Category Archives: Queensland

What’s red and white and can be spotted in Airlie Beach in July?

You’re going to have to carry on reading if you want to find out the answer to that question, let’s talk about Airlie Beach. We were pleasantly surprised by Airlie. After spending a few days in the solitude of Cape Hillsborough, we were a bit nervous about visiting somewhere that is a major draw on the tourist trail. We’d previously visited Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road and didn’t like it all. Airlie, however, had a different feel. It’s obviously commercial and there are plenty of tour operators trying to get you to part with your money. Nonetheless, it had a friendly feel and the views out towards the Whitsundays across the marina were beautiful. Dare we say it, we also preferred Airlie Beach to Byron Bay.

We were camping again, and stayed at Seabreeze Tourist Park which is actually on the edge of Airlie Beach and it’s neighbouring suburb Cannonvale. You could take a pleasant 2.5 km along the boardwalk, past Abell Point Marina into the centre of Airlie and it was also really handy for shops with Whitsunday shopping centre just next door.

As with most visitors, one of our main reasons for visiting Airlie Beach was to see the Whitsundays. We’d bust the budget a bit to book a day sailing on The Lady Enid and it was definitely worth it. With a maximum capacity of 24 guests you didn’t feel crowded like some of the tour boats. It was also a really peaceful way to see the islands, particularly when under sail rather than motor power. The skipper, Dave and crew Antoine, Bec and Hazel were magnificent. They looked after us exceptionally well, including regularly feeding us with top quality meals. The crew were also very knowledgeable about the region and could answer all of our questions. Antoine even gave us a geography and chart reading lesson as we sailed back to port.

The Whitsundays themselves, didn’t disappoint. We sailed through the Whitsunday passage and into Tongue Bay on Whitsunday Island. Here we climbed to the top of a lookout over the famous Whitehaven Beach, followed by some time on the beach itself. Despite it being the middle of winter we braved the water as we had to have a swim at one of the most famous beaches in the world. Back on board, and after lunch, we sailed to a quite cove above a coral reef for a spot of snorkelling. We’ve been snorkelling a few times before and the conditions that day weren’t the best with the water being a bit cloudy. It was fun anyway, and we felt we deserved our glass of bubbles as we sailed back with the sun going down. A truly memorable day.

On other days we explored a bit outside of the usual tourist haunts in The Whitsundays. Just outside of Shute Harbour, about 15 km from Airlie Beach we found a fabulous little cove, Coral Beach. As the name suggests, rather than the white sand usually associated with The Whitsundays, the beach was made up of coral and pebbles. It was, however, just as beautiful as the more famous locations. It was reached via a rainforest track, and from the beach, you could also hike up to ‘The Beak’ for more fabulous views of the ocean and the islands.

Another treat for us in Airlie Beach was to go out for a good meal. In general, we’d rather cook for ourselves and save eating out for when we’re somewhere we can get a really good meal. We’ve said elsewhere, that one of our indulgences is good food and we don’t mind splurging when its worth it. That doesn’t mean we don’t like the occasional pub meal or Chinese. Just that if we’re going to spend a bit more on a meal we want to make it count. The Michelin star system doesn’t extend to Australia, and instead, a similar rating scheme is run by the Australian Good food guide, who award ‘chefs hats’. There were only two ‘hatted’ restaurants in Airlie Beach and we chose to eat at one of them, Walter’s Lounge. It was definitely worth the expense as we had a lovely evening. We chose the six course tasting menu and Andy had the matched wines. The food was superb and the service excellent. You can read our TripAdvisor review if you like.

Finally, before we leave Airlie Beach, the answer to the question posed in the title to this post. The owners and staff of Seabreeze Tourist Park are well connected with their community and do a lot of fundraising. If you visit, every Thursday they have a dinner in the camp kitchen with raffles generating funds for local causes. We were lucky enough to be there for the biggest one of these in the year, Christmas in July. In case you’re not aware, this has become a bit of a thing in Australia. Celebrating a second Christmas in the coldest part of the year given that December is the middle of summer. Of course, in Airlie Beach, even in July, it’s hardly freezing. Anyway, for a bargain price of $20 we had a full Christmas dinner with turkey and plum pudding, serenaded by live act, the Baby Boomers. Over $2000 was raised in the raffles and we had a brilliant evening. The answer to the question, ‘what’s red and white and can be spotted in Airlie Beach in July’, is of course, Santa.

