Wiangaree

Wiangaree

Jason on Causeway 800
This unusual ride took us from Running Creek near Rathdowney, over the Border Ranges to the Richmond River, and then back over the range to our starting point.

I have wanted to do this course for a long time because it closes a large gap in my Ride Network between Rathdowney and the Border Ranges. This “missing link” now completes an unbroken line of riding routes which stretches from Kyogle in Northern NSW all the way up to Rainbow Beach on the Fraser Coast and out as far as the Bunya Mountains.
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The Border Ranges

The Border Ranges

"The Pinnacle" Lookout, Border Ranges NP
I’ve cycled through the Border Ranges a couple of times with friends. Both times it was raining, so we didn’t really get to see it at its best. So today I thought I’d take advantage of the recent run of specatcularly clear days and drove there for the day with my son, Jonathan.

While not being able to ride a bike for a few months has its disadvantages, there was one advantage – we had a lot more time during the day to stop and enjoy the views.

Running Creek
Running Creek

“The further south you go, the better it gets”, I said to Jonno as we drove south from Beaudesert. Just near of the border, along the Lions Road, we arrived at Running Creek. The road here crosses this pretty creek several times. It’s difficult to enjoy the view while driving, so we decided to get out and have a quick look around.

Border Loop Lookout

The interstate railway line crosses the range here via an unusual arrangement of loops and tunnels that were constructed about a century ago. We were able to look down on the system from the “Border Loop” Lookout.

Railway BridgeSimes Road
(Pictures – Jonathan Ennis)

Our route meandered over more creeks and under several railway bridges until we eventually turned off onto the Gravel at Simes Road.

Forest Drive, Gradys Creek
One of the joys of revisiting a special place is bringing someone who’s never been there before. Jonathan was stunned by the beauty and kept wanting to stop and take pics. I was happy to oblige.

"The Pinnacle" Lookout, Border Ranges NP

We eventually arrived at “The Pinnacle” lookout after a long slow drive up the mountain. The last time I was here it was so cloudy and wet you could see nothing.

Today the beauty was overwhelming.

The Pinnacle Lookout
(Photo – Jonathan Ennis)

IMG_0468
(Photo – Jonathan Ennis)

"The Pinnacle" Lookout, Border Ranges NP

To quote John Williamson…. “You know, some people never see such things…” (The Cootamundra Wattle)

Tweed River, Mt Burrell

After carefully making our way down the other side of the range, we slowly made our way into Mount Burrell, in the upper reaches Tweed Valley. Believe it or not, this little stream is the Tweed River.

"This girl I met" - Mt Burrell
(Photo – Jonathan Ennis)

We found thls lady by the side of the road. She kindly posed for a photo with me but didn’t say much.

If you want to see some of the best scenery in South-East Queensland and Northern NSW in one day, I’d thoroughly recommend this drive. We drove a total of about 420km in just over 7 hours. I used most of a full tank of fuel.

Thanks Jonathan, for sharing it with me.

Oh – and thanks to my neighbor, Mike, who let me take his Holden Ute so far from home!

Eclipse - 2012

Eclipse – 2012

Totality

After experiencing the Eclipse of 2002 in Woomera, South Australia with my daughter Laura, I was hooked. I vowed I was definitely going to do my best to see this rare event a second time. So ten years later, Liz and I agreed to take the kids to North Queensland to catch a glimpse of one of nature’s most awe-inspiring spectacles.

There were differences between the two events. Woomera is in the desert of South Australia. So in 2002 we had an almost certain chance of cloud-free skies. The down-side was it was miles from nowhere, we had to camp out in the desert, and that eclipse only lasted 30 seconds.

Vila Paradiso - Palm Cove
Roll forward to 2012. Palm Cove is in tropical North Queensland. November is the start of the “Wet Season” where it rains incessantly for 4 months or more. There was a pretty big chance that clouds would foil our attempt of viewing the eclipse. The up-side was that Palm Cove is a beautiful resort town on the beach. We were able to book great accommodation across the road from the beach, with uninterrupted views of the morning sky. And this Eclipse would last over two minutes – four times longer than the previous one.

The Beach to Ourselves
We arrived at Palm Cove a few days before the main event. We had the beaches to ourselves. Although you could spot the odd geeky looking tourist in town (do I look geeky), this tropical paradise was serene.

Waiting for Totality
A couple of days later it was packed. Umbraphiles (look it up) as far as the eye could see. There were network TV cameras on the esplanade, high-powered telescopes, satelite dishes, and learned looking people with devices I didn’t have a clue about. We just grabbed a couple of beach towels, walked across the road from the hotel, and plonked ourselves down on the sand to wait for the main event.

Putting on the Eclipse GlassesWatching the Eclipse
We all had our Eclipse Glasses – I had bought them on eBay over six months ago. I gave them to Liz, because she was less likely to lose them than me 🙂 Nevertheless, before the trip I think I asked her half a dozen times if she had packed the glasses. (I just wanted to make sure).

Clouds Before the Eclipse
And then disaster struck. The clouds started massing on the eastern horizon like they do most mornings at this time of year. The sun disappeared and two thousand people sat on the beach crossing their fingers and willing the clouds to part.

The Clouds Part
And they did! People cheered. I got a bit teary because I finally realized this was going to happen! We were going to see the eclipse. I had my watch synchronized to the second and counted off the minutes, the seconds to totality.

Totality
Totality

And then “It” happened. Have you ever heard several thousand people gasp in awe? I was ecstatic. “You can take your glasses off now” I said to the kids. “Oh Wow! Look at that!”. The sky went dark, the stars came out. And a fiery black hole appeared in the sky where the sun was a few seconds ago. And I could look straight at it. And, emotional petal that I am, I cried. People cheered, yelled, sighed, and just gazed at something simply beautiful.

And as you can see, I did manage to find a few seconds to take a couple of photos. The professionals got some amazing photos, but the images I came for were those that are now in my head. I’ll never forget what I saw, and how I felt.

And, I think I’m now an eclipse chaser. I’ve spent just over two and a half minutes of the last ten years in “Totality”.

I want more 🙂