Australia Diaries – Never Stop Exploring – Mt Ngungun/Strawberry Farm

Another day another hike. Not contended with Lamington National Park and on the suggestion of a friend staying in Brisbane, we went to the Glass House Mountain to climb Mt Ngungun. Mt Ngungun at just 253 m is one of the many weird looking mountain there.

The hike up to the summit is via a very well maintained track with some steps carved in. Good for trail running! It is an easy hike up among thick lush vegetation until the very top where it opened up to a small bald patch of uneven rock fall.

And this comes with stunning 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

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Australia Diaries – Brisbane Botanic Garden & Mt Cootha

Another must visit place on my oversea visits is the Botanic Garden in that county. Brisbane has 2 main botanic garden , the City Botanic Garden which is actually within walking distance of where we were staying but we choose the Brisbane Botanic Garden because it was on our way to Mt Cootha.

The Brisbane Botanic Garden is a 56 hectare garden opened in 1976 located in Toowong, a 15 minutes drive from the city. Upon entering the place, the main attraction seems to be a big pond where we sighted a few species of water birds like the Purple Swamp Hen, Pacific Black Duck and Euraisan Coots.

Like most garden world wide, it is divided into different theme areas like the Cactus House, Japanese Garden, Rainforest, etc

But because we came after in the afternoon after our trip to Mt Cootha, we had little time to look at the plants and instead spent the time “birding”. Apart from the water birds, we saw a flock of Bush Stone Curlew, a rare bird in all of Australia but doing well in urban Brisbane. We also has our first encounter of a Masked Lapwing which started to react fiercely when we approached. I think it has a nest somewhere. We also saw a Brush Turkey and of course many small garden birds.

A nice little place to while away the time and explore artificial nature if one is not so incline to go to the nature reserve.

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Sungei Tampines

Sungei Tampines used to be a bare concrete canal or storm rain as the authorities called it. This was how it looked like in 2012.

Then the Public Utilities Board’s ABC program came and Sungei Tampines was transformed into a beautiful little “river”.

But then recently I noticed something strange. The creepers on the fair bank (photo left) has been removed leaving the bare concrete bank again. I was shocked!

I promptly send off a query via the One Singapore app and a few days later, someone from the PUB contacted me to explain the reason. And my suspicion was correct. The cause was this.

Stink Bug! There seems to be a major infestation of them. I first spotted them sometime late last year and recently in February noticed that they were all over the railings. In fact, I actually reported this via the One Singapore App as well. 

The eggs are everywhere. On the plants and on the railings.

So I supposed its inevitably that the authorities took the easy way out and remove the source of the infestation which they claimed is the creepers. And they have informed that they are planting new slower growing creepers as a replacement although I yet to see them.  Oh well, I suppose I just have to wait……….

Singapore Garden Festival 2016

The Singapore Garden Festival this year is bigger and dare I say more interesting than ever. Held at the Garden by the Bay and at the Flower Dome, this year’s exhibition came with some surprises. Gone was the Bonsai exhibit replaced by a new Terrarium display.DSC00505

s usual there was the usual how to have plants display in the house and this particular display of plant in the bedroom caught my attention. Much as I think it looks ermmm interesting, I don’t think any sane minded people will want their bedroom looking like this.DSC00510

This year beside the usual garden display, both indoor and outdoor, there was a new display on flower arrangement. Gone are the usual table top flower arrangement. Instead these are large displays focusing on 3 themes one of which was flowers on dress! Seriously? Now which lady will want to wear a dress like that?DSC00526

There were some majestic flower arrangement though. Interesting conversation starters perhaps and maybe good for large trade show and conventions but certainly otherwise not very practical.

Stretching Time by Natasha Lisita & Daniel Schultz (USA)

Stretching Time by Natasha Lisita & Daniel Schultz (USA)

Floating Movements by Nicholaus Peters (Germany)

Floating Movements by Nicholaus Peters (Germany)

Floating Window into our Inner Space by Marie Bittnerova (Czech Republic)

Floating Window into our Inner Space by Marie Bittnerova (Czech Republic)

For the Garden display, I prefer the outdoor display which is more practical and realistic compared to the weird and dark looking indoor garden display.DSC00537


2 of the indoor garden display. Nice and interesting concept but not very practical and useful in my opinion.

Modern Day Maui Adam Shuter New Zealand

Modern Day Maui Adam Shuter New Zealand

Dare to Dream John Tan & Raymond Toh Singapore

Dare to Dream John Tan & Raymond Toh Singapore

And of course all over the grounds of the Garden by the Bay, there are interesting display and flowers and plants which is why I supposed Nparks have decided this is the de facto place to hold the show in recent years despite our unpredictable weather.DSC00578



And of course last and not least is the Orchid show and competition. Again, the orchid are displayed in the small little area in the Flower Dome which kinda reduce the number of competitions. In the past edition I remember there were various categories of competition from schools to clubs to individual but now the competition is just reduced to the individual species. And due to the restricted area, the public has to queue and move along fast which means little time to appreciate the nicer specimens. What a pity. Here are some photos of the orchids. .

New Zealand Day 2 Auckland Botanic Gardens

On the second day of our trip to New Zealand, we went to the Auckland Botanic Gardens. This makes it the 3rd Botanic Gardens that we have visited on our travel, the first one being the Glasgow Botanic Garden and the second one being the Edinburgh Botanic Garden.

The Auckland Botanic Gardens is a 64 hectares garden with different theme areas and a 10 hectares of native forest. Unfortunately our time only allowed us to visit a small area so we went straight to the Rose Garden where we saw many many many different color roses.14-20151111_111627

There are also many other colorful flowers and plants much more than what we have in Singapore. Here are just some of them.07-DSC03484 06-DSC03476 37-DSC03572 31-DSC03560

Beside flowers, there are plants such as ferns, cactus, palms and many interesting looking species43-DSC03596 57-DSC03637 60-DSC0365102-DSC03648

And of course where there are plants and flowers, there are birds. With my travel lens I was not able to take many of the birds but was still able to shoot a few quite decent bird photos.17-DSC03523





It would have been nice if we have more time there what with the nice weather but unfortunately being on a travel and with many places to cover, time is a luxury and we had to go on to our next place….

More photos here

New Zealand Day 1 – Mt Hobson Auckland

Most tourist goes to the main place of interest in a country. We started our trip to New Zealand with a short hike up to Mt Hobson. Huh Mt what? Where is it?

One will be hard pressed to find Mt Hobson in any of the tourist literature for NZ but for us, it was a stone throw away from our host place in Auckland and with some time to kill before dinner, we had to of course explore it.


Mt Hobson is actually a volcano but standing at 143 metres, it is very accessible. But of course the volcano is long gone and what is left now is a beautiful hill with panoramic view of the Auckland town and the Hobson Bay.22-DSC03394

There are beautiful wild flowers 08-DSC03361 27-DSC03410

And nice shady trails 02-DSC03360

A walk through the whole place takes approximately about an hour including some huffing and puffing up the hill but it is all so worth it.

More photos here on FaceBook