Day trip to the outback – Chillagoe

In Cairns it doesn’t take too long to go from the lush coastal landscape, with it’s long sandy beaches and rain forest clad back drop, to the much drier and flatter outback.  Within a couple of hours drive, you have literally been transported to a completely different world.  It looks different, it smells different and it is different.

My husband and I took our beloved SAAB, nicknamed Sweedie, for a drive last weekend (husband’s love for this car will be another story).  We decided to visit a little outback town called Chillagoe, about 220 km inland from Cairns.

Greg and “Sweedie” at Chillago

It’s been several years since we last visited this little town and we have some very fond memories of the place.  At first glance there doesn’t appear to be much there, what was once a thriving mining town with a large smelter has long since declined to a mere dot on the tourist map, with less than 200 inhabitants. But take a second look and you will find there is actually a lot to discover.  I won’t go into details of what to see and do in the area,  if you want to learn more the following links are a good place to start:  Chillagoe    Chillagoe, Queensland

In Chillagoe

Chillagoe is known for its limestone caves and beautiful white marble. The very first time we visited, we specifically wanted to explore the caves.  The kids and I were very excited, husband much less so, he gets claustrophobic in small places.  But I convinced him the cave we were going to visit was very big, no way was he going to feel closed in.  After all, I had seen beautiful photos from inside the caves, they were as high as cathedrals, no possibility of claustrophobia there.

Chillagoe marble

The particular cave I had chosen for us to visit was only accessible with a guide.  Our small party was told there was no lights inside the cave so we were given miners lights to put on.  We were also told the cave was home to hundreds of bats and not to shine the lights upwards to disturb them.  They were sleeping and would not leave the cave until nightfall.

Limestone cave

But of course, someone managed to upset the bat colony and while squeezing through a very narrow and low passage (we had to crouch and walk sideways) hundreds and hundreds of bats were flapping past us at lightning speed.  We were told to turn our lights off and stand still, we were in pitch darkness and all we could hear and feel was the flapping of hundreds of wings.  But not a single bat connected with us.

It was an amazing experience and I will never forget my amazement at how skilled bats are at navigating in pitch darkness. The experience did however make my husband swear never to enter dark unlit caves again.  Actually any cave, lit or unlit, and that’s a promise he has kept to this day.

The  old smelter sits just outside town, a testament to the thriving industry that once sustained this town. Three large brick chimneys proudly stand watch over what is now mere ruins. But it is not too difficult to imagine the hustle and bustle that once must have reigned here.

Chillagoe smelter

You are no longer able to enter the actual smelter site, but you get a very good look from the information platforms erected around the place and lots and lots of information about the smelter and the town is provided on signs around the place.  For a history nut like me, it’s heaven.  It’s also a very good spot for some fantastic photos.

The drive to Chillagoe is in itself half the fun.  You drive through some sleepy little towns and if you stop for a coffee or a beer at the pub, if there is one, you’ll meet some wonderful characters.  They are always ready for a chat and can tell you just about everything about the area.  And they are wonderfully accommodating. We stopped for a quick coffee in one of those towns in the morning and the cafe owner, even though he closes at 2 pm, told us he would be happy to open up for us on the way home around 5 o’clock and make a pizza for us.  Just in case we were hungry.  That’s what I call service!

Petford railway station

Almost all the road to Chillagoe is now sealed, there are only a few kilometers here and there that are unsealed.  Those sections had just been graded when we made our day trip so it was an easy drive to the delight of hubby, who was a little bit worried about Sweedie getting her “feet” dirty.  After all, she’s a mature lady of 25  and she requires a little bit of extra care.  Which she got the next day – come 10 o’clock she was washed, dried and restored to her shining best.  And awaiting her next adventure.



I’m a lizard

Here in Cairns we have a bit of a cold snap at the moment or at least what we in this part of the world think of as a cold snap.  Anywhere else in the world it’s called warm, pleasant summer weather,  perfect for a day at the beach.  But us North Queenslanders think it’s a bit chilly.  We reach for our winter wollies and turn our reverse-cycle air conditioners to heating as night falls.

This got me thinking about how easily we get acclimatised and how in one part of the world 24°C means we go to the beach while in other parts, we put on winter clothes.

I hate the cold!  Anyone who knows me will  wholeheartedly agree; I’m always the one carrying a jumper or cardigan “just in case”.  And unless the pool is as warm as a steam bath, I’m really not that keen to get my feet, let alone my body, wet.

I left my country of birth (beautiful Sweden), looking forward to living in what I thought was a forever warm and sunny Australia.  When I stepped off the plane in Melbourne on one of their stinking hot February days, I was in heaven.  I thought 38°C was the norm.  Little did I know that Melbourne is known to have four seasons in one day, it might be 35°C in the morning but come early afternoon the temperature has dropped to 18°C and it’s pouring rain. Very similar to the place I had just left behind and, weather-wise, definitely not my dream climate.  I wanted those tropical balmy nights all year round.

Here I must mention that Melbourne is a fantastic city, one of the most livable cities in the world and if I could change the weather to tropical warmth, I would definitely live there.

Australia is a very large country and lucky for me, the weather gets warmer the further north you go.  So when my husband and I decided we wanted a change of scenery, I got my chance.  I looked at the map and basically picked a place as far north in Australia as you could go by car.  The first place I picked was vetoed by my husband because it apparently was just a tiny fishing village with absolutely no hope of employment (fishing for a living did obviously not appeal to my soul-mate).  Next choice – Cairns.  After a seven day scouting trip, checking out schools, housing and employment opportunities, we went back to Melbourne, sold our house and, with our two young children and large family dog, set off in our trusted Nissan Patrol.

