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For the keen walker, there are walks in abundance from the village of Iluka.  The walk beside Iluka Bay is the gentlest.  But there are walks along the beaches facing the Pacific Ocean and even more through a rainforest and through Bundjalong National Park.

P1240948  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240948 © JT of jtdytravels

The main road from the Pacific Highway into Iluka goes through the Bundjalung  National Park.  Side roads lead off into the forest and to the bluffs and beaches of the Pacific Ocean. The roads are unsealed but in good condition and the drive through tunnels of trees is a peaceful start to a day out in the bush.

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P1240877  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240877 © JT of jtdytravels

The best known, and very well set up bush parking area is at Iluka Bluff.  Leaving the car here, you can choose to enjoy a walk or a rest on the beach, pick your way across the rocks at the headland, climb up to the bluff or walk in the forest; or do all of the above.

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P1240879  ©  JT  f jtdytravels

P1240879 © JT f jtdytravels

My first choice was the beach – not to swim or laze in the sun but to walk.

When I was there, this beach was not patrolled, so care is needed if swimming.

One part of this beach is called Shark Bay – enough said!

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P1240885  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1240885 © JT of jtdytravels

I shared this long beautiful stretch of coast with just two other people.

With a gentle sea on one side

and a forest alive with native birds on the other

it was a most pleasant walk.

There would no doubt be many more people enjoying this beach in summer.

P1240881  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240881 © JT of jtdytravels

However, this is not a bare foot beach.  It’s made up of small shells so …

a good pair of walking shoes was essential.

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P1240896  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1240896 © JT of jtdytravels

Coming back from my beach walk, I began to explore the rocky headland.

It was the resting place that morning for hundreds of birds, most of them small terns.

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P1240893  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1240893 © JT of jtdytravels

Amongst them were Cormorants and, of course, sea gulls.

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P1240902  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240902 © JT of jtdytravels

My favourite bird of the morning was this Brahminy Kite (Haliastur Indus).  I had taken a short bush walk to get further out on the rocks below the bluff.  I found this magnificent bird sitting on a rock shelf quietly finishing off a feed of fish.  T’was a magic moment.

Brahminy Kites feed exclusively on fish and other marine animals.  I have read that they often scavenge for dead fish floating on the surface rather than catching live fish.  Once this bird had finished its meal, I enjoyed watching it soar high over the rock platform.

Iluka is almost to the southern edge of the Brahminy Kite’s range.  They occur only in warmer coastal areas and on offshore islands; in the eastern states they may occur from Port Macquarie north and, in Western Australia, they can be seen north of Carnarvon.  We saw them in the tidal rivers of the Kimberleys when we were there a few years ago.

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P1240910  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240910 © JT of jtdytravels

There are good paths through the seaside scrub which seems to be alive with birds.

Most are impossible to photograph as they flit through the trees.

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P1240912  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240912 © JT of jtdytravels

Some are much more used to human company. This magpie joined me on my walk.

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P1240913  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240913 © JT of jtdytravels

A Masked Lapwing was a little more wary as he trotted across a more open area of park.

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P1240939  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240939 © JT of jtdytravels

The common Australian native tree, the Paper Bark, Melaleuca sp., abounds in this park.

Birds love them and some artists like to use the papery bark in their creations.

However, collecting this bark in a National Park is not permitted.

Take only photos, leave only footprints – that’s the rule.

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P1240947  ©  Jt  of  jtdytravels

P1240947 © Jt of jtdytravels

Day visitors are well catered for with plenty of tables in shady places for picnics.

There are also eco friendly long drop, composting toilets near the car park.

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P1240938  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240938 © JT of jtdytravels

A shaded, raised information area also has a picnic table and tank water.

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P1240935  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240935 © JT of jtdytravels

From the information platform, a steep set of steps leads up towards the top of the bluff.

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P1240922  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240922 © JT of jtdytravels

From the top of the steps, a steepish gravelled path with steps leads further upwards.

