A Travellerspoint blog

Dunedin

Edinburgh of the South

We spent a couple of days in the southeastern city of Dunedin. A few things about this pretty area on the South Island include:

🔹The name Dunedin is Scottish for Edinburgh. Sometimes Dunedin is referred to as the Edinburgh of the South.
🔹In 1848, a Scottish settlement was started here; for the next 50 years thousands of Scots immigrated to Dunedin.
🔹For about the first 50 years, it was the largest city in NZ. Gradually the population drifted north toward Auckland.
🔹It has a population of around 127,000; 22% are university students. It is the second largest city on the South Island and the 6th largest in NZ.
🔹There are several hills that surround Dunedin and dominate the skyline; they are actually remnants of a volcanic crater.
🔹It was built on the riches of the gold rush, thus it claims to have one of the best collections of Edwardian and Victorian architecture in the Southern Hemisphere

Mount Cargill

Mt. Cargill is a few miles north of Dunedin; from the lookout here we had a panoramic view of the area. Below, the first 3 pictures show part of the 13 mile long Otago Harbor.

About 6 miles in from the mouth of the harbor is Port Chambers. This is the actual deep water port. Also shown in the background is the beautiful Otago Peninsula, plus a couple of the small islands that sit between it and the mainland.

About 6 miles in from the mouth of the harbor is Port Chambers. This is the actual deep water port. Also shown in the background is the beautiful Otago Peninsula, plus a couple of the small islands that sit between it and the mainland.

This is the mid section of the long waterway that separates the Otago Peninsula and the mainland.

This is the mid section of the long waterway that separates the Otago Peninsula and the mainland.

The city of Dunedin sits 13 miles from the mouth of the harbor, at the point where the Otago peninsula and mainland meet.

The city of Dunedin sits 13 miles from the mouth of the harbor, at the point where the Otago peninsula and mainland meet.

The University of Otago

The University of Otago is NZ's oldest university ( established in 1869), and it is the South Island's largest employer.

The Water of Leith runs through the University of Otago campus.

The Water of Leith runs through the University of Otago campus.

This large University of Octago building houses a rec center and the Plaza Cafe. Attached to the back of the building is the multipurpose Forsyth Barr Stadium. Known locally as the 'Glass House' secondary to its resemblance to a horticulture hothouse, the stadium's home team is the professional rugby union team the Highlanders.

This large University of Octago building houses a rec center and the Plaza Cafe. Attached to the back of the building is the multipurpose Forsyth Barr Stadium. Known locally as the 'Glass House' secondary to its resemblance to a horticulture hothouse, the stadium's home team is the professional rugby union team the Highlanders.

We got out of the rain, and we had a great cup of hot chocolate at the Plaza Cafe.

We got out of the rain, and we had a great cup of hot chocolate at the Plaza Cafe.

Southeastern City Center

The Dunedin Railway Station rates right at the top of our list of pretty rail stations that we have seen on this trip.

The Dunedin Railway Station rates right at the top of our list of pretty rail stations that we have seen on this trip.


The architecture inside the Dunedin Railway Station is described as Flemish Renaissance.

The architecture inside the Dunedin Railway Station is described as Flemish Renaissance.


The Dunedin Centograph is located in Queens Gardens; this war memorial was built in 1927 from Italian marble.

The Dunedin Centograph is located in Queens Gardens; this war memorial was built in 1927 from Italian marble.

Victoria shows up again...this time in Queens Gardens.

Victoria shows up again...this time in Queens Gardens.


This is the Cadbury Factory and Cadbury World. Cadbury came to Dunedin in 1930 to join with a local biscuit (cookie) maker to produce NZ's first milk chocolate bar. A year later came NZ's own Jaffa candy (orange ball with soft chocolate inside) which are said to be NZ's favorite candy. So when it was announced early this year that the plant was closing and moving operations to AU, it has been quite the blow to the city. The Cadbury World attraction will remain open and expand into the factory space.  With potentially 350 people losing their jobs by next year, the headlines are filled with "bitter chocolate" comments.

This is the Cadbury Factory and Cadbury World. Cadbury came to Dunedin in 1930 to join with a local biscuit (cookie) maker to produce NZ's first milk chocolate bar. A year later came NZ's own Jaffa candy (orange ball with soft chocolate inside) which are said to be NZ's favorite candy. So when it was announced early this year that the plant was closing and moving operations to AU, it has been quite the blow to the city. The Cadbury World attraction will remain open and expand into the factory space. With potentially 350 people losing their jobs by next year, the headlines are filled with "bitter chocolate" comments.

The Chinese Garden in Dunedin.

The Chinese Garden in Dunedin.

Toitū Otago Settlers Museum

We have been to a ton of museums, but I have to say that this was one of my favorites. It is especially good considering that it is just a regional museum. This museum has been around in some form since 1898, making it NZ's oldest museum. Now a newer building is attached to a former bus station; it takes up a large portion of the block across from Queens Gardens.

This portion of the Art Deco building was once the entrance to the  NZ Railways Bus Station; now the whole building houses the transport wing of the Settlers Museum.

This portion of the Art Deco building was once the entrance to the NZ Railways Bus Station; now the whole building houses the transport wing of the Settlers Museum.


A large jade stone or Pounamu at the Settlers Museum.

A large jade stone or Pounamu at the Settlers Museum.

The 'Maori Girl' is a former whaling boat that has been restored for the Settlers Museum.

The 'Maori Girl' is a former whaling boat that has been restored for the Settlers Museum.


These Pink and Blue Books were created to document the local Maori (Kāi Tahu) ancestors who were alive in 1848 when the tribes original land agreement with the Crown was made. When the claim was finally settled in 1998, any Maori wishing to benefit had to prove he/she was descended from a person listed in these 2 books.

These Pink and Blue Books were created to document the local Maori (Kāi Tahu) ancestors who were alive in 1848 when the tribes original land agreement with the Crown was made. When the claim was finally settled in 1998, any Maori wishing to benefit had to prove he/she was descended from a person listed in these 2 books.

Octagon

The Octagon is an eight sided inner city plaza in Dunedin. It sits on an incline with a paved area on the lower half and grassed terraces on the top. The main public and private buildings were placed around the Octagon.

With St Paul's Anglican Church in the background, this Robert Burns statue overlooks the Octagon. The poet's nephew was one of the founders of Dunedin.

With St Paul's Anglican Church in the background, this Robert Burns statue overlooks the Octagon. The poet's nephew was one of the founders of Dunedin.

A newer addition to the Octagon, this 1928 Regent Theatre could seat 2,000 people. It has been refurbished, and now it is mainly a venue for concerts.

A newer addition to the Octagon, this 1928 Regent Theatre could seat 2,000 people. It has been refurbished, and now it is mainly a venue for concerts.

A few more stops about town

Baldwin Street is said to be the world's steepest residential street. We barely noticed the climb, as visited with a local who was getting his exercise by walking up the hill backwards.

Baldwin Street is said to be the world's steepest residential street. We barely noticed the climb, as visited with a local who was getting his exercise by walking up the hill backwards.

Here we are at the top of the "World's Steepest Hill." Every year this hill is the site for the Cadbury Jaffa Race  and the World's Steepest Street Party. I was sorry to miss seeing the 25,000 Jaffas that are rolled down this hill for charity each year.

Here we are at the top of the "World's Steepest Hill." Every year this hill is the site for the Cadbury Jaffa Race and the World's Steepest Street Party. I was sorry to miss seeing the 25,000 Jaffas that are rolled down this hill for charity each year.

Speight's Brewery was founded in Dunedin in 1876. There are Speight's Ale Houses all over NZ. The brewery has a popular ad campaign that is based on the "Southern Man."

Speight's Brewery was founded in Dunedin in 1876. There are Speight's Ale Houses all over NZ. The brewery has a popular ad campaign that is based on the "Southern Man."

The walls of several old warehouses, factories, and commercial buildings have murals in Dunedin. This was one of my favorites.

The walls of several old warehouses, factories, and commercial buildings have murals in Dunedin. This was one of my favorites.

Posted by Charedwards 23:22 Comments (0)

Fiordland National Park

The Journey to the Milford Sound

After leaving Queenstown, we traveled to the Fiordland NP in the southwestern corner of the South Island of NZ. We were headed to the Milford Sound for a cruise out to the Tasman Sea. We found that this was one of those days where the journey to the sound was just a rewarding as the destination.

Some of our stops along the Milford Road included:

[bKeas[/b]

This quote from Kea Conservation Trust explains the situation better than I can:

Named by Maori for the sound of its call, the kea (Nestor notabilis) is endemic to the Southern Alps of New Zealand and is the world’s only mountain parrot. These sociable and highly intelligent birds are well adapted to their harsh environment. Unfortunately, the traits that kea developed for survival, their curiosity and omnivorous appetite, have created conflict with humans over the last 150 years. Persecution and predation have sorely depleted numbers and, with only a few thousand birds remaining, the kea is a Nationally Endangered species

Keas like being around people, stealing objects, and eating rubber. We thought this kea must be looking for bugs ( there were none), but a local told us that they frequently go after rubber. This is a juvenile kea, as it still has the bright yellow colouring around the eyes and nostrils (cere). As the kea get older, the yellow slowly disappears, and a dark colouration appears around the nostril and eyes.

Keas like being around people, stealing objects, and eating rubber. We thought this kea must be looking for bugs ( there were none), but a local told us that they frequently go after rubber. This is a juvenile kea, as it still has the bright yellow colouring around the eyes and nostrils (cere). As the kea get older, the yellow slowly disappears, and a dark colouration appears around the nostril and eyes.

Initially, we were the only car at this  Mt Tutoko lookout. When we returned to our car, this trio of young keas were waiting for us. I know they can be destructive, but we found them delightful!! I'm not sure if any member of this trio was involved in an incident at  the Homer Tunnel (pictured below) that occurred in Nov of 2016, but I would like to think that they were! It seems that construction cones kept appearing in lanes of the road by the tunnel. Video cameras later revealed that the keas were moving the cones...often several cones...several times. I think they just wanted the cars to stop, remember they are very sociable and smart!

Initially, we were the only car at this Mt Tutoko lookout. When we returned to our car, this trio of young keas were waiting for us. I know they can be destructive, but we found them delightful!! I'm not sure if any member of this trio was involved in an incident at the Homer Tunnel (pictured below) that occurred in Nov of 2016, but I would like to think that they were! It seems that construction cones kept appearing in lanes of the road by the tunnel. Video cameras later revealed that the keas were moving the cones...often several cones...several times. I think they just wanted the cars to stop, remember they are very sociable and smart!

The Homer Tunnel cuts under the Darren Mountain range at the Main Divide (Homer Saddle). It's completion connected Te Anau/Queenstown to the Milford Sound. Construction started in 1935, but it was not completed until 1954 secondary to avalanches, flooding, and WWII. The tunnel stretches for 1.2 km through solid granite; it even has It's own annual Nude Tunnel Run. The race is for 1.2 km, and only running shoes and a torch are allowed.

The Homer Tunnel cuts under the Darren Mountain range at the Main Divide (Homer Saddle). It's completion connected Te Anau/Queenstown to the Milford Sound. Construction started in 1935, but it was not completed until 1954 secondary to avalanches, flooding, and WWII. The tunnel stretches for 1.2 km through solid granite; it even has It's own annual Nude Tunnel Run. The race is for 1.2 km, and only running shoes and a torch are allowed.

Mt Tutuko is the highest peak in the Fiordland NP.

Mt Tutuko is the highest peak in the Fiordland NP.

It was a "frosty" on this early morning trip to the Milford Sound.

It was a "frosty" on this early morning trip to the Milford Sound.

The Cleddau River has created "The Chasm" which starts here.

The Cleddau River has created "The Chasm" which starts here.

A continuation of the chasm can be seen on the other side of the viewing platform.

A continuation of the chasm can be seen on the other side of the viewing platform.

A view of Darran Range as seen while walking to "The Chasm."

A view of Darran Range as seen while walking to "The Chasm."


Yes, it is!

Yes, it is!

Milford Sound

The Milford Sound is a fiord in the southwestern part of the NZ's South Island. It, along with the Doubtful Sound, and the Dusty Sound, lie within the Fiordland NP. We picked the Milford Sound to visit, as it is the only one accessible by car.

A map of Fiordland NP.

A map of Fiordland NP.

From the shore, we had this view of Mitre Peak before our cruise on the Milford Sound.

From the shore, we had this view of Mitre Peak before our cruise on the Milford Sound.

