Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fraser Island

Two years ago we went camping on Fraser Island which is off the coast of mid-north Queensland.

One of the beautiful features of Fraser Island is the place called "The Cathedrals".

The entire island is made up of sand. There are no stones or rocks or soil on the island.

Just beautiful beaches, lush green rainforest, the most amazing inlands lakes and escarpments of coloured sands. The colours of the sand range from white to black, with every tan, brown, orange and rust in between.

One famous tourist stop is the Maheno Ship Wreck.

I loved taking these photos through the rusted old ship and out towards the open ocean.

When the tide comes in the waves come crashing over the wreck.

The rusty texture and colour fitted in with the rest of the island....the wreck....the sand......and.....the Dingoes!

The most infamous wildlife is Australia's one and only predator - the dingo.
He looks thin and malnourished but don't be fooled by his lean greyhound like physique. The dingoes roam the island in search of small birds and rodents and are very adept at scavenging from the campers. So much so that there are signs eveywhere warning people not to leave any food out and keep their tents closed at all times. There are also huge wire cages available to lock your food stores in if you need to leave your camp site for any length of time.

This mother dingo watched over her young pup as we walked along the beach early one morning.

This wonky eared dingo looked so cute but as much as we are a family of dog lovers we had to keep reminding ourselves that they are wild dogs and not domestic.

Signs are posted all over the island warning people under a certain height and children under twelve years of age to be accompanied by an adult wherever they walk. In years past campers often fed the dingoes who lost their reserve of humans and then some supposedly turned viscous. There have been reported attacks although I am not certain as to the validity of the claims as there have also been refutes to the attacks made by island staff.

The best time to see the dingoes was very early at sunrise around 5.30am before all the vehicles came along the beach. Then they would laze on the sand or run up and down the seashore. We kept a safe distance at all times. The dingoes would keep their distance too. They were more afraid of us than we should be. Actually, we felt very safe. The only time we saw them come close to another person was when a lone fisherman came down to the beach with a bucket in hand. They must know that sight because quite a few of them followed him closely behind waiting for a chance to steal his bait.

No other pets are allowed on the island and I'm kind of glad that's the case....Jasper and Marley might have made a tasty dingo meal...what do you think?

My favourite photo to take was this one which I called
"Paws, Claws and Digits"
The paws of a dingo, the claws of a seagull and the foot prints of our daughter. 

While the beach here looks very inviting for swimming it is the open ocean and unpatrolled, so anyone swimming here does so at their own risk and peril. Shark Bait! is the word that comes to my mind.

There are plenty of inland lakes to swim in...fresh water lakes. The most famous being Lake McKenzie and definitely worth the 4WD trip inland to get there.

Only the friendly turtles came cautiously and curiously to watch us swim.

There were a host of other interesting creatures to discover on the island....

...and lush greenery inland.

The trees towered above us forming a canopy for the forest floor to thrive.

Some trees we couldn't even see the tops of...

....others were choked by strangler figs. 

All the man made inland roads are sand.

Some rougher than others.

Lichen and moss abound covering the forest floor and grow on the trees.

Only 4WDs are allowed on the island and special permits need to be purchased to drive and camp on Fraser Island.

The only way over to the island is on one of these barges. The trip takes about 20 minutes from the mainland to Fraser Island.

Such an amazing island to visit. Day trips on buses leave very early every morning for those who can't drive over there.

We will definitely be going back there for a second look!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Busy in September

Do you remember me saying how busy I was leading up to September and then into that month? Well, it was because I was planning a big event.

It was my parents 50th wedding Anniversary. It was held at a local reception centre. My parents immigrated to Australia in the late 1950's and met here in Melbourne, Victoria in 1960.

They were very poor and knew nobody. There were a total of two guests at the wedding. My father's sister and his Bestman. It was a civil ceremony followed by homemade sandwiches out of a small suitcase that they had taken along.

So....that's why I wanted to give them a "WEDDING" Anniversary worthy of 50 years together.

(OMA and OPA)

It was a surprise party with over ninety guests from all over Australia and two very special guests who flew in from Vienna, Austria. My mother's sister and her partner came all this way.

Each guest was given a photo of Mum and Dad when they first met fifty years ago as well as a small gold bag of Austrian chocolates.