A more gentle board walk path then leads on through the bush.

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P1240921  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240921 © JT of jtdytravels

There are some interesting trees to look at along the way.

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P1240934  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240934 © JT of jtdytravels

A volunteer landcare group has been busy cleaning out weeds in this area.

They’ve also planted several more native trees and bushes.

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P1240924  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1240924 © JT of jtdytravels

Finally, the look out comes into view.

And the view from the top is well worth the climb.

This is a great place to watch for whales on their migration route.

Looking south is the breakwater lined mouth of the Clarence River.

Yamba can be seen on the hill beyond.

Iluka is further back to the right behind another long, sandy beach.

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P1240927  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1240927 © JT of jtdytravels

The sound and sight of waves folding over rocks below is something I always enjoy.

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P1240926  ©  Jt  of jtdytravels

P1240926 © Jt of jtdytravels

There were many more walks I could have taken in this National Park,

but I was happy to take a rest here

and enjoy the solitude and the beauty of the sea scape.

The other walks will have to wait until I return some other time!

Jennie

Photography  © Copyright  JT  of  jtdytravels

More travel stories and photos of our overseas adventures can be found on

http://www.jtdytravels.com

.

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Come with us on an armchair ride to to Fiji – a great holiday destination especially for Australians and New Zealanders.  It’s also not too difficult to get to for those from USA and Canada. In March, we flew there from Sydney to Nadi on Air Pacific. Our first few days were spent enjoying time unwinding and relaxing at the Sheraton Hotel / Resort at Denarau, close to Nadi.

Sheraton Hotel, Denarau, Nadi, Fiji  P1130521

P1130521 © JT of jtdytravels

The Sheraton is a lovely resort spread out across many acres of gardens and lawns.

P1130630

P1130630 © JT of jtdytravels

All guests here can use the pools and restaurants of three adjoining hotels, The Sheraton, Sheraton Villas (above) and the Westin.

P1130628

P1130628 © JT of jtdytravels

A lily pond separates the Sheraton from the Sheraton Villas.

P1130627

P1130627 © JT of jtdytravels

And of course, what would a lily pond be without waterlilies!

P1130519

P1130519  © JT of jtdytravels

It’s a cash free environment across all three resorts, all charges being made back to your room. Breakfast is included with a wonderful choice of foods on offer.  Our room was one of the furthest from the dining room so we had a good walk to and from eating – and time to enjoy the gardens.

P1130514

P1130514  © JT of jtdytravels

Much use is made in these gardens of the delicate spider lilies

Hymenocallis littoralis

P1130556

P1130556  ©  JT of jtdytravels

This delightful flower was planted by our small patio.

P1130510

P1130510  © JT of jtdytravels

These hotels are a great place for families to have a relaxing holiday. There’s a free kid’s club and plenty of wonderful Fijian ladies who will baby sit the littlest ones to give parents a break for an hour or two or three. Many family groups were of three generations with grandparents having time with their families in a relaxing environment. We really enjoyed seeing everyone having a good time and I didn’t see one grizzly kid the whole time we were there.

For those who want it, there’s an excellent golf course and tennis courts.  A thatch covered free ‘bula bus’ does a continual loop around this area of hotels and another more conventional bus will take you, for a small fee, to Nadi shopping area. You can use your ticket to ‘hop on hop off’ all day.  Yes it is hot – it’s tropical – but their are plenty of pools to cool down in.

P1130599

P1130599  ©  JT of jtdytravels

 I found that a good book to read in a cool spot in the mid day heat was a good idea!   This was our small shaded patio.

P1130526

P1130526  ©  JT of jtdytravels

There was always company around the patio from these tiny finches, not much bigger than a blade of grass.

P1040913

P1040913  ©  DY of jtdytravels

These Fiji Parrot Finches move about quite quickly so it was a little difficult to get a sharp closeup shot, but David managed this one.

