MALENY, QUEENSLAND. AUSTRALIA

Now’s the time when it’s much cooler,  and while everything is so beautifully green, to explore the back roads a couple of hours out of Brisbane.

The film of dust which settles over your car is a small price to pay for the pleasures of ascending into Bellthorpe State Forest on a winding dirt road, and following the switchback country lane east through picture-book scenery eastwards towards Maleny.

The gravel crunches under tyres as you stop in the woodland’s shade. Switch off the engine, get out and take some moments to appreciate the entrancing forest, the peace, the occasional call of a bird.

In Bellthorpe, the massive grey trunks of blue gums soar high to the canopy. Below, the ground is a sunshine-patterned garden of brackens and ferns, and piccabeen palms punctuate the scene.


Just getting to this beautiful place is what Sunday drives are all about.
We’ve done this trip quite a few times and each time we leave different times. Some of the photos reflect the differences.



We always like to head off early, heading out of Brisbane for Samford, and checking for bargains at the Ferny Grove Station market. Then head off to Dayboro, were we come across the weekend cyclists are out on their long-distance rides, so watch out for them.

Dayboro is just over 40km from Brisbane, has a small Sunday market along the pavement in the main street, note the selection of home-baked cakes.



We then take the hill route to Mount Mee, sometimes calling in at the impressive cafe in the vaulted-roof pole house at Ocean View Winery. Further on, we always stretch our legs at the Dahmpongah Lookout, with its wide view over pastures and the distant spires of the Glasshouse Mountains from the southwest.




We then move onto Woodford, and on a Sunday morning it’s busy with pleasure drivers, motorbike tourers and locals. On the first and third Sunday of every month, volunteers offer steam train rides on the Durundur Railway. The Australian Narrow Gauge Railway Museum Society has an assortment of mining and cane trains to run on its “two foot” gauge line. Passengers sit in wagons once used to move bagged sugar to the port for the six-minute run to Storey Brook station, where cottage herb gardens are the attraction.



Heading northwest on D’Aguilar Highway, ignore the next right turn to Beerwah, but three or four kilometres further on, take the next right to Stony Creek.

This little road climbs north up into the Conondale Range, but a short way in, take the right turn and drive 4km into Bellthorpe Forest Reserve. At road’s end is Stony Creek recreation reserve, with picnic tables, toilet block and a short walk to a pool fed by the creek. The running creek is a pleasant place to sit and cool your feet, and the pool is shallow but inviting for a cool-off.




Back on the road to the Conondales, the bitumen runs out as the road climbs into state forest. There’s an expeditionary element to the drive because sign posts are few and far between. High up, there’s a junction. Turn right on the narrow West Bellthorpe Rd, a graded gravel route which follows a hogsback, with forest on one side and dairy cattle meadows on the other.




Here are glimpses of the Glasshouse Mountains from the northwest. You’re in the Mary River catchment, back on a ribbon of bitumen and heading through Booroobin in very picturesque hill country. You emerge on the Woodford-Maleny Rd. Turn left, then right on the Maleny-Kenilworth highway and ease down into the charming town, round about lunchtime.
Maleny has an interesting mix of shops and a great choice of places to eat. The Big Byte Cafe has an internet corner and a gallery of black and white photographs of pop music stars well worth checking out.

No visit to Maleny is complete without a side expedition through more attractive landscapes down to Baroon Pocket Dam.



This is the Sunshine Coast’s drinking water supply, a forest-fringed lake covering 380ha. The Lake Baroon Freshwater Fish Stocking Association has been introducing Mary River cod, golden perch and Australian bass fingerlings in large quantities since at least 1989, so it might be worthwhile taking your rod.

For the best Glasshouse Mountain views, when heading back towards Brisbane, retrace your route on to the Maleny-Woodford road and follow the Blackall Range Tourist Drive signs towards Mary Cairncross Park on Mountain View Rd.
A kilometre along, there’s ample parking space at McCarthey’s Lookout, commanding a fabulous view over the Glasshouse Mountain caldera from the northeast.

