Monthly Archives: September 2013

Town of 1770 and Singing Sail

We continued our quest to follow in the footsteps of Captain Cook while in Queensland. Mum insisted on going to the town of 1770 because she was fascinated by the idea that a town could be named by numbers, not words. Turns out, it was where Captain Cook first stepped foot in Queensland. We went to a cairn that marked the beach he stepped on to, then walked down to the beach and stood where he stood. Mum thought it was pretty cool. Grace thinks it might be where he landed after he got a hole in his ship when he hit the Great Barrier Reef. Further down the coast at Emu Park, we visited a monument to Captain Cook called the Singing Sail. It is designed to whistle when the wind blows. The pipes have lots of different holes in them that the wind blows over and through. It sounded pretty eerie, almost like the sails on an old sailing ship. You had to be quite close to it to be able to hear it.
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Tin-Can Bay

On our way back to Brisbane, we stopped in Tin-Can Bay. There’s not much there – it wasn’t even as big as Dargaville. We went there for one reason only – to hand feed some wild dolphins. Every day, Indo-Humpback dolphins come into the harbour to be fed. Because they are wild, they never know exactly how many will turn up but there are always at least 2.
The male dolphin had been in a shark attack and was nursed back to health by the volunteers so he is always there. He is the alpha male in the pod. The female that was there the day we were is the ‘Mary Poppins’ of the pod. She looks after all the calves and keeps them away from humans and the pod until they are old enough to look after themselves.
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Koorana Farm

While we were near Rockhampton, Dad was feeling homesick so we decided to go to a farm, only this one was different from ours. On this farm, you were surrounded by water and animals that were difficult to see. Koorana was a crocodile farm. They farm salt water crocodiles in the same way we farm sheep and cattle. When they ‘harvest’ their crocs, they get about $18 a kg for the meat BUT they get $22 a cm for the skin, so, unlike cattle, the meat is a by-product – it’s the skin that makes the money. It was awesome to see how the crocodiles were able to hide in water that was knee deep. They could also jump quite high when it came to feeding time. If you see a croc, you shouldn’t climb a tree. Crocs can go for 3-12 months without food so it will sit at the bottom and wait for you. We all got to hold a baby croc. You might think they would feel hard and bony but they are actually very soft, especially the feet and underbelly. The underbelly is the best quality skin, too. The backstrap is full of bones – each bump is actually skin covered bone. When they had their ‘grand opening’ in the 1980’s, they had 3 crocs and only 5 people turned up. Now they have 4 000 crocs and people going through every day. IMG_0525 IMG_0522 IMG_0521 IMG_0520 IMG_0526 IMG_0517

Dreamtime Cultural Centre

We visited the Dreamtime Cultural Centre in Rockhampton. We heard a story about how the milky way was created. Then a lady talked to us about growing up and living in the Torres Strait Islands. These are a group of islands between Australia and Papua New Guinea where people still live a pretty much traditional life. After that, we listened to a man playing the didgeridoo. He could make it sound like a bird sometimes or someone playing the drums really slow. The sounds could be really high or really deep. It had a hum like when people play the bag pipes. Then we learned how to throw a boomerang. Grace said it was easy but I think it looked easier than it really is. Dad was pretty good at it. It takes alot of practice to get it to return properly. They have lots of different types of boomerang for different types of hunting. The heavier ones were for knocking out the animals when they were hunting. The returning ones were for knocking animals like emu over by hitting their legs. You can get left and right handed boomerangs. When you catch them, you put your hands on either side of the boomerang like you are clapping. This is so your fingers don’t get hurt.
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Emelia 😉

