Retirement, Seasons of Life, Transitions, Travel

Final Chapter of My Adventures in Australia 2020

The first weekend restrictions were lifted on visiting parks for recreation, we went back to the Khola Botanical Gardens to walk. It was as beautiful as ever, with the water lily pond where a cute little turtle climbed onto a lily pad and then jumped off again. We walked the circuitous route down to the river and back getting our fair share of cardio exercise!  The following weekend we were able to go to Slaughter Falls a lovely parkland area below Mt Coot-ha where we walked along a winding trail where I came across the tallest, straightest tree I have ever seen! The Falls were dry but we enjoyed the walk amongst all the beautiful indigenous trees. On the way home, we went to the look out on Mt Coot-ha for a cup of coffee which we enjoyed sitting on the lawn overlooking the city.  

Another Sunday, we were able to go to Springfield dam, which we walked around enjoying the sunshine and fresh air watching the fish swimming beneath the water lilies and waterfowl paddling along the edges of the lake dipping for food. The water dragons were out in force basking in the sunshine. We went on a bit further to Orion Park, to walk along the trail, I nearly stood on a snake that looked just like a twig, which sent me into flight mode screaming as I ran away. My daughter though it was a poisonous brown snake. After that scare we made our way slowly back along the trail to the car after a lovely weekend out of the house! 

The Kohla Botanical Gardens became our favorite ‘get out of the house’ place to go as it was not too far away in Ipswitch and it is set in such beautiful scenery. We also took a trip down to the Brisbane River at Anstead where we enjoyed a walk along the river bank, saw a couple of bush turkeys running around and my grandson did some fishing.  We also had several walks in the Anstead Bush Reserve. My daughter and I walked down the trail to Sugars Quarry, it was a very steep road so I stopped halfway as I knew I would have to walk up it again!  We walked a very long circuitous route back to the car park instead. 

When we were allowed to drive a bit further we decided to take a trip up to Toowoomba about 120 miles away, where we looked at the beautiful vistas from the top of the mountain, it was very cold up there so we went into the town for a cup of hot coffee. We went to see the windmill museum so I could photograph the old windmills, which have special memories for me.  I also wanted to see the Japanese Gardens but they were closed, we did walk around the park though, looking at flowers before heading home. We did the scenic drive back to Brisbane along the Lockyer Valley which was badly flooded in 2011. This rich fertile valley is the breadbasket of Queensland, mile upon mile of irrigated crops and agricultural lands. 

My penultimate weekend, we went into Brisbane so I could say goodbye to the city. We drove to New Farm and walked through the gardens to the Avatar Tree, so my grandson could climb it. This huge Fig Tree is a feature, with a children’s park built around it, and where I have made a memory of my grandson each time I visit. We walked down to the City Cat Quay to take a ride up the river, this was a wonderful experience as we looked at the city skyscrapers and the skyline from the comfort of our seats. We disembarked at South Bank and walked through the gardens were the bougainvillea were out which was what I had hoped to see. After a lovely cup of hot coffee, we slowly made our way back to the pier to catch the City Cat back up the river to New Farm.  I was sad that COVID had prevented a visit into the shopping precinct of Brisbane, but guess it also saved me some money!  It was so good to have spent this time with my family making memories, as who knows if I will ever come back this way again! 

Retirement, Seasons of Life, Travel

Highlights from Morton Bay, Sunshine Coast and the Glasshouse Mountains

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After my return from Perth, the last three weeks of my stay in Australia was meant to be a bit of family time and return home, but the shut downs after the Corona virus put paid to those plans. I stayed on another three months to see out the worst of the pandemic after three flights were cancelled. In many ways it was a bonus for me being able to spend more time with the family helping out with normal household chores. Once I got my head around the uncertainty of it all, I caught up with my life, trying to live it on four continents, messaging back and forth, and getting on with my artwork and writing. 

