A Travellerspoint blog

August 2015

Bowen biking & Proserperine - North QLD

sunny

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Heading out for the day with my new friend Barry, we travelled north to explore Bowen on his Vulcan 1700 Nomad
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Bowen is a friendly seaside town which boasts seven beautiful beaches that remain largely undiscovered by tourists. Bowen is home to the Bowen Mango, that is exported around the world, and is Queensland's oldest town.
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The Big Mango, costing $90,000 to create, was erected in 2002 as a tourist attraction at the Bowen Tourist Information Centre. In February 2014, the 10-metre high, seven-tonne fibreglass structure was stolen in an overnight operation.[8] The mango was found the next day and it was later revealed that the theft had been a publicity stunt.

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Bowen is located on the north-east coast of Australia, at exactly twenty degrees south of the equator. In fact, the twentieth parallel crosses the main street. Bowen is halfway between Townsville and Mackay, and 1,130 kilometres by road from Brisbane.
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Bowen sits on a square peninsula, with ocean to the north, east, and south. On the western side, where the peninsula connects with the mainland, the Don River's alluvial plain provides fertile soil that supports a prosperous farming industry
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Captain James Cook named Cape Gloucester on his voyage of exploration up the Australian coast in 1770. This "cape" turned out to be an island, and Gloucester Island dominates the view from Bowen's eastern beaches. Behind the island is a bay that forms an excellent port, which the town came to be built around. This bay was eventually discovered in 1859 by Captain Henry Daniel Sinclair, in response to a reward offered by the colony of New South Wales for finding a port somewhere north of Rockhampton. Sinclair named Port Denison after the colonial governor of New South Wales.
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Two years later, Sinclair led one group of settlers by sea, and George Elphinstone Dalrymple led another party overland from Rockhampton. They met on 11 April 1861 at Port Denison and founded the town of Bowen on the next day, 13 April 1861. By this time, the separate colony of Queensland had been established, and the town was named after Queensland's first colonial governor, Sir George Bowen.
Port Denison Post Office opened on 1 April 1861 and was renamed Bowen by 1865.

Bowen Jetty
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Bowen Jetty was completed in 1866 and first ship docked was A.S.N Company's ship the tinonee.
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The jetty eliminated laborious unloading of ships as they laid in the harbour. Prior to the jetty, ships were unloaded by smaller boats which were in turn met by drays being driven out as far as possible at low tide.
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The jetty and rail line of which some relics remain, have played an important role in the mining and agriculture industries for the Bowen region. The coal loading facility on the land adjacent to the pier was operational until the 1980's.
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The Ports Corporation Queensland today use the sheltered harbour and Bowen Jetty as the operational base for the tug boats
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which service the important Bowen Basin and Abbot Coal loading terminal which lies to the north of Bowen.
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Looking off the jetty, we saw several turtles
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and a large mantaray
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and stopped to watch the fishermen catching squid,
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and avoiding their squirting ink
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As we walked off the jetty, the sand seemed to be moving, as I looked closer there were hundreds of soldiers crabs,
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marching along
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this video shows their movements

Australia
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Baz Luhrmann brought international and Australia acclaimed actors Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Bryan Brown and Bradon Walters to Bowen to create the classic movie Australia. Hundreds of locals also signed up to become cowboys, soldiers, servicemen and women, drivers and policemen during the six weeks of filming.
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Filming in Bowen in 2007, each day hundreds of actors, crew and service personnel worked from early morning to late at night. Work started in earnest more than two months before the film crew arrived to transform the Bowen Front Beach and wharf area into Darwin of the 1940's.
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Bowen streets were layered with hundreds of tonnes of specially mixed red gravel and existing buildings were retrofitted with period facades and signage.
New and prefabricated buildings were hastily put together and all signs of modern construction were removed.
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The two storey Territory Hotel was the centrepiece of the large and detailed set which included a Police Station, the full size outdoor 'Pearl' theatre, Chinatown, a blacksmith and even a brothel.
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Similarly to the real Darwin during WWII, when the 'bombing' commenced the set was also 'destroyed' with fires, craters, wrecked vehicles and buildings.
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Once filming was completed, Bowen was returned to the 21st century over a four week period.

Riding up Flagstaff Hill, we stopped for a coffee,
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before admiring the views over the ocean
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and along the beaches
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down to Rose Bay
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along to Murrays Bay
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Horseshoe Bay
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and as we rode through the town, we noticed a stream of people walking out to a lighthouse island
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Apparently, each year, at the lowest tide, people cross the shallow waters to picnic on the island
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As Sea eagles sored overhead, we watch the rain clouds heading over from the directions we needed to be going
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but it produced a beautiful rainbow for the journey hom
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Heading back from Bowen, we rode passed numerous fields of sugar cane
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and on towards Proserpine is a charming, typical Australian country town.
Here's a video of our adventure:

A great day, on a great bike!
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Posted by charlystyles 13:18 Archived in Australia Tagged bowen Comments (0)

Whitsunday Magic - QLD

semi-overcast

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Just off the beach at Cannonvale, you can't help but notice this grand old lady, shipwrecked and lying on her side in the sand.
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Below is an account from the local paper explaining her demise
Whitsunday Times 31st Jan 2013
Broken-hearted boat owners are picking up the pieces after ex-tropical Cyclone Oswald tore through the Whitsundays last week.
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More than 20 boats were beached, sunk or totally destroyed as a result of the far-reaching storm system that started in the Gulf of Carpentaria and continued tracking south, leaving widespread damage to property and flooding in its wake.

Destructive winds and waves hit the Whitsundays in the early hours of Thursday morning when the carnage on the water started.

In Airlie Beach, a couple of boats hit the rocks beside the lagoon.

