A few weeks ago, at the beginning of December, I wasn’t expecting to spend the end of 2017 in Brisbane. In my mind, I was attending a WHO meeting in Lyon, returning to work for fours days, and then spending a week in Canberra between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day enjoying some warmth and a little humidity.
That was until a close relative needed to have a colonoscopy which revealed a significant malignant tumour requiring immediate surgery. Then there were complications of the surgery which meant a long spell in intensive care which will need to be followed by time in rehabilitation.
I’m now in Brisbane helping to care for relatives.
The bright side
As is my want, I will try to spend part of my conscious living focussing on the positive aspects of this situation. I will be spending time with family. I will an opportunity to spend some time with my daughters. I will be in my hometown (Brisbane). It will be warm and not hot like Canberra. It will be humid and not dry like Canberra.
I think I’ve written this before and my closest friends know this too, I love warm weather, I don’t like hot weather. Anywhere between 28 and 32 °C is fine by me. In Summer, up to 34 °C is tolerable. Anything >34 °C is not what I regard as pleasant. Certainly, Tuesday’s 39 °C in Canberra would have been horrible.
In addition, through social media and messaging apps, I can continue to stay in contact with IRL and online friends who I rely on to keep me in good spirits. You know who you are JM, FC, SGM, BCM… 😃👍😁
One of the nice things about modern work as a public servant is the capability to work remotely. So long as I have a 4G connection, I can check e-mail and if I go to a shopping mall, I can use the free Wi-Fi to get deeper into the work IT system so I can access files and other areas of the network.
Airport coffee, waiting for my flight to Brisbane
Would you believe my weight didn’t go up while I was away in Lyon? I ate croissants for breakfast, morning tea, afternoon tea and occasionally dinner. I also ate cream and custard-filled pastries. It must be something in the water because I saw less than a handful of overweight people in Lyon. Everyone looked lean and healthful (apart from those smoking cigarettes).
I won’t be able to measure my mass while I’m in Brisbane but I hope to return to a low carb life. I will have to prepare meals suitable for others including a diabetic and heart disease safe meals. In many ways, a low carb life works well for people with diabetes mellitus.
Please note, again I should point out a disclaimer, I do not provide medical advice in my blogs, even in the Medical Fun Facts Podcast, I will never form a doctor-patient relationship with a reader.
Getting back to a low carb life and diabetes mellitus though; diabetes mellitus is a small constellation of diseases associated with poor control of glucose. The islet cells of the pancreas produce insulin which is a hormone which helps regulate blood sugar. An insufficient amount of insulin causes an increase in blood sugar. This can create manifold problems acutely as well as chronic problems associated with pathological changes to blood vessels and nerves (blindness, heart disease, impotence, lower limb infections, amputations, kidney disease, kidney failure to name but a few problems). Because of the lack of insulin, people with diabetes mellitus should eschew foods with a lot of simple carbs and especially sucrose (sugar). This means bread, pasta and rice. Sugar and sweeteners like honey or maple syrup, albeit ‘natural’ should not be added to food. A diet rich in non-starchy vegetables and some fruit is good. Meat in moderation is also good along with some cheese. Proteins in small amounts help to sate appetite and ensure that overall carb intake is minimised. Fibre is also important for bowel health. As a first degree relative of someone with a bowel malignancy, I’m now even more conscious of bowel health and maintaining a good fibre content and a reduced red meat intake. If you follow my food socials, you’ll see more salmon and chicken and probably duck.
A low carb life can assist with a more stable and better control of blood sugar. If you’re reading this and wondering about the potential benefits or threats to your health, please see your own general practitioner (or what some people call a family physician). Again, I stress, see a proper doctor, not someone into supplements complementary and alternative medicine (SCAM) services. This includes people who claim to be integrative practitioners who try to combine modern conventional evidence-based science-based medicine with practices not steeped in the scientific method. Always remember good + bad ≠ good. Your GP may not be a nutritionist but your GP is a specialist in your life and can work with you and other professionals to optimise your nutrition.
Black and white meeting rooms at the bank
Train Tragedy in the USA
What a tragedy. I paused as I read accounts on Facebook from friends in the USA. It made me think about the amazing train ride I had between Lyon and Paris last week. I finished that ride feeling very positive about very fast trains.
This coming Monday is Christmas Day. With Boxing Day a public holiday too, we have a four-day long weekend. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing. I’ll be spending some time at the hospital visiting and then I hope to cook a chook for lunch. Hopefully, I’ll also be able to buy some prawns too. It’s not going to be an elaborate Christmas this year.
The food situation
I’ve been cooking for a family member and also taking some time out with other family members. When times are difficult, food is a good way to get some happiness.
