Signs of Spring.

Two days ago we had a night storm. Lightening flashed and lit up the sky, the thunder rumbled and crashed and 15 millimetres of rain soaked into the dry earth. Next morning the temperatures had risen to 27C, that is 5 above the average for August.

Now the sap is flowing. It is 4 days to the official start of spring, the buds are forming and once again the miracle of rebirth is taking place.

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The bottle brush (Callistemon) is covered in new buds.

Look closely they look like Brussel sprouts. (“They” tell us that Brussel Sprouts are the new super food)

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It is a grey and overcast day today and more rain is forecast.

I went for my walk around the garden and I will share what is happening in our patch of paradise.

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This photo shows what a grey day it is, but look at all the Grevillea buds outlined high up against the sky. This is “Moonlight” a delightful soft yellow.

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This Noisy Miner bird has found one of the Grevillea flowers already open and is tucking in to a feed of nectar. 

The noisy miner (Manorina melanocephala) is a bird in the honeyeater family, and is endemic to eastern and south-eastern Australia. It is a notably aggressive bird, and chasing, pecking, fighting, scolding, and mobbing occur throughout the day, targeted at both intruders and colony members. They even attack and harass the Kookaburra. Since a colony has established in this area we, sadly, no longer have the beautiful native lorikeets and Rosella visit the garden.

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Because I have been at home through the planting season for spring annuals I put a patch of Primula and lobelia along the roadside. I love the variety of colours, and can you see behind them?

The nasturtiums  self seed every year and their happy faces have colonized every bit of spare ground.

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I’m not sure if this is a member of the caterpillar family, but there are large numbers of them that seem to be eating the fungus like growth on the kale. I think the kale has reached its use by date and will be going into the compost very soon.

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The sweet perfume of this dwarf lemon wafts through the air as I walk by.  “Lot’s o’ Lemons” is a dwarf variety bred for pots and I have only had it for a short while and these are the first flowers it has had. In the past I have not had much luck growing traditional lemon trees so I am looking forward to seeing how this one survives.

Categories: Australia, garden, grevillia, photos, spring garden | Tags: , , , | 17 Comments

A Flower a Week : #3 Heliconia

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Here is another vibrant tropical flower from my garden, the Heliconia.

There are many different species of Heliconia, I have 3 different species in the garden. The leaves of this plant are paddle-shaped, and they are related to the ginger and banana families. Heliconia are sometimes called “lobster claws” or “parrot flowers” because of their beak-like “bracts” which can be orange, purple, red, yellow, pink, green or a combination of these. A bract is a leaf structure at the base of a flower. The Heliconia flowers are tiny and found inside these bracts, which are so large and colourful that they almost hide the flowers.

They are natives of the tropical Americas and over there they are pollinated by hummingbirds with beaks shaped to extend into the bracts and reach the flowers. I don’t know if they have pollinators here, but they spread rapidly and exuberantly by underground rhizomes and can soon dominate the garden beds.

The flowers last for many weeks and in the hot, humid months of summer make a vibrant show. They are very easy to grow and don’t appear to have any pests or diseases.

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Nalinki on “Angles and views” is hosting a weekly series called: “Flowersoverflowers”, it will be posted every Tuesday. The idea is to bring some more colorful pics of nature into our blogosphere.

Categories: a flower a week, flowersoverflowers, photos | Tags: , , | 26 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge : Memorable Moments…

This is going to be one of the most difficult challenges WP has ever given.

Cheryl asks us ” For this week’s photo challenge, select and share a series of photographs. You can piece together what you consider an ideal day, recount a memorable day, tell a (visual) story, or show us some of your favorite things”.

Not because I don’t know what to choose for it, but because there are so many memorable days.

Life is full of memorable moments and the older I get the more I have to draw on.

I started this blog in 2009 to chronicle our journey around Australia, so I have chosen just a small sample of magic moments from that year of travel.

