Sunday, 13 July 2014

Mossman Gorge

After visiting the Daintree we headed off on the Monday to explore more of the Daintree forest at Mossman Gorge. The Mossman Gorge Centre is the gateway to Mossman Gorge and is a new indigenous ecotourism development.
The boardwalk at Mossman Gorge led to a four kilometre walk through the forest, a walk in the park after out 12 kilometre walk in Carnarvon Gorge
I overcame my fear of heights and crossed a suspension bridge
Many visitors make the trip to Mossman Gorge every year to take in the beauty of its pristine rainforest, cool streams, towering mountains and the dramatic Gorge and to receive the warm welcome of the local Kuku Yalanji people.
It was a fabulous experience as the photos below show...
Playing with the new camera and taking photos of more trees much to Ian's amusement

 Considered by many to be the evolutionary cradle for much of Australia’s plant and wildlife species, the forest has managed to survive for over 135 million years and, with the right protection, is expected to thrive for generations to come.
The trees are amazing...

Spectacular crystal clear , but cold, swimming hole
Many of the trees have signs telling of their bush tucker properties

The end of another adventurous day and back to the camp site for  dinner and to be entertained by the resident peacock once more.

Adventures in the Daintree

 After four days in the internet wilderness we are now at Airlie Beach and have five bars of service on the Telstra dongle and can actually access web pages and upload photos... yay!
 Apologies for the delayed blog but it was out of our control!
This is going to be a long story...
We spent a day touring the Daintree up as far as Cape Tribulation and then the next day at Mossman Gorge before we headed south again. Four relaxing nights at our camp site at the lovely Wonga Beach with the peacocks and the curlews.

So in the end we didn't get as far north as Cooktown. Before crossing the Daintree River on a vehicular ferry, we explored the tiny village of Daintree and had  coffee and yummy caramel slice. (We had to get some energy for the big day ahead.)

On the boardwalk in the Daintree Discovery Centre

On Sunday morning we were up bright and early to head north to the Daintree... World Heritage rainforest. The Daintree Discovery Centre is an interesting place that lets you access every level of the Daintree Rainforest from the forest floor
Looking up to where we walked through the rain forest
to the uppermost reaches of the canopy via a twenty three mete high tower. My fear of heights kicked in and I only made it half way to the top!
I made it over half way before my legs went to jelly.
The top of the rain forest canopy

Ian soldiered on and took a photo of the canopy for me. We spent a couple of hours at the centre looking at the displays and particularly enjoying the Gondwana Ghosts
There were displays of snakes and dragons and many beautiful photo opportunities.
A forest dragon

A python

The 23 metre canopy tower
I am beginning to get teased about my love for taking photos of trees.
One of my many tree photos. I might do a calendar!
Here is a particularly nice one! We came across many hidden gems of creeks, hidden beaches,
Stepping from the rain forest onto the beach at Cape Tribulation
lookouts. mountains topped with clouds. On the way home we even spotted a cassowary in the wild.
A beautiful beach but swimming not advised because of the stingers in summer an the crocodiles all  year!
Thornton's Peak
We really gained a first hand understanding of why the Daintree is a World Heritage area. We travelled home to Wonga Beach camp via the vehicular ferry, and dinner at the campsite. On the trip home we stopped at the Alexandra Range lookout for some spectacular photo opportunities.
Alexandra Lookout in the Daintree Rain Forest looking south east over the Coral Sea

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Best views, sunshine, peacocks and prawns...

A beautiful sunset when we were at Rollingstone Beach ... getting ready for those spectacular sunsets in the Whitsundays when we hook up with the Smiths and the O'Connors.
Sunset in North Queensland...nothing like it
On Wednesday morning we packed up at the beach and headed to the Atherton Tablelands with high expectations.  We meandered up the highway calling in at Mission Beach and South Mission Beach. Mission Beach was very tired with lots of closed businesses and empty shop fronts. South Mission Beach was scenic with an excellent caravan park that has been added to the list of ‘will stay one day’.
South Mission Beach

The trusty iPhone map app gave us a shortcut up the range through South Johnstone and we stopped for a picnic lunch in the scenic Henrietta Park.
Lunch at Henrietta Park
We had pre-booked the Woodlands Caravan Park at Atherton for a three night stay and when we arrived we set up the annexe for the first time. Ian decided to put the big cover over as it was sprinkling rain.
A very wise move.
 We sat at Atherton in pouring rain and freezing temperatures for two days with a couple of forays out to the local tourist attractions. The Herberton Heritage village was interesting but certainly not worth the $54 entry fee. The most interesting thing for me was the old school house where I spotted the Dick and Dora readers from my school days.  
Can you see Nip!
We called into the Gallo Dairy farm but our experience at the Chocolate Cottage in Toowoomba had spoiled us for excellent chocolate shops. It may have been the smell of the dairy pervading the retail area that turned us off buying chocolate or cheese!
We drove back to the camp via Lake Tinaroo which was very pretty. On a sunny day it would been stunning but we have since heard that sunny days are few and far between in Atherton.
On the third day, Ian discovered the  best view of Atherton   (through the rear vision mirror) when we decided to pack up and head for the coast as it was too wet to do the waterfall trail. We googled the most northern beach we could find and settled on Wonga Beach. Coming down the range through Mount Molloy was reminiscent of the Dorrigo Waterfall Way.
Misty Mountains
We set up camp at Wonga Beach
Camp at Wonga Beach
between clumps of paperbarks, strangler figs and coconut palms. A family of peacocks…one peacock and four hens roosted in the tree above us on our first night and luckily their calling cards landed about five metres from our camp site. The sweet smell of the sugar cane flowers wafted through all night.
The sugar cane is in flower
A friendly peacock who looked at himself in a bumper bar ALL day
A family of curlews is camped beside us and the new camera is being  put to good use.
Curlew beside the camp
We smiled at the tourist attraction on the way in. Hook a Barra…not real fishing …the photo says it all.
Hook A Barra
The beach is still showing the damage from cyclone Ita… with a lot of debris and oil stained sand with discoloured water. 
Cyclone debris on the beach

