Sunday, October 6, 2019

A Tropical Spring Carnival of Flowers, and a Bruce Highway Road Trip through Queensland

A long Queensland road trip mostly along the Bruce Highway, not exactly Route 66 but almost, and two weddings and admittedly we are still catching up on sleep in our own bed, bliss. We drove North from Mackay to Cairns in one hit (735 klms), just stopping for drinks and meals and then back to Mackay two weeks later after our daughter Shannon's fairytale wedding. We were home for four days, refreshed and caught up,  and then headed south for another wedding. 

We drove to Maryborough in one stretch (718 klms) from Mackay, with rest and food breaks of course, and stayed overnight in a motel and as this was something of a budget trip, and no restaurant reviews intended on this trip we dined that night at the Maryborough Returned Services Club (RSL). Mr. HRK loved it. He loves a bargain and good food at the best of times, and the RSL didn't disappoint. Of course it was full of locals playing Trivial Pursuit and Keno I think, but the variety of the dishes in the buffet was impressive and delicious at $12.00 a meal and the fast service a perfect fix for weary travellers like us. Of course there was a la carte available if you wanted a good steak and had the time to wait. Red wine was half the price of normal restaurant prices and then the dessert deal was a coffee and dessert for $5.00. I normally don't eat desserts in these situations now, but I couldn't go past the Lemon Meringue Pie, a large slice and absolutely delicious. No photos sorry.  We had smiles all over our faces when we left. It was good to connect with the Maryborough locals as well. It's a shame that RSL Club restaurants seem to be closing down in a lot of towns now. Given it's popularity in Maryborough, they might still have their place.

Interior of the RSL Club Maryborough
 I have a real soft spot for the Returned Services League. When I was just 21, I entered the Queensland Girl in a Million Quest, the main aim of which was to raise money for those serving in the Defence Forces and the Returned Servicemen from the World Wars and there were still quite a few still alive from World War 1 as well.  I  raised a lot of money by Pub Raffles, Cent Sales, cake stalls (yes even back then) and donations and it was a very worthwhile way of helping the less fortunate families affected by the World Wars. It wasn't really a beauty contest but a very worthwhile cause. I won the regional Rockhampton competition and went to Brisbane for the State Finals which was indeed an honour and was televised, and this experience brought me into contact with lots more returned servicemen when I visited  quite a few of the RSL Retirement Homes. It was a very memorable year, before I moved to Brisbane to work and live. Anyway I digress. Mr. HRK and I drove onto Brisbane (259 klms) from Maryborough for a couple of appointments,  and then up to Toowoomba for an overnight stay with Mr. HRK's sister, only 129 klms.

A glimpse of the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers
Back to Brisbane for a beautiful wedding at Northshore Harbour, the same night as Riverfire, and a sail past by a P&O Cruise ship filled with cheering passengers during the pronouncement of the wedding vows was surely a highlight.The next day on Sunday we started the long drive home. An overnight stay in Rockhampton with my brother was a welcome respite and my sister in law Avy, effortlessly created an amazing home cooked meal for us and her visiting grandchildren of baked chicken,  spaghetti bolognaise, baked vegetables and and a delicious salad made with a freshly picked lettuce and beautiful tomatoes from a neighbours garden. She's a chip off the old block when it comes to cooking. My brother and I share a love of all things seafood, thanks to our Mum, and although he didn't have any freshly caught mudcrabs at home and he often does, he had some fresh Crystal Bay prawns from near Cardwell. Early next morning I made us prawn sandwiches, which were delicious for lunch on our way home to Mackay that day. 

For those of you who have no understanding of Queensland distances that totals 3,682  klms we had travelled. Phew, it was great to catch up with so many people, but it's good to be home. I think we might be getting a bit too old for that much road travel, and dear friends are you impressed with how I have managed to weave talk of food into my travels when that wasn't the whole reason for this story.

