Australia, Community

A Natural Wonder (Two Days in Tin Can Bay)

Continuing the travel journal:

Whilst we were hand feeding the dolphins at the Barnacles Boat Ramp, one of the staff suggested we go out to Rainbow Beach and visit the Carlo Sandblow, a natural wonder.

Family 2013 184

What is that, we wondered? The mind boggled, but as Rainbow Beach has a bit of a reputation for being a very “cool” place to go, we had to investigate. It is really quite embarrassing to say that I have lived in Queensland most of my life, yet never have I set my foot on the sands of Rainbow beach…. ooops. Now wait a minute, I tell a lie…. If you count the Teewah Coloured Sands as being almost as cool as Rainbow, being located a few hundred metres from the official Rainbow beach site, then yes I have been there. If you don’t, well I am pretty uncool, until now….

Rainbow beach is approximately 20 minutes from Tin Can Bay on the outer coast of the peninsula that provides the protective wing for the calm waters of Tin Can Bay. Mecca for the surfies, ferals, saronged, thonged chicks, and the Hilux driving 4 WD enthusiasts. Rainbow beach is the gateway to Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world and World Heritage Area. (See more info on Fraser below*)

Family 2013 231

But I am getting a little ahead of  myself.

My very uncool family car with decorative roofracks is not 4WD and could not cope no more with beach driving than a lizard could cope with flying, so Rainbow was as close as we got to Fraser today, and thank god for that. Being Easter, the hordes and I do  mean that literally, of 4WD maniacs were everywhere. There was a line up of twenty cars waiting to fill up with fuel and supplies, at the last garage before the ferry departure point to  Fraser, and it was a hub of activity. Fishing rods, bait, fuel was flying out the door. The gas station owner must have become a millionaire that day. What did I purchase? Nothing but directions to the Carlo Sandblow.

But before we did that, we drove through the township, and being Good Friday, shops and facilities are always closed. Conversely, or perversely, some might say, in Rainbow beach, everything was open. People right left and centre. On the beach itself, there is a surf lifesavers club and public toilet facilities. Apparently you can walk along the beach to see the Teerwah Coloured Sands, but the mercury had reached ” foot blisteringly hot”, so that was out of the question.

Instead we followed the directions and the signposts to the Carlo Sandblow, passing by luxurious apartments with million dollar views of the beach and water.After a few minutes of encircling a hill, we reached the Cooloola Water tower and adjacent parking lot. No sand within sight, but people were getting out of cars and making their way along a track in some dry heathland/sclerophyll forest, so we followed: what sheep we are!

After 5- 10 minutes of walking, we were getting quite cynical about this natural “wonder”,  but trekked on, despite the complaints of Miss 13 who could think of better ways to spend an afternoon, preferably one that involves technological options!!! I was, however, enjoying the forest stroll, and stopped to take a few photos. Suddenly Miss 13, who had run on ahead out of sheer boredom, let out a cry of excitement. Mum, you have to see this… it is awesome.

And without warning, hidden behind the foliage, was the Mini “Sahara desert” we had been searching for….

Tin Can BayCarlo1

The Carlo Sand blow covers 15 hectares and was named by Captain Cook, after one of his deck hands, Carlo, in 1770,  so was definitely present 250 years ago. Carlo would certainly have been able to spot this feature from the poop deck!

Kids (big and small) absolutely love to run or toboggan down the sandhills, and it can be a great fitness activity, if you are into soft impact exercise. One certainly shed a few kilos of fat and fluid walking the length of what looks like an alien moonscape in the middle of sub tropical beach/woodland.

The Sandblow was enormous, looked like it was spreading and swallowing trees with each passing year, and it was hot. In fact, we soon realised it was what we could see all the way across the inlet at Tin Can Bay. The heat of the sand was a bit of a problem, you could not stand still with bare feet. We simply had to remove our shoes, or else they would have become completely filled with sand. Even on an Autumn day, the heat reflected off the sand was fierce. Hubby was impressed, and it takes quite a bit to impress him. ( he is so not a sightseeing tourist).Tincanbay2

The 360 degree views are spectacular, to the East has magnificent views of the ocean where one can often see the migrating whales from August to October. You can also see Double Island point and the orange colour of the Teewah coloured sands, which we were allowed to collect, as children, to the south.  Tin Can bay lies to the West.   When the thermals are right, you will often see Hang Gliders taking off and landing at this beautiful piece of Nature’s sculpture.Family 2013 243

This was really something to see, such a weird thing, and Miss 13 loved it…Next time we visit, I think we will try to approach it from the beach side, although:

A website also offers this warning to tourists:
Keep well clear of cliffs and edges. They are unstable and may collapse without warning, resulting in serious injury. Do not attempt to access the beach from the sandblow. Supervise children at all times.

