Myall Lakes

It’s strange how we can travel a stretch of highway time and again, yet so often miss hideaways that sit just off the main roads as we hurry from one city to another.  For me, that stretch of road was on the Pacific Hiway between Sydney and Brisbane. I have travelled that road several times, but never had the chance to drop in on the beaches and bays along the way.

I had heard about a place called Bluey’s Beach, just north of Newcastle, and on my previous attempt to stop here, my travelling companion, a massive storm, forced me to keep on driving.  I now had an opportunity to take a more liesurely drive down to Sydney to deliver a car to my son.  I took a week off work and slowly made my way south.

While I had covered this distance often in a semi-trailer on an overnight run, because there were a few things I needed to fit in and it was two days before, just after dark, I drove into the little village of Tuncurry looking for a motel to stay the night.  I checked out a couple in Tuncurry and over the bridge in the twin town of Forster before continuing on down to Bluey’s Beach, some twenty kilometres south.  Here, Vodafone fails badly, and so having some internet work to do I was forced back to Tuncurry and settled on the first place I had looked at.  It was a small motel with small rooms, but big enough for me to spend the night and was well priced for a short stay.

An early morning Fisherman heads out for a day on the water
Boats moored along the edge of the river at Tuncurry
The waters edge at Tuncurry is a maize of pipes and piles where fisherman have set up business

After an early start I made my way down by the river where the early folk were going about their morning routines.  The council workers were busy cleaning and clearing after the people who has spent the last evening in the park.  There were joggers and walkers and those who just seemed out for a stroll.  The river was pristine and sparkled under the rays of the early morning sun. All in all, it was a pleasant atmosphere.

Cleaning the Barbeque
A council worker clears away the rubbish left behind by those who didn’t care
A young woman takes a brisk walk along the river path at Tuncurry

I decided a nice breakfast in the sun was in order and I crossed the bridge into Forster to hunt down a cafe in the main street.  The town centre is reached by doing a U-Turn at the first round-a-bout and then slipping down a narrow street on the left.  The street is one way with shops and cafes spilling out onto the footpath, bathing the scene with a friendly ambiance.

The Bridge between Tuncurry and Forster NSW

At this time of the morning, the narrow street was shaded and it was impossible to find a table in the sun.  I selected a cafe and settled down to choose my order.  Coffee was a given but the food selection did little for my appetite.  I finally chose pancakes and was soon served up a lovely looking dish.

Downtown Forster waits for the sun to warm the sidewalk where I got my breakfast

Sadly, that was the best it got. The first taste was dry and super sweet.  Even the syrup did little to moisten the pancake mix but I struggled through wishing I’d stayed with my usual mundane poached eggs on toast.  The coffee was nice tho, so all was not lost

While it looked tasty, even the sweet syrup couldn’t moisten the pancake dough

With no plans for the day, other than to make my way south towards Bluey’s Beach and I wandered out behind the shopping strip to where the river made its way out to the ocean.  What a tranquil scene….. the breeze, just barely kissing the water, smudged the reflections and shadows under an impossibly blue winter sky.  Such a pretty scene hidden away where so few would ever see it.

Hidden behind the strip of shops in downtown Forster lies a pristine river view

Back on the strip I checked out the shops, many of which were just opening their doors for the day’s trading.  There were stands to be wheeled onto the footpath and cobbles to be swept.  It was here I ran into a reluctant stranger.  You may recall my “100 Strangers” project where I am making a point of meeting strangers from all walks of life and writing a small piece on who they are. Well “Tracy” was my first stranger on this day.  We chatted a while and I explained my quest.  It was then that she became shy and asked to remain anonemous.  While this gave her an aura of mystery, I believe it disqualified her from the project.  We agreed on a fictitious name of Tracy and she happily allowed me to shoot a few photos of her going about the morning chores.

Tracy, A Reluctant Stranger

From Downtown Forster I headed up to the Forster Town Beach.  This beautiful stretch of sand ran out beneath the seawall towards the headland from the cafe and surf club at the northern end.  I was beginning to rue the choices I had made for my breakfast after seeing the fare available here and the veiw from the tables..  I stood and watched people being people while a whale watching boat, loaded with eager nature lovers headed out to sea in search of that plume of spray as a whale breached and gasped a breath of air.

