Wednesday, September 26, 2012

City farmers market Brisbane

Once back in the city we returned along Queen Street precinct. We were
really surprised to see a very large and busy market set up - this
apparently is a regular Wednesday event and is open until 6 pm. It was the
perfect place for us to have lunch and we enjoyed wandering around the
stalls deciding what to sample as the choice was huge.

Turkish food was our choice initially so we joined the queue and were really
happy with our choice - we have great memories of our holiday in Turkey.
Perhaps we need to do that again??

After first course it was time to wander the stalls again and make the
second choice - lovely fresh strawberries for me (and they had great flavour
as well which was a bonus) and home-made macadamia ice cream for Peter. And
to totally finish off we bought organic vanilla macadamia nuts just in case
we needed a snack on the way home! It was tempting to buy heaps of the
lovely fresh vegetables but we would have had to carry them quite a distance
so missed that opportunity.

Just as we were leaving we saw the rocky road chocolate stall - really that
was just too much! Imagine indulging on all that chocolate.

We thought it was great to have such a market in the middle of the city - it
must be such a great venue for the city workers to visit.

We wandered along the shops again, stopping in at the time old favourites of
Myers and David Jones. It was great to be back in the city. Then it was
back to the underground bus station and back on the "right" bus and safely
back to the caravan. It was a great day out and we plan to go back into the
city again tomorrow afternoon as Peter has a business meeting to attend and
I can enjoy the shops for a couple of hours.


We have now arrived in Brisbane and we are staying on the northside of the
city for four nights. We have previously visited Brisbane so we don't
intend to go all out from a touristic aspect.

Today we put on "city read tidy" clothes rather than beach wear and took the
bus into the city. We had decided that we would take public transport to
give Peter a break from driving, it saved following the GPS into the correct
part of the city, finding a carpark and paying the exorbitant city price
(after all we haven't been in too many cities of this size of late) and just
because we now favour public transport where possible.

We left the car at the caravan park and walked to the bus stop - that was a
challenge in itself as we found that although we were on the correct road
the buses don't stop at every bus stop. We needed to sort out stop the 340
route stopped at and of course that was the most distant. Never mind the
walk was good for us. Once on the bus we were surprised and impressed that
Brisbane has this "Northern Busway". This is a bus-only road which allows
buses to travel north/south through the city without encountering car
traffic. It has opened in stages since 2004 and arrives in the central city
underground before following a further bus-only road to the south of the
city. Apparently it links with the new underground road to Brisbane
Airport. It is a great way to travel and we were most impressed. The cost
$7 return for us so far cheaper than parking in the city.

Once in the city we enjoyed wandering along the shopping precinct area
amongst the lunch time crowds - it felt just so normal. We made our way
down to the river and took the City Cat boat which gives a smooth ride up
and down the river stopping at various riverside areas. The January 2011
Brisbane floods and the breaking of the Brisbane River banks caused mass
evacuation of the Brisbane central business district and surrounding
residential areas. The flooding resulted in 20,000 homes being inundated
and the Brisbane Riverwalk which is a floating walkway over the river broke
up. The Suncorp Stadium which is the major rugby league football stadium
filled with up to two metres of walker. It is amazing that in just twenty
months the city has been able to successfully re-establish the whole area
and now there is no evidence of such a devastating flood.

We travelled downstream on the City Cat and then back to the city - it was
really interesting to see that the master of the catamaran was a young woman
and the deck hand and ticket seller were also women.

A large yellow duck was tied up at the Riverside Restaurant precinct in
readiness for the annual yellow duckie fund raising race. There were quite
a few children on the boat as it is school holidays so they really enjoyed
seeing the duck and some thought the race must have been on, but no.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Woorim Beach, Bribie Island

On previous visits to the Sunshine Coast we have never gone to Bribie Island
so we went there today. It is about seventy kilometres each way from where
we are staying at Alexandra Headland (much further than I initially thought)
and required us to go via Caloundra. Once we passed the industrial areas of
Caloundra the road continues through forested rural area and eventually
reaches the coast. Here there is a bridge joining Bribie Island to the
mainland. It was built in 1963.

