A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: charlystyles

Biking with Barry, South - Queensland

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Having met Barry in August before I carried on my travels north, we had become good friends and were both Bikers. Barry has a Kawasaki Nomad1800, and had recently purchased a Honda Shadow 750
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with the suggestion of doing a road trip together - an offer I couldn't refuse!
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So I head back to Airlie and we set off south, stopping first at Mackay to fit a two way radio in the helmets. It was the first time I'd communicated on a bike and made navigating around towns much easier! Though on the downside, I couldn't sing and Barry couldn't swear, as you hear everything!
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We explored the area, passed Greenmount Sugar Mill
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and out to Knichant Dam for a 'coldy' and a milkshake
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I met both his daughters Sheree and Tanya and we
stayed the night in Mackay before heading on through Sarina
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to stop for an ice cream at Clairview.
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From Clariview we headed south to Rockhampton
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and up a windy mountain road to the top of Mount Archer
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with great views down over the city
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and cooled off in the shade
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before heading down the mountain to look around the Botanic Gardens
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and FREE Zoo!
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This imposing structure is the bird aviary
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It was amazing to have the chance to see a Cassowary sitting on eggs
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Emu's

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and wild Ibis
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nesting high up in the trees
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of course there were Koalas - who spend up to 20 hours a day sleeping!
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We saw Wombats enjoying the sunshine
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mirrored Kangaroos
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Dingoes
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a Boa
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Salt Water Crocodile
- who's numbers have dropped due to ingesting the poisonous Cane Toad, unlike 'salties' which are immune to the Cane Toad.
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Chimps being given afternoon tea of ice cream and orange juice
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Lace Monitors - a familiar sight around national park picnic areas scavenging for leftovers
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Perentile - the largest lizard or goanna in Australia, and the fourth largest lizard in the wolrd!
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and sadly some areas that are ready for renovating with a little more funding
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It was a great stop
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but time to hit the road again
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on towards the coast and to Yeppoon
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Yeppoon is a quite beach town
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with great fish and chips!
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After an early start to watch the sunrise,
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we headed along to the Marina
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with this imposing Gorilla rock
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and up a hill to the Singing Ship - built to honour James Cook, who discovered and named Keppel Bay
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with great views out to sea
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Moving on we headed south to Gladstone
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Heading east to a town called 1770 - built on the site of the second landing by James Cook and the crew of HM Bark Endeavour in May 1770 (Cook's first landing in what is now the state of Queensland).
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where we stopped for lunch and to cool off with a couple of coldies (apparently there's no such thing as non-alcoholic beer!)
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Having rested our bottoms, we moved on to our final stop for the day in Bundaberg - famous for Bundaberg rum
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where I met Barry's niece and after a meal out with the family we stayed the night.

The following morning we head north and rode east up to a town in the mountains called Mount Morgan - was founded as a gold mining town in 1882, and over time the Mount Morgan Mine has produced gold, silver and copper.
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The railway link between Mount Morgan and Rockhampton was not built until 1898. Until that time, everything was transported by horse teams. Mount_Morg..ation_Barry.jpg
The mine was separatd from Rockhampton, the nearest port, by the Razorback Range, a formidable barrier.
Here, Barry used to work as a Station Master
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So it was very interesting to look around what is now a museu, and learn all about the old ways of railway management
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including this huge key
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The razorback was finally conquered by the Rack Railway in 1898. The Rack incline ran a little distance over 1.5miles. The steepest gradient was 1 in 16.5 where as the original road was in parts as steep as 1 in 5. This was still too steep for a standard locomotive.
There was a cinema set up in one of the old carriages
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describing the original rack and pinion track
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A Renecker-Abt rack locomotive was brought from Switzerland to help out. On decent it was attached to the front of the standard locomotive to slow it down. On ascents it was attached to the rear.
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The Abt rack locomotive was very powerful. It had adhesive wheels and an independently-powered engine beneath the boiler which drove pinions - toothed wheels - set between the adhesive wheels.
the pinions meshed with a toothed rack-rail attached to the sleepers, midway between the normal running rails. This gave the driving power to the rack engine and prevented slippage even under heavy loads.
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There were eight engines here in total and they operated right up until 1952 when a less steep gradient deviation line was built around the mountain.
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There was also a set up for the Fettlers camp, as it would have been for the men that built the railway
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The Fettlers would spend a week to a fortnight away at work repairing and maintaining the railway lines. Thery were tought crew who lived in rough conditions braving all the elements. When they returned home it was often to more camping in the tent city. Showere were a tin with holes in the base strung up in a tree.
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Following the closure of the railway in 1987, the station became the head-quarters of the Golden Mount Rail Presevation Society whose forsight and diligence ensured that this building would once again play an important part in the life of Mount Morgan, as the focal point for the town's tourist industry.
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Moving on towards Wowan and a place called Dingo
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we stopped for traditional Pie & Peas - a pie with mushy peas in the top!
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and we headed out west to a town called Emerald, part of the 'Gem Fields'.
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After a good meal and a night's sleep we headed a little further west to a town called Sapphire
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Where we hoped to find our fortune fossicking for gem stones!
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The first task is to fill your bucket with 'wash' - or dirt from a pile delivered from the mine
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Then, one shovel full at a time, put it into a sieve and shake out the dust and smaller rocks
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After this, there is a technique to wash off all the dirt
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and shake it in such a way that all the larger stone go to the outside and the smaller ones go to the middle and the gem stones go to the bottom! so that when you tip it out onto the hessian on the sorting table, the gem stones should magically appear on top!
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If not... it's then time to sift through with tweezers!
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and pick out anything that might remotely look like a sapphire, or other gem stone
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Before the nice lady will check through and throw out the rocks that you have mistakenly hoped to be gems!
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It doesn't look much, but it's our winnings! The large red stone is a red Zircon - it has great brilliance due to its strong dispersion and high refractive index, but is brittle and likely to chip if treated roughly. The collection of smaller stones are all colours of Sapphire.
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It was a fun experience and I think if I lived there I would get quite addicted - just like the stories of the local men who are very rich, but only have half a nose or ear due to skin cancer from being out in the sun!
so, with that in mind, we started to head back East
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through a town called Rubyvale
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and on to Clermont
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It was the hottest part of the ride - nearly 40 degrees and not a lot of shade
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added to the fun was the constant danger of dodging 'roos, deer and cows that grazed at the side of the road as this is where the best grass is from any rain they do get running off the road
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Hot going and a lot of concentration, but amazingly beautiful in it's own way, not like anywhere I've ever been.
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By the time we arrived in Clermont it was time for a well earned coldy, and the perfect place was the Grand Hotel - which used to be owned by my friend Jude in Mackay.
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There was a still a long way to go in the semi arid desert before we saw green grass again.
Well, Australia is apparently the second driest continent on the planet!
This mountain near Nebo was quite eye catching
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and another stop, another cold drink was welcome when we got there
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As we continued east, the view changed, with water in the creeks
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until we were back in sugar cane country, passing several sugar cane trains
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and on further to Proserpine, and back to Airlie Beach as it got dark.
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A great adventure, to meet some lovely people and see some sights of Australia not accessible on a tourist bus!
But out road trip north was only a couple of days away.....

Posted by charlystyles 12:00 Archived in Australia Tagged motorbike emerald sapphire biking_australia honda_shadow rubyvale Comments (0)

Back to Airlie - QLd

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Travelling with Jude back to Airlie Beach and her business "Bush Cabins" was like going home. Great to see how a Palm Leaf hat was made, having seen them at Cape Tribulation
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Having been here in August, it was nice to come back, but the increase in temperature was noticeable! But so were the spring flowers, like these Frangipani
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This time I shared a cabin with Alina, a lovely, smiley Finish girl
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who pulled off crazy sunglasses better than I did!
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Having spent a week grafting I insisted on taking Jude out with me to find some live music, so the three of us set off for a 40min walk to Airlie (from Cannonvale)
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sometimes Jude gets a little distracted, even with a camera in her face!
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We had a great night involving several bars and live music from Sun Salute
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and Kevin McCarthy among others
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before ending up in Magnums for some techno!
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and being accompanied home by two rather drunk Sweedish lads
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where I should point out that jude doesn't drink alcohol
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honest!
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Arriving back one evening to Bush Village, I was attacked by a rather protective Curlew mother, with one chicks
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the father arrived shortly after and chased me up the path!
But the next day, it was great to see the family in daylight, with two chicks ... can you spot them?
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and a protective mother
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and over-protective father
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They are beautiful birds, and freeze like statues at night if you spot them... and they're not being protective!

Another very good reason to come back was to collect my Opal ring.
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Having bought the stone in March 8 months ago, and carried it with me looking for the perfect jeweller to make something special, I was so excited to see it
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and just as unique as I hoped when I designed it
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adding a special Black Opal from Lightening Ridge
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It symbolises my travels, and is broken as I won't be returning to where I started this journey.

However, Jude got her jewellery out, and showed me some very unique gold nugget pieces
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Maybe in the next couple of weeks I'll go gem hunting for my own...

...one afternoon I met up with a good friend I'd made last time I was in Airlie and my main reason for returning - to go touring on 'my' new bike
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Honda Shadow VT750
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A beautiful blue bike to tour an amazing country
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with Barry on his Nomad
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...watch this space for more Biking with Barry...

Posted by charlystyles 12:15 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Renovating in Mackay - QLD

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Even on the other side of the world, I can still find houses to renovate!
This project was helping my friend Jude, who I'd stayed with in Airlie Beach 3 months previously.
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The ceilings had done what ceilings do, and started to bubble and peel!
So the first job was to finish the peeling, then to paint them in a special, and rather sticky paint that uses Shellack, However, as always, they needed more filler, more sanding and more painting!
So, whilst waiting for the paint to dry, not being one to sit still, I helped Jude take up a brick patio
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Before:
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After:
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and created quite a pile of bricks
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... not to mention sweat! So the best thing then, was a 'pool shower'

However, you have to work hard to play hard, and we had some time out, taking 3yr old Jaimee for a walk
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along the Pioneer River one evening
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down to Forgan Bridge
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and to see some of the town sculptures, including these LED trees and whale bones
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the lagoon looked good lit up at sunset
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before a treat at Hog's Breath Café and on to ice cream
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I even got a pet fix at the pet shop with these beautiful kittens and Blue Healer pups
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but there was plenty of animals at home, including Kooky, the Blue-Winged / Azure Kookaburra (different to the more common Laughing Kookaburra)
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and whilst putting the chooks to bed one night I found this cute little frog
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I think it's a Creaking Nursery Frog
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He was about an inch big!
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with the most beautiful eyes
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Sadly he didn't turn into my prince charming, so I'll keep looking!

Posted by charlystyles 12:10 Archived in Australia Tagged mackay walkerston creaking_nursery_frog forgan_bridge pioneer_river Comments (0)

Australia Zoo - QLD

sunny 30 °C

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Australia Zoo is a 100-acre (40 ha) zoo located in the Australian state of Queensland.
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It is a member of the Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA), and is owned by Terri Irwin, the widow of Steve Irwin, whose wildlife documentary series The Crocodile Hunter made the zoo a popular tourist attraction.
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Australia Zoo was opened by Bob and Lyn Irwin on 3 June 1970 under the name Beerwah Reptile and Fauna Park. Their son Steve, had helped his parents since childhood to care for crocodiles and reptiles and to maintain the growing number of animals in the zoo.
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As filming generated extra funds, Steve and Terri put all money raised from filming and merchandise into conservation and building new exhibits.
Even building Bindi's amazing tree house with reptile exhibit
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The 'Animal Planet Crocoseum' stadium at the zoo
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has a seating capacity of about 5000.
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At the time of its construction, it was the first in the world where snake, bird and crocodile shows were conducted.
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Australia Zoo calls these shows 'Wildlife Warriors 101'. This is also where the zoo presents concerts, such as the Summer Down Under series.
Wedge Tail Eagle
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Condor
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Africa
On 17 September 2011, the zoo opened its African Safari exhibit, a multi-species replica of the Serengeti ecosystem, showcasing zebras,
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rhinos,
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and giraffes
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interacting as they would in the wild.

Asian Small-clawed Otters
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Social animals, living in groups of up to 20 individuals. Each group is actually one large family, with only the dominant pair breeding.
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In the wild, these little otters would eat up to a third of their own body weight every day with an average size of 3kg.
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Otters communicate with more than 12 different vocal noises.
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Eastern Water Dragon
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These lizards love the water, to escape predators the seek the safety of water and can hold their breath for up to 20mins until danger passes.

Komodo Dragon
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Bacteria found in Komodos' saliva will cause infection and eventually kill their prey, even if the initial bite doesn't. They weight up to 100kg.

Rhinoceros Iguana
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The rocky shore is the perfect home for these lizards with stacks of hiding places, baking spots and plenty of tucker.
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They are mainly vegetarian, but given the chance the will have a go at just about anything.
Male Rhinoceros Iguanas are built for strength, and that gnarly, bumpy head is how they gain their name. The bigger the iguana, the bigger the territory and the more girls they have.

Aligators
Fang1 - born in 1960
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"She is an absolutely gorgeous girl; I love her big Bette Davis Eyes". Anywhere from 20 to 40 eggs are layed inside the nest and take approximately 65 days to hatch.

Albert - born in 1988
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Albert came form the same clutch of eggs as Annie. Alligators have an extra eye lid which enables them to see underwater, just like wearing swimming goggles.

Alison - born in 1930
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This girl is a true grandma; she first came to Australia in 1933! Baby alligators have brightly coloured yellow and black cross-bands which fade as they age.

Annie - born in 1988
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She is beautiful my Annie and crikey she loves her food! and this lizard was being very brave drinkign her water
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Female gators lay their eggs in a mound of rotting vegetation they construct using their back legs.

Fang 2 - born in 1960
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She's a beautiful mum - she is the mother of our first ever baby alligators. Female gators take care of their babies for up to two whole years!

Barney - born in 1960
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He might seem a bit cranky, but really he is just protecting his cute little girlfriend! Alligators have between 74 and 80 blunt, peg-like teeth.

Cameron the crocodile
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This replica is based on dimensions of a real crocodile that could still exist today. Since Saltwater Crocodiles were hunted to the brink of extinction by the 1970s, it is rare to see a large croc in the wild. Today we see recovering populations where a few individuals are just starting to gain some real size. In reality though they still have some growing to do!
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We can only wonder and hope that maybe somewhere out there, there could still be a true giant. Saltwater Crocodiles have highly advance salt excretion glands so they can spend large amounts of time in saltwater. The barnacles on this crocodile are evidence that is has spent time in the open ocean. If the crocodile move into fresh water the barnacles would fall off within 24 hours.
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This reinforced concrete replica was made at the zoo. It weighs 930kgs (2050lbs) and is 8.3m (27') long. A croc this size in the wild would weigh approximately 2.5 tonne.

