Cape Tribulation……or not?

Posted: May, 1, 2013

imageAfter obeying the signs and not swimming in the Daintree River our trip continued north, with some local directions, towards Cape Tribulation. Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought Cape Tribulation would be the northern most point I had visited in Australia.

Directions to the river train, the only way to cross the Daintree River, were easy to follow from Daintree village. After a short wait for the ferry to make the return journey to our side and parting company with $22 for the return fare, our car was allowed on board.

imageI did offer up a quiet prayer or two that we would not be on the first ferry to sink in the Daintree River. I’m not sure what my greatest concern was, the inhabitants of the river or the fact that the car hire company may not be amused.

imageAfter the river  crossing  directions became less easy to follow. No matter how hard we tried local signs pointing to Cape Tribulation did not seem to be forth coming.

A stop for directions yielded “…take the road to the right about two miles up the road….” It appeared to escaped our informant’s mind that Australia has been using a metric system of measuring distance since the later 1960s!


No matter how hard we tried we could not find that road.

imageThe only side road we came across, which remotely resembled the given directions, was a dirt track, which we were told by the hire car company not to drive on.

After sneaking along what initially was thought to be road works for about five minutes, the decision was made to return to base. After all it was nearly a two-hour drive.

imageWe did find a beautiful beach at which we stopped to stretch our legs and tiring bodies before continuing our journey south.

Port Douglas glided by on our seaward side….a stop for another day.

Our ferry crossing was again uneventful and all were happy when the familiarity of Cairns’ outskirts began to come into view in the late afternoon.

I initially thought that my goal of reaching my northern most point (in Australia) had been unsuccessful. It was only writing this post and with the benefit of Google that I have decided that my goal had been attained. But only just. Prior to this expedition the northern most place I had ever been was Kununarra, on the shores of Lake Argyle, in Western Australia. That was April 1975 and my trip ended up at Lake Argyle because authorities still had Darwin closed to tourism after Cyclone Tracy (Christmas Eve, 1974) had made a direct hit on Darwin. That story can be left for another day.


Daintree River Cruise

DTBank4Several years ago whilst visiting Far North Queensland a cruise on the World Heritage listed Daintree River, was suggested.

The Daintree River, located about 100 kilometres north-west of DTBank2Cairns, flows through the Daintree Rainforest in the Cape Tribulation region of Queensland in northern Australia and drains approximately 2,125 square kilometres.

My preconceived idea of the Daintree River was similar to this picture. Riverbank1 A broad expanse of water with lush green rain forest foliage growing down and into the river.

A total contrast to the type of foliage to that in southern Australia, where I have lived most of my life.


What I did not plan on was the anti-swimming ‘devices’ enjoying the autumn sunshine at strategic positions along the shore.

Croc_2While reptiles are common in southern Australia I have never seen a reptile as large as these in the wild.

The Daintree River is in an isolated area and the once threatened saltwater crocodiles, now flourishing there, are beneficiaries of the legislation that protects them.


Death by crocodile is widely reported so a wise person will not venture too close to river’s edge or swim in the river.


The main thing I remember about Far North Queensland is that all its inhabitants wore a big friendly smile!


ANZAC DAY Dawn Services

imageWith a sky streaked with rose pink clouds I pulled my winter coat out of my car at 0600 prior to the Dawn Service to be held in the nearby and rapidly expanding town of Bannockburn.

The early morning start on April 25, 2013 (ANZAC DAY) had proven to be on the chilly side but far more comfortable to bear than the scorching summer we had just experienced.

imageA crowd of approximately three hundred gathered around the town’s memorial to all those who have served or fallen in the many theatres of war in which Australian men and women have served.

Ex serviceman who served in World War 2 veterans and veterans of more recent conflicts in which Australian soldiers participated were represented proudly wearing their decorations and service medals.


T-3As soon as the Bannockburn Dawn Service was completed we moved onto to the smaller community of Teesdale, about ten kilometres away, for a 0700 ANZAC Day service among a small planting of Cyprus pines which would nearly be as old as the event we were commemorating.

Once again all age groups were represented at this smaller, but no less respectful, gathering

Shel 4

Our final ANZAC DAY service was held at a smaller township of Shelford.

All age groups were represented with some of the teenagers electing to wrap themselves in beach towels. A somewhat unconventional, but no doubt effective manner of keeping warm.

Shel 2Even though Shelford is situated in a valley affording some spectacular views the sun, by now, had risen above the horizon and was playing its rays upon the the surrounding native foliages with dramatic results.

Shel 3

World War 1 – Diary extract

Below is an extract from Captain Dobson’s diary relating to Acting Bombardier Carlin’s actions whilst under fire around or on June 3rd, 1917.

Acting Bombardier Carlin’s records state that he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal on June, 3, 1917.

There is no recorded date on the diary extract below.

I can only surmise what “O.P.” and “S. 9” mean. My guess, based on context of the entry, is Out Post and a type of Artillery shell. A further entry relates to a ‘S. 9. landing in the courtyard’

Appreciate thoughts, comments or corrections on my interpretations.

One day of routine manning I left Carlin and another at the tap in with instructions that if the line went we’d mend it at our end as it always got out about 150 yards from the O.P. the Hun strafing that point every day for no reason whatever and doing no damage except to a few telephone lines.   Sure enough the Hun had his strafe and the line went.  Harper was with me and another man, probably Davis.  Of course they wanted to go out and mend it, but as the line was of no great importance at the moment told them to wait till the strafe stopped – we could see and hear shells bursting.  Next thing Harper got a buzz on the phone showing it was through and a little later old Carlin’s head appeared at the parade, beaded with sweat and much wind up.  I strafed him for coming out when he was told to stay in.  His reply was, “I saw the O.P. was getting it and thought someone might be hit.”  That did not prevent him stopping to mend the line amongst the S. 9.

I have always said that “Windy Bill Carlin” is the bravest man I have met and one of the windiest. The man who is not windy cannot be brave, but the man who does his job at all times and under all conditions and with the wind up all the time, is the man I admire.


Lest We Forget


Each year, as April 25 nears, Australian, and I suspect NewZealand, media of all varieties tend to fill their pages and radio waves reminding us about ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day.

On this day in many countries, all Australians remember those who fought and fell to preserve the freedom of our country in all wars, but particularly World Wars I and 2.  We often hear of many heroic stories of valour, of lives saved and lost, but we seldom hear of regular soldiers who have served and returned home to their ‘normal’ lives.

My grandfathers were two such men who fought in World War 1. Both my grandfathers returned from The Great War, however, my maternal grandfather (Nathan) was minus a leg and my paternal grandfather (Bill) had seen repatriation in London after he became a victim of chemical warfare – mustard gas.
When ANZAC forces landed at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, Grandfather Nat was there.  Unfortunately he was not a great writer and I do not have any of his diaries.   When World War was declared for the second time on September 3rd, 1939, he sat on the local Post Office steps and cried.  Less than a year later, at only forty-six years of age, he passed away in August 1940.  Well before I was even I was even a twinkle in my father’s eye.
Grandfather Bill, Dad’s father, at sixty-four years of age, died about a week after this photo was taken in 1952.  It would appear that Bill was happier about being the subject of the photograph than his eldest grandson.
For several years of service on the Western Front, as a gunner, Bill was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for an act of bravery under enemy fire, at Courcelette, in France.
On August 5th, 1914, Bill became part of history while serving on with gun crew which fired the first Australian (and many sources believe the first allied) shot, from Fort Nepean at the mouth of Port Philip Bay.  Within minutes of receiving news that War had been declared shots were fired across the bow of the German ship the “Phalz” as it attempted to escape from Port Phillip Bay.  After being fired upon the captain turned the vessel turned around and sailed back to the Portsea where the crew was arrested.


Both my grandfathers died at what we now would call a young age.  Was this partly due to their involvement in World War 1?  How many other families have seen family members pass on at an early age leaving a partner to fend for themselves for many more years.  Yes, I did get to know both my grandmothers!
My son is going to the Dawn Service this year.  I would love to join him but it may have to wait a year.
I would love to have known my grandfathers, but I have only the memories which have been handed down to me.  They may be gone but they are not forgotten.
Lest We Forget
More information at:
World Wars
Although I have an enlarged copy of this photograph, I did source this one from the Wikipedia website.

Lochard Gorge

Lochard Gorge is named after the ship Loch Ard which ran aground in a stormy night losing all souls aboard except for Eva Carmichael and Tom Pearce (both 18 years old) who managed to swim ashore, ending up in the gorge.  There is a small cemetery nearby where crew members and passengers whose bodies were recovered are buried.


It quite easy to descend into the gorge via a set of relatively recently constructed steps. Once down it is easy to get some idea of the difficulties facing Eva and Tom on a stormy winter’s night.
On this day with the bitumen in the road and car park melting under the blazing sun and sticking to the soles of my sneakers, two of my Canadian visitors opted to remain in the comfort of my car.


So it was that my Canadian friend, of nearly forty years descended into a cauldron of blistering heat which was devoid of any breeze and, I am sure, ten degrees hotter than the car park.


On any other day I would have happily explored the caves. However, with loose burning sand beneath my feet, the thought of climbing out of the gorge left me searching for the shade on the north side of the gorge searching for oxygen – hot or cold would do!

It is only a short drive to Port Campbell where we stopped long enough to re-hydrate and cool down a little…..okay we stopped at a pub! My Canadian friends would have called it a Bar. It was only a short stop, before heading inland for the two hour drive home after an enjoyable, but extremely hot, day.

Old Dogs


As with us all our pets are not as young as they used to be and they need their morning nap! Particularly after the weather turns a bit chilly.

Looking closer you will see that both dogs being ‘well-trained’, have put themselves to bed without being chained to their kennel.


These are/were farm dogs and have spent their entire life in those kennels along with approximately five other working sheep dogs.

Admittedly the kennels probably need replacing, however, here are two contented dogs with a variety of blankets to keep them warm.


From a photographic point of view, I took the top shot on my Nikon D90 using a 70-300 mm lens.  So as not to disturb Maggie and Ginger the photo was taken through the glass in the back door.

Upon leaving farming life dogs were our biggest concern…how would they settle in, etc.  A slice bread for fun on the first morning, in their new home, has now become a ritual. No matter how much breakfast they have beforehand, I have to give them their slice of bread before they truly believe the day has begun.

Sometimes I think they are like kids ‘conning’ me into a treat each morning!

Finally, I have seen much larger images posted on WordPress blogs, however, as a newbie to WordPress I still have not worked out how to do that. Any help would be appreciated.

Twelve Apostles

Phot opp

The scenery along the Great Ocean Road can be breath taking and there are plenty of photo opportunities along the drive.



When I first visited this area there was a rough car parking area and only natural footpaths.

In recent years a modern car park and conveniences have been built on the inland side of the Great Ocean Road adjacent to the heliport.

Visitors have a five to ten minute walk, crossing under the Great Ocean Road, to reach the Twelve Apostles. In the 40 degree Celsius heat we experienced that day the walk seemed much longer……or is it that my legs are ageing? gor-18A

Once out of the underpass it is a short, easy walk on a boardwalk to the Apostle still joined to the mainland. From this vantage point many Twelve Apostles images have been taken by visitors from all over the world.


In the photo below you can see that there was a path right out to the end of this Apostle. I dare say that due to erosion, the narrow path and increasing numbers of visitors public safety has become paramount.


And if the fences do not deter you, the maybe the signs will.


This shot is the eastern view
(looking back towards Geelong).


While this shot is the more often used postcard photograph
(the western view)


Great Ocean Road

Earlier this year I played tour guide for some Canadian friends whom I had not seen for around thirty-five years. I spent several weeks planning an itinerary which would I hoped would repay them for the hospitality they showed me when visiting Canada.

A day trip from Geelong to Port Campbell was decided upon. This drive would see us travel from east to west along the Great Ocean Road, an iconic heritage listed tourist attraction along South Western Victoria’s coastline.

The the first indication that you are about to enter the Great Ocean Road proper is the Great Ocean Road ‘gateway’ about twenty minutes drive from Geelong.


imageThe road is not straight and care must be taken while driving. Allowing a full day to travel from Geelong to Port Campbell will give you time to admire the scenery.

Commencing at the Geelong end is better for two reasons. First, in Australia we drive on the left side of the road, so driving from East to West gives everyone better views of the rugged coastal. Second reason, is that the sun is behind you all the way which makes the drive more relaxing.

The planned trip also offered me a chance to use my Nikon D90.

Tiger Walk at Dreamworld

About this time every year the pressure starts to increase as one tries to think of something that ‘Mother’ will like for Mother’s Day.  After all it is ‘Mother’ who does most of the cooking, mending, breaking up children’s arguments and so on.

Last year we had planned a 10 day trip to Queensland’s Gold Coast.  In early March, two tiger cubs were born with appropriate ‘aren’t they cute’ comments being made every time they were shown on television news services and current affairs shows.Sita

During some late night research I discovered that Dreamworld visitors could have a variety of experiences with the tigers. One of these experiences was morning walk with a tiger before the park opened. And so it was. A walk with a tiger became the Mothers Day gift and one which was looked forward to.

Our 0715 arrival was a bit earlier than the 0730 for a 0800 start as instructed.  Better early than late.  While filling in time at Tiger World we discovered the tiger cubs in their morning enclosure and were offered the chance to pat them.  Just like any family there was an extrovert and an introvert and the former made it difficult for the handler. But the ‘cute’ factor was off the chart!

After a brief induction and introduction to Sita (our Bengal tiger for the morning) we set off for an hour with one of the world’s big cats.  Sita’s unusual butterscotch colouring is the result of having a white father and an orange mother. Sita was 13 years old and weighed 150 kilograms at the time of our visit. Think of your own house cat, just on a larger scale.

Our walk took us along a small railway track during which Sita never once let her delicate paws touch the gravel between the tracks opting instead to place them on the sleepers. We discovered that over time her lady ship’s paws have become tender and to combat this, like many of the fairer sex, she has moisturiser applied to them every day.


During our sixty minute walk, although there where several handlers with us, it was clearly Sita who was in charge. She would just flop down in her favourite patches of grass and allow us to have our photograph taken with her. The only thing she would not allow was hands around her ears and head. After seeing the size of her pearly white teeth that seemed a reasonable request with which to agree.

In years gone by, Sita fostered two cubs which are now fully grown adults.  Somewhere along the way the cubs savaged Sita and they are no longer good friends.  As we were returning to the tiger world enclosure the ‘cubs’ were out on Tiger Island where all shows are performed.  The ‘cubs’ noted Sita’s presence immediately and were in the process of telling her where to go.  She replied, in no uncertain terms, which drew our attention to the fact the gentle cat we had walked with for the past hour was in fact a wild animal.

‘Mother’ loved her belated Mothers Day outing.  This was an experience which we will never forget and would recommend to any visitor to Queensland’s Gold Coast.