My Island Home :)

This post is a little delayed, but I got here eventually🙂

The last month I have been in my island paradise…. on Thursday Island.

IMG_2956

\

It has literally been like coming home (although it’s only short term). Slid straight back into work and life. New people arriving all the time, so social occasions recommenced, running into old friends and make new ones every step of the way. The weather has just been perfect..the last few days have seen the wind pick up, but before that it was pristine! A few showers about but the real wet season seems complete and the humidity is almost gone. The ocean is all shades of blue and green and every color in between.

IMG_2824IMG_2966 IMG_3118

and of course sunsets just as spectacular!

IMG_3059

In between work, I have managed the odd adventure….starting with Kazu Pearl Farm on Friday Island. Just as amazing as previous visits…Japanese food that is just to die for. Being in the land of deep fried everything on TI, makes the Japanese delicacies all the more delicious.

IMG_3134 IMG_3137

This one is pearl meat….to die for delicious!

IMG_3136

A few pics of the surrounds….our beautiful deck with water views for lunch!

IMG_3162

IMG_3161

IMG_3160

After the delicious food and drinks on the deck, we had the pearl demonstration with great explanations about how they farm pearls and how to get good results. Intense to say the least! This gentleman has been farming here for 42 years!

IMG_3140

Beautiful surrounds and a gorgeous gift shop finished off the day. Plus a photo with the pearl man himself!

IMG_3159IMG_3166 IMG_3173 IMG_3176 IMG_3189 IMG_3190

What else can be said? This is just a gorgeous part of the world and I love being part of it! Hidden treasures everywhere! More soon!🙂

Paluma Paluma!

A day to adventure in Townsville took us north to Paluma! A beautiful part of the country side! It’s about a 45 minute drive….the majority on the Bruce Highway until the turn off which turns into a windy narrow road up the mountain.

IMG_2026

P1040676

Elevation 2925ft and population predicted to be less than 100, it’s a small town with a Cafe, several cute holiday houses for rent and a few places for school camps. It’s scattered with short and long walks, lookouts and picnic areas and is the gateway to several lakes, creeks and waterfalls. After a beautiful, and extremely affordable lunch at the Cafe, we took directions from a local to a lookout just on the outskirts of town. Beautiful pathway with a more beautiful lookout! A hidden gem!

IMG_1997 IMG_1988 IMG_1995

The temperature was perfectly comfortable, a nice change from the hot and humid Townsville. A light breeze and a touch of cloud cover to help! The town is very much designed for day travellers, with good signage, maps and a spot to record any Cassowary sightings right in the middle of town….I loved this!

P1040677 P1040678

We furthered our journey to Birthday Creek….a beautiful 4wd track to get there….mostly well maintained with a few dodgy parts….was glad to actually be in a 4wd. Beautiful forest to drive through and only one car passed…so nice and quite.

IMG_2001

Crossing a little bridge…you can see Birthday Creek flowing…crystal clear, beautiful rainforest and birds chirping!

IMG_2004

We got to the carpark for Birthday Creek Falls and had a short walk through the rainforest. Perfectly blissful.

IMG_2025

IMG_2024

Five minutes later….crystal clear flowing water….we explored and I dipped in….cool and refreshing!

IMG_2010 IMG_2013 IMG_2015 IMG_2017 IMG_2018 IMG_2022

On our way back down the mountain, we stopped at Little Crystal Creek….it’s the actual tourist stop…and covered in tourists it was. We didn’t enjoy this nearly as much as where we had been earlier. Still beautiful but just too many people to truly enjoy it.

P1040682P1040685

There is a beautiful bridge at these falls with some interesting history. It was constructed between 1930 and 1936 as part of the Unemployment Relief Scheme during the Great Depression. This included the road to Paluma, requiring a large workforce with limited mechanical assistance. The bridge was constructed with concrete but faced with stone. It is quite beautiful…with the creek flowing underneath.

 P1040683 P1040687

Down the mountain we went…and to Frosty Mango…a bit further north on the highway. An array of tasty homemade fruit ice creams…made on the mango farm. A refreshing treat to say the least…and a perfect way to finish the day!🙂

IMG_2039

I found paradise!!!

