Thursday, March 28, 2013


Going Bush With Mark & Vicki

We are just back from a few days at Unka Mark and Aunty Vicki's new place down the south coast. They have bought a block of bushland a few kilometers inland from the coast near Eden and they intend to live there when they retire. At present they take a caravan down when they stay there. It is a very pretty spot with a big clear area on a ridge where they can build a house, a big shed, a garden and a chook pen, and there is lots of forest too. In fact their block is bounded by a State Forest, so there are lots of animals and birds around. We took one special animal down with us. Any "farm" needs a cow, so we took my friend Gracita (pronounced Grass-Eater) down to christen the block. You can see Grassy and I "hanging around" on Aunty Vicki's clothesline; it was fun until somebody spun it. Of course Dad and Unka Mark had to go one better, so they strung a long rope from a tree branch and used a shoe bag and a clamp to make a flying-fox that we could zoom down. That experiment came to a halt when Dad pointed out some spider holes in the ground where they were standing. We think they were wolf spider tunnels. The Old Guys then wandered off into the bush to see what else they could find. I love the block and hope we go down there often.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Castle Hill

The most prominent thing you see in Townsville is a big hill called Castle Hill, right in the centre of town. It is 286 metres high and you can drive right to the top of it, like we did on our way up to Cairns for the eclipse last year. Actually, the settlement was originally called Castletown; it changed its name to Townsville in 1865. You get great views of Townsville from the top of Castle Hill. There are trails that let you walk right around the summit, so you can see the whole city and surrounding country. During WW2 the hill was a communications and observation post with a radar station and lots of searchlights. The remains of some of the buildings are still there. In the background of the bottom picture you can see Magnetic Island. You can learn a bit more about that island from my earlier posts.

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A Real Dragon

Here's a real dragon. It is an Eastern Water Dragon, called that because these critters live all along the east coast of Australia, they live near water, and they are part of the dragon family of lizards. They like to laze away on branches of trees that hang out over the water. When they get scared they jump into the water and swim down to the bottom until the scary thing has passed. They can stay under water for almost 30 minutes! Actually, they scare lots of people who are walking along the river bank or canoeing near shore. They grow to be fairly big, nearly 1 metre long, and a lizard that size suddenly zipping past your head is pretty scarey. This one was sunning himself near the pool at the apartment we stayed in at Brisbane for the astronomy conference last year. He wasn't scared of people or small bears at all.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013



One day while I was wandering around "Voyager of the Seas" I found what looked like a treasure cave. Wow! Maybe Blackbear the Terrible hid his horde there.Through a big glass panel in the floor I could see gold bars, coins, diamonds, pearls and precious stones.I called the Oldies to come look and guess what? It was all fake stuff. It turns out that the "treasure cave" was at the entrance to the casino. Casinos are places where some people try to make money by giving theirs to the management. I don't understand how that could possibly work, but lots of people try it. For me, the most interesting things in the casino were the gold and silver ladies with wings. They are just the right size to carry small bears while they fly around the place, not that they were doing much flying while I was there :)

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Cruise Surprises

You meet some interesting strangers while cruising. How about Puss in Boots, my movie hero? He was the last critter that I would have expected to meet on "Voyager of the Seas", but there he was, along with the cast of Shreck and Madagascar. Talk about a surprise! Puss is a lot bigger than I thought he would be, and had the usual cat reflexes, so I had a bit of a job getting away from him after this photo was taken. I would probably have ended up as lunch if the Oldies hadn't been there. The other surprise was the train I found in the gardens at Dunedin while we were on a shore trip. Look closely at the photo and you will see me in the wreath just below the polar bear, and if you look really hard you can spot Santa through the window. A Santa train, that's a real surprise.

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