Monday, September 6, 2010

Rainbow Beach lifesavers

Rainbow Beach surf lifesavers patrol the beach in front of the surf tower on weekends from September to April and all week during school holidays.  Always swim between the flags for your safety!  No cars are allowed to drive through the the safe swimming area.

Rainbow Beach is a 23 km long, curving beach located in Wide Bay, stretching between Inskip Point (which is opposite the southern tip of Fraser Island) and Double Island Point. The open bay faces north-east and the beaches in the bay face variously north, east and north-east as they swing around between the two points.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beach craft | Pandanus People

The Pandanus palm is one of the iconic plants of the Sunshine Coast.  Around Rainbow Beach, Pandanus palms cling to perilious positions along the ever changing sand dunes.
Our beach craft Pandanus people were made from the phalanges of the large fruit, bleached by the ocean and washed up onto the beach.  At some stage a worm or insect has bored holes through the flesh -- often in incredibly fortuitous positions!   We could not believe how easily they looked like funny little people.

We added some creative touches to turn the stringy fibres into arms, skirt and even plaited hair.  The outer case of the Pandanus phalanges is so fibrous it is even used as a natural dental floss.

To finish our beach craft, we glued the Pandanus onto a cork board.

More about Pandanus tectorius

Pandanus plams found on the Sunshine Coast have a large orange fruit made up 40 to 200 wedge-like phalanges.  The Phalanges contain the seeds, can remain viable for many months while being washed around the ocean currents.

The fruit can be eaten raw or cooked and is a major source of food on some island nations. The tree's leaves are often used as flavoring for sweet dishes (you might have seen Pandanus often featured in Alvin's dishes on MasterChef . The leaves are used by Polynesians to make baskets, mats, outrigger canoe sails, thatch roofs and grass skirts.

Jamella leafhopper dieback
The Jamella leafhopper has been responsible for the dieback and death of many Pandanus along the Cooloola coastline but has so far not been noted on Fraser Island.  The leaf hopper can be controlled with pesticides, but needs constant vigilance. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sand city and driftwood aliens

Winter at the beach is beautiful in its own blustery, bracing way.  It's a chance to appreciate the rich colours of nature not washed out by a harsh sun.  It's fun to walk along the beach rugged up against the chill and not bake in the heat.  Then it's home to a lovely warm shower, cup of tea and game of Monopoly.  Happily, we also had days that were warm enough to swim and lay on the beach in our togs (swimmers for non-Queenslanders!).

These images were captured by the children on an afternoon beach walk.  They were fascinated by the "sand city" - like a distant view of city skyscrapers.

Rainbow Beach has loads of driftwood washed up against the rocks.  The sandscape along the beach changes so often that it appears and disappears daily.   We love exploring the distorted, weathered shapes and discovering alien creatures.

And capturing bleached white driftwood against the black coffee rock.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Aquatic Centre for Rainbow Beach by mid 2011

Source: media release from the Federal Minister for Infrastructure Rainbow Beach will have a $2 million Aquatic Centre with a 10 lane pool and gymnasium by mid July 2011 thanks to community fundraising and Federal Government funding.

The project is expected to support 20 jobs during construction, as well as another six jobs over the longer term, delivering an economic boost for Rainbow Beach.

Senator Ludwig said, "This is about giving a real lift to the Gympie region by providing a much-needed year-round aquatic, sporting and recreational facility.  It will also increase swimming safety and awareness through the learn-to-swim and surf life saving training activities."

The Gympie Regional Council project is expected to include:
  • Construction and fit out of the Rainbow Beach Aquatic Centre including a new pool and gymnasium facilities;
  • Energy and water saving measures; and
  • Art and landscaping which reflects the local Indigenous heritage.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Whale spotting at Rainbow Beach

Humpack whale fluke

Why do whales pass by Rainbow Beach from June to October?
According to Each year most of the large whales in the southern oceans follow a general migration pattern. Summer is spent in the cold waters of Antarctica, where they feed on enormous quantities of the prawn-like krill. In Autumn, as the temperature falls and ice begins to form on the sea surface, the whales migrate northward to more temperate waters to give birth and breed before returning to Antarctic waters at the end of Spring.

