Barry’s 60th E-BASH

I love this picture of Barry even though it's so dark and out of focus - it nonetheless conveys a sense of the lovely man that he is - here giving a

I love this picture of Barry Chatel even though it’s so dark and out of focus – it nonetheless conveys a sense of the lovely man that he is – here giving a “thank you” speech to all those who attended his 60th birthday bash last night.

It’s only about 18 months since Barry Chatel was rocking and rolling at my 70th birthday party – and last night I returned the compliment by dancing (part of!) the night away as we celebrated his 60th.

And what a great night it was.  74  guests packed into the Tamborine Mountain Bowls Club to shove Baz into his seventh decade with Enthusiasm, Exuberance and Energy!  The letter “E” being the chosen theme for the night, taxing our ingenuity to its uttermost.  Some went for the easy option so there were a few “Elegant” women in the room and an elf or two.  Egyptians were scattered here and there, very beautifully got-up (Linda!  Janice!).  Others really put their imaginations to work and I was particularly taken with the “EpiPen” and the “Excuses”.

This all had a funny side because during the past couple of days various party guests could be seen haunting North Tamborine’s three op-shops and the Bargains ‘R Us over at Eagle Heights, all frantically searching for costume ideas and props.  We kept – literally – bumping into each other and trying not to reveal the secrets of our fancy dress.  All the more fun, then, when last night All Was Revealed!

I reflected, while sipping my wine and eating my roast beef, that one of the many pleasures of life in a small town is that there are so few degrees of separation.  I didn’t know everyone at the party and I don’t suppose anybody else did either except the hosts, but I knew most of them and our lives are intertwined in many different ways, yet all linked to Barry and Linda.  Thus apart from our “hard core” of singers and musicians there were people from Tamborine Mountain Little Theatre, Bird Group and Landcare; service clubs, the Bowls Club, social workers, librarians, writers, photographers, car enthusiasts, legal types, IT nerds, health professionals and altogether an amazingly cross-section of population – many of us belonging to several of these groupings.

I think this is what makes our mountain celebrations so warm and vibrant…we are connected and comfortable with one another in our many shared interests and enthusiasms.

Bob, who never goes to parties on the advice of his doctor, went to this one because he thinks so highly of Barry.  He even seemed to enjoy himself and stayed until after 10 pm (the cake cutting) before pottering home on his mobility scooter, lights flashing cheerily.  I stayed on a bit later and then headed homeward with Renee, both of us tired from so much dancing and talking but chattering happily about what a great party it had been and what fun we can still have in our youthful seventies and how good it is to live in such a place where we can walk home safely late at night under a splendidly starry sky.

Here are a few pics  – once the dancing started I was up there on the floor a-rockin’ an’ a rollin’ an’ a twistin’ with no more time for photography.  But the cameras were clicking everywhere so I’m sure there’ll be plenty of other pics up there on Facebook!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Glampout at Cherrabah

Bush and birds equates to bliss for the Tamborine Mountain Bird Group and so it was with great enthusiasm that we headed west of the Great Dividing Range for our annual campout – now renamed the “glampout” because most of us don’t actually camp.

This year our destination was Cherrabah Resort, between Warwick and Killarney.  “Resort” is a bit of a misnomer because it’s a former riding ranch sort of converted to a place to stay for those wanting an Aussie bush experience.  I say “sort of” because it’s been let to ramble along a bit, with a few faded signs here pointing to natural attractions – and to better days.

For our group it was just perfect.  Friendly country-style hospitality, simple but delicious and abundant food (none of your “gourmet” truffle oil-infused dishes here), 6000 acres of forest and creek and hills with rocky outcrops.  And our group of 21 had it all to ourselves!  Apart from a few horses – and birds.  The rooms are basic but clean, there’s a bar and a dining room and a lovely flagged terrace with sunrise/sunset views.  Miimal but very pleasant staff.  What more could you want?