Whitsunday times 4th March 2013
The once-majestic tall ship Whitsunday Magic has come to an unsightly end off Cannonvale Beach.
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The boat ran aground on January 24 when the Whitsunday region was hit by wild winds.
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Bob Johnson, who was acting as caretaker on behalf of the vessel's Gold Coast-based owner, said for the first couple of weeks after the storm, Whitsunday Magic had managed to stay afloat.
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"We did prepare to get it off but the red tape basically took too long and she lay on her side and filled with water," he said.
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A Transport and Main Roads spokesperson said Maritime Safety Queensland had been in discussions with the vessel's owner over the arrangements for the vessel's removal.
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"Owners of damaged or sunken vessels are always responsible for the salvage or disposal of their vessels," the spokesperson said.
"[However], Maritime Safety Queensland understands not all owners are able to take immediate action and will work closely with them to help them meet their responsibilities."
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Meanwhile, Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan is warning locals and particularly children to stay away from the grounded boat.
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"Maritime Safety Queensland is warning sightseers to keep a safe distance and rightly so," Mr Costigan said.
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"It's pretty obvious that this vessel is on an uncertain angle and playing on or around the vessel could lead to someone being trapped inside or under the hull, if she were to move," he said.
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Whitsunday Magic was once one of the region's premium overnight sailing boats. It originally sank while tied to a Shute Harbour jetty in August 2011. For the past few months it was moored in Pioneer Bay.
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Courier Mail 28th December 2013
Almost a year later, the shipwreck remains lying askew off Airlie Beach and has become something of a tourist attraction in its own right while lawyers argue who is responsible for the $250,000 salvage bill.
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It's not the first time the 34m ship has hit bottom. The Turkish-built charter boat sank in August 2011 while tied to a Shute Harbour jetty.
She was refurbished and sold to Gold Coast buyer Ian Robert Freeman but its second chance was short-lived.
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Mr Freeman has tried to wash his hands of it, with his lawyers telling a Gold Coast court last week that he simply could not afford to move it.
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Freeman recently fronted the Southport Magistrates Court after the Department of Transport charged him with failing to remove the ship without reasonable excuse, a crime under the Transport Operations Marine Safety Act that carries a maximum $20,000 fine.
Barrister Marcin Lasinski pleaded Freeman's case, alleging the costly shipwreck had come during troubled times for his client's Gold Coast scrap metal business Coastwide Metals.
He said Freeman had been left financially strapped and asked for a nominal fine of $1000.

After a year in the elements the once proud charter boat is a shell of its former self.
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Tourists once paid more than $700 for a luxury three-night stay with air-conditioned rooms, a bar and access to scuba diving and coral reef trips in a smaller glass-bottomed boat.
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These days they simply walk out to the wreck at low tide and pose for photos, though it's a pretty muddy beach to walk across!
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With the dangers of poisonous cone snails to contend with!
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Local hotel worker Sheena said it had become an attraction of a different kind.
"I don't mind it. It adds the view and photographers and tourists like it," she said.
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Two years later, the ghostly ship is now covered in barnacles, and falling apart.
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Posted by charlystyles 13:38 Archived in Australia Tagged whitsunday_magic Comments (0)

Airlie Beach - QLD

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Next stop on my travels north was a destination I'd been waiting to get to, and had no plans onwards - Airlie Beach.

I was staying at Bush Village, Cabins, paying for my board and food by cleaning. I was welcomed into the role by Jude and Leandro (the current workawayer)
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and Brian
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Bush Village is in Cannonvale, about 2 miles out of Airlie Beach, with 17 cabins surrounded by beautiful gardens
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and palm trees
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It was great to have my own space to spread out and not live out of my bags
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At night, the pathway was lit up,
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with the moon shining down
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and cockatoos visited regularily
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On my first afternoon, Jude took us down the road to Shute Harbour
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Serving mainly as a boarding point for ferries between the Whitsunday Islands and the mainland, it is also home to many charter boat operations.
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It is second only to Sydney’s Circular Quay as the busiest commuter port in Australia and it has the largest seaplane airbase in the Southern hemisphere.
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There are regular bus and taxi services available to and from the port which take the winding road through Conway National Park towards the harbour.
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Shute Harbour takes its name from Shute Island, named after a crew member of HM Kangaroo.