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After months of preparation, finding the right camper van, downsizing from a 3 bedroom house into a one room Granny flat, garage sales, giving away and sending surplus “stuff” to op shops. Finally it was time to go. March 5th (our birthday) 2010 and Matilda trundles out of the drive on an epic 12 month, 37000 kilometre journey of discovery around Australia.

This day was a very good day

Yes this was our home for the next year, as Jack put it, “living in a sardine can”….

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Waking to a mist filled morning, dew draped like diamonds on every blade of grass and the only thing sharing this hushed and serene moment was spiders waiting for their web to dry and the insects to arrive.

Walking in National Parks, isolated and alone and skinny dipping in pristine mountain streams.

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So many campfires shared with new friends, stories and a glass of wine shared.

Even one camp shared with a friendly horse that loved cups of tea and muffins.

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The friendliness and generosity of the nomads on the road.

One memorable evening we arrived late into a camp ground called “funny dunny” miles from any where, but a favourite with the fishing community. As we settled in the neighbour came over and offered us 2 freshly caught fish. Not only that but as we had no idea how to cook it (at that stage of the journey we were still newbies) they gutted, cooked and then shared the meal with us.

It was certainly a year of so many highlights and I am thankful for the WordPress blog that allows me to look back and relive those times on the road.

But finally I have to include these last 2 photos. This is the best sunset of many memorable sunsets I photographed. It was a moment that took my breath away. Words fail me to describe the intensity of feeling as I witnessed, and photographed this glorious vision.

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It was a moment shared with friends which made it very special.

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The end of another very good day.

Categories: Australia, photos, today was a good day, travel, Weekly photo challenge | Tags: , , , , , | 25 Comments

Time out for art…

I love to travel and for the past 5 years, with Jack, I have covered many thousands of miles/kilometres around Australia.

I have now been back home 4 months, stationary, in one place, sedentary, settled almost. The longest time sleeping in my bed since 2010. It has been long enough to start joining groups and creating routines. In the past I have dabbled with art, painting and drawing, but now, for 4 months, I have enjoyed being part of an art group and taking “time out for art

Denise Kirk, our talented tutor, has rekindled my interest in art and sketching. This is a pencil and pen sketch of part of our garden.

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Denise encourages us to try other media and this is my first attempt at using pastels. It is not fully finished yet as I have more detail to put in her hair.

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Finally I would like to show you this acrylic painting of our colourful native lorikeets. This is a painting I did over 12 years ago. Put your sun glasses on as it is loud and bright, just like the character of these birds. This painting is now sold. In a way I will be sad to see it leave home. It will leave a large empty space where it hung for all those years.

But as Denise says, “do not become too attached to your paintings, if you did it once, you can do it again. Look on the first one as a practice”.

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The gypsy in me is getting restless, this is a huge country and still plenty to explore, so in 3 weeks we will be on the move again.

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Have you seen Lisa of “Zeebra Designs and Destinations” she is a very talented artist who shares her works of art with us every Thursday and encourages us to join her. So Lisa this post is for you.

Categories: Australia, Timeout for art | Tags: , , | 34 Comments

A Flower a Week #2 : Bat Plant

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Bat Plant

This week I have chosen to show you this spectacular Bat Plant. It is one of the most unusual  flowers in my garden and flowers during the hot tropical summer months, but as I won’t be home when it is flowering I am showing you one from last season.

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Common Names: Bat Flower, Black Bat Flower, Cats Whiskers, Devil Flower, Bat Head Lily, Bat Plant, Devil’s Tongue, Black Tacca, Jews Beard, Voodoo Flower.

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Nalinki on “Angles and views” is hosting a weekly series called: “Flowersoverflowers”, it will be posted every Tuesday. The idea is to bring some more colorful pics of nature into our blogosphere.

Categories: a flower a week, Bat Plant, flowersoverflowers | Tags: , , , | 33 Comments

Ups and downs in Brisbane…

A few weeks ago my blogging buddy Meg from “Snippetandsnaps” mentioned the Australian landscape artist William Robinson. I Looked him up on Google.

