Sunday, 19 October 2014

Qld 2014 - Brisbane to Cape Hillsborough NP

Planning for the Cape York trip took some months with having to buy  2 specialist books on the area– Hema Maps Cape York Tour Guide & Ron & Viv Moon’s Cape York Adventures.
Both books have a wealth of information necessary to prepare for such remote area travel.
I also planned to include the east coast of Qld as it was a distant memory when we last visited with a flying visit with children in tow. The Gulf of Carpentaria, far NW to Mt Isa via Lawn Hill, then through central Qld through Winton to Charleville , Cunnamulla & back home.


Being an avid bird watcher, I then researched lists of places to visit to capture as many birds for my life list as I could possibly see.
Pages of word document with sites & targeted birds for that site eventually grew to 15 pages J

By mid April 2014 we set off after both the car & van were serviced & the van was loaded with both winter & summer clothing for the coming 4.5 month trip.

Lake Barambah near Murgon was our 1st few nights staying @ Yallakool Caravan Park with power as ex tropical cyclone Ita was still leaving it’s mark on the weather.




Rod’s intention of feeding us from the resources in the near by dam failed & it’s just as well we had a well stocked freezer. The water was fairly choppy on the lake as well when I tried my hand at bird watching in the kayak.
We also visited 1 of the local wineries -  Barambah Wines 1 afternoon for some tasting & obligatory purchase of a bottle for each of us :-)

We hadn’t been to Cania Gorge in over 20 yrs & back then it was with a tent with 2 primary school aged children.
The 30 sq km park has 70m high sandstone cliffs, numerous walking trails , including the 1.1 km trail to Dripping Rock, 1.6 km trail to The Overhang, and the 1.3 km trail to Bloodwood Cave. The longest track in the park leads from a small car park 500 metres south of the picnic area. This 5.6 km circuit takes in Giants Chair Lookout, with views across the gorge, and Fern Tree Pool, a permanent waterhole.










Wildlife also abound including rock wallabys, bettong & platypus apparently.
I saw none of the above apart form 2 Rock Wallaby's 1 evening.





The GPS had us flying to our next destination of Gin Gin showgrounds. :-) 


We had to wait out a few days in Gin Gin whilst the Easter long w/e was over before we could get a van park over near Bargara & the coast line north of Bundaberg.  
Apparently Gin Gin is thought to be the fourth oldest town in Qld :-)

Whilst in the area of Gin Gin, we visited a few of the areas attractions including Lake Monduran where Rod had another try at fishing for a Barra meal. There was no luck again. The dam has become an international fishing destination which is stocked with native barramundi that grow to > 1 m in length.

Being a long w/e & the school holidays, dozens of families took advantage of the beautiful dam.


We also visited heritage listed Boolboonda Railway Tunnel, 50 kms towards Mt Perry.
The 192m tunnel was hand made with no machinery  through a hill of solid rock & is the longest unsupported man-made  tunnel in the southern hemisphere. Through solid granite, the tunnel took 2 yrs to complete & was opened in 1883 & closed in 1960 with the tracks being removed a year later.
Besides being a tourist attraction, the tunnel is home to 100's of  little Bent Wing Bats.






With the school holidays finally coming to a close, we packed up the van & headed to Bargara
just 10 kms NE of Bundaberg. 
Our "Ocean Front" views were somewhat mixed...safe from the surf, but we still had cloudy skies.


We had 4 lovely nights here listening to the ocean crash against the rock wall. 
The onsite cabins stood out amongst the many caravans in the park. Even the amenities block was  bright pink.


The skies cleared occasionally whilst we visited the usual tourist attractions. We had been here 3 decades earlier, so we had to refresh the memory.
The Bunderberg Rum distillery hadn't changed



New to Bundaberg (for us at least) was The Barrel aka Bundaberg Ginger Beer Factory......14  flavoured brewed drinks are made here & exported worldwide. I took a tour through the interactive display & stood by the bar taste testing their naturally brewed drinks before the obligatory purchases.



It's just as well I love the stuff.....the sugar free varieties were surprisingly nice.

