Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Almost Crying Explained !

Two people have mentioned to me that I didn't explain in my previous blog (Some more Cairns Part 1) why it was that I almost cried.

How does one explain an irrational fear of inanimate and immovable marine objects such as coral?  I have to say that it's not just coral - seaweed freaks me out as well.  I was slightly hesitant of snorkelling, and immediately ruled out the idea of scuba-diving, but I really wanted to do it, as much to say that I had done it as to see what others showed in pictures.  I'm also really glad that I did do it, as it was mostly amazing, and some of the fish were incredibly beautiful.

However... although I was happy floating around when the sea floor was 15 metres below me, and there was no chance of actually touching anything, as soon as we swam over the actual reef and the coral got closer and closer and looked like it would be touchable if I let my legs drop, I started to freak out.

And... suffice it to say I beat a hasty and panicked retreat to the open water, and also found that it is incredibly hard to hyperventilate through a snorkel.  Anyway... Kurt was very sweet, and even though we had paid through the nose to go on a guided snorkel tour with marine biologists in the afternoon, offered to call it a day and not snorkel any more.  Of course, I refused point blank, as if I pay for something, I'm jolly well going to complete it...

The snorkelling tour in the afternoon was good actually.  Kurt held my hand for the duration, and I tried not to hyperventilate when the coral got too close, and I kept looking at the fish, and I managed to enjoy myself.  And I also let Kurt go off snorkelling by himself while I sunbaked on board the platform.    (He went far too far out for me to be comfortable and I felt like running down the stairs to scream to the lifeguards to swim out to rescue him...)

Anyway, that... was that.  Oh and here's another picture to make you all happy.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Some more Cairns Part 3

Having made the previous post almost entirely about one single aeroplane, I am going to move on to the snorkelling.

They say a picture is worth 1000 words, so here we go

I have nothing else to say.

Some more Cairns Part 2

The aforementioned C47 Douglas DC3 under restoration at Mareeba Aerodrome.

Lots of work to be done !!!

Proof that I was there...

There was also a Corsair under restoration but it was barely even a hull, and I didn't feel it worthwhile to take a photo of.

One of the termite hills we passed along the way.  There were a lot of clearer and awesome-er termite hills, however this one was more accessible (despite the risk of snakes in the grass, etc. etc. and cue Kurt jumping around while taking the photo due to standing on an ants' nest...).

Unfortunately, I don't yet have any photos of the banana plantations, but this could come, be warned!

Some more Cairns Part 1

Today, I dropped my good watch 15 metres to the bottom of a coral reef and almost cried.  These two things happened at different times... I did not almost cry over the watch, although it was traumatic as I particularly liked it, and it wasn't exactly cheap (although not hugely expensive either).  However, the good news was that having reported the loss to one of the crew on the platform, and having pointed out the exact location of the fall, one of the divers managed to locate it in the sand, and so it is back on my wrist, tick-ticking away and making me particularly happy.

We're staying at a B&B in Port Douglas which is about an hour's drive north of Cairns.  However, it took us three hours to get there, as we (I) decided it would be a good idea to drive inland to a place that I have kindly named Barramundi, as I find the name impossible to pronounce (apparently it is Yungaburra, I am told).  It took us just over an hour to get there, via impossibly windy roads, which apparently were possible, as we drove them, and made me feel distinctly nauseous.

Along the road, we overtook a freight train, so I took a picture specially for Dad:

It was very interesting actually, as the road was criss-crossed at many times by the train tracks, often announced solely by a sign saying "watch for trains" - of course this was a signal to me to actually watch for trains...

So we stopped on the train tracks to watch for trains.

On the main roads, there were actually flashy red lights to warn you if you a train was coming, although no actual bar thingies to stop you shaking hands with the train.

This picture was taken actually a little further up the road after we stopped in at a little airfield called Mareeba to see an awesome old DC3 - pictures will come in another post, otherwise this one will get far too long.

We stopped at a lake just outside of Barramundi to stretch our legs and de-nauseate ourselves, and met a friendly crocodile.

Apparently it wasn't a crocodile, much to my disappointment.  It had a very big nose, just like crocodiles, and it almost had teeth, but apparently crocodiles don't have feathers or necks quite as narrow.

As it swam into the distance, I (having been chanting "ooh look it's a crocodile!") changed my tune to "where did the crocodile go?  Where did the crocodile go?  The one with the big beak!" to Kurt, somewhat loudly, and an old Australian lady seemed to take offense to this.

"IT'S A PELICAN!" she retorted loudly, and with disgust, not seeming to realise that my eyes weren't quite so bad as to have been unable to distinguish a pelican from a crocodile.

