Photographs and Adventures

Posts tagged “Queensland

Maryborough, Qld

We finally made our way across to the east coast and to Maryborough which is a lovely town in which to spend a night. It has been quite a while since we stayed in a town! Being boaties, we opted to put our van next to the Marina on the Mary River for the night so that Peter could look at the boats; he has been missing his boat and the sea. Once we were set up, we went for a walk through the beautifully kept Queens Park, which is one of the oldest botanical parks in Australia. Nearby is the historic court house, and beside it …

The Sausage Tree (Kigelia Pinnata), a native of South Africa, was propagated in about 1850 by botanist John Bidwill. It is a very rare specimen  and is on the Heritage Register.

…is the Sausage Tree (Kigelia Pinnata), a native of South Africa, which was propagated in about 1850 by botanist John Bidwill. It is a very rare specimen and is on the Heritage Register.

It is easy to imagine a brass band playing in the rotunda in Queens Park.

The band stand in Queens Park is quite lovely and ornate and it is easy to imagine a brass band playing in the rotunda to an appreciative audience.

The miniature railway line runs between the hanging roots of the ancient Banyan  tree in Queens Park.

The miniature railway line runs in and out between the hanging roots of the ancient Banyan Fig tree in Queens Park. The Banyan Fig is well over 100 years old and quite spectacular with its huge system of roots.

Maryborough has lots of nicely restored historic buildings, but also some modern art such as this water wall near the art gallery.

Maryborough has lots of nicely restored historic buildings, but also some modern art such as this water wall near the art gallery.

Egret taking flight on the Mary River.

Egret taking flight on the Mary River. Kind of blurry, but I like it!

The sun sets after another busy day!

Looking up the Mary River, our caravan is the little white blob on the right, next to the marina jetty.

And the sun sets after another busy day.


More free camping…this is getting to be a habit

The longer we have been on the road (over two months now) the more we have come to realise the benefits of finding a decent free camp to set up for a day or two. We use WikiCamps to help us discover what places are suitable then choose according to location and comments from other users.

This was the view from our 'front door' at one of the waterholes where we camped.

This was the view from our ‘front door’ at one of the waterholes where we camped.

At a free-camp, you are also free to collect firewood for a campfire, and then cook yourself a meal in your camp oven. It doesn't get much better than this!

At a free-camp, you are also free to collect firewood for a campfire, and then cook yourself a meal in your camp oven. It doesn’t get much better than this!

While you are spending time relaxing at the free camp, you are also often surrounded by birds and other wildlife. These brolgas were feeding at the waterhole mentioned above.

While you are spending time relaxing at the free camp, you are also often surrounded by birds and other wildlife. These Brolgas were feeding at the waterhole mentioned above.

These finches often flocked around water sources, whether it was a waterhole or just a dish beneath a tap.

These honeyeaters often flocked around water sources, whether it was a waterhole or just a dish of water collected beneath a tap.

Black-winged Stilts in flight over the waterhole.

Black-winged Stilts in flight over the waterhole. I love their trailing pink legs.

This little Black Fronted Plover was feeding in the shallows.

This little Black Fronted Plover was feeding in the shallows.

I have learned to recognise quite a few new birds on this trip, but nothing in comparison to one of our travelling companions who has photographed and identified over 80 species he hadn’t previously seen. It definitely helps to have a bird identification book along on the trip.


Boodjamulla National Park (AKA Lawn Hill National Park)

Lawn Hill National Park is in the remote Gulf region of northwestern Queensland. It is over 1800 kilometres north west of Brisbane, close to the border with the Northern Territory.

The emerald waters and lush vegetation of Lawn Hill Gorge form a beautiful oasis in the outback, attracting abundant wildlife and offering exceptional views, walks, canoeing and cultural sites.

19.Lawn Hill-1

There are many walks around the park, some of them quite easy and some more difficult and adventurous.

There are many walks around the park, some of them quite easy and some more difficult and adventurous.

The steep rock walls rise above you on either side as you approach the start of the lower gorge.

The steep rock walls rise above you on either side as you approach the start of the lower gorge.

Looking towards the lower gorge from the camp area.

The best way by far to see the gorge is to hire a canoe and paddle upstream.

The best way by far to see the gorge is to hire a canoe and paddle upstream.

It is quite spectacular paddling beneath the rock walls.

It is quite spectacular paddling beneath the rock walls. You can see the relative size of the canoe below the pandanus.

Waterfall at the top end of the lower gorge.

Waterfall at the top end of the lower gorge.

Just along from here you need to lift the canoe out of the water and drag it over the rocks to access the upper gorge.

Just along from here you need to lift the canoe out of the water and drag it over the rocks to access the upper gorge.

