04 March 2009

Greetings from balmy Queensland!

Okay, so I've got a little catching up to do so here goes....

Monday, 16 Feb
I finished up working at Monash the previous Friday and I was waiting for the packers to arrive. We'd worked like demons over the weekend to get everything sorted out. The door bell rang at about 8.30am. This really sweet Islander girl came to the door, introduced herself and said she was there to pack up our belongings. I asked her where the rest of the team was (we had 6 wekkas pack our stuff in SA) and she said it was just her! She was awesome! She just plugged herself into her iPod and got going! I asked if I could help - no thank you. I asked if she wanted coffee, juice, water, anything? No thank you. You can go out if you like, I'll be finished in a few hours.

Excellent! So I went out. Browsed book shops, had coffee and breakfast, bought a few supplies for our trip and generally tried not to spend too much of our Brissie start up fund. I found a really great road trip atlas and a book on Queensland (we've got about 15 on Sydney - cycling in, walking in, touring in, sightseeing in - everything in Sydney & New South Wales).

I got back to the apartment at about 12 and she was pretty close to finished. She left at 1 o'clock. Can you believe it??? She packed up a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment in just 4,5 hours - on her own!!! It took 6 SA movers a whole day to pack and load everything - and most of our furniture was bought in Australia anyway!!!!

Computers packed - my lifeline gone!

ALL our my clothes fitted into this pink suitcase except for a few things packed into a smaller bag for the few weeks until our stuff was unpacked again. Same thing with Scott's clothes. Not bad going! Of course we had to send another 4 black bags of clothing to Vinnies.... If it hasn't been worn in 3 months and it no longer fits - chuck it! You should try it - it's very liberating to travel so light!

Packing up the office

The black suitcase on the bed is what each of us used for our "travel" clothes. That's Scott's red suitcase with all his clothes.

The lounge packed up

Empty fridge. I have become the queen of making a meal out of whatever is in the cupboard & fridge! We managed to use up pretty much all our foodstuffs. Just a few sauces not polished off. And the freezer was completely empty except for a tray of ice.

The spare room...

Tuesday, 17 Feb
Scott was officially on leave for 4 whole days! Woopee!!! So we were up bright and early and the movers arrived at 7am to load our stuff & take it away to storage. These were 2 good looking (in a bad-boy sort of way) Islander boys with rock hard tattoo-ed muscles. Scott and I just got out of their way so they could do their thing. Once they'd inventoried everything to be packed, we went off to the village for brekkie. We'd already packed the car and were just hanging around waiting to leave. Our plan was to wait for the cleaners to arrive to hand over the keys. Scrap that plan 'cos the cleaning company called to say they'd be there at 1pm. Damn! The movers were nearly finished and it was only 10am! So we signed the inventory papers, asked them to put the keys in the letterbox for the cleaner and we hit the road. We'd already arranged for the cleaner to take the keys back to the estate agent for us as well - at no extra cost.

We were on our way to Queensland! And then came the bombshell! We got a call from Fridays Creek - the place we were due to stay at for a few days along the way - due to heavy rains in the area, the roads were flooded and we wouldn't be able to get in. Bugger!!! Well, we decided to just wing it, drive as far as we could and make a plan when it started getting dark.

For all those of you with your mouths gaping - YES, I am now able to just hit the road with no plan in place! See what Australia has done to me! :-)

About an hour before we got to Coff's Harbour, we called Fridays Creek and they said that although we'd have to drive through some water, we'd be able to get in. Our cottage was ready for us, no need to stop at the office as it was unlocked and the key was on the kitchen counter. WOOOPPEEEE!!!!

We arrived to this absolutely beautiful area just inland from Coff's - all farmland and rain forests. We could feel the tension draining....

And then we arrived at the Fridays Creek farm..... *sigh* It was absolutely beautiful.

Having brekkie on the deck while bird watching

The view across the valley from our deck

We took a drive into Coffs for supplies. I got very irritable - I just wanted to be away from hustle & bustle. We'll head back to Coff's one of these fine days for some exploring. This is one reluctant photo at Coffs.

Scott at Coffs

Back to some serious relaxing! Scott in the hanging chair hammock thingy with his book

A kookaburuh in the tree in front of the cottage

Trevor chilling out with us in the evening - Trev belonged to the maintenance man on the farm and revelled in the attention from these two pet-starved city folk!

On our first night, we decided to relax in our 2 person spa bath. Only problem is that once it was filled and we switched it on, it kept draining. Us unsophisticated plebs, not being very well versed in the luxuries of a spa bath, thought we were doing something wrong. After re-filling the bath a few times we gave up. The next day we called Nicole at the office who sent her hubby to check things out for us. Adam and Scott went around the side of the house to check out the pump. The next thing they're both shouting for salt. Quick! Where's the salt? Bring the salt! Hurry!!! Like two panicky girls! Leaches. Stacks of the blood sucking monsters. Salt kills 'em - not as spectacularly as salt kills snails though. I expected foam 'n stuff but they just kinda curl up and roll over.