2020-05-02 16.29.20The first Saturday back we had a lovely trip out to Wellington Point, Morton Bay, with Bribie Island nestled in the entrance to the Bay, this the main sea port for ships entering Brisbane Harbor. We picnicked under an indigenous Morton Bay Fig Tree with its huge grey trunk and extending branches which threw a good shade to protect us from the sun.  We walked along the boardwalk to the pier where we experienced a stiff breeze and the salty smell of the sea. We stood with the wind ruffling our hair watching red and white sailed yachts tacking their way back to the harbor with billowing sails, before going to the café for a cup of coffee. We drove home again around the outskirts of Brisbane where we were able to see a different view of the city than that from the top of Mt Coot-ha. 

20200315_1538371044997727639563647.jpgSunday saw us walking through the Botanical Gardens and the Biosphere, looking at exotic plants and ferns. We made our way down to the Japanese Gardens with their peaceful lily pads, ordered bushes and tinkling stream flowing through the stepping stones. We also encountered enormous lizards which fascinated me at nearly two feet long! 

20200504_1555174978138841950680901.jpgThe final weekend before the ban on travel we took a weekend trip to the Sunshine Coast.  We stopped along the way at the famous Pie Shop where I had a delicious curried chicken pie for lunch. We stayed at a self-catering cabin in Moochadoore, right near the beach. We headed off to the beach in the afternoon enjoying the sand between our toes and the waves lapping around our feet, watching the sun set over the ocean. 

20200321_1243013802703388053241495.jpgThe highlight of this trip was a drive to Maleny and Montville, right up in the Glasshouse Mountains. We had lunch at The Secret Place, it lives up to its name hidden deep in the forest on the shores of Lake Maroon. We sat on the deck enjoying the view, framed by tropical plants and the artworks and rustic carved furniture.  I was privileged to meet Gary Myers at his Maleny Studio, an artist I very much admire for his colorful paintings of the area.  He gave me a brief painting lesson on how he does his paintings, it turns out he was also a cartographer in his younger days!  I bought one of his Art books as a memento.  We went back to Moochadoory for dinner and walk along the beach. Sunday, we headed down to Maloolabah to walk around the harbor and beaches. It was quite warm so we did not stay too long, we were excited to find a flame lily growing alongside the road, a symbol of our country of origin! We then drove home via the Pie shop for lunch after a very pleasant and fruitful trip.   

20200321_1430013118447520155204852.jpgThis was the last trip before travel restrictions were lifted in Queensland. Thus, followed about six weeks of total self-isolation going nowhere except twice out to the shops for urgent supplies and my daily walk up the road to the little park by Hibiscus and Paperbark Rds, Moggill. On my walks I looked closely for interesting or exciting things as I observed the trees, plants and bird life around me. When you take the time to really look, it is amazing what will inspire you! I spent time sewing masks, painting and writing, so nothing really changed from my daily routine at home. 

Retirement, Seasons of Life, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, Travel

Filling up My Creative Well in Margaret River

This is the second half of my trip to Western Australia, my hosts had planned the itinerary according to my love of nature and art. We often we travel with companions whose taste differs from ours, so what a treat to have friends who shared my interests and accommodated all my photo stops.

The following day we drive along a scenic route through the Margaret River Vineyards to the Chocolate Company.  I had never seen so much chocolate in my life, we watched them making these tasty treats and finished off experiencing the most exquisite Mocha coffee with chocolate buttons at the bottom which we had to stir to melt. It was too tempting to stay here much longer so we then took the Caves Road which took us to my host’s favorite place on earth, which he called Jerusalem Hollow, which is part of the Boranup Karri Forest in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. I could see why he enjoyed this so much it was a view to behold with the sunlight filtering through the leaves onto the trunks of these enormous Karri and Jarrah Trees, beautiful tall straight trees with mottled gold and grey bark, their wood is exceptionally hard and is quite often used for furniture and railway sleepers. In the days of sailing ships, they made good masts.

