Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Brisbane Valley Rail Trail

To better enjoy the photos, click on them to increase their size.

Wednesday 15th July

It was a chilly morning, as we set off from Fernvale along the old Brisbane Valley Railway for Lowood. Not as chilly as it was going to be several mornings later, when an Antarctic blast arrived, dropping snow on the range [800m] at Stanthorpe. Such an unusual occurrence had Brisbane folk driving for 3 hours so their children could experience 'snow magic'. A lovely friend of mine took her 8 and 5 year olds up. Kaye said they had an amazing time making snow angles, snowmen and leaving their footprints in the fresh snow and it was worth every moment of the long drive to witness the excitement on their faces.


[ L Scott]


One of the highlights of the walk was the birdsong that accompanied us throughout and finding this huge flock of birds. Unusually feathered, they importantly strutted across our path, but as we neared, took flight as one and regrouped just 500 metres away. They were still there on our return journey. Research revealed they are the Plumed Whistling Duck and live extensively on our east coast. 

Another highlight was hiking close to the banks of the Brisbane River, with the views west and east quite different.

The only metal rail on the trail was as we chugged up the long rise to Lowood Station.

The Brisbane Valley Railway ran for approximately 100 years, finally closing in 1991. Fernvale was one of the busiest stations for transport of people, dairy and agricultural produce, timber and cattle bound for Ipswich and Brisbane. Thankfully the councils along the track have seen the old trail as a source of tourism and recreation. 161 kilometres can now be hiked or cycled. We have now covered 33  of these and next year, hope to organise the rest as a through walk.

What better way to keep warm on a cold, dreary winter's day, than to 'hike down under with friends.'

I hope you enjoyed the walk along the old rail trail. I would love to read your comment.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Yuraygir Coastal Walk - Part 3

Thursday 9th September - Day 4
              18.5 kms

Rain had consistently fallen all night, so we weren't surprised to find the area around our unit awash with water and the sky leaden. The first of many kangaroos to be seen today, were drenched but happily grazing, just a few metres from our back door.

We were making footprints on the sand by 8am, decked out in all our warm clothing and rain proof gear. It was difficult to make out our destination of Red Cliff Headland, just 4 kilometres north.

The view south was only a tad brighter. The only bright spot was the low tide, making the sand firm for walking.

We climbed off the beach at Red Cliff Headland and whilst walking over several kilometres, we passed through several campsites with cold, bedraggled campers trying to boil the billy for a much needed cuppa. Much of the track was through winding bush and as we turned corners, we surprised numerous kangaroos, just metres from us. They too must have been feeling miserable, as they didn't bother to move away. It was too damp to get photos, until we were about to return to the beach.

The signage here indicated to head back to the beach, although the map suggested a sand dune track. About 4 km along the beach, we discovered and exit from the beach and the track we should have been on. Not to worry, the rain had lessened and we had been comfortable on the sand.

At about 11 am, we emerged from the sandy bush track, to find ourselves on Shelley Headland with views south from where we had hiked from. It was time for a snack, and thankfully, the sky cleared for us to relax and watch the waves crash on the rocks below. 

Shelley Beach had few shells, but was a pleasant poncho-less walk, of a couple of kilometres.

From Shelley Beach we had our first real climb of the hike, to Dirrangan Lookout, a spot of great importance to the local Yaegi people. We were now on the last section of the coastal route, winding up and through wonderful coastal heath, with views to rocky shoals and sheltered bays. Alas, no whales could be spotted. The wildflowers more than made up for their absence. I want to return here in Spring next year, to witness their true beauty.. For the first time we were greeting other hikers, although they were just out enjoying the 'Angourie Walk' - Angourie to Shelley headland, 10 kms return.

Zoom view of the headland where we had hiked from.

A faint view of the same headland, far in the distance.

As we crested one more ridge, we were excited to see our final destination about 1 1/2 km away. We were proud of our achievement and felt confidence for our long hike in England, in September - Wainrights Coast to Coast, 300 km [Help!] over 16 days.

