Month: July 2016

502. Sunday 24th July 2016. Southbank, Tallebudgera, Fingal Head and Whales.


Lots of photos this week.

Monday 18th July

It was funny weather today. Mostly overcast with snatches of sunlight and occasional big black clouds with sudden downpours. It was just the sort of weather for my adventure today. Within minutes of walking to the bus stop, the first downpour occurred. Today the plan was to take a bus to Helensvale Train station then train to Southbank and explore or at least re-visit a place I have been to many times. The train journey – express – took about an hour. Although the track roughly follows the Motorway it passes through what seems to be mostly rural and or bushland and quite a few swamps with spindly struggling saplings. Suddenly the train passes through a cutting and then it is suburbia.

Southbank was established for Expo 88 and has been built on, extended, enlarged and re-vamped since. This area is a community hub with parklands, gardens, swimming pools, playgrounds,

180716 wheel
Imagine being at the top of the giant ferris wheel, watching the storm clouds getting blacker and wondering if you will get caught in the rain and wind coming your way.

picnic facilities and stunning views of Brisbane River and the city beyond. Southbank is also a foodies heaven and a cultural wonderland.

180716 pool
This is just one of several connected and interconnected free swimming lagoons at Southbank Brisbane.
180716 pool1
Another free lagoon at Southbank.

Some of the mostly free sights and places to visit are QPAC – Queensland Performing Arts Centre-, Cultural Centre, Griffith University Lecture Hall, State Library,

180716 library
Main entrance to the Qld State Library.

Museum, Art Gallery

180716 art
Entrance to Queensland Art Gallery.

and so much more to see and do than I had time for today. River transport departs and arrives about every 15 minutes for trips up and down the river. A cruise taking a good few hours for a total round trip costs only a few dollars.

180716 ferry1
One of dozens of city cats zooming up and down the Brisbane River.
180716 ferry
Another City Cat. Note the big heavy storm clouds building up over the city.

Again I did not have time for that today. If all the above is not enough, a quick walk over the Brisbane River

180716 brisbane
On the bank of Umm Err Southbank is the sign to tell you the city is Brisbane.

via the Victoria Bridge or the Goodwill Bridge will take you into the city itself.

180716 city
View of river city from State Library. Storm beginning to build.
180716 city1
and the storm clouds build.

Including lunch and train fares the day cost me $20. If I had taken the car, underground parking at Southbank is $16 per day. Either way a good reasonably priced day out.

Pokemon Go is all the rage with children, teenagers, young adults and middle aged parents. It seems Southbank has lots of little Pokies waiting to be found. I saw huge numbers of people who all seemed to be following their mobile phone through the paths and gardens. I was amazed to see a high school excursion at the Art Gallery with most students following a glowing screen through the exhibits. The art on the walls was basically ignored in favour of a childish animated image on a mobile phone screen.

Wednesday 20th July

Happy Happy Birthday to my daughter Shelley also my son in law Paul.

I went to line dancing this morning. I enjoy the exercise more than the Tai Chi that Donnis and I went to for some months – before she went to Canada. I am sure I have rhythm and beat somewhere in my body but it must have been packed away. Trying to follow either the instructor or watching other people and trying to copy their actions leaves me grossly out of step. Hmmm! One step forward tap the heels twice one step back tap the heels twice then one step forward then one backward then suddenly it is three steps to the left followed by three to the right and I am still tapping my heels!!! Somewhere in all of this there is a wiggle, wiggle, wiggle. I must enjoy that as I wiggle six times and make everybody laugh. Next time we get to the wiggle bit I wiggle even more and the laughter is accompanied by comments, “No Frank you just wiggle 3 times”.  It is all in good fun and I am sure I will master this one day. Uh Oh. Now they tell me that was just one dance routine. There are another two to learn today. We have to learn another next week.


I packed a sardine sandwich and some cheese and fruit and head off to the beach. Hmmm! Southport parking is full. Instead I drive further down the coast to Palm Beach and Tallebudgera Creek.