We had two nights there and it wasn’t enough…but then it’s less than three hours drive from home so at least we can go back.  In the meantime, here’s how the trip went, in pictures:

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SUNRISE, SUNSET

EHJune16 086

 

I’ve become one of those boring people who go to the same place for holidays every year.  I never thought I would but that’s what age does to you!

When Bob and I were young we always wanted novelty – somewhere different and exciting. Now, we find more comfort and pleasure in familiarity.  The challenges – for Bob at least – of foreign travel now far outweigh the discomforts and inconveniences. And let’s face it, we’ve been most places and done it all in our day. So four times a year or so we get into our car and make the brief morning’s journey to our favourite beach place, Evans Head. It’s not so much a holiday, in fact, but a second home where we can change from the mountains to the sea.

And we have made an important discovery.  Though the location is the same, the experience is always different!  No two visits are alike, not just because of changing seasons and weather but because it doesn’t matter where you go, nothing is ever quite the same from one day to the next. Let alone one year to the next.  Familiarity, we’ve found, doesn’t breed contempt – it breeds love and the ability to look beyond the known and obvious to delights not appreciated before.

Thus we seek out new places to walk, birds not seen there before, plants to recognise and photograph that were previously unnoticed.  New eating places too – because the one downside about Evans Head is that it offers very few good places to dine out and these have become fewer over the years.  It’s why I try to pick times when the small (only a couple of boats actually) trawlers are going out – I could live on fresh prawns!

This downside has its upside.  The lack of fine dining, along with the general unsophistication of the place (wi fi access very limited, general dislike of credit cards, no serious effort at creating a tourist trade) means the only regular visitors to modest little Evans Head are people just like us, content with the simple gifts freely offered by Nature.

So, here we are back from another relaxing week at our favourite getaway place and once again the photos tell the story – the same subjects but with different moods and aspects.  And a focus on the splendid sunrises and sunsets of late autumn in the sub-tropics.

(By the way, if you click on the photos you get the captions)

HEADING SOUTH

SUNRISE…

SUNSET

BEING THERE

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nature’s art and the naked king

Yesterday we had a wonderful day out and I mean that quite literally because it was a day full of nature’s wonders – mountains, lakes, streams, rolling countryside, trees, flowers, birds, butterflies.  And also some rather horrible sculpture.

It was such a beautiful morning, with cooler weather and some late rain expected, that we packed a picnic and headed for the back country.  As we do whenever we have a rate free day.

Of course we packed our binoculars and cameras along with all the food and a couple of beers, and also my butterfly net (no, I don’t kill them, just catch them and photograph them and let them go!), plus maps showing all the little back-country roads and creeks.  Eternally seeking new good birding spots!

First we headed for Lake Wyaralong where we stopped for smoko (chocolate eclaires and iced coffee if you’re interested) at the delightful picnic spot there.  Delightful because there are several nice new little shelters with tables and benches, all with good views over the lake.  Decent loos, too!

We were also interested to see how the new sculpture park at the top of the hill there had settled down since we last visited nearly a year ago and saw the sculptures being made.  Though an intelligent attempt has been made to fit these appropriately into the landscape my view remains what it was – most of them are pretentious rubbish!  There is a view that anything is “art” if the artist declares it to be so but it’s not a view I share.  Surely there have to be some standards, some way of judging what is good art and what is not?  Given that taste is subjective, still we need to have some criteria of judgment where professional art is concerned.  Bearing in mind the artist expects to be paid for it!

I find these sculptures for the most part naive in vision and crudely executed.  Where is the art?  Does giving the piece a name that reflects the natural landscape or an indigenous concept automatically confer public acceptance of their worth?  Obviously some think so and thus standards become compromised and self-expression manifests itself as self-indulgence.  And who dares to say a word?  It’s like Hans Andersen’s King who wore no clothes and nobody dared to tell him he was naked!  At the Wyaralong Sculpture Park the King is most definitely in the altogether!

