There was land right outside our window this morning as we opened our curtains.
In no time at all we were making one of those remarkable turns on a sixpence in the middle of the Brisbane river and thought it was time we went and gathered our things, because we were off early on a 4WD jaunt today.
The weather didn’t look too promising and in fact, as we left the ship,we felt the first drops of rain.
We were headed for Mount Tamborine and the Hinterland, an area of densely forested hills and a variety of experiences during the day which we very much looked forward to.
Our driver Darren had a lovely turn of phrase, was a true professional who knew his customers and who took every opportunity to inform and entertain. No sooner had we taken the turning for the mountain than we were stopping to view first this Kookaburra sitting on a wire, but then gum trees, nut bushes and anything else he felt we should take a closer look at.
His ability to spot things was marvellous –”look to your right” said he, there’s a small wallaby there in the grass.
Well, yes, there is! Of course, we’d all been on the lookout for kangaroos and koalas and hadn’t seen a thing, but he seemed to have the eye for such creatures and time and again, we were happy to have them pointed out to us.
The ride up the mountain was bumpy and on an unfinished road, so rather fun. But we never feared for our safety and loved Darren’s banter with his father, who was driving the vehicle behind ours.
When we reached the top of the mountain it was time for morning tea – with home baked scones still warm from the oven and oodles of jam and cream. Yum!
A short way further and it was time to leave the vehicle and take Shank’s Pony through the trees on a pathway to the waterfall. By this time it was pouring with rain and though Darren had said that we’d be sheltered from most of the rain by the canopy of trees, in fact he was wrong – it was raining just as heavily in the forest as it had been in the car park.
We didn’t mind, really. Most of us had come prepared with raincoats and kagoules, umbrellas and suchlike and we didn’t mind getting wet. Darren stopped from time to time to point out things of interest and we were a fairly jolly crowd throughout, although by the time we reached the falls we were absolutely soaked through.
He shared his knowledge readily – here pointing out a spider’s lair under what looked like a small tree stump. As he lifted the top, he asked the young woman by my side if she’d like to see the spider. For sure, yes, she would – though when he then asked for her finger, she soon changed her mind!
I could upload endless pictures of our bushwalk through the forest, of the waterfalls and the beautiful trees and ferns which lined our pathway. But there’s just one picture which will stay in my memory
Yes, they did come clean later, as did my shoes, but oh my goodness, it didn’t make for comfortable (or elegant) walking!
A short stop in Canungra offered some touristy shopping opportunities and having taken a brief look inside just one, we chose to take Darren’s recommendation and head for the Heritage Vineyard shop, where Michael was doing a spot of wine tasting.
Much more fun, especially when we reached the “Moonshine” stage!
From there it was on to lunch in the and a little more kangaroo spotting on the way.
These chaps were happy to stand watching and before long we were getting quite blase about “another kangaroo”.
Lunch was a fine Aussie barbecue, washed down with wine or beer and followed by a couple of opportunities.
Who wants to learn to crack a whip?
Throw a boomerang?
Several did, and most did very well indeed!
But more popular still was the next stop, “real” wine tasting at the O’Reilly vineyard down the road, which had suffered considerably in the floods a couple of years ago. A beautiful Queenslander homestead set in a lovely valley, it was hard to imagine the place under water.
Having tasted and savoured, Darren headed for home…with one last stop up his sleeve. Just down the road, he knew of one further place which would interest us; a place where we could see something we were unlikely to see anywhere else.
A colony of 15 – 20,000 fruit bats hanging in the trees! Amazing and rather horrible all at the same time (and rather smelly as well!)
Leaving them there, we headed back to the ship.
In the rain.