Bondi Beach…

Today, we had a bus ride and ended up at Bondi Beach. This is another iconic place I’ve always wanted to visit. It was a Sunday, so the place was buzzing and very busy.

People everywhere looked like they were thoroughly enjoying life, as I am on this amazing trip. This crescent shaped beach is breathtaking and full of people surfing, wandering, sunbathing or relaxing. Yes, of course the sun was shining. What a great way to enjoy your free time. Chilling, eating and chatting with friends and family.

The beach is one of the most famous in the world and when you arrive, you can understand why. It is so vibrant and seems such a happy place to be. There’s even the grassy knoll if you don’t like sand. Campbell Parade  consists of shops selling surf gear, t shirts, swimwear, food and drink or even hire a surfboard.

Bondi Beach 1875

 

Bondi Beach 1930

 

It is famous because of the surfing and kite flying competitions. The name Bondi is an aboriginal word and means water breaking over rocks or noise of water breaking over rocks. Francis O’Brien of the Bondi Estate started it all by making the land available to the public for picnics during 1855 and 1877. It wasn’t until 1882 that the government became involved, and made Bondi a public pleasure resort.

Good job they did. Anyway, we loved the experience and next Stop is Manly which is the beach the locals prefer. Which is best?

Source: Bondistories.com

 

The Great Barrier Reef (Never again…!)

So we rocked up half an hour before sailing and waited to be summoned to the relevant vessel. Eventually, a steward appeared and we went on the boat leaving most of the customers behind. She had to bellow again and they woke up, and moved. Well it was 7am in the morning, so you can’t expect people to be sharp.

We settled in our nice seats ready for our cruise to the Great Barrier Reef. Kindle ready, and looking forward to morning tea and a cake. This should be a good day.

As soon as the boat started we started to rock fiercely. It’s a fast catamaran that goes at about 22 knots, riding the tips of some big waves. We sat there while they went through the obligatory safety procedures and already I was feeling rough. A steward came round and advised me to go to the top deck and sit in the front of the boat, in the fresh air which I endeavoured to do.

Walking, legs wide, pouncing from hand rail to hand rail, I somehow got to the relevant place with all the other sickies. Sat in the middle of the bench, wind howling, waves rolling, clutching fiercely wondering how I was going to survive for two, long hours. Couldn’t move because of the violent rocking of the boat. Lots of young chaps were joking around about how ill they were feeling and whether they could stand or not and the steward explained how ‘you get used to it’ and demonstrated his skill of ‘sea legs’ by walking round without looking paralytically drunk (like the rest of us).

Of course, eventually one man went down and we all followed suit. Mr ‘Sea Legs’ promptly got the hose out and I went down stairs and sat at the back of the boat desperately wondering if we were ever going to get there.

We did. It was a wonderful day.

The water became calm, vivid blue and we went over to the Lady Musgrave Island for a walk. The sand is almost white with the most beautiful shells, faurna and trees. Lady Musgrave Island is the only coral cay navigable lagoon on the entire Grea Barrier Reef.

The Island is a 35 acres coral cay with surrounding reef and named after the wife of Anthony Musgrave, a Governor of Queensland. Apparently, Lady Musgrave held tea parties on the island.

We explored the island with our guide and learnt about how the female birds, noddy-terns, sit on a branch whilst waiting for the male bird to bring them yellow leaves, to build a nest. They sit, like princesses, only accepting one in ten leaves. When the leaf is accepted, they poop on it, to build the nest and the male bird goes off to look for more suitable leaves.

On the way back to our vessel, we had a glass bottom boat tour and observed sea creatures including fish, turtles and stingrays, with educational and informal commentary. Back to the boat for lunch and snorkelling.

The lunch was superb. Lots of salads with cold cuts, bread rolls and all the food was fresh and yummy. The most amazing aspect of the day is the snorkelling. I was a little unsure about this as you snorkel off the vessel but put the gear on and just went for it. Can’t tell you how stunningly beautiful the Reef is. Having all the colourful fish, float past you is a most surreal and special experience. I swam around looking at the Reef for a long time. The vibrant colours are extraordinary and I’m so pleased I experienced this part of the day because it is magical.

So after this we dried off, took photos and enjoyed the views and then eventually set off home. I grabbed an afternoon tea and cake because I’d missed out on the morning refreshments. The trip back started off calmer.

It didn’t last. I sat still this time, drifting in and out of sleep. Then the banging started, the waves rolled violently and I kept my eyes shut, trying to ignore the rolling waves.