Scrambled eggs made with eggs and butter
Herb and seed crusted salmon with stir-fried kale and cabbage with horseradish cream
Mangoes in Brisbane are cheaper than mangoes in Canberra
Crumbed fish from the hospital tuck shop
Chicken wings ready for the oven
is worth having in the cupboard. Iodine is critical to the development of the brains of unborn babies and infants.
The Wesley Hospital tuck shop chicken thighs and vegetables
Saturday night dinner to celebrate a little good news
Click on a photograph and scroll through the gallery. This was a Pork and Moreton Bay Bug (Thenus orientalis) spicy chilli kale and cabbage salad with horseradish cream. Here is the post on Yummy Lummy describing how to make it.
Kinn + Derm Chermside
We went for dinner here on Friday night. Read my Google review. We enjoyed chicken Pad Thai, crispy skinned chicken, crunch pork belly, soft shelled crab and a spicy green paw paw salad. Click on a photo to see a larger version and scroll through the gallery.
For dessert, I had a salted Queensland nut gelato
The Medical Fun Facts Podcast Christmas special
A Christmas special is dropping on Monday night at 7 pm Canberra time. Please check it out at https://medfunfacts.com
Bad news after good news plus some okay news Diary
00:00 / 5:34
Last week, I mentioned some good news, sadly this week, I have some bad news.
I had been planning to have a busy and fulfilling week as I prepare for a meeting away from Canberra next week. Unfortunately, on Wednesday I received some bad news about a close family member and a serious diagnosis. To protect my relative’s privacy I won’t go into detail. The news hit me like a hammer to my head.
I pretty much lost all enthusiasm for shooting any photographs (or anything else for that matter) so I don’t have much to share. I’m in a melancholy place.
Well sort of. There have been some changes at work and I have to move workspaces from my current area to an area I used to occupy. I’m pretty happy with this move.
I’ll be on a lower level which makes walking up the stairs from the basement to the floor I work on more realistic every day. There are also fewer men on the floor, so the toilet experience will be substantially better. I also get a better view out the window. Not only that but I’ll be closer to colleagues working on projects and programs I’m especially interested in. It’s kind of exciting to think I’m coming home.
I won’t be able to move in completely until the new year.
I’m also heading ‘home’ in the sense to Brisbane for a couple of weeks to assist with my ill relative. It’s funny, Brisbane is my hometown but when I think of home I still think of Darwin.
Packing for a trip
So I’m headed somewhere cold and because I have a few tight connections, I really don’t want to use a bag I have to check in. I want to go with just two carry-on bags. I also need my MacBook plus all the paraphernalia associated with working and travelling. My biggest concern is having enough warm clothes in a small bag which I will need to walk with and catch trains. Fortunately, I won’t be gone for long.
People who know me also know I have Ichthyosis vulgaris and so I have significant moisturiser needs. This means carrying bottles and I’m concerned that one bottle is 150 mL rather than 100 mL. I don’t want to be pinged at security.
I bet you’re wondering, “where the hell is Gary going?” All will be revealed in the next post.
I checked the weather and when I arrive it will be –1 °C (30.2 °F). I think I’ll be carrying my Driza-Bone oilskin coat. I mustn’t forget gloves and a beanie. If this wasn’t work-related travel I reckon I’d go with something lighter and warm, but the Driza-Bone looks good and can be worn to a meeting.
Highlights of the week
I received some socks from MailChimp. MailChimp is an automation platform and the tool I use to send e-mails to subscribers.
Weight loss update
Steady going, no real loss but no gains. I worry about the next few weeks with travel and the festive season coming up.
I think 2018 will see a renewed effort. I still want to get to 77 kg (170 lb) and remain about that weight. I’m currently hovering around 81 kg (178 lb) after starting the weight loss process at 87 kg (191 lb).
Medical Fun Facts Podcast this week
Over the last couple of weekends, I’ve recorded four shows. Yesterday I finished and uploaded the Christmas Day show. This means I won’t have to worry about recording anything until 2018 begins. I’m getting close to the end of the alphabet and while I’m away I need to plan and prepare for how I want to take the Medical Fun Facts Podcast into 2018.
This week’s show drops Monday at 7 pm Canberra time. The topic is the Uvea. While you wait for that show to drop, check out last week’s show on tetanus.
A photograph of my boss, the Australian Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy on the cover of a journal. I’m on the editorial board for Microbiology Australia. In this issue, Brendan and another colleague write about immunisation (vaccination) policy in Australia.
