09 Feb 2016

Heading Down Under - Aussie Land by valeriepeltier

26/29

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With the sound of raindrops hitting the tent we woke up and began altering our original plans for the day. Instead of starting out on the water in the morning we decided to postpone that until the afternoon and instead head over to Noosa National Park for a hike regardless of whether it continued to rain or not. After breakfast we packed up the things we wanted to take with us making sure it was waterproofed just incase and made our way to the bus stop.
We got off at Noosa Junction and started walking towards the main beach, going off of the assumption that the set of stairs we saw the night before on the far side was the path that led you to the trail network in the park. When we got over to the far side the path continued along the shoreline winding its way between the water and the road. The path consisted of sections of concrete and wooden Boardwalk with side trails and sets of stairs leading you down to various secluded beaches.
About a ten minute walk down the path we reached the entrance to Noosa National Park where the path continued in several different directions. Sticking to the furthest left path we followed the coast trek for approximately 2.5 to 3 km towards Hells Gate.
A little ways in the shaded path from the overhanging tropical forest opened up to a sandy dryer arid ecosystem with a view of the ocean and the shoreline.
It was just after Tea Tree Bay where Lauren spotted a Lace Monitor in amongst the rocks down below, slowly making its way back into the vegetation. We stood there for a few minutes watching him make his journey before setting off to continue our own.

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With the sounds of raindrops we woke up and began making our plan for the day. We were originally going to spend some time on the water in the morning and then hike in the afternoon, but the weather altered our plans a little.
With the decision of hiking in the morning instead we hopped on the bus and made our way over to Noosa Head Junction. I had spotted the beginning of the trail the evening before when we were out on the main beach so we had an idea of where to go.
The path followed the shoreline weaving in and out between the shore and the road. The path consisted of both concrete surface and Boardwalk until we reached the entrance to Noosa National Park.
We had been talking to a girl from Ontario the night before who has been living here for a little while and she had suggested that we walk to coast trail as far as Hells Gate, so we stuck to the coast and began our hike.
The path wound its way along the coast opening up here and there to spectacular views of the ocean and every so often the smell of the rainforest reminded us of our time in Hawaii.
When we rounded the corner to Hells Gate the wind nearly knocked me over. Whistling and howling the wind pushed its way past, whipping the trees in a chaotic fashion.
We toured the peninsula and the few lookouts while attempting to take pictures while the wind pushed my hands making it impossible to hold it still.
Content with reaching Hells Gate we turned around and made our way back towards the trail head.
As we approached Dolphin Point I noticed that there were a few people gathered on a ledge overlooking the ocean and before I had a chance to tell Lauren we should check it out, one of the guys standing on the cliff turned back to us and shouted "Dolphins". We eagerly made our any over to stand by their side. They described the location of where they were swimming and no sooner they crested the top of the water with their fins. There we about 5 or 6 dolphins at one point but only a couple stuck around in the end.
Since we were getting hungry we decided to keep walking and stop at Tea Tree Bay and sit down for lunch hoping that we would possibly see the Dolphins again.

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When we reached Hells Gate the path split in two directions. Looking at the map we saw that it looped around regardless so we chose to start with the higher ground path leading us up a stone set of stairs. When I reached the top the wind crested over the cliff side and nearly knocked me over.
The wind rushed past me and howled in my ears as I stood atop the highest point on a large boulder gazing out into the ocean and on to the horizon. The vastness of the oceans and the power it holds, sinking in as the waves crashed into the rocks below me one after another.
As I attempted to take a few photos the wind continued to whip my hair in my face and move my hands in every which direction. It was difficult to hold the camera still but I managed to capture a few shots before moving on down to the lower portion of the peninsula.

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Venturing back along the path we passed by the same bays and cliff sides, but as always the same trail facing backwards is as good as a new trail because everything you look at on the way back gives you an entire new perspective and a second chance to possibly see something you missed.
As we approached the opening to Dolphin point there were a few people gathered by the point overlooking the ocean. Before I had a chance to mention it to Lauren one of the guys yelled something in what I think was German. As I turned to Lauren to tell her we should check out what they are looking at, he turned again and yelled "Dolphin". We hurried over as quickly as we could hoping to still catch them before they swam away. When we got to the edge the guy explained where they saw them last, and just as he finished they emerged from the water cresting the surface with their fins one after the other. I counted 5 or 6 as I sat there intently watching for them to breech the surface again and again until they were almost out of sight.
When they swam further away, we decided to continue down the path in order to possibly see them again as we rounded the coast bend after bend. Unfortunately we didn't see them again, but we were still happy we were able to see them in the first place.

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Back at the camp after our morning of exploring Noosa National Park, we put our togs (swim suits) on and hopped in the river to cool off, swimming around with the Pelicans.
With our original idea of trying out paddle boarding (SUP), based on the current weather conditions and the wind speeds we decided instead to hire (rent) kayaks, knowing full well that we would be fine fighting the wind in them.
Dressed and ready we walked down the waterfront to hire the kayaks and begin paddling. Our kayaks were the open style of sea kayaks. Lauren's even had a glass viewing area in the bottom of her pink kayak. Mine on the other hand was just a regular blue solid plastic sea kayak.
Making our way along the river, we began by ferrying across the boating channel in order to check out the mud flats where the majority of the Australian Pelicans had decided to rest for the majority of the day. When we reached the flock of Pelicans I noticed that there were a few smaller birds amongst the crowd, and later realized that they were actually little Pied Cormorant.
I got out of my boat long enough to take a photo before paddling down the corridor leading us towards a network of smaller passageways. We made it about half way towards the bridge before turning around. We didn't feel like fighting the current any longer so we turned out boats around and decided to go explore the mud flats a little more before having to return them.
When we reached the shallow area my boat touched bottom a few times before I eventually gave up paddling and got out pulling my boat onto the sand. There was another couple wandering the flats as well, chasing what looked like small armies of crabs. As we got closer we began to see that they were everywhere. Little and big Soldier Crabs moving as one big cluster made their way across the flats.
When we snuck up close to them to take a photo, they would attempt to run away by crawling over one another frantically or by giving up the chase and burying themselves in the sand. It was neat to see how they worked their way into the sand so effortlessly and disappeared as if they were never there to begin with.
Watching the clock we realized that our hour was almost up, so we gathered our boast, waded them out to the edge of the shallow water and paddled back to the harbour jetty (dock).