Tuesday, 29 January 2019

A Rainforest Walk - Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve

I really am blessed to live in such a beautiful area.  Not only do we have plenty of coastline with a multitude of beaches to choose from 20 - 30 minutes drive from home, but if we drive the same amount of time in the other direction we are firmly in another world of the hinterland area with its dairy farms, quaint towns, winding ranges and national parks.

One of my favourite places to go is Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve near the town of Maleny which is a beautiful 55 hectare piece of sub-tropical rainforest situated on the edge of the Blackall Ranges and overlooks the Glasshouse Mountains area.

(I live just out of the left of the picture in the above photo)

The visitors centre and café have had a huge facelift in the past couple of years but the views and the park are still very much the same.

There's a viewing platform above the café now which gives you an amazing view of the mountains and the Pacific Ocean behind them.  On a clear day you can see our state capital city of Brisbane in the distance and Moreton Island off the coast as well.

If you don't want something yummy from the café then you can always bring your own picnic along as there's a lovely area with tables, barbeques, a playground and a nice big grassy area to kick a ball around.

The reserve itself is accessed through the new Rainforest Discovery Centre with it's beautifully carved wooden doors.  The centre has interactive displays which detail the flora and fauna of the park as well as the history.  Our favourite section of the centre is the nocturnal room where you can sit for a few minutes and experience what it can be like at night.

From the centre you enter the Reserve itself for just a gold coin donation.  Yes, you read that right.

The reserve is run by the Sunshine Coast Council and volunteers and requires only a gold coin donation from each person to experience it.  It's so worth it.

The tracks are well maintained and form mainly a loop which even if you dawdle like I did on this particular day, will take less than an hour.

There are so many different varieties of trees throughout the reserve including the ever present and spectacular Strangling Figs as well as other fig varieties including the Watkin's Fig.

There are plaques placed throughout the Reserve identifying many of the tree varieties including the Australian Red Cedar, Tulip Oaks, Black Bean and many others.

One of the things I love most about rainforests is the textures from the knobbly bases to the draping roots and the ever present vines tangling throughout the vegetation.

The paths are well maintained and meander throughout the reserve down a gentle slope to the wetter creek area where areas where they are replaced by boardwalks.

Even in a small area you can see how much the vegetation can change when you do get to the wetter areas and the Piccabeen Palms are the main trees you will see in this section.

The decaying undergrowth is quite spectacular as well so make sure you look down too.  The moss on old fallen trees creates some amazing scenes and the various fungus which grows can be spectacular, especially after we've had a decent amount of rain.

The one thing I love is that when a tree falls over like the one in the below photo it doesn't get 'tidied' up.

This particular tree came down in a cyclone we had a couple of years ago and except for clearing bits off the path and boardwalk to make it safe for visitors, it's left where it fell to become a home for animals and to do what nature does best.

It's created more light in this area so a new stage of growth is now possible and the natural cycle continues.

There are plenty of seats along the paths too so you can sit and have a rest if needed or just enjoy the sounds of the birds and soak in the tranquillity.

It's not just trees either.  There's an abundance of wildlife in the Reserve, many of which you need to look hard to spot.  The Visitor centre has so much information on the species which are found in the park so it's worth having a look before you go in.

The bird sounds are a constant and you will often find bird watchers walking around with their HUGE camera lenses searching for the elusive ones.

The pademelons are often seen throughout the upper parts of the Reserve but you do need to look out for them as they can be difficult to spot if you're not looking in the undergrowth.

They are a small rainforest wallaby and most of the time I hear something moving through the undergrowth first, then I start looking around until I find one. 

Looking up you find plenty of treasures too.  I have absolutely no idea what the nest in the below photo belongs to but there's plenty of wonderful things like this throughout the Reserve that I try and get the kids to look out for when I take them up there. 

It gets them to stop, look and think about where they are and a treasure hunt for animals or nests and things stop them racing along the tracks (sometimes anyway).

So that's where I go when I need a tree fix instead of a beach fix and if you're ever in the area I highly recommend you visit as it's such a beautiful place.

