So we have wended our way down this fantastic continental east coast. Sue lives in the hinterland of Sunshine Coast which has confused me somewhat. Initially I thought it was an area then it appeared to take on a more specific dimension as if it was a city but has now reverted to the the collection of towns in this particular area. Much like Gold Coast, a little further south.
She took us on a little tour of this area behind the beaches, our first stop was a walk through a section of rain forest. We hadn’t managed to really visit one so far despite our original intentions to go to Daintree when we were to have travelled north of Cairns. However, this gave us an opportunity to experience a sub-tropical area with relatively few visitors. The fig vines were amazing, the seeds embedding themselves high on the trees and then releasing huge long ‘roots’ down to the ground, in endless spirals, before almost strangling the original hosts. The noise of the bird-life ensured that there was no quiet but the peace was still remarkable.
Across the road from the car park we could gaze down on the Glass House Mountains. A succession of rather large hills and mountains, rearing up out of the coastal plain. There was a degree of similarity to the mesas of Monument Valley in Utah but then some of the monoliths were rounded rather than jagged. Something else I will need to look up when wifi allows.
Our next stop was lunch outside a pub in Monteville, of which Sue was interested to hear our impression. The place was supposed to be akin to an English country village. I would have to admit that I haven’t come across as picturesque a place on home shores as this was. Perhaps it had the advantage of being built on the top of a precipice overlooking the coast, maybe it was the colonial style verandas on most of the buildings whose previous role had been residential but was now commercial or even just the glorious sunshine!
It was lovely to indulge in a long lazy lunch with no real concern about the time, probably more-so than a prolonged evening meal if you are able to sit outside under the dappled shade of spreading boughs whilst being entertained by an acoustic guitar and vocalist performing popular 80s rock numbers. We were in no rush because our next stop was Sue’s camel dairy and we would try to coincide with them. coming in for the night when the mums and calves are separated (except for the really little ones) until after milking in the morning; they aren’t milked in the evening.
The camels were a very peaceful placid bunch, a fast walk being the most strenuous activity. The babies, ranging from 6 weeks to 18 months were very used to humans and handling. They go through the dairy with their mums and can even suckle on one teat if need be, whilst the others are attached to the portable milker. The 16 or so cows deliver around 50 litres a day (whilst feeding their calf as well) of rather lovely and apparently very healthy milk. We tried some from Sue’s fridge which was less than 24 hours old and unpasteurised, it was delicious, creamy without being claggy, with no particular flavour. We didn’t try it pasteurised, which it has to be to be sold, though, not for any particular reason, it just wasn’t available.
Unfortunately, due to politics and personality issues, Sue is working her notice and is rightly concerned about the ongoing welfare of these magnificent beasts but has had enough. What is it about camel owners?! Whilst we were there she had been rung by the camel keeper at the nearby Australia zoo run by Steve Irwin’s legacy so hopefully she will be able to pass on and extend her knowledge of these vastly under-appreciated (in the western world) animals.
Our final stop was Brisbane. We arrived at lunchtime and were due to fly out the following evening. I had booked us in to a rather quaint little guest house beside a row of backpackers hostels! It was surprisingly quiet and we appreciated the peace as well as the history of this heritage listed building. Despite being a last-minute booking we did manage to secure probably the largest room in the house with generous bathroom to boot. We walked down to the river after dumping our bags and jumped on the free river ferry which meanders up and down the inner-city area. It was a beautiful sunny day (again!) so we enjoyed our cruise from the top of the boat, appreciating all the views. Towering corporate blocks dwarf the not inconsiderable historical buildings along the waters edge and the motorway has been built out from the north bank to run along the river, the south side being preserved for parks, gardens and recreation.
Our final day dawned grey and humid, by the time we departed in the late afternoon it was raining, as it had on the day we arrived in Adelaide! We seem to have spread rain (and subsequent happiness) almost everywhere we have gone in this notoriously dry (at this time of the year, just coming in to the wet/cyclone/flood season of summer) climate. However, due to the warmth, the rain wasn’t a problem and we still managed to enjoy a free guided tour and then a wander around the botanical gardens where we learnt that the rather dainty but very common large bird we had encountered in several places was an ibis and that we had visited the city in one of its most picturesque 3 weeks of the year when the Jacaranda trees are in full bloom. We had started to notice these glorious lilacy-mauve trees from just south of Hervey Bay and their almost iridescent blooms had become more and more prolific the further we travelled. This is their prime time and they did look magnificent.
We are now sat in Dubai airport after an uneventful first leg of our journey home. We are now delayed because it was only on looking for our gate number for this connection that we noticed that somewhere in amongst our travel information our destination had changed from Gatwick to Heathrow! The car hire is booked at Gatwick but the luggage is going straight through to Heathrow. For the first time Emirates’ service did not shine when we pointed this out, as if it was our fault that we didn’t notice that they had changed our destination as well as the flight time (which we had noticed). A bit of a black mark against them and as a now avid Trip Advisor contributor, comments may need to be made!! Heyho, could have been worse, could have been diverted in to another country but 5pm on a weekday is not a good time to be having to drive around the M25 any more than necessary after nearly 5 months in the outback. Driving cars, particularly on motorways is going to be enough of a culture shock as it is after such an amazing experience ‘sans voitures’.