Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Castle Hill is a huge pink granite monolith standing in the heart of the north Queensland city of Townsville. It rises to a height of 286 metres above sea level and dominates the skyline of this relatively low level city which is built on the coastal plain between the Great Dividing Range and the sea.

A striking anomaly in Townsville's mostly flat landscape, Castle Hill means many things to many people. It's where locals bring visiting relatives to point out the beaches, islands, icons and landmarks.

Many people walk up Castle Hill for regular exercise. There are many different routes to the top, by road or by goat track. A large white stick figure with a halo nicknamed by locals as 'the Saint' can be spotted painted on the sheer east face of the hill. 'The Saint' is a recognized icon of Townsville. The east face is composed of decomposing granite which has proven too crumbly to provide reliable anchors and has thus thwarted several climbing attempts over the years.

I walk up Castle Hill twice a week and it is one of my favourite place in Townsville. It looks magnificent as the whole city can be seen from the top of the Castle Hill. During daylight it has a different beauty and at night it looks gorgeous with thousands of glittering lights.

The hill has been the backdrop for the region's record-breaking real estate deals and is a fitness and training ground for the North's soldiers, would-be Kokoda Track pilgrims, the sporting elite and everyday people simply enjoying a walk or jog.

The massive monolith is close to 300m high. That's 997 feet in the imperial system, just three feet short of a mountain.

Visiting American soldiers used the hill as a lookout point during World War II, and an observation bunker remains on one corner at the top.

The Townsville Road Runners' King and Queen of the Castle race have been held on Castle Hill Road since 2001. Before that it was run on the Goat Track.

Townsville Mayor Les Tyrell said it was hard to imagine Townsville without Castle Hill. He said that as the dominant feature on the landscape, it's a daily presence for many of us. Increasingly, it's also the part of people's back yards as more and more houses have been built along Castle Hill, and of course for some, the day is not complete without a walk or run up Castle Hill.

Castle hill is loved as an icon because it offers so many different meanings, from its aboriginal heritage to the role it played during World War II, to the recreational opportunities it offers.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


1. The Box Jellyfish

One of the most extremely lethal animals in the world, and implicitly Australian, often found on the continent and on the coast alongside the Great Barrier Reef. The box jellyfish possesses an extremely powerful venom. The stings are terribly painful and often fatal. It is compulsory to include a bottle of vinegar in the first aid kit if we travel in areas abound with these jellyfish. Vinegar should be applied for 30 seconds to the sting, then removing the tentacles with a towel, will reduce the damage. But medical attention is very essential as soon as possible.

2. The Taipan

The taipan is a large, fast and highly venomous snake often found throughout Australia. The taipan has the most toxic venom out of all the species worldwide, has a dark brown color and is often found in sugar fields where it hunts for rats. The snake is usually found in the far north of Australia, in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, where the winter is mild. Taipan’s usually stay away from people but once cornered or threatened, they strike several times.

3.Saltwater Crocodile

The largest living member, the saltwater crocodile can grow up to 18 feet (5.45 meters) in length and is found in Northern Australia. They have been known to take on animals such an adult water buffalo and have often attacked people. It is usually well camouflaged both underwater or on dry land and strikes at an amazing speed. Its most powerful attack - the death roll - consists of grabbing its prey and rolling powerfully until it dies.

4. Blue Ring Octopus

Another serious threat for those who wish to explore the water of Australia is the blue-ringed octopus - one of the most toxic sea creatures in the world found off the coast of Australia. Even though the octopus is only the size of a golf ball, there is no known antidote for its powerful venom. It causes motor paralysis, eventually leading to cardiac arrest. First aid treatment consists of pressure on the wound and mouth-to-mouth breathing that can last for several hours.

5. Stone Fish

Stone fish is Known as the most venomous fish in the world. The stone fish lives on the bottom of the reefs, camouflaged as a rock. It lives above the Tropic of Capricorn but can be found in the Queensland Great Barrier Reef as well. It’s venom comes from the dorsal area, that is lined with 13 spines, causing shock, paralysis and tissue death depending on the severity of the sting. First aid consists of immobilizing the venom by bandaging the affected area then applying a hot compress. The pain is said to be so excruciating that it lead to amputating the affected limb.

