CK in Aussie – Landscapes and nature

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A pretty sunrise to start the day. Gold Coast lives up to its name, with the golden sky and golden sand. Just look at the horizon, depicting this endless ocean that appears to fall off the edge of Earth. It was no wonder why the ancient people thought the Earth was flat. Interestingly, it was also this same very picture that proved Earth is round!

Anyhow, back to topic. Australia has one of  the most amazing nature sights in the world. I mean, in which other countries could you view the vast extent of both the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean? Okay, I may not be reasonable because well, you can’t be in Perth and Gold Coast at the same time; that’s like the distance from Singapore to Shanghai. Which countries have a combination of snow-capped mountains, dry deserts, and forests? Not to mention clear blue waters. Okay that’s because Australia is a bloody huge continent. Nevertheless, that’s the fact.

Like I mentioned in my previous post, Toowoomba is situated somewhere within the Great Dividing Range. So when we drive in and out of the city, there was only one highway that cut through the mountain range.

 

This highway has a name and it is called Warrego Highway that leads all the way to Ipswich to the East. If Toowoomba is situated on altitude, it also means that the temperatures are lower! At night it could hit -3 C during the period I was there.

Think about it, if the terrain in Australia is so rough, what kind of vehicles do they need? Yes, it was my first time driving a vehicle of engine size larger than 3,000cc! James’ car was a monstrous 3.8l, in comparison to what we have in Singapore!

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She has a name, and her name is 486GIF. ‘Cause that’s her number plate hahaha!

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Here is an aerial view of East Toowoomba, taken while we flew around in a small piper warrior 2! You can see that the city is neatly built and roads are very organised like grids. What you see is what you get; straight roads that cross the entire city. Do you also see the ups and downs? Imagine this was a hilly mountain range. Yup, they built a city right on top of it! So probably only a couple of roads run flat across the city through a small valley. So vehicles are practically riding on a roller coaster track as they travel down the seemingly nice roads.

Another reason for a powerful car is this.

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Taken in Brisbane, look at how steep the slopes are.

Some of the streets in Brisbane could be compared to San Francisco, something like that, but not as terrible:

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Yes, there are houses like that too, but slightly milder!

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So can I say that Brisbane is the Australian version of SF? Not that I have been to SF before though!

One of my things I wanted to do on this trip was to visit a national park. And so I did. The park I went was a spontaneous destination because I did not plan beforehand and most of the ‘touristy’ national parks were too far away. So I chose a closer one about 55km away. It was about a 50min drive up north and it was called Crows Nest National Park. Crows Nest is such an interesting name for a small town. Here I was:

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As expected from a non-touristy area, it was a very quiet place. I brought along Christopher’s DSLR, a backpack and off I went to conquer the trails. There were no visible humans at all. My phone’s signal went dark the deeper I walked in. Luckily the GPS still received signal from satellites. However, nobody will know if I slipped and fell off a cliff or eaten up by tigers. Okay there are no tigers by the way, but the meaning is the same. I bet there wasn’t anyone within a 10km radius of me.  I had expected to see some exotic creatures but all I got was this:

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Oh should I mention I saw deer and cows too!

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And more vegetation:

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But occasionally you get to see picturesque pools:

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While it can get rather creepy being all alone in this soulless world, it felt great to cuddle in the arms of mother nature. Where else can you find such tranquility and peace? Somehow, it reminded me of my army days when we went for navigation through such serenity. I would love to go hiking again in a more exciting national park, next time with company though!

When night falls, the sky is littered with millions of visible stars.

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It took me quite a few tries to capture this stunning image. You can see the Milkyway as the faint diagonal bright streak from the top left to bottom right. As much as I tried to capture a good shot, Toowoomba is still a city and some light pollution was still inevitable. Also it was so windy and freezing I refused to drive to a darker spot. Nature is indeed beautiful.

Driving at night was quite a feat for bright city dwellers like me. The trip from Brisbane back to Toowoomba took about 1.5 hours and it was not easy for me to concentrate especially in the dark highways without street lights. I got bored and sleepy after some time. The beam of the headlights were not far enough to allow for my reaction time at 100kmh so it was best to flash high beam at any possible time. The most logical option would be to slow down, but no, we are talking about distances in hundred kilometers. A 10kmh reduction in speed would mean you travel 10km less in an hour! So I just used the cruise control as my ‘auto throttle’ to maintain the highest speed limit, while trying to follow the lane markings at the best my eyes could perform. Admittedly, I was really afraid I would hit a sharp bend at such high speed and die, so sometimes I still do hit the brakes at the point of zero-confidence. After all, I did want to go home safe, so did Christopher.

Another note on driving etiquette. Like I mentioned, most drivers follow the speed limit strictly partly because they set cruise control too. So you will not see eager drivers trying to persistently overtake you simply because they do not step on the accelerator at all. I realised this practice through a few encounters. For example I was cruising at 97kmh and the guy at the back was probably 100kmh. So as he closed in he switched lanes to overtake (not because he want to overtake, but because he did not want to kiss my ass). Then as I found out I was slightly slow, I twisted the cruise control knob by two clicks and my car accelerated to 100kmh. The driver then switched back to the left, following behind me. In Singapore, overtaking drivers usually insist on overtaking you, no matter how fast you go. That shows how chill the Australians are!

Be back for more Aussie experiences!

 

 

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