Saturday, January 22, 2005

The Trip North.....Pictures

Back Beach, Angourie, NSW.

Cape Byron Lighthouse, Byron Bay, NSW.

Tallows Beach looking towards Broken Head, Cape Byron, NSW.

Glass House Mountains, Qld.

Purling Brook Falls, Lamington National Park, Qld.

View into New South Wales and Mount Warning from Lamington National Park, Qld.

Last Remnants of 2000 Year Old Antarctic Beech Forest, Lamington National Park, Qld.

A Sunning Blue Tongue Lizard, Rainforest, Lamington National Park, Qld.

Friday, January 21, 2005

The Trip North........ continued

Brisbane has been extremely hot and humid all the time we have been here so we spend as much time as possible in airconditioning ie. home, the car, restuarants, malls and cinemas.
This is not to say we haven't been on some sightseeing tours. We had a pleasant day driving up to Springbrook, Lamington National Park, in the Gold Coast hinterland. The altitude there made the climate more pleasant (7 degrees cooler)and the views from the escarpment to the coast as well as the rain forest walks and waterfalls were quite spectacular. We returned to Brisbane via Murwillumbah on the New South Wales side of the border.
Another trip involved the Eumundi markets on the Sunshine Coast. These markets are well worth the 90 minute trip north. It takes a couple of hours to get around and most of the goods and artifacts on sale are made locally. There is very little of the usual "market junk". A few local bands were playing and the food stalls are good too. Can recommend the bratwurst and sauerkraut on a roll with German mustard. We then headed for Noosa. This was another personal disappointment for me. Not having been there for many years, it was sad to see how developed this area had become. The once quiet beachside village with one of the best surf breaks in the country is now a thriving metropolis with high rise hotels, thousands of people and no parking spots! The surf break was a log jam of surf boards. As a result we headed back down south along the coast through Coolum, Mooloolaba and Caloundra. Needless to say the whole area mirrored the the Noosa developement although the latter town had managed to maintain some of its old world charm.
Back in Brisbane, we took the Rivercat up the Brisbane River to South Bank to see "Mamma Mia" at the Lyric Theatre in the Queensland Centre for Performing Arts. This was the fourth time I had seen the show and enjoyed it as much as the first but I think I may be Abba'd out now.
We also went back to the Breakfast Creek Hotel for another steak and then headed across the road to the Breakfast Creek Raceway to a trotting meeting. We stayed for four races and had a few bets. I think "break even" was the result on the night. Well, that's my story and I am sticking to it.
The movies seen so far have included "Meet the Fockers" (don't bother), Bridget Jones 2 (ok, but not as funny as the first) and "Finding Neverland" (well worth seeing!).
Can also recommend the restuarant and coffee house strips of Racecourse Road, Ascot and Oxford Street, Bulimba. The Piccolo BYO Restaurant near Oriel Park, Ascot is also nice with the banana pudding and rum sauce to die for.
At "home" we have also been enjoying the fresh seafood. We have eaten lots of reef fish including Red Emperor, Parrot Fish and Coral Trout. We had Barramundi one night as well as different types of prawns, red spot, tiger etc. and fresh mussels. The Bar B Q has been working overtime.
Our friends return from Canada on Sunday morning when we will begin our trip home. In the meantime we will enjoy our last few days.
For those that are asking "where are the pics?", I am sad to say my digital camera has decided to go on holidays too. I need to take it for service once I get back to Sydney. But I have access to other photos which will be put up on the site in due course.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Another Trip North

We headed for Brisbane via Gosford just after New Year. This is a 1000km journey on one of the most dangerous highways in Australia. The traffic was quite heavy most of the way due to the holiday period but most drivers were well behaved. This was due perhaps to a considerable police presence both in marked and unmarked cars. It also rained most of the way which slowed people down. We stopped at Port Macquarie for lunch and then drove onto Coffs Harbour where we spent the night. Had a great el fresco fish dinner at the wharf, squid ink pasta with seafood and barramundi deep fried in a parmasan batter. Next morning we had a nice brekky at Woolgoolga and headed on a small detour to Yamba and Angourie, an old surfing haunt of mine many years ago.
They say you should never go back.
The once pristine area is now covered in houses and the beaches were crowded with people. The once clear fresh water pools near Angourie Point were murky and on the verge of algae pollution. But the old Yamba pub still sold the coldest beer in the area.
Further north we ventured on another detour (also surfing related) from Ballina to Byron Bay via Lennox Head. Same story! All now over developed. Cape Byron is the most easterly point on the Australian mainland. A very grand lighthouse stands there. The view is usually impressive but on that day a howling north easterly wind had caused a considerable sea mist which blanketed the area. The Byron township was over run with people so we continued our journey north spending the night at Tweed Heads on the New South Wales/Queensland border. We went over to the local bowling club for a drink. It is more like a Las Vegas casino with slots, restaurants, and shows. We played bingo and each won $15 shopping vouchers. It was a fun night with all the old foggies.
The next morning we detoured through Surfers Paradise (a paradise by name only), the main centre of the Gold Coast, and finally arrived in Brisbane for our house sitting duties.
After depositing our friends at Brisbane Airport for their trip to Canada, we began our rediscovery of Brisbane which, by the way, I consider my home town. Our local area has a nice street of coffee shops and restaurants and is handy to the freeway to both north and south coasts as well as to the city via the river ferry.
On Saturday we headed north past the Glasshouse Mountains and up into the Blackall Range to the town of Maleny. Apart from the spectacular views of the volcanic formations of the Glasshouses, this little town is now a tourist hub with lots of arts and craft shops as well as coffee shops and cafes. We continued on and got a little lost ending up a lot further north than expected. This gave us a chance, however, to visit the "largest ginger processing plant in the world" to buy ginger chocolates and biscuits as well as have lunch at Coolum, a thriving beachside town between Noosa and Caloundra. In my surfing days this place consisted of a petrol station and hamburger store in the middle of the sand dunes. Not any more!!!!
On Sunday we ventured into the city for the Riverside markets, saw a movie (The Fockers) and had dinner at the Breakfast Creek Hotel for one of the best (and most expensive) steaks in the country.
So far so good! This adventure continues!

Sunday, January 02, 2005

The Rest of December

Christmas celebrations were held on the farm with extended "family". There were lots of presents to open on Christmas morning and Santa was very kind to each of us. Instead of the traditional hot dinner we decided this year to make it 100% seafood. So we had a feast of oysters, prawns, lobster and Balmain bugs all washed down with copious quantities of sparkling white wine and Semillon. We did however revert to plum pudding and brandy custard at the finish.

Christmas Dinner
The Cabernet Sauvignon has reached the bunch closure stage ie. the grape berries have reached maximum size. This meant a final spray against botrytis. Most of the bunches are quite large and have substantial "wings". This indicates a good potential yield. We now await veraison (color change) and the ripening process.

Bunch Closure Cabernet Sauvignon
Due to the fact we are heading north to Brisbane for 3 weeks, we had to net the Cabernet in case early ripening attracted the dreaded birds. They can wipe out a crop in a few days. This meant a thorough spraying against downy and powdery mildew. It is a risk to leave the grapes for 3 weeks without spraying but am sure the weather will be with us and all will turn out ok. The new vines continue to do well.

Netted Cabernet Sauvignon