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Travel Australia with Kids

Saturday, 27th August 2011

Parmiss Keyhani - Tuesday, August 30, 2011

There was an enormous cloud of smoke over the McDonnell Ranges as we travelled into Alice Springs - we have seen quite a bit of bushfire smoke around in the Northern Territory so far.  We did the usual chore stuff while in the city, but did plenty of fun stuff too (well mostly the kids and I did as Mike was busy most of the time doing repairs on the caravan - yes, poor baby!).  The caravan park we stayed at, Heavitree Lodge, is at the base of Heavitree Gap (convenient geography) where a mob of rock wallabies reside and you can feed them every night around dusk - they were the cutest thing and the kids loved that they could get so close to "wild" wallabies.

The nights are very cold, the days start off cool and very windy but warm up by mid-day. We spent the better part of one day at the Alice Springs Desert Park which is quite extensive - it has an enormous enclosed nocturnal house (we had 2 turns in there - the kids loved looking around the dark glassed cages for the animals) and about a dozen different bird enclosures with pretty much every bird you can think of! One of Tiran's off-on hobbies on the trip has been collecting feathers, so he was mesmerised with all the different colours on offer.  Kia was most excited by the massive red kangaroo - he was quite impressive actually, wouldn't want to get into a tiff with him.  Watched a very hazy but beautiful sunset from Anzac Hill and on the way back down saw a bushfire in the town - fire seems to be everywhere around here!

We had been warned to be wary of the aboriginal people in Alice Springs - I can honestly say we had no troubles at all.  A very quiet and shy aboriginal couple came to our camp one night to sell one of their paintings, one of which we did buy for $30, a bargain for authentic aboriginal art if you ask me (well it was a painting and it was done by an aboriginal, so to my art-naive mind, it was authentic indeed!).  I also got my culture fix at the Central Australian Museum and the Strenlow Research Centre - very interesting information about the Strenlow family, one of whom collected an enormous audio-visual library of aboriginal sacred ceremonies (the majority of which can't be shown to the public). There is also quite a large Art Gallery with a large selection of Albert Namitjira art on display.

Heading north from Alice Springs, we detoured to Gemtree for a bit of garnet fossicking; the whole setting reminded me of a cowboy-western movie set - from the little pond you cross to the fences and signs. We chose the easiest option by buying a bucket of dirt all ready to be fossicked!  There's nothing to it really: put some dirt into a pan and shake out the dirt, remove the large worthless rocks, then give the rest a good wash and hold it up to the light of the sun - the garnet's red colour shines through and you pick them out.  Kia gave up after 10 minutes - not enough action to keep him interested. Tiran on the other hand was born to the task - it got so he could pick out the larger garnets before even washing them! We were very happy with our loot and the proprietor was duly impressed that a 4 year old had found so many jewels in a bucket of dirt.

We stopped off again at Devil's Marbles for lunch and saw our old friend the dingo - and then we saw a complete moron throw him some food!!!!  I've lost track of the number of signs we've seen everywhere about not feeding wildlife - I was pretty certain the majority of people who had a driver's licence could read, but obviously I had jumped to conclusions! Mike actually went over and told them that he was an off-duty park ranger from NSW and gave him a big lecture about the dangers of feeding wild animals - he did quite nicely (as only Mike could because I would have been reduced to much profanity if I were to do it!). So a marathon drive of 800km over 2 days saw us reach the "middle" of Northern Territory and we spent a hugely enjoyable night at the Daly Waters Pub - absolutely the best steak I have had since leaving Sydney and a hilarious one-man show to boot.  It was a great atmosphere and the caravan park was completely packed, which meant that the boys found some kids their own age to play with for the afternoon.

Mataranka Hot Springs had been earmarked for certain visitation after watching the Gall Boys DVDs (makers of Kedron caravans and several DVDs about travelling in very inhospitable terrain with their caravans) - it certainly lived up to the hype. Naturally hot springs (well warm actually but extremely pleasant) in a tropical setting; thankfully not very crowded at all on our visit so we spent a very happy and relaxing 2 hours soaking!

We passed through the town of Katherine (stopping only to stock up on supplies, fuel and water) and drove straight to Litchfield National Park (one of Michael's fondest memories from his RAF days and a place that has changed tremendously since then).  We spent 4 lovely (but quite hot) days at Litchfield visiting the Lost City (enormous varied-shaped rocks which really did look like a miniature ancient city), Blythe Homestead, the magnetic termite mounds (unfortunately couldn't get too close to these), a few enormous "regular" termite mounds and the multitude of falls (Tolmer Falls, Florence Falls and the lovely Wangi Falls where we had a swim nearly every day). We met a very friendly off-duty park ranger our first day there and in the course of our conversation I mentioned all the fire smoke we'd seen in the Northern Territory over the past 3 weeks - he told us that they are all deliberately lit (as back-burning season ends in early July).  How unbelievable is that??

As lovely as Litchfield had been we were looking forward to reaching Darwin - mainly for some air-conditioning!


Massive cloud of fire smoke over West McDonnell Ranges - NT (16Aug11)Kia & Tiran with new friend at Alice Springs Desert Park - Alice Springs, NT (17Aug11)Tiran with his old friend the quoll (has never forgiven one for stealing one of his shoes in Tasmania) - Alice Springs Desert Park, NT (17Aug11)Impessive red kangaroo - Alice Springs Desert Park, NT (17Aug11)
Feeding the Feeding the Smoky sunset from Anzac Hill - Alice Springs, NT (17Aug11)Smoky sunset from Anzac Hill - Alice Springs, NT (17Aug11)
Bushire! - Alice Springs, NT (17Aug11)Mum & joey wallaby - Heavitree Gap, NT (18Aug11)Tiran feeding mum & joey wallabies - Heavitree Gap, NT (18Aug11)Learning the art of fossicking - Gemtree, NT (19Aug11)

Tuesday, 16th August 2011

Parmiss Keyhani - Thursday, August 18, 2011

We made an early start in the morning, keen to reach the Yulara Resort (campgrounds for the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park). Entry into the park is $25 per adult, but it's a 3 day pass, so you can space out the parts you visit and take your time exploring and doing the walks.

