Australia 2004, part 4: Cooktown

Endeavour River from Grassy Hill, Cooktown

Cooktown marks the point where Captain Cook beached his ship, the Endeavour, in June 1770, thus becoming Australia’s first non-indigenous, though temporary, settlement. The town itself was founded in 1873 as a supply port for the goldfields along the Palmer River, and at its peak it had a population of over 30,000. The guidebook we used in 2004 gave the population as 1410: interestingly, according to Wikipedia, the 2016 census puts it at 2631. It’s not very big anyway!

After our drive along the Bloomfield Track, we arrived in Cooktown for a three night stay in Milkwood Lodge Cabins. This was one of the places John had phoned in advance to check accessibility for a person in plaster to the knee, and the owners had kindly moved our booking to a cabin with no steps to the entrance. They couldn’t have been more helpful, and I see they are still in business getting good reviews on Trip Advisor, so I feel confident recommending them. The only downside is that a bushturkey seemed to think he had visiting rights, and when not pushing his way inside could be heard scrabbling about on the roof! But we were quite fond of him.

On our first day we explored the town, first of all driving to the lookout on Grassy Hill, with its 19th century iron lighthouse, from where we got a good overview.

Cooktown’s main street is Charlotte Street which has many historic buildings along it. We drove up and down so that I could look at it, then John returned on foot to take photographs while I sat on this bench resting my leg. I look quite happy, but I do remember shedding a small tear at this point because wandering round historic buildings is what I love doing.

There is, of course, a statue to the eponymous Captain Cook, and a graveyard where the most interesting memorial was to Mrs Watson “heroine of Lizard Island tragedy of 1881” and her infant son, Ferrier.

Mrs Watson also has a memorial in town, on which she is given a name – Mary. For some reason, we don’t have a photograph of it, so here is the Wikimedia image. We do have a picture of one of the plaques, which you can see below the Wiki photo – “last entry” refers to a journal she kept of her ordeal.

Mary Watson's Monument (2010)
Heritage branch staff / CC BY https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

It’s a tragic story: the monument was erected in 1886 to honour this young woman, who died, along with her infant son and her Chinese employee Ah Sam, from thirst and exposure after a conflict with a group of indigenous people in October 1881. I can’t do the story justice in this short post: it’s well worth reading the Wikipedia entry if you are interested. Important points I took away from the article are that this is the only known public monument to an individual woman (other than a head of state) in Queensland; and the way it illustrates the injustices which accompanied early European settlement, and the lack of communication and understanding between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. That the memorial does not mention Ah Sam is another illustration of the racist attitudes of the time.

On our second day we explored the area around the town, visiting Isabella Falls, Endeavour River Falls, Barretts Lagoon, and Archer Point.

I wasn’t able to do very much at any of these places except look, but at least we weren’t inhibited from enjoying nice cafes during our stay – often with a view and a good beer.

It was now a week since my accident and I hadn’t yet told anyone at home, so on our last night in Cooktown I made the dreaded phone calls to my parents and my closest colleague. All were sympathetic, of course, so having got that out of the way, we packed up to head back to Cairns and (hopefully) to enjoy the last few days of our Australian adventure.

Australia 2004, Part 3: Daintree

Daintree Cape Tribulation Heritage Lodge

I was so looking forward to our four nights on Cape Tribulation in Daintree National Park, Queensland, where the rainforest comes right down to the sea. It was indeed beautiful, but our nights were reduced to three after the unscheduled stop in Cairns to patch me up after breaking two metatarsals. We manged a trip on the Daintree River Train to see crocodiles, but otherwise our time in Cape Trib consisted largely of driving around looking for places where the road was near enough to the sea for me to glimpse it. There was nearly always a strip of forest between them, and we only found one place where the path was short enough, and smooth enough, for me to make it onto the beach. I did insist, however, that John had time each day to do something without having to look after me, hence the horse-riding picture. Meanwhile, I relaxed on our veranda.

We left Cape Trib via the coast road – the 4WD-only Bloomfield Track – on our way north to Cooktown. In the pictures below, the “road” disappears into the river. It was a very bumpy ride!

