In nominating me for this challenge, Ju-Lyn has helped me realise how narrow my travel interests are. I have visited the same countries over five times. You can deduce from this that I am quite in love with them.
I have nominated Ushashita, who kindly volunteered to join the challenge to post ten days of travel photos, no explanation and nominate other bloggers with each post.
How could I not? It would soon be time to leave and the Wellington wind wasn’t giving up, no matter how hard I wished it would stop. Gusting at around 48 knots, it had been howling for most of the night, breaking my sleep and leaving me anxious for the day ahead. Adding to my anxiety was the knowledge that I had to catch the morning ferry across the notorious Cook Strait, to the South Island of New Zealand.
We were due to sail on Arahura Inter-islander, from Wellington to Picton, that takes passengers from the bottom of the North Island of New Zealand to the tip of the South Island. Not that far, in terms of distance, but far enough given the awful weather and a ferry crossing synonymous with wild seas.
The first ferry of the morning had been completely cancelled, due to the deteriorating weather conditions, so when I arrived at the Aotea Quay, I glanced at the sign describing the 10 am sailing conditions, as ‘HEAVY,’ and gulped.
Would we survive this, I pondered as we loaded our bags onto the check-in counter? Was it too late to change our minds?
The weather seemed okay for the minute, moored in the protected expanse of Wellington’s harbour, but the foreboding words of my cousin’s husband, rang loudly in my ears, “You’ll be okay for the first hour!” he’d declared, the previous night.
Eek! It was a three hour journey.
Nevertheless, we headed on board and explored a bit of the boat; the apparently jovial mood of the fellow passengers, infectious. None appeared overly worried about sailing conditions. As I perused the various seating areas, keen to find a seat with views of the ocean, I spotted a bar, several bars in fact, and noted it was well patronised by various male patrons.
Did people really drink alcohol, when the sea promised to get rough? I thought.
The ferry wasn’t a small boat; in fact, it housed a large cafeteria style kiosk, souvenir shop and a full scale cinema. The thought of watching a movie in the dark, whilst the ship was being tossed around in Neptune’s domain like a top, was more terrifying for me than being thrown overboard! Instead, we settled on a window seat, on the lower passenger deck, watching the cars and trucks drive nonchalantly into the vessel’s nether regions.
I noticed the build sign informed all, who took interest, that the ferry had been built in the Danish town of Aalborg. Good Danish design was reassuring. The Vikings were used to storms at sea, weren’t they? Even so, I couldn’t help but check the state of the weather, again, and how many life rafts the ship had – just in case. I tried to avoid looking to the horizon which still confirmed a bad storm was approaching. Darn.
But the little girl was happy. What an adventure, she innocently thought posing for the camera. Unfortunately, she was about to change her mind.
When the Captain’s voice crackled over the loud speaker, welcoming passengers aboard, he warned us our crossing would get, “a bit rough out there,” once we were in the open sea. In fact, he said, it was “blowing a gale and we should expect 8 – 10 metre waves.”
Good Lord, I thought, muffling a gasp, this was a bit different to an afternoon outing on the bay, home in Australia.
The swell became heavier, waves crashing over the bow, winds had increased and the boat started listing to and fro like a inflatable toy in a baby’s bath. At times, the hull would rise up in to the air before slamming down hard, against the waves so loudly I feared it would surely break in two. Terrifying.
The passengers who had been enjoying a tipple at the bar filed hurriedly past us towards the rear of the boat, looking a tad green around the gills.
Glass and bottles crashed to the floor while the crew stumbled around handing out ice chips to anxious passengers, including said daughter. She was terrified, vowing never ever to go on a boat again. I decided to move upstairs with her. A dangerous move I would not repeat again.
Have you ever tried to climb the metal stairs of a ship, holding a seven year old securely around the waist, a heavy back pack strapped to your back, (which changes one’s centre of gravity completely), whilst simultaneously opening one of those heavy metal doors the ships have to hold back the water, in the event the boat sinks. You know the ones with the metal ring you turn on them? What are they called?
All this and also protect your daughter from being squashed in said door, as the boat listed to and fro, swinging the heavy door open and shut. I had no wish to have my fingers and toes severed by the wildly swinging chunk of metal.
I daren’t go out on deck to take a photo, as I was fearful I’d be thrown overboard by the violent metronome like lurches of the vessel. In those seas, I would not stand a chance of survival.