Freshwater Crocodile
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These crocs are the first crocs that Steve ever caught. He was just nine years old.

Scrappa
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Scrappa is the son of Agro. He can strike from the water's edge at lightening speed.

not something little girls should p[lay with!
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Red Kangaroos
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chilling out
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a little joey
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Black Footed Rock Wallaby
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Tasmanian devils
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Henry & Ebony - 5 & 4 years old.
Devils once ranged throughout most of the mainland Australia. The introduction of dingoes is thought to be the primary reason for the demise of the Tasmanian Devil.

Binturong
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Like a creature of the night - the Binturong prowls the dense forest canopy of Indonesia, hungrily searching out fruit.

Wombats
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Dingoes
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baby Dingoes
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with a gorgeous white male cub
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Koalas
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Koalas are marsupials. They give birth to un-developed young that grow inside a pouch.
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Koalas may be extinct on the south-east coast of Queensland within ten years.
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The biggest threats include habitat destruction, disease and injury by dogs or cars.
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Snoozing for up to 18-20 hours a day because they only eat eucalyptus leaves which are low energy and hard to digest.
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Kookaburra
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Curlew
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Cassowary
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The cassowary is Australia' largest land animal - the largest cassowary on record was 85g although most weight between 35 and 60kg.
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The seeds of more than 100 Wet Tropics plants are spread by cassowaries. While most of their diet is fruit, they also eat snails, insects, fungi, flowers and dead animals.
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Male cassowaries are responsible for hatching the eggs (on the nest for about 50 days!) and look after the chicks for the first 9 to 18 months.
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Cassowaries can live to a ripe old age - up to 60 years in captivity and some reports of up to 40 years in the wild.
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It is estimated that there are as few as 1,500 adult birds left in north Queensland. It is now on the endangered species list.
The word cassowary comes from two Papuan word meaning horned head.

Brolga
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In northern parts of Australia, the Brolga and Sarus Crane can easily be confused. The Brolga is the only true Aussie crane.
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It makes the large Ibis birds look small!

Jabiru
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Adult males have dark eyes whilst adult females have yellow eyes, but these aren't developed until they are around three years old.

Great Egret
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Emu
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and the difference between an Emu egg (on the left) and an Ostrich egg (on the right)
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Sumatran Tigers
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Kaitlyn and Ramalon are the perfect match,
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their bloodlines are the most valuable for the future breeding of Sumatran Tigers outside Indonesia
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Ramalon was born in 1994 and weighs 120kg
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the keeper demonstrated how they carry out medical checks, without the need for sedation, including checking the teeth
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taking blood samples
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and just how big they are
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we found a baby tiger in the shop
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Aldabra Giant Tortoise
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Back from the brink - Aldabra Tortoises were used by early sailors as food. However, thanks to one of the world's first conservation breeding programs, numbers have now increased to more than 100,000.

Fresh Water Turtles
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Long Neck Turtle
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Shingleback Lizard
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Their large thick scales have earned them the nickname 'Pine Cone Lizard'. In the wild breeding pairs have been known to meet up every spring for up to 8 years.
They are closely related to the blue-tongue skink.
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Burmese Python
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Muscle Power - Burmese Pythons constrict their prey by tightly coiling around them. Eats primarily mammals an birds.
Can live for up to 40 years and grow up to a whopping 5m long. At that size they can eat a pig or deer.
The snake skin trade had greatly reduced the number of Burmese Pythons in the wild.

Albino Burmese Python
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Albino Burmese pythons start out life with an amazing bright orange and yellow colouration and as they mature they fade to a more pastel yellow colour. They can live for up to 40 years and grow to a whopping 5m long.

King Brown
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The King Brown is one of the reptile kings of Australia. Primarily a reptile-eater, even the bite from a venomous snake won't worry this fella. With giant venom glands, the King Brown will bite and hold prey using a chewing action to pump enough venom into his prey to show up the most deadly adversary.

Lowlands Copper Head
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It can often be found in groups under fallen timber or in burrows to shelter from the bitter cold. More bodies mean more heat.

Collette's Snake
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not a lot is known about this bloke in the scrub, but he sure grows to be one of Australia's largest venomous snakes. found only in the black-soil plains of western Queensland means that this fella is one difficult candidate to track down. The searing heat and extreme seasons force this species underground into deep cracks in the earth for much of the year. As a result almost nothing is known about this species in the wild.

Western Brown snake
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This bloke comes in a multitude of colour patterns. From one place to the next, this species of snake can appear as different as chalk and cheese to the untrained eye. It just goes to show that even if you think a snake is harmless it's best left alone.

Eastern Tiger Snake
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With a notorious reputation and a venom rated at number four in the world, this bloke is not one to muck around with.

Taipan
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The Taipan is one of Australia's best known snakes and for good reason. This fella has a short temper. Like any snake though, given the chance he will go the other way.

Water Python
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Check out how the light shimmers off her skin in iridescent rainbow colours. she was considered by some local aboriginals as an ancestor of the 'original' Rainbow Serpent.

Carpet Python
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Often encountered in suburban areas, you couldn't find a better rat catcher. The Carpet Python is totally harmless. It is usually active at night and spends most of the day coiled up in a tree or rafter, or stretched out basking in an open area.

Woma
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Land clearing and burning are the two major factors that have really knocked this guy around. Australia Zoo is now the only facility in Australia to hold this local form and hope to breed and later release these guys back into protected habitat.

Red Bellied Black
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With stunning red edges to its belly scales, and a shiny black back, this snake surely ranks amongst Australia's most stunning venomous snakes.

Grey Kangaroos
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I didn't think this joey would fit, when he was spooked by a noise
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but I was wrong!
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here's another chilling out - half in, half out the pouch
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After spending hours looking around the animals, it was a unique experience to see the theatre where animals are looked after
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Fortunately there was nothing happening in there at that time.

Posted by charlystyles 12:34 Archived in Australia Tagged australia_zoo Comments (0)

