Farewell Lady Elliot

Last day.

Our fifth & last day has arrived and we are keeping our fingers crossed for some fine weather.

It started out cloudy and a little drizzly so after breakfast we braved the conditions and did a reef walk with Jacinta.

She’s a marine biologist and has lived here for 3 years. She was able to fill us in on all we could spot on the calf high water of the lagoon.

We handled a sea cucumber – lovely and slimy and not as prickly as they look.

We headed over the runway to the light house and made our way along the beach to enter at the coral garden. The wind has changed and it’s a little windy at the lighthouse ended today.

I’m writing this sitting in a white moulded deck chair. I had the loveliest snorkel in the coral garden. Aptly named it’s a real garden of blue tipped coral with so many beautiful fish.

We haven’t spotted a manta ray except through the glass bottom boat. But not while snorkelling. The fish life more than made up for it.

The sky is blue and the sun is out. Perfect for our last day.

We stay at coral gardens until at least 2.30. We skip lunch each day having had a great breakfast but today I’m feeling hungry. We eat some cheese then still dresses in my wetsuit Steve & I head to the lagoon out the front of our cabin.

It’s been very windy there all week but Jacinta, our guide this morning, convinced us it would be worth snorkeling at high tide.

In we went. It was windy but underwater was another world. It’s just deep enough to kick along so you are very close to the reef.

We spotted and swam with three big turtles and a black tipped shark. Lots of colourful fish. An octopus…….

Such a great way to finish.

Dinner tonight: salmon, potato bake, salad and fresh vegetables!

Another night of 500.

I’m hooked!

Farewell Lady Elliot. I think we’ll be back

Welcome to Lady Elliot Island – LEI

Flying north over the Pacific Ocean the blue of the water was exhilarating.

We flew along side of Fraser island – that waste sand island. Coming to Lady Elliot we could take it all in in one glimpse. A spec in the ocean surrounded by lagoons of coral filled with colourful fish and manta rays – even able to be seen by air.

We landed on the grassy airstrip which divides the island. The resort is one side and the large lagoon the other.

We were greeted not with an island style flower lei but with a big grin and a ‘welcome all’ by Mary a staff member.

She gave us a quick orientation talk / tour then allowed us to check in , to go to the dive shop and be kitted out with fins, snorkel-even a wet suit if needed.

I was pleased I’d brought my $10 Aldi wetsuit bought two years ago and never worn. It’s quite windy on the island and with temperatures dropping to 23 it could be cool getting in and out of the water.

There is only one resort here and people come for the snorkeling, diving , birdwatching, and reef walking. It’s not a glamour resort. No resort wear needed.

People are wearing shorts or jeans, and the ‘hoodie’ a fleece lined jumper. It’s not freezing just a little cool. Tomorrow should be warmer.

We settled into our rooms which though small are well suited for a relaxed 5 nights. There is a good sized verandah, somewhere to hang wet gear , comfortable chairs for reading and a beautiful view towards the lagoon just beyond our cabin.

At 2 o’clock we headed across to the lighthouse lagoon crossing the grassy airfield.

We wore our reef shoes into the water carrying our fins and snorkels. About 50 metres out there is a tall pole with a basket to store your reef shoes as you don the fins and swim out.

We were able to immediately enter the coral garden and start watching the colourful fish darting every which way along the ocean floor. Magical.

We swam along the roped off area where every 100 metre there’s a little platform you could stop and hold on and chat with your companions.

We’re traveling with Ralph and Frances, friends who love swimming and had come to our past trip to Vanuatu ( check out that blog post if you haven’t read it already)

We swam around for an hour or so and though the water temperature was nice I was happy to be wearing my wetsuit as the wind was cool as we left the water.

It’s hard going walking out. Lots of rocks and uneven surfaces makes you feel very clumsy!!!

Back to our cabin for a warm shower and afternoon cuppa before heading over the island for our sunset drinks.

