Sunday, June 20, 2010

Beechmont - Binna Burra - Mt Warning

For almost thirty years, we have been visiting a house in Beechmont owned by friends and we really love the views from this place.

Since the house is high on a hill, the view is constantly changing as the clouds roll in.

A couple of visitors, no, actually they are local residents. Later we saw that one of them had a joey in the pouch.

A crumpet for breakfast. These come in packs of 6 and you toast them, slather them with butter and possibly honey or jam. The butter melts into the little holes and the crumpet becomes this hot lushous eating delight. An excellent alternative to toast.

The path into the rain forest at Binna Burra. It's quite well maintained most of the way and relatively easy walking though it can be hilly in parts.

Some of the trees have been surrounded by vines and creepers.

The photos don't really show how dark it is. Shadows in Australia are really deep.

There are quite a number of trails available, varying from the quite short to over 20 kilometers. This particular trail, Dave's Creek is about 12 kilometers (8 miles) long. While most of the trail is within the rain forest, at various points there are good views.

This is known as the Numinbah Valley.

At times it can get quite windy up there as the wind whistles up the valley.

An interesting rock wall.

The following day, we went to Springbrook which is the mountain on the other side of the Numinbah Valley. One of it's main tourist sights is the Purlingbrook Falls. At the bottom of the falls you can see a pathway which actually goes behind the falls.

Your hero inside an old tree. Numerous fires have been lit within the shell. Notice that although it is winter, I am wearing only a very light jacket.

Thed trunk of an Anarctic Beech tree, a few of which grow in the area. The seed that started this tree was 2000 years ago.

A view towards Mount Warning. Read the link, it's interesting.

Northern New South Wales from the same vantage point as the last photo. This is very lush countryside by Aussie standards. Dairy cattle and sugar cane are the main crops.

I've been thinking about doing the rim to rim walk at the Grand Canyon, Arizona in October this year. This three day walk would be very difficult and I have been doing a lot of walking to prepare myself. The test to see if I could even contemplate doing this walk was to climb Mount Warning again. I first climbed it when I was about twenty and again seven years ago. It's not easy.

The start of the climb which is over 3000 feet. For an interesting description of the climb, click here.

For the first half mile or so, there are lots of stairs. The climb is quite steep so it is a good idea to stop often and rest, particularly at the top of a flight of these stairs.

Further up the mountain, the trail becomes very rocky and difficult to walk on. In wet weather, it can be very treacherous.

The trail goes up the mountainside in a series of switchbacks. At the start of most switchbacks, they have installed railings to stop people taking shortcuts. These railings are wonderful to rest against as you regain your breath as you take a break.

A rough section.

You cannot believe you are just half way. Surely you were just about at the top. The whole return trip is 8.8 kilometers (5.5 miles) and the top half is much more difficult than the bottom half.

There were some teams of workmen close to the top of the mountain, creating some new lookouts. They climb up there every day and then walk down and I suspect they are now very fit.

Each work group had a shelter from possible rain. The aboriginal name for the mountain is 'cloud catcher' and it really does rain here a lot.

The final section has a chain to help you climb up it. I decided not to do that section because it really is exhausting going up and it is very difficult to come down.

The views are really good.

I actually went up the chain for about 50 yards and then decided it was not a good idea. It is very rugged.

So then comes the really hard part, the walk down the mountain. The constant descent is very hard on your knees and ankles and three days later, my ankles still hurt. It took me a bit less than two hours to go up and about an hour and a quarter to go down. I was pleased with that and the climb did not seem as difficult as seven years ago.

After these walks in the mountains, we have a tradition of going to one of the local beaches and paddling in the ocean. Although the water is a little cold, it feels absolutely wonderful on your aching feet. It feels like they are in champagne.

Further down the beach.

The handy dandy washer to clean your feet of sand. Note the elegant pointing of the toes.

Back at the house it was time for the evening show. There is often a cloud or two and the sunsets can be fabulous. Here is the start of the sunset. Enjoy.

Finally, the moon and what I presume was Venus. The sky is dark enough that the milky way is clearly visible.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Swann Road, Taringa, Brisbane

We used to live on Swann Road, Taringa towards the left hand end of the photo at the corner of Clarence Road. Our friends in Brisbane live close by on the other side of the railway line and we usually take a walk over there to check out our old house.

Swann Road is a road that was built on the top of a ridge coming down from the nearby mountain, Mount Cootha. It is somewhat busy in that there is on a bus route, but not that busy that there is constant traffic. Here we are at the start of Swann Road on the corner of Moggill Road which is a major road and very busy.

First we come to the bridge over the railway line. In the foreground is the local station, Taringa and for several years I caught the train into the city. The gauge of the track is 3'6" which is narrow but the suburban trains are electrified, air conditioned, quiet, comfortable and usually clean. The history of why railways were created in Australia using different gauges in the different states is interesting and a monument to parochial thinking.

