Coffee Waffle and Sunstroke – Wivenhoe Trails and Spillway Common

“Accept the abundance,” the Cormorant Bay Café waitress ordered with a bow after placing a complimentary freshly brewed coffee next to my meal. Abundance sums up my three explorations in summer of the Wivenhoe Dam area, 80km west of Brisbane. To be honest, I would have been satisfied with much less abundance of sunshine and sweat while attempting to walk the 16km of trails.

Wivanhoe Trails

tomato face at Wivenhoe Dam

But first let me begin with the end…  After  exploring the dam slipway and wandering along Cormorant Bay on my final visit,  my belly decided to investigate the café overlooking glittering Wivenhoe Dam. As soon as I entered, I realised I should have brought a little more cash in my backpack. The café doesn’t look like your local grease-splattered fish and chips shop.

Cormorant Bay Cafe Wivenhoe Dam

I was embarrassed by my glowing, red sweaty face, dripping hair and filthy hiking clothes in such genteel surroundings and contemplated leaving but an eager staff member seated me before I could escape.  I chose the cheap and safe option of chips and a much needed coffee to wake me up. When you’re gluten intolerant and you’ve neglected to bring much cash, your choices are limited.

Feeling like a cheap-skate for ordering something so simple, I mentioned my food intolerances and the waitress suggested the Thai fish cakes and salad instead.  I then had to explain that I hadn’t brought much cash with me because I’d been exploring and hadn’t planned to eat at the café so I’d stick with the chips and coffee option.  She was insistent though and said she’d pay for my coffee as someone had just given her a huge tip so the total cost to me would still be the same as chips and coffee. I protested but she was adamant and I didn’t want to offend her.  The meal was delicious, the views over the dam beautiful and the service excellent. I accepted the abundance.

I have a great fondness for coffee shops and cafes for many reasons and they remain a special treat. My upbringing made me conscious that for the price of a freshly brewed coffee, you could feed a small family so I take my own thermos whenever I can. Some of my best memories involve coffee shops. I tend to gravitate towards them when I’m feeling contemplative. They’re a perfect place to be alone in a corner while observing the world.

I had my first bought coffee at the age of 19 and it was then I first met Mary, an elderly rather conservative woman who thought my non-tea and coffee drinking highly uncivilised. Being a polite conformist, I accepted my first cappuccino from her. Many years later I had my last outing with Mary, and we shared our final cappuccinos. She was in the last stages of breast cancer after having unsuccessful surgery, chemo and radium treatment and was staying with me for a few days. The night before our brief coffee outing to choose birthday presents for her grand-daughter, Mary expressed anxiety about appearing in a small country town with a bald head.  Her bare scalp felt too sensitive to wear a wig or other head covering. We were seated around the dining table with my young family and her husband.

Now, sometimes I’ve been known to come out with very inappropriate or shocking comments. On this occasion I produced these reassuring words, “Don’t worry, they’ll probably just think we’re a hot lesbian couple.” The few seconds of silence seemed to last forever. I was mortified. Mary was a woman who grew up in very conservative times, a Christian lady with a posh grammar school voice who still used fancy starched cloth napkins at meal times, even for breakfast.  She never swore, using the words “wretched” or “blessed” instead to describe frustrating situations or objects.

However, Mary surprised me by finding my comment hilarious and couldn’t stop laughing for a few minutes. In fact, I don’t think I’d ever heard her laugh so much before. For some reason it had been exactly the right thing to say and I found out later that she delighted in telling a few friends.  Somehow Mary and I had a close relationship despite our vast differences in upbringing and interests. Coffee can connect people. She died a few weeks later and it’s her laugh that night that I like to remember most as well as our last cappuccinos together.  What has this got to do with hiking? Not much really. It’s a sheer indulgence – a fond memory which was triggered by my free coffee at the Cormorant Bay Café.

Back to my explorations now… My first walk in summer at Wivenhoe Hill was to be a reconnaissance trip of the 16km trails. Not being sure it was a safe area to walk alone, I threw out some bait to occasional walking partner and crazy cyclist, Lycra Man, by mentioning the trails are also used for mountain biking.

Mildly Extreme Jane and Lycra Man

On the subject of reconnaissance, I wonder how many parents have children who protest at their use of certain words. My daughter cringes at my use of reconnaissance, as she feels it is too military. Being a good mother, I continue to use the word because I enjoy her reaction.

Now if you’ve read about my walks with him before you’ll know Lycra Man and I never arrive on time. This was the case again. It would be touch and go whether we’d get even one trail checked out before sunset.

