Last weekend, Pretty Boy and I went to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Sunshine Coast is a stretch that runs north from Brisbane to Fraser Island. We were invited by VIM2 (as introduced here) who is from Sunshine Coast. His parents still live there, and he goes back to visit them often. We didn’t really know what to expect beyond the fact that there would be a professional Australian national series motocross race on Sunday only 30 minutes from VIM2’s parents’ place. So I packed suitably versatile attire and mentally prepared myself as best I could.
And I was so not prepare. I’m still struggling to find the words to convey the amazing-ness and foreign-ness and wonderful-ness and crazy-ness that was our trip to Queensland. Maybe there are no words. Luckily, we took some pictures.
Pretty Boy and I caught to 4 am bus (yes, that early) from Canberra to the Sydney airport. It was a cold, dark, and uneventful 3.5 hrs. We took a train from the international terminal where the bus dropped us off to the domestic terminal and flew through security with time to spare for breakfast. When I say ‘flew,’ I really mean flew. Security for domestic flights is very different here, and it will take us a while to get used to that. We had coffee, a Pieface breakfast pie, a Portuguese tart, and a juice smooth before boarding the plane for the 1 hr 20 min flight to Sunshine Coast.
Sunshine Coast lived up to its name, and we stood in the sun enjoying the 70 degree weather waiting for VIM2 to pick us up from the airport. From the airport, we went straight to Marcoola beach, where we changed from Canberra winter clothes to beach attire in the middle of the parking lot. Though it was by no means hot, we still went right into the ocean. It was a beautiful long stretch of beach with soft sand and surfers taking advantage of decent swell. Pretty Boy oogled the swell and then proceeded to get tossed around by it and attempt to body surf in it, with some success. It was his first time swimming in real waves, and he was as in awe of the power of the ocean (as I always have been). I didn’t swim out as far or play in the waves as much as him, but I still managed to almost loose my top. Its been a long time since I’ve swam in waves, and it’ll take some remembering/relearning. After our swim, we moved down the beach for a lunch of fish and chips and a veggie sandwiches followed by a siesta in the sun.
After the beach, we headed to VIM2’s parents’ place. VIM2’s parents live in the bush (they use the term ‘bush’ here like we use the word ‘country’) on a little farm outside of Palmwoods up in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range which runs all along the East coast of Australia. They don’t actively farm anymore, but they still grow oranges, lemons, papaya, avocado, pomegranate, and a bunch of other stuff. We had oranges, papaya, and avocado fresh off the tree! I think everything grows there, since in the middle of winter when we visited it was in the 70’s during the day and mid 50’s at night. I couldn’t express how amazing it is to a Minnesotan to be somewhere that tropical things grow! We spend the rest of the day seeing the house and farm, meeting VIM2’s parents, gathering wood for a bonfire, preparing dinner (which we cooked in the bonfire), and hanging out.
Sunday morning, we declined the invitation to join VIM2 and his mom on his mom’s Sunday morning, ritual sunrise swim in the ocean. Sunrise was a little early and a little chilly for us, but we still got up pretty early to pack several big coolers fully of picnic, snacks, and drinks for our day at the track. After a winding mountain, carsick-inducing drive and a hilarious story about VIM2’s friend whose mom is from Minnesota and who made a traditional Midwestern Thanksgiving meal including sweet potatoes with marshmallows that VIM2 tried and whose only comment was “It wasn’t very nice…”, we made it to the Green Park Conondale motocross track.
It was a lot of fun watching Pretty Boy get super excited about motocross and VIM2 supressing his excitement about motocross. And loosing VIM2’s father because he wandered off in the crowds only to find him again because of his pink shorts and sparkly hat. And eating the best moto picnic I’ve ever had. And comparing a Australian national to US nationals and US pro/am races. Conondale was somewhere between a US national and the pro/am races Pretty Boy raced in last year. It didn’t have as many spectators or riders, the track wasn’t as big or as nice, and the racers weren’t as fast as at a US national, but it was still definitely a step up from the local pro/am’s we used to go to.
We were all pretty tired from being at the track all day, so Sunday night we hung out at VIM2’s parents place again, ate an awesome dinner, and made damper wound around sticks (traditional bush tucker) and cooked over another bonfire for dessert. We had homemade rosella jam (also traditional bush tucker) on the damper sticks. We’d never heard of rosella before and were excited to try it. It was really tasty and the tartness and texture kind of reminded us of cranberries.
Monday we got up early to watch the end of World Cup final and see Germany defeat Argentina in extra time. The early start morphed into a leisurely morning of breakfast and getting packed up. Pretty Boy wandered down to the garage with VIM2 and his father to put a new rear tired on an old Yamaha dirt bike that VIM2’s dad uses to zip around the farm. Pretty Boy then proceeded to ride up and down and all around the big hill on the old bike with a big grin on his face.
In the afternoon, VIM2 took us to Noosa National Park for a last visit to the ocean before heading back to Canberra. We drove quickly through a touristy, retirement looking collection of shops to get to the start of a walking trail that ran along several bay all the way around Noosa National Park. We walked a little ways down the trail around a big enclosed bay. At the end of the bay, we got to watch a bunch of people surfing, and while we were watching, a group of dolphins swam right under the surfers, scaring quite a few of them. We were able to watch as the dolphins swam all the way across the bay. It was really cool!
On our way back to the car, we stopped at the beach part of the bay and swam in the ocean again. It was even colder than the first day because the sun wasn’t out in full force, but the ocean was calmer in the bay so I enjoyed it more. Over the course of the whole trip, we were never sure when we’d be swimming or what we’d be doing afterwards so we weren’t wearing our suits when we needed to be, but I’m rather proud of me and Pretty Boy: we were pretty good at the under the towel or skirt swim suit changing! Both on and off.
Suddenly, it was getting close to our flight time and we needed to get back to the farm to grab our stuff and get to the airport. Thankfully, we weren’t in too much of a hurry to miss the koala way up a tree just off the path from the beach in Noosa! VIM2 said we were really lucky to see a koala in the wild. He was tiny and far away but still pretty cute and rounded out the number of Australian animals that we’ve seen in the wild nicely. So far we’re up to kangaroos, dolphins, a koala, and lots of crazy birds. The rest of the afternoon was a blur of grabbing bags, scarfing some lunch, not forgetting wet swim suits, and buying last minute Queensland ginger and macadamia nuts at the airport.
VIM2’s parents’ place and the whole weekend was quite the experience. I still haven’t quite found the words to describe the farm, but so far, I can say their place was one part hippy commune, one part buddhist temple, one part beach shack, and one part jungle cottage. It was pretty rough, and VIM2 did not prepare us in the least for the roughness or the nature of the activities we’d be taking part in, so I was caught pretty off guard by the roughing-it aspect of the trip. But his parents were so nice and welcoming and the energy of their place was just so calming and I’m still pretty adaptable, so it ended up being just awesome.
We definitely want to go back and visit VIM2’s parents again and explore Queensland more.