Archive for the 'Travel' Category

South Pacific Cruise 2017 … part 1

One more full day at sea on our much-anticipated cruise. Apart from some so-so health early on, it’s been a truly wonderful experience. By Christmas time, I was seriously exhausted in so many ways so this cruise (booked back in 2015) could not come soon enough. Just what the doctor ordered. Lots of free time, swims, sightseeing, amazing array of food (too much of it), good times with our friends Glenn and Jan, coffees, reading, sleeping and plain relaxing … something which I’m not wonderful atūüėĒOur embarking from Brisbane at 4.30 pm Friday was preceded by a drive to/from Buderim Uniting Church, where good friend Bruce Ames invited me to preach at his Pastor commissioning. It went well, as did the Bruce Highway traffic flow back.

So the next two days were thoroughly enjoyed doing as much or as little as we chose – that’s cruising.

Our cruise had four ports of call – Champagne Bay and Port Vila in Vanuatu, then Lifou and Noumea in New Caledonia; Vanuatu an interesting mix of British and French, New Caledonia very French with Noumea quite developed and cosmopolitan. Both countries seem, amongst other things to have quite a liking for Twisties ūüėÄ

Monday – Champagne Bay

  • To shore by tender
  • Beautiful blue swimming water
  • Really enjoyable outrigger canoe ride
  • As lush as

Tuesday – Port Vila

  • Curious blend of developed and underdeveloped
  • Enjoyed the Mele Cultural Centre. Jan and I ended up in the cannibal’s cooking pot

Wednesday – Lifou

  • Hair-raising van trip across this Loyalty Island
  • Another beautiful, idyllic-looking swimming


Holidays – part 2 – Far North Queensland & Brisbane

Hi. Well –¬†my two weeks of leave finished yesterday.
Today’s a public holiday and back on deck tomorrow. ¬†It has been a much-needed and much-appreciated break. ¬†Almost five months since the last real break in early April (in USA).

The last week has been a memorable 0ne; as Dale and I have accompanied Dale’s U.S. sister Diana and brother-in-law Tom to Cairns and then back at our home in Tarragindi, Brisbane.

Last Monday, Diana, Tom, Dale and I headed at pre-dawn to Brisbane Airport en route to Cairns Рbase camp: the Whitfield home of special friends, Jan and Glenn.  They are such wonderful hosts.   By nature of frequent flyer points used, Dale and I needed to make the trip north in two legs РBNE to Townsville, then by Dash 8 prop plane on to Cairns.









The Northern Beaches (aka “the beaches” ) of Cairns are so beautiful, so we took Jan and Glenn out to dinner (as an advanced thank-you) at Palm Cove’s Reef House restaurant. ¬†Beaut meal at a lovely spot.









Tuesday morning, I drop off Dale, Tom and Diana off at Cairns Central train station – they are off to Kuranda via the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway. ¬†I’ll pick them up two hours later there. Meanwhile, I drive to Trinity Beach, my all-time favourite beach location.

























We spend the rest of the day checking out Barron Falls (lovely raised boardwalk), have lunch in Mareeba, drive through Atherton and Yungaburra, swim in Lake Eacham, enjoy devonshire teas at Lake Barrine before our stomachs all ¬†successfully negotiating the 200+ bends on the Gillies Highway east to Gordonvale south of Cairns. Here are some of the day’s images.

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Wednesday is our Daintree/Port Douglas Day. It proves a great day. ¬†We scrap Breakfast with the Birds/Wildlife Habitat (Dale and I¬†have¬† been there many times previously), have breakfast at – you’ve guessed it – Trinity Beac, and via the wonderfully scenic Captain Cook Highway that hugs the coast for some time, we head to Mossman Gorge. ¬†Mossman Gorge – these days comanaged ¬†by the local aboriginal people¬†and the Queensland Government is such a great place to visit. ¬†We all enjoy it. Brings back memories of when we’d take our boys there in the late 1990s for swims there.

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We spend over three hours at Mossman Gorge, then head to Four Mile Beach at Port Douglas, firstly getting lunch from Mocka’s Pies. Lunch over, we drive to the lookout before heading Cairnswards, stopping for a late afternoon swim at “my beach”. Another great day – in some of the beautiful parts of God’s world.

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Thursday was pre-booked as our Green Island/Reef day.  After a slower start to the day (great!) and some trouble finding parking Рwell, more a case of finding some $2 coins for our long term parking, we head off around 11 to Green Island.  Dale had never been there previously.  We had a great weather,  I enjoyed the glass-bottom boat experience (coral and tropical fish), the boardwalk thr0ugh the National Park and a relaxing swim, followed by some time on an umbrella-atopped beach chair.  Nice.