The beginning of our cruise through the Milford Sound.

The beginning of our cruise through the Milford Sound.

The Alpine Fault is the longest active fault in NZ; onshore it extends some 400 miles from Blenheim to the Milford Sound. This fault line is where the Pacific and Australian plates "collide and scrape past each other." The last earthquake along this fault line was exactly 300 years ago...so it is considered the biggest threat.

The Alpine Fault is the longest active fault in NZ; onshore it extends some 400 miles from Blenheim to the Milford Sound. This fault line is where the Pacific and Australian plates "collide and scrape past each other." The last earthquake along this fault line was exactly 300 years ago...so it is considered the biggest threat.

The point where the Milford Sound opens up into the Tasman Sea.

The point where the Milford Sound opens up into the Tasman Sea.

The boats cruising the Milford Sound like to stop under the Stirling Waterfall.

The boats cruising the Milford Sound like to stop under the Stirling Waterfall.

Here, the mountains vary from fully vegetated to almost bare rocks.

Here, the mountains vary from fully vegetated to almost bare rocks.


We went Orange!

We went Orange!

Te Anau

Before visiting the Milford Sound, we stayed in the small town of TeAnau; the accommodations are very limited at the small settlement near the Milford Sound.. Te Anau sits on the eastern shore of Lake Te Anau. This is the largest lake on the South Island, and the second largest lake in NZ. It is also the largest in the country by water volume, reaching to depths of over 400m in places.

A seaplane at Lake Te Anau.

A seaplane at Lake Te Anau.

A lakefront glass chapel at Lake Te Anau.

A lakefront glass chapel at Lake Te Anau.


This is a picture of an island located in Lake Te Anau that was taken early evening.

This is a picture of an island located in Lake Te Anau that was taken early evening.


There are warnings about this "attractive but poisonous fungi" in the parks.

There are warnings about this "attractive but poisonous fungi" in the parks.

Presidental Highway

After leaving the Fiordland NP we headed to Dunedin. As we traveled along State Highway 1, we came across a 25 mile section known as the Presidential Highway. The name was approved by the NZ government in the late 1990's, as it connects the towns of Gore and Clinton. It was raining so all I got was this picture of Gore.

Gore is known as the 'Brown Bass Capital' of the world. It is also the official country music capital, hosting New Zealand's Gold Guitar Awards. It should come as no surprise that it's sister city is Tamworth, NSW in AU.

Gore is known as the 'Brown Bass Capital' of the world. It is also the official country music capital, hosting New Zealand's Gold Guitar Awards. It should come as no surprise that it's sister city is Tamworth, NSW in AU.

Posted by Charedwards 17:54 Comments (0)

Queenstown and Surrounds

Looking for Paradise

Queenstown sits on the north shore of Lake Wakatipu in the south-western alpine region of the South Island. It is surrounded by the Southern Alps, and it is often referred to as the 'Adventure Capital of NZ'. This resort town recently overtook Auckland as least affordable place to buy property in NZ.

We traveled the Crown Range Road over the mountains to get to Queenstown. We left town by way of Gibbston Valley, following the Kawarau River through the 'world's most southern wine growing region.'

The Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge was built in 1880. We stopped here to view the bungee jumpers and this beautiful river.

The Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge was built in 1880. We stopped here to view the bungee jumpers and this beautiful river.

In 1988, the world's first commmercial bungee jumping business was started on this bridge.

In 1988, the world's first commmercial bungee jumping business was started on this bridge.

The view from the Crown Range lookout is of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.

The view from the Crown Range lookout is of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.


A view of the Crown Range Road, as it winds it's way down to the Arrow Valley just above Queenstown.

A view of the Crown Range Road, as it winds it's way down to the Arrow Valley just above Queenstown.


Bob's Peak overlooks Queenstown; there is a gondola ride that takes you to the top. During the daylight hours, there is a steady stream of paragliders leaving from here.

Bob's Peak overlooks Queenstown; there is a gondola ride that takes you to the top. During the daylight hours, there is a steady stream of paragliders leaving from here.

Sitting next to Bob's Peak is Queenstown Hill; one morning we hiked up here for a view of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and the mountain range called the Remarkables. This Basket of Plenty sculpture was built to celebrate the millennium.

Sitting next to Bob's Peak is Queenstown Hill; one morning we hiked up here for a view of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and the mountain range called the Remarkables. This Basket of Plenty sculpture was built to celebrate the millennium.


The Queenstown Gardens are located on a small peninsula on the shoreline of Lake Wakatipu. This entrance sits close to center of Queenstown CBD.

The Queenstown Gardens are located on a small peninsula on the shoreline of Lake Wakatipu. This entrance sits close to center of Queenstown CBD.


When we visited, they were setting up for an art show in the Queenstown Gardens and along the shoreline.

When we visited, they were setting up for an art show in the Queenstown Gardens and along the shoreline.


A male pied muscovy duck at the Queenstown Gardens.

A male pied muscovy duck at the Queenstown Gardens.


In NZ this native bird is called a kereru or NZ pigeon. Like the wompoo dove that we saw at Daintree, AU, it has the important role of eating large fruit and then spreading the seeds for long distances.

In NZ this native bird is called a kereru or NZ pigeon. Like the wompoo dove that we saw at Daintree, AU, it has the important role of eating large fruit and then spreading the seeds for long distances.

Queenstown sits nestled between Lake Wakapitu and Bob's Peak (part of the Ben Lomond Mountain).

Queenstown sits nestled between Lake Wakapitu and Bob's Peak (part of the Ben Lomond Mountain).

William Rees is regarded as the founder of Queenstown. He was an explorer, surveyor and he was one of the first Europeans to settle here. After gold was discovered, he had to give up his sheep farm, but he turned to selling food and other services to the miners. His contributions to the growth of the area included a timber mill, churches, a hospital, and a hotel to name a few.

William Rees is regarded as the founder of Queenstown. He was an explorer, surveyor and he was one of the first Europeans to settle here. After gold was discovered, he had to give up his sheep farm, but he turned to selling food and other services to the miners. His contributions to the growth of the area included a timber mill, churches, a hospital, and a hotel to name a few.


One of the most famous restaurants in Queenstown is called the Fergburger. There was a long line, but the service was great and so was the "Fergburger".

One of the most famous restaurants in Queenstown is called the Fergburger. There was a long line, but the service was great and so was the "Fergburger".

Glenorchy

One day we drove alongside Lake Wakatipu to the small town of Glenorchy. Located at the top end of the lake, it is about a 45 minute drive from Queenstown. Here, the Dart River empties into Lake Wakatipu, and the surrounding mountains are much closer together.

The Glenorchy wharf and railway shed are located on the north end of Lake Wakatipu. Until the 1960's, there was no road to here from Queenstown.

The Glenorchy wharf and railway shed are located on the north end of Lake Wakatipu. Until the 1960's, there was no road to here from Queenstown.


Jet boat rides on the Dart River are a popular thing to do in Glenorchy, but business was slow on this day. We noticed that tractors are frequently used to tow/launch boats in NZ.

Jet boat rides on the Dart River are a popular thing to do in Glenorchy, but business was slow on this day. We noticed that tractors are frequently used to tow/launch boats in NZ.

We walked around the Glenorchy Lagoon.

We walked around the Glenorchy Lagoon.


On our way to Glenorchy, we drove along the shoreline of Lake Wakatipu. We passed by Pig and Pigeon Islands which lie in the middle of the lake..

On our way to Glenorchy, we drove along the shoreline of Lake Wakatipu. We passed by Pig and Pigeon Islands which lie in the middle of the lake..

Paradise

If you follow the narrow valley north of Glenorchy, you might eventually find Paradise. The name either comes from the abundance of paradise shelducks or simply from it's beauty. Paradise is described as a "rural locality;" and since there is no specific spot, it is all about the journey. The journey involves driving on a gravel road through lots of sheep and cattle land, past Diamond Lake, Mt Ernslaw, to the border of Mt Aspiring NP. It is remote and beautiful!

There have been multiple movies filmed here including: The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy.

A view of the mountains surrounding the Paradise Valley .

A view of the mountains surrounding the Paradise Valley .


Arcadia House sits by Diamond Lake in the Paradise Valley. It was built in 1906 by a wealthy Englishman named Joseph Fenn. His plan to entice a future bride failed; he never married or lived in the house.  He lived as a recluse in a nearby cabin; Arcadia House became a guest lodge run by managers that he hired. Arcadia means "paradise" in Greek.

Arcadia House sits by Diamond Lake in the Paradise Valley. It was built in 1906 by a wealthy Englishman named Joseph Fenn. His plan to entice a future bride failed; he never married or lived in the house. He lived as a recluse in a nearby cabin; Arcadia House became a guest lodge run by managers that he hired. Arcadia means "paradise" in Greek.


We drove across the Arcadia station which sits in the Paradise valley.

We drove across the Arcadia station which sits in the Paradise valley.

Posted by Charedwards 00:01 Comments (2)

Greymouth to Cardrona

Grey Days

As we headed further south along the west coast of the NZ's South Island, we experienced a couple of "grey" days. I guess it was somehow appropriate that it all started in Greymouth!!

Greymouth

Greymouth is the largest town in the West Coast region of the South Island. It was founded on gold mining, but coal mining soon took over. It's name comes from the Grey River whose mouth is located here. We spent the night here, and the next day stopped at the site of the nearby former coal mine at Brunner. We also attempted to see Lake Brunner.

The Speight's Alehouse in Greymouth.

The Speight's Alehouse in Greymouth.

In New Zealand's worst mining disaster, 65 miners were killed by gas in the Brunner coal mine in 1896.

In New Zealand's worst mining disaster, 65 miners were killed by gas in the Brunner coal mine in 1896.

A memorial to the 65 coal miners who lost their lives here in 1896.

A memorial to the 65 coal miners who lost their lives here in 1896.

We didn't see much of Lake Brunner, but evidently it is the largest lake in the northwestern part of the South Island.

We didn't see much of Lake Brunner, but evidently it is the largest lake in the northwestern part of the South Island.

Due to a wrong turn, we drove around this lake for over an hour, and this was our view of Lake Brunner.

Due to a wrong turn, we drove around this lake for over an hour, and this was our view of Lake Brunner.

This memorial in Hari Hari honors the 21 y/o Australian aviator Guy Menzies. In 1931, he flew the first solo flight across the Tasman Sea. Starting in Sydney, he landed his plane the Southern Cross Junior in a flax field near here.

This memorial in Hari Hari honors the 21 y/o Australian aviator Guy Menzies. In 1931, he flew the first solo flight across the Tasman Sea. Starting in Sydney, he landed his plane the Southern Cross Junior in a flax field near here.

Franz Josef

Franz Josef is the name for both a small village and a nearby alpine glacier. We stayed in the village, and we walked along the valley trail to the glacier the next day. Also nearby is Fox Glacier which we viewed only from the lookout.

The village of Franz Josef is about 5km from the glacier..

The village of Franz Josef is about 5km from the glacier..

We walked by multiple waterfalls like this on our way to the Frank Josef Glacier.

We walked by multiple waterfalls like this on our way to the Frank Josef Glacier.

These moss covered rocks were a common sight on our way to the Franz Josef Glacier.

These moss covered rocks were a common sight on our way to the Franz Josef Glacier.

This was as far as we were allowed to walk on the valley trail secondary to ice instability. For the past few years, flying in by helicopter is the only way you are allowed to walk on the glacier.

This was as far as we were allowed to walk on the valley trail secondary to ice instability. For the past few years, flying in by helicopter is the only way you are allowed to walk on the glacier.


Mount Aspiring National Park

We would be in and out of this large national park several times in the next few days.

A tree we saw on one of our walks to a waterfall in Mount Aspiring NP.

A tree we saw on one of our walks to a waterfall in Mount Aspiring NP.

]A waterfall at Mount Aspiring NP.

A waterfall at Mount Aspiring NP.

Wanaka

After leaving Mount Aspiring NP, we drove alongside (or between) Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea for miles before reaching our next stop at Wanaka.
Wanaka is a resort town that is popular for its nearby ski fields and also it's water sports. The town sits at the southern end of Lake Wanaka.

Our first view of Lake Hawea

Our first view of Lake Hawea

Another view of Lake Hawea.

Another view of Lake Hawea.

Known as the “Lone Tree of Lake Wanaka,” this is supposed to be the most photographed tree in all of New Zealand. I guess it's popularity increased after a photo of tree won NZ's 2014 photograph of the year. In all fairness, it was cloudy so we couldn't see the Southern Alps that surround the lake, and the tree wasn't surrounded by water secondary to decreased glacial melt or rainfall.

