Tag: Bucasia Beach

686. Wednesday 10th July 2019. Investigating the Mackay Coastline and the Pioneer Valley…

I have been so active with investigating and researching and travelling and photographing that I have ended up with too many photos for the one post. Instead I will create three posts to spread out the photos. That said there are still many photos in this post.

Monday 8th July.

Today I took a drive into the Habana Valley which is on the way to nowhere.

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I can find no history of who made this wall of volcanic stones pulled from the surrounding fields. Like the stone walls in Kiama NSW it could be 200 years old or no more than 20. Like Kiama it is a favourite place for snakes.

In recent years sugar cane plantations were subdivided and sold as 5 acre lots so that once rolling hills of sugar cane have given way to rolling hills of grass dotted with large houses.

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Bits and pieces make this woman letterbox.

Habana is one site within the Mackay district which used slave labour, known as Blackbirding, a practice of enticing or kidnapping men and women from The Solomon Islands and working them in the canefields for little pay and poor conditions. The practise began about 1863 and continued until 1904 when it was outlawed. Many were repatriated to their homes in the Pacific Islands but many were not. Blackbirds were brought into Brisbane and sold to various sugar can farms along the coast from Maryborough to Port Douglas. Some were sold and sent to the New South Wales cane towns. Those that remained integrated into society and in fact some of the roads around Habana are named after Solomon Islanders. Descendants have mostly stayed in the area and married locally.

I cannot say Habana was once a thriving community as I could not find any evidence of shops but Habana like many other small communities around Mackay have experienced fluctuating fortunes and mostly those fluctuations have been progressively down.

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another abandoned Habana load.
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Everything seems to be abandoned in Habana.

At the height of the sugar boom, cane was cut by hand and cutters came from all over Australia for the harvest. A famous book was written about the fortunes of the time, Summer of the 17th Doll, written by Ray Lawler. The book was made into a stage play and a Hollywood movie starring Ernest Borgnine.

After hand cutting came cane harvesters where almost every land owner had their own harvester. Repairs and fabrication were carried out by local businesses. Soon it was simpler to have a harvesting contractor carry out the harvest and land owners no longer needed to purchase a harvester which sat idle for 8 months of the year.

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This was once a busy engineering motor mechanics business.

Gradually the local engineering firms and fabricators had less and less work and soon closed their doors.

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This was once a busy fabrication works making and repairing implements for farm machinery.

People also moved away. Habana is such a community in the throes of dying but will probably last a little longer as the urban sprawl and the need to have 5 acres of lawn means people will buy blocks of land and build their expensive homes with large ride on mowers. Cane is still grown and harvested in the area which can being sent by rail to the mill at Farleigh. Cane train lines still criss cross the area.

After the recent heavy rain the ground is very boggy so finding a parking spot, off the road, dry and not subject to getting bogged was a challenge.

Just a word on weight loss. Tonight my weight is down to 75.4 Kg. That is a loss of 6.6 Kg since I started dieting but the most loss of weight came about by reducing carbs and sugar and lots of exercise. I am now wearing trousers which have not fit since at least 2012. Even they are beginning to fall down. Soon I will need to got to a smaller trouser size.

Tuesday 9th July

Yay! The sun WAS shining. By the time I got dressed and out the door for a walk along Eimeo Beach a light drizzle had begun. Aaah! What the heck. I went anyway.

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View of St Bees Island from Eimeo.

By the time I arrived at the beach the drizzle had stopped.

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Low tide, St Bees Island seen from Dolphin Heads.

I did a few laps of the beach and a wander around the old fishing village.

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Low tide, St Bees Island seen from Dolphin Heads.
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Bench seat overlooking the mouth of Eimeo Creek where it drains into Sunset Bay.
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Unique doorway/gateway to a property at Eimeo. You do not have to be eccentric to live in Eimeo Village…but it helps.
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View over Sunset Bay at Eimeo Village.

There is not a lot of history for the suburb. In 1870 a Jeremiah Armitage took bought 150 acres of waterfront land primarily or perhaps by design, for the purposes of timber getting and milling. He quickly changed tactics and planted 9 acres of fruit – that is, mangoes and coconuts and built a guest house which is today the site of the Pacific Hotel Eimeo with multi million dollar stunning views across Sunset Bay.

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Pacific Hotel in Eimeo.
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This boat was under repair in June 2011. Note the cleared area around the boat.
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Same boat, same location, worse condition. The mangroves are reclaiming the land and there seems to be more work needed.

Mid morning I headed out for a circuit which would take in the villages or towns of Homebush, Eton, North Eton, Kinchant Dam, Marian and Pleystowe. I wanted to look for old buildings either still in use, abandoned or used occassionally.

First stop was The Pub In the Scrub or The Pub in the Cane Paddocks or the correct name is The General Gordon Hotel, Homebush.

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General Gordon Hotel at Homebush. Note the ladies of the night on the upper verandah.

The hotel was built by CSR ( Colonial Sugar Refinery) way back in 1883. It is basically surrounded by sugar cane paddocks including across the road.

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There is no nearby houses, or town or even a village. The General Gordon Hotel is surrounded by sugar cane.