So the boys found the problem - a leaking part on the pump and Adam came back later that day to replace the part.

Excellent! So we tried again that evening.....

Nobody told us NOT to put bubble bath in the tub........

Dawn through the trees and mist behind the cottage

The mist clearing to make way for a glorious sunny day

Our chariot outside the cottage. You'll notice a little beige box on the wall just under the side window - that's where the leaches were lying in wait for Scott & Adam's juicy limbs!

Going for a walk

We found the split level pool. And that's Trev's dad on the left.

Scott collecting some vino from the office. They make a VERY good rose at Fridays Creek.

Lazing at the pool. This pic was taken at 11.13am.

My little friend who appeared in the bushes next to the pool. He slithered down to the pool railing and followed me up to the laundry where I had our clothes in the washer. I got Trev's dad to move him from there to some other bushes. I don't know who was more curious, the snake or me.

It started getting a little stormy so Scott & I moved up to the BBQ area next to the pool while the storm finished it's show.

This pic was taken at 1.31pm. Those are the 2 loungers we were sitting in before.

Talk about massive drops of rain - check out the splashes from individual drops on the table.

Waiting for the rain to stop so we could get back to lazing at the pool

Thinking about lunch...


Another storm blowing away

We could quite happily have stayed at Fridays Creek for another week! That's definitely a spot to revisit!

Friday, 20 Feb
Time to hit the road again! Gold Coast ho! Most of our time on the road it was raining so we didn't get the camera out much at all.

I have no idea what bridge this is. Scott insisted that we take a pic of it through so here it is. It's a working lifting bridge.

The Big Prawn in Ballina! Australia has a whole stack of these "Big" things. Bananas, axes, redbacks, crocs, pineapples, etc.

Next stop was Lennox Head. This is a beautiful spot and also the first time we'd ever seen a surfing reserve.

Me next to the dedication plaque for the surfing reserve at Lennox Head

Scott reading the plaque at Lennox Head

Us at Byron Bay Lighthouse. We fell in love with Byron the first time we were there in June '08. We just had to go back. Yip, another thunder storm heading our way from the North.

Scott at the entrance to the lighthouse. We'd just been talking about how peaceful and clean everything was. How well maintained. As I took this pic, an African person walked into the frame. It had us in stitches!

Scott enjoying one of the best ice creams on earth!


This place is truly beautiful - in any weather. It also happens to be the eastern most point of Australia.

We arrived in Robina on the Gold Coast at about 4pm. There followed a flurry of activity! We are staying with my brother's godfather, Geoff and his wife, Pearl.

NEWS FLASH: from now on Geoff & Pearl will be known as our Uncle & Aunt. They're family - just not by blood and it's too long-winded saying "my brother's godfather & his wife".

They're amazing hosts and have a beautiful home in Robina with loads of space and a swimming pool. Their neighbours came over for an early dinner and then they were all off to the theatre for the evening. We unpacked the car and crashed early. We really hit the ground running. Saturday morning we were out scouting suburbs. We drove and drove and drove and drove. We were both very discouraged. All of a sudden it just came crashing in on us. Nothing was familiar anymore. It was all strange. Brisbane is not like Sydney. Not even remotely. We felt no "vibe". There were no recognisable landmarks. The coastal areas along the Gold Coast where we looked first were so tacky and rundown and we just couldn't see ourselves living there. We looked inland too. We literally drove all day - from 7am until we got back at 6pm. I think we covered about 400km in that first day. We saw nothing we liked. Everywhere we looked, there were these rundown queenslander houses which looked like they were made out of damp cardboard. That or these new developments where all the houses look the same - Parklands transplanted to Brisbane - and are just built boundary to boundary with no gardens and you literally live in your neighbour's pocket. And it was hot and horribly humid and sticky. We were absolutely shattered. We just could not see any beauty in the place on that first weekend. We'd only been in Australia for a year and this was our third house move. We hadn't realised it, but Sydney had really become home. We were comfortable there and had relaxed and embraced our new city. Now we had to start all over again.

And then Scott went to work on Monday morning..... 2 hours to get to work in the city!!! And just over 2 hours to get home again that evening. Okay, so scrap the idea of living on the Gold Coast and work in Brisbane. So I started concentrating on property in and around Brisbane. Scott & I had a long chat and decided that we had to get our spirits up again. We would give this city a good go. It will be good to be in one place for more than 6 months. So I got back to the drawing board and we decided to take a house that suited our needs but wasn't necessarily our dream home. I found a nice little place in a suburb called Moggill which is about 20km south west of the city. It's got enough space for a home office for me, spare room & bathroom for visiting friends & family and best of all, a swimming pool (if we can't have the sea, we have to have a pool in this climate!).

And then another bombshell! Scott's dad had a heart attack on Tuesday, 24 Feb. He's incredibly lucky as he was taken to Vincent Palotti hospital in Pinelands where he was given top class care. Thankfully he's now recovering at home - probably driving Cavell nuts already! You'll both be happy to know that we're joining you in your new, healthy lifestyle!

