Thursday, June 27, 2013

Nuga Nuga Lake

I'm sitting in the library using the free internet (a scarce thing in Australia) in the small central Queensland town of Injune on a gorgeous sunny day.  You might ask, and should ask, why I am indoors on such a day, well, it's a short-long story.

We left Biloela and drove out to Nuga Nuga Lake National Park expecting to stay one day and ended up staying three, and, wishing we could stay more.  But, we had already eaten all our food and drunk all our water, as, per my previous, we were only expecting to stay one night.  When our cupboards were completely bare, we sadly began to leave, and then thought - why don't we drive into Injune, stock up and stay three or four more days. So here we are.

Nuga Nuga Lake formed in the last 160 years from silt deposition due to floods.  The lake is relatively shallow and full of dead gum trees that grew prior to the lake flooding.  The other thing you need to know about Nuga Nuga Lake is it is stuffed with birds - brolgas, cormorants, shags, kingfishers, swans, pelicans, egrets, spoonbills, herons, ducks (and more and more and more that I don't know the names of).  There are also kangaroos, turtles, and water rats.

If you get the chance go there, with lots of food, water and a kayak or canoe. 

We have spent the last three days paddling about in our kayaks enjoying the amazing birdlife.  Sunset paddles have been a big thing, and, I hope to get back in time today for another sunset.  This is one place where I have been where the daylight hours are not long enough for all the time I want to spend outside.  When night falls (and the bugs come out) it is with extreme reluctance that I come indoors. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Life On The Road

Doug and I have been on the road eight weeks now. Traditional wisdom implies that habits are formed in 12 weeks (something I've never believed myself), so we should be well on the way to falling into a comfortable well-grooved rut. But, life on the road, at least as we approach it, seems to defy habit formation.

Although our days have a certain pattern – most days, for example we eat (though some days I do not), take a dump, do some kind of activity, be it climbing, hiking or kayaking, but, other than those commonalities our days seem infinitely variable.

In some ways, being endlessly on the road is easy – there is no snow to shovel, no trees to clear off the driveway or the trails, no garden to tend, and a very minimal house to clean. In other ways, it is a challenge – keeping up with friends, with banking, taxes, and watching the inevitable (and rapid) decline of your car and caravan (both costly investments) is tough.

I find the most difficult part of being on the road is maintaining healthy habits. I miss, passionately, being able to lift heavy weights, train on my climbing wall, and do yoga for an hour on the expansive floor of our old home in Nelson. I'm pretty sure I feel older and more decrepit for the lack of these activities.

Some days, I get energetic and, after the days hike, kayak or climb is done, I go outside into the early darkness and swing the gas tank around doing some semblance of a reasonable work-out. Other days, I'll do a sprint training session on the beach, or squeeze into the back of our caravan at night and do some yoga. Some days, I even think I'll make more effort keeping this blog up to date. No doubt, you can see where this is leading. Mostly, none of these worthwhile activities are accomplished, at least on a regular basis. That doesn't stop me, however, from continually thinking, “tomorrow I'll have more time to work-out, do yoga, plan the next trip, update my blog...”

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

June Already, You're Joking

Not only is it already June, it is mid-June already and, we are still on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland enjoying what must truly be a real dearth of sunshine.  The weather hasn't been all bad, but we have definitely entered that zone where the locals keep telling you how "it's not normally this wet" and "this is the wettest year since 1905".  

Without access to our trip database - I'm sitting at the Gympie library - I find I can't really remember everything we have done since I last posted, but, I know we definitely spent two days paddling Pumicestone Passage between Bribie Island and the mainland.  The first day we paddled north to the very tip of the island near Caloundra.  On the east side, we found a deserted patch of beach to go skinny dipping, and found the water much warmer than further south.  The second day, we paddled south to the very southern tip of the island and walked around to the east side.  As this area is near roads, we had to swim in our cossies (the Australian word for swimsuits), and the water felt decidedly colder.

We took another trip to Brisbane to climb at the iconic Kangaroo Point crag.  Although I've seen this crag disparaged by "elite" or perhaps just "snobby" climbers, this is a really great place to climb.  We didn't do any absolutely stunning routes, but the location is awesome.  Right on the south side of the Brisbane River with easy transit service, sunny exposure, swimming at the nearby pool - complete with sand beach - 350 routes, all close together, all (or at least enough) well protected with glue-ins and ring bolts to rappel off, lit up by the council at night - really it just doesn't get any better.  

The hinterland behind the coast has a few rainforest parks - apparently, prior to white settlement (the British - and later Australians sure devastated the environment of Australia in a short period of time) the whole area was stuffed with rainforest, huge trees, crazy birds and wildlife, but now, a scant 300 years of colonization has denuded most of the rainforest and what remains is now fragmented into tiny pockets.  Still, these pockets are amazing, home to rare birds, mammals, bats and butterflies.  Mary Cairncross Park, near Montville has a great rainforest walk and interpretive centre and is well worth a visit.  

As are the local fruit stands where I had my first, but hopefully not my last, custard apples.  These lumpy, bumpy, ugly green fruits look nothing like apples and taste like sweet British custard and drip with juice.  Slurp.  The local pineapples aren't half bad either.  

From the hinterland, we hopped back to the coast and did a couple of walks around the local national parks, one to an old volcano with great views of the coast (Mount Coolah, I think), the other along the Noosa National Park coastline - great point breaks for surfing.  We also had a day climbing at Mount Tinbeerwah, but, the climbs were not that appealing, in true Australian fashion.  Protected with carrot bolts only, the bottom third of the cliff was actually pretty slimy with green moss (undoubtedly all the rain didn't help), the crux is always the bottom and the first manky carrot is 4 metres off the deck.  Given the current well posted bolting ban, it's unlikely these climbs will get any better/safer.  Few people want to climb the crux of the route with ground fall potential from a fair height on wet slimy rock.  

A much better experience is to paddle north up Lake Coothabara (I'm uncertain of the correct spelling) to the Noosa River which can be explored by kayak for about 40 km.  I can't fault a country where the tax dollars pay for the establishment of such a wonderful canoe trail with single private campsites scattered along the river banks.  We paddled from Boreen Point, across Fig Tree Lake (a small section of Lake Coothabara  sheltered by nearby islands and covered with water lillies) up through the Noosa Everglades (yep, they are pretty amazing) to camp at a wonderful and spacious camp with two jetties, three picnic benches and an outhouse, all available to book for one group (that's us) only.  Fabulous.  Despite the bull shark warnings, we did swim in the clear, but tannin stained (black) water off the dock.  From our camp, we paddled as far as you can on the river before it becomes to narrow, shallow and choked with trees.  The reflections in the black water are amazing, particularly where the river is very narrow and winding, and paperbarks and palms hang out over the water.  

That brings us to Gympie, where it is currently raining and we are catching up on a few chores.  Our next stop is a portion (the section that is open) of the Fraser Island Great Walk.  It looks, well, amazing, and no doubt, will be. 

No photographs again as I am posting this up at the Gympie Library.