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.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Ascend

What remains of St John’s Church sits on on a hill overlooking Gamrie Bay and the fishing village of Gardenstown in Scotland. The walk up from the beach winds through reasonably steep and rough grazing land, there is evidence of recent slips but that doesn’t seem to bother the cattle.

St John’s Church is said to have been originally built in the 1190s and it has a long and bloody history. The ruins are visible from Gardenstown and celebrate a victory over the Danes in the 11th century. It was once known as the ‘Kirk of Sculls’ because of the three skulls (supposedly Danes) that decorated the church interior. The skull and other symbols adorn many of the headstones in the graveyard.

Three people walking up to the ruins of St John's Church
Ascending to the ruins of St John’s Church.
The ruins of St John's Church, Gamrie
The ruins of St John’s Church, Gamrie

I plan to make my contribution to this week’s photo challenge: ascend the return of more regular posts. New challenges are posted every Wednesday at The Daily Post Photo Challenge should you wish to join in the fun or you just need blogging inspiration ūüėä

Walking the dogs and lessons learned

Bundy putting on the pace

Today it is cold and wet, too miserable for taking the dogs out for a walk and they seem quite content¬†curled up on their beds. Normally, Bundy gets a long morning walk and then we take both dogs out in the evening for a short walk. Maxi is over 15 and suffers from arthritis so long walks aren’t recommended,¬†however she does love escaping¬†the confines of the yard.

15 years of dog ownership and I’ve learned a few things about walking dogs, although I’m sure that there is always more to learn. With Maxi hubby and I¬†went through training with a ‘dog whisperer’, helpful¬†however I learned more when Bundy came along and I took him to¬†¬†weekly training at a local obedience school. Obedience school was a¬†definite improvement over the dog whisperer training, Bundy was exposed to all sorts of dogs and people plus we learned how to walk a dog properly. Maxi can still be hard work when walking but we can take Bundy anywhere.

There have been plenty of times when something goes wrong as a result of us not knowing any better or getting complacent. Maxi loves to say hello to everyone, as a puppy¬†we would take¬†her to a local park which was off leash but her recall wasn’t great. Sometimes it would take us 20 minutes to get her back and other times she would run off to say hello to strangers and not everyone likes dogs.¬†As for Bundy, we can walk him¬†past a yard¬†that contains barking dogs and he could not be less interested. Off leash Bundy is happy and carefree, until another dog¬†decides to get amorous, he will not tolerate such bad behaviour and lets them know. I like to keep an eye on things and make sure that I’m close enough to withdraw him from a tense situation. Hubby is much more relaxed and thinks that all dogs should be able to say hello, needless to say we do have the occasional argument about the topic.

I am not a trainer, the points listed below are things I have learned over the years from having attended obedience classes, volunteering at our local shelter and reading.

What have I learned?

  • Take your dog to puppy kindy and obedience school. Socialisation is essential and¬†you will learn about your dog’s needs and how to walk your dog properly.
  • Practice walking your dog and consistently applying the techniques learned. Walking your dog will be more pleasurable if they’re not constantly pulling you around.
  • Practice recall and don’t let your dog off leash if you¬†are unable to recall them.
  • Ask permission to approach another dog with your dog. Don’t assume that all dogs are dog friendly. A wagging tail is not necessarily a sign that the dog is friendly.
  • Carry a plastic bag (or several) with you and pick up your dog’s poo. Dispose of it in a bin.
  • Be aware of you surrounds when walking. You can prepare your dog if something unexpected happens.
  • Stop and wait at the curb before crossing the road.
  • Pay attention to other dog walkers. If they are trying¬†to constrain an over-excited dog don’t add to the problem. Cross the road and give them some space.
  • Don’t let your dog off leash in an area where is is on leash only. Your dog might love to say hello to everyone but¬†a reactive dog on leash¬†will not appreciate your friendly dog bounding over to them to say hi. It can end very badly.
  • Don’t suffer through a walk with a dog that constantly pulls, consider getting help from a professional and/or get the dog fitted for a sporn head halter¬†or sporn harness. For an example of a sporn halter or harness check out OzPetShop online, but¬†do some research to make sure you get the right ‘tool’ for you and your dog.
  • Reward your dog with time to sniff. A walk is not just exercise for dogs,¬†it is an opportunity for them to experience life outside their yard.
  • Use a leash that allows you to maintain control over your dog, preferably nothing longer than six feet. I personally don’t like the extendable leads, if they malfunction your dog could quickly find themselves on a busy road or tangling themselves up with another dog.
  • Let people know if your dog is not dog friendly or gets anxious around strangers. You can attach a yellow ribbon or consider accessories that tell people about your dog such as those available at Friendly Dog Collars.
  • Don’t walk your dog in the middle of a hot day. If the road or path is too hot for your feet it will be too hot for theirs. Wait until it cools down or go early in the morning.

