Celebrating Flowers

August ~ Flower Show

In the last full week of September, Toowoomba celebrates all things floral during its annual Carnival of Flowers. Australia’s Garden City confirms its reputation with a grand floral parade, competition gardens and colourful exhibitions featuring everything from teapots to quilts.

Every year, St Luke’s Anglican Church hosts a beautiful floral display created by the Toowoomba Floral Art Group. Spectacular arrangements featuring both everyday and exotic blooms fill the church and thousands of visitors come to enjoy and admire.

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There are more beautiful flower shows and open gardens over at Jude’s place.

In The Kitchen

Goin’ Cruising #9

Day Six – Willis Island/Sea Day

After enjoying our visits to Airlie Beach, Cairns and Port Douglas, a day at sea provided a welcome opportunity to relax. We shopped at the duty free stores, lost yet again in the tie break of the Cake and Coffee Trivia competition and went for our morning walk around Deck 14. To maintain this demanding schedule we needed sustenance,  and it was provided by the delicious food at the Waterfront Restaurant.

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We ate almost exclusively at the Waterfront during our cruise, and every meal was excellent. We were delighted by the efficiency and grace of the restaurant staff and amazed at how quickly we were served. We wondered how all this food was created day after day; with more than 1500 hungry passengers on board Pacific Dawn the demands would be enormous.  So when the chance came to experience first hand how all this wonderful food is created, we joined in with equal parts enthusiasm and curiosity.

First we went to a culinary demonstration in the Marquee Theatre. Executive Chef Alexander Keck and Maître d’Hôtel Darren Cholerton entertained us with a humorous commentary, often poking fun at each other while creating Broccoli, Scallop and Bacon Risotto and Crème Caramel.

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While the dishes were cooking, we learned that all the food served on board Pacific Dawn is sourced in Australia and, for a seven day cruise, 250 pallets of supplies are delivered to the ship.

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The scents wafting from the cooking station on the stage were enticing and we eagerly raised our hands when Entertainment Director Zoltina-J asked for taste testing volunteers. Mr ET was among the lucky ones to be chosen and he joined the others on stage for a close up view of the cooking.

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His verdict on the risotto: “10 out of 10!”

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When the demonstration was finished we headed to the Waterfront Restaurant for a behind the scenes walk through the kitchen, where staff members were busy preparing the lunch menu.

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Of course, when food is consumed, there is always washing up to be done. Around 32 000 plates and 30 000 pieces of cutlery are washed every day. We made sure not to stop in the cleaning area in case we were conscripted!

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Later, when we returned to the Waterfront, we sat down for lunch not just with healthy appetites but also a deeper appreciation of those who helped to bring such delicious food to our table.

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A Speck in the Ocean

Goin’ Cruising #8

Day Six – Willis Island/Sea Day

We farewelled Port Douglas and sailed overnight in an easterly direction, out into the Coral Sea. Our destination was Willis Island, a tiny speck of land 450 km from the mainland. From our vantage point on Deck 7 of Pacific Dawn, the island seemed completely alone in the open ocean, but it is actually one of three small sandy coral cays.

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The whole island is 500 metres long, 150 metres wide and at its highest just 9 metres above sea level, although from  a distance it didn’t even look that big.

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A cluster of buildings house a weather monitoring station for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, and the four meteorologists who live there provide vital weather data, especially during cyclone season.

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The sky above the island is filled with dozens of large seabirds, one moment soaring high and the next swooping low over the water. Some came close to the ship, flying over and around us as if they were inspecting the intruders in this isolated place.

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A Morning in Port Douglas

Goin’ Cruising #7

Day Five – Port Douglas

Port Douglas is the gateway to the World Heritage listed Daintree Rainforest and, even on a sunny morning, the distant mountains are dark with a dense covering of forest. We’ve been to the rainforest before so this time we stayed in town.

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Our walk began from the Reef Marina, where small boats were moored alongside luxury yachts and fishing trawlers.

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It was a short walk around the waterfront to Market Park and the Church of St Mary’s by the Sea. Inside the church, the window behind the altar created a real life artwork.

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Leafy Macrossan Street begins at the end of the park. This bustling street is lined with souvenir shops, cafés and pubs and we wandered along, stopping on the way to admire local arts and crafts.

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Macrossan Street leads to the Esplanade and the northern end of Four Mile Beach. Our goal was Flagstaff Hill, where an easy walking track leads up and over the summit to Trinity Bay Lookout.

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From here, the view was breathtaking: Four Mile Beach curving away to the distant mountain range, Pacific Dawn resting at anchor in the Coral Sea and beyond her, the fringes of the Great Barrier Reef showing dark blue on the horizon.

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We continued walking down the other side of Flagstaff Hill, past luxury homes hidden behind tropical gardens. We envied their million dollar views and debated which home we would buy should we ever win the lottery.

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At the bottom of the hill we left our daydreams behind and joined the tourist crowd on Macrossan Street. We retraced our steps back to the marina, where a little orange tender was waiting to carry us back to the ship in time for a well-earned lunch.

Join Jo for more Monday Walks

 

Riding The Waves

Goin’ Cruising #6

Day Four – Cairns

After three days of perfect weather and calm waters, it was surprising to hear the captain of Pacific Dawn announce a delay in launching the ship’s tenders for our visit to Cairns. The windy conditions had whipped up a large swell and safety was always going to be the first priority. Finally, after lowering a tender and testing the waters, the first group of passengers left the ship.

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We waited for our turn to go ashore and watched as the little orange tenders bounced over the waves. We were expecting a wild ride but, instead of a tender, we boarded a large catamaran which sailed effortlessly across the water to the mainland. We landed at Yorkeys Knob, a beach suburb 20 minutes north of Cairns and this time we did take the bus into town.

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Our bus stopped at the beginning of Cairns Esplanade, a 2.5 km walking track along the foreshore lined with cafés and shops, memorials and works of art complemented by beautiful views of the marina, the forest covered mountains and the calm waters of Trinity Inlet.

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We wandered along the walkway past a memorial commemorating the start of the torch relay for the 1956 Olympic Games.

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We learned about the Yirrganydji People, the traditional owners of this land who lived along the coast and fished in the tropical waters.

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We dipped our toes in the warm salty water of the Lagoon. It’s the perfect swimming spot all year round, safe from the marine stingers and salt water crocodiles which inhabit the ocean here. Large metal fish, representative of the small fish woven from palm leaves by Torres Strait Islanders, fly effortlessly above the swimmers.

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Our return journey to Pacific Dawn was on a tender. It was a rocking, rolling ride over the choppy water – so much fun and better than a roller coaster. I felt like one of those flying fish, skimming over the waves to our ship.

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Join Jo for more Monday Walks

Piña Colada Coming Right Up!

Garden Photography: July – The Edible Garden

I love the flavour of coconut – in cakes and cookies, macaroons and muffins and cool refreshing drinks.

This palm tree, laden with coconuts, leans out over the beach at Port Douglas in far north Queensland. If only I could grow one in my backyard!

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Visit Jude to see more enticing edible gardens.