Well, here we are in nether regions of the alphabet, which was always going to be the toughest section of this journey. But by taking a few liberties with semantics and, well, truth, I have successfully completed my mission and can get on with my life…
In unrelated news, my birthday gathering has been postponed a week, giving us some extra time to tame and prettify the backyard jungle. Yesterday was a phenomenally beautiful Saturday, appropriately enough for the longest one of the year and the beginning of Summer. The day began with the haunting call of a mourning dove that signals each new dawn lately, and ended the same way as Kate and I sat by the fire pit (we built a good one overlooking our squash-and-corn patch) toasting marshmallows and drinking brown ale: the (presumably same) dove had settled into the enormous old oak in the back corner of our yard, and kept up its mournful refrain until it finally got dark and the fire had withdrawn to a few glowing embers.
An all-round great day. Starting with our favourite Dark Roast at Panera, we got yet more plants at Home Depot, transplanted two sun-struck rhododendrons into our shaded mini-woodland, added an azalea, planted a spirea between a pair of apples, and moved a bunch of irises from a patch of scrappy lawn that has also revealed, in succession, poppies, daylillies and pink-flowering yarrow, all of which fell to the mower blades in previous summers — all now successfully relocated.
I’m actually feeling pretty good about my half-century tomorrow, and Kate’s promised pre-birthday waffles this morning too.
Have a great Summer (Winter Down Under)!
Q is for…
Well…kinda. That is, it moves so damned…
..quickly. Winds obliterate my tracks atop the Big Sandhills in seconds.
R is for…
Morning surf on the eastern shore. Time to pause for a moment’s reflection.
North Point headland.
A gorgeous stretch of coast on my final morning.
A beautiful mangrove tunnel on an otherwise awful stretch of the sand “road” between the Sandhills and Kooringal. This is the least enjoyable section of the entire walk for me, the sand so deep and soft for a few miles that it’s impossible to gain firm traction and you’re constantly switching between the sides and middle of the tyre ruts for a hint of solid ground.
Middle Road, which links both coasts. The term “road” is used loosely.
~ Rope Swing
A peaceful spot at Kooringal. Time for a quick shot before continuing my race south for a campsite before dark.
Last morning on the western beach.
Two steamers, the Normanby and the Fairlight, were beached here not far north of the Sandhills, in the 30s, and sentenced to decades of degradation by salt.
An oyster-encrusted boiler — I’ve twice used its shade for a lunch break.
Just out from the Sandhills are a few rusted remnants of…what? Presumably dating form the WWII occupation, I was told by a sailor on an earlier trip that they once bore telegraph wires — but why so far from the shore?
S is for…
The Big Sandhills are clearly visible across the Bay from Brisbane. Truly remarkable landmarks — note the 4-wheel drive tourist bus for some scale.
View from the constantly evolving Big Sandhills.
The route south past the Little Sandhills.
A sample of vacated local housing.
~ Soldier Crab
Armies of these intriguing beasts march — well, it’s more a stampede when they’re in a mass panic — by the millions at low tide on the lower western coast.
Trying to photograph these critters is a nerve-wracking experience. They scatter and run like Iraqi soldiers as a giant humanoid stomps closer, and dig furiously as a last resort, completely concealing themselves in seconds.
The sound of scurrying mayhem is not quickly forgotten.
Indigenous sand stabilisers that cloak the dunes on both coasts.
Dewy spinifex at dawn at my final campsite…
..and intertwined here with a railroad vine on the same morning.
An assortment of beached stars from the seagrass beds on the sheltered Brisbane-facing coast.
These shots are all from the final night. Yet another spectacular sunset as the orb went down over the mainland.
..and a spinifex one.
T is for…
They’re ugly, impractical, treacherous in mud, bad for your posture, and we stole them from the South Americans. Don’t wear them. You’re only embarrassing yourself. (Tangalooma Resort)
I suspect, this being a national park, that this smiling fellow really shouldn’t be here.
Two tyre tracks diverged on a beach…
My footprints on another glorious east coast dawn.
Twilight softens a tyre-rutted section of sand.
A mangrove treehouse at Kooringal exactly like the ones my siblings and I enjoyed as kids.
U is for…
Disoriented just south of Kooringal, I found myself in a small car dump…
..one of the few eyesores on the island.
Sea urchin fragment on an earlier trip.
V is for…
Forest creepers near Kooringal.
Railroad vine at an inner-coastal campsite.
Lush leaves of an unknown climber at another campsite.
A few years back on the Big Sandhills. I’m looking west towards Brisbane. Further south you can see the Little Sandhills and North Stradbroke Island.
Pigface on Cape Moreton.
Worth the climb up the Big Sandhills. Great views of the Brisbane mainland. As kids, we’d look down on the family boat moored where those people are walking.
W is for…
~ Water Source
Presumably dating from the WWII-era, this pump near the Sandhills still works. I’ve had yellow water and I’ve had (this trip) nice clean stuff.
A few little creeks on the outer coast deliver fresh water.
This was a great spot for a lunch break.
15 vessels were intentionally sunk here (“The Wrecks”) in 1963 to provide a sheltered anchorage. The main ferry from the mainland comes ashore here.
The 1930s wrecks near the Sandhills…
..reached after a few hours’ walking from the ferry landing.
The Rous Battery command post on the outer coast, dating from 1943, where I dried out and napped after a rough first night. There are two 155mm gun emplacements and numerous small bunker-like outbuildings nearby.
RAN3 control tower at Cowan Cowan, on the Brisbane-facing coast, part of the Royal Australian Navy minefield operation guarding the approach to Brisbane.
Remains of an observation hut that once stood here on dry land, Cowan.
X is for…
Otherwise known as grass trees, these slow-growers thrive in the inner island. This was my campsite on an earlier trip.
Y is for…
On my final morning.
~ Yellow Patch
A characteristically coloured stretch of sand on the north-western coast, visible from the mainland.
Spinifex & yellow sand.
Z is for…
~ Zebra-Free Zone
After decades of havoc wreaked by the island’s illegal zebra population, these unwelcome pests were rounded up by teams of patriotic quad-bikers and transported via a jet-ski flotilla to a secure detention facility in far-off Nauru. Resettlement in the lush New Guinea Highlands followed. I am happy to report that on my four expeditions to the island, not a single zebra was encountered and our cherished and un-striped Australian values remain secure.
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote