Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Sunshine Coast & Brisbane area

Our base camp at Mooloolaba Beach Holiday Park was great for exploring the Sunshine Coast…. walking distance to excellent shops – loved Think Pinq!  plus the beach, marina and the Surf Life Saving Club for sundowners or lunch with friends Shauna and Allan.

Mooloolaba Beach 1 Mooloolaba Beach 2 Mooloolaba Beach 3 Mooloolaba Beach 4

Dadds & Smiths Mooloolaba Surf Club

Two great day trips stand out; firstly our drive north along the coast to explore the many beautiful beaches. We stopped in Noosa Heads to window-shop along the pretty streets, listen to live jazz in the mall, drool over amazing restaurant menus and finally settled on a gelato – too much choice! We returned south via the inland route and visited some sadly disappointing tourist spots (think overpriced and underwhelming).

Another fun trip was travelling west into the Hinterland, a big change from the coastal sun and surf, and we could easily have spent a week exploring this beautiful region. First stop was the Maleny Botanic Gardens and Bird World for beautiful views of the Glasshouse Mountains. The gardens were delightful, the Devonshire tea was magnificent (truly amazing scones with proper teapot and all!) but our top pick was the tour of the aviary which only opened last year. Our guide managed to impart so much information; survival tips e.g. which bird would pinch your earrings or hearing aids! as well as the history and habits of each bird species.

Maleny Botanic Gardens 1 Maleny Botanic Gardens 2 Glass House Mts 1

 

Exotic bird 7 Exotic bird 9 Exotic bird 12 Exotic bird 17 Finch with feather 4 Ginny with Macaos Macao 1 Major Mitchell 3 Swan chicks 1

Walking around the town of Maleny was a joy, especially when we discovered there were FOUR bookshops (we have been to many towns where there are none – so sad but apparently we are all buying our books online now?) The Pallet Life Gallery and Cafe was fun – our family is very fond of recycling pallets but there were lots of new ideas here, plus good coffee!

Ginny in pallet chair

Our stay at Brisbane Holiday Village was perfectly located (5 minutes from the city!) for us to catch up with friends. Brisbane is a hilly city, so our first stop was the highest peak Mt Coot-tha to get our bearings. This is a great spot with a botanic garden, a planetarium and many walking and bike trails to explore, plus a cafe for those in need.

Brisbane from Mt Cootha 1 Brisbane from Mt Cootha 2 Dragon Ginny Mt Cootha

Ian was keen to get photos of koalas so off we went to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. We sometimes feel ambivalent about going to wildlife parks or zoos as some just don’t measure up – both for the animals and the people visiting. However this sanctuary is not at all glitzy with the animals definitely being the stars, along with many knowledgable staff. Plus there is a waiting list for volunteers to join up (pretty rare these days!)

Les Patison 1

Of course the koalas were gorgeous, doing what they do best i.e. sleep and eat, and the one above really hammed it up for the camera – don’t you think he is grinning?!

Koala 3 Koala 1

The sanctuary rehabilitates all sorts of animals and birds that have been injured. Unfortunately many can’t return to the wild but here they play an important role in demonstrating their skills to us mere humans. This was very evident in the Birds of Prey display.

Wedge tail 2 Sea Eagle 5 Sea Eagle 3 Peregrine Falcon1 Barn Owl 4 Barn Owl 3

The black kite in particular thrilled us with his speedy (scary) flights through the audience.

Kite 6 Kite 1

It must be so rewarding for the staff to see amazing creatures like the sea eagle take to the sky again. Great to see so many families enjoying this place, with many using public transport or combining their visit with a daily launch trip on the Brisbane river.

Next stop… Tweed Heads to visit friends and explore the Gold Coast.

The beautiful Fraser Coast region…

After leaving Hervey Bay for the Fraser Coast region, we made our base at Standown Park, a tranquil van park half way between Tin Can Bay and Gympie. Pam and Rod Elkington have built a mini paradise here and enjoy welcoming veteran visitors along with many other caravanners. Their gardens, kitchen and shared areas are delightful, and sitting around a big fire each evening soon saw us finding new friends! So sad that it was only a short visit this time but we WILL be back.
Standown Park 1 Standown Park 2 Standown Park 3
A short distance away was Maryborough, a beautiful heritage town settled in 1847. As the biggest state port at that time, many 19th century immigrants first entered Australia here. The typical Queenslander homes here are stunning – some are heritage and some modern reinterpretations but all built on leafy streets …. just lovely. There is a huge convention centre and theatre so this town of about 22K people regularly hosts conferences.

