Tuesday 4 April 2017

Wandering Australia Part 2

Since my last posting, a great deal of water has literally passed under the bridge. Or, to be more exact, it passed OVER bridges and highways, marooning thousands, including Bill and me.

Last Friday morning, March 31, the sun came back out in Brisbane, and everyone thought that the worst of Cyclone Debbie had passed. We picked up our rental car to start the drive to Coff’s Harbour in northeastern New South Wales for our weekend stay with son-in-law Tim’s parents. Alas, we hadn’t reckoned with all the rain that had fallen in southeastern Queensland and northeastern New South Wales during Debbie’s savage swing through the area. Rivers up and down the coast began surging, breaking their banks and flooding everything in sight. 

For the first two hours of our drive south from Brisbane, all was fine. Bill’s driving skills - ‘on the wrong side’ - were exemplary, and we were sailing along merrily…until we reached the Gold Coast and discovered that the Tweed River had flooded and closed the M1, the main highway between Brisbane and Sydney. Imagine Highway 401 being closed between Toronto and Montreal, but without any alternate routes. We chased down one rural road that went inland many kilometres, hoping to cross the Tweed River inland where it hadn’t yet flooded. After all, both the car’s GPS and my iPad’s Google Maps said that the road was still open. We saw some beautiful countryside on the way and thought we were being incredibly clever…until we turned a corner and discovered that there had been a flash flood just minutes before that totally cut off access to the south.

It was clear that we were not going to complete our trip to Coff’s Harbour that day. The authorities were giving no estimates about when the M1 would re-open. The betting was that it would be at least three days, so we went into problem-solving mode. Problem One: where would we sleep on Friday night? Problem Two: how would we get to Sydney by Sunday? Many thousands of people faced the same predicaments. Welcoming arms opened up for us, however: Tim’s cousin Craig and his wife, Angie, live in Gold Coast and after a few phone calls (thank goodness Bill had an Australian call plan on his cell phone), we had accommodation lined up for Friday night. Problem One solved. 

The solution to Problem Two was arranging to return our rental car in the Gold Coast on Saturday and book a flight to Sydney from Gold Coast International Airport. 

With those decisions made, we were able to enjoy Craig and Angie’s warm hospitality on Friday night, including watching a National Rugby League game on high-def television. Great fun! Bless them for their generosity and kindness. And bless Ace Rental Car for making the return of our car two weeks early so easy. (The original plan was to return it in Melbourne before we flew to Tasmania.)

There was one problem left to solve: where would we stay on Saturday night in Sydney? Our plan had us staying with Tim’s sister, Bron, and her family in Sydney on Sunday night, but they were away on Saturday night. So, once again, the phone became handy, and Bron stepped in to help us. She gave us the access code to their house, so we spent a very comfortable night in Sydney. We had the house to ourselves, except for the dog and two cats. Nice to have beasts around us gain.

On Sunday, Bill and I woke up to a bonus day in Sydney. We loaded up our Opal public transit cards ($60 for unlimited travel for seven days) and headed into central Sydney. It was so wonderful to see the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge through Bill’s eyes. The majesty of these monumental structures always leaves me in tears.

It was wonderful how people mobilized to help us. We felt totally surrounded by love and support. There is so much to be grateful for. However, I keep thinking about the many people who have suffered terribly in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie. Early estimates say that the damage will exceed one billion dollars. They put the problems that Bill and I experienced into context. We were inconvenienced; others lost everything.

Sadly, we were not able to spend time in Coff’s Harbour with Tim’s parents. That will have to wait until our next visit. Happily, however, we plan to have dinner with them on Friday when they visit Sydney.

Enjoy these photos from the last few days. I’ll be posting soon about our day trip in the fabulous Blue Mountains on Monday. 

There’s a shift in my photography lately - there are more photos of random people. Street photography, it’s called. You’ll see examples in the photos below. I look forward to your feedback.

Flash flood on Tweed River

Flash flood on Tweed River

Empty bread shelves at Coles Grocery Store, Gold Coast

In front of Bron and Rob's home

In front of Bron and Rob's home

In front of Bron and Rob's home

Bill liked the handles for standing passengers on the train...

Customs House, Circular Quay

Didgeridoo Guy, Circular Quay

Accordion player, Circular Quay

Souvenirs, Circular Quay

Souvenirs, Circular Quay

Souvenirs, Circular Quay

Souvenirs, Sydney Opera House

Souvenirs, Circular Quay

Bill encounters the Sydney Opera House. Love at first sight.

Bill and his Chinese ladies 

Bill's Chinese ladies

Bill and his Chinese ladies

Bill getting a quilt inspiration, Sydney Opera House

Luna Park across from the Sydney Opera House

1 comment:

  1. You have dignified a great number of people and places this post...Lovely to be travelling with you.