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

Winter morning walk

The chill of winter is here. It was a beautiful morning for a walk by the lake.

I love this time of year

Outside the heat of a Queensland Spring is destroying the green blades of grass and drying out the garden beds,¬†the talk of an El Nino¬†persists and I’ve been shopping for wetting agents, mulch and drought resistant native plants. Despite the heat, I love Spring and early morning walks with Bundy (Maxi is usually still snoring). This year all of the native plants seem to be in full flower with¬†their sweet scent permeating the air and the low hum of buzzing bees following us wherever we go.

As the heat dissipates towards the end of the day¬†both Bundy and Maxi take to the yard and play a short game of ‘catch me if you can’ or Bundy returns to playing with his favourite toy of late, the bucket. When not playing with his bucket you can find Bundy sleeping on the tiles or making himself comfortable on one of the outdoor chairs, Maxi can usually be found not far away, snoring loudly and blissfully ignorant of what is going on around her.

Summer is predicted to be long, hot and dry, quite different to the very wet and muggy summers we’ve had over the last few years.¬†When it gets really hot we’ll take the dogs to the beach before the sun comes up and head home before traffic jams make being on the road unbearable, for now Bundy and I will continue to enjoy the fresh, early morning Spring walks.

Morning walk in Melbourne

A series of photos taken on a morning walk in the city of Melbourne earlier this year. I love Melbourne for walking, lovely parks, amazing artworks and great coffee ūüôā

Princess Maxi turns 13 today

Maxi the dog
A young and happy Maxi

Today Maxi, the number one black dog, turns 13 which is roughly 83 years of age in dog years for a dog of her size and weight. Princess, as we like to call her, was our first dog and she was purchased on impulse from a pet store – everything I am now vehemently opposed to. We were living in an apartment near the beach, no dogs allowed and Maxi spent her first few days hiding out in our bathroom and avoiding the so-called wee wee pads that are supposed to help with toilet training. Early of a morning and late in the afternoon we would sneak her outside for a walk and a play in the park, she was frightened of everything and absolutely hated stairs. Thankfully my sister in-law was able to look after Maxi for a few weeks while we went house hunting for a pet friendly rental. They had a border collie pup called Murray and she was a few weeks older so the pair of them played and slept together, Maxi still gets excited when we visit my sister in-law even though Murray passed away long ago.

We made alot of mistakes with Maxi, walking isn’t always fun and she is frightened of so many things yet will take on anything or anyone that dares come to our front gate and as Maxi has gotten older she has become less tolerant of other dogs. With her greying fur, wobbly legs and poor hearing Maxi still retains the most beautiful nature and is loved by all our friends and family. She is great with kids of all shapes and sizes, occasionally bounding across the yard with them until it all gets too exhausting or unless someone offers her a cuddle and a treat.

Maxi loves a walk, her favourite places are the beach and the local park where there is plenty of smell duck poo to roll in. Her happy face is contagious and we always have a good laugh when she hits the ground for a roll on the grass (minus the poo), the look on her face is goofy and yet delightful. For her birthday she will have a yummy chicken dinner and a walk around the duck pond, there will also be lots of cuddles and kisses.

Happy Birthday my beautiful Princess Maxi and thank you for 13 years of unconditional love and loyalty.

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

A walk in the park

We live in a really good area for dog walkers, there are several good spots for walking depending on whether you prefer hills, footpaths, parks, or a peaceful alongside a body of water. The beach is great and our dogs love running in the sand and cooling off in the water but it is not possible to go every day so we stay local for the most part.

I usually take my iphone and listen to travel podcasts as I am walking, the camera is a handy feature even though the quality isn’t great. Our two black dogs are complete opposites when it comes to taking photos, Maxi can spot a camera from a mile away and will turn her head in disgust whereas Bundy is happy to sit and pose.

Bundy isn’t keen on swimming but he likes to wade…

Dog wading through water
Cooling his heels

…and roll in smelly dead things

Stinky dead fish skeleton
This will make me smell nice

Just sitting by the waters edge with Mum is also good.

Dog admiring the view of the lake
Relaxing and enjoying the view

Plenty of birdlife around, they live quite peacefully for the most part in an area where dogs can’t roam free.

Two ducks by the water
Donald and Daisy duck?
Proud dog sitting by water
Is this my best side Mum?