Bribie Island is 34 kilometres long and 8 kilometres at its widest. Most of
the island is uninhabited national park. Our first stop was at Banksia
Beach which is on the northern end. This area is becoming very populated
with many large homes being built on manmade canals. There are schools on
the island and quite a large shopping area serving the population of between
16,000 and 20,000.

From Banksia we went to the most established area called Woorim which is on
the island's surf side. The day started out really nice so many others had
obviously decided to visit Woorim today. We had a picnic lunch and then
went down to the beach. I had thought I would go swimming and got changed
ready but the life guards had signs out saying there was a small risk of
stingers, and although the conditions were "mellow" there were
undercurrents. I decided I was better to wade in the shallows!

The day started to deteriorate and the temperature dropped as the skies
turned grey. We were in for a summer storm - the thunder rolled around the
hills and there were a few lightening flashes and large drops of rain
started to fall. We decided it was time to head for the caravan as the roof
vents were all up. Fortunately we arrived back before the rain and although
the thunder and the lightening continued for a while the rain never set in.

We finished our day by returning to Mooloolaba and walked the beach and
foreshore before wandering the shops. We had thought of calling into the
surf club for a drink and perhaps a meal but Peter's singlet didn't meet the
club's dress standard so we were out of luck so it was dinner back at the
caravan. Life is tough!

Coolum Beach

From Cotton Tree beach we continued north and stopped off at Coolum Beach.
Some years ago I had worked briefly with a girl who had bought a house at
Coolum Beach saying that it was one of the last seaside areas yet to be
developed. We soon had to agree with her - it is still lacking the high
rise apartment blocks that are spreading all along the coast to the south
and at Noosa in the north.

We initially drove along the hilltop but didn't stop at the lookout as the
guests were just arriving for a wedding. Instead we made our way back down
to the foreshore parking and went wading in the beach. The lifeguards were
busy keeping an eye on the swimmers as this beach is not flat like Cotton
Tree but had good sized waves rolling in. There were heaps of people about
making the most of the lovely weather.

The ginger factory, Yandina

Peter and I have visited the Sunshine Coast on a number of occasions and
have great memories of our first visit in 1988 (when Expo was on in
Brisbane) when we visited with our children, then aged eight and ten.
During that visit and subsequent visits we have been to various tourist
activities in the area including the Ginger Factory and The Big Pineapple.

As we made our way to a caravan park in Buderim we passed a sign to the
ginger factory in Yandina so we diverted and paid a visit. This place has
certainly changed from our last visit - there is a large new shopping
precinct with open café and restaurant area. There is a small train trip
and tours of the factory and a honey factory. We didn't take the factory
tour but certainly made time for Peter to sample the ice cream - ginger and
macadamia nut and the second scoop ginger and passionfruit. All the ice
cream is hand made on the premises.

We stayed at the Big 4 caravan park at Forest Glen which is apparently the
closest park to Australia Zoo. They are certainly making the most of their
position - it is the most expensive caravan park we have stayed at during
the fifteen months we have been travelling. Their facilities did not
warrant their fee - it is a shame they do not have competition.

After only one night we moved on to Alexandra Headland on the Sunshine Coast
- a much nicer caravan park and within a short walk of the beach and shops.
Alexandra Headland has two well-known neighbours - Maroochydore four
kilometres to the south and Mooloolaba just two kilometres to the north.
The lovely weather is continuing and after dinner we enjoyed going for a
long walk along the waterfront checking out all the high rise apartments and
sidewalk cafes and restaurants.

On Sunday afternoon we joined lots of other holidaymakers and visited a few
of the beaches close by. We can't recall visiting Cotton Tree beach
previously but certainly have ideas of visiting again sometime. There are
apparently nine council caravan parks along the Sunshine Coast and one of
these is at Cotton Tree beach. It must be one of the best positioned parks
in Australia with camping sites within just a few metres of a flat beach.
No wonder the park was packed with family groups.


We paid a short visit to Noosa on Saturday. We had initially planned to
stay in Noosa for a few days but we were out of luck as the Queensland
school holidays commenced on Friday and the caravan parks were all booked
out - one of the risks of not booking ahead. We have visited and stayed in
Noosa previously so we were not particularly concerned. So we parked the
car and the caravan - we were fortunate to pull into one of the back streets
from the foreshore and found sufficient room for the patrol and caravan to
be parked.

