It Was Inevitable Wasn’t It ..



Rain approaching across the tropical forest..

Home from home?



It was always going to catch up with us sooner or later.

December is the start of the rainy season in Northern Australia after all. But there is rain and there is rain. In England it’s cold. In Queensland it’s warm. And it tends to come in short, sharp, very sharp, showers and then clears to sunshine once more. After a long hot dry season it was almost possible to see the soil sucking the water in. An hour later and you’d be hard pressed to tell it had rained at all.


The early morning basking rock.


Getting to the Whitsundays had involved the most tedious journey yet, the 700km (435 mile) drive from the Daintree Rainforest to just outside Airlie Beach. Ten and a half hours, including petrol, loo and food stops. On Christmas Eve. The Bruce Highway is just one lane each way for the majority of its length and with more than its fair share of slow moving traffic. But it beat hanging around in an airport terminal and we certainly saw more of the country this way, albeit most of it covered with sugar cane.



Our resident kookaburra. Noisy chap. Or chapess?

Scenic flights aside, this was always intended to be the chill out part of the trip. We’d found a cottage, secluded within a remnant of rainforest well off the beaten track and spent Christmas morning on the terrace photographing birds. The temperature for mid morning coffee was already in the very pleasant high 20sC.



Olive backed sunbird, female


To keep the costs down for this trip most of the time we stayed in holiday rentals with a couple of hotels thrown in as ‘a treat’. But there really is no better way to experience a country than living in it like a local. And a cottage or apartment offers so much more space. Even the smallest, with an open plan living area and bedroom & bathroom off, was twice the size of any hotel room I’ve ever seen. The largest, in Palm Cove, had us rattling around in two living areas, two terraces, two bedrooms and three bathrooms and yet it was the second cheapest of any of the Aussie places we stayed.



Olive backed sunbird, male


And, sad person that I am, how I fell upon a place with a washing machine. After a few days on the hot and dusty roads of the outback nothing gave me more pleasure than tipping the whole suitcase straight into the drum. It beat hand washing. We could have waited for hotel laundry but, quite aside from the exorbitant cost, where’s the fun in that? When you could be sitting out on the terrace, Tasmanian Pinot in one hand, googling for washing machine manuals in a last ditch bid to fathom out how a top loader works? Just as well I did it too. Otherwise I’d never have known about diluting the suds.



Shopping is shopping pretty much anywhere in the developed world but UK readers may be pleased to learn that Woolworths is still alive and well. It’s a supermarket in Australia, on first impressions the equivalent of Tesco with at least two stores per town and an accumulating land bank to ensure there’ll be many more yet to come. The selection of goods on offer is pretty similar to here with the exception that they aren’t so big on ready meals, most cooking is from scratch. Somewhere on the long drive down to Airlie Beach Mike asked an assistant if they sold pre-prepared sandwiches and received a look which suggested that we might have just landed from Mars.

The more significant difference is that supermarkets in Oz don’t sell booze. You’ll understand that it didn’t take too many days to work that one out. It’s the essential holiday purchase after all. But, no, you need a Bottle Shop for that. Unless one happens to be driving through the Clare Valley or similar wine region, in which case seek out a Cellar Door. How wonderful to be able to purchase direct from the source.



Cochlospermum gillivraei (Kapok Tree)



Cape Gloucester peninsular

Way off the main tourist trail. A prime spot for locals enjoying a Boxing Day barbie on the beach.



The road back to the cottage cut through agricultural country.

But one day I did a double take..



S/he refused to look at the camera. Perhaps it got the hump.



Enough of all this idling around, time for a walk.





Mt Rooper lookout, with a wonderful view across the Whitsundays.

The rain shower missed us. Just.

From the path we’d climbed to get here, the sound of huffing and puffing and then a head appearing above the brush. “G’day!” As with everyone else we’d met in Australia, this native was friendly. I wish I had a dollar for each time we’d been asked where we’re from, where we’d been and where we were headed next. Our new chum pointed out the islands in the bay, gave a name to each one, then pulled a bottle of beer from his shirt pocket and settled down upon a rock. “I only come up here to get away from the wife. Don’t tell her if you meet her.”


