Catch Up Post Ft. Paronella Park

OMG, four months without a post.

I. AM. A. SLACKER.

Soon after my last blog post I started getting busy with study and shit, so let’s do a quick catch-up of my life.

Got ma’ License

Yes, that’s right. The State Government of Queensland has given me a license to kill drive, and it only took me one attempt.

ONE.

Now I can drop-off Bae to and from work, and still get shit done in the middle of the day – no more living in the library for me!

Study Placement/Job

As part of my study. I had to do a placement over the space of a couple of months at the local community centre – hence being so busy. On top of that I had to do a bunch of assignments, but fingers-crossed I’ll get a job out of it, and I’ve fiiiiiiinally (almost) finished my Diploma!

P.S. Originally wrote this a couple of days ago, but didn’t publish. Have since found out I got the job, and did my first paid day today! It’s doing NDIS stuff which is really interesting and satisfying.

BooBoo got De-sexed

This might not seem like a big deal, but whenever I’ve adopted a cat as an adult (adopt, NEVER shop), they’ve always already been de-sexed, so I didn’t have to deal with it.

There was this one time as a kid when a cat got dumped on us by a family-friend, and it had a litter before we managed to get her de-sexed, and mum then got ALL the kittens done ASAP. But I was too young to really realise how much rest and quiet cats are meant to have after MAJOR ABDOMINAL SURGERY.  

As an adult seeing the BooBoo get de-sexed though, I feel so retroactively fucking bad for those childhood cats.

Booboo was just so cute and pathetic, and even though the cone was for her own good (and we even sprung for extra at-home pain-relief), I’m pretty sure she thought she was in trouble because of it, and she kept wanting to snuggle-up and sleep on the bed.

At least now all of the neighbourhood cats will stop trying to hump her through the catio-net at night.

Yes, that was a thing that was happening.

Gardening

Since I am a big environmental nerd with a lot of spare time, I’ve been doing a lot of gardening at the local community garden.

I even helped set-up a website, which has it’s own blog (that I also write), so you can keep up to date with what I do there: Johnstone River Community Gardens

Mum’s Visit!

After seeing heaps of stuff on my blog, mum decided to come to FNQ for a holiday. Luckily I got my license just in time, and I was able to terrify her with my new-found driving skills to the following tourist spots:

Windy Hill Wind Hills  

This was just a quick road-side attraction, but I LOVE the wind-turbines. They were the first to be built in Queensland in 2000, and power the equivalent of 3500 homes a year =D

Standing under them is mega loud, because once it’s windy enough to get the turbines going, they creat their own self-perpetuating wind.

To make them more user-friendly, all the turbines are located on cattle-grazing land, so they’re not too close to people, but still serve a dual-purpose. Very cool (and absolutely not cancer-causing, goddamn oil-barons).

Nerada Tea

Not my first time here, but I HAD to take mum to the Nerada Tea Factory, because not only does it have farm-fresh tea, incredible jam-and-cream scones (defs not vegan, but I ate them anyways), but it also has MUPIS.

What the fuck is a mupi, you ask?

It’s the Aboriginal word for a TREE-KANGAROO.

It’s like a kangaroo… that lives in a tree.

Get it? GET IT?!

So yes, the Nerada Tea Factory has seventeen of these little critters that live in a nature refuge on the farm. They’re so plump and round and fuzzy, and they have these long tales, and can jump from tree to tree, and these ones are just so used to humans that they chill-out in full view.

Unfortunately their trees are quite high, so as usual, my camera-phone was not able to do the photo justice =(

Paronella Park

Probably the biggest ‘thing’ mum and I got up to was Paronella Park.

It was pretty expensive ($45.00 for a two-year pass that they ID check you for, so there goes my plan to transfer mum’s pass to Bae), but it was honestly worth it.

The history and even just the existence of Paronella Park in Queensland is quite unique, so I’ll delve into it a little bit.

The story goes, in 1913 a Spanish immigrant called Jose Paronella came to Far North Queensland, thought to himself, “Damn, it’s a beautiful landscape, lovely climate, reminds me of home, but by god, these people have nothing to do in the middle of bum-fuck nowhere.” He then proceeded to almost bankrupt himself by building the part-castle, part-resort, in order to bring his dream to life.

For a couple of decades, this place then operated as an Alamo-esque Great Gatsby of the Southern Hemisphere, and people could party hard with a tennis and boules court, natural waterfall-fed pool, paddle-boats, theatre-room, ballroom, café, bar, and more. 

The guy was an absolutely visionary – building windows and arches and tunnels that all lined-up juuuuust perfectly with a water-fall or water-fountain a hundred metres in the background. Planting a double-line of Kauri-pines at just the right intervals so that decades later they’d eventually stand trunk-to-trunk and form a walk-way from one end of the property to the other. Tucking away lots of little nooks, crannies, staircases, streams, miniature water-falls, and other little places to explore and marvel at.

It made me super sad that the place is in complete ruins now, and if the tour hadn’t explained why it was so completely dilapidated, I think I would have rioted.

So, why does Paronella Park look like such a shit-box relic of the past, when it was obviously once so much more beautiful and grandiose?

