Friday, June 26, 2009

Sun Seekers

We scooted our way up north a little quicker than originally planned in anticipation of HEAT. We couldn’t go tooo far too fast though because by June 27th we were scheduled to be back down to the Gold Coast to meet LANCE & NAT (our kiwi buds) for one whole divine week of fun before shooting straight up to Cairns.

Our search for heat has been a largely failed mission, but we can’t complain. Between rain bursts we've had plenty of sun...just none of the hot stuff.

The Sunshine Coast was our next stop. We went for long walks along three different beaches and enjoyed the sand between our toes and the pleasant views.

One of the beaches was another “clothing optional” beach.

Me thinking, “WHERE ARE ALL THE NAKED PEOPLE?!” heh heh.

On Sunday we went to Coolum Beach Baptist Church where we were given an ENORMOUSLY warm welcome and met some fine Australian folks. This was definitely a highlight. As I’ve mentioned before, the best part about traveling in NZ was getting to know the PEOPLE. It was nice to hunker down for more than 5 minutes and get to know some great Aussies. (PS- Mom & Dad, we invited people to stay at your house… Mom & my dream of running a B&B just for Kiwis and Aussies could come true!)

After church, we fled further north to Rainbow Beach in hope of experiencing some of that famous Australian SUN. The HOT sun.

We didn’t.

It was nice on the afternoon that we arrived, so we visited the sand blow. That was a LOT of sand… not as much as Fraser Island has though!

Fraser Island can be seen from Rainbow Beach. It’s the world’s largest sand island. It is said that eventually all of Australia’s sand will end up on Fraser Island. Well, surprise surprise, the weather turned gross, so we snapped a soggy picture of the island then fled further north as fast as Lucy could take us.

And guess what? WE FOUND HEAT! We had less than 2 days to enjoy it before we had to head back south to Brisbane & the Gold Coast, but WE FELT THE HOT SUN! And we sooooaaaaaaked it uuuuuuup.

We also ate BEEF because Rockhampton is famous for it, and has giant bull and cow statues sprinkled throughout the city.

We clothed ourselves in our summery duds and perused the Botanic Gardens.

These (FREE) gardens included a zoo, so we got a glimpse at some more kiwi animals. We plan on taking a gooood gander at Steve Irwin’s “Australia Zoo” next week, so I’m SURE we’ll have plenty more pictures of some authentically adorable Australian creatures. But here y'are for now...



("I think a dingo ate my baby")


Koalas (sleepy koalas)...

The gardens included a section of tropical fruits which we were free to try. Not many were in season, but we tasted a couple.

Lowell reached high and proudly grabbed a "purple star apple"(which were neither purple nor star-like)...

Perhaps it wasn't ready for human consumption yet, but it was grooossssss...

It looked like it had been injected with curdled milk... and it tasted worse.

The candlestick-like fruit was also fairly odd...

It wasn't gross or anything though. It had the texture of celery, and tasted like a cross between a banana and a pineapple... with some weirdness tossed in.

Lowell was rather delighted when he spotted the cacti section of the gardens...

...and he felt like it was time to do another jumping shot.

He avoided the jumping shots in Thailand because we didn't trust the health care.

Before we sign off for the day, here's a shot we took special for Julie Anne who loves old buildings. We took this photo as we cruised south-bound to the Gold Coast to meet up with Lance & Natty! We were only sorry that JAJ wasn't there to see it with us in person;)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Hippie's Paradise

Okay okay, we’re ALMOST at the hippie town (aka Byron Bay).

Before that, though, we made 2 key little stops. One at the giant banana…

And the other at Macadamia Palace.

We were expecting a place made from macadamia nuts (like how the corn palace in South Dakota (been there done that!) is made from—or at least covered with—corn husks), but nope. It was just a regular looking palace with a cafĂ©, a gift shop, a small zoo, a mini golf course, a playground, and yes… a whole lot of macadamia nuts.

We were very excited about seeing our first LIVING kangaroos in the mini zoo.

And we did!

We even got to FEED them.

