A Travellerspoint blog

Copperlode Dam, Cairns - Far North QLD

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When I arrived in Cairns it was great to catch up with my friend Macca I'd met whilst in Innisfail. We went to explore the nearby water dam:
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Copperlode Dam
The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area lies between Townsville and Cooktown on the north-east coast of Queensland and covers an area of 894,420 hectares.
The Wet tropics is renowned for scenic panoramas of rainforest canopy from mountain lookouts, rivers that carve through rugged gorges and cascade into freshwater swimming holes, giant trees and ferns from ancient eras and curiosities from the animal kingdom. It has Australia’s greatest diversity of animals and plants within a area just 0.26% of the continent. Many plant and animal species in the Wet Tropics are found nowhere else in the world. The diverse range of vegetation communities are habitat to numerous rare and threatened species.
The Wet Tropics has the oldest continuously surviving tropical rainforests on earth. They are a living museum of how land plants have evolved since the breakup of Gondwana 40 million years ago, from ancient ferns, conifers and cycads to the more highly evolved flowering plants. The Wet Topics is also a living record of the evolutionary history of animals – being home to some species that have changed little since ancient times such as the musky rat-kangaroo and the chowchilla.
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Freshwater Creek was the original source of Cairns’ water supply. Population growth led to the need for another water source. In 1935, former Cairns City Engineer Mr E.R. Morris discovered what he regarded as a suitable site for a dam to store water. Subsequent surveys confirmed his estimation. Eventually government approval for the construction of an earth and rock fill dam was estimated as $3,000,000 but by completion on March 25th 1976, the actual cost had risen to approximately $6,400,000.
The total area cleared was 336 hectares. The rock and earth fill dam impounds 37,000 megaliters of water and has a rainforest catchment area of 44km2.
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The dam was officially named Lake Morris in honour of the man who located the site and had the foresight to see its water storage potential for Cairn. Additional water supply is now provided from Behana Creek with investigations into another water supply for Cairns’ increasing population in progress.
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Copperlode Falls Dam
The dam comprises a 45m high zoned earth and rock fill dam 122m in length. The embankment has a crest level of 403.84m AHD and a width of 604m and took 3 years to construct.
It was great to see signs to the nearby town with the same name as my hometown of Redlynch ... albeit on the other side of the world
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Redlynch was named after Mr Lynch, who had red hair and was nicknamed 'Red Lnych'
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Heading back down the mountain we were treated to great views over Cairns city
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and Macca couldn't resist turning into the local Karting track for a bit of competition - nevermind the fact I was wearing a strapless dress!
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Apparently my face was priceless!
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but my driving exceeded expectations! ... you can take the tom boy out of the jeans, but...!!
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Posted by charlystyles 13:11 Archived in Australia Tagged cairns copperlode_dam karting Comments (0)

MAMU Rainforest Walkway - Far North QLD

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MAMU
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The Wet Tropics of Queensland are a record of the evolution of plant life on earth. The area, comprising 8,940km2 along Australia’s north-east coast, is renowned for its spectacular rainforests which cloak its rugged mountain ranges and sweep down to white sandy beaches and coral reefs. They are the oldest continually surviving rainforests on earth.
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The breathtaking rugged landscape of mountain peaks, deep gorges, fast-flowing rivers and waterfalls is a hotspot for biodiversity, and home to rare and ancient plant and animal species. Many plants and animals of the Wet Tropics are found nowhere else in the world.
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The Wet tropics of Queensland received the highest possible heritage honours when it was inscribed on the World Heritage List on 8th December 1988, and included in the National Heritage List on 21st may 2007.
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MAMU Rainforest Canopy Walkway
More than 1,100m of rainforest walking tracks connect a cantilever, elevated walkway and observation tower.
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Meandering along the edge of the North Johnstone River gorge, the 350m long elevated walkway brings you effortlessly from ground level to high amongst the trees for close-up viewing of the rainforest.
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37m high the observation tower takes you above the treetops for sweeping vistas of rugged rainforest-clad ranges.
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This walkway projects out over the river gorge below, providing expansive views of the tableland and in the west, Mount Poorka in the north.
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The last 10m section o the walkway is cantilevers which means it extends out from the steel supports below this platform. This allows the end of the walkway to flex slightly.
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The cantilevers part of the walkway is designed to carry over 6,600kg, which is much greater than the combined weight of all the people that could it on the cantilever at any one time.
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The North Johnstone river has gouged out a steep valley from the tableland down the escarpment to the coastal plain. In the gorge below, the river coils through the landscape like a carpet snake. The vertical rock face at the junction of Douglas Creek and the North Johnstone River is a culturally important site for the Mamu people.
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The surrounding high mountains intercept moist winds from the ocean and it rains... a lot. More than 3m of rain falls each year, with totals in some years reaching over 4m. On nearby Bartle Frere and Bellenden Ker, Queensland’s highest mountain, more than 8m of rain falls each year.
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Most of this rain during the wet season between January and May, sometimes during intense tropical cyclones.
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Cyclone Larry cleared the way for this walkway, no trees had to be removed. Along this walk you will not see a rainforest with a neat structure – an intact canopy and sparsely-covered forest floor. Instead you will find rainforest that was severely damaged by Cyclone Larry in March 2006 and then again by Cyclone Yasi in February 2011. While the canopy cover is quickly regained, forest structure and composition may take many decades to recover.
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Around 15 million years ago when Australia collided with south-east Asia and again during the last 120,000 years then again when there was a land bridge, new (Asian) plant and animal species moved in.
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From the 1960s community attitudes began to change – the long-held belief that rainforests should be cleared for family farms or cut for timber was challenged. The scientific work of Dr Len Webb an Geoff Tracey during the 1970s revealed the unique value of our rainforests and their ancient origins dating back more than 100 million years.
In 1988, “scrub” became the wet Topics of Queensland world Heritage Area and the logging industry was shut down to conserve the rainforest.