Well, like I said, the guy was a visionary, but he was no bloody architect.

Apparently, not only did ol’ Jose use the incorrect kind of sand-aggregate to mortar the stones together (mixing local river-sand with custom-imported Italian cement-mix), but he also built the place in a dry-spell, without consulting any of the locals.

So not only is the place slowly falling apart from concrete-rot, but come the wet-season, three-quarters of it goes completely underwater.

Think I’m kidding?

It’s also been hit by a couple of cyclones, had a fire in the ballroom, AND was essentially abandoned from the mid-60s to the mid-90s, because yes, this place was not previously heritage listed.

I know, what a fucking travesty.

Oh well.

Walking through it, the place does take-on a kind of wistful, bitter-sweet atmosphere of what-might-have-been.

It also had me secretly wishing we’d been colonised by the Spanish instead of the English, because that architecture is just *Italian Chef Kiss* (I’m sure the treatment of the Aboriginals would have been about as equally shitty).

When I think about though, if the site had been owned and maintained by some rich mofo all these years instead of falling into disrepair, it may never have been opened for the public to enjoy – which is fairly common for heritage-listed buildings in Brisbane.

So yeah, gotta take the positives when you can.

My favourite part of Paronella Park though was the water-fall. Not only is it incredible to have that built-in and central to the design of the whole park, but the bottom-pool was full of cutie animals that you could hand-feed!

In typical me-fashion, I lost my freaking mind at how adorbs the fish were, and gave out the whole container of fish-food pellet-by-pellet (yeah, we were there a while).

This was my favourite fish, because it was a cutie rose-coloured cat-fish, and it reminded me of Grace, and it kept getting knocked against the pond-wall by the other naughty none-catfish-fish, so I made sure to drop many pellets directly into its mouth! D,=

Mum and I did get up to a bunch of other stuff, like the Innot Hot Springs (yeah, Australia has hot springs apparently), Mungalli Café, Millaa Millaa Falls, and more, but I don’t have many of the photos. Mum, when you read this, if you wanna send me some more photos to upload, go ahead!

Until next time!

Back-Tracking: BrisVegas & The Tablelands

OMG, it has been ages again since I’ve made a blogpost, but in my defence, I’ve actually been legit kinda busy with driving lessons, community gardening, volunteering, assignments, and reading.

Yes, I have been “busy” with reading – I’ve recently discovered a rad sci-fi book series, which has 500+ pages a book, and at least 9 books in the series, so I’m totally engrossed in the process of reading, in a way I haven’t been since The Dark Tower (so much so, I’m realising that it might be worth a book review).

That aside, recently-ish (more than a week ago TBH) Bae and I went down to Brisvegas for a couple of days to see the fam and shit – nothing swish, so if you’re reading this fam, this post will be exclusively about Brisbane, so feel free to skip at your own risk.

The highlights are as follow:

Seeing the Family and Friends (I guess =P)

This includes my stinky niece and nephews. Luckily I got some photos that have conveniently been obscured and made anonymous by dumb phone filters.

Seeing My Mum’s Dumb Pets

This array of dumb animals includes a guinea-pig named Oreo, with whom I am completely obsessed and in love with, and for whom I would either die and/or maybe kill for (please let me kill for you Oreo).

I have no real reason to love this dumb guinea as much as I do, but I assume that because she’s so small and plump and round and herbivorous and easily startled and ultimately pathetically vulnerable and defenceless, she just inspires an extreme form of maternal-instinct mixed with cute-aggression in my brain.

I honestly believe that if you were to scan my brain while I was looking at her, it would show some kind of serious chemical in-balance.

My mum also has two cats, Piggerly-Wiggerly and Sheldon (left to right, respectively).

Now, you may have noticed that not only is Piggerly-Wiggerly a ridiculous name for a cat, but Oreo also looks NOTHING like the delicious (though appropriately vegan) biscuit for which she was named.

This is because both animals were bought for and named by the niece and nephew above, who then stiffed them with their grandma when they realised that animals take actual work to look after 😂

Oh well, I’m pretty sure my mum likes the company.

Now, the cats might also look cute and adorable, but looks can be deceiving, and Piggerly-Wiggerly is a fucking savage. While I was kissing her goodbye, she boxed my ears and left a massive scratch on my face.

I am honestly surprised that the Coles self-check-out chumps haven’t mistaken me for a crack-head (which is quite common in Innisfail), and insisted on searching my bags (which has also happened when we first got here and I was routinely mauled by mosquitos).

OH WELL.

THE FOOD

As explored in previous posts, I am a complete and unabashed food wanker. I make no apologies for this, and I think I’ve done a pretty good job adjusting to country-eating.  

As such, I did enjoy my foray into Brisbane food again. In no particular order:

Taro’s Ramen

I didn’t get any photos unfortunately, but I got a delicious spicy, vegan ramen from this place in West End. It had pretty good serving sizes that were more filling than they appeared, and Japanese beer. The seating was a little cramped, so I give it 3.5 *Italian Chef Kisses*

Harmony on Carmody

What’s the only thing I love more than eating wanky food? Feeling self-righteous while I do, HAHA!

