Sunday, January 15, 2017

Oz: "What's That Sound?"

Brisbane, Australia... surprising source of "native drumbeat."
Adam and Eve, Queensland Art Gallery, Papua New Guinea exhibit.
Brisbane, Australia's 3rd largest city...

Waiting for me in the entry area of Brisbane's Queensland Art Gallery, Wayne wore a bemused smile. 

"I was sitting there, wondering about the native drum beat, where it was coming from," he explained.  "Then I realized -- it was the escalator!"

I listened.... 

There was a steady thumpa-thumpa-thumpa reminiscent of that could well have tied into the exhibit downstairs on Papua New Guinea, or even the Aboriginal art nearby on the main level.

We had a good laugh about it.

Then again, Brisbane's metro population is 2.3 million, urban area 3.4 million, about on par with our hometown Portland Oregon's metropolitan statistical area, which places it 23rd in the United States.
Modern art portion of Queensland Art Gallery's Papua New Guinea's exhibit.
One of a series of whimsical wheelbarrows.  Brisbane, Australia.

We've spent a goodly part of the last two years in second and third-world countries.  Even in New Zealand, we didn't hang out in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, and only spent an afternoon in Wellington, Kiwi-land's other modern metro. 

We enjoyed Brisbane's Queensland Art Galley.  

Free entry, and it provided an eclectic mix.... Aboriginal art, European masterpieces you could walk up to and nearly touch, a special Papua New Guinea exhibit ranging from native to modern elements and even a Chinese artist's whimsical transformation of everyday items -- like sneakers -- into classic Dutch-style ceramics.  And, on a hot sunny day of walking, it was air conditioned.

Ahhh, modern conveniences!

An Australian visits Papua New Guinea.  Queensland Art Galley, Brisbane Australia.
Classical style jacaranda painting, with actual jacaranda blooms scattered below it
on the floor.  The jacaranda were blooming at the time in Brisbane, Australia.
Location Location
This is a recent retrospective of our time, November 30 - December 2, 2016 in Brisbane (aka "Bris-Vegas"), Queensland Australia (S27.27.233E153.11.427), at the Manly Bay Trailer Boat Club (MBTBC)
Location, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia.
We're currently in Pittwater, New South Wales, Australia (S33.39.433 E151.18.051), about an hour's drive (in light traffic) and four hour's sail (in good conditions) from Sydney.   Here, we're most likely to hear the laugh of the kookaburra, or the oddly amusing screech of the sulpher-crested cockatoo.

Up Next
Working on catch-up posts (including more posts about Brisbane), searching for a camper van for our next nomadic home, and getting s/v Journey ready to sell.   Even now, much as we appreciate access to modern conveniences again, we are longing to return to spaces where most of what we need most of the time is in easy walking distance.  We plan to seek out those experiences on our road trip.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Oz's Gold Coast: Freebies from "Bum's Bay"

skyscrapers in the background against a blue sky, ocean foreground
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.  Creativity required to spend time there on a tight budget.  Read on for some ideas.

Blue blubber jellyfish on the surfer beach near Marine Stadium
aka "Bum's Bay."  Gold Coast, Queensland Australia.
Gold Coast, Australia, like Hinterlands, hardly seems like a real name for a real place.  Both are, in Queensland.

Working our way from Bundaberg to the Sydney area, we anchored in Marine Stadium, aka "Bum's Bay," a stone's throw from the Queensland, Australia glittery city of Gold Coast.*  

*For more info on cruising Australia's Queensland coast, check out Endless Summer's older but still chock full of good info summary.

Beaches and parks in immediate walking distance of Marine Stadium offer swimmers, surfers, dog walkers, bird watchers, picnickers plenty of places to see and stop.
black headed bird with yellow face and long scrawny legs "Elvis like"
Masked lapwing bird aka plover, which we nicknamed "The Elvis Bird."   Gold Coast, Queensland Australia.

2 red-eyed pigeons with mohawk-like crests against a water background, grass and rock foreground
These crested pigeons with the mohawk-like dos and red eyes look like bird with attitude.  Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.
Even though we're not keen on franchises and big-box super-malls, after spending much of our last several years in second and third world countries, we confess to gluttonously going to the movies and restocking our provisions, even though we did so at the sterile and un-inviting Australia Fair shopping megalopolis. Fortunately, our bumblebee-themed Freebie from East Coast Car Rental* was easy to spot in the mega-malls dim parking garage.

