Day 1: ISO 1600
It was 7am when we left Byron Bay. After yesterday’s long out-and-back visit to the waterfalls near Killarney while squeezing in a late afternoon visit to the Byron Bay lighthouse, we would now enter into Queensland for good.
First up was the Natural Bridge in Springbrook National Park. We arrived at the car park for Natural Bridge at 8:25am. When we started going on the walk and eventually entered into the cave-like alcove containing the waterfall spilling into the natural bridge, I came to realize that most of the photos in the darkness turned out to be quite grainy.
Julie also told me that her photos on her point-and-shoot camera were more colorful than mine.
It was only at this point did I realize that my new replacement 17-85mm zoom lens was defaulted to ISO 1600. And that would also explain why some of my images looked washed out from time to time as well. Even the Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour pictures were in the high iso.
I guess I couldn’t get back the first week of the trip so I just had to deal with the grainier pictures.
Anyways, I set the ISO back to either auto or ISO 100.
And at least the natural bridge was quite attractive. There were signs everywhere telling us we couldn’t get off the track to access the water. That was interspersed with a lot of interpretive signs as well.
The loop walk continued outside the natural bridge and eventually made its way up to the top of the waterfall where we could clearly see it plunge into the hole that ultimately became the natural bridge below.
Throughout the walk, we saw quite a few other people touring as well. It was a very popular attraction. Some of the signs mentioned that there were glow worms in the area, but we didn’t see any of them. Probably just a night time thing.
It was about 9:40am when we returned to the car. The next attraction we were to visit was also in Springbrook National Park, and it was the Purling Brook Falls.
After making a bit of a big U from going north on the Nerang-Murwillumbah Rd then swinging back over and going south on Springbrook Rd, we ultimately arrived at the half-crowded car park for Purling Brook Falls at 10:10am.
The walk was supposed to be a 4km loop around, over, under, then behind the waterfall, but there was a landslide near the base that closed off half of the track. So we ended up walking along the cliffs providing nice angled views of the falls before the track dropped down into the amphitheatre containing the falls.
We passed by some hidden waterfall called Tanninaba Falls where we could totally hear the falling water but we couldn’t really see it as it seemed to be masked by some large rock or slot in front of it. So it wasn’t photographable.
We also passed by some very interesting-looking trees that seemed like they had thin fins or some kind of narrow fins growing out of their trunks. I didn’t recall we had ever seen anything like these before.
A few minutes after Tanninaba Falls, we were at the base of Purling Brook Falls. We were able to go somewhat behind the slightly muddy backside of the falls, but we could clearly see the landslide blocking further progress beyond the other side of the falls. So this was our turnaround point.
As we were down here, we were actually a little relieved at feeling some of the waterfall’s mist. It turned out that we were starting to feel a little bit of the tropical humidity even though it was getting right into the Dry Season in these parts. Julie and I wondered if this place was kind of like Florida in terms of the climate.
We eventually climbed back out of the gorge and returned to the car park at 12:25pm. At this time, the car park was full!
The falls was a short walk to a lookout with panoramic views as well as a partial view of the falls tumbling into the bush below. We weren’t sure if there was a safe way down for better views, but we pretty much stopped at this lookout then headed towards some commotion on the other side of the car park at 1:15pm.
Little did we realize that today was Mother’s Day and that festival was M-fest. It was an interesting little get together celebrating motherhood. Julie and I went in there, bought a barbie sandwich, and listened to some live music over the picnic lunch. It was quite the unexpected diversion, and that explained why the car park was so busy.
We were back in the car at 1:50pm where we then drove over to and walked the 350m to check out the so-called Best of all Lookout. This lookout was really a wide expansive panorama looking out towards the Gold Coast as well as some impressive cliff and rock formations giving the panorama a bit of depth.
After having our fill of this lookout, we then headed back to the car and drove north on the Springbrook Rd as it eventually descended the Gold Coast Hinterlands into the Gold Coast itself, which really reminded Julie and I of something like Miami.
We eventually arrived at our accommodation (Vibe Hotel) at Surfer’s Paradise, where we checked in, then went for a walk to check out the beaches here.
Indeed, there were high rises perched right up against the sandy beaches. The high rises caused long shadows as the afternoon sun was getting lower. Meanwhile, there were lots of kite surfers letting the winds take them over some of the waves along the Gold Coast. It was quite the scene that kind of announced to us that indeed we were in a well-touristed part of the QLD.
After the sun had set, we then walked around the town mostly to find a place to grab a bite. I didn’t recall exactly where we ate, but just walking around the streets and watching lots of young people out and about (ready to party) kind of made Julie and I feel a little old.
When we returned to our high rise hotel, we were getting some nice long-exposed night time photographs from outside our balcony. And so ended this day. Tomorrow, we’d be heading further north towards Brisbane…