200716 tallebudgera2
Tallebudgera Creek looking west towards Gold Coast Highway bridge.

This is a lovely family friendly spot and I was able to get parking.

200716 tallebudgera1
Tallebudgera Creek looking west from the bridge.

The sun is shining, it is 26° but in the shade with a chill wind blowing in off the sea it feels like 16°.

200716 tallebudgera
Tallebudgera Creek looking towards entrance.
200716 palm
From Tallebudgera breakwall looking south to Palm Beach
200716 coolangatta
From Tallebudgera Creek breakwall looking south to Coolangatta. Greenmount Headland is on the left.
200716 surfers
From Tallebudgera Creek breakwall looking north to Surfers Paradise.
200716 driftwood
Somebody kept themselves busy collecting and forming all these umm err Teepees? Fireplaces? Pyres?

Out of the breeze and in the full sun it is just like summer.

We are in the middle of winter.

There were no Pokemon Go hunters to be seen anywhere.

Friday 22nd July

Good friends Tony and dawn arrived this evening just in time for a wonderful Beef in Red Wine casserole which I have had slow cooking all day.

Sunday 24th July.

We have wanted to go to a high hill on the coast to see whales on their annual migration to the north.  I remember going to Fingal Head last week and thought it would be ideal for whale watching.

240716 warning
From here we could see Mt Warning, one of the remaining upthrusts of the ancient volcano which covered this entire area.
240716 tony
Tony wandered to the southern cliff edge.
240716 posuer
A group of three young girls were find interesting if a little hazardous, places to pose for photos.

A good idea shared by many other people. The carpark and surrounding streets were packed with cars. A good strong swell was running and boardriders were out enjoying the surf.

240716 surfers
On arrival at Fingal Head I noticed these three surfers carefully walking across the columnular basalt to find a spot to launch into the surf.
240716 surfers1
This surfer did not choose his launch moment too carefully…
240716 surfers2
…this is the reason his timing was not great. He had to paddle through more broken water surf instead of waiting between swells.
240716 surfers3
He did start catching waves so his efforts were rewarded especially later when the whales arrived.
240716 cliffs
People sitting atop the cliffs got a great view of the waves breaking and meeting the backswell off the cliffs. The surf made a thunderous roar each time the waves broke.
240716 cliffs1
They also got a good view of the dolphins below and the whales when they arrived.

After a wait in the brilliant sunshine a Humpback Whale came into the bay between us and Cook Island.

240716 searchers
This pair of jetski riders were actively trying to locate the whales which is not allowed by law. By the time the whales arrived this pair had given up and returned from where they came.

240716 whale2 It cruised north to the end of the island then turned around and cruised south. 240716 whale4What ? Was that a second blow beside the big whale? Yes, it was! A calf!

240716 whale1
We believe this is a mother and her calf.

240716 whale

240716 whale3Perhaps this big whale is the same one which gave birth at Port Macquarie further south along the coast a few days ago. What an exciting twenty minutes to watch the whales so close to our vantage point. Some people we spoke with on arriving had said they saw whales earlier via their binoculars but the whales were way out beyond the island. After a while those people packed and left. They missed the whale close encounter enjoyed by hundreds lined along the cliffs. I am sure the boardriders got a bit of a surprise when the whales surfaced about 100 metres from the surf. We are sure there were at least 2 adult and one calf as the dorsal fin on the adults was different. One appeared to have an injury.

501. Sunday 17th July 2016.Baking, Fingal Heads and Binna Burra…

I should have made a big deal out of last weeks post.After all, 500 posts is a milestone. Considering I do at least 52 posts in a year perhaps as many as 55, I have been writing this for more than 10 years. So, did I go and open a bottle of champagne and toast to the next ten years? No! Instead I had a cup of tea and two choccy biscuits.

Congratulations FrankieG.

Monday 11th July

Today was a mix of overcast and sunny.

What better day to do a bit of baking.

