A very long Tuesday/ home 🏡

I set out from Brisbane International Airport this morning at ‘Tuesday’ 10.40 am, and arrived at Seattle airport at Tuesday 10.50 am.
We had crossed the International Dateline in the Pacific Ocean, of course— and since Daylight Saving Time had ended in the USA over the weekend, the time difference is now 18 hours.

Boarding our Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner from United Airlines in Brisbane.
I spent 2 hours in the security queue (as Australians call it). All the frequent fliers grumbled that they ‘had never seen anything like this’ at Brisbane airport.
The Brisbane River and Moreton Bay, shortly after takeoff. The airport runways (Brisbane Airport has two) are visible at the left.
Arriving at a soggy San Francisco International airport 12 ½ hours later.
These international-to-domestic connections are a lot of work: I had to clear passport control, catch my checked bags from the baggage claim, clear customs, re-check the bags, change from Terminal G to E (a long walk), wait in the security line one more time, and only then go and find my gate in Terminal E for Seattle.
At the gate right next to ours, an announcement said the San Francisco-Austin flight had been cancelled.
Arriving at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s Terminal A.
At this point my plane is a ‘domestic’ arrival, so I didn’t get to walk across the new skywalk .. and it only looks warm! It was all of 44 °F (6° C) outside.

Monday/ goodbye to Cairns 🌺

I’m back in Brisbane, and will go home on Tuesday morning.
This afternoon I went to the shoreline by our lodgings in Cairns for one last look at the Coral Sea.

The artwork is called Telescopus (2008), by artist Dominic Johns.
The bird on the tarmac at Cairns is the Qantas Boeing 737-800 that flew us to Brisbane.

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.


Friday/ a scenic train ride  🛤

The obligatory pre-departure photo, on the platform at Cairns Station.
These are the cheap seats (our seats) in what is called a ‘Heritage’ car. The ‘Gold’ cars have lounge-style seating. This car was built in 1944, said a plaque by the door.
On the way to the stop at Freshwater Station. It’s sugar cane country around Cairns.
There are 15 tunnels on the way to Kuranda. Construction of the track was completed in 1891. At one point some 1,500 men, of Irish and Italian descent, was at work on the track.
I was just lucky to get this shot of a creek running down on a steep cliff-side. The foliage is dense alongside a lot of the track on the hillside.
This is Kuranda Station. The village of Kuranda and the tourist attractions (markets, bird world, koala sanctuary) are reached by walking up a few sets of stairs.
We stopped at Barron Falls Station on the way in, and this is the picture from the way back. Barron Falls is on the Barron River, of course.
These platforms are for maintenance crews, and not for passengers.
The tight four chain (80.46 m radius) turn at Stony Creek Falls and Stony Creek Bridge allows a full view of the train. At the front are two Co-Co Diesel Electric 1720 Class locomotives, each putting out 1,000 hp (745 kw). There are 14 cars.

We took the scenic train ride from Cairns to Kuranda village today.


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.

Monday/ arrival into Cairns 🏝

A 1990s tea towel depicting Cairns.  I had taken the picture a few days ago at an exhibit at Queensland State Library.
Here’s our Boeing 737-800 on the tarmac at Brisbane airport. A ground personnel person from Qantas came running up and said ‘No pictures, please!’, so I couldn’t take one from the top of the stairs at the tail. Aw.
As we approached Cairns, the turquoise and teal colors of the shallow waters and reefs on the seabed started to appear.
Here’s Cairns, population 150,000 or so. Latitude-wise we’re now 17° south of the equator, the closest I have ever been. (Flying over the equator doesn’t count, and some years ago I did spend 2 hours in the lounge at the airport in Lagos, Nigeria, 6° north of the equator).
It was 32 °C (90° F) here today and very humid. We couldn’t check into the hotel with our early morning arrival, so we walked to the downtown Cairns shopping mall for cool air and for a bite. (It was a slog). Here’s the 1926 Grand Hotel right across the mall.


We made it into Cairns, with a 6.05 am departure out of Brisbane.

We took a taxi into Cairns, which was just a few miles away from the airport.




We are leaving Brisbane at the crack of dawn Monday morning, to fly up to Cairns in tropical Far North Queensland.
I took the No 100 bus to the city one last time, and on the way back I stepped off at Woolloongabba station to look around for a last little bit.

Here’s The Gabba, the cricket grounds and stadium that is officially called The Brisbane Cricket Ground. The 2022 International Cricket Men’s T20 World Cup is underway, and Zimbabwe and Bangladesh squared off right here this afternoon. (Bangladesh won by 3 runs).
The bus from the city has taken me past the old Moreton Rubber Works Building (constructed 1890) by The Gabba several times, and I finally got to take a decent picture of it today.
Finally, a stop at the Coles grocery store. DC Coffee is a Melbourne-based specialty coffee roaster. (I haven’t tried the coffee, but I like the packaging).

Friday/ Surfer’s Paradise Beach 🏄

My brother and sister-in-law and I made a trip to Gold Coast today to check in with my niece, and to check out the famous beaches there.

