A Travellerspoint blog

October 2012

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)

Fraser Island

World Heritage listed Great Sandy National Park

sunny 27 °C

Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world and stretches 123 kilometres in length and 22 kilometres at its widest point. It is the biggest island on the Australian East Coast and forms part of the Great Sandy National Park which was World Heritage listed in 1992. The island has a diverse landscape which includes rainforests, eucalyptus woodland, mangrove forests, wallum and peat swamps, sand dunes and coastal heaths.

Fraser Island is a place of exceptional beauty, with its long uninterrupted white beaches flanked by strikingly coloured sand cliffs, and over 100 freshwater lakes, some tea-coloured and others clear and blue all ringed by white sandy beaches. Ancient, cool rainforests grow in sand (the only palce in the world) along the banks of fast-flowing, crystal-clear creeks.

The Butchulla people are the indigenous people of Fraser Island and their name for Fraser Island was K'gari which means paradise. According to Butchulla legend, Fraser Island was named K'gari after the beautiful spirit who helped Yindingie, messenger of the great god Beeral, create the land. As a reward to K'gari for her help Beeral changed her into an idyllic island with trees, flowers and lakes. He put birds, animals and people on the island to keep her company. Captain Cook first sighted the Fraser Island Butchulla people during 1770 when he sailed close past the island and named Indian Head on the eastern beach after them.

We took the Land Cruiser and Quantum over on a vehicle ferry and deflated the tyres before we cruised because all roads on Fraser are sandy 4WD tracks, some of them very rough and boggy. On the east coast of Fraser Island the 75 Mile Beach is used as a highway and you can travel up to 80km/h around low tide. The island is a 4WD paradise but also treacherous as we learned on our last day.

Our fist stay was for a couple of nights at a campsite in the middle of the island called Central Station, right in the middle of an ancient rainforest. This is close to Lake McKenzie, Lake Birrabeen and Lake Waddy and we took the scenic drives to visit the central lakes.

From Central Station we travelled north on the beach "highway" on Seventy-Five Mile Beach to Dundubara where we camped for three nights. On the way to Dundubara we stopped at the famous wreck of the Maheno. Built in 1905 in Scotland, the SS Maheno was one of the first turbine-driven steamers. She steamed a regular route between Sydney and Auckland until she was commissioned as a hospital ship in Europe during World War One. In 1935, she and her sister ship the Oonah were sold to Japan for scrap. The rudders of the boats were removed and they were being towed to Japan when a cyclonic storm snapped the tow chain and the Maheno drifted helplessly onto Fraser Island's Seventy-Five Mile Beach where she is still lying today. During the Second World War she served as target bombing practice for the RAAF which accelarated her destruction.

Behind the Dundubara campgrounds is the Wungul Sandblow, one of 43 large sandblows on the island. There is a walking trail to the sandblow and once on the sand it feels as if you are in a desert. These sandblows advancesa at a rate of one meter a year and engulf everything in their path even very tall trees.

From Dundubara we travelled north (only with the Land Cruiser) on the beach to Indian Head to check out the boggy inland track arounfd Indian Head to Waddy Point where we were booked to camp for the last four nights. It turned out to be too soft and boggy to risk taking the Quantum through it and we decided to change to a beach campsite just south of Dundubarra. The weather was ideal with no wind, just a gentle sea breeze to cool you down, making beach camping a fantastic experience. We saw Humpback Whales everyday and they entertained us for hours on end with their breaching and pec slapping.

During our stay on Fraser Island we saw dingoes on the eastern beach on four occasions. Whilst camping on the beach one dingo came very close for an inspection of the Quantum. Fraser Island dingoes are the purest strain of this fine predator in Australia.

On the 10th day of our stay on the island we packed up and travelled 80 km south on the beach to the most southern point Hook Point, to take the vehicle barge to Inskip Point on the mainland. A south-easterly wind was blowing at gale force and the low tide turned into high tide due to the sea surge. The last 10 km on the beach is very narrow and only recommended at low tide so we decided to take the inland track to Hook Point to be safe. On our first attempt to get off the beach and on to the ramp we got bogged down in soft sand. We decided to reverse and after shoveling for an hour we got the vehicles unbogged and I tried to go up the ramp again at higher speed but got bogged again. I tried to winch the vehicles out but we only moved about 10 meters before they became bogged solid in the the soft sand. A local tour operator from Sunshine Beach stopped to help us (many other vehicles just drove past without an offer to help) and he and the guys on his tour helped us to unhitch the Landcruiser, winch it out, turn it around and winch the Quantum out with the guys keeping the jockey wheel on the roller tracks that I bought for an occasion like this. After two hours we finally got the vehicles unbogged and we drove to the barge to get to the mainland, relieved again that we did not need to call for a recovery vehicle to rescue us.

We were supposed to continue our travel in the Great Sandy National Park (Cooloola section) today and drive south on the beach to camp at Teewha Beach but the tides were not in our favour due to the delay getting bogged. We are staying over at Rainbow Beach for the night and will attempt the beach drive to Teewha Beach tomorrow morning at low tide.

