Just some stuff I want to share with you

Monthly archives for March, 2009

Time to fly…

It’s been a few days since I posted my last blog. As stated before, we don’t always have access to the Internet. And as a result of that, I have not been to upload all my photos yet. So what happened? Well, the air safari started.

Tuesday 17 March the group that is going to participate in the safari met and we drove to Toowoomba. We have 5 people in the group: Marjie and Harold Fast, Janice and Reg Willick and then there is me. The tour is organized by Clare McEwan owner of Air Safaris International and we have a lead pilot Ray Garner who is going to make sure that we end up where we should end up. With the exception of Ray and me, all are from Canada. Ray is a “local”; he is from Toowoomba. Ray is an instructor working for the Darling Downs Aero Club. This club has arranged the planes and has assisted Clare in planning good routes that will be interesting for us to fly. The following picture shows Marjie, Reg and Janice. At this point I don’t have pictures of the others yet. But you will see them later on during the tour.

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Wednesday 18 March was all about getting the paperwork done and the pilots (Harold and Reg) had to go through their flight review in order for them to fly here in Australia. I did not fly today. It just didn’t make sense. Since I will be flying in a Cessna 182 with retractable gear and a constant speed propeller and I have never flown such a plane, I would not have been able to learn how to do so in just one day. Ray is an instructor, so he will teach me how to fly this one during the following days. And if he thinks I can handle it, he will sign of my logbook allowing me to fly it on my own. The afternoon was used to go through the maps and to look at the route in more detail. We also got a short instruction on how to use the survival kit, since we are going to fly in the Outback; this is a place where you will die if you are not found in a few days…

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Thursday the tour will start. I think we have a nice little group here and we are going to have fun! Harold and Marjie are also going to blog about this trip.

Picture gallery nightmare…

It’s official now: I hate this picture gallery!

Today I found out why you now and then get errors when clicking on the pictures in the blog entries: the gallery does not have the right sized image available. So how does this work? Well I use Gallery2. This picture gallery software allows me to import the pictures I took with my camera. During the import, it creates the small images you see in the blog entries. Gallery2 allows you to have several sizes of the same picture online. This allows me to show bigger or smaller versions of the picture depending on what I want to do. These so called resized pictures are created when you access them for the first time. But not when you do so via the blog software (wordpress)… Hence, why you get errors when the picture has not been accessed through Gallery2.

So for now I have changed some settings in the blog software. When you click on a small picture, it will show the best match and will not generate an error anymore. However, the best match could be the original picture. And these are quite big, so can take a lot of time to download.

If you want to scroll through my pictures, you better go directly to Gallery2 and browse through the pictures there. You can do so by clicking here. This will allow you to select the smallest version of the pictures and as a nice side effect, you will trigger the creation of these smaller pictures when browsing them.

These are only temporary solutions until I have figured out how to move on with the pictures.

Last day in town

Well Monday 16 March is my last full day in Brisbane. Tuesday afternoon I will be picked up to go to Toowoomba where the air safari starts. Today started by doing the laundry; this took the bigger part of the morning and since you can’t go for a long time (others were waiting for the washer, so I had to make sure to get my stuff out as soon as the machine stopped spinning) I was stuck to the hotel. After this very exciting start of the day, I walked to the South Bank again. I enjoyed some time hanging around over there before pottering back to the City. Last time to have a Grande Latte at my favorite Starbucks Coffee on the corner of Queen and Creek street. It’s been a very relaxed and hot day today.

So how was Brisbane? It’s a great place to just relax or hang out. I think it’s a nice place to live and work. But for the tourist, there’s just not enough to stay here for more than let’s say three days. After that you want to go further away from town and see what’s in the area.

So far for now. I will not have access to the Internet on Tuesday and it’s unclear for the days after that. So this may be the last post for a few days. But don’t worry: you will not miss a thing as I will share everything with you as soon as I get back online.

Monday 16 March 2009

Cuddle a koala

Last night during dinner with Clare, he mentioned that there was a boat going up or down the river bringing you to a place where there are animals… This morning I powered up my laptop and found the website of Mirimar Cruises.

