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Category Archives: Australia

Hooroo Australia – Gold Coast, Australia

Author: Steve

Keegan saying good-bye to Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia

We are ending Australia where we started, in the Gold Coast – we decided to stay at the same campsite we stayed when we first arrived for a couple nights before catching a plane to Hawaii.  As we sit and reflect on our stay in Australia all we can do is be thankful for such an incredible experience in the land down-under with the great opportunity we were given to meet yet more incredible new friends.

We head to the US tomorrow and I cannot begin to tell you how sad I am that our trip is coming closer to an end and yet how happy I am that I have had this time with my family.

Cheers!

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Posted by on May 12, 2012 in Australia

 

More New Friends Down Under and Koala’s – Brisbane, Australia

Author: Kendal

Here we are with our new mates and you can also see the Brisbane skyline in the background

Since we are now in…Australia!!!! (I love yelling that.)  We decided that since Australia was so huge we would just stay in the Queensland area and explore. At the campsite on one of our first nights in Australia we met a number of really nice and fun families. One of the families was even nice enough to invite us to their house for a night! People sure are friendly in Australia ;)! They have 3 kids, two boys, Jacob (12) and Lachlan (10) and one cute little girl named Maleese (7). When we got there we got the tour of the house and attacked… with kisses by their ADORABLE dog, Lily – love at first site 🙂 .

The cute koala just hanging out! Even though you hear koala “bear” sometimes, they are not bears at all they are marsupials, or pouched mammals.

Koala on the move! Koala’s are nocturnal animals and they sleep up to 18-20 hours a day.

They knew of a conservancy that held koala’s!!!!! So we all hopped in the cars and headed to the koala’s! They were so cute, and furry, and moving! We actually saw one climb . . . no, scoot down the tree and then crawl across to get some more leaves! It was a very nice way to see the koala’s that we had been looking for since being in Australia. Along the highways there are signs for koala crossing and we had been on the lookout. We found out that koala’s are threatened in Australia because they need a lot of space, about 100 trees per koala, and with the woodland areas shrinking in Australia so is the population of the koala.

Our group then headed off to a really good look out point to get a great view of the sky-line of Brisbane, thankfully there was a park to play on so when the parents talked we played! 😉 Once we got back we hung out around the house, and then had a typical Australian dinner on the barbie! It was delicious! Afterwards, while the parents did what parents do (talk) we kids played hide and seek in the dark…very nerve racking.  Since it was, say . . . midnight, we decided it was best if we got ready for bed.  In the morning we got to eat incredible egg and bacon breakfast sandwiches made on the barbie!  Before we left we got to do one more fun thing and that was ride their bikes to the parks in their neighborhood. Keegan and Jacob were on a tandem bike…let’s just say there was a lot of screaming on that bike . . .lol! It was such a fun experience to hang out with them; it was a great way to end the tour of Brisbane and we hope to see our friends again when they visit the US.

Keegan enjoyed practicing his video game skills with Lachlan and Jacob.

The authentic Australian barbie by Mike our grill man.

I tried out the authentic Aboriginal instrument; the didgeridoo.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2012 in Australia

 

Fraser Island – Queensland, Australia

Author: Keegan

Our rental car and home for a few nights. We were lucky because the bathroom and showers were only 20 feet across the street and everything was very clean. All the campsites in Australia that we stayed at were actually very clean.

We are in Australia now and we are moving on to a place called Fraser Island. It is a huge island made of sand off the coast of Australia.  It is the largest sand island in the world, its 75 miles long and you can only access it by ferryboat.

Here we are getting ready for the long day

We got picked up by a tour company at the campsite we were staying at in a city called Noosa.  On the trip we took this HUGE 4×4 truck and the driver/tour guide asked my dad and I to sit in the passenger seat (front seat) with him.

This was my view for the tour that day – it was pretty cool being up front

To get to the island we had to take a barge that carries 4 x 4 trucks/cars across to the island. It was very cool. After that we went to a special spot on the water where there was a stream going into the ocean for morning tea but to get there was like…ugh…terrible!! It was like really bad turbulence on an airplane for fifteen minutes straight! It was not fun. We then rode on the beach for a couple of miles and then we went further in the island there were a lot of eucalyptus trees every where.