A couple of kilometres further on, at another good mountain viewing spot, Mary Cairncross Park is a hugely popular picnic ground. Abutting dense rainforest, the open grassed area is skirted by a path. Timber benches have been provided along this Richmond Birdwing Butterfly Walk, complete with a bamboo trellis on which vines essential in the lives of the butterfly are being cultivated.




Mountain View Rd leads back on to the busier Landsborough Rd down the range towards the coast. At Landsborough, follow the old Pacific Highway south. On this drive, there are plenty of excuses for another stop: Australia Zoo, roadside shops selling locally grown pineapples, macadamia nuts, fruit and vegetables and even a fisho’s van. And suddenly, you’re back on the motorway, vying with the traffic, which on a Sunday afternoon is probably slowing down well ahead of the Bribie turnoff.

Things to do in Maleny

 Maleny Botanic Gardens and Bird World.

Meander through some of the most exquisite gardens in Queensland featuring a panorama of waterfalls, ponds and colourful plantings, idyllic rainforest surroundings and views of the spectacular Glass House Mountains at Maleny Botanic Gardens and Bird World. Bring a picnic to enjoy by one of the many lakes or lounge under a tree with a good book and soak up the peace and serenity. 

Baroon Pocket Dam.

Baroon Pocket Dam is a picturesque lake tucked away between Montville and Maleny. The dam offers a range of fantastic recreational facilities and you could easily spend the whole day exploring the shores and waterways. There are picnic tables, free barbecues and playgrounds for the kids, making it the ideal spot for a get together with family or friends. Take a dip in the calm waters, kayak the lake and its tributaries or simply cast your rod and wait for the Australian Bass to bite. 
Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve.

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve is 55 acres of subtropical rainforest overlooking the Glass House Mountains. A remnant of the rainforests that once covered the Blackall Range, the Reserve is a living museum of diverse plant and animal life. There are several tranquil walking tracks, boardwalks and viewing platforms where you can soak up the natural beauty and read information about various species.

Gardners Falls.

Leave your vehicle in the car park on the banks of the Obi Obi Creek and take a short, level walk downstream to Gardners Falls, a hidden gem in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. You’ll pass a number of shallow rock pools which are ideal for smaller children who just want to splash about. Follow the bubbling waters downstream where the pools increase in size and enjoy a freshwater swim in the largest pool underneath the falls
The Cheese Circuit.

A visit to Maleny Dairies will not only prove that milk comes from cows (not cartons) but that it tastes so good! The milk, yoghurt and ice cream can be tasted and bought at the farm shop. You can also join a farm tour, ride a tractor and see the cows milked at 3 pm.  Once you’ve tasted the raw goods, head to Maleny Cheese, where you’ll see the cheesemakers in action and enjoy tastings in the café and shop.

Brews and Views.

Stop in at Maleny Mountain Wines to sample a range of reds, whites, fortified and dessert wines from Australia and around the world. The friendly staff will find the perfect wine for your palate or the best drop for your celebration, picnic or BYO dining. If you prefer beer, make a pit stop at Brouhaha Brewery.

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CURRUMBIN, GOLD COAST. AUSTRALIA

Currumbin Creek and Palm Beach is one of our favorite beaches we can have a swim with our pup (Shari).

If you own a dog, you’ll know the places you can go and things you can do are limited, especially without your best friend mortally embarrassing you by spontaneously dropping one at the worst possible moment.



If you don’t own a dog, there’s a good chance you wish you did, and want to go somewhere you can pretend you own a dog, without the hassle of knowing you’re literally responsible for an animal’s excrement.
And for owners it doesn’t come much more scenic than this, with gorgeous vistas across Currumbin Creek on the still water side and views to Surfers paradise from the wide surf stretch on the other.




This sizable sandy patch of dog paradise starts at the edge of Palm Beach Parklands and follows Currumbin Creek all the way around to the surf. So whether your dog is the wave catching type or just enjoys a good old-fashioned dog paddle, both will be in heaven here.

The northern side of Currumbin Lagoon and its adjacent beachfront are designated an off-leash area, offering dogs and families plenty of space to run and swim.
Some weekends if you glance along the edge of the lagoon, there is a maze of children, adults and dogs of every size and breed, all in a harmonious buzz, all basking in the warm tranquil waters of Currumbin lagoon.




