Finch Bay and the Botanic Gardens Cooktown Australia

Finch&CherryGrassyHilllSept2011Finch Bay Cooktown Australia

After hiking down to Cherry Tree Bay it was time for a break, so we returned to Cook’s Landing Kiosk for lunch and to plan our last afternoon in Cooktown. Because of limited time we decided to drive to Finch Bay instead of walking and then visit The Botanic Gardens.

Finch Bay was first on the agenda, so it was down Walker Street around 2 kilometres from Cooktown, on the way you will see the Botanic Garden on your left continue on and follow the dirt track to Finch Bay.

Finch Bay is apparently Cooktown’s swimming spot although the signage warning of crocodiles was enough to put us off entering the water.

 Signage Reads…..

  • Keep away from the water edge and do not enter the water
  • Take extreme care when launching or retrieving boats
  • Do not clean fish or leave fish waste near the water’s edge
  • Camp well away from the water

The small creek called Alligator Creek convinced us that the hotel swimming pool was a better option, none the less there was a small group having a great old time in the bay.
The beach was beautiful, surrounded by mountains and huge granite rocks on the northern end and rainforest meeting the deep blue Coral Sea.

A huge granite boulder that looks like a beached whale…

Whale Rock Finch Bay

Whale Rock Finch Beach

The massive size of these boulders is not apparent when you first arrive at Finch Bay, you can see them in the distance, it’s not until you make your way up the beach that you realise their immense size.
As we approached the northern end of the beach one of these large granite boulders embedded in the sand, started to resemble a huge beached whale.

Conducting some research later it was learnt this rock was called ‘Whale Rock’. Finch Bay is definitely worth the effort  and one of the things to do in Cooktown.

Cooktown Botanic Gardens

After investigating Finch Bay it was time to stop at Cooktown Botanic Gardens. These gardens were established in 1874 and are amongst the oldest in Australia so I have heard. The Botanic Gardens have the same feel as The Garden of the Sleeping Giant in Fiji, similar flora.
Remnants of the garden’s original design still lingers, this garden laid neglected for over 60 years until 1979 and rediscovered when the site was cleared for an event and it’s former glory was revealed.

The Botanic Gardens feature some sweeping lawns and you can imagine the scene here in the 1880’s with the locals picnicking on these lawn and the ladies with their parasols up shading themselves from the hot tropical northern Queensland sun. Perhaps during picnic conversations during the 1880’s thoughts  drifted to  the tragic circumstances of death or disappearance of Mrs Mary Watson and her son.

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Walks on the ‘Welcome to  Cooktown’ tourist map

If you are in Cooktown plan to visit Finch Bay and Cooktown’s Botanic Gardens you can walk to both of them these location, however instead of walking or driving down the dirt track to Finch Bay you can take the scenic track through the Botanic Gardens.
Don’t forget to pickup your ‘Welcome to Cooktown’ tourist map from your accommodation, they are also available at many of the local stores. Cooktown is only a small town; all the walks are outlined including the walk to Mt Cook which unfortunately time didn’t permit us to do.

Botanic Gardens CooktownVisit Cooktown and Cape York Peninsula for more information on this location

Cooktown Australia – Cherry Tree Bay Hiking Trail

Cooktown a Local Hiking Trail

View from Grassy Hill

On the way back down from the Grassy Hill was a sign to Cherry Tree Bay, so we all bundled out of the car took this walking trail, apparently this beach can only be accessed by foot or boat.

We weren’t sure what to expect, but it was one featured in the local Cooktown Tourist Map a great resource I might add.

This hiking trail was harder then we anticipated but fortunately we were prepared with water bottles and hiking shoes. The ground was very uneven in sections and the descent was steep in a couple of spots. However if you were used to hiking this wouldn’t be an issue.

At times the walk resembled the walking trails in South East Queensland, Mount Cougal and in particular Burleigh Heads National Park where the dry forest terrain is similar in parts

Hiking Trail to Cherry Bay

Cherry Tree Bay a short hiking trail

After about twenty minutes we reached Cherry Tree Bay, a beautiful remote bay, it is a secluded location with beautiful white sands, and swaying Palm Trees, the edges of the bay are surrounded by large granite boulders that are commonly found along the Australian eastern coastline.