The guests arrived at 11.00am. My parents arrived at 11.45am. When they were driven up to the entrance by my brother they were greeted by our two children at the front door each holding a gorgeous long stem orange/gold Columbian rose. The closest to GOLD flowers I could get at this time of the year.

That alone brought tears to Oma's eyes.

As they walked in the front door of the Reception they were shocked and blown away, overwhlemed and so lovingly SURPRISED! to see so many of their family and friends that came such a long way, some thousands of miles, to see them on this special occasion. They were greeted by a line up of eighteen children/relatives each holding a Columbian rose and handing it to Oma as she entered. She then had a big bunch of roses.
She said she felt like the Queen being met with flowers and then seeing a guard of honour of guests waiting to say hello. My parents have always been the most simple unassuming and yet hospitable people I have ever known. You deserved to be Queen for the Day Mum. You and Dad.

Opa just looked (as someone humourously described) like a stunned deer staring into the headlights of an oncoming car! He was so overwhelmed that he just wondered into the room aimlessly shaking his head.

Many were friends and relatives they have known for these 50 years. Some newer friends came along too.

As Oma passed from one person to the next the tears just continued and everyone was so delighted to see their tears of joy.

All the while Oma was busy crying and saying hello to people, saying hello and crying! Our surprise guest aunty from Austria stood at the back of the line with the last rose in one hand and her video camera in the other hand hiding her face. When Oma finally reached her she had so many tears in her eyes that I don't think she knew anymore who she was saying hello to. So when my aunty met with her, Oma hugged her, kissed her, said hello and kept moving on. Then my aunty stopped her in her tracks and screamed "Arrrhhhhh" which caught Oma's attention again and this time she realized who it was!!! Well, you should have seen them. They hugged screaming with delight and tears and jumped up and down like two little girls who've just been told they're going to Disneyland!

There was not a dry eye in the room.
It was a sight to see!

Later we all sat down to a sumptious feast and then my parents were interviewed about how they had met, come to Australia, and about their first date.

On Mum and Dad's first date back in 1960 they went to see Rogers and Hammersteins "South Pacific" with Rossano Brazzi and Mitzi Gaynor. Thanks to modern technology I was able to source an original South Pacific poster on Ebay and an original edition theatre brochure for just 50 cents!!! to display behind the present table. Also thanks to iTunes I downloaded the original music score to play when they arrived and during the day.

There was laughter, tears, food and dancing.
The food was delicious.
The event a success.
Especially the whole surprise part of the day. Oma and Opa knew that my brother was coming up from Melbourne to Queensland and that our immediate family were going out for lunch - but not that so many other people would be there as well.

My favourite part of the day apart from their arrival and seeing their stunned faces, was what I affectionately call "The Oma Dance". I had our MC announce for Oma to come to the dance floor. Then he asked all the children to come to the dance floor. Our son approached Oma and asked her "May I have this Dance?" while our daughter danced with my aunty from Vienna. The musician played Heintje's "Oma So Lieb".
It was one of my favourite songs growing up, about a little boy singing to his Oma about going to visit her and her telling him stories and of how she always spoilt him, even when Mummy says No!...Oma would say very quietly...."ofcourse you can!".....

I feel so blessed that our children have grandparents to share their lives with. I grew up without ever knowing mine and it was always my dearest wish that when I had children of my own that they should know that special bond that I missed  - as only grandparents can have with their grandchildren.

My mother used to play Heintje at home when we were children growing up.  He was one of the Vienna Boys Choir back in the 1970's. The song was in German but brought many tears to the eyes of my mother and the other grandmothers there on the day. Heintje sang many songs about Mama and Oma, all very sad and my Mum would often cry as she listened to that album and think of her own mother who had died of cancer when she was only fifteen years old back in Vienna.

Thanks again to technology and iTunes where I was able to track down Henitje's original album. Otherwise I don't know how I would have recorded those two old scratched record my parents still own. 
While I can't post photos of the many guests because of the privacy issues involved I hope you enjoyed seeing photos of the decorations and got the feel of our special family get together.

Wish we could have come too!
But we stayed home and behaved ourselves until Mummy and the family arrived home late at night all tired out but still full of hugs.