Known as the “Lone Tree of Lake Wanaka,” this is supposed to be the most photographed tree in all of New Zealand. I guess it's popularity increased after a photo of tree won NZ's 2014 photograph of the year. In all fairness, it was cloudy so we couldn't see the Southern Alps that surround the lake, and the tree wasn't surrounded by water secondary to decreased glacial melt or rainfall.

We were more impressed by this huge redwood tree, in a park above Lake Wanaka, than the tree pictured above.

We were more impressed by this huge redwood tree, in a park above Lake Wanaka, than the tree pictured above.


This is a NZ grey duck hybrid. After mallards were introduced here, there are few pure grey ducks left.

This is a NZ grey duck hybrid. After mallards were introduced here, there are few pure grey ducks left.

This Australasian crested grebe is a threatened species in NZ.

This Australasian crested grebe is a threatened species in NZ.


The little shag is native to NZ.

The little shag is native to NZ.

Cardrona

Cardrona is an old gold rush town that has only two of it's original buildings intact. One of those buildings is the Cardrona Hotel; it was built in 1863. This is another popular area to come for skiing.

The Cardrona Hotel is supposed to be the most photographed hotel in NZ. The long time owner had a rule about how many beers his customer could drink. If the customer was going to Wanaka he could have 2 beers, but if he was going over the dangerous Crown Range, he was allowed only one.

The Cardrona Hotel is supposed to be the most photographed hotel in NZ. The long time owner had a rule about how many beers his customer could drink. If the customer was going to Wanaka he could have 2 beers, but if he was going over the dangerous Crown Range, he was allowed only one.


An old Tesla pump repurposed as a charging station in Cardrona.

An old Tesla pump repurposed as a charging station in Cardrona.


The Cardrona bra fence is controversial, and at times the bras are removed but more eventually show up. The farmer who owns the fence doesn't mind the bras being there, but some of the locals think they are an eyesore.

The Cardrona bra fence is controversial, and at times the bras are removed but more eventually show up. The farmer who owns the fence doesn't mind the bras being there, but some of the locals think they are an eyesore.

Posted by Charedwards 13:56 Comments (0)

The West Coast

Foul Winds, Pancakes and Wekas

Cape Foulwind

When Abel Tasman became the first European to come to this headland in 1642, he named it Rocky Cape. In 1770, James Cook changed the name to Cape Foulwind, after his ship the Endeavor was blown offshore by "foul" winds. We followed the Cape Foulwind trail, along the cliffs and over farmland, to the fur seal colony at Tauranga Bay. Don't you just love the name??

The cliff side portion of our walk at Cape Foulwind had this view.

The cliff side portion of our walk at Cape Foulwind had this view.

Several fan tails were our constant companions on all our walks. They are never still and often would flit within a few inches of us. I thought they were coming close to protect their nests, but I later found out that they are just looking for any insects that human movement might stir up.

Several fan tails were our constant companions on all our walks. They are never still and often would flit within a few inches of us. I thought they were coming close to protect their nests, but I later found out that they are just looking for any insects that human movement might stir up.


The Cape Foulwind Lighthouse.

The Cape Foulwind Lighthouse.

As we rested at one of the vistas along this walk, what should appear but this friendly hen. This is a weka (also known as a Māori hen); it is a flightless native bird of NZ.

As we rested at one of the vistas along this walk, what should appear but this friendly hen. This is a weka (also known as a Māori hen); it is a flightless native bird of NZ.

Wekas are known for being friendly and curious. They like to steal shiny objects. Obviously, this weka thought that a backpack on the ground was fair game.

Wekas are known for being friendly and curious. They like to steal shiny objects. Obviously, this weka thought that a backpack on the ground was fair game.


It is hard to believe that this particular area was once home to a rock quarry.

It is hard to believe that this particular area was once home to a rock quarry.

Wall Island at Cape Foulwind is free from the predators, and a safe place for birds to breed.

Wall Island at Cape Foulwind is free from the predators, and a safe place for birds to breed.

The fur seal colony at Tauranga Bay.

The fur seal colony at Tauranga Bay.

This view looks over Tauranga Bay toward the small village of the same name.

This view looks over Tauranga Bay toward the small village of the same name.

The map of our walk at Cape Foulwind.

The map of our walk at Cape Foulwind.

After leaving Cape Foulwind we eventually found ourselves on the Great Coast Road. This drive reminded us of the Great Ocean Road in AU; we stopped at multiple vistas.

This was one of our favorite stops along the Great Coast Road.

This was one of our favorite stops along the Great Coast Road.

Paparoa National Park

Another stop along the Great Coast Road was at Paparoa NP. In this park our hikes included the following: the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes Walk , Pororari River Track and the Truman Track.

This is the entrance to the Pancake Rocks walkway at Punakaiki.

This is the entrance to the Pancake Rocks walkway at Punakaiki.


These are heavily eroded limestone rocks called the Pancake Rocks.

These are heavily eroded limestone rocks called the Pancake Rocks.

This is a close up look of a section of the Pancake Rocks.The rocks were originally formed on the ocean floor with alternating layers of sandstone and limestone. Earthquakes then lifted the ocean floor up, and the wind and rain eroded away the softer sandstone creating the horizontal slices or stacks of pancakes.

This is a close up look of a section of the Pancake Rocks.The rocks were originally formed on the ocean floor with alternating layers of sandstone and limestone. Earthquakes then lifted the ocean floor up, and the wind and rain eroded away the softer sandstone creating the horizontal slices or stacks of pancakes.

When looking at this board, it was pretty easy to see some of the creatures being formed here.

When looking at this board, it was pretty easy to see some of the creatures being formed here.

This particular blowhole at Dolomite Point, was rather subdued at the time of our visit.

This particular blowhole at Dolomite Point, was rather subdued at the time of our visit.

A view of the Pororari River from our walk of the same name.

A view of the Pororari River from our walk of the same name.

Of course, a certain Truman grad wasn't going to pass up checking out this track! It was named for Jim Truman from the nearby town of Greymouth. He spent two years creating the track in the 1950's. The NZ government would allow no trees or shrubs to be removed for the track; each one was uprooted and repositioned if it sat along the track.

Of course, a certain Truman grad wasn't going to pass up checking out this track! It was named for Jim Truman from the nearby town of Greymouth. He spent two years creating the track in the 1950's. The NZ government would allow no trees or shrubs to be removed for the track; each one was uprooted and repositioned if it sat along the track.

The end of the Truman Track overlooks the Truman Beach.

The end of the Truman Track overlooks the Truman Beach.

We stopped on this west coast beach to look for pounamu (jade) and any other treasures we might find.

We stopped on this west coast beach to look for pounamu (jade) and any other treasures we might find.

Posted by Charedwards 12:40 Comments (0)

Marlborough and the West Coast

Picton, Nelson and Westport

On the next part of our driving trip, we headed to the Marlborough Region of New Zealand's South Island. Located at the top of the South Island. this area is known for winemaking, and for the Marlborough Sounds. We drove through the vineyards near Blenheim, but spent most of our time in Picton.

Picton

Picton is a pretty port town located at the head of the Queen Charlotte Sound. It is from here that ferries arrive and depart to Wellington and the North Island.

The two ferries pictured here were traveling through the Queen Charlotte Sound and then across the Cook Strait to the North Island.

The two ferries pictured here were traveling through the Queen Charlotte Sound and then across the Cook Strait to the North Island.

The War Memorial at Picton overlooks the harbor.

The War Memorial at Picton overlooks the harbor.

Picton sits at the end of the Kaikoura Range. This was the view from our hotel room.

Picton sits at the end of the Kaikoura Range. This was the view from our hotel room.

The female paradise shelduck is my favorite bird sighting in NZ so far. Shelducks are described as large goose-like ducks and they are endemic to NZ. They live in pairs, and in the wild you often hear them before seeing them.

The female paradise shelduck is my favorite bird sighting in NZ so far. Shelducks are described as large goose-like ducks and they are endemic to NZ. They live in pairs, and in the wild you often hear them before seeing them.

The male paradise shelduck is pretty handsome also.

The male paradise shelduck is pretty handsome also.


This muscovy duck isn't native to NZ, but occasionally there is one hanging around. How can you not love that face!

This muscovy duck isn't native to NZ, but occasionally there is one hanging around. How can you not love that face!

This pair of pied shag  were hanging out at the Picton Harbor. A pied shag is a type of cormorant found in AU and NZ.

This pair of pied shag were hanging out at the Picton Harbor. A pied shag is a type of cormorant found in AU and NZ.

The old boat, behind the fence in this shed, is the Edwin Fox. It is the oldest surviving boat that brought immigrants to NZ, and the only boat left that transported convicts to AU. It is also the oldest merchant ship in the world, and the 9th oldest ship (period) in the world.

The old boat, behind the fence in this shed, is the Edwin Fox. It is the oldest surviving boat that brought immigrants to NZ, and the only boat left that transported convicts to AU. It is also the oldest merchant ship in the world, and the 9th oldest ship (period) in the world.

We went to Karaka Point; it is a narrow headland that juts out into the Queen Charlotte Sound. A large pā (fort) was built here for defense purposes by a 16th century tribe (Ngāti Mamoe). The ditches seen here were used for storage;  they are all that remains of this pā at Karaka Point.

We went to Karaka Point; it is a narrow headland that juts out into the Queen Charlotte Sound. A large pā (fort) was built here for defense purposes by a 16th century tribe (Ngāti Mamoe). The ditches seen here were used for storage; they are all that remains of this pā at Karaka Point.

The fall colors in the vineyards near Blenheim. We often saw sheep grazing amongst the vines.

The fall colors in the vineyards near Blenheim. We often saw sheep grazing amongst the vines.

Nelson

Nelson is the oldest town on the South Island and the second oldest in NZ. It sits at the top of the island, and the people here claim to have the sunniest region in NZ. It was not one of those sunny days when we visited.

At the Nelson Saturday Market,  we bought feijoas and Dutch apple donuts.

At the Nelson Saturday Market, we bought feijoas and Dutch apple donuts.

The Christ Church Cathedral sits on Church Hill; it overlookis the Nelson CBD.

The Christ Church Cathedral sits on Church Hill; it overlookis the Nelson CBD.

It was quite the surprise to walk around to the opposite side of the church pictured above. This is what the actual entrance to Christ Church Cathedral looks like. I think this church belongs in a movie.

It was quite the surprise to walk around to the opposite side of the church pictured above. This is what the actual entrance to Christ Church Cathedral looks like. I think this church belongs in a movie.

Westport

Westport was our first stop/stay in the West Coast region of the South Island. The Māori explored the mountains around here for pounamu (jade or greenstone) , but it was gold that brought the first European settlers to the area. However, it was coal that kept the town going; it has more than one coal mine in the area.

The Buller River is one of the longest rivers in NZ. We followed it through the Buller Gorge to where it flows into the Tasman Sea at Westport.

The Buller River is one of the longest rivers in NZ. We followed it through the Buller Gorge to where it flows into the Tasman Sea at Westport.

The Westport sign with a cabbage tree on it's right. This palm is a native tree and can be seen all over NZ.

The Westport sign with a cabbage tree on it's right. This palm is a native tree and can be seen all over NZ.

Looking up the Butler River, from the bridge at Westport.

Looking up the Butler River, from the bridge at Westport.

One of the historic buildings in downtown Westport.

One of the historic buildings in downtown Westport.

The Art Deco style civic building in Westport.

The Art Deco style civic building in Westport.

A  garden around a palm tree in Westport

A garden around a palm tree in Westport

A view of the mountains above Westport as the sun is setting.

A view of the mountains above Westport as the sun is setting.

Posted by Charedwards 20:13 Comments (0)

Winter on the South Island of New Zealand

Earthquake Country

We will be "wintering" in New Zealand for the next 3 months; the first 5 weeks will be on the South Island.

The South Island has had more than it's share of earthquakes in the last few years. The most recent serious one occurred on November 14th of 2016.
It's epicenter was along the route we would take to get to our first destination in NZ, the Kaikōura Peninsula. State Hwy 1 goes along the coast from Christchurch to the Kaikōura Peninsula; it was closed, so we had to take the Inland Road.The Inland Road would take us to some of the earthquake damaged areas: Waiau, Mt. Lyford and Kaikōura.