This was the last photos I snapped through a crack in the outside door. It was a difficult job to hold the door open and not be slammed in the back with it when the boat listed in the opposite direction. I would not be taking any more photos.
Taking the photo did however, momentarily take my mind off my stomach which was doing its best impression of a cirque de soleil trampoline specialist.
IWith no more photos to take and my time spent reassuring my daughter it was all fine and dandy, I phoned my husband, (the Moth), back in Australia, to say goodbye, in case we didn’t make it to the South Island. He laughed at me over the phone – encouragingly so though, as he was positive that we would prevail.
I reminded him of the Wahine disaster. He scoffed. It would have been quite a different matter, if he was in situ beside me on that ferry, I assure you!
Just when I thought I was going to have to re-visit those eggs I’d eaten for breakfast, a second time around, I spotted the heads of Queen Charlotte Sound and the angry sea began to simmer considerably, the closer we got. We were going to make it.
I had never been so glad to see land.
Amazingly so – it was completely calm on the other side of the heads!
And the two sounds are really stunning.
Our disembarkation port of Picton, was in sight. We had survived a horror ferry ride.
To this day, I cannot watch a movie with a plot centered around a ship capsizing or battling stormy seas. I just cannot.
Next time I would fly into the South Island.
Have you ever experienced a frightening ride, where you feared for your life?
There are more similarities between people from diverse cultures than there are differences. We can learn so much from each other if we keep an open mind.
Amanda Mac – Forestwood
Benefits of Writing a Blog
One of the best things about blogging is that it is not limited by geographical boundaries.
Unless you are new to The Home by the Sea , or my primary blog, S.t.P.A, you’ll more than likely know that I live down ‘under,’ at the ‘bottom end’ of the world. Down here in Australia, we can sometimes feel the tyranny of distance isolating us, from the rest of the world and a different time zone doesn’t help to foster good communications, at all.
Yet, the blogger community with its members spread across the globe, are a wonderfully diverse group. As an Australian blogging offers me the chance to expand my perspective, to hear and share different opinions and thoughts, that I’d otherwise not have been exposed to, and to feel the rest of the world is just that little bit closer, all without leaving my desk.
Yet it is still a virtual world, isn’t it?
Meeting other Bloggers
Thus, when an opportunity arises to meet another blogger, I am pretty keen. Previously, I had met Inekewhen travelling in New Zealand, and both of us were surprised to find that, although we originated from different backgrounds, the connection we felt towards each other was surprisingly strong. A similar meeting with Lorelle, in Melbourne, confirmed blogger friends are often on a very similar wavelength.
But did I know Catherine from Cyranny’s Cove, well enough for us to click? I knew little of her life in Canada, even though I had followed her blog for some time. Cyranny was coming all this way to Australia and visiting Brisbane, so I was super keen not to miss the opportunity to chat i.r.l. to another blogger and furthermore, to someone who loves Denmark, as much as I do. In fact, that is how I discovered Cyranny’s blog – browsing the wordpress reader for posts on Denmark, (as I sometimes do)!
Cyranny’s time here was short, and we were hampered in communications by Australia’s unfortunately medieval internet networks, so it wasn’t so easy to find time to meet. Especially since I have recently moved some 30 km away from the city, to the Home by the Sea, but eventually we settled on a time and date and met for breakfast in the city.
This year, Australia has experienced an extremely hot summer and with the fallout from the recent natural disasters of bushfire and floods, I was relieved to hear Cyranny and her partner tell me they had been lucky enough not to have their travel plans disrupted and had in fact, reached the chosen destinations without major hiccups, even experiencing some “up close and personal,” encounters with our unique wildlife that some Australians have not yet had for themselves. That was fun to hear.
Meeting Cyranny ended up feeling like I was having coffee with an old friend – the conversation was easy and comfortable and we settled down to enjoy breakfast, with the added bonus of a nice outlook over the Brisbane River.
Although our writing allows us to enjoy interacting with a completely different blogger set, we do share similar enjoyment in keeping our blog, and I found it so very interesting hearing her thoughts on Australia and the fun things they both had experienced, along the way.
Brisbane’s Sights and Attractions
As it is February in Brisbane, the year’s absolute worst month for heat and humidity, we then took a very warm, but pleasant walk along the riverside walkways and through the city’s Botanic gardens.
With the humidity rising rapidly, seeking out the shady colonnades of flowering Bougainvillea vines, at South Bank, seemed like a sensible idea.