For us though it was time to up the pace and get back on the road once more.

And if you happen to be on the east coast of Australia for New Year’s Eve, where do you go?











Does it need any words?


pin it?


2017-10-26T10:20:03+00:00March 19th, 2017|Tags: |


  1. justjilluk March 19, 2017 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    That really was a holiday of a lifetime Jessica. I love the way you write. First class.

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 8:21 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jill. Happy Birthday!

  2. grammapenny March 19, 2017 at 9:34 pm - Reply


    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 8:33 pm - Reply

      It was. Love Australia.

  3. Sue Garrett March 19, 2017 at 11:32 pm - Reply

    Beautiful, everything must feel very mundane now.

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 8:35 pm - Reply

      This lousy weather isn’t helping. I, we all, need a good Spring to lift our spirits.

  4. Kris P March 19, 2017 at 11:42 pm - Reply

    What a wonderful way to spend Christmas, not to speak of New Year’s Eve! I did a double take myself when I saw the camel sitting peacefully in the middle of a herd of cattle but then your trip through the wilds of Australia has offered no end of surprises.

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 8:38 pm - Reply

      I knew there were camels in Australia but expected to see them in the middle of the outback, not shacking up with a field full of cows. It looks quite content though doesn’t it?

  5. Marian St.Clair March 20, 2017 at 12:02 am - Reply

    How about that! Love the last photo w/ everyone taking pictures.

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 8:39 pm - Reply

      Mike took that one on his iPhone. If you can’t beat them..

  6. Beth @ PlantPostings March 20, 2017 at 1:07 am - Reply

    Oh, Sydney Harbor! Now that would be fun, wouldn’t it?! Thanks for taking us along on your tour during your holiday. The rain you describe reminds me of some of the more arid parts of the U.S. and Mexico–where during certain seasons it rains a bit most days, but only for a brief period. And then you can hardly tell hours later that it rained at all. The ocean and mountain views you show are stunning!

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 8:43 pm - Reply

      Thanks Beth. Sydney Harbour is pretty spectacular, even without the fireworks. We spent a lot of time chilling out in the botanic gardens where there’s a wonderful harbour view.

  7. Virginia March 20, 2017 at 1:14 am - Reply

    That Olive backed sun bird’s beak really meant business, didn’t it! I suppose it gets nectar from deep inside a flower … or does it emasculate some poor critter? You must have really done your homework before you left to arrange such good accommodation Jessica. Thank you for the wonderful photos – again – you really know how to make your camera earn its keep!

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 8:50 pm - Reply

      Those sunbirds are tiny. Sort of English wren/hummingbird size. It must be a nectar feeder, I doubt it would stand much of a chance in a fight! I think this pair were nesting, they were always around a particular part of one tree. So cute.
      It took a lot of planning, this trip. Always a worry when you finally get to the other side of the world and wonder if the accommodation is going to be anything like it appeared on the internet. But then you know that! It all worked out perfectly and there were no unpleasant surprises, thank goodness.

  8. woolythymes March 20, 2017 at 1:24 am - Reply

    nope. no words needed. what a great trip……thanks for taking me along with you!!!!

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 8:53 pm - Reply

      It was a great trip. I’m already saving the pennies to go back.

  9. Jennifer March 20, 2017 at 1:27 am - Reply

    Oh, your photos! Just wonderful. I feel like I was there too. The rain sounds similar to what we get in the desert. I always wish for a full day’s rainstorm but that is very unusual here. The storms can be very strong and dump a ton of rain but they’re usually over pretty quickly. Interesting about the lack of booze in the grocery stores there. Here, it varies state to state. My husband is from the west and was very dismayed to find that grocery stores in the northeastern US, where I’m from and where we met and lived for the first few years we were together, do not sell liquor, just beer. When we moved to the west, he was so relieved to find booze in the grocery again. He said he had returned to civilization. 🙂

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 8:58 pm - Reply

      That’s weird (to me) that the regulations can be different across different parts of the same country. In Australia the main supermarkets own a Bottle Shop franchise and they’re usually next door. So it’s almost as convenient, except I had to wait outside with the shopping trolley while Mike went inside for the bottles!

