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In The Clouds

During Becky’s April Bright Square photo challenge I opened the archives to December 2019 and January 2020. Now I’m sharing more of our pre-pandemic holiday in California and Nevada with stories that just couldn’t be squared!

Postcards from America

We knew there was a fabulous view out there – we just couldn’t see it.

At Hearst Castle, just 8 kilometres inland and 490 metres above sea level, we should have been able to see California’s central coast and the Pacific Ocean beyond. Not on this very foggy day – the view was hidden by thick cold cloud.

And while the mist may have obscured the view it enhanced the beautiful gardens surrounding the castle, giving them an ethereal feel.

The muted light of this overcast day accentuated the brilliant blue of the Neptune Pool and the swirling fog made the colonnades, winged figures and Roman temple seem almost mystical.

It was as if the sculpture by Charles Cassou depicting the birth of Venus was made for a day like this.

Inside, a second pool glowed even more than the Neptune Pool. Surrounded by spectacular mosaics, Murano glass tiles and gold leaf, the Roman Pool was also more lavish. The perfect reflections on the undisturbed water magnified its opulence.

The splendour of the pools was repeated in the gardens surrounding the house. Even in midwinter flowers bloomed in rich jewel colours.

We may have been denied the views from the top of the hill, but up close the scenery was spectacular.

25 An Iconic Ride

As part of Becky’s April Bright Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B, I’ve opened the archives to January 2020 to share our 19 day trip to USA. Join me on a pictorial travelogue of the best and brightest of our pre-pandemic adventures in California and Nevada! The rules of the challenge are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word bright. Look for #brightsquare.

Postcards from America

We couldn’t be in San Francisco and not go for a ride or two on a cable car. These iconic hand operated street vehicles have been in operation since 1873 and, of the original 23 lines, three still run in the downtown area. 

While the cable cars are on every visitor’s to do list, the museum dedicated to the history of cable cars is less well known. Located in the Washington-Mason powerhouse and car-barn, the museum tells the story of their ingenious inventor Andrew Smith Hallidie and the talented engineer William Eppelsheimer who put Hallidie’s ideas into practice. 

Many beautifully restored early cars are displayed along with artefacts including photographs, staff uniforms and maps. 

While the museum is located on the mezzanine floor of the building, the working operations of the powerhouse can be seen on the floor below. Winding machinery keeps the cables moving in a continuous loop, driving the cars outside on the streets. In the adjacent workshop, maintenance on the machinery and the cable cars is constant.

When you visit San Francisco make sure the Cable Car Museum is on your itinerary – you can get there on a cable car!

17 One Place, Two Views

As part of Becky’s April Bright Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B, I’ve opened the archives to January 2020 to share our 19 day trip to USA. Join me on a pictorial travelogue of the best and brightest of our pre-pandemic adventures in California and Nevada! The rules of the challenge are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word bright. Look for #brightsquare.

On the border between Nevada and Arizona we saw two extraordinary structures. Hoover Dam, on the Colorado River, was completed in 1936 and is the tallest of its kind in the United States. The Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which connects the two states, is the world’s highest concrete arch bridge.

From the dam we had an amazing view of the bridge and later, when we walked across the bridge, we could see the hydroelectric plant, the dam wall and Lake Mead. 

Story Tellers

Camping at Carnarvon Gorge, October 2020

The main track at Carnarvon Gorge is 9.7 kilometres one way. With several sets of steps, many creek crossings and some gradual inclines, the track is classed as Grade 3/4 and is suitable for bushwalkers with some experience. Nine side tracks off the main track lead to the scenic wonders of the gorge. The walk to the Art Gallery begins 5.1 kilometres from the Visitor Centre.

The Art Gallery at Carnarvon Gorge is not your usual gallery. It’s located in the middle of the bush, the work on display is more than 3,500 years old and some of the techniques used to create the images are unique to this area. Its location high on a sandstone wall means it’s an uphill walk, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

The track is just 340 metres and most of the way the incline is gradual. There’s no need to rush – go slowly and enjoy the spectacular scenery. 

As the track becomes steeper, the sense that something special lies ahead grows stronger. Roughly hewn steps lead up between huge slabs of rock towards the entrance to the gallery.

The Art Gallery is a collection of more than 2,000 images crafted on the stone by the indigenous Bidjara and Karingbal people. Stencils, paintings and engravings depict tools, animal tracks and the hands and feet of people from long ago. The gallery is viewed from a 62 metre long boardwalk, giving visitors the ability to see the ancient works close up, without causing damage. 

The people who lived here told stories through these images, recording their connection to country, their way of life and their spiritual beliefs. Their works have survived for more than 3,500 years and their stories are still being told. 

Joining Jo for Monday Walks

Not Forgotten

Exploring Queensland: Tamborine Mountain

The slopes of Tamborine Mountain are covered with dense stands of Kauri and Hoop pine, cedars, flooded gums and strangler figs. When the area first became accessible to European settlers in the 1870s, these magnificent rainforest trees attracted the attention of timber cutters.

Among the earliest arrivals on the mountain was the Curtis family who, in 1888, built a water wheel and steam driven timber mill on Cedar Creek. They dammed the water each night and released it in the morning, creating enough force to turn the wheel which in turn generated steam to power the machinery in the mill.

Luckily for the rainforest, the mill only operated for a few years before low timber prices caused it to close in the 1890s. In 1908 parts of the mountain were declared Queensland’s first national park, guaranteeing the safety of the trees in the forest.