There were lots of people about. The Noosa riverbank is a popular place for
picnics with excellent facilities. There is an abundance of water sports
available and many people were swimming in the shallow water. After a walk
along the riverbank from Tewantin to near the river mouth we stopped off at
one of the many cafes and enjoyed brunch.

From here we took the car and caravan and continued on to Noosa Heads but
there was so much traffic and absolutely no parking available for our rig we
decided to head out of town. It was disappointing we couldn't get a camp
site but fortunately we have spent a reasonable amount of time in Noosa
previously so we didn't think we were missing out.

The Sunshine Coast is in for a warm spell and the next four days
temperatures of around 30 degrees are expected - this is just great.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Growing of pineapples near Maryborough, Queensland

The area surrounding Hervey Bay is mainly sugar cane country but as we
continued to drive towards Brisbane we started to drive past paddocks of
pineapples. As we had approached Hervey Bay we had seen some farm stalls
selling pineapples direct to the travelling public for as little as sixty
cents each (however these pineapples looked quite small).

With plenty of signage telling us of a farm stall, we stopped off and
sampled some lovely sweet pineapple and bought a really large one which we
have enjoyed over the last couple of days. This one cost of $5 and it was
worth it as it was so big and sweet. We could have bought three smaller
ones for $10 but large was much more appealing and well worth it.

Looking towards Fraser Island from Hervey Bay

Fraser Island is world heritage listed and is the only place in the world
where tall rainforests are found growing on sand dunes at elevations of over
200 metres. The island is 123 kilometres in length and 22 kilometres at its
widest point. It is the largest sand island in the world.

The island can be seen from the beach at Hervey Bay and there is a barge
travelling from nearby River Heads. It is very popular for four wheel
driving and Seventy Five Mile Beach on the island is actually a highway.
Air Fraser planes making joy flights also shares the highway. Fishing is
also another popular activity. There are resorts and limited camping on the

Although we were interested in visiting the island we made the decision to
wait for another time. So we just saw the island from a distance.

Anne and Geoff live in the suburb of Urangan in Hervey Bay where there is a
very famous historic pier. It was a former deep-water cargo handling
facility built to facilitate the export of sugar, timber and coal. It was
built between 1913 and 1917 and was originally 1107 metres in length. The
pier was closed in 1985 and a section of about 240 metres was demolished.
The balance of the pier has now been fully restored.

Peter, Anne & Geoff at Hervey Bay

It is now fifteen months since we left Melbourne to commence our travels
around Australia. During that time we have met many people who are also
travelling this huge country however it is always good to catch up with
people we know. We have had friends from NZ join us in Broome for a couple
of weeks, met up with friends from Melbourne in Derby and returned to
Melbourne and NZ for some short periods. This week we have met up with
relatives - firstly my cousin in Bundaberg and then with a "sort of" cousin
of Peter's who lives in Hervey Bay with her husband and children.

Anne and Geoff and their children have lived in Hervey Bay for five years
now. They tell us that there was no particular reason why they chose Hervey
Bay - they just wanted to live in a regional town, for the weather to be
warm and mild in the winter, and to be by the beach. They couldn't have
chosen a nicer place and they are now very settled in Hervey Bay. We can
understand why.

We parked the caravan on their front lawn, and enjoyed staying overnight
with them which gave us plenty of opportunity to catch up and also see
Brendan and Aaron who were at school and work during the day.

Hervey Bay is a grey nomad magnet in the winter and Geoff told us that the
caravan parks are full over the winter months for months on end. At the
moment there are a lot of visitors in town keen to take the whale tours -
apparently the migration of whales is just great this year with many
thousands migrating north. We contemplated going on one of the trips but
there was a lot of wind causing rough seas and as soon as I see white caps I
must prefer to stay on solid ground. Perhaps we will get another
opportunity another time.

We went down to the Boat Club and saw the marina where Jordan had been
moored with the yacht just the day before - we are following him down the
coast. He had left mid-afternoon to continue towards Mooloolaba so we
missed seeing him. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch at the boat club before
spending a leisurely hour wandering around the boats moored there.

