>The North, where it’s hard to be all work…

> The fieldtrip to north Queensland was fab on several levels:

1. Got heaps of work and on-topic chatting done.
2. Met amazing and passionate heritage-oriented people.
3. AND managed to take in locations such as Cairns’ Esplanade public pool/lagoon (above).

S. and E. came north with me, as we’d tested on earlier trips whether their presence compromised my ability to do the work I had to do. As it happens, having them there (esp S.’s uncanny internal compass) meant my work was done more efficiently and thoroughly. For example, travelling around regional Victoria on another trip, I’d been told about a ‘Chinese bridge’ in Porepunkah. On driving around Porepunkah (which took all of about 5 mins), we found nothing but an information board about the Ovens River that had a brief mention of Chinese diggings along its length. Another info board – with a small map – behind the Bright Information Centre showed us a Chinese Bridge down at Wandiligong. The journey to find Wandiligong, then the bridge, wasn’t straightforward. With my sense of direction, and the fact that it was getting dark and cold, I don’t think I would’ve ever found the place by myself. S., however, not only possesses ninja direction-skills, he’s as dogged as they come when it comes to tracking down a site. Who knew, eh? Thusly, Wandiligong’s bridge was found, and ditto various obscure cemeteries, small ‘museums’ and commemorative markers.
We were based in Cairns initially, with side-trips to Kuranda (our first Sunday) and Atherton. The two pics below were taken at Atherton’s Hou Wang Temple complex.

The first is the bronze (?) ‘ding’ that was the centre-piece of the front area of the temple interior; the second is just some fence detail I liked. Having seen photos of the shape of the temple before restoration and rebuilding, its current integrity is damn impressive.

Driving into Gordonvale (10 mins from Cairns city), a huge plume of steam indicates where the historical museum is located – across the road from the sugar mill (above). The warm and humid air smelt of toffee. It was fantastic.

Innisfail was a revelation. I’d expected a contained and sleepy kind of town, and found a main drag that was fairly busy, built-up and sprawly. The historical museum we were hoping to visit was shut (though it was meant to be open; par for the course with small, volunteer-run organisations), and the Owen Street temple was extremely well kept (see pic above). I went a bit crazy taking pics of the interior and details, from which I’ve spared you here. Oh, and also seen in Innisfail? Bob Katter’s office!
Our final stop on the fieldtrip was Townsville, a place I’d never really visited and only passed through. From what others had said about the city, I must admit the urge to go was not huge. The Bismarkia nobilis palms around north Queensland were fantastic, and there were particularly good examples in a park (above) where I was taking pics of a sister-city Chinese pergola (oh, and if you’re wondering from whence this palm nerdiness springs, I’m actually nerdy about succulents/cacti, palms and cycads…).

Still have to sort and digest all the information I noted, collected, and bought while up north. The air was warm, and being based in touristy towns doesn’t help lift the soporific mood. We only realised how much we’d absorbed the holiday vibe when we returned to Tullamarine and faced peak-hour Melbourne traffic. It was a harsh shifting of gears, and I don’t know if my cogs all made it through.


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