A Travellerspoint blog

Canberra

Capital of Australia

sunny 26 °C

Canberra is the capital city of Australia and its largest inland city; the eighth largest city overall. The site of Canberra was selected for the location of the nation's capital in 1908 as a compromise between rivals Sydney and Melbourne and construction commenced in 1913. It is unusual being an entirely planned city outside of any state and being designed as a capital city the city's layout features geometric motifs such as circles, hexagons and triangles, and is centered around axes aligned with significant topographical landmarks in the Australian Capital Territory.

We stayed a couple of days and visited the Australian War Memorial, Parliament House which is the focal point of Canberra, the National Museum of Australia and the National Film and Sound Archive where we saw The Sapphires, an Australian comedy movie about four women from a remote Aboriginal mission who are discovered by a talent scout and form a music group called The Sapphires, travelling to Vietnam in 1968 to sing for troops during the war.

The War Memorial includes a very comprehensive and very interesting museum, covering the Boer War, both World Wars, the Vietnam, Korean and other recent wars in which Australian diggers fought.

From Canberra we will travel back into New South Wales to visit Koscuiszko National Park in the Australian Alps.

Australian War Memorial

Australian War Memorial

Boer gun captured from General Christian de Wet by Australian troops

Boer gun captured from General Christian de Wet by Australian troops

The truth about the Boer War

The truth about the Boer War

First World War

First World War

Second World War

Second World War

Vietnam War

Vietnam War

ANZAC Hall

ANZAC Hall

National Museum of Australia

National Museum of Australia

Exhibition in the National Museum of Australia

Exhibition in the National Museum of Australia

Parliament House

Parliament House

House of Representatives

House of Representatives

Posted by KobusM 23:38 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Booderee National Park

Jervis Bay Territory

overcast 30 °C

Booderee National Park is not in New South Wales as we thought it was starting this trip. It falls in Jervis Bay Territory, the third and smallest territory (67 km2) on the Australian mainland, which was surrendered by the state of New South Wales to the Commonwealth Government in 1915 so that the Federal capital at Canberra would have "access to the sea". These days Jervis Bay Territory does not belong to the ACT either; it is managed seperately by the Federal Department of The Arts, Sport, The Environment, Tourism and Territories.

We camped at the popular Greenpatch Campground, which was quiet when we arrived but got very busy on the weekend. Wildlife spotted were Swamp Wallabies, Grey Wallabies and Brushtail Possums. One huge possum kept us awake at night, climbing on the roof, the awning and the kitchen, looking for scraps of food. Chasing it away did not work so I eventually had to encourage it with the brush to look for food elsewhere. There were also big flocks of Crimson Rosellas in the trees, making a lot of noise in the morning and the evening. Little Fairy-wrens amused us with their quick movements.

The beach at Hyams Beach, next to Greenpatch beach, is said to have the whitest sand in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records, but I am sure the sand on the beaches around Esperance are just as white. On the other side of peninsula is Wreck Bay and Cave Beach, which is a popular surfing spot. Another picturesque beach in Jervis Bay is Murrays Beach.

The first day was bright sunshine but the next two days were overcast and rainy, typical of the weather we have expericed in New South Wales.

This morning we travelled to Canberra for short visit to the capital of Australia.

Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Murrays Beach

Murrays Beach

Swamp Wallaby

Swamp Wallaby

Crimson Rosella feeding its young

Crimson Rosella feeding its young


Cave Beach

Cave Beach


Green Patch Beach

Green Patch Beach

Superb Fairy-wrens

Superb Fairy-wrens

Posted by KobusM 20:42 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Kangaroo Valley

Free camping at Bendeela

overcast 24 °C

Kangaroo Valley, situated 160 km south of Sydney, is described by many as the most beautiful valley in Australia and we had to see it for ourselves. It was not on our original travel plan but a fellow traveler highly recommended it. It features rich green pastures, sparkling creeks and rivers and a lush rainforest, all surrounded by an amazing amphitheater of high sandstone escarpments.

Much of Kangaroo Valley falls within the boundaries of Morton National Park, one of the largest parks in NSW. On the way from the Blue Mountains we stopped at Fitzroy Falls that is in Morton National Park and had lunch there. Flowing through the national park is Yarrunga Creek, which drops 81 meters to the floor of the valley below and eventually makes its way to the Kangaroo River.