It is quite some distance out of town. Town? Well, it is not really a town so much, it is a community, including a Primary School and a bunch of houses and precious little else. Back to the hotel. It was named after the famous Major General Charles George Gordon who died in the battle of Khartoum in 1885. Today the hotel looks tired, and run down and needing much tender loving care but the people in the trucks and utes and cars which pull up for a cold beer all day do not seem to mind. Out the back a level area is set aside for campers who pay $5 a night and share the hotel bathroom. I recall many years ago stopping here for a cold beer and a counter lunch and at that time noticed all the dusty musty memorabilia lining the walls and ceilings. Nothing has changed.

A little further along the road was my next stop, Homebush Mission Hall (still a fair way out of Homebush) built in 1892. This is where the Blackbird story I mentioned yesterday fits into today’s travels. Many indentured labourers (slaves) could not read or write and were not permitted to attend any local churches. The Presbyterian Church built this hall in 1892 on land donated by CSR. The idea was to teach reading, writing and Christianity to the Islanders. In 1997 the building was granted a Queensland Heritage Listing which has done little to maintain the building or encourage its use. There were several Mission Halls built in the Mackay – Sarina area but as far as I know this is the only hall still in existence and apparently being used on a semi regular basis, mainly by the South Sea Islander Community.

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Heritage listed Mission Hall at Homebush.

Next stop was Homebush itself which as mentioned is little more than a Primary School and a few homes. I should mention that stretching as far as the eye can see in any direction is sugar cane which is, in most cases, almost ready for harvesting.

Across the street is an abandoned house with abandoned furniture all exposed to the elements and slowly being taken over by mould and rot.

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Abandoned, decaying and rotting at Homebush.

Following the road to an intersection I found this is the Peak Downs Highway just outside of Eton, another cane growing and harvesting town. In fact for about 100 Klms north and south and west of Mackay is almost exclusively cane farms. I found an abandoned home just on the edge of town.

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Eton abanodoned house.

I always wonder what led to families leaving a house which is gradually being taken over by trees, bushes, grasses and the elements and will eventually become one with nature. Unless somebody buys the land and bulldozes it first.

Next up was North Eton on my way to Kinchant Dam for lunch.

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What is this naturally air conditioned Victorian bus doing at North Eton?

Not so many years ago I remember there was a sugar cane mill here as there were many such mills scattered throughout the valley. There were too many mills so began a series of closures and all that remains is a large chimney which serves no purpose other than as a reminder of once upon a time. Other small towns which closed their mills have nothing left except perhaps a plaque marking a site. Since leaving the house this morning I can safely say I have never been out of sight of sugar cane growing along the highway, in suburbs and right up to house fence lines.

Mackay is Sugar Cane.

I stopped at Kinchant Dam for lunch. The dam was built in 1977 to provide water water for irrigation and town water. There is a camp ground / resort at the dam and it advertises itself as a quiet place to relax. When up to 50 skis boats are roaring around on weekends it is anything but quiet. Today WAS quiet with only one underpowered boat towing somebody on a belly board.

I chose the narrow road to Marian where I once again found abandoned houses one coming into town and one as I was leaving.

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Marian abandoned house.

Marian still has an active mill. Soon when the harvest is in full swing the mill will become fully operational and will “crush” around the clock. The paddocks of cane, growing three to four metres high will be harvested and for a few months will be ploughed fields ready for planting.

By now I was on the Mackay – Eungella Road and my next stop was Pleystowe where I found another abandoned house.

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Pleystowe abandoned house.

Pleystowe still has an active mill but the town itself has gradually deteriorated and the one remaining general store has also closed and become abandoned. I suppose if I walked around the nearby narrow roads I would find more abandoned houses. The mill is now the centre of activity but only during the crush. Pleystowe is only a dozen Klms from Mackay where two large shopping centres cater for needs while Marian also boasts a smaller shopping centre and Walkerston only 3 Klms away now has an ultra modern shopping centre. An interesting feature along this stretch of road between Pleystowe and the Walkerston turnoff is long rows of Mango trees lining each side of the road. It is quite pretty normally but during Mango season the fruit drops to the road and is squashed by passing traffic. The smell of rotting fruit is a sickly sweet offence to the aural senses. Luckily there are few houses in that stretch of road. I should mention the Mango’s are known as Commons and nobody eats them anymore, they are too stringy but are good for pickling. That is why the fruit is not picked.

Wednesday 10th July

This morning I went to Bucasia Beach for a walk.

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Bucasia Beach, Eimeo Headland, Sunset Bay and St Bess Island under storm cloud.

It is 10 times the size of Eimeo Beach so it was easy to set up a brisk pace and keep that pace for a good distance.

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Bucasia Beach with once fabulous tourist destination, Brampton Island in the background.

I should mention sand on tropical beaches especially those that are protected by an outer reef. That is, all beaches north of Agnes Waters which only have waves when big storms whip up the seas over a short distance.

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Bucasia swimming enclosure. Late September, council will supply mesh and other materials. Local volunteer labour will install to make a stinger free swimming enclosure. The mesh will only last until May unless a cyclone has destroyed it beforehand.

The sand is coarser and grittier than beaches say on the Gold Coast.

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Brampton Island from Bucasia.