*chosen because their prices were decent and they were willing to pick us up for the rental and drop off afterward
juxtaposition art native vs city Art Centre Gold Coast QLD Australia
Natives and skyscraper image, Art Centre Gold Coast, Queensland Australia.
At the same time, a large part of why we left to go cruising was to avoid the boring sameness and overly consumer-oriented culture so predominant in USA's cities and suburbs.  
Gold Coast Art Centre bench in Evansdale sculpture walk
Practical art.  Evandale sculpture walk.  Gold Coast, Queensland Australia.
Besides heading to the Hinterlands, we wanted to wheel our way to other free and easy adventures in the Gold Coast area.  With just a little time left before our rental car was due back, we headed over to the Evandale sculpture walk and Arts Centre Gold Coast (both free) about a 20-minute drive from Marine Stadium.  
Gold Coast Art Centre building Queensland Australia, easy to spot

There wasn't a whole lot on display at the Art Center, though their auditorium for movies and performances is massive (plus some smaller rooms, also used for movies).  Had we known, we'd far preferred to see our movies at the Art Centre than at Australia Fair mall.  Even there wasn't much to see, a brief stop in the Centre makes sense if you're there to stroll the sculpture gardens.
Gold Coast Australia's Evandale sculpture walk pond, sandy and swimmable
Oasis in an urban setting.  Pond in Evandale sculpture walk, Gold Coast, Queensland Australia.

Chris ponders Antone Bruinsma's sculpture,
Sophia's Seat of Initiation.  The more walk around and look
at Antone's mythical sculptures, the more you see.
Evandale's sculpture walk wends its way through a pleasant setting, skirting a small pond and Gold Coast cityscape view across the Nerang River.  A kid's party complete with a rented bouncy-room made for some fun people watching.  I also got a kick out of the whimsical, colorful par course, which I couldn't resist test-driving.  While the simple abstract metal sculptures didn't wow me, there were some intriguing storytelling sculptures, particularly Dutch-Australian Antone Bruinsma's work.

Though many of the sculptures lacked imagination, if I were into phone apps, I could've entered another realm to view Evandale's imaginary 3D virtual sculptures.  Curious?  Check out unseen GC, on exhibit through the summer of 2017.

All in all, I wouldn't make Gold Coast my destination of choice. If you're there, with car, looking for something free to do with your time, the Evansdale walk and art center is a good hour and a half stop, longer if you want to put the par course for a serious plein air work-out.  Or, plan your Evandale trip around a movie. 

Par course whimsey.  Evandale sculpture
walk, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

With better parking karma and a different bent for something to satisfactory for our posse of four, strolling Surfer's Paradise long beach promenade, akin to Miami Florida (and there is even an area called Miami in Gold Coast) crossed with Venice Beach, when the evening markets would've provided ample entertainment.  We got a small taste in our drive-by on the way back from the Hinterlands.

Of course, if money is no object, you'll find oodles of options to empty your wallet at theme parks, rides and more, where you can do your part making Gold Coast live up to its name.  It is a true playground for all ages.

As for us, we took the first weather window we could to make our way south.

Enjoy the city view while you work out.  Evandale
sculpture walk, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. 
Location Location
This is a recent retrospective of our time, December 5-11, 2016 in Marine Stadium (aka "Bum's Bay"), Gold Coast, Queensland Australia (S27.56.790 E153.25.424).  We're in Pittwater, New South Wales, Australia (S33.39.433 E151.18.051), about an hour's drive (in light traffic) and four hour's sail (in good conditions) from Sydney.   

Up Next
Working on catch up posts, searching for a camper van for our next nomadic home, and getting s/v Journey ready to sell. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Oz: Sydney's Crazy, Happy New Year

boats anchored in Farm Cove near Sydney Opera House and Sydney Bridge for fireworks
Sydney's spectacular New Year's Eve display (pilfered from Sydney Morning Herald -
my images do not even remotely due credit to the show).  Somewhere in the silhouettes is us and our boat!
"Yeah - Sydney's an awesome place to spend New Year's Eve - along with 10,000 other boats, most of whom normally never get behind the wheel.  Got a friend there with a boat?" Darren Parker, of DBY Boat Sales laconically asked. Darren knew we have a boat as we're gearing up to sell it through DBY.