Jerusalem Hollow

We went up to the viewing point and appreciated this part of God’s creation, before heading on to the Boyanup Gallery where furniture and objects made from these woods was on exhibition, such beautiful grain in the polished surfaces of the wooden furniture. There were also paintings by local artists as well on Exhibition. We carried on back up the coast to Surfer’s Point and the Margaret River Mouth which was not as big as I had expected. Big surfing competitions are held in this area which had plenty of parking and view places for the competitors and supporters of the surfers. We saw someone skimming the waves on his orange surf kite, the wind was the strongest I had experienced in Australia at this point, so we sheltered in a very artistic shelter designed rather like a shell! 

Surfers Bay

Driving though Prevelly we saw the damage to the areas that had had fires two years before where several homes were lost, the vegetation had started to grow again, but the evidence of dead trees with their ghostly heads rising out of the carpet of green was a reminder and caution of the recent devastation of fires in Australia 

Cow Town

We drove into Margaret River town for lunch where we enjoyed a Subway Sandwich and then went for a taster at the Fudge Factory shop which we considered dessert, they had a large variety of fudges and nougat for sale. On the return drive home, we went through a place called Cowaramup “Cow Town”, this unique town that has 42 life-sized models of cows all around the town in different positions, grazing or sitting! I took some pictures to prove this! I am not sure how this came about. It is a wine growing area and in 2012 broke the Guiness World Record of largest gathering of people dressed as cows!

Kangaroos on the golf course

After a cup of tea at home, we walked to the local golf course to see the kangaroos, which had obviously made this their home, they were quite comfortable with us walking past them as they lay about the greens, bounding off when they were bored of watching us. Spooky fire burnt trees lined the golf course evidence of a fire in previous years as well.  

Canal Rock

The next day we drove to Canal Rock, a geological masterpiece of fault lines bisecting the rocks in two directions, leaving channels for the sea to flow through as the water crashes through the gaps.  A little wooden bridge crossed the channel to a viewing platform, this was a very special place for my hosts as their son had proposed to his girlfriend there.  They had put tea lights and rose petals along the bridge to lead her to the platform where their son went down on bended knee to propose – she accepted! We then drove down to Smith’s Beach which was a lovely Holiday Resort and caravan park, also with a nice surfing beach.  Our journey progressed to Yallinup where we looked at the town and then went to the Art Gallery which was quite extensive, with some lovely paintings and different styles. After lunch at home we walked into Dunsborough to look at the Christian Fletcher Gallery, a local nature photographer, with some amazing almost abstract photographs which had had put onto products. We competed the day at the Dunsborough Tavern, where I had a very nice meal of vegetarian hamburger.  

Bussleton Jetty

As all good things come to an end so did this wonderful artsy time away. We packed up and left Dunsborough behind us driving along the coastal road to Bussleton where we stopped and walked along the foreshore and Jetty.  The historical Jetty is 1.50 miles long and has a train that runs along its length so you can enjoy the ride and go out to see the corals. This was quite expensive and would take up a bit of time so we just went into the museum where we could enjoy looking at the history on an interactive map, which was really interesting. The Bussleton Iron Man Triathlons are held here and one can hire bikes if required, as there are many good cycle paths around the area, and the ocean around the jetty is where the swim takes place, with grandstands built into the beach for spectators. 

The jetty

After a coffee we walked along the esplanade for a bit licking our ice creams before setting off again back to Perth. We drove past the Vasse Estuary which was enormous with its cute settlement just outside of Bussleton. Then it was time to hit the highway again breaking our journey at the Miami Bakehouse with its award-winning pies, where I had the most delicious croissant. The gardens were decorated with brightly colored Art Kangaroos. We arrived back to Perth, and after a cup of tea we walked along the shore of the lagoon in the opposite direction to what we have previously done, enjoying the views of the marina and open water.    

