Little Crystal Creek   1 comment

A quick post on our road trip. After a few superb days on Magnetic Island we were back on the mainland and heading north towards our next stop. We needed a lunchtime stop for some R&R and a picnic lunch

 

The weather was superb so we thought a spot of river swimming was in order. Just north of Townsville are loads of rivers flowing out of the rainforest mountains of Girringum National Park. We chose Little Crystal Creek as the photos of the falls and its stone bridge looked rather appealing

queensland, little crystal creek, girringum national park, wild swimming

queensland, little crystal creek, girringum national park, wild swimming

It was. We dived straight in to the clear and startlingly, breathtakingly cold water. When I say “straight” I do of course mean me. The rest of the sherpas and funsters take an age in that typically British style where getting wet over a period of 10 minutes clearly warms the water up

queensland, little crystal creek, girringum national park, wild swimming

queensland, little crystal creek, girringum national park, wild swimming

queensland, little crystal creek, girringum national park, wild swimming

It was great fun. Deep water, slides and jumps abound although even I was forced to call it quits such was the coldness of the water

queensland, little crystal creek, girringum national park, wild swimming

The heat of the day was nice to sunbathe in, warming ourselves on the rocks

queensland, little crystal creek, girringum national park, wild swimming

queensland, little crystal creek, girringum national park, wild swimming

A picnic on the rocks finished off the excursion.

queensland, little crystal creek, girringum national park, wild swimming

queensland, little crystal creek, girringum national park, wild swimming

Bush Turkeys scrounging for food as they always do

queensland, little crystal creek, girringum national park, wild swimming

I was tempted by a substantial leap into the pool under the bridge but I lost my nerve. I figure I’m getting too old for such things now.

queensland, little crystal creek, girringum national park, wild swimming

queensland, little crystal creek, girringum national park, wild swimming

queensland, little crystal creek, girringum national park, wild swimming

queensland, little crystal creek, girringum national park, wild swimming

A couple of hours of fun set us up for the short drive to our next stop at Mission Beach

Wake up Maggie I think I’ve got something to say to you!   4 comments

Another poor attempt at a novel blog title

What I had to say was “Good Morning, what a stunning island you are”

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

Another early morning stroll on the beach enlivened by Honeyeaters and the huge flock of Lorikeets that hang out on the beachfront.

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

They seemed to congregate on the verandah of the Mexican restaurant making a deafening noise and I soon found out why. The owner came out with their regular breakfast of bread and honey and they descended on him like locusts. The guy must have had twenty birds on his head, shoulders and arms and dozens more flying around him. He put down the food and they devoured it in seconds. A very entertaining start to the day

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

Exploration was on today’s agenda. The island only has a few miles of roads and a couple of settlements but there is an excellent bus service. We bought an all day ticket and set about the task at hand. We first stopped at the “capital”, Nelly Bay and took a long walk along the beach down towards the old main town at Picnic Bay (apologies for the dirty smudge I hadn’t bothered to clean off the camera lens).

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

It was another fabulous day. We’d wanted to reach the beach at the far end of the bay but it seemed inaccessible from the shoreline. We also couldn’t find a way down from the headland or from Picnic Bay so we gave up, shame as it looks like a cracking spot. We headed on down into Picnic Bay

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

Picnic Bay was by Maggie’s standards a bit uninspiring so we hopped back on the bus and went for lunch at an Italian Sandwich Bar at Alma Bay.

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

After a brief walk on the beach we decided to hop on the bus again and head to Arthur Bay that we’d spotted the day before. An inspired idea. On an island resplendent with great beaches this was the best.

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

Perfectly formed with granite boulders framing the view, clear water and great snorkelling. We spent a very lazy and relaxed afternoon swimming, sunbathing and chilling. Up there with the best beaches we visited and it had some stiff competition.

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

As the afternoon sun started to fade we bid farewell to beach and walked back up the hill to catch another bus. We had one more animal encounter to finish the day. Back at Geoffrey Bay the road ends at a small jetty. Amongst the rocks by the road lives a colony of Rock Wallabies and every evening they come down to be fed. Armed with a couple of bags of food from the local shop we wandered down there.

