Thursday, 10 November 2011

Noosa and beyond

A distinct turn for the better in the young lady's health meant we had the opportunity to get out and about a little further from Palmwoods. A trip to Noosa was on the cards! We headed up the coast road, stopping first at an outpost of the National Park at Coolum, just to the south of Noosa. Designated to protect the highly endangered coastal heath and dunes, which would otherwise by now be a concrete sprawl of Costa del Sol proportions, it's a clue to the habitats that were present a couple of hundred years ago when the continent was just being colonised by our forebears (not to be confused with any other kind of bears).

Pea species in flower in the coastal heath of Noosa National Park

Parking in a small patch of dry sclerophyll woodland, the path almost immediately deposits you into a most superb landscape. Behind you is the woodland, and somewhere in front of you the sea - you can hear the waves rolling onto the sand. All around is a scrubby, semi-open, sandy tangle of shrubs; many of them covered in a bewildering variety of flowers and attended by White-cheeked Honeyeaters, which look a little like large feathery humbugs. The whole landscape is squeezed into a narrow ribbon a couple of hundred metres across, before rising sharply into dunes covered with more dry woodland, then dropping precipitately onto a broad golden sandy beach, littered with people exercising themselves and their dogs. Rainbow Bee-eaters patrol the dune fringe, swooping and gliding between lookout posts.

Australian Brush-turkey. Not a lot you can say about this one, beyond the fact that it's a pretty ugly bird!

Fringed Lily.

We continued on to the main focus of the National Park, where we walked out to a lookout point called Hell's Gate along a scenic, though rather flat, path, crammed to bursting with joggers and walkers. Being a tad slower, we stopped frequently, which resulted at one point in a tea-break and sea-scan. Idly watching a yacht tacking slowly north, the calm blue ahead of it was suddenly rudely shouldered aside by about 60 tons of suddenly-airborne whalemeat. Unsurprisingly the yacht rather quickly changed tack. After breaching a couple more times, the Humpback returned below the surface. A small pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphins just offshore was almost anticlimactic in comparison. At the headland, we saw another two or three Humpbacks somewhat closer in, though they were resolutely staying within the water. We trekked back along a far less popular track, which was well worth doing for the peace and quiet alone. Note to others, by the bye, settling down for a quick kip under the trees is likely to result in a party of concerned Aussies enquiring loudly whether you are alright. Kind of them, but not conducive to a nap... Despite an intensive search, we failed to find any Koalas, but the searching paid off with a fine Tawny Frogmouth instead - every cloud...

Lizard species. Noosa National Park

Frilled Lizard.

Finally, we headed back towards Palmwoods, briefly trying another section of the park on the way, but the heat of the day defeated us and we slunk back to loaf and - some of us - to swim.

The very next day we returned to the area, this time with my relatives, to spend a little time wandering the tracks around Lake Cootharaba; a large lake about 20km north of Noosa. Despite its size (about 15 square km) and shallowness (on average 1.5m), it proved to be relatively birdless, probably because it's pretty brackish. Nevertheless, the day was fine, there were enough birds around to be interesting, Na was convalescing well and it was a properly chilled-out day. Much of the entertainment was derived from watching a bunch of schoolchildren at Elanda Point campground, who enthusiastically paddled canoes around some 100m off the lakeshore; and when they fell behind their mates, got out and pushed until they caught up. Clearly not really a lake for swimming in...! (On a serious note, apparently it's really not a good lake to swim in in some areas, as Bull Sharks frequent some of the channels; not something to tangle with).

Never trust a bird that smiles. Laughing Kookaburra at Elanda Point campground

Lake Cootharaba. There are some Australian Pelicans somewhere in the picture too.

Crested Pigeon lowering it's spike preparatory to charging.


Brian said...

Are these all your own images? Beautiful work, loving the picture of the crested pigeon :)

jeremy barker said...

All mine. If I use anyone else's, their name & permission always stated; same as I'd expect from anyone using mine!