Seriously though, this place is run by a not-for-profit organisation called ‘Access’ that does all kinds of cool community-services work and shit. On this theme, they opened a social-enterprise café that gives immigrants, refugees, and other disadvantaged peeps in Logan the opportunity to work and get hospitality experience, improve their English skills, and get a foothold into the employment industry.

Feel-goodery aside, it was actually real’ tasty – the avocado on toast was the cheapest I’ve had in ages, while still having a generous portion size, and delicious little extras like spring-onion, spinach leaves, diced tomato, and feta. Bae had a plain but hearty big-veggie-breakfast, which he said was on-point and very satisfying.  

I give these guys 4 out of 5!

The Green Edge

This place is fucking amazing because not only is it a vegan restaurant, but it’s also a 100% VEGAN GROCERY STORE with a crazy extensive range.

Pre-made take-home ravioli? Vegan.

Ice-cream including ice-cream sandwiches? Vegan.

Gummy-bears, and wine-gums, and other jube-type sweets? Vegan.

Honeycomb? Vegan.

Cakes and pastries? Vegan.

E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G I-S V-E-G-A-N.

Now, as a big ol’ atheist, I’m not a particularly spiritual person. As a vegetarian/lazy-vegan though? This place is sacred, and I was all too happy to make the pilgrimage from mum’s house in Logan to the North-side for my obligatory vegan fix.

For my meal I got my ALL TIME FAVOURITE, the “meatball” sub with hand-cut chips on the side. I’ve eaten this thing like, 20 times, and never get sick of it.

Did I take a photo though? No, ’cause I was too busy LIVING IN THE MOMENT LIKE A LOSER.

For dessert I got a vanilla ice-cream sundae with chocolate fudge sauce, honeycomb, and bits of choc-chip biscuit and brownie.

Luckily I was so full by this point I had to take a moment to get my bearings, and took this opportunity to get photographic evidence of this vegan deliciousness.

*DROOL*                                                                                                                                            

As always, The Green Edge gets the ever elusive 5 out of 5

Carl’s Jr

Now, as well having a penchant for wanky food, I also LOVE Americano-style junk-food.

Burgers, hot dogs, pizza, bagels, onion rings, milkshakes, all of it, just in-and-around my mouth.

This is, of course, complicated by the vegetarian-ness etc.

DAMN MY SUPERIOR MORALS.

As such, whenever I do find-out that a filthy multi-national corporation is trying to shamelessly grab my hard-earned dollar by flogging their singular token veggie item… you bet your ass I am making a fucking bee-line for that greasy-ass shit.

GIMME GIMME GIMME.

Now, Carl’s Jr hasn’t even been in Australia that long. However, I’m assuming that with the relative and recent success of Taco Bell in Brisbane (~World City anyone~), the US were like, “Oh yeah, these Yankophiles are sick of being the little tubbers on the block, and are ready to join the big boys’ obesity club”, and thus decided to gift us with a Carl’s Jrs (or vice versa, whatever).

I was at first, quite sceptical, but the burger was serviceable, the re-fills free and unlimited (rare in Australia), and the logo appropriately and adorably anthropomorphisized to appeal to my brain, which is always one cell away from losing its fucking shit over anything vaguely cute.

For sheer novelty, and the fact that I was super tired and really just wanted to stuff my face in an airport, I give Carl’s Jrs a 3.5 out of 5.

Well Brisbane, it was fun, but aside from the fam and shit, I could probs leave you alone for quite a while.

Au revoir!

P.S. I’ve belatedly realised that I never finished Part 3 of my previous long-weekend posts, due to the same laziness extremely busy reasons listed above.

And yes, I know, you’re simply ~devastated~ that it’s taken me this long to get ’round to it.

But in all seriousness, while it has been quite a while, and it seems almost disjointed to mention here, there was one particular part of the long-weekend that was too good NOT to post about.

So without further adieu:

The Historical Village Herberton

Now, I know what you’re thinking.

“Michelle, didn’t you already visit a historical museum on the first day of your long-weekend? What are you? Some kind of nerd?!”

Yes, it is true unfortunately, Bae and I are massive nerds, and our future children are already condemned to this fate, but this place was well-worth the visit.

It has just over 50 original and restored Australian pioneer buildings sprawling across SIXTEEN acres of land, including an old-timey suspension bridge that spans across a gorgeous river that splits the property in two.

Amazing.

That aside, there was honestly too much to cover, so I’ll only include my absolute favourite exhibition, the hospital.

Anyone that knows me probably knows that I am pretty fascinated with all things medicine – from ob/gyn maternal health and pimple-popping dermatology, to mental-health and furiously googling any gnarly disease or syndrome I come across, to ancient-Greek contraception and abortificients to social inquality in medical practice.

I really dig it, and this place really delivered.

Exhibit A: Old-Timey Pharmaceuticals That Are Disturbingly Similar To Modern-Day Equivalents. And Yes, There Was A Tonne Of Opium-Based Shit, But Hemorrhoids Are Funnier.