About 28km from Cooktown, the track links with the “inland route” by which we would travel back a few days later. On this section, we stopped at Black Mountain National Park with its thousands of precarious looking square, black granite boulders. The mountain is known to Aboriginal people as Kalcajagga, or Place of the Spears. As with most sights, I enjoyed it from the front seat of the car.

Shortly after this, we arrived in Cooktown for a three night stay.

Australia 2004, Part 2: Port Douglas disaster

Wangetti Beach from the Rex Lookout between Cairns and Port Douglas

Most of the rest of our trip was to be spent in Far North Queensland. On arrival in Cairns we picked up our hire vehicle, a 4×4, and set off for Port Douglas for two nights.

The following day, we had booked a Quicksilver Cruise to the Outer Barrier Reef, including a chance to go snorkelling.

This was memorable, but not as memorable as what happened that evening. After dinner, we went for a wander round the harbour area. When confronted with a post-and-rope barrier, I made the split-second decision to step over it rather than retrace my steps. What I didn’t realise was that the ground on the other side was lower – not much, but enough that one foot dropped further than expected and the other failed to clear the rope. I fell in a crumpled heap to the ground.

John helped me up and I felt no pain until I tried to put my left foot down – aargh! I could feel movement where there shouldn’t be movement, and knew immediately that something was broken. I managed to hobble back to the hotel, by walking on the side of my foot, and we went to bed very worried about what would happen next.

The following morning, hotel staff helped us to get an appointment with a local doctor and I entered the Australian health service. I found it very efficient, although there was a lot of driving around for things that would probably all happen under the same roof here. For example, the doctor wanted me to have an X-ray which would happen in a hospital at home. Because the local facility was closed that day, we were sent to one in another town which I was surprised to find was just a unit in a shopping centre. I was handed the X-rays (which I still have), then it was back to the doctor in Port Douglas who confirmed what I already knew: I had broken two metatarsals.

After much phoning, he got me an appointment the next day at the Fracture Clinic at Cairns Base Hospital, so off we went back to Cairns when we should already have been at our next destination. On arrival at the hastily booked hotel, John was despatched first to an address the doctor had given us to procure a pair of crutches (which I also still have), then to buy a takeaway dinner which we ate in our room. This was our view, the only picture we have of Cairns!

To cut a long story short, I was plastered up and sent on my way. I have two complaints about the plaster cast (or stookie as we call it here). First, I was given a choice of colour and picked blue. Had I known that, once dry, they were going to slit it down each side and tape it up, I might have chosen pink to match the tape. (This was because I would have to fly with the plaster on, and it needed to be easily removed if my leg swelled up.) Second, the doctor in Cairns said I mustn’t put weight on my foot, so it was not a walking cast and I hopped around for the next two weeks. The doctor I saw at home was very scathing about this and said the foot should have been load bearing the whole time. This would have made life so much easier, and allowed me to see so much more on the rest of our trip. Still, we made the best of things and, as you can see below, I was still smiling as we re-joined our schedule the next day to make our way to Daintree.

The accident was on the 6th of July, 2004, so I have recently passed the 16th anniversary. Does it still affect my life? Yes it does. The doctor in Cairns said that in a few months I wouldn’t know that I had done it, but there is never a day passes when I am not conscious of it. I still get a certain amount of pain and discomfort, and my left foot is quite inflexible. It has little power in it which makes going uphill more arduous than it needs to be, and can affect my balance on uneven ground. Someday, I am fairly sure, I am going to need some sort of surgery on it.

But back to 2004. I can’t leave this subject without paying tribute to John who was an absolute rock throughout. Not one word of reproach passed his lips: I can tell you that if it had been the other way round, and he had done something that daft, I would probably (definitely!) not have been so restrained. He spent ages on the phone calling ahead to accommodation, airlines, and other places where we had reserved services, to make sure that my needs would be met, and just generally took care of me for the remaining two weeks of our tour. He’s a keeper!

Needless to say, these days I never jump over barriers and always walk round.

Australia 2004, Part 1: Sydney and Brisbane

We visited Australia for the first and, so far, only time in the summer of 2004. It was something we had looked forward to for years and we expected it to be memorable, which indeed it was, but not always for good reasons as you will find out as my story unfolds.

