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An early start saw us on the ferry to Stradbroke Island at 8 am, sailing across a glistening bay under sunny blue skies. How fortunate were we with this weather? Good decision not to go last week and now a day later we are feeling the discomfort of the winter westerlies.
One hour later we were driving east across the island, setting off on the Gorge walk, coffee bag on Jenny's shoulder and almost immediately spotting whales and dolphins.
The colour of the ocean was mesmerising.
We settled on the rocks of the northern cliff of The Gorge for our coffee and joined in with other whale watchers with our exclamations of excitement each time we spotted a 'blow'.
Our original plan was to walk the 13 km Blue Lake circuit in the morning and whale watch on completion. Because of the weather forecast of increasing winds, we opted to reverse our plan. Consequently because of the perfect conditions, we were unable to tear ourselves away and so continued to enjoy the warmth of the sun, the gentle lapping of the surf and the ocean parade.
Mid morning we slowly made our way to the opposite cliffs and again settled to whale spotting. Below us was 'Whale Rock' and each time a larger swell surged into a narrow rock crevice, it sounded like a whale breathing. In bigger seas it is said to spout like a whale and there is an aboriginal legend telling the story of its formation.
About midday we made the decision to walk the foreshore of popular Cylinder Beach and find a shady spot for lunch.
At 1.30 we set off from the car park at the entrance to the Blue Lake Circuit to just do the 5.6 km return walk to the lake. It took a little adjustment to change from the open panorama of the morning to that of this wonderful lush bushland and it's sprinkling of wild flowers.
After about 30 mins we spotted the blue water through the thick canopy of trees. Soon after, we arrived at this lookout.
This was going to be the sum total of our view, until we discovered a trail made by other frustrated hikers, which took us to the waters edge. This decision to go behind the fence and take the 25m off trail track to the water's edge, was a first for me. On reaching the shoreline I was glad I had. Research on my return home has given me an understanding of the need for fencing, but I believe that more information should be given at the beginning of the hike.
It's unusual because it's more than 10 meters deep, but it's so clear you can see to the bottom. New research reveals something even more remarkable: the lake has been relatively unaffected by changes in climate or the effects of humans for more than 7,000 years. Researchers looked at records kept about the lake for the past 117 years as well as fossil information about pollen and algae. By looking at photographs and a great deal of other data, they came to a remarkable conclusion: the depth and water chemistry of Blue Lake has remained almost unchanged for millennia.
There was still time for us to fit in a quick visit to the Brown Lake.
Brown Lake is a perched lake retaining it's water due to the layer of leaves on it's floor. Tannin is exuded from the leaves of surrounding paperbarks and tea trees, staining the water brown.
We had seen the 'burning tree' at Mt Glorious and now we were seeing the 'burning lake' at Stradbroke Island.
We set sail at 4pm on a quite new ferry and enjoyed sitting on the top deck to watch the mangroves and islands pass by and the sun slowly sink into the west.
We quickly came to the conclusion as we discussed the highlights of the day that it is
"pretty darn good to walk down under with friends!"
Happiness is .............
spending a day at Australia Zoo with Kim and Stuart.
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