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Posts Tagged ‘landscape’

After our first visit to 1770, nearly 40 years ago, we recently enjoyed a return trip. No, we are not time travellers, able to move freely into our future or past. 1770 is a hinterland town located on Queensland’s northern coast. It is the only town in Australia whose name is written as a date, in a sequence of four numbers. Thankfully 1770 has remained untouched by developers, and can rightly boast of its pristine beaches, several unspoiled national parks, a spread of wonderful scenery, and an amazing look-out, constructed atop Round Hill. It is a perfect beach holiday spot for those who enjoy roughing it.

Why has this settlement been named 1770? On Wednesday the 23rd of May 1770, an auspicious traveller, Captain James Cook arrived. Happily for us he decided to pay a visit. It was his second and final landing on our Australian shores. The following extracts from the log of Cook’s vessel, the HMS Endeavour, give us a lively account of this stopover.

Wednesday 23 May
“Early next morning I went ashore with a party of men to explore the country. The country here is manifestly worse than Botany Bay: the soil is dry and sandy, but the hills are covered with palm-nut trees. Upon the shore we saw a species of the bustard, one of which we shot. It was as large as a turkey and weighed seventeen pounds and a half. After roasting it we all agreed this was the best bird we had eaten, and in honour of it we named this inlet, Bustard Bay.”

Accompanying Captain Cook were several soldiers and the botanist, Joseph Banks, who spent his brief time ashore collecting 33 new plant species. Captain Cook was always on the move so on the following day, Thursday the 24th May he noted –

“At four o’clock in the morning, and with a gentle breeze south, made sail out of the bay.”

At the top of a hill directly above the actual beach where Captain Cook landed, a large stone cairn has been erected. Many travellers enjoy not only this pristine natural environment, but come to experience a place of significance to our early colonial history. The monument is a fitting way to mark the achievements of the 18th century’s finest navigator, Captain James Cook, the Father of Australia.

Best wishes for a happy holiday season.
My next blog post will appear in mid-January, 2018.

 

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The hinterland town of Tamborine Village, perched high above the rolling hills of Mount Tamborine, plays host to 5,000 permanent residents and an endless flow of tourists. Settlement is centred here in three village communities: North Tamborine, Eagle Heights and Mount Tamborine. Crisp mountain air mingles with the aromas of coffee, local wine and beer, while friendly chatter is exchanged alongside fresh produce sourced directly from the farm gate.

With its breathtaking scenery and mountain views, Tamborine has become a haven for creatives: painters, crafts people, writers, and photographers. Fine chefs also ensure the cooking and eating opportunities are second to none. This entire vibrant community thrives on its creativity and inclusiveness.

Located on South East Queensland’s Scenic Rim, the name, Tamborine, has nothing to do with the musical instrument. Its origins were derived from a local Aboriginal word, Goombirren which means ‘wild lime.’ No doubt this refers to the finger lime trees that grow abundantly on the mountain and form a staple food in the Aboriginal diet. 

Gardening is a much loved pastime and magnificent spreads of flowers, fruit trees and vegetable patches abound. A beautiful collection of dahlias grows in the back garden of St Bernards Hotel and is always a special delight to visit. In addition to several hectares of manicured lawns and colourful garden beds, St Bernards is a genuine historic hotel, established in the 1880s. Its mountain top site offers magnificent views of Guanaba Gorge and the Gold Coast. The dining rooms also serve fabulous food, seven days a week.

It may be only an hour’s drive from Brisbane, but Tamborine Mountain makes you feel as though you have entered a magical world far away. With its stunningly beautiful national parks and rain forests, this picturesque area in the Scenic Rim is home to some of the most fertile land in Queensland. A host of accommodation offers misty mountain views, where we enjoyed our morning coffee from the veranda of our cottage. Watching the sunshine slowly burn off a cloud of morning mist has remained a cherished memory.

If you ever visit, pack a camera. You’ll be needing it!

 

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Tired? Stressed? Too much work, shopping, and time spent tethered to a screen? Perhaps a break is needed in which to do some quiet forest bathing.

Forest bathing first originated in Japan where it is known as shinrin-yoku. There are no fluffy towels, soy candles, or scented soaps involved because shinrin-yoku is a slow and tranquil walk through a pristine wilderness. It can become an uplifting experience – one with many well documented health benefits.

Alone or in a small group, select a forest with shrubs, ferns and a good density of old established trees. Stand among them for several moments, breathing slowly to release your mental chatter. When you feel a sense of inner quiet, place your attention on the natural world and begin a deliberately slow walk.

Try to engage all your senses by touching the textures of plants and tree trunks, listening to the quiet murmur of the forest environment and the occasional ring of birdsong. Focus your eyes on the surrounding scenery as you inhale and taste the aromas of the foliage. Essential oils are emitted from plants and trees to protect them from insects and predators, and this phenomenon has been described as, ‘natural aromatherapy.’ Through the stillness and your sense of immersion in nature, an experience of inner peace will grow within you.

