Sunday, 30 August 2009

Marking the spot

We had to get from Toowoomba in Queensland to Ballina in New South Wales and chose to go the slow way. It would have been quicker to go via the freeways at Brisbane and the Gold Coast, but we went via Warwick, Woodenbong and Kyogle - up and over the mountain range, down the river valleys, on twisting and in places bumpy roads.

It was a very interesting day, and in the process we crossed the border just south of Killarney. It's marked by a sign, a cairn and a little marker put in by the Brisbane and District Trail Horse Riding Club. The border was surveyed by Francis Roberts and Isiah Rowland between 1863 and 1866 and as we travel on the sealed roads in comfort it's amazing to imagine the effort it must have taken to survey the area.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Having a whale of a time

We're only in HerveyBay, Australia's whale-watching capital, a couple of days. It depended on the weather whether we would book in to go out and have a look at the humpback whales and today's forecast was good so off we went.

Our new grandson has put on 500 gms since he was born three weeks ago. The baby whales drink 600 litres of milk a day and put on a remarkable number of kilos. (OK, I wasn't listening properly, but it was a big number.)

Thursday, 27 August 2009

My island(s) home

Australia has 8222 islands. (I wonder is they counted Australia itself?) These are some of the little ones off the Queensland coast. It seems that every vista features an island, and because the weather over the last month has been hot and calm it all looks stunningly beautiful.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009


As we stood at the lookout at 1770, imagining the captain sailing around the headland in 1770 to drop anchor, I noticed a lovely butterfly trapped in a cobweb. It must have just happened because it was fluttering madly trying to escape. I managed to get top and bottom photos.

Creamy grevilleas

As we drove from 1770 (the town) to Hervey Bay the creamy flowers of a grevillea were a delight to see in the sub-tropical vegetation by the roadside. Almost like WA. The shrubs grow to about four metres but on the headland at 1770 the wind had sculptured them to bonsais, ground-hugging shrubs.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Osprey family

We'd never been to Yeppoon so the amount of development along that part of Queensland's coast was a bit of a surprise.

And so was this. The Ospreys are nesting on a tall lightpole at a marina and appear to have a family of two. We saw an adult take a large fish to the nest. Looking at the photos it appears that authorities have built some sort of platform on top of the lights.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Flagging at Flaggy Rock

There were record high temperatures in Queensland as we left Airlie Beach, and our family living there, and headed back down south. We were travelling the long road between Mackay and Yeppoon and getting a bit hot and bothered, so the cafe at the wonderfully named Flaggy Rock was a welcome sight. (Really we stopped because the signs said 'real icecream and real coffee'.)
But what really caught my attention was the lagoon behind the cafe. It was covered in water lilies and dragonflies were everywhere.
Oh, and a spider was waiting patiently in a shady spot.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Another grasshopper

Another type of Matchstick or Morabine Grasshopper - he found us at the beautiful swimming lagoon at Airlie Beach.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Hideway Bay beauty

Can anyone help me out here?

The location? The dry hillsides at beautiful Hideway Bay near the Eco Resort, on the Gloucester peninsula between Airlee Beach and Bowen.

The subject? Small leafless trees with big yellow flowers.

I didn't have time to really investigate but several photos may help with ID. We were wondering if they were bottle trees.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

A pretty spider

And here's a spider we found on a walk at Shute Harbour. (Actually, we were the ones doing the walking.) My resident son-in-law tells me they are common and come in a variety of colours. Isn't Queensland wonderful?

Queensland butterflies

Some of the butterflies I've seen in Conway National Park, Airlie Beach. No idea what they are - I left my books at home.

A grasshopper? Really?

This strange-looking insect that I found at Shute Harbour this morning had me searching the web. Apparently it's a Matchstick Grasshopper, also known as a Morabine or Monkey Grasshopper, in the Family Eumastacidae. (I'm happy to be corrected on this ID.) It's body and head is very elongated and it has large compound eyes.

There are several interesting walks at Shute Harbour, not too long, not too strenuous. It would be good to visit them in the wet season but there's no way you'll get me back here in the wet, even with the added attraction of a new grandson.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Camouflaged on a sand dune

Famous Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island, kilometres of brilliant white silica sand contrasting with the bluest of seas and backed by a low dune and forest. The tourists aren't interested in much beyond the sand and the water and who can blame them.

But there is life beyond the beach. I found this praying mantis on the grass on the dune, but only because it moved. I had terrible trouble photographing it because I had my sunglasses on and I can never see the LCD screen when I'm wearing them and I'm as blind as a bat without glasses. So I pointed and shot, with mixed results.

And here he is on a high vantage point checking out the tourists. No, the grey hair is not mine.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Creature of the night

After dark, and sometimes earlier, the chatter of the little geckos can be heard. They sit on the ceilings and walls of verandahs and other buildings, and here in the park they like to hang around the outside lights of the bathrooms. Presumably they like to catch the insects that are also attracted to the light.

When I lived in the NT years ago we lived in a house with louvres but no screens and the geckos used to come inside the house. We never minded. In those days I wasn't as interested the natural world so I've got no idea what particular type of gecko we lived with, and now I can't access the web cheaply so I don't know what this little chap is either.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Plants and insects

Over at Australian Plants Online there is a very interesting essay, written by Roger Farrow (5 August), about the relationship of flowers and insects. Amateurs like me benefit so much when people like Roger share their knowledge.

Fellow campers

We settled ourselves into a spot in a caravan park at Airlee Beach for a couple of weeks. Two Bush-stone-curlews standing very still under a tree - maybe under the impression that we couldn’t see them - watched us very carefully as we set up our van. They growled if we got too close. I didn’t know stone-curlews do that.

We relaxed into our camp chairs ... and saw a big blue butterfly land in a shrub several metres away. That was the end of relaxing.
It was a male Common Eggfly Butterfly Hypolimnas bolina nerina (known in New Zealand as the Blue Moon Butterfly). Apparently each male defends a territory about 30-40 metres apart and usually rests on a leaf one or two metres above the ground. This particular butterfly was not very active so I was able to get a reasonable photo.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Queensland garden delights

Did I mention that we went to the Proserpine Hospital to visit our new grandson? As we were leaving I spotted these two insects in the hospital gardens - a dragonfly and a skipper. I'm very pleased with the photos because they were taken on zoom to macro with my new(ish) Panasonic FZ28 (and cropped). Click on them to enlarge.