OK, so I thought it was about time that I put this up here. I was waiting for Sara to get back to me with the names of all the places & the stuff we did, but we all know that she's a slacker & busy with Uni, so will forgive her on this occasion, and just get these pictures up as this whole thing is weighing on my mind.
So anyway, in May 2009 Vaughan and I went to Australia to catch up with Sara (and Sarah) in Brisbane, and to see Vaughan's Mum (Marianne), and Step-Dad (Bill) in Maroochydoore, on the Sunshine Coast. We arrived in the morning on a nice sunny day, and made it into the city on the train from Brisbane Airport. We were staying in town, with Sara and Sarah joining us in a hotel (we had booked a two-bedroom apartment), thanks to Sarah's discount card (thanks Sarah) - it was really nice that they wanted to come and stay in the city with us while we were there.
We had a while to wait until the others would be arrive, and the hotel wasn't ready for us to
check in either, so Vaughan and I dumped our bags and went for a walk around the central area and down to the Botanical Gardens, where we spent a while taking photos of random stuff, and just kind of lying on the grass, as it was getting a bit hot for too much walking. Eventually we were on the move again and walked across one of the bridges over the Brisbane River to South Shore, where we sat with our feet in the water at one of the fake beaches, and got Vaughan something to eat and drink, as he wasn't feeling very well. We headed back to the hotel after that to see if they could check us in, so that Vaughan could have a rest. I also (randomly) had a migraine as well, so we were both feeling a bit under the weather for the start of our trip.
After a short rest, Sara arrived at the hotel. We had a catch-up and then got sorted to go out, and headed off to get something quick to eat before making our way over to the Pig and Whistle, a bar in the commercial area of Brisbane, next
to the river. It was pretty nice there, and we met up with Sarah, Kaz and a few of Sarah's workmates, as their office was nearby. We hung around at the Pig & Whistle for a bit - it was a fairly big semi-outdoor sports bar, with quite a lot going on, so it was pretty fun just to people-watch for a couple of hours. Eventually we headed over to another part of town in a taxi, to a bogan bar where we watched Liam's band play (Liam is a friend of Sara and Sarah, and even Vaughan had met him when he was in London one time). The band was pretty good - it was certainly interesting. Kaz kept buying double shots, and as we were there for quite a while, ended up quite drunk which was amusing. I had a really good time seeing a few different aspects of Brisbane, and watching a live band (something I like to do a lot). After a while, everything started to quieten down as it was getting pretty late, so we figured it was time to head back to the hotel. It had been a good day.
The next day we didn't have too much on the agenda. It was another nice day although not quite as hot. We went to the supermarket and then cooked up a big breakfast back at the hotel which was pretty good. We just kind of relaxed for a while, and then headed out on the City Cat boat (high speed catamaran) with Sarah and Sara, so that they could point out different parts of the city from the river. It was quite good for taking photos, and we went right past South Shore, and also the Pig and Whistle, where we had been the day before. The catamaran is also used as public transport, so it goes from one end of the city to the other. It took us a lot longer than we expected to do the whole trip, and I think we had been going to stop off at a park for a while, but sort of ran out of time - some of the massive riverfront houses were pretty impressive! Vaughan was starving and it was actually getting a bit cold in the breeze, so we headed back to the city, and got dinner from one
of the central restaurants, looking out over the Queen Street Mall area.
After we finished eating we walked a fairly short distance up to the Vic
, where some more of Sara's friends were playing in a band for the evening. This time the band played a much wider range of music (they were really excellent), and once it got dark, the place starting filling up really quickly. The interesting thing about Australian pubs and bars is that they are pretty much outdoors, with just a canopy of some kind over the top, because in summer it's far too hot to be inside. Pretty soon the whole place was really packed, but most people seemed to be in a good mood - I was glad we had arrived a bit earlier and managed to find somewhere to sit down. Again, I just enjoyed watching all the people really, and we stayed there for quite a while, just talking and joking, and mucking around. It was pretty good actually - I liked the vibe of the Vic, and would definitely go there again. Vaughan seemed quite tired and not 100%, so as it got a bit later, I headed off with him
back to the hotel, leaving Sarah and Sara to carry on their usual weekend hijinks, without having to drag us around as well. On our way back we grabbed some Hungry Jacks and had a mini picnic in our apartment, and just wound down while we listened to some more music.
