Monday, December 28, 2009

- Seasons Greetings -

We flew from Brisbane to Melbourne to travel across Victoria visiting Bren's family for Christmas. First we spent a wonderful few days with Bren's Pa in Rosebud out on the Mornington Peninsula and then together travelled 4 hours or so up into the heart of Victoria to Wangarratta to spend the days over Christmas with Bren's Family.

We also joined in with the family traditions of picking raspberries & blue berries on Boxing Day out at nearby historic Beechworth. I think more berries were eaten than picked! however we managed to get enough kilo's to make the yearly supply of Jam. We also went out to nearby Lake Buffalo for some water fun, being towed behind the jet ski which made for some spectacular stacks & crashes!

We reluctantly had to leave a few days later with another stop over in Rosebud before flying back to Brisbane.It was beautiful weather throughout and had a wonderful 10 days in Victoria.

It was a welcome change from being on the road and we're looking forward to catching up with the Victorians again later in the new year.To all the friends and Family we didn't get to see over the festive season. We wish you a very Merry Christmas & All the very Best for 2010.

Friday, December 18, 2009

- Round Trip to Brisbane -

Our plan, all along was to reach Brissie in time to fly to Victoria for Christmas, however we had arrived a couple of weeks early and decided to do a trip inland to make the most of our time.

(On Bribie Island looking over to the Glass House Mountains.)

We spent the next morning over on Bribie Island, checking out the beaches & coffee shops overlooking the water. It was a perfect spot to spend the morning. We turned the car around and headed for the hills calling past Kilcoy for fuel and spending lunch on the banks of Somerset Dam. The one thing that always surprises me while travelling is the ever changing countryside. The area around Kilcoy is very dry and the Lake seemed to be extremely low and the constant reminder of water restrictions was present on every town we passed through.

(Relaxing after lunch at Somerset Dam, near Kilcoy.)

We spent a few days hanging out in the quiet country town of Nanango, before heading up to the Peanut growing town of Kingaroy. Kingaroy is quite a big town and the lookout was a perfect place to get a greater view of the surrounding country. We could see all the way to the famous Bunya Mountains... our next destination!

(Kingaroy's Peanut Van, sells fresh local flavoured peanuts....)

In a section of the Great Dividing Range, The Bunya Mountains is home to the Worlds largest forest of Bunya Pines. With an elevation over 1100m above sea level is some areas, the view proved to be magnificent. We took several walks through out the area and were ever cautious of where to park the car as the Bunya Pine grows unique pine cones which can grow to over 10kg!! It was an awesome spot and would be a perfect holiday destination in the winter months with log cabins and B&B's scattered along the edge of the national park.

(The mighty Bunya Pines...)

(A view from one of our walks in the Bunya Mountains.)

(A great action shot of one of the mountain locals.)

We continued down the other side of the range and headed out to visit Muntapa Tunnel. A abandoned railway tunnel, QLD's longest of 287m,which is now home to a colony of Bent Winged Bat's. It was quite interesting to read about the tunnels history with its construction back in 1912 it remained open until 1964. We then took the Erie walk through the full length of the tunnel... it wasn't all that pleasant with the smell of the bats.. to make matters worse i accidentally startled them while taking a picture and we had to quickly get out! Bren wasn't impressed! We returned to Cooyar, enjoying a beer at the local pub before setting up camp.

(The bat's flying out of the tunnel after i accidentally startled them.)

(Bren is unsure he wants to continue...)

(The Cooyar Hotel...)

The following morning we drove the remainder of the way into Toowoombah. Toowoombah is Australia's largest inland - regional city and is perched on the edge of the Great Dividing Range. We spent several hours exploring the city, with its beautiful ornate gardens, spectacular lookouts. We also took a look around the Cobb & Co Museum, home to the National collection of horse-drawn vehicles. The collection was quite amazing with everything in pristine condition and offered a great insight to the past.

(An old Cobb & Co mail carriage.)

That afternoon we drove back towards the coast, pulling into Wivenhoe Dam for the evening. It was a nice shady spot and there were plenty of kangaroos scattered along the banks of the lake. Even better as we practically had it all to ourselves.

(The view from our camp at Lake Wivenhoe.)

The next morning we pushed on through Ipswich and into the hustle & bustle of Brisbane. It was crazy being amongst the city traffic after a week out bush! But eventually we found our way and a place to base ourselves just south of the city.

Brisbane is known as the "River City" with the city built lining the banks of the Brisbane River. We caught a river ferry cat into the city and took in the sights including the botanical gardens.
We spent the remainder of the week exploring the city and surrounds before flying out to Melbourne for Christmas.

