Follow my journey as I embark on an adventure to serve as a pilot with Mission Aviation Fellowship. I am currently based in Mareeba, QLD, Australia.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Douglas Track

I had a free Saturday afternoon and an urge to go for a bush walk, so decided to go to Speewah and explore one of the tracks a bit further.

The Douglas Track links Speewah (just north of Kuranda) with Cairns at Stoney Creek. The information sign said it was just under 8 km long and would take 4-6 hrs one way. I think it took me about 6 hrs return, including a 30 minute lunch stop at Glacier Rock.

It would seem lots of people from Cairns walk up this track to Glacier Rock and then back down, which explains why there have always been people there when I've been there but seen hardly anyone on the track.

At some point in the future I'm planning to go down the Douglas Track and up the Smith Track - about 18 km round trip.

Anyway, here are some photos!

The tree at the Glacier Rock lookout provided some shelter from a brief rain shower

Passing power pylons coming down Red Bluff.
Reminded me a little of Belmont Regional Park...

Steps down to the Kuranda railway overpass

Big shady tree

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Inspirations from Isaiah

The book of Isaiah is one of my favourites, and I've been reading through it over the last couple of months as part of my daily Bible reading. For some time now a friend and I have been sharing Scriptures with one another that we have found encouraging, so the following is a list of passages that have emerged out of that, with my thoughts on them.

11 April

Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he? (Isa 2:22)

Reflecting on an opinion piece I read on a news site last week where the writer was saying “together we can beat Covid”. As if anything could be overcome by human effort with no thought of God or acknowledgement of His power. Have I been guilty of thinking if I trust in the health authorities’ guidelines I will be safe, rather than trusting God?

15 April

The Lord spoke to me with His strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people. He said: “Do not call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, He is the one you are to fear, He is the one you are to dread, and He will be a sanctuary..." (Isa 8:11-14a)

Isaiah needed to be reminded of the perspective he should have on the fearful events in his day. Today people have all sorts of ideas on how ‘we are going to beat Covid’ but our focus must be on God. The bigger God is in our lives the smaller our fears will become.

26 April

He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure. (Isa 33:6)

Heaps of things here!
1) God is the sure foundation, not just a sure foundation. The only one. I am so glad I have built my life upon Him. I need to keep continuing to do that.
2) He is a sure foundation. One that cannot be cracked or shaken, one that is completely dependable.
3) for your times: especially now in the current uncertainty, which if I'm honest is getting to me at times.
4) a rich store of salvation. If all I have in this life is sure hope of eternity, then I have all that I need.
5) and wisdom. God promises to give us wisdom if we ask for it (Jas 1:5).
6) and knowledge. God knows the future and I need to rest in that whether He reveals any of it to me ahead of time or not.
7) The fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure. Everything keeps coming back to this.

2 May

Isa 40. Lots of encouraging verses here.

"The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever." (Isa 40:7-8)
The eternal nature of God vs the temporary nature of the world.

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who has understood the mind of the Lord, or instructed Him as His counsellor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten Him, and who taught Him the right way? Who was it that taught Him knowledge or showed Him the path of understanding?
Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than He blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff. (Isa 40:12-14, 21-24)
God is greater than all things and in control of all things because He created all things.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no-one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isa 40:28-31)
We are weak and our strength is limited. God is all-powerful. v31 of course is my favourite Bible verse... A good reminder to keep hoping and trusting in God.

3 May

But you, O Israel, My servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham My friend, I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, “You are My servant”; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isa 41:8-10)

The context is for Israel, but we are also spiritual descendants of Abraham, chosen by God and called to serve Him. Because He has chosen us, He will always be with us and will help and strengthen us. We don’t need to be afraid.

5 May

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making away in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (Isa 43:18-19)

Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. (Isa 46:9)

There is no contradiction here. Some things from the past we are to forget - the pain and suffering and the things God has taken away. Some things we are to remember - God’s faithfulness to us and His unchanging nature.
I find comfort in the first one that in the midst of loss God is doing a new thing and causing it to spring up out of the ashes of destruction. Where we can’t see any hope for the future, God tells us, “Hey, watch this...”

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Mt Emerald and Torpedo Bay

This weekend I thought I'd go for a walk closer to home (since we're not supposed to travel more than 50 km from our place of residence). I'd come across a description of a track up Mt Emerald, a hill behind the airport where a wind farm has been built in the last couple of years. However there was a question mark over whether the track is still publicly accessible, since most of the information I found online is more than 5 years old.

The Tablelands walking trail brochure that I picked up gave GPS co-ordinates for the start of the track. This is what I found when I got there:

GPS co-ordinates

No public access :(

Still determined to go for a walk, I pondered my options. Lake Tinaroo is just under 50 km from Mareeba, and I had read about the Torpedo Bay walk that supposedly has good views over the lake. Even better, it was described as a loop which could be done in about 2 hrs.

