Category Archives: Water

Bridges 11

untitled (297)Burdekin River near Ayr at Homehill. Water, Ayr and Home, I am sure poets would do something with that offering. This is a covered bridge like used to be in Nabiac. Being that this is the dry season we have seen more sand than water in many of the other rivers, but this one is major and full.

Over Johnstone River coming into Cairns. Joseph Mcavoy Bridge. I finally get a pen and paper to preserve the name. Some indications that he may have been a keeper of the bridge from sugar cane growing areas in late 1800s. But this could just be someone with the same name. Other noteworthy items include crocodile sightings upstream and that major road works are happening. No surprise on the croc thing, it’s close to the coast, wide and with mangrove banks.untitled (300)

Same, same over Mulgrave River, also coming into Cairns, near Gordonvale. This time named for a Desmond Tranamore. This time I am able to google that he was a police officer, killed in the line of duty in 1964, at the cost of $48 million this girder bridge replaced the low-set bridge, at an increase height of some 5m. Understandably many of these bridges used to flood in the wet season, people in the early 1970s used to say, ‘if someone spits upstream the Bruce Highway floods’, things have improved since I lived in Brisbane with my first husband.

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Lucky not in flood for us.

Over the Barron River multiple bridges. We crossed this river in Kurunda, Mareeba and Malanda. Each bridge equally as impressive with height between water and roadway. I think they have floods up here. We were both on the Captain Cook highway and on the way into Freshwater for these crossings.

Over the Annan River Bridge and causeway – Near Keatings lagoon. Kakadu like wetlands. Labeled with a “Big Annan Bridge” sign, but is really an old ‘pick a plank’ wooded construction with roadway covering. The car jerks across, with us wondering what would happen if the tyres get caught in a gap? The causeway has a chasm at the top of some falls, and is made of sections of concrete. We are really heading in the beyond.

Before Palmer River Roadhouse North of the Bverstown Range and lookout. Workmen and stock the only other moving things.

FAr north queensland
Called a development road , heading towards Cooktown on the inland sealed road.

Rollo Gallop Bridge was it a gully or waterway? Rivers in this area flow into the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Palmer River. While we make an effort to get a view of the bridge and river we are chased by the Road House owner who is wondering what us city drongos are up to wandering about with backpacks. “yar not going bush walkin, are yars?’

The river has steep sides with minimal water, but flood flotsam is in the trees. WA registered caravan waits while we cross (The bridge is only single lane.) In the roadhouse is a museum filled with tales of people and how they traversed the river and travelled in past decades.

Near palmer River road house
Even this river can flood.


Launceston Pool

More Swimming Pools

A short and sweet category that was meant to match our experiences with the hot pools of New Zealand, but somehow faded off. These are a few of our noteworthy 2014 experiences. We have had some unique place in which to submerge.

Redcliffe Lagoon. On a clear day you can see the towers of Redcliffe from Bribie. It’s the departure point for the ferry to Morton Island (another Queensland sand island), strong triathlon club, used to be serious working class, now due to bayside status going more up-market. This pool complex is in the South Bank style. Plenty of features which make it look as if Redcliffe was built first. Lots of deep water areas. Kiddies play area all clean-treated water.

Redcliffe Pool
Redcliffe pool, yes there is a waterfall

Lake Mackenzie. A perched lake, not one with Perch there-in, but sitting above compressed sand. The base has been pressurized and become solidified with vegetation over time. The water layer sits on top. This sand has a high silica level and we use it to exfoliate. Gold jeweler comes out sparkling. There is a chill, sharp wind, but warmer in the water.

Lake Mackenzie Fraser Island
Kenny beside the squeaky clean Lake Mackenzie Fraser Island

The Lagoon. Airlie Beach. Various depths, an area with a blue line on the bottom for those who simply must swim laps. Lots of lawn and sand on which to sunbake. Essential resource as this area is a no swim zone due to the presence of stinger jellyfish between November and May. Signs warn of the ‘risk of encountering toxins’ bottles of vinegar which are supposed to ease the sting are on warning plaques. The life guard is full of anecdotes about fights between itinerate back-packers.

‘I don’t do nothing unless they’re drowning.’

Airlie Beach lagoon
A tropical pool – what could be better.

When asked about the water temp his reply was, ‘want the real temperature, or the one you’d prefer to hear’. Rod thinks it’s about 18 C degrees.

The Boulders, Babina Creek, south of Cairns. Deep cool magic ponds. Signs along the walk warned of the dangers, but swimming is possible in certain areas. The reflection factor was amazing. A mirror-lake-waterway amongst the rainforest. Everyone kept asking, ‘is it cold?’ Sure, but we kept swimming just so we could say we had this outstanding experience.

The Boulders Far North Queensland
Rod in the distance – Albino Bunyip – Swimming area at the Boulders

Lake Eacham, Atherton Tablelands. Swimming in a crater lake! Another one of those “because you could” swimming experiences. We had to swim there because it was so spectacular. A few brave souls were sharing the pleasure, but this will always be memorable because of the exchange with a relaxing bar-staff worker. ‘Is the water warm,’ asks Rod.

‘It always warm, it’s a volcano.’ Her knowledgeable reply.

‘Don’t you mean crater?’

Giggle, giggle, ‘oh yeh’.

She must have thought that the extinct volcano was still heating the waters, or who knows really, ‘whatever…’

Crater lake Atherton Tablelands
Rod beside the Crater Lake Atherton Tablelands


By the lakeside

Finally the clouds do part and we can view the majesty of the lake’s skirts all the way to the ranges. Or should I say, the Gods.