I loved the roots of this tree exposed by the rushing water. This is a permanent waterway and runs all year round.

Emerald waters of the gorge.

Emerald waters of the gorge.

Darter resting on a tree branch over the water.

Darter resting on a tree branch over the water.

Some parts of the gorge look quite tropical with palm trees and pandanus.

Some parts of the gorge look quite tropical with palm trees and pandanus hanging over the emerald water.

Water lilies in the upper gorge.

Water lilies in the upper gorge.

Evening reflections as we make our way back to camp.

Evening reflections as we make our way back to camp.


Gregory River free camp

On our way to Lawn Hill National Park (Boodjamulla National Park) in the gulf region of north Queensland, we camped for the night on the banks of the Gregory River. This is a very remote area, but there were lots of people camping here. It is a beautiful river with crystal clear water which was flowing quite fast; it is spring fed and flows all year.

Gregory River

Gregory River

The old bridge is no longer in use but you can walk across to explore the other side of the river and visit the tiny town of Gregory which is pretty much a pub and a couple of houses.

The old bridge is no longer in use but you can walk across to explore the other side of the river and visit the tiny town of Gregory which pretty much consists of a pub and a couple of houses.

Male Crimson Finch, only found in the most northerly parts of Australia.

Male Crimson Finch, only found in the most northerly parts of Australia.

Female Crimson Finch

Female Crimson Finch

Early morning reflections on the Gregory River.

Early morning reflections on the Gregory River.

It is very easy to understand why this is such a popular place to camp. The only downside is that you need to be totally self sufficient to stay here, but if you are organised it is an awesome place to stay especially if you can set up right on the river bank.


Moreton Bay, Qld

Have you ever drifted serenely on perfectly calm waters, watching the sun sink slowly in the west while the colours change around you, reflecting off the sky and water? It is a surreal experience that makes me realise how lucky I am to live in this beautiful country.

Right on sunset, everything is bathed in a golden glow that turns the water to a sea of gold.

Then just after the sun has disappeared below the horizon, everything is golden and blue.

In the next few moments, the blues and yellows gradually change to oranges,pinks and purples.

The sea was so calm you could see the gentle ripples from the ducks paddling around the inflatable tender.

This yacht was anchored a little further up the bay and looked so peaceful in the evening light.

All that was missing from this perfect evening was a pod of dolphins frolicking in the calm waters!

 

 

 


Noosa Everglades & Elanda Point on Lake Cootharaba

Elanda Point on Lake Cootharaba is a camp ground and canoe-adventure business. We set up our camp right on the shore of the lake, well away from several school groups that were sharing the campground, although I have to say the kids were a pleasure and the only sound we heard from them was laughter.

The older school kids set off in canoes to camp up the Noosa River at Harry’s Hut. They carried everything they needed in their canoes. What a great adventure. I would have loved to do something like that when I was at school…

Amazingly, again I was awake early enough to take a couple of dawn photos, just before the sun came up.

It was so peaceful out there in the early morning light. You could see the mist rising off the still waters of the lake.

I took one last photo of our quiet cove, then crept back into my warm bed. I am not really an early morning person. When we did get up, we thought we would go for a paddle in the kayaks and stupidly, I decided not to take the camera with me, which was a mistake. We ended up going across the lake and up the river to the Noosa Everglades on the Upper Noosa River. It was absolutely beautiful, with unbelievable reflections on the still waters. On the way, we crossed another smaller lake that was filled with purple/blue water lilies. Again, it was absolutely stunning and I was so sorry not to have my camera. We arrived back at camp about four and a half hours later, pretty tired but happy to have done the trip.

The next morning, when we were enjoying a breakfast coffee under the trees, we looked up to see a couple of kangaroos bounding through the shallow water. They went off shore about a hundred metres, where they had a bit of a swim for several minutes before jumping their way back to shore. I have never seen anything like that before! I have seen kangaroos on the beach, but I didn’t know they enjoyed swimming!

 

 

 

 

 


Carmila Beach, Qld – free camp

It’s not often I am up in the morning early enough to take photographs of the sunrise. Why was I up so early? You may well ask…

We were not planning on staying at Carmila Beach but on impulse turned left off the highway to check it out, and at the end of the soft and sandy track came across a secluded spot amongst the trees, out of the wind, that seemed to have our name on it.

We found a nice little spot, tucked away in the bush out of the wind.

Because we were a little late arriving and it was a warm afternoon, we didn’t bother to collect any firewood. However, once the sun went down, the temperature started to drop so after a fairly early dinner, we retired indoors when it got dark and read for a while before going to bed early.

It’s not often I am up early enough to see the sunrise, but  because we went to bed so early, I was tempted out of bed and down to the beach with my camera.