I am often the finder of paradise and I guess that’s largely due to the fact that I search for it! But this one was kind of a surprise!

I am on the road again…mainly for uni in Townsville. That meant I was forced (always a tough gig) to stay somewhere coastal on the drive up from Brisbane….and look what I found…..IMG_1897

Welcome to Airlie Beach….I had never been to this beach…thinking it was a big tourist area that didn’t have much more than Cairns or Townsville could offer. But I’m so very glad to have stopped here! It is just beautiful….the views of the islands and the water were just amazing! The beach we absolutely gorgeous!…turtles were playing in the shallows as I sat watching, eating breakfast, sitting on this bench!

IMG_1875 IMG_1877 IMG_1878  IMG_1892

The town is beautiful and clean…well set up for locals and tourists. Plenty of tourists about but not too many (certainly not at the this time of year).

IMG_1938IMG_1940

I was lucky enough to score the markets being on….everything from locally grown fruit, bales of hay, homemade foods, crafts and sewing, massage….the whole works.

IMG_1888

IMG_1887

IMG_1886

Tunes played out across the little town making it all the better…so welcoming and friendly. Devastated to move on and drive away from this gorgeous view! Absolutely divine! Definitely put this one on the list!🙂

IMG_1901 IMG_1902

A splash of rain!

Depending on what news station you watch or listen to, you may or may not know about the great rains occurring throughout Central Australia. In most cases, it has been the perfect amount….of course not hitting everywhere but giving some regions the relief they needed! My friend in Mount Isa sent me a picture of Lake Moondarra over the weekend….So I had a look at the photos I took at the fishing competition we went to in October and wah-la!

10928992_10152757334393495_2289272901871716165_n

The top picture…October with the lake at 22%….the bottom, this past weekend at 74%!

May the rains continue!🙂

Thats a wrap! For now ;)

Well 2015 came hard and fast didn’t it! My time in Hughenden wrapped up faster than ever and I was bound for Brisbane before I knew it…making it home safely on Christmas Eve! I drove the Bruce Highway down from Ayr, which I am not a fan of, but it got me home in good time….regardless of the tediously busy highway.

My time in Hughenden was fabulous…who knew that such a small place had so much to discover and explore. Queensland is full of surprises. So a quick wrap up……

NUMBER ONE!

Best show you the hospital….the cutest hospital campus ever! Gorgeous buildings with verandahs and big windows! The grounds so beautifully kept…a helipad at our front door and the nurses quarters out the back! Delightful!

IMG_0272

IMG_0262-2

NUMBER TWO!

My visit to the Flinders Discovery Centre was a definite highlight! P1030880

THEY HAVE A REAL DINOSAUR! I was completely amazed! It’s so big! Its a Muttaburrasaurus!

P1040075

P1040078

P1040076

I won’t load the 50 photos I took, but just give you a few examples of amazing bits and pieces they have. Fish, shells, dinos….it’s all super dooper old and found in our outback.

P1040092

P1040095

Oh I loved this one….a dinosaur egg!!!

P1040103

The centre also had a large section dedicated to farming…mainly sheep. This area is largely cattle now, but back in the day it was sheep sheep sheep. They have many relics and a beautiful set up to display what it would have been like. On this day it was 40 degrees….I can only imagine having to shear a sheep in that heat!

P1040104

P1040119

P1040111

NUMBER THREE!

I had a great day out in Richmond! Only 100kms west of Hughenden, its a gorgeous little town, also known for its’ dinosaurs. At the time I was there, the surrounding farms were dry as a bone…hopefully relief has arrived since I left!

P1040041

Richmond has a man-made lake right next to town so they have enough water for general runnings etc. It made for the most amazing and welcomed fun in their new waterpark…right on the banks of the lake. I had the best time, just standing under the water….fully clothed! Nobody told me there was a waterpark…lucky I had a towel! In 40 degree heat…it was the best ever!!! Aside from that, you can fish in the lake and there are BBQ’s and tables for social times! What a lovely surprise!

