STRADBROKE ISLAND, QLD

STRADBROKE ISLAND, QLD 
We’ve done both, often, Morton Island is the one that would be most likely described as a ‘Paradise’, but Stradbroke, or Straddie as it’s known, is much more rugged and without doubt,  our favourite of the two.

We left straight after work on Friday evening so as to maximize our time on the island. We checked in Whalewatch Ocean Beach Resort, which was a perfect location and views aplenty.



The next day we were up early morning with the birds just before sunrise and headed to Point Lookout Headland Gorge Walk, where we strolled past a family of grazing kangaroos, so tame Kim almost touched them. We saw a family of five small black cormorants watching for fish from the tree they have claimed at the bottom of the cliff. There were sea eagles, manta rays, turtles and dolphins, even an echidna. 



Early morning is always best for an early walk before it starts getting crowded. We preferred something light for breakfast, so we headed to Fishes Cafe at the Point on East Coast Road. They had everything from Canadian pancakes to eggs Benedict and a Whale Rock Big Brekky special with bacon, sausage, tomato, mushrooms, hash brown, baked beans and English spinach. After breakfast our first stop was Amity Point, which was a small fishing town on the north east point of the island. We wandered the seafront watching the fisherman cast their lines as pelicans stood in wait for any scraps. We headed to the north of the town and onto the purest sandy beach and watched a swarm of crabs trying to escape.  We kicked off our shoes to felt the soft sand between our toes (which squeaked as we walked) and had a quick dip in the warm ocean.
The best thing about it all was that the beach was pretty much deserted. We left Amity Point behind and headed into the islands interior. Straddie Island is the world’s second biggest sand island (after Fraser Island) and is covered with Eucalypt and Pine Forest and dotted with a few freshwater lakes. We stopped for a walk at Blue Lake, a 3.5 mile return journey through the forests which takes you to a viewpoint overlooking the lake. It was a pretty warm day and all we wanted was to jump in and go for a swim. Luckily that’s exactly what you can do at Brown Lake. As the name suggests the water of the lake is brown from all the decomposing material it contains, so not very attractive to look at. But in 30 degree heat it was pretty refreshing to get in. 



After a quick dip, like lonely sailors looking for the shore, we’re hungry again.  Put it down to the holiday hunger phenomenon. We headed to The Little Ship Club on the water at Yabby Street, Dunwich, which serves a great bistro-style lunch and as the name suggests is, in fact, a sailing club. There’s a lovely lawn, with picnic tables and sun loungers, and a gentle breeze swishing through the palm trees. Island bliss = found. After a big morning walking we headed back for a dip in the pool and a late afternoon barbie for dinner.


The next morning we woke ready for our encounter with Manta Rays. After a quick briefing session we climbed into the zodiacs, still on land. The dive centre is nowhere near a marina or boat ramp so these zodiacs are on a trailer attached to a tractor. And so the tractor drove us down to the beach and deposited the zodiacs in the water. Not quite as easy as that, as the waves threatened to push us back on the beach before we could get in deep enough water to deploy the engines but our captain did really well to get us out pretty quickly. He took us out to ‘Manta Bommie’, an area just off Straddie Island as soon as we got in the water I could see a ray and a turtle in the distance but they swam off pretty quickly. But undeterred our snorkel guide kept us swimming along and within a couple of minutes we had a Manta Ray directly underneath us. They are so graceful and move through the water with seemingly little effort for something so big (this one must have been 6ft wide).



 We swam for a while following this fella before our guide shouted out to follow him to another Manta Ray, and then another, and then another. Soon enough I had 3 rays in direct snorkel view, it was amazing. And then I heard our guide shot ‘TURTLE!’, and Kim looked around frantically to try and locate it. But she needn’t bother as it swam directly beneath me, so close I was tempted to reach out and touch it. We followed a few more Manta Rays before it was time to get back on the boat. Everyone was full of beaming smiles as our guide explained the various behaviors we had been watching, such as the two Mantas following each other where actually performing a mating dance. There was time for another quick snorkel before the boat headed back and was hauled back on land by the tractor.  We headed for sunset drinks at The Beach Hotel, which had killer views. I grabbed a frosty and Kim had a cruiser and set up camp on the perfectly positioned deck before grabbing some classic pub grub from the bistro. Fresh seafood abounds so Kim couldn’t pass up a Caesar salad with fresh prawns, and a perfectly cooked rib eye.