Back to Toowoomba - QLD

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One place that remained close to my heart whilst travelling on was Toowoomba, and the close friends I'd made there.
Having travelled up to Noosa with Mark,
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we went to visit Tami, just outside of Toowoomba where we saw this great piece of graffiti
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who I had previously stayed with, and worked with her horse. PolyAnn was looking better than ever (with Peggy the goat for company)
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and Penny also came over to say hello
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but the best part was cuddles from my old bed mate Angel, a Rex cat
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and of course the collection of small dogs, including Crystal and Sammy
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As fireworks are illegal in Queensland, it was nice to still be able to celebrate Bonire Night with a small fire
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and lots of fire twirling
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with good friends,
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and good food
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whilst spotting shooting stars through the thunder and lightening storm!
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We went to an old favourite spot, looking out over Tabletop Mountain
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Mark drove us out to explore the Bunya Mountains, west of Toowoomba
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and on the way we came across Goombungee's Jacaranda Day
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Jacaranda mimosifolia is a sub-tropical tree native to south-central South America that has been widely planted elsewhere because of its beautiful and long-lasting blue flowers.
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It is also known as jacaranda, blue jacaranda, black poui, or as the fern tree.
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In scientific usage, the name "Jacaranda" refers to the genus Jacaranda, which has many other members, but in horticultural and everyday usage, it nearly always means the blue jacaranda.
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Profuse flowering is regarded as magnificent by some and quite messy by others.
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The unusually shaped, tough pods, which are 5.1 to 7.6 cm (2 to 3 in) across, are often gathered, cleaned and used to decorate Christmas trees and dried arrangements
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Goombungee boasts a unique ironman at the southern entrance to the town which is reminiscent of the Rural Ironman and Ironwoman competition which was once held annually on Australia Day.
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There is also an historic museum, an art gallery, a primary school and a police station.
Inside the museum were examples of machinery from the old farming days
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an old shed that was home to one working family
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old school suitcases
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old school satchels
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exercise books
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SINGER sewing machine - the machine they said could never be made
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old cameras
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Moving on through the Darling Downs, the clouds were creating spectacular formations as the storm was brewing
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Prior to colonisation, the bunya Mountains were the centre for large gatherings of Murri people for the 'boyne boyne' festival - a time of feasting, ceremony, law making, trading and the settling of disputes.
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The last big festival was in the 1870s.
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Arriving in the bunya Mountains, we stopped at Fishers Lookout
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By the late 1840s all of the country around the Bunya Mountains was taken up by large sheep and cattle runs. Settlement and conflict has a huge impact on the traditional lifestyles of Aboriginal people.
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Mt Mowbullan
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and to look back down to Toowoomba
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By the 1850s timber getters were drawn to the mountain by the valuable stands of red cedar,
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Hoop pines and Bunya pines.
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Up to 25 sawmills once operated on or around the Bunyas. The last sawmill on the mountain closed in 1950, ending nearly 100 years of logging.
arriving in Dandabah National Park
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after a quick stop for a drink
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we went for a walk to see the largest natural stand of bunya pines living in the world today.
Walking through these giants was interesting
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But the most exciting tree, was an old Strangler Fig
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it was pretty big!
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So old that the tree inside had died, leaving a hollow lattice - perfect for climbing!!
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The view down was pretty good
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and look up and down the inside was interesting
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Somewhere at the top is Mark
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Moving on, we came across a pool and waterfall
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teaming with huge tadpoles from the Great Barred Frog - a ground dwelling, burrowing frog that lives near creeks and streams.
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which Mark set about trying to catch!
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and succeeded
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Tadpoles may take up to three years to grow land-legs depending on food, nutrient availability and other environmental factors.
Sunlight is necessary for the survival and growth of all plants.
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But on the ground sunlight is scarce, so vines grow rapidly using their host tree as a climbing frame.
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This huge vine made a great climbing frame
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The bunya pine is considered a sacred tree by many Aboriginal people, with some viewing it as their mother spirit. Aboriginal people collected bunya nuts not only from the forest floor, but also by climbing the giant bunya pines. by cutting holes into the bark using stone axesScaling_th.._Bunya_Nuts.jpg
At the end of the walk was Pine Gorge Lookout
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looking back across the Darling Downs
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Heading home from our exploration,
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we passed a historical aeroplane
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RAAF Canberra Bomber
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which flew form 1953 to 1982
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based in Australia, Malaysia, New Guinea and were also used in bombing missions in the Vietnam conflict.
Out and about one day, we passed this biker - I thought I had a lot of luggage, but I've no idea how he picks it up off the side stand!
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Posted by charlystyles 12:22 Archived in Australia Tagged toowoomba bunya_mountains darling_downs Comments (0)

Back to Noosa - QLD

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Having met up with Mark again in Brisbane, it was great to travel north and introduce him to one family that felt like my second family whilst in Australia - Jana, David and Hannah, in Doonan, Noosa.
Bella was still tottering round
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Oh, and Sasha, my wheezing purring friend was there for cat cuddles
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Having spent three weeks here in July helping to regenerate the rainforest patch of paradise, it was so good to see the changes spring had brought.
The pond was flourishing with beautiful purple lilies
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The orange Lilies were in flower
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this Moreton Bay Fig tree looked great in the sunshine
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and all the other little details such as this orange fungus
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and interesting pattern of this palm trunk
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Jana's friendly butterfly
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even the birds were growing in number
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no doubt they'll be plenty more when the home built bird boxes were all up
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and my little Bangalow Palms were going strong
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and the resident Kangaroos came to say hello
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After downing tools to watch the Melbourne Cup - an the first ever female jockey winner, we headed in to Noosa to show Emma around (the current workawayer, from Colchester)
First stop was the ice cream shop:
Nitrogenie
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An ice cream shop that makes the worlds best ice cream the same way the great chefs make it in the restaurants - using liquid nitrogen.
It freezes almost too quickly for ice crystals to form resulting in creamy ice cream.
Using only real food ingredients, like actual creamy milk and actual eggs. And actual real food that we add to create actual incredible flavours. The flavours you see here taste exactly like the real thing because they are the real thing. It's like a magic wish from an ice cream genie.
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The town was full of dressed up locals enjoying the atmosphere of watching the Melbourne Cup, quite the opposite to this postcard that made me smile
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With an un-missable stop at Main Beach
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where the water was pretty warm
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Heading past the pelicans
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I couldn't go without a stop at my favourite place The Boat House
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for cocktails at sunset
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Posted by charlystyles 12:48 Archived in Australia Tagged noosa Comments (1)

Back to Brisbane - QLD

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Having been travelling up the east coast for the past 7 months, with only a few weeks left I had the option to continue exploring, on to Darwin and maybe a bit more of the West Coast, or to spend some time with friends I had met along the way. Darwin will always be there, but good friends may not.
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So I flew from Cairns down to Brisbane to meet up with Macca who Id' met in Innisfail, and was now spending some time at his parents' house in Albany Creek, near Brisbane,
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with my favourite vehicle I've driven during my time here...and yes, it's mostly because it's blue!
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I'm easily pleased, and one place we visited was Northside Produce ..and pet store! with some interesting birds for sale, including lots of Gouldian Parrots
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Bourke Parakeets
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Ring Neck Doves
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cute ducklings
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Gallahs
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Yellow Doves
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Cockatiels
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stunning Golden Pheasants
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All sorts of chickens including these Sikies
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and other animals from pigs
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to Turkeys
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and the resident, and very cuddly cat
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A trip into Brisbane city gave me chance to show Macca some sights I'd seen on my last visit as a tourist. But it was great to see the Jacaranda trees in full bloom this time
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though google has some stunning photos of these
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but one place I hadn't been to was the Pancake Maker... mmmm!!
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set in an old church
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Northpine Dam
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Heading out for a walk around the nearby Samsonvale Lake,
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We took Sally for as far as her little legs would carry her!
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The North Pine Dam is a mass concrete gravity dam with earth-fill embankments on abutments with a gated spillway across the North Pine River that is located in the South East region of Queensland, Australia.
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The main purpose of the dam is for supply of potable water for the Moreton Bay region and Brisbane's northern suburbs.[1][4] The impounded reservoir is called Lake Samsonvale.
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We went back another evening to enjoy some champagne at sunset
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it was a good week of good food, good wine and good company.
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Posted by charlystyles 12:08 Archived in Australia Tagged albany_creek samsonvale_lake northpine_dam Comments (0)

Mount Sorrow, Cape Tribulation - Far North QLd

sunny 31 °C

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The Mount Sorrow Ridge walk climbs from Cape Tribulation up he rainforest-clad ridge to a lookout 680m above sea level, offering views of the beautiful Daintree coastline, Snapper Island and beyond.
My companion for the day with Liam - the sort of person that sets off with a bottle of wine, and a 6 pack of beer!
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and required regular stops to roll a cigarette
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and transfer more beer to the bottle
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Recommended only for fit, experienced and well-prepared bushwalkers the 7km route can take 6-7hrs.
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The Mount Sorrow ridge trail traverses several kinds of rainforest.
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Tall, large-leafed lowland rainforest grows on the foothills and patches of cyclone-damaged scrub covered the lower slopes. High winds, particularly those associated with cyclones, break up the rainforest canopy.
This enables more light to penetrate, encouraging prolific vine growth.
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The first challenge was spotting this well hidden sign to the start of the narrow track
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0-1km
This steep section of the trail passes through lowland rainforest with a pandanus understory featuring fan palms, Cyclone damage is obvious - woody vines and lawyer cane thrive in this disturbed environment.
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1-2km
This part of the trail undulates and requires 'log hopping' and stepping around roots.
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Several kinds of trees here exhibit cauliflory - producing flower buds and fruit from their trunks.