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After five great days in Cairns, we all head back to Brisbane later afternoon.

Saturday, after heading to Mt Cootha for breakfast and great views of the city and then a brief foray into Dale’s school; under glorious Brisbane spring skies, we head to Southbank and take the CityCat loop – upstream to the University of Qld campus and then upstream to Hamilton. Much longer than planned, but worth it.

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Sunday Рlast day of my holidays, we invite members of the MacGregor family to our place for an extended brunch.  Once again, superb weather and a really enjoyable time.  The first opportunity for some of my folks to meet two more of their U.S. relations.

Much more I could share. We’ve done, taken-in, experienced, savoured much these past two+ weeks.

I look forward to getting back into ministry tomorrow.

blessings ¬†–¬†David









New Zealand 2016 – post #2

Our fifth day in/around Taupo on NZ’s North Island is drawing to a close. The past two days have been especially enjoyable; first of all by a prevalence of sunshine. It makes such a difference.

Monday morning we woke up to a much clearer view across the lake to the distant mountains of Tongariro National Park, which we’re just back from. I’ll get to that.

Taking advantage of the sunshine, we booked into a 90 minute Lake Taupo cruise. We almost had the cruise boat to ourselves; just 6 others. Gorgeous weather. Cruise highlight: checking out the contemporary Maori rock carvings (think 1980s) at Mine Bay. Here’s a link. Here are some nice pics:

It really was such a nice cruise, with coffee and freshly cooked blueberry muffins to top it off. 

Some down time after we’re back and mid-afternoon, via Huka Falls we’re off to the Mitai Maori Village in Rotorua- just over an hour’s drive north. Huka Falls is right near the source of NZ’s longest river, the Waikato. The surging of water through a narrowed passageway creates one incredible, mightily impressive surge of water. Huka Falls claims to be one of NZ’s prime tourist attractions. Sorry, we gave the jet boat ride a miss ūüôā

Mitai Maori Village in Rotorua was worth it! Good blend of Maori culture on show (especially dance and music, haka included), sumptuous hangi meal, tasty desserts and nighttime guided forest walks. Not overly commercialised and believe it or not – no gift shop at the end! 

That was yesterday. Driving home, I stayed awake enjoying Joan Baez’ 75th birthday concert via Apple CarPlay – great guest artists with her including Emmylou Harris, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Indigo Girls and heaps more.

Today, enjoying another sunny morning we drove the 90 minutes south to Tongariro National Park, with its three active (or at least dormant) volcanoes of Ngauruhoe, Tongariro and Ruapehu – North Island’s tallest mountain. One of these acted as Mt Doom in Lord of the Rings. This is definitely Rings country! These volcanoes are ever present, seemingly whichever way you look or drive, impressive indeed. Tom, Diana and I took the “easy” 6 km walk of the Taranaki Falls Track. No regrets, as I passed through or by open alpine fields, subtropical rain forest, the falls themselves and fast-flowing Mountain streams. I will remember this walk for a long time.

Before heading back to Taupo we all enjoyed a high tea in the amazing Chateau Tongariro – this huge old-fashioned British-in-style hotel in the “middle of nowhere”.

Views from our seating there, aided by the cheese platter before  hand were stunning indeed.

Wonderful couple of days, wonderful sights and experiences , and wonderful spending this time with Diana and Tom.

Until next posting.

Blessings – David

New Zealand 2016 – post #1

Hi. Close on three days in NZ, North Island. 

After flight delays, Dale and I finally make it around 1.30 am to the Heartland Hotel, Auckland Airport – finally meeting up with Dake’s sister Diana and husband Tom – they had arrive from the States two days earlier. It will be great to spend the next 2 1/2 weeks with them in NZ, home in Brisbane and in Cairns for four nights.

With just enough sleep, and after picking up our rented Hyundai Tucson, and with overcoast skies we head east (?) to the Coromandel Peninsula, looking forward to checking out picturesque Cathedral Cove. Well, the 80 minutes round trip walk tested my fitness – sharply inclined walking track and all, but glad I made it there. Just like in the travel pages

Cathedral Cove done, and we’re off to our destination, Taupo – on the northern shores of Lake Taupo, largest natural lake in the Southern Hemisphere, so the say. After fish and chips at Tarua mid-afternoon, Tom drove much of the way to Taupo, getting in at 7.30 to our Lakeside Villas base camp for the next week. A trip to the Countdown supermarket (think NZ Woolworths) for basics, and I join Tom, him fully versed in the peculiarities of American Football, in us watching the enthralling Broncos v. cowboys rugby league semi final. A fun experience explaining rugby league/rugby union differences as they game went on. Glad we have Skyports on our NZ TV here. Sadly, a gallant Broncos loss in extra time.
Saturday turns out a quiet day. The weather is on the miserable side, so we have breakfast at Taupo McDonald’s (only Maccas in world where you can eat above ground in a converted DC3!) apart from light shopping, we take it easy for the rest of the day. Well- apart from a wonderful roast lamb and veges dinner cooked by Dale, that is. It was so good! Nex Zealand lamb – yes 