We arrived in Sydney at 6am one morning, having flown from Glasgow via Heathrow and Bangkok with no stopovers. It was my first time travelling Business Class (thanks to airmiles) which meant we got some sleep on the journey, but I still spent the first week with severe jet-lag. We had three nights in Sydney and spent large chunks of the time wandering around the harbour area in a complete daze.

One of the things that strikes me looking back over this whole trip is how few photographs we have compared to the number we would take today. John had a digital camera, but I was still carrying a camera with film. I’m not sure why, especially as many of my pictures replicate the digital ones, though there is an advantage to that because I have carefully labelled them on the back with exact locations. As an example of this lack, on our second day in Sydney we took an early ferry from Circular Quay to Manly, walked the Manly Scenic Walkway to Spit Bridge, and took the bus from there back to the city. I remember this walk being lovely, but we have only two digital images and a handful of prints!

On our final evening we climbed to the summit of the Harbour Bridge, which was a great experience. I remember climbing a ladder, putting my head through a hatch and feeling a train whizz past. It felt like inches away but I’m sure was at a much safer distance!

The following day, we flew to Brisbane to stay three nights with my aunt and uncle, Elspeth and Ian McKay. Elspeth is the middle one of my father’s three younger sisters, and although she and Ian had lived in Australia all my life we had met at various points over the years. Some of their spells back in the UK were quite lengthy, and I remember Elspeth looking after Dad and me when Mum was in hospital having my younger sister.

The highlight of our visit was the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, which we discovered also housed kangaroos and a variety of birds and reptiles.

Ian died a few years ago, but it would be nice to think we could visit Elspeth again some day. If we do, it will be at the end of the holiday when my body has recovered from jet-lag and I’m less likely to disgrace myself by falling asleep every evening!

From Brisbane we flew to Cairns for the next part of our adventure: visits to the coral reef and the rainforest. Things were about to go wrong …

East Dunbartonshire: Trails + Tales

Baldernock Parish Church

In early July, John took a week off work. This coincided with the time when restrictions on how far you could travel for leisure in Scotland eased slightly, and we ventured into the countryside for the first time since lockdown. Not too far, just over the city boundary to East Dunbartonshire where we discovered a network of Trails + Tales, several of which we followed.

Baldernock Trail

The Baldernock trail started at the pretty parish church, and had attractive views – even if we could still see the city in the distance.

Torrance Trail

The Torrance Trail started at the village war memorial. It was cold and wet as the pictures probably show.

A feature of most of the trails is a series of public artworks (Jaqueline Donachie’s tributes to women health workers already appeared in my Three times a lady post). Here we found Gumnut and a whole row of eight or nine Scholars Rocks, one of which had been customised with a small plaque reading “ALS and RR Kissing Post 2019”. Aww!

My lockdown hair was bad, but not usually this bad! The wind and rain had done their worst. Towards the end of the walk we came across a row of tenements which looked quite odd set amongst fields.

Once back in Torrance, we added on an extra loop out to Cadder Church via the River Kelvin and the golf course, and back along the Forth and Clyde Canal.

Lennoxtown / Clachan of Campsie trail

The highlight of this day was not part of the trail as such. We went “off piste” to tour the immaculate grounds of Schoenstatt. The Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt is a Roman Catholic Marian movement founded in Germany in 1914 by Father Joseph Kentenich. Its name, which aptly means beautiful place, refers to a small village near Koblenz. Schoenstatt Scotland operates as a Retreat Centre.

Kirkintilloch

The final trail we followed was round the town of Kirkintilloch and the nearby village of Waterside. It was very green with parkland, river and canal, an old cemetery to explore, historic buildings, and artworks. There was even a ghost sign to enjoy. However, we got very wet again – John does know how to pick a week off!

So those were our first, baby steps outside the city after lockdown: life was starting to feel more normal. Linked to Jo’s Monday Walks. Her temperatures are a bit hotter than mine!

Stirling

Stirling Castle: Royal Palace from Queen Anne Garden

An excursion to Stirling was one of the few days out we had at the beginning of the year before the torrential rains of February / March and the following months of lockdown. As Stirling Castle reopened on 1st August (pre-booked tickets only) this seems an appropriate time to publish my post about it which has been lingering in drafts for some months. It was a fabulous day, so be prepared for a lot of photographs!

