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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Kuranda Scenic Railway, North Queensland

Take a nostalgia train ride

There are two ways to travel between Cairns and Kuranda (well really 3 but I'm not counting car travel!) I should say two interesting ways to travel, the cable car and the historic railway. It's possible to catch the train one way and take the cable car back or vice versa. I like to catch the cable car going up the mountain to Kuranda and the train back down the mountain.

The Kuranda Railway Station is a beautifully preserved station for the train that travels down to Cairns. The line itself is interesting as it was quite a feat to construct it in the late 1880s, originally it was built to provide a link to inland tin mines that were cut off during the wet season. The line was opened in 1891 and it started being used for tourist trips in 1936.

The platform with the sign for the tea rooms, all very quaint and sweet I thought. The trains come up in the morning and then go back down at 3pm and 4pm.

The carriages are the old wooden ones, there's no air-conditioning but once the train gets going there's a good breeze that comes through the windows. The seats are allocated, you'll have a seat number when you get your ticket. Although the day I caught the train it wasn't very full and we were allowed to go into the next carriage which was practically empty, so we weren't quite so squashed!

The train makes a stop just outside Kuranda at the Barron Creek Station and people can get out onto the platform and take pictures.

The train winds its way down to Cairns, there's a running commentary that explains the line's construction. It was a real triumph of engineering and all built with manual labour.

Stoney Creek Falls, at the end of the dry season, still roaring but not as loudly as during the wet season.

The Stoney Creek bridge, a steel bridge constructed in 1891 and one of the most photographed bridges in Australia! When this bridge was completed the Queensland Governor came to open it and a large banquet was prepared and served on the bridge, but they had to cut the speeches as no-one could be heard over the noise of the waterfall next to the bridge!

Horseshoe Bend, the biggest curve on the line as the train descends to the Cairns plains.

Looking down on the Cairns suburbs.

Redlynch cottage at Freshwater Station, once down from the mountains the train stops at the Freshwater Station and that's where I got off as there's a shuttle bus to take you back to the cable car station. The train does continue to the Cairns station.

I liked the story behind 'Redlynch'. The foreman for the construction of the rail-line was a fiery redhead with the surname of Lynch, naturally he was nicknamed 'Red'. When new workers arrived, many of whom didn't have much English they were told to go to 'Redlynch' which they understood as a place rather than a man. The area around the foreman's cottage was known as 'Redlynch' and later when it became a Cairns suburb, it was a popular choice for the name for the new suburb. Red Lynch's cottage has been restored and it's part of the train station area, unfortunately I didn't have much time to look at it, just take a picture in passing as we passengers all trooped across to where all the shuttle buses were.

The Kuranda Scenic Railway is a really nice way to travel, the views are lovely and the commentary on the train is really interesting and gives a good explanation into the construction of the line.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

St. Saviour's, Kuranda

A little church in the rainforest

St. Saviour's Anglican church is a little gem in Kuranda's main street. It's set amongst the souvenir shops that cater for the tourists who spend a few hours in Kuranda. I like what the church represents, a community that came together to build a little wooden structure that was their church.

I like the simplicity of the church, even the bell that would ring in the congregation, is on a low wooden frame, no mighty bell tower for this little church!

The church has an active congregation and it's beautifully maintained.

It offers some tranquility for those who want to take some timeout from being a tourist.

The church has some lovely stained glass windows, they look as though they are quite recent.

Churches were always a central point to any community and that's what St. Saviour's represents to me. As a tourist it's just a nice little refuge to enjoy during a busy day.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Old Melbourne Gaol

Or jail if you're North American!

The Old Melbourne Gaol was the prison built to keep law and order in the early years of the Victorian colony. It operated from 1842 to 1929, although the last prisoners were moved in 1924. Many of the prison buildings were demolished and what remains today operates as a museum.

The gaol is run by the National Trust and if you're a member then entry is free. This was a nice surprise as I didn't know that it was National Trust before I went to see it. So quickly whipped out the National Trust card and skipped happily through! Entrance also includes entry into the Watch house next door and an interactive experience, where you're sentenced and locked up.

The cells are on 3 floors with a metal gantry connecting them. There are displays in the cells, some are about life in the gaol, others are the stories (and death masks) of some of the prisoners.

Prison cell.

The most famous prisoner the gaol housed was the bushranger Ned Kelly. There's a display area with information and some memorabilia relating to him. Also replica armour for children to wear and be photographed with!

A photo of young Ned, it's unusual to see him without his beard. The older Ned grew a long bushy beard and that's the most common image of him. The revolver belonged to one of the constables who was after him.

This revolver was Ned's and there's a chunk missing at the base of the handgrip where a bullet hit. The piece of red cloth is from a scarf used to warn people on the train from Melbourne coming to capture Ned Kelly and his gang, that the gang had ripped up the train tracks to cause a derailment.

