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Published: February 3rd 2016
Our initial plans, made many months ago at home, had included a visit to the Australia Zoo, just beyond Brisbane and en route to our next port of call. Steve had planned an original route on the Greyhound buses which would involve a change at Beerwah but would make it possible. Unfortunately, the changes to the bus schedule had completely removed that option and I was somewhat disappointed, particularly as a friend who had been there had thoroughly recommended it. Grrrrr. However, the possibility of feeding wild dolphins further on was just a bit of compensation and I focused on that instead. We had two stops to get us further up the coast before New Year; the first of those was a one night journey breaker in Mooloolaba.
Remember all those months ago when I said we shouldn't visit places we couldn't pronounce? Well, this place fell in that category! I couldn't get my tongue round it. It went along the lines of Mooloolalaba/Moomoolabala/Moolooalabama/Mooloolobama. It was too many 'm's, 'l's and 'oo's that did it but when it got to the point of Mooloolabia I thought it safest to give up and enunciate a definite 'Moo' at the start, fading
to an unintelligible following three syllables, which seemed to work. We checked out of the Hotel Jen and took the lift directly into the Transit Centre, which was back to functioning as normal following its Christmas break. Our Greyhound bus, when it arrived, was a little late and somewhat full already. It was a 'PUP' registration but on an older bus which kept losing its gears. Fortunately, we had an experienced driver who had been pulled in from his normal route to help cover the busier ones. So, he knew how to drive the bus but had no idea where he was going. As it happened, he had plenty of time to figure it out because just outside Brisbane we hit the most hideous traffic jam. We were again sitting at the front of the bus and he said everyone was escaping the city to go up to the Sunshine Coast.
We arrived in Mooloolaba one and a half hours late so it was probably a good thing that we didn't do a stop at the zoo on the way. We were dropped at the Bowls Club, which was not where we expected to be (damn those Greyhound timetable
office wallahs) but, luckily, our preprepared, printed out map stretched out as far as the Bowls Club so we knew where we were, kind of. A short-ish walk around the block brought us to the River Esplanade Motel where we were checked in by a guy who used to work in Edinburgh but gave it up after getting fed up of going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark - and he only worked a 5 hour day!
We didn't see too much of Mooloolaba, as we were only there overnight to break our journey. However, we discovered that we had taken the 'long way round' to get to the motel as it was, in fact, directly opposite the Bowls Club, just across the road but was called something else on that side! Go figure. It certainly challenged the Hotel Jen in terms of closeness to drop off point! We walked down to the seashore and found it to be a typical seaside resort, ideal for families. It had some very expensive looking properties with their own moorings and pontoons and seemed a prosperous little town. There were lots of birds again - lorikeets, ibis
and a magpie-type bird in significant numbers, together with lots of bats which took to the skies at dusk. The weather was lovely, bright and sunny and, despite the Hotel Jen Concierge's words of warning, everything was open. We had a drink in 'The Taps' but had to sit outside as the musicians were a guitar and drums combo, so loud they hurt our ears. We had a meal on our way back to the motel and had a steady evening, watching the weather quickly deteriorate. Overnight there was a deluge, real stair-rods of rain, and it seemed never ending. It came down so hard, so fast and for so long it was quite scary. We didn't think much of it when the locals said the rain was needed and welcome. We had travelled half way round the world for sunshine!
The following morning we checked out of the motel and walked down to The Spit, a very pretty area of the town, where we saw more of those brush turkeys and the huge nests they build. They have a Sea Life Aquarium in Mooloolaba and the queues went round the block and back again. There wasn't a whole
lot else to do. We collected our luggage and returned the bus stop outside the Bowls Club at 11.45 am for our bus at 12.05. The Greyhound people ask you to get there 20 minutes beforehand to allow people to get on and off the bus so that it can leave on time. We weren't convinced that any of the times would be anything but notional, given the delays we had experienced the day before. We were correct in this assumption as it happened because the bus was an hour late getting to us. No worries. We were joined by a couple and his brother who had never used the Greyhounds before so were pleased to see us there, able to 'explain the ropes'. He was from Canada but had moved to Oz with his work, where he had met his Australian girlfriend and he hoped to stay, having applied for Australian residency. His brother was just visiting. We spent a very pleasant hour chatting to them and had an 'interesting' conversation with a passing 'God-lady' who told us about her 'conversion'. The younger three were very polite to her; probably more polite than we were as we just moved
to one side and left them to it in the end. I felt a bit mean ..... There were now five of us at the bus stop, with all our luggage. This seemed to amaze the people passing us by who stared at us blatantly, muttering 'luggage' as though it were a dirty word and they had never seen travellers before. At one point a driver slowed down, wound down his window and yelled 'Bus w%#@ers!' which went over everyone's head except Steve's who had to explain to us, through fits of laughter, that it was a refrain from the Inbetweeners TV series. Once we understood the reference, and its associations, we group of five became somewhat hysterical and rowdy, giggling 'Moi, a bus w%#@er?' and probably scaring the locals even more with our uncontrollable behaviour. They were probably more pleased than us to see the bright red shape of the bus trundling down the road to remove us, the undesirables, from their little town.
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