Sept 4-9 Brisbane
It was a long haul, about 40 hours from airport-to-airport but we made it and have been enjoying the hospitality of our friend Lynne in Brisbane. We met several years ago through the Older Travellers Branch of the Thorntree on the Lonely Planet site ...a relationship that has endured despite Steve's suspicion that anyone you meet on the internet is likely to sell you into white slavery! After the welcome we've received here I reckon he won't be muttering about that anymore.
Steve picked up some food poisoning in the LA airport, so first day in Australia was spent trying to sort that out. We made an ill-fated attempt to travel up into the mountains, on a road that corkscrewed through the eucalyptus forest. Not a good plan for someone with a tummy in turmoil.
Next day we headed north to the Emundi Markets. This is a very cool market with extraordinarily original and high quality crafts as well as fresh fruits, plants, baking, etc. We were introducted to "Lamingtons" here, apparently a staple in the grammer school bake sale menu. They are cubes of sponge cake which have dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut. $4 bought six pieces and lasted but a few hours. Excellent.
After lunch in the market we were off to Noosa Heads to walk the beaches ...THIS is why we've come back to Australia ...endless sugar-sand beaches, soft breezes, crashing surf. Love it. Was introduced to New Zealand ice cream in Noosa ...a big mistake I am thinking since it is superb. Ended the evening with fish and chips on the beach ...but they don't come anywhere close to the quality of our own beloved Moby Dick's in White Rock. No matter, we'll keep testing as we travel.
Yesterday (Sept 8) we spent the day in the mountains at O'Reilly's on the Lamington Plateau in the Green Mountain Range. This is an interesting place. There is a lodge, restaurant, and gift shop ...but highlights would be the suspended canopy walkways that take you right up into the treetops. There is even a ladder that goes right up to the top of a VERY tall tree. There is cage that protects you from falling. We sent Steve up to take photos.
There is also a botanical garden which seemed pretty good, but as someone who still refers to flowers as the "little blue things" or the "big yellow-orange ones," I am not much of a judge of botanical gardens. What is worth reporting is that the gardens and canopy walkways were free. That's pretty amazing.
O'Reilly's is also well known for its "wild" parrots. What they do is sell tourists bags of seed for $1. This encourages the parrots to come around and they certainly do. Even without any seed in my hand they were landing all over my head, hands, shoulders - big green/red ones and medium-sized bright blue/red ones. Obviously I'm not much more into "birding" than I am into "gardening."
Tomorrow we begin the big adventure ...flying off to Darwin to collect the campervan and begin the route 'round the continent. Stay tuned.