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 …
…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.
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 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.
Egret taking flight on the Mary River. Kind of blurry, but I like it!
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.
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.
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.
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. I love their trailing pink legs.
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.
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.
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 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. You can see the relative size of the canoe below the pandanus.
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.
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.
Darter resting on a tree branch over the water.
Some parts of the gorge look quite tropical with palm trees and pandanus hanging over the emerald water.
Water lilies in the upper gorge.
Evening reflections as we make our way back to 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.
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.
Female Crimson Finch
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.
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!
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!
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.