Airlie Beach is the hub of the Whitsundays.
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Vibrant and alive, Airlie Beach provides the base for fun and adventure.
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with beautiful beaches
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and beautiful views
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Bicentennial Boardwalk goes from Port of Airlie right around to Cannonvale Beach.
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The 3.7km long boardwalk winds along Airlie's beautiful coastline with magnificent views of the coral Sea, along mangroves and botanical gardens.
As I was staying in Cannonvale it was great to have such a beautiful walk in to town, and I did this almost every day.
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along the way, it was interesting to see this shipwreck, or not, if the tide was in - the Venus-Portsmouth. The timber deckhouse of this steel-hulled motor-sailor broke up in front of a large crowd on the rock wall outside Sorrento's at Abel Point Marina during Cyclone Oswald in January 2013
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and walking back in the moonlight was magical
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Most mornings I went for a run to make the most of the cooler air, along the great Bicentennial Walkway.
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Sometimes I was early enough to watch the sunrise, from Cannonvale
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and along to Shingley Beach
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The town centre has recently undergone a $23 million upgrade and the whole town feels fresh and alive.
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Overlooked by a picture puzzle of houses
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The Lagoon is a popular spot for sunbathing and cooling off safely
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On saturdays and on days when cruise ships came to town, a small market popped up on the foreshore, along with other activities, such as camel riding!
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and sand forming
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another activity people enjoyed was skydiving
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On the far side of Airlie Beach is the Port of Airlie an up and coming area of housing, cafes with a marina
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with some blossoming Frangipani
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Nearby is another beautiful beach, Boat Haven, only this one has the added attraction of a safe, fun swimming area for children
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One afternoon I went for a walk to Airlie Creek.
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The 850m track varied from an easy going grade of less than 5 degree slope to a gravel path up to 20 degrees. and all of it was uphill, in 27 degree heat!
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Apparently it featured rare flora and fauna such as the Whitsunday Bottle tree and the endangered Prosperine Rock Wallaby, which are only found in that region. I did see a lace monitor and a turkey investigating each other!
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and the beautiful nest of the green ants, held together with silk extracted from the larvae.
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This was an impessive Strangler Fig tree
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that dwarfed me
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Apparently the path passes tranquil rock pools, magnificent fig trees and sub tropical plants. In reality, there hasn't been any significant rain for quite some time, so there wasn't any water in the creek, nevermind tranquil rock pools!
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Still, it was fun to go rock climbing up the dry creek. Just a shame there were no views over the coast from that height due to the trees.
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It's always good to see some of the local wildlife, such as these Black Ibis that I'd not seen before
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and these Friar Birds, although pretty ugly, they contrasted well against the red Wheel of Fire flowers
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Whitsunday Opals
One shop in town got my attention immediately and kept drawing me back - opals & didgeridoos. I've searched every jewellery and opal shop on my travels since buying an opal stone for my birthday back in March. As soon as I walked in and started talking, I knew I had found the place and the person to design and make my ring! Sunny - by name and nature
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The shop had a large collection of original Australian didgeridoos and Aboriginal artwork.
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I was invited to join in on a group didgeridoo lesson - which had me laughing
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But I also learnt that in aboriginal art
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there are some key symbols that have meaning,
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and these could be used to put together a story to be painted on to your own didgeridoo
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Sunny invited me to Tuesday Tea on the beach - where people got together to chill out and play music
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It was great to be out, to meet people and sit and enjoy such a beautiful beach lit up at night
This fella made me laugh - he has the biggest beard and the smallest guitar
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but there were several other guitars knowing around that people picked up and played, whether they were beginners or advance
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Then there was a whole range of other percussion instruments that came out
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and just before I left, I was serenaded, by Sunny who sang beautifully
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But one of my favourite past times is to watch the sun set,
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and it was great to see the water change colour over Abell Point Marina
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When it came to leaving, we had the last supper, with Jude & Brian and Claus & Renata, a German couple staying at Bush Village that I had become friends with during my stay

even the Rosellas got to try the cheese and biscuits
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much to the annoyance of the Cockatoos
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Below is a collection of short clips from my time in Airlie Beach

Posted by charlystyles 14:31 Archived in Australia Tagged airlie_beach abell_point_marina whitsunday_opals Comments (0)

Finch Hatton Gorge, Eungella Natioanl Park - QLD

sunny

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Eungella National Park is the main wilderness area on the central Queensland coast and encompasses some 50,000ha (125,000 acres) of the rugged Clarke Ranges.
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Volcanic rock covered with rainforest and subtropical flora is cut by steep gorges, crystal clear pools and impressive waterfalls tumbling down the mountainside.
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For hundreds of years people have been lured to this place of great richness and beauty.
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Long before the spread of roads and towns, people from the Birri Gubba language group walked along creeks and rivers to access the riches if their traditional homeland descendants keep their heritage alive today.
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Rising 1260m, Mt Dalrymple is a towering feature of this park among the highest peaks in Queensland. On their first attempt to climb Mt Dalrymple in July 1877, Henry S Finch-Hatton and his party found themselves on the wrong spur with insufficient provisions to continue.
Less than one year later, their failure was forgotten - Finch-Hatton, Frank Boyle and C.C.Rawson reached the summit. they wrote "Clouds lifted at 5pm and we saw about the finest sight it was ever my lot to witness. Magnificent panorama for about an hour, when clouds settled down and rain came again."
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At a time when the area was being developed for farming, John Henry Williams and his sin Jack worked with Senator Ian Wood to secure 40,000ha of this area as Eungella National Park in 1941.

Araluen Cascades
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After driving through fords,
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just a few strides into the rainforest you feel a million miles from your car.
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Cool, moist air will fill your lungs as the trees and smooth boulders close in around you. Lewin’s honey eaters call from high in the canopy and eastern yellow robins flit from low branches to the leaf litter.
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You hear Araluen Cascades before you see them.
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Continuing on from Araluen Falls, with creek views and crossings at every turn. we came to Callistemon Crossing where there used to be a bridge among the palms,
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but now it's a challenge to rock hop across the river
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past this large tree
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and on up over 350 steps weaving through tall tulip oaks and red cedars.
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to reach Wheel of Fire
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In summer showy red flowers scatter along the track which have fallen from the firewheel trees above, giving the place it's name. however, in August we saw these beautiful fungus
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and this heart shaped one
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With the challenge of the stairs over, it’s great to enjoy the calm rock pools listening to whipbirds calling and noisy pitas rustling through the leaf litters.
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The granite outcrops and boulders were once well below the surface.
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The granite formed as a great molton body about 280 million years ago, when parts of the continental crust melted during a period of heating.
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The heat arose as the great crustal plates beneath were compressed and then relaxed.
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After cooling and solidifying some kilometres underground, the granite has been exposed over time as the older rock above has been weathered away.
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The gorge is a result of a fracture in the rock, with the creek carving its way through this area of weakness.
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Tucked away in creek-line crevices, the Eungella tinkerfrog and Eungella dayfrog live exclusively here. Both species are a rare sight, but we heard a tinkerfrog calling from the creek a s aseries of high-pitched metallic ‘tinks’

A great walk with a great person, Ning
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Posted by charlystyles 13:12 Archived in Australia Tagged finhc_hatton_gorge wheel_of_fire_cascade araluen_cascades Comments (0)

