But delayed by a day. There has been a weather delay in completing the last 4 kilometres to Pt Danger. Allthego had to skip Thursday due to a rather bad weather forecast putting a dampener on the final leg. Friday morning though saw the weather ultimately clear to blue skies after some early morning downpours on the Gold Coast. So it was back to North Kirra Beach to pick up where the walk was called off a couple of days ago.
From North Kirra the walk closely follows the beaches all the way through Greenmount Beach at the southern end of Coolangatta Beach. Along the Kirra section of the pathway is a memorial to the sailing ship ‘Coolangatta’ which washed up on the beach in a storm in 1846. This was the origin of the name ‘Coolangatta ‘ for the small town that developed on the coast from about 1884. ‘Coolangatta’ is an aboriginal word meaning “Good Outlook” of “Fine View”. Quite apt! There are also a few sculptures along the pathway. Another one of the Koalas promoting Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and the somewhat unusual ‘Nailing the Gold Coast’, a number of ‘steel things’ embedded in the grass to various depths resembling nails.
Coolangatta Beach was soon reached, lot of building work going on. The parkland between the main drag and the beach very green and attractive. The tide was out and there was quite an expanse of sand down to the water. Coolangatta and Tweed Heads is an old stamping ground for Homealone, she was born at Murwillumbah and lived at Tweed Heads for a number of years, enjoying Coolangatta Beach with her two sisters on many an occasion. The town has moved on a bit since then one suspects, there is an electric vehicle charging station right outside the Coolangatta SLSC. A Tesla was tied up to it getting a fill up, reminds one of the days when horses were tethered to rails outside hotels.
Allthego couldn’t resist ducking down a side street to have a look at the ‘wall’ Queen Anna has built to keep the southeners out, this segment just closed off the exits from the roundabout outside Twin Towns Services Club. A big sign there says ‘Welcome to NSW’, couldn’t see the ‘Welcome to Qld ‘ sign anywhere!
After checking the wall out Allthego returned to the main task and continued along the pathway around the Greenmount Headland, great views along the path here looking back down Coolangatta Beach. Rainbow Bay marks the closing stages of the walk as the path winds its way along the beachfront past the iconic SLSC on the hill looking back all the way to Surfers Paradise and beyond. On past the famous Snapper Rocks surfing locale the path heads up to Pt Danger and the view over the mouth of the Tweed River to the south and then back north past the Spit and Seaway.
That is the end. It has taken Allthego five mornings, about 3-4 hours of walking each day, to complete the 36 km from the Seaway to Pt Danger. It has been an interesting journey, a few things learned and to be remembered. Some do the walk in the opposite direction, Allthgo is not tempted!
Over the last three days Allthego has been notching up a few kilometres more than planned and as a consequence is ahead of schedule. This a good outcome because the weather is deteriorating and rain a threat to further progress later in the week. So the objective today is to try to do 12 kilometres and get to Point Danger a couple of days early and beat the rain. The forecast is similar to what we had yesterday, so there is a good chance. Gillian has also come down to join me on the trek and encourage the pace required.
We set off from opposite The Collective where we had lunch yesterday. It was a few more blocks of roadway before turning towards the beach and joining the pathway through the Palm Beach Parklands and along the back waters of Currumbin Creek.
Then back to the Highway to cross Currumbin Creek and head out to the mouth on the southern side. There is a sand pump going strong alongside a large sand bar near the creek mouth. The sand is being pumped several hundred metres north along the beach. The area we are in is known as Currumbin Alley, a top surfing spot. Not many in the water though on this dull windy day. We watched a kite surfer skipping along the surf line at a great rate, quite spectacular, against the backdrop of Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise.
Back on the walkway we headed past Currumbin Beach SLSC and Elephant Rock, a seventy step climb to look down to Coolangatta and Pt Danger away in the distance. At this point I started to wonder whether we would make it! The weather was closing in a bit too and we were soon stepping out in some drizzle that slowly got heavier.