The tiny town of Kangaroo Valley (population 320) is so hidden that you wouldn't know it existed unless you went looking for it. The town has some quaint buildings and the Hampden bridge outside town was completed in 1898 and is one of the first suspension bridges built in Australia. We decided to go bush again and free camped outside town at Bendeela which is on the banks of the Kangaroo River arm of Lake Yarrunga and frequented by many ducks, kangaroos and wombats. It was our first sighting of wombats in the wild and we were surprised by their size. The males are bigger than a Bull Terrier and they produce huge, cubic scats (poo). They were grazing and scatting around and under our vehicles all night.

The first recorded sighting by a European of Kangaroo Valley was in April of 1812, by surveyor-explorer George Evans, returning north from his exploration of Jervis Bay. He overnighted on top of Mt. Tapitallee from where he claimed he had a view "no painter could beautify."

We can agree that Kangaroo Valley is one of the most beautiful valleys we have seen in Australia. We are now back on the east coast, camping in the Booderee National Park at Jervis Bay.

Fitzroy Falls

Fitzroy Falls

Bendeela campgrounds

Bendeela campgrounds

Hampden Bridge

Hampden Bridge

Kangaroo Valley bank

Kangaroo Valley bank

Kangaroo Valley hotel

Kangaroo Valley hotel

Cute ducklings visiting our campsite

Cute ducklings visiting our campsite

Kookaburra

Kookaburra

Pacific Black Duck with ducklings

Pacific Black Duck with ducklings

Wombat

Wombat

Posted by KobusM 17:28 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Blue Mountains National Park

World Heritage Area

semi-overcast 28 °C

We travelled to Katoomba from Newcastle via Swansea, The Entrance and North Sydney. The detour through Sydney was stressful due to heavy traffic and narrow roads (9 months in the bush made us skittish of cities) but worthwhile since we visited the South African shop for some new stocks of biltong, drywors, rusks, koeksisters, braaipap and pinotage red wine.

We stayed in the Katoomba Falls Caravan Park, close to the iconic Three Sisters and Katoomba Falls. The Blue Mountains National Park is part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, listed for its remarkable geographic, botanic and cultural values. The views from the park’s lookouts are magnificent, overlooking hazy blue forests, waterfalls and interesting rock formations. The slate-coloured haze that gives the mountains their name comes from a fine mist of oil exuded by eucalyptus trees. We also visited Blackheath for views of Govetts Leap, Bridal Veil Falls and Evans Lookout which has strange eroded rocks. The railway station at Mount Victoria was built in 1869 and is very well maintained through the years.

We were expecting a more remote and quiet retreat but the whole of the Blue Mountain area around the Great Western Highway is very busy on weekends with a lot of traffic, huge busses and large crowds of tourists. However, on weekdays and once you get into the off-road tracks in the park it becomes more what we expected.

Tomorrow we will travel south-east to Kangaroo Valley.

Three Sisters

Three Sisters

Three Sisters view from the rainforest

Three Sisters view from the rainforest


The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains

Skyway

Skyway

Katoomba Falls and the Three Sisters

Katoomba Falls and the Three Sisters

Katoomba Cascades

Katoomba Cascades

Govetts Leap

Govetts Leap

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

Eroded rock at Evans Lookout

Eroded rock at Evans Lookout

Mount Victoria Station

Mount Victoria Station

Posted by KobusM 20:36 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Newcastle

New South Wales

overcast 21 °C

Some parts of Newcastle in New South Wales has a striking resemblence to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK, Lorraine's home town. The coastline at Bar Beach reminded us a lot of the Marsden coastline south of Newcastle in the UK. The coal heaps at the coal terminals reminds Lorraine of the Hebburn coal heaps in the 80s. It even has a Gateshead suburb and Hebburn Close street.

The discovery of Newcastle by Lieutenant Shortland in September, 1797, was largely accidental. Shortland had been sent in search of a number of convicts who had seized the Cumberland as she was sailing from Sydney Cove. He reported on the abundance of coal and eventually the settlement was re-named Newcastle, after England's famous coal port. A settlement was established in 1804 as a place of secondary punishment for unruly convicts.

