Saturday was the day of my high school reunion. I went to Clayfield College from 1965 to 1969. When my family left Australia I was in grade 11. I haven’t been back since then.
One of my other classmates Libby met us at Mandy’s house. Mandy drove us to Clayfield College for a tour. When I was at Clayfield College they had about 300 students. The school now has almost 1000 students. They have a brand new primary school building. There were lots of other new buildings and the school has bought a lot of the surrounding property. The boarding school is in what used to be a hospital across the street. The gym is in what used to be a bowling alley. It is a beautiful impressive campus. We had a two hour tour.
There were about 15 of us on the tour including many of the boarders from our class. I boarded for one term. I think we were all blown away by how things have changed. The old boarding school has been demolished. The boarders life was pretty Spartan back in the 1960’s. Boarders shared cramped dormitories and the food was basic. We washed our hair in basins under the old boarding house.
When our guide told us about things like restaurant quality chefs and private rooms with attached bathrooms for seniors the former boarders broke out in laughter. The buildings were beautiful.
Our reunion lunch was at a restaurant in a very nice area of Brisbane. The restaurant was great because they let us sit and talk and have a leisurely lunch. We picked up where we left off 40 years ago and didn’t leave the restaurant until after 5.
Duke had a great day too with Noel, Mandy’s husband. They hiked and bought fresh boiled prawns on the beach then had prawns and beer for lunch.
My pictures from the reunion are on Flickr here.
Thursday we hiked in Carnarvon Gorge. The hike was about 10 miles and included several short side hikes up side canyons. We saw a couple of aboriginal art sites which were pretty amazing.
But I think my favorite side trip was up Wards canyon. It was a narrow canyon, very deep, almost what I would call a slot canyon. The temperature in the shady canyon was at least 10 degrees cooler than on the valley floor. The giant ferns in the canyon are the only giant ferns growing inland in Australia.
The Carnarvon Gorge hike was hot but the trail was great. We used rocks to cross the creek about 15 times.
When we got back to the car we drove to Roma to spend the night. We stayed at a very nice motel room with a bathroom attached. It was the first time with an attached bathroom on the trip. After our big hike a shower felt really good and the great steak dinner at the hotel tasted especially good.
Friday we drove from Roma to Buderim on the coast where we stayed at a friend’s house. Mandy was a classmate at my high school in Brisbane. I hadn’t seen Mandy in more than 40 years. It was great to see her and meet her husband.
All our pictures are on Flickr here.
Duke and I are on a 4 week vacation in Australia. We are discovering that internet access is usually fairly expensive. So even though I have written several blog posts is has been difficult to get them posted. The internet carrier at this hotel charges by the minute and by the megabyte uplaoded so there may not be many pictures in this post.I'll add more later when we have better internet.
We left Undara National Park on Tuesday morning and drove south again. The road was sometimes very good and sometimes only one paved lane. We went through miles and miles of bush with no towns and we saw very few cars. I’m really glad we took this route. It was really interesting. We saw lots of road trains – semi trucks with 3 trailers that are as much as 55 meters long. We stopped to stretch at every settlement / petrol station along the road and got to Charters Towers mid afternoon.
Charters Towers was founded as a gold mining town and has a lot of beautiful old buildings including a stock exchange. We drove up to Tower Hill Lookout and watched the sunset. They had a movie about the history of the area and picnic tables. When a family came up to eat their fish and chips we got to see some rock wallabies that came out for some of the chips. A rock wallaby isn’t much bigger than a squirrel.
We saw the ruins of a tall brick chimney that was part of the gold processing plant. Apparently during World War II the Americans asked the Australians to demolish the chimney because it could have been a navigation aid for the Japanese if they invaded. The chimney was also a hazard for airplanes and there was a large American air base nearby.
During the afternoon we walked down Gill Street and did some shopping. Duke got a new Australian hat. Everyone is so friendly. When we exchanged some money the teller at the bank commiserated with us about the strong U.S. dollar and told us she just placed an order with Sheplers the American western store for jeans because the week US dollar makes it really cheap to order the jeans from the U.S. The lady in the phone store helped us figure out how to recharge our cell phone since it was the first time we had done it. She was also able to translate when we said add minutes to our phone. In Australian that is – recharge our mobile.
On Wednesday we drove from Charters Towers to Carnarvon Gorge National Park (about 441miles). It was a fairly long day but we did make several short stops. We just missed hitting a couple of kangaroos. Thank goodness!
In Emerald we stopped to see the world’s largest Van Gogh Sunflowers painting and stopped at the bottle shop to buy wine and at the grocery store to get some food for dinner.
We stayed in very nice tent cabins at Takarakka Bush Resort just outside Carnarvan Gorge National Park and had a great dinner of smoked oysters, cheese, and crackers, wine and for desert Cadburys chocolate. We ate our dinner sitting on the veranda of our cabin. We even got to watch a spider building his web near our table.