Gold Coast Rush

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

With our two Kansas brothers in tow, I might've been tempted to say to Matt's older bro, "We're not in Airlie anymore, Dan!" thus displaying my appreciation for Kansas' great cultural contribution to the Wizard of Oz. I might've even been tempted to call the duo the Wizards of Aus, but I refrained from that also and so we got along great. Even with some very long stretches of road like, for example, our first day down to Rockhampton. The highlights were few except for a farmer burning his sugar cane field to get rid of dead leaves for harvest. It was a long trip and quickly it became evident that we were going to get in late, so I called the hostel ahead of time (for once!) and booked a late check-in and room for us. I was proud of my foresight at the time, but had I known what would greet us, I might not have been quite so smug.

We pulled into Rockhampton YHA around 9:30 at night and I parked on the gravel beside a jeep and got out. A woman sat at a shadowy picnic table, staring me down unflinchingly, even when I offered a friendly smile. I found this perplexing. "Is... something wrong?" I asked cautiously. "No," and the continued soul-piercing gaze. Not from her perspective, perhaps. I tried again at reception. "Hi!" perhaps too enthusiastically, I toned it down, "how are you doing today? I didn't think we'd find you still here." Which earned me a, "What on earth made you think you could park on my grass?!" There were several things wrong with this query. "Uh, there was another jeep I parked beside and I'm pretty sure I parked on gravel," I explained. "And it always will be if you people keep parking on it!" Well. Touche.

At the McDonalds we were started at by all parking lot party-goers as well, but it was a more friendly, "Ooh! Who are they? Where do you think they're from?" type of gawkery. Us boys, us Eagle Boys, if you will, opted for the $5 Eagle Boys Pizzas on special, delicious and filling. There was a long drive to Noosa the following day and no desire to see much more of this place than our beds, so we went to sleep and left nice and early. The long drive to Noosa was made all the longer by the fact that I thought we'd try to get off the rather uninspiring motorway and hope for some scenic coastal roads. So it was that we wound up heading for the town of 1770. En route, we passed through Agnes Waters, which was actually pretty decent. 1770 itself offered a small hike and not much to see nor any explanation of the town name (turns out it was Cook's second landing in Australia in - you guessed it - 1770). With the tide out it was easy to see why. Lots and lots of sand and nothing else. A somewhat pointless tour there, but I thought I'd heard good reviews and hey - have car, see out-of-the-way places. Matt and particularly Dan were up for exploring though (as was I) so we took another crack at it. Rainbow Beach is, allegedly, so named for the different coloured sands, and was said to be beautiful. So I rolled the dice and attempted to redeem myself.

As is traditional for me, I made the hole deeper. Because of the tide and recent flooding of the area (some of which we drove through on the way down), there was nothing to see. Whatsmore, because of th egloods, we couldn't continue down the road to Noosa; we had to backtrack 100km to the main highway. Everyone took this pretty well, though Kirsty and I kept the worst news to ourselves - that we might not even be able to get into Noosa because of the floods. But, with some McCafe in our bellies, we soldiered on and though the direct road to Noosa was closed, we made it through with some detours. To pass this long day of drives to nowhere, the boys picked up some beer from a drive-through bottle shop and so were quite smashed on our arrival. Matt, "looked around the room and found a box of dignity" and Dan readopted his diminished southern accent to our great delight. While looking for a place to stay as the boys stumbled along several paces behind us, Kirsty and I stopped for some ice cream, but Dan missed this sudden change of task and walked up to the counter asking if the ice cream stand had any rooms left. I'd ordered Death by Chocolate at the girl's recommendation and in a deep southern drawl with lots of thoughtfulness, Dan pronounced, "I reckon there's a better way to go than the-at." I gave him a spoon and he quickly recanted, "I reckon that's the best way to go," then leaned over the counter, flashed the biggest smile ever seen in Noosa, and told the girl, "I like you-ou." Maybe you had to be there, but I hadn't laughed that hard in a while.

We checked into Koala Beach Backpackers and went out to the bar and danced the night away. Well, they danced. I did my old routine of pretending to be dancing by subtly shifting my weight from foot-to-foot and eventually we called it a night. I wasn't really tired so I went for a walk and a little bit of peace to wind down after all that driving. And of course, to contemplate the circle of life as Betsy and I had just completed our circuit of eastern-central Australia, from Noosa down to Adelaide and back up to Cape Tribulation then down to Noosa again. What did this mean for me? For Betsy? For Australia? It took me almost two hours to answer that.

Since we were moreorless on schedule, we decided to stay an extra night in Noosa. So the next day, we all went kayaking around the Noosa river for a few hoursand then went to the beach. Kirsty and I rented boogie boards which were actually pretty fun and stayed in the surf until sunset. There were some great waves that brought us right back in about 100m to shore. We also moved to a place that Kirsty had found on her morning run that was a significant improvement on our last spot and not a significant cost. We went back, showered, and went out for gourmet pizzas, then Kirsty and I split some cheesecake and had a chai latte before heading home. The next morning, the two of us got in a few more waves on our boogie boards though the surf was definitely NOT up. We returned the boards, picked up the boys, and then we all split up for the day. I dropped Kirsty off at Maroochydore where she was going to run, swim, and shop her way down the coast to Australia Zoo, where I then dropped off the boys. Since I had no plans aside from that, and it was my job to be on call to pick coordinate the meet up when the zoo closed, I went to Caloundra (the nearest town) to recharge my phone credit and spent a bunch of time walking around, exploring, and talking on the phone to home. I also had a slightly overdue haircut and Kirsty walked by just as I finished. We picked up Matt and Dan from the zoo and took the scenic road to Brisbane through the Glass House Mountains, climbing Mt. Beerburrum and pullin into Brisbane as the afternoon waned. We wined and dined at an Irish Pub and slept early because we were going to Moreton Island the next morning and then continuing down to Surfer's Paradise.

Chris, our Moreton Island tour guide and 4WDriver picked us up from the Tinbilly hostel bright and early and after picking up a loud Edmontonian and a family with two young boys that reminded me of Justin and Cortland we were on the ferry. Our first stop: sandboarding! We went down the big dune in our makeshift toboggans which were fun as long as the surface was waxed and you kept your elbows up. Our sandboard itself was pretty ghetto, with no bindings or foot pads or anything even resembling them. So we pretty much stuck to the smaller backside of the dune, though I did pretty well coming down the big side at the end. Next on the agenda was a walk up to the lighthouse where we could see some humpback whales breaching, then we had lunch on the beach. Why do whales breach, incidentally? There are lots of theories but it seems nothing is known for sure on the matter. Anyway, lunch on the beach, some fun at the Blue Lagoon (frisbee, vortex, my adopted nephews) and finally we went to the wrecks but didn't get to snorkel them which disappointed me greatly.

Back on land, we loaded the car and drove down to Surfer's Paradise that evening, checking into a small room at the Sleeping Inn - my mattress being on the floor didn't help matters. We got there just in time for dinner at Melbas though Kirsty didn't come with us. There was a lunar eclipse which was a pretty cool welcome back to the gold coast, where I had first bought Betsy. Yes, you guessed it. More contemplating the cicle of life that night, this time with Matt, and then to sleep.The last few days were a flurry of driving and activity, I was exhausted, and the coming few days promised to be just as packed with activity. Theme Parks, markets, and fun! Tomorrow, Dreamworld, where our story resumes.

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