The tide was right out, and the sand looked pretty amazing in the golden light.

Golden ripples in the sand. Low tide at Camila Beach, Qld

As I walked alonge the beach, I could see other camps stretching off into the distance, all the way along the shore. It is great to find such a lovely place where you can camp free of charge, and enjoy our wonderful beaches.

 

 

 


Bowen, Qld

We passed through Bowen on our way north to Cape York, but decided it was worth a closer look now that we are heading south again. Of course, it was a bit grey and wet when we were here last, so it wasn’t really looking it’s best. Now that we are here again, we are finding it hard to leave! We have kayaked, cycled, snorkeled and walked and still haven’t managed to see all that Bowen has to offer. We have eaten fresh prawns on the foreshore, mango sorbet while walking on the wharf and had a magnificent meal in the pub. We’ve watched the sunset from the beach and felt the ‘Blowin’ in Bowen’ breeze every afternoon. The sun is shining, the weather is warm and Bowen is a very nice place to be.

This is the beach just in front of where we are camped. The coastline of Bowen is crowded with rounded rocks, and coral and tropical fish not far off shore. This is a the top of the Whitsundays, and there are many island visible in the distance.

I just like the way this looks with the water behind the palm trees on the beach. Very tropical!

This sedimentary rock on the beach has millions of tiny pieces of coral imbedded in the stone.

The waters are great for kayaking in the sheltered bays. You can fish or just explore amongst the huge rocks dotted along the shore line.

Looking out to sea, there are further rocky outcrops, and the northern islands of the Whitsundays in the distance.

And of course, the obligatory sunset photo. It is the most perfect time of day for a walk along the beach. Bowen is a very nice place to be!

 

 

 

 

 


Josephine Falls, Qld

Sometimes the nicest places are ones you hear about from fellow travelers. We were chatting with a couple of backpackers who mentioned Josephine Fall was worth a visit so we decided to take the detour and check it out.

This is the top pool at Josephine Falls. There must be huge volumes of water passing through this point during the wet season. I have never seen so many signs warning of danger, no swimming, strong currents, slippery rocks, etc. although it didn’t look too vicious the day we were there.

This is where the water from the top pool continues on it’s way downstream. Below this were huge boulders, which I imagine is where the danger would come in, if you were swept off your feet on the slippery rocks and sucked underneath when there was a huge current running.

Beside the stream was a cool place for this couple to escape the heat of the day.

This mossy stairway led up to….nothing at all. Well, not anymore. I am not sure what it’s original purpose would have been. It was at the far end of the pathway going up to the top pool of the waterfall.

Looking up the hill you can see how rocky the river bed is, and the large smooth rocks make for a very slippery surface.

This family were having a ball sliding down the mossy rock in the lower pool.

 

 

 

 

 


Paronella Park – one man’s dream

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who has visited my blog recently, especially today when I have put up several posts to try and catch up with myself. We have been out of reach of internet for most of the past several weeks while we were traveling in the outback and far north Queensland, so I have a backlog of photos that I want to put on here. Thank you also to everyone for their kind words and encouragement.

The intriguing first glimpse of Paronella Park.

I had heard from friends that Paronella Park was a place we shouldn’t miss when we travelled to north Queensland, but we really had no idea what to expect. Paronella Park came to exist through the dreams and imagination of Jose Paronella, who arrived in Australia from Spain in the early 1900’s and through sheer hard work in the cane fields, together with his vision and determination, managed to buy 5 hectares beside Mena Creek Falls and build himself a castle. He also built a theatre/ballroom, refreshment rooms, bridges, tennis courts, a tunnel to a secret garden with a spring-fed waterfall, a picnic area, and planted over 7,500 tropical plants and trees. If that was not enough, he also installed the first hydro-electric plant in northern Queensland. The complex opened to the public in 1935 and since then has had several catastrophies including floods, cyclones and a devastating fire. Today the ruins of the dream make a fascinating place to visit.

The ruins of the theatre/ballroom still have an air of a fairy-tale palace about them.

The lower refreshment rooms have a haunting atmospheric presence, especially when lit up at night. The fountain in front of the ruins is gravity fed from the waterfall and runs continuously.

Waterfall

This photo was taken from the picnic grounds overlooking the waterfall. The waterfall still runs a hydro electric plant, supplying more than enough power to run the whole property.

This is the view from the suspension bridge, looking over Paronella Park and the pool below the waterfall, where people used to hire pleasure boats and swim. You can see the picnic area beside the lake, still with the original cast concrete picnic tables and seats.

The tropical gardens and details such as the wishing well in front of the ballroom show the amount of attention that went into the planning of this special place. I would certainly recommend a visit to Paronella Park if you get the opportunity.