Ironman NZ swimers
Even so many weeks out, they are already there.

There are wet-suited individuals swimming along the lake edge. We wonder if these are triathletes already in situ for the NZ Ironman, now only 5 weeks away. We can identify the park where transition will be constructed and the run course, but are still unable to work out which highway will carry the bikes.

There is a free camper-van region, lake edge, adjacent to the Tourist Information Center. You can spend 2 nights there, no cost! This a serious tourist mecca, complete with wide range of water sports, bike trails, walking tracks and more than its fair share of adventure options. 20,000 population which swells to 70-80,000 come Ironman time. In a rush of blood Rod even suggests, ‘I could hire a mountain bike, and go for a ride.’ I try to remind him that perhaps his first ride should be something of less potential hazard.

Outlet Lake Taupo NZ
Part of the system where water leaves Lake Taupo

We have a major disagreement about the lake outlet. I am sure this is merely a lake water level control devise. But correctly he knows this is the source of the Waikato River. The longest river in NZ. Distinct from the Wanganui River which was the longest navigable river. An early morning jog beyond the outlet gates clearly shows now difficult bringing a craft up this water flow would be. Operators offer kayak trips, but it is always downstream!

Bungy Lake Taupo
Why would you trust a big elastic band?

I stumble upon that NZ tradition, the Bungy Jump tower, we return later in the day to watch those crazy, fearless, desperate enough to leap towards a river tied to an oversized elastic band. This marks the beginning of a Taupo touristy location tour.

* The Prawn Park: 43cm was the largest caught this year. The foyer contains pictorial history from the purchase from the army at $550. But we turn away from the entry cost of $30 to tour and interact with the prawns. At least there is the big prawn to be seen. But very different from the Ballina specimen.

Prawn Park Lake Taupo
Tours available – at a cost

* The Honey Shop – partake in samples of liqueurs, peanut butter honey (crunchy) and butterscotch.

Honey Shop Lake Taupo
Sweets central

*Dixie Browns – fantastic pizza, better than the last one we had at Big John’s San Souci, Sydney

The price range in Taupo seems to be with an additional $3-5, tourist tariff. Even the honey is either more costly or in a smaller jar than we are used to. Adding to this is what the supermarket chain Coles markets in Australia as “feed a family of four on $10 meals” is $15 in NZ. We are told that the region has a reputation of being able to “separate your wallet from half your budget.”

I watch a historical train disaster movie about how the nearby Crater Lake can and has broken its banks to cause flash floods. A Maori mother character blaming the way the Pakea’s have cut scars into the land. Therefore Mother Mountain takes revenge. Having seen the way geothermal pipes cross the countryside, and the industrial area which included shipping pallet production and enormous piles of saw dust I do not find those reactions from the Gods at all surprising. I also wonder why that waste couldn’t be used to make solid fuel (like Brickettes) or fertilizers.

Locals give thanks to the major highway bypass opened in 2010, ‘we have our foreshore back now.’ It does make sitting alfresco at a lake view café a much more pleasant experience than having inter-city semi-trailers rumbling past (like Lakes Entrance Victoria).

Lake Taupo NZ
No highway = peace


Turner's Beach

Trees, sky and water…

Much of our NZ adventure revealed a land dulled by a lack of water (drought). Eventually when the unexpected dryness of Tasmania is revealed the hues were so similar. But while both are rural location, with kindred cereal crops, grass pollen and mowed roadsides I did not suffer with hayfever, so my theory that it was something about farming neighborhoods turns to dust.

Tuart trees
More like home – Tuart trees

From Drewe’s The Drownershe feels bound to defend the misinterpreted trees. He voices his admiration for the tall, olive-green Swan River mahogany or jarrah, the grey-green Tuart, the darker Swan River cypress. He likes the bloodwood or marri tree, too, and the blue-grey tinged peppermint tree, ‘like a less droopy English willow’.

The skeletal frames of dead trees beyond the hill ridges. The light across the Derwent river catches the hill line and the gums form a fringe. Those Drewe images are so familiar, what is different here? Drewe’s images are not the dense extinct Tasmanian devil hiding wall of vegetation we expected.

…One warm morning he wades into the shallows, drawn by water so smooth his impulse is to knife into it, to break the glassy skin with the precision of the swans and the Aboriginal boys without sound or splash….

The notion of water drawing you – when have we been drawn?   Repelled by the chill in the air, wind or just the feeling that it’s only a tad too cold to really be drawn into the waves. Perhaps some of the locals are more insulated than us, or just more acclimatized to the water temperature.

Turner's Beach
Rod on Turner’s Beach, Tasmania: Is the water calling for swimmers? I don’t think so.

In the Franklin Estuary at Strachan – the brown blood color of the water. Rod turns up his nose when the Swan River is heavy with run-off from the Swan Valley turns the water its seasonal brown, ‘urrgh… its dirty!’ But he is in raptures at the tannin stain.

Macquarie Harbour Strachan
From the edge looking towards Strachan

…From their vantage point wasn’t hard to imagine the sky leaking over its borders. Its individual particles of pigment gleaming sharply blue. The sky was not a neutral ceiling for the landscape. It was a force. It pressed on the low hills, forcing them to make a horizon with the river…

Again it seemed usable on terms of the sky. Picked up earlier encountered notions of the sea or in this case the wide river estuary river reflecting and being forced into something by the interaction. So often the sky does seem to press into the land here, is that just the low, intense clouds or some power pushing down. ‘Atmospheric’ I have been calling it. Like the storm-heavy heavens above Albany so entrenched in my memory.

Sea and sky Albany
Sea and sky leaks
Albany storm skies
Albany skies