Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Christmas in the Gardens

 Well another year has passed and we have had another  fantastic event!
 Lots of people started arriving very early to make sure they got the spot they wanted
The children had a lovely time dancing to the music in a designated area in the front of the crowd.
The weather was perfect - a light breeze blowing and the showers stayed away till well after everyone had gone home.  We had about 500 people there and we are hoping we can hold the event in the same place next year. We have a new curator in the Gardens who thinks we should move to another part of the Gardens which would be in blazing sun for the first part of the evening and there are not the facilities there yet which we would need.  No doubt we will sort it out in the new Year, but it is a bit of a worry.
At last I have made the first Christmas cake, and I am about to cut up the fruit for the next one.  I am so far behind this year I will be in a panic to get everything done in time. We are staying here this year and  spending the day with our family- that way they can have the mess and we can come home for a snooze!
Hopefully the weather will be kind to us - it is fearfully hot and sticky at present.  I remember one Christmas though when we were thrilled to have the rain start about 11am on Christmas morning, cooling everything down so we had an appetite for our dinner.  We were not nearly so thrilled when it continued to rain almost continuously till the end of January, by which time we had had over 100 inches  and were very, very waterlogged.  I know we need drought breaking rain, but definitely not a repeat of that!
I probably won't get around to posting again before Christmas, somehow I don't seem to find very many interesting things to write about these days.
I hope you  all have a wonderful Christmas and an even better New Year.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

A bit from the garden

 My backhousia citriadoria (lemon scented myrtle is looking a picture.  I have been slightly disappointed that I planted this tree as I did not realise it does not attract the birds - but the insects and bees love it!  I love the smell of the crushed leaves, but I am not a fan of the flavour in cooking - though it is very fashionable these days.
I have no idea of the botanical name for this basket fern.  The new leaves have suddenly shout out, changing the appearance dramatically.  Ten days ago it was a danger to our eyes, with long sharp spines protruding everywhere. I spent an hour or so getting rid of them while I was waiting for a boring business visitor of Bill's to leave!  Bill collected this fern about forty years ago from a site in far north Queensland, along with the orchids - you can see the tail end of their flowering in the photo.
The season has been strange, many plants are hanging on to their flowers for months instead of  weeks and others are flowering right out of season.
I suspect the El Nino has something to do with this.  We are not getting our usual rain, but thankfully neither are we getting the super cell storms of Southern Queensland.  I think the ants are giving me a message though, the sugar is definitely back in a screw top jar instead of its open bowl, and we are inundated in our bathroom.  We had black cockatoos a week ago, but they have vanished this week - they are always supposed to be a sign of rain coming.  Bush lore is fascinating.
Christmas has caught up with me and I have realised all the stuff which I need to do with so little time left - it seemed like months away till this week!  At least I have bought most of the ingredients for my Christmas cakes and puddings, also the Christmas cards, but I haven't started to write any yet.  I also need to perforate 900 raffle tickets - after Bill has produced them - for our annual Christmas in the Gardens event at the Botanic Gardens in just over two weeks!  At least we are not going away this year so I don't need to worry about that.
Time to do some weeding - they are growing so big even I can see t hem

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Positive news

Well, I have to say I am now getting quite excited about the move of the library into the CBD.  Friends of the Library had a presentation and a walk through the empty building this morning.  One of the major concerns we had originally was that the Heritage Collection, a very important repository for Mackay's history,  had no place in the new library.  We complained loud and long - and won!!!  The plans we saw today have a larger designated room than we have in the current library.

Libraries are changing so much these days with all the new technology, many fewer books and more interactive computer driven stuff - way beyond my comprehension at present, but this is the way the young people like it, so the library has to stay relevant.

The library is supposed to be finished and open by August next year, so look forward to some exciting photos then.

 My friend Shirley and I went into the CBD early for the presentation so walked around to see what the revitalisation has supposedly done. These tow photos are of some more of the street art, which i rather like.
  The inspiration apparently came from the collection of gingers in the Botanic Gardens.  Sadly, we found very few open shops and none which would bring us into the CBD to shop.
I was talking to the architect who designed the Library, who had been to a conference recently where Bernard Salt, a well known demographer, was talking.  he thinks Mackay and Karratha in West Australia are likely to lead the way to recovery in the next few years.  I certainly hope he is right.
Now I had better get back to some boring bookwork for the company. 