Kaikoura

Kaikōura is a small village that sits on the east coast of the South Island. In Maori, Kaikōura means meal of crayfish. The European founding of Kaikōura began in 1842, when a whaling station was established here. The whalers soon turned to sheep and dairy farming when the whale numbers rapidly decreased. Now things things have come full circle; the mainstay of the local economy is tourism, specifically whale watching.

As we pulled into this town, it was evident that damage from a 7.8 earthquake in Nov. of 2016, followed by mudslides and flooding from Cyclone Debbie, have taken their toll. We drove by place after place that had a "no vacancy" sign up; as we would later discover, the "no vacancy" was related more to structural damage than occupancy. Construction, temporary metal fences around property, and signs warning of unsafe structures, were common. The motel we stayed at had buildings cordoned off secondary to structural damage. This pretty area has been hit incredibly hard!

We took the Kaikōura Peninsula Walk; it is mostly a clifftop walk that affords views of both sides of the peninsula.

We took the Kaikōura Peninsula Walk; it is mostly a clifftop walk that affords views of both sides of the peninsula.

Fyffe  House is a colonial whaler's cottage that was built by the first settlers in Kaikōura. It was built in 1842; it is unusual in that it's foundation was literally built upon whale vertebrae. It is the town's oldest surviving building, and it serves as lasting reminder of it's whaling heritage.

Fyffe House is a colonial whaler's cottage that was built by the first settlers in Kaikōura. It was built in 1842; it is unusual in that it's foundation was literally built upon whale vertebrae. It is the town's oldest surviving building, and it serves as lasting reminder of it's whaling heritage.

.The rocky shoreline along the Kaikōura Peninsula.

The rocky shoreline along the Kaikōura Peninsula.

The terraced appearance of this hill at Point Kean is supposedly man-made. The Seaward Kaikōura Range can be seen in the background.

The terraced appearance of this hill at Point Kean is supposedly man-made. The Seaward Kaikōura Range can be seen in the background.

From the beach looking back at Kaikōura.

From the beach looking back at Kaikōura.


Kean Point has a colony of fur seals. The males tend to hangout by the parking lot, but the females and cubs stay closer to water.

Kean Point has a colony of fur seals. The males tend to hangout by the parking lot, but the females and cubs stay closer to water.

🐄 Along the Inland Road (to and from Kaikoura) we made several stops; some were planned and some were not!

There is an official day for moving dairy cows in NZ called Gypsy Day. Between May 31st and June 1st, sharemilkers move their entire dairy herd to another farm. They also move their equipment and families. Sometimes the move is by truck, or if the distance is just a few miles, it can be done by the method we encountered when leaving Kaikoura. We drove amongst these dairy cows for 5-6 miles, not sure how far they were actually being moved.

There is an official day for moving dairy cows in NZ called Gypsy Day. Between May 31st and June 1st, sharemilkers move their entire dairy herd to another farm. They also move their equipment and families. Sometimes the move is by truck, or if the distance is just a few miles, it can be done by the method we encountered when leaving Kaikoura. We drove amongst these dairy cows for 5-6 miles, not sure how far they were actually being moved.

As we would find out while driving around the South Island, this is a common sight in NZ. Deer are not native to NZ, but they were released, mainly in the Southern Alps, for sport. Since the late 1800's, their numbers have grown rapidly, and by the 1950's, they were considered as pests. The government had the deer killed, and the venison was exported. It proved so successful that the farmers began capturing the deer and used them to start deer farms. NZ is the largest supplier in the world of farm raised venison.  I think these are red deer; they are the most popular kind to raise.

As we would find out while driving around the South Island, this is a common sight in NZ. Deer are not native to NZ, but they were released, mainly in the Southern Alps, for sport. Since the late 1800's, their numbers have grown rapidly, and by the 1950's, they were considered as pests. The government had the deer killed, and the venison was exported. It proved so successful that the farmers began capturing the deer and used them to start deer farms. NZ is the largest supplier in the world of farm raised venison. I think these are red deer; they are the most popular kind to raise.

iTraveling the Inland Road (to and from Kaikoura) requires patience. Although the construction stops were frequent, the wait time was usually minimal, especially considering the task at hand.  First, there was extensive damage from the Nov 2016 earthquake centered near here, and then there was additional damage from the flooding that occurred because of Cyclone Debbie.

Traveling the Inland Road (to and from Kaikoura) requires patience. Although the construction stops were frequent, the wait time was usually minimal, especially considering the task at hand. First, there was extensive damage from the Nov 2016 earthquake centered near here, and then there was additional damage from the flooding that occurred because of Cyclone Debbie.

Mount Lyford

The Mount Lyford village is actually part of a small ski resort that is located along the Inland Road. As we drove up one of the mountains here, we passed by several log homes. It is here that one of the 2 deaths from the recent earthquake occurred. Evidently, a log cabin fell in crushing it's occupant. We explored Mary's Track and also took the Chrystal Lake Walk.

This light green moss was growing in abundance along the trail to Chrystal Lake.

This light green moss was growing in abundance along the trail to Chrystal Lake.

We walked on Mary's Track above the village of Mount Lyford.

We walked on Mary's Track above the village of Mount Lyford.

Waiau

Waiau is a small town of approximately 300 residents along the Inland Road; it was the town nearest to the epicenter of the Nov 2016 earthquake. Numerous buildings in the town had to be demolished.]

The Cob Cottage was built around 1870; it was constructed out of clay, straw, and tussock. It served as a museum but it was destroyed by the earthquake.

The Cob Cottage was built around 1870; it was constructed out of clay, straw, and tussock. It served as a museum but it was destroyed by the earthquake.

The Waiau riverbed and the hills above Waiau.

The Waiau riverbed and the hills above Waiau.

Hanmer Springs

Hanmer Springs is a small resort town that got it's start because of it's nearby hot springs. It is ironic that an earthquake caused the hot springs to appear, but despite the epicenter being 12 miles away, the area had only minor damage. The experts believe that the rupture took the path of least resistance; this was northeastward toward the coast. We made a short stop here on our way to the Lewis Pass.

The Waiau Ferry Bridge, over the Waiau River, is near Hamner Springs. This is typical of a lot of the bridges we would encounter on the South Island...high, narrow and with one lane. This bridge has been in place since 1887; the original was blown away by a Norwest wind. The bridge was not damaged by the recent earthquake.

The Waiau Ferry Bridge, over the Waiau River, is near Hamner Springs. This is typical of a lot of the bridges we would encounter on the South Island...high, narrow and with one lane. This bridge has been in place since 1887; the original was blown away by a Norwest wind. The bridge was not damaged by the recent earthquake.

Just down from the Waiau Bridge we had this beautiful view of the mountains and river.

Just down from the Waiau Bridge we had this beautiful view of the mountains and river.

The rivers on the South Island generally have wide river beds. Especially if they are downstream from glaciers, they have frequently changing channels and often a braided appearance.

The rivers on the South Island generally have wide river beds. Especially if they are downstream from glaciers, they have frequently changing channels and often a braided appearance.

Murchinson

Murchison is called the Whitewater Capital of NZ. The Buller River and the Matakitaki River meet here; there are five other rivers close by. It got it's start as a gold rush town, but it was almost totally destroyed by an earthquake in 1929.

The Commercial Stables building in Murchison was built in 1890. It is NZ's oldest timber stables; it now houses a vintage store.

The Commercial Stables building in Murchison was built in 1890. It is NZ's oldest timber stables; it now houses a vintage store.

It seems like a lot of the small town churches on the South Island look similar to this one.

It seems like a lot of the small town churches on the South Island look similar to this one.

The Six-Mile Hydro-electric Scheme was created in 1929 to supply power to Murchison and the Six Mile Valley. The dairy farmers were able to switch from steam to electric engines, and the town had its first electric lights. This is believed to be the oldest power station still in existence on the island, but it hasn't been used since 1975.

The Six-Mile Hydro-electric Scheme was created in 1929 to supply power to Murchison and the Six Mile Valley. The dairy farmers were able to switch from steam to electric engines, and the town had its first electric lights. This is believed to be the oldest power station still in existence on the island, but it hasn't been used since 1975.

Our first encounter with traps was along the Six-Mile Matakitaki walk. It is common to have the following animals trapped in NZ: stoats, rats, weasels, ferrets, and possums ( the AU variety). None of them are native, and they have caused several native birds of NZ to be at risk for extinction.

Our first encounter with traps was along the Six-Mile Matakitaki walk. It is common to have the following animals trapped in NZ: stoats, rats, weasels, ferrets, and possums ( the AU variety). None of them are native, and they have caused several native birds of NZ to be at risk for extinction.

These young lancewood trees have a distinctive appearance with their narrow spiked leaves.

These young lancewood trees have a distinctive appearance with their narrow spiked leaves.

Posted by Charedwards 01:42 Comments (0)

The Blue Mountains

Spring and Fall

On our return trip to Sydney, we stopped in some new areas of the Blue Mountains. Our first visit there was by train in the spring (October of 2016); this time we would get to see what it looked like in the fall.

The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden

One of the prettiest stops we had in the Blue Mountains was at this garden on the top of Mt Tomah. It is a cool climate garden and features plants from the cooler regions of the world, especially from the Southern Hemisphere. The Garden has been open 30 years. It was originally a private cut flower farm until the owners gave the Garden to the Royal Botanic Garden of Sydney.

Beautiful late fall colors at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden.

Beautiful late fall colors at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden.


The view from the observation deck, looking across the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden.

The view from the observation deck, looking across the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden.


Another view of the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden.

Another view of the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden.

One of the prettiest locations at the gardens. The rough tree fern on the right is seen frequently in the Blue Mountains.

One of the prettiest locations at the gardens. The rough tree fern on the right is seen frequently in the Blue Mountains.

]A flowering bush that I liked at the gardens.

A flowering bush that I liked at the gardens.


A type of Banksia that we saw at Mt Tomah.

A type of Banksia that we saw at Mt Tomah.

Blackheath

In Blackheath we drove to the end of Govetts Leap Road to find this lookout over the Blue Mountains.
The two pictures below (if put together) would be a panoramic view of Grose Valley, Mt Banks, Mt Hay and Govetts Leap Waterfall on right.

From the lookout, the view to the right is of Govetts Leap Waterfall.

From the lookout, the view to the right is of Govetts Leap Waterfall.


The rest of the view across the valley.

The rest of the view across the valley.

Katoomba

Katoomba is the most visited village in the Blue Mountains. We stayed near Echo Point, which is a cliffside lookout that offers a great view of the Three Sisters. From Echo point, we walked down the 800 steps of the Giant Stairway to the valley floor. We took the Federal Pass trail past Katoomba Falls, and then we climbed the Furber Steps back up to the top. The walk took about 3 hours and my legs felt it for a few days after!

The Three Sisters, as viewed from Echo Point. There was a controlled burn taking place on the other side of the valley.

The Three Sisters, as viewed from Echo Point. There was a controlled burn taking place on the other side of the valley.

Greg tackling the 800 Giant Steps to the valley trail.

Greg tackling the 800 Giant Steps to the valley trail.

The Giant Steps pass near one of the Three Sisters.

The Giant Steps pass near one of the Three Sisters.

The Katoomba Waterfall in the Blue Mountains

The Katoomba Waterfall in the Blue Mountains

A beautiful stream that we saw near end of our walk at Echo Point.

A beautiful stream that we saw near end of our walk at Echo Point.

Our view across the valley as we returned to Echo Point.

Our view across the valley as we returned to Echo Point.

This is late afternoon view of the Three Sisters; the smoke had spread across the valley.

This is late afternoon view of the Three Sisters; the smoke had spread across the valley.

Fall colors at the Kingston Smith Memorial Park in Katoomba, NSW.

Fall colors at the Kingston Smith Memorial Park in Katoomba, NSW.

The Carrington was built in 1880; it's presence was significant in that it attracted the wealthy from Sydney to visit the Blue Mountains.

The Carrington was built in 1880; it's presence was significant in that it attracted the wealthy from Sydney to visit the Blue Mountains.

Wentworth Falls

In October of 2016, we made our first visit to the Blue Mountains. We got off the train at the village of Wentworth Falls. We took the Charles Darwin Walk to the actual Wentworth Falls and then continued on the National Pass Trail.

Wentworth Falls was named after William Charles Wentworth. He was one of the men who led an expedition which successfully found a route through the Blue Mountains.

Wentworth Falls was named after William Charles Wentworth. He was one of the men who led an expedition which successfully found a route through the Blue Mountains.