Lake McKenzie beach

Lake McKenzie beach


Lake Birrabeen

Lake Birrabeen

Lake Wabby

Lake Wabby

Central Station campsite

Central Station campsite

75 Mile Beach highway

75 Mile Beach highway

Dingo on the beach

Dingo on the beach

Forest scenic drive

Forest scenic drive

Forest canopy

Forest canopy

Maheno Wreck

Maheno Wreck


Beach relaxing

Beach relaxing

Boomerang Lakes

Boomerang Lakes

Sandblow casualty

Sandblow casualty

Turtle in Lake Allom

Turtle in Lake Allom

Wanggoolba Creek

Wanggoolba Creek


Campsite on 75 Mile Beach

Campsite on 75 Mile Beach


Sand pattern on 75 Mile Beach

Sand pattern on 75 Mile Beach


Humpback Whale breaching

Humpback Whale breaching

Winching the Quantum

Winching the Quantum

Posted by KobusM 00:02 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Town of 1770 and Lady Musgrave Island

James Cook's first landing in Queensland

sunny 26 °C

The Town of 1770 is a holiday village built on the site of the second landing in Australia by Lt. James Cook and the crew of the Endeavour in May 1770. This was Cook's first landing in what is now the state of Queensland. The second landing was in Cooktown after the Edeavour struck a reef and they were forced to make a landing. Originally known as Round Hill – after the creek it sits on – the name was changed in 1970 to commemorate the bicentennial of Cook's visit.

We stayed in Agnes Water Beach Caravan Park with a nice ocean view. Agnes Water has the most northerly surfing beach on Australia's east coast and also a holiday village close to the Town of 1770.

1770 is ideally situated to take a day trip to one of the most southern cays in the Great Barrier Reef, called Lady Musgrave Island, which is part of the Capricornia Cays National Park. Lady Musgrave Island and Lagoon is the only island and lagoon combined in the outer Great Barrier Reef where big ferries can enter the lagoon. I did the day trip with two dives and Lorraine stayed in the caravan to catch up with her studies. The dives were not as good as on Heron Island bust still above average.

From here we will travel south to World Heritage listed Fraser Island which we expect to be another highlight of our tour. We will be camping in three different locations on Fraser Island over the next ten days.

Bustard Bay from 1770

Bustard Bay from 1770


Cook monument in 1770

Cook monument in 1770

Agnes Water

Agnes Water

Agnes Water beach

Agnes Water beach

1770 Marina

1770 Marina

Lady Musgrave Island

Lady Musgrave Island


Lined Rabbitfish

Lined Rabbitfish


Sea snake

Sea snake

Green Sergeants

Green Sergeants

Coral hills

Coral hills

Aquarium

Aquarium

Green turtle

Green turtle

Posted by KobusM 01:55 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Heron Island

Coral cay in the Great Barrier Reef

sunny 26 °C

Heron Island is a coral cay located near the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Great Barrier Reef, 72 kilometers north-east of Gladstone. The island is situated on the leeward side of Heron Reef, a fringing platform reef of significant biodiversity and is about 800 meters long and 300 meters at its widest. The island began forming around 6,000 years ago but was only discovered in 1843 by Francis Blackwood on the H.M.S Fly while looking for shipping channels through the Great Barrier Reef. The ship's geologist named it Heron Island after he noticed the large number of reef herons feeding on the cay's reef, but in my view it should have been named Noddy Island as Black Noddy Terns dominate the island. The island did not become inhabited until the early 20th century when a turtle cannery was established, aiming to profit from the seasonal influx of green turtles, but the venture soon found it difficult to keep the business afloat. Fortunately for nature lovers other attempts at establishing fisheries were abandoned and in the 1930s the lease was taken over by Captain Christian Poulsen who saw the island's potential as a holiday destination. Poulsen built the resort and organised the ferrying of tourists firstly by boat, then, after purchasing ex-RAAF seaplanes, by plane. In 1943 Poulsen noticed a damaged naval vessel abandoned on a beach near Gladstone and decided it would make a useful breakwater and bought the ship (HMCS Protector, circa 1884) for 10 pounds and towed it to the island. The wreck is one of the first things visitors to the island see and it's a popular spot for one of the island's visiting birds, the large Brown Booby, to roost. On 11 September 1943 the entire island was declared a National Park, called the Carpricornia Cays National Park. Five years later Poulsen went missing in in a dingy in nearby waters.

Heron Island Resort is a fantastic place to wind down and to enjoy the Great Barrier Reef. We have come here to celebrate the half-way mark of our Big Lap of Australia and to take a break from camping and caravan life. We left the Land Cruiser and the Quantum in Gladstone and boarded the luxurious catamaran ferry for a two hour cruise to the island. The island is not accessible for day-trippers and is a haven for scuba divers and snorkelers. Strangely, the island is in a different time-zone than Queensland, one hour ahead, maybe to demonstrate the isolation from the mainland. We arrived in perfect conditions and the weather was great the rest of the time.