Exhibit B: Things That Made Me Want To Barf Because They Were Honestly Just Too Much.

Exhibit C: Holy Shit, A Reminder That Women Really Used To Have To Do This Shit Without The Aid Of Modern-Medicine.

Exhibit D: Oh Wow, I Never Realised What We Did Before Plastic Syringes. There’s Hope For The Zero-Waste Movement Yet, I Guess.

Now, I truly do mean goodbye and until next time!

Look at These Fucking Tourists: Long Weekend Edition – Part Two

The second day of our long-weekend get-away was a big one.

We did SO. MUCH. STUFF, so on we go!

Mareeba Coffee Works

To start the day, Bae and I desperately needed a coffee-hit, so we drove to the Mareeba Coffee Works. And yes, if you Google Maps the trip from our AirBnB in Tarzali to the Coffee Works in Mareeba, it was a 54 minute drive, and yes, we both had caffeine-withdrawal-induced headaches by the time we got there.

WHAT OF IT.

That aside, the Coffee Works is a slick example of tourism done well, in that you can just go to the café and get some good food – which obviously a bunch of the locals do, based-on how busy it was. To make a whole day of it though, you can spend a bit more doing the $19.00 Coffee Works tour, and then splash even more cash buying the cleverly marketed coffee mugs, plungers, and all other kinds of homeware knick-knacks from their gift-shop.

Fortunately for Bae’s wallet, neither of us were super interested in the tour, and we’ve both sworn-off buying unnecessary kitsch-items for quite a while, so we did just enjoy the food and coffee.

For his meal, Bae had sautéed mushrooms and zucchini, with poached eggs, pine-nuts, and feta, while I had a house-made roast-veggie and bean-patty, with beetroot hummus, pumpkin pesto, and avocado.

So fucking good. I just wanted to eat more and more and more.

For good vegetarian options, locally-grown coffee, and not-completely-ripping-off-tourist-prices, I give the Coffee Works Café 4 out of 5 *Italian Chef Kisses*

Meerba Heritage Museum

After Coffee Works, Bae and I trotted over to the Mareeba Visitor Centre just to get an idea about what we could do in the area. Little did we know, the Visitor Centre had a cool little historical museum attached to it, which was not only FREE, but surprisingly comprehensive.

Because I am such a fucking nerd, here are some of my highlights of the museum:

First there was this little school corner exhibit, complete with old-timey writing-desks and some sort of primitive iPad and stylus.

Bae hated this exhibit and couldn’t wait to leave it, as he informed me that growing-up in a country-town in the 90’s, he’d had a super mean music-teacher with this EXACT classroom furniture and outlay.

Yes, the 1990’s, not the 1890’s.

I on the other hand, was absolutely losing my shit over how quaint and kitsch-y it all was.

As you can see, the museum also had both a saloon and a jail, in which I re-enacted the shenanigans of my early twenties.

Finally, here I am trying to kiss a cutie moo-moo-cow.


Interestingly enough, this is about the same height disparity between Bae and I…

My absolute favourite exhibit though?

The Railway Ambulance.

What the fuck is that you say?

Well, back in the day in Australian, when country towns were even more in the middle of bum-fuck nowhere than they are today, rural areas had no proper roads or the Flying Doctors Service. As such, ambulances simply couldn’t reach people living in the outback, and people in the outback couldn’t get to hospitals in a hurry. And they died because of it.

However, there were plenty of railway tracks, so cue the ingenious invention of an ambulance on railway tracks.

This was apparently a particularly large and well-outfitted ambulance, with a stretcher for the patient, a microscope for examining blood and pathogens, a baby weight-machine and incubator for any deliveries that occurred en-route to the hospital, a suction thingy for fluids in the throat and lungs, and more.

It really was just fucking rad, and blew my mind. Unfortunately, that was the only photo I could get, as you weren’t actually allowed in the ambulance, but it still shows how cool and innovative people had to be back in the day.

Kuranda

After spending an hour in the (free) museum, we then kept driving north to Kuranda.

Now, I have been waiting to go to Kuranda ever since we moved to Far North Queensland, because it has not only a Koala/Marsupial Garden, but a bird-aviary, and the Southern Hemisphere’s largest butterfly dome and hatchery.  

Not gonna lie, the Koala Gardens were a little bit average, as aside from this little potaroo and her pouch-baby, there wasn’t much that I hadn’t already seen before.

I did however, love anf would die for this tiny cutie baby turtle, while Bae had an encounter with his arch-nemesis, the snek! Hiss hiss!

The Bird Aviary on the other-hand? Absolutely amazing.

When you walk in, straight away you’re on a viewing and feeding platform, where heaps of the birds gather around and above you to feed on fruit and seeds. This included heaps of native and non-native species, as well as some rescue animals, a bunch that had been surrendered by people who couldn’t look after them anymore, and some that just naturally bred within the aviary – though the keepers did admit to buying from breeders too =(

Among the birds there were plenty of clever parrot species, who kept perching on peoples’ hats and bags, and trying to steal jewellery, belt-buckles, buttons, and anything else shiny!

We also spotted lots of beautiful berb couples, preening and grooming each. So cute!