Platypus at Eungella National Park - QLD

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About a 45min drive north west of finch Hatton Gorge is Eungella National Park, so we went to explore one evening, up this windy road
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Sky Window
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Views across the Pioneer Valley to the steep, rugged northern wall. In May 1860, John Mackay travelled from the New England district through Nebo Shire to find and claim grazing land. At the head of the Pioneer Valley near Eungella, not far from this spot. He saw level country extending to the sea. Several small pastoral leases were soon established. In the late 1800s agriculture struggled following a cyclone and several drought. Settlers turned to mineral prospecting as an alternative source of income.
Just one km south of here, prospectors followed Charlie Armstrong’s pack horse track to reach the goldfields. Then in 1888 Kari Flor blazed a shorted, faster trail. While the mining boom lasted only until 1910, its legacy was long lasting – opening up undeveloped country, creating transport routes, employment and opportunities for migrants.
Looking across the expanse of the Pioneer Valley imagine it hundreds of years ago with a thick carpet of forest spread as far as the eye can see. From the early 1900s, dense forest was gradually felled with the expansion of two key industries – cane and dairy farming.
Extensive logging of red cedar began in 1904. The township of Eungella was founded with the first road up the range from the Pioneer Valley built in 1906.
The Wiri people of the Birri Gubba nation created pathways along creeks and rivers here in their traditional homeland. Later, prospectors and pastoralists used the same trails and blazed more with their packhorses to access this landscapes’ richness.

Platypus
A definite highlight of my stay, and my trip around Australia was the rare opportunity to see Platypus - not one, but 5, within 20mins, along a newly refurbished boardwalk at Broken River
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Imagine being the first European to see and describe strange ‘duck-face moles’ swimming beside hard-shelled reptiles in a river.
Rapid ripples and bubble trails are the distinctive signs of a platypus busily feeding.
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Beneath each ripple platypus are hunting with their eyes, ears and nostrils shut. Tens of thousands of specialized receptors )called ‘push rods’) in the skin of their bill sense movements as far away as 15-20cm, registering the displacement of water caused by moving prey.
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On the surface of their bill, sensory mucous glands called ‘electroreceptors’ detect electrical current from muscle contractions of prey – just a fraction earlier – allowing the platypus to judge the distance to its next meal.
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When not in the water, platypus are most often found at rest in camping burrows throughout their home range. Burrows typically extend 1-4m but platypus have been known to dig burrows up to 20m long. Well hidden entrances allow platypus to enter and exit without being seen, but for extra insurance, nesting females will often plug their burrows with 30cm of dirt.
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Webbing on the front feet folds back when on land, and sturdy claws prove handy digging tools. Tails are useful as in the water as on land, used top push around and tamp down soil.
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Platypus store food in cheek pouches at the back of their jaw and resurface to eat. Rather than chewing, they mash food between rough plates that grow continuously inside their upper and lower bill to offset the wear and tear of grinding food.
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  • Forage for 10-12hrs each day and consumes 15-80% of their body weight depending on the time of year

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  • Diving and feeding for 30-60 seconds at a time.

Just to add to the challenge of spotting Platypus, the river is also home to these Turtles
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Other local residents making the most of the last minutes of day light were the Bush Turkeys
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Posted by charlystyles 13:34 Archived in Australia Tagged platypus eungella broken_river Comments (0)

Flying Fox, working in Finch Hatton Gorge - QLD

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Suspended 25m above the forest floor, in the middle of Finch Hatton Gorge is a Flying Fox - a high wire!
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My job was to settle people into heir harness, and hook them on to the wire at the top
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They then descended the two wires, the first 230m long, to a platform and on along another 110m to the finish, where Ning or I would un-hook them
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To get an idea of this unique experience, have a look at my video here

The office was a few meters walk from the house, and a pretty special place to work from
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all built by Dave
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complete with resident skink
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As people arrived, we would give them the gear the needed, harness, gloves a pully and a break and Dave would demonstrate and give them chance to have a go before walking up (75 steps plus) to the top of the wire
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Dave would set off first, ready to meet them at the platofm
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and send them on to the end platform by the counter weight
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Every morning Ning and I would walk the entrance
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and then go down the wire,
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scaring the bats to move on to other trees - and the best way to scare big fruit bats - snap branches!!
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It was nice to get down to a welcome party of Lucky and Tyke!
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Some mornings there was a beautiful mist over the hills at the top of the wire
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The difference with this flying Fox (high wire) to many others is that you are given a break, so you can go at your own pace, stop and have a good look around, not only at the scenery in the tree top, but at the bats, which can settle pretty close to the wire
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Flying-foxes (also known as Fruit Bats) are the largest bats in the world, and they’re quite different from the microbats.
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They use night visions instead of echolocation to navigate, they feed on fruit and blossoms rather than insects, and they roost in large groups called camps, hanging in tree branches rather than in caves or tree hollows.
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They have excellent vision.
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There are about 60 species of Flying-foxes world-wide, found primarily in tropical and sub-tropical areas.
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Australia has four species of flying-fox, all of which are protected species.
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Flying foxes travel up to 50km to find food.
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Though it seemed we weren't the only ones to enjoy the fresh oranges off the tree...
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Most camps are found at low elevations, on flat land or moderate slopes and near waterways
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There are only 3 species of vampire bats and they only occur in Central and South America.
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Despite myths, bats are clean animals that groom themselves regularly.
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Although some bats do naturally carry diseases, the vast majority of bats are not likely to harbour a disease.

Posted by charlystyles 13:26 Archived in Australia Tagged flying_fox fruit_bats finch_hatton_gorge Comments (0)

Flying Fox, living in Finch Hatton Gorge - QLD

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Finch Hatton Gorge in Pioneer Valley is in an area that is the centre of the country's beef and sugar industries.
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Recognising the land's potential, pastoralists followed hard on the heels of the explorers who opened up this region in the 1840's. Sugar production had begun by 1869 and by 1880 it was a flourishing industry. Marian is home to the region's largest sugar mill, which operates constantly during cane crushing season, from June to November.
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In tandem with the agricultural boom, southern Queensland thrived in the latter half of the 19th century when gold was found in the region. Although much of the gold has been extracted, the region is still rich in coal and has the worlds largest sapphire fields.
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In the mornings and afternoon I enjoyed accompanying Josh to schookl as he was leanrign to drive, and I got to drive back through the beautiful landscape
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Amid the mineral landscape there are also some beautiful national parks.
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Tucked into the hillside near finch Hatton Gorge, Dave had built a beautiful property, using stones found on the property.
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The house was completely off-grid and self-sufficient. Water was sourced from the nearby creek and power was sourced form the sun or water wheel in the creek.
Veggie's were grown on the green roof, and the property was full of fruit trees including grapefruit, orange, lemon, avocado and mango.

