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.)


Sunday, November 22, 2009

- Bundy & Hervey Bay -

Our initial plan was to stop in at Bundaberg and see if we could pick up a few weeks work before heading down to Brisbane. We spent three days combing the newspapers, Internet and dropping our name into Harvest recruitment agencies. However it seemed we’d arrive at the end of the main Harvest and the beginning of the town’s quiet season. So the only thing we could do was jump back on the tourist trail and visit the Bundy Rum Distillery!

For $25 ea we took an hour tour of the Distillery, learning the processes and stages of creating Australia most loved Spirit. It was amazing… the tour was really well constructed with showing us the brewing process, the use of molasses, the HUGE American white oak vats, the bottling and finally the best part by far… the Tasting!!

Unfortunately for us, we were unable to bring cameras onto the tour… as they were eliminating the risks of a spark igniting the rum vapours and causing a massive fire. Which did happen once back 1907 putting rum production on hold for 4 years, could you imagine if that happened in today’s day and age? The country would be in uproar, considering Australia consumes 96% of the products, allowing only 4% to be exported. Talk about being Patriotic!!

Our next stop was the Bundaberg Barrel, home of Bundaberg Ginger Beer. This was also and interesting tour showing the process of making the famous brew. We also got the chance to taste a variety of different drinks at the end, including ones we hadn’t come across in the west.

(The Barrel, @ the Ginger Beer Factory.)

The following day we left Bundy, visiting the unusual and unidentified craters on our way out to Gin Gin. We then called in at Woodgate Beach and found a little park to have lunch… and it was filled with relaxing kangaroos! After plenty of photo’s and a stroll along the beach we pushed onto to Hervey Bay. Here was our second choice to stop and look for some work.

After a few days of searching, Bren got a job working for a 4WD Hire Company. However the conditions and hours were unfavourable so he decided it wasn’t for him and we began to plan our trip out to Fraser Island.

Big thank you to Herko & Wendie for letting us stay with you while we got ready for Fraser Island. It was so good to catch up with you both, remember there is always a place for you should you decide to come over to the West.

(The Unusual Craters on the way out to Gin Gin...What's your theory?...)

(Beautiful Woodgate beach... great spot for lunch!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

- Coastal Drive Continues... -

After a rainy night at Paronella Park we headed back towards to the coast for a morning rainforest walk before exploring Mission Beach. Our morning highlight was stumbling across our first wild sighting of a Cassowary! It was so exciting! However couldn’t get the best photo as the bird was closely guarding a young chick!

Mission Beach was a lovely place with weekend markets, beautiful beaches and islands scattering the horizon. We continued on through Tully and explored the coastal towns near Hinchinbrook Island before taking advantage of the FREE council camping at Balgal Beach for the night.
(Bren up in the "Golden Gumboot", Tully. Known for its sugarcane and high rainfall.)

(Belgal Beach, Perfect place to end the day with a cold beer.)

The following morning we headed off up into Paluma Range National Park. The drive was very steep and the car was struggling as we wound our way up Mount Spec. Half way up we stopped off at Little Crystal Creek, a beautiful spot complete with a photogenic stone arch bridge over the gorge. We pushed further up into the mountain to reach the Paluma Township with an excellent lookout spanning out the coast, on a clear day you can make out Hinchinbrook and surrounding Islands. After a quick drive out to the lake we mad our way back down the mountain and onto Townsville.

(Little Crystal Creek bridge on the Paluma Mountain Drive.)

(Castle Hill Lookout, Townsville. View over to Magnetic Island)

We spent 2 days in Townsville visiting Bessie & Shannon, (Thanks for letting us stay guys) and continued on to Airlie Beach, choosing to stay out at Conway’s Beach.

(There were MILLIONS of these Soldier Crabs, Conways Beach.)

Apart from being the gate way the Whitsunday Islands the area didn’t have much to offer the “Budget Traveller” so we continued on down the coast exploring over the next few days the towns of Beautiful Mackay, Rockhampton, the mining export town of Gladstone, unique Agnes Waters and 1770. We finally decided to stop for a while in the Cane growing, Rum making, and ginger beer town of Bunderberg.

(The BIG MANGO in Bowen,

apparently the Council spent $20,000 to boost tourism for the area)

(Enjoying the northern beaches of Mackay)

(Beautiful Inlet at the historic town of 1770)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

- Mossman to Paronella Park -

On Thursday night we joined Col, Vanetta, Chook & Eddie at the Bowls Club for a lovely farewell dinner and drinks. It was lovely to have spent some time with you all and a big thank you opening up your homes for us, it is very much appreciated!

So we set off the next morning, beginning our adventure south past Cairns and back into the unknown. We decided on the coastal drive, also dubbed “The Great Green Way” down to Townsville. It was beautiful country, with high rain forest mountains, rolling cane fields, hidden waterfalls and untouched beaches.

(The Boulders just south of Cairns.)

After exploring in amongst Innisfail we headed slightly inland to a place called Mena Creek also home to the famous Paronella Park.

Paronella Park is a wonderful unique place, built in the 1930’s by Spanish man, José Paronella. Who’s dream was to build a beautiful garden and reception centre for the enjoyment of the public. We decided to stay and take the opportunity to explore both during the day and taking the night tour.

He certainly left nothing for the imagination! He built by hand a castle, yes a CASTLE! This once housed a museum complete with Ballroom/theatre off to the side. From the castle, The Grand Staircase guides you down to a picnic area at the waters edge, looking out to the beautiful Mena Creek Falls! In the lower garden another smaller castle was built for refreshment tearooms complete with two tennis courts, water fountain and view of the waterfall! However José didn’t stop here! He planted over 7000 plants on the property including magnificent Kauri Trees, lining Kari Avenue. Water features, tunnels, bridges were all constructed presenting the property as a marvellous secret garden waiting to be explored!

It was certainly well worth it and the night tour certainly added another dimension to the dreamy atmosphere with the water fountains and castle lit up, it was truly magical!

(The Kauri Avenue... just as spectacular at night!)

(The Tearooms in the lower gardens)

(Mena Creek Falls were beautifully lit up.)

(The Tearooms and water fountain in all its glory on the night tour.)