P1040024

P1040025

P1040026

P1040027

P1040033

P1040040

As you head into town, there is a massive dinosaur leading you to the visitor information centre…it had a lovely cafe and good info…funny signs for the toilets!

P1040006

P1040008

P1040009

The rest of town is set out like that of a movie….butcher, baker, post office, pub, bank etc. It was hot and not many people were out and about, but the streets were lovely and clean!

P1040020

P1040010

P1040022

P1040012

I went for a drive out towards dinosaur lands…..didnt find anything specific…but many a dry creek bed..hopefully full and flowing by now!

P1040017

NUMBER FOUR!

Ever played pool on a round table??? Its tough! But fun! Loved it! Definitely a highlight!

IMG_0408

And so marks the end of my Hughenden journey! What a great couple of weeks!

FullSizeRender

More soon🙂 and Happy New Year!

It was GORGEous!!!

One of the most popular sights in the Hughenden area is Porcupine Gorge. Soon as you arrive in town, the signs point you northward to find this little beauty! It’s only 67kms up the road and is a must do if you’re ever in this area!

Again we were well resourced with info and directions from the visitor information centre…they have a points of interest handout that highlights some things to see on the way. Some were non-events but a few were quite interesting.

First stop was a camel farm….well that is an assumption. This was not on the list but with a car full of city people we were most impressed. We know nothing about this place at all, but the camels were fun to watch. They have eaten everything they can reach on that farm….one of the property’s that desperately needs water!

P1030898-1.JPG

P1030900-1.JPG

Next stop….Bottle Tree Ridge Lookout….a rock climb to the top and beautiful views. The whole place is covered in rocks! This area is well wet…in parts the ground is muddy and ponds actually exist. How 10kms can have such a difference!

P1030923-1.JPG

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/912/46125464/files/2014/12/img_0383.jpg

 The we arrived at the Porcupine Gorge Lookout. This is about 10kms south of the area where you actually access the gorge. The lookout provides beautiful views of a basically empty gorge…apparently the cliff drop is 120 metres. I can only imagine what it would look like full of water! Amazing! This stop was an easy 20 meters from the carpark on  a lovely concrete path. This area was beautiful maintained and if it wasn’t 40 degrees we would have stayed a little longer.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/912/46125464/files/2014/12/img_0396.jpg

P1030938.JPG

P1030939.JPG

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/912/46125464/files/2014/12/img_0392.jpg

Down the road we arrived at the access point to the gorge. There is a camping area maintained by National Parks….even though the surrounding areas are farms, the actual gorge is a National Park. It was hot! Thats my strongest memory. Grandma, it wouldn’t matter how many little fans you had, it was hot! The ‘walk’ was only 1.2kms down into the gorge…I’d call it more of a climb. Down was slower than our hike back up…lots of loose rocks and thousands of rock made stairs. Beautiful views though!

PC160339.JPG

PC160345.JPG

PC160352.JPG

PC160364.JPGThe heat killed most of the joy….BUT…..when we reached the bottom and found a waterhole our joy was restored!!!!

P1030995.JPG

The water was a perfect temperature….so refreshing and clean. After showering and drinking bore water for two weeks, I was very impressed. It tasted so good!!! We swam and explored. It would be amazing with more water in it, but we made the most of the deep waterhole we found.

P1030968.JPG

P1030944-0.JPG

PC160360.JPG

P1030986.JPGand then after we sat in the cool crystal clear water for far too long, we had to hike back up. By then it was a warm 45 degrees. We nearly died, but made it. Our early start to avoid the heat failed. But the swim was so worth the pain!

PC160363.JPG

A beautiful day in the outback!🙂

Walking Mount Walker!!!!!!

This week has been full of amazing adventures…I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring this part of Australia! Unfortunately we have had some terrible events occurs throughout Australia and overseas this week, so I thought I’d start with some pretty pictures, to highlight simple beauty!

A high point was Mount Walker (pardon the pun)….so good I actually went two days in a row! Mount Walker is about 10kms south of Hughenden standing about 478m above sea level. From afar it looks like a flat topped mountain, which means you can get 360 degree views!