It is also more of a brown colour rather than light yellow or even white found further south.

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Brampton and Carlisle Islands.

The sand also has lots of shell fragments and small pebbles.

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Eimeo Creek and the legend of storms past.

Most beaches have lots of pumice stone which floats and always seems to sit on top the sand as well.

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Weird catamaran. Eimeo Creek darins to mud flats at low tide. It is a great place for pumping for yabbies for bait.

Pumice is formed by frothy volcanic lava which sets quickly when making contact with the water, trapping little air pockets and creating a stone which floats. My guess would be this pumice arrives on our beaches from the active volcanoes around New Guinea. Add to this mix the debris which spews out of creeks and rivers during heavy rainfall. Material such as leaves, twigs, branches, tree roots and mangrove seeds. 100719 eimeo creek1Then of course there are the bodies of shell fish such as crab and skeletons of fish. The water temp here in winter is warmer than summer water temps down south. Is it any wonder then that I have always called the waters in the tropics a “soup”.

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Eimeo Creek matching canoes.

In the afternoon I drove to Shoal Point for a wander among the rocks and shoals.

Leiutenant James Cook first encountered these shoals in the ship ENDEAVOUR on 2nd June 1770. The actual shoals lie about 200 metres offshore and were named Blackwood Shoals by the Survey Ship HMS FLY in 1843 and Llewellyn Shoal by the Survey Ship SS LLEWELLYN in 1879. Subsequently the spit of land became Shoal Point.

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Shrub growing from the rock deliniating the norther end of Bucasia Beach and the beginning of Shoal Point.

Tonight I attended Rock and Roll classes and found my confidence shattered by a different teaching method and far too many people. I was told the numbers were down by about 50% tonight as it is state of origin night. One thing I did learn is to maintain my beat and footwork. My teacher for tonight suggested I practise footwork with appropriate music while I am doing things around the house. Well okey dokey then, one, two backstep, step. One, two backstep, step. Do it until it becomes automatic. One, two, backstep, step. One, two Backstep, Backstep. Oooh darnit. Got out of step already.

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545. Sunday 26th March 2017. Coastal review and a cyclone comes visiting…

Monday 20th March

Well another week has rolled by without us going anywhere or being involved in anything exciting.

This week of relative inactivity can be used to show some of our coastal photos captured in our travels.

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Twelve Apostles or at least some of the eight still left. Look carefully and you can see seven.

The Twelve Apostles are located along the Great Ocean Road near Port Campbell Victoria. In living memory these limestone stacks have been called The Twelve Apostles most likely by an explorer or local identity with an overactive religious imagination. At least since the early 1800’s there were only 9 stacks with one stack collapsing in 2005. And then there were eight. In recent years, undersea explorers have found Apostle Cousins, undersea limestone stacks, in the waters nearby. Amazingly the undersea stacks are eroding at a slower rate than those poking above the water. We first saw the Apostles in late January 2006. Our first glimpse was on a stinking hot day of above 40° temps with an oven-like westerly wind. The next morning dawned bright and clear. It was such a nice sunrise we decided to climb down a steep staircase to the beach below for an in your face close-up view. Within hours the weather turned nasty with big black storm clouds rolling in from the Antarctic bringing strong icy winds, stinging cold rain and a drop in temp to around 14°. The Twelve Apostles is on our bucket list to visit again. Preferably sometime when the big ocean swells roll in from Antarctic storms where the waves crash against and rocket up the limestone cliffs.

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Gold Coast Broadwater.

The Gold Coast Broadwater Qld is one of my favourite coastal views. (actually I have so many favourite views I do not really have a “favourite”. I just enjoy coastal views) To the right in this photo is the Iconic Q1 building at Surfers Paradise. That is the building I climbed with Tyler when he was visiting from Canada in January 2017.It is easy to distinguish the Q1. It is on the far right and has a giant Lightning Rod which is visible along most of the Gold Coast and hinterland.

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Austinmer Beach

Austinmer Beach and Rock Pool NSW is a northern suburb of Wollongong located south of Sydney along the Lawrence Hargrave Drive.  We stayed in our motorhome on the beach at an inexpensive small camp ground operated by Austinmer Surf Life Saving Club. The Sydney to South Coast Railway Line runs along the narrow escarpment between the Great Diving Range and the sea. Sometimes the line disappears into tunnels at other times there is a breathtaking vista of the coast from high up in the foothills. The town really only got its beginning in 1887 when the North Illawarra Coal Company opened a new mine in the area. The famous Bulli Pass, a steep and winding road to connect to the main highway is located a short drive to the south. The less well known and less steep Bald Hill Road is a few Klms to the north. It also connects to the main highway at Helensburgh.

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Coles Bay Tasmania

Coles Bay on the south east coast of Tasmania has some awesome coastal views stretching for Klms. The bay is located on the sheltered side of the peninsular It is located on a narrow neck of land known as Freycinet Peninsular. The entire area is part of the Freycinet National Park and is home to many species of wildlife. The Swan River which begins somewhere in the wild mountain ranges to the west, drains into Moulting Lagoon, part of Coles Bay then drains into the ocean at Swanwick Bay.

