Crossing the Bay

A new adventure begins! We fly to Melbourne where we spend a couple of days before embarking on the cruise ship Grand Princess for a 13 night circumnavigation of New Zealand. Returning to land, our holiday continues at Phillip Island and ends with one last day back where we started in Melbourne. Join me for a round trip, on sea and on land, to destinations both new and familiar.

March 2023

Port Phillip

In November 2022 we spent a few days exploring Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. This narrow strip of land, at its widest just 20 kilometres across, is surrounded by water on three sides – Western Port to the east, Bass Strait to the south and, on the west, the huge expanse of Port Phillip.

The largest bay in Victoria, Port Phillip covers an area of 1930 square kilometres. It may be large but it’s also very shallow, with half being less than eight metres deep. Opposite Mornington Peninsula is the Bellarine Peninsula, its coast just visible on the horizon.

While its 264 kilometre coastline is dominated by the cities of Melbourne and Geelong, there are several pretty seaside towns around the bay. We stayed at the peninsula’s largest town Mornington where the views of the bay were superb, especially at sunset.

The two peninsulas end at Point Nepean on the east and Point Lonsdale on the west. The 3.5 kilometre gap between the points, called The Rip, forms the only entrance to Port Phillip. One day we drove out to Point Nepean National Park and hiked to the end of Point Nepean.

We watched in fascination as large vessels negotiated the tricky waterway, guided by experienced Port Phillip Maritime Pilots.

In March this year, it was our turn to sail across Port Phillip on the cruise ship Grand Princess. We said farewell to Melbourne and left Station Pier at 5 p.m. before sailing in a south-eastly direction alongside Mornington Peninsula.

It took almost three hours before we arrived at The Rip. After seeing this narrow entrance from land, it was fascinating to be on the water as we sailed through between Point Lonsdale and Point Nepean.

We could even see where we had stood watching the container ships pass by.

Due to large variations in depth and tides, the Rip is notoriously dangerous. As we left the sheltered waters of Port Phillip and entered Bass Strait, the ocean changed almost immediately and we were glad to know there was a skilled pilot on board.

We took a south-easterly course across Bass Strait towards Tasmania as the sun set behind us. It was time to settle in and enjoy our sea days on the way to New Zealand.

With this last ocean sunset photo, I’m joining Denzil for his Nature Photo Challenge #11: Yellow

Do Quokkas Go Out in the Rain?

Come with me on a train ride. We’ll travel 4,352 kilometres across Australia from east to west, spending four days and three nights on a train 731 metres long. We’ll start in Sydney and stay in Perth at the end and along the way we’ll traverse deserts, stop in a ghost town and cross the mighty Nullarbor Plain. Come with me on a transcontinental journey aboard the iconic Indian Pacific! 

Indian Pacific Adventure #15 Rottnest Island

In 1696, Dutch sea captain Willem de Vlamingh landed on a small island off the coast of Western Australia. The only residents he found were furry animals he mistook for giant rats so he named the island ‘t Eylandt ‘t Rottenest (The Rats’ Nest Island). de Vlamingh described the island as “pleasurable above all islands” and “a paradise on earth”. He must have had better weather than we did – we went to Rottnest in the pouring rain!

Our day trip to Rottnest Island had been pre-booked as part of our holiday package so we had to go that day. We just hoped that the island’s famous residents, the quokkas Willem de Vlamingh thought were rats, didn’t mind the weather.

Our first activity was a minibus tour around the island. Although the scenery was beautiful, the rain meant we didn’t stay long off the bus. And, even though the driver kept a lookout along the way, we saw no quokkas.

After our soggy bus ride we walked to the shopping area at the Thomson Bay Settlement and, to our delight, there were quokkas everywhere! It’s forbidden to approach, feed or touch these native Australian marsupials but they’re used to people and were happy to pose for photos.

Even though their thick fur looked quite bedraggled, they seemed oblivious to the rain.

By mid-afternoon the downpour had cleared, so we explored the settlement. No one lives permanently on the island and most of the historic buildings are now used for holiday accommodation.

We even went for a short walk on the beach.

The quokkas enjoyed the break in the weather too.

Joining Becky for November Walking Squares

Gold and Silver

Queensland Road Trip, May 2022

Let’s go on a road trip! Come with us to Townsville and west on the Savannah Way to Karumba on an adventure in far north Queensland.   