I saw this leaf in the gardens of Paronella Park. I am not sure what has been eating this plant, but I liked the lacy pattern the holes make in the leaf.

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Boulders and Butterflies at Babinda, Qld

They say the best things in life are free, and this fantastic spot was absolutely free to camp. There are limited sites, only 10, but the camping area is beautifully looked after with clean toilets and cold showers. And as an amazing bonus, there were hundreds of colourful butterflies fluttering around the flowering plants in the gardens.

When we were in Cairns, we visited the butterfly sanctuary in Kuranda. I think there were at least as many butterflies fluttering around in the wild at the Boulders campground.

The butterflies were attracted to the flowering bushes surrounding the campsites. All these photos were taken on our site.

So many butterflies…

There were so many beautiful butterflies fluttering about, however it was difficult to try to capture the feeling of being surrounded by them.

Butterflies weren’t the only bonus at Babinda. This pineapple was growing in the garden surrounding our free campsite. I believe there was a pawpaw tree growing in the garden as well, but I couldn’t find it.

 

But the real reason we came to this area was to visit the part of the river known as The Boulders. It consists of a very rocky river with a walk up to several waterfalls, however you can only swim in the lower pool. The water wasn’t very deep, but was still refreshing on a hot afternoon.

The water worn rocks are quite sculptural and beautiful. It seems amazing when the river is so placid to think of the raging torrent that must pass through during the wet season.

The river flows through a series of waterfalls over the smooth granite rocks. It is easy to see why it is called The Boulders.

 

 

 

 


Lake Tinaroo

We had heard a little about Lake Tinaroo, so decided to go and check it out for ourselves. Once we were there it was hard to tear ourselves away again. We set up right on the edge of the lake, took the canoes off the roof of the car, organised some firewood, and we were set for a relaxing break.

The water is so calm that paddling around in the kayak was a real pleasure, and everything was so beautiful, that I stayed out a little too long and ended up with blisters!

The birdlife at Lake Tinaroo is amazing. I was so sorry that my bird identification book is sitting on the bookshelf at home and not with me as it should have been. I know these guys, however, because we have them at home on Phillip Island. This is part of a family of Purple Swamphens that brought their babies over to us every day, looking for crumbs or scraps of food. They are amazing parents, and always fed the babies before themselves.

This is one bird that certainly gets better looking when it grows up! The babies were most peculiar looking with their stumpy little wings and huge feet. But they were still so cute in an ugly kind of way.

There are kookaburras all over the place up here, and this one was not my friend. He swooped down and stole my piece of chicken right off my fork while we were eating our meal! It was chicken curry, so I hope it burnt his greedy little mouth!

This is one I definitely needed the bird book for. I think he might be a Rufous Night Heron, but then again, I could have just made that up. If you know, please tell me and I will amend this!

There were lots of waterlilies growing in the tranquil waters at the edge of the lake.

These water lilies looked kind of serene with the clouds reflected in the water.

How inviting does this look? We ended up staying longer than we planned, but eventually we started to run out of food so it was time to move on.

And at the end of each perfect day was another perfect evening…You can see the smoke from our campfire drifting across the trees in the photo.

This gnarled old tree has nothing to do with Lake Tinaroo, but I like it so I am putting it in anyway. This was taken at Emerald Creek Falls, near Mareeba.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Up to the Tip of Australia

One of the goals of our trip this year was to visit the northernmost point of mainland Australia. We started this part of our adventure in Cooktown where we left our caravan behind and headed off with a tent and some basic camping gear. The roads from Cooktown, travelling north up Cape York, are generally unmade roads with some short sections of bitumen along the way. The quality of the dirt roads varied from excellent (driving at up to 90km/hr) to appalling (travelling at less than 20km/hr) and included water crossings, some of which were very deep and a little concerning because the water went over the bonnet of our 4WD.

Cooktown’s main claim to fame is that Captain Cook brought the Endeavour up the river here (now named Endeavour River) to make repairs after the ship ran aground on a reef off the coast in 1770. There is a statue of Captain Cook on the foreshore to commemorate this time in Australia’s history.

We took Battle Camp Road from Cooktown to Laura. I loved this old rusting sign where we came out of the bush after our week at Billy Boil, to turn onto Battle Camp Rd.

This is one of our first river crossings, a nice easy one to get us used to the idea of driving through water. Some of the later ones we really had to think twice before proceeding, they can look very deep and murky and you have no idea what is lurking under the surface. (Think potholes, big rocks or even worse, crocs…)

 

Old Laura Station is the historic remains of one of the first cattle stations in the area. The old buildings remain, along with a rusted out relic of a truck from a bygone era.

