Part 1. Brisbane Living
We didn’t spend much time exploring this city, spending just one day wandering through the cultural South Bank area and through the Queen Street shops, instead spending more time visitng family who we don’t see very often! Our cousin did give us a quick car tour though, going through New Farm, the Valley, Teneriffe and up to Mount Coot-tha for a view over the city.
Brisbane is also home to the University of Queensland where, funnily enough, our dad went to study so we took the time (and a twenty minute walk in the heat!) to check out the campus and also get our hands on some university merchandise to send home…
And of course whilst we were in Australia, we took a trip to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary where you can hug a koala and feed the roos!
It took five attempts and three koalas to get one sitting on my hands! They really don’t like me!!!
So while our time here was lacking, what we did get a glimpse of whilst we were there was a sense of their lifestyle- laid back yet upmarket- and if it weren’t for the giant spiders which lurked behind every corner, I could definitely imagine living there!
Part 2. Crazy old folks take us on a tour of Fraser Island
From Brisbane we joined a two day, one night tour to Fraser Island with Sunset Safaris. It was a pretty small group of just 10 people in a really weird looking 4×4 bus which took us from from the city up to and on to the island led by a husband-wife guide team (AKA the crazy grandparents). Now Fraser Island is a massive sand island off the Sunshine Coast and one of the few places where there are still wild dingoes to be found. You get to it by ferry (just drive your car/ bus onto it) and away you go! There are no roads, just massive expanses of sand and vehicles speeding along them. Sounds easy but be careful! It’s easy to get stuck in the sand if you don’t know what you’re doing- we ran into a car driven by a local who’d still managed to get stuck. They had to use the bus to tow them out!
Over the two days there, we saw the most beautiful white beaches, the clearest streams and even clearer night skies. The night walk we took to see them alone was worth the trip. I’d never seen so many stars before- you feel as though you’re falling into the Milky Way! We saw lots of dingoes and had plenty of warnings to keep with the group lest a hungry one comes up and eats you (it happens)… There’s also lots of poisonous snakes and funnel web spiders here so watch your step!
Part 3. Surfing on the Sunshine Coast
After a bit of research, we decided to head to Noosa on the way home from Fraser Island. It helped our choice that the tour company offers drop offs there… And that the water in Noosa is one of the best to learn to surf in- warm, chest height water on a large white sandy beach with nice baby waves. We stayed in the Noosa Heads Motel and surfed with Learn to Surf Noosa both of which were quite reasonably priced ($129 AUD/ night, $115 AUD two lessons in a day or $60AUD per lessons). The surf school even does pickups and drop offs to your accommodation which was handy since we didn’t have a car.
Our morning lesson was basically a private lesson! It was just the two of us with one instructor as all the other students were young kids from the same school and learning together. After our initial safety briefing (don’t swim against the rip, swim across to the breaking waves!) and shown some basic paddling and standing motions, we were unleashed upon the waves! Or rather, the waves were unleashed upon us…
We both managed to stand on our boards, Cat did on her first try, me a little while later, and we felt the thrill of catching a wave and riding it to the shore. Of course that was all with a bit of help from Brielle, our instructor, who would just give our boards a big push in time with the wave and shout at us to get up! On our own, things got a bit more tricky… Catching a wave and paddling ourselves was hard!! Our afternoon lesson was with a different instructor and with a bigger group (which contained a guy from our Stray bus in NZ. Awkward!) so we were left more to ourselves to go out and practice. I think I only managed to catch one wave and stand successfully by myself!
It was exhausting work but crazy satisfying. I’ve definitely caught the surfing bug and I can’t wait to go out and try again!