Australia Diaries – Never Stop Exploring – Blue Mountains From Echo Point to Scenic World

Our first full day at the Blue Mountains and we decided to hike from Echo Point where we were staying to Scenic World.

We had ran part of the distance the previous evening, up to Katoomba Cascade and this time we continued onward to Scenic World using the Prince Henry Coastal Walk. There are many lookouts along the way and we stopped often to look out into the Jamison Valley and of course to look for birds.

There were also some steep stair climbing at the aptly named Furber Steps and the Giant Staircase.

We also got to walk practically on the cliff edge for quite a fair bit of the way

It wasn’t as far as we expected though. At Scenic World, we didn’t ride the cable car or the railway but walked around the trails looking at the display of the old coal mines and taking more photos before we made our way back to Echo Point.

The highlight of this trek I guess was the Katoomba Falls and the Katoomba Cascade. 

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Australia Diaries – North Stradbroke Island

Undoubtedly the highlight of the Brisbane leg of our Australia holiday and probably the best place to visit in Brisbane. North Stradbroke Island is a small little island off Brisbane which is accessible via ferry. We started our journey there by driving to the jetty where we elected to park our car there and take the passenger ferry over rather than drive over. Much cheaper and there is bus service on the island which covers the main highlight areas of the island.

We took the bus to Point Lookout, the main village. There is 2 other areas that are apparently must go but I slipped up in the homework and overlooked that and spent the whole day at Point Lookout. 

We started the day with a wonderful delicious brunch at the Blue Room. For those who wants local fresh bake, this is the go to place. Great food and coffee.

After that we took a stroll along the beach which stretch on and on one bay after another.

Naturally we had to explore some of the trails

And we were lucky to spot some birds like this Butcher Bird.

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Australia Diaries – Never Stop Exploring – Mt Ngungun/Strawberry Farm

Another day another hike. Not contended with Lamington National Park and on the suggestion of a friend staying in Brisbane, we went to the Glass House Mountain to climb Mt Ngungun. Mt Ngungun at just 253 m is one of the many weird looking mountain there.

The hike up to the summit is via a very well maintained track with some steps carved in. Good for trail running! It is an easy hike up among thick lush vegetation until the very top where it opened up to a small bald patch of uneven rock fall.

And this comes with stunning 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

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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.

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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.

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Reptopia @ Singapore Zoo

The Singapore Zoo replaced the old Reptile House with a brand new “Reptopia” which opens in late May this year. The old Reptile House which was looking very dated with all the snakes in small glass tank enclosure. The new Reptopia is firstly air conditioned and very much more comfortable for visitors.  The old walk through exhibit which used to have the iguana and tortoises is now divided into 2 smaller areas with one of them featuring the Caiman crocodile and the other the same iguana and the tortoises.

The snakes and other reptiles are now housed in much bigger enclosures with different compatible species kept in same enclosures.Here are some of the snakes that are displayed in the new Reptopia. 

Ball Python

Green Tree Python

Reticulated Python

King Cobra

Keeled Rat Snake

Gabon Viper

Emerald Tree Boa

Western Diamond Backed Rattlesnake

Mangrove Snake

Sadly though, the number of snakes specimen has been reduced drastically. The Singapore snakes area is no more and the popular anaconda has been moved to the River Safari.

There are now a lot more lizards some of which I understand from some sources are confiscated lizards from the public. In addition, there are weird looking lizards like gila monster, beard dragon and skink.

Caiman Lizard

Fuji Banded Iguana

Gila Monstor

Bearded Dragon

Ornate Spiny Tailed Lizard

There are now several species of chameleon. I didn’t know there are so many species and so colorful too.

Parson’s Chameleon

Panther Chameleon

Yemen Chameleon

Last but not least there are a few rare frogs and even a tarantula.

Dyeing Poison Frog

 

All in, despite the reduced number of snakes, I think this new Reptopia is certainly worth a visit especially for those who are into reptiles.