Sunday/ feathered friends 🐦

These feathered friends are from Birdworld in Kuranda, when we were there on Friday.

This rainbow lorikeet (Trichoglossus moluccanus) was very interested in the hard rubber toecap on my shoe.
The cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) is a ratite (a flightless bird without a keel on its sternum bone). They are native to the forests of northern Australia. Stay on the good side of this 6-ft tall bird, because you cannot outrun it, and those claws can be lethal.
A blue-fronted amazon parrot (Amazona aestiva) from South America. These are one of the most common amazon parrots kept in captivity as a pet, or as a companion parrot.
Black cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus banksii) are native to Australia. I saw a pair of them on a lamp post here in Cairns early this morning.

Saturday/ a drive up north 🛣

Looking south from the Rex Lookout on Captain Cook Highway, near Wangetti, Queensland.
We rented the black Kia Cerato in the corner of the picture.
Mangrove swamps on the beach, near Captain Cook Highway on the way north.
Four Mile Beach at Port Douglas was overcast and windswept today, but there were still people making the best of it on the sand. There was a designated swimming area with a net in the water, but the surf splashes over the net, so swimmers and surfboarders wear stinger suits.
Here we had arrived at the Mossman Gorge Visitors Center, and had taken the shuttle bus to the Mossman River. The elevated walkway goes to the swimming area and the trails nearby, in Daintree National Park.
The swimming area in Mossman River.
The Rex Suspension Bridge over Rex Creek. This newest version of the bridge was completed in 2010.
Looking up while doing a 2.4 km circuit trail in the rain forest between Rex Creek and Wurumbu Creek.
I collected fungus pictures, and this one had a striking orange color. I believe this one is called orange peel fungus (Aleuria aurantia).
A pool in Wurumbu Creek that had a steady flow of water into and out of it, with little fishes in it as well.

We rented a car this morning and drove up north along the coast to Port Douglas and Mossman Gorge.


Thursday/ the Botanic Gardens 🌿

Here are a few pictures from the Botanic Gardens.
The turkey is an Australian brushturkey and the kookaburra in the tree was just a little out of reach of my phone camera’s zoom lens — but I took a picture nonetheless.
The butterfly is a red lacewing.

Wednesday/ downtown Cairns 🏬

We are frequent users of the bus that runs along Lake Street by our hotel and into downtown Cairns, even though it is just seven or eight large city blocks.  It is just too hot and humid to walk that far.

These pictures are from around downtown Cairns.

This picture on the side of a rubbish-and-recyclables bin on the street says in the fine print that it shows ‘Coral spawning, showing suspended sperm and egg bundles’.
Artwork that says ‘Tales from the Deep: Evil Bleach’.
From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) web site:
‘When sea water is too warm, corals will expel the algae (zooxanthellae) living in their tissues— causing the corals to turn completely white. This is called coral bleaching. When corals bleach, they are not dead. Corals can survive a bleaching event, but they are under more stress and are subject to mortality’.
I took a dip this afternoon in this very large saltwater swimming pool, called the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon. The water is lukewarm in the shallow parts, and a little cooler in the deepest part of the pool (1.6 m/ 5 feet). The pool was constructed in 2003 and is said to be able to accommodate 1,000 bathers. That’s the sea in the distance, but there are no waves or surf in the calm and shallow waters between the coral reef banks and the land.
An iconic Cairns palm tree, carrying a poster making some political statements. (A quick check on Google shows that Cairns has indeed the highest crime rate in Queensland, but it is still a very safe place relative to other cities in the world).
I am spotting far fewer Teslas than I had in Brisbane. I guess that is to be expected, if only due to the much smaller population of Cairns. One can definitely drive up to Cairns from Brisbane using the Tesla charger network— just not very far west, away from the coast.
There are several of these magnificent Banyan fig trees close to the esplanade.

Tuesday/ Fitzroy Island 🐚

We went out to Fitzroy Island today, officially Fitzroy Island National Park.
The island lies offshore from Cape Grafton, 29 km (18 mi) southeast of Cairns.

Our catamaran vessel set out at 8 am, and we were back early afternoon.
It was overcast at our arrival, and windy. The wind only worsened, and soon we learned that our planned glass-bottomed boat trip out to one of the reefs had to be cancelled. (The wind makes the water choppy and murky).

The walk through the forest to Nudey Beach was nice enough, though— and it was the first time that I had set foot on an entire beach of dead coral.

