A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: charlystyles

Flying Fox, living in Finch Hatton Gorge - QLD

Finch Hatton Gorge in Pioneer Valley is in an area that is the centre of the country's beef and sugar industries.
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.
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.
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
Amid the mineral landscape there are also some beautiful national parks.

Tucked into the hillside near finch Hatton Gorge, Dave had built a beautiful property, using stones found on the property.
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.
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
but Ning only has little legs, and was glad of Ren's help over the large jumps!
Betty, wasn't so sure about the activity
But it was great to be in a beautiful national park
where trees grow in the river at low water levels
and rock pools are perfect for swimming in, in the summer months!

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...

One of the on-going jobs was building a new set of steps at the front of the house
using local materials found on the property

It was great to get to know two dogs of the infamous breed The Australian Cattle Dog (ACD), or simply Cattle Dog.
Lucky & Tyke
A breed of herding dog originally developed in Australia for droving cattle over long distances across rough terrain.
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.
The resulting dogs were known as Halls Heelers
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.

The other local resident was Nibbles, the guinea pig, who was particularly squeaky if he heard anyone eating an apple!

One un-tamed resident was a Carpet Python who liked to curl up on the invertor for heat
or maybe somewhere else in the warm tin shed

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.
Some-what low key from a tourist point of view but has thirty beautiful white sand beaches, lined with casuarinas.
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.
The A-Team with Dave & Ning

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!
and Josh had made an amazing cheesecake...
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

I was then given a true Aussie send off - with another BBQ at the neighbour's, Warren & Rosine's. I met their cats, Shelly
& Spike
who decided to join the party at people height by climbing a nearby step ladder

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
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


Heading north I chose to stop over in Gladstone, rather than sit on a bus for 12 hours!
Gladstone is a town dominated by industry.
However, industry is in harmony with tourism and the environment.
The world's largest alumina refinery is located here, processing bauxcite mined in Welpa on the west coast of cape York Peninsula.
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.
There are however more attractive, sights in and around the town.
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.
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.
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.
Whilst enjoying a pub lunch and a point, we had the pleasure of an MG meet - and what a view!

Posted by charlystyles 13:58 Archived in Australia Tagged agnes_waters 1770 gladstone seventeen_seventy Comments (0)

Rockhampton Tuff Bull Rodeo - QLD

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
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.
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.
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.
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!
It's an electric atmosphere, and everyone waits with baited breath up to 8 seconds to see if the rider can stay on.
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!
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

Each year between April and November, Australia's eastern coastline is a scene f spectacular acrobatic displays of humpback whales.
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.
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.
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'.
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.
Whalers obtained oil from the whales for use as lamp fuel, lubricants, candles and as a base for perfumes and soaps.
By 1845 twenty six thousand whales has been killed.
Beginning in Australia shortly after European colonisation, whaling and the export of whale products became Australia's first primary industry.
Early Australian whalers once hunted from small boats, towing their catch back for processing at shore stations.
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.
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.

  • The Humpback whale has no teeth, instead they have baleen plates that act like giant sieves.


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


  • 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.


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


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


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!
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!
The boat cruise took us out towards Fraser Island, with the chance to see the rarely visited north west side

and as we set off late, we had the bonus of heading back to shore as the sun was setting
and to see the lights of Hervey Bay as we entered the marina

Posted by charlystyles 13:02 Archived in Australia Tagged whale_watching hervey_bay whalesong Comments (0)

Hervey Bay - QLD


Rust in Peace by Lyn Montogomery

As recently as the 1970's Hervey Bay was just a string of five fishing villages.
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.

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
The Urangan Pier was opened in 1917 to export coal, timber and sugar from the Wide Bay hinterland.
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.
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.
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.
Now it is a hive of activity for fishermen, and therefore pelicans
and other sea birds such as this egrit

Continuing on, I cycled past a little place just for me
and on to Dayman Point
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
Surprisingly large I took about an hour walking around the gardens
and paths
and found the Chinese Gardens
home to thie prehistoric Lace monitor

Just down the road from the Botanic Gardens is Vic Hislops Whale and Shark museum
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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


Hervey Bay is also the best places for Whale watching.
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.