On Saturday we went to view the house in Moggill (I'd already had a sneak peak) and handed in our application which I'd meticulously prepared in my usual overly efficient way. LOL! The agency called me on Monday to let me know we have the house. We take occupancy on Monday, 9 March.

Geoff and Pearl have been absolutely wonderful hosts. But I'm sure they'll be happy to have their house back to normal. It's definitely going to be good for both Scott & I to be surrounded by our own familiar stuff. The sooner we get settled into our new home, the sooner we can start exploring and enjoying our new city!

I got onto the movers who will be delivering our stuff on Tuesday, 10 March. The electricity is being turned on on Friday. The phone will be connected on Monday and our ADSL should be up and running by Wednesday evening. Easy as!

The following are some pics of the house I took off the agency's website.

From the street - the garden service will come and make nice before we move in.

The back patio off the lounge. That's the kitchen window straight ahead with the lounge sliding door on the left.

The kitchen - with dishwasher!

This 2nd lounge/sitting room is at the front of the house

Standing on the back patio looking at the very green pool! They've promised that it'll be sparkling by Monday!

LOL! Last night Geoff & Pearl went off to movies with friends so we thought we'd head out for a walk on the beach and then some sushi. We headed for Burleigh beach which is absolutely beautiful. I'm just really sorry we didn't take the camera with us! Afterwards we headed back to Robina for some sushi train....... NOT! Tuna mayonnaise wrapped in rice and nori is NOT sushi! Neither is sliced chicken schnitzel, mayonnaise and some avo wrapped in rice! So we decided to head for Nandos instead as it was right next door. While we were sitting chomping on our peri peri chicken burgers, who should come walking in but the whole Cheetah's Super 14 team! Damn those okes are big!!! So yeah, the camera would've come in handy last night. :-) So Scott and I are thinking of staking out Nandos next week when the Sharks are here! We're off to the game next Saturday at Suncorp stadium against the Reds. We'll be wearing our black & white!

Until next time.....


Anonymous said...

Hee hee... missin your sushi already. Michael and I will go and have some real stuff in your honor. Friday creek is our dream plan. Great to hear you are up there safely.

Erin said...

Like the previous commenter... Fridays Creek is my dream. Always wanted to open a bed and breakfast with my mother, but upon moving to Australia I fell in love with the farmstay concept, somewhere between a B&B and a dude ranch. I was really inspired when I stumbled across Fridays Creek's website. After your photos and review, I'll certainly be putting it on my 'to-do' list! Glad you made it to QLD safely. All the best on your next leg of your Australian Adventure!

Anonymous said...

Brisbane doesn't really have any landmarks, and you're not the first person to say so, we have the same problem when driving around.

You've missed the worst of the humidity (fortunately), it was really bad there for a couple of weeks.

Gold coast beaches are beautiful, but the commute to the Brisbane CBD is a bitch, even using trains and buses. I only know of one person who used to commute, and he hated it.

We had the same experiences with queenslander houses (I don't like them unless they've been done up), but there's much nicer places on much larger properties the further you go out from the city (tho Logan is about as far south as you want to go, it's about 40-50 minutes by bus during rush hour).

This place does get better, hang in there, there's plenty to do and see. And tho it's not Sydney, I think it'll grow on you :)


John & Mel.

Mamajoon said...

Ah, you guys are going to take Brisbane by storm - they won't know what hit them! Remember how Sydney was strange at first and every apartment you saw was grim? Soon Brisbane will be familiar and loved too. And comforting for us to know you are only a couple of hours away from family. It's going to be nice to spread out in a house and I know your green fingers are soon going to be busy! Love you both, Mom and Dad

Anonymous said...

Hi Guys
The house looks great. I reckon this is all going to be a fantastic time for you in Brisbane. What an incredible journey in life you are both having. Well over the lumbering heart now, nothing that a good SA wine won't sort out. Go out and catch some fresh fish for your next Sushi, or try Nandos. Had an argument with Lillie a week ago about the instructions given by the ref when the scrum lines up.
"Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage.
Lillie says, "Crouch, Touch, Balls, Engage." Wacth it Claude, you could be in trouble

Heartless and Hermit

Carol Markusse said...

Hey you 2!! Glad to hear you arrived safely. I hope you settle in nicely once you have your own goodies in your new house. Scotty, I'm really pleased to hear your dad is making a full recovery. Happy unpacking xxx

Seabee said...

We're just back from doing that road trip - we did Sydney to Noosa. Before we left I was watching the news for updates on bushfires, a few days later we were watching the news for flood warnings. It sure is a land of extremes. But beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Hi Scott & Mandy,

Glad to hear your Dad is O.K. Scott, must have given you a scare.

Wish you all the best in Brisbane, loved your blog on the travels to get there and look forward to the next. Love Pat & Reg