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First – my apologies to everyone for last week’s blog being down for several hours! I actually wrote it early but not long after I published it, the hosting site went down and didn’t come back up for several hours. I received some panicked emails, but the site came back up late morning or early afternoon Ontario time, phew!

Warning – this is a very long blog, you may need 2 coffees 🙂

This week we decided to have a bit of an adventure. I had a routine follow-up appointment with my oncology surgeon in Brisbane (all good!) and instead of flying there and back, we decided to drive. This is an 8-hour drive and any self-respecting Aussie would do it in a day without thinking, even if they were coming back the next day. But baby steps for us newbies – we decided to stay over a night in each direction :).

The A1 is the standard highway to take to get to Brisbane as it’s the most direct. As we learned, it also has the most potholes – holy cow were there a lot and were they big! I assumed the freeze-thaw cycle was what caused potholes but apparently other environmental conditions do too (I’m guessing the crazy amount of rain we had for a few weeks might have contributed). We stopped for lunch in Bororen, where I finally remembered to take a photo of one of these things:

It’s so rare that you see phone booths in Ontario anymore but they are still everywhere here. Interestingly, I tend to see them where cell service is good and not where cell service is bad – hmmm. And there were long stretches on the roads to and from Brisbane where we had no cell service (BTW, here they say “mobile” instead of “cell”).

The A1, also known as the Bruce Highway, is notorious for construction and accidents. There are lots of signs reminding you to stay alert – assuming you’re awake to see the signs :). They offer free coffee at roadside stops and also encourage you to engage in trivia questions, and they help get you started with trivia on road signs:

And a bit further down they thankfully give you the answer (because there’s no cell service to look it up!!!):

You’ll notice around the base of each sign, the grass has been burned. This was the case at the base of all highway signs. We wondered if that was to prevent it growing tall and obscuring the signs – can any of our Aussie friends shed some light?

At the recommendation of our friend Sharyn, we stopped in Childers at Insane Caffeine for a coffee – what a great spot! Delicious coffee and a funky decor:

We also discovered a small hardware store chain that sounded very familiar… (just wrong colours :))

We’d like to go back to wander around Childers more – this was on Monday and it was STILL raining so we just continued on our way.

Our destination for Monday night was Hervey Bay (Hervey is pronounced like Harvey). What a great town! We will absolutely return here and spend more time. K’gari Island is just off the coast (the world’s largest sand island) so we’d like to see that, but just the town of Hervey Bay had a really great feel. And this is when we discovered that our trip was actually a foodie tour – so many great restaurants in Hervey Bay! The one we were especially delighted to discover was Tres Salsas – Mexican!!!! We have not seen proper Mexican up here and boy, did Tres Salsas ever do a terrific job – Gary and Jo, you’d have been very impressed! We also rarely see Margaritas or Tequila on drink menus in our neck of the woods, but they were plentiful on the menu in Hervey Bay:

When I get around to retiring in 10 years or so, I think Hervey Bay might be where we move to 🙂

The next morning the sun FINALLY came out and accompanied us on our drive south. This is the beach in Hervey Bay sort of across from Tres Salsas, with proof of the sun emerging:

When looking at the map, we noticed a place called Tin Can Bay and we decided that one really must stop at anywhere called Tin Can. So we set off along a very rural route, which included some dirt roads with some wild and crazy hills and bends, but also some nice stretches. There was a HUGE pine tree plantation along the way – hectares and hectares of pine trees as far as the eye could see. I took this photo because there’s a palm tree in in, a reminder to all the pine trees that they aren’t the only ones who live here:

We expected Tin Can Bay to be an intersection but it was actually a pretty little town with sidewalk cafes. Lots of fishing boats and houseboats too. And some tippy boats in need of attention:

There was actually another one tipped over further to the right of this one (they’re anchored and it wasn’t windy, they just seem to be derelict).

We continued south and a lot of the areas we drove through looked very much like driving around rural Ontario – except for signs like these:

We saw lots of koala signs but alas, no koalas.

Our next stop was in the Sunshine Coast to see a woman about a bike. Hugh had been looking on Marketplace to find used ebikes for us and while he found one for himself in Yeppoon fairly quickly, it was harder to find one for Goldilocks here. Over a month ago, he found one in the Sunshine Coast and the lady selling it kindly agreed to hold it for us. The ebike was exactly what I was looking for so we popped it into the back of the Outback and carried it around with us the rest of the trip :). Stay tuned for next week’s blog – we just took our new-to-us ebikes for a spin this afternoon and I’m hooked!

On arrival in Brisbane, we saw signs that reminded us of home:

Hugh had found a great deal on a hotel right downtown by the river and, unbeknownst to us, it is the 4th tallest building in Brisbane! Here is a view from our room on the 67th floor and one from the other side of the river looking back up at it:

You can also see it in the background of this photo Hugh took when we were at the top of the Wheel of Brisbane:

The river is very windy (as in with many bends, not as in blowing your hat off) through Brisbane. It’s helpful because if you can find the river, you know where you are. But with it being so windy, I lose my normally very good sense of N-S-E-W so I can’t say that I know the streets of Brisbane very well at all even after walking almost non-stop for 2.5 days (heck, I can barely find my way around Yeppoon with all the windy streets here). There is a great transit system, rail, bus, and fast ferry along the river, so you can get everywhere easily, but it is sort of hard to know exactly where you are at any given moment :).

In prior trips to Brisbane, we never made it to the South Bank so we spent a lot of time there this week. The famous Brisbane sign is there:

We took this photo to send to Shed Brewery in Dundas. Hugh was their very first customer when they opened their doors 8 years ago this month. They had hoped to have beer to sell by then but they weren’t able to so Hugh bought Shed shirts for each of us. Hugh met the owner and told him that I had written a letter to the City of Hamilton lending my strong support for them opening a brewery in our neighbourhood. I had heard that many residents in the area were writing to try to stop the opening and I thought it would be a fabulous addition to Dundas so I wrote my own letter. The owner told Hugh that my letter made a difference – don’t know if that’s true or not, but it was nice of him to say that. So fast forward 8 years and we’re in Brisbane and someone sent Hugh a note that Shed had posted a photo on Instagram of Hugh shaking hands with the owner after buying the shirts and being their first customer. I happened to have my Shed shirt with me, so we sent them this photo to let them know their shirts are now living in Australia 🙂

Another cool thing on the south side of the river is Streets Beach. This is a HUGE lagoon (like the Yeppoon Lagoon) in the middle of the city:


And then right next to it is a sandy beach – I can’t even imagine how much sand they have to repeatedly bring in for this!

Again, this is DOWNTOWN. I guess when you don’t have to pay for snow removal, your tax dollars can fund cool things like this.

I thought this was a funny scene – wouldn’t see this happening in too many other places, someone finishing work and meeting their family at the beach a short walk from the office buildings:


Oh, we also saw lots of bin chickens in Brisbane. We haven’t seen them around here much lately so I guess maybe they vacation in Brisbane too. I caught this video of how they have to drink sideways when the water puddle is shallow:


Brisbane has lots of new buildings and everywhere you look, there are cranes building more. They’ve also built greenery into many buildings, like this one along the north side of the river (on stilts):

There are some old buildings around as well, especially churches – they’re undisturbed while skyscrapers surround them:

Andrea – this old building made me think we were in Savannah:

Lots of pretty sculptures all over the city. And then there was this one right by our hotel:

I’m sure there must be a story to this, it’s quite bizarre!

We frequently saw lizards sunning themselves on the rocks near the river:

There is a rainforest walk on the south side of the river that is quite magnificent – again, you wouldn’t know you were downtown in a city of 2 million people. Streams running and dense foliage:

From the south side of the river by the rainforest walk, if you look over to the north side, you see what I am calling the Death Star:

No idea what the building is, but from many angles you can just imagine Luke Skywalker zooming in sideways through that narrow opening!

SE Qld Foodie Tour Stop #2 was at Julius on the South Bank. Rob and Barb recommended this place to us and we can see why – AMAZING Italian food! Melt in your mouth deliciousness. That was Tuesday. Wednesday we went to Tuk Tuk and had AMAZING Thai food. And what a beautiful spot, it was like being at the rainforest walk again just on a covered patio:

Thursday night was Foodie Tour Stop #4 – Cedars (Lebanese). We’d had a snack or two here on prior trips but enjoyed more of the menu this time and it was AMAZING. We had hoped our foodie tour might continue when we drove home, but that definitely did not happen. Nevertheless, we were VERY happy with our Mexican, Italian, Thai, and Lebanese finds.

We stopped for a drink and snack at Felon’s Brewery along the river – massive place that stretches along the north side of the river for a long ways and has lovely views of the river and city:

We spent Thu morning at the Museum on the South Bank. If you like bugs, dinosaurs, and Aussie creatures that will kill you, you will LOVE this place! Even better – admission is FREE! Now, as many of you know, I do enjoy bathroom humour so I couldn’t resist taking these 2 photos:

Also took these dinosaur photos so people don’t think I have a one track mind:

The photo on the right was at the entrance to the museum – there is a Jurassic World exhibit on right now with Jurassic Park recreated using 6 million lego pieces. So that dinosaur is made out of lego. We wanted to see the exhibit but it was $30/person and we weren’t sure it would be worth it with all the other cool things to see in the museum. Including this leaf bug to complement the stick bug photo I shared with you last week:

When the leaf bug was on the leaves in the terrarium, you absolutely could not see him. So I was happy he moved to the glass top to get a photo.