Just behind the dunes near the off-leash beach, you’ll find Dune Café – where patrons with dogs are also welcome. And it’s not only four-legged family members who turn up: the café was recently voted the most kid-friendly café on the coast.



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NORTH WEST ISLAND, QUEENSLAND. AUSTRALIA

This was some time ago and I had to search for my photos (Was hard to find all of them). But in a recent conversation with friends the subject of your favorite beach camping site was put up. The usually answers of Fraser Island, Moreton Island, Stradbroke Island, Kangaroo Island, Magnetic Island, Lord Howe Island and even Tassie was put forward, which got a laugh. I threw a spanner in the works, because unlike my friends and people I recently meet, I have been and Kim has been camping for years. Kim’s memory of every year camping at Dicky’s Beach then Mooloolaba and me calling Inskip my second home for years. I’ll put the secret out, that if you truly want to experience a real Robinson Crusoe island, then my time at North West Island was the greatest ever camping experience.


I had always dreamed of holidaying on a deserted island, living off the land, snorkelling all day and sleeping under the stars by night. In all honesty I never expected a place like that existed, fortunately for me, it does. Located 75km off the coast of Gladstone is the most beautiful place I have visited,  North West Island.


This remote 100-hectare coral cay is one of the southern islands in the Great Barrier Reef. Home to rare species of flora and fauna, this spectacular spot will capture your heart from the second you lay eyes on it. For me, that moment came after a long barge trip. After spending most of the trip asleep at the back of the barge, I got up and walked to the front and from a distance saw the white sand of North West Island.


As I stepped off the barge and into the warm water, I knew I had found paradise. But in reality even paradise has its barriers to overcome. For starters, I am the sort of person who is used to creature comforts and in my dreams of living on a deserted island, I never imagined it would be such hard work.

With no running water, we showered in the salt water which meant by the end of the week my hair was like straw and I couldn’t get my brush through it. If you ever go to a place like North West Island make sure you pack conditioner and every evening put it through your hair.

It doesn’t fix the problem or stop knots from forming but it stops dreadlocks. As well as bathing in the sea water, we washed our dishes and clothes and caught our food in the Pacific Ocean.

When you are living on an uninhabited island, you must do everything for yourself and in some cases go without. There was so much to see and do on the island; at times its beauty was overwhelming.



Snorkelling was high on my list as was photographing the creatures which called the island home. It was about a half a kilometer walk out to the reef drop-off zone. The walk was the scariest and most beautiful experience I had on the island.

For most people who don’t think about accidentally stepping on a stone fish or cone shell, it is a relaxing and peaceful walk, but for me, every step felt like an aquatic form of Russian roulette.




Snorkelling on the reef should have scared me more, swimming with stingrays, jellyfish and sharks. But floating on the surface, diving down to snap a photo, of green turtles, coral, fish, sharks and stingrays wasn’t that frightening.




The only time I got worried was when a few spear fishermen came too close to us and the water became bloody. As clichéd as it will sound, the sharks that had been casually circling below me slowly made their way up higher. I am no shark wrestler, so that was my cue to exit the water.




There were many firsts on the island, from seeing green turtles up close to watching the sunset and sunrise over the ocean, so many amazing experiences.



I saw the sun go down six times and each time it was just as magical as the first. By day, when I wasn’t laying on a blow-up lounge a couple of metres from shore making shell necklaces from the white shells that covered the beach or fishing to catch my dinner, I was photographing the beautiful birds which inhabited the island or documenting the male green turtles fighting for a female to mate with.



At night the moon lights the way and you can watch as turtles mate on the shoreline, or just wander around on the secluded beach, listening to the waves lapping on the shore. It takes about two hours to walk the circumference of the island and it is worth the effort.

North West Island is beautiful and untouched. Its blue green waters are cool and refreshing, its birds and turtles abundant. It makes a wonderful holiday for those of us who like to get back to basics, who love the smell of the ocean and marvel at the underwater world.


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