Catching a Sunbeam
For those who live in modern cities, the Nadi Bus Station in Fiji is quite an experience. The local bus services that transport people to their homes in the small towns and villages on the main island of Viti Levu use buses that in most other places would have been retired in the 1960s and 70s. Mostly, these buses have open sides instead of windows to allow the tropical breezes to cool the passengers as the wend their way along Fiji’s bumpy roads. Catching these buses is fun. It gives an opportunity to experience something of the everyday Fijian life.
Tucked in behind the shops and market of Nadi is the bus station. Between the bus platforms are unsealed busways. Old style buses in varying states of repair line up along the platforms waiting for passengers. Here, at the Sunbeam platform, passengers buy tickets and queue to board the bus. The journey from Nadi to Suva on the other side of the island takes three hours and twenty-five minutes – a long time to be seated on sparsely upholstered seats driving over bumpy roads. I guess that just part of island life. Bula.
Fiji sunset. Wedding. Far from home. Strange surroundings. Hybiscus flowers. Tropical beaches. Distant thoughts…
Audrey’s Special Syrup
Spotted this in a Sunday morning market at Burleigh Head on Queensland’s Gold Coast. This was from a time when advertising standards were somewhat different from they are today! It reminds me of claims on food and medicine products from China not so many years ago that could “increase your child’s intelligence…”, amongst other things. I wonder how the “oil tycoon Humphrey Gibbons” felt about the claims on the poster/label?
There were other similar facsimile signs and posters on display, including one for “Marriage – The end of a perfectly good sex life”, and “Shut the xxxx up – The original WHAT-EVER spouse poison”!! I wonder how many of these are original, or just someone’s fantasy? Definitely very Australian though.
Surfing for Breakfast
Most mornings along the beaches of the Gold Coast there are surfers out in the water trying to find the perfect wave before breakfast. As soon as the sun peeks over the horizon boys and girls appear with their surfboards and take to the waves.
This image was taken from Main Beach, Surfers Paradise and shows the distant buildings of Burleigh Head on the horizon.
There is a newish building at Broadbeach on Queensland’s Gold coast that I understand the locals call “the wave building”. To me it looks more like a basket weave, but waves could also describe the architectural features of the building. What do you think?
The forest near Mount Tamborine in the hinterland of Queenland’s Gold Coast there is a “skywalk” in the canopy of the trees. There is another at O’Rielly’s in the Lamington National Park. The Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk is less than two years old and has an impressive steel bridge that takes visitors thirty metres above ground level into the trees and gives a view of the forest that can’t be seen from the ground. Built off-site in a factory as modules, the visitor centre and bridge system were brought into the forest on trucks and bolted together.
Information about the flora and fauna is posted on signs along the walkway and paths that lead through the trees. There is also a forty metre cantilever “bridge” reaches out into the high branches.
Billed as an “eco-walk”, it is worth the visit for the experience of seeing the trees as the birds do.
Tucked in behind all the tourist infrastructure and bustle of the Gold Coast are a series of mountain ranges known locally as the Hinterland. Near to Surfers Paradise is Tamborine Mountain with its small hamlets and cutesy shopping centre. From Mt Tamborine there is view back to the Gold Coast and, inland across a rural plateau, towards a series of mountain ranges that include (amongst others) the Springbrook, Lamington, Mt Barney and Main Range National Parks.
The best time of day to view this area is at sunset when the sky is coloured by the sun and the layers of mountains can be seen in the distance. Mt Warning, named by Captain Cook in 1770, is the highest mountain in the area and is at the southern end of the chain. Its present height is only half of what it once was. Natural erosion over the millenia has reduced the volcanic caldera to a low horseshoe with the pyramidal Mt Warning being the prominent feature. Mt Warning, 1,900 m (6,200 ft), is the peak at the left skyline in the image.
Thoughts of Louisiana
Ever since we returned from our Gold Coast Holiday the news of the oil spill off the coast of the southern states of the USA has filled the news. Today is 51 days since the oil rig exploded that started this environmental tragedy. Images of shrimp boats confined to port came to mind when I looked at this image taken at a marina on The Broadwater near Queensland’s Seaworld.
This boat is like many along those southern states. The owners depend upon being able to get out of port to earn their living from harvesting the sea. A boat in port is not earning any money.
There is talk of prospecting for oil and gas off the coast of New South Wales. Imagine the impact on the tourist resorts along the eastern coast of Australia if an accident like that in the USA occurred here!