Here he is, in all his pelicanny-gloriousnessity:

So anyway, after the crocodile infested lake, we got to Barramundi, and had lunch in a little Slovakian restaurant.  Fish and chips, which I was expecting to be cod-like, and was actually Spanish Mackerel-like, which I didn't want to eat, so Kurt ate it and I ate his chips.

It is now Wednesday morning, as unfortunately time got away with me, this post was never finished, and here I am, apologetic as always.  And now that I have covered the time lapse, I shall return to the topic of Barramundi.

The little Slovakian restaurant was interesting, with little plastic coffee tables covered in somewhat dingy tablecloths, and bright arrangements of fresh flowers to lighten the mood.  Some tables had roses, others carnations, either way a nice effort.  The restaurant was staffed (and presumably owned) by a Slovakian family - we met the little old lady and the daughter.

After Barramundi, we drove up north towards Port Douglas, which was a gorgeous drive, passing fields of sugar cane, banana palms with their bananas all rolled up in sacks, and countless termite hills.

We stopped on the way to visit the Nut House at The Humpy, and I took a couple of pictures, because I liked it.

 They had loads of different nuts, handmade candies, dried fruits, etc. all from the region and we treated ourselves to Russian Fudge (made in Brisbane), homemade liquorice allsorts (all for me, Kurt doesn't like liquorice) and home-dried mango (haven't tried it yet).

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Day one of my Cairns holiday.  We arrived at the hotel around 1230 and then wandered out along the waterfront to find lunch, stopping afterwards for some Australian-Italian Gelato, which was interesting.

The waterfront has a large enclosed lagoon - in reality a swimming pool - which is similar to the city beach in Southbank (Brisbane) only bigger.

I presume this is to give swimmers a jellyfish, shark and crocodile free option!

After this, we meandered back to the hotel for some R&R by the pool with some cocktails.  Strangely enough, although half the cocktails on the menu contained cranberry juice, the hotel was right out, so I have settled on a (incredibly sour) mojito.  Oh the hardships...

Now mid afternoon, the next question is swimming pool or hot spa pool?  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Flying over Brisbane


Mount Coot Tha on fire

CBD closer

The Brisbane river

The Gateway Bridge - usually cleared for a visual approach "via the Gateway Bridge"

Runway 01! 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Last night I overnighted in Rockhampton at the Travelodge Hotel.

This morning I was woken up at 0430 by the fire alarm.  It actually wasn't as loud as I thought it would be, I guess the actual alarms were in the corridors rather than in the rooms.  I sort of opened my eyes and thought awhile, then grabbed my iphone and checked my Facebook.   Having exhausted all that Facebook had to offer, read various text messages and checked my email, I started to get a little annoyed at all the noise.  Being that I had set my alarm for 0500, the fire alarm was stealing the last valuable few minutes of rest (I'm still bitter).

So I texted the captain:  "I'm not getting out of bed.  &*%^ the fire.  Let me burn."  Although obviously, my grammar wasn't that correct.  He responded "Me too."

See there's the thing.  The fire alarms are regularly going off in the Rockhampton Travelodge, and are now regularly ignored.  (The cabin crew went downstairs to the assembly area.)  One wonders what would happen if there really were a fire, but as the captain pointed out, the building is made of concrete and probably wouldn't burn very well.

After ten endless minutes (yeah I know, they did eventually end) a voice came through on the loudspeaker saying "there is no emergency, please resume your normal activities."  What exactly do they think I would be doing at 0430 in the morning?  And then, approximately thirty seconds after the announcement, and just as I was considering getting off Facebook, the alarm went off again...

I think even the fire service is getting tired of the Travelodge, as they didn't arrive until after the alarms had finally shut up.  Of course, at the stage that they did stop, there was no point going back to sleep, so I stayed on Facebook and then begrudgingly started getting ready for work.

I hope someone Googles the Rockhampton Travelodge and comes to my blog, really, I do, especially as the bedsheets in my room yesterday were used, and very definitely not clean (I took photos) and in general when staying there, I never feel clean.  So sue me.  I have pictures, and a voice memo of the fire alarm noise.

Apparently my blogging is becoming random, but it's hard really to find new things to write about.  This week I got back from Singapore, spent two days off not really doing very much (does cooking and hanging out count?), oh yes I did make rather a nice roast pork meal, complete with roast vegetables, potatoes and gravy, and spent a reserve at Bribie Island on the beach (didn't get called).

Then, yesterday was Thursday, and started disgustingly and inhumanely early at 0330 when I had to go to work.  And that ended in Rockhampton.

