Australia Diaries – Never Stop Exploring – Lamington National Park

Brisbane has a lot of national parks and reserve. And we were spoilt for choices. Finally we settle on Lamington National Park, one of the biggest in the area about 2 hours drive from Brisbane City. However, we took over 2 + hours to reach the place passing by the Gold Coast on the way! Consequently by the time we reached, it was almost noon.

We stopped at the Park Office to check out the trails and because we were left with only about 5 hours of walking time, and knowing our own propensity for taking our own sweet time for birding and taking photos, on the advice of the staff at the Park Office, we decided to just do a short hike that should take us about 3 hours max.

At the trail head, we came across this contraption – a device to sanitise our shoes! So that we don’t carry any unwanted things into the park. How about that. They think of everything. Apart from this minor excitement, the first part of the hike was among thick vegetation and with no view.

We did come across this tree which looks like a face.And can hear many birds but cannot see them.

But after some walk we got our first view at this lookout, Bellbird Lookout.

Not very impressive though. We backtracked part of the way before turning off to a new trail. Somewhere along the way, 3 other hikers appeared. Chinese. Can’t tell whether they were Taiwanese or PRC definitely not Singaporean but they were super loud in their conversation. Which is very annoying when all we want to do is enjoy nature and not hear irritating voices. To make it worse, they also decided to go the way we were heading!

Finally we came to this lookout, Koolanbilba Lookout.

Definitely more promising and we were preparing to lounge around and have our lunch here when those people caught up. Sighed……. Not willing to listen to their incessant chatter, we decided to move off and hopefully they won’t follow.

This time we took a new trail which mean we will be cutting it close to 3 hours and more likely exceeding that. But so far we haven’t seen anything really interesting or any great view. Bu at least the walk was more interesting skirting the cliff edge and with many broken cliffs creating dramatic walk points.

And then we came to this Yangahla lookout .

Oh wow! A piece of hard rock jutting out over the valley and with a panoramic view to boot! Great. We had our lunch there and took many photos.

 

Bonus was this little bird that stayed on this tree for us to shoot away.

Extra bonus – the Chinese trio didn’t appear and nobody else came along so we didn’t have to share the rock.

Apart from the trail we took, there are many other trails of varying difficulty suitable for hikers of different level of fitness at Lamington.

And the other thing worth nothing – the drive to and fro the place involving driving up a long curvy Binna Burra Road comes with great views.

Good to stop at the various rest stops along the way to enjoy the break and keep the driver fresh and alert!

Good but not so Cheap – Gyu Nami

Amoy Street Food Centre is fast becoming a start up for young food hawkers. The latest to join the line up is Gyu Nami, a Japanese Donburi stall set up by 2 cousins or that what I was told.

They served only 1 item – Wagyu Beef Donburi. At $10.00 a bowl, it is not cheap by hawker food standard. The rice serving portion is also rather small as evidenced from the small bowl. But what does not lack for is slice and slice of Wagyu Beef cooked medium well. There is also an Onsen egg and a bit of vegetables. The whole thing is topped with a rather interesting tasting sauce which I figured got mayo and some other stuff which I cannot identified.

Once again, not cheap for a food centre lunch but definitely value for money!

Australia Diaries – Brisbane Botanic Garden & Mt Cootha

Another must visit place on my oversea visits is the Botanic Garden in that county. Brisbane has 2 main botanic garden , the City Botanic Garden which is actually within walking distance of where we were staying but we choose the Brisbane Botanic Garden because it was on our way to Mt Cootha.

The Brisbane Botanic Garden is a 56 hectare garden opened in 1976 located in Toowong, a 15 minutes drive from the city. Upon entering the place, the main attraction seems to be a big pond where we sighted a few species of water birds like the Purple Swamp Hen, Pacific Black Duck and Euraisan Coots.

Like most garden world wide, it is divided into different theme areas like the Cactus House, Japanese Garden, Rainforest, etc

But because we came after in the afternoon after our trip to Mt Cootha, we had little time to look at the plants and instead spent the time “birding”. Apart from the water birds, we saw a flock of Bush Stone Curlew, a rare bird in all of Australia but doing well in urban Brisbane. We also has our first encounter of a Masked Lapwing which started to react fiercely when we approached. I think it has a nest somewhere. We also saw a Brush Turkey and of course many small garden birds.