6. Red Back Spider

This species is found all over the continent and it is Australia’s most famous deadly spider. The red striped spider has a neurotic venom that induces severe pain, however, deaths are rare. Thousands of people were bitten but only approximately 20% of the victims required treatment. Generally, the children and the elderly are the most exposed to the spider’s threat. This is one of the few spider species that displays sexual cannibalism while mating.

Brown Snake

There are several types of brown snakes but the Pseudonaja is the genus commonly found in Australia known as one of Australia’s most deadly creatures. The brown snake has a venom which quickly kills if it goes untreated. Even young snakes are capable of delivering a fatal bite to humans.

8. Tiger Snake

The tiger snake is another venomous snakes found in Australia, particularly in the southern regions. The striped snakes are not generally aggressive and retreat whenever they have the chance. The tiger snake is known as one of the deadliest snakes in the world. Although anti-venom is readily available, mortality rates are around 45% if the bite is left untreated. In most states, the species is protected and any harming or injuring lead to a fine of up to $4,000.

9. Great White Shark

Great white shark is exceptionally large shark known as the white death,world’s largest known predatory fish. They can be found in great numbers on the southern coasts of Australia and even though they have often been depicted as fatal to humans, they do not target them as a prey. Many of the attacks are not fatal, the shark only performs test-biting, out of curiosity. Humans are not a good meal, considering the shark’s slow digestion compared to the human’s muscle to fat ratio.

Funnel Web Spider

The darkly coloured spiders resembling tarantulas have fangs and chelicerae with ample venom glands, that can even penetrate fingernails or shoes. They can be found in the eastern coast of Australia, New South Wales, Victoria or Queensland. First aid consists of applying a bandage and wrapping the bitten limb. As with other spiders, the main treatment is the anti-venom.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Paluma Range National Park is at the southern end of the World Heritage Wet Tropics. Although this area was settled approximately 120 years ago, its scenic beauty ensured its national park status. Today, Paluma Range National Park and the mountain settlements of Paluma are popular retreats which have never been exploited or overdeveloped. I have visited Paluma twice and the journey was absolutely fantastic. Paluma is situated about 60 Km North of Townsville, the Mt Spec Road leaves the Bruce Highway and turns inland towards the beautiful mountains of the Paluma Ranges. Separating the National Park from the Mt Spec State Forest, this scenic road is a monument to human effort as it was built mostly by hand during the 1930’s Great Depression.

Along the winding mountain road can be found examples of original stonework and ingenuity, the most popular of which is the photogenic stone bridge over Little Crystal Creek 7 Km from the bottom of the range. This historical arch was the first of its kind in Queensland and spans the icy cold crystal clear water rushing down the gorge. It is a very cool, calm and quiet place and the best place to relax. The clear pools, huge granite boulders and lush rainforest vegetation makes Little Crystal Creek the best swimming hole in Townsville and a popular stopover on the way up to the village of Paluma. Walking tracks, some of which provide stunning views, wind through the National Park and State Forest surrounding Paluma.

A municipal 24 hours rest area exists in Paluma, with extended camping available at Lake Paluma. Lake Paluma is a unique water storage facility situated near Mt Spec, high above the Paluma Range National Park. The Lake is a drinking water storage owned by North Queensland Water and offers unique opportunities for day visitors and campers to spend time in a biologically diverse environment.

Continuing west from Paluma, magnificent stands of eucalypts gradually replace the rainforest. The ecotone contains habitat types and species of animals that are now considered uncommon. As the elevation drops into Hidden Valley, the climate becomes warmer and drier, with the vegetation changing to what is traditionally thought of as the Australian ‘bush’.

I stayed in both Mt Spec Cottage and Fatima Cottage, a comfortable home style, fully self-contained accommodation. The picturesque gardens merge beautifully with the surrounding Rainforest and the quaint atmosphere of the Historical Cottage and large verandah added a serene ambience to the fresh, healthy home-made food. Staying in the lovely cottages was a special experience in harmony with the magnificent environment and birdlife.

The four types of seasons can be experienced in Paluma Rainforest where summer temperatures may be ten degrees cooler than Townsville.

Paluma Rainforest is a very beautiful place and visiting once will not be enough I am sure. I enjoyed very much and it was a wonderful trip.

Monday, June 15, 2009


It is quite interesting to observe that despite an aggressive growth in electronic media and the availability of different kinds of e-learning facilities, more and more people are attracted to the practice of reading printed materials.