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Eimeo Beach

Eimeo Beach Qld is a small tropical beach located in the Mackay North seaside suburb of umm err, Eimeo. The famous Eimeo Pacific Hotel is located atop a steep hill to the left of the photo. In the background can be seen the long stretch of Bucasia Beach to Shoal Point Headland and Little Green Island just offshore. Also visible is Blacks Reef also just  offshore.Although only a small beach it is patrolled in summer months and is used by the Sunset Bay Outrigger Canoe Club (formerly Ko Huna Outrigger Canoe Club) in its club premises shared with Mackay Catamaran Club.

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Horseshoe Beach

Horseshoe Bay is located in Bowen Qld about 200 Klms north of Mackay. The bay is a delightful safe protected little body of water, ideal for family events, boat launching and retrieval but can be a nightmare in windy conditions. It becomes absolutely frightening in a cyclone. It can also be extremely hot and humid as when it is protected from the southerly winds it gets no breeze at all and is frankly, stifling. It is also a place subject to the deadly box jellyfish, Chironex Flexerii and the tiny but even more deadly Irukangi. Saltwater crocodiles are also seen from time to time. The coral sand bottom is also littered with ancient sharp coral outcrops. It is a place which is lovely to look at but I have never entered the water here.

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Kirra Beach

Kirra Beach on the southern end of the Gold Coast Qld adjoins the other famous Coolangatta Beach. My first introduction to Kirra Beach was on a long car drive with three friends from Sydney. Arriving at the beach at 6pm with the sun sinking in the west we felt it was time for a surf after a long and tiring 1,000 Klm drive. I had never surfed in the dark before. I have not surfed in the dark since.

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Luna Park

Luna Park is strictly speaking not located on the coast. It is located on Sydney Harbour NSW. Luna Park is an amusement park located at Milsons Point, under the northern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s super easy to get to by train, ferry, bus or car. Luna Park was opened in 1935 with the advertising slogan “Just for Fun”. It ran on weekends only until 1972 when it went full time usually 10am to 6pm weekdays and until 10pm Saturday. Keeping with the “fun” theme the park offers the following safety tip…For the safety of our guests, when the weather is funny some rides and attractions may need to close at short notice. Awww. Just writing about Luna park makes me want to go again and relive my childhood. Anyone for Fairy Floss?   http://www.lunaparksydney.com/

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Noosa Beach

Noosa Beach Sunshine Coast Qld. What can I say about Noosa which I have not already written about many times before. It is another favourite beach.

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Port Fairy

Port Fairy at the end of the Great Ocean Road Vic. It is located on the Moyne River and was named by the crew of a whaling ship, The Fairy in 1828. In some respects much of Port fairy still looks like it did 100 years ago and still maintains a sort of olde worlde charm. The town had an arm wrestle with its original name. A John Griffiths established a whaling station and called the town Belfast after his home town in Ireland in 1835. The Post Office already called the town Port Fairy John Griffiths was not to outdone and agitated to the point the town was renamed Belfast in 1854. The local population, few of whom came from Ireland agitated themselves and soon the town reverted to the name Port Fairy. That name still stands today. Incidentally whaling is no longer carried out here but the cold waters around the coast are ideal for squid and calamari fishing boats.

Sunday 26th March

Tropical Cyclone Debbie formed off the tropical coast of Queensland on Friday. It is expected to cross the coast as a Category 4 or worst case scenario, Category 5 about 8am Monday. Predicted path is to cross south of Ayr and the time of arrival is expected to be at the top of a King Tide. With a two metre storm surge expected there are interesting times ahead.

 

 

521. A heatwave begins and we explore our wildlife photos…

Heatwave conditions were predicted to begin today and last through until next Monday.

Now that we have finally completed installation of the awning covers on every window, the hot weather will be a good test. By pulling all the shade awnings down to the bottom edge of the window it puts shade on the windows and dramatically reduces the heat coming in through those windows. By leaving the garage door open only 300 mm allows for the breeze to blow through and into the house via the laundry. Combined with insulation in the ceiling and the fans on low the house is quite cool. So, instead of going to the beach or playing lawn bowls the idea is to stay inside and just relax, stay cool and not exert ourselves in the heat.

As I start to write these words, clouds have rolled in and thunder can be heard nearby. It is becoming dark outside.

Here is a wonderful chance to review our photos for some which have not previously been published. Today we are looking at our animal photos.

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HENRY the Polar Bear.

First photo in the collection is a Polar Bear. I shot this at the Gold Coast Seaworld in late 2014. In fact it was about this same time of year. It included an afternoon storm of dark clouds, strong winds, hail, rain, thunder and lightning. This, if you can believe it, is the young cub, Henry. His mum, Lia, was in an adjoining enclosure. Most park visitors came to see this young fellow, Henry, who was born at the park in 2013. Since I took the photo, Henry has achieved International travel having moved to Ontario Canada Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat in October 2015.

 

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Unknown Butterfly. Can readers help identify this?