 

 

 

Our first camp was at Hann River Roadhouse which doesn’t have all that much to recommend it, apart from a friendly emu and this heifer who was very interested in our camp and sneaked back at 2am to raid our rubbish bag.

Further up the road at Coen, we camped behind the Exchange Hotel, and this is our tent, with a huge Brahman bull checking us out. Luckily for us, a farmer we met there took charge and chased him out of the campground. That didn’t stop him coming back later in the day, and there was another confrontation, not quite so friendly that time…

Some joker has added an ‘S’ at the start of the Exchange Hotel sign, so it now reads Sexchange Hotel. Amazingly, some people didn’t even notice!

This is a great little business. There is the pub, with accommodation plus the camping area near the river at the rear. They also run a mechanical repair business (very busy because lots of people trash their cars on the rough roads up here), a general store, and fuel pumps. So pretty much anything you need in Coen, they can help.

One thing there is plenty of up in Cape York is red dust, and lots of it. There are long road trains barreling along the dusty developmental road, followed by a huge cloud of dust. This one is on a good section of the track.

This man is walking up to the top of Cape York with his donkey carrying everything they need. He let me take a photo, but refused our offer of a cool drink saying he had everything he needed.

Amazingly in the middle of all this dust and dirt, there are some stunning waterfalls, accessed via the old Telegraph Track. It is worth the ruts and water crossings when you finally arrive at these beautiful oases. The water is clear and warm and you can swim without worrying too much about crocodiles. Apparently crocs aren’t too fond of waterfalls and stay away from them, luckily for us!

This pitcher plant is a carnivorous plant that eats insects. There were many of them growing wild along the sides of the river near the waterfalls. Amazing.

We camped at Loyalty Beach once we reached the top of Cape York. Quite a nice beach, but no swimming because of the crocs. You can see all the Torres Strait islands off in the distance.

Remains of the old jetty at Seisha. Seisha wharf is the taking off point for boat trips out to Thursday Island and Horn Island. I think Captain Cook was sick of thinking of names for the islands when he was here, because there is a Tuesday Island, Wednesday Island and of course, Thursday Island.

It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t put in at least one sunset! We sat beneath this palm tree at Loyalty Beach and enjoyed a candlelight dinner while we watched the sun sink slowing in the west.

This Cape York kookaburra seems to have an evil eye but he was quite friendly. 

So friendly, in fact, that he invited himself over for a coffee…

One other interesting visitor at the campground was this Palm Cockatoo, who liked to crack the nuts growing on the tree that shaded our tent.

We finally made it right up to the tip of Australia. This was taken standing on the beach, looking north. The mangroves grow along the beach, but further on there is a rocky headland to scale before you are standing at the tip.

This was one for Peter to cross off his bucket list…playing his trumpet right up at the tip, the northernmost point of the Australian mainland.

We made it! Peter and I standing at the sign denoting the tip of Australia. It seems strange that there are island directly across the water. You imagine that you won’t see anything other than water from up here.

It is a tradition to add a rock to the cairn on the rocky headland.

The is the cairn where I added my stone.

Soon enough it was time for us to start heading back down Cape York. This is one of the water crossings we made as we went along the Old Telegraph Track into Eliot Fall and Twin Falls. This is the one which went right up over the bonnet of the car, and we had to do it again on the way out. But it was worth it, the falls are stunning. No pictures this time, we went swimming instead!

This one is a Cape York crow, for Anoushka…He wasn’t very interested in staying still while I took his photo.

We came across this lagoon with blue water lilies growing wild, when we stopped for lunch one day.

And so, soon enough, we returned to Battle Camp Road on our way back towards Cooktown, to pick up our caravan from the farm where we had left it while we were travelling with the tent. We had a wonderful time up on the cape and were lucky not to have had any car troubles apart from a couple of chips in the windcreen. It was a time to remember.


Cape York building project

The track to Billy Boil winds through the bush and includes several water crossings and rough patches.

We were lucky to be involved in a building project on Aboriginal property in Cape York, west of Hope Vale settlement. We went there as part of a Rotary project to help with the building of a house, consisting of a very large verandah area with three under-cover bedrooms, an amenities block with two toilets and a shower which was connected to the main house via a walkway, and a separate kitchen area; open sided under a corrugated iron roof, with an open fire at the end for cooking.

Most of our meals and drinks were prepared using the open fire; there was always hot water for coffee or washing.

We had a huge lump of beef, way too much for a single meal, even for 13 people. Since it was frozen, the only way to divide it was to saw it in half.

This lump of meat is the half we put back in the freezer for another day.

The kitchen facilities were basic, and all cooking is done under an open shelter with rough shelves along the side.

Everyone washes their own clothes, using a bucket and water from the creek that we heated on the fire. Clothes hang to dry between two trees.