In addition to being a good form of exercise, we’ve made some great friends through our dog walks: Lachie the Blue Heeler, Danny the Staffy, Nala the Golden Retriever and Spartan the Rhodesian Ridgeback. If you can’t take your dog for regular walks but you’re committed to doing what you can to have a happy dog then consider using a dog walking service such as those available through¬†Rover.com. Dog walking services are invaluable for the time poor dog owners and professional¬†dog walkers¬†love their job!

Dogs these days are truly part of the family so it makes sense to do what you can to live a peaceful and easy life together.

Enjoy your walk!

walking the dogs at sunset
Sunset walk with the fur-kids
Off leash at the beach and loving it


Travel theme: Paths

Today’s collection of images is motivated by the latest travel theme from Ailsa of¬†Where’s My Backpack. Paths can take many shapes and forms: straight and narrow, long and winding, smooth or bumpy and it is the variety that makes life interesting although I notice most of my images of paths feature gardens and trees, wonder what that says about me ūüôā

Eely Point Walk, Wanaka New Zealand
Eely Point Walk, a path that takes you around part of the scenic Lake Wanaka on the South Island of New Zealand
Autumn colour in Wanaka, New Zealand
Autumn colour brightens the footpath in Wanaka, New Zealand
The rose garden in the Botanic Gardens, Christchurch
A few years before the earthquake that wreaked havoc in Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island, I walked through the lovely rose garden in the Botanic Gardens, Christchurch.
Sandy path over the dunes, Ruakaka Beach, New Zealand
Sandy path over the dunes at Ruakaka Beach on New Zealand’s North Island
Rainforest walk, Queensland
Rainforest walk at O’Reilly’s, Queensland
Botanic Gardens, Mt Tamborine, Queensland
Take a relaxing stroll through the Botanic Gardens at Mt Tamborine in the hinterland of Queensland’s Gold Coast.
A path to the Palace of Versaille
One of many paths between the beautiful gardens of Versaille and the elaborate palace.
Villa Monastero garden path, Varenna Lake Como
View from above, Villa Monastero garden path, Varenna Lake Como
Villa Monastero garden path, Varenna Lake Como
The path through the gardens of Villa Monastero on the edge of Lake Como, Varenna.
The Via dell'Amore, Cinque Terre
The Via dell’Amore as it winds its way between Riomaggiore and Manarola on the Cinque Terre
San Gimignano park
A walk through the park in San Gimignano, you can see two of the medieval towers in the background.
Umbrella Pines, Palatine Hill, Rome
Umbrella Pines, Palatine Hill, Rome
Albert Park, Auckland
Albert Park, Auckland

The joy of a morning walk along the coast

A wedding on the Sunshine Coast gave us the perfect opportunity to spend a weekend in the coastal town of Caloundra, about one and a half hours north of Brisbane. The wedding was held on the headlands, thankfully there was no rain but the ocean breeze made things a little interesting for the bride and her veil which had to be held by the bridesmaids throughout the ceremony. It was a beautiful wedding and a fun evening of celebration with the usual dancing and champagne, still, we managed to be up early for a walk along the beach even though the hours of sleep were few.

