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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Maleny, Sunshine Coast Hinterland, QLD.

Platypus in Obi Obi Creek, Maleny.
Maleny and its surrounding hinterland is a nature lover’s wonderland. Add to that, great cafes and highly regarded restaurants, famous quality dairy products, fresh local produce and a great village vibe; it makes sense to place Maleny on your must visit list.

Lookout over Obi Obi Creek
Obi Obi Creek Boardwalk: 
The boardwalk starts opposite Bicentenary Lane on Coral Street, Maleny. It may be only 300 m long but it is the premier place in the Sunshine Coast hinterland to see platypus. On this visit, we started the walk about 7 am on a very cloudy day. We immediately saw a platypus but we didn’t have the camera ready. Typical, we thought but we needn’t have worried because we saw several more before heavy rain set in. The platypus here seem oblivious to traffic speeding by, the local gym pumping to the beat of loud music and the steady trickle of fitness and dog walkers. The platypus are very active and it is possible to observe them foraging for food and going about their daily business. We observed a variety of behaviours including swimming, floating, sifting through mud, climbing over logs in the water, scrambling through small cascades and rolling around in what can only be described as playing. I even saw one leave the water, roll over and wriggle on its back over some smooth pebbles.

Other wildlife we saw were turtles, Eastern Water Dragons, Pacific Black Ducks and Azure Kingfishers. 

Eastern Water Dragon

There was a chorus of birdsong along Obi Obi Creek but forgive me if I didn’t pay them my usual attention as the stars of the show were the platypus and my focus stayed on Obi Obi Creek.

Azure Kingfisher

Maleny Showgrounds Camping:
The boardwalk connects to a path which makes for easy and convenient access between the town centre and the showgrounds.
Camping is available for tents and all rig types at the showgrounds for $15 for two adults per night. It is the same price with or without power and water. Dogs are allowed. Camping is restricted to three nights and be sure to check for blacked out dates before arriving. There are also regular markets held at the showgrounds.

Camping at Maleny Showgrounds

Maleny Attractions:

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, 148 Mountain View Road, Maleny: A must do when visiting the area. Picnic tables (many with shelters), Electric BBQ’s, toilets, children’s playground, new Information Centre, new CafĂ© opening soon, walking tracks including a 1.7km wheelchair friendly loop track, and views over the Glass House Mountains. This is a great place to see Red-legged Pademelons, a variety of birds and other wildlife. No pets allowed.

BBQ's overlooking a Children's Playground at Mary Cairncross Reserve.

McCarthy’s Lookout, 563 Mountain View Road, Maleny: One of our favourite lookouts. There is a large shelter with two picnic tables overlooking the Glass House Mountains and an additional sheltered table next to the road. Usually the view here is mesmerizing but on this occasion we were in the clouds, which has its own kind of magic.

McCarthy's Lookout

Gardners Falls, Obi Lane South, Maleny: We didn’t visit the falls on this trip due to the rain. Perhaps it was just as well as I am still hobbling around in a moonboot due to my broken ankle; apparently a broken talus bone takes longer to heal than other bones. It’s a 300 m walk from the car park. Swimming is popular on warm days.

Restaurants and Cafes: There are many highly regarded cafes and restaurants to choose from in the area. Some you might like to try: Maleny Food Co, Icebox Cafe for Vegetarian and Vegan, Monica's Cafe, Lumbini Nepalese Restaurant. The new cafe at Mary Cairncross Reserve is opening soon and it has been designed to enjoy magnificent views.

Soon to be opened, cafe at Mary Cairncross Reserve.
Other Attractions: Maleny Dairies, Maleny Cheese, Maleny Botanical Gardens and Bird World (entry fees), Gerrards Lookout, Maleny Mountain Wines and McLeod Brewing Co, Sweets on Maple, Maleny Markets.

Nearby: Mapleton National Park/Mapleton Falls, Kondalilla National Park/Kondalilla Falls, Montville, Lake Baroon, Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Peach Trees Camping Area, Jimna State Forest, QLD. February 2017

Peach Trees Camping Area in the late afternoon.
Due to breaking my ankle recently our planned road trip didn't go ahead at the start of this year. In February we did manage to slip away and spend a few days camping at the idyllic Peach Trees Camping Area in Jimna State Forest. Peach Trees is a large grassy campground with plenty of shade trees. Eastern Grey Kangaroos graze throughout the campground. Although this campground is a bit out of the way it is very popular and is well worth the detour from Kilcoy. If you are a 4WD enthusiast you would enjoy camping here then driving along Sunday Creek Road to Charlie Moreland Camping Area in Imbil State Forest and Booloumba Camping Area in Conondale National Park. I blogged about our trip to Peach Trees Campground in January 2016, however, there have been a few changes since our last visit which are worth noting.

Eastern Grey Kangaroos. Some children never seem to notice it is time to leave home!
The public pay phone has been removed and QLD Parks and Wildlife now provide free 24 hour Wi-Fi in the park. Mostly this is to insure that everyone can make bookings on arrival as there is no Telstra phone reception available, although I believe there is phone reception for other carriers. There are limitations to the Wi-Fi use but it is handy for checking the weather and receiving emails.

Wi-Fi near the amenities blocks.
The Day Use Area which used to be a fenced off area inside the campground has now been removed. This means there are now only a couple of tables left in the campground. On Saturday we had day trippers set up either side of us to enjoy a BBQ and explore the park with their children.

