Week 23 - August 20, 2018 - August 26, 2018

North Stradbroke Island or 'Straddie' as the locals call it, was our main event for the week.  We were not 10 minutes off the short ferry ride and we were in love with this island.  The island was easy to drive around and it was this reason we chose Straddie over the nearby famed Fraser Island.

   The ferry ride was short, but fun                           Sun-dappled roads were the norm
   Main Beach seemed to never end                           Loved these local's 'foot' prints - bird landed and left in one spot

   A nonplussed Koala just pausing alongside the road                                       Just a beautiful tree coming into Dunwich

We drove through the main town of Dunwich and headed across the middle of the island to Main Beach.  The beach was stunning and easily tracked by the 4x4 vehicles that carry campers many kilometers down the shore to beach camp wherever they like.  We did not spend a lot of time there as we were off for a walk in the Naree Budjong Djara National Park to find the Blue Lake.  What we found was certainly a beautiful blue lake; however, the walk to the lake was the highlight of the five kilometer journey.

   A beautiful walk through greens and golds                        Blue winged Kookabarra     

   Blue Lake lived up to its name                                                          Cinderoo patiently waiting for our return

After our walk in the woods, we turned northward toward our reserved caravan park.  As we had taken the last motorhome/caravan spot in the Cylinder Beach Caravan Park, we were anxious to see why the park was so popular.  Upon arrival, we did learn that there were only eight powered sites for motorhomes/caravans; however, if they had 80 sites, they would have still been popular.  The campground was on the northeastern tip of the island and the ocean was a mere 100 meters in front of us.  Not to mention, having a resident Koala nearby, a multitude of birds overhead and several dolphin encounters.

Just a peak at Amity Beach                                                               View to Cinderoo from the beach     

  Gerson enjoying the view back along Cylinder Beach                         Views to Cylinder Beach and Deadman's Beach
    Koala enjoying a siesta                                                  Dolphins everywhere

From our campsite, we could walk for kilometers along the beach, in either direction.  It was on one of the walks that we found a majestic Osprey toying with his lunch.      

   Osprey's catch of the day                          Thought this photo ironic - who was better at 'fishing'

   Views to one of several 'reefs' off the island                   Views along the walk around the tip of the island

One walk we wanted to take was that to and around the North Gorge Headlands.  We struck out at low tide so we could follow the beach and then returned via the cliffs.  Although the walk was only a few kilometers, it took us quite awhile because of all the stops for views and photos.

   Fortunately, low tide              Views on the way to the North Gorge Headland                  More Dolphins and babies

   North Gorge was vibrant                                           The northern end of Main Beach

    Views from the cliffs to Frenchman's Beach                Just a fun advertisement for board ding repairs

Our next day found us wandering in the other direction for no other reason than to see what was on the other side.  You would think we would get tired of azure blue oceans and golden sand beaches, but we haven't.

   Cylinder Beach to Home Beach

A highlight of our day was when we happened to spot a large Dolphin pod cruising rather close to the shore.  In a matter of minutes, we were watching several of the members leaping out of the water and then actually set up and surf several waves.  I included only a portion of the 'burst' photos here because each one shows a little something different in the antics of the Dolphins.  What fun we had watching them and squealing like the excited kids we were.


We enjoyed our last day on Straddie with a little more beach time and found ourselves wanting to stay a bit longer, but alas, we have many other wonderful places to visit and some friends to reconnect with along the way.

   Yep, just us on the beach                           These little stingers are everywhere       
    Sunset on Straddie                                                    Cinderoo in a class by herself

After Stradbroke Island, it was off to a famous surf spot, Surfers Paradise.  Unfortunately, for me, it was anything but paradise and I imagine soul-surfers feel the same.  The once off-the-beaten-path surf spot has become home to a significant number high-rise buildings and high end shops everywhere.  What was a sleepy enclave frequented by surfers, is now a concrete monolith monstrosity.  It was very easy for us to drive right on through and past without looking back.

   Surfers Paradise was anything but...but it was ok                  A Duck Boat tour  

We moved on further south and stayed at another surf town called Burleigh Heads.  Somewhat like its better known northern neighbor; however, it had a bit more charm and along with surfing, it also had some nice cliff walks.

   Burleigh Heads - rent-a-bikes were everywhere                         View back to Surfers Paradise and to Point Danger

    Lots of surfers enjoying the waves                                    Comorant and an Australian Turkey

   Views to Palm Beach near Burleigh Heads

We only stayed the one day at Burleigh Heads as we were starting to get a sense of 'been there, seen that' with the repetitive touristy beaches.  This is not to say we are not prepared to be surprised because one of the many things we have learned about Australia, is that there is always a surprise when you least expect it. 

   Cinderoo made it into New South Wales and sporting her new sticker tattoo

New South Wales, here we come!   And what a great start as we stopped off at the famous Byron Bay, for our 16th Anniversary no less.  Although we expected a very popular and yes, tourist-driven city, we found Byron to be a bit more 'bohemian' than its northern neighbors and the vibe was all positive energy.  Unfortunately, we had one day of blustery rain so our Anniversary was a bit subdued.  But then, we have been travelling all around Australia so that is like one big celebration for us, is it not.

We opted to take a walk along the cliffs to the Cape Byron Lighthouse and enjoy the stunning views of the coastline.  The lighthouse was built in 1901 and is Australia's most easterly point on the continent.  We have officially been to the most westerly point, gone as far northerly as you could on asphalt and now we touched the most easterly point.  We have just one more point to go!

   Beautiful beach views around Cape Byron                                        Even the lizards are beautiful      
   Just stunning at every curve and turn                 Cape Byron Lighthouse 
    Most Easterly point of Australia                            Just more spectacular views as we walked back along the road

And, Byron Bay's sunset did not disappoint.

   Surfer at sunset                                                Lighthouse under colorful skies

Another fantastic week and discovering Straddie will be a highlight of our entire trip.  Now, onto new discoveries in New South Wales.


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