Saturday was a wet and rainy day — after a clear window spent at the farmers’ market, I made my way with one of our hosts to the art museums in Brisbane’s Cultural Center to see the rest of the Asian Pacific Triennial. What else do you do on a rainy day?
I thoroughly enjoyed the museums, both the APT7 collection as well as some of the European art that fills one of the GOMA collections. The spaces in these buildings are perfect for huge sculptures as well as intimate artworks. Australia’s Modernists and Impressionists were in thrall to the Europeans for sure, but also doing their own thing. Plus, where else can you see a boomerang collection and native paintings among portraits of Victorian ladies and working Australians?
Sunday was also a wet and rainy day — and we went on an eco-tour. What else do you do on a rainy day?
Our first stop was at a park that contains a tea tree (Melaleuca) swamp, where we saw wallabies and koalas at the Daisy Hill center. Then up into the mountains, to Mt. Tamborine, in hopes of seeing a human-made glow worm cave; however, the rain — it’s been raining here for days — had flooded the cement construct, so we stopped for a local wine tasting instead (conveniently located at the same place).
The rain pounded on the corrugated metal roof above our heads in the barn-sized space, as we sipped, swished and spat reds and whites and fortifies wines. Queensland seems to be attempting to catch up on its wine growing capacity, with young wineries producing small amounts — for now. We bought some bottles, including a muscat that tasted like lychee and flowers.
Our guide at this point was beginning to worry that we would not get off the mountain; the rain might trigger landslides or rising floodwaters that would block our way home. Even so, we stopped at a lovely patch of rainforest and took a walk through trees that were probably 300 to 400 years old. It stopped raining and was just misty at this point, so the trees’ silhouettes hung above us like a black-and-white photo.
Down on the ground, we saw mushrooms, clumps of seeds that looked like tiny grapes from a stinging-nettle tree (tastes like watermelon, our guide said, if it’s ripe and you don’t get one of the stinging needles), giant strangling figs reaching to the sky, huge eucalypts and araucaria, and ended up at a raging waterfall pouring into a creek rising over its banks downstream. Here, and throughout the day, our guide would say something like, “Oh wow, I’ve never seen this much water here!” — and she’s been leading tours in the region for well over a decade (if not several). It’s been wet here in Queensland, the Sunshine State.
Nevertheless, a reassuring call from a local shop owner meant that we didn’t have to get off the mountain. And so on we trundled, to a hilly grassland region that had forest patches where we were likely to see whiptail (or pretty-face) and red-necked wallabies, as well as mobs of eastern gray kangaroos. The rain kept us inside our vehicle, which probably was good for the animals. Even so, we got great close-ups. We probably spent over an hour driving around what is slowly becoming a suburban neighborhood, snapping photos from the van of these creatures, which stopped to look at us, kept eating grass, or bounded away, depending on the mood of the group.
And finally, exhausted, we headed back home to Brisbane as the sun started to set, and patches of blue sky began to appear. Today, after rain showers all night and morning, and yes, even one short two-minute midafternoon downpour, I see blue sky out the office windows, as I sit here trying to work. What else do you do on a sunny day?