Most of the yachties we know either sail boats like ours -- a bit too cosy for four, or, they already were full up with friends and family for the big event.
Even days before Sydney's world famous New Year's eve fireworks. we were agog with the lights of the city, including this ferris wheel on the other side of the Sydney Bridge.
What the heck -- if we could survive 18,000+ miles of sailing halfway around the world, which included getting hit twice by catamarans (this time, and this time), we could survive Sydney Harbour, New Year's Eve (madness) or not.

Thus, two days early, we staked out our spot at Farm Cove, the closest we could get to Sydney Bridge and Opera House.  That was the epicenter for Sydney's world famous New Years Eve display, with fireworks going off the bridge, and off two fireworks barges parked off the bridge.  No worries about sharing our space with superyachts -- 15 meters (49 feet) was the biggest boat allowed anchorage in Farm Cove.

At that point, there were only 6 of us boats anchored there.  The skies were gray, and we've had far calmer passages that rolly, regularly waked anchorage.  The entertainment and anticipation far outweighed the inconvenience and discomfort, when it took clever tactics to keep anything loose inside our boats from going airborne and landing with a hard thump.
Ovation of the Sea, dwarfing the Sydney Bridge, the night before "the big event."  No cruise ships allowed for that.

We watched the more sedate ginormous cruise ship, Ovation of the Sea, dwarf the Sydney Bridge as made its leviathan way exiting the harbor for the sea.

In the wee hours, calm reigned, briefly.  As a test run for the upcoming festivities, the bridge put on a light show, strobing and beaming in blue, turquoise, red, magenta, indigo, green, yellow and white lights.

By the time New Year's Eve fireworks kicked in, there were ~200 boats in Farm Cove and "the Island" a floating diner, booked for a private party for the eve.
Neville and Catherine, getting into the holiday spirit aboard their sailboat Dreamtime, in Farm Cove, Sydney.
Our friends Neville and Catherine chose their location brilliantly.  They anchored right next to the exclusion zone line, which gave them an unobstructed view of the fireworks.  "I want to be as close as I possibly can to seven tons of fireworks."  They did have to move when some local officials came by New Year's Eve day, when the anchorage was already packed, and pushed everyone near the line, back.  That took some doing, given the density of boats.

Friends Marce and Frank of Escape Velocity moved from "just as crazy" Apple Bay to Farm Cove, noting, "We didn't travel 12,000 miles to see Sydney's New Year's eve fireworks at a distance."  Good thing, as while visiting them from my kayak, I pushed a boat about to hit them, away.

For non-yachties... how close is too close for boats to anchor next to each other?  
A close call in Sydney's Farm Cove, New Year's Eve.  Note the classic glare combined with hands-on-hips pose, quaintly referred to amongst yachties in the know as "bitch wings."  In this case, the pose proved effective.
There's two parts to it.  

The first part is how much chain and/or rope there needs to be between the boat and the anchor.  Our minimum is usually 5:1.  That means in a 30 foot anchorage, like Farm Cove, we would put out 150 feet of chain.  

Assuming everyone around us is doing something similar, and that they're good enough at anchoring that that don't "drag" (that their anchor stays in one place), then it's just a question of "swing room".  Swing room is how much surface area a boat needs clear around it in order to not hit anything (like another boat); even on a well anchored boat shifts occur due to wind, tide, current and wakes from other passing boats.  
One of many official attempts to restore order within the harbour.  Farm Cove, Sydney, New Year's Eve.
For example, if there's 150 feet of chain, less 30 feet to the bottom, plus the length of the boat -- in our case that's 37 feet, that we should ideally retain 157 foot arc around our boat.  Other boats around us would have a similar arc -- in theory, for safety, those arcs should not overlap.For those who cut it closer, and unwilling to do the math, 3 boat lengths -- typically at least 100-120 feet, is a widely accepted minimum.

Pretty much everyone in the anchorage was MUCH closer than that.  Collisions ensued.  We were called by a friend in the anchorage to alert us to a boat that came near hitting us several times, and we watched one on our other side, which also repeatedly came within less than 10 feet.  Amazingly, we didn't get hit.

Fortunately, despite being packed like sardines and lots of alcohol, everyone was pretty pleasant.  We were all there to have a good time.

