Spring is here. Callistemon-Bottlebrush


Saturday, September 22, 2018

BIRTHDAY BEAR BECOMES A MINER

So Helen had a birthday last month but we seem to be behind a month for all our birthdays this year. Hopefully we'll catch up soon. We are a small group of friends who all retired around the same time from the same school. Some of us were teachers, one a teacher aide and one an administrator. Our spouses join us to celebrate our birthdays together so that we remain in touch. Instead of giving presents we pass on a Teddy Bear, who has to be dressed to reflect the recipients personality or their interests.

Helen recently toured the Pilbara Region of Western Australia with Chris. Chris dressed bear for Helen as an iron ore miner to remind her of the fun they had on that trip. She also put together a photo album for Bear and Helen.

Helen chose the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens Cafe as the venue to celebrate with us and Bear. The food was good.


Bear is waiting for Helen to arrive.

 Chris dressed Bear and found a mining truck full of ore.


Helen and Chris with a big mining truck in the Pilbara, WA.

Helen was happy with her Bear and the Photo Album full of good memories of the trip to the Pilbara.

George, Ann, Mary, Chris, Helen, Me, Bill and Bob.
We all enjoyed our lunch. Bear ate all the left over chips (fries).

The view from the cafe window.

 Some of us went for a stroll through the desert section of the gardens, while others stayed and enjoyed the dessert section of the menu.





A water dragon.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

DINOSAUR STAMPEDE AT LARK QUARRY

On the last day of our outback tour we were driven 110 km south west of Winton to Lark Quarry Conservation Park. 
 On the way we stopped on top of a 'jump up' (mesa) to look over Carisbrooke Station, which has an interesting history. Charlie the 80 year old owner of the station was unable to keep up his payments to the bank during the drought. The bank took his farm off him but the outcry of neighbouring farmers and city radio stations made the bank reverse their decision and the farm is back in family hands. However, the fight took a long time and by then Charlie had lost his will to run the station so his son has taken over.
At morning tea time the coach pulled into a disused opal mine. While the guides boiled the billy and made morning tea we were encouraged to go looking for opals. We weren't successful but one of our tour group found quite a few pieces in small rocks.

 We continued on towards Lark Quarry but stopped at the Three Sisters Lookout. It was cool but very sunny and bright. Not good for photography but the ancient landscape was awesome.


 Soon we arrived at the place where the Stampede tracks were discovered back in the 60's even though the farmer who found them contacted the museum and they confirmed they were dinosaur tracks nothing was done until the 70's.  This building was erected in 2002 to protect the tracks of a dinosaur stampede. It is the world's only known fossilised stampede site.
 Inside the building we were given information about the tracks including a video of what is thought to have happened here 95 million years ago. A herd of at least 150 small two legged dinosaurs including carnivorous coelurosaurs about the size of chickens and slightly larger plant eating ornithopods, came to drink at the edge of the lake. What happened next has been frozen in time across the rock face. A huge meat eating theropod approached the lake began to stalk and then charged. There are over 3000 footprints.
 Thousands of chicken like footprints in the rock.

 The spot lights are on the huge footprints. You can see that layers of rock have been removed to expose the footprints. It is believed there are many more under the remaining rock but scientists want it left like that for future generations when techniques will have improved to excavate further.

 It was very difficult to photograph in the dim light. But these are some big prints among the little ones. I was happy to be able to see this site which had been on my bucket list for years. 

We had lunch and hiked the 'Spinifex Walk' before returning to Winton that night.

 The next morning we went back to Longreach and boarded the "Spirit of the Outback" train for the two day trip back to Brisbane. Bill and Rob in the lounge of the train. We weren't impressed with the sleeper cabins but the food was good.

 The parched outback from the train window.