(Approaching the Story Bridge, on the Brisbane River City Cat.)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

- Sunshine Coast -

(Looking down on Noosa from Noosa National Park.)

Our travels further down the coast brought us to the Sunshine Coast region. Well known for its beaches, hotels and water activities. Our first stop was Noosa, very similar to Port Douglas in the north with its beautiful beaches and swanky high end shopping and hotels. It also offers more opportunity with the beautiful Noosa River.

After a wonderful river ferry cruise we explored the famous shopping strip in Hastings Street. The next day we explored the Noosa National Park which is the entire Noosa headland. It was an amazing spot, with secluded little beaches around every corner and endless walking tracks to the eastern beaches.

(One of the beautiful secluded beaches.)

After a couple of days in Noosa we decided to head inland to explore some of the Hinterland. We stopped in at Yandina, for a tour around the Buderim Ginger Factory and cross the road was the Macadamia Nut factory with both offering taste testing. It was extremely hard not to buy all the yummy things in the gift shop!

From Yandina we called into Kenilworth State Forrest, it was a beautiful drive through some amazing countryside and VERY steep hills, Pockets of rain forest and plenty of wildlife. Our plan was to camp in the forest, however at the time we were going to set up camp, the heavens opened up and let out a mighty down poor! Bugger! So we decided to push on and see if the rain would let up.

We drove through some amazing little townships perched on the top of mountain ranges. Through Maleny, Montville and with the rain still not easing we stopped the night in a cabin in Mapleton.After exploring around the town in the morning & the rain still present, we decided to head back to the coast.But not before stopping in at one of Australia's BIG icons, The Big Pineapple. We caught up on our Christmas Shopping in Maroochydore and headed down to Caloundra for the night.

The following morning we made the tourist Pilgrimage to Australia Zoo! In true Steve Irwin style everything was presented in his larger than life personality and attitude towards wildlife. We fed the elephants and watched a show or 2 in the MASSIVE Crocoseum, and ventured around the park for the entire day. Although a little expensive (depending on what you chose to experience) it was a wonderful day out.

(Steve seemed to be still amongst us with larger than life posters like this one.)

(The Crocoseum, can seat 5,000 visitors per show.)

(One of our favourites at the park was the Koalas, arent they adorable?)

That evening we caught up with long time family friends, The Blores and enjoyed their company for the next few days. Before we pushed south to explore the Glass House Mountains. Named by Captain Cook in 1770, they're a series of Volcanic plugs. Believed to be hardened lava core of Volcanoes, exposed after 25 million years of erosion, making for a beautiful skyline! We took several walks around the mountains before hitting the road south again.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

- Teewah Beach -

Straight after arriving back on the Mainland from Fraser Island we drove through the township, Rainbow Beach onto Teewah Beach which is South of the town. It's apart of the Cooloola National Park and offers safe swimming beach, great surfing and over 15km of coastline to set up camp.

(Teewah Beach, view from Double Island Point.)

We drove onto the beach and headed for Double Island point to check out the views from the lighthouse. It was a very popular spot with an awesome surf break and sheltered swimming. the views from the Lighthouse were spectacular!

From here we headed south down the beach to look for a camp.. which being a 15km "camping zone" we thought we'd find a camp without too much trouble.... How wrong we were! Being a Friday... it was packed... tents, tarps, 4wd's, camper trailers, kids, surfers, beach cricket, fisherman all seemed to be stretched out all along the beach. We were beginning to wonder if we'd find a semi secluded spot at all!

(Campers were squeezing in to get their peice of paradise.)

Eventually we did find our spot... and in our minds a bloody beauty! although a little close to some others, we had unlimited views of the beach and only had to walk 20 metres to the waters edge.

(Our camp for one night.)

It was a magical spot, although i'd definately consider next time what time to visit.

(I got up early to capture this lovely sunrise.)

Friday, November 27, 2009

- Fraser Island Adventure -

Heritage listed Fraser Island is just off the coast of Hervey Bay, it is the world largest sand island. Stretching 123km in length and only 22kms wide, this unique part of Australia lures adventure travellers to its shores.

With its long interrupted beaches, pockets of rainforest, over 100 freshwater lakes and the abundance of wildlife it is the perfect recipe for a fun filled 4wd camping trip.