In fact, while neither Wayne nor I are much for crowds, "yachter-tainment" aka "yacht tv" (watching the ineptitude and antics of other yachties) was at its finest.  There were buff guys in hot pink speedos.  Partiers jumping off the tops of tall small fishing boats.  A current-aged beach boy look-alike swimming throughout the anchorage and inviting himself aboard (a friend's boat).  A whacky ancient lyric popped into my head, from Sherman Allan's "My Aunt Minnie," She went to a happening.  (And didn't know what was happening.)

port authority boat spraying water in Sydney HArbour
Port Authority boat starts off the Sydney New Year's eve festivities with a sprinkler show.
There there was the show itself.

It kicked off with a pair of stunt planes, twining and looping their way in tight tandem through the sky.  A Port Authority boat acted as a mobile massive sprinkler unit.  A solo stunt pilot showed off with steep vertical climbs, followed with spiraling earthward stalls, and rapid swoops near boats and up the face of the Sydney Bridge.  As dusk ensued, large fruit bats joined them in flight.

Darkness was ushered in with the presence of a lighted boat parade, all boats decked out in white lights, the tall ship South Passage the prettiest of the bunch.

Music drifted across the water from events on both sides of the cove, a tribute to the passing music legends David Bowie and Prince (reflected in later "Purple Rain" pyrotechnics).  It was too late in the game to pay tribute to Princess Leia aka Carrie Fisher or her mum, Debbie Reynolds.

From Fairfax Media's video of Sydney's New Year's Eve fireworks.  Click here to watch it.
9 pm the first set of fireworks exploded, amidst the appropriate ooohs and ahhhhs and whoops and clicking and whirring of cameras and camphones.  Brent and Ana of Catamaran Impi did an excellent job of capturing the fireworks live - click here to see their video.

Midnight marked the finale, as the final artillery of the last of the 12,000 shells, 25,000 shooting comments and 100,000 pyrotechnic events.  A golden waterfall of light flowed over the bridge whilst the sky was ablaze with fireflowers in blues, greens, gold, violet, indigo and magenta.

$7 million dollars, gone in a puff of smoke, yet a truly glorious and epic smoke, shared to the delight of millions (and the two of us, on our little tiny sailboat, a long, long way from where we started).

As the smoke cleared, Farm Cove emptied out, while the Sydney Bridge light show continued.

view of Sydney's New Year's Eve fireworks from Farm Cove
New Year's Eve ireworks fade, as the Sydney bridge lights begin their dance.
By 11 am, New Year's day, when we left, there were only about a dozen boats still in Farm Cove.

"Did you see the 'Happy New Year Sydney' flash in the sky?" asked our new Ozzie friend Michael at the beach the next day.  He watched the fireworks from a high land vantage point.  We didn't.  Nor did we see the "Willy Wonka" moment in tribute to the comic acting genius Gene Wilder

Regardless, it was one helluva spectacular show, one we will never forget.  Fittingly, Sydney earned its place among our favorite New Year's Eves, fittingly, right up there with Havana, Cuba, two years ago, near the start of our grand voyage.

Farm Cove, still pretty awesome without the fireworks - especially after so much time in 2nd and 3rd world countries.
Sydney Australia.
Nev, in his post, concludes "Would we do it all over again next year?  Absolutely!  Although perhaps on somebody else's boat."

My hope is that we can look back at 2017 with more fondness than we did 2016.  Maybe David Bowie's "Heroes," credited with helping bring down the Berlin wall is the perfect start. Per wikipedia, Bowie scholar David Buckly wrote " 'Heroes' is perhaps pop's definitive statement of the potential triumph of the human spirit over adversity."  

Yes - let's all hum a few bars and see what we can do to make it happen... "We can be heroes, just for one day...."

A little late (though there's still 360 days left)

Happy New Year!

Calm returns to Farm Cove, Sydney in the wee hours of New Year's morning.
Location Location
We anchored in Farm Cove (S33.51.571 E151.13.187) December 29 2016 - January 1, 2017.  We are back in Pittwater (S33.39.435 E151.18.041), resuming our prep for Journey's sale.  