P1130640

P1130640  ©  JT of jtdytravels

Mushrooms grew in the grass nearby. Edible? I don’t know but I don’t think so and I wouldn’t like to try.

P1130509

P1130509  ©  JT of jtdytravels

The delightful small wedding chapel was close to our room but its not in operation at the moment.

Cyclone Evan blew away much of the thatch on the small side shade area.

Repairing rooms has been a higher priority for the management.

P1040915

P1040915  ©  DY of jtdytravels

Whilst in Nadi, we had the opportunity to catch up with Siti, a most delightful young man who has been a part of my life for almost ten years.

P1130621

P1130621  ©  DY of jtdytravels

It was amazing how cool Siti was whilst I sweltered in the mid day heat!

So how did this handsome young man come to be part of our lives?

In 2003, David and I visited the outer Yasawan islands in company with a group of Melbourne Rotarians. While they helped the village people on the island of Matacawa Levu to paint their church, I spent quite a bit of time in island schools and getting to know lots of the local children.

I soon came to realise that the children of these poor, far outer islands had very little chance of a good education beyond basic primary school. Most had never been to the main islands. They had never seen a car or traffic lights let alone had a secondary education. Their families survive on fishing and growing vegetables and coconuts. After discussion with the Rotary group, it was decided that we could set up an education program through Rotary to enable some of the brightest of these young people to have a secondary education on the main island. My Siti was the first of these young people and he has made the most of the opportunity that I was able to give him. He completed high school with flying colours. I then supported him through his tertiary education in IT. He’s now working in Lautoka and is a wonderful example of the power of education to change life chances. Other young students from the Yasawans have followed in his footsteps and are also gaining the benefits of an education.

Now come with me on my walks around Denarau – camera in hand of course.

P1130636

P1130636  © JT of jtdytravels

In the pre-dawn, the view from the breakwater at the end of Denarau peninsular takes on a mystical aura.

P1130566

P1130566  ©  JT of jtdytravels

There’s something very calming about the gentle ebb and flow of water on the beach in the early morning.

P1130557

P1130557  ©  JT of jtdytravels

This beach was much wider and longer before Cyclone Evan washed much of it away in December 2012..

P1130567

P1130567  ©  JT of jtdytravels

 Here was another photographic challenge.

Not only do these crabs disappear down their holes at the slightest movement, but they are almost transparent

and their camouflage against the sand is quite extraordinary.

P1130562

P1130562  ©  JT of jtdytravels

I just love looking for abstract patterns on the beach.

P1130559

P1130559  ©  JT of jtdytravels

And in the early morning there are lots of interesting footprints in the sand.

P1130639

P1130639  ©  JT of jtdytravels

This is the tropics! Sometimes a quiet walk turns into a run for cover as a rain shower descends over the scene.

P1040917

P1040917  ©  JT of jtdytravels

This rather ghoulish photo of a wasp attacking a caterpillar has an interesting story.  David and I were walking down to another resort late one afternoon when suddenly a caterpillar came swinging down to the ground on a long silken thread. Just as David drew my attention to it, this wasp wizzed in and attacked. It then proceeded to bite several holes in the poor old caterpillar in which, we guessed, to lay its eggs. Macabre!

P1130548

P1130548  ©  JT of jtdytravels

Late in the day is a magical time here on Denarau. It’s much cooler and the sun setting over the sea is a ‘must watch’ event.

P1130553

P1130553  ©  JT of jtdytravels

Each day the sunset scene is quite different, especially when viewed from different vantage points.

P1040882

P1040882  ©  DY of jtdytravels

Finally the sun goes down and a tranquil air of cool and calm descends on the place. It is idyllic.

But we didn’t stay here for the whole of our time in Fiji.

The purpose of the trip was to cruise to the Yasawan and Mamanuca Islands.

We’ll start that adventure in the next episode.