We stopped a few times under Pandanus palms and Tuckeroo trees for shelter, Bilinga Beach had some welcome shelters next to the Surf Club. We had got a little wet and decided to call time at North Kirra Beach, some four kilometres short of the destination, having called Homealone for the pickup.
Temptation was too great though and the three of us had lunch at the Club while rain tumbled down on the tin roof! Timing is everything! It was then back to Broadbeach for a hot shower and warm up. Four kilometres in the final stage to Pt Danger, weather permitting!
Stage three of the trek is from Nobbys Beach through to Palm Beach, about 8.5 km. Nobbys Beach is apparently named after a local farmer’s cow that wandered down there back in the ‘old days’, it is a rather quiet place. The walk goes along the street past the surf club before returning to the foreshore on the way down to Miami Beach. The weather is not great, very overcast with the threat of some rain. But it is great walking weather. The beach scenes though are rather glum, the sky misty and a pervading ‘grey’ hangs around. It feels like a bit of a race to get to Palm Beach before the rain comes!
Miami is also rather laid back, it has a ‘residential’ rather than a ‘tourist’ air about it. There is a little family history here in Miami. Allthego’s father worked as a wool shipping clerk for a French company that owned a unit in the Coel-Na-Mara unit complex. For a number of years around 1990 the parents had holidays here at Miami in the unit and we dropped down from Brisbane to see them for a couple of days. The unit complex is still here today, but Miami is somewhat changed. Have to look back in the old photo albums for a comparison!
At the southern end of Miami Beach some steps lead to the top of Little Burleigh Hill giving great views north back over Miami to Surfers Paradise and south to Burleigh Headland. Up the steps and down Little Burleigh Headland proves to be the steepest part of the walk so far, but once down to the beach it is back on the level. The Boardwalk leads along the foreshore through the Burleigh township to Burleigh Headland NP. A little bit of drizzle sets in but fortunately stops as the walk goes up the headland into the National Park. Allthego chooses the coastal path around the headland which winds it’s way around to Tallebudgera Creek.
Once across the creek it is down the Gold Coast Highway to Palm Beach, there is though a short stretch of foreshore boardwalk to enjoy. More is planned but there is an ongoing planning battle with residents about the pathway and where it goes. One suspects the Gold Coast Council will eventually win out. Allthego wont wait!
So, the trudge down the highway from 27th Avenue to Seventh Avenue is necessary, a little bit of drizzle as well. Urban walking! There was temptation to stop for a coffee. The streetscape has that tired feeling about it. Revitalization is needed. Here and there the housing is getting a bit ragged and the 1960s and 70s gloss is fading. Some would say it has rubbed off and been replaced by nothing! Some of the old beach ‘shacks’ are going and redevelopment is going ahead. There seems to be a rear guard action being fought to stop the light rail coming south from Burleigh Heads. Unlikely!
Finally, just past Seventh Avenue Allthego spotted The Collective, an eating establishment he had read about. It was about 12.30 and time for lunch, it was getting a bit wet as well. So the call went out for Homealone to head off for the pickup and lunch.
Allthego can recommend The Collective. It is a ‘collection’ of themed eateries, like sidewalk windows of food! One sits down and can order from an IPad. The selection covers American alfresco foods (mainly hamburgers and the like), a woodfired pizza bar and pasta, Greek delicacies, some Asian fusion nibbles and something else I have forgotten. Played some 60s 70s soft rock and country music as well! And it rained cats and dogs while we ate! A wise stop indeed.
It was then back to Broadbeach and recovery time.
We awoke on Monday to the threat of rain for the rest of the week! This was a little disappointing but Allthego is setting off anyway. Rain is needed. The next section of the trek resumes at Narrowneck and extends 8km south to Nobbys Beach Surf Life Saving Club. The sun and blue skies have gone but the rain has held off. Had a short walk around Mackintosh Island Park, in the Nerang River. Very pleasant spot in the hurly burly of Narrowneck, some black swans had recently had newborns and the peacocks were showing their colours.
