Around the World 17 Australia

February 2nd
We left the disappointment of Surfer’s Paradise behind and climbed through some forests heading uphill and ended up in Binna Burra in the Lamington National Forest. It is much cooler and such a contrast to the seaside. We are staying at the Binna Burra Guest Lodge which is very rustic , much as it was 100 years ago and the showers and toilets are shared but you don’t mind because the forest is so great. The whole area was formed by a massive volcanic explosion from Mt. Warning which we should have climbed when we were further down the coast. It would be a very long drive from here. We took a guided walk in the hot afternoon to see some caves and the subtropical forest which is full of many varieties eucalyptus trees. There has been an eight year drought and they are taking over the forest as other trees die. We saw an interesting “strangling fig” which grows over the tops of other trees. Also saw a type of tree that lives to be over 1000 years old. The massive one we saw was about 400 years of age. There was a nice lady on the walk who had actually stayed in an apartment near Nation in Paris which is near to where we live.
There was a very nice man in the garden at the Lodge who showed me a bee hive full of tiny stingless bees that he maintains. He showed me a small container with a years worth of honey extracted from the hive with a syringe which he said was good for sores and cuts. He had other hives of Italian bees as well. He later removed a huge spider from our room. It is very buggy up here-lots of flying insects and spiders. We had lunch at a nearby cafe but, because they wanted $38 for a buffet dinner at the lodge, we drove down to a small town to eat in a funky place at a hotel looking like an old restaurant in England with gambling machines, a busy bar, and a photo of Queen Elizabeth on the wall. The dinner was good. We returned to the lodge and found that it gets deliciously cool here at night.
Febraury 3rd
Due to the early light and the noise of birds, I was up at 5:30 AM. We had breakfast in the dining room with huge windows over-looking the land. Then we did one of the short walks called Bellbird. It went into the rain forest and we saw several pandymelons, not wallabies, as we had been calling them. They are tiny kangaroos. We saw a great view over-looking a valley and headed towards a clearing where we were asked if we wanted to try a ride on the flying fox. You get into a harness and ride along a cable high above the ground. It was alot of fun. We saw some wild turkeys while there which very brazenly (or cheekily, as they say here) tried to get into some food on a table. So we checked out. This is one place we should have stayed at longer.
Then, on a huge eight lane highway, which is the first one we have seen on Highway One, we drove into nearby Brisbane. The city is near the coast and also lies on a river. It’s a huge modern city, very clean but so hot and humid I had trouble enjoying walking around. I’ve never seen so many well-dressed people, especially the women. I think they come close to the fashionable people in Paris as far as style and panache. We did board a free bus with a/c for a ride around the city which helped and ended up on the very nice riverwalk which was nice and wide with restaurants with terraces and an extra wide area for walking and riding bikes. It was one of the best planned river walks I’ve ever seen. After a movie in air condtioned comfort we returned to our hotel on the River Cat, a ferry that makes stops along the river. It’s a nice way to see some of Brisbane. It was especially wonderful at night as they turned out the lights and the boat zipped along in near darkness under the stars looking at the channel markers in the dark water.
As Maurice remarked, Australia is a very young country as far as European occupation goes. there are few buildings built earlier than the mid to late 80’s. Every city seems very new and modern and it seems much like America. Many places reminded me of California both in style and in being environmentally conscious with lots of water conservation, lots of outdoor living. There are more people here with degrees in ecology than anywhere else in the world.

The rustic lodge of Billa Burra. We really enjoyed our time here and wished we had been here at night when they do night tours with flashlights to see all of the nightlife that comes out. I did see a really huge bat in the evening fly overhead.

The sun rising through the eucalyptus trees.

View of the valley after a walk through the rain forest.

This is me on the flying fox. It’s hard to tell what it is and hard to photograph. It was originally built to haul up luggage to the lodge when the road didn’t go all the way up. The lodge was carried up in pieces for miles through the forest and rebuilt where it is today. There are some rooms with bathrooms. We just didn’t happen to get one.