Broken Head and Kingscliff

Esk

Typical Esk back garden

We left the last blog with me in Esk and Jenni still in the Netherlands on business.

My view in Esk Camp Ground
Jenni’s view in Den Haag, very different

Esk is a beautiful place night and day.

Esk Camp site at night
Saturday night Esk Camp site put on a free live music show. One of these guys is Scottish, the other from Ireland, together they are The Celtic Cowboys, and they play both kinds of music. I didn’t stay to listen, though they were very popular.
At the other end of Esk is one of the shittiest pubs I have every seen, so of course I went in. I love a good basic boozer. They had no names on the beer taps poking out of the blank wall. Just a blackboard with Lager, Mid strength and Cider written on it and some $ amounts scrawled beside each one. I got a cider, it was very good. The bar was full of simple folks drinking heavily, I blended right in. I went to beer garden to listen to this poor girl play to an empty space. She was good, but I left after my cider.

I think I experienced all Esk had to offer and it was time to leave.

Stradbroke Island

After leaving Esk I drove to Stradbroke Island. More accurately I drove to Cleveland and caught the ferry to Dunwich on Stradbroke Island then drove to Adder Rocks.

Early morning ferry to Stradbroke Island

The ferry journey takes about 45 minutes. Stradbroke Island is quite beautiful. We are (hard getting used to vagabonding on my own) I am on the island for a friends birthday party. Jenni was supposed to be here too but work got in the way again.

Aboard the ferry
View from above. This is our roof box and tent. The canvas bag we bought to protect the tent hasn’t stood up to the rigours of crossing the Nullarbor and back. It’s disintegrated.

I had 2 nights “glamping” in Adder Rocks as Cylinder Beach camp site, where I wanted to stay, was booked up. It’s school holidays. After the school holidays were over, on my 3rd day on the island I moved from Adder Rocks to Cylinder Beach and set up camp under a tree in an idyllic spot near the beach. The camp site was almost empty.

Cylinder Beach tent set up.

The camp site is right on the beach and the weather forecast said overcast with thunderstorms due. I was looking forward to seeing how the new tent set up fared in a proper thunderstorm.

Cylinder Beach, wet weather rolling in.
Thunderstorm Cylinder Beach

On cue the thunderstorm with very heavy rain rolled in and the new tent performed perfectly well. No leaks and no issues. The tent of the 3 young female campers on the spot next door collapsed due to the weight of water pooling on the roof. Rookie mistake. As luck would have it, the 6 young lads who set up tent beside the 3 young girls seemed happy enough to help them sort it.

Pourous floor sheet working it’s magic. There was a river running down the hill behind me and under the tent. The ground sheet protected the floor of the tent and most of the rest of the site. As I had set up on sand this was dry within 10 minutes of the rain stopping. This can also be prevented by digging a shallow ditch round the tent to create a channel for the rain to go around. Discovered this in Flinders Range. Top Tip if you ever go camping.
This is how serious the rain was. It hit the ground so hard the dirt flew up onto the car.
Local resident came to visit

I had a visitor. This cutie was under the window sheets when I was opening the tent up one morning. He scurried away never to be seen again. He’s probably in my sleeping bag for all I know.

It wasn’t the only deadly creature to come terrorise me. in the tent.

Deadly Australian Death Duck of Death

I also had a little nocturnal visitor or two. Didn’t see them directly but they made their presence felt.

They worked out how to break through the Oztrail food cupboard animal proof door easily enough
Then they had a nibble at my bread

There’s a very good reason why Straddie is popular, it’s quite beautiful. The weekend I was there they held the Straddie Assault Surf competition.

Main Beach, Straddie Assault Surf Tournament

The Straddie Assault is Australia’s longest running teams surfing competition. It is a unique event that is “invitation only” and brings together 16 of Australia’s premier clubs that are based between Noosa and Lennox Heads. I was lucky to witness the spectacle.

