Sunday, 28 August 2016

Views from a Train

Wednesday 13 July

These photos were taken as The Spirit of Queensland train, returned me to suburban Brisbane, [22 hour journey] after my 2 weeks of hiking in tropical north Queensland with my brother and a friend.

The photos are not of good quality. This is the result of the position of the sun, train speed and glare, but for my OS readers, I wanted to show that the Aussie landscape changes little over our vast distances. We have areas of incredible beauty, but because of the distances, it is difficult to advise travellers how to see it all.

 I have just been reading this blog, of an English family of 4, choosing to just see a small part of

Queensland.  I have completely enjoyed reading of their visit. They only scratched the surface of what there is to see, but they did see it memorably.

The coastal strip from Brisbane to Cairns [1700 kms] is renowned for its sugar cane production. Some areas have beef cattle, bananas, citrus, and mangoes. Towns average an hours drive between them with not a lot to see in between. Queensland's population is only 4.6 million with 2 million living in Brisbane.

Our landscape is totally different to European landscapes and definitely boringly flat, in comparison to the magnificent Rockie Mountains, that I have just visited.

I love where I live, but just sometimes I wish the distances weren't quite so vast.

Interestingly, North America has the Rockies Parrelling its west coast. Australia has its Great Dividing Range, on the east coast, doing the same thing. Its 'full height' can be spotted in many of these shots. Its average height is 606 metres / 2000 feet.

Views from the train, from 11 am until sunset.

Herbert River

The mighty Burdekin River.
A dam built across it upper reach, holds 4x the amount of Sydney Harbour.

Only a few farmers burn their cane before harvesting now. The others cut it 'green' and the dry leafage is baled for mulching.

Baled sugar cane mulch.

Loaded sugar cane carriages, waiting to be taken to the mill.

Very typical country view.

Dry river beds are not uncommon for most of the year.

This is Queensland.

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Monday, 22 August 2016

Atherton Tableland's Stunning Nandroya Falls.

Tuesday 12 July

Several days prior to this hike, Jim and I had eaten our lunch beside Henrietta Creek, on the road to the Atherton Tablelands. Jim spotted a trail designated 'Nandroya Falls', that he hadn't seen before. Our aim on this day, was to platypus spot, so we put this hike on our 'to do list', for before my departure. Nearby we also spotted a signpost to Misty Mountain. 

Tuesday, my last day in the warm north, had us back at the tablelands. The name, Misty Mountain, sounded captivating, but our exploration of nearly 10kms of forest road, just brought more dirt road and thick rainforest. We turned around and drove back to the Nandroya Trail carpark.

A lovely flat trail for about a kilometre.
A tiny fall.

A stunning buttressed tree [perhaps a dipterocarp].

As we descended, the forest layers thickened - ferns, vines, palms, staghorns, crows nests, lichens and as always, towering trees.

The view as we passed the above tree's root mass.

Below - testing a perfect hollow to keep dry.

The dark clouds were hovering. We had only gone another 100 metres passed this tree, when we heard the teeming sound of a heavy shower approaching. We hadn't come prepared for rain, so we halted, wondering if we should go back for cover. We waited and waited. The noise didn't come any closer. Suddenly we realised we were listening to the roar of a waterfall. Relieved we weren't going to get drenched, we continued on.

Such a small fall, for such an intimidating sound.

Silver Falls

The trail passed in front of Silver Falls and then continued, descending down, down, down, until we turned a corner and gasped at the beauty revealed before us.

Our sudden view of lower Nandroya.

The lower Nandroya, with the upper drop, beckoning us on.

We really can't understand why these falls are so little known. They are spectacular. We did however, enjoy having the less trodden trail to ourselves.

The photo below, saw us farewelling Nandroya and taking an unexpected loop along Douglas Creek, back to the trail head.

This permitted us to hike beside Douglas Creek for a good kilometre, before the trail climbed again.
Such a delight to watch its numerous cascades as we continued on.

Such a memorable final hike, especially as the splendour of these falls came as such a big surprise.
Sadly, it was time to get back on the train south, for the 21 hour journey back to Brisbane.

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Friday, 19 August 2016

Mission Beach - Kennedy Trail

Sunday 17 July

I was spending a few days in Innsfail, North Queensland to spend time with my brother. He loved having someone to hike with, so we managed to cover quite a few amazing kilometres together. 

On this day, we were up early to drive to Etti Bay to catch the sunrise and enjoy bacon and eggs cooked on the BBQ. The previous 2 days had given me sunny, blue skies, so I was a little disappointed on our arrival, with the heavy sky before us. As the minutes ticked by, the sun's rays managed to peak through. Not a burst of colour, but a soft, muted light, adding to the tranquillity of the beach at this hour.

A cassowary arrived thinking it would share our breakfast. We made ourselves look big and she quietly skulked away.

An hour's drive south had us in South Mission Beach, at the head of the Kennedy Trail.

The trail was named for one of Australia's earliest explorers - Edmund Kennedy.

"On 28 April 1848 Edmund Kennedy and twelve men sailed from Sydney Harbour in the barque Tam O' Shanter escorted by the survey ship HMS Rattlesnake. They arrived at Kennedy Bay, but once landed, the party encountered terrible terrain such as mangrove swamps, mountains, lagoons, rivers, and thick rainforest that made it almost impossible to travel with horses, carts and sheep."

Kennedy's goal was to find a way to the gulf and explore Cape York. The expedition was fraught with hardship. In December and only 20 miles from the tip of Cape York, the party consisted only of Kennedy and his native tracker, Jackie Jackie. Kennedy was speared to death, but Jackie Jackie made the final distance to the rendezvous at Port Albany.

Looking north from our carpark, along the length of South Mission Beach.

Southern view.

The 8 km return trail included beach and forest walking, with picturesque island views. It meandered through a variety of coastal forest taking us to beaches and rocky headlands. Much of the path was boardwalk. 

Like all beaches in the north, there was a crocodile warning sign.

I wouldn't have been at all surprised if I had spotted one, dozing on the bank here.

Kennedy Bay - not at all welcoming, even today.

Centre - Bedarra Island
As we retraced our steps, the sun was bravely trying to show its face, bringing tropical colours to the sea.

A type of salvia brought some colour to the shoreline.

It was drizzling at the completion of the hike. We drove to a shelter at Mission Beach, enjoyed our sandwiches and then set off north along the Ulysses trail to Perry Harvey Jetty - 4 kms return.

The afternoon breeze had picked up. The Coral Sea  was no longer tranquil, but ruffled with white caps.

Sitting in the lee of Clump Point, this small bay offered a calm hideaway.

Dense rainforest to the shoreline.

A now familiar sight to me, as local residents beg drivers to slow down and save the cassowary population.

With no coastal sightings of crocs, Jim took me to a high bank on the North Johnson River, 15 mins out of town,  to see this specimen.

Although I hadn't seen the coast at its tropical, winter best, it had been a fabulous day of being out and about in the great outdoors of the north. Midwinter and the temperature was still in the high 20's. Such a shame that in summer, it is unsafe to enter the water because of the deadly stingers.

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