The hike to Cherry Tree Bay is a short hiking trail I recommend, an activity that should be on your list of things to do in Cooktown.

Check out the tourist map that is available from many Hotels and local retailers with details about the local walking trails.

Cherry Tree Bay is a favourite spot for locals so I am lead to believe but because it’s only accessible by foot or boat, I can’t see it ever being crowded, given the small population of Cooktown.

The signage on the beach is very clear about swimming in the sea it reads….

  • Keep away from the water edge and do not enter the water
  • Take extreme care when launching or retrieving boats
  • Do not clean fish or leave fish waste near the water’s edge
  • Camp well away from the water

Whilst travelling up from Cairns and catching site of two large crocodiles basking on the muddy banks of rivers, I would be taking serious note of that signage and staying away from the water’s edge.

Cherry Tree Bay estuary runs along side the beach an area where estuarine crocodiles are likely to be.

If you visit Cooktown Australia take the time after visiting the Grassy Hill and check out Cherry Tree Bay its worth the short hike, the signage is on your left travelling down from the Grassy Hill.

If your schedule permits… it’s one of the things to do in Cooktown in far north Queensland.

Gillian on Cherry Bay Beach

Next on our agenda is Finch Bay were there is a large granite boulder that resembles a beached whale….and Mt Cook further down the coast.

Cooktown Heritage and Scenic Rim Walking Trails will keep you entertained with the abundance of local history that is part of the Australian heritage.

Tahquitz Canyon Visitors Centre Tour

After my 4 hours to kill in Palm Springs day, which I might add turned into a pleasant few hours, the next day was our last hours before we flew back to Australia. We decided we would spend this time stretching our legs on one of the hiking trails.

Tahquitz Canyon Trail Visitors Centre

Tahquitz Canyon hiking trail was the best choice for the day, access from Tahquitz Canyon Visitor Centre 500 W Mesquite Palm Springs. After paying the entry fee we were off, I do recommend you sit down for a few minutes and read the guide.

We didn’t… and after returning to our accommodation we discovered we had actually missed some interesting ‘locations of interest’ however it was a last minute decision and this was the end result.

My impression of Tahquitz CanyonHikers on the Tahquitz Canyon Trail

The air was cool and the canyon was in deep shadow looking up on our left we could see the overhanging boulders where we took photos a few days earlier at Josie Johnston Vista Park.

This place has a mystic feel about it and according to the walking guide the entrance to the Tahquitz  Canyon was named more than 3,000 years ago by Evonganet “Great Chief” of the Cahuilla.

The legend associated with this location is quite fascinating and one worth researching before the hike.

If only these rocks could speak…

Josie Johnson Vista Park just beyond the ridge

 

When walking along this trail you have an over whelming feeling that every rock and boulder could tell their own story. If only these rocks could talk what stories they could tell.

And they do! One in particular along the trail stood out, ‘The Foxes Dress’ the legend tells of a young maiden who had the power to turn herself into the rock that bears her name.

If I had taken the time to read the information before I started the walk I could have immersed myself in its contours and thought of the story about this young maiden, who she was and why she would want to transform herself into a large boulder.

Tahquitz Falls (water falling down)

The highlight of this walking trail is the Tahquitz Falls a beautiful location which probably hasn’t changed for thousands of years. If the Tahquitz Falls could talk what stories they could tell past and present. Everyone is eager to take photos at this site and we weren’t any different.

Gary looking for his reading glasses, below the Tahquitz Waterfall

Hold onto your reading glasses not the camera- good travel advice

If anyone asks you to take a photo of them anywhere… and you wear glasses make sure you wear one of those ‘stringy thingy’ around you neck to stop you losing them.

This happened to my boss, someone asked if he would take their photo while they stood in front of the Tahquitz Falls, he took hold of the camera looked down at the lens settings and his glasses headed south into the fast flowing water never to be seen again.

