Letho's Blog

Traveling Australia

Byron Bay

by on Aug.20, 2011, under The East Coast

August 20, 2011

Leaving Palm Beach there was only one major stop along the way until our next destination at South West Rocks: the famous Byron Bay. It’s widely renown for its very special, distinctive cultural atmosphere making it a „hippie alternative town“ full of arts and events.

Fair enough, we stopped before Byron Bay and took a short look at Tweed Heads:

Nothing special, only the typical beautiful ocean beach scenery. 😉 The weather was not too pleasant at all today, but we were lucky to get a few minutes of sunshine when we arrived at Byron Bay. We drove through the little town right up to the lighthouse:

From there you’ll have a nice view over Byron Bay. But what’s more interesting: here lies the easternmost point on the Australian mainland. We’ve been already to the westernmost point – do you remember where that was? 😉

The way to the lookout is steeper than you think. Especially as pouring rain started when we where just down there. Running back up all those steps can be a real bugger!

Due to the bad weather there was nothing more to do for us in Byron Bay. We still haven’t learnt surfing (we’ll do that later, promise!), we don’t smoke weed and the last pagan gathering had just been washed off the shore – too much rain. 😉

On the way to South West Rocks we came across an ugly creature in Ballina that turned out to be .. yippieh, an Australian Big Thing:

The Big Prawn - ugly bastard

The Big Prawn – ugly bastard

Don’t know about you, but that didn’t wet my appetite for seafood. Later we arrived in South West Rocks, looking forward to our cave dive at Fish Rock. But would that ever happen in the current bad weather?

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Springbrook NP and Lamington NP

by on Aug.19, 2011, under The East Coast

August 19, 2011

Today we had planned a day excursion from Palm Beach to the Springbrook and Lamington National Parks. The first one is located right at the rim of the volcano remnants of Mt Warning, the latter lies directly in the volcano crater. This provides for some stunning scenery as you will see.

Along the way we stopped at the Wunburrah Lookout and could recognize the skyline of the Gold Coast with Surfers Paradise in the distance:

Gold Coast skyline from Wunburrah Lookout

Gold Coast skyline from Wunburrah Lookout

In the Springbrook NP the Purlingbrook Falls were our primary target. The Purlingbrook Falls drop an unbroken 109 metres into a lush gorge filled with palms and lillies, and we stepped onto the circuit walk. Not long until we first sighted the falls from the higher grounds:

The Purlingbrook Falls from the top side

The Purlingbrook Falls from the top side

We stepped down further the exhausting walk to the bottom of the falls:

One of the outstanding features of these falls is the opportunity to walk below the falls as the boardwalk leads straight below the splunging waters, and from there again up to the escarpment:

Here’s a panorama from the bottom of the falls section:

Purlingbrook Falls at the bottom

Purlingbrook Falls at the bottom

What a beautiful waterfall! We headed towards the next attraction, the Best Of All Lookout and found some really ancient beeches along the way:

Arctic beeches up to 2000 years old

Arctic beeches up to 2000 years old

The view from the lookout itself is simply breathtaking:

View into volcanic crater from Best Of All Lookout

View into volcanic crater from Best Of All Lookout

Interestingly enough Mt Warning, well recognizable in the following picture, is close to the easternmost point in Australia, Byron Bay. This means it’s the first place in Australia to receive the sun’s rays on every new day.

Mt Warning, an ancient volcano

Mt Warning, an ancient volcano

Can it get better? Wait until you see what we found next. Having seen pictures before, we were keen on visiting the Natural Bridge ourselves, and we found ourselves not disappointed. Judge for yourself:

A lot of gorgeous places today, eh? Next we drove down into the crater and circled around Mt Warning via Tyalgum and Uki. We got up to the mountain as far as possible, but were much too late to do the summit climb that takes 4-6 hours and ends with pulling yourself up with ropes.

After we got back to Palm Beach via Murwillumbah we stayed there for another night.

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Mount Tambourine

by on Aug.18, 2011, under The East Coast

August 18, 2011

On our way from Brisbane to the Gold Coast we made a detour to the Tambourine National Park. There awaited us a few waterfalls and nice views. We started with the Cedar Creek Falls:

Judging from Inka’s look she might be a bit fed up with all the waterfalls we visit. 😉 Continuing to Mt Tambourine (the town itself) we found a great view over the western landscape inwards:

View from Rotary Lookout, Mt Tambourine

View from Rotary Lookout, Mt Tambourine

A walk to the Witches Falls proved being worth not even a single photo to show you – sorry. But enjoy this shot of the Curtis Falls instead where we went afterwards:

Curtis Falls

Curtis Falls

Returning to the coast we at least wanted to take a quick look at Surfers Paradise, pretty much the northern start of the Gold Coast – where the sun always shines! Technically Southport is the starting point, but it’s hard to differentiate where exactly you are anyway. The various towns with glorious names like Miami or Mermaid Waters have transformed into a single stretch along the Gold Coast down to Palm Beach. We went to the beach at Surfers Paradise and experienced the sunset there:

Apart from that there was not much keeping us in this hotel-laden, busy and touristy place. We reached our next base in Palm Beach where we stayed with an elderly couple we had met on the Eyre Peninsula 4.5 months ago! Back then we had agreed to give them a call once we reach the area. Now they had invited us to stay with them and we were happy to take on the offer. Isn’t travelling great? 🙂

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by on Aug.17, 2011, under The East Coast

August 15, 2011

Having arrived in Brisbane quite late in the evening before, we now had a fews days‘ time ahead of us to start exploring the city in full daylight. After driving into the CBD we started walking. Only a few minutes away we found Cathedral Square:

On the other side of the street we spotted St. John’s Cathedral and walked in. It’s a fairly new cathedral, judging from the window paintings it is quite modern as well. We tried to catch some of the great ambience in it:

Right next to the cathedral we found St. Martin’s House. We started to grasp how historic buildings and shiny new skyscrapers form an interesting contrast throughout the whole city.

We found sculptures like the above and other forms of art everywhere on the streets. Continuing our walk we passed the „Shrine of Remembrance“, one of so many war memorials in Australia. Literally every community regardless of size has one. 😉

King George Square is the heart of the city, with the City Hall located there as well as the Uniting Church, again in front of much more modern buildings.

We strolled further along the streets, catching impressions with our camera. Moreover we bought a really cheap tripod for it. It seems we get more and more interested in photography as we’re always on the lookout for good motifs!

With the daylight fading and after a snack we were still curious and resumed our exploration. Along Eagle St Pier and St. Stephen’s Cathedral we headed for Queens Park and the Treasury Building.

At the Brisbane River we made a few steps onto Victoria Bridge where we could see the South Bank located on the opposite side, famous for its vibrant atmosphere including pools, museums, cafes and boardwalks.

We stopped for a last time to take some shots of the Kurilpa Bridge, a pedestrian bridge over the Brisbane river. It is greatly illuminated and constantly changing its lighting.

August 16, 2011

We found accommodation at a CouchSurfing place, this time with quite a few fellow couchsurfers. Besides us there were up to 6 other couchsurfers, not to forget the people living there as well. 😉 They call their place the ‚funny farm‘ which is derived from all the chickens, ducks, lizards and a dog living there. And they are growing their own herbs and crops as well. Here are a few impressions:

We decided to head into the city again and to take a ride with the ferry on the Brisbane river. Stopping at South Bank we hopped onto the ferry called „CityCat“. The council operated a few engine-powered catamarans, and these things really have a lot of power!

Exiting from the ferry at Eagle St Pier we walked all the way back to South Bank along the Brisbane river. In the afternoon we attended a brewery tour at the Castlemaine&Perkins brewery where the well-known „XXXX Gold“ comes from. After all it’s what I drank most while being in Australia. 😉

Later in the evening we drove up to Mt Coo-Tha and enjoyed the scenery with a great view over Brisbane at night.

August 17, 2011

This morning we packed up and left the funny farm. Heading into the city again, we took a walk through the Royal Botanic Garden where we could observe a few big lizards at the pools showing territorial behaviour and chasing the ducks away. 😀

We quickly looked at the Parliament House and the Old Government House ..

.. before walking to the South Bank to get to the „Gallery of Modern Art“ (GOMA). There we mostly enjoyed the contemporary art sections and found a few amazing exhibits.

On our way back we came across the Big Wheel and the Nepalese Pavillon, nicely illuminated again.

We stayed a final night in Brisbane with another CouchSurfing host, having a bicycle ride. The imprint on the bikes‘ tyres has nothing to do with me, though – hopefully. 😉

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The Blackall Ranges and Glasshouse Mountains

by on Aug.14, 2011, under The East Coast

August 14, 2011

On our final way to Brisbane were only a few stops left: the Blackall Ranges with the Mapleton Falls and the Koondalilla Falls. Thus we left Noosa, not without going at least to the Sunshine Beach:

A steep drive up into the Blackall Ranges brought us to the Mapleton Falls. At the end of the walk we saw this:

Although the view of the Blackall Ranges is nice, the Mapleton Falls were a major disappointment. Whatever, the rainforest walk was still entertaining, although we’ve done fairly many of those now. 😉

Next stop were the Koondalilla Falls which had a bit more to offer:

Here’s a full view from top to bottom:

The Koondalilla Falls

The Koondalilla Falls

That made almost up for the lame Mapleton Falls. We headed further down south and reached the Glasshouse Mountains area, where suddenly a few volcanic peaks tower above pine plantations, eucalypt forests, open fields and the leveled plains around.

At the Glasshouse Mountain Lookout we enjoyed a good overviewof the area, the sunset as well as a few cute rock wallabies roaming the area:

Time to go to Brisbane at last. We arrived there after a few hours driving in the evening and met our next .. you guessed right: CouchSurfing host. 😉

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