That’s my mom in Lake McKenzie which is one of the over 100 fresh water lakes on the island

Then we went to a large freshwater lake for a swim and lunch after that. The sand in the lake is supposed to make sliver and gold shiny when you rub some of it on your silver and gold jewelry, I guess it has silicon in the sand. While we were swimming we saw a Dingo (wild dog) and it was kind of cool looking. They say that Fraser Island has the most pure breed of Dingo’s in all of Australia because people are not allowed to bring dogs on the island and no other canine can get there because it is an island.

Some people never see Dingo’s when they go on the Island because there aren’t that many left. So we were lucky. This one came out of no where and every one just slowly backed away. We were looking at it and then we realized my mom disappeared – my dad said she saw some Dingo movie growing up where the Dingo eats a baby and ever since then she gets spooked by the Dingo’s so she took off.

For lunch I had some steak and it was pretty good Kendal had some too. My mom had shrimp on the barbie . . . again, she likes that.

The rainforest was really cool to walk through, it is the only place on earth where tall rainforest grows in the sand

After that we took the barge back and then went on the beach again for some afternoon tea. They are big on morning and afternoon tea here in Australia if you haven’t already figured out, which I don’t mind because it typically always includes cookies.

In the rainforest on Fraser Island

That day we saw four kangaroos and one dingo so it was a great day.

This is on our way back, we drove that beach for so long . . . it was very cool but a little too long for me so I closed my eyes for a bit and caught up on a little sleep

My dad is holding up a 2 and my mom is holding up a 1 – that’s so they remember where they spent their 21st wedding anniversary. They said, “it doesn’t get much better than this”!

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2012 in Australia

 

The Great Barrier Reef – Australia

Author: Steve

After reaching the GBR this was our view of Lady Musgrave Island. We took a glass bottom boat from here to the island for a tour of Lady Musgrave

One of our main plans in going to Australia was to visit another one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World . . . that being the Great Barrier Reef (GBR).

We were all set to take a tour that gave us accommodations at a lodge with a short flight onto one of the islands in the GBR.  But then someone at one of the campsites told us of a more cost efficient route by taking a boat out to one of the islands.  So we decided to ditch the small plane and take a boat instead. This new plan also had us driving farther north giving us a chance to see more of the countryside. We ended up driving to the town of 1770, which is where Captain James Cook discovered Australia . . . yeah it’s kind of the same way Christopher Columbus discovered America.

After our tour of the island – the views were amazing anywhere you looked

 THE GOOD

The boat facilities were good; we had a full agenda with snorkeling, a land tour of Lady Musgrave Island, semi-submarine boat for observations, fishing, glass bottom boat, lunch and morning and afternoon tea.  The GBR is the worlds largest coral reef system with over 2900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching over 1600 miles . . . its huge!  It was simply amazing to be snorkeling within the reef and among the sea life; at one point the four of us were swimming with these huge sea turtles . . . highlight of the day. The water was so clear, which made the coral amazing and the sea was full of dazzling shades of blue. That’s as good as I can explain how awesome it was . . . which I know doesn’t do it the justice it deserves.

The island itself was amazing

THE NOT SO GOOD

I know myself and I know I don’t take chances when it comes to 90 minute boat rides in the open water so I picked up some Kwells at the first opportunity (thanks Karina for telling us about Kwells).  That morning before we left I had Keegan take a half a pill, Kendal take one and I took two.  Amy doesn’t really get seasick so she decided to only take one.