Folk play on Town Beach as a whale watching launch heads out to get close up and personal with the passing parade of whales
The Town Beach at Forster set behind the Seawall with a sea water pool against the headland
The Cafe at Town Beach was a popular breakfast spot

 

Morning strollers along the board walk at Town Beach

My meanderings took me south to Second Head where a rocky shore mixed with the sands across the wide bay.  Standup Paddle Boarders made their way out past the out crops, maybe searching for their own inshore whale. A broad pathway wound its way along the forshore and there were more than a few out taking in the morning air.

A pair of paddle boarders make their way out to the waves off Second Head Reserve

The rocks along the bay had an almost tesselated structure, as if they had been stacked in rows, one apon another where sea birds rested and preened their feathers in the cool morning breeze.

A Cormorant takes a rest from feeding on the tessellated rocks at Second Head Reserve

The next stop at Bicentennial Park reunited me with the whale watchers, albiet these were onshore spotters who seek the elusive spray plumes through powerful binoculars before radioing the boat with directions to get them close. I wonder how long it will be before these jobs are taken over by the drones that are beginning to fill the skys these days

Spotting whales for the whale watch boats

From the road to the shore, there are boardwalks that take you through woody scrub where the air is filled with bird song and if if you are lucky you may catch a glimpse of a robin or wren.

A solitary Robin pauses on the railing , before darting off into the bush in search of breakfast
Like a giant waterfall of sand this Dune is a popular spot for beach goers around Forster In NSW

One of the sites of this area is the Dune.  This massive wall of sand, falls to the sea much like a flowing waterfall, and indeed, more than a few surf this wave on boogie boards or simply just roll their way to the bottom.

The Tower Look out gave a great view of the whole coastline

At ElizabethBeach, a short but steep walk took me to the look out at the top of the headland.  Here a two storied structure provides a grand view from way north to way south.  From here the size of the dune is given its true perspective.

The size of the Dune is clearly seen from the lookout

I passed by some of the bays as the days was getting late and soon found myself on Bluey’s.  By now the wind had freshened and the onshore breeze was bringing in some larger swells from the Pacific Ocean.  There were rock buttresses here that stood firm against the waves as the tossed their spray in frustration at not being able to drive on inshore. High on the headland the tall tower of a lighthouse at Seal Rocks stood proud against the sky line.

Waves battering the rocks along the shore at Bluey’s Beach
Frothy Coffee at the boathouse on Smiths Lake

From Buey’s Beach, it is necessary to head inland around Smith’s Lake and, craving a coffee as I sometimes do, I followed a sign to Frothy Coffee on the waters edge across the bay from the Sandbar.  This hard to find gem was well worth the wrong turns I took on my way.  Broken signage provided ambiguos directions as I navigated my way through suburbia until, quite unexpectedly, I came upon a blue shed set right on the edge of the lake.  The deck was built out over the water and it was a very pleasant hour spent sipping coffee and watching the occaisional fisherman as they cruised passed on the lake.  Across the water you can see the sandbar which, is a narrow strip of sand that cuts Smiths Lake off from the sea.

A Narrow strip of sand is all that stops the waters from Smith’s Lake from joining the sea. It is just visible from the deck at Frothy Coffee
Smiths Lakefront at Frothy Coffee

From Smiths Lake I headed further south to Seal Rocks where I found a set of rocks that may well have given this place its name

Where the bay gets it’s name, I assume
The afternoon sun baths the lighthouse at Seal Rocks with a warm glow

I followed Kinka Road, past Boat Beach, to it’s end where I took to walking up the path towards the lighthouse I had seen earlier in the day from Bluey’s Beach.  The path was wide and for a time I wondered if I was headed the right way as the direction I was headed seemed to have the lighthouse over my left shoulder and falling away behind me.  Slowly the track began to swing around and soon enough the lighthouse was dead ahead again.  I was hurrying now as the signage had said the grounds closed at sunset, and the sun was getting perilously close to the horison behind me.

I passed a bunch of sugar loaf rocks, seperated from each other by deep and narrow cuttings that had been weathered away by the sea over the ages.  Behind me the sun began to burn the horison as it dipped ever so slowly towards night.  I hurried on and arrived at the precinct with the shadows casting long and low, but the lighthouse, sitting atop the headland, was still bathed in the soft evening light.  Ahead of me was a steep path with a few steps to ease the way.  It was a breathless climb. With time running out, I was determined to get some sunsets shots before they closed the facility.