Starting at the castle, we first of all wandered around the outside. The grey building is the Royal Palace and the golden one is the Great Hall. Views from the walls round the Palace are magnificent.

The first building we went into was the Royal Palace, one of the best-preserved Renaissance buildings in the UK, which has been refurbished to look as it might have done in the 1540s. This includes ceilings with brightly-painted replicas of the Stirling Heads (the originals can be seen in a museum onsite which we didn’t visit this time) and unicorns everywhere. The Hunt of the Unicorn tapestries are also replicas, based on a series created in the Low Countries in the early 1500s which are now in the Metropolitan Museum of New York’s Cloisters. They took 13 years to weave and cost £2 million.

It’s not so long since you could watch part of the tapestry being woven in one of the castle’s outlying buildings (they were completed in 2014). Now the same building hosts an exhibition about the weaving process. I learned a lot from the panel of samples shown below, especially the knee samples. The single knee was woven at eight warps per centimetre which matches the 15th century originals. The other two knees are woven at four warps per centimetre, which is the warp count chosen for the replicas. This saved 13 years of production time – how much respect is due to the original weavers? What an achievement.

Next, we visited the Chapel Royal, built in 1593-4 on the orders of James VI who wanted somewhere suitable for the baptism of his son and heir, Prince Henry. In 1603 the Union of the Crowns saw James head south to rule from England, and in 1625 he was succeeded by his surviving younger son Charles I. The frieze was painted by Valentine Jenkin in 1628 in the expectation of a coronation visit to Scotland by the new king. He didn’t come.

The Great Hall is the largest banqueting hall ever built in Scotland and was used for feasts, dances and pageants. Completed for James IV in 1503, it has four pairs of tall windows at the dais end, where the king and queen sat, and an impressive Scottish oak triple height ceiling.

Of course, you would not expect us to miss out on a visit, or two, to the Café! Having already had lunch there, we popped back for a cup of tea before venturing out again.

Suitably fortified , we explored the Old Town Graveyard which lies between the castle and Holy Rude Church. The ladies in the glass case are “Margaret, virgin martyr of the ocean wave, with her like-minded sister Agnes”. These were part of the educational and “improving” atmosphere of Victorian Stirling. Eighteen year old Margaret Wilson was a heroine of the Presbyterian Reformation who was executed by drowning in the Solway Firth for refusing to renounce her Protestant faith.

Shown below are Argyll’s Lodging (pink) and Cowane’s Trust (yellow). The former is a 17th century townhouse which can be visited with a castle entry ticket. Cowane’s Hospital, now run by a charitable trust, is also a 17th-century building. The merchant John Cowane (1570–1633), whose statue adorns the front, left 40,000 merks in his will for the establishment of an almshouse.

On nearby Broad Street is the Mercat Cross (another unicorn) and Norie’s House. James Norie was a lawyer and town clerk who built his fashionable new house in 1671.  His bewigged head looks down from the top of the roof.

Walking further down into town we came across representations of various historic figures. A howling wolf, here carved from a tree stump, appears on Stirling’s coat of arms. Legend has it that in the 9th century a wolf saved the town by howling in response to a Viking raid. Henry Campbell-Bannerman (1836-1908) was the Member of Parliament for Stirling Burghs for almost 40 years, including a term as Prime Minister from 1905 to 1908. Rob Roy, Robert Burns and William Wallace probably need less of an introduction to anyone interested in Scottish history and literature.

Our final stop before heading back up to the castle was outside Central Library which opened in 1904 and, like so many others, was funded by Andrew Carnegie.

As we walked back to the car, the sky began to change colour. We rushed up to a vantage point in the Old Town Cemetery from which we watched a spectacular sunset unfold. A perfect end to a perfect day.

Glasgow Gallivanting: July 2020

Strathkelvin Railway Path and Billy the Train

In early July, John took a week off work. This coincided with the time when restrictions on how far you could travel for leisure in Scotland eased slightly, and we ventured into the countryside for the first time since lockdown. Not too far, just over the city boundary to East Dunbartonshire where we discovered a network of trails on and around the old Strathkelvin railway path, several of which we followed. I’ve written a post about that week which will follow shortly, but since then we’ve covered another couple of the trails. The first started in Milton of Campsie where we came across this cute display in the old station.