  10. germac4 March 20, 2017 at 5:43 am - Reply

    Great post Jessica & really lovely to see this part of the world from your eyes. We are usually in Sydney for Christmas but can’t find a viewing spot good enough to take photos of the fireworks. When we travelled around the UK we were delighted to see such a variety of ready made meals & sandwiches … It made life so much easier, as we were staying in self contained accomodation. Anyway … No worries really!

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 9:07 pm - Reply

      I missed the easy cooking in Australia I must admit. Next time I’ll come prepared with lots of salad recipes and other meals that I can throw together in an instant. Especially now I know I can get most of the same ingredients that I do here.

  11. Vera March 20, 2017 at 7:22 am - Reply

    It came into my mind as I was reading your superb blog that, Jessica, you really ought to have been a travel writer! You will still not convince me that travelling away from home to see other parts of the world is something I need to do, but you do open up my awareness of other lands. x

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 9:15 pm - Reply

      I don’t enjoy the journey so much, with all the packing and unpacking, jetlag and other discomforts of travel. But I do enjoy arriving at the destination! Thanks Vera.

  12. Sarah Shoesmith March 20, 2017 at 8:24 am - Reply

    I love this post with its out of this world photos interspersed with down to earth practicalities like Woolworths and washing. What a way to spend Christmas day!

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 9:18 pm - Reply

      It is quite bizarre spending Christmas in the tropics. One day we were walking around Cairns and somewhere I could hear playing ‘Let it Snow, Let it snow, let it snow.’ Excuse me? It’s 33C out here and my ice cream is melting..

  13. Brian Skeys March 20, 2017 at 9:25 am - Reply

    I was going to comment on how beautiful the birds were, untill I reached the New Year pictures. What a wonderful experience to be there for the New Year. We once had a holiday in a cottage in Belgium where I used the hand dish washing liquid in the dishwasher, soap suds everywhere!

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 9:21 pm - Reply

      I remember my mother using ordinary washing powder when she got her first automatic washing machine. The tide of bubbles almost made it to the street.

  14. derrickjknight March 20, 2017 at 9:25 am - Reply

    The tour is so beautifully portrayed that you can be forgiven the hump joke 🙂

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 9:22 pm - Reply

      Sorry. Couldn’t resist 🙂

  15. ginaferrari March 20, 2017 at 9:30 am - Reply

    What a fabulous experience you’ve had. A real holiday of a lifetime!

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 9:25 pm - Reply

      I do miss it. It’s a bit grim coming back to all this rain.

  16. Sue March 20, 2017 at 10:09 am - Reply

    Oh wow, what fantastic photos … and like you I would have fallen on a place with a washing machine to get everything done in one fell swoop. 🙂

    I thought this might interest you –

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 9:29 pm - Reply

      Oh, that is fabulous, thank you Sue!! You know I’m going to have to test out one of those. They’re going to love it.. not a lot..

  17. kate@barnhouse March 20, 2017 at 11:28 am - Reply

    Sydney’s New Year’s fireworks display makes such a glorious finale to your adventures down under. Weren’t you tempted to stay? We were following our stints in Australia …. I often wonder how the garden would have turned out had we accepted a posting.

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      I threatened to go and hide out somewhere in the outback and never come back. Since then I’ve seriously looked at finding a way but it’s prohibitively expensive if you have no other connections with the country. A ‘retirement’ visa requires a 500,000 dollar (£308,000) purchase of a government bond before we even start looking for a house or any other living expenses.

  18. susurrus March 20, 2017 at 11:29 am - Reply

    It must be such a wonderful experience to be able to see the fireworks live after years of seeing them on the TV news.

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 9:43 pm - Reply

      It really is quite amazing. And of course there’s the atmosphere which doesn’t come across on the telly. I was torn between taking pictures and just taking it all in. Absolutely fabulous.