We decided to explore Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) first - it takes 30 minutes from the park's entrance just to reach the car park. The colours here are so distinct and strong - the blue of the sky, the orange rocks, the green spinifex and scrubs (if only I had bought the polarising cover for my camera lens - the pictures don't do the views justice).  We did 2 of the walks - Walpa Gorge and Valley of the Winds - which were both lovely in their own way. I loved how close we got to the domes - they look so smooth from afar, but up close there are plenty of crags, gashes, even huge chunks carved out.  Kia kept a few of the tourists (and there were so many of them unfortunately) amused with plenty of anecdotes.  We stayed for the sunset which was truly lovely, but headed back quickly as the temperature drops along with the sun.

The next day was spent around Uluru (Ayers Rock) - we visited the Cultural Centre first which has quite a good display explaining the dreamtime stories tied to the area, as well the significance of the site as ceremonial grounds to the aboriginals.  There was a strong message being sent out for tourists not to climb the rock - I think it's a valid enough request, but they have constructed a chain rail along the climbing section which signals that climbing is not forbidden. The park is run jointly by the aboriginal community in the area, and if they don't want people to climb, I think a "Do not climb" sign is probably a more unambiguous message.  The climb is actually quite difficult (as confessed to me by a few tourists), but we decided not to climb as a sign of respect for their culture (personal decision).

There are also a few art and craft galleries within the Cultural Centre - some really magnificent art (if only I had a spare $2000!). We then headed towards Uluru itself - it's such an iconic picture you almost can't believe you're there in person.  The colour changes through the day as well - in the morning and from afar it's a dusky pink, as you get closer and towards sunset the orange comes out more and after the sun has gone down it's a dark rusty red colour.  We drove all the way around it first and then parked the car to get closer.  We walked to a little rockpool at the base and another area that had a rock wave formation - all beautiful.

But for Mike and I, the experience was severely marred by the sheer number of people there. We counted at least half a dozen huge coach loads (mostly European and Asian tourists) and a few helicopters overhead as well. The sunset viewing area was standing room only - there were at least 100 people there. I guess if we want to see it without the crowds we should come back in the severe heat of summer?  On our last day we did another drive to the lookouts for both Kata Tjuta and Uluru to have some family pictures without the "sunset crowds".

Then came one of the highlights of the trip so far - Kings Canyon and the West McDonnell Ranges (absolutely MUST SEE!!). It took another full day of driving to reach Kings Canyon Resort from Yulara (it's getting to where we all groan as we get into the car each day!), but it was sooooo worth it!  There are 2 main walks to do at Kings Canyon: one along the creek bed (rated easy) and one along the rim (rated difficult and a bit scary as you get close to the cliff edges in places).  We opted for the easy walk first which left me completely unsatisfied, as though I hadn't seen Kings Canyon at all.  So although it was now the middle of the day and pretty hot, I forced the decision to do the rim walk too.

The first 800m or so is the hardest as it's straight up, and granted there were a couple of small stretches where you walked close to the edge, but once on the actual rim, it was absolutely magnificent!!  It's a 6km walk but you're so busy marvelling at the views, you hardly notice the time.  It helped immensely that we ran into a lovely family (with 2 boys a bit older than ours) halfway through and the kids scampered about together and forgot to whinge!  Our only mistake was not taking enough water along with us and by the time we got down 3 hours later, Tiran was hot and dehydrated (Kia who is half goat, half camel felt no ill effects) - but we stripped off his clothes and cooled him down with water and he recovered quite quickly.

The next day we tackled the Mereenie Loop - our research (via the information centres and first hand accounts of recent travellers) had given us enough confidence to take Optimus down the 155km dirt road.  They had done quite a bit of work on parts of the road over the last couple of months, so nearly half the road was "sealed", but the other half had us crawling along at around 20km an hour, so it took us over 4 hours to reach the start of the gorges of the West McDonnel Ranges. Never mind, the views of the ranges more than made up for it.

Brief accounts of the gorges and attractions (really you have to see these places yourself!):  amazing views of Mt Sonder and the Finke River (still had a bit of water), Glen Helen Gorge (lovely, but you can only see the entrance to the gorge unless you're willing to swim around, which we weren't), Ochre Pits (a palette of colour, absolutely fabulous), Ormiston Gorge (the most beautiful of the lot), Ellery Creek Big Hole (great name and lovely gorge, but strong fish smell due to algae infestation killing the fish) and Standley Chasm (had to pay to get in, it was lovely although the "light show" wasn't that magical, but I wouldn't do it again). All in all, one of the most spectacularly scenic areas we have ever seen!!

Now we faced the inviting prospect of travelling all the way back up the centre (about 1000kms) to the northern part of the Northern Territory!


Wild camel on the way to Yulara - NT (10Aug11)Walpa Gorge Walk - Kata Tjuta, NT (10Aug11)Walpa Gorge Walk - Kata Tjuta, NT (10Aug11)Valley of the Winds Walk - Kata Tjuta, NT (10Aug11)
Sunset over Kata Tjuta - NT (10Aug11)Rockpool at Uluru, NT (11Aug11)Kia & Tiran at Uluru with climbing rail in background - Uluru, NT (11Aug11)The changing colours of Uluru: pre-sunset (11Aug11)
The changing colours of Uluru: sunset (11Aug11)The changing colours of Uluru: post-sunset (11Aug11)Obligatory family photo - Uluru, NT (12Aug11)Kings Canyon as seen from creek below - Kings Canyon, NT (13Aug11)

Wednesday, 10th August 2011

Parmiss Keyhani - Friday, August 12, 2011

Had a few lovely days of "respite" at Corella Dam (just east of Mt Isa) - some of the free camp spots in this country are truly wonderful.  The absolutely cloudless days (and I mean EVERY day) meant the boys pretty much lived outside, playing whatever crocodile make-believe story Kia had cooked up.  Tiran also expressed a keen interest as "cane toad killer" for a possible profession - there were quite a few around, day and night, so we made up a solution of dettol in a trigger bottle and off they went killing toads! Disgusting animals - I felt no sympathy at all!

We took the zodiac out a few times croc-spotting (freshwater only, don't worry) and saw quite enough to satisfy the troups. On our way back from the last trip, we spied a very large one on the bank (close to 4 metres we guessed) and slowed down to get as close as we could - usually they slither into the water gently as soon as you get too close, but this one actually charged into the water as we approached, so we hightailed it out of there (freshwater or not!).

At Mt Isa we free camped behind the RSL Club - for payment, they "request" that you have a meal at the club, which is really no hardship at all (in fact the food was pretty good).  We visited the Isa Experience & Riversleigh Fossil Centre - what a tremendous amount of information about the history of the town! And very well done - lots of mining equipment to keep the kids amused (for a little while anyway). I could have easily spent another 2 hours in there (in addition to the 2 already spent).