The second took us to Lennox Castle. I always thought this had originated as a Victorian “lunatic asylum” but, although the house was built between 1837 and 1841, it didn’t become a hospital until 1936 as a “mental deficiency institution” – such terrible terms to modern ears. The castle itself became the nurses’ home, and patients’ accommodation was built in the grounds: this was demolished after the last parts of the hospital finally closed in 2002, but the castle itself remains as a sad ruin and a reminder of all the suffering souls who lived there.

I did another Twitter walk for the Women’s Library this month, this time in Garnethill, and my fellow volunteer Melody has made a trailer for the same walk. Both are below for anyone interested. On the trailer, my voice is the one that starts by telling you the walk is available to download. It has been great fun doing these, and we hope to do more.

Garnethill Women’s Heritage Walk Trailer from Glasgow Women’s Library on Vimeo.

As lockdown eases, the growth of my collection of photographs of rainbows and teddy bears is diminishing. Indeed, many of the old displays have been taken down. We’ve seen more painted stones this month though, mostly in the small towns in East Dunbartonshire that we visited. People have been very artistic in lockdown!

So it’s been a month of easing restrictions with two major events: I’ve had a haircut and a birthday! Unfortunately not in that order. My birthday was the day after restaurants were allowed to re-open, so we had dinner out for the first time in four months. It felt strange and rather lacking in atmosphere, but it’s progress. What will next month bring?

A Glasgow perspective: picture this

Johnnie Walker’s Striding Man logo adorns a pub wall in Finnieston. I have a folder full of street art images: this is one which definitely benefits from Becky’s Square Perspectives challenge. Originally there were three men, but the third had an ugly red barrier in front of him. Chopping him off has made his companions much more dynamic so that I almost believe they are about to stride out from the wall.

Here are a few (a lot?) more which work as squares, starting with a couple from the City Centre. Glasgow has its very own panda (by Klingatron) in Gordon Lane, and what looks like the world’s most economical taxi (by Rogue-One) is in nearby Mitchell Street.

The mural of St Mungo and his robin, by Smug, is on High Street and has featured before, but this is a new perspective. It’s hard to get a good photograph from the road – there are often cars parked in front, and you can’t stand back far enough without being mown down by traffic. I like this image of him taken from the grassy area behind. This was in February – there would be too many leaves on the trees for it to work now.

Details now from two contrasting mosaics in stations. On the left, in Central Station, is part of a mural by professional artist Jude Burkhauser. It dates from 1989 and was commissioned for Glasgow’s reign as European Capital of Culture in 1990. The other tiled mural is from my local station, Hyndland, and runs the full length of the pedestrian tunnel under the platforms. It was designed by local schoolchildren and dates from roughly the same time.

Two perspectives on this colourful work on the Forth and Clyde canal at Ruchill which I watched being created last year. In the first, I captured the artist, Sharon Scotland, at work, and in the second John got a nice reflection in the water below.

Of course, not all murals are commissioned and sanitised. Another pedestrian tunnel, this time under the Expressway at the Riverside Museum, has a changing roster of graffiti art. I like the little chap doing the painting: not so sure about the one at the end.

Negative Destination’s little figures and the Big Heids pop up everywhere, and often disappear very quickly. Here are example from the Kelvin Walkway at Inn Deep and behind Ruchill Church.

Time offers a different perspective on Mustio by the River Kelvin. The first image is from April 2019, the other is from June this year when both vegetation and supplementary graffiti had increased.

Finally, this was an official mural, named Betty Brown’s Eyes after a local activist in Garnethill who died in 2006. It was vandalised soon after it appeared and has since been painted over. Interestingly, the vandals have left a comment on their own artistic perspective. (Note to self, I might be overusing that word!)

This is my last contribution to Becky’s Square Perspectives challenge. I’ve really enjoyed this way of collating some of the many unused pictures of Glasgow still lurking in my files, and may well continue with it at a later date – though without the necessity to make everything square. I might not continue with the musical accompaniment, but today I offer you – what else? – Blondie and Picture This. If you don’t love the luminous Miss Debbie Harry I’m afraid I just don’t know what’s wrong with you.