Maryborough 3 Maryborough 4 Maryborough 2 Maryborough 1

Tin Can Bay is a small fishing port and popular tourist spot – so we were sorry to be too early for their annual September seafood festival! However our chat with the local newsagent and one of his lovely customers persuaded us that we must visit Rainbow Beach to see the ‘Carlo sandblow’.  After walking through a forest track we found a beautiful white moonscape with dunes leading down to a cliff face with coloured sands below. Many families were expending lots of energy here – a great spot to run, jump, slide and make up your own fun. There were also many paragliders enjoying the strong winds!

Carlo Sand blow 2 Carlo Sand blow 1 Carlo Sand blow 3

Hervey Bay, Fraser Island and the magnificent humpback whales!

No wonder that Hervey Bay is such a popular tourist destination with the magnificent Fraser Island beckoning, and whale tours galore! We were quite amazed by the size of the city – for some reason we had been expecting a small coastal town. Our stay at the Fraser Coast caravan park in in the seaside suburb of Scarness, one street back from the esplanade was lined with lovely shops, cafes and hotels – a great base for exploring.

Fraser Island is simply amazing, an island completely made of sand but it grows beautiful variety of trees and plants! Apparently this happens because of mycorrhizal fungi that naturally occur in the sand and these release nutrients in a way that plants can absorb. We feel really privileged to have seen such a variety of landscapes and ecosystems in one place.

A Fraser Island 1 A Fraser Island 3 A Fraser Island 4 A Fraser Island 5 Aircraft Fraser Island 1 Lake McKensie 1

Only 4WD vehicles are allowed on the island and we enjoyed exploring the inland regions while most people seemed to descend on the beach in droves. One interesting site was the Maheno wreck, a steamer which operated on the trans-Tasman route in the early 1900s. Once decommissioned in 1935, it was sold for scrap to a Japanese company. En route, a freak cyclone in July separated it from the tow ship and it was grounded on the eastern coast of Fraser Island. It became a training base for Z force and an artillery target. Such a sad story but she still captures the imagination of more than 250 000 visitors each year!
Maheno 2 Maheno 3 Maheno 4Seeing a pod of the mighty humpback whales swim and frolic around us rated way up there on our Richter scale of amazing experiences. Freedom Whale Watch guaranteed that we would see whales in Platypus Bay and it was a brilliant showtime as they seemed to be just as interested in us as we were in them. We also now have a greater appreciation of the female humpback’s lot in life… a mere 15 days after giving birth to a gynormous calf, she is ready to conceive the next one so the males are pretty much courting her ALL THE TIME. This causes lots of angst and jostling ‘whale-style’ while mum and her calf just ‘keep on swimming’…

All in all a great day out with a fun crew including our return transfers to the marina and yummy home catering.

Whale 1

Whale 2 Whale 3 Whale 5 Whale 6

Bundaberg

Great to catch up with friends Jamie and Jan again in the lovely city of Bundaberg, famous in Australia for what else but Bundy RUM – Australia’s favourite spirit! So off we went on a visit to the distillery that was set up to use the molasses left over after sugar was refined. They certainly faced hardships over the years with two enormous fires – in 1936, the rum escaped into the adjoining Burnett River, and the local paper noted:
‘Strong men stood with bowed heads and a suspicion of a tear in their eyes as they watched the bubbling toddy just stream past them.’
True tragedy Australian style!!! Tasting the array of rums and liqueurs was fun even for non-rum drinkers like us. Unfortunately no photographs could be taken on the tour and Ian had to take out his hearing aids as well (supposedly the batteries could cause an explosion) so as far as he was concerned it was pretty underwhelming…

The Botanic Gardens were pleasant to walk through although the main draw-card for us was the amazing bird life (apparently 100+ species) concentrated on a large island in the middle of the lake. Ian took some great photos….

Australian White Ibis 2 Black duck Darter Magpie gees on wing 2 Noisy Minor 2 Plumed whistling duck

The magpie geese were just so funny – these big birds land on the most tiny little tree branches creating a constant seesaw motion for them all.

The Hinkler Museum is also located in these gardens. Bert Hinkler was born here in 1892 and was a famous pioneer aviator throughout the early 1900s. The Bundaberg community is justifiably very proud of him. For example, the home he built in Southampton while he was designing and flying experimental aircraft in England has been dismantled and rebuilt alongside the museum. It now overlooks the lagoons where as a boy he sat and studied the ibis in flight – probably dreaming about the famous Ibis aircraft he would later build and fly!

Hinkler

Next stop – Hervey Bay and Fraser Island…