Weekly photo challenge: Tour Guide

Queensland’s Gold Coast, the choice of holiday destination for many Australian families. Theme parks, beaches and the shopping mall that is Surfers Paradise are usually what they come for however there is another side to the Gold Coast. Away from the roller coasters, the surf shops and beaches overshadowed by high rise buildings visitors will discover a beautiful natural environment set in the Gold Coast hinterland. The hinterland is my favourite place to explore and it is where I often taken family and friends when they visit. As your tour guide for this week’s photo challenge the hinterland is the destination that I want you to experience.

Springbrook National Park, part of the World Heritage-listed Gondwana rainforest and home to spectacular waterfalls, subtropical and warm temperate rainforest, Antarctic beech cool temperate rainforest and a variety of wildlife. The Purlingbrook Falls walk is 4km in length, relatively easy on the legs and if you’re keen or wanting to go for a swim you can walk an extra 2km to Warringa Pools. My friend and I did the walk in September, it was a perfect Spring day and we took our time, stopping to admire the beauty of tiny blossoms and to watch a goanna dawdle through the undergrowth. Others use the track for physical training, running up and down the stairs, slipping past us in their fluorescent athletic wear but most appear to do the walk in a more leisurely manner.

Tamborine Mountain is popular with day trippers especially on the weekend, but most tend to stick to the shops and cafes on Gallery Walk. My preference is take one of the many rainforest walks on the mountain, they vary in length and tend to be less than 3km. The Curtis Falls track is not far from Gallery Walk in the Joalah Section of the Tamborine National Park, and is heavily visited by tourists and photographers. Curtis Falls looks its best after heavy rain although the track might get a little slippery so wear appropriate footwear. There is a viewing platform overlooking a large rock pool at the base of the Curtis Falls, swimming in the pool is prohibited and there is a restricted access area below the Falls in order to protect a colony of glow-worms. There is an extension to this walk which takes about an hour to do and if you look beyond the track you will see huge strangler fig trees as well as elk horns, stag horns and birds nest ferns.

Which ever walk you do, remember that you’re in the Australian bush so the chances of seeing a snake are pretty good. Always wear covered footwear.

For birdwatchers, animal lovers and people wanting to spend a long weekend in a cabin in the rainforest, O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat set in the Lamington National Park is ideal. Early morning guided bird walks through a small section of the rainforest are a wonderful way to start the day. See, hear and learn about the Eastern Whipbird, Eastern Yellow Robins and Bowerbirds before enjoying a hearty breakfast in the restaurant. At the end of the day I recommend taking the tour out to the Moonlight Crag Lookout where you can enjoy a glass of champagne, beer or wine whilst watching the sun set over the ranges.

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Wordless Wednesday: Feathered friends

Sulphur Crested Cocktoos
Sulphur Crested Cockatoos

Hungry, hungry kookaburras come to visit

Adult Laughing Kookaburra
Adult Laughing Kookaburra sitting on our back fence

Living near the bush means we see a lot of native birds and wildlife. Lorikeets, magpies, crows and noisy miners are the most common but every now and then we have the privilege of getting up close to a kookaburra or two.  Kookaburras are primarily meat eaters, they will catch mice, lizards, and small snakes among other things. There are two types of kookaburra, the Laughing Kookaburra and the Blue-winged Kookaburra, our visitors are of the Laughing type. We give them a little bit of fresh mince which one of them happily takes out of our hands and occasionally feeds to the demanding youngster. The noise a kookaburra makes is very distinctive, it makes me smile even at 5 o’clock in the morning. I recorded this video late one afternoon, Hubby was handing out the mince and for the most part only one kookaburra came for the food, a third kookaburra stayed in the tree. You won’t hear them laughing however you will get to see parent and child interact which is a funny sight and it made me wonder whether it was Mum or Dad on spoon-feeding duty.

Zooming with the Panasonic DMC-TZ70

This is not a review, purely an observation of how the zoom works on my little point and shoot camera, the Panasonic Lumix TZ70. It appears to be a good addition to my camera bag for travelling, especially when I only plan on taking the 24-70mm lens with me when we go on holiday. The TZ70 is a 12 megapixel camera and it has a 30x optical zoom, roughly equivalent to a 28-840mm lens. I have not tried using the zoom in low light and assume that a tripod would be required to make the most of that amount of zoom, but I have used the zoom in full sun and I’m happy with the results.

The following images were taken yesterday afternoon, I was driving by the pond and saw several pelicans and a few magpie geese hanging around the waters edge and thought it a perfect time to test the performance of the zoom on this camera. I have not cropped the images at all and have done very minimal editing in Picasa. The highlights have blown out a little on two of the photos of pelicans, the last photo is the better one in terms of capturing the detail of the white feathers.

I had read numerous reviews of different compact cameras before deciding on the TZ70 and although my experience so far is limited, you could say I’m satisfied with my purchase 🙂

Magpie geese walking by the lake
Walk this way
Focal length in 35mm film = 57mm
Pelicans walking on the grass
Out for an afternoon stroll
Pelican in the water
Focal length in 35mm film = 639mm
Pelicans on the lake
Focal length in 35mm film = 500mm

My latest artwork

A while back I shared some photos I took of a sweet little Tawny Frogmouth that paid us a visit. Like the subjects of several other photos I have taken, the Tawny Frogmouth now features in my latest pastel illustration. 

Happy Sunday!

  

Not an owl

Not an owl.
Not an owl.

The Tawny Frogmouth is often referred to as an owl because of their large owl-like eyes and nocturnal habits, plus they also eat insects and have soft feathers. They are not owls, but they are closely related to nightjars. Unlike owls, the Tawny Frogmouth almost exclusively eats insects and they lack the long talons and powerful feet of the owl.

Tawny Frogmouth
Tawny Frogmouth

We rarely see these birds, Bundy and Maxi patrol the yard regularly and scare away any bird that dares to perch on our fence. Being nocturnal creatures, when we do see them it is for a brief period at night and they’re so quiet we don’t even notice them. Today I got lucky, as I was leaving the house I noticed an unusual stumpy branch on a nearby tree which, on closer inspection, turned out to be a Tawny Frogmouth. As I moved around him with my camera he barely moved, at any hint of a threat or disturbance these birds freeze, doing all they can to make themselves look like part of the tree.

Freeze!
Freeze!

Tawny Frogmouths generally like to inhabit open forests and bushland consisting of eucalypts and acacias. We are lucky to have such an environment close to home, it has given us so much joy especially over the last couple of years when we’ve had the privilege of seeing Koalas up close as well as a variety of native birds.

An extraordinary effort at camouflage.
An extraordinary effort at camouflage.