475. Sunday 31st January 2016. Australia Day, Hot Days, Storms and a road trip to Coolangatta…

Monday 25th January

Today started off OK. Hot but tolerable.

I had a doctors appointment at noon to check results of recent blood and urine tests. I also had an important question to ask. The blood and urine were fine apart from a slightly lower Vitamin D level.

That’s all fine n dandy so I told the doc I wanted to start driving again.

I have dropped the pain medication (at my request) to 50% of the previous, high, over the top dose. That dose had caused dry mouth, speech hesitation, memory loss, weight gain, swelling of joints, wobblies when walking  and a bit of and I say this hesitantly and advisedly, depression.

The doc asked if I am tolerating the pain. Yes I am. I am also going to the Pain Management Clinic.

The doc agrees I can start driving if I feel confidant.

I do.

However, under the Queensland Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act, Section 142 requires that all licence holders are to report ANY Medical or Optical, short or long term, disability, treatment or medication liable to impair my ability to drive, be reported to Qld Transport. Failure to do so could result in a loss of licence and a fine of up to $7,000.

Gulp!

So, to protect the doc and myself I need to complete a Form F3712. It must also be completed by the doc of course and by an Optometrist.

As luck would have it I had an eye test two weeks ago when I had a burst blood vessel in my left eye. With Form F3712 in my hand I rocked up to the Optometrist who ticked all the boxes and signed off on my good eyesight. All I need is another visit to the doc who already has my healthy vitals, for her to sign off on her part of Form F3712 and we have completed our obligations under the Act and I will then return the form to Queensland Transport and I should be ready to drive, fingers crossed, by the weekend.

Hallelujah!

The running around took up most of our day.

WISH ME LUCK…sorry for shouting.

Tuesday 26th January

AUSTRALIA DAY.

Methinks a little history would not go astray at this point.

During the years 1786 and early 1787 British Prisons were full and old ships still berthed on the Thames River near London, were used as an overflow to house prisoners. Britain needed a solution to the prison problem. The USA (before it became the USA) had been grudgingly accepting shiploads of prisoners. Finally they said enough is enough and started a revolution wherein they fought the British and drove them from the land with the message “No more prisoners” ringing loudly in their ears.

Next they tried Canada which was still a British Protectorate but Canada was having problems with the First Nation Peoples, the French who wanted Canada for themselves and relations with the USA were a bit strained. They also said, “No more prisoners”.

Captain James Cook “discovered” the east coast of Australia and landed at Botany Bay about 7.5 Klms to the south of Sydney Harbour. In his ships log and other reports he declared the bay would make an ideal harbour. Britain thought they had a solution to their prisoner problem. So in May 1887, eleven ships, under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip set sail for Botany Bay with the intention of establishing a colony made up mostly of prisoners. Contrary to popular opinion, (which makes his first landfall at Sydney Harbour on this day) Phillip landed at Botany Bay on 18th January 1888 and found it unsuitable for his needs. (Shallow waters, fringing reefs, mangrove swamps, salty sandy ground unsuitable for crops and a lack of tall straight trees nearby) On 21st January, Phillip and a few officers and marines set off to explore an opening in the sandstone cliffs, noted by Cook in 1770 but never explored by him. What Phillip found was the most jaw dropping, deep water, natural harbour to be found anywhere, then or now. Sailing back to Botany Bay they instructed all ships to up anchor and set sail for Sydney Harbour. Not all ships left at the same time. A gale lasting three days deterred some ships. In the meantime two French Ships arrived, headed by Commander LaPerouse. Phillip set up a small company of sailors, marines and prisoners on the beach at Sydney Cove and in a solemn ceremony on 26th January declared annexation of the land in the name of Britain. The French were just two days late in their quest to declare the land as a protectorate of France. Over the next few days all the ships arrived at what had by now been named Sydney Cove. All prisoners, marines, officers and crew were landed ashore.

Colonisation had begun.

The local indigenous population were a bit affronted by this annexation and have kept up protests to this day. They call 26th January Invasion Day sometimes they call it Survivor Day. The full history of colonisation and the various Governors in the early days of the colony are full of drama. The claim that early Australia was made up of convicts is basically true.

An excellent book, called “Commonwealth of Thieves” by Australian historical author Thomas Kenneally, is a gripping read. I am happy to share my e-book copy with readers. Just write in the comments section and leave your email address.

We have come a long way.

Today at the village we celebrated Australia Day when a group of around 60 converged on the clubhouse. Everybody was asked to come dressed in typical Aussie clobber. Most did to one degree or another but some really went to a lot of trouble to create an Aussie costume. (Where is the camera?) On the bowling green we had a golf putting competition, toss the thong competition (Jandalls in NZ or Flip Flops in the UK USA and Canada) and kicking an empty 2 litre milk container the longest distance. Of course we had Australian Bushells Blue Label tea and Arnotts Plain and Cream Assorted biscuits for morning tea.

Before lunch we had indoor sports. Quoit tossing and darts.

Lunch was the good old Aussie dish, sausages in a blanket (sausages on a slice of bread and rolled into an untidy V to be held in one hand. No knife or fork – it leaves the other hand free to talk or hold a stubby of beer – that’s another story) with caramelised onions and tomato sauce.

For dessert a couple of ladies made a giant cake decorated as the Australian Flag with cream and Strawberries.

Grrr! It‘s moments like this I wish I took the camera.

The day was lots of fun and a good excuse to socialise.

Good onyer Aussie. Oi Oi Oi.

Friday 29th January

First stop the doctor. She signed my Dept of Transport Form F3712 and I was ready.