While all of the major commercial buildings associated with tourism are clustered close to the beach at Surfers Paradise, there is a whole different world less than a kilometre inland. The Nerang River wanders its way from The Broardwater at is mouth, snaking its way behind the tall buildings. What at one time were small swampy islands in the river have, over the years, been reclaimed and built on with low-rise residential development connected to the mainland by bridges. Canal systems have been developed along the edges of the river where homeowners can park their boats at the front door.
This can be seen clearly on the Google Map below:
The Gold Coast has been a magnet for retirees from the south-eastern states of Australia, as well as from New Zealand, for years. The warm climate has also attracted families to the area. The south-eastern part of Queensland has been one of the most rapidly developing parts of Australia for more than 40 years. New housing developments are always on the go, and developers and “investment” advisors continue to lure new investors to part with their money in return for prospective rental income and capital gains. Many shady schemes have come and gone over the years, but for those who bought wisely and held on for the long-term have received reasonable market returns on their investment in this property market. Others have lost money through unwise and dubiously promoted schemes. Such is life in a rapidly moving environment like the Gold Coast.
An early morning walk on a beach is always interesting. As the sun rises above the horizon the light is golden and the shadows are long. People emerge from entry points to walk, run, contemplate, or go surfing as they do at Surfers Paradise.
As I observed this girl preparing to go surfing I became aware of a couple of lads who appeared to be trying to impress her. As she went through her stretching regime one of the fellows began to imitate by going through a programme of his own. It was amusing to follow the routine, with the occasional glance along the beach to see whether she was watching. As the comedy developed he began doing hand stands to draw more attention to himself.
Finally she picked up her board and nonchalantly walked to the water’s edge and launched herself at the waves.
The lad was still posing, even as I left the beach!
The beach at “Surfers” is long and golden. It stretches from Burleigh Head in the south to The Spit in the north. At intervals along the coast there are congregations of tall apartment and hotel buildings like this one at Surfers Paradise.
The beach faces east and catches the sunrise and morning sunshine. From mid-afternoon the tall buildings begin to shade the beach as the sun travels westward. When big storms come the sand shifts up and down the beach. From time to time the Gold Coast City pipe sand from the north or south to replenish the beaches at the main resorts so the tourists can be kept happy.
This image was taken from The Spit on the southern side of the channel between the mainland and Stradbroke Island. Nearby, but out of picture, is a jetty with sand dredging pipes through which the sand slurry is pumped to the beaches at the resorts.
Whenever we travel, my wife and I like to visit the local markets. There is always a different variety of fresh fruit and vegetables which are different from those we normally see at home, as well as a different range of people amongst the visitors.
So it was at Nerang on the Gold Coast of Queensland. As we wandered around the Sunday morning Farmers’ Market we came upon this fellow.
Here was a person who in all ways was a real character – hat, birds, accent, and all. Obviously a regular at the market, he chatted to the stall holders on his rounds. The white bird appeared to be moulting and looked somewhat scrawny, but this just added to the flavour of the overall package.
Early morning at Surfers Paradise. Out to get some sunrise images. Views this way. Views that way. Turned around, and there he was.
Queensland’s Gold Coast is an international tourist destination. People come from all over the world to get a taste of the long golden beaches and sunshine, as well as the surf after which Surfers Paradise is named.
In the late afternoon of our first day at “Surfers” we encountered these ladies in sarees matching the surf patrol flag at the water’s edge near a patrolled swimming area. Their friend was swimming in the surf nearby. Notice the shade from the nearby buildings. At this time of the year visitor numbers are fewer than in the heart of summer. World economic problems have also had an effect. Locals told us that vacancy rates in holiday accommodation is higher than usual. Even fellow Australians and near neighbours from New Zealand have come in lower numbers than in previous years. These two groups make up the greater part of holiday visitor numbers to the Gold Coast.
Gold Coast Holiday
My wife and I have just had an unexpected holiday to Australia’s Gold Coast in the state of Queensland. We hadn’t planned to travel internationally this year but it seems that plans are there to be “adjusted”. As the result of a surprise invitation to join friends at their apartment in Surfers Paradise we found ourselves on a flight for an early winter holiday in “Tropical Queensland”.
One of the first things one does when arriving at Surfers Paradise is to visit the famous golden beach. It was late afternoon when we stepped onto the sand for a short walk along the shoreline. Being a Saturday afternoon there was still a lot of activity. The surf patrol flags were still out, young people tossed a frisbee, and others just strolled and looked at the view.
A characteristic of the beach here is that the tall apartment and hotel buildings cast long shadows in the afternoon which takes the warmth out of the air, especially at this time of year. Also, because Queensland has never implemented daylight saving, it is dark by 5.30 pm. What you do get though, is short and colourful twilights.
Over the next ten days our friends ensured that we would come to know the area around the Gold Coast, and its shopping precincts, very well.