We’ve had 2 weeks away, visiting family in Brisbane. Each time we go over, we’re reminded how different Australia is, the climate, the houses, the language, the plants & most interestingly, the wildlife.

We had a number of trips out into wilder parts of the country,  just a few hours from Brissie. We saw fields of Swan plants growing wild, hand fed Crimson Rosellas outside a tiny tea shop, came across a big spider, with an even bigger web. The web, part of which crossed the road, & was yellow, it was so thick you could twang it like fishing line.

We drove a rugged dirt track through the Condamine Gorge, much to my delight there were over a dozen fords, I love fords! The fences are even different, the wires are threaded through holes drilled through each post, & some posts are massive. Other times, we’ve gone over in the dry season, so it was lovely to see all the verges & trees looking fresh & green.

We went up to the Bunya Mountains, a couple of hours N.W. of Brisbane. Bunya trees are large conifers, which grow abundantly in that area. They have huge cones, which hold huge nuts, which are edible. The main season finishes in March, but we found enough to try them out. There are notices on open sites reminding people not to stand or park under the trees, as the cones weigh several kilos!!

We tried them roasted, & boiled, I quite liked them, tasting like a cross between a Chestnut & a Pine Nut, but I was in the minority! I was so impressed by the scale of them, remembering how fiddley it is to get a teaspoon of Pinenuts from our tree at home. If only they tasted as nice as pine nuts! (Geoff snuck that comment in when I wasn’t looking!)

We also visited Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, which was lovely, & full of interesting plants. Alas our camera ran out of batteries part way through. We were especially taken with some beautiful large Bamboos, & the fruit trees area, which had all sorts of weird & wonderful fruits growing there. Lots of Goannas & other lizards scuttling about on the paths & in the undergrowth. One cheeky one was checking out the cafe.

We spent a couple of days based at Kangaroo Point, near the river. We stayed in a motel & walked around to South Bank, Galleries , shops etc from there. The first day we had torrential rain,but armed with voluminous plastic ponchos, donated by Dad, we squelched around, & although still quite damp, we were warm enough. Couldn’t resist taking photos of the umbrella brigade, stoutly crossing the bridge at the end of the day.

Home again and driving back from Wellington Airport, after midnight, along the coastal road, & cutting up through Happy Valley we hardly saw a single car & it was so quiet, such a contrast to the noise & bustle of Brisbane. We came home through the Wairarapa & loved all the Autumn colours & best of all it was cool. There is a lot to be said for having seasons.

Our own bed, the dogs to greet us, & all the other minutiae that make up our lives here, bliss. Definitely one of the unsought benefits of travel is that we can see our own place with fresh eyes, just for a bit, & appreciate how precious that is.