Posted in Australia, Travel, Uncategorized

City lights and a sand island. Brisbane – Fraser

You can’t go to the biggest city in Queensland and camp so we’d decided we’d treat ourselves to a nice city apartment in Brisbane. It had two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom with a bath!! Luxury. Sadly because we’d needed an extra day to do the Mt Warning climb we only had 2 nights in the city but we managed to get a lot done. Me and Rod had a nice stroll around the river in the afternoon and then we made the most of having a living room and got to spend the evening sat on a couch instead of a picnic bench!

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We had to make the most of our limited time in Brisbane so I joined the city commuters and was up for a run at 6. Found a lovely route that hugged the river through the botanical gardens and over Eagle point pier before crossing the Story Bridge back to Kangaroo point. Rob somehow managed to blag 2 free days at the local gym so that kept him busy whilst I was out. After our early bout of exercise we went to meet our old pal Kelly who we met in Thailand. Was lovely to see her and we enjoyed a nice spot of brunch on the Kangaroo cliffs.

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Literally had the worlds busiest afternoon after that, Brisbane has got a free bike system which gives you 30 minutes at a time to cruise around town. We picked up a couple of bikes and headed out to explore. We cruised down Southbank and got to see Brisbane’s city beach, it makes up for being 20 minutes away from the sea by having a man made beach overlooking the city. After that we hit the modern art museum, very quirky place. Then we headed over one of Brisbane’s many bridges and made our way through the shops in the city, looked like any other shopping street in any other city but nice enough.

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After that we headed out of the centre and up into the Roma Parklands, enjoyed ourselves too much in the park and went over our 30 minute cycle allowance, cost us 2 dollars each for our tardiness! We checked out China town after that, not much to see there, a few Chinese lanterns but not a dumpling in site. We stopped for a pint in an Irish bar to refresh and then last stop was the New Farm park for a mooch round the gardens. We docked up the bikes and then jumped on the free ferry back up stream to our apartment. Enjoyed our tour of Brisbane very much, it’s got a nice city feel, better than Sydney but still not a patch on our home town Melbourne!

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Soph has some family up in the Sunshine coast and they’d said we were welcome to stay so we said goodbye to Brisbane and headed up the coast to Moffat Beach. Christine and Gary were absolute legends and they happen to have an amazing house about 2 minutes from the beach which meant no more tent for another few days! Both are born and bred Wiganers so it was like home from home. They treated us to the most amazing paella at their local restaurant on the first night, I could tell we’d like it here!

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Even though we’re on a permanent holiday Gary and Christine still had to work so whilst they went off to earn some dollar we all took a day trip to Australia Zoo – the Steve Irwin zoo!! Absolutely loved Stevo growing up so I was so excited to be finally going to his zoo, didn’t disappoint either! Saw the usual animals and we got to see all the Ozzie specials, lots of kangaroos as standard but also Tasmanian devils, Echidnas, Dingoes and a Cassawray which is essentially an emu sized Turkey. Obviously it wouldn’t be Steve Irwin’s zoo if it didn’t have crocs so there was plenty of them and we even got to see them take down some meat in the Croccy show in the Crocoseum.

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Had a chilled out evening with Gary back at the gaff, he sharpened his darts and chalked up his pool sticks so we played a few games through the evening. We found out that Christine was in a Ukulele band that by chance was playing in Moffatt beach the next day, we couldn’t miss that so we decided we’d stay another night. Nothing too wild on the Friday night though because me and Rob had found a local park run for the Saturday. We tried to get Soph and James on board but with little success so we headed out without them and joined the runners of Golden Beach park run at 7am. Nice little out and back route along the sea front but rather hot in the muggy heat of Brisbane. We both managed to come in in under 27 minutes, Rob was 15 seconds in front but I let him win obviously.

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Christine’s ukulele gig was like nothing I’ve ever seen before, we walked in to a huge room absolutely ram packed with ukulele players. Reckon there was over 150 people there with the average age being 70 (and that’s being generous) but they could belt out some tunes. We were lucky enough to go to the Australia day special which meant a lot of songs singing about how great Australians are…very big headed if you ask me. But it was a good laugh and Christine even let James join her table of Uke players for some Ozzie classics.

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We made use of having a full working kitchen in the evening and made ourselves an early Sunday roast, meat was cooked on the BBQ though obviously, gotta keep it a bit Australian. The next day was time to say goodbye to Gary and Christine, belting stop over but time to keep moving up the coast, next up Noosa.