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

There were loads of them. Some braver than others but eventually we found a head high rock with several hungry mouths to feed.

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

They are exceedingly cute. if you lifted your hand up they rested their little paws on your hand to eat. Bless ‘em

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

I asked this one to pose for a photo and he did

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

We even got a baby to feed.

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

The kids absolutely loved it as you can imagine. It’s rare to get this close to any form of wildlife outside a zoo and they were moments to treasure. Not quite as exciting for me as seeing the Koala in the wild – these wallabies are effectively semi-tame and habituated to human contact but it didn’t detract from the experience.

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

One of the mothers came down complete with baby in the pouch which was rather special

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

Interestingly kangaroo young often leave their mother’s pouch and then return as they grow. Once a Wallaby baby leaves the pouch for the first time it never returns

magnetic island, maggie, rainbow lorikeet, nelly bay, horseshoe bay, picnic bay, alma bay, arthur bay, rock wallabies, geoffrey bay

After an hour of close up contact with these little furry bouncing bundles we had to say our farewells and catch the bus back home.

Another really special day and we finished it with another session in the Marlin Bar.

Another place ticked off and a real surprise. Most of the places we planned to visit I was least aware of in some way. Maggie was just an interesting looking stop off but in its quiet charming way it was one of our favourites. Possibly due to the stunning weather, the best of the whole trip, or maybe the contrast with the previous few days grey skies. I like to think it was more the degree of surprise at what a marvelous place it was. It felt like a “real” island, lived on and home to real people rather than overtly promoted and commercialised or a sacred overly protected natural wonder. Just a thoroughly nice place with stunning scenery without being in any way ostentatious or self-serving. It had a charm that I don’t think anywhere else we visited quite matched. Perhaps most of all it felt like the real coastal Queensland.

As we took the ferry home the next morning I said to Maggie “I love you and I’ll be back to see you soon, stay just as you are” :)

The Attraction of Magnetic Island   3 comments

See what I did there.

After finally seeing the sun come out late afternoon the previous day we were finally treated to what the Whitsundays looked like under a blue sky. The next morning was stunning. Not a cloud to spoil the view (and no it wasn’t raining in my heart)

airlie beach, whitsundays, mount rooper

airlie beach, whitsundays, mount rooper

I sneaked out for a very brisk walk up the local hill, Mount Rooper under the pretence of finding some breakfast for the family. The views were now breathtaking.

airlie beach, whitsundays, mount rooper

airlie beach, whitsundays, mount rooper

If only we had more time. Our next stop was Magnetic Island a 3 hour drive and ferry ride away. We pondered staying in Airlie Beach for the day but really you need to be out on a boat to see the Whitsundays at their best so we packed up and headed out. It was a glorious, hot and sunny day and the drive north was stunning. We arrived in Townsville, one of Queensland’s bigger towns and caught our 30 minute ferry over to the island that sits just off the coast

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

Magnetic Island or “Maggie” as the locals call it was one of the few places I’d not heard of when I started planning the trip. We only decided to stay as it was a handy stop off on the road north. I’m so glad we did

The apartment rental agency gave us a lift to Horseshoe Bay, our home for the next few days. The Apartment was just stunning, huge, spacious and luxurious. It overlooked the Bay from a huge balcony and I instantly fell in love with the place (Apartment review here).

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

We had time to spend a couple of hours on the beach and took a swim in the warm waters – not as clear as further out on the reef but shallow and calm and perfect for the kids.