Zucchini Savoury Rice Muffins

Sultana Cake

Mini Baked Passionfruit Cheesecake Cups.   I had some left over Cream Cheese and some frozen passionfruit pulp and some oat cake biscuits and these were the main ingredients as well as caster sugar in the pantry and butter and an egg in the fridge.


My first cheesecake and it was so good.

In the afternoon I went crazy with the Magic Bullet blender. I put in spinach, cucumber, carrot, tomato, parsley, garlic and ginger.

Yechhh! It was so thick and pulpy and bitter. Perhaps I should have used a juicer but it still would have been bitter. I filtered the green mess and put the juice in the bullet and added a green apple. The pulp went into the garden. The taste? Better now that I added the apple but what am I going to do with the rest of the spinach. (It is not my idea of an enjoyable drink) Perhaps I can cook the spinach with a bit of ricotta cheese and make something tomorrow?


Wednesday 13th July

Today I drove over the border into NSW to have lunch with Errol, Nicole, Amelia and Hannah. It is their last day at Hastings Point before they head home to Wollongong. Before leaving Hastings Point we stopped at Lake Cudgen which is behind Cabarita Beach. For some reason the locals like to call it Cabarita Lake while locals at Cudgen call it Cudgen Lake. Go figure! It is a small lake which seems to be surrounded along the foreshore by Melaleuca forests (also known as Paperbark Trees) which are currently in flower.  On the lake and near shore is a thick growth of what appears to be a type of bulrush.

130716 cudgen
Cudgen Lake. At one stage big lumps of money were poured into creating resorts with jetty’s and designated swimming locations. All are now weathered and ready to collapse.
130716 cudgen1
The last remaining pieces of a jetty at Cudgen lake.

We drove along the coast towards Tweed Heads to have a little walk and lunch at Kingscliffe. After lunch the girls wanted to go back to the caravan park for kids club while Errol and Nicole opted for a spa.

This was my opportunity to look at Fingal Head (named after the Celtic God Fingal) which lies between the Tweed River and the sea. Once, all this area was part of the now extinct Tweed Volcano, where lava, flowing into the sea, cooled more quickly forming hexagonal shaped basalt columns.

130716 basalt
This is weathered example of basalt columns at Fingal Heads. The island in the Background is Cook Island, also columnular basalt. The island is named in honour of Captain James Cook who passed this way in 1770.
130716 basalt1
Basalt Column cliffs at Fingal Head. Almost the entire headland is made of these columns with an overlay of later lava which is itself overlaid with thin soil.
130716 cook
Cook island

The columns here are called the Giants Causeway.  Similar basalt columns around the world, such as in Ireland and the USA are also called the Giants causeway. Probably the most famous example of Columnar Basalt is Devils Tower in Wyoming USA. It was the often used setting and a part of the plot in the 1977 movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”.

Also located at Fingal Headland is an unmanned and automatic functioning  lighthouse which was built in 1879.

130716 lighthouse
Fingal Head Lighthouse.
130716 lighthouse1
Still operational, unmanned Fingal Head lighthouse with a Trig Point. Trig Point was erected in 1872. Trig Points are no longer used as GPS has made mapping and location pinpointing much more accurate.

Today the lighthouse out buildings and lighthouse keeper cottage are gone with only the foundations still intact. The lighthouse sits atop the steep basalt column cliffs and from here,  can be seen the Tweed River entrance, Tweed Heads and Coolangatta looking north along Fingal  Beach.

130716 fingal
Fingal Beach looking north to the entrance to the Tweed Rive, Tweed Heads and Coolangatta.

To the south lies the long expanse of Dreamtime Beach and the town of Kingscliffe. One of my favourite trees, the Pandanus

130716 dreamtime
Fingal Headland with the iconic Pandanus Trees looking south across Dreamtime Beach to Kingscliffe.
130716 dreamtime1
Pandanus and cliffs looking to Dreamtime Beach.

has a strong foothold on this weather and salt exposed headland where the only other plant in this area which flourishes are grasses.