Mt Isa is quite a large town but still has a country town feel to it and it's very widely spaced out. Of course the usual chores of shopping, post office, catching up on a bit of work, laundry, and a car service had to be taken care of as well, but that's what the cities are for. But plenty of water play for the 3 boys (who are suffering severe withdrawal symptoms) including another boat outing on Moondarra Lake and an afternoon splashing around at the huge water play park in town.

So excited to cross into the Northern Territory - as we have been for  all the state borders so far.  But my oh my, the distances are hard to describe! We entered in the middle of the state and headed south first, towards Alice Spring. The majority of our first 2 days were spent in the car, which led to very grumpy boys with too much energy to burn in the afternoons.  The scenery far greener now than it had been the last few weeks in outback Queensland and amazingly few roadkill.  Spent a night in Tennant Creek out of necessity to break up the huge distance to the Devil's Marbles, where we were greeted by the first cloudy day we've had in weeks.  It really is amazing to see these massive boulders perched so precariously on top of each other - it's very tempting to try and push them over! And we were all hugely excited with our first wild dingo sighting - this one seemed to be a "resident" of the camp area and although he didn't come right up to people, he stayed in the campgrounds for hours (I think people have thrown scraps to him in the past). Gorgeous animal!

Another long day of driving took us through Ti-Tree (lots of stray dogs and not much else), Red Earth Mango Farm (yummy home made mango ice cream), the imposing statue of the aboriginal hunter atop the hill at Aileron, and saw us cross the Tropic of Capricorn for the second time (also our rest area for the night). We stopped off at Alice Springs for supplies and at the information centre for details of the state of the roads (the absolute nicest and most helpful information centre staff in a very long time!) and picked up our census pack to fill out that night (must be counted no matter where you are).  We detoured off the highway and negotiated a very short section (15km) of the infamously rough Ernest Giles Road (took us nearly 40 minutes) to see the Henbury Meteorite craters - these things look much more impressive from above though and none of the lookouts were high enough to give us a good overall picture.

So we headed off towards the Red Centre and the arguably the true centre of Australia.

Lovely sunset at Corella Dam, QLD (30July11)Beautiful colour contrasts - Corella Dam, QLD (01Aug11)Freshwater crocodile basking in the sun - Corella Dam, QLD (01Aug11)Camp spot as seen from the crocs' view - Corella Dam, QLD (01Aug11)
Digging up some fossils - Riversleigh Fossil Centre, Mt Isa, QLD (02Aug11)Kiavash & Tiran - Mt Isa, QLD (02Aug11)Outback @ Isa Complex - Mt Isa, QLD (02Aug11)View from the lookout - Mt Isa, QLD (03Aug11)
Boating at Moondara Lake - Mt Isa, QLD (04Aug11)A bit of fun at the water park - Mt Isa, QLD (04Aug11)Crossing the Northern Territory border (06Aug11)Lovely countryside colours of NT - just wish there wasn't so much of it! (06Aug11)


Friday 29th July 2011

Parmiss Keyhani - Sunday, July 31, 2011

Back into the wonderful oranges, blues and greens of outback country.  The nights and early mornings are quite cool and the days sunny and warm - it's a hard life, I know!  The drives between towns are quite long now. Stopped overnight at Cloncurry and stocked up on our very depleted food supplies, then headed to Winton on what is called the "dinosaur trail" (Winton, Hughenden and Richmond making up the triangle of dinosaur attractions in the area).  We had a quick stop along the way at McKinlay to photograph the "Walkabout Creek Hotel" from Crocodile Dundee - this was also where we suffered our first roadkill tragedy when a flock of lovely finches flew right in front of us and one of them crashed into the grill. We were so proud of our clean record up to then!

Winton is the town of "Waltzing Matilda" and in every nook and cranny of the town that they can think of, some reference exists to the famous poem by Banjo Patterson (he wrote the poem on a cattle station nearby and performed it publicly for the first time at the North Gregory Hotel in town). The Matilda Centre is a museum entirely based on the poem itself and the themes from it - such as the history and lives of swagmen, drovers and the outback life in general.  It's actually quite a good museum!  We also had a look at Arno's Wall - an odd but unique expression of art where Arno has cemented whatever he can think of and has on hand in a wall around his house.

We also got to experience the festivities of the Camel Races at Winton - I love the small scale of events in the country towns. They have such a laid back, informal air to them. There were perhaps 200 people there and the MC of the events was an absolute riot!  Our favourite event was the Camel Tag where contestants (just your average blokes) are put in a large pen with a camel and have to tag them with a strip of gaffa tape, which is the easy part, and then have to run back and grab if off the camel, which is the really hard part.  No one got hurt but those camels were not shy with their kicks!

We stayed at Long Waterhole a few kilometers outside of Winton - it was quite shallow at this stage of the year, but enough water to make mud for mud fights! Also a good free camping base to do our sightseeing, all of which were over 100km away, along very rough dirt roads.  We spent a day fossicking for opals at Opalton - it was hot, dusty and we had absolutely no idea what we were doing, but the kids (specially Tiran) were right into it and we managed to find a few rocks with veins of opal and one with a good sized specimen!  After the lucky find, Mike was ready to pitch a tent (as a few people were doing) and spend a couple of weeks looking for the "big one"!

The next day we made a trip to Lark Quarry Dinosaur Trackways - another 100km-plus trip down a dirt road - where the footprints of a stampede of small dinosaurs running away from a very large one have been discovered and preserved.  This  may be something that would have been interesting to see on TV, but I was quite underwhelmed with the whole thing. Couldn't really fathom why this was important - we already knew big dinosaurs chased and ate little ones, so what was the big deal with finding their footprints?  I guess it's one of those things you like or not.

Hughenden was the next town on the trail - they have a big statue of a muttaburrasaurus and a small museum which includes facts about the discovery of this dinosaur in the area and a great 10 minute DVD about the creation of Porcupine Gorge, which is where we camped for 2 nights.  We spent an entire day down in the beautiful gorge (so picturesque) - it was a 1km walk straight down (which of course had to be climbed later in the day), but what a perfect place to have a picnic and relax.  We also had a visit at camp from the resident bettongs (small marsupials) which thrilled the boys no end.