The Japanese have a word, karoshi, which means death by overwork. There is so much stress among ordinary Japanese people, they were the first to recognize this problem and develop a way to deal with it. Studies have been conducted in Japan by Dr Quing Li, an Associate Professor at Tokyo’s Nippon Medical School. His scientific data has proven that forest bathing can lead to a boost in one’s immune function and mood. A forest walk has also been hailed as a legitimate therapy for preventing hyper tension, depression and stress.

Here in Australia another initiative that aims to connect people with nature is found in the organization, Healthy Parks – Healthy People. Check out its website, one that is both interesting and information rich, at www.hphpcentral.com

To gain maximum benefit from a forest walk, rest when you feel tired and drink water if you are thirsty. Take plenty of time to sit and engage with the scenery, or read a book. Forest bathing is freely available for everyone to enjoy. Shinrin-Yoku’s central idea is to allow nature the quiet time and space in which to work its magic on you.

 

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Surprises can arrive out of the blue at any time. Several days ago a letter arrived in my inbox with a message that my blog has been awarded a place in the top 100 Nature Writing blogs on the web. I was amazed and delighted, particularly as I share this list with National Geographic, BBC Earth, the World Wildlife Fund and the Nature Conservancy. What an honour!

I began writing my blog in 2012 by publishing a weekly post. I selected this particular theme as I wanted to explore descriptive prose writing in the essay form, while combining it with my photography. To date I have published 193 posts and will continue to contribute monthly. This blog has become my joy and a labour of love.

 

Back Roads and Byways

A wide strip of winding road disappears into the hinterland behind us. Like some primordial serpent, it glides over hills and slips down embankments, all the while grasping every contour of the land in its close embrace.

Nearby a towering tallowwood captures our attention. Its strong trunk, covered in rough shards of orange and brown coloured bark, gives way to multitudes of smaller branches. These continue their climb toward the light, diminishing in size until each bough ends in a branchlet, then in a twig.

The roadways also mirror this pattern. Side roads branch away from the centre, morphing from bitumen into gravel and onward into sand. Many of these roadways end in a narrow dirt track overgrown with grasses and scrub.

The hinterland: all those places back, beyond, and further out, calls to the traveller.
“Come follow me as we explore the back roads and byways. My scenery—remote, beautiful, and untouched—will heal and inspire you. In these wondrous places you will learn to appreciate my stillness, nature’s intense colours, and the open sky ringing with birdsong. Enjoy your discovery of secret highlights and beauty spots along these ways.  You will be forever enriched by them.”

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I –
I took the one less travelled by.”

Robert Frost

 

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A small rural village in Queensland’s Samford Valley marks the site of our home. Here on Australia’s east coast, surrounded by two state forests and four rugged mountains, we enjoy exploring ways to engage with the beauty of our natural surroundings.

One favourite destination is a large mountain, Mount Glorious.  It rises to a height of 600 metres above sea level. In the oppressive heat of our high summer we often head to its crest and cooler temperature, where we spend a comfortable day.  Driving through the mountain’s splendid scenery we are always amazed at its abundance of native rain forest cover—mighty trees, tall palms, and numerous ferns. Flocks of tropical birds, white cockatoos, and brilliant parrots often fill the skies.

On a recent visit, a sign post entitled, The Westridge Outlook, caught our eye. Exiting onto a dirt road we followed this to a car park. Here a wide board walk, enclosed by a fence of metal railings stretched ahead. This walkway was built to encircle an immense rocky outcrop.

Strolling along we admired a mixed forest of grey gums, spotted gums and tall tallowwoods.  Long ago these original timber forests were harvested by timber cutters using only axes and cross-cut saws. The fallen trees were loaded onto wooden carts and pulled by a team of oxen to the nearest sawmill. Thankfully this deforestation was discontinued, and today its remains are protected as a reserve for public enjoyment.

Reaching the half-way mark, the boardwalk expanded into a large viewing area, to expose an open outlook. The rims of distant mountain ranges, shrouded in a blue haze, framed the horizon. We stood in awe at the view of Lake Wivenhoe, our main dam and water catchment area. The upper reaches of the Brisbane River snaked through the landscape, as the D’Aguilar State Forest spread its abundant natural beauty beneath us. It was a breathtaking sight.

   We finished our walk around the ancient rocky escarpment, to end at the point of our beginning. Hopefully other visitors will also discover this hidden treasure, and the magnificent views on offer at the Westridge Outlook.

 

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colours-of-broome

“The earth has music
for those who will listen.”

~ George Santayana

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Billabong, 3

Beauty is the promise of happiness

Stendhal

Winter’s biting cold and bitter westerly winds have created a bleak landscape. Nature is shrinking in upon itself as it rests before the arrival of spring. Instead of complaining about the weather, I’ll focus this month on the theme of ‘beauty.’ Enjoy these five installments.

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