2-3km
The trail ascend extremely steeply through this section, with the help of a rope.
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It also becomes narrow in places and more uneven with rocks and tree roots covering the trail surface. In this upland rainforest, cycads are prominent along the bumpy satinash and the stout, feather-leafed palm.
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A species of the primitive, clubmoss can also be seen in patches on the ground. at the base of the steep ridge, notice that the canopy above has become due to wind-shearing.
After a quick stop for some cold left over pizz from the night before
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and Liam now equipped with my compass
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b]3km to lookout[/b]
The final section of the trail passes through the forest dominated by acacias from the lookout views to the south-east encompasses the Daintree coastline and Cape Tribulation settlement. Snapper Island and the fringing reefs along the coastline of spectacular sights, on a clear day. (image below from google!)
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Unfortunately, despite the blue skies at sea level, it was not a clear day at the top - which was covered in cloud!
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With a bit of patience, the cloud cleared enough to see the sea, briefly
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A little anti-climax to such a climb!
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But still time for a sit down to enjoy some left over breakfast - French Toast, coloured by blueberries, honest!
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Heading back down this fella crossed our path - possible a Northern tree Snake
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and found this enormous leaf ... yes I'm in that picture!
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from the bottom, it was easy to see how the view had disappeared!
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A grand day out, with great company.

Posted by charlystyles 12:05 Archived in Australia Tagged cape_tribulation mount-sorrow Comments (0)

Cape Tribulation - Far North Queensland

sunny 30 °C

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The furthest point north on my travels up the east coast led me to Daintree National Park, north of Port Douglas.
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Crossing the Daintree River by ferry, it was an exciting way to enter this beautiful area
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It covers an area more than 76,000 ha (188,000 acres).
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The Cape Tribulation section of the park is a place of great beauty and one of a few places where the rainforest meets the sea.
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Captain Cook named Cape Tribulation in rue of the difficulties he was experiencing navigating the Great Barrier Reef.
"here began all our troubles" after he damaged his ship, the Endeavour, on a nearby reef.
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Since European settlement gold miners, explorers, timber cutter and farmers have all made their mark on Daintree National Park.
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Daintree National Park forms part of the significant Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and is adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Both areas are valued for their exceptional biological diversity.
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The Daintree is considered one of the most significant living records of the evolution of Australia's plants and animals. In the past, as the climate changed, much of Australia's rainforest retreated to refuges within the deep valleys and on cloudy mountain tops. Many of these ancitn species survive as living relics throughout Daintree National Park today.
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In fact, the rainforest of the Daintree represents one of the world's oldest living rainforests.
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The fringing reefs are visible at low tide, exposing flattened boulder-like corals and dull spongy soft corals sometimes covered in mud and sand.
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Looks can be deceiving as the diversity of corals on the fringing reefs can rival that of the outer reefs.
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The forests have long been important to original inhabitants the Kuku Yalanji. In the 1940-50s the trees were logged for cabinet timbers, before alternative lifestylers took over the logging lease in the 1970s. They built a commune with extensive orchards and gardens.

My home for the week was PKs Travellers Jungle Resort
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with a mixture of camping, dorm rooms, cabins and en suite rooms, it was a great village in the rainforest
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complete with local inhabitants like this Rhinoceros Beatle
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and plenty of Geckos
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The pool was great
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and the girls had a lot of fun with my underwater camera
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Julie was very taken by this May Bug she'd rescued from drowning
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On the far side of PK's was a track to the beach
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past the boardwalk through the mangroves
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and taking note of the warning sign for marine Stingers
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[b]Myall Beach
is a spot of paradise, where the rainforest meets the sand
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at the south end, Myall Creek meets the sea
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leading to Coconut Beach
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heading north along the beach,
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past Mason's Creek
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lined with Mud Skippers
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at the north end of the beach is Cape Tribulation
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climbing the rocks often gave great views down to turtles and sharks
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which gave great views back down the beach
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Taking a track through the scrub at the north end, led to Cape Tribulation Beach
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and up to Kulki Lookout
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The beaches were lined with shells and great examples of corals
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and also lots and los of cuttle fish skeletons, which we used to use for pet birds to sharpen their beaks - of all sizes
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and thousands of ghost crabs,
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creating millions of sand balls to massage your feet as you walked along the beach
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A popular activity was the horse riding that enjoyed the freedom to run along the beach
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Being so close to the beach was great, there was always something going on, like Beach Cricket!
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Walking along the beach one afternoon, we met a local that had a talen for making hats, from palm tree leaves!
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Something Annelein tried to replicate the next day
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Mud Skippers
One creature I'd never seen before lined the banks of the creeks in this area.
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Unlike most fish, mudskippers spend much of their life OUT of water! How do they do it? Mudskippers are fish and so they have gills.
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Once out of the water, their gills begin to dry out and stick together, so mudskippers have a special cavity behind their ears where sea water is stored.
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As they rotate their eyes, pressure is applied to that cavity and this reoxygenates the stored water, lubricates the gill flaps and restores the gills to their normal function.
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However, I didn't see any crocodiles as hoped! just these huge flowers
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About a 15minute walk down the road from PKs
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was Masons Swimming Hole
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It was a great way to cool off!
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dodging the fresh water turtles as we jump off the rope swing
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and thankfully catching a lift off a colleague to avoid a wet walk home!
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albeit a bit cosy in the back with Noah
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As always, It was great to get up early and enjoy the sunrise over the beach

usually followed by a run around the headland to Cape Tribulation Beach
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and I even persuaded the girls to join me - Julie & Annelien
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with Annelein's GoPro
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and of course, evenings on the beach with a fire was a great chance to watch the stars
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Sometimes, it's the people that make the place, and I'd had a lot of fun, with a lot of people including the girls, Julie, Annelien, Sam & Lisa
Liam
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James
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Mick Robertson - a jockey in his previous life
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I wish them well on their travels!
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Leaving Cape Tribulation and flying south to Brisbane gave great views over the Great Barrier Reef
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Posted by charlystyles 12:28 Archived in Australia Tagged cape_tribulation myall_beach masons_creek pk's_jungle_resort Comments (0)

Diving The Great Barrier Reef, Agincourt - Far North QLD

sunny

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The Great Barrier Reef is on of the largest living structures on the planet – so big that is visible from space. The image below shows the waves at the edge of the reef.
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Stretching 2,300km offshore off the Queensland coast, from south of Bundaberg to Cape York, it is similar in size to Victoria and Tasmania combined and almost one and a half times the size of the United Kingdom.
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The world’s largest coral reef ecosystem is more than coral.
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In addition to over 2,900 separate and varied coral reefs, the Great Barrier Reef includes inshore muddy shallows, seagrass meadows and mangroves.
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There are over 900 island, including coral cays and continental island.
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The amazing diversity and rarity of many species are among the reason for it’s World Heritage status.
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The Great Barrier Reef is an iconic destination and is a diver’s dream.
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The warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef, with temperatures ranging from 22-29 Celsius (75-85 Fahrenheit), makes for comfortable scuba diving all year round.
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The Great Barrier Reef’s ecosystem supports the greatest concentration of life on this planet including 1,500 species of fish, 400 different kinds of corals, 4000 species of molluscs and 10,000 species of sponges.