What a sunset. Absolutely gorgeous.

You’ll find is here each evening!!

Dinner in the dining room is a simple but satisfying meal. Carrot soup followed by lamb shanks, beef ribs , fresh vegetables, polenta and a lentil dish. All very tasty. With a nice glass of red we were ready for bed by 8.30.

We’re on island time already!

Lady Elliot Island, here we come.

We’re off overseas today.

Yes you read that correctly. Australians going Overseas.

To an island 40 minutes off the Australian coast.

Yesterday we drove to beautiful little Hervey Bay about 3.5 hrs from Brisbane. It’s a jumping off point for a light plane to Lady Elliot an eco style island in the southern most area of the Great Barrier Reef.

http://www.ladyelliot.com.au

We stayed at the Tower Court Motel.

This morning we walked along the Esplanade and found a great little cafe for breakfast. ‘Eat’owned by Dan & Steff of MKR fame.

Fabulous breakfast

We’re now at the Hervey Bay airport. Check-in is simple – 15 kg of bag, which is as much as I take on an overseas holiday. But I do have my wetsuit ready for the beautiful snorkeling I’ll be doing.

Lady Elliot Island-LEI, is renowned for its pristine waters. It’s manta rays, fish, turtles – an under water paradise.

The resort is an eco style -with emphasis on the environment. It’s comfortable but not a resort where you dress for evening cocktails. It’s for observing the environment, enjoying the sunsets and the ocean.

Let the holiday begin.

Our little light plane for the 40 min trip

Holiday Close to Home

The beauty of Queensland is there are so many great places to visit close to home.

It’s school holidays so eldest son Peter is home and invited us to have a day out on his boat. He keeps it at home and trailers it to boat ramps for a days outing.

Today we headed south towards Dreamland. Just behind there is a boat ramp and today, a Wednesday, it wasn’t busy.

In no time the boat was in the water and we were away.

We were heading towards South Stradbroke Island. I’ve written an earlier blog on North Stradbroke- go back and read it.

Today South Straddie. We headed into the wind so it was a little breezy !

Ollie didn’t like it much! He pulled his hat down and listened as I sang in his ear.

Happy but hiding from the breeze

We passed the lovely Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove. We’d stayed there a few times when the boys were young. It’s a lovely resort.

https://www.intercontinentalsanctuarycove.com

We headed past the resort Couran Cove. This resort has rooms, little apartments and house. All available for rent.

https://www.courancove.com.au

And arrived at Tipplers. The weather was perfect.

There’s a beach where you can pull up and jump out onto the sand. The minute you arrive it feels like a holiday.

There is a restaurant with indoor and outdoor tables. all very casual resort style.

We made ourselves comfortable in the shade, waiting for our lunch to be delivered and were entertained by a watching a large lizard roaming around.

Ollie watched from the safety of Didi’s arms.

Our lovely lunch came – nice salads, sandwiches and fish & chips. Ollie liked his kids serve contained in a pirate ship!

Good to look at!

After lunch along came a wallaby! So much entertainment.

Standing up for a better view!

Following the wallaby show we played in the sand and the shallows until time to go.

El and I walked along the path to find the camping ground. It’s really lovely. There’s a few tent structures for hire if you don’t want to bring your own. lots of bbqs , picnic table and access to the beach. We decided we’d like to come here to stay.

Back on board the breeze had dropped and we cruised back via Couran Cove. There are some great looking houses. Again we decided it would be good to rent a house when we want a family getaway.

We cruised around the canals of the Coomera area. Then back to the boat ramp.

Ollie was having a great time and loved running up and down the ramp! With me in hot pursuit.

He wore himself out and slept on the way home.

Why not consider a Queensland holiday? Right in our own backyard we have a wealth of great beaches, rivers parks. Plan a visit soon. You’ll love it.

Thank you Adelaide.

Adelaide really turned it on for us.

This year has been so hard with covid. Restrictions, closed borders, no live shows, restaurants and businesses closed.

