Sunday, 20 May 2012

My(?) new toy

 My wonderful husband has bought a new laptop - the biggest one I have ever seen!  It will replace his very old one, but he has set up wireless connections to the downstairs part of our house so I can use it after my knee replacement.  I am hoping it will stay down there except when he needs to take it away with him for work!  The countdown is well and truly on now - only 16 days to go!
The other photos were taken at the Palm Fete held today - in a slightly different location, run by the Farleigh School P & C, rather than the useless organisers we have had for the last 5 years.  Everything was going extremely well, lots of visitors, and lots of interest, then down came the rain! A fierce squall came across the grounds mid morning, but fortunately most of the visitors had been there since 8 am and had done their shopping.

 Maya's critters are always fascinating for the children!
 Stalls I could see from our position
My walking stick made a handy prop to keep the roof up and stop drips!  We were lucky that we were under cover, lots of the stalls had no gazebos so I am not sure what they did.  By mid afternoon the sun was shining again and the wind had dropped back to a light breeze!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Manic May

 I took this photo last Saturday during a planting bee at the botanic Gardens - it is a silver bean or Sophora tomontosa tree, an Australian native used for medicinal purposes by the aborigines.  I don't do the planting, I take the smoko, much to everyone's delight!  Click to enlarge the photo and you will see the beans better.
 This shaded path winds through the nearby area.
 I titled this post Manic May as that is what our visitor Services Officer Maya calls it - there are extra activities every weekend during the month, and as well as that she has an exhibition in the gallery at the Gardens!  This sculpture, which is about a metre and a half long, is part of it.  The exhibition is all about seeds, and this is representing a dehiscent pod - one which scatters seeds in an explosive fashion.  I read that, I did not know the name before!  Maya wove it  from palm inflorescances, coconut leaves and a cane.  She ended up sitting in a small wading pool in her togs as she couldn't keep everything wet enough otherwise - that is dedication I think.
 Another of the Fibre Fever ladies has had a birthday and this is the card I sent.
I have had some fun with attachments which I made several years ago.  The top three magnets have decorations from my melting pot, stamped, then extra paint and embossing powder added.  The bottom ones are all from a hot glue gun squigled onto freezer paper, then painted with acrylic paint, and embossing powder added later.  I must do some more as they make very useful attachments to have on hand.
 Only 20 days to go now, I am really counting - and trying to get everything done beforehand as I don't really know for how long I will be incapacitated.  I am assuming only a couple of weeks, but who knows.

More photos next week probably.  There is a Palm Fete this weekend, usually a very large event, I have to be there by 7am to help set up - there are usually dozens of customers there by 8am - or earlier - the official opening time.  A different group is running the fete this year so it will be interesting to see how well run the day is.  The previous organisers were pretty hopeless so this should be better - we hope!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Last photos

 these photos are in no particular order, the top one is a view of Port Douglas, north of Cairns.  It used to be a sleepy little village with a wonderful 2 mile long beach, till Christopher Skase started splashing millions of dollars round in the 1980s.  Now it is the trendy place where all the celebrities from round the world jet in to.  I must confess I preferred it in its earlier incarnation.
 This lovely Tradewinds Chapel by the Sea was at Kurramine Beach, south of Cairns - so beautifully cared for.
 Sorry, this is the only photo of a cassowary I have, my camera battery died at that point and I had stupidly not learned from an earlier experience.  I left the case with the spare battery in the bus!  Cassowaries are very large birds, who are struggling to survive as so much of their habitat has been destroyed by cyclones in the last few years.  We saw one just beside the road in a cleared area when we were driving home, I suspect it was starving and looking for food.
 The cassowary, which does not fly, was part of hartleys Zoo.  These beautiful Jabirus, or black necked storks have simply taken up residence there.  I could not get any closer or they would have flown away, so the fence had to be in the picture.
 These welcome swallows were sitting on the railings of the boat while the driver was feeding the crocs, every so often they flew up in the air, but then returned.  They keep trying to build a nest under the awning, but the workers hose it all down every night, you would think they would learn and go elsewhere!
 This cockatoo must have had its wing clipped.  It was a pet at a coffee plantation we visited, it had a large aviary, with a door at the front and a feeding platform just outside.  When Sue (pictured) got up close to talk to it, the cockatoo took a real fancy to her and hopped onto her shoulder.  It pinched her hat, later retrieved, but was not going anywhere else - other than round to the other shoulder!  Took quite a few minutes to persuade it back to its feeding platform - and provided much entertainment for the crowd!
 This family of curlews was right outside our unit one afternoon late.  I would like to have got closer to make Dad spread his wings and hiss a warning, but I had been lying on the bed in my shirt and knickers attached to the TENS machine.  I could rush outside enough to get this photo but any further out and I would have been providing the sort of entertainment for the hotel guests I didn't really want to!
 One excursion for the partners was to a fabulous resort in the Daintree Forest, called Silky Oaks Lodge.  It is built on the bank of the Mossman river, pictured above - beautiful - but freezing all year round.