The view from our catamaran vessel as we approach Fitzroy Island. It’s hard to make out in the picture, but there is a hotel (lodge) dead ahead on the island, and the thin strip of sand visible on the right where the island meets the sea, is Nudey Beach.
The jetty at Fitzroy Island as we were disembarking. It’s a 45 minute trip from Cairns to the island.
Looking up as we are making our way to Nudey Beach through the forest.
Nudey Beach as seen from the hiking trail.
These beautiful yellow flowers were on a hibiscus tree of some kind, on Nudey Beach.
The entire Nudey Beach is filled with the calcium carbonate skeletons of dead coral. (There is a strip of sand by the waterline). Coral is a sessile* marine animal. Coral relies on its relationship with plant-like algae to build the largest structures of biological origin on Earth.
*Sessile: (of a plant or animal structure) attached directly by its base without a stalk or peduncle.
There is nothing nude about Nudey Beach: not on the beach and for sure NOT when it comes to going into the water. The Intrepid One among the three of us donned a stinger suit, snorkeling gear and flippers, to explore the shallow waters. We were told lucky snorkelers or divers might run into sea turtles. Conditions today were far from ideal, though, with a northerly wind pushing in towards the land here.
A big bluebottle jellyfish (Physalia utriculus) that we spotted from the jetty, as we were preparing to leave.
A big jar by the diving shop was marked ‘Vinegar for bluebottle and irukandji stings – DO NOT REMOVE’. Deaths from stings are rare, but some 50 people were hospitalized for irukandji stings in the 2018-19 season.
Going back to Cairns.

Thursday/ the Sunshine Coast ☀️

The drive time from Brisbane up to Noosa Heads was a little over 2 hours.



We drove up to the Sunshine Coast today, and stopped at three beaches for a little time in the sun and in the surf.

First, we stopped at a coffee shop at King’s Beach in Caloundra. My coffee of choice here in Queensland is a Long Black: 2/3rds boiling water into a cup then extracting a double shot of espresso (60ml) over the water.
P.S. What I am actually having here is a cup of Long Black with milk .. so is that a Short White Long Black? 🙂
King’s Beach in Caloundra has a wide and clean beach with well-appointed facilities. The surf was great and the water temperature very pleasant.
King’s Beach also has a saltwater swimming pool. The seawater in the pool is replenished with a pump and drained back into the sea.
Noosa Heads is at an estuary, and right by the large, scenic area with a mountain summit walk and trails of Noosa National Park. This picture, taken from the boardwalk, is just east of the Main Beach there. More and more rocky outcrops start to appear as one continues walking.
This is Sunshine Beach, just south of Noosa National Park. Surfers from Sunshine Beach Surf Club are in the water in the distance.
Every now and again on the Sunshine Motorway (Route 70), there would be a bridge crossing a body of water, with residential developments visible in the distance.

Wednesday/ at Roma Street Parkland

These pictures are all from Roma Street Parkland.
We entered it by stepping off the No 66 bus at the Roma Street stop, and then walking through the Roma Street train station (first picture). The statue is of Mahatma Ghandi.

Roma Street Parkland offers designer gardens and sprawling lawns winding around 16 hectares of spectacular parklands. It is said to be well-known by garden and plant enthusiasts for its exceptional horticultural standards.

Sunday/ Wynnam Mangrove 🌱

Wynnum Station is as close as one can get to the shoreline with the train. It’s a 15 min walk to the beach, and then another 10 or so to Wynnum Mangrove.


There are beautiful fig trees next to the footpath that leads to the Wynnum Mangrove boardwalk.
The boardwalk is about 500 m (546 yards) long.
High tide was still a few hours away when I was there this afternoon, so I suspect this area is under water at high tide.  This intertidal zone along the shoreline is either flooded or soaking wet, and the vegetation tolerate the brackish water well enough to flourish.
A beautiful leaf, but I have not been able to identify the type of tree that it belongs to.
Hello beautiful bird! A rainbow lorikeet, one of six or so in a tree in the suburbs of Wynnum.
Here comes the train. I am on Wynnum station on the Shorncliffe Line. The train would take me to back Park Road station where I had set out from earlier. 

It was time for me to make a run out to the Pacific Ocean*. (My brother’s car from Perth has arrived, and we will drive up north to the Sunshine Coast as soon as we have a sunny day).

*Technically, I was looking out over Moreton Bay and the Coral Sea, but it’s all connected to the Pacific Ocean.

Saturday/ a day at the museum 🏛

There was more rain today, and so we checked into the Queensland Museum and the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art.
Both of these are free to the public.

Queensland Museum

There has been expansive voyaging and cultural interactions across the Coral Sea (between what is today called Australia and Papua New Guinea), with seafaring craft like the model shown here. Evidence of human activity in the region dates back 6,500 years.
There is a large natural history collection on display on the third and fourth floor— of land animals, birds and fish.
There are 51 species of box jellyfish, large and small.
The one on the right is the infamous irukandji jellyfish (Carukia barnesi).
From the display case text:
‘Although irukandji are the smallest of the box jellyfish group, they are the deadliest. Stings are recorded every year, with some victims needing hospital treatment. Nevertheless, only 3 deaths have been attributed to irukandji the last 100 years. Always wear a stinger-suit when swimming in tropical Queensland’.
P.S. I see Stinger Suit™ is actually a trademark for the nylon/ latex bodysuit. The models wearing the suit still have bare faces, hands and feet, though. Maybe I will keep things simple and just stay out of the water altogether.



Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art

Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art are two galleries next to each other. The QAG moved to this location in 1982, and then in 2006 a sweeping new wing was added for the Gallery of Modern Art.
Kudusur (2017), artist Alick Tipoti
The mural Kudusur (‘poling with elbow’) depicts the spiritual ancestors and brothers called Thoegay and Kang, extending their elbows and using them as paddles for their canoe.
Under the Jacaranda (1903), artist R. Godfrey Rivers
Oil on canvas. Purchased in 1903.
Brisbane is full of jacarandas, in bloom right now, like in the painting— but the tree is not native. It comes from South America.
Dispela meri Lady Diana (‘This woman is Lady Diana’) (1998), artist John Kawage
John Kawage is from Papua New Guinea, and used synthetic polymer paint on canvas. Purchased in 1999.
Vertigoats (2021), artist Justene Williams
It depicts a humorous questioning of the desire to ‘climb the ladder’ of the social and economic order.

Tuesday/ at the zoo 🦘

We drove north for an hour or so today, to get to the Australia Zoo.
The zoo was founded in 1970 by Bob and Lyn Irwin (parents of ‘Crocodile Hunter’ Steve Irwin of television fame) and is still owned by the Irwin family.

Australia Zoo is an hour north of Brisbane, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. It’s been 16 years since the tragic death of Steve Irwin, the famous ‘Crocodile Hunter’ from television.
Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), the largest extant species of lizard and  endemic to the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, and Gili Motang.
Dingo (Canis lupus dingo). The dingo is an ancient lineage of dog. ‘Their genome is substantially different from modern dog breeds, suggesting the canines have never been domesticated in the past’, says
Here’s ‘Mossman’, a 13-ft saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus). Mossman was a troublemaker in the rural town of Mossman near Cairns— and subsequently caught and relocated to the Australian Zoo.
Look but do not touch. A dyeing poison dart frog (Dendrobates tinctorius), this exotic creature is found in the rain forests of Guiana and Venezuela. They are highly toxic if consumed, and just touching them will cause a numb sensation on the skin.
The taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus)— probably Australia’s most famous venomous snake. They are large, fast-moving, highly venomous, and endemic to Australia and New Guinea. They defend themselves with a number of lightning fast strikes.
Come and get it! Feeding time for these short-legged, muscular marsupials that are called wombats (Vombatus ursinus).
A rose-crowned fruit dove (Ptilinopus regina) in the large bird enclosure.
An eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) in ‘chill mode’ in the kangeroo enclosure.
At the far end of the kangaroo enclosure there is a handful of trees with koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus). Do not say koala bear, since they are not bears: they are arboreal herbivorous marsupials. The game wardens keep an eye on them and see that they have a fresh supply of eucalyptus branches to munch on.
Here and there in the park, there are life-sized dinosaur models, very artfully done. Spinosaurus (this one is nesting) roamed around 97 million years ago in what is now North Africa. They ate fish and crocodiles and lived for up to 100 years.
I love this Pterosaur. These creatures lived 228 million years ago, along the coasts of Europe and all the way down to southern Africa, and could become up to 150 years old.

Sunday/ a little sunflower 🌻

It was a hazy, sunny Sunday (81°F / 27 °C), warm for this late in the year.
Our 10-day forecast still does not show any rain.

Sometimes called the ‘little sunflower’, genus Helianthella, catches the last rays of the day at the T.T. Minor Playground off Union Street today. Helianthella is a genus of North American plants in the family Asteraceae.

Saturday 🕸

There was a little rain on the ground this morning.
It’s Labor Day weekend, which means that summer is over— unofficially.
Hopefully there are still enough bugs buzzing about for Mr. Spider to catch in his web.

Tuesday/ creatures of the night 🌒

My uncle sent me these images of nocturnal animals.
They were captured by a LtlAcorn® camera trap he had set up in 2009 at the Shalimpo camp in Botswana.

