Whales, theme parks and beach life in Queensland

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this. – Henry David Thoreau

After an early start, we made our way to the famous Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. I usually prefer less touristy places, nature full of serenity and bird song, but it does make me feel giddy to go to places I only know from postcards and magazines. And then there they are, right in front of you.

First we stopped at Broadbeach which is a bit quieter than Surfers Paradise. It’s a nice golden beach and we relaxed in the park. Then off to a swim at Surfers Paradise! I like the tropical feeling of Queensland with its lush green spaces and palm trees. This was one of those days were I feel so carefree and happy. We walked around a little bit, then looked for a place to stay for the night. As there are not many free overnight rest areas at the Gold Coast, we chose a caravan park (also, with the humidity, a shower is more than welcome. There are so many days where I just felt blessed for the reason that I had access to a shower). About half an hour away at Moreton Bay, we camped at Jacobs Well Tourist Park. As we heard about an outdoor cinema, we made our way to Yatala Drive-In. I just love going to the cinema and an old school drive-in one is even better for a warm night.

It’s a wonderful life when we allow it to be. That’s our job – to allow it. – Bronnie Ware

As we were on a budget, we were debating if we should do one of the things the Gold Coast is famous for: Theme parks! We found a good deal on Groupon and decided we just had to do it. You only live once, right? On Sunday, we went to Warner Bros. Movie World, on Monday we were having so much fun at Wet’N’Wild. The pass is valid for a year, so maybe I could use it as an excuse to come back to Australia soon 😉

What next? Off to the lovely capital of Queensland, Brisbane. I love that Brizzie (he he) has so many green spaces and you can leisurely walk along the Brisbane River or take the ferry around. Just don’t forget to bring your insect repellent, as there are quite a lot of mozzies (I try natural deet-free insect repellents with citronella and vanilla and they seem to work okay. Any recommendations?). If you’ve got more time in the city, you can make use of the free pools (like South Bank and Settlement Lagoon) or go to one of the rock pools. After exploring the city and taking the ferry to Thornton Street, we walked through Redcliffe (a peninsula with red sand) and Scarborough (northern tip of the peninsula). We got to watch a beautiful sunset with the bright orange sun shining through the clouds. It’s funny, those are such little moments, but I still remember it quite vividly as I was so at peace and everything felt magical – because, yes, I do have a monkey mind which loves to worry about unnecessary things. I’m glad I’ve gotten more relaxed during my travels (things just seem to flow much better if you manage to trust and follow your intuition rather than your ego), but sunsets and the colors of nature definitely help me stay in the present moment.

See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask for no guarantees, ask for no security. – Ray Bradbury

After a night of camping in Caboolture, we made our way to Bribie Island which you can drive to. Taking a walk along the beach, we decided to drive to the Glass House Mountains (about a one hour drive from Brisbane). This is such an amazing place. You can see the volcanic remnants even from further away in the Sunshine Coast area and are made up of eleven mountains with Mount Beerwah being the highest. We did the rainforest walk and took some time taking in the landscape.

Glass House Mountains
Panorama of the beautiful Glass House Mountain peaks, 2016.

If you are going a bit inland, I can recommend Mapleton, a cute village with beautiful and unexpected views. Take some time to have a cuppa at one of the cafes along the hilltops with views of deep green rolling hills and the coast. Mapleton Falls are also only a short drive away. We ended up staying at Mapleton Cabins and Caravan Park which is right in the rainforest.

When it comes to charming towns, don’t miss out on Montville. First, we set out on a walk in Mapleton Falls National Park, then did the picnic circuit (about 45 mins) at Kondalilla Falls. Montville was perfect to take a break (also, you are only about 20 minutes away from Australia Zoo and the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk). The town has wonderful views over the Blackall Range, as far as the ocean, and beautiful buildings that are art galleries, cafes and other mostly original shops.

Montville
View on the Blackall Range from one of the cafes in charming Montville, 2016.

Being an animal lover, I was really happy to see turtles and whales at a lookout at Point Arkwright and Coolum Beach the same day. As we were planning to go back to Perth for Christmas, we only stopped shortly in Noosa which probably would have deserved a second look. As the day turned to night, we found our camping spot at the awesome No Worries RV in Cooroy.

Point Arkwright
Beautiful view from Point Arkwright, 2016.
Point Arkwright
Great spot to see whales – Arkwright Point, 2016.

Time for a trip to another beach – Rainbow Beach! A little coastal town with rainbow-coloured sand dunes and also a start point for a trip to Fraser Island. If you plan to spend the evening there, watch the sunset from Carlo Sand Blow. In search of a cheap campground, we stayed at the Wongi State Forest (a eucalyptus forest with a waterhole – would probably not go there again with a 2WD simply for the fact that it was a bit off a drive, partly on gravel roads). Don’t you think that nothing compares with the intense and calming smell of eucalyptus trees?

Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. – Miriam Beard

As it was now mid-October and we had been on the road for a while, we decided to start the day off lazy and read (‘Almost French’ by Sarah Turnbull). We only drove about 1 1/2 hours that day to Hervey Bay where we took a walk along the jetty. Apparently there is a great chance to spot some whales in this town – I have to say I have never taken a trip on a whale watching boat as I just have a weird feeling about it (do I feel like I am disturbing the whales peace? I’m not sure), but understand why you would want to do it. Those animals are just amazing to watch. But often you can spot whales and dolphins at lookouts during the right season if you bring a bit of patience.  Our place to sleep that night? Our blue Aldi tent which found its place at Lazy Acres Caravan Park.

When I read my diary to recapture my travels, I sometimes still can’t believe that I got to see and experience all this. While I’ve been travelling, I got into the habit of saying ‘thank you’ every morning. In my mind, I think about what I am grateful for – a new morning, being able to travel, food, water and a place to sleep,.. Even on a bad day, I find something to be thankful for now (even if it’s just a soothing cup of tea or coffee) – it took a bit of time to make a routine out of it, though once you start, you find more and more reasons to be thankful for 🙂

Our adventures in Queensland don’t end here, so find out in my next post how I had to go to a doctor, about a magical spot with platypus and fireflies in the Eungella National Park, Halloween on Magnetic Island and how we had to learn a lot of patience…

Have a lovely day, my beautiful fellow beings! ❤

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