Within a few hours of arriving, I'd been introduced to three other workaways, (two of whom would be leaving the next day) and was taken rock hopping up the gorge with Betty, Ning and Manis by family friend Ren.
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Pioneer Valley is a wonderland of waterfalls, lush flora and volcanic boulder formation contrast against as tapestry of sugar cane fields.
Ren & Manis made it look easy
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but Ning only has little legs, and was glad of Ren's help over the large jumps!
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Betty, wasn't so sure about the activity
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But it was great to be in a beautiful national park
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where trees grow in the river at low water levels
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and rock pools are perfect for swimming in, in the summer months!
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I got back into playing chess, and learnt a new, more simple version using only the pawns. But one highlight was the best egg cup I've used so far in Australia...
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One of the on-going jobs was building a new set of steps at the front of the house
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using local materials found on the property
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It was great to get to know two dogs of the infamous breed The Australian Cattle Dog (ACD), or simply Cattle Dog.
Lucky & Tyke
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A breed of herding dog originally developed in Australia for droving cattle over long distances across rough terrain.
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In the 19th century, New South Wales cattle farmer Thomas Hall crossed the dogs used by drovers in his parents' home county, Northumberland, with dingoes he had tamed.
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The resulting dogs were known as Halls Heelers
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It has been nicknamed a "Red Heeler" or "Blue Heeler" on the basis of its colouring and practice of moving reluctant cattle by nipping at their heels.
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The other local resident was Nibbles, the guinea pig, who was particularly squeaky if he heard anyone eating an apple!
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One un-tamed resident was a Carpet Python who liked to curl up on the invertor for heat
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or maybe somewhere else in the warm tin shed
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We had a day out to do the weekly shop and see the sights of Mackay, the main access point for Eungella and a prosperous sugar town.
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Some-what low key from a tourist point of view but has thirty beautiful white sand beaches, lined with casuarinas.
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The second largest coal-loader in the world is at Hay Point, where trains more than 2km long haul coal from the western mines for shipping overseas.
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The A-Team with Dave & Ning
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In true Aussie style, I was welcomed with a BBQ, to celebrate Dave's birthday, which was a great chance to get into Dave's home brew, which was never in short supply!
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and Josh had made an amazing cheesecake...
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It was a great opportunity to try and catch the meteor shower, but there weren't any passing where we were at this time. However, I did get these star trails
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I was then given a true Aussie send off - with another BBQ at the neighbour's, Warren & Rosine's. I met their cats, Shelly
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& Spike
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who decided to join the party at people height by climbing a nearby step ladder
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whilst standing enjoying some of Dave's home made beer, it was a fitting end to my stay to watch over 4,500 of 'our' flying foxes leave camp to look for food
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more on them in the next blog!

Posted by charlystyles 13:44 Archived in Australia Tagged flying_fox finch_hatton_gorge Comments (1)

Gladstone, Agnes Water & 1770 - QLD

sunny

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Heading north I chose to stop over in Gladstone, rather than sit on a bus for 12 hours!
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Gladstone is a town dominated by industry.
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However, industry is in harmony with tourism and the environment.
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The world's largest alumina refinery is located here, processing bauxcite mined in Welpa on the west coast of cape York Peninsula.
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Five per cent of the nation's wealth and twenty per cent of Queensland's wealth is generated by Gladstone's industries. Gladstone's port, handling more than 35 million tonnes of cargo a year, is one of the busiest in Australia.
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There are however more attractive, sights in and around the town.
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The town's main street has an electric variety of buildings, including the Grand Hotel, rebuilt to it's 1897 form after fire destroyed the original in 1993.
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South of Gladstone are the tiny coastal villages of Agnes Waters and the quaintly named "1770" in honour of Captain Cook's brief landing here during his journey up the coast.
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Gladstone Hostel had recently changed hands, and Errol was looking after it for the owner, his son. He fancied some time away and was kind enough to take me for a drive to see these two remote and beautiful towns.
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Whilst enjoying a pub lunch and a point, we had the pleasure of an MG meet - and what a view!
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Posted by charlystyles 13:58 Archived in Australia Tagged agnes_waters 1770 gladstone seventeen_seventy Comments (0)

Rockhampton Tuff Bull Rodeo - QLD

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Rockhampton is situated 40km inland and often referred to as the 'beef capital' of Australia and geographically the Tropic of Cancer runs through the town.
Also running through the town I saw this cattle train one evening
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Rockhampton was founded in 1854 and contains many restored 19th-century buildings. Quay Street flanks the tree-lined Fitzroy River and has been classified in its entirety by the National Trust.
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The Great Western Hotel is one of Australia's most renowned and iconic hotels. Established in 1862, the Great Western Hotel is one of Queensland's oldest hotels. Developed as a national tourist destination, the Great Western Hotel pays tribute to contemporary Australian bush culture and boasts its own indoor rodeo area, making it the only hotel in Australia, and one of only two in the world, with its own indoor rodeo arena.
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The Nissan Navara Arena is a multi-faceted Entertainment Centre with seating for up to 2,500 people, making it one the largest indoor entertainment venues in regional Australia. The hotel features five bars, a steakhouse restaurant, gaming saloon and retail outlet. Bullriding is held at the venue most Wednesday and Friday nights also once a month on a Saturday Night.
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My bus got into town at 7.30pm, and I had to catch another bus to leave at 3am ... but it was definitely worth it to see this event!
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It's an electric atmosphere, and everyone waits with baited breath up to 8 seconds to see if the rider can stay on.
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The monement and low light conditions were hard to take good photos in. But you can see the look in this bull's eye as they contemplated running at me whilst I knelt at the fence!
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My video below will show clips of the action...