Today – Sunday , we accompany Diana and Tom to the local Roman Catholic church for Mass. Huge building, large congregation, relaxed-accessible liturgy, lots of child-leadership, good music and great leadership by the priest. 

After morning tea (just got to use my Coffee Club VIP Card!), and under uncertain skies, we head to just out of town to a thermal area called Craters of the Moon – a must see/do if in Taupo. Plenty of steam spewing out of the ground as one passes by on a well-constructed Boardwalk.

Late afternoon, the sky clearing somewhat, Dale and I walk across the road to see if the mountains of Tongariro National Park can be seen in the distance. No luck, but nice to see the lake in sunnier circumstances. 



Homeward bound – Take 2

I write this at the Los Angeles Airport Crowne Plaza – first portion courtesy of Delta Airlines (that’s a story!), second portion care of us (another story again). Our flight home, take 2, happens in just under seven hours.

Our second week here in NE Ohio has been a relaxing one, after a lovely few days with Diana and Tom in Pittsburgh. Our days would take a familiar img_0173pattern. Waking up around 7 (nice bonus, for early riser me) then off to to Millers Family Restaurant (Dad’s breakfast haunt for years) for my standard order of two eggs over-medium, hash browns, sausage patties and white toast, with coffee on tap.

The rest of the day? Significant down time; anything from reading Peter Garrett’s bio “Big Blue Sky”, taking my time over the downloaded Aus papers, some time with God, playing an old electric keyboard (including writing an instrumental piece), skipping lunch, afternoon nap, before heading off around 4 for a drive, some final shopping and then a meal out somewhere.¬†Monday night we caught up with Dale’s school-band friend Sherry and husband Wayne at a nice Mexican restaurant a Streetsboro. Dale raves about the soup.

img_0133The weather seemed take a turn for the worse though, with rain, wind and light snow impacting on how much time we managed outdoors.

The light snow falls were an unexpected bonus for us these past days. It got down to -5 here while back home in Brisbane my trusty iPhone weather app reminded me that summer lingered with 32 degree days.


















Tuesday however offered us beautiful blue sky, time to sit on the deck with Dad and (cat) Tiger and take some nice pictures.
















The light snow falls were an unexpected bonus for us these past days. It got down to -5 here while back home in Brisbane my trusty iPhone weather app reminded me that summer lingered with 32 degree days.¬†Dale and I enjoy walking down into the woods(trees bereft of leaves of course). Dad’s place is in an area called Nelson Kennedy Ledges.











Another afternoon, rain threatening, we took a drive out to an area called Aurora Meadows (20 minutes or so away) to where Dale grew up and did her early schooling, then past nearby Mantua where her family also lived.











And so it was that Tom, Diana and Dad saw us off around 1.30 pm Friday atCleveland airport. Little did we know that over the next 15 hours, six of these would be in the air, nine at airports surviving either lengthy layovers or delays (4 hours at Cleveland) or as in Atlanta and Los Angeles scrambling (not the eggs this time) to make our connections. All a bit crazy, but we were OK. The off-script PA announcements by the flight attendant on the Atlanta-L.A. leg helped!











Confusing signage with Virgin Australia checkin/boarding at both the Tom Bradley terminal and Terminal 3 and lengthy Security lines all meant we missed our 11.50 am Friday flight back to Brisbane. Sigh. So in the wee hours of a Los Angeles morning we speak to staff at the Virgin Australia desk (very helpful) and the Delta desk (less so). Different terminals and anyone who knows LAX knows this is one big airport.

Our one hour long phone chat with Delta back in Cleveland assured us that should we miss our flight home, Delta would put us up for the night and take care of meals etc. accommodation – yes! Meals, not at all, despite our 1 am pleading.
So, we’ve had a really restful day, catching up on sleep, reading, probably eating too much and preparing for the flight home (finally!) not too many hours away. Dale will go virtually straight from the airport to school, with a medical appointment thrown in there amid it all. We do nothing by half measures!
This trip, like so many others has been all about family. As the years go by, I need to more and more intentionally build in down time. These past 13 days (now 14) have gifted both of these. Thanks God.
See you soon,

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