Tag Archives: Captain Cook

Akaroa: a bit of French magic in New Zealand

My previous post was of Fisherman’s Bay Garden, just 20 minutes away from the pretty coastal town of Akaroa, on the south island of New Zealand.

Akaroa is the Ngai Tahu word for Long Harbour.  The Maori, who were the first to occupy this Bay, took advantage of the abundant supply of “food from the forests, seas, river, and skies”.

No wonder the British explorer, Captain Cook, when he had circumnavigated both islands, sent word back to England that he had ”found Paradise”.

During our holiday in New Zealand we were charmed in every way….not only was the weather perfect, but our B&B was set in a beautiful garden.

The volcanic soil and plentiful rain makes gardening look easy in New Zealand. ( As you can see I have garden envy!)

In this bucolic environment the morning began with a slow walk through the green lush garden, and then a stroll down the hill to the coffee shop.

In 1838 a French whaler Captain Jean Francois L’Anglois was so impressed with Akaroa Bay that he  made a provisional purchase of the land in the Banks Peninsula from the local Maori.

However, by the time the French settlers arrived in 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi between the British Crown and the Maori chiefs had been signed.

However, the French still established a settlement with 60 French immigrants and the descendants of these original French settlers are still in New Zealand.

Today Akaroa is seen as both a historic French and British settlement.

The small French community has had an immense influence on wine and other imports from France.

 

 

 

One of my favourite buildings ..the Coronation Library.

We watched children (and young adults) jumping off the pier to swim…what an idyllic way for children to grow up!

Our B&B host had told us that the butcher sold very tasty baguettes at lunch time, and she was right!

Every day we bought some baguettes overflowing with cheeses, ham, salad, local pickles, and chutneys …we sat under the trees near the town square, and watched the boats coming in and out of the bay.

In the town square was a sculpture of a French artist and well known engraver, Charles Meryon whose later work in Paris reflects the influence of his stay in New Zealand.

Sculpture of French artist Charles Meryon

On our last evening we sat in the garden of a restaurant called Mandala, which had Pacific Indian and Asian fusion food..

After a delicious meal we walked around the beautiful bay..needless to say, I took more photos than I could ever use!

The combination of seeing the Fisherman’s Bay garden, and staying in Akaroa made this a very special place.

When we arrived back in Australia we faced a long summer of bushfires and unpredictable weather. (now coming to an end, hopefully)

It has been a lovely distraction looking through these photos, and Akaroa will always have a special place in my heart.

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Far North Queensland, Melaleuca Trees in Palm Cove

On a cold June morning, we flew out of  Canberra, and four hours later we landed in a very different Australian city, Cairns, in Far North Queensland.

Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, and the Daintree Forests, part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage area.

Despite its international airport and city status, Cairns has lost none of its original laid-back Queensland character.

view of the cane fields and the mountain range as we drive from Cairns airport to Palm Cove

Driving from the airport there are cane farms on either side of the road, and some original old Queensland houses dotted around the countryside.

We are heading just a short distance away to our favourite spot, Palm Cove…where the winter temperatures at this time of the year are around 14 degrees to 26 degrees.

…let’s just keep that a secret…

We have been visiting Palm Cove with our family for about twenty years.

When our children were young, you could take camel rides along the beach, and an old hippie had a little wooden stand where you could have a foot massage…..those were the days!

In  the colder southern states of Australia, the gardens and parks have died back for the winter, so it is almost like sensory overload seeing the glorious colourful flowers and shrubs that seem to grow anywhere and everywhere…

 

 

 

 

However, Palm Cove’s signature for me, are the most incredible Paperbark Melaleuca trees.

The trunk of the tree is layered with papery bark, which is in a continuous process of peeling and replacing. In a monsoonal tropical climate like Palm Cove, this discourages parasites from getting a hold on the tree.

(It is also very hard to pass a tree and resist peeling a fine layer of bark as you go.)

Tea tree oil is distilled from the fresh leaves and twigs of the Melaleuca, and come to think of it, this is probably what the hippie used, all those years ago, for his foot massages.

These distinctive Melaleucas were here when Captain James Cook sailed his ship, the Endeavour, within three leagues of the Palm Cove foreshore on 10 June 1770….some of the species are reported to be over 400 years old.

It is said that Captain Cook tried using the oil from the leaves to make tea, as a possible way of preventing scurvy.

The beauty of the Paperbark Melaleucas in Palm Cove is the seamless way the buildings, paths and people fit around the trees.

I have read that the local council regulated, many years ago, that buildings in Palm Cove could not be built higher than the Melaleucas…what a visionary decision!

Palm Cove will never be one of the many beaches lined by generic high rise buildings, all looking exactly the same.

Rainbow lorikeets, the busy noisy local parrots in this area, are regular visitors to the trees, as are honey eaters, sunbirds, fruit bats, native bees and many other species that feed on the Paperbark trees.

My apologies, I couldn’t find a Rainbow Lorikeet in Palm Cove the day of taking photos, so  I had to borrow a busy Lorikeet from a trip we did to Sydney’s Centennial Park. This Lorikeet is feeding on equally striking flowers from a tree called Cape Tulip Red, originally from Africa, but also very common in the warmer parts of Australia.

The camels and hippies have gone, but, thank goodness some things stay the same, Pete’s Place, with the best fish and chips in Palm Cove.

Barramundi is a locally caught fish here, and is absolutely out of this world….may it never change.  I haven’t got a photo of any of our fish and chip meals because they were eaten so fast!

….and, I need never feel too far away from home, because one of the noisiest cockatoos I’ve ever heard, is nesting just across the way from our balcony

…well, if you can’t find an almond tree in Canberra, then a Paperbark Melaleuca tree is a pretty good second…

Not even a cockatoo winging in like a Boeing 747 could ruin an evening walk on Palm Cove beach.

I hope you are enjoying your good fortune if it is summer in your part of the world, and if you are in the middle of winter, as Monty Don says, make it a restorative time.

In my next post Paul and I will go on a bird watching tour in Port Douglas…

 

Copyright:Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sydney’s Hyde Park…shade, rest and music!

Can a city ever have too much greenery?

We recently spent time in Sydney with my Scottish cousins….

It was nice to take the time and see the city centre through tourists’ eyes

Captain Cook, born in Yorkshire, landed in Australia in 1770…..what a contrast to the city we see today..

We walked through Hyde Park every day, and we were grateful to have these enormous trees giving us so much shade in Sydney’s hot summer.

Jane Jose in her book Places Women Make says… liveability means being able to walk to a park, near where you live, have shady trees and seating and ”accidental connectedness” to your neighbourhood or city…. 

an early morning yoga class..

This part of Hyde Park is very familiar to me as I came here every day when I first arrived in Sydney, from Africa, aged 19. I sat in the park and waited for my brother to finish work. (my two brothers were the only people I knew in Australia at that time.)

The park gave me a connection with people,  and I began to feel part of the city.

The Domain is near Hyde Park, and has some great playing fields for groups to use at lunch time in the city…

I love this sign, ”A place for people” …what a great reminder for all big cities!!

The flowers boxes in the city this summer are wonderful, and I have never seen parsley used so well in a flower bed…

Most of all I love buskers and music in the city….I always give some money to someone who is providing music….it is the food of life!

I’ll end with another beautiful, but exhausting city, Rome…we were there in May last year.

 

Even a glorious city like Rome can become too much, and one day we found this wonderful park. We sat in the shade of some big trees and listened to a busker playing the trumpet

soft melodious jazz never sounded so good …I can hear that music as I write…

Do you have a favourite park in your part of the world?