This guy visited us every day around lunchtime, appearing out of the bush. When approached, he would run up a tree.

Working on the support for the front steps into the house.

Almost all the timber in the building was sourced on the property and cut on-site using a portable Lucas Mill timber mill.

Rough planks were put through this machine to smooth the surfaces for interior walls.

The weatherboards for the walls were from such fresh timber that water literally ran from the ends while they were being nailed up. It is good though, because the timber doesn’t split easily when it is wet.

Plumber

In this photo, the plumber is bending the copper pipes, using heat from the cooking fire to soften the metal.

Making fried scones for morning tea. This was a bit of an experiment, but they turned out well.

These didn’t last long. The men thought they were a nice change from bought biscuits.

I am not sure where this came from, but I think the advice for the indigenous youngsters is good advice for everyone!

This is the almost finished house and bathroom, built with the help of Rotary volunteers, in the bush outside of Hope Vale aboriginal community in Cape York. The kitchen will remain in the open shelter.


Cairns – Tropical North Queensland

It’s very hard to choose a caravan park just by looking in a book. We usually like to have a look at the available places to stay before we make a decision, however we had been told the the parks in Cairns are often booked out and we should organise something before we arrived. Anyway, Cool Waters caravan park turned out to be a fine choice. There was a creek that bordered the park, filled with biggish fish, really big eels and lots of turtles of various sizes. No fishing was allowed, but you could feed all the fish, etc which was quite entertaining and there was a very pretty spot beside the water with table and seats, just perfect for enjoying a sundowner.

The fish and turtles were quite used to people and this turtle popped his head up out of the water and looked me straight in the eye.

From the caravan park there was a lovely walk along the edge of the creek and through the rainforest, which went for quite a long way upstream. No sign of any crocs or snakes, thank goodness.

We visited the Cairns Botanic Gardens which are well laid out and very tropical, as you would expect.

The vines trailing from this tree were like a veil.

Flower at Cairns Botanical Gardens

I liked these fluffy white flowers. I have since seen the same in red.


Kuranda Birdworld

We visited Kuranda a second time to have a look around Birdworld and a picnic lunch at Barron Falls, which was interesting because there isn’t really a picnic area there so we were perched on a stone wall. There is a nice walk through the forest to the falls, which are involved with a hydro electric plant up there.

This fern had attached itself to the overhanging branch of a tree. It was quite big, probably about a metre across.

The new frond of a tree fern, about to uncurl into the world.

The bird park was quite interesting, but if I had to choose, I would definitely favour the butterfly sanctuary we visited a few days ago. We did get to meet a cassowary up close, although he was on the other side of a fence. Cassowaries can inflict quite a bit of damage with the claw on their foot.

Cassowaries have a bony skull cap, and are really not the prettiest of birds but are quite big and can be aggressive. They stand about as tall as an adult human. However this one was just lazing around, and spent most of the time sitting in the shade.

This cheeky parrot was leaning in for a closer look.

White faced herons at Kuranda Birdworld

Heron. It was a good chance to get up close and personal with the birds. 

There were lots of White Faced Herons around the pond area.

 

 

 

 

 


Cairns…Tropical North Queensland

Well, here we are in Cairns. Tropical North Queensland.  We have never been this far north before in Queensland, so we didn’t quite know what to expect. Probably we thought it would be quite hot, and very humid, so I am not sure if we were wrong or the weather is unusually mild. Most days seem to be around 24°  – 25°C with a little breeze and fairly low humidity which suits me fine…

We have spent quite a bit of time in the Cairns Botanical Gardens, they are a real pleasure to explore with their lush tropical vegetation and lots of plants we don’t see very often down south.

Jade vine

According to my research, this is Strongylodon Macrobotrys (Jade Vine, Emerald Creeper). The buds are like green and purple jelly beans and open into the most wonderful aqua blue flowers all down a long hanging stem.

Kuranda is a little rainforest town up in the hills. You can get up there via the Scenic Train or Sky Rail but we chose to drive up the steep and winding road. Kuranda itself is a touristy village full of market stalls and various places to eat. It is also home to the Kuranda butterfly sanctuary which we loved. They have a breeding program, and  grow all the thousands of  butterflies in the enclosure which are all native to the region. It was a great experience and we would recommend it if you go to Kuranda.

This is the female Cairns Birdwing butterfly. She is Australia’s largest butterfly.

This is the male Cairns Birdwing. He is smaller than the female but much more colourful. Male butterflies are generally more flamboyant than the females, because it is the female who chooses her mate.

Orange Lacewing

I think this is the Orchard Butterfly, so named because the caterpillars eat the leaves of citrus orchard trees such as lemon, orange & grapefruit.

