Posts Tagged ‘Aboriginal Culture’

A trip to Cooktown

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

Finally we could break away from the computer and spend a day exploring this beautiful part of the world. Where to today? Well, we went up to COOKTOWN, the city where Captain Cook’s ship, the Endeavour, came to shore in 1770. It is located around five hours away from Cairns, so we decided to have an early start and enjoy our day in this historical town.

Our first stop of the day was this absolutely gorgeous beach along the way. We don’t know the name of the beach, but it didn’t stop us from leaving the car and taking some photos, so we could share with you the beauty of the beaches of Tropical North Queensland. If you don’t believe me, you only have to have a look at the photos and decide for yourself.

This is Palm Cove, a beach north of Cairns, in Tropical North Queensland. Us in Palm Cove, Tropical North Queensland.

From this beach located north of Cairns, between Cairns and PORT DOUGLAS, we drove all the way to Cooktown, only stopping to take photos in a couple of places we found interesting. One of the them is the BLACK MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK. You can read all the information in the link provided, but here you have a couple of interesting facts. As you can see in the photo, Black Mountain National Park contains an imposing mountain range of massive granite boulders. These formidable boulders, some the size of houses, stack precariously on one another — appearing to defy both gravity and logic. There are many legends about this National Park. Many local stories (but few local records) tell of people, as well as horses and whole mobs of cattle disappearing in the labyrinth of rocks, never to be seen again. Beneath the outer boulders lies a maze of passages and chambers - very appealing to explorers of unusual places and those wishing to hide away from pursuers. In the inky dark interior, sheer drops, pockets of bad air or unexpected encounters with snakes or bats could easily cause disorientation, panic or injury to intruders entering that eerie underworld.

Adding to its mystique, pilots report aircraft turbulence (thermal current) over Black Mountain and, observers record loud bangs (cracking rocks) and mournful cries (wind and water moving deep inside).

Even though there’s always a good scientific explanation for these things, I prefer to believe the legend, I find it much more interesting.

This is the route we took, from Cairns to Cooktown, in Tropical North Queensland. Black Mountain National Park, near Cooktown, Far North Queensland.

Cooktown has many different sites, all of which take you back 200 years, when Europeans first came to Australia. Being Cooktown named after Captain Cook, it’s only logical that there are some monuments dedicated to him, up to six. Also visitors can see the MILBI WALL, which is an impressive collage that the Aboriginal people of Cooktown created to express the significance that the first encounter with Europeans had for them. The wall includes stories from the Dreamtime up to present time, mentioning how a few Aborigines had excelled at sports internationally. The most interesting story for me was that of the Normanby Woman, a white woman who lived with an Aboriginal tribe. When the authorities realised, they captured her to bring her back to the white society, but she died soon afterwards, never returning with the Aboriginal people.

Part of the Milbi Wall, with the beautiful blue Coral See behing, in Cooktown. One of the six monuments of Captain Cook that are in Cooktown, Far North Queensland.

But I had to choose which site impressed me the most, it would definetely be Grassy Hill, where the lighthouse is located. The lighthouse itself is pretty small, but the views of the area from the top of the hill are absolutely sensational. One of the photos is taking pointing to the north and the other pointing to the south, but the spot where we took them from is the same. Amazing, isn’t it?

View of Cooktown from Grassy Hill. Another view of Cooktown from Grassy Hill.

The cemetery is also worth visiting, so much history. The Normanby Woman is buried there, but also there are some Jewish tombs as well as Chinese. Over 300 Chinese were buried in this area between 1873 and 1920. Chinese emigrants fear they might day, never to return to the land of their ancestors. Most of those initially buried here were later exhumed and returned to China.

The three characters on the shrien, written in ancient script, read Tjin Ju Tsai - Respect the dead as if they are present.

Chinese Shrine found on Cooktown's cemetery. Monument to Mary Beatrice Watson, in Cooktown, Far North Queensland.

And the monument next to the Chinese shrine is dedicated to Mary Watson, who died of thirst. In case you cannot see it clearly, it is a fountain. The story of Mary Watson is very sad. While her husband was away “on a business trip”, he was a fisherman, Aborigines from the mainland attacked her house in LIZARD ISLAND. Some of the Chinese servants were killed, but she managed to escape with one of the servants and her little kid. They survived for a while on a boiling tank, but finally they all perised due to the lack of fresh water. And this is the reason why a fountain was erected to commemorate her name.

