Well it’s been some time since I wrote in the blog. Geoff & I have been on holiday, a rather extravagant decision in hind sight, but so good for us, amazing to have a brain rest, not wake up in the am with a list of things to do that day. We rented a camper van from Brisbane & drove south, we had 9 days, but didn’t want to spend too many hours driving. The van we had was perfect, we left the bed down all the time, ready for any unscheduled siesta. It had a little table that folded down for food prep outside. & plenty of storage.  Our main objectives were to keep out of the main tourist areas, see wildlife, swim (Geoff) & fossick on beaches. I think we covered most points & the highlights for me were Binna Burra & Minnie Water, oh and Iluka.

This is our 3rd visit to Binna Burra, which is about 2 hours South of Brisbane in the Lamington Ranges. It’s an eco-tourist site, with loads of wildlife, tiny Pademelons(rabbit sized marsupials like Wallabies) which come out to graze at dusk, we heard a Bok Bok Owl, very like our Morepork & a possum came right into our camp looking for food. The Brush Turkeys are an opportunistic lot, it doesn’t pay to leave any food out.  There are a number of great bush walks, we did the Bellbird Lookout walk & were entertained by a pair of Pied Currawongs, who sounded like a cross between a Tui &  a Magpie, very cool!

We also went to O’Reillys, which is in the Lamington ranges too. It was about here we had a hissy fit with Google Maps, as the directions were seriously wrong time-wise. It was worth it though. O’Reilly’s is like the glamorous version of Binna Burra, much more tourist orientated, but in it’s favour the drive is breath taking, there are flocks of Crimson Rosellas to feed & a brilliant tree top walk, not for the vertiginous! There’s less of a sense that you might come across the unexpected, or are walking quiet ground, but it is still a buzz, those birds are beautiful.We stayed a night at Brunswick Heads, which was a bit too hectic for us, but NSW does markets so well, we walked from the campsite to the market & were sorely tempted by the range of Chilli plants for sale, also Frangipani cuttings in all colours. We met someone who grew Lemon Myrtles for oil, & apparently the Essential oil is much more effective than Tea Tree, so we are looking into that, it’s smells great too. We met a couple who make Bubble wands & they had come over to NZ to sell at the Haumoana Market, small world huh?  We visited Byron Bay but that was too busy for us. we did check out the industrial area, which also accommodates a number of artists & creative types, & thought that was a good idea, mixing the two & bringing custom into the area.We stayed the night at Lake Ainsworth, which is a fresh water lake , a hop, skip & a jump from the ocean. The lake is dark, dark brown stained with tannins which seep from the Melaleuca trees. It is reputed to be very good for the skin & hair, Geoff, ( he who swims anywhere) went in, but I was a chicken. There were reported to be Brown Snakes in the grounds, I got paranoid about them as they are very poisonous, I like non toxic snakes.

We spent 2 nights at Iluka, which is on the Clarence River, a lovely serene spot, with an abundance of rabbits, so tame they’d come & take food from us, they are a pest really, but very cute. There’s a wonderful old ferry that goes across to Yamba, we had a perfect trip, the water was like glass, & to top off the day, we walked to the Fishing Co-op for fish & chips & as we sat admiring the sunset, dolphins appeared in the harbour, perfect! On the drive to Minnie we went through a place called MacLean, which was very quait, & had the original idea of decorating it’s power poles in various tartans. Even more interesting was a huge Fruit Bat colony on the southern edge of town, I used to think they were cute, but now I’m not so sure. They hang upside down, & have a digestive system that takes 10 minutes from start to finish, so they smell bad from pooping on themselves, that’s got to be a design fault.

Minnie Water & Woolli had been on our  wish list, for 2 reasons, there is a small population of Coastal Emus that live in the area, & Minnie seemed the most likely place for me to check out rockpools.  I grew up on the Kentish coast in England & spent many many hours on the beaches there. When we moved to Devon I was sitting A levels, Zoology in particular, because I had a dream of becoming a vet (alas Physics & Chemistry were my downfall!) We did spend several weeks on field trips, studying Marine Biology & although I can’t remember the latin names anymore, I still have a passion for the marine world.  The closest we got to seeing an Emu was fresh poos, sorry no photo,  much to my chagrine our travelling companions did see one walking across the road, dammit!

Minnie Water was everything I could have hoped for, at the South end of the beach is a lagoon, rocks, & at the northern end are bush walks to the headland, spectacular rocks, wild plants including Viola cunninghamii & some Everlasting Daisy type flowers. If we come this way again we’ll make use of the National Park camp ground.Total culture shock finding our way back to Camper hire in Brisbane, the road signs are either cryptic, hidden or don’t relate to the map, quite a challenge for me as navigator, since I have no sense of direction, get car sick every time I look down at map, & have to travel with map facing direction we are driving in, which makes it hard to read upside down. I wouldn’t want to live in Australia, but the wildlife is so rich & varied, it makes every outing exciting.  I do appreciate the way we here in NZ, can go from a-b-c in a few hours & see such a huge variety of scenery… swings & roundabouts!

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