This is my holiday journal. I should give you some notice this is a long post with lots of sections, photographs, videos and maps. If you find these stories boring feel free to give it a miss but I’ve broken it up with headings in case something might catch your eye. If you read a place name or name of a restaurant or service and it is an obvious link, I’ve tried to link to Google maps so you can see where the place is and read some reviews. Some of the reviews I’ve written myself.
I apologise for one of the quirks of this post. If you look through a gallery, when you escape out, you get taken to the top of the post which means you need to scroll back to where to were reading. I’m sorry about that.
If you enjoy a good travel yarn, make a hot beverage or pour a cold one, sit down and I hope you enjoy this behind your desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
If you want to check out my social media activity while on holiday look for the hashtag #warmandmoist on Facebook and Instagram
Dr50 who was then Dr49 had planned a birthday lunch in Montville for 02 July and asked if I would attend. This date coincided with the beginning of the last week of the school holidays in Queensland. A seed of a thought germinated. Maybe I could use this as a time for a break and enjoy a short holiday with my daughters.
Cairns Holiday Specialists
After a few phone calls and e-mails, we had drafted a plan. Ms 22 wouldn’t be available but Ms 20 and Miss 16 would be.
We agreed on a week in Cairns with snorkelling and other fun activities. I made bookings for accommodation, the Sunlover Reef cruise and the Kuranda day adventure through Cairns Holiday Specialists. The contact people were really very helpful, even when I made a couple of mistakes with the on-line booking process. An e-mail or two fixed everything.
Dr 49 soon to be Dr 50 called and said the party was off because his daughter (my niece) had a hockey tournament. I explained I’d still fly from Canberra to Brisbane and then go on to Cairns for a holiday.
With a week away, I had no need to do a lot of grocery shopping. So I went and had a coffee at Everbean Espresso Barand bought some snacks.
Walk around Lake Ginninderra
When I woke up it was –7 °C as even at 9.45 there was still frost on the ground.
As I came around John Knight Memorial Park I noticed the water fountain was spraying water with no one near it. As I got closer the flow increased. I shot a photograph and was pretty pleased to see a starburst with one of the water drops. Not bad at f/8 and 1/250 seconds.
I recorded two podcasts and YouTube videos for Medical Fun Facts. Episode 73 is on using amoxicillin for treating sore throats and Episode 74 is a part I on whooping cough (the 74th show drops on Monday 10 July). Please check out the blog which gives you all the details to subscribe to the podcast and/or the YouTube channel. The blog can be found at http://drgarylum.com/blog
Saturday unhealthy lunch
I ate three small jam doughnuts and a bag of chips
I was in bed, listening to a podcast and at 10 pm received a call from Qantas asking if I’d be willing to defer my Sunday flight to the afternoon. Qantas had oversold the flight by one and the company needed to offload a passenger. I assumed it was because a heap of Canberra people would be heading to Brisbane to watch the Welterweight world title fight at Lang Park. As much as I like watching amateur boxing, I had no desire to watch the boy from Brisbane duke it out with the senator from the Philippines. I really needed to be in Brisbane on time because I had plans, plans to take a drive with my daughters and enjoy some time together. I declined the offer from Qantas to defer to a later flight.
I woke up 4.30 feeling excited about being on holiday and knowing I’d see my three daughters later in the morning. I always feel so happy to see them. I love them more than anything else.
I had booked a taxicab to pick me up at 6.15 so I got about making sure the flat was ready for a week of absence, you know, turn off the water to the toilet and washing machine. Pulling out all the electrical cords and cables. Disconnecting the ADSL modem and wi-fi router. The one thing I forgot was to empty the humidifier cartridge in my CPAP machine and clean the nasal prongs. The calcium in Canberra water is something fierce so there will be build up in the humidifier. I will have to soak the silicone nose prongs when I return to clean off all the snot bacteria!
The taxicab arrived at 6.15 and after I loaded my bags into the boot (trunk for American readers) the driver shut the boot lid on my right index finger. It was –8 °C outside, it hurt like a mofo. The skin was broken and finger started to swell immediately. I could move it so I was confident it wasn’t broken but gee I was suddenly in a dark mood. I took some deep breaths and focussed on seeing my daughters and a week away from the freezing Canberra mornings.
I arrived at the Canberra International Airport nice and early to guarantee a seat. I didn’t want to miss out in case a volunteer couldn’t be found overnight.
Business class would you believe?
Would you believe, when I checked in my bag, I was pleasantly surprised with a free upgrade to Business Class? Thank you, Qantas. Business Class meant a good breakfast of poached eggs with soft yolk, pork sausages (snags) and wilted spinach. Also on the tray was some sweetened Greek yoghurt and a Danish with coffee. I was pleasantly surprised that Qantas was able to keep the yolks runny in the poached eggs. Often poached eggs on flights have solid yolks which aren’t as nice the eggs with a nice runny gooey yolk.
