Sasuke Japanese Dining

Tonight I discovered a neat little Japanese Eatery in Mermaid Waters, on the Gold Coast.  I had just filled my car and as I drove away I saw it’s dimly lit windows staring back at me.  At first I thought it was closed but then I saw movement behind the darkened windows and so stopped and went inside.

The young Japanese hostess was charming and disarming as she explain the various dishes and after tossing between the Teriyaki Karaage and the Teriyaki Chicken Bowl , I chose the latter with an iced tea.

Set on a bed of rice, the chicken was cooked to perfection, topped as it was by a tasty glazed sauce that was both sweet, yet sour at the same time

This has become my new favourite eatery on the Gold Coast and I will be back


Springbrook & Purling Brook Falls

Behind the streets and high rise facades of the Gold Coast, lie a range of hills, valleys, and escarpments that divide the Eastern Seaboard from the Western Plains. It is a different place to the artificial icons found along the southern Queensland shore. You will find none of the theme park playgrounds and man-made canals or traffic-jammed streets here. This is a place of nature. A place where you can wander for hours along steep tracks lined with natural rainforests, see native wildlife in their natural habitat, and bathe in icy cold water holes as the midday sun drives the mercury up the temperature gauge.

From the Gold Coast resorts, it is an easy drive to explore any of the many attractions that can be found there. One such place is Springbrook. One of those towns where, if you blink, you will miss it. So don’t blink.

It was to Springbrook that I decided to go on the weekend that is the subject of this weeks post

Since Cyclone Debbie visited in April 2016 Springbrook has been even more hidden. The main road in has been closed and now one must take the more circuitous route through Advance Town to get there

As with all things adverse, there is a silver lining, as this route takes you past the Heinz Dam and, it was here that I found myself as the sun was going down. After looking about at the base of the dam, I arrived at the top car park just ahead of an officious security guard who “ordered” me off the place as it was closing time. I think he missed the customer relations seminar.

With the dusk closing in, I headed further south until I noticed a side road in the Numinba Valley where I found a quiet cul-d-sac right beside the lake. Another couple was there, enjoying an evening meal, but other than that, I had the place to myself.

Sunset at Numinba Valley where I made camp.

I sorted out the best way to set up the truck and settled in for the night. Being right by the water, the ever-present mosquitos soon made their presence felt, and so I retired behind my mosquito net for an early night.

Nice spot to spend a night in the truck

The following morning, I was up before the sun, hoping for a nice sunrise, but with the surrounding hills, the sun would not show its face until much later in the morning. I was able to get some shots of the early mist on the lake.

Morning Light on the water
Early morning mist rises from the waters of Heinze Dam
My Camping home is the back of my truck. Just enough room to stretch out across the back

The dam was built in 1976 but further upgrades in 1989 and 2011 have raised the height to its current level. The shore where I stayed was bordered with the skeletons of dead trees, drowned with the rising waters of the previous upgrade. While this detracts from the pristine waters that one might expect at such a lake, it is very picturesque because of its brutal starkness.

Skeletons of trees along the edge of the Heinze Dam, drowned after the dam level was raised in 2011

As the sun began to warm the air, I headed off and turned into the road to Springbrook. Although not a bad road to drive, it was steep in places as it climbed the escarpment before descending down the other side into town.

As I said, Springbrook is not a large town, and it was only by accident that I turned into the Main Street where there was little more than a cafe and a post box to mark its importance as the centre of town.

The Springbrook Cafe and Bar. Middle of town

It was a shade after eight thirty and I decided that the cafe would provide coffee and information and was pleased to see the “open” sign out on the street. I wandered along the wide Verandah and tried the first sliding door. It was locked so I wandered further until I found a second door. This time.. sucess. I went inside.

The inside of The Springbrook Cafe & Bar where I waited for my breakfast

The room resembled a small hall, with tables and chairs set about and a serving counter at one end. Along the walls were items of Springbrook memorabilia along with fridges full of drinks, but there was no sign of a waitress, cook or any other human. I selected a bottle of water from the fridge and took it to the counter. To my left was a door that clearly led to the kitchen, and so I stood near it whistling a mundane tune, loudly, to attract some attention. It appeared that there was no attention to be attracted in that kitchen and so, being a patient man, I waited.

After several minutes, a lady arrived at the locked door, presented some keys, and walked inside. She was eying me up as if I was some kind of apparition and asked how I came to be there. I explained about the unlocked door as it became clear to me that the place was not yet actually open, despite what the sign outside might be proclaiming.

Feeling cozy and welcoming, the Springbrook Cafe and Bar is a great place to start out your day on Springbrook Mountain

As for breakfast, I was told that the kitchen didn’t open for some time but was treated to some good information as to how I might spend my day. I also got much of the lowdown on the seedier goings on in town. All a part of the colour that is country living in almost any country in the world.

My hostess turned out to be Gayle Grayson, and she and her husband Peter were the proud owners of the Springbrook Cafe and Bar.

After showing me a coffee table book of photos around Springbrook she let me in on a secret that lived inside the ladies loo. Now, as it was before opening hours, I felt I could follow her into the room, where no gentleman should ever go, in search of the Fat Angel. It appears that she had fallen from grace and had landed, not too glamorously, on the ceiling of the powder room.

I was invited into the “Ladies” to assist in the rescue of the fat fairy who had befallen an accident

Outside, Gayle pointed out all of the options I had for spending a day in Springbrook. The most popular it seemed was the walk down to the Purlingbrook Falls. After posing for me on her trusty cycle, I left Gayle to her day and set out along the road to the car park at the top of the track.