Print media will continue to thrive despite the challenge of e-papers.

In my opinion, reading of printed material gives us the natural way of learning and enjoyment, by all means.

Reading is a nature. It has the power of conversation, eagerness and more than that, the best way to spend our valuable time.

In the recent past, the Harry Potter books were demanding ones among the children
. It shows how much the kids were embraced to the habit of reading. This trend has helped to develop a continuous reading habit among youngsters, especially school-going children, I believe. Not only that, the demand for Harry Potter books was also a key evidence to show how books have become friends to many children throughout the world. Books are also true teachers to learn and behave as well.

Obviously, it is very important to develop a reading habit among the children, perhaps right from the very beginning of their joining school. The habit of reading would help children to enhance their understanding power and feelings. Even reading some of the categorized books help them to develop creativity and resulting vibrant responses. Book reading also help to enhance memory power and children tend to retain their interesting subjects well secured in the backup memory.

There are encyclopedias available exclusively written to benefit the children
. Reading encyclopedias gives multiple outputs, especially for the younger generation. Perhaps reading of encyclopedia would also help developing a life-long reading habit among children. The habit of reading is like listening to our own pace.

We should encourage the children to read newspapers and periodicals regularly, which will help them reduce their time, spend on video-games and watching television programmes, which do not give them enough in return. They should feel that the habit of reading is a wonderful hobby and an inspiring experience in the school of learning. Reading newspaper is one of the best ways to understand the world and the language as well. It gives immense pleasure and excitement as we flip through the pages. Of course the type of books we read depends on one’s attitude and personality.

Books are also an ideal travel companion. Reading of a good book whilst travelling is one of the best hobbies, I would say. It helps to understand the value of time and to know how to make use of it at its best.

Knowledge is an endless topic, and reading is one of the best ways to enhance the power of knowledge; so there should be no full-stop to the habit of reading as reading helps to grow well.

It is an acceptable fact that the demand for print media is on the rise in recent times, which is a positive sign of attracting more people to the habit of reading. There are many free publications available in the market today and plenty to read as well.

There is nothing better than holding a newspaper with its smell of newsprint and reading it

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Charters Towers is situated just 90 minutes south-west of Townsville. It is a scenic gold mining city that’s big on history and character.

From a chance discovery of gold in 1872 by a young Aboriginal horse boy, Charters Towers soon turned into a bustling metropolis, which in its heyday boasted being the second largest city in Queensland.

So large was Charters Towers to become, that’s at the height of the gold rush the town included 11 crushing mills, 65 hotels and one of the very best regional Stock Exchanges in Australia, which still stands proudly at the intersection of Gill and Mossman streets.

During the last weekend, I have visited Charters Towers with my husband and was mesmerized to see the magnificent heritage buildings. We first stopped at the Visitors Information Centre on Mossman Street, housed in what was once the Union Bank, built in 1880, and staffed with local volunteers who guided us the sights of interest and helped with accommodation ranging from hotels to motels, caravan parks and budget accommodation.

We walked the One Square Mile, a comfortable stroll which takes in the best of the city’s heritage listed architecture, like the World Theatre, City Hall and the Post Office. There were lots of tourists from other countries also who explored the rich heritage of Charters Towers.

Although mining continues to be an important part of life in Charters Towers, the old fashioned crushers have long laid silent. But links to the glory days of mining can still be explored which includes a trip to Australia’s largest surviving battery relic, the Venus Gold Battery which is located on the outskirts of the city and offers an insight into the city’s incredible real life gold rush of the late 19th century. The battery is of national cultural significance and the largest surviving battery relic in Australia and oldest surviving battery in Queensland. Constructed in 1872, it was a public or custom mill in its heyday and became a State Battery in 1919 to provide one crushing facilities for small miners long after other mills had closed. It ceased commercial operations in 1973 after a century of service. We had a wonderful experience of visiting the Venus Battery.

We also visited the Lissner Park and the Museum. Lissner Park is a seven hectare reserve that was first gazetted for public recreation purposes in 1883. It was the city’s first initiative to compensate for the impact of mining. The park is almost rectangular and bordered by Anne, Church, Deane and Plummer streets.

Charters Towers is such a wonderful place to visit that we are already planning our next trip back. Charters Towers is a city with a big past.