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Up The Hill

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. 

When is a mountain not a mountain? 

When it falls short of the required 300 metres in elevation by a mere 14 metres.

Castle Hill might just miss out on mountain status but at 286 metres it dominates the city of Townsville. The pink granite monolith, also known by its indigenous name of Cootharinga, is popular with both locals and visitors who can either walk up the famous Goat Track with its 758 stairs or drive up the 2.6 kilometre sealed road to the top. On a steamy 33° afternoon we did not walk up the Goat Track. 

Once at the summit we could easily have just stayed at the car park lookout which has spectacular 360° views – Townsville’s sprawling suburbs spread across the coastal plain, Hervey Range in the distance and Magnetic Island 10 kilometres off the coast.

But after avoiding the long walk up the hill we had energy reserved for the short walks at the top. The Radar Hill walk was closed for renovations so we set off on the Summit Walk to Hynes Lookout. 

From here we could see the CBD, where we’d walked the Street Art Trail in the morning, the busy Port of Townsville and Cape Cleveland far away on the horizon. 

Closer to the coast, Magnetic Island was veiled by a humid haze. 

Further round to the north east the Pill Box Walking Trail, which leads to a relic of World War Two, was our next destination.  

This track and lookout gave us a slightly different perspective on the same views. But it was the history connected to the site which made it interesting. 

A 1942 Observation Bunker, once an important part of Australia’s wartime defence system, now stands disused, a silent reminder of a time when the country was under threat of invasion. 

The people who worked here had huge responsibilities. They also had the best view in town!

Joining Jo for Monday Walks

Let’s Go!

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. 

After a relaxing week at Golden Beach on the Sunshine Coast, it was time to hitch up the caravan and head to northern Queensland. The day we left home was cold and rainy – jeans and jumpers weather. As we headed north-west on the Warrego Highway the temperature rose and we didn’t need our warm clothes again until the very last day on our way home.

Our first destination was Townsville in far north Queensland and to get there we travelled through towns we’ve been to before. This time we passed through Miles, Roma, Springsure, Capella, Emerald and Mackay without needing to explore.

Even though this part of the journey was familiar, there was still plenty to see along the way. We only drove for 2½ hours before stopping for our first morning tea of the trip, at The Creek Café in Miles. One of Glen’s travel goals is to eat a vanilla slice in every café in Australia and this one lived up to his expectations.

The playground at Capella comes with warnings: don’t take your horse in to play and watch out for snakes!

These four legged lawn mowers were grazing in the backyard of the Tourist Information Centre in Proserpine. Llamas or alpacas? We didn’t know and neither did the lady inside.

Bowen is famous for its delicious mangoes. We saw rows and rows of mango trees but it wasn’t mango season, so the only fruit was this giant-sized beauty on the way into town.

Sugar cane, farmed all the way from Bundaberg to Mossman, grows on both sides of the Bruce Highway.

Not far south of Townsville we crossed the Burdekin River, still in flood after many months of rain.

Finally, after driving 1,474 kilometres over three days, we arrived in Townsville. The tree-covered slopes of Hervey Range made a beautiful backdrop for our free camp site.

A stunning bush sunset, the first of many on this trip, was the perfect welcome to north Queensland.

*some photos taken through the car windscreen by the passenger

Breached!

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

Namesake

Girraween National Park, Queensland

Do you ever think about how or why places are named? At Girraween National Park in southern Queensland, the reason for some place names is more obvious than others.

The designation of Underground Creek is self-explanatory, as the tannin stained water disappears beneath an ancient rockfall. The creek might be hidden from view, but it can be heard trickling between the granite boulders before it emerges further downhill.

Girraween is an Aboriginal word meaning “place of flowers”. In late summer, drifts of golden paper daisies brighten the bush while delicate fringed lilies bloom close to water.

It’s logical to assume that Dr Roberts’ Waterhole was named for a local personality, but it’s only at the end of the track his story is revealed.

The wide sandy path leading to the waterhole winds through open eucalpyt forest. Huge slabs of granite, laid down as magma 240 million years ago, are revealed where the topsoil has been eroded by wind and rain.

At the end of the track a panel explains the conservation work of Dr Roberts, and the reason for honouring him becomes clear.

After good summer rainfall, the waterhole is full. A light breeze sends ripples across the surface, blurring the sky’s reflection.

I wonder how many times Dr Roberts visited this waterhole in his wanderings. I think he would be delighted that this beautiful place bears his name.

 

Joining Jo for Monday Walks

#25 At the Park

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. 

Queens Park, Toowoomba QLD, September 2021

Each September, the Darling Downs city of Toowoomba lives up to its reputation as the “Garden City” by celebrating the annual Carnival of Flowers. The centrepiece of the 10 day floral extravaganza is the garden at Queens Park. Spread over 25 hectares, with broad expanses of lawn, mature trees and garden beds overflowing with blooms, the park is at its most beautiful in spring.

Council gardeners spend countless hours sowing and maintaining more than 150,000 plants in the lead up to the Carnival and almost as many people come to see the floral display. In 2020, the park hosted 116,039 admiring visitors and in 2021, with travel restrictions eased, that number would have been even larger.

Toowoomba is our home city and we’re lucky to have Queens Park to visit at any time of year. And we’re already looking forward to September, when we’ll join in the celebrations for the 73rd Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers at beautiful Queens Park.

#17 Ducks in a Row

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. 

 Pioneer Valley QLD, May 2021

As we drove through the Pioneer Valley to Eungella National Park, we came across a puzzling sight. This large group of birds, all lined up beside a large dam, stood like statues in the morning sun. There was no movement nor any sound.

We wondered if they’d heard of the expression “getting your ducks in a row”.

In the midst of all these silent, sunbathing birds one lone white egret stood head and shoulders above the rest.

#16 Meet Buffy

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. 

 Sarina QLD, May 2021

In 1935, 102 cane toads were introduced to Northern Australia by the sugar cane industry in an effort to control cane beetles. This attempt at biological control was a dismal failure, as the beetles live high in the leaves of the sugar cane and the toads live on the ground.

As an imported species with no natural enemies, the toads quickly multiplied and became invasive pests. Today, it’s estimated there are up to 200 million toads across northern Australia. Sadly, they secrete a substance called bufotoxin which is lethal to any native animals coming in contact with it.

With all its negative publicity, it was surprising to find this giant sculpture of “Buffy” the cane toad in the main street of Sarina. The town is the centre of a large cane growing district and Buffy was originally constructed as part of the Sarina Sugar Festival in 1983.

This depiction of a cane toad is quite flattering – the real ones are very ugly.

#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.

#14 River Secrets

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. 

Lees Camping Reserve QLD/NSW Border, February 2021

Another campsite, another river; this time we free-camped off the grid at a reserve on the bank of the Dumaresq River, close to the state border.

While the river scenery was beautiful, it was the geological formations beside the water which intrigued us. Two distinctly different rock types lay side by side.

One was a conglomerate – hard, red and pockmarked with circular indentations. Hundreds of tiny pebbles were embedded in each white circle.

The other was softer. Sandstone-like, this layer was deeply eroded. Puddles were evidence of higher river levels at some earlier time.

If only the river was able to tell us the story of this perplexing landscape.