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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Spring break

With 2017 being such a strain on my head space for a number of reasons, it was a joy to recently have a week off and indulge in some extended me-time. The objective being to organise my pastels into new storage boxes, spend at least two days drawing, and last but not least I wanted visit Tamborine Mountain Botanic Gardens and photograph the Spring blossoms.

The weather was mixed during my break, much needed rain fell and sunshine was intermittent. At one point I didn’t think I would get to the Botanic Gardens but luck was on my side and as I was wandering through the rainforest garden the clouds disappeared and the rest of my time in the garden was perfect. Spring is such a beautiful time of year, lots of birds, bees and after a shower of rain everything looks and smells so fresh. As you can see, it was time well spent and I felt so relaxed and happy afterwards that I almost forgot about having to go back to work.

 

The colours of Spring

Spring is here and there are floral festivals happening in several places around Australia, two popular festivals in Queensland are located in Toowoomba and on Mt Tamborine. I haven’t been able to enjoy either this year however I do have a lovely collection of photos from previous visits which I will share with you.

Happy Spring days!

A favourite place, Tamborine Mountain

In previous posts I have mentioned Tamborine Mountain as a lovely alternative to the beaches and high rise buildings of Surfers Paradise (Surfers for short). The drive is a long and winding one, once at the top there are views of the coast and the Surfers Paradise skyline, it is probably the best view of Surfers that you will get especially on a cloud free day and I imagine it is spectacular during a lightning storm.

Tamborine Mountain is popular with artists, foodies and if you like schnapps or cheese, some of the best in the region comes from local producers. The Tamborine Mountain Distillery produces and sells award winning liqueurs, schnapps and Vodkas, their Limoncello even won an International award a few years ago which is amazing considering that they were competing against the Italians. The schnapps is delicious but the Absinthe and Vodkas were a little too strong for my tastebuds. When I go to Mt Tamborine I make a point of going to the Witches Chase Cheese Company to try their homemade ice cream and buy some of their Triple Cream Brie or Washed Rind Cheese, the feta is also very tasty and if you’re lucky you can beat the crowds and spend time taste testing a variety of their products.

 

The Nardoo Lavendar farm
The Nardoo Lavendar Shop

Tamborine Mountain’s main street is known as Gallery Walk, it is very touristy and although there are some good cafes there I like to head to North Tamborine and grab a bit at a little cafe called the Spice of Life Cafe and Deli, fresh, tasty food can be purchased for a picnic or you can relax in the cafe with a paper and a good cup of coffee or gourmet sandwich. Not far from here is the Nardoo Lavendar Shop and Cedar Creek Estate, a winery and cafe popular with tourists but also for weddings, the surroundings are scenic and if you’re lucky you’ll get to see some of the local wildlife.

Rainbow Lorikeet
Rainbow Lorikeet
Friendly Water Monitor

Often I will visit¬†Tamborine Mountain with a friend and rather than shop or dine at a cafe, we’ll go for a walk in one of the many parks in the area. The abundance of rain means that there are a number of small waterfalls to see and on a hot day in summer you can hear the laughter and splashing of the local kids as they swim in the creek. There are short walks that range from 30 to 90 minutes and longer walks that can take a few hours to complete, if there has been alot of rain some tracks will be closed because of small mudslides or trees that have been dislodged and judged ‘unsafe’.

There are many other things to do at Tamborine Mountain, you can go hang gliding, shop for organic produce, art and crafts at the local markets, take a walk through the Botanic Gardens or visit some of the art galleries that have popped up all over the area. It really is a wonderful part of the world and one of my favourite places to visit on any given day.

Echinacea flower
Echinacea flower, Mt Tamborine Botanic Gardens
Bushwalking through National Park, Mt Tamborine
Bushwalking through National Park, Mt Tamborine