Any finally, it turns out that Booboo had somehow managed to escape the house, follow us to Kuranda, and trans-figure herself into this exact fucking cassowary.

The angry face? The ‘bitch-please’ pose? Big black butt and yellow eyes? I swear to god, Booboo and this cassowary are 100% spiritually embodied within one another.

We are not even done though, and this was an action-packed day, because we then went to the Butterfly Sanctuary.

Now anyone that knows me well knows that moths and butterflies scare the mother-fucking daylights out of me. I don’t even know why. Like, I think they’re beautiful and shit, and I like to look at them, but they have creepy little insect legs, but they’re so small and fragile, and they fly so erratically and are REALLY unpredictable, and I’m just scared that if they fly in my face or anywhere near me, I’ll freak-out and accidentally hurt one, OKAY?!

It’s too much stress, but I still went into the dome of fluttery doom anyways.

And it was everything I thought it would be.

Beautiful and terrifying, and I had a really bad stomach-ache afterwards, because I swear, I was so hyped that my parasympathetic-system like, shut down while I was freaking-out. I even had to do some deep yoga breathing in the car afterwards to chill out.

But I did get some cool photos for my Instagram and Facebook and blog though, and that’s really what life is all about.

To finish the day (I know – I was wondering when it would end too), we found a little Thai place, by the name of Thai Kai Cafe, which was miraculously still open, because apparently in the country everything is just fucking done by 3:00PM and my eating patterns haven’t adjusted yet.

On top of reasonable opening hours, the service was good, and the food was even yummer, including a delicious lemon-iced green-tea. Combined with having clear veggie options, I give this place a 3.5 out of 5 *Italian Chef Kisses*


Well, this was a long post, but it was a long day, and there is so much to do in Mareeba and Kuranda!

‘Til next time!

Look at These Fucking Tourists: Long Weekend Edition – Part One

So in my last post I boasted about writing two entries in one week, and then… nada for three weeks, because in some kind of Shakespearean twist of hubristic fate, only a few days afterwards, I slipped over in the bathroom, slammed my elbow on the floor, needed two x-rays to confirm it wasn’t broken, after which it was still so swollen, I couldn’t straighten it for a week, and then couldn’t bear weight on it properly for another week and a half.  

FUN TIMES.

But what does that really have to do with something as simple as typing a blog-post?

Well, the doctor put me on these pretty sweet pain-killers/anti-inflammatories, but the main side-effect?

Drowsiness. Like, mind-numbing, zoning-out, dying-for-a-nap-everyday drowsiness.

Add to that the general tiredness of healing (I assume?), and that fact that doing anything with a sore arm took twice as long as usual, and I just could not be fucked blogging.

OH WELL.

But it’s pretty much better, and Bae took the Friday after ANZAC Day off, so we got another long-weekend, and so decided to have a bit of a get-away in the Tablelands.

Australian Platypus Park

To kill some time before checking-in at our lil’ AirBnB in Tarzali, we stopped at the ‘Australian Platypus Park’. Now, this place ain’t anything fancy, but for 10-bucks you get a guided-tour around the property’s beautiful lakes, you can stay as long as you like, and you’re guaranteed a platypus-viewing. If you don’t see a platypus, you don’t have to pay; simple as that.

I was, of course, super excited about this, particularly after our trip to Yungaburra yielded NO platypus sightings.

>=\

Luckily we saw MANY platypus this time, and they looked like small, wet versions of baby Booboo! I was overcome with that cute/playful-aggression phenomena (which is honestly pretty common for me), and I just wanted to pluck their fat little blubbery bodies out of the water, and mush them into my face over and over again!  

>8D

Unfortunately, the platypuses were so fast and wriggly diving in-and-out of the water that it was impossible to take a decent photo of them…

=,(

While touring the property, the ‘ranger’ also told us the following little factoids:  

  • Platypuses don’t have stomachs, so they don’t digest or metabolise their food in the same way we do, meaning they have to eat a third of their body-weight in food every day.
  • To deal with the cold in Tasmania, Tasmanian platypuses are EXTRA FAT compared to their northern counterparts, and have to eat even MORE than them.
  • Platypuses are completely carnivorous, and ONLY hunt and eat live prey, which is a little creepy when you consider 1) how fucking cute they are, and 2) the fact that most Australian animals are herbivorous, insectivorous, or omnivorous; and if they are carnivorous, they’re at least opportunistic scavengers, like the Dingo or Tasmanian Tiger. Hell, even crocodiles and snakes will eat frozen or fridged meat. What gives then? Is the platypus just ultra-sadistic? No actually; rather, because they’re essentially blind underwater, platypuses use their sensitive snoots to sense movement via the electronic-pulses that every living animal emits. Dead animals = no buzz-buzz = no food, so fresh it is.

Lastly, the Park also had a bunch of hokey-but-adorable tourist signs, which I was more than happy to take advantage of.

Malanda

After the Platypus Park, we kept driving north to Malanda, home of the ‘Malanda Falls Swimming Pool’.