The walkway heads south and soon comes to Surfers Paradise. Capital of the glitter strip. There are a lot of information boards around documenting the history of the area from the 1950s. Memories of Meter Maids and that guy who went around rubbing suntan lotion on people, as well as surfing legends and the bikini lady, Paula Stafford. Cavill Avenue history also gets a run.
Major redevelopment is taking place to revamp the precinct, the 2018 Commonwealth Games mascot is still hanging around along the waterfront. Moving along from Surfers the next calling point is Broadbeach, plenty of building activity is taking place. The boardwalk ends here and Allthego needs to take to the streets for the long walk along Hedges Avenue to Mermaid Beach.
Hedges Avenue is a narrow street lined with private homes and the odd apartment block, generally low rise. It is known as ‘millionaire’s row’. The homes have title rights down to the highwater mark, making it difficult to put a boardwalk up between them and the beach. Spoil the ambience and property values. It is a mixed bag though, modern homes mixed with original ‘beach shacks’ from the 1950s and 60s. It is a slow stroll down the Avenue from number 270 something to number 1 Hedges at Mermaid Beach. Quite a nice Surf Club here and cafe precinct. But there are magpies. Allthego, politely minding his movements, was dive bombed by one of these characters a couple of times in the parkland opposite the Club.
It was then back onto the streets for the stroll through to Nobbys Beach Surf Life Saving Club. Homealone duly arrived with the transport and we headed back to Broadbeach to Kurrawa Beach SLSC for a thirst quencher, couldn’t resist a serve of potato wedges and sour cream overlooking the ocean!
We have come down to the Gold Coast for a week of fun in the sun. No van. Staying at Broadbeach in a unit opposite Pacific Fair and nearby the Star Casino. Queensland has survived another COVID ‘scare’, so we have escaped the Brisbane suburbs for the glitter strip. This is a trip though with a purpose as Allthego is preparing for a multi day walk in Tasmania in the new year. Some training is required, drop some kilos and loosen the legs. Homealone will hold the fort and act as a transport operative, and no doubt do some craft things in between!
The objective is to walk from the Seaway on the Spit to Pt Danger at the NSW border, along what is known as the Ocean Way. This is about 36 km along the foreshore bikeways and walkways. There are some segments where the Ocean Way does not exist and one has to revert to the streets. This particularly applies in some areas where houses have rights down to the high tide mark. They do not want the general populace wandering past their back door spoiling the ambience of the locale!
Allthego has got out the maps and believes that this is a leisurely stroll and can be comfortably completed in 5-6 days, retiring each night to the Broadbeach accommodation. Some would do it a lot quicker but would miss the photo opportunities and cultural experiences along the way!
Day 1 has been successfully completed, approximately 8km. The Seaway to Narrowneck, including walking out and back along the seawall. The Seaway separates South Stradbroke Island from the northern end of the Gold Coast. Narrowneck is the thin ‘strip’ of land that separates the meandering Nerang River from the sea, a couple of kilometres south of Main Beach.
Leaving the Seaway the walk meanders down what is known as the Federation Walk, a track behind and among the sand dunes passing through areas of remnant rainforest. There are lots of people around. It is a dog off leash area, including the beach between the seawall and the sand pumping jetty. There are more dogs than people. Dogs everywhere, it is Sunday, but a pleasant stroll through to Main Beach and then along the walkway to Narrowneck.
A bit weary so it was back to the unit for recovery. Further south tomorrow!
Our time in Toowoomba is coming to an end and we are heading off to Crows Nest NP about 50 km to the north for a couple of days. After a slow get away (we always seem to have slow get aways for some reason) we have found ourselves calling into a couple of suburban gardens that are open to the public. They are at Highfields, about 15 km north on the way to Crows Nest NP, in the same street a couple of blocks apart. The houses here are on quite large blocks ideally suited to sprawling sorts of gardens. Anyway, these two have totally different sorts of gardens.