“Are you ok?”The concerned steward asked.

Staggered to the facilities…

This time, I returned to my seat, helped by Miss Concerned Steward, and hubby is still there, sitting, reading his Kindle.

I would like to mention the staff on this vessel were extremely helpful, concerned and very aware of your personal safety. As I came out of the facilities, I think I could have easily had an accident, if it wasn’t for the support of the staff. The boat was rolling up and down and it was difficult to hang on!

For all that, I wouldn’t have missed this trip for the world. Never thought I’d go snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef and it was certainly one of life’s great experiences.

No more boat trips though. Never again. NEVER. By the way, hubby wants to go whale watching.

Why I missed the plane and benefits of travel…

The unexpected dramatic situation…
Before we left Dubai, we experienced a situation which although dramatic, wasnt the end of mankind, so all fine. Just inconvenient.

After a sleepless night worrying whether the alarm would work in the right time zone, we rushed down for breakfast and then collected our luggage. A nice man took us on the hotel buggy and informed us he had phoned our taxi and it was on the way. Very efficient.

Well, we waited…and waited.

The helpful man made an agitated phone call.

Apparenty, the Dubai Tourist Board, in their joyful wisdom, had shut the road for a bike race.

“We will miss our plane.”

We declared growing anxious.
The helpful man consulted the hotel Manager, who contacted various officials, including the police. My hubby was taken into the hotel office and came out to inform me, we are now on tonight’s flight at 9.15pm instead of the 9.35am.

Off we went to our room, for our extended stay, to download new boarding passes and consult family about the drama.

In my wisdom, during this unexpected extra time, I decided to write a blog post about the benefits of travel and how to overcome small disasters, such as the above.

Benefits of Travel

One of the benefits of travel is realising these things happen. A lot. Certainly in my world. What is important is communication, not to panic (which is challenging) and find ways to resolve the problem (which can also be challenging). Thankfully, the hotel staff seemed genuinely concerned and very helpful. Also, when we emailed our forwarding hotel, they responded sympathetically too.

Travelling helps you become independent and motivates you to speak to people of various countries, cultures and even folks from your own country. Organising yourself is also a prerequisite. All the accommodation, car hire, flights, etc and deciding what to see and visit, when you do finally arrive.

I’ve wanted to travel since I was young. Life just gets in the way. Now I’m older, I can take the time and go where I fancy.

To be honest, I like going out to explore my local vicinity too and enjoy the fresh air. You really don’t have to go far. In my humble opinion, just go out and explore, even if it is your local area where you live. It is a great way to gain unforgettable experiences and become tolerant of others.
 Something I struggle with especially when people talk loudly and endlessly on their phones.

Yes, it teaches you about yourself as well and makes you analyse your behaviour. Why do I moan when I’ve walked miles and miles at the end of the day? Pointless and unnecessary. Especially, when you consider all those special moments, local food, history and culture. If you are home and/or abroad it teaches you about the cultural differences and what makes your area and culture unique.
Different situations arise and you really do have to keep calm and carry on.

Onwards and upwards…and don’t forget all those mementos and memories you are collecting.

Main benefits of travel to help you on your way (hopefully)…

– Communicate and convey any challenging problems, with a smile

– Travel encourages you to become independent and motivates you to speak to people, doesn’t it?

– Organising yourself (accommodation, car hire, flights)

– If you want to explore just do it even if it’s your local surroundings

– It is a great way to gain unforgettable experiences and become tolerant of others

– Teaches you about yourself
- Keep calm and carry on (try anyway)
- You acquire some great memories and stories

Visiting South Bank, Brisbane and musings…

Botanic Gardens in Mount Coot-tha and musings

Yesterday, we visited the Botanic Gardens in Mount Coot-tha and it was very hot. Lots of water was drunk as we wandered around the woodlands, lakes and Japanese garden. For some reason, probably because of the heat, couldn’t really enjoy the area as much as the gardens in Brisbane (centre). However, did appreciate the picnic areas by the lake which are truly beautiful.

After this, we went home to our flat and enjoyed some relaxation by the pool. Felt very tired, which annoys me because one shouldn’t be tired on holiday or ‘travelling’, as I’ve labelled it. Travel and sightseeing can make you weary with all the planning, walking and seeing stuff. Wonderful though, and I am thoroughly enjoying the whole experience.