Our last leg on the dino trail was Richmond and what Kia had been waiting for.....Kronosaurus Korner.  So many fossils of different types of dinosaurs have been found in this area - the majority of them by station owners mustering their cattle near dry creek and river beds.  They had a really great display about how fossils are found, cleaned, identified etc and a fantastic computer generated DVD about a Kronosaurus attacking other very large dinosaurs - the kids must have watched it a dozen times!  We tried our hand at fossicking for fossils too - Tiran found a great specimen of a fish jaw bone, but mostly we found fish scales and a few shell fossils.  It was too hot to stick around looking for more and we had a big day of driving ahead of us (nearly 300km) getting us ever closer to our next border crossing into the Northern Territory!

Walkabout Creek Hotel of Waltzing Matilda Centre - Winton, QLD (22July11)Even the bins are dino-themed - Winton, QLD (22July11)Art is art, I guess? - Arno's Wall,  Winton, QLD (23July11)
Even the sculptures are Waltzing Matilda - Winton, QLD (23July11)Waltzing Matilda Centre - Winton, QLD (23July11)Best fun to watch! Camel Tag! - Winton, QLD (23July11)Camel races - Winton, QLD (23July11)
Camel love - Winton, QLD (23July11)Sunset at Long Waterhole - Winton, QLD (23July11)How adorable is that? Daddy emu and his new brood - en route to Opalton, QLD (24July11)Fossicking for opals - Opalton, QLD (24July11)


Thursday 21st July 2011

Parmiss Keyhani - Friday, July 22, 2011

We had about a week to kill before we could go into Lawn Hill National Park, so we drove straight to Gregory Downs rest area. What an absolute oasis in the desert!  We camped in the upper part of the rest area the first night as all the spots alongside the river were already taken.  But we moved down next to the beautiful Gregory River the following morning and had 6 beautiful days in the flawless winter outback weather.

The flow of the current in the section of the river along which everyone camps is quite manageable and everyday after lunch we would get in our swimmers and grab the boogey boards and come floating down - the best water park I've ever been to! Kia took to it like a fish, but Tiran had to be persuaded strongly (read bribed) to have a go with his life jacket on and hanging on to Mike for dear life!

Kia lost his first tooth on our 3rd day there - can't believe my little man is growing up so fast (so depressing!!!). He was very excited and could hardly wait to fall asleep so the tooth fairy could reimburse him - what's the going rate these days anyway?  The tooth fairy basically raided my change wallet and left a little bit of each coin under his pillow.

Our only flaw with Gregory Downs was its remoteness to groceries!  After an absolutely horrible dinner at the hotel - basically the only establishment at Gregory Downs, serving as fuel station, grocery shop, restaurant (I apply the term very loosely in this case) - and finding out that there would be no bread arriving for sale for another 3 days, we decided to head into Burketown (a very small town on the coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria, about 120km away on an unsealed roads) for some supplies.

We were travelling along nicely when we saw a group of 3 wedge-tailed eagles feasting on a kangaroo carcass on the road (the amount of roadkill in Queensland is mind-boggling).  I've had quite a bit trouble capturing these magnificent birds on film, so we slowed right down and although they all flew off as we approached, they landed in a nearby tree, close enough to photograph. So Mike is hanging out his window with the video camera while inching along slowly to get as close as possible and he runs over the carcass - no harm done as it was already dead, but 2km down the road we realise we had a flat tyre. What are the odds against running over a dead kangaroo and having a piece of its bone pierce your tyre?

Therein ensued our little comedy of errors:  after being unsuccessful at extracting the bone from the tyre, the decision was made to put on the spare and head into Burketown with hopes of repairing the flat. Then followed about 30 minutes of trying everything we could think of to retrieve the spare tyre from its storage position under the truck. We even had a lovely family on holiday stop to help but no luck at all. So Mike patched up the flat as best as he could, but he then proceeded to re-inflate the tyre with the air compressor with the truck engine OFF - a few minutes later and with the tyre not quite inflated, we now also had a flat battery. The second car we flagged down contained two extremely kind and helfpul sales reps from Elders, who wouldn't give up until they had jump-started us.  We headed into Burketown, had some lunch and had the tyre patched up properly - the mechanic had the spare tyre off after 2 tries and showed Mike how to do it for next time.  In retrospect we realised how very lucky we had been; we had no food or water with us in the truck and who knows how long we could have been stuck there (these aren't well-travelled or busy roads, we're in outback Queensland after all).

The road into Lawn Hill from Gregory Downs was quite rough and corrugated with a couple of river crossings, which were thankfully quite shallow at this time of year.  Adel's Grove is the closest community (very very small one) to the national park so we stopped in for supplies - thankfully they still had bread (all of which they freeze upon delivery) and eggs, but no fruit or vegetables; basically canned and dry goods only. And we had the best hamburger on the trip yet at their gorgeous cafe. It was quite warm now, with very little breeze, and every single day gave us cloudless blue skies and sunshine - I have never seen such consistent weather!

Put Lawn Hill National Park on your MUST SEE list immediately!  Our 3 days there - camped next to our lovely friends M & L - were fabulous and too short.  We opted to take our zodiac on the gorge (rather than hire the unwieldy canoes on offer) for the day - magnificently beautiful and calm on the gorge. Successful freshwater crocodile sightings, swimming in Middle Gorge  near the waterfalls, trying to paddle our heavy boat up the tiny little rapids to Upper Lagoon (Mike ended up having to get in the water up to his chest and pull us across) - it was perfect, perfect, perfect!  And there were plenty of other kids for Kia and Tiran to play with (doesn't happen too often).  We did some of the lovely walks around the park - my favourite being the Island Stack which has fantastic views of the countryside and gorges.

On our way out of the Lawn Hill we got another puncture in the same truck tyre (we were having a run of luck I tell you!!) and after yet another patch job (tyre was starting to look like a patchwork quilt) Mike realised that the air compressor's fuse had blown. So we were stuck (again) and in luck (again) when some lovely campers going into the park pulled over and lent us the use of their air compressor.  The tyre was still leaking and needed replacing, but it was good enough to get us back to Gregory Downs. We spent another 2 nights there, giving both Optimus and Ironhide a good clean before heading off further into outback Queensland.