Shalimpo is located at the very east-most point in Botswana (at the right edge in the picture), in the wildlife preserve called the Tuli Block, at the confluence of the Shasi and Limpopo rivers.
Bush pig (Potamochoerus larvatus), perhaps not quite as well-known as the other wild African hog, the warthog.
Rusty-spotted genet (Genetta maculata). Genets are viverrids (a family of small to medium-sized cat-like mammals). They are omnivorous: catching small prey, but also subsisting on fruit and insects.
The unmistakable form of a Spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta). Hyenas were made even more infamous (unfortunately) by Disney’s The Lion King (1994). There are four species, and this one is also known as the laughing hyena. Hyenas are unique and vital components of most African ecosystems.
Cape porcupine (Hystrix africaeaustralis) showing its black-and-white quills. These are amongst the largest living rodents in the world. The capybara and some beavers might weigh a little more.
Leopard (Panthera pardus). ‘The Leopard Hunts in Darkness’ (1984) is a novel by Wilbur Smith set in the early days of Zimbabwe’s independence and is the fourth in Wilbur Smith’s series about the Ballantyne family of Rhodesia. When it was released it was banned by the Zimbabwe government.

Sunday/ Torrey Pines State Park

Today my brothers and I did a short hike up to the buff in Torrey Pines State Park, and then made our way down to the beach and back to the parking lot.

We parked below at the Torrey Pines State Park South Beach, and walked along the road to the top.
The Torrey pine (Pinus torreyana) is a rare pine species in California, United States. It is a critically endangered species growing only in coastal San Diego County, and on Santa Rosa Island, offshore from Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara County.
Prickly pear or pear cactus are around the trail to be seen as well.
Looking north from a viewpoint on the trail, along Camino Del Mar Road, and the parking lot for Torrey Pines State Beach. The greenery with waters at the top and to the right of the road are those of Los Penasquitos Lagoon. 
Now making our way along the sandy trail between the sandstone outcroppings to the beach.
One of us is holding the iPhone at arm’s length, another is pushing the picture button, and we are all trying not to fall down the cliff behind us.
Down on the beach, an hour or two after low tide. There are signs on the trail that warn there is no beach access at high tide (the sea sloshes against the sandy cliffs).

Saturday/ Balboa Park

Balboa Park is a 1,200-acre historic and urban, cultural park in San Diego.
The park was originally called ‘City Park’, but was renamed after Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa, in honor of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, held in the park that year.

The architecture of the buildings in Balboa Park are a mix of Mediterranean and Spanish Colonial Revival style.

My brother and I have been to the San Diego Zoo (next to Balboa Park) many, many times, and we decided it was time to take a look inside the Natural History Museum instead. This is the main entrance.
The original ‘Jaws’ .. a megalodon model on display in the main exhibition hall. The model is very accurate, and shows the electroreceptors on the shark’s nose between the nostrils. These receptors are filled with a jelly-like substance which help the shark to pick up electrical fields in the surrounding water. They can detect even the slightest of electrical pulses from the muscle movement of potential prey. Megalodons lived approximately 23 to 3.6 million years ago, and are relatives of today’s great white sharks.
Another view of the main exhibition hall, with a Steller’s sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas) top left. These slow-moving sea creatures grew to 9 m (30 ft) and 8-10 tons and had relatively few predators, but were easy prey for humans. Within 27 years of its discovery by Europeans in the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia, the slow-moving and easily-caught mammal was hunted into extinction for its meat, fat, and hide. The year was 1768.
The California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) is a New World vulture and the largest North American land bird. They became extinct in the wild in 1987, at which point only 22 birds in captivity remained. Breeding programs at San Diego Zoo and Los Angeles Zoo were launched, and as of December 2020 there were 504 California condors living wild or in captivity.
The Balboa Park Botanical Building. Built for the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition, along with the adjacent Lily Pond and Lagoon, the historic building is one of the largest lath structures in the world.
The beautiful façade at the entrance of the San Diego Museum of Art has detailed full-body sculptures of artists Velázquez, Murillo, and Zurbarán.
The nearly 200-foot-tall Tower and Dome of the California Building are covered with intricate carvings, colorful tile, and glass beads.


[Picture from Instagram: wildcatcentre]
Here is Kato the caracal from the Wild Cat Conservation Centre in Wilber, New South Wales, Australia.

The caracal is a medium-sized wild cat (weight is 30-40 lbs) native to Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and arid areas of Pakistan and northwestern India.

Friday/ a white poppy

Here’s a Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri) that I had found on Kitsap Peninsula yesterday.

The Matilija poppy is native to southern California and Baja California. It has large, showy flowers, each with six crinkly white petals. At the center of the flower is a cluster of many yellow stamens.

Friday/ still steamy 😓

Our stretch of warm weather continues, with a high of 95 °F (35 °C) today.
The meteorologists assure us we will have much cooler weather on Monday⁠— something civilized like 79°F (26 °C).

My lawn is yellowed out (I don’t water it in summer), but the aster shrub in the flower bed is in bloom. I love the golden button and the color of the petals: a pinkish, purplish, lilac.
Greek mythology has it that the aster was created by the tears of the Greek goddess Astraea.