It was a good flight but very full with boxing fans and North Queensland Cowboys. The Cowboys had defeated the Canberra Raiders the night before on a really cold evening which should have been an advantage to the cold hardened Canberra Raiders compared with the North Queensland Cowboys who live and train in the tropics where the morning minimum rarely dips below 20 °C. It just shows what a class act the North Queensland Cowboys are. Superior athletes full of football spirit.
The flight landed 5 minutes early which buoyed my spirits thinking I’d have more time with my daughters, unfortunately, I waited 25 minutes for my bag at the carousel. It was weird, normally the bags are already being offloaded by the time I get to the carousel. Maybe there weren’t enough ground staff and baggage handlers to get the bags in. I don’t know. I’m grateful my bag finally arrived.
Why is Brisbane traffic on a Sunday morning so thick? I wasn’t expecting it and it delayed my picking up my daughters so instead of driving to Noosa we elected to drive to Caloundra for lunch and a lazy afternoon.
Apple car play
It was so good to see my daughters. It was fantastic driving up the coast, chatting, laughing and having fun. It was a comfortable drive in the little Hyundai from Hertz with Apple car play. This was my first time using Apple car play. It worked like a charm. Siri answered all my questions and Apple maps was very helpful.
On the drive up, Ms20 had an Entertainment book of vouchers and she found a few places which looked good for lunch. After finding a park we decided on “Beau’s” on King’s Beach.
My lunch at “Beau’s” was a pulled pork burrito with hints of Thai flavours. It was pretty nice. I’d have it again. The menu was pretty appetising, so if you find yourselves in Caloundra, give “Beau’s” a try.
After lunch, we had a nice long walk along King’s Beach and through the middle of Caloundra. It was a lovely afternoon with a cool but not cold sea breeze. I’ve become acclimatised to Canberra so much so that I was able to walk around in a T-shirt and shorts. Towards the end of the walk, we stopped and enjoyed a Gelato before heading back to Brisbane.
The highway traffic was bumper to bumper which wasn’t too bad because it gave my daughters all a chance to have a nap while I drove.
Caught up with Mum and Dad
Late in the afternoon we visited Mum and Dad and took them out to dinner. We went to the new Westfield Chermside food plaza and had dinner at “Pho Vietnamese Kitchen”.
Mum wanted noodles but the two dishes she wanted were sold out. Third time lucky she got fish balls and noodles. Things didn’t fair well for Dad who wanted an apple juice but they were sold out. In addition, Dad’s order got mixed up and he ended up with something he didn’t want. We were told if he wanted a change it would be a 20-minute wait.
My green pawpaw salad was refreshing with a good serving of pork and prawns. I wonder if they had white spot disease.
After the meal, we bought some eclairs from Savour Patisserie and had a cup of tea with the eclairs at my parent’s place. I had the Caramel A-salt (burnt salted caramel mascarpone, popping candy and crisp caramel pearls) which is the second in from the right in the photograph below. These were really nice (a bit gimmicky), but not as good as the eclairs my friend Sarah makes (no link, Sarah isn’t on social media so you can’t hit her up for her amazing eclairs!).
Ms22 went home and I took Ms20 and Miss16 to the Novotel Brisbane Airport for a night before our flight to Cairns the next morning. When I first arranged this holiday my parents weren’t going to be in Brisbane so I booked and paid for a hotel room. When Dr 50 cancelled the party it meant my parents were not going to be with my brother so we could have stayed with my parents. Long story short, we stayed in a hotel room and had fun.
I had the pork katsu, the crumbed pork with mayonnaise and kimchi was pretty good.
Our first night in the Beaumont on Spence was pretty good.
Cairns City Apartments including the Beaumont on Spence
We rented for four nights a two bedroom apartment. The main bedroom had a large en suite and walk in wardrobe which was very spacious for holiday makers. The second bedroom was next to a bathroom with bathtub/shower. The built in washer and dryer were in a convenient space while the living area and kitchen were open plan and well laid out. The room was a bit musty each time we opened the door, but we quickly adapted and on balance this was a great apartment for the cost and convenience. It was a few minutes walk to the esplanade, marina and fleet terminal. It was also close to a slew of restaurants which made eating out a breeze.
I’d happily recommended Cairns City Apartments to any families wanting to visit Cairns and use the apartment as a base station for adventures in and around Cairns. The staff in the reception area were really friendly and helpful. You need to understand these are not serviced apartments, so while towels and enough stuff is provided to get you through one night, you will need to buy food and soap and other toiletries. This is easy because the Cairns Central shopping mall is just across the road.
