Monday, 10 October 2016

I found 'SPRING'!

4 October

This Saturday sees my husband and I flying to Spain for a Mediterranean cruise, hiking in the Las Alpujarra Mountains near Granada and visits to Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon and Seville. I was determined however, to get one more camping trip in before our departure. My destination was Murphy's Creek, a bush setting camping ground, highly recommended to me several years ago.

When we arrived last Monday at midday, there were still a couple of stragglers packing up after their long weekend visit for the Queen's birthday. We were informed that over 300 people had booked in. Such a joy to discover we were to be the only occupants for our 3 day visit!

We found Murphy's Creek quite dry, as they have had poor rainfall all year. Stark contrast to 10th January, 2011, when torrential rain in a very short time span, after weeks of rain, saw a wall of water roar down the creek wrecking havoc on property and lives. Standing on it's upper bank, it was impossible to comprehend its volume and ferocity.

We were thankful that the predicted rain was only drizzle, as we set up camp. There was time for a stroll along the creek bed and a glass of wine on the bank, before we had to retreat to the van to listen to the sound of the heavy raindrops on its rooftop.

The following morning it was quite chilly, but the sun was shining brightly. The camp owners suggested that a visit to Spring Bluff Railway Station would be well worth our while. Since we were headed in that direction to find a hiking trail from Picnic Point in Toowoomba, it seemed like a good idea.

It was more than a good idea. It was a sensational one as I found 'SPRING', as it is rarely seen in Queensland. Not only was there masses of colour, but the temperature 'felt' like spring.

We had listened to coal trains regularly passing the camp ground, from early morning, but alas not one passed through while we were visiting the station. It was a trip down memory lane though, when I spotted the signal levers.

The view across the valley.

A photographic record of the 2011 flood devastation here.

There were several open areas with BBQ's and picnic tables. On an upper level was an open sided dance hall. We just couldn't help ourselves but do the Pride of Erin. My maiden name was one of hundreds etched on the rafters.

It was just a short drive to the top of the range to Toowoomba, the Garden City of Australia, which hosted their 67th year of the Carnival of flowers, from the 16 to 25 of September. A hike was planned, but after the sensational beauty of Spring Bluff Station our interest waned. We set off to find more colour.
I have enjoyed Toowoomba at this time of year previously, but had forgotten just how amazing the gardens can be.

Picnic Point, Laurel Bank Park and Queens park did not disappoint.

Picnic Point

Laurel Bank Park

Queen's Park

We reluctantly returned to camp and were delighted to discover it was  bird feeding time. Can you spot the 3 different varieties of lorikeets? The red and green is a king parrot.

Our late afternoon stroll to the creek rewarded us with magnificent reflections.

As the evening drew in the temperature dropped, so a fire was begging to be lit. It has been many years since I've had the bliss of a campfire, so it was enjoyed to the max, except someone forgot the marshmallows!

It was a little difficult to squeeze this adventure in before the big OS trip, but I am sooooo glad I made the effort. Nature is truely spectacular in so many ways and I plan to enjoy it through many more trips away in the van.

Re the station:- it was decommissioned in 1995, but it has been Heritage listed and a trust and both the Toowoomba and Lockyer Valley Councils, see to it's upkeep. One gardner is employed full time.

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Sunday, 2 October 2016

Columbia River and Larch Mountain

Friday 10 June

It's only taken 3 months to do it, but finally my last post of our May / June travels in Banff BC and Oregon.

On our last morning in Cascade Locks, I was able to hike a short distance along the Pacific Crest Trail, that several of my blogging friends have hiked from end to end. I so admire their hiking and the fact that they take time to share the journey through their blogs and photography. 

We packed for the final time and travelled back towards Portland. Thankfully we had near a full day before our flight, so there was time to enjoy one or two more waterfalls.

An old tunnel on the Historic Columbia River Highway.

Bridal Falls

Columbia River taken from Vista House. 
At 733 ft above the Columbia, Vista House was completed in 1918, as a rest stop observatory for travellers and as a memorial honouring Oregon's pioneers.

Such friendly volunteers.

Our journey then took us to Larch Mountain, through amazing forest and fog.

The steps to the 360 degree viewpoint, but today hidden by the swirling fog.

Yes, I know there are at least 6 volcanic peaks hiding from me!

The beauty of the rhododendrons, foxgloves and numerous other wildflowers that we spotted on the drive, more than made up for the lack of view.

Roses in a park in Troutdale, where we had a delicious Italian lunch. 
I love the name Troutdale and it totally suited this pretty town.

Our final view of this mighty river, as we neared the airport. 

The weather matched my feelings as this wonderful, marvellous, magnificent, fabulous, sensational ............  [ I don't know which word describes it best]  holiday came to an end. I am so grateful for the time with Kim and Stuart, along with seeing the beauty of nature in spring, in this awesome part of the world.

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