Looking out at a portion of the enormous Great Barrier Reef

As I started reading the brochure a little closer I noticed 3 areas where they mention sea sickness and taking precautions and then when we got on the boat I saw that they had multiple sea sickness bags in every seat (uh oh!!).   Before we got underway we received our briefing and agenda for the day, the last part of the briefing went over specific instructions on what to do in case you possibly get seasick . . . this was so not looking good.  But I thought no biggie, it’s a 90 minute ride so I started my stopwatch.  I figured it would take at least 30 minutes to troll out to open water and then maybe we’ll hit some waves but we would need to slow down once again as we got close to the reef . . . maybe 20-30 minutes tops for rough water.  So I thought.  Five minutes into the ride and we hit very, very rough water.  I immediately went into the fetal position not wanting to hear, see or think about anything other than not getting sick and praying for the captain to slow down.  When it’s this rough you don’t care what anyone thinks of you so the fetal position seemed to work for me.

Before we took-off Amy was waving happily at the kids who were on the other side of the boat.  When you’re together with your kids for 12 months non-stop you take advantage (and so do they) of having freedom in a safe environment so they were together on the other side of the boat. The boat had 2 seats on one side, 5 in the middle and another 2 on the other side, all separated by an aisle – sitting down Amy and I couldn’t see the kids and we sure hoped they were okay because neither one of us could stand up after we started.  As big as this boat was no one could stand up due to the swells throwing the boat around.  So at exactly 10 minutes (I know because I opened one eye long enough to see my watch) we hit a huge wave and came smashing down and all I heard was my poor little Amy saying, “Oh sh*t!!” . . . and then it really started to get bad.

So here’s the procedure from the briefing: if someone were to get sick, you were to very carefully fill your sickness bag and then raise your hand, there were attendants lined up in the back of the boat with rubber gloves on that would come to you and take your bag and give you another one (kind of like this has happened many times over).  Every once in a while I would peek open one of my eyes and all I saw were hands going up all over the boat and these attendants running back and forth with these bags filled with “sickness”.  A few times when I opened my eye I tried to help Amy by giving her a quick rub on her back as she was bent over on the chair in front of her, she looked miserable.  Her hand went up about 10 times . . . ouch!  These waves were relentless and as time went by I kept looking at my watch  – it ended up being a 2-hour ride from hell!  Luckily the kids were fine watching a documentary on the GBR on the TV that was hanging on the other side of the boat.

Pretty bird isn’t it? Well that bird swooned down out of no where while I was eating a cookie during afternoon tea and pecked at my head and yes I have witnesses.

Amy knew we only had the day out there so she forced a quick recovery once we hit the island and participated in all activities, unfortunately a number of other tour participants just sat and watched the day go by fearing the ride back (it took Amy a few days to completely recover).  We found out after, that a man the day before got so sick and was so upset that he said he wouldn’t go back on the boat and said he would pay anything to get a helicopter out there to pick him up.  The Captain actually tried but in the end this guy had to endure the ride back.  Luckily the ride back was slightly smoother (more Kwells) but I did see a number of people with their hands up.  Amy and I just kept talking as a distraction and that worked.

Moral of the story – take a plane!

Our destination was inside the coral reef (we were surrounded by the reef) so it was nice and calm perfect for snorkeling.  Other than the ride there and back it was an amazing outing

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2012 in Australia

 

New Mates in Toowoomba – Queensland, Australia

Author: Amy

Our Aussie grillmaster – Steve, yes another Steve!

To fall in love with a place is such an amazing feeling.  Australia just had a sense of calm about it that we all embraced. We loved our time in the salty air at the beach and just as much enjoyed the Hinterland as they call their countryside and mountainous regions.  I had never heard of Toowoomba, Australia before I arrived here but we had communicated with another travelling family that finished their year in January and they were from Toowoomba (www.fourdotsonthemap.com).  Karina had mentioned in an email – stop by if you’d like.  Well that was her first mistake.  We went and spent 2 fabulous nights at their house.  They have two boys, Harris who is Keegan’s age and Patrick a few years younger.  The three boys set up camp and slept in the back yard.  We were given yet another example of the wonderful, giving people that live on our planet. We couldn’t have asked for more gracious hosts.

Setting up the tent!

