Well we are all set up at the Caravan Park in Stanthorpe now and will be starting the Apple thinning again next week. It’s ridiculously hot for this time of year, 30 degrees today, hard to believe. I guess we are in for a scorcher this summer.
Today we visited Girraween National Park , always one of our favourite parks, with a gorgeous rocky river, lots of rock pools, a huge rocky pyramid to climb and plenty of walking trails, you certainly can’t get bored in this beautiful place in nature. We saw lots of lizards, heard plenty of birds but for some reason we never get many bird photos here. A few dragonflies are also starting to appear which makes Anthony very very happy. He can spend hours stalking one just to get that perfect photo of a perfect pose on the perfect prop and of course with a perfect background.🤩🤩
We saw 3 Red-bellied black snakes but boy are the quick, we didn’t get any photos but I got a little snippet of one on my video, he was swimming and ducked under a rocky ledge, I wonder how long they can hold their breath because we sat there for ages waiting for him to resurface. Maybe he found a little tunnel through the rocks and made his escape. They are a beautiful snake to watch, very timid, if they see you they are pretty quick to get away.
Granite : a strong feature in this Park
It was difficult Photographing the birdlife today, they were very uncooperative
This is a Common male Archtail Dragonfly
Fairly slim pickings in the Odonata (dragon/damselflies) department
A nice variety of reptiles were spotted today
Some snippets from Girraween
So this is most likely our last big outing for a while. I guess we do have time off around Xmas but it would be pretty hot at that time and once we get into work mode we don’t seem to do much else. At the Apple orchard where we work, there is a huge lake with all sorts of birdlife visiting, Anthony sometimes goes there on our days off so we will still post some photos and of course our weekly inspirational quotes. Plus there is a very cute river in town where we also see lots of birds and dragonflies so we will still be doing occasional blogs of the amazing critters that we see when out and about. Please enjoy the pics and video.
Hello everyone, we moved our van from Grassy Head to Bellingen Showgrounds on Saturday. The school holidays were starting for NSW which means all the coastal caravan parks pretty much double their prices, so time for us to bail out. We have to slowly make our way back to Stanthorpe now, our Apple thinning job starts around the start of November and there’s still plenty of nature hot spots we want to check out on the way. The last few days we have been revisiting our favourite spots, like Urunga Boardwalk and Bongil Bongil NP and Nambucca. We could easily spend a lot more time down here, still many places we never got to see so we will definetly have to come back and explore some more.
The Showgrounds here in Bellingen are a cheaper option to camp and nice too, you can walk into the town easily and also straight over the road to the Bat Island. Most people would cringe at walking through a patch of forest so full of thousands of fruit bats but we thought it was pretty awesome. It’s great that they are tolerated here and have a nice place to roost during the day. Most councils are always under pressure from the public to move them on……God only know where too, well maybe we are just kooky and spooky but we love seeing happy bats of all sizes.
Grey-headed Flying foxes on Bellingen Island
Other birds captured over the last couple of days
Last critter snippets from the Mid North Coast
It was great to finally see Dragonflies emerge
There is some rainy weather coming so we hope we can dodge around it somehow. We really love the blue sky for our photos. Tomorrow we will head up to Grafton only a couple of hours drive but Chloe our cat is still getting used to the travelling side of things so don’t want to do too big a trip. Enjoy the pics and video,
Well Hello Everyone……we have been in isolation for the last 4 days. Mulu is a beautiful spot, not really even a village, only 1 little mini mart type shop with nothing in it. We did buy some chocolates there but couldn’t eat them, I think they had been melted over and over in the tropical heat and were pretty disgusting. Thank god the resort had a little very expensive shop that at least had some picnic and crunchie bars.
The Marriott Resort there is absolutely beautiful, the rooms are really nicely set out and furnished, very upper market fittings and the bed was like falling into some soft white fluffy clouds. We loved how it is all built off the ground with so many timber walkways. The pool wasn’t that nice though, just a rectangle with decking and umbrellas etc but it was always full of kiddies, I wish these big resorts could splash out and have a pool for kids and one for adults. We didn’t go in it but felt sorry for some of the adults trying to relax there. Of course everything there is expensive, drinks food even bottled water, which we were sneaky and bought it at the National Park for half price.
slim pickings for Bird pics at Mulu
Every morning we would jump on the shuttle bus and go to the park, only about 10 minutes drive, and when you finish at the park the security there rings the Marriott and they send the bus to pick you up again.