Termite city - Outback QLD (09July11)That's a nice size perspective! - Burke & Wills Roadhouse, QLD (09July11)Magical oasis in the outback - Gregory Downs, QLD (10July11)Best campspot EVER! - Gregory Downs, QLD (11July11)
Kia and Michael boarding down the river - Gregory Downs, QLD (11July11)Swimming was a lot more work! - Gregory Downs, QLD (11July11)Kia's 1st lost tooth - Gregory Downs, QLD (11July11)Not looking too impressed - Gregory Downs, QLD (12July11)
Loving every minute of it! - Gregory Downs, QLD (11July11)Wedge-tailed eagles - en route to Burketown, QLD (14July11)More Big Sky Country - en route to Lawn Hill NP, QLD (16July11)Lawn Hill Gorge, QLD (17July11)

Friday 8th July 2011

Parmiss Keyhani - Sunday, July 10, 2011

As we left Wonga Beach and headed inland we received word that my wonderful grandmother had finally succumed to her cancer - she passed away on Monday 27th June 2011.  We had returned to Sydney from the WA border in March to see her (and I'm so glad that we did it when we were all still able to enjoy being with each other) and I had made a decision then that I wouldn't return for the funeral, for a multitude of reasons. So we continued on our trip - saddened but with the sharp point of grief muted thanks to the distance.

We travelled down towards Cairns and took the magically beautiful road via Kuranda to head inland towards Atherton again. At our free campspot at Tolga, we met up with M & L, a lovely couple whom Michael had met very briefly in LaTrobe, Tasmania (soooo long ago!). We had a lovely catch up and discovered that we were travelling in roughly the same direction for next few weeks. We visited the Crystal Caves in Atherton - a huge underground "cavern" full of stones, rocks and crystals collected from all over the world.  It was quite an impressive collection and the kids loved it because of the groovy mining hats with lamps that they got to wear and because they could touch absolutely everything!

Had planned to spend the night at a free campspot in Ravenshoe (the highest town in Queensland) but found it closed down when we arrived. So we had a quick look at Millstream Falls (Little and Big) and headed further inland for the night, leaving the cold and rainy tablelands behind.  We had pre-booked our stay and tour of the Undarra Lava Tubes, which was very lucky because M & L who showed up a couple of hours after us without a booking were out of luck for a couple of days!  A very worthwhile and interesting tour of these "tubes" (tunnels really) that are formed through the supercooling of the top layer of volcanic lava.  They can only be discovered when part of the roof above them collapses but they go on for kilometers!

As the reality of Maman Robi's passing washed over me, aided in no small part by the outpouring of emotion via email and Facebook, I decided that I needed to return for the funeral after all. We weren't prepared for another marathon driving session (much longer this time!), so we travelled back to Cairns over the next day, stored Optimus and Ironhide and caught a plane back to Sydney (very exciting for the boys and I must say they behaved impeccably on the flight).  We spent 4 days in Sydney, helping as much as we could with the arrangements and although the occasion was a sad one, it was wonderful to see the family again.  My paternal grandmother and auntie had also just arrived from Iran, so it was a bittersweet reunion on that front as well.

We flew back to Cairns the day after the funeral and spent the next 2 days driving back to where we had left off - this re-treading of steps gave us all a chance to wind down from all the happenings over the weekend and get back into the "travel mode" again.  Stopped off very quickly at the Innot Hot Springs - yup, they were pretty hot! At our first rest stop (near Gilbert River) we had a midnight knock on the door from the police - apparently a teenage girl had run off after an argument with her parents and was last seen getting in a car similar to ours. The very apologetic officer had a quick peek inside our caravan and continued on his search. The next day as we passed through Normanton, we were hailed on the UHF by roadside workers - they asked if we were aware that a description of our car has been given out in relation to a missing/runaway girl. We were starting to think there was an APB out on us!

Travelling through this part of the outback, the true meaning of "Big Sky Country" finally revealed itself. There is often nothing between ground and sky to break the vista (no trees, buildings, even radio towers) and the sky is massive and overwhelms you! It has to be experienced to be understood.

Karumba is a lovely little seaside town, but unless you have an adequate sized boat for the sea or a boating license to hire one, there really isn't much to do there.  We spent the afternoon on the beach, walking and collecting shells, then headed back towards Normanton.  We had bookings for the upcoming weekend at Lawn Hill Gorge National Park so were planning on driving through Normanton, stopping only to have pictures with the huge crocodile statue.  But as we pulled over in front of said croc statue, Mike discovered that the power-steering liquid had all drained out. So NRMA was called (we're fast becoming their favourite customers) and the local mechanic showed up 20 minutes later and after a quick check diagnosed a leaking hose (I'm pretty sure Michael told him that at the beginning)!

Initial estimates were that we may have to hang around for a week, so the NRMA put us up in the caravan park and arranged a hire car (1 of 4 available in the whole town) and we called and re-arranged our Lawn Hill Gorge booking.  But as it turned out, the handy mechanic only needed 1 day to fix the problem - a loose clamp on the hose. I was sort of looking forward to "having to" stay put in one place, especially a place like Normanton where there is so little to do, you HAVE to relax and catch up on things like blogging.  But we were also quite happy not to have our schedule tightened anymore than it already has been.

Our last views of the lovely cane fields - road to Cairns, QLD (26June11)Lookout views from Kuranda - QLD (26June11)Lookout views from Kuranda - QLD (26June11)Curtain Fig Tree - Yungaburra, QLD (26June11)
Curtain Fig Tree - Yungaburra, QLD (26June11)I've never seen the actual end of a rainbow before! - Yungaburra, QLD (26June11)Ironhide & Optimus with their new Crystal Caves - Atherton, QLD (28June11)
Crystal Caves - Atherton, QLD (28June11)They loved those hats! - Crystal Caves, Atherton, QLD (28June11)Height from ground depicts annual rainfall, distance is from Ravenshoe - QLD (28June11)Little Millstream Falls - Ravenshoe, QLD (28June11)


Saturday 25th June 2011

Parmiss Keyhani - Monday, June 27, 2011

All the doubts we had harboured about our decision to drive so hard and fast to get to the Dance Festival were washed away over the weekend. At the risk of sounding very politically incorrect (but it's my blog, so what the heck?) our impressions of the Aboriginal people we had come across so far was one of confusion and sadness.  But at Laura we got to see large community groups and the interactions were relaxed and joyful - maybe it was the festival atmosphere, but it was fabulous just the same.