Silver Sonic
Heading out from Port Douglas, I had been advised to go with a company called Quick Silver, on one of their trips using their Catamaran Siler Sonic.
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Silversonic visits a selection of 22 stunning & exclusive reef sites at Agincourt Reef at the very outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef. they have two Aluminium boats which look pretty space like, this is Quick Silver VII
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Heading out form Port Douglas Marina,
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it was clear to see what makes this area so beautiful - the only place on earth where the rainforest meets the reef.
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It was 'stinger time' where marine stingers fill the oceans around the coast in this area, so stinger suits are worn under wet suits to avoid potential lethal stings... it's not my best look!
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Agincourt Reef
Is at the very outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef.
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Here, special reefs known as 'ribbons' run parallel to the Continental Shelf. Adjacent to the Coral Sea trench, these ribbon reefs are recognised as the most pristine eco-systems in the reef's environment.
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Clear water provides the best possible underwater visibility, encourages rich coral growth and supports spectacular marine life.

We stopped at three dive sites throughout the day:
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The Point
DEPTH: Maximum 25 metres
VISIBILITY: 15-30 metres, Average 20m

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Located on the very South Western point of Agincourt Reef #4 this is a transition zone between two very different reef environments.
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Here divers enter the water in a protected lagoon environment with colourful coral gardens before making their way around the point to drift along a deep water wall bordering the channel that exists between Agincourt reef #4 and Agincourt reef #3.
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Visibility here is generally good to great.
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This is a great big fish dive with schools of Red Bass, Big eye Trevally and Silver Drummer.
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A school of Barracuda is often seen a little further around the Point
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as one makes their way along the wall. Both Grey and White Tip Reef Sharks can be seen further along the wall.
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Throughout the dive large schools of Unicorn fish, Anthias and Fusiliers are encountered. Sandy patches host several large Sea Cucumber species with the GBR’s largest species, the Pineapple Sea Cucumber one of the most common.
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For the non diver the sheltered lagoon area is a favorite snorkeling area where non divers can get up close and personal with large Sweetlips, like this Spotted Sweetlips
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Maori Wrasse and Giant clams.
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Almost every species of Parrot fish found on the GBR can be seen in this area.
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The coral gardens here and on the adjacent reef flat are diverse and colourful.
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Other fish I saw included Butterfly Fish
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Reef Cod
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Five Banded Damsel Fish - Sergeant Major
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Morray eel
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Puffer Fish
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Rainbow Fish
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Lots of Stripeys
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and many, many others I can't name!
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Barracuda Bommie
DEPTH: Maximum Depth 22 metres
VISIBILITY: 12 - 30 metres, average 20m

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A deep water pinnacle situated close to the mid point of the sheltered side of this small ribbon reef is one of our most popular sites.
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Visibility is almost always fantastic since you are literally visiting the very edge of the GBR, next stop Fiji!
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For the divers the pinnacle holds not only the obvious school of Barracuda
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but also Dog Tooth Tuna
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and some fair size Grey reef Sharks. The pinnacle is a macro Photographers delight for shots
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like this Christmas Tree Worm.
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Here a huge diversity of some the reefs most colourful animals, the Nudibranch, are to be found by those with a keen eye. Feather starfish almost carpet the Pinnacles top.
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Look closely at these and you might find the tiny Squat Lobster that lives within the Feather Starfishes waving arms. Christmas Tree worms, tiny colourful Sponges, Hawk fish and Coral shrimps will keep the photographer busy.
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The reef edge itself creates a wonderful experience for novice divers and snorkelers. Huge ancient Boulder corals of Green, Blue and Yellow shelter bays with pretty coral gardens only a short swim from the pinnacle itself. These little Pipe Worms can be seen if you look closely
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Here, if you look carefully, you will find all of the colourful coral fish
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species you could think to name like these clown fish
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and probably many that you couldn’t.
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there were plenty of Stripeys
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Tusk Fish
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Spotted sweetlips
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Sergeant Major
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Damsel Fish
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Giant Clams
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Camouflage cod & Butterfly Fish
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Box Fish
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Blue-Finned Trigger Fish
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and a very quick Blue Spotted Stingray
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Castle Rock
DEPTH: Maximum Depth 24 metres
VISIBILITY: 08 - 35 metres, average 15m

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Located at the southern end of the Agincourt Reef, just around the corner from the continental shelf drop off, Castle Rock is a large pinnacle rising from a steep sand cliff.
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Visibility here is extremely good and Castle rock provides for superb deep and shallow dives.
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Circumnavigating the pinnacle the divers are likely to see White-Tip Reef sharks resting on the sandy ocean floor.
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Almost every dive, you are met by “Axle”
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a Malabar Cod,
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he is very friendly and will interact with divers,
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following them for the majority of the dive,
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he may even swim up to you looking to be patted.
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Curious Triggerfish
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will also swim close to have a better look at the divers.
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During the dive an abundance of Blue Lined Yellow Snappers and Sergeant Major Damsel fish will escort the group.
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Graceful Blue Spotted Lagoon Rays can also be seen “flying” underwater or buried in the sand, only their eyes and tails revealed.
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Christmas Tree Worms are to be found extended from the tubes they create within the ancient Boulder corals while Lionfish
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may be found lurking in the branching corals.
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Daisy the Flowery cod may also make an appearance.
The reef flat surrounding the pinnacle is perfect for snorkellers and for a shallow finish to a dive.
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Giant clams can be found in the shallower water along with many different fish including various Parrotfish, Wrasse,
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Damsel fish and Rays. Blue-Green Chromis can be seen darting back into the Stagorhorn coral gardens for protection as they are approached.
Simon investigated this coral, looking for baby clown fish
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such as these adults
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and had quite an effect on this sea urchin
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He was popular with the fish,
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We were also lucky enough to see this Angel Fish
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this leopard print style fish
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lots of friendly Trevalli
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and many many stripeys
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Also, as always, many other fish I can't name!
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and one special clam that produced electrofluorescent light!
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with thanks to the Silver Series: http://www.silverseries.com.au/

Posted by charlystyles 12:32 Archived in Australia Tagged scuba_diving great_barrier_reef silver_series silver_sonic agincourt_reef Comments (0)

Port Douglas - Far North QLD

storm

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Port Douglas
Situated 75km 9(47 miles) from Cairns, Port Douglas was once a tiny fishing village.
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Today it is a tourist centre, but it has managed to preserve some of it's village atmosphere.
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Macrossan St is typical of Australian country thorough fares, and at the end of the street is the beautiful Four-Mile Beach. Many 19th century buildings still line the street such as the Court House Hotel, and the modern shopping centres have been designed to blend in with the town's original architecture.
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The original port was set up during the gold rush of the 1850s but it was superseeede by Cairns as the main port of the area. A disaterous cyclone in 1911 also forced people to move elsewhere, leavin gthe population at less than 500.
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Dickson Inlet
Worlds cross over in Dickson Inlet. Here you can see trees that grow in salt water and fish that can walk on land.
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Mangroves like to live on the edge. Above the high tide line, they are home to birds and insects; below it, to fish and prawns. Their tangled roots trap mud, reducing erosion, and they put up a resilient barrier that can help reduce the impact of storm surges.
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Mud-skippers hop about at low tide, searching for food on the exposed mud.