Posted by charlystyles 13:50 Archived in Australia Tagged hervey_bay Comments (0)

Tamborine Mountain, waterfall walks - QLD

sunny 20 °C

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

Cedar Creek Falls
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.
Jingi walla wahlu – welcome to the lands of the Yugambeh – the traditional Aboriginals people of this region.
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.
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.
These gatherings became less frequent and eventually ceased when lands were subdivided for European settlement.
Descendants of early European settlers to this region recall that their ancestors were able to attend the gatherings on selected occasions.

Curtis Falls
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
Majestic wet eucalypt forest, dominated by giant flooded gums, surrounds lush subtropical rainforest, with piccabeen palms, ferns and strangler figs.
big enough to climb
and old enough that the tree had died and hollowed out the strangler fig
Past volcanic activity has created fertile soils derived from lava, which sustain the divers range of plant species found here.
Cedar Creek tumbles over spectacular Curtis Falls as it winds its way down the mountain before reaching the Albert River.
The pristine freshwater environment provides vital habitat for platypus, frogs and glow-worms.
and this little woodpecker
The path wound its way along the river
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.
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.
and over the river
with a few sections of steps
and remnants of giants from the past

Posted by charlystyles 13:28 Archived in Australia Tagged cedar_creek_falls curtis_falls Comments (0)

Tamborine Mountain, Birds & Beasts - QLD

An unexpected afternoon of birds!
when we stopped for a sweet treat at the Polish Place down the road from the house
but it turned out we weren't the only ones with a sweet tooth
A large flock of Rosellas had a good thing going on helping to clear the tables
being a tourist attraction
and otherwise looking pretty

However, they were quickly outdone when I realised three of my favourite bird had come in for their supper - Kookaburras
aren't they just the cool dudes of birds!
it was such a treat to get this close to them
and they almost seemed as interested in me, or the camera
with the sun setting, it created some great lighting for effect

Even this magpie wanted in on the action
but time was running out, and the light was fading

One special guest at the house, lived in one of the bedrooms and had the most amazing eyes!
However, from everything I've read below, he shouldn't have been there...since Tamborine Mountain is in Queensland, near Brisbane...!
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.
They are well adapted to human settlement, finding shelter on buildings and in sheds, woodpiles, garages and dwellings adjacent to rocky outcrops.
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.
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.
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.
He was pretty friendly, and obliging to having his photo taken

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

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,
although dated, had beautiful grounds,
and the most amazing view from the bottom of the garden.

It all takes a bit of looking after though, so I cut the grass
with the help of a minor bird,
waiting to pounce on any skink, worm or bug that showed his head
and Mark trimmed all the shrubs and borders

and at the end of the day, it was great to sit in my favourite chair with a view
even on a misty morning

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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
and of course - St Bernards
which I've never seen, so it was great to get so close to these gentle giants

Heading out for lunch one day we drove to Canungra for a wlak along the river, which seemed popular with bikers
shed markets
and a very good pub for food and a cider

A great week spent in a beautiful and less visited part of Australia,
with the stars above us
and making the most of the sunsets!
from the gazebo in the garden
and from the hill nearby

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


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.
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.
The majority of the Whitsunday Islands is designated National Park, leaving them uninhabited and in their purest natural state.
Whales visit the Whitsundays every year on their annual migration. From July to October Whales are a common sight frolicking amongst the islands.

I took a boat tour out to some of the local highlights, and included two dives around the islands.
We passed several other boats
as we headed away from the shore
It was the most overcast day of the week, but still a beautiful place!
Setting off from Hervey Bay, we passed some of the Whitsunday Islands
and were lucky enough to see a whale and calf
though maybe a little too close to this boat
and soon arrived at Tongue Bay where we moored the boat and walked up to the view point
over Whitehaven Beach
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.
Whitehaven Beach has been voted the top beach in Australia and in the top 5 in the world.
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.
The Whitsunday island and coast all have fringing reefs - coral gardens very close to the shoreline with abundant marine life to explore.
Then we walked down onto Lookout Bay
where the water was warm and the sand so soft
you just had to be careful not to stand on a lurking stingray
The moody clouds gave contrast to the pristine white sand
and I couldn't' resist leaving a little note
Heading back through the national park, the beach on the other side of the inlet was thick with coral and shells

Back on the boat we set off for Hook Island, for some exploration under the surface
with my dive buddy Dean
The weather was poor and the current the strongest I've dived in,
but it's still a beautiful world down there, with colourful fish
Five Barred
a very large Grouper

and plenty of different types of coral
but I think this one was my favourite
and the fish obviously like them too
and one very large clam

There were some tight squeezes, through the over hanging coral
and one that got hold of my respirator, and made me panic a little, but I didn't let it go
and then, on the second dive, John decided to go under here
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!