Macropods and Monotremes

 

We stopped for four nights at Cape Hillsborough National Park about 40 km north of Mackay. It’s not somewhere that’s on everyone’s must see list for Australia but we’d been recommended to visit so thought we would give it a try. It was also an opportunity for a trial run of our camp set-up before we joined our tagalong trip in Cairns to travel to the tip of Cape York over 18 days, camping every night.

Cape Hillsborough formed around thirty million years ago as a product of volcanic lava flows. The Pennant Rock is a volcanic plug remaining from that time. The first human inhabitants were the Juipera Aboriginal people and the current name was given by James Cook in honour of the Earl of Hillsborough. Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park was first developed in the 1950s and this was to be our home for the next four nights.

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G’Day Bruce

The Bruce Highway is the main road route spanning the length of Queensland, named after Harry Bruce, Minister of Works in the 1930s. It starts in Brisbane and finishes in Cairns, a total of approximately 1,670 km. Bundaberg is about 50 km east of the Bruce but we had to join it to travel to Brisbane so knew that southern 350 km section well. Andy’s work took him to Rockhampton often, so that section was also well travelled. However, we’d never driven further north on the Bruce until this trip when we will be following the road to its northern conclusion.

It seems that visitors to Queensland have a bit of a romantic preconception of driving from Brisbane to Cairns and imagine that the road trip might be similar to the Great Ocean Road. Unfortunately, and with the greatest respect, we don’t think that the Bruce lives up to that. If you imagine you’re going to be driving along the ocean, you’ll be disappointed as the majority of the road is a fair way inland from the coast. There are places where you travel through some spectacular scenery but on the whole, it’s a fairly monotonous drive. Also, dual carriageway only extends to Gympie, about 200 km north of Brisbane, so you can end up stuck behind a lot of slow moving traffic. Having said all of that, The Bruce did provide our means of reaching the first destinations on our road trip, Tannum Sands, Gladstone and Mackay.

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The Final Countdown

Yes, I know, another excuse for a cheesy music reference (check out those perms) but we really are in the final stages before we head off on our big trip. We’ve had multiple work leaving celebrations, people have been very kind and said nice things and now we’re without gainful employment and making the last preparations for our travels. How good is the cake that Andy’s colleagues had made for him. We’ve included a picture of our jeep, OTIS, as a point of reference.

We’ve been spending a bit of time taking in Bargara and surrounds before we go, so this post includes some random pictures of our home for the last eight years. We are really looking forward to seeing parts of Australia and the world we’ve not yet visited, but we do feel privileged to have been part of this community. We think we’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere more beautiful. To find out more about this region of Queensland, check out our post ‘This is Australia’. We’re also starting to try and increase our fitness levels. Sedentary jobs aren’t great in that regard so we’re beginning with a conscious effort to walk more, and complete our 10,000 steps every day (well nearly every day). We also thought we’d share with you some of the practicalities of leaving behind a permanent base and beginning a life on the road.

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Eight go wild in Childers

“Mary, have you decided on our holidays yet”, said Hugh at the breakfast table, “can we go to Blackpool as usual”. “Oh, Hugh you silly sausage” said Mary, “you know very well that we live in Australia now and that you haven’t been to Blackpool since 1976”. Hugh looked quite disappointed and turned to Mark and Caroline. “Why are you in our house for breakfast?”, he said, “didn’t we say we’d telephone the police if it happened again”

“Do stop being such a grump, Hugh”, said Mary, “you know how much I enjoy these special sleepovers. Anyway, Mark and Caroline have a surprise, they’re taking us on holiday to Childers, won’t that be nice”.

“Yes” said Mark, “The Professor has arranged for us to stay in a haunted hotel with Jane, Stephen and Colette. I think having eight of us will really spice up our usual foursome. The Professor said Jane would love some company”.