Up Next
We're shopping for a van camper/conversion (downsizing again!).  Once we've found a van Journey is ready for show, we'll tour Australia for a bit by land before we return to work, somewhere.  There are still lots of catch-up posts coming, some blog clean-up and posts of our overland travels.  This year, my "best of 2016" recap will be late in coming - sometime by month's end.  2016 was a pretty intense end-of-year.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Oz: Unbelievable

Sydney Harbour - Opera House and Bridge.  We're anchored right here!
Who knew five years ago , dreaming in Everett Washington, this was where we'd spend our 2017 New Year's Eve?
Surely everyone has a few moments in their lives that feel more surreal than real, as though you can hear and feel an old-fashioned movie camera, noisily whirring away in the background, to record the image for eternity.  

Stepping out of the train station in Venice, Italy marked one of those larger-than-life moments for me.  Otherwise how could I possibly in one split-second transport myself from a mundane train station into a gloriously decaying and yet justly romanticized masterpiece of  European civilization -- a picture post-card, a miasma of ancient canals, bridges, and crumbling churches?

Five years ago, Wayne and I decided to go cruising.  Not just in our backyard, spectacular as the Pacific Northwest waterways are.  We weren't sure if we wanted to circumnavigate.  We were sure we wanted to cross biggest ocean of all, the Pacific.  We knew we wanted to sail to Australia.  

We were aiming for sunny skies, warm waters, exotic cultures.  We wanted to go where we could live in swimsuits (or less) --  into the tropics.  We knew we wanted to see French Polynesia, to swim with the fishies, work on our tans, eat coconuts, drink cheap rum and dance in the moonlight.  

We weren't sure if Australia would be our chosen end-of-the-line for this grand journey, though guessed it might well be.

And here we are - 4 1/2 years and 30 countries later, in our humble yet reliable 1977 36 1/2 foot Pearson sailboat, s/v Journey, anchored less than a mile from the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  We've staked out our spot for Sydney's epic New Year's Eve fireworks.

Fittingly, next to us in the anchorage is Neville and Catherine of Dreamtime, whose blog inspired Wayne to quit his lucrative Boeing job for the adventure of a lifetime.  

Also here are our newfound Ozzie friends John and Andrea, on Christine, who we got to know just a few short stops ago in the little town of Laurieton.

What an epic way to end our travels on Journey!  And still, as real as it is, it's still somewhat unbelievable that we're here.  Let the fireworks begin!

Location Location
Sydney Harbour's Farm Cove (S33.51.571 E151.13.187) Australia.

Up Next
Still lots of catch-up posts to go.  We return to Pittwater January 4th to resume preparing our boat for sale.  We'll travel Australia by van (
and blog about that, too!) for several months once our boat is ready to show.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Oz: Hinterlands -- Yes, Really A Place

Hinterlands free places to go
Cedar Falls swim area, Tamborine Mountain, Hinterlands, Queensland Australia.
Bumblebee colored East Coast Car Rental FreeBee
Chris(topher) mugs for the camera with our East Coast Car Rental
while Wayne and Chris(tine) figure out where we're headed in
Mount Tamborine, Hinterlands, QLD, Australia.
What would you expect from a couple of cruisers anchored for free on the Gold Coast section derisively known as "Bum's Bay," but to escape the cityscape in search of free stuff to do?  Who then were we to resist checking out the real place referred to as Australia's Hinterlands?  

Chris and Chris of Scintilla, who we wandered Fraser Island with, were of like mind.... And car rentals cost half as much when you split the fee.

We got off to a better-than-expected start in our pursuit of frugal fun.  We were willing to pay the few extra bucks to rent a car from East Coast Car Rentals because unlike other Gold Coast car rental companies, they were willing to pick us up for the rental and drop us off after its return.  

near Green Mountain, Lamington National Park, QLD, Oz
Lookout just outside Green Mountain portion of Hinterland's Lamington National Park.  QLD, Australia.
Our lucky day - the manager asked if we posted on Facebook ("Yes! And I do a travel blog!" I offered up) and gave us a FeeBee.  Free.  Their bumblebee billboard on wheels, which was a pretty sweet deal.  They even threw in the insurance - all we paid was to replenish the fuel we used driving.

Lamington National Park free activities, Hinterlands, near Gold Coast Australia
Bird-feeding time at O'Reilly's, Lamington National Park,
Hinterlands, QLD, Australia.
The tricky bit about exploring the Hinterlands is that if you want to check out several places, you'll quickly find there are no shortcuts.  The area is mountainous, and the roads through the Hinterlands are more like fingers joined only at the palm.  Thus, if time is limited, despite the see-it-in-a-day driving guide, you'll find need to narrow down what you want to see.  