Caloundra has made the early morning walk easy, where there is no sand to walk on you can walk along the footpath and a boardwalk makes navigating rocky heads much easier. Serious photographers (not me) were out with their super duper zoom lens’ and tripods, I settled for minimum baggage and more often than not, tilted horizons which were easy enough to fix on the computer ūüôā

Despite the beautiful sunshine, at 7am it was still quite cool with a slight breeze coming off the beach and much of the path still in shadow. Dog walkers, joggers and surfers were already in action, at one point we just stood in the sun watching the waves role in and loving the fact that we had made the effort to get out of bed.

As we walked back towards the centre of town and the plethora of cafes open early for all the tourists and locals who like to get their morning caffeine fix we saw several very cool cars parked near the BBQ area. Not sure whether this was a usual haunt for car aficionados or a stop for car loving friends out on a day trip, but I couldn’t resist taking a photo. Don’t ask me what sort of cars they are, cars are not my thing so feel free to leave a comment telling me what they are if cars are your thing.

We stayed at the Oaks Oasis, a nice hotel however, eating in the hotel restaurant when there were so many lovely little cafes by the beach seemed a bit silly. We dodged the cafe where all the cyclists were meeting because who wants to be surrounded by sweaty, smelly men in lycra, and chose a small, but busy cafe not far from the water. Hubby and I love Merlo coffee and we could spot the big blue Merlo banners and umbrellas from a mile off, the bonus was the extensive range of delicious sounding options on the breakfast menu and there was no resisting the Eggs Benedict with bacon.

Early morning walk to see the sun rise

Nobby's Beach Newcastle
Nobby’s Beach Newcastle
Nobby's Lighthouse as sun begins to rise
Nobby’s Lighthouse as sun begins to rise

We had roughly 24 hours in Newcastle, timed so that we could attend the 90th birthday of a much loved family member, my husband’s Poppy and still make the most of one of the city’s popular locations: Nobby’s beach. The 90th birthday was an extended affair beginning at a local club for a long lunch and continuing into the evening at Nan and Pop’s home, most of the family was there and stories of WWII, cheeky children and spoiled grandchildren were shared over pizza and glasses of wine. It was a lovely day, the tears of joy were many as it had been several years since the family had been together for a celebration.

With the aim of getting some exercise and seeing the sun rise over the water, we awoke early and put on a few layers of clothing before braving the cold weather of an early winter’s morning by the ocean. Nobby’s Beach is a favourite among the locals for walking, jogging, exercising the dogs and surfing, not to mention the occasional backdrop for wedding photos. The only cameras we had were iPhones and I was madly snapping away as we walked towards the end of the break-wall, stopping so often that I had to jog most of the way just to keep up. My hands were icy and a beanie kept my head warm, but being by the ocean and witnessing one of most beautiful, natural events made it worth having ice cold fingers. All of us stood in awe, basking in the golden glow as the sun rose above the horizon, trying not to get wet as the waves crashed against the rocks and concrete blocks stacked on the break-wall.

Early morning walk
Early morning walk
The city of Newcastle
The city of Newcastle
Looking back
Looking back

Invigorated by the walk and the fresh air it was now time for coffee and a bite to eat, breakfast at a local cafe called Estabar consisted of Espresso and toasted sourdough smothered in Avocado with garlic, feta and sea salt – delicious! Before too long we were back on the plane and heading home, Newcastle is a city that is close to my heart, I went to University there and it was where I met my future husband, it was great to be back even though it was only a quick visit.