It was certainly great to see Anne and Geoff again and we really enjoyed
catching up on the years since we last saw them.

Meeting up with family in Bundaberg

When we first shifted to Melbourne if anyone asked me what family we have in
Australia I would say that I had one cousin in Bundaberg. During our years
here other family members have shifted to Melbourne and this has been great.

As we travelled towards Bundaberg I contacted my cousin, Elaine and her
husband Arnold, and we were able to meet with them at their home. They have
lived in Bundaberg since 1988 although we have met up a few times in the
intervening years at family functions in New Zealand. It was so good to see

It is hard to believe that we are all over 60 now - boy have the years just
flown. Elaine and I enjoyed reminiscing the years of our childhood when we
saw quite a bit of each other - not so sure Arnold and Peter were that keen
on listening to us!

Free camping at Gin Gin

During our travels around Australia we have taken the opportunity to free
camp where possible. Australia has many such camping areas available to
travellers. Some of these areas have time limits on how long travellers can
stay, others don't. Many have basic facilities such as toilets (either
environmental composting toilets or flush toilets), rubbish bins and
occasionally showers, either hot or cold. These facilities certainly help
the budget and we are lucky that our caravan is set up with toilet and
shower, hot water, gas cooking and fridge and a solar panel which powers our
lights. Many other travellers also rely on these free camping areas.

There is a book published which lists all the free camping, or low cost
camps, and the facilities provided. This is called "Camps 6 Australia" (the
current edition being the sixth print).

During the last week we stayed at a free camping area just north of Gin Gin
in Queensland. There were quite a few other campers set up when we arrived
and it didn't take long for more to arrive. This facility is popular as
there are two blocks of toilet facilities, lots of grass and trees, and a
covered picnic area with tables and seating. We were within walking
distance of the shopping facilities in Gin Gin.

During the evening one of the travellers set up his mini electronic band and
entertained other travellers with his country singing - he was very good and
soon attracted quite a crowd.

Peter was up early and was interested to count that there were fifty seven
groups camping overnight - certainly well patronised.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Travelling the Bruce Highway

We are continuing our journey down the eastern coast and sometimes we wonder
why we didn't take the inland road as apparently it is shorter in distance.
The condition of the Bruce Highway which runs from Townsville through to
Brisbane is very poor. Most of it is two lane with the condition of the
bitumen in need of attention. There are road gangs working on the roads and
it seems that we barely get going again and we are stopping for more road
works. We understand that between Rockhampton and Bundaberg (a distance of
less than 300 kms) there are twenty nine separate sections of road works.
No wonder we felt as though we were stopping and starting again. Some of
these sections even had a pilot vehicle to lead the traffic through the
section of road works and a tail end Charlie to follow the last vehicle -
what a boring job for those guys and girls (as there are lots of females
working with the road gangs).

Besides road works the other memorable thing is the sugar cane. Both sides
of the roads we had large areas of sugar cane growing - the harvesters were
working in some areas and the small sugar cane trains was taking the crates
of cut cane along the tracks.

We had thought that we might pay a visit to one of the sugar cane processing
factories, but the whim soon lost our interest and we were keen to get to
the end of our journey so gave a miss on that.

Horsemanship at St Leonards

We stayed a couple of nights St Leonards which is a small rural town
surrounded by wetlands. There is a very popular free camping area at the
recreation ground and when we arrived the actual camping area was completely
full and along with about ten other caravans we camped opposite the main
area. The camping area is adjacent to the horse facilities and we were
fortunate that there was a week-end of competitions on. There were a large
number of local competitors with their horses. It appeared that most of the
competitors also stayed on site and there was a large undercover area with
commercial kitchen. Volunteers were serving food to both competitors and
campers all week-end and the evening there was various entertainment.

The competitions involved working with cattle - there was a small grandstand
set up for spectators so we enjoyed watching the various competitors. They
competed as individuals and then as teams and some of the teams included
parents and quite young children. The competition was called teaming and
penning and required the competitor to pen specific groups of cattle within
a timeframe. Those kids were certainly comfortable on their horses.