This is Surfers Paradise Beach, just south of Main Beach on the Gold Coast shoreline.
A dozen named beaches with swim areas line the coast here, with lifeguards and even helicopters overhead now and again. The beach looks empty, but there were several dozen people behind us on the beach at the swim area. It was 29°C (84 °F) today but it felt hotter. We just went in for a quick dip in the surf, and took a few pictures (that’s my brother and my sister-in-law).
Lots and lots of high-rises: private apartment (condominium) and holiday apartment buildings, as well as resort buildings and hotels, line the street called Surfers Paradise Esplanade.

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.

Tuesday/ at the bookstore 📚

I spent a little time today at the used book store called Archives Fine Books, on  Charlotte Street in the city.
I walked out with a book of British cartoons, printed in 1962.

Monday/ the river ferry 🚤

I embarked at the West End and disembarked at South Bank.
Orleigh Park on the banks of the Brisbane River, with the ferry terminal just ahead on the right. Run, Forrest, run! I told myself. I was good that I did, because they closed the boarding gate just a minute after I had embarked.
The ferries are branded CityCat (Cat for catamaran?). There are 23 of these plying the waters of the Brisbane river, and 5 smaller vessels called KittyCats. 
This one arrived at the West End ferry terminal just as we were departing from there.
The CityCat ferries are constructed locally, in Brisbane.
This vessel was launched in August 2020. Length is 27.2 m (89 ft), beam 7.95 m (26 ft).
Here’s the Merivale Railway Bridge with a double track. It opened in Nov. 1978, 43 years ago.
This rail crossing is the only one across the Brisbane River, and a bottleneck for rail transport in the metro area.
The massive Cross River Rail project, underway since 2019, is a new 10.2 km (6.3 mi) rail line from Dutton Park to Bowen Hills, which includes 5.9 km (3.6 mi) of twin tunnels under the Brisbane River. The first services are expected to start operating by late 2025.
The William Jolly Bridge— named after William Jolly, the first Lord Mayor of the Greater Brisbane City Council during the construction of the bridge from 1928 to 1932. (So no,  not named after Willem/ William the Jolly Ferry Rider! ).
As bridges over the Brisbane River go, this one is new: the Kurilpa Bridge is a pedestrian and bicycle bridge that opened in 2009.
Here’s the end of my jolly ride, at the South Bank ferry terminal, with the Queens Wharf construction project across the river.

The sun was out in full force today, here in Brisbane in Australia’s Sunshine State
(30 °C/ 86 °F).

I was in the West End where I spotted the ferry at the terminal there. I made a run for it and hopped on.

Friday/ lots of rain 🌧

It was raining today, and I took the No 454 bus from Queen Street Mall that ran out to Indooroopilly* to see some of suburban Brisbane.

*Derived from either the local Aboriginal word nyindurupilli, meaning ‘gully of the leeches’ or yindurupilly meaning ‘gully of running water’ (Source: Wikipedia)

I got off the bus just to go back and take a decent picture— instead of a drive-by picture through the soggy window pane— of the Royal Exchange Hotel at 10 High Street, Toowong. It was constructed in 1886.
The hotel’s pub featured in the 2007 film All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane. In 2013, The Guardian newspaper referred to it as a “cult film” inspired by “a typically Brisbane lament: the departure of people in their late 20s to Sydney, Melbourne, London or New York”.

Thursday/ driving south, to Gold Coast 🏝

It’s a straight shot down south on the M1 Pacific Motorway from Brisbane to Gold Coast. The 110 km/h speed limit equals 68 mph.
The price of gas is roughly equal to what we have in the USA: AUS $1.77 per liter which is USA $4.23 per gallon.
Gold Coast is famous for its surf —and for surfing.
We took the train back from Varsity Lakes the very last stop on the Gold Coast railway line that runs up all the way to Brisbane Airport. Varsity refers to Bond University nearby, and the Lakes is a reference to the swampy terrain around the Nerang River making its way to the Pacific Ocean.
Here comes our train. We boarded and while we were waiting for the train to depart, the station attendant came through and did a perfunctory wipe-down of all the railings inside the train cars. ‘It’s the very last day I’m doing this’, she told us. (It had been a COVID protocol until today).


My sister-in-law and I drove down to Gold Coast this morning.
We had borrowed my niece’s car for a few days and took it back to her.
(The other family car had been shipped from Perth, and word is that it has arrived in Brisbane harbor).

Wednesday/ Story Bridge 🌫

Story Bridge was constructed in 1940 and is the longest cantilever bridge in Australia. It is named after prominent public servant John Douglas Story.

The south end of Story Bridge rests on Kangaroo Point, the tip of a narrow strip of land just east of downtown Brisbane.
There is a promenade around Captain Burke Park, all around Kangaroo Point. I am approaching the Bridge from the southwest.
This is The Rock (1988) by artist Stephen Killick (epoxy paint on concrete). It featured in the World Expo ’88 in Brisbane and was later moved to this location in Captain Burke Park.
I made it down right to the river’s sandy edge, with steps down from the promenade path. Across the water under the bridge, is a microbrewery called Felons Brewing Co.
On the southeast side of the bridge, and looking towards the northwest.
There is a project underway to restore the below-deck steel on the bridge.
I was too tired of walking to walk towards the north over the bridge, so I took the bus! The bus is heading north towards downtown Brisbane.
And here’s the view from the spot where I had a bite to eat. This is the Riverside Ferry Terminal, looking northeast towards the bridge.