We settled on O'Reilly's TreeTop walk first, in the Green Mountain portion of Lamington National Park*.  By the time we arrived, after a brief break for a bite, and a turnoff for a lookout point just outside the park, it was late morning.  

*Lamington Park is a collection of sites, and yet another Unesco World Heritage site, part of Gonwanda Rainforests of Australia.

O'Reilly's"wild"  birds, Lamington National Park, QLD Australia
Wayne and his bird buddy.  Lamington National Park, Hinterlands,  QLD, Australia.
O'Reilly's, Lamington National Park wildlife.  QLD Australia.
Bird in tree.  O'Reilly's, Hinterlands, Oz.
Serendipitously, we'd arrived during bird feeding time.  We got a kick out of watching oodles of colorful parroty birds eat and land on visitors heads, arms, and shoulders.  After one bird settled on Wayne's shoulder, he tried to woo one atop his head, placing bird seed there.  No luck.  Seems a bird on the shoulder is better than none one head.  

More fortunately, the bird left no "calling card" behind.  And as much as we got a kick out of the little boy who happily encouraged the birds to land on his bare arms, we also hope he did a good job making sure if he got any cuts, he disinfected them well.  We noticed he did get some scrapes and understand the birds carry a lot of infection that can cause issues.

Tourists viewing replicate of crashed plane at Lamington National Park Australia
Chris and Wayne checking out the handsome full-sized Stinson plane replica at O'Reilly's, Lamington National Park, QLD, Oz.
We also checked out O'Reilly's an impressive full-sized Stinson plane replica, in honor of a family member who rescued two plane crash survivors.  The original plane, which crashed in the area, was missing for 10 days before Bernard O'Reilly found it.  Once he did, he returned the next morning with a doctor to treat and transport the remaining survivors for recovery.  Five didn't survive; four died on impact, and one due to exposure during his attempt to seek help for the other two.  

Unique tropical forest tree in Lamington National Park
Intriguing Booyang tree trunk, Lamington Natl. Park,
Hinterlands, QLD, Australia.
Just a stone's throw from the bird feeding area, the Booyang Walk, which leads to the TreeTop walk was easily visible.  Placards describe the unique subtropical birds and trees.  There's a strong sense of other worldliness amidst these ancient giants, further enhanced by the day's gray skies.  It's east to imagine being alternately enchanted or haunted by creatures amidst the mists of this ancient forest.

Wonga vine at Unesco World Heritage site Lamington National Park QLD. Australia's Hinterlands.
Wonga vine, assertively twisting its way to the sunlight.
Lamington Natl. Park, QLD, Australia.

At the same time, it's a nature's playground for all ages.... Squat down and climb inside the cave-like inside of a bygone giant stranger fig and look up at the sunlight seeping through openings in the trunk.  Determine your level of acrophobia as you sway your way across the high, tree-top suspension bridges.  Or again, along with testing your sense of claustrophobia as you shimmy up the cage-enclosed metal ladder to check out the tree-top lookout.  

Tree Top walk attraction Lamington National Park QLD Australia
Followed the sign....
Time to duck inside.
The long look up inside a strangler fig. Booyong Trail,
Lamington Natl. Park. QLD, Australia's Hinterlands.
Alas, due to the overcast, and "can't see the forest for the trees," the treetop lookout view was not that outstanding, though oddly worth it simply for the experience.  It harkened back fond childhood memories of the tall treehouse my Dad built in our Sacramento, California backyard, amidst the ancient oaks, peering out over the meadows beyond our fence line.

Ladder to Tree Top lookout O'Reily's
Chris scales the treetop lookout ladder.
Lamington Natl. Park, QLD's Hinterlands in Australia.

Chris, one one of several suspension bridges, O'Reilly's Tree Top trail.
Lamington Natl. Park, QLD, Hinterlands, Oz.

Beyond the Booyang Walk, we followed the signs to the Mountain Garden.  We hadn't heard about it in our prior research.  A volunteer supported orchid garden, we wandered its twisty paths, enjoying its variety of flowers, and its magnificent ferns.  The biggest treat was the mama skink, tending to her babies, speckled like fawns.  The same kids we enjoyed feeding the birds quietly pointed us to them.