St Mary’s by the sea was originally built in 1880.
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Destroyed by a cyclone and rebuilt in 1911.
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Relocated onto this site in 1988.
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Restored by Port Douglas restoration society in 1989.

Island Point Lighthouse
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The Lighthouse was blown over in the 1911 cyclone.
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The lighthouse was mounted on wooden stumps and the kerosene tins which held the fuel for the light are visible beside the wooden stumps.
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Looking out to sea 15km off the coat, there is the main shipping channel with a lighthouse on Low Isles, The original 1878 lens for that light is on display at the Port Douglas Court House Museum.

Despite the weather, a nice little wander around PD
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The following weekend, I sat back and enjoyed a beer whilst listing to some good live music at Portober Fest. But the highlight of the day was heading home, watching thousands of Flying Foxes heading out to feed
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as the sun set
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Posted by charlystyles 12:13 Archived in Australia Tagged port_douglas Comments (0)

Mossman Gorge - Far North QLD

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Setting off from the winery,
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I cycled past the sugar cane fields and passion fruit vines
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stopped to photograph a local goanna
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and on to Mossman, and out to Mossman gorge
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There are no cars allowed for the last 2km, only a shuttle bus, as it's quite a narrow road
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There are several walking tracks through the rainforest
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Ancient Tropical Rainforest
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Millions of years ago, much of Australia was covered with rainforest. As continents shifted and glacial periods came and went, the climate became drier. Only the mountainous regions of the north-east coast remained constantly moist. these areas became the last refuges of Australia's ancient tropical rainforests.
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The tropical rainforest of Daintree National Park are part of the largest continuous area of rainforest in Australia. Tall lowland rainforest cloaks the plains and valleys giving way to more stunted cloud forests on the higher slopes and mountain tops.
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Lowland rainforest grows in areas that are accessible for development and on soil that is suitable for agriculture and have been heavily cleared elsewhere in Queensland. Daintree National Park protects a significant portion of the remaining lowland tropical rainforest in Australia and is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

One pretty spot along the walk was this beautiful swimming hole
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perfect for a dip to cool off from the midday heat
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although I did have to share it with the resident jungle perch
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Mossman River
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The source of the Mossman River is high on the Main Coast Range and the Carbine Tableland. These mountains intercept moisture-laden winds coming in from the ocean, causing large amounts of rain to fall in the catchment area. This maintains the rainforest and feed both the Mossman and Daintree rivers.
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Heavy rainfall high in the mountains can cause the Mossman River to rise suddenly. The power of the river in flood is able to shift granite boulders, such as those you can see in the river bed.
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Not all the water in the rainforest comes from rain, high in the mountains where clouds and forest meet, trees 'strip' moisture from passing clouds. As clouds blow through the rainforest canopy, water is deposited on the leaves, sterns and trunks and then flows or drips to the ground.
In some months, up to 40% more water is harvests from clouds by the forest than falls to the ground as rain.
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Mossman Gorge is a popular place for cooling off. The water is crystal clear, although quite refreshing!
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but too tempting for this Englishman abroad
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Buttress Roots
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Rainforests need rain, but the wet conditions leave the soil unstable, waterlogged and low in oxygen. Some tress cope with these conditions by growing buttress roots.
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Buttresses stabilise trees in soggy ground - the wider the base, the less likely the tree is to fall over.
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They also collect fallen leaves and other organic matter, channelling valuable nutrients into the soil around the tree.
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Buttress roots are more common and usually larges in lowland rainforests. Many tress only product buttress roots if needed - so the same species of tree may grow large buttresses in wet lowland rainforests and no buttresses in dryer upland rainforests.
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Strangler Figs
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can begin life in the canopy on an upper branch of an established tree. Other fig trees make a conventional start form the ground.
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Boardwalk
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The material used to construct tis platform was created from recycled plastic. Seventy per cent is crap, left over from industrial processes, and 30 per cent is from domestic, kerbside waste (mainly HDPE plastic used for milk, juice and shampoo bottles). It provides a good, non-slip surface which requires less maintenance than wood. In this wet environment, plastic is more resistant to rot, it doesn't split or splinter and isn't affected by insects such as termites. Using it also saves trees.
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Recycled plastic car pack bollards and wheel stops, and picnic furniture are also used elsewhere in the park. These are constructed from 100 per cent kerbside waste; 2,500 two-litre milk containers are used to make one plastics setting.

A rugged cultural landscape
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These ancient cloud-covered mountains and clear flowing waters have been part of the traditional lands of the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Aborginal people for many thousands of years. The culture of the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people os interwoven with the landscape and the seasonal rhythms of this country.
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Wurrmbu (pronounced oorm-bu), a steep rocky peak also known as The Bluff, is a dominant feature of the landscape, as is the imposing twin-peak Manjal Dimbi (Mount Demi).
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An important Eastern KuKu Yalanji story for this place is that of Kubirri (Goo-bi-di). Kubirri can be seen as a large rock pinnacle on Manjal Dimbi. He is known as the good spirit who taught the old men to find food when they arrived in this area. Kubirri acts as the 'good shepherd', holding back the bad spirit, Wurrmbu, to protect the Eastern KuKu Yalanji people.

Talking Turkey
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Australian brush-turkeys are large, black birds with red heads, yellow neck wattles and upright, fan-like tails. They build large mounds of soil and leaf litter to incubate their eggs. Females lay their eggs in holes in the mound, where they are warmed by heat produced from decaying plant material. Male birds ten the mounds until the eggs hatch - adding and removing material to keep the temperature at about 33 degrees Celsius.

Rex Creek Bridge
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In 1985, due to the popularity of Mossman Gorge, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service decided to build a suspension bridge over Rex Creek - increasing access to the rainforest.
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High design costs and even greater labour costs resulted in QPWS calling in the Australian Army.
In September 1986 construction began. To protect the rainforest, all material were moved by hand from the car park to the water's edge Cement and about 20 tonnes of aggregate were loaded into sandbags and carried along the 700m track. Each sand bag held around 20kg of aggregate which meant about 1,000 return trips. some men walked nearly 50km a day travelling half that distance hauling materials.
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After a hot day of walking and cycling home, I stopped at the river crossing
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and cooled off!
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Posted by charlystyles 13:07 Archived in Australia Tagged mossman_gorge mossman_river Comments (0)

Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery - Far North QLD

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Set in the beautiful Wet Tropics of Northern Queensland, I had an interesting stay at Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery.
http://www.shannonvalewine.com.au
Making only single fruit wines (except one) from locally grown tropical fruits, there was a whole host of new experiences and smells!
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All the wine is made, bottled and labelled on site. The Cellar Door is open every day for tastings and sales.
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What better view to sit and enjoy a wine or two, protected from the sun by this very unusual Jasmine vine - only two flowers in he world are this colour
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The wines looked good on display
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and the cellar had 5 rows like this one to pick from
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A lot of my work was in preparing some of the fruits stored in several large freezers, such as de-pulping 45kg (out of over 100kg) of Passion Fruit

