Sunshine and a Beach Stone – Curlew

Winter break and a chance to get some new ticks.

The challenge on this trip is to set aside an hour or two each day to catch up on work emails and keep the wheels of my part of the industry turning. It’s early days but I have say that it seems to be working quite well.

Today was probably the best day birding that I have had, if not all time then in my most recent memory.   I put the kayak in at Theodalite Creek just north of Woodgate, Queensland at around midday on an outgoing tide. It was a perfect day, for a paddle, no wind, about 23 degrees and sunny. I paddled to the northern side of the estuary and could hear quite a bit of activity coming from lantana scrub. Birds of note were, Red backed fairy wren, spangled drongo, rufous whistler, double barred finch. Then on my way back to the shore I noticed these two Bush Stone-curlew. A first for me.
Beach-stone-curlew-3
Not my actual bird.. photo courtesy of Bryon Bay Birds

 

Catching up with the DustyCampervan

I managed to get a flight to Brisbane courtesy of some free air miles with Virgin, best fare of the day was a 7:30 takeoff. The temperature was a chilly -3. Mr P and Dusty were at Brizzey to meet me and we set off for the 90k drive north to Noosa.

 
 As a rule I never book ahead but had reserved a waterfront site for a week at the Noosa River Caravan Park. We arrived with high expectations of a site overlooking the river, unfortunately they had omitted to tell me the site was on bitumen. Not a blade of grass to be seen. We were given a full refund, I got the impression that ours was a fairly common reaction. Fortunately it wasn’t busy and after a bit of driving around we caught the ferry out to Noosa North Shore Camp for the night.
 

 

I managed to get in a walk along the beach before the wind and rain set in for the night. Saturday morning we had arranged to meet the kids at Yandina Markets to stock up on fresh produce. Most travellers go to the more touristy Eumundi markets near by. Yandina is more of a local produce market, lots of tropical fruits and really friendly people.
Back to Chez Seidl for a  delicious very low food miles lunch, local Mooloolaba king prawns, most of the produce came from the garden.

 

Helen is hard at work tending seedlings planted by the local primary school students. We chatted and I ticked off a few birds on my list. Notably a flock of scarlet honeyeaters.
Tonight we are Coolum Beach, great park and access to the Sunshine Coast free wifi. It’s warm, the sun is shining and they are catching fish off the beach. Life on the road is good.

Messing about in Wooden Boats – Narooma

Just home again from a great weekend catching up with friends in Narooma. We happened to be in town for the 2014 Narooma Boats Afloat Festival. This was the 9th time the featival has been held in Fosters Bay with a flotilla of over 50 boats on show. There were wooden boats of all shapes and sizes, clinkers, putt putts, steam boats, electric and sail boats, something for everyone, as well as arts shows in the quaint little boatsheds around the bay.

Narooma, swimming, fishing and wooden boats

The flotilla arrived for just as the jazz band started playing and we had settled in for the afternoon.

Elixir- definately the spice of life!
Regularly on Sunday mornings, some of the town’s sharpest  minds gather for a cuppa and a spot of trivia. This Sunday, quiz master Charlie, invited us and along  with some other boffins for a breakfast cruise on his beautiful “Wagonga Princess”.
Contestants boarded from the wharf near the Fishing Club laden with baked treats, Thirsty had his amazing gourmet sandwiches and Pig Slops was not going to part with the recipe for his special chocolate slice, needless to say we all had a jolly time.
Wagonga Inlet Cruises are a great way to spend a few hour next time you are in Narooma.Check out more photos from the weekend on the photo page.

Booderee National Park, Jervis Bay and Eastern Bristlebird encounters

With  a weekend to do just what I wanted, it was a great excuse to head to the coast for some sunshine, to try an rid myself of a persistent cough and sore throat that has dogged me for the past couple of weeks.

I left Canberra on Friday after a couple of meetings in the morning and decided to make my way to Booderee National Park on Jervis Bay via, Nerriga. I tuned into a great community radio station, playing a mixture of, jazz, rock and blues, that fitted my mood perfectly and 3 hours later I was on Jervis Bay road. I had read that Green Patch was the best suited camp site for a van , all the other being walk in  sites. The visitors centre was closed when i arrived, so I wasn’t able to get my camping permit or maps, but the park is well sign posted.