House A has a predominance of bush type layout, all sorts of natives haphazardly planted here and there, lots of blooms and pieces of stuff lying around the garden, old wheel barrows, animals made out of old garden tools etc. Fascinating place to wander around.
House B was a more classical sort of layout, with defined garden beds and edgings. Still plenty of natives but a greater use of spring flowering annuals. Very green grass defining the spaces between the beds. We liked both of them, oodles of work though!
Finally departed and headed for the NP where we set up camp in a very nice spot. Fire pit beside the van, plenty of room to spread out. We are going to head back from here to Toowoomba for the Grand Central Floral Parade, it will just be for the morning then back here to recover!
The parade was indeed a great colourful pageant. The theme was ‘butterflies’. Floats were pretty good. It was an interesting dynamic of the typical country sort of thing, local community groups, major employers, sports clubs and schools. Added to this were the pipe bands, drum bands and various combinations of these. Army band.
Interspersed were the various ethnic groups putting on a great colourful enthusiastic performance; Indians, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Muslim, Sikh. This parade has been going on for donkey’s years. It would have looked different back in the 1960’s.
Now back to Brisbane. That melon festival at Chinchilla might be a good place to head next!
Time for a change of pace and get away from the flowers, or at least try to. Everyman and his dog (is that politically correct these days?) seems to be participating in the festival atmosphere by planting a few annuals, putting up banners etc. So we have gone off to a few places where the flowers are not the main action. The journey took us out to Drayton on Toowoomba’s south western flank. This was where settlement first took place in the late 1840s, later moving a bit further east to present day Toowoomba.
Drayton is where Toowoomba’s big sprawling cemetery is located, established in 1864. Quite an expanse of grave stones and lawn cemetery, plaques etc. There is quite an attractive section with gardens and a water feature. Probably the best spot to be for the long haul! We had a little bit of a drive around, up and down the grave lane ways. Doing the guided historical stroll searching for past icons and other famous types did not appeal. There is a night time tour that might be a bit more interesting, focuses on the macabre deaths!
After a while we moved on to the DownsSteam tourist railway and museum. This is a very active restoration group. They are nearing completion of their major project, the restoration of a C16 steam locomotive that was originally built in Toowoomba in 1914. It is the only remaining one of its type. To be known as the ‘Pride of Toowoomba’. The project should be completed in the first half of 2022 at which time plans are afoot to run locomotive trips out to Warwick, then south to Stanthorpe and Wallangarra on the border with NSW. From Warwick there is the ability to go further west to Goondiwindi. They have a good set up at Drayton in yards beside and access to the main line. The steam train has apparently passed most of its operating tests, regulatory and safety hoops and hurdles are the next challenges. They also have six or maybe seven stainless steel carriages being prepared for the trips.
The workshops also have their flower beds in bloom. They say they ‘compete’ with Spring Bluff to see who can do the best layout. There is an old photo reproduction of an oil painting of a steam train coming through Spring Bluff Station, it would have been a quite impressive sight chugging up the steep incline.
Time for a little more history at the National Trust property the Royal Bull’s Head Inn. It has been slowly restored to its mid to late 19th century glory. It was established by an ex convict in 1847 as stopover point on the journey from Moreton Bay to the Darling Downs. There were lodgings, stables for animals and rooms for social occasions in the town. The double story Inn would have been quite a sight along the dusty roads. There is a rickety old kitchen set up attached to the back of the building that would have provided meals and snacks to patrons. Although closed for inspection we managed to get a quick look through the building as a guide was there preparing for a late afternoon tour group and she let us wander around. Of course there were also a few gardens in bloom just to be part of the Festival action.
We managed to get in another lunch at Gips restaurant. They were putting on a festival special which Allthego couldn’t resist, a pastrami sandwich. Traditionally, pastrami sandwiches are made with rye bread, but these days anything seems to go so long as it is a tasty artisan type bread. The chef at Gips used some Turkish bread and it was very tasty! Homealone passed on the sandwich and had some whiting filets with chips.