Half natural, half-artifice, the Falls are fed by an actual fresh-water river and waterfall, but the river-banks have been built-in with cement, with the bottom left as sand. So even though there’s no chlorine or chemicals in the water, it’s almost as clear and fresh as a completely natural swimming-hole.

These kind of manicured swimming-holes (or ocean-holes) were super common in the late 19th to early 20th century (and supposedly pretty unique to Australia), so whenever I think of them I imagine old-timey people in full-body cotton-bathing suits – though even in the ’20s they apparently needed signage to deter local nudists.

The falls is also situated in a National Park, so it’s surrounded by walking tracks, beautiful rainforest scenery, and a cool Visitor Centre with some interesting information on the local Aboriginal people, and native wildlife, such as the tree-kangaroo.

Overall, both places were really lovely, and I would definitely go back.

Sayonara!

Swimming (and Other Adventures) in Nature Part 6: Bingil Bay, Lacey Creek, and Licuala State Forest

Two posts in one week. What kind of Stephen King writing prodigy am I?

My last post was actually from doing stuff two weeks ago, but I was just too l-a-z-y to write it up earlier ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So another weekend, another day in paradise.

Here we go!

Bingil Bay

“Where the bloody hell are you?”

Thankfully this Bingil has nothing to do with that Bingle shit-show.

We started this trip with not much in mind, but that’s the great thing about Far North Queensland – you can just pick a direction and start driving, and you’ll eventually stumble upon something to do, whether it’s a beautiful look-out, a scenic hike, or an old country pub.

On the other hand, you’ll sometimes see a sign on the side of the road for a local business or so-called ~tourist attraction~ and decide to give it ago. Lo and behold though, when you pull-over, you realise the place has bizarre opening hours, tiny fine-print on the badly designed signs, and the building itself seems a little too ramshackle to be inviting.

Pro-tip to all tourism providers: If your prospective clientele feels apprehensive and has to ‘work-up the courage’ to walk through the front-door, you’re not doing tourism right – the obvious exception being for sky-diving, hand-gliding, and adventure-type stuff.

Fortunately we kept on driving and came to this amazing pub-lite in Bingil Bay, called the Bingil Bay Café.

It initially caught my eye, because, quite frankly, I am a massive hipster, and it was painted purple. How was I supposed to resist? Appearances aside, it had some really good veggie food options, a chill atmosphere, and was surrounded by a veil of plants.

Best of all though? THE GERMAN BEER.

I don’t care what anyone says, Australian beer is (generally) shite. I love the wine – gimme a goddamn Barossa or whatever any day, but the old Milton Mango can fuck right off, and I can’t stand the current trend of micro-breweries making one disgusting variation of IPA after another.

The beer was a tad on the expensive side, but I haven’t seen it in any local bottle-o, so I’m happy for them to take my money.

On a side note: Mum, I definitely plan to take you here when you come-up in September!

Lacey Creek in Djiru National Park

After lunch, we wanted to go for a swim, and decided on Lacey Creek.

This is a much smaller, more low-key kinda swimming-hole, made for relaxing rather than adventuring, but this meant it was completely deserted, without another soul in sight. On the downside, the creek did have an animal warning – no, not for crocs, for Bullrouts.

“What the fuck is a bullrout?” you ask.  

Better known as a stonefish, these guys are covered in spikes, camoflague in the river-bed sand and stones, and are said to have an extremely painful sting.

Fun times.

Look out, it’s a bullrout! Oh n0, it’s just me squatting like a goblin in the water…

I was a little terrified of stepping on one, and it did take a while before I was able to really relax in the water. There were some leaves on the river-bed, and I refused to even swim over them, I was that paranoid.

We emerged unscathed however, and continued to Licuala National Forest.

Licuala National Forest

This place is GORGEOUS.

It has a specific Fan-Palm Walk that shows off the giant fan-palms canopy.

The place is also so full of cassowaries that the day-use/BBQ-area is surrounded by a cassowary-proof fence, because those bitches are not as shy as Wikipedia will have you believe.

Au revoir.

Swimming (and Other Adventures) in Nature Part 5: Lake Eacham & Yungaburra

Yungaburra

What can I say about Yungaburra?

This places gives off major Melany and Montville vibes, and I’m pretty sure it’s where all of the country yuppies/hipsters go when they’re sick of roughing it in swimming-holes and want a taste of the bourgeoisie – lots of middle-aged hippies, shops selling knick-knacks, crystals, statues, and cute clothes, a second-hand bookstore etc.

Honestly, I wasn’t too impressed. I did indulge in a new dress, and I think lots of people would enjoy Yungaburra, but I think I’m just getting sick of the knick-knack and shopping economy after living near Brisbane all my life ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Yungaburra does have this adorable little creek running through it, which is famous for its platypuses, but we didn’t see any unfortunately =,(

Looking (futilely) for platypuses…

Lake Eacham

We then went to Lake Eacham for a cool down, which has this AMAZING sign.

This place for real has a freaking freshwater crocodile in it, but it’s also like, the most family-friendly place for swimming. Seriously, they’ve intentionally built man-made steps leading into the water, and installed gravel and a barrier on the bottom of the lake to distinguish between the shallow and deep water, but they kept the fucking crocodile???