Early next morning was time to head home. We decided for and early mark, so the traffic wasn’t backed up heading home. We enjoyed another visit and always head back at least once a year.




Straddie Is a sub-tropical island, is located 30 km southeast of Brisbane, Queensland and it is the world’s second largest sand island, about 38 km long and 11 km wide!   From endless summer adventures to awesome “whale-watching “winters, Straddie Is the perfect spot for a holiday, short break or day trip.

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TWEED HEADS, NSW

TWEED HEADS GETAWAY

Up bright and early we headed to the border and we said a fond farewell to Queensland. 
In waving goodbye to Queensland we also waved goodbye to an hour. New South Wales operates on daylight saving time. Even though there have been calls for Queensland to follow suit it seems a referendum has been greeted with opposition from the rural community.  Our destination was dog sitting at Tweed Heads for a few days.

Extending across the vast bowl of the Wollumbin Mt Warning Caldera, The Tweed Region is characterized by it’s of local communities.  Outside the main centres of Tweed Heads, Murwillumbah and Kingscliff, the quirky charm of the region is revealed in quiet country hamlets, historic river ports and seaside villages.

This is where you can pull up a barstool at a local pub and share a story or two with the locals; or chat with artists at a weekend market; or stroll around an orchard as the farmer plucks native finger limes and Buddha’s hands fruit straight from the tree for you to taste and find out what they are.


After settling in we headed for an afternoon scenic drive to Coolangatta.  Once you’ve hit Coolangatta and her neighbouring Greenmount Beach you’re at the end of Queensland’s Gold Coast as we know it. Duranbah and Tweed Heads sit around the corner, but technically that’s New South Wales. Technicalities aside, visitors flock to the border town of Coolangatta for its change of pace.

From here, you can look back towards the Surfers Paradise skyline in the distance and the entire coastline and feel, well, a little smug in the knowledge you’ve slowed down a bit. That’s not to say it’s boring. Sharing a boundary with Tweed Heads in New South Wales, you’re in the Twin Towns zone. For one, the surf here is spectacular, particularly off the northern corner of Coolangatta Beach, the headland around Greenmount, Snapper Rocks into the southern corner of Rainbow Bay and of course, the world-class surf break of Duranbah. D’Bah, as locals call her, is the one place you can be guaranteed of a swell when the rest of the coast is quiet.

 Meanwhile, the corner of Greenmount offers a protected spot for a swim.
A lovely walking trail wraps around Greenmount Hill connecting Greenmount Beach to Rainbow Bay from which you can head up the hill to the exotically named Point Danger and plant one foot in Queensland and another in New South Wales at this lookout which is also a great place for whale watching. Named after the schooner Coolangatta which was wrecked here in 1846, this suburb exudes an old-school beachside charm where you can still find a milkshake in a tin cup. It combines this with world-class oceanfront hotels, restaurants and clubs, the most popular of which is Twin Towns Services Club, home to local and international acts



Up bright and early for a scenic drive to Murwillumbah to catch up with a friend.  Identified as being in the top ten of the most desirable places to live in Australia, based on natural beauty, property values, welcoming locals and good infrastructure, the picturesque township of Murwillumbah is located in the centre of the stunning Tweed Valley on the far north coast of New South Wales. Quick “Hi” we were back on the road to Byron Bay Beachside Markets.

Held four times a year in early January, Easter, July and late September, the Beachside Markets are a make it, bake it, grow it market held on the Byron Bay foreshore east of the Surf Club. It was a perfect location to experience some of the most original products by one of the worlds’ most famous beaches.
The market showcases a diverse and exciting collection of high quality art, sculpture, ceramics, glass, home wares, fashion, craft, toys, clothing and music created by local artists and designers as well as an array of services offered by our health and well being practitioner

The focus and emphasis of the Beachside Market is on authenticity and fosters both originality and sustainability. Echoing worldwide popularity and the growing demand for direct-from-the-artist-to-you handmade, high quality product. This Artisan Market provides an unparalleled opportunity for local artists, creators and healers to showcase their talents.  With over 200 stalls stretching over half a kilometer of beachfront at Byron Bay Main beach, this market is the perfect location, right on the doorstep of one of the worlds’ most famous beaches and destinations to experience some of the best and most original products and services.