Structures such as walkways reduce the impacts of visitors on the rainforest.
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This facility was built with durable, environmentally sustainable materials. The walkway and tower structures are unpainted galvanised steel. The walkway decking is made from plastic recycled from domestic and commercial waste.
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A lightweight extendable tower crane with a small footprint was used during construction. Powered by a specially-designed fully-enclosed generator, the crane lowered prefabricated sections of the elevated walkway, cantilever and tower into place.
Wash down measure prevented the introduction of weeds and the area was revegetated using plants grown from seeds collected on site.
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The Atherton Tableland and Outback covers an area of approximately 65,000 km2 and offers a diversity of flora and fauna, and a range of landscapes and experiences that can be found nowhere else in the Tropical North queensland. With an elevation ranging from 600-1,100m, the tablelands offer a cool reprieve from coastal hunmitdity.
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Another great day out with a great friend

Posted by charlystyles 13:53 Archived in Australia Tagged mamu_rainforest_rainforest Comments (0)

Cairns - Far North QLD

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Cairns is the main centre of Northern Queensland.

Despite its beachfront esplanade,
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it has a city atmosphere
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and instead of sandy beaches there are mud-flats, abundant with native birdlife.
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It's main attraction is its base for exploring the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Rainforest and the Atherton Tablelands.
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Most boats leave from the marina
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where you can buy freshly caught seafood from the 'Pawn Star'
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or see the sites from the air
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and there's always a reminder of just how close the airport is, only 8km out of the CBD
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One of the biggest attraction is the lagoon on the promenade
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I had so many laughs when I ended up joining in with an Aqua Zumba class,
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with a mix of all ages and even men! in this beautiful setting
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beautiful even as the sunsets
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even after the sun had set, the lagoon lights transform it to a peaceful pool
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I love to walk a city at night, and see the sites from a different perspective, including these large jelly babies with my friend David
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I also came across a great Jazz bar, that entertained me on a few evenings, even when there was an unexpected folk band playing!
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and we stopped to talk to some local bikers, one with a CBR900 (like dad's) and one with a newer model of my CB500 (might have to get one of those!)
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David's talent is in making and selling flies, for fly fishing.
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It was great to learn how to make these, and see that just about anything can be useful, as with most crafts!
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I quickly got into the habit of getting up early enough to avoid the heat and go for a run along the esplanade, although the sunsets weren't the best
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there was a great track along the length of the promenade, and out to the Botanic Gardens.
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running back alongside the river
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with some pretty thigns to distract me from the shortness of breath!
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Posted by charlystyles 13:27 Archived in Australia Tagged cairns Comments (0)

Paronella Park - Far North QLD

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The story of a Spaniard's Dream...
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"Why do I do it, people ask. It is because I wish to do something. I make my money in sugar industry and in selling farms. I have travelled the world twice and never have I seen anything as beautiful as places you have in Queensland. People smile and say Paronella, he is mad! Stupid! To work as hard and to spend so much money in this way! Why does he not sit down and rest? That is not my way."
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Jose Paronella's dream was to build a castle. He chose a special part of Australia and created Paronella Park. On 13 acres beside Mena Creek Falls
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he built his castle, picnic areas at the lakeside,
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tennis courts, tunnels and bridges,
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and wrapped it up in an amazing range of 7,000 tropical trees and plants.
Including the Bamboo Forest
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This concrete bridge is one of 8 bridges, to span Teresa Creek and Is regularly covered by flood waters during the wet season.
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Jose Paronella arrived in nearby Innisfail in 1913, having sailed from Catalonia in northern Spain to plan a splendid life for himself and his fiancé Matilda. Jose worked hard for 11 years, creating his wealth by buying, improving and selling cane farms. While traveling though the beautiful countryside he discovered a virgin forest alongside spectacular Men Creek Falls - perfect for his dream.
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Today there are plenty of fish waiting to be fed
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and turtles compete with eels further upstream for a little food
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Upon returning to Spain, Jose discovered that Matilda had married another! Hardly surprising as he had not sent a single letter in the 11 years he had been away! Determined to sail back to Australia with a bride Jose proposed to Margarita, Matilda's younger sister. One year later the happy newlyweds were ship bound for Australia and by 1929 had purchased the land of Jose's dreams.

He first built the grand 47-step Grand Staircase to shift building materials between the lower and upper level.
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Here the fun-loving couple had their cottage hand built of stone, and moved in on Christmas eve.
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Inspired by childhood memories of Catalonian castles Jose and his work crew set to work designing an entertainment area. Their fingerprints in the cement foundations remain as a testament to their extraordinary effort that guaranteed joyous times.
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A movie theatre transformed on weekends into a hug ballroom with live bands who entertained while a massive ball of mirrors spun from the ceiling to reflect a dazzle of pink and blue lights. Jose paid around £140 for the property, and yet paid £80 for the glitter ball, something quite extraordinary at that time
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Surrounding their home and castle, more than 7,000 trees were planted including an avenue of Kauri Pines that now tower like a cathedral spires in a sacred forest
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The Paronella's invited everyone to movies on Saturday nights, built tennis courts from crushed termite mounds
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and a pavilion
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with a beautiful fountain at the front
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and I love the way, as with most of the park, nature has almost taken over
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with turret topped balconies,
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refreshment rooms
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and changing cubicles for swimmers
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with a separate toilet block nearby
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Unexpectedly the tale of Paronella Park took swift and dangerous turns starting in 1946 when a mass of logs from a clearing upstream swept away a railway bridge and descended on the Park, destroying the refreshment rooms.
This was the height of the flood at that time
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Undaunted the Paronella's replanted the gardens, repaired what they could, and re-opened for business 6 months later.
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Today it is used as a backdrop for weddings & the stage for live theatre
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In 1979 a fire swept through the Castle leaving only the walls and the Turret as a reminder of what had been.
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"There is a special thrill awaiting those who know how to paddle a boat and wish to venture under the roaring falls.
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If you brave the shower of spray near the edge you will find yourself in a cavern with water dripping from the fern and lichen-covered roof, and a lacy torrent screening out the sun".

The swimming hole is teeming with jungle perch and black bream
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"Jose says he has tasted famous mineral waters of Spain, France and Italy, and this is superior to the all. He is having it analysed to determine its medicinal value and once that is established he will explore commercial possibilities."

"Down winding steps beside the falls he takes a visitor to his engine room and the dynamo he has had installed to generate power for all the needs of his castle and grounds.
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The building of the room and the stairs at the face of a sheer cliff is itself an engineering achievement, he is an engineer, architect, builder and everything else in one."