Welcome to Karumba! 

Located at the mouth of the Norman River, Karumba is famous for fishing and sunsets. While we were there, the sunsets lived up to their reputation and we got up close to every fisherman’s dream catch, the barramundi. 

We stayed out of town at Karumba Point, where the Norman River flows into the Gulf of Carpentaria. The beach where the river meets the sea is a popular spot for those hoping to catch a barra or a king salmon.

Salt water crocodiles also favour this area. We didn’t see any but we heard stories in town about a very large croc who had recently been coming closer than he should. 

Karumba is one of just a few places in Queensland where the sun sets over the ocean so, on our first night, we joined the crowd on the beach. Staying well away from the water’s edge in case that crocodile was lurking, we watched as the setting sun burnished the sky.

The golden glow lingered long after the sun had slipped below the horizon.

The next morning we learned about Karumba’s other claim to fame, at the Les Wilson Barramundi Discovery Centre. Originally established as a venture to restock the waterways around Karumba with barramundi fingerlings, the centre now houses an interactive educational display focussing on the barramundi and its environment. 

Entry to the centre is free but we chose to buy tickets for a behind the scenes tour of the barramundi hatchery. We learned how the breeding stock is kept strong and healthy, and followed the process from gathering fertilised spawn to caring for fingerlings before releasing them into the waterways around Karumba and elsewhere in northern Queensland.

We also had the chance to hand feed the huge silver fish. Glen found out that big fish make a big splash when they’re focussed on snatching their dinner. 

In the afternoon we joined a Ferryman Gulf Sunset and Wildlife Cruise to see Karumba from a different perspective. First we sailed upriver towards the town, passing buildings constructed as part of northern Australia’s defence system during World War Two.  

At the wharf a ship was preparing to carry freight to islands in the Gulf.

Further along lay an another boat, long ago abandoned to the elements.

White egrets perched on overhanging branches, intent on catching a late afternoon snack.

Just before sunset the boat turned, sailing back downstream and into the Gulf of Carpentaria. 

The sun set as quickly as it had the day before, slipping below the horizon in a matter of minutes. 

Everyone sat in silence, watching the play of colour in the west. Behind us in the east, the moon rose in a dusky sky.

Back on land after our cruise, we went in search once more for barramundi – at the local fish and chips shop!

Advice Worth Taking

Queensland Road Trip, May 2022

Let’s go on a road trip! Come with us to Townsville and west on the Savannah Way to Karumba on an adventure in far north Queensland.  

Before we left home, a friend gave me some very important advice. 

“While you’re in Townsville, make sure you go to Juliette’s Gelateria on the Strand,” she said. 

And of course we did – twice!

 Our first visit came after we’d walked the Street Art Trail in the morning and explored Castle Hill in the afternoon, so a double scoop was well-earned. The extensive range of flavours meant choosing just two was difficult.

I decided on caramel biscotti topped with Malteser. Delicious!

The next afternoon we found ourselves on the Strand again, so we returned for seconds. This time I had vanilla choc cherry and chai latte – also delicious.

If you went to Juliette’s, what would you choose?


Bribie Island, Queensland

The calm waters of Pumicestone Passage separate the quiet coastal suburb of Golden Beach from the narrow strip of land just offshore that is Bribie Island.

The island hugs the coast from the northern end of Brisbane to Caloundra, creating a barrier between the open ocean of Moreton Bay and Pumicestone Passage. The southern part of the island, up to eight kilometres wide, is residential while the northern section ends in a long strip of densely vegetated national park. Until January 2022, the island was 34 kilometres long, with its narrow tip reaching out towards the headland at Bulcock Beach. It used to look like this.

On 2nd January, 2022 a king tide combined with wild waters whipped up by Cyclone Seth caused the ocean to break through the northern part of the island, creating a new island just two kilometres long. At first the breach was only a couple of metres across but constant erosion has widened the gap to around 300 metres.

At low tide, there is enough exposed sand to walk across to Bribie Island. Just make sure you head back before the tide turns. The ocean takes full advantage of its new course, rushing into Pumicestone Passage with a dangerous force never before seen along this part of the waterway.

