Sunday, January 23, 2011

Would YOU keep it?

Aside from Christmas Eve, there are two other nights in the year that I love - Hard Rubbish Eve. For those that are not familiar with the magic that is Hard Rubbish Eve let me enlighten you. Twice a year our council lets us put out a load of old junk that they then pick up for free. I'm not sure exactly why they do this, perhaps (shock horror) it's a community service.

We are very lucky that our first hard rubbish day falls early in the year. It means I have an opportunity to throw out any old things that are laying around the house after Christmas, but better than that it also allows me to fossick through other people's rubbish.

I was very lucky last year to pick up a lovely little table/stand that we did up. This year I was eagerly anticipating another similar find and I wasn't disappointed after finding this beauty.

Sorry about the photo, it was dark

Now not being one to stop at just one great find, I eagerly volunteered to go out again. Of course the whole family came along and here's what happened next.

Me: 'Oh look at that great chair, we should look at that on the way back.'
Mark: 'I'll turn around quickly before someone else takes it.'
Mark, Big Boy and I eagerly jump out of the car.
Me: 'Oh it's in great condition.'
Big Boy (loudly): 'Quick Dad, put it in the car.'
Mark: 'What do you want it for, it's just made of plastic.'
Me: 'It looks great though, don't you think?'
Big Boy (even louder): 'DAD, PUT IT IN THE CAR.'
Me: 'I don't want the cushion though.'
Mark: (lifting seat) 'It's a SHIT chair.'
Me: 'What?'
Mark: 'It's a SHIT chair, you sit on it and ...'
Me: (not wanting to appear defeated or wrong in any way) 'It's great, put it in the car.'
Mark: 'Are you serious...'
Big Boy: 'Quick, someone is coming!'
Me: Retreating back to hide in the car, lest someone actually see me taking it
Mark: 'Morag (his nickname for me) your shit chair won't fit in the car!'
Me: Laughing hard now 'Just shove it in.'
Big Boy: 'I'll hold it Dad, let me hold it.'
Mark: 'Don't touch it!'
Big Boy: 'I'll help, let me help.'
Mark: 'Get in the car! Bloody hell Morag you and your stupid shit chair.'

So I'm now the proud owner of one lovely, plastic, multi-purpose chair. I'm also feeling very happy after laughing a lot reliving the whole incident. So what do you think, would YOU keep it?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Holiday Day Thirteen- Townsville

After leaving Innisfail we headed South again toward Townsville. On the way Mark said that he would really love a coffee and literally one minute later we saw this coffee van on the side of the road.

In what can only be called a blonde moment, I read the following sign as meaning 'if you don't feed the dog, you don't get fed either.' (I thought it was a joke...) I even tried to find the dog to pat it! Then I heard Mark talking to the vendor about needing to have the dog as he has been threatened with robbery in the past. I am an I.D.I.O.T.

After my lucky escape we headed to Townsville where we were greeted by the noise of miltary planes. Townsville is home to two major military bases and there must have been an exercise on as we saw many planes roaring off and coming back. Mark's dramatic theory was that they were preparing for war with North Korea!? I think the reality would have been a lot more boring than that.

I really liked the architecture in Townsville and although I only got to snap these pics from the campervan I do hope you like them.

I don't think I could ever relax in this house


Sunday, January 16, 2011

January 2011

It will be one to remember for all the wrong reasons.

Our area didn't flood and for that we are all so very grateful. The flood has touched many people we know, though the worst impact for us so far has been the lack of food on the supermarket shelves. I tried to buy salad yesterday and came away with one lettuce and an avocado.

I've taken some pictures of our local, non-flooded area. The flooding here was minor, so you can imagine the other areas of Brisbane that have had a major flood.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I've been watching the bad weather over the last few days and enjoying discussing it with the nice people on the Weatherzone forum. They knew that the low off our coast was going to be bad news but the weather bureau didn't tell the general public enough about it. It's a very, very sad day.

I've added two YouTube clips for those who are not in the area and haven't seen what has happened.

The power of water

The Premier

Holiday Day Thirteen- Innisfail

Firstly just to answer a few questions about my post on Paronella Park. Yes the suspension bridge is still there, we didn't walk it though. Yes it actually has been used a movie set (check Wikipedia if you are interested). And yes Julie you should come here and visit us!