“Figurative expressionist painter William Robinson is considered one of Australia’s foremost living artists. He is recognised for his unique interpretation of the Australian landscape as well as his whimsical portraits and narrative scenes. Robinson was born in Queensland in 1936 and began painting in the 1960s. His broad, detailed images of the Australian bushland emphasising the skewed perspective of the beholder are among the most recognisable images of the Australian landscape. His humourous and imaginative self-portraits were awarded the Archibald Prize in 1987 and 1995. A major retrospective of his work was held in 2001 at the Queensland Art Gallery. A monograph of his work was published in the same year. In 2009 the William Robinson Gallery was opened at the QUT campus in Old Government House. “

I decided that we would have a day’s outing to Brisbane  to view his art. We caught the 8-45am commuter train and it was packed. Not only workers on their daily commute to Brisbane, but young children and parents and grandparents going to visit the Ekka, the annual country comes to town show.

Just over an hour later we arrived at South Bank and walked across the “Goodwill Bridge”, a pedestrian and cyclist bridge that goes directly across the Brisbane River to the QUT (Queensland University of Technology).

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Looking over the side of the bridge I could see the River Cat ferry swooping along from side to side picking up passengers, and a more sedate old-timer boat taking tourists sightseeing along the river. A few mellow people were relaxing over on the lawns of South Bank.

I had planned a full day, but top of the list was find the Old Government House to visit the “William Robinson Gallery”

So we entered the campus and the world of students.

As we entered the first thing I saw was this strange-looking sculpture. What ever is it? Can you guess? I thought maybe a pile of nuts, or a pile of poo!!! Jack sat and waited while I read the information plaque.

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Well I would never have guessed that…

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The stately old Government House faces the City Botanic Gardens (I am standing on the steps down to the gardens as I take this photo) and I also plan a wander through there later in the day.

“Old Government House was the hub of colonial life in the early days of Brisbane. Constructed between 1860 and 1862, shortly after Queensland achieved separation from New South Wales, the House was Queensland’s first public building. A rare surviving example of the domestic work of Queensland’s first Colonial Architect Charles Tiffin, the House was both a private residence and official state office for Governor Bowen, the colony’s first governor, and continued to be the home of Queensland’s governors until 1910.

Old Government House successively became the University of Queensland’s inaugural building (1910-1972) and the headquarters of the National Trust of Queensland (1972-2002). As one of Queensland’s most significant historical buildings, it was the first building in the state to be heritage listed in 1978. In 2002, the Queensland University of Technology accepted custodial responsibility for the House and undertook a lengthy restoration project. This included the delivery of an interpretative multimedia centre to highlight the cultural and historical significance of each part of this landmark colonial building.

Old Government House was reopened to the public in June 2009 as an historic house museum, a gallery housing the works of renowned Australian artist William Robinson and an elegant venue available to hire for private functions. Located centrally in Brisbane adjacent to the City Botanic Gardens, the House stands with renewed grandeur within the Gardens Point Campus of QUT.”

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The grand old home is now dwarfed by the newer buildings of the campus, but it still appears to be the heart and on this warm day, students are clustered around in ones and twos and groups doing what students do on a beautiful Queensland day.

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Time to people watch later, now it is time to go inside and immerse myself in the world of art.

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The gallery is on the second floor so first a look around downstairs.

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I can imagine the many grand balls and functions that were held here when this house was the centre of the newly created colony. Now these surroundings are for private hire.

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The library/office is the only room with furniture and it is a museum to the National Park Movement celebrating 100 years of conservation.

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But now it is past the baby grand piano and sweep up the stairs to the gallery…

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The paintings dominate the space, they are breathtaking and have captured the colours and spirit of the native bush.

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 Photographs cannot fully capture the intensity of the layers and build up of texture that flows and ripples across the canvas.

The captions explain the paintings better than I can. So I will let the paintings talk to you.