Emu Park

From St Leonards we took a diversion off the Bruce Highway and stayed
overnight at Emu Park. This is a very popular area during the winter months
and we understand that the camping ground gets booked out by groups of grey
nomads escaping the cooler weather in Tasmania and Victoria mainly. The
caravan park was just back from the beach and had a path meandering through
the park to the shopping precinct and walks along the coastline. One lady I
spoke to said that they come to Emu Park for four to five months and don't
start the car when they are there. I couldn't imagine it but obviously they
love it.

So we didn't take the caravan off the car and we joined the walkers - it was
certainly pleasant walking through the town to the various beaches. It was
Sunday afternoon and there were quite a few people having picnics on the
beach and it was warm enough for groups to be swimming, although it is much
cooler than the temperatures we were enjoying up in the Northern Territory.
It was only 24 degrees and there was a wind blowing so far too cold for me
to go swimming!

Our overnight stay was far shorter than that of many other visitors to the
area. Jordan had passed through nearby Yeppoon on his yacht trip from
Townsville to Melbourne but we were about a day behind him so missed seeing

Singing Ship at Emu Park

Emu Park has a permanent population of around 3000. The history book tells
us that the land was first it with history. It is called the singing ship
as a gentle sea breeze produces a musical sound through fluted pipes. It
certainly looks pretty special and can be seen from quite a distance.

It was quite breezy when we were wandering around the singing ship and we
could certainly hear the music but it was certainly quite soft.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hamilton Island

Well I am sure that we have all heard about it even if we haven’t visited it.  We arrived in Airlie Beach a few days ago and one of the things that we really wanted to do was to visit at least some of the Islands.  

Time to board Whitsunday catamaran
Well Gill in her normal efficient manner did the research and came up with the plan that we could do a day trip island hopping or alternately we could just go and stay at Hamilton Island for a night for 5 dollars less than doing the island hop thing and the good news we actually got to see some of the others like Daydream on the way through.

So off we went nice day and not too bad a day for the trip.  A couple of little bumps on the way out but certainly nothing that would cause you to do the throwing up thingy.

Boarding Whitsunday catamaran
We arrived at Hamilton around 11am - the room wasn’t quite ready so we decided that we would go on an Island tour on one of the free buses (all the buses are free for all visitors) – wow these people just don’t know that they are alive the place is fantastic.  I will though preface that with the comment that you need also to have plenty of money as nothing and I mean nothing is cheap.  Most main meals are around $40.00 each so you could certainly run away with some money real quick and the queues are really long as well.  You will see by the photo's that the birds watch you eat just in case you drop a crumb they are ready to strike:-)

  Daydream Island
We stayed at the Reef Hotel and the rooms were a fantastic size - two double beds and a great outlook over the pool and bay.  We met a really friendly bus driver who was quick to suggest that Peter should be applying for a role there as they needed drivers and the chances were that he should apply and would get a job lickety split.  Was he tempted?  What do you think - he could just imagine himself doing the job – kind of fits with his view that winters should be spent in places that are warm.  We wonder if Hamilton is warm enough though as the maximum in July is only 21.6 degrees on average.

 Welcome to Daydream Island
The marina where the Whitsunday Cruises catamaran ties up is adjacent to Front Street (after all what else would it be called) where there are various shops and restaurants.  The marina has an amazing range of boats moored and although Jordan has been at Hamilton Island this week on his journey back to Melbourne had left by the time we arrived.
I won’t say too much more will just let the photos do the talking – tonight we are back in the caravan and tomorrow we are on the road again and off towards Yeppoon.

Rolling seas on way to Hamilton Island

 Buggies at Hamilton Island

 View of Whitsundays from our hotel on Hamilton Island

Terrace pool from our hotel room, Hamilton Island

  Front Street, Hamilton Island

One of the two highrises on Hamilton Island

Yacht Club at Hamilton Island

Cockies on verandah waiting to swoop - Go on drop a crumb we dare you

Buggies lined up on Hamilton Island
 Another pool at the Reef Hotel, Hamilton Island

 Yet another pool, Reef Hotel, Hamilton Island

 Reef Hotel, Hamilton Island

Catamarans on Catseye Beach, Hamilton Island

Church on Hamilton Island

Catseye Beach, Hamilton Island

Relaxing on Hamilton Island

 Hamilton Island Yacht Club