Saturday, 25 January 2014

On The Road Again: Brisbane North Towards Cairns

I had a lovely stay with Davey, Eliana, and Benji.  We went to the Museum of Modern Art and saw a couple of amazing exhibits.  I also got to see Curtis (my old summer student from way-back-when I worked at Talisseuman Energy) thanks to Eli and Davey who generously invited him and some of their friends over for an amazing brunch...WAFFLES!  Curtis still lives in Calgary but happened to be in Brisbane for work.  Another stroke of luck was that The Lumineers were playing a gig at a small venue in downtown Brisbane.  Curtis' friend got us tickets and we were able to go.  They played in the Tivoli Theater which has seating for only 700 and standing room for 1500 so it was really up-close and the sound was amazing.

The Lumineers at The Tivoli in Brisbane
"Heritage", 99 sculpted animals (not taxidermy) drinking from one pool of water

"Headlong" 99 sculpted wolves leaping into a glass wall and tumbling to the ground

Happy baby Benji and Daddy Davey at Brunch
I picked up my Jucy campervan on Tuesday Jan 21st and hit the road heading north towards Brisbane.  Before I forget to mention it, I have enjoyed some Australian company on all my drives in the form of my GPS voice "Adam".  Adam is a charming Aussie bloke who is very helpful when it comes to navigating and he is never judgemental.  If I take a wrong turn he tells me in his Aussie accent "Alright mate, when you get a chance turn around, and if those backseat drivers don't keep it down, drop 'em off at the next servo".  I ignored his advice once and kept driving the wrong way because I wanted to do the tourist drive and he eventually said "It's allright mate, chuck a U-ey".  Whenever I arrive somewhere I've planned to go he says "You have reached your destination, grab your sunnies, roll up the windows, and don't let the seagulls eat your chips".  Adam got me safely from Sydney to Brisbane and when I picked up my new campervan and GPS I thought I would try out the British fellow on the GPS.  He was very droll, spoke too slowly, and had nothing on Adam so I switched back.
I spent the first night near Noosa at a Scouts Camp beside a lake which was fully equipped with hot and cold showers, a kitchen area, powered sites for $12/night (WOW!).  I got up early to drive to Noosa for a surf lesson.  I've done one before in Hawaii and it just didn't stick.  I was able to get up on the board a few times but it was really hard work and resulted in full-on exhaustion after 2 hours, a bruised chest, and a sunburnt face.  But I'm glad I had another try!
Scout Camp campsite
The next day I headed up to the Town of 1770 (Seventeen Seventy on maps) because I had heard that Mantas frequent the waters offshore which marks the southern part of the Great Barrier Reef.  I spent the night in a campsite near town and signed up to do a cruise to Lady Musgrave Island (80km offshore) for first thing in the morning to do two dives.  The boat held 130 people and made it out to the island quickly and smoothly.  Upon reaching the coral-fringed Lady Musgrave Island the water changed from dark blue to a very light blue with greenish patterns visible where the corals were very close to the surface.  There were only 5 divers and the rest of the tourists were there to snorkel and to go for a walk on the island. Sadly we did not see any Mantas but the reef was colorful and the coral was relatively healthy... but no t the best I've seen.  Visibility was pretty poor with only 3m visibility on our second dive.

Corals of all shapes, sizes, and colors.  This view reminds me of a birds next in tree branches

This Giant Clam was the most beautiful shade of blue.  Note the moray eel photobombing from the upper left

After my dives I drove about an hour north to a free campsite which is a rest area that allows overnight guests.  There were even showers there and a friendly cat who showed up conveniently as I cooked my steak dinner ;)  The following day I had a long drive (6 hours) to Airlie Beach.  This is the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands and I wanted to spend Australia Day there (Jan 26) and do a tour of some of the islands, hence the long drive.  At one point of the drive I could see by my GPS that I was very close to the coast so I pulled over to have a look and found the most eerily beautiful wide sandy beach fringed by mangroves which were high and dry at low tide and beyond that desert-like scene was the most blue water you could imagine.

I stayed at a campsite recommended by one of the divers on the Lady Musgrave Island trip.  Smalleys Campsite in Cape Hillsborough National Park.  I think this is my favorite of all the campsites I've seen in Australia (well, maybe just ranked under Freemans Campsite in NSW because the water there was swimmable whereas there were warnings of marine stingers at Smalleys Beach).  The campsite has only 11 sites which rent out for something silly like $5.60/person/night, the sites are very private and serene, and my site (and most of the others) was a very short walk down to the water in a protected bay.  The best part was that the campsite was full of wildlife including Bush Stone Curlews (a long-legged big-eyed bird), a Frilled Lizard which I startled and got to see running on its hind legs, many Skinks, Wallabies, Cane Toads, Brush Turkeys, and even what I'm sure were Sugar Gliders flying between then scurrying around the treetops at dusk.
Path to the beach

Frilled Lizard


The beach
Bush Stone Curlew
In the morning, a 10 minute drive took me to another beach within Cape Hillsborough National Park which had a number of walking tracks and a huge beach.  I did a 5km loop to a lookout and saw even more wildlife!

Wallaby...This type is called a "Pretty Face Wallaby"... no joke
Signs advising caution due to marine stingers with Vinegar for first aid

The lookout 
At low tide this causeway can be used to walk across to Wedge Island which is inaccessible at high tide.  If you time your hike badly you could get stranded on the island!

Beautiful patterns were formed on the beach by some creature rolling balls (probably of poo)...likely a small crab or shrimp

This rock formation looked like a wave or a serpents head
Driving in Queensland has been beautiful with big skies, long shadows, and a very "Saskatchewan" like quality of light that makes me nostalgic


  1. You are looking so good and HAPPY! Love it!
    Those diving pics make me so envious. Hope Australia Day treated you well!?

    When are you back in Canada?
    Happy journey on your next stage.

  2. Australia Day was great but the evening made me feel OLD hanging out in a hostel full of kids ;)

  3. I think I will return to Canada in June or perhaps sooner (I miss it!)