The beach can be a treacherous place at the best of times, yet people take risks, as you see in the clips below….Unnecessary risks is something I hope I will only have to ponder about.

See Related Posts  about Day 1 and 2 Tin Can Bay Holiday here:

More pictures of the Carlo Sand Blow here:

* (Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world. It was inscribed on the World Heritage List in recognition of its outstanding natural universal values. It features complex dune systems that are still evolving, and an array of rare and unique features in this sand environment, including dune lakes and tall rainforests. Fraser Island was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1992.Fraser Island was one of 15 World Heritage places included in the National Heritage List on 21 May 2007.)

Australia, Food

Travel Diary – Two days in Tin Can Bay, Australia

Tin Can Bay – Few people know of it, and for some that is just the way they like it. Less than 2000 call this sleepy fishing village, located in a deep, but narrow. sheltered inlet, home. The origin of the name is a derivative of the Aboriginal work Tuncanbar, which meant the dugongs frequently found here in years past.  But there is one thing that makes this place very special, and that is why we have come to visit.

A leisurely 2 hour 15 minute drive will bring you to the township, which you could easily cover on foot or by bike. This is worth noting because you will want to travel to the tip of the township: Norman Point and the public boat ramp at Snapper Creek. For it is here, you can befriend and experience wild dolphins at close quarters.  To meet the dolphins, you will want to be up early and at “Barnacles” ( adjacent to the public boat ramp) by 7am. Dolphin feeding takes place at 8am every morning, but the more intimate experience of swiming and playing with the dolphins starts from 7am. We did not want to be late, so we opted to stay over the night before at the luxurious Marine Villas, Emperor Parade, Tin Can Bay. The views over the moored boats and yachts, from the Villa’s verandah, really activated my relaxation gene!  1 and 2 bedroom villas are available to rent, air conditioned, free wi fi, gated community, not that you need it here, and a restuarant and pool on site.



As much as I wanted to just sit on the verandah, glass of grenache in hand, and contemplate my navel or the fab view in the distance, my family wanted to explore the other pursuit the town is famous for…. fishing.

Armed with an inexpensive tackle box, and bait (which you can hire or buy locally), we took to the beach at Norman Point. Low tide was now in full swing, so the fish weren’t biting. Only the soldier crabs were keen to put on a show.  A delightful afternoon nevertheless. Great beach for kids to play safely without fear of getting dumped by a rogue wave.

Norman point at low tide
Norman point at low tide

Serene, peaceful, cool and calming would be the words that came to my mind.  If you want surf, waves, noise, commercialism, you can find that to, but you have to go to nearby Rainbow Beach for that. As the sun was setting, we drove the long, arduous, 2 minute car journey to the other end of town, our dinner destination: the TCB Country club, where you can play bowls, golf or indulge in darts, I believe!

Bistro Hot Tip: Try the “hot rock” dinner, in either Chicken, lamb or Pork option. Served on a sizzling platter, the par cooked meat will complete cooking at your table, and there will be no potential for a cold meal. I had the lamb (reasonably priced) and one piece was enough for me. It was at least 2 inches thick!

Hot Rock Dinner

Country Club Bistro
Kids meals come with a free drink at the Country Club Bistro

The Club closes up early, but that suited us perfectly as we were planning to be at the Boat ramp to meet the Dolphins at 7am…. best hit the sack…

Dejligt …. what a way to finish off the day. I did get my glass of grenache, after all.

To be continued….



Australia, History & Traditions

Day Trips Touring Australia – Gympie

It is Easter and we are on our way to Tin Can Bay, a sleepy seaside village, for a few days R & R over the break.

