Queensland East Coast

Trip Start Jun 24, 2008
Trip End Oct 17, 2009

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hi All,
Wishing everyone well.
It's been a long time since an update. Sorry for the delay - we've been busy.
After our reef adventure the weather deteriorated back to showers and cool air so we decided to move on. Leaving Port Douglas we drove 30 miles north to check out Mossman and Daintree village.
Daintree was very quaint and could have been a riverside village in Devon, such were its similarities, except for the crocodile warning signs along the riverbank!
This was the furthest point of travel for us on the east coast so we turned back south for the final coastal journey to Sydney.
A quick stop to see  Mossman gorge broke the journey to Cairns. It was interesting to watch from a viewing platform above the flowing water below as some Japanese tourists entered the water upstream were swept down via some cascading rocks to a swim pool around the corner.
Next stop Cairns. We were recommended to take a trip on the 'skytrain' just north of the city so we drove up to a beauty spot in the Barron Gorge NP to spend the night, before an early start next morning. We chose this spot because it was the only place for miles around that didn't have 'no camping' signs. Unfortunately, we were disturbed at 11pm by 2 car loads of youths who parked next to us and played loud music, banged on the door and shouted menacingly at us. It didn't seem that we were welcome to stay - so we didn't. This was the only time so far, that we've been disturbed in such a deliberate manner. 
The following day (after camping on the street in the nearest residential area) we got aboard the 'skytrain' and began our ascent. This big cablecar goes into the Kuranda Forest about 5 miles and back. The trip involves 1 car change and optional stop-offs along the way to view the rainforest and the vast Barron Falls. The cars take you over the forest canopy and lastly over the Barron river before gliding gently into Karunda village. It was a very memorable attraction.
Leaving Cairns for the south, we stopped off at the same places we'd used on the way up. At Townsville we drove to the Castle hill lookout. This 'hill' turned out to be a mountain in the middle of the city with a steep winding road to the top affording fabulous views for miles around.
Southwards from here was the final undiscovered coast on our route (since we'd travelled north and back again from Townsville). The 1st stop would be Airlie beach.
Arrived at Airlie beach on the Conway NP peninsula after an allday drive from Townsville. This area is the main way into the 'Whitsunday' Islands. The town itself is obviously a great attraction to backpackers and thereby highly commercialized. We actually saw a large hoarding publicising the revenue target of 1 billion dollars from tourism in the region by 2012. Needless to say they got nothing from us!
After camping out in a copse we spent the next day on Dingo beach 40 miles up the coast. A much nicer place, very quiet and more picturesque. It's worth a mention that up to now (14/6) this was the last time we sunbathed in Australia. 
Looking at our drivers map book of australia, we saw a NP further down the road and decided to go there. The Eungella is a relatively small area but known to have platypus living in its rivers and creeks.
We got to Finch-Hatton gorge and walked 3 miles up streem, through rainforest to see the Aralven cascades and wheel of fire falls. I was up at dawn to sneek a peek at platypus in the creeks below the gorge but to no avail.
We drove allday on 22nd went through Rockhampton and stayed within a short drive of Gladstone.
Gladstone town has another hilltop lookout in the centre (Auckland Hill), sufficient to see all around. It's a typical Queensland town for its industry. A port recieves coal, mined from other areas of the state and this fires the biggest power station in QLD. That in turn powers a giant smelter converting bauxite ore (also mined in QLD) into Aluminium. The town is prosperous and it was interesting to walk around our hilltop rest stop and admire the opulent homes clustered nearby, surrounded in all directions by heavy industrial works.
The next stop, later that day was the village of seventeen seventy. Named after the year of Captain Cooks first arrival on QLD shores. He had landed in Botany Bay and then sailed up the east coast. We stayed overnight in a beachside camp area.
1770 was celebrating their annual fair and market. Spent the morning wandering around the stalls and looking out over Bustard Bay before we set off for Hervey Bay via Bundeberg.
On arrival we chose a camp-site where we could cash in a discount voucher obtained at our earlier stop in Darwin. The intention was to stay 5 days to visit Fraser Island and catch up with this blog. After payment and some frought times getting a decent plot from them we found there was no TV reception or mobile broadband. Added to that was several days of 18hr long downpours of rain which made for a very wet and somewhat miserable experience here.