Straddie Assault in progress

The headland overlooking this beach is a popular spot for wedding photographers. While sitting on the deck of the Surf Club I saw two different weddings try this suicide shot.

Wedding photographers dream location, until someone loses a bride that is
Back a bit, back a bit, STOP!!
Same location, but just where they would have landed.

In the Point Lookout Surf Club I spied my name on a sign.

The Cambus-Wallace was a boat sailing from Glasgow to Australia in 1894 with salt, beer, whiskey, pig iron and dynamite in the hold. It was shipwrecked off the coast near here.

Although I was supposed to be there for a friend’s birthday celebration work got in the way for me too. I had to leave and fly to Sydney for two nights for a presentation.

Taken from the plane on the way back from Sydney. Out of the window shot of the most romantic “heart shaped” housing conurbation in Queensland. Ormeau Hills in case you are interested. It also looks like a pair of underpants to me.

I got back to Straddie, fortunately in time for the party, then had to leave a day early as my presentation was so good we got shortlisted and I had to go back and present to another group.

Going to be sad leaving this place, it is a delight day or night.

Kangaroos are everywhere on the island. They are around during the day but at night they come out to feed. You’ve got to drive very carefully and slowly after dark

Brisbane

After Straddie and a hop in/out of Sydney I had a catch up with a good friend Steve in Brisbane who graciously put me up for a few nights. The weather picked up and the sun found it’s best hat and was wearing it for the duration of my time in Brisbane. The spectacular Jacaranda trees were out in bloom.

Jacaranda trees in New Farm Park
Jacaranda Avenue, New Farm Park
Fireworks over Storey Bridge

Jenni’s home and the Walligans are back together again.

I was staying in Brisbane just a few days while waiting for Jenni to fly home. I was looking forward to driving to the airport and seeing her after a very long break. We had arranged for a “decompression” break after Jenni got home. First stop Lennox Heads for one night only.

Lennox Heads

In Lennox Heads we went for a walk along Seven Mile Beach
Captain Pelican guarded the beach, but he let us pass. These are not the droids you’re looking for!
Apart from the Pelican the beach was beautifully peaceful and empty
We saw a few of these, must try and find out what they are

Next stop, Broken Head where we would be staying in a Forest Retreat for 3 peaceful nights.

Broken Head Forest Retreat

Jenni resting after a long journey home

The retreat was better than we could have expected. It feels good to write “we” again in this blog. It was right in the middle of the forest but not a great distance from the beach. Once Jenni rested up for a few hours we went to explore the region. The lady who owned the place told us of a small secret beach called Bray’s Beach, not on any map and only accessible by a boat or a difficult forest trail. Sounded too good to miss. The next day we went to find the elusive Bray’s Beach.

The start of the path took us 30 minutes to find despite some very detailed instructions. It was overgrown with lack of use. You can just see Jenni’s hat in the distance through the forest path.
Wait for me!! Oh OK then.

Most of the narrow path through the dense forest was a steep descent. All I could think of was the ascent afterwards. That and snakes. Soon it levelled out and we saw blue sea through the thick brush.

Bray’s Beach.

Through the trees we stumbled onto this remarkable beach.

Bray’s Beach panorama
Bray’s Beach

It wasn’t long before Jenni got in the water.

Too bloody cold for me
Part mermaid Jenni out of the water for a change. If you are eagle eyed you may be able to spot some interlopers trying to get onto the beach in this pic. There are yellow and red-ish shirts visible about 2pm up the hill. They never made it down. Didn’t have the secret path location.
It really was quite beautiful.
There were some signs of previous visitors. This Robinson Crusoe inspired beach dwelling greeted us when we got onto the beach. Helped us find the entrance to the path back up to the house in the forest.
When I say, “House in the forest” it was really, right in the middle of the National Park forest.
The forest view was all you could see out of every window.
No curtains required on any widows, not the bedroom…
… nor the dunny. View from the throne room. Even the toilet, bathroom and shower were wide open to the elements.
It was a very peaceful place to work

After making a pact to return for a longer stay we reluctantly left the forest house and not reluctantly at all, drove to Kingscliff for a night with Jenni’s dad John and Ingrid to celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary.