Charles Darwin stayed in Wentworth Falls in 1836. The Charles Darwin Walk that we took to the actual falls, supposedly follows the route he took.

Charles Darwin stayed in Wentworth Falls in 1836. The Charles Darwin Walk that we took to the actual falls, supposedly follows the route he took.

Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains.

Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains.

After leaving Wentworth Falls, we hiked the 6 km National Pass Trail around the cliff face and down into the valley.

After leaving Wentworth Falls, we hiked the 6 km National Pass Trail around the cliff face and down into the valley.

At the start of the National Pass Trail, we walked around the cliff face pictured here. I can not imagine how scary this was to build in1908.

At the start of the National Pass Trail, we walked around the cliff face pictured here. I can not imagine how scary this was to build in1908.

Toward the end of our walk on the National Trail, we saw this group abseiling at the Empress Falls.

Toward the end of our walk on the National Trail, we saw this group abseiling at the Empress Falls.

Posted by Charedwards 18:03 Comments (0)

The New England Region of NSW

Roadside Attractions "Big" and "Small"

In Australia there are several smaller towns that have some sort of "big" roadside attraction. If you keep the criteria simple, there could be at least 150 stops. Here is a list of the ones that we actually stopped at: The Boxing Crocodile, The Big Jumping Crocodile, The Big Easel, The Big Ned Kelly, The Big Rig, The Big Sapphire Ring, We also saw a few in passing, and as I would later realize, several times we were in the town but missed the "big" attraction!

On this portion of our trip, we added a couple more "big" attractions to our list ( even if there really wasn't a list until I starting writing this). We also stopped at some "small" attractions that were quite nice!

The Big Prawn was saved from demolition, spruced up, and now resides in a sporting goods parking lot in Ballina, NSW.

The Big Prawn was saved from demolition, spruced up, and now resides in a sporting goods parking lot in Ballina, NSW.

🔶 After leaving Ballina we headed to the New England region of NSW. In this region we made stops at the Guy Fawkes River NP,
the Oxley Wild Rivers NP, Armidale, Uralla and Tamworth.

Guy Fawkes NP

This is the valley that sits below Ebor Falls; the Guy Fawkes River plunges off the tableland here.

This is the valley that sits below Ebor Falls; the Guy Fawkes River plunges off the tableland here.

Ebor Falls is a beautiful double plunge falls in Guy Fawkes NP.

Ebor Falls is a beautiful double plunge falls in Guy Fawkes NP.

The upper portion of Ebor Falls.

The upper portion of Ebor Falls.

Oxley Wild Rivers NP

My picture doesn't do the Wollomomi Gorge justice; it is huge! The Wollomomi Falls (left)  and the Chandler Falls (barely visible)  flow into rivers with the same names; the rivers join together near here. This is one of the highest waterfalls in AU.

My picture doesn't do the Wollomomi Gorge justice; it is huge! The Wollomomi Falls (left) and the Chandler Falls (barely visible) flow into rivers with the same names; the rivers join together near here. This is one of the highest waterfalls in AU.

Armidale

Armidale is in the center of the New England region. With it's fall colors, it seemed like a very appropriate representative of the region.

The Armidale School (TAS) caught our attention as we passed through the region. TAS is an Anglican, co-educational boarding and day school that was established in 1894.

The Armidale School (TAS) caught our attention as we passed through the region. TAS is an Anglican, co-educational boarding and day school that was established in 1894.

]

This ivy was growing on several of the buildings at TAS.

This ivy was growing on several of the buildings at TAS.

Uralla

Uralla is a small village in the high country of the New England region. Like Armidale, it has four distinct seasons, and It was full of fall colors.

McCrossin's Mill was restored in Uralla; it was once a flour mill but now houses a museum.

McCrossin's Mill was restored in Uralla; it was once a flour mill but now houses a museum.


This statue is of Fred Ward aka Thunderbolt. He was a bushranger (outlaw) who robbed homes and stagecoaches in this area. He was killed near Uralla during a robbery in 1874.

This statue is of Fred Ward aka Thunderbolt. He was a bushranger (outlaw) who robbed homes and stagecoaches in this area. He was killed near Uralla during a robbery in 1874.


The gravestone of Fred Ward (Thunderbolt) is in the old Uralla Cemetery.

The gravestone of Fred Ward (Thunderbolt) is in the old Uralla Cemetery.

Tamworth

Tamworth is AU's Nashville; it is here that we saw another famous "big" attraction, the Big Golden Guitar. Tamworth hosts the biggest country music festival in the Southern Hemisphere. It is during this festival that the Country Music Awards of AU take place.

Tamworth is the major city in the New England region of NSW; it has over 40,000 residents. It sits on the banks of the Peele River. One of it's claims to fame is that in 1888, it became the first city in AU to use electric lights.

The Golden Guitar sits outside the Tamworth Tourist Center. It was modeled after the Golden Guitar trophies given to winners at the Country Music Awards of Australia; this is why it has no strings.

The Golden Guitar sits outside the Tamworth Tourist Center. It was modeled after the Golden Guitar trophies given to winners at the Country Music Awards of Australia; this is why it has no strings.

Yes, AU's most famous country music star got his start here. He is pictured holding a Golden Guitar trophy. Look at that blonde hair!

Yes, AU's most famous country music star got his start here. He is pictured holding a Golden Guitar trophy. Look at that blonde hair!

There is plenty of memorabilia at the Tamworth Visiitors Center; I picked this Keith Urban guitar as an example, for obvious reasons!

There is plenty of memorabilia at the Tamworth Visiitors Center; I picked this Keith Urban guitar as an example, for obvious reasons!

The Liitle Corella is a cockatoo; it is native to AU. They are plentiful in AU, but the only ones that we encountered were in this aviary at the Tamworth Marsupial Park.

The Liitle Corella is a cockatoo; it is native to AU. They are plentiful in AU, but the only ones that we encountered were in this aviary at the Tamworth Marsupial Park.

The view of Tamworth from Oxley Lookout.

The view of Tamworth from Oxley Lookout.

🔶 After leaving Tamworth, we traveled across the Central Tablelands of NSW. I was surprised to see several cotton and sorghum fields before reaching the historic town of Gulgong.

The grain sorghum fields are plentiful in this area..

The grain sorghum fields are plentiful in this area..

There were also several fields of cotton here.

There were also several fields of cotton here.

Gulgong

Gulgong is a 19th century gold rush town Just west of the Great Dividing Range in NSW. It has over 130 buildings listed with the National Trust; a couple of my favorites are pictured below.

The Prince of Wales Opera House is the oldest still-operating Opera House in the Southern Hemisphere. Built in1871, it may not be AU's most famous opera house, but it is it's oldest.

The Prince of Wales Opera House is the oldest still-operating Opera House in the Southern Hemisphere. Built in1871, it may not be AU's most famous opera house, but it is it's oldest.

How could I resist including an historic building that now houses "physiotherapy"?  I couldn't!

How could I resist including an historic building that now houses "physiotherapy"? I couldn't!

Capertree Valley

As we edged closer to our motel in Lithgow, we made one last stop at Pearson's Lookout. The panoramic view here is of the Capertree Valley. It is said to be the second largest enclosed canyon in the world.

This view of the Capertree Valley includes a lot of land within the Gardens of Stone NP.

This view of the Capertree Valley includes a lot of land within the Gardens of Stone NP.

Pantoney's Crown is an isolated mesa in the huge Capertree Valley. The land behind it makes up the Wollemi NP; it is the second largest NP in NSW. The park is named for a tree species known only from fossil record until it was discovered here in 1994. The tree was named Wollemi noblis after the NP wildlife officer who discovered it.

Pantoney's Crown is an isolated mesa in the huge Capertree Valley. The land behind it makes up the Wollemi NP; it is the second largest NP in NSW. The park is named for a tree species known only from fossil record until it was discovered here in 1994. The tree was named Wollemi noblis after the NP wildlife officer who discovered it.

Posted by Charedwards 16:27 Comments (0)

Coolangatta and Byron Bay

Goodbye Queensland

As we continued our trip down the eastern coast of AU, a couple more of our favorites stops were at Coolangatta and Byron Bay.

Coolangatta

Called the "Twin Towns," Coolangatta and Tweed Heads sit next to each other, but they are actually in different states. Coolangatta is the southern most beach area of the Gold Coast, and it is in QLD. Tweed Heads is the northern most beach area in NSW. Since QLD doesn't celebrate Daylight Savings Time, it can be pretty confusing for visitors to the area.

In the 1950's the Coolangatta Chamber of Commerce had a song written to promote the area. The song It's Hot in Brisbane but it's Coolangatta is kind of catchy, don't you think?

Point Danger sits high above Coolangatta, and below it the Tweed River empties into the Coral Sea. Point Danger has a modern style light house, a Captain Cook Memorial, and incredible views of numerous beaches. In all directions around the point, you can see hundreds of surfers waiting to catch a wave.

Duranbah Beach lies between Tweed Heads and Point Danger. The waters here were full of surfers.

Duranbah Beach lies between Tweed Heads and Point Danger. The waters here were full of surfers.

The Point Danger Lighthouse was built in 1971, and it was the first lighthouse to try using lasers to increase it's beams. This attempt at laser usage was unsuccessful, so they returned to the conventional electric lights.

The Point Danger Lighthouse was built in 1971, and it was the first lighthouse to try using lasers to increase it's beams. This attempt at laser usage was unsuccessful, so they returned to the conventional electric lights.


The Captain Cook Memorial at Danger Point.

The Captain Cook Memorial at Danger Point.

This view from Danger Point is looking toward some of Snapper Rocks on the west side.

This view from Danger Point is looking toward some of Snapper Rocks on the west side.

The Tweed River as it nears the Coral Sea.

The Tweed River as it nears the Coral Sea.


One of the Coolangatta beaches near Danger Point.

One of the Coolangatta beaches near Danger Point.

This is a long distance look at the Gold Coast skyline; this view is from Coolangatta.

This is a long distance look at the Gold Coast skyline; this view is from Coolangatta.

This bird was hanging out by our hotel window in Tweed Heads.

This bird was hanging out by our hotel window in Tweed Heads.

Byron Bay

Byron Bay is a popular coastal town in NSW. There are several famous people with homes here. Although we did not have a celeb sighting, Chris Hemsworth was mentioned on the news for hosting the Matt Damon family. This was before we were there, but the visit made the news because of a hospital visit to treat a jellyfish sting that a Damon child received.

We walked to the Cape Byron Reserve which sits on the nearby headland. Here we saw the lighthouse, and the most easterly point in mainland AU. This is really a beautiful area.

The Cape Byron Lighthouse as viewed on our walk from Byron Bay to the Cape Byron Reserve.

The Cape Byron Lighthouse as viewed on our walk from Byron Bay to the Cape Byron Reserve.


The Cape Byron Lighthouse opened in 1901.

The Cape Byron Lighthouse opened in 1901.

We walked through these mountains on our way back from the Cape Byron Lighthouse.

We walked through these mountains on our way back from the Cape Byron Lighthouse.

We saw this flower on our walk in the Cape Byron Reserve.

We saw this flower on our walk in the Cape Byron Reserve.

The most easterly point of mainland AU is located on these cliffs below the Cape Byron Lighthouse.

The most easterly point of mainland AU is located on these cliffs below the Cape Byron Lighthouse.

The view of Arakwal NP from the Cape Byron Reserve.

The view of Arakwal NP from the Cape Byron Reserve.

A palm that we saw at Byron Bay

A palm that we saw at Byron Bay

If you look closely, you can see the diamond pattern on the surface of this sign. It seems similar to the pattern wasps use for their nest, so I guess that is what attracts them to build here.

If you look closely, you can see the diamond pattern on the surface of this sign. It seems similar to the pattern wasps use for their nest, so I guess that is what attracts them to build here.

Lennox Head
About half way between Byron Bay and Ballina is the seaside village of Lennox Head. We stopped here to climb up to the Pat Morton Lookout; it overlooks Seven Mile Beach to the north and Ballina to the south.

The southern view from the Lenox Head lookout is of Ballina. We would stay here our last night before heading inland.

The southern view from the Lenox Head lookout is of Ballina. We would stay here our last night before heading inland.

Seven Mile Beach as viewed from the lookout above Lennox Head.

Seven Mile Beach as viewed from the lookout above Lennox Head.

