14 November 2010

Around Brisbane

My family!
Australia: a new continent on our journey and a completely different travelling experience. We made it through the strict border security (past the sniffer dogs) and were welcomed at the airport by Uncle Jack.

We arrived at Mango Hill where we were greeted by Aunt Margaret and the best dog in the world – Max. We arrived here with no specific plan of action but luckily Margaret was on hand to help us out.

Where we stayed in Mango Hill
Our first day began with a trip to the nearby seaside town of Redcliffe. Poor Max does not enjoy his car trips but once he arrived at the beach for the first of his two daily walks, he was a happy doggy.

James and I went off to explore the town and, after passing what initially looked like a wedding party, we remembered that it was the day of the famous Melbourne Cup! Plans for lunch were put on hold as we went to join in the crowds and watch the big race.

Our hire car - what a beast!
That night, we had a family reunion as Stewart, Tania, Emily, Ben and Kim joined the four of us for dinner at Outback Jacks. With lots to catch up on from both sides of the world, the night flew by.

James and I were spoiled rotten by Jack and Margaret during our time here, they drove us everywhere, cooked us amazing home-made dinners and we had some quality conversations, making our time at Mango Hill one to remember.

We spent one of our days visiting Queensland's capital: Brisbane. We went to see some of Jack's recommendations at the art gallery and had lunch at South Bank where an amazing lagoon has been built for city lovers to relax.

After lunch, we found our sea legs and took a trip on the City Cat, taking a sneaky stop at Queen Street - a shopping promenade which branches off into lots of malls. We both loved Queensland's temperature - no humidity but a nice bearable heat.

Soaking up the sun at Mooloolaba Beach
We decided to explore the Sunshine and Gold coasts so set about hiring a car for a couple of days. 25 was the minimum driving age so James (secretly delighted) stepped into the role as designated driver and we headed up to the beautiful Sunshine Coast. Our first stop was Mooloolaba - a seaside town that oozes glamour. While we were there, we even saw a part of the beach being prepared for a sunset wedding.

We checked in at a hostel in Maroochydore. With only a couple of hours left in the day, we picked up some brochures to choose a lucky dip adventure and much to James's delight, found a nearby mini golf park with a two for one voucher – perfect.

After Kim forced me to touch a sea cucumber!
From Maroochydore, we headed to the Eumundi Saturday market then continued north to Noosa to sample its stunning beach before returning to our homely retreat in Mango Hill for some undeserved TLC from Jack and Margaret.

Petting the dolphins
On Sunday, we were catapulted back to our childhood as we joined the Browns on a trip to Sea World on the Gold Coast. Emily, Ben and Kim were our tour guides around the park, leading us to the animal shows and rollercoasters and had us laughing all day with their endless enthusiasm and games. James had an unfortunate incident at lunch after one of the swarming seagulls decided to relieve itself right smack bang on his cheek – whoops!

Also on our Sunshine Coast hit list was Maleny and the Mary Cairncross Rainforest. The rain followed us on our car trip but it was a really pretty drive and we saw wallabies in the rainforest.

Max choosing an inconvenient place to dry himself!
On our last day, Jack agreed to take James on at a game of bowls at his local club. Playing a winner of several tournaments, James knew the challenge was a tough one. He didn’t win but he did put up a good fight, so much so that Jack says he isn’t playing him again in case he shows him up! Luckily, the game ended in good spirits as we left Mango Hill that night for our flight to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef.



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