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I have taken this close-up so you can see the layer up on layer of paint. That corrugated iron could be the real thing. For 10 years in New Zealand I milked Jersey cows and I fell in love with these quirky popeyed ladies…

But this next painting was my favourite and I kept going back to savour the ethereal beauty of the bush.

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Before we left I stepped out on to the balcony. What a magnificent position, this is looking straight into the City Botanic Gardens and over to the river.

But now it is time for lunch.

A rather trendy café is situated in the courtyard at the back of the house in what was the kitchen and servants quarters. But we decide to go over to the students food court and join them for the cheap and cheerful budget fare that students prefer. So armed with kebabs and chips we find a bench under the mature trees and watch the activity and plan the rest of the day.

The Art Museum is behind Old Government House and then a highly anticipated visit to the “Cube”. Before a look around the Botanic Gardens then catch the train back home.

“The Cube is one of the world’s largest digital interactive learning and display spaces dedicated to providing an inspiring, explorative and participatory experience of QUT’s Science and Engineering research.

The Cube consists of 48 multi-touch screens soaring across two storeys. Housed in QUT’s Science and Engineering Centre, The Cube is your hub for scientific and digital exploration.”

That sounds exciting.

But first the Art Museum…

THEN…. OH NO! OH NO! OH NO!

Now comes the downs…

Jack misses a step and goes hurtling down the steps landing heavily on his right shoulder. Three students rush over to help and as Jack is unable to get up straight away I ask one of them to phone for an ambulance. A tutor arrives and phones for a security guard and then rushes off to find a glass of water. Slowly we help Jack to his feet and he sits on a bench cradling his right arm and in pain.

Everyone is very concerned.

Eventually the ambulance arrives. The campus is like a rabbit warren and they had difficulty finding us.

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The Ambos are very efficient and after taking his heart rate and finding the source of the pain in his right shoulder it is onto the stretcher and as heads turn and follow our progress, Jack is trundled through campus to where the ambulance is parked.

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The hospital staff are amazing and efficient. A couple of hours later an x-ray had established that nothing was broken, but the shoulder was very bruised and sore. So  having been given pain killers and the arm put in a sling we could head home.

So it will be another trip to Brisbane, when we can fit it in, to finish the sight-seeing around QUT.

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This walk was not quite as far as I had planned Jo, so now I will have to come back again to finish it off…

Check out all the other intrepid walkers from around the world

Categories: Brisbane, Jo's Monday walks, Old Government House, photos, QUT | Tags: , , , , , , | 38 Comments

A flower a week…

A new challenge has popped up and it is close to my heart. Nalinki on “Angles and views” has decided to make a weekly series called: Flowers over flowers, it will be posted every Tuesday. The idea is to bring some more colorful pics of nature into our blogosphere.

I know today is Thursday, but I noticed this new series over on Jude’s “Earth laughs in flowers” (pop over to see the beautiful flower portrait she has contributed.)

So this is my flower of the week.

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Not much flowering in my garden at the moment, but this Grevillia flowers all year and I can always rely on a few to brighten the garden up.

Categories: a flower a week, grevillia | Tags: , | 29 Comments

The Natural Wonderland of the Scenic Rim

Do you like shopping, casinos the glitz and glamour of the Gold Coast? If so I will leave you with the Icons of the Gold Coast.  https://pommepal.wordpress.com/2015/08/03/gold-coast-icons/

But if you love the beauty of nature, rainforests, rivers and stunning scenery, come with me today. I am going south, over the border into New South Wales.

Millions of years ago this was an area of volcanic activity. The ground shook and volcanoes spewed forth the molten lava from the bowels of the earth. Mountains were formed and rivers of lava flowed through the valleys leaving behind a layer of rich volcanic ash. The earth cooled and rivers flowed were once the lava created the valleys. Mighty rainforest trees thrived in this rich soil and vines and creepers twisted and tangled into every spare gap. It was a land of abundance. For thousands of years the Aborigine Bundjalung people cherished this land, it gave them all they needed for survival. Their name for the mountain is “Wollumbin”; meaning, “cloud-catcher”. 