This little girl was fascinated by the butterfly that landed on her hand. It sat there happily for quite a long time while she inspected it.


Hull Heads

No, I had never heard of it either. Hull Heads is just down the road from Tully Heads, which is near Tully. Tully has the dubious distinction of being arguably the wettest place in Australia. Luckily for us, the rain stayed away while we were there. Hull Heads and indeed the whole coast along that region, is still recovering from Cyclone Yasi which devastated the area in early February 2011. Many of the houses have been rebuilt, but there are still blocks of land that are now vacant and waiting for a new dwelling to be constructed. As you walk along the stretch of sandy beach, there is evidence everywhere of the destruction caused by that monstrous storm; huge trees are snapped off like toothpicks, and the sand is still littered with broken trees and debris from that time.

Hull Heads

Beach at Hull Heads

But if you look the other way, the gorgeous islands can still be seen out over the sea, there are still stretches of golden sand and we didn’t come across any crocodiles, although there were plenty of signs warning us not to go into the water, or stand at the water’s edge.

Hull Heads beach

Hull Heads beach, looking back towards the river, where the crocs live.

And once you get used to the idea, and realise there probably aren’t any crocodiles waiting to eat you as soon as you set foot on the beach, you can walk for miles and enjoy the sunset.

Palm trees at Hull Heads

Hull Heads sunset.

 

 


Townsville

We arrived in Townsville not quite knowing what to expect, and we were very pleased with what we found. The Strand that runs right along the waterfront in town is so well done, with lots of different areas to explore from the seawater swimming pool at one end to the marina complex at the other.

Water park on The Strand, Townsville

This tiny girl just loved the water park. It was joyous watching as she explored the water mushroom.

One misty day we took a picnic lunch to Queens Park, where we saw a beautiful wedding in the lovely gardens. As we were leaving, we noticed the cloud hanging low over Castle Hill making an impressive backdrop to the gardens.

Castle Hill

Castle Hill is a pink granite monolith that towers above the city of Townsville. We drove to the top but lots of people walk or even run up the extremely steep and windy road. Unfortunately the view from the top was obscured by the mist when we were there.

The Sunday market in Flinders Mall is packed with stalls selling all the usual sorts of things you find at Sunday markets, but we found a couple of things we hadn’t seen before. The first was the fruit of the Sapote. The black sapote fruit (which is green when you buy it) needs to be kept in a warm place until it is very ripe and the skin starts to look yellowish and almost as though it is going bad. When you cut the sapote open, the flesh is a dark brown colour. We scooped the soft flesh out of the skin, mashed it well with a fork and added bit of sugar, and by that time it looked just like chocolate pudding, which is what it is often compared to. We served it with vanilla ice cream, and it actually tasted pretty good! The other thing we found was a beautiful flower that we hadn’t seen before (after all, we are from Victoria and tropical flowers don’t do well there) We did some research and found it is a Torch Ginger. It lasted well over a week in the bottle we used as a vase.

Torch Ginger

We had to buy this beautiful flower, even if it was only to find out what it was.

We enjoyed The Strand so much, I think we ended up somewhere along there for lunch or a walk every day we were in Townsville. I took this photo of Melanie on the beach one day after lunch.

Melanie

Melanie


Still raining in Airlie Beach…

The rain has really set in, so when there was a small break in the weather we took the opportunity to go walking in Conway National Park, situated  between Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour. Considering the amount of water that has fallen from the sky, there was surprisingly little in the creeks we crosssed on our walk.

Creek crossing, Conway National Park

The bottle tree stores water in it’s fibrous trunk.

These stunning fungi were growing on a fallen tree trunk in the forest.

The vines were twisted and contorted around this tree in Conway National Park, almost looks like a python wrapped around the trunk.

When we got back to the caravan park, we found some birds out enjoying the damp weather…

A pair of curlews live in the little creek area at the camp ground. You can hear their eerie calls in the dark of night.

Kookaburra

Kookaburra sitting on a post in the camp ground

Finally, a couple of photos of the beach area in Airlie Beach. The sun actually showed through for a few minutes!

As soon as the sun came out, people came out too to enjoy the pool area on the Airlie Beach foreshore.

Windy, but the sun came out for a little while


The Crow and The Ibis – a little poem

Sharing a tree in Mooloolaba. Another one for Anoushka.

THE IBIS & THE CROW

The white Ibis eyes the Crow…Is he friend or is he foe?

Who will end up with this tree? Is it him, or is it me?

Are we friends? Can we can share? It’s hard to say who will out-stare…

They both want this special tree, looking out towards the sea

White ibis and black crow; who will stay and who will go?