Tomorrow, I have a day off, and will probably go grocery shopping, and maybe watch a movie, and then pick up Kurt from his cycling oojit (200km Cycle to Conquer Cancer) and then we're going to go out for dinner (post-cycle treat).

Then Monday, I work.  Tuesday, I work, and terminate in Townsville, Wednesday I come back from Townsville, and Thursday is my yearly line check, and yeah, I guess I might tell you guys how it went, we'll see !

And that's all, folks!  Nothing else to report :)


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Port Hedland.  It's 1730 and already getting slightly chilly ( google weather says it is 28 degrees, but here on the beach front it must be chillier).  It was 31 when we landed and felt decidedly tropical.

See?  Tropical.

The Ibis Styles hotel is probably one of the best in this rural township, but definitely not one of the better ones that I have stayed in.  The room has a distinct scent to it, the floor is a tacky 'wooden' linoleum, and all of the decor is a bit '90's.

The first introduction to Port Hedland was the sparkley runway.  Well I suppose we saw the place from the air too, but being that there is literally nothing here to see... there was nothing to take a photo of either.  I don't know what sort of stone they have over here, but all of the roads (and runway) appear to have glittery mica in them, which is interesting.

The dirt is a rich full red, strangely fascinating how the grass still grows green and in fact all the vegetation looks pretty normal (well, here Eucalyptus and Palm trees are normal, OK?).

We pass signs on the way from the airport such as 'Cyclone Alert Level ----' and 'Fire Hazard Warning' which thankfully pointed to the green low risk sector.  

All of the buildings are low to the ground with low hanging roofs, unlike the Queenlanders I'm used to by now.  The hotel itself is more like a motel, a run of shambly (I don't care if that's not a word, I like it, so it is) buildings and right on the beach front.  It is however quite run down, as I mentioned earlier.


It is now Saturday morning, as dinner and sleep got in the way of my finishing this blog post.  It is now time for breakfast and then off we head on the last leg, so I will leave you with a few random pictures of salt lakes and rocky terrain out of Alice.

First pic is some US military spy station thing, second is a salt lake, third is terrain out of Alice, and fourth is a gold mine called Telfer

Friday, August 9, 2013

Brisbane - Alice Springs

Picture 1 : Brisbane Airport

Picture 2: looks like a large agricultural area, now 120 miles west of Brisbane.

picture 3: I brought my US adapter so that we could charge our iphones in the flight deck - 388 miles west of bne, to the north of Charleville

Picture 4: the Cooper Basin - torrential water comes flooding down from North QLD when there are tropical cyclones etc - 60+ miles wide.  This happens about every 10 years - there is weird marine life with eggs etc that can stay dormant for about 30 years in the dirt, waiting for the next flood when the waters just teem with life.

Picture 5: half way point 532 miles to go to Alice Springs.

6: Windorah- a township of about 20 houses, and a little airstrip.  Round blobs are little islands in the flood plains.  484 miles to ASP.  This area involves lots of drilling, supplying gas to places like Adelaide.  Windorah is where people would fuel up to go further into the GAFA.  Also lots of billabongs (water holes) along the edges of the flood plains.

10: straight lines of nothing stretching into the never never...

And we made it to Alice !!!  1000 miles down (5h block time), 2500 to go! 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

It's been awhile since I last posted.  This is simply a quick update to let any readers I have left know that I am still alive...  I have had a busy week since I arrived home from Singapore, and although I do have some photos still to upload for the blog, I'm not going to be able to get to them for the next few days.

Today is my one and only day off this week, so I went for a nice breakfast with Kurt, and then did all the useful things that one must do when there is only one day off in a week... ie laundry.  Then I studied for an hour, and now I am watching Airplane, because people keep quoting it to me, and it is so long ago since I last watched it that I can't remember most of the lines.

Tomorrow I have to get up at stupid o'clock to do a Rocky Emerald, 0450 sign on and should be finished by about 1500.  Eww.  Then it's pack the bags off to Singapore we go.

And on the subject of Singapore, Saturday starts bright and early, although I don't know where yet (hangar or terminal?) to ferry an aircraft to Singapore for maintenance.  Day 1 we fly Brisbane-Alice Springs-Port Hedland, and day 2 we fly Port Hedland-Singapore.  We're going to be landing at Seletar Aerodrome in Singapore, which is where I did the course I was on, rather than at the main airport (Changi).  Then on Monday, we pax back to Brisbane.

I am going to try to take as many photos as I can during the trip, and hopefully will be able to post them next week along with the remainder of my original Singapore photos!

Sorry for being a lazy and boring blogger, but unfortunately real life has gotten in the way !