Coffee and Sugar

On the way back down from Airlie Beach and the Great Barrier Reef, we stopped near Proserpine to see a working coffee plantation. It grew the same type of coffee that the first plantations grew back in the 1800’s. We tasted a coffee cherry, the fruit that the beans come from. They were red in colour, very sweet and mostly bean – there wasn’t much ‘flesh’ to the fruit. The bean inside was green. they pick the cherry then dry the bean. They take the skin off then dry roast the beans to get their preferred taste. Arabica is the bean they grow. This is the type they usually use to make ground coffee. To make instant coffee, they use Robusta which gives instant coffee that more bitter taste. We also tried some coffee beans coated in both milk and dark chocolate. Mum and Dad liked the dark coated ones best. Emelia and Grace liked the chocolate on the outside but found the bean a bit bitter. It was really interesting but we forgot to take any photos. You can see some pictures if you want at http://www.whitsundaygold.com.

One thing we saw a lot of when driving through Queensland is sugar cane. Most was flowering and ready for harvest. The flowers looked a bit like skinny
toe toe flowers. Sugar cane is a grass and grows about 2m tall. Sarina, Proserpine and other towns in the area are known as sugar towns. This means they rely on the farming and processing of cane for their livelihood. We visited the Sarina Sugar Shed. This is a miniature version of a sugar mill. Here we saw the machines they used to harvest cane and smaller versions of the machines they use in the mill. The cane is harvested by machines and taken to the sugar mill on cane trains – small trains that have specially built rails to take the cane straight from the farm to the mill. Here the cane is squashed by huge rollers 4 or 5 times to get as much juice out as possible. The juice is then dried into raw sugar and sent to refinery’s to be turned into the sugar we buy in the store. The sugar from Queensland could well end up at the Chelsea Sugar Refinery in Auckland. We tasted some fresh sugar juice. It smelt like fresh cut grass and tasted like really sweet pea pod. The man showed us a can of sugar juice he got from somewhere in Asia. There, they drink it like we drink Coke. Blegh! They use all of the cane – they juice it, make ethanol from it, make molasses and use the left over cane stalks to make fertiliser(called begas) for the cane fields. It’s a pretty efficient process.

The Great Barrier Reef

We went to the Great Barrier Reef. On the way there, we saw some whales breaching in the distance. When we got there we went in a semi-sub. This is like a glass bottom boat. It gave us the chance to look at some fish without getting wet. After we had lunch we got into our wetsuits and went snorkelling. The coral down the side of the reef was more colourful than the coral up the top because when the tide goes out it exposes the coral on top but not lower. There were lots of fish and all of them were brightly coloured. My favourite ones were yellow ones that had a blue maze pattern on them. Unfortunately, there were sea anemone but no ‘Nemo’ clown fish. We did see some ‘Dory’ fish though, but I think Dory is still lost. Mum liked the brightly coloured parrot fish and Emelia also liked the parrot fish. You could hear them crunching the coral when they were eating it. There was some white sand stuff that wasn’t actually sand it was fish poo. There were some huge fish with scales that made them look like they were green velvet. Those fish were almost as big was Mum and were called Queensland Groupers. The clams we saw were huge. Surprisingly, they were very colourful. some were purple, some blue and other bright green inside. You could make them close by swimming over the top of them and making a shadow. Apparently, the colours they were depended on what type of algae was living on them. We were lucky to see a turtle too – the only one we saw close up. It was a cool day an I would love to do it again sometime. Unfortunately, the photos we got don’t really capture the vivid colours we saw on the day.
G 🙂
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Bundaberg, Bagara and the Tropics

After Hervey Bay, we headed North to Bundaberg. This is where they make rum and also, more importantly, it’s where the Bundaberg Brewing Co make Ginger Beer. We went to a museum that was in a huge barrel. It was very interesting. I found out that they don’t use cordial or soda water to make their fizzy drinks. They are all brewed with natural ingredient using yeast.
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Then we headed to the coast for a lazy weekend at Bagara Beach. We looked for the Bagara markets they’d disappeared – we found where they should have been, though. It was a hot walk. On Sunday, we had Paddle Boarding lessons. A paddle board is like a wide surf board that you stand on and paddle with an oar. It was heaps of fun. I learned how to control my board with the paddle before riding waves on my knees then managed to stand. Even Mum did it and caught some waves.