Even though it is a journey not requiring us to stretch our legs or do a toilet stop, (only 2.5 hours, by car), I was keen to see Gympie, an old gold mining town of the past. The town of less than 20,000 has coped with not one, but two devastating floods in the past month, (see flood marks over head high, on the Toyworld sign in the below pictures). So, I was keen to inject some money in to the local economy by supporting the local businessholders, and do a bit of sightseeing in the process. A town dating from mid 1800’s would surely offer some historic buildings and churches, if nothing else. Note the beautiful rose window through the doorway of the Catholic church below.

Gympie 2013

Depending on your interest there are a few other points of interest in Gympie.Family 2013 031

* The main things that brings tourists to Gympie, is the Mary Valley Rattler, a Heritage steam locomotive that runs through the scenic Mary Valley beginning at the old Railway station in Tozer Street. Locals put on quite a historic show, as well as tourist markets at the various stops en route. This was not on offer for us today.

* Visit the Mining Heritage and/or Timber Museum,  located at opposite ends of the town. Time did not allow for us to do that today.  Look for the  large statue, honouring the gold miners contribution,which is found,  in the park to the right, as you enter the southern outskirts of  town, and heralds the nearby Mining and Heritage museum.

* A stroll down the town’s main shopping precinct, Veteran memorial and a light lunch at a local café. We choose this option, as time was against us. Mary Street has various shops of interest. Batik boutique has low-priced beachy style sarongs, tie-dyed kaftans, the hairdresser was offering Eyebrow waxing for $5, with no appointment necessary, and Meen Bags in the Condies arcade was a feast for the craft ladies. Meen Bags was twice inundated with flood waters from the Mary River, the first time the water went up to the roof, and the second time two-thirds of the way there. Amazingly, they still keep this wonderful cottage industry going. How could I not buy something? Green bags in all colours, perfect for groceries, hand-made at $9, backpacks for $15.00, cosmetic bags, and hand knitted cosy socks comprises some of their delightfully cute stock. Winter Owl would surely have loved the purple and blue shopping bag, adorned with owl motifs in the below photo – (bottom right). So cute! I purchased a drawstring shoulder bag, with ladybugs and bees for $15.00.


Next door to “Meen” Bags, (check them out on Facebook), is Gympie Mosaics, where you can get hands on and create your own masterpiece.

And where to, for lunch:

Jules Inn: where you can step back in time, to the milk bars of the 60’s. Frequented largely by the retired sector, a sure indication of quality food at rock bottom prices.

Coffee shop:  Italian style coffee shop serving burgers, wraps, smoothies, thickshakes, and pies, toasted sandwiches etc at reasonable prices. Service and food is good, hearty and filling. Toasted cheese sandwich ( around $ 6.00) came complete with patriotic flag in situ.

Or Subway, or  other junk food establishments on the main highway.

In fact, everyone was very friendly and accommodating in Gympie. The local lads even arranged for some light entertainment whilst we ate our lunch, with some teenage shenanigans on one of their mates, who hobbled along, cursing, as his mates had wrapped his arms up in bubble wrap. All in good humour, no doubt.

After lunch, we checked out the Anzac and other Armed Conflict’s Veteran memorial in the main street. It is well worth a look, and has some sobering statistics, on the human cost of War, which we should all definitely ponder about.



Part 3 EuroScandi Odyssey – Landing in Frankfurt

Day 3

Although it was Friday and we spent most of it flying over Asia and the Middle East, we were to move backwards in time and experience Friday a second time. It was shortly after 6 am Friday when we landed, so the start of Friday again!

Our Lufthansa flight was on the then new and so enormous A-380, which has two floors of seating. With the Lufthansa CEO and his entourage taking up most of the senator class on the Upper deck, (spotted later on German TV, otherwise would not have had the foggiest who he was),  it then took us almost a full hour to board this mammoth, flying monster that had just come into service; so recently in fact, that it still smelt new. I must comment that the cabin was very well insulated, which did cut down on that awful vibrative noise one gets during long haul flights.

The Crew were not very friendly, but not unfriendly either. Just a presence, could not really say  a verbal one, more a physical one. As for the passengers, the man next to me was either Russian or East European and he was the best flight neighbour I have had yet. He just curled up and went to sleep, and I did  not hear ‘boo’ out of him all night. The other side of the plane consisted of a large group of square-headed, severely blonde gentlemen with no. 1 crew cuts, shouting in what sounded like an angry Deutche. But then German sounds like an angry language, sometimes.