Famous for its coal, Newcastle is presently the largest coal exporting harbour in the world, exporting over 97 Mt of coal in 2009–10 with plans to expand annual capacity to 180 Mt by 2013. It is interesting to see the big coal ships navigate their way up the Hunter with the aid of tug boats and the huge coal loading yards on the shors of the Hunter. Newcastle is Australia's sixth largest city and the largest which is not a capital.

There are few cities in the world beyond Newcastle that can say their city centre is surrounded by eight beaches. Merewether, Newcastle, Nobbys, and Bar Beach in particular are popular surfing and fishing locations, and are conveniently located close to the city centre. We stayed at Stockton Beach with the centre of the city just a ferry ride away.

The Land Cruiser went in for its 30,000 km service in Newcastle and we took the opportunity to explore the city whilst the vehicle was being serviced. We did the Newcastle East Heritage Walk that took us past Customs House, the Convict Lumber Yard, Fort Scratchley, Newcastle Ocean Baths and Beach, and several historic convict-era buildings. Fort Scratchley was built in 1882 to defend the city against a possible Russian attack. However, its guns were not fired in anger until 8 June 1942, during the shelling of Newcastle by a Japanese submarine. We also took the opportunity to watch the latest James Bond movie Skyfall and we are both of the opinion that it is the best bond movie made to date.

True to the form of its UK sister city, the Newcastle skies were dull and grey the whole time we were there, as can be seen on the photos.

From Newcastle we will travel south-west to the Blue Mountains, avoiding Sydney as we have both been to Sydney a number of times before.

Newcastle Beach

Newcastle Beach

Newcastle coal terminal

Newcastle coal terminal

Coal ship entering the Hunter

Coal ship entering the Hunter

Bar Beach

Bar Beach

East Newcastle architecture

East Newcastle architecture

East Newcastle

East Newcastle

Fort Scratchley guns

Fort Scratchley guns

Nobbys Beach

Nobbys Beach

Ocean Baths

Ocean Baths

Residential Warehouse Precinct

Residential Warehouse Precinct

Posted by KobusM 23:15 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Myall Lakes National Park

Picturesque coastal lakes

semi-overcast 26 °C

Myall Lakes National Park, on the north coast not far from Newcastle, features one of New South Wales' largest coastal lake systems, and was for us reminiscent of the Swedish lakes and for Lorraine of the Lake District in the UK.

We first camped at one of the coastal camps called Yagon, just south of the picturesque Seal Rocks, where we met a nice couple from Brisbane also camping with a Quantum. We then moved to a very pretty site on the shores of the Myall Lake, called Mungo Brush. We had to cross Myall Lake with the Bombah ferry to get to the southern, coastal part of the park. At Mungo Brush there is easy access to some of the park’s walking tracks, including the Mungo Brush Rainforest walk and a 8km return walk to Tamboy, an old fishing village on the lake. Being right on the lake means there are great opportunities for bird watching and we saw numerous black swans and pelicans on the lake. We also saw Lace Monitors and Water Dragons. If you get bored at the lake it is a short walk from the campground to the ocean beach, where you go swimming or fishing.

There were a couple of dingoes constantly patrolling the campgrounds and our neighbours told us not to leave our shoes out at night because the dingoes steal them, although the dingoes we saw didn't wear any of the stolen shoes. The local Kookaburras were also very skilled in stealing food, especially sausages from barbeques.

Some of the local pensioner regulars went out on the first evening evening at dusk to catch prawns, dragging a huge net through the shallow waters. They didn't catch much and so did a big group of coal miners from the Hunter Valley that arrived on the second day.

Myall Lake is a peaceful place and Mungo Brush Campsite rated very high by us, especially if you can get one of the lakefront sites.

We plan to travel down to Newcastle today.