Kim had a blast while I took the dogs up the outside of the markets and onto the shops in the main street. 1 dress and 2 tops later we headed back to Tweed Heads.
The next day was bright and early again for dogs to have a swim and run. It’s a dog’s life at Palm Beach Spit (known also as Currumbin Spit)

everyone loves this place, it’s a dog owner’s paradise for exercising your dog, just follow the councils signage and you and your pooch are going to have a great time.
Much of the area is geared for them. Walk them, let them run or perhaps have a dip in the lagoon in the designated area. It’s an amazing place to observe the antics of dogs and their owners resting in the calm waters of the lagoon on a hot summer day.



That afternoon we headed to Kingscliff. Shopping, there are boutiques aplenty for Kim.  Up and down Marine Parade was a wonderful array of great shopping with everything from designer clothes through to swimwear through to kids’ clothes and surfwear.

A favourite, Heart of the Home, had a fantastic selection of homewares and clothes.  It is truly easy to while away some time browsing before being tempted by everything from homewares, candles and jewellery to some great fashion pieces.
Fantastic designer fashion pieces can be found at Anna & Ruth and everyone is talking about On Kliff’s reversible jeans.

These are just two of the many fashion stores on Marine Parade and it certainly wouldn’t be too hard to spend a few hours wandering up and down the strip and being tempted by the great fashions, homewares and everything in between on offer, while I got to wait outside with the dogs.

Early the next day we did a drive around Tugun to Coolangatta checking out the beaches and surfer on the breaks. Back to Tweed we started packing the car and heading back to Brissy.

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LENNOX HEADS, NSW

 

LENNOX HEADS

 

Another trip down Northern NSW again to Lennox Heads. The weather was superb and we had good company exploring the Heads, Beach, Lake, Café’s, Byron and Markets
We stayed in a modern two storey cabin boasting an impressive covered entertaining deck. The property was positioned on the eastern slopes of Figtree Hill.
Despite its many attributes, Lennox Head is often overlooked, as it’s located roughly 20 minutes south of iconic Byron Bay and 10 minutes north of the much larger town of Ballina. I’m sure that’s just how the locals like it too, particularly as it’s also home to interesting history, pristine beaches, fluffy meadows, tea tree lakes and a town packed with good cafes and shops.
Situated at the northern end of town is Lake Ainsworth, a tea tree-stained dunal lake that’s named after early settler and sugar cane grower James Ainsworth. It’s a superb spot for a swim or, a canoe and it’s great for kids as it’s virtually always calm. The lake is considered by many to have healing properties. It’s also a favourite with stand-up paddle boarders and there’s picnic and BBQ facilities near the shore.
At the southern end of Seven Mile Beach, out the front of Rayner Lane, lies the remains of an old tea tree fence. This was built sometime in the early to mid 1900s by Fred Hutley to stop the sea spilling into the lake during tempestuous weather
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Saturday morning we found WilliamsBurg perched quite aptly on the corner of William St and another street that I can’t remember the name of (but if you’re super curious it is the one that runs along the beach front) of Lennox Head. We made our way inside, sat down, looked at menus and ordered some breakfast. After visiting WilliamsBurg for the first time we declare on other social media that there was not one single thing about our experience that I did not love. The bacon and egg burger were to die for.
We dropped into the Lennox bakery and ordered and couple of rolls for lunch, drove to the caravan park and picked up permits and beach passes and headed to Seven Mile Beach for a day of fishing, swimming and relaxing. The dogs had a blast, the fish weren’t biting and later in the afternoon the wind picked up so we headed back.
That night we headed to Lennox Head’s original pizza and pasta restaurant for dinner. Wings, garlic bread, pasta and pizza were on the cards. All fabulous and was a great night out.
The Sunday we headed into Byron Bay’s Community Market, which is held at the Butler Street reserve. It is one of the best in the region. Covering several acres, the market offers a vast array of handcrafted wares, locally-grown produce, and artworks of every kind. It’s best to get there early and allow a few hours to take in all the stalls, indulge in some fresh food and culture. We left the girls explore and the guys with the dogs headed into town to find the best coffee in Byron. An espresso bar, Barefoot Brew Room was tucked away down a small laneway in central Byron Bay. Coffee found, time to pick the girls up and make way for breakfast. We dropped into Twisted Sista. I won’t go into it because it’s not worth rating at all. Too expensive, crap food, crap service. We then headed and made and afternoon looking and the hang gliders at Pat Morton lookout.