The steep path that leads to the Lighthouse

I stayed at the top, watching the light slowly fade as the sun cast it’s final rays of the day across the land.  I was joined by a group of backpackers who climbed the stairs around the lighthouse tower to get a better view.  Finally, the light gave way to darkness and we all trooped back down to the buildings below.

The old keepers quarters have been renovated to be able to take overnight tourists.  My back packing companions, it seemed, would be staying here this night and so I set off along the dark pathway, retracing my steps to my car.

The old Keepers accomodation has been renovated into motel rooms for overnight stays
The sun below the horizon seems to set the clouds on fire as the day slowly turns into night

It had been a long day and I made my way back out to the main road to look for a place to rest my head for the night.  The next day would take me into Sydney where I would meet up with my son and deliver his car before flying back to the Sunshine Coast and the grindstone that earns my daily bread…Ah well….

 

 

 

A little something I wrote for the festive season with some random photos from the year

Merry Christmas to you..and I’m sorry it’s late

But at last I have finally caught up with this date

It is not something huge, for me in my life

]With family scattered and not having a wife

Fishing off one of the jettys along the Noosa River

I started with coffee at breaking of dawn

Getting news for my blog on this year’s Christmas morn

I was up on the river just near Noosa Sound

Just to drink Old Salt Coffee with rain tumbling down

Rhian and Rhiana creating coffee for the hoards Christmas morning

Then later I took a phone call from son one

Seems he’d had a big night and his head was undone

Some news of concern at the place he did stay

Super typhoon Nock-ten would be landing that day

Aline carefull descends the cliff face at Mt Tinbeerwha during her abseiling course with The Outdoor Education Consultants

Then later a call  this time son number two

And we chatted of things in his life that were new

Then a friend not believing I am happy just me

Insisted that I go around there for tea

Well formed steps help the traveller along the way

Alas there was eating…  ham, jellies and such

By the end of it all I had ate much too much

After Family Feud and then Pictionary

I headed on home and sleep overcame me

Blue Dragonfly on my walk near Kondilla Falls

So that was my Christmas, but what of your own?

Was it big celebrations? Another year flown?

Did you spend the day cooking, preparing the food

Or was it a day spent in lazier mood.

Coolum Hotel, Good Music and Nadia Colbourn

Or maybe some time you spent walking the beach

Your phone in your hand and your arm you’d out reached

To take just one selfie, your record of fame

So in years to come you can think “Oh how lame!”.

A kayak and a paddle board went for a morning swim

And so as I said in my opening line

I wish you good Christmas and good happy times

And as good that in two oh one six it has been

I wish you the best in two oh seventeen 

A Room With A View…. Maroochy River

One Of The Great Australian Walks… Kondalilla Falls National Park

Park Track entranceIn the hinterland behind the Sunshine Coast lies a range of mountains….. Well, hills really, called the Blackall Ranges.  They run from South to North and are dotted with some great walks of all grades.

Today I walked the Kondalilla Falls Circuit track from the top to the bottom and back.  These falls are a part of the Kondalilla National Park and form a part of the Great Australian Walking tracks.

The carpark is really just a large cul-d-sac at the end of the street and from there, one heads down to a grassy area dotted with barbecue facilities and table/chair benches.  There are also toilet facilities here which it is wise to take advantage of as there are non further down.

Bridge Over No WaterFrom the bottom of this area a sealed track take you down a few hundred metres to a small bridge.  This is wheelchair friendly but the bridge is as far as you go.  There are stairs at the other side which would make it difficult

 

 

 

 

 

Here there is a fork in the path.  The left leads down to the top of the falls and is perhaps the easier track to take.  It is also a part of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Walk track. The right fork, a part of Kondalilla Falls Circuit, also leads to the falls but is perhaps a steeper path, although easy enough to traverse.

The TrackI took the right fork, and would recommend this, as the return journey is easier if you come back the other way.  The track wanders through rain forest and you will see Piccabeen Palms and Bunya Pines growing along the way.  You may also see some examples of Pink Ash trees which grow in some interesting shapes.

