botanic gardens

Christchurch New Zealand

Avon River, originally uploaded by gypsy woman1.

We started our South Island adventure in Christchurch, the poor, shaky city. After watching media coverage of the earthquake that struck in February 2011 and the reports of constant aftershocks I was expecting to see it like a war zone. During the taxi ride from the airport it was a surprise to see no damage, just normal suburbia scenes getting on with life. The taxi driver said it was mainly the centre of the city and a few suburbs affected.

We were staying for 2 days with Mavis, a friend from college days in UK. We were the class of 1958 and when Mavis brought out her photos of that time it only seemed like yesterday as we reminisced and giggled like teenagers over remembered escapades and shared memories; how time flies, wow 54 years….

Next day we went down town. What a mass of contradictions. The central CBD area was cordoned off by a high wire mesh fence. The red no go zone. The Cathedral was in the centre of this area and the demolition was still going on. The plan to totally demolish the cathedral is very controversial with many people protesting the decision and wanting it to be repaired and to save what could be saved and built around. Many of the other heritage buildings are shored up, but work is in progress to repair them. Viewing the demolition has become a tourist attraction and tour buses pull up near the cordoned area to let the tourists out to take photos.

In contrast the beautiful heritage building that houses the museum was not damaged and, thankfully, all the historical artifacts are safe. One of the rooms showed a very moving display of the earthquake and its aftermath. Videos from security cameras captured the horrific moment and pure terror of the people as the buildings start to crumble around them. Then the search and rescue teams with the dogs climbing over the rubble. Just a simple thing brought a lump to my throat as I watched the handlers putting protective rubber booties on the dogs feet. Other videos interviewed survivors who told their stories of amazing escapes. Large information boards explained how and why earthquakes happen and what liquefaction is. We spent almost 3 hours going through that display and all the other historical exhibits.

The aftershocks are still happening and a local person told me that a pastime for many Christchurchians is to guess the magnitude of the quakes then look them up on the internet “Christchurch quake map”. Click on this link and you will be surprised how many quakes there are each day…

Next to the museum is the Botanical Gardens. To walk around here is soothing and calming, some of  the mature trees from all around  the world were just showing a hint of the autumn colouring that would transform them into a kaleidoscope of beauty in a few weeks time. The dahlias, a favourite flower of mine, were in full gorgeous bloom and over near the annual flower beds resplendent in reds, yellows and purples a young Japanese lady and her groom were having their wedding photos taken. Through the centre of the gardens winds the Avon River, the iconic heart of Christchurch.

The art gallery building is a work of art constructed of glass. It bends and curves and undulates, an amazing organic shape. What is even more amazing is that not one pane of glass was damaged and it is in the centre of the quake zone. In fact it was used as the control centre for the search and rescue people to work from.

Then we went to look around the “Restart Mall” this is an amazing tribute to the tenacity and ingenuity of the KIwi. Known for the ability to fix anything with the number 8 wire, they have stacked together shipping containers, two high, painted them in bright, cheerful colours and created a shopping mall in 9 months of 27 retail shops and a couple of cafes. The area is beautified with raised containers of bright, bedding annuals and hanging baskets. This is to help bring alive the CBD until the aftershocks are over and plans  made to rebuild a more permanent centre.

Christchurch is still a beautiful and interesting city, and still deserves the title of “garden city” but the heart goes out to all the people who still have so much to do to plan and rebuild it.

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Cairns botanical gardens

One of the highlights when we visit Cairns is to go round the Flecker Botanic Gardens.
It is only 6 months since hurricane Yasi devastated this area and I was expecting to find the gardens badly damaged. Walking round we could not see any signs of where the hurricane had been and when we talked to one of the gardeners we were told that a number of large trees in the rainforest area had been knocked over, but the main damage had been done by the flooding which took out a lot of the Heliconia and undergrowth but because growth is so rapid in the tropics they all quickly regrew.
These botanic gardens would be one of the best with the thick lush tropical plants and the vibrant Heliconia and ginger in flower. We spent almost a full day wandering around.
The Cairns villas tourist park we are staying in is only 15 minute bike ride from the gardens. Cairns is a very bike friendly place, flat and bike paths every where.

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Cairns botanical gardens , originally uploaded by gypsy woman1.
Categories: australian travel, botanic gardens, slide show | Tags: , | 6 Comments

Adelaide botanic gardens

Adelaide botanic gardens, originally uploaded by gypsy woman1.

These botanic gardens are so interesting and the rainforest in the bicentennial dome was my favourite part of the gardens. Every 15 minutes there would be a light misty rain fall and as it finished the sun reflecting through the top created this magical effect.

Categories: australian travel, botanic gardens, South Australia | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Araluen botanic garden

Araluen botanic garden, originally uploaded by gypsy woman1.

Jack admired this young woman’s beautiful costume and she was happy to have her photo taken. This led to an invite to lunch. The family have been in Australia 10 years and love Perth and the life style here in Australia. We admired the very strong family bond between the group.
Unexpected encounters with all types of people, and different cultures, are what makes travelling so addictive.
Categories: australian travel, botanic gardens, flickr photos, photos, travel, Western Australia | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Araluen Botanic Garden

Araluen Botanic Garden, originally uploaded by gypsy woman1.

Today we moved on from Perth. It has been a very enjoyable 16 days we have spent with John and the time just seems to have raced by. As a parting gesture John interviewed us for his “you- tube” films that he produces. Watch this space as I will try to get it linked to my blog…

We went to Araluen Botanic Park only 35km from Perth. This is a beautiful park and the roses where making a brilliant show. We parked Matilda near the rose garden area and Jack struck up a conversation with some young Afghan people. They wanted to take his photo. Jack was more than happy to oblige and after the photo session they invited us to share their lunch. It was a delicious spread and we enjoyed the food and the company.

Categories: australian travel, botanic gardens, travel, Western Australia | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Red Banksia

red Banksia, originally uploaded by gypsy woman1.

Categories: australian travel, botanic gardens, Western Australia | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Kangaroo paw beds

Kangaroo paw beds, originally uploaded by gypsy woman1.

The Kangaroo Paw is the floral emblem of Western Australia and in Kings Park they have large beds of them and at this time of the year they are at their most vibrant best.

Kings Park botanic garden is, in my opinion, the very best botanic garden of the many I have seen. Of course it has a huge variety of native plants to display but it presents them so well and all are labelled with excellent information boards around the park. It brings together all the many plants and arranges them in sections representing the different geographic areas of Western Australia.

If you come to Perth you must not miss a visit to Kings Park.

Categories: australian travel, botanic gardens, flickr photos, native flowers, Western Australia | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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