The road has a 16% incline, which doesn’t sound much, but I tell you it was quite the experience driving up there! The road is definitely not suitable for caravans or buses!

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/912/46125464/files/2014/12/img_0316.jpg

There are six lookouts at the top…and there is a handout from the visitors centre which explains what you can see from each lookout. The whole area is very well signed. There are tables and chairs, plenty of space and it’s easy walking between lookouts.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/912/46125464/files/2014/12/img_0293.jpg

In one direction you look over Mitchell Downs and Hughenden, another shows you Jardine Valley and then you can see over to Prairie or look towards the Hughenden-Winton Road. The plains seem never ending….with just like clusters of lights as the sunsets. Views unbelievable.

PC130272.JPG

PC130273.JPG

PC130269.JPG

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/912/46125464/files/2014/12/img_0296.jpg

PC130277.JPG

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/912/46125464/files/2014/12/img_0313.jpg

PC130300.JPG

PC140332.JPG

Just priceless!!! I’d love to get up there for sunrise, but we’ll see if that happens! More soon!🙂

A quick little adventure!

The last few weeks have been quite busy to say the least. I finished up at Mount Isa….loved the girls there and was quite sad to leave but had new adventures awaiting. The drive to Brisbane was quite enjoyable and I have many fun memories of Mount Isa that I will forever cherish.

Shortly after returning I headed to Bangladesh for a Tropical Paediatric class for uni. We had done two weeks prep back in May and headed off to see and learn what we could. The two weeks was most enjoyable considering the country has so many challenges. We saw poverty at its worst with children dying from preventative diseases through to the human spirit willing to do anything to survive another day. It was an inspiring trip with many lessons learnt. It sees the beginning of the end of my Masters degree….I have one exam and four essays to write and I’m done!

With Bangladesh complete, I have headed out on my next adventure…a quick contract in Hughenden, Queensland. There was just a few weeks between getting home and Christmas so I have a short little contract to fill the gap. I have been here a week now, just completed a long string of nights and am about to have a few days off to adventure around the local area.

For those unfamiliar with this area….Hughenden is about four hours drive west of Townsville…also known to be about half way between Townsville and Mount Isa on the Flinders Highway. The population is around 1200 people with surrounding stations in all directions creating a total of 41000km squared!

History states that explorers William Landsborough and Frederick Walker were on a mission to find Burke and Wills when they came across this land, seen to them as rolling grasslands. The first settlement here was in 1863 with Ernest Henry settling Hughenden Station, before the township was established in 1876, initially with the opening of a pub, followed by a blacksmith and butcher. Being on the route to Cloncurry and the mining fields was Hughenden’s biggest asset! In 1887 the town finally began to grow as it became involved in the Great Northern Railway.

Whilst the locals are mainly here producing cattle, some sheep, but mostly cattle, the tourists come for a history older than any of us! Hughenden is situated on the edge of a vast pre-historic inland sea once home to many terrestrial dinosaurs. Fossils have been found here and collected, giving it an extra outback touch!

Anyway I have much to explore and share…so will leave you with some pictures of town…its beautiful and clean…but hot…most days average around 40 degrees. And I will update you asap!!

The main street….at night it lights up with coloured lights!

P1030881.JPG

The visitors centre….very helpful people!

P1030880.JPG

Beautiful fake grass traffic islands!

P1030878.JPG

 and the most beautiful post office!!!!

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/912/46125464/files/2014/12/img_0166.jpg

More soon!🙂

The Mines! The reason we are all here!

I figured I best post about the mines before time gets too far away from me! This post is more photos than facts!

From what I hear the mines only employ around 2500 people, less than half of previous times. Of course the workings of a mine are refined by technology as with everything else.  The mines extend the full length of the city….on the western side…also known as ‘mine side’. The mines entrance would be less than a kilometre from town and the hospital for that matter.

IMG_8070

There are several mines within ‘Mount Isa Mines’, both open cut and the underground mines….you can sort of drive in and around….its impossible to establish what anything is….im sure the system works well, but to me of course its just heaps of buildings and processing things….hopefully you’ll get the picture as to how big it is!

