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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

#9 Girraween in Flower

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 #OddSquare.

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. 

Girraween National Park, February 2021

Even in heat of summer, wildflowers bloom in Girraween National Park. Most are tiny and grow at ground level, so finding them is an achievement. The nine wildflowers we saw included paper daisies, pincushion daisies and my favourite, the fringed lily.

We were lucky to see dozens of fringed lilies flowering in the bush – the delicate blooms last for just one day.

#8 Hidden

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 #OddSquare.

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. 

Girraween National Park, February 2021

When is a creek not a creek?

Millions of years ago, in what is now Girraween National Park, an overhanging rock wall collapsed, burying a section of Bald Rock Creek under tonnes of rubble. Where the water flows beneath the rockfall, it’s known as Underground Creek.

Massive granite boulders lie where they fell, some wedged above the creek and others balanced in the most precarious of positions.

We’re dwarfed by the enormous curved wall of granite left behind after the collapse.

The tannin stained water of Underground Creek is heard but not seen for several hundred metres. Finally it rushes out from beneath the tumbled granite and continues on its way through the park.

So when is a creek not a creek? Perhaps when it flows in unexpected places.

In A Different Light

Minerva Hills National Park

The rugged terrain of Mount Zamia Plateau dominates the landscape surrounding the little town of Springsure. Most striking is Virgin Rock, a massive formation once joined to the plateau but long ago separated by erosion of the softer upper layers of stone.

The rock is named for naturally formed features on the side which appear to resemble the Virgin Mary cradling her new-born baby. At midday, with the sun shining directly on the rock, the figures are clearly visible.

From a different vantage point later in the day the shapes are hidden in the shadows.

As evening comes on, the crimson hues of a vivid sunset cast a rosy glow over the rock.

When nature’s illumination fades into darkness, Virgin Rock is still visible from Springsure. Strategically placed floodlights bring the rock into sharp focus, accentuating its dominance in this ancient landscape.

Keep to the Left…Mostly!

Minerva Hills National Park

In Australia we drive on the left and usually we walk on the left. At the start of the walk to the Skyline Lookout, I automatically walked on the left. It’s the natural thing to do!

Not far from the start this sign caught my attention and, as the track narrowed on its uphill climb, I instinctively moved to the right.

The loose gravel on the path meant I needed to concentrate on where I was stepping. I didn’t want to stumble and fall here – it was a long way down.

Wattle trees in full bloom covered the hills while closer to the track wiry tufts of spinifex dotted the stony slopes.

The track followed the curve of the hill, passing from open grassland into acacia forest where the trees were adorned with dozens of spider webs. Some of the large sticky webs were suspended across the track and I forgot about which side I wanted to walk on. Instead it was a case of dodging from one side to the other to avoid coming face to face with one of the golden orb weavers who built them.

The last section of the track wound around the peak of Mount Zamia to two viewing platforms. One faced south towards Virgin Rock and the little town of Springsure and the other looked out over the fertile farmland to the north.

The track to Skyline Lookout was 800 metres out and back and the return walk was a little easier. I just stayed on the left – except for the part where the spiders live.

Minimal Effort, Maximum Reward

Minerva Hills National Park, Central Queensland

In our experience, a vigorous uphill walk is often required to reach the lookouts with the best views.

For two of the lookouts at Minerva Hills National Park, the uphill part of the journey has to be completed by car. This time we’re happy not to be walking; the road up into the park is four wheel drive only and it’s steep, stony and rough.

Springsure Lookout is just a few metres from the first car park.

Perched on the edge of Mount Zamia Plateau, the lookout is aptly named. The little town of Springsure can be seen nestled in the valley below. The craggy cliffs and domed ranges surrounding the town are weatherworn remnants of the Springsure Volcano which erupted 28 to 30 million years ago. 

Further along the road is Eclipse Gap Lookout. While the walk to the viewing platform is even shorter, the view is far more expansive.

This ancient volcanic landscape was formed when liquid basalt flowed over the land before solidifying in thick layers of solid rock. Dillies Knob rises sharply out of the tree-covered plain. It’s one of several volcanic plugs exposed after millions of years of erosion by wind and water. 

The highest peak in the national park is Mount Boorambool, another massive volcanic plug. Rising up beside Eclipse Gap, the mountain takes on a golden glow when the wattle trees are blooming. 

Usually the effort of walking up to a lookout is rewarded by the views but at Minerva Hills there’s little effort needed. With a four wheel drive vehicle these two lookouts are easily reached and the time saved by driving can be spent enjoying the fabulous vistas.

10 A Flash of Yellow

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.

Broken River, Eungella National Park

As we wander along the boardwalk at Broken River, a flash of yellow in the trees up ahead catches our attention.

It’s an Eastern Yellow Robin. At first it’s shy and hides in the foliage.

We stop and wait quietly until the robin comes closer.

Eventually it’s brave enough to fly down to the path and our patience is rewarded when it’s joined by a friend. They hop along the boards in front of us before flying away into the trees once more.

9 The View From the Window

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.

Sky Window Circuit, Eungella National Park

At an elevation of 1259, it feels like we’re closer to the sky on the Eungella Plateau. And a walk around the Sky Window Circuit sounds promising.

The track follows the escarpment through sub-tropical rainforest. The trees grow tall and thin as they compete for sunlight while the undergrowth is so thick it blocks any sightings of the valley.

The views are only revealed when we reach the Sky Window Lookout.

Close by, the steep winding road we’ve just travelled up is clearly visible. Beyond that, the Pioneer Valley, flanked on both sides by the Clarke Range, opens up before us.

We can just make out the city of Mackay, 80 kilometres to the east on the coast. It really does seem as if we’re looking down from the sky.

8 Down the Mountain

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.

Araluen Cascades, Finch Hatton Gorge

Finch Hatton Creek flows down the mountain, carving a path through the sub-tropical rainforest.

Flowing across ancient volcanic granite, it tumbles over the rocks at Araluen Cascades into two deep pools before continuing downhill.