We all woke up early so we could catch the sunrise on the Cairns Marina. The sky was a little gloomy with heavy clouds.
On the way back we stopped at Silk Caffe and had breakfast. I had a chicken bacon brie cranberry wrap.
After breakfast, we walked back to the apartment to get ready for a cruise out to the Sunlover Reef Pontoon for some snorkelling, sunning and water sliding.
Our start time was a little delayed so we sat in the sun and cloud cover as it alternated and occasionally rained. After a few sun showers, it stayed fine all day.
Here’s a photo of me sitting like Buddha.
Check out the cool bag we bought for $2 to carry all our stuff.
The cruise out to the pontoon takes a bit under two hours and is broken up by a stop at Fitzroy Island to offload passengers.
The sea wasn’t rough but the swell created a nice roll so that the boat was a “bucket of vomit” by the time we got to the pontoon. I’ve never seen so many sick bags used and I’ve not seen so much vomit in bags. It never ceases to amaze me when people step on board and the first thing they do is have a mug or tea or coffee and some snacks. Little do they realise they do it at their peril. We came prepared with crystallised ginger. They only time, when the puking stopped, was when a whale was seen and everyone moved to starboard making me appreciate even more the modern marine technology associated with modern vessels.
A Google map I made with the GPS coordinates from the journey
I’ve noticed some web browsers do not render this map. I know it works in Chrome. Sorry if you’re viewing using Safari or Internet Explorer versions that cannot render this Google map.
While we steamed towards the pontoon I was taken by the amount of expensive camera equipment being carried on board. I also spent time admiring some of the timepieces on the wrists of many of the passengers. The glass with the cameras was a sight to behold, lots of red ringed Canon glass and many fine Nikon full frame lenses. As much as people talk about the move from DSLRs to mirrorless systems, I didn’t see any Sony other than my own, I saw a couple of micro four thirds systems, mostly Panasonic. The overwhelming majority of “memory makers” though were smartphones. It staggers me the penetration smartphones have made into the photography market. What bewilders me is the number of people who I see digitally zooming on their smart devices. Oh, and another thing, I remain amazed by the number of people who use an iPad or similar tablet as their main memory maker. I find it remarkable. Good on them I say for having the desire. I’d be too embarrassed to hold up my 9.7 inch iPad in a crowd. That said, walking around with my Sony α7ii with a 24–240 mm f/3.5–6.3 lens isn’t inconspicuous. I’m constantly impressed at how adept my daughters are with their smartphones, especially their photography and videography as it relates to apps like Snapchat and Instagram and Facebook. They take selfies like professionals and seem to be in constant contact with their friends.
On the wristwatches, I’m no collector or expert, I just like the look of a nice watch.
When we arrived at the pontoon I was surprised (pleasantly) to see there was a Vodafone 4G signal and the strength was pretty good. It would mean Instagram would be possible from the pontoon!
The first thing we did was board a glass bottom boat to look at some coral. It was low tide so we weren’t able to float over coral bommies for a close look. We just skirted around the edges and admired the different types of coral and various fish we saw. Mike, the guide, wasn’t the most talkative bloke. I felt grateful for the similar trips I’d done before and my reading about the Great Barrier Reef from childhood through to adulthood.
After the short glass bottom boat ride, we prepared to go snorkelling. I love snorkelling. My kids love snorkelling. It’s just one of the best things in the world to do if you can. The feeling of buoyancy, the feeling of being engulfed in water as it supports my weight. The feeling of being so close to so much fauna. Coral is just amazing, so many different varieties and so many colours. The fish are also so diverse in size, shape and colour. I’ve previously been snorkelling near reef sharks and never felt danger. I’ve seen a few sea snakes and I am scared of them. I’m not a fan of snakes. We saw a few green sea turtles too.
While I did take a camera with me (not the Sony), I didn’t spend too much time shooting still images or video. I was just enjoying diving down as deep as my lungs would let me so I could explore the coral and see the different types of fish. My daughters were content on the surface, not diving. One day, I’d love to go scuba diving with them. That would be real freedom.
Here is a gallery of photographs I shot while snorkelling. Click on a photograph and a gallery will pop up and you can flick through the photographs.
Here is a short video of what we saw underwater plus some scenes from the rest of the day.
One of the real surprises was that a face mask has a similar effect to wearing reading spectacles. I could see and read the type on the LCD screen of the camera (GoPro Hero5) I took underwater. Another good reason to spend life underwater in my opinion. This reminds me of a conversation I had recently with a friend on Facebook. The gist being, as Queenslanders, we’re more adept to life in the water than life on the land, especially our joints like knees.