Monday/ Central Station

I took the train to the city to check out Brisbane Central Station today.

Here comes my train: the northbound train on the Ferny Grove Line approaching the Park Road Station.
Four stops later gets one to Central Station. There are 6 platforms for the 6 lines that serve the city and its suburbs. I had just stepped off the train.
Inside the main hall of Central Station: a pretty standard train station hallway with information screens, ticket counters and a few places to get something to eat.
The Ann Street entrance and the original 1889 building for the Brisbane Central Station.
St Andrew’s Uniting Church, at the corner of Ann Street and Creek Street. Designed by George David Payne and built in 1905 by Alexander Lind & Son.
Anzac Square & Memorial Galleries is located just across the street from Central Station. This is the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dedicated Memorial Queensland, in honor of First Nations servicemen and women in Brisbane. The memorial is brand new, and was unveiled in May of 2022.
A little further on is Post Office Square with stores and a food hall below street level. The main Australia Post post office is across the street. I endeavored to buy some 2022 issue Australian postage stamps, one set with Australian dinosaurs on and another set of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but they were out of stock on both counts.
These interesting geometric window pane patterns are on the Brisbane Club Tower nearby.
There is coffee everywhere in the city, and a few Starbucks locations as well. I thought Starbucks had withdrawn entirely from Australia, but there are still 50 or so locations in the Brisbane, Melbourne, Gold Coast and Sydney areas.

Sunday/ Queen Street Mall

I took the No 120 bus to the bus terminal under the Queen Street Mall in downtown Brisbane today.

The Queen Street bus terminal is reached by tunnels under the Queen Street Mall. It’s best to check with Google Maps to make sure you wait at the right place! (and Google’s Platform 1-E is the same as Platform 1e on the signs).
There was a flea market on Brisbane Square today. That’s the Treasury Casino and Hotel Brisbane in the distance.
The art deco façade of the 1929 York Hotel was preserved when the Myer Centre at the Queen Street Mall was constructed in 1982.
Another building, that of the Hotel Carlton (constructed 1891), was preserved, along with its beautiful wrought iron railings.
These kangaroos are at the corner of Queen Street and George Street.
Walking along George Street, and looking up at the W Hotel (front, opened in 2018) and The One condo tower (at the back, opened this year).
Looking out from the entrance at the Brisbane Magistrate offices off George Street.
The aluminum and concrete artwork was installed in 2009 and the artist is Daniel Templeman.
The McDonnell & East Ltd Building at 414 George Street is a former department store, and now a heritage-listed building. It was designed by Thomas Ramsay Hall and built from 1912 to 1928 by Andrew Gillespie.
Here’s the Albert Street Uniting Church, holding its own against its concrete and steel neighbors. It was designed by George Addison and built in  1888-89 by Thomas Pearson & Sons.
A pair of kangaroos on King George Square. Mama kangaroo has a joey in her pouch (a baby kangaroo is called a joey). 
Here’s Brisbane City Hall, inaugurated in 1930. The building design is based on a combination of the Roman Pantheon, and St Mark’s Campanile in Venice— and is considered one of Brisbane’s finest buildings.
I made my way back to the Queen Street Mall, standing under a large steel and glass canopy and contemplating if the two colors on the historic old building complement each other well enough.
Here’s a Tesla Model 3 slipping into a parking garage nearby.
I thought BUZINGA might be Australian for Yowza! or something like that. All that a Google search revealed is that Buzinga is a cutting-edge software company in Melbourne.
Here’s a classic Queen Victoria statue, this one keeping watch over the grounds of the Queens Gardens Park. Victoria’s reign of 63 yrs (1837 -1901) has been eclipsed only by the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
Taking a closer look at the Queens Wharf Tower construction project nearby, at 1 William Street. It is scheduled to open in 2023. 

Saturday/ the saga of the lost luggage

Hi sir we are sending a msgs to let you know the progress of your missing luggage unfortunately the number you had provide is unreachable please give us a call 0481011572 .

I made the phone ring off the hook at that number, sent an email back on Friday. No response.
The courier showed up this morning with one bag.

Off I went to the airport, when my phone finally rang. Swissport Baggage Service. They have my other bag, working on a courier that could deliver it between 1 pm and 5 pm.
Well – you’re too late, I said. Your logistics had failed me multiple times. I’m on my way to the airport to retrieve the bag in person.

The TransLink train, departing Park Road Station, after I had stepped off with my luggage in hand.
I love the chromed (?) benches at the station and the simple, straight-forward information station next to it.
Looking down on the station after taking the lift (Australian for elevator) to get me across a set of tracks to the other side of the station.