Freshies are apparently less aggressive and more timid than salties, but still!

People up here just do not care. This is peak nihilism.

And the State Government’s attitude?

Your safety is our concern, BUT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.

My State Government, LOL.

Fucking love it. Absolutely savage. The Government might as well have just told people to fuck off and stop being dickheads.

This approach is honestly super refreshing though. The harken back to common-sense and personal responsibility really appeals to the libertarian inside of me. I can just imagine a ranger going, “You got nibbed by a freshwater croc? You had fair warning mate, you must’ve really pissed it off, and quite frankly, sounds like you had it coming…”

Of course, we still went swimming, though I was pretty apprehensive. At one point I put on goggles to peer into the water while I was swimming, but there are some things you’re just better off not knowing.

Speaking of crocs, when we went to Cardwell a couple of weeks ago, we were informed by a local road-side pie-vendor that we’d just missed our opportunity to see the town’s famous saltwater crocodile, Bismarck (yes, these quaint country-folk had named their local crocodile after a WWII Nazi battleship) who had unfortunately been shot and killed by an unknown assailant ONLY THE DAY BEFORE.

(Now that I type this out, I realise this whole story reads either like a fever dream or the beginning of a quest from a fantasy RPG…)

That aside, I was legit bummed about the crocodile, a) because he’d apparently never hurt anyone, b) because he kept other crocs away from his territory, which is ultimately safer for all the humans involved, and c) what with me being vegetarian and all that.

Little did I know though, my grief was nothing compared to the local towns-folk.

A week later, they had a memorial for Bismarck. A MEMORIAL. With flowers. And an Elton John song. And a recording from the remnants of Steve Irwin’s family (and fame) thanking the people of Cardwell for their love of Bismarck.

That episode of Parks & Rec where they plan the ridiculous, over-the-top tribute for Lil’ Sebastian the pony? Yeah, suddenly makes a lot more sense.

Now, the memorial admittedly wasn’t all brand new information to me – I’d previously seen on the ABC that the people of Cardwell were planning… something for their beloved saltwater guardian. And when I told Bae this, he was legit annoyed that I hadn’t informed him beforehand, as he claims he would have jumped at the chance to attend Bismarck’s memorial….

Yeah, I don’t know what’s ironic and un-ironic anymore either.

Gallo Dairyland

Following Lake Eacham, we then went to the Gallo dairy, to indulge Bae’s #1 love in life: cheese.

Now be warned, when you pull-up to the Gallo Café, it is situated right next to the dairy, so everything just smells like the worst farts you have ever encountered.

Luckily, the owners had the good sense to essentially fart-proof the café, and it is tightly sealed, with a fairly good air-conditioning system.

As such, Bae was able to enjoy his cheese-platter in relative peace, and even bought some cheese for home.

Curtain Fig Tree

Lastly, we went for a drive around the country-side, and walked around this really beautiful ‘Curtain Fig Tree’ – it’s heritage listed for being one of the biggest trees in Far North Queensland, and it’s over 500 years old.

Bonus Fact: It’s also home to tree-kangaroos!

Bon vayage!

Crazy Cat Lady Part 1: Because I’m Not Dumb Enough to Believe I’ll Devote Only One Post to the Cats

I only ever really make posts about what I do on the weekends, so you might be wondering what I do during the work-week since, ya know, I’m unemployed.

I’ll have you know though that I am a VERY busy cat-mum and house-de-facto, and looking after a kitten is no joke!

She’s bitey, and smelly, and always wants my attention. I even have to feed her every once in a while, and put mouth-wash stuff in her water! Plus, she’s only just started going down for a nap during the day!

Alas! My fantasies of Booboo and Grace becoming bosom-buddies and keeping each other company also never eventuated, and I’m not entirely sure which cat to blame…

Coincidentally, my house has never been so consistently clean, tidy, or organised (I even KonMari’d some of that shit, which I might make a post about another day).

I’m also doing some study online, but I dragged that shit out and avoided it for a year and half, so really I’m just catching-up on stuff I should have been doing all along.

My bad.

The important thing though is that I have yet to take-up daytime drinking. No secretly toxic, but publicly lauded (cat)mummy wine-time here!

Anywho, as you can probably tell, the Booboo was driving Bae and I nuts. To get all her energy out, we tried taking her out for walkies, had to play with her for like, HOURS a day, and she’d still wake us up in the middle of the night for play-time and shit.

Don’t believe me? Look at this nut, LOOK. AT. HER. She reminds me of a fu-dog…

Also, kitty-litter trays inside are the fucking worst. There were mornings when I thought that the ammonia was LITERALLY going to strip me of my sense of smell forever.

Combine that with the resident crocodillies meaning I couldn’t just let ‘em out whenevs, and I was like, I really gotta get ‘round to building that catio.

What is a catio you ask? Well, cat + patio = catio.

It’s for crazy cat-ladies like me who feel bad about having their cats indoors (It deprives them!), while also feeling bad about having them outdoors (It’ll kill the native wildlfie! And the actual cats maybe! No joke, country folk ‘round here have LITERALLY make jokes about shooting cats with arrows).

