Saturday, April 17, 2010

Gold Coast and Brisbane Area

It's been a whirlwind five days in Gold Coast - so busy I haven't even had time to write about what we've been up to, so I'll try and fill in the blanks from the last several days...yes, we leave for Cairns (1600km north) tomorrow after the clinic ends, so onward with our itinerary!

Upon our arrival to Brisbane, we were picked up by Irma who drove us to her place north of Brisbane - She has a lovely home and made us a great dinner which we shared with a few other people, Fiona (who helped arrange all the clinics in Oz) and Silka (who was one of the attendees at the clinic here.) Saw lots of photos of Irma and her husband Neville's cattle station (huge ranch) which was located several hundred kilometers west of Brisbane...Made a mental note to visit if the chance arises in the future...

Next day we woke up to a gorgeous view - the house was in the middle of their property on a hill and there were open pastures all around - She has kangaroos and koalas on her property, but we did not see any - we were warned the night before about the cane toads, who have become a major nuisance in Australia - Handling (and especially licking them) is not recommended, as they secrete toxins through their skin or glands or somewhere...) Originally imported to eat cane (sugar cane) beetles, the toads refused to eat a single beetle, but flourished on the continent regardless - peril at every corner apparently, but we managed to stay safe so far, so phew...

Speaking of peril, ask Karen to tell you about her spider story!

We made our way to Gold Coast where the actual clinic is being held - It was a shock to come into a city that looks a lot like Miami Beach - huge skyscrapers on the beach, super touristy, super posh, and trendy. We have a room on the 26th floor of one of the high rises, and drive ten minutes every morning to a nice horse facility - We are told that this area of Queensland has the highest concentration of horses in Australia  - hard to believe amongst the skyscrapers and all. We look at the beach every morning when the sun rises, and keep meaning to walk on it, but we are too tired! Yes, we are working that hard... Tomorrow morning we promised ourselves we will take a morning walk at 6 a.m.. Who needs sleep anyway!

Ten ladies are attending the clinic, and it has been a great time getting to know them and their horses. It's been fun photographing them and watching them make positive changes in their riding skills - At the end of each day, I come back to our room, download images, edit, tweak, and post the images to my smugmug site. Makes for along day, but how lucky am I to be working here!  Everyone at the clinic is super enthusiastic about Karen being here and we are daily asked "when are you coming back?"  Our answer for now is... ask Karen...I'm ready!

The birds here are something else - super colorful, loud, big, exotic, and fun to watch and listen to - There are a few Kookaburras who show up every morning and they make the coolest noise - think of the Tarzan tv show monkey noises - that is the kookaburra's call. Too cool. Just learned they are a type of Kingfisher - you learn something new every day!

Have enjoyed the people everywhere in Oz. We were treated to a lovely dinner this evening by  Eliza and Kelly, two of the clinic participants - It was fun to visit with clinic attendees outside of the daily classes. Eliza has been a fantastic help  - she has been our wheels while here, picking us up in the morning and taking us back to our hotel every night - It's so nice to have the driving taken care of, as the whole wrong side of the road driving thing is still confounding to me...

Ok, so late, so many good things to say, so little time! Will try to catch up at our next stop in Cairns - we visit the great barrier reef and rain forest there, so we are looking forward to it!

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