Today, the medium sized swells were crashing against the vertical basalt columns and were probably the reason so many people were sitting on the rocks watching the sea. This would be a wonderful place to visit when the huge storm waves are battering the coast. Today a small pod of dolphins were cruising in the deep water just off the base of the cliffs.

In 2010 Donnis and I visited a similar basalt column area called Sawn Rocks in Mt Kaputar National Park near Narrabri in western NSW.

2010 sawn rocks
A fine example of mildly weathered hexagonal basalt columns.Mildly weathered in this case is a few million years give or take a few more million years but this example in Kaputar National Park, western NSW near Narrabri, known as Sawn Rocks has not been eroded by the salt ocean and pounding waves over milenium.
2010 sawn rocks1
Some of the columns have broken and fallen to the base of the cliffs. They really do look as though the rock has been “sawn”.

The features in this park are more visibly stark and pronounced as they are not subject to the same weathering and action of the sea as is the case here at Fingal Heads.

Strange clouds gave the Tweed Rive and the twin towns of Tweed Heads (NSW) and Coolangatta  (Qld)in the distance, a  brooding outlook.

130716 tweed
Looking along the expanse of the Tweed River with the towers of the twin towns of Tweed Heads (NSW) and Coolangatta (Qld)
130716 tweed1
A calm backwater f the Tweed River at a location known as Cave Point.

Thursday 14th July

Good friends Tony and Dawn arrived for an overnight stay before heading off to the Sunshine Coast tomorrow…for a holiday!

Friday 15th July

After Tony and Dawn left I also left for Binna Burra in the Lamington National Park on the Great Diving Range. Sister Enid and husband Ken have a weekend planned with friends to do a couple of walks in the rainforest. They are staying at Binna Burra Lodge.    

150716 lodge
Binna Burra Lodge.
150716 hut
Some of the slab sided cabins with shingle roofs.

I took an extra jacket as a precaution against the cold front moving in from NSW. Although I expected it to be cold I did not expect snow although snow was forecast for parts of NSW above 800 metres. Binna Burra is also 800 metres above sea level but it only snows here infrequently.

150716 birdhouse
This once delightful bid house has not seen birds in a long long time. The spiders have taken over.
150716 playground
This children’s playground has not been used by children in a long long time. I guess the spider webs which drove the birds away from the bird house also drove the children away.

The lodge was built in 1930 and has been added to over the years. The original buildings were of slab timber, roughly hewn with a cedar shingle roof. Rooms share facilities. The 40 Klm drive from the coast took almost an hour. The road is steep, winding and narrow. In some places it is one way only with blind corners.

150716 hill
Valley view along the road to Binna Burra.
150716 retrieval
The steep hillside is a great place to fly gliders. It is not such a great place if the glider crashes.

The old lodge has a separate accommodation of modern buildings with facilities. The new buildings do not blend in with nature and are a jarring counterpoint to the original buildings.

150716 view
The newer cabins do not blend into the hillside.

There is also a camp ground managed by the National Parks. I chose not to go on any of the walks as I have been suffering high blood pressure for a month including a constant headache for almost two weeks leaving me a bit light headed and at this altitude slightly out of breath.

I had a time of near panic when I realised my precious Panasonic Lumix FZ200 camera was missing. We had left the nearby barbecue and picnic grounds to drive to the lodge when I noticed the camera was missing. I drove back to the picnic grounds, retraced our steps but found no sign of the camera. I reported the loss to the teahouse then drove to the lodge to make the same report there. Sister Enid and friend Jack insisted we go back to the picnic grounds and have another look. I thought it was a waste of time as it was more likely anybody finding the camera would keep it. We split up looking at the toilet block, the barbecue pit and the picnic table. I heard Enid calling me that she had found the camera. It was a few metres away from the table where I had last placed it. The camera was on the ground beside a rock and its location was such that it would not be easily seen. We speculated the pesky thieving aggressive Scrub Turkey could have tried to take it. (earlier a turkey jumped up onto the barbecue table and stole a tub of butter Ken had placed there. He and Enid chased the turkey and managed to recover the butter but the turkey kept the lid) Perhaps. Once they found it was not food it would have been abandoned. Personally I think the camera and case was simply too heavy for a hungry turkey to carry. I am inclined to think there was some sort of human activity involved. Either way I was grateful we found the camera.