However what a great way to see our amazing state of Queensland, even though it is so very dry and drought stricken.  I wish more politicians could do such an extensive road trip instead of flying from A to B to really see what is happening in our state.   A lot of people complain about the poor state of the roads along the Bruce Highway,  the main one which connects the south of Queensland to the North, however there seem to be roadworks occurring near every town now which is encouraging. Toowoomba where Mr. HRK grew up, is the driest that he has ever seen it, and yet amazingly their Carnival of Flowers was still spectacular. We came home to our own Spring Tropical Carnival of flowers on a much smaller scale and now I am slowly regaining my gardening mojo. I never really lose my cooking mojo, do you, however it was nice to enjoy some meals cooked by others, and the wedding food was impressive, both in Cairns and Brisbane.

Here are a few photos of my plants and orchids in bloom that we arrived home to and I'll finish with a few from the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers.

These are recently planted annuals and petunias

A Desert Rose growing as a bonsai

A delicate Cattleya

These are some of the lovely  Phalaenopsis orchids in flower. If you would like to know the specific names of them, please contact me and I will be happy to tell you.

Below is a soft cane dendrobium that my gardening friend Anne gave me a couple of years ago.This is the first flower it has produced. So delicate.

More photos of my Dendrobium Aggregatum below just because I love it and I now have two that are flowering.

The stunning pink flowers of the Fraser Island creeper. Pretty as a picture.

Below is the tough and resilient Brazilian Walking Iris. It's leaves walk away from the main plant and put down roots for new plants. A great plant for difficult areas, and sloping ones. It is such a pretty flower but they only seem to last a day. This plant is ideal for mass planting if space allows.

Below, this a beautiful soft cane dendrobium flower which is flowering for the first time on our lychee tree. I thought I had lost it as for most of the year they look as if they are dead. But then they rally and an advanced one is a mass of flowers. Glorious. Dendrobiums are happiest growing on trees.

The ever reliant red Hippeastrum bulbs growing in harmony with rosemary.

So my friends there you have it, our very own carnival of flowers in Mackay. Now we will move up a notch to:

The Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers

Whilst we were in Toowoomba, we managed to visit the Carnival of Flowers with Mr. HRK's sister. This floral spectacular is always beautiful, and I am so appreciative of the hours and hours of work which has gone into making this annual event such an important one for Toowoomba, during dreadful drought conditions. I just love the beauty of the mass planting of annuals which can be achieved in a park.

This blue flowered bush was full of Italian bees and if anyone can tell me it's name I would love to know. Perhaps I can grow it in our backyard, our bees would love it.There wasn't a name label for this one that I could see.

Thomas the Tank Engine was a favourite for the young and not so young. Mr. HRK and I had fun taking a make believe ride on it for a photo  for our little grandson.

If you would like to see some more photos of the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers, Nanna Chel from Toowoomba always does a lovely report on them in her blog Going Grey and Slightly Green

Thanks for dropping by,

Warm wishes



  1. Sounds like you had a great time traveling and visiting relatives.

    Your flowers are so beautiful. I think orchids (and roses) are the hardest to grow, so I’m very impressed to see your orchids. 😊

    I remember Chel at Going Grey and Slightly Green posting about the same flower festival in Toowoomba. 😊

    1. Thanks Nil yes I love my orchids but they aren't as fiddly as people think. LIving in the tropics is an advantage.I want to try roses as well one day.

  2. Wow you've been travelling a lot! That's a lot of kms in one trip. Got to love a quick, no fuss meal when you're travelling a lot.

    1. Oh yes one has to eat and it doesn't always need to be fancy, just satisfying.Thanks Lorraine.

  3. Pauline, I didn't get that new blog post in my blog feed. Strange. Yes the Carnival gardens were beautiful despite the drought. There are currently bushfires burning at Laidley after two very hot days. Enjoy being back home after all that travel.

  4. Oops I just checked and did get notification of your blog post. I must have scrolled too quickly. LOL!

    1. So easy to miss sometimes Chel I know. Thanks for dropping by.Loved being in Toowoomba.


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