I found this beautiful Butterfly in an Indigenous garden display at Morven in western Queensland late in October 2010. Like many indigenous endeavours they all start off with great intentions but when the allocated donated funds are no longer available there is nobody to maintain the gardens.  Although the gardens were well laid out with native shrubs and other artefacts there was no information available to explain what was what and the place was in a state of neglect. In fact there was nothing anywhere in town to explain that the garden was there. It was not considered something worth visiting. I found it just by walking around the half dozen streets which make up the town and stumbled on it by accident. Obviously the Butterfly was also a visitor and after speaking with locals I was still none the wiser as to what type of Butterfly it was. Maybe a reader can identify it for me.

 

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Australian Ring Neck Parrot.

Also in October 2010 we came upon this Australian Ring Neck Parrot in, of all places, Lightning Ridge NSW. This was our first visit to LR and was destined not to be our last. I do not know why but LR has an appeal…to us…and many others. There are four subspecies of this parrot and this one from Central Western NSW is the only one which has a bluish colouring rather than distinctive green of the other three.

 

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Emu…For our overseas readers the name is pronounced…Eem You.

October 2010 was a busy time in our travel calendar. We were located at Burke, western NSW and in the red sand backroads looking for native wildflowers and fauna. One of the great sightings was the Emu which can be seen in their thousands. Although we constantly saw Emu all day, like all wildlife are hard to photograph as they just do not sit still and pose. All wildlife will stop, look around, feed, look around, move around or move on but they are always in motion. The Emu also likes to move in bush, where, with its natural colouring, can blend in.

 

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Brahminy Kite.

We saw this Brahminy Kite (also known as the Red -Backed Sea Eagle) at Bucasia Beach on Eimeo Creek tropical Queensland in June 2011. They are found mainly on the coast and in inland wetlands where they feed on dead fish and other prey. (I have seen them catch live fish too) Adults have a reddish-brown plumage and a contrasting white head and breast which make’s them easy to distinguish from other birds of prey. They are sometimes described as a medium sized bird of prey – Raptor – but in my experience are as big as, if not bigger than, a Wedge Tailed Eagle.

 

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Oyster Catcher.

The furtive and nervous Oyster Catchers can be seen almost anywhere along the estuary mud flats on Australia’s coast. This one we saw at the somewhat remote location of Miara north of Rockhampton on the estuary mud flats of Yandaran Creek in April 2014. Miara Caravan Park exists for serious fisher folk wanting to get to lucrative fishing grounds quickly. I find the name Oyster Catcher rather strange as oysters do not move all that quickly in order to be caught. I think the name should be Oyster Finder.

 

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Welcome Swallow.

Australia’s most widespread swallow, the Welcome Swallow can be seen fluttering, swooping and gliding in search of flying insects in almost any habitat, between city buildings, over farmland paddocks, in deserts, wetlands, forests and grasslands and every habitat in between. Sometimes they even occur at sea — the name ‘Welcome’ swallow comes from sailors who knew that the sight of a swallow meant that land was not far away. Swallows build their mud nests in many different situations, though most noticeably beneath bridges and on the walls of buildings. This pair was sighted on farmland at Finch Hatton west of Mackay, Qld in October 2011.

 

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Black Swans.

April 2009 we were at Coles Bay in Tasmania. At Moulting Lagoon was huge flock of wonderful Black Swans. The Black Swan is the largest waterbird in Australia. The white feathers can only be seen when it is flying or as in this case just flapping around for the fun of it. Graceful in flight and when paddling around on the water, it is a clumsy bird when walking on land. Until 1697 all Swans were thought to be white. A visiting Dutch Ship caught two specimens in what is now the Swan River, Perth, Western Australia. Both birds died on the voyage back to Holland. Here is an interesting fact – refer to http://panique.com.au/trishansoz/animals/black-swan.html  it is estimated that up to 25% of Black Swan Couples are homosexual!!!

 

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Black Skink. For some reason it is also known as a Land Mullet.

Often the first sighting of a Black Skink is the large, long black tail sliding under a bush or leaves. Bushwalkers first reaction is that they have come across a deadly Black Snake.  In fact the Black Skink, like all Skinks, are usually non aggressive. We saw this specimen while bushwalking at Springbrook in the Gold Coast Hinterland in March 2015. Like all good city people walking in the bush we also thought it was a deadly black snake at first. The overseas tourist in front of us went panic paralysed while screaming they had been attacked by a black snake. In fact the Skink was trying to get away and hide from the noisy people.

 

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Pelicans.

We see Pelicans everywhere on a daily basis. Mostly we see them on the coast but have found them in river locations hundreds of kilometres from the coast. These Pelicans were located at Lakes Entrance in Victoria in May 2009 when we were returning from Tasmania. They are a big bird and to a young child can appear threatening. In fact they are quite tame and can often be approached to within a metre or two. They enjoy being hand fed.

 

513. Sunday 9th October 2016.At home then on the road travelling North…

Back to the good old days when we have lots of photos to share.

Monday 3rd October

Today, for something different I walked around the park at the Biggera Creek end of our village.

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A palm tree was cut down some years ago. The rotting stump has become home for a fig tree to sprout and take root.

We have a strong population of many kinds of birds who live on or around the property. A large family of ducks is produced each year.

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Last year this adult pair had 9 ducklings following them around. When the ducklings were very young they looked like leaves being blown across the park. About half those ducklings are still in residence.