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The pulp can then be stored in much smaller capacity than the whole fruit - and my hands smelt great!
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experiencing a 'Star Apple' which was as good in colour as it was in taste
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The Black Sapote, used for one of the fortified wines was something I saw through the whole process.
The Black Sapote is skinned once it is very ripe
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and the pulp used for the wine.
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Over 80 5litre tubs were defrosted and emptied into the vat
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making quite a mess on the ceiling and walls
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A LOT of sugar was then dissolved into water, and mixed in with the Black Sapote before yeast is added and stirred in.
Whether the wine is aging in tanks or barrels, tests are run periodically to check the status of the wine. Common tests include °Brix - one measure of the soluble solids and represents not only the sugars but also includes many other soluble substances such as salts, acids and tannins, pH, titratable acidity. Brix is usually measured with a refractometer while the other methods use a hydrometer.
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Later, titration is used to measure the alcohol percentage
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and testing for Sulphur Dioxide
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After some time (depending on the fruit used), the wine is syphoned off, using a small pump and some large pipes!
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leaving the sediment at the bottom, such as this Jaboticaba
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originated from the fruit known as the Tree Grape
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and used to make the only red table wine, which was my favourite!
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Of course, there was wine tasting involved, to check for sure!
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Cardboard filters are used in the piece of equipment below to filter off the last of the sediment
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When the wine is clear, it is bottled off, after the bottled have been sterilised
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I did this with over 600 bottles of Ginger wine
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Stelvins are then pressed on
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The bottles are then labelled by hand, using this simple piece of equipment.
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Once sold, the bottles are placed in specially designed pwper bottle bags, and personalised with Shannonvale stickers - which all needed trimming and sticking
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One day, we had some regulars turn up - the Trike Tours
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The two resident dogs were good company, but even better at alerting us of customers.
Bouf
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Missy
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Another resident was this carpet python, seeking refuge in the warmth of the shed to digest it's last meal
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and there's always a Kookaburra watching
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My home for the time I was there was a caravan on the property
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and it was great to sleep with the door and windows open (with fly screens) listening to the sounds of the rainforest.
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Just up the road from the winery is a lane called Chooks Ridge that was a good uphill walk, to see this view
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and as always in Australia, an abandoned car
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made more interesting with the way this branch had fallen into the window
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and I had to stop and investigate this Green Ants nest ... with a very long stick!
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My last day of work was at the Taste of the Tablelands in Atherton with local producing offering their goods. So we were giving wine tasting and sales.
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It was a great day, with good music
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and good views on the trip up
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looking down to Mossman
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and Cooya beach
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Posted by charlystyles 13:30 Archived in Australia Tagged shannonvale_tropical_fruit_wine Comments (0)

Mossman - Far North QLD

The area north of Townsville leading up to Cairns is Australia's sugar-producing country, the cane fields backed by the Great Dividing Range.
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Northern Queensland is sparsely populated: Cairns is the only city, while Port Douglas and Mossman are small towns. Cape York is one of the most untouched wildernesses in the world, covering 200,000 sq km (77,220 sq mile) roughly the same size as Great Britain.
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Exploring the area around my current place in Shannonvale, near Mossman I got on the bike and cycled to the nearest beach, Cooya Beach.
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The road passes the neighbours Passion Fruit vines,
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and on through miles of sugar cane
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but you have to go thought the river crossing first!
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but with views like this,
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it's worth getting your feet wet!
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Turning through Mossman, past the Sugar Mill
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and arriving at the beach
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there was a huge Beach Almond tree at the entrance
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and some interesting shells along the beach
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such as this hermit crab,
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who had plenty of space to grow into his current home
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and a great view of this sailing boat
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It was a lovely spot to spend a few hours reading, looking towards Port Douglas
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It was great to be able to go from the winery to the beach on the bike
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This time, I cycled through Mossman to Newell Beach
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The road from Shannonvale is very straight
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passing Passion Fruit vines used in the making of one of the wines
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with mountains of the great dividing Range in the background, it's a beautiful area
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and on through the river crossing - keeping my feet up!
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The wind had been up, and the water was pretty choppy, and brown, but the beach was still beautiful, looking north
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and south towards Port Douglas at the far left of the spit
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the sand sparkled
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and it was great to sit and enjoy being the only person on the beach
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However, on the way home, I couldn't resist buying one of these watermelons
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the smallest one cost the equivalent of £3 but weighed 8kg, so it was well deserved when I got home!

Posted by charlystyles 12:17 Archived in Australia Tagged mossman cooya newell_beach Comments (0)

Cairns Botanic Gardens - Far North QLD

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Visitor Centre
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Flecker Botanic Gardens
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Dating from 1886, these gardens are known for their collection of more than 100 species of palm trees. they also house many tropical plants.
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The gardens include an area of Queensland rainforest with native birdlife.
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The Centenary Lakes were created in 1976 to commemorate the city's first 100 years.
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there are separate Saltwater
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and freshwater lakes
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It was amazing to see such a varierty of birdlife.
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In the photo above there are Pelican, Royal Spoonbills, Australian White Ibis, straw necked Ibis, Intermidiate Egrits, Little Black Cormorants!
and then, along came this amazing Jabiru
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even bigger than the large Pelicans!
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and with quite a wingspan
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Pelicans
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and around the lakes, were plenty of Scrub Hens
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Ulysses Butterfly
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This brilliant blue butterfly can be seen flying most of the year but is most common from February to May and is found in rainforest areas from Cape York to Sarina in Central Queensland.
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It is one of thirteen species found from the Molucca Islands in Indonesia to the Solomon Islands and Australia.
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Lots of other butterflies were flitting around the Flecker Gardens
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Most of them much better at sittign still than the infamour Ulysses!
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These Choclate Beehive Giner plants caught my eye
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Fishing pole bamboo – these plants are native to China where they are highly valued and have many used, including construction of fishing rods.
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And as always, bush turkeys were busy going about their business
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Tropical Palm Forest
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Alexander palms, Queensland Fan Palms and the climbing palm or Wait-a-whiles thrive in moist swampy soils.
Palm Rattan used for weaving
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The bright red seeds of the Alexander palms are consumed and spread by birds such as the migratory Metallic Starlings and Torresian Imperial Pigeons. Many seeds fall as the base of the palms where they germinate but fail to grow due to insufficient light and space.
The vicious recurved hooks of the Wait-a-Whiles allow this fast growing, climbing palm to reach the canopy and sunlight. The canes of this plant are commonly used in the production of furniture and baskets.
From August to January the bright blue fruits of the Blue Quandong cover the nearby forest floor. They are relished by Cassowaries and various other native animals.
Native ginger, Wild cardamom and Scrub breadfruit are the most successful of the understory inhabitants.

Lowland Paperbark Forest
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Giant Paperbark trees dominate the landscape. These magnificent specimens are the product of several hundred years of growth and their flowers provide nectar and pollen for insects, bats and small marsupials. Rainforest Aboriginals used their bark for covering shelters, constructing bark canoes and to hold food. Native Hibiscus is unable to remain upright in the swampy soil and grows vine-like through and across neighbouring trees.
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Red Arrow Circuit
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Climbs the slopes of the Whitfield Range and on to Mount Whitfield Conservation Park,.
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The steep walk passes through rainforest, eucalypt woodland and grassland and provides views of Cairns city, coastal mangrove forests, the Barron River,
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the airport
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and northern beaches.
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It was a long way up
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but worth the view
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Water Tank Gallery
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As part of the Botanic Gardens, there large old water tanks house various galleries
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Unfortunately, they were closed this day, but it really made me think - what a cool house I could make from one of these discarded relics!!
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Posted by charlystyles 13:21 Archived in Australia Tagged cairns_botanic_gardens Comments (0)

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