It was our last full day in Brisbane before heading up the Sunshine Coast, so after a bit of a sleep in, I went shopping at one of the nearby malls with Sarah, as the next day was a public holiday and we wouldn't be able to really do any shopping. We milled around for a while but I didn't really find anything I wanted to buy. Everyone always says that shopping is much better and cheaper in Australia, but I didn't really think so. Groceries were way more expensive too. I still had a good time looking around though, and we met Vaughan and Sara for some lunch in the mall before going for a bit more of a walk around. We went over the other side of the city by bus, to go to a food/drinks festival type thing that Sara had
been talking about, but when we got there we discovered it was quite expensive to go in, so we flagged that and went back to the hotel. We didn't really have that much planned, and Sarah headed off as she had some stuff to do. We had some drinks on our balcony with Sara, and once Sarah got back we headed off to another pub called the R.E (Royal Exchange)
, which was a little up the river, in a more old-fashioned (typically Australian) bar - it was really awesome and so well looked after. The pub had lots of little areas, a pool table, heaps of outdoor seating, big open verandahs. It really was pretty nice, and much cheaper than buying drinks in the city too.
Sara's friend Tim joined us, and Vaughan spent a while catching up with him, as he had also met Vaughan in London and they had gone away to a few music festivals together. A few of Tim's friends came and sat with us, and a few other randoms kind of ended up at our table, and it was quite good really, just talking about nothing, sitting outside watching the sunset. A guy started playing the
guitar downstairs and the music floated up - it was OK but nothing special, and he drew a few hecklers from the crowd about how terrible he was, which was kind of amusing. We all ordered some dinner and just sat around - it was pretty relaxing, but I felt like a bit of a snooze, so I headed back on the bus to the hotel. Vaughan decided to come with me, and we got some icecream on the way back. Not too long afterwards Sara and Sarah showed up with some of their friends from the pub (and Kaz), and we had a few more drinks in the apartment. I was pretty tired though so I went to bed - I didn't even hear them at all, as I went to sleep straight away. It had been another really good day!
It was time to check out of the hotel and get ready to head up the Sunshine Coast to Maroochydore later that day. We had breakfast with Sarah and Sara at one of the restaurants nearby - it was a pretty nice cooked breakfast, I must say, and set us up nicely for
the day. Sara and Sarah said their goodbyes, and we went into the Borders Bookstore that was about a block away, and looked up holiday destinations for our honeymoon. We were really just waiting for that afternoon, when Marianne and Bill were picking us up and taking us up to Maroochydore in the car. After messing around in there for a while, we got a coffee and then went for a bit of a walk. After reaching the river we walked back around down to Borders - almost everything was closed because it was a public holiday, so there wasn't too much to do. We walked over to Parliament House and then wandered back to lie on the grass outside the Treasury Building. It was pretty hot, and we ended up staying in the shade most of the time. I went on a mission and got some cold drinks, and we just messed around taking photos. We ended up back at Borders just waiting, but that was OK, as books stores always have loads of stuff to look at.
Eventually Bill and Marianne arrived, and we jumped in the car and headed north. It was good to see them
again, and the traffic wasn't too bad either. We went past the famous Ettamogah Pub
, which is apparently the most photographed pub in the world, and up to Mooloolaba, where we got to stop at the beach for the first time. It was getting a bit colder and trying to rain, but we had time to see some of the sunset, and admire the soft sand and blue water. Heading north again, we went on a tiki-tour of Mooloolaba itself, and then Maroochydore, before making it to the apartment complex.
Bill and Marianne manage an apartment complex that consists of two main buildings - one where the residents live, and the other where holiday makers stay more short-term. They also live on-site in one of the apartments. There are two pools, a gym, BBQ facilities - heaps of stuff - and just across the road is a small mall, with heaps of places to eat as well as a movie theatre. The beach is a 15 minute nice walk away, and the complex is also next to a golf course - overall it's pretty nice. After a bit of a look around, Marianne cooked some dinner, and we just relaxed
- it was all good.