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Brisbane and back

We had a quick trip to Brisbane for a couple  of days late last week and it has taken me till now to find time to post!
The prime reason for visiting was so Bill could receive an award at a function of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute recognising his 50 years of membership - now he no longer has to pay to belong!
My sister came down to spend a day with us just being tourists.  Bill and I had visited the Ccity Hall a couple of years ago when it has just reopened, which is when I took the photo below.
 This time we were able to go up into the clock tower, which is a looong way up.  I had not been up there for over 50 years and workplace, health and safety has take over. We are not allowed out at the middle floor where you can really see the workings of the clock, and neither are we allowed to be at the top when the clock chimes!  In the old days there used to be a rush to get there when it chimed twelve.
 The Albert Street uniting church looks so tiny from up at the top.
When City Hall was built in the 1930s and right up till the 1960s it was the rallest building in the CBD and you could see it from everywhere - but not now.
 The guide told us a lovely story about the clock tower, which should have had a lot more carvings added to it as well as a peace angel at the very top.  Times were tough and the money ran out, but the worker adding the final bits was determined to have something up there.  He raided the local tip and found pipes and an old hand basin and other bits which I can't remember and fashioned it into a decoration which is still there  - not sure if you can see it in the photo.  I am afraid I shoot and guess!
There is an excellent art gallery in the building and one of the exhibitions on at present is the works of William Bustard.  I have only taken photos of the wonderful stained glass, including a working cartoon for the construction.  he did the stained glass in my local church where I grew up and I had always loved them.  He was a very talented painter of oils and water colours as well, but somehow I did not manage to take any photos of those.

 By then it was time for lunch. Barb had not been to the reconstructed Shingle Inn which is within the building, so we had to try that out. It is still just as good.
 Bill opted for traditional fish and chips and this is what came.  They have had the paper specially printed, with old time stories on it, al good fun.
 Following lunch we took a trip down river on the City Cat, always a lovely experience.  I was trying to get photos of the jacarandas, but you need grey skies to make them show up properly and they were also a bit past their best, but still lovely.  Brisbane is full of these lovely trees.
The storms treated us well and stayed away when we were out and about.  We were able to have a family get together with our son, Barb's son and wife and their 15 month old toddler, the get back to the hotel still dry.
 Bill and I went up river on the City Cat the next day.  This interesting bridge is one of the later day additions to allow uni students easy access from the southern side of the river to the university, saving at least a half hour trip through the CBD.
 This is not the photo I wanted to show you, just a general shot of the river.  I can't manage to delete it and I can't find the one I rally want!  I know I have downloaded it from my phone, but obviously my filing is not up to scratch.

We had some wonderful rain while we were away, our rainwater tank is full again.  There are some more storms around today so hopefully some more rain is on the way.  So far this year we have only had 45% of our average annual rainfall and there is not much time left to catch up.
This last photo is of the brunsfesia in the corner of my neighbour's garden.  The perfume is glorious, I am enjoying hanging clothes on my clothes line just near it.
Now I had better go and water some of my pot plants which the rain will not reach.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

A busy week

We usually lead a very quiet social life, but for some reason this week has been quite hectic - out to dinner three times and dinner guests here pm another night!

On Friday night we had dinner at a trendy restaurant  in the City Heart - not our choice and definitely not food to Bill's liking - very fiddly, fussy servings on strange platters, with sauces drizzled round the food to garnish the plate.  I would like to have taken a photo but it was also  very dark.  The company was lots of fun so we enjoyed the evening - and we were not paying so no complaints.

I had a scaled down version of this photo, but I seem to have lost it.    This a piece of art which the council has erected in the  median strip in the City Heart.  There are several other similar pieces apparently at the other end of the street - causing considerable controversy.  I think they are quite fun. but the colours will fade within a few years with our tropical sun.  The Council has spent millions of dollars on a beautification project with very mixed results.  I think the little bits I have seen are very boring, but I almost never go in there anyway.  Many of the shops have closed  in the last two years while all of this has been happening, some because of the recession, but others because nobody could  get to them with road closures.
The next controversial act of the
Council has been to announce the City Library will  move into a refitted building in the City Heart next year as well.  Currently it is part of a precinct housing the Council administration building, an art gallery, the senior citizens Hall and t he Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre. All of these are surrounded by a park, with relatively easy access to parking.
The move was announced as a done deal with no prior public consultation which has not helped. I think there are exciting possibilities, but parking is a big issue and I am not sure the money will be available  for all the features which are supposed to go into it.  Time will tell.
Now it is time to co out into the garden to plant out some seedlings I bought yesterday.