After the snorkelling we had lunch. The passengers on these tourist cruises are mainly Asian and most of them are Oriental, so Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. There were a few from the subcontinent, but not as many. There was also a good smattering of young American college students on their summer break along with some Scandinavians and Germans. So lunch was a fusion type of buffet. There was rice and pasta and salads and bread. There were also prawns and some cold meats. I really wasn’t that keen to eat rice, bland curries and pasta. I grabbed a handful of prawns, some bread and some butter and made a prawn sandwich. The only thing missing was some nicely flavoured salt and vinegar.
After lunch, we swam, hit the waterslide and lazed in the sun. My youngest daughter took some snaps of me on the waterslide. Have a laugh at this.
Here is a short video of me ejaculating from the water slide.
The cruise back to Cairns was uneventful and it seemed to be less vomit filled. We arrived back in Cairns close to 7 pm and we were hungry.
On the walk from the fleet terminal to the apartment, we pass many restaurants. The Tandoori Oven caught our eye so without cleaning up we walked in and asked for a table for two.
The meal at the Tandoori Oven turned out to be a food highlight of the holiday. We had three dishes, Beef Madras, Lamb Korma and Butter Kitchen along with some garlic naan and plain naan. Each dish was rich in flavour and very spicy. My daughters’ palates have matured well and they really enjoyed the meal.
We went to bed that night feeling very tired but quite sated.
We woke early and had some peanut M&Ms and coffee for breakfast and walked to the pickup point for our day trip to Kuranda.
Kuranda has a rich history stemming back to the late 1800s with the construction of a railway, coffee plantations, other farming including sugar cane and in the early 1900s, there was some military strategic value to the area.
Train ride up a hill
Our pick up bus took us to Freshwater railway station where we had a thirty-minute wait. There was a tuck shop so we bought a scone, a muffin and a piece of banana bread to supplement the M&Ms!
The Kuranda Scenic Train ride from Freshwater to Kuranda via Barron Falls is very scenic, very windy and somewhat informative with an educational narration through the public address system.
Barron Falls is a nice looking waterfall. By no means a Victoria Falls, but who doesn’t like being mesmerised by water falling from a great height.
Australian Butterfly Sanctuary
When we got to Kuranda, we walked around the shops. There are heaps of tourist shops for souvenirs, food, clothes, and bars. There are also some educational bits and pieces like the Australian Venom Zoo and the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary.
The Australian Butterfly Sanctuary was probably the highlight of the day. We spent a couple of hours in there over two visits. It is just so relaxing watching butterflies. It was interesting watching them chase each other as well as watching how some varieties seem to be attracted to different colours. Some were attracted to white shirts while others to orange shirts.
Here is a gallery of photographs from the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary. Click on one and a gallery will pop up so you can flick through the photographs.
After the butterflies, we went on an Army Duck tour through the Rainforest Station.
This was an amphibious adventure that focussed mainly on native flora and some fauna. Our guide Michael seemed like a good bloke and he made a real effort to get a good laugh out of us. Unfortunately, Australian humour doesn’t always translate well into Korean and Chinese which seemed to be dominant languages in the group we found ourselves in. I marvelled at how these vehicles built in the USA in the 1940s were still mechanically sound. Mind you I think the gearbox only has first and reverse gears. The gradients we ascended and descended were a bit hairy. It was also a little disconcerting that Michael had to turn off the ignition to change gear! That said, I never felt unsafe.
Ton of fun
We had lunch at the Rainforest Views Restaurant. I had a burger named “Ton of Fun”. The ToF was basically a large juicy cheeseburger with some grilled pineapple, bacon and a fried egg (sunny side up). It would have been perfect with a slice or two of beetroot.
Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
After lunch, we took the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway down from Kuranda to Cairns. The cableway has two stops along the way with lookouts from which you can see parts of the Barron River. Sadly we didn’t see any cassowaries.
Here is a gallery of a selection of photographs I shot on the way down from Kuranda to Cairns. Click on one photograph and a gallery will pop up so you can flick through them.
The bus ride from the base station to our apartment was entertaining with the driver sharing stories about local architecture and historic sites. It was good he also maintained Maroon pride and had a gentle dig at the Blues.
Breaking free from Asia and going Italian
After cleaning up and refreshing ourselves, we wandered off in search of dinner. Thus far we’d eaten Asian on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evenings. It was time to break that trend. We found a little trattoria on Spence Street named Bel Paese Trattoria Italian Restaurant. The service was friendly and attentive. I went with crumbed veal parmigiana while Miss 16 had a pineapple and ham pizza while Ms 20 enjoyed a creamy bacon and mushroom pasta. I thought the pizza looked too big but I was assured it wasn’t so I said if she ate it all we’d also find dessert.