  19. jannaschreier March 20, 2017 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    Glad you managed to sort out an excellent viewing spot for the fireworks! I’m very grateful for Waitrose and Pret A Manger though, thinking back to Woolworths!

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 9:55 pm - Reply

      Our little indulgence at Mrs Macquarie’s Point was worth it for the view but also for not having to queue or sit in one spot for the whole day. It effectively paid for an extra day’s holiday. And hopefully some of the profit went to the RBG. And heck, we’ll probably only ever see it once.
      You’ll get a much better selection at Waitrose than we do. All the good things they advertise in the magazine only get as far as Bristol!

  20. Sarah March 20, 2017 at 8:14 pm - Reply

    Those are amazing experiences and images, a great way to celebrate Christmas and the New Year! Sarah x

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 10:00 pm - Reply

      It will be a difficult one to follow. But it’s something I’ve always wanted to do and we’ve done it now. I’d dearly love to go back to Australia, but perhaps at a less frenetic pace!

  21. restlessjo March 20, 2017 at 10:02 pm - Reply

    Fabulous, start to finish, Jess! 🙂 🙂

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 10:01 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jo. That holiday has made me restless too!

  22. wherethejourneytakesme March 20, 2017 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    You do realise you are the only person EVER to have sold a trip to Aussie to me – I will just have to go out and see the ‘rellies’ (on both sides of the family) now or maybe I will stow away in your suitcase on your next trip! Such a wonderful holiday and memories all captured magnificently.

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 10:04 pm - Reply

      Thanks Viv. I’d give anything to have ‘rellies’ in Oz. I need a sponsor!

  23. CherryPie March 21, 2017 at 12:11 am - Reply

    Wonderful images of both nature and man made spectacular 🙂

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 10:05 pm - Reply

      Thanks Cherie. I did love the birds and spent hours with the camera pointed at them.

  24. Christina March 21, 2017 at 7:58 am - Reply

    Jessica; thank you so much for sharing your wonderful trip with us – it was very special indeed.

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      Yes, I miss it dreadfully. Not quite done on the blog though, couple more posts still to come.

  25. Julieanne March 21, 2017 at 10:41 am - Reply

    When I first came to the UK I was so confused by front loading washing machines! More great photos. Yes, lots of camels in Oz. Sydney can do it’s showing off rather well.

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 10:10 pm - Reply

      I expected to see camels in the outback (only two) but not in the middle of a field of cows!

  26. Jacqueline March 21, 2017 at 11:20 am - Reply

    Fabulous photographs of beautiful flora and fauna and then ‘ BOOM ‘ those wonderful New Year celebration images ….. what an amazing trip you had Jessica. XXXX

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 10:11 pm - Reply

      It was ‘BOOM’ too. The fireworks were truly fabulous. Best I’ve ever seen.

  27. hoehoegrow March 21, 2017 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    How on earth do you come back to earth after a trip like that and hoe the borders and prune the roses!

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 10:16 pm - Reply

      I’m sowing seeds and hoping for a wonderful Spring and Summer!

  28. Linda B. March 21, 2017 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    That’s some kind of New Year’s celebration! And such an amazing trip. In the American Southwest the rain is often like that. A quick shower, it ends and then there’s a rainbow. My sister lives in an eastern state (or at least her county) where you have to buy booze in a state-run bottle shop. All of our family often show up with beer and wine so we don’t have to deal with it when we are visiting. Where I live you can buy almost any kind of alcohol in the grocery story.

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 10:22 pm - Reply

      That would confuse me totally. Not only different by state but by county?
      I think what depresses me most about English rain, apart from its temperature, is the duration of it. We can have days of constant drizzly grey stuff when the clouds are so low they’re oppressive and the sun never shines. Give me short sharp showers any day.

  29. frayedattheedge March 21, 2017 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    We did a touring holiday many years ago, starting in Perth. Each day we would travel to the next destination and go into the Tourist Information and look at the holiday accommodation brochures. The very helpful staff would phone up and book whichever quirky place we decided to stay, including a converted railway carriage. And yes, I agree with you about the joys off a washing machine ……..

