I returned to Noosa in Queensland, Australia for Christmas with my sister and mother. While there I walked from the southern end of Noosa National Park along the coastal track to Alexandria Bay where I had a swim with the jellyfish and enjoyed the relative solitude of a beautiful beach on the Pacific Ocean.
Northern end of Sunshine Beach
The coastal track leads from Sunshine Beach across a couple of small headlands to Alexandria Bay:
Looking north across Alexandria Bay
Its an unofficial nudist beach. The official one is over the next headland to the north,
There were quite a number of these large brown jellyfish washed up on the beach. I haven’t been able to identify them, and not sure if they differ from the blue blubber jellyfish in the following photo, because they have eaten brown algae.
“Brown” jellyfish (or maybe a blue blubber jellyfish that has not eaten lately?)
The blue blubber jellyfish gets its name from the blue-green algae that it eats, and that give it the blue colour.
Blue blubber jellyfish
Huge numbers of blue bottles were washing up also.
Blue bottles are common on Australian beaches and are a small cousin of the Portuguese Man-O-War. They are siphonophores and are actually a colony of several individuals known as “persons”. They have an irritating sting. I met a person on the beach who claimed to be Australian, but did not know what they were and was afraid to go in the water. I was suspicious that an Australian of middle age could exist who did not know about blue bottles.
You can see them in this wave. I told the frightened “Australian” that they were not a big deal, just added a certain “zing” to your surfing experience.
Blue bottles in the surf
The Pyramids of Euseigne are one of the more bizarre geological features created by the last ice age. They are in the Val d’Hérens, one of the southern side valleys off the Rhône valley of Switzerland. The entire Rhone valley and its side valleys were under glaciers at the height of the last ice age around 23,000 years ago. An old university friend who is a geologist visited Switzerland at the beginning of the year and invited me to join him for an exploration of some of the landscape features created by the glaciers of the last ice age.
In the photo below, my friend is looking south towards the junction of the Val d’Hérens and Val d’Hérémence where two glaciers met and continued down towards us. The pyramids are located on the ridge separating the two valleys, We are standing on the remnants of a glacial lake delta formed by the damming of the melt waters of the joined glaciers. The glaciers retreated about 11,000 years ago when humans expanded north back into Northern Europe and Britain again.
The Pyramids are the remnants of a ground moraine created from finely ground silt and sand with embedded larger boulders. Some of the boulders protected the underlying compacted silt from erosion, forming protective caps.
While visiting Noosa in July, I took my two boys on a kayak trip into the Noosa Everglades. Located in the Great Sandy National Park, the upper reaches of the Noosa River are a network of waterways, rivers, lakes and marshes and are best explored by kayak or canoe. The Everglades are situated in the Noosa Biosphere, which is one of Australia’s most diverse ecosystems and includes more than 40 per cent of the country’s bird species.
We drove about 20 km from Noosa to Booreen Point on Lake Cootharaba and crossed the lake in a larger boat to the mouth of the Upper Noosa River, where we changed to canoes, and continued into the Everglades by canoe. Lake Cootharaba is one of three large lakes connected to the Noosa River, the others are Lake Cooroibah and Lake Weyba.
The banks of the river are a mix of swampy grassland and subtropical forest, with patches of rainforest. There are lots of banksia trees and tea-trees. The tea-trees stain the water a deep brown colour from the tannin in their leaves. The Tea Tree, Melaleuca alternifolia, is an Australian native plant, and its leaves are also used to produce tea-tree oil, prized for its it’s anti-bacterial and anti-fungal prowess.
Upper Noosa River
We visited family in Noosa last month. Noosa is a resort area on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, about 150 km north of Brisbane. One afternoon we hired a small motorboat in Noosaville and went down the Noosa River towards Noosa Bar where the river joins the ocean.
I posted some photos of our July 2017 trip to the Great Barrier Reef here recently (A-trip-to-the-great-barrier-reef). Here is a 3 min video of my younger son and myself snorkelling on Opal Reef, 54 km off the Queensland coast at Port Douglas.
Just over 100 years ago my grandfather Will Mathers and his brother Tom, both in the 8th Australian Field Ambulance, took part in the Battle of the Somme, on the front line from 18 September 1916 to 8 November.
The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme Offensive, was fought by the armies of the British and French empires against the German Empire. It took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of upper reaches of the River Somme in France. It was the largest battle of the First World War on the Western Front; more than one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history. Tom kept a diary throughout the war [see Endnote 1] and his diary account provides a terse but graphic account of the experience of being a stretcher bearer on the front lines.