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

As we watched the sun go down we were joined by a turtle swimming just a few yards off the beach. We even caught a glimpse of a whale breaching far out in the bay. I’d been told Horseshoe Bay was the place to go for sunsets and it didn’t disappoint. Watching the sun set with the boats silhouetted in the foreground was just magnificent. What a find this place was. After a picnic tea on the balcony we turned in, very happy indeed in our new temporary home and pleased we’d decided to take in a stay on Maggie

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

As was my routine I was up early the next day and took a stroll on the beach before anyone else was up. As always I was joined by the usual dawn chorus of birds, primarily the ever noisy Lorikeets and the more tuneful Honeyeaters. This time I was joined by a Kookaburra but he must have got ourtof bed the wrong side as he didn’t laugh although he did pose for some pictures

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala, kookaburra

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala, kookaburra

We spent the morning just lazing on the beach out by the rocks at the far end of the bay. We had planned a swim but the tide was out and Horseshoe Bay is extremely shallow so we just pithered and pottered and enjoyed the best weather of the trip. We did manage a brief swim out front of the apartment before lunch but even at a couple of hundred metres out it was only waist deep.

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

In the afternoon we took a walk across the headland to see some of Maggies other more remote beaches of which the island has plenty.

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

After a short and rather hot walk through the bush we broke through the palm trees to Radical Bay and what a stunner it was.

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

Straight in for a swim to cool down in the tropical waters. I could have floated there all day but then I started to tingle all over and it was clear there was something in the water with us. It was like the feeling of prickly heat and a little uncomfortable and after a few minutes of scratching we got out. Something microscopic in the water was giving us a little nip or nips. Later research confirmed something called sea-lice, tiny jellyfish that can be something of an irritation but nothing too bad. We recovered by lazing on the sand and sitting on the rocks at either end of the beach watching the fish and the boats and just enjoying more sunshine and warmth after the grey skies of the Wetsundays

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

Maggie has loads of these pocket beaches between granite headlands and our walk around the coast (a bit of rollercoaster of ups and downs in the heat) took us to Florence Bay, itself a real stunner and like Radical Bay, practically deserted

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

We didn’t linger as we had one more walk to do, and one that Maggie is renowned for. After another punishingly steep hill we passed Arthur Bay – more of that little cracker in the next post.

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

We were heading for the forts walk, one of the islands main attractions. It’s home to a collection of WW2 ruins, lookouts and gun batteries scattered throughout the forest and they are fascinating insight into history. Nestled amongst the bush and Eucalypt trees the walk is well worth it just for the views and the history. However this was not what we had come to see. Our eyes were facing up to the tree tops trying to spot one the islands reclusive inhabitants. We looked everywhere and were getting neck-ache and a little downhearted that our luck was out as the day was fading away. Then we got a quiet shout from and man over to our left and went over to see. There just above us in the trees was what we had come to see.

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

A mother and her baby! We were truly blessed. We must have watched them for well over an hour transfixed. A rare treat to see such an iconic and such a threatened creature in its natural habitat and so close.

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

After a few minutes they started to put on a show for us. Slowly climbing the tree, baby clinging on at first and then separately. Watching the mother expertly climb the thinnest of branches and then gather the leaves was just amazing I took hundreds of photos fearing that I might not have got a decent shot and so pleased that I’d invested in a proper telephoto lens although they were only 15 feet above us.

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

Koalas are under serious threat in Australia, mainly due to loss of habitat. Despite the fact that there are hundreds of varieties of Eucalypts in Australia, Koalas can live on just five. As man continues to expand so the number of those specific trees is reduced and along with it the Koalas. As food becomes scarce many Koalas become weak and fall prey to a range of diseases that normally they can withstand. It’s diet is also the reason Koalas have their reputation for being limited of movement. Rather than being just lazy, they are just conserving energy as the leaves give them so little nutrition. It’s tough being a Koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

As darkness approached we had to tear ourselves away. As we did a male Koala gave a throaty roar from a few trees away. I never knew they roared (they aren’t bears of course!). Did you also know that Koalas are the only one of 3 species (man and chimps are the others) that have unique fingerprints, very much like ours. What an amazing creature and we felt privileged to have seen them. Who knows what their future holds

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

We swiftly made our way to the summit and climbed the lookout point. The ruins on the summit are extensive and there would be whole heap of fun to be had exploring. For us it was a very swift and breathless climb to the highest tower. We’d just missed the sunset but the views were still spectacular, albeit, well, dark really

