Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Road Trip Tropical Queensland

Jess, Shane & bub arrived on 18 March from Montreal, so we got our first cuddles with our new nearly 3-month old grand-daughter.

After a day to recover from jet-lag we headed down to Yeppoon. Shane set up the hammock between some trees on the foreshore, and we had fish and chips for lunch.

 It was too blowy and choppy and the water stirred up to swim. In the afternoon we went to Koorana Crocodile Farm. 

The next day Shane, Jess and bub got up early and went for a walk along Moore's Creek, and, excitingly saw a platypus in a waterhole.

There was a morning tea at work as a farewell to Tom from Gladstone, so we went up, as it was a good time to catch up with everyone. 

After morning tea we went to the Rockhampton Zoo. The Koalas were really active and got down on the ground to walk between the trees. Jess got to see Cassowary, Goanna, Wallaby, Kangaroos, Orangutans, Tawny Frogmouth, Dingo, Rosellas, and a green tree snake in the wild. Lunch was quite exciting as we almost had to fight the Rosellas for it.

On Saturday Shane organised a BBQ at the top of Mt Archer with lots of friends, who were all excited to meet the new members of our family. There is a short walk out to a lookout of Rockhampton, and all around were quite a few butterflies.

The next afternoon we took off for Byfield, and had lunch at Upper Stoney Creek, with Dave and Miranda. 
We went on to Fern's Hideaway and set up camp for the night. There was only one other couple there, with a car-top camper. Wildlife included wallabies, guinea fowl, goannas, Bush Stone-curlews, and Scrub Turkeys.

In the morning the men enjoyed a couple of ferocious rounds of Jenga before we headed down to Waterpark creek for a dip, a paddle in the canoes, and a little walk where we saw a strangler fig and a Wampoo Pidgeon. We had a swim in the pool, watched the wallabies feed on the lawn. 
Shane and Darryl played tennis then we decided to go for a bushwalk. We saw the scrub turkeys nest, then Darryl took a path back while we continued on. The track got harder and harder to see, crossed the creek and became quite precarious. Eventually we got to a part where I could see a building so we walked straight up and came up at the back of the workers cottage. 

At 3am it started raining, then got heavier and heavier. Darryl eventually got out and put a tarp over the big tent but Shane and Jess already had water in. We were dry at that stage, but eventually got water in as well. At 6am we all got up, had breakfast, and drove home. It rained solidly all day. At least someone was happy, using her feet to play with the toy loaned by Cara.

After 2 solid days of rain, it looked like it was easing so we headed north. Shane spotted a Koala sitting in a gumtree beside the highway. There were also a couple of brolgas in a nearby wetland. We had some very heavy showers while driving.

We stopped at Sarina Beach Motel for the night. There were zillions of butterflies everywhere. Went for a walk on the beach, and Darryl opened fresh coconuts for us, and got oysters off the rocks. We saw live sand-dollars. I didn't see it, but everyone else saw a large fish jump, and we watched the beautiful sunset. The motel had a restaurant which served delicious food delivered to the room, and we sat on the veranda to eat. After everyone else went to bed, we saw a firefly.

In the morning Darryl went for a beach walk to collect more coconuts. 

Shane, Jess & bub gave me a beautiful family tree pendant for my birthday. The butterflies were all still around. We drove to Mackay and dropped off our Canadian canoe, which we had sold. We saw a sea eagle over the canefields. We arrived at Townsville in time for a lovely birthday BBQ put on by my brother Steve and his wife Heather. Steve had organised for Dad to come out of hospital and he was very happy to see us and meet his first great-grand-daughter.

Steve and family gave me a lovely top. They enjoyed meeting their new niece and cousin. I think she enjoyed meeting them too!

In the morning we went to the ferry terminal and took the Hilux over to Magnetic Island. 

On arrival we drove around to Picnic Bay to have lunch on the grass. Shane and Darryl put up the hammock and Jess and Shane went for a swim in the stinger enclosure. This area has beautiful huge rocks, which I just love.

We were all really impressed with our accommodation at Horseshoe Bay, Sails on Horseshoe, right on the foreshore with great views. It was lovely. My brother and his family came over and we met them at Alma Bay. 

From there we went to Bremner Point to see the rock-wallabies come down to feed, and watch a stunning sunset over the island, before going to Alma Bay Hotel for dinner, where we met a curious possum.

In the morning we got up pretty early. Darryl went out for a paddle while Shane tried to teach himself how to use a paddle-board, and I sat and had a coffee on the beach watching Shane and the red-tailed black cockatoos. 

Then I went for a swim - Darryl came down at the end for a dip. Jess and Shane went out on the paddle-board while I baby-sat. Jess was really good on the paddle-board. 

Justin, Steve and Shane really enjoyed themselves on the tube-ride.

After lunch we went for a dip in the pool. Bub had a really long swim, and seemed to love it, but then she was really tired. 

