In Life, its not where you go, it’s who you travel with. We leave the drama and attentions seekers to their own little groups and enjoy life with people with goals and an appetite for adventure.

August 26, 2016

MT MEE, QLD

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MT MEE




A day trip in a serene natural setting is for you, D’Aguilar National Park is a truly stunning region just north of Brisbane, with beautiful subtropical rainforests, eucalypt woodlands, and scrubby gum forests. Lookouts dot the landscape, providing amazing views of Moreton Bay, the Glasshouse Mountains, and crystal clear rainforest pools.



Mt. Mee is so close to Brisbane that it is an easy 4wd day trip idea.  Mt Mee is part of the D’Aguilar National Park and only about 15 minutes from Dayboro.  D’Aguilar National Park is divided into two sections, north and south.  The majority of the northern part is 4wd access only. Mt. Mee is a beautiful mountain located in the northern section of the National Park and the northern section of D’Aguilar is often just called Mt. Mee



We Started our Day in Dayboro and entered the state forest at the very south end via Laceys Creek Rd.  We almost turned around before getting to the dirt roads as Laceys Creek Rd is signed as a no through road just before the gravel road starts.

Wasn’t too happy getting stuck a little at A Break, but reversed back and took a different line we cleared it okay. I knew from the two previous trips that there were some big holes at the start of the climb and also near the top.

A bit further on we had another hill with big holes and then a steep climb. The track fell away to the left so it was important to keep right while negotiating the hill. All fine and we made it to the top with no hassle.


We continued through the forest crossing little streams, up and down small hills and driving on loose surfaces. The tracks were dry with little mud. It looked like the rain didn’t make it up there. As we ascended higher up the mountain the view was amazing.

 



We then left the group and visited the Gantry day use area, where there are toilets and plenty of room to stretch your legs. The Piccabeen walk was a short 1km boardwalk circuit taking us through a grove of piccabeen palms.


The Gantry itself is a somewhat bizarre looking structure. A shed like building, it was used to house a massive crane used to hoist timber up from the forest floor. Apparently it operated until 1981 and the saw mill produced timber which was used in structures around Brisbane including Saint Stephens Cathedral in Brisbane CBD and bridge connecting Redcliffe to Brisbane. The sheer size and height of the structure makes it definitely photo worthy and something you definitely don't see every day.





August 25, 2016

HERVEY BAY, QLD

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HERVEY BAY





This trip was four years old, decided to put something together to share.



Ibiza, Rio and Cancun might be where you go to beach part-ay, but when you want a beach holiday that leaves you relaxed, tanned and more energised than a green juice with a double shot of spirulina, give me Hervey Bay any day. I should know, I’ve got more Hervey Bay stamps in my Queensland passport than most. I’m lured by its waterfront views, good coffee and promise of the freshest scallops in Australia.

If you’ve got a long weekend up your sleeve, I suggest you get yourself to the Bay for a serve of sun, sand and seafood. Only in Queensland would a highway answer to Bruce. Regardless of whether you’re coming from north or south to Hervey Bay, you’ll need to spend some time getting acquainted with Bruce in all his tarmac glory.

From Brisbane, it’s 290 clicks to Hervey Bay, but kilometre-counters should note, it will take closer to four hours once you factor in loo stops and snack breaks.

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We checked into Mantra Hervey Bay, overlooking the marina and Great Sandy Straight. Aside from the normal Mantra comforts, we had a sizeable balcony to breathe in the sea air and take in a bird’s-eye-view of the yacht hardware bobbing around in the marina below.

We dropped everything and headed down to the Urangan Pier. Built in the early 1900s to facilitate sugar, coal and timber export, today the Urangan Pier pylons serve a much greater purpose, fishing. The abundance of fish cleaning stations and seagulls circling the pier is good evidence that your afternoon efforts won’t be fruitless.



If you’re not hooked on fishing, this is one of the prettiest walks in the Fraser Coast and there’s 2 km of flat, wooden boardwalk to meander down. We walked around till sunset and worked up an appetite for dinner.





The next day was why we holidayed on Hervey Bay. Costumes on, we headed on the bus to Maryborough for the Maryborough Pub Fest.

IN 2004, a plan was hatched to celebrate Maryborough's 100th anniversary of being a city the next year by combining the annual Best of Brass competition with a 'Back to the Banyan Tree' celebration. Then-Chronicle staff, editor Nancy Bates and journalist Jocelyn Watts, came up with an idea to give the flagging pub scene something to celebrate too - a giant pub crawl. The council including then-Mayor Alan Brown were quick to get on board, and so the World's Greatest Pub Fest was born.