A nice little place to while away the time and explore artificial nature if one is not so incline to go to the nature reserve.

Bonus Trip –

The Brisbane Botanic Garden is situated at the foot of Mt Cootha so we actually started our day at Mt Cootha instead.  The summit of Mt Cootha at 287 metres above sea level is accessible by car so we drove all the way up although our original intention was to hike up. At the summit, one can get a panoramic view of Brisbane City.

There is a toilet and a restaurant and gift shop at the summit – too commercialized for our liking so we decided to explore the trails around it.

For those not inclined to hike- a better itinerary  is to visit the Brisbane Botanic Garden first and then to drive up to the Mt Cootha summit for the view and refreshment.

Australia Diaries – Australia Zoo

I make it a point to go to a zoo in every major city that I go to,  that is, if they have a zoo of note. And in Australia, none come as famous as the Australian Zoo so that was our first destination straight from the airport to kick off our Australia holiday.

The Australia Zoo is of course most famous not for its animal but for its founder – the late Steve Irwin, the famed Crocodile Hunter. The Australia Zoo is on the outskirt of Brisbane, about 1.5 hours drive away and as a testimony to the fame of Steve Irwin, the road leading to the Zoo has been named after him!

First thing we saw when we went in was this lizard lying in the open. And then we saw more and more of them. These are native Water Dragons and free roaming in the zoo.  Cute little fella ain’t it.

Of course our purpose in coming to the zoo or any foreign zoo is to see any animals that we might not be able to see in the wild or anywhere else and not some common reptiles. So we were looking forward to seeing some native Australian animals like the Playtus; Tasmanian Devil and of course Australia’s famous venomous snakes. But sadly the zoo has no Playtpus and we didn’t see any Tasmanian Devil in its enclosures. We did see the Dingo though.

There were plenty of Koalas and we can even touch them at one of the exhibits.

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Never Stop Exploring – Bulim Forest

The Bulim/Tengah forest will soon be gone – converted into another block and block of flats and condominium. So before it is gone forever, I went down with some friends to have one last look and also first look at the place.

First thing that strike me when I entered the place was its sheer size. From the main road, it looks just like any small patch of forest but once in, we were like Oh Wow! Just take a look at these photos:

As I understand, these place used to be a kampung before the villagers were resettled in the Chua Chu Kang and Bukit Batok areas and the SAF took over the place for the army training. Hence, the nice wide paths that criss cross the entire area.

There is supposed to be a small stream but we didn’t manage to locate it. Instead what we saw was this little longkang which I understood was a lifeline for the people there during the second world war.

This stream and all the mini waterways there eventually leads to this new longkang.

While we were there, we observed many birds including a large flock of Long tailed Parakeets and many other smaller forest birds. We also spotted Brahminy Kite and White Bellied Sea Eagle flying overhead.

A rather beautiful place to admire Mother Nature and admire its beauty. Sadly scene like these will disappear soon as the crazy Gahmen continues on its relentless quest to concrete the whole of Singapore.

Cheap and Good – Sumo Prawn Noodle

Have heard much about this place at Ang Mo Kio and its prawn noodle that comes with lobster. Finally managed to find time to go there and try it out. There was a short queue when we arrived around 8 pm. Fortunately, the service was fast and the queue moved swiftly.

The four of us ordered 2 bowl of prawn noodles that come with 4 big prawns and 2 bowl of noodles that come with 2 crayfish.

This is the $8.00 prawn noodle. Beside the prawn, there is also clams.

This is the crayfish noodle which also comes with clams and cost $13.00 each.

We didn’t order the Lobster noodle as we felt it doesn’t the cost of dinner at such a place. It is however rather reasonably priced at either $18.90 for Asian Lobster or $24.90 for Columbia Lobster depending on the stock availability.

Regardless of prawn, crayfish or lobster, the stock is the same. Not overwhelmingly sweet but just nice that it will not cause one to get jeilat after drinking it all down. While the prices may seem pricey compared to other prawn noodles out there, considering the quality of the ingredients, I will think that it is cheap and good!