The festival was packed (I heard 5000 attendees at some point) but a wonderful atmosphere.  The weather was magical - clear blue skies everyday and warm (nearing hot, but not quite). There was lots of dancing (as would generally befit a Dance Festival) but also music, films and art.  The organising committee had a very laid back attitude - they worked very hard, but didn't set a high score for timetables or schedules.  Mike accidently tuned into their channel on the UHF and could hear all the to-ing and fro-ing between the volunteers and organisers - quite good entertainment, actually. Kia and Tiran were absolutely mesmerised with the opening night's dances, but by the last day had had their fill and preferred to play at the campsite.  The ground was so black from the backburn that they both changed colour by the end of the day!

We visited nearby Split Rock - our first view of aboriginal rock art.  I thought it quite impressive, although I had nothing to compare it against yet.  We split up on the last afternoon:  I went down to the last part of the festival for a bit more music and dancing and the boys and Mike stayed at camp to relax.  Unfortunately for Mike, his relaxing was cut painfully short:  he was scouting out our departure route and went to move an overhanging branch from a tree, which as it turns out was harbouring a nest of native bees, who, understandably, got very upset with him and stung him a few times!

We had suffered a punctured tyre on Optimus on our first night at camp (thanks to a broken bit of tree branch on the ground); Mike had done a patch job on it and it seemed to be holding up quite well over the weekend, but we weren't completely certain that it would hold up upon driving. I kept an eye on it for the first few kilometers and as it seemed to be holding up, we relaxed.  We arrived at our next campspot - the Lion's Den Hotel at Helenvale, about 30km south of Cooktown - to discover that we had lost the wheel!  (Mike: "The wheel is gone".  Parmiss: "Oh you mean it's shredded?".  Mike: "No, the whole wheel including the rim is gone!").  Hilarious a couple of weeks later, but at the time we weren't laughing!  Mike deduced that while putting the patched tyre back on the caravan he got distracted and forgot to actually tighten the wheel nuts.  Wonder where our tyre ended up?  Hope it's not too lonely out in the outback roads between Cooktown and Laura!  I still can't believe we drove over 100km with 3 tyres on the 5th wheeler and didn't even notice!

The very friendly mechanic at Cooktown couldn't provide us with a spare tyre or the replacement parts we needed, but he patched up the threads on the wheel rim so we could get back to Cairns.  We spent the day looking around lovely Cooktown - a very clean and quiet town; I got my museum fix and Kia got his crocodile fix with the "Croc Shop" which featured an enormous 5m crocodile statue in the front window and was filled with crocodile paraphenelia.

Then off to Cairns via Mareeba to sort out our tyre situation - I have to say I've been really impressed with the NRMA Premium Care; they've stepped up everytime. We managed to get all our errands and shopping done at the "big city" and had a quick look around the marina (where we saw some jaw-dropping boats!  Tiran has now decided that after this trip is over we have to buy a massive boat and travel around the coast of Australia!) and foreshore before heading up along the beautiful coast road to Port Douglas and then to our camp spot at Wonga Beach.  The weather was quite tempermental during our stay - hot when the sun was out, cool and windy when the clouds came over.  But given that it was now late June, we were quite happy to be up north.

We spent a day up at the Daintree and Cape Tribulation.  It's a huge area and so very very commercial - it seemed as if nearly every building we passed was a resort, B&B or backpacker accommodation of some type.  The Discovery Centre was excellent - in addition to the great information about the area, they also had some very handy animal documentaries showing in one of their theatres, so the boys were kept busy while we got to actually look through the centre properly.  We had lunch near the beach at Cape Tribulation - all quite nice, but sorry to say, not all that spectacular.  I was much more impressed with Mossman Gorge - beautiful rainforest surrounding this postcard-style gorge with huge white boulders.

Although we felt we hadn't really seen much of the Queensland coast, we're quite excited about heading inland towards the Queensland Outback - and how did we go through half of our trip so fast anyway????

Camping on the black soil - Laura, QLD (17June11)Warm welcome from Uncle George to start the festival -  Laura, QLD (17June11)Eventual winners Lockhart River -  Laura, QLD (17June11)The didj players did an awesome job! - Laura, QLD (17June11)
Laura Dance Festival -  Laura, QLD (18June11)Laura Dance Festival -  Laura, QLD (18June11)Laura Dance Festival -  Laura, QLD (18June11)Laura Dance Festival -  Laura, QLD (18June11)
Laura Dance Festival -  Laura, QLD (18June11)Laura Dance Festival -  Laura, QLD (18June11)Laura Dance Festival -  Laura, QLD (18June11)Laura Dance Festival -  Laura, QLD (18June11)


Friday 17th June 2011

Parmiss Keyhani - Monday, June 20, 2011

Let me tell something to you.......Queensland is a MASSIVE state! You can easily spend 3 months leisurely ambling along the coast - but we had to do it in 2 weeks.  So in my mind, we haven't really done the Queensland coast justice - great excuse to have to return!

Although we managed great glimpses of some of the lovely towns, most of the next 10 days was spent driving and there were places we by-passed altogether (like Bundaberg, Gladstone, Townsville).  One place we had been dying to see was 1770 - you get such completely conflicting reviews on this place (it's either love or hate it seems):  well we absolutely loved it!  It was so peaceful and quiet (helps that it was the middle of the week out of peak season) with postcard views and calm waters (with no crocodiles!) for the boys to play in.  Our 4 hours there were certainly not enough, but gave us a good incentive to come back later.

In the everlasting quest for barra-fishing we spent a couple of nights at Boynedale Bush Camp at Awoonga Dam (near Calliope), but alas these waters are getting too cold now for the barra to really bite - the boys all managed a good catch of catfish though, so not all was lost.

I was expecting a balmy change in the weather as we crossed the Topic of Capricorn into Rockhampton, but it was a very cold and drizzly day.  We spent about an hour at the Gracemere stockyards (the largest in Australia) and boy did we stick out like a clump of weeds!  EVERYONE there was wearing boots and a cowboy hat and there I am toting my camera around like a total tourist!  It was fun to watch the auctions though and I managed to find one friendly face in the crowds to explain it to me.  We spent our 1 day in Rockhampton at the lovely Botanical Gardens which also has a very small, free zoo and Kia's day was made complete when we at last found the crocodile enclosure.  It only contained 3 small crocs, but hey it was a crocodile and that's all that mattered.