 

Monday morning we dropped into Lime Café, Lennox Head.  This innocuous little cafe was a real gem. Service was friendly and attentive. Breakfast was amazing (serves were actually too big) but perfect poached eggs.  We then took the scenic drive past Potsville, Kingscliffe and back home. 

 

HERVEY BAY, QLD

HERVEY BAY

 

This trip was four years old, decided to put something together to share.
Ibiza, Rio and Cancun might be where you go to beach part-ay, but when you want a beach holiday that leaves you relaxed, tanned and more energised than a green juice with a double shot of spirulina, give me Hervey Bay any day. I should know, I’ve got more Hervey Bay stamps in my Queensland passport than most. I’m lured by its waterfront views, good coffee and promise of the freshest scallops in Australia.
If you’ve got a long weekend up your sleeve, I suggest you get yourself to the Bay for a serve of sun, sand and seafood. Only in Queensland would a highway answer to Bruce. Regardless of whether you’re coming from north or south to Hervey Bay, you’ll need to spend some time getting acquainted with Bruce in all his tarmac glory.
From Brisbane, it’s 290 clicks to Hervey Bay, but kilometre-counters should note, it will take closer to four hours once you factor in loo stops and snack breaks.

 

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We checked into Mantra Hervey Bay, overlooking the marina and Great Sandy Straight. Aside from the normal Mantra comforts, we had a sizeable balcony to breathe in the sea air and take in a bird’s-eye-view of the yacht hardware bobbing around in the marina below.
We dropped everything and headed down to the Urangan Pier. Built in the early 1900s to facilitate sugar, coal and timber export, today the Urangan Pier pylons serve a much greater purpose, fishing. The abundance of fish cleaning stations and seagulls circling the pier is good evidence that your afternoon efforts won’t be fruitless.

 

If you’re not hooked on fishing, this is one of the prettiest walks in the Fraser Coast and there’s 2 km of flat, wooden boardwalk to meander down. We walked around till sunset and worked up an appetite for dinner.

 

 

The next day was why we holidayed on Hervey Bay. Costumes on, we headed on the bus to Maryborough for the Maryborough Pub Fest.
IN 2004, a plan was hatched to celebrate Maryborough’s 100th anniversary of being a city the next year by combining the annual Best of Brass competition with a ‘Back to the Banyan Tree’ celebration. Then-Chronicle staff, editor Nancy Bates and journalist Jocelyn Watts, came up with an idea to give the flagging pub scene something to celebrate too – a giant pub crawl. The council including then-Mayor Alan Brown were quick to get on board, and so the World’s Greatest Pub Fest was born.
The first event was held in 2005, with 1198 people calling bottom’s up at 16 Maryborough pubs. The event was so popular that even though it was originally planned as part of the one-off festival, it had to be run again. Crowds grew every year, but other cities soon took up the challenge.

 

 

Maryborough’s PubFest made international history in 2008 when more than 3000 entrants handed in their official entrance cards, raising thousands of dollars for charity. MARYBOROUGH didn’t beat its own record, but thousands of people still decked themselves out as their favourite superheros for the last ever Pub Fest. Oompa Loompas, Marvel characters, orange angels and hundreds of others lined Maryborough streets to have a drink and raise money for the local State Emergency Service.