We went to The Forts. There were gun placements (the guns were never actually used), an observation tower, and a command post built in WWII. There were lots of butterflies, a koala, and a lovely sunset to enjoy before we went to feed the wallabies again.

In the morning we went to Radical Bay, which had lovely shady trees, coconut trees, and looked like a great place to camp. Shane made a quick platypus sandcarving. 

 The next beach back was Florence Bay, and we have decided that it is definitely the beach that Darryl & I spent our week at in 1980, as it has the Scout Camp. The camp itself is cordoned off due to asbestos removal. As time was getting on we didn't stop at Arthur Bay, but drove back to Nelly Bay to have some food, and to catch the ferry back to the mainland. Once there, the important stop was at Townsville Hospital to see Dad. He was very pleased to see us again, and really appreciated us calling in.

It was sad to say goodbye, but we had to head south and stopped at Beachside Apartments at Queen's Bay near Bowen. We enjoyed a delicious dinner before pretty much falling into bed for a sound sleep.

In the morning, after packing up, we drove to look at the other beaches in the area, spending a bit of time at Horseshoe Bay, which was just lovely. There were shady casuarina trees, picnic tables and a lovely cooling breeze. We thought we would look at Rose Bay, which is supposed to be really nice, but a drive down there showed that there wasn't as much shade, so we opted to return to Horseshoe Bay for an early fresh salad lunch followed by fresh coconut supplied by Darryl. Darryl, Shane, Jess and bub went for a walk up to the lookout.

It was then on to Airlie Beach where we booked into Airlie Beach Apartments which were really good and gave us great discounts on our trips. We went for a walk to the beach before the others had a swim while enjoying a beautiful sunset.

Whitehaven Beach was one of the major attractions that Shane wanted to show Jess so we got up really early to catch the bus from our apartments to Abel Point Marina to catch the boat "Orca". The beach has the most beautiful white sand which squeaked when we walked on it. It is so white that it doesn't get hot at all. We had planned to set up the hammock under the trees, but unfortunately as soon as we got near them we were nearly carried away with sandflies, so we set up the shade tent down on the high water mark for bub. We spent the day swimming with lots of little fish, trumpeter, hardy-heads, whiting, trevalley, turtles and others.Darryl went for a walk up to the lookout (didn't take the camera), and came back for me to show me some flowers, beautiful butterflies (blue and black, and yellow and black), a lace monitor, and fungi. 

Shane and Jess built a sand-carving which was a baby elephant hugging a penguin family with an egg.

They stayed on the beach while we went on the beach cruise and over to Hill Inlet to walk up to the lookout which gave lovely views of Whitehaven beach. 

After the lookout we went over to Esk Island to go snorkelling. The visibility wasn't great, but there were lots and lots of fish. Some came right up to the mask to look at us. Darryl got some great photos of clams and corals. Back at Whitehaven Beach we packed up and headed home.

The next day we had a really easy day, organising bookings for the next week. Then we packed a picnic lunch and drove to Conway Beach, which we would rate about a 3...very dirty from recent floods in Proserpine River, and obviously just a fishing spot, and apparently one of the highest concentrations of crocodiles. Then we went back to Cedar Creek Falls. A well-fed goanna kept circling our picnic table while we were eating. There were also lots of mosquitoes. The falls themselves were quite lovely, and a turtle kept popping it's head up to breathe. Ulysses Blue butterflies were around, but not close, and there were plenty of rainbow fish and little prawns nibbling at our feet in the water.

Today our trip was an hour later than on Thursday, which meant a little extra sleep-in. The bus picked us up again, and we got on the "Seaflight" to go out to Reefworld on Hardy Reef. 

Once we arrived Darryl & I went straight out snorkeling. It was magnificent, there were so many beautifully coloured fish, of all sizes. Bright blue stag-horn corals and huge clams. Some parts unfortunately seemed damaged, but it was fabulous. Shane and Jess wanted to first go out on the Subsea Adventure but it had broken down, so when we returned they were having lunch. We changed shifts for us to look after bub, and they went out snorkeling. We were able to get photos with them outside and bub and us inside the viewing area.

We also caught a glimpse of George the Groper (over 2m long). Darryl went out on the Subsea Adventure (now repaired with a piece of rope!). 

In the morning we packed up and drove to Finch Hatton Gorge. We had an early picnic lunch which was almost stolen by a rogue kookaburra. After lunch we walked up to the swimming hole at Araluen Cascades and all except Darryl & bub had a swim. There were Ulysses Blue Butterflies, but again not close enough for a good shot, although the Blue Triangle butterflies posed beautifully on the rocks nearby. 

After our swim we drove back to Rockhampton, spotting a wedgetail eagle, and playing an animal game to keep alert. We spent a day of unpacking, washing, and re-packing for the onward journey to Anges Water via Gladstone. It is hard to believe bub is 3 months old.