Posted by charlystyles 13:15 Archived in Australia Tagged diving whitsundays hook_island Comments (0)

Discovering Fraser Island - QLD


Situated off the Queensland coast near Noosa, Fraser Island World Heritage area is the largest sand island in the world.
Measuring 123km (76miles) in length and 25km (16miles) across, the island is a mix of hills, valleys, rainforest and clear lakes.

In 1836, survivors from the shipwreck Stirling Castle, including Captain James Fraser and his wife Elizabeth, landed on Fraser Island and were captured by Aboriginals. Captain Fraser perished, but Eliza was rescued and returned to England.

Very early one morning,
we set off from Noosa for the drive through the Great Sandy Naitonal Park to catch the ferry to Fraser, stopping off at Tin Can Bay to feed the wild dolphins.
It started back in the 1950’s when an injured dolphin beached himself on the sand at Barnacles Cafe. The locals took pity on him and started to feed him. This dolphin was well battle scarred and became known as ‘Old Scarry’. Once he was well enough Old Scarry returned to the wild but regularly returned to the bay to visit the locals and enjoy a free meal.
The second well known dolphin at Tin Can Bay was a female, also called Scarry. In 1991, there was much excitement when Scarry arrived in the bay with a calf. The local school children named this one ‘Mystique’ who continues to visit the bay on a daily basis as the third generation to carry on this tradition.
Mystique is the alpha male of his pod and is also scarred from his many battles, including a battle with a bull shark in December 2007. Once again a dolphin sought refuge in the cove at Barnacles with volunteers feeding and caring for him around the clock for 10 days. Once he was able to hunt for himself, Mystique thanked everyone with an aerial display before heading out with Patch to return to the wild.
Patch is a female member of Mystique’s pod who started to come into the Cove to feed after the disappearance of Scarry. She is thought to be in her mid twenties and weigh just over 200 kg. In comparison to Mystique she has very few battle scars and she is throwing a pink colour as she ages.
Mystique is an 23 year old male dolphin who has been interacting with the locals and visitors his entire life.
Mystique learned this behaviour from his mother Scarry who herself was a regular visitor.
Scarry has not been seen since 2004.
Following the disappearance of his mother Mystique took a break from the dolphin centre but returned after a couple of months accompanied by a female member of his pod Patch. More recently a juvenile from his pod, Harmony, has also been accompanying Mystique on his daily journey.
On the menu for breakfast was a small brim
Holding the fish flat in my hand, I lowered it in to the water and Mystique gently took it.
Of course, where there's fish, there's pelicans, and they don't miss a thing if there's chance of a free breakfast

Continuing on, we boarded the ferry, and arrive on Fraser Island in less than 20 mins.
A short drive partway up 75 mile beach, and it was time for morning tea and cake
with a visit from one of the local Dingos scouting for any scraps
Moving on, we arrived at Indian Head, for a short walk up to the top of the cliff.
This was the view looking south, back down 75 mile beach
and north,
where some fishermen were making the most of the protected waters
Named by Captain James Cook as a result of a number of the natives he saw assembled here on arrival.
Looking down, it was amazing to watch up to 20 sharks of different types, and sting ray hunt in the every shallow waters. There was also a whale pretty close in, migrating north

just before Indian Head, we passed this - part of an old container ship wrecked in a cyclone, that only last year showed the sand level at 4m lower, and much more of the ship visible

Heading back down 75 mile beach,
we passed areas that were being burnt off, though it looked like it had got a little out of control
and stopped for a picnic lunch at Eurong
and then on to cool off at Eli Creek
a large and spectacular creek pouring gallons of water each hour into the surf.
a short walk along the boardwalk
takes you to a point where you can walk, or paddle, back down the creek
Eels lurk under bankside vegetation waiting to ambush prey.