The first part of the Blue Trail is a wide bitumen road which doesn’t give any protection from the heat.

Blue Trail Wivenhoe

As usual I spent far too much time taking multiple photos of objects not really of much interest to anyone but myself.  The heat and Lycra Man’s comments about my over zealous photography reminded me of our wanders in my post, How to Torture a Hiking Partner.  He still doesn’t share my fascination for tree bark and insects.

Peeling bark Wivenhoe

Tall tree Wivenhoe

Tree bark tesselates

Tree bark Wivenhoe

tree resin Wivenhoe

tree resin

I’ve seen this fungi before but still haven’t identified it. It resembles dry horse manure. In fact, Lycra Man gave it a kick (he may have been a little bored) because he thought it was manure balls.

Fungi

After a couple of kilometres there is a horse watering point and this is where the trail becomes dirt and winds through eucalypt forest, up and down small hills and gives views of the dam.

Blue Trail

Blue Trail 2

Blue Trail 3

Blue Trail 5

As usual highly sensible furry creatures were staring at us from the shade.

Kangaroo in shade at Wivenhoe

There were also beautiful spiders to slow me down and cause Lycra Man to sigh again and again.

Wivenhoe spider

wivenhoe spider 3

spider - wivenhoe trails

In the end we had to turn around at the 4km mark of the Blue Trail as the light was fading fast.  Sometimes I talk to objects and this time the sun was my target. Apparently though, the sun doesn’t listen to dumpy, short legged hikers and it set despite my protests.

afternoon sun on trees at Wivenhoe

Sunset at Wivenhoe through trees

Lycra Man has this strange opinion that I can be rather bossy. I maintain it’s just a healthy assertiveness.  His comment after my one sided conversations with the sun: “You may be able to tell me what to do but the sun isn’t going to listen.” I must say that he rarely does what I tell him to either.

Now I’d brought Lycra Man along in case there were strange people lurking about.  This was probably a wise decision as while I was photographing a butterfly on a milkweed flower, I was shaken by angry shouting  emanating from an old blue Kombi van parked nearby. I realised the male occupant thought I was trying to secretly photograph him.  He sped off, gravel flying.  I’m not sure taking a blurry picture of a common monarch was worth receiving the tirade of abuse.

butterfly at monarch

And where was the long suffering bodyguard during this altercation?

Lycra Man

Despite this little incident I returned on my own with a plan to complete all the trails in one day. Reassured that the tracks provided enough interest and putting my head firmly in the sand about the possibility of another encounter with the paranoid stranger, I confidently headed off. Unfortunately, I started late again and frittered away too many hours taking shots of insects, birds and trees so it proved to be a very long day.

Butterfly Wivenhoe

beetle wivenhoe

bird wivenhoe

fungi and beetles wivenhoe

Along the way I also added about 2 km to the Blue Trail by returning to retrieve sunglasses I’d left behind while photographing these mealy bugs.

insects wivenhoe

mealybugs wivenhoe

Now they may only be cheap $20 sunglasses but they were the most comfortable ones I’d ever worn and by now you know I don’t like to spend money so I wasn’t going to leave them behind. Later that day on the White Track though, I lost them completely while photographing these birds’ nest fungi on horse manure. They aren’t even good photos.

birds nest fungi wivenhoe

birds nest fungi 2

Blue Trail Wivenhoe 5

There are 4 trails – Blue, White, Red and Black. How unimaginative you may say to just name them colours? Well, that’s what I thought too until the actual day. In the end, the colours seemed to represent my track experiences perfectly. The Blue Trail was shaded once you got past the initial sealed road and gave regular teasing views of water through the trees. If I wasn’t so stubborn/foolish about getting all the trails done in one day I would have enjoyed lazing about in the shade by the water.

wivenhoe through trees

wivenhoe dam through trees

Wivenhoe Dam

wivenhoe dam wall 2

I don’t know why but I’d got it into my head that the Blue Track would end at the top of a hill and give a magnificent view of the Dam. For this reason I delayed eating and drinking until I had finished it.  This was my first mistake. Here is the view when I reached the end of the Blue Trail where it joins the Black and White Trails.

Wivenhoe toilet

Now as far as toilets go this was luxury for a hiking track, clean and free of ticks and ants and not requiring a spade. However, after it had been shut up and baked by the midday sun, a woman could risk a burnt derriere using these flash facilities.

