Day 19 – Spider Day & Botanical Gardens

We are basically getting ready for our trip on Friday to the Blue Mountains (just west of Sydney) so it’s been a ‘stay close to home and do laundry’ day really. Big thanks to Lori and Lynda for that!! So, it was spider day. Not real spiders or I would, of course, have nothing to do with it, but it’s in Lori’s big book of things so we had to cross him off the list. It’s essentially a gigantic redback spider that is crawling over a dunny. This is ironic for a couple of reasons 1) redback spiders are actually very small, and 2) 80% of reported spider bites happened when someone was out in the dunny. Uhhh, another thing that separates us from animals (right after shoes); indoor plumbing. Take this time to thank the God of Indoor Plumbing for bestowing us with such luxury. Spiders are bad enough, but I certainly wouldn’t want to come close to death with a redback sticking in fangs in my ass. Frig that. The spider and his dunny are located at a local garden centre called Redback Landscaping. There’s a test later btw.

After the spider we took a trip to Jurassic Park (as Lori calls it), more commonly known as the Botanical Gardens. We briefly walked through this on one of the earlier ‘orientation’ days but I wanted to go back as they were so lovely! I’ve never IN MY LIFE seen poinsettias growing OUT OF THE GROUND. In greenhouses yes, in pots yes, never in a garden. This was the southern hemisphere equivalent to Lori being freaked out that everyone in Canada has Christmas trees growing on their lawns, well not everyone but you know what I mean – we have forests of them, literally. So at said Botanical Gardens we met up with a bunch of lizards – Eastern Water Dragons technically. One of them “charged” Lori…she isn’t fond of reptiles of any kind – much like my spider hatred. So our leisurely walk through gorgeous gardens was happening while Lori was at Defcon 5 Lizard Watch. At one point we were sitting on a bench, and I pointed and gasped as I saw what looked exactly like a robin, but it was all grey with a yellow beak. Pretty cool I thought, until Lori jumped out of her skin yelling “WHAT?! WHAT?!”. Probably not a good idea to get overly exited about birds during a Defcon 5 event. My bad Lori….

Aside from mini dinosaurs and grey robins, I saw lots of huge bamboo which was so fascinating, and lots of other tropical plants that we buy from Ikea and put on our dining tables or in the dark corners of rooms to brighten them up. I love bamboo, and now that I’ve sat in a mini forest of them, I can assure you they make the nicest sound in the breeze, with the rustling leaves and the bamboo stalks clacking together. Very cool.

After the gardens was some urban shopping at the Queen Street Mall – it’s on Queen Street – keep it simple!! And we strolled along the Brisbane Arcade – not a gaming arcade, but a row of shops that were simply too expensive to even go in. I did see a very nice 20,000 solitaire diamond ring though, perhaps Scott can bring me back for our 10th anniversary?

High/Low

High: the botanical gardens – it was a perfect day!

Low: freaking Lori out unnecessarily by pointing at birds.

WOD: jumbuck. a sheep (heard it in Waltzing Matilda – I could create MANY MORE Wod’s from that song…)

Day 18 – Country Drive

We are between road trips right now, the Great Barrier Reef behind me, Sydney and the Blue Mountains ahead. We leave Friday afternoon on our next road adventure, so until then what do we do? Well, it’s all about visiting things I’d like a second look at! Definitely I’d like to hit the Sunshine Coast again, and I loved the Hinterland which is just inland from the Sunshine Coast.

So it was off to the Hinterland. Thus time we were going to stop in Maleny, as we only cruised through there before, but stopped in Montville. Both are up in mountain ranges and are absolutely beautiful! The only downside is they don’t leave a lot of room for photographers to pull over and take pictures!! Last time I didn’t get enough snaps of the landscape so we were determined to make it work this time 🙂 This time, we were more successful which was great.

We tried stopping in Maleny but there was no where to park. It was a Brisbane holiday for the Ekka – similar to our CNE, and they get a public holiday to go, so we figured it was busier because of that. We decided to find this dairy farm Lori had heard about. What was it called Carolyn? Well, Maleny Dairy of course!! Keep it simple!! Got some great photos of cows, sheep, landscape. It’s a good place to bring families, they do sell milk products, and food, but they don’t mind if you bring your own and have a picnic there – which is nice.