Off in the distance about four miles away is the Brisbane city skyline and this view has become a problem. 

The northern side of the road has become very desirable for property developers with multi story units replacing the old houses. This site would have been very desirable because of the view and the location close to transport and shopping.

The now empty block, ready for development.

These tower blocks of units were built on top of the hill right across the road from our house.

I would walk up this hill on my way home from the train station. On a very hot afternoon after a boozy lunch, it could be a bit of a struggle.

A side street going down from ridge. Some of the streets leading away from Swann Road are very steep. Notice how the streets are lined with very shady trees, often jacaranda or poinciana along with the usual eucalyptus trees.

Both sides of the street are lined with footpaths. At this point, the footpath is totally covered. Shade is very desirable in the hot Brisbane climate and the older suburbs have many trees to help cool things down. Brisbane lies at 27 degrees south, about the same distance from the equator as Palm Beach, Florida.

Since we were here at the start of June, it was winter in Brisbane and consequently there were not so many flowers in bloom. The temperature would have been in the low 70s that day. No jacket required.

Eucalyptus tree trunk.

Ferns abound along the footpath. Because of the recent long drought, very severe water restrictions were introduced to Brisbane and watering of gardens and lawns was prohibited. Many plants suffered from the lack of water and most gardeners replaced these plants with native plants that could survive long periods without water. The drought became so bad that the combined capacity in August 2007 of the three major dams that provide Brisbane with water was down to 16%. Fortunately, there were two periods of heavy rain in the catchment area which filled the dams.

A bus stop and shelter. Protection from the sun is one reason for the shelter. Probably the more important reason is protection from the rain when it pours. Rain can be incredibly heavy at times.

Pedestrians have right of way at officially marked crossings. You might note the direction of the cars parked on the other side of the road. Yes, we do drive on the other side of the road. The correct side.

An official Post Box. I was quite puzzled by the blue colour when I first arrived in the USA and wondered why they had got it wrong. Click here or an interesting history of post boxes and their various colours.

Seeing we are on the subject of letters, here is a postman delivering the mail. They use little motor bikes and zip along the footpaths. This bloke has his high visibility uniform on and the yellow is a flap that protects his neck from the sun. Back when I was at University in the late sixties, I got a temporary job just before Xmas delivering mail. We used push bikes back then and even though I used plenty of sun burn cream,  I got well and truly burned. Queensland is the sunburn capital of the world. If you are contemplating visiting Oz, read this.

Now we get to the interesting bit where we look at some houses. This one is in the typical Queenslander 'colonial' style with wide verandas and a galvanized iron roof. Because the front of the house faces north, they have enclosed the veranda with blinds and lattice work to help protect the house from the heat of the sun. The architecture of these older Queensland houses is quite distinctive and these houses are very desirable.

Not all the properties along the street are as well kept as they could be.

The lattice also helps security.

Here is a typical layout. The veranda is quite wide, the house is on stilts with the underside concreted with room for the car.The stilts were supposed to make the house cooler as well as cope with the slope of the land. I grew up in a house very much like this one.

Not all houses are well cared for. This one needs a coat of paint, particularly the roof. It has also had the sides enclosed to create more living room, probably extra bedrooms.

Most houses in Brisbane have fences and they come in all different styles.

An older style. The wood can be extremely hard and a hole needs to be drilled to accommodate the nail before hitting it with a hammer. Seriously.

The sign on the gate about the dog makes interesting reading. Click on the photo to see a larger version.

Not to be outdone, the neighbour installed this sign.

Of course, this being Australia, there are plenty of spiders. This one was not too big with a total length of only three inches. I have no idea whether it's poisonous or not but I wouldn't worry about it.

Window shades protecting against the late afternoon sun from the west.

And so we are back looking at the front fence of our former house. Numerous trees helped shade the house.

To our great surprise and pleasure, the house had been painted. When we lived there back in the early 80's, the house was already over 100 years old so we were concerned that the house would be pulled down and replaced by a block of units. Fortunately, the City Council has made it much more difficult to get a permit to remove these old houses because of their age and architectural significance. It looks like the current owners have decided to preserve the house.

This would have been one of the oldest houses in the street and is not as grand as some of the others. The roof style is a little different with the veranda covered by curved galvanized iron.

It even had a name but I have no idea what it means.

The back of our house. The back veranda was where we lived most of the year. We bought a round table from the local Goodwill and hosted many dinners for friends and family. Because it was high up on top of the hill, we had marvellous views where we could see probably 50 miles. At night, the temperature goes down and it becomes very pleasant sitting outside for most of the year. Only during July and August would we eat indoors. For some reason or other, the current owners have planted a tree that would block a lot of the view.

Finally, a bit of fun. Yes, it is a dog washer.

So I hope you enjoyed this more detailed look at an interesting street in Brisbane. we certainly enjoyed living there and we always enjoy going back there to visit.