Gayle puts on a show with her trusty bike

Even at that time, the car park was more than half full and there were any number of folk milling around getting ready for the four-kilometer round trip walk. There were backpackers hiking in on foot right through to a busload of tourists up from the coast for the day.

A group of tourists from Korea gets ready to trek down to the falls from the car park at the top of the escarpment

Not knowing what I should expect I packed my photo gear, water, and some food and headed off. The track makes its way along the top of the escarpment for several hundred meters before it begins to descend. There are several lookouts along the edge and a few groups of trekkers were getting selfies of themselves with the amazing view as a backdrop.

A family group showing the relly’s from England, the view from the top of the falls

It is always a shame that whenever there is a photo opportunity, someone in the group has to take the photo. Very few of us will carry a tripod and so there is always one face missing. To this end, I will always offer to take a photo for them so that everyone can all be in the group, and today was no exception. It is also a good chance to meet new people and it is amazing, the places where people are from that you meet along the way.

A group of young tourists from Poland taking a moment for a photo and to enjoy the views from the top of the escarpment before descending the track to the bottom of the falls

To make the descent easier, sets of steps have been placed along the track in the steeper places. Between the sets of steps, the track follows a steady but reasonable slope as it winds down the escarpment to the base of the falls.

The two kilometers went by quickly and soon enough, I came upon the pool that received the waters from above. The first impression that you get as you come along the track is almost surreal. The falls are partially hidden by lush palms and rainforest and all you get is a glimpse of what lies behind. Mixed with the sounds of birdlife and rushing water were the cries of laughter of people already enjoying the pools. The day I was there the flow over the falls themselves was quiet as there has been little rain to feed the streams.

Of stairs, there were many. Over 400 in fact
A lone trekker makes his way down to the Dancing Waters pool at the base of Purlingbrook Falls
Water bounces off the black rocks at the bottom of the falls.
100 meters high and pretty as a picture.

There was quite a crowd there by the time I got there and I spent a few minutes photographing and watching the people do what people do.

Capturing that elusive selfie under the falls at Purling Brook.
Watching the water falling can be a calming way to spend a few moments.
Despite a plea on the sign that folk go on down to the Warringa Pool to swim, many ignore it and swim here anyway. This endangers the delicate balance of nature.

There was a sign describing the significance of the pool, especially to the natural fauna and flora in the area. Tourism places a heavy burden on the natural landscape in places like this and often we forget the damages that we do in our careless pursuit of pleasure. Despite asking that people do not swim here, there were those who chose the path of selfish righteousness and plunged in regardless.

Ignoring the signage is a human thing it seems.

The sign also pointed to a place where swimming was welcome…. Just a kilometer further down the track… I had been speaking with others here who had told me that the walk was well worth the time so I set off down the track.

Warringa Pool

Sure enough, I came upon another pool, this time, filled with people shrieking from the cold. The group from Poland were already there taking advantage of a cool swim in the, now, very warm day.

Pole Jumping…One of the Polish guys takes a leap. He told me that this was quite warm compared to where he came from.
Judging by the look on this woman’s face, the water was a wee bit chilly.

Upstream the creek made its way through rainforest before tumbling over a low waterfall into the pool. The pool was deep enough that you could jump from the rocks above the falls without fear of hitting the bottom. The pool drained out on the other side through large rocks and there was an area where a group of hikers was able to spread out and have a bite before taking a swim.

Taking a rest break, this group of guys who appeared to be from a hiking club took time out for lunch and a swim.

I finally began my trek back, first to the falls and then to tackle the 400 or more steps that lay ahead on the climb back up the escarpment. There were still folk heading down to the pools, even as the heat of the day was reaching its peak. In spite of being in the shade of the rainforest most of the time, the air was hot and I found myself reaching for my water bottle more and more.

The track down to the Dancing Waters pool is steep but picturesque. Often, as it is here, it winds its way between massive boulders.

This track requires a reasonable level of fitness and it is essential to carry plenty of fluids, especially for the trip back up the slope.The information pamphlets suggest that this is a circuit track but Cyclone Debbie has closed off one section and so you must return by the same way that you arrive. It seems that Springbrook is slow to get its recovery effort underway.

The view from the lookout at the edge of the border.

After getting back to the car I decided that I had time for one more experience and so chose to have a look at the Best Of All Lookout. This is found a short drive out of town at the end of Repeater Station Rd. The walk is only 600 meters and the view across the Tweed Valley is astounding, even on a hazy day like this. It lies at a point, almost on the border of NSW and QLD at an altitude of around 1000 meters.

With tired muscles, I eased my body back into my truck and headed back down to the coast to once again take up the day to day life that keeps the wolf from the door.  There are other tracks here that will call me back over the next few weeks while I stay on the Gold Coast.

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Sometimes, when we look through an old album of faded photographs, there is one that stands out from the others.  We don’t always know the reason… but there is something in it that catches the eye.  This week’s photo could be such an example, except that it was taken on a grey day, only three months ago, on a trip south through The Broadwater in Northern New South Wales. As I drove along the river’s edge I was taken by the serenity of the scene and felt compelled to turn back and try to capture the mood.  The road, narrow and busy, forced me to drive some distance before I found a side road where I could make the turn.

A grey day on the river at Broadwater in NSW

The day was so dull and grey that it has made the photo almost seem like a Black and White even though it was taken in full RAW colour.  Post processing has been minimal as everything I tried to do to make it less dreary seem to spoil the effect.

As in all things in the photographic world, the image is only appreciated at the wit of the observer and each of us will have his or her own take on what they think of it. Some one once coined the phrase about the eye of the beholder and  me…..  well, I kind of like it….. I’d love to get some feed back as to what you, the critic, feel about it…. Good or bad, there is no wrong answer, so please leave a comment below…