Living in Queensland has been better than most states. We’ve had very few local covid infections. We’ve been lucky.

Now we are able to move around between states and things are opening up.

These past 12 days in Adelaide have been a return to live music, concerts. A Festival – probably the first in the world to go ahead.

Today Tuesday was our last day. I had one last long walk. Beautiful homes and gardens.

A favourite is in Avenue St. The house is beautiful. Not overly big or grand but just lovely. Pale sandstone, bricks, little Juliette style verandah, a sunken pond, a gazebo and best of all – a fairy garden.

Then, a new coffee shop. There are lots of great little coffee shops nearby. But today we visited a beautiful one in Norwood. Along with a bookshop.

I had to visit what is probably the best – certainly the biggest bookshop in Adelaide. Dillons Bookshop in Norwood is amazing. Don’t miss it. Norwood is a great area for shopping. The Parade is the High St shopping area with lots of great shops and beautiful buildings.

In the afternoon we head up to the Adelaide Hills to visit niece Vashti, Jeremy and their four children. They have a small farm with chickens, alpacas, dogs and a dam. The children had gone blackberry gathering so we had them along with champagne and little sausage rolls Marg made. They are really nut, oat, feta rolls and so delicious.

We sat around the fire pit – but the weather was so nice. No fire needed.

Our last night we went to our last Fringe show. But before it we had dinner at a very popular Afghan restaurant called Pawana. You may have heard about it. Run by a couple who migrated here in 1987. Please click on the link and read about the family and the restaurant.

https://www.parwana.com.au

Read the story. They welcome you to the restaurant like into their home.

The owners of the restaurant receiving an award from the Afghani Ambassador.

We had a beautiful meal – delicious dumplings and an eggplant dish so delicious I could eat it every night.

The cook book from the restaurant

Following dinner we moved onto the Grace Emily Hotel. It has seen better days, is a little moth eaten but is a small hotel full of charm.

An eccentric little nativity scene! I think! Look closely.

We saw The Ukulele Death Squad. Mmmm some very strange named Fringe shows. We thought it would be more of a ukulele band but it was two ukuleles and three other singers. They sang Nick Cave songs. Quite well actually and we enjoyed it.

So my ten days in Adelaide is over. It’s been great.

I recommend a visit to the Adelaide Festival. Writers Week. The Fringe, Womad. Take it all in.

I know I’ll be back.

The Adelaide Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music

The day started with a long walk up and down the streets of Fullerton and Unley.

I choose a different route each day. The walking is tree lined and flat. Ideal.

Today I looked at the furniture people place on their verandahs. I love the variety.

Four types of seating.

There is also a walking trail you can follow.

Great for exploring

An old barn and community garden.

Little bits of history everywhere
A street library. Very popular in this area.

The old and the new.

Which do you prefer?

I stop at a different coffee shop on Duthy St. This time I did see Lycra! Two men arrived on their bikes and sat near me as I perched on a stool in the sun. They apologised for ruining my view!

I returned to our house and we had lunch with the family.

Then off we set for the Adelaide Hills. Ukaria Cultural Centre is perched in the hills near Mt Barker. It is a purpose built 220 seat theatre for chamber music. It hosts concerts and recitals all year. It has the most beautiful setting.

You arrive looking up to the Centre through beautiful gardens.

In 1985, Ulrike Klein AO co-founded the internationally acclaimed skincare label, Jurlique. The state-of-the-art and environmentally sustainable UKARIA Cultural Centre, which opened on 29 August 2015, was funded by the Klein Family and built on what was once the Jurlique Farm, where many of the herbs, flowers and plants were grown for natural skin care products.

Today we were here for a 4.15 composers talk and concert at 5pm. There have been concerts all weekend as part of the Adelaide festival.

We listened to Elena Kats-Chenin, a Russian born Australian composer. Her music is beautiful. Modern but still tuneful!

She is a colourful lady in style as well as music.

