Tag Archives: Queensland

Noosa and Australia Zoo, August 2003

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Noosa Heads

After spending a very relaxing few days in Mission Beach, we continued in our hired motorhome further down south towards Noosa, on the aptly names Sunshine Coast, where the parents of a good friend or ours had kindly offered us the use of their apartment in for 6 days.

Noosa from boardwalk in National Park

 

Noosa turned out to be a lot busier and more up market than the previous towns we had visited in Queensland, with a generous array of shops and restaurants, especially in Hastings Street, and a very lively nightlife.  We particularly enjoyed our evening at Bistro C, where we had perhaps the best meal of our holiday so far.

 

The Board walk through the National Park

 

We loved the sunny beach and the boardwalk to the National Park, where we admired the koala bears on the gum trees and some weird-looking spiders from a safe distance.

 

Look carefully and you'll see Koala in gum tree

 

It was from just across the rear of the apartment that we caught the Australia Zoo official bus to take us to the zoo itself in Beerwah.  During the 40-minute journey, we were treated to a video of the charismatic and one-and-only Steve Irwin, also known as The Crocodile Hunter, whom we were hoping to catch a glimpse of during our visit.

 

Young Peter trying to fill in some big shoes

 

Once at the zoo we were told that unfortunately Steve was out filming that day, but we didn’t have much time to be disappointed as, once again, the very well trained and professional staff at the zoo made this day another memorable experience.  We, of course, enjoyed the awe-inspiring crocodile feeding time show, as well as the pythons and the dingoes.  We also met Harriet, the 172-year-old Giant Galapagos Land Tortoise, and an albino kangaroo with blue eyes and its joey, to little Peter’s delight, as we were allowed to go right to them and feed them the food we were given by their carers.  It was here that we took one of the most endearing photos of the holiday, with mummy kangaroo sprucing up her baby: something that one doesn’t get to see everyday, even in Australia, I should imagine.

 

Feeding time at the Zoo: crocodile show

 

Harriet, the oldest tortoise in the world, 173 years old

 

Feeding the kangaroos

 

The albino kangaroo and her joey

 

Getting close to the kangaroos

I would like to use this blog entry to pay my respects to the late Steve Irwin for all the wonderful work he did for nature and conservation.  If passion for wild life had a name it would be Steve Irwin.  I had never heard of him or seen him until I took my son to the cinema to see the film Crocodile Hunter in 2002, as I never really watched TV that much.  It wasn’t long into the film that I realized that although the movie was fictional, the man, the job and the passion were very real and that got me interested.  After that, I watched the Crocodile Hunter TV series as often as I could, where viewers could learn about the care of all kinds of animals, not just in Australia.

Steve is the man who made us love the unlovable and taught children and adults alike to care for and respect all creatures great and small in a way that couldn’t be ignored.  I have nothing but admiration for the man and this is why I put Australia Zoo in our itinerary on our tour of Eastern Australia.

My only consolation on his passing is that he died doing what he loved, what he believed in and lived for.  His body might have passed on, but his spirit, legacy and passion are very much alive and will live forever, not just in Australia Zoo, but in all our hearts.  Gone, but definitely NOT FORGOTTEN.

The snake show

 

 

Dunk Island, Queensland, August 2003

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Dunk Island

During our stay at Mission Beach, we took a water taxi across to Dunk Island, only 4 km away from our resort.  It was a very hot day, too hot to even stand on the sand for more than a few seconds, and we just found it incredible to believe that this was in fact WINTER.  We did our best to stay in the shade and plaster ourselves with sunblock, even though I have olive skin and less likely to burn than my two companions.  It just wasn’t worth taking any risks in a kind of heat I had never experienced before.

Boarding the water taxi from Mission Beach to Dunk Island

All in all it was another very relaxing day, enjoying the wonderful weather, a walk round the island and kayaking in the beautiful still blue waters, where we were even greeted by a sea-turtle as we were gently paddling around.  Unfortunately, the sea-turtle was gone before I could get my camera ready to photograph it, but the memory’s still there of this wonderful sea creature popping its head out of the water to have a look at us!  You just can’t put a price on these things.

The water taxi to Dunk Island from Mission Beach

I must also mention that, being part of the Great Barrier Reef, there is an abundant supply of dead coral already washed up on the beach and which is still protected and must not be taken away.  This, beautiful as it is, also brings the danger of stepping on it, as my two companions did and I remember spending some time trying to extract bits of coral from the sole of their feet.  So watch out where you step, either in the sand or the water, or you’ll be feeling the pain for hours to come.

Dunk Island

There is nothing much more to say, apart from how sorry I am that this beautiful island had to suffer such a tragic fate during last year’s storms, as I know it was heavily damaged and all but destroyed.

Dunk Island

Dunk Island

The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, July 2003

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The Great Barrier Reef

Ellis Beach turned out to be the perfect base to set off and explore the wonders of northeast Australia.  After enjoying the soft sandy beach, warm ocean and rain forest, we decided it was time to discover and experience at first hand the mysteries of the Great Barrier Reef.  To this purpose, we booked a day out with Haba Dive at http://www.habadive.com.au/ and drove in our hired motorhome to Port Douglas, where the snorkelling/diving team would meet us and direct us to our allocated boats that would take us out to Agincourt Reef, in the Outer Great Barrier Reef.