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The Mirimar has a daily cruise from Brisbane (just across the river from my hotel) to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Since I am in the land of the Koala and Kangaroo, I just had to get on board of course. The cruise takes about 1.5 hours to get from Brisbane to Lone Pine. Every now and then there is some information from the captain about the history, houses, nature or culture along the river. And that’s done with a great sense of Australian humor. It’s a hot day today and there are a lot of speedboats on the river.

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After this very enjoyable cruise, we ended up at Lone Pine. Lone Pine was founded 1927 to save the Koala. In that time the Koala was hunted for its fur and as a result they were disappearing. The sanctuary started breeding Koalas and has a lot of them today. And there is more to see then Koalas; kangaroos, wombats, reptiles, dingos, birds and more.

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The kangaroos have their own reserve. You can walk along them, touch them and feed them. Here’s an impression (by the way: the one in red is not a kangaroo…):

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As I explained already, this sanctuary was founded to save the koala. So here you will find everything for the whole lifespan of a koala. It starts with the young ones:

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Some background information here: a koala sleeps about 18 hours per day. The rest of the time is used to eat leaves of the eucalyptus tree. You will hardly find a koala drinking. All the water he needs is extracted from the eucalyptus leaves which contain 50% water. Oh and by the way: the koala is not a bear!

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Here at Lone Pine, you can cuddle a koala. In Australia you are not allowed to touch Koalas since it causes stress to them. However, since most of the Koalas in Lone Pine have been in touch with humans as of the day they were born, you can cuddle a Koala here. And the staff will make sure that each individual Koala will only be in touch with humans for a limited amount of time per day or week.

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Then after all those years of hard work and labor, they end up in the elderly home. Here they can relax and enjoy the last years of their life, spending a whole of time doing what they do best: sleeping and eating.

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Both on the boat and in the park, there was a group of students creating nice drawings of each other and interesting things in the park. Homework?

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After visiting the sanctuary, it was time to get back to the boat for the trip back to Brisbane City. It was a lovely day out. Weather was very good (sunny and 30 degrees).

Sunday 15 March 2009

What’s going on down there?

Well, cyclone Hamish has caused a big problem here. A cargo ship lost 31 containers with chemicals and one of these containers punched a hole in the oil tank of the ship. Result: a big oil spill (230 ton of it) along the coast (it’s spread over 60 km). And that’s a big issue for this area. Not only because of the impact on nature, but this is the area where the nice beaches and the surfers are. So it has also an economical impact and that’s painful in these difficult times.

Friday 13th was a rainy day. The last days that was not a big problem. Every now and then there was a short shower and then it was dry again. But not on Friday; it rained the whole day. Not a lot of water, but it was constantly and enough to get real wet…. So, this was the perfect day to read the Australian visual flight rules guide. I need to be aware of everything in this nice 400+ pages document in order to safely fly a plane in this country. And since the air safari starts on Tuesday, it was good that we had a wet day 😉

Saturday started out nicely, so I walked towards the Roma Street Parklands; a nice green oasis in the City. Here you find a small, well maintained garden with all sorts of plants and trees. And in this park there are several barbeque area’s where the locals can go to and have some nice time. Ausies are really into the BBQ’s…

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Well as I stated, the day started nicely. But then there was this big raincloud that I had not seen coming (there are a lot of trees here and Brisbane City is not a flat landscape) and it gave me another, unplanned, shower… So, after the rain stopped, back to the hotel… After getting some dry clothes on, it was already too late to go for a big walk. So, I ended up back in the City, had a few drinks and relaxed listening to the live music they were playing today.

Brisbane has built a lot of tall buildings as you can see in the pictures. But at this place, there used to be old buildings that have been torn down to build these new skyscrapers. At certain points in town, this creates interesting scenes, as you can see in the following pictures. Old buildings surrounded by the new steel and concrete giants.

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Every here and there, you will find some nice details. Like this one:

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Then I got a phone call from Clare. He is the organizer of the air safari and we have been emailing for months now, but never met or spoke to each other so far. He has arrived in Brisbane, so we planned to have dinner tonight. It was nice to meet the man that has been working so hard to organize the flying tour and helping out getting the official documents from CASA required to fly a plane in this country.

All in all, it’s been a few interesting days again down here.

Saturday 14 March 2009