Seal Rocks Bay

Seal Rocks Bay

Seal Rocks

Seal Rocks


Bombah ferry

Bombah ferry

Mungo Brush campsite

Mungo Brush campsite

Black Swans on Myall Lake

Black Swans on Myall Lake

Myall Lake from Mungo Brush

Myall Lake from Mungo Brush

Kookaburras

Kookaburras


Dingo

Dingo


Myall Lake

Myall Lake

Why you should watch your barbeque all the time

Why you should watch your barbeque all the time


Prawn trawling

Prawn trawling


Blue-faced Honeyeater

Blue-faced Honeyeater

Tamboy fishing village

Tamboy fishing village

Water Dragon

Water Dragon

Yawny, Sleepy and Itchy

Yawny, Sleepy and Itchy

Posted by KobusM 12:30 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Fish Rock Cave

Ocean cavern diving

rain 22 °C

The island of Fish Rock, about 2 nautical miles east of Smoky Cape, gives no indication of the splendor that lies underneath it as you approach it. I have never done a proper cave dive and it was a thrill entering a 125 metre long cave and travelling right through the centre of a small island and back in one dive. Well known as one of the largest ocean caverns in the southern hemisphere, Fish Rock Cave is voted as one of the 10 best dives in Australia.

The cave dive started with a sighting of a huge wobbegong shark and a large bull ray resting on the bottom. Also at the entrance of the cave were two decorator crabs with huge pieces of sponge on their backs. Further into the cave we saw many wobbegongs. As we descended down one of the two vertical chimneys with only our torches' light piercing the darkness, we saw many glowing eyes from hundreds of painted crayfish following our progress. We glided past grey nurse sharks, also known as ragged tooth sharks and a huge loggerhead turtle.

The shallow end of the cave is also spectacular. Silhouetted in the opening are thousands of bullseyes, gorgonian coral fans, trumpetfish, black cod and many other species of fish.

On the second dive we dived on the eastern side of Fish Rick Island looking for grey nurse sharks. We found many and it is amazing how close you can get to these docile creatures. We also saw big wrasses, turtles, moray eels and an octopus.

Two nice and different dives. It was just a little too cold to my liking with the water temperature at 22 degrees centigrade and I was diving with a 3mm wetsuit and Sharkskin vest.

We are on our way again tomorrow, heading south to Crowdy Bay National Park and then on to Myall Lakes National Park.

Fish Rock Cave sketch

Fish Rock Cave sketch

Fish Rock Cave

Fish Rock Cave

Bullseyes

Bullseyes

Decorator Crab

Decorator Crab

Entrance to the cave

Entrance to the cave

Grey nurse shark

Grey nurse shark

Loggerhead turtle

Loggerhead turtle

Moray eel in Fish Rock Cave

Moray eel in Fish Rock Cave

Batfish

Batfish

Moray eel

Moray eel

Octopus

Octopus

Scorpion fish

Scorpion fish

Wobbegong shark

Wobbegong shark

Wobbegong

Wobbegong

Posted by KobusM 21:55 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Arakoon National Park

Camping next to the Trial Bay Gaol

overcast 26 °C

We travelled south from Yuraygir National Park and decided to camp at Trial Bay Gaol instead of Hat Head National Park. Trial Bay Gaol Campgrounds are in the Arakoon National Park and have nice sites overlooking Trial Bay and is situated next to the historic Trial Bay Gaol.

Trial Bay had been recognised as a safe shipping refuge from easterly gales ever since it’s naming after the wrecking of the Brig Trial in 1817. Between 1863 and 1866 some 90 ships and 243 lives were lost along this coast, forcing the NSW Colonial government to act. In 1870 Parliament voted £10,000 towards the construction of a breakwater to form a “harbour of safe refuge” at Trial Bay. The Trial Bay Gaol was established in 1876 as an experimental Public Works Gaol where the inmates would construct the breakwater and it opened in 1886, after 13 years of construction. The breakwater was not completed as planned, failing due to bad engineering and the gaol was abandoned. With the onset of World War 1, the old gaol was given a new lease of life as it became an internment camp for people of German descent who were feared to be enemy sympathisers. The goal finally closed down in 1918 and was stripped of all fixtures and left as a ruin. The goal is an interesting place to visit and what intrigued me was the relic of an old rock drill and breaker that was used to mine the large blocks of granite from the quarry nearby. The rock drill looks very similar to rock drills manufactured today.

Trial Bay and Arakoon National Park is a refuge for many Lesser Crested Terns, Grey Kangaroos, Laughing Kookaburras and Australian Wood Ducks.

I dived Fish Rock Cave while we were staying at Trial Bay and will post this as a separate blog entry.