Have a wonderful week my friends.

xx Susan

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Yarn Trail - Rosabella Threads

I mentioned in a previous post that I was off on my own personal Yarn Trail hunt which basically involves me finding shops and places within my local area where I can buy yarn.

I wasn't expecting to hit the JACKPOT all in squealing, happy dance capitals so quickly and it all came about from a woman at a quilting shop mentioning Rosabella Threads and saying they were from near Toowoomba (about a 2 - 2 1/2 hour drive from my house).

I went home and looked online and immediately fell in love with what they had to offer and their story.  I fully intended to buy online, just to try out some of the yarn but then fate stepped in and we took Miss R up to Toowoomba over the weekend so she could stay with a friend.

I contacted them to say I was heading through that way on Monday and could I have a look at their stock.  More squealy happy dances when they said that I was more than welcome to call into their farm.

So after picking Miss R up from her friends, we made the short detour to the farm where we got to see the Angora goats which produce the beautiful mohair fibres for the yarn.

There were alpacas on the farm too but they were, very sensibly, down the back in the shade as it was pretty hot.

George, the resident Corgi, was on hand to supervise selection and to get the odd pat or two.

Then there are the yarns.  Oh my!  They are gorgeous and so soft.  The colours are beautiful too and is all hand dyed by the lovely Dianne who looked after us and showed us a wonderful selection.

I could have squished and dithered there all afternoon but decided that I would buy a small selection to make something just for me.  I can always buy more online or go for a drive another day when I start planning a few more projects.  In the end I bought a little teaser selection for me to start off with.

I usually go for blues and greys (of which there was a really wonderful selection of), but I was drawn to the Rose in the Prima range so went with my instincts.  I couldn't help myself and ended up buying a couple of skeins of the silver as well  :)

The yarn really is gorgeously soft and the colours are exquisite and I'm already having to reign in my overactive mind which is planning up so many projects.  I'll need years to complete the ones that popped into my mind while I was looking at the yarn so I've come home to collect myself, have a think and a plan and then work out what I want... one project at a time. (Wish me luck with that...LOL!)

I wanted to leave you with one last photo of the farm which is actually one of my favourites.  Dianne said that it wasn't at its best because it's so dry.

I love it because it's the reality of living on the land and the passion that producers like Dianne and Peter live with through the seasons and the years.  Rain hasn't been seen here since October and it's probably been longer up on the range.

We were there in the middle of a really hot day so there's a heat haze which I think showed up the parched ground in it's perfect harshness.

I can also imagine that late in the afternoon, the muted light would soften the harshness and there would be lots of warm colours making it look really beautiful.

I also want to add that I'm not affiliated with Rosabella Threads in any way.  Any opinions on my blog are mine alone and if I find something that I love then I'll happily gush about it.

Having said that, if you want to find out more about Rosabella Threads  and have a look at the range of yarn they have to offer, then click on their name and the link will take you to their website which will more accurately tell their story better than I am able to.

I hope you all have a wonderful week.  It's the last week of the school holidays here and I can see at least some of my days taken up with working on my new, pretty pink yarn!

xx Susan

Sunday, 20 January 2019

A better week and a Yarn Trail idea

Thank you so much for your comments after my last post.  It's quite amazing how a little comment from some kind person in cyber space can help lift the spirits and help keep you afloat.

You will be happy to hear that things are going great this week and a lot of that is because hubby has been home to help out.  That means that I've been sleeping better and I have someone to share the parenting duties with.  Hubby also took the kids out the other day and I was sent off for a massage so I'm a new and revived woman!

We have been to the movies again and then went out to dinner afterwards which was a bit of a novelty.  If we do go out it's usually for breakfast or lunch, rarely dinner so I'm sure the kids will be excused for arm wrestling at the table.

I like to let the kids experience different things and places as it helps develop the social skills which don't come easily to them.  We live in such a café culture and I want them to get used to the fact that some places you order at the counter and others offer table service.  

It might not seem a big thing to some people but it's little details like that which can confuse and stress them so I to make it as casual and easy for them as possible.

