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Published: January 12th 2011
Christmas / New Year
On Christmas Morning there is an extremely high tide. As we head for the beach, the Noosa River waters are lapping the roadside.
For months we have promised ourselves– ‘we will swim in the Pacific on Christmas morn’ and miraculously, today the sun has risen out of a blue ocean!
At the beach the surf is washing up against the edge of the dunes.
There are several hundred other folks spread over a couple of kilometers of the shore. They’re body or board surfing, swimming, paddling and just buffling around in the rolling waves. We plunge through the surf to join them. Everyone’s overjoyed to have some sunshine and a steady pacific breeze blowing in.
We’d raced out without sun hats or drinking water so we kept it short and sweet and came back home for a Christmas breakfast of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs with great coffee. Greetings and calls to and from family and friends and a stroll round the neighborhood then by 2 o’clock the clouds rolled in and rain began again. So we read and rested before making a festive supper of prawn/avocado appetizer, then snapper in garlic/ginger gravy
with rice, green beans and green salad washed down with a fine white wine. Except for the rain the day unfolded as it should. Being here is our gift to each other.
Boxing Day the rain is intense. The TV news and forecasts are grim as serious flooding is inevitable all up and down Queensland State. The remnants of a tropical cyclone have stalled across the top of the continent and a huge trough extends half way down the east coast.
Further south in Sydney a fleet of 73 sailboats is gathering for the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. The weather there is overcast and down below the New South Wales and Victoria coasts along the Southern Ocean section of the course, a strong cold front is moving across Bass Straight with 40 knot headwinds.
Rick and Dot phoned from NZ …………….. “It’s fine and sunny here ……… going fishing every day.”
But here at their house in Noosa we’re humming tunes to try to keep smiling…..”Did you ever see the rain?”…… “Purple rain” …….”Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain”…. Suddenly ‘monsoon’ is more than a word to us. A hundred or so kilometers to
our north the floods are epic, and far to the south half a dozen boats
in the race are dismasted or give up, but here we are safe and soggy on our hill in the forest.
Things are a bit boring ……reading, watching TV etc. J worries (jokingly) if we will get SAD!
But at Bundaberg, where we visited my cousin a couple of weekends ago, the centre of town is seriously underwater. The greatest flood in its history 8 meters over normal river level!
Many boats in the river dragged moorings and are badly damaged and 400 homes are inundated to the roof tops. The News says the total area of floodwater in OZ, is greater than the surface area of Germany (interesting choice for a comparison?).
Nilam, Dot’s long time friend returned to Forest Acres to break us out of our wet mood. She came with two friends Marc and Lynette. They came with Margarita fixins to start off their holiday. They are going to Tasmania in the new year. So new conversations around the dinner table brightened the moods
Thursday …………… There’s a brief break in the monsoon with thinner cloud and watery
sunshine for a few hours so we went to visit Hazel and Jim Lambourne, Rick’s stepmother and father, up in Melany in the Blackall Ranges. Rick’s dad is facing oncoming Alzheimer’s and things are getting more difficult to manage on their mini-farm. But we had a fine lunch and fascinating conversations about their years working in Africa on agricultural aid projects, especially in Ethiopia.
Their farmhouse is a hundred year old classic Queenslander with an old-fashioned wooden water tower out back. They have a couple of Shetland ponies and a dozen sheep, and produce fine homespun yarn. We walked in the paddock and fed the ponies but finally needed to get on the road to take a long way home over the hills.
We drove out on a ridge to look out on the Glasshouse Mountains (so named by Capt. Cook) where many craggy, old volcanic plugs rise above the piedmont then along the windy Balmoral Ridge of the Blackall Range, with spectacular views 40 kilometers out to the coast, before finding a logging road through the Mapleton Forest Reserve that brought us back to Cooroy - our nearest town. As we got home ………… the rain rolled
hazel and judi
macadamia tree with staghorn fern growing in it
New Years Eve ……………”Just a’ working in the rain” we make new gates for the swimming pool. And a second feeder for the many parrots, loriquets, and rosellas that demand food and shelter from the downpours.
Dinner with Mark, Lynette and Nilam. Drinks and fireworks at the yacht club. A couple of dances at the RSL ( aussie Legion) then wander on river bank to see in the new year with more fireworks - as big flocks of screaming cockatoos circle overhead – disturbed by all the hullabaloo under their roosts. ..
Of the 33 days we’ve been in Queensland, monsoonal rains fell on 22 of them! A dozen people have died, swept away in their cars when they tried to drive through waters rushing across causeways and bridges or when they drowned trying to swim or raft in the raging streams. Thousands are still homeless.
But on our last full day the rains stopped and it dawned clear and bright. Up early, we plunged into the pool then drove to Timbeerwah Mountain to hike up to the lookout and get a final view of the beautiful countryside in which we have been living for
old volcano cones
the past month. We drove home via Pomona and our little town of Cooroy, feeling a little sad and nostalgic already for the Australia we’ve started to love.
After lunch we took up an invite to visit Ross Blair and his wife Pita Cave. Ross is one of the greatest boat builders in OZ with many race-winning catamarans and fine wooden boats under his belt. We go into his boatshed where he is building a very large catamaran. It is essentially all together but much finishing and fitting out remains. We bitch about temperamental clients and slow funding etc and look at a beautiful cedar strip rowing skiff recently finished; before getting sociable around the table. We show pics our boat, home and sailing adventures and check out their living arrangements – in a sectioned off area of the boat shed sort of like a horizontal version of our place, but with a separate airy bedroom. Great talks, much philosophy, good wine … boat people get to know each other very easily, conversation gets deep fast ….but then with a westering sun, it’s time to go.
But for us now it really means …….. go……….
We have to pack
and leave at 6AM to catch the Tilt Train (the fastest narrow-gauge on the planet) to Brizzy.
Brisbane. We arrived on a sunny day with only a few hours to walk in the riverside parks, visit the Art gallery of Queensland and State Museum (where goannas, ducks, ibis and ring-tailed possums wandered between the tables at the lunch restaurant.)
Brisbane is built on the meanders of its eponymous river. To paraphrase Ike and Tina Turner ………’if you wanna see the good side of a city …….. take a trip on a river boat’………so we did. Then strolled the streets as the sun set.
We enjoyed the Youth Hostel in Brizzy with its roof top pool and in- house bar and restaurant.
And in the morning we flew away with Emirates Airline to Auckland to start our next adventure
Our final dinner on OZ - kangaroo kebab and XXXX beer ……….. ‘Too good!’ Thank you Australia!
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