Exploring Australia From The Left





This picture actually has 2 medium-sized crays in it. They are fighting over who gets to hide in the water under the leaves.

While I was endeavoring to get some awesome photos of this pair, I suddenly realized that about 20 leeches were crawling towards on the small rock that I was on. It had started raining shortly before and being next to the river, they were coming out in droves. I quickly decided that getting those pictures were not worth being lunch to these blood-sucking creatures and decided to keep going on the path. However, despite getting farther from the river, the leeches kept coming (though not in as large groups). Between the rain and the leeches, we decided it was too miserable to keep going, so we decided to head back the way we had come. I only wish I had stopped long enough to get a picture of all the leeches that were coming at us! Fortunately, by the time we had gotten back to Picnic Rock, the leeches had stopped and we were able to enjoy a more leisurely walk. Unfortunately, my camera batteries died. The lithium ones last a lot longer, but they don’t give me any warning before they die. There wasn’t too much to take a picture of before we got back, except for this elusive King Parrot. He had been tagged, so we assume he was used to people and being fed. He actually let us get quite close to him.



King Parrot, looking like he wants a snack.

FUN FACT: Until a month before this (late September), I had thought that Australia didn’t believe in cornmeal, and thus, cornbread. Turns out that they may not quite believe in those, but they do have something that works. Apparently “polenta” is made from corn as well. The difference between cornmeal and polenta is the coarseness of the grind. Polenta is a coarse grind; cornmeal is medium. I found this news very exciting, as I love me some cornbread. It makes a great cheap meal when you combine it with beans. After 8 months in this country, we were finally able to have some cornbread! The polenta definitely worked, now I just have to figure out how to cook it in my toaster oven without burning it, which I think I am finally getting an idea of how to do that.
 
Last of Queensland

By Jen.

We passed the weekend in Lamington National Park, the less-crowded of the parks, then we went to Springbrook NP. We decided to stop first at the Natural Bridge. Despite the rain and the river, we didn’t find any leeches, so the walk was pleasant enough.





The bridge part.



Inside the cave and why there is a bridge instead of just a waterfall (the rock developed a way through the roof of the cave, leaving the bridge where it used to flow).





Interesting fungus.



The bridge part from above.



The new waterfall.

Next we decided to go to the Best of All Lookout. Mostly to see the Antarctic Beeches, trees that are a remnant from when Australia was part of the Godwana supercontinent with Africa and Antarctica. They prefer cooler and wetter climes and have retreated to isolated pockets of rainforests in southern Queensland and New South Wales.







It was a good thing that we hadn’t gone to the lookout to see the lookout, as it was simply all white from the clouds!

For our last day in Queensland, we decided to hit up Burleigh NP along the coast before crossing into New South Wales.






Basalt hexagonal columns.
 
Always interesting seeing a visitors take on the area you live and grew up in (Brisbane). Fraser Island is a beautiful place and a shame you didn't go visit it, though being 120klm long a one day visit does it no justice at all. Regarding the Red-bellied Black snake you saw....yes they are venomous and can technically can kill you, but generally they are not an aggressive snake and not as venomous as many other snakes in our country, should you be bitten by one you are unlikely to die....though you do need to seek immediate medical attention due to the side effects of the bite.
If you visit the cave at The Natural Arch at night time you can see the glow worms that are there...there light up as dots on the caves roof, but is a night time thing.
 
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Always interesting seeing a visitors take on the area you live and grew up in (Brisbane). Fraser Island is a beautiful place and a shame you didn't go visit it, though being 120klm long a one day visit does it no justice at all. Regarding the Red-bellied Black snake you saw....yes they are venomous and can technically can kill you, but generally they are not an aggressive snake and not as venomous as many other snakes in our country, should you be bitten by one you are unlikely to die....though you do need to seek immediate medical attention due to the side effects of the bite.
If you visit the cave at The Natural Arch at night time you can see the glow worms that are there...there light up as dots on the caves roof, but is a night time thing.

I would like to visit Frasier island the next time we are in Aus. As with many of the interesting spots near population centers, it is a matter of picking the right time to visit, as crowds can make it hard to enjoy.