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2009 saw the refurbishment of the original hydro turbine which once again provides power for the entire park.

"The most astounding work is his cutting of a tunnel through a hill to save people the trouble of climbing round it to reach the miniature waterfalls which he has named after his daughter Teresa.
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Built in 1930 a cut was dug open, the tunnel constructed and then covered over.
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The tunnel, which has a richly ornamental entrance, is so dark that one cannot distinguish the walls, but by the light of a match it is possible to discern the apertures where he proposes to install museum objects. The tunnel, like the grounds will be lit by electricity , and when the scheme is completed an independent telephone system will be installed to connect points throughout the park."

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The original plan was to incorporate aquariums but was abandoned due to seepage and floods 1.88m high.
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In 1988 (bicentennial year) the suspension bridge was built crossing the top of the falls
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It gives great views back to Paronella Park
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and the picnic area
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At the entrance to the park I was enchanted by this Honeyeater's nest
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and with a bit of patience, I was able to watch the parent fly in
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to feed the chick
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Posted by charlystyles 13:26 Archived in Australia Tagged paronella_park Comments (0)

Mission Beach - Far North QLD

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Staying with the Galletta family for the weekend, we went to explore the markets at Missions Beach and on to the beach
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Located half way between Cairns and Townsville, Mission Beach comprises of four beach villages, linked by 14km (9miles) of golden sand in an unspoilt, natural environment.
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It's boutiques, galleries and restaurants are set against a rainforest backdrop and views across to Dunk Island, just 4km (2.5miles) off the coast.
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Dunk Island rugged terrain is covered with a variety of vegetation.

It was nice to go for a walk on the beach
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Garry flew a colourful kite
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and we went for a paddle
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All of this was thirsty work, so we headed to Bingil Beach
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where I had a tasty Mango Beer
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Lunch was at an idyllic spot called Castaways
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with a beautiful view towards the beach
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and a very tempting sit down!
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After lunch, we went down to the beach to walk it off
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before finding lots of starfish
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where their fine legs around the outside
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seemed to be good for burying themselves into the ground, so we had a competition!
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It explains all the tracks down the beach
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Then we found a ghost crab
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which are responsible for all these tracks
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some of them are like fireworks!
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pretty impressive for such a little critter
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Posted by charlystyles 13:32 Archived in Australia Tagged mission_beach Comments (0)

Tully - North QLD

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I had the great opportunity to spend the weekend with my friend Barry's firend, and his family.
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Garry and Innes live in Tully, with their three children Nina, Gemma and Garry, and Roxy the littleist dog ever!
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oh, and two budgies
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The house is relatively new, and has plenty of space for everyone
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even with the intensity of the semi-final AFL games - when I learnt a whole different language!!
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After a warm welcome, we headed up to the neighbours for the weekly Friday night BBQ with a view.
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The house had great views over the mountains
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and as Garry is a trained butcher, the food, cooked in a gas oven, was delicious
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We took a walk around the garden, and down to Yam Diggers Club
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- where the children get to build fires and live in the bush (at the bottom o the garden).
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and then Garry set off one of the toys sold at their toy shop - a rocket that travels up to 200m up!
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Garry has a passion for gem stones, and as part of the gem club, he has some beautifully cut stones that he has done himself. IT makes me want to live in Australia, where I can search for gems like these... and marry a rich man to pay for the other ones off the internet!
Garnet
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Ruby
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Sapphire
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Blue Sapphire like Barry's bling ring
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Gold nuggets
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Tully
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The area of sugar cane growing in Cardwell Shire in 2002 was over 22,492 hectares. The tonnage of sugar crushed at Tully Mill in 2002 season exceeded 2 million tonnes.
Bananas grow abundantly; about 8 million cartons of bananas were produced in the shire in 2002.

The Golden Gumboot
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The gumboot height represents Tully’s highest recorded annual rainfall of 7.93m in 1950.
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The most rainfall recorded in one 48hour period was 52inches (1.32m) in March 1967.
Tully’s average annual rainfall is 4.17m
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Vehicles stranded on the Tully River bridge in February 2000
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Children enjoying one of the many floods at Euramo – taken in the 1950s when this street was the Bruce Highway
Why does it rain so much? Tully lies in the wet tropics where cyclones and monsoon conditions develop at certain times of the year which can bring heavy rain. The town sits on a narrow coastal plain between Mt Tyson and Mt Mackay which attract rain clouds from across the Coral Sea.

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Dedicated to all pioneers of the Tully district – ‘hearts full of hope’
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Cassowary – carved by Rod Sheehan & Kim

Tully sugar mill
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Constructed between 1923 and 1925 the Tully Sugar Mull was the last sugar mill in Queensland to be erected.
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It was designed as the biggest in Australia and was widely regarded as an engineering work of art. The final cost of construction was £751,637
In 2005 the mill crushed a record total of 2,415,050 tonnes of cane.

Sugar farmers & cane cutters of the 30s
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The display recognises the hard slog which the early pioneers put into the local sugar industry. It depicts the growing, cutting and transporting of sugar cane and captures a glimpse of the 1930s cane industry. What a contrast to the mechanical harvesters and high tech tractors that have now replaced the horses and cane-cutting gangs today.
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Good or ‘gun’ canecuttes could cut 10 top 12 tons of cane by hand a day. They were paid about 75 cents a ton.

Near to Tully is a small town of Cardwell
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The Cardwell Shire is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area which was placed on the World Heritage list in 1988 as one of the world’s outstanding natural treasures.
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This area is home to over 3,000 plant species, including 483 classified as rare or restricted; 83 of these are threatened.
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This area is also home to 125 animal species which are very rare and ‘endangered’ species in this area include Southern Cassowary, Mahogany Glider, Spotted-tail Quoll.
And a good fish and chip shop with the Cardwell Crab signature piece!
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Further south from Cardwell there is a great lookout
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There’s no place quite like this in the world – surrounded by two World Heritage areas,
Looking seaward, the majestic Hinchinbrook Island National Park and mangrove-fringed channel are all part of the great barrier Reef world heritage Area that protects the world’s largest coral reef. The coastal wetlands and open forests on this side of the channel are all included in the wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
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Both international icons are areas o exceptional natural beauty and rich biodiversity, listed as World heritage Areas because of their outstanding universal value.
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Hinchinbrook Island – one of Australia’s largest island national parks – formed when ancient rocks were uplifted, folded and weathered into jagged peaks. As the sea level rose after successive ice ages, the lowlands flooded to from the Hinchinbrook Channel, separating the island from the mainland.
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The island’s unique and diverse vegetation includes cloud-covered heaths, eucalypt woodlands, rainforest, wetland and mangroves – habitat for av variety of wildlife. With so many rare plant communities and very restricted distribution of some species, Hinchinbrook Island National Park is considered to be a tropical lowland of great importance.