I dutifully highlighted various points of interest, along the way: including the State Parliament building, a remnant of French Renaissance sophistication in the antipodes, the two Universities, the famous “City Beach”, and more importantly on a hot summer day, the New Zealand Ice Cream stand, with the totally awesome and weirdly named ‘Hokey Pokey,’ Ice Cream flavour. If you haven’t yet discovered Hokey Pokey, you are really missing something!
Being the local, I also suggested they might like to consider a ride on the City Cats, (Public Catamarans Boats), that traverse the river that night, in order to visit Eat Street – an open air eatery upriver, at Hamilton. Eat Street comprises 180 or more stalls, all serving multi-national cuisine from modified ex-shipping containers. Along with music and twinkling lights, it is a unique experience for dinner on a hot summer night, in Brisbane and I thought might be fun for my Canadian friends.
They were also keen to visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary – somewhat of a mandatory obligation when you visit Brisbane, as it is one of the few places operating since 1927, where tourists can get to hold a koala and hang out with the kangaroos and wallabies. I don’t want to divulge too much more about that, as Cyranny will no doubt tell you more when she arrives back home.
I was a little sad to wave goodbye so soon to Cyranny and her partner, but they had a date, to keep, with a koala. I wish them safe travels back to their home. I do hope they know they are welcome at our Home by the Sea.
Have you met any other blogging friends? How was your experience? Did you find many commonalities?
Would you like to come for a walk along the beach with my dog and me?
I like to be up early in the morning. It is a magic time down on the beach. This is the entry to the beach at Redcliffe, Australia.
As you might have suspected, it is called Redcliffe for the red colour of its cliffs. Unfortunately, they are not really visible at this point and we’re walking in the other direction today.
Are you okay to negotiate the stairs?
This part of the beach is popular with shore fisherman. The gentlemen on the right had just caught a stingray after the photo was taken. He then cut off the hook and kicked the stingray back into the water with his bare foot. The ray seemed fine with its ordeal, as it swam enthusiastically away. I suppose its take away from the experience was a small breakfast of fisherman’s bait.
Some of the houses, fronting the shore, have magnificent views towards the ocean, although some are showing their age. They may be weathered and beaten by the elements but are still standing strong, much like most of the trees.
Until that is, the Council might decide the tree must be cut down.
I am unsure of the reason for the lopping of this tree as it was massive. I recall it being a Moreton Bay Fig, which blogger Margaret mentioned just the other day. One major concern is the stability of the bank, once the roots are removed.
I love that some of the staircases are equipped for bicycles, or kayaks on wheels. Not that I would be riding down there. It looks far too steep for my skills.
I continued on for another 500 metres or so.
The recent summer storms have taken a toll on this old cottonwood tree. I think the Council will try to salvage this one.
The walk along the beachfront here is special becuase there’s a fantastic feature tree further along that forms a Tree Tunnel. This is the first time I have ever seen a warning sign saying: Beware – Low Tree Branches.
Watch your head as you walk underneath.
It is low.
I had to bend my head down and my husband says I am part ‘Hobbit’.
At this point, we decided to turn back to our starting destination exiting back through the tree ‘cave.’
The perfect frame for the distant container ship on the horizon. The water between Redcliffe and Moreton Island forms a major shipping lane to the port of Brisbane.
We took a detour on the way back inorder to check out a nice cafe we spotted on the way up. After all, isn’t it a tradition of Jo’s Walks that the walk ends with cake?
Captain Cook and Whitby Abbey
History buffs might want to pay attention to this part of the walk. The smaller rock to the left is a piece of the ruins of the Abbey at Whitby, England. Whitby was the home of Captain James Cook, the first Englishman to chart the East Coast of Australia. The larger rock commemorates Captain Cook’s Journey past this point, way back, in 1770.
From this point, maintaining a southerly direction will find you at a Sunday Market adjacent to a long cafe and shopping street complete with modern pier and jetty, where you will find many more fisherman.
Here is what it looked like in years gone by:
The town’s name originates from “Red Cliff Point” named by the explorer Matthew Flinders, referring to the red cliffs at Woody Point.Redcliffe was originally the site of the first penal colony in Queensland. It was discarded when the colony moved further inland and slowly it evolved as a small seaside retreat north of Brisbane until the construction of the Hornibrook bridge which linked Brighton, an outer Brisbane suburb, to the Redcliffe peninsula.