Back to the City…

We decided to visit the city centre as we needed some advice about travelling north and the Great Barrier Reef. One thing that we realised is it is as quick to walk, rather than catch a train for one stop.

Brisbane has become very hot, which apparently is unexpected. Usually the temperatures soar in January and February. The walk towards the river is hot and luckily, quite breezy. We booked our visit up North with accommodation after taking advice in the very ornate Brisbane Tourist Office on Queen’s Street.

After this visit, we walked across the bridge towards South Bank and went in the Queensland Art Gallery. This is an innovative facility full of ancient and modern art of Australia, Asia and the Pacific. The focus is on indigenous art and an extraordinary light and airy WaterMall. Yes, it is water (above)! This fosters a historical impression with paintings, sculpture, film, photography and obscure installations using materials of Australian fibre art to indicate old and new stories, themes and traditions.

Then we visited the Gallery of Modern Art which has a contemporary take relating to current themes and some colourful art on a larger scale. This isn’t as prolific as the Queensland Art Gallery and couldn’t help wondering if the best things about this gallery, are the spectacular views out of the window.

We strolled along and consumed an over large ice cream, admired views of the parkland, Brisbane Wheel and city vistas. Then, for me, surprise, surprise we turn a corner and there is the most beautifully landscaped pool with beach. Flipping heck, is this the Utopian City or what? Absolutely, unprecedented sight and quite phenomenal. The area is well used by the community and even the childrens’ pool is beautifully landscaped with a pebble type stream with crane/wheel-like toys in. The sparkling lagoon is surrounded by tropical plants, sandy beaches and picnic areas. Truly wonderful.

Final thoughts on Brisbane…

We loved Brisbane. Well designed and presented, clean, tidy, attractive, vibrant and lots to do. Also, it is worth making a point that a lot of the things are FREE, including the galleries, live music venues and the wide variety of cultural activities on offer.

The CityHopper is a great way to discover the city, parks and outdoor areas whilst observing the city metropolis, skyscrapers and busy workers. You can also enjoy a variety of performing arts, internationally acclaimed cultural exhilbitions and events. The bars are friendly with a wide variety of craft beers, gins, whiskies and wines. Queen Street is fabulous for shopping and basically you have everything you need here. I can highly recommend it as a place to visit and discover all that it has to offer.

 

 

Outdoor living…

I’d been hankering after a visit to the beach since arriving in Australia. Yes, after visiting Dubai and then Singapore, we finally arrived. Hooray.

As mentioned in my previous blog post, we’ve extensively explored Brisbane and now wish to see some coastal places. The nearest seaside spots, are Manly and Wynnum.

We arrived after about a 20 minute drive and parked. Walked along the Waterloo Esplanade, around the bay, to Manly Yacht Club, wandered around the bay area then went on the hunt for a supermarket so we could precure some sort of lunch. We eventually found a supermarket, after much searching (we walked past it) and had a delicious veggie pasty and crisps. Not a health day then.

Back around the bay, to the car and then onwards to Wynnum. The seaside views are lovely and although the beach is only a small one, there are many facilities to keep you busy. Outdoor sea water pools, fountain play showers, recreational parks, wind surfing, and the bbqs open bbq/picnic huts. It was like looking at one of those 1960s architecture plans/drawings for family outside spaces, we had to examine during geography, at school. I quickly realised that this is what the whole space reminds me of. The ultimate outdoor living for family life and thoroughly used by the community.

Australia has the best facilities for outdoor living. We’ve all heard this, but it isn’t until you see it, you realise how true this is. The facilities are truly splendid. Australians have built in bbqs and they are abundant along this coast. Families congregate, bbq, have picnics, go in the pool and generally have fun. There are water sports (fishing, wind surfing, kayaking), a fishing pier, shops, sailing or you can just hang out on the small beach. The place is vibrant and packed with families and this is great to see. Oh, and you can arrive and park. There’s a novelty. No stupid yellow lines or resident parking only signs everywhere.

Oddly enough, it probably isn’t the greatest area because it only has a small beach called Pandanus Beach. The shoreline is covered with mangroves and aromatic mudflats which makes it unsuitable for sunbathing or swimming. However, the views and family facilities are marvellous and the bay path is great for a stroll to see all the yachts sailing around the bay.

What impressed me, was how everything is set out for the purpose of encouraging families to relax and have fun. The area started to be popular in the 1930s and still has the old fashioned charm about it. Lucky Australians having this wonderful outdoor life.