Wivanhoe Toilet 4

By this time I was ravenous so I sheltered in the dappled shade of a straggly gum tree, ate my lunch and took off my hat and outer loose shirt to allow some ventilation. This was my second mistake. My sunscreen had sweated off and the patchy shade was  insufficient protection from the harsh midday sun. I wasn’t to know this until much too late.

I really don’t have much to say about the Black Track. It’s a straight, sealed black bitumen road – far too exposed and hot for me to enjoy at midday in a Queensland summer.

Black Trail

 I walked along it for about a  kilometre, gave up and returned  to the beginning of the White Track, which seemed a little more shaded and probably more interesting.

White trail

I didn’t take notes but from my photographs I remember many white trunked gums on the White Track and it varied in shade level, with thick dry eucalypt forest and cleared hills overlooking the dam.

White Trail 3

White Trail 7

tree white trail wivenhoe 2

butterfly wivenhoe 2

insect in web at wivenhoe

Wivenhoe views from White Trail

This hill was a bit of a slog as by this stage I was feeling the effects of sunburn.

Top of hill overlooking Wivenhoe

The Red Track was really my undoing though as by the end I was suffering from mild heat stroke. The sunburn, lack of shade, my dwindling water supply and a breeze-less day meant my mind was fixed on getting back to the car so I could douse myself with extra water that I kept in the boot for emergencies.

Red trail sign

There were interesting details to enjoy though in between brain damage and muscles melting. The vegetation was a contrast to the forests of the Blue Trail, with grass trees and termite nests being a common sight.

grass trees

A couple of trees were being affectionate, obviously not bothered by differences in their trunk colours…

trees hugging

spider white trail

bee

I felt a little dry and crispy at this point like this cicada exoskeleton.

cicada

And the bones on this sign seemed appropriate.

bones

I wished I was small enough to hide away in the cool retreat of this termite construction like some creature had done.

termite hole

A glimpse of shimmering blue tormented me from the lookout.

lookout at red trail

As the Red Trail just continued on and on…

red trail 5

red trail sign 4

At some point I began to shiver and no longer felt thirsty – another warning sign that I was overheating. I felt like these shrivelled blackened fungi growing out of a termite nest. Having lost my sunglasses again, my eyes were also bloodshot from the glare.

black fungi on termites nest

I briefly fantasized that these frosty looking puffballs were made of ice-cream…

puffballs red trail wivenhoe

And wondered whether I’d end up like this unfortunate mammal.

bones 2

This was my fried brain by the end of the walk.

red termite mound

Wivenhoe Trails are probably best done in the colder months or at sunrise or sunset and in summer it’s probably not recommended you try to do them all in one go like I did unless you’re a fan of furnace torture.

Another day I returned to explore Wivenhoe Dam Spillway Common.  Like parts of the walking trails, it provided little shade but the sight of flowing water gave some mental  relief and I wished I’d brought swimming togs and a towel.

wivenhoe spillway water view

wivenhoe spillway water

Basking turtles, waterbirds and enormous fish can be viewed from the Spillway Lookout.

Wivenhoe Spillway Lookout

Wivenhoe Spillway fish

Wivenhoe Spillway turtles

Wivenhoe dam spillway birds preening

Wivenhoe Spillway Common birds

Wivenhoe Spillway

Closer to the water, dragonflies persuaded me to stay in the sun a little longer.

wivenhoe spillway dragonfly

wivenhoe red dragonfly

wivenhoe dragonfly on rock

On the walk back up to the carpark,  rock patterns and reflections also caught my attention.

Wivenhoe rock layers

Wivenhoe rocks

Wivenhoe rock layers

Wivenhoe rock patterns

As well as tall things…

Wivenhoe tree

And tiny things…

Wivenhoe wasps

I’m far too lazy to repeat the information about the dam workings in my own words so here are some educational boards for those interested. The spillway common is also a popular canoe drop off point. There are  “No Fishing” signs but this didn’t seem to stop a few people.

wivenhoe hydro

Wivenhoe Power Station picture

Lastly, I walked along the Cormorant Bay section of the Dam on the other side of the highway. It was the weekend and picnic areas  were packed with people enjoying the sunshine, the stunning views and companionship.

cormorant bay wivenhoe

seagulls cormorant bay

Large family gatherings seemed to be popular and I heard ethnic music and a few different languages being spoken.  I wondered if some families were originally refugees and was glad that they could now enjoy the relative freedom and safety of Australia.

The teasing aroma of barbecuing steaks and onions induced me to visit the Cormorant Café where the abundance offered to me by the kind waitress summed up my three wildlife, scenery and sunshine packed visits to Wivenhoe.