The park is beautiful too and really well set out with quite some kms of timber walkways, very easy to walk around. They had a huge bird tower where you had to get the key to open it which we did everyday. But if you wanted to go to the caves it was all tours, and expensive tours, and very regimented, we really didn’t care for that side of things. We could walk to one cave, the deer cave where more than 3 million bats fly out every evening, just beautiful watching them spiralling into the sky. We even saw an eagle take one out.
Dragon & Damselflies galore at Mulu
We were a bit disappointed though as we really didn’t see a lot of birdlife, the jungle here is full of Tarzan vines we call them so it’s really hard to see through them, but we didn’t hear too many birds either and sat up in the bird tower for quite sometime looking too. We did see heaps of different dragonflies butterflies and some really amazing bugs and gorgeous squirrels so it really wasn’t too bad. The heat got to us though and we had to go back to the resort and sit out the hottest part of the day and then head back in to the park around 3 pm but then it was very quiet.
There were a few Butterflies
We didn’t think the people here were very friendly, we did meet some nice barmaids but generally most of them are very sullen and it seems they really can’t be bothered with us. Apparently the resort is only allowed to hire local people and if one gets upset over something they all do, and it seems they have no competition for their jobs so they don’t try to hard.
Always nice to come across the odd Reptile or two
Squirrels are always fun to watch
No shortage of odd looking bugs
4 days there was well and truly enough and today we flew to Kuching. It seems very clean and a good road system getting out to our new digs, a big step down from the Marriott I’m afraid,no luxuries here but it’s clean and very close to the parks here. It was great to pick up a hire car again as we didn’t have one in Mulu. So now we are super busy as we have so many photos, a video and emails etc to catch up on. We didn’t have phone or wifi at the Marriott for 4 days, they say they have wifi but it doesn’t work. It looks quite scenic around here so hope to get into at least one of the parks tomorrow and also get some scenery photos.
Well we had a nice morning in Poring Hot Springs, we walked back through the butterfly sanctuary and saw a few more different butterflies. We did walk up to the tropical gardens but apparently there’s not much flowering so we gave it a miss but did see this enormous Orb weaver spider had just caught himself a bug so we took some photos and a video of him, it’s always fantastic to see such a big spider at work. We really love seeing all types of critters in the wild, although once I did walk into a big web like that and had eye to eye contact with one of those big golden orb spiders, oh my god I was screaming like a girl, since then I always make sure I’m never walking through the bush first. Absolutely Terrifying.
Some Butterflies of Poring
More Odonata of Poring
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We did the big 45 minute drive to Kundasang, we are staying at the Perkasa Hotel which is ok, big room great bathroom and shower, ticks all the boxes though it has this old worldly smell, I guess it is a really old hotel with old carpet. We had lunch back at the Mount Kinabalu Park restaurant and managed to get a couple of hours of driving around listening out for birds. We did get great photos of 6 new birds in that time which was just fantastic to see. Sadly some of them have little bands on their legs, research so we are told. Some birds have 3 bands……must be 3 types of research?…You have to wonder if it helps the birds in any way, not much use having all this data if it doesn’t help them. Apparently they rig up big nets across the ridges somehow to catch them, I wonder how many times they have to go through that sort of stress.
Well anyway we love seeing them and they all look healthy, and we love seeing new birds.
We will put our new photos of them on tomorrow’s blog as we will have the whole day in the park so hopefully get more photos.
Our 2 nights in Sandakan went really well. The first night we went into the city which isn’t really as big as we first thought, and it has a different feel to it, almost like being in a different country. The drive in from the hotel is nice and tropical and really tidy with trees and plants in the median strip and not much rubbish. We had to get some supplies so found a supermarket and there are loads of shops and the city has a Harbour with all little makeshift restaurants along the harbour wall. We walked to the last restaurant which had more of a landing and wasn’t so busy, had a great meal and we were quite close to a navy patrol boat so Anthony could have some nostalgia and reminisce about his navy days.
