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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mooloolah River Floodpain, Sunshine Coast, QLD.

Mooloolah River

While looking on Goggle Earth recently, we discovered that there was an interesting looking trail from near the Kawana Soccerfields to the banks of the Mooloolah River. We parked our car at the western end of Main Drive in Warana, near an information board about the Mooloolah River Floodplain walk. To our surprise, we discovered an elevated concrete walkway which goes for 2 km through wetland to the Mooloolah River. 

Elevated Concrete Walkway

There was a variety of butterflies, lizards and dragonflies alongside the walkway.

Wall Skink Cryptoblepharus virgatus

By walking as quietly as we could we were able to observe a large number of small crabs in the floodplain below the walkway. The only ones we know are the Red-fingered Marsh Crabs. Their name always amuses us because it completely ignores the fact that these crabs a such a lovely green. We were particularly taken by the appearance of the two-tone black and white crabs. 

Red-fingered Marsh Crab Parasesarma erythodactyla
Semaphore Crab Heloecius cordiformis

After arriving at the banks of the Mooloolah River, we continued on a rough trail for a short distance through a grassy area. There were a number of milkweed plants in the grass and quite a few Monarch butterflies. This trail appears to continue for some distance but as the afternoon light was fading we turned back.

Near the bank of the river, we observed a pair of Whistlers. The adult male Whistler looked different to any Golden Whistler that we have ever seen because the throat area wasn't white; it was more of a speckled grey, and the neck and chest area was a deep orange-yellow. The other whistler had more green and russet colouring than we have observed before. Unfortunately, the light wasn't ideal for photography by this time but we hope the photos show what we mean. Perhaps they were Mangrove Whistlers? 

We would be very pleased if our readers could let us know what these crabs and any of the unlabelled photos are. Any thoughts on the Whistlers would also be appreciated. 

Note added in March 2015: We have since discovered that Mangrove Whistlers don't come this far south so these photos are of Golden Whistlers. Greg Roberts who, amongst other things, writes the excellent blog at
has let me know that he has also seen Golden Whistlers that look like these on the Sunshine Coast.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Springbrook National Park QLD, Part 4: Best of All Lookout, Wunburra Lookout and Apple Tree Park.

Here are a few other places that are worth taking a look at while visiting Springbrook National Park.

Best of All Lookout

While visiting the Twin Falls area of Springbrook National Park it is worth a short detour to the Best of All Lookout on the Queensland-New South Whales border. Drive slowly along the access road as there are large numbers of pademelons about. The track is a Class 2, 600 m return walk which passes through remnant Antarctic Beech Forest on the way to the lookout.

Arctic Beech Nothofagus moorei

From the lookout there are extensive views of the Gold Coast hinterland over the eroded northern rim of the extinct Tweed shield volcano and out to the ocean. Mount Warning and the twin peaks of Mount Cougal dominate the landscape.

Mount Warning

Mount Cougal

Wunburra Lookout

Wunburra Lookout is a few kilometers north of Springbrook and has views over Little Nerang Dam and across Purling Brook Gorge to the Gold Coast.

Little Nerang Dam
View to the Gold Coast from Wunburra Lookout

Apple Tree Park

Apple Tree Park is a lovely shaded park with good parking, BBQ's, picnic tables and toilets. It is an entry point for the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk; a serious 54 km walk which requires booking in advance and a topographic map of the area. If you are tempted to have a quick look at the Great Walk be aware that the track that heads west from the park descends steeply over about 250 m; which means returning to the carpark via approximately 900 steps! You might prefer to cross the road and walk partway along the section of the walk that heads south-east to Warringa. In this section of the walk we saw this old tree stump where you can still clearly see the holes where planks were inserted to support the forester as the tree was cut down. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Natural Bridge, Springbrook National Park, QLD.

Natural Bridge

The Natural Bridge section of Springbrook National Park is 28 km from Settlement Campground in Springbrook via a very scenic drive through the Numinbah Valley. If you are looking for somewhere closer to stay, The Log Cabin Camp is a privately owned campground very close to Natural Bridge. We have not been there but we believe the fees are $10 per person per night. 

We arrived at the Natural Bridge carpark at 7.00 in the morning and there were no other people around. We saw several Logrunners, both male and female, Brown Cuckoo-Doves, and pademelons enjoying the quite before the arrival of more tourists. In the evening it can get busy here because people come to view glow worms in the cave beneath Natural Bridge. From the carpark, there is a pleasant 1 km circuit walk that meanders down to Natural Bridge and back around the top where the water flows into the rock cavity. In years gone by it was possible to walk along the creek and swim but now these activities are prohibited.

Natural Bridge, from below.

 Natural Bridge, from above.

There were eels in the water and we saw the biggest worm that we have ever seen on the path.


On our drive back through the Numinbah Valley we stopped several times to enjoy this beautiful area. Opposite The Natural Arch Cafe there is a surprising vista of dinosaurs in the hills. If you are interested in bridges you might like to stop and peer under the bridge over Cave Creek. The size of the timber used to construct the bridge is amazing.

Dinosaurs roaming around the Numinbah Valley.
Cave Creek

If you don't have time to fully explore Springbrook National Park it is still well worth a drive from the Gold Coast to see Natural Arch.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Springbrook National Park, QLD. Part 2: Twin Falls.

Twin Falls, Springbrook National Park

Twin Falls Circuit: Class 3, 4 km.