Then it was still further North to Rockhampton. Here we entered the Tropics. This is where the imaginary line called the Tropic of Capricorn crosses Australia. The area between this line and the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere is called the Tropics. Before that, we were in the Temperate Zone. NZ is in the Temperate Zone, too.
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We noticed that there was lots of rainforest here rather than the usual gum trees. The soil was also a really bright orange-red colour. Rockhampton is the beef capital of Australia and had about 8 statues of Brahmin bulls in the town. In their gardens there is a free zoo which was cool. They have the largest population of the endangered Southern Hairy Nosed wombats in captivity and are hoping to breed them.
Grace 🙂

Whales in Hervey Bay

When we left Brisbane, we headed to Hervey Bay (they say it Harvey Bay over here. Aussies talk funny!) to go whale watching. We sailed out on a catamaran. It is the start of the whale season here. The Humpback Whales are migrating. They are taking their calves to Tonga. They are travelling from Antarctica and have their calves on the way. It took a while but we finally met 2 humpbacks – 2 teenagers. They were HUGE! They were slapping their tails against the surface of the water. We followed them for most of the morning. After a yummy lunch, we went further out of the bay, to the end of Fraser Island. That’s one of the biggest sand islands in the world. It’s really long. We found 2 more whales. It was a mum and her calf. The calf was only about 4 days old and was already the size of a car. This time the calf was breaching (jumping out of the water) and making pretty big splashes. It was pretty cool to watch. The mum led it up to our boat like she was showing it off. It was pretty hard to get ‘action shots’ because they move so fast, it’s hard to predict where they will surface and the boat can’t go any closer than 100m. If the whale comes to you, it’s fine but the boats aren’t allowed to close in on them. We did our best, even though we ended up with lots of the beautiful blue sea
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On the way back to shore, Mum saw a turtle so she was pretty pleased. It was an awesome day. I’d love to go whale watching again.
Emelia 😉

Brisbane 1

Our drive to Brisbane was really long so we were well and truly ready to stop when we got to Lisa and Rob’s. On the way from Singleton, we passed the Big Banana in Coff’s Harbour, the Big Prawn in Balina and have also seen what is apparently the World’s Largest Sundial, though it wasn’t as big as the one in Whangarei’s Town Basin so not sure what they were measuring it against. They like to make extra large statues of food here. And cairns – piles of rocks that make a memorial. There’s heaps of them!(excuse the pun) We were only in Brisbane for the weekend but that was long enough for Grace too have some reptile fun. A friend of Lisa’s keeps and breeds snakes and lizards. Grace liked Indiana best – that’s the snake in the first picture. None of the snakes we held were poisonous – they were pythons and they were beautiful! The lizards were Central Bearded Dragons and we were lucky to see some very small, newly hatched babies. The pictures say it all.
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Snakes actually feel really cool. They are super smooth, soft and warm. The skin feels kind of like a fish skin but is not at all slippery. Grace thinks they’re cuddly but I’m not sure that’s the right description. It’s fascinating to watch them move. They are awesome creatures. We were really lucky to be able to get up close and personal with so many. Thanks Lisa, Carlotta and Vicky. It’s a trip highlight!
T 😉

Bats

When we were driving to Queensland, we stopped for lunch in a park in Singleton. There were fruit bats/flying foxes hanging in the trees. When a rubbish truck passed the park, it disturbed the bats and they started flying around. Mum was surprised because they were at the top of the trees, not down the bottom where it was darker and out of the sun. And there were no caves around, so they weren’t out of a cave to get some sun. And they weren’t vampires either. There were lots of signs all over the place warning you to look out for large falling… BATS!! Nah, large falling branches. The bats damage the branches and make them more likely to fall. People have been killed by falling branches.
G 🙂
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