Gettin' the ball rollin'
Trip Start Sep 09, 2008
18Trip End Apr 2009
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We found the car we wanted on Wednesday, the first day we went looking, but it needed a few "simple" things done, and Tom's mechanic was apparently too busy. Meanwhile we dragged our weary snot-infested carcasses around Brisbane, scoping out other possible vehicles worthy of our voyage, camping gear, and doing a little bit of sightseeing. I'm pretty certain we walked circles around the city! We definitely covered some serious ground anyway.
Brisbane is a fantastic city, and the weather has been brilliant! Blue skies and warm sunshine with just the right amount of cool breeze and plenty of gorgeous big trees to provide a bit of shade whenever you need it. The city has lots of wondrous little parks and probably the most curvaceous river I have ever seen, meandering right through the city centre.
I think our favourite part of the city was South Bank, where the entire riverfront begs you to stroll leisurely along until you find you find the relaxing spot that has been calling your name, to take a load off for a while. The walkway is covered with an awesome arbour made of curvy steel posts that come to a soft and curly peak overhead, without actually touching; but the best part about it is the vibrant fuscia bougainvillea that climbs the posts and spreads out along the thin cables connecting each post to the next, all the way along the walkway. So pretty! Little cafes and shops are nestled here and there in amongst the curves of the arboured pathway, while great pockets of lush green foliage dominate the surrounding spaces. And then, somewhere in the middle is the "City Beach," a marvelously landscaped mini-beach complete with sand, palm trees and grassy hills. It is the PERFECT little inner-city getaway for kids of every age. The most recent addition to the South Bank promenade is one of those massive gondola-ferris wheel things - a la "London Eye." We quite happily took a spin on that that for a scenic aerial view of the river and the city sprawling outwards from its banks.
An extra special treat was dinner out with a local - our friend Nik from our MacBackpacker days - who was, of course, as entertaining as ever. She took us out for an Asian feast at a local uni student hotspot, and gave us some insider tips on where to go in Brisbane.
And now, Friday was suddenly upon us and we were under the pump to buy a car and get it registered etc. before everything closed for the weekend... HOWEVER, Tom's trusty mechanic was not so accommodating. Tommo finally rang us just after lunch to inform us that the car would not be ready until Monday at the earliest!! BAD NEWS! So we were now car-less and bed-less as of Saturday morning with no way to get our gear organized. So, with this sob story we beat down Tom's defenses, leading him to offer us an extra $200 off the car to cover our extra accommodation expenses over the weekend while we waited for the car, PLUS (this is the best part) good ol' Tommo lent us a car for the weekend so we could do all our shopping for camping gear... and not just any car - HIS car! Heck yah! An old beamer, no less. So we bombed around Brisbane in Tom's beamer, using Tom's gas, to buy all our camping necessities. Poor little car was packed to the hilt - we could not have squeezed another thing into it! And so, we trundled out to a big fancy caravan park on Brisbane's north end, and set up our new palace for the weekend. What a guy, that Tom. :)
Finally the car - OUR car - was ready to roll on Monday afternoon at 2:30 and after finalizing the deal with Tom and scraping through the roadworthy inspection with an angry little mechanic man, we made it into Queensland Transport to get it rego'd with literally not a moment to spare. What a gong show! But alas, all's well that ends well! We are the proud new owners of a 1993 Toyota Camry wagon - candy apple red (wouldn't have it any other way!!). Me-OW! She's a beaute! We haven't quite settle on a name, although we're leaning towards "Charlie" (the feminine version of course - as in the hot officer woman in Top Gun).
So we FINALLY left Brisbane on Tuesday, albeit a bit later than we had hoped which means we only made it 4 or 5 hours up the road, and that was only because we decided to drive until dark and stay in a motel instead of setting up the tent. The fabulous Panda Motel in Childers, provided us a place to lay our head that night... I'm guessing it was rated about 1 star... but the price was right!
We managed to leave Childers the next morning by 7am, psyched for a long day's drive. Our goal was to reach MacKay (pronounced Ma-kye), 660km north of Childers, in time to set up camp before dark, which tends to settle around 5:30ish. And that we did... although we then picked a caravan park which was yet another 40min up the road. Slight error in judgement there as far as setting up in daylight is concerned, but it's a beautiful spot - only a stone's throw from the beach in the heart of Cape Hillsborough national park. We had a few hitches in the tent erecting, which caused a wee bit of tension.... But the relationship has survived. :)
Our campground is nestled in amongst the trees within hearing distance of the soothing sound of the tides as they rise and fall. There is plenty of interesting wildlife around. Kangaroos and wallabies go cruising through as they please, and come to be fed on the beach every morning and evening. Some of them come across from a small island just off the shore at low tide times... although I've just learned that they can swim just as well!
On our first night here, we saw a possum in our campsite, AND there was a fella in the next one over who had come across a diamond python that he was taking around for show and tell. There are many new and interesting birds with new and interesting sounds to rouse us in the morning. The most peculiar being the brush turkey, of which there are a few roaming around like they own the place. They're a bit smaller than regular turkeys and predominantly black in colour except for their heads which are dark red with a yellow "collar" and a little bit of grey in their bosom area.
Today felt like the first REAL day of holiday. We got up early - 6:15am - to see all the roos and wallabies on the beach. It was just after sunrise so it was quite picturesque. We still had some organizing to do in the tent which we took care of after breakfast and then went for a nice cooling swim in the pool, followed by lunch. We spent a couple hours in the afternoon hiking up a fair sized hill to take in some great views of the park. The path led us through a lovely patch of rainforest with lots of butterflies swirling around us, and down to a totally deserted beach on the other side. The sand was decorated with hundreds of thousands of little sand balls left behind by little burrowing crabs in random patterns that look as though they might have been the original inspiration to Australian aboriginal art. We then proceeded to take some inappropriate photos with my favourite trees - "dick trees" as Dave and I refer to them as - before wandering back to the campsite along the beach. Dinner was preceded by another relaxing play in the pool (oh the stress of it all!) and followed by a little marshmallow roasting around our petite campfire in the fire pit hand-crafted by none other than yours truly. :) Mmmmmmmmm.... Marshmallows. The perfect end to a perfect day.