IMG_8013 IMG_8015 IMG_8014 IMG_8012 IMG_8010

Each night we feel the BOOM! as the mine has it explosions for the day….some days you barely notice and on others the buildings shake and windows rattle. You can almost set your watch to it. Explosions also occur in the morning, however they aren’t felt as often. We have several smoke stacks, but only one seems to power on. The poof that blows out of it runs 24/7. The position of the mine and the city, generally has it blowing away from the population, but the pollution just sits on the horizon. Stars are few and far between unfortunately.

Lead is a massive issue here. Having just written a paper on lead poisoning here, it is interesting to see people risking their health to stay here. We test children through blood tests to check lead levels and there are several seemingly fruitless health promotion campaigns educating people to wash their childrens hands etc. Of course there isn’t a water tank in sight…water is full of chemicals too…and lead….most people live on bottled water, literally. They don’t even put it on the shelves at the store….you just take from the stock on the floors. Its not healthy normal living thats for sure. But it is beautiful!

IMG_8247

Lake Moondarra’s Annual Fishing comp!!!

This last weekend was the fishing comp of the year….for Mount Isa anyway! It takes place in our very own water supply….about 20kms out of town. They call this place a photographers delight, but I had no idea until I saw it myself! As for the fishing comp….I found out about this before I even came out here, and was excited to see what all the fuss was about!

Unfortunately the Lake is at an all time low…22%…the drought is well and truly in town. (Storm clouds are actually gathering today, but I won’t speak too soon!) The Lake was created in the 1950’s when the mine worked out that it needed more water than the creek could provide. They dammed the Leichhardt River at a cost of $1.7 million. Now it is surrounded by picnic areas with BBQ’s, wildlife, permits boating and even has a canoe club! Typically you are not allowed camping or night visits at the lake, but for one weekend of the year….the rules are ignored!

The competition, hosted by the Mount Isa Fish Stocking Group, was fabulous…they had a shady area for eating and drinking…many options available…and it looked right over the lake! I’m sure you’ll agree that whilst it is beautiful, it would look a whole lot different if the lake were full!

P1020733 P1020738

Possibly the most disappointing part of the weekend was the fact that the Yabbie Races were only for kids! Seriously…adults love that too! Nothing spells outback like ‘yabbie races’!!! Even though I couldn’t touch them or even participate….it was kinda fun to watch! No surprise that the biggest yabbie won! A dollar to enter, winner takes $5, 2nd gets $2 and $1 for third!

P1020747 P1020751P1020753

These ones are for my Dad….these guys are all about pest control in the outback. Making sure the good bugs and animals live, yet minimise the bad bugs! You had to guess how many bugs were in this tank…not sure if I won or not yet! and got Dad a free pen for guessing!

P1020759 P1020758

The competition fun continued with a volleyball comp, casting comp, live music from various bands and DJ’s.

P1020765 P1020769 P1020771

And the fish kept coming!

P1020801

Our tent had water views (as I’ve now come to expect)….it was so relaxing people watching as boats came and went. Unfortunately with the water level so low, you need a boat to be able to fish. The lake edges are covered in weed😦 Lucky it was pretty just watching!

P1020761 P1020780

Sunset over the lake was beautiful….as the picnic rugs came out, live country music played, kids ran around and thankfully the temperature dropped!

P1020790

There were stacks of prizes for the fisher-people…juniors and seniors! My claim to fame is this guy….our tent neighbour! He won biggest barramundi! 98cm and 11.5kgs! it was just huge!!! almost as big as the trophy!

P1020805

Fireworks over the lake capped off the night….amazing display (give Brisbane’s Riverfire a run for their money!), thanks to GE Mining! Mega bucks in mining!

P1020809 P1020812

The follow morning, feeling as dirty as ever (everything is just so dusty) Amanda and I packed up the truck and did a little exploring before heading home! I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a magical part of the world….a beautiful lake (even though it needs a top up)!

P1020841  P1020850 P1020856

Spot the Kangaroo!

P1020876 P1020891 P1020894

What a smashing weekend it was!🙂