As with most snakes in Aus, they just want to get about their business, and are generally terrified of people. There are a few exceptions though. I personally think anything that eats rodents is cool in my book!


We did see some of the glow worms in Aus. Plenty of them in NZ as well! Its pretty cool when there are a good number of them.


We struggle a bit with the larger metropolitan areas. We really enjoy visiting them, but they are generally not very friendly to vehicle travelers/overlanders. accommodation is expensive, and rarely able to park a larger vehicle. Given we travel on about 80$ a day, it is hard to justify long stays. RV/caravan parks pack us in like cattle, and charge high rates for services we don't need or want. Good mass transit helps a lot, but often requires us to leave our home parked in a public space unattended for extended periods. I think we will probably be changing our approach to these areas next time around. Anyone need a house sitter?
 
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Queensland by the Numbers

Here are some interesting statistics from our journey in Australia’s reef-and-rainforest state.




  • Time
    • Time zone:
      • UTC+9:00
      • Does NOT participates in DST.
    • Day entered: 9-Sep-2017
    • Day left: 16-Oct-2017
    • Total # of days: 37
      • Nights slept in van: 37
      • Nights slept in tent: 0
      • Nights slept in hotel/etc.: 0
      • Nights paying for lodging: 13
  • Distance
    • Driven: ~8,856 km (~5,535 miles)
    • Hiked: 67.8 km (42.4 miles)
  • Date Location Description Distance (km) Distance (mi)
    9/10/2017 Tambo Coolibah Walk 1.2 0.75
    9/11/2017 Barcaldine Botanical Garden Walk 1 0.625
    9/12/2017 Combo Waterhole Walk 2.6 1.625
    9/13/2017 Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) NP Riversleigh Fossil Trail 0.8 0.5
    9/14/2017 Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) NP Wild Dog Dreaming Walk 4.5 2.8125
    9/14/2017 Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) NP Duwadarri Lookout 0.6 0.375
    9/16/2017 Undara NP Kalkani Circuit Track 2.5 1.5625
    9/17/2017 Millstream Falls NP Millstream Falls 0.37 0.23125
    9/17/2017 Millstream Falls NP Little Millstream Falls 0.7 0.4375
    9/18/2017 Crater Lakes NP Lake Barrine Circuit 5 3.125
    9/19/2017 Danbulla State Forest Cathedral Fig Tree 0.1 0.0625
    9/20/2017 Barron Gorge NP Djina-Wu Track 1.53 0.95625
    9/23/2017 Split Rock Art Walk 0.78 0.4875
    9/26/2017 Babinda Boulders NP Boulders Gorge Walk 1.2 0.75
    9/26/2017 Malanda Falls Conservation Park Rainforest Walk 1 0.625
    9/27/2017 Djiru NP Fan Palm Walk 1.3 0.8125
    9/27/2017 Girringun NP Gorge Lookout 0.6 0.375
    9/28/2017 Paluma Range NP Jourama Falls Lookout Walk 3 1.875
    9/30/2017 Eungella NP Platypus Walk 1.042 0.65125
    9/30/2017 Cape Hillsborough NP Andrews Point Track 5.2 3.25
    10/3/2017 Blackdown Tablelands NP Goon Goon Dina 2.50 1.56
    10/3/2017 Blackdown Tablelands NP Yaddamen Dhina 0.20 0.13
    10/7/2017 Great Sandy NP Carlo Sandblow Walking Track 1.20 0.75
    10/8/2017 Glass House Mountains NP Mount Ngungun Summit Track 2.80 1.75
    10/10/2017 Girraween NP Underground Creek 2.80 1.75
    10/11/2017 Girraween NP To/From Campground 0.74 0.46
    10/11/2017 Girraween NP Wyberba 0.28 0.18
    10/11/2017 Girraween NP Granite Arch 1.04 0.65
    10/11/2017 Girraween NP The Pyramid 3.60 2.25
    10/13/2017 Lamington NP Moran Falls track 4.40 2.75
    10/13/2017 Lamington NP Campground to Track 1.00 0.63
    10/14/2017 Lamington NP Toolona Creek 8.80 5.50
    10/15/2017 Springbrook NP Best of All Lookout 0.60 0.38
    10/16/2017 Burleigh NP Oceanview Track 1.20 0.75
    10/16/2017 Burleigh NP Burleigh Link Track 0.46 0.29
    10/16/2017 Burleigh NP Rainforest Circuit 1.20 0.75
    Total 67.842 42.40125
    • Fuel fill-ups: 13
  • Money
    • Total spent: $2815.65 USD ($3609.81 AUD)
      • Consists of the costs of traveling full time in Queensland, including 2 tours
      • Does not include gear or van conversion costs
    • Average cost per day: $108.29 USD ($138.84 AUD)
    • Average cost of diesel: $1.283 AUD per liter ($3.641 USD per gallon)
  • National Parks visited: 25
    • Annan River
    • Babinda Boulders
    • Barron Gorge
    • Black Mountains
    • Blackdown Tablelands
    • Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill)
    • Burleigh
    • Byfield
    • Cape Hillsborough
    • Crater Lakes
    • Daintree
    • Djiru
    • Eungella
    • Girraween
    • Girringun
    • Glass House Mountains
    • Great Barrier Reef
    • Great Sandy
    • Lamington
    • Millstream Falls
    • Moresby Range
    • Paluma Range
    • Springbrook
    • Undara
    • Wooroonooran