Several fly off but mamma and poppa produce at least ten new ducklings each year. They quite often walk in a group along our street.

A pair of stupid Masked Lapwings (more commonly called a Plover) have made a nest in the short grass of the park. They had started a nest earlier but the gardeners had covered the nest on the  ground with soil and grass cuttings to encourage grass growth. Undeterred the birds started a new nest. They have two eggs. Both take turns sitting on the nest or defending against intruders. The birds have a viscous spur on each wing and they will swoop and screech to move you away. If you do not move they will dive bomb and use the spur if necessary.

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This Masked Lapwing is sitting on an exposed nest in the partk. They make no attempt to hide the nest b ut do go to a lot of trouble to defend it.

Magpies are also very protective of their nest although for most of the year they are pleasant company.

Crested Pigeons

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There are many pairs of Crested Pigeons living in the village.

live here as do a family of Lorikeets. A pair of Oyster Catchers has moved in also. One has a foot severed and walks with a limp.

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This pair of Oyster Catchers have moved away from the low water shallow sandbanks and taken up residence in our park. The one on the left has lost a foot.

Noisy Minahs, Butcherbirds, Willy Wagtails, Magpie larks, Currawongs, Honeyeaters of all descriptions, Friarbirds, Kookaburra’s, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Herons, Egrets and Ibis are seen here regularly.

Wednesday 5th October.

Whenever we travel we have a planned optimum departure time …8am, an expected departure time…9am and a most likely worst case scenario departure time…10am. Usually it works out to be worst case. Today we were on the road between optimum and expected. We must have set a new record. Cruising along the M1 at 110 Kph I thought what a lovely day. Then suddenly we were part of a crawl of traffic. As soon as we managed to get moving again we encountered roadworks. Dozens of them in fact. What started as a pleasant 4 hour drive turned to a 6.5 hour drive. We stopped at Urangan for the night. Urangan is a suburb of the Hervey Bay area. Hervey Bay continues to grow and spread across the land. It seems many retirees live here and for good reason. The climate is comfortable, the fishing is good and there is plenty of shopping, dentists, doctors, hospitals, clubs, coffee shops and restaurants. What more do you need?

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Apart from Whales visiting Hervey bay and the Great Sandy Straits, local and visiting sharks are looking for a feed.

We took a walk around Urangan Pier.

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The old Urangan Pier.

It was built between 1913 and 1917 for the purpose of exporting sugar, timber and coal. The original length was 1107 metres and was sturdily built for the train hauling goods to waiting ships. In 1985 the pier was closed and 239 metres of a dog leg section of the pier was removed. The pier was handed to the local council. The train tracks were removed, another 220 metres was added to its length and opened to the public. Today it is an invigorating walk to the end and fishing rod holders are installed along its length with fish cleaning stations dotted in a few places. Local fishermen just love it.

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Fishing from the pier. Note thed rod holders located on each upright.

An interesting feature along the foreshore walk is a waterproof concrete seawall. The wall was built to keep King tides and tidal surges from crossing into nearby houses and businesses. Even the stairway to the beach is built in such a way as you have to walk up steps to the height of the seawall before stepping down to the beach.

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All along the foreshore is this levee fence to hold back King tides, heavy seas and or storm surges during tropical lows and or cyclones. Note how access to the beach is firstly up a series of steps then down steps to the beach.

We took time to walk around the Great Sandy Straits Marina. One interesting feature on a marina deck is an old whale harpoon gun.

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Hervey Bay once had a thriving whaling station. This harpoon is from those days.

There was once a whaling station on this stretch of coast. This gun is about all that is left. These days whale watching tours is one of the big drawcards operating out of the marina.

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This is a whale watching town and this statue reminds visitors to the marina they can embark on a whale watching tour.
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Now the only whaling business is day trips on various boats to see the annual whale migration firstly up the coast then after the calving is complete as the whales head down the coast back to feeding grounds in the Antarctic.
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St.Peter, Patron Saint of Fishermen looks over the entrance to the Great Sandy Straits Marina and Harbour at Urangan.

 

The reason for being here was to meet my friend Les A. We have not seen each other since second year of high school…57 years ago. We re-connected when I joined Facebook a few months ago. Over a couple of beers and dinner Les and I tried to fill in the missing gaps in our lives while Donnis talked with Les partner Lyn. The night was filled with many “do you remember when” questions. I really enjoyed catching up with Les and meshing our memories. Donnis and Lyn noted that we must have been a pair of mischievous kids getting into trouble. It was all just boyish enthusiasm and exploration in the Sydney suburb of Balmain. In those days we could just about go anywhere provided we were home for dinner.

One strong memory was when we were 12 and had just received our first push bikes. We rode from Balmain to Lane Cove National Park, a distance of 16 Klms…just because we could. Then we rode around the park and home again.

Thanks for the meet up Les. I hope we can do it again soon.

Thursday 6th October

Before leaving Hervey Bay we called in to visit Les & Lyn. We were away by close to the “worst case scenario” time mentioned yesterday. We had the usual toilet, fuel and food stops along the way. We stopped at Childers for a late coffee break. Childers is the site where in 2000 a fire at the backpackers hostel killed 15 people. The fire was deliberately lit and the offender was sentenced to life imprisonment.   Over the years we have driven through or stopped at Childers and the fire is always discussed. It was a tragic event.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Childers_Palace_Backpackers_Hostel_fire

The 10 hour journey saw us stop at Miriam Vale for lunch, fuel at Rockhampton and a final rest stop at Clairview on the ocean as the sun was setting behind the beach.