We arrived early at our accommodation, Beachside 1770 just a bit early, but our rooms were ready so we had our lunch then walked down to the beach. Shane and Jess built a sandcastle but the tide was still coming in. Later we went for a drive to 1770 to walk out to the point. It has been nicely upgraded since we were last at the site. We took some lovely evening sky photos, and then saw quite a big mob of kangaroos at the airport. 

In the morning we had a look at the sheltered end of Agnes Beach where bub had fun with her feet in the sand and water. 

Next stop was at Elliott Heads where the mouth was just beautiful. There were people fishing, kitesurfing, sailboarding, flying kites and just swimming. We had a picnic lunch under the shade of the casuarina trees, then bub went for a swim, where she really enjoyed pushing her feet into the sand just under the water. Shane and Jess made a sand sculpture of an whale while bub slept. 

Eventually we knew we had to leave so drove out past the house, and made our way to Hervey Bay. We booked into Five3Five Esplanade which was magnificent (I would absolutely recommend it). We were really sorry we weren't staying longer as the apartment was beautiful and there were bikes, kayaks etc to use (which we didn't have time to). I was really tired so Shane and Darryl went grocery shopping and got a hot chook and salads for dinner. Jess and I sat out on the veranda until the mozzies chased us indoors.

We had to pack up reasonably early to pick up a few more groceries before driving to river heads to catch the barge to Fraser Island. While waiting we saw dolphins playing in the river mouth, and a grazing turtle popped up it's head for air a few times. It was quite enjoyable trip over, and we decided to go to go first to Lake Mackenzie for lunch and a swim. We loved seeing the trees during the drive, there was a valley of tall palms, huge kauri pines, tallow wood, blackbutt, smooth-barked apple, scribbly gum etc.  The lake was beautiful with white sand and light and dark blue waters. Bub had a dip, including underwater, but after that she lost patience with it. Shane and Jess made another lovely sand sculpture of a pelican and a fish. Eventually we decided to head over to Eurong Village to check into our accommodation and look at the beach, where a wild dingo was stealing bait from the fishermen.

This day's driving was completely along the beach so timing was mandated by the tides (supposedly only able to only drive along the beach 2 hours either side of low tide - around noon). We drove north along the beach, stopping to look at the coloured sands The Pinnacles Coloured Sands, Cathderal Beach & Red Canyon, the Maheno Wreck (from nearly 80 years ago), over Indian Head to Champagne Pools. These were beautiful clear rock pools where we could swim. There were numerous lovely fish, and Sea squirts squirting water at regular intervals.We drove back to Eli Creek, wanting to cross it early as it causes the most problems at higher tide, where we had lunch at a sheltered overhand. We later discovered a dingo was watching us from above on the sand dune. Shane, Jess and bub went for a wade in the creek. 

Saturday was a latish start, but Darryl went down to the beach and caught 3 fish. He threw 2 back but kept a nice dart. 

We drove south down the beach to Dili Village then inland to Lake Boomanjin. We had morning tea in the dingo-proof enclosure and then walked down to see the tea-stained lake. It was quite pretty, but not suitable for swimming, so we drove on, through the forest to Lake Birrabeen. There were only 2 other cars of people and the sand was pristine white and the water beautiful blues. We pretty much spent the rest of the day lazing under the shady trees, swimming, sleeping etc here. Happy hour was spent on the beach watching the sunset.

We woke to light rain, but decided to continue with our plan of driving to Central Station, the old logging experimental camp which is now a camping and day-use area. We walked along the beautiful rainforest creek walk for a way. This area has huge King Ferns. An eel and fish were spotted in the creek. We had morning tea before walking the 2.6km to Basin Lake. For part of the walk we were in the clouds! This may have been a nice lake, but with heavier rain the mosquitoes just descended on us, so we took a couple of photos and walked back a lot more quickly. From here we had lunch under the shelter, along with a whole crowd on a tour, and a nice Canadian couple. The rain became heavier so we headed back to Eurong, and had a lazy afternoon.

In the morning we packed up to check out of Eurong, and had morning tea before driving across the island to the ferry point. We were unable to do anything much due to the rain. There was a French family also waiting at the pickup point, and we gave them a few pointers on where to go on their way to Cairns. The ferry trip was quite calm despite the remnants of the cyclone causing high seas outside the island. 

The drive to Brisbane was pretty straightforward, and we only had one stop for bub to be fed and changed. We arrived at our apartment (Essence at Chermside - very nice), unpacked the car, ordered takeaway Thai (Thaiayuthia), and went to pick it up. The rest of Darryl's family arrived while we were away. It was lovely for everyone to meet Jess and bub. Our niece had made some delicious coconut biscuits and a lovely chia chocolate pudding for dessert. 

In the morning we all packed up, took Shane and Jess to pick up their hire car, and said our sad goodbyes. The holiday had been wonderful, (I think it is the best I have ever had!) and went all too quickly.