For our final full day in Scotland, Laura and Ken took us for a hike through Roslin Glen, a picturesque park south of Edinburgh.
You can find some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world in the Northeastern Region of Iceland. Liz and I spent a couple of days exploring them.
Some of the best experiences happen when you’re pleasantly surprised. Amsterdam is surprising in the best possible way. Liz and I have just spent three days here. While not enough time to see everything, it gave us a taste of the city and an appreciation for the Dutch people. Continue Reading
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.
“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.
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.
Our route meandered over more creeks and under several railway bridges until we eventually turned off onto the Gravel at Simes Road.
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.
To quote John Williamson…. “You know, some people never see such things…” (The Cootamundra Wattle)
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.
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!
Green Island is a small tropical island on the Great Barrier Reef, about 25km off the Queensland Coast near Cairns. Just over 500 metres across at its widest point, you can walk around it at a leisurely pace in about half and hour. It’s a popular tourist destination for visitors to Far North Queensland, so we decided to check it out while we were in the area.
The Guru-Gulu Gurandji Aboriginal people are the traditional owners of the island. Their name for it is “Wunyami”, which means “Place of the hole in the nose”. Their story tells of a little turtle who swam to Green Island to drink some freshwater from a creek. Because there were many larger turtles trying to get a drink, he decided to drink from a crab hole filled with water. He didn’t realize it, but the little turtle woke the crab that lived in the hole. The crab pinched the turtle’s nose making holes in it. Eventually the little turtle grew into a big strong fellow. The other turtles noticed this. Because they wanted to be big and strong as well, they asked the spirits to give them all holes in their noses. When the Gurandji people heard of this, they paddled their canoes to Green Island and performed the first nose-piercing ceremony which then became part of the initiation ceremony on Green Island.
An easy way to see the reef without getting wet is either in the semi-submersible submarine, or the glass-bottomed boat.
I enjoyed the submarine – it let us get up really close to the fish.
The boat operator fed the fish while we were out, which excited the fish and the seagulls 🙂
Green Island is a beautiful place. I’m really glad we took the time to explore it!
Mossman Gorge is part of the traditional country of the Kuku-Yalanji Aboriginal people. We spent a few hours exploring this area with an Aboriginal guide as part of a small group tour organized via the Mossman Gorge Centre. The gorge is a popular destination for tourists, but the problem is that there isn’t anywhere to park at the end of the road where the gorge starts. So the Mossman Gorge Centre was built further back towards town with a huge car park, and regular busses that run every 15 minutes to take visitors up to the gorge, without having to hassle about where to leave the car.
We started our walk with a smoking ceremony. This is a traditional way of welcoming visitors and protecting them from harm during their stay. Everyone walked through the smoke before walking into the forest.
The rainforest is full of delicious food if you know where to look. Rodney, our guide, showed us some things we could eat, and ground them up for us one some stones which had been in use for centuries. We could still see the dents in the stones where nuts had been ground many times before over hundreds of years.
He also explained how the plant we call “Wait-a-while” was so important to his people. While we think of it as a prickly pest, it was essential in providing struts for building shelters. The spiky tendrils were useful for hunting snares and fish traps. The longer sections of cane could be cut open for drinking water, and it could also be used as a climbing aid for scaling tall rainforest trees.
The highlight for me was when we got to sit down and listen to the Kuku-Yalanji dreamtime stories…
When their ancestors came to rainforest, they didn’t know what they could eat. A good spirit named Kubirri came to them in the form of a man. He showed the people what they could eat, what things were poisonous, and how they could prepare other foods so they would be good to eat, and not harmful. Because of Kurbirri, the Kuku-Yalanji had lots of food and were happy.
But one day, Wurrmbu, an evil spirit came to live there. After this, food became more difficult to find, and people went missing. He was too strong for the people to stop. Thankfully, Kubirri said he would protect the people and the animals from Wurrmbu. He called the people and the animals to follow him up into the mountains. The animals followed him, but the people were scared and didn’t follow him.
While Kubirri and the animals were in the mountains, Wurrmbu cursed them and turned them to stone. If you look at the top of the mountains near the gorge, you can still see the forms Kubirri and the animals in stone. Kuburri stands between the animals and Wurrmbu, holding him back, and protecting them from harm.
At the rock shelter we got to see some old rock art. Rodney told us this painting of a turtle was thousands of years old.
Partway through the tour, we got to spend half an hour or so splashing around in one of the crystal clear rock pools, in one of the creeks that feeds into the Mossman River.
Rodney said the water was about as pure as you could find in the wild, so I thought I’d taste it to see for myself. I agreed with him 🙂
After that, we slowly wound our way back through the forest for some afternoon tea and a didgeridoo concert.
Can you hear the sounds of Kookaburras, Crcodiles and Kangaroos in his playing?