The site above says there are signs at each entrance to the walk. Apart from the visitor information about the Danbulla Road (about 1 km from the dam), which didn't have any info about the Torpedo Bay walk, I didn't see any.

Oh and the 'loop' walk has you walking along the road for about 1.2 km any way you slice it. Thankfully it's not a busy road, but still... not ideal.

So I can tick this walk off my list, but it's not one I'd rave about. For a 2 hr lake walk I'd prefer Lake Barrine, or for a hill climb the Baldy/Yabi circuit. My favourite walk on the Tablelands so far is still Kahlpahlim Rock (5-6 hrs).

View of the lake from the boulders

The track was relatively easy to follow but markings were few and far between

Another view of the lake, the town and the dam.
Not quite what I was expecting in terms of a view of the lake...

Monday, 4 May 2020

Time for more critters

Here are some more photos of various birds and insects I've seen over the last couple of months...

Two peaceful doves in Cairns

Eastern yellow robin (the FNQ variety has a yellow rump).
Unfortunately you can't see the bright yellow tummy in this photo!

Common eggfly butterfly (seen on the way to Georgetown)

Huge mantis of some sort - about 12 cm long

Millipede (about 4 cm long)

Amazing St Andrews Cross spider

Saturday, 25 April 2020

COVID and culture shock

Here's an interesting and encouraging video I was forwarded this week: "Culture shock: Why everyone's feeling it, and how to cope."

An important part of missionary training is understanding the causes and symptoms of culture shock and how to cope with it.There are a number of parallels between this and the current global situation with COVID-19:
- a sudden culture change: differences in how we live, communicate, greet others, work etc.
- disconnections between our expectations and reality (e.g. being able to buy what we want from the supermarket)
- feeling incompetent about navigating the new world
- a sense of grief at things we have lost from our 'old life'

Things we can do to help ourselves cope:
- Be realistic about your expectations. Navigating a new world is exhausting. Most people in culture shock might only be able to function at 60% of their 'normal' capacity. Tell yourself it's ok if you don't get as much done today as you were hoping to.
- Realise that everyone is in the same situation and extend grace to them.
- Keep some sense of normalcy, e.g. meal times, family activities.
- Maintain a daily rhythm, e.g. if working from home, start and stop at the same time, get dressed, set aside a work space. Set aside time for prayer and Bible reading, exercise.
- Don't feel bad about withdrawing to a place that feels normal e.g. watching a favourite movie.
- Be aware that it won't be the big things that get to you, but the little things.
- Think of things you can be thankful for.
- Remember that with time, you will adjust. You will feel more competent and resilient.
- Remember that all disasters come to an end eventually.

Friday, 24 April 2020

Bare Hill rock art (Bunda Dibandji)

I was keen to go for a walk today, so headed to Davies Creek national park to do the Turtle Rock circuit. However the track starts and ends at the upper campsites, which are currently closed because of COVID-19 restrictions. I'm not sure if the closure only applies to camping, or to day walks as well, but I decided to obey the signage and not go up - Turtle Rock will still be there in the future.

On my way back out I passed the mountain bike park (which is open), and directly opposite was a 4wd track that I'd seen before when I did the Kahlpahlim Rock track. It had a sign saying 'Rock art site 5.2 km'. I wasn't about to take my car on the track, but figured I was here and 5.2 km wasn't too far to walk. I hadn't heard of any rock art sites near Mareeba, so it sounded like something different to go and explore.

After the 5.2 km along the 4wd track there was an information board and a sign for a walking track that goes up to the galleries. All up it took me about 1.5 hrs each way; I had lunch at the galleries.

The parks service had recently done a controlled burn

Steps up to the rock art galleries

Rock art

The track runs next to Bridle Creek for some distance

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Hidden gems

Yesterday I went for a short* 1 hr drive to do a couple of shorter and lesser known walks between Atherton and Ravenshoe**:
- Big Millstream Falls
- Little Millstream Falls
- Mt Hypipamee crater (actually a diatreme)

* Keeping local, you see... but it's all relative in FNQ!
** Pronounced 'Ray-vens-ho' (not 'Ray-ven-shoo')

Big Millstream Falls. Apparently the widest single-drop waterfall in Australia.

The Hitchins 'happened' to be walking at the same time

Little Millstream Falls, viewed from above

Little Millstream Falls - a hidden gem!

The Hitchins having fun with a rope swing over the deep water hole

Mt Hypipamee crater - 60 m across, 58 m straight down, 73 m deep, and very impressive!

Part of Dinner Falls, also at Mt Hypipamee