Sunday, May 16, 2010

UP, Up We Go……

We have just pulled into Airlie Beach this morning and it has been an interesting ride up the coast of central Queensland. Mooloolaba was a great stop providing us the opportunity to catch up with old friends and visit all of our favourite parts of the Sunshine Coast. We ate out at our favourite restaurants including having a real iced coffee at the Baked Poetry café in Peregian and then on to Aromas for lunch in Hastings Street Noosa. Our spot in Mooloolaba was near perfect and absolute beachfront. Unfortunately our neighbour parked himself all of two metres from our caper and chain smoked for the final four days of our stay which was very disappointing. The clean fresh air was not quite the same and poor little Gussy had to endure smoke coming into his bed day and night. Needless to say we ended up spending a lot of time getting out and about including some special beach walks. At one stage the girls packed their backpack with supplies including first aid, sleeping bag, hammer, binoculars amongst other items and headed down to the beach for a 'woman vs wild' experience. They collected dead crabs to eat, found a small cave to set up camp and made a fire to sit by. Aren't kids and their imaginations just fascinating to watch? The girls have been doing well with their homeschool, in fact Maggie has finished her year 2 maths work and her teacher has put her up to year 3 maths for the remainder of our time, she feels very special! Indy went on to her college website and downloaded a heap of work from her teacher which sent her head spinning for a few days. True to form though Indy sat down and planned her way forward. We had a nice evening with our friends Gary and Judy having drinks by the beach before being joined by Amber and Corey for pizzas and an opportunity for a catch up. Judy and Amber are both very close friends of ours and we have so many special memories of our time with them up here. Our final night we headed over to the Westys and the kids disappeared upstairs for the night while Gus was in boy heaven with the biggest box of cars and trains you have ever seen. The three Westy boys had accumulated good supplies over the years and Gus took full advantage. Dave and Dan cooked us up some roast ckicken and vegies which was very thoughtful given we haven't had an oven cooked meal for some time, we had a great night. We offloaded our surfboards and guitars at the Westys to lighten the load a little and packed for the trip up to Cairns. As we were leaving Mooloolaba we drove past the road sign which read over 1600km to Cairns. We plugged in Mt Martha into the GPS which said 1800 km to home. It was quite sobering to realise just how far we had come yet we still had so far to travel.

Our first stop we pushed up past Bundaberg to a small beach side town called Bargara. We were in a park just off the beach which was ok, probably quite nice but compared to what we were used to it seemed a little average. Unfortunately Gus had surrended to the lurgy and was quite unwell. We went to the doctors for an assurance that there was nothing serious and got the all clear to proceed. I unfortunately had a bit of work to do, a tender for an important client, that took up some time and we ended up in Bundaberg couriering it to Victoria before moving on up the coast. We made it all the way to Rockhampton for our next stop. Again a pretty average stop in a large regional centre. Park was ok, pools were very cold and another trip to the doctors, this time for antibiotics for Gus. Getting the medicine was one thing, getting it into the little man was proving a whole other challenge. He is at that stage now where if he doesn't want to do something he just won't do it. We tried talking to him, bribing him, roughing him up, nothing was working. In the end he just got so sick that at one point he just laid back and took his medicine. From that point forward he behaved and within a matter of a day or two he was back on his feet and looking much better. We had a hit of tennis and a swim in the pool before packing up and heading on again. You will notice the descriptions getting shorter as the places are getting less interesting as we go. After two fairly average stops we were hoping for something a little special. Bec had discovered a little spot called Cape Hillsborough national park which was a little off the beaten track but took us out of the next regional centre just past Mackay and back to the coast. We weren't sure what to expect, but again that is the great part of this trip, just rocking up with fingers crossed and seeing what you get. Well thankyou God, this was a cracker of a spot. Again we were right on the beach with just such a beautiful aspect. It was highly tidal so in the morning the sand goes on forever and then at other points in the day the tide comes in and the beach all but disappears. There were millions of tiny crabs on the beach that spent the day rolling these little balls of sand which after a few hours covered the entire beach, it was quite a sight. the tide comes in and the beach all but disappears. There were millions of tiny crabs on the beach that spent the day rolling these little balls of sand which after a few hours covered the entire beach, it was quite a sight. It was very special to be back on the beach and back to our routine of morning cuppas walking on the beach letting Gus run free as far as he wanted to.

