Surf n' Turf

Trip Start May 03, 2009
Trip End Aug 31, 2009

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Friday, August 7, 2009

It finally (and too soon) came time to leave the paradise of Port Douglas and head south. So, we said goodbye to the crocs, the deadly Queenslander snake, the poisonous puffer fish and various other threatening species and said hello to the most dangerous (judging from news reports) creature on the continent: the Queensland Motorway driver. Not meaning to single out a particular State and its citizens, but there seem to be fatalities daily on these highways--albeit many involve long distance truckers. One of the most recent incidents was what we now call the "John Daly" (D*&% those height restrictions--I'll just keep the pedal down and squeeze through this tunnel or underpass). However, thanks to Steve's training and the power behind our 4 cylinder KIA (poor Steve hides his head in shame as the driver of such a vehicle), we made it safely from the Brisbane airport to our next home exchange on the Gold Coast. Once again we lucked out with the location. The home is in a quiet middle class suburb (not dissimilar to home) but only 10 minutes to the 70 km. strip of beaches known as the Gold Coast. The home also came with a dog so the boys were able to demonstrate some "dog responsibility"-there might just be a small glimmer of hope for our own rover when we return.
 But more about the trip.
If you have a limited time to spend in Australia and want constant entertainment, this is the place to be. Besides the beaches (sand so fine and soft "that it squeeks"), it is the location of casinos, huge shopping centres, 5 Theme Parks and various other "thrills" including one aptly named the Vometrom. To escape it all, there is also the hinterland for some quiet bushwalking and chance encounters with Komodo dragons.
Our closest beach was Surfer's Paradise. What is this first thing to do at such a place? Why of course take surfing lessons. It was great fun but hard work. It helped that we had an entertaining instructor who threatened to call the Irwin boys "Bindi" if there were any complaints or whining (and break their arms if they didn't hold onto the board properly--fortunately, our boys are accustomed to such direct communication). We all managed to catch a wave and experience the thrill of standing up on the board. Thank goodness, the boys don't envision this as yet another sport to take up ("Tofino?! No WAY am I going anywhere near THAT cold water"). On the other hand, it seems that Steve is wanting to put in some T.O.W. to add this activity to his repetoire--so watch for that crazy surfer on the Dallas Road waterfront next time surfs up.
Next, as promised to the boys, we had to choose a Theme Park for a ONE and only ONE day of thrills and spills. Our choices included Seaworld, Movieworld, Wet N' Wild, Dreamworld and Whitewater World. Since our travels had included already many aquariums and the Movie World would be lost on our sports oriented children, we chose the last two which happen to be adjoining. It's not in our minds comparable to Disneyland, but there were some thrilling rides at Dreamworld. We made the mistake of starting on The Claw--a drop of 9 stories at 75 km/hour-- which left Steve and I whiplashed and nauseous for the rest of the day. Whitewater World was great and near empty--kids are in school and not many right thinking Australians would go to a water park in 22 deg. weather. The boys showed great maturity when, at the end of the day, they agreed that one day at the theme parks was enough...("but could we please go to Disneyland next year?").p.s. to Alessandro: they even have a Wiggles Park.
Other days were spent boogie boarding (after the purchase of much needed steamers), more field time at the nearby college grounds and a day's venture to Byron Bay. Now there is a nice spot. Small, historical,funky and unpretentious, it is the stomping ground of musicians, painters, potters and actors. It is also the farthest point east on the continent and if you looked REALLY far out to sea and had Superhero vision you might see the migrating humpback whales.

We couldn't leave the Gold Coast without seeing the Rugby League Titans play at their home turf. It was a lopsided game but plenty of pushing, shoving, tackling and generally rough play (and that's just up in the stands!) to wet the boys' whistle for some Aussie Rules footy when we get to Sydney.
Oh, and we did get to the hinterland, guided by friends of our hosts. No dragons but did see some beautiful vistas of the coast and New South Wales to the south. Alas, some of the natural beauty may have been lost on certain boys from Victoria who would have preferred to throw sticks and rocks over the look-out and "see what happens" to the hikers below.

This was our last stop in Queensland as we now make our way by car down the coast to Sydney. The boys are excited to see the hockey try-out schedule up and Steve and I are both back engaged with work. The real test from here will be to "stay in the moment" and enjoy the rest of our fleeting time together in this beautiful land.  Taking this trip remains one of the best decisions that we have ever made.

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