Having organised accommodation, and flights for the next instalments of my adventure, I find myself in the final moments of my third WWOOFing experience and as such, this seems to be as good a time as any to tell you all about the things I've been doing up on the Sunshine Coast.
Roughly three weeks ago, Liz was kind enough to give me a lift to my WWOOF host's property in the Mooloolah Valley and after a quick look at the (impressive) view from the balcony, she left me in the company of Jason and Lawrence.
Since I've mentioned the view, I should probably show it to you really.
Here's a shot I took at sunrise one morning. Yes, I woke up at around 06:00 one morning to find glorious colours streaming through the window. This gave me reason to clamber out of bed, get dressed, and make me way to the balcony with camera and GorillaPod in hand to capture this HDR image.
I'll be honest, I'm not too keen on the outcome, the HDR aspect makes it a little crazy looking (I won't be offended if you reeled away from your screen after the first glance). I was aiming for a holiday brochure type image which I often find are over saturated but this seems to push it a bit too far.
This isn't my photographic area of expertise, and I think this adds to my dislike of the image though, so I would like some feedback if you're willing to leave me a comment, tips on HDR photography welcomed as well. HDR is something I've never managed to get the hang of.
To make up for the craziness of that shot, here's one that's a little more sane.
Tunnel Ridge Outlook is Jason and Lawrence's home primarily, they moved here from the UK at the end of last year. Underneath the main part of their house though, is a guest house; a fully functioning one bedroom apartment. This is where I would be staying for my three week stay.
Normally, the guesthouse can be rented as a self catering holiday destination. Part of my WWOOFing duties would be to photograph it for their website. Here's a gallery so you can see where I was staying.
My main task while at Tunnel Ridge Outlook though, was to work in the garden. I spent two weeks trimming back unruly palm trees (and completely felling some), shredding the palm fronds to create mulch, spreading the mulch on areas of the garden, chopping up the felled palm trunks for firewood, and generally neatening the area.
The last week has suffered some fairly miserable weather (yes it does rain in Australia) making garden work difficult, instead, I have been spending the rainy times painting interior doors. I've been busy, but it's not very photogenic work so there aren't many photos. Thankfully, Jason and Lawrence have been very good about taking me around the local area to show me bits of the Sunshine Coast in the evenings (not many photos because of darkness) and weekends (photography was possible!)
The first weekend excursion was for a walk around Kondililla Falls, but before that we stopped at Cairncross Viewpoint for breakfast on the way, this gave us a grand look over one of the Sunshine Coast's landscape attractions; The Glasshouse Mountains.
There are stories about how the mountains are a family, Lawrence was telling me about it but he wasn't sure about all the details, and I've forgotten most of them now so giving you an accurate story would be difficult. Just enjoy the view.
Kondalilla Falls National Park, our main destination provided a nice, peaceful walk through rainforest surroundings.
Obviously, as the name suggests, the park contains some waterfalls. Quite a few different ones as it happens. I'm not sure of all the names, I would assume that the largest one is Kondalilla Falls, but before arriving there we passed some other smaller falls.
Before the main drop of Kondalilla, there is a smaller waterfall that fills a large pool. No one was swimming in it at the time we were there but it was cold so this could be why. Alternatively, swimming in the pool may be frowned upon, I have no way of knowing.
Of course, I wasn't too bothered about the swimming part, I had my camera with me, and my GorillaPod, and my variable ND filter.
LONG EXPOSURE TIME!!
As I mentioned, this pool feeds the main part of Kondalilla Falls, and that is what we wanted to see. There's a nice path that goes all the way down to the bottom which we followed, meeting a couple of "people" along the way.
Firstly, this gentleman. I have no idea why he was waiting there at the side of the path, but he must have been there a very long time to have turned to wood.
Still, he looked comfortable enough, peacefully enjoying the sunshine until whatever he was waiting for showed up.
Our second encounter was with a lady who seems to be watching over the National Park.
She wasn't overly talkative, completely failing to answer when I asked why she was watching over the place. She didn't seem to mind me taking a photo though, so that is what I did.
A short while later we'd made our way all the way down to the bottom of Kondalilla Falls. The falls have a surprisingly long drop to them, 90m to be precise.
There's only a small pool of water at the bottom of the falls, most of the water just runs through the valley as a river. This meant that you can hop over stones and get quite close to the falls themselves. I even did some simple climbing to get closer. I managed to perch myself on a large ledge that's just under where the stream of water splits in the picture to the right.
I couldn't get a decent picture of the falls until we'd actually left the area at the base, instead I paused to take this shot while we were ascending a path on our way out. I used my iPhone because it has a wider lens and still couldn't quite get the whole thing in. The exposure was awkward too, bloody sunlight and shadows!
Anyway, after a pleasant walk back through a different part of the national park we made it to the carpark, where a kookaburra happened to be having a rest on a branch which gave me chance to finally photograph a kookaburra that isn't perched on some sort of man made fencing.
Other activities for the weekend offered less photographic material, time was spent enjoying evenings out at various local places like Mooloolaba, and Caloundra. We had Sunday lunch at a Buddhist retreat that has a cafe and small shop, it may surprise some folks to know that I am capable of enjoying vegetarian food! I didn't take any photos there as it didn't seem appropriate, but I did buy two books; I would highly recommend reading The Tao Of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff, I haven't read the other book yet so cannot comment on it at this time.
The following week was of course spent doing more work in the garden, including some work with a brand new electric chainsaw, that was fun! The second weekend however, involved more activity. The Saturday was spent visiting another of the larger towns on the Sunshine Coast, Noosa.
I actually have a (distant) relative who works in Noosa; My Mum's (other) cousin's, sibling's, son. Paul Leete (who has his own recipe book) is head chef at a restaurant on the seafront, it's called Sails and we were hoping to visit for a drink. Unfortunately the place was fully booked for what appeared to be a wedding so we were unable to even get to the bar.
Instead, we took a walk through Noosa National Park, along Alexandria Bay and up to Hell's Gates. This photo is taken from atop Hell's Gates, viewing Alexandria Bay.
As a side note, later in the day we discovered that Alexandria Bay, or A-Bay as it's referred to, is actually the local nudist beach. The beach was very empty while we were walking along it, and those inhabiting the sand were definitely clothed though which would explain why we didn't notice the nudist aspect.
The following day saw us visiting some other nearby areas, including Eudlo, Montville, and Kawana. Part of the day's activity was a visit to a rather interesting little tea shop/antiques shop where I found this bear in a big cauldron, as well as some other rather creepy oddities.
And then to round off the day I was introduced to the sport of rugby league.
One of Lawrence's friends is a business sponsor for the SC Falcons and as such is eligible for free passes to the home games.
On Sunday, SC Falcons were playing Northern Pride. Sadly the Falcons suffered a fairly hefty defeat, but having never watched a game of rugby before I had a great time trying to figure out what was going on.
In addition to trying to photograph the game itself, I couldn't help taking a quick shot of the stadium's entrance.
As well as watching a live game of rugby, later in the week I accompanied Lawrence to a friend's house to watch the big game; Queensland vs. New South Wales, in the second game of the State Of Origin competition. It was a great game, with New South Wales defeating Queensland, bringing them even in terms of games won, the deciding game will be held in Brisbane in a few weeks time. I may be tempted to buy a ticket.
Anyway, that pretty much wraps up this account of my activity packed few weeks WWOOFing up on the Sunshine Coast. Tomorrow morning I will be making my way back to Brisbane for a couple of events, followed by a trip to Sydney and Wollongong.
More on those things in the future though...