Wivenhoe Dam is also a popular camping spot and with fuel powered boats not permitted, it’s a far more peaceful option than many other dams in holiday season.

For an information brochure about Wivenhoe Dam check this site.

For a map and information about the Wivenhoe Trails check this site.

 

72 thoughts on “Coffee Waffle and Sunstroke – Wivenhoe Trails and Spillway Common

    • Hi Peggy, I’m so sorry I’ve not kept up with your blog. There is actually an increased chance of me travelling south in the next year so if you are home, it would be lovely to meet up. You often make me laugh with your accounts of adventures. Yes, the story about Mary always makes me smile. It’s nice to have happy memories of her in the end, even though she struggled physically. Best wishes. 🙂

  1. How could I not comment after such a feast of wonderful photographs! Thank you for going through such discomfort to shower us with beauty and interest. I shall look at your blog again and again to appreciate everything more fully.

    • Thank you very much, Susan. I’m always very pleased when you enjoy my offerings. I know you liked your time in Australia many years ago and I hope the blue skies and trees bring back fond memories. Even though it’s mid winter here, we have beautiful blue skies in Brisbane at the moment. The nights are chilly where I am but the days have been perfect for walking. I did a walk in thick rainforest with another blogger that I will share soon when I get time. Best wishes. 🙂

  2. A brilliant post. Awesome nature shots and – as always – fun as well as thought-provoking text.
    Well worth the wait. And thank you very much for your update. All the best to you and your family / relative. No need for responses/return-comments, first things first 🙂

    • Hi Marina,
      Thanks for the lovely comments. It’s great to hear from you and I hope you’re well. I’ve been trying to write up this post about Wivenhoe on and off for a few months but I kept having to abandon it so it is good to have it finally finished. I’m pleased you enjoyed the mix of things. I do waffle on a bit sometimes! Best wishes. 🙂

  3. Fantastic images and I loved the hike. Sounds like you’re one of the few bloggers like me who stops to photograph every little detail. I’m a big fan of tree bark too.

    If I had the health and fitness to hike like you, I’b be on your doorstep with camera over the shoulder and sunblock on hand & full bottle of water in the backpack.

    I’ll just have to imagine a hike from your photos. I does look a little hot for my fair skin though 🙂

    Thanks for sharing, Jane.

    • Hi Vicki,
      Thanks very much for the encouraging photo comments. That means a lot coming from an excellent photographer such as you. Yes, even though I tell myself each walk that I have enough bark shots, I can’t help myself. I have to stop and take more. As I replied to someone else I really love the amazing variety of textures, patterns and colours of our Australia tree bark.
      My health fluctuates a great deal. About 6 weeks ago I injured my back helping my relative and I could barely do anything. I couldn’t carry even light objects without pain. I had a CT scan etc which showed a number of chronic and acute problems. I’ve improved since then though. There have been times when I had chronic fatigue issues and other health problems too, so I understand a little of how frustrating it must be with your severe and chronic problems. I enjoy short walks as much as long ones so perhaps if I make it down to Melbourne one day we could share a gentle walk and I could learn a few tips from you about how to properly use my camera. I seem to stop every few metres so it takes me a long time to go anywhere. 🙂
      Yes, the sun is a problem for our fair skin here. I usually cover up a great deal but I was careless on this occasion. It doesn’t take much for me to become a beetroot.
      It’s great to hear from you again. I do hope life is good for you at the moment. Best wishes. 🙂

  4. Hey Jane, it was a long time coming but it was worth it, awesome post! I’ve said it before but you’re close ups are great. I loved the two trees entwined as well. Not sure how you managed to stay out of the water, it looks very tempting to me, I don’t think a lack of a swimsuit would of stopped me! Hopefully we can get you down to Melbourne later in the year for feral walk:)
    Cheers Kevin

    • Hi Kevin,
      I’m glad you thought it was worth it. Thank you. I started this post so many times and then gave up. The waitress was so nice to me though that I wanted to give the cafe a bit of promotion so I decided I’d better hurry up and finish it. It’s such a beautiful spot to eat and relax. The cafe is on high stilts with the verandah overlooking the dam. Yeah, the sight of the two trees “hugging” was pretty strange. I’m not sure how they ended up like that. If I went skinny-dipping in the midday sun my skin would fry and a few people would be blinded by my glaring white flesh. I don’t want to subject anyone to that danger! I had contemplated just going in with my clothes on but the thought of the chafing after walking all the way back to my car turned me off. It looked beautiful though. Life is pretty unpredictable up here but I’m hoping to make it down south some time at the end of the year or early next year. We’ll see what happens, anyway. Best wishes. 🙂

  5. Another greatly informative post Jane! Excellent images of our Aussie bush and its vivid colours. Loved your macros, fungus, tree bark and your story. It is so special when people show such gracious and caring heartedness to us, what a blessing the lady serving in the cafe was. You are amazing, God looks out for you through all your challenges and intrepid ventures:-) I will keep you in prayer , as you care for your relative and the needs they have.

