Bench Series : January Garden Benches #2

Jude’s new bench series is very popular and has benches to sit on all around the world. Go to Jude’s post to see them.

Here is my number 2 entry, a peaceful, serene seat among the peace lilies in the Townsville Palmetum Gardens. To revisit those gardens click here

Townsville Palmetum pcsx40 068_3000x4000

Peace lilies glowing white in the under growth

Peace lilies glowing white in the under growth


Categories: Australia, bench series, garden benches, Palmetum, Townsville | Tags: , , , , | 38 Comments

A Word a Week Challenge : Garden, Townsville Botanic Garden

The theme that Sue has chosen from her dictionary this week is GARDEN. I know there will be lots of post’s submitted on this theme. Go to Sue’s blog “A word a week” to see all the different gardens from around the world.

It  would be my all time favourite subject. When we travel I always search out the Botanical Gardens in each area. Today I am going to take you for a stroll around the beautiful, small but exquisite Queens Gardens in Townsville, Australia.


Initiated in 1870, Queens Gardens is the oldest Botanic Garden in Townsville and is heritage listed. Now covering 4 hectares, reduced from an original 40Ha, it is considered a fine example of a tropical colonial garden of that era. Originally established as a trial acclimatisation garden for European settlement, in which potential food and economic plants were trialled during the era of colonisation.


Today the gardens are a lush green oasis set against the dramatic pink granite cliffs of Castle Hill, and offer a quiet cool retreat from the nearby city centre. The emphasis of the current plant collection is on colonial ornamental plants with colourful, attractive flowers, foliage or fruit.


Townsville residents use its luxuriant gardens for leisure and recreation, while the City Council and community groups use its green splendour to stage a variety of special events.



Categories: A word a week photo challenge, Australia, botanic gardens, garden, Townsville | Tags: , , , , | 18 Comments

Bushfires, Breakdowns and the Beach all in one day on the road…

On Monday morning as we drove away from Bluewater we knew the bushfires were still raging in the hinterland. A pall of smoke was draped over the Paluma Range and we could smell and taste it. So it was over to plan B, drive in a northerly direction till we cleared the smoke, hopefully, call in to see Paluma on the way back.

First things first we had to pick up bread, milk and a few other groceries, so first stop was Ingham, 40 kilometres north. The smoke had cleared by the time we arrived there. We always look for the information centres to collect maps and advice about the area and just south of the centre of Ingham was Tyto a new state of the art information centre.

The TYTO Wetlands is one of Australia’s largest urban wetland rehabilitation projects and residents of Hinchinbrook Shire are fortunate enough to have it situated right at their doorstep…(click on this link for more information)

Tyto wetlands

Water lily in the Tyto lagoon

We spent a pleasant hour wandering along the tracks around the lagoons. The water lilies were in full bloom and it is a very photogenic area.

The morning had gone and lunch time had crept up on us, so we stopped for coffee and eggs Benedict at a local café. While waiting I read the morning paper, the Townsville Bulletin. Look what was the front page story….

Front page news

It was very close to our camp ground…

We studied the maps we had picked up from the info centre and decided to drive up to Wallaman Falls, approx 50 kilometres west into the ranges. I checked it out in Google…”The Wallaman Falls are notable for their single-drop of 268 metres, which is Australia’s highest permanent waterfall. The pool at the end of the waterfall is 20 metres deep.”   

The road to the falls is narrow, winding and steep, it will be a good trial run for the new gear box. With our inner person refueled with food and coffee, groceries on board and petrol topped up we head west. Matilda is purring along. 20 kilometres and the road starts to climb. I comment that Matilda is handling it well, I have not had to change gear yet.

Then the road narrows, the turns get sharper, the road is steeper and as we drop below 30km I change down a gear. That is when it all goes “pear-shaped” Matilda grunts, I change to the lowest gear and she stops, the motor is still running but the gears won’t work….

What a predicament, sharp, blind bends both in front and behind, very narrow road. I decide to roll back and try to do a 3 point turn to face down hill. I find that reverse gear works, “phew” . Now we are stopped side-ways on, blocking the road. I pray that no vehicles will come, at speed, around the bend. Jack gets behind to push and I put her into neutral. Slowly we start to move, then the momentum takes over and I coast onto a very narrow verge off the road. The engine is hot and so are we. Time for a coffee…

Surprisingly the mobile phone worked and I ring Robin of Town Automatics to let him know what has happened. He says to try it back in drive and see how we go. It worked, what a relief we are moving again. So it is back to Townsville. Fortunately it is flat all the way and once again we are purring along.

It is 3-30pm and we decide to stay at Bluewater again and make an early start for Townsville Tuesday. We are only 5 kilometres from Bluewater and as we come around a bend this is what we see….

Bushfire near Bluewater

We joined onto the end of a long tail-back, approx 50+ vehicles. The bush fire had jumped the containment breaks during the day and was now right along the side of the road. People were out of their vehicles gathered in groups talking. It would be approx another 2-3 hours before they would allow any one through. 8 kilometres back along the road I had noticed a sign to Toomulla Beach. I checked it out in our Camps Australia book, our bible. Yes, it had a FREE camp site, “you beauty”, so we did a u-turn and headed back north.