The first event was held in 2005, with 1198 people calling bottom's up at 16 Maryborough pubs. The event was so popular that even though it was originally planned as part of the one-off festival, it had to be run again. Crowds grew every year, but other cities soon took up the challenge.




Maryborough's PubFest made international history in 2008 when more than 3000 entrants handed in their official entrance cards, raising thousands of dollars for charity. MARYBOROUGH didn't beat its own record, but thousands of people still decked themselves out as their favourite superheros for the last ever Pub Fest. Oompa Loompas, Marvel characters, orange angels and hundreds of others lined Maryborough streets to have a drink and raise money for the local State Emergency Service.


In March 2009, New York drinkers managed to outnumber their Australian counterparts but Maryborough smashed the record books just months later in June 2009, with a massive 4718 people officially taking part - a number that still remains unbeaten. Proof of its popularity was shown in 2011 when hundreds of letters that poured into the Chronicle after the council announced the event would be cancelled due to lack of interest from participating pubs. Several more hotels agreed to take part but the council decided the giant crawl was not sustainable and 2011's event was billed the "Last Shout".

About 10,000 revellers turned up, and in the face of overwhelming public support for the event, the council decided to instead expand it to include a wider demographic, by adding a food and fine wine festival, now known as Relish, on the Saturday. The joint PubFest and Relish weekend now forms a major highlight of the Fraser Coast's calendar, drawing thousands of visitors from far and wide.

More than 100 people entered the costume competition, which judges managed to narrow down to just three winners. A group dressed as Orange Sirens won the group costume prize, while the super-sized Super Lego man took out the best individual prize. The No Gary No team, dressed as characters from an anti-smoking ad, won the judges' choice award. Groups came dressed as where’s Wally, prisoners, ninjas and a Captain Crawl. We had a total blast.



The next day was a much earned sleep in to sober up. (You do the math’s, 14 pubs = 14 schooners)  We then couldn’t  resist the opportunity to put the sand between our toes once more with an afternoon stroll along Scarness Beach. The sheltered conditions in the bay meant you can bob around like an apple in the calm water without any risk of Kim being dumped by a wave.








After a chilling day yesterday, today we headed over to Fraser Island for the day. For many visitors, offroad driving on an island where all the roads consist of sand is one of the main reasons to look forward to Fraser Island. Others are apprehensive, yet exhilarated once they’ve negotiated their first island track. Others again are quite happy to take a back seat and let others chauffeur them across the island. There’s no denying it’s an unusual way to get around, but driving on sand in Fraser Island is part of the adventure and partly what makes a trip to K’gari so much fun.






Our first stop on Fraser Island was Central Station. We enjoyed a guided rainforest walk to the historical logging station and meandered along the banks of Wanggoolba Creek flowing silently through lush rainforest. Up next was Lake McKenzie to take a dip in the crystal clear blue waters and relax on the sandy white beach. Picture perfect is the only way to describe this beautiful perched dune lake.






After a nice swim we headed back out to Seventy-Five Mile Beach hit the famous sandy highway of Fraser Island and take the opportunity to join the Air Fraser crew for a scenic flight over the island. We then headed up to Eli Creek and floated down the fastest flowing freshwater creek on Fraser Island or just enjoyed the serenity.





Just up from there we hit the Maheno Shipwreck and snapped a shot of this rusting wreck that washed ashore during an out-of-season cyclone in 1935.  Its rusted hull is perfect for photography enthusiasts. Just up from the wreck was The Pinnacles Coloured Sands. We were amazed at how these hued sand cliffs get there rich colours and heard the Dreamtime story of their origin. All tucked out we headed back to the barge and back to Hervey Bay.





The next morning we headed to Enzos for sunrise and breakfast. Then headed back home to Brisbane.





Fraser Island Attractions

Maheno Ship wreck

The grand Maheno was built in 1904, weighing a massive 5, 323 tonnes. After she was launched she held the blue ribbon in trans-Atlantic crossing. She then served as a hospital ship during World War 1.  Now this magnificent wreck rests on the Coast of Fraser Island providing a portal into the past.  Capturing a photo of your beloved 4WD next to this towering ship is a must.

Champagne Pools 

These naturally formed shallow rock pools provide a popular swimming spot. The ocean crashes into the surrounding rocks and fills the pools with bubbly foamy water, hence the name 'Champagne Pools'. The pools are located just north of Indian Heads, along 75 mile beach and are certainly worth adding to the 'To Do' list while on Fraser Island.

