|The Glasshouse Mountains|
Island Bridge - the only non-water access to the island - a pelican sat on top of every one of the tall light poles which illuminate the roadway and make the bridge stand out as a landmark. Squatting there in the early morning sun, each seemed content with his perch, like aquatic gargoyles.
It was an easy run up into the hinterland and the scenic lookout in the Glasshouse Mountains. Low cloud rolled across the scene from the south, allowing shy peaks to hide from view for anything from moments to half hours. Captain Cook named these eleven peaks in 1770, as he sailed up the east coast of Australia, reminded of the glass furnaces of his beloved Yorkshire, so far away. Matthew Flinders explored the area, climbing Mt Beerburrum on his 1799 visit. They are the remnant plugs of volcanoes which were active across eastern Australia 26 million years ago.
The Gubbi Gubbi people believe the mountains are all members of the one family. The father, Mt Tibrogargan asked his son Mt Coonowrin to help get his pregnant mother to safety when he saw the sea rising. Coonowrin refused and Tibrogargan hit him with his nulla nulla. Once the danger passed, Coonowrin felt ashamed of his actions and asked for forgiveness from his family. This is why the many streams run from the mountians, as Coonowrin weeps.
Like the Warrumbungles in north western NSW, these dramatic geological features seemed to rise up from the plains around them, towering over the pineapple farms which are so prevalent.
On the way down from the lookout, we stopped at the Lookout Cafe for a second hobbit breakfast and with the sharp spire of Coonowrin rising in view. A shower passed through, masking Coonowrin in a grey curtain but it lurked there, waiting for the sun. In one corner of the verandah, an old Kookaburra oven, still in working condition, reminded me of my Mum's kitchen when I was a lad.
Heading north, we passed Irwin's Palace, otherwise known as Australia Zoo ... we had been driving along Steve Irwin Way since we left the Bruce Highway. Signs every ten kilometres breakdown the distance left to go, perhaps as a homage to the kids in the car who can't wait to get there. We didn't go in.
At Landsborough, we turned west towards Maleny and climbed up onto the Blackall Range, a long steep climb. Just as we reached Maleny, we turned north again for Montville. Originally a timber getting service centre and then dairy, citrus, avocados, pineapples and macadamia nut farming community, tourism has dominated since the 1970's. People come up from the Sunshine Coast in their droves to enjoy the wonderful scenery and the myriad of galleries, craft shops and the constant markets. As usual, there were no parking spots for cars with trailers, so we drove through the main street, turned around and drove back. It all looked very nice and was chock-a-block with tourists.
Almost on the outer edge of the village, the GPS told us to veer left to take us to Nambour. It only took a few hundred metres to realise we were in for an interesting drive to Palmwoods. Measured at 10kms in length, the road falls of the Blackall Range with a variation of 400m in height above sea level in the first few kms between the two towns. Its narrow and very, very steep. As a result, the Forester was switched to X-Mode, a controlling low gear setting which takes the car along at a walking pace. It was slow but it was immensely safe and with the van on the back, it ensured we arrived safe and sound.
After our steep descent, our path took us right past the Big Pineapple. Opened in 1971, it is not only a heritage listed member of the "big things" tourist attractions around Australia but one of the earliest. Of the well known "biggies", perhaps only the Big Banana at Coffs Harbour (1964) has been around longer. The business that grew around it has long since gone bankrupt, to these days it is kept open by the markets which are held there. Those who follow "Travels With Pete & Sue" will know that big things feature often in our road miles, so fortune favoured us in snapping one of the classics.
From the big, rough end of the pineapple, we drove on to Cooroy and had lunch with a lady who I attended high school with and haven't seen since 1974. Facebook does some wonderful things and one of them is putting people in touch with one an other and providing support for folks who need it, despite distances between them. Sue Jameson and I communicate regularly through Facebook and she has been a solid supporter of my poetry, buying all three collections. We had a relaxed lunch with her and met members of her family at their home. They must have the biggest living area, with the highest ceiling, of any house I have every been in! It was great to touch base.
Apart from a stop for fuel and toilets, the rest of the afternoon was spent driving on to Hervey Bay, which will be our base for the next three days.
I watched and photographed the lunar eclipse to round out my day.