Tag Archives: Australia

Snorkeling The Great Barrier Reef

Unfortunately as the weather turned bad we decided to skip Atherton Tablelands and drove from Paronella Park straight to Cairns. Apparently they have have a really late wet season up this way we’ve been told by every tour guide, receptionist, tourists e.t.c.  The four days we were in Cairns it rained and rained and rained. For the first three days we sat in the camp kitchen at our Caravan Park and played on the internet.

We really, really wanted to go snorkelling so on the 4th day we went out on the boat, regardless of the weather.

The ride out to the reef was horrible with at least 75% of the boat puking out the back deck, Johny included. Thankfully the outer reef was calm and visibility was pretty good. Here are some of the pics I took with the underwater camera we hired.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The dive company we went with was Down Under Dive who were just fantastic. They had free sea sick tablets, really friendly and entertaining staff, well organised and monitored dives and snorkeling and great value for money!

Note 1: Cairns Holiday Park is the closest to the CBD; however it’s full of backpackers. Usually this wouldn’t worry me except when they are obnoxious, messy, rude, slamming doors and screaming at 3am. We had to be moved into the powered (and much nicer) section of the caravan park for 2 of the 4 days.

Note: we hired the camera at the caravan park. Quality turned out to be fairly average and I’ve had to enhance these pics. There were more expensive cameras on the boat for hire and the quality of their pics was way better.

Through the Ruins of Paronella Park

The Tea Rooms, Paronella Park

The Tea Rooms, Paronella Park

José Paronella arrived in Australia from Catalonia in Spain, in 1913. In 1929, after spending a number of years in Australia, José purchased 13 acres in 1929 and started to build his pleasure gardens and reception centre for the enjoyment of the public.

there was a waterfall, hydro electricity, tea rooms, a castle, a ballroom, swimming pool and over 7000 tropical plants in the extensive garden, all built by José.

A view from the Falls at the front of the Park. On the left is the castle and at the bottom left is the hydro plant

A view from the Falls at the front of the Park. On the left is the castle and at the bottom left is the hydro plant

Unfortunately there was a flood and then soon after José died of stomach cancer, his wife died some years later and his son as well. His son’s wife was left to run the park and in 1977 she sold it.

Sadly, in 1979, a fire swept through the Castle. There were a number of cyclones and floods in the following years and the park fell into ruin.

A pic from the night tour, this is the castle

A pic from the night tour, this is the castle

In 1993 the current owners found the park, bought it and work on maintaining and preserving, rather than rebuilding.

The park has won a number of awards and it’s easy to see why.

We purchased our tickets through RACQ for a 10% discount so it was about $39 each. This includes entry into the park, a day tour, a night tour and 1 nights accommodation in their campground and your ticket is valid for entry up to 24 months. Really it was great value.

The park itself is just stunning! I was able to get some lovely daytime and night time shots.

The Tea Rooms

The Tea Rooms

We loved our time here! The guides were fantastic and the staff in the cafe/reception were amazing. The park is beautiful and a truly unique attraction in FNQ.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

A Walk Through Townsville

The day after our trip to Maggie Island I took a half-day off to myself without the Mr. We were staying in Rowes Bay so I walked along the boardwalk to Kissing Point and into the Strand.

Rowes Bay

Rowes Bay

The Council had really excelled in the design of the facilities along the bay to the city. There are lovely parks, a brand new wooden boardwalk, local artist installations, mainly relating to Aboriginal culture, an outdoor museum at kissing point and then the Strand. It really was a stunning walk.

Castle Hill from Kissing Point

Castle Hill from Kissing Point

I was so invigorated that I decided to walk the track up Castle Hill. Just for some context, I was on my own, it was really hot, I had no water. The climb was hell! But the views at the top were worth it!

Magnetic Island View from Castle Hill

Magnetic Island View from Castle Hill

Then I did the very thing that everyone should do after a long hard walk, I walked to the brewery and had a beer or two at Townsville Brewery.

This walk was definitely the highlight of my time in Townsville!

The island affectionately known as “Maggie”

Magnetic Island, Townsville

Magnetic Island, Townsville

From Mackay we continued northward to Townsville. We did stop along the way at Bowen and took a couple of pics with the big mango. A local news crew accosted us on the way back to the car and asked us some questions about what we thought of the local area from a tourist’s perspective. Having not prepared for the interview and not seen anything of the local area, our responses were somewhat lacking and rather embarrassing ‘cringe!’

Anyway we arrived in Townsville and we did a day trip over to Magnetic Island, also known by the locals as “Maggie”.

We found that as we are RACQ members we were able to get a 10% discount off the ferry to Maggie, bargain! We caught the early ferry across and waited until the car hire place opened. We wanted a Moke to get around the island, but they were really expensive so we hired the Topless instead.

Me in a Topless, Magnetic Island

Me in a Topless, Magnetic Island

Picnic Bay Wharf

Picnic Bay Wharf

The island is only 12kms long so we drove From Nelly Bay down to Horseshoe Bay to see if there was any good snorkeling to be had. Unfortunately there was a strong breeze and the lifeguards told us that there probably wouldn’t be any decent snorkeling that day.

