Sunday, October 30, 2011

Melbourne > Fraser Island > Toowoomba > Brisbane

I arrived in Brisbane to the excitement of seeing another good friend from my Banff days waiting for me at the airport. Sue and I met on New Years Eve 2006 in Banff because the boys we were dating are great friends. We were both the new girls in town and before you knew it, we were taking road trips to Vancouver and hanging out frequently. I last seen Sue when I decided to visit her in Montreal in 2009 so it has been 2.5 years since I have seen her... And it never felt like we missed a thing. I also met her amazing boyfriend, Joel, and before long I felt like I had also known him for years.

Before we even left the airport parking lot we were laughing and chatting about old times and Sue was clearly pumped to have me there, which was great, because it was mutual. The first day we headed back to their home in Toowoomba, a cute little city a few hours inland. It was Sues birthday so we ordered in some Thai food and the great conversations were still flowing. We hit the hay relatively early that evening because of our early morning departure to Fraser Island. I also forgot to mention that Sue and Joel have an orange tree in their backyard which I took full advantage of.

The next morning after the "ute" was all packed up (what we would call a truck) we headed out to Fraser. It was a pretty long and exhausting trip. Well, that's what Joel said because I was sleeping in the backseat the whole time lol) so we were all pretty happy and excited when we arrived at Rainbow Beach. Rainbow is the "port" so to speak.... since Fraser is an island, you have to take a little ferry across to the other side. Not as easy as it sounds, however. You are driving on a beach, on actual sand, so 4x4 vehicles are the only ones who can make it through, and there's even a solid possibility that the "ute" will get "bogged". (Which means stuck in case you were wondering) Joel being the mans man he is, let some air out of his tires to gain more ground and took off across the sand.... We were headed across the water in no time.

Not only is sand the issue, but so is timing. If it's high tide, you cant drive since you have to drive on the shore line. And of course with the water coming in and out of the shores and the freshwater lakes continually draining into the ocean, that means divots and many unforeseen bumps along the way... And the speed limit is 80 on the "highway" so that all combined makes for a pretty interesting experience

But enough with the technicalities, this place was a little piece of heaven on earth. The water is crystal clear and the bluest of blues and the most turquoise of the turquoisiset and the most beautiful of the beautiful. Joels parents had set up shop before our arrival which had a great kitchen set up, a bathroom, and then a camper with the bedrooms set up on the side, all attached, with a floor. Awesome camping. Those who know me know that I am not much of a camper.. I pay rent to live in a house, if I wanted to be homeless, I wouldn't pay my rent, right? I even have a air freshener in my car that says "I love not camping" but I had to bust out that inner 10% of Saskatchewan farm girl in me and that was surprisingly not hard at all. At least not hard when every morning when you unzip your tent, your first sight of the day is the crashing waves of the Pacific ocean just fifty feet in front of you. Amazing.

We did some day treks out there as well, which were also breathtaking. We went to Orchid beach and Indian Head point one day where we saw some incredible wildlife. At Orchid beach I could see Humpback whales breeching and slapping around which was incredible on it's own, then onto Indian Head Point where I seen manta rays, sea turtles, possibly a shark and even a little dolphin family jumping on by. All from the top of a huge rock. It was so surreal to see dolphins in their natural environment, swimming and jumping with their crew. Oh yeah, and we also saw a dingo that Joel miraculously predicted seconds prior! Cute little mutts!

The next day we went to Lake MacKenzie, which is a centrally located freshwater lake in the middle of Fraser. I'm convinced the drive to and from was the best part. 4x4ing through the island was so much fun and exciting, because you never knew if you could make it or not without getting stuck, and you know damn well it's a looooong trek back if a tire pops. I loved the drives out there... my friends, good music, good conversations, good trails and thankfully, a good driver!!

The walks on the beach and the Coleman stove top cooking had to come to an end at some point though. We headed back into Toowoomba that night and I entertained them for pretty much the entire trip back with the stories from my soap opera life. Sue says I should write a book, but I say my friends would kill me! Lol! That night I dazzled them with my secret recipe for guacamole (secret recipe can be found online at and Joel and Sue cooked up some awesome pizzas. We took the night to relax and I uploaded some ( by some I mean approx 1600) photos to Facebook and then headed to bed. The next day we just hung out and relaxed as I was off again in the morning to Brisbane.

Saying good bye at the Greyhound station was sad. Sad because I wasn't sure if my head would be sawed off on the back of the bus and sad because I once again had to say goodbye to more friends. Sue and Joel were the greatest hosts and went out of their way for me so many times. I never lifted a finger while I was with them and they even cooked me all specialty meals with special ingredients that they specifically picked out for my annoying vegetarian lifestyle. They were fun, funny and exciting to be around. They are a great pair and I'm excited for them as they move into their first REAL home together very shortly. Thank you guys so much, you were a huge highlight of the last few months. Love you! Now hurry up and get married so I have an excuse to come back ;)

From great hosts to more great hosts!!

My moms best friend, Francy, has been good friends and pen pals with a great lady from the Brisbane area named Kay and her husband, Malcolm, for quite a few years. While I was in Regina this summer for Hannas wedding, Kay and Malcolm also flew in for it and we were able to catch up a little bit. Since it had been over 20 years since I had seen them last, we had lots to catch up on, so we said we would get together in Australia. I don't know if they knew what they were getting themselves into, but I ended up sticking around for four days! It was great to be able to stay with them and meet their families (cutest grandchildren!) and their little pup, Jockey. It was so crazy when Kay brought out the albums from her trips to Canada and seeing my family in her photos, and seeing so many pictures of my best friends Hanna and Lucas and Francy in her albums as well. One picture that they have in their albums, my mom has in one of her old albums as well so it was crazy to piece it all together.

Malcolm and Kay also played the great role of not only making me feel at home, ut showing me their home as well with two big day tours of the Brisbane, Sunshine coast areas. We went to Maleny for scones and tea and seen great views of the Glasshouse mountains, Monteville to do some shopping in all the little shops and then the Mapleton Hotel for lunch. We then stopped at Caloundra and Shelly beach and took a drive past Kings and Duckies beaches. Must have been wedding season because we saw four weddings in just that one afternoon.

We also went to a lookout with a great view of the city and saw a great part of the Brisbane area country side. My last day in Brisbane, I took the train into the central area with intentions of checking out the inner city vibe to only be let down by downpours. So I wandered into a movie theatre where I was instantly attracted to Lion King. So I said "akuna matatta" and went to the movie instead of getting drenched outdoors. After the movie, I walked to a small cafe and drank some tea watching the passerby's, then headed to a book store where I picked up "Bright Shiny Mornings" by James Frey, and then back on the train to the suburb of Petrie for the night. Malcolm and Kay were so kind to get up at 4am and made sure I got to the airport in time for my flight. Thanks so much guys for your hospitality. I really appreciate all the meals and for letting me stay with you.... My home is always open to you as well... But maybe wait til I move somewhere a little more interesting :)

Up next: Cairns Great Barrier Reef experience, Whitsunday Islands and Byron Bay

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