She autographs with a few bars of music.

Inside the auditorium it was quite light when the concert started and we sat looking out at the beautiful hills and gardens.

By the concert end the light had changed and light rain had started. Very beautiful.
The art through the centre reflects its aboriginal heritage.

Another lovely cultural day.

Port of Adelaide & then, Lizzy from Brissie!

A change of pace today. Marg had given Steve tickets for a visit to the Adelaide – an 1864 clipper ship. It’s down at Port Melbourne about a half hour drive from the city.

It’s still undergoing renovation but is open for tours. Only problem …..today it was closed. So, we shall return to visit – another time.

Instead we walked through the historic port area. There are some lovely old buildings. Sadly many shops are closed – probably a result of covid last year. Hopefully, things will get back to normal soon.

The lighthouse. Originally at the entrance to Port river built in 1869

Next , a visit to the railway museum. A great museum with many examples of the early trains. Also a bonus! A little train to tour the whole museum site.

A model railway with amazing scenes

Then a visit to nearby Semaphore where we saw not a lighthouse, but a semaphore signal house.

A beautiful little seaside place ideal for a fish & chip lunch out of paper by the seaside.

We headed back to Margs house via Bunnings! What’s a Saturday without a trip to Bunnings.

Around 7 we set out in an Uber for the Fringe. Half of Adelaide was there.

We arrived at The Garden of Earthly Delights! part of the Fringe. It’s a parklands type venue with lots of colour , movement, action & people.

Covid. We have you covered. It’s a covid safe venue with phone app check ins, hand sanitizer, social distancing! But loads of people and fun.

A bit like the Ekka, or the Royal Easter Show. There are food stalls, drinks, play areas and tents for entertainment.

We checked in at Babylon. We’re here for Chicksal 500. Four women comedians. Denise Scott, Cal Wilson, Geraldine Hickey and Lizzy Hoo.

There are so many comedy shows in the Fringe. Hard to know what to choose. I heard about this show from Barbara, a friend who follows this blog . Hi Barbara!!!!

She told me her lovely daughter Lizzy was now a comedian. I remember Lizzy from the days when my son Peter played rugby with her brother Damian at school. It’s been a lot of years!

Cal, Denise, Lizzy & Geraldine

But what a great show. All four were terrific and we all thought Lizzy was great. She talks about her mum and dad Chan with such funny warmth. She’s sharp, witty, delivers in a conversational way, and giggles! Well done Lizzy Hoo.

Each of the comedians told stories – usually about themselves & their family and had the audience rocking with laughter.

We walked back out through all the people enjoying what Adelaide has to offer. What a festival .

Adelaide you charmer.

Today I spent an hour walking around the area.

Lots of beautiful houses and a lovely coffee shop on Duthy St. No lyrca in this cafe. It’s favoured by locals mostly walking there meeting friends. Not a bike in sight.

We spent the rest of the day at home playing with 3year old Florence – Florry and waiting for the other children to return from school.

Marg had invited very old friends to afternoon tea. And to enjoy the remainder of Florry’s birthday.

There was home made pinata to crack open.

Gideon has a go
But Florry hits the jackpot!

Later that evening we left all the children with Marg and headed off with Vashti for another Festival treat.

We parked opposite the Festival centre and walked across the pedestrian bridge. I live this city. So easy to get around.

7.30 and beautiful light

We had a bite to eat & drink at the Taphouse brewery on the river and went to the newly erected Summerhouse. Built for the festival it’s open on the top and has just curtains for walls. It’s like being at an outdoor venue with wooden bench seats.

Tonight we are seeing the legendary jazz musicians Paul Grabowsky on piano and Vince Jones, singer and fluegelhorn player.

A great mellow sound.

I loved the laid back restrained performance.

Our Town

Starting at 9.30 it was another late night. Thank goodness we don’t have to hurry in the morning!

Last day of the Writers Festival. But there’s more….

