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Gail Visits Australia #1

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What a lucky lucky lady I was in January! My husband got sent to Australia to work for a month and I went along for three weeks. We lived in a small furnished apartment in the adorable historic town of Ipswich, about an hour from the Brisbane airport. That’s on the east coast — almost the easternmost point of the continent. 

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I only knew the shrimp plant as a house plant with pinkish blooms. What a surprise this gorgeous blooming shrub was outside the Ipswich Visitor Information Center at Queens Park. The bird in the first picture — have no idea what he is — was also wandering wild there. 

Having the days to myself (on foot) and the weekends with hubby and car meant two complete ways to explore. There will be an upcoming post (posts?) with some gorgeous architectural details and buildings from Ipswich as I explored near our living quarters, plus a couple more field trips. Today I am showing you a selection of my favorite photos from our field trips to Brisbane’s South Bank area and from the Ipswich Nature Center. 

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After leaving a gray western Washington January behind, these blasts of bright flowers and this gorgeous mosaic bench set were breathtaking at the Ipswich Nature Center in Queens Park. The upcoming photos up until you see some skyscrapers are all from the nature center.

I will ALWAYS snap pictures of interesting lines and shapes, of gorgeous views, of fascinating details, the unexpected, and colorful flowers … well, colorful almost-anything. I hope you enjoy! 

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A Lace Monitor Goana, 3-4 feet long. Really cool pattern! And then there were these wild lizards… each about a foot long. I swear all the captive and wild lizards this day were posing for me :) 

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So many trees were in bloom with so many different colors while we were here. It was stunning. January is the equivalent of the northern hemisphere’s July. Perfect change of weather, almost! The last half of my visit was monsoon-like, with heavy humidity and heat. 

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I know we have peacocks in North America, but who can resist that BLUE!? This photo was for myself, demonstrating that those awe-inspiring tails are pretty camouflaged when viewed from a prey-animal’s sight. Too gruesome? Well, I always have all the thoughts so welcome to my inner world LOL

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Here are the obligatory kangaroo and wallaby pics! Clockwise from bottom left: Swamp Wallabies — check out the one sitting on its behind like a person; Red Kangaroo, which is not the largest kind; Swamp Wallaby again. We also saw Red-bellied Pademelons and Red-legged Pademelons which are smaller wallabies. Although this is all I saw of kangaroos, my husband saw them almost daily at the rural site at which he was working. They were actually a hazard in the evening. 

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Look at the iridescence of this black and white pigeon! We saw dozens of amazing birds and ducks in the aviary, but it was mostly too dim under the trees to get good photos. And/or, the birds and ducks were the highly camouflaged varieties. Not like this White-headed Pigeon who almost let me get close enough to touch. This was not shot with a zoom lens! 

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Cool looking pattern from this tall palm tree. Also….

***WARNING — if you don’t like to look at spiders — WARNING *** there is a short, not-really-obvious spider photo tucked onto the bottom edge of the palm tree photo. Scroll right past and onto the bright pink flowers if you want to skip. It is not a special spider, it was just floating mid-air far from anything else and I thought it was good camera practice; then I really like the picture! 

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I wish I knew what these cool flowers that leave behind cute cups were!

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Red-tailed Black Cockatoos, deep in conversation.

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Such beautiful views throughout the Ipswich Nature Center. Strangely, I didn’t capture any of the many varieties of ducks nor the black swans in these pictures.

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Let’s talk BILBIES! I became a bilby concerned human after learning how this little mouse-like creature is endangered and how one Ipswich resident set up a huge protection area for them. No photos because: nocturnal! I brought (granddaughters) Abbi and Ella back the cutest stuffed bilby and a beautiful book, Bilby Moon, which we have enjoyed reading many times. Join me in celebrating Australian National Bilby Day on September 13th? 


On to our day in Brisbane, where we only explored the fun area of South Bank. This included wandering through a peaceful park, more like an arboretum, and riding the Wheel of Brisbane for some great city views (and the A/C inside the gondolas!) 

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A beautiful city with a lot to offer. I wish I could spend a week just in Brisbane! 

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A story of Rainbow Lorikeets.

Our first evening in town, we went to eat in Ipswich about 6 blocks away. Walking back, we heard the loudest racket coming from the trees lining the city’s streets. It was too dark with too much street-level light to see up into the heavily leaved trees to see what kind of birds these could be.

The next night, we were eating on the patio of a different restaurant (this was one of my fave things about this trip — lots of restaurants!) and observed a noisy flock of birds going overhead. Again, being the late edge of dusk and underneath of them I could not see what they were. I asked our waitress, who had never really noticed them before but she came back with a young teenage boy who told us they were lorikeets and then proceeded to question us about all things American-restaurant.

After looking up lorikeets, I didn’t quite believe him, especially since I could see no color on these flocks I heard and saw almost every evening and often early morning if I was up in the middle of my night. I kept asking everyone and *no-one* knew what I was talking about! In my head — They: what birds? Me: how can you NOT NOTICE!?

On it went. Then, 2 weeks into the visit, we saw these Rainbow Lorikeets in the palms during the day here in Brisbane. I was 90% convinced at this point that Awkward Teenage Boy was right. But I kept asking and kept getting the same non-answer.

Then, on my last night in Ipswich we went to a very cool restaurant called Char’d (braised lamb — always gotta have it) and there in a spotlighted palm tree at their entrance, making the so-familiar racket, were dozens of spotlighted Rainbow Lorikeets.

Thank you, Australia, for not sending me home doubting.

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I don’t know what this bird really is, but there were a lot of them fulfilling the function of sparrows cleaning up the sidewalks and eating areas. They are about a foot tall at the body, so they’re a little more attention-getting than dull brown sparrows.

I also don’t know what these half-inch sized berries are, growing on the tree below, but I like to imagine there are coffee beans inside the red fruits. 

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GOOD CATCH, Nature! 

These people saved my life! Cooooofffffffeeeeeeee! We had a good conversation about American vs Australian coffee lingo and habits. After he flashed the peace sign, he asked with concern if that didn’t mean anything different/bad. Peace, love and coffee, bro!

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I was fascinated with the intricate carvings on The Nepal Peace Pagoda. So many patterns. Such ancient history to humans’ love for decoration. Inspiration for meditative pattern doodling. 

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Happy travels, wherever you may go!


  • Diane Johnston - Great pictures Gail. I love the architectural ones. And…lorikeets are so beautiful! I have two of the orange flowered plants you show in the 4th picture. They are called Ixora coccinea (also known as jungle geranium, flame of the woods or jungle flame). It is from India, I think. Mine bloomed like crazy last summer.

    My daughter visited Australia when her husband was on a business trip there last year. I can’t remember what city they were in. They had a wonderful time too.

    Looking forward to more posts.

    Hugs, Diane06.20.2016 – 11:01pmReplyCancel

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