 

The Great Barrier Reef

 

The actual day was a bit cooler than previous days and, as the ocean was a bit choppy, the team advised us all to take some sea-sickness tablets, for we would undoubtedly feel our stomachs churn with what was forecast in terms of waves….. (more on this later).  Still it was sunny and pleasant enough to sit on the deck and enjoy the long ride out (I seem to remember it had taken about 90 minutes).  During this time the very competent and knowledgeable members of the diving team explained to us all about the fragile environment of the reef and the importance of not touching anything, as well as a few safety precautions and what to do if we got into trouble once in the water, always swimming or diving in pairs rather than alone and the emergency signals.

 

The Great Barrier Reef

 

At last it was time to get changed into our wetsuits and be decked out with snorkelling or scuba diving gear, as the case might be.  I had never done either of those things before and I was a bit apprehensive about the whole event, but wild horses wouldn’t have dragged me away from discovering the marvels of the ocean, so I played it safe and chose snorkelling.  The best word I can find to define this place is ‘awe-inspiring’ as this has probably been the most transcending experience in my whole life.  The moment you put your face in the water, you start seeing all these estrange and wonderful creatures that could easily have come from other planets.  It’s not just the fish, which included a shark, but the coral, giant scallops and sea-plants swaying in the ocean.  I wanted to reach down and be part of them and at one point I felt the water coming through my breathing tube as I had in fact got carried away by the sheer beauty of this precious and unique eco-system.  I had the foresight of carrying a water-proof camera and, even though the quality of the pictures is not brilliant, at least I managed to capture some of the things we saw.

 

Coral in The Great Barrier Reef

 

The Great Barrier Reef

 

The Great Barrier Reef

Choppy waters

Time passed all too quickly and when we were finally called back into the boat, I couldn’t believe it was time to go.  Unfortunately the ocean was getting quite rough by then and it was deemed safer to start our journey back to Port Douglas.  The sea did in fact get a lot worse, more than my and my son’s stomachs could tolerate and the inevitable happened.  I have been in many boats, yachts, ferries and dinghies before and I was born by the sea-side and I have very good sea-legs, but nothing had prepared me for what was to come and, to my dismay, I spent most of the journey back lying on the deck, only getting up to be sick overboard, as was young Peter.  Once again, the wonderful Haba team, did their utmost best to keep up comfortable and warm and they had us wrapped in layers of dry wetsuits and kept giving us water, but I have to admit we were feeling quite sorry for ourselves and it managed to spoil what until then had been a perfect day.  Still, it didn’t kill us and we still laugh about it every time we mention our first and fantastic snorkelling experience and it certainly didn’t put us off from trying again, as well as scuba diving, on a different holiday a couple of years later.  But that is another story……

 

Suffering from sea-sickness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A rough journey back

Ellis Beach, Cairns, Queensland, July 2003

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Deserted Ellis Beach

 

After enjoying a wonderful week in Sydney and meeting with some Ozzy friends, it was time to board our plane north to Cairns and take possession of what would be our new home on wheels for the following 4 weeks.  This was an easy process and, after very helpful and friendly staff explained the ins and outs of our recreational vehicle, we set off for our first beach booking of the holiday: the magnificent Ellis Beach!

By the pool, steps away from the beach

Nothing prepared us for the beauty of this paradise surrounded by the rain forest.  It felt like a dream come true and we required a while to take it all in, even if our first morning there was a bit overcast: there was no denying the magnificence of the place.  The campsite was right on the beach, with its own swimming pool in the shade for good measure, but that was hardly needed as only a few steps away we could enjoy the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean.  I had never swam in such warm seas before and once in the water it was a struggle of wills to come out of it.  Only the call of the golden soft and immaculate sand had the power to pull me out of the water.

The Rain Forest

We loved walking up and down the deserted beach, as if we were the only inhabitants, as it certainly felt like a desert island, with just the 3 of us rejoicing in such paradisaical landscape.  The only sound was the sea and the birds and our exclamations of wonder.

Peaceful and magnificent Ellis Beach

A glorious sunset at Ellis beach

 

We decided to book a day-hike in the rain forest from the Tourist Information booth outside the campsite and were picked up early the second morning by a minibus that would take us to the beginning of the walk.  Once there, we met our passionate guide, Yanek, and the rest of our hiking companions, a dozen or so tourist from various parts of the world.

 

A Walk in the Rain Forest

 

 

 

And so one of the most memorable walks of our lives began, where we learned about the native plants and tress, animals like the cassowari (a flightless bird not to be approached lightly due to its known aggressive behaviour) – and the Aborigine way of life and how they learned to live in harmony with their surroundings.  Half way through the hike, we stopped for lunch on an island in the middle of the river and enjoyed a swim in the cool waters (only 16°C), a sharp change from the sea, but an almost surreal and unforgettable experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crossing the river

 

Yanek turned out to be a very wise and sensitve young man who had previously worked in the army and he was just a natural with young Peter and praised him for his stamina and not complaining about the long walk, as so many children seem to these days.  I hope he is still sharing his passion for the rain forest with new visitors to the area, as we need people like this to protect what’s left of our  unique and amazing blue planet.  The end ot the walk came only too quick for me, as I could have easily spent a whole week in this most wondrous of places.  A must for everyone who loves nature and genuine people.

Having lunch on island in the river

 

One of the magnificent palm trees in the forest

 

In the heart of the rain forest

 

In the heart of the rain forest