A Glasgow perspective: sign of the times

Looking up and around us more gave us a new perspective on Glasgow during lockdown. One of the things that started to catch my eye was a good sign, and pubs provided several examples. Above is The Aragon on Byres Road – given that this pub was established in a former butcher’s shop in the 1970s, I’m not sure of the significance of the monk but he looks good. A few more pubs below, some from towns just outside Glasgow when we started to roam a bit further.

Why does a house in North Kelvinside have a French road sign in front of it? You could hardly smuggle it back in your suitcase …

I like the juxtaposition of these two black metal signs for the Engine Works in Maryhill and Partick Housing Association. The former was literally an engine works not that long ago – Clark and Buchanan – but has recently been renovated as an events venue. The couple who bought it sank a lot of their own money into it, so I hope their business survives the current problems.

Nae fancy nonsense at GWR restaurant, and an example of the many Chinese language signs in the area around Glasgow University. How many Chinese students will return next year? Who knows …

I liked the two cycleway signs at Kelvingrove, and was intrigued by the mini basketball hoop and sign in North Kelvinside. Do the fairies play?

Two different kinds of paradise! Paradise is an alternative name for Celtic Park football ground, the huge sign of which can be seen from Glasgow Necropolis. “Almost any garden, if you see it at just the right moment, can be confused with paradise” (Henry Mitchell). We came across this welcoming sign to Woodlands Community Garden on our way home from our one evening out in the last four months.

We loved this two-sided sign for Milton of Campsie Bowling Club.

And finally – I would have more belief that this was a centre of excellence if Terry could actually spell it!

I’m linking to Becky’s SquarePerspectives challenge and, as has become habitual in this series, I’ll play you out with a song. I’d decided on Sign of the times before looking for a video – and they’re all awful! So this is audio only, but you do get to gaze on a still of the very mean and moody looking Mr Bryan Ferry for two minutes or so. I’ll take that.

A Glasgow perspective: animal farm

Bears of Cairnhill Woods

The bears of Cairnhill Woods have made an appearance on this blog before. We paid them another visit during lockdown – and we found some of their friends! Bearsden is a town just outside Glasgow, so their bears, below, are punning. The fishing bear is in a garden about 15 minutes walk from us. I don’t think he’ll be catching much.

Many children put their teddy bears in windows to create a Bear Hunt for others – those have been well documented in my Glasgow Gallivanting posts throughout the pandemic period. But bears weren’t the only animals we spotted as our repeated walks so close to home gave us a new perspective on our local area by increasing our powers of observation. Alternatively, you could say, it unleashed our inner nosiness – but then, many people were positively inviting us to look into their gardens and windows! Here’s a (large) selection of what we found.

Small mammals

You might spot a couple of inadvertent selfies here. I offer no comment on the aesthetics of these displays.

Large mammals

A preponderance of lions! The prancing stag is outside a restaurant called – you’ve guessed it – the Prancing Stag. The sculpture shows cartoon character Lobey Dosser, Sheriff of Calton Creek, with the villainous Rank Bajin, riding Lobey’s two-legged horse, Elfie. It’s a Glaswegian thing, but Wikipedia explains it if you really want to know! Finally, you might wonder about the Highland cattle, given that these are all lockdown walks straight from our house – they (13 in all) live in Dawsholm Park which is just over a mile away.

Birdlife

The real life birds, apart from the swans, are thanks to John. All images are taken within walking distance, except for the heron and the farm sign which were from after regulations relaxed and we could drive to the countryside to take exercise (although we do have herons on the river and the canal near us – they just don’t pose so nicely very often though).

Mythical creatures

Can I count these as animals? Yes. Yes, I can. Why not?

Finally, today’s title inspiration is Animal Farm by the Kinks. This world is big and wild and half insane is a great first line and very appropriate today for so many reasons. I have the cats and dogs promised in the lyrics, but sadly not the pigs or goats. Must try harder next time.

Linked to Becky’s SquarePerspectives Challenge.