The main exception was our day trip to Fraser Island which was warm and sunny. We didn't see any of the famous wild dingoes here but having encountered one in the bush back in the Pilbara region of Western Aus we weren't disappointed.
The return boat ride was a treat as we witnessed a beautiful sunset throughout the entire 45 minute journey. This was the last time as, (to date 14/6) we've not had that experience again.
Drove on down to Noosa Heads, the northern coastal town of the sunshine coast, north of Brisbane. Just before the town we drove up Mount Tinbeerwah to see the sights from the lookout on the peak. A most spectacular view. A hidden gravel track off the mountain road was the perfect camping spot to rest before we drove the 'Hinterland Escape' scenic drive the next day.
Noosa Heads to Landsborough via Nambour, is a 70 mile drive that takes you up to and along the ridge of the Blackall range. The lookouts of Dulong, Gerrard, Balmoral and McCarthy offer a glorious assortment of vistas. From the rolling green hills eastwards to the 'high-rise' towns of Mooloolaba and Caloundra along the sunshine coast and looking west over dense forests and lakes it was one of the most wonderful sights encountered by us in Australia. The Glasshouse mountains at the southern end of the range were every bit as awesome as the pictures in our guide map. To add to this feast for the eyes were the Mapleton and Flaxton Falls along the way which were as impressive as any we've seen prior.
Found a perfect stop-over spot on the way down to Landsborough from the escarpment road above. Settled in to stay free of charge behind a water tower with plentiful supplies of tap water.
A very rewarding day to remember.
Used this spot as our base for the next 3 days visiting Caloundra for shopping and cinema and a day at Steve Irwin's famous Australia Zoo, which was very impressive. Here we saw Elephants, Camels, Tigers, Crocodiles, Kangaroo (some with Joeys), Koalas,Wombats, Red Pandas, Tasmanian Devils, Echidnas (like a big hedgehog) and many species of snakes and birds (including Cassowaries - the largest flightless birds in Oz)
Left our homely spot and drove through Brisbane to Coolangatta on the NSW border to attend the 10 day 'Wintersun' retro 50's festival. We were told of the event by people we met at the Mustang Bar in Perth back in March. The whole town is packed with visitors and 50's cars for numerous events, parades, dances, workshops and entertainment, culminating in a weekend of 12 stages of rock'n'roll bands and the biggest car show I've ever seen.
We found a campsite for 3 nights until the weekend. On our 3rd night we met Colin, a chap from London we know who makes and sells 50's shoes at these sort of events. He's the 1st person we've bumped into that we know from the UK, by chance.
The gigs were a bit 'hit and miss' as far as good quality 'real' R'n'R and Rockabilly music is concerned. With bands like the menacingly named 'Darling Buds of May' you aint gonna be rocked out of your socks! However, we were knocked out by the Atomic Hi-tones, Danny & the Cosmic Tremors, Pat Capocci Combo, the Firebirds, the Firedomes and the Flattrackers. All Australian and extremely good.
The last night we caught the Vargas Brothers and Luis & the Wildfires from California who were, of course, superb.
Thus our journey down the coast of Queensland is done.
We are staying in the Gold Coast area (south of Brisbane) for a while as the weather in Sydney, further south is too cold.
We shall drive on in about a weeks time in order to meet Emma who is flying out on a 2-3 month trip to Hong Kong (5 days), Australia(1 month), New Zealand(1 week)& Thailand(1 month)
She arrives here on 29th June and we're both greatly looking forward to seeing her, so unexpectidly, after 4 months. Looks like she has caught a travel bug from someone!

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Island Eye on

Mossman Gorge is the best place in the world.I like your surprising photos.

brian on

on your trip along the east coast, have you happened upon an area (somewhere between airly beach and byron bay) that has a small cove that people called "boulder bay". it has boulders surrounding a bay about 30-ft feet high. i can't find it on a map. i visted 20 yrs ago and went there and can't remember exactly where it is. If you have seen it, or know where it is, i would appreciate if you could let me know. Thanks. Sounds like you are having a great trip. P.S. i loved port douglas when i went 20 yrs ago. it was a very small rustic town back then. i have heard that it is much more built up now.

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