OK onto day 13.

After spending the night in the van area at Paronella, we had a planned a second day of exploring and letting the kids have a swim in the water. That all changed when we woke up and saw Big Boy's face looking like this:

Two days prior when we were in Port Douglas we had borrowed some insect repellent from the restaurant we were eating at. I sprayed it on Big Boy's arms, legs and neck. He promptly then rubbed his eye with his arm and I had to wash it out with water. It was red the next day and I noticed it was redder at Paronella but all in all it didn't look too bad.

Fast forward to him waking up with an eye nearly swollen shut and a rash over his face, arms and legs. Due to the swelling being on his face we were very worried about his airway so as soon as we saw him we rushed off to see a doctor. Being that it was only 6am and we didn't have a clue where local doctors were, we decided the hospital was the best option.

We arrived at the hospital (which we only located due to having a GPS) and they agreed it was odd and took him straight in. Of course I couldn't find our Medicare card nor could I explain exactly what medication Big Boy takes for his asthma (the triage nurse made me identify it on a chart in the end.) After watching him for a while they decided it was an allergic reaction (as we thought) and he could go without medicine. The whole process took about an hour so if you want quick emergency service you only have to travel to Innisfail to get it.

Sad, waiting to be seen

After the morning dramas we were all hungry so we headed into town for breakfast. Because Mark loved the hospital so much he decided to order a heart-attack on a plate to make sure he gets to see the inside of a hospital again in the future. Thankfully the rest of the day was better but I'll save that for anther post.

Chips for breakfast!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Holiday Day Twelve- Paronella Park

Before heading away on our trip we were urged by many people to visit Paronella Park. I checked out their website prior to leaving Brisbane and I was very excited about finally being able to visit.

It's hard to describe Paronella in words. It seems kind of cheap to use just a few words to describe a place that is so special and interesting. But in simple terms, Paronella is the life's work of one man, Jose Paronella. Jose (for reasons that I don't think anyone will ever truly understand) set out to create for himself a place where his dreams could come true. In his case his dreams revolved around building a castle and creating a wonderful park where people could visit, relax and explore. What is amazing about Jose is that he built everything himself, by hand. In fact, he even rendered his buildings himself, without even wearing gloves. You can't imagine what a task this would have been until you see Paronella for yourself.

Jose also prided himself on hospitality and so when we arrived, at 4pm, in the rain with poo all over the van, we were met outside by a lovely man brandishing umbrellas for us. It was such a nice surprise and we felt instantly welcome and wanted.

Singing in the rain

Paronella has camping facilities available and these are included in the price of entry. Once we had set up the van we then joined a tour group for a trip into the magical world of Paronella. The first thing that captivated out attention was this fabulous waterfall. Indeed, it seems that this waterfall was Jose's main reason for choosing this piece of land. 

At the bottom of the falls Jose built a picnic area. There are concrete tables and benches plus fencing and planter boxes. Don't forget that everything you see at the park was built by hand, by Jose!

As we explored this area the spray from the waterfall almost touched us. It felt fresh and the water looked so inviting. You are allowed to swim here and apparently if you swim under the waterfall there is a concrete chair under there that you can rest on. I was going to let the kids swim there the following day but circumstances (ie the hospital trip) prevented that.

 Family photo at the waterfall. Note Mark's crown.

After the waterfall we then moved on to view the old 'recreation' area. This building housed a cafe and an eating area and it also overlooked a tennis court. At the bottom of the building there are a series of 'changing boxes' as Jose required all his visitors to change into suitable attire before they could swim or play tennis.

Changing boxes

After marvelling at the building we then set off for 'lover's lane.' Jose built the lane by burrowing through a hill, single handedly. His vision was for the lane to include tanks of fish (like those that we now see at Underwater World) and he had even constructed a ticket box. However his construction was slightly lacking and so he never did open his Lover's Lane.

The lane is now home to microbats which we were able to see after wandering deep into the lane in the dark.

Outside the lane is another, smaller waterfall which Jose named after his daughter. Apparently the water comes from a natural spring and Jose had toyed with the idea of bottling the water and selling it. He decided against this though, thinking that no-one would ever purchase bottled water.

As the concreting was all done by hand there are footprints, fingerprints and hand-prints all around the park. Here Big Boy compares his foot with a little footprint we found near the waterfall. Almost a perfect fit.