Back in the Warrior, we continued down Seventy Five Mile Beach, which is notable as the home of the Maheno shipwreck.
The Maheno is one of Fraser Island's key tourist sites with an estimated 260,000 people visiting each year.
1935: Maheno was declared outdated and removed from service. The heady days had lasted 30 years - not bad for a steamer at that time.
Abandoned and sold for scrap to Amaksa Company, Japan for £15,000, Maheno was under tow from Sydney when the ship met its final fate.
"send immediate assistance, towline to Maheno parted in bad weather".
Drifting overnight in rough seas, Maheno found land here, where the ship is now, rusted and broken.
Saturday 28th March 1936, the Sydney Morning Herald broadcast the news: trans-Tasman record holder the Maheno will never be moved from its final resting place on Fraser Island.
During Salvage operations, Maheno provided extraordinary setting for the wedding of customs office Dudley Weatherly and Miss Beatrice McLean of Townsville. On a deck pitched at 16 degrees, the nuptials were sealed to the sound of crashing waves and the ship's organ played by customs office Cyril Gregan.
Z Special Unit (forerunners to Australia's special services) used Maheno for training purposes during the war. Limpet mines, plastic explosives and matchbox bombs were used. Veteran Ron exclaimed "it's about blown to pieces! It was reasonably in tact when we started using It for practice".

As we drove back down 75 mile beach, we stopped to investigate a sea snake that had been washed up on the sand

and passed the scenic tour flights taking off from the beach

That evening, after settling in at Happy Valley it was great to walk down to the beach and watch the sunset... followed by the Blue Moon rise.
This happens when there are two full moons in a month. The next one is in May 2016.

After a day of exploring, and investigating the ghostly Maheno ship wreck, there was only one thing left to do - enjoy a bottle of appropriate wine on the beach with good company.

The following morning was another early start in time to watch the sun rise.
Great to watch the fishermen too

First stop of the day was Pine Valley for a 40min walk through the rain forest.
Home to this rather large spider and beautiful web
And this tree, with a hole over 6ft high at the entrance, most likely created many years ago by aboriginals creating a fire inside
Some interesting fungus
And the progression of how Bromeliads start off like this
and soon grow to this
I love to see Strangler Figs, I think they make amazing patterns up the tree. So it was good to see how they go from this
to this
It was great to see these tall, straight Satinay trees, also known as a Syncarpia hillii or Fraser Island Turpentine. They only grow on Fraser Island, and the surrounding Cooloola area.
Satinay grows to 40m in height and can have a girth of more than 4m.
It was an attractive timber for floors and furniture. The trade name, Red Satinay, can be stained to produce a blood-red brilliance.
These massive trunks were ideal for heavy construction such as beams and wharf decking, and made strong telegraph poles. After discovering the bark was resistant to marine borer attacks, the trunks were also used for marine piles.
Also on Fraser Island are Kauri Pines. Loggers first came to the island in 1863 for this timber and for white beech., as they are light enough to float. The timber was rafter to the mainland, and highly sought after for building boats, the main transport in the new colony. Supplies were depleted in 1882. Today nearly all of Fraser Island is national park, ensuring long-term protection.

The next stop for the day is possibly one of the most beautiful places I have seen in Australia - Lake McKenzie.
It is 1,200 metres long and up to 930 metres wide. It is approximately 150 hectares in area.
The sands around the lake are composed of pure, white silica and the water in the lake is also so pure it is unsuitable for many species
The underlying lake bed acts like a mirror, reflecting the colour of the sky.
The water appears a lighter blue, even clear in parts, where the lake bed has been worn away by people paddling close to shore.
Time for a swim
and some ball games
and some last minute photos
and obligatory selfie at my favourite spot so far

As we made our way back to the ferry, we saw some interesting island sights, like this jelly fish egg

and another Dingo running along the sand

Final stop on the way home was Rainbow Beach
The town's name derives from the rainbow-coloured sand dunes surrounding the settlement; according to the legends of the Kabi people, the dunes were coloured when Yiningie, a spirit represented by a rainbow, plunged into the cliffs after doing battle with an evil tribesman.
Much of the sand colors stem from the rich content of minerals in the sand, such as rutile, ilmenite, zircon, and monazite. A black dune of ilmenite sands, overgrown by dune vegetation can be found north west of the main town. This is currently being removed for sale in China with complete removal expected to take two years

An awesome couple of days, with some great people, driven and looked after by Darren

and if you haven't already seen it, here's a brief summary the two days in video format....

