's been raining - the first we've seen for months on our big chunk of Australia trip. Susie said she didn't want just drizzle. She wanted real rain! It made our visit to Jondaryan Woolshed a bit damp, on top of the icy wind. More layers of clothing needed. We toured the buildings of the former sheep property (established in 1859) and watched a sheep being shorn by our guide, an ex-shearer called Snow. Snow also introduced us to his sheep dog and demonstrated how working dogs muster sheep. It was amazing to watch. He said dogs could be trained to respond to whistles, verbal commands and hand signals, and that an old man with a dog was better at mustering than three young men on horses! This dog stared down the sheep and followed Snow's commands until the sheep were in the pen.

While we haven't had much rain on our trip, it was constant early this year in SE Queensland. Brisbane and Warwick were both flooded. When we did a walk from Keith's sister Linda's place in inner Brisbane, we saw the ground level of the famous Regatta Hotel was boarded up while repairs are in progress. Grannat's town of Warwick was cut in two when the Condamine River flooded. Luckily her house is on a hill. (It's in a suburb on the site of an old drive-in cinema, and the streets are named after movie stars. The local park honours Mel Gibson.)

We're enjoying catching up with Keith's family. We're being thoroughly spoilt! We had a lovely lunch last Saturday with Wendy, his sister, and brother-in-law David, and a play in the park at Scarborough. While Keith and I had lunch after church with his Dad, Linda took the kids to Movie World. Susie, of course, went on the biggest roller coaster there.

Sheep dog at work at Jondaryan

Sheep dog at work at Jondaryan

Posted by kecasumi 17:27 Archived in Australia Tagged animals gardens family farms Comments (0)

Trekking south down the Queensland coast

Stops at Hervey Bay, Fraser Island and the Sunshine Coast

sunny 21 °C

Fraser Island dingo, the purest bred dingoes in Australia, at 75 Mile Beach. There is controversy over how they should be treated. Aggressive dingoes have attacked people.

Fraser Island dingo, the purest bred dingoes in Australia, at 75 Mile Beach. There is controversy over how they should be treated. Aggressive dingoes have attacked people.

Michael's Year 2 class did a topic on 'Change' and looked at how people change. Well, some of the places we've just visited have changed a lot too. Hervey Bay in the early 1990s was a little seaside resort. The Esplanade along the beach was lined with 1960s blond brick holiday units. Now Hervey Bay is huge with new apartment blocks and resorts everywhere. Flights from southern capitals bring the tourists to see the whales in July, go to the reef and visit Fraser Island.

From Hervey Bay, we spent a day at Fraser doing a typical tour - Lake Mackenzie, Eli Creek, Central Station rainforest, the Pinnacles coloured sands, the wreck of the Maheno on 75 Mile Beach. They are all beautiful and haven't changed much - luckily! Fraser Island is the world's largest sand island. The beaches are long, the sand is white and the creeks are crystal clear fresh water. Plus it's fun being in a 4WD hurtling along the beach at 80km/h! Keith lived on Fraser Island in the early 1980s for two weeks and so is sort of local. Our tour guide was a colourful character and aired very strong views about how the Fraser Island dingoes, the purest dingoes in Australia, are being 'managed' by the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM). Late last year, a friend of hers, wildlife photographer Jenny Parkhurst was charged with feeding the dingoes, fined and banned from the Island. She featured on Australian Story in February on ABC TV. The transcript makes an interesting read.

Noosa has become very upmarket since our last visits but is now lacking in tourists. It's suffering from the Global Financial Crisis, the fact that Qantas doesn't fly there any more and that Aussies are travelling overseas more. Just west of Noosa is the fantastic Eumundi Markets, which must the be the hugest market ever. Susie got her hair braided there. Check it out!

Susannah with hair braids at Eumundi. Who needs to go to Bali?

Susannah with hair braids at Eumundi. Who needs to go to Bali?

Posted by kecasumi 16:48 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches islands markets wildlife forests Comments (0)

Reef ramble

A stay on a Great Barrier Reef island is a first for all of us

sunny 21 °C

Susie and Keith reef walking at low tide at Lady Elliot Island

Susie and Keith reef walking at low tide at Lady Elliot Island

Two days without TV, newspapers, mobile phones or internet. Two days with reef walks, snorkelling, beachcombing and slacking off at a resort. All of this on the southernmost island of the Great Barrier Reef, Lady Elliot Island, just north-east of Bundaberg. Even though it's winter, the sea was 22 degrees, about the same as Clovelly in summer. Bit cool for some though. The men in the family need a bit more fat on their bones to keep warm. Yesterday, our only full day, was a perfect snorkelling day - calm seas, fantastic visibility (you could see a long way down in the water) and sunny. Before we even got in the water we saw a whale, a turtle and a manta ray.

We shared the water with scientists from CSIRO, NASA, universities etc recording which mantas are visiting Lady Elliot. In fact, Project Manta is in full swing right now. You can tell an individual manta ray by the pattern of spots on its tummy. Bet you didn't know that! These gentle giants generally grow to 3-4metres across but only eat plankton. We saw some from the plane as we flew in. The Project invites divers to send in photos of manta rays' tummies - true citizen science! Visit the Project Manta Facebook page here.

What did we like best about Lady Elliot? Michael liked the buffet breakfasts with pancakes and hash browns. Keith liked stargazing in beautiful dark skies away from city lights. Susie liked the turtles, including one she swam with. The turtles at Lady Elliot like to be scratched on their shells. One fellow snorkeller said she kept getting bumped by a turtle, not realising it was asking for a scratch! Me (Carrie), I liked the colourful fish. I got a last snorkel in the lagoon before we left and watched anemone fish (Nemos) hiding in their anemone homes.

Anything not so good? The cold nights (11 degrees or so). Only one blanket each on the first night. Then we asked for more and slept better the second night.

View from the verandah of our 'Reef Unit'. The beach was coral sand and chunks of old coral.

View from the verandah of our 'Reef Unit'. The beach was coral sand and chunks of old coral.

Posted by kecasumi 15:46 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches islands wildlife sand flights coasts reefs Comments (0)

Mines just don't cut it

Or maybe they do . . .

sunny 22 °C

Where the metal for your aluminium windows probably comes from

Where the metal for your aluminium windows probably comes from


Mining is big business in Australia so we should check out a mine while we're travelling, shouldn't we? Mount Isa Mine digs out silver, lead and zinc but we didn't do a mine tour. No-one in the family felt like it. The Blackwater International Coal Centre offers coal mine tours but not on weekends. Also why pay $45 to get advertised to by coal companies? So we skipped that too.

Then today, almost by accident, we drove into Gladstone and up to the port lookout. Fantastic views of the coal handling facilities - no really! Huge amounts of black coal from Bowen Basin mines are sent on ships all around the world. We saw it being moved off huge long trains and along conveyer belts. Not very good for climate change but there you go. And aluminium (made using huge amounts of coal-powered electricity and therefore also rotten for climate change) goes out from Gladstone. And 28 other things do too. We learnt this at another lookout set up last year by Queensland Alumina Limited. It has views over their massive smelter (see above photo) and nicely written information about how aluminium is made. Did you know that the red pebbles of bauxite used to make alumina are called 'pisolite'? Michael and Susie, who showed no interest in aluminium, thought that was hilarious.

On a different note, but related to pebbles, we now have a chip in our windscreen. We can't complain. We've driven more than 13,000km and all we've had is a flat tyre (when car was parked 5 days and able to be fixed after) and this glass chip.

Posted by kecasumi 21:47 Archived in Australia Tagged mines Comments (1)

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