If you’re visiting Far North Queensland, Mossman Gorge is a “must-do” destination. If it’s your first time, make sure you book a tour so you can experience this wonderful culture first-hand.
Daintree National Park is a special place. I could tell you lots of facts about it, and show you lots of pictures, but none of that would convey the wonder of the place and its stunning beauty.
I have no doubt why this place is sacred to the Kuku Yulanji Aboriginal People. Their traditional country stretches from Mossman in the south almost as far as Cooktown in the north and as far west as Chillagoe on the other side of the Great Dividing Range on Cape York.
The rainforest in this part of the world is over 100 million years old, making it the oldest rainforest on our planet. It survived this long because while other continents were slowly drifting around the planet from hotter to cooler climates (or vice versa), the wet tropics of North Queensland stayed reasonably close to the same latitude for most of that time, with a fairly consistent climate. This meant that species of plants and animals that died out in other parts of the world, stayed alive here. This extensive biodiversity is what sets the Daintree Rainforest apart from almost any other place on earth.
It’s difficult to get to the Daintree. For starters, it’s over 1,500 km North-West of Brisbane. And you can’t easily drive there because there’s no bridge over the crocodile infested Daintree River. You have to catch a ferry. Thankfully, the ferry leaves every 10 to 15 minutes. But the roads are steep and twisty, so it’s a slow drive. You’ll have to take your time.
Our first stop after climbing the range was Alexandra Lookout. This gives great views to the east over the forest allowing you to see where the Daintree River meets the sea. It’s also a good place to get photos of butterflies trying to get their face on a photo 🙂
From there we drove north, past a tea plantation and over numerous speed bumps (to stop you hitting cassowaries) to Noah Creek. The bridge is narrow, so there’s no room for pedestrians. To get a picture of the babbling creek we had to park the car, run quickly onto the bridge, take the photo, then get back off the bridge before the next car came round the corner. I think we managed it with a few seconds to spare.
Cape Tribulation was the furthest north we could go in the hire car. After this, the bitumen stops, and the road turns into a 4wd track. At Cape Trib the rainforest reaches down from the mountains right to the edge of the beach. What a beautiful place!
We decided to go for a wander up the beach to see what we could find. I don’t think we were looking for anything in particular. We just wanted to soak it all up.
This mountain biker had the right idea. A simple single-speed rig with no suspension, nice fat tyres and “low tech” rubber footwear. Just the trick for riding on the beach.
Dubuji is a Boardwalk through the forest that gives you an idea of the biodiversity of the area. I was amazed to look down from the walk into shallow creeks and see numerous fish over 30cm (1 foot) long, just quietly sitting the shallows.
The rainforest here grows on the sand, which is extremely rare. The Kuku Yalanji people named this place “Dubuji” which means “Place of spirits”. They have stories about many specific places only several metres from the boardwalk.
I cycled through the Blue Tiers in North Eastern Tasmania today. The day started beautifully at the small town of Weldborough, but the weather quickly deteriorated and I ended up doing most of the 35km in cold rain. I’ve never ridden in such cold conditions (3 – 4 C) before, and it was satisfying to know I could do a tough ride in such difficult conditions.
The route was east out of Weldborough, up the mountain, then down a dirt road to Lottah, up to the Blue Tier camping ground at Poimena, and then down the “Descent” trail back into Weldborough.
As I rode into Lottah, it was pouring with rain and freezing, so I waited a while at this little caravan and shelter. No one was there, and the door was unlocked. I went in, and there was a guest book on the table, so I signed it.
What a welcome sight to a cold, wet traveler! I celebrated by eating Snickers bar. I was amazed at how quickly the chocolate and nuts warmed me up.
Which way to go? I had a pretty basic map and I tried to follow all the signs. Even so, there were still a few times I thought I had gone the wrong way.
I got sick of battling to climb all the rock gardens on foot, so I stopped and did a quick video 🙂
It was built in the 1880’s and is pretty spartan inside. So I had a Ham Pot Roast and a cup of tea as I sat by the warm fireplace.
That meal was better than any I have had at a fancy restaurant. It warmed me to my core.
All up, it was a total ascent of about 1,000m. The climb up was steep and I worked hard, but it was much more difficult coming down the mountain. There were some very rocky descents, and quite a few freezing flooded creeks that I had to cross.
I couldn’t take many photos because it rained so much, so I couldn’t get the phone out to take photos because it would get wet.
I’d say this was the hardest ride I’ve done todate because I did it alone, so I had to be extra careful, and because of the unfamiliar conditions – very cold and very tricky downhills.
Because my phone conked out I don’t have a complete log, so I’m basing the profile and map on the manual route I worked out before the ride. I actually rode an extra 5km in the middle of the ride at Poimena because I made a mistake and got onto the descent trail the “long” way instead of the short way.