Frankfurt airport itself, is huge and extremely difficult to get one’s bearings in unless, of course,  you go directly out to an exit. On passing through Passport control, we were asked about our itinerary as happens when you are a foreigner. I must say that the customs/police were very kind and friendly, as was our taxi driver, (who was hell bent on breaking the sound barrier, getting us to our hotel in Offenbach, a satellite town of Frankfurt. He was from Pakistan, ( aren’t most taxi drivers?) and he told us how he had a near fatal car accident when he first started driving… eeek! Something he tells his customers to reassure them, no doubt……

To our delight, our room at Sheraton Offenbach was made available for us straight away, at 7.15 am, which was either by good fortune, or because we were part of a large tour group that was commencing the next day. So, after settling in, we toddled out to find what Offenbach had on offer….excuse the bad pun/Dad joke.

What we found was a small  Christmas market, focused on food, in the “main” (again excuses for the pun/Dad joke), a wonderful Cafe at the Rathaus, where hot chocolate would be served to you for a  meagre $1.20 Euro, but who am I to complain? (Especially when I am used to paying $6.00AUD).Also,  a medium sized indoor shopping centre with some wonderful clothes shops, just a short stroll from our hotel. Heidi and I spent most of the day there buying jumpers and t-shirts, also some jewellery that was a bit more stylish than the mainstream shops back home. We loved it and found many a bargain and some nice new winter gear. When I visited Germany in 2004, everthing was so  expensive, now…. things were very inexpensive. Was the AUD performing that well against the Euro?

It was rather cold and we started to feel it, but nothing daunted, we did spot a squirrel in the nearby Palais park, and it was far too tempting to not chase this little fellow into the park. Whilst the Autumn leaves periodically dropped around us, we attempted to get a good photo of the illusive creature (which turned out to be a blurry shot anyway). The Palais building, pictured below,  is now a conference centre for the hotel, but looked like something that the Von Trappe family might have once owned.  The outside temperature was about + 5 degrees, but felt a little colder, presumably after our Singapore sojourn, and we had not yet acclimatised to the cold.

Busing Palais Offenbach
Busing Palais Offenbach

Europe 2011second batch 063Europe 2011second batch 075Something else we had yet to learn about Offenbach was where to find good local eateries and we were somewhat put off by the name of some of the food at the supremarket and  Christmas markets such as  “Super Dickman.”  (The mind boggles but there we have it…) Opting for something safer, we purchased some simple bread rolls from the Supermarket, (it’s always good to check out the local’s food ) and found some delicious pastries as well, which were more than satisfying. The German bakery treats were to become so familiar to us and indeed part of our permanent body shape for the next 3 weeks and hopefully not part of our body shape for three years. They are sooo good!!!Come nighttime, we dined at the hotel restaurant and the prices, once again, I have to say were moderate, compared to Australia. I had a delicious prawn pasta dish, seen below, in its triumphal glory and Heidi had a bolognaise that would have easily fed 6 people!!!
Travellers tip: If you are used to having still water with your meals, then beware, in Germany you have to specially request still water and pay for it, or they will provide mineral water in a bottle for you, again at a price.If you just ask for ‘water’, they will give you the version with bubbles, or ‘gas’, as they say. In other words, sparkling mineral water. You have to ask for ‘still vand’, or ‘still water’. Perhaps because it is much colder in Germany than at home, noone seems to drink still tap water here.  You can see our requested ‘water’ in the background of this picture, where we learnt this lesson very quickly. Water was something we pondered about on our first night in Germany.

Searching for the illusive Squirrel

The Finest Fleece, Mt Cook’s Traffic Jam

Sheep blockade… Glenntaner Aoraki road “OPEN” ?????

This part of the south island of New Zealand is dotted with lakes. Snow and Glacial fed lakes, some of which contribute to the hydro and irrigation schemes for the east coast.

Lake Pukaki is part of this network of canals and lakes, and is one of the prettiest in the area around Mt Cook, which has its Moari name of Aoraki.

A hour long drive off the main highway to Queenstown will head you in the direction of the South Island’s highest peak.