The rain didn't want us celebrating too much and managed to drench us in the final 10 mins of walking. Thankfully, my car was still where I had parked it, near the small, local shop. An hour and a half drive saw us back in our cabin at Red Rock. We found Gary and invited him to join us for a beer and dinner, to thank him for coming to our rescue on Monday, when the Corindi River boatman didn't arrive as arranged. A lovely meal with good friends was a perfect way to complete our adventure.

Unknown to me that evening, I was to be blessed with the 'icing on the cake' so to speak. The following morning, I was awake at 6. It wasn't raining and sunrise was about 6.45. I quietly rugged up and set off to Red Rock Headland. It was magical. I've had great difficulty culling my shots, so I apologise if I have over done them, more than usual!
                           First view

North from the Headland

 It was still raining out to sea.

As the sky lightened, it was difficult to tear myself away. One last shot from the headland, then I dropped down to the river mouth. Its tranquility, as I watched pelicans, shags and seagulls feeding, and a hopeful fisherman casting his line in to the crystal clear water, added to the happiness bubble inside me. I am so grateful to be fit enough to hike these kilometres, with such good friends who share the wonder and beauty of our amazing land 'down under'.

I hope my Yuraygir Coast walk has enthused you to get out enjoy the great outdoors, where ever you live. I would love to read your comment.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Yuraygir Coastal Walk - Part 2

Tuesday 7th July - Day 2 

We woke to a crisp, sunny morning, with tranquility reigning on the Woolli River.

A brisk 30 minute street walk, saw us back on the beach ready to tackle the 4km of soft sand, to Wilson' Headland.                          

Looking south from Wilson Headland.

A perfect headland for a snack and a spot of whale watching. Numerous plumes of water broke the calm surface of the sea as the whales spouted. Our excitement mounted when we realised 5 or 6 whales were breaching. Although distant, it was spectacular to watch.

When we finally dropped off this headland we were greeted by a tiny bay with a steep shoreline of smooth, round pebbles and rocks. We were relieved when we rounded the point, to have a 'flat' rock platform to walk on. A short distance on, we were met by another sweeping beach of about 6 kms. The tide was still quite low and the sand firm, so we were able to relax and enjoy the sounds of the waves caressing the shoreline, the song of the abundant birdlife in the sand dunes and the magnificent blue of the sky and sea.

To reach Minnie Water, our destination for the night, we ascended another grassy, leafy headland. Signage here was poor and had we known, we could have continued around the headland to Minnie Waters's general store, park and swimming beach. Instead, we trudged several kilometres through streets of holiday homes to find the caravan park. Once we had settled into our cabin, I elected to find the store and purchase some nibbles to snack on, with our hard earnt glass of wine. 

I had no regrets about volunteering when I discovered Minnie Water's secluded and idyllic beach and shoreline. Perfect spot to rest the feet and soak up the warmth of the winter's sunshine.

LOL when we discovered the only way to have an evening meal was to book the Woolli Hotel curtesy bus to collect us at 6pm. 4 1/2 hours walking. 20 mins driving. 

Wednesday 8th July - Day 3

The weather gods decided to introduce us to Coast to Coast weather and idyllic Minnie Water was no longer so. A somber beach greeted us and after 1 or 2 km walking through bushland, the view was no less ominous.

Pushed along by the strong southerly wind, we made good time along this 10 km stretch of beach. The wind also pushed the rain further north.

It was a steep, sandy climb off the beach on a 4 wheel drive track. For the small community of Sandon, this was its only access. Rob Jarrett, our boatman for crossing the Sandon River, was hooking up his tinnie, as we walked down one of the few streets. On the edge of Sandon we spotted several large roos sunning themselves.

On the opposite shore was the Sandon River camping ground, accessed by dirt road from Brooms Head, our destination for the day.
After a conversation with one of the campers, and appraisal of a rising tide, wind, and more ominous clouds, the decision was made to take the dirt road, over the soft sand beach. Slightly longer, but hopefully quicker, easier on the legs and if we were lucky, the bonus of seeing lots of emus. 

No emus, but wonderful low native vegetation, flowering banksia, and bottle brush. The heavens opened for the last few kilometres, but we were revived with a delicious, homemade pizza, a bottle of wine, cosy comfortable accommodation and Queensland winning the State of Origin football series.

I hope you are not too tired after our long day. I would love to read your comment.