After that thrilling little experience, we played an intense round of mini golf where I whooped Lowell’s butt and he owed me ice cream.

There was a huge group of cute little school kiddies there at the same time that we were. They all looked so adorable in their uniforms and mandatory little hats.

We then made our way to Byron Bay. This place was great for the people watching because it’s full of hippies (and also wild turkeys).

We were hoping to get some nice hot beach weather, but our wish was not granted. We had nice walking weather, though, so we enjoyed a couple of nice little hikes on the beach and to the lighthouse.

On the lighthouse walk, we reached the eastern-most point of Australia.

I faced New Zealand and said a little “hiya” to all the good folks over there!

I was also ecstatic about going to my first ever “clothing optional” beach. It may or may not be on my secret little unofficial “things to do before I die” list to go to a nude beach in a foreign country JUST FOR A SECOND… in the nude. Had it been crawling with naked people, I would’ve covered my eyes, ripped off my clothes, joined the party for 3 milliseconds, and knocked that little experience off of my list. HOWEVER, there were only a few other people there—all clothed—so I opted to keep my clothes on and not get myself booted out of the country. Next time…

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Koala Hospitals and Kangaroo Pies...

Lonely Planet is the travelers’ bible. Even though ours is a 2005 cheap rip-off version from Thailand, it has guided us rather successfully on our journey (Lowell has read it from cover to cover).

Between Lake Macquarie and Coff’s Bay (which is as far as we got before the sleepies got the best of Julie) there were several points of interest.

So let's get movin!

1. There’s a rock in Australia called Ayers Rock. This is the real deal:

Since it’s far far away, a replica was built on the east coast for cheesy tourists like Lowell and me to visit. It was a truck stop and a tad weird and styrofoam-like, but what the heck-- now we can say that we’ve been to an Ayers replica. And that obviously makes us so super awesome.

Oh, and they get creativity points for their bathroom door...

2. We have yet to see live, healthy and in-the-wild roos and koalas. But we’ve seen them as road kill, ill in captivity, and as meat. In Port Macquarie, there’s a koala hospital.

It’s totally a real hospital, but the only patients are furry four-legged creatures with tiny brains who sleep 20 hours a day in trees and eat poisonous eucalyptus leaves.

These poor koalas have been admitted as a result of MVAs, falling out of trees, or age-related reasons. Why don’t you just have a look at this little admittance chart. I highly recommend zooming right on in. It was out in the yard, so I’m guessing that confidentiality isn’t such a huge issue with koalas.

As noted in the chart, these koalas suffer from everything from arthritis to Chlamydia. Yes, Chlamydia. I missed the explanation for the acquisition of Chlamydia because the little girl beside us was loudly chastising her Mom for audibly tooting during the tour (it was a painful moment for everyone).

We didn’t get to go IN the hospital (you know, as to not spread or acquire diseases), but we got to watch the volunteers feed the koalas in recovery.

The following koala is George. He was very sleepy and refused to come down for his daily feeding. Let me take this opportunity to explain WHY koalas sleep so much. It's NOT because they're drunk from eucalyptus, it's because the eucalyptus leaves are poisonous and take soooo much of their energy to digest (this is also why their brains are so teeny tiny).

I’d never heard of a koala hospital before, but our guide spewed a bunch of fun facts which I will share with you:

• There’s a 24-hour koala ambulance (this is my favourite fact!)
• 160 volunteers are needed to keep the place running
• There are only 2 paid workers
• It costs $150,000 annually to maintain
• A woman started it in her garage with a couple koalas and it grew from there.
• A lady from Germany came to volunteer, then years later when she passed away, she donated her entire estate to the koala hospital

We should start a GOPHER hospital in Alberta! Just jokes all you farmers out there… just jokes.


I kid you not. These people have over 50 different flavours of pies (meaty AND sweet).

We chose four flavours- and we were very excited about them.

One of the flavours was KANGAROO.

Lowell was oddly eager.

I wasn’t.

But I tried some anyway.

Okay...still heading north to hippie town. Let's see if we can't sight a real kangaroo in the meantime...