There used to be an elaborate wooden swimming platform overlooking the creek but it was severely damaged by flooding and the area was out of bounds for a long time. The remains of the old platform has now been removed and has been replaced with a simpler and hopefully hardier design. The water in Yabba Creek is black and may not appeal to everyone as a swimming spot.

New swimming platform on Yabba Creek, Peach Trees.
Little Pied Cormorant, Australian Wood Duck, male (top), female (bottom).
There is a small Platypus Viewing Platform on the way to the swinging bridge. I was going to say that in all the times we have camped here we have never seen a platypus but at last we did see one. We saw the platypus while walking on the Yabba Creek Circuit on the opposite side of Yabba Creek to the platform but it would have been visible from the viewing platform at the same time. By the time we raised our camera the platypus disappeared in a trail of bubbles.

Information sign at the Platypus Viewing Platform.
Periodically, Peach Trees gets overrun with Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and we found this to be the case on this trip with large numbers of these extremely raucous birds roosting in the park overnight and hanging around during the daytime. There are so many cockatoos that many trees are showing signs of damage from their constant gnawing. There are quite a few Bell Miners (Bell birds) around and they have also caused some damage to trees in the area.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo.
Medium sized goannas patrol the campground. They don’t lead a peaceful life here as both the Brush Turkeys and the Sulphur-crested Cockatoos harass them as they lumber by.

Lace Monitor (Goanna)
We were woken several times during the night by a Brush-tailed Possum which was trying to gain access to our sturdy rubbish bin. On the following nights we didn’t bother to get up as the possum never managed to get into our closed plastic bin. On our last night we were sitting under the stars when we saw a couple of Northern Brown Bandicoot. There are often owls in the campground at night but I thought it prudent not to go looking for them on this trip as I don't want any setbacks in the healing of my ankle.

I mostly sat around the campsite with my feet up and I found there was plenty to observe without venturing far. Indeed, on several occasions the wildlife came to me. There are some nice walks leading from the campground which I covered in a previous blog.

Apparently this Eastern Grey Kangaroo believed the grass in front of my seat was better than the grass elsewhere.
There were quite a few butterflies in the campground; mostly Lesser Wanderers and Blue Tigers. My ankle meant I was too slow to take many butterfly photos. Strangely, I did manage to get a photo of a Blue Triangle; a butterfly that became my nemesis in the past as I struggled for a long time to photograph one.
Lesser Wanderer Danaus petilia and Blue Triangle Graphium sarpedon
We saw an unusual looking male Regent Bowerbird. I inquired about this bird on the excellent Facebook page Australian Bird Identification and the very knowledgeable Nikolas Haass confirmed that it is a four year old sub-adult male emerging from it's immature to adult plumage. Unfortunately, it was a fair distance away and our photos are not very good but it is the first time we have seen a Regent emerging into adult plumage so we would like to record it here.

4 year old male Regent Bowerbird
Male Regent Bowerbird

Here are a few of the birds we saw:

Australian Brush Turkey
Noisy Miner
Blue-faced Honeyeater
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Satin Bowerbird

Australian King Parrot
White-throated Treecreeper

Wildlife viewed on this trip: This list was impacted by my lack of mobility.
Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Red-legged Pademelon, Lace Monitor (goanna), Long-necked Turtle, Eastern Water Dragon, Brush-tailed Possum, Platypus, Northern Brown Bandicoot, Hare.
Butterflies: Orchard Swallowtail, Blue Triangle, Blue Tiger, Lesser Wanderer, Monarch, Common Crow. I saw several types of Whites, Yellows and Skippers but wasn’t able to get photos or get close enough to make positive ID’s. We also saw an impressive 5 to 6 cm moth on our van one night which had an orange body and fairly plain brown wings.
Bird List: Regent Bowerbird, Satin Bowerbird, Australian Brush Turkey, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Little Pied Cormorant, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Pied Currawong, Torresian Crow, Australian Wood Duck, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Red-browed Finch, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Lewin’s Honeyeater, White-napped Honeyeater, Azure Kingfisher, Laughing Kookaburra, Magpie, Magpie-lark, Bell Miner, Noisy Miner, Black-faced Monarch, Australian King Parrot, Eastern Yellow Robin, Crimson Rosella, Pale-headed Rosella, Eastern Spinebill, Welcome Swallow, Bassian Thrush, White-throated Treecreeper, Eastern Whipbird, Willie Wagtail, Tawny Grassbird, Australasian Figbird, Variegated Fairy-wren.

Details for Peach Trees Campground, Jimna State Forest, QLD.
Where: 45 km north of Kilcoy. 145 km north-west of Brisbane.
Access: The road from Kilcoy climbs steadily but is quite pleasant. The last 2 or 3 kilometers into the campground are unsealed and on this trip we found it a bit corrugated.
Sites: Large grass area. No defined sites. Suitable for all rig types.
Fees: Adults $6.15. Family rates are available. 
Bookings: There is free Wi-Fi available at the campground for making bookings. Book before arrival during busy times. QLD Parks and Wildlife.
Facilities: Flush toilets, non-drinking water taps, free Wi-Fi, walks, fire rings.
Prohibitions: No pets. No generators. No collecting wood. Some restrictions on smoking.