Sunday, 18 October 2015

Crazy dog

 I finally managed to get a (slightly blurry) photo of Jock carrying his precious rabbit around.  He is now seven and was given this toy when he was only a  few months old.  he just adores it and carries it out to greet any visitors.  He also gives it a very hard shaking whenever he is annoyed with a passing noisy truck!  We are all amazed it has lasted all this time.  he has quite a few soft toys and he loves them all - he has never tried to pull them apart, which all our previous dogs would certainly have don within a few days.  Rabbit has needed some significant repairs over the years but just from normal wear and tear.
 My ardisia has been flowering magnificently this year.  I will need to prune it heavily shortly so there are no seeds on it.  Jock loves to eat them and some of the gardening books say they are poisonous so we will take no chances. At least the seeds on this variety are a boring black so I don't feel so bad.  I would be very cross about missing the glorious red berries on the common ardisia.
 The ruellia has gone on flowering for simply ages also, I think the plants are telling us something about the dry times we are continuing to experience.
Ditto the Whitfieldia, though this lovely shrub has bursts all through the year. The flowers last well in a vase also so that is an even greater plus.
The wind is still blowing and we have had no rain so I need to do some hand watering to keep my shrubs going.  I had just been watering the pot plants when I realised some of my garden beds were none too happy.  I am cutting back a lot of rubbish so I can get at the parts I want to mulch.  Thank goodness the hot weather has not really started here yet - has been much hotter down south - should be the other way round! Cheers till next time

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

It has been far too long!

I really have no excuse for being absent for so long, though I was having technical problems with my computer software for a while. Then I just seemed to keep running out of time as I am pretty slow at loading anything using my Magic software - and of course I need that to see!
So much has happened I am not sure where to begin.  We have been to Brisbane for me to be fitted with another artificial eye - looking just as good as the first one.  The socket apparently takes several months to settle down and this one is marginally larger than the previous one.  Thank goodness I won't need another one for at least three years, but I will need to go back annually for the eye to be cleaned and polished - that is a great excuse to take a holiday.
We had a lovely ten day break, visiting family and friends.  I did not even do any shopping, apart from grocery shopping, but we had lots if luscious morning and afternoon teas and lunches and dinners out - I must have done much more walking than I thought as the scales said I had only gained one kilo after all of that!
We visited my sister at Buderim after a few days in Brisbane.  While there we finally got to visit the beautiful Maroochy Botanic Gardens.  These gardens have been carved out of natural woodland and are just so peaceful.

 As you can see, the paths wind through thick scrub
 There are some brilliant sculptures placed within the area
This was one of my favourites.  I could have stayed for hours but of course there was not time, and the weather was quite showery, so we headed for cover.  Actually, we were extremely lucky with the weather all the time we were away.  South East Qld had been having some fairly unpleasant weather, but we did not get caught with rain or high wind whenever we wanted to go out at all - quite amazing.
Just before we went to Brisbane, the Garden Friends had an excursion to Rowallan Park, an environmental reserve which was gifted to the local Scouting Association about 60 years ago.
 It is a beautiful area with a lot of history attached to it and is only a twenty minute drive north of Mackay, so is very easily accessed by lots of community groups.
 This lovely gum tree stands just near where we had our lunch.
This is the drive in, with many sites available for camping - our boys spent lots of happy weekends there when they were scouts and now our grandchildren are following on.
My poor garden has been sadly neglected, but  despite this, the shrubs have flowered.
 The birds just love this Calliandra, which has finished flowering now, but I couldn't resist showing you the photos of it in its glory.
 My swamp orchids had to be tied up as the wind was blowing them over.  They looked wonderful.  Apparently there used to be acres of them in flower in swamps neare Caloundra on the sunshine Coast sixty years ago - though sadly not in the places we visited as I had never seen them till they were planted in our botanic gardens.
 I finally persuaded Bill that this Happy Plant had to go - I wanted it gone after the tree fell over about six years ago - it was only about a metre high then!  Look what happened, obviously the soil or something must have been what it wanted!
This is the after photo - actually that was taken about three weeks ago and I should take another one as there are about ten shoots growing out of the stump!  I will definitely be pruning it severely in future to make sure it stays a reasonable size.
Bill purchase some tree loppers after we saw them demonstrated on Gardening Australia and they are the best thing ever!  Now I can get the garden back into shape without having to wait for Bill's strength to chop back the shrubs.  Everything has got so overgrown in the last couple of years, we really need to cut back to waist height, then fertilise and add compost and start again - provided we get some rain to water the plants.  That is not looking very promising as a very strong el nino event is forecast for this summer.  Hopefully we will get a few storms.
I had better sign off before I bore you too much. 

Monday, 27 July 2015

Crazy weather

No photos today, but I could not resist commenting on the crazy weather we appear to be having.  A week ago we had almost  record low temps for this area - and Stanthorpe in southern Queensland even had snow.  Mind  you the days were gloriously  sunny, even if a cold breeze was blowing, excellent tourist weather/
Now this week we are having almost record high temps for this time of the year, up to 25 degrees so it feels like spring is here.  Some parts of western Queensland have had absolute record temps for July - around 31 degrees.  I fear it will be a long, hot summer.  Hopefully there will be some good rain to replenish the water supply, especially for the farmers. 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015


My sister was here visiting for 10 days, so of course we did lots of touristy things and generally had a wonderful time.  She brought the fine weather with her, though it also turned very cold and Barb had forgotten we can have cold weather so she had not brought enough warm clothes - but she survived.