So what you do is, you can either enclose your whole garden, from fence to rooftop (seems extreme, but whatevs, you do you), or you can just enclose a lil’ section of your balcony, patio, veranda, or whatnot (like I did), and then enrich the heck outta that space!

After looking in Bunnings and the local hardware store, first by myself, then with Bae, then thinking about how much we could spend, and then planning the structure and the materials we wanted to use, and then making sure the plan was cat-proof, but also completely collapsible and wouldn’t damage any part of the rental-property, Bae and I finally decided to order some specifically-made cat-netting online from a company called CatNets.

Once the nets arrived, I was super impressed with myself, ‘cause I designed and built like, 90% of the catio ALL. BY. MYSELF.

No ladder? That don’t matter. I just stood on our Esky.

Didn’t wanna put nails in the walls? There were already some there, just hang that shit up!

How you gonna make sure the sides don’t slip down? Cable-tie that shit, and peg it into the ground!

All in all, I think I only used like, eight staples in the fence-post, and you can barely even tell!

Even so, I’m really hoping the real-estate don’t have a problem with it come inspection time…

I’m pretty happy with the end result (even though it’s kinda bare at the moment), but the Booboo and Grace still seem to enjoy it somewhat.

Exhibit A: Enjoyment.

I’ll take you for the grand tour!

So, the cats do have a little grassy area, so they can either eat the grass, or poop in it. Booboo seems to favour eating half of it, while Grace is relishing pooping in the other half. Bae even bought and sprinkled some grass seeds inside (and outside) the enclosure, to eventually give them more smells and things to hide-in.

We also got a native fan-palm pot-plant for them to sit under, with Mr. and Mrs. Silverwings presiding over it, so that the kitties don’t mistake the soil for a toilet, and erm… soil it, as they have done to unguarded pot-plants in the past. As you can see, there’s their cutie poopy-box next to it as well… Gotta hide the poop-shame.

I even found a good use for my fair-trade Oxfam cat-mat!

You wanna know the pièce de résistance though? My real coup d’état, if you will?

I managed to convince Bae to buy a two-hundred-dollary-doo sliding-door cat-flap.

“WUT DAFUQ,” I hear you say. “For a household currently existing on one income, you sure seem to be spending a stupid amount of money on these dumb cats.”

And to you I say, “Who are you to lecture me about spending questionable amounts of money on questionable luxury cat items? My Bae?!” =P

But hear me out. I’ll convince you, just as I (or rather the cats) convinced him.

See, the first morning after building the catio, Bae and I wake-up, and Booboo is no-where to be seen. Usually she’s either sitting on the bed-side tables waiting like the faithful hound she (spiritually) embodies, or she’s pawing at the door if we have sacrilegiously opted to keep it closed that night.

Suffice to say, her absence is weird, so we go to look for her.

We look in the linen-cupboard. Not there.

We look in the wardrobe. Nada.

We look in the spare bedroom – maybe she’s harassing Grace. Yeah, nah.

We look in the cupboard under the stairs, where we store the garbage, because hey, sometimes cats are garbage-cats. But no, not there either.

I whistle out the front door, and the Booboo comes running over from under the car, clawing manically at the screen, as if we were the ones that put her out there.

So what the hell happened, you ask?

I’ll tell you what happened.

That little moron, that petit crétin has jumped off the friggin bedroom balcony during the night, trying to get into the downstairs catio.

SO, off we go to Bunnings, first thing on a Saturday morning to get the damn cat-door. Keep in mind, this was also when we were going back and forth every two and half days between Cairns, and while we wanted the cats to be able to use the catio while we were gone, we were also just really fucking tired from all the driving.

There is a legit reason this contraption is so expensive though, ‘cause it lets cats wander freely in-out-out of the house and catio, without needing to leave the door open (‘cause ya know, robbery), or having to cut a hole in your glass door (rental-properties, eh).

The whole mechanism is also pretty cool – it slots into the sliding-door tracks, then uses tension and some other physics kinda thing to keep itself in place, and you can install and uninstall it multiple times, whenever you need. It also comes with a locking thingy for extra security (which is good), and a rubber-strip to make sure all your sweet, sweet air-con doesn’t escape out of any cracks.

It was a bit finicky to install, and it could probably be made a little more user-friendly for the less handy-people out there, but I’m happy with the end product.

“Your next project?” you ask.

Well, the cats already have this and this eating enrichment thingies (yes, I’m insane), as well as some indoor toys, but I wanna build my own cat-tower!

We’ve bought them before, and previous cats never really took to them, but I suspect Booboo would. Now, Bae doesn’t wanna spend $150.00 on another dud cat-tower (fair enough), but I still wanna try one out, goddamnit! Nothing but the best for MY babby cat!

So I’m going to trrrryyyy to make one out of used pallets from the local Community Garden (again, another post).

I’ve already drawn the design, but there’s still a good chance that I will never get ‘round to making the damn thing, which is WHY I’ve put it up here. Maybe by publicly stating my intentions, I’ll forcefully shame myself into following through with my DIY projects!

Adios amigos!