Be still my beating heart. Next time I will padlock the camera to my arm…

Just kidding

500. Sunday 10th July 2016. The Spit, Hastings Point and Cabarita…

Monday 4th July – Happy Independence Day USA.

Since I started this blog back in the early part of this century, I started writing each week as pages. In my Uneducated way I did dot realise I should have been publishing the weekly events as a Post. After a couple o

Wednesday 6th July

So far this has been a quiet week with some nice sunny days but quite chilly winds blowing from the west.

Snow has fallen in NSW.

Today I rugged up against the biting westerly wind and drove out to The Spit. I was here several weeks ago after an atmospheric low came blowing through the eastern seaboard. (see Post 495 Sunday 5th June) That low whipped up huge seas and lots of rain especially in the lower part of NSW. On my visit to The Spit there were crowds of people all wanting to see the huge seas especially as they crashed against the end of the sea wall and cascaded into the air above the light station.

050616 wave
This is how the seawall looks in wild seas.
060716 spit
This is how the end of the seawall looks when the seas are flat and there is nothing spectacular to watch.

Today with the strong chilly westerly, any surf which was around yesterday, disappeared overnight and the seawall and beach were virtually deserted.

060716 fish
Fishing boat navigating the Gold Coast Seaway. What is a pushbike doing on the cabin roof?

A few brave surfers in heavy duty wetsuits battled the cold just to be able to catch a powerless small wave.

060716 jetty
Sand pumping station at The Spit. Note the tiny surf.

Air temperature was about 18° with a wind chill factor making it feel like 12°. The water was the same temperature.

Oh, thank goodness for the comfort of i30.


Friday 8th July

Errol, Nicole and the grandchildren, Amelia and Hannah have driven from NSW to Hastings Point just over the border. They brought their pop up caravan and plan to stay for a week. I drove to visit them but the girls were reluctant to be dragged away from the caravan park kids club. We drove to Cabarita Beach (which I have written about several times) where we had a picnic lunch beside the sea. Afterwards we climbed Norries Point looking for whales followed a walk along then beach.

080716 cabarita
Norries point and the end of Cabarita Beach.
080716 errol
Errol and Amelia a safe distance from the cliff edge atop Norries Point.
080716 hannah
Hannah was a bit nervous about being closer to the edge.
080716 headland
Instead of using the handy staircase to descend we did it the hard way.

We drove back to the caravan park for kids club followed by Errol and the girls jumping into the heated pools and water slides.

080716 slide
Just a big kid.
080716 slide1
Nicole and Hannah are surprised when Errol uses the waterslide.
080716 slide 2
Enlarge the photo to see the unorthodox method Amelia uses at the end of the slide.

Not much to report this week. I have had a bad headache and sore neck the last week and do not feel very active.

499. Sunday 3rd July 2016. Winter on the Gold Coast and the Witch Doctor song..ooh ee ooh ah ah etc…

Friday 1st July

Ahhh. What a wonderful winter day. The sun is shining, a slight cool breeze is wafting from the west and I took a ride on the bike. I have been riding around the village long enough. Today I decided to grapple with the school holiday traffic and ride to The Broadwater.

010716 southport1
The little beach across the Broadwater is where all the boat, jet ski, paddle boards etc can be hired from. Mobile phone image.

What a feeling. The normally beautiful Broadwater on a summer sunrise is just so special.

010716 broadwater
The Broadwater from Southport Bridge. Looking towards Southport Yacht Club Marina. Image captured on my smart phone. The quality is nowhere near as good as I get from my FZ200.

The Broadwater is such a beautiful magical family safe body of water.

010716 southport2
More of Southport from beside the bridge. Mobile phone image.
010716 southport
Southport across the Broadwater. Mobile phone image.