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

townsville, magnetic island, maggie, maggies beachfront apartments, horseshoe bay, radical bay, florence bay, arthur bay, forts walk, koala

As a final treat on the way down I noticed some movement by the side of path and saw an Echidna, a sort of Australian hedgehog. One of a rather odd group of Australian animals called Monotremes (“one hole”) on account of the fact they only have – well – one hole called a cloaca to lay eggs and, you get the idea. It was too dark to take a photo so we just stood and watched as the little pin cushion waddled off into the bush.

We caught a late bus home and finished off an exceptionally fine day in the best way possible. Cold beers and burgers in the Marlin Bar, handily placed next door to the apartment. A proper Aussie bar and I loved it and in fact, quite disturbingly, so did the kids. I’ll restrict them to just the 4 pints next time

Cruising in the Wetsundays   3 comments

Another day in Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays, another gloomy day. The wind had dropped and the rain had turned to drizzle but if anything the day was more dreary than the day before. The cloud was down pretty much to sea level and everything was grey and dark.

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

The plan had been to get a very early start and take full day trip to Whitehaven Beach. Images of a long lazy day under a blue sky on the white silica beach taking time out to swim, snorkel and walk in the bush. Can’t say that I really fancied spending a whole day sitting on a beach in the rain. Our tour operator kindly let us swap to a “3 island tour” to take in the resort islands of Daydream and Hamilton with just an afternoon at Whitehaven Beach. I figured the resorts might at least give us a change of scene and somewhere to shelter from the rain.

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

Well, the best thing I can say about Hamilton and Daydream Islands is that they are indeed a change of scene and they did give us shelter from the rain. Daydream Island resembles an upmarket Butlins. Absolutely not my sort of place. It did have some rather damp and pi55ed off looking wallabies in the grounds and they did have a large outdoor aquarium complete with a range of sharks and rays. They held a feeding session which the kids enjoyed. That was it really and I can’t say I have any inclination to return

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

At least Daydream had some kind of cheesy charm. If anything I liked Hamilton Island even less. Obscenely ostentatious, all rich yachting types and golf carts with some quite grotesque high-rise hotels. This is not the Whitsundays of the brochures. We heard that the guy who had the rights to develop the island had been told that he could not build any development higher than the trees. He got around this quite ingeniously and outrageously by building a hotel no higher than the tallest tree on the highest part of the island i.e. a tower block. Whatever passed for the authorities in the area let him do it. Now Hamilton Island resembles an upmarket Benidorm on a what I’m certain used to be a glorious tropical island. I hated it

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

We did at least have a decent lunch, and an ice cream on the beach. It may have been the culmination of a day and half in the rain but my spirits were pretty low in seeing how they had allowed development to despoil the place

When we boarded the boat to Whitehaven things began to improve. The skipper on the boat gave an insightful and humorous commentary as we cruised around Whitsunday Island.

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

As we approached Whitehaven Beach it stopped raining and there were tentative signs of the weather finally breaking. We were ferried ashore in a little punt sort of thing and stepped ashore finally at Whitehaven. Suddenly spirits were lifted. The sun didn’t exactly come out but it was bright and warm and the water was crystal clear and inviting.

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

We spent a happy couple of hours finally enjoying what the Whitsundays had to offer with a wander on the beach and a couple of swims. There are campsites right on the beach and it looked so inviting, a total contrast to the high-rise squalor of Hamilton Island. It must be magnificent before and after the tour boats arrive to be camped in this most stunning of spots. What it must be like on a clear blue sky day. That would be my idea of a Whitsundays resort

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

All too soon it was time to head home. As we boarded the boat we saw our first blue sky and watery sunshine for two days. Our more buoyant mood was further improved by warm scones, tea and fresh fruit, courtesy of Cruise Whitsundays (you can find my review of their day trip here).