    • Hi Ashley,
      Thanks very much for the kind encouragement as always. We do live in a pretty amazing country and I am thankful to have so much freedom to explore it. Yes, the waitress was a lovely person. I had to put my 16 year old dog to sleep the day before and I think she picked up on my mood. I was walking that day to lift my spirits and her kind action certainly did that. Thank you for your caring words, support and prayers. It is much appreciated. I hope you and your loved ones are well and you still have time to enjoy your interest in birds. Best wishes. 🙂

  6. This post kept me riveted Jane. I especially enjoyed the opening stories about the cafe waitress and Mary. Whatever you do, please keep the bark and spider shots coming–despite Lycra Man’s impatience. They are some of my favorites. I’m happy that you managed to capture such a feast of textures and patterns before nearly passing out on your epic hike. As for your last comment, I hate to think of the blog world as being based on a tit-for-tat reciprocity of comments. You shouldn’t feel guilty about not having time to look at other blogs. Take care of your relative and keep yourself sane!

    • Hi Brenda,
      Thank you very much for the supportive comments. I don’t think there is any danger of me giving up on spider and bark shots…I am hopelessly addicted! 🙂 I think when I was much younger I didn’t really notice how interesting our Australian trees were. I’m fascinated by them now. We are very fortunate to have so much space to explore in this country. I’ve had friends and relatives from overseas visit and marvel at our space. It can be easy to take it for granted sometimes. I do miss reading my friends’ blogs but I just haven’t been able to keep up. I really don’t mind if people don’t have time to comment though. Everyone has commitments. I hope all is well with you and your loved ones and you have a lovely weekend. Best wishes. 🙂

    • Hi John,
      Thanks as always for your encouragement. I’m so glad you appreciated the story about Mary. I kept umming and ahhing about whether to chop it out. However, it’s such a fond memory and was quite funny at the time so I really wanted to share it. We were such different people in so many ways but were still able to connect about the important things. After she died I read her school autograph book and realised that beneath the seriousness brought on by an early life event lay a person with a great sense of adventure. Circumstances meant she had to keep this in check though. She grew up in a very different time. Best wishes! 🙂

    • Thank you very much. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. It was a great place to explore. I probably should have waited until the cooler months to walk there though! Best wishes. 🙂

  7. I enjoyed your photos and especially your narrative! I think we share the same sense of humor.
    Your photos were great, but tackling all of those trails during hot weather was a bit of a heroic task.

    • Hi Terry,
      I’m pleased you enjoyed what some people call my strange sense of humour. I guess we’d probably enjoy a wander together then. 🙂 I’d appreciate a few flower photography tips along the way as I can’t replicate your beautiful detailed macros at the moment. Yes, unfortunately I was a little too stubborn trying to do the trails on a hot summer day! It would be much better in winter. Thanks for the encouraging feedback. It’s always much appreciated. Best wishes. 🙂

  8. What a great post. Your modesty about your camera work is charming but your photographs are more than good enough to boast about. What spectacular country you were walking in. No wonder that you did too much.

    • Thanks very much, Tom. I’m pleased you enjoyed the photographs, even though I do think some are a little dodgy. 🙂 Whenever I sort through my photographs that have blue skies I often think of the Tootlepedals and wonder what the Scottish weather is delivering to you. Your weather can be so changeable and you do have to endure such long periods of gloomy skies regularly. I hope you’ve had a chance for some pedalling lately. My eldest son is now in a serious relationship with a young woman whose father was Scottish so I expect they’ll be making a visit to relatives there before too long. I hope I can make it over there one day too. Best wishes to you and Mrs. T. 🙂

  9. Hi Jane

    humorous as usual! I really liked the opener and the cafe scene. What a nice waitress! (and how nice is it to have cafes in the middle of rural Queensland serving Thai fishcakes). I absolutely loved your story about Mary, I believe that what people in that sort of situation need is honesty, not the usual “Ah, you’ll be alright” or ‘there-there’ that do nothing to alleviate their situation, well done for speaking your mind.

