Monday, October 31, 2016

Pacific & Australia - part nine

My Australian explorations continue as we circle the continent counterclockwise. 

A Brisbane sign catches my eye and, of course, Canadians never, ever, ever misspell. Or perhaps vechicle's just another endearing Australian colloquialism. Like ‘arvo’ for afternoon; ‘bonzo’ for great and ‘ute’ for pickup truck. Thanks to for helping me understand Australian English. Invaluable. 

Dogs are different, too.  And not just the tail, note ears. 

The last ‘real’ house I lived in was my parents’ in the 1960s. But domestic architecture interests me. This delightful, slightly down-at heels abode is in Brisbane. 

As is this stunning 1938 deco house. It even has a World War Two air raid shelter.

(Shortly after I returned home, the house - Chateau Nous! - went on the market for $5,750,000 (AUS). Here’s the real estate listing, which I hope will still be accessible after the sale:

Still with architecture, this is the Hamilton Island Yacht Club, work of Sydney architect Walter Barda. I’m reminded of Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer’s designs from the 1940s. See Niemeyer’s restaurant, casino and yacht club in Belo Horizonte. 

This curious - curious in that it’s Australia’s tropical north - classical building was Cairns’ city hall. Built in 1929 (presumably the part of the year when there was still money), it eventually became what, at a quick glance, looks to be a quite decent library.  On second thought, there are loads of classical structures in tropical settings. Perhaps it’s just the combination of a sizzling day and being a zillion miles from Greece or Italy. 

But I haven't come all this way to wonder whether a column’s Corinthian or Doric (turns out they’re Ionic). 

There are more saltwater crocodiles in this part of Australia than humans. 

And, given the chance, they eat people.

Which is why, when this one fancies me, my focus is suddenly lost. Hey! I wasn't scared. Just being cautious.

Lord knows why they’re called ‘salties’, almost an affectionate term.

We’re sailing from Cairns to Darwin. Virtually every recent report about the Great Barrier Reef has been gloomy. Aside from bleaching and crown-of-thorns starfish, which eat corals …

… ships like this have also added to the destruction. A Chinese shipping company’s just been fined $29 million (US) for ploughing into a reef.

Used to be said that the Great Barrier Reef was the largest living thing on earth, but apparently not. It’s a honey fungus in Oregon State. The BBC quotes an Italian chef as saying it goes well with spaghetti. 

Kathy and I have the day’s first coffee as we pass through the Torres Strait between Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Darwin brings more crocodiles and those willing to pay, $130 for one, $180 a couple, to frolic in the ‘cage of death’.

This strikes me as absolute lunacy until I realize that crocodiles aren’t stupid. 

Chopper's been through the act so often, he almost looks bored until a chunk of meat’s plopped in the water.

I have better ways of spending my money.

It’s so hot and humid in Darwin that, after a few minutes ashore, even my palms are sweating. 

The obvious solution is the Hotel Darwin and a pint of Victoria Bitter. 

Kathy looks on as sneaky Michael takes a picture of me.

My time in Northern Australia is drawing to a close. Not a moment too soon as the local newspaper today issued …

… its annual Cyclone Survival Guide. They should know. In 1974 Cyclone Tracy walloped Darwin. The city was levelled and dozens died.

This is all the cyclone left of the sturdy town hall.

As for the Anglican cathedral, well, at least the entrance survived and was incorporated into the new church.

Can’t resist finishing this post with a koala. Mind you, given the lethality of so much Australian wildlife (crocs, snakes, jellyfish), could this be the one koala in a hundred million to sink its claws into my jugular? I keep my distance. 

Brisbane to Darwin - 2114 nautical miles or slightly less than 4000 kilometres and twenty-six pictures. Next stop, Indonesia.