Friday, March 22, 2013

Croydon is a gem

Croydon seems to be smaller than Georgetown, but quite ingesting and with a definite historic focus. There is a Historic Precinct where Council is investing time and resources in refurbishing a number of the old buildings. In situ at the original site is the Old Town Hall, complete with large clock, next to the Court building which in turn is adjacent to the Old Police Station, with the Sergeant's Residence taking you up to the corner. Quite an impressive facade along the street line. Just opposite are the Croydon Council Chambers and the library. On the corner diagonally opposite the Sergeant's house is the original Tabletop School House. This too is in the process of being restored. Just down the street a little further is the True Blue Visitor and Information Centre. Part museum, part souvenir store and part archive repository the team who coordinate the services here joined us for the day at the library. Their collective knowledge of the town and it's features were impressive and made for an interesting HistoryPin session. Between us we "pinned" the Town Hall, Courthouse, Police Station, Sergeant's Residence and the school. We took additional photos around town so we should be able to add the General Store and the Club Hotel in addition to the Billy Bing Chee house which is now art of the Mining Museum. The interesting thing is that there were really no historic images yet on HistoryPin, so the guys are going to see what they can find, start their own channel and begin adding content. Another convert or two to HistoryPin.....another successful day! The General Store really was a highlight. When we pulled up outside The mother and son who run it were catching the afternoon breeze, however they were more than happy for us to explore and take photographs. This place is incredible and must be close to unique within Australia. Part convenience store, part museum it is quite the norm to see a shelf of antique kerosene lamps or a box of lamp wicks, above a shelf of WeetBix or cleaning products. Old mixes comfortably with new. Some products on display are listed in the store's 1922 stocktake. Most of the furniture and shelves are original, as I am guessing, is the dust. Best score was the linen bird tea towels proudly proclaiming "Croydon". We stayed at the Club Hotel and had a beer at the Poddy Dodgers Bar - I have the singlet to prove it! 21.3.2013

Reptilian adventure

Reptiles and amphibians have featured on our trip too. We saw one snake on the road as we drove out to Georgetown. Large and very much alive there was no chance of stopping to take a better look - contrary to what people may think I am not totally stupid. Something like 65% of Australian snakes are venomous. It was not until our second night there though that we had a close encounter with our own snake. Navigating the usual array of toads we spotted a snake. Must have been a baby as it was tiny, and very fine. Having trouble navigating the smooth concrete of the car port we were able to watch it for some time before it got a better grip and went on its way. Right towards our rooms. So, after grabbing a photo we both went into our rooms and put a towel across the door jamb just in case this little guy wanted to check us out any closer. Have come to the conclusion that it was a baby brown snake, so it's a good thing we didn't go too close to it. Frogs I can cope with once I get over the initial shock of lifting the toilet lid and seeing one, or having one drop down into the toilet bowl after I flush. Trip total for the green tree fron count was 1 in Georgetown at the ant bed house, 1 in Croydon in the toilets (moved from cubicle to cubicle) and 1 in Atherton in the toilet at the Chinese Temple. Took photos of each and every one as the novelty is yet to wear off! 22.3.2013

Birds abound

We stopped en route to Georgetown at Ravenshoe. Considered Queensland's highest city, it apparently out ranks Stanthorpe by a mere 5 metres. Now becoming known for its wind generated turbine power public opinion seems to be divided as to the pros and cons. The turbines do actually look rather alien and spooky, especially in the mist. The cows however don't seem to mind them and I guess they might attract tourists at some stage. Apparently this is the aim over time as there is a viewing spot to stop and take photos and the t-shirts in the information centre feature them too. As for me, it is the birds that we have seen that most capture my attention. There have been a number of bustard sightings while is essential to slow down and give these guys time to get off the road. They actually stop mid stride, check you out and then, just maybe, decide to continue on their way. They really do look quite bemused as if they are wondering just what you are doing on their road! The most exciting moment for me though was seeing Rainbow Bee Eaters in the wild. With my mosaic bird all research was book based only, so seeing these little guys in the flesh was extraordinary. We went for a walk along the river in Georgetown late one afternoon. Local knowledge is an amazing thing, so we walked the river bed, cut across to the cemetery, and it was while headed back to the golf club that we saw the bee eaters. A whole squadron of them, flying in, out, around and about. In the late afternoon sunshine their colours were iridescent. One pair, a male and a female sat for me, just long enough that I could take a photo. Amazing hues of teal, jade and amber. This moment was almost eclipsed by the group of red tailed black cockatoos we saw as we left Georgetown for Cairns. Driving across the Einasleigh River we crossed the bridge and headed away from Georgetown, just as these guys flew overhead. A group of 6 or 7 birds, it really was incredible to see them, silhouetted against the sky with the sun shining through their red tail feathers. We really did feel lucky to see them. 22.3.2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013