I rode as far as Southport Bridge. Mid – morning with the winter temp hovering around 23° and all the families walking through the parklands, sitting at tables, barbecuing, even swimming and the view across to Southport, the marina and Versace Marina Mirage, Seaworld, all the sail and power boats, jet skis and canoes just reminded me of what I have been missing since my accident last August. I returned home tired and saddle sore but ready to do it again and extend my ride to Southport Surf Beach.

Saturday 2nd July

Today I drove to Santa Barbera. No not the one in California. This one is situated on a tight bend in the Coomera River nudging onto the land of golf courses at Sanctuary Cove. Apart from the houses which have price tags nudging up to and beyond a million dollars there is not much else apart from its semi isolation. The local park has an area set aside for swimming in the Coomera River. No, not a swimming enclosure but just a line of buouys designation the official swimming area. There is a sign warning of deep water, strong currents, steep drop offs and other, (not specified) marine hazards. The sign continues on to say never swim alone, children should be accompanied by adults and to learn life saving.

020716 enclosure
Santa Barbera swimming area. No nets just a few buouys.

Although Sanctuary Cove is a marina,

020716 sanctuary
Just a small part of the Sanctuary Cove Marina.
020716 harbourmaster
This is the office of the Harbourmaster at Sanctuary Cove Marina on the edge of the Coomera River.
020716 boat
I was thinking of buying this for weekends.
020716 houseboat
Maybe I could afford this one? Looks like it would be more practical for my needs…and budget.

housing precinct (houses in the multi- million dollar price range) restaurant precinct, it is also home to acres and acres of holiday resort comprising more gold courses than seems to be healthy. They even have their own golf buggy sales office – located at the marina – which specialises in buggy sales to the houses and golf courses as well as hire, spares, accessories and large workshop.  Be prepared to finance a holiday to this destination. Once a year, the area hosts a boat show which specialises in boats in the top end of the market.

020716 sanctuary1
The main shopping precinct of Sanctuary Cove.

Meal prices are also in the top end.

Sunday 3rd July

Today was the Gold Coast Airport sponsored Gold Marathon. Actually the other events such as walks and shorter runs and mini marathons were held yesterday. Today was the day of the big 42 Klm run. It was a good day to stay away from Runaway Bay, The Broadwater, Southport, Southport Beach and Surfers Paradise as many of the roads were closed and some were one way and huge traffic delays were experienced. Apart from the ;participants there were thousands who arrived for the spectacle.

I stayed away.

Today I discovered that the town of Walla Walla in New South Wales, has a counterpart in the State of Washington in the USA.

Walla Walla, News South Wales, was inhabited by the Wiradjuri tribe for thousands of years. The bushranger, Mad Dog Morgan, also roamed the area in the 1860’s. The name Walla Walla is aboriginal for “place of many rocks”. Yes even today those rocks lay scattered over the surrounding farmland. Most of those rocks are huge, four times as high and as wide as a house.

2012 mad lookout
The small rolling hills around Walla Walla seen from the crest of a big rock known as Mad Dog Morgans hideout in the rocks. The town can be seen in the distance.
2012 morgans lookout2
These are the rocks scattered around Walla Walla. Mad Dog Morgan had a cosy hideout tucked between two of these monoliths. He also had stables for his horses hidden in the rocks.

Donnis and I visited on a Sunday in 2012. Only two businesses were open…the local pub and the Lutheran Church. The church was busiest. The census in 2011 showed the population as around 600 – mostly Lutherans.

Walla Walla in Washington USA is named for the local tribespeople who lived in the area for thousands of years. It was also the home of Fort Walla Walla. The Roman Catholic Church tried unsuccessfully to convert the local Walla Walla people to Christianity.  Walla Walla is a large city of around 32,000 and in no way compares with the tiny Australian town.

Back in 2012, I made a mild joke about Walla Walla Bing Bang referring to the old “Witchdoctor” song from the late 50’s. Somebody in recent years has made a cover version. Here is the cover version and well worth a listen…