After the dairy farm, we drove back to Brisbane via Mount Mee. The roads are so twisty-turny, uphill and downhill that they have a real problem with motorcycle crashes. And it’s true! We must’ve seen at least a dozen bikes speeding up and down the road, passing people, being crazy risky. They even have road signs with motorcycles on them telling them to slow down, and marking out crash zones. So if you ever feel inclined to die on a bike in Australia, go to Mount Mee, they can hook you up. Come on people!! It’s 2013 not 1950! Be safe for goodness sake!! Moving on….

This evening the girls (Lynny and Kerri) came over for supper, and to look at photos from Dreamworld and Lori’s birthday breakfast. Always good to see them, they’re good people – Lynny’s a nut…she reminds me of me!! Tomorrow (technically today once I get my butt in gear) is the dunny spider!! Stay tuned!!

High/Low
High: the beautiful country side
Low: Lori was trying to decide where we should go for my last supper here. How depressing!!
WOD: Yobbo. Like a drongo, a general insult basically calling someone an idiot. 😉

Day 16 – The Drive Home

We started early today, naturally, we were pretty much on the road by 6am, and headed for some things on our ‘Big Stuff’ list, like the pineapple and the macadamia nut. Our first stop was back in Sarina for the big Cane Toad!! I took some snaps early in the morning, more beautiful pics of foggy mist, mountains and sugar cane – didn’t realize how big it can get, I now have pics to prove it. Next stop was Rockhampton for a final family visit, and pics of the Big Bull that welcomes everyone to Rocky, he also says goodbye, he’s in the middle of a roundabout, AND pics of the Big Dugong! So hello to Leslie and her grand kids. Lori’s mom was there again too – hello Nana! A dugong by the way, is something like a manatee, they pretty much describe them as cows of the sea. Back on the road!!

All in all we drove 16 hours from the Whitsundays back to Brisbane, but like I told Lori today, it was 150% worth the drive. I’m so lucky, blessed and grateful to have swam the Great Barrier Reef – and I’m so proud of myself for not chickening out. I will try and give thanks for that as much and as often as I can. Matt is worried the rest of our tour won’t live up (our Sydney stretch) but I have a feeling I’ll cry at Uluru as well. This time I won’t have drowning to wake me from my stupor… So I’ll just let it flow baby.

How does one adequately entertain oneself in a car for 16 hours? Well listening to a CD with Rage Against the Machine, Silverchair, Hunters and Collectors, The Cure and the Beach Biys helps (thanks Triple J and your Hottest 100!!). And then reliving memories that these songs brings back wasted another 4 hours. I drive with Lynda that stretch and I kind of woke up out of my stupor and worried shed think I was being rude, not talking (she wasn’t!), but honestly I was reliving my 1994 summer and all of my great friends from then (hello Jay, Rob, Lisa, Kev, Gumby, Kate, Josh, Rae!!), and thinking it was probably my favorite year of all time. The people I met in Sutton were some of my best and closest relationships ever, it’s sad how people drift apart isn’t it? However all that said, i was comforted to know that through my thoughts they were all with me in that car Monday afternoon on the east coast of Australia, living my dream. I love you guys.

I drove again, for the final 4 hour leg of the journey, from Childers home. We were going to stop in Gin Gin (love that name!) but the truck stop was crammed with trucks and people, so Mackers it was (McDonalds). By this time it was night, so that. Ads things slower for me, their highway t that point is just one lane each direction, like Hwy 48. But after about 2 hours it divides and gave us an easier drive. Luckily they live near the highway so I only had to negotiate 1 roundabout. Whew!!

High/Low
High: time travel via music
Low: 16 hours in the car!! Haha
WOD: Refuse Tip. Another term for Garbage Dump!! But they also do refuse tips here… Haha!!

Day 15 – Whitehaven Beach

This afternoon we went back out on the water, more 2 hour commutes, to land ourselves on Whitehaven Beach. It’s a 7km long beach with lovely white sand, that does NOT get hot at all!! It’s amazing!

On the way we had to change boats on Daydream Island, Mart & Lori stayed there once, looks like a nice spot. 🙂 You’ll see some snaps from there on the photo blog.

Not much to say about my day, you can imagine what we were up to; sunning, swimming (me only…it IS winter you know), sandcastles.

Thumbs up! 🙂

High/Low
High: not having burning feet in the sand!
Low: how long it takes to get to said beach 😉
WOD: Esky. A cooler.