Ned Kelly's death mask, it seems that it was common in the 19th century to create these masks, the cells contain other death masks from prisoners.

Ned Kelly was executed (hanged) at the Old Melbourne Gaol on November 11th 1880 and his famous last words were "Such is life"

On the first floor looking back towards the entrance.

Cell accomodation

The gallows, with the trap door and the lever by the door to open the trapdoor for the prisoner to fall through. I was surprised to see the gallows in an open area of the gaol, I thought it would be in a separate room away from the cells, but it's on the first floor in a gantry landing.

The executioners box, an original one, containing the items needed by the gaol executioner.

Although the gaol was closed in 1929, it was reopened for a brief period during World War II to house AWOL soldiers.

A visit to the Old Melbourne Gaol can be quite a static experience where you walk through and look at the displays. Or you can do some of the more interactive tours, such as the Hangman's Night Tours or the Ghosts! What ghosts?! tours at night.

I only had time to visit the museum and enjoyed that experience, it was an interesting insight into some Australian history.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Auburn, South Australia

Gateway to the Clare Valley

Auburn is on the southern edge of the Clare Valley and has become popular with tourists visiting the area. The town was settled in the mid 1850's and has well preserved heritage buildings. Some have been turned into tourist accomodation, which makes the town a favoured base for those wanting to explore the Clare Valley.

The first building in what became the town of Auburn, the Rising Sun Inn, built in 1850. Auburn was a stopping point for the bullock teams moving copper ore from the mines at Burra, through Mintaro, then Auburn and to the sea at Port Wakefield. The Rising Sun is still popular with tourists offering meals as well as accomodation.

Main street cottage.

Although it's now a small country town (with a population in the 300s) it seems it had been a major centre. These sets of buildings were the Court House and the Police Station.

Next door to the Court House and Police Station, the Post Office. Currently still operating as a post office.

The mainstay of many an Australian country town, the CWA. The Country Women's Association, providing support, fundraising, social events and an important part of the community.

An art shop.

It seems Auburn was quite a prosperous town and the institute building reflects that.

Auburn's other claim to fame is that it's the birthplace of the Australian poet, C.J. Dennis and he grew up there.

It's a lovely little town, a perfect base to explore the Clare Valley.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Kuranda Butterfly Sanctuary

My favourite thing in Kuranda!

I loved the butterfly sanctuary. It boasts that it's the largest butterfly flight aviary and exhibit in the Southern Hemisphere.

There was something nice just to walk around with colourful butterflies fluttering around you. It was sweet to see the look of delight on young children's faces as they entered.

Stand still long enough and they come to you!

One with an injured wing.

I can recommend the butterfly sanctuary as an enjoyable activity for anyone stopping in Kuranda.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne

Melbourne's memorial to the fallen

Melbourne, along with every other city, town and small country community in the 1920s, wanted to create a permanent memorial for those who died during what was then called The Great War. A competition was held to select a design and the eventual winners were 2 architects, who were also war veterans.

The foundation stone was laid on Armistice Day (11th of November) 1927 and the building was finished in September 1934. It was originally built to commemorate those who died in World War I, after World War II the forecourt was built to commemorate those who died during that war. To the right of the picture is the cenopath which has the names of the major WW2 theatres of war and the eternal flame infront of it.

Not everyone liked the design which was a deliberate copy (or inspired by!) ancient Greek buildings. That was my first impression as well, lots of columns and stone carvings!

Once inside at entrance level, there is the sanctuary, which has the tomb of unknown soldier. On November 11th, a ray of sunlight comes through an aperture in the roof and shines on the word love in the inscription. (Was there a few days too early to test that out!)

Going downstairs under the sanctuary is the crypt, with the flags of all the units that served. The statue in the centre is quite poignant, it's a father and son. One fought in the First World War and the other the Second.

Also downstairs is an exhibition space called "Galleries of Remembrance" which was opened in 2014. (That surprised me when I read about it as it was so recent)

The colonial era.

A restored lifeboat from the SS Devanha, which was used during the start of the Gallipoli campaign in 1915.

A British flag that flew from the Sultan of Johore's palace and was taken down in 1942 and then hidden by prisoners in the Changi Prisoner of War camp. It was signed by the prisoners, including some who were went to work on the Burma railroad and died there. The flag was hidden in the camp for nearly 3 years.

More recent conflicts, the Vietnam war.


Leaving the downstairs part, you can take the stairs to the balcony that wraps around the roof.

I really liked this, I'm assuming this is one of the outdoor meeting areas, the sunshade is in the shape and form of a poppy. (Which itself is the symbol of remembrance)

Great view from the front balcony, looking across the forecourt, down the Avenue of Remembrance. Each of the trees has a plaque commemorating a particular regiment or branch of the military. Then there's the city skyline beyond.