There are some spectacular views all along the track down to the falls
There are some spectacular views all along the track down to the falls
This couple take a moment to rest on one of the many benches along the track. This one is set at the top of the steepest part of the track when headingback to the carpark
This couple take a moment to rest on one of the many benches along the track. This one is set at the top of the steepest part of the track when heading back to the carpark

Just above the top of the falls, these two tracks merge before you head down a series of steps to come out at the top of the falls.  Here I met a couple who were resting after the long slog back up the side of the hill from the falls.  We chatted for a while about the effects of climate change on the forest before we each continued our respective journeys

The PoolAt the bottom of the next section is the top of the falls and there is a popular swimming hole, just before the water tumbles over the cliff.  There is space here to eat a picnic lunch or relax in the sun on the flat rocks around the pool.

The Road To The BottomFor many, this is the end of the trail but I headed down the side of the cliff face following the well formed Sunshine Coast Hinterland Walk track to the bottom..  Along the way there is a look out where you can see the whole of the falls although on this day, after a long dry spell, there was no water to be seen tumbling down the cliff face.

The Falls

_-2Peaceful TranquilityAt the bottom, the creek bed is strewn with huge boulders and here and there are small rock pools which are home to the beautiful dragonflies that hunt here.Poise

Fellow Travellers
Fellow travellers cross a bridge just below where I was photographing the dragonflies

Heading on I came to another fork.  It is here that the Kondalilla Circuit branches off and returns via an easier grade to the top of the falls.  There is a saying that what goes up, must come down.  In the this case the reverse applied and, having made my way all the way down from the car park, I now had the climb back up to the top.

The track forks off towards Baroon Pocket Dam to the right. The left path takes you back to the falls
The track forks off towards Baroon Pocket Dam to the right. The left path takes you back to the falls

The route is around 4.7 kms and doing it the way I did, the return journey was just a little easier.  Even so it pays to carry plenty of water as the hard bit is at the end.  I had two water bottles and had just opened my second when I started my climb.  It slipped from my hand and split open on a rock and I watched as it all soaked away into the dry soil.

This massive tree has come down across the track enforcing a climb over the roots to gt back to the track
This massive tree has come down across the track enforcing a climb over the roots to get back to the track

Heaven Set

Giving Ground

A Forest View
There are some stunning views from all along the track
The Pool Again
Back at the pool at the top of the Falls
Well formed steps help the traveller along the way
Well formed steps help the traveller along the way

From the top of the falls there is a section of over 100 stairs and this is perhaps the most punishing part of the trek.  Without water, I was in trouble by the time I reached the top and was thankful that the path had levelled out somewhat for the walk back to the bar-b-que area.  The real kicker for me was the short walk from there to the car park.  I was dehydrated badly and the track seemed almost too steep to tackle.

 

 

A Long way to the End
This massive tree had fallen across the track, The track had been cleared but this trunk is left to nature to return to the soil over time

 

Board Walk
Boardwalks along the way make the track an easier traverse

 

A short drive down the road to Mapleton and I thankfully pulled in to a service station to top up my water levels, the first bottle barely touching the sides as it went down

All said and done, it was a great walk and I recommend it to anyone with an afternoon on their hands and wondering what to do with it.  Just head up the Blackall Range from Nambour or Landsborough and you will find the turn off at Flaxton.

 

A Travel Destination At My Back Door

With spring well and truly settled in here in the Southern part of the world, the days are getting warmer and the sun is in the sky longer.  Today I headed north from Maroochydore on the Sunshine Motorway.  The plan was to pick up a friend from Perigean Springs and take a hike in the Noosa National Park.

The park lies between Noosa Beach and Coolum and is divided into sections along the coast.  The section we were visiting today was the Noosa Headland Section which has a web of walking tracks running through and around it making it suitable for almost anyone to access.

As with most National Parks one can find a diverse range of wildlife and plants here.  The list includes  the koala, a ground parrot, the wallum froglet and glossy black-cockatoo.  I have seen Echidnas wandering the tracks here as evening falls as well.

noosa-national-park-walking-tracks
Courtesy QLD NAT PARKS

The Coastal track is a little over 5 kilometers and takes roughly two hours walking at a steady pace.  The tracks are well signed and often cross each other so it pays to take note of which one you are on.