Yet all around Nature offers so much art for free!  Exquisitely sculpted mountains, rich blue lakes and graceful wild creatures.  If we’re going to paint or sculpt them we need to try and outdo Nature, not just imitate it.  Or what’s the point?

So I reflected as I drive west from Wyaralong and took a little track parallel to the Beaudesert-Boonah Road where there’s a lovely little creek and a small cleared section of bank on which to sit and watch birds and turtles and whatever else wanders by.

We then took a new road (to us) up to the higher country behind Boonah and south to eventually meet the Boonah-Rathdowney Road.  A narrow road that changes from bitumen to gravel and back again and offers some splendid views – though not a lot in the way of birds as this is farmland for the most part.

A steep and gravelly descent to the valley took us along another pretty creek (Cannon Creek) and having failed to find any new picnic spot of sufficient appeal we headed to the foot of brooding Mt Maroon where there’s one of our very favourite lunch spots – by a pretty and peaceful waterhole surrounded by birds.  Just the perfect spot to munch our cheeses and olives and rare roast beef and horseradish rolls and turkey and cucumber sandwiches and grapes.  Doesn’t get much better!…

 

And all along this road are views of the Great Dividing Range and the mountains south to the border – deep blue and brooding and with the rain clouds massing above them

Ranges1 Ranges3 Ranges4 Ranges4a Ranges5 Ranges6 Ranges7

A pretty little farm in the valley as we descend from the high country

A pretty little farm in the valley as we descend from the high country

 

Bob settles down for lunch by the waterhole at the foot of Mt Maroon

Bob settles down for lunch by the waterhole at the foot of Mt Maroon

A perfect picnic spot - no people, no noise except birdsong.

A perfect picnic spot – no people, no noise except birdsong.

I go for a bit of a walk after lunch and look back down towards the water hole.  This is the start of the Mt Maroon climb

I go for a bit of a walk after lunch and look back down towards the water hole. This is the start of the Mt Maroon climb

The brooding peaks of Mt Maroon from below.  I've climbed that right peak (it's a long, hard slog and rock clamber, not a real climb with ropes etc) but doubt I could do it today.

The brooding peaks of Mt Maroon from below. I’ve climbed that right peak (it’s a long, hard slog and rock clamber, not a real climb with ropes etc) but doubt I could do it today.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Birding at Emerald Lakes

Pat and I happy to be back birding together for 2016

Pat and I happy to be back birding together for 2016

Well, the Tamborine Mountain Bird Group is now well back in action for 2016 with 14 of us setting off at dawn yesterday (April 13) for Emerald Lakes, down at the Gold Coast.  We didn’t see the hoped-for Baillon’s Crake but we did get 50 birds just in that one small area alone.

We went on to Schuster Park on Currumbin Creek which is no longer as good for birdwatchers as it was,  now being surrounded by housing development and with a large and noisy school athletics competition in progress!  So we had smoko there and retreated to Fleay’s boardwalk which is always good birding and a lovely place to be.  Here we saw the bird of the day – nay, the bird of several years because it’s the first time the group as a whole has seen the white morph of the reef egret (heron as was) and most had never seen it at all.  I found it lurking in the mangroves just off the boardwalk and was so excited and keen to summon the others I forgot to take a pic!  But others didn’t forget and it’ll soon be up on the Tamborine Mountain Natural History Site.

After that we went on to Hinterland Park which offers a really good walk through varied habitat.  We had lunch there and though the birds were not prolific after lunch we agreed that in future we’ll give this very pleasant bit of bushland early morning priority.

Here are a few pics:

 

Newest member Jan, a very welcome addition to our group, gets her first look at Emerald Lakes and all its water birds

Newest member Jan, a very welcome addition to our group, gets her first look at Emerald Lakes and all its water birds

 

Happy smile from Garry as its also his first time at the Lakes

Happy smile from Garry as its also his first time at the Lakes

Pat and Ros confer

Pat and Ros confer

While Lawrence checks out the Magpie Geese and other waterfowl

While Lawrence checks out the Magpie Geese and other waterfowl

John waits for something worth photographing to fly by

John waits for something worth photographing to fly by

While Jeff just carries on shooting

While Jeff just carries on shooting

Dunno what Jill said to amuse Jan and Marg - Jeff carries on shooting regardless - that man never stops!

