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….

 

 

 

Ocean Street’s World Festival

 

 

 

Ocean Street in Maroochydore, on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, is no stranger to hosting street parties and Easter Sunday 2017 was a street party of epic proportion.

And so, I took myself down to see what all the fuss was about.  Parking was almost non-existent but I did manage to score a slot when someone pulled away just in front of me.  Even so, I still had a walk of a couple of blocks before I reached the site.

Daye, Seug, Haetnim, SunHo, and Choi from Korea take a few moments by Cornmeal Creek before heading to the Ocean Street World Festival

Down along beside the Cornmeal Creek I ran into a bunch of young Koreans who were taking a time out and enjoying the day.  They decided to ham it up for the camera and so will send them this shot as a moment of their day here in Maroochydore.

 

What is now an annual even, hosted by the Maroochydore Revitalisation Council, the festival is a celebration of culture from all parts of the world. This year there were artists from Japan, Budapest, Jamaica, as well as many other countries.

This marquee was packed as folk watched a display of ethnic dance

They presented their own particular brands of art and workshops across four different stages, scattered among the myriad of stalls, that had sprung up along the closed off street providing entertainment to the forty thousand odd folk who came to spend an evening travelling the world.

Preparing burgers for a hungry crowd didn’t stop this vendor from flashing a smile for the camera.

Food was a big feature of the street with street stalls dispensing everything from prawns to curry and rice along with the traditional and not so traditional burgers and fries. With queues lining up to satisfy their hunger, the stall owners had more than their hands full just keeping up with the demand.

Keeping up with the demand for Satay Sticks was a never ending task for these guys on one of the many Food stalls at the festival

While the flavour of the festival was whole world, there were many local businesses displaying their unique products.

Dale helps out on the Planet Macadamia Stand serving up a range of roasted nuts coated in sugar and cinnamon

I stopped off at Planet Macadamia to sample some of their roasted nuts.  These are roasted and then coated with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon and they were absolutely delicious.  One could buy a small bag for just $9.oo or double the size for only $3.00 more.

Ester works a design on one of her customers at the festival

Nicki and Arnaud Coquillard set up their Devine Henna Design stand and when I came along, Ester Bodnar was painting an intricate tattoo onto the hand of one of her customers. With care these designs can be quite durable, reaching their best after just two days.

Ester from Divine Henna design paints an intricate design for one of her many customers.
Jed and his lady at Bunked Clothing took a moment to tell me about his range of bamboo cotton clothing.

One stall that caught my eye was Bunked Clothing.  Owner, Jed, was on hand to tell me about the unique properties of Bamboo Cotton.  Needing less water than cotton and being far more pest resistant, bamboo cotton leaves a minimal environmental impact on the planet.  All Bunked products are produced here in Australia and each design is limited to only 100 garments This means that there is only a limited chance you will turn up at a function and see your arch rival in the same outfit.

Along with his line of Bamboo Cotton clothing, Jed was selling this range of Caffeine scrubs for a mate

Jed also had on his stand, a different sort of cleansing product. He told me he was selling this on behalf of a mate.  Bayberrie Caffinne Scrubs are a coffee and citrus scrub which, only adds to my conviction that coffee is good for you.

 

This headgear has a wire through it so that one can create all sorts of ways to wear them.

 

Another local vendor, Anti Craft, sold hand made headwear that looked similar to a bandana but by the clever use of a piece of wire was able to be fashioned into any number of styles.

Kim demonstrates the way to tie these nifty headbands infused with a wire to make holding them in place a synch

 

 

Kim took some time out to explain the workings of the gear and demonstrated a couple of twists that gave the gear totally different looks

 

 

 

 

 

 

A pair of gypsies

The Gypsy Collective had a successful day with their stall selling all things of fine design.  Here one could purchase the brick a brac that goes to making a house a home. From artwork to wall hangings, photographs to homewares and jewellery, there was something that could tempt everyone.  The online shop has the full range for those who missed out

After a great days selling the Gypsy Collective stall was getting low on stock

After wandering through the stalls, watching the shows and sampling the food I felt that I have travelled well that day.  It was another example of the talent and entertainment that is available on the Sunshine Coast.  If you plan an Easter Holiday here, then the Ocean Street World Festival would be a fine addition to your bucket list.

The Rocks Of Sydney

One of the oldest places you’ll find in Sydney is The Rocks, situated almost beneath the Sydney harbour. It is a warren of streets and alleys that border the old warehouses near Circular Key. While much of it has been modernised there is still an old world charm about the place and it is easy to imagine the folks of early Sydney going about their daily business.

I decided to spend some time looking around and my first stop was in the park by the ferry terminal. Here crowds wandered along, many checking out the huge cruise ship that was tied up at the terminal. Signs alluded to an afternoon departure and many of the crowd towed wheeled suitcases as they made their way to the customs checkpoint.

I spotted an elderly gent sitting doing a crosword. The lines of age told a story of character but I didn’t realise when I took the photo that this was Mr Graham Courtney. I discovered, after talking with another busker, that Mr Courtney could be found doing gigs almost every day along the promenade and had been for years. The fact that he is an octogenarian seemed to slow him down not a bit.