We visit  Hummock Hill - an ancient volcano, that has eroded by the elements to a small hill.
The hill overlooks a flat Bundaberg region as the pics will show you





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That's the Basalt rocks that line the shores.....fortunately there were some sandy patches of beach in the area.

 It wasn't turtle nesting season @ nearby Mon Repos, but nevertheless we visited the beach where the females launch themselves up the beach during nesting periods.
This turtle was in the very informative information centre


Large fungi attached to a tree in the area

Rod had his 1st game of golf @ the local club with a mate, whilst I took off looking for birds in the area. This Varied Triller sat long enough for a few pics.
We also checked out Elliott Heads & Woodgate.


Our next destination was not far up the road @ Agnes Water...we stayed in a park just out of town & it was a great choice as the bird life in the park was alive with chirping from pre dawn to dark.
With lunch in the Waeco we check out the pretty town of 1770. It was still school holidays for the southern states, so the area was busy.
 As we travelled up the east coast of Qld, we came across many monuments that commemorated the presence of Captain Cook during his voyage in 1770.

A walk along the Headland in the Joseph Banks Conservation Park gave us a few lookouts, including this 1.


Bustard Bay that 1770 sits on was equally picturesque. There are  approx 6 kms of beaches in the area.



We also went on the Red Rock Walking Trail south of Agnes Water for some interesting rocky outcrops such as these bays below.



I love the "art" that water creates in the sand

This was indeed 1 of the roads in the area.....I had to stop for a photo of course
We opted out on going on the LARC in Bustard Bay, but I think a much longer stay in the area should be a must for a future date.

Further up the coast was Tannum Sands, a small seaside township about 22 kms south of the industrialized Gladstone. We had a couple of days here for me to do more birding & for Rod to bring his fishing rod out again....alas there was no fish on the menu again for these couple of days.
We were parked across the road from the beach where the tide goes out a long way.


Just to show, the tide does come in where the fishing might be better, but we were on the move again when I took this photo.

I visited the very pretty Gladstone Botanical Gardens & it's Tondoon Dam for a 3.5hr of birding.




We also visit Canoe Pt Conservation Reserve, Gladstone Marina as well as looking at the large Alumina plant on Boyne Island.
 both pics are from a few yrs ago :-)


It was quite a warm day when I visited the Marmor wetlands &  Twelve Mile Creek half way between Gladstone & Rockhampton looking for specific birds, but alas they weren't there this day.
This is a RAMSAR site, ie- a Wetlands of International Importance, for the conservation & sustainable  utilization of wetlands. A few hrs of early morning exploration here would be more ideal than half an hour late morning.

Our next destination for a couple of days was Yeppoon & we picked a caravan park right next to the beach for the next few days. A fence divides us from this magical scene.....but the serenity will not last as 24hrs later we are almost blown away with 35 km/ hr winds blowing sand into every crevice that it could find.


We explore some of the sights of Yeppoon before the gales set in later that day. This photo is looking back towards the township as we drive towards the marina.


The same rocky hill that is behind the marina is in a conservation park that we later walked around.
Note the pillars of rock that are almost vertical.


After lunch we take a drive north of Yeppoon towards Byfield NP southern section @ Sandy Point. The 4WD road / track is quite arduous as potholes slow the pace considerably.
Unfortunately the tide goes out forever - at least a km or 2 & 1 could walk to the Byfield NP northern section at low tide if you had the energy.....other wise it's a 45 min drive inland to get there.
It starts to get quite windy whilst we are here with sand being blown into our faces before we retreated to our car for the drive back to Yeppoon.
By 10pm the gale force winds that sometimes reached 52kms/hr had decreased some what, & everything was still intact...including the awning that we thought for certain would be ripped off the van.....fortunately we had awning stabilizers & corner tie down ropes attached that prevented any destruction.

We left the next morning to stay for 2 night at the above mentioned Byfield NP northern section, 40 kms north of Yeppoon & just south of The Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area.

Red Rock camp ground was a much quieter place than the previous 2 nights @ Yeppoon.
We thoroughly enjoyed the peace & serenity with birds making the only noise here.