Fifteen minutes later we rolled into Toomulla Beach, a charming little beach-side community of about 50-60 houses. The camp ground was almost deserted, only another 3 vehicles there. After choosing a spot we grabbed the cameras and went to explore. A short track passed through a variety of shrubs and then we were on the beach.

Toomulla camp ground

Track to the beach

Smoke from the bush fires in the distance

Oyster catchers strolling along the beach

Footsteps in the sand

End of an interesting day…

After downloading our photos and having dinner, and I have a glass of wine we were lulled to sleep by the soothing sound of the waves.


Next morning, Tuesday, we arrived at Town Automatics by 9am. The good news is it is only an adjustment, but the bad news is it will need another part to be sent from Brisbane. It will be a 3 day wait. A phone call to the helpful people at RACQ and they have put us in the Ibis Hotel along Palmer Street , the recently renovated dining street of Townsville. The insurance will cover the first $110 per night and as it is $129 we pay the balance of $19.

Ibis Hotel, built 2008, Very up-market to our usual accomadation…

Palmer Street dining precinct in front of Ibis Hotel

It is now Wednesday the part has arrived. We have one more night staying here at the Ibis, then, maybe, we will drive up to Paluma…

Oh and this is what I read in the paper yesterday…


It has been a very drama filled few days. Travelling is never boring…

Categories: Australia, australian travel, freedom camping, photos, Townsville, travel | Tags: , , , | 12 Comments

On the road again… Tra-La-Tr-La


I have just done a post telling you all where we are and what we are doing BUT I pushed publish and some how lost it all…

We are now in a lovely, free camp area, but it does not have power, so the battery on the computer is now getting low, so I am not able to repeat the post, so I will be in touch again when we get to a power source…

Damn, it was such a good post, Lol….

Suffice to say we are back on the road with Matilda and life is good, and we are heading north….

Categories: Australia, australian travel, camping, freedom camping, gum trees, Townsville | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

The sad story of the little black hen…

Lucky the hen


This little black hen was the pet of the children and the owners of Adventurers Backpacker Hostel. The hostel we have been staying in for over 2 weeks while waiting for Matilda, our van, to be repaired. The hen had the run of the place and at meal time would wander around the kitchen cleaning up any dropped scraps. (I did a post when we moved here and you can see it by clicking here)

On Monday when I went to the office to pay for the next weeks accommodation They asked me if I had seen the hen as it had not been seen since Saturday. She told me the hen’s story.

Approx 8-10 years ago they were given this young pullet. They let it roam around but suddenly heard such a commotion, squawking and flapping, when they rushed outside it was too late, the dog had savaged the chook. So they threw it in the bin. A short while later, when walking past the bin, they heard scrabbling noises, and looking inside found that the chook had “miraculously” come back to life. They nursed it back to health and called it “Lucky”. (good job they hadn’t buried it)

So back to the present: They put lost notices around the hostel and along the street, but no one replied to them.

Next day I noticed a crowd of hostellers were gathered, loud excited voices, arms waving and gesticulating, and in the centre of them a police woman was taking notes. The plot thickens…

Later when every one had dispersed and all was back to normal, being a “nosey parker”, I went to find one of the regulars who I was sure would know the full story…

She told me one of the hostellers had been at a BBQ on Saturday and another hosteller arrived with a chicken, all plucked and cut up, ready to be cooked on the BBQ. The chicken bearer was very drunk and boasting about how he had “found” this chook. The second hosteller noticed all the black stubs of feathers left in the skin but thought nothing of it till he saw the lost notices next day.

The owner and her children were very distraught, all the regular residents were very angry, but nothing could be done as it was only hear say.

What about the supposed culprit? Well he packed his bags and disappeared.


Categories: accomadation, Australia, australian travel, Townsville | Tags: , | 9 Comments

A native and dry tropics experience…

This is the third Botanic Garden in Townsville and the largest. Anderson Botanic Garden is 25 hectares and was originally an arboretum so it is home to a magnificent and outstanding collection of tropical trees. Set in sweeping lawn areas these stately rainforest trees have room to grow to their full impressive height and width.

It is now more than an arboretum, it has been extended to a true botanical garden with interesting collections of plants. As we entered we first wandered through a collection of tropical lushness. This was the Cape York Peninsula Collection. Palms, creepers and vines competing with the rainforest trees. butterfly’s were a feature in this area. Fluttering around and teasing us as we tried, unsuccessfully, to photograph them.

A school was on the boundary of the gardens and we ate our lunch (a tuna, salad roll we bought at “Subway”), sitting on a bench under the shade of a huge rain tree listening to the happy sounds of children at play. A blue winged kookaburra perched in the branches above waited patiently for any crumbs. We could only see one other couple and the gardeners as we looked across the expansive lawns. The gardeners told us the park was well used in the early morning and evening by excercisers and dog walkers, but now we had the 25 hectares almost to our selves.