The weather at the coast was 10 degrees warmer during the day, the nights were a bit chilly and I missed being able to have a camp fire. I spent Friday afternoon getting set up and them heading out to explore, the area around Green Patch and Bristol Rocks.

It was well and truly dark by the time I got back to camp, I made the most of the hot showers, such a treat in at National Park. The campsite what just about empty, but I had set up next to a couple of Grey Nomads (Gomads) just for security. It was wonderful dropping off to sleep listening to the call of a Mopoke Owl in the distance. I spoke with the ranger on Saturday morning and he gave me a chit to pay on my way out, all very civilised.

Jervis Bay is picture perfect and I was having lots of fun, with my new camera. I walked out to Telegraph Swamp after breakfast and was soon high fiving myself after an Eastern Bristlebird walked across the track in front of me, I first for me and one that I hadn’t dreamed of being lucky enough to see on this trip. The flowering heath was alive with honeyeaters this area will become a mecca for birders in the coming weeks.

I had literally walked my legs off and was tucked up in bed just after sunset,needless to say I was up again and on the road before sunrise.
This shot was not as spectacular as I had hoped, the sandstone cliff opposite needed to be in the sun not in silhouette, but well worth the walk just to see the sunrise. I drove over to Caves Beach and watched the surfers while I cooked my scrambled eggs and smoked salmon.
I then was the first into the National Botanic Gardens, more Eastern Bristle birds, here as well; as several Brassian Thrush, Shiny Black Cockatoos and a pair of Gang Gangs of note.
I decided to take the Kangaroo Valley route on the way home, and apart from taking an interesting detour via Mount Scanzi. Well some may call it a wrong turn but it was very picturesque albeit mostly dirt, thankfully Google maps told be I was not lost.

Gillards Beach, Mimosa Rock NP winter weekend escape

With the thermometer sitting on -1 most mornings last week, we decided to take a chance on the predicted 20 degree maximums forcast for the coast on Saturday and Sunday  being close to accurate to make mid winter dash for some warmer. A very large bag of firewood and the winter doona were thrown in also, just to be safe.

Clyde or Brown?

 

The trip to the coast via the Brown Mountain always seems so much more relaxing, no territorians, trying to break the land speed record by making it  Batemans Bay in under 2 hours. We were struck by the lush vegetation and green paddocks around Bega, no wonder they make such great cheese here. After several stops to buy food we arrived in Tathra around midday. Mimosa Rocks NP is a short drive north of Tathra, Gillards Beach is 5 klms off the main road. A dirt road, but it had been recently graded so the corregations, didn’t result in any breakages this time.

Site map – Gillards Beach

 

We had the choice of the 70 sites that run alond the back of the sand dunes,great views, plenty shade and best of all grass underfoot. Most popular camp sites are so loved that the grass doesn’t get a chance to recover. We chose a site with a fire pit and a great view.
One of the advantages of camping on the south coast in Winter is that is just about completely deserted. We had the pick of the sites and as the afternoon wore on the temperature did reach a balmy 18 degrees. Mr P opted for  shorts and decided to try his luck with his surf rod in the gutter just below the camp site.

The total catch for the afternoon were 6 salmon, but no elusive tailor, despite all the conditions being perfect. 5 salmon were returned to the ocean, I love fresh salmon for breakfast so we decided to keep one.

Pan fried salmon with goats cheese,lemon and black pepper on toast

Birds and walks

The trees around the camp site were full of wattle birds and New Holland Honeyeaters. I made the trek to Blithrey inlet via Middle Lagoon on both days, with a total of 28 species. The lagoon had opened to the sea last week so was now tidal, large flocks of Australian Coot were fossicking for meal along the shore. Best bird of the weekend was a Crested Shrite Tit a lifer for me.
Photo courtesy Geoff Park

Time to get back on the road

I am writing this after my last morning paddle up the river at Sandon, we have been here now for 14 days and tomorrow we need to point the Dusty Campervan south to be home by next weekend.

Paddling, is like a narcotic, calming, sleep inducing and addictive. I have paddled up river for several klms every morning with the tide and against it. I am sure come tomorrow I will have withdrawal symptoms. 
My bird list for our stay has notched 68 species, with hours spent in the mangroves  trying to decide if the honeyeaters were white cheeked or white throated or both. Every bend of the river is dotted with whistling kite and sea eagle nests. There is also a large nest in the Norfolk Island Pine above our van and this has been our pre dawn alarm clock, a sound that will always remind me of our holiday here.