We had a shopping day at McKay (again a very cold wet day) and spent that night at Peter Faust Dam near Proserpine, where the fishing rods came out yet again with promise of barra fishing.  Amazingly enough, this time we could all see the enormous barramundi in the clear creek water, but they sat there absolutely still even when the lure was thrown very close by. The boys were beside themselves knowing the barra were right there, but not even sparing a glance at the lures!

By the time we arrived at gorgeous Airlie Beach, the long drives had taken their toll and we spent our 2 days there doing very little. They  had some great off-peak season deals for cruises around the Whitsundays but we weren't around long enough even to do that! We second-guessed our decision to rush up to Laura a few times, but it was too late to back track now, so we sighed and made grand plans for doing a sailing holiday around the Whitsundays at a later stage.

A lightning quick stop at Bowen and the Big Mango and off we were again, through the lovely sugar cane towns of Ayr and Home Hill. I had really been looking forward to seeing a sugar cane field burn and the Burdekin area is where you supposedly have the best chance, but no luck!  We even chased down a couple of smoking fields (pretty difficult to figure out where it's coming from when you're driving!) but couldn't get close enough. It's apparently not general practice now to burn the fields and they are cleared mechanically.

We spent a couple of nights at lovely Toomulla Beach (just north of Townsville), then through Tully to see my favourite "Big" so far - the Big Gumboot.  The height of the statue (at just over 8 metres) represents the highest amount of rainfall the town (officially the wettest one in Australia) had in just one year! The drive through the Atherton tablelands was magnificent - although I love the coast, the windy, green mountain roads always take my breath away.  We put in a huge drive that last day to finally arrive at Laura and the Dance Festival campgrounds - big sigh of relief from everyone to sit still for a few days!!

Bustard Bay views - 1770, QLD (08June11)Bustard Bay views - 1770, QLD (08June11)Lovely calm quiet beaches of 1770 - QLD (08June11)Lovely calm quiet beaches of 1770 - QLD (08June11)
It was freezing cold after the wonderful sunshine on the coast! - Awoonga Dam, Boynedale, QLD (10June11)Cattle auctions - Gracemere, QLD (10June11)Cattle auctions - Gracemere, QLD (10June11)Nothing tropical about it!  Tropic of Capricorn Spire - Rockhampton, QLD (10June11)
Tell me he doesn't belong on TV?? - Rockhampton, QLD (10June11)The lovely Botanical Gardens - Rockhampton, QLD (10June11)Cheeky birds everywhere looking to steal our food! - Botanical Gardens, Rockhampton, QLD (10June11)The Japanese Gardens water feature - Botanical Gardens, Rockhampton, QLD (10June11)


Tuesday 7th June 2011

Parmiss Keyhani - Thursday, June 09, 2011

We continued our stay on the Sunshine Coast for another few days. We spent the better part of a day (and a not-so-small amount of cash) wandering and looking around at the more than 600 stalls (didn't actually count them myself, but that's what the brochures say and it sure felt like that many!) at Eumundi Markets.  There were the usual t-shirt, jewellery and bag stalls, but there was also a whole section for "health and spirituality" (from tarot card and aura readings to massages etc) and quite a few stalls with novel products.

We drove through Maroochydore (stopped there for a quick lunch and play in the playground) and made our way to a free camping spot along the banks of the Maroochy River at Bli Bli (quite a nice spot, although the ambience was somewhat marred in the evenings by the local hoons doing wheelies in the large dirt area), and of course the boys wasted no time setting up their fishing gear and were rewarded with their first catch of mud crabs (unfortunately all the caught ones were undersized females and had to be thrown back).

And then an interesting thing happened: Kia struck up a conversation (no that's not the interesting part, that's a regular occurrence) with a couple of very nice council workers on a lunch break at our camp area, who, upon learning that we were going to travel all the way up to Cooktown, insisted that we try and get there in time for the Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival.  I Googled the event - it is held every 2 years and involves over 10 different aboriginal communities participating in a weekend full of dance. It sounded great and although it meant that we would have to shorten our travel time up the coast by about a week, we decided it would be worth attending.

We spent the next day in Gympie, getting the car serviced at Performax.  Can't say we were too impressed with this company: from bad-mouthing their rivals to being quite unhelpful with some repairs that they said we needed.  Let's just say our interaction with them confirmed to us that we had chosen the right company (American Vehicle Sales) through which to buy the Chevy.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous, sunny and warm but not too hot and we took the boys down to the huge playground area near the information centre, where they happily made a huge mess in the sand and water play area. 

Next was our unforgettable day in Noosa Heads.  After resolving the immediate problem of finding a parking spot for Optimus (no mean feat in the small chic seaside town, and it took a good 45 minutes), we had nothing but sunshine, warm weather and minimal crowds with which to enjoy ourselves. We ended up at Noosa Spit which is a huge recreation-cum-national park area on the headlands - on one side is a sandy inlet where weekend fisherman spend the day and on the other is the vast expanse of calm, unspoilt beach!  The boys' off-shore fishing didn't go off too well as the current was too strong and their lures kept getting snagged on the rocks.  Nevermind, the boogey boarding and splashing around in the gentle waves was more than enough to keep them happy.  I just couldn't believe that it was June and still warm enough to swim in the sea! Put Noosa Heads at the top of our "we may move here after the end of our trip" list!

One of our must-dos for this trip was Fraser Island - it's been one of Michael's dreams since forever.  But when we decided to get to Laura for the dance festival, we had to shelve that part of the trip (agonizing decision I can assure you!).  So we did the next best thing for Michael's 39th birthday and spent 2 nights at Inskip Point (just across the bay from Fraser Island - maybe that wasn't such a great idea, to be able to see it but just not quite get there???).  Through much fancy Optimus maneuvering, Michael ensconsed us in a beauty of a campspot at Sarawat Campgrounds, with our own little beach boat access to the bay. I even agreed to partake in a bit of boating with they boys - don't get me wrong, I have nothing against boats or being on the water (as long as we have a destination in mind), but the boys just happily trawl up and down the same area for a couple of hours with their fishing lines out!  Give me a break!  But it was Mike's birthday and all birthday wishes are granted.  And I was actually rewarded with witnessing Kiavash land a very nice sized trevally!

We visited Carlo Sandblow - what an amazing site!  It's like being in the middle of a mini-desert right on the coast.  The huge sand dunes shift a little more each day and are slowly swallowing up the scrubland (and the outskirts of the small township of Rainbow Beach).  Then we went beach driving on Rainbow Beach to see the "rainbow coloured sands" - they really should be more careful how they name and describe these phenomena; I was looking for at least the shape of a rainbow if not necessarily all the colours therein!  Very striking nonetheless.