Saturday morning, we took an early trip to Cottesloe Beach to see the Sculptures by the Sea Exhibition, Elizabeth Gilbert the author had been here the day before! We had an inspiring time looking at this extensive Exhibition with its large works of art placed along the beach and the jetty, some pieces were quite moving, especially one by an Iraqi artist symbolizing the freedom of relationships in Australia. My hosts had invited some of their family over in the afternoon where we had a good catch up chat on our life in Rhodesia and the good old days at the Geological Survey before my farewell dinner at the Bull Creek Chinese Restaurant. We had a delicious meal, I had my favorite Chicken and Cashew, they served such big portions we had to take some home with us.  We were up very early next morning to head for the airport and my flight back to Brisbane after my creative well had been well and truly filled thanks to my awesome hosts. 

Retirement, Seasons of Life, Transitions, Travel

Enjoying Retirement in Cape Naturalist near Dunsborough, WA

One of the things that many retired people look forward to is to travel, I was no exception, desiring to see the world and re connect with old friends. This trip to Australia was a fulfillment of  those dreams. I was fortunate to have timed my trips just weeks ahead of the COVID 19 epidemic when this would not have been possible. I am truly blessed to have had this opportunity which may never be a possibility for some of you as travel will not be the same again for a long time, so I wanted to share this with you so you can enjoy it with me..

The drive through from Perth to Dunsborough was uneventful as we drove through the Western Australian open bushland with low scrub trees, plants and open fields, quite different vegetation to Queensland’s tropical forests. After driving through Church Mile, an area donated for church and scouting camp sites, we arrived in Dunsborough and went straight to the Sculpture by the Bay Exhibition as it was closing at two o’clock. We wandered through the sculptures, some of which were very inspiring. A large clay snake made by school children with texturing from local natural objects, reminding us to be aware of the environment and bush safety, this was certainly brought back memories of our youth spent in Rhodesia with dodging puffadders and cobras! There were also some pretty poignant pieces, I liked the one of a man sitting quietly looking out to sea, very meditative and part of nature. I thoroughly enjoyed this exhibition, a red heart made out of broken pieces of reflective glass from crashed motor vehicles really spoke to my heart. When we had finished at the Sculptures, we went to my host’s apartment where we had lunch and enjoyed a cup of tea in the garden.

Reflective glass heart

There were lots of noisy birds in the garden, magpies, twenty eights (parrot like green birds) and others, attracted by the bird seed my hosts fed them! Later that day we walked around the corner to a student art exhibition at the Gallery on the Hill, to be further inspired by local artists. I watched one lady doing exquisite botanical paintings in water color. In the late afternoon we walked down to the beach which was not more than a hundred meters from the house. It was pretty as a picture mesmerizing us as the sun sparkled on the ripples and the gentle waves lapped at the shore in the late afternoon sunshine, while gulls sorted through debris on the beach. We walked the long way home past the Gallery on the Hill, finishing the day with dinner relaxing on the lawn telling yarns of the good old days. 

Pullman’s Resort

The next day we drove down to Meelup beach (‘up’ in aboriginal language means ‘water’), then onto Point Marchant named after a WA historian who specialized in this area where the first French Explorer, Nicolas Baudin had arrived and mapped the coastline in 1801, this area is called Cape Naturaliste after his second ship. The sea here was a tapestry of extraordinary blue and turquoise strips and patches reflecting the blue sky above. From there we drove to Bunker Bay whose lovely long white beaches stretched into the far distance, and onto Pullman’s Resort where we stopped for coffee. This was a very upmarket place so we only had coffee, which we enjoyed looking out over the forests and the sea. The buildings blended into the scenery with roofs painted the color of the forest so they did not jar the eye. The foyer was decorated with beautiful pastel paintings of the ocean by a local artist, Ann Steer, they were a true representation of the mood of the place, the turquoise seas and tumbling waves of Bunker Bay. After exploring the resort with its luxury cabins situated in the forest around a small pond and walking down to the beach, we drove on to the lighthouse on Cape Naturaliste. From here you can get beautiful views