After a picnic lunch which drove home the point the birds don't read the park's "Don't feed the birds" sign, we figured we had just a few more hours of daylight left before we wanted to be off Hinterland's narrow, twisty roads.  

We figured we could slip in a short hike at Mt. Tamborine Park,and headed that way.

What trip to the Hinterlands would be complete without seeing a kangaroo in the wild? On the way to Mt. Tamborine, Wayne spotted a wallaby -- a small kangaroo -- at the fringe of the road.  It cooperated just long enough to stay in sight for the rest of us, after we u-turned to check it out.

We selected Mt. Tamborine's Cedar Creek trail, a short hike with a pleasant series of waterfalls.  After all the hustle and bustle tourism of Gold Coast, it was nice to stop at a spot that was clearly a local hang-out.  There's a real sweetness to watching families cool off together on a hot afternoon, swimming in pools by the falls.  We much prefer that to the mega-bucks family attractions in Gold Coast, through they have their place.

Baby skinks in the wild (viewed through a 60x zoom) of Mountain Garden, Lamington Natl. Park, QLD, Australia.
Mountain Garden, Lamington National Park ferns
As sunset approached, we ended our drive by cruising the biggest Gold Coast attraction of all... it's nearly endless beaches.

Our take-away.... The Hinterlands is far more than a middle-of-no-where reference.  It's a real place, worth far more time than the one-day blitz we gave it.  In an ideal world, visit it for a week or so, camping and hiking and immersing yourself in its exotic tapestry of birdsong and fecund jungle.  It takes time to appreciate the wonders spread out across it's one-of-a-kind terrain.  Still, we're grateful we got to see what we did of the Hinterlands.  

unusual flower at Orchid Mountain Garden Hinterlands Australia
One among the many blooms at Lamington National Park's Mountain Gardens.  LQD Australia.
Considering how much we enjoyed the Hinterlands, guess that means Timbuktu is on our bucket list.  Then again, we've no plans to visit Africa, which as it currently stands, is unlikely to fit our paltry travel budget. 

wild wallaby in the bush of the Hinterlands
Wallaby - a smaller member of the kangaroo family,  Seen in the wilds of Australia's Hinterlands.
Location Location
This is a recent retrospective of our time, December 5-11, 2016 in Marine Stadium (aka "Bum's Bay"), Gold Coast, Queensland Australia (S27.56.790 E153.25.424).  We're in Pittwater, New South Wales, Australia (S33.39.433 E151.18.051), an hour's drive and four hour's sail from Sydney -- or so we're told.  

wild turkey roaming grass at O'Reilly's Lamington Natiuonal Park Hinterlands Australia
No wonder turkey isn't as popular in Australia!  These wild ones run rampant in Queensland.  We've seen better-looking vultures.
Cruising By the Numbers

  • Our November 2016 sail from New Caledonia to Australia, 790 miles
  • Our September 2016 sail from Vanuatu to New Caledonia, 305 miles.
  • Our August 2016 sail from Fiji to Vanuatu, 525 miles.
  • We cruised just under 440 miles in Fiji, between late May and early August.  
  • Our May 2016 sail from New Zealand to Fiji, 1090 miles.
  • December 2015 - May 2016 if we weren't cruising New Zealand or hunkering, we were making massive road trips from New Zealand's tip to its tail.
  • From December 2014 - November 2015 we sailed from Northern Florida's Atlantic side to New Zealand, over 10,000 miles, with more than a few stops in between.
  • December 2013 - May 2014 we sailed 1792  miles from Jacksonville Florida to the Bahamas and back.
  • March 2012 we bought Journey in St. Lucia.  September 2012 we moved aboard, did some boat work, then sailed her to Jacksonville Florida by June 2013, 3762 miles

Lamington Natl Park bird attempting to break rules to get fed
This fella didn't read the "Don't feed the birds" sign.
We did, and obeyed.  Lamington Natl. Park.  QLD, Oz.
Up Next
We'll spend a few weeks here in Pittwater, near Sydney, for pre-sale boat work.  We plan escape briefly to see New Year's Eve fireworks from Sydney Harbour.  We've also got our eye on a used van, converted for camping, to explore Australia.  There will continue to be catch-up posts, streamlining of the blog, short video clips to add, and road trip posts.