Pineapple on pizza! Yes or no?
Now some of you may query the wisdom of pineapple on a pizza. Might I remind you that Queensland owes a huge debt of gratitude not only to the Chinese free settlers but also the Italians too. My family owned and worked sugar cane farms and cut cane by hand alongside Italians and south sea islanders. Pineapples grow well in Queensland so I see nothing wrong with pineapple on pizza, for all I know Italians have been doing it for generations in country Queensland.
Miss 16 finished her pizza and still felt hungry so we wandered around to NITRO LATO.
This place does liquid nitrogen based ice cream. I went with an “Aussie Adventure” which combined Milo and a classic TimTam with a smooth chocolate cream, and a tempered chocolate top. It also came with a syringe filled with chocolate sauce.
We again woke early and walked to the Cairns Marina to see the sunrise. It was a gorgeous morning. We stayed a little longer than we did Monday morning and visited Helga’s Pancakes for breakfast. I had a short stack along with a small latte.
A Spanish love story
We didn’t have a planned day trip for Thursday but we’d agreed we’d drive south of Billy Slater Land (Innisfail for readers deprived of the greatness that is Rugby League Football) and visit Paronella Park. There’s no way in a simple blog post that I can do justice to the story of José Paronella, a Spanish migrant who came to Australia in the early 1900s and made good working hard labour, buying and selling farms and then settling for a piece of land near a natural waterfall off the old Bruce Highway just outside of Billy Slater Land. He built a castle for his wife and turned it into a tourist spot for anyone who cared to visited and during the years of World War Two, for returned servicemen to enjoy some rest and relaxation with local women. He built a ballroom and a lovers’ lane plus all sort of other trails through the land. Unfortunately, José was not an engineer and didn’t realise the mica-based sand he dredged from the local river bank would not make long lasting construction material. Sadly much of his constructed work has eroded away with time.
This is a gallery of photographs from Paronella Park. Click on a photograph and the gallery will pop up so you can flick through the images.
A natural wonder of Paronella Park is a grove of Queensland Kauri Pine trees donated by the government to the Paronellas to preserve. These trees are magnificent and endangered. When Captain James Cook found Australia and charted it the Queensland coast he found these trees to be perfect for mast making. They are tall straight and strong. The trees in the grove will live for hundreds of years and grow to up to three metres in diameter. They are magnificent. The pattern of the bark of the Queensland Kauri Pine has been used by the Australian Defence Force as a camouflage pattern for some of its combat uniforms.
This is a gallery of photographs from Queensland Kauri Pine trees. Click on a photograph and the gallery will pop up so you can flick through the images.
For lunch, e ate at the tuck shop at Paronella Park. I had a couple of chicken and mushroom filo pastry things. They weren’t very good. Very doughy, but hey, not every meal can be a winner. It didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for Paronella Park and the rich history lesson we had learnt.
The Bruce Highway between Cairns and Innisfail is undergoing quite a lot of work, we spent most of the drive at about 60 km/h which meant we totalled about four hours driving. It gave me an opportunity to become more familiar with the music my daughters enjoy. It’s nothing like The Angels or Cold Chisel.
Going to our roots
For dinner, we had decided we needed to go beyond Vietnamese, Korean and Indian, we had to go to our own roots, so we went to Taste of China. We started with some pan-fried pork dumplings and then had three big dishes. An FNQ mud crab steamed with garlic, ginger and shallots, deep-fried boneless duck, and lemon chicken with crispy skin.
Ice cream sundae to die for
This meal tasted quite nice, but the service was a little slow and the rice we asked for never arrived. In my opinion, I also thought it was overpriced. Rather than have a Chinese dessert, which is nowhere near as good as European desserts, we went across the road to Woolworths and bought a 220 gram jar of Nutella and a 1 litre tub of honeycomb and caramel ice cream. We also had some peanut M&Ms, so Miss 16 made us ice cream sundaes for dessert back at the apartment.
I woke up thinking just how much work was waiting for me in terms of e-mails and meetings. I shook off that thought and joined my daughters in what would be our final sunrise in Cairns on the marina.
We ate breakfast at Bang and Grind. I initially thought I would have poached eggs and bacon on some Turkish bread but spotted an almond custard croissant and that desire overwhelmed me. They offered to toast it, I thought, why not.
I’d never had a toasted almond custard croissant before but this was a revelation. It was fantastic and made better by a really nice latte.