Dunno what Jill said to amuse Jan and Marg – Jeff carries on shooting regardless – that man never stops!

Found this little fella just hanging around

Found this little fella just hanging around

Lovely new bit of boardwalk at Fleays and a bench just big enough for our whole group

Lovely new bit of boardwalk at Fleays and a bench just big enough for our whole group

Marg made us all pose on the long bench for a pic - and the wind blew her hat into this small and murky pond!

Marg made us all pose on the long bench for a pic – and the wind blew her hat into this small and murky pond!

 

I have a passion for mangroves and this is the long seed pod of my favourite Red Mangrove

I have a passion for mangroves and this is the long seed pod of my favourite Red Mangrove

 

...and here' s the spent flower and swollen stem

…and here’ s the spent flower and swollen stem

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sandy shimmers into her sixties!

The birthday girl - stunningly arrayed

The birthday girl – stunningly arrayed

 

It was 1001 nights rolled into one when mega-creative friend Sandy Baillie turned 60 in splendid style last night!

Almost everyone present obeyed Sultana Sandy’s command to come in Middle Eastern dress and so most of us did – with styles from Morocco to India to Samarkand.

Great food, great fun and of course lots of exotic dancing.  Oh, and wine of course because the party was held in a vineyard – and the Eden Restaurant there did Sandy proud.

It all went to show that you can have as much fun at sixty as you did at sixteen…it’s just that your joints and muscles ache the next day!

Happy birthday dear Sandy and many, many more of them.  Can’t wait for your 70th!

 

Posted in Birthday, My home, Parties, Uncategorized, Wining and dining | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Thornebirds fly away!

One of the two vans needed to move the Thorne's possessions...most of them Maureen's clothes!  No wonder she always looks so good.

One of the two vans needed to move the Thorne’s possessions…most of them Maureen’s clothes! No wonder she always looks so good.

Monday was a Black Day here at Capo di Monte because it was the day when our dear friends and neighbours Maureen and Patrick Thorne moved out – only 45 minutes away at Mudgeeraba but still too far to nip through the back gate every time the champagne cork pops.  And vice versa!

Anyway, we gave them a right royal Capo send-off with a dinner for all and a couple of private parties.  And when the big day dawned there were several of us to load up our cars with the more fragile goods and fall over the packing cases and get in the way of the removalists and generally make nuisances of ourselves.  It took two vans – one huge and one medium – to movde the Thornes from one small house to another, as well as five cars!

Then the proud (but sad) cavalcade headed down the mountain where we were able to go over the whole business in reverse.  The cheerful removal crew – christened by me The Maori Mafia – must have had a laugh at all these oldies (not one of us under 70) tripping up and down the stairs with armloads of stuff after first getting lost and driving round and round the hilly and confusing streets of little Mudgeeraba (Patrick’s fault!).

It wasn’t the easiest of moves as there were a couple of hitches and poor Maureen didn’t get down there herself until about 5pm, to face a house full of chaos and a squillion cartons (mostly filled with her clothes!) everywhere.  But at least the move is done and she’s got the rest of her life to sort it all out.  Though those of us helping  made a solemn vow – not one of us would ever move house again!

It’s so sad to see them ago…but they’ll be back, at least now and then.  They are returning to spend Christmas Day with us, for one thing, and there’ll be many a Capo occasion where the Thornes will be welcome participants as in these past five golden years.  Though we shall miss Mo’s inimitable touch with the decorations.

Farewell, dear friends, and best of luck in your new home.

 

Of course before they left we had to have at least one more goodbye party!

And then it was moving day…

 

Posted in Moving house, My home | Tagged , | Leave a comment