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.

Advertisements

Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth

After several extreme weather events a local wildlife reserve was in danger of being overcome by algae, weeds and dying trees, but all that has changed thanks to a group of dedicated people. I have watched and admired the changes happening as a result of an ongoing regeneration program which has seen the clearing of dead and invasive plants. Native plants have been planted all around the lake and as they grow they provide a source of food and sanctuary for wildlife as well as beautifying the area.

This literal interpretation of this week’s photo challenge: growth is my contribution to the challenge.

Grasses planted around lake

Travel theme: Earth

Today is Earth Day, a global event with a focus on building environmental and climate literacy among all the citizens of our planet. Earth Day is also the inspiration for this week’s travel theme from Where’s my backpack? and I hope my photos do it justice, most were taken here in Australia. You will notice that I have also included a few environmental facts courtesy of Alpha Environmental, they are disturbing to say the least.

Tiny Green Frog
Tiny Green Frog

Nearly a hundred species of Australian animals face extinction and 1500 land based species are considered to be threatened. Since European settlement (1777) 23 birds, 4 frogs and 27 mammal species have become extinct.

Popular swimming spot, Springbrook National Park Queensland
Popular swimming spot, Springbrook National Park Queensland

In Australia, over 80 different pesticides which have been banned around the world are still legal. These include chemicals classified as ‘highly hazardous’ and ‘extremely dangerous’ by the World Health Organisation such as hormone disruptors and carcinogens.

Pelicans and birds at rest
Pelicans napping

Australia has the highest rate of greenhouse gas production per person of any affluent country in the world.

Kangaroos at dusk
Kangaroos at dusk

As a result of intensive agricultural activities, around 19,000 tonnes of phosphorus and 141,000 tonnes of nitrogen are released into Australia’s freshwater systems each year, ultimately ending up in the sea.

Glacier fed river in Mt Aspiring National Park
Glacier fed river in Mt Aspiring National Park
Gardenstown sunset
Fresh sea air and at vibrant sunset at Gardenstown in the Scottish Highlands

From year to year, environmental changes are incremental and often barely register in our lives, but from evolutionary or geological perspectives, what is happening is explosive change.

David Suzuki

Wordless Wednesday: Feathered friends

Sulphur Crested Cocktoos
Sulphur Crested Cockatoos

Out on the farm

The farm road
The farm road

My brother recently bought 100 acres of bushland in the Hunter Valley, he and his partner want to build a house there and raise their beautiful daughter in the country. He refers to the land as ‘the farm’ although it is far from it at this point in time. Much of land cannot be cleared for environmental reasons however this isn’t a huge deal because my brother doesn’t have any plans to raise cattle, sheep or grow crops. Obviously the previous owners have done some work on the property, farm equipment has been left to rust and there is a gate growing out of a tree. The land is in the middle of wine country in the Hunter Valley which aligns nicely with our desire for a winter retreat where we can alternate between visiting vineyards and enjoying local produce while sitting by an open fire.

I had the pleasure of seeing the property a couple of weeks ago and there is plenty of work to be done in order to make the land habitable for a family. Patches of land have been cleared previously providing nice open spaces and views of neighbouring properties, my brother and a mate of his have also spent time tidying up the area where they plan to build their house. Walking through the bush takes me back to my childhood when we used to explore the countryside looking for the perfect swimming hole. On one occasion we made fishing rods out of bamboo and tried our luck in the creek, the fish were much smarter than us. As kids we never really worried about snakes or eels or getting seriously hurt, but I was very wary of coming across a snake whilst walking through the bush on my brother’s property.

Camera in hand I was fascinated by tiny purple flowers, and funny looking nuts on a native tree. My fingers were crossed in the hope that I would come across wildlife of the furry and feathered kind. With a creek running through one end of the property and a dried creek bed at the other we were guaranteed to see something and sure enough we saw a few kangaroos from the car, as well as a goanna and a couple of rabbits. One kangaroo scared the bejeezus out of my when it leapt out of the bush to the left of me and bounded away, madly scrambling to get my camera ready I thankfully secured one shot which made my day. Even as an Australian I still get excited by seeing our native wildlife.

Without rain the bush is looking dry and the grass feels crunchy underfoot. Closer to the creek there is more colour, the water providing sustenance for plants as well as a variety of creatures that we hear but not see as they scamper away and hide. I envy the life that my brother and his family will have, living away from the maddening traffic and being able to look at the window and see sights that we grew up with. I don’t envy the work or the size of the mortgage that it takes to own such a property but I admire my brother for the commitment he has made in following a dream. I hope that one day I have the courage to do the same.

A Merry Queensland Christmas

Merry Christmas to you all from Two Black Dogs! In contrast to the snow and Gluhwein we enjoyed at the Christmas markets in Europe, our Christmas day began with a trip to the beach. Breakfast was baked ham and eggs on toast accompanied by a glass of Australian sparkling wine. Thankfully the weather has been good to us and it is a mild, slightly breezy day with moments of blue sky and sunshine.

Maxi and Bundy love the beach, Maxi returns to her puppy-hood and bounces across the sand and through the water. The dear old girl never looks happier than when she is at the beach. Bundy just enjoys running, sniffing and splashing around, a swimmer he is not. At home they’re sleeping soundly, recovering from an exciting morning and dreaming of their next adventure.

Wishing you a day filled with love and laughter! Be safe and be happy xox

two dogs in car
off to the beach on Christmas morning

Bundy is a splasher not a swimmer
  
Bundy and his new stuffy
  
Maxi loves the beach
  
Santa comes to Bundy
  
Bundy and his Mama in her new Christmas shirt
 

Lamington National Park flora and fauna

Lamington National Park is World Heritage Listed and includes over 20,000 hectares of diverse forest ranging from sub-tropical rainforest to dry eucalypt forest. The park is home to a variety of flora and fauna, providing a wealth of photographic opportunities for everyone.