We now head to Crows Nest NP, it is about 50km north of Toowoomba, for a couple of days. We are going to return to Toowoomba from there for the festival’s Grand Central Floral Parade. An iconic event and a bit of a highlight for the locals. One hundred thousand people are supposed to line the streets and fill the parks.
We are away again on the trail of flower beds and gardens. But first an interlude. We have been the victim of a clothes line heist. Yes, Homealone has done a wash and hung things out to dry and low and behold someone has snatched items from the line! Never before has this happened to us. What has gone? Two towels. They could have taken the old stretched underwear, but no it was the two towels that we have had for nearly ten years! Lucky we have two spares on board. Homealone was ‘generous’ and thought it might have been a husband who was a bit confused and sort of grabbed them from the line as they were leaving the park thinking they were theirs! Argh, argh!!!
Back to the gardens.
First stop off was at the Boyce Gardens. This is an old property gifted to the University of Queensland by the Boyce’s who lived here for 60 years or so. It is a great property. Toowoomba by the way is a big bowl. The city CBD and commercial area sit in the bottom and the residential areas are on the fringes and ridges that surround the bowl. The Boyce Gardens look down into the bowl from the eastern side of town. It is a great rambling sort of place, order within disorder!
A change of pace then took us to Newtown Park on the western side of the city. Here lies the Queensland State Rose Garden. Newtown Park has been around for a long time dating back to pre WW1 days and hosting all sorts of community activities ever since. The plaques that abound tell all sorts of tales of the human adventures that took place in the park. World War mobilizations, community halls and activities, dances, croquet, horses etc. But these days it seems roses are the main go. Now roses are funny things and they just do not fit the timing of the Toowoomba Festival of Flowers! We had a little chat with a lady who seemed to be involved with the Garden, her line was ‘ we are all volunteers you know’. She gave us a brochure and explained that the roses were due to bloom October, not September! But we still had a walk around and there were a few blooms out, there are always early bloomers.
Third stop for the day was at Laurel Bank Park, back in the city. The gardens here were in great form. They had a dinosaur theme running through them. Many of the beds had ‘hidden’ dinosaurs in them that could only be seen when looking down from above. There is a stand in the park that allows you to get up a few metres and look down into the garden beds. Some pretty clever gardeners involved in this! The Loch Ness monster was even there peering out from under some flowers.
Pictures tell a story in a way words cannot. The Toowoomba Parks have been just so good! Excellent even!
Allthego has been having some teething problems with the blog. We have to work with some new design software. Why do things have to change! Photo inserts are a particular learning curve and some gremlins are causing some inconsistencies in the post layouts. Hopefully I will get on top of this shortly! I am told by the system that I need to do some tutorials on the new software. Mmmmmm. I have done lots of tutorials over the years and am getting past them!
More flower beds to come!
The flower beds call and we are off to Spring Bluff Railway Station to check out their floral display. Spring Bluff is a heritage listed railway station on the Brisbane -Toowoomba line. It was a key stop for steam engines as they climbed up the Toowoomba Range. The line is now mostly a freight line and there are few passenger services, none stop at Spring Bluff. A very colorful display indeed.
This journey is not only about flowers, it is also a food and wine festival experience, and there is much promotion of local food establishments and regional produce. A number of country pubs in nearby towns are being promoted for an eat out. After strolling around Spring Bluff we headed off to Meringandan, a small town about 25 km north of Toowoomba. There is a country pub here owned by Geoff Murphy. This fellow played lock for the North Sydney Bears back in the mid 70s. Very popular place and the bar is adorned with a collection of NRL team logos.
It was quite appropriate that the Parramatta Eels were placed side by side on the wall with the Newcastle Knights, we had just beaten these characters in the race to the grand final. Anyway the food here was just great. Enormous meals, great steaks. Homealone called for a doggy bag and we took half her Parmie back to the van for later consumption. We had some soup for dinner and retired to bed very satisfied.
Queens Park was next on the list. This Park is a dominant land mark in Toowoomba. It has its origins in the mid 1870s with the establishment of the botanical gardens. Adjacent to this is a great area of rambling parkland and playing fields. A great display of spring blooms were on show. It is hard to describe. Bed after bed of flowering plants that are in full bloom. People everywhere examining the plantings. A few selfie takers among the flowers as well.
We are getting into the habit of finishing off the garden bed touring around lunchtime and heading off somewhere for a snack before returning to the van to put our feet up for the afternoon. A good number of the food establishments have a special menu item to promote the Carnival, We thought we should support some of them. So it was off to Urban Grounds where we had some ‘salmon, citrus and caper croquettes’; with a nice little green avocado and grilled lemon salad. Very tasty and a fitting end to the mornings activities!
More flower beds to come!
The van has finally been fixed and we are on the road again. Only 4 months to fix the broken suspension, delay in getting parts. COVID probably contributed too! For the last couple of weeks we have been sweating on the daily Queensland COVID announcements and case numbers. Would our dear leader call a ‘short sharp lockdown’ to quell an outbreak and thereby prevent us from getting to Toowoomba to smell the flowers at the 2021 Carnival of Flowers and Food Festival? No, she didn’t and so here we are in Toowoomba among the free for a bit over a week. Escaped.
We are staying in the Jolly Swagman Caravan Park which is pretty well located for an urban experience, not the greatest ambience but it is clean and well maintained. No fires! Been here before, so it is familiar. The weather is also good, clear sunny skies are forecast for the week, the air is crisp in the mornings and it gets a little chilly at night.
The Carnival is an iconic Queensland event. It has been going for 72 years and is Australia’s longest running horticultural event. I’m not so sure about this as some of the capital city Easter shows have surely been going longer, perhaps they don’t fit the ‘horticultural’ category? This year the Festival has been expanded to take up the entire month of September.
Anyway, we have come up the mountain to have a look at some of the public spaces and private gardens that are on show and also check out the food and wine part of things. After checking into the Jolly Swagman and some lunch the first stop was at Picnic Point which is at the top of the Range and looks back down over the coastal plain. Quite a view and some nicely laid out garden beds were in full bloom.
Saturday morning saw us at the Farmers Markets to stock up on some food items. Got caught at the organic pig farm butchery truck with what was some overpriced bacon and pork chops. It was then time to join the masses at the Food and Wine Festival in Queens Park for the afternoon and evening. There was all day entertainment on the big stage and numerous local food and vineyard outlets plying their fare. Quite a multicultural food offering. We settled for some pulled lamb burgers and a bit later a grazing plate of cheese and assorted meats, a pizza and a little wine to top it off. Listened in the sun under an umbrella to about 8 hours of music of variable quality.
The highlight act was two old rockers. Brian Cadd and Russell Morris. Both pushing into their 70s. Quite a show, both were probably a little past their best but they were still entertaining and sang some of their old hits. Brian Cadd was into ‘Ginger Man’, ‘A Little Ray of Sunshine’ (which he says he sings to his 5 grand children), ‘Arkansas Grass’, ‘Don’t You Know It’s Magic’ and others. Russell Morris belted out ‘Wings of an Eagle’, ‘Sweet, Sweet Love’ and ‘The Real Thing’. Plenty of old age gags and banter. I seemed to remember most of the songs so I probably also qualify for the age group.
Sunday saw us off to the University of Southern Queensland to check out their Japanese Garden. The cherry blossoms were out in full force. Nice little walk around the lake, quite a calming spot. Back to the van for lunch and the afternoon with legs up before Allthego ventured to the Federal Hotel, nearby the Jolly Swagman, to watch the Parramatta Eels clean up the Newcastle Knights. Homealone remained at the van and did some craft.
More flower beds to come!