After much planning and research we decided to take the car over for a 4 day adventure. We first had to get there, which meant booking the car on a vehicle ferry to cross the Great Sandy Strait. A 50 min ferry ride later we drove off the ferry and onto the island, passing through Kingfisher Bay Resort before reaching the start of many 4wd sand tracks. From the numerous self drive travellers and tourist coaches the track was quite cut up and soft in sections, so we had to let down our tyres a few times to make it much easier to drive.

(The vehicle barge to Fraser Island)

( 4wd Sand tracks are the only roads on the island)

Along the western side of the island there isn’t a great deal to see, so we headed inland passing by a couple of freshwater lakes and sand blows before reaching the eastern coast. This uninterrupted beach is a gazetted road, being the easiest & quickest way to reach the top tourist sites it can be more like a highway at times!

( 75 Mile Beach was more like a highway at low tide.)

(Sand blows were spectacular, some have engulfed entire lakes and forests.)

On our way to find our first camp for the night we came across the ship wreck of the Maheno. In 1935 the Maheno was being towed to a Japanese wrecking yard when she met her stormy end in a cyclone just off the coast. It was pretty awesome to see with the waves lapping against its rusty hull, providing an excellent opportunity for photos! We pushed on further north along the beach to find a perfect campsite complete with ocean views and a grassy spot to put up our tent! With a few wines and the sound of the waves, it could get any better than this... or could it??

(The Maheno shipwreck.)

(What an awesome camp spot, 1st night on Fraser.)

The next morning we woke to rain! Making it a very interesting while packing up! However in no time at all, the weather cleared and we were back into exploring the island. First we called by the pinnacles, a section of weathered dunes of contrasting coloured sands. Then called into Happy Valley for a look, it’s a tourist village offering an alternative accommodation to camping.

(Coloured Sands.)

Our next stop though was Eli Creek. It’s a freshwater creek flowing across the beach into the ocean with boardwalks along its upper reaches into the dunes. Here was also the place of our first sighting of a Dingo, who was just going about its business paying no attention to us at all. Eli Creek is also a popular spot to swim, as it is advised against to swim in the ocean, with rough seas and the occasional croc sighting.

(Eli Creek, great spot to explore.)

From here we headed inland, winding our way up into the rainforest and sand dunes to visit Lake Wabby. Lake Wabby is known as a Barrage Lake which means it has formed when a sand blow blocks the path of a natural spring. Eventually the sand dune will engulf the lake, making us feel very fortunate to visit while we still can! It was steep walk to get to the waters edge, however worth the effort as we plunged into its cool calm waters! When we finally got back to the car we slowly made our way back to the beach, getting stuck in the soft sand a few times on the track. We decided to drive further south to find a suitable campsite where we could make our base for the next few nights.

(Looking down to Lake Wabby.)

Just south of Eurong (Another resort village) we found the perfect spot. Nestle behind a small sand dune, with plenty of trees for shade we made our camp, putting up a few extra traps in case the rain set in again over night.

The following morning while getting ready for our next adventure 2 Dingo’s casually strolled past our camp. They’re believed to be the purest strain of Dingo and have become well accustomed to the presence of humans on the island. Everywhere we went there were warnings about Dingo’s, mostly not to approach and to make sure food etc is securely stored. One camp we saw looked like it had been torn apart by Dingo’s as there was rubbish everywhere.

After refuelling at Eurong we set off inland again to visit the most popular lake on the Island, Lake McKenzie. We’d have to say this is one of the BEST beaches in the world. It was amazing, pure white sand giving way to the crystal clear water… certainly an unusual paradise! The lake is a ‘perched’ lake which means it is only rainwater, no ground water or streams feed into this lake. The natural composition of sand and organic materials at the base of the lake, form a special layer preventing the water from draining away. We spent several hours swimming, lounging on the shores it was beautiful, however the crowds were starting to arrive so we decided to push on.

(Beautiful Lake McKenzie)

The drive from Lake McKenzie continued onto Central Station, which was once a logging community, however now home to National Parks Info Station. From here the track continued to wind its way through sand dunes, rainforests, and bushland. We stopped off at Lake Birrabeen and Lake Boomajin before reaching the eastern Beach again just south of Eurong.

The following day we spent relaxing in our camp, reading, walking along the beach and enjoying the fact we didn’t have to drive anywhere. The next day we packed up early and drove to the most southern point on the island, Hook Point. Here we caught the ferry to Inskip point on the Mainland.

We had the most amazing time on Fraser Island and would definitely go back to visit again. Not only is it a camping and 4wd adventure, it offers a unique beauty which you cannot find anywhere else. Let’s hope it stays that way for many years to come.

(The Barge to Inskip Point took only 5mins to reach the mainland.)