Friday, June 8, 2012

Rain in the Sunshine State

Classes are done and finals are still a ways away, so what better way to celebrate than a trip to Queensland! Queensland is in the Northeast of Australia and it is supposedly far warmer than Victoria. It’s even called 'the sunshine state'. My friend Zhi and I had a whole itinerary planned out of sightseeing and adventures.

I stepped off the plane into sunshine and warm weather- the perfect escape from the cold rain that had plagued Melbourne this past week. We got a rental car and headed off to Byron Bay about an hour south of the Gold Coast airport. Todays itinerary featured sea-kayaking and seeing the famous lighthouse on the farthest east point of Australia. The weather had different ideas as it started pouring soon after reaching Byron. Kayaking got cancelled and the lighthouse was near impossible to see through the rain and fog. In an attempt to find the hostel we got lost and ended up in another town. The town of Mulumbimby ended up being really cute and was a good place to get a nice warm cup of chai tea before heading back to Byron.

The next day's weather ended up being a bit nicer and to make up for the lack of kayaking we went snorkeling. There were a bunch of fish and rocks and Zhi even saw a turtle. I didn't see any turtles, but I saw a giant seabird- or rather it saw me- and bit me! I was lying in the water and felt something grab my hand only to look up and see a giant gray bird glaring (yes glaring) at me. Needless to say I swam away quickly before he could get another bite in.

After snorkeling we drove to Springbrook and spent the afternoon hiking. Unfortunately it got dark earlier than expected, so we ended up not making it to our camping sight in Mount Tamborine. Instead we camped at a site in Springbrook. Dinner consisted of bread with nutella, oranges, and fudge for dessert. Sadly there were no campfires allowed at this site. Bright and early the next morning we were off to Mount Tamborine for more hiking. There were some beautiful hikes in the park including some waterfalls.

Surfers Paradise followed. Its a very built up town but has a nice beach. On Wednesday nights they have a night market by the beach. There were a bunch of nice little stalls selling crafts, souvieners, art, and my favorite- logic puzzles- the kind where its metal loops intertwined and you have to separate them. There was also street performer who juggled knives and squeezed his body through a tennis racket.

Because it would be wrong to go to Surfer Paradise and not surf, we took lessons. For two hours I attempted to stand. I got a few good rides and many wipeouts, and had a blast. That evening was a pub for dinner and some of the local XXXX (pronounced four-x) beer while watching NBA then soccer.

The following day dawned rainy and gross, but my excitement could not be dampened because we were going to Dreamworld- one of the best amusement parks in Australia. Throughout the day we went on all but one of the wild thrill rides (one was closed due to rain). They were very fun, but the best part of the day came when I got to hold a baby koala and feed kangaroos! Yes I know those are super touristy things to do, but they were so fun! The koala's name is Button and she was the cutest little thing!! The kangaroos were so fun- they ate right out of my hand.

The final days were spent in Brisbane. Our time there started with a delicious Greek dinner on Boundary Street in West End and the good food continued with amazing pancakes at Brunswick Street Mall at Fat Boys the next day for brunch and a delectable chocolate pizza that night.

 Before returning the car we looked over the city from Mt. Coot Tha. It was foggy at first, but then cleared up and was an amazing view. The rest of the day was spent wandering the Botanical Gardens and museums. The following day was spent looking at the market in South Bank before going to a winter carnival. It was in the upper teens Celsius (around 60 F) but they had made snow and had a snowman competition.

In the afternoon was a rugby match. Brisbane Broncos vs Newcastle Knights. The stadium was packed with the maroon and yellow of the Broncos and every time they scored the stadium errupted in cheers. The game ended with a win for the home team, and we headed off for a comedy show. To get back to the hostel after the show we took the City-Cat boat. It was an amazing view of the city from the water taxi.

The following day was a tour of the city by a Brisbane Greeter. It was cool learning all the history and culure of the place. The day ended with a return flight to Melbourne. Despite some bad weather, this was a pretty awesome break from studying.

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