Brother in law Ken arrived and I seconded him to drive me to the Dept of Transport where I answered a few questions and was then given a certificate to keep with my licence. I have to get this certificate annually unless the doc issues a new Form F3712 declaring me fully fit.

After lunch we drove to The Spit where we watched the city slowly disappear from view under a  curtain of cloud and rain. Storms had been predicted all week and finally one arrived. Lightning struck about every 10 seconds. Have you any idea how difficult it is to photograph lightning?

Surfers Paradise as seen from the spit. Sea spray and a gathering storm is beginning to hide Surfers Paradise.

Surfers Paradise as seen from the spit. Sea spray and a gathering storm is beginning to hide Surfers Paradise.

The storm, including thousands of lightning strikes, has almost hidden the city.

The storm, including thousands of lightning strikes, has almost hidden the city.

The city is still hidden as the storm moves further to sea.

The city is still hidden as the storm moves further to sea.

The storm swung around and was heading our way. Within minutes we were drenched trying to beat the storm back to the car. Visibility was reduced to almost zero. As suddenly as the storm appeared and was past, sunshine lit the wet streets and parklands.

Wind has blown sand across the path to The Spit. The approaching storm had a strong wind ahead of driving rain.

Wind has blown sand across the path to The Spit. The approaching storm had a strong wind ahead of driving rain.

Saturday 30th January

We enjoyed coffee at Budds Beach where we caught up with his sister Kirsty. Then we drove along the Brisbane Road towards Coolangatta trying to drive along every bit of coastal road and visiting beaches I never knew existed. Ken used to holiday with his parents when he was a teenager half a century ago. Ken was having a nostalgic trip along memory lane.

Large Sea Eagles have built a nest in this Navigation beacon at the mouth of Currumbin Creek. Surfers paradise is in the background.

Large Sea Eagles have built a nest in this Navigation beacon at the mouth of Currumbin Creek. Surfers paradise is in the background.

But, before we look at Coolangatta, you may recall that last week I promised information on the Lifesaver huts dotted along Gold Coast beaches. Surf Life Saving Clubs are also dotted along the coast in more substantial buildings often including dining and gambling facilities. Between those buildings are the smaller well equipped but a little more isolated huts. Hut number one is on the Coolangatta coast near the NSW Qld border on the Tweed River. So they are numbered 1 through to 45 the final hut located at The Spit. (Some huts have a further identifying number – for example 34A) The numbering system aids emergency services to quickly find a location by the designation number.

Now back to our trip with Ken. Most of the way was in very windy conditions with occasional rain squalls. We drove as far as Point Danger (or Point Dangar) where a light-station is built straddling the NSW Qld border.

Light-station at Point Danger straddling the NSW Qld border.

Light-station at Point Danger straddling the NSW Qld border.

This is one of many original fence posts erected sometime between1863 and 1866 when the border was being surveyed. The rock wall to mouth of the Tweed River is in the background.

This is one of many original fence posts erected sometime between1863 and 1866 when the border was being surveyed. The rock wall to mouth of the Tweed River is in the background.

Dozens of Frill Neck Lizards inhabit the rocky crevices in the cliffs above Duranbah Beach on the narrow patch of land designated as NSW. Note the lizard is in the process of shedding its skin. The same as a snake sheds its skin.

Dozens of Frill Neck Lizards inhabit the rocky crevices in the cliffs above Duranbah Beach on the narrow patch of land designated as NSW. Note the lizard is in the process of shedding its skin. The same as a snake sheds its skin.

The black bird sitting in the pandanus tree growing from a crevice in the cliffs is the Pied Currawong. Note the distinctive yellow eyes.

The black bird sitting in the pandanus tree growing from a crevice in the cliffs is the Pied Currawong. Note the distinctive yellow eyes.

A salt water washed pool. The waves break across the pool giving this pair an exciting dip.

A salt water washed pool. The waves break across the pool giving this pair an exciting dip.

The delightful beaches of Kirra, Coolangatta, Rainbow and Schnapper Rocks were visited. These are perhaps my favourite beaches on the Gold Coast. We spent some time looking at the many plaques and memorials in the park surrounding the light-station. After wandering a few of the streets of Coolangatta we drove to Kirra Lookout the highest point of land in the area. Coolangatta Airport is only three Klms away and we saw planes arriving and or leaving every three minutes.

Coolangatta Beach.

Coolangatta Beach.

Coolangatta.

Coolangatta.

Kirra lookout with the huge sculpture of an eagle looking down on Kirra Beach.

Kirra lookout with the huge sculpture of an eagle looking down on Kirra Beach.

Sunday 31st January

As usual the day dawned bright and sunny. (read hot)

Ken was on his way home by mid-morning.

We spent the day around the house, can you believe finally taking down the Christmas lights?

A few storm showers arrived and went while a big storm with lightning built up in the west. Time for a walk along the surf beach. Today was my first time behind the wheel of the car since the beginning of August.

Whooee! Liberation!

During the walk along the beach we dodged big fat rain drops while lightning cracked in the distance.

We saw fishermen dragging little bags of rotting fish bodies along the sand. They were hunting for  Sand worms to use as bait. At the top of the waterline, sand worms can be caught with rotting fish bodies, a quick eye, an even quicker hand and a pair of long nose pliers. When the worm pops its head above the wet sand to find the food it has smelled from somewhere below the surface of the sand, the quick angler grabs the slippery body in the pliers and begins the pull the worm from the sand. These worms can grow to up to a metre in length and can be almost as thick as a childs little finger. What I find most interesting is they can small or detect the rotting fish from beneath the surface of the sand.

 

 

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