It was also a gorgeous summer's evening too so we took the opportunity of going for a walk along the edge of the Mooloolaba River near Point Cartwright after dinner.

There's a path which follows the river to its mouth and the surf which is where we wandered.  There were a few trawlers coming in and going out as well as some fishermen out in their boats hoping for a good catch on a beautiful, balmy evening.

I have to say that the path wasn't well lit so we were lucky that the moon was close to full which gave us enough light to see.

We've got a couple of quiet days left now until hubby goes back to work and most of the school supplies have been bought so it will just be doing what makes us happy for the last week of the holidays.

A couple of weeks ago, in the middle of my struggles, a germ of an idea was created and it's something that I'm pretty excited about.

I've decided to begin my own personal Yarn Trail (well that's what I'm calling it as it sounds better than finding yarn shops).

I usually buy my yarn online or sometimes at the craft superstores like Spotlight.  The only problem with doing that is that I'm limited in the stock that's available in the superstores.  There's usually only certain brands and a lot of it is acrylic.  There's obviously much more choice online but I can't see the actual colours or squish the balls to find out if I like the feel of them.

I read a couple of blog posts from some lovely people in the UK who go to local yarn shops and decided that I needed to find out where they are near me.  It's also an excuse for me to get out of the house more which is one thing I want and need to do this year. 

I'm giving myself a radius of about one and a half to two hours drive from my house so that I can drop the kids at school, explore and be home for school pick up.  Of course I'm not always going to go this far.  In my brief research I have found that there are many possibilities within a half hour drive so I'll definitely see what some of them have to offer.

So my yarn trail started in the township of Maleny the other day when I had my much needed day out.  It's an artisan town in the hinterland and an old dairy farming area.  It's a place I used to know well as I went to high school here but hadn't visited in quite awhile so I decided it was time to get to know one of my old haunts again.

The first place I went to was the Arts and Crafts shop which is where the many talented people of the Maleny Arts and Crafts collective can sell their wares.

Inside is a treasure trove of quilts, sewn items, pottery, paintings, woodworking, knitting, and crochet items, all made from the talented people of the area.

After a brief look at some of the gorgeous pottery and wood items, I headed straight to the back to the fibre section.  There were some beautiful shawls and scarves on display but as I was just starting out on my yarn trail, I was on the lookout for... well...yarn.  

I did find a small shelf with some beautiful hand dyed yarn but nothing really jumped out at me that made me want to buy.  I think some of it was hand spun too but not all of the labels stated this.  Most of it just said hand dyed.

As it's only about a 20 minute drive from home I can always drive up periodically when I want to get out of the house and see if there's some new stock that will appeal.

Another shop that had potential was Sapling Textiles but the yarn stock was very limited.  In fact I think there was only about 20 balls in a small corner but if it's fabric you want, oh my!  The silks were gorgeous and it's definitely not your run of the mill fabric shop.  I think if I sewed more than crocheted I would nearly send us broke buying some of the gorgeous fabric that was in here.

I also called into Maleny Magic Patchworks and Quilts on the way home as it wasn't far out of my way.  If you're after quilting fabric then this is certainly the place to go as the range was pretty amazing but unfortunately they had no yarn except for a couple of scarf kits.

I didn't expect there to be much yarn in a quilting shop but I'm treating it like a treasure hunt because I know some quilting places stock yarn as well.  All was not lost though as the friendly and very helpful lady who ran the shop told me about a certain yarn I had never heard of.

More on that next week though because as a quirk of fate would have it, that tiny little comment the lady made is sending me off on my next yarn trail adventure.

I also won't be going on my yarn trail each week either.  If  I did that I would accumulate a stash of yarn bigger that my house and send us broke in the process!!  I'll just be toddling off every now and then when I am able so I can see this going on for years so it will be more of a slow rambling yarn trail.

Happy weekend everyone.

xx Susan

Tuesday, 15 January 2019


I had intended to do a nice, light post but I feel it is a bit beyond me right now.

The reality is that I'm struggling.  I often do when we're in the final weeks of the school holidays and all the little, and not so little things build up.  I've become quite adept over the years at dealing with it all but I find that no matter what strategies I use and things I put in place to make it easier, it's still a struggle.