Posted by Charedwards 14:34 Comments (1)

The Bunya National Park and the Gold Coast

Bunyas and Beaches

After leaving the town of Kingaroy, we would stop at the Bunya National Park and the Wivenhoe Dam, before returning to a new section of the Queensland coastline. Finally, after all this time in AU, we made it to the famous Gold Coast. Our first stop was at Surfers Paradise, but we also stopped at several of the other beach towns. I picked Currumbin as one of my favorite stops.

Bunya National Park

Bunya NP was created in 1908, and it is the second oldest park in QLD. It is known for it's large number of Bunya pines.
The Bunya pines that grow here were of particular significance to Aboriginal people. When the nuts from the Bunya trees were in abundance, they would have special gatherings that would go on for days.

The Bunya National Park in QLD.

The Bunya National Park in QLD.

The kernels of the Bunya pine cone are on display here; on top of each kernel is a story about the Aboriginal connection to this area. In the background, the tall conical trees are Bunya pines.

The kernels of the Bunya pine cone are on display here; on top of each kernel is a story about the Aboriginal connection to this area. In the background, the tall conical trees are Bunya pines.

The trunks of the older Bunya pine have two toe holes at vertical intervals. The Aboriginal men used vines and also these toe holes to scale the trees. They would knock loose the Bunya cones that didn't fall down on their own.

The trunks of the older Bunya pine have two toe holes at vertical intervals. The Aboriginal men used vines and also these toe holes to scale the trees. They would knock loose the Bunya cones that didn't fall down on their own.

This is a picture (of a picture) of a Bunya cone. It has 50-100 edible kernels inside. Luckily the cones had fallen before we arrived, so we only saw pictures. The cones can weigh over 13 lbs, but the norm is usually quite a bit less. At any rate, they are large enough to cause a serious head injury.

This is a picture (of a picture) of a Bunya cone. It has 50-100 edible kernels inside. Luckily the cones had fallen before we arrived, so we only saw pictures. The cones can weigh over 13 lbs, but the norm is usually quite a bit less. At any rate, they are large enough to cause a serious head injury.


The crown of a Bunya pine.

The crown of a Bunya pine.

When you come to a gap in the forest and see leaves shaped like this, look out! At Bunya NP, there are signs warning about the dreaded nettle tree before you enter the forest. The nettle leaves have hairs that break off under your skin and release a poison. There is no treatment, and evidently the pain can go on for days.

When you come to a gap in the forest and see leaves shaped like this, look out! At Bunya NP, there are signs warning about the dreaded nettle tree before you enter the forest. The nettle leaves have hairs that break off under your skin and release a poison. There is no treatment, and evidently the pain can go on for days.

This is a strangler fig tree; it is over 400 hundred years old. It began it's life high on a tree and it's vines gradually killed the host tree. Greg is standing in the hollowed out part; this is where the original host tree was before it died.

This is a strangler fig tree; it is over 400 hundred years old. It began it's life high on a tree and it's vines gradually killed the host tree. Greg is standing in the hollowed out part; this is where the original host tree was before it died.

Bright yellow fungi on a tree at Bunya NP.

Bright yellow fungi on a tree at Bunya NP.

Lake Wivenhoe

The Wivenhoe Dam was completed in 1985 and serves all kinds of purposes: water supply for Brisbane and Ipswich regions, hydroelectricity, flood mitigation, and recreation. The Brisbane River was impounded to create the reservoir called Lake Wivenhoe.

We made a late afternoon visit to Lake Wivenhoe.

We made a late afternoon visit to Lake Wivenhoe.

At Lake Wivenhoe, I finally got to see a termite nest in a tree.

At Lake Wivenhoe, I finally got to see a termite nest in a tree.

Gold Coast

The Gold Coast City is composed of several beach towns that run from south of Brisbane, all the way to the New South Wales border. It has over half a million people, and it is AU's sixth largest city. It is the number one tourist spot in QLD.

It is also known as the location of the infamous Schoolies. Traditionally high school seniors graduate in November, and they go to the Gold Coast to party. The party lasts for a week, and as you can imagine, there is usually controversy!

Surfers Paradise
Our first stop at the Gold Coast was at Surfer's Paradise. It lives up to it's reputation of having lots of tall buildings. It is home to Q1 which was once the tallest residential building in the world. It was built in 2005, and now there are several taller residential buildings.

The countdown for the 2018 Commonwealth Games has begun. The Commonwealth Games will be held at the Gold Coast.

The countdown for the 2018 Commonwealth Games has begun. The Commonwealth Games will be held at the Gold Coast.

These tall buildings are at Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast.

These tall buildings are at Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast.

The sign for Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast.

The sign for Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast.

The Koala Cat Woman at Surfers Paradise.

The Koala Cat Woman at Surfers Paradise.

The Surfers Paradise Memorial Stone.

The Surfers Paradise Memorial Stone.

A little fun in the sun at Surfers Paradise.

A little fun in the sun at Surfers Paradise.

Currumbin

Currumbin, is a small beach community on the Gold Coast that we really liked. It seems more protected from development than some of the other Gold Coast communities. I think this is because of the steep mountains nearby, and also the presence of a longstanding wildlife sanctuary.
The beach has the Elephant Rock at one end and the Currumbin Alley/Rocks at the other end.

The Elephant Rock is located at the southern end of the Currumbin Beach. The  Viking Surf Life Saving Club was built by it's side, and it has a lookout on it's top.

The Elephant Rock is located at the southern end of the Currumbin Beach. The Viking Surf Life Saving Club was built by it's side, and it has a lookout on it's top.


The Currumbin Alley is formed by the bar of the Currumbin Creek as it enters the ocean. The water is shallow, and the surfers can almost walk out to the waves.

The Currumbin Alley is formed by the bar of the Currumbin Creek as it enters the ocean. The water is shallow, and the surfers can almost walk out to the waves.


Greg is standing on the Currumbin Rocks, and he is looking at the tall skyline of Surfer's Paradise.

Greg is standing on the Currumbin Rocks, and he is looking at the tall skyline of Surfer's Paradise.

This view is looking  down the Currumbin Beach,  toward the Currumbin Rocks and Alley.

This view is looking down the Currumbin Beach, toward the Currumbin Rocks and Alley.

Posted by Charedwards 12:54 Comments (0)

Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast and South Burnett

Back on the Road

As our time in AU neared an end, we took one last road trip. First, we headed north of Brisbane, to both the Sunshine and Fraser coastlines. We had originally planned to visit this area before Cyclone Debbie intervened.

The Glasshouse Mountains

We started our trip to the Sunshine Coast by detouring off of the Bruce Highway to hinterland. We traveled along Steve Irwin Way which leads to the Australia Zoo. Although we did not visit it, this is the zoo that was started by Irwin's parents and is now owned by his wife. We drove through the township of Glass House Mountains on our way to actual park of the same name.

Lieutenant James Cook ( later Captain) was responsible for the naming of the Glass House Mountains. They reminded him of the chimney stacks of the glass manufacturing furnaces back in England, called glasshouses.

A few of the Glass House Mountains, as viewed from lookout.

A few of the Glass House Mountains, as viewed from lookout.

A couple of the "volcanic plugs" that are a part of the Glass House Mountains.

A couple of the "volcanic plugs" that are a part of the Glass House Mountains.

Sunshine Coast

The Sunshine Coast stretches from Caloundra in the south to the edge of the Great Sandy National Park in the north. It is about 75 miles long and starts about 40 miles north of Brisbane. This is generally a quieter and less developed coastline than the Gold Coast area south of Brisbane. The one exception we found to that, was in the little resort town of Noosa. It was so busy we had a hard time finding a parking space.

We started seeing this type of palm at the Sunshine Coast

We started seeing this type of palm at the Sunshine Coast

A school group walking on the Kawana Beach at Caloundra.

A school group walking on the Kawana Beach at Caloundra.

At Noosa Head, it was the brush turkeys on the beach instead of kangaroos!

At Noosa Head, it was the brush turkeys on the beach instead of kangaroos!

Fraser Coast

The coastline north of the Sunshine Coast is called the Fraser Coast. Our two main stops here were at Hervey Bay and Bundaberg. We also spent the night at Maryborough; it's claim to fame is that Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers was born there.

Hervey Bay

It was raining when we arrived in the Hervey Bay but we slogged on until it stopped. Hervey Bay is a small coastal town that is part of the Great Sandy Marine Park, and looks out on the worlds largest sand island, Fraser Island. This is also a base for visiting Lady Elliot Island, which is the first sand cay at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Urangan Pier was built in 1913 to reach a deep water channel.  It was needed because of all the sand here. The pier was used to transfer coal, sugar, and timber between the rail and ships.

The Urangan Pier was built in 1913 to reach a deep water channel. It was needed because of all the sand here. The pier was used to transfer coal, sugar, and timber between the rail and ships.

They don't call it the Great Sandy Maine Park for nothing...sand as far as the eye can see!

They don't call it the Great Sandy Maine Park for nothing...sand as far as the eye can see!

The Botanic Gardens at Hervey Bay.

The Botanic Gardens at Hervey Bay.

The Chinese garden at the Botanic Gardens.

The Chinese garden at the Botanic Gardens.

Some pretty good camouflage at the Botanic Garden.

Some pretty good camouflage at the Botanic Garden.

This guy was also trying his hand at camouflage!

This guy was also trying his hand at camouflage!

Bundaberg

Bundaberg was as far north of Brisbane as we would go on this little road trip. It is a "cane town," located on the Burnett River, about nine miles from the QLD coastline. Bundaberg's most famous business is probably the Bundaberg Rum Distelllery. It's most famous resident was the aviator Bert Hinkler; he was the first person to fly solo from England to Australia. It also has several historic churches and buildings that we enjoyed looking at on our walk around town.

The Buss Park Garden has a memorial to Bret Hinkler. It's surrounded by two famous churches: St. Andrews and Christ Church.

The Buss Park Garden has a memorial to Bret Hinkler. It's surrounded by two famous churches: St. Andrews and Christ Church.


Bert Hinkler was an aviation pioneer from Bundaberg. He not only designed and built aircraft, but was the first person to fly solo from England to Australia. He also was the first person to fly solo across the Southern Atlantic Ocean and the second to cross the Atlantic Ocean solo, after Charles Lindbergh. He died in 1933 when his plane crashed near Florence, Italy.

Bert Hinkler was an aviation pioneer from Bundaberg. He not only designed and built aircraft, but was the first person to fly solo from England to Australia. He also was the first person to fly solo across the Southern Atlantic Ocean and the second to cross the Atlantic Ocean solo, after Charles Lindbergh. He died in 1933 when his plane crashed near Florence, Italy.


The Bundaberg War Memorial is located on a traffic island in the CBD. In the background is the post office and the clock tower.

The Bundaberg War Memorial is located on a traffic island in the CBD. In the background is the post office and the clock tower.


The fountain at Bourbong Street in Bundaberg.

The fountain at Bourbong Street in Bundaberg.

This tree was in bloom all over Bundaberg.

This tree was in bloom all over Bundaberg.

South Burnett Region

After leaving the Fraser Coast, we travelled to the South Burnett Region. This has long been cattle and grain-growing country, but since 2003, it lays claim to being Queensland's biggest wine growing region. We visited the towns of Wondai and Kingaroy.

Wondai

Wondai is small town that was founded because of it's dairy and timber industries. Today, it benefits from being surrounded by several of the South Burnett's wine industry towns. The name "Wondai" is aboriginal for dingo. I'm sure I will remember it for Charlotte!

As we approached Wondai, the mountains of the Great Diviiding Range were in the distance.

As we approached Wondai, the mountains of the Great Diviiding Range were in the distance.


This brightly colored building is the Wondai Shire Regional Art Gallery. It is in the former Staion Master's home.  Appropriately, there is a dingo sculpture here!.

This brightly colored building is the Wondai Shire Regional Art Gallery. It is in the former Staion Master's home. Appropriately, there is a dingo sculpture here!.


Charlotte The Emu in Wondai, QLD.

Charlotte The Emu in Wondai, QLD.

Charlotte's story. Evidently, the rest of the story involves an accident...the details I would rather not know!😢

Charlotte's story. Evidently, the rest of the story involves an accident...the details I would rather not know!😢

Kingaroy

Kingaroy is the largest town in the South Burnett region at around 8,000 residents. The name comes from the aboriginal word "Kingarooi" which means red ant. The first thing you notice, when arriving here, are two huge silos of the Peanut Company of Australia. We stayed here on our way to the nearby Bunya Mountains.

The twin silos of the Peanut Company of Australia (PCA) in Kingaroy. Peanuts have been grown here since the 1920's PCA has developed a new breed of peanut called Hi oleic. These peanuts are higher in monounsaturated or "good" oils and are said to stay fresh longer.