 The Mackay Festival of Arts was on while Barb was here, opening with a concert under the stars with the visiting Queensland Symphony Orchestra string ensemble.  What a fantastic night that was - in the Botanic Gardens with an audience of around 2000!  We nearly froze, but we loved it.
 We went for several walks in the Gardens and I took this photo of an egret on one of them - I am quite thrilled, especially as about one second after I clicked, the egret found something to eat and moved like greased lightning.
 Further on in the Gardens we saw this cheeky scrub turkey  eating ripening bananas.  It is a male, but fortunately it is not breeding time so it will not be trying to build a mound and move all the garden mulch a couple of hundred metres to where he thinks he wants it.  I have never seen one in the Botanic Gardens before, but home gardeners hate them as they dig up all the young plants, making a dreadful, destructive mess.
 We made the most of the sunshine, driving north to Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour in the Whitsundays.  This is a photo of Shute Harbour, with lots of very large yachts moored.
 Back in Airlie Beach the water was a bit more protected.
 We were all wearing slacks and long sleeved jumpers with no desire to take anything off, but these hardy souls were sunbaking around the lagoon which has been built  there.  It is very crowded in the summertime and is a great asset for the area.
 Barb went home yesterday and Jock is missing her!  She used to have a banana for breakfast every day and Jock pleaded for a piece every day as well!
My cleaning lady brought a present for Jock this morning - a soft toy with a squeaker from the op shop.  He had us all in stitches, running round the house with the toy in his mouth.  He kept it beside him all morning, letting us all know it was his!  he is quite amazing with soft toys, not tearing them to pieces as our previous cattle dogs would have done.
Barb drove me all round the place while she was here - we did over all the shops, not really buying anything, but just getting to all sorts of places I can no longer access on my own.  We had a lot of fun, but now I have a large amount of office work to catch up on so I had better get started.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Some colour in the garden

One of the advantages of living in the tropics is that there is still a lot of colour in the garden even in winter - or what is supposed to be winter!

 I have pots of bedding begonias all round the garden.  I love them as they keep on flowering for months on end and always look so cheerful.  When they finally succumb to wet feet they are easily replaced.
 The nodding violets have also been flowering for months.  Bill downloads all my photos for me and he never edits them so you see all the background rubbish because I can't crop them - or I haven't yet worked out how to without my photo editing programme which will not work on this computer unfortunately.
 The zygocactus on the back verandah has been flowering its socks off, but the couple in the greenhouse are only just starting to flower now.  I am not sure what the difference is, but we are enjoying them for longer.
I had to take this photo last night - an improvised wind shield!!!  We have been having very strong winds which interfere with cooking on the BBQ more than somewhat.  I was cross that Bill had not disposed of the cartons when we purchased three new office chairs, but he knew there was a reason why - he can always find a reason to hoard everything!
The wind is still almost gale force today, with occasional showers, but the forecast for rain earlier in the week was wrong.  The three day show was held in brilliant sunshine - really great for those who wanted to attend.
Now I had better get some lunch.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Better late than never

I have been trying to do this post for several days but at last I am here!  The Friends of the Gardens finally made an excursion to a local beach an hour's drive north of Mackay.  The day was fine and the wind was not too strong so we were all happy.

 A friend took most of these photos.  This is a blue tiger butterfly feeding on snakeweed flowers.  We get huge swarms of these butterflies in the Gardens quite often, they make a lovely show.
 We had a park ranger in the group, who said this is the case of a cicada larva.
 He also identified this gorgeous tiny bat as a northerrn tube nosed bat, it would fit in the palm of your hand easily.
 There were a couple of young children in the group so John was explaining to them how the hooks on the legs of this caterpillar, one of the swarming locust varieties, work.  i would like him to have killed it then, but i don't think he did!
 Just showing you what some of the vegetation looked like
 There were quite a few melaleucas flowering
 One minute you are in dense scrub, then a few steps further on you break through to the beach!
 Of course we had to eat after all the walking! The Seaforth Progress Association has erected some wonderful BBQ shelters and picnic tables for everyone to use - they even have lights so can be used at night.
There were two of these lovely Burdekin ducks wandering round and round the shelter, obviously hoping someone would throw them some bread.  Usually they are quite shy, but not this pair - sorry there is only one in the photo.

The weather continues to be quite crazy and still not cold - or not for most people anyway.  Minimums have made it down to 14, which is much higher than the maximums I have been reading on the weather chart for Tasmania!