Day 14 – Party Boat!!

We had an early start to the day, out of the house by 6:30 to be at the wharf by 7:30. We drove into Airlie Beach to the Able Point Marina and caught our vessel that would take us to the reef.

It took 3 hours.

Apparently I greatly underestimated how close the reef is lol!!

Mind you, we stopped part way at Hamilton Island to pick up passengers. Such a beautiful spot. Matt is pushing to by the post office there – I say go for it!! But the cheapest place we found to live was $1.8 million!

We arrive at ‘Reefworld’, an oasis in the middle of the ocean, right next to the reef. The colors are amazing, blues & turquoise, from the platform above it kinda just looks like a sand bar. We decided to go in the semi-submerged sub for a tour. It drives right along the reef – so nice, until I had a panic attack. What was a claustrophobic person thinking about being trapped inside a metal death box. I was breathing rally shallow, told Matt I was “panicking a little”. He looked at me like “really? Northern Hemisphere Lori?” I told him I was a bit claustrophobic and he said, “that would have been good information to know before hand”. Ya I guess!! So we pulled Tabby out and I started taking pictures of him and it passed. Whew!!

We came back and it was lunch time already, the tour describes the meal as a ‘sumptuous’ lunch. I think they hired a spin doctor for that one. But I did try a prawn, and it was good! They’re so huge compared to our shrimp that it literally tasted like mini lobster!! During the meal I was trying to decide if I was going to snorkel or not. For one, I’ve never snorkeled before so I was nervous of that, and for two, Matt said he wasn’t going and I didn’t want to do it alone. You can take a guided tour but that costs $45. And lastly, they encourage you to wear a wet suit, and I obviously have issues with my size, and don’t fancy looking like a giant bald tire. So finally Matt agreed he would come with me, and I agreed to go without the suit so off we went! Got down there, grabbed our snorkeling gear and the guy threw a suit at me, I told him it won’t fit, he looked at me and said “Ya, it will, no worries”. Magically I transformed into a bald tire and off we went!!

After I figured out how the snorkeling worked, and got over the fact that there was no bottom, and I was in an ocean with sharks, it went amazing!! I saw the biggest clams ever!! The colors were amazing, like opals, and it was so overwhelming. I kept saying “you’re snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef!!” and that thought make me break out crying. But when you scrunch up your face it lets water in so I had to get a grip!! We were on the reef for want seemed like not that long but was more like an hour and a bit!

We had just enough time to get out and dry off the. We were back on the catamaran for our 3 hour tour home. WHAT A DAY!!!!

High/Low
High: the reef snorkeling of course
Low: the long ride to see the reef when you are crazy excited like me!!
WOD: Larrikin: a man who is happy-go-lucky, nothing phases him, jovial.

Day 13 – MacKay to Hideaway Bay

More driving today, this time for only a couple hours from MacKay to Hideaway Bay in the Whitsundays!

There is tons of sugar cane along the way, like how we have corn and wheat everywhere. Makes me want to hop out of the car and try chewing on it! And did I mention the poor road kill? Kangaroos everywhere 😦 poor babies….

Got to our cottage, and it’s absolutely breathtaking. I can’t wait to see how the pics turn out!! Tomorrow it’s off to the reef on the “party boat” with Matt. I’ve named it that. Cuz I can.

Snorkel…drink…snorkel…drink…

High/Low
High: the guest house view!!!
Low: forgot to look for an underwater disposable camera 😦
WOD: chook. A chicken. Although if you live in Newfoundland, this is a dirty slob type person LOL!!

Day 12 – Brisbane to Sarina

Today was an in the car day, and were all very exhausted!! We’ve travelled north up the coast and stopped in Sarina, on our way to Airlie Beach & the Whitsundays, mainly so I can snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef (another bucket list item!!!). So far we have driven over 900kms today!! We have driven for 15 hours and still have another 4 or so to go tomorrow – WHEW!! But the views and beaches will be worth it.

The terrain is a lot different up here than Brisbane. Less green, more what I would call scrub brush and bush. We actually saw a bush fire (well two really) on our way up. I kept calling it a forest fire, being from Canada – haha. I took a Cooke shirt videos of the drive to show people.

There were two “big things” on our list of big things that we didn’t really stop for. One we may be able to hit in the way back Monday. A big mandarin, and some big bulls in Rockhampton. We did pass a big orange, but it wasn’t in the book so we turned our noses up at it!