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

From there everything improved. The sun started to break through and we were treated to a fabulous sunset over the Whitsundays as we travelled back to Airlie Beach via Daydream Island and Hamilton Island once more. Despite the chilly wind I stood out on the front of the boat all the way and soaked in the views and reeled off loads of photos

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

cruise whitsundays, airlie beach, daydream island, hamilton island, whitsunday island, whitehaven beach

I had finally seen something of what the Whitsundays had to offer. Looking back now its really unfortunate that I don’t have quite the same fond memories that we had of almost everywhere else we went in Queensland. Obviously the weather didn’t help but the blatant commercialism that exists at Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island and Daydream Island was not only the antithesis of the kind of places I like but was completely out of character with everywhere else we stayed. If I return I would seek out one of the quieter islands or better still try to arrange a camping trip or 2/3 night sailing trip to get away from the crowds. Rather than feeling unlucky at a day and a half of bad weather I feel lucky that we had half a day of great weather. Enough to show me that the Whitsunday’s deserve another chance with a bit of thought and planning

Ocean Rafting in the Whitsundays (or should that be the Wetsundays)   12 comments

The Whitsunday Islands are one of the picture postcard sights of NE Queensland. Dramatic green forested island mountains rising from an azure sea, fringed by coral reefs and white sand beaches. We arrived in Airlie Beach, the main tourist hub under heavy, leaden skies that promised rain.

Our apartment at the splendid SeaStar Apartments (review here) made up for the weather, a stunning place with a wide balcony with sea views. We had a couple of full day tours booked so we hoped that perhaps things would be better in the morning.

They weren’t. The weather was awful. After some glorious weather to start or trip our luck had run out. Blue skies were replaced with heavy driving rain and wind. We were booked on a trip with Ocean Rafting  (review here) in one of their fast and very bouncy looking craft for a day of snorkelling and sunbathing on the world famous Whitehaven Beach. The weather just looked awful as we waited on the pier. To their eternal credit they offered us the chance to bail out of the trip with a full refund as the forecast was for no improvement through the day. We thought that we would only end up sitting listlessly around the apartment all day feeling miserable if we did so we thought we may as well go for it as did everyone else.

As you can imagine from a trip on a fast boat its run by, and patronised by a youngish crowd. Me and TBF felt a little out of place. The enthusiastic crew soon put everyone at ease, and then skipper opened the throttle and we were off.

airlie beach, whitsundays, whitsunday island, border island, hill inlet, whitehaven beach, ocean rafting, hook island, thrilla

airlie beach, whitsundays, whitsunday island, border island, hill inlet, whitehaven beach, ocean rafting, hook island, thrilla

Well all I can say is you don’t need theme parks to get a real life thrill ride – in fact our vessel was called “Thrilla”. It was tremendous fun as we bounced, twisted and turned amongst the fairly big waves and heavy seas thrown up by the storms. The kids and TJF in particular were really enjoying themselves despite the weather. Well, TJF did, not sure about TJS, he looked terminally wet and cold all day

airlie beach, whitsundays, whitsunday island, border island, hill inlet, whitehaven beach, ocean rafting, hook island, thrilla

airlie beach, whitsundays, whitsunday island, border island, hill inlet, whitehaven beach, ocean rafting, hook island, thrilla

With the rain and the spray we were all pretty much soaked after 20 minutes. After a narrow gap between islands we were out in the open sea and the waves were huge. The boat would skip across the waves and then suddenly drop like a stone or hit a wall of water with soaking spray. It became more apparent that spending the day out on the waves was the best way possible to spend a wet day. If your gonna get wet it may as well be fun :)

airlie beach, whitsundays, whitsunday island, border island, hill inlet, whitehaven beach, ocean rafting, hook island, thrilla

airlie beach, whitsundays, whitsunday island, border island, hill inlet, whitehaven beach, ocean rafting, hook island, thrilla

airlie beach, whitsundays, whitsunday island, border island, hill inlet, whitehaven beach, ocean rafting, hook island, thrilla

We pulled up into a sheltered bay at Border Island and took and hour out for some snorkelling.