Airlie Beach

Every night seems a little bit warmer than the one before, however we were eager to head further north towards the warmth so we put in a couple of big days of driving to get up the Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays. You remember the advertisements…Queensland – Beautiful one day, Perfect the next…Sadly the rain arrived at the same time as we did and so we set up camp in the rain at Airlie Beach in the rainforest, and it has poured down relentlessly ever since.

Swimming in the rain. Couldn’t get much wetter!

Things certainly look different when viewed through a curtain of rain, under grey skies; where are the beautiful crystal clear turquoise waters, and awesome views we were so looking forward to? To make matters worse, the new tent is leaking so we have spent most of the day organising a tarpaulin over the whole tent to try to keep out the worst of the water. That’s Australia for you; it is either drought or flood! We are a land of extremes…

Anyway, tonight we are sitting snug and warm in the caravan, listening to Laura Marling on the cd player, not quite drowning out the sound of the rain teeming down outside, drinking cocktails and Southern Comfort and coke, eating all the goodies out of the store cupboard, and wondering what to have for dinner that doesn’t require anyone to go outside. I hope the rain will ease enough to put Mel’s bedding back in the tent for tonight without it getting all wet again, but I don’t hold out much hope. I checked the weather on the internet and apparently it is raining pretty much all the way from Brisbane to Cairns, and will continue for the next week, so there is nowhere to escape to. I think we might just have to tough it out and wait for better weather. That is seven more days and nights of rain…

Camping cocktails cunningly concocted from coconut juice. Try saying that three times fast…

With plenty of time on our hands, we have been getting creative with photoshop and the liquify filter to further enhance this silly photo of Mel with lolly-teeth in her mouth and a pipe in her hand. The things you do when you are bored! At least I have had time to update my blog.

Mel doesn’t really look like this!


Up to the Great Sandy Straits

Finally it was time to move on, so we packed our things and headed north, up the road to Boreen Point. It was freezing! We weren’t allowed to light a campfire there so we huddled around the tiny butane heater at the water’s edge while the sun went down, then all crawled into bed at a very early hour to try and stay warm. Next camp we will be sure we can have a fire! Even so, Boreen Point was very pretty and serene and we will be back at some time in the future to take our kayaks up the river where we have been told there are lots of lovely peaceful camping spots.

Boreen Point on Lake Cootharaba looking cool and beautiful

Early morning flight at Lake Cootharaba

Rainbow Beach is such a romantic name. Tin Can Bay maybe not so much…Anyway, we headed up to the Great Sandy Straits to find our next camping spot. What we had forgotten from a previous visit here was the camping area at Inskip Point, where you can bush camp right on the beach.

Our camp at Inskip Point

The facilities are very basic (long drop toilets, and that’s all) but that is a small price to pay for the privilege of staying in such a great spot. We set up opposite the beach, organised some firewood, and were soon set for a few days of peace and relaxation.

This kookaburra was sitting in the tree behind the tent for ages

Our camp is near to where the car ferry goes over to Fraser Island, and across the water, you can see cars driving along the beach. Fraser Island is probably the largest sand island in the world and you wouldn’t get very far with a conventional vehicle, as there are no made roads on the island so you need a four-wheel drive to get around over there.

The hard packed sand is ideal for beach driving at Inskip Point too

Evening fishermen at Inskip Point. The car ferry to Fraser Island is in the distance


Mooloolaba

We spent a couple of lovely weeks in Mooloolaba catching up with family and friends and enjoying all that the area has to offer in the way of little trips to interesting places such as Buderim, where we walked up through the rainy-rainforest to the waterfall, as well as eating out and drinking lots of great coffee at some of the myriad restaurants that line the esplanade in Mooloolaba. One sunny afternoon Peter took us all out sailing on the 40ft catamaran that he and Val have been living on for the past few years while they sailed around the pacific islands. The boat is for sale now, and I am sure they will miss it when it goes to a new owner. We will also miss flying over to stay with them in some of the exotic places they visited.

Sunshine and blue skies as we sail out from Mooloolaba

Another day we took the kayaks out for a paddle up the Mooloolah River and through the canals lined with multi-million dollar houses, each with it’s own private jetty at the bottom of the garden. It was interesting to check out the houses and the expensive boats moored at the back of the properties. The river was the colour of cocoa, because of all the recent rains. Fortunately for us, the weather had pretty much cleared by the time we arrived, although the evenings were still cool.

The day we picked Mel up from Brisbane airport, we spent the day exploring Brisbane via the City Cat that travels up and down the Brisbane River, stopping off for yummy Yiros from a Greek restaurant at South Bank then strolling back into the city itself via a riverside boardwalk that meandered through the mangroves and past the Botanic Gardens, finally ending up at Eagle Street Pier where we caught the City Cat back down river to where we had parked the car.