Big news!! I DROVE TODAY!! Wrong side of the road, wrong side of the car…… NAILED IT. I drive from Gayndah to Mount Morgan — 350 kms, 4 hours. Yup, I’m a superstar! LOL. 🚙💨 We stopped in Mount Morgan to pick up Lori & Lyndas mom, then I met their sister Leslie and more family! We had lunch than pushed on to Sarina to meet Teena and Nicole and even more family! Whew it’s been a productive day!

Needless to say, I need some sleep, Lynda has already turned in. I’ll post this, then as soon as my head hits the pillow it will be Friday. 🙂 xoxo

High/Low
High: DRIVING!
Low: driving…….for 15 hours.
WOD: Bickie. A cookie, short for biscuit but we don’t call cookies those anyway!! #omnoms

Day 11 – Lori’s Birthday at Dreamworld

Today was Lori’s 40th birthday!! It’s the major reason why I came when I did, and I’m certainly glad I did 🙂 Instead of singing the traditional Happy Birthday song, we decided to go with the less traditional Oi Oi Oi song. So when I say Lori, you say <>

Lori, Lori, Lori!!!
<>
Lori, Lori, Lori!!!
<>
Lori!! OI!!
Lori!! OI!!
Lori, Lori, Lori!!!
<>

Aannyyywwaayyyyy…..

We went to Dreamworld which is a little like Wonderland, run by Dreamworks Entertainment, so they have movie themed kids areas like Madagascar Land, a Shrek part called Forever After, and a Kung Fu Panda section that looked like little China! So cute!!

We went and saw the tigers first and had our pics done with a beautiful 175kilo (385lb) 14 year old tiger named Rama. I have to admit I was kinda freaked out – they are huge!!! This is a bucket list thing for Lori and its amazing seeing someone’s bucket list thing get crossed off! Such a great feeling! Then we were off to cross off MY bucket list thing and that was cuddling a koala!!!! His name was Artie and he was a year and a half. Don’t know how heavy, no more than either of my cats I suppose. They move very slowly like sloths, are generally considered lazy aka “drunk on eucalyptus” but are SOOO friggin cute!

After that we fed some kangaroos, went on a couple of water rides, and it was already mid afternoon! We spent the day with Lori, Lynda & Matt as usual, but also had Lori’s friends Lynny and Kerri with us, who were great fun — my kinda peeps!! And made me feel very welcome and just like one of the gang 🙂 Thanks ladies! Hoping to see more of them before I go, even if Lynny refuses to go on Facebook.

High/Low
High: koala cuddles!!
Low: how my hands smell after koala cuddles :s
WOD: snag. A slang term for a sausage.

Day 10 – Caboolture

Today just Lori and I went up to Caboolture to see the historical village. And I learned a couple interesting things… A) Keith Urban grew up in Caboolture B) their historical stuff is about as old as ours C) they don’t have yellow school buses here. Ha!

I also learned that the first ships here had 11 ships in their armada, some just had supplies and cargo, some had criminals, and others were settlers, most likely people working in the prison camps and their families. One of them was the Scarborough!

The rest of the day we spent in shopping centers looking for a blanket I can take to the beach when we head up to the tropical north this weekend!! But first we get to cuddle the koalas and tigers tomorrow at Dreamworld 🙂 yay!!

Day 9 – Day off! ;)

I know that sounds weird right? We have been NON STOP since I got here, literally! Lori is a slave driver!! haha So today we just stayed in as Lori had a course to attend, so it was to be laundry and movie day, although I didn’t watch any movies. No photos from today either, except the star shot I posted on Facebook – which I can most likely post here as well. Most days I’m posting from my iPad, and it doesn’t allow me to add photos to posts, I have to add them separately as pages, but today I’m using the laptop and it may let me.

Tomorrow we are going to Caboolture and a Historical Village there — again very much like our Pioneer Village so that should be good. Then we are packing up and leaving at 4:30am on Thursday morning to go up to Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands. This is where Australians from the south vacation during winter (which is now), much like how we escape to sunnier climes like Cuba or the Dominican. 🙂 Yay us!

Ok, I guess that’s all for now. I don’t really have a High/Low as I didn’t do anything!

WOD: Dunny. An outhouse!

Milky Way from Clear Mountain