Posted by charlystyles 13:14 Archived in Australia Tagged rodeo rockhampton bullriding great_western Comments (0)

Whalesong Whale Watchiing, Hervey Bay - QLD

sunny 25 °C

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Each year between April and November, Australia's eastern coastline is a scene f spectacular acrobatic displays of humpback whales.
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After a summer of feeding on krill in Southern Antarctic waters, these charismatic animals migrate north to sub-tropical waters where they mate and give birth.
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the majority of humpback in Australian waters migrate north between June and August and back towards the Southern Ocean from September to November during their annual migration of up to 10,000km.
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At a maximum length of 16m, the humpback is not the largest whale found in the Australian waters. This species was once only valued dead - mainly for it's oil and baleen or 'whalebone'.
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During the 1790's and early 1800's whaling ships, mainly from Britain, visited ports in New South Wales and Tasmania to unload whale products, but commercial whaling in Australia really developed during the late 1820's.
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Whalers obtained oil from the whales for use as lamp fuel, lubricants, candles and as a base for perfumes and soaps.
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By 1845 twenty six thousand whales has been killed.
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Beginning in Australia shortly after European colonisation, whaling and the export of whale products became Australia's first primary industry.
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Early Australian whalers once hunted from small boats, towing their catch back for processing at shore stations.
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The development of harpoon guns, explosive harpoons and steam-driven boats made commercial whaling so efficient many whale species came very close to extinction. When southern right whales and blue whales became scarce, Australian whalers to target humpback whales, killing approximately 8,300 off the east coast between 1949 and 1962, until the International Whaling Commission banned humpback whaling in the Southern Hemisphere in 1963.
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Aerial and surface surveys indicate that from an estimated 200-500 humpback whale left in 1962, 1,900 now migrate up the east coast of Australia.
Humpback whale numbers are recovering and now there are thought to be up to 5,000 breeding in Australian waters.
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  • The Humpback whale has no teeth, instead they have baleen plates that act like giant sieves.

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  • The Humpback Whale has two blowholes, one for each lung. Each of it's lungs is the size of a small car.

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  • A baby whale is called a calf. They are nearly one tonne when they are born and can suckle up to 600 litres of milk a day from their mums.

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  • A Humpbacks' lifespan can range from 48-100 years

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  • The song of a male humpback can travel for hundreds of kilometres and product sounds of 170 decibels

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Having met Cecile at the hostel, it was nice to have some company, and we made a good team - she did the waving, I took the photos!
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Wales are as interested in boats and people as we are in them. It's like watching TV, if nothings' happening, they'll switch off - so the best thing is to wave like a mad man!
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The boat cruise took us out towards Fraser Island, with the chance to see the rarely visited north west side
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and as we set off late, we had the bonus of heading back to shore as the sun was setting
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and to see the lights of Hervey Bay as we entered the marina
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Posted by charlystyles 13:02 Archived in Australia Tagged whale_watching hervey_bay whalesong Comments (0)

Hervey Bay - QLD

sunny

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Rust in Peace by Lyn Montogomery

As recently as the 1970's Hervey Bay was just a string of five fishing villages.
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However, the safe beaches and mild climate have quickly turned it into a metropolis of over 4,000 people and one of the fastest growing holiday centres in Australia.

I stayed in a lovely secluded place called Woolshed Backpackers, where cabins sit amongst the trees surrounded by hammocks.
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However, I was surprised to find very little there. So, as I've discovered a great way to explore a town is by bike, and I set off with map in basket.

First stop along the foreshore was Urangan Pier
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The Urangan Pier was opened in 1917 to export coal, timber and sugar from the Wide Bay hinterland.
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A hive of activity would buzz as the steam train rattled down the Urangan Pier. Bundaberg sugar, Burru, coal and Fraser Island timber would be loaded onto cargo ships for export around the world.
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It operated until 1985 when it was decommissioned as other ports opened up and methods of transport changed and orders were given by the state government for the 1,100m long structure to be demolished.
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As the worked moved in to demolish the pier there was public uproar and the 'Save the Pier' campaign was started which resulted in the last 880m of the structure being saved. On June 30th 1994 responsibility for the pier was transferred from the State Government Department of Harbour and Marine to the Hervey Bay City Council along with a contribution of $250,000 towards maintenance.
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Now it is a hive of activity for fishermen, and therefore pelicans
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and other sea birds such as this egrit
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Continuing on, I cycled past a little place just for me
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and on to Dayman Point
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Offering great views across the Great Sand Strait to Fraser Island, Dayman Point is one of Hervey Bay's most significant historical sites.
A sacred site for the Butchulla People, it was used for coroborees and as a lookout to watch for smoke signals from clan members on K'gari (Fraser Island)

Heading back toward 'town' I detoured to investigate the Botanic Gardens
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Surprisingly large I took about an hour walking around the gardens
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and paths
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and found the Chinese Gardens
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home to thie prehistoric Lace monitor
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Just down the road from the Botanic Gardens is Vic Hislops Whale and Shark museum
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I was quite disturbed by the place, so the less I think about it the better. Therefore I'm going to half inch a very good write up I found by Cheska Bennett for Nomads Adventures.
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Vic Hislop is a passionate man to say the very least. There are many other words that people may use to describe him but we shall stick with passionate. His shark show is a focal point in Hervey Bay, virtually impossible to miss thanks to the giant plastic shark that is stuck to the building and the shark mouth that greets you at the entrance. Simply put, if ever you wanted to learn all about sharks, warts and all, here is the place to do it.
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Vic Hislop's Shark show is a dedication to the fact that some sharks kill a lot of other animals and so in his opinion should be, let's say gotten rid of, in order to help protect other creatures and the many humans that encounter shark attacks every year. The reception alone is enough to gauge an idea as to how strongly this man feels about the subject and his theories about government and conservation corruption are most definitely a conversation starter.
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Adorning the walls are letters of complaints to various government groups as well as a full list of shark attacks and missing people thought to have encountered sharks. The pictures of various dead marine life found in various sharks stomachs is actually quite surprising, however this is nothing in comparison to what you will encounter inside the show.
Below is an image of a shark catching a bull seal.
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For $15 you get Vic Hislop's heart and soul, a video show and the option to view many a preserved shark organ or in fact the star of the show the giant 18ft frozen Great White Shark (rumour has it his original Great White fell apart so he purchased one from ebay) which is still in the trailer is used to tour around Australia in.
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Whatever you feel at the end of the experience, an experience it is. It's not the most beautiful scenery or the most cultural but Vic Hislop's Shark Show is arguably the most unique.