Heading towards Cairns from Tully we passed Lake Echam
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Crater Lakes National Park – this clear blue kale surrounded by luch tropical rainforest is part of the wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
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The lake is a marr or volcanic crater created thousands of years ago by two massive explosions of superheated groundwater. Difference in soil type, drainage or past disturbance have shaped the forest and a number of rainforest communities can be seen around the lake.
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The lake was a great location for a cool dip, a snorkel or even some high speed remote control boat racing
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Further on we reach Malanda Falls
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The Tablelands are the result of several periods of volcanic activity between 4 and 1 million years ago. Lava flowed out from at least six shield volcanoes on the southern Tableland, and the basis that form the Falls are believed to have come from the Malanda volcano 3-4 million years ago.
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As the lava spewed out from the volcanoes, it flowed down and filled ancient valleys. Weathering changed the black basalt to the rich red soils of the Tableland, and erosion cut gullies into the lava forming deep river valleys. Over time, the North Johnston River eroded upstream, and the waters now tumble over the basalt rock wall known as the Malanda Falls.
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A large number of Austrailan and American troops were stationed on the Atherton Tablelands during World War II. Malanda Falls was a popular swimming and picnic spot for service personnel and during the war years Australian troops upgraded the pool at the base of the Falls and built a three level platform diving tower,
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Malanda's first swimming club was formed in 1925, and swimming carnivals were held here between Malanda, Atherton, Mareeba and cairns.

Posted by charlystyles 13:23 Archived in Australia Tagged tully hinchinbrook cardwell Comments (0)

Southern Cassowary, Etty Bay - Far North QLD

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Standing up to two metres tall and weighting in at up to 85kg, the Southern Cassowary claims it's place as Australia's heaviest, flightless bird.
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A popular spot to see these prehistoric animals was just down the road from the boat at Etty Bay.
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sure enough, As I pulled up in the car, one appeared directly in front of me.
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The colours are amazing
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and their size is un-nerving!
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Carefully checking every car for potential snacks!
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this sub-species is endemic to Australia's World Heritage listed Tropical Rainforests and is listed as being endangered.
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There are believed to be fewer than , of the majestic Southern Cassowary left in the wild.
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The Southern Cassowary is considered to be an important dispenser of seeds in Australia's Tropical Rainforests,
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It is on of the few animals able to ingest and disperse the seeds of many larger rainforest fruits throughout the forest, assisting with their seed dispersals.
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Posted by charlystyles 13:43 Archived in Australia Tagged cassowary etty_bay Comments (0)

A little luxury in Palm Cove - Far North QLD

sunny

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Palm Cove is a beach community in Far North Queensland, located 27 kilometres (17 mi) north of Cairns.
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It is named after the palm trees that line the beach.
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It is guarded from the South Pacific Ocean by the Great Barrier Reef.
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Palm Cove is completely surrounded by the Daintree Tropical Rainforest and is close to Daintree National Park.

The reef hotel was a little bit of luxury and a change from hostels!
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There was a great pool
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and Jacuzzi
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with a self service cocktail bar
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and the food was so good!
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I even left the comfortable bed to watch the sunrise, which was worth it!
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Posted by charlystyles 13:32 Archived in Australia Tagged palm_cove Comments (0)

Innisfail to Irvinebank, Atherton Tableland - Far North QLD

sunny

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Grant works as a builder, and in return for food and board on his boat, I was helping work on some of the properties. One of them was a 2 hour drive through the Atherton Tableland.
Rising sharply from the coastal plains of Cairns, the northern landscape levels out into the lush Atherton Tableland. At their highest point, the tablelands are 900m (3,000ft) above sea level. the cool temperature, heavy rainfall and rich volcanic soil make this one of the richest farming areas in Queensland. For many decades, tobacco was the main crop, but with the worldwide decline in smoking, farmers have diversified into peanuts, macadamia nuts, sugar cane, bananas and avocados.
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and on to a great opportunity for me to see the sights.
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The Atherton Tableland is a fertile plateau which is part of the Great Dividing Range. It is located west to south-south-west inland from Cairns.
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Although it is in the tropical latitudes, its elevated position provides a climate suitable for dairy farming.
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Wooroonooran National Park is one of Queenslad's largest national parks, in the heart of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
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A mountainous park, it includes two of the State's highest peaks, Bartle Frere (1,622m) and Bellenden Ker (1,592m)
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These high mountains intercept moisture-bearing winds from the ocean, causing them to drop the moisture in the form of rain. In addition, tropical monsoon activity brings heavy downpours in summer, with an annual average of over 8m recorded nearby.
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this mountain range is largely made up of granite, but basalt from relatively recent volcanic activity is present in this southern section of the park. Basalt produces a fertile soil which, combined with the abundant rainfall, supports an especially rich type of rainforest.