Jennie

All Photography © Jennie Thomas and David Young of jtdytravels

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Our final trip on the long tail boats on Inle Lake took us through yet another Intha village to visit a school on poles and then some floating gardens before we turned north to retrace our journey back up the river to the dock at the town of Nyaung Shwe.

( P1020955 © DY of jtdytravels)

( P1020955 © DY of jtdytravels)

Before we said goodbye to our new friends the Inle Princess Resort Hotel, we had another delightful breakfast on the deck which provided yet more photographic opportunities.

It was a perfect morning, crisp and clear with great reflections on the water.

(P1020965  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

(P1020965 © DY of jtdytravels)

A superb red dragonfly gave us a few problems in getting the light just right to film those delicate, gauzy wings.

Our boat journey that morning began with a slight problem when we got snagged in the weeds.

Sometimes a short cut takes sooooo much longer!

Click on the video to share the experience.

P1100890 © JT of jtdytravels

P1100890 © JT of jtdytravels

Weeds encroaching on waterways between houses make them quite narrow.

P1100905 © JT of jtdytravels

P1100905 © JT of jtdytravels

This man was painting his house with what appeared to be creosote.

P1100906 ©  JT of jtdytravels

P1100906 © JT of jtdytravels

A relatively wealthy Intha family must live in this house with its glass windows and a satellite dish or two!

P1030069 © DY of jtdytravels

P1030069 © DY of jtdytravels

Several hearts were won by this little chap who blew kisses our way.

(P1030001  ©  DY  of jtdytravels)

(P1030001 © DY of jtdytravels)

Our main aim for the morning was to call in at a local school to leave some books, pens, pencils etc.

There’s no playground here!

Children and teachers (and visitors like us) arrive and leave by boat.

(P1100884  ©  DY  of jtdytravels)

(P1100884 © DY of jtdytravels)

While a small delegation from our group went in to deliver our donation to the teachers,

the rest of us waved to the children who hung out of the windows.

(P1030004  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

(P1030004 © DY of jtdytravels)

More children crowded into other windows to check out the visitors.

(P1030023  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

(P1030023 © DY of jtdytravels)

We were waved a cheerful goodbye.

At times like this, we wish we could speak the local language!

Our next visit was to a floating vegetable garden where they grow superb, very tasty tomatoes.

On the way, we saw several long boats full of weeds cut specially from the deeper parts of the lake and brought back to the village to help form the floating gardens of Inle Lake.

P1100892 © JT of jtdytravels

P1100892 © JT of jtdytravels

The floating gardens are built up of decomposing weed supported on wooden trellises anchored to the bottom of the lake by bamboo poles.  These gardens rise and fall with changes in the water level, and so are resistant to flooding.

The Intha farmers paddle up and down between the rows to tend their crops of tomatoes, squash, other fruit and vegetables and flowers.  The nutrient-laden water results in these gardens being very fertile.

P1030057  ©  DY of jtdytravels

P1030057 © DY of jtdytravels

Produce is collected into bamboo baskets or boxes for transportation to market.

Finally, after a very interesting morning, it was time to go back north up the river to Nyaung Shwe, the town that serves as the vegetable market hub for the lake farmers.

P1100939  ©  JT of jtdytravels

P1100939 © JT of jtdytravels

Here, in Nyaung Shwe, the produce is packed and transported to major cities like Mandalay and Yangoon.

P1100944  ©  JT of jtdytravels

P1100944 © JT of jtdytravels

At the marina in Nyaung Shwe our wonderful experience on Inle Lake came to an end. I do hope we go back some time.

P1100946  ©  JT of jtdytravels

P1100946 © JT of jtdytravels

After a delightful Intha lunch at View Point Restaurant,we drove to Heho Airport for our flight to the famed city of Mandalay.

And we’ll visit that city next time.

Jennie Thomas

All photographs © Jennie Thomas and David Young of jtdytravels

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