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Brisbane from Mt Coot-Tha

Brisbane from Mt Coot-Tha

Unfortunately, much as I hate cities sometimes they can’t be avoided. They are concentrations of many things apart from people. Or maybe because of people. Restaurants, hospitals, cinemas, live shows, shops. Pollution, traffic snarls, noise. Sigh. But yeah. Medical specialists tend to work best in the city setting. All the equipment and required facilities are more readily available. So we drove down to Brisbane for a procedure to take place over two days, while I kicked my heels in a hotel.

However – did I mention the shops? Much as I love where I live, and I’m not a great shopper, sometimes the lack of variety in Hervey Bay can be frustrating. So this would be a chance to go into town and find myself a coat, preferably leather, that I could dress up if needed. Usually it would be worn with jeans. I’d booked into a small hotel near the city centre, and walked into the Queen Street mall with high hopes. I’d get this done, drop off the jacket back at the pub and take my camera for a walk in the park. Yes. That was the plan. Then I’d go back to the room and work on the next book.

Well, let me tell you a couple of things, folks. The current fashion has gone back to skinny. Skin tight pants, leggings, form fitting jackets. Leather jackets are biker style, fitted to the waist, with lots of non functional pockets closed with zips. A year or forty – or even twenty – ago I could have gone down that route. But not anymore, for two reasons. 1) I don’t like that style, having gravitated (as you do) to comfortable sack style. Gone are the days of lying on your back on the bed to do up the zip. 2) I’m no longer size 10 – or even 14. It seems that if you’re in the size 8 to size 14 range, the world of fashion is your oyster. You might find an occasional 16. Anything larger than that – nuh-uh. There might be a few sections in the big department stores specialising in larger sizes, or the occasional large size dress shop. But while I know I need to lose some weight, I’m not obese. Nor am I unusual. I’d venture to suggest that with obesity levels in this country soaring, the buyers ought to be looking at their stock.

I should add that I could have bought a genuine leather coat in a style I found acceptable. But the designer label $800-$1,000 weren’t even in the venue let alone the playing field, andĀ  I balked at paying $600 for a coat, and then another $75 to have the sleeves taken up. I just won’t wear it often enough.

Anyway, after five unproductive hours of wandering around every sodding dress shop in the CBD (including some mens stores) it started to rain. So I bought myself a cheap umbrella and winced my painful way back to my hotel room, coatless. I suppose the rain was a good thing. I was too sore to spend the afternoon walking around in the gardens (not as fit as I used to be) and the rain provided a perfect excuse to play on my laptop instead. Mind you, I played solitaire instead of doing some writing on my WIP. But I’ll attribute that to frustration.

forest

Forest path

Water and fernsOn the bright side, I went to the Brisbane botanical gardens at Mt Coot-Tha the previous afternoon. There is nothing quite so wonderful as walking along a narrow path in cool shade provided by towering trees, palms and ferns, with the sound of tinkling water filling the air.

The scenic rim

Imagine a massive volcano. No, bigger. Even bigger. Yep, more like that, with ash boiling into the atmosphere, and red hot lava oozing down the slope like icing on a cake. But that was twenty million years ago. The hot spot that created it moved on and the two kilometre high peaks surrounding the caldera began to erode. Here’s the story. These days the remains of the volcano rise above the plain of the Gold Coast, south of Brisbane, where they provide a cool, refreshing contrast to the brash and vibrant coastal strip.

We visited friends who live in the Mt Tamborine area, and they took us on a whirlwind tour of some of the sites. We droveĀ  a meandering, ear-popping road up the mountainside from the plain. From the top the high rises of the coastal strip lined up along the Gold Coast beaches are clearly visible.

The Gold Coast from the mountain

The Gold Coast from the mountain

Mt Tamborine boasts gorgeous gardens, rainforest and waterfalls. But it has been dry of late, so unfortunately the creeks and rivers have contracted. Still, you can imagine the volume of water which could crash down through this valley.

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One of the rock pools at Cedar Creek

On the other side of the caldera, looking inland, intrepid souls launch hang gliders or paragliders off steep, grassy slopes. It was a great day for it, not too windy, not dead calm.

Paragliding

This paraglider is just about to launch

We visited the Skywalk, which gives a different view of the rainforest from a gantry raised high in the canopy. Then you walk back amongst the tree trunks to your starting point. Once again, more water would have made the experience even more special. Not recommended for those afraid of heights.

Strangler fig in the rainforest

Strangler fig in the rainforest

The dry creek bed

The dry creek bed

We stopped at St Bernard’s pub for a drink. The garden is absolutely gorgeous and I would have taken a walk to St Bernard’s Falls if I’d had any faith there might be water there. At my time of life, without a guaranteed reward at the bottom, a long steep slope isn’t particularly inviting.

The view from the garden

The view from the garden

The garden St Bernard's

The garden St Bernard’s

All in all, Mt Tamborine is a beautiful place. Walk under the canopy of the rainforest and the temperature drops ten degrees. It’s obvious why it’s a mecca for ‘new age’ types. The village we visited had rows of shops devoted to the usual eclectic collection of clothing, coffee, cuckoo clocks and cafes. You can have your future told, and/or visit wineries, breweries and cheese-making facilities, as well as pubs and restaurants. You’ll need patience, though. The roads were crowded with day trippers – but it was a Saturday. Weekdays (non-school holidays) would probably be better. All the information can be found online at sites like this one.