The twin silos of the Peanut Company of Australia (PCA) in Kingaroy. Peanuts have been grown here since the 1920's PCA has developed a new breed of peanut called Hi oleic. These peanuts are higher in monounsaturated or "good" oils and are said to stay fresh longer.

Bicentennial quilt that illustrates Kingaroy Shire history.

Bicentennial quilt that illustrates Kingaroy Shire history.

Posted by Charedwards 04:00 Comments (2)

Central Queensland

All Camped Out

To reach Brisbane, and to complete our six week camping adventure, we headed inland to avoid the flooding along the QLD coast. This alternate route took us south through the central highlands of QLD, following the Great Inland Way. At Roma we turned east, stopping briefly in Toowoomba and Ipswich, before taking up residence in Brisbane for the next month.

Some final thoughts on this trip and camping in AU: I'm not really much of a camper but for this trip it was the only way to go. Because of distances involved, if you want to visit remote areas in the outback, it just makes the most sense. Although no one would accuse us of "glamping," the presence of the AU camp kitchen certainly makes things more palatable for a reformed "never camper" like me. And the characters you meet...that's icing on the cake!

Emerald

Emerald is considered to be the gateway to the Sapphire Gemfields. It gets its name from it's green hills rather than from a green gem. We spent the night in Emerald before heading to the town of Sapphire to make our fortune. We also visited the famous Van Gogh Sunflower painting. It just goes to show that with a little ingenuity, a town can come up with a new tourist attraction and call it the largest something??? I think that Emerald used to produce a lot of sunflowers.

This is the world's biggest Van Gogh sunflower painting on an easel. It is 82 ft. high and has 13.6 tons of steel.

This is the world's biggest Van Gogh sunflower painting on an easel. It is 82 ft. high and has 13.6 tons of steel.


We skipped the digging and bought a bucket of wash. It provided a good two hours of entertainment. We ended up with a little stash of worthless sapphires...still quite fun!

We skipped the digging and bought a bucket of wash. It provided a good two hours of entertainment. We ended up with a little stash of worthless sapphires...still quite fun!

As the man in the background is demonstrating, the technique first involved taking a sieve full of wash to this trough to be cleaned. Once the dirt is gone, you swirl the remaining rocks until the sapphires (which are heavier) settle in the middle. Then you spread the rocks out to dry, looking for anything that sparkles.

As the man in the background is demonstrating, the technique first involved taking a sieve full of wash to this trough to be cleaned. Once the dirt is gone, you swirl the remaining rocks until the sapphires (which are heavier) settle in the middle. Then you spread the rocks out to dry, looking for anything that sparkles.

Springsure

Springsure derived its name from the permanent springs in the creek and gullies in the area. The town was founded because of all the wagon teams that camped by the springs, on their way to the coast. It is a small town ( under 1,000) but it has a lot of nearby attractions and interesting history. It is probably most famous for a rock formation that is said to resemble the Vigin Mary cradling Jesus. Also, at nearby Garden Creek, AU's worst massacre took place in 1861. Called Wills Massacre, the lives of 19 settlers were taken secondary to Aboriginal unrest.

On display In the park, we saw this huge wagon. My picture doesn't adequately show just how big this wagon is. We tried to imagine exactly how much "horsepower" it took to move this wagon.

On display In the park, we saw this huge wagon. My picture doesn't adequately show just how big this wagon is. We tried to imagine exactly how much "horsepower" it took to move this wagon.

I can never pass up the opportunity to take a picture of a Comet. To me, there is nothing that says "outback" quite like seeing one of them!

I can never pass up the opportunity to take a picture of a Comet. To me, there is nothing that says "outback" quite like seeing one of them!

Mt Zambia overlooks the town of Springsure. The road into the actual park was washed out, so we could only view it from below.

Mt Zambia overlooks the town of Springsure. The road into the actual park was washed out, so we could only view it from below.

At night there are lights focused on the Virgin Mary rock formation on the left. Although, we also saw it at night, my pictures show it better in the daylight. That being said, to the naked eye, it is more visible at night. I read that the original resemblance has been blurred by years of erosion.

At night there are lights focused on the Virgin Mary rock formation on the left. Although, we also saw it at night, my pictures show it better in the daylight. That being said, to the naked eye, it is more visible at night. I read that the original resemblance has been blurred by years of erosion.

Carnarvon Gorge National Park

Carnarvon Gorge NP is made up of white limestone cliffs and narrow gorges that have been carved by the Carnavon Creek. It is a remote park, so several large areas requirie a lot of hiking to reach. We stuck to the more accessible areas at the bottom of the gorge.

We walked to a gap in the Clematis Ridge; this is where the Aboriginal people have entered the Carnarvon Gorge for thousands of years. On a small sandstone overhang at Baloon Cave, we saw this stenciled Aboriginal rock art.

We walked to a gap in the Clematis Ridge; this is where the Aboriginal people have entered the Carnarvon Gorge for thousands of years. On a small sandstone overhang at Baloon Cave, we saw this stenciled Aboriginal rock art.

Some areas of the park have these friendly swamp wallabies hanging out. This was the first time that we had seen this particular type of wallaby. Such a cute face!

Some areas of the park have these friendly swamp wallabies hanging out. This was the first time that we had seen this particular type of wallaby. Such a cute face!


The Carnarvon Creek. We did not go to the Rock Pool as it involved wading across this creek.

The Carnarvon Creek. We did not go to the Rock Pool as it involved wading across this creek.

We hiked into the Mickey Creek Gorge. Here we got a glimpse of the white sandstone walls.

We hiked into the Mickey Creek Gorge. Here we got a glimpse of the white sandstone walls.

Sometimes the journey to and from a destination (Carnarvon NP) ends up being just as interesting as the final stop. Along the road we encountered:

No, we did not ask him to move!  We drove several miles through the Rewan Station. A  fair amount of the drive was on unsealed roads, through road construction, and over low water bridges.

No, we did not ask him to move! We drove several miles through the Rewan Station. A fair amount of the drive was on unsealed roads, through road construction, and over low water bridges.

We saw a pair of these birds along the road.

We saw a pair of these birds along the road.

On a flight from Darwin to Brisbane, this military plane was caught up in an electrical storm and crashed here on November 16th,1943.

On a flight from Darwin to Brisbane, this military plane was caught up in an electrical storm and crashed here on November 16th,1943.

The Rewan Memorial commerates the fourteen AU soldiers, and the five US military personnel killed in an air crash on the Rewan Station.

The Rewan Memorial commerates the fourteen AU soldiers, and the five US military personnel killed in an air crash on the Rewan Station.

The body of the American Dakota C-47 aircraft.

The body of the American Dakota C-47 aircraft.

Roma

Roma is located about 300 miles directly west of Brisbane. It is a business center for this Western Downs area, and sometimes it is called the "gateway to the outback." The pioneers of the oil and gas industry in AU got their start here. While drilling an artesian water bore here, natural gas was discovered for the first time in AU. The area has rich grazing land; it also has AU's largest sale yard for cattle. And last but not least, it is here that we learned that a bottle tree is not the same as a boab tree. There is an Avenue of Heroes here that has 140 bottle trees; each tree is dedicated to a local soldier who died in WWI.

On Edwardes St, we found the oldest bottle tree in Roma; it is estimated to be over a hundred years old. It's girth is over 29 feet. Bottle trees only grow naturally in parts of central and southern QLD. They are not related to the boab trees we saw in WA and the NT.

On Edwardes St, we found the oldest bottle tree in Roma; it is estimated to be over a hundred years old. It's girth is over 29 feet. Bottle trees only grow naturally in parts of central and southern QLD. They are not related to the boab trees we saw in WA and the NT.


]The most famous attraction in Roma is probably the Big Rig. This is where you can learn about AU's history in gas and oil exploration.

The most famous attraction in Roma is probably the Big Rig. This is where you can learn about AU's history in gas and oil exploration.

The "real driller" is a man named John Machado; he came from California to teach oil drilling techniques to the Australians.. He stayed, became a AU citizen, and eventually went on to convert oil bores to water bores for the city. When this "imposter" agrees to a pic, he sometimes forgets that it might eventually show up here.

The "real driller" is a man named John Machado; he came from California to teach oil drilling techniques to the Australians.. He stayed, became a AU citizen, and eventually went on to convert oil bores to water bores for the city. When this "imposter" agrees to a pic, he sometimes forgets that it might eventually show up here.

The Lenroy Slab Hut was built in 1893 to house a family of 11. Made of local cypress, only the verandah has been replaced.

The Lenroy Slab Hut was built in 1893 to house a family of 11. Made of local cypress, only the verandah has been replaced.

It seems like all we see, are humped back variety, but there are actually a lot of the herefords here also. Because that is what my Dad raised, the poll herefords have always been my personal favorite.

It seems like all we see, are humped back variety, but there are actually a lot of the herefords here also. Because that is what my Dad raised, the poll herefords have always been my personal favorite.

Our last night out we camped at a free site just outside Toowoomba. At this point, we were looking forward to once again living the city life...this time in Brisbane.

Posted by Charedwards 20:19 Comments (0)

Cairns and Surrounds

The City, the Tablelands, and the Cassowary Coastline

We camped in Cairns for four nights, managing to stay dry and to not have our tent blow away. Cyclone Debbie really had little effect here other than stirring up the water. We had plenty of time to check out Cairns.

A few things about Cairns:
🔹It is located on the east coast of the Cape York Peninsula between the Coral Sea and the Great Dividing Range
🔹The population is about 150,000.
🔹It is AU's 4th ranked international tourist sight behind Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane
🔹It is where most tourists come to go out on the Great Barrier Reef.

The center of activity in Cairns is on the Esplanade that runs along the foreshore. The area in front of the Esplanade that was once a sandy beach, has for more years than locals can remember, been a muddy tidal swamp. It is believed that when a channel was dredged for shipping purposes, it resulted in the mud completely covering the old beach. Evidently the sediment was dumped offshore, and it quickly swept back, covering the esplanade beach. Developers would like to cover it with sand, and they claim that it is an artificial ecosystem that is not important to the mangrove forests. Environmentalists disagree, they feel that the area has been in it's current form too long to disturb all the mud-dwelling creatures that make their homes here. To the north of town there are several nice beaches, so it seems unlikely that these mudflats will be disturbed.

From morning to night, there is a lot of activity here.

On our visit at sunset, the tide was coming in to fill up the mudflats along the Esplanade.

On our visit at sunset, the tide was coming in to fill up the mudflats along the Esplanade.


This urban park was built to showcase the indigenous culture, and to link the Esplanade with a popular shopping area.

This urban park was built to showcase the indigenous culture, and to link the Esplanade with a popular shopping area.

Different colors of lighting are featured in the bunyan trees around the pool (lagoon) area.

Different colors of lighting are featured in the bunyan trees around the pool (lagoon) area.

The Reef Casino had music to entertain us, and a reef feature to entertain the kids, young and old.

The Reef Casino had music to entertain us, and a reef feature to entertain the kids, young and old.

The evening sky in Cairns was filled with flying foxes.

The evening sky in Cairns was filled with flying foxes.

In croc and stinger country, it is always nice to have the option of a saltwater lagoon.

In croc and stinger country, it is always nice to have the option of a saltwater lagoon.

The parks along the Esplanade are filled with these (mostly young) backpackers. Despite the fact that there are several of these large BBQ grills along the Esplanade, they are full from morning until night. I think the Aussies deserve the rep they have for their "barbies"; these impressive grills are everywhere throughout AU. .

The parks along the Esplanade are filled with these (mostly young) backpackers. Despite the fact that there are several of these large BBQ grills along the Esplanade, they are full from morning until night. I think the Aussies deserve the rep they have for their "barbies"; these impressive grills are everywhere throughout AU. .

There are too many kinds of palm trees here for me to guess the name of this one...i just think it is one of the prettiest.

There are too many kinds of palm trees here for me to guess the name of this one...i just think it is one of the prettiest.


This is a view of Trinity Harbor; it is where we departed for our trip to the Great Barrier Reef.

This is a view of Trinity Harbor; it is where we departed for our trip to the Great Barrier Reef.

🌴 On our travels both north and south between Townsville and Cairns, we detoured to see some of the following:

Cardwell

Cardwell is a small coastal town that was devasted by Cyclone Yadira in 2011. It sits about 125 miles south of Cairns and it is considered to be the gateway to Hinchinbrook Island, and the Cassowary Coastline. It was our first and last stop as we travelled both directions between Townsville and Cairns.