The Pinnacles 

Out of all of Fraser Island's beautiful landmarks, the Pinnacle Coloured Sands are one of the most breathtaking.  Best viewed in morning light, the sands are a photographer's delight. They have formed over hundreds of thousands of years as the elements interacted with minerals on the exposed sand dunes. 
 
Lake McKenzie

Lake McKenzie is one of the most iconic destinations of Fraser Island. This stunning fresh water lake with crystal clear water and perfect white sand makes for the ideal spot to relax and gaze in ore at the magnificent beauty Fraser has to offer.

Eli Creek

Eli Creek is the largest freshwater stream on the east coast of Fraser Island. It can be viewed via wooden walkways that snake around the edges of its immaculate natural beauty.  The swiftly flowing creek is a popular spot for walks, picnics and swimming. Swimming at the far end on the boardwalk can make for a very refreshing experience of a hot day.







August 24, 2016

SOUTH BALLINA TO EVANS HEADS

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SOUTH BALLINA TO EVANS HEADS



Ballina is a coastal town around 20 minutes drive south of Byron Bay, about 90 minutes south of the Gold Coast and just over a 2-hour drive from Brisbane.
South Ballina Beach stretches on the NSW north coast down from South Ballina – across the Richmond River from the main town of Ballina – becoming Patchs Beach and ending at Evans Head about 30kms away.
From Brisbane I headed via the Pacific Highway straight down to Ballina, then drove onto the ferry from Burns Point in West Ballina across the Richmond River to Seabreeze Caravan Park on the South Ballina peninsula.
Another option is to drive past Ballina to Wardell where you can drive over a bridge across the river, then enter at Patchs Beach. If you’re looping back north, you can catch the ferry back from South Ballina as it runs until half past midnight.
I caught up with the 4wd club at the caravan park and we all started to air down and line up to enter the beach at South Ballina.



Entry is  directly either at South Ballina or down further at Wardell and Evans Head is via well formed, well maintained all-weather tracks that provide easy access for 4WDs – though the Patchs Beach entry track is better suited to high clearance vehicles, small 4WDs may find it a little tough.
Speed limits apply to the entire stretch of the beach. 30km/h limits apply to the beach, while you must dip down to at least 15km/h when you’re within 50m of any other beach user – although the conditions may require a lower speed than this, so just keep your eye out for any other beachgoers (or their pets!) when you’re cruising down the shore.


29 cars lined up on the beach for the group photos, the sun was out and it was just on high tide. After an hour of letting the kids have a little swim we headed to Evans Heads.
If you’re planning on setting up for lunch on the beach, you can set up a day camp back away from the surf, Patchs Beach is even dog friendly..


Swimming is recommended between the flags at South Ballina or Evans Head, as these beaches are patrolled during summer holidays. The waters in between are open beaches and tend to have strong rips, so it’s best not to venture in for a swim. Besides, it’s more suited to casting a line for whiting than doing the butterfly.


If you don’t have any luck fishing, you can go for a hike in nearby Broadwater National Park, and picnic on the beach, where, in spring and winter, you might be able to spot whales or dolphins frolicking off the shoreline.
And to see the shoreline from a different perspective than the driver’s seat, tour operators offer horseback riding along South Ballina Beach, as well as other beaches around Ballina.


Evans Heads, about 30 km to the south of South Ballina Beach, is a great spot for lunch or an extended stay.  There is a patrolled beach and access to even more beach driving options on other beaches from here.  Just be careful of the tides, as depending on the day, there can be coffee rock exposed on the beach, making the beach trip to Evans Head impossible.



Lennox Head, just north of Ballina, is a surfers dream, and you can also take your 4WD straight onto a section of Seven Mile Beach – although you do have to purchase a permit, unlike the beaches in South Ballina. (These permits are available from an electronic ticket kiosk opposite the Lennox Head Surf Club.)






August 12, 2016

Travels

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August 01, 2016

BALLINA, NSW

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BALLINA




We had decided to go to the Childer’s Festival, but a last minute change of plans, we decided to head to Ballina for four days.

Ballina is a bustling holiday town and home of the Big Prawn, one of Australia's iconic big things. Situated at the mouth of the beautiful Richmond River, Ballina is also blessed with gorgeous beaches and great surf.

The streets of downtown Ballina are lined with stylish cafes and restaurants, classic country pubs and modern clubs that offer first class dining and entertainment. There are pools, parks and entertainment centres offering loads of fun for the kids, and you can visit museums, galleries, expos and festivals bursting with the vibrant works of local craftspeople. There are antique and curio shops and, for the dedicated shopaholic, a mind-boggling choice of boutiques and designer stores.