We have spent our week based with Jo and Emma at the Terrestrial centre. This wonderful facility provides access to the Georgetown Library, complete with Internet access as well as the incredible Ted Elliott Mineral Collection. This gentleman is a local legend who built a world class collection over his lifetime. My initial thoughts were - minerals, fossils, gemstones....ok. Boy was I wrong! This collection is totally awesome and overwhelming in its sheer scale and coverage. For anyone it is worth a visit, let alone for this mosaic artist. So many of the specimens were beautiful in so many ways - their colour, size, the shape of some and the texture. Some of these specimens look as soft as silk - quite incredible considering that these items are rock! Unfortunately most specimens were inside cabinets for their own protection- i so wanted to touch them! My favourites were chrysanthemum rock and some white fluffy thing that looked like snow. The glow in the dark samples were pretty good too, especially the Mexican Thunder Egg....and the ammonites. I purchased an Orthocerus fossil, and a piece of black onyx as well as a piece of crackle quartz that seemed to be perfect for a birds beak, perhaps an owl. Time will tell. Moral of this tale is, if in Georgetown visit Terrestrial. The best gold coin donation you will ever contribute. 20.3.2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Georgetown bound

Our trip to Georgetown was always going to be an adventure. With an early flight and finding myself sitting at the airport just before 6.00am it was never going to be anything else. So we made check in, no overweight luggage this time, boarded our plane on time and arrived in Cairns at 9.20am. Only to be advised that my travel buddy's bag was still in Brisbane. Given we were not leisure seekers visiting Cairns for the week with plenty of time idling while we waited for the next plane, and with a six hour drive ahead of us, we declined the offer to wait until 12.30 to collect the bag. Plan B then involved a fast shopping stop over to restock supplies. Courtesy of Qantas. So, we bought clothes, cosmetics and a pair of thongs as backup shoes and off we went. The initial part of the drive took us through the rainforest and up across the mountain outside Cairns, under the Kuranda Sky Rail and across the Atherton tablelands. Very green and very picturesque. Quite unlike the countryside I usually drive through on field trips to date. Still the incredible red soil I have seen outside of Longreach, Cunnamulla and Julia Creek, but with more vegetation. According to locals this region is experiencing a green drought. This translates as vegetation looks green, however beneath the top soil the ground is extremely dry. Whereas Easter last year the Etheridge River was in flood, this year we were able to walk along the dry river bed. We decided to take the scenic route, detouring slightly through Millaa Millaa. While a beautiful country drive, we arrived to find that most things in town were closed on a Monday. That is, all except for the pub. Knowing we would be eating lots of pub meals once we reached our destination we decided to by pass the pub and drive on to Ravenshoe for lunch. Just for the record, we found out that the Millaa Millaa pub serves great meals. Perhaps another time. Ravenshoe is a slight dog leg off the main road and well worth a stop. We had an interesting chat to the gentleman at the Tourist Information Centre. He was in for a chat and more than happy to give us the personal tour of the centre. With dioramas, brochures and souvenirs it is a great centre. Recommendation for lunch was the Popular Cafe on the right hand side heading in to town, so this is where we went. A 1940's cafe with booths, coffee machine and counters seemingly original fittings it was like having lunch in a time warp - good food and fun. Tummies full and legs stretched we continued on our way, arriving in Georgetown late afternoon. 18.3.2013