After leaving this area our guide took us to this majestic line of trees. It was truly breathtaking and I was left imaging Jose planting them, all the while knowing he would never live to see them look like this. If you squint, you can see the large waterfall in the distance- Jose made sure everything he built or planted had a view to the waterfall.

The tour ended here however this is not the end of the Paronella experience. Your guide leaves you at these trees and you then have to make your way back up to the entry area. As the park is huge, this takes some time. Before he left, our guide handed us food for the fish and turtles and we followed the signs through the bush to locate the place he said they would be. Sure enough we were not disappointed.

While we were feeding the turtles a bush turkey snuck up behind Mark and stole his food! The picture below is an action shot of the kids chasing the cheeky bird.

After (unsuccessfully) trying to catch a turtle (Mark, not me) we then started making our way back. We passed the recreation area again and I took a shot of a monument in the foyer and a side view of the building.

We then made our way back up the grand staircase which was the first part of the park that Jose built. It is very high and leads you back up to the castle area.

Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of the castle so I've had to borrow two from Google. The first is how the castle looks today and the second is the castle in its hey-day. The castle was built as a movie theatre and ballroom and apparently the parties at Paronella were amazing to attend.

I can't say enough about how wonderful the trip to Paronella was. It really put a lot of our house worries into perspective - surely if Jose can build and landscape all of this by hand then we, with money, help, power tools and machinery, can finish our renovation. Being here also taught  me that we should never give up on our dreams and that the only thing standing in the way of achieving our vision is ourselves. Your vision may not be to build a castle but whatever it is the time is now - don't die thinking 'if only I had...'

It's raining... again

In case you've missed it, it's been raining in Brisbane for virtually the past 4 months. The first real sign we got that something was amiss with our weather was when Big Boy wore a jumper during his last week of school.

Yesterday we received yet another day of rain. Here's a news report about the downpour. I've looked at the 28 day rain forecast and there isn't a lot of joy there at all. As well as the rain causing problem locally it has been causing much greater problems further north. Much of Qld is in flood and the flooded areas are still receiving rain which is hampering the clean up efforts.

Our largest local dam (Wivenhoe) has been considered full since October and I saw recently that it was up at 128% full. This dam is considered to be our safety net in case of flooding in Brisbane so they are releasing water to save space in case the worst happens.

All in all it's wet here and a bit worrying. We are fine at our place (we live on a hill) but there is always the worry of flooded roads and the frustration of having washing that won't dry.

So in all of this what is a primary school boy to do? After anticipating a long, hot Summer of swimming and playing outside he has been left with limited options. So being the genius he so clearly is, he decided yesterday to rug up in his dad's Winter coat and jump in the pool.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Holiday Day Twelve- Back to Cairns

Due to day eleven's camera misfortunes we had to head back into Cairns on day twelve. I really wanted to get my old camera fixed but that just wasn't going to happen in Cairns so I relented and we purchased a newer model of my old camera. I was instantly happy we did as the new camera takes much better photos and has tonnes of extra features.

As Big Boy needed a haircut we then headed off to the Cairns Mall and I played with the camera while I waited.

Here is the fish-eye setting.

It even has a self portrait setting which of course I hate and would never use. Plus it has a beauty setting which instantly takes your photo and makes it better. What more could a girl want?

This one is my favourite- it allows you to take a picture and turn it into a drawing. Very cool and would be awesome to use for colouring in sheets for the kids. I even toyed with the idea of taking pictures of the house and colouring in the walls different colours.

After the hair cut we browsed the mall and had some lunch. Tiny Girl loudly proclaimed 'mummy!' when she passed this sign. Oh. My.

Finally we were on our way again. We had a chance to wave goodbye to Coconut Resort one final time and as we were driving away the kids were quite upset. I then asked Tiny Girl where she lived and she said 'Cairns.'

And then we were off, heading South towards the best experience of our whole trip- Paronella Park.

(I had to include this photo, not for its quality but as a reminder of what happened on the way to Paronella. A cattle truck must have lost a large load of poo on the road and we drove right through it. It was raining and the rain and poo mix was very wet. It sprayed up the motorhome (sorry Maree) and stunk. The kids were sleeping but when we arrived at Paronella Big Boy demanded to know what smelled like poo. Well son that would be ... poo!)
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