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Yesterday we got up early as we wanted to have breakfast early and then drove about 10 minutes back out of the city to this beautiful Rainforest Park. What a fantastic spot, it has a very wide concrete path all the way round and actually some of it we were on tippy toes pushing up the very steep hills. We didn’t see a lot there, every time we did see something Anthony couldn’t get a photo because his glasses were steaming up so much….it was really humid and steamy there. There’s a couple of trails but we didn’t have our hiking boots on so gave them a miss as they looked a bit overgrown. There’s also a pitcher plant garden, i think it’s all quite new and would be even nicer if they had a cafe there. I love how they made good use of the old tyres for planters, I mean I’ve seen that before but usually old tyres in gardens even when painted still look like horrible used tyres but they have cut out the tops to make them more artistic.
We stopped at the English Tea House for an early lunch, it’s just past our hotel and up a steep hill, the view from there is nice and the gardens and setting there for lunch was just fantastic. We drove past the city to where all the houses are built out from the shore on stilts and jetties but sadly this also turned into the standard rubbish tip, we wanted to capture the houses somehow but was impossible with all the rubbish.
The rest of the afternoon was very relaxing, I did manage to talk Anthony into coming down to the pool and pulling up a banana lounge and even going for a swim. But honestly you just have to look at the pool to want to relax there. Banana lounging isn’t really our thing as we have done that so much in earlier times but this was like a really special treat, my pina colada was the best I have ever had so I had to have another. Of course if you do this all the time ……on go the kilos and you sleep a lot, it makes you very very sleepy. We had plans to go back down the harbour for tea but a really big storm was coming at speed so we had a fantastic meal at the hotel restaurant.
This morning we drove back into the city to get some photos of the harbour but actually it looks better at night, daylight has revealed it’s also a rubbish tip…..along the harbour and rocks just so much rubbish and floating in the water there. You can see Turtle Island from there and that is supposed to be a turtle conservation area and I have read about the pristine waters there and white beaches etc, I haven’t been there so can’t comment but those turtles must just have a mine field of plastics to navigate through. It’s a real sad reality to see firsthand how much rubbish is going into the ocean here.
We had the big horror drive today back to the other side of Borneo. It only took 3 hours this time as it’s Sunday and not too many trucks on the road and no torrential downpours.
We are now in Poring Springs. We have a nice cottage type room with a veranda, nothing like our last hotel but this is nice and clean and has its own bathroom, the only thing missing is a fridge but you don’t get that very often in Borneo. There’s some walks here to waterfalls and supposed to be good birding, also the hot springs which we quickly checked out, obviously being Sunday it was just crazy with masses of people all lazing in these baths, definitely not our cup of tea. I know the water is supposed to be very therapeutic but with all the human noise there I’m not sure what sort of therapy it would be. We did a quick walk up to the canopy walk with swing bridges but you had to queue behind so many people and weren’t allowed to take your own photos but had to pay them to take a photo of you. What a tourist rip off, we couldn’t stand it waiting for people to get their paid selfies so turned around and came back to the room to relax a bit. So our first impression of Poring Springs isn’t so good but hopefully tomorrow when all the masses have gone we might have a better experience.
All went well for our big move back to the Sepilok Forest Edge Resort. We put off the epic 20 minute drive for as long as could. We had breakfast at the hotel and did all our laundry at the very flash Mr Dobi laundromat just over the road. It’s quite amazing as this town (Labuk) is so grotty and smelly and the shops and restaurants look very shabby, huge cockroaches scuttle around the pavements at night and I would hate to think what lurks down in those smelly drains 😬😬😬, then they have this state of the art laundromat with ten brand new enormous front loaders and matching dryers above, all open roller doors and fans, the machines have their own internal detergent and you put money in another machine to get tokens which are fed into the machines. I should have taken a photo as even in Australia We have never seen such a schmick laundromat.
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So eventually we had to drag ourselves from the airconditioned room and hit the road to the resort, we dropped our bags at reception as we were too early for the chalet to be ready. We wandered around the gardens and they also have a lake and lots of dragonflies, a few different ones so Anthony was in heaven for a little while till he realised his scone was getting burnt in the hot midday sun. I of course was standing in the shade pointing things out with my binoculars.
We had lunch then headed down the road to the jungle again, the girls at the ticket office know us now and are always happy and friendly it’s almost like we are Sepilok locals.
We didn’t think we would see too much being the hottest time of the day and its always pretty quiet walking around. But we are getting good……. I’m turning into the eagle eyed spotter and Anthony is turning into the Stealth master, so many times now I just say STOP when I’ve spotted something and then he takes a few far away photos and then very slowly step by step gets closer and closer resulting in some pretty amazing photos as you can see. It really takes some patience though.