Lake Tinaroo, also known as Tinaroo Dam, is a man-made reservoir.
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In 1952, The Tinaroo Dam and Mareeba-Dimbulah Irrigation Scheme was approved by the state government. Construction on the dam was started in 1953 and completed in 1958, at a cost of $12,666,000. The dam wall is 45.1 metres high and traps enough water from the Barron River to create a lake 3/4 the size of Sydney Harbour with a capacity of 407,000 megalitres
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Today it is a magnet for water sports
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Lake Echam
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Lake Eacham (Yidyam) and the nearby Lake Barrine, were formed approximately 12,000 years ago by molten magma. Magma from the center of the earth rose to the surface and heated the water table. The steam that resulted from the boiling water was trapped underground, until massive explosions signalled its release. Huge cracks appeared in the ground and the trees that once lathed the mountainside were levelled and burnt. Eventually, over hundreds of years, water filled the craters and the trees grew back, creating the tranquil lake used today by families and tourists for recreation. There are no streams that flow into or out the lake, water is only lost through soakage and evaporation and only replenished through rainfall, the level can fluctuate up to 4 metres between wet and dry seasons.
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Curtain Fig Tree
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A seed was deposited in the host tree's crown. It germinated and the first root descended to the soil
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Enriched by the soil, the fig developed aerial roots which encircled and eventually strangled the host tree
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The host tree then fell into a neighbouring tree - a stage unique to the development of the curtain fig tree. Vertical fig roots descended from the fig's trunk to form the curtain like appearance.
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eventually the host tree rotted away leaving the free standing curtain fig tree.
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I've seen a lot of strangler fig trees, but none like this one
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especially when there was a good looking wild cockerel in the car park!
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Mungalli Falls
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The only free-hold world heritage listed waterfall in Queensland.
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Millaa Millaa
Representing a farmer 'persuading' a cow through a gate!
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Atherton
I don't have much to say on this place... except there were some very friendly Rag doll cats in the pet shop!
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I was very tempted to steal this one as she practically climbed up my legs for cuddles!!
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There were also some cute snuggling baby birds, cuddled to a big teddy bear!
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Irvinebank House
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Irvinebank is a village in the western foothills of the Atherton Tablelands
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First known as Gibbs Camp, the town was founded in 1884 by John Moffat, who had purchased the mining leases from the original prospectors. He built a dam, a mill, smelters and other infrastructure that attracted settlers and miners to the area.
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The house is almost finished, including this deceptive bathroom
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but some great details added to the unique style
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There was a very friendly Kookaburra, obviously used to being fed off the balcony
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and for dinner, freshly caught Coral Trout from our trip to the reef
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which was much more appealing than these Whichetty Grubs found in the garden - they were the biggest I've seen!!
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Heading back 'home' to Innisfail we stopped at some of the attractive watering holes.
Josephine Falls is at the base of Queensland's highest mountain, Mt Bartle Frere.
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Josephine Creek starts as a trickle high on the south-east side of the summit of Mt Bartle Frere and ends as a substantial creek flowing into the Russell River.
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Approximately 7.5km from the summit the waters tumble of granite boulders, forming the picturesque Josephine Falls.
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In the 1930s young people hiked up the side of the creek - there was no track then - and got covered in leaches, to get to this special spot.

The rural town of Babinda is a quaint survivor of the old-world Queensland, lined with veranda-fronted houses and a wooden pub.

The Babinda Boulders are a series of huge round outcrops, water-worn rocks strewn along Babinda Creek.
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Babinda Creek begins high on Mt Bartle Frere.
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Massive surges of water thrown down the creek after storms add to its wild and dangerous beauty.
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This area contain the most complex and divers type of rainforest that occurs in Tropical North Queensland.
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A section of rainforest the size of a house block contains more than 150 different tree species.
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Golden Hole is another popular swimming spot
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with a beautiful campsite next to the river
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in such beautiful surroundings, there were always lots of butterflies
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and for the journey... Grant's bargain Mercedes S5, costing $100 and turning out to be bullet proof, literally!
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Posted by charlystyles 13:34 Archived in Australia Tagged atherton_tableland Comments (0)

Kuranda Skyrail & Scenic Railway - Far North QLD

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Skyrail is a 7.5km cableway, gliding meters above the rainforest canopy in the Barron Gorge National Park, near Cairns.
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Barron Gorge national Park
Australia's World Heritage listed Tropical Rainforests are comprised of several National Parks and state Forests, with some freehold land content. Skyrail operates in the Barron Gorge National Park, which was established in 1940.
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Below is a video of the journey up the gorge

Comprising 2,820 hectares, the Barron Gorge National Park is considered one of Queensland's most picturesque parks.
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It contains rugged coastal mountains, step ravines, right wildlife and the rainforest's most visited site, the Barron Falls.
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The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area is one of the oldest continually surviving Tropical Rainforests on earth - who would have thought that it's ion Australia!
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Fossil pollen records indicate that closed forest used to cover the entire Australian continent some 50 to 100 million years ago, when it was still part of the super-continent land mass known as Gondwana.
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Today, due to climate change and human impact, they occupy a small coastal strip along Queensland's north-eastern coastline between Cooktown and Townsville, accounting for approximately 900,000 hectares, representing about 0.26% of Australia's total land mass.

What makes a Tropical Rainforest?
Rain - Tropical Rainforests exist where at least 1,300mm of rain falls each year, being distributed throughout the year. Australia's world Heritage listed Tropical Rainforests receive up to 4,000mm of rain annually, the majority of which falls between December and March.
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Sunlight - Tropical Rainforests need a warm and humid climate. Most sunlight is filtered by the rainforest trees, providing natural shade to the forest floor.
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Butterflies
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Ulysses Butterfly
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Closed Canopy - Tropical Rainforests have a high diversity of plant life; many of which are tall tress growing towards the sunlight. The leaves of these trees absorb sunlight and act to block this light from the forest floor, creating what is known as a closed canopy.

Barron Falls
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The falls were named for Thomas Henry Bowman Barron, the Chief Clerk of Police in Brisbane in the 1860s
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The falls were one of the most popular tourist attractions in Queensland by the 1890s. Visitors are drawn to the natural features and scenery
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Barron Falls Hydro-Electricity Station
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The original Station (1936-1963) was built under Skyrail's Carron Falls station near the base of the gorge. A tramline, with a 2ft gauge, running to the bottom of the Gorge was used to transport workers and materials down the steep embankment to the power station.
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A haulage trolley was used to transport materials and equipment down the tramline. The load was lowered by a diesel engine and an air compressor.
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Flying Fox
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During the Life of the power station a flying fox was utilised to carry men and materials across Barron Falls. The flying fox was introduced after three footbridges, spanning over the top of the falls, were washed away during floods.

