Greetings and salutations,
After three and a half glorious weeks in Australia, it was nigh time to be heading back home to the US. Before I take you on that journey, I have a few things to clean up from my time in the Tweed Valley.
On one of our drives through the countryside of the Tweed, we stopped in the quaint rural village of Tyalgum. The main street contains a general store that sells just about anything need locals or visitors need.
Nearby there are several cute shops that sell clothing, housewares, antiques, plants, homemade soaps, books, as well as a couple of restaurants. Some of the stores were damaged in a fire on August 20, 2019 but seem to be recovered and open for business. One could still smell a hint of smoke when entering a couple of the shops. This village is not without controversy. It seems that the village is being overtaken by a sect or cult with the name Hermes Far Eastern Shining also known as the Water People. This spiritual enlightenment group began in 1990 based on the Egyptian philosopher Hermes Trismegistus. They claim to create artifacts that help enlighten mankind. For example, they sell a Sacred Body of Man Bubbler (colored balls on a base) for $12,500 AUD that supposedly unlocks the body density of mortal identification. I don’t have the slightest idea what that means! There have been calls for an investigation into the group, former members describe the members as kind and loving, at least at first, then the dark underbelly emerges. Members are forced to turn over all their assets and work 16 hour days to support the cult. The leaders of this group have bought up or rented most of the housing in this small town of about 300 people. The locals shy away from this town not wanting to give them financial support, however the tourist love the place, an oasis in the shadow of Mt. Warning.
During our weeklong stay with our friends in the Tweed Valley, we had dinner at Friendship Force Club member homes. One evening we had dinner with Margo and her daughter Jenny. The conversation and the dinner was great and the dessert was excellent. I don’t recall what it was called, it looked and tasted so good.
Another evening we were the guests of Lynda Craig who was hosting two Madison Friendship Force members. Lynda prepared a very delicious leg of lamb, a dish I’ve only had a few times in my lifetime. It was excellent!
Then one evening Fay hosted Margo, Jenny, Ludmila (who stayed at Lynda’s for one night), Tomas and Magdi. We had a fun evening trading travel stories and laughing over the many gaffes we’ve made when traveling.
The last evening of our weeklong stay in the Tweed Valley, we had our farewell dinner at the Tumbulgum Tavern, known to the locals as Tumby Pub. This charming historic business is located across the street from the mighty Tweed River. We had a great evening thanking our hosts for a fun and wonderful week. We also wished Ludmila, the President of the Tweed Valley Friendship Force Club, a very happy birthday. Towards the end of the evening our Club gave our little skit that was met with lots of laugher and applause.
I also said farewell to Kerry, the journey coordinator I worked with planning the week long home stay in the Tweed. Thanks Kerry!
Now for a few random photos that really didn’t fit any other blog post. This photo is overlooking the Tweed River towards the ocean. You’ll notice that the density of housing increases as you get closer to the ocean.
We drove by this place of business almost everyday. I thought the name of the business was intriguing especially considering the type of service they provide.
On one of our drives in the country, I noticed this sign advertising horse manure for sale, I almost wanted to call the number!
It was a great 7 days with Fay, she was a great host and I enjoyed her company. Thanks Fay!
We saw this sign as we drove around the Tweed, no message could be truer!
Some of our group left the Tweed by bus on Sunday morning headed to Brisbane for a late evening flight back to the US. During our bus ride, we passed this beach with people working on their tans, swimming, or surfing. Remember it’s spring in Australia and the temps are similar to Florida.
Brisbane is the capital of the state of Queensland and the third largest city in Australia with about 2.5 million residents. It’s one of the oldest cities in Australia and is a very popular with tourists, many who are seeking the sun on the nearby Gold Coast to the south and the Sunshine Coast beaches to the north of the city. The city is a major regional transportation hub and sports a deep water port for shipping and receiving goods from around the world. Many Australian companies call Brisbane their home as do a number of colleges and universities. There is a large information technology sector as well as financial services, higher education, healthcare, and public service jobs. There are also oil refineries and paper mills that employ thousand of residents. It’s a diverse city with over 30% of residents classified as foreign born, many from New Zealand but also immigrants from Ireland, UK, Germany, China, Vietnam, Indian and other countries.
We arrived at about noon at the nearly empty City Transit Centre. There was track work going on and we learned that we would need to take about a 15 minute bus ride to catch the train to the airport. Since we had about 10 hours before our flight left, we searched for a place to store our luggage so we could explore the city. A few blocks away from the train station, we found a youth hostel that would hold our bags for a crisp (or ragged) $10 AUD bill! Money well spent thus giving us the freedom to go look around the bustling center of Brisbane. After stowing our luggage, we made our way over to the Queen Street Mall. This outdoor pedestrian is about 1/3 mile long, features about 700 business establishments including restaurants, and receives over 26 million visitors per year. Let’s say that on this beautiful Sunday, the place was quite busy.
After a pleasant lunch, we (John, Dorothy and I) headed off towards the Brisbane River that winds it’s way through the city. On our way, we saw this crew capturing some video, we weren’t sure what but they filmed the scene a few times before they were satisfied.
At the River, we jumped on the CityHopper, the free inner city ferry service run by the City of Brisbane. We decided to ride the whole loop then depart at the Maritime Museum and walk the promenade along the South Bank Parklands.
The South Bank Parkland was the site of Brisbane’s World Expo 88 and converted into a public park in the early 90’s. In addition to the riverfront promenade, there is a large swimming pool that was very busy on the warm day, the Arbour with flowering bougainvilleas, the Nepal Peace Pagoda, and the Wheel of Brisbane, a 200 foot tall ferris wheel.
Here’s the view of the Central Business District from the South Bank Parklands. Brisbane is the site of some of Australia’s tallest buildings and ranks as one of the cities in the world with the most skyscrapers with more being built.
As the day was pretty warm, we came across a fella selling ice cream from a cart, it hit the spot!
As we made our way back to the train station for our ride to the Brisbane Airport, we came upon this memorial. The date was November 10 so the day before Veterans Day in the US. As veterans, John and I appreciate their commitment to remember those who have served in their armed forces and especially those who gave their lives for their country.
The 13 hour plane ride from Brisbane to Los Angeles was more pleasant that we expected. When we were checking in, we learned that the plane was not full so got assigned seats in a row where no one else was seated. This allowed us to stretch out and get some real rest on the ride home. We had a long layover in LA and were on a overnight flight to Detroit before arriving in Madison Monday morning. Below are a few photos moving through the Detroit airport, I was tired but these bright lights got my attention.
The flight to Madison was delayed about an hour due to the lack of a crew and the need for the plane to be deiced. We were greeted in Madison by about 4 inches of snow, making us think about the warm weather we left behind in Australia!
This post completes the Australia series of posts. Thanks for riding along, I hope you enjoyed the trip. Next up, Door County in the winter.
Until then, happy travels!