And after spending the whole day in Cooktown visiting all these different sites and monuments, we thought it was about time to head back to Cairns. But on the way, we still had time to take a photo of this impressive “river of rocks”, as I see it. And the photo next to it is just a nice photo of both of us, from the Grassy Hill.

On the road from Cooktown. Us on top of Grassy Hill, Cooktown.

Tropical fruit wines, and a ruined Spanish castle in the rainforest… who would have expected that?

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

Another day in paradise, but finally, WE ARE IN CAIRNS. It’s been a fantastic day, since we woke up in MISSION BEACH and all the way up to CAIRNS. We have been on the road only for five days since we left Munduberra, but we tell you, guys, it’s been long. And I cannot believe today it is only three weeks since we left Spain. It seems ages ago. But we are having fun, and we’re meeting lots of different and interesting people along the way.After a very early start this morning (no wonder, we went to bed by 10pm), and after saying goodbye to our new friends in Scotty’s Beach House, as you can see in the pic, we decided to visit the MISSION BEACH MARKETS, just right by the beach. It is a shame it was raining quite heavily, but I guess that’s why this part of the world is so green and beautiful. Everywhere we looked there were huge trees, massive plants, etc. Unfortunately, we did not see any Cassowary, although Mission Beach is reknown for its Cassowaries. Although we saw thousands of signs warning drivers about the birds crossing the roads. Well, we’ll be around for a while, so maybe some other time.

Me with one of our new friends, at Scotty's Beach House, Mission Beach..Green tree frog at Scotty's Beach House, Mission Beach.

After visiting some businesses in the area, dropping in to say hello and let them know about CAIRNS UNLIMITED, and paying a visit to the Big Cassowary (another one of those BIG THINGS in Australia) we decided to visit a couple of TROPICAL WINERIES. My Spanish friends will be surprised to know that wine made out of tropical fruit instead of grapes is drinkable, but yes, guys, it is beautiful. In one of the wineries we were offered a tasting, and all of you who have met us know that we could not possibly say no. So we tried a red wine made from Davidson plum, red dragonfruit and mango, a sweet dessert wine made from lychees and a port made out of mmm…we don’t remember! All of them were delicious, I promise you. Steve also tried a dry white made entirely from bananas, but he told me “you wouldn’t like it”. And he drank it all himself.

Enjoying Tropical North Queensland's fruit wines..The Big Cassowary, in Mission Beach.

We had one more stop before Cairns. We had read a lot about an attraction near INNISFAIL which had captured our imagination: Paronella Park. We didn’t know what to expect, but Paronella Park surpassed our expectations. What a beautiful place Jose Paronella, a Spanish inmigrant, built back in the 30’s. I will tell you about it, but you gotta visit it to fully appreciate its beauty. It is just absolutely amazing. We also found the story of Jose Paronella and his family very inspiring. Do you want to know why? He came all the way from Spain looking for his dream (which is what we have basically done ourselves) and started building a castle resembling Spanish and Moroccan architecture. What if I tell you that he, back in Spain, was a baker, and that he built nearly the whole park with his own hands? The story is getting better, isn’t it? What we found inspiring as well is that he went through very difficult times himself but never gave up. Wouldn’t you call three floods and a fire tough times? But he believed in his dream and built a beautiful castle for him and his wife Margarita and their two kids. Here you have a couple of pictures of what the place looks like today, so imagine what it looked like when he built it. Just a funny note, when the place was up and running, Jose had a disco ball in the ball room, one of the only three in Australia at the time.

Beautiful view of the Paronella Park fountain resembling the one at La Alhambra, Granada..Part of the Paronella Park castle.

We also enjoyed a dance performance by the traditional owners of the land, the Baddagun people, which we both really liked. It was the first time I had seen such a dance and I found it very interesting after researching so much about Aboriginal people and their traditions and culture for our ABORIGINAL CULTURE page.

Aboriginal dancing at Paronella Park..Us joining the traditional Aboriginal dancers at Paronella Park.

Although it was abandoned for many years, luckily Judy and Mark bought it a few years ago and they are doing an impressive job to keep Jose’s dream alive. Our thumbs up for them.

And on to our way to CAIRNS.