Volcanoes, whales and snakes

Category: Ships Log

June - August 2017

We spent a lovely winter exploring the national parks - hiking the green peaks and watching the yearly whale migration.


We finally made it to winter, my favorite season in SE Queensland. This is because temperatures typically only reach the low to mid 20s during the day (low to mid 70s F) and some nights will cool down to below 10. It is a welcome change from all the hot weather we typically have. To make the most of this wonderful season, we usually spend most weekends hiking (since it is usually too hot to do this in the summer). This year was no exception and we even managed to explore some new terrain.


To start the season, we splurged and treated ourselves to a hot air balloon ride over the Gold Coast hinterland to celebrate our wedding anniversary. It’s something we’ve always wanted to try and it did not disappoint. It was an amazing experience – the ride was so smooth – and the views were amazing. And it wasn’t even cold despite the pre-dawn launch because the flame used to keep the balloon aloft also kept the basket nice and toasty.


winter 1


winter 2

Pre-dawn mist was drifting along the valley floor when we launched.


winter 3

It was a gorgeous sunrise.


winter 4

The views were amazing as we crossed over some of the mountains.


We spent much of the winter exploring national parks in the area of the Tweed volcano. The Tweed Volcano was an enormous volcano that was active 23 million years ago and stretched 100 km in diameter in SE Queensland and NE New South Wales. The center of the former volcano is Mt Warning, which is the plug from the volcano. Surrounding Mt Warning is an erosion caldera, and a ways off are high plateaus and mountains, which mark the rim of the caldera. These plateaus feature lush rainforest, gorgeous waterfalls tumbling off the high plateau, and amazing bird life. Several national parks such as Lamington, Springbrook, Border Ranges and Main Ranges are located here and this is where we spent a lot of our time.


winter 8

Lamington National Park on the O'Reilly's side - the rainforest canopy is a tangled mess of vines and other epiphytes. 


winter 7

Several brush box trees grow here - these seem to be the rainforest equivalent to redwoods.


winter 5

O'Reilly's is also known for its abundance of bird life. Starting in upper left corner and going clockwise: crimson rosella, Lewin's honeyeater, yellow robin, and a whipbird.


winter 6

A male king parrot. There were tons of parrots in the surrounding woods.


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The park is also home to pademelons - these are basically like mini-kangaroos that live in the rainforest.


winter 11

Morans Falls in Lamington National Park.


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On our way to Springbrook National Park.


winter 14

The Natural Bridge at Springbrook National Park.


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Purlingbrook Falls at Springbrook, tumbling over the plateau rim.


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Lovely views over the rim.


winter 16

At the bottom of Purlingbrook Falls with our friends Maria and Eric.


winter 17

At the top of Bare Rock in the Main Ranges National Park.


winter 18

Also on the top of Bare Rock. It was a rather foggy day so the views were not as good as usual.


winter 19

On our way back down, the fog cleared for us to have a nice view near Mt. Cordeaux (another mtn you cross on your way to Bare Rock).


winter 20

Some of the strangler vines look a lot like pythons wrapped around a tree...


After exploring the parks on the rim of the Tweed volcano caldera, we also climbed the plug of the volcano, Mt Warning. Twice in fact because it is such a good workout at 1156m (it is one of the highest mtns around here)!


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The start of the trail looks easy enough and travels through some beautiful forest.


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As you get close to the top, there are some great views.


winter 30

The last hundred or so meters of the trail involves some rock scrambling and a steep incline. I was so busy concentrating on the climb, I almost stepped on this little carpet python! It's rather early for them to be out, but I guess it must be getting warmer - a sure sign of spring coming!


winter 31

Lovely views from the top.


winter 32

View of Mt Warning from the valley/caldera floor. Mt Warning is the tall pointy mountain. 


We also explored a couple other mountain ranges outside of the Tweed volcano such as Mt Maroon in the MacPherson Ranges (just west of the Tweed volcano) and the Glass House Mtns just north of Brisbane. We are trying to get into mountain climbing shape since in September we are planning to climb the Grossglockner, the highest Alp in Austria.


winter 10

At the top of Mt Maroon in the MacPherson Range.


winter 21

A view of the Glass House Mountains from the top of Mt Coochin.


Finally, we also made our annual winter excursion on a whale watching boat. The humpbacks migrate north from Antarctica to breeding grounds in northern Queensland from June to August and then south again from September to November. It is always amazing to watch these whales, as they will breach completely out of the water.


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A juvenile whale was curious and came right up to the whale watching boat.


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Lots of whales were around on the day we went out, at one pooint there were 3 different pods surrounding our boat! It was hard to decide where to point the camera. 


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A pod of dolphins also came by for a visit.


winter 25

We even had a whale spouting rainbows near our boat!


Anyway, it has been a wonderful winter and we will be sad to see it go...


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+1 #1 Mala and Dean 2017-11-04 18:35
SO wonderful to see your website back up and running. We have been wondering about you. GLAd you are having fun.
We are doing well and chugging along. As you know we sold our boat last December and we sort of miss it, but also glad we have one less responsibility. Our small aches and pains remind us of our age.
We have traveled a lot this year, but not to Australia.
Stay in touch.
Wishing you the best.

Love Mala and Dean

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