airlie beach, whitsundays, whitsunday island, border island, hill inlet, whitehaven beach, ocean rafting, hook island, thrilla

airlie beach, whitsundays, whitsunday island, border island, hill inlet, whitehaven beach, ocean rafting, hook island, thrilla

Most of the islands have fringing reefs and despite the fact that the wind and waves had stirred up the water a bit the snorkelling was still amazing, loads of coral and in particular large green parrot fish. Only me and TBF ventured in (kids preferred the very relative dry of the boat) – of course in the water it doesn’t matter if its raining and I was having a ball. Here’s a picture of me enjoying myself in the warm waters – trust me, it wasn’t as cold as it looked

airlie beach, whitsundays, whitsunday island, border island, hill inlet, whitehaven beach, ocean rafting, hook island, thrilla

The boat headed off across a wild sea and through a torrential downpour with me and TJF at the front of the boat, towards Hill inlet on Whitsunday Island, the largest in the group. I can only imagine what a stunning spot this must be under a blue sky.

airlie beach, whitsundays, whitsunday island, border island, hill inlet, whitehaven beach, ocean rafting, hook island, thrilla

We took a stroll through the bush to the viewpoint and tried to imagine the scene. In good weather and the right tide, Hill Inlet is a swirl of silica and turqouise shaded water. Today it was just a grey swirl but I loved it any way. This is what it’s supposed to look like….

Hill-Inlet-Lookout

And this was our view.

airlie beach, whitsundays, whitsunday island, border island, hill inlet, whitehaven beach, ocean rafting, hook island, thrilla

Sometimes I feel a little regretful that we didn’t see it at its best but mostly I’m chuffed to have been there at all. Even on this day it’s a majestic spot

We headed back down and had a lunch on the white silica beach in the drizzle.

airlie beach, whitsundays, whitsunday island, border island, hill inlet, whitehaven beach, ocean rafting, hook island, thrilla

airlie beach, whitsundays, whitsunday island, border island, hill inlet, whitehaven beach, ocean rafting, hook island, thrilla

I took a paddle in the shallows and saw huge Stingrays just a few feet from where I stood. There were dozens of them all hunting in the shallows for crabs in the sand. Nervous of these gentle yet dangerous creatures I clambered up amongst the tree roots to see them from a safer perch. Amazing stuff.

We took an actually pretty splendid stroll along the sand spit and paddled in the warm water. It stopped raining for the occasional minute and found ourselves smiling through the grim conditions. It was almost a disappointment to head back to port.

airlie beach, whitsundays, whitsunday island, border island, hill inlet, whitehaven beach, ocean rafting, hook island, thrilla

airlie beach, whitsundays, whitsunday island, border island, hill inlet, whitehaven beach, ocean rafting, hook island, thrilla

After another wild ride we were back at Airlie Beach.

airlie beach, whitsundays, whitsunday island, border island, hill inlet, whitehaven beach, ocean rafting, hook island, thrilla

We were absolutely drenched and standing in the lobby, dripping water, waiting for our lift we must have looked a sight. A worthy day out indeed and one to file under “making the best of things”.

Proof reading it, seems like I’m making a statement about what a good day it was despite weather. I’m not sure if I’m trying to convince myself or people reading this to be honest. It was deeply disappointing to hit such a bad spell of weather in such a an amazing place but in 4 weeks we were never going to have it all our own way. I’m probably overplaying the sentiment but it was a genuinely great day out that I look back on with fondness. Just reading it all through again though I should say that there were one or two moments when it really was utterly miserable!

Big thanks to the Ocean Rafting guys and gals for making it a such a memorable day. But in the sunshine next time :)

Interval at Cape Hillsborough National Park   10 comments

We left Eungella National Park for the relatively short drive to Airlie Beach, our base for the Whitsundays. We had some time to explore and had planned to do some wild swimming at the nearby Finch Hatton Gorge. The weather however was cool and cloudy and not exactly inviting us into the water. We figured the coast gave us a better chance of sunshine so we took a drive out to Cape Hillsborough.

