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.


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

Rainforest Skywalk

Living in Queensland means that we have access to beautiful rainforests filled with some very unique flora and fauna, experiencing the rainforest on a sunny day is spectacular, the light filters through the canopy and adds a little warmth to both colour and temperature. Our time on Mt Tamborine yesterday, exploring the rainforest via The Skywalk was not quite so sunny, the air was cool and the sky cloudy but the day was pleasurable nonetheless. Being winter we spotted none of the colourful flowers, foliage or berries that summer brings, we also had no luck with seeing Koalas, the best we could do was discovering a small brown lizard  in the stump of a Red Cedar tree and a Kookaburra as he swooped on something tasty in the scrub.

Sadly there are no photos of the lizard or the Kookaburra, however I have put together a gallery of images taken during the walk as well as a few random shots taken at our lunch time destination D’Marge Cafe. Nelson the Golden Retriever makes all guests feel oved as he lies quietly under your table until your meal is served, then he makes use of beautiful, big brown eyes to bewitch you into sharing whatever it is you have ordered. The deck is surrounded by blooming Camellia trees, the flowers come in many shades of pink and white, their petals so pretty and delicate.

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 🙂

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

Two girls, mud and the rainforest

My friend and I have been planning a walk through the rainforest at Mt Tamborine for months, we thought it would be a fun way to get some exercise and develop our photography skills. In our packs we had our cameras, memory cards, muesli bars, water, insect repellent and anything else necessary to traipse through the rainforest, my husband knew where we were going and roughly what time we’d be home – all this for a couple of hours walking in a popular location.

We started off well, the cooler weather meant that snake activity would be less likely and the track wouldn’t be as busy with tourists and locals getting their daily exercise. It was only when we hit the slippery, wet and muddy track that we realised we wore the wrong sort of shoes, even after all the rain of late, the thought of wearing covered shoes never crossed our minds. Still, we trudged on, taking lots of photos of waterfalls, gushing water, pools of water and trees, occasionally having to move out of the way for all the other people who had decided that today was a good day for a walk in the rainforest. One couple were very curious about what we were taking photos of, my friend was crouched down beside a tree and intently focused on the subject matter when they stopped beside her, they moved on quickly when we told them it was only a red berry, chosen because we liked the contrast of the red against the rainforest floor.

We felt like kids again when we had to cross the creek, there was no sign of the track or path that once connected the walk which meant taking off our shoes and braving the fast moving, cool water – something we never hesitated doing when we were children and living in the country. There was some anxiety lest we fall over and drop our camera bags in the water, but when we watched two families navigate across the creek successfully our decision was made. It must have been a funny sight, two adults with shoes in hand and packs on back, inching their way across slippery rocks, laughing and trying not to fall over, but what fun it was and the water felt so refreshing on our muddy feet. The rest of the walk was spent dodging puddles and grasping at roots and the limbs of strangler fig trees in an effort to stay on the track, several times I almost lost a shoe and my feet were caked in mud yet it didn’t diminish the day at all and both of us left the mountain looking forward to our next walk.