Lake Pukaki with a view to Mt Cook.

As we closed in on Mt Cook, so did the weather, unfortunately, so the summit was hidden from view. But there was plenty of snowy vistas to keep me happy. Hard to see in the photograph but I noted the braided nature of the river that drains into Lake Pukaki.

Guess what:  Woolly, off white four-hoofed friends were to launch a blockade at the bridge impeding our access to the Cloud Mountain… well it is New Zealand after all!!!

You see, Merino sheep were completely blocking a bridge as we approached so the farmers got their sheep dogs, and Huntingdons to ride the ‘sheeps back’ to the delight of the Japanese tourists and herd them slowly over the bridge… but as they were going in the same direction as us our bus driver Andrew, had to “split” the mob. That is drive very slowly through the mob of sheep without hitting any of the silly animals which stubbornly refused to move out of the way. These sheep were so valuable he could not afford to give any of them the slightest bump.

Mt Cook sheep station is an expansive property presided over by a 91 year old bachelor ( who recently passed away without an heir and is now held in trust)… The wool from the merino sheep from this and surrounding properties is purported to be the best in the world. It is so fine, that one bale of wool fetched a million dollar record price in Italy.

Glentanner Station is 45,000 acres and carries 9,000 Merino sheep, 200 Hereford cattle and 230 Red deer.

Our bus in a Glenntanner ” traffic jam”

Merino fleece of 12.6 microns fetched the record price of $1800 per kilo clean. first offered in 2000, by Donald Burnett of Mount Cook Station

The winning bale had an average of only 10.9 micron (µ), eclipsing Australia’s finest bale by 0.5µ.

This must mean NZ has the finest natural fibres on the planet – finer than silk, vicuna or cashmere.

To collect the top global prize Anna travelled to Paris courtesy of Loro Piana for their award function at the headquarters of the Italian Embassy on May 20.

“It was an amazing experience,” she says. “As well as receiving the World Wool Record Challenge Cup for producing the world’s finest bale of Merino wool I was also presented with a sterling silver plate engraved with my name, farm details and wool fibre specifications for producing NZ’s finest bale.”

Emmerson also visited one of Loro Piana’s luxury clothing and accessories stores. They have 135 stores worldwide selling their exclusive range of luxury products.

She says Loro Piana has bought most of the finest bales from NZ and Australia since the 1980s – bales classified with the Australian top line 1PP (1 plus/plus for fineness and style). Fewer than 50 bales of more than three million sold annually achieve the 1PP certification.

As part of Loro Piana’s commitment to promote quality and support Merino breeders in their quest for excellence they introduced the World Wool Record Challenge Cup in 2000. The cup is awarded to the finest bale weighing at least 90kg net greasy weight.

Emmerson says it is the first time in a decade that a NZ Merino farmer has won the trophy. The late Donald Burnett, from Mt Cook Station, won the title in 2000 with a 13.1µ bale produced in 1999.

Emmerson’s winning wool was sold for a privately negotiated price…. She would not disclose the sale price but says the bale will be woven into Loro Piana’s world bale record fabric collection and will eventually be made into about 50 made-to-measure men’s suits with price tags of about €15,000 Euro (NZ $28,000) each.

Emmerson says the key to producing the finest bale in the world is having access to sheep with the right genetics. Forest Range sheep are naturally fine so they will always grow fine woo, but a good eye for stock is needed as well.

Merinos are creatures of habit and like to have a routine with a timetable planned to the last minute. Above all else they need to be happy and healthy to produce high-quality, ultra-fine wool.There is no room for error. The sheep require a constant diet to produce fibre 24 hours/day, 365 days a year.Their fleeces are so fine it takes only a minor setback to cause a loss in body condition which affects fibre growth and fleece quality.Emmerson farms 1000 Merinos on her Canterbury Plains farm.

Country-Wide believes the record price paid for a bale of 13.8µ wool was set 15 years ago. Ian and Kaye Appledore from Brim, Wimmera , Victoria, Australia sold a bale for AU$1.194 million ($10,300c/kg). Without knowing the price paid for the latest record bales, one has to assume the 1995 record price still stands.

From then on, it was only a matter of minutes before we were at Mt Cook… World Heritage area…