We walked on. The lotus pond offered a photo opportunity. With ducks, water lilies, reflections and of course the lotus flowers and their enormous, plate-like leaves. It was almost the end of the lotus flowering season but a few lingered on in their fading glory.

We walked along grand avenues of trees and then found a corner of the park devoted to a world collection of cycads. There were 300 plants.(I didn’t count them it told us the details in a pamphlet), from 4 distinct zones, Africa, Asia, Americas and of course Australia. These are amazing plants and some of the oldest known species going back to the time of the dinosaurs.

A tropical orchard had many fruit trees I had never heard of before. Elephants nuts anyone?

It was a very interesting and well designed gardens. The helpful, friendly bus driver put us out at one end then told us how we could walk right through to the other end, then where to catch the bus from that end, to save us walking back to where we started. We really appreciated that because after almost 4 hours every short cut was welcomed.

I recommend a visit to all  the Botanic Gardens in Townsville, they are so different to each other…

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Categories: Australia, botanic gardens, photos, slide show, Townsville, travel | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

A Tropical Experience

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It is very difficult to capture the atmosphere of a place with photos. The photos show the beauty of it, but it is the smells and sounds, the feel of the soft, warm tropical breeze brushing over your skin, the foliage rustling, the constant squeaking of the bats and their offensive, putrid smell, the flash of a bird and butterfly as they float by that add so much more to an experience.

I look at these photos and I am transported back to this unique place.

Tumbetin Lodge was built in 1934 and is predominately constructed with silky oak it was originally a school room for the Roman Catholic Church. Now it is a delightful café, information centre and art gallery. It was our first stop for a reviving cuppa and delicious savoury muffin. What a great way to start our exploration of the gardens…

Categories: Australia, botanic gardens, Palmetum, photos, slide show, Townsville, travel | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

The bus drivers that went above and beyond the call of duty

Palmetum carpark

Today we decided we would visit the second Botanic Garden in Townsville. Checked the bus timetable then walked down town to catch the 11-15am bus. Just as we turned the corner we saw it pull out. We waved to attract his attention, but I don’t think he saw us. Oh dear, it was an hour before the next bus left.

Then one of those things happened that really restores your faith in human nature. Another bus driver saw us and asked where did we want to go.

“Hop aboard” he said, “I can radio ahead and get him to wait for you. I’ll be able to catch him up.”

So as he drove along, still having to stop and pick up and put down passengers, he rang the depot and passed on the message, which was then relayed from the depot to the driver of bus 209, the one that we had just missed.

Sure enough 10 minutes later we caught up with 209 where he was waiting for us. But that is not the end of the story. When we told the driver of 209 where we wanted to get off, he said, “There isn’t a bus stop there, but I will drop you as close as I can.”

Well 20 minutes later I saw the sign for the Palmetum and wondered how far from the entrance there would be a bus stop. Well to my amazement and absolute delight the bus driver turned into the car park of the Palmetum and dropped us right at the front gates.

These two men really made our day.

Tomorrow I will send a card and letter to the council in appreciation of the employees that went out of their way to help us.

The gates into a Botanic wonderland

This Botanic Gardens was totally different to the Queens Gardens, we were immersed into a tropical wonderland and, of course, we took more and more photos, trying to capture that magic. Now I have to sort them out and tomorrow I will take you into this special Botanic Garden.

When our tired legs finally carried us back to the hostel we decided to have a roast pork pub meal at the heritage Shamrock Hotel, it is just a 5 minute walk from the hostel. With a glass of wine and a beer for Jack it was the perfect end to the day.

Shamrock Hotel

Categories: Australia, australian travel, botanic gardens, photos, Pubs, Townsville, travel, tropical garden | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Queens Gardens Townsville Botanical Garden

I have shown you a video of the rainforest part of Queens Gardens but there is so much more, ( and I took 100’s of photos ).

In Botanic Garden terms it is small and compact, but there is so much to see and it is beautifully maintained. A team of gardeners were working and we took a few moments to chat with them. Not many people around but the few that were here were making the most of the perfect weather and peaceful garden.

So come stroll with me, here is a slide show of more views of this garden.

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The photos of the family and the gardeners were taken by Jack. He is very good at capturing people. You can see more of his photos on jacksjottings

He has just posted a poem on aging, it is very good, worth having a look at…

Categories: Australia, botanic gardens, Castle Hill, photos, slide show, Townsville | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

Travel Theme : Foliage

Ailsa’s of “Where’s my backpack” theme this week was perfect timing for me as on Friday I had spent 4 hours strolling around Queens Gardens in Townsville. This delightful 4 hectare Botanic Garden is a haven of beauty, foliage over-load. Enormous trees, flowering shrubs, cactus and succulents in a hot dry corner, herb garden a sensory mingling of perfumes, a large collection of frangipani trees sending out their unique sweet scent that sings of the tropics, and all along one side a path leading you through a tropical rainforest.

So much foliage. What to choose? I took 100’s of photos…

So this week something different I have put in a short video of part of the rainforest walk. I hope you enjoy the stroll with me.

Categories: Australia, botanic gardens, foliage, Townsville, travel, travel theme, video | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

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