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Part of a series of murals at Clairview.
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View across the ocean to Aquilla Island.

It was well and truly dark when we arrived at the Eimeo home of Sandy and Dave who were kind enough to delay dinner until we arrived at 7.30pm.

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The relaxing gazebo and spa at Sandi’s house.
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A Magpie Lark sits on the nest waiting for its partner to return with more food for the chick.

Bed was a real welcome.

Friday 7th October

A lazy day in the cool of Sandi’s house. Today as soon as we walked outside, the heat hit us like a slap in the face. It was a not too subtle reminder of why we left the heat of the tropics to live on the Gold Coast. While outside it was stinky hot, inside it was cool with a sea breeze wafting through the house. In the evening we visited with my daughter Averyl and grandchildren Shelby-Rose and Anakin.

Saturday 8th October

Busy day.

We joined Sandi for a coffee at Woodmans Axe a popular funky coffee shop which seem to be all the rage around towns and cities these days. Make the ordering process complicated and slow, make the surroundings noisy, the seating uncomfortable and serve the coffee luke warm and you have a winner. The man who started this shop now has several open or in the process of opening in Brisbane and Townsville.   http://www.woodmansaxe.com/  Sandi likes her coffee but her daughter Jo-Elle works here.

We then joined sister Enid at the Mackay Lagoons a free family friendly water park near the city centre. Also present was niece Kelly and her two children Cooper and Oliver. In the afternoon we collected Anakin and went to the Mackay Showgrounds to have a look at the Mental Health and Wellbeing Fair. Anakin, Donnis and I joined the African Drumming Group for a few sessions of thumping good fun. No mental health issues here. https://www.facebook.com/Mackay-African-Drumming-793908574008366/

When night fell we drove to Mackay Harbour for a walk around the breakwater.

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Mackay Harbour Marina Breakwater

Sunday 9th October

Niece Kelly offered her home for us to have a family get together today.

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Kelly’s house at Bucasia.

Each family took a dish or two which ensured a wonderful barbecue lunch with lots of side dishes, desserts and cheeses.

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Daughter Averyl and grandson Anakin enjoying barbecue lunch.
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Sister Enid and nephew Aaron and niece Kelly.

The two young boys, Cooper and Oliver called Donnis and I their friends and wanted us to play with them. That was rather flattering as there is a huge difference in their ages and mine.

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Ollie and Coop.

In the later afternoon we walked across the street to Bucasia Beach where the two boys threw themselves into the water and chased Donnis around trying to splash her. Sandra also threw herself into the warm tropical waters.

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Some of the family at Bucasia Beach. Brampton & carlisle Islands can be seen in the background.
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Niece Kelly with her two boys at Bucasia Beach.
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Brothers Cooper and Oliver have a warm bath in the backyard after splashing around on Bucasia Beach.
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Enid, Sandi, Frank and Donnis at the beach.
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At Bucasia Beach.

It was a great afternoon spent with lots of family members including my daughter Averyl and her two children, sister Enid with her two children and four grandchildren and sister Sandra and her daughter.

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With grandaughter Shelby-Rose. She and her brother Anakin do not like having their photo taken.
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Meegan with latest daighter Tilley and Kelly in the background.
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Niece Jo-Elle with mum Sandi and step dad Dave.
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Donnis greets Aaron and his daughter Asher at the family barbecue.

492. Sunday 15th May 2016. A quiet week coupled with a parking fine and Animals round off the week…

Sunday 15th May

It has been a quiet week for us. Not boring but we have been busy with medical and dental appointments. We did not visit new locations.

For example on Monday our friend Graham helped us put up awnings on two back bedroom windows and the back door. Graham scored the awning parts from a neighbour. We took them apart and painted all the metal. Graham also scored some near new awning canvas which were all slightly wider but Donnis cut and sewed them to size while Graham and I started on fixing the frames etc to the walls.

On Tuesday I saw the dentist who put in a temporary filling and booked me in for a crown to be fitted. Meanwhile Donnis and Graham finished the awnings. While at the dentist I got a $117 fine for parking illegally.

Sob!

On Wednesday I got the results of my little op last week. It is a cancer – squamous carcinoma – the doc offered to cut it all out right there right then. It will be just a couple of sutures he said. Well okey dokey let’s do it. A few minutes later I can feel blood running down my face and filling my ear. Afterwards I looked in the mirror and found not a couple of sutures…there are six. It must have been a big cancer. He sent the stuff he cut out to the lab to check that he got it all.

Sooo…

Instead of visiting somewhere new I think it is time we caught up with a few photos which have not been shown on the blog before. This week we will look at animals.