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Noosa was only an hour up the road from Moffat Beach, but we were reluctant to leave the comfort of a house and head back to the tent so we didn’t leave until late. We stopped off to have a walk around Mooloolaba on the way and then pitched up in Noosa before tea time. We were only giving ourselves one night there so we could make it a bit further up the coast before bank holiday weekend, but we tried to make the most of our time there. We went for an evening stroll along the river and then played a spot of table tennis against a French couple on the campsite.

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In the morning me and Rob put the running shoes on and went to explore, there was a river that split the main section of Noosa apart from the Sandy national park, a stretch of coast which only 4 wheel drives could negotiate but we hopped on the ferry as the only 2 foot passengers they’d had all week and crossed over to check it out. Only cost us a dollar return. We went for a run through the national park, spotted a few kangaroos and got stopped by an old bloke in a jeep who couldn’t quite understand why we were on foot on this side of the river, he was determined to give us a lift to somewhere but we explained the concept of running and he let us get on our way. We skirted through someone’s back garden by accident but eventually found the beach, it stretches for about 100km right up to Rainbow beach which was our next stop on the road trip but sadly for us our RAV4 wasn’t quite as 4 wheel drive as we thought so we were going to have to hit the road and take a 3 hour detour there. We ran along the beach for a while, joined back up to the road and saw more dead frogs than I thought possible and then headed back to the campsite with our return ferry tickets ready.

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Before we left Noosa we went for a mooch to the more popular part of the national park, no ferry required we parked up and went to explore. Jophie had a bathe in the rockpools and me and Rod went for a wander round the coastal path. We managed to spot a school of dolphins just off the rock and then found a huge monitor lizard in the bush, somewhere in all the excitement Rob managed to lose his very expensive Ray Ban glasses, this is in the same week that he lost his camera tripod and my sunglasses, and he wanders why he can’t have nice things. Anyway after a brisk walk back through the rainforest we loaded in and hit the road again.

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Our next destination was Rainbow beach, the gateway to Fraser Island, we’d chosen there over the more popular Hervey Bay to avoid the crowds whilst Australia day was approaching. We’d definitely found the quieter of the two spots, think we were the only people on the whole campsite, kitchen to ourselves though, belting. The town itself was pretty quiet as well, we went on a walk to see the Carlo Sandblow, essentially a lot of sand cutting its way through a forest, impressive sight but pretty much the only thing to see in Rainbow beach.

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The reason we were in Rainbow beach was so we could hop over and check out Fraser Island. It’s the largest sand island in the world, made of 98% sand and 2% rock, and it is pretty big, the beach stretches for over 100km. Only 4WD are allowed on the island and seen as Trav the Toyota sometimes struggled going over big speed bumps we thought it was best to leave him behind and let a professional take us round. Our ride was a big pimped up school bus, it fitted about 30 people on it but it was kitted out like a monster truck. It had no issues whizzing over the sand at 100k an hour and it made light work of the dirt tracks across the island. The tour was actually really good, our tour guide knew his stuff and we got free muffins and buffet lunch! In the morning we took a trip up to Lake Mackenzie, literally one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen, a fresh water lake on top of the island filled entirely with rain water, and so warm, just like taking a bath.

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We saw a few more of Fraser Islands highlights after lunch but ended up spontaneously taking a plane ride over the island as well. I’ve never been good at making decisions under pressure so when two pilots jumped on the bus and told us we only had one chance to go on a flight over the island and it was the cheapest scenic flight on the east coast how could we say no. Apparently one of only 2 places in the world where you can take off and land on a beach (the other happened to be in Scotland, who knew). Pretty special experience, the four of us squeezed into our own tiny plane and took off for a tour over the island, sadly for me I didn’t realise that the headphones I were wearing were broken, they were meant to be providing us with interesting commentary from the pilot, so I have no idea what we learnt but Rob assures me it was lots. The only thing I managed to hear through the whole ride was Sophie’s scream when the pilot let us feel what free falling felt like, it doesn’t feel nice believe it or not, and my dinner almost came right up with it. Back on land we cruised round the island a bit more, had a few more stop offs and then headed back to the ferry, saw our very first wild dingo on the way back too which topped off the day nicely.

Fraser island done, time to head up north for Straya day!

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