Keegan trying the famous “Vegemite”, it was actually pretty good, the secret is to apply a thin layer don’t pile it on.  You can sing this next sentence, I know you want to — “and they gave me a Vegemite sandwich”!!

Toowoomba is inland and we travelled about 2 hours from our refreshing salt air to meet our new friends.  As you head away from the coast the roads get curvy and you feel yourself getting higher above sea level.  The town sits up high in a beautiful mass of green.  It is fall here in Australia so the nights are cool and the days have been perfect.  We had a fabulous visit with our new friends and had a lot of laughs sharing our different adventures . . . what incredible people!  We hiked a mountain near their home called Tabletop Mountain.  It was a great way to spend the day.  We had an “official” Australian Barbie at their friend’s house.  She lives on 25 acres where she has a few Alpacas and they were sure we would see wallabies and kangaroos there as well as possibly koalas.  It was a beautiful evening of eating, drinking and enjoying a campfire.  Some of us saw wallabies some saw a kangaroo and some of us heard koalas.  We learned that they make a grunting noise and sure enough after it was dark we heard it.  Out of the many beautiful things that stick out in Australia one of the most powerful is the evening sky – the stars are like we have never seen before.  To see the night sky lit up by stars is something that will stay with us forever.  That night at the barbie ended perfectly with a viewing a few shooting stars – magical Australia.

That’s Keegan, Kendal and Steve II as we reached the top of Tabletop Mountain

That’s me and Karina making our way up the mountain; it wasn’t as easy of a task as I first thought but what an adrenalin rush

Kendal holding the gate as we enter the “yard” for our Australian BBQ

Our new Aussie friends and wonderful host and hostesses. Our stay was “the ducks nuts!”

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Australia

 

Gold Coast Holiday Park – Queensland, Australia

Author: Steve

Keegan could have stayed all day, everyday at the beach.

We had no intention of visiting Australia and as we look back we really had no reason other than preoccupation with the rest of our trip.  However, this last minute decision to visit Australia was a great one!

Our flight took us from Tokyo to the coastal city of Gold Coast, Australia, which is in the state of Queensland.  Amy really wanted to hit the campsites that she had been reading about and she found a great one in Gold Coast on Main Beach called the Gold Coast Holiday Park. Just imagine an extremely family friendly campsite surrounded by huge condominiums and directly across the street from the incredible roaring ocean beach.  It was so ideal. We would get up slow, the kids would do a little homework and then by 10am we were walking across the street to battle the intense waves for about 2 hours and head back for lunch.  After a little more homework we went back for round 2 at about 3pm for more wave battles. The beaches are so incredibly majestic and to have access like we had was a true blessing.

Back for round two – we’re coming for the waves! You can see the surf lifeguards in yellow over my shoulder. Because of the intense power of the waves you are instructed to only swim between the flags. These strong waves come at you from every angle, repeatedly and the rip can be really strong so if you’re not careful it can be very dangerous . . . people can go missing very easily.

This is what surrounds the campsite. We immediately found Australia and its people to be so relaxing and laid back.

That’s our porch – and yes they have wifi. You can see the beach in the background across the street, we all really loved this place.

Amy celebrating – she just booked one of our last flights to the US – such a nice, relaxing place.

Very interesting to me is that while we were in China we learned more about the “one baby” rule that started back in 1979 and as we were in Australia we learned that the government offers a $5,000 “baby-bonus” to entice couples to have a baby.  Something else pretty interesting to me is that in the city of Beijing they have a population of approximately 30 million people – now take a look at Australia, who has the land size larger than the US minus Alaska, and they have a population of only 24 million in all of Australia.

There’s Kendal and Keegan – always nice to meet new friends in a campsite.

We were there during the Easter Holiday so the campsite was full with families and activities.  The kids met a number of friends at this campsite and through them we met some great parents as well.  These new friends invited us to their home while we are traveling about – so we’ll be blogging about that soon.  This was a great way to start off our Australian tour and because of this nice start we decided to extend our stay a bit before heading back to the US.  I can’t believe our time is almost over . . . wow how a year flies!

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2012 in Australia