Point Marchant

across Geographe Bay, named after Nicolas Baudin’s flagship, and the Leeuwin National Park. This was quite expensive to visit and I am not good on heights, so I decided to give this one a miss. We drove onto Eagle Bay where there are very expensive homes, but no water, so everyone is dependent on their rainwater tanks. We returned to the apartment and later in the afternoon walked along the beach again to the parking lot where the Curry and Rice pop-up van was parked.  We ordered our Chicken Corma and poppadum’s and sat at the picnic tables enjoying our meal watching the waves and children jumping into the water from the pier. It was really relaxing to just sit and enjoy my retirement connecting with old friends. 

Retirement, Seasons of Life, Transitions, Travel

Rhodesia by the Sea in Perth!

Elizabeth Quay -Perth

LIfe’s Journey takes us through many transitions, one of which is immigration. My generation grew up in a time of political turmoil in Africa, when the winds of change forced many of my friends and I to seek lands where we could once again put our shoulder to the wheel and flourish and bring up our families in safety. One of the purposes of this journey was to reconnect with old friends.

My visit to Perth was to spend time with long standing friends and a colleague from my first job at the Rhodesian Geological Survey, fifty-seven years ago! They met me at the airport and after taking me home for a cup of tea, we went out to Freemantle to look at The Sculptures by the Beach, it was a lovely evening with the sun slowly sinking on the horizon behind the sculptures. This was quite magical as one of the sculptures was of the sunset, so viewing them side by side was special!. When we had completed our viewing of the sculptures, we enjoyed fish and chips at the famous Kailois Restaurant on the quay, before heading home to bed. 

Saturday was spent with other ex-Rhodesian friends, who had been our neighbors; our children had grown up together.  We had a very pleasant lunch at the LoQuay Restaurant with a view over the lagoon. It was so good to catch up on the past forty odd years, the good, the bad and the struggles. They had arrived in Perth with four children, a tent and $500.00 dollars to start their new life. We had fun reminiscing over our children’s adventures in Rhodesia, very special memories! 

In the evening, I walked along the Carring-Swan River walkway with my hosts as far as the Dome Restaurant, a local landmark.  It was a very enjoyable walk as we chatted and looked at the beautiful scenery, catching a glimpse of jelly fish near the Jetty and other sea fowl along the beaches. Apparently, dolphins are also seen in this lagoon at times! We spent the evening talking about our travel adventures! 

Sunday, we caught the train to Elisabeth Quay, a new development cut into the bank of the river in the City, making it a good place for the ferry to pick up and set down passengers. It is also a wonderful place to hang out with friends at the coffee shops and eateries. We looked around the main precinct at the Bell Tower and lovely bougainvillea arches. The children’s playground had a wall with all the children’s names written into it who were at school on a specific day in Perth – what a great idea!

First Contact Statue inspired by the Aboriginal people’s first sighting of European Settlers sailing boats.

After a delicious cup of Cappuccino at the Ritz Carlton my friends left me at the Railway station to catch the train to Joondelup where I met up with another ex- Rhodesian friend, I had not seen since she was a child! She met me at the station and we ate lunch the Dome, where we caught up on the intervening forty odd years. She also had interesting stories of finding family members she never knew existed! She then took me to Ocean Reef,a fairly new small harbor and new development, which was near her house.

I enjoyed seeing where she spent her leisure time, and had a breath of ocean breezes at the same time. We then headed over to Sorrento Quay and Hillary’s Boatyard which we explored, taking in the holiday atmosphere of the place and watching children jump from the Jetty and island into the water. We finished the day with another cup of coffee before she took me back to the station to catch the train back to Bull Creek.  The train was very busy as the Road to Hell Highway had been closed, for a parade in honor of ACDC whose one band member was born in Freemantle. My hosts met me at the station, where we shared more memories of our common history, before packing for our road trip to Dunsborough and Margaret River region.