March 16, 2015

Out and about with a visitor

The week before last we had a visitor to stay, for nine days. Most of that time he was working his wotnots off, but we did get out a bit. He escaped the usual first-time-visitor orientation, in which I produce maps of Brisbane and region; then Queensland; and finally the whole Australian continent. It's easy to underestimate distances here; some people only vaguely know where Brisbane is on the map, let alone the Sunshine and Gold coasts. Even getting to grips with the state capital is tricky since the mighty Brisbane River wiggles its way to the ocean in a most disorientating manner.

The best way to see Brisbane is from a CityCat. The first high-speed CityCats, four of them, were introduced in 1996. Two more were added the same year, and another two in 1998. From 2003, the CityCats really took off: in 2006, 5.9 million people travelled on the network; and by 2009 there were 14 vessels in operation. In October 2014, in time for the G20, the 20th CityCat was launched. The fleet has helped to put Brisbane on the tourist map.
Old and new at Bulimba ferry terminal
How many cranes?
I sometimes wish I had a job in the CBD. I can't think of a better way of travelling to work than on a ferry in year-round fabulous weather. If you've recently got off a long-haul flight, it's rather pleasant to sit in the breeze and mindlessly, if necessary, watch the city unfold before you.

We took our visitor, an engineer and inventor, downstream to Hamilton North Shore, which seemed apposite. There is a cafe from where you can observe a residential city transforming into a working port. But we stayed on the ferry and sailed upstream to South Bank for a long lazy lunch in the Queensland Art Gallery's delightful cafe, adjacent to the 'signature Watermall and sculpture gardens'.
I have never been to QAG and not found something interesting. On this day I thoroughly enjoyed Columns by Zilvinas Kempinas, which 'contrasts the sense of permanency created by its classical colonnade with the ephemeral and now almost obsolete material of VHS tape used to construct it'.
Patrick Thaiday's Zugub (Dance machines), featured objects used to animate narrative dance in Torres Strait Island performances featuring loud singing and drumming. And these pots were pleasing.
The following weekend we took our guest further afield – to the Glass House Mountains. Having missed his orientation, he followed our route on the iPad. We turned off the Bruce Highway at Caboolture and drove to Maleny via Woodford, where we had a coffee stop. The rookie navigator suggested a back-ways route off the Kilcoy-Beerwah Road a few kilometres west of Peachester. I was wary. My friend and I have tried on two or three previous occasions to find cross-country alternatives to main roads in this neck of the woods, but have always found that, since our map was produced, they have become no through roads. It's happened enough times now to arouse my curiosity, not to say suspicions. There were no 'private property' signs, so how come public access has been removed? We did come upon a wonderfully rickety-rackety bridge, however, before we had to turn back.
 We lunched in Maleny, in pineapple country.
It was a hot and sunny day, but the visibility wasn't good: the mountains were mistier than ever before from the best lookout on Mountain View Road. Further along, we visited the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve to observe rainforest preserved. It was quite late in the afternoon and the mosquitos were too numerous not to mention. In rapidly fading light, sunlight shafts permitted otherwise impossible photos, but it was difficult to identify either birds in the canopy or Pademelons (small rainforest wallabies) in the undergrowth.
500-600-year-old Rose Gums
Mary Caincross Reserve is a 55-acre remnant of rainforest that used to cover the Blackall Range. It is an ecological island, with no corridors to other remnants nearby. It is likely that other species once lived here before becoming extinct, and that animals currently inhabiting the forest may be threatened in future. It is one of few subtropical rainforest remnants surviving in optimum conditions; that is, flat, relatively deep basalt soils and plentiful rainfall.

We saw Brush Turkeys, Wompoo Fruit-doves and a Golden Whistler: we heard Eastern Whipbirds and a Green Catbird. We saw several Red-legged Pademelons, one of which had a juvenile suckling. The female Pademelon is extraordinary in that, if she becomes pregnant while she still has a joey in the pouch, the new embryo is put on hold until the pouch becomes available. This reproductive system is known as embryonic diapause. She can produce two types of milk at the same time, one suitable for a developing baby and one for a maturing joey. What a clever girl.
On our visitor's last day, we took him to look out over the city and surrounds from Mt Coot-tha. You could barely see the sand blows on Moreton Bay's islands or the Scenic Rim of mountains towards the New South Wales border, but the River's winding path and wide bends were clear enough. It was the weekend, and there were busloads of… how can I put it… eccentric tourists, who we soon wanted to put behind us. We drove down the hill to the Botanic Gardens for some lunch, before having a wander. I've decided I am a foliage person, not a flower person.
A cactus and a koala?
Dusky Moorhens and chicks, above and below
Our guest flew home that night. As ever, it had been a pleasure showing someone round our exceedingly small part of Australia.


  1. OK
    Well this is the above engineer / visitor
    We saw all that and more. It was excellent. Much though I was impressed by all the sights two things come to mind
    First life is about people. I met about a hundred in a week. But undoubtedly the fairest of them all were my hosts. Completely devoid of technical questions and bent on hospitality. For a few days I was allowed to live as family participating in the scrapping and the duties, enjoying mouthfuls of super fresh fruit at breakfast while listening to heated arguments about state politics, ministers and coal dust. I was reminded of four years in my youth when I lived in the bush in Africa as each morning in Brisbane I was woken at 05.45hrs to the cacophony of bird song. I rushed out onto the balcony and spent till breakfast enthralled. I trust all you back there will appreciate how lucky you are. If only you could also enjoy the company of Jude and S who have, I understand, survived my visit. A blessing on all your Agenda. Charles

  2. well, thank you.
    you will be welcomed back any time!

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