Interesting observations about Queensland:
  • The second largest state.
  • QLD doesn’t charge entrance fees for any of its 200+ national parks.
  • And, its camping fees are quite reasonable (typically about $6.35 per person, which can be paid online).
  • According to statistics, NT has the most accidents, but we felt like drivers in QLD were more aggressive and crazy. They also had a lot of smoking-blowing diesels.
  • More than half of its population lives outside of the Brisbane metro area, which is the opposite of most states and capitals in Australia.
 
Northeastern NSW

With Queensland behind us, we started our exploration of Eastern NSW. We were greeted by a giant prawn (shrimp).


We headed inland a bit to visit some friends of Jen's family. After a pleasant visit with them, we went to take a look at Sawn Rocks. These basalt columns formed as magma intrusions underground cooled very slowly. The result is amazingly regular 5-sided columns.



(Jen Note: It kind of makes you feel like you are walking through the ruins of an old civilization instead of a rock slide.)









To break up the drive back towards the coast, we stopped at Mount Yarrowyck Nature Reserve to stretch our legs and seem some rock art.


 
Dorrigo Rainforest NP

The next stop on the way back to the coast was Dorrigo NP.




Oh look, a snake.




The nearby and idyllic Dangar Falls with a rainbow in the spray.




A common tree in the park is the Stinging Tree. Its leaves are covered in fine hair-like structures. Each is a tiny needle which injects acid into whatever touches it. Not pleasant!


The only animal that will eat its leaves is the Stinging Tree Hawk Moth caterpillar. It only lays its eggs on this tree. The stinging leaves give the larva protection from predators. This is why the leaves have so many holes!



A mature strangler fig. Its host tree is long dead and rotted away.
 
Coastal NSW

From Dorrigo NP, we continued down the coast to Nambucca Heads. At the breakwater here, anyone can paint or draw on the rocks.








We visited Smoky Cape and Sugarloaf Point and their light-stations.


























On our way towards Newcastle, we stopped at Cattai Wetlands to stretch our legs a bit.


 
South to Sydney

Driving south along the coast, distances are measured as km from Sydney. We continued our meandering path south, passing through Newcastle, the Blue Mountains, and finally to Sydney. In Newcastle, we stopped to meet an acquaintance from a forum in which Jonathan participates, and he was kind enough to give us a tour of Newcastle while we there. We even managed to spot some whales off the coast, slapping fins.




Prior to entering the Blue mountains in earnest, we walked to Castle Rock.














The Blue mountains themselves are not at all blue. The name comes from the blue haze which hangs over the ranges most of the year. It is similar to smog, except in this case, it is caused by trees not cars. The eucalyptus that dominate the forest here have high oil content in their leaves. The oil vaporizes on hot, low-wind days, forming the haze.


 
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