First up let’s look at a Polar Bear. Naturally we did not see this guy in the wild as they live in the Artic circle and even the Inuit Indians do not see them on a daily basis. We saw this fellow at Sea World on the Gold Coast. Nice and cuddly, friendly looking as he appears, make no mistake you would not last more than a minute in a cage with him. This bear lives in a large rocky enclosure with glass walls around his pools and viewing platforms above the entire enclosure. He has lots of toys and I was fascinated by his antics. He still had food left over from his previous feeding so he stuffed whatever it was in a crevice in the rocks below the waterline. Every so often he would stop what he was doing and go back to see the food was still where he put it.

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Polar Bear at Sea World Gold Coast, Qld.

If you ever get a chance to visit Sea World I can recommend it. I found the animals more interesting than the rides.

I found this delightful butterfly on a bush in a small garden created by a local aboriginal group. The garden contained lots of native plants found in the area as well as some samples of native craft. The garden is located in the small but amazingly civic minded town of Morven, Queensland on the Warrego Highway midway between Mitchell and Charleville, about 700 Klms west of Brisbane. Morven has several public gardens with most plants identified. The visiting butterfly was obviously not identified. I still cannot identify it. Morven has a free overnight campsite right in town beside the highway. Longer stays at the football field costs a gold coin donation. Power, hot showers and toilets included.

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Unknown butterfly, Morven, Qld.

The Australian Ring Necked Parrot inhabits dry desert regions. We found this parrot in the dry scrub country near the gemfields of Lightning Ridge. We have been to The Ridge several times and always enjoyed the visit. In fact Donnis worked here for three months a couple of years ago. Finding this parrot was during our first visit and the Subaru Imprezza was put to good use driving through all the back roads and tracks leading to disused mine shafts. It was on one of these back roads we found the parrot.

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Australian Ring Neck Parrot, Lightning Ridge.

Once again we were discovering back road out back of Bourke, NSW. There is an Aussie say when a place is a long way from anywhere we say it is “out the  back of Bourke”. In this case we were way out back on one of those red sand tracks and beginning to feel lost. We had not seen another car for two hours. This emu, like all emu’s know how to blend in with their surroundings.  After another half hour battling deeper and deeper sand tracks we found a sign, pointing to Bourke but no indication of how far away it was. We saw lots of Emu that day, some even running along the track beside us but by then all we wanted to see was a sealed road and sign to take us back to Bourke.

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Emu, Back of Bourke, NSW.

Just about anywhere on lonely coastal stretches in Queensland you can see the Brahminy Kite. They just seem to drift along in air currents, not using much effort at all. They are a big bird and mainly live on fish but will take other small animals as well. This specimen was sighted at a boat ramp at Bucasia on the Eimeo Creek Qld.

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Brahminy Kite Eimeo Creek Bucasia Beach, Qld.

These Oyster Catchers can be seen just about anywhere along the coast of Qld, NSW and Victoria. They feed in the mud flats and sandbars at low tide. Oyster Catchers seems like a strange name as oyster would not be that hard to catch as they do not move once they cement themselves to rocks or tree branches or whatever. The birds are very shy and move away from humans quickly. This specimen was seen at remote Moore Park Beach about midway between Bundaberg and the town of 1770.

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Oyster Catcher Moore Park Beach, Qld.

You can find Welcome Swallows just about anywhere. They spend most of their daytime life on the wing. Flying around looking for food…flies, moths, butterflies etc. They usually like to nest somewhere near water so they can collect mud to make their nests – often under houses, eaves or in open horse sheds up under the rafters. They rarely hold still  long enough to be the subject of a photo. We saw this pair, in October 2011 on a fencing wire at Finch Hatton, a small rural town about 60 Klms west of Mackay.

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Welcome Swallows Finch Hatton. Qld.

In May 2009 we were camped in our Toyota Coaster Motorhome at a free campsite at Moulting Lagoon on Coles Bay at Freycinet Bay, Tasmania. One evening we heard lots of loud honking across the bay. In the morning we were surprised to see hundreds of Black Swan had arrived overnight. These large birds feed on vegetation and it was a pleasure to see them bob for grass or weeds under the water, their bums stuck up in the air.

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Black Swans Moulting Lagoon, Coles Bay, Freycinet Peninsular,Tasmania.

We were walking along a bush track in the Springwood National Park in the Great Dividing Range just a few Klms west of the Gold Coast. Some people just ahead of us let out a squeal and all jumped to one side of the track and clustered themselves together. (German ladies backpacking Australia) They were frightened by a black snake. Black snakes are deadly but being the silly inquisitive person I am, stepped forward for a closer look at this fatter than usual black snake. To my relief it was a large black skink quite plentiful in this park and not really afraid of squealing tourists who were so scared they wanted to turn back. They live on fungi, fallen fruits, invertebrates and are also known as a Land Mullet.

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Black Skink at Springwood National Park, Gold Coast Qld.

Finally one of everyone’s favourite birds, the Pelican.

A funny bird the Pelican

His beak holds more than his belly can.

This group waddled around on a little beach beside a fishing boat ramp. The local fishermen clean and fillet their catch here and feed the scraps to these well fed guys at Metung Beach, Lakes Entrance, Victoria. We were driving our Toyota Coaster Motorhome on our slow way back to Airlie Beach from Tasmania in May 2009 when we stopped here for lunch.

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Pelicans at Lakes Entrance, Vic.