The coastline is a beach lover’s dream with sheltered coves, vast ocean beaches and some of the world’s finest surf breaks. The beach fishing is legendary and if you wet a line from the North or South Wall, you’ll be in for a reel treat!!




With a quick couple of hours on the highway we took a detour and dropped into The Macadamia Castle, which has been the area’s most popular activity destination for over 40 years. We then headed back on the highway and over the South Ballina barge to Ballina Beach Village. 



The Ballina Beach Village, Dolphin Bay at South Ballina is a relaxing eco destination and was dog friendly. We were able to take our dog Shari into a cabin.



We unpacked the car and decided to let Shari have a good run at the nearby dog beach. Patchs Beach is located 15 minutes south of Ballina and 5 minutes from the local township of Wardell.  The area is a popular seaside getaway and is famous for its ocean and river fishing with full 4WD access. Shari loved it and enjoyed the open space and meeting a couple of doggy friends on the way. We headed back after a couple of hours and played with Shari in the park, then cooked up and Barbie dinner.


The next day we were up bright and early with a drive to Ballina’s Big Prawn, which is one of Australia’s iconic big things.

Built in 1989, the Big Prawn has undergone a makeover and was reopened in July 2013. It now has a tail, and is situated adjacent to Bunnings Warehouse on River Street.


We then took a drive up to Lighthouse Hill and spotted some whales and dolphins swimming by. After a couple of photos of the lighthouse we headed back to the Spit at the dog friendly section. We saw many dogs running around and playing in the water, Shari was over excited on joining them. We let her loose and she bolted to see each dog as many times as she could. We spend a good couple of hours letting her run, because she wouldn’t come back to us anyway. Finally she tired enough to catch her and put the lead back on and we headed back to the car and into the centre of town so Kim could look at some shops. 



The main street is small enough and with a couple of boutiques to interest Kim into buying a couple of things. We then headed to the side by side main Shopping Centres, but no interest in them what so ever.  Back to the caravan park late afternoon, Kim played with Shari and I took a drive to the south wall. Great fishing spots with plenty of people lined up catching Bream, Whiting.

The next day we headed first to Lighthouse Lookout to spot more whales before heading to Boulder Beach. Boulder Beach can be found on The Coast Road, between Ballina and Byron Bay. There is a gorgeous headland where you can sit at sunset and watch the guys catching some waves in the water below. It is an unusual beach as the foreshore is covered in black, smooth boulders, which is an interesting element to add to your photos. At low tide you can explore the rock pools below the headland which also is a great spot for interesting foreground elements in photos. Generally this is a great spot for sunrise but it can be really beautiful at sunset too. 


We then headed to the top of Lennox Point, Pat Morton Lookout, which had extensive views especially to the North stretching up Seven Mile Beach.  We did a bit of whale watching and dolphin spotting. It is the best vantage point for watching the surfers at its famous right hand break. Many of photos we headed down into Lennox Heads. 

We bypassed the town and kept going onto Byron Bay. Byron is one of our favourite spots and we try to get there at least twice a year.  It is really a fabulous holiday destination for everyone. There is something to cater for everyone's tastes. Although I have to admit when we go it is all about the beach, the pub and the organic donuts!  This is broken up with bouts of shopping for Kim. 


There is nothing better than shopping on holidays for Kim. New shops to explore and you usually have the time to browse at a leisurely pace, while Shari get pats waiting patiently outside. Shopping in Byron Bay doesn’t disappointfrom the array of unique shops and boutiques along Jonson, Lawson and Fletcher Streets, to the Arts and Industry Estate. 


After a few hours we headed back to the car and made our way back to Lennox Heads. Lennox Head is a quiet seaside village situated at the southern end of Seven Mile Beach between Ballina and Byron Bay. It's named after the headland that stands sentinel at its southern gateway.

Lennox Head has a great coastal village atmosphere, with a main street full of boutiques, cafes, restaurants. We dropped into the markets first then back to the main streets for a look at the boutiques. The surfers know Lennox Head for its internationally famous right hand point break, and the hang-gliders love the place for the sensational views when they take off from Pat Morton Lookout. From the main street we spotted the hang-gliders and headed to the lookout.




Late afternoon we headed back and packed up, then next day we headed back to Brisbane. Was a fantastic weekend to get away from the traffic and noise. The soft sound of the waves breaking in the distance made the best nights sleep in ages. Looking forward heading back in a couple of months.




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