Springtime in Brisbane

Category: Ships Log

September - October 2015

It's a purple spring in Brisbane.


We’ve been enjoying a lovely spring in Brisbane.  I hadn’t expected there to be much difference between fall, winter and spring since temperatures are relatively similar, but surprisingly, quite a bit has been blooming. The heady fragrance of jasmine fills the air and a tree I never noticed before, the jacaranda, has come into full bloom.  In most seasons, the jacaranda is a rather innocuous looking tree with scaly grey bark. Nothing you would really take notice of. But around the start of October, the jacarandas all over Brisbane erupted in purple blossoms, and they are everywhere!  They surround the lakes by the University of Queensland, they line the waterfront by the marina, and a large one even blooms at the base of the Kangaroo Point cliffs.  They are just beautiful in full bloom, rivaling even the Japanese cherry. When you are in a row of them on a windy afternoon, your world is painted purple with purple blossoms above in the trees, below on the ground and swirling around in the air, like purple snow.  It is similar to springtime in Oregon with the pink cherry blossoms, however as I have never seen a tree blossoming purple, this seems extra special. I will now look towards these rather boring looking trees during the rest of the year with more appreciation!


spring 1

Jacarandas blooming around the University of Queensland lakes.


spring 2

Blossoms carpet the ground.


spring 3

Jacarandas lining the bicycle trail.

 spring 4

 Jacarandas lining the waterfront by the marina.


spring 5

Just one more jacaranda pic!


Earlier this spring, I also got to enjoy the colors below the surface of the water.  Shortly after we returned from the States, I completed the Reef Check Australia (RCA) training course to be a survey diver. This means I can now participate in the coral reef monitoring surveys Reef Check Australia conducts each year.  We had four great training dives in Moreton Bay where we practiced laying out transect tapes and identifying indicator invertebrates, coral types, and coral impacts. During the dives I also saw my first wobbegong (likely a banded wobbegong)!  Wobbegongs are a type of carpet shark, so named because they are well camouflaged and some people think their camouflage pattern looks like a carpet.  They have a flattened body and head and lie motionless on the sea floor (they are ambush predators), so perhaps that is another reason they are thought to look like a carpet (hasn’t your carpet ever ambushed you?). The name “wobbegong” is an Aboriginal term meaning “shaggy beard” because the wobbegong has short weed-like barbels all around their jaw. There are 12 species of wobbegong and they are only found around Australia and Indonesia, with the exception of one species near Japan. It's neat to see a fish we didn't spot anywhere else in the Pacific! And not to worry, wobbegongs are rarely a threat to humans, unless you harass them or accidentally step on them.  Anyway, Reef Check Australia is conducting its annual surveys of the subtropical reefs in Moreton Bay during the spring and summer and I am excited to join in this year! 


 spring 6b

A banded wobbegong we spotted on one of our training dives. Photo courtesy of Jodi Salmond.


spring 7

Us trainees practicing our survey skills. Photo courtesy of Jodi Salmond.


spring 8

The newly graduated class of RCA survey divers. Photo courtesy of Jodi Salmond.


Other than that, Chris and I have just been working. When we returned from the States, I started full time as lab manager at the Australian Centre for Ecogenomics.  I am really enjoying the job and learning lots about the world of microbial genomics.  Luckily Chris has had a 5 year head start on me in this field, so is a great help in answering my novice questions.  We both commute to work by bicycle using the bike paths that are all over Brisbane. For the entire 30 min ride, we are on actual roads for maybe only 5 minutes. It’s pretty amazing.  How many cities are there where you can have a 30 minute bicycle commute on dedicated bike paths (not just bike lanes marked on the road)?  It’s not often we have lived in a place where this is possible and we are really enjoying it! 


spring 9

Riding home on the bike trail after work. The trail skirts the Kangaroo Point cliffs and has a lovely view of the city. 



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