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 10:25 pm - Reply

      Where was the railway carriage? There was one I was looking at in outback Queensland which looked very tempting but a long detour from our intended route.

      • frayedattheedge March 22, 2017 at 6:44 pm - Reply

        Our railway carriage was in Western Australia – somewhere between Perth and Albany. It had been very cleverly fitted out, it’s amazing what you can squeeze into a relatively small space! I shall have to start dropping hints to Malcolm about another trip to Melbourne ……. maybe next year!

        • Jessica March 22, 2017 at 9:41 pm - Reply

          I shall look out for the railway carriage if we ever get to that part of the country. Once you’ve seen Australia it’s hard not to be planning another trip back.

  30. Cathy March 21, 2017 at 9:22 pm - Reply

    Sarah put it brilliantly, commenting on how you neatly interspersed your ‘out of this world photos with down to earth practicalities like Woolworths and washing ‘ – great writing, as always, and those New Year photos are particularly wonderful. Thnaks for sharing your trip with us, Jessica

    • Jessica March 21, 2017 at 10:32 pm - Reply

      Thanks Cathy. That’s what makes travel so exciting for me, it’s about exploring and learning about life in another country. In my twenties I would go on holiday for two weeks and lie on a beach all day. What a missed opportunity.

  31. Judith March 22, 2017 at 6:52 am - Reply

    I loved your account of travelling to the Deep North- we made it up to the Daintree last August but no further. I loved tropical Queensland too and would go back tomorrow. Beautifully descriptive writing Jess.

    • Jessica March 22, 2017 at 9:31 pm - Reply

      Thanks Judith. Yes, I would happily go back tomorrow. Tonight had not the plane already left!

  32. Peter Herpst March 22, 2017 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    Such an incredible adventure and that fireworks show – WOW!

    • Jessica March 22, 2017 at 9:32 pm - Reply

      It was spectacular. I don’t suppose I’ll ever see anything like it again.

  33. Tahoe girl March 22, 2017 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    Wow, incredible pictures. I love the fireworks!!!

    • Jessica March 22, 2017 at 9:32 pm - Reply

      A once in a lifetime experience for sure.

  34. Jess March 22, 2017 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    Wow it looks amazing there! The photos of the birds incredible! I’ve never been to Australia, maybe one day? 🙂 xx

    • Jessica March 22, 2017 at 9:46 pm - Reply

      It’s a very long way, but worth every mile!

  35. snowbird March 22, 2017 at 8:23 pm - Reply

    That camel had me smiling! What fantastic pictures, especially of the fireworks. Sadly we missed them, I bet there isn’t a pigeon left in Sydney after a show like that! I totally agree re staying in apartments, we found them to be bigger and better by far than hotels. When we lived in Melbourne, we had a BBQ on the beach at Christmas too…that’s the way to live isn’t it. Looking forward to hearing and seeing

    • Jessica March 22, 2017 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      They’re bigger and better and far more flexible. It was nice to eat when we wanted to, or, more likely, go out and explore all the local eateries. All inclusive is all very well, but then aren’t you tied to the same place for every meal?

  36. Diana Studer March 23, 2017 at 9:51 pm - Reply

    That Woolworths is ours. Related to your Marks and Spencer.
    I also prefer the space and self-catering with washing machine – if it is a longer holiday.
    One more post to read – then I have caught up with you.

    • Jessica March 24, 2017 at 9:13 pm - Reply

      I felt I was becoming a local once I got to know the Woolworths range and was looking for specific things in each new store. Their pistachio and date rolls went with us everywhere, even as emergency supplies for drives into the outback.

  37. pollymacleod April 2, 2017 at 8:55 pm - Reply

    Sorry I’m late. Fantastic photos. The camel made me smile. The olive backed sunbirds are gorgeous. What a great holiday.

    • Jessica April 5, 2017 at 7:44 pm - Reply

      I loved watching the sunbirds. Just hope they survived the cyclone, it must have gone right through there. Such tiny little things! It was awful seeing the damage on the news, having been there so very recently.

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