Consequently, large whales are most likely to be seen in South East Queensland waters between June and October.  From about May to August and later, humpback whales migrate north along the east and west coasts of Australia to breeding areas off Queensland, Western Australia and possibly waters further north. From September to December they return to feeding areas in the Antarctic.
Sometimes humpback whales can even be seen from April to November depending on the season. 
Image from

From the high sand dunes along Rainbow Beach and from Carlo Sand Blow you can be lucky to see passing whales that have come into the bay for a rest on their long journey.  Particularly on their return journey, we often see a mother and her new baby calf playing and resting in the shallow waters along the beach.

The headland at Double Island Point is the best vantage point, as the whales pass by quite close to the shore.  Allow yourself plenty of time to sit and watch and remember some binocculars!

Which species of whales migrate past Rainbow Beach?

Humpback whales.  Check out this fact sheet which has a good illustration on the features to look for in identifying Humpack whales Humpack Whales of Eastern Australia.  The name humpback whale describes the motion the whale makes as it arches its back out of the water in preparation for a dive.  They have a stocky body with obvious humps and black upper parts. The head and lower jaw are covered with small, round bumps on the front of the head called knobs or tubercles,

Most often you will first see their blow - a double spray of water.  You can also spot:
Breaching - leaping out of the water
Pec slapping - the pectoral fins, which are up to one-third of a Humpback whale body length, have rough edges are the largest flippers of any whale.
The tail and flukes - which are lifted high in the air as they dive.
This website has excellent info on whale species found in Australian waters and how to recognise them at sea

Amazing photo of a Humpback whale and dolphin playing together from the Smithsonian website.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Double Island Point lighthouse at sunset

At the southern end of Rainbow Beach is Double Island Point, which is about one hour drive from Rainbow Beach via Freshwater Track and Teewah Beach.  To reach the Double Island Point lighthouse, park at the very end of the beach and then walk up the signposted track about 600 metres.  The beginning and end sections are quite steep, so you do need energy, water and hats.  We were lucky to see masses of Blue Tiger (or Blue Wanderer) butterflies in the She-oak (Casuarina) trees.  Blue Tiger butterflies migrate each year from North Queensland to South East Queensland around March-April.

Double Island Point lighthouse is still an important functioning lighthouse.  When it was built in 1884 the lantern burnt oil, then in 1923 vaporised kerosene, later it was converted to electric power and in 1992 it was automated and converted to solar power.
Lichen grows on a rock with one of the historic lighthouse keepers' cottages in the background.  Noosa Parks Association volunteers are undertaking the huge task of ridding Double Island Point of introduced weeds and revegetation with native plants.

Excerpt from Accidental-Greenie eco blog: Have you ever sat on the beautiful beach at Noosa or walked through the National Park and thought "thank goodness there is no high rise in Noosa"?

In 1969, Noosa Council had approved a high rise development on the beach side of Hastings Street and in the late 70's was proposing a 12 storey limit on the other side of Hastings Street.  Today, there is a three storey limit.  How this happened is the story of two legendary couples, Arthur and Marjorie Harrold and Bill and Mavis Huxley, and the volunteer organisation they founded, Noosa Parks Association (NPA).

Queensland's Noosa and Cooloola National Park region works its magic on all who are fortunate to visit.  Noosa is one of our most valuable tourism destinations because the concrete development has harmonised with the natural beauty of rainforest scrambling down coastal headland to pristine beaches.

We also have these people to thank for there being no coastal road around Noosa Heads and the existence of the Cooloola section of the Great Sandy National Park stretching from Noosa River to Double Island point.  In the 60s and 70s, this area was destined to be ripped apart for sand mining and when the miners moved on, suburban development would have moved in.

The NPA and the people that have volunteered their time and hearts since 1962 are true legends of conservation.  Today, the NPA is regarded around the world as a shining light for successful community environmental organisation.  Unlike well known single issue battles such as the Franklin and Gordon River, the NPA has relentlessly fought and won successive battles over 40 years.

If you are looking for the best water bottle, visit Biome in Brisbane for a wide range of drink bottles, glass water bottles, stainless steel, leak proof and BPA free water bottles.