of castles & coral…

Our best intentions to go for a bike ride didn’t work out this morning, as by the time we were up and about, it was already really warm out, so we made plans to go in the late afternoon. And I’m not pulling your leg about it being warm out, because it was already cooking by the time we headed for Castle Hill.

Actually, the real reason I’ve been waking up earlier than I would normally, on vacation, is that we’re sleeping with no air conditioning. Sure, I could turn it on, but why would I, when my room gets such splendid breezes? But by around 7:30am, the temp’s rising, the sun’s hitting our side of the house, and I’m getting dehydrated. This doesn’t mean I have to get up completely, of course, it just means I’m not deeply asleep anymore.

We had no plans to walk up Castle Hill, and we were glad we’d decided on that, as we got closer to the mountain. Signs pointed out where you could climb a goat track to the top, and there were several people walking up the road, as we took the twists and turns on the way up. But with the sun beating down unmercifully on everyone, you really should plan to leave early, if you want to hike it.

At the top parking area, we did some wandering around to take photos, enjoyed a nicely built look-out platform, and then walked up the stairs to the top path. The top area commands quite a view, and I found the marker for the highest point to be fascinating to look at. Full of delicate lines with writing saying how far a distance it is to other landmarks.

We might have stayed up there longer, but the ants up there are quite vicious, and one decided to check and see if I was awake. Strangely enough, the bite’s yet to start itching. They’re not (yet) related to the fire ants back home, as far as I can tell. Ok, I should’ve knocked on wood, they just started to itch. Sigh.

After Castle Hill, we drove to ANZAC Park to find some free parking, and with the grounds crew working hard at keeping the hedges and other plants in order, we were glad we’d visited there the day before. If we’d gone today, we’d never have been able to hear anything.

Walking down to the Great Barrier Reef Aquarium, I noticed a very large spider decoration hanging across the road. Can you see it in my picture? Look closely. The backdrop wasn’t really conducive to making it easy to see.

Going through the aquarium was quite fun. As you’ll see, the giant fish head that’s “eating” me, we made some of our own fun, too. And we got to go with a group to visit their turtle hospital, where four turtles are recuperating from different problems. I didn’t know that turtles could get lung disease, did you? One of the turtles (in the picture with my foot in it) was over 100 kilos. And they get bigger.

We went next door to the Cultural Centre, and saw some exhibits on Aboriginal history and heritage, followed by a walk through a really nice gift shop. I won’t tell you what I bought there. Oh, and cameras weren’t allowed in either.

After that, we headed for the Museum of Tropical Queensland, but I’m afraid we were getting tired, at this point. Lots of walking, lots of heat, and lots of information to take in. I started my foray into the museum by tripping while going up the stairs, as I was taking a picture of the big ship.

My hands were full, so I’m lucky I didn’t really dent myself. One of the museum attendants was worried enough about me to invite us to watch an explanation on taxidermy, and give me a chance to sit down. We weren’t in the mood for taxidermy, however.

Then, we wandered into the Pandora exhibit, which we had something to do with the big ship out in the main room. But it took us a little while to figure out what the big deal was. Turns out, it’s the boat that went after the mutineers from the Bounty, put them in “Pandora’s Box” to take them back, and they shipwrecked on the way.

This exhibit continued to turn us off, as we went through it, getting further and further depressed. Yes, the mutineers were put into a box room and put in shackles, and there was a display that would allow you to try the shackles on. Could it possibly get any better? Of course it could.

I went around a corner and found a mannequin display (kinda like on a theme ride at Disney World), but this was of naked men escaping from Pandora’s Box at the last minute, before the ship went down. Creepy and disturbing… do they think we didn’t get the idea from all the rest of the stuff we saw?

By the time we reached all the stuff they recovered from the wreck, in recent years, including skulls of “Tom, Dick, and Harry”, I’d had enough. We went up two floors, saw some stuff about tropical rainforests, butterfly displays, and lots of taxidermied animals. And then, explanations of how Queenslanders live in this climate, including a mannequin of some guy, wrapped in a towel, using roll-on deoderant.

There were actually some dinosaur models and plesiosaurs hanging from the ceiling, but not nearly enough dinosaurs to make up for the rest of the museum. We needed some lunch at The Coffee Club, followed by more gelato from Gelatissimo in order to recover. After having scoops of raspberry, dark chocolate, and white chocolate, I was able to put the Pandora behind me. And I don’t think I’ll ever willingly read any history of the Bounty, either, after this.

Since then, we’ve had a relaxing swim and a delicious dinner (no, we never got around to that bike ride), so sometime tonight and tomorrow morning, we’ll throw our stuff together, and get ready to go to Magnetic Island. Oh, the pictures from our kayak trip are going to be interesting. Having to wear knee-high soccer socks, that just about guarantees it.


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