Days 5 - 8
There's not too much to say about the rest of our trip, apaprt from that it was very pleasant. I've pretty much forgotten what we did each day specifically, although I can remember the overall activities. It was quite wet in Maroochydore, although plenty warm enough for me (I wouldn't like to be there in summer). We had a really nice meal with Marianne and Bill at the Alex Surf Club, which was awesome. Quite interesting to see how big the surf clubs are over in Australia, as they are so busy, and people spend a lot of time in the water. They have a lot of facilities like restaurants, cafes and poker machine, bars and all sorts of stuff attached to them. We also had another nice dinner at a Thai place in Mooloolaba - it was really casual, and we sat at plastic tables outside to eat our food, but it was cheap, and the food was excellent. In the day time I generally sat by the pool reading (when it wasn't raining), while Vaughan would potter around or go off on bike rides along the
coast. One day Vaughan and I borrowed the car and made it over to Australia Zoo
, which was excellent - we fed the elephants, patted a koala, and got to watch the tigers take a bath. The zoo was much more impressive than I had imagined, and it was fun to see all the zoo keepers walking around, holding onto different animals and stuff, so you could just go and have a look (and a pat). It was quite interactive, and we were both really glad we went.
Another day Marianne and Bill took us to the Eumundi Markets - unfortunately it was a bit wet, so we didn't really linger around (which would have been much nicer), but we bought some nice bread and a few little bits and pieces anyway. We took a drive up the coast to Noosa, had a quick look around the beach, and the town itself (it's very upmarket compared to a lot of other places on the Sunshine Coast), and tried to have some lunch in the surf club there, but while Marianne and Bill were OK, Vaughan and I were treated very badly at the door, so we decided they didn't deserve
our business anyway, and we found another nicer (and cheaper) place to eat nearby. After that we went over to the Ginger Factory, which wasn't as dull as it sounds, and we made sure we ransacked the gift shop afterwards for lots of yummy ginger-flavoured stuff. Across the road we also went to the Macadamia Nut Factory. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. We bought far too much macadamia nut chocolate to take back with us, but I wasn't complaining! On the way back we went for a drive along the coast, through Coolum and down to some new subdivisions that were being built in the area. The coast was really nice - a bit rocky in places, but with soft golden sand and clear, blue water. It was good to see the surfers out too, despite the strong winds.
Vaughan and I managed to get to the cinema across the street to see X-Men (Wolverine) which was kind of nice to do as part of our relaxing holiday. We had been going to go down to the Gold Coast with Sarah and Sara, to stay at Byron Bay, but we had left it a bit late
to book accommodation, and we were enjoying the slower pace of the Sunshine Coast, so we decided to stay on with Bill and Marianne for an extra few days. Sarah and Sara drove up to see us in Maroochydore, which was really fantastic of them. We got them sorted out with a hostel to stay in, and then went for a bit of an adventure as well - off up the coast again to Coolum & Noosa, before coming back down to Mooloolaba for dinner at the surf club there. As it was a Friday night, the restaurant turned into a club later on in the evening. We mostly just spent time playing on the pokie machines while listening to the music and hassling all the locals who were dressed up the nines for their big night out. It was interesting that we had seen three different surf clubs, and what they had on offer - out of the two clubs that we had eaten in, they were both very different, but really cheap, and overall a good night out. Thanks for your company ladies - it was awesome to see you so much!
On our last night in
Maroochydore we took Marianne (and Bill) out for a Mothers Day dinner to a pub in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere (actually, it was probably about 40 minutes drive away from Maroochydore, but it was in the country). It was a pretty good time, although we had to wait forever for our dinner for some reason. It was a really good end to a nice holiday, and I enjoyed being able to take time out to just sit in the sun and read (by the very nice pool - it was a bit cold to swim though) as well as get out there and see some nice attractions around the Sunshine Coast. We both definitely enjoyed the slow pace, and were glad we hadn't decided to holiday on the Gold Coast instead. Nice.
We will definitely be back - hopefully the weather will be even better for us next time!
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