I have thoroughly enjoyed my week at the Writer’s Festival. The line up, the talks, the books and the magnificent setting.

So low key – set under the trees in Pioneer Women’s Memorial Gardens. How lucky I’ve been.

In these days if covid there have been so few activities to go to. I think we’re a bit over being inside, being on zoom, seeing things on line.

Now is the time to attend things. Get out and support the arts. In covid safe ways……. we can attend. And I’m making the most of it.

Vashti, Marg Steve and three year old Florence went to a session on our relationship with China.

Former Australian Ambassador to China Geoff Raby explores China’s newly assertive place in the world and the implications for Australia in his new book, China’s Grand Strategy and Australia’s Future in the New Global Order. He is joined by Chongyi Feng ( an academic in China studies) to discuss what – if anything – can be done to repair this critical geopolitical and economic relationship.

A very interesting discussion. They agreed on some points. They disagreed on others. Our relationship with China has deteriorated and we have to somehow restore it.

We made our way up to Rundle Mall making a stop at Haigh Chocolate shop. An institution in Adelaide Steve popped in for a purchase and we admired the Easter window.

Further along the Mall , past the buskers we went up to the Fringe installation- The Plastic Shop. Celebrating the last of the single use plastic bags

All kinds of buskers

The Plastic Shop is set up like a mini supermarket and everything is made out of plastic!

All covid safe we entered and three year old Florence was intrigued!

Read some of captions on the plastic magazines.

A walk down the hill past Adelaide University, a stop at a Vietnamese bakery and home in time for the other children to arrive from school.

Then it was out for an early dinner at a little Italian restaurant before a big band concert.

We drove through Norwood a lovely suburb with wide streets, lots of roundabouts, beautiful big houses and a great street sculpture.

By day and by night.
A story lights up in the sculpture.

The Norwood Hotel is a beautiful old pub and has a room where lots of Fringe activities take place.

The K&N brass band originally formed in 1898. They have played at Australian band championships and won medals. So they are good!

They played the music from ‘Brassed Off ‘the movie. A narrator gave an outline of the story before each piece.

What a great night!

On the way home we stopped at the street sculpture to read the story – about an Italian woman who lived in the Norwood area during WW2 and about her family growing up there.

Notice the story in coloured writing.

Back home we decided to finish off the night by re watching the Brassed Off movie!

Wednesday Day 5 at the Adelaide Festival.

I walked a different way to the bus stop today. That’s what I love about visiting a new city. Discovering.

I walked the leafy streets of Highgate towards Unley. The houses are a style so different to the timber houses of Brisbane. They are stone, solid, traditional.

The gardens are lovely though dry. The grass out front only green when lovingly tended & watered. Front fences are a mixture of brush, picket and stone. Except for my sister in law who has created a very Australian style using corrugated iron.

I walked along Unley past Waldorf College where my niece Vashti teaches instrumental work.

This is the city of churches and in a few blocks I passed several.

Some beautiful Memorial gates.

I arrived at the Writers Festival marvelling at the glorious weather. I sat under the trees listening to Sigrid Nynez.

She wrote What are You Going Through ? A book about a woman who helps her friend prepare for death after a cancer diagnosis. Not an easy topic but obviously written with feeling.

Next up was Australian Steven Conte. Author of The Zookeepers Wife – which was also made into a movie but today he spoke about The Tolstoy Estate his book set in 1941 in Russia.

I caught the bus home and got ready for a 6pm start of the Opera Midsummers Nights Dream. Shakespeare set to music by Benjamin Britten.

Directed by Neil Armfield a wonderful Australian director we knew this would be different.

The costumes were wonderful as was the staging. I thought the first two acts were way too long ! The individual singers were great but the music by Britten was not tuneful enough for me.

The theatre was great. Big foyer and everyone had to wear masks from the moment you set foot inside.

This included during the performance. You could only remove it to sip a drink.

So another great day in beautiful Adelaide.