Trial Bay sunset

Trial Bay sunset

Trial Bay Goal

Trial Bay Goal

Trial Bay Goal cells

Trial Bay Goal cells

Old rock drill and breaker in Trial Bay Goal

Old rock drill and breaker in Trial Bay Goal

Lesser Crested Terns

Lesser Crested Terns

Laughing Kookaburra

Laughing Kookaburra

Grey kangaroo with joey

Grey kangaroo with joey

Australian Wood Duck

Australian Wood Duck

Posted by KobusM 21:09 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Yuraygir National Park

Coastal wonderland

sunny 28 °C

After Washpool National Park we returned to the warmer east coast to camp at Yuraygir National Park which is a coastal wonderland with isolated beaches, quiet lake systems and striking scenery. Positioned between Yamba and Coffs Harbour, the park boasts the state’s longest stretch of undeveloped coastline, 60 km long.

We camped at Illaroo Campground north of the small village called Minnie Water. We found a fantastic spot amongst banksias overlooking the beach and the bay. Protecting the diverse marine values of estuaries, beaches, rock platforms and offshore waters adjacent to Yuraygir National Park is the Solitary Islands Marine Park, a multiple use marine protected area. There were many coastal birds to observe like Butcherbirds, Whimbrels, Lapwings, Herons and White-Bellied Sea-Eagles. The campsite is also frequented by large Lace Monitors.

We left Yuraygir feeling much warmer than we did when we left Washpool and we headed south towards Coffs Harbour and Hat Head National Park. On the way we stopped at Woolgoolga (known as “Whoopi” by the locals) to visit the magnificent Sikh Temple in the town. Woolgoolga was predominantly built by Sikh immigrants from the Punjab region in India, who came in the 1940s to work the banana plantations. Today, most of the town’s banana industry is owned and operated by Australians of Sikh ancestry.

In Coffs Harbour we had to find a replacement jockey wheel for the Quantum that was damaged when we crossed the Gibb River in the northern Kimberley 6 months ago. The handle finally broke off in Washpool and we had to unhitch the Quantum with its stabilizer legs when we camped in Yuarygir.

We will spend 3-4 days in Hat Head National Park or Trial Bay and I plan dive Fish Rock Cave while we are there.

Illaroo campsite

Illaroo campsite

View through the banksias

View through the banksias

Brahminy Kite

Brahminy Kite

Butcherbird

Butcherbird

Rocky Point

Rocky Point

Lace Monitor

Lace Monitor

Masked Lapwing

Masked Lapwing

Whimbrel

Whimbrel

White-bellied Sea-Eagle with fish

White-bellied Sea-Eagle with fish

White-faced Heron

White-faced Heron

Rocky Point

Rocky Point

Sikh temple in Woolgoolga

Sikh temple in Woolgoolga

Posted by KobusM 23:18 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Washpool National Park

World Heritage Listed Gondwana rainforests

rain 13 °C

The Washpool National Park is part of the World Heritage listed Gondwana rainforests of Australia and include the most extensive areas of subtropical rainforest in the world. The Gondwana Rainforests are so-named because the fossil record indicates that Gondwana (a supercontinent from the Mesozoic era which included Antarctica, South America, Africa, Madagascar and Australia) was covered by rainforests containing the same kinds of species that are living today.

Washpool National Park is located 150 kilometers inland from the coast, at an altitude of 1100 meters above sea level in the Great Dividing Range. We camped at Bellbird Campground which offers secluded campsites where you can relax in privacy and enjoy life in the rainforest.

Birdwatching is an absolute pleasure here with the amazing Superb Lyrebird, a master of mimicry and song, our favourite. Lyrebirds are the world’s largest songbirds and its songs sound like a mixture of a parrot and other birds (video attached below) and the male and female both have two long “lyre” tail feathers. The Superb Lyrebird features on the Australian 10c coin. Another amazing bird that lives in these rainforests is the Satin Bowerbird that collects blue objects like washing pegs, bottle tops, rope and pieces of plastic that matches the colour of his eyes to impress the females. We left a blue peg out and it was not long before he discovered it and flew off with it to proudly add it to his collection. A Pied Currawong took a fancy in our campsite, maybe because we were the only campers around, trying to scavenge scraps. It had a go at our thawing boerewors sausage but luckily I managed to save the boerewors.