 The train winding its way through the ranges on the way to the coast.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

WHERE DINOSAURS ROAMED

After watching a doco on dinosaur fossil finds in Winton, I have always wanted to visit the sites and museums there. So last month we did. After touring around the towns of Longreach and Winton we were finally on our way to the dinosaur laboratory. Unfortunately, I didn't feel 100%, (due to dehydration-not drinking enough water in the hot dry climate even though it was winter) so I didn't take many photos.
 The Age of Australian Dinosaurs Museum is a not for profit organisation and they get little help from governments so they divised a way to get labour. Many would be archaeologists love to go on a dig or help clean the fossils and put the massive jigsaw of bones together. So the Museum offered the public the opportunity to do this but they have to pay to be trained and then to work there. This way they get the work done without hiring labour and make money to keep the museum going. This volunteer is cleaning some bones found in a previous dig. When the bones are first found they are wrapped in foil and then plaster of paris to preserve them. Their place of find and date is written on the plaster. Then when volunteers come to the lab they open up the parcels and get to work.
 Then we were driven to another part of the museum located on top of a mesa (called a 'jump up' in Queensland). A Dinosaur Canyon and outdoor galleries have been created to replicate the 'Age of the Australian Dinosaurs'.
 As we walked through the canyon on a walkway we could see replicas of bones and dinosaurs.
 Many of the dinosaurs that lived in this area were small ones not much bigger than chickens. But bigger ones chased them and ate them.
 The replicas were so life like and I felt like I had been transported back 95 million years and was watching this spectacle.


 The bigger ones on the rampage.
 The museum people are planting prehistoric cycad plants in the canyon to make it even more realistic.

 Then we went inside a lovely building where the bones of some dinosaurs have been put together. Guides gave us an informative talk after which we went outside on the deck overlooking the amazing outback scenery and sunset while we were served dinner.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

THE OUTBACK TOWN OF WINTON

Oh boy! I have been busy with U3A and my blogging has been neglected. I was writing about our trip to Longreach and Winton in far west Queensland. Our tour bus drove us from Longreach to Winton where our guides dropped us off near Arno's Wall and they told us to follow the wall and we would come to the hotel where we could walk through to the main street.  Arno migrated from Germany back in the 60's he was an opal cutter at Opalton but he is most famous for his art installation, his Wall. The wall is 2 metres high and 70 metres long. It is made of concrete and rocks that he brought into town from the opal mine. In the wall he has concreted in every kind of house hold items and more: lawn mowers, boat propellors, type writers, sewing machines and motor bikes.

 A very small part of Arno's Wall.

We came through the hotel to the main street in Winton. I have recently discovered that this hotel was the first one built in Winton back in the mid 1880's but obviously has been updated over the years. Of course we had to stop in the coffee shop on the next corner for 'you know who'. 

 While drinking our coffee I saw a sign pointing to the back of the shop saying 'Thru to the historic open air theatre'. It was just as it was in the old days, the projection room too. It was a fun museum.

 We continued down the street to a lovely little opal shop. I resisted buying any. Too expensive.

Bill with Banjo Paterson, a famous Australian poet, who wrote "Waltzing Matilda"
 (you may recall that our grandson has the same name)
 Then we had to meet the rest of our group and guides at the brand new 'Matilda Centre', which is a museum dedicated to our informal national song,  'Waltzing Matilda' including the times and lives of the local people. The Winton people are very proud that our famous song was written in the Winton District. Their museum was burnt down a few years ago and they have just opened this new one. It is a shame that they lost many of the artefacts.
 However, they have done a great job with the new one with what they have and supplemented with many digital displays.
We learnt about the history of the song, the writer, Banjo Paterson, the wool industry, transport and life style of the times. The next day we were off to see the dinosaurs....the reason I came on this trip.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

ROLLING DOWN THE RIVER

After visiting the Qantas Founders Museum we were taken for a sunset cruise on the Thomson River. The river flows by Longreach, a small town in Western Queensland. Even though it is a very dry part of the country the river always has water flowing from the wetter northern parts of Queensland.

We were going to have a BBQ dinner at an open air campsite on the banks of the river. So we rugged up well because it gets very cold at night. It was a relaxing cruise down the river and we had a commentary  telling us about the wildlife and birds in the area.

Before we went on the cruise we had lunch at another lovely old homestead called Rosebank. It was owned by the tour company's owner, Alan Smith. In its heyday it was owned by a grazier who entertained locals and dignitaries including royalty.
 Alan's wife made lunch for all of us in the ballroom. Alan told us the history of the place.

After a short rest in our motel we were off again to the Thomson River.




 Dinner at Smithy's campsite on the river with country music entertainment.
 It was a nice evening but a bit cold. There were fires to keep us warm but "smoke got in our eyes."

The next morning we were off to Winton to see the dinosaurs, Bill tells me they are dead. It was a two hour drive to Winton.
countercounter