    Good luck for your relative, hope she gets the care she needs and hope you’ll be able to hold it together! I’ve always assumed care and health to be nanny-state-ism up until my mother and grandma got sick with cancer; one fine day I went by the pharmacy to pick up their meds, and I realised that one white-cell-booster syringe was 120 euros a pop, and they used 3 a month, but the State paid for this. Or when my mother’s cure failed and the only option was a new one, which gave her an extra half year, a particular medicine that, I’ve read, the English NHS doesn’t give due to budget cuts. Had she been English, she’d have missed those six months with us.

    I hope Australia chooses wisely.

    • Hi Fabrizio,
      I’m so glad you appreciated the story about Mary as it is a fond memory of my time with her. She really seemed to appreciate my seemingly inappropriate comment. It was wonderful to hear her laugh that day. You are right about honesty being necessary in times like that. Sometimes we are so worried about saying the wrong thing around someone who has cancer that the sufferer doesn’t feel free to express their true feelings. Cancer sufferers can feel very isolated sometimes because they know others feel uncomfortable around them
      I’m so sorry your grandma and mum had cancer. It would have been very difficult for you to watch them suffer and deteriorate. I’m very glad you had a health system that allowed them to receive the medication they needed for free though. Our election results are still not decided. It has been very close. I’m hoping for the best as I can see some very difficult times ahead if the wrong people are in power. A good health care system that protects the vulnerable in society is so important.
      Thanks for your continued interest and support and sharing your own experiences, Fabrizio. I feel privileged hearing your personal stories.
      Best wishes. 🙂

  10. Well it seems as though you are going to have to put up with all the comments on your posts Jane. I am not the only one by any means who is happy to read your posts and discover you are still around though unfortunately even busier than ever. I am glad you have found your friend a good home but sorry you still have to travel so far to see her.
    I enjoyed this post enormously and hope you weren’t unwell with heatstroke for long after getting back home. I am sorry you have had to have your dog put to sleep. It is one of the most terrible and sad things we have to do for our animal friends.
    Your photographs are fantastic as always and your commentary interesting , honest and very amusing – though I do feel sorry for you in some of the situations you find yourself in! The people who first arrived in your part of the world from Europe must have come from my part of Britain. I keep reading familiar place names in your posts like Ipswich and Wivenhoe – though the places don’t look a bit like round here!
    Take care of yourself Jane
    Much love,
    Clarexx

    • Hi Clare,
      Thank you as always for your caring and encouraging comments. Life has been quite busy and unpredictable here but there have been some very encouraging events happening as well. I am very touched by the love and concern extended towards me by my blogging friends. It is heartening to have made contact with so many compassionate people such as yourself via the Internet. I am an introvert and usually don’t go out much socially. I’ve found that the interactions I’ve had in the blogging world are generally very positive and motivating. It has been an extremely rewarding experience.
      Yes, many of our place names here show the history of European colonisation. We are seeing an increase in Indigenous renaming of some areas though as we move forward to acknowledge the first Australians. It is quite funny to compare the landscape of places like Ipswich here with their English namesakes!
      I did suffer from headaches that night and the next day. Fortunately the sunburn wasn’t too bad. My fair skin is really not suited to the extreme Queensland sun. I hope you and your loved ones are well and life is not too hectic for you right now. Take good care of yourself too. Love Jane. x

      • We are fine thank-you and looking forward to the end of Elinor’s year at college and a few weeks rest.
        I’m pleased you weren’t unwell for too long. Heatstroke headaches are so unpleasant. I used to suffer terribly from heatstroke until I realised I should wear a hat! Fortunately I went grey early and then decided not to continue colouring my hair (too expensive for one thing!). White reflective hair has meant less heatstroke!
        Love Clare x

        • Please wish Elinor all the best with college. It will be lovely for her and for you to relax and take a break. I know from my children’s experiences that college/university can be a very stressful time.
          I’m allowing myself to go grey naturally but it’s not happening evenly – I have rather funny areas on one side of my face that are silver while the other side is still dark. I choose to call it “quirky” but others probably think it’s just strange. 🙂 My scalp is too sensitive to ever use hair dyes so I will just have to try and age gracefully…I’ll let you know if I succeed at that! Take good care of yourself, please. xx

  11. I was just thinking of you the other day, Jane, when I was out walking up a particularly steep hill. Your writing intertwines the quirks and beauty of human beings with the wonders of the natural world with such harmony . . . .not to mention the photos. Thank you for sharing and wishing health and endurance during these times.