Personnel Trolley
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The trolley was capable of seating, without restraint, up to six people. Passengers would travel up and down the steep gorge embankment to gain access to the power station.
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To commence an ascent the trolley passengers would ring a bell by depressing a button located under the trampoline. The sounding of the bell would be heard by the trolley driver, located at the top of the embankment, and the passengers would be winched up the side of the gorge.
The trolley driver would activate the trolley's ascent by releasing the foot brake and an air compressor would slowly pull-up the trolley with it passengers.

Kuranda
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Kuranda hotel
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Kuranda is well known as the Village in the Rainforest and has been attracting visitors for well over a century. Initially people came to admire the mighty Barron Falls, while artisans were attracted to the region's natural beauty and decided to call it home, creating a vibrant arts and craft culture.
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with plenty of market stalls
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Today people flock to this tiny village to enjoy both of these things, the stunning natural beauty and the relaxed atmosphere of the local markets, selling unique souvenirs and gift items.
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Kuranda is widely known as the 'village in the rainforest' but it is probably more accurate to call is a village being reclaimed by the rainforest. In the early 19th Century much of the forest around Kuranda was cleared. Logs with girths of up to 2.4m diameter were railed to Cairns sawmills.
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and sculptures
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Kuranda has a network of six interlinked walks that provide access through the village and its surrounding environment including Barron Gorge National Park.

Jurum Creek Conservation Park - is a walk through the rainforest.
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It is mostly regrowth rainforest, there are very few old growth trees.
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The Jungle Walk - passes through a regenerating forest.
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The River Walk - a pleasant riverside stroll down a tree shaded esplanade
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Whilst walking alongside the river, I stopped to investigate the jetty.
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I was soon be-friend by the local Aboriginal children.
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They were very keen to help me take some photos, and between them took all of the below photos
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Then, one of the girls wanted to read a story to me...
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here is the video

I was so touched, and it was a highlight of my day!
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Heading back down the mountain, I took a different route
Kuranda Scenic Railway
Construction of the Cairns-Kuranda Railway was, and still is, an engineering feat of tremendous magnitude.
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This enthralling chapter in the history of North Queensland stands as testimony to the splendid ambitions, fortitude and suffering of the hundreds of men engaged in its construction. It also stands as a monument to the many men who lost their lives on this amazing project.
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In 1873 the cry of 'gold' echoed through the mountains. Primitive supply routes from the coast to the swelling gold fields were slow and perilous. In 1882 a devastating wet season brought misery to the blossoming townships. supply routers were impassable and thousands of people came close to starvation. A reliable supply route had to be found.
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Legendary bushman Christie Pamerston was tasked to find a route for a railway to link the rich mining belt to the sea. IN 1887 construction commenced on one of the most ambitious railway projects ever undertaken.
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The 1720 locomotives built between 1966 and 1970 by Commonwealth Engineering Rocklea, Brisbane under contract from the Clyde Engineering Company were introduced to eliminate the remaining steam locomotives from Brisbane suburban services.
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They found their way to the rural branch lines when displaced from Brisbane duties after the system was electrified in the late 1970s.
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Today the dedicated Kuranda Scenic Railway 1720 class are adorned in the colourful Buda Dji colours.
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The painting, created by local Aboriginal artist George Riley, portrays the legend of Buda-Dji the Carpet Snake.

Buda-dji is the Carpet Snake who, in the Aboriginal people's dreamtime legend, carved out the Barron River and the creeks that join onto it, from the coast to the Tablelands.
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The Carriages date back to the early 1900s, the earliest being BL520 built in July 1909.
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Each carriage is made from Silky Oak timber, but today more sustainable timbers are used in their upkeep.
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There are up to 16 heritage coaches.
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and at times they get quite close to the waterfalls!
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The Track
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The Kuranda Scenic Railway travels on a narrow gauge which measures 1067mm. Before 1901, each of the six British colonies was responsible fro rail transport infrastructure. Queensland, Western Australia & Tasmania constructed narrow gauge railways. The other colonies built standard gauge or broad gauge railways. As a result of this legacy, Australian railways are a mix of all three gauges.
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The Kuranda track is a National Engineering Landmark and tribute to all those who laboured in its construction.
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The Kuranda Stations' Heritage listed Signal Cabin building and 37 lever frame, is only one of 9 in Queensland which is operational.
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Labour - 1,500 men (majority Irish & Italian)
Distance - Cairns - Kuranda 37km or track
Ascent - 327m above sea level
Engineering & Each works - Removal of 2.3million cubic metres of earth, 106 cutting,
15 hand carved tunnels (1,746m in length),
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55 bridges (244m of steel spans and 1,894m of timber bridges, 98 curves

Kuranda Station
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The picturesque Kuranda Station was constructed in 1915 and is Heritage Listed.
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Once nicknamed the 'Honeymoon Station' in the 1800s as a romantic destination for day trippers, it is surrounded by tropical gardens.
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Freshwater Station
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Competed in 1984 in the turn of the century style.

'Red' Lynch's Cottage
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This cottage was the home of 'Red' Lynch, the fiery Irish foreman who organised the labour during the construction of the Kuranda Railway.

and the town Redlynch, not named after my UK home town, but after Mr Lynch
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Posted by charlystyles 13:48 Archived in Australia Tagged scenic_railway kuranda_skyrail Comments (0)

Boating,fishing & snorkling trip to the reef - Far North QLD

sunny

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One of the perks of living on a boat on the river, was the short distance to go out to the Great Barrier Reef. Heading out from the marina
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we drove down the river,
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past this old forgotten boat
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and out to Peart Reef.
Stretching over 2,000km from the tip of the Caps York to Bundabrg in the south, it includes approximately 2,900 individual reefs. the exceptionally divers landscapes and seascapes of this world Heritage Area support a vast array of life including 360 types of hard coral and 1,600 species of fish.
In the smaller boat we could go as shallow as 4m, and it was amazing to be on top of the reef, clearly visible below
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I spent nearly an hour snorkelling, the wind was less than 10knt and the conditions perfect, and as soon as I put my head under the water, I couldn't wait to go exploring, this video shows why...

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the coral and fish were amazing, here's some thigns I saw - lots of coral
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lots of fish
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Parrot Fish
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Angel Fish
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all the time Grant was keeping an eye on me form the boat
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Grant enjoys fishing, so it was an opportunity for him to reef fish,
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He caught the biggest fish of the day, a Coral Trout
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although this Red Throated Emperor was bigger, but something else got it before he could reel it in
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He caught a good sized Reef Cod
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It was a great opportunity for me to do some fishing too
It was a little strange catching fish I'd been admiring and photographing, like this Fusalier
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Sweet Lips
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Reef Cod
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Finger Mark
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and this Stripy that was put back and used for bait for something bigger - that never came
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but as long as nothing is wasted, and we eat what we catch (or put it back if it's below legal size limit) then it was ok.

Heading back before the wind increased, I enjoyed driving the boat
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You can tell which line mine was .. the straight one!
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Posted by charlystyles 13:02 Archived in Australia Tagged fishing_reef snorkling_peart_reef Comments (0)

Living on a boat in Innisfail - Far North QLD

sunny

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Innisfail is a town located in the far north of the state of Queensland., which until 1910 was known as Geraldton. It is the major township of the Cassowary Coast and is well renowned for its sugar and banana industries, as well as for being one of Australia's wettest towns. In March 2006 Innisfail gained worldwide attention when severe Tropical Cyclone Larry passed over causing extensive damage.

There is a beautiful riverfront and marina which became my home for the next couple of weeks.
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Grant lives on his boat, called Island Affair
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with a poly 'tinny' which made me smile, as tinnies are normally made of... tin!
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There was usually someone around or some form of entertainment from the neighbours, like feeding the 2m long grouper that lived under the jetty!
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In exchange for food and board, I helped Grant renovate the properties he was working on. the main project was this new wodden stair case
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replacing an old metal stair case
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Grant had given this one a bit more flair using red gum wood,
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and widening It at the bottom
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The colour and grain of the wood showed through when we gave it a coat of natural coloured oiloiling2.jpgoiling1.jpg

Always willing to help anyone, Grant was asked by his friend Eric to free a rope that has become tangled int he prop of his boat
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the problem was, the marina where it had been moored was known to have crocodiles in!
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So, rather than jump in the water, we towed the boat with the tinny to the jetty to be able to stand and cut the rope off without loosing and arm of leg!
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And after this excitement we had a well-earned drink at South Johnston while Grant played for his team in the pool competition.
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If you look closely, you'll see through the door just how close the sugar cane trains run down the min road, past the pub
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I loved living on the boat, especially enjoying the view form the top ddeck
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and getting up to watch the sunrise in the morning
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One great discovery, was heading down to Ettie Bay
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to find a Cassowary
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They're pretty big!!!...
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The cassowaries are ratites (flightless birds without a keel on their sternum bone) and are native to the tropical forests of New Guinea, nearby islands, and north-eastern Australia
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There are three extant species. The most common of these, the southern cassowary, is the third tallest and second heaviest living bird, smaller only than the ostrich and emu.
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Cassowaries feed mainly on fruit, although all species are truly omnivorous and will take a range of other plant food including shoots, grass seeds, and fungi in addition to invertebrates and small vertebrates.
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This one liked to check every car for possible food!
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Cassowaries are very shy,
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but when provoked they are capable of inflicting injuries, occasionally fatal, to dogs and people.
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All cassowaries are usually shy birds of the deep forest, adept at disappearing long before a human knows they are there. Even the more accessible southern cassowary of the far north Queensland rain forests is not well understood.
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A cassowary's three-toed feet have sharp claws. The second toe, the inner one in the medial position, sports a dagger-like claw that is 125 millimetres (5 in) long. This claw is particularly fearsome since cassowaries sometimes kick humans and animals with their enormously powerful legs.
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Cassowaries can run at up to 50 km/h (31 mph) through the dense forest.
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They can jump up to 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) and they are good swimmers, crossing wide rivers and swimming in the sea
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All three species have horn-like but soft and spongy crests called casques on their heads, up to 18 cm (7 in). These consist of "a keratinous skin over a core of firm, cellular foam-like material".
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Several purposes for the casques have been proposed. One possibility is that they are secondary sexual characteristics. Other suggestions include that they are used to batter through underbrush, as a weapon for dominance disputes, or as a tool for pushing aside leaf litter during foraging. The latter three are disputed by biologist Andrew Mack, whose personal observation suggests that the casque amplifies deep sounds.
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However, the earlier article by Crome and Moore says that the birds lower their heads when running "full tilt through the vegetation, brushing saplings aside and occasionally careening into small trees. The casque would help protect the skull from such collisions".
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Posted by charlystyles 13:59 Archived in Australia Tagged cassowary innisfail Comments (0)

Rock Wallabies, Magnetic Island - North QLD

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The rocky terrain and dense vegetation of Magnetic Island is home to Allied Rock-Wallabies.
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Their subtle colouring camouflages these animals, making them difficult to see among the rocks. Allied rock-wallabies move quickly and surely around their rocky habitat, helped by short toenails on their hind feet.
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Magnetic Island is one of the few places (if not the only place) in Australia where you can feed wild Rock Wallabies.
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At dusk, the Rock Wallibies hang out in Arcadia near the pier.
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Rock-wallabies aren’t found anywhere else on Earth.
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There are currently 16 species and eight subspecies of rock-wallaby living in Australia.
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They form the largest group of macropods (kangaroos, wallabies and their relatives), representing 22% of the species that remain.
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Rock-wallabies are an internationally recognised group for the study of species development and chromosome evolution in kangaroos and wallabies.
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Few features distinguish the allied rock-wallaby from its close relatives but each species lives in a different part of Queensland and northern New South Wales; where their ranges overlap slightly, there is some hybridisation.
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They all have upper parts that range from brown to grey, and paler underparts.
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They usually have a dark muzzle and a dark patch around the armpits. On the face is a pale cheek stripe, and across the hips is another pale stripe
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The diet comprises grasses and shoots of herbaceous plants, with up to thirty percent of the diet being browsed from bushes.
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They have a small home range during the wet season when food is readily available, but range much more widely during the dry season.
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While foraging, out-of-pouch young are often left hidden in rock crevices.
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The allied rock-wallaby is behaviourally monogamous, but not all the offspring are sired by the supposed father.
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The gestation period is about thirty days, the joey leaves the pouch at six to seven months and is fully weaned when nearly a year old.
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Young adults may disperse over distances of two kilometres or so, and longevity is about seven years.
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Posted by charlystyles 13:28 Archived in Australia Tagged magnetic_island allied_rock_wallabies Comments (0)

