Life takes us on strange and difficult pathways that we would never have dreamt of, so I thought I would share this last intended grand trip with you! After my divorce, I made a dream list of what I wanted my life to look like. One of those dreams was to travel, I had no idea of how that could ever be possible, but other problems I faced in life were actually the opportunities to make this dream possible. My children grew up, moved away, and created their own lives on three different continents leaving me on the fourth! I then had the opportunity to travel to visit them and so fulfilled my dream of travel.
It was my daughter’s fiftieth birthday that brought me to Australia this year, I was determined to make the most of the opportunity and see other longtime friends and family as well, little knowing what awaited around the next corner. After I had booked the ticket which was via Hong Hong which I had never been to before, I started to feel a strong resistance to the trip not knowing COVID-19 was just around the corner.
The whole trip started on the wrong foot when I phoned Cathay Pacific for a request for airport assistance, they told me my flight had been changed and I was flying that night instead of the Wednesday. I had to rush the last-minute packing and get to the airport on time. The flight to Hong Kong was quite pleasant and the staff helpful. Arriving at Hong Kong airport I was met and taken to the Lounge as I had requested, so was able to rest and have a meal of delicious Thai curry with vegetables, during the seven-hour layover. The flight to Brisbane was pleasant. My family met me at the airport and it felt good to be back in Brisbane again. I did not feel as bad as I expected after the 32-hour flight during which I caught up on the Downton Abbey Movie, it was rather disappointing after having watched the series.
The first day we took an easy drive-up Mt Coot-ha, one of my favorite look-out places over the city and the Brisbane river. Following up with a cup of tea at the Café and a walk around the Botanical Gardens. One of the big lizards decided to chase me as I took his photo, I made a hasty retreat! The botanical gardens is one of my favorite paces with brightly colored flowers, interesting tropical plants and big lizards.
My daughter’s birthday was celebrated in style with an English High tea at the Forget-me-not, served out of dainty flowered chinaware holding tasty treats, with beautifully folded serviettes to look like flowers and a dinner at the Bellbowrie Tavern!
Sunday, we drove to Usk, to the interesting little Nash Tearoom which I had been to before, it was still unique and quaint with delicious food and the history and Art gallery on the walls. Interestingly, there was a notice up for the Woman’s day of prayer for Zimbabwe! After my delicious lunch of avocado salad, we went on to the Wivenhoe Dam enjoying the jacaranda and gum trees and the lovely view over the dam. We progressed homeward via Colleges Crossing, where we did a circuitous walk around the picnic site!
We visited the Japanese Gardens at Ipswich enjoying the lovely waterlily pond and more big lizards! We also went through the Nature Centre with easy accessibility to see birds, various night animals, wallabies, kangaroos, black swans and emus to mention a few. There were also a huge flock of bats in the trees, very messy creatures. We finished with lunch at The Hog’s Breath, which was very pleasant and not too busy!
Dolphins, Aboriginal Smoking Ceremony and a Snake!
Another local trip we did was to SEA WORLD on the Gold Coast We spent a delightful day watching dolphins performing with people, penguins, seals, sharks, rays, corals and turtles and tropical fish. The polar bears were asleep, and I felt sorry for them as they looked so hot. The thing I enjoyed the most was the jelly fish I went back twice to see them as their sinuous shapes and umbrella like forms pulsated through the water, quite fascinating! We also were treated to a show of water sport with extremely high levels of skill.
I took my grandson into Brisbane to the Goma Art Gallery where looked at the aboriginal art with its raw colors and layers, using rocks, flowers and natural organic markings as themes. I think it was the colors of the Australian bush, the ochres and blue skies that appealed the most. We also went to an interactive exhibition on water, a vital resource of which it seems Australia has a feast or famine! Water is definitely an important theme for me. The children’s section had underwater scene with corals using raw and recycled materials. We also saw some of the fashion designs from the islands with their vibrant colors and patterns. We waited under the shade of a flamboyant tree looking at the tropical gardens with rich greens, for the Ferry to take us up the river. How I just love the red and green colors, so reminiscent of Rhodesia. We sailed up the Brisbane River to Hamilton passing New Farm, on the Brisbane Roar ferry looking at the changing skyline through bridges and across open water. On reaching Hamilton we returned the same way, back to South Bank as it was a stinking hot and humid day and we had no energy to do much.
We took a shopping trip to Oxley and on the way home we drove through the Correctional Services and Mental Health Campus at Ipswich. It is pretty extensive with lots of buildings including the historical mental health institution which is now a heritage building and not in use. My daughter explained what all the buildings were although we were not able to go in or get out of the car, but it was an interesting tour all the same!
I had an invitation to the Nurses Union Meeting with an Aboriginal Smoking Ceremony. I felt a fraud being there as a nurse, had put on my badge ‘retired’, one of the nurses said to me that nurses never retire! The healing ceremony was interesting, as the Aborigines danced and played their digeridoos, they then lit palm fiber by rubbing sticks until it caught fire, making a lot of smoke. They placed eucalyptus leaves on to burn, then went around the circle of people, blowing the smoke over them in a similar way to natives do with sage. After the Ceremony we walked all the way down the river from West Side to South Bank, in the hot sun to the Queensland Museum where we had refreshments before heading off to Fish Lane to view the wall art, which was quite impressive. I noticed this is a new feature, more public art, sculptures and murals.
Another trip was to the Kohlo Botanical Gardens the other side of the River, another lovely lily pond with a walk through the forested area, the only distraction was the plethora of mosquitoes who thought their Sunday dinner had arrived! Great stands of bamboo h reminded me of the home I had left in Rhodesia many years ago. We followed a trail around the Creek, and looked over the Brisbane river which appeared green and slimy. We saw a beautiful lizard by the waterfall and a bush turkey making my day. My daughter had teased me about not seeing a snake and as we were crossing a little bridge, she grabbed me shouting to wait; there was a snake slithering across the bridge in front of me, eeek!!!