Undeterred we drove down to Picnic Bay, changed into our snorkeling gear and attempted to go in. Dammit, the lifeguards were right, we could barely see a metre in front.

So we had a quick stop off at the local museum and the island’s memorial park and drove back to Horseshoe Bay for some lunch.

Lunch at the local pub was lovely and after a quick lie down on the beach we drove back to the ferry and called it a day.

A Day Trip to The Land of The Clouds

After 6 glorious days we left Byfield and resumed our journey north to Mackay.

From this point forward we will be staying in caravan parks. I’ve never been up this far north and I want to spend some time in the larger towns. Unfortunately you don’t find free camps in bigger towns/cities so we have to stay in caravan parks for ease of access.

Anyway, the next stop was Mackay. I spent a couple of hours in Mackay CBD and while the historic building trail I was following was very interesting, the town itself was pretty average.

On one of the days we drove out to the Mackay hinterland, to Finch Hatton Gorge and Eungella National park / Township.

Finch Hatton Gorge is a beautiful secluded section of Eungella National Park. We did the short 1 hour walk to the Araluen Cascade Falls. On the way back we came across our first snake, a tiny baby black. We stamped and banged the ground and it slowly slithered away.

Araluen Cascade Falls

Araluen Cascade Falls

Eungella means “Land of the Clouds” and the township definitely embodies this being 1280m at its zenith. The drive up the mountain is not for the faint hearted, thankfully we weren’t towing at the time. It is the oldest and longest stretch of subtropical rainforest in Australia and it’s been cut off from other rainforests for roughly 30,000 years. This has guaranteed that there are a number of strange critters not found anywhere else in the world.

We did a couple of very short stops at lookouts around Eungella.

View from Sky Window Lookout

View from Sky Window Lookout, Eungella

A walk around the Historic Eungella Chalet where the backyard looks out over a cliff and a number of random woodcarvings have been placed.

Wooden carvings on the lawn outside of Eungella Chalet

Wooden carvings on the lawn outside of Eungella Chalet

Then through the cane fields, with stunning mountainous backdrops, back to our campsite.

Cane fields with mountains in the background

Cane fields with mountains in the background

Exploring Five Rocks Headland

Looking behind us towards Stockyard Point

Looking behind us towards Stockyard Point

At about midday the tide was going out, so armed with our wet suit boots, drink bottles and a camera we traversed the rocky crop on the north side of Little Five Rocks Beach.

Yesterday during our exploratory trip to Stockyard Point Lookout we could see that there was another tiny remote beach. A quick check of the maps confirms this to be the case. So with a hop, skip and a jump were on the second beach.

From here we weren’t able to positively ascertain whether or not we would be able to reach the headland. The rocks were all different sizes and we couldn’t see if there were any obstacles that might stop us from getting across. We decided that the only way we would find out is by attempting it, then we could always turn back if we got stuck.

Climbing over the rocks

Climbing over the rocks

Over, across and through the rocky outcrop we went for about 30 minutes and finally we came to the channel separately us from the headlands. On the other side of the rocks was another perfectly remote beach.

The channel separating us from the start of the headland

The channel separating us from the start of the headland

As the tide was nearly at its lowest point, we were able to walk the short distance to start of the headland. It soon became apparent that the headland is actually separated by small channels. We traversed 3 channels, about half way along, before calling it a day and turning back around to our campsite.

Back onto Little Five Rocks Beach. When the tide is out there is a huge sand plain

Back onto Little Five Rocks Beach. When the tide is out there is a huge sand plain

The View From Up Here – Stockyard Point

The little township of Stockyard Point is named after Stockyard Point, which makes sense. Stockyard Point, the lookout, is a short 1 minute drive on the outside of the township.

One of the days we were exploring Byfield, we drove up to the Point and found that we had phone reception, everyday for the remainder of our visit we drove up there to get our technology fix. Besides the phone reception, we had the most stunning uninterrupted views of the coastline.

To the left of us was Little Five Rocks Headland and our own private beach.

Little Five Rocks Headland

Little Five Rocks Headland

To the right was Nine Mile Beach. As a side note, we drove along Nine Mile on our explorations. I really don’t rate the beach, it was scummy, full of rubbish, barren and obviously used for driving only. But, from up high it looks lovely.

View of Nine Mile Beach

View of Nine Mile Beach

In my previous posts, I mentioned that near our campground there was a corridor of butterflies, well, we found more at Stockyard Point!

More beautiful butterflies

More beautiful butterflies

Off the man made track we found a couple of memorial plaques. Both men died in 2005 in different months, one was definitely in an accident in Byfield and the other memorial plaque had no explanation.

Stockyard Point, what a great view from here!

Memorial Plaque

Memorial Plaque

Byfield National Park Stockyard Point_A Girl A 4WD And A Trailer-18-2

Second memorial plaque