    • Hi Jan,
      Thankyou for your kind and thoughtful comments. I really enjoy sharing my words and pictures with my Internet friends and have missed being able to read about and comment on their own activities. It is such a comfort to know that others care. Thankyou for thinking about me. Peace to you. 🙂

  12. Oh Jane! I enjoyed this visit so much even if you only have the time to post occasionally. Perhaps it was particularly appreciated since I seem to have been far too busy working on the new/old house and I’m not sure I’d find time to read it all if you posted more often. 😀

    I loved the story about Mary. Funny how people can often surprise you like that. I still remember the time I shattered my ankle and had to wear a cast. I went to visit my mom who was in the later stage of Alzheimer’s and had hardly spoken a word for some time. As usual, I asked how she was doing and she popped out with “better than you are”! That last flash of her humor is something I’ve treasured to this day.

    • Thanks very much for sharing the story about your mother! I loved it. I’m so glad you had that moment of lucidity and humour to remember. It is very difficult to watch a parent lose so much of themselves – watching them become a shell of what they were. Those small moments when they seem like their old self are treasured.
      It sounds like you’ve been been very busy with house renovations/organising. It can be a huge job. I hope your health is back to normal now as you had a very bad run for a long while. Thanks very much for reading my post and commenting. I do appreciate all your feedback. I hope you’re having some beautiful weather over there. Here it is mid winter but the skies are blue and the days perfect for walking. Best wishes! 🙂

    • Haha…thanks, Brian. I must admit this post felt exhausting to write. I stopped and started it so many times! I was going to give up on it but wanted to give the cafe some promotion as the service was so great. I’m never doing those walks again in summer! I hope you are well? Best wishes! 🙂

      • Yes Jane. I am sorta well. Some aches and pains which are hanging around but life goes on. The cafe did you well that’s for sure 🙂
        Hope you are OK as well.

        • I’m still hoping to do a road trip south and stop off at Grafton one of these days for a cuppa. 🙂 Yeah those aches and pains get worse in the colder weather too. Maybe reduce the number of N.R. Dances until summer, Brian. 🙂

  13. I took some time tonight to read your post and drool over your always interesting and superb photographs… well, and have a laugh or two also. You never disappoint, Jane. Your post lifted my mood a good bit. I’ve been sad over the loss of my little dog Zoe. She was my ranch hand and always by my side. I’ve been a little bit lost lately without her.

    • I only just read your comment and I feel so bad I’ve not kept up with your latest sad news. I’m so sorry, Lori. The incident with the waitress may have happened because I had to have my 16 yr old dog put to sleep the day before and perhaps she picked up on my mood.So it’s strange that it should coincide with your comments about Zoe. It is very hard when they’ve been a constant companion. I still “see” ghosts of my little dog when I am doing things where she always sat next to me such as drinking coffee on the verandah in the sun, hanging out the washing, pulling out weeds. I think I see movement but I’m just expecting her to be there. I do hope you feel less lost soon but I know it can take a long time when they’ve been by your side like Zoe has. Thanks for taking the time to comment when you’ve been feeling down. I will need to do some reading of your blog too. Sending you a big hug. x

  14. Gorgeous pictures, as usual Jane. I especially love the bark and sandstone patterns. The rock near you looks just like the sandstone here in Sydney! I know what you mean about irritating the hell out of companions by stopping every 10 metres to take a photo. I’m even slower on a walk than a small child! Sadly it looks like our election result will mean less money in health and public services – I hope it doesn’t impact too badly on you and your family. Best wishes.

    • Thanks very much, Nic. I am addicted to my tree bark and rock patterns. My poor walking companions do suffer! 🙂 Yes, the election results are a bit depressing. Things are very tough as it is in health care, education etc. I loved your latest post by the way. But that’s not unusual. I always enjoy them. Best wishes. 🙂

  15. What? You went to a genteel cafe and didn’t invite me? I feel slighted.

    Okay, not really. That part of your post reminded me that on our recent trip to the Chicago area our local informant MelissaBlue led us to the Common Grounds Cafe in Kenosha, Wisconsin:

    http://tinyurl.com/hnr9tse

    No one working at that cafe offered to pay for any part of what we ordered. Maybe the trick is to look as bedraggled as you say you looked after your hike.

    As for “far too much time taking multiple photos of objects not really of much interest to anyone but myself,” I’m on your side, as always.