Walking on Magnetic Island - North QLD

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One popular activity on Magnetic Island is making the most of the walking tracks. I spent a whole day exploring the island and discovering beaches that only be reached on foot.
After getting up early enough to pass thse wallabies
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and enjoying an hour of yoga on the beach at sunrise
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I set off along Horsehoe Bay to begin my exploration
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Horseshoe Bay to Balding Bay (3km, 45mins)
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Horseshoe Bay supports a flourishing, healthy mangrove community.
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A mangrove is not a species but rather the name given to a community of unrelated plants living in areas which are inundated by tides.
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This track climbs up through a steep gully of closed eucalypt forest along a ridge.
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A turn left leads downs through shady trees to a secluded beach in Balding Bay.
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being careful when I took these photos as it is a nudist beach!
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By continuing along the ridge
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it is the same distance again to Radical Bay
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Continuing to hug the coast line, I dipped down again to
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Florence Bay
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With a contained fringing reef, large sandy areas and a tree-fringed beach it is one of the special, unspoilt bays on Magnetic Island.
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In 191415 Mrs Jane Alice Benjamin bought 36 acres of land at Florence Bay and began to build a tourist resort with a jetty. however, the bay is difficult to access by prevailing winds in the summer and by 1926 lease and council rates were unpaid for several years so the land was sold on.
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During World War II two army huts for servicemen were built at the bay. today the site belongs to the Scout group.
Further along the track, there was a short walk to the Searchlight Tower
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During World war II tall structures towered over the ridges of Magnetic Island.
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Two searchlight towers were installed to compliment the radar and gun emplacements erected at The Forts.
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Both were carbon arc lights with a 3million candle power capacity, capable of spotting aircraft at 30,000 feet. the lights were powered by diesel.
A little further laong the track was another short wal to Arthur Bay Lookout
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Which was the last beach stop along this section of the coastal path
Arthur Bay
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not easily accessible as it is protected by an area of Mangrove
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The first line of defence for many mangroves is to stop the salt water from entering the plant, by filtering it out at root level. Another trick is to quickly excrete salt which has entered the system.
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After a quick look around the local school fete, I caught the bus to begin another section of the walk from
Nelly Bay to Arcadia (6km, 2hrs)
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This track passes alongside Gustav Creek up a steady climb to the saddle of the ridge,
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with Nelly Bay on one side and Horseshoe Bay on the other.
Horseshoe Bay, where I'd starting my walk that morning
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many birds and other wildlife can be seen, such as this sunskink
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and this Green Ants nest made from leaves and held together with saliva
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The track continues along the ridge through open eucalypt forest to an excellent view of Horseshoe Bay.
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Further along a turn off to the left leads to Horseshoe Bay but by continuing on, another turn off left leads to Sphinx lookout to Alma Bay
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and back on towards Arcadia
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and Geoffrey Bay
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It was a hot day to do a lot of uphiill walking
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but the views were worth the sweat!
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Posted by charlystyles 13:06 Archived in Australia Tagged magnetic_island Comments (0)

Animal Encounters on Magnetic Island - North QLD

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Magnetic Island is an island 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) offshore from the city of Townsville.
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This 52 km2 (20.1 sq mi) mountainous island in Cleveland Bay has effectively become a suburb of Townsville, with 2,107 permanent residents.
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The island is accessible from Townsville Breakwater to Nelly Bay Harbour by ferry. On the way out, we passed HMS Canberra
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HMAS Canberra (L02) is the first of two Canberra-class landing helicopter dock (LHD) ships constructed for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Construction of the ship started in Spain in 2008, with the hull launched by Navantia in 2011. The hull was then transported to Australia in late 2012 for completion by BAE Systems Australia. Canberra was commissioned on 28 November 2014, and is the largest ship ever operated by the RAN.
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On the Magnetic Island there is a large 27 km2 (10.4 sq mi) National Park and bird sanctuary and walking tracks can be taken between the populated bays and to a number of tourist destinations such as the World War II forts.
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My bed for a couple of night was at Bungalow Bay, near Horseshoe Bay.
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One attraction to Bungalow Bay is their animals encounters talk, where you can spend two hours learning about and meeting some of the Australian animals,
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such as:
Shadow the Black cockatoo
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who was tame enough to eat seeds from your mouth
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Charlie the sulphur Crested Cockatoo
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Harry the large Southern Hairy Nosed Wombat
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Pebbles the Koala
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Sam the Shingle Back Lizard
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Red the Blue Tongue Lizard
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Fred the Frill Neck Liazard
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Elvira the Carpet Python
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Donatello the fresh Water Turtle
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Dali the 14 month old crocodile
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Barbie the adult female croc
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Horseshoe Bay is situated on the north side of the island with views to Palm Island and beyond.
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Horseshoe Bay is the largest bay and is considered the 'watersports capital' of the island as operators hire directly form the beach.
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A great selection of restaurants and bars line the esplanade with a delicious view of the bay and the many yachts which come to moore there.
It's also a great place to watch the sunet
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Picnic Bay
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Until recently, the bay was the landing site for ferry services from the mainland, but ferries now arrive at a new terminal at nearby Nelly Bay
The town is serviced by Magnetic Island Bus Service, which runs regular services to coincide with Ferry arrivals and departures at the Nelly Bay Ferry Terminal.

Unfortunately the weather was too windy for snorkling during my time on the island, so I made do spending hours watching these tropical fish in a large tank at the bar
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Whilst on the island I made the most of the events that were on for the Bay Days festival, including being taught how to bowl, Australian style!
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It's a popular sport and something I've been wanting to try, so it was good to have some guidance and learn how they do it on the other side of the world!
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I also went to school fetes and evening markets and food bazars, where I was feeding this possum and her baby left overs from the Italian stall!
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Posted by charlystyles 13:52 Archived in Australia Tagged magnetic_island bungalow_bay Comments (0)

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