We had plenty of extra kids over during the day recently and even though it's fun at the time and I'm happy to help out other people when needed, it really takes its toll.

I've mentioned before that both my kids are on the Autism Spectrum and both of them have sensory issues in various degrees for different things but too much noise and stimulation can really add up.  It got to the stage where they both weren't coping well with one child very noisily freaking out and making it known to everyone and the other pretty well 'shutting down'.

So the last week has been dealing with two gorgeous and quirky kids.  My sister had Miss R for a night which was a wonderful blessing for us all.  It gave the kids a break from each other too and something different for my girl to focus on.

When we have moments like this I usually have trouble sleeping so when a good nights sleep is more important than ever, I find myself tossing and turning and good old insomnia kicks in. That means I'm tired, cranky and have a lot less patience so I'm not at my finest as a mother.  It's a reality that we all deal with and when I hear people talking about someone being the perfect mother I get twitchy.  I mean, didn't the 1950's housewives have a stash of cooking sherry somewhere!

The worst seems to be over for now and I'm finding that I need to plan the rest of the school holidays around what triggers there may be for the kids.  We'll get there, we always do.  We don't have a choice really except cope with it and deal with what's in front of us at the time.  One day at a time is how we're working on things right now, sometimes we work on getting through to lunch, then the afternoon, evening etc and break it down if needed.

A huge positive is the fact that hubby will be home around 3 am tomorrow and will be here for 5 days before he has to head back to work again.  Yay! Let's hope it's not too much of a mad house he lands in.

Thanks for listening my friends and remember to look for the little positives in your day.

xx Susan

Sunday, 13 January 2019

This week I'm loving.....


I don't seem to be getting as much of this done as I would like.

It's been really busy around here lately with extra kids, outings and sleepovers.  I seem to be doing things in small bursts and snatching a few moments here and there to catch up on some of my projects.

I have finished my Winter Mist Shawl and took a quick snap of it just to show you.

It's made out of a brushed alpaca / silk mix and is the softest and lightest shawl I've ever made.  It's gorgeous!

I'm also working on an easy shawl in a ball  which is my latest portable project.  It's a no think shawl and is slowly growing because as I said, it's really busy here now and my crochet time seems to be limited.  It's the perfect project for these school holidays though.

Sleepovers and play days

My house seems to be a revolving door of children lately.  I've had plenty of extra kids here during the day which equates to a LOT of extra noise.  The kids have also had a sleepover at friend's or relatives for a night, both at different times so I've still had one with me which has been a fun night of one on one time.

Master M and his mate had a big night when they went out for his friend's birthday.  It took its toll the next day and when I went to find out why they were so quiet, I realised they were crashed!


On the brief occasions that hubby is home from work we've made the most of it.  We went for a drive and picnic one day which I can't believe I have no photos of.

We also went to see How to Train Your Dragon 3 at the movies which was loved by us all, especially the kids.

While hubby was home I took the chance to escape for a day.  I needed it as it had reached that stage in the holidays when the kids wouldn't stop bickering and I had hardly had a moment since early December that didn't involve constant noise and interruptions.  I think I was about to go postal so hubby took over parenting duties and I had the best day out.

I knew I couldn't handle noisy shops or anywhere too busy so headed about 15 minutes up the hill to Mary Cairncross Park which ended up being just what I needed.

Coffee and journal time at the café was the perfect way to get my thoughts in order and then I headed into the park to enjoy some time meandering in nature.

It was the best pick me up and I've got a ton of photos so I'll take you for a walk through here when I get a bit more time to organise them all.


I LOVE food and my days out always require me to find somewhere nice to enjoy something tasty that I don't have to prepare myself.

A tasty snack of spiced fruit toast with a raspberry and finger lime jam was perfect to fortify me during my walk around Mary Cairncross.

I ended up spending the rest of the afternoon wandering around the town of Maleny with its artisan boutiques and plenty of cafes.  The salmon and asparagus quiche was incredible!

That's just a few snippets of the past week or so.

I hope you're all having a great weekend.

xx Susan