Monday, November 27, 2017

Stony Point to Kuranda Part 4: Brisbane to Cairns

Finally I got on to the train that would take me most of the way.  For anyone also planning a ride on the Spirit of Queensland train, I'll note that it departs from a non-standard platform at Brisbane Railway station and doesn't seem to appear on any of the overhead boards.  I know this as I was waiting around for it to appear and when I decided to go and look for it myself, I had already missed the time in which you can check in bags.

Anyway, the train is amazing. It travels 1681km in about 25 hours (and therefore only averaging about 70km/hr).  The train has a dining car, carriages with normal seats and carriages in which the seats turn into beds. It was very comfortable.

 I admit that I spent a lot of the way wondering why the Queensland trains don't travel South to Sydney. They're much more comfortable than the New South Wales trains.  The answer, at least according to Wikipedia, is that Queensland mostly uses a narrow gauge track, whereas New South Wales uses the "standard gauge", so standard gauge track does go as far as Brisbane, but the nice Queensland trains all run on narrow gauge.  Queensland also has a 4000km Sugarcane tramways network that keeps crossing the main track.   Sugarcane was everywhere in North Queensland.  

The scenery definitely became more and more tropical as we went North.  There were plenty of Cranes, magpie geese, wallabies, Jabiru storks, ibis, pelicans, kangaroos, buffalos, eagles and hawks along with banana plantations, mango trees everywhere and lots of termite mounds in the fields.  Definitely a very relaxing and enjoyable journey.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Stony Point to Kuranda: Part 3

Sydney to Brisbane. What a journey.  I'd better start off by noting though that the train had seen better days (probably better decades) and it only went as far as Casino.  The two hour bus ride then turned into a 3 hour bus ride as I'd forgotten the 1-hour time zone change at the Queensland border.

But it was a great ride.  Crossing the Hawkesbury River and then passing all the oyster beds just North of Sydney really is spectacular.    Even in Cairns all the sea-food shops were advertising "Sydney Rock Oysters".  Then the view around Gloucester was amazing.  The wikipedia entry of "a town in dairy and beef cattle country, is located in Mid-Coast Council, within the Manning district on the Mid North Coast of the state of New South Wales, Australia." doesn't sound too exciting, but "Base camp for Barrington Tops" sounds a bit better.  Barrington Tops is part of a World Heritage site (Gondwana Rainforests of Australia) that goes all the way into Queensland.   It's amazing that a place just North of Sydney has  "subtropical rainforests in the gullies to subalpine and alpine regions on the mountain peaks."

At this point I was sitting next to an elderly man.  He said hello as he sat down and then pointedly told me that he was going to look out the window and not chat.  Then he proceeded to chat all the rest of the way to Casino.  He told me that he was visiting his friend, who was 75 and had just had a child out of wedlock.  Apparently he was having it tough.  He didn't have any money. He was ill.  He wanted to be back in Thailand.

I had expected that the trains would be mostly empty.  There are plenty of flights between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.  However, the trains were relatively full.  Second class seemed to be backpackers and parents with children.  First class seemed to be "my doctor insisted that I don't fly", but all these elderly people were very chatty.  The man on one side was complaining that his wife had left him.  The two women behind were enthusiastically discussing the deaths of their husbands.  It was very surreal.

We arrived into Brisbane at night and I discovered that it really is like an overgrown country town -- particularly on a Tuesday evening.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Stony Point to Kuranda: part 2

The next few stages of the journey were quite straight-forward and I was amazed by how many people actually take the train instead of flying.  The train departed from Southern Cross station in Melbourne and slowly ambled North (960km between Melbourne and Sydney) as I spent hours trying to work out whether it was actually possible to take reasonable photos out of a train window or not.

Highlights included the scenery around Albury and then the green hills coming in Sydney. There were plenty of kangaroos and wallabies, but strangely the most common animal that I spotted was the alpaca.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Stony Point to Kuranda: Part 1

Stony Point has a rather definitive "end-of-the-line" feeling and so a great place to start a long journey:

Unfortunately, Stony Point also doesn't have many trains arriving or departing and not much to do whilst waiting.  There was a shop in which one could buy a deep-fried sausage, but that was about all.

Luckily for me, Stefan was along and so we first went to look at all the dead sharks littering the beach and then took the ferry to French Island.    The ferry was of particular interest as the crew didn't know how to read a timetable, but we did arrive as planned and set out to explore the island.

 There's not a lot on the island, apart from lots of koalas that apparently were introduced in the 1880s.   There are also a lot of hiking trails that look amazing, but we need to catch the train and so only explored a few of them.

Trip Advisor doesn't have the best reviews of French Island "We had booked 2 weeks previous and told we would be picked up at the pier and taken to the prison. We were not met at the pier and forced to walk 3km with 7 young children with no water etc."   We also didn't see a prison, but we did explore some of the coastal paths and spotted a few koalas.

... and then it was back on the ferry and a few hours on the train ride back to Melbourne.

Ferry to French Island. Definitely not tropical weather yet!

Definitely a place to return to!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Update on the rash

The routine that I was put on seems to be working. The rash is not as bright and has mostly gone from my body!  I'm also back at home. I'm on the same routine as in the hospital with one Zyrtex in the morning and 4 cephalexin throughout the day as an antibiotic. Some of my blood results have come back and showed that I do have an infection.  They still don't know the cause of the rash.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Red skin rash - the cause and solution?

According to my GP, I have contact dermatitis, but nobody seems to have a clue what's causing it and it's not going away. Anyway, I've ended up in hospital.  In case anyone else in a similar state, here's what has happened:

1. dermatologist came in, looked shocked and asked why nobody had taken a biopsy of my skin. "How do they know what the cause of the rash is if you haven't had a biopsy". He then took a chunk of my leg away and will find the results soon.

2. He put me on oral antibiotics

3. I was on a drip for a while to rehydrate and "flush out the kidneys".  After a day they then took the drip away again.

4. They have now given me this rather complex routine:

a) sigmacort 1% cream to run onto my face
b) diprosone 0.05% cream to put onto my body
d) then cover myself in wet towels for 30 minutes.  I must admit that I looked rather strange under all the towels and they got very, very cold after about 10 minutes
e) pat dry
f) cover myself in hydraderm moisturiser
g) when the moisturiser dries then put sigmacort 1% ointment on my face and diprosone ointment on my body.

Repeat 3x per day.

Let's see how it goes!

Sunday, August 17, 2014