I have read that Jacques Cousteau had named Heron Island as one of the top 10 dive spots in the world, and I was eager to slip below the surface to test this. Heron has 60% of the 1500 species of fish and about 70% of the hard and soft coral varieties of the Barrier Reef, making the underwater world a feast of colour and life. The visibility underwater was amazing at 25-30 meter and the coral gardens breathtaking. I enjoyed all five dives and will rate them high on my top list of dives. But you don't have to scuba dive to enjoy the reef. Snorkeling is just as good and can be done in the shallow water from the beach at the resort.

We loved Heron Island and is certainly one of the highlights of our Big Lap trip. We will depart for the Town of 1770 tomorrow and hopefully get a chance to visit the most southern cay of the Capricornia Cays National Park and the Great Barrier Reef on a day trip from 1770.

Heron Island airial view

Heron Island airial view


Heron Island crystal clear water

Heron Island crystal clear water


Pristine beaches on Heron Island

Pristine beaches on Heron Island

Heron Island harbour

Heron Island harbour

Wreck of the HMCS Protector

Wreck of the HMCS Protector

Black Noddy Tern

Black Noddy Tern

Barramundi Cod

Barramundi Cod

Coral wonderland

Coral wonderland

Fuseliers

Fuseliers

Green Turtle

Green Turtle

Lionfish

Lionfish

Scorpionfish

Scorpionfish

Spotted Sweetlips

Spotted Sweetlips


Longfin Batfish

Longfin Batfish


Semicircle Angelfish

Semicircle Angelfish


Nudibranch

Nudibranch

Posted by KobusM 02:06 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Cape Hillsborough National Park

Volcanic headlands, rainforests and mangroves

overcast 27 °C

Cape Hillsborough National Park is 50 km north of Mackay and combines rainforests with volcanic headlands and broad sandy beaches. Captain James Cook named Cape Hillsborough during his voyage in 1770 as he sailed up the Queensland coast. Today, diverse habitats make up this small, but interesting, national park. Lowland rainforest and vine forest grow along creeks, valleys and hillside gullies. A large mangrove forest along Sand Bay is an important breeding area for marine animals. Hills and headlands support grass trees and eucalypt forests; and the striking rock formations are evidence of the area’s volcanic past.

We camped at the Cape Hillsborough Nature Resort at Andrews Point where there are a number of walking tracks to explore the national park. It was very windy and rainy the first couple of days but it cleared on the third day, allowing us to do a couple of the walking tracks with sweeping views of the area. The camp area was also frequented by kangaroos, possums and brush-turkeys.

We are now roughly half-way through our Big Lap tour and decided to spoil ourselves with a 4 day stay in a cabin on Heron Island in the Great Barrier Reef. We travelled down to Gladstone today to park the Land Cruiser and Quantum and then take a ferry to Heron Island tomorrow morning.

Cape Hillsborough

Cape Hillsborough


Cape Hillsborough beach

Cape Hillsborough beach

Fungi in the forest

Fungi in the forest

Cycads

Cycads

Grass trees

Grass trees

Mangrove forest

Mangrove forest

Australian Brush-turkey on its nest

Australian Brush-turkey on its nest

Volcanic rock formations

Volcanic rock formations

Ugly Possum

Ugly Possum

Cute Possums

Cute Possums

Posted by KobusM 00:52 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Hydeaway Bay

Quieter than Airlie Beach

semi-overcast 28 °C

We travelled south from Ayr to Airlie Beach and when we arrived in Airlie Beach found it to be heaving with tourists. Although we knew it was a long weekend in school holidays we were still surprised how busy this little holiday village was. We booked into the Big4 Airlie Cove Caravan Park in Airlie Beach and battled to get the Quantum parked into a very tight spot. We eventually got it parked but then realised the angle was too steep to get the jockey wheel out without jacking the Quantum up. We asked for a bigger site but the ladies at reception were not very helpful, so we decided to get a refund and look for a camp site elsewhere.

We found a nice secluded caravan park in Hydeaway Bay, named after a local surveyor called Hyde. Hydeaway Bay is 65 km from Airlie Beach at the tip of the peninsula south of Gloucester Island National Park, with Dingo Beach close by.

The Cape Gloucester Eco Resort is just around the tip on the western side of the peninsula and we enjoyed a relaxing Sunday lunch there, listening to live music and enjoying the views over the bay and Gloucester Island. The next day we went back there to watch the sun set over the Port of Bowen Edgecumbe Bay.

Hydeaway Bay

Hydeaway Bay


Hydeaway Bay beach

Hydeaway Bay beach

Hydeaway Bay

Hydeaway Bay

Dingo Beach

Dingo Beach

Stinger barrier on Dingo Beach

Stinger barrier on Dingo Beach

Cape Gloucester Resort

Cape Gloucester Resort

Cape Gloucester

Cape Gloucester


Sunset at Cape Gloucester

Sunset at Cape Gloucester

Posted by KobusM 17:45 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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