After breakfast we returned to the apartment to clean up, pack and check out. I love that my daughters are so amazing. We had the place clean as a whistle in no time and were early in our final outing.
Posh Italian Knobs
We’d decided to drive to Yorkey’s Knob, have a look around and then drive to Palm Cove Beach for a swim, and then swing back to Trinity Beach for lunch at L’Unico. L’Unico is an Italian place right on the beach, it was suggested by my brother, Dr 50.
Yorkey’s Knob was a nice coarse sand beach with beautiful blue water. We sat and took in the view for about half an hour enjoying what we all agreed was perfect weather.
The next stop was Palm Cove Beach. This is a resort area and far too rich and posh for my liking. We stayed here for about an hour so my daughters could enjoy a swim and I had a short nap on the beach under the shade of some palms.
Again we marvelled at just how perfect the air felt. It was 27 °C with a slight breeze and my skin feeling healthy.
After a swim and sleep, we drive south now to Trinity Beach. We found L’Unico and noted the outside tables had a great view of the beach. I asked for a Calamari Caesar salad, Ms 20 had a pizza gamberi, while Miss 16 went with a pizza margherita. These meals were delicious and we all agreed, L’Unico was a highlight of our trip.
After lunch, we drove to Cairns airport and checked in for our flight to Brisbane. Little did we know when we boarded what we would have to go through. Before the drama started we had dinner which was falafel and couscous. This was pretty good for airline food.
As we approached Brisbane we could see the fog, we made a touch and go attempt and the Captain pulled up and out explaining there was too much fog and rain so we’d have to climb and head to Caboolture to join a holding pattern and wait our turn for another landing. The second attempt failed so we were diverted to Coolangatta airport at the Gold Coast.
We sat on the tarmac unable to dock with an aerobridge because earlier flights into Brisbane had also been diverted and there were no vacant spots. We ended up having to refuel on the tarmac.
It took about forty-five minutes to get into the terminal and then more than an hour to get our bags before boarding a bus to take us to Brisbane Airport.
Why have our bags not been put on this thing?
We arrive at Brisbane Airport just after midnight. We rented a car from Hertz and drove to my parents’ place. I got about three hours sleep and couldn’t fall back to sleep.
Qantas changed my Brisbane to Canberra flight from 8 am to 1 pm which didn’t suit me so I asked to get an earlier flight via Sydney.
So I woke up at 3 am and couldn’t get back to sleep. I got out of bed at 5.30 and had a chat with Dad about stuff while he was checking his blood sugar levels and making his breakfast.
When I arrived back at Brisbane Airport it was bedlam. I looked up at the board for my flight and noticed there were three flights cancelled and I just hoped my flight wasn’t one of them. Fortunately, it wasn’t. I managed to get breakfast and then boarded a full flight. At first, I was next to an unhappy baby. He and his mother were moved to the back so the mother could have a little more room. Then an unhappy man was put next to me. In a twist, he moved and a flight attendant was seated next to me. She was delightful.
The flight from Sydney to Canberra was a different kettle of fish. I had a dickhead sit behind me. As I was putting my bag in the overhead stowage area he started pushing around roughly to make room for his own bag. Arsehole. When he sat down, he put something bulky in the pouch in the seat in front of him. This led to the passenger in front of him and next to me to turn around and ask him to remove the object. The dickhead refused. He lacked any manners when flight attendants handed him a bottle of water and other service items.
Given the change in flights and the need to go via Sydney with a very short turnaround I really worried my bag would not make it. It’s happened so many times to me.
Oh, the joy, my bag. Hey you, get your mitts off my bag
Back in Canberra
Canberra is not #warmandmoist it’s cold dry and sucking big hairy ones.
My youngest daughter will soon turn 16. We went out for dinner, celebrated over steaks and then had some cake.
We went to Hog’s Breath Cafe in Aspley because it’s close and Mum’s food allergies aren’t affected by slowly cooked steak.
I asked for the combination pork ribs and prime rib steak along with double mashed potato with pepper sauce. I did ask for some salad, but the server must have thought I said double mashed potato. I didn’t complain, I like mashed potato, especially with barbecue sauce from the pork and the added pepper sauce I asked for the steak. Often I’ll have the steak with some prawns for a surf and turn but I’d already eaten fish and calamari earlier in the day.
Mum had made a coconut ice coconut cake as a birthday cake. It was really nice. It was moist and full of great coconut flavour.
Today I took Miss 15 and Ms 19 out to Sandgate for lunch. We haven’t been back since November 2016. We went to the Sandgate Fishmonger and bought three pieces of battered cod, four potato scallops (not cakes), a serving or crumbed calamari and a large serving of really nice chips.