We drove nearly 3000 kilometers north, a feat I’m very proud of having done without murdering the kids.  There were a couple of times my husband threatened to leave them behind on the roadside, but really in hindsight, they were incredibly patient and well behaved. This was 1992, long before tablets and smartphones.  We had to rely on “I spy with my little eye…” and coloring-in books.  Wish I had kept count on how many times we heard “are we there yet?”, “how much longer?”, we could probably have entered the Guinness Book Of Records and won.

But oh, it was soooo worth it!  Arriving at our house, we literally walked from the front door out to the pool and jumped in.  The pool was like a hot bath, I was in heaven (this is not to everyone’s liking mind you, most people actually want the pool to cool them down).  And for the next 10 years we lived on our out-door patio, swam everyday and apart from sleeping and cooking, hardly ever spent any time inside the house.

I took to the tropical climate like a duck to water, when everybody else were dripping with sweat in the high, wet-season humidity, I was at my best, nice and dry and just soaking up the heat.  It was never too hot or too humid for this wayward viking.  I am convinced, if there is such a thing as more than one life, I was definitely a lizard in my last one.

And then we moved up to the Tablelands, 300 meters above sea level and a mere 20 minutes away from our home on the coast.  But what a difference 300 meters can make!  It is consistently 3-5°C cooler up here (husband loves it) and for the first time in 10 years I was really feeling cold.  Not just a bit cool,  but cold.  14°C over night means a thick doona on the bed and sheep skin slippers, I might as well be in the Arctic.  Of course unless you have lived in a tropical climate for any length of time, this would simply be a nice summers evening.

My husband and I have spent nearly three years in Papua New Guinea and the temperature on the coast rarely goes below 23°C during the “winter” nights.  Average year-round temperature in Port Moresby where we work, is 26 -28°C.  Needless to say, this suits me fine.

At the moment we are back in Australia waiting for new work permits before heading back for another three years.  Port Moresby might only be a short one-and-a-half hour flight from Cairns, but we have once again acclimatised to the even warmer weather further up north.  As I write this the sun has set, it is just past 7.00pm and we are scrambling for our woolen jumpers.

Where to next?




I’m getting there

After finally managing to publish my first post, I now realise there is still quite a lot of work to be done.  If any of you experienced bloggers out there read this, you must be laughing, thinking “it’s not that hard!”.  And of course you are right, I just happen to be one of those annoying people who want every aspect of any project I do to be perfect.   And I have this stupid need to understand how everything works behind the scenes, it doesn’t matter that it is totally unnecessary for any success.  My better half’s take on this is that perfect equals slow, very slow.  Somehow, he always manages to complete any project in lightening speed and the worst part is, they are always very good.  Infuriating!

When looking on the net for helpful advise I found literally dozens and dozens of websites and YouTube clips giving advise on how to start a blog, talk about confusing!  But hey, a little advise can go a long way so to help me with this blogging business, I have decided to get some help by doing the 30 Day Blog Challenge.  It surely can’t hurt and who knows,  I might actually learn something.

I will be playing with the look of my website until I’m a 100% happy with it and you will most certainly find small changes as we go along and as I’m getting better at it.  So please bear with me and if any of you have any suggestions I love to hear them.  I just hope I have correctly inserted the contact form!

When I told some friends I’m starting a blog, the first question was “What are you blogging about?”  According to most blogging advise on the net, I must have a subject to talk about, a niche.  Well, that’s just it.  I don’t have any particular subject in mind, I really just want to talk about everyday things, share my observations and experiences and in doing so, hopefully put a smile on your face.  So starting with my next blog, I will give you an insight into my everyday but crazy life.  Come join me!

And hey, if there is any particular subject you think I should mull over, please use the contact form and let me know.


Starting a blog – Ready, set, go!

Baby Steps

I’m totally new to this blogging business and starting a blog is a bit scary. I admit it, putting yourself out there for all to see is a bit daunting, to say the least.  But hey, sometimes you really must get out of your comfort zone.

So after numerous trials and tribulations, I’m finally ready to write my first post. This will delight my long suffering  husband to no end.  He has patiently listened to my constant sighing and cursing while setting up my website.  Who could have known that an “easy 5-minute installation and a further 20 minutes customisation” could take well over a week?

Sometimes you just have to ask for help

I could have my life a lot easier by simply asking for help.  But, much as I hate to admit it, I am my own worst enemy.  I’m just so darn stubborn,  I like to sort things out for myself.  That’s how I learn.  This time however, I had to swallow my pride and ask for help (to the utter astonishment of my husband!).  The problem was not with the host or my theme and when I finally contacted the hosting company, they had me up and running in no time.

The culprit

My slightly aging laptop together with a less than speedy internet connection have to take all the blame for initial problems.  The laptop has some very strange quirks that I have tried to iron out for the last 12 months to no avail.   So it’s now on borrowed time, soon to be replaced with a laptop that is actually willing to work with me and knows who’s boss.

Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash
Typing.                                                                                                    Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash
Why am I starting a blog you might ask.

After a bit of soul searching, I realise I would like to talk about issues that affect us all and how we overcome them.  How do we stay positive when the world around us is spinning out of control? What can we do to make our lives happier and healthier?

But most of all,  I hope to bring a bit a fun and put a smile on peoples faces with my posts, pictures and observations.  My tag-line, “Life as I see it”, though not particularly original,  describes what this website is all about.  No particular subject, just my Scandinavian roots trying to have fun and make sense of this wonderful and exciting life we navigate through.