Some of Australia’s rarest and most unusual creatures can be found here, like the pouched frog, the long-nosed potoroo, and the beautiful, cat-like spotted-tailed quoll. The pouched frog is a terrestrial, marsupial frog that carries tadpoles in a pouch after hatching. The spotted-tailed quoll, also known as the Tiger quoll, is the Australian continent’s largest carnivorous marsupial. We did not spot the frog or the potoroo but I spotted the quoll one night in the bushes but did not manage to photograph it. We also had regular visits from a huge, dog-size possum that made mess of our garbage bag and ended up on top of the kitchen looking for scraps of food in the middle of the night, keeping us out of sleep. Apart from the scavenging possum there were no other creatures to annoy us; no flies, mosquitos, horse flies, ants or sand flies. A very nice place to camp!

The day we arrived it had rained the day before and the forest was already very damp and cold. It started to rain again soon after we have set up camp and it rained the rest of the day day and night. The second day was still drizzly and damp, but with a dry spell that allowed us to do a pleasant walk in the rainforest and along the Coombadjha Creek. We eventually left Washpool having had a nice time in the rainforest but it just became too damp and cold for comfort. We headed back to the coast to camp at Yuraygir National Park.

Bellbird campsite

Bellbird campsite

Gondwana rainforest

Gondwana rainforest

Coombadjha Creek

Coombadjha Creek

Coombadjha Pool

Coombadjha Pool

Superb Lyrebird

Superb Lyrebird

Superb Lyrebird scrubbing for worms

Superb Lyrebird scrubbing for worms

Superb Lyrebird showing off

Superb Lyrebird showing off

Satin Bowerbird with its collection of blue decorations

Satin Bowerbird with its collection of blue decorations

Pied Currawong

Pied Currawong

Rainforest snail

Rainforest snail

Posted by KobusM 20:07 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Bundjalung National Park

Our first stay in New South Wales

semi-overcast 27 °C

From the Gold Coast we travelled south and crossed the border into New South Wales on our way to Bundjalung National Park. We drove through Byron Bay wgich is a nice little holiday town. Just south of Lennox Head we stopped at a lookout to watch hang gliders using the strong breeze to glide over the cliffs and long stretches of beach.

Bundjalung National Park is on the north coast of New South Wales, 200 km south of the Gold Coast and our first stay in New South Wales on this tour. It protects an area of coastal plain, heathland, lagoons, wetlands, littoral rainforests and 38 kilometers of solitary beaches between the towns of Iluka and Evans Head. We camped at the popular Woody Head Campground next to a wide bay in the southern part of the park. The campgound is frequented by kangaroos and many birds. It is the first time we observed the Australasian Green Figbird.

The park is named after the Bundjalung Aboriginal people, the original occupiers of the land, and features extensive evidence of Aboriginal middens and campsites throughout its area, legacy of the Bundjalung peoples who occupied this area for thousands of years.

The park features coffee rock formations, rock-like formations of indurated sands that were formed from ancient river sediments of the Pleistocene age. Some of the rocks have interesting erosion marks and some contain fossilised wood.

It was windy during our stay and the last afternoon it rained heavilly. We therefore avoided the beach most of the time. From here we will travel west inland to Washpool National Park which is part of the World Heritage listed Gondwana rainforests of Australia.

Lennox Head hang gliding

Lennox Head hang gliding

Woody Head

Woody Head

Eroded rocks at Woody Head

Eroded rocks at Woody Head

Eroded rocks

Eroded rocks

Fosiilised wood

Fosiilised wood

Masked Lapwing

Masked Lapwing

Australasian Green Figbird

Australasian Green Figbird

Posted by KobusM 20:30 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Gold Coast

Our last stay in Queensland

sunny 28 °C

The Gold Coast is a major tourist destination with its sunny subtropical climate, surfing beaches, canal and waterway systems, its high-rise dominated skyline, theme parks and nightlife...... not really our scene but we decided to stay a few days to explore it for ourselves.

We stayed in the Broadwater Tourist Park in Southport, which is right on the water's edge and directly across the water from Sea World and Marina Mirage with views of Surfers Paradise high-rises.