 

As you can see it was an inspired idea.

cape hillsborough, queensland

cape hillsborough, queensland

The sun came out and despite the wind it was hot and humid. The beach was simply superb and we had the whole place to ourselves. We’d read that you can often find Kangeroos lazing on the beach but we were out of luck.

cape hillsborough, queensland

We took a stroll, well a steep climb actually, through the woods to the view points overlooking the beach and headlands. The views were magnificent although the billowing clouds seemed to be announcing a change in the weather and so it proved.

cape hillsborough, queensland

cape hillsborough, queensland

cape hillsborough, queensland

cape hillsborough, queensland

The woods were alive with huge blue butterflies and I managed to catch a couple of really good close ups.

cape hillsborough, queensland

cape hillsborough, queensland

We took another wander across the wide and empty expanse of sand. Like pretty much every beach we visited we shared the thought that if this was in Europe it would be absolutely mobbed with people. It was one of the over-riding impressions we took home just how uncrowded this part of the world is

cape hillsborough, queensland

cape hillsborough, queensland

We enjoyed another great picnic lunch in the really rather lovely parkland that sits behind the beach. The Australians do picnic areas really well, loads of shady tables, free BBQ to use, water and acres of spotlessly clean landscaped space.

cape hillsborough, queensland

cape hillsborough, queensland

It was a very fine half day stop off, finished off with a Mangrove Boardwalk amble that was equally fine

cape hillsborough, queensland

cape hillsborough, queensland

Posted October 22, 2014 by surfnslide in Australia, Queensland

Tagged with ,

From the Sea to the Mountains – Eungella National Park   6 comments

We left LEI and had another stunning flight back to the mainland including a bonus bumpy landing at Bundaberg

lady elliot island, hervey bay

lady elliot island, hervey bay

lady elliot island, hervey bay

lady elliot island, hervey bay

Now we had to get some miles under our belt. One of the hotel owners told us that there was loads of great stuff to see in Queensland but that there was an awful lot of nothing in between. There is nothing much to see in central coastal Queensland so we had a 500 mile drive north to our next adventure. We spread this long drive over 2 days and stopped off at the Rosslyn Bay Resort near the very nice coastal town of Yeppoon. There is a TripAdvisor review here if you’re interested.

It was a brief stay in a very nice apartment and as with all the places we stayed we awoke to birdsong. Here the laughter of the Kookaburra was loudest

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

Not only was it a rather fine hotel and apartment but a rather fine area as well. We took time out from endless driving for a walk on the beach and a wander to the top of the local headland

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

The views out to Great Keppel Island were very fine. We’d thought about a visit there but ferries are infrequent and it was one of those places we had to drop from the itinerary. Shame as the photos looked nice!

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

Feeling satisfied with a couple of hours of respite we hit the road again and headed north to Mackay. The scenery changed and Sugar Cane was king in these parts. Vast acres of them paralleled by miles of narrow gauge tracks for the cane trains. Huge sugar factories billowing plumes of steam. Many people told us how boring the drive through Queensland was. In truth there was not much to see, particularly as the main road, the Bruce Highway, runs several miles inland. But I enjoyed the drive. the roads are largely empty, traffic flows freely and that empty blankness was at least Australian empty blankness. We just cruised and enjoyed the fact we were in Australia seeing things and places perhaps we never thought we’d see.

Our destination was the Broken River Mountain Resort in Eungella National Park. An area of mountainous rainforest about 50 miles inland. The approach is through the wide Sugar Cane rich Pioneer Valley and we cruised along its mostly deserted roads. Suddenly the road pitched upwards in a series of sharp hairpins up into the forest to the resort at about 700m.

It was pretty much dark when we got there but the resort is gorgeous. A small collection of timber chalets in the forest with a rustic lodge at its heart. We had our own private cabin down by the river. You can read my TripAdvisor Review here

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

The restaurant was excellent and the waitress looked after us royally for all our meals and arranged our packed picnic lunches – I only wished we’d have got her name (I’m terrible for such things). We ate like kings and were treated to the nightly show out the back of the restaurant. They put food out and a family of Possums comes down for their evening meal.

