Australia, part 4: Crikey!
Trip Start Jan 16, 2007
32Trip End Aug 20, 2007
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Feeling that we had, perhaps, got everything useful out of Byron, we continued up the coast to a random two horse town called Murwillumbah. If ever you wanted an antithesis to somewhere like Byron, then Murwillumbah would be it. The cinema only opens for a couple of days per week, and shows films about six months behind the rest of the world
A seems to befit some of our more energetic endeavours, the weather was not as ideal as it could have been. Basically, Mt Warning is not known as the 'cloud former' for nothing. Though the climb up was pretty easy (given that we didn't have huge packs, and the whole thing was about 8km for the round trip), the last 200 metres involved a near vertical scramble up rocks. Of the spectacular view that we were told we'd get, we saw about 20 seconds of it through breaks in the cloud. Otherwise, I was exceedingly impressed at how uniform the view was. All rather white really. Whilst at the top, an Australian couple asked whether we'd seen the snake on the path on the way up. Um, no. Not a thing. We did come across it on the way down, but it was nothing interesting (ie venemous) - just a carpet python that would have just looked more annoyed than it was if you'd gone to talk to it
Not only did we find out why Mt Warning is called the 'cloud former', but why a rainforest (in which most of the mountain was covered) is called a rainforest. To say that is rained would be an understatement. It was as though you had a power shower following you down the hill. It was here that I was exceedingly pleased that I'd got a decent waterproof before I left home. Mike, however, was not as fortunate, as he had not brought one and had to use an exceedingly old poncho from the hostel that lost any waterproof qualities a long time ago.
From Murwillumbah we continued our 'road trip' (of sorts) up the coast. The coast from here up has names presumably meant to be as evocative as possible, with town names to match. the lower part is the 'Gold Coast', whilst the part above Brisbane is the 'Sunshine Coast'. Nice. Unable to really avoid the tourist hot-spots (without an exceedingly long trip inland) we stopped at another rather non-descript place, Coolangatta. The hostel location was choice - between the freeway and the airport for the region. Not much really happens here apart from beach and waves. However, it's not as bad as the aptly named 'Surfers Paradise'. I am sure, perhaps in 1900, that it would have been a surfers paradise, but with the amount of high rise apartments and chain food outlets (along with a beach that is made up of sand pumped up from the sea floor) you could quite easily be in Miami Beach or anywhere on the Costas
The main attraction of Brisbane for me was to do some research (cool, I know) into a family connection we had there. After phoning home and finding out who the bloke actually was (had a surname to begin with, which does not get you too far), I spent an exceedingly interesting day in the main state library researching. I could have easily spent another couple of days there, but the archives were shut the next day, and we were due to leave Brisbane the day after. However, I have found out lots of info which should help answer quite a few questions. I'm going to put all this together when I can get to a computer that actually has Word on it, so it may be a few months. Briefly though, here's what I found out:
James Gibbon, who married Emma Lamb, was born in Kettering in 1819. He arrived in Victoria in 1852, and Brisbane in 1860. He was a property speculator before becoming a member of the Legislative Council. He died in 1888 in London, and when he died he had become one of the colony's wealthiest early pioneers. His estate in England was valued at around 250,000 pounds, and his Queensland estate one was of unknown size to the writers of the articles I read
This is a hugely simplified version of what I've found, and when I've written it all up, I'll send a copy to anyone who wants one.
Whilst at Brisbane we went over to Moreton Island, one of the biggest sand islands in the world, and messed aroudn there. Nothing much to report from there apart from there was lots of sand, water, and some wrecks that were purposefully scuttled to create a habitat for fish etc.
If you've heard of Steve Irwin, you'll probably be aware that he also ran a zoo called Australia Zoo. Possibly one of the best, if not the best zoo I've ever been to, it is eay to see why it is so popular. The enthusiasm/nut-case mentality (depending on how you look at it) of Irwin has rubbed off on his staff, and they jump around the place, feeding jumping salt water crocodiles, venemous snakes and, rather less life-threatening, koalas, elephants, and anything else that is either endangered or fluffy
From where we are now (Noosa, quite a bit north of Brisbane), our next port of call is Fraser Island (the world's biggest sand island) where we're going on a 4*4 safari/trip thing, which should be awesome. The weather's still pretty warm, but that's not always a bad thing. It may be a bit colder when we go to New Zealand though...