After being in a freaky museum where countless air fresheners go off automatically every few minutes and making me jump, I needed some fresh air! I continued back along the foreshore and to the far side of the bay at The Pines
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Hervey Bay is also the best places for Whale watching.
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Humpback whales migrate more than 11,000km (7,000miles) every year from the Antarctic to northern Australian waters to mate and calve. On their return between August and October, they rest at Hervey Bay to give the calves time to develop a protective layer of blubber before they begin their final run to Antarctica. I will post a separate blog on my great Whale watching experience.
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Posted by charlystyles 13:50 Archived in Australia Tagged hervey_bay Comments (0)

Tamborine Mountain, waterfall walks - QLD

sunny 20 °C

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Making the most of the beautiful scenery, we took the opportunity to get out and about

Cedar Creek Falls
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Surrounded by open eucalypt forest and dry rainforest, the creek’s deep gorges and reflective rock pools continue to attract visitors today. The Creek sustains life as it winds it’s way to Moreton Bay.
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Jingi walla wahlu – welcome to the lands of the Yugambeh – the traditional Aboriginals people of this region.
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The wangerriburra family group gathered their daily food needs from the forests and open woodlands of Tamborine Mountain and crafted domestic utensils and weaponry form the the natural resources around them.
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Cedar Creek Falls are close to a site that was part of a huge complex of three bora rings where Yugambeh and neighbouring groups gathered for corroboree and occasions of spiritual renewal.
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These gatherings became less frequent and eventually ceased when lands were subdivided for European settlement.
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Descendants of early European settlers to this region recall that their ancestors were able to attend the gatherings on selected occasions.
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Curtis Falls
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The dense forest of beautiful Joalah provides ideal habitat for the elusive Albert’s Lyrebird, which we saw, but it was too quick for me to photograph, so here's a couple from Google
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Majestic wet eucalypt forest, dominated by giant flooded gums, surrounds lush subtropical rainforest, with piccabeen palms, ferns and strangler figs.
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big enough to climb
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and old enough that the tree had died and hollowed out the strangler fig
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Past volcanic activity has created fertile soils derived from lava, which sustain the divers range of plant species found here.
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Cedar Creek tumbles over spectacular Curtis Falls as it winds its way down the mountain before reaching the Albert River.
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The pristine freshwater environment provides vital habitat for platypus, frogs and glow-worms.
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and this little woodpecker
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The path wound its way along the river
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There are ten different types of forest on Tamborine Mountain including rain forest, wet sclerophyll and dry sclerophyll. These forests contain over 900 different plant species. This accounts for 65% of all plants found in the Gold Coast area.

Early settlers started moving to Tamborine in 1876 (over 130 years ago). Much of the ancient rainforest and surrounding sclerophyll were logged and subsequently cleared for farm land and development. Farming on the mountain included dairy, citrus, avocados, cut flowers and rhubarb, to name a few.
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In 1906 the Tamborine Shire Council became concerned about the amount of clearing which was taking place. As a result Witches Falls was the first declared National Park in Queensland on March 28th 1908.
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and over the river
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with a few sections of steps
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and remnants of giants from the past
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Posted by charlystyles 13:28 Archived in Australia Tagged cedar_creek_falls curtis_falls Comments (0)

Tamborine Mountain, Birds & Beasts - QLD

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An unexpected afternoon of birds!
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when we stopped for a sweet treat at the Polish Place down the road from the house
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but it turned out we weren't the only ones with a sweet tooth
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A large flock of Rosellas had a good thing going on helping to clear the tables
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being a tourist attraction
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and otherwise looking pretty
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However, they were quickly outdone when I realised three of my favourite bird had come in for their supper - Kookaburras
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aren't they just the cool dudes of birds!
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it was such a treat to get this close to them
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and they almost seemed as interested in me, or the camera
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with the sun setting, it created some great lighting for effect
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Even this magpie wanted in on the action
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but time was running out, and the light was fading
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One special guest at the house, lived in one of the bedrooms and had the most amazing eyes!
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However, from everything I've read below, he shouldn't have been there...since Tamborine Mountain is in Queensland, near Brisbane...!
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Broad-tailed Geckos are largely restricted to the Sydney Basin area of NSW. They are found almost exclusively in sandstone outcrops, ridges and escarpments, where they hide in both vertical and horizontal crevices, or under rock slabs and in caves.
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They are well adapted to human settlement, finding shelter on buildings and in sheds, woodpiles, garages and dwellings adjacent to rocky outcrops.
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Large numbers may share a suitable shelter site; up to 16 individuals in one crevice. In such sites spider webs are often festooned with sloughed skins. However, they are more often found alone.
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Broad-tailed Geckos eat spiders, moths, beetles, cockroaches, flies, centipedes, millipedes and soft-bodied worms; they also eat smaller geckos. They emerge at night to feed, then rest motionless, usually head down and almost invisible, waiting to ambush passing prey.
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They are protected species, not often seen, but apparently widespread and successful in preferred habitats in the Sydney region, and in artificial habitat adjacent to natural sandstone areas.
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He was pretty friendly, and obliging to having his photo taken
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Posted by charlystyles 13:05 Archived in Australia Tagged kookaburra broad_tailed_gecko leaf_tailed_gecko rosella Comments (0)

Tamborine Mountain - QLD

sunny 20 °C

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Having met Mark a few weeks previously in Cabarlah, I couldnt' resist the offer for some time away at a property he looks after in Tamborine Mountain.