Shacks, the old beach shacks at Sandon have a charm all of their own. Their owners fought with the National Parks to retain possession and won the case. Although, they now must remain within the title holders family or relinquished. 
In the photo below I am returning from my daily ride to the rubbish bins.

Mr P is always on the look out for someone to have a chat with, here he is with Sandon local identity Bobby. 

Tomorrow we will drive south calling into Red Rock and Mylestrom on our way to Crowdy Bay NP. We have eaten fish every day for 2 weeks, I am thinking a pizza might be on tomorrow night’s menu.

Yuraygir National Park, Sandon River Camping

Our fist week has passed and we are well and truly on Sandon River time. The days are very busy, getting up at daylight and paddling up the river, with good fishing and birding, back for a lunch of Paul’s catch of the day. Our afternoons are spent reading,swimming and then more paddling around dusk. Life seems to revolve a round the tides. I have even taken the pushey out for a spin down the bumpy road for a couple of klms, to the point where the corrugations bounce me off the seat. 

The camp is now well and truly at capacity and we are so glad that we got here and secured a great spot on the foreshore before it became  busy. The 40 sites and 8 beach shacks get water from 6 large rain water tanks, the toilets are serviced with bore water. We are keeping our tanks full incase of any shortages in the coming week.

This is the view from across the river at Sandon Village, the only access to the settlement is via boat or 4Wd along the beach.

The campervan is holding up well to the rough roads,we have found that our batteries only hold enough power for 3 days and have been chatting to other campers about the benefits of getting a solar panel.
On the fishing front, the catches have been consistent, with the best fish being a 9kg flat head, this was given to a large family group camping nearby, they very nicely reciprocated with a nice bottle of red. Stay tuned for the photos. 

Sandon River Time

We arrived back at the Sandon River camp in the Yurigar NP on Monday, after a great time with family in Yandina and Mount Tamborine.

Our decision to get here before the school holiday travellers has paid off and we have secured a great camp site on the river and 100 metres from the surf beach. This is probably one of the best camps that we have stayed in, it ticks all the boxes, camp fires, warm water to swim in and the fish are biting, not to mention that there are flush toilets and tank water on site. The only downside is the 9 km of coregations on the way in or out.
Internet connection is non existent so I am posting this  from Maclean, this morning. We have come into town to get some supplies for the next week and to charge the batteries in the van. Weather permitting our plan is to stay here for another week or 10 days. Today’s temperature is 29 degrees and the water must be about 21’so life is good. My bird list is averaging around 35 species each day with 5 new birds on my life list.

The Great Sandy National Park

A visit to the renowned RANSAR listed birding site of Inskip Point was high on my list of priorities for this trip. There were still some migratory birds in residence all showing lots of breeding plumage, feeding at low tide. I have to wonder why these frequent flyers return annually for a stop overin this area. The Great Sandy NP, is all about the 4WD, the beaches a far from being safe habitats but busy access roads.We stayed at the camp ground at Inskip point and I was surprised that nearly everyone had bought their dogs along with them. Hardly ideal for nesting sites for endangered birds species.

How not to exit a camp site.
Dusty took a wrong turn on our way out of the campsite and ended stuck in the sand. Fellow campers stood around and offered advice so we unhitched the venter took the bikes off. Then “Tiney” arrived and hitched up his 4bee with some slick knots on a borrowed rope of help and we soon back on the road. 

We have headed back south to Boreen Point looking for some paddling and fishing. The water hasn’t cleared after the heavy rain at the weekend. We will call into Noosaville tomorrow to collect our new shade screen and then off to Eumundi Markets.

Road trip to the Sunshine Coast

It’s taken a visit from the Dusty Camper to break the drought in South East Queensland.  Torrential rain followed us most of the way from Grafton inland to the border. The sun came out  in the afternoon as we arrived for a night at Toollum Falls This was the first water over the falls in 8 months and the talk of the nearby town of Urbanville bringing the locals came out for a look. 

The sun continued to shine into the afternoon and there was some excellent birding, of note some Golden Whistlers and Lewins Honeyeaters in good numbers as well as a huge Diamond Python curled up beside the path.

We have used the Camps book (7th edition) to find these great out of the way sites. After a smooth trip, this Brisbane we arrived  at Chez Seidl at Yandina in time for a delicious home grown lunch on the verandah.