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

They are rather cute in a wide, staring-eyed sort of way and we sat outside in the cold for many minutes watching them – a rare treat

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

The resort organised a free night-walk which was excellent and informative. We caught glimpses of wallabies, bandicoots and frog-mouth birds but alas too dark for photography

Next morning we were up early to see what the area is famous for – Platypus

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

Small, shy and endangered they are the weirdest of creatures. Fur like an otter, tail like a beaver, beak like a duck and a venomous claw on its hind legs. I’m told that when the first stuffed specimen was brought to the UK everyone thought it a hoax. They are actually mammals rather than marsupials although they don’t breast feed their young as such, they secrete milk through the skin and the young drink the milk off the fur. I couldn’t wait to see them

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

We had been told that they were incredibly shy and needed considerable patience to catch a glimpse. We must have been lucky as we saw them pretty much every time we went down to the river. They really are quite wonderful little – things! Cute in their own way and much smaller than you think. We were even lucky enough to see a couple of them engaged in courtship – fighting basically – so pretty much like Hereford on a Saturday night.

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

Considering the photos were taken with a 500mm telephoto lens, handheld, of dark brown creatures, in a dark brown river, in a forest, under a grey sky, in fading light, well I’m quite pleased with the outcome.

To fill our day we packed up a picnic and after being dropped at the trailhead took a long walk along the river through the rainforest. Not a typically tropical rainforest, this one is created by the moist coastal air being pushed upwards by the mountains, condensing into clouds and mist that cloak the forest most of the time. This allows the luxuriant growth of ferns palms and the towering trees.

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

The walk was magnificent with the sights and the sounds of the forest surrounding and enveloping us. We saw all kinds colourful birds but they were too fleeting to photograph or identify. I was keeping a watchful eye for snakes and leeches but were unlucky (or is that lucky).

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

We stopped to admire a stunning deep pool and were rewarded with another glimpse of Platypus. Incidentally the plural of Platypus is Platypus or Platypuses. The tendency to stick an “i” on such words is apparently the height of grammatical laziness!

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

We found a lovely spot down next to the river for our lunch

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

We finally found a place where we could sit right down on the rocks amongst the river itself and spent a happy hour just watching the forest world and river pass us by.

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

We finished off with a stroll around the dramatic and precipitous viewpoints that overlook the Pioneer Valley

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

A final Platypus watching session before dark.

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

This time peace was shattered by an almighty screeching noise. At first I thought it was pigs on the farm next door such was the volume but then I realised it was a huge flock of Cockatoos in the trees. It’s rather surreal to look up and see flocks of these birds that you normally see in bird houses or zoos and yet here they are numerous and flying free – something of a pest in fruit-growing areas we heard. I had no idea that they “flock” (if that’s the right word) in such numbers. The din they make is on account of the one’s in the tree-tops watching and alerting for danger while the others feed and drink by the water

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

There were also Turtles aplenty and in the end I felt a bit sorry for them. Everyone is looking at the Platypus and admiring them. The Turtles swim up close and clamber on logs as if to say “Hey, look at us, we’re interesting as well” but still, attention passes them by and no-one gives them a second glance. Covered in green slimy algae they look a little sad and pathetic. I took some photos and gave them some encouragement. Turtles have feelings too!

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

Yeppoon, Rosslyn Bay, broken river, eungella, platypus, queensland, australia, pioneer valley, possum, cockatoo

After a long day out we returned to our cottage and chilled,  making use of the log burning stove. May as well we thought. Rather too enthusiastically it turns out. I had to open the windows when we got back from eating as the place was like a sauna :)

A short stay but a great one. Memorable for the amazing wildlife but also because it was a complete contrast to everywhere else we went. The rest of the trip was mostly islands and coast so a trip inland gave us some real contrast

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