Posted by charlystyles 13:30 Archived in Australia Tagged fraser_island discovery_tours Comments (1)

Understanding Owls - Land For Wildlife - QLD

Talon a Masked Owl

One evening I was so excited to go with Hannah to a Land For Wildlife talk on Understanding Owls by Raptor Vision (who I thank for the photos below).
Land for Wildlife brings together like-minded landholders to share skills and knowledge about nature conservation. It is a vibrant, progressive program that aims to protect native wildlife and flora for the benefit of future generations. To date over 50,000 hectares of habitat for wildlife has been protected with a further 3700 hectares under restoration, just in South East Queensland.

Luna a Barn Owl
Barn Owls are moderately common, but generally hard to see, as they are mostly active at night. During the day, the birds roost on concealed tree branches. They are the most widespread and familiar of the owls. Barn Owls are medium sized birds (females slightly larger than males), with a 'heart-shaped' facial disc. They have sandy orange and light grey upperparts and white to cream underparts. Both the back and breast are evenly spotted with black. Birds often appear whiter than normal when illuminated in car headlights or torches. Young birds are similar to adults in plumage. When threatened, the Barn Owl crouches down and spreads its wings.
The Barn Owl is found throughout Australia. Its distribution is limited only by habitat and food availability.

China a Masked Owl
The Masked Owl has three basic plumage forms: pale, intermediate and dark. The plumage pattern remains similar in each case. The facial disc is chestnut to white, edged with a darker ring and darker around the bill and below the eyes. The upper parts vary from blackish-brown to grey-white and are liberally spotted with grey and white. The underparts are rufous to white, speckled with dark brown. Sexes are similar in plumage, but the females are markedly larger and generally darker than the males. Young Masked Owls are white to cream in colour when first fledged. After the first year, they closely resemble the adults but may be more heavily streaked. Tasmanian birds are larger than those on the mainland. This species is the largest Tyto owl and the second largest of the nocturnal birds (night birds) in Australia (the largest is the Powerful Owl, Ninox strenua ).
Wesley a Masked Owl
The Masked Owl is larger and generally darker than the Barn Owl.
The range of the Masked Owl is a broad coastal band around most of mainland Australia and throughout Tasmania, and for the most part is less than 300 km from the coast. Population numbers are low on the mainland and several states give this species special conservation status. This owl was previously widespread in Tasmania.

Eclipse a Barking Owl
The Barking Owl is a medium-sized hawk-owl. Hawk-owls lack the definite heart-shaped face of the tyto-owls (which include the Barn Owl, Tyto alba). Adult Barking Owls are grey-brown above, with white spots on the wings, and whitish below, heavily streaked with grey-brown. The head is almost entirely grey-brown, and the eyes are large and yellow. Young Barking Owls have less streaking on the underparts and are mottled white and grey-brown on the rear of the neck. Barking Owls are nocturnal birds (night birds), although they may sometimes be seen hunting during the day.
Barking Owls are widely distributed throughout Australia, but are absent from central areas

The video clip gives a little preview to the evening (although be thankful you're sitting in the warm watching it!

The Barking Owl is a medium-sized hawk-owl. Hawk-owls lack the definite heart-shaped face of the tyto-owls. They have an extremely characteristic voice that can range from a barking dog noise to a shrill woman-like scream of great intensity. Barking owls are often said to be the source to the myths and legends surrounding the Bunyip (a large mythical creature from Australian Aboriginal mythology, said to lurk in swamps, billabongs, creeks, riverbeds, and waterholes).

Posted by charlystyles 13:07 Archived in Australia Tagged land_for_wildlife understanding_owls Comments (0)

Kanu Kapers - The Sandpatch, Great Sandy National Park - QLD

sunny 23 °C

The most impressive natural scenery is that which involves a journey. Not a leisurely drive in the family car, but a journey that requires effort exertion and time.
After an hour's paddle from Harry's Hut camping ground, where we'd spent the night, we then had a 2 hour hike, all up hill
The Sandpatch in the Cooloola section of the Great Sandy National Park is the one most impressive natural spectacles to be found in Australia, and it is the journey to it that makes it so. It is possible to walk in to the Sandpatch from Elanda Point, on the north western shores of Lake Cootharaba, but the canoeist gets to experience the full grandeur of the ingress route up the Noosa River.
We passed this cormorant warming up in the morning sun
The river is coloured deep red in the shallows, and is utterly black at depths over a metre. The first couple of kilometres up the river after the lake section is quite narrow and winding, with many dead logs and trees in the water. This can make paddling up by starlight at night a cautious affair, as we discovered on the way back down.
Campsite 3 is the start of the six kilometre walk up to the Sandpatch.
The walk is easy, climbs about 1,000ft in altitude, and in humid summer conditions, can be a sauna.
The walking track is easy to find and follow. a pleasant walk on mostly firm sand.
However, as always there were some interesting sights along the way, such as this skink
a busy bee
a tree burnt out by aboriginals
a nobbly tree
this scribble tree
this rusting tree
and this bleeding tree, called a pink blood wood which produced red sap

The first glimpse was exciting
It was good to finally arrive at the sand patch we'd been looking at from the day before, especially for Ann who'd carried all the gear
The lake visible to the south west from the Sandpatch is Freshwater Lake, with Lake Cootharaba further south.
There are many variations in the colours of the sand, in the sandblow .

It is possible to walk down to Teeawah Beach at the eastern end of the sandblow.

We found a shady spot to sit and enjoy lunch
before all havign a snooze in the afternoon sun
When we woke, we took a walk around the strange moonscape - made even more surreal with a fuzzzy head from sleeping
The wind has created some unqiue patterns in the sand with this stray tree branch
and blowing away sand to reveal wood underneath
The wind had created some beautiful patterns in the sand
The sand in places looked as though it was made up of small stones,
but these were infact pieces of coloured sand that crumbled when you touched them.
The colours int he sand were amazing
again,l disguised as rock, but crumbled upon touch
These thin pieces of sand showed the colour variation clearly

A little further on Matt picked up and dropped a piece of drift wood, which echoed around giving the impression the sand we were standing on covered a huge cavern (see video above).
So, to find out just how thin the surface we standing on was, he decided to dig!
Thankfully, we didn't get through! I can't find any explanation for this hollow sound, other than one theory suggesting there is an alien spaceship underneath!!

The plan for our trip up to the sand patch was to watch the sunse.t and with such magnificent views, it didn't dissapoint.
However, the drawback, was that we still had 1.5hrs to walk down, and an hour's paddle back - in the dark!
We did meet this fella goign about his business
and then set off to find camp
so, about those tree branches...??
a great little adventure

Posted by charlystyles 13:23 Archived in Australia Tagged everglades kanu_kapers cooloola_sand_patch harrys_hut Comments (0)

Kanu Kapers up the Noosa Everglades - QLD

semi-overcast 20 °C

No visit to Noosa on the east coast would be complete without a trip up the Everglades.
and as I'm not one for sitting on a boat being a day-tripping tourist, it seemed a great idea to canoe and camp for three days, with two good friends I'd met previously, Matt and Ann.
First order of the day was sorting gear, reducing it and trying to figure out how to get three days worth of food, water, clothes and campign gear into rather small storage holes in the kayacks!
Then, it was down to Eland Canoe Launch for a splash about,
a briefing, a map and a point in the right direction
before setting off with the help of Caroline
and then we were on our own,
that bit of sand in the distance was our target for the next day - Cooloola Sand Patch

First part of the trip took us across the expansive Lake Cootharaba
stopping to investigate some crab pots
until we took a left turn to the mouth of the Noosa River
past some pelicans just hanging out
and along to the Kinaba Hut
for a spot of lunch
Heading back out in the kayacks, we made sure to avoid the turning to Lake Como (wouldn't want to end up in Italy)
From the mouth of Kin Kin Creek across Fig Tree Point towards the Upper Noosa River, travelling between an adjacent small vegetated island built of sand and silt into the area known as the Everglades
a beautiful, peaceful and mirror like river
having a bit of fun under the branches along the way
although, some were maybe a little bit too low for Matt
after a little messign about on the river, investigating side turns and dead ends, which can be seen in the full video here:

we eventually arrived at Harrys Hut camping ground
to be met by one of our companions for the next couple of days - a Lace Monitor
where we unloaded EVERYTHING and set up camp for the next two nights
Despite having two tents, it was deemed much more fun to squeeze into one - and incidentaly, it was warmer too!