On the beach
However the view is still beautiful to the islands in the east and the mountains in the west; the park is green and lush.
Day Two in the Daintree… the sun came out. Twenty eight glorious degrees as we headed back to Mossman for the Saturday markets and on to the marina at Port Douglas for prawns fresh off the trawler. We actually had to go to the trawler to buy them.
Prawns for lunch
Port Douglas was very ritzy as we expected. Back to the campsite for fresh bread, prawns and a rest.
Interesting warnings around the park and on the beach… beware: poisonous snakes of the ‘wet tropics’, a crocodile warning on the beach, and a first aid station with a warning of marine stingers in summer at the edge of the beach.
Crocodile warning
  It makes the beach at home look pretty good.
Tomorrow we are off to the Daintree and Cape Tribulation with a decision to be made …whether to head all the way to Cook town….about fifty kilometres of four wheel drive terrain.

Till next time…

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Six days ago we set off from home with our trusty little camper trailer all stocked up for five weeks away in the warmer northern climes. Apart from a planned visit to see Sue and Steve in Toowoomba,
Susanne Bellamy and I at the Turkish restaurant...great food and great company!
and David and Rose  in Dalby…the same way we began last year’s trip …we had no plans for a final destination.

We spent a lovely evening with Sue and Steve at the Turkish restaurant in Toowoomba, celebrating mine and Sue’s birthdays before heading back to their lovely home on the side of the range overlooking the Lockyer Valley .The next morning Sue took us for a drive through the Garden City and took us to the Chocolate Cottage for lunch where we sat on the lawn overlooking the valley. WE had a beautiful meal (not chocolate) in the winter sunshine and stocked up on chocolate and Rocky Road to take to our next stop.
The best birthday lunch.
Off to Dalby to visit my cousin David, and his wife, Rose. David took Ian on a tour of his engineering workshop while I went to Big W to try and find my friend Fiona MacArthur’s book. Alas it hadn’t reached rural Queensland yet! We spent a warm evening in their beautiful new home
David and Rose's lovely home...look at the blue outback sky!
and had the ‘blue’ guestroom,
before we set off for Carnarvon Gorge, over five hundred kilometres away.
We arrived in time to set up for our first night in the camper trailer, before dark and wandered over to the camp kitchen to cook sausage and egg sandwiches. We were too tired to cook more than that, and I was in bed by 7.30p.m. while Ian read his first book for the trip! Unheard of for me, but I was still recovering from jet lag. I must have also had a premonition of what was to happen the next day.
A leisurely start to the day…after a brisk start, the morning warmed up and we headed for the gorge. I was wearing my new Blundstone walking shoes which I mistakenly believed I had broken in. Twelve kilometres and six hours later, we arrived back in the bush camp. We were both footsore and weary, but I hobbled back in a pair of socks while Ian carried my shoes. I asked him to put them in the back of the car where I couldn’t see them!
The sights we saw were worth the walk. The gorge is about eighteen kilometres long with well defined walking tracks, with diversions to different places such as Moss Garden,
Absolutely beautiful.. moss in the canyon
Wards Canyon,
Ward's Canyon
the Amphitheatre, the Art Gallery and Big Ben. We only had time to see Moss Garden and Wards Canyon as we had left late in the morning. The walk to those two sites alone involved about ten creek crossings which were very interesting with my poor sense of balance. I was fine until I got stuck on a rounded rock in the middle of the widest crossing
and Ian had to come to my rescue!
We were both exhausted on our return and after hot showers, we wandered over to the camp kitchen for a well deserved wine, beer and hot meal. I was in bed before 7.00pm! Ian commenced his second book.  After a couple of hours, we heard the Hills, out friends from home, arrive. They had driven from Kingscliff and we were amazed at the speed with which Greg set up their camper, while Amanda got the three children into their PJs and into bed.
Sunday was spent relaxing, and reading with a couple of shorter walks to the Rock Pool
and to the creek down behind our campsite where one of our fellow campers had spotted nine platypuses the night before. A beautiful little creek which would its way from the gorge around the camp site.
On Monday morning we were all up early, the Hills were heading for Airlie Beach and we were unsure of our destination. We had to decide whether to turn right at Emerald and head for the coast to take the Bruce Highway north, or head up the centre to Charters Towers, over five hundred kilometres away.
Our battery management system made the decision for us. We had called into an auto electrician in Emerald to have it checked, but got sick of waiting and headed to Clermont, just over an hour north.  It needed some significant work unless we wanted to worry about charging the battery manually each night so Ian decided to get the work done in Clermont. We booked into the local caravan park and headed off to the local pub for dinner after watching the afternoon bird feeding. Gorgeous lorikeets just like home.
The park was quiet, peaceful and restful and COLD. It was forecast to drop to minus two degrees through the night so we spent the evening poring over the map and plotted our route for the next week.
Morning tea stop
 Today we are making a huge trip to north of Townsville where we have booked a warm beachfront site for one night before we head to the Atherton Tableland. At this stage of the trip the plan is to head as far north as Cooktown.
Oh ,and it did drop to minus two. Heading north….
P.S. We got there.
Our camping spot in North Queensland...we had to brave some cool temperatures to get here!