The very diverse Byfield area is divided into 3 sections -  NP, State Forest & Conservation Park.
You will find coastal scenery, dunes covered in heath, woodland, forest & rainforest.
Some of the sand dunes extent 5-6 kms inland. Many swamps & rainforest lined creeks & pine plantations cover the coastal range.
Rugged pinnacles of The Peak & Mt Atherton are found in the northern section.

Plants found nowhere else, such as the Byfield fern and Byfield grevillea, thrive in the western parts, while two mall heathland shrubs restricted to the Byfield coastal area grow on the exposed headland.

I'm not too sure why there are 3 different names. Not all of the State Forest section is pine forests with logging roads everywhere for access. Red Rock was in the State Forest section & sits beside Water Park Creek & seems to be an area that is protected pine forest & logging.

We explore many of the roads that requires 4WD to take in some walks amongst the pretty forests.
We also drive part way through the NP's northern section towards Nine Mile Beach, but the track gets more muddy, & the rainforest is unchanging, so we retreat.

At Water Park Creek Camp ground The Bowenia  rainforest circuit protects the Byfield Fern - Bowenia & cycad Macrozamia - both plant species have survived for millions of years & changed little in appearance.




Water Park Creek has a weir near the Bowenia rainforest circuit where the weir has been purpose built to enable the survival of fish species to move up stream  & vise versa. It's an interesting concept & must work as we have seen similar to these being used in rivers of the rugged mountain valleys in Canada.



Rod takes a dip in the waterhole @ Stoney Creek day use area whilst I go into the forest looking for what bird species are there.

After the beautiful forests of Byfield NP, we back track to south of Rockhampton by 45 kms as I had seen on my birding website that an endangered bird species had been recently sighted again.
Only found in just a few known areas in Qld  Australia, Port Alma Rd was on my radar to visit before we head further north :-)
After a 30 min search & asking one of the local workers driving past & I heard & then spotted  my wanted bird the Yellow Chat ....it was worth the 2 hr round trip diversion don't you think :-)

Following our diversion, we again headed north & aimed for a free camp @ St Lawrence, 177kms north of  Rockhampton. This free camp is so popular in the winter season that the park can hold up to 80 caravans. it's just as well we are early in the season & just 30 caravans are present that night.
The reason for wanting to stay in this camp spot was to visit the wetland just behind the fence.



I don't have any photos, but Rod spent $6 on 2 raffle tickets that the camp caretaker was selling, with the proceeds going towards supplies for the amenities block........the winner was Rod......the raffle prize..... 2 mud crabs :-) I'm not a big fan of mud crab unless someone else prepares a meal out of them with plenty of sauce to go with the crab meat.....

After another bird walk in the morning @ St Lawrence we headed to Black's Beach......1 of the suburbs on the north side of Mackay.....we were close to our chef to prepare the crab.......our niece Kate & her hubby Alan were invited to dinner..... at their place using Rod's "caught" mud crab on the menu :-)
Thanks Al & Kate for a wonderful meal & a great catch up.
Rod & Al had a game of golf together on one of the local courses the following day whilst I went birding again.
Did I tell you that our caravan park was next to the beach? We made sure we weren't too close to the water this time after our last beach side views @ Yeppoon turning into a sand storm.


We took a day trip to Eungella National Park approx 70 kms west of Mackay up the range.
the views form the lookout looking down in to Pioneer Valley were quite spectacular.
Sadly I didn't find the Eungella Honeyeater...a bird endemic to this NP only despite many hours searching for it.


Cape Hillsborough NP is just 40 kms north of Mackay. We stay just 1 night here in the privately owned caravan park right next to the NP.
The NP which is  peninsular of volcanic origin is renowned for it's beautiful sandy beaches nestled between rocky headlands. Volcanic activity millions of years ago spewed Ryolite boulders over the headland & beaches.
The views are just spectacular high above the water as we walked around the headland.
The vegetation is quite diverse with open eucalypt forest, stands of hoop pine on the hills & headlands with subtropical rainforest in the valleys.






The local indigenous people lived here for thousands of years before white people arrived.
The pile of shells  is one of a few middens found in the area.


An Agile wallaby

This was indeed  a beautiful national park & worthy of the visit.






           
       well
 It's jus

we visit