    • I must apologise for not inviting you, Steve. That was very remiss of me. 🙂 I’m envious of your visit with Melissa as I would love to meet the both of you. I could complain that you neglected to issue me an invitation! 🙂
      Well, as you know from a past post, I was mistaken for a homeless or abused person in a shopping centre once due to falling asleep and having a swollen face (and looking slightly scruffy.) I seem to be a natural at this appearing bedraggled business. I’ve no doubt the waitress was influenced by my scruffy appearance. I did return later and gave her a large tip which surprised her. She tried to refuse it and I told her to “accept the abundance.” I think she needed it more than me.
      Ah, Steve, it is always good to know you are on my side. Thank you! Perhaps we will share a coffee one day. Best wishes. 🙂

    • Thanks, Caro! Ah yes, Mary was a special person. It seemed like we were such different people in many ways so I was surprised that we seemed to connect so well. It was only after she died and I was going through her personal things that I found out we were not so different after all. The woman she was before certain life events happened was very different to the person everyone saw when she was older. Thanks for reading and commenting. Great to hear from you. Sorry I’ve been slack with keeping up with other’s blogs. Life has just got away from me for a while. So much happening. Best wishes. 🙂

  16. Hi Jane, Basking in the shade near the water on a hot day sounds good to me…….what happened to going with the flow? What people will do for their art……dehydration, heatstroke, sun burn.
    As for your comments about aged care funding…grrrr! I wish you well in your current circumstances and will continue to relish your posts when you have the time to publish.

    • Thanks, Margaret. Yes, I was being rather stubborn that day. I think I was feeling frustrated and disappointed about a few things in life and needed a challenge. Getting exhausted and sunburnt calmed me down in the end. I wouldn’t recommend it though! 🙂 Basking in the shade by the water is far more sensible. I wish I was more sensible. 😉
      Yes, aged care funding is an ongoing battle. I’ve been finding the whole process of finding suitable places very frustrating and deflating. People deserve to be cared for well until their death, not in substandard conditions.
      Thanks for your continued interest and kind feedback, Margaret. Best wishes. 🙂

  17. Wonderful photos Jane. It was a relief to see the water at the end of your post. I was getting parched too 😀 As for one-way conversations with the sun… last Sunday saw me yell out to a magpie who started to swoop when I cycled past: ‘fair go! it’s not even the season!’ 😀 I think the warm temperatures lately might have encouraged this magpie to start preparing early.
    As for me, I’m delayed in my reading of blogs after being away travelling. So glad now to catch up with your posts. And I’m also glad that you’re able to immerse into nature and refresh during this difficult time.
    Best wishes, Gail.

    • Hi Gail,
      Oh, I wondered if the maggies were going to start early as a few were eyeing me off suspiciously on my lunch walk yesterday by the river! It’s been a funny warm winter. I got ticks on me during walks in June and July this year. That’s the first time I’ve had them in winter.
      I hope you enjoyed your travelling time and I look forward to catching up on everything eventually. I have had quick reads and liked some recent ones I think but not commented yet. Thanks very much for finding time to read my long posts and giving me lovely feedback, Gail. Have a beautiful week. 🙂

  18. A complete hiking epic!

    You’ve once again captured some bloody marvellous photos in spite of the survivalist walking regime of doom. Loved the birds nest fungi, dragonflies, and of course the tree bark macros. You are now an official zen master of tree photos, and what better subject could there be? I see a Moreton Bay Ash in there, love that tree.

    Also liked your comments on coffee. I am an addict (my boss thought I was serious when I said I was setting up a caffeine-based IV drip at my desk), and have had many happy hours in the back of coffee shops writing notes or reading over the years (as well as a funny encounter once with Rob Hirst, legendary drummer from Midnight Oil).

    Your quip to Mary was priceless.

    A great read as always. All the best, Rob.

    • Haha…a zen master of tree photos? Thanks for the your enthusiastic support, Rob! You made me laugh. I also love the Moreton Bay Ash. I first learnt the name when a wonderful grade seven teacher took us on an excursion to teach us about local native tree species. 🙂
      Coffee shops are wonderful places aren’t they? They will always feel like a treat to me. They are places that often inspire me and cheer me up when I feel blue. You had a funny encounter with Rob Hirst? Don’t tell me they got your orders wrong because you are both Robs?
      I’ll always remember Mary’s laugh that night. It was one of the funniest moments I had with her. Sometimes odd things just come out of my mouth. Fortunately she actually didn’t mind on this occasion! Best wishes. 🙂

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