 

In March 2009, New York drinkers managed to outnumber their Australian counterparts but Maryborough smashed the record books just months later in June 2009, with a massive 4718 people officially taking part – a number that still remains unbeaten. Proof of its popularity was shown in 2011 when hundreds of letters that poured into the Chronicle after the council announced the event would be cancelled due to lack of interest from participating pubs. Several more hotels agreed to take part but the council decided the giant crawl was not sustainable and 2011’s event was billed the “Last Shout”.
About 10,000 revellers turned up, and in the face of overwhelming public support for the event, the council decided to instead expand it to include a wider demographic, by adding a food and fine wine festival, now known as Relish, on the Saturday. The joint PubFest and Relish weekend now forms a major highlight of the Fraser Coast’s calendar, drawing thousands of visitors from far and wide.
More than 100 people entered the costume competition, which judges managed to narrow down to just three winners. A group dressed as Orange Sirens won the group costume prize, while the super-sized Super Lego man took out the best individual prize. The No Gary No team, dressed as characters from an anti-smoking ad, won the judges’ choice award. Groups came dressed as where’s Wally, prisoners, ninjas and a Captain Crawl. We had a total blast.
The next day was a much earned sleep in to sober up. (You do the math’s, 14 pubs = 14 schooners)  We then couldn’t  resist the opportunity to put the sand between our toes once more with an afternoon stroll along Scarness Beach. The sheltered conditions in the bay meant you can bob around like an apple in the calm water without any risk of Kim being dumped by a wave.
 

 

After a chilling day yesterday, today we headed over to Fraser Island for the day. For many visitors, offroad driving on an island where all the roads consist of sand is one of the main reasons to look forward to Fraser Island. Others are apprehensive, yet exhilarated once they’ve negotiated their first island track. Others again are quite happy to take a back seat and let others chauffeur them across the island. There’s no denying it’s an unusual way to get around, but driving on sand in Fraser Island is part of the adventure and partly what makes a trip to K’gari so much fun.
 

 

Our first stop on Fraser Island was Central Station. We enjoyed a guided rainforest walk to the historical logging station and meandered along the banks of Wanggoolba Creek flowing silently through lush rainforest. Up next was Lake McKenzie to take a dip in the crystal clear blue waters and relax on the sandy white beach. Picture perfect is the only way to describe this beautiful perched dune lake.

 

After a nice swim we headed back out to Seventy-Five Mile Beach hit the famous sandy highway of Fraser Island and take the opportunity to join the Air Fraser crew for a scenic flight over the island. We then headed up to Eli Creek and floated down the fastest flowing freshwater creek on Fraser Island or just enjoyed the serenity.
Just up from there we hit the Maheno Shipwreck and snapped a shot of this rusting wreck that washed ashore during an out-of-season cyclone in 1935.  Its rusted hull is perfect for photography enthusiasts. Just up from the wreck was The Pinnacles Coloured Sands. We were amazed at how these hued sand cliffs get there rich colours and heard the Dreamtime story of their origin. All tucked out we headed back to the barge and back to Hervey Bay.
The next morning we headed to Enzos for sunrise and breakfast. Then headed back home to Brisbane.

 

 

Fraser Island Attractions
Maheno Ship wreck
The grand Maheno was built in 1904, weighing a massive 5, 323 tonnes. After she was launched she held the blue ribbon in trans-Atlantic crossing. She then served as a hospital ship during World War 1.  Now this magnificent wreck rests on the Coast of Fraser Island providing a portal into the past.  Capturing a photo of your beloved 4WD next to this towering ship is a must.
Champagne Pools
These naturally formed shallow rock pools provide a popular swimming spot. The ocean crashes into the surrounding rocks and fills the pools with bubbly foamy water, hence the name ‘Champagne Pools’. The pools are located just north of Indian Heads, along 75 mile beach and are certainly worth adding to the ‘To Do’ list while on Fraser Island.
The Pinnacles
Out of all of Fraser Island’s beautiful landmarks, the Pinnacle Coloured Sands are one of the most breathtaking.  Best viewed in morning light, the sands are a photographer’s delight. They have formed over hundreds of thousands of years as the elements interacted with minerals on the exposed sand dunes.
Lake McKenzie
Lake McKenzie is one of the most iconic destinations of Fraser Island. This stunning fresh water lake with crystal clear water and perfect white sand makes for the ideal spot to relax and gaze in ore at the magnificent beauty Fraser has to offer.
Eli Creek
Eli Creek is the largest freshwater stream on the east coast of Fraser Island. It can be viewed via wooden walkways that snake around the edges of its immaculate natural beauty.  The swiftly flowing creek is a popular spot for walks, picnics and swimming. Swimming at the far end on the boardwalk can make for a very refreshing experience of a hot day.