 Captain Cook passed by in 1770 and called this mighty mountain “Mt Warning”. A mere 200 years ago pioneers (and convicts) arrived looking for a better place. In awe they looked at this land of abundance and settled here. The mighty Red Cedar trees were cut down and used to build their houses, make furniture and send overseas to an insatiable market. The land was cleared to plant crops and create farms. Slowly the mighty rainforests were raped and plundered and the Aborigines were denied access to their ancestral home land.

Fortunately the park was reserved for public recreation in 1928 and dedicated as a national park in 1966. The Park is part of the Shield Volcano Group of the World Heritage Site Gondwana Rainforests of Australia inscribed in 1986 and added to the Australian National Heritage List in 2007.

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Now the mighty “Wollumbin” slumbers on the horizon. Its work has been done. At times shrouded in mist.

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At the foot of the range the Tweed River winds through the fertile farm land.

Today I will take you to Tumbulgum, a small historic village nestled on the banks of the Tweed River.

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Looking across to Wollumbin/Mt Warning from the junction of the Tweed and Rous Rivers, Tumbulgum was one of the first villages established in northern NSW in around 1840. For many years, it was the Tweed Valley’s main hub of activity, with shops and services springing up to cater to the timber trade and cedar cutters. At one stage it vied with nearby Murwillumbah for commercial supremacy – until Murwillumbah scored the railway in 1897 and a bridge in 1901, guaranteeing its status as the Tweed Valley’s economic centre. In Tumbulgum today it is the tourists who generate the buzz, coming to enjoy the picturesque setting and admire the historic buildings which now house a range of art galleries, gift shops and cafés. murwillumbah-4 One of the most popular reminders of the past is undoubtedly the old Tumbulgum Tavern. Established in 1887, it was the region’s first unlicensed pub (otherwise known as a ‘grog shanty’) and over 120 years later, it is still going strong. The food here is excellent – as are the sunsets that illuminate the river and Wollumbin/Mt Warning. It is too early for lunch. I think I will make a note to come here for dinner one evening. A boat cruises from nearby Tweed along the river and after dinner will take you back again.

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As we drive away this interesting old tree calls to my camera. As we reach Murwillumbah another old tree “talks” to me.

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Jack has an interesting post about the museum and art gallery in Murwillumbah. Go to this link.  https://jacksjottings.wordpress.com/2015/08/03/tranquil-trip/

To see more artists impressions of this beautiful area this is the link to the art gallery http://calderaart.org.au/

Now it is lunchtime and we drive out-of-town and toward the Mt Warning Road. To the Rainforest Café that has been recommended by the lady in the tourist information centre.

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We are not disappointed it is set in an idyllic setting on the banks of a small meandering creek. The tables are well spread out and you can choose to sit in the sun or the shade from the large, mature trees and palms. We choose to sit on the veranda. Can you see Jack?

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The food is delicious.

There is so much to see in this area. Next time I will take you for a walk in the rainforest.

Categories: aboriginal history, Australia, New South Wales, Tumbulgum, Wollumbin/Mt Warning | Tags: , , , , | 45 Comments

Gold Coast Icons,

Change is inevitable. I look around and see it happening. So before these Icons have gone and been replaced with bigger and better (often debatable) I decided to take my camera for a ride on the light rail/G.link to Surfers Paradise and walk around to show you what is here at the moment.

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This is Pacific Fair at Broadbeach. It opened in 1977 and at that time grew to be the major shopping centre on the Gold Coast. It was the jewel in the crown and a major tourist attraction.

“Pacific Fair opened in 1977 on what was swampland with just 96 specialty stores and two anchor tenants. Since then, Pacific Fair has undergone numerous expansions and grew to have more than 300 specialty stores and four anchor tenants.” (Wikipedia)

But gradually new shopping precincts opened. Robina muscled into the market. Brighter, bigger and all air-conditioned it made Pacific Fair look tired and out dated.