What Chord Am I

Along the concourse folk took a few moments to stand and watch the buskers who entertained for whatever donations they were able to encourage from the pockets of the punters. I was intrigued with a suitcase that was sitting unattended on the sidewalk. Not a suspicious item in an obvious way but intriguing because it was set up as a makeshift drum. A young lady sitting nearby told me that her boyfriend was the owner and sure enough a young chap approached and began to tune up his guitar ready for a new set.

 

Sounds Of OperaWhen I asked his girlfriend, Carolin, if he was any good, she replied that he had an unusual style but that, yes, in her opinion, he was very good. I decided to stay and asked if I could take some photos for my blog. Unfortunately, I only had a few spare coin in my wallet as I don’t tend to carry cash at all, but I emptied them out for the privilege of taking a photo.

 

Followers.jpg

We started to talk about the way people disrespect the buskers on the street by taking a photo on their ever handy phone camera without ever bothering to contribute to the entertainment being given by the busker. To me, this is the height of rudeness. These people, would think nothing of spending eighty or more dollars to go to a gig by a famous band, when the gig is right there in front of them.

 

 

Different-Drum.jpg

As it turned out, Jack Dawson was incredibly good. His style was different but the sound addictive. Sitting, as he was, on the old suitcase, thumping out percussion in time to the rhythm of the guitar he soon drew quite a crowd. Jack does a lot of original songs and his CD was available for purchase as well as information to purchase on line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thoroughly recommend this too you if you get a chance to listen
Find him on FaceBook at www.facebook.com/JackDawsonMusic/ or online a JackDawsonMusic.com.

From here I wandered further along the concourse and came across another crowd of people taking in yet another display of street talent. This time it was Emma Mohsen, a contortionist with a bit of humour. I first saw her in a very compromised position with Col from London who was lifting her up while she held her legs firmly wrapped around behind her neck

Strange Contortions
Emma Mohseni contortioist with Cole from London
Impossible It Seems
Emma , Col and Sam About to do the impossible

For her next trick, she called on Sam from Sydney to assist. She brought out a narrow frame with a very small glass box at the top. She explained that she intended to fold her body inside and shut the door. After some instructions to her volunteer crew she climbed on the back of Sam and proceeded to do exactly what she had said she would.

In no time she was firmly locked inside the glass structure still exhorting all and sundry to add to her donation box.

Emma has curled herself into an imposibly small glass boxIn no time she was firmly locked inside the glass structure still exhorting all and sundry to add to her donation box.

Moving on passed the wharf I came to the base of  the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  This icon of Sydney was opened way back in 1932 and is the sixth longest arch bridge in the world.  At its highest point it is 134 metres and until as late as 2012 was the widest long-spanning bridge in the world.

Poser
Ehsan and Rashid from Iran take a moment to pose in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

This is a place where tourist from all corners of the world stop to take a memory of their time in Sydney.   Ehsan and Rashid from Iran were two such people and I stopped to chat a moment and take a photo on their own camera so that they could both be in it together.

One of the things about travelling is that one can rarely get a photo of everyone in the party without resorting to the dreaded selfie. Offering to take the photo is a great way to strike up a conversation and get to know more about the fellow travellers we share this world with.

 

 

 

 

 

The Opera HouseFrom From here the other icon that sits beside Sydney Cove, The Sydney Opera House can be seen across the water.  The angle here gives one a good view of the famous sails that make up its profile

Factory Walls
The old faceless buildings that were once the warehouses at the Rocks in downtown Sydney still stand strong after almost two centuries

PancakesThe Rocks is as old as Sydney itself, established at the time of the first European settlement. Prior to this was Tallawoladah and the home of the Cadigal people. From the outset of European influence it gained a reputation as a slum and was frequented by convicts and prostitutes pretty much until the 1870’s

Sandstone Walls
The sandstone blocks that were used to build the warehouses and shops at The Rocks are still standing today

The buildings were made of Sandstone and that influence is still apparent to this day.  The style of architecture was fairly drab.  Tall straight and as featureless as a row of factories, they dominated the narrow alleys that criss-crossed the town.High Walls

Tall Sheds, Narrow Alleys

Today, the Rocks has been reinvented as a tourist mecca with the obligatory market stalls that can be found both inside the sandstone buildings as well as under marques along the narrow streets.  Selling all the usual fare that markets the world over do along with a share of Australiana to provide the tourists with a suitable memento of there journeysThe MarketMarket Sails

 

And so my wanderings through the tourist mecca of Sydney came to an end and I attempted to find a bus that would take me to Glebe where I was to meet up with a friend.  Not such an easy task and I soon decided that I would be far quicker to catch an Uber Car which, as has been my experience so far arrived in but a couple of minutes and I was soon on my way. Jack, my driver, had a great chat as we crossed the few kilometres to my destination.  Still new to the job, he had a good knowledge of the city and with his pleasant personality I am sure he will do well in the job.  The car was immaculate and at the end of the ride, Jack took some time to help me find the best place to set down, seeing I was a little unsure of my bearings.  Thank you Jack..

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