The Coastal track runs from Sunshine Beach in the south, around the headland in finishes at Noosa Beach.  Parking is easier at the Sunshine Beach end as there are several jumping off points whereas, at the Noosa end, the track starts at the day use area and there is very limited parking.  There used to be a bus service from Noosa Beach to the day use area but that has been discontinued and once the small parking area is full it means a 700-metre walk in from the beach.

We opted for the Sunshine Beach end and parked at the end of Surf Street before taking Track 5 (Blue on the Map) which would bring us out on the beach at Alexandria Bay.  This beach is more commonly known among the locals as A Bay and has gained some notoriety as a clothing optional beach.

The day was fine and hot and so we made sure we had hats and a good supply of drinking water. Good walking shoes are also recommended as parts of the track can be a little rough underfoot.

An hours walk from the nearest car park ensures this pristine beach is free from the crowds.
Alexandria Bay.  Just an hours walk from the nearest car park, this pristine beach is free from the crowds.

When we actually arrived at the beach it was quite deserted with only a few folk strolling along and the odd sunbather in the dunes.  I guess it is rather isolated from the rest of the world with a one hour walk in from either end,  there are plenty of beaches that are far easier to spend the day at.

Steep steps lead off the northern end of the beach as we headed up to the actual Headland.  Here there are magnificent views of the coast and over the park itself.

From the Noosa Headland back to Sunshine Beach A Bay is a desrted paradise.
Looking back from the Hell’s Gate back to Sunshine Beach, A Bay is a deserted paradise.

As we approached Hells Gate, a group of young women was sitting on a rock resting and my friend, Peter, suggested that I might like to take a photo of A Bay beach, indicating that the rock would form the foreground to the photo.  He laughingly offered to be in the photo as a focus point.

Pete opened his mouth and offered to be a part of the pictuer with these four lasses from Switzerland. Was shocked when I took him up on the offer and put it to the girls...
Pete opened his mouth and offered to be a part of the picture with these four lasses from Switzerland. Was shocked when I took him up on the offer and put it to the girls…

It was a lovely setting and so, to his horror, I asked the girls if they would mind indulging Peter’s whim.  After some moments of confusion because of a language difference, Peter duly settled himself in amongst the bevy of beauties.  A veritable thorn in the rose bush if ever there was one.

The four girls came from Switzerland and were studying here before heading off to see more of the country.

The rocky headland at Alexandra Bay.
The rocky headland at Alexandria Bay.

The headland is called Hells Gate as there is a deep cutting that channels the sea making a cauldron during rough weather. A similar outcrop at the other end of A Bay is called Devils Kitchen. From here, and indeed all along the higher points on the track, one can often spot a whale or two as they head to and fro between their winter and summer ranges.  Today was not one of those days unfortunately however, we did see a lot of coral spores that had been blown down from the huge coral reefs to the north.

Coral Spore drifts before the wind along the headland
Coral Spore drifts before the wind along the headland

A Bay is around the halfway point and so we headed on around the shoreline checking out the view from the various bays along the way.  There are lookout points at Dolphin Point at the end of Granite Bay and then again at Boiling Pot just beyond Tea Tree Bay.

Halfway between Noosa Heads and A Bay lies Granite Bay. Popular with surfers catching waves from the point
Halfway between Noosa Heads and A Bay lies Granite Bay. Popular with surfers catching waves from the point

Tea tree Bay is a popular spot and is at the end of the paved track that allows pushchair and wheelchair access to the park.  Koalas can often be seen in the trees although again, it was not to be for us this day.

The path along the seafront cters for wlkers, runners and cyclists. There are plenty of places where you can rest and take in the expansive views as in this lookout just east of Granite Bay
The path along the seafront caters for walkers, runners, and cyclists. There are plenty of places where you can rest and take in the expansive views as in this lookout just east of Granite Bay

There are some extraordinary views to be had all along the track with stunning sea views going back into the hinterland behind the coast.

Apaddleboarder waits for a wave to take him back to Noosa Beach
A paddle boarder waits for a wave to take him back to Noosa Beach

We finally made it back to civilization and Peter treated me to a burger and beer from Betty’s Burgers and Concrete which is just over the road from the surf club at Noosa Beach. This had to be one of the best burgers I have had in a very long while.

After the burger and feeling well satisfied we caught a bus back to Sunshine to pick up the car and head home.  A great day’s traveling right here in my own back yard