Beauty at Low Tide

Golden Beach, Sunshine Coast, Queensland

The esplanade at Golden Beach is perfect for walking. On one side of the street, private homes look out over the calm waters of Pumicestone Passage while on the other, the path follows the contours of the sandy beach…

until you come to the mangrove boardwalk.

As the boardwalk winds into the mangrove the houses disappear from view, hidden by a dense forest of trees, vines and undergrowth. Along the way two paths leading to viewing platforms over the channel branch off the main walkway.

The word mangrove refers both to an area of coastal vegetation and also to the particular types of trees which grow there.

Other native plants flourish in the forest too.

The mangrove is home to animals as well as plants. Golden Orb spiders build large communal webs, filling in the gaps between the trees.

When they feel the vibrations of footsteps on the boardwalk, small crabs suddenly stop their sideways scuttling. Once still, they’re hard to distinguish from the pebbles embedded in the sand.

At high tide the ocean reaches almost to the road, covering much of the vegetation on the ground. But when the tide is low and the water has receded, the true beauty of the mangrove is revealed.

Joining Jo for Monday Walks

#15 At the Beach

I’m joining Becky in her February Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules of the challenge are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word Odd, referencing one of these definitions: different to what is usual or expected, or strange; a number of items, with one left over as a remainder when divided by two; happening or occurring infrequently and irregularly, or occasionally; separated from a usual pair or set and therefore out of place or mismatched. Look for #SquareOdds.

While we didn’t travel as much as usual in 2021, we were fortunate to enjoy several holidays in our home state of Queensland and one short trip over the border in New South Wales. Join me this month in a retrospective look at the very odd year of 2021. 

Kirra Beach QLD, April 2021

From the bush in February to the beach in April: a week at Kirra Beach brought a welcome change of scene. Every day we sat on our balcony enjoying these stunning views of the southern end of the Gold Coast.

It wasn’t just the scenery we enjoyed. We saw some unexpected human activity too.

One morning, a group of paragliders drifted down from the sky and landed effortlessly on the sand.

Early on Saturday morning, people more energetic than those of us on holiday competed in a triathlon. We watched the swim leg from our balcony.

And, most unfamiliar of all in the days when interstate airline travel was just restarting, an occasional plane would fly past. With the Gold Coast Airport nearby, they would fly up the coast before circling back around to begin their descent.

6 A Stand Out

I’m joining Becky in her July Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B.  The rules of the challenge are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word tree. Look for #treesquare. Come with me on a Central Queensland road trip starring trees and the beautiful landscapes of my home state.

Lamberts Lookout, Mackay

There’s a great view from Lamberts Lookout. In one direction you can see south over Lamberts Beach, out to the Cumberland Islands and down to the Port of Mackay.

Windblown pandanus trees cling precariously to the rocky headland.

In the other direction, a painted water tower stands tall among the trees on Slade Point.

Painted in 2019, the mural on the water tower depicts red-tailed black cockatoos and humpback whales, famous for their annual winter migration from the Antarctic Ocean to these warm waters.

2 One Street Town

I’m joining Becky in her July Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B.  The rules of the challenge are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word tree. Look for #treesquare. Come with me on a Central Queensland road trip starring trees and the beautiful landscapes of my home state.


Everyone who lives in Clairview has a stunning waterfront view right at their back door!

The tiny town of 145 permanent residents has just one street – Colonial Road, which runs north to south, separating a long strip of beachside homes from the dense coastal vegetation.

This part of the Pacific Ocean is a sanctuary for dugongs. The unusual marine mammals were once hunted to the point of extinction but now a large community flourishes in these calm waters inside the Great Barrier Reef.

Colourful murals decorate the walls of the local community centre and amenities block.

They bring to life the local flora and fauna, the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef and those elusive dugongs which thrive in the ocean by this secluded Queensland town.

1 Low Tide

I’m joining Becky in her July Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B.  The rules of the challenge are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word tree. Look for #treesquare. Come with me on a Central Queensland road trip starring trees and the beautiful landscapes of my home state.

Hervey Bay, Fraser Coast

The water of the Pacific Ocean is almost always this calm at Hervey Bay. The world’s largest sand island Fraser Island lies just off the coast, providing protection from all but the wildest of weather.

At low tide on a still day there’s barely a ripple at Urangan Beach.

Also linking to Jude’s Life in Colour Photo Challenge – Silver