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2023 Queensland - AU (part 3)

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When driving from Tweed Heads in to neighbouring Coolangatta, you are also leaving New South Wales and entering Queensland.

From early October to early April, Queensland is on daylight savings time, meaning that you're 1 hour ahead of New South Wales time. This feels rather strange as the coast line bends to the west once you cross the state border.

As a result, everyone at the Queensland coast seems to get up very early in the morning. Coffeeshops start serving breakfast as from 5 AM. Surfers are on the waves around the same time.

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Burley Heads

The Gold coast is renowned for its excellent surfing conditions and stretches from the border with NSW up to Brisbane. It's a popular tourist and family vacation destination for as well Australians as foreigners and it has many big theme parks like Sea world, Warner Bros movie world, Dreamworld, Wet'nWild, etc... . As we really prefer the smaller coastal towns, we only went up to Burley Heads for some surf practice and stayed on a safe distance from the high rise modern places like Surfers Paradise (see photo above).

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Natural Bridge Retreat

Trying to move away from the busier coastline during the weekend, we found this campsite jewel at the borders of the Springbrook and Lamington national park. It was the most expensive campsite of our trip but also the most impressive, certainly when we discovered that as from day 2, we had the entire campsite just for the 2 of us.

From the campsite, it's just a few km to the Natural Bridge in the Springbrook national park. When visiting after sunset, the cave under the bridge is the place to spot glowworms. (we were there in the morning, so no glowworms)

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Noosa  - Coolum

Sunrise at Coolum beach, 4.20 am at the Sunshine coast.

The day before, we arrived at our camp spot in Coolum beach,  just 50 meters walking from the beach. The ideal place to get up early and capture the sunrise.

As we were now slowly moving north and closer to the equator, the sea water was also getting warmer and it was the first time that large jellyfish started appearing on the beach when the water withdrew after high tide.

The easiest way to move around at the Sunshine coast is by taking the public bus. It's only around 6 euro for a day ticket which allows you to hop on and off as much as you like. We went to Noosa for a day to visit the town and do the coastal walk up to Hell's gate in the Noosa national park.

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Boreen Point

Boreen point is about 20km north of Noosa and situated on the shores of Lake Cootharaba. The lake is about 10 squar km and is in most parts rather shallow, making it the perfect spot if you want to try out a peddle board. 

Lake Cootharaba is surrounded by the Great Sandy National Park and the ideal location for renting a kayak or a canoe to explore the Noosa Everglades.

The Noosa Everglades is a unique ecosystem characterized by its tranquil waters and lush vegetation. It is one of the only 2 everglades systems in the world, the other  being in Florida, USA.

The full day canoe trip on the Noosa everglades is about 20 km's and can take between 5 and 8 hours.

We rented the canoe for a full day at the Habitat Noosa Everglades ecopoint and paddled up to Harry's hut at the Upper Noosa River.

Ready to start a new day. 5am at Lake Cootharaba.

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Glass House Mountains National Park

The park is named after its famous group of 11 mountain peaks which were formed millions of years ago through volcanic activity. The easiest way to visit the area is to drive along the Glass House Mountains Scenic drive which brings you to several typical villages like Maleny. From Maleny, its also a short drive to the Mary Cairncross Rainforest discovery centre from where you have the above view of the mountains.

From the discovery centre, you have access to 2 rainforest walks where you can also spot many pademelons, small marsupials that belong to the same family as kangaroos.

When stopping in one of the villages, you just sense the relaxed and laid-back lifestyle which is so typical for Australia.

This was our last stop on our trip with the campervan and after one more night at the coast, we have returned our camper to the drop-off point in Brisbane.

Ready for the last part of our Australia trip : Heron Island

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Heron Island

Heron island is situated about 70 km northeast of Gladstone on the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. The island is surrounded by corral reef and there is a lot of marine life like tropical fish, sea turtles and reef sharks. 

The island is also the home of a large amount of nesting birds but the most spectacular part is that its an important nesting and breeding ground for the gigantic sea turtles.

Between November and March, you can see turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs, or hatchlings crawling to the sea.

The turtles come ashore during high tide, preferably during the hours of darkness. The high tide allows the turtles to reach the upper beach area where they dig their nests above the high water mark to protect them from flooding.

As Heron island is a protected conservation area, it is absolutely forbidden to disturb any of the nesting turtles and the use of torchlights is a no go.

Photo's above are taken in the early morning hours when the last turtles return to the sea.

Under normal circumstances, Heron island is the perfect place for diving and snorkeling as the water is usually crystal clear and corals, giant rays, sharks and turtles would just be all around you. We were not in luck as a cyclone was approaching and the water was to wild and unclear to see the corals and marine live. 

Except for 1 trip, the weather was also to unstable for the snorkeling and diving boats to go out.

Suppose we need to go back another time.