The following morning, after feeling like we'd slept on concrete all night, we were up for breakfast
before paddling an hour further north
for a hike up to the Cooloola Sand Patch to watch the sunset to be featured in it's own blog!

After safely arriving back at camp in the dark, and cooking dinner, it was time for some cards, where we discovered playing with a red light is not helpful to the red suits!

The following morning, as Matt cooked bacon, we had a few visitors to camp,
first one Lace Monitor, then two, then up to five! at which point it became a bit competitive
Monitor_Lizards4.jpg Monitor_Lizards6.jpgMonitor_Lizards3.jpgMonitor_Lizards2.jpgMonitor_Lizards7.jpgMonitor_Lizards8.jpg

After another test of how much stuff can you fit in small spaces, we set off back to the canoe launch
Matt in change of the single kayck, which was good timing as the rudder bolts fell out half way home!
nothing a little red wine couldn't improve
this was our route home
as we neared the end of the trip, I noticed somethign in the water and couldn't believe it when I saw an Echidna (large hedgehog) swimming!
their long nose seemed to make a perfect snorkel
but he seemed very out of place and going nowhere fast in this large lake, so we decided to rescue him.
Matt scooped him up with his paddle, onto the back of the kayck where he slumped in releif
and we made our way to shore
Despite all the little mishaps on the way back, we arrived back at the Elanda Canoe Launch on time
Elanda_Point_Canoe_Launch.jpg and waited for those that had got lost!

Final stop, to toast to a great few days messing about on the river was my favourite place in Noosa, The Boat House, for cocktails and sunset!

Posted by charlystyles 13:13 Archived in Australia Tagged everglades kanu_kapers Comments (0)

Noosa Heads National Park - QLD


Noosa is located approximately 136 kilometres (85 mi) north of Brisbane
Alexandra Bay
The beach at Noosa Heads has remained a popular tourist attraction since the 1890s. The Shire's tourism exponentially grew shortly after the Second World War.
In the 1800s, Noosa's early wealth came from the timber and milling industries with tourism developing in the late 1920s. The town has been the site of many tussles between developers and those seeking to preserve the town. Since the seventies, people have continued to migrate from southern states.

Boiling Pot
In 1988, Noosa was renamed Noosa Heads
Noosa National Park features spectacular coastal scenery and provides an important refuge for native wildlife including the koala, glossy black-cockatoo, ground parrot and wallum froglet.
Noosa National Park encompasses an area of more than 4,000 hectares, including sections surrounding Lake Weyba, Peregian and Coolum.
Noosa Hill
No trip to Noosa is complete without a trip to Noosa National Park, so I took the opportunity to go running.
Noosa National Park is extremely important for nature conservation and is home to several rare and threatened species.
Looking out to Fraser Island
A range of different vegetation stimulates the senses, from rain forest through to areas of coastal bush with iconic Pandanus and Banksia.
Hells Gates
Granite Bay
Tea Tree Bay & an example of Tessellated Pavement
Winch Cove

As the sun was setting on another day, I went back to spot the koala. There was one in a similar place, and this one had a baby, though it was hard to see, and even more difficult to photographKoala___baby2.jpgKoala___baby1.jpg!

Posted by charlystyles 13:11 Archived in Australia Tagged koala noosa_heads_national_park Comments (0)

Plum Gorgeous Rainforest Retreat, Noosa - QLD


My next stop was a little pocket of paradise!

Just 15mins from the coastal town of Noosa

With the intention of staying only a week to help work in the rainforest, I ended up not being able to move on from this beautiful place, and wonderful people.
Jana, David and Hannah are the most loving and genuine people I have met, and welcomed me into their home.