We ruled out visiting any of the theme parks. Who wants to spend time and pay to visit Sea World, Outback Spectacular or Paradise Country when we have experienced these places in reality during our tour of Australia? So we decided to rent a boat and spent a day on the Broadwater, a magnificent expanse of safe, calm waters between the mainland, The Spit and Wavebreak Island. We dropped anchor at a couple of spots and enjoyed the day. We also cruised around Paradise Waters to Cronin Island, along Chevron Island and Sovereign Island, admiring the magnificent homes and architecture that graces these exclusive areas.

The day we arrived we visited the famous Surfers Paradise where the Navy Surf Rowers National Premiership was held. Elite crews from around Australia delighting the on-shore crowd as they push their boats and themselves to the limit. Surf boats, traditional surf lifesaving vessels, are crewed by four rowers and a 'sweep' that steers the boat with a tiller. While the introduction of inflatable rescue boats spelt the retirement of surf boats as rescue vehicles, the culture built up around the boats has ensured they remain central to surf lifesaving competition.

This morning we drove north to Yatala to pick up our mail from our mail-forwarding service provider and was surprised to find the owner is an ex-South African. Afterwards we enjoyed some of the famous Yatala pies before we went to Sanctuary Cove to have a look around because I visited there in 1998 to represent South Africa at the International Accreditation Forum (IAF).

Tomorrow we will depart from the Gold Coast, cross the border into New South Wales, adjust our clocks one hour ahead and travel to Bundjalung National Park.

We have spent almost 4 months in Queensland and really enjoyed it, especially Cape York, Far Northern Tropical Queensland and the Sunshine Coast. The Gold Coast was also special in its own way.

Surfers Paradise

Surfers Paradise

Surf boat on Surfers Paradise

Surf boat on Surfers Paradise

Navy surf boat competition

Navy surf boat competition

Winners from NSW

Winners from NSW

Fantastic houses!

Fantastic houses!

Gold Coast lifestyle

Gold Coast lifestyle

Gold Coast

Gold Coast

Our caravan park

Our caravan park


Surfers Paradise

Surfers Paradise


Sanctuary Cove Marina

Sanctuary Cove Marina

Posted by KobusM 16:00 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Brisbane

Pleasant Brizzy

semi-overcast 28 °C

Brisbane, or Brizzy as the Australians call it, is the capital and most populous city in the state of Queensland and the third most populous city in Australia after Sydney and Melbourne, with 2,15 million people in the metropolitan area.

The first European settlement in Queensland was a penal colony at Redcliffe, 28 kilometers north of the Brisbane CBD, in 1824. That settlement was soon abandoned and moved to North Quay in 1825. Free settlers were permitted from 1842. Brisbane was chosen as the capital when Queensland was proclaimed a separate colony from New South Wales in 1859.

We are not fond of big cities and Brisbane is no exception; it felt just too busy after living in the bush, on the beach and in small places for so long. But it did have some appeal and the lazy subtropical climate and the gently curving Brisbane River with its magnificent bridges could have something to do with its appeal. It is a modern city with a free spirited outlook and a determination to do things just that little bit differently, like creating a sandy beach and rainforest right in the middle of the city. The caravan park was not nice but so are most caravan parks. The only entertainment was the Sulphur-crested Cockatoos that fed on seeds in the tree above our caravan and created a mess doing so.

We spent the first day driving to the Mount Coot-tha lookout and visiting the Daisy Hill Koala Center 25 km south of Brisbane. Koalas are sweet and nice to watch but they are not the most active marsupials to observe.

The second day we did a cruise on the Brisbane River, a ride on the Wheel of Brisbane and lunch at the Surf Club on the South Bank. The river cruise was relaxing and informative and the Wheel gives spectacular 360 degree panoramic views of Brisbane City. After that we strolled past the city beach and through the rainforest and spotted a Water Dragon.