 We were very well fed here, I forgot to take photos of the first course, a choice of barramundi or melt in the mouth beef.  The dessert above is dragon fruit and berry compote with a lemon sorbet and I forget what they called the biscuit.
 I had this on, the macadamia and caramel tart with banana and another concoction on the left which I found a bit sweet for my liking.
This fig tree was photographed on the way home.  The photo above is a much older tree, with roots which have grown down to the ground to support the branches which have grown so far laterally they need that support.  They end up looking like a huge grove of trees, but is really only one.
This is a closeup of another tree where when you click to enlarge you can see the small roots growing down on the left, which will eventually become as thick as the others in the photo.
I am sure you have had enough of me if you have managed to persevere as far as this.  I had better go to get some dinner.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

More photos from the conference

While the men listened to various technical papers, the partners were taken on exotic tours and wined and dined far too well.  I am very definitely on a diet now!  Here are more photos of where we went and as usual click once or twice to see more detail.
 The Barron Falls as seen from the Kuranda train- not much to see unless there is a major downpour, since the Tinaroo dam was built about forty years ago.
 Same Falls seen from the other side of the gorge at the Skyrail station - with misty rain.
 A gondola of the Skyrail coming into the station.  there was huge controversy when this system was installed about fifteen years ago, the conservationists maintained the whole rainforest would be devastated.  All the massive towers were dropped into place from helicopters, as also were the workers - I am glad I wasn't one of them!  You cannot see where the footings are, but the view flying over the treetops is magical.
 We were definitely a log way up.
 This is looking down at the trees.
 Then we visited Hartleys Zoo, where they farm crocodiles for their skins - and show off the breeders to tourists.  This was a handler putting on a show for about 200 tourists.  He was teasing the croc in what I thought was quite a dangerous manouver, but he seemed to know what he was doing. 
 He dashed back into the enclosure on the right, then later gave the food to the rather large croc.
 This photo is in the wrong place.  Our group boarded the flat bottomed barge below to go for a trip on the river.  The driver had an esky of rotten chicken.  he attached pieces to the end of a string on a long pole and held it out for the croc, pulling it up sharply the first couple of times for everyone to hear the loud snap of the croc's jaws

 The croc beat him here, and grabbed about a foot of the end of the pole as well as the chicken!
At the end of the display, he nudged the boat into the bank and emptied the remainder of the ckicken onto the bank.  I wasn't quick enough with my camera (the battery was about to die) but there were about five crocs fighting over the food as well as at least half a dozen Rufous Night Herons.  They are quite free, but choose to live alongside the crocodiles in their habitat.  Sometimes on gets eaten, but mostly they manage to steal food and escape!
No time for more photos tonight, time for dinner, but I may bore you with some more tomorrow.  Still lots of interesting bits left.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Home from Cairns

We had a lovely week away, back home at the weekend to lots of washing, ironing, paperwork and several small crises like the TV not working, bulbs blown etc.
Ignore the rest of this post if you don't like a lot of photos!

 We stopped for smoko at a lovely national park Jourama Falls.  This was the creek, we didn't do the walk to the Falls.
 Click on this photo to enlarge and see the wonderful camouflage of the goanna - sunning itself.
 Again, you will need to click to enlarge this photo of the swimming enclosure at Kurramine Beach.  It has a net attached to the floats and goes up and down with the tides, keeping swimmers protected from the deadly marine stingers (box jellyfish or Chironex fleckeri) present in tropical waters.
 If you are stung by this jellyfish it is important to pour heaps of vinegar over the site as quickly as possible which makes the tentacles detach.  These posts containing bottle of vinegar are located at most popular beaches in the north.
 I don't know which species of wallaby this is, but he came to visit us when we were having lunch.
This was the view from our unit at Palm Cove where the conference was being held.

 Some lovely orchids in Cairns Botanic Gardens
 A pink ginger, not sure of its species name.
 I was fascinated by these heliconias, very large, and they looked as it they had been under a steam roller!
Not sure what is happening here - the photo on the left is the Kuranda railway station, which has had beautiful gardens in pots for at least the last 70 years.  The photo on the right got in by mistake and I can't get rid of it - a pathway in the Cairns Botanic Gardens.
 This is the Kuranda train, still with its vintage carriages, but no longer pulled by steam locos.  The line was built in the late 1800s up a very steep mountain, so that Cairns had an outlet to the rest of Queensland on land.  There were over 100 people killed during construction.  Today it is a huge tourist attraction.  More photos of that tomorrow.