The Red Naped Trogon was an absolute prize….I just couldn’t believe it when I spotted this little patch of red among the greenery, we were on one of the canopy walks and he was actually sitting in the open so we had to be super sneaky and super quiet as those big steel walkways are quite creaky and noisy.
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So we had another fantastic day here, our new chalet is better than the other one we had, it’s higher with a nicer view and lighter as the other one was down in the rainforest. We love the food here too, I was really looking forward to my pina colada tonight, they do them really well here and a nice reward after a hard day spotting. So please enjoy the photos, I’m getting a video together of the resort so will post that tomorrow.
We had another great day in the Sepilok Jungle. There’s not much cloud cover so it’s been ridiculously hot. We have a pretty good routine though and try to walk the suspended walkways first as they get quite hot and you are really exposed in some places.Plus the towers are very high which means lots of steps and by the afternoon we are very tired, the heat and humidity certainly takes it out of you. It’s hard to keep concentrating too, sometimes you can go quite sometime without seeing or hearing anything and then we seem to go into a torpor or start chatting while we are walking and then of course we aren’t looking. For lunch we have been going to the Banana cafe, today the owners son Jason found a little whip snake for us, just beautiful and we would never have spotted him, he just blended in so well with his surroundings. Jason and his dad John are getting to know us now as we are there every day and always tell us what they have seen there or if there’s anything around the lake. We come back to the hotel around 5 ish and have been having tea in the restaurant downstairs which is ok and we always seem to be their only customers which is weird.
We saw Orangutans a few times again, a young mum and junior were on the suspended walkway this morning and had quite a crowd all trying to desperately get selfies with the orangutans in the background. I wonder what they think of us, sometimes I’m embarrassed to be a human, these people didn’t even move when they came so close and the sad bit is they pulled all the garbage out of one of the bins and were drinking the dregs from Pepsi coke cans and licking food wrappers even though the sign at the start of the walrk says no food or drinks allowed, obviously for a good reason. I guess some people would think it quite funny but whenever humans get too close to wildlife and an altercation happens where the human gets hurt it’s always the animal that gets euthanased. I think they should have people posted around the park to keep an eye on peoples behaviour, I mean you couldn’t get that close to any animals in a zoo and all the animals here are wild.
Apart from that we got a few more new birds we hadn’t seen before which is always exciting. And we had a huge flock of hornbills flying quite low through the trees right over our heads which was great.
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Tomorrow we are moving back to the Sepilok Forest edge resort where we stayed in the chalet before. It will be nice to be back there. But it’s only for 2 nights then we will have a rest from the jungle for 2 nights in Sandakan. Enjoy the pics.
Wow what a day….We were really relaxed this morning and tried really hard to be stealthy and very quiet and it really paid off. I think we have realised that rainforest birds are very very secretive and really don’t do much. They just sit….usually behind something, they hardly make a sound and they hardly fly, just a quick spurt to the next branch that is why they are so hard to spot. So many times one of us will spot something and the other just cannot see it no matter how hard you look, they are so well hidden and you really just have to be looking in the right spot at the right time.
So we had a great time, finally got to walk half of the Pitta trail as it’s quite long, you can cut back through the middle past an enormous tree called the Sepilok giant, just fantastic to see a big tree like that. I did take a few video snippets today but will put them all together when I have more. It’s been impossible to get good videos of these birds, just too far away or by the time I get focused on them they are already gone. But I love looking at them through binoculars as well and I try to follow them so Anthony can get good photos, we are a good team.
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Besides the photos we saw the young male orangutan again carrying around a huge jackfruit, so cool to see them so often, also saw a couple of water monitors and of course other birds that we just haven’t been able to get photos off but we will keep trying. Tomorrow’s another day and we are really looking forward to it.
Well our morning didn’t really go as planned, checkout was at 11 am which didn’t really give us enough time to do the pita walk and then have enough time for showers etc so we just walked the walkways and some paths again at the discovery centre. Actually it was very quiet there, we were even quite early but didn’t see much except for a few skinks and this beautiful Orangutan just having a little rest in a tree, we really didn’t want to disturb him so we were very quiet, took some quick photos and left him in peace.
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A young Orangutan at Rest – Sepilok Rainforest
After checking out we stopped for a quick iced tea with lemon at the banana cafe, there was hardly anyone there and Anthony got some great photos of those elusive little flowerpeckers, they are so small and fast and always hiding. They have a bird feeder there and lots of flowering bushes so it’s a hotspot for those types of birds.