“Oh Mark, do telephone him now”, said Mary, “it sounds splendid and quite adventurous”.

Even Hugh began to get quite excited about the prospect of an adventure to Childers, “Will we see the Isis Devils?” he asked. “I do hope so” said Caroline, “I’ve heard that they are delightful”

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This Is Australia

 

Before we leave Bargara to begin our travels, we thought we should give you a little bit more information about the Bundaberg region. It is a fantastic part of Australia, often overlooked by visitors who flock instead to well known Queensland destinations such as Brisbane, Cairns, and The Gold Coast. Many aspects of the area are quintessentially representative of regional Australia, hence the title of the post which we’ll explain further later on.

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Stayin’ Alive in Moreton Bay

Writing this caused me to rewatch the video for the song in the title of the post. It’s definitely a classic but I don’t remember being confused by the story being told when I saw it back in the day.  It could be age, but I struggled this time round, to work out what was going on. I eventually came to the conclusion that the Gibb brothers were multi-tasking and combining a video shoot with viewing a potential property to renovate. It was obviously a bit pricey as later on they downgrade to an old train. We’re going to be staying in a renovated train carriage when we visit Undara Volcanic park later in the year, so I know its a possibility. If anyone’s got a more convincing explanation, please do comment below. Anyway, I digress, back to Moreton Bay, more of the Bee Gees later.

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The Big Trip – Aussie Aussie Aussie Part 1

We have a plan for our big trip which starts in July 2018 and will go on for as long as we can make it last.  However, the plan is fairly loose and it gets looser the further out it goes. We want to allow ourselves the opportunity to find new places and stay a while if we like them. It starts with 9-10 months visiting some of the bits of Australia we’ve been too busy working to see. This will be a combination of camping, motels, AirBnBs and housesitting. We’ll also splurge on luxury every now and again. After Australia it’s likely that Japan will be the next stop, and then we’ll travel west across the globe (or as far as we get). We’ve bought a jeep for the Aussie leg, which we’ll sell before we head overseas. We plan to give some detail in a future post on our preparation and packing.

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It’s not such a long way to Taipei (If you wanna Rock n Roll)

This post is about a trip taken by just Andy. Well that’s not strictly true – he was accompanied by a mate. For the purposes of the blog we’ll call him Steve (as that is his name) and their collection of teens. We don’t talk about our children too much in these posts. We could argue that its to protect their anonymity but in reality, we figure that if they want to feature in a blog they can write their own. They do pop up every now and again when they tag along with us – but they’re of an age now where they mostly want to be doing their own thing.

ACDC at QSAC stadium Brisbane
ACDC at QSAC stadium Brisbane

We were heading to see AC/DC on their Rock or Bust tour. I’d seen AC/DC before and on their last outing – Black Ice in 2009/10 I thought they were getting a bit past their sell by date. I wasn’t therefore too fussed about seeing them again. However, the teens hadn’t seen them and they’re one of those bucket list acts so I was persuaded. I was glad I did when a few weeks before, the support bands were announced; Kingswood and The Hives. Kingswood are a Melbourne indie rock band whose music I really like and I’ve seen them a couple of times before. I’d not seen quirky Swedish rockers The Hives, but had heard that they were also a great live act so the gig began to look a lot more appealing. Carry on reading to find out how we combined an Asian experience with watching an AC/DC show.

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We love Australian Hip Hop

As the title says, we love Australian Hip Hop, and have been to see quite a few artists play. A standout experience was at ‘Beat The Drum’, the 40th Birthday Concert of the ABC Radio Station Triple J. South Australian rappers, The Hilltop Hoods were joined on stage by a who’s who of Australian Hip Hop for their track Cosby Sweater – have a look at the video above – its fantastic.

This post, however, is nothing to do with that. Nope, it’s about Bargara Brewing Co, who have developed a range of craft beers including one called Hip Hop, as well as Thirsty Turtle and Drunk Fish. Carry on reading to find out more about the beers and their newly opened BrewHouse in Bundaberg CBD.

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