Kingscliff

The famous Kingscliff Surf Lifesavers, always on duty

Apart from the obvious celebrations another reason we were visiting was to catch a glimpse and hopefully a picture of the new bird that has come to stay near John and Ingrid’s house. A breeding pair of Rainbow Bee Eaters. But before that fun we went to spend the morning in the glorious sunshine on Kingscliff beach.

Relaxing on Kingscliff Beach. Even though it was a beautiful Saturday morning the beach was empty.

If you recall from a few blogs back when we were previously in Kingscliff we saw some Sea Eagles or Osprey in a nest at the end of the beach feeding their young.

From the last visit a few weeks ago. Daddy Osprey caught a fish and the baby up in the nest was calling for breakfast.

While relaxing in the sun I spied an Osprey sitting on a pole at the end of the pier not far away. I grabbed my camera and ninja’d across so not to scare it off. It was the young Osprey, the baby in the previous picture. It turned out it couldn’t have cared less about my presence and I was lucky to get very close. Got this shot, which is one of my favourite bird pictures that I have taken so far.

This the young Osprey all grown up coming out to catch dinner for itself.

As it turned out our Kingscliff visit was to be replete with birds and wildlife. After the beach we drove to John and Ingrids place. We went out for a celebration dinner in a new restaurant called the Taverna. Very delicious Greek inspired sharing plates and great wine. If you are ever in Kingscliff try it out. But book it, it rarely has a spare table.

The Taverna in Kingscliff

The next day we went for a walk around the lake that’s at the end of John and Ingrid’s garden. John said there was a fruit bat colony at the other side of the lake and you could see them hanging sleeping from the trees. But, before we set off the Rainbow Bee Eater made an appearance.

We were lucky and the male was out catching flying insects for the lady who was in the nest minding her eggs.

Rainbow Bee Eater in flight.
The Rainbow Bee Eater has bright and very colourful plumage. Possibly the most colourful I’ve seen. The pictures are very poor and grainy. The bird was far away and moved very fast. I felt it better to put them on here though to give some idea of how beautiful this small creature is.
As well as being brightly coloured it’s also a very agile flyer. It sits in a tree and can spot a flying insect from 100m away. It swoops down and catches it in mid flight then takes it back to the tree in its beak and smacks it against the branch to stun or kill it before either eating it or dropping it off for mummy in the nest.
A bee eater nest is a tunnel in the ground, sometimes several metres deep. This is him dropping the bee off to the female in the nest. Bee Eaters are called this because they are immune to bee and wasp stings so like to eat them when they are available.

Off we set for our walk around the lake.

Daughter and Father

The lake is full of wild birds from many species. Here are a few we saw on the loop around the lake.

Two Cormorants resting
Cormorant perched on a stick
Another view of the lake
Heron up a tree
Lilly flowers blooming
John spots some birds
This is what they saw, 3 little birds huddled together on one branch
Through the tree line

We didn’t find any fruit bats but the rest of the walk easily made up for it.

For the next two weeks Jenni and the rest of the team will be working hard progressing all the new business we have secured over the last few months. To support this we have booked a nice comfortable Airbnb in Brisbane. After that we have our annual team meeting in the Sunshine Coast. With a cyber business with staff members scattered all across the globe it’s important to get together at least once a year.

I would drive 50,000 K, and I would drive 50,000 more…

And finally – after 734 days on the road, the week we passed our 50,000 kilometres vagabonding milestone. That’s nearly 31,100 miles in old money. I won’t be doing a look back yet, I’ll keep that for the end of the year, which isn’t very far away.

Till next time.

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