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.