 So in January 2014, work began on a major redevelopment project to meet the predicted regional growth on the Gold Coast. Shoppers will be lured back to ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers from online shopping when the $670 million transformation of Pacific Fair is complete.

Take a look at what is coming….

Click on the following link for a fly-through of the proposed revamp.

http://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/news/gold-coast/pacific-fairs-670m-revamp-set-to-make-broadbeach-shopping-centre-a-mustsee-destination/story-fnj94idh-1226785865380

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This is the new look. What do you think? I prefer the previous frontage, as seen in the top photo. I think it has character and a certain style. This new (improved?) look to me is just a generic clone of commercial buildings, all square and chunky, no finesse…

Just a short stroll along the highway, negotiating the crossings and avoiding the trains, is Jupiter’s Casino.

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Jupiter’s Casino was opened in 1986 and has had 2 major renovations in 2006 and 2012.

The seven acre complex includes eight bars, seven restaurants, conference facilities, a ballroom, theatre, health spa, gym, and a monorail which connects the property to the Oasis Shopping Centre across the road. The hotel, with 594 rooms, stands 66 metres (216 feet) and has 21 floors.

But look what is coming…

This is an artists impression of the 6 star hotel complex that is to be built.

JUPITERS Hotel & Casino is embracing the great outdoors with work on the first stage of its $345 million transformation finally under way.  It is expected to be finished before the 2018 Commonwealth Games start.

I hop back onto the G. Link and hop off again at Surfers Paradise, a 5 minute ride.

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Across the road is the famous “Hard Rock Café” sign, but a sign of the times is the “for lease” sign in the window. Business has been hard for the traders in this area as the light rail took 3 years of disruption to construct and many shops simply closed the doors and walked away.

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Caville Avenue is the main pedestrian shopping and tourist mall in Surfers Paradise, but look how empty and quiet it is. The beach is just at the end of this mall.

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Mid-week and it is almost deserted. This is the iconic sign that must feature in millions of photos that go around the world.

The yellow life savers hut, yellow and red flags marking the safe to swim areas and the life savers on duty are icons I hope will never change.

Remember it is still winter,  the weather is glorious, but where are all the people…

Time to head back home…

This is Burleigh Beach and this is where the people are, well a few,  look at all the sun bathers…

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Back home and a walk along Burleigh Beach. In the distance, across the sparkling ocean, the iconic outline of the hi-rises of Surfers Paradise line the horizon. The highest spike, in the centre of the row of buildings is Q1. Last week we visited it and from the top viewing deck could see all the way to this beach. But already there are plans in the pipe line to build another apartment block even higher than Q1.

So change is inevitable…

Well here I am, it is Monday and I am joining Jo’s Monday cyber walking group. I made it on the day, just…

       

Categories: Australia, beach, Burleigh, Goldcoast, Jo's Monday walks, Pacific Fair, photos, Queensland, Surfer's Paradise | Tags: , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Travel Theme : Wild Wind

Queensland is the sunshine state, beautiful one day, perfect the next.

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The lake at the end of my street is placid, with just a few ripples to ruffle the surface and the air is still.

But Australia has a capricious weather system and it can show its violent side.

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 The storm clouds can roll in from the distant hinterland, dark and foreboding. The wind builds and boils to a ferocious storm.

In the garden the palm fronds bend and twist in a frantic dance to the accompaniment of the wind and lashing rain.

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Branches snap and fall unable to withstand the cyclonic force of nature.

At the beach the ocean is whipped into a frenzy of foam and spray.

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The Pandanus tree, unable to bear the destructive winds, topple and fall.

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This country is subject to intense changes in weather patterns and Ailsa’s “wind” theme made me think of the storms that occasionally lash our coast with disastrous consequences.

Categories: Australia, photos, Queensland, storms, travel theme, wind | Tags: , , , , , | 29 Comments

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