Hi.

Welcome to our blog. We are starting to document our Silk Road journey.  We will start with some of the planning and preparation!

Aus3 - Still in Queensland

3rd March 2018

After another week has passed and we are still waiting for our car to be cleaned again at the docks by order of the Government quarantine inspectors.  We are now getting restless in spite of the incredible hospitaility of our Brisbane hostess.  We also have other cousins to visit. 

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We have been here long enough to feel justified in complaining to the ‘Powers that Be’.  The importers are telling us that they cannot get it cleaned and reinspected because they have a backlog of inspection visits from Government Quarantine inspectors which is blocking up the cleaning bays.  Items cannot leave the cleaning bay once cleaned without a Quarantine reinspection and approval.  

Jim drafted a letter for our hostess to send to her local MP, who immediately contacted the relevant Government Department,  who blamed the cleaning contractors.  

This led to a typically forthright Aussie response from our importers who wrote ‘What you have been told by the politicians is effectively a fantasy and bears no resemblance to the reality of quarantine processing ‘on the ground’ here in Australia’. 

Jim also wrote to the Editor of the local paper expressing his surprise that Australia was the less efficient than China as regards to car importing!  This too was edited and published.  

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We hope that the hot air generated might help to bump the car up the queue, or we might have to leave the Country before the car has been released.  No laughing matter given the cost of transporting it to Brisbane.  

I read a BBC news item which told of an English woman who had recently visited Queensland from the UK.  On returning home and unpacking she was very surprised and shocked to discover a small live python in her shoe.  Perhaps my hosts’ caution about keeping snakes out of her house is well founded!

We have been to the cinema, a ballet and a play about the infamous Ned Kelly.  We are catching up on the Oscars and seemlessly melting back into some kind of cultural social life.  If it were not for the tropical heat, and the amazing flowering trees and wild woods, we could be in London! 

Before the film there were advertisements for health care insurance or something.  Australia has recently voted to permit gay marriage.  What surprised me though was a sequence for a mainstream product with two women lying on a bed and one expecting a baby and the other tenderly touching her stomach.  Nice. 

The Ned Kelly play was an imaginary encounter in a prison cell, between Ned Kelly and his brother disguised as a priest.  Ned had been pretty badly shot by police in a farcical shootout which left many people dead.  And he was due to be hanged.  This popular character in Australian folklore was basically an egocentric bloodthirsty hustler and killer.  He was posing the heroic interpretation of his actions, whilst his brother (or conscience), put another side of things across.  Knowing about Ned Kelly is deemed pretty basic stuff around here and was just the tonic for us Poms.

What has also been fascinating is that we seem to encounter friends of our hostess, and former colleagues everywhere.   She told us that one of the women we met had been her boss in the Governments’ Women’s unit and the other was a former Chief Magistrate.  She then recounted that she had been the first woman Chief Magistrate of Queensland in 1999.  However, following a disciplinary transfer of another member of the judiciary she found herself being prosecuted for witness intimidation and jailed for six months, when her motives for the relocation were challenged by the colleague, also a senior Lawyer.  

 https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diane_Fingleton

Following a lengthy appeal process she was eventually exonerated by the High Court.  This was expensive for the Government as she received a significant sum in compensation for lost earnings and probably reputation.  There is also a book.  ‘Nothing to do with Justice. The Di Fingleton story’.  

Our hostess also added that at the same time, Pauline Hanson, the notorious former Co-founder of the One Nation anti-immigration party and now a Queensland Senator, had also been jailed for some electorial transgression.  

To be put in jail for doing your job is bad enough, but to be jailed in the company of Pauline Hanson is absolutely the pits.  I cant imagine two more different people sharing a prison experience together!  She too was released on appeal.  (Her maiden speech as a Senator was anti Muslim).

 https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pauline_Hanson

Whilst we are in Brisbane the papers have just learnt that former Catholic Archishop Pell has been found guilty of Child Sexual abuse and is awaiting sentencing.   However, the furore will continue as he is appealling and this man still has many friends in high places.  

That is generating a huge amount of debate and amazingly this guy has managed to obtain a character reference from a former Prime Minister, (John Howard) and support from Tony Abbott.  Howard has described this convicted criminal as ‘a person of high intelligence and exemplary character.’ Is he just a loyal friend or a complete idiot?

To escape from the noisy politics of Brisbane, we have taken ourselves off up ‘Bruce Highway’ to Noosa for a couple of days a small holiday seaside town North of Brisbane which is a surfers paradise.   This area was also home to Steve Irwin, a very charismatic naturalist and broadcaster who lost his life about 10 years ago, accidentally speared through the heart by a Stingray.  The parallel road to ours was Steve Irwin Highway.  

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This week Noosa had a big longboard surfing competition, attracting world class surfers but what caught our eye today was the dog surfing Competition.  I kid you not.

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These pooches were prize winners!

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We watched.  

After the dogs we were mesmerised by the Under 15 Girls finals.  It was quite something. 

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Today we took a coastal path through the Noosa National Park hoping to see Koalas perched in the branches and whales breaching out at sea.  What we did see were huge rolling waves and many surfers plunging into boiling seas and rowing vigourously away from the shore to catch the next ‘big one’.  

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The sea, the trees and the beaches were stunning.  Whilst we (I) limped up the paths in the sweaty heat, youngsters literally ran towards us bare footed carrying huge heavy boards, heading for the beach seeking the perfect wave. 

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One part of the walk through the woods smelt even more heavenly than the rest.  I realised that we were passing through Tea Tree Bay.  These magnificant trees with their peeling paper bark smelt amazing.   

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These branches were supposed to contain our favourite tree huggers and I

got neck ache from walking looking up into the branches.  But they didn’t. 

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As if the surfing was not enough, Noosa also has a complex river system.

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And if the pounding of the waves is a bit too noisy, not far away there are quiet estuaries borded by tempting eateries.  And more birds.  And even more birds.

We left to head back to Brisbane as Landy was now ready to collect.  It is now Brisbane's turn to have a crack at her gears!

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As we left the holding bays at the port our heads were turned by this:

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Eat your heart out Ian Stuart.

Aus4 - Gold Coast

Aus2 - We Need to get out More