One more funny sign before we leave Brisbane:

Methinks the plant has already moved…

But seriously, we had no idea what this sign could mean. As luck would have it, on the drive home, we saw reference to the word “plant” again and it seemed to refer to construction vehicles. Aussie friends – can you confirm?

Another mystery for our Aussie friends to solve – why on earth does the government advertise that they’re just using run of the mill cameras instead of high quality ones 😉

We saw these signs regularly and can’t figure it out!

Friday morning we started the journey home (I noticed this week that I’ve started saying “home” for Yeppoon now :)). Rob and Barb recommended taking an inland route through the mountains if we had time. We did and we’re glad we did! Very little traffic, very few potholes, and lovely scenery through the mountains. We stopped for a coffee and snack at a little place in the middle of nowhere. We sat on the patio overlooking their pond and geese:

And I had to take a photo of the salt and pepper grinders on the table – these are very well traveled salt and peppercorns:

The next stop was a bakery that Rob and Barb recommended in a town called Goomeri and it too was fabulous!

We had booked to stay the night about 100 km north of this bakery in a town called Gayndah:

Gayndah promotes everywhere that it’s Queensland’s oldest town, so we did some googling. Technically it’s true. Brisbane and Ipswich are actually older but they are now cities, so Gayndah gets to use the oldest “town” moniker. It was created due to the Burnett River running through – I took this photo from the bridge over the river:

I’m not sure what sustains the town now, it seemed pretty depressed. We saw reference to a biennial orange festival but only saw 2 very small citrus groves over the entire area we traveled. Definitely a cattle and crop farming area, but not sure what else. And apparently the river can really flood:

If the water gets up to where my hand is, it’s 20 metres above its usual level. They had signs marking the possible water height all the way up the shore, with this one being at the top. Hopefully they don’t need to use these gauges very often!

The motel we stayed in was, fortunately, excellent. Definitely dated decor but very well maintained and clean and the most friendly owners you can imagine. There was also a great pool, which Hugh enjoyed (it was a bit chilly). There really wasn’t much in the way of options for eating in Gayndah (hence why the foodie tour came to an abrupt halt) but the motel owners offered a few room service options for dinner and breakfast. The food was mediocre (except the side salad – that was really good), but it was piping hot and delivered to our room on a tray that was laid out very nicely. We really appreciated the care that the owners clearly put into their motel – a gem in an otherwise very depressed area in the middle of nowhere.

Now back to some bathroom humour of a different variety. I got up to pee in the middle of the night, and the conversation with Hugh went as follows:

Justine: Are you awake?

Hugh: (not really awake) Yes.

Justine: There is a small problem in the bathroom.

Hugh: (still not really awak) Yes?

Justine: There is a frog on the toilet seat.

Hugh: (starting to wake up) There’s a frog on the toilet seat??

Justine: Yes, there is a very small frog on the toilet seat.

Exhibit A:

So Hugh gently pushed him into the garbage bin and put him outside. The fact that this is my 2nd experience of a frog in a toilet since moving here is a bit concerning.

But I’d take frogs over snakes any day. Hugh had his first snake sighting while we were in Gayndah! We drove up to a lookout point:

On the way up, we saw piles of wallabies – so cute!!

But just past the packs of wallabies, Hugh sighted a black snake on the road on his side of the car. We did not stop to take a photo, so I don’t have anymore to say about that, except that when we parked the car near the top of the lookout and had to walk the rest of the way, we kept a very close eye out for all things slithery! There weren’t any, thank goodness, just piles of Pyramid Ants that seemed to like to bite Hugh’s ankles but left me alone. Driving back home the next day, I had my first snake sighting – a dead one on the road. So we continue to be lucky with no close encounters of the snake kind.

On the drive home on Sat morning, we thought we saw smoke from what we presumed was a controlled burn to help control bushfires. But that seemed odd given how rainy it’s been and I don’t think we’re in bushfire season anymore. It turned out to be fog lifting:

As we arrived in Rockhampton, I was FINALLY able to get a photo I’ve been meaning to take for 11 months now but never had my camera out at the right time – the huge cow welcoming you to Rockhampton!

I’ve probably mentioned that Rocky is the beef capital of Australia. We’ve found this odd because we haven’t yet discovered any good steakhouses. “Beef Week” (a once in 4 years occurrence) is coming up in May so we’ll see what we can find then. We also expected to see cattle packed into fields everywhere. Unlike Ontario, the cattle here are really spread out with vast pastures holding very few head of cattle. The cattle per hectare ratio must be a fraction of what it is in Ontario. I wonder how it compares to rural Alberta and Saskatchewan.

OK, I have some more bug, plant, and bird photos from when we got home yesterday, but this blog is way too long already so I’ll save them for next week. Have a wonderful week, everyone!

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