The next morning we woke up at a ridiculously early hour (6am - who wakes up that early???), hitched up in the still silence of the sleeping campground and headed out to Tin Can Bay to feed the dolphins.  Two beautiful Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins waited patiently in the shallows for their daily feeding of fish by mesmerised tourists - the boys even had 2 turns each to feed them. Definitely one of the bigger highlights of the trip so far.  We drove through Maryborough (stopping to pick up our mail) and spent the rest of the day at one of the lovely beaches at Hervey Bay.

Eumundi Markets - Eumundi, QLD (01June11)Love all things Eumundi Markets - Eumundi, QLD (01June11)Got their priorities right! Set up for fishing on the Maroochy River - Bli Bli, QLD (01June11)
Fabulous campspot on Maroochy River - Bli Bli, QLD (01June11)First catch of mud crabs! - Bli Bli, QLD (02June11)Sand and water mess at playground - Gympie, QLD (03June11)Making new friends at the playground - Gympie, QLD (03June11)
Trying their hand at fishing at Noosa Spit - Noosa Heads, QLD (04June11)Noosa Spit - Noosa Heads, QLD (04June11)Lovely beach at Noosa - Noosa Heads, QLD (04June11)He caught a few big waves that day! - Noosa Heads, QLD (04June11)


Tuesday, 31st May 2011

Parmiss Keyhani - Thursday, June 02, 2011

The crossing of the Queensland border was quite anti-climatic (as most anticipated events are I guess) - in fact if we didn't know it was coming up we would have missed it altogether.  We crossed just past the tiny town of Legume and pulled over at a lovely picnic area on Waterfall Road for lunch, where we discovered a sneaky leech had been feasting on poor Tiran's leg the whole day!  He took it quite well though and seemed fascinated to see his own blood without any associated pain.

We headed into the sizeable and extremely tidy town of Warwick where we did our much needed food shopping.  The kids were also quite excited at the prospect of seeing the much advertised statue of Tiddalik the Frog who comes from an aboriginal Dreamtime story about a gigantic frog that drinks all the water and sends the country into drought. Unfortunately the statue didn't live up to the expected stature - it was barely taller than Kia!  We spent an absolutely freezing night at a free camp spot in Maryvale (behind the historic Crown Hotel) surrounded by lovely quiet farmland.  It was actually an idyllic and peaceful spot for a sleep.

We then spent 2 nights in and around Brisbane - and the traffic was unforgettable!  I thought Sydney was bad - well Sydney IS bad, but so is Brisbane, at least the days that we were there.  We were stuck in a traffic jam on the freeway into town for over 2 hours while they very slowly cleared up a fatal accident from 12 hours ago. It was so jammed that at one point, I jumped into the caravan to get some morning tea fruit ready for everyone and we hadn't moved by the time I got back in the car! It was very frustrating, especially as we've become accustomed to the traffic-free country roads and clear highways around the small towns.

We visited the Steiner school in the outer suburb of Stamford - like all the other ones we'd already seen, it was lovely.  So we decided we no longer needed to check out the schools - we would just concentrate on whether or not we liked the area and trust that the school is perfect.  And we saw very little sign of the massive damage caused by the recent floods - they have done a great job cleaning up and getting on with it.

We did have a wonderful time catching up with friends and family:  we visited Michael's niece Kassandra and her husband Harley in Coomera (near Dream World) sharing laughs and stories over pizza.  We spent the night in the carpark of a nearby watersports park and in the morning had a little wander around the rowing regatta being held.  The competitors were high school kids - imagine getting up so early on a Saturday to go racing!  We had a lovely visit with old friend Shervin and his lovely new fiancee Marilyn; Shervin even found us a place to park the monster rig overnight (next door to their apartment building in the RACQ car park) - no small feat in a major city and a favour we will eternally be grateful for!

We also got the chance to meet up with one of my work colleagues, Sue and her lovely family (Wes, Declan and Kieran) for a marvellous BBQ dinner. Mike developed a major crush on Wes' fishing gear, of which there is enough to open his own store!  And I loved catching up with everything's that's been happening at BMS over the last 6 months. The kids even had a bath there which is a real luxury from the quick 3 minutes showers they get in the caravan.  We were treated to a scrumptious cooked breakfast by Shervin and Marilyn on our last morning before bidding farewell to Brisbane - more sure than ever that living in a captial city is not for us.

We spent a couple of nights at Beerburrum State Forest from where we visited the Glass House Mountains and a surprise trip to Australia Zoo.  We had kept the kids on their toes for the past few days by promising to go only if they were on their best behaviour and not giving them a definite date for the outing.  It certainly worked with Kia - he was absolutely terrified of missing out on the crocodile feast, so he was on exemplary behaviour .... for a few days anyway.  That's the trouble with the bribing method - after they get the prize, there's no longer any reason to behave!

Australia Zoo was a big hit with Kia (just the sheer number of crocodiles kept him happy), and the rest of us enjoyed it too, but I think after all the hype, Mike and I were quite underwhelmed. It is absolutely massive and there is no doubt a huge amount of work and effort has gone into setting it up and keeping it going.  There are photos of Steve Irwin everywhere and a huge wall of remembrance as well.  My favourite part was the tigers, such magnificent animals.  We finally dragged the boys out around 4:30pm so we could get to our rest area before dark - they could barely keep their eyes open!


Tiny border sign as we crossed into Queensland - QLD border (26May11)A smaller-than-anticipated Tiddalik the Frog Statue - Warwick, QLD (26May11)Lovely farmlands (but feezing) around Maryvale Crown Hotel - Maryvale, QLD (27May11)Catching up with Kassandra & Harley - Coomera, QLD (27May11)
Catching up with Shervin & Marilyn - Brisbane, QLD (28May11)The very politically incorrect couple off to a costume party - Brisbane, QLD (28May11)Catching up with the Pangs (Keiran, Sue and Wes in photo) - Brisbane, QLD (28May11)Rock sculptures by the kids - Beerburrum State Forest, QLD (30May11)
Camp spot at Beerburrum State Forest - QLD (30May11)Glass House Mountains - QLD (30May11)I loved these little mosaic depictions! - Glass House Mountains, QLD (30May11)Glass House Mountains - QLD (30May11)