While the water wheel and timber mill are long gone, the Curtis family name carries on. Downstream from where the mill was located the water of Cedar Creek tumbles over a narrow rocky ledge festooned with ferns and moss. It fills a deep pool at the base of the falls before making its way further down the mountain. Curtis Falls, named in memory of the family, is surrounded by the beautiful trees which first brought them here at the end of the 19th century.

 

A Passion for Waves

Kind Squares Photo Challenge #22 ~ Queensland: One of a Kind

Destination: Burleigh Heads

The Ocean View Circuit around Burleigh Headland ends at John Laws Park in the Gold Coast suburb of Burleigh Heads. Popular with both locals and visitors, the park is filled with 450 Norfolk Pines, some planted more than 80 years ago. They provide welcome shade for those who want to sit, relaxing and enjoying the beautiful outlook or watching surfers in the water below. 

Surfing has long been part of the beach culture at Burleigh Heads. The waters off the headland have attracted surfers for decades and the world’s first professional surfing competition, the Stubby Surf Classic, was held here in 1977. 

Even the picnic tables in the park celebrate Australia’s passion for surfing.

This month I’m joining in every day with Becky’s October Kind Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word “kind”. Look for #kindasquare

Calm Waters

Kind Squares Photo Challenge #19 ~ Queensland: One of a Kind

Destination: Tallebudgera Creek, Gold Coast

The protected waters of Tallebudgera Creek have long been a favourite of Gold Coast holiday makers. Originating in the hinterland at Springbrook, the creek flows down the mountain range and through the Tallebudgera Valley for 25 kilometres before joining the Coral Sea between Burleigh Headland and Palm Beach. 

Tallebudgera is one of those places families return to year after year and many south eastern Queenslanders have fond memories of their first school camp beside the creek.

The sandy beach is perfect for picnics and the calm water is a haven for swimmers. It’s no surprise that the creek is popular with fishermen too – the name Tallebudgera means “good fishing” in the local indigenous language. 

This month I’m joining in every day with Becky’s October Kind Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word “kind”. Look for #kindasquare

Brooklyn House

Kind Squares Photo Challenge #10 ~ Queensland: One of a Kind

Destination: Brooklyn House, Howard

Dame Annabelle Rankin earned her place in Queensland’s history with many notable achievements. She was the first Queensland woman elected to the Senate, the first female to head a federal government ministry and, in her role as High Commissioner to New Zealand, the first Australian woman to lead a foreign mission.

Annabelle also supported many community groups and charities. Her highest honour came in 1957 when she was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1957 for her political and public service.

Brooklyn House, in the small Wide Bay town of Howard, was the childhood home of Annabelle Rankin. The grand Queenslander-style home was built in 1890 for the Rankin family and remained in their ownership until 1969. It was left derelict for many years before being restored by new owners to its former glory.

Set in lush sub-tropical gardens, the house is surrounded by a wide shady veranda which provides protection from the harsh Queensland sun.

It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a delicious Devonshire Tea.

This month I’m joining in every day with Becky’s October Kind Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word “kind”. Look for #kindasquare

Over The River

Kind Squares Photo Challenge #6 ~ Queensland: One of a Kind

Destination: Dickabram Bridge, Miva, Queensland

For a country bridge linking two small rural towns, Dickabram Bridge is an impressive sight. Located between Miva and Theebine, the steel truss bridge is 191 metres long and stands 23 metres above the Mary River.

The bridge opened in 1886 and carried both road and rail traffic between Dickabram and Kilkivan.  It’s one of two of this kind left in Australia and the oldest in Queensland, and has been heritage listed since 1992. Trains no longer travel along this route but the bridge is still open to road traffic, one way at a time.

There’s a reason why the bridge is so far above the Mary River. With a catchment of more than 7,000 square kilometres in an area of the Great Dividing Range with higher than average rainfall, the river is prone to flooding. Since records began in 1868, the riverbanks have been breached 83 times. Major flooding, when water levels reach 20 metres or more above normal, has occurred 20 times. Only once though has water covered the timber planking of the bridge.

Dickabram Bridge was built to last.

This month I’m joining in every day with Becky’s October Kind Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word “kind”. Look for #kindasquare

A Nut By Another Name

Kind Squares Photo Challenge #5 ~ Queensland: One of a Kind

Destination: Bauple

Have you ever eaten a bauple nut? You’re probably shaking your head, but chances are you have and you didn’t even know it!

The trees on which the nuts grow are native to northern New South Wales and south eastern Queensland and were named by the local indigenous people who once lived in the region. Enterprising farmers began growing grafted trees as early as the 1860s and in the 1880s they were introduced to Hawaii, where they became one of the state’s most important crops. Today the nutritious nuts are grown commercially in 13 countries, in a global industry valued at more than one billion US dollars. The bauple nut is Australia’s only native food source grown in other countries.

Have you guessed which nut I’m talking about? The bauple nut, also called the Queensland nut, is most commonly known as the macadamia.

Original ungrafted bauple trees still grow on the slopes of Mt Bauple in the Fraser Coast region of Queensland, in a national park reserved for scientific study.

Three original trees also grow in the grounds of the Mt Bauple Museum in the nearby town of Bauple, which celebrates the famous nut in a festival each November.

Next time you pop a macadamia in your mouth, take a moment to remember all those trees growing wild on the slopes of Mt Bauple and the indigenous people who prized the nuts as a delicacy.

This month I’m joining in every day with Becky’s October Kind Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word “kind”. Look for #kindasquare.