A Travellerspoint blog

October 2015

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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