Sunday, October 05, 2008

Aussie Adventures Blog #6

Aussie Adventures Blog #6

Well I’m now sitting at home in Nelson, I had a great trip in Queensland. The last couple of weeks were in the far north around Cairns. In the Mossman area I visited my glass blowing friends Ola and Marie Hoglund, thanks so much guys for the hospitality, such an interesting area for plants and animals.
I thoroughly recommend house sitting, those last 2 weeks mixing it with the tourists and backpackers in Cairns is not really my scene any more!
Still a little weird for me to see people having a beer outside the pubs at 9.30am!

Mark Culleton, with the Qoull on the esplande, surrounded by tourists, a fair dinkum Australian ...Mate! Both of them!

Going out to the great Barrier Reef has quite a few different options…… you can go the fast way.....

or the slow way…….

Guess which I chose?
Yup..... the slow way, on a Chinese Junk
The Low Isles is formed by the coral, making it one of the few like this and therefore unique in its structure. Snorkeling out there amongst the turtles, fish coral and other tourists, was a lot of fun! Apparently crocodiles sometimes do make it out to the reef & sharks are also fairly common! I swam in unison for 30 seconds with a 2 foot long turtle, but mostly in awe, with my nose on the Coral.
With all the tourist activity the fish are pretty tame, although they do have strict rules around no feeding and no standing on the living reef!

This one's called Elephant ear coral (obviously)

Back in Cairns shifting backpackers regularly in search of sleep, there’s heaps of em, I attended a barbeque which had Crocodile, Kangaroo and Emu on the Barbie..... Mate, but I chose the vegetarian option, preferring not to eat something that could eat me!

Cairns's first International Busking festival, was well attended, although in talking to the buskers afterwards, their feedback was, that it was hard working up the crowd to participate. I particularly liked the Irishman Patrick (in chains) and Wacky Chad (Pogo stick, unicycle) both slick operators, who improvised a lot on the spot!

On the Cairns Esplanade, a great place for walking, viewing the local birds feathered and otherwise, and the signs like below.
Achtung… Crocodiles inhabit this area, Attacks may cause injury or you've been warned!!! Also watch out for ferocious skateboarders, scooter fanatics and practicing cocktail waiters (tricks with the shakers).
Walking past all the ultra modern and huge tourist boats, I spotted a replica of the Duyfken, The Dutch ship that landed on Cape York Peninsula in 1606.
Looked really authentic….apart from its location in the Cairns Marina!
As a budding muso , it’s not everyday I come across a three story music shop full of goodies.
This is part of the range of drum symbols at Buzz Music!
A guitarists dream on two floors, not sure if they had a sound proof room……probably! Oh to visit such a shop with an unlimited budget and time to indulge!
Back on the Waterfront, the Cairns Festival certainly went out with a Fizz and a Bang, out over the lagoon.

Well 3 months in Queensland comes to a close, I hope you enjoyed reading my blogs half as much as I did, because, you would have had a “Ripper of a time” Mate’s…..........Now it’s back to normality….whatever that is……..

Already planning the next Orebro next to Cortona?

Live like there's no tomorrow, if you don't wake's happened!


Monday, September 29, 2008

Aussie Adventures Blog #5

Aussie Adventures Travel Blog #5

Well I’ve been slow in getting this next Blog up, difficulty in getting a good regular internet connection didn’t help. However I’ve been in some great places and met allot of amazing people. Once again I’ve added an audio file (this time shortened down to a more listenable length)
Yungaburra is 1 hour inland from Cairns on the Atherton Table lands at 820m above sea level. I stayed right on the edge of the rainforest which was teaming with wildlife, many birds, insects, frogs, butterflies, wallabies, kangaroos and snakes. Australia is full of poisonous creatures and plants, so I was rather wary keeping to the roads and regular walkways.

This is maybe why I seemed to be fascinated by some of the road signs like the ones below!
The wild life on my daily dog walks around Yungaburra is fantastic, with many recordings of birds, frogs, always something to see, or to listen to.
Mareeba only 40 minutes away by car, had its 10th Multi Cultural Festival, while I was there, the variety in foods and music impressive. For a small country area, this event was mostly very good quality.

This area (the Tablelands), is a plateau about 800m high & grows everything from wine, sugar cane to go with the coffee & tea. Tropical fruits and abundant wildlife including all manner of snakes, spiders and wonderful creepy crawlies, even the winters around here never get frosts with some days pushing 27 deg in September.

With the odd bike ride around the district Madi & I found these tame Brahman cattle, with skin like velvet.
I managed to find the beautiful Wrights Road Creek within easy walking distance (a little known track down to the river), spending lovely afternoons playing my sax down there in the rainforest. Pretty sure I saw a Platypus down there....the photos don’t do it justice!
Many highlights of my time on the tablelands, and it will be the sights and sounds of the environment. Interestingly the people in the tropics seem to retire for the day around 8-9pm.

The "Weather Board" below I spotted at the local Mareebra market.

I'm told the Kookaburras can take little chickens and are as bold as the sounds they make!