We will travel down to the Gold Coast tomorrow morning.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

Sleeping Koala

Sleeping Koala

View of Brisbane from Mt Coot-tha

View of Brisbane from Mt Coot-tha

Story Bridge

Story Bridge

New and old Brisbane

New and old Brisbane

Brisbane River cruise

Brisbane River cruise

The Wheel of Brisbane

The Wheel of Brisbane

Brisbane City from the Wheel

Brisbane City from the Wheel

Brisbane City Beach

Brisbane City Beach

Water Dragon in Brisbane Rainforest

Water Dragon in Brisbane Rainforest

Posted by KobusM 22:59 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Sunshine Coast

Caloundra: Hometown of the Quantum

semi-overcast 27 °C

Caloundra is the southernmost town on the Sunshine Coast and has a population of approximately 45,000. It is a pleasant seaside town with lots of restaurants and cafes and has been named as Australia's tidiest town. We went to a local Thai restaurant on the first night and I had Moreton Bay bugs, commonly named in Australia after the location they are caught just south of Caloundra. Their proper name is Thenus Orientalis and it is a species of flathead lobster found in the Indian and Pacific oceans. They are huge and even one bug is a healthy meal.

Caloundra has two interesting lighthouses next to each other, the older one built in 1896 and the newer one built in 1967. It is great that the old one was not demolished but kept and restored.

Whilst driving through Caloundra Lorraine spotted a sign advertising biltong, boerewors and SA groceries at a local Foodworks, so we stopped to stock up on dry wors, biltong, Ouma rusks and Cape Malay curry mix. We had a long chat with the owner who is an ex-Zimbabwean and has been living on the Sunshine Coast for the last 10 years. He told us that there are many South Africans living in the area.

The Sunshine Coast covers an area from Noosa in the north, Maroochydore in the center and Caloundra in the south, with many other beautiful beachside localities like Mooloolaba and Marcoola. Unfortunately the Sunshine Coast did not live up to its name for the first 3 days of our stay as it was overcast, rainy and cool. Well, we can't have sunshine all the time! We liked Caloundra and the Sunshine Coast and it is certainly a nice place to live.

The Quantum spent two days at the manufacturers, Australian Off Road Campers, in Caloundra for some warranty repairs and service and is now ready as new for the second half of our tour around Australia. The second half will not be as grueling as the first half that we took through the Pilbara, far northern Kimberley, Cobourg Peninsula and Cape York which inflicted some minor damage to the Quantum, fortunately most of it covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. We rented a waterfront cabin in the Caloundra Waterfront Holiday Park with nice views of Moreton Bay and Bribie Island whilst the Quantum was being repaired and welcomed the change from caravan life.

From Caloundra we will travel to Brisbane and the Gold Coast but will only stay 3 days in each as we are not too fond of big cities.

View from Caloundra Waterfront Holiday Village

View from Caloundra Waterfront Holiday Village


Pelicans

Pelicans

Caloundra lighthouses

Caloundra lighthouses


Relaxing Caloundra

Relaxing Caloundra


Foodworks sign

Foodworks sign


Caloundra sunset

Caloundra sunset

Posted by KobusM 14:28 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Noosa North Shore

Beachside camping

sunny 29 °C

After the episode getting bogged in soft sand on Fraser Island we were hesitant to travel from Rainbow Beach to Teewha Beach via the beach and checked with locals. They advised us that both the beach and the inland 4WD tracks have very soft sand and are very boggy. We therefore abandoned the Teewha Beach idea and travelled directly to our next destination at Noosa North Shore. We had to take a vehicle ferry to get across the Noosa River and chose a nice beachside campsite at Noosa North Shore Camp Area. The campsite is large with lots of space and kangaroos, Pacific black ducks, Australian brush turkeys, banded lap wings, rainbow lorikeets and banana birds frequently visiting our campsite.

The first day the south-easterly was still blowing strong but on the second day it calmed down and we drove north on the beach into the Cooloola section of the Great Sandy National Park to a spot with coloured sand cliffs to enjoy lunch on the beach. The third day was nice and warm and I tried to do some fishing from the beach while Lorraine was studying. Noosa North Shore is a nice, relaxing, beachside camping area.

From Noosa we will travel down the Sunshine Coast to Caloundra to get warranty repairs and service done on the Quantum by the original manufacturers, Australian Off Road Campers. The most important repair is the leak in the back water tank that most probably happened on the Frenchmans track in Cape York Peninsula.

Cooloola beach

Cooloola beach

Early morning sunshine

Early morning sunshine

Feeding kangaroos at dusk

Feeding kangaroos at dusk

Can I have some of that?

Can I have some of that?

Pacific Black Duck

Pacific Black Duck

Rainbow Lorikeet

Rainbow Lorikeet

Posted by KobusM 23:30 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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