It was quite a sight to behold, hikers searching down stream for a pair of reading glasses and Gary with his hands and arms in the cold water hoping by some miracle these weren’t the new designer glasses that are lighter than air and they were at the bottom. But alas they had gone forever.

Best advice for the Tahquitz Canyon trail

My best advice if you are visiting the Tahquitz Canyon Visitors Center and you are walking the trail please take note of the following;

  • Take a moment to read the information brochure and familiarize yourself with the ‘locations of interests’ and then take the trail, looking for these sites will only enrich your experience and appreciation on the day.
  • Ranger-led interpretive hike is also a great option, guided tours are usually much more interesting and interactive and so rich in additional information and stories that are never documented in official literature and I am sure this will be the case!

Tahquitz Falls

I just loved Palm Springs.. hope to come back for a visit soon.

 


See you again…

What’s so special about Byron Bay anyway?

Byron Bay Australia

Everyone raves about this place; frankly I was over it. Every time I’ve travelled down from the Gold Coast for a day trip you are confronted by crowds of people and parking issues.

On a number of occasions with interstate friends it became so frustrating, traffic bumper to bumper into town and then finding a park was a nightmare! We all headed out of town back to the Gold Coast.

Signage Cape Byron

The end result was I just haven’t visited the location for sometime.  Then my sister arrived for a long weekend and it was time to try again.

Surely there must be something in this constant buzz about Byron Bay and it’s only about 40min from the Gold Coast.

The secret to success

Up early Saturday morning and this time I was determined it was going to be a good day at Byron Bay; the great memories of the place I want them back.

Off we went early around 7.30am for Byron and a walk around the Lighthouse. Usually I do some research before I go walking, check Google maps and decide which is the best walking track?

Didn’t do any of those things, just jumped in the car headed south straight down the Pacific Hwy to the Byron Bay turn off.

Perfect day for a visit to Byron Bay

This is the secret, go early and stay away from Sunday day trippers.

Parking was a breeze no bumper to bumper traffic into town. It is out of season and early morning, but who cares we are here and looking for a place for breakfast.

Breakfast on the beach front

We decided to have breakfast on the beach front at Fish Heads, this restaurant is steeped in local history and it’s worth taking your time to read about it on the menu.

We both ordered ‘Spanish Eggs’ it was filling and delicious with a bite of chilli. Now we were ready for our walk and what a magnificent day, the memories were flooding back.

take in the view at Byron Bay, just perfect

Cape Byron Headland Reserve

This is what Byron Bay is about, the views from the walking track were breathtaking the water was turquoise with the colour intensifying in the deeper waters; the air was clean and cool a perfect day for walking.

700metres to the Lighthouse and every step was rewarded with intoxicating views of Cape Byron with Julian Rocks just off shore. This is the Byron I remembered, how could I ever forget?

My sister enjoying a fabulous day at Byron Bay

Along the route take a quick detour off the main walking track to ‘Little Wategos Beach’ just a hundred metres, but worth the effort.

The button on the camera has been running hot; I love digital cameras you are only limited by how much your memory card will hold.

Back to the Main Track and the Lighthouse

The Lighthouse looming above

Continuing on and you will arrive at the most easterly point on the Australian mainland, views all along the coast in both directions with the brilliant white Lighthouse looming up ahead.

The approached to the Lighthouse lends itself to some perfect photos; no wonder visitors love this place it is quite unique.

The lighthouse is a handsome structure, gleaming in the morning sun with an indigo ocean backdrop; the brilliance of it contrasting against the deep blue sky is quite incredible.

Time for a Break

After all that walking and climbing steps up to this exceptional location it is time to rest and have a cuppa. Byron is a very special place, best advice pick your time frame carefully.

Cape Café is a very pleasant spot to have a quick drink and snack, soak in the incredible views one last time while recuperating for the journey back down to Wategos Beach.

But before you leave take the time to check out the visitors centre, some interesting facts about the inhabitants of this fabulous location that is Byron Bay.

See you on my next walk.