Popular place to walk and jog
Popular place to walk and jog
On top of the world
On top of the world
Feeling the spray of cold, salty water as we watch the sun rise
Feeling the spray of cold, salty water as we watch the sun rise
Family portrait
Family portrait
Interesting rock
Naturally carved rock, mother nature is very creative
Morpeth Sourdough and Avocado for breakfast
Morpeth Sourdough and Avocado for breakfast

The job I love the most!

Towards the end of last year I took on a role that has quickly become the best job I have ever had, volunteer dog walker for the Animal Welfare League Queensland (AWL). For the small investment of 4-6 hours a week I get to spend time with an array of lovable characters whom through no fault of their own, have found themselves at the shelter awaiting their forever home. We have had lots of rain recently which made walking and playing fetch a little difficult, rather than leave the dogs in their pens we took them out for a cuddle and walk where it was reasonably dry.

Below are some of the dogs I have had the pleasure of spending time with over the last couple of weeks, some of them just want to play with toys but others love to lean on you for tummy rubs. It is sad that they’re still at the shelter but I am hoping that the right person will come along soon and that they’ll never be seen at the AWL again, until then I will make the most of the cuddles and kisses.

KJ, an affectionate and playful Staffy cross
KJ, an affectionate and playful Staffy cross, KJ just loves her toys and doesn't mind playing in the mud.
Rocky the Cattle Dog cross
Rocky the happy Cattle Dog cross, an older dog who loves to keep an eye on everything and he doesn't mind getting brushed.
Prince, a charming Beagle cross
Prince, a charming Beagle cross, happy to be around people and gets along well with Mimi.
Beautiful Leonie, Labrador Staffy cross
Beautiful Leonie the Labrador Staffy cross, she loves to wrestle with a squeaky toy and definitely doesn't mind a belly rub.
Mary Jo, the Staffy cross with a very happy tail
Gorgeous Mary Jo, the Staffy cross with a very happy tail. Recently a Mum, she loves cuddles and lying on the cool ground, legs stretched out like a typical Staffy.
The placed and cuddly Daisy, Greyhound cross
The calm and cuddly Daisy, a Greyhound cross. So easy to walk and she is extremely affectionate.
The water loving Mimi, a cattle dog cross
The water loving Mimi, a Cattle Dog cross that is happy to play in the water as you clean her pen and she loves splashing about in the clam shells filled with water.

Colourful Spring flowers

Spring is here, we have had a long and cold winter (for Queensland) and the drab colours are disappearing behind the blossoms of magnolias, jasmine, grevilleas, hippeastrums and mandevillas. Storm clouds have been coming and going for a couple of weeks, bringing with them much needed rain and the occasional and undesired hail stone. The grass is lush and green again, it is soft to sit on and the dogs just love rolling on it and having a nibble.

Bundy the dog out for a walk
Bundy out for a walk

This afternoon I took Bundy (black dog no.2) for a walk around a large duck pond, there were kids using a nearby skate ramp and cricket training was underway at the adjacent oval. The birdlife is a mix of brown ducks, pukekos, herons, peewees, willy wagtails and sulphur-crested cockatoos, I often take my camera  with me but can rarely get close enough to get a good shot Рperhaps going for a walk sans-dog would help. Today I had my iphone with me, the retro camera app has some nice effects so I took the opportunity to photograph the different flowers blooming and continued taking more shots at home.

Grevillea flowers
Grevillea flowers
Unknown plant growing in the shallow water
Unknown plant growing in the shallow water

Yellow flowers

Blue Heron taking off across the pond
Very hard to spot Blue Heron taking off across the pond
Blue Heron flying across the pond
Blue Heron flying across the pond
Hippeastrums growing on the edge of the pond
Hippeastrums growing on the edge of the pond

…and here is a selection of some of the flowers growing in our backyard. Not the most exciting story or selection of photos but I do have a penchant for pretty things and Spring is the perfect time for me to indulge.

Star Jasmine
Star Jasmine
Pale pink Begonias
Pale pink Begonias