This is one of our all-time favourite walks. Not only is the scenery superb the wildlife we have encountered is unique and unforgettable. Do bear in mind though that this is prime leech territory.

The starting point for walking the Twin Falls Circuit is a short drive from Settlement Campground in Springbrook National Park. There is parking at either the Tallanbana picnic area or the Canyon Lookout carpark. It is recommended that the walk be done anti-clockwise.

There is plenty of beautiful scenery to see on the trail to Twin Falls.

Like Purling Brook Falls, the trail leads you behind the falls at Twin Falls.

Twin Falls, Springbrook National Park.

We saw several Land Mullets: a type of very large heavy skink about 60 cm long. We also saw this small skink which was quite blue underneath (sorry the photo is a bit blurry). Thank you Benjamin Harms for letting us know that it is a Murray's Skink. 

Land Mullet Egernia major and a Murray's Skink Eulamprus murrayi

As we continued the circuit and climbed back up above the falls, we were lucky to see several Lamington Spiny Crayfish. As we were crossing a small creek we saw a flash of blue disappearing behind some rocks so we decided to stop and wait quietly to see if the crayfish would return. Our patience was rewarded with good views of several crayfish moving about the creek. We saw several colour variations from brown-blue, pale blue to bright blue.

Lamington Spiny Crayfish Euastacus sulcatus

Beautiful view towards the end of the walk.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Springbrook National Park, QLD. Part 1: Purling Brook Falls.

Springbrook National Park is about 100 km south of Brisbane. However, there are four distinct sections to the National Park so ensure that you have directions for the section you wish to visit. This blog will cover Purling Brook Falls in the Springbrook Section. 

Purling Brook Falls. Lookout near Gwongorella Picnic Area.

We have camped at Springbrook National Park twice but we held off writing a blog about it because we were booked in to camp there Christmas 2014 and we thought it would be better to post new photos and give an update on the upgrade to the Purling Brook Falls Circuit. Well things don't always go to plan in life and we ended up cancelling our booking three days out. We have an account with Queensland National Parks and they gave us a full credit so we will be able to use the money when we go camping next time. 

Our tent at Settlement Campground.

At Settlement Campground in Springbrook National Park there are 13 individual sites and you choose the site number when you book.  We saw online that our campsite was quickly rebooked by some lucky last minute campers. There is a map of the sites here which you might like to study before making your booking:

Sunrise at Settlement Campground

Birds around the campground.

There is an easy walk from the campground through the day use area to the nearest lookout and beyond to link up with the Purling Brook Falls Walk. Along this walk, some of the birds we have seen were Grey Fantails, Crimson Rosellas, Bar-shouldered Doves, White-browed Scrubwrens, Pale-headed Rosellas, Brown Cuckoo-Doves, Eastern Whipbird, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and a Buff-banded Rail.

Monarchs and a Buff-banded Rail near the campground.

Purling Brook Falls

The Purling Brook Falls Circuit is a Class 3, 4 km walk. The walk does require some fitness as there are lots of steps going down and on the return up again. At the time of writing this blog, the Purling Brook Circuit is closed while a 25 m suspension bridge is being constructed downstream of the falls. If you are in a hurry or not keen on the walk, there is a large carpark at the Gwongorella Picnic Area with easy access to a lookout with stunning views of the falls.

View of the circuit from the lookout nearest to the campground.

Purling Brook Falls drops an impressive 109 m

One of the great things about this walk is that you can walk behind the falls.

We are looking forward to returning to the Purling Brook Falls Circuit when it reopens.

Note: We went back in April after Purling Brook Falls Circuit reopened and the trail has been redesigned so that you can no longer walk behind the falls.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Dundowran, Hervey Bay, QLD

While staying in Hervey Bay we took the opportunity to check out a couple of places in nearby Dundowran.

Ted and Maud Mungomery Vine Forest Reserve.

The Vine Forest Reserve is less than 15 minutes from Hervey Bay. We parked at the end of Cissus Court, Dundowran at an entrance to the reserve. We walked north until we arrived at a secluded beach.

Dundowran Beach

About halfway along the return walk we took a trail to the west before retracing our steps. We didn't see a lot of birds on this visit but it was a steamy 36 degrees Celsius and the mosquitoes were ferocious. We did see some indications that the bird life here is very interesting. This reserve is reputed to be good for sightings of vulnerable Black-breasted Button-quail and on the central trail we saw a large number of platelets which indicated their presence. The area looked to us to be ideal for Noisy Pittas and there were several old and new snail shells lying in the leaf litter which seemed promising.

One of many snail shells

We also heard the raucous calls of a Channel-billed Cuckoo although we were unable to see it. The reserve is definitely worth a revisit next time we are up this way, preferably early in the morning.

Entrance to the Vine Forest Reserve

Arkarra Lagoons

Arkarra Lagoons, Dundowran

From the Vine Forest Reserve it is only a very short drive to Arkarra Lagoons and Wetland Reserve. The Arkarra Tea Gardens are next door but they were closed when we went there. We parked in Panorama Drive and walked the 840m Lagoons Circuit followed by the 600m Wetlands Circuit.

What's a lagoon without a few waterlilies?

Short-necked Turtle

Bar-shouldered Dove

Swamp Tiger Danaus affinis

Hairy Line-blue, female Erysichton lineata

I'm guessing that these are Magpie Geese hybrids

There were also lots of Magpie Geese about but we didn't get any great photos of them, which is a shame because they are such a stately looking bird.