Scott and I spent almost three months in Australia on our honeymoon over seventeen years ago. We had just graduated from college, we were madly in love and had both thrown caution to the wind, surprised a few folks, and tied the knot. It’s a great story and some of you know it, as do our kids, so it’s not too shocking.
Here we are, finally back in Australia, although in a place that we have never visited before, Sunshine Beach near Noosa Heads. Some things just don’t change that much and we traveled then much like we travel now. We thought Australia sounded good, so we went to Australia and wandered around a bit until we fell in love with the Gold Coast and then stayed put until we had to go home. Upon returning from our honeymoon, we took a road trip and chose San Luis Obispo (another good story) because it reminded us of the Gold Coast of Australia. This time around we are a little more organized, thanks in part to our neighbors up the street. He is from Caloundra, just a little south of Noosa Heads and they both take their kids to Australia to visit family often. They agree that Noosa Heads is their very favorite place and if they had to choose one place to visit, it would be this gorgeous resort town. Scott and I had ventured into the Sunshine Coast area (the coastline north of Brisbane) on a day trip to Mooloolaba, not quite as far north as Noosa. It was beautiful, quieter than the Gold Coast, and we liked the feel of it, so this trip I wanted more Sunshine Coast and Noosa Heads was first on my “to visit” list.
It was love at first sight for the kids. They loved the beach and I loved the lifeguards on the beach (ten hours a day and more on the weekends) right across the street from our apartment with great hosts Ann and John (Saks on Hastings Holiday Apartments), conveniently located between many coffee shops and Noosa National Forest.
The waves were big enough to be fun, especially in the evenings.
The beach was beautiful, especially when this front rolled through one evening.
Grant was able to take some cool pictures of lightning on the beach.
We saw a wild koala! One of the first things Scott did was ask the managers at our apartment, Ann and John, if there might be a walk we could take where we could see wild koalas. They told us that sadly loss of habitat and sickness had taken a toll on the koalas in Noosa National Park and it had been years since they had seen one in the trees. On our third day in Noosa I set off on a run in the forest and not fifteen minutes down the trail there was a group of people looking into the trees. There was a koala in the tree! Luckily I had my phone and texted Scott to bring the kids. They saw Ann on their way past the beach area and she came with them, not quite believing that I had actually found a koala. I didn’t find it, nor did I believe what I was seeing, until I double checked with a few other observers.
John joined us eventually and we watched the koala wake up and climb higher into the tree to settle in for the gorgeous sunset.
This was the view that the koala admired as we admired him. The koala stayed in the same tree for three days and we enjoyed walking down the path to visit him.
Scott and I remembered Rainbow Lorikeets from our first trip to Australia, although we didn’t remember how noisy these bright and busy little fellows can get, especially in the evening.
We did things that the kids chose. Ashley found the Coolum Aqua Park on a flyer at the apartment and so we spent some time there. I chose to read my book. Scott slept (the first time…we went back) and the kids got a great workout!
They spent almost two hot and happy hours climbing and jumping and sliding. If only all workouts could be so much fun!
We took them on a hike through Noosa National Park on our last day. There was a bit of mutiny in the air. I think that their hiking reserves were spent on New Zealand.
It was hot and humid but the hike was beautiful.
Grant noticed this log near the path.
It was full of coins.
There are many trails in the park, some through the forest and one that runs along the coast.
These signs were posted all along the coastal trail that was clogged with happy surfers of all shapes, sizes and ages, often carrying two boards, darting off the trail and scrambling down to the ocean to enjoy the surf along the rocky coastline.
I hiked or ran out to Hell’s Gates four times while we were in Noosa and I never got tired of telling the family that I went to Hell’s Gates to check to see if I could get in and all four times I was turned away. Nobody really enjoyed my joke as much as I did and Ashley was even irritated that I would suggest they take a picture with the sign. Nonetheless, I will write my pastor! The experience was a boost of confidence for me.
The Goanna lizard was the whole reason that we drug the kids out to hike. Scott and I had seen some of these impressive fellows hiking and thought the kids would like to spot some. We found this one at the very end of the hike after Grant had given up and gone ahead.
Ashley of the Jungle climbing a vine on the Tanglewood Track.
There were interesting trees in the forest.
Worm art on the trees.
When we found Grant back on the main path near one of the parking lots he was happily watching a very large Goanna lizard. I guess that long, hot lizard expedition wasn’t really necessary after all.
We had a great first week in Australia. The kids went back and forth between the beach, the gelato shops and the apartment with school work in between. It was so much fun to take study breaks in the warm surf. Scott and I spent time running and hiking on the trails, playing with the kids in the water and sitting on our balcony watching the Lorikeets and the bats. There is definitely a feeling in the air of Australia that I remember on some subconscious level from our three months here years ago and it is nice to be back. I am especially thankful that Scott and I have had these seventeen years together and that here we are again with many more memories and two good kids to share a special place with that they have heard many stories about. Now Australia is part of their story too.