Every morning I had the time for a little pilates, out on the deck, with an amazing view to wake me up
or just sit back and relax here later in the day

First activity for the day was a tour in the buggy around the grounds:
and if you haven't already seen it, there's a full guided tour below:

Jana especially has worked hard to gain Land for Wildlife Status for their 12 acre property. With the hope of creating a wildlife sanctuary in the future. Land for Wildlife brings together like-minded landholders to share skills and knowledge about nature conservation in a vibrant, progressive program that aims to protect native wildlife and flora for the benefit of future generations.. To date over 50,000 hectares of habitat for wildlife has been protected with a further 3700 hectares under restoration, just in South East Queensland.

First job on the list was weeding the rather used, and rather un-loved greenhouse
when I encountered these ugly critters: Cane Toads
The cane toad has poison glands, and the tadpoles are highly toxic to most animals if ingested. Because of its voracious appetite, the cane toad has been introduced to many regions of the Pacific and the Caribbean islands as a method of agricultural pest control. The cane toad is now considered a pest and an invasive species in many of its introduced regions; of particular concern is its toxic skin, which kills many animals—native predators and otherwise—when ingested.

A lot of the work involves regenerating what is existing and removing any weeds - anything that is not native.
One project was backed with excitement when we found some Bangalow Palm seeds growing at the lcal garden centre.
These plants you can't buy, because they are out of fashion and nobody wants them.
But for us to regenerate the rainforest, they were invaluable, so we went round and dug up nearly 300!
Some of them got potted up
and some of them were planted out directly

Another great project was to dig up and deliver a boot full of plants to the local meditation centre, Vipassana, for a volunteer day of planting. Mostly Cordylines,
with a few Frangipani trees,
making quite a lot of plants
The calmness of the meditation centre gave me the opportunity to get close to this Kangeroo and her Joey, legs first, then the head

A nice little project I enjoyed creating was a water feature to stand outside the large lounge windows
choosing the design and digging holes to plant orchids around the base
looking good with the worlds smallest species of bamboo in the centre.

As all workawayers have the pleasure at Jana's, I planted a tree, a Little Evodia
and will look forward to seeing how it grows over the years and settles in to it's surroundings at the beginning of the meditation walk where we cleared a few of the taller trees - avoiding next door's new fence!
I look forward to seeing how this develops

Some times it's the little things that are worth taking the time to look at and I loved taking a walk with Jana to see what we might find,
like this paper bark tree
and the comb of a local bee suspended in the long grass
these wasp larvae had fallen off the wall onto the deck one morning
the tiny beginning of a strangler fig, that will one day encompass and kill the host tree. I've seen plenty of larger figs, but not from this stage

For a few days of my stay we were joined by Sam and Drew (two fellow Workawayers), and are now suffering 'the Drew effect' from all the wonderful food cooked up by this professional chef!
It was great to have dinner and learn from each other
Even Sasha the cat joined us
though she was a little lost without Drew around afterwards
Sam & Drew worked in one particular area, now named Lovers Copse
clearing the river bank and planting new seedlings to strengthen the area.
It was great to spend a few days with these two chatterboxes

has held a firm position on the tourism map for decades thanks to Australia's biggest art and craft market which takes places here hosting more than 600 stalls. While the original markets opened in the CWA hall in 1979 - attracting a mere eight visitors and $30 profit - in recent years it has expanded to include the Eumundi Square Markets and Parkside Markets which fringe the Original Markets, offering artwork, sculptures, furniture, handmade toys, home wares, skincare, fashion and jewelry.

After a good days work it was a treat to head out with Hannah, usually to find a sunset, and sometimes to include a cocktail!!
A favourite spot was the roof terrace of the Boat House
or a walk along to the marina
Farr Out

Sunset from Mt Tinbeerwah
Mount Tinbeerwah's exposed rhyolite summit lookout, 265m above sea level with view over the Sunshine Coast and Cooloola areas.
A short trek up to the summit gave great views over to Noosa
up to the Everglades
and across to Mt Cooroy
the mountain's formation began curing volcanic activity 27 million years ago when molten magma intruded into sandstone below the ground surface. Milleniums of erosion have removed the softer sandstone and left the hard, erosion resistant rhyolite exposed as Mount Tinbeerwah's prominent peak.

Sunset from Noosa Surf Club
my favourite cider, at a beautiful location
another day, another sunset

Posted by charlystyles 13:54 Archived in Australia Tagged noosa plum_gorgeous_rainforest_retrea Comments (1)

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