February 27, 2011

Poodles are big in Australia

In every sense of the word. Some of them are the size of a small horse, like our friend the possum-worrier in New Farm Park (above); and you see a lot of them about.

Australians love dogs, even more than Brits do, if that were possible. Many people have a matching pair. They love to congregate in dog off-leash areas, fenced areas provided by Council where dogs can roam free: they've even been known to have parties there.

The dogs have great fun, too. Sometimes there's trouble, especially if a squarehead gets involved. Unfortunately, there are lots of squareheads in Australia, too, especially Staffies. You can feel safer here, however, because dogs have to be on a leash at all times in public spaces. Most Aussies adhere to this most of the time. They may lapse on near-deserted beaches.

Poodles feature prominently in the designer creations of cross-breeders. They are intelligent, it is alleged. (That's not the reputation they have in the UK, is it? I always thought they were a few sandwiches short of a picnic and wore silly bows in their funny fur, well in the bits that hadn't been shorn and shaped. Maybe that was their owners.) Oh... and they don't 'shed'.

There seems to be no end to the permutations. Yesterday I heard some people, when questioned by a passerby, explaining that their dog was a Moodle. That's a cross between a Toy Poodle and a Maltese. This has opened up a whole new world to me. Do you know there are Aussiedoodles, Cadoodles, Cavoodles, Foxhoodles, Irish Doodles, Labradoodles, Moodles, Poogles, Rottles, Scoodles, Schnoodles, Spoodles and Woodles?

And if the unfortunate Poodle-cross caught it's creator on an off-day, it might have ended up with a name like Bich-Poo, Jack-A-Poo, Pekepoo, Poo Shi or Siberpoo.

I kid you not. If you doubt me, visit dogbreedinfo.com/ poodlemix.htm.

There are more little white dogs in Australia than you can throw a stick for. Hundreds of thousands. Some of them are strange breeds: Bichon Frise, or Volpino, or Cotton of Tulear, or Bolognese. If you cross a Bolognese with a Poodle, of course, you get a Bolonoodle. Many little white dogs may be crosses – between Malteses and Westies, or Toy Poodles and Yorkies, for example. A lot of them are yappers and, if you watch them in the dog off-leash areas, many appear to have Little Dog Syndrome (LDS). This is when a small dog acts way beyond its size and bulk in order to protect itself or because it's spoilt (Baby Substitute Syndrome?) and hasn't been disciplined properly or trained how to behave.

We know a little white dog. He came for supper the other night. It was quite nice to have him, actually, exploring the house and garden at his leisure, even though I have had cause to complain in the past when he barks at nothing in the night. I don't think he's got LDS. His name is Chas.

Since so many people have dogs in Oz, they tend to assume that everyone is tolerant of their animals, even when they bark, persistently, at inappropriate times of day. Australians put up with many things without protest – admirably so in certain circumstances – and they don't seem bothered if a dog, left alone in a house for instance, yowls for hours.

There are uniquely Australian breeds, too. There are Kelpies, bred from European sheep dogs so they could work stock over vast outback stations and withstand the harsh climate. They're well-balanced, obedient, affable, bright and companionable. It's a shame their name sounds like something Scottish fishermen would land at Ullapool.

The Australian Cattle Dog (ACD, as you have learned already) is also known as a 'blue-heeler', I guess for obvious reasons. There is a bit of Dingo and Collie and Dalmatian thrown in the mix of this loyal, courageous cattle worker.

Surprisingly, given the subtropical temperatures in Queensland, there are a large number of dogs with very thick coats. Alaskan Malamutes, which look a lot like huskies, are very common. We even saw a splendidly groomed Chow the other day. And two Afghan Hounds live in Bulimba. They wear scarves – a bit like snoods – around their necks, pinning their ears, but I know not why. I've seen lots of people asking their owners, but somehow I can't bring myself to do that. I noticed one day that when these hounds approached the dog off-leash area, pandemonium and all hell broke loose among the members already coralled. To such an extent that the Afghans were led away. I'm sure it had something to do with the scarves. 'Twas just as if the other mutts were saying, 'We don't want those woofters in 'ere, mate.'

Just in case those who know me well are concerned I am becoming a dog person...

This post was last updated on 29 September 2011

February 25, 2011

Noosa second time around

I first went to Noosa from Byron Bay, about ten years ago. Byron was a hard act to follow, and Noosa failed. Since I've lived in Brisbane, less than a couple of hours' drive from Noosa, it seems as if everybody goes there fairly regularly – during school holidays, showing visitors the Sunshine Coast, taking a break with friends – and everybody loves it. I had to have another look.

Noosa is like nowhere else I've been to in Australia: it has very many roundabouts and no traffic lights. So, my kinda town perhaps. It also has no high-rise buildings, so the view from our Noosa Crest apartment on Noosa Hill was spoiled only (slightly) by the mass that was the Sheraton. The apartment was spacious and well-equipped and the garden outlook very pleasing. The complex also has its own private boardwalk down to within a couple of minutes of Hastings, avoiding main roads and parking problems.

Noosa is a collective term, not the town's name. There are three parts to it: there's Noosa Heads, centred on Hastings Street –with its pricey boutiques and smart restaurants – and Main Beach, which is small by Australian standards and crowded on sun-filled days but not others.

Hastings Street has changed, I'm sure. It's greener and traffic-calmed and much quieter and more pleasant to wander along than I remember.We kept returning to the same 'cafe with the fountains' that I'd been to years ago. I like continuity.

Then there's Noosaville on the Noosa River, which has a less exclusive feel about it despite being full of people who like messing about in boats. And Noosa Junction which, as you might guess, is the gas-station and cut-price end of town. It takes a while to become orientated because, Australian signage being typically sporadic by nature, all the roundabouts look the same and the town is widespreading.

To the southeast of Noosa Heads are the Eastern Beaches, the closest two of which are Sunshine (below) and Sunrise. These are what you'd expect of a quality Sunshine Coast beach: big enough waves for those who want action; and beautiful, largely deserted sands for those who like to bake peacefully with a book. Sunshine enhances the experience, of course.

To the east of Noosa Heads is Noosa National Park (Headland section). Go to the end of Park Road and choose your walk from several track options with the help of smiley ladies in the information centre who will even point out a dozing koala above the parked cars before you set out.

It was pouring with rain, and the forecast was not good, but we were not to be deterred.

The Coast Track skirts charming little bays – Tea Tree, Granite, Winch Cove and Picnic Cove – and passes gently over headlands such as the Boiling Pot and Dolphin Point (alas, no...).

Green and granite
Tree with a hole
At the end of the headland are Hell's Gates. It was so windy by this point I feared for my safety and would not venture any nearer the edge of the cliffs than this tree, which I clung to. I couldn't keep my camera steady either, but my friend fared rather better (below but one).

Just beyond the point was Alexandria Bay (below), around which the Coast Track continues towards Sunshine Beach, but we turned off on to Tanglewood Track to head back to where we'd started, a round trip of 7km.

Tanglewood Track wends it way through eucalypt woodland and then rainforest, and is described as 'one of the park's more isolated inland walks'.

There were so many things that caught my eye, I got into trouble for dawdling.

Squiggly signature tree

Caped lizard with lunch

Noosa is a good point from which to visit the Cooloola region (see Return to Rainbow, February 2011), and Fraser Island, and it's within easy striking distance of Brisbane. I have to confess to changing my mind about the place. So much so, in fact, that I'd quite like to extend my property portfolio with a beachside weekend hideaway, rather like ex-PM Kevin Rudd has just done.