After nearly three weeks in the Rainforest, I went inland from Herberton looking for a flavour of the outback and found something like it (although I think I would have needed to go a further 100 klms to really sample the outback). I only saw one other car on this road and managed to chat to the occupants, a couple of NZ dairy farmers on holiday in their off season!

Colourful sunrises and sunsets are not (in my opinion) as common as in NZ, infact the light is very soft and clarity is hazy.

I enrolled in Cairn's first Busking Competition and within 10 minutes of registering and having a blow, was asked if I had a permit, that's it hanging of my sax strap. I'll tell you how the Busking Festival and competition went in the final blog of this Aussie Adventure...

Blog # 6 will follow promptly.......cheers mates


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Aussie Adventures Blog #4

I’ve added more audio files to this blog. They will run for 15 minutes to finish. Click the little grey square below the S in the word MUSIC at the top to stop the audio player.

Well my adventures continue, this last couple of weeks, Christine was visiting for 8 days, which got us out and about visiting markets, beaches and events at the “Brisbane 08 Festival” Here’s some notes from my diary:

Up at 6 am left for Eumundi craft fair inland from Noosa at Eumundi. Put $75 worth of petrol into Dom’s Range Rover and only just over half filled it. The Eumundi Market is a good one, well worth the visit. Bought a whistle from the strolling Frenchman, four types of whistle, Bird, Kookaburra, duck and cat (he’s coming up in the audio).

Mesmerized by Paul Thorley on the “Cigar Box” Delta Slide blues Guitar, and talked to Fleur his partner all about them, here is the link to his site

and returned to the Strathpine Station, heading into Brisbane.
Where I stood........... and said.....
We caught the train to Yeronga where we saw the last hour of the “Into Africa” Event, fantastic! I danced, photographed and recorded the last band Musiki Manjaro.
As you can see by the photos, I was stuck by the beauty of the African race, lovely energy, fantastic hair and so charming, I seized the opportunity to photograph at close quarters as we danced to the happy, joyful music.
We caught the train into Town to have tea with a friend, we watched the All Blacks beat Australia 31-10 in Auckland in the Regatta Pub on the corner of Coronation Drive and Sylvan street. Interesting toilets in the gents, one way glass on the urinal. (strange feeling watching others walk by as one does one’s business!) Later in the week I interviewed Xavier Minali for the first interview of “The SaxMan Podcast”. This went very well, a really nice guy, full of passion for the sax and fresh from his America trip, we got on well. After the interview he played the piano while I jammed on Autumn Leaves. He’s written a great blog about his trip, here the link to it!
Waited for 20 minutes for the train and played my sax on the platform, it always amazes me when people put money into my case…’s a gift, in more ways than one! Queensland Public Library, (different from the Queensland State Library, just across the river) is another massive new building, with a very distinctive shape and windows at slanted angles. The books are returned onto a conveyor belt. You can watch the bar code being read and see the books be filed away automatically. I’ve never seen libraries being used so much (might be the wireless broadband internet connection and all the free events/lectures they run? )
This is in the Queensland State library, reminds me of seeing people in Lotus position, while in an internet cafe in Bali.
How's this! A beautiful polished stainless steel handrail down to the beach at Bribie Island.......Awh I love walking along beaches....relaxing, feeling expansive and reflective.
Back in Brisbane walking around with my Sax over my shoulder looking for a busking spot. Fellow buskers Nick (6 string guitar bassist) and Ben (Conn tenor sax) invited me to join them which I did (not so successful couldn’t really follow, as these two young guys are Jazz Course grads and very fluent with there material. They start busking at 7am and play till after 9am. I had a great chat with them and followed them to a cafĂ© for their breakfast. More good recording material. Here is their web site

Went to the Griffiths University Conservatorium Library, a brilliant place, selected material I wanted to copy out of their Saxophone Section and spent about 1 hour copying and learning all about the copy machines.

Yeah right.....Child a major problem, and Maccas, is a problem everywhere.The Ibis birds are quite a tourist attraction, as they scavenge from the food cafe's leftovers on Brisbane's South Bank.

Later in the day just before heading home I revisited Ben & Nick’s busking spot near Central Station. I started playing near another busker (Terry) and he came over for a chat, saying, if you set up near another busker, you "give em some distance mate!", he was ok about it, offering to let me blow while he had a rest, I chatted to him. He says he can earn $100 on a good Friday night and $200-300 on weekends, starts at 6am and goes till mid morning then another break and starts again around 4.30pm and goes into the night often finishing at 3 am or later. As far as I could see, he only rattles a tambourine, Hari Krishna Style, so how he gets $200-300 in a weekend amazes me! I have left the Warner house sit, thanks Dom and Cathy and returned to my first house sit near Beenleigh where Louise and Jonathan have very kindly invited me to stay for a week till I fly up to Cairns next week for the third house sit. This one is in the mountains inland from Cairns, where I look after 2 dogs, 8 chickens, & 10 goats. Should be fun as Madi our friend, the mad Swiss cyclist will join me in Yungaburra.
She has already biked the 1800 km + north from Brisbane, camping most of the way, so I'm sure I will have plenty to report on, for Blog # 5.

So till then B good and stay safe Mate, ….awh Mate, ….Maate, ………Maaa-ate!