Yesterday was a special day being Maggie's 8th birthday. Indy went to a lot of trouble decorating the camper and we all made an extra fuss of Mags given she had no family or friends at her party and we had no phone reception so she didn't get her usual birthday calls from all of her admirers. We woke up to pressies on the bed and then Indy made Mags her breakfast of pancakes with maple syrup and salt and vinegar chips on the side, just the way she likes it. We went out for a beach walk and were hoping to cross the causeway to a little island called Orchid Island only to find that the tide had come in and there was no longer a causeway. No bother, we just turned North and headed the other way along the beach exploring the coast. Indy found a large rock formation just in the water and proceed to take her and Maggie up to the top (refer the photo). It was actually quite high and Indy remarked on the way down that this was the "amazing experience of her life". The park had a very nice pool which we took full advantage of as the girls were given a day off of homeschool for Maggie's birthday. We couldn't bake a cake for Mags but put together a cake made up of lamingtons and snow mallows which was a definite hit. After a few party games and lunch we decided to try the causeway to Orchid Island in the afternoon with the tide abating. Once we got to the causeway we realised it was not going to be an easy walk. With no shoes on Indy and I we tried to walk on the pile of rocks that was the bridge to the island only to find many of them covered in oyster shells. Whilst carrying Gus I lost my footing a little and as I reached for balance and put my foot down I sliced the bottom of my foot on several oyster shells and our adventure to Orchid Island was over. Still we enjoyed a long and quiet stroll along the beach back to our camper. There were some beautiful shells to find as well as this gold fleck in the sand that was quite unique. Gus has got into a habit of rock throwing at the moment which is not a real problem except for two things, one he likes to throw them at our car, and two he sometimes throws them straight up in the air which also means they come straight down from the air. On the way back he did one of his big throws, straight up and down and on his head producing a nice little egg on his head for his troubles. Indy and Mags grabbed a container for their sand crab catch and we all made the leisurely stroll back to the camper. That evening we enjoyed the fish and chips put on by the park managers and Mags chose one of her favourite movies for us to watch. During the movie Mags fell asleep and proceeded to snore her way through the final stages of the movie and her birthday. Needless to say she had a wonderful day and Indy was the perfect big sister, who even presented Mags with a voucher for 5 favours (including hugs and kisses if required). It was a great day.

The park was a good one, frequented by the usual evening visits from the bats, several kangaroos (one that thought it was a dog lying out the front of someone's caravan dead to the world asleep, very cute), wasps (including a nest not far from our camper), crabs, hermit crabs, a very inquisitive possum and a very cute little green tree frog. This morning on our final morning we went for one last long and slow stroll (or should I say limp) along the beach. As we were down there (tide out this time) three kangaroos came hopping down to the water's edge. Two of them were obviously vying for pack position and proceeded to spar on in front of us as we enjoyed their company. Here we were just Bec, Gus and I and three kangaroos on this long stretch of beach, it was quite beautiful. This stop was just what we needed after several long drives and a couple of average stops. We are on a bit of a mission getting up to Cairns and this is the most driving we have done with the most number of short stops and it is getting to be a bit of a grind. This stop was just what we needed though. This morning we packed up and fortunately only had a short drive of about 130kms from Cape Hillsborough to Airlie Beach. As usual there are the grey nomads cruising around Australia at 75km an hour, quite dangerous really. At one point we saw coming in the other direction one nomad with about 6 semi trailers, 4 caravans and about 10 cars banked up behind it. I am not sure why they haven't learnt the art of pulling over to let the traffic by, it isn't that hard. We will often pull across to the side, slow down a few k's and let the cars go by, it takes all of the stress out of the drive for everybody. Anyway we have decided to stay at a big 4 park to give the kids a few activities to do (waterslides, jumping pillow, mini golf, outdoor cinema etc) and we have also gone for the ensuite site. The ensuite site, equipped with our very own toilet and shower is like heaven after you have endured the long night walks to the toilet and stood lining up for your shower at night. The kids love being able to go to the toilet at any time and have their own shower. We had a quick drive into the town this morning and it looks amazing, with a large lagoon for the kids to enjoy and an amazing marina. We are looking at booking a trip out to the reef in the next couple of days which should be very special and something we are really looking forward to. We will stay here for 3-4 nights before pressing on to Townsville and then Cairns. It will be great to spend a few nights here, kids are happy, no driving and get to see the reef. After all the reef is a big part of why we have made the journey up here. We are planning to go by boat to knuckle reef on a cruiser that hooks up with a pontoon, has a waterslide for the kids, has snorkelling, viewing chambers in the boat and lunch and other snacks provided through the day. We can't wait. The weather is a very pleasant 27 degrees and calm. That's all for now, talk with you soon.

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