The house,
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although dated, had beautiful grounds,
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and the most amazing view from the bottom of the garden.
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It all takes a bit of looking after though, so I cut the grass
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with the help of a minor bird,
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waiting to pounce on any skink, worm or bug that showed his head
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and Mark trimmed all the shrubs and borders
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and at the end of the day, it was great to sit in my favourite chair with a view
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even on a misty morning
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Tamborine Mountain is a 28 square kilometres (11 sq mi) plateau (8 km long by 4 km wide) in the Scenic Rim local government area of South East Queensland. Tamborine Mountain formed from series of eruptions from a large shield volcano in the Mt Warning area around 22 million years ago. Then rain fall, which gradually created vallys and gorges, steams and creeks. Where these streams merged, sections became isolated creating ‘land islands’ or plateaus such as Tamborine Mountain.
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The name is of Aboriginal origin and has nothing to do with the musical instrument. The origin of the name Tamborine comes from the Anglicised version of the Aboriginal word 'Jambreen' which means 'wild lime' and refers to the finger lime trees growing on the mountain.

One of the main tourist attraction is the Glow Worm Caves
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In 2002 Mr Will Buch, the head Park Ranger, started to notice the glow Worm colonies in the national parks were rapidly disappearing, This was because there were too many people coming to see the glow Worms at night, exposing them to bright lights from torches and cameras. When Glow Worms are exposed to bright light they turn of their glow and hide, preventing them from catching their food.
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It was decided that a cave should be built in order to house a Glow Worm colony and give people the chance to see and learn about these amazing creatures in a safe environment, for both Glow Worms and people and reduce the impact people were having on Glow Worms in the National Park.
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Glow-worm larvae catch their food on lines of sticky threads. When tiny insects get caught on the lines the glow-worm pulls up the thread with its mouth until the prey is close enough to eat.
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It was amazing to be close enough to see the tiny larvae and their threads
Though as no photography was allows the above images are similar to what we saw, thanks to Google.

Outside the cave the local Eastern Water Dragons enjoy the man made river and bask in the sunlight
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Water Dragons live in a variety of habitats: woodland, rain forest, grasslands and throughout urban areas with nearby water sources. They love water and can often be found cooling off in creeks and pools on a hot day. At night they use their sharp claws to climb tress and sleep on branches overhanging the water for a quick get away from predators.

Another local attraction is St Bernard's Hotel & pub, with great views from the balcony
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and of course - St Bernards
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which I've never seen, so it was great to get so close to these gentle giants
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Heading out for lunch one day we drove to Canungra for a wlak along the river, which seemed popular with bikers
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shed markets
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and a very good pub for food and a cider
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A great week spent in a beautiful and less visited part of Australia,
with the stars above us
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and making the most of the sunsets!
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from the gazebo in the garden
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and from the hill nearby
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Posted by charlystyles 13:13 Archived in Australia Tagged tamborine_mountain mt_tamborine mount_tamborine glow_worm_caves st_bernards Comments (0)

Whitsundays diving - QLD

overcast

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Nestled in the heart of the Great Barrier reef, dotted with 74 tropical islands set amongst the azure waters of the Coral Sea is one of Australia's premier holiday destinations.
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the Whitsundays is world-renowned for its spectacular coastline with a myriad of off-shore island and the surround tropical marine environment of Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
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The majority of the Whitsunday Islands is designated National Park, leaving them uninhabited and in their purest natural state.
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Whales visit the Whitsundays every year on their annual migration. From July to October Whales are a common sight frolicking amongst the islands.
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I took a boat tour out to some of the local highlights, and included two dives around the islands.
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We passed several other boats
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as we headed away from the shore
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It was the most overcast day of the week, but still a beautiful place!
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Setting off from Hervey Bay, we passed some of the Whitsunday Islands
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and were lucky enough to see a whale and calf
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though maybe a little too close to this boat
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and soon arrived at Tongue Bay where we moored the boat and walked up to the view point
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over Whitehaven Beach
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The crystal clear waters and pristine white silica sand of Whitehaven Beach stretch over 7km along Whitsunday Island, the largest of the 74 islands in the Whitsundays.
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Whitehaven Beach has been voted the top beach in Australia and in the top 5 in the world.
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At the northern end of the beach is Hill Inlet, a stunning cove where the tide shifts the sand and the water to create a beautiful, swirling fusion of colours. A short beautiful walk through the woodland and dry rainforest of Whitsunday Island leads to the famous Hill Inlet Lookout.
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The Whitsunday island and coast all have fringing reefs - coral gardens very close to the shoreline with abundant marine life to explore.
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Then we walked down onto Lookout Bay
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where the water was warm and the sand so soft
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you just had to be careful not to stand on a lurking stingray
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The moody clouds gave contrast to the pristine white sand
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and I couldn't' resist leaving a little note
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Heading back through the national park, the beach on the other side of the inlet was thick with coral and shells
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Back on the boat we set off for Hook Island, for some exploration under the surface
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with my dive buddy Dean
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The weather was poor and the current the strongest I've dived in,
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but it's still a beautiful world down there, with colourful fish
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Five Barred
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Angelfish
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a very large Grouper
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and plenty of different types of coral
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but I think this one was my favourite
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and the fish obviously like them too
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and one very large clam
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There were some tight squeezes, through the over hanging coral
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and one that got hold of my respirator, and made me panic a little, but I didn't let it go
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and then, on the second dive, John decided to go under here
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which I considered, but thought I might just go over the top instead!

this video shows us just floating along in the current

Maybe not the best weather for it, but I had a lot of fun!
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Posted by charlystyles 13:15 Archived in Australia Tagged diving whitsundays hook_island Comments (0)

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