It was a 2 hour drive to our new digs in Sukau which is right on the river. Anthony booked 4 nights here, but was always a bit unsure about this place and couldn’t find out anything about the river boat trips etc. Well all I can say is it’s just one big rip off tourist place, pay pay pay for rubbish really.This place is like a lodge I guess with timber walkways leading to cabins, which is what we were in first but honestly is was worse than the Hovel Central at Mount Kinabalu. A scrap of toweling for a towel, certainly no bath mat, no kettle or cups or glasses, another one of those wet showers, also the louvre windows wouldn’t close which made the aircon pretty hopeless. We didn’t know what to do, we were so disappointed yet again. Anthony found if we stayed one night we could cancel without having to pay for the other three nights, so hooray for that, we weren’t staying that long, also they had a spare deluxe room so we took that. It was more expensive but comfy bed proper shower, kettle etc so things did take a turn for the better.
Kinabatangan River Video
Then we decided to take the afternoon boat trip for 2 hours which is what we came here for but Anthony was under the impression that the boat went all the time and would be cheap…….No No No not in this rip off place. We did the trip along with so many other boats just crazy…really not our cup of tea at all. We saw a few birds but we were just going flat stick up and down the river about 3 times, yes just up down up down at high speed and didn’t see a thing for the first hour. Because they had spotters on the shore looking for elephants and had spotted them up there, but by the time we got there they had gone so we went all the way down there and then back again. Some of us saw birds but they weren’t interested in us seeing anything but the elephants, here’s our Safari trip in Kui Buri all over again.
Asian Elephant on the banks of Kinabatangan River
Yes we did see the elephants but you can hear all the people in the background of my video, it’s not how we want to see wildlife. We will certainly stay away from any future boat trips.
They have a restaurant on the river here, for drinks there’s either water or coke and we had a very basic buffet dinner. I’ve been having Pina Colada’s the last few nights so have become rather spoilt.
So the problem now is that all the accommodation around Sepilok is booked out and we have nowhere that we want to go to…..We’re not staying here it’s a @$#& hole. We might be able to go back to Labuk where we stayed at that hotel then it’s only about 20 minutes drive to the Rainforest Discovery Centre.
I will keep you posted.
It was extremely hot today must have easy been around 38 degrees, they have a problem with power here so the power just went off and thank god it came back on again, I don’t think we could sleep without aircon. The power keeps surging, all the lights dim and the aircon is on 17 degrees but is only just keeping us cool.
Borneo is a real hit and miss affair, I guess if we ever come back we can sidestep all the pitfalls. We will be in better spirits when we get back to the jungle.
Well you are probably thinking after that blog yesterday that we have packed our bags and are hightailing it out of Borneo and heading home but this morning we woke up fresh as daisies, the skies had cleared, the instant coffees are keeping our headaches at bay and we knew today we were going back to nature.
We only had around a 20 minute drive to our new digs, a chalet in the rainforest…,,yes you did hear that right, hasn’t it got a beautiful ring to it. It’s called the Sepilok Forest Edge Resort. We knew we couldn’t check in till 2 pm but we rocked up around 10 am and left our luggage at the reception and they said they would take it to our chalet when it was ready…..we had passed a cafe sign just up the road so we headed there first for some brunch, great omelette and toast.
There was this huge decking with all the tables and chairs and it overlooked a man made lake with a little island in the middle and the most picturesque setting, so many flowering plants and of course birds everywhere. We had left our stuff in the car so Anthony went and got his camera and quickly got some photos of the little green lizard and the Hornbill sitting quietly in a tree. What a beautiful spot, it really lifted our spirits.
Well wow what can I say the nature gods are smiling upon us and dropped us right in the middle of paradise. We spent the rest of the day here, it’s very tropical after all that rain I guess, but we didn’t care, just so many birds and other critters here.
check out today’s video at the Rainforest Discovery Centre
We came back to our chalet, all good, the restaurant is fantastic so will try to get some photos around here and the banana cafe with the lake. We have a lake here too but didn’t have time to explore today, we will be pretty keen get back it the discover centre in the morning., we might cancel some other things we had planned so we can come back here, absolutely fantastic.Enjoy the pics and video, we are here for two nights.