This was our first view of a part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park; more specifically, Hinchinbrook Island, which is the largest island national park in AU. The name of this lookout, south of Cardwell , is Panjoo. Panjoo means "beautiful place" in Banjin-the traditional owners of the Hinchinbrook area.

This was our first view of a part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park; more specifically, Hinchinbrook Island, which is the largest island national park in AU. The name of this lookout, south of Cardwell , is Panjoo. Panjoo means "beautiful place" in Banjin-the traditional owners of the Hinchinbrook area.

"A symbol of reconciliation, this flame tree sculpture was designed to stand over 8m high, with water flowing from points along the branches during the day and gas fueled flames that lit up the tree at night."  As Cyclone Yasi devastated Cardwell in 2011, the copper flame tree was bent over at a severe angle, but it did not break. It was restored, and is now also a symbol of the communities ability to bounce back from this disaster. The flame tree is a common rainforest tree in this area.

"A symbol of reconciliation, this flame tree sculpture was designed to stand over 8m high, with water flowing from points along the branches during the day and gas fueled flames that lit up the tree at night." As Cyclone Yasi devastated Cardwell in 2011, the copper flame tree was bent over at a severe angle, but it did not break. It was restored, and is now also a symbol of the communities ability to bounce back from this disaster. The flame tree is a common rainforest tree in this area.

The new foreshore at Cardwell, looks out toward a small portion of Hinchinbrook Island.

The new foreshore at Cardwell, looks out toward a small portion of Hinchinbrook Island.

Green, green and more green, is how I describe the land, in this northern part of QLD. As far as you can see, there are sugar cane fields that stretch to rolling hills and then to the green mountains.

Green, green and more green, is how I describe the land, in this northern part of QLD. As far as you can see, there are sugar cane fields that stretch to rolling hills and then to the green mountains.

The Atherton Tablelands

The Atherton Tablelands, is really just another name for the highlands region that is located about 55 miles SW of Cairns. It is known for its dairy farms, waterfall circuit, volcanic lakes, and for being cooler, and less humid than the coast. After climbing up through the mountains, we stopped at small village of Millaa Millaa which sits nestled in the rolling hills of the Southern Tablelands. This was the start of our the Waterfall Circuit, which included: Millaa Millaa Falls, Zillie Falls, and Ellinjaa Falls. These 3 waterfalls are within a 10 mile radius, and the only ones we stopped at, but there are several others a little further away.

Upon leaving Cairns, we drove up into some of these green mountains, looking for waterfalls. This is a view of the Lamb Mountains in Gadgarra NP.

Upon leaving Cairns, we drove up into some of these green mountains, looking for waterfalls. This is a view of the Lamb Mountains in Gadgarra NP.


This is the Millaa Millaa Waterfall, a part of what they call the "waterfall circuit."

This is the Millaa Millaa Waterfall, a part of what they call the "waterfall circuit."


We stopped at Millaa Millaa ( I just like saying the name) which is probably named for a vine that grows in the area. As this scene depicts, this area is dairy farm country.

We stopped at Millaa Millaa ( I just like saying the name) which is probably named for a vine that grows in the area. As this scene depicts, this area is dairy farm country.

This statue, in a Millaa Millaa Park, is of Christie Palmerston and the Aboriginal guide Pompo. Palmerston was a northern QLD explorer who discovered several routes to places like Port Douglas, and to the Tablelands. As we travelled the Palmerston Highway back to the coast, we basically followed the same route that Palmerston explored in 1882.

This statue, in a Millaa Millaa Park, is of Christie Palmerston and the Aboriginal guide Pompo. Palmerston was a northern QLD explorer who discovered several routes to places like Port Douglas, and to the Tablelands. As we travelled the Palmerston Highway back to the coast, we basically followed the same route that Palmerston explored in 1882.

Mission Beach

Mission Beach is about nine miles long; it is made up of four villages that grew together and essentially, are considered to be one town. The area is part of what is called the Cassowary Coastline. Like the Daintree area, the cassowaries here are also endangered. Here, they run a greater risk of being killed, than up north, because the area is more populated. They can be seen not only in the rainforest, but also out in the numerous banana and cane plantations that surround the Mission Beach area. Or so I'm told, we did not see one here!

On a much needed break from camping, we stayed at this Mission Beach cabin.

On a much needed break from camping, we stayed at this Mission Beach cabin.


Our cabin at Wongaling Beach, faced Dunk Island.

Our cabin at Wongaling Beach, faced Dunk Island.

The sunrise in front of our cabin at Mission Beach.

The sunrise in front of our cabin at Mission Beach.

Posted by Charedwards 22:24 Comments (2)

Daintree,Port Douglas and the Great Barrier Reef

The Rainforest and the Reef

We had to wait a couple of days in Cairns before we could go out to the Great Barrier Reef, secondary to Cyclone Debbie. On one of those days, we headed further north to the Daintree NP. It is advertised as "the only place in the world where two World Heritage-listed sites exist side by side: Daintree NP and The Great Barrier Reef."

As part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland, the Daintree National Park was created in 1981; in1988 it became a World Heritage Site. The park is divided into two sections: Mossman Gorge and Cape Tribulation. We were mainly in the Cape Tribulation section, which can only be reached by taking a ferry across the Daintree River.

The Cape Tribulation section of the Daintree Rainforest is one of the few places where the "rainforest meets the reef," but more importantly, it's age is what sets it apart. It is famous for being' "the oldest intact lowland tropical rainforest in the world". There are estimates of it being from 110 to 200 million years old. While plants and animals in other places had to adapt to the earth's changing conditions, or die, here they were able to live without reason to change. Sometimes called "green dinosaurs," the rainforest hosts 13 of the world's 19 primitive flowering plant species.

For me, the most coveted sighting was to be that of the Southern Cassowary. This ancient bird began to evolve some 60 million years ago; today it is estimated that more than 150 rainforest plants depend on it to spread their seeds. So happy that our "wait" to see the Great Barrier Reef, resulted in the opportunity to see this amazing bird and place!

Our first stop in the Daintree Rainforest was at the Mount Alexandra Lookout. From here we could see the mouth of the Daintree River, and some of small islands that sit out in the Coral Sea.

Our first stop in the Daintree Rainforest was at the Mount Alexandra Lookout. From here we could see the mouth of the Daintree River, and some of small islands that sit out in the Coral Sea.


A wompoo fruit-dove was sampling fruit in the Daintree Rainforest.

A wompoo fruit-dove was sampling fruit in the Daintree Rainforest.


Lily is a green tree python. She has assumed a saddle position by looping a couple of her coils over the branches, and sticking her head in the middle.

Lily is a green tree python. She has assumed a saddle position by looping a couple of her coils over the branches, and sticking her head in the middle.

Greg is harassing the female cassowary. As you can tell, she is larger than the male, and her life is much less complicated.

Greg is harassing the female cassowary. As you can tell, she is larger than the male, and her life is much less complicated.


We were lucky to get to see this male cassowary and a chick. The male cassowary cares for the eggs for about 50 days, and then he cares for chicks for another 9 months. Cassowaries are very solitary birds; the male chases the chick away and both continue on their own.  The female leaves after she lays her eggs, and then she moves on to her next conquest.

We were lucky to get to see this male cassowary and a chick. The male cassowary cares for the eggs for about 50 days, and then he cares for chicks for another 9 months. Cassowaries are very solitary birds; the male chases the chick away and both continue on their own. The female leaves after she lays her eggs, and then she moves on to her next conquest.

A male cassowary was foraging in the rainforest near a creek. A favorite meal is fruit of all sizes, but it also eats seeds, insects, and plants. We did not see a female.

A male cassowary was foraging in the rainforest near a creek. A favorite meal is fruit of all sizes, but it also eats seeds, insects, and plants. We did not see a female.


These signs are everywhere in this part of the rainforest. The cassowaries here are considered endangered; being killed by cars, especially in the more populated areas further south, is a big problem.

These signs are everywhere in this part of the rainforest. The cassowaries here are considered endangered; being killed by cars, especially in the more populated areas further south, is a big problem.

The Daintree has lots of areas of very thick rainforest. You see why there is still the potential to discover new "old" plants here.

The Daintree has lots of areas of very thick rainforest. You see why there is still the potential to discover new "old" plants here.

There is a small area at Daintree called the Valley of the Palms. It is filled with these fan palms.

There is a small area at Daintree called the Valley of the Palms. It is filled with these fan palms.

A peek into one area of the Daintree Rainforest.

A peek into one area of the Daintree Rainforest.

Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation was named by Lieutenant James Cook in 1770. After his ship ran into a part of the Great Barrier Reef near here, he wrote: "I name this point Cape Tribulation, because here began all my troubles". The section of the reef that his ship hit is now called the Endeavor Reef; it was named for Cook's boat, the HMS Endeavour.

While standing on Cape Tribulation Beach, we were looking out toward the Great Barrier Reef. The Endeavor Reef section is a little north of here. This is also a good example of where the reef and rainforest meet.

While standing on Cape Tribulation Beach, we were looking out toward the Great Barrier Reef. The Endeavor Reef section is a little north of here. This is also a good example of where the reef and rainforest meet.

To get to the Cape Tribulation section of Daintree National Park, we took a short ferry ride across the Daintree River.

To get to the Cape Tribulation section of Daintree National Park, we took a short ferry ride across the Daintree River.

Port Douglas

Port Douglas was originally an important port for the nearby gold and tin fields. Most of the buildings were destroyed in a cyclone in 1911. It remained a sleepy little fishing village until tourism started here in the 1970's. It gradually ecame a base for trips to the Daintree NP and Great Barrier Reef, and by the late 1980's, resorts were being built here. It is now a popular resort town. In 1996, the Clintons stayed here on their only presidential visit to AU, and Bill Clinton was staying here in 2001, when he learned about the 9/11 attacks.

I didn't find out the name of this interesting tree in (Anzac Park) Rex Smeal Park.

I didn't find out the name of this interesting tree in (Anzac Park) Rex Smeal Park.


Rex Smeal Park is located at the point of the Port Douglas peninsula.

Rex Smeal Park is located at the point of the Port Douglas peninsula.


The Anzac War Memorial in Port Douglas..

The Anzac War Memorial in Port Douglas..


Some of the shops we saw, while walking along Macrossan St, in Port Douglas, QLD.

Some of the shops we saw, while walking along Macrossan St, in Port Douglas, QLD.

I could probably live here...that is, if the cyclones stayed away,

I could probably live here...that is, if the cyclones stayed away,

The 20 mile journey to Cape Tribulation is on a narrow winding road. There was no road here until 1962, and the current one was not sealed until 2002. If you want to go past Cape Tribulation Beach, a 4WD is required.

The 20 mile journey to Cape Tribulation is on a narrow winding road. There was no road here until 1962, and the current one was not sealed until 2002. If you want to go past Cape Tribulation Beach, a 4WD is required.

The Great Barrier Reef

We had to wait for 3 days to go out to the Great Barrier Reef because of Cyclone Debbie. It was still fairly choppy, and I suspect that the visibility wasn't quite as good, but it was beautiful nonetheless. Our catamaran took us to the part of the reef that surrounds the Michaelmus Cay. This is a vegetated sand cay with a seabird sanctuary. Normally, going to the sand cay is also a part of the reef experience, but on this day the waters were too rough.

From this vantage point, it is easy to see where the Great Barrier Reef begins, but once in the water, you can see no difference in the water color.

From this vantage point, it is easy to see where the Great Barrier Reef begins, but once in the water, you can see no difference in the water color.


In all our glory...most people opted for lycra suits, as there are stingers in these waters.

In all our glory...most people opted for lycra suits, as there are stingers in these waters.

Besides snorkeling at the Reef, we also rode in this semi-submersible. It provides a deeper view of the coral gardens, but at least on this day, the view wasn't as clear as the one I had when snorkeling.

Besides snorkeling at the Reef, we also rode in this semi-submersible. It provides a deeper view of the coral gardens, but at least on this day, the view wasn't as clear as the one I had when snorkeling.

We are heading home...the Cairns shoreline is in the background.It was about a 90 minute trip out to the Michaelmus Cay.

We are heading home...the Cairns shoreline is in the background.It was about a 90 minute trip out to the Michaelmus Cay.

The Ocean Spirit is a 32 meter catamaran.

The Ocean Spirit is a 32 meter catamaran.

Posted by Charedwards 16:35 Comments (1)

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