Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gold Coast - Hinze Dam -Beechmont

Hinze Dam is the major water supply source for the Gold Coast.  It is a short drive, fewer than 30 km away.  It is easy to find the route via Mudgeeraba on the cental coast.  This is a great picnic spot, found so close to the Gold Coast strip.  It is a point of interest to visit along the way on a pleasant drive through the mountains.  There are many others.  We stopped at Hinze Dam for a look around and continued up along the ridge of Beechmont, towards  Canungra and looping back to the highway.  

On the way up to the dam you pass through forested scenery along the route with an occasional spring fed cascade splashing next to the bitumen.  A backdrop, refreshing and cool to drive in.  The way to the Dam is clearly signposted. 

Shady seat to look out over the lake

Spillway of Hinze Dam

Spillway with dam at 86%

Picnic spots, centre left and top right, below spillway

Observation area. Drinks and snacks available
On the way out from the Dam take the route to Beechmont.  It is magic scenery all along the way.  It ranges from closely treed mountains to open rolling pasture, green and lush.  You will pass higher up the range and drive past outlooks where you look down over the Dam.  Cruising along the ridge, we stopped to watch a couple of people fly model gliders.  We were amazed at how far and high the models could go.

A typical valley view near Beechmont

Pasture we drove past at Beechmont

Centre right is the silver streak of Purling Brook falls

Nature and plastic. Top left, eagle in flight, one of a pair; centre, model plane

This turned out to be an awesome Sunday Drive, somewhat unplanned as we had intended to go to the Dam and back.  The choice to go further via Beechmont was a bonus.  A good Sunday Drive turned great.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Gold Coast - Brunswick Heads

Today Sunday Drive will take you on a trip down into northern New South Wales and the small, laid-back town of Brunswick Heads. Here you can go fishing, surfing, swim in a protected inlet, hire a canoe for a paddle on the river, have lunch at the local hotel, or get some take away and sit on the edge of the river to munch away while the kids play in the playground.

From the Gold Coast, this is an easy drive through some rolling open countryside. By going south on the Pacific Motorway (M1) which is quick to access, running along the western edge of the Gold Coast, you quickly leave the dense view of concrete and enter some open, green vistas and rolling hills, backed by an ancient volcanic rim. The trip is along dual highway for almost the entire journey.

Brunswick Hotel. Great atmosphere here.

Looking towards the riverside playground. Shops on right.
There are two bridges across the river.  One is footbridge only and runs to path down to surf club.  The other takes cars too.  It is on the northern end of the park.  People often fish from these bridges. 

View north from the footbridge. Park and playground on left. Beach to right.

View across river from park. Sheltered inlet just behind cars on far bank.
The river is shallow, especially at low tide.  At the beach end of the bridge in the background, you can find a sheltered inlet.  This is particularly good if it is windy on the beach or if the surf is too big for the kids.

Sheltered inlet, away from surf at Brunswick Heads.

Brunswick Heads surf beach. Patrol and flagged area in distance.

There is lots to do here.  You and the kids can spend time in the water with an easy break for lunch.  It is a relatively short drive down to Brunswick Heads and offers a beach environment different from that on the Gold Coast.

Well worth the drive down.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Gold Coast - Brisbane - South Bank

Want to have a look at more than ocean beaches?  Queensland's capital city, Brisbane, is barely an hour's drive away.  Today we will drive up to Southbank; a centrepiece of culture, outdoor fun, a massive swimming lagoon, picnic facilities, entertainment, wining and dining.  All this moulded along the south bank of the Brisbane River, directly opposite the CBD.  Drive north along the M1 Pacific Motorway or take the train which stops right in the middle of the South Bank action.  Use a Go Card for all public transport travel.  Parking under the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition centre is $15 all day, cheaper than the parking right in South Bank.  It is a one block walk away.

Fun and interest for all the family at South Bank

There are two areas in the park.  At one end there is a cultural hub.  You could spend days exploring the Art Gallery, Museum, Gallery of Modern Art, the Science Centre and the State Library.  Free entry to all, except the Science Centre.  Some special exhibitions may entail a charge.  They are all modern constructions, with fabulous displays inside huge collections.  They are accessed directly from the South Bank rail station or via boardwalk along the river.

Entrance to Art Gallery

Museum at South Bank

A riverside playground

State Library at South Bank on Brisbane River

Fun on the Brisbane River at South Bank

The Brisbane Wheel and boardwalk. Brisbane River on left

Wander along the boardwalk from this cultural feast designed to suit all curiosities of an arty, historic, scientific, or literary nature.  Hmmm smell the learning.

Anyway, off to the outdoor entertainment.  Central is the huge series of swimming lagoons.  Sandy beaches, water fountains and streams with lifeguards on duty.  There are shady trees and shrubs throughout.  Excellent for all the family to cool off on a hot day. Toilets have lots of showers and a large change area for drying off after a swim.  Mum and dad can share a cold drink and watch the kids from the comfort of a cafe seat, if they wish.  When the tribe is hungry, the choice is endless.   BYO to cook on several barbecues, a cool drink or ice cream from one of many mobile carts, traditional fish and chips, cafe, through to fine riverside restaurant dining.

Some of the fountains in the lagoon area at South Bank
A cool drink

Part of the huge lagoon area
Lots of choice for food and drink

Shady walkway at South Bank along the banks of the Brisbane River

The kids can find all manner of activities: playgrounds, parkland, long cycle paths along the river and the fun lagoon area.  It's easy to fill a whole day.  Shops line the side of the park.  For the serious shopper in you, walk across one of two pedestrian bridges straight into the CBD and shopping malls. 

South Bank is much too large to fit into one story.  There are days of fun you could line up, so you can rest assured that you and the kids will have a fun-filled day.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Gold Coast - Tamborine - Gallery Walk

For a special treat.   A short drive from the Gold Coast up to Tamborine has several pleasures.   Firstly the cooler air and roads lined with grassland which changes to rainforest as you get higher.   The country and mountain feel hits you early in the journey; you start to wind down soon after you leave the denseness of the Gold Coast coastal strip.   It is a amazing how quickly concrete city and dense population changes to lush verdant in so few kilometres.  For today's Sunday Drive we have chosen to take you to  'Gallery Walk' and the Mount Tamborine Brewery.

This Sunday Drive offers a huge mix of things to do: wine, beer and/or cheese tasting; hunting out weird wonderful souvenirs; a quiet coffee; dukkah tasting; browsing antique, jewelry, clothing and bric-a-brac stores; a long list for individual indulgences.  Scattered along the street are fairy, fudge, ice cream, book, and celtic stores; even places where you can get readings done.  There's just so much to see and do.

See the link on the right for directions.  Basically, you head north towards Brisbane and take exit 57 from the highway.  Directions are clearly posted.

When you arrive, you will be greeted by an avenue of treats. Shopfronts declaring all manner of tempting invitations to enter.  Parking is plentiful.  The hard part is knowing where to look first.

Scenery along the way
Gallery Walk

Architecture and goodies
Trees make a beautiful backdrop

As you wander through the scenery, you will find that several hours pass quickly.  Once inside you will be greeted by friendly local staff.  They are helpful, smiling and willing to stop and talk to you.  If you need information, just ask. You will be offered tastes, smells, instructions, history.  It all adds to the experience.  We asked one of the jewelry stores if we could photograph some of the items in the shop; all handmade with some spectacular settings and colors.

One of the fabulous diplays

Spectacular, hand-crafted  jewelry pieces

Champion dukkah sampler
Champion beer sampler

All that rummaging and foraging can make you hungry.  All tastes are catered for.  We walked to the end of the street to the Mount Tamborine Brewery which houses a cheese factory and a